Inside the Laptop of a Madman

Ever wonder what was on the hard drive of terrorist kingpin Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? Well, now we know:

On the hard drive was everything from information about Zarqawi’s medical condition to pictures of himself, kept in a file labeled “My Pictures.”

Oh, what I would give to see the roll from “Our Family Vacation in Iraq.”

Also interesting is that, when captured, he was carrying Euros, and not Dollars (like Uday Hussein). If the terrorists have devalued the Dollar, should we be concerned? They’re usually market leaders in this sort of thing, owing to their lack of a need for stability!

Seriously, though, the image of Zarqawi fiddling around trying to download the latest version of Windows Media Player so he could edit and upload his videos to the web is still priceless.

Regardless, I hope we nail the f**ker.

Oliver Willis

Ok, so apparently I’m pretty late to this game, but I have to take a moment and re-direct viewers to Oliver Willis’ Brand Democrat site. Great stuff. I love this t-shirt:

Almost makes me want to be a Democratic partisan again. Almost. And that’s the idea of Brand Democrat, I presume: make the brand stand for something cool again.

Well done.

“Operatives”

This is a fascinating story, if only to watch the snarky New York Times try and squeeze in the phrase “gay Republican political operative” into every other sentence (see the photo caption).

Shh… can you hear that? It’s the sound of a self-satisfied smirk over at the NYT copy desk.

Maybe I don’t really need to ask, but …

Are the Republicans insane?

For the life of me, I can’t fathom why the GOP, party of the Fellatio Impeachment, refuses to acknowledge the obvious — that Tom DeLay sets the bar for Congressional corruption in the 21st century.

This is not, and never has been, a nice guy. This article from Mother Jones (note the date — 1996!) details DeLay’s early dabblings in the scandals that will ensure he remains infamous for a long, long time.

Once the Republicans stop protecting him, that is …

Bizarre Travels in the Strange World of Old School Capitalism

Back in the day when “capitalists” were rumored to look like Mr. Peanut and talk like Burgess Meredith, there were these funny things called “stock certificates.” These were actual pieces of paper signifying ownership in a real, live company, often held in bank vaults or under mattresses.

Now the problem with these things is that, as paper, they were subject to theft, fire, dementia, etc. Things got really fun when the companies represented went through M&A … every time a company would get bought out, the paper would have to be sent in for processing, and then reissued in appropriate amounts for whatever portion of the new company you now owned.

I’m just old enough to have actually owned a few of these (along with a wooden tennis racket and a TI-99 … but let’s not get in to that). I got, like 3 share of GM stock for high school graduation.

Subsequently, GM issued shares for its Hughes Electronics subsidiary, part of which was then bought by Raytheon, and the rest of which was eventually spun off into the Direct TV group. To complicate things, and for reasons I still don’t fully grasp, I actually bought a couple of other GM shares along the way.

So a couple of years ago there was a great reckoning in this bizarre little capitalist empire of mine. Raytheon bought the rest of Hughes for shares and cash — I got a check and, like, a third of a share of Raytheon. Then Raytheon did some kind of reverse split, which effectively bought me out of my smallholder ownings (I like to think it’s because I always voted for resolutions that Raytheon divest itself if its military businesses on my proxies … but since my vote counted for less than in the average US presidential race, I think that’s a hippie fantasy).

Somehow, I ended up with two physical, paper shares of Direct TV, which I then deposited in my Ameritrade account, where they rest, hopefully awaiting a time when they appreciate enough to justify the eleven bucks it’ll cost me to sell them.

And I thought that was the end of my relationship with this company, until I got a letter in the mail at my mom’s house offering me the opportunity to sell my FOUR Direct TV shares with no service charges. WTF?!

Convinced it was a hoax, I duly logged on to the Direct TV site. After much searching — and much to my surprise — it turns out that somehow, some way, I have an additional four shares that Direct TV has been holding “on book” for me for probably close to ten years now.

Bizarre …

If they were actually worth something, I’d buy you all a cocktail.

Tom DeLay vs. Trent Lott

So I’m watching Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, and he’s interviewing a reporter from the Wall Street Journal whose name escapes me. They’re talking about Pres. Bush’s decision to cozy up to DeLay today, and how that differed from Bush’s reaction to Lott, which was to distance himself and basically engineer Lott’s downfall. Recall: Lott got in trouble for associating himself with Strom Thurmond’s racist past. DeLay is in trouble for (allegedly) taking illegal gifts from lobbyists.

The reporter says that there are two main differences: one, Bush needs DeLay to get a lot of stuff done in the House right now (Social Security reform, etc.), and two, Lott’s remarks brought up images of a racist Republican party that Bush was specifically trying to distance himself from.

So, to reiterate:

1. Bush is keeping DeLay around because he’s a loyal button man, whereas Lott was a prickly independent sort of fellow who didn’t like taking marching orders from Rove. Lott was replaced by Bill Frist, whose signature trait is loyalty, not competency (witness how he got outfoxed by the more senior Sen. Reid this week).

2. The Lott scandal brought up images of racism, which Bush rightfully didn’t want to be associated with. The DeLay scandal brings up images of the GOP sucking corporate schlong, which… well… Bush is apparently OK with.

Of course, the WSJ reporter never mentioned that last bit… and Olbermann never asked (Lazy MSM!). But that’s the implication.

Filibustering Justified

Interesting take on the peculiar mathematics of the Senate as it relates to who, in fact, represents “the majority” (via Slate):

What about reality? Well, if each of every state’s two senators is taken to represent half that state’s population, then the Senate’s fifty-five Republicans represent 131 million people, while its forty-four Democrats represent 161 million. Looked at another way, the present Senate is the product of three elections, those of 2000, 2002, and 2004. In those elections, the total vote for Democratic senatorial candidates, winning and losing, was 99.7 million; for Republicans it was 97.3 million. The forty-four-person Senate Democratic minority, therefore, represents a two-million-plus popular majority—a circumstance that, unless acres trump people, is at variance with common-sense notions of democracy. So Democrats, as democrats, need not feel too terribly guilty about engaging in a spot of filibustering from time to time.

Of course, the Senate is designed as a collection of states, not people. So acres do trump people. Which is why, in general, I’m a conservative when it comes to mucking with the constitution. It’s all in perfect balance. When the 12th Amendment was passed, it made the Senate seem more populist than was originally intended. This, in turn, is giving Bill Frist the rhetorical leverage to claim that the Democrats are subverting the will of the majority of Americans who voted GOP in November. Even though it doesn’t wash with the numbers.

Amendments 13-15, of course, I’d like to keep. And many others, too, of course.

Do We Need a Red-State Linux?

Robert L. Jaimeson is arguing unpersuasively that Microsoft buckled in its support for Washington-state non-discrimination laws out of fear of “the red Republican tide rolling across the country.” He continues:

“There are a lot of computers and software customers out in those Republican-leaning states. In the inner sanctum of Bill Gates’ Redmond campus, I picture number crunchers trying to figure out whether all of that money is worth losing over a gay rights bill in a state divided on the issue.”

Uh… really? Do you really think that Conservative Radicals would boycott Microsoft? Who would they turn to? Apple???!!! The fruity tech company run by California hippies??? I think not. Rush Limbaugh may be a rabid Apple fan, but it’s still a tough sell. Especially when Apple’s CEO has publicly admitted that Microsoft’s products would be a lot better if Bill Gates “had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”

That said, Microsoft does need the GOP’s support now more than ever. The GOP is, at its core, anti-free market, and they live to protect entrenched corporate power at every turn. Witness the Bankrupcy Bill. So it’s no surprise that they’ve made close friends with anti-anti-trust Microsoft. This is the point Jaimeson should be making. Remind people that, in the end, for all the talk about demonizing gays, it’s all about protecting corporate power.