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Nut In New Hampshire.

Friday, November 30, 2007 by Michael Reynolds

Some wackjob has taken hostages at a small Clinton campaign office in New Hampshire. Cops are saying he's a middle-aged white male, salt-and-pepper hair, and a history of emotional problems. Hopefully this goes away peacefully.

Apropos of nothing, has anyone seen Mike Gravel around?

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Stem Cell. [updated]

by Michael Reynolds

There's been much triumphalism on the right over news that Dr. James Thomson has managed to nudge adult cells to become pluripotent cells -- stem cells. He does this now without destroying an embryo. Thus, no controversy. Thus, according to many, most recently Charles Krauthammer today, vindicating George W. Bush's decision to forbid the US of federal money for embryo-destroying research.

Just one problem. Had Mr. Bush's prohibition been in place just a few years earlier we'd never have reached this place. Dr. Thomson's initial research, the research that proved that stem cells could be isolated and grown -- leading to the hope that they could be used to form other sorts of tissue -- involved the destruction of embryos. (Blastocysts.)

In other words, had Mr. Bush dealt with the issue just a few years earlier . . . we might be nowhere today.

I never had much of a problem with the destruction of embryos in this way, particularly since the embryos in question were leftovers from in vitro fertilization. I'm happy to avoid controversy now. But the lesson to be drawn is not that ideologues should hold sway over science. The lesson is, rather, that left alone science will do what science does. In this case a superior method of producing pluripotent cells has been discovered. Kudos to Dr. Thomson. The man is a genius. The right-wing triumphalists? Not so much.

update: Michael Kinsley making similar points, and others as well:

Finally, the position a politician takes on an issue tells you something about his or her character, values and intellect. And that understanding doesn't disappear even if the issue itself does. Over the past six years, Bush and most Republicans in Congress have done their best to stop medical research that could cure many diseases, including one that I have. They claimed that morality and ethics required no less, yet they demonstrated by their indifference toward in vitro fertilization that they couldn't possibly be serious about this. Now they hope that science will spring them from the trap they walked into with full knowledge. Bush Administration apologists even say the President deserves credit because he directed research away from embryonic stem cells and encouraged scientists to look for more acceptable alternatives. In fact, the new research would not have been possible without the kind involving embryonic stem cells, which Bush believes is immoral.

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Speaking Of Mr. Hyde.

Thursday, November 29, 2007 by Michael Reynolds

Okay, this is interesting:

Hyde, the courageous hero of impeachment, in fact had cold feet -- freezing cold feet. The "real" story can be found buried on pages 484-7 of Bob Woodward's 1999 book, Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate.

No one, including Woodward's editors at the Washington Post, appears to have noticed this brief but explosive tale, known as the "Four Bobs" story. It was not published in the paper's excerpts and no one wrote a story about it.

What it shows is that Hyde thought impeachment stank and he tried to get it killed before it even reached the House floor.

As Woodward tells it, and as confirmed by Huffington Post, just after the House Judiciary Committee voted for the articles of impeachment on December 12, 1998, Hyde, the chairman, privately asked California Democrat Howard Berman to call him at home later after work.

That evening, Hyde outlined to Berman a complex scenario to substitute censure for impeachment: "You've got to go to Bob Strauss" a wheeler-dealer Texas Democrat with bipartisan contacts, Hyde said. Strauss, in turn, was to go to former Republican House leader Bob Michel and former Senate majority leader Bob Dole. "Then they can go to Bob Livingston [who was in line to become House Speaker] and say, 'We've got to have a censure option for the good of the party.' And then Livingston will visit with me and I won't put up much of a fight."

Huh. Would have been smart. The GOP still hasn't washed off the stink of their coup attempt. Censure would have been appropriate. The GOP declined to be reasonable, obliterated a good portion of their moral authority, and propelled Bill Clinton into the mid-60's in the polls.

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Ill Of The Dead. [updated]

by Michael Reynolds

Don't speak ill of the dead. And poof! There goes history.

Stalin was a guy with a neat mustache and . . . and that's pretty much it. Hitler? Liked dogs. Castro? The man loved a good cigar. Oh wait, Fidel's not dead yet, is he? Damn, that's a shame.

Okay, okay, yeah, I know, I'm going with extreme examples. Stalin? Hitler? Come on, Reynolds.

Fine. Then how about Nixon? The opening to China and . . . and that's all. Nothing else to see here, move along.

All this apropos of a little dust-up with Pat at stubbornfacts.us. He has come to praise Henry Hyde, and to bury him. And he objects to me bringing up former Rep. Hyde's five year affair with a married woman. He not only objects so strongly he deleted the original comment, he went on to delete an oblique reference to the fact that he deleted the comment, in which I made the point that I'd be willing to bet Pat's obit for Bill Clinton would include the word "Lewinsky."

Here's Pat's addenda in response to my comments. First this:
UPDATE: I will be deleting comments which gratuitously speak ill of the dead.

Later, this:
. . . and, as per our standard policy, comments which complain about our comment policy.

Well, "speaking ill of the dead," that's just bullshit. See also: every history book ever written. Hyde wasn't grandpa, he was a very public figure. A historical figure, as of early this morning.

Now, let's go on a little hypocrisy hunt, shall we? First victim is . . . wait a minute. It's, um, me. Here's me getting bitchy and dismissive at Ambivablog on the subject of a politician's sex life:

In any event, I'm not supporting Hillary because she's an advocate for women, or Saint Hillary. I'm supporting her because I think she'd be a good president. I don't give a rat's ass about anyone's marriages, personal habits, peccadillos -- hers, Bill's, Rudi's, anyone's. I want someone who can do the job and fix this mess. I don't care if Beelzebub is running, so long as he can do the job.
Gosh, Michael, that seems pretty clear. You don't care about anyone's sex life. And yet you felt the need to remind Pat's readers that Clinton impeachment prosecutor and all-around moral scold, Henry Hyde, was in fact an adulterer.

But, hark! I spy another hypocrite:
But we aren't buying a product. We're buying, ultimately, a human being's judgment. That's the real job of the President, to make decisions which can't or won't be made by people lower down the food chain. The state of that human being's marriage plays a huge role in the effectiveness of their judgment. It is part of the product, frankly.
Guess who? Our good friend, Pat. Pat thinks personal morality is very important in judging the value of a man or woman. It's "part of the product."

So, for those of you following along at home, we have a Democrat (me) arguing that the Clinton's sex life is irrelevant, while a Republican (Pat) takes the opposite tack. And when it comes to Henry Hyde the Democrat argues that his sex life is relevant, while the Republican takes the opposite position.

Now, I could sit here and parse and weasel and twist until I had constructed a case that in some way drew "important" distinctions that, by tortured logic rationalized my hypocrisy. But I think, no. I think instead I'll admit it was hypocrisy.


Will Stubborn Facts refrain from making comments that "gratuitously speak ill of the dead,"
when the dead is Bill Clinton? Will SidewaysMencken suddenly discover the importance of personal morality when the cooling corpse belongs to Newt Gingrich? I'm going to guess "No," and "Yes," respectively.

[update] Pat responds in greater detail, and in his usual gentlemanly tone, at his own blog.

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Debate and Nookiegate.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 by Michael Reynolds

Jesus Lord, what a bunch of tools. McCain and the Seven Dwarfs.

Romney: How does this man not set your flesh a-crawlin'? He's a reptile. In my long life I've never seen a politician who more blatantly abandoned his original beliefs for political advantage. He has fewer genuine moral convictions than I do, and that's just not right. Remember that old science fiction TV series, "V?" With the lizards who passed as human but ate live rats? Ladies and Gentlemen: Mitt Romney.

Giuliani: Maybe he was just off his game due to the breaking news that he charged various obscure New York City agencies for the cost of security in order to conceal his adulterous affair with Judith Nathan, the third Mrs. Giuliani. But, really? This is the GOP frontrunner? Really? Compare his Vader-effect on the GOP debate stage to Hillary's at the Democratic debates. Hillary's twice the Vader he is. Hillary can lower the temperature in the room by twenty degrees.

Thompson: This guy was the Great Conservative Hope? His specialty seems to be mumbling scripted laugh lines to the podium. You're still not off-book, Fred?

McCain: If I was twice the man I am, I wouldn't be half the man he is. But it's not working, John. It's just not. You seem scrappy and a bit old-man-cranky. You ought to be president, probably, but it's not working. You seem old and irrelevant, though it pains me to say it.

Huckabee: Romney is a soulless, creepy, manipulator. But he'd probably be a competent executive. Huckabee seems like the nicest guy on earth. Unfortunately he's a fucking loon. A nice loon. But a loon. He has no more business being in the White House than my Labrador Retriever, Goofy. The man thinks the earth is 6000 years old. He thinks if we outlawed abortion we wouldn't need Mexicans. He pledges to bring about energy independence in 10 years.

Paul: The Kucinich of the GOP. A big bunch of wacky in a small package. Given the chance to disavow the conspiracy nuts who've infested his campaign like a case of crabs, he declines.

Tancredo: I forget. What's his issue? Oh, right: Mexicans. Did someone feed this guy a bad tamale once? Was there a disastrous affair with a hot Mexican senorita who broke his heart? An unfortunate experience involving tequila?

Hunter: Why is it the Democrats only have one irrelevant space-waster and the GOP has three? And whatever happened to Alan Keyes? I thought he was going to run. He's crazy as hell, but at least he's entertaining.

Bottom line? With the exception of McCain, this is a genuinely nauseating bunch of men. Literally nauseating. Bottom-dwelling creeps. Defenders of torture. Gay-bashers. Hypocrites. Immigrant-bashers. (And just to remind you, I voted for Nixon, so I have a strong stomach.) I was willing to give Giuliani a listen at one point, but the more I see of him, the less I find to admire. And by the way, mister mayor, if you think your response to Anderson Cooper's question about your little Nookiegate scandal-aborning is going to fly, you're as crazy as Hunter.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007 by Michael Reynolds

Your Score: the Wit

(71% dark, 30% spontaneous, 31% vulgar)

your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer.

Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

The 3-Variable Funny Test!

Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

H/T: Done With Mirrors

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