Saturday, August 4, 2007

Howard Dean's YKos Keynote, Part 3

Howard Dean: Now, the Republicans are making a "good faith effort" to convince the Americans that this is a do-nothing Congress, that we haven't done anything. First of all, they're filibustering everything we can do. If we get it by the filibuster, then the president threatens to veto it, or he does veto it. So, let me tell you what we've done in spite of the president. In the last six months we have accomplished more than they did in six years: increasing the minimum wage, make college more affordable, healthcare for kids is going to pass, and if the president vetos it, the Republicans are going to have to atone for that on election day. Passing the 9-11 recommendations to make our communities safer--they talk about being strong, we actually do it--passing real ethics reform. The United States Senate is going to pass it today--let's see if the president will sign that. Passing a balanced budget requirement with pay-go requirements so there will be no tax cuts or new programs without saying how we're going to pay for them. We'll put an end to the notion that we're going to borrow money from our grandchildren in order to pay for what we want today. I think that's a pretty good accomplishment for six months. (Applause.)

Now, on the matter that's at the front of most of your minds--Iraq. The fact is, we started out with 49 votes in the Senate on Iraq, because Joe Lieberman doesn't vote with us on Iraq (booing) and Tim Johnson is out sick. So, 49 votes. I know how tough this is going to be, but we need to make it clear to the American people who it is that's obstructing their will on Iraq. (Applause.) It was the Republicans that kept us up all night because they wouldn't let us pass a bill a few weeks ago. And we're going to keep voting on Iraq, and voting and voting and voting and voting again. And if George Bush wants to veto the will of the American people, and if the Republicans want to obstruct what the American people want, then we'll give Susan Collins an opportunity to vote on that. We'll give John Sununu an opportunity to vote on that again. We'll give Norm Coleman and Gordon Smith an opportunity to vote again and again and again until our troops come home from Iraq! (Applause and cheers.)

It is not an accident that every single one of the Democrats running for president of the United States has a plan and has clearly said that they will get our troops home with a reasonable timetable. It is not an accident that every single one of the Republican candidates, with the exception of the Libertarian, want our troops to stay in Iraq as long as George Bush does. It is not an accident that every single Republican thought it was a great idear to commute the sentence of Scooter Libby and every single Democrat did not think that was a great idear. We are committed to ending the Republican culture of corruption that they brought to Washington, and we are committed to ending the culture of corruption in the United States Department of Justice, which fired Republican lawyers for trying to prosecute Republican congressmen. We will do better than that! (Applause and cheers.)

Our men and women in uniform have bravely done their duty. We need to support our troops and bring them home! And the American people are with us.

Howard Dean on the power of the internet

More from Howard Dean's Yearly Kos keynote address. Part 1 can be found here.

Howard Dean: Now, I want to say a few things about the net. This is an extraordinary thing, and, speaking for myself, even after the campaign four years ago, I didn't realize what a powerful tool this is. This is the most extraordinary invention for empowering ordinary people since the invention of the printing press in the `400s. It really is. It has re-democratized America. There is an enormous shift in power. I thought the YouTube/CNN debate was sensational. And why was it sensational? That is the first time since the Nixon-Kennedy debates when ordinary people, not members of the media, but ordinary people in large numbers got to ask in front of a national television audience, any question that they could dream up. Censored of course by the CNN people, but I know the person who did this. He's about 26 years old, and he basically did, I thought, a pretty good job, putting up a generation of questions that were direct and directly from people's hearts and minds, aimed at the candidates. Put them on the spot--I thought, frankly, some of those questions were a lot tougher than what the media would have asked.

But even if it was tougher or not as tough, the point is, it got the exchange outside the cozy realm of the beltway and put it out in the rest of Ameria, where it belongs. (Cheers and applause.) It's okay to make politicians a little uncomfortable--it's good for us! And what a surprise that the Republicans don't want to do it. (Laughter.)

It turns out that as the influence of the internet expands, both by more and more people using it, and by the extraordinary innovations--remember, YouTube essentially did not exist when I was running four years ago. And today, without YouTube and the people who use it, we would not have a Democratic majority in the United States Senate. (Applause.) That is true. So, what this party is about is change and evolution, and that's not not easy. There are forces of resistance even inside the Democratic party--I know that would surprise you! (Laughter.) But this party is about evolution. This party is about the future, the other party is about the past. Look at who they have running for president--doesn't that look like something out of the 1950s? Look who we have running for president! (Applause and cheers.)

The fact of the matter is, it shouldn't be true, but it is a revolutionary idear to have the public taking over the agenda of campaigns and political parties had better get used to it, because they are going to lose and become irrelevant if they don't get used to it. The power in campaigns belongs as much to shifting networks of committed citizens as it does to the political establishment. And in the long run, community-built networks will have a more dramatic effect in bringing democracy to both America and to creating democracy where it doesn't exist now--I predict now, that because of the net, and because of the extraordinary binding of the world together, that Iran and China one day will have to decide that they have to become democracies, simply because they are forced to by the extraordinary devolution of power to their citizens because of the internet. (Applause.) Nations run by authoritarian forces will not stop the dynamic of technologically enabled citizens working together. Hundreds of thousands of networking citizens will find ways to circumvent and evade government interference in the free exchange of idears, as we have already demonstrated in the United States. Repressive governments at the helms of nations that would become world or regional powers, face a difficult choice. They can allow democracy to evolve and flourish on the internet, or they can destroy the technology that enables their best and brightest and most determined citizens to network, and that will cause them to fall back into third world status.

So, we can still win the battle for a democratic world. It will not happen by sending troops to Iraq to establish democracy at the barrel of a gun. (Applause.) The truth is that the most important weapon in the struggle for world democracy is a free and open, commercially and politically unfettered internet that empowers ordinary people from across the globe to speak and act in the interest of their own communities. (Cheers and applause.)

When I started as Chairman of the DNC, I said that Democrats had to show up everywhere and campaign everywhere, and ask for everybody's vote. And that includes the way we interact with communities online. In the Democratic party we're focussed on connection, empowerment, and community organizing. And I'm incredibly proud that our candidates have begun to change with the times. We are running what I call two-way campaigns. That is, we're using technology to start a dialog and engage ordinary Americans. Traditional campaigns have relied on enormous amounts of TV advertising, 30 second spots, aimed at you, telling you what we think, and what we think you ought to do. The new campaign, the two-way campaign is, we listen to you before we start talking, and we, throughout the campaign, have a dialog between the people whose votes we're hoping to get, asking for their advice as we go through, and taking it to heart. This is not a gimmick or a "schmooze" as we call it in the trade. This means real two-way campaigns where the views and opinions of the American people have an impact on the leadership, so leaders are with the people instead of seeking to lead folks that aren't interested in being led by them. (Applause.)

It is an extraordinary evolution. An extraordinary evolution. Essentially it means that politicians have to acknowledge something that's been true for a long time. Which is, power is loaned to us--we don't own the power, and we need to earn the power every two years. (Applause.)

Taking a break from transcribing to do some family stuff. May transcribe more later, depending on whether my Sitemeter indicates that the effort is of value to people.

Howard Dean on voting and democracy

The video can be found here.

You know, this is an extraordinary conference--1400 people--I think the people that organized this really deserve a huge hand. Thank you very very much. (Applause.) And next year I have it on good authority there are going to be 2000 people--that'll be even better!

Let me just thank you, mostly, not just for coming to the conference, but thank you for what you've been doing. I want to spend a little time talking about the net and about a program that we're doing. But first, I will say this: what you have done in the last six years is to set this country on the path of restoring the democracy that George Bush and the Republicans have tried to undermine. (Applause and cheers) and I thank you for that enormously.

That's a long haul, because there's a lot to be done. And I want to talk about a project that we just announced today. The fifty state strategy and all that has been a lot of fun, and you all have been fantastic in defending what we're doing, and I appreciate that. But there's a lot of stuff that goes on in the DNC that doesn't get in the papers, or barely gets in the papers, and I want to share one of those things because a lot of the work that we do is piece by piece and bit by bit. It takes a long time to put folks out of power who have entrenched themselves the way that the right wing has.

And, next week marks the 42nd anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. But, as you know, the Republicans believe that the fewer votes are cast, the more likely it is to benefit them. And we believe that the more votes are cast, the better it is for the United States of America. (Applause.) We're the party that actually believes there is something more important than our party, and that is our country.

So, over the last 30 years or so, we've seen roadblocks and outright attacks on the right to vote, all kinds of schemes, restrictive voter ID laws, phone jamming, voter purging, voter intimidation tactics. Manipulating the mission of the Department of Justice who fired United States Attorneys who refused to pursue phony voter fraud cases. Turning the Civil Rights Division into the "voter suppression division". We can do better than this, and we will do better than this! (Applause.)

The right wing of the Republican party believes in talking about their "values"--evidently democracy is not one of them. It is a value of the Democratic party. (Applause.) So, we want everybody to be able to vote. And there's a bunch of things we've done. But, for the first time, we're going to try to do this prospectively instead of after the fact. As you know, we have paid staffers in all fifty states, and, in every single one of those states over the next couple of months--we started about three weeks ago--we are going to go to every single county election official, in charge of every single precinct in America, and find out how they run their elections. How they assign voter machines, to which precincts, what they do about voter ID, if it's required in their state. What they do about vote by mail, what they do about early voting, what they do about absentee voting. How do they do voter registration, do they have centralized voter databases.

The reason for this is, we know that election laws are written at the state and federal level, but they are often subject to interpretation at the local level, which creates a lot of variation around the country in terms of how they're run. Now, we know about the corruption that the Republicans have used, particularly in the state of Ohio and Florida and some other places like that in order to suppress votes. But a lot of the problems in voting in this country are not because of Republican corruption. It's simply because of underresourced folks at the local level, and undertrained folks at the local level. And we're going to put together a handbook for every single candidate on the Democratic side that will tell us in advance where the problems are going to be in terms of voting, so we can plan how to deal with those ten months before the election, not ten weeks or ten days before the election. (Applause.)

And the reason we're going to do this is, voting is the fundamental act in every democracy that is required to maintain a democracy, and we want everyone in America to vote. Because the fact of the matter is, voting is good for America. It also happens to be very good for the Democratic party--the more people vote, the better it is for America, but the better it is for us as well.

We also need your help. There are about 1400 people in this room. I would really appreciate it if you would you out yourselves, and get a whole lot of folks who pay attention to what you have to say and do on the net, and launch an effort aimed at every single congressman to get a voting machine right bill passed that is going to get rid of DREs by the year 2008, so that we can have ballots that will actually be counted in 2008, and stop fooling around delaying. We need that bill now! (Applause.) And we need a good bill now. And there is no group of people in America that can do this better than you. Not one group of people in America will have more influence on this bill than you do. So we need your help in Washington. The bill is stalled, it needs to be improved, and it needs to pass now so that it can have an effect in 2008. Two thousand ten could be too late. So--I think it's H811. H811. So, write your congresspeople, and write your friends and tell them to write your congresspeople.

That's How The Infrastructure Crumbles

Courtesy of Meteor Blades from Daily Kos, here's the report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers. It ain't pretty:

Dams (D+) Since 1998, the number of unsafe dams has risen by 33% to more than 3,500. While federally owned dams are in good condition, and there have been modest gains in repair, the number of dams identified as unsafe is increasing at a faster rate than those being repaired. $10.1 billion is needed over the next 12 years to address all critical non-federal dams--dams which pose a direct risk to human life should they fail. ...

Drinking Water (D-) America faces a shortfall of $11 billion annually to replace aging facilities and comply with safe drinking water regulations. Federal funding for drinking water in 2005 remained level at $850 million, less than 10% of the total national requirement. The Bush administration has proposed the same level of funding for FY06. ...

Schools (D) The Federal government has not assessed the condition of America's schools since 1999, when it estimated that $127 billion was needed to bring facilities to good condition. Other sources have since reported a need as high as $268 billion. Despite public support of bond initiatives to provide funding for school facilities, without a clear understanding of the need, it is uncertain whether schools can meet increasing enrollment demands and the smaller class sizes mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act. ...

(D+)Transit use increased faster than any other mode of transportation--up 21%--between 1993 and 2002. Federal investment during this period stemmed the decline in the condition of existing transit infrastructure. The reduction in federal investment in real dollars since 2001 threatens this turnaround. In 2002, total capital outlays for transit were $12.3 billion. The Federal Transit Administration estimates $14.8 billion is needed annually to maintain conditions, and $20.6 billion is needed to improve to "good" conditions. Meanwhile, many major transit properties are borrowing funds to maintain operations, even as they are significantly raising fares and cutting back service. ...

Wastewater (D-) Aging wastewater management systems discharge billions of gallons of untreated sewage into U.S. surface waters each year. The EPA estimates that the nation must invest $390 billion over the next 20 years to replace existing systems and build new ones to meet increasing demands. Yet, in 2005, Congress cut funding for wastewater management for the first time in eight years. The Bush administration has proposed a further 33% reduction, to $730 million, for FY06.

As usual, Jonathan Schwarz puts this lunacy in its proper perspective:
A country that can’t keep its bridges from collapsing is not going to be running the world very much longer. That’s the interesting thing about the standard historical trajectory of imperial elites…at a certain point they either (1) forget the power they can wield outside their country ultimately derives from a healthy society beneath them, or (2) understand that but decide they’d rather be comparatively more powerful within a poorer society and less powerful outside.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins have a new baseball stadium that cost over half a billion dollars. Gee, can you say "irony", boys and girls?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Creating our own ladder

This morning I attended a Yearly Kos session entitled "Evolution and Integration of the Blogosphere", a self-congratulatory panel moderated by Chris Bowers (late of MyDD), featuring Tracy Russo (blogger for John Edwards' campaign), Ali Savino (Center for Independent Media), the Big Blue Smurf, Amanda Turkel (ThinkProgress), Amanda Marcotte (Pandagon), and Matt Stoller (late of MyDD).

I can't say I didn't anticipate the self-congratulatory, "holding court" atmosphere of this session, but what struck me was the similarity between the "We're successful because we work really hard and if you work as hard as we do you can be successful too" message that those who were early adopters of the blog format convey and the "I got mine and fuck you" attitude of Republicans. The so-called "top-tier" bloggers have been defensive of late at having been accused of running a closed shop. At this panel, that defensiveness was very much in evidence, enhanced by the "panel on the podium talking to the assembled masses layout of the room. I thought my head would explode when Tracy Russo opined that the reason they have been successful is because they work very hard to get where they are.

When you think about some of those bloggers lurking just below the top tier, people like Driftglass and the Group News Blog folks, the idea that hard work is what makes bloggers successful (and by implication, those who are still trying to achieve traction are slackers) is like saying that Warren Buffett is more successful than the average family living in the projects because he works harder.

Isn't this illusion of meritocracy and this notion that it's ALL about hard work the very thing we knock when Republicans advocate against a social safety net? Don't we rail against Republicans for insisting that the reason you can no longer afford to pay your mortgage isn't because you had to train your H-1B replacement and you are over 50 and can't find another job but because you simply aren't trying hard enough? Isn't a certain degree of collectivism and sharing part of progressive philosophy? So for a progressive blogger to claim "It's all because we work harder than you do" in a room full of bloggers, is breathtaking.

To be fair, later on in the session, lip service was given to the notion of outreach, but it's clear that the belief that because there is no formal central authority who decides who makes it and who doesn't there is no elitism among bloggers is preposterous. Chris Bowers loves to joke about "We all take our orders from Markos", but his voice drips with condescension towards the Great Unwashed Masses as he does so.

The other topic discussed was whether the individual blog has gone the way of the dodo -- another meme that has been given a lot of air of late. I wrote movie reviews online for seven years, and in the heyday of online film criticism, we faced the same issues -- whether an individual reviewer could generate enough content to make a viable site. Online film criticism evolved from many individual sites to group collective sites. Gabriel (ModFab) and I started Mixed Reviews from two individual sites, but later on we added two more critics. Anyone reviewing movies online was sooner or later asked to "gain exposure" by writing for another startup online magazine -- no payment, just "links and exposure." Now, with political blogging, history is repeating itself. Earlier this year, WNBC in New York fed shrimp to a few hundred bloggers offering to provide "links and exposure" in exchange for bloggers providing content to General Electric. Group blogs are running around here recruiting contributors, saying "We need content." Of course they do. Ever-changing content is required to generate the traffic that generates ad revenue. But I think it's dangerous to buy into the meme that it is somehow OK to give away your work in exchange for some vague promise of "links and exposure."

The reason that the Heathers in a high school have power is because those not in that inner circle bestow power upon them by longing to enter the club. The reality is that most of us aren't going to make a living blogging. We will continue to have to work a real job, take care of kids, pay the mortgage on time, and other mundane aspects of life. So we have to decide for whom it is we blog, and why we blog. I blog because for me, writing is like breathing. If I stop doing one, I may stop doing the other. I blog so that people I know who may not read other blogs see the stories they may not find elsewhere. I blog to keep my sanity. I blog because not to do so is unthinkable. I blog because by writing, I come across other writers who visit this blog who blow me away with their talent.

And THAT is what lower-tier bloggers ought to be doing. Forget about the big boys. You're never going to be invited to play golf with the CEO and you're never going to be in their club. Decide why you blog, and help out other bloggers who deserve greater recognition. Blog because you love it. Don't blog for ad revenue, or for recognition by the famous, or because you want your name on the masthead of a group blog. If you want a blog that reflects your own identity, don't let anyone talk you into giving that up so you can be part of a group blog where someone else makes a living.

On Sunday, I'll be inviting five or six people to guestblog for me at Brilliant at Breakfast from August 11-17. Those who aren't selected shouldn't think it's because their work is lacking. I'm just another mid-tier blogger who isn't going to have computer access for a week. Frankly, I'm thrilled that there have been so many people who want to guestblog. Part of my mission is to recognize writers I think are good so that the few hundred people who visit here every day will consider visiting them too. My eyes are always open.

And that's a promise.

(Cross-posted at Brilliant at Breakfast)

I think we're using the wrong parenting technique

Originally posted at My Left Wing

I think I've hit upon an idear. (The final "r" is a result of listening to Howard Dean's speech last night--he always does that to me!) Last night I read StealthBadger's post Obama has lost me, and this morning there was gottlieb's post about Hillary Clinton entitled God Help Us All.

And it's occurred to me that we're using the wrong parenting technique on these kids. We're using a lot of threats ("If you do/say this, I won't vote for you") and threats only get you so far. You end up having to get more intense and more blustery with them, and eventually you have to back them up. And if "I won't vote for you" is all you've got, you run out of ammo pretty quickly.

Anyway, my kids are 12 and (almost) 14 now, but when reading about all the war talk coming from the Democratic frontrunners, my mind flashed back to some lines I heard other parents use, gently, firmly, and consistently when redirecting their preschoolers. "That's not okay. People aren't for hitting. That is not a choice." Eventually it became second nature for me to talk like that. And apparently it's a hard habit to break, because this morning I found myself saying (to candidates who couldn't hear me) "Bombing is not a choice."

Maybe we need to say that, gently, firmly, and repeatedly, when the candidates can hear us.

Weekly Original Cartoon Round-Up


The newest Cartoon of the Week comes from our newest artist, Kelly Ferguson, of Liberal Angst.

Every day liberal cartoonists are hard at work, doodling while avoiding their real jobs and responsibilities. Sometimes you see the results, and sometimes you don't. At Left 'Toon Lane we think a cartoon is worth a thousand words, and that sometimes the Bush Administration is so perfectly ironic that only a cartoon can capture the reality. This week six different artists produced fifteen different cartoons about today's politics. I hope you enjoy them, and that you'll come to Left 'Toon Lane, not just for the jokes, but for art and artists to punch up your own blogs and publications.

You can see all this week's cartoons, in full size, at Left 'Toon Lane.

Does Hillary know why Edwards is smiling?

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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It took months but I finally found someone I know personally who supports Hillary Clinton - a military contractor. His motto is "Vote Hillary or Else!"

Everyone else? They are looking at Edwards or maybe Obama. Yet for Obama they tend to sneak in the caveat of "I still don't know what he stands for. Unless he clear that up soon, I will be supporting Edwards." Also, support for those two slips away if Al Gore kicks his hat in the ring.

The other problem that continues to swirl around people I know is that of "getting out the vote." If Hillary does win the nomination, everyone I know will vote for her, but there is not a lot of volunteerism being vocalized. No where near the level that I saw in the 2006 mid-term election. The 2006 GOTV movement was huge, larger than I have seen since back in my Perot days. There is something about Hillary that just doesn't encourage folks hitting the street and getting the word out for her. And if her GOTV is weak, it will influence the GOTV for the House and Senate races that will be VITAL in 2008.


Yes, people will vote for her, but while holding their noses. That kinda attitude does not drive people to blow all their weekends knocking on doors, enduring cold November rains to had out brochures at polls or spend hours away from the family at a phone bank begging people to "Vote Hillary or Else."

You don't see that with John Edwards.

If you look past the polls, Edwards is the leader on the issues. I would say he is dragging the rest of the field with him.

From AlterNet:

"I don't need to read a poll, I don't need to see a focus group and I don't need to see what the other candidates are saying," said Mr. Edwards, sitting next to his wife in a blue van pulling away from Kitty's Fine Foods in Charleston. "I know exactly what I would do as president and that's why I have been leading on these issues. And it is exactly the kind of leadership I will provide as president."

Mr. Edwards and his campaign are rallying around the idea that he has demonstrated leadership by getting out front early on major issues, advocating "big change" and then almost daring his rivals to follow his example.

When he challenges other candidates to raise the minimum wage, he gets thunderous applause. Other candidates get that level of applause, but only when they snark off about Bush.

Edwards all seems to be revamping his campaign. Gone are the button-down, adviser steered campaign days of 2004, Edwards has placed himself in the hands of the people.

After running a decidedly traditional race for the White House in 2004 and in the early stages of this contest, Mr. Edwards has quietly overhauled his campaign with one central goal: to harness the Internet and the political energy that liberal Democrats are sending coursing through it. In a slow but striking power shift, advisers who champion the political power of the Web have eclipsed the coterie of advisers who long dominated Mr. Edwards’s inner circle, both reflecting and intensifying his transformation into a more populist, aggressive candidate.

“They want me to shut up,” an unsmiling Mr. Edwards said to an audience in Creston, Iowa, on Thursday — remarks that were videotaped by an Edwards campaign worker and posted both on YouTube and the popular liberal Web site “Let’s distract from people who don’t have health care coverage. Let’s distract from people who can’t feed their children. Let’s talk about this frivolous, nothing stuff.”

Still, he is in the shadow of Obama and Hillary and he knows it. I think it has a specific effect on Edwards that a lot of people are not noticing - it is making him smarter, more daring and, should I even say this, it has given him a spine.

Could this explain the noticeable shift in Edwards' rhetoric recently? As Democratic strategist David Sirota said in an interview, what we're hearing from Edwards these days is a "full-throated populism."

For instance, aside from the Obama-Clinton flap, the next most significant moment in the YouTube debate came when Edwards said:

"Do you believe that compromise, triangulation will bring about big change. I don't. I think the people who are powerful in Washington - big insurance companies, big drug companies, big oil companies - they are not going to negotiate. They are not going to give away their power. The only way they are going to give away their power is if we take it away from them."

Yep, that is USDA Grade "A," organic, grain-fed, free-range SPINE with no GMO's or antibiotics. That could catch on.

Fucking In The Real World

Here's Media & Society:

Fox, CBS Reject Trojan Condom-Promotion Commercial
Fox and CBS recently rejected a television commercial for Trojan condoms, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, the commercial, which premiered Monday night, features women at a bar surrounded by pigs. When one pig goes to the restroom and returns with a condom purchased at a vending machine, he is transformed into an attractive man. The end of the commercial carries the message: "Evolve: Use a condom every time."

Fox in a letter to Trojan said it rejected the ad because contraceptive "advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy." CBS in a rejection wrote that the ad was not "appropriate" for the network "even with late-night only restrictions."

Both networks accepted Trojan's previous campaign, which promoted condom use because of the possibility that a partner could be HIV-positive. The Times cites a 2001 report about condom advertising from the Kaiser Family Foundation that found some "networks draw a strong line between messages about disease prevention -- which may be allowed -- and those about pregnancy prevention, which may be considered controversial for religious and moral reasons."

The ad will run on ABC, NBC and nine cable stations, including MTV, Comedy Central and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. In addition, print ads will appear in 11 magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Glamour, and on seven Web sites. All of the ads highlight a Web site, the Times reports.

Jim Daniels, vice president for marketing at Trojan, said the ad is more expensive than any previous campaigns, but he declined to give a specific amount. Daniels said the company's goal is to "dramatically increase" condom use in the U.S. "The 'Evolve' ad does a nice job of being humorous, but it's also a serious call to action," Daniels said, adding, "The pigs are a symbol of irresponsible sexual behavior and are juxtaposed with the condom as a responsible symbol of respect for oneself and one's partner"

For some reason, this distasteful example of blatant and irresponsible hypocrisy got me to thinking about porno flicks. Really.

If you're going to watch bad XXX-rated movies, I think you better have patience, an open mind, a strong gag reflex, a healthy sense of skepticism, and a bulletproof ego. If you don’t, it’s going to be very, very depressing. Unless you own a Schwarzenneger-type body, a gargantuan cock, and the sexual stamina of the Energizer Bunny, it's impossible to compete with the guys "acting" in them. Your feeble erotic dreams are a fly crashing into the hard Windshield of Reality. Sorry, no pizza delivery gal wearing high heels and tits bigger than her head is showing up at your front door anytime soon.

In short, pornographic film actors are usually lousy role models. But, to be fair, there's one thing that they do correctly that their counterparts in the "legitimate" movie industry doesn't do.

They use condoms.

In the vulgar and brainless world of pornography (that never pretends even for a minute to be realistic), the majority of the guys fucking are using condoms. Yes, I know there a few that advertise "bareback" sex, but in those films the actors are extensively tested for STDs and HIV beforehand, and then are required to sign legal documents absolving the producers of liability. In mainstream television shows and movies, you'll see celebrities having fake sex most of the time, but condoms simply don't exist.

But it's O.K. for Jack Bauer to torture people in front of your kids. (Hey, that dirty Muslim swine deserved it anyway.)

So, you tell me, who's being more irresponsible? Who's teling the bigger lie?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Yearly Kos

I'm aware that the Yearly Kos convention is beginning today. While I'm not a fan of the proprietor of the big orange blog it is named for, I am a fan of grassroots organizing. And of getting the opportunity to meet, in person, people who have previously been only words on a computer screen. I look forward to hearing some great stories.

If you'd like to submit a report from YK to be published here, you can send it to ohiorenee(at)

America, it’s the new French!

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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Scandal after scandal heaped on top of more scandal and we still do not have the courage to impeach?

At this point, anyone who is terrified of the impeachment process (unless you are IN the Bush Administration) should just admit you are not willing to fight for our democracy, and that includes Nancy Pelosi.

What's the meme this week? We don't have enough votes? Big deal. I say we have the US House go through the evidence process (and NO, Gonzales ain't what I am talking about) and present the laundry list of BushCo's "high crimes and misdemeanors." Plus, hold those hearings during Prime Time and have Nancy do her job and oversee the proceedings. Let the Republicans spend all their time supporting Bush and defending his crimes. Let it go on for hours and hours. Let is stretch on into week. Hell, start this during the "recess," they got nothing else to do.

Let the process continue just to remind everyone what all we have lost, where our money went, how it was really stolen.

Then vote.

Do you not prosecute a murderer just because he has a great lawyer? No, even though you might lose, you still prosecute the case. You do the right thing.

And if we lose, we lose, but we will have tried Bush in Congress and in the Court of Public Opinion. Now let the GOP try to distance themselves from Bush for the 2008 elections. They will have publicly forgiven and sitting President of treason, war crimes and fraud just for their political gain.

With Bush's 25% approval rating, you can't go wrong... unless you are French. ;-)


The San Jose Mercury News:

I-35W bridge collapses over Mississippi River; 7 dead
The Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed this evening, plunging dozens of vehicles into the water, killing seven people and injuring more than 60.

Tons of concrete have collapsed and people are injured. Survivors are being carried up the riverbank. Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said more than 50 vehicles had been searched with the potential for more and all of the survivors had been cleared from the bridge.

Amelia Huffman, Minneapolis police spokeswoman, said the 64-foot high bridge over the river dropped into the water shortly after 6 p.m.

"The entire bridge, more or less, has collapsed into the river," said Lt. Amelia Huffman, Minneapolis police spokeswoman. "It's unclear what caused it."

Sometimes doing nothing is worse than doing something bad. And there's been lots of nothing not-happening all over the country.

The bridge in Minneapolis might be only the beginning. It's a falling domino.

Call me foolish, but I'm not worried about a terrorist attack. It's the not-so-slow erosion of our aging infrastructure that's scaring the fuck outta me. Our bridges, our rail system, and our highways get worse every damned day. Libraries, schools and hospitals are closing. There's not enough cops on the streets. There's fewer jobs, the number of foreclosures are up, and more Americans are in debt. Medical insurance is horribly expensive. And why in the hell are we hearing reports of food on supermarket shelves killing people?

You think we should start fixing things for real instead of slapping a fresh coat of paint on it? Oh yeah, the check's in the mail. But it got sent to the wrong address.

It isn't as though we don't have the money. We have trillions. It's being poured in that black hole called Iraq. It's a rotten investment.

So when that bridge collapsed, Osama bin Laden chuckled softly to himself and said, "Pass the popcorn." No, he and his murderous rat thugs don't have to do anything. Not anymore.

George ("Mission Accomplished") Bush & Co. are already doing the dirty work for him.

Look out below.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

And there was much rejoicing!

This is just a quick (and admittedly a bit self indulgent) post to let you all know that Demetrius and I are marking our 20th wedding anniversary today. I say marking because I'm not quite sure what we'll do to actually "celebrate" it.

But then, part of celebration is sharing the joy with friends and family.

Gonzales, The Firewall

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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That is my theory, Gonzales is the impeachment firewall. If Gonzales is gone, impeachment gets one GIANT step closer to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or the Naval Observatory - depending which strategy you go with.

I think Rove knows Bush's ratings be damned, they can't loose Gonzales. Do we think Myers has really that much to say? Maybe. But the longer Rove, et al, prolongs the Congress' misery and investigation, the closer they get to Bush's last day in office - a few more than 500 days are left to go. They just need to hold on and hanging on means not letting Myers testify or Gonzales or any of the other of the king's menagerie.

The secondary firewall may be the surge. I wonder these days if the September Report will come back de facto positive in an attempt to split the blue dog Democrats off from the progressives and weaken the party as a whole?

Either way, the Summer will wind down, the blood bath in Iraq will worsen, the housing market will still be in freefall and the headlines for the Wall Street Journal will proclaim it is another sunny, beautiful day and all is well in America.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Yiddish Policeman's Union

"I hate to wake you, Detective," Tenenboym says. "Only I noticed that you don't really sleep."

"I sleep," Landsman says. He picks up the shot glass that he is currently dating, a souvenir of the World's Fair of 1977. "It's just I do it in my underpants and shirt." He lifts the glass and toasts the thirty years gone since the Sitka World's Fair. A pinnacle of Jewish civilization in the north, people say, and who is he to argue? Meyer Landsman was fourteen that summer, and just discovering the glories of Jewish women, for whom 1977 must have been some kind of a pinnacle. "Sitting up in a chair." He drains the glass. "Wearing a sholem."

According to doctors, therapists, and his ex-wife, Landsman drinks to medicate himself, tuning the tubes and crystals of his moods with a crude hammer of hundred-proof plum brandy. But the truth is that Landsman has only two moods: working and dead. Meyer Landsman is the most decorated shammes in the District of Sitka, the man who solved the murder of the beautiful Froma Lefkowitz by her furrier husband, and caught Podolsky the Hospital Killer. His testimony sent Hyman Tsharny to federal prison for life, the first and last time that criminal charges against a Verbover wiseguy have ever been made to stick. He has the memory of a convict, the balls of a fireman, and the eyesight of a housebreaker. When there is crime to fight, Landsman tears around Sitka like a man with his pant leg caught on a rocket. It's like there's a film score playing behind him, heavy on the castanets. The problem comes in the hours when he isn't working, when his thoughts start blowing out the open window of his brain like pages from a blotter. Sometimes it takes a heavy paperweight to pin them down.

"I hate to make more work for you," Tenenboym says.

During his days working Narcotics, Landsman arrested Tenenboym five times. That is all the basis for what passes for friendship between them. It is almost enough.

"It's not work, Tenenboym," Landsman says. "I do it for love."

"It's the same for me," the night manager says. "With being a night manager of a crap-ass hotel."

Landsman puts his hand on Tenenboym's shoulder, and they go down to take stock of the deceased, squeezing into the Zamenhof's lone elevator, or elevatoro, as a small brass plate over the door would have it. When the hotel was built fifty years ago, all of its directional signs, labels, notices, and warnings were printed on brass plates in Esperanto. Most of them are long gone, victims of neglect, vandalism, or the fire code.

The door and door frame of 208 do not exhibit signs of forced entry. Landsman covers the knob with his handkerchief and nudges the door open with the toe of his loafer.

"I got this funny feeling," Tenenboym says as he follows Landsman into the room. "First time I ever saw the guy. You know the expression 'a broken man'?"

Landsman allows that the phrase rings a bell.

"Most of the people it gets applied to don't really deserve it," Tenenboym says. "Most men, in my opinion, they have nothing there to break in the first place. But this Lasker. He was like one of those sticks you snap, it lights up. You know? For a few hours. And you can hear broken glass rattling inside of it. I don't know, forget it. It was just a funny feeling."

"Everybody has a funny feeling these days," Landsman says, making a few notes in his little black pad about the situation of the room, even though such notes are superfluous, because he rarely forgets a detail of physical description. Landsman has been told, by the same loose confederacy of physicians, psychologists, and his former spouse, that alcohol will kill his gift for recollection, but so far, to his regret, this claim has proved false. His vision of the past remains unimpaired. "We had to open a separate phone line just to handle the calls."

"These are strange times to be a Jew," Tenenboym agrees. "No doubt about it."

The Three Stages of Republican Corruption

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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George Bush's War God must have been watching over Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts yesterday when he had a seizure on a lakeside dock. With all that water surrounding Roberts, just imagine the heart-wrenching agony the nation would have went through if God had made Roberts spaz out in the direction of the water... just a few steps more and we would have had a full-fledged drowning. Just a few tiny steps... maybe three tops.

Thankfully that didn't happen. Now he can still be tried for lying to Congress about his health.

That said, it lead me to wonder if there was a pattern to all of this - to the exposure of corruption within the GOP.

First you need to start with The Foaming Of The Mouth - total unhinged rants against liberals, homosexuality, Paganism at the same time praising Bush like he was Allah, including facing Crawford and praying five times a day. We have seen this with most, if not all of the recent GOP scandals. Mark Foley was "a champion for children against online predators" only to be caught chasing down young boys on Instant Messenger. Ted Haggard was yelling and screaming about the evils of homosexuality while being freaked on meth and snogging male prostitutes.

The next stage is The Outing. Recently, Louisanna Senator Vitter was caught with a slew of hookers from DC to New Orleans and just last night Alaska Senator Ted Stevens (Mister Bridge to Nowhere) had his house ransacked by Federal Agents collecting evidence of tax evasion, bribery and corruption. Stevens was one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, defender of pork in Congressional funding bills and who would have guessed all of those construction projects would have garnered him some payola? And Vitter was one of those "liberals are destroying the family" guys while at the same time he was probably spending his nights in the French Quarter screaming "whose you fucking Daddy now" with a triple nipple butt-plug firmly implanted.

The last stage has to be The Resurrection. After the Republican in question leaves jail, divorce court or rehab, they go into a "time of solitude to contemplate their actions" (never to beg forgiveness) only to appear months later on the talk show circuit exclaiming their persecution was politically motivated, putting forth how no one else goes to jail over these issues or maybe how, technically, no law was broken. From that point, their career may drift toward a hefty book deal, radio show and if it was a particularly sordid scandal, they will end up with a news analyst deal for Fox News to comment on what happens when we catch US Representative Howard Coble, in the Well of the House, blowing a horse.

Justice In Black and White

Minorities more likely to go to prison
Blacks in the USA are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites, and Hispanics are locked up at nearly double the white rate, according to the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based think tank. The report found that states in the Midwest and Northeast have the greatest black-to-white disparity. Iowa imprisons blacks at more than 13 times the rate of whites. The group cited Justice Department statistics from 2005. States with the lowest black-to-white ratio included Hawaii, 1.9 to 1, and Georgia, 3.3 to 1.

DWB? A broken headlight? A joint "found" in your back pocket? A wallet that looked like a gun? It really doesn't matter in the end. As long as the white men wearing black robes robes get to dictate what justice is, "Guilt" and "Innocence" are just meaningless words, especially when you're a person of color caught on the wrong side of the badge.

Monday, July 30, 2007

African American Bloogers getting RUDE with Rude Pundit

I've been asked to proudly lower the level of political discourse and be a guest Blogger on the Rude Pundit's blog. Starting Thursday there will be a week of Rude African American guest bloggers.

Yes, It's that time of the year again, when the Rude Pundit takes his summer walkabout in Red State America. And since sometimes he needs to empty his brain for a little while in a way that doesn't involve a bottle of Jameson's, he's going to a beach in a place that's never heard of Senor Frog's. So he sent out a call to a few BWR's (Bloggers Who Rock) to get his back. Starting this Thursday, August 2, here's the way-cool line-up of guest bloggers:

Thursday, August 2: Liza Sabater of Culture Kitchen

Friday, August 3: African American Political Pundit

Monday, August 6: Shark-Fu of Angry Black Bitch

Tuesday, August 7: Angry Independent of Mirror on America

Wednesday, August 8: Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend, Pandagon, and, for August, at least, Americablog; and Terrance of Republic of T

Yeah, they're all African American bloggers. And they're A-game ass kickers who would make Bill O'Reilly eat his own arm on live television. So, while the Rude Pundit contemplates sand and surf and SPFs and MILFs and fiction books that don't involve scarred-headed wizard boys, the condo's open. Come on in and have a good time. The vodka's in the freezer, the take-out menus are in the tackle box, and the acid is hidden at page 108 of that new Dick Cheney book. The party starts Thursday.

Until then, you'll have your usual dose of rudeness at Rude Pundit


The great Paul Krugman takes Dubya to the woodshed:

Now, why should Mr. Bush fear that insuring uninsured children would lead to a further "federalization" of health care, even though nothing like that is actually in either the Senate plan or the House plan? It's not because he thinks the plans wouldn't work. It's because he's afraid that they would. That is, he fears that voters, having seen how the government can help children, would ask why it can't do the same for adults.

And there you have the core of Mr. Bush's philosophy. He wants the public to believe that government is always the problem, never the solution. But it's hard to convince people that government is always bad when they see it doing good things. So his philosophy says that the government must be prevented from solving problems, even if it can. In fact, the more good a proposed government program would do, the more fiercely it must be opposed.

This sounds like a caricature, but it isn't. The truth is that this good-is-bad philosophy has always been at the core of Republican opposition to health care reform. Thus back in 1994, William Kristol warned against passage of the Clinton health care plan "in any form," because "its success would signal the rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment that such policy is being perceived as a failure in other areas."

But it has taken the fight over children's health insurance to bring the perversity of this philosophy fully into view.

There are arguments you can make against programs, like Social Security, that provide a safety net for adults. I can respect those arguments, even though I disagree. But denying basic health care to children whose parents lack the means to pay for it, simply because you're afraid that success in insuring children might put big government in a good light, is just morally wrong.

The Rumpled Jedi Rides Again

This was originally posted at Howard-Empowered People, after commenter Barry posted a link to the article Joe Trippi's Renaissance in the comments. That link didn't work for some reason, but I was intrigued enough to go track down one that did. Ah, where to start...

This cycle, three presidential candidates courted him. He signed on with ex-Sen. John Edwards after bonding with Elizabeth Edwards -- there's a whole separate story here about how he's fitting in. But he's in. That "Hair" video -- vintage Trippi. Edwards hired Trippi in part because Iowa is Trippi's specialty -- he helped Walter Mondale and Dick Gephardt win the caucuses -- and Edwards needs to win the caucuses.
Well, obviously I can't let the words "Iowa is Trippi's specialty" pass without comment. Let us all take a moment and think back fondly to the magic that Joe worked for the Dean campaign in Iowa. Oh, wait...

As far as the "Hair" video, I did see it, and agree that it was clever, but as one of the people who commented on the Trippi article remarked, it came too late. Now that sounds familiar--raise your hand if you remember being frustrated with the Dean campaign's sluggish response to the "scream" story.

Here's something else I remember from the months leading up to the 2004 primaries. I remember, for the first time in my life, actually donating to a political candidate. Not only that, but putting up a "bat" and actually soliciting donations. That is so not me. But I believed in Dean. And I believed that I was part of a "people powered" campaign. I remember many other people feeling the same. For example, "Ramen for Dean"--someone was going to eat Ramen for lunch and donate the savings to the campaign. At least that's my recollection. The point is, people made real sacrifices.

But ultimately, we were not really "shareholders" in the campaign. Many of us balked when the official ads started going negative. We were disappointed in general with the low quality of the ads, and begged anyone who would listen to use some of the ideas that we in the grassroots were offering for free. Like the "Who we are" ads some of us made in response to that dreadful ad the Club for Growth ran against Dean in Iowa. Begged "anyone who would listen"...ah, there's the rub. The article goes on to say
The small-dollar Internet donor base attracted by the Dean and flogged relentless by Trippi has transformed the party's fundraising. Democrats actually counterpunch these days. Every single campaign uses Trippi-patented tactics to raise money. The men and women Joe Trippi cultivated on Dean's staff have stormed the gates and occupy positions of power in major party and campaign offices.
More "gate storming", huh? Much like the "gate crashing" that the proprietor of Daily Kos touts, the ordinary people are still stuck outside those gates. It's all well and good for the campaign professionals to pat themselves on the back for the "genius" of soliciting small donations from the teeming masses. But if that's all you want from us, and you're not going to listen to our ideas or be prepared to answer to us when you make bad choices in the way you spend the money we donated...well, we might just decide we can put that money to better use.

Me...I'm planning to take in a movie with the family today.

Bush Creating the Second Ottoman Empire?

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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I read Booman's story on Bush's new secret plan to fight Iraqis from Turkey. Turkey is all bent out of shape over the 4000 members of Kurdistan Workers Party militia that are staging attacks against Turks. Bush prefers this instead of using the regular Kurdistan army that numbers about a quarter of a million troops.

After finishing Booman's post on this, it sounded a whole lot like the Mongols and the Silk Road. From Wikipedia...

The Mongol expansion throughout the Asian continent from around 1215 to 1360 helped bring political stability and re-establish the Silk Road vis-à-vis Karakorum. With rare exceptions such as Marco Polo or Christian missionaries such as William of Rubruck, few Europeans traveled the entire length of the Silk Road. Instead traders moved products much like a bucket brigade, with luxury goods being traded from one middleman to another, from China to the West, and resulting in extravagant prices for the trade goods.

The disintegration of the Mongol Empire led to the collapse of the Silk Road's political unity. Also falling victim were the cultural and economic aspects of its unity. Turkic tribes seized the western end of the Silk Road from the decaying Byzantine Empire, and sowed the seeds of a Turkic culture that would later crystallize into the Ottoman Empire under the Sunni faith. Turkic-Mongol military bands in Iran, after some years of chaos were united under the Saffavid tribe, under whom the modern Iranian nation took shape under the Shiite faith. Meanwhile Mongol princes in Central Asia were content with Sunni orthodoxy with decentralized princedoms of the Chagatay, Timurid and Uzbek houses. In the Kypchak-Tatar zone, Mongol khanates all but crumbled under the assaults of the Black Death and the rising power of Muscovy. In the east end, the Chinese Ming Dynasty overthrew the Mongol yoke and pursued a policy of economic isolationism. Yet another force, the Kalmyk-Oyrats pushed out of the Baikal area in central Siberia, but failed to deliver much impact beyond Turkestan. Some Kalmyk tribes did manage to migrate into the Volga-North Caucasus region, but their impact was limited.

The parallels are spectacular. Just swap the silk with oil and you have Operation Enduring Freedom minus another Chinese revolution. But it could happen, it is only Monday and Bush is still in office.

When The Going Gets Weird, The Weird Turn Pro

SCHUMER: I'll let you speak in a minute, but this is serious, because you're getting right close to the edge right here. You just said there was just one program -- just one. So the letter, which was, sort of, intended to deceive, but doesn't directly do so, because there are other intelligence activities, gets you off the hook, but you just put yourself right back on here.

GONZALES: I clarified my statement two days later with the reporter.

SCHUMER: What did you say to the reporter?

GONZALES: I did not speak directly to the reporter.

SCHUMER: Oh, wait a second -- you did not.


OK. What did your spokesperson say to the reporter?

GONZALES: I don't know. But I told the spokesperson to go back and clarify my statement...

SCHUMER: Well, wait a minute, sir. Sir, with all due respect -- and if I could have some order here, Mr. Chairman -- in all due respect, you're just saying, "Well, it was clarified with the reporter," and you don't even know what he said. You don't even know what the clarification is. Sir, how can you say that you should stay on as attorney general when we go through exercise like this, where you're bobbing and weaving and ducking to avoid admitting that you deceived the committee? And now you don't even know. I'll give you another chance: You're hanging your hat on the fact that you clarified the statement two days later. You're now telling us that is was a spokesperson who did it. What did that spokesperson say? Tell me now, how do you clarify this?

GONZALES: I don't know, but I'll find out and get back to you.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gone To The Dogs

ABC News:

Vick to Enter Plea on Conspiracy Charges
Michael Vick was due in federal court Thursday to start a legal process that jeopardizes not only his career, but also his freedom.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback was expected to appear at a bond hearing and enter a plea on dogfighting conspiracy charges. Vick is accused with three others of conspiracy involving competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting, and conducting the enterprise across state lines. Federal prosecutors allege the operation known as Bad Newz Kennels operated on Vick's property in rural Surry County.

The grisly allegations detailed in an 18-page indictment sparked protests by animal rights groups at the headquarters of the NFL and the Falcons, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has barred Vick from training camp while the league investigates.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said the team wanted to suspend Vick for four games, the maximum penalty a team can assess a player, but the NFL asked him to wait. Instead, Blank has told his embattled player to focus on his legal problems, not football.

The Falcons opened their first camp under coach Bobby Petrino on Thursday.

The case began April 25 when investigators conducting a drug search at the home found 66 dogs, including 55 pit bulls, and equipment typically used in dogfighting. Items such as a "rape stand" that holds aggressive dogs in place for mating and a "breakstick" used to pry open a dog's mouth in a fight were seized.


Thanks for giving racist clowns like Rush Limbaugh more ammunition, Mike.

The pocket is collapsing on Michael Vick, and there's no place to run. Already the NFL has suspended Vick for a year. Now, one of Vick's "friends", a nobody named Tony Taylor, has agreed to drop a dime on the troubled part-time QB and head of Bad Newz Kennels in return for immunity. When this is over, I don't think he'll go to jail, but he won't be playing in the NFL again anytime soon.


Yeah, I know it sounds harsh, but I just can't bring myself to feel sorry for Michael Vick. He betrayed his teammates, his community, his fellow African-American quarterbacks, and his talent and he has no one else to blame but himself. I believe every person is born with a special talent that they can do better than anybody else in the world. Tragically, some people never figure out what it is, and others can’t express their gifts because bad luck keeps them ordinary. However, it’s not tragic if you piss away your talent by being lazy, mean, stupid, or all three.

Do you think legends like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods ever wasted their precious time by running a shady dog fighting operation? No, the reason these great athletes dominate their sport and give such lousy interviews is because all they think about and all they do is try to get better. Nothing else matters. But Michael Vick made the disastrous choice that being “great” once in a while was good enough.

It's not.


Demosthenes wonders if Charles Krauthammer has ever been right about anything.

Another Iraq war veteran committed suicide. Surprise. Hey, maybe putting a "Support Our Troops" ribbon on his coffin will help. Kathy at Shakespeare's Sister tells us more.

Go to Skippy and see how dumb Mitt Romney is. D'oh!

Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast thinks if you try to bring that big yellow brick of Velveeta on an airplane, the terrorists win. This just in: Wallace and Grommit arrested at Logan! Details at 11!

Meanwhile, Alternative Brain's Fixer reminds us that the war in Iraq is still going on (no matter how many times the news shows Lindsay Lohan being arrested), and it's getting worse.