Of course, the government isn’t the only entity that lies

Airlines are almost as bad. Since 9/11, they’ve pounced on the “must have ID” thing as if it were an edict from the FAA, when in fact it’s no such thing. All the 9/11 terrorists had ID; ID does nothing to increase safety on planes. What it does do is enable airlines to crack down on the resale of unrefundable tickets.

Given all that, it comes as no surprise that the prohibition on some electronics has essentially no basis in reality, either.

Turd Blossom Gets His

Several hundred protestors converged on Karl Rove’s home over the weekend. (Washington Post link; username nogators@nogators.com, password nogators for access.)

He didn’t take it well, apparently.

Update: additional coverage at CNN, which sensibly doesn’t require registration.

Dept. of Our Cousin

Cousin Charles — who is not a racist, but who still shouldn’t be on the appeals bench, as recess appointments are cheesy — was on 60 Minutes last night. It appears he came off well, which is nice. It’s always pleasant to see national media do a story on Mississippi that doesn’t make us look like unreconstructed rubes.

All of us, anyway.

Dept. of Stuff We Wish Our Mother Hadn’t Thrown Away

Sam’s Toybox is a compendium of all the neat ephemera we had in the seventies and eighties. As we are ubergeeky here at Heathen Central, we remember things like this quite fondly; it was with just such a kit that we learned a brutal secret: all electronics are powered by smoke, and when that smoke escapes, you have to play with something else, and pretend nothing happened.

By popular demand: a brief bibliography

Some of you have asked for a brief rundown of the political sites I read (and cite) here at Heathen. In no particular order, the usual suspects include:

There are, of course, countless other sources worthe perusing, typically written by thoughtful people and usually devoid of the kind of rancor and shouting that typifies broadcast media. Read on.

Gee, Condi, with all this “rebutting,” why not just testify?

Must be that pesky “oath” thing.

Condi Rice is wasting no time in attempting to spin-doctor and rebut Richard Clarke’s testimony, but she’s not doing a very good job of it. In refusing to testify to the Commission proper, she asserts at least two very odd things.

First, there’s the whole issue of refusing to testify under oath, but having no compunctions about saying whatever she wants while in the safety of her own office (and without threat of perjury indictments). There’s definitely something screwy about that.

Second, as Josh Marshall has pointed out, the historical precedent for aides refusing to testify isn’t as clearly on her side as she appears to think; there’s even precedent for people in precisely her position testifying under oath before such commissions (Brzezinski in 1980; Berger in 1997). Of course, Marshall’s source — the Congressional Research Service — also lists five examples when presidential aides refused to testify; anybody want to bet which administration employed four of those five?

Is that really a parallel this administration wants to encourage?

In which we discuss our new boarders

A while ago, we mentioned the bird family that had taken up residence in the faux-balcony on the front of our townhouse. We’ve been tracking their growth carefully, much to the chagrin of the mother bird (who gives us The Eye if she sees us) and the cat (who would very much like to play with the guests, and by “play” we mean “eat”).

On Saturday, the babies were, well, gross. They were all pink, completely devoid of feathers, and damned near translucent. Also, their beaks are entirely too large for their heads. Here’s a picture; pardon the glare. We were in a hurry, as Momma Bird had just left.


p class=”center”>pink, hairless, and goofy

Today, they’re actually starting to look like birds. Or, at least, tiny pinkish birdlike things, except for the enormous beaks and lack of discernable eyes. Still, they’ve got some feathers, and you the wings are taking shape. Also, if you walk across the wood floor close enough to the nest, the birdlike things appear to believe Mother is near, and begin waving their heads about, open-beaked, awaiting whatever mush Momma yacks into their gullets.

Hey, nature’s nasty that way. Plus, birds don’t have tits. Here’s a newer picture.


p class=”center”> bigger birdlike things

More updates as they become available.

Well, there’s definitely one thing we can’t blame Bush for

Actually there are probably several — the rise of tagging in Houston; the wholesale sucktasticness of Internet Explorer; the cancellation of Angel; etc. — but the one we’re concerned about right now is gas prices.

I’ve seen a couple references to “record gas prices” in the news, and even in blogs. The fact of the matter, though, is that gas is NOT anywhere near a high point, and the reason is inflation. Dollars are worth less today than they were 25 years ago. According to InflationData.com, gas is currently at about half its 1981 high of an inflation-adjusted $2.94.

Of course, we still need to get this guy and his minions out of 1600 Pennsylvania. That he’s not to blame for this doesn’t ameliorate the blame he does shoulder for a thousand other “points of light.”

This probably wasn’t what They Might Be Giants meant.

When I moved into my townhouse, the front featured an enormous, Day-of-the-Triffids quality vine-thing that was, frankly, taking over. I managed to kill it, but never removed the dead remnants from the faux-balcony on the front of the house. I sorta liked it, and I’m also sorta lazy.

Yesterday, we realized that a bird’s nest was in the thick of this vine-snarl. This morning, we realized it’s full of tiny baby birds, so small they have no feathers. Since it’s right next to a big picture window, we can see the birds very clearly from inside the house.

Neat. Pix forthcoming.

Dept. of In-No-Way-Posed Photographs

So we’re minding our own business in our own living room, watching some damn thing on TV, and The Girl nudges me.

“Look at the cat.”

I did. There she was, under the ladder.

Fortunately, we don’t hold with that superstition foolishness. I mean, if we did, we’d probably have been far too freaked-out to work the camera.

(And never-you-mind why the ladder’s in the middle of the living room. It’s closely related to why we had the camera within arm’s reach. Trust us.)

Politicizing 9/11

Bush is awful busy wrapping himself in the “leadership” he showed following 9/11, and doing his level best to make it look like his administration was caught flat-footed by the ineptness of the Clinton folks.

Trouble is, it’s just not true:

Richard Clarke was Director of Counter-Terrorism in the National Security Council [under Clinton]. He has since left. Clarke urgently tried to draw the attention of the Bush administration to the threat of al Qaeda. Richard Clarke was panicked about the alarms he was hearing regarding potential attacks. Clarke is at the center of what has since become a burning controversy: What happened on August 6, 2001? It was on this day that George W. Bush received his last, and one of the few, briefings on terrorism. According to reports, the briefing stated bluntly that Osama bin Laden intended to attack America soon, and contained the word “hijacking.” Bush responded to the warning by heading to Texas for a month-long vacation. It is this briefing that the Bush administration has refused to divulge to the committee investigating the attacks. There was not a single Republican member of Congress who ever raised a single question or put a query to the Clinton National Security Council about its efforts against terrorism before the attacks. When the Clinton team left office, their National Security group conducted three extensive briefings of the incoming Bush people. The attitude of the Bush people was, essentially, dismissive, that it was a “Clinton thing.” Condoleezza Rice has admitted that the massive file on al Qaeda and bin Laden left for her by outgoing National Security Advisor Sandy Berger went completely unread until the attacks had taken place. This happened despite the fact that Berger told her during one such briefing, “I believe that the Bush Administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject.”

Now, I’d like to see the source for the August 6 anecdote, but the balance — that the outgoing terrorism czar warned Bush’s people in January, and that warning went unheeded — isn’t even contested by Bush’s own administration. THAT is what Kerry should be saying to Rove’s ads about Bush’s 9/11 “leadership.”

(Via Tbogg.)

Why we think all Hollywood execs are going to hell.

No, it’s got nothing to do with bloody Gibsonian sadoJesus, nor with the essentially vapid nature of just about everything produced there. It’s all about what they’ve done to the Exorcist prequel.

You see, despite appearances, the idea of a new Exorcist film predating the 1973 original actually turns out to be a pretty interesting notion. The original was and remains a masterpiece of psychological horror, and this new installment was to be helmed by Paul Schrader (he of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) and had always-dependable Stellan Skarsgard as an earlier version of the Max von Sydow character.

In fact, the whole thing’s been shot. It’s in the can. It’ll just never see the light of day, as the studio decided they wanted a more “fast-based, flashy” film instead of the cerebral piece Schrader turned in, so they’re reshooting with a hack of a director (Reny Harlin (who gave us “Cutthroat Island,” and whose primary claim to work seems to have been nailing Laura Dern and Geena Davis (HDANCN?)) and a new cast.

In which we become at least somewhat shameless

It’s my birthday, one I share with a few other people, as previously documented. For those too lazy to click, the list inclues Adam Clayton and William H. Macy, but also Bill Casey (former evil CIA director) and pseudoreligion founder & charlatan L. Ron Hubbard.

Last night, in honor of said birthday, The Girl managed to surprise me AGAIN (three years running) with a dinner with friends at our new favorite restaurant, wherein I ate entirely too much. She’s the best, she is.