Wednesday, January 31

UPDATE: Molly Ivins 1944-2007

All the more reason for people to... light a candle for Molly Ivins, too.

In addition, Molly's paper The Texas Observer has a thread where you can leave a message for Molly.
is dedicating the next few days to her memory.

I certainly still wish that brave, funny, inspirational woman well. Kick that cancer in the ass Heaven just got way more interestin', Molly. We loved you and will miss you terribly.

The book post for February

My New Year's Resolution is to read more, and review a book here once a month. For February the book is Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid.

Carter's book has angered certain right wing bloggers to the point that they want him censured, primarily for the admittedly incendiary title of the book. I doubt that the particular right wing blogger from whom I discovered the censure movement has read even one word of Carter's book.

I find it fascinating that there is less tolerance for the "anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism" bullshit in the editorial pages of The Jerusalem Post than there is on certain right-wing blogs coming outta New Jersey. Seriously. But I don't like to use the term Zionism because that gets into this whole "Israel's right to exist" mantra which is so NOT the point. Let me state this in as clear a statement as I can: I am not questioning Israel's right to exist. I am (and Carter is, and a great many letters to the editor of the Jerusalem Post are) questioning Israel's "right" to kill everyone (a classic CFAV post), "right" to treat non-Jews as third class citizens of the planet, "right" to ignore the UN, etc. etc.

Sigh. And of course that means Carter and I are guilty of

denying the holocaust.

Don't get me started. (The WTF letters in response to that charge are on point and worth a read.)

This is a good book. (whew. After all that?) I particularly like how readable it is given the subject matter. I could quibble with Carter's timeline starting the Middle East conflict with Abraham ca 1900 BC, but whatever. Carter will never let us forget he is a Baptist Sunday School teacher. The world will not forget that his place in history has more to do with his peace work than with his lackluster Presidency.

I'm delighted that the attacks on Carter have put this book on the bestseller chart. I don't believe that this book will instantly change US policy. But it is a large chink in the armor of AIPAC and Lieberman and Pammy. And it's a start toward fairness.

Carter's first sentence mentions his career-long goal "has been to help ensure a lasting peace for Israelis and others in the Middle East." That much of Carter I totally believe. And what I want to know from those who would censure him is, why would peace which honors the dignity of each human being in the region not serve your purpose? Just asking.

Tuesday, January 30

I'm it? Think again.

Blue Gal, as a rule, follows the guidelines of Omnipotent Poobah's Anti-Tagging League.

But dammit if her Captain didn't ask this time. So here goes.

Five things about me. One of which may not be true:

1. Famous Knitter Meg Swanson has posed for a picture wearing a sweater I knit. The picture is hanging on my refrigerator.

2. During senior year in college I had breakfast several times with former Presidential candidate John Anderson, usually just the two of us.

3. During freshman year in college I watched Qwerty fall backwards into a snowbank. At one point I also danced with him while I hummed "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody."

4. I met Mr and Mrs. John Kerry at a Democratic soiree in Pittsburgh three years before he announced his candidacy for President. Theresa Heinz Kerry told me my hair was "really nice."

5. I didn't drive a car or even have a license until I was 32. Some "things" I didn't do until I was 26. But driving a car was 32.

Everybody but Qwerty, who knows me too well, can leave a guess as to which one of the above is false, in comments. Yes, number three is true.

The sexiest picture you'll ever see of BG...

Yes those are my fingers and that sweater has a gobzillion color changes, predominantly blue. Yes I'm knitting with both hands and the back looks as good as the front. Get over it. I'll wear the Blue Gal sweater next year to Madrona in Tacoma, February 14-17. (Many thanks to my good twin for the pic.)

Many thanks to Mr. Blue Gal for taking good care of our kids and funding my once a year run-away from home. I don't think Queen Victoria enshrined Albert's shaving kit as well as my dear husband enshrined our dirty clothes hamper, though. Completely untouched for the entire time I was gone. But all three kids were still alive and kicking when I got home, and I get to go again next year. That's pretty much all I ask. Thanks, honey. xoxoxo

And to my readers, I promise no more knitting posts for quite a while. Spending time at the needles is just to sharpen my snark, promise. xo to you, too.

Monday, January 29

Remember this comment next year at Koufax time


Best comment I've read all year.

from TBogg:

K-Lo held court on this panel as if she were having a Princess Sparkle Pony pajama party theme. It was very frightening and I felt soiled afterward. Mona Charon said things would get better if there were an organized effort to get conservative comics to tell eveyone how cool they were. Seriously.
LanceThruster | 01.28.07 - 6:06 pm | #

Kay back and forth on this photo with another blogger and a really weird and provocative question: How many of the five above have had abortions? I would guess two. Anyone else wanna comment? And we know who virginity chose so let's not get into that.


A special shout out to Omnipotent Poobah for finding this story and his special allegations linking this blog to the perp.

The cop wants the perp to let the authorities (?) know if someone leaving new underpants around town is a practical joke or an actual crime. He is, um, unclear on the concept.

But OP gets it. If you've got a panties crime I wanna be linked to it. And thanks.

Sunday, January 28

Conservatives Without Conscience

There's been an attempt on the part of old-style conservatives to resurrect the memory and recover the reputation of Senator Barry Goldwater. There was a documentary made last year with the cooperation of his family. I've been listening to the unabridged book on tape version of John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience. Dean roomed with Goldwater's son in college, was friends with the Senator for decades, and initiallly expected Goldwater to co-author this book, in which Dean claims Goldwater as a model of conservatism's better past.

I've been thinking along these lines myself, particularly like Dean, comparing the civil and educated discourse of a Goldwater, or even moreso, William F. Buckley, with the screaming clowns on Fox News today. Dean is actually downright funny when he writes about the cottage industry arising from fact-checking the Blond Who Must Not Be Named.

So I'm on the plane to Seattle listening and nodding to Dean's call for a more civil and even possibly intellectually honest brand of conservatism when it is time to take off the headphones and return the seat backs and tray tables etc. So I put away John Dean and pull out this academic article on Richard Hofstadter, the historian and author of the seminal "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life." (I know, I know. I'm making all you "intelligence is an aphrodisiac" boys totally hot right now. Moving on.) In the article is this little gem on Hofstadter's opinion of Goldwater:

The Sun Belt conservatism of the 1960's discovered in the iconic Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater a symbol of the frontier individualism it prized, a foe of the welfare state it loathed, and a hawk determined to roll back rather than contain international communism. The nature of this new conservatism seemed to Hofstadter far removed from the Republican policies of the 1930's and 1940's, and he emphasized how litte it shared with its putative ancestor."

John Dean rightly (no pun intended) portrays looking to the past as a better place, seeking a return to earlier values, as one of the hallmarks of conservatism. As it ever was, for many of Goldwater's contemporaries, especially those known as "Rockefeller Republicans," Barry Goldwater was a radical and unwelcome departure from an earlier and better politics.

As a left-wing blogger I have to praise Dean and some others for wanting conservatives to have a conscience, though I suspect even Dean would agree that it's probably too late. Rupert Murdoch ironically has consciously destroyed the kinder gentler and indeed, pedigreed conservatism of John Dean and I would even argue Bush 41, in the name of anti-liberalism, television ratings, and a desire to appeal to the unsophisticated masses. But I also regret that in defense of his definitively conservative call for a return to a better form of politics, lionizing Barry Goldwater is the best Dean can do.

Saturday, January 27

I think they might be the same person...

Because otherwise, I can't figure out which one is more of a bottom feeder, Neil Cavuto or Dick Morris. Don't they both suck toes? Thought so.

I need a little detox.

You see, this month in Birmingham we've had concerts by both Rod Stewart and Billy Joel. And no offense to either of these "legends" or their legions of fans, but I haven't been able to turn on pop radio since December 26.

I arrived for a vacation here in Seattle/Tacoma and the soft rock station on the airport shuttle let me know that here they can expect a visit from.... Air Supply.

"I'm all out of love." Really.

I little detox, please, in the form of Was Not Was:

Thursday, January 25

Pick your fantasy GOP ticket!

Oh enough of this crowded Democratic field of candidates. It's over 300 days until the Iowa Caucus, fer crying out loud. (The photo above is from Prague, not Peoria. If the people of Peoria would just loosen up enough to allow sculpture like this, President Russ Feingold could end this war once and for all. Know what I mean?)

Who would be your fantasy pick for GOP nomination, though?

I was thinking Bolton, with Katherine Harris for vice. Oh, but Pammy at the Shrugging Map Book said Santorum was Presidential Material, but she could have been talking about that other definition of Santorum, not sure.

Wait... Dennis Hastert.

But some commenters at Crooks kinda got me with Lieberman. Way to excite the base with "bi-partisanship"!

There's just so much depth on the other side of the aisle, I'm tellin' ya.

Wednesday, January 24

The General stole my SOTU post.

It's not the first time that Jesus General, in his infinite heterosexuality, has slowly slipped his manly blogpost deep into my cranium and satisfied himself on my sweet cerebral nectar.

Yes, I was gonna post about Lieberman, too. And how I bet he actually wrote the speech while Pammy of the shrugging-map-book-blog took dictation as could only be taught at the JDL School of Secretarial Studies, you know, the one where the words "Palestinian," "Arab," "West Bank Activist" and "Jimmy Carter" are all spelled T-E-R-R-O-R-I-S-T.

I will never link to her, but I did have to check out and see if she didn't say it was the best speech ever. She didn't, but she does provide us with ten, yes ten, helpful links to various policy papers so we can be behind our President ten hundred percent. She must be slipping, 'cause she hasn't blogged about the magnificence of John Bolton in over a week.

Bush's line about Hezbollah killing more Americans than any other terrorist organization except Al Quaeda. Um, Mr. President? Frito Lay has killed more Americans than Hezbollah in the past 12 months. Look it up. You're talking about a single barracks bombing from 1983 that sadly took 241 servicemen's lives. The only reason to bring up Hezbollah and allude to an attack that took place 24 YEARS AGO in last night's speech was to suck up to the two totally insane hyper-Zionists people on the planet who are still listening to you: Joe and Pammy.

I mean, our President actually used the V word (see panties above) as if he knows how to measure that anymore. He didn't really call for bi-partisan thinking on that, as if we've all forgotten the bi-partisan ISG report from, when was it, last month? Seems like 1983.

And re the rest of the speech, before you give me a tax break to buy health insurance, I'd like you to personally find me an insurance company that will sell me health insurance. I've tried buying your last great idea, those high-deductible health savings accounts plans, and I keep getting turned down by actuaries who think that my family and I are not perfectly healthy enough to deserve to have that health insured with a $5700.00 deductible. But hey, you just keep making the Sugar Daddy Insurance Lobby happy.

And I really trust you to wean us all from oil. Right after Cheney and his team at Halliburton and Condi and her team at Chevron and, well, you get my drift.

Posting will be light again until next Tuesday. I'm off to a knitting retreat. No laptop, but I've written a couple generic posts to slip in at the hotel business center when time allows. I'm taking Jimmy Carter's book with me, and will have a review for first of February. Just to piss off Pammy.

Have a great weekend.

Postscript: I know I sound really negative and all snarky about the President. My bad. (Okay, you're laughing now, aren't ya?) But the fact is I and my fellow Bush hating bloggers actually do give a shit about the state of the mofo union. That's why we blog about SOTU and how Bush has FUTU. This, opposed to those Americans who are upset or even actually noticed that Bush's speech cut American Idol down to one hour. We are a nation whose season consists of 45 hours of American Idol and 70 hours of Deal or No Deal and it isn't enough. State of the Union? I weep.


Tuesday, January 23

SOTU and possible outcomes for Iraq

Seriously I think I'd rather watch back-to-back "World Series of Video Games" than tonight's speech. Yes, I'd still want to blow my brains out during the show, but at least on WSVG the outcome is not predictable.

Thank God I don't have TV.

Now I don't pretend to be any kind of expert on the Middle East, and maybe that's a good thing for the purpose of this post. Because I think it would be helpful for policy makers in Washington* to hear it from a non-expert civilian just how things appear from her perspective. There are a limited number of outcomes, it seems to me, for Iraq:

1. Iraq gets partitioned into four separate Iraqs: Sunni, Shiite, Kurd, and Chevron.

2. Iraq gets a permanent nation-repair-lift at the Halliburton Nation Repair and School Paint Shop (see the SOTU tonight, betcha).

3. Iraq develops a Swiss-style democracy in less than 18 months and changes its National Anthem to Kum-Ba-Ya.

4. Well, since the policy maker in Washington clearly still believes in number 4, we might as well bring up his second-favorite fantasy, the "Scooby Doo" ending:

*(and apparently there is only really one policy maker since he's decided he doesn't need any advice except from Cheney.)

Monday, January 22

Why I am Pro-Choice.

Because healthy women make better revolutionaries.

(h/t Shunra).

It's all about us.

Doing the blog round up for Mike at Crooks and Liars, I found a big huge thread I otherwise would have completely missed.

It's all about the blogosphere, and are we worthy of the term "activist" as it was used in the 60's.

Yup, it's activist, alright.

In the midst of this "debate," the terms, Marx, Marcuse, hippie, academia, "The hard Left" (whatever the hell that is), and that old sawbone, "mostly brainless vacuum cleaner of donations for the Democratic Party" came up.

It's nice to see, though, that the demographics of the left wing blogosphere are what those of us who do it might expect, rather than how the wide dry paintbrush of David Broder and other MSM juicy farts would paint us.

According to Chris Bowers, most of us have advanced degrees (check), are an average age of around 45 (excuse me, I have exactly 540 more days before that landmark, thank you very much). We also have extensive activist experience (I shook Ted Kennedy's hand at 18 and haven't really washed under the nails since), and we've got an extremely high level of news consumption (Does reading a MyDD article about the left-wing blogosphere count? Just asking.) . Gee, if this description were any closer to home, I'd be Time's Person of the Year.


Clearly Murray Waas' "new" "blog" is the go-to addy for the hilarity that is Scooter Libby jury selection.

It's a rare day indeed when the funniest thing I KNOW I'm gonna hear all week is Nina Totenburg on NPR.


I'm in the digesting stage of launching a real career in freelance writing and I have a question for all of you as I prepare a query letter. (yes, Shunra, a real query letter.) Back to the navel gazing for a minute: What do you think the impact of SMALL blogs (not Kos, MyDD, C&L, or Eschaton. SMALL blogs.) is on the cultural conversation? (I know, Hillary is at the brink of ruining that "conversation" word for us for a decade. Still.) Think about it and leave a write-up in comments. And thanks.

Sunday, January 21

Signs the Right is desperate?


Lately I've noticed a trend that us Lefties are kinda scratching our heads over the intellectual void known as the Right. Part of it is the whole O'Reilly/Colbert exchange. Colbert's "he's a sexual predator--you wouldn't know anything about that" proves Colbert's genius, and by genius I mean what I would estimate as a 152 IQ, something else O'Reilly wouldn't know anything about.

But really, the Dinesh d'Souza thing, the fact that Pammy still blogs, that O'Reilly still has a job, that Fox still has a viewer, these things make the left go hmm.

And then there's the Alabama TV Weatherman thing.

Oh, he's the most famous weatherman in Alabama, is ABC 33/40 Chief Meteorologist James Spann. And he has a weather blog. And last week he claimed on his weather blog that it's just entirely possible that global warming has nothing to do with us humans, that it might be occurring, you know, naturally, in the air, like smog, er, I mean, like clouds n' stuff.

A certain climate scientist Weather Channel Nazi thinks his license should be revoked for those silly comments, which seems a little harsh...

So then The Drudge Report comes to his rescue and aid.

And this ALABAMA TV WEATHERMAN is gonna be on Hannity AND Glenn Beck Monday night. No, I'm not making that up.

Desperate to stop Al Gore at ANY COST! It's an emergency on a global scale!

Notice I didn't linky to any of the bozos in this particular case. But there is a Birmingham News story I don't mind linking to. Just so you know I'm not making this up.

Saturday, January 20

For Jane Hamsher

Many of you know that Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake is battling breast cancer for the third time. Updates on her progress (and hallelujah, it is progress) are available at Crooks and Liars. John Amato and the rest of the big bloggers are really looking out for Jane.

I'm usually not into internet schmaltz. But the light a candle for Jane site is not schmaltzy. I really liked my experience there, and you might too.

My thoughts are with you Jane. Get well soon.

Friday, January 19

Death of A President?

NPR yesterday had a story that an aide to Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki defended the execution of Saddam Hussein. Turns out Italy is working on a UN resolution to ban the death penalty worldwide, and the Iraqi guy pointed out that Italian WWII leader Mussolini "was strung up on a lamppost."

Shorter Iraqi defense: what are you Eye-talians getting so uppity about, heh?

I've taught World War II history a couple times and I couldn't remember Mussolini getting strung up on a lamppost. Google Google Google...

Nope. He was shot by commies and then the commies who shot him to death let him "rest" for the night, so he would look really good the next day when they hung him by his feet from a meat hook at the town gate of Milan, along with his also gunned down mistress and fifteen of his entourage.

Joey Tony (sorry, I don't have a television as Qwerty "the Finn" pointed out in comments) Soprano would be proud. And let the historical record stand corrected, too.

Left wing bloggers were correctly outraged by the snuff movie of Saddam. Certainly all of us knew enough about technology and human nature to know that there would be one, and that it would be available to anyone with a modem.

I was brought up short by all of these threads while doing the blog roundup over at Crooks and Liars. Someone sent me a link to a post they'd written, which as an aside suggested that a certain potential Presidential candidate might have to worry about assassination. I don't need to go any further than that and I won't, and I didn't link the post. (I had nothing against that particular blogger and linked to another post in his same blog.) You see, I don't want that possibility breathed anywhere near me, and I did not want to give larger audience to the thought, either.

I doubt my efforts will keep the lid on, nor do I suspect that crazies out there need any help from me in coming up with sick ideas.

But then we have much of the liberal blogosphere calling, with no small sense of justice, for war crimes tribunals for Rummy and Bush and the lot of them. If, and if, and if, what exactly do you think the sentence would be for their crimes against humanity? Should the leadership responsible for Abu Gahrib be hung by the neck until dead? Isn't that impetus the same felt by Italian Communists in the 1940's and the Iraqi "leadership" this month? Hell, Ben Metcalf in Harper's Magazine didn't sugarcoat it:

"Am I allowed to write that I would like to hunt down George W. Bush, the president of the United States, and kill him with my bare hands?"

I have a small poster in my workroom that says "I am against the death penalty. Look what happened to Jesus Christ." But does this mean, Jesus was put to death unjustly, or beware, he was elevated to martyrdom against the wishes of his slayers? We must be very careful what we wish for.

UPDATE: I remembered that none other than Al Franken has recommmended that we "never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President."

A long book, not for the beach, but well-written and recommended: The Langum Prize Winner by Stuart Banner, The Death Penalty: An American History. Among other things it illustrates how our society has attempted to "sanitize" the death penalty over time to take away pain, lethal injection being only the latest attempt. (Electric Chair was seen as a great leap forward over hanging at one point. Faster and more "humane" if you can imagine.)

UPDATE 2: Interesting conversation over the Casa Blue Gal dinner table tonight. There is a difference between "execution" and "assassination" and one reason so many are arguing about Saddam's death is that his end blurred the lines between the two. Mussolini was executed by a political "party" willing to take responsibility for his death, but they were not the official government at the time. The legitimacy of the current Iraqi government plays into this whole debate, as well.

Wednesday, January 17

Guilt by association, Exhibit B

Yeah, Yeah. The same was true for Ralph Waldo Emerson. So?

By now most of my readers know that Mister Blue Gal is a Godless ACLU Commie** but this email sent Tuesday oughtta cinch it.

Mister Blue Gal is old school to the point that he not only opens most of his email, he also prints it out. Hard copy. For the file. A file sits on a drawer, not on a hard drive. What's a hard drive?

(Please remember the rule re Mr. Blue Gal is Don't Get Me Started.)

So he opened an email of which he was only one of a very large number of recipients. The sender was some Michelle Malkin boy-toy wannabe who wanted to WARN EVERYONE in his email address book:


Mister Blue Gal did not hesitate to reply, and inadvertently proved to me that he is more tech savvy than he lets on by hitting the "reply to all" button:

Thank you for telling me this, but for very different reasons.

You see, I go out of my way to buy from Citgo, and would not want to miss out because of confusion over the name change.

Chavez was elected President of Venezuela in several free and fair elections. The Venezuelan petro corporation has given oil free of charge to the poor in the United States.

But most important, I just have to respect a leader who has the nerve to call our fascist President a devil. Wars of aggression are contrary to international law, as is torture. Bush is a war criminal and deserves all the criticism he has brought down on himself.

**only the ACLU part is true, but still. You can go first up against the wall, honey. I'm proud of you.

Monday, January 15

Guilt by association, Exhibit A for the Prosecution

When they come for me, I hope and actually expect it will be for my own crimes against the State (thanks Sean Hannity, you asshole) but if they want to prosecute me because my parents are on The List, too, my Dad's letter to The New York Fuckin' Times from this weekend can be added to the intelligence file:

Interview with Blue Gal at

Paul Van Heden was kind enough to interview me again at If you wanna hear stuff about blogging from someone with really flat Ohio vowel sounds, that's the place.

I mention some other bloggers and websites in this interview and here are some links to those. Please let me know if I left someone out:

Jesus' General
Shakespeare's Sister
The Aristocrats
Geeky Mom
Mike at the Blog Round Up at Crooks and Liars
Daily Darfur

I also regret one inclusion in this interview. I appear to be critical of a post by a fellow Aristocrat. That really wasn't the case but it appears so in the interview. You can read the post in question here and my discussion with Sandy about it in comments here. I love Sandy and think his post was thought-provoking, even if I wouldn't have posted it that way myself.

I did have a major disagreement once with another blogger, not Sandy, about dead baby pictures. Whether anti-war or pro-life, dead baby propaganda should be used sparingly, imho. Sandy did use it sparingly, the other blogger did not. I felt the other blogger was posting dead Iraqi baby pictures for his own self-aggrandizement, and that his blog was exploiting, rather than merely exposing, the civilian suffering, and I told him so.

Sandy's post is about how the war is packaged for US consumption, and while I don't "like" the dead baby picture in the post (who would?) I understand it. I hope that clarifies rather than muddies things.

Sunday, January 14

Saturday, January 13

Another reason to stay away from the computer...

I'm thinking about those of you who are dealing with or bracing for an ice storm. January is just wierd.

Charles D. Stimson
is hereby nominated for A-hole of the Year, 2007. Along with the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, who entered the A-hole Hall of Fame at least as far back as 2004.

I can tell you from my own experience, that getting two lawyers to agree on anything is hard work. Cully Stimson (sounds like a cartoon character, really) did an admirable job of pissing off almost the entire legal profession, by indicating that corporate clients of lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay prisoners should fire their lawyers because they represent terrorists.

Let's see, no more habeas corpus, screw speedy trials, heh, and now no right to decent representation.

Stimson has even done what no one else has ever done: he succeeded in (I'm not sure whether to gasp or gag) getting Blue Gal to agree with...deep breath...the Attorney General of the United States:

Good lawyers representing the detainees is the best way to ensure that justice is done in these cases.

That's a total boilerplate answer, but I notice the Pentagon has disavowed Stimson's comments, too. Stimson needs a lesson in public relations, let alone constitutional law and legal ethics. He, or at least his voicebox, should be removed to a secure undisclosed location, like maybe, one of the La-Z-Boys at Gitmo.

Friday, January 12

Guess where I am this weekend...

A ski lodge at Vail? Some Sandals resort? Heh. That's for the bourgeoisie.

I'll be at Crooks and Liars for the next few while Mike of the Blog Roundup goes blues cruising. Smooth sailing and break a leg, Mike honey, but preferably not while dragging the Hammond organ onto the boat.

If posting seems light here go over there and check out the great blogs I'm linking. And thanks.

Thursday, January 11

Don't Sugarcoat It Award for January 11


Today's Don't Sugarcoat It Award goes to the amazing Attaturk at Rising Hegemon.

Turns out one Mona Charon at The NRO Corner (I was sure Kathryn! Jean! Lopez! woulda-coulda-shoulda put a no-female-competition clause in her contract over there) questioned the Democrats' support of our troops. Yeah.

Now I usually don't lift actual posts into a jpeg file and post them as a picture here, but in this case I think it's warranted. And you can click on any of the lovely red letters to read the entire post:

PS. Not that I really give a rat's behind, but I don't think Novakula is going to be invited to any more State Department Dinners. Just saying.

Wednesday, January 10

Seeing triple at the newstand

We don't have TV at Casa Blue Gal, so I won't be watching tonight. And the first mention of the word "win" I shut the NPR coverage off. Zero patience left for this President.

In a happier story, thanks to all the alert BG readers who've pointed out that Whitney Houston is putting her used panties on the auction block. If this is a last ditch effort to get elected mayor of Tranny-ville, it just might work.

Tuesday, January 9

Art and chaos day at Blue Gal

copyright Alexandra Huber

Every couple weeks here at Blue Gal we take a break and look at some art.

The painting above, and many other provocative works, are from a site called Art Brut. Art Brut is a private dealer specializing in "outsider art," particularly art by psychiatric patients and those who have survived some sort of trauma. From the Art Brut site:

When such a person turns to art, there is a chance that the emotions surrounding the trauma will be revisited, possibly for the first time since the trauma itself. These emotions might not be readily apparent to the artist, but their emergence in the art will allow for an opportunity for these feelings to be witnessed and acknowledged. Healing can begin on levels that might still be subliminal, but the process can begin. Art therapy does not necessarily require a classroom.

Some argue that being an artist requires a certain amount of psychosis, but that may be a chicken and egg circle. This art is fascinating and moving. That is enough.

Monday, January 8

Koufax nominations are open.

There's an interesting new category, too:

Best Consonant Level Blog

This is a new category, overwhelmingly supported in the new category poll...It seeks to recognize those moderate-sized blogs which have not yet, or perhaps are happy not to, reach the ranks of the "A-listers". Everyone has their own favorite due to content, wit or ambience, or even the esprit des corps of the comments section. So who is your "go to" moderate-sized blog?

I have no idea why I mentioned that. (snark)

Go vote for your favorites.

Let's buy a six-pack of Enlightenment

RJ Eskow had a fine article at HuffPo the other day (H/T Quaker Dave) taking issue with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris for their purported desire to "destroy" religion. Eskow points out:

...shouldn't people of good will pause when they hear atheists such as Sam Harris say silly things like "science must destroy religion"? After all, there's no proof that it can, and no reason to believe that it should.

Eskow's article (and yes, it's worth it to go read the whole thing) is a well-reasoned think piece, and deserves a great deal of praise for its uncertainties. Eskow does not claim that religion deserves our perpetual unquestioning allegiance. He particularly goes after fundamentalism with full force. Some of the questions he raises, by his own admission, do not bring answers that support what most televangelists or even The World Council of Churches would have us all believe.

I liked this article not only because it reflects what I have already said on the subject, but because it brings into the whole religion debate open-minded and open-ended questions about how we can go about figuring out what is true and needful about religion and what is not.

I'm deeply saddened by the response to this article. Not only did many commenters complain that his post was too long (file under huh) but Cenk Uygur's response, also at HuffPo, totally ignored every point made by Eskow to argue that hey, religion is wrong because the Book of Leviticus is ridiculous! (I'd file under duh, but that file is in bad need of purging, sorry.)

Come on, Cenk. Young Turks can do better than that. And like a buncha frat boys around a beer funnel, the minions flocked to say amen in comments. Geez.

If writers of Cenk Uygur's prominence are going to paint us theists with a wide brush that says all of us take the Bible literally, the blogosphere's enlightenment is over. It's a lazy and bigoted way to argue, and deserves less notice than I have already given.

I totally agree with Eskow's point that "I believe most atheists are progressive, enlightened people..." But if progressive and enlightened, let's also have a little bit of intellectual integrity, like responding to the post in question instead of changing the subject.

UPDATE: Eskow has responded to Uygur, so I guess this will be a back and forth at the HuffPo sandbox.

Researching this post I found out Sam Harris has said some pretty wacko things in support of waterboarding and other forms of torture. File under WTF!?!

And still, we can agree the right wing blogistan are dangerous, unenlightened idiots.

Saturday, January 6

More chances to vote.

So Sandy at the Aristocrats has unwittingly started a little poll. The US forces are apparently starting another door-to-door sweep of Baghdad, so Sandy wants them to be constructive about it. So far we've got them selling:

Vacuum Cleaners


Trick or Treat

And my own contribution

Watchtower Magazine

Here's where you go to contribute your idea.


And has anyone else heard of this A-hole of the Year competition? It was a little involved because you had to vote in comments for the top ten. Voting is over, but I'll be interested to see who the winners are. If you just want to suggest a single winner, feel free to do so in comments, but I warn you, it's a tough choice. Think about it:

Jack Abramoff. Samuel Alito. George Allen. Glenn Beck. William Bennett. John Bolton. George W. Bush. Dick Cheney. Mark Foley. Alberto Gonzales. Nancy Grace. Rudy Guiliani. Rev. Ted Haggard. Katherine Harris. Dennis Hastert. Christopher Hitchens. Brit Hume. Joe Lieberman. Rush Limbaugh. Michelle Malkin. John McCain. Ken Mehlman. Dick Morris. Rupert Murdoch. Bill O'Reilly. Condoleezza Rice. Michael Richards. Pat Robertson. Karl Rove. Donald Rumsfeld. Rick Santorum. Antonin Scalia. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rep. Jean Schmidt. O.J. Simpson. Tony Snow. Ted Stevens. Cal Thomas. Donald Trump. Chris Wallace.

Edited way down from their list, but still.

Friday, January 5

Isn't it too early to talk about 2008?

Not if you're a certain right wing blogger and you want John Bolton for President. Pammy? Now that she's distanced herself, how about Harriet Miers for vice? Just asking.

I hereby endorse Bolton/Miers in the GOP primaries. I really want those two to be the nominees. There. I said it.

UPDATE: A reader reminded me that in endorsing Bolton/Miers, I'm forgetting all about Rick Santorum and Katherine Harris. I'll have to reconsider. Sorry.

Thursday, January 4

Homeland Security gettin' tipsy with it.

Frances Fragos Townsend is Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. (Yeah.) She recently told CNN that even though the US hasn't found Osama bin Laden yet, that shouldn't be seen as a failure. No. It's a "success that hasn't occurred yet."

Let's buy the lady another drink:

UPDATE: WTF is going on with the Right today? Oh yeah that swearing in thing. Anyhow. Next to Frances at the bar, Sean Hannity: "Citing no evidence, Hannity maintains Iraqi WMDs 'were moved'." You want ice with that, Sean?

A reminder from the President:

With Recession Looming, Bush Tells America To ‘Go Shopping More’

After all, there are only 355 shopping days until Christmas:


Background on this terrific WWI propaganda poster from the Koran-wielding Library of Congress is here. (Hat Tip to the amazing research librarian D.A.M.)

Blue Gal at Carnival of the Liberals today...

Carnival of the Panties?

I'm over at Daylight Atheism for a very good Carnival of the Liberals today.

Even though I'm a theist, Blue Gal can't have enough thoughtful atheists 'round here. Grateful to have been included in your COTL, Daylight. Thanks.

Wednesday, January 3

Jefferson's Koran? Whew, at least it wasn't his Bible.

It's so wonderful that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress is going to use Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Koran, brought over from the Library of Congress, to get sworn into Congress, especially after all the silly hullabaloo about the whole Koran thing.

At least they aren't using Jefferson's Bible.


Most of you probably know that Thomas Jefferson put together his own version of the gospels, with all the supernatural stuff cut out, and the stories of Jesus arranged in what he perceived to be chronological order. He did this, in his own words, by "cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his [belonging to Jesus] and which is as easily distinguished as diamonds in a dunghill."

I think Jefferson would think Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and Jerry Falwell and company were full of dunghill.

Didja know Jefferson thought the Christian Church's belief in the trinity was, in a word, nuts?

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.

Hey, at least that Muslim guy isn't using a Bible removed of dung. That wouldn't be Christian(ist).

Jefferson quotes are from this excellent academic paper. H/T to ma hunnie Sandy at the Aristocrats for finding the Koran story first. xoxo

Crossposted at the Dark Lord's Place.

To file under "more fodder for the fundys": Kos commenters are apparently four times more likely to prefer being sworn into Congress holding a vinyl LP of Frank Zappa's Hot Rats than holding a copy of their grandmother's Bible. See the poll at the bottom of the diary.

I'd appreciate any recommenders. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 2

Final thoughts on Ford

I just keep thinking about what if there had been a left-wing blogosphere in 1974? Would Ford have been able to pardon Nixon?

Of course, Ford could do whatever he wanted, he was the President. Those who feel this was the beginning of an imperial presidency? Maybe it began with Nixon, no, Johnson. What about FDR, for Pete's sake? Oh, man, don't forget Wilson. Lincoln. That Emancipation thing was, from a Constitutional perspective, an amazing executive power grab. I could go on.

I was thinking about this question, and this post, discussing with Mr. Blue Gal our agreed opinion that Nixon was more hated at the point of his resignation than Bush is now. Approval ratings don't show this, both men in the 20's give or take.

If We The Blogosphere had been where we are now in 1974, can you imagine the sonic boom on the day of the pardon? Would we have been wrong, too polarized, to see the "healing" that many of us praise Ford for today?


Hate all the new year's resolutions weight loss mumbo jumbo. It's almost impossible for us liberal women to lose weight! Liberal men are just plain higher in calories. Here's proof:

She can eat all she wants
and never gain an ounce.

Virginity chose her.

and then there's the male side of things...

Haagen Dazs Vanilla Bean. 290 calories per half cup.

Banana Cream. 610 calories per 1/6 pie.

Creme Brulee. 400 calories per half cup (35 fat grams and worth every one).

H/T to Attaturk for the Time/Warner Colbert photo.

Monday, January 1

And you thought I couldn't keep a New Year's Resolution.

Happy New Year.

My New Year's Resolution (and yeah I'm old enough to know: only do one per year) is to read more books. And since the blog runs almost my entire life these days, I'm going to try to post a book review the first of every month. Keep me honest, folks.

I've actually "finished" two books in the past few weeks, if books-on-tape count. On the drive home from school carpool, after listening to at least 45 minutes of Wiggles (on good days they'll agree to They Might Be Giants) Mommy gets to listen to brain junk. Richard Hawke's Speak of the Devil (you can read chapter one online) is the story of hard-boiled detective Fritz Malone (yeah) who gets caught up in a shooting, smack dab in the middle of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (yeah). No one really knows why the shooter winds up dead while in police custody, but Fritz knows somebody in New York, maybe the chief of police, maybe even the mayor, is lying. And what about the mayor's Broadway actress girlfriend, who is in the parade and may have been the shooter's actual target?

Okay enough of that. It's good junk, and perfect for listening in traffic.

The book I enjoyed reading this fall (and thanks here to Mr. Blue Gal for recommending it) is Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety (1987). This was Stegner's last book and I'm looking forward to reading more of his work.

I'm actually glad I listened to the hard-boiled detective novel in between reading chapters of Crossing to Safety. It makes it easier to write about Stegner's book because I can show you what it is not. While reviewing the detective novel I could spoil it, give away some crucial plot element and ruin the story. I would be hard pressed to do this with Stegner. Stegner is writing about two couples: the husbands are academics, and while the wives are bound by their time to be "not working" they are as much academics, well-read wits both of them, as anyone else.

To call this book a "character study," however, would not do it justice. Things happen in this book, but they happen to people who are never involved in anything more dramatic than Not Getting Tenure. There's a wonderful scene where a crisis involves whether or not the tea bags have been packed for a camping trip. Each husband, each wife, completely reveals him or herself around this elusive package of tea.

The narrator of this book, Larry, is not only an academic, he is a writer, and Stegner...I was going to say "cleverly" but that understates it...allows Larry to discuss aloud writing the very book we are holding. This excerpt is the book in a few sentences, but I strongly recommend reading the whole thing:

Hallie, you've got the wrong idea of what writers do. They don't understand any more than other people. They invent only plots they can resolve. They ask the questions they can answer. Those aren't people that you see in books, those are constructs. Novels or biographies, it makes no difference. I couldn't reproduce the real Sid and Charity Lang, much less explain them; and if I invented them I'd be falsifying something I don't want to falsify.


The people we are talking about are hangovers from a quieter time. They have been able to buy quiet, and distance themselves from industrial ugliness. They live behind university walls part of the year, and in a green garden the rest of it. Their intelligence and their civilized tradition protect them from most of the temptations, indiscretions, vulgarities, and passionate errors that pester and perturb most of us. They fascinate their children because they are so decent, so gracious, so compassionate and understanding and cultivated and well-meaning. They baffle their children because in spite of it all they have and are, in spite of being to most eyes an ideal couple, they are remote, unreliable, even harsh. And they have missed something, and show it. (240-1)

If Sid and Charity sound like fascinating, human characters, they are. Turns out this is a modern classic (I'd never heard of it or Stegner before this year) so Abebooks has 486 copies for sale for as cheap as a buck. That ought to cover the demand this review will generate, uh huh.