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Thought Alarm

Winning the war on terror one terrified citizen at a time

Updated: 2017-08-15T15:24:39.697-07:00


When six isn't enough


The woman who gave birth to octuplets this week has six other children and never expected to have eight more when she took fertility treatment, her mother said. - Associated Press

Oh, by the way, the mother lives with her parents.  So, how many more kids did she expect to have when seeking fertility treatment after the first six?

John Updike word of the day


Today John Updike passed after battling lung cancer. I greatly admired his ability as a writer, his fictional works like Rabbit Run, and his essays.

In honor of the man, I give you a word for the day, plucked right out of one of his own works, the iconic tribute to Ted Williams' last game "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu."

Cloyingly - adv - so sweet or pleasurable that it ultimately becomes sickly

As in: I, and 10,453 others, had shown up primarily because this was the Red Sox's last home game of the season, and therefore the last time in all eternity that their regular left fielder, known to the headlines as TED, KID, SPLINTER, THUMPER, TW, and, most cloyingly, MISTER WONDERFUL, would play in Boston.

Obama's big suit moment


Though a freezing chill was in the air, a crowd of over a million people had gathered in front of the United States capitol. An electric current of anticipation seemed to bind them all, and warm them, as they waited for Barack Obama to emerge and take the oath of office as the 44th President of our great nation.Preceding him was a line of former presidents, each emerging one-by-one, in order. First came Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, looking utterly ancient, amazing the crowd that he was still alive. A gasp rose, and then wild applause, his value to our nation enhanced by time. He smiled and took his seat. Next came George H. W. Bush, the 41st president, as he hobbled, walking with the help of a cane. Less of an applause. Then Bill Clinton, the 42nd president, emerged with wife Hillary on his arm. The crowd burst into wild applause, and the Clintons paused for a moment before taking their seats. Finally, George W. Bush came out, the current, failed president - the one Obama would be mercifully replacing. A jeer rose into the air.After this the capitol doors were closed, and we waited for what seemed like an eternity - for The One to cross over the threshold. The anticipation was broken slightly as future first lady Michelle came out, in a stunning pale green dress, designed by Isabel Toledo. To say she was Chic, stunning, or lovely would hardly do this new Jackie O any justice! But her moment was quickly brushed aside by history.All eyes were riveted on that historic platform, where the oath of office is administered by the Chief Justice, against the backdrop of the majestic capitol, and in front of the people of the country, as prescribed by that most perfect of documents, the Constitution. The moment seemed to hang in the air for an eternity and then... Barack Obama emerged... wearing a giant over sized gray suit, tailored by Chicago's own Hartmarx. It was at least six or seven times too large! His shoulders were perfectly square, bolstered by invisible giant shoulder pads, his head appeared in between them as but a tiny dot, ears peaking out to the sides.The crowd, for a moment, was utterly stunned, as Obama stood at the threshold of the doorway, between the Capitol building and history, as if to say, "Look at my giant suit!"The chill suddenly seemed to return to the air. Old ladies clutched at their coat collars. Somewhere a big dog barked."Oh no. No, no, no, no!" a woman next to me cried out. "Something is wrong here.""He looks like David Byrne," someone muttered.Then, the 44th president descended down the steps. Underneath the huge suit was that same confident stride. Obama, even in what can only be described as a laughably large, shabby looking suit, remained unruffled. He wore no smile, no smirk-- this was no joke--and the suit seemed to grow larger in the moment. As he descended down the steps, the crowd, which in an instant had recoiled in horror, returned to him stronger than ever before, recognizing the suit not as audacious, but powerful. It reinforced everything they wanted to believe about their new leader. The suit was a strong statement from an incredibly self confident individual.Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, known for being particularly unflappable, hadn't caught on to the moment, and was taken aback, as Obama formed before him, towering. Roberts stumbled over the beginning of the sacred oath:" solemnly swear that I will execute the office of...comically big suit..."Obama paused for a moment. Roberts collected and corrected himself. The oath was completed, and at the words "Congratulations, Mr. President," the crowd found themselves, every man woman and child, safely in Obama's pocket. A million voices rose, as one, into the air in a tumultuous cheer. Such a thunderous sound has not been heard in our nation's capitol since the city was shelled and set aflame by British soldiers in 1814, or perhaps, after the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1992. Large cannons were fired off, a massive 21 gun salute, as a ba[...]

44 thoughts on the inauguration


1. Can't believe Jimmy Carter is still alive
2. Bush Sr. not walking well
3. Hillary coming down the hall with Bill, but really practicing for 2016?
4. Michelle's dress is green, which I'm sure is really cool
5. Cheney's in a wheelchair and starting to look like Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life"
6. Judge Roberts botched the oath
7. Obama looks annoyed at Roberts for screwing up the oath
8. Roberts just made Obama's list
9. Obama's speech didn't move me, but it was still miles ahead of Dubya
10. Speaking of Dubya, there he is looking hella old
11. Looks like there are a lot of people there....
12. And it looks chilly
13. I feel much better now that Bush can no longer make any major decisions
14. I wonder what that note said that Bush left for Obama in the Oval Office
15. Watching Dubya get on that helicopter, and wave goodbye was very surreal
16. Sort of like the Wizard of Oz getting in that hot air balloon and floating away
17. I can't come back, I don't know how it works!
18. He'll land somewhere in Texas and it'll all be like a strange dream
19. And he'll be somebody else's problem now
20. And we never heard from him, or Laura, again...
21. I wonder what Cheney, Rummy, and Condi are going to do now?
22. Maybe start a barbershop quartet?
23. Eight years is, in fact, a long damn time
24. The Republican party is in complete disarray
25. Sarah Palin?!
26. I hope the new guy does a good job
27. It'll be interesting to see how his first 100 days go
28. Will Obama do as he promised and install a basketball court in the White House?
29. That would be badass
30. Will Lance Armstrong mountain bike with him?
31. These are the questions that now keep me up at night
32. Twelve more of these to go
33. Oh I should mention that I'm very happy for African Americans, what a moment!
34. And I'm not going to try to steal any of it
35. This moment was for all of us, but for some more than others
36. Did I mention Bush is gone? Wow.
37. But...Jeb lives on...
38. We all shine on
39. Like the moon and the stars and the sun
40. This is a good moment, and I think John Lennon would be happy
41. Oh, and I didn't like the inaugural poem
42. How do you write a bad poem like that in a moment like that?
43. Just sound profound
44. That's what I try to do

Talking Heads and the comedy of suits


Alright, so I just watched the Talking Heads concert movie "Stop Making Sense" and at one point David Byrne comes onstage in a giant suit and it's both mesmerizing and funny. I summed it up by calling it simply "badass."

But here's the thing, it turns out skinny guy in a large suit is funny in the same way fat guy in a little coat is funny! There's some kind of comic symmetry going on here.

Here's a full clip of Byrne in large suit:

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Kanye West lame on SNL


(image) What do Kanye West and Milli Vanilli have in common? They both were Grammy award winning artists, and they both need to lip sych? Kanye, the self proclaimed "voice of this generation" apparently needs a lot of technical help while singing live from his new album 808's. A disastrous performance on SNL has people now comparing him to Ashlee Simpson.

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“It’s a frustrating situation,” said Thomas Connor in the Chicago Sun-Times, “because here's an artist who stepped out on a limb to try something fairly interesting and maybe bold in the context of hip-hop.” Supposedly, Kanye uses an Autotuner to give his voice a “Vocoder-like effect,” but “judging by Saturday's performances, man, the ‘voice of this generation’ needs the help.”

Ahh, the bigger they are, the Kanye they fall.

Bush says he didn't compromise soul to be popular


In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News Channel, Bush also praised the national security team assembled by President-elect Barack Obama. - The AP.

I know this may be an oversimplification, a shortcut if you will in complex times, but Bush has proven to be no good at everything. And anything anyone he ever selected must also be no good. And so, on consecutive days, Bush and Cheney have both applauded Obama's administration picks, which makes me terribly nervous.

"We've got a major economic problem and I'm the president during the major economic problem," Bush said, addressing his historically low popularity ratings. "I mean, do people approve of the economy? No. I don't approve of the economy. ... I've been a wartime president. I've dealt with two economic recessions now. I've had, hell, a lot of serious challenges. What matters to me is I didn't compromise my soul to be a popular guy."

He didn't, but perhaps he should have. Thankfully, he's almost out the door and we can begin the process of blotting his name off everything, like that pharoah...the guy...with the shirt...what was his name? Apollo Creed?

Cheney lauds Obama's cabinet


"I must say, I think it's a pretty good team," Cheney said of Obama's national security choices, in a segment of the interview broadcast Tuesday on "Good Morning America."

I know it's really nothing, but it just seems odd to see someone like Cheney lauding Obama. A few on the left have already begun criticizing Obama's cabinet picks as center-to-hawkish. The endorsement by the Prince of Darkness can't help Obama's support on the far left.

I am quickly thinking back to the last Democratic president who had to triangulate his policies, and bend to the right. Welfare reform indeed.

Cheney mentioned just yesterday that Obama would appreciate the ways in which Bush and company have expanded executive power over the last eight years.

"Once they get here and they're faced with the same problems we deal with every day, then they will appreciate some of the things we've put in place," he said.

Strange bedfellows.

Book review: Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers"


I've read Malcolm Gladwell's new book "Outliers: the story of success" and if you're curious what I thought, I've written a review on Overall, I'd give the book a C. Like all Gladwell books, it is highly entertaining and the individual anecdotes are provoking. But with unsurprising conclusions, it reads more like a celebration of the author than a rigorous search for truth in a complex subject. That said, I'd be happy to hear your feedback.

Read my Helium review here.

In keeping with the success theme, I've moved on to "Talented is Overrated" a book by Geoff Colvin which Gladwell referenced. I hope to have my thoughts up shortly.

Book review: Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers


Why do certain people succeed? Why do some rise above others? What makes them, in effect, outliers, distant from the set of data they came from? These are the questions Malcolm Gladwell hopes to answer in his new book "Outliers: The Story of Success." Gladwell, the erudite New Yorker staff writer, has become familiar to many. His first two books, Tipping Point, and Blink, have sold nearly five million copies. They eloquently address complex pop-psychology topics while their creator became known as a writer of first talent, and an intellect with considerable ability to distill research.By this criteria, "Outliers" does not disappoint. Gladwell weaves entertaining anecdotes along with research findings, while attempting to shed light on what makes people successful. His approach is something like this: if you are from Canada, and dream of becoming a professional hockey player, much will depend on the month you were born. With this beginning, Gladwell seems to have discovered that success owes as much to luck as it does to skill. He expounds on this point over the next 285 pages.While a thoroughly enjoyable and easy read, I couldn't help but absorb Outliers with a sense of faux surprise. While it may be true that in America there persists the romantic idea that ability alone enables you climb the ladder, how many people really believe this, unless perhaps, you were born on top of the ladder already? The rest of us have all suffered under a supervisor who only had that position because that person was related to the owner of the company, or watched someone else get a chance to succeed because of some family connection. We all immediately recognize the injustice because we saw that they were on their way to outlierhood, while the rest of us cobbled along. Gladwell's genius, the thing he can do that we can't, is to articuatle this in a book you can consume over a weekend.Outliers is billed as "the international bestselling guru's" answer to "the ultimate question: why are people successful?" Tipping Point are Blink more pedestrian in their topics. They deal with such issues as why Sesame Street was so good at teaching children to read, and how our initial impressions are often more accurate than we think. But in Outliers, Gladwell is looking into the phenomena of exceptional people. Gladwell himself is one of them, and the conclusions he uncovers seem to be much more illuminating to him than for the rest of us. He seems more interested in understanding (himself) than truely explaining (the point of the book). The book is highly entertaining, but not all that revealing. That it takes luck, opportunity along with determination and skill to become an outlier, should surprise almost no one.A "sticky" issue, if I may borrow a term from Tipping Point, is determining who is an outlier. Or, perhaps more importantly, why more people should want to be outliers. People like Bill Gates, the Beatles, Ropert Oppenheimer assume an ultra-outlier status in the book. But lawyers, doctors and other professional careers are also addressed. Is the book about what gives rise to someone like Bill Gates? Or is it about how, hopefully, more people arrive at the upper class? The former topic is more compelling. The latter is more pragmatic. But Gladwell doesn't seem exactly sure which way he wants to go, however he definitely wants the conclusions to be applied so more people can become outliers.This is noble, except that the lessons are nebulous and cherry-picked. Take the case of the Beatles, whose success was attributed to skill and hard work honed by hours of playing Hamburg. There were many British bands who also had skill, and also worked for thousands of hours, why did we not hear about all of them? Why only a select few? For every one successful rock band, even those[...]

A Time to Regret


"There is a time for everything," the Teacher mused. "And a season for every activity under the heaven." The Bush administration has uprooted, it has built, it has laughed and danced, it has spoken and it has hated, and now it has entered the time for regret."The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq," President Bush reflected in an interview last week. "A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein."Today his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice echoed her boss's sentiments when she said, "I would give anything to be able to go back and to know precisely what we were going to find when we were there."As the sun sets on what many are already calling one of the worst tenures in presidential history, administration officials, starting with former members Richard Clark and Scott McClellan, have been using the media as a cathartic outlet, repenting and regretting in front of the public that has long since lost interest in what they have to say. Ever since the 2006 mid-term elections, it has been obvious that the American public was miles ahead of the Bush administration. Consider that at the time Donald Rumsfeld was still Secretary of Defense. He has few supporters these days, little over two years later. "I don't think we had the right structure," Rice said. "I'll very, very blunt. We tried in Iraq to give it to a single department, the Department of Defense."Bush administration officials now seem to be conducting a long overdue lessons-learned session, albeit on national television. This seems extra surprising because Bush, when asked in a 2004 debate for three mistakes he had made as president, could not come up with one. Now, suddenly, the man who won reelection on his resoluteness seems to be more thoughtful than we ever could have imagined. While he seems to have opened his mind to hindsight, he still seems unable to reconcile contingency plans.When asked whether he would have gone to war if the intelligence had said Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction, which, by the way, it did say before coming under heavy pressure from the administration to make a link, Bush said, "That's an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can't do."Things certainly can't be outdone, but it would not have hurt matters had the administration taken a few moments, back in, say, late 2002, or early 2003, to consider some alternate situations. What if Iraq, as many were saying, did not have weapons of mass destruction? Should we give the weapons inspectors more time? Was Iraq really an imminent threat? Was there any link between Iraq and the attacks on 9/11? What if we invaded and we were not greeted as liberators? Etc. It should be job of those in leadership positions, not to plan for the best case scenario, but to consider the worst case. But, of course, to this administration, even before 9/11, there was one singular foreign policy goal, to deal with Saddam Hussein. He was unfinished business, a mess left over from Bush's father. As many insiders have pointed out, 9/11 was simply the leverage needed to enact the overthrow of the Iraqi government. That is the great tragedy, the irreparable regret, that this administration boldly moved to solve a problem that was no real problem at all, and left the main problems of domestic issues and international terrorism, to go unheeded. In all this, those rebuked by the 43rd administration, including Colin Powell, Richard Clarke, General Shinseki, and even former President George H.W. Bush, have been exonorated while those who so carelessly orchistrated executive poilicy over the last eight years, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld, to nam[...]

Quantum of Solace review


Check it out here on Helium. Vote it up if you give a damn! :)

Hannity & Colmes to split


(image) Fox News Liberal Alan Colmes is finally done being a human straw man for Sean Hannity and has decided to leave the top rated "Hannity & Colmes show." Coming behind Hannity, not just in title, but in every conceivable metric, has finally has lost its luster for Colmes who announced his decision yesterday.

“I approached Bill Shine (FNC’s
Senior Vice President of Programming) earlier this year about wanting to move on after 12 years to develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network," Colmes said in a statement. "Although it’s bittersweet to leave one of the longest marriages on cable news, I’m proud that both Sean (Hannity) and I remained unharmed after sitting side by side, night after night for so many years."

"Although my ass does hurt a little,” Colmes admitted.

Rumor has it that Hannity will go it alone after Colmes departure, a move that will change nothing about the format of the show.

"I guess I'll need to find someone else to grab my coffee and sweet rolls," Hannity joked after hearing the news. "Seriously, Alan, if you could just let me know when you're gone, that'd be great."

Hannity then gave Colmes a vicious wedgie, as is their spontaneous ritual before every show.

Colmes, the show's token liberal voice, won praise for his ability to hold a conversation with conservatives. However, he was widely criticized by liberals as too deferential in comparison to the often bombastic Hannity. He was famously lambasted in Al Frankin's book "Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them" as the whipping boy on the "
Hannity & Colmes" show. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. compared the show's format to a Harlem Globetrotters game in which it was Colmes job to loose every argument.

Fox producers have long been known to seek out nonthreatening liberal commentators to act as foils to their superior conservative dominatrix. Colmes is in a group which includes Juan Williams, Tammy Bruce, and Ed Koch. In addition to being non-threatening, they are often openly pro-Republican. Bruce and Koch voted for Bush in 2004. After Bush's famous "Mission Accomplished" speech in 2003, Colmes wondered, "Now that the war in Iraq is over, shouldn't the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"

Good one, Alan! Happy trails.

The New and Improved New Deal


Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal: a fiercely independent punk group, or the words on every pundit's lips these days? With the economy in virtual free fall, and Democrats riding a tide of public support into the White House and congress, it's starting to look like 1932 all over again.A recent cover of Time Magazine had an iconic photograph of FDR in an open-top car slightly altered to show president-elect Obama, over the title "The New New Deal."George Packer, writing for the New Yorker, recently predicted an era of “new liberalism” to begin shortly, and examined Obama alongside Roosevelt.The parallels are strikingly similiar. Obama was elected on a wave of issues, as the public happily ushered the George W. Bush out of the White House. Like FDR, Obama faces a staggering financial crisis. Like FDR, Obama has surrounded himself with pragmatists and intellectuals to deal with the problem. Many have already guessed that the 44th president's opening moves will match those of the 32nd, most notably, in something similar to FDR's famous, and controversial, New Deal.The New Deal was the name Roosevelt gave to a series of economic programs he initiated during the great depression. It represented a sizable shift in domestic and economic policy, namely: increased federal government control over the economy, money, regulation, and production. Upon accepting the 1932 Democratic nomination for president, Roosevelt pledged himself to “a new deal for the American people.” This deal was to replace the extremely unpopular Old Deal of laissez-faire economics which had led to the stock market crash in 1929 and an unemployment rate of 25%. A little known fact is that the expression “new deal” was borrowed from the title of a Stuart Chase book “A New Deal: 10 Reasons Why the Old Deal Sucks” published earlier in the year. The New Deal was a blend of pragmatism and experiment. Its policies drew from ideas proposed earlier in the 20th century. Roosevelt formed what he called the Brain Trust, a group of advisors to assist in recovery policies. Many believed government action was the only viable solution from, as General Hugh Johnson put it, “the murderous doctrine of savage and wolfish individualism, looking to dog-eat-dog and devil take the hindmost!” The New Deal was phased out after America entered World War Two in 1941. What followed as a period of high times and American economic dominance. A Square Deal was enacted 1952 by President Eisenhower, followed by President Johnson’s Great Society Deal in 1965. This was ebbed by President Nixon’s Raw Deal in 1972, President Reagan’s No Deal in 1983, and President Bush’s Deal or No Deal in 2005. Now President-elect Barack Obama stands with his hands on the arc of history, ready to bend it back towards Roosevelt’s policies in what may become a New and Improved New Deal for the 21st century. Will it bring us out of our current depression? Many conservatives, to whom FDR’s New Deal has, for years, been a rallying cry, say no, and claim that even the original policies did not turn the economy around, so why try them again? The lasting social institutions erected by New Deal policies have been targets for conservatives for years, culminating in President Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security in 2005. That may prove to be the high-water-mark of conservativism for a while. Once again, at the crest of another economic crisis, the Democrats find themselves with their hands firmly on the wheel of history.[...]

Doctors perform miracle windpipe stem cell another country


From the AP:

LONDON – Doctors have given a woman a new windpipe with tissue grown from her own stem cells, eliminating the need for anti-rejection drugs. "This technique has great promise," said Dr. Eric Genden, who did a similar transplant in 2005 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. That operation used both donor and recipient tissue. Only a handful of windpipe, or trachea, transplants have ever been done.

If successful, the procedure could become a new standard of treatment, said Genden, who was not involved in the research.

America will now begin playing catchup in this area as well. Such medical miracles were banished from the homeland years ago. Federal funding for medical research involving the creation or destruction of human embryos through the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health have been forbidden by law since the Republican Revolution of 1995. On August 9, 2001 Bush signed an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for the 71 existing "lines" of stem cells. On July 19, 2006, Bush used his veto power for the first time to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

Doctors transplant windpipe with stem cells - Yahoo! News

Obama meets Bush


(image) Today, there could not have been a wilder juxtaposition, as president elect Barack Obama met with the second most powerful man in America, President George W. Bush. Obama got his first look at the Oval Office, and discussed transition issues with the President. It was a formal first step since Obama's campaign victory, as Bush begins to finally fade away into oblivion.

Obama appears to be wasting no time during his transition. A few days into his election he met with economic leaders to discuss the nation's faltering economy. He then held a press conference under a seal which read "the office of the president elect." It was refreshing to see the would-be president eagerly taking the reigns and candidly confronting the issue. He calmly answered questions about the economy--an unimaginable move for our former president.
For his part, Obama does not seem to be plagued with a disease that gripped the man he is replacing. Namely, laziness.

Although Obama is preparing to take over a country facing massive challenges after eight years of severe neglect, he seems anxious to confront the problems we face. He also seems ready to engage the country on an respectful level, rather than simply leveraging base emotions, and, failing that, vanishing from the scene altogether as Bush has done over the last few years.

President Bush can now move on to doing the things he loves best, without interruption due to national issues. Executive order, for the good of the nation, says he is not to be touched, interrupted, taunted, or interacted with in any way. His name will be removed from all history books, and any who utter his name or refer to his presidency will face severe punishment. The last eight years henceforth will be referenced as: the great unspeakable.

Bush can now devote his full, albeit short, attention span to the following activities: wasting time, clearing brush, shooting the shit, mountain biking. He is free to continue destroying everything he touches, holding back science, thwarting intellectualism, cursing the French, and fighting the war on terror with the following caveat: these actions, and anything else he ever does, will be forever confined to his ranch in Crawford, TX.

Meanwhile, Obama, and the rest of the nation, will attempt to clean up the incredible, incalculable mess left behind by the 43rd president the great unspeakable.



Election day sees Barack Obama elected as the first African American President of the United States!

Huge, nation-wide win in every area:
52% of the popular vote and 350+ EC votes!

Historic end to longest, most expensive presidential campaign ever!

Sarah Palin returns to Alaska!

Pictures from the Democratic victory party in downtown St. Paul.






Why do so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant?


Why do so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant? That's the provocative question Margaret Talbot tries to answer, in one of the most poignant articles I have read this year in the New Yorker. She writes:

Social liberals in the country’s “blue states” tend to support sex education and are not particularly troubled by the idea that many teen-agers have sex before marriage, but would regard a teen-age daughter’s pregnancy as devastating news. And the social conservatives in “red states” generally advocate abstinence-only education and denounce sex before marriage, but are relatively unruffled if a teen-ager becomes pregnant, as long as she doesn’t choose to have an abortion.

It's an interesting dichotomy. And one that also hits home for millions of families in America. Using data from Mark Regnerus's book "Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers," she shows that "religion is a good indicator of attitudes towards sex, but a poor one of sexual behavior." The vast majority of white evangelical adolescents (74%) say that they believe in abstaining from sex before marriage. However, that group begins having sex earlier than any other except one (black Protestants), and are significantly less likely than other groups to use contraception.

Talbot looks into why, if obviously the biological drive is the same in adolescents across groups, things are so much different in evangelical circles. The article, and Regnerus's book, is well worth reading for the findings. Contributing factors include unhealthy a lot of unhealthy information about sex including feelings that the sex drive is evil, fear that having protection on-hand will send the wrong message, information from the abstinence movement that says condoms wont actually protect you from pregnancy or STDs.

Deterrants for teen-age pregnancy include an observant religious life (not just going to chuch, but praying at home, etc.), a home life in-which both biological parents live, teenagers who have a sense that their parents listen to them and engage in activities with them, teenagers who have a sense of goals (college, a career, a family), and using logic and reasoning to solve problems rather than just emmotion.

Tito the Builder vs Joe the Plumber smackdown


What if Tito the Builder and Joe the Plumber had a fight to the death?Two go in, one comes out!Tito!Joe!Fight!Real name Tito: Tito Munoz Joe: Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher Advantage: Push Represents Tito: Hispanics Joe: White middle-class America Advantage: Tito Fled from Tito: Columbia Joe: Texas Advantage: JoeKey swing states impacted Tito: Arizona, New Mexico, Florida Joe: Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania Advantage: Joe Campaigns withTito: Sarah Palin Joe: John McCain Advantage: Tito Moment of fame Tito: interviewed on Hannity and Colmes Joe: questioned Barack Obama's tax planAdvantage: Joe Shtick Tito: wears sunglasses all the time Joe: bald Advantage: Tito What he should be doing Tito: Business owner Joe: Plumber's helperAdvantage: Tito Approach Tito: Pissed off Joe: Cool Advantage: Tito Has probably hadTito: too much coffeeJoe: too much time on his handsAdvantage: JoeLooks like Tito: Pancho Villa Joe: Michael ChiklisAdvantage: Push Has signed with a PR firm Tito: Unknown Joe: Yes, for "a possible record deal with a major label, personal appearances and corporate sponsorships." Advantage: Tito Currently owes for back taxes Tito: Unknown Joe: Aware, unconcerned Advantage: JoeHas recently impressed Tito: Sean HannityJoe: Conservative women Advantage: Push--there are no winners here Finishing move Tito: Columbian necktieJoe: The ol' wrench in the eye Advantage: Tito Strategy Tito: Keep yelling until cameras find you Joe: Put yourself in Obama's path Advantage: Joe Will be coming to WashingtonTito: One way or anotherJoe: If McCain winsAdvantage: TitoBiggest accomplishmentTito: Came to America from Columbia and now owns own business Joe: Asked, six years ago during job interview, about someday owning a business Advantage: Tito Will be back in Tito: every four years Joe: every time blue collar workers need a voiceAdvantage: Tito Secretly wants to campaign with Tito: Dora the ExplorerJoe: Michael Chiklis Advantage: JoeCould be the lost member of Tito: The Village People Joe: Right Said FredAdvantage: Joe TotalTito: 10Joe: 8 Winners: Joe, Tito Losers: McCain, Palin, America[...]

Weekend reading: Obama's coming victory


We're now into single digits--nine days out from election day. McCain was on Meet the Press this morning to say he was "happy" about where his campaign was and insisting that he will win. But the polls are saying something very different. Here's an indication of how bad things are going for Palin/McCain: Georgia has gone to toss-up status according to McCain's lead is just under three points in...Georgia! Over at Newsweek Markos Moulitsas has an article for the November 3 issue that starts off "On Nov. 4, Barack Obama will be elected as the next president of the United States." No ambiguity there at all. More and more analysts are willing to bet it all that Obama will win on November 4, and win big. As he says, "the big question is, will Democrats nationwide simply 'win' the night—or will they deliver an electoral drubbing so thorough that it signals the utter rejection of conservative ideology and kills the notion that America is a "center-right" country?"What has happened since 2000 and 2004? The answer is probably that Republicans actually never had a very strong grip on the country. George W. Bush didn't even win the popular vote in 2000. The Supreme Court had to stop the Florida recount and declare him the winner. Florida pushed Bush over the goal line by one electoral vote. In 2004 Bush defeated Kerry by 35, which was, except for 2000, still the closest election since 1968. Looking back, it seems clear that Karl Rove and company knew they were walking a thin line, which is why every issue had to be politicized and leveraged for maximum impact.But now all of that appears to be ending. If current polls are accurate, Obama could win 381 electoral votes. That's without Georgia's 15. That includes states like Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, and New Mexico. All states which voted for Bush in 2004. Given the toss-up status of the country, politically, in 2000 and 2004, and add in the complete failure of Republicans over the last eight years, and you have the makings of a landslide. I can't remember the last time a party made such large gains in both the executive election, and in the congressional races. Along with Obama coming to the White House, the Democrats stand to win up to nine more seats in the Senate, and add to their majority in the House.I always thought McCain was the best candidate for the Republican ticket this fall. McCain once showed concern for immigrants, and disgust for corporate greed. He was known as a pragmatic reformer with a real track-record to run on, including everything from immigration reform to challenging Department of Defense officials on torture. Not to mention McCain's own, powerful, personal story. As David Brooks writes in the New York Times, "His campaign seemed the perfect vehicle to explain how this old approach applied to a new century with new problems — a century with widening inequality, declining human capital, a fraying social contract, rising entitlement debt, corporate authoritarian regimes abroad and soft corporatist collusion at home."Immediately after Obama won the Democratic nomination last summer, the McCain camp started positioning themselves as reformers. Reformers of their own party, and of the country. They seemed to understand two important facts: that the country was hungry for change, and disgusted with anything associated with George W. Bush. But as Brooks points out, McCain "never articulated a governing philosophy." All of his tactics were about "how to p[...]

McCain promises "bold new coal age"


(image) I was just struck by how much McCain has been out talking about coal lately. Every time I catch one of his rallies he manages to woo the coal vote.

Yesterday, where ever he was, he said something about standing on top of the largest coal deposit in the world. Is this coal stuff a way to break our dependence on foreign oil?

It's just that, well...coal? Nothing says visionary like...coal, does it? What's next? Railroads? Manifest destiny?

Greenspan Shrugged: shocked disbelief


It has been said: blessed is the man proven right in his own lifetime. What, then, do we say about Alan Greenspan, a man who has watched his legacy as a financial "maestro" and reputation as an intellectual mastermind crumble with the tumbling economy. Summoned before Congress yesterday, Greenspan faced the scorn of Democratic leaders, harsh questioning, and admitting to making "a mistake" when it came to guiding the economy into our troubled times.Even the New York Times could barely contain its contempt for the man, beginning its headline article about the hearings like this:For years, a Congressional hearing with Alan Greenspan was a marquee event. Lawmakers doted on him as an economic sage. Markets jumped up or down depending on what he said. Politicians in both parties wanted the maestro on their side. But on Thursday, almost three years after stepping down as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a humbled Mr. Greenspan admitted that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortgage lending.Greenspan, 82, is now blamed by critics and many economists, for the financial crisis sending the economy into depression. They say he encouraged housing bubble prices by keeping interest rates too low for too long and failed to support regulation which would have curbed fraudulent lending practices. “You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others,” said Representative Henry Waxman of California, chairman of the committee. “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”Greenspan conceded: “Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”The ideology in question was Greenspan's zealous adherence to Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy. In 1963 Greenspan wrote: Capitalism is based on self-interest and self-esteem; it holds integrity and trustworthiness as cardinal virtues and makes them pay off in the marketplace, thus demanding that men survive by means of virtue, not vices. It is this superlatively moral system that the welfare statists propose to improve upon by means of preventative law, snooping bureaucrats, and the chronic goad of fear.Or, to strip the rhetoric away and put it into working-class terms: the markets regulate all. The markets are their own highest form of ethics. Thus, what do we need regulation for? The markets regulate themselves.It is the writing of a naive fundamentalist, one who happily believes one system can solve all problems, even the problems it creates, written by one who would become the most powerful figure in modern economics. In the 1950s Greenspan found his way into Ayn Rand's inner circle, a group known ostentatiously as The Collective. It was a group who fancied themselves intellectuals, discussing and dreaming up financial utopias that would also free people of old moral and ethical constraints. Rand's book "Atlas Shrugged" was published in 1957. The book grandly suggests that man's highest virtue is the morality of self-interest. Capitalism, built on self-interest, had long been criticized for being uncaring and selfish. Here was a book that confidently posited that capitalism was its own grand morality. It quickly, masterfully, bridged the gap between being selfish and being ethical. [...]

WTF: Jeff Dubay's cocaine charge


What has happened to Minnesota since Labor Day?? The Twins lost their one game play off, 1-0 to the White Sox, and eliminated their post-season hopes. The Vikings are HORRIBLE. Michele Bachmann is a moron. And now KFAN radio host Jeff Dubay, of the "PA & Dubay" morning show was arrested for posession of cocaine.

What the hell is this?

Dubay, driving with a suspended license, was pulled over by a Maplewood police officer. He then threw something out the passenger window (dude..!!!). It happened to be a bag of crack cocaine and a drug pipe. He has been charged with 5th degree possession of a controlled substance.

I'm only really writing about this because I dislike the PA & Dubay show. Actually, it wasn't Dubay that bugged me, but Paul Allen (PA), and his inane idioms ad nausium like "Long story LONGER!"

Cocaine is for the Marv Alberts of the world. The Joe Bucks of the world. Maybe even the Thom Brenammen's of the world. But certainly not for small-time radio personalities. Stick to shrooms.

Bachmann's "macaca" moment


Usually when politicians talk, all that can hope to be discerned is doublespeak and talking points. They are so scripted and mechanical, news anchors have to try extremely hard to pry anything real from their lips. This was not the case when Michele Bachmann decided to make her first appearance on “Hardball” a memorable one. She was very, very excited to talk about terrorists, leftists, liberals, and anti-Americans, combining them all into some strange soup, and stirring it by dropping Barack Obama’s name into the middle, and adding a layer of white foam from her frothy mouth. All host Chris Matthews had to do was ask the obvious follow-up questions, and by the end of the interview Bachmann’s re-election chances had veered into the darkness. The show opened with Matthews playing a clip from a McCain “robo call” linking Obama and liberals to terrorists like Weather Underground co-founder Bill Ayers. Bachmann was asked to comment on this. She too attempted to connect Obama with Ayers and even complained that the (liberal) news media had not done enough to expose this relationship. When Matthews asked why this was any concern, given the other important problems this country is facing, Bachmann again said that Obama’s associations with Reverend Wright, and Ayers call into question his character. But then she made a subtle transition by also mentioning his liberal associations—Joe Biden, Harry Reed, Nancy Pelosi, essentially lumping liberals, terrorists, and anti-Americans all into one happy family. Matthews then asked, “If you have liberal views, does that mean you have anti-American views? What’s the connection? I don’t get the connection? What’s the connection between liberal and leftist and anti-American? If you’re a liberal are you anti-American?”Bachmann claimed that people like Ayers, Rev. Wright, and even Michele Obama were “over the top anti-American.”Matthews asked “So you believe that Barack Obama may have anti-American views?” Bachmann was so excited to answer this question that she cut Matthews off at the end with an enthusiastic, “Absolutely! I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.”Matthews then attempted to help Bachmann clarify what she meant. Are all liberals anti-American? Bachmann continued to hammer away at Obama’s associations, including Tony Rezko. “I thought he was a business guy, I didn’t know he was a leftest,” Matthews said.“Yeah, that’s troubling too,” Bachmann said.When asked how many others in Congress Bachmann suspects could be anti-American, she called for a news media investigation to run a “penetrating exposé” and find out who in Congress has pro-American or anti-American views.Bachmann’s statements don’t require much commentary, but Colin Powell found them interesting and derided them as “nonsense” on October 19. “This business of…a congressman from Minnesota who’s going around saying, ‘Let’s examine all congressmen to see who’s pro-America and who’s not pro-America. We have got to stop this kind of nonsense and pull ourselves together and remember that our great strength is in our unity and our diversity.” He also stated that his decision to endorse Obama was driven, in part, by comments like those made by Representative Michele Bachmann.Powell's thoughts aside, Bachmann he has always been known as a hard-line conservative. She is demonstratively pro-Bush, embarrassing herse[...]

How McCain Blew It


As this election comes to a merciful close, I can’t help but think that McCain could have won this thing. As a Republican with a brand linked to reform and pragmatism, he was the best in his party for the times. Guiliani, Huckabee, Thompson, and Romney, were all far too conservative, ideological, or political to turn swing voters in the middle. McCain, a guy who was openly mentioned as a possible VP candidate for John Kerry in 2004, was perfect. He also had the added bonus of Hillary Clinton exposing Barack Obama’s weaknesses prior to the general campaign. McCain could have won this thing, everyone knows that now, and he blew it.Remember how Obama lost state after state at the end of the Democratic primaries? Remember how Hillary, found her niche, reinvented herself as a working class hero, and chided him for not being able to “close” the deal? The minute she finally had to cede the nomination to Obama, McCain should have picked up the torch she was carrying and ran with it full bore. He should have rolled up his sleeves and waded into Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan—states battered by job losses and a faltering economy—and vowed to fight for them in Washington. Looking back, I’m stunned he didn’t seize the chance to honestly address the needs of three pivotal swing states and champion them. Instead he pulled out his maverick card, but never made the connection with the average voter what that should mean to them. Hillary--with her years of experience, with her husband’s knowledge of the presidency--had made the connection that she was going to be people’s surrogates in Washington. Those desperate for a voice found it in her. But McCain ended up becoming a bumper-sticker politician and nothing more. Even without the looming economic collapse, he could have shown that he understood the needs of the average person in a way Obama has never quite been able to connect on. Obama can’t be everything—he’s philosophical, he’s intellectual, he’s holistic. McCain can’t touch him in any of those areas, and Hillary couldn’t either. But McCain should have carved out some area of his own—as a fighter for the a common man, a reformer for the middle class.And then there was Sarah Palin. It’s obvious why McCain picked her, but can that decision be defended on anything other than political grounds? It took little effort for Katie Couric to expose her as nothing more than an amateur one step away from the most powerful office in the world, and for SNL to turn her into a laughable caricature. McCain’s selection of her, while creating much media buzz, and augmenting his “maverick-y”image, left him open to the accusation that he is too unwieldy for such important times. Can anyone really posit that Sarah Palin is ready to run the country? Such an idea should scare the hell out of anyone who loves this country, and should indict John McCain as treasonous. Yes, as McCain said in the last debate, maybe she does understand families with special needs children. Maybe she is a reformer in Alaska. But does any of that prepare her to run a country? Finally, there was the economic meltdown. McCain’s dramatic suspension of his campaign, his appeal to Obama to delay the debate so that he could go to Washington and oversee the formation of the $700 billion bailout bill, only to do nothing, show up at the debate as promised, and rubber stamp the bill a few days later, [...]