Friday, July 31, 2009

Some day, I will get through the entire day without posting anything featuring the word “underwear” – this is not that day

Frankie Boyle asks on Mock the Week, how big a bail-out, how much money do we have to give the banks before they stop chaining the pens up?

In Britain, prisoners of the pagan persuasion (there are 366 of them) are to be allowed to keep: a hoodless robe (to be used only, repeat only, during ceremonies), a twig to be used as a wand, incense, one piece of jewelry, rune stones, tarot cards which are not repeat not to be used to tell the fortunes of other prisoners and “only following a local risk assessment.” No naked worship. They can choose two holidays from work from the following options: Halloween, the midsummer solstice, the vernal equinox. They can use wine during worship – one sip only. Oh, the Times’s headline: “Privileges Ease Spell in Prison for Pagans.”

Today’s Headline of the Day features underwear for the second day in a row. Hmm. From the London Times: “Astronaut Koichi Wakata Didn’t Change Underwear for a Month.” Evidently, they’re special NASA underpants, or at least that’s what the guys in Mission Control told him in between barely suppressed snickers.

In other underwear news, here’s a guy who held up a BP station in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex using underwear as a mask.

A clunker twitter

John McCain is against cash for clunkers...

because it’s generational theft.

As opposed to when he married a rich heiress young enough to be his daughter. Cash for clunkers, indeed.

Does the NYT actually employ editors?

Kristof’s column: “Here in Pakistan, 1 woman in 74 will die at some point in her life from complications during pregnancy.” At some point in her life? I’m guessing at the end of it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yay, racism in America is over

Beer! “The cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems.” Why did no one think of this before? I mean, all “Skip” Gates ever did about racism before this was write book after book after book on the subject.

But what was Biden doing there? If you’re thinking he was there purely in order that the number of white guys was the same as the number of black guys, you’re forgetting about the – heh heh – butler.

Anyway, on to the inevitable CAPTION CONTEST, which asks the question, But what did Joe Biden say?

In which the age-old question, thong or underwear, is again posed (so to speak)

An Alert Reader has sent in a BBC story, “Flying Underwear Causes Power Cut” as a suggested Headline of the Day. And it’s good, oh it’s good, but now I’m going back and forth in my mind over whether “Flying Thong Causes Power Cut” might have been better (when you have a blog, this is the sort of dilemma with which you are faced every single day). What do you think?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Medical news you can use: cupcakes are good for your health

Obama held a town hall meeting today in a high school in Raleigh, North Carolina and another one in the produce section of a supermarket in Bristol, Virginia. The comments here are from the former, the pictures from the latter because what’s better, this

or this?

HE’S IN THE POCKET OF BIG CUPCAKE: “Sara Coleman for the wonderful introduction. Give her a great round of applause. (Applause.) She brought me a Cupcake Factory teeshirt -- (laughter) -- but no cupcakes. (Laughter.) I mean, I know I’ve been talking about health care a lot, but I think cupcakes are good for your health.”

UM, YAY? “We’re losing jobs at half the rate we were when I took office six months ago. (Applause.)”

“BAILOUT OF CAPITALIST SWINE,” THAT’S WHAT I WANT TO CALL IT. OR MAYBE “BARNEY.” “Now, there’s a lot of misinformation about the Recovery Act or the stimulus, whatever you want to call it.”

WHAT MAKES BARACK SCRATCH HIS HEAD: “although I’ve got to say, when I hear critics talk about out-of-control spending, I start scratching my head. I can’t help but remember those same critics contributed to a $1.3 trillion deficit that I inherited when I took office. You hand me a $1.3 trillion bill and then you’re complaining six months later because we haven’t paid it all back.” AND GUESS WHOSE FACE IS ON THE $1.3 TRILLION BILL?

IF NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT IT, HOW CAN YOU BE TIRED OF HEARING IT? “First of all, nobody is talking about some government takeover of health care. I’m tired of hearing that.”


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Of teddy bears, giant food, and Batman

Headline of the Day (Times of London): “Teddy Bear Picnics Banned as Swine Flu Rules Hit Nurseries.”

Holy colonial relic, Batman!

Other Headline of the Day: “Giant Food Shows Continued Sales Growth.”

Economies of scale

Some study claims that obese people spend 41% more on health care, $1,500 per year. But does this so-called study take into account the cost savings from buying the economy-sized bag of Cheetos? I thought not.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I never ordered any combatant to eat anyone

At his war crimes trial, Charles Taylor today again denied that cannibalism: “it makes you feel like throwing up.” So no seconds for you? For you foodies out there, the transcript will be a must: “Mr Marzah went into detail as to how the victims were sliced up for cooking and seasoned.”

OH NO, HOW WILL WE OVERTHROW CASTRO NOW? The ticker the Bushies put in the building of the US interests section in Havana will no longer flash their messages of freedom to the enslaved Cuban masses. From the Guardian: “The ticker made little visible impact on Cubans but became a tourist attraction. Cumbersome technology, however, diminished its impact. The sign was slow-moving, difficult to read and lacked Spanish accents and tildes. For instance ‘año’, which means year, appeared as ‘ano’, which means anus.”

Another Sarah Palin contest, because we’re not done with her yet

Chris Clarke of the blog Coyote Crossing has re-written the Gettysburg Address as Sarah Palin would have delivered it.

But doggone it, there are so many speeches that could benefit from the Palin touch.
“We will fight on the beeches, which I can see from my house...”

“Friends, Romans from the pro-Rome part of this great country...”

“As for me, give me liberty or, aw heck, I quit...”

“I have a dream that one day, the sons of Cheechakos and the sons of Sourdoughs...”

“I know I have the body but of a hot and MILFy woman...”

“The only thing we have to fear is, aw heck, I quit...”

“I come not to praise Joe the Plumber...”

“Ask not what you can do for your country, ask, aw heck, I quit...”

More, please, in comments.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How about ya quit makin’ things up?

Today Sarah Palin held her third and final governor’s resignation picnic. She served the masses hot dogs and a speech, both of which were composed of processed, ground-up chunks of miscellaneous unidentifiable meat products and rat turds.

She suggested to the press that they leave the new governor’s kids alone and “How about, in honor of the American soldier, ya quit makin’ things up?” Sarah, no one could make you up if they tried.

SHE’S COMING AFTER YOU, KUNG FU PANDA: “Hollywood needs to know: we eat, therefore we hunt.”

“Be wary of accepting government largess. It doesn’t come free, and often accepting it takes away everything that is free.” The unemployed lady went on to say that it removed incentives to hard to work.

“Alaska is the gate-keeper of the continent.” Don’t let the gate of the continent hit you in the ass on the way out, Sarah.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Quittin’ time

Sarah Palin is entering her last day in office, which she timed to come after the governor’s picnics. Here she (“Patriot”) and Piper (“Alaska grown”) serve traditional Eskimo fare.


And hijinks ensued

Hamas sponsors a mass wedding of 382 couples at a refugee camp in Syria, the idea being to allow an affordable way for the refugees to get married (Hamas also gave them a gift of $2,100). But, according to the AP, “The brides and grooms were separated during a wedding party... as observant Muslims do not mix in public.” Boy do I see the opportunity for a sitcom-style wacky mixup.

War isn’t worth one life

Following the death today of Harry Patch, a World War I (and indeed, Passchendaele) vet and, judging by his name, a minor character in a Dickens novel, there remain only three veterans of the Great War. Patch was the last who had seen battle in the trenches. Said Patch, “War isn’t worth one life.” He tried to aim only at the Germans’ legs. He was wounded by a shell and spent a year in hospital. Like Henry Allingham, he survived his children. He was married to his first wife for 58 years and his second wife for 24, and has also out-lived a girlfriend, because he was still picking up chicks as a centenarian. Which is awesome and gross in equal measure.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up

Berlusconi’s prostitute is suing the foreign minister for impugning her reputation. Let me just repeat that: Berlusconi’s prostitute is suing the foreign minister for impugning her reputation.

There are now a record number of inmates serving life sentences, 10% of all prisoners, twice that in three-strikes California. 2/3 of the lifers are black or Latino.

Orrin Hatch, who says he will vote against Sotomayor: “In truth, I wish President Obama had chosen a Hispanic nominee that all Senators could support.” Edward James Olmos? Ugly Betty? Eric Estrada? Freddie Prinze Jr? It’s Eric Estrada, isn’t it?

Obama invites Henry Louis Gates and the cop who arrested him to the White House for a beer. I’m now officially embarrassed by my president. If Gates doesn’t go have a beer with his persecutor, he looks like a jerk. Obama says that the arrest was an overreaction but “Professor Gates probably overreacted as well.” Who did Gates put in handcuffs and put in a cell for 4 hours? Let’s not try to create equivalences here. Only one of the two had authority granted to him by the state over the other.

Another reason not to create equivalence: Gates probably doesn’t deal with cops every day, but it’s Sgt. Crowley’s job to deal with members of the public in stressful circumstances. If he’s doing his job properly, he will get cursed at or shouted at several times a week. He should be able to handle it without taking it personally.

In their conversation, Sgt. Crowley complained to Obama that the press have been coming onto his lawn. Yes, isn’t it annoying when people come uninvited onto your property?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Your new doctor

My New York Times today had this full-page ad from the Cato Institute:

Er, Doctor Sam, what exactly are you planning to do with that finger?

Crappy job market

An Alert Reader sent in this story from the South China Morning Post:
SHANDONG - Five college graduates have won fiercely contested jobs as excrement collectors in Jinan, the Qilu Evening News reports. The five beat out 391 candidates, including one postgraduate and many university graduates. They passed a written test and had an interview. The job had previously been hard to fill, but in the tough job market, many people were attracted by the good benefits.
CONTEST: What questions were on the written test? Also, what might those “good benefits” be?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Obama press conference: I’ve got a doctor following me every minute

Yesterday, Katie Couric asked Obama whether abortion would be covered under his health care plan (no one asked about abortion in today’s press conference). He responded with evasion and indifference, saying he wouldn’t, “at this stage,” “micromanage benefits,” and that there is “a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care.” Oh well, if it’s a tradition, like Sloppy Joe Wednesdays and disregard of women’s health issues. Clearly, tradition must be given more weight than justice or whatever. “Rather than wade into that issue at this point, I think that it’s appropriate for us to figure out how to just deliver on the cost savings...” Like, did you know how much we can save by not covering anything related to chicks’ lady-parts? “...and not get distracted by the abortion debate at this station.” Those silly women, always trying to distract Obama from the important stuff.

HAVE THEY CHECKED BEHIND THE COUCH? Factoid Obama has been repeating over and over this week: 14,000 people lose their health insurance every day.

Press conference transcript.

OH, HE KNOWS US SO WELL: “a lot of Americans may be wondering, ‘What’s in this for me?”

“SO LET ME BE CLEAR” IS THE NEW “IN OTHER WORDS”: “So let me be clear: If we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit.”

YOU KNOW, THE CHEAP BEST CARE: “Our proposals would change incentives so that doctors and nurses are free to give patients the best care, just not the most expensive care.” Fortunately, there are no circumstances in which the best care is also the most expensive care; never happens.

“SO LET ME BE CLEAR” IS THE NEW “IN OTHER WORDS”: “So let me be clear: This isn’t about me. I have great health insurance, and so does every member of Congress.” I know that makes me feel better.

WHAT THIS IS ABOUT: “This is about the middle-class college graduate from Maryland whose health insurance expired when he changed jobs and woke up from the emergency surgery that he required with $10,000 worth of debt.” Ah yes, debt-insertion surgery.

“I want to cover everybody. Now, the truth is that, unless you have a -- what’s called a single-payer system, in which everybody is automatically covered, then you’re probably not going to reach every single individual because there’s always going to be somebody out there who thinks they’re indestructible and doesn’t want to get health care, doesn’t bother getting health care, and then, unfortunately, when they get hit by a bus, end up in the emergency room and the rest of us have to pay for it.” So what’s the argument here? Since he doesn’t support single-payer, I guess he’s okay with Indestructible Boy’s ER bill being paid by the rest of us. Maybe this person is just too big a jerk to be worth covering. Also, is Jim DeMint driving the bus?

He claims that 97 to 98% of the population will be covered. Sure it will.

BECAUSE RED IS OUR FAVORITE COLOR? “If there’s a blue pill and a red pill, and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that’s going to make you well?”

BECAUSE IT WAS... MURDER! “But people are no longer talking about the financial system falling off a cliff.”

On Wall Street compensation: “I’d like to think that people would feel a little remorse and feel embarrassed and would not get million-dollar or multimillion-dollar bonuses.” Yes, because if there’s one thing they have with abundance on Wall Street, it’s remorse and a sense of embarrassment.

KEEP THEM HONEST? WHEN WERE THEY HONEST BEFORE? “And part of the reason we want to have a public option is just to help keep the insurance companies honest.”

AND A BUNCH OF GUYS WITH DART GUNS FOLLOW BIDEN EVERY MINUTE, IN CASE HE SAYS SOMETHING STUPID: Asked the silly question of whether he (and Congress) should get no better than the public option: “You know, I would be happy to abide by the same benefit package. I will just be honest with you. I’m the president of the United States, so I’ve got a doctor following me every minute...”

Asked about the arrest of Harvard’s Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at his own home, he said “the Cambridge police acted stupidly.”

JIGGER, I SAID JIGGER! “I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now, so... (LAUGHTER) ... it probably wouldn’t happen. But let’s say my old house in Chicago. (LAUGHTER) Here, I’d get shot.”

Obama was wonkish and, let’s face it, boring, like he has no real passion for the issue. Also rambling and at times evasive. It didn’t move the health-care debate along, didn’t put any pressure on Congress, or hit back against his critics. So why did he want to hold a prime-time press conference anyway?

They are acting out to send a message that we’re not interested in receiving

Hillary Clinton on North Korea’s latest nuclear and missile tests: “Maybe it’s the mother in me or the experience that I’ve had with small children and unruly teenagers and people who are demanding attention – don’t give it to them. They don’t deserve it. They are acting out to send a message that we’re not interested in receiving.” 1) Yeah in your household it was Chelsea who was unruly and acting out and demanding attention. 2) This is your idea of effective diplomacy? 3) Did Bush’s “ignore them and maybe they’ll go away” policy towards NK work? 4) They’re NUKES. It’s not a tantrum, it’s the most dangerous weaponry on the planet.

On the two journalists still being held by North Korea, she has switched the US position from demanding their release because they did nothing wrong to asking for clemency because they admit being criminals: “The young women themselves have, apparently, admitted that they probably did trespass so they are deeply regretful and we are very sorry it’s happened.” She’s treating as truthful statements which were made by people being held by North Korea?


Folks think I’m a city boy

Last night Obama had an “Evening of Country Music” at the White House, which has seen many awkward events but not many more so (Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe in the same room, Shrub’s Hanukkah celebrations, and Nixon dining alone come to mind) (oo, IMPROMPTU CONTEST: name some other awkward White House events).

Obama claimed to enjoy country music: “Now, I know folks think I’m a ‘city boy’ -- (laughter) -- but I do appreciate listening to country music because like all Americans, I appreciate the broad and indelible impact that country has had on our nation.” “After all, name me any other country that would have produced a Hank Williams or a Willie Nelson.”

Here are the Obamas’ “I’m just sitting here, enjoying the country music” faces.

And you know where he can stick that knife...

The Terminagovernor, responsible for making a horrendous budget so much more horrendouser, plays with a knife and gibbers about autographing state vehicles and selling them on Ebay in this (30-second) video he posted via Twitter.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The king is dead, hail to the king

There has been much talk about how Walter Cronkite was never replaced as the “most trusted man in America,” what with growing cynicism and the splintering of news media and so on. But...

That is just not true.



I mean modesty forbids, but...

I will try to use my power only for good.

Is John McCain showing his age again?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Obama Meets the Moon People

Today, Barack Obama met with leaders of the Mormon church and with the Apollo 11 astronauts. Not at the same time, which is a shame because they surely must have loads in common. For example, the former wear magic underpants, the latter pooped in their space suits.

Mysteriously, there seem to be no pictures of the meeting with the Mormons, but Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the, you know, other one, faked their White House footage on a sound stage in a Northrop Grumman hangar.


A real sign of desperation and inappropriate criminal behavior

The Toronto Star confirms that under Obama there has been no review of the policy of force-feeding prisoners at Guantanamo. They also quote various military types about how that policy is neither cruel nor inhumane.

Elsewhere, other military types are complaining about the cruelty and inhumanity of the Taliban showing video of Priv. Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier they took prisoner. And Hillary Clinton calls the capture “a real sign of desperation and inappropriate criminal behavior”. I’m sure the Taliban will be just mortified to have their actions called inappropriate.

By the way, how is it inappropriate for combatants in a war to take prisoners?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Free Canada!

I gather that Mitch McConnell was on Meet the Press today repeating the favorite Republican notion that Canadians would all much rather have the US health care system. Isn’t it sad that Canada isn’t a democracy, and cannot just elect the Canadian equivalents of Mitch McConnell to tear down their hated Socialist Health Care?

How long is that in slog years?

America will not accept a “long slog” in Afghanistan without signs that “we are making headway,” Secretary of Long Slogs Robert Gates says. If eight years isn’t a long slog, I wonder what is?

He says we’ll need to show progress by 2 Friedman Units from now. If we do, “then you can put more time on the Washington clock.” Oh good.

It is at your funeral that you in many ways can see most clearly the things that really matter in life

Can’t believe I forgot we owned an air strip in Honduras. But when President Zelaya tried to return to his country and they parked all those tanks on the runways at Tegucigalpa’s airport, we didn’t let him use ours. That in an Indy article that points out how many of Bush’s Latin American people are still hanging around in the Obama foreign policy establishment.

Gov. Mark Sanford issues an apology to the people of South Carolina. There are few things on this earth as irritating as a Christian doing that pathetic-smug I-done-wrong-but-God-will-make-it-all-better thing, and this is a superb exemplar of the genre, which I urge you to read for yourselves. Anyway, he’s grown from his mistakes and will be a much better governor in consequence. So that’s all right then. Words not used in the letter: resignation, Appalachian Trail, adultery, sparking thing, two magnificent parts of yourself, soul mate...

(Update: Marcy Wheeler: “Shorter Mark Sanford: I learned at C Street that we powerful people are always forgiven due to God’s grace, so I see my sins as a sign from God that I should stay governor.”)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Wonder what her porn name is

Name of the Day: the head of the (British) Charity Commission, currently cracking down on private schools: Dame Suzi Leather. Wikipedia says she is the daughter of a sex therapist and a doctor. Figures. And she is married to a Professor Iain Hampsher-Monk.

Farewell Henry Allingham. We hardly knew ye. 113 years old. Outlived his children, had 5 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild. Married more than 50 years, then a widower for 39 years. Was retired longer than he worked. Unimaginable. He leaves only a handful of World War I vets (inc 2 British, 1 American). He said of the Great War, “I saw too many things I would like to forget but I never will forget them, I never can forget them.”

Of giant pastries and other things, but I had you at “giant pastries,” didn’t I?

Bakers in Nablus in the West Bank have created the world’s biggest kunafa (some sort of pastry involving goat cheese), 243 feet long in order to get into the Guinness Book of World Records. Why, there’s Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad. And the only guy using a fork to eat his kunafa is the American Consul-General in Jerusalem Jacob Walles.

Meanwhile Gaza is working on its bid to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest prison camp. Fingers crossed.

Yet another demo by Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox against the municipal parking lot, this time without rioting (update: well, a few stones thrown at passing cars), possibly because they were tired out from rioting earlier in the week over the arrest of a mentally disturbed ultra-O. woman for starving her 3-year-old son almost to death (they were against it: the arrest, not the starving thing). The authorities released her on bail into house arrest (how house arrest is different from, you know, being an ultra-Orthodox woman, no one has explained). She has 4 other children and another rugulah in the oven.

Funny, I had a late lunch but I’m suddenly hungry.

Gene Weingarten has some questions for Cheney’s publisher.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We did not think that symbol was anything wrong

Headline of the Day (London Times): “Charles Taylor Defends Use of Human Skulls.” At roadblocks during the coup. He says it was an effective means of gently encouraging people to obey soldiers’ orders. But not stringing human entrails against the road, he entirely denies that ever happened. And only skulls, not human heads with the flesh still on them: “I would not have tolerated anyone killing and putting a human head up.” And only “enemy skulls.” Also, “We are not talking about skulls lying around all over the place [but only] at certain strategic junctions.” So that’s okay then.

The Un-Sotomayor

Linda Chavez began her testimony at the Sotomayor hearings today with the only honest words of her career: “I testify today not as a wise Latina woman”.

What Sarah Palin learned from the bears

From Palin’s Twitter feed (click for larger):

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sotomayor hearings: Lots of ‘splainin’ to do

In this morning’s questioning, Cornyn continued to be befuddled by the whole concept of a “wise Latina woman.” “Isn’t that a contradiction in terms,” he asked?

Cornyn was also befuddled by the notion that there is some “indefiniteness” in the law, which is kind of the reason we have a Supreme Court in the first place.

Cornyn was still further befuddled by the notion that judges bring “life experiences” to the bench, which is why we don’t pick the Supreme Court by putting the names of every American into a giant hat.

Tom “OMG, Lesbians in the Bathrooms!” Coburn posed a hypothetical case about abortion: “Let’s say I’m 38 weeks pregnant and we discover a small spina bifida sack on the lower sacrum... Would it be legal in this country to terminate that child’s life?” Sotomayor explains to him very gently (because you know what pregnant men are like) that abortion is actually regulated at the state rather than the federal level.

Coburn asked over and over whether there is a “right to personal self-defense.” Finally, she set up a scenario:
But, under New York law, if you’re being threatened with eminent death or very serious injury, you can use force to repel that, and that would be legal. The question that would come up, and does come up before juries and judges, is how eminent is the threat. If the threat was in this room, “I’m going to come get you,” and you go home and get -- or I go home. I don’t want to suggest I am, by the way. Please, I’m not -- I don’t want anybody to misunderstand what I’m trying to say. If I go home, get a gun, come back and shoot you, that may not be legal under New York law because you would have alternative ways to defend...

COBURN: You’ll have lots of ‘splainin’ to do.

SOTOMAYOR: Waaaa, Ricky!

I may have added that last bit.

How could they sink so low

Former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, surely one of the human race’s ten most appalling living members, asks an important question at his war crimes trial in The Hague: “People have me eating human beings. How could they sink so low as to think that of me?”

How indeed?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lindsey, do you have a douchbaggery problem?

CONTEST: Provide a better answer than whatever Sotomayor said, which I can’t even remember, in response to Lindsey Graham’s question, “Do you think you have a temperament problem?”

ALTERNATE CONTEST: Provide a caption for this photo:

Follow the bouncing ball

Caption contest

Sotomayor hearings: we’re not robots

Sotomayor: “we’re not robots who listen to evidence and don’t have feelings”. That’s just a dreadful calumny against Robot-Americans.

The corollary of the Republican complaints against the idea that a “wise Latina woman” might bring something to the bench, is that a judiciary composed entirely of dumb white men and/or robots would not be lacking in any way. Would they care to argue this case?

Speaking of robots who don’t have feelings, here is a super-awesome ad just released by California’s robot overlord. The music, the Teutonic enunciation, the way he sits at an angle to the camera, the way he stands up as he intones, “I am standing firm for a balanced budget that does not raise your taxes,” the way the color of every part of his head comes from a bottle, the way he calls for us to stand (firm) with him but sounds like he plans to kill us all...

SIZE MATTERS: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-Way Down South in the Land of Cotton) asked Sotomayor: “do you think that Frank Ricci and the other firefighters whose claims you dismissed felt that their arguments and concerns were appropriately understood and acknowledged by such a short opinion from the court?” What, Jeffy, “Go eat a bag of dicks” too pithy for you? Of course we all remember Scalia’s famous opinion in Bush v. Gore:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sotomayor hearings: Most of our judges understand what it’s like to be old

More opening statements (Sessions’ in previous post).

Chuck Grassley: “Judge Sotomayor, I’ll be asking you about your ability to wear that judicial blindfold.” Kinky.

Lindsey Graham attempted to out-brown her: “No Republican would have chosen you, Judge; that’s just the way it is. We would have picked Miguel Estrada. We would all have voted for him. And I don’t think anybody on that side would have voted for Judge Estrada, who is a Honduran immigrant... So the Hispanic element of this hearing’s important... my Republican colleagues who vote against you I assure you could vote for a Hispanic nominee.” So that’s okay, then.

(Update: By the time I got around to writing the post, I’d forgotten why I selected the quote: No Republican would have chosen Sotomayor? Hey Lindsey, who appointed her to a judgeship the first time?)

A WARNING TO KEEP HER HOT LATIN BLOOD IN CHECK: “Now, unless you have a complete meltdown, you’re going to get confirmed.”

WHAT BOTHERS LINDSEY: “It just bothers me when somebody wearing a robe takes the robe off and says that their experience makes them better than someone else.” Especially if they’re wearing women’s underwear but they’re not a woman – I’m looking at you, Scalia.

SO THERE: “I think your experience can add a lot to the court, but I don’t think it makes you better than anyone else.”

Tom Coburn, who brings to the Judiciary Committee, as he told John Roberts, his “medical skills of observation of body language”:

SOMETHING REMARKABLE: “It is truly an honor to have you before us. It is -- says something remarkable about our country that you’re here.” And something remarkable about you that you’re still awake... Ms. Sotomayor?... hello?

“And I assure you, during your time before this committee, you will be treated with the utmost respect and kindness.” ACCUSATION OF RACISM IN 5,4,3...

EVIDENTLY SOMEONE WHO COMES FROM THE HEARTLAND GRASPS AND HOLDS MORE THAN A WISE LATINA DOES: “And I’m worried that our Constitution may be seen to be malleable and evolving when I, as someone who comes from the heartland, seems to grasp and hold and the people that I represent from the state of Oklahoma seem to grasp and hold that there is a foundational document and there are statutes and occasionally treaties that should be the rule, rather than our opinions.” Can we just agree that anyone who’s ever argued that there is more wisdom in one part of the country than another or used the phrase “San Francisco liberal” or “un-American parts of our nation,” can just shut up about the “wise Latina” thing?

“During the campaign, he promised to nominate someone who’s got the heart and the empathy to recognize what it’s like to be a young, teenaged mom. The implication is that our judges today don’t have that. Do you realize how astounding that is? The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, to be African-American or gay or disabled or old. Most of our judges understand what it’s like to be old.”

WHERE EMPATHY COMES FROM (THE STORK?): “We expect a judge to merely call balls and strikes? Maybe so, maybe not. But we certainly don’t expect them to sympathize with one party over the other, and that’s where empathy comes from.”

Sotomayor hearings: Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another

Just as I turned on the Sotomayor hearing, heard Lindsey Graham say “wise Latina woman”; turned off Sotomayor hearing.

But Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (by the way, that is the way he referred to himself before he became “Jeff” to run for the Senate) has helpfully posted his opening remarks online.

LEAHY BROUGHT BROWNIES! “I hope it will be viewed as the best hearing this Committee has ever held.”

SO THEY CAN HEAR YOU CALLED A RACIST OVER AND OVER: “I know your family is proud, and rightfully so. It is a pleasure to have them with us today.”

“I expect this hearing and resulting debate to be characterized by a respectful tone, a discussion of serious issues, and a thoughtful dialogue”. FIRST ACCUSATION OF RACISM IN 5,4,3...

DUDE, YOU JUST BLEW MY MIND: “our legal system is based on a firm belief in an ordered universe and objective truth.”

He warned of “a Brave New World where words have no true meaning...” I mean, “rhubarb” could mean “rutabaga”! It’s a madhouse I tell you, a madhouse!!! “...and judges are free to decide what facts they choose to see.” I was going to make a Fox News joke or something, but in a court, isn’t “deciding what facts they choose to see” actually called “applying the rules of evidence”?

“We have seen federal judges force their own political and social agenda on the nation, dictating that the words ‘under God’ be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance and barring students from even silent prayer in schools.” Putting aside that “under God” was a late addition to the pledge, any court ruling wouldn’t actually govern the content of the pledge, just what can be said in a secular public school. Also, in addition to the metal detectors that schools now have, which they didn’t have in my day, are there also telepaths to ensure that students don’t engage in “even silent prayer”?

“Judges have – contrary to the longstanding rules of war – created a right for terrorists, captured on a foreign battlefield, to sue the United States government in our own courts. Judges have cited foreign laws, world opinion, and a United Nations resolution to determine that a state death penalty law was unconstitutional.” Note that Sessions, in the sentence immediately preceding the one expressing his disgust with foreign laws, world opinion etc being mentioned in an American court of law, suggested that “longstanding rules of war” should have precedence over the United States Constitution.

CALL IT RHUBARB: “Call it empathy, call it prejudice, or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it is not law.”

CLUELESS: “Could it be that her time as a leader of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund provides a clue as to her decision against the firefighters?”

EMPATHY IS ALWAYS PREJUDICE: “It seems to me that in Ricci, Judge Sotomayor’s empathy for one group of firefighters turned out to be prejudice against the others. That is, of course, the logical flaw in the ‘empathy standard.’ Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another.” And there’s the Republican party’s philosophy encapsulated for you.

BECAUSE HE HATES US, AND WANTS US TO SUFFER: “I hope the American people will follow these hearings closely.”

A SLIGHTLY STONED, MELLOW JUDGE? “And, at the end of the hearing, ask, If I must one day go to court, what kind of judge do I want to hear my case?”

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Sotomayor hearings

I don’t think I’ll be C-SPANning them, because watching them will lack one oddly perverse pleasure of past Judiciary Committee hearings: yelling at Joe Biden to shut up already.

Friday, July 10, 2009

At least the Taliban never pretended not to be misogynist assholes

Afghanistan’s Shia family law, the one that was postponed after an attempt to sneak it through in spring (Karzai claimed he had signed it without reading it), is back in slightly revised form. It contained many objectionable provisions, including permitting girls to be married off immediately after menarche, though the Western press focused almost entirely on the one stating that wives could not refuse their husband’s sexual demands. My googling today shows that many newspapers have shortened an AP story on the new version to two sentences, saying that “The new version no longer requires a woman submit to sex with her husband, only that she do certain housework.” In fact, it also says that husbands may deny food to wives who deny them sex. Guardianship rights over children are given exclusively to men, the payment of blood money is allowed as sufficient punishment for rape of a child. The provision that wives must have their husband’s permission to leave the house seems to be gone. Not sure about child marriage.

A laying on of hands

“You are healed!”

“Why thank you, Mr. Obama.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

You have to sacrifice to win

So Sarah Palin delayed her resignation until the 26th because she had to have a picnic first, or something. Since she was out fishing for salmon yesterday, I assume she also had some vacation days to use up. What other vital business is she finishing off?

She is also sharing some philosophy with her many loyal followers.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Caption contest, ginormous cannon version

Barack Obama is in Russia; Medvedev is showing off his cannon and his two cannon balls. CAPTION CONTEST.

Propaganda vehicles

After keeping her captive a week, Israel finally releases former Congresscritter Cynthia McKinney and 15 other activists who had tried to bring a ship of food and medicine and crayons to Gaza (4 are still being held). Evidently they would have been released earlier if they’d signed a confession. Israel’s UN ambassador had said, “clearly the purpose of that ship was to create a buzz and serve as a propaganda vehicle against Israel.” Well, yes, obviously that was one of the purposes, but you know, there’s a reason why someone bringing food and medicine to Gaza makes you look bad. If people getting the food and medicine they need is, you know, normal, commonplace, then food and medicine can’t be a “propaganda vehicle.”

Speaking of propaganda vehicles, Zelaya’s attempt to return to Honduras by plane was (literally) blocked. I think he should do it again and again, three times a day. They can get their tanks off the runway and let him land – or lose the use of Tegucigalpa’s international airport.

Speaking of propaganda vehicles, the BBC’s caption for this picture reads, “Metropolitan Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church blesses motorcycles before a procession to mark the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, a victory by Russia’s Emperor Peter the Great against Sweden.”

A diagram (creator unknown) of things to say/not say during sex.

More effective paths

BECAUSE SARAH IS ALWAYS ALL ABOUT THE EFFECTIVE PATHS: Anchorage Daily News: “Palin said she is embarking on a ‘different, more effective path’ than finishing her term. Asked how, she said she didn’t know at this point, other than to campaign for political candidates who represent the values she supports.”

And ABC, one of several news media lined up to interview her as she did whatever one does with dead salmon, notes her comment that all those ethics complaints against her would go away if she just became president: “‘I think on a national level, your department of law there in the White House would look at some of the things that we’ve been charged with and automatically throw them out,’ she said. There is no ‘Department of Law’ at the White House.”

(Update: which would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Breaking! There is something about himself that Obama doesn’t like!

Russian tv asked Obama what he doesn’t like about himself. “I don’t like my golf swing.”

The LA Times has an article about a Marine whose recruiters knew he was autistic (he was recruited out of a group home for disturbed youths) and that he was legally barred from signing contracts. It didn’t work out very well.

We cannot dictate

Joe Biden, apparently giving the green light to Israel to bomb Iran: “Look, we cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination — if they make a determination — that they’re existentially threatened and their survival is threatened by another country.”

Unless of course that sovereign nation is Iran and it’s made a determination that it is existentially threatened by another country.

(Before anyone jumps into comments: Yes, I know that there is no especially credible evidence that Iran is even trying to build nukes; that’s neither here nor there for my point that we dictate to sovereign nations on these matters all the freaking time.)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

False info on the right decision

Yesterday, Joey Chestnut won the Coney Island hot dog-eating championship, downing a record 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Today, Sarah Palin attempts to beat the record for most convolutions in 140 characters.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Park, redux

I should have known better than to try out a new Firefox release the first week. Someone tell me when 3.5 actually works.

Nice fireworks, which I was able to watch 20 feet from my front door. The cat should be out from under the chair by Labor Day.

The wife of Sir John Sawer, the guy who’s supposed to take over as head of the British Secret Service (“C”) later this year, made a little security booboo by putting everything about her life on Facebook, including holiday pictures, one of them featuring a blindingly pale Sir John playing frisbee in his swim suit, the location of their London flat, where their children and parents can be found, etc etc. Not that she didn’t have some privacy for her page: only 200 million people had access to it.

Another weekend of rioting in Jerusalem over a parking lot being opened on the sabbath. Ultra-Orthodox threw stones at traffic and at the police, calling them “Nazis” (the Nazis were well-known for their support of ample parking) (for example they designated the whole of Poland a parking lot) and “ant-semites.” I’m just enjoying the pictures.

If you respect life

The archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, went on tv to tell Zelaya he shouldn’t come back to Honduras. He cited the commandments against lying (the archbishop, by the way, once said that Jews were using the media to exploit the accusations of sexual abuse against priests in order to divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian issue), stealing and murder. “If you respect life, if you love life. . .please meditate because if not it could be too late.” Archbishops supporting coups; it really is the 1980s all over again.

Curiously, you no longer hear the Honduran coupsters claiming that Zelaya resigned, although the Honduran Congress voted, not to depose Zelaya, but to accept a forged written resignation.

If you’re looking for something to read about the nature of the United States on this July 4th, you could do worse than Stephen Fry’s recent talk to the Royal Geographical Society. Have some lemonade with it.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Only dead fish go with the flow

An Indian court overturns the ban on gay sex (dating from the Raj, indeed from the Victorian period), although only in New Delhi. Plan your vacations accordingly.

Sarah Palin has resigned as governor of Alaska (transcript).

First she explained how important Alaska is: “We’re strategic IN the world as the air crossroads OF the world, as a gatekeeper of the continent.” (The odd capitalizations are from her office’s press release.)

WHAT GOD GAVE US: Also, too, “This land, blessed with clean air, water, wildlife, minerals, AND oil and gas. It’s energy! God gave us energy.”

WOULD THAT BE FRIVOLOUS ETHICS OR FRIVOLOUS VIOLATIONS? “Over the past nine months I’ve been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations”

IF – AND IT’S A BIG IF – SHE’S LEARNED ONE THING: “If I have learned one thing: LIFE is about choices!”

SHE CHOOSE TO WORK VERY HARD ON A PATH FOR FRUITFULNESS AND PRODUCTIVITY. BY QUITTING. “I choose to work very hard on a path for fruitfulness and productivity. I choose NOT to tear down and waste precious time; but to build UP this state and our country, and her industrious, generous, patriotic, free people!”

ONLY DEAD FISH. AND MAYBE USED CONDOMS: “Life is too short to compromise time and resources... it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: ‘Sit down and shut up’, but that’s the worthless, easy path; that’s a quitter’s way out. And a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and ‘go with the flow. Nah, only dead fish ‘go with the flow’.” So by quitting, she’s not taking a quitter’s way out.

“And there is such a need to BUILD up and FIGHT for our state and our country. I choose to FIGHT for it!” By quitting!

WHAT SHE’S NOT PUTTING ALASKA THROUGH: “I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks... travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade - as so many politicians do. And then I thought - that’s what’s wrong - many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and milk it.” Mmm, duck milk. “I’m not putting Alaska through that - I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! ? That’s not how I am wired.” Yeah, it would be so unlike her to take freebies.

PASSING THE BALL – FOR VICTORY! “Let me go back to a comfortable analogy for me - sports... basketball. I use it because you’re naïve if you don’t see the national full-court press picking away right now: A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket... and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can WIN. And I’m doing that - keeping our eye on the ball that represents sound priorities - smaller government, energy independence, national security, freedom! And I know when it’s time to pass the ball - for victory.”

“In fact, we will look to swear Sean in - in Fairbanks at the conclusion of our Governor’s picnics.” I don’t know what that is, but it sounds like the timing of her resignation is based on... picnics.

WHAT HER CHILDREN WON’T ALLOW: “I cannot stand here as your Governor and allow millions upon millions of our dollars go to waste just so I can hold the title of Governor. And my children won’t allow it either.” She’s referring to those expensive ethics investigations.

THE HELL YEAH SEALED IT: “this decision comes after much consideration, and finally polling the most important people in my life - my children (where the count was unanimous... well, in response to asking: ‘Want me to make a positive difference and fight for ALL our children’s future from OUTSIDE the Governor’s office?’ It was four ‘yes’s’ and one ‘hell yeah!’ The ‘hell yeah’ sealed it - and someday I’ll talk about the details of that.”

WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS MORE OF: “I think much of it had to do with the kids seeing their baby brother Trig mocked by some pretty mean-spirited adults recently.) Um, by the way, sure wish folks could ever, ever understand that we ALL could learn so much from someone like Trig - I know he needs me, but I need him even more... what a child can offer to set priorities RIGHT - that time is precious... the world needs more ‘Trigs’, not fewer.” So everybody go out and give birth to a Down Syndrome baby – do it for the world.

REAL CLIMATE CHANGE: “I don’t want any Alaskan dissuaded from entering politics after seeing this REAL ‘climate change’ that began [when McCain picked her] in August. ... And I will support you because we need YOU and YOU can effect change, and I can too on the outside.”

CALLING AN AUDIBLE (BUT NOT AN INTELLIGIBLE): “We need those who will respect our Constitution where government’s supposed to serve from the BOTTOM UP, not move toward this TOP DOWN big government take-over... but rather, will be protectors of individual rights - who also have enough common sense to acknowledge when conditions have drastically changed and are willing to call an audible and pass the ball when it’s time so the team can win! And that is what I’m doing!”

I CAN SEE IT FROM MY HOUSE: “Remember Alaska... America is now, more than ever, looking North to the Future.”

What a very strange person she is.

(Update: and she concluded with a quote from Douglas MacArthur, which as it happens was not actually a quote from Douglas MacArthur.)

I’m very much afraid that this will leave California the new proud possessor of the stupidest governor in America.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

For a limited time

Just like the big boys, for $25,000 to $250,000, I am offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to my cat.

Picture 004
You’re offering what, now?