:: Skeptical Notion

A blog about politics, news, science and whatever else strikes my fancy. -- A member of the Reality-based Commmunity.
:: Welcome to Skeptical Notion :: bloghome | contact | Syndicate this site (XML RSS) | Skeptical Notion is proud to be an ePatriot. Donate to the DNC today!
[::..Donate..::]
DNC
Skeptical Notion Tip Jar
[::..Archive..::]
Archives
[::..Favorite Blogs..::]
Talking Points Memo
Daily Kos
Hit and Run
Tapped
Eschaton
Political Animal
Thinking It Through
Counterspin Central
The Agonist
Tacitus
OxBlog
The Volokh Conspiracy
The Whiskey Bar
Shadow of the Hegemon
Angry Bear
Paul Krugman's Home Page
Hullabaloo
Debitage
The Left Coaster
Byzantium Shores
Pharyngula
Uncertain Principles
Planet Swank
The Notion
Fester's Place
Opinions You Should Have
Smijer
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
The Panda's Thumb
Bob Harris
Driftglass
[::..Other Blogs..::]
American Leftist
Intl
[::..Fun Sites..::]
The Onion
The Brunching Shuttlecocks
Something Positive
Penny Arcade

:: Friday, August 08, 2003 ::

Brent Bozell, Straight Bashing Victim

Brent Bozell: 'Queer eye' for the straight girl:
But the first blooming flower of this cultural revolution was 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,' which premiered on Tuesday, July 15, to record numbers for Bravo. Their ratings at that hour rose from No. 38 to No. 2. Bravo quickly planned a rerun for Thursday to build viewership.
The premise of the show is for a 'Fab Five' of gay men to 'transform a style-deficient and culture-deprived straight man from drab to fab' in each of their respective categories: fashion, food and wine, interior design, grooming and culture. Bravo's publicity copy also explained: 'Straight guys turn in their pleats for flat fronts, learn about wines that don't come in a jug and come to understand why hand soap is not a good shampoo (and vice versa). When the journey is done, a freshly scrubbed, newly enlightened, ultra-hip man emerges.'
And I want to vomit.
Tom Shales of The Washington Post objected to the 'stereotypes on parade' in this series, and I agree. It's stereotypical to think of only gay men as top-notch connoisseurs of food, wine, culture, design and grooming. How heterophobic. It's the Gay Supremacy Hour. I'm sure I'm not the only one who reads Bravo's ad copy and wonders if we're talking hate crimes here. Ever seen a show more dedicated to a 'straight-bashing' proposition?
On first reading, I was literally speechless. Was this parody? Irony? Some quirky form of humor unique to this Bozell fellow?

And then it struck me: This man is actually serious. He literally believes this. He's serious. And it gets better as you go along.

I read something like this and I can't help but wonder if there's something to all that pop psychology about gay-bashing and homophobia being rooted in something a bit more complex than "fear of the other".

He wants to vomit? What is he? Five? "Oh no! The naughty gay man wants me to clean my house so that my girlfriend will say "Yes" when I ask her to move in!". Yeah, that's a hate crime. I mean, only people motivated by sheer hate for heterosexuals would spend so much money and time helping one man propose to his girlfriend, or help another give a "perfect birthday party" to his wife....

Because helping straight people is what straight-bashers do, right?

For the record, I've seen Queer Eye. It's a great show. Bozell's idiocy aside, it's really nothing more than a variation on Trading Spaces or What Not to Wear. I happen to like it a lot more than either of those shows for the simple reason that the 'Fab Five' place a lot of emphasis on making changes the subject wants...and would keep up. That means picking clothes the man will actually wear, changing room decor in ways the man will actually like, etc.

Judging from the shows I've seen, the "straight guys" seem genuinely happy with the help they've gotten, their wives/girlfriends seem to be thrilled at the changes, and everyone comes away damn happy.

Why people being happy makes Bozell want to vomit is beyond me.
:: Morat 12:00 PM :: ::

Politics & Science

Politics & Science:
The American people depend upon federal agencies to develop science-based policies that protect the nation’s health and welfare. Recently, however, leading scientific journals have begun to question whether scientific integrity at federal agencies has been sacrificed to further a political and ideological agenda.
At the request of Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the minority staff of the Government Reform Committee assessed the treatment of science and scientists by the Bush Administration.
The report Politics and Science in the Bush Administration (.pdf) finds numerous instances where the Administration has manipulated the scientific process and distorted or suppressed scientific findings. Beneficiaries include important supporters of the President, including social conservatives and powerful industry groups.
Juicy stuff. But very little of it will come as a surprise to anyone paying attention.

Everyone knows the White House has been leaning on federal agencies to skew science to support policy. Did anyone expect anything different?

If there's anything the last three years have shown us about the Bush administration is that ideology trumps reality. Every time. (Link via Altercation)
:: Morat 11:44 AM :: ::

Bush Team Kept Airing Iraq Allegation

Bush Team Kept Airing Iraq Allegation:
Since last month, presidential aides have said a questionable allegation, that Iraq had tried to buy African uranium for nuclear weapons, made it into President Bush's State of the Union address because of miscommunication between the CIA and Bush's staff.

But by the time the president gave the speech, on Jan. 28, that same allegation was already part of an administration campaign to win domestic and international support for invading Iraq. In January alone, it was included in two official documents sent out by the White House and in speeches and writings by the president's four most senior national security officials.
Goodness. That uranium claim is the gift that just keeps on giving. Bush and Co just couldn't resist gilding the lily. They were so certain about Iraq that they were willing to ignore or distort data, supremely confidant that their theories would be borne out in the end.

In all honesty, I've been expecting something like this since the day Bush took office. It was predictable that, sooner or later, the very fanaticism and righteous ideology that permeate this Administration was going to bite them.

Politics is, to a very large degree, simple pragmatism and popularity. And the two are heavily intertwined. Popularity gets you elected, but pragmatism keeps you in office. You've got to have some positive results if you want to keep your popularity and get re-elected. Which means you've got to be willing to put aside ideology and dump programs and ideas that simply don't work.

Style will only get you so far. Sooner or later, you have to show results.

The problem with Bush is that he, and those he has surrounded himself with, aren't the sort to ever admit error. These are the sorts of people that throw out data, not theories. And, in the long run, people too fanatical or self-righteous to bend to the dictates of reality simply don't last long in politics. Sooner or later the disconnect between their rigid ideology and reality becomes too much to overlook.
:: Morat 10:37 AM :: ::

Fanatical Apathy: I'm Pretty! I'm Pretty!

And this is why I love Adam Felber:
Naturally, this accusation of being 'feminized' and 'girly' carries with it the implication of homosexuality, at least in the World of Freep. But these are Freepers we're talking about, so if you read the comments in that discussion over there, you'll see that this implication is manifested in subtle statements like, 'I think they're all totally gay.' If there were a God of Nuance, he would surely smite the Freepers with his mighty backhand. [Of course, I suppose a blow from the God of Nuance would inevitably sail right over the Freepers' heads. Also, I'd imagine that his name is really hard to pronounce and you can never get good directions to his temples. All-in-all, not a terrific god to hitch your wagon to. But I digress...]
In a totally straight, masculine way, of course.
:: Morat 10:16 AM :: ::

Books and Bulk Orders

Sindey versus Ann:
In a quick smack-down, Sidney Blumenthal has flattened Ann 'Thrax' Coulter over her phony best-seller, Treason.

In case you haven't noticed, Coulter’s book stands alone on the New York Times Best Seller List with a dagger next to its title – signifying bulk purchases.

It’s been that way with all of the right-wing alleged best-sellers from Whacko Regnery (Thrax's former publisher) to Crown Books, a division of Random House, whose 'Crown Forum' is the current shame of publisher's row.

Each and every one of them – Limbaugh, Gary Aldrich, you name it – lands on the list because right-wing angels buy up huge numbers of copies in bulk. What they do with the books – hand ‘em out to ditto-heads, salt 'em away in warehouses – is anybody’s guess. Just as long as it keeps up the appearance that demented lunatics like Coulter have a huge popular following out there that buys books.

At long last, someone has exposed this racket – who else but the intrepid Sidney Blumenthal?

'What I think the key question is for Ann Coulter and all these other right-wing writers is, why is there a dagger in the New York Times best-seller list next to their books?' Blumenthal recently told the New York Observer.

'That means that someone is buying their book in bulk to put them on the best-seller list. These are bogus best-sellers,' Blumenthal said. 'I want to know why [Ms. Coulter] won't come clean and explain which rich right-wing sugar daddies are putting her on the best-seller list.'
You learn something every day. I never bothered to check what that little '+' symbol meant. I find it terribly amusing that the right-wing is copying Scientology's methods here. I doubt anyone is fooled by Dianetics sales figures.

And, for the record, I agree with MWO on Ann's explanation. It's not terribly believable.
:: Morat 10:10 AM :: ::

Halliburton Rising

Rivals Say Halliburton Dominates Iraq Oil Work:
The Bechtel Group, one of the world's biggest engineering and construction companies, has dropped out of the running for a contract to rebuild the Iraqi oil industry, as other competitors have begun to conclude that the bidding process favors the one company already working in Iraq, Halliburton.
Who would have thought that, under the most ethical Administration in history (George Bush himself said so), that such a thing could even happen?
:: Morat 10:04 AM :: ::

Bad News on the Polling Front

Tom Spencer points out the latest Pew Report:
As President Bush shows increasing political vulnerability, the Democratic presidential field is beginning to come into focus. Bush's overall approval rating has declined to pre-Iraq war levels and his lead in a match-up with a hypothetical Democrat has narrowed to five points (43%-38%). Nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) now say the economy - not terrorism - is the more important presidential priority. At the same time, Democratic candidates have made modest gains in visibility, and potential support, since early-July.
It starts out looking bad for Bush and gets worse from there. Pessimism about the war and the occupation in Iraq is increasing, the economy has passed terrorism to become the number one concern in America, and the public seems to support repealing the tax cuts over massive deficit spending.

It's ironic, really. Bush put all that effort into not repeating his father's mistakes....and yet here he is, facing "It's the Economy, Stupid". Why? Because he not only repeated his father's mistake, he compounded it.

Bush the Elder appeared unconcerned with the economy. Voters felt he wasn't "doing enough". Bush the Younger is unconcerned with the economy. He hasn't done anything to help it. He can act as involved as he wants, make as many speeches as he wants, but the truth is simple and undeniable: Bush's only concern was passing his tax cuts. He didn't care about ending recession, or strong recovery, or the plight of the common man.

He cared about choking off government revenue by slashing taxes as deeply as possible. And I think, as this lousy economy drags on, that the average voter is quite aware of that fact.
:: Morat 9:53 AM :: ::

DNC Button

I've had to remove the DNC button for the time being (although I still have an active link). That button appears to be the source of my roving browser problem. For some reason, on loading the page, my browser hangs on loading that button...and never seems to fully recover after that.
:: Morat 9:28 AM :: ::

Iraq Arms Critic Reacts to Report on Wife

Wow. The New York Times finally noticed the whole Valerie Plame issue. Iraq Arms Critic Reacts to Report on Wife
But it was not until after Mr. Wilson made his account public last month in an op-ed article in The New York Times, to the intense discomfort of President Bush's aides, that the White House acknowledged that it had erred in including the disputed accusations in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address in January.
Days after the column, another chapter opened. Mr. Wilson's wife was identified by name as a covert C.I.A. operative in a column by the conservative columnist Robert Novak, a disclosure that Mr. Novak has attributed to senior administration officials.
Officials are barred by law from disclosing the identities of Americans who work undercover for the C.I.A. That provision is intended to protect the security of operatives whose lives might be jeopardized if their identities are known.
Among those who have cried foul are several Democratic senators, including Charles E. Schumer of New York, who have said that if the accusation is true and if senior administration officials were its source, law enforcement authorities should seek to identify the officials who appeared to have violated the law. Mr. Schumer has asked Robert S. Mueller III, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to look into the case.
They're only two or three weeks behind. Still, better late then never...
:: Morat 9:22 AM :: ::

Tipping points

Daily Kos posts
CENTCOM has announced the death today of yet another servicemember in Iraq, this one a soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division.
It's an unexeceptional death, as far as these things have gone. The media will likely ignore it, as it's wont to do these days.
But the killing is significant. We have now officially lost more people after Bush's 'mission accomplished' speech than before. The total is now 257 Americans lost, and 301 if you include the Brits.
I wonder if this will be the much anticipated tipping point? I know the conventional wisdom, at least before the Uranium issue, was that the hard questions about the Iraq occupation wouldn't make the news until the occupation had claimed more lives than the war.

Well, by at least one count, we're there. Can we finally have an honest (if terribly moot) debate on the costs and benefits of a long-term occupation of Iraq?

Admittedly, there's no getting out of it now, but at least we can be honest about what we're facing.

UPDATE: Wrong date. The numbers match the statue incident, not the carrier landing. At the current rate, we'll reach the "more deaths in the occupation than the war" point somewhere near the end of the month.
:: Morat 8:45 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, August 07, 2003 ::

Another bloody day in Iraq

Jordan's Iraq embassy attacked
At least 11 people have been killed by a truck bomb outside the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad.
Some of those killed are thought to have been in cars parked close to the embassy.
The Jordanian Information Minister, Nabil al-Sharif, called the attack - in which the bomb appears to have been concealed inside a minibus or sports utility vehicle - a 'cowardly terrorist' act.
In a separate incident on Thursday an American forces Humvee vehicle was blown up by what was reported to be a rocket-propelled grenade.
A firefight broke out between US troops and unknown attackers and one injured American soldier was seen being carried from the scene.
On Wednesday two American soldiers died in a firefight in the al-Rashid district of Baghdad.
Just a note: I don't think "renegade Ba'athists" would be car bombing the Jordan embassy.

I can think of a couple of groups who would, starting with "your average Iraqi who hates Saddam just a bit more than he hates the Americans" and moving forward to Chalabi and Co.

Still, this doesn't bode well. More American deaths, more RPG attacks, and now car bombs. I wish I saw a light at the end of this tunnel.

In other news, I'm betting Bush is really regretting the "Mission Accomplished" banner. Everyone knew he was making a campaign ad with that carrier stunt, but I don't think many people were expecting he was making an ad for the Democrats.

:: Morat 12:59 PM :: ::

The Democrats and Dean

The more I watch Dean, Dean's netroots, and the whole Dean phenomenon, the more obvious it becomes that Dean will be on the ticket (barring some weird meltdown. Always a possibility).

Whomever wins the primary (assuming it's not Dean) would almost certainly try to tap Dean for the VP slot. I think the temptation to ask Clark would be strong, but ultimately it'd end up Dean as the VP and Clark as a shoo-in for a Cabinet slot, simply because I don't think a Dean endorsement is sufficient to get his network behind another candidate, but Dean on the ticket is.

Dean's activist network is simply too big a prize, and the general concerns about Dean's electability (ones I don't really share) don't hold much water if Dean's the VP.

:: Morat 12:44 PM :: ::

Arnold and California

Well, the Terminator is in the race. According to quite a few sources, Arnold has spent the last few decades (quite successfully) suing any tabloid or news agency that even thought about printing anything negative about him.

Now that he's running for Governor, he's a public figure. So, if it's true he's been using lawyers to squash the usual tabloid dirt, that means that two decades of negative stories are now "fair game" and lawsuit-proof.

I wonder, exactly, what they're sitting on.
:: Morat 12:18 PM :: ::

ARRGGH!

Allright. I'd personally like to get back to the topics I want to write about. Politics, religion, science. The topics usually banned in polite company. After all, no sense starting a screaming argument about the latest Farm bill at a cocktail party. It tends to ruin the atmosphere.

However, lately, life has been intruding. My wife (as I've noted) still doesn't have a teaching position, despite being pretty qualified. My AC had decided to break. And now, to top it off, my car is occasionally vomiting a few cups of radiator fluid.

Luckily, it's not a broken hose or a cracked radiator. I'm not sure what it is, and I don't really care, because whatever it is...it doesn't need to be fixed yet. The car isn't overheating. I'm not losing fluid constantly, just occasionally. I'm just keeping an eye on the temperature gauge and the idiot lights.

In the meantime, anyone know of any openings for a 4-8 Generalist in the Houston area?
:: Morat 11:45 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, August 06, 2003 ::

Teaching in Texas

Well, darnit...no job for the wife yet. You'd think it'd be easier to find a job for a 4-8 Generalist in Texas, especially one with as heavy a math background as she has.

Nonetheless, no luck yet. Hopefully soon, though. I know the uncertainity is getting to her too.
:: Morat 2:55 PM :: ::

Storming Liberia

Seven-Member Marine Team Lands in Liberia
Authorized by President Bush on Tuesday, the team could grow as large as 20 in coming days but is not the beginning of a larger deployment, said a senior Bush administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity
We landed seven marines. Seven marines. We might even have twenty there at one point.

That'll fix it. Because each American soldiers is as strong as thousands of Liberian militia because our hearts are pure and...

Does Bush think the Marines have giant fighting robots are something? Because unless they've got Voltron with them, seven marines aren't going to do squat.

Which I'm sure he knows. But seven marines? That doesn't even count as a "token gesture".
:: Morat 10:26 AM :: ::

Blog issues

I'm having some weird issues with my blog right now. Specifically, half the time I load my blog it seems to screw up IE, and it just...hangs...loading images. Once it happens, any site I move to from there won't load images either. Anyone have any idea what's causing that?
:: Morat 9:48 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, August 05, 2003 ::

When Theocrats Go Bad

I saw this on Eschaton: Attack on Judges
BURIED DEEP IN the appropriations legislation the House passed for the departments of Commerce, Justice and State is a little-noticed pair of amendments that attack the independence of federal judges. The amendments, offered on the House floor by Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.), are designed, as Mr. Hostettler put it, to 'block federal funds from being used to enforce court decisions that found the use of 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional and ordered the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse.'
Even if this survived the Senate, it wouldn't survive the courts. I can think of one Constitutional snag, and I bet real Constitutional Scholars could find several more...

Frankly, don't these idiots have anything better to do? Like maybe dealing with a 450 billion dollar deficit, a lying President, and a guerilla war in Iraq?
:: Morat 9:37 AM :: ::

Is this a bomb threat?

Browsing at Through the Looking Glass, I came across this story: Teen arrested at Logan for alleged bomb threat in his bag
Paxton teenager was arraigned on a felony charge yesterday morning after he and his family were removed from a plane bound for Hawaii following the discovery of a profanity-filled note referencing a bomb in his luggage examined at Logan International Airport.
...
According to the police report, the note, which was placed on top of clothes in a black gym bag read: ''[Expletive] you. Stay the [expletive] out of my bag you [expletive] sucker. Have you found a [expletive] bomb yet? No, just clothes. Am I right? Yea, so [expletive] you."
Now, mind you, I'm all for prosecuting bomb threats. People making bomb threats waste time, resources, and personnel chasing ghosts when they could be providing security...and maybe dealing with real bombs.

But in what alternate dimension is this a bomb threat? Here's a hint to all cops, security guards, airport screeners and even passengers. Uttering the word "bomb" is not illegal, nor is it a threat. While possibly not the brightest thing this kid will ever do, what he did is in no way a crime. And pretending he made a "bomb threat" makes you look like idiots..

:: Morat 9:12 AM :: ::

[::..Current Reading..::]
cover
Recent Reading
Book Recommendations
[::..Wish List..::]
Skeptical Notion Wish List
[::..Book Posts..::]
Children's Fantasy
Fat Fantasy
Odds and Ends
Standalone Fantasy
[::..BlogAds..::]
[::..Everything Else..::]
Powered by Blogger Pro™ Listed on BlogShares Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com