30 May, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Short and sweet today, my darlings. It's not just because I have to pack for the trip, but also because the stupid's not quite as thick on the ground as usual. I think the right tired itself out frothing over Judge Sotomayor this week.

But there are still a few Cons out there keeping up appearances.

Let us begin with John Yoo, who apparently has the self-awareness of a shrubbery:

From John Yoo, who seems intent on setting a Guiness world record for total lack of self-awareness:

Conservatives should defend the Supreme Court as a place where cases are decided by a faithful application of the Constitution, not personal politics, backgrounds, and feelings. Republican senators will have to conduct thorough questioning in the confirmation hearings to make sure that she will not be a results-oriented voter, voting her emotions and politics rather than the law.
This from the same man who twisted the law into pretzels to justify Bush's torture regime.

I owe the shrubberies of the world an apology. Comparing John Yoo's self-awareness to theirs was a grave insult, and I'm deeply sorry.

Perhaps we could compare him to Bill O instead, whose self-awareness is so infinitesimal that electron microscopes have difficulty spotting it:

Yes, Bill O'Reilly, it really is a crappy thing when major public figures -- or pissant ankle-biters -- can outrageously smear other public figures as "racist" and do so with impunity and repeatedly. That's what BillO was on about last night, anyway.

But no, he wasn't talking about Sonia Sotomayor. She's just a minor figure, after all. O'Reilly was talking about his own august self. Of course.

It was really quite the stomach-churning whinefest. He started off ranting that "my civil rights" and "my rights as an American" had been violated because he's been branded a "racist" on numerous occasions, which he claims is "libel." Then he indulged one of his periodic bully-the-women routines ("My rights were violated here!"), where he had on two female lawyers who proceeded to explain to him that he was full of crap. This, of course, did not sit well with O'Reilly, who ended up shaking his finger at them and accusing them of enabling the destruction of America.

Along the way, he managed to emit some momentous howlers:

If I were a minority, they couldn't do this to me. You know it. You know it, Tonia. If I were African-American like you are, and they started to do all this kind of stuff, I could kill 'em. And that's my point now. White Americans, Miss California, their rights are being violated, at least the spirit of their rights, by these unbelievable attacks, personal attacks.


They're attacking people who disagree with them in very personal ways. That's what they're doing. Don't dodge it.

Then, when they pointed out that the same could be said of his own behavior, he flew into a barely contained rage:

Wait a minute! Hold it! Tonia, keep quiet. I don't dish it out, madam. I don't do that stuff. Don't sit here and say I do. ... We don't do that here. Ever.

And then, at the end of the show? His usual segment of "Pinheads and Patriots."
You know, I'm starting to feel sympathy for Bill. It's hard to blame brain-damaged individuals for their lack of brain function.

Speaking of brain damage, I'm not quite sure what Sarah Palin was thinking:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) will appear on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" next month in a pre-taped message, the GOP governor said Friday.

On her Twitter page, Palin announced she'd make a cameo on the satirical news show, known for skewering lawmakers and sending-up bombastic conservative television hosts.

Palin tweeted Friday:

Getting ready to tape shout-out for our awesome US troops serving overseas! Will be on 'Colbert Report' next month, broadcast from Iraq…

Um. Sarah? The location was supposed to be a secret. And, also, Stephen's not really a conservative pundit. Just ask George Bush, who found that out the hard way.

While I'm passing out advice, I'll give some to Michael Steele for free. Michael, you may really want to rethink babbling praise for G. Gordon Liddy:
Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported that former Watergate crook and current hate radio host G. Gordon Liddy had launched perhaps the most offensive attack against Judge Sonia Sotomayor yet. “Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something,” said Liddy, adding that she speaks “illegal alien.”

One day after Liddy put his over the top sexism and racism on display, RNC Chairman Michael Steele called on conservatives to quit “slammin’ and rammin’” Sotomayor with personal attacks. Presumably, Liddy’s offensive rant is exactly the message Steele wants to cease, which raises the question of whether Steele will continue to associate himself with Liddy.

As ThinkProgress reported in March, Steele appeared on the Feb. 5, 2009 edition of Liddy’s radio show and told the hardline right-winger that he follows in his footsteps:

STEELE: So, I, you know, I follow the footsteps of guys like you who, you know, who, you know, set the bar and pushed and pushed and pushed and made sure that we could obtain the results that would benefit people in communities, fighting for the rights of individuals and making sure that, you know, we don’t back down. Our opponents don’t back down. Why do we?

Wow. Just... wow. And the fact that the chairman of the RNC fawns over this radioactive fucktard should tell you all you need to know about the GOP.

What Hilzoy Said

Hilzoy explores Obama's recent bit of political aikido, and gets right down to the heart of things:

Seriously: Obama is a serious student of the civil rights movement, which in turn drew a lot of inspiration from Gandhi. Both Gandhi and the Civil Rights movement made brilliant use of the following method: you do something right, which you suspect might lead your opponents to do something wrong. If you are right about them, they discredit themselves, without your having to lift a finger. If you're wrong, you are pleasantly surprised. But you do not have to do anything wrong or underhanded yourself, nor do you in any way have to hope that your opponents are bad people.

That's what he's doing now. He has chosen a judge who is by any standard exceptionally qualified, and who has, in addition, a fairly conservative judicial temperament. She sticks close to the law; she follows precedent; having read several of her opinions, if I have any criticism of her, it's that not seen much evidence of an overarching judicial philosophy other than restraint. (To be clear: if a judge has to lack something, I'd rather it be an overarching philosophy than devotion to the law as written. But I'd rather have both.)

But she is also a Puerto Rican woman. If the Republican Party were led by sane and decent people, this would not matter. But they aren't. As a result, they seem to be unable to see anything about her besides her ethnicity and her gender. The idea that she must be a practitioner of identity politics, a person whose every success is due to preferential treatment, etc., is apparently one they absolutely cannot resist.

All Obama had to do was nominate an excellent justice, and all that is made plain.

And I hate it. I want to have a reasonable opposition party. I also don't want people of color, and especially kids, to have to listen to all this bigotry. We should be better than this.

She's right. We should.

Incidentally, if you find yourself debating a snookered Independent or one of those rare Cons who can actually process facts and might possibly let go of Faux News-style talking points, Hilzoy had a piece up linking to SCOTUS blog, where Tom Goldstein combed through Sotomayor's opinions and managed to thoroughly maim, annihilate, and otherwise debunk the current right wing blather about how her race means she'll toss out the law and side with the icky brown people. Upshot:

Other than Ricci, Judge Sotomayor has decided 96 race-related cases while on the court of appeals.

Of the 96 cases, Judge Sotomayor and the panel rejected the claim of discrimination roughly 78 times and agreed with the claim of discrimination 10 times; the remaining 8 involved other kinds of claims or dispositions. Of the 10 cases favoring claims of discrimination, 9 were unanimous. (Many, by the way, were procedural victories rather than judgments that discrimination had occurred.) Of those 9, in 7, the unanimous panel included at least one Republican-appointed judge. In the one divided panel opinion, the dissent’s point dealt only with the technical question of whether the criminal defendant in that case had forfeited his challenge to the jury selection in his case. So Judge Sotomayor rejected discrimination-related claims by a margin of roughly 8 to 1.

Good luck hammering that through their thick skulls.

Bush: Still Stupid After All These Months

Yes, I admit it. I sometimes miss Bush bashing. He possessed a quality of stupid that was one step above the rest.

He's still got it:
President Bush — in contrast to Dick Cheney — has insisted that President Obama “deserves my silence.” Yesterday, in his largest domestic speech since leaving office, however, Bush would not rule out whether Obama is a socialist, saying that “people are waiting to see what all this means.” In the same breath, Bush defended his own massive intervention in the financial system:


Bush was asked what he thinks about conservative pundits who claim the Obama administration’s fiscal policies are opening the door to socialism. “I’ve heard talk about that,” he said. “I think the verdict is out. I think people are waiting to see what all this means.”


Note to Bush: the correct use of the phrase is “the jury is out,” not “the verdict is out.”
Glorious. And here I was afraid we'd left the Age of Bushisms behind.

He's also still happily ensconced in his bubble:
Throughout George W. Bush’s presidency, his handlers always made a special effort to ensure his appearances with regular Americans were scripted in such a way that shined the best possible light on Bush and his polices. Whether he was meeting troops in Iraq, leading “Ask President Bush” re-election campaign events, or trying to sell his (failed) Social Security reform plan, Bush always had a friend in the audience ready to ask a softball question or heap praise on the president. It appears that old habits die hard, as those attending Bush’s upcoming speech in Michigan will be forced to submit their questions ahead of time:

Former President George W. Bush will make a stop in Michiana on Thursday. He is scheduled to speak to the Economic Club in Benton Harbor this evening. Mister Bush will answer questions that have been submitted.

Poor Georgie. Still afraid to answer unfriendly questions. I hope they remembered to bring his security blankie and binky.


So, what have all the grandstanding NIMBYs accomplished? Looks like they've inspired others to follow their lead:
It appears that our European allies have noticed the rhetoric -- and recent bipartisan votes -- from Congress on Gitmo.

The Obama administration's push to resettle at least 50 Guantanamo Bay prisoners in Europe is meeting fresh resistance as European officials demand that the United States first give asylum to some inmates before they will do the same.

Rising opposition in the U.S. Congress to allowing Guantanamo prisoners on American soil has not gone over well in Europe. Officials from countries that previously indicated they were willing to accept inmates now say it may be politically impossible for them to do so if the United States does not reciprocate.

"If the U.S. refuses to take these people, why should we?" said Thomas Silberhorn, a member of the German Parliament from Bavaria, where the White House wants to relocate nine Chinese Uighur prisoners. "If all 50 states in America say, 'Sorry, we can't take them,' this is not very convincing."

Imagine that. These European governments were largely inclined to help out when they assumed a wide variety of nations would share the detention burden. But now that these foreign officials have heard U.S. lawmakers -- from both parties -- suddenly come to believe that Guantanamo detainees are far too dangerous for U.S. soil, their willingness to cooperate is waning.

America's acting like a spoiled little brat that's refusing to clean its room. You can't blame the rest of the world for not wanting to clean it for us.

This is something those assclowns should think about, but of course, they've proven themselves incapable of thought.

Wikipedia PWNS Scientology

Heh heh heh. Awesome:

Wikipedia has banned the Church of Scientology and its members from editing its site after discovering that members of the church were editing articles in order to give the church favorable coverage.

The move is being hailed as "an unprecedented effort to crack down on self-serving edits," and it is the first instance in which Wikipedia has banned a group as large as the Church of Scientology.

29 May, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

I'm sure all of you have noticed by now that the right's come completely unhinged. Well, more completely unhinged. Sonia Sotomayor's nomination's released liberated them from the last thread of restraint.

Some of you may point out a few of the right-wing voices denouncing the right-wing fucktards. And to that I say: bunkum. At least so far as official Cons are concerned. Do I believe Cornyn's found his last remaining drops of decency and decorum in a forgotten corner of his sock drawer? Do I think Michael Steele's had an epiphany? Do I think Karl Rove's suddenly on the side of angels because he's lost his stomach for ugly smears?

Simply put: not no but fuck no. After all, the handwringers were merrily bashing Sotomayor for all they're worth just a few days ago. Rove insulted her intelligence, Steele insulted her job performance, and Cornyn's still got Gingrich fundraising for him. Convincing outrage: FAIL.

Besides, it's a little hard to take their mild fussing seriously when they're administering gentle rebukes in the face of inflamed rhetoric like this:
And here I thought Tom Tancredo, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh would be the most offensive conservative critics of Sonia Sotomayor. How could I forget this clown?

Yesterday on his radio show, conservative host G. Gordon Liddy continued the right wing's all-out assault on Judge Sonia Sotomayor. [...]

"I understand that they found out today that Miss Sotomayor is a member of La Raza, which means in illegal alien, 'the race.' And that should not surprise anyone because she's already on record with a number of racist comments." [...]

"Let's hope that the key conferences aren't when she's menstruating or something, or just before she's going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then."

So, according to this prominent conservative media personality, the Spanish language is synonymous with "illegal alien," and women are, by nature, poorly suited to serving as justices.

Do I hear anybody denouncing their good buddy Liddy? Going once? Going twice?


The right's problem is that Sotomayor's incredibly hard to attack. So they're reduced, as per GOPSOP, to totally making shit up:

Here's [Weekly Standard's Michael] Goldfarb:

Stuart Taylor digs up another example from Sotomayor's Princeton days:

In October 1974, Princeton allowed Sotomayor and two other students to initiate a seminar, for full credit and with the university's blessings, on the Puerto Rican experience and its relation to contemporary America.

I went to Princeton but somehow I never got to teach my own class, or grade my own work. One wonders how Sotomayor judged her work in that class, and whether the grade helped or hindered her efforts to graduate with honors.

And here's the Princeton press release Taylor cites:

So they [Sotomayor and two other students] did what scores of other Princeton Students have been able to do for the past six years: they initiated their own seminar ... The seminar is being taught by Dr. Peter E. Winn, Assistant Professor of History and a specialist in Latin American affairs. Under a plan adopted by Princeton in 1968 students are free to propose seminars on special topics to a faculty Committee on Course of Study. ... In the past 12 terms 132 such courses have been approved and offered."
The release also makes clear that the seminar Sotomayor initiated had been offered twice before.

So Goldfarb's snide comments about Sotomayor teaching her own class and grading her own work seem to be completely baseless: she didn't teach the class.
Stuart Taylor, just for the record, is the genius who said that Paula Jones had a strong case. A person with a functioning brain might have fact-checked him before swallowing his bullshit. Goldfarb didn't. Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my own case.

I encourage the right-wing frothers to stay on the attack. It's always amusing when Nooners starts calling people in her own party idiots and tells them to start playing grownup. And I'd like to see how long it takes before Hispanic support for the GOP completely vanishes:

Top-ranking Republican strategists who specialize in Hispanic outreach say they are outraged, disturbed and concerned by the type of reception Barack Obama's pick for the Supreme Court has received from conservative activists.


The rhetoric has been enough to make Republican strategists in heavily Latino states cringe -- concerned that such slights could cement Democrats advantages among a growing and increasingly influential political constituency.

"Of course this disturbs me," said Lionel Sosa, one of the more influential Hispanic media advisers in the GOP. "I'm not surprised at Rush Limbaugh but I'm very surprised at Speaker Gingrich because he is one of the key people who knows the importance of the Latino vote to the Republican Party. He must realize how his rhetoric, if it does influence any Hispanics, how damaging it could be. This [confirmation] is something that is going to happen anyway. For a senator to have strong opposition to her, they are either not aware of the impact Latinos will have on the next election or they don't care."

I'd say both, actually.

Another right-wing smear against Sotomayor is her supposed abrasiveness. Christie Hardin Smith has the right quote for the occasion:

I'll let Kevin Russell, who was on a WH-sponsored call I sat in on the other day, speak for me with his manly wisdom:

I understand that she has the reputation for being tough and doesn't suffer fools gladly.

I understand some of those fools may not be happy about that.


What Did We Tell You?

Remember how Brian and PZ and about twenty bajillion other science bloggers warned us that all the hype over Ida was going to become a creationist field day? It did:

Right on cue, the Worldnutdaily shows us why what the scientists, PR people and media outlets who overhyped the find of an early primate fossil did was detrimental to the public's understanding of science. Such exaggerations and overblown statements are easily turned around and made to cast doubt on the validity of science and the theory of evolution.


Of course, the Worldnutdaily also has to add their own distortions to the list:

History is replete with discoveries initially proclaimed as some sort of missing link, but later proved to be hoaxes.

And then, of course, they can only name two - Archaeoraptor and Piltdown Man. The Archaeoraptor hoax was perpetrated by a Chinese farmer, not by a scientist, and the Piltdown Man hoax was nearly a century ago - and was discovered by scientists.

Ironically, the article also mentions Nebraska Man, which was another textbook example of the media overhyping a fossil find and building far too much out of a simple tooth. The scientist who actually reported the find, HF Osborn, authored a careful and tentative identification of the find; it was a popular British magazine that turned that into a picture of an ape man, complete with wife and child.

But in this case, the scientists themselves have been caught up in the hype and participating in the very thing that destroys their credibility. I hope this will serve as a warning to other scientists not to do the same thing, but I fear it won't.

Probably not. But for once, just once, I'd like to see people learn from boneheaded mistakes.

Hell, while I'm wishing, I'd like a ranch with horsies, too.

Erick Erickson Loses the Last of His Marbles

And I know he's lost them, because only a mableless man would compare Rush Limbaugh to Jesus.

That's right. Jesus. Christ.

Peter, under pressure and fear, denied Christ not just once, but three times. Peter, though, feared death. The strain on Peter was great. The rest of us, though, typically fear the opinions of others.


The incidents of late with Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Dick Cheney, and others is why I raise this. Putting it bluntly, were these guys on the left, their fellow leftists would at best be cheering them on and at worst silently nodding along. There wouldn’t be any on that side rushing to the nearest microphone to condemn them.

It gets much worse.

I'm sure it does, but I'm too busy barfing through the gales of laughter to go look. If you guys survive it, let me know how bad it was.

Kitteh's Thowing His Life Away

It's so sad when it comes to this:

28 May, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Today is a day filled with OMFG moments. It's a day when you risk shattering your skull, because there's only so many times your head can hit a desk before structural weaknesses emerge.

Let's begin with perhaps the biggest *headdesk* moment so we can just get it out of the way:

Seizing the opportunity to vilify a female, Hispanic Supreme Court nominee, noted bigot Tom Tancredo has emerged from obscurity to denounce Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Earlier this week, Tancredo declared her to be a “racist” who should be “disqualified” from serving on the bench.

This afternoon on CNN, he went further, attacking her affiliation with the National Council of La Raza as equivalent to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan:

TANCREDO: If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino — it’s a counterpart — a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses. If you belong to something like that in a way that’s going to convince me and a lot of other people that it’s got nothing to do with race. Even though the logo of La Raza is “All for the race. Nothing for the rest.”

Of course, the characterizations are wildly false. La Raza is the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization that focuses on such nefarious issues as “civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health.” Used to these attacks, La Raza has a long fact-sheet debunking the unhinged claims of the right, including pointing out that “La Raza” translates as “the people,” not “the race,” as the right wing suggests.

And, of course, he's got their slogan completely fucking wrong. What a disgusting douchebag.

Then we have Jon Kyl, Arizona's eternal shame, wanting to delay Sotomayor's confirmation because - well, just because he's a dumbshit Con:

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is now saying the confirmation process for Sonia Sotomayor will likely have to wait much longer than President Obama wants -- going into September rather than happening before the August recess.

"My guess is that if you apply the same general standards as were applied to the Roberts and Alito nominations that probably it goes into the first part of September," Kyl told Fox News.

Simply put, this is baloney on multiple levels. For one thing, John Roberts was first nominated for the Supreme Court in late July 2005, then confirmed as Chief Justice in late September 2005 -- a period of just over two months. Alito took a bit longer, being nominated in late October 2005, and confirmed in late January 2006 -- a period of three months. Kyl is using these two examples to justify a period of nearly four months.

Sometimes, I'm tempted to move back to Arizona just so I can help vote his sorry ass out of the Senate.

Another major *headdesk* moment came when I caught wind of the latest and greatest right wing conspiracy theory about Obama:

A whole lot of right-wing blogs are worked up today over a report about the political affiliations of Chrysler dealers who've been shut down.

Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Repubicans [sic]. What started earlier this week as mainly a rumbling on the Right side of the Blogosphere has gathered some steam today with revelations that among the dealers being shut down are a GOP congressman and closing of competitors to a dealership chain partly owned by former Clinton White House chief of staff Mack McLarty.

The basic issue raised here is this: How do we account for the fact millions of dollars were contributed to GOP candidates by Chrysler who are being closed by the government, but only one has been found so far that is being closed that contributed to the Obama campaign in 2008?

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who has a dealership that will close, called this "an outrage." A variety of far-right bloggers chose more colorful language.

And what is the "evidence" of a partisan conspiracy that "appears to be mounting"? As you might have guessed, like most conservative theories, this one is extremely thin. The argument, in a nutshell, is that Chrysler dealers owned by a variety of Republican donors are being closed, the government is now involved with Chrysler's restructuring, so that points to "evidence" that the Obama administration is deliberately punishing GOP contributors.

As per usual with Cons, they haven't the slightest bloody clue how to evaluate "evidence." Nate Silver did them the favor, and discovered a possible reason. When looking at dealerships overall, he discovered that the vast majority of them donate to Cons. Let me put it this way, in simple words they might be able to understand: if you have 27,000 red apples and 4 green apples in a barrel, and you remove a bunch of bad apples, chances are most of the bad apples will be red, simply because you had more red apples to start with.

I know. I know. They probably won't get that analogy, either. Look, I tried.

By the way, the next time a Con tells you they have a health care policy position, tell them Republican Rob Portman's called them a bit fat bunch of fucking liars:

Whoops. Rob Portman, a Republican Senate candidate in Ohio, has now admitted in an interview that the GOP doesn’t have a position on health care. Worse, he says he came to that conclusion after multiple discussions with GOP Congressional leaders about the issue.
Check out this nugget buried in a National Journal article (subscription only) about Portman:

Republicans have also taken some heat nationally for not focusing on health care in their campaigns in recent years, but Portman already has been speaking on the issue frequently.“We have to have an alternative. … I will tell you, I don’t think there is a Republican alternative at this point,” he said. He said he reached that conclusion after talking to Senate leaders and lawmakers about the GOP’s position. “There isn’t one,” he said. “There’s a task force, and I applaud them for that.”

Oh, well, a task force. Well. That changes everything. They're thinking about thinking of maybe eventually coming up with some ideas. Wonder how new those will be?

And, finally, some kind soul needs to be dispatched to take Mark Krikorian's shovel away from him asap:

The National Review's Mark Krikorian received quite a bit of criticism yesterday (including some from me) following a couple of posts about the pronunciation of Sonia Sotomayor's name. Krikorian argued that the proper pronunciation, preferred by the judge and her family, is "unnatural in English," and "something we shouldn't be giving in to." It wasn't clear which group of people constituted "we."


Today, after noting the variety of responses to his argument -- Olbermann labeled him the Worst Person in the World last night -- Krikorian thought it wise to return to the subject again today.

[F]or those actually interested in the point, here's what I was trying to get across: While in the past there may well have been too much social pressure for what sociologists call Anglo-conformity, now there isn't enough. I think that's a concern that most Americans share at some level, which is the root of the angst over excessive immigration, bilingual education, official English, etc.
I'm not sure how this helps.
I think it only helps if the poor fucker's trying to dig his way to China.

Excuse me, please, my darlings. It's time for my MRI to see how much permanent damage my skull's sustained.

Last Day to Bring Me Yer Treasures

Well, I be gettin' ahead o' meself, since I haven't got much o' yer booty yet. Be gettin' those links in to elitistbastardscarnival@gmail.com by the end o' the day Friday. I plan to have this ship's hold full o' Elitist Bastardry. Don't make me sail over to yer blog and raid ye, now!

For those o' ye wondering what ye should submit, here be the simple requirements:

1. Pick a blog post o' yours that hits the stupid where it hurts.

2. Send it in.

That be it. And I don't want to hear yer excuses - I been readin' yer blogs, and I know each and every one o' ye's already posted some fine elitist bastardry.

I'll see ye all aboard come Saturday, or I'll be boarding ye come Saturday, whichever's required.

Look Who Made the London Times

Yes, my darlings, that's right: Brian Switek his own self. He's been doing some incredible work on Ida, putting her in proper perspective and exploring her true significance, and it's awesome to see him get a prestigious venue from which to dial back the hype and teach folks a little something about how evolution really works:

There is some irony in calling Ida the missing link. She was named Darwinius in honour of Charles Darwin, but the phrase “missing link” harkens back to a pre-evolutionary idea of nature. Called the Great Chain of Being, this interpreted all life as forming an immutable hierarchy, ordained by God, from “lower” to “higher”. Scholars believed that God favoured a full creation and each rank connected to the next, but “missing links” presented a problem. The link between humans and lower animals was the most elusive of all.

Our understanding of evolution could scarcely be more different. There is no evolutionary end point or fore-ordained hierarchy of beasts. Life is better understood from Darwin's perspective - as a wildly branching bush constantly being pruned and sending out new shoots through evolution. Calling Ida a missing link may grab attention, but it is incongruous with what Darwin proposed.

It's a great article, and it's wonderful to see him get the recognition he deserves. Pop on over and give Brian some love, then stay tuned for his upcoming Ida Carnival (contributions welcome).

Congratulations, Brian!

(Tip o' the shot glass to John Pieret, who knew Brian when.)

They're On About Food Again

Some kind soul needs to sit the Cons down with a good psychiatrist. They clearly have serious issues. Remember when they freaked out over mustard (not to mention the arugula and, well, pretty much everything Obama ever ate)? The food fanatics are at it again, this time attacking Judge Sotomayor for - wait for it - liking Puerto Rican food:

According to Hill reporter Alexander Bolton, "This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo -- pigs' tongue and ears -- would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench."

Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee for Justice, a conservative-leaning advocacy group, said he wasn't certain whether Sotomayor had claimed her palate would color her view of legal facts but he said that President Obama's Supreme Court nominee clearly touts her subjective approach to the law.

Slightly gobsmacked, I called Bolton earlier today and asked him whether this was for real--whether any conservatives were genuinely raising this issue. He confirmed, saying, "a source I spoke to said people were discussing that her [speech] had brought attention...she intimates that what she eats somehow helps her decide cases better."

Bolton said the source was drawing, "a deductive link," between Sotomayor's thoughts on Puerto Rican food and her other statements. And I guess the chain goes something like this: 1). Sotomayor implied that her Latina identity informs her jurisprudence, 2). She also implied that Puerto Rican cuisine is a crucial part of her Latina identity, 3). Ergo, her gastronomical proclivities will be a non-negligible factor for her when she's considering cases before the Supreme Court.

Got it? Good. This is the conservative opposition to Sotomayor.

You know, when my mother went clinically insane - and I don't mean metaphorical insane, I mean actual talk-to-the-toaster, end-up-committed-to-a-mental-institution, genuinely psychotic insane - one of the first signs she was going whacko was a pathological fixation on food.

Now, I'm not sure we can Title 36 every Con exhibiting symptoms, considering the sheer numbers involved, but I'm starting to believe it may be necessary for their safety and ours. Maybe we can turn Gitmo into a psychiatric hospital. I hear the Cons sure do envy detainees those awesome tropical breezes.

Best LOL Evah

This LOL combines two of my great loves, and is therefore the best ever from my POV:


Our Captain's Down, but We Sail Yet!

Most o' ye know our Captain George had a wee mishap. He be on the mend, but the doctors have yet to pronounce him fit for duty. That means yer Admiral's taking the helm this voyage. We'll have to be quick about it - I be headin' to Arizona this weekend, and that be no place to sail a ship from!

Get yer Elitist Bastard links to me at elitistbastardscarnival@gmail.com by end o' day Friday. I know it be short notice, but I also know ye've got plenty o' elitist bastardry already posted this month, so ye've nothing to worry about.

See ye on board, me hearties!

27 May, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

I've been in training all afternoon, so I haven't had much chance to burn up my eyeballs with teh stoopid. But America's Cons were obliging enough to make sure I had plenty of it to choose from.

The raving right's been attacking Judge Sonia Sotomayor from every angle they can think of. But you know their case is truly pathetic when they're reduced to this:

One of the low points in the right's criticism of Obama during the presidential campaign came in October, when some conservatives started complaining about the Democrat's pronunciation of "Pakistan," with a soft "a."

The National Review's Mark Stein complained at the time that Obama prefers the "exotic pronunciation." He added, "[O]ne thing I like about Sarah Palin is the way she says 'Eye-raq'." The National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez posted an email that argued, "[N]o one in flyover country says Pock-i-stahn. It's annoying."

Keeping this spirit alive, the National Review's Mark Krikorian argued that the proper pronunciation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's name doesn't work for him, and he'd like to see other join him in rejecting it. Krikorian started this yesterday...

So, are we supposed to use the Spanish pronunciation, so-toe-my-OR, or the natural English pronunciation, SO-tuh-my-er, like Niedermeyer?

...and expanded on this today.

Deferring to people's own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination, but there ought to be limits. Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English (which is why the president stopped doing it after the first time at his press conference) ... and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to. [...]

ZOMG, American civilization will end if we're forced to pronounce people's names correctly!!1!!11!

Pretty potent stuff, that. But I'm afraid it's all for naught. You see, Judge Sotomayor saved baseball:
As you know, I'm a huge baseball fan, and even Major League Baseball is saying that Sonia Sotomayor ended the strike that almost destroyed the game under the idiot, Bud Selig.
It was Sotomayor's ruling that forced Major League Baseball players and owners to resume the national pastime in 1995 after a 234-day player strike wiped out the final six weeks of the regular season and the entire postseason in 1994.

That's it. It's over. There's no way they can get around that, no matter what arguments they invent. She could rape kittens while eating baby kabobs, and still, she's in. She's on the court. The woman saved baseball. That's about equivalent to saving Mom and apple pie.

So, right, put a fucking sock in it.

Moving on.

Anti-gay marriage frothers are having a harder time than usual staying coherent. Here's the latest example of white-hot stupidity:

Last night, C-SPAN aired the lasted segment of Students & Leaders series, with Rep. John Culberson (R-TX). Addressing a group of D.C. students, he repeatedly emphasized the need for less government interference in Americans’ lives. “I’m very focused on eliminating — shutting down as much of the federal government’s functions as I can,” Culberson said, while espousing state and local control.

However, when a student asked Culberson about state control over gay marriage, Culberson rapidly descended into incoherence. He began by declaring, “It’s up to the states.” But by the end of his rambling answer, he tried to explain why the federal government “cannot permit” a state like Vermont to make its own rules. All this while repeating that people’s “privacy is fundamental”:

CULBERSON: Well under the 10th amendment, the states have a first responsibility for providing for public safety, public health, public morality. All issues that just affect the people within that state. It’s up to the states. And you either follow the constitution or you don’t. [...]

Federal law cannot permit — if one state, Vermont, wants to do that, you can’t let that cross state lines. You’ve got to let — frankly, a lot of these issues have got to be left up to the states. But the federal government cannot permit for example — The federal government has a legitimate role in interstate commerce. And that’s where the federal government comes in. I think the federal government can’t recognize — shouldn’t recognize it, it’s just a bad idea. And uh — But fundamentally, the right of privacy’s fundamental. I’m not interested — what people do at home’s their own business.

So, federal law should stay the hell out of people's private lives and let the states decide what's what, but because of interstate commerce, it can tell states and couples who can and cannot get married? Am I parsing this right? Is anything that incoherent even parsable?

The idea of gays getting married really does reduce these people to the worst kind of babbling morons, doesn't it just?

Speaking of things reducing people to the level of babbling moron...

Rep. Paul Broun, R-GA, was on Fox and Friends yesterday touting his proposal to have Congress officially designate 2010 "The Year of the Bible", and he had an interesting rationale for it:

Broun: Well, it's all about freedom, actually. The Bible was the basis of our laws, it was the basis of the Constitution of the United States, the Declaration of Independence -- the Bible was the founding source.Hmmmmm. Well, some of us have heard otherwise, but OK, whatever.

You may remember Rep. Broun. Last November he won lots of friends on both sides of the aisle and in the White House when he warned that Obama was preparing a Hitler-like dictatorship with his civilian-youth-corps proposal: "That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did ... When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

My best friend likes to tell me that certain people have prayed and thumped their Bibles so hard they've melted their melons. I believe Rep. Broun is a perfect Exhibit A.

If the level of pathetic on the right keeps increasing at this exponential rate, we'll soon run out of room for it in this finite universe of ours.

Sick, Twisted Fucktards

Since the right likes to bash liberals as freedom-hating fascists, since they love to moan about how cruel and mean and what a blight on the national discourse we are, I'd like to know how they explain this:
Here is some rightwing loon named Ralph Peters:
Pretending to be impartial, the self-segregating personalities drawn to media careers overwhelmingly take a side, and that side is rarely ours. Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media.
Sounds crazy, right? Beyond the pale, right? Deliberately killing journalists? That's something we would never do, that's NoKo/Saddam-level totalitarianism, plain and simple.

Well, Mr. and Ms. America, I got some news for you. It's already happened.
No one will be surprised to learn it's the Bush regime that killed journalists. And no one will be surprised that Ralph Peters is the kind of whackaloon, murderous fuckhead that Faux News loves to parade around as an august figure of authority:
Update: from digby

This wasn't the only wacko thing the sick piece of work Ralph Peters said today on Fox. Get this:

"We're dealing with people who aren't human anymore. They're monsters. And monsters deserve to die."
So, advocating wholesale murder of journalists and the dehumanization and murder of Gitmo detainees isn't beyond the pale in the right's opinion. Something we should keep in mind come election season. If America puts the right back in charge of the country, what little moral authority we have left is dead.

They have no moral authority. None.

Hannity, the Defiant Coward

Are you fucking kidding me?

I'm getting rather ambivalent about having celebrities get waterboarded, even when it changes their opinion like Erich "Mancow" Mueller. It's torture, now he knows it. But the more it is done the more it becomes a parlor trick in too many eyes. It's torture, it's a crime not a game of Cranium.

And you still have a result like this from moral degenerates:

Mancow also revealed that his friend Sean Hannity "called me and said 'it's still not torture.'"

So more evidence that Sean Hannity is an a-hole.
So, he's still too much of a despicable coward to put his money where his mouth is, but he thinks he's right and Mancow's wrong.

I don't even have the words for what a disgusting piece of yellow shit he is.

Prop 8: It's Only a Setback

You've probably already seen the news: California's Supreme Court upheld Prop 8. They've tossed the ball back to our side of the court, practically begging us to score:
The court’s majority concluded “that if there is to be a change to the state constitutional rule embodied in that measure, it must ‘find its expression at the ballot box.’”
That means those of us who support same-sex couples' right to get married have a job o' work ahead of us:

In response to the court's decision, the Courage Campaign will hit the California airwaves in the next 72 hours with a 60-second TV ad version of "Fidelity"—the heartbreaking online video viewed by more than 1.2 million people, making it the most-watched video ever in the history of California politics.

We are launching this provocative new TV ad in the spirit of Harvey Milk's call to "come out, come out wherever you are" and proudly tell the stories of the people most affected by the passage of Prop 8—in moving images set to the beat of Regina Spektor's beautiful song.

More than 700,000 Courage Campaign members are ready to restore marriage equality to California. Will you help us get to "1 Million for Marriage Equality"? Watch our powerful new 60-second "Fidelity" TV ad and sign the pledge.

If you like TV ad, please contribute to put it on the air in Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco.

Let's get it done. We can't have California falling too far behind Iowa, now, can we?

Kristol Ball Breaking

Note to Bill Kristol: don't start a second career as a psychic anytime soon.

Today, President Obama picked Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his Supreme Court nominee. On Fox News Sunday this past week, right-wing pundit Bill Kristol (ie “Kristol Ball”) confidently predicted that Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) would be the next Supreme Court nominee:

KRISTOL: I think he has made up his mind, and I think it’s going to be Jennifer Granholm, the governor of Michigan, for this reason. Obama gave that interview Friday which we saw the snippet from. In that interview, he uses the term practical seven times — I want someone with a practical sense of how the world works, I want someone with practical experience. Obama knows what he’s doing, and I think he wants to say, I’m putting on someone who went to Harvard Law School, clerked at an appellate level, was attorney general of Michigan, has good quotes from Republicans and Democrats about their conduct of that legal office, but who really understands the effect on real-world decisions.

The man has the predictive power of a melted Magic 8 ball.

26 May, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Obama announced his pick for the Supreme Court today. And the Cons sprang into action, giving us a superb view of their racism, sexism, and various and sundry other isms.

Inhofe was perhaps the most obvious of the lot:

A whole lot of senators issued statements today in response to Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination, and most were polite and inconsequential. Sen. James Inhofe's (R-Okla.) press release, however, stood out.

"Without doubt, Judge Sotomayor's personal life story is truly inspiring. I congratulate her on being nominated. As the U.S. Senate begins the confirmation process, I look forward to looking closer at her recent rulings and her judicial philosophy.
"Of primary concern to me is whether or not Judge Sotomayor follows the proper role of judges and refrains from legislating from the bench. Some of her recent comments on this matter have given me cause for great concern. In the months ahead, it will be important for those of us in the U.S. Senate to weigh her qualifications and character as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences." [emphasis added]


Put it this way: when was the last time James Inhofe questioned whether a white nominee for the federal bench had an ability to rule "without undue influence" from his race? Would he worry about the Vatican having "undue influence" over a Roman Catholic nominee? Has he ever checked to make sure a male nominee was not overly influenced by his gender?

I somehow doubt it.

Of course, the whole chorus line of right-wing blowhards is belting out the tune:

Leading conservative commentators and news outlets have jumped on the 2001 Sonia Sotomayor quote I noted below to make the (wrong) claim that she has said that Latinas are better than white men.

In that 2001 speech, Sotomayor didn’t say that. Rather, she said this:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Rush Limbaugh, in an apparent reaction to the quote, said that Sotomayor is a “reverse racist” who “has put down white men in favor of Latina women.” Fox News’ Megyn Kelly said it shows Sotomayor thinks “that Latina judges are obviously better than white male judges.”

Michelle Malkin, meanwhile, said it shows that Sotomayor wants her personal experiences to “cloud her jurisprudence.”

The full text of her 2001 speech is right here. It shows that these readings are complete fabrications.

Yes, I know. Super totally unbelievable they'd take something utterly out of context and use it to paint Sotomayor as some sort of uber-liberal activist judge who just wants to bust white men's balls, right?

But they're not stopping there. Oh, no. They're slamming her intellect:

Attacking Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor for being insufficiently right-wing makes perfect sense. Attacking her intelligence is not only ridiculous, it's offensive.

Sotomayor, a lower-court nominee of both the H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations, has a background that should shield her from such nonsense: top of her class at Princeton, Yale Law School (editor of the Yale Law Journal), successful big-city prosecutor, corporate litigator, trial judge, district court judge, appeals court judge. She's earned the respect and admiration of her clerks, colleagues, and the lawyers who've argued before her. Sotomayor's intellect is not in doubt.
And yet, it's the issue some of the far-right's leading activists have decided to hang their hat on.

This morning on Fox News, Karl Rove questioned whether she was smart enough to be on the Supreme Court. "I'm not really certain how intellectually strong she would be, she has not been very strong on the second circuit," he said. Citing Rosen, Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes said that Sotomayor was "not the smartest."

This is, alas, not new. Two of the guys on the National Review's crew said Sotomayor is "dumb." In a now-infamous piece, Jeffrey Rosen quoted unnamed sources arguing that the judge is "not that smart." This morning, Curt Levey, executive director of the right-wing Committee for Justice, said Harriet Miers was an "intellectual lightweight" -- and Sotomayor is like Miers.

Because, you know, brown people can't be smart. Even if they're brilliant:

Coming from a housing project in the Bronx, Sotomayor ended up graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton. She also was a co-recipient of the M. Taylor Pyne Prize, the highest honor Princeton awards to an undergraduate. Sotomayor then went to Yale Law School, where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal and managing editor of the Yale Studies in World Public Order. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) said on Fox News this morning that of all the nominees, Sotomayor “brings the most in terms of judicial experience — in terms of serving on a federal court — in 100 years.”

SCOTUS Blog has pointed out that women and minority candidates for the Supreme Court are often portrayed as not being smart enough for the job. As Matt Yglesias has also written, underscoring this point, “I recall a lot of issues being raised during the Samuel Alito confirmation fight, but at that time I don’t remember anyone raising questions about the intelligence of a Princeton/Yale Law graduate who’d done time on an Appeals Court.”

Their bias may or may not be unconscious, but it extends even into refusing to pay her the simple courtesy of calling her judge:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has some thoughts on Sotomayor, too. "Of primary importance," he says, "we must determine if Ms. Sotomayor understands that the proper role of a judge is to act as a neutral umpire of the law, calling balls and strikes fairly without regard to one's own personal preferences or political views." [emphasis added]


Just as a point of reference, when Roberts and Alito were under consideration in the Senate, Sessions took care to refer to both men as judges in his press releases.

I do believe they need to be taking the advice of some rather high-ranking Republicans and knocking the sexist, racist bullshit off before it explodes in their faces. It's not likely to sit well with the broader public. Happily for those of us who enjoy watching GOP train wrecks, wiser heads aren't likely to prevail.

The idiocy continues with Rush Limbaugh, who added Sotomayor to his list of people he most wants to see fail:
Reacting to Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court today, conservative talker Rush Limbaugh called Sotomayor a “horrible pick,” said that Republicans should “go to the mat” in their efforts to oppose her confirmation in the Senate, and — echoing his hopes for Obama’s failure — declared that he wanted Sotomayor to “fail”:
LIMBAUGH: Do I want her to fail? Yeah. Do I want her to fail to get on the court? Yes! She’d be a disaster on the court.

He then reiterated his hopes for Obama's failure. Same ol' fatuous gasbag.

But I think the most amusing thing to come out of this nomination is Norm Coleman's idea that he's still relevant in any way:
Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) has released a statement on the Sotomayor nomination, promising to make a thorough review of her record -- as soon as he's re-elected:

ST. PAUL - Senator Norm Coleman today released the following statement in response to President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

"When debating judges, I was firm that I would use the same standard to evaluate judges under a Democrat President as I would a Republican President. Are they intellectually competent, do they have a record of integrity, and most importantly, are they committed to following the Constitution rather than creating new law and policy. When I am re-elected, I intend to review Judge Sotomayor's record using this process. Certainly, the nomination of a Hispanic woman to the nation's highest court is something all American's should applaud."

Isn't that adorable? He sounds just like he doesn't realize the election already happened and he lost.

Interesting fantasy world the Cons inhabit. It'll be adorable to watch them suffer apoplexy when Judge Sotomayor's confirmed.

Memorial Day Roundup

A lot of bloggers had good Memorial Day posts up today. Just in case you missed them, here they are.

Think Progress has stats showing that America's failing her vets.

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars reminds us: For Every Death, A Hole in the World

DarkSyde at Daily Kos takes us Beyond Memorial Day, and reminds us that there are all too many veterans we're forgetting.

And Digby celebrates the moral Heroes, who deserve just as much praise as the physical variety.

We may not always support the war these men and women are sent to fight. But we will always support them.

Seriously? This is The Case Against Gay Marriage?

Isaac Chotiner at TNR's The Plank tears apart an article arguing against gay marriage that is so egregiously stupid, so delusional, and so incoherent that one would be tempted to believe we've been Poe'd. Alas, that is not the case. Sam Schulman appears to believe his own schlock.

A sampling:

As part of the "kinship system," marriage has, according to Schulman, four effects. The first is too poorly presented to be summarized coherently or cogently. The second has to do with, yes, incest:

Incest prohibition and other kinship rules that dictate one's few permissible and many impermissible sweethearts are part of traditional marriage. Gay marriage is blissfully free of these constraints. There is no particular reason to ban sexual intercourse between brothers, a father and a son of consenting age, or mother and daughter...A same-sex marriage fails utterly to create forbidden relationships.


Uh huh. Schulman goes on to fret about children losing their "status as nonsexual beings" once all the gays are allowed to marry. He also informs the reader that he has been married three times.
Shortly thereafter, Isaac unloads with both barrels. This is all to the good. It gives me time to look up a good therapist for poor Schulman. He desperately needs one.

(Tip o' the shot glass to Steve Benen. Sorry it's empty, Steve - I spilled it when I read the article.)

Look! Up in the Sky! Is That a Pale Horse?

Because I swear to fuck it's Armageddon. I mean, we've got Helene Cooper blathering senselessly in the New York Times, comparing Obama to Bush, trying to claim Obama's knocking down straw men, and offering this as her proof:

“There are those who say these plans are too ambitious, that we should be trying to do less, not more,” Mr. Obama told a town-hall-style meeting in Costa Mesa, Calif., on March 18. “Well, I say our challenges are too large to ignore.”

Mr. Obama did not specify who, exactly, was saying America should ignore its challenges.

I mean, really? This is an example of the commanding political intellect and keen powers of observation at work at the NYT? Every right wing knock on Obama for the first hundred days always insinuated "he's doing too much." I find 37,000 examples in one quick search. (Publius has a fine collection, too.)

But that's not what's got us in pale horse territory. This does:

And it's not like this was some selective observation of the left. Here's Rammesh Ponurru at The Corner:

I suspect that I will not have many opportunities to defend President Obama from New York Times reporters, so I will seize this one. The related notions that Obama has too much on his plate, that he is overloading the political system, and that he is spending too little time on the economy and too much on health and the environment are staples of centrist and center-right commentary about the president, and have been for months.


When someone at the fucking Corner is defending Obama, you know a hole's just been ripped in the space-time continuum. I hope Helene's happy. Her lazy, ignorant, flat-out wrong reporting might very well have just brought on the Apocalypse.

25 May, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Well, my darlings, 'tis the last day of ye olde holiday weekend. I hope you're coming back rested, refreshed, and ready for the onslaught of the burning stupid.

That said, it's time to introduce you to the new savior of the Republican party:
Let's see, Liz Cheney practically lives on cable news. She also lies routinely, accuses the president of helping terrorists, and is so mindless in her attacks on the nation's elected leadership, she's something of a national embarrassment.

And for Republican recruiters, apparently she's perfect.

The hottest Republican property out there isn't former Vice President Dick Cheney but his daughter Liz, who has taken to the airwaves to defend her dad and the whole Bush administration on national security and Guantánamo Bay issues. Liz Cheney, who followed the former veep's hard-hitting speech criticizing President Obama's policies with a CNN appearance, is becoming so popular in conservative circles that some want her to run for office. "She's awesome. Everyone wants her to run," said a close friend.


A forceful defender of the administration and her dad, Liz Cheney has been appearing on TV with greater regularity. She brings to the screen a combination of her dad's steely focus and her mom's softer touch. "It's a two-fer. She comes off a bit better than he does sometimes," a conservative consultant said.


I can't help but find all of this rather ridiculous. For one thing, Liz Cheney's penchant for dishonesty rivals that of her father's. For another, the "Cheney" name is not exactly a strong political "brand" right now.

I think I just did myself an injury. Gales of laughter are a tougher workout than you might think.

But Liz Cheney's not the GOP's only hope for salvation. They may also turn to a Newt:

Unctuous doesn't begin to describe Newt Gingrich's "serious look" at a 2012 presidential run.

Isn't that a fine "how do you do" to return to from a nice vacation:

The Republican defeats in the last two election cycles have presented an opportunity for Gingrich to return to prominence, noted more than one Republican strategist.

"Since Republicans don't hold power, there's a void of leadership," said Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist. "And Newt Gingrich is trying to take advantage of this opportunity as much as possible and try to assert himself as one of the leading voices of the Republican Party."

...That could include, the strategist said, the possibility running for president in 2012.

I don't care what sort of convenient "wipe myself clean with the spirit of the Lord" conversion Newt Gingrich claims to have made just before the next election cycle.

There is no stain remover strong enough to get rid of his self-inflicted pit stains. None.

I'm sorry. You're right. I should've told you to have a barf bag handy.

They also seem to be working on their winning strategy for 2010 and 2012, which consists entirely of trying to scare us shitless. LithiumCola at Daily Kos has a possible explanation for that:

We can see some of what is going on here, I think, by taking a look at the Pew report on "Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2009":

The proportion of independents now equals its highest level in 70 years. Owing to defections from the Republican Party, independents are more conservative on several key issues than in the past. While they like and approve of Barack Obama, as a group independents are more skittish than they were two years ago about expanding the social safety net and are reluctant backers of greater government involvement in the private sector. Yet at the same time, they continue to more closely parallel the views of Democrats rather than Republicans on the most divisive core beliefs on social values, religion and national security.

There are many more independents than Republicans, right now; but more independents than usual are leaning right in every area other than national security. That is to say, the weirdness gets deeper: if Republicans want to win back some of these independents they are decidedly not going with their best play. They should be going with the economy; they are going with war. This is puzzling, but it seems to me that it admits of an obvious, if troubling, interpretation.

Perhaps the Republican strategy is not to win over these burgeoning independents by enlarging the Republican tent, but rather to scare them into voting R even if they remain too disgusted with the GOP to actually join the party. The Republican party, with a strategy so understood, need take no heed of moderation or of ordinary political practice at all.

Considering the other two issues they and Independents diverge on - social values and religion - I can see why they're going for the pants-pissing terror option. If they're successful, they get to pander to their base and win Independents. The strategy often worked for them in the past.

At this time, I would like to refer them to the story of the boy who cried wolf. That is, if the lessons contained within fairy tales aren't too complicated for them to comprehend. I fear they might be.

Rounding out our firmament of GOP shining stars, I present you one of the only people in the Known Universe who liked Michael Steele's "change in a teabag" speech. Ladies and gentlemen, Sarah Palin:

Although Michael Steele's "Change in a teabag" speech (highlights) was widely mocked for its signature line ("change is being delivered in a teabag, and that's a wonderful thing"), Sarah Palin is now saying it was absolutely fabulous.

Politico's Andy Barr reports:

GOP Gov. Sarah Palin weighed in with a statement from Alaska.

"Today, we have a friend in RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and his bold and courageous speech defines his leadership goals that will guide us all through this most difficult time for our nation."

And that's probably all we ever need know about Sarah Palin's judgement. Well, lack thereof.

As far as guides through the political wilderness the Cons have found themselves in, I think they'd have been better off with a Garmin.

Let's take a brief detour to catch up with the "Nancy Pelosi's mean to the CIA. Oh, and she lies, too!1!!11!" crowd. How's that storyline working out for them? Oh, dear:

GOP Senator Richard Shelby appears to have botched a key fact about the CIA torture briefing he received in September 2002, claiming that he was in such a briefing along with Nancy Pelosi, Porter Goss, and Bob Graham.

In fact, the CIA briefing docs show that he was only briefed with Graham, while Pelosi and Goss had been briefed earlier that month.

Shelby is the only Congressional official briefed on interrogations who has been willing to say explicitly that he’d been told torture and waterboarding had been used. So anything that raises questions about the accuracy of his memory on this is key.

On a scale of believability, we can travel a pretty steep line from credible (Bob Graham) through fairly credible (Pelosi), down toward take-with-a-kilogram-sized-salt-grain (Goss) and bottoming out towards you've-got-to-be-fucking-kidding-me territory (the CIA). Shelby and the rest of the Cons fall somewhere below that, in territory the graph is unable to measure.

Still, he didn't quite make asshole of the day:

To the surprise of well, no one, the conservatives of the Senate have announced their standards for a good Supreme Court Justice:

Sen. Jon Kyl made clear he would use the procedural delay if Obama follows through on his pledge to nominate someone who takes into account human suffering and employs empathy from the bench.

Boy I sure hope Obama asked potential nominees which they enjoyed more, drowning kittens or puppies? Kyl is going to want to know.

Have I told you lately just how happy I am these fucktards are no longer in charge?