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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Poor Man's Year in Review 

Read it (although he can't quite keep it going through the resolutions part).
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Tsunami 

I haven't posted on this, because what is there to add. I do want to draw your attention to the fact this is bringing out the best in even our large multinational corporations. Go to Amazon or Google and you'll see what I mean.

Hat-tip Pandagon.
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Classy Party, Classy President 

Via Josh Marshall, our President, George W. Bush, classy guy:
President's latest response to the tsunami tragedy: badmouth Bill Clinton.

From the Post...
Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.'"
Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.
Actions speak louder than words? Actions?

-- Josh Marshall
And, via the non-evil Roger Ailes, the Republican Party, a classy party:
The Washington Post reports on Republican politics as usual:
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is leaning toward removing the House ethics committee chairman, who admonished House Majority Leader Tom DeLay this fall and has said he will treat DeLay like any other member, several Republican aides said yesterday.

Although Hastert (Ill.) has not made a decision, the expectation among leadership aides is that the chairman, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), long at odds with party leaders because of his independence, will be replaced when Congress convenes next week.

The aides said a likely replacement is Rep. Lamar S. Smith, one of DeLay's fellow Texans, who held the job from 1999 to 2001. Smith wrote a check this year to DeLay's defense fund. An aide said Smith was favored for his knowledge of committee procedure.
Yes, Smith has the procedure down cold.
Awesome, no?

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Monday, December 27, 2004

Shake n' Blake 

Since I no longer blog on the Cleveland Clowns, I'll just mention, as a football-related aside, that Jeff Shake n' Blake just doesn't throw the deep ball like he used to.
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Family Values 

This New York Times article was linked to by Drudge - I won't bore you with many details. Basically, some neighbors are complaining about a Christmas display in Scottsdale, AZ that they say is too loud or too bright or something. The guy who runs the display - and his numerous supporters - see this as part of the attack on Christmas.
"I just love entertaining people," said Mr. Birkett, who predicted he would win his case but scurried about in a shirt with a prisonlike number, SC 12 25, and a message on the back: "Wanted for spreading Christmas cheer."

...

Mr. Birkett, who says he has spent $4,000 for a special fence to muffle the sound and has even offered to buy the Majercins' house for $225,000, says that he is acting out of devotion to Jesus and the spirit of Christmas and that his freedoms were also at stake.

"I believe there are lots of rights they are taking away," he said. "Like we're being asked not to say 'Merry Christmas.' They want you to say 'Happy holidays.' "
Of course, the "liberal" New York Times doesn't submit this comment to mockery it deserves - given that, you know, nobody is being denied the right to say "Merry Christmas."

But this is my favorite part of the article. How does this self-appointed defender of the Christmas tradition spend the holiday? Uh...
Among those shunning the uproar, Mr. Birkett acknowledged, is his wife, Sarah, a massage therapist, who left with their 15-month-old daughter, Avari Elizabeth, to spend Christmas with relatives in Wyoming. But he said she encouraged him "to fight for the freedom of the holidays.'"
Seems to me this man would rather be seen as a martyr for Christmas than actually, you know, spend the time with his daughter. (And I love how the reporter just trusts the guy to accurately quote his wife.) Seems to me this guy cares more about engaging in a divisive fight than spending time bringing his own family together. And this, it seems to me, is all you need to know about the "religious right."

What sort of piece of shit society do we live in when a national "liberal" paper writes a puff-piece on this loser?
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Reggie White 

I'm sure many of you know how Reggie White died in his sleep yesterday (I think it was in his sleep) at the age of 43. Too young to go. Because what I'm about to link to is very critical of Mr. White, I'm not really going to comment on it, or say whether I think it's appropriate to even discuss. But, I am linking to it, and you all can read it if you want, or not read if you don't want to. The post is called "Reggie White: Great Player, Great Bigot" so you know what you're going to read. Link here.
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The Life Aquatic 

I saw it last night - I loved it. Sad, funny and exciting. I'm reading some of the reviews now and am surprised that so many people dislike it. I can see how it would turn a lot of people off - it's not accessible and at times is just weird. But I don't think it's weird for the sake of weirdness. Like Max Fischer in Rushmore, Steve Zissou has created a world for himself - a world that is only partially real. All of Wes Anderson's protagonists are living in a life they have created - in this case, it's represented visually by claymation fish. At least, I think that's the case.
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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Badmouthing movies everyone else seems to like 

Well, earlier in the week I told you how I didn't like Hero, which pretty much everyone and their mom thought was some artistic masterpiece. And now, on Christmas, I'm watching Napoleon Dynamite, which pretty much couldn't be less funny. I mean, it almost is funny, and maybe it could be funny, but it's not. The idea, I think, is that we're supposed to laugh because no one in the picture is trying to funny, but to us, it should be funny. It's not.

In any event, I did see the Aviator in the theater today, and it was quite good. Almost great, in fact. But, as Scorsese really hasn't done since Goodfellas, this movie doesn't quite complete itself. It's like he can't quite keep it up for the full 2.5 or 3 hours. Leonardo is quite good, and it's an entertaining movie without a doubt.
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Merry Christmas 

The secularists, and the Jews, and the gays, and all the godless, anal-sex loving heathens that control Hollywood have failed in their quest to destroy Christmas - for even here, at liberal Goldberg and Guthrie, we are wishing you a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or whatever greeting you prefer.

I got the Seinfeld DVD and the Ultimate Matrix collection - so I'm pretty stoked.

On another note, this is the first Christmas since I was born that my family hasn't spent together - my brother recently moved to New York and got a new job, so he has to work on the 24th and the 26th and wasn't able to make it back. It's sort of sad - not that sad, we were all together on Thanksgiving, but the house feels empty nevertheless. Let's remember all the families who have had an empty house for three years now - because a son or daughter or brother or sister is defending our country overseas. And of course there are families whose house will feel empty every Christmas - because someone volunteered to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Ignoring any thoughts on the war or the policies behind it, we should say a prayer (or do whatever it is that atheists do in situations like this) for these men and women.

Merry Christmas.
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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Great Moments in the Passive Voice 

Via Steve G., we get a Great Moment in the Passive Voice from former Connecticut Governor John Rowland:
Former Gov. John G. Rowland, who resigned July 1 amid a scandal over his acceptance of gifts and favors from state contractors and others, pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court in New Haven under an agreement that will send him to jail.

"Obviously mistakes have been made throughout the last few years, and I accept responsibility for those," Rowland told reporters after entering the plea. "But I also ask the people of this state to appreciate and understand what we have tried to do over the past 25 years in public service."
Emphasis was added.

My favorite use of this line is from a Simpsons episode where Bart says, "Mistakes were made...by me." I just love that.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Guest-bloggers 

well, as many of you have suspected, we don't really have guest bloggers. I was trying to amuse myself, and was doing so successfully, until I realized that I couldn't change my "name" for each post, and that if I wanted to use alter-egos I'd have to set up entire blog-personas for each, including a real email address and blogger ID and password. That is, if I changed my "name" to, say, Drunk Santa or Kim Long-Jong Il or Cheney's Dick, it would use that name everywhere it says "by Goldberg" and when I changed my name back to "Goldberg" everything would go back to that, too. Very annoying, so I guess I'll just be posting under my real name. And I didn't watch Hero on a plane--I watched it my apartment. I was really looking forward to amusing myself this way until Calendar Year 2005 (Post-subsidized time, Year of the 248MB Toshiba Rewritable InterLace Cartridge, which narrowly beat out the Year of the $250 Billable Hour for naming rights). I was even going to post semi-regularly as "Goldberg" to regale you all with my vacationy exploits. oh well. I guess I'll just amuse myself with the leftover vicodin I have laying around.

Merry fucking Christmas, indeed.

By the way, the Cleveland Clowns are so bad they're 7-point dogs to Miami, and I'm betting on Miami to cover.
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Wacky Catchphrases 

Oh, those wacky witsters at Fox News. It seems that they've taken a break from covering the war on Christmas, and have decided to review this year's "Wacky Catchphrases." That's a quote from the headline - by the way - it's a "list of the wackiest catchphrases we found ourselves actually saying in '04".

The first of said "wacky catchphrases" is "You're fired." OK - this makes sense. Another one is "wardrobe malfunction" - OK, that's sort of funny.

But one "wacky catchphrase" is "flip-flopper." What the fuck? Here's what awesome writer Jennifer D'Angelo has to say:
He really, really didn’t want this nickname (and even tried to joke his way out of it during the debates), but thanks to Team Bush, John Kerry became inextricably associated with a plastic beach shoe. And his detractors had a lot of fun using the term over — and over — and over again.
First of all, this isn't a catchphrase - and I don't think it could be called wacky. Second, this term wasn't invented in 2004 - it's been used against every Democratic who's ran for President since 1992. Third, only a fucking moron would include this on a list of "wacky catchphrases we found ourselves saying in '04."

I'll note this last one without comment.
Last but not least … Deaniac: The unique term for a person — read: liberal, under 30 and politically active — who was excited by Howard Dean's campaign for the Democratic nomination. But Dean proved to be a bit of Deaniac himself in his infamous “I Have a Scream” speech, and now he may be going to New Hampshire ... and South Carolina ... and Oklahoma ... but only on vacation.
I hate the world.
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Movies 

So, the played Hero on the plane. I think the Dustin Hoffman movie of that title might be better than the Jet Li one. Ugh, talk about overrated. And that's not even caring that it's a piece of PRC propoganda.

Hope you're enjoying the guest bloggers. I see DS already posted. We have some other people in store for you; I think you'll like all of them.
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Well, the insurgency will get worse as we approach...the Future 

Well, with the normal proprietors in California on vacation (their plane is probably somewhere over the salt flats in Utah right now), they've been kind enough to enlist a veritable murderer's row of guest-bloggers, and I, the Drunk Santa, have the honors of the first guest post. Unfortunately, it's not a really fun post.

We've all heard of the horrific carnage that took place in Mosul the other day. At first it was reported to be a rocket and/or mortar attack, but now they're saying it was a suicide bomber who was able to just basically walk in and blow himself up. Basically, this is proof positive that the insurgency has infiltrated almost every aspect of US-Iraq cooperation--this type of attack simply could not happen without some serious and accurate intelligence and help from the inside (there are many Iraqis--civilian and proto-military--at all our bases).

But, my point is how this attack happens, and what does our government do? It just plays something off its Greatest Hits of 2003-2004: "Well, we can expect the insurgency to strengthen as X approaches." X can be "as we surround and cut-off the dead-enders" or "the June 30 handover" or "the U.S. elections" or now, the "Iraqi elections." I give you Mosul Bob--I mean Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers:

"The insurgency is going to get worse as we approach the elections," Myers said, stressing the key role that would be played increasingly by Iraqi security forces.

That's from this Reuters article. Sorry I couldn't set that out in blockquotes, but I haven't figured out this html thing yet. I'll try to figure it out as some point.

But, why should I even pretend to listen to this guy? Why do they even trot him out for these stupid soundbites? When will the media finally say, "General Myers says X, but we needn't listen to him because he always that and he's always wrong."?
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To the Hammock... 

It's been a long hard year, and Goldberg and I are ready for some time off. So, we'll be relaxing in California, and walking our beagle. The stress of posting on a blog a few times a week can be taxing, and we deserve both the rest and your pledges. We will back refreshed and energized, and ready to feign surprise every time the Republicans do something to indicate that they rely on anti-homosexual bigotry to turn out their base.

Until then...
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Yearly Pledge Drive 

As Guth noted below, today marks our one-year anniversary. And, despite the fact that we sometimes make up words, as Guth did below (""minusucuely"???), I'm sure most of our readers appreciate our efforts. That said, and I hate to do this, the time and resources we devote to this blog are substantial. That's why, during this season of giving, we're hoping that you, our loyal readers, could find it in your hearts to give a little to Goldberg & Guthrie Enterprises, LLC, the limited liability company we've set up in Delaware to handle the business side of this blog. Below is a link through which you can donate. Later today I'll put a link on the sidebar. It'll stay up through the first week of 2005, at which time I'll take it down and we won't ask for anything but more of your tremendous comments until next year.

Thanks for reading!!





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Martha Stewart 

I've never really cared about her either way - although I think it's bullshit that she actually got prison time for what she did. But, clearly, she did show a lack of respect for authority - and to an extent believed herself above the law, maybe.

But I have to say that I admire her for using this experience to remind her fans of how sad life is for so many who are incarcerated, and to encourage reform of our insane drug laws:
When one is incarcerated with 1,200 other inmates, it is hard to be selfish at Christmas -- hard to think of Christmases past and Christmases future -- that I know will be as they always were for me -- beautiful! So many of the women here in Alderson will never have the joy and wellbeing that you and I experience. Many of them have been here for years -- devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family.

I beseech you all to think about these women -- to encourage the American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines, in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for those involved in drug-taking. They would be much better served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to be prepared for life "out there" where each person will ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living.
I guess I just like the fact that there isn't any self-pity in her letter; rather, she's focusing on people who are true victims of prosecutorial excess. Good work, Martha.

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Happy Anniversary to Us 

It was one year ago today - on a particularly slow day at the office - that Goldberg and Guthrie was born. Here is our first (and still probably best) post:
The cover of Sean Hannity's new book seems to indicate that Sean Hannity will personally deliver us from the evil that is the Statue of Liberty.
Since that day we have expanded our base of readers to 10, and hope one day to approach the elusive "20" barrier. The blog has gone up fairly consistently, given that we are both doing deals or being big-time litigators. (Both of us have taken extended breaks at one time or another - I haven't posted in a few weeks, for example.) Still, we have succeeded in our goal of running a blog; and it's probably slightly more useful to the world than Goldberg and I just e-mailing back and forth all day.

Of course, in one way, this blog and all liberal blogs are utter failures, given that we have failed completely in turning back the tide of the conservative takeover of our country. But hopefully the blogs have started a movement that one day can match the Republican machine - the talk radio; Fox News; etc. Democrats and liberals need to understand exactly how it is that the Republicans are able to speak to their base; and we have to learn how to do it effectively and, more important, honorably and truthfully. Our job is harder. They can simply make up whatever facts they want to rile up the conservative base. Country full of Christmas decorations? Christmas trees everywhere you look? Everyone gets a day and probably two off for Christmas? Country 95% Christian and Christians control government? Doesn't matter - Christmas is under attack by secular liberals, Jews, gays and atheists.

You can't build a machine that can spread that kind of a lie overnight; and it's going to be even harder to build a machine that can spread complex truths - like the idea that social security isn't failing and that privatized won't help it. Hopefully, the liberal blogosphere is starting to do that. And, hopefully Goldberg and Guthrie has played a role - however minusucuely small - in the effort.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Feingold '08? 

Russ Feingold has an article in Salon today. It's quite good--note esp the fact that he got in a van and drove down to Alabama instead of flying down there. One thing I was surprised to find when I was in Wisconsin over the election was how many people in Wisconsin were split-ticket voters--Bush for Prez but Russ for Senate. He's extremely well-respected in Wisconsin, and not just among liberals. He's truly seen as an honest, down-to-earth and hard-working kind of guy. Another thing he's got going for him, in my mind, is that he went and his daughter goes to UW-Madison, so he can break the stranglehold the ivy league has on the presidency (not that there's anything wrong with that--so long as the people are from Harvard)*. Here's the article in full:
Dec. 21, 2004 | On Nov. 2, I was fortunate enough to be elected by the people of Wisconsin to a third term in the U.S. Senate. Right after the election, I confess I immediately went looking for a warm place to golf. So I piled into a van with some friends in Milwaukee and drove from Wisconsin to Alabama. All of us were thrilled with the beauty of the state and the kind reception we Northerners received from everyone. Then my wife, Mary, drove down to collect me for one last round of golf and a brief, two-for-the-road vacation through the South. She met me in Greenville, Ala.

As she made the turn onto Exit 130 in Greenville, Mary saw the same little building my buddies and I had seen a day earlier. Banners on the roof read "Republican Headquarters" and "George W. Bush." At the very top of the roof, a celebratory message had been unfurled. It read, simply, "Hallelujah." She had the same thought that had occurred to the rest of us when we first saw the tiny structure and the big banners: If the red-and-blue map of the United States were to have an intensity meter, this place may well glow as the reddest spot on the whole map.

That night, the two of us dined at the Bates House of Turkey, just behind the Republican headquarters. When we ordered at the counter, we noticed George W. Bush bumper stickers offered for sale next to the cash register -- a hand-lettered sign said the price was $1, and a nearby jar was stuffed with bills. The young lady behind the counter followed our gaze and then looked across at us. "We're Democrats," my wife said, with a smile. "I'll have the barbecue turkey sandwich." The young lady smiled back and thanked us for "not leaving like some people do when they see those stickers." We assured her we were there for the turkey. To prove it, we ate all the turkey we could, had lemon icebox pie for dessert, and didn't talk politics.

After our meal that evening, we drove around Greenville to see what there was to see. And what we saw -- check-cashing stores and abject trailer parks, and some of the hardest-used cars for sale on a very rundown lot -- told us the people there were hurting economically and deserved more than they were getting.

Now, I know that some from Alabama reading this may dismiss my comments as those of a lesser Neil Young, just another person Southern Man doesn't need around anyhow. But I've traveled enough to know that there are Greenvilles all over this country, including in my home state of Wisconsin. Having held town hall meetings in every one of Wisconsin's 72 counties each year for the past 12 years, I've heard repeatedly of the difficult struggles that so many working families are enduring in both urban and rural areas. And in this Greenville, the one in Alabama, I connected again to an American experience that isn't dictated by whether you live in a red state or a blue state.

The people of Alabama appear to be among the most generous and most unsung philanthropists in this country. What they give is unimaginable to many others and they give it time and again: They regularly give their turn at the American dream to someone else. And they give it simply because they're asked. So many people in Greenville don't seem to have basic healthcare coverage or promising job opportunities. Meanwhile, their children volunteer to risk their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. I can only be humbled by their sacrifice.

But because I am a lawmaker and a student of history, I also know who has been asking them to give so much. And I can only wonder how many more generations of central Alabamians will say yes when the increasingly powerful Republican Party asks them to be concerned about homosexuality but not about the security of their own health, about abortion but not about the economic futures of their own children. As my wife and I drove through Greenville that night, I thought how fundamentally unfair this all is in order to support an increasingly radical conservative movement.

Now, some may think that Alabama and Wisconsin are the polar opposites of American politics. But in both states I've found that -- along with sharing a sincere appreciation of a good turkey dinner -- too many hardworking people are losing their battles for decent paying jobs and adequate healthcare. I'm tired of seeing the power-hungry persuade the hardworking people of this country that the only way to preserve important values is to vote against their own families' basic interests. I believe that the working people of both states have sacrificed for other people's agendas for too long. And I believe that any political party or political movement or political candidate who would consistently say this would be heard throughout America.

We need to go to the Greenvilles of every state, red and blue, and say, "Thank you. You've sacrificed long enough. Now it's your turn at the American dream."


*well, Russ did go to Harvard Law, but at least he didn't go to undergrad there.
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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Torture Memos 

Some of you may recall my indignity surrounding all the torture memos that come out last spring and. Those were the memos that came out of the OLC, the DOD and the WH counsel's office. I was pretty hard in particular on Jack Goldsmith, who was assumed to have been the author of the OLC one, along with John Yoo. Yoo then defended the memos in, I think, the LA Times, and, in light of that, I think he still does deserve the scorn I heaped on him. However, it seems that Goldsmith may not have been the international law maverick and immoral desk jockey I painted him as. Newsweek has a new article posted, on Al Gonzalez and his upcoming confirmation hearing. I've bolded the relevant part:
Last June, Gonzales indicated he no longer held some of the extreme views of the president's "unlimited" powers first laid out in this memo. Amid the furor over the Abu Ghraib Prison photos that depicted Iraqis being abused and humiliated by U.S. soldiers, Gonzales insisted to reporters that the "torture" memo of Aug. 1 and other documents then making headlines were little more than "irrelevant" legal theorizing. It is not surprising why Gonzales was distancing himself: the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility recently launched an investigation into the origins of the Aug. 1 memo. The probe will look into whether the lawyers were irresponsible in pushing beyond the normal boundaries of advocacy. In a tense meeting last June, Jack Goldsmith, then head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, told Gonzales he was withdrawing the Aug. 1 memo. Goldsmith then resigned-at least partly due to his discomfort about the memo. It was only then that Gonzales decided to distance himself from it. (Goldsmith declined to comment.)
So, while I wish Goldsmith would have then written an op-ed about this so he could not only get on the record but also so he could have used his position to out some more pressure on the executive branch to stop these practices, I do owe him an apology (not that he reads this (duh), but people who know him do read this).
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Saturday, December 18, 2004

The Answer to Your Query is "Very." 

From an email from a friend:

"My friend's cat ate a bunch of dental floss. He came home to find it hanging out of the cat's behind, and the cat was trying to pull it out himself. The vet had him pull it out. How sick is that?"
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The Revolution...Sells Out? 

I'm watching the Redskins at San Fran football game on Fox, and Fox has a promo for it's HD coverage using Steve Earle's "The Revolution Start...Now." Wtf? There not a more anti-commercial artist in rock today than Earle. What is he doing allowing a media conglomerate, and Fox no less, use his song?
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Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Blagorgeous One 

So, apparently Governor Rod R. "Rod" Blowdriedevich doesn't like that particular nickname and is trying to get the populace to switch to the more mellifluous "Governor Blowhardevich." The Guv's comments concerning his new-found zeal to prevent nasty ol' video games from polluting The Youth of America (via Zorn):
You can expect of course, the usual suspects to challenge us in court. The (American Civil Liberties Union) And you know, just an editorial comment, they get all bent out of shape when, you know, a judge posts the Ten Commandments in a courtroom.

And you know, I don't know about you, but I support each one of those Ten Commandments. But it's OK for some 6-year old to play a violent video game where the 6-year old is the participant who decapitates a police officer and then urinates on him.

Somehow, a 6-year-old has a right to do that, but a judge can't put the Ten Commandments up. So things are somewhat upside down when it comes to the ACLU in my mind.
Notwithstanding the fact that he doesn't seem to understand that the First Amendment (RIP 2004) has, you know, several different clauses covering different concepts, this guy really is an idiot.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Fog of War 

I just watched The Fog of War. It was tremendous--one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. And, like David Maraniss's They Marched into Sunlight and (especially, since it dealt with The Big Picture) Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly, this film reminds us that the number of lessons of Vietman that still resonate today are innumerable. And, to be sure, it took, well maybe not exactly Courage With a Capital C for McNamara to do this film, at least a type of courage for him to do so. And I think we're all better off for him doing it.

Of course, don't think he's not still a liar.
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Monday, December 13, 2004

Tom Tomorrow and Slate 

Now, Slate gets shit on a lot, almost as much as The New Republican, and I don't really think they deserve most of the scorn heaped on them (although they do publish Kaus and Hitchens...). But, here, reproduced in full, is Tom Tomorrow (you may know him for "This Modern World" usually seen in Salon:
Well, it is Microsoft, after all

A month ago, I did a short piece for Slate. Today in the mail, I received a large envelope full of numerous forms I have to fill out in order to collect the pittance I am owed. Among the highlights, I am asked to sign away world rights to edit, publish, and distribute the material, as well as to irrevocably and unconditionally waive in perpetuity any rights I may have "under any law relating to 'moral rights of authors' or any similar law throughout the world." In short, if I grant them permission to use the piece in any way they want, forever and ever, then I can collect my one-time fee. Not that any of this matters in a practical sense--this little one-off essay is unlikely to be a hotly contested property--but you have to understand that as a self-syndicated cartoonist, I've been fending off rights-grabs like this my entire career, and am extremely cautious about what I sign. And the thing is, I didn't go to Slate saying, hey can I please work for you? I'll sign anything you want! They asked me to contribute a piece, I agreed--and a month later, I find out that if I want to be paid, I have to sign something I consider morally objectionable. And I am told that if I don't sign, I don't get paid. (It would have been nice to know this before I did the work, of course--I would certainly have passed on the assignment.)

Additionally, I am instructed to fill out a multi-page New US Vendor application, as if I were simply another eager supplicant petitioning Microsoft, a would-be supplier of silicon wafers or mother boards or bubble wrap or some damn thing. To prove my tax status, I must list 3-5 current clients, including phone numbers, provide my business letterhead, business card, a company brochure, and a copy of my business license. Now, as far as I know, they aren't licensing political cartoonists quite yet, and as for the letterhead, brochure, etc.--I couldn't supply most of that if I wanted to, because I don't have any of it. I do everything via email these days. It's this nifty thing, you do it on computers. Somebody should tell the folks at Microsoft about it.

Apparently everyone who writes for Slate jumps through these hoops, which I find somewhat astonishing--but I am often astonished by the things other people are willing to do. As for me, at this moment, it looks like I gave Bill Gates a day of work for free. Shit happens, I guess.

posted by Tom Tomorrow at 08:19 PM | link

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Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Passion of a High-Definition Tivo Unit 

I Tivo'd The Passion of the Christ off HD pay-per-view yesterday. Now, I'm not sure I'm even going to watch it. For one, I'm Jewish and in no way whatsoever believe in the divinity of Jesus. Secondly, I don't really know the story of the Gospels all that well. I mean, I've tried to watch The Last Temptation of Christ on more than one occasion, but have been unable to do so. But, I think that's a film in which the Gospel story is in the background, and you basically need the background to understand the Willem Dafoe foreground. The Passion, on the other hand, purports to tell the actual story itself, albeit with those hook-nosed Jews playing maybe a more prominent role (if that's actually what the movie does). So, maybe you don't need to go into it knowing the story, because it will, you know, tell you the story.

Anyway, if anyone (esp Guthrie) has any insight on this, I'd appreciate it. Also, if I should read one of the Gospels first, which one? And, is that particular Gospel actually interesting to read? And, is the movie so anti-Semitic I shouldn't watch it out of principle?
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Friday, December 10, 2004

Casinos 

Have casinos ever been the solution to a depressed area's economic woes?

And that's not a rhetorical question. I think the answer is NO!!, but I'm not sure.

The above-linked article is about Cleveland, and Chicago also wants one (although Chicago is certainly not a depressed area...Daley just wants what he considers free money.

It should be noted that Chicago wants the Casino to be on Block 37 right in the loop. I heard on NPR this morning, but can't find an article, that the City just sold that block for maybe $13MM. It bought it just a few years ago for around $35MM or something. If I can find an article on this, I'll correct these numbers, because I really can't remember what I heard while in the shower this morning. In any event, should this be a scandal-of-epic-proportions in and of itself? Buying some serious prime real estate and in just a few years taking a total fucking bath on it? Nice job, Mr. Mayor.
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Militant Grammarians of...Shaker Heights 

Below, I wrote:
But, they were playing the Cavs, a team of erstwhile fandom of mine (I'm not sure that dependent clause is grammatically correct--in fact, I'm not even sure it's dependent, but I'm sure my mom can clear that up for all of us in comments), and the Cavs have this LeBron character, so I figured it was worth taking the free ticket and going.
Well, my mom did email me to correct me. It turns out the clause is considered neither a dependent nor independent clause, but insteat instead is a "phrase in apposition."

M-W.com defines apposition as "a grammatical construction in which two usually adjacent nouns having the same referent stand in the same syntactical relation to the rest of a sentence (as the poet and Burns in "a biography of the poet Burns")." That definition doesn't seem to help, because my sentence doesn't use two nouns in that fashion.

In addition, she seems upset at the phrase "erstwhile fandom," which I used to mean that "I used to be a fan." She suggests the more correct phrases "erstwhile fan" or "erstwhile member of the team's fandom). Yeah, she's right, I guess.

CORRECTED FOR SPELLING. What kind of fucking moron has a spelling error in a post about grammar? ugh.
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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Blegging 

Any of you nerdy law-clerk types who read this blog know what case it was that Easterbrook talked about "Ceremonial Deism" vis-a-vis the Pledge of Allegiance?

UPDATE: A reader kindly emailed me the answer. Thanks

UPDATE II: This makes me feel like Jonah Goldberg. I think I need to take a shower.
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Celebrity Simon Says 

So, I went to the Bulls game last night. Now, I don't like the NBA, and, well, I don't even like basketball at any level very much (I have many friends who love college ball but not the pros--I don't really care about either). But, they were playing the Cavs, a team of erstwhile fandom of mine (I'm not sure that dependent clause is grammatically correct--in fact, I'm not even sure it's dependent, but I'm sure my mom can clear that up for all of us in comments), and the Cavs have this LeBron character, so I figured it was worth taking the free ticket and going.

Well, the game truly sucked. But, at halftime, they had Celebrity Simon Says, which was clearly the highlight of the night, and maybe the greatest halftime diversion ever. The NFL powers-that-be should take note before they book another halftime show with a band whose guitarist is Richie Sambora. Some participants were

  1. White Sox outfielder Aaron Rowand
  2. Bears defensive back Jerry Azumah (he of the same surgically corrected vision as yours truly)
  3. Bears DB/Punt returner R.W. McQuarters, whose hat was pulled down Mush-Mouth style so you couldn't really see him
  4. Bears WR David Terrell, who got booed like he deserved to get booed, which was both nice and funny and really mean
  5. Harold Ramis (yes, that Harold Ramis)

There were several others, including a White Sox player I've never heard of, which is a bit odd.

In any event, it was really funny, and R.W. beat out David Terrell at the end of the competition.

A couple of other race-related NBA points:

Remember, if anyone tells you that it's not about race, it probably is.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Steroid Thread II 


The epic proportions of this discussion demand no less.
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Steroids, Baseball, and Frank Deford 

So, MTH wants a thread on the steroid scandal that's hitting baseball. Here it is. Let me start off by saying that the dumbest commentary on this issue so far as come from Frank Deford, whom I heard on NPR this morning. I don't remember everything he said, but at one point he mentioned that there's no longer a stigma associated with drug use. Now, this is clearly false, or this scandal would not be a "scandal." He said a lot of other idiotic things, but I can't remember some of the others.

But seriously, what to make of this? Giambi, Sheffield, Bonds--all three of them clearly took steroids, right? Well, I'm of the mind that sports should enforce rules against performance-enhancing drugs, but not really worry about performance-reducing drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana, and the like.* This begs the question, which is an important-yet-not-terribly-novel question, "What is a performance-enhancing drug?" Is it something that is under the pharmacological rubric of "steroids." Well, that can't be right, since then I'd be punished for using Flonase this morning, and most athletes would be punished for that cortisone shot they took the other day. Is it something that artificially increases testosterone levels? Well, we had that debate in 1998 over Androstenedione, and, in any event, EPO or ephedrine don't affect testosterone levels.

What about something like creatine, which many of my teammates in college used? That substance (basically) helps hydrate muscle tissue, allowing you to push yourself further before lactic acid builds up to an unbearable level. How about specifically tailored amino-acid chains put in protein shakes?

So, like I said, I'm hardly a genius for asking the question of what, exactly, is an unacceptable performance-enhancing drug, but that doesn't mean it's not an important question.

However, Mark Kleiman points out that we hardly want steroid use to become mandatory for participation in pro, or even college, sports.** This is clearly right. That said, if these substances can be taken safely, and it's not at all clear that they are inherently dangerous, then maybe we should take a "live and let live" attitude and treat these substances like we treat protein supplements, innovative training regimens, and all those other non-controversial things athletes do today that they didn't do in 1960.

But, are they safe? It seems a lot of people say that they can be if cycled correctly under a doctor's supervision (ie, go on-and-off regularly, don't stack, etc). But, what about Giambi, who seemed to get into a lot of trouble, health-wise, after he went off the juice.

In sum, there are not really any clear-cut answers here, except that, once the players and owners come to an agreement, breaking that policy, whatever it is, would be, by definition (or, if you're an NFL ref, by rule--that's for you, MM), cheating, which is morally contemptible in any situation.

Oh, and a footnote: Why is it that commentators seems to say, "look at the NFL--they have strict testing and therefore we don't wonder if Peyton's soon-to-be touchdown record should have an asterisk by it." Is it at all remotely possible that steroid use is anything less than rampant in the NFL, esp w/r/t linemen and other players who need to "bulk" up? I simply can't believe that the NFL testing regimen actually works. But I could be wrong on that.

So, let's see if we can actually have a discussion on this. I threw out more questions than answers here, and I did that for two reasons: (1) hopefully it will foster a discussion, and (2) I don't really have any good answers. Mainly it was 2.

*I realize there are arguments for banning these already-illegal drugs, as well, such as the "role model" position athletes are in and the like. My response to these arguments is "whatever."

**He also points out that the real scandal here may be the leaking of the grand jury transcripts and the undermining of the criminal justice system, which is a very good point--read his take.
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Monday, December 06, 2004

Long Time 

A few thoughts:

(1) How about those Bengals?

(2) When experiencing the requisite anger over these awful abstinence-only programs, try to remember under whose Presidency the federal government started funding them. Hint: it's safe to say he didn't follow the precepts of these programs in his personal life. I guess that's how Democrats are supposed to appeal to the heartland, by lying to kids about condoms.

(3) I haven't been posting lately, in part because I've been sort of getting into it in the comments on this pro-life blog. See these two threads, and click on the comments. Some of them don't make all that much sense; it's difficult to argue. And if you go there please be civil if you post any comments.

(4) Back to the Bengals... they really looked good on Sunday - although I suspect that next week, when they have to play at New England, we Bengals fans will be quoting Mace Windu (as played by Samuel Jackson) in Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. "This party's over."
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Sunday, December 05, 2004

One Hundred 

That's how many points the Browns have given up the last two weeks.
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Friday, December 03, 2004

Boondocks 

From Today


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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Bush's nominations just keep getting better 

So, Al "Torture is cool" Gonzalez nominated as AG. Next, Condi "I'm supposed to coordinate national security policy yet didn't read the one document meant to synthsize all intelligence on Iraq" Rice becomes SOS (runner up name was Condi "I lied to the 9/11 Commission under oath about the PDB" Rice).

Now, we get Bernard Kerik as Director of the Department of Homeland Security.* I promise you he tops both those assholes mentioned above. Via No More Mister Nice Blog**, Kerik, the former NYPD Police Commissioner, I see he said:
"Saddam didn't do 9/11. But did Saddam fund, and train al-Qaida? The answer is yes. Then ask yourself, who hit the towers?"

Finally, Kerik had this to say to critics of the war: "Political criticism is our enemies' best friend."
This man must not be given this role. Ever.

*I'm not sure Director is the correct title, but don't feel like finding out

**It's actually a damn good blog he runs.
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CSI: Miami 

So, I've decided this show sucks, but sucks much less (and maybe is even worth watching because the HD it's filmed in looks great) if you view David Caruso's perfomance as a comedy role.
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The DNC Chairmanship 

I don't really care who becomes the Chair of the DNC. Well, I do, but I just don't really have any insight into which candidates might be good and might be bad. But, now that the Editors of the New Republicans Republic (the same braintrust that brought you such hits as "Leiberman for President" and "Invade Iraq Now") have come out in full force against Dean*, I think I need to start pushing hard for a Dean Chairmanship.

*Subscription required, I think.

UPDATE: Via pandagon, I see Dean gave a speech at Stanford recently. It convinced me.
Dean urged the Democratic Party leadership to present "an opposition model, a real difference" to the Republican platform. "If you ever want to win again, then stand for something, stand for what you believe in," he said.

Democrats are "bad at messaging" their moral values, which Dean said are rooted in "a sense of obligation to each other." He advocated speaking about charged issues on Democratic terms.

"Instead of fighting about gay marriage, what we ought to be fighting about is that every single American has the same rights as every other American," he said. "We don’t have to debate on their terms, let’s debate them on our terms."
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