Stupid Criminal of the Day

This guy gives us the rare two-fer. First, he calls 911 asking for a police escort so he can get to the Lil Wayne concert in Miami faster, after which he is arrested for misusing 911. But this is even better.

The best part is that Kruse had nearly been charged with misusing 911 less than 24 hours earlier, after he called the emergency number to say he was feeling sick.

During that call, the dispatcher began to suspect Kruse was high on something after his speech was slurred.

"Are you sure you haven't taken something sir?" the dispatcher asks. "Because you're not making a whole lot of sense."

"I've been smoking marijuana," Kruse tells the dispatcher.

"Do you want a deputy to come and take you to jail?" the dispatcher offers.

"Why?" says Kruse.

"You just told me on a taped line you just got done smoking marijuana," the dispatcher says.

"Awww. Are you serious?" Kruse asks.
That is just awesome.

Make it stop, please

I don't know why I do it to myself--I see a link with a stupid question and I can't help it. I click. Then I get pissed, usually at myself for clicking, sometimes at whoever posted the story. And then sometimes I blog about it.

The question that got me this time was Does flirting on Facebook count as cheating?" There's a very simple answer to this--it depends on how your partner feels about it. If your partner is cool with it, or even does it, then no, it's not cheating. If your partner doesn't like it, then it is. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question.

But that's not the real point of the article. It seems the main point of the article is to point out that men are all scurrilous dogs and that women on Facebook are all whores out to steal your man away from you, and most importantly, how you can defend against it. In fact, the end of the article has a heading titled "How to cope if your guy..." and then presents four different scenarios. It bugs me because it plays into so many stereotypes--the desperate clingy woman who snoops on her man to keep him close; the sneaky man who's looking for any opportunity to cheat; the ex who's always a whore looking to lure her man back into her clutches. And it's presented in such a simple-minded way--with an attempt to draw bright-lines for what's acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Look, relationships are unique--you've got two (or more in some cases) individuals, each with their own personalities, trying to negotiate their way around each other, the world they live in, the social pressures of extended family, separate upbringings, disparate habits, taboos, religious belief (or lack thereof), and an array of other issues. Every combination of people comes with its own set of negotiations, and while there will undoubtedly be some broad areas of agreement, in others, it will really depend on the people involved in the relationship.

It seems to me that in any situation like this, if you have to ask the question (is this cheating), you probably know, subconsciously at least, that your partner won't like what you're doing and at the very least you ought to broach the subject. And if your partner gets upset, don't get defensive about it. Go into it acknowledging that your partner probably won't like what you're suggesting--then, if he or she doesn't care, you're pleasantly surprised. And most importantly, realize that whatever you're asking about you're also letting your partner know that you're cool with it. Don't have one set of standards for yourself and another for your partner.

I don't think these ideas are anything extraordinary. It's Empathy 101, treat others as you would be treated, Hippie Jesus stuff. Easier in theory than in practice, to be sure, but so are relationships.

Awkward Family Photos

I couldn't get Awkward Family Photos' image uploader to work on my computer for some reason, so I'm posting the photo I was going to submit to them here instead.

So what do you think? "Guess Who's Expecting"? "Three Men and a Baby (on the way)"? Leave other caption ideas in the comments.

Okay, okay, I know. This is south Florida, and we rival NASCAR for what's considered safe following distance, but trust me, if you see someone sporting a homemade license plate, you probably want to ease off a bit. And don't touch the horn.

The homemade license plate is a favorite ploy of garden-variety tax evaders — like the Washitaw Nation — seeking to make a quick buck by getting “registry fees” from slightly more gullible tax-evaders. We won’t bother to ask why folks who don’t recognize government authority need a license plate in the first place, let alone why they’d set up a bureaucracy to extort fees from their fellow (free) man.

While the plates may seem comical to casual observers, for law enforcement, they’re a warning sign.

Back in the late ’90s, when the militia movement was in full swing, Militia Watchdog founder Mark Pitcavage warned police who pulled over cars with homemade plates that the driver may view them as a “symbol of all the perceived oppression and tyranny” they have encountered.”The officer now represents virtually all of ‘Government’,” he wrote.

One of the folks who got pulled over back then was Scott Roeder, now accused in the shooting death of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. McClatchy reports he was stopped in 1996 for driving a car with plates reading “Sovereign private property. Immunity declared by law. Non-commercial American.”
I could turn this post into a snark fest about how the contradictions the Wired author above pointed out are legion in this movement, but hey, these people are also often armed and crazy, and I
think I'll just give them a wide berth instead.

Summer TV Rocks

When I was a kid, summer tv blew. Primetime was all reruns, and daytime was all soaps, at least once The Price Is Right was over. Mind you, I grew up in a largely pre-cable age, so I rarely had many options.

But now, there's actually good stuff on summer tv, and two of my favorite shows are restarting in the next month. Here's the season one recap of one of them, thanks to Kung Fu Monkey.

Leverage. I can't freaking wait.

Finding a pizza in Fort Lauderdale with good toppings isn't difficult, and that shouldn't be surprising--good toppings are easy. Just use quality ingredients and use them in good measure. The tricky thing with any pizza is the crust, finding that balance between crunchy and chewy, especially when it comes to leftovers--a good crust holds up to the ingredients. It's the crust that sets Franco & Vinny's apart from other pizza places in Fort Lauderdale.

The restaurant itself is old-Florida decor, located on Sunrise Blvd. just west of A1A, and the beer selection is poor, but that's okay, because the wine is fine. It's available by the glass, the bottle, the carafe and half-carafe, and the house wine is good for the price. The dinners are all tasty, but the real draw is the pizza, and you have to go there to get it because there's no delivery (which is a good thing, because I might eat it every week otherwise). The crust is the best I've found in south Florida, which I realize isn't a tough bar to clear, but you take on the competition you have, and Franco & Vinny's beats the local competition.

What took them so long?

I'm torn about this--I can't decide whether I want the person running this scam caught and punished or if I want a bunch of birthers to lose their shorts bidding on this.

I took a screen shot because I can't imagine that Ebay will allow the auction to continue for too long, but there it is--an auction with a starting bid of a grand for the Kenyan birth certificate of Barack Obama, complete with a story beneath that reads like something out of a mid-80s movie starring Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas.

Trying to lighten the mood

Lots of drama in the world right now, and lots of bloggers talking about it, so instead of joining in on it, I'm going to give you stoned wallabies.

"The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," Lara Giddings told the hearing.

"Then they crash," she added. "We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high."
Sheep apparently do the same thing when they get into the fields, though presumably with less bounce and therefore less opportunity for hilarity. Too bad the BBC didn't include video with this story. I could do with some crop-circle-creating-wallaby action right about now.

On Assvertising

As part of her "Assvertising" series, Melissa McEwan passes along this gem from Burger King.

Melissa has this to say:

It's hard to identify what the best part of this ad is. The appalling lack of subtlety (OPEN MOUTH: INSERT MEAT: HAR HAR!)? The globby mayonnaise suggesting cum? The human woman made up and posed to maximize a resemblance to a blow-up doll? Christ. What a clusterfucktastrophe.
Which is all absolutely correct. I'd just like to point out one other problem with the concept of the ad, and why I think it's going to fail.

Now, it seems pretty clear that the intent of the ad is to put a guy's waist in that dark area on the left side of the ad, but think for a second who this meal is meant to appeal to. Guys, right? Probably younger guys who think that eating a seven-inch long cheeseburger on a hoagie bun is the sort of thing a manly-man does. But how long is it going to take before one of those self-same doodz rags on one who bought the thing about taking a big seven-incher in the mouth like that? Then it's gay jokes for the next ten hours and none of the other doodz in the group will ever buy one when they're in a group.

But that's who Burger King is counting on buying these things. They're like cigarette companies--hook them while they're young and they'll come back for the bullshit salads when they're in their thirties and trying to lose the freshman thirty they put on by eating that crap in the first place.

I give this ad run a month at the outside, not because Burger King will be ashamed of it--as Melissa points out, they're apparently incapable of shame--but because it will backfire on them.

Maybe this is a new strategy for the Republican party--everyone who wants to run for President in 2012 has to try to catch up with Newt Gingrich in the infidelity sweepstakes.

Gov. Mark Sanford admitted Wednesday he's been having an affair with a woman he visited on a secret trip to Argentina and said he'll resign as head of the Republican Governors Association.
What's Sarah Palin going to have to do to keep up? Sleep with Letterman?

Seriously, though, as I said about Ensign, marital infidelity doesn't bother me (as far as a politicians qualifications are concerned), and it's getting to where I don't even care about the hypocrisy anymore. I expect it now, just like I expect every baseball player who's denied taking steroids or HGH to come up dirty in a test. Besides, just like with Ensign, there are plenty of other reasons to think that Sanford would be a train wreck as President--no need to drag his marriage into it.

Side note: Sanford is apparently from Fort Lauderdale. South Carolina can keep him.

Options, options options

Via Rick at South Florida Daily Blog, Christina at 305 provides a story that's all too familiar down here in south Florida--an elderly driver hitting the gas instead of the brake, jumping the sidewalk and plowing through a plate glass window into, in this case, a health club. No one was hurt, fortunately, but given the circumstances, that's pure luck. Christina writes:

I feel sorry for everyone involved, but really this is a sign that we need more strict regulations on drivers licenses, because while it sucks to realize you are getting old and your freedoms are waning as you have a more difficult time getting from place to place, if your motor skills are getting that bad, you shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car.
and she's absolutely right, but that's not the whole story. Lots of times--and Amy's got a story about her granddad that's terrifying--elderly people keep driving even when they know they shouldn't be because they feel they don't have other options available. Granddad's not necessarily going 25 with the blinker on because he wants to be a dick--he might not be able to see out the windshield, but bus service is so bad and so difficult to navigate that he may feel like he has no choice but to risk it.

Public transportation is particularly bad here in south Florida. The Tri-Rail is fine for commuting, assuming that you live and work near a station, but for moving around the tri-county area, the busses are horrible. That's not a knock on the people actually working for the transit system--it's a knock on the system itself. It's poorly funded and poorly designed, and a big part of the problem--which Atrios notes when he talks about transit in Philly is that south Florida is built and planned in such a way as to be hostile to public transportation. We're sprawled out, with lots of gated communities and not much in the way of retail/living space combinations except in some new developments in the middle of cities. Wilton Manors is doing a lot of it now, but there's some real question as to how well it's going to fill once it comes online on either the commercial or the residential ends. But it's a step in the right direction.

I'm with Christina--when it comes to drivers licenses, we need to be more restrictive, and older people need to be tested more often, perhaps even once a year as they get deep into retirement age, to make sure they still have the necessary motor skills to operate a car. But we can't just take away licenses and cars--we have to give them other ways to get around.

Mar-co! Mar-co! Mar-co!

If I had any confidence at all in the Florida Democratic Party, I would send Marco Rubio a few bucks and really try to help him beat Charlie Crist in the Republican primary, because if this really is indicative of how his mind works, then he ought to be easy pickings come next November.

Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio is the latest to make his own curious comparison drawn from the Iranian demonstrations — that the protesters would have more success if they had a constitutional right to bear arms.

“I have a feeling the situation in Iran would be a little different if they had a 2nd amendment like ours,” Rubio tweeted on Sunday.
Think of the possible implications of Rubio's post. Is he advocating a violent response from the Iranian protesters? What if there were a similar situation here--is Rubio arguing that it's okay for US citizens to take up arms against their local, state or federal government if they thought there was a fraudulent election? What's the bar of proof here?

Rubio is tapping into the idea fomented by many 2nd Amendment absolutists that the primary importance of the right to bear arms is to be able to resist one's government should it become oppressive or corrupt (or be overthrown by some foreign invader a la Red Dawn). Rubio conveniently forgets (or hasn't thought out) that few revolutions succeed, and those that do usually do because the existing military turns on its government.

Does Rubio imagine that it's gun owners who keep US elections (reasonably) free of corruption? Are the Joint Chiefs crapping themselves in fear of the notion that the NRA will mobilize a revolutionary force if the election seems fraudulent? Give me a break. The US military could quash any attempt at overthrow without breaking much of a sweat. Hell, the police departments of most major cities could probably handle it.

The reason Ayatollah Khamenei is in trouble right now has nothing to do with how much access the average Iranian has to weapons and everything to do with Khamenei's overreach:
As Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei may have many powers, but he doesn’t have the power to do as he pleases for personal gain. As a fundamental principle, in the Islamic Republic, no one is free to do as he pleases, not even the “Supreme Leader.” Everyone is subject to the law—that law being the shari’a. By appearing to commit a blatant dishonesty in order to put his own man in the drivers seat, Khamenei has cost himself an aura of impregnable authority, and this will hurt him because, for all the military and police resources at his command, the Supreme Leader’s authority ultimately derives from rectitude and religious learning, not bodyguards and guns. As soon as people stop believing in his rectitude, guns won’t save him.
It's all about legitimacy--Khamenei apparently thought he could control reality and he discovered he was wrong, and he's reaping the whirlwind as a result. Whether or not his populace is armed is secondary to the problem at best.

Why is this news?

In a move as surprising as the bear's decision to crap in the woods, Judge Robert Bork thinks Judge Sonia Sotomayor is unqualified to be a Supreme Court Justice.

I know what you're thinking--Robert Bork is still alive?

The whole interview is a piece of work, but in order to get a real sense of just where Bork is on the spectrum of of judicial philosophy, one question pretty much sums it up.

As it's currently composed, this is sometimes called a conservative court.

I don't see it at all. It's a very left-leaning, liberal court.
I keep trying to imagine what Judge Bork would consider a centrist court, and I keep getting the Blue Screen of Death combined with the Spinning Wheel of Waiting Hopelessly flashing before my eyes.

Oh, the cluelessness

Greg Hengler thinks this video is damning evidence against Sonia Sotomayor. Or something.

That's right--she said that in her experience in the private sector, men often discriminated against women, and she gave them the benefit of the doubt by saying that she thought they did it unconsciously. It's not like unconscious gender bias is an unobserved phenomenon or anything, right?

Let's be clear here--if Sonia Sotomayor came out today and said that in many areas of endeavor, men openly discriminate against women when it comes to hiring and firing as well as promotion, it wouldn't be a controversial statement to anyone with two brain cells to rub together. Women know that firsthand. But that's not what she said, and what's more, she said this even less controversial thing 23 years ago, when it was even more true than it is now, when gender discrimination was more blatant and socially acceptable.

And there's the other one

Quite often I find myself disappointed in the two Senators from Florida--Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez are no prize by any definition--but at least they're not the pair from Oklahoma. I wrote earlier today about James Inhofe's unwillingness to even consider Sonia Sotomayor's fitness to be on the Supreme Court, but I guess Tom Coburn decided he wanted to be the most hardheaded Senator from Oklahoma today.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has now signed up with the Birther cause -- the people who think Barack Obama isn't a natural-born citizen and should be required to produce a birth certificate (which he already did, anyway) -- World Net Daily reports.

Coburn has now voiced his support for a bill offered by Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) and five House co-sponsors so far. "The bill requires any federal candidates' campaign committee filing with the Federal Election Commission to produce a copy of the candidate's birth certificate," wrote Coburn. "If the bill makes it to the Senate, I will likely support it."
When Florida Rep. Bill Posey introduced the bill in the House, Stephen Colbert famously questioned his parentage and suggested Posey was part alligator. What animal might Coburn be related to? I'm guessing the PUMA.

Jim Inhofe, one of Oklahoma's two nutbag Senators, decided not to meet with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and I have to say, I can appreciate this sort of candor.

Inhofe's spokesman explained that since the Senator has already decided to vote against the nomination, there's no reason to waste time on a sit-down discussion....

"If you voted against anyone on the circuit [court], I have never been able to see how you turn around when the bar is actually higher and support it at a higher level," Inhofe said, according to the Tulsa World.
That makes sense, as long as you assume that people and opinions don't change over time. Of course, this is the guy who continue to deny that global warming is a reality or that we can do anything about it, so his rigidity is hardly surprising.

I don't get why an unwillingness to reconsider one's positions is considered a good thing, especially in an elected official.


First, the headline: "City Cracks Down on Filthy, Panty-Free Employees." My first reaction--before I parsed the comma--was to read that as a moral judgment on women who go to work commando.

While it's sad that the employees of Brookville require a dress code to force them use deordorant[sic] and wear underwear, it's even sadder that the town's mayor voted against the measure.

The city council voted 4-1 in favor of the policy this month, with Mayor Joe Bernadini of the backwater town north of Tampa the only dissenter.

"I think in a way it takes away freedom of choice," Bernadini told the Tampa Tribune. While he noted that the dress code would bring more professionalism to the city, Bernadini said it seemed "a little far-fetched."
Okay, according to teh google, it's Brooksville, not Brookville, which is the kind of thing you might want to get right if you're going to refer to a town as a backwater and cap on the mayor for voting against a measure that seems to me to be, well, unenforceable unless you're willing to risk sexual harassment complaints. Seriously, is there going to be a town official in charge of checking underwear? A dress code is one thing, and the rules about "not wearing clothes with dirty words or images or drug use messages" and "piercings will only be allowed on the ear" aren't unreasonable, though the latter is changing as nose, tongue, and eyebrow piercings are becoming more common.

Can someone slap the stupid out of that headline-writer, though? He/She might as well have written "City Slaps Smelly Sluts." At least that has alliteration going for it.

Picking Your Battles

PETA, it seems to me, is a good example of an organization that allows its good work to be overshadowed by not having a sense of proportion. It's stories like this one that make the average person dismiss PETA as a fringe outfit.

WASHINGTON - The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants the flyswatter in chief to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he's bedeviled by a fly in the White House.

PETA is sending President Barack Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside.

"We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals," PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said Wednesday. "We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals."
Sorry, but a housefly's going to get swatted by 90% of people. Cockroaches are going to get stomped on (or gassed), spiders will have their webs torn down, mosquitoes will be slapped and so on. And rightly so, in my view. There's no "living in harmony" with bugs, far as I'm concerned--it's them or me, especially inside the house.

Not even close, Senator

I'm shocked! shocked! to find out that a US Senator has cheated on his spouse. That makes him, depending on who you read, about the same as anywhere from a third to half of men in this country. I've been pretty clear on this in the past--I don't think that marital infidelity on its own has anything to do with a politician's fitness for office. I don't care about it.

And in John Ensign's case, the hypocrisy doesn't even bug me that much, because it's pretty much expected at this point. Seriously, hypocrisy in a politician today is like steroid use in baseball--you presume the politician is guilty until proven otherwise. So I'm not going to get on Ensign for being a hypocrite or for breaking his marriage vows.

I do, however, take exception with this statement: "It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life." No no no. In the universe of bad stuff you've done, Senator, cheating on your wife doesn't come close to the top, not when you've got this to answer for. Breaking your marriage vows is piddle compared to voting to send troops into a war of convenience based on lies that has cost thousands of US lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. You want to really go down the list of bad things you've done, you might want to start with stuff that matters on the global scale instead of the personal scale.

An Appropriate Video

I haven't blogged about hat's going on in Iran in large part because I haven't had time to breathe, much less keep up with what's been going on. My knowledge of what's been happening is pretty much limited to the Facebook updates Terry Hummer has been posting--he's been passing along lots of stuff from Twitter, and it's been fascinating.

Anyway, my point is that this video, a presentation by Clay Shirky posted by Ted, is really appropriate given what's been happening in Iran. He's talking about how the internet and communication technology in general is changing the media, and the current rebellion against the mullahs in Iran is just the latest example of that. Obviously, Shirky isn't talking about Iran, but he might as well be, because the lessons are the same.

Getting caught up

Hey there. Amy and I have been, as the British say, moving house for the last week, which explains (in part) the lack of blogging for the last few days. That, combined with end-of-the-summer-term turmoil has meant a lack of time for news-reading and such. But we're getting settled in and I hope to resume regular blogging either this evening or sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a picture of Wally. I wish I were feeling like that right now.

David Klinghoffer, writing for Beliefnet, has a theory about about what might have motivated James Von Brunn to be a white-supremacist-Holocaust-denier-gunman. After quoting sections of Von Brunn's writings--and I use the term loosely--Klinghoffer comes back with this gem:

No, he doesn't cite Darwin by name in the part of his book that's readable online -- the first 6 of 12 chapters. But do you get the general drift? And you want to tell me that ideas don't have consequences?
Now Klinghoffer works for the Discovery Institute--the dolled-up Creation Science groups--and his agenda is to try to make Intelligent Design just palatable enough so that it won't quite smell like Creationism. He's very bad at his job, it goes without saying.

So what's he trying here? It seems like he's suggesting that accepting evolution--because understanding the mechanism by which life changes and continues on this planet is not the same as believing in something magical--leads to white supremacy and Holocaust denial, among other things. That's awesome in its stupidity. Mind-boggling, even. Well done, Mr. Klinghoffer.

Dear White Males

I'm talking to the Rush Limbaughs and Lindsay Grahams and Pat Buchanans primarily here, but I think anyone who is, like me, white and male, might be able to take a little something away here.

The whininess about reverse racism popped back into the public sphere about two seconds after Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court. It's easy to just dismiss people like Limbaugh and Graham and Buchanan as out of touch and the types of people who have to pander to white people to maintain their level of influence, but if you're a working class white male in a tough economy, it might be difficult to see a real-world example of how your skin color affords you any privilege. Steve Benen points out one way, though it's not his main point:

Richard Poplawski, a right-wing extremist and white guy, allegedly gunned down three police officers in Pittsburgh in April, in part because he feared the non-existent "Obama gun ban." Jim David Adkisson, a right-wing extremist and white guy, allegedly opened fire in a Unitarian church in Tennessee last year, in part because of his "hatred of the liberal movement."

Imagine if James Von Brunn, Scott Roeder, Poplawski, and Adkisson were all Muslims.

What would the rhetoric be like? What kind of legislation might congressional Republicans offer? How many special reports about the "epidemic" of domestic Muslim violence would Sean Hannity host?
When a white guy does something like this, the immediate assumption is that his whiteness had nothing to do with it--there's always some other motivation. He's an anti-choice psycho, or an anti-Semite, or a gun nut, or a ultra-conservative. His whiteness is just coincidental.

But if you're not white? Well then it's at least a potential motivation--you're a drug dealer or an illegal immigrant or a radical Muslim ready to take out a dozen city blocks with the nuke you've smuggled in in a very uncomfortable place. Even if you're a cop, it's tough to get the benefit of the doubt. Being white very often gets you that second look. That's privilege.

The thing about privilege is that if you have it, you might not even realize it. It's not something you have to actively seek in order to benefit from--most of the time it just happens. There might not even be any conscious intent on the part of the person extending the privilege--it's just an after-effect of a society where white-maleness has been privileged for so long that it feels natural to both extend and receive it.

As long as you're a white guy, that is.

That's why I have so little patience for the types of people I started this post talking about. They're white men who act as though no one ever extended them a helping hand to get where they are, that their white-maleness never did them any favors (don't get me started on those people so clueless as to argue that their white-maleness has been a hindrance), that they made it to where they are completely on their own. It would be comical if it weren't so insidious, if it didn't appeal to a group of people who've shown themselves to be capable of great violence--white men with no sense of just how lucky they are.

Welcome to the party

I'd like to congratulate right-wing bloggers for their newfound embrace of feminism--recently, some dood named Guy Cimbalo wrote a piece called "Conservative Women I'd Like to Hate Fuck" and last night David Letterman said Sarah Palin had a "slutty flight attendant look." Right-wing blogs have spent the last week or two in high dudgeon over these two incidents, and I mean it when I say I congratulate them for getting upset over sexism.

So what are you going to do about it other than gripe when it's your side getting tagged? Are you actually going to defend liberal women when your fellow right-wing bloggers make sexist remarks about them? Will the jokes about Nancy Pelosi's appearance stop? Or Helen Thomas's appearance? Or Hillary Clinton's? I'll be keeping an eye on you to see.

Terrorism worked

There's really no other way for me to put it--the over-the-top rhetoric of groups like Operation Rescue combined with the violence of anti-choice advocates who have threatened and murdered abortion providers as well as bombed their clinics and harassed their patients have won a round. Dr. Tiller's clinic will not reopen.

It will be interesting to see how anti-choice groups react to this news. Can they celebrate the closing of a clinic without embracing the tactics that were used to force the closing? I don't think they can. They have to own the fact that they were partly responsible for ramping up the rhetoric to such levels that a violent response became inevitable. Every time they compared abortion to the Holocaust, they sent a message that linked abortion providers to Hitler. You make those sorts of irresponsible claims enough times, and someone is going to take them seriously.

Side note: I wonder how many of these same people expressed outrage over the ad submitted to Moveon's contest about 6 years ago which compared George W. Bush to Hitler? I'll bet there's some overlap.

I completely understand why Dr. Tiller's family isn't going to reopen the clinic. They've been facing down these terrorists for decades now, and that's more than anyone should be asked to bear. But in a country where there are already precious few options for women in dire circumstances who need specialized care, now there's one less place for them to go. The terrorists have won this round.

I am so tired of this meme

Many other bloggers have taken notice of Hugh Hewitt's stupid column wherein he argues for a boycott of General Motors cars and trucks. Other bloggers are handling the nuts and bolts of the problem with the boycott. It's this part I'm tired of.

Many are rightly afraid that the government will do to automobile production what it has done for Amtrack [sic] and the Postal Service, but the risk is much greater than a federally mandated lemon.
First: Amtrak runs marvelously well given the handicaps it faces--it doesn't own its own tracks, in many cases, and is therefore required to move aside when the rail operator who owns the tracks wants priority. Furthermore, rail service in pretty much every country is subsidized, and to a far greater degree than Amtrak is, and still Amtrak manages to give pretty good service. I've ridden them across the country more than once and would do so again in a heartbeat.

But even if I were to grant that Amtrak is poorly run--and I'm not--the argument about the Post Office is just insane. The Post Office will deliver a letter anywhere in the US, no matter how distant or rural the recipient, for less than half a buck, and in the meantime, employs a great number of people and pays them a solid, middle-class wage. And best of all, it does this without any outside Congressional spending. People who want to privatize the Post Office often argue that private companies could do it cheaper, but they're lying. Private companies might be able to do it more cheaply in high density areas, but they wouldn't be able to service people in places like Red River, NM, where my brother-in-law used to live--and they wouldn't, unless they were required to by the government. A number of package delivery services wouldn't--too far off their route and not worth the small amount of business it would bring in.

The Postal Service is a great example of how the government can provide for the common good, and it does so with amazing efficiency--greater efficiency than the private sector could ever hope to match, in large part because all it has to do to be successful is break even. We should dream that GM is run as well as the Postal Service is.

Deep Thoughts

Nothing will make you want a Kindle more than boxing up books, except perhaps loading said boxes into the back of a pickup truck.

4 numbers on a lottery ticket will buy a very nice dinner.

And Ed Whelan is an unmitigated jackass. That is all for today.

Currently at the top of the NY Times most emailed list is this piece about a new charter school in New York City. The article asks "So what kind of teachers could a school get if it paid them $125,000 a year?" and the answer is, not surprisingly, damn good ones.

The school seems to be a real-life example of what Malcolm Gladwell talked about in his New Yorker piece comparing teachers to pro quarterbacks, which I thought was a pretty silly analogy for a number of reasons, which I'll reiterate in a bit.

The charter school described in the NY Times article sounds like it's trying out Gladwell's premise (though I have no doubt it predates Gladwell's article--this stuff takes time to work out, and Gladwell's article appeared last December). Find extraordinary teachers, pay them what you have to in order to get them to be willing to take on additional responsibilities, and see what happens. So who does this school have working for them?

An accomplished violist who infuses her music lessons with the neuroscience of why one needs to practice, and creatively worded instructions like, “Pass the melody gently, as if it were a bowl of Jell-O!”

A self-described “explorer” from Arizona who spent three decades honing her craft at public, private, urban and rural schools.

Two with Ivy League degrees. And Joe Carbone, a phys ed teacher, who has the most unusual résumé of the bunch, having worked as Kobe Bryant’s personal trainer.
Not bad. You're paying them two to three times what you'd pay an average schoolteacher, but you're getting top quality.

Which is why this is not a large scale solution for the problems our educational system faces. Put simply, there aren't enough of these people to fill classrooms across the country, even if you are paying them $125K a year to do it. They aren't as elite as NFL starting quarterbacks, of course, but they are still relatively rare, given the millions of students nationwide we're talking about.

When Gladwell talked about this problem and advocated a similar system, he neglected this problem of scale as well--I guess it was inconvenient. But he did offer a solution, although he didn't seem to recognize it at the time:
You’d have to cut the average class almost in half to get the same boost that you’d get if you switched from an average teacher to a teacher in the eighty-fifth percentile.
He took that to mean that what we really need to do is find more of those top 15% people and convince them to become teachers, when a simpler, more elegant solution is right there. Cutting class sizes in half turns an average teacher into a good one. What's easier--finding top-quality people who are willing to ride herd on a room of 30 rugrats for what they might be able to make in another field, or reducing the number of rugrats to a point where more people are able to do a good job teaching them?

Lake Wobegon doesn't actually exist, folks. There aren't enough above-average people to go around when it comes to public education, which is why even if this charter school succeeds for the kids who attend, the idea will still fail, because there's no way to scale it up for the general populace, which ought to be the whole point of experiments like this.

Krugman's column todayon health insurance and the public option does a good job of explaining why the public option is necessary to any real health care reform. Maybe I'm going to be Captain Obvious here, but it's easy to forget the primary reason why government intervention in this industry is necessary> Krugman alludes to it, but I'm just going to say it.

Insurance companies are not in business to provide payment for medical services.

In fact, providing payment for medical services is the last thing any insurance company actually wants to do. Insurance companies are out to make money, first, last and always--that's their primary responsibility under their corporate charters--and you don't make money by paying claims unless you absolutely have to. You make money by promising to pay claims, collecting premiums, and then throwing up every possible roadblock to avoid paying the claims you promised you'd pay. It's an incredible scam when you cut through all the crap.

When you're healthy, your health insurance company loves you--well, they love the premiums you're sending in at least. But when you're sick, they hate you, and it doesn't matter how long a history you have with the company. You're a drain on their resources, a fraction of a tick downward on their profitability for the quarter, a few pennies less for the bonuses for the top executives. You, in short, are the enemy.

A public option won't change the attitude, but it will offer individuals and business owners a different option, one without shareholders to answer to, and that scares the ever-loving crap out of the insurance industry, because they know that if there's a legitimate public option out there, they can't compete and keep raking in the billions of dollars in profits they've gotten by denying claims and cherry-picking healthy people to cover. The insurance industry seems to understand that if a public option comes out of this, then it's only a matter of time before that option turns into de facto single-payer, and they have to find legitimate work. And oh, won't that be terrible for them?

Because if there really are laws like this one in 37 states, then bartending is a far more dangerous profession today than it was 12 years ago when I was doing it.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee - Handguns will soon be allowed in bars and restaurants in Tennessee under a new law passed by state legislators who voted to override the governor's veto.

The legislation that takes effect July 14 retains an existing ban on consuming alcohol while carrying a handgun, and restaurant owners can still opt to ban weapons from their establishments.
One of the places I tended bar when I was in college was a dive where one of the owners was a deputy sheriff, and tough as he was, and with all the backup he had a phone call away, there's no way in hell he'd have allowed guns in his bar, not even his own. The closest thing we had to weapons in the bar was a wooden tee-ball bat, and that came out only once during an evening when I was the only worker in the place. But a gun? Not a chance.

From a purely fiscal standpoint, can you imagine what bar-owners' insurance rates must jump to if there's a shooting in their establishments, assuming their rates didn't go up simply as a result of the policy? Especially if a bystander gets popped by accident (which is more likely than any other scenario)?

New Search Engine

I don't know what worries me more--that Bing came up with this site as a result, or that there might be enough on this site to warrant the result.

There's going to be a Prop 8 repeal initiative on the ballot in California in 2010. I get why the San Jose Mercury News is covering it, but I don't get why they're concern-trolling it. That's the overwhelming feeling I take away from the way the story is structured. Here's the opening paragraph:

Despite painful consecutive losses at the ballot box and in the courts, advocates for gay marriage are gearing up for a fight they say they can win: a statewide vote on same-sex marriage in 2010. But there are signs next year could be too soon for another fight on this volatile and exhausting issue.
But there's no evidence as to why 2010 would be too soon. Instead, the reporter quotes Frank Schubert, the Sacramento political consultant who ran the Yes on 8 campaign last year, and writes:
Schubert predicts at least a third of the 2008 electorate, particularly those young, first-time voters who turned out to vote for Barack Obama, won't show up at the polls in 2010. "They are not going to show up to vote for Gavin Newsom or Jerry Brown," he said of two potential Democratic gubernatorial nominees for 2010.
Schubert is probably correct about turnout, but more because 2010 is a non-presidential election year, and turnout is consistently down in off-year elections. But that doesn't have anything to do with whether or not it's too soon for another fight on Prop 8, and neither does anything else in the article. So why make that the lede?

Which is it?

Ever since it became clear that Barack Obama would be the Democratic Party nominee for President--was it really almost a year ago?--the right wing has been claiming that he's the most liberal anything ever. He's taking us down the road to socialism, he's pro-abortion, pro-gay, anti-Day of Prayer, and so on.

And yet now, just because President Obama notes that the US has a sizable Muslim population, large enough to be a nation in its own right, Roger Simon is convinced that Obama is the secret Muslim that the right thought he was all along.

We know the difference between the Medina and Mecca Korans (and their views of jihad), between Sunni and Shiite and so forth. We also know what dhimmi law is… and taqqiya.

For those of you who have missed it, here is a definition of taqiyya - again from Wikipedia: The word “al-Taqiyya” literally means: “Concealing or disguising one’s beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of imminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury.” A one-word translation would be “dissimulation.”

The WikiIslam defines it as “sanctified hypocrisy.” That is Barak Obama to a T. He uses taqiyya constantly, as on French TV when he claimed the US was one of the biggest Muslim nations, and recently to avoid having our government adhere to agreements it made with the state of Israel during the Bush administration. Or maybe it was our State Department practicing taqiyya in his behalf. In any case, it comes to the same thing.
Riiiight. If President Obama is practicing taqiyya, then he's doing an awful lot of it given his stances on social issues that, while aren't liberal enough for his supporters on the left (me included) are far to the left of those in conservative Muslim thought.

It seems to me that Simon has the line drawn here: if you're not willing to go along with whatever Israel wants and if you're not willing to embrace the notion of the US as a Christian nation (because what's the problem with noting the large Muslim population in the US after all?), then you're one of them. You're a Muslim or a Muslim sympathizer, which is just as bad as far as Simon is concerned.

So which is it guys--is Barack Obama the most liberal ever, or is he a secret Muslim bent on transforming the US into Saudi Arabia (without the oil, of course)? Because you can't be both.

A Reminder:

Abortion is ugly. But not having access to abortion is uglier:

Pregnancy and childbirth are among the greatest dangers that women face in Africa, which has the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality — at least 100 times those in developed countries. Abortion accounts for a significant part of the death toll.

Maternal mortality is high in Tanzania: for every 100,000 births, 950 women die. In the United States, the figure is 11, and it is even lower in other developed countries. But Tanzania’s record is neither the best nor the worst in Africa. Many other countries have similar statistics; quite a few do better and a handful do markedly worse.
If I told you that for every 100,000 people who get in an airplane, 11 of them die, would you get into an airplane? If I told you, once seated, that the number was actually 950 for every 100,000, would you hurt yourself in your haste to get off that fucking death machine?

There's this stupid lie that we tell ourselves, that making new humans is this "beautiful" or "blessed" event, which takes no toll on the woman doing it, short of perhaps ruining her figure, and only the shallowest shrew would care about that!

But that's pie-in-sky BS: making babies is dangerous. Necessary, to a certain extent (actually, there's far more humans on the planet than the planet can sustain, so at the moment, it's not very necessary for most of us), but dangerous. It may be only a small percentage of women who actually die in the event, but serious medical complications are not uncommon: I know more than one woman who nearly died giving birth, and who did indeed suffer life-altering consequences to her body and mind from the process.

So it is reasonable to make access to birth control as widespread and cheap as possible. And when women get pregnant despite not wanting to (and increasing women's rights and power and agency and self-determination world wide will help to reduce that happening, by the way), safe, medical abortion must be available.

But unfortunately, it's not available, and as a result, women die: 
Worldwide, there are 19 million unsafe abortions a year, and they kill 70,000 women (accounting for 13 percent of maternal deaths), mostly in poor countries like Tanzania where abortion is illegal, according to the World Health Organization. More than two million women a year suffer serious complications. According to Unicef, unsafe abortions cause 4 percent of deaths among pregnant women in Africa, 6 percent in Asia and 12 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.
But there's a solution to this horrendous problem: make abortion safe and legal -- and most importantly, rare. Make it rare by making birth control common and by empowering women.

If you don't, the market will respond, as in Tanzania:
He said rumor had it that many abortions were done by a man in Gairo, a town west of Berega. In some cases, he said, the abortionist only started the procedure, knowing that doctors would have to finish the job.
This used to be how it was in the United States. It was these horrors that led to abortion being made legal here. But in places where abortion is illegal, they're still showing us our past; they're showing us why we need to keep abortion legal, no matter how many people (people of simple minds or who have not thought this through) object:
Still, women do not want to discuss what happened or even admit that they had anything other than a miscarriage, because in theory they can be prosecuted for having abortions. The law calls for seven years in prison for the woman.
That's Tanzania's present and our past: it could be our future if we're not careful. 

Mac Ranger is an idiot

When I posted my list of right wing blog reactions to the murder of Dr. George Tiller yesterday, a blog named Macsmind was at the top of the list. I really didn't have any plans to do this sort of a post today, but this one by Mac Ranger is so over the top and full of inaccuracies that I decided to take it on. Sing along if you know the words:

When you read of the atrocities of Tiller, documented and factual, you wonder why such a monster is so celebrated by the left? How much does one have to hate babies to pull them from a mother’s womb, fully developed, tearing their limbs asunder, and drilling holes in their head to insure death.

How is that not “hate”?
The vast majority of abortions Dr. Tiller provided were for women who really didn't want to get one but either had a fetus with extraordinary birth defects or had a dead fetus inside them. Giving a woman the medical care she needs is not an atrocity--making it near impossible for her to get it is. Here's a news flash for you, Mac Ranger: you can make any medical procedure sound like torture if you phrase it correctly, but it doesn't make you honest. You and your fellow forced-pregnancy advocates are trying to make it seem like Dr. Tiller went around getting his jollies performing late-term abortions, and then using that to mollify what should be horror at his murder.
Of course it is, of the worst kind - and I’ll say it again - we cannot condone the wanton killing of Tiller, just as we should never condone the killing of the young. But while even some of our friends on the right struggle with the balance let us ask, just when is killing “justified”? If you ask the left they will no doubt provide many examples as they continually make excuses for the murderers in our midst such as William Tookie, Fidel Castro, Chairman Mao, and even - yeah - Hilter. When a thug like Tookie Williams literally blew away three innocent people, the left excused it by referring to a battered childhood.
I'll tell you, you can't click on a left-wing blog without being inundated with people making excuses for Tookie Williams, Castro, Mao and Hilter(ha!). Where's the Pol Pot love?
Note that for them - indeed the culture of death - there is never morning for the victims, only the perp.
Victims work the lunch shift--that's the deal. Perps always handle the breakfast rush.
Remember how they celebrated the mocked assassination of President Bush? With pomp and ceremony. Had the victim been Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh they would have called the day a holiday and hoisted the assassin in honor.
Man,I remember how Death of a President opened on 3,200 screens and took in $200 million in the opening weekend. That shit was dope! I saw it three times, the last time in IMAX 3-D! Or maybe that was Harry Potter.

In all seriousness, if Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh were assassinated, I wouldn't shed a tear. I would hope the authorities caught and punished whoever committed the crime, but I certainly wouldn't hoist the assassin in honor. And I suspect that not many anti-abortion folks will be starting Scott Roeder fan clubs, because I don't believe that most people are monsters, and I try not to caricature people I disagree with, unlike some bloggers. Okay, back to the snark.
What a strange and twisted sense of justice.
That's my superhero name--Strange Twisted Justice. I trap criminals with a lariat made out of orange-flavored Twizzlers and hypnotize them with the twirly-eye glasses I got from a cereal box when I was nine.
While I don’t condemn murder of any kind, we cannot deny the sense that God is right when he said, “As a man sows shall he reap”. Tiller reaped death and so received it, as violently and abruptly as he gave it out. Whether it had been at the hand of a crazed murderer - yes one act is as bad a the other - or by natural causes he will stand before God, and all the children whose lives he snuffed and give account.
Should I give him the benefit of the doubt and say he meant "condone" instead of "condemn"? I'm taking a screen grab just in case he changes it. Anyone else get the feeling that Mac Ranger actually got a stubbie when he first heard about Dr. Tiller's murder and is only writing this stuff in order to keep from seeming like a total monster?
I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.
Have you seen that's guy's shoes? No fashion sense.

Here's the methodology for this post. This is the Memeorandum page for the moment when I'm putting this post together. I'm going to visit right-wing blogs discussing the news stories dealing with this story and link to and excerpt all of them below, so you can get a sampling of how this goes. I'm not going to cherry pick, and I'm showing my work just so anyone with a gripe can check it.

Macsmind: This is NOT the way to fight abortion. Nevertheless, Dr. Tilman[sic] is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocents during his tenure. He prided himself on giving late term abortions (that’s the drill in the baby’s skull killing). This man was a monster.

Becky Brindle: Nothing really to excerpt--she links to and quotes a lot of "pro-life" groups who condemn the murder.

AllahPundit at Hot Air: The murder of George Tiller at his church is a heinous crime, without any sense or justice. Regardless of how one feels about George Tiller’s profession, his murderer is nothing more than a domestic terrorist — someone attempting to impose by force a policy that one cannot get in place through democratic means.

Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner: Pretty much what Becky Brindle did.

The Strata-Sphere: What I am sure of is the man was not gunned down on the way to church by some radical pro-abortion nutcase. The ‘true conservative’ drama queens can pretend all day long they are the victims of concern with right wing extremists, but as I pointed out when this DHS mess came out, the track record for pro lifers under democrat presidents is damn violent and conservatives would pay a price if the violent right woke up again:

Sister Toldjah: First things first, whether or not the person who murdered Tiller was a “pro-life Christianist” or not, I join other conservative bloggers who are stating without hesitation that Tiller’s murderer deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that the death penalty should be on the table. Even if he/she was/is a “pro-life Christianist,” this isn’t the wild, wild West anymore, and this isn’t the way that a civilized society resolves its differences.

Stop the ACLU: Last time I checked, Tiller had killed thousands of babies, including with his ever-popular on the left “Late Term Abortion” procedure. I typically do not get involved in the whole abortion on demand issue except for two things, one of them being late term abortions (the other is parental notification.) I’m not sure if I would categorize Terry’s statement as “disgustion.”

Politics and Critical Thinking:
These type of progressives are hypocritical caricatures of reality. They, like this murderer, represent the worst in all of us and the stupidity that gives them the ability to disgrace themselves in this manner is truly unbound. For once have a shred of decency, let this man rest in peace, let the murderer hang, and for Godsakes leave the families alone and let them grieve.

The Blog Prof: Capital punishment for whoever was responsible. Murder is is murder. But kooks like Andrew Sullivan attacking Christians and conservatives right off the bat is about as low as it gets. The guy's blood isn't even dry yet. Of course, this comes from the party that turned Paul Wellstone's memorial service into a campaign speech, but anyway. Not only did Andrew Sullivan call out O'Reilly, he also painted the entire conservative community as "Christianist terrorist" that were the same as "Islamic terrorists." Nice...

Free Republic: Enter the comment thread at your own risk. It's an especially dark place.

Don Surber: Just a recap of the story.

Pat Dollard: Reposts a story from

Scared Monkeys: Although we certainly do not condone assassinations of people, no matter how much we disagree with what they are doing. We also disagree with the LEFT’s blaming conservative commentators with this man’s death. Here is a video of Bill O’Reilly doing a segmnet of “Tiller, the baby killer”. When one participates in such a controversial and heinous act like late term abortions, one puts them self knowingly at risk.

Say Anything: I’m not a believer in abortion. I’m also not a believer in murder. This accomplishes absolutely nothing except to bring condemnation upon anti-abortionists everywhere. The matter should have been discussed in the realm of public opinion and eventually settled in a court of law, not at the business end of a gun. This will cause more bitterness, hatred, and problems than it will ever solve.

My sympathies to his family - yes, even despicable partial birth abortion operatives have innocent family.



Blue Crab Boulevard: I’m on record as being against so-called late-term abortions. I regard them as nothing more than infanticide.

But I also do not, in any way, condone the murder of others you disagree with.

Marathon Pundit: Just recitations of facts about Dr. Tiller

Winds of Change: This is terrorism, pure and simple, and the federal government needs to devote antiterror resources to solving this crime and shutting down the people who committed and supported it.

Jillian Bandes at TownHall: Posts the NLRC condemnation.

Wizbang: If the suspect turns out to be an anti-abortion activist, this will give the Obama administration and Janet Napolitano's DHS the excuse to view all pro-lifers through the same lens as Tiller's murderer, which means pro-lifers will be labeled terrorists. Now there will be an even greater push to equate Christians with radical Islamists, as Hugh has already pointed out is taking place now. Unfortunately, there will not be a call for tolerance toward Christians as there has been for Muslims, even though 25% of young American Muslims believe suicide bombings are sometimes justified.

Newsbusters: As NewsBusters readers are well aware, taking a tragedy and turning it into an opportunity to slander conservatives is hardly a new concept. And the left has not hesitated in celebrating the murder of George Tiller, yes celebrated, by pretending that it is actually the right which is basking in the all-around tragic story.

Mr. Ed at RedState: I find it highly likely that this was a politically-motivated shooting. It is entirely the wrong thing to do though, achieves nothing to save lives, and must be prosecuted vigorously. The rule of law matters. After all, how could we even enforce abortion laws if we can’t enforce murder laws?

Bits Blog: OK make that eight murders since 1993. If this represents an organized campaign of terror, it is barely detectable, and given the circa one million abortions a year, totally ineffective. I cite NARAL, because I assume they have no reason to understate the magnitude of anti-abortion violence.

Robert P. George at The Corner: Whoever murdered George Tiller has done a gravely wicked thing. The evil of this action is in no way diminished by the blood George Tiller had on his own hands. No private individual had the right to execute judgment against him.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard: Quotes Robert George from The Corner

Sweetness & Light: Now any criticism of Ms. Sotomayor, no matter how justified, will be met with words to the effect that “that is the kind of rhetoric got George Tiller killed.”

American Power: But let me state unequivocally here: The death of George Tiller is a tragedy. His killers should be brought to justice and the death penalty should be on the table. But Andrew Sullivan is sick man to use this murder for political purposes. The blood of the killing's not even dry, and Sullivan's already smeared the entire conservative movement as a coalition of murderers.

More from Sister Toldjah: Here’s another thing to keep in mind in the weeks to come as the left and the mainstream media continue their campaigns to smear all pro-lifers for the actions of a few: Bill Ayers was an unrepentant domestic terrorist, too, and he and Barack Obama had more than just a “passing neighbor on the street” association while Obama was a rising star in Chicago/Illinois politics.

Robert Stacy McCain: One reason I so despise such criminal idiocy is that, as a student of history, I cannot think of a single instance in which assassination has produced anything good, no matter how evil or misguided the victim, nor how well-intentioned or malevolent the assassin.

That's most of them--I might have missed a couple. And I have to say that I'm glad most proved themselves to be at least marginally human about this murder. I have to emphasize the marginally, though, because while many of those who condemned the murder also went out of their way to make sure everyone knew they thought Dr. Tiller was a mass murderer as well. Others framed it through the lens of "how will this harm our movement" instead of just condemning the violence. And others, as you saw, were practically gleeful about it. Seriously, wear a gas mask if you go into that Free Republic thread.

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