The New Year's Eve Virtual Pub Is Open

Thanks for a great year, Shakers.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o' auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stoup!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gies a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

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Report: Bush threatens to cancel New Year

WASHINGTON - Party goers were stunned to hear the news that President George W. Bush has announced that he will cancel New Years.

The cancellation would render millions of partiers discontent as they realize that they are not celebrating a new year.

Bush has said that he demands that all paperwork in the White House be destroyed, everyone he's spoken to in the last decade be pardoned, and receive 325,000 shares of Halliburton stock, as well as a couple political appointees.

“It didn’t have to come to this," said Bush from his ranch in Galveston, Connecticut. "But with investigations throttling government, I have to be clear, I will accept no alternatives to my demands."

The President added that it would also be the fault of the Democratic party when bookkeeping got all messed up. “Maybe you can call it, ‘the Second January of 2007, and so forth,” said White House Spokeswoman Dana Perrino.

So while there remains a good chance New Years will be canceled, word from insiders say that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are quickly gathering Congress together for complete and utter capitulation before the clock reaches its fatal hour.

We wish you all a Happy New Year, or, a Happy Second January of 2007.

Crossposted at

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To Arms! To Arms!

Ready the Battledroids! Warm up the Underground Tunneling Death Tanks! Release the hounds! Arm the methane balloon strike force! And for goodness sake, send out the trolls! Omega Force Ron Paul is under attack yet again!

The Ron Paul forces are really amazing. It's incredible how many excuses they can create for their candidate when yet another tidbit of offal is found that tarnishes him. Of course, when the information is a little bit difficult to argue, like Ron taking money from white supremacists, it all boils down to smokescreen; taxes, property ownership, freemarketfreemarketfreemarket, keep your goddamn hands off my money, etc, etc.

I was a little gobsmacked after reading Melissa's post linked above, commenting:

And apparently, even the appearance of integrity and dignity isn't all that important to the Paul campaign. OMG, shoez. OMG, donations. Five hundred bucks? What will that buy, a box of bumper stickers?

Perhaps the reason this thread has not yet been flooded with the Ron Paul Bludgeon Bearers is because even they are a little ashamed about this? One can only hope. One isn't living in fantasyland, but one can hope.
Of course, I'm a foolish, foolish person. The thread was swiftly filled with Ronbots, shame be damned, who refused to even consider the implications behind their candidate happily accepting money from a white supremacist, swallowing the ridiculous "we're using this to spread freedom" excuse hook, line, and stinker.

Well my friends, time heals all wounds. Time also tends to expose more Ron Paul slime. Taken from a 1992 article in "The Ron Paul Policial Report:

Indeed, it is shocking to consider the uniformity of opinion among blacks in this country. Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, and the end of welfare and affirmative action…. Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the “criminal justice system,” I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.

If similar in-depth studies were conducted in other major cities, who doubts that similar results would be produced? We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, but it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings, and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers.
Nice, eh? Apparently, racism is a "sensible political opinion." And I find Ron Paul's apparent puzzlement over African American voters supporting welfare and affirmative action to be, frankly, hilarious.

Of course, I'm sure there will be Ronbots that will insist that he never actually wrote these words, blaming it on some staff writer, knowing deep down in their Ron Paul lovin' hearts that it somehow slipped by their candidate, and he never, never would actually call almost all African American men criminal.

Cue another kick in the goolies by time:

Well, don't say we didn't warn you about Ron Paul's friends.

Here's American National Socialist Workers Party leader Bill White, coming out big for Paul on the far-right Vanguard News Network site on December 20:


I have kept quiet about the Ron Paul campaign for a while, because I didn't see any need to say anything that would cause any trouble. However, reading the latest release from his campaign spokesman, I am compelled to tell the truth about Ron Paul's extensive involvement in white nationalism.

Both Congressman Paul and his aides regularly meet with members of the Stormfront set, American Renaissance, the Institute for Historic Review, and others at the Tara Thai restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, usually on Wednesdays. This is part of a dinner that was originally organized by Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis and Joe Sobran, and has since been mostly taken over by the Council of Conservative Citizens.

I have attended these dinners, seen Paul and his aides there, and been invited to his offices in Washington to discuss policy.

For his spokesman to call white racialism a "small ideology" and claim white activists are "wasting their money" trying to influence Paul is ridiculous. Paul is a white nationalist of the Stormfront type who has always kept his racial views and his views about world Judaism quiet because of his political position.

I don't know that it is necessarily good for Paul to "expose" this. However, he really is someone with extensive ties to white nationalism and for him to deny that in the belief he will be more respectable by denying it is outrageous -- and I hate seeing people in the press who denounce racialism merely because they think it is not fashionable.

Bill White, Commander
American National Socialist Workers Party
Far be it from me to take the word of Bill White(!) as gospel truth (A correction in the New York Times states that good 'ol Jesse Benton says Ron has never "knowingly" met Bill White.), but I would hope there are some Ron Paul supporters out there that would consider the piling-up crap and start asking some serious questions of their candidate.

Well, unless they're racists, of course.

And as for other corrections:

Stormfront, which describes itself as a “white nationalist” Internet community, did not give money to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign; according to Jesse Benton, a spokesman for Paul’s campaign, it was Don Black, the founder of Stormfront, who donated $500 to Paul.
Still. Kept. The. Money.

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On The Road with Duchamp

I am visiting friends for at least half the week maybe longer if it snows. HA! So, posting will be light as DIAL-UP is the only option. THE HORROR!!!! What is this—1997?

Instead of boring you with beautiful pictures of the scenery, I present a more important photo artistic endeavor. Behold the toilets of NC and VA! Since I have a bladder the size of a pea, toilets are more beneficial to my road-trip than any pristine mountain peak.

Tune in tomorrow for taxidermy photos and maybe a snow covered vista shot if those damn meteorologists aren’t lying.

Cheers and have a Happy New Year!

North Carolina Rest Areas

NC toilets

Ward Manor toilet in Virginia

Ward Manor Toilet

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Oh, Mackereally?

All right. If you keep up with the Fatosphere feed—and you do, right?—by now, you've seen plenty of outrage about the new Weight Watchers campaign that goes on about how diets are miserable things that don't work... so you should try Weight Watchers instead.


I saw one of the taxi-topper ads ("Diets are mean!") a couple weeks ago and was nauseated by it, but not quite moved to blog. Other people were already handling the topic quite well, and I didn't think I'd have much to add, for all the sputtering. But last night, I actually watched television in real time for once (damn you, Law & Order franchise, for always and endlessly being there when I feel like sitting in front of the tube!), which meant watching commercials (or at least listening to them while fucking around on the internet). Watching commercials two days before the new year, and the rise of The Resolutionists off their couches.


The thing is, "Diets don't work—but Weight Watchers does!" is hardly a new marketing concept for them. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Weight Watchers' success at convincing the world it's a "lifestyle change," not a "diet," is right up there with the Devil's success at convincing the world he doesn't exist. (Except, you know, I actually am convinced of the latter.) I've been hearing that argument for ages—hell, I made that argument while I was on Weight Watchers—and I'm sure it was around before I was born. I'm sure there were women—and my mother and sister J. were probably two of them—walking around in 1974 talking about how they'd changed their lifestyles to include exercise, eight glasses of water a day, and regular helpings of delicious braaaaains melon mousse.

(Go buy Wendy's book. Buy it lots.)

In fact, the message is so insidious, I'm half willing to believe there were women walking around in 1874 saying, "You know, Essie, I've given up on reducing diets completely, but as soon as someone invents Weight Watchers? I will gladly give them money to help me change my lifestyle. Because that will be way different."

Here's a story: In 1992, my sister M. and I walked into a Nutrisystem outlet and decided we wanted to sign up together. We were finally going to lose weight! Forever! But because I was under 18, and M. was more than 100 pounds over her "ideal" weight, they required us both to get a physician's approval. Fortunately for us, our doctor said, "Nuh-fucking-uh." (Or words to that effect.) Unfortunately, she followed it up with, "Those programs don't work. The only one I'll approve for you is Weight Watchers."

So the message has been around at least that long, anyway. The only difference now is that they're being more explicit about it. Really explicit about it.

In fairness (and through gritted teeth), I will acknowledge that as commercial diet programs go, Weight Watchers is probably the least offensive one out there. But that's kind of like saying I find Chris Matthews less offensive than Bill O'Reilly. It's technically true, but I still wish they'd both STFU. A lot.

Let's take a look at how Weight Watchers is, in their own words*, distinct from a "diet."

Weight Watchers: An integrated approach emphasizing good eating choices, healthy habits, a supportive environment and exercise.

Diets: A focus just on food. Most “diets” tend to ignore exercise and other factors necessary for sustained weight loss.
I'm sorry, what? When was the last time you heard of any weight loss program that focused solely on food and never mentioned that getting off your ass and moving might also be helpful? Probably not since about the seventies—and as we've discussed, if we're going back that far, Weight Watchers is in no freakin' position to talk. I'm pretty sure the WW marketing team would consider Jenny Craig and others of that ilk "diets," yet exercise—not to mention the "support" of a counselor and instructions on food choices—are every bit as much a part of those programs.

Also, what are these mysterious "other factors necessary for sustained weight loss" you speak of? When I was on WW, the only real maintenance advice I got was, "Keep doing what we're telling you to do now for the rest of your natural life. If you get fat again anyway, come back and give us more money. We're always here for you!" Which, not coincidentally, was essentially the same maintenance plan I got from Jenny Craig (of which, I have confessed before, I am actually a lifetime member because, by the second time I did that program, I realized that regain was practically guaranteed, and I am nothing if not a conservative gambler).

Also, how do you reconcile research that shows dieting changes your metabolism to the extent that permanent weight loss involves "maintaining [oneself] in a permanent state of starvation" (and please note that the few people who achieved long-term weight loss in the study referenced "made staying thin their life's work, becoming Weight Watchers lecturers, for example"), with a claim that your totally healthy, balanced, non-punishing, non-obsessive non-diet program holds the key to permanent weight loss?

Weight Watchers: A plan that allows you to eat what you like, with an emphasis on nutrition and advice on staying satisfied by choosing the foods you enjoy.

Diets: Rigid rules you must follow to succeed or requirements that eliminate some foods entirely. Often, you must buy special foods from a specific diet company.
Um, yeah. You can eat what you like on Weight Watchers, but if what you like is, say, a cheeseburger and fries, you're done for the day—and possibly cutting into tomorrow's nutritional allotment—unless you knock yourself out at the gym, in which case you might earn yourself enough POINTS(tm) to have a non-fat yogurt before bed. As long as "what you like" is fruits, vegetables, broth, and whole grains, you can eat yourself silly. But if that was what you most enjoyed eating in large quantities in the first place, why would you need to spend money on learning to make "healthy lifestyle changes"? Despite their ballyhooed emphasis on exercise, does anyone sign up for Weight Watchers just to get advice on gym-going? And despite the fact that there are plenty of fat vegans out there, and some of them undoubtedly want to lose weight, are they really the target market here?

So sure, you can "eat what you like," but you have to eat a whole lot less of it and/or work out maniacally to ostensibly counteract it—otherwise you've failed to stay "on program." Which sounds kinda like a diet to me, but wevs. I mean, at least Weight Watchers is still morally superior to those companies that just want to sell their special diet foods!

Weight Watchers: A sensible plan to help you lose weight at a healthy rate plus the knowledge and info you need to help you keep it off for good.

Diets: Promises of rapid weight loss with little effort, but no information on how to keep the weight off for the long haul.
This is my fucking favorite. Weight Watchers, once again, will sell you the secret to keeping the weight off for good. That's why it's not a diet!

Well, as someone who was unwittingly giving Weight Watchers money until a few months ago—because I completely forgot I'd signed up for their online program again about a year and a half two years ago** (until they sent me a notice saying that credit card had expired) —I'm here to tell you I never got the magic secret. What I got for my money was access to a diet plan; no more, no less. And—as I said above—virtually the exact same advice on nutrition, exercise, and long-term maintenance I'd gotten from every other diet plan I tried, all of which is available for free on about eleventy billion websites.

The only thing you really get from WW, or any of its competitors, is a specific structure for your efforts. If that's what you want, go nuts. It's your money. And it's certainly true that some people respond well to the WW structure and do lose weight steadily on it. I myself lost 40 lbs. on Weight Watchers pretty easily, as diets go. Found it all again within a few years, but hey, that's just me and my lazy, non-committed, hopelessly gluttonous ass, right?

Uh huh. Except, do me a favor. Go click on the "Success Stories" section on their website. I won't link, but go ahead, I'll wait.

Do you see that asterisk underneath the "after photos"? The one next to the words "RESULTS NOT TYPICAL."


Weight Watchers, according to their website, is "unique." It's different from all those other diet plans—in fact, it's not one! And one of the main reasons it's different is that they will give you "the knowledge and info you need to help you keep it off for good." But for some strange, inexplicable reason, they still have to include the same disclaimer as every other diet program that touts its success with pictures of former fatties. The disclaimer that says, in slightly fewer words, We cannot legally claim that someone who lost weight and kept it off represents the typical consumer of our product, even though the entire purpose of our product is to help people lose weight and keep it off. Or, in still other words, In a majority of cases, our product does not do what it is meant to do.

Oddly enough, they still include that same disclaimer, even though this is not like all those other programs that include it. Even though this is the one that will teach you how to lose weight and keep it off for good! Somehow, despite having discovered the magic secret to permanent weight loss, they are still not willing and/or legally permitted to claim unreservedly that it works for most people.

Weird, huh?

Weight Watchers: A time-tested approach informed by analyzing years of scientific studies.

Diets: “Proof” often based on one scientific study designed to support the diet’s claims.
Okay, first, how "time-tested" can their approach be, when only thirty years ago, their approach was fucking Mackerelly? And when the Weight Watchers program I did in 2003 was a different program from what's offered now (though what I did was very similar to the current "Flex" plan)? One of the slogans in the new campaign is, "If diets work, why do we need a new one every 5 minutes?" To which I respond, if Weight Watchers works, why does the whole program get revamped every five minutes?

And... *snicker* and... *BWAH* and... *wipes away tear*... I'm sorry, did Weight Watchers just slag off other diet programs for basing their claims on studies designed to support them? I need to go lie down.

Weight Watchers: Flexible food plans that can adapt to any lifestyle or unique needs.

Diets: Little consideration for you as an individual, with just one approach to suit everyone’s needs.
That's right. Weight Watchers doesn't offer "just one approach." They've got TWO! The "Count our fancy POINTS instead of the calories and fat they represent!" plan, OR the "If you're already a vegan who doesn't eat sugar, you'll never have to count anything again!" plan. SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE.

That's it. That's their whole list of ways Weight Watchers is different from "diets." On the other hand, here are a few things the program involves that bear some small similarity to "diets":

~ Restricting fat and calories
~ Exercising for the express purpose of being permitted to consume more fat and calories without breaking the rules
~ Focusing on weight loss as the primary goal
~ Weekly weigh-ins
~ Rewards and encouragement for losing weight
~ Zero guarantee that the program will help any given individual lose weight at all, let alone permanently
~ Warnings that people who do lose weight and keep it off are not "typical" of those who use the program
~ Warnings that "only permanent lifestyle changes—such as making healthful food choices and increasing physical activity—promote long-term weight loss." Promote long-term weight loss, you'll note. Not guarantee it. Not even cause it. Merely promote it.
~ Blame placed entirely on the individual, not the program (much less the myth of long-term weight loss being possible for most people)—if permanent weight loss does not follow from adherence to the program.

But it's not a diet. No siree!

Yeah, pull the other one.

And you know what? That's not even the worst part. The claim that Weight Watchers is not a diet isn't even what got me off my fat, lazy ass to blog about this—like I said, that claim has been around for as long as I can remember. What got me was the tag line on the TV ads: "Diets don't work—but Weight Watchers does!"

From Merriam-Webster's definition of "work:

transitive verb

1: to bring to pass : effect <work miracles>
(I swear, I'm not even making up the "work miracles" part.)

So, what is it that diets are supposed to bring to pass again? Weight loss—ideally permanent—right? And to that end, the ads claim, Weight Watchers works!

Just not... typically.

That's the part that makes my fucking blood boil (which doesn't burn as many calories as you'd think). They're claiming they have different results from those awful "diets" they're nothing like, which... um, where's the proof of that again? The five-year or longer study? The success story that comes without a "Results not typical" disclaimer?


You know what's not a diet, what's a feasible "permanent lifestyle change," and what actually works, if you go by measures like cholesterol, blood pressure, increased physical activity, improved eating habits, lower rates of depression, and higher self-esteem? Health at Every Size. And it doesn't cost a thing.

If you want to make a New Year's resolution to eat better and exercise more, that's fantastic. More power to you. Hell, I'm making the same resolution, even though I already do okay with those things—I can always do better, and I always feel better the more I do those things. But here's the part of the latest Weight Watchers ads you should take to heart: Diets don't work. Diets are mean. Stop dieting. Start living.

Fat acceptance activists have been saying those things for years. So in a way, it's actually really nice to see those words splashed all over billboards and cabs and TV—just as long as nobody forgets that the people spending gazillions to put them out there right now are the same ones who brought you Mackerelly, who brought you once-a-week liver, who brought you food scales sitting ominously on the counter for years, and who are now bringing you nothing but calorie-counting in sheep's clothing.

Diets don't work. You can just stop listening to the ads right there.

*I'm not linking to them, but you can easily find my source for this on their website, the url of which is exactly what you'd expect it to be.

**[I edited this after doing the math and realizing I'd been paying them for over two friggin years, not 18 months. The rest of this note stands, however.] Just in case anyone was still laboring under the delusion that I'm an old, unwavering hand at this whole body acceptance thing. Hell, I haven't even fully accepted my body for as long as I kept the weight off after my diets yet. I guess we'll have to see if I'm still here in 5 years, huh?


Open Wide...

Womb for Rent

"I used to think of my body as an instrument, of pleasure, or a means of transportation, or an implement for the accomplishment of my will… Now the flesh arranges itself differently. I'm a cloud, congealed around a central object, the shape of a pear, which is hard and more real than I am and glows red within its translucent wrapping."—Offred considers her fate and function in The Handmaid's Tale.

* * *

Commercial surrogacy is the latest job being outsourced to India, as dozens of women just in the western city of Anand are currently carrying babies for couples from around the globe.

Commercial surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002, as it is in many other countries, including the United States. But India is the leader in making it a viable industry rather than a rare fertility treatment. Experts say it could take off for the same reasons outsourcing in other industries has been successful: a wide labor pool working for relatively low rates.

…"It raises the factor of baby farms in developing countries," said Dr. John Lantos of the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Mo.
Gee, ya think?

Dr. Nayna Patel, who runs a clinic matching willing surrogates with infertile couples in Anand, to which young women are lining up to serve as surrogates, naturally defends her dubious matchmaking service by pointing out what a pragmatic solution it is to both infertility and poverty: "There is this one woman who desperately needs a baby and cannot have her own child without the help of a surrogate. And at the other end there is this woman who badly wants to help her (own) family. If this female wants to help the other one ... why not allow that? ... It's not for any bad cause. They're helping one another to have a new life in this world."

That makes it all sound pretty darn great, and it's hard to argue with the justification employed by the surrogates themselves, like Suman Dodia, "a pregnant, baby-faced 26-year-old" who will use the $4,500 she's paid to serve as a surrogate for a British couple to buy a house, having earned in nine months what it would have taken her 15 years to earn on her $25-a-month maid's salary. That's one hell of a money-making opportunity.

The question, as ever, is why that is the only/best opportunity for women to make a decent wage. It's deeply upsetting that the best opportunities for women, especially uneducated and/or poor women, inevitably involve selling their bodies to strangers. I'm truly a bit nauseous at the vaguely celebratory tone underlying this development, as well; it's evidently seen, in some way, as empowering, because women have graduated from selling their cunts to be used by paying men to selling their uteri to be used by paying couples. Huzzah. Three cheers for progress.

Inevitably, there will emerge a luxury class of surrogates—visit a "high class" hooker to have your fun; visit a "high class" surrogate to start your family—and as soon as it happens, the hard-working street surrogates of India will see their fees depressed, and, in a country with a tragically high maternal death rate, they'll be taking ever greater risks for ever less money. The ominous threat of baby farms will look like a naïve dream compared to the dirty, corrupt, dangerous baby factories that will be the inexorable result of unchecked, free-market commercial surrogacy. More huzzah. Three cheers for capitalism.

There's a train barreling down the tracks here, and I don't know what to do to stop it. All I can say is: This is bad. This is wrong. This should be discouraged. No good will come of it.

And there are those who will ask me how I can deny Suman Dodia her house, circumstances being what they are. I don't know what to say to that—except, again, why is this her only option? What are we doing to make sure her daughters have a real choice?

Open Wide...

Huckabee: For and Against Negativity

This is the kind of campaign brilliance we don't get to see every day:

"Conventional political wisdom is that you must counter-punch," the former Arkansas governor said. "When you get hit you should hit back. And every bit of advice I have been given says that is exactly what we should do." Huckabee explained that he, indeed, prepared and produced a TV spot attacking Romney, sent it to local TV stations but had just given the directive to pull it from airing. "This morning I ordered them to hold the ads," Huckabee said. "From now we will run only ads that say why I should be president not why Mitt Romney shouldn't be president."

Then, amid loud gasps and laughter from the more than 150 reporters on hand, Huckabee announced he would show the assembled press the same ad. As dozens of TV cameras whirred, and after two false starts, the 30-second spot assaulting Romney's record was shown in full. The tag line of the spot ended with the narrator saying of Romney: "If a man's dishonest trying to get the job, he'll be dishonest on the job"
Other candidates flip-flop. Mike, on the other hand, takes two opposing positions simultaneously. And that's the kind of leadership he hopes to offer our country.

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Support The Troops! (Use them to win concert tickets)

It has been argued that The Powers That Be may, in fact, view our soldiers as simply a means to an end. However, I don't think even they would expect the end to be tickets to a Hannah Montana (bo bannah, banana-vana fo fannah, fee fi mo mannah, Hannah!) concert:

GARLAND, Texas - An essay that won a 6-year-old girl four tickets to a Hannah Montana concert began with the powerful line: “My daddy died this year in Iraq.”

While gripping, it wasn’t true — and now the girl may lose her tickets after her mom acknowledged to contest organizers it was all a lie.
What a perfect example of the disconnect between the public and what's going in Iraq. I'm extremely grateful that I have not been in the position of having a family member serve in Iraq and come back home in a box. Consequently, I don't know how it would feel to read about some stupid asshole fabricating the death of a loved family member for the sole purpose of getting fucking concert tickets to a show that no self-respecting person should even be attending.

But I can guess.

When asked for an explanation, here's what the proud mother had to say for herself:
The mother had told company officials that the girl’s father died April 17 in a roadside bombing in Iraq, company spokeswoman Robyn Caulfield said.

“We did the essay and that’s what we did to win,” Priscilla Ceballos, the mother, said in an interview with Dallas TV station KDFW. “We did whatever we could do to win.”
To quote myself, "I guess that is what you can expect from a society that sees everything like a football game. Win at any expense." In this case, winning was at the expense of dead soldiers.

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Anger Management

I just admitted to Todd, in the course of a conversation about our respective relationships, that when I am really, really angry, which isn't very often, I slam Mr. Shakes' and my bedroom door three times. Slam! as I walk into the bedroom. And then I open it and slam! it shut two more times, just to get it all out of my system. I'm not proud of this, mind you. But there it is.

And here's why Todd has been my best friend since we were angst-drenched goth teens half a lifetime ago: Because he replied, "Nice. I love slamming doors when I'm mad. I'd love to one day slam a door so hard it explodes into a million pieces!"

OMG. Totally. What a satisfying image!

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Fun With Polls free polls
If you were voting in a Democratic primary today, for whom would you vote?
Joe Biden Hillary Clinton Christopher Dodd John Edwards Mike Gravel Dennis Kucinich Barack Obama Bill Richardson free polls
If you were voting in a Republican primary today, for whom would you vote?
Rudy Giuliani Mike Huckabee Duncan Hunter Alan Keyes John McCain Ron Paul Mitt Romney Fred Thompson

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McCain (Still) K Street

Almost two years ago, clean government advocacy groups were complaining that McCain, who had long talked the talk about lobbying reform, was playing "a smaller leadership role on the issue than they had expected." He wanted to curry favor with the lobbyists in advance of a presidential run, you see, so he abandoned the hardline for a more, ahem, receptive attitude, because that's the way mavericks roll and shit.

So it's no real surprise that he's now K Street's Man.

McCain's appearance at the Deer Valley event, arranged by J.P. Morgan Vice Chairman James B. Lee Jr., a top McCain fundraiser, put him in a room with the chief executives of companies such as General Electric, Xerox and Sony. It was, Lee said, "a chance for him to let them see him for who he is and possibly decide to support him." The effort paid off: J.P. Morgan executives have donated $56,250 to McCain's campaign, two-thirds of which came after his Utah appearance. And his visit there was quickly followed up by dozens of smaller private meetings with corporate executives in New York City arranged by leading Wall Street figures.

"We tried to get him around to a lot of those kinds of things," said McCain campaign manager Rick Davis. "We were very much in the friend-making business."
That's the understatement of the year. McCain, who continually brags about his reform efforts against lobbyist money corrupting Beltway politics, is, hilariously, the most lobbied-up candidate in the race, with 32 "lobbyist bundlers" passing him donations, almost twice as many as Clinton.

McCain's campaign has also been guided by lobbyists. Davis, the campaign manager, is a former lobbyist who represented major telecommunications companies. The campaign's senior adviser is Charles R. Black Jr., chairman of BKSH & Associates, which represents drug companies, an oil company, an automaker, a telecommunications company, defense contractors and the steel industry, among others.

Former congressman Tom Loeffler (R-Tex.) was brought in to shore up the campaign's finances and operations. Yet he maintains his day job as chairman of the Loeffler Group, whose clients include oil, auto and telecommunications companies, as well as a tobacco firm and an airline.

Other occasional McCain advisers include lobbyists Timothy P. McKone of AT&T, Robert S. Aiken of Phoenix-based Pinnacle West Capital, John W. Timmons of the Cormac Group and John Green of Ogilvy Government Relations. Also at Ogilvy is a major McCain fundraiser, Wayne L. Berman.

Their firms' clients have been a significant source of contributions to McCain's campaign. Executives for the clients of Ogilvy Government Relations gave at least $271,000 for McCain's presidential bid. Loeffler Group client employees donated $118,500, according to a Washington Post analysis. BKSH clients' executives gave $24,000.
Also hilariously, McCain's lobbyist campaign manager suggests that, despite all the lobbytacular lobbyosity of the campaign, McCain's position on lobbying reform hasn't changed, that he can't be bought by lobbyists, that the lobbyists know that he can't be bought, that "If you give to him, you know there's no quid pro quo. People give to him because they want him to be president of the United States. They can't be motivated by any other reason." Of course not.

And wherever would they get such an idea, anyway? If McCain says he isn't held in thrall to lobbyists, then he isn't, because everyone knows he's the engineer of the Straight Talk Express! Oh, pardon me—the all-new Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack Brand Straight Talk ExpressTM.

"John—put on the chicken head or we'll lose the sponsorship! It's part of the deal!"

As I was saying, I've no idea where lobbyists could have gotten the idea that McCain was a tool. Err, their tool.

McCain's conduct as chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee between 1997 and 2004 has occasionally raised questions about whether he took actions to benefit major contributors to his political network, which included his Senate and presidential campaign committees, his Straight Talk political action committee and a foundation that he helped start called the Reform Institute.

In 2003 and 2004, for example, McCain took two actions favorable to Cablevision, the cable TV company, while Davis, his chief political strategist at the time, solicited the company for a total of $200,000 for the Reform Institute, a tax-exempt group that advocated an end to outsize political donations.

Davis solicited an initial donation from Cablevision chief Charles Dolan a week after Dolan testified before the Senate Commerce Committee in favor of a position backed by McCain. Davis said there was no connection between the testimony and the solicitation.

Less than a year later, McCain wrote to the Federal Communications Commission recommending Cablevision's position on cable pricing, citing Dolan by name. Cablevision followed soon thereafter with a second $100,000 donation, the Associated Press reported.
Huh. What a coinkydink.

Beep beep!

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Monday Blogwhoring

Sock it to me, Shakers!

Recommended Reading:

Blue Gal: Feel the Fredmentum

Digby: Bipartisan Zombies

Lambert: Obama Stump Speech Strategy of Conciliation Considered Harmful

Jorge Garcia: It Was a Christmas Miracle

Also: Res & Co. are moving, so update ye olde blogrollz.

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Huckabee the Dominionist

During his appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, Mike Huckabee not only made clear his retrofuck bigotry against the LGBTQ community, but also took a moment to demolish any doubts that he is, in fact, a Dominionist.

Republican Mike Huckabee said Sunday he would not back down from a 1998 statement in which he said he hoped Baptists would "answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ."

The ordained Baptist minister made that remark at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention nearly a decade ago. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Huckabee said that "it was a speech made to a Christian gathering, and certainly that would be appropriate to be said to a gathering of Southern Baptists."
Huckabee cannot seriously be arguing that assuring any audience "taking back the nation" for their particular interest is defensible. Or "certainly appropriate." By his logic, it's thusly acceptable to say in front of an audience of white supremacists that one hopes they will "answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for the white man." I highly doubt he would defend such an exhortation, yet he's willing to engage in the same type of exclusionary rhetoric that suggests unique ownership of the nation, without regard for the message communicated to its millions of non-Christian citizens.

America doesn't belong to any one group. I honestly cannot think of a more profound disqualification for the American presidency than the failure to acknowledge that liberty and justice for all aren't mere words, but a basic principle of this nation the president swears to defend.

Huckabee talks a good game:

"The key issue of real faith is that it never can be forced on someone,” Huckabee said [on MTP]. “And never would I want to use the government institutions to impose mine or anybody else's faith or to restrict."
But just two weeks ago, Huckabee was in Houston for a fundraiser (costing up to $4,600 a couple) held at the home of Steven Hotze, "a leader in the highly conservative Christian Reconstruction movement," and hosted by a committee including Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America, which organized the War on Christians Conference, and the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, which runs the website Scarborough, who calls himself a "Christocrat," is also the author of Liberalism Kills Kids and is fondly remembered for arguing against the compulsory inoculation of girls against the cancer-causing HPV, because mandatory vaccinations "signify that God's moral law regarding sex outside of marriage can be transgressed without consequence."

Huckabee claims that he is not a Dominionist, but he hangs out with some of the most prominent Dominionists in America. Huckabee says that he would never use government institutions to impose a particular faith, but his positions on cultural issues like reproductive rights, same-sex unions, stem cell research, etc. all curiously fall in line with a very specific Christian conservative faith and can be defended only with religious doctrine specific to that faith. Either Huckabee's lying to his evangelical base, or he's lying to everyone else. One way or another, he's a liar. And that's not very becoming of a Baptist minister. Especially not one who wants to reclaim the nation for Christ.

Perhaps he knows as little about his religion as he appears to know about his country.

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Pretty Bird Woman House will have a new home.

A new energy fills Pretty Bird Woman House; the staff does not spend its time trying to figure out how to make ends meet for tomorrow, unable to see how they can function next week, let alone the next month. Already things are falling into place. They have a bid in on a house across from the police station; if that does not work out for any reason, they have other buildings in mind.

Georgia is expanding the services offered by Pretty Bird Woman House - she has applied for two new grants and wants to hire two advocates who will specialize in working with victims of sexual assault. And Pretty Bird Woman House has a new volunteer advocate. Those of you who followed this story will remember her. Back in October Georgia told us about the situation this remarkable woman was in:

I recently attended a court sentencing of man that pled guilty to a charge of sexual assault against a Native American Woman and the Mayor of his town testified that he was an up standing community member and that the community would except him back with open arms and to just give him probation.
That's right; the new advocate for victims at Pretty Bird Woman House is the woman who was raped by this man. She is completing this circle and as part of her healing is reaching out to help others.
You can still contribute here; they will, of course, always be in need of funds, as shelters ever are. You can also find in the sidebar here non-monetary items of which the shelter is in need.

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In S.C., Mitt Romney's pro-Mormon Christmas card a sign of times to come

Via Dvorak Uncensored, we see that that a ruthless, holiday theme attack was perpetrated against Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The card make use of potentially racist and controversial Mormon rhetoric like:

"And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white." On the card, "fair and white" are in a bolder, larger font and on a separate line.
If you enjoy things like demolition derbies, Jackass and just about anything on E!, well you'll love the 2008 race to the White House. War is in the air (which is good as it takes the other pesky war off the headlines) and the attack is to be prolongated, morally reprehensible, and stupid.

Read more of the story.


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RIAA continues its Keystone Kops chase of downloaders

You can literally hear the Benny Hill theme music in the background as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) continues to do everything wrong, or at least three moves late in its battle against its own consumers:

Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

"I couldn't believe it when I read that," says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. "The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation."
So there you have it. If you buy a CD, you better not copy it to your computer, even solely for personal use and there's no file-sharing programming on your computer. At least that's what the RIAA keeps getting at, even though it has of yet brought it as a charge.

This fight will be a long and complicated one, but the way the RIAA is fighting it, it may be an eternal battle:

The RIAA's legal crusade against its customers is a classic example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed. Four years of a failed strategy has only "created a whole market of people who specifically look to buy independent goods so as not to deal with the big record companies," Beckerman says. "Every problem they're trying to solve is worse now than when they started."

Crossposted at

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Mighty Hercules

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Sorry, Homosexuals, No Sex For You

My creationMike Huckabee thinks that God may have made homosexuals the way they are, and therefore, you'd best keep your legs crossed until death:

On NBC's Meet The Press this morning, host Tim Russert asked former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee if he believed "people are born gay or choose to be gay?" "I don't know whether people are born that way," responded Huckabee, "but one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice."

Huckabee conceded that "people who are gay say that they're born that way," but added that he believed that "how we behave and how we carry out that behavior" is more important.

For the record, shooting at reporters is perfectly cromulent behavior. Having sex with someone of the same sex as you? Awful. To be fair, Huckabee thinks all sex outside of marriage is sinful. He just doesn't think homosexuals should be able to ever get married. At least to each other.

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The 50 Most Loathsome People in America

I really can't argue with this list, although I disagree with some of the details.

Also, where's Hitch?

Update: Guess I should have read it more closely. In my defense, I haven't slept for two days. My apologies.

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John Cusack: Nicest Man in Hollywood

Because "You're talking about Kevin Spacey, you tommyrotted twitbrain!" would not have been out of order at any point past about halfway through this exchange.

[H/T Michael K. Transcript below.]

Interviewer: How are you doing?

John Cusack: Nice to see you.

I: It's so nice to meet you.

JC: It's my pleasure.

I: It's funny—I actually was just text messaging with a friend, because I'm missing class right now…

JC: You are?

I: …and —my film class—and it's so funny because they're watching American Beauty today, and analyzing it.

JC: American Beauty?

I: Mm-hmm.

JC: What's funny about that?

I: You were in that.

JC: No I wasn't.

I: American Beauty?

JC: Nope.

I: What's the one with the rose petals?

JC: I'm not in that.

I: That's not you?

JC: No.

I: Really?!

JC: No.

I: Really?!

JC: Swear to god.

I: Am I just very confused?

JC: I think you are.

I: I think I am.

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Only From The New Yorker

The year in Newsbreaks, the little stories that fill in the bottom of the page and make reading the magazine that much more enjoyable.

Clay turds for toddlers, gardening and debauchery, and more discoveries in newspapers large and small.
Here's one of my favorites:

From the Key West Citizen.

A busy store at 425 Front Street is seeking honest, responsible, reliable & ambitious employees for part-time & full time positions. Good salary with advancement opportunities for the right person. Job duties include retail sales, stocking & cleaning. Previous sales experience, with register responsibilities, preferred. Spanish as a 2nd language is a plus. References will be verified. If you get drunk, do drugs, call in sick or just plain don’t show up for work don’t bother applying; you probably have already worked here.
That is so Key West, and that is so The New Yorker.

Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.

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A Legend in His Own Mind

The only living boy in New Hampshire has got nothing to do today but smile. And talk crap:

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain joked Friday that given his campaign's ups and downs, he's shown the stamina of the last man on Earth.

"I've been declared dead in this campaign on five or six occasions. I won't refer to a recent movie I saw, but I think I am legend," he told reporters, referring to the film in which Will Smith stars as the last man on Earth.
Smoove, McCain. Once again, you have illustrated that you are, if nothing else, the master of subtlety. "I won't refer to my favorite urban sitcom of the 1990s, but I am the Fresh Prince of Pennsylvania Avenue!"

"Somehow we've had a Lazarus-like experience," McCain told supporters at his campaign headquarters. "I think it's because I've been telling the truth. I've been telling people the truth whether I thought that's what they wanted or not."
Actually, the old man was closer with his Legend reference—because the only thing of any conceivable value he's done during the campaign is not be a cross-dressing philanderer, a lying dog-torturer in magic underpants, a virulently misogynist theocrat, or a dimestore Reagan disappointment. He's not the last man standing; just the least objectionable one.

Which technically makes him more Bachelorette contestant than Legendary, but I'll leave him to his fever-dreams.

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J.K. Rowling Admits to the Inevitable

Authors fall in love with their characters, the good ones and bad ones alike. It's understandable; if done right, a character will jump off the page and take over his or her own destiny while the writer is writing, in a way that can be almost spooky. When a writer completes a novel, there is always a curiosity, a wondering of where things go from here; it's natural, and indeed it's almost inevitable.

Write seven very highly-regarded novels that, not for nothing, also sold a boatload of copies? You'll find yourself wondering anew about what the fates have in store for the characters and the universe you created. And your publisher, your fans, and indeed everyone, everywhere will encourage you to follow the trail where it leads.

This is not always a good instinct; one need only look at the dreck Robert A. Heinlein put out in his declining years to see that some stories shouldn't be told. But it's not always a bad instinct, either. Madeline L'Engle's stories about Polyhymnia O'Keefe are well worth the read, and even if they're not quite A Wrinkle in Time, frankly what is?

J.K. Rowling is done with the Harry Potter series. We all know that. Except...well, there's room for a lot more exploring, isn't there? Yes, You-Know-Who is dead, but does that mean there will be no more dangers in that world? No more adventures? I'm sure Rowling wonders what kind of man Albus S. Potter grows up to be, or what kind of parent Ron is, or whether Draco is just the pale man at the train station or something more. And at last, she's admitting it:

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has strongly hinted for the first time that she could write an eighth book in the series.

Rowling, 42, admits she has 'weak moments' when she feels she will pen another novel about the boy wizard.


"If - and it's a big if - I ever write an eighth book, I doubt that Harry would be the central character. I feel I've already told his story.

"But these are big ifs. Let's give it ten years."

Oh, I've no doubt Rowling will leave the wizarding world for some time. And she can write whatever she wants to -- a book of gibberish with her name on it will sell millions of units -- but I've also no doubt that she'll curve 'round again to it, in a decade or so. Perhaps it will prove to be a foolish side-trip; no doubt some fans will grumble that is was no matter the quality of the book. Or it could ignite a new series that draws fans back, and then some. It's impossible to say, but I do know that I'm intrigued by the possibility, and I'm looking forward to what comes of it, when that day does come.

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Potty Mouth!!!

Congratulations to my friend Steve Benen, who has officially joined the great, unwashed ranks of Extreme Leftists who have been accused by total wankers of having a "potty mouth."

If you're thinking, "Steve Benen? Of The Carpetbagger Report? The ubiquitous Steve Benen, Hardest Working Blogger in the Blogosphere, whose smart and inimitably even-tempered work can be found at Crooks and Liars, the TPM empire, the Huffington Post, the Blog Report, and guesting for Drum at Washington Monthly? That Steve Benen?"

Yes. That Steve Benen. Big old potty-mouth. And finally someone has noticed what a purveyor of filth he is! It's about time.

I just hope Steve doesn't get too big for his britches after this long overdue acknowledgement of his vile potty-mouthery. After all, no one's yet called him an internet assassin yet.

But keep plugging away, Steve. Your time will come!

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My God, He Never Took Middle School Hygiene! He Never Saw the Propaganda Film!

So Andrew Sullivan points us to an interview with David Levy, the author of Love + Sex With Robots. This is a book wherein Levy postulates that people will, some day, be having sex with robots.

First of all, we all know where this leads.


Okay, I'll admit it, part of me just was looking for an excuse to post that snippet from Futurama. But only part. Part of me thinks Levy is absolutely right -- but only partly.

Humans will have sex with robots; indeed, humans already are. Robots need not be anthropomorphic; very few are. Most fit the standard Webster's second definition for robot: "a device that automatically performs complicated often repetitive tasks." I would wager you a friendly bet that over half of the women reading this have, in fact, had sex with a robot that fits this definition -- a vibrator, or other electrically-powered device.

I bring up vibrators because I think they give us a good roadmap to the future. Some vibrators are, in many ways, superior to the penis in bringing arousal to women. The penis as constructed lacks any way to stimulate the clitoris; this is a restriction on form that vibrators need not suffer from. And yet most women would rather have an actual human partner than a vibrator. Why? If you have to ask why, you've gone too deep into believing that sex is a transaction. Come back out to humanity, and you realize that women will take men and their inferior penises or women and their non-existent penises because they're humans, and humans seek contact and love with other humans.

No doubt, as anthropomorphic sexual robots are built, there will be a market for them; I mean, the Real Doll sells, and that gives you all the real action of having sex with a corpse (which, for the men who by them, is probably all they're looking for anyhow). And they'll sell to men and women alike. I assume you'll also be able to rent them, though I'd make sure they were sterilized first.

And there will be all sorts of interesting ripples through society as they move out into the general public. I think you can make good cases for female sexbots making objectification of women more or less problematic; you can also make good cases for male sexbots having the same effect on men.

But while I can see these being quite popular, I can't see them replacing interpersonal relationships. Why? Because masturbation has yet to supplant interpersonal relationships, despite tens of thousands of years of practice and a constant technological improvement in aids to that end. You can masturbate with a robot that appears, in every way, to be human. That moves like a human, that reacts like a human, at least in every way that matters. But when coitus is done, and you lie back in bed, you can't ask the robot if it was good for them. You can't ask what you should try next time. You can't talk about where you'd like to go the next day, or what you should name your first daughter, or why you're grateful that of all the people you could have been with, you're with them.

Sex is good, and I'm a strong proponent of it. But sex is only part of a relationship. And while sexbots will sell -- and sell well -- they will never replace love. Indeed, they won't even replace sex.

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2008: the next brokered convention?

The consensus is that the front-loading of the primaries and caucuses means that both nominees will be chosen very early, perhaps by the end of day on 5 February 2008. That outcome is certainly possible, and maybe probable if the mass media is able to convince early voters to line up behind a candidate. After all, it's been many decades since a convention chose a nominee.

However, that's far from a certain outcome. The normal process of weeding out candidates as funds dry up may not apply in a short sprint. There's no clear frontrunner (certainly not on the GOP side, more arguable on the Democratic side) for the media to talk up. Regional strengths may negate or soften the impact of early wins.

Finally, the process of choosing delegates may have an impact. The Democrats nationwide award delegates proportionally, with a 15% floor to get any state's delegates. The GOP uses a modified winner-take-all to award each state's delegates. It seems the GOP process helps a regionally strong candidate stay in longer, but ultimately puts the decision in the hands of the larger states. It'll be fascinating to see if the differences cause one party to settle on a nominee earlier than the other.

Today, I'd put the odds of at least one brokered convention to be 1 in 3, with the GOP most likely due to their very weak field. Maybe it is the pipe dream of a political junkie, but wouldn't it be fun to watch?

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It's Always the Woman's Fault

In comments, carp points us to a truly sickening story from Illinois, that shows us once again how no matter the situation, rapists will always, always claim the bitch was leadin' them on:

A retired Canadian pastor likely on track to leave a McHenry County courtroom Friday with probation for sexually abusing a 4-year-old girl instead found himself behind bars after he told a judge that the girl acted sexually provocative toward him.

“I tried to avoid the encounters. On a couple of times, I thought I was being sexually harassed,” Kenneth R. Cooke, 73, told a judge. “I think there is psychological evidence today that children, even in their younger years, could become interested in sex.”
At least this time there's a happy ending:
After listening to Cooke’s statements, Judge Joseph Condon sentenced him to three years in prison. Condon said the sentence was based partly on Cooke’s attitude.

“That just boggles my mind,” Condon said to Cooke. “You are willing to say whatever is convenient to you and what is most likely to release the pressure of these proceedings against you.”
It would be nice if the rape of a four-year-old drew more than eighteen months in prison, which is what Cooke will serve as long as he behaves himself. Still, it's nice to see that the line didn't work this time, at least on the judge. Of course, Cooke still has something to go home to when he leaves the big house:
Cooke’s attorney, William Stanton, asked for Cooke to receive probation, a likely sentence considering Cooke’s lack of criminal history, age and health.

“He still remains a highly regarded member of his church and community,” Stanton said.
Of course he does. I mean, the poor guy got tripped up by a sexy four-year-old. Who could blame him?

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And All Was Right With the World

Bill Kristol Wrong IllustratedThe New York Times, as we all know, is the leading weapon in the left's ongoing attempts at creating a liberal fascist state in America. If left unchecked, the Times would create a horrible world where people are forced to have safe food, the government requires people to have adequate housing, and the jackbooted thugs in our government do the worst thing imaginable -- raise taxes by a few percentage points on the rich. Truly a dystopic world, and that's why it's a good thing that there continue to be people within the Times working to bring the newspaper down from within, lest that horrible future come to pass.

How else to explain the fact that the Times has now hired Bill Kristol to be its new columnist? I mean, it's a truly shrewd decision; Kristol's record of being wrong about absolutely everything, all the time, can only do serious damage to the Times credibility. I mean, Kristol's the guy who said of Iraq, "There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular." That's a statement so wrong it can serve as the very illustration of wrong, and yet for Kristol, it's just par for the course.

I mean, he also said, in April of 2003, "The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably. But these are only two battles. We are only at the end of the beginning in the war on terror and terrorist states." Or in 2004, "What the Bush administration did say--and what so many reporters seem to have trouble understanding--is that Iraq and al Qaeda had a relationship that, by its very existence, posed a potential threat to the United States." Or in 2005, "All this made me think the 2006 elections could result in a Speaker Pelosi. I now think that unlikely. Pelosi's endorsement today of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq makes the House Democrats the party of defeat, the party of surrender." Or in 2006, "Once every twenty five years some bridge falls down unexpectedly due to engineering problems and it is unfortunate obviously but the idea that the whole country is crumbling is not, I think, credible."

He's the King of Wrong. He makes Bob Shrum look like the Oracle at Delphi. And now he's going to be writing at the Times. And the right is that much closer to destroying the Gray Lady, and bringing about victory for the conservatives for all eternity.

I mean, that's gotta be the plan. The only other possibility is that someone actually thinks Bill Kristol's ramblings are still worth money. But that would be insane.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

Welcome to Feyblade's Barrel House, Shakers!

Tonight, we are the guests of the night elf rogue Feyblade,
otherwise known as Mr. Shakes' WOW toon, who can be found on
the Bronzebeard server slaying things with his enormous cock
sword. The drinks are on Feyblade this evening, so belly
up to the bar and name your poison!

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What Women Want

[The wonderful Jon Swift has put together an amazing collection of bloggers' own best blog posts of 2007. When Jon asked me to send my best, this was the first one that came to mind; even if it isn't strictly my best, it's one of my favorites—showcasing a bit of rantiness, my penchant for creating wry graphics, and intersecting at politics and feminism. So here it is again, "What Women Want," originally published August 31.]

What Women Want is the title of a piece in today's Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal, authored by WSJ editorial board member Kimberley Strassel and subtitled "How the GOP can woo the ladies." It gets off to a banging start with its opening paragraph:

Hillary has herself. Barack has Oprah. John Edwards has his wife, Elizabeth. And what secret weapon do Republican presidential candidates have to curry the all-important "women's vote"?
Right out of the box, I can tell I'm going love Ms. Strassel, given that she subscribes to one of my favorite theories of politics: Vagina Voting. That's the theory which proffers that Vagina-Americans (aka "Women") are politically attracted to the closest vagina. Hence, all women should want to vote for Hillary. And if Hillary weren't in the race, they'd want to vote for John Edwards, because of Elizabeth—and also because John Edwards, what with his hair fetish, is practically one big vagina himself.

I love this theory for lots of reasons, like how it presumes women don't have brains capable of mustering the tiniest reserve of political acumen, but most of all because it's rooted in the idea that "Women" is a monolithic group with a shared set of interests, preferences, ethics, needs, and desires. Now, I could write an entire post (or an entire six-volume set) on how manifestly stupid that idea truly is, but instead, I'll just let this graphic, comparing two women—politically active women, no less—suffice.

And even that doesn't begin to convey the depth of diversity among women, considering that Phyllis and I are from the same ethnic group, share the same sexual orientation, have the same regional roots, and are both living above the poverty line. In other words, we share a lot in common, too—and we're still vastly different. So much for Vagina Voting.

But Strassel's main issue is, of course, making recommendations for how the GOP can woo, as she calls them, "the lady voters." And she starts where any good Republican does—not with good GOP ideas but with trashing the Democrats.

The Democrats' own views of what counts for "women's issues" are stuck back in the disco days, about the time Ms. Clinton came of political age. Under the title "A Champion for Women," the New York senator's Web site promises the usual tired litany of "equal pay" and a "woman's right to choose." Mr. Richardson pitches a new government handout for women on "family leave" and waxes nostalgic for the Equal Rights Amendment. Give these Boomers some bell bottoms and "The Female Eunuch," and they'd feel right at home. Polls show Ms. Clinton today gets her best female support from women her age and up.

The rest of the female population has migrated into 2007. Undoubtedly quite a few do care about abortion rights and the Violence Against Women Act. But for the 60% of women who today both scramble after a child and hold a job, these culture-war touchpoints aren't their top voting priority.
In case you missed it, or the whiplash has momentarily stunned you, let me reiterate Strassel's concept for you: The Democrats are stuck in "the disco days" because they're still talking about equal pay and reproductive rights, which are "tired" issues, despite the fact that women still don't have equal pay and reproductive rights are constantly under attack from the party Strassel thinks should be able to woo Women. And those "tired" issues are all a bunch of pointless twaddle to "women who today both scramble after a child and hold a job," even though working mothers are the ones who would most benefit from equal pay, most make use of family leave where it's offered, and are the most likely to seek an abortion for financial reasons. Okay.

Yeah, it's a real head-scratcher why the GOP is failing to win over the ladies.

But wait—there's more! Strassel explains how the GOP can make unequal pay a winning issue for them—even though it's "tired," I guess.

Here's an example of how a smart Republican could morph an old-fashioned Democratic talking point into a modern-day vote winner. Ms. Clinton likes to bang on about "inequality" in pay. The smart conservative would explain to a female audience that there indeed is inequality, and that the situation is grave. Only the bad guy isn't the male boss; it's the progressive tax code.

Most married women are second-earners. That means their income is added to that of their husband's, and thus taxed at his highest marginal rate.
Splendid idea! I can imagine that if a Republican candidate had the deeply feminist idea of pointing out to me that my second-class pay rate was inevitable, but he'd be willing to rework the tax code so that married women keep more of their shitty paychecks, I'd totally vote for him! I can't imagine anything appealing more to my sense of fairness than codifying into the tax law a way to mitigate institutionalized sexism for straight, married women so we never have to talk about that pesky unequal pay ever again. Phew!

Anyway, after some more hott ideas, Strassel wraps it up with this sage advice:

And there are future generations of women voters to be won by the party that progresses beyond the stale rhetoric of women's "rights" and crafts a new language of women's "choice" and "opportunity" and "ownership."
Indeed. Who cares about women's "rights" anyway, right? How stale. If I have to hear one more time that sad refrain about how I have a right to choice, so that I can make the most of my opportunities and since I have autonomous ownership of my own body and all, I'll totally pass out with boredom. What a snoozefest.

Oh. Wait.

I see. So ultimately Strassel is suggesting stealing the language of feminism and reappropriating it for the retrofuck anti-women policies of the rightwing. In order to win over the lady voters. Well, good luck with all that. At least you know you've got Phyllis' vote.

I wouldn't bank on her grandkids, though.

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Is Nothing Sacred Anymore??


Pronunciation: \ˈgā-mər\
Function: noun
Date: circa 1630

1: a player who is game; especially : an athlete who relishes competition
2: a person who plays games; especially : a person who regularly plays computer or video games

That would be me. I'm proud to say that I've been a gamer for quite some time, going back to the days of Space Invaders and Pong. And what is it, exactly, that consistently draws me to these computer and video games?

Well, there's definitely the technical and sci-fi aspect of it all. As computing power has advanced over the years, game designers continue to push the envelope on what could be presented on the monitor. The graphics on any console game released this year are simply mesmerizing, begging to be admired for their detail and fluidity in animation. And sure, at a base level video games are just plain fun. But, the real reason I love gaming boils down to this: Escape.

Does this mean I'm unable to cope with the daily trials of modern life? Absolutely not. It just means that I can put aside the daily trials for a little while to focus on a different frame of reference and act/react to what goes on in this other world. Warcraft is a great example of this.

That's my hunter with his trusty pet wolf. A rather dashing night-elf, don't you think? He's come a long way to level 27, thanks in part to some serious shared pwning of worthless foes with Mr. Shakes (who has since turned this padawan into a monster at the auction houses). And even when I don't catch my friends online for some questing, I enjoy flying solo (with the trusty wolf) in this separate world, a world with its own rules and potentials, a world where one can truly escape for a moment before returning to the assault of reality that we know all too well.

But now, all that will change as reality is poised to assault the World of Warcraft:

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's internet regiment has come to World of Warcraft-- a group of his supporters are planning to form a guild on Whisperwind and do a march from IF to Stormwind (which means they'll probably be Gnomes or Dwarves, which is too bad, because I liked the idea of "Trolls for Ron Paul") on New Year's Day at 8:30pm EST.
Luckily, I've not rolled any characters on Whisperwind. But honestly, a fucking Ron Paul march in an online MMORPG? His supporters are that fucked up that they need to bring a real-world political rally to Warcraft? I know this isn't the first time something like this has come up in the online world. If you recall, John Edwards set up shop in Second Life.

The march, in of itself, will probably prove to be interesting. My guess is that there will be plenty of other characters lined up along the route to provide some "distraction" to the marchers before the Whisperwind server crashes due to volume. I play Warcraft to get away from the real world, not to have it follow me into a virtual domain. I can just see it - "United States political activist" will be a new profession you can train for. You first gather piles of turd to forge into a clipboard which you can then use to cast a Drain Signature spell on any character. Wonderful.

US politics isn't what Warcraft is about, and it's certainly not what people are paying a subscription fee for. Warcraft is about escape and writing the never ending story. I can only hope that this doesn't set a precedent. If you want to set up a rally for someone, then do it on the REAL streets. Leave the online RPG ones to the Alliance and Horde.

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Caption This Photo

From the Petulant Collection of Funny Photos

"The new White House counsel sorts through subpoenas."

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Huckabee's an Asshole

It's not like that's news, I know. But this guy is a real Grade-A Asshole, which becomes ever more apparent with every story I read about him. To wit:

Republican Mike Huckabee took his presidential campaign for a quick pheasant-hunting expedition in Iowa on Wednesday, and at one point, a reporter asked why he hadn't invited sporting enthusiast Dick Cheney along. "Because I want to survive all the way through this," Huckabee replied, in a chuckling dig at the vice president’s accidental shooting of a quail-hunting partner last year.

Any good sportsman, though, couldn't miss a distinctly Cheneyesque moment in the press accounts of the former Arkansas governor's morning hunt: At one point, Huckabee's party turned toward a cluster of reporters and cameramen and, when they kicked up a pheasant, fired shotgun blasts over the group's heads.

...My colleague James Oliphant reports that Huckabee's party was about 75 yards away from the press corps Wednesday when a pheasant jumped up and flew toward the reporters, drawing several shots. "That was too close," he reports a cameraman saying.

...Huckabee emerged happily from his hunt, three dead pheasants in tow, Oliphant reports. Asked for a metaphor to describe the hunt, he replied, "Don't get in my way. This is what happens."

The gobsmacking thing about this level of inveterate assholery is that Huckabee is running as the nice guy among the GOP candidates. He's the freaking minister among them, who's supposed to be "too nice" according to hard-scrabble GOP operatives, despite stories like this one describing his being a total asshole and assholery like letting loose a serial rapist who graduated to rape-murder. He's the nice one among this bunch of lunatics, and he's recklessly disregarding basic hunting safety to shoot "too close" to reporters and then flippantly joking about it.

Jebus. The GOP is quite a collection of jerks, if this is their Nice Guy.

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A Night at Shakes Manor

It is a truth universally acknowledged that nothing on earth is more boring than reading about other people's dreams. Personally, I can't even stand accounts of dreams in fiction, which are at least theoretically designed to be meaningful and advance the plot. I just reread The Time Traveler's Wife, on the advice of a gazillion Shapely Prose commenters, and I enjoyed it again, but oh my god, I'd forgotten how much of that book is spent describing dreams. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz x 10,000.

And yet. I have to share.

Last night, I had a dream that -- after much confusion about train schedules -- I arrived at Shakes Manor for what I thought would be an evening of drinking and chatting with Liss and Mr. Shakes (and petting Tilsy and Livs, allergies be damned). But it was Paul the Spud who answered the door, and when I inquired as to Liss's whereabouts, he indicated a darkened living room and said, "She's in there, stoned off her ass."

Not only was she in there stoned off her ass, but so were nearly all of the other Shakesville contributors. Except, I didn't recognize them as such at first, because I've only met three of them (Liss, Mr. Shakes, and Spudsy) in real life, and thumbnail pics translated to dream images didn't do all that much for me, identification-wise. I only figured it out when the guy sitting next to me put on a long, white, curly wig, and I went, "Oh, you're Jon Swift!" For real.

I won't bore you with all the rest of the details, but I also have to share that at one point, I went out for a smoke and took a walk down the block, then returned to find Liss standing in front of her house in a pink bathing suit with an attached knee-length skirt, soaking wet, in like 30-degree weather. She'd just gone for a swim in Lake Michigan (which, in the dream, was mere steps away from Shakes Manor), and was absolutely giddy about how awesome it had been. She looked radiant, and I really wanted to know where I could get a bathing suit just like hers.

So, any Jungians out there want to tell me what's up with my unconscious? For now, I'm just taking it as a sign that I need to post more here in the new year -- 'cause y'all are a super-fun bunch, even without the wigs and pot and ass-freezing night swims.

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An apology to the religious

I have had a religious awakening, if you will.

I have been much too hard and dismissive of the religious. And I'm going to stop that.

The main reason is this: My Mother is in the hospital with leukemia. She is through her first round of chemo. Her cell counts are going up just slightly, and her doctor is very pleased with how things are going. She will likely undergo one more round of chemo (with it's accompanying sickness), either soon, or within a few weeks. Her strong attitude and my Dad's support have again made a big difference. Just like it did when she beat Ovarian Cancer two years ago.

Seeing all the kind words and prayers from friends and families at a Web site dedicate to her really touch me. And also make me see clearly how insufferably rude I've been to the religious. I still plan on writing from time to time as I do on skeptical issues, religious organizations and religion in government. But I will not be tossing in any stabs at the religious themselves as I'm sure I've done in the past. That was wrong and I was wrong.

The average religious person doesn't want laws made specifically for them and their beliefs, or want war, or want anything bad. They just want to live freely while believing in a personal God. And this is a pretty substantial group, in every religion. Who am I to be insulting and dismissive of them?

I apologize.

So if you have a belief that says saying prayers or doing other things when you communicate with your God or Goddess, and you feel like throwing in an extra word or two for my Mom, I actually wouldn't mind that at all.


Update: I just received a call from my Mom. She's going home today after her month in the hospital. Her Leukemia is in remission. She still has another chemo to go through and a few more things, but tonight she'll be sleeping in her own bed.

A truly great day. Thank you all for your thoughts.

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Kentucky football coach, student share name, hilarity ensues - also, David Brooks is a douche

It seems whenever University of Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks gets into hot water with the fans, UK senior Rich Brooks gets an e-mail box full of anger. As one would imagine, this leads to interesting outcomes:

From the Courier-Journal:

Notably, the student recalls the messages that flooded his inbox in September 2005, after a 31-24 UK loss to U of L.

"I got some bad e-mails after that," Brooks said. "We should have won the game, but it didn't happen, and I got some bad stuff. It was like, 'We hate you. Quit your job,' that kind of stuff."

Wacky times for the folks at Kentucky, who are preparing to see their Wildcats face Florida State in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on Monday.

In a related subject, New York Times columnist David Brooks is still a complete douchebag.


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Peggy Noonan Is An Idiot

Wow, there's a news flash. Glenn Greenwald has the details.

In her Wall St. Journal column today, Peggy Noonan offers up a Santa-like checklist of which presidential candidates are "reasonable" and which ones aren't. In describing the attributes that Americans want in a President, she says: "I claim here to speak for thousands, millions." On behalf of the throngs for whom she fantasizes she speaks, Noonan proclaims: "We are grown-ups ... We'd like knowledge, judgment, a prudent understanding of the world and of the ways and histories of the men and women in it."

This grown-up then proceeds to pronounce that Romney, McCain, Giuliani, Thompson and Duncan Hunter are all "reasonable" -- as are Biden, Dodd, Richardson and Obama (though too young and inexperienced to be President) -- but this is what she says about John Edwards:
John Edwards is not reasonable.....[W]e can't have a president who spent two minutes on YouTube staring in a mirror and poofing his hair. Really, we just can't.

John Edwards, however, is disqualified, because four years ago, he was caught red-handed brushing his hair before a television appearance -- "poofing," in Noonan's words, which isn't really a word at all, but rather, a British epithet for a male homosexual -- "Slang: Disparaging and Offensive" -- a synonym for "faggot." Noonan is making the same point Ann Coulter made: Edwards can't possibly be President because he's a faggot. And to make her "grown-up" case for this, she cites one of our national media's most talked-about political stories of both 2004 and again in 2007: Edwards' brushing of his hair.

What a stupid and vapid woman this is, but respected and admired by our media class because she fits right in with them -- endlessly impressed by her own sophistication, maturity and insight while drooling out platitudes one never hears except in seventh-grade cafeterias and on our political talk shows. As always, this isn't worth noting because the adolescent stupidity on display here is unique to Noonan, but precisely because it isn't. This is how our national elections are decided: by people like her, spewing things like this.
What gets me is that after seven years of the Bush administration, Ms. Noonan can seriously complain about a lack of "grown-ups" in the political spectrum. Is she truly incapable of seeing the irony in that kind of statement? And we're not just talking about appearances and shallow surface details here; we're talking about an administration that raised adolescent petulance and schoolyard bullying to a global dimension. She begs for mature leadership and she's calling John Edwards a faggot. Zoinks.

Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.

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