Who makes this stuff up?

Who makes this stuff up? Seriously, because it’s pretty hilarious:

Are we sure he [bin Laden] hasn’t been taken prisoner, dressed up and told what to say?

Conspiracy theories die hard. But I’d expect better from Jeralyn Merritt; she’s usually as fair as is possible for the ultra-left, but this is Kos-level extremism. I actually haven’t been reading her for a while. She posted some juvenile pictures comparing Bush to a monkey, with this caption:

If you don’t think these pictures are funny, you probably would be happier reading a different blog.

I didn’t laugh, and I’m happier for having stopped reading. But maybe it could have some comedic value…

Tell me again how he

Tell me again how he didn’t wear a wire?

It gets better:

George W. Bush tried to laugh off the bulge. “I don’t know what that is,” he said on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, referring to the infamous protrusion beneath his jacket during the presidential debates. “I’m embarrassed to say it’s a poorly tailored shirt.”

Dr. Robert M. Nelson, however, was not laughing. He knew the president was not telling the truth. And Nelson is neither conspiracy theorist nor midnight blogger. He’s a senior research scientist for NASA and for Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an international authority on image analysis. Currently he’s engrossed in analyzing digital photos of Saturn’s moon Titan, determining its shape, whether it contains craters or canyons.

For the past week, while at home, using his own computers, and off the clock at Caltech and NASA, Nelson has been analyzing images of the president’s back during the debates. A professional physicist and photo analyst for more than 30 years, he speaks earnestly and thoughtfully about his subject. “I am willing to stake my scientific reputation to the statement that Bush was wearing something under his jacket during the debate,” he says. “This is not about a bad suit. And there’s no way the bulge can be described as a wrinkled shirt.”

Nelson and a scientific colleague produced the photos from a videotape, recorded by the colleague, who has chosen to remain anonymous, of the first debate. The images provide the most vivid details yet of the bulge beneath the president’s suit. Amateurs have certainly had their turn at examining the bulge, but no professional with a résumé as impressive as Nelson’s has ventured into public with an informed opinion. In fact, no one to date has enhanced photos of Bush’s jacket to this degree of precision, and revealed what appears to be some kind of mechanical device with a wire snaking up the president’s shoulder toward his neck and down his back to his waist.

Nelson admits that he’s a Democrat and plans to vote for John Kerry. But he takes umbrage at being accused of partisanship. “Everyone wants to think my colleague and I are just a bunch of dope-crazed ravaged Democrats who are looking to insult the president at the last minute,” he says. “And that’s not what this is about. This is scientific analysis. If the bulge were on Bill Clinton’s back and he was lying about it, I’d have to say the same thing.”

“Look, he says, “I’m putting myself at risk for exposing this. But this is too important. It’s not about my reputation. If they force me into an early retirement, it’ll be worth it if the public knows about this. It’s outrageous statements that I read that the president is wearing nothing under there. There’s clearly something there.”

I’m sorry, but if you’ve seen that image, you’d have to be delusional to not think it’s a wire. This is sad, sad behavior, and I dare any major Republican to admit the obvious: that the President of the United States was fed his lines during a presidential debate.

If anyone saw this endorsement

If anyone saw this endorsement coming, they’re probably very, very troubled:

Former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith, a conservative Republican who once ran for president as an independent, is endorsing John Kerry for president.

Smith, in a letter released Thursday by the Kerry campaign, praised his former colleague as a Democrat “who crossed the aisle to forge a bipartisan coalition in the Senate to balance the federal budget.”

Bob Smith, of course, is my former Senator. When he wasn’t worrying about the horrific effect that elephants would have on our nation, he was fighting against national volunteer and arts programs. So, basically, he goes out of his way to stop community service and the fine arts. Great guy. I don’t know why Kerry thinks this is a good thing.

Well, he was without a

Well, he was without a doubt the best president of the 19th century (I consider Teddy Roosevelt best overall), so it’d be wonderful if he turned out to be gay:

If the loving heart of the Great Emancipator found its natural amorous passions overwhelmingly directed toward those of his own sex, it would certainly be a stunning rebuke to the Republican Party’s scapegoating of same-sex love for electoral purposes. And a forthcoming book by the late Dr. C.A. Tripp — The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, to be published in the new year by Free Press — makes a powerful case that Lincoln was a lover of men.

Tripp, who worked closely in the 1940s and 1950s with the groundbreaking sexologist Alfred Kinsey, was a clinical psychologist, university professor and author of the 1975 best-seller The Homosexual Matrix, which helped transcend outdated Freudian clichés and establish that a same-sex affectional and sexual orientation is a normal and natural occurrence.

In his book on Lincoln, Tripp draws on his years with Kinsey, who, he wrote, “confronted the problem of classifying mixed sex patterns by devising his 0-to-6 scale, which allows the ranking of any homosexual component in a person’s life from none to entirely homosexual. By this measure Lincoln qualifies as a classical 5 — predominantly homosexual, but incidentally heterosexual.”

Tripp also found, based on multiple historical accounts, that Lincoln attained puberty unusually early, by the age of 9 or 10 — early sexualization being a prime Kinsey indicator for same-sex proclivities. Even Lincoln’s stepmother admitted in a post-assassination interview that young Abe “never took much interest in the girls.” And Tripp buttresses his findings that Lincoln was a same-sex lover with important new historical contributions.

Others, preceding Tripp, have proclaimed in print that Lincoln was gay. The first, some four decades ago, was the pioneer Los Angeles gay activist Jim Kepner, editor of ONE, the early gay magazine (the ONE Institute National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California [http://www.oneinstitute.org/] is the largest collection of gay historical material in the world). Kepner focused on Lincoln’s long-acknowledged intimate friendship with Joshua Speed — with whom Lincoln slept in the same bed for four years when both men were in their 20s — as did later writers, like the historian of gay America Jonathan Ned Katz and University of Massachusetts professor Charles Shively. Gore Vidal has said in interviews that, in researching his historical novel on Lincoln, he began to suspect that the 16th president was a same-sexer. But all this has been little noticed or circulated outside the gay community.

One of the few traditional Lincolnists to describe (however obliquely) the lifelong Lincoln-Speed relationship as homosexual was the Illinois poet Carl Sandburg, in his masterful, six-volume Lincoln biography. In the tome titled The Prairie Years (1926), Sandburg wrote that both Lincoln and Speed had “a streak of lavender, and spots soft as May violets.” “I do not feel my own sorrows more keenly than I do yours,” Lincoln wrote Speed in one letter. And again, “You know my desire to befriend you is everlasting.” In a detailed retelling of the Lincoln-Speed love story — including the “lust at first sight” encounter between the two young men, when Lincoln readily accepted Speed’s eager invitation to share his narrow bed — Tripp notes that Speed was the only human being to whom the president ever signed his letters with the unusually tender (for Lincoln) “yours forever” — a salutation Lincoln never even used to his wife. Speed himself acknowledged that “No two men were ever so intimate.” And Tripp credibly describes Lincoln’s near nervous breakdown following Speed’s decision to end their four-year affair by returning to his native Kentucky.

In the preface to his massive biography, Sandburg wrote that “month by month in stacks and bundles of facts and legend, I found invisible companionships that surprised me. Perhaps a few of these presences lurk and murmur in this book.” Tripp’s book is remarkable and precedent-shattering because, for the first time, he restores names and faces (more than just Speed’s) to a number of those previously invisible homosexual companions and love objects of the most venerated of America’s presidents, among them, Henry C. Whitney; the young Billy Greene, a Salem contemporary of Lincoln’s and another bedmate (who admired Lincoln’s thighs); Nat Grigsby; and A.Y. Ellis.

One of them was the handsome David Derickson, by nine years the president’s junior, captain of Lincoln’s bodyguard Company K, the unit assigned to ensure Lincoln’s protection in September 1862. Citing a variety of sources — including an autobiographical essay by Captain (later Major) Dickerson, Lincoln’s letters, contemporary diaries and historical accounts written while many of the witnesses to the Derickson-Lincoln relationship were still living — Tripp describes in great detail how Derickson was the object of “the kinds of gentle and concentrated high-focus attention from Lincoln that [Lincoln’s law colleague] Henry C. Whitney, from having himself once been on the receiving end, well described: ‘[It was] as if he wooed me to close intimacy and friendship, a kind of courtship, as indeed it was.’”

Lincoln’s seduction of Dickerson was more than successful. Tripp discovered a forgotten volume of Union Army history, an account of The Pennsylvania Volunteers, Second Regiment, Bucktail Brigade, published in 1895 by Derickson’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Chamberlin, who was historian of the Bucktail Survivors Association, and in which he recounted:

“Captain Derickson, in particular, advanced so far in the President’s confidence and esteem that in Mrs. Lincoln’s absence he frequently spent the night at his cottage [at the summer White House], sleeping in the same bed with him, and — it is said — making use of his Excellency’s night-shirt! Thus began an intimacy that continued unbroken until the following spring, when Captain Derickson was appointed provost marshal of the Nineteenth Pennsylvania District, with headquarters in Meadville.”

The Dickerson-Lincoln affair was common gossip in Washington’s high society, as Tripp notes with a citation from the diary of the wife of Assistant Navy Secretary Gustavus Fox: “Tish says, Oh, there is a Bucktail soldier here devoted to the president, drives with him, and when Mrs. L is not home, sleeps with him. What stuff!”

Lincoln was very fond of witty, and quite often ribald, stories, a great many of them having anal references. When a friend once suggested that he should collect his stories and publish them in book form, Lincoln replied that he could not, for “such a book would Stink like a thousand privies.”

Another Tripp rediscovery is a smutty, humorous poem written by Lincoln when he was a teenager — in which the future president describes a marriage between two boys! Here (with some of the spelling corrected for easier reading) is Lincoln’s gay-marriage poem:

I will tell you a Joke about Jewel and Mary

It is neither a Joke nor a Story

For Rubin and Charles has married two girls

But Billy has married a boy

The girlies he had tried on every Side

But none could he get to agree

All was in vain he went home again

And since that is married to Natty

So Billy and Natty agreed very well

And mama’s well pleased at the match

The egg it is laid but Natty’s afraid

The Shell is So Soft that it never will hatch

But Betsy she said you Cursed bald head

My Suitor you never Can be

Beside your low crotch [slang for big penis] proclaims you a botch

And that never Can serve for me

This is too funny for words. Crude limericks? Dirty wit? Excuse me while I try to stop laughing. Hat tip Andy.

Tiny people? Miniature elephants? Giant

Tiny people? Miniature elephants? Giant lizards? Why did I have to be born 18,000 years too late?

Scientists have discovered a tiny species of ancient human that lived 18,000 years ago on an isolated island east of the Java Sea — a prehistoric hunter in a “lost world” of giant lizards and miniature elephants.

These “little people” stood about three feet tall and had heads the size of grapefruit. They co-existed with modern humans for thousands of years yet appear to be more closely akin to a long-extinct human ancestor.

Researchers suspect the earlier ancestor may have migrated to the island and evolved into a smaller dwarf species as it adapted to the island’s limited resources. This phenomenon, known as the “island rule” is common in the animal world but had never been seen before in human evolution.

That is just too cool. The only thing cooler than people with grapefruit heads is tiny elephants. I mean, I just need to have one of those. I could make it fetch drinks, and jump on people. Ah…if only.

Of all the times that

Of all the times that this could happen, why does it have to happen now?

Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was critically ill Wednesday night, and an ambulance was rushed to his beleaguered West Bank headquarters, Israeli and Palestinian officials told NBC News.

Palestinian sources said doctors were fighting desperately to save Arafat’s life. A Palestinian cabinet minister told The Jerusalem Post on condition of anonymity, “President Arafat is dying.”

It was not clear what Arafat, 75, was suffering from, but he was “very, very sick,” a Palestinian cabinet minister told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

I have to say, despite the fact that Arafat is, admittedly, determined to destroy Israel and the Israeli people, I wish him a full recovery. Why? Because that would mean that the West Bank wouldn’t descend into civil war over his successor. As that would be, how do you say, bad. So, let’s hope he doesn’t die, and, I know I’m wishing here, hand-picks a successor.

Wow. I did NOT see

Wow. I did NOT see this coming:

Some conservative groups expressed dismay Tuesday over President Bush’s tolerance of state-sanctioned civil unions between gay people — laws that would grant same-sex partners most or all the rights available to married couples.

“I don’t think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that’s what a state chooses to do so,” Bush said in an interview aired Tuesday on ABC. Bush acknowledged that his position put him at odds with the Republican platform, which opposes civil unions.

“I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights,” said Bush, who has pressed for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. “States ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others.”

No, it’s not an outright endorsement of civil unions, but it’s very, very close. Referring to civil unions as “laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others” is major progress. I’ve never expected Bush to be a Kennedy on gay rights, but he appears to be close to becoming an Eisenhower.

Perhaps I’m just weird but

Perhaps I’m just weird but I don’t find this story particularly distressing:

Some 350 tons of high explosives (RDX and HMX) which were under IAEA seal while Saddam was in power, were looted during the early days of the US occupation. Like so much else, it was just left unguarded.

Not only are these super-high-yield explosives probably being used in many, if not most, of the various suicide and car bombings in Iraq, but these particular explosives are ones used in the triggering process for nuclear weapons.

In other words, it’s bad stuff.

What also emerges in the Nelson Report is that the Defense Department has been trying to keep this secret for some time. The DOD even went so far as to order the Iraqis not to inform the IAEA that the materials had gone missing. Informing the IAEA, of course, would lead to it becoming public knowledge in the United States.

Okay, okay, it’s bad that they covered it up. But it’s not that surprising. Anyway, it’s been known, at least off-the-record, for a number of months that hundreds of tons of ammunitions were just left in dumps, and not destroyed because of a lack of demolition experts. Stupid? Yes. Incompetent? Yes. But the fact is, it doesn’t really matter now. Those ammunitions can’t be destroyed now that they’re in insurgents’ hands, so it’s useless and counterproductive to argue about this. However, it appears that insurgents in Sadr City and Fallujah are finally coming under control:

Iraq’s plans to hold elections in January gained traction on Saturday after a Shi’ite militia agreed to disarm in Baghdad and delegates from rebel-held Falluja said the Sunni Muslim city wanted to vote in the polls.

The Mehdi Army militia led by Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr agreed to hand over weapons to Iraqi police from Monday under a deal that could defuse the Baghdad flashpoint of Sadr City.

Falluja delegates said the city wanted to take part in the elections and could accept the return of Iraqi security forces.

“A delegation from Falluja is now discussing the entry of Iraqi National Guards to the city with the defense ministry,” chief Falluja negotiator Khaled al-Jumaili told Reuters.

Via Chrenkoff, in turn via Andrew Sullivan (wow, I’ve been linking to him a lot today). I’m not naive enough to be taken in by most “good news from Iraq” claims, but Chrenkoff’s post comes mostly from very credible sources, and is quite convincing. Sure, there’s a fair amount of “what about the schools?” rhetoric, but a lot of it’s very convincing. Even if you’re adamantly against the war, it’s worth a read.

Something is rotten in the

Something is rotten in the state of Hawai’i. First, two different polls find Bush leading Kerry in the solidly Democratic state. Now, a State Senate candidate from Maui has endorsed the death penalty for gays and lesbians. (via Andrew Sullivan)

What is going on? Hawai’i has only voted Republican twice – in 1972 and 1984 – but those were when the Republicans won all but one state! They even supported Dukakis, and Carter’s second term! How can they be on the verge of voting for Bush, the most conservative president in American history, and have a legitimate State Senate candidate supporting the execution of gays and lesbians (not to mention insisting that Noah was literally 650 when he built the ark)?

The answer to the second question is much easier than the first. Hawai’i has a history of being uneasy with homosexuality. After the Hawai’i Supreme Court ruled that banning gay marriage was unconstitutional in 1993, a constitutional amendment reversing the decision won, 69.4% to 28%, in 1998.

But the first story is very curious. Hawai’i, while conservative on gay rights issues, is very pro-choice, and fits the “tax-and-spend” label better than Massachusetts. My suspicion is that this is about Iraq. Hawai’i boasts one of the country’s largest military bases; after all, Honolulu was the first location attacked in WWII. The war in Iraq, and the war on terror, could have generated a good deal of hawkish sentiment, and prompted military families, and their friends and neighbors, to support Bush’s reelection. Is this what happened? I don’t know. But it’s my best guess.