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:: Wednesday, February 26 ::


FOR ACTUAL CONTENT, SEE ELSEWHERE: Today we offer another installment of the Definitive Candidate Photo Comparison series. Following Rep. Dennis Kucinich we have Rep. Dick Gephardt, who is paired with He-Man's arch nemesis, Skeletor. Again, we believe this is at present the definitive photo comparison:



A cursory Google search attributes a Gephardt-Skeletor comparison to Matthew Stinson way back in July of 2002. We don't read Mr. Stinson's blog and, in fact, find Gephardt's Skeletorness both freakish and obvious. Nevertheless, we'll be happy to credit here anyone who made the link earlier.

That Other Blog is, as far as we know, your source for the first side-by-side photo comparison. We think we're also the first to suggest that Rep. Gephardt give the cloak look a whirl.

UPDATE: It is worth mentioning that, while George W. Bush is no He-Man (and Karl Rove is no Orko), we do believe that Gephardt has about as good a chance of moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as his similarly-bone-structured double does of occupying Castle Greyskull.

UPDATE II: Upon further reflection we're still sure about He-Man being far more handsome than Bush and Gephardt being a loser, but we're reconsidering the comment about Karl Rove:



:: posted by Joe at 05:44 ::
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:: Monday, February 24 ::


DO YOU LIKE FEELING GOOD?:
Then you'll love the great feeling of benevolence and generosity you'll have after you use the "make us read" link at left.

Presuming the gobbledygook URL works, you can use that link to access our Amazon.com Wish List. Please feel free to purchase for us anything you'd like; the list is only a guide. It presently stands at fifty-eight items, which we hope will satiate at least the most urgent of demand by readers to spend your hard-earned money on our edification.

Please note that unless you're wildly wealthy and can more than spare to give to both (or you're a little drunk with your credit card nearby and will give to both despite your poverty), donations must be prioritized. If money is actually an object to you, please give to Ascent: A School For Individuals With Autism by clicking here or using the link at left to access information on where to send your check.

I'll break from the obnoxious first-person-plural to tell you that one of my nieces attends Ascent, and it has changed her life. It is as worthy a cause as any and your contribution will be put to immediate use. For more about autism you can click here for some links to various resources or visit the autism links at P.L.A., one of the political blogs listed at the left of this site (the P stands for politics, but the A is for autism).

Ascent changes lives, but it needs your help. This blog doesn't change lives, but would ungratefully and fleetingly enjoy your help. Direct your largesse accordingly.

:: posted by Joe at 13:29 ::
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BALL-KICKING UPDATE:
According to traffic data someone clicked through to this site today from a Daypop search for "kick balls". We are happy to report that That Other Blog is hit number one of fifty-two results.

While we are pleased that the ball-kicking community has chosen this site as its outlet for plucky leftish political commentary, the apparent gender gap worries us. This is an equal opportunity blog, and we are concerned that we are not represented in, for instance, the Daypop search for "kick vagina" (though TBogg, one of the many fine blogs listed at left, pulls in at number ten there). Similarly, we are no-shows in searches for the slangier "kick vag", the more euphemistic "kick box", or even the gender-neutral "kick crotch".

Of course, once this post is published we will likely shoot up the list of results in each of the categories mentioned. Hopefully traffic from a mosaic of loin kickers representative of America and, dare we say, the world will follow.

Please don't misunderstand; we are not proposing a quota for this or that group of genital kickers. Everybody hates quotas. We merely aim to promote a diverse masochistic-fetish readership in a plumbing-neutral fashion.

:: posted by Joe at 11:12 ::
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:: Sunday, February 23 ::


IT'S A BOY!
Or maybe an I Love Lucy rerun? Whether you see light blue or gray, it's a new color, and a new design for That Other Blog. As always we welcome your reactions and suggestions as long as they are positive and nonexistent, respectively.

In addition to the new aesthetic, the "epidemic" category at left has expanded (as epidemics tend to do) to include a few more blogs. We also think we have enabled RSS and XML and all of the other rather more geeky things that we don't use and don't understand.

Before you ask: no, the photos in the previous post were not altered to match our new theme. They may have provided subconscious inspiration, but frankly we're wondering just as quizzically why they fit so smashingly with the new colors.

Thank you for your readership (which, if you are like most visitors to this site, is infrequent and cursory). As always, the intensive unskilled, trial-and-error labor necessary to make That Other Blog better were absolutely not made possible by your donations. We hope you enjoy the changes.

:: posted by Joe at 17:16 ::
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FOR THE RECORD:
We believe we were the first to make the definitive Kucinich-Spock photo comparison in an earlier post, but it was bured in some unrelated invective, so we want to put the photos here in case you missed them:



:: posted by Joe at 07:37 ::
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YOUR FELLOW READERS:
From time to time, according to traffic data, someone will click through to That Other Blog from a search engine. We are happy to inform you that That Other Blog is presently site number 380 on the list of sites generated by a Yahoo search for "fetish balls kick".

Besides the tremendous honor for us, let us call your attention to the fact that the individual who clicked through to this site from that search had to click the "Next 20" hits button eighteen times to scroll far enough through the results to get to our link.

:: posted by Joe at 06:57 ::
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ASSHOLE OF THE WEEK:
Osama bin Laden is still at large, and conservatives are worried about the poor. How nice. Douglas J. Besharov, apparently citing only quasi-racist stereotypes, thinks that we feed the poor too much -- how else then could they be so fat? So, obviously, subsidized school lunches and food for the poor are huge wastes of money and bad for America.

From today's NYT:

There is also rising criticism from conservatives outside the administration that food programs encourage recipients to overeat.

"We are feeding the poor as if they are starving, when anyone can see that the real problems for them, like other Americans, is expanding girth," said Douglas J. Besharov, director of the American Enterprise Institute's Project on Social and Individual Responsibility.
Apparently the liberal media squelched the news that we'd won the war on poverty.

For the sake of argument, let's grant that poor people, like most Americans, are fat. Besharov (and Congressional Republicans') solution is to feed them less. If the goal is to not spend money, this seems like a pretty good idea: save money on food now, save money on Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare later when the poor die earlier from even less of their already-inadequate nutrition.

If the goal is to feed the poor and have them not be fat (which is at least the public face of the cheap, selfish ulterior motives at play here) it seems that providing healthy food for poor children and families would be the answer. Alas, with the party of Reagan, who sought to have ketchup classified as a vegetable for the purposes of providing poor children school lunches, in power this seems unlikely.

If you want to let Douglas J. Besharov know what an asshole comment he made, he can be reached by phone: 202-862-5904, fax: 202-862-5802, or email: besharov@umd.edu.

:: posted by Joe at 06:37 ::
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CONTRARIAN CACHET:
There hasn't been too much bad press for Howard Dean lately, and it seems to be starting to rankle some journalists. The anonymous TNR staff author of this &c. post overplays his hysterical Dean-doomsayer hand:
HOWARD DEAN'S WORST NIGHTMARE: Today's quickie Washington Post profile of Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, the latest addition to the Democratic presidential field, fingers Dick Gephardt as the first-tier candidate who stands to lose the most from a Kucinich campaign--because of both men's strong ties to labor. But given the way labor has been acting lately, it's not at all clear that that's right. ...

The real loser in all of this has to be Howard Dean. As the Post also points out, Kucinich will be making the very same anti-Iraq case to Iowa activists that Dean has been making for months--only without Dean's tortured qualification about supporting war if there were convincing evidence that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, or whatever Dean is saying these days. And Kucinich also steps on Dean's unconventional-liberal schtick. Dean supporters spend a lot of time playing up their man's fiscal conservatism and his opposition to gun control. Kucinich, it turns out, opposes abortion and has voted for a constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning. The more you think about it, the more it seems like Dennis Kucinich leaves Howard Dean without a constituency.
So, if we understand correctly, because Kucinich is now in the race: Dean, who supports a UN-mandated war, will lose the support or those who are against any war whatsoever; Dean, who is pro-choice, will lose the support of abortion opponents; and Dean, who supports free speech, will lose the support of those who want to ban flag-burning by constitutional amendment. Sorry, come again?

Dean has promised to submit a balanced budget; the "budget" section of Kucinich's House of Representatives site doesn't even mention balancing the budget (but it does propose to fund "largest infrastructure program ever"). Dean says that he will enforce current gun-control laws and that new laws should be left to the states; Kucinich's issue page on "crime" cites (once you scroll past the section on his concern about the "strong correlation between animal cruelty and violence against humans") several gun-control bills he has co-sponsored while in Congress. It is unclear what constituency Dennis Kucinich leaves Howard Dean without other than the greasy-combover folks or the Leonard Nimoy lookalikes, who we weren't sure were for Dean anyway.

Political opponents have yet find a criticism of Dean that gets any traction. Journalists who fancy themselves the guardians of democracy and, as such, feel duty-bound to mock and humiliate politicians are similarly struggling. The New Republic is known for its leftish independence, and has never been a publication to pull any punches. But one has to wonder about bizarrely seething broadsides like this one, the second too-shrill-by-half denunciation of Dean this month. (The other is here.)

Is this a supporter of another Democratic candidate feeling threatened? Or maybe a Bushie trying to head off one of the most serious potential nominees? Or some self-important writer who feels obliged to say the opposite of whatever seems to be the accepted narrative of the moment, without bothering to make a coherent argument? If it's the last, we hope this joker will go get him/herself a trendy haircut, take a deep "I am unique" breath, and from now on give us something serious to read.

:: posted by Joe at 05:10 ::
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:: Wednesday, February 19 ::


PLEASE HOLD, SOMEONE WILL BE WITH YOU SHORTLY:
Though it may not be apparent, That Other Blog originates outside the United States. Presently we operate out of Stockholm, Sweden, and so we can identify with the experiences outlined in today's NYT article about Americans abroad coping with anger at their country. Sweden has as virulent an anti-American faction as any European country right now, and has a history opposition to US policy. Swedes' most beloved Prime Minister, Olof Palme, got that way partly by being outspoken on the Vietnam War and other issues on which he took the US to task (and partly because he was gunned down on a street in Stockholm).

To that Swede with the "BUSH = TERRORIST" sign in Malmö this past weekend, and to the whole world really, let me say: Bear with us. November of 2000 was a different time, as you can recall. In that shits-and-giggles campaign many votes went to the candidate who sighed less or spoke more fluent English. There were virtually no issues of substance other than the question of "who is least likely to screw everything up?" Obviously, we picked the wrong guy.

But, then again, we didn't. Most of us didn't bother to vote in 2000. And of those who did, most didn't vote for George W. Bush. His presidency is a peculiarity of our system. Another feature of that system is that we simply can't do much about it until November of next year.

World, we need to have a talk. It boils down to this: Slack has been cut for many of you in the past (Europe, I'm looking in your direction) while with others we Americans have, until this administration came to power, been making good-faith efforts to repair damage we've done in the past (Southeast Asia, I see you). In still other places America has -- again, before the Bush administration -- tried to use its power and influence to achieve peace (Middle East, please sit back down). For all of the trouble this administration has caused, a majority of Americans still support the status quo ante. We are mostly good people.

So we ask you to bear with us. March, yes; protest, yes; vote against us in the Security Council, yes. But please have the foresight not compound any permanent damage the Bush administration is doing. For instance, NATO is still a good thing; why not give the old girl a few more years before tossing her over the ledge?

But more importantly, don't forget that your true opponents are the policymakers, not the American people. You need us to vote him out; don't alienate us. On behalf of the tens of millions of Americans who also feel that this administration is moving in the wrong direction, we're asking you to be the bigger person. Every "We Hate Bush" should be followed by a "We Love America" if you can muster it. This is the only way.

At present, things are devolving to a point where it becomes impossible for any American abroad to go have a beer without an "America isn't so bad" dossier at the ready. This is a problem, not only because we at That Other Blog in particular like beer, but because we agree with you on the substantive issues. So hang in there; we're working on it.

:: posted by Joe at 04:26 ::
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:: Tuesday, February 18 ::


SEE SPOT BLOG:
A friend of mine complained recently about the apparent vogue among political bloggers to post a photo of themselves at their site. A brief survey of the field reveals that quite obviously the quality of the points made is inversely related to the aesthetic appeal of the blogger.

These people are violating the unwritten laws of the political-blog jungle. Indeed, their actions have even larger implications. In Darwinian terms, the whole reason for writing to exist as a profession is to let ugly people be heard. Otherwise, the whole world would be like cable news and nothing intelligent would ever be communicated. Bug-eyed print journalists like Paul Krugman are all that keep us from the hard-hitting Ashleigh Banfield interview with Susan "Elder Stateswoman" Sarandon on the war with Iraq dominating mass political discourse.

That's not to say we here at That Other Blog are anti-hottie. To be sure, no matter what your politics you can concede that lookism serves some purpose in politics. Physical repulsion of the public is what keeps Rush Limbaugh on radio and Michael Moore from being taken too seriously.

You may wonder what the implications of the "good blog equals ugly mug" hypothesis are for this site (or, as it were, sight). By way of answer, we direct you the archives at left as conclusive evidence of gorgeousness.

:: posted by Joe at 13:17 ::
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:: Wednesday, February 12 ::


THE VIRTUES OF QUESTION TIME:
Watching the pre-filibuster going on in the United States Senate right now we're deeply disappointed by the quality of debate. The combination of our separation of powers and the C-SPANization of Congressional debate has produced a "deliberative" body capable only of undisciplined, incoherent debate by a gaggle of stuttering fools.

Today's senators are disgracefully content to engage in prosecutorial, "gotcha!" colloquies with members on their own side. "Is it true that ...," says Republican Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota. "You're absolutely right," says Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. "Isn't the difference ...," asks Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. "I just don't understand it," replies Republican Senator Hatch. Each side has its talking points which they repeat, repeat, and repeat, constructing the same straw men to knock down time after time with the same smirky ineloquence. Things would be far worse if one side ever bothered to pointedly refute the other.

Make no mistake: Congress doesn't debate anything. The Congressional Record is a heap of glib patriotism and made-for-TV platitudes. Speeches found there have been poorly written by aides or wince-inducingly improvised by members. The acts passed and printed there are shamelessly verbatim fulfillment of lobbyists' demands. The empty Senate chamber you see when you cruise by C-SPAN2 -- the perpetual quorum call, a monotonous calling of senators' names to which they never answer -- is an apt metaphor for the intellectual and rhetorical state of that body today.

Even worse, unlike the British system, our executive is nowhere in sight. Public discourse in America has been ceded to the sensationalism of sound bite-hungry commercial cable news. We want to see George W. Bush with his bifocals on, giant three-ring binder in hand, answering wave after wave of hyper-specific policy questions from members of Congress. We demand it. It will improve Congress, it will improve the president, it will improve governance, and it will improve our democracy.

:: posted by Joe at 21:21 ::
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THE POOR MAN'S WAR ON TERROR:
The president may have dropped the ball on Al Qaeda, but Andrew Northrup picks it up and punts it at bin Laden's face. On the latest bellicose blahblah from the chief evildoer-at-large:
This is all getting a bit repetitive. Wage jihad against America. I think we've got it now. Fucking established. If there was anyone out there who was mistakenly racing hot rods against Armenia or something, and for whom this tape proved a much-needed clarification of official Qaeda policy, then, obviously, I stand corrected. But judging by the fact that your organization has spent the past eighteen months dying, being arrested, and blowing up obscure sections of the third world, I think you might be spending too much effort and brand awareness and not enough on, you know, terrorizing me. Bring it, don't sing it.
The War on Terror™ may have moved on to other things, but true patriots are still hard at work breaking the enemy's will with highly literate, biting sarcasm published on the internet, in English.

:: posted by Joe at 17:14 ::
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:: Tuesday, February 11 ::


SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY:
Has everyone seen this photo? We at That Other Blog don't claim to be the most astute of market analysts, but our intuition tells us that cops in riot gear with machine guns outside the stock exchange can't be good for investor confidence.

:: posted by Joe at 21:50 ::
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WE LOVE VACLAV HAVEL:
David Remnick paints the broad strokes of Havel's legacy in his moving farewell piece in the New Yorker this week. Yet Havel's stance on the most immediate and pressing of questions also reveals his wisdom and intelligence:
"I think it's not by chance that the idea of confronting evil may have found more support in those countries that have had a recent experience with totalitarian systems compared with other European countries that haven't had the same sort of recent experience," he said. "The Czech experience with Munich, with appeasement, with yielding to evil, with demanding more and more evidence that Hitler was truly evil—that may be one reason that we look at things differently than some others. But that doesn't mean automatically that a green light is to be given to preventive strikes. I always believed that every case has to be judged individually. The Euro-American world cannot simply declare preëmptive war on all the regimes that it doesn't like."
We hope that the European Union settles on a constitution soon enough, if only so that Havel might, before he dies, serve as the founding father of a Europe whose spirit and history he embodies more than any other human being.

:: posted by Joe at 21:43 ::
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:: Monday, February 10 ::


LESS FILLING! TASTES GREAT!: The debate over what to do about Iraq has officially degenerated into a pissing contest. With the United States over-stating the the link to terrorism and those on the other side in willful denial of weapons of mass destruction, it is becoming increasingly clear that none of this is about Iraq at all. All sides have in mind something far more important to them than the fate of a measly 25 million people in some backward, if oil-rich, country. Make no mistake: this is about the US role in the world and, by implication, the size of its manhood relative to that of every other nation.

If only spending five times what the other guy does on defense would completely emasculate him. Instead, we have the most powerful empire in history pitted against two also-nuclear-armed former empires, the largest country in Europe and the world's most-populous nation. Let us all hope that events render moot rather than reinforce this colossal game of chicken.

:: posted by Joe at 14:49 ::
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:: Friday, February 7 ::


POLICY TROUBLE, LANGUAGE TROUBLE: Something is weak. Is it the policy? Is it the man? Or is it his command of the English language? Watching French Ambassador to the US, Jean-David Levitte -- yes, he is as effeminately mannered as his name suggests -- speak at the US Institute of Peace, we're having trouble untangling these. Only the result is clear: French policy is being explained to the American press and the American people by the equivalent of a freshman university debate society member caught in the headlights having to make the proposition for a motion he doesn't even understand.

This is unacceptable, especially since US Secretary of State Colin Powell had props, charts, and even an audio/visual element to his presentation. France -- to say nothing of Germany, which is now an official member of the Axis of Semi-Evil along with Cuba and Libya, according to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld -- needs a political communication consultant. Or a better policy. Or a freelance native English-speaking editor, so they can just start communicating with Americans in print, because this is a disaster. We, like many others, aren't completely on board with the Bush administration on Iraq. But in the absence of a credible -- or even coherent -- alternative, we have precious few places to go.

:: posted by Joe at 20:21 ::
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:: Wednesday, February 5 ::


WHERE WE ARE ON IRAQ: Would a war be justified? Yes. But for most people the question of whether we should we fight it is another consideration entirely. There are lots of just wars to be fought out there. Some regimes we're not changing because we don't particularly care in the geopolitical sense (Zimbabwe) or because the costs are too high (North Korea). Indeed, the Bush administration has made it known that its Korea policy is made in the context of no viable military options. National Security Adviser Condi Rice has framed the question of Iraq in the "let's not let it be another North Korea" sense of acting before the potential blowback of an invasion becomes too great.

Today Colin Powell showed, complementary to everything UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has said, that Iraq has been cheating the inspections process. That case is made, and to those for whom that is enough of a reason to go to war we at That Other Blog say go ahead.

But by that standard we should be going into North Korea, too. The logical implication of Iraq cheating the inspections process is that they do have weapons of mass destruction. At the point where we acknowledge this to be true, how are North Korea and Iraq any different? The basic assumption of our Korea policy is that were we to launch an invasion across the 38th parallel into North Korea, certain destruction for Seoul -- just by conventional weapons, not WMD -- would follow. The destruction of Tel Aviv upon invasion of Iraq seems less certain, but not by much. A devastating attack on Israel using conventional weapons seems less likely, but, then again, the use of WMD seems slightly more likely given Iraq's propensity to use them to make a point. Our point is: given all of Powell's evidence, how is Iraq the "safe" country to attack?

The administration knows that it can't rely on evidence of cheating the UN to rouse the American people to war. This is why Colin Powell had one set of damning evidence on Iraq's hiding its weapons and another set of murky accusations about its ties to Al Qaeda. A link to terrorism (especially Al Qaeda) would connect the urgency of preventing another September 11th to regime change in Iraq. What has been revealed so far has not established that link.

But in the mind of the administration and much of the American public, that link to terrorism is what would constitute a real case for war. It is a shame that refusing to disarm and developing WMD -- as Iraq is clearly doing -- justifies a war, but doesn't by itself inspire the will among Americans to fight it. Indeed, firm links to Al Qaeda brought war on Afghanistan without a hint of WMD. So shall it be for any state that harbors terrorists, says President Bush.

What then of all this inspections nonsense? We get the impression that the Bush administration has made a calculation. It has bet that a convincing case about skirting UN resolutions and refusing to disarm will buy them half the will to fight. To that they only need to add half a link to terrorism and -- viola! -- suddenly the political math gives you the support to fight the war you've always wanted.

:: posted by Joe at 16:33 ::
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APOLOGIES: We've had a surge of non-blog interests and preoccupations in the past few days, and so have been remiss. Sometimes we think that a personal/general-interest blog would have been a better idea. But that would amount to more navel-gazing than the internet (and you) could handle, and, when combined with our use of the collective pronoun, would put us over the pretentiousness limit. No, we conclude, it would not be better.

Many larger projects loom at That Other Blog. They won't be mentioned here because that would create a sense of expectation that would cripple those projects and create an automatic, visceral procrastination on all things blog-related (see: the second SOTU post). But rest assured that many links and raw -- raw! -- thoughts and analysis sit in draft. In the meantime, we'll try to pick up the pace with those smaller, angrier, less-considered posts that we know you want.

:: posted by Joe at 15:34 ::
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