Penis Pump Mistaken for Bomb

Add penis pumps to the list of things not to take through airport security, especially if traveling with your mother.

Lieberman Campaigns with Republicans and Faces New Problems

Facing a tight race against Ned Lamont, Joe Lieberman has had a couple of set backs this week. The Hartford Courant reports that Lieberman’s name will be fifth on the ballot. Consider his name recognition I don’t know if this will be a major factor. Probably a more significant factor will be Lamont receiving the endorsement of the United Auto Workers.

What is Joe Lieberman doing on the campaign trail? Jame Hamsher reports he is out campaigning with Republicans. Ned Lamont is appearing at a fund raiser for Katrina victims, and has criticized Lieberman for not doing enough to hold George Bush accountable for his failures on Katrina and for agreeing to place FEMA under the control of the Department of Homeland Security.

Sam Seder of Air America Featured in Boston Globe

Perhaps its because I live in an area without over the air broadcast, but I generally have the feeling Air America Radio is ignored beyond the blogoshere. I was happy to see them receive extensive coverage in the Boston Globe today in Failure is an option: Despite his best efforts to sabotage himself, Sam Seder is finding success on Air America:

Seder says he became more committed politically after 9/11 and the US invasion of Iraq. When Garofalo asked whether he’d like to cohost a show on a new liberal radio network, Seder said sure. The idea of a national platform from which to poke fun at the Bush administration seemed appealing.

Just before it launched in March 2004, Air America hosted a party in New York to introduce its on-air talent. Several of the speakers wound up the crowd by bashing the Bush administration, but when it was Seder’s turn to talk, he pretended to have laryngitis.

“Al Franken was the MC, and it took him a second to get that it was a joke,” says Maron. “It was brilliant.”

Franken was Air America’s marquee name. Most listeners had never heard of Seder, whose “Majority Report” was promoted this week to the midmorning slot — 9 a.m. to noon — on more than 70 stations across the country, including New York and Los Angeles. (Inexplicably, Air America’s Boston affiliate broadcasts the show from 1-4 a.m.)

Seder attracted his audience with inane riffs on the news, chats with prominent bloggers, and interviews with upstart Democratic candidates, including Ned Lamont, whom Seder had on long before his campaign against Lieberman was taken seriously.

“When Sam started, he was kind of an asterisk,” says Markos Moulitsas Zuniga , creator of the popular Daily Kos website. “But he’s in capital letters now. He’s good at finding life’s absurdities, and politics is a target-rich environment.”

The secret to Seder’s success is his preparation. He arrives at his office — a cramped space with bookshelves lined with works by Noam Chomsky, Stanley Greenberg, and Bob Hope — several hours early to scour the Web for stories. He and his producer then prioritize the day’s news, leading with the items likeliest to outrage conservatives — or, as Seder calls them, “the forces of anti democracy.”

“Sam works his butt off and does his homework,” says Franken. “The guy’s the future of the network.”

Granholm and Stabenow Take Leads in Polls

The latest EPIC-MRA Poll has Jennifer Granholm leading Dick DeVos 49% to 42% for Governor of Michigan. Stabenow leads Bouchard 51% to 38% in the Senate race.

Unintentional Brilliant Quote of the Day

On George Bush: “His persona is very much that of the big brother.”
Power Line (Hat top to Glenn Greenwald)

Kill the Butterflies (Not the Students)

Knew it was going to be one of those days after the sad news on Pluto. Jeffrey A. Lockwood, a professor of natural sciences and humanities at the University of Wyoming, has an op-ed in The New York Times on the environmental impact of selling butterflies to class rooms and then releasing them into the environment. His solution:

Kill them. Not the students, the butterflies. If the point of the educational venture is to teach important lessons, then here’s one: We are responsible for the harm that we may cause in the world. So once the butterflies have emerged, pop them in the freezer. Tell the children that protecting our environment is not always easy, that we must accept the responsibility that comes with bringing a life into the world, and that like other animals produced for our needs and wants (the industry refers to the butterflies as “livestock”) we owe the butterflies a quick and painless death.

If this is too harsh a lesson to teach in a culture that assiduously avoids confronting death, then a savvy teacher could work with students to collect local caterpillars, raise them and release the butterflies whence they came. That’s a real lesson in science — and ethics.

Outrage of the Day: Flip Flopping Astronomers Dump Pluto

The International Astronomical Union has delcared Pluto (above left) is no longer a planet. This looks like a real Mickey Mouse operation to me. Pluto has been demoted to the status of a dwarf planet, whcih sounds like a Dopey decision. Just last week they were going to keep Pluto:

The decision at a conference of 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries was a dramatic shift from just a week ago, when the group’s leaders floated a proposal that would have reaffirmed Pluto’s planetary status and made planets of its largest moon and two other objects.

That plan proved highly unpopular, splitting astronomers into factions and triggering days of sometimes combative debate that led to Pluto’s undoing.

I guess that also blows my hopes to get a Goofy Planet.

Update: Left and Right are united in defending Pluto. Blue Crab Boulevard also protests.

Washington Post Reports on Iraq as Fiasco

With the appearance of being in a no-win situation, news coverage of Iraq is becoming progressively negative. There were two good examples of this today. The Washington Post has a front page story entitled Bush’s New Iraq Argument: It Could Be Worse. They note how it is getting harder for the White House to claim otherwise:

Christopher F. Gelpi, a Duke University scholar whose research on public opinion in wartime has been influential in the White House, said Bush has little choice.

“He looks foolish and not credible if he says, ‘We’re making progress in Iraq,’ ” Gelpi said. “I think he probably would like to make that argument, but because that’s not credible given the facts on the ground, this is the fallback. . . . If the only thing you can say is ‘Yes, it’s bad, but it could be worse,’ that really is a last-ditch argument.”

As recently as two weeks ago, Bush was still making the case that things in Iraq are better than they seem. The new Iraqi government “has shown remarkable progress on the political front,” he said on Aug. 7, calling its mere existence “quite a remarkable achievement.”

Another Washington Post reporter was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition today:

Tom Ricks, a reporter for the Washington Post and author of the book Fiasco, says he’s seen a persistent disconnect between U.S. strategy and U.S. tactics in Iraq. Ricks tells Steve Inskeep that the current U.S. strategy is being undermined by questionable tactics.

It is good to see the Washington Post reporting more realistically. If only they had realized this would be a Fiasco from the start and didn’t give Bush a free ride in the months before the war.

Posted in In The News, Iraq, News Media. Tags: . No Comments »

New Technique For Stem Cell Research Spares Embryo But Religious Right Not Satisfied

Nature has published a study showing that even a single cell taken from a human embryo can be made to grow into a colony of stem cells. (Reports here, here, here, and here.) As the embryo is not destroyed, it was hoped that this would satisfy George Bush’s objections and therefore lead to an end to the federal ban on funding of most stem cell research. Of course the requirement that the embryo not be destroyed during stem cell research is rather absurd considering that unused embryos are routinely destroyed by fertility clinics.

The response from the White House didn’t sound hopeful, with Bush sounding even more restrictive in the type of research he would consider allowing. “Any use of human embryos for research purposes raises serious ethical concerns . . . The President is hopeful that with time scientists can find ways of deriving cells like those now derived from human embryos but without the need for using embryos.”

Religious opponents of stem cell research also might not be satisfied. Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said this technique “raises more ethical questions than it answers.”