As of this morning, I have been alive for 28 years. Quite a miracle, when you stop to think about it. At the close of the 19th century, the global life expectancy for a male was 35 years. In ancient Rome and Greece, life expectancy was 28 years (so Jesus both died young and beat the odds by 5 years). Today, in the three lowest life expectancy nations of sub-Saharan Africa (Swaziland, Lesotho, and Botswana) the average male can expect 32 years on this Earth – compared to 81 in Japan or 77 in the US of A.

Furthermore, my status as a free man here in 'merica is equally remarkable. If you take the cohort of african-american males born in any given year and then check back on them in 28 years, 22% of them will be dead or incarcerated. For white males, the same figure is 4%. Thanks, entrenched social inequality!

I could recount the extensive list of great people who accomplished great things and checked out before they turned 28, but suffice it to say that birthdays cease to be fun once you get out of college. Aside from the fact that you end up working on 5 out of every 7 birthdays after that point, it turns into a rather melancholy reminder that you're A) getting closer to dying and B) you haven't really accomplished anything. No one actually expects you to have done anything when you turn 19. But turning 28 – or 30, or 35, or 40 – and saying "Wow, I make minimum wage and can't really point to anything noteworthy I've done"….well, that's just not worth celebrating.

So here's to 28 years of me. One year closer to losing my hair. If nothing else, I'll celebrate by considering the fact that the national GOP is having to spend millions to protect House seats in Wyoming, Nebraska, and Idaho to be a birthday gift from the Lord. I'll consider the fact that I have to start teaching a 3-hour night class tonight (after my regular 75-minute lecture) to be….what's the opposite of a gift from the Lord?

Oh, right: a swift kick in the nads.


What do John Kerry, Evan Bayh, Marty Meehan, Frank Pallone, Bob Andrews, and Lloyd Doggett have in common? They're all 100% safe Democratic incumbents in Congress who are unopposed in 2006. They also have more than $2,000,000 in their campaign funds yet won't kick any of it out to the DNCC or highly competitive races elsewhere.

It's not like the Democratic Party is habitually outspent by the GOP, and it's not as if there are a bunch of competitive or open races going on right now. Heavens no. Evan Bayh certainly doesn't live in a state in which the two most expensive House races in the nation are taking place. Heavens no.

While Kerry and Bayh are hoarding their money for a 2008 Presidential run, the House members sitting on piles of cash right now have no excuses. None. And hoarding for a presidential run isn't exactly a good excuse. We'll remember this in a few years, guys. I'm guessing your fellow Democrats will too. Something tells me that Evan Bayh could afford to pony up half a million bucks for IN-8 and IN-9 and still have plenty of change. And every safe/unopposed/incumbent Democrat in both chambers could easily afford to pony up $500 apiece for ID-1 and WY-At Large. Will they?


Voter guides. God, how I love voter guides. They're the very best kind of comedy, and best of all they're free.

If you're not familiar, voter guides are "scorecards" put out by most major politically-active interest groups and non-profits. So, for example, the NRA will distribute guides to its members (and anyone else who's interested) in which incumbents and challengers are rated, either by letter grade or percentage.

Why are they so goddamn funny? Because the "ratings" are based on the select issues of interest to the organization issuing the ratings. And nothing more. So, for example, the NRA voter guide might give Mark Foley a 100% Super-Duper A++ because their ratings only count his votes on gun-related issues. How he votes on anything else (or who he tries to bang) is irrelevant to the NRA. Therein lies the potential for comedy.

To wit: Don Sherwood. If you're not familiar with Congressman Choker, in 2004 his mistress made a 911 call frantically asking for police to come to the hotel where she and Sherwood were screwing. Apparently Donnie saw fit to beat and choke his mistress for reasons known only to him. After attempting to deny that he and Ms. Cynthia Ore were anything but friends, he finally admitted a 5 year extra-marital affair with her.

Sounds pretty "anti-family" in the language of the GOP, doesn't it? Not according to James Dobson! In the eyes of Focus on the Family's Family Research Council, Don Sherwood gets an 85% rating and a strong recommendation. See, as long as the member in question votes appropriately on a small sample of abortion and gay marriage related issues, he or she is pro-family. Amazing, isn't it?

Closeted child molestor? Adulterer? Abuser? Alcoholic? It doesn't matter! Just vote against gay marriage (and for protecting the pledge of allegiance, which is apparently somehow relevant) and you're well on your way to being Offically Certified as Pro-Family. By no less of an authority than James Dobson!

And before you ask, they quickly took Mark Foley off their sheet last week. But fear not, archived copies of the guide reveal that he got a 42%. Not great, but ahead of over 200 Democrats – the overwhelming majority of whom got 0%.

In summary:

  • Closet gay child-sex predator = moderately pro-family
  • Adulterer who abuses women = super-duper pro-family
  • Every Democrat on Earth = 100% anti-family



    Now that the national Republican apparatus is starting to realize just how badly things are going to go in November they're attempting to set up a "firewall" in the Senate. That is, they've written off the House. It's already gone. But now they're contingency-planning for the unthinkable, which is losing the Senate as well. As ginandtacos predicted a few weeks ago, the possibility of a 50-50 Senate – or even a small Democratic majority – is very real.

    So the GOP has decided to set up its firewall around three (OK, two. More on that in a minute) Senate races to make sure that doesn't happen. States in which it was previously unthinkable that the GOP could lose now need to be saved, triage style, at any cost. Virginia, Tennessee, and Ohio used to be GOP slam-dunks. Now they're desperately trying to hold on.

    That means that all pretense of fairness and decency are tossed out the window. Ginandtacos has highlighted how the language of the GOP has resorted to race-baiting, gay-bashing, and rural-urban division in the last few weeks. But it's failing in Ohio. Sherrod Brown has a big lead (as much as 9 to 12 points in recent polls) and that's being written off as a loss per Ken Mehlman's comments on Meet the Press last Sunday.

    So they're really, really getting desperate in Virginia (where George "macaca" Allen is treading water) and Tennessee. So desperate, in fact, that they've decided to throw caution to the wind and engage in some blatant racist pandering in the Ford-Corker race.

    Now, the ad in question is nowhere near as racist as, say Willie Horton or Helms-Gantt (the most despicable ad of my lifetime, hands down). But really, short of painting someone in blackface and showing them cashing a welfare check while eating watermelon, nothing could be more racist than Helms-Gantt.

    Nevertheless, this RNC ad from Tennessee shouldn't feel too bad. It's still really racist! Top work, guys.

    Can you believe there are still two more weeks in which this can get worse? I'm really afraid that by early November they'll be making ads that say "Look, if you don't vote Republican, negroes are going to rape your daughter and Jews are going to sacrifice your sons for their heathen blood rituals."


    On the heels of yesterday's post re: the phenomenal level of subtlety among right-wingers, I present some comments from our Vice President.

    He offers his standard homage to tax cuts, a warning about how terrorists are still trying desperately “to cause mass death here in the United States” and a derisive cataloging of the various “Dean Democrats,” congressmen including Charles B. Rangel of New York, Henry A. Waxman of California and Barney Frank of Massachusetts, whose influence would grow if the apocalypse came and Democrats took over Congress.

    The crowd boos. “Don’t hold back,” Mr. Cheney urges.

    The crowd laughs.

    For those of you who aren't familiar with these more-obscure members of Congress, let me summarize what just happened here. The Vice-President, who I believe is a white guy, stood up in front of a room full of white Christian rednecks in Kansas and told them that if the Republicans lose control of Congress it will hand the nation over to Rangel (black), Waxman (Jewish), and Frank (gay).

    Once again, so subtle! Too subtle! Stop with the subtle, it hurts! And so plausibly deniable! "What do you mean? I just picked those three names at random!" There was no intent on our Vice President's part, of course, to gain any mileage from rural redenecked Kansans' feelings about blacks, Jews, and homosexuals. None. In fact, the Vice President isn't even sure how Republican Kansans feel about those groups. Do they dislike them or something?

    I can't tell if this is a 2006 midterm election or the 1952 Alabama governor's race.


    You have to hand it to the far right. If nothing else, they're phenomenally subtle.

    Case in point: as the Republican loss of power in the House appears inevitable, the NRCC, the RNC, and assorted other right-wing blowhards have started trying to turn the election into a referendum on Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Part and parcel of this strategy is frequently using the "San Francisco liberal" epithet at every possible opportunity.

    Now, Nancy Pelosi is an idiot. Approximately 90 seconds of conversation is more than enough to exhaust her knowledge of any single issue. But in this case I'm more bemused by the Republicans' "clever" rhetorical strategy than I am turned off by Pelosi.

    "San Francisco liberal?" Get it? GET IT? (*nudge* *wink*). We know you rural folk don't like them "San Francisco" types! Isn't it awesome how well that term allows you to feign ignorance when people call you a homophobe?

    Why, whoever said anything about gays? We were just talking about those "San Francisco" liberals! Hee hee!

    Cute. So cute.