Tuesday, May 31

The end of an era

Well, they say that all good things must come to an end, and I suppose that goes for all tolerable things as well (horrible things, as we've all figured out, last forever). I'm told that Doug arrived safely from Italy last night, accompanied by one massive case of jet lag, unaccompanied by luggage. Best of luck with that one, dude.

I have to say I've had a great time here as resident guest blogger, and not just because Doug gets about twenty times the traffic that I do (nudge, nudge). Enthusiastic discussion is always enjoyable, even when - nay, especially when - disagreements pop up, and I do appreciate that fact that most of us have been able to keep our Pampers on in the interest of sound political discourse. I can only hope for such discourse at my own (nudge, nudge) personal (nudge) blog (kick, stomp).


I leave you with this: Amnesty International released a report last week saying that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are being mistreated and calling for the base to be shut down, on account of beatings and Quran flushings and an assortment of other allegations. In a taped interview for Larry King Live, Vice President Cheney said, "Frankly, I was offended by it. For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don?t take them seriously.?

Yes, that would be ridiculous.

I'm sure that the prisoners who got their holy book flushed down the toilet were offened by that. I know that I'm offended by a lot of things: Jump, Little Children's most recent album, Joan of Arcadia getting cancelled, the way Chung at the cafe downstairs remembers everyone's name but mine and I've been there, like, forty times, and the woman who waters her Chinese Crested in the yard in front of my apartment all offend me. But right now, the thing that offends me more than all of those is the fact that, once upon a time, it would be ridiculous to think that the US was a violator of human rights. Once upon a time, we were all about human rights, and for Amnesty International to say otherwise would be, in fact, offensive. And I'm offended by the fact that it's not out of the question anymore. And I'm also offended by the fact that Dick Cheney has the gall to take offense at the report, which isn't a sign of our innocence so much as it's a sign of his denial. And his denial offends me.

What offends you?

-Baby Sis

I'm back, everybody! . . . (cough, cough, hack, wheeze) . . . f$#! this, I'm going back to bed.

Well, kids, I'm back from Italy. In one piece. Though the same cannot be said for the van we rented for our trip.

Here's the deal: I land at Marco Polo airport in Venice the morning of Friday the 20th and meet up with my five fellow travelers (and no, we did not take the opportunity to wander around the airport with our eyes closed yelling "Marco!" "Polo!", though the thought did briefly occur to me), and go to the Thrifty counter to pick up the keys to the van I had reserved. Since we had a group of six, I had requested a Fiat Ulysse minivan, which is about the size of a Chrysler Voyager or a little bit smaller, but the Thrifty person told me they'd run out of those, so they were going to have to give me something different instead. I was a huge fan of "Seinfeld" in its heyday, so you can't imagine how surreal it felt to be living a "Seinfeld" moment so completely: "See, you know how to
take the reservation, you just don't know how to hold the reservation.
And that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them."

So instead of my nice compact little Ulysse, they gave me a nine-passenger Fiat Ducato van, which is the Italian equivalent of the Partridge family bus -- seriously, with the hi-top roof like ours had, this is the vehicle that UPS drivers in Italy use to make their deliveries, I'm so not even kidding. So we got into that seven-foot-tall son of a bitch and I drove it through the crowded (and non-speed-limited) autostrada traffic from Venice to Vicenza, and then to my friend's parents' house in Caldogno where we were staying, without hitting anyone or even missing a single shift. No gear-grinding or anything. And then after we'd rested up at the house for an hour or two, we all went to a shopping mall in Vicenza to pick up a few things, and I'd made it all the way home from there before WHAM! -- as I was pulling into the driveway, whacked the side of the van on a little telephone-service box, thus ratcheting up the cost of the trip considerably while at the same time finally enlightening me as to the reason why truckers have those signs on their trailers that say "Caution! This Vehicle Makes Wide Right Turns."

But fo' really, that was the worst thing that happened all week, and the rest of the trip was almost universally awesome. I'll tell you all about it, with pictures and everything, in good time -- but two of my suitcases didn't quite make it all the way home (we're waiting on those in Columbus as we speak), so I don't have the pictures yet, and besides, I'm getting over both the jet lag and a head cold contracted somewhere around Florence, so I'm too tired to entertain you slags with anything more than a busted-ass rental-car story at the moment. (Though if you think about it, it kind of continues the "Seinfeld" parallel: "Yeah, you better give me the insurance. Because I am gonna beat the hell out of this car.") For the time being you'll have to make do with the rental story and some new links -- a few people who've been kind enough to link to me almost since I started this blog, as well as a brand-new blog, Martians Attacking Indianapolis, started by longtime friend Josh Massey. He's a conservative, but at least he's not a dick about it. (Well, yeah, he kind of is. So let's just say he's a lovable dick and leave it at that.)

Anyway, I'll leave you with this: When you've had to spend the night in the Venice airport, and you've been wearing the same clothes for 36 hours straight, with nothing but an extra T-shirt, a toothbrush, and some near-depleted Speed Stick to keep you socially acceptable across 36 hours and more than 5,000 miles, and you're getting over a nasty head cold and your sinuses are all messed up so your ears didn't pop when the 10-hour flight from Munich landed in Atlanta and your head feels like it's stuffed with cotton and you wouldn't be able to hear it if someone set off a bag of M-80s right next to you, and you've been coughing like crazy and your throat is raw and you haven't been able to sleep for more than an hour at a time since you got to the Venice airport to begin with and you've got jet lag on top of that, and to top it all off you're still missing those two suitcases you just knew weren't going to make it when you dropped them off at the baggage re-check in the Customs area in Atlanta, and there's that part of you that doesn't even want to tell stories about your trip or show people the photos you took but instead would like only to curl up on a nice soft bed somewhere and pray for the sweet release of death -- when you're experiencing all that, there are only a few things in the world that can put the smile on your face, and one of them is getting home and turning around to be pounced upon by a little Boston terrier whose wide eyes, wagging tail, and willingness to leap into your arms in spite of the way you look and smell is the very definition of unconditional love.

OK, for real, it's naptime. I'll holler at y'all again when I'm back in the B-hizzy for good.

Thursday, May 26

Legislating from the bench is bad, mmmkay?

Except when Priscilla Owen does it.

-Baby Sis

Victory is mine!

I remember a family conversation that took place when the stem cell thing was going around the first time, and I remember saying from the back seat of my father's Camry on the way home from church (oh, I don't forget a detail, you smug bastards) that if President Bush had his panties in such a wad about embryonic stem cell research, he really should be up in arms about in vitro fertilization, since it creates tons of embryos, most of which are just going to be discarded. If he really was so vehemently opposed to the destruction of embryonic life, I asked, why wasn't he speaking out against in vitro fertilization? The conversation went something like this:

Me: If President Bus really is so vehemently opposed to the destruction of embryonic life, why isn't he speaking out against in vitro fertilization?
Daddy: Well, because that really isn't the issue.
Me: But why isn't it the issue? If he really wants every single embryo to become a person, why hasn't he said anything about IVF?
Daddy: Because it's just not the issue right now. No one has brought it up.
Me: But why hasn't he brought it up? If every embryo is sacred, shouldn't he be so passionate about protecting IVF embryos that he brings it up himself?
Daddy: No, because they aren't talking about IVF, they're talking about embryonic stem cell research.

I'm sure my mother was glad it was a short car ride.

Well, punks, he's finally said something.* And he said that... every embryo is sacred. Tom DeLay, who's always got the President's back, suggested that the embryos left over from IVF could be adopted by other couples looking to conceive. And I think that's a swell idea. Really, how long can it take to adopt out 400,000 to 500,000 frozen embryos? It's not like there are any ready-made kids waiting around for homes and families. And any unadopted little embryo-pops can just hang out in some huge government Frigidaire until... until... until the end of the world, I guess, and whatever happens to them then is totally on the Almighty. Better to reside, frozen for all eternity, between a stack of Lean Cuisines and a pint of Rocky Road than to thaw in the name of science and potentially save lives down the road (which, being non-frozen non-embryo lives, are far less valuable).

*Correction: Per Scott "Rainman" McClellan, President Bush has not, in fact, said anything at all. The editorial board of Hey Jenny Slater apologizes for any confusion or violent rioting that may have resulted from this inaccuracy.

Links courtesy of Jesus' General.

-Baby Sis

Tuesday, May 24

I promise not to take your rights away if you promise not to use them

Or, give it away, give it away, give it away now.

If my grandfather gave a rat's ass about politics, he would say, "What the hell kind of stupid compromise is this?" Once again the Democrats, the battered wives of the political world, have rolled over for the Republican majority. In case no one has told you, Senate Dems, a compromise is when both parties give something up, not when you give something up and they laugh at you behind your back.

The conditions of the fingerquote-compromise-unfingerquote reached by fourteen fairly moderate Republican and Democratic senators are that the Repubs won't take away the filibuster as long as the Dems promise to only use it under "extraordinary circumstances." And apparently, those circumstances don't include judges like much-debated Priscilla R. Owen, who had been for the Dems the poster child for objectionable appointments but is now hunky dory, along with Janice Rogers Brown and William H. Pryor.

Now, don't get me wrong - I am all about bipartisan cooperation, and I know that the rest of the country doesn't particularly care about Senate procedure as much as, say, education, or health care, or the environment. But this compromise is, to be a little bit frank, a load of horse poo. Dems have gone from voluntarily giving up their lunch money to flushing their own heads in the toilet and closing themselves in their lockers, in the hopes that the cool kids will like them more. Unity and cooperation can only go so far; there's only so much you can give up.

For the record, in case there was any question, the Republicans have given up precisely nothing. They've said that they wouldn't change 200 years of Senate precedence to disallow the filibuster. Well, folks, to do that would be wrong. The majority of American people know it, the majority of senators know it, there's a good chance they wouldn't be able to ban the filibuster anyway because even moderate Republicans know it would be wrong. The Republicans have volunteered to just not do the wrong thing, and in return, the Democrats have volunteered to back away from their principles and greenlight three judges that they've been blocking because they're too extreme for mainstream America and would be bad judges.

Democrats, I know it's hard to accept, but the cool kids will never like you. And the more you do their homework for them, the more you cover for them when they get caught smoking in the bathroom, the more lunch money you give them, the more they laugh about you in the locker room. This isn't the way to gain the respect of the Republicans, and it certainly isn't the way to gain the respect of the American people. There are times for compromise and times for backbone, and the Democrats aren't going to win a damn thing until they figure out when those times are.

-Baby Sis

Cross-posted at Practically Harmless.

Monday, May 23

Everyone ready for independent self-governance, step forward - not so fast, Afghanistan

Back in January, when Iraq was having its elections and Republicans were wandering around with purple fingers and pretending that they'd made those historical votes themselves, President Bush said that he was prepared to pull out of Iraq should the new government so request. Now, the Iraqi government hasn't actually made that request, which would be a foolish thing to do considering the current unrest (she says mildly). But someone else has.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai didn't even ask Bush to pull US troops out of Afghanistan; he just wants more authority over the troops currently occupying his ostensibly democratic country. Bush said no.

In his defense, Bush did make the point that "of course, our troops will respond to US commanders." And it makes sense that they should. The US military comes as a complete package with chains of command established; they're not mercenaries ready to be parcelled out one by one to whomever needs them next. And also in Bush's defense, recent riots over desecration of the Quran as reported by Newsweek indicate that Afghanistan might not be the most stable of nations. But it's a sovereign nation and a democratic nation.

President Bush's favorite words are liberty and freedom. He loves talking about spreading democracy to nations newly freed from tyranny. The democratic elections in Afghanistan and Iraq were claimed as triumphs for the Bush administration. Now it's time for Bush to show how much he really loves democracy. If he really loves it, if he's all about freedom and liberty, he'll let the democratically elected Afghan government take control of its country. If he doesn't like the way they run the country, if he thinks it puts US troops in danger, he can pull them out, but he can't threaten Afghanistan's sovereignty. It's one thing to invade a country under the tyrannical rule of a dictator or theocratic government (and whether or not that's okay is another debate for another time); it's another thing entirely to keep unseating democratically elected governments until you find one you like, or to play shadow president with a country that has a president of its very own. If Bush is really confident that he did the right thing in bringing freedom and democracy to Afghanistan, then he needs to back off and let them use it.

-Baby Sis

Cross-posted at Practically Harmless.

Friday, May 20

Friday Random Ten, Call Me Now! Edition

Well, Doug's out of the country, and with him his iPod.  But devoted guest blogger that I am, I threw a few chicken bones around, laid out the tarot cards, and made more than a couple of calls to Miss Cleo before deciding that this is probably what he's listening to in Venice.  Doug, let me know how close I got:

1. U2, "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
2. Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue" "Blue in Green"
3. Pet Shop Boys, "Can You Forgive Her?"
4. Beck, "Where It's At"
5. Pet Shop Boys, "One Thing Leads to Another"
6. Johnny Cash, "Sunday Morning Coming Down"
7. Basement Jaxx, "Red Alert"
8. Astrud Gilberto/Thievery Corporation, "Who Needs Forever"
9. Tears for Fears, "Sowing The Seeds Of Love"
10. Chemical Brothers, "Hey Boy Hey Girl"

Post your own Random Ten (or a reasonable prediction thereof) under the comments. And if you're in search of a good, solid downer on a Friday morning, check out my bit on Iraqi-on-Iraqis detainee abuse over at Practically Harmless.

-Baby Sis

Thursday, May 19

Allow myself to introduce... myself.

As Doug mentioned yesterday, I'll be filling in for him while he's away at fat camp finishing up detox hiding from the feds touring Italy. Those of you who don't know me - where the hell have you been? Feel free to check out my stuff over at Practically Harmless. Or don't. Why waste your time?

Anyway, juggling two blogs, a full-time job and a social life is bound to put quite the strain on my burgeoning coke habit, so for today, I'll let y'all take over. No reason not to use Doug's more plentiful traffic to answer a fairly basic question that's been bugging me about the filibuster issue.

Okay, so the Senate is really built to uphold the rights of the minority; that's why California gets two senators, and so do Rhode Island and Montana. The filibuster is another tool to protect the minority, in that a tyrranical majority can sit around crocheting potholders and writing Star Trek fanfiction for days while the minority party debates an issue into oblivion. It's one of the few options available to make sure that legislation or nomination gets through on merit rather than popularity. Obviously. And people recognize that; recent polling shows that two-thirds of Americans oppose "changing Senate rules to make it easier for the Republicans to confirm Bush's judicial nominees."

So here's the question, and it's a very basic one that's been asked by lots and lots and lots of people and still not answered to my satisfaction: what's up, Republicans? I realize that Bush and his supporters really, really, really want to get his entire slate of nominees through. His entire slate, instead of just the 95 percent who have already been approved. Are the remaining seven judges really worth throwing out 200 years of Senate precedent and rolling over on the will of the people? Are Senate Republicans really so short-sighted that they can't imagine a future where they'd be in the minority and need the filibuster option to block legislation that they object to? And does the average, popcorn-eating, American Idol-watching, football-loving conservative really support Frist's decision to go nuclear?


-Baby Sis

Wednesday, May 18

Not having any friends, I get by with a little help from my blood relatives.

Maybe I should've told y'all about this earlier, but I'm heading out of town tomorrow. Way out of town. To Venice, actually. Yup, visiting family in scenic Venice, West Virginia. I actually don't know why I'm excited about it.

No, I'm going to the real Venice, and staying for about 10 days. I may have Internet (and therefore blog) access during that time, but I may not, so just in case, I'm inviting a guest blogger to come in and spell me while I'm gone. You know her as ACG from Practically Harmless; I, on the other hand, know her as Mom and Dad's favorite. (Just kidding, baby sis. Although you did get a nicer first car than me, and you got to do a semester in England, and they visited you at college a lot more than . . . well, we can discuss this another time.)

Anyway, if you've read her blog at all, you know it's actually probably smarter and better thought-out than this one, so you should have some fun with her. (If you haven't read her blog, you've committed a grave sin against my family. Go away.) Enjoy her snarking and feel free to spar with her in the comments threads just as vehemently as you do with me; she's a big girl, she can take it.

Should I decide I like Italy and my bodily tissues are so completely saturated in grappa that I just don't feel like coming home, Ann will have the option of keeping this blog as her own or auctioning it off to the highest bidder.

Anyway, I hope I'll be able to holler at you soon from the great city of Venice. And if not . . . well, you'll live.

Tuesday, May 17

We're horrible, but we're not Koran-flushing horrible!

I was thinking about doing this long post about the retraction of the Newsweek Koran-flushing story, about how getting things wrong with good intentions seems to be something only the right wing is allowed to do, about how much of a stretch it is to think that one brief Newsweek item somehow caused the Afghanistan riots all by itself (and how the Bush administration its ownself had been pooh-poohing a connection right up until the story started looking sketchy), about how (once again) Power Line's John Hinderaker may just be the stupidest, most dishonest dipshit on the entire planet, but instead I decided to take the lazy way out and simply do a Shorter Pretty Much Every Right-Winger In The Country At The Moment:

We may have tortured prisoners, sexually abused them, and killed a few of them, but we didn't flush any Koran pages down the toilet! Ha ha! In your face, motherfuckers!

God. Time to extricate myself from this particular rabbit hole, I'm going to work . . .

Friday, May 13

To the extreme, baby.

Believe it or not, I have conservative friends, and most of them are pretty sane people. They may support stuff I absolutely disagree with, like a flat tax or war in Iraq or the abolition of the Department of Education, but at least they can give reasoning in support of these positions other than Because it says so in the Bible and if you don't think so you're a terrorist-loving commie traitor faggot!

Perhaps because of this overall cogency and ability to reason, however, most of them don't like to think about all the people on their side of the aisle, as opposed to mine, who are ? and I'm going to phrase this as politely as I possibly can ? grade-A USDA-approved right-wing nutbags. Or they can admit that someone like Pat Robertson or Pat Buchanan is on their side, but they won't concede that such folks actually wield any influence in conservative ideology or the Republican Party itself, mountains of evidence to the contrary.

So if any of those at-least-somewhat-rational conservative friends of mine ? or, hell, if any at-least-somewhat-rational conservatives who don't know me from Adam ? stumble upon this site, I'd like to ask them to take a gander at this Washington Monthly post (written two years ago but brought up again today) and read over the Texas Republican Party's official platform from 2000. Then I'd like to hear their answers to the following questions:

1. Do you agree with the positions and proposals outlined here?
2. If not, why not?
3. Do you think a substantial number of Republicans currently in positions of power in this country agree with them?
4. If not, why not?
5. Can you think of anything the Democrats have proposed in the last five years that would be as radical a change to this country as anything proposed in the Republican platform?

My point is simply this: As a Democrat and an unabashed liberal, I'm called on the carpet almost constantly to answer for people who supposedly represent the heart and soul of the Democratic Party ? Michael Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Ted Rall, the crazies at Democratic Underground, et cetera et cetera. But these people are fringe players. The extent of their influence on me goes only so far as, in Moore's case, they can convince me to see one of their moves (I've seen one Michael Moore film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," in my entire life) or as, in Ted Rall's case, they can convince me to read one of their columns (I haven't gone near one of Rall's columns since he went off the deep end and started kicking around Pat Tillman's lifeless corpse for being an Afghan baby-killer).

The Republican counterparts to this craziness and extremism are people like Tom DeLay, who helped write the above Texas Republican platform; James "SpongeBob" Dobson, with whom Bill Frist has been hobnobbing throughout the ongoing filibuster controversy; and John Cornyn, the guy who recently posited that judges who make controversial decisions are putting bullseyes on their own backs. These people are not fringe columnists or Hollywood attention-seekers who make an inflammatory statement or a controversial movie and then retreat back into their limousine-liberal hidey-holes; they wield real power in Washington. Many of them are elected officials pushing legislation that will directly affect my life, and those that aren't frequently have direct lines to those that are. I don't get to choose whether they influence me. They're the ones in control.

So if I have to repudiate folks like Rall (I have) and Moore ("Fahrenheit" was engaging but a little half-baked), isn't it time you rational conservatives repudiated the nuts in your own party? And since they're wielding real governmental power, is it unreasonable for me to expect you to raise your voice just a little bit louder than I've raised mine?

Friday Random Ten, If It's Friday Then Why Am I Still Hung Over From Wednesday? Edition.

1. The Strokes, "Someday"
2. Genesis, "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight"
3. Roger Sanchez, "Another Chance"
4. INXS, "Need You Tonight"
5. Pet Shop Boys, "Miracles" (Lemon Jelly remix)
6. Beck, "Hollywood Freaks"
7. Pet Shop Boys, "The Only One"
8. U2, "Salome" (Zooromancer remix)
9. Massive Attack, "Safe From Harm"
10. 10,000 Maniacs, "Few and Far Between"

As always, feel free to leave your own in the comments. Throwing your hands in the air and/or waving them like you just don't care optional.

Stop calling people names, you big poopyhead!
(Or, "A Streetcar Named Delusion.")

Every once in a while I'll venture over to Blogs for Bush just to have a few chuckles at the expense of some folks whose sheer willingness to fawn and bootlick would probably draw catty comments from most of the preteens on the Britney Spears Fan Forum. The starry-eyed preadolescent gushing of Matt Margolis and his fellow groupies is such that they'd probably post praise of the robustness and rich consistency of Bush's turds, if only they could get access to the White House restrooms (which has been a lot harder to come by ever since the whole Jeff Gannon thing . . . damn you, Secret Service!).

But far beyond being mere apple-polishers, they're also unbelievably thin-skinned when it comes to mean nasty Democrats criticizing Dear Leader. When Harry Reid made his offhand comment referring to Bush as "a loser" last week, Margolis promptly blew a fuse:

Is Harry Reid still in 5th grade? There is no excuse for such juvenile comments ? while Bush is overseas no less . . .

Don't know what being overseas has to do with anything, but Margolis couldn't be bothered to explain that before indulging in a little Dirty Harry fantasy:

I wish I could tell Harry Reid to his face what I think of him . . .

Oooh, I'll just bet you do, big boy! When Reid apologized, Margolis then backed down from Dirty Harry in order to appoint himself Miss Manners of Capitol Hill:

I would like to see a full written apology posted on Reid's Senate website. As of this post, none exists.

Mmmhmm, and how would His Majesty like that apology? How long should that apology remain on the site, and what font would His Majesty prefer? Should Sen. Reid also issue engraved copies of said apology to each member of the White House staff in little cream-colored envelopes? Anything to satisfy the great and powerful Matt Margolis!

Anyway, what I'm leading up to is that Matty didn't even stck to his guns for one week before throwing all this obsession over decorum completely out the window, for a few days later he was calling Reid "a moron" and a "slimeball." Because the Republicans got more votes, see, so name-calling is only OK if they do it!

Sounds like Matty might need a tall glass of warm milk and then a nap. Shining the president's shoes is hard work, after all, especially when you're doing it with your tongue. Just lie down and let your troubles fade away, Matty, and try to forget about the fact that little ol' Harry Reid has somehow turned you into the right wing's own Blanche DuBois.

Thursday, May 12

Thursday Bostonblogging.

Jenna was the hit of the "I Love Homewood" parade last week, but I didn't get any pictures of that, so instead you get more Do Dah Day pictures from a couple weeks ago.

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello In this last picture, I think my friend Brian is trying to get her to do the thing where she balances a treat on her nose and holds completely still and doesn't eat it until he says OK. Needless to say, this didn't quite work out.


Shorter John Tierney: More Victory Gin, dammit!

Shorter (well, not really shorter) Jonah Goldberg: If you ask me to put my money where my mouth is, then . . . uh, the terrorists have already won!

Shorter Dick Cheney: Uh, Mary, Daddy's going to . . . uh, the bank. Yeah, the bank. To, uh, get some money. Don't worry, Daddy'll be home soon. And then we can have ice cream.

Shorter Danielle Crittendon: I have never actually seen a movie before in my life.

(Shorter concept, as always, bogarted from Busy, Busy, Busy.)

Wednesday, May 11

Order is restored.

Don't read the rest of this post if you're a huge fan of CBS's "The Amazing Race" and missed last night's thrilling two-hour finale and don't want the ending to be spoiled, but Uchenna and Joyce crossed the finish line in Fort Lauderdale first and won the million bucks. Couldn't have happened to a nicer couple of folks -- just to give you an idea of how overwhelmingly nice these people are, they were riding in a cab from Miami to Fort Lawdy and realized they were going to be short on cash for the trip. So when the cab got to their destination -- literally less than a stone's throw from the finish line and $1,000,000 -- instead of just taking off and leaving the cabbie stiffed, they stood around outside the gates and begged money from people until they had enough cash to settle up. To do the right thing for a $50 cab fare, they risked losing $1,000,000. But in the end, they made it, and knowing them they'll probably send the cabbie a check for a thousand bucks now that they've won the whole shebangabang.

Uchenna and Joyce, incidentally, are from Houston and worked for Enron and WorldCom, respectively. So if there was anybody more deserving of a king-sized stroke of good luck, I'd sure like to meet them.

Rob and Amber, incidentally, came in second, meaning I will not be forced to purchase a new television as a result of having put my foot through the current one.

Tuesday, May 10

Man. Who knew Vanna was actually the brains of the outfit?

Pat Sajak speaks, and it's every bit as trenchant and insightful as you'd expect:

A distasteful glee emanates from the Left upon the arrival of any bad news from the Middle East. ItÕs as if they are saying, "So, W, where is all the Democracy we're supposed to be spreading through the area? See, we were right, and you were wrong. And deceitful. And dumb." And as bad news is welcomed as an indictment of the President and his policies, good news (and there has been plenty) must be minimized or ignored.

Someone apparently forgot to tell Pat we already have one Ann Coulter too many, though give him credit for managing to Charlie McCarthy her liberals-hate-America routine without all the icky references to Clinton's cock. Still, I'm kind of wondering why all the liberal-media-hating conservatives out there aren't jumping on Pat's case, for he is just another Hollywood elite and he can't tell us what to think, so who gives a shit what he says? Right? Right? . . .

Anyhoo, I have two other questions: 1) Aside from the folks at Democratic Underground, who are mostly just as big an embarrassment to the left as FreeRepublic is to the right, who are these liberals who express "glee" at people getting blown up in Iraq? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? 2) What is that good news from Iraq that everyone is ignoring? I really love how when conservatives bitch and moan about how all this good stuff in Iraq isn't getting reported, they don't ever actually point to anything specific that they think isn't getting the coverage it deserves. They don't actually know of anything specific that's good, they just take it on faith that there is something, because Bush promised them puppy dogs and candy canes and after all he has never been wrong about anything, ever.

Finally we've got this, a retread of the old "He really means well so just wish him the best and be nice, you meanies" pseudo-argument:

There are plenty of issues over which you can disagree with George W. Bush, including Iraq and his push for democratization throughout the world. You may find him wrongheaded or naive. You may think his policies will blow up in our faces. But if you feel that way, shouldn't you at least hope you're wrong and he's right.

Do I hope I'm wrong about Iraq? You're fucking-A right I do, because if my fears about what Bush has done to the Middle East turn out to be true, we're in a whole heap of trouble. But I also hope I'm wrong about my sneaking suspicion that I'm never going to own my own home or have a healthy long-term relationship with a member of the opposite sex, and in those cases, as with Iraq, I don't think anything is going to be changed by me sitting on my ass doing nothing but a-wishin' and a-hopin' that I'm wrong. When most people see something they think is being handled in an incompetent, mistake-riddled fashion -- such as my finances, or my love life -- they say something and at least make an attempt to right the ship. But in Pat Sajak's world, evidently, the solution is to just sit there with a happy little Celexa grin on your face and not bother papa George, because he hates being distracted when he's trying to drive and keep his eyes on the road, especially when it's paved with good intentions.

In short, Pat, SH_T THE F_CK _P. You can solve the puzzle now or buy another vowel, it's up to you.

Monday, May 9

They blinded me with non-science.

Talk with your mouth full
Bite the hand that feeds you
Bite off more than you chew
What can you do
Dare to be stupid

Take some wooden nickles
Look for Mr. Goodbar
Get your mojo working now
I'll show you how
You can dare to be stupid

"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Dare to Be Stupid" (1985)

Sadly, No! brought to our attention The Poor Man's vision of a future in which attitudes like that of the Kansas Board of Education are allowed to take over.

Over at Daily Kos, however, Hunter has maybe the best and most succinct description of what's going on in Kansas: "My problem with this debate is that this isn't about being pro-religion or anti-religion or faith-neutral; it's about institutionalizing stupidity as a valid lifestyle choice." Like it or not, evolution is the strongest theory for how we got to be where we are, the one supported by the most evidence, and that's why we're teaching it in science classes. I'm sure that if you asked enough people, you could find any number of interesting and imaginative explanations for why it rains sometimes, but "water vapor high in the atmosphere condenses around tiny dust particles until their volume becomes such that clouds are incapable of holding them and the collected water falls to earth as precipitation" comes out way ahead of "the angels are crying" in terms of supporting scientific evidence, so that's the one we teach in science classes. If people want their children to graduate from high school still believing that God is taking a shower every time there's a thunderstorm, they can teach them that at home if they must, but they mustn't assume it's their Constitutional right to spread that ignorance to everyone else's kids. Or, as Hunter (once again) brilliantly puts it, "that doesn't mean that the rest of society needs to cater expressly to them, as some sort of least-common-denominator agreement that science can only move forward by the unanimous consent of the most absolutely, positively least interested among us."

You may think this idea of science as something achieved by individual community consensus, so that each little group of people gets to decide on what they're prepared to accept and declare it empirical truth, is just a far-fetched worst-case scenario -- but it isn't. Check out the MSNBC poll that Sadly, No! found:

Should public schools teach students about counterarguments to the theory of evolution? * 42709 responses

Yes- many Americans doubt evolution, and education should reflect widespread beliefs- 44%

No- evolution is a well-established scientific principle- 56%

Yup, that's right -- we're now talking about education in terms of widespread popularity, as in "you should only teach it if a lot of people already think it." I don't know what's scarier -- the idea that educational curricula completely restricted to "widespread beliefs" would even be offered as a choice in a poll like this, or that 44 percent of the respondents would look at that and think, "Yeah, I like this idea." "Many Americans" doubt that the United States actually put a man on the moon, or that AIDS can't actually be spread by a handshake, or that the Holocaust even freaking happened -- should we start teaching this stuff in schools, too, just so their delicate feelings don't get hurt?

That's what this really boils down to -- "I don't want to learn and you can't make me! Stop disrespecting my right to be ignorant!" Compare this to the Christian right's emphasis on moral absolutism and you really get a full, vibrant picture of just how effed-up their worldview is: They don't want tolerance of gay people taught in schools, they want pregnant students shunned and segregated from their classmates, they scoff at initiatives to bolster students' self-esteem because some things are just wrong! WRONG! WRONG! and they are not about to tolerate any asshole teacher telling their kids different! Morality is black and white, and that's how it's gonna be, sucka! But when you bring up science, a field devoted to discovering empirical truth and finding out why things are the way they are, and all of a sudden they're talking grey areas. You can't actually prove evolution happened, not to their satisfaction, so they want their explanation taught too. Otherwise you're not respecting them! You're not making them feel loved!

To these people, in other words, science is just the opinion of some guys who spend all their time in a lab, and as such is open to debate and any one person's "truth" is just as good as any other person's -- but morality is the Great Black and White. Good gravy, is my head ever pounding right now. But at least I don't live in Kansas.

At any rate, I think it's really interesting that so many creationists are trying to sneak creationism into the schools using the oh-so-coy explanation that they "only want to give students another option." Is that so? Then all those students in Sunday schools and private parochial schools are only getting one option, too -- guess we'd better mandate the teaching of evolution in those schools as well. After all, we don't want to keep anyone in the dark, do we?

Sunday, May 8

Happy Mother's Day!

. . . to my own long-suffering mom, Barbara Gillett, and to moms everywhere, both old and new.

Saturday, May 7

Cognitive dissonance on wheels.

Two vehicles recently spied on my travels around Birmingham's Southside:

· A Hummer H2 in the parking lot of the Radisson at 20th and University with a Georgia "Protect Wildlife" plate. Yeah, that hand gesture Smokey the Bear gave you as you were driving by? It wasn't a thumbs-up.

· A Honda CR-V parked near the medical center with the Alabama vanity plate "3JB MOM" . . . and a "W" sticker in the rear window. When the Bush administration brags about all those new jobs they're creating, you can now rest easy with the knowledge that some folks are so lucky they're getting two or three of them.

Not cognitively dissonant per se, just cognitively inexplicable, was the brand-new 4Runner parked on the street in front of my building this morning with the Alabama vanity plate "9-11-01 US." Ummm . . . OK. Just in case you were curious, the Alabama Department of Revenue's personalized license plate reservation site says the vanity plates PRL HRBR, TET FNSV, 10-29-29 US, and HRCN IVN are still available. Get 'em before they're snapped up!

Friday, May 6

What if they brought in Wayne Brady? Could they do the show then?

And my day was going so well:

In a surprise announcement Wednesday, Comedy Central said that the highly anticipated third season of Dave Chappelle's show will not make its May 31 premiere date.

"Comedy Central has suspended production on the third season of "Chappelle's Show" until further notice," network spokesman Tony Fox said in a brief statement. "All parties are optimistic that production will resume in the near future."

Not only does this mean we're left hanging as we wait for another season of Rick James, Black Bush and the Player Haters' Ball, we're going to have to wait longer for the release of the season 2 DVD (which they were wanting to tie in with the start of the third season). Dammit!

However, I found this to be very interesting:

In December, the network said that "Chappelle's Show" was behind schedule after Chappelle fell ill, forcing the network to postpone the expected February debut of new episodes.

"Dave -- and his entire production crew for that matter -- got a bit of a late start on writing season three," Fox told the New York Post. Production was slated to resume in January.

Dave and his entire production crew "got a bit of a late start," did they. You know what that means, don't you? If you don't, let me tell you (backed up by no small amount of personal experience) it means they were stoned out of their minds.

All right, Dave, fair enough. You're excused. I'm mad at you, but I can't stay mad at you.

On representin'.

Re the filibustering/"nuclear option" controversy of late, there's been a lot of talk, and by "talk" I mean "bitching and complaining," from the right wing about how the Senate Democrats are supposedly trying to subvert the will of the majority. (Sometimes I think about all the other judicial nominees that the Senate Dems have permitted to sail through and I wonder when they're ever going to get thank-you notes for those, but I guess Bill Frist was too busy stepping and fetching for Focus on the Family to write them.)

But the "will of the majority" . . . yeah, I know, the Republicans have 55 seats in the Senate compared to only 44 for the Democrats (45 if you count James Jeffords of Vermont, who's officially an independent but votes with the Dems more often than not), but I remember reading an article that appeared in Harper's last year around this time that made the case for doing away with the Senate entirely. The piece made some very interesting points about how the Senate is an inherently undemocratic institution because it gives inordinate power and influence to small, sparsely populated states, which allows them to juice the federal government for way more money than they'd get otherwise, and also screws with the Electoral College (since electoral votes are based on number of representatives plus number of senators), and on and on and on but you could pretty well sum it up with this:

In America today, U.S. senators from the twenty-six smallest states, representing a mere 18 percent of the nation's population, hold a majority in the United States Senate, and, therefore, under the Constitution, regardless of what the President, the House of Representatives, or even an overwhelming majority of the American people wants, nothing becomes law if those senators object. The result has been what one would expect: The less populous states have extracted benefits from the rest of the nation quite out of proportion to their populations. As Frances E. Lee and Bruce I. Oppenheimer have demonstrated in their Sizing Up the Senate, the citizens of less populous states receive more federal funds per capita than the citizens of the more populous states. And what happens if the larger states, with a majority of the people, object? Not much. Today, the nine largest states, containing a majority of the American people, are represented by only 18 of the 100 senators in the United States Senate.

Put this together with the fact that Bush won a whole lot more states than Kerry did in the 2004 election, yet not that many more electoral votes (because he won a whole lot of small states while Kerry won most of the heavily populated ones), and you start to wonder -- just whom does the Senate represent, anyway? I decided to find out.

First of all I decided to measure by straight-up population: Some states have Democratic senators, some have Republicans, so which senators are representing the most people? First I took down the populations of each state as indicated by the most recent Census data, and then I divided them out into the state populations represented by Democrats and the populations represented by Republicans. Since there are two senators to each state, I figured each senator represents one half of their state's population -- maybe an overly simplistic way of looking at it, I guess, but not terrible in the grand scheme of things. For instance, in a state like California (two Democratic senators) or Oklahoma (two Republicans), it's not unreasonable to say the entire state's population is represented by one party in the Senate, and for states like Florida that have one of each . . . well, just split 'em down the middle. Unless one of y'all has a better idea.

Aaaanyway. What I found was that Senate Democrats represented 146,849,457, while Senate Republicans represented 143,087,383 -- meaning that percentage-wise, Dems hold a 50.59-49.30 advantage. And that's without counting Jeffords on the D side -- if you throw him in with the Democrats, they get an additional 309,554 Vermonters and the gap widens to 50.7-49.3.

Now, like I said, simply splitting each state's population down the middle and giving half to each senator isn't the most accurate way of doing this, particularly in a divided state like, say, Florida where the state as a whole might like Democrat Bill Nelson or Republican Mel Martinez better but we really have no way of knowing head-to-head. So I went back and found how many people voted for each person in the 109th Senate. This isn't entirely accurate, either, given that some current senators were last elected in 2000, some were last elected in 2002, and some were last elected just last year, and there's reason to believe that the people who voted for, say, Rick Santorum in 2000 might not be inclined to do so again. But anyway. I went back to the election results to find how many votes each sitting senator got the last time he/she had to be elected or re-elected, and tallied them up to find out how many votes each senator "represents" in Washington.

This time around, Democratic senators represented 59,749,731 popular votes, while the Republicans represented 57,626,077 -- a Democratic advantage of 50.82 percent to 49.02. Count Jim Jeffords as a Democrat and the gap widens once again, with the Democrats now representing 50.98 percent.

(I have all this in a Microsoft Excel worksheet that I'd link or post on here somehow if I was smarter and could figure out how to do it; as it is, you'll just have to e-mail my virtually Web-illiterate ass and request one if you want to see the exact numbers, broken down person by person, state by state.)

Go back to the most recent senatorial elections and measure things a different way, and the difference widens even further: As Andrew Sullivan (somewhat grudgingly, it seems) admitted on his blog yesterday, 41.6 million Americans cast votes for Democratic Senate candidates, while only 38.1 million cast votes for Republicans. Which (roughly) works out to a 52.2-47.8 advantage for the Democrats.

So anyway -- the point of all this number-crunching is that the Republicans' 55-44 advantage in the Senate, which they would have you believe grants them the right to do whatever they want, bears virtually no resemblance to the actual breakdown of the U.S. population or voting public. That's the polite way of saying it; the impolite way -- and the one I prefer, you will not be surprised to know -- would be to tell the Republicans, when they start busting out with the "will of the majority" crap again, to suck it.

Friday Random Ten, Seis de Mayo Edition.

1. Chaka Khan, "Feel For You"
2. Beck, "Ozzy"
3. Fatboy Slim, "Right Here Right Now"
4. Geggy Tah, "Whoever You Are"
5. A Tribe Called Quest, "Oh My God"
6. Passengers, "Always Forever Now"
7. Wu-Tang Clan, "C.R.E.A.M."
8. Pet Shop Boys, "Absolutely Fabulous"
9. Ice Cube, "We Had to Tear This Muthafucka Up"
10. Pet Shop Boys, "Forever in Love"

An '80s dance classic, a bizarre live number by Beck, and two Pet Shop Boys dance tracks sandwiching a song by Ice Cube about looting stores and shooting people during the Rodney King riots. It's going to be an interesting day.

Thursday, May 5

Thursday-morning Bostonblogging.

OK, I warned you guys when I first started this thing that, now that I'm no longer doing a strictly political blog, I was going to be breaking with my long-standing policy of not posting pictures of pets. And since this was a pretty big weekend for Jenna the Boston terrier, I felt compelled to put a few more on here.

 Posted by Hello Saturday was "Do Dah Day" here in Birmingham, an annual event that takes place at a couple of the parks near my apartment and benefits the local Humane Society. It starts off with a parade, in which a bunch of people (not me) typically dress up their pets, and then the rest of the day is music, food, and people taking their dogs all over the park to give the dogs the chance to sniff as many other dogs as possible.

 Posted by Hello The weather was kind of crappy for most of the day, but at least it didn't pour down rain like it had the previous night. (These pictures were taken by my friend Erin at our friend Tom's house, which is right across Highland Avenue from the park where the festivities were taking place.)

 Posted by Hello Jenna could not have cared less about the parade or the frisbee-dog competition or any of that other stuff, interestingly enough -- for virtually the whole day, she had her nose in one of two places: 1) another dog's crotch, or 2) down in the dirt sniffing frantically for dog treats anyone may have dropped. By the end of the day, she had pretty much eaten her weight in the free Milk-Bones various people were giving out.

 Posted by Hello Jenna is blurry in this picture because she's literally flying through the air, pouncing on a dog treat someone threw her way.

Wednesday, May 4

I'll take "The Rapists" for two hundred.

Will Ferrell will be hosting "Saturday Night Live" on May 14, otherwise known as the Saturday after next. I can't even explain how happy I am to hear this, for if it means we get even one more installment of "Celebrity Jeopardy," it's totally worth it even if the rest of the show sucks.

I'd even be happy with another "penis mightier" joke. You know. Whatever.

Because . . . otherwise they might not know how to strip a prisoner naked and put a dog leash on him?

Dumbest thing I've heard all day (though neither Jennifer Wilbanks nor Tom DeLay have made any kind of public statement yet today, so there's still time): Charles Graner, one of the ringleaders (if not the ringleader) of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses, said the pictures taken of the abuse had a legitimate purpose as a training aid.

You now have a homework assignment, readers. Your first assignment is to peep these photographs of the incidents in question and figure out what they could possibly be used to train people to do.

Your second assignment is to go down to Fort Hood, Texas, and bitch-slap Charles Graner for being such a fricking retard. First person to provide photographic proof of having bitch-slapped Charles Graner gets $100 and guest-blogging privileges on this site. If you somehow manage to get a picture of yourself with a cigarette in your mouth as you point and smirk at Graner's genitals, I'll throw in an extra hundy.

Have at it!

Tuesday, May 3

She must be freaking unreal in the sack.

That's all I can really say about this.

Pat Robertson > shithouse rat = true.

Knowing what you know about Pat Robertson's bizarre view of divine intervention -- to wit, God will not intervene to save the lives of thousands of Asian tsunami victims, but will cause an earthquake to kill a whole bunch of gay people -- you would have to conclude that either a) God is kind of a dick, or b) Pat Robertson is. Having received all kinds of guidance, blessings and forgiveness from God, while never having received any of those things from Pat Robertson, I'm going to give God a pass and go with b).

So that opens up a new pair of choices: Pat Robertson is either a) as utter and complete a shyster as there has ever been, or b) so crazy that shithouse rats cross to the other side of the street when they see him. That one I'm not quite as confident about, but I can tell you I'm leaning a lot more toward b) after Patsy's recent statement:

Federal judges are a more serious threat to America than Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 terrorists, the Rev. Pat Robertson claimed yesterday.

"Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings," Robertson said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

Yes, if you're scoring at home, Pat Robertson just said federal judges are more dangerous than Osama bin Laden. Now, back during the salad days of Gulf War 2.0, when all sorts of liberal protestors were making the statement (which I absolutely agree is asinine) that George W. Bush was worse than Saddam Hussein, conservative politicos and pundits alike were falling all over themselves to talk about what horrible anti-American terrorist-lovers these folks were. But Pat Robertson says federal judges are worse than the guy who commanded the mass murder of 3,000 innocent Americans, and . . . crickets chirping. More to the point, nobody goes back to that "Justice Sunday" shindig from a couple weeks ago and asks why Bill Frist, the top Republican in the Senate, threw his lot in with the likes of Robertson.

AMERICAblog brought up a great point last week (link courtesy Atrios) about the double standard that the so-called liberal media has applied to these situations. You'll recall that last year John Kerry held a fundraiser attended by a number of celebrities in which Whoopi Goldberg made a bunch of lame R-rated puns on the word "bush"; the media took great pains to all but turn Whoopi into the official voice of the Kerry campaign. While she may have been less funny than a "Full House" rerun, however, it's important to point out that Whoopi, for her part, was not condemning any of her fellow Americans as worse than bin Laden or calling out the wrath of God on them.

Where is the condemnation for Frist? When is anyone in the so-called mainstream going to suggest that maybe the Senate Majority Leader should not be palling around with people who call out their own countrymen as worse than Osama? Has so much as one person outside the blogosphere sat down and thought to himself, "You know, this guy Frist has all but declared a candidacy for president in '08 -- it's kind of icky that he hangs out with Catholic-haters, a guy who bought David Duke's mailing list, and a guy who thinks he can tell God to kill gay people with earthquakes?"

Frist's 2008 campaign would already be dead in the water if the old adage about "being known by the company you keep" really held true. But apparently it only holds true if you're a Democrat.

Monday, May 2

Well met, baby sis, well met. But the day will be mine.

One of my favorite stories my mom used to tell me and my sister about our childhood -- even though it's not one in which I come off particularly well -- is the day we learned to tie our shoes. My sister was three, which would have made me five and a half or something like that, and somehow she had learned to tie her shoes before me. But I didn't know this until she plopped down in front of me and said, "I know how to tie my shoes now."

This sounded bogus to me, so I said, "No you don't." And right then and there, Ann proceeded to tie her shoes, right freakin' in front of me. I stared at her and her tied shoes for a moment, and then, displaying an acceptance of reality that could've won me a job in the Bush administration had I not been born 20 years too early, I said, "You didn't do that."

Why am I dragging out this old story that maybe all of three people, all of whom are in my immediate family, will find funny? As a segue into the admission that baby sis has smoked me on yet another one of my pivotal life goals -- bitch finished writing a novel before me. Curse her! Who does she think she is, being all literary and shit?

Well, not having actually read the thing yet, I'm tempted to revert back to age five and say she didn't really do it, but knowing her, yes she freaking did. So I've got to massage my wounded ego somehow. I know there's plenty of crap I've done that her ass still hasn't, and I'm going to list them here, for all the world to see -- the Top 10 Things I've Done That My Sister Still Hasn't So Suck It, in no particular order:

· Written a full-length screenplay. Hah.
· Flown in a glider.
· Been to the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. (So that's like nine things right there!)
· Seen a cow give birth.
· Totaled a car.
· Gone backstage at a Widespread Panic concert.
· Driven in (or ridden in) a Secret Service motorcade.
· Had sex with a Hooters waitress.
· Met Wes Clark in person.
· Spent a night in jail.

Top that, baby sis! Yeah, this should float the disintegrating wreckage of my self-esteem for a little while longer. I hope.

Sunday, May 1

I wanna bitch right now.
I'm Doug G. and I came to get down.

Two things that may bother only me.

First one concerns this runaway bride from Georgia who took off earlier in the week and turned up in New Mexico, and the news coverage thereof. OK, when she "disappeared" on Tuesday, I guess that was kind of a news story, though I don't know what made her more important than any of the hundreds (if not thousands) of other people who go missing every year, other than the fact that she was cute and white and engaged. But now that we know she had not been kidnapped after all but merely got cold feet and ditched her fiancee, why is this story still getting covered out the wazoo? The situation has been downgraded from "innocent woman kidnapped, possibly dead" to "some dipshit decided she didn't want to get married" and it's still getting deeper media coverage than people getting blown up all over Iraq or reports of torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay?

Furthermore, it really chafes me that so many people are trying to give Jennifer Wilbanks an out by saying, Ohhh, the stress of the wedding was getting to her, poor bayyyy-bee! I would imagine that an impending marriage is stressful for approximately 100 percent of the people who have ever gotten married, yet a majority of those people -- a substantial majority, I might add -- have managed not to disappear to the other side of the country and make a bogus 911 call about being kidnapped. Then there's this bit of buffoonery:

Jennifer Wilbanks, the 32-year-old Duluth woman who vanished only days before her expensive and elaborate wedding was to occur, resurfaced Saturday. First, she concocted an excuse for disappearing. Then she admitted she had fled to rethink the wedding.

Experts say she likely couldn't handle the stress of feeling out of control and caught up in something that had grown unexpectedly enormous and couldn't be stopped, Baumgardner and other mental health experts said Saturday.

Something that had grown unexpectedly enormous? Look, darling Jennifer did not wake up one morning to find that 600 people had somehow invited themselves to her wedding. Couldn't be stopped? Only if someone put a gun to her head and demanded that she keep all two dozen freaking attendants for the wedding ceremony. It seems that what we have here is yet another case of someone seeking "affluence sympathy" -- meaning our society has grown so wealthy and extravagant that people now expect sympathy for the kinds of problems that are spawned by living too well. Your wedding's too big? Awww, somebody needs a hug! Gasoline is too expensive? Awww, nobody told you your 5800-pound, forty-thousand-dollar Ford Expedition would get shitty gas mileage, did they, you poor thing!

Yeah, yeah, I know, bang bang, court is in session, the Honorable Judgey McJudge presiding. But as much as I (usually) hate to be one of those humorless, scoldy liberals whose favorite phrase is "children are starving in Darfur" . . . well, children are starving in Darfur, and yet they're not even on the American public's radar screen because so much of the space is being taken up by some suburban twit who bitched out on her wedding. The Constitution only guarantees you the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," it does not guarantee you the right to happiness itself, and that means that if you're not happy with how big your wedding has grown and you're not sure you want to get married, you man the fuck up and talk to your fiancee/family about it, you have not suddenly earned the right to go Greyhounding off to Albuquerque and spinning fanciful yarns about how someone supposedly kidnapped your ass. And if for whatever reason you do choose Plan B, you certainly shouldn't get turned into some kind of media darling.

Ahhh, yes. Now on to Rant 2.

This morning on Fox News (and a pre-emptive "shut up" to all who would be outraged about that, I've explained my Fox-watching as clearly as I possibly can, though I did get some level of karmic come-uppance in the fact that Juliet Huddy was off this morning), during what meager coverage they did give to the recent wave of violence in Iraq, there were repeated references made to President Bush's "strategy" (if it can be called that) of "fighting the terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them over here," and I realized just how much that explanation has begun to bother me. Replace "fighting the terrorists" with any difficult, disgusting, or just plain tedious task and imagine yourself doing it at a friend's house because you don't want to mess up your own, and think of how freaking inconsiderate it sounds: I'm checking my kid for lice over there so I don't have to do it over here. I'm letting my dog take a shit over there so I don't have to do it over here. If you used that kind of rationale for doing those things, your neighbors would kind of start to think you were a first-class dick, wouldn't they?

So maybe this kind of explains why other countries, whether this is of any concern to you or not, think we're a bunch of assholes right now. Instead of dealing with terrorism on our own soil, we decided we didn't want to dirty our hands with it, so Bush basically threw a dart at a map to determine which country we could stomach completely fucking up in a protracted street war against terrorist insurgents, and the dart landed on Iraq, a country ruled by someone who, while a dirtbag, had only the most tenuous of connections to the terrorists who had actually started this off in the first place. Look, it's perfectly understandable that we wouldn't want to fuck up our own country in the war against terrorism -- particularly after we saw just how much potential for fucking-up there was after 9/11 -- but how do you think the Iraqis felt when they learned our country's attitude was basically " . . . but we've got no problem fucking up your country to fight terrorism"? Their country was selected practically at random to be the venue for this big-ass battle royale between Bush and the terrorists, and this isn't like the Super Bowl or a Playboy casting call where you want to be the place chosen to host it. This was more like Hey, we've selected y'all's town to be the site of our new toxic-waste dump, and as someone who's probably going to need to head down to Target for a gas mask if the shit ever hits the fan just down the road in Anniston, I've got plenty of sympathy for anyone who'd be pissed off about that.

Or think about it this way: Imagine that Canada is having some internal problems with a particularly belligerent tribe of natives who are pissed off about their living conditions and poor treatment by the Canadian government and as a result are doing shit like sabotaging Canadian highways and going into Winnipeg and Edmonton and trashing buildings and holding up convenience stores. The Canadian government wants to put down the rebellion, but instead of dealing with it in their own country, they send the Canadian army down to the tribe's reservation in Montana and start kicking some native ass, in the hopes that the Canadian tribe members will be enraged and flock to the Montana reservation to defend their oppressed brothers and sisters. Now Canada gets to whack the Indian rebellion and they don't even have to mess up any of their own country in the process. Good for them, but the folks in Montana -- and really the entire United States -- would probably not take at all kindly to that, wouldn't you think?

At any rate, the " . . . so we don't have to fight them over here" rationale is stupid in and of itself, because we're always going to be fighting them over here regardless of who we invade overseas. If we're not fighting them over here, why do I have to take my shoes off before I get on a plane? Why are Muslims still getting rounded up and thrown in jail? Because we're still in danger, and that danger didn't decrease one bit just because Bush decided to attack Iraq -- it wasn't like al-Qaeda immediately suspended all North American operations so that they could send all their available personnel to fight the infidels in Baghdad. They still want to attack here, kids, and if you don't believe that, then you may need a little educatin', kid.

Anyway. Maybe I'm the only person pissed off by any of this. If so, I do hope you'll let me know. Until then, I'm just going to assume I'm right.