30 January, 2006

With The Furies Breathing

I had precisely two reactions when I got down to Ezra's spot in my daily blogrolling. Specifically, when I read Pepper's latest weekend-guest posting. (Question for the Big Media Manners one: If someone is a regular guest poster on one's blog, when would it be correct blogger etiquette to no longer refer to them as "guest"?)
This announcement is more than enough to send a rumble through DiFi's base:

Cindy Sheehan May Run Against Feinstein

First, prolific swearing, as in a combination of Marine Corps Drill Instructor in creativity and/or absolute volume and drunken longshoreman in sheer vocabulary.
Sheehan accused Feinstein of being out of touch with Californians on the issue.
Sheehan said running in the Democratic primary would help make a broader point.

"If I decided to run, I would have no illusions of winning, but it would bring attention to all the peace candidates in the country," she said.
"I can't see --— if they think it's going to help peace --— that they would be opposed to me doing it," she said.

Second, I started getting the lyrics to REM's "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" stuck in my head. Why? Because this is precisely the same kind of inane babbling that tends to bring on such an attack of the memory. (And just for future reference, when I start getting "Shiny Happy People" stuck in my head, it's time to run for cover.)

First off, Sheehan is the one that is majorly out of touch with pretty much everyone who would be politically this side of Chairman Mao Tse Tung. Albeit, she does call Berkeley her home town, so that may explain some things. If folks on the far right think Dianne "Tax-enstein" Feinstein is the far-left of the Democratic party, they haven't seen anything yet. Sheehan's political views are so far to the left, they make Lenin look like Limbaugh. Part of me wants to think that's simple alliteration, but from everything I've read and heard about/from her, it seems to be closer to the mark than I consider comfortable.

Second, the most insane thing to say at the start of your prospective candidacy is that you "have no illusions of winning." The moment that comes out of your mouth, you should save your supporters from the headaches and campaign donations and not run as per Rule One of Candidate Intentional Reality: If you don't think you can win the election, don't run for office. I've been involved with some extraordinarily vicious political campaigns, both at the primary and general levels, and the general stress it places on the staff (from the campaign managers down to the phonebank-calling and doorknob-shaking volunteer folks) is of incredible levels. Why allow yourself to put people in that position if you don't expect to come out of the victory party with your hands raised in victory?

Oh yes. To "bring attention to all the peace candidates in the country" was her reason. I suppose that Mother Sheehan has forgotten about that huge toolbox she already has at her disposal: The Daily Kos. There are few more potent arenas to "bring attention" than showing up with a new diary entry over as Markos' site, particularly as a big-name activist. That will get front-paged and commented and thoroughly googlebombed throughout the blogosphere within 2 hours of hitting the ENTER key (with entries such as this post you're currently reading, more likely than not). Which will make her the featured topic on every single FOX News Channel show (in addition to the frequent mention of her name on CNN, most probably with Jack Shafferty wishing really hard that he could use vulgarity on live television without losing his job), 24 hours a day, with the fervor and mayhem normally reserved for missing high school girls (but only if they're white, cute, and visiting Aruba). Which will, in turn, trickle down into every single 9 o'clock newscast in every single market in the entire country, at least some of which will use the national-event-turned-local-news-angle and mention a pro-peace candidate within the broadcast area in order to bring a personal touch to their reporting, thus bringing attention to peace candidates all across the country, if not a good chunk of the English-speaking world.

This power isn't huge enough already? She has to consider a Senate candidacy in order to get an even bigger soapbox? I really don't think so.

And finally, she has to ask her family what they think of the idea. Just as with our local Most Rising Star, Denver mayor John Hickenlooper's yet-to-be-announced maybe-intention to run for governor, if you have to publicly state that you need to ask your family of their opinion as to your election plans, it is best to NOT DO IT! To make an announcement to the media about needing to speak to your family before running for public office is the surest sign that you haven't thought things all the way through yet. Anin electionon politics, not thinking things through is the surest way to miserable defeat in the most abjectly humiliating way possible. Anything less than complete and thorough planning, including for contingencies more unlikely than Osama bin Laden turning himself in at the nearest American Embassy to stand trial for more counts of murder than all serial killers in American history combined, is a disaster in the making. So if Cindy decides to go along with this horrible plan, it will probably be the antithesis to the Rovian masterful execution.

Oh yes. If she does decide to run, it will definitely be time to have Shiny Happy People stuck in my head ad nauseum. Because doing so will increase the odds of the Democratic Party getting a majority on November 7th in either house of Congress by, at minimum, an order of magnitude. And that is what A. A. Milne would refer to as being a Very Bad Thing.

Cindy, for the love of all the Democratic Party stands for, don't do it. Keep with the soapbox you have available to you. Anything else is either just getting greedy or having an ego larger than reality can support.


28 January, 2006

Mod Squad Stays The Course

Unlike our good buddy Atrios, I don't see a problem with Ken Salazar joining [link] with Senator Pryor's announcement that "there is not a smoking gun in [Samuel Alito's] past that would warrant 'extraordinary circumstances' and subsequently a filibuster against his nomination." I also am pleased that he will join Pryor in voting against Alito's confirmation due to the fact that "Alito will move the Supreme Court outside the mainstream of American law."

As a moderate Democrat, there are times when I have to hold my nose and accept that some bad things happen. The probability of there being a Supreme Court Justice named Samuel Alito is definately one of those times. I would not have expected a conservative president to nominate someone who was a judicial moderate to the highest court in the nation. Yet Alito isn't even the caliber of current Chief Justice Roberts, who at least possesses a degree of respect for his ideological opposites, both on the Court and off. I do not see any such personality trait from anything I've seen/read from/about Alito, and that saddens me. Truth be told, it scares the ever-loving crap out of me that the man appears to be of a worse philosophical bent than Scalia. (At least Scalia has a sense of humor that he willingly displays in public. And a good one, too!)

But even more important to me is the simple fact that Salazar willingly joined the Senate's Mod Squad. Fourteen members, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, created a new force to be reckoned with in the upper house. Indeed, an entirely new caucus was born on that day when the Gang of 14 agreement was reached. Regardless of party standing, I find it most important that the ideological radicals in either party do not take firm control of the government. That was one of the reasons why I started declaring myself to be a moderate in the first place, and anything that brings a voice of moderation to the political process is something I support wholeheartedly. And to violate the agreement would be to completely revoke any progress that has been made towards moderacy and bipartisanship in the Senate.

This brings me to the Gang of 14 agreement itself, as it applies to the Alito Nomination. And I quote:
Nominees should be filibustered only under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.
Samuel Alito is not an "extrordinary circumstance." He is well qualified, even in my view. He is literate, intelligent, and a strong jurist. Whether or not I can agree with the man in any political viewpoint is immaterial to his qualifications.

Senator Salazar, stay the course. Vote to invoke cloture, and vote against the confirmation of Samuel Alito. Do not allow the most vocal and ideological of Democratic party members to sway you into making the wrong choice, both for yourself and for the nation as a whole. We need the moderate voice in Washington, particularly in this time of extreme partisanship, and I am proud to have you as my voice in the Senate.

22 January, 2006

Ignore Those Shaking Hands

Seems like scientists all over are determined on making this Christmas season last for me. Well, not just me, but coffee lovers everywhere, (Well, you tea fanatics can rest easy with this one as well.) as the presents just keep on coming.
All that's why this physician was pleasantly surprised by the results of his new study in the December 2005 Gastroenterology. It showed a protective effect from coffee and tea. People who routinely drank more than two cups of coffee or tea per day faced only half the risk of being hospitalized with cirrhosis and other types of serious liver disease as did people consuming less of these drinks. The data, collected as part of a federal survey of a cross-section of U.S. adults, spanned roughly 20 years and included 9,849 people.
The researchers identified people who had been hospitalized for or died from liver disease during the follow-up period and compared their earlier reported consumption of caffeinated beverages with that of people who hadn't had liver disease serious enough for hospitalization. The comparison revealed no effect from caffeine. However, the researchers then restricted their analysis to people at high risk of liver disease, such as those who were seriously overweight or had diabetes, were over 40, or reported downing at least one alcoholic drink per day.

Among these people overall, the risk of death or hospitalization from liver disease during the 20-year follow-up was 1.4 percent. However, among people who drank less than a cup of coffee or tea per day, the risk was 1.8 percent, and among study participants drinking one to two cups per day, the risk was 1.6 percent. Among people drinking even more of the beverages, the risk of serious liver disease was just 1.1 percent.

No effect on liver disease emerged among people drinking only decaf coffee, instant coffee, herbal teas, or cola. Data on these sources became available only in an early-1980s follow-up survey of the participants. However, when caffeine from all sources—including colas and chocolate—was summed, a related pattern took shape: Risk of liver disease dropped as total caffeine consumption climbed. Everhart notes that coffee consumption dominated these caffeine-consumption totals.
"I keep bugging my colleagues that they need to study this [coffee-tea-liver association] in a more rigorous way to find the potential mechanism of action for caffeine or other compounds in these beverages," Everhart says. Indeed, he notes, with more than a decade of increasingly stronger hints that caffeinated beverages are beneficial, "we still have nothing but speculation about why they might be protective."

My continued admiration goes to these wonderful caffienated products of nature known as coffee and tea.

And should any scientist appear in front of me who is working on these studies, feel free to ask me for a cuppa. My treat. You've earned it in more ways than one, my friends.

However, if you are someone who proves that there's a chemical in coffee that cuses impotence, I'm buying you a cup of decaf Sanka. That should be sufficient punishment.

[Turn signal: Andrew, of course!]

18 January, 2006

Down With The Sickness

I hate getting sick.

Unfortunately, the sickness doesn't ask for my opinion before moving in. And doesn't pay rent, either.

And yesterday afternoon, I had to do the unthinkable for me. I called my boss and said that I desperately needed to go home before I seriously hurt myself, which is something that I had never, EVER, done before in my entire life. It went against the entire work ethic I'd been raised with: if you can stand, you can work. That was something that my grandmother pounded into me with every little sniffle, cough, and minor health annoyance that cropped up during my childhood days. So having to say that I couldn't continue my scheduled shift was... Well, it was humiliating to me and completely counter to my work ethic.

But a temperature of over 102, severe nausea, and a complete loss of equilibrium tends to be a hint that there is something seriously wrong with the situation. Particularly when said nausea took hold in front of a customer and said lack of equilibrium knocked my sorry rump onto the ground. There are some hints that even I can't avoid, and those would be a definite qualifier for the whack-inna-head-with-sledgehammer level of obviousness.

And when I got home, I immediately crashed, burned, and imitated the unliving dead for a few hours, which is even more uncommon for me. Most people would understand that being sick would be a cause for passing out cold, but my nocturnally-associated biological clock kept insisting that it was only lunchtime. Fortunately, by now I have gotten up to the point of night where my normal bedtime is a mere hour away, so getting more sleep won't seem too unnatural to me.

I hate getting down with the sickness.

14 January, 2006

John Who?

Well, things have certainly been a-buzzing over on the other side of the double yellow line tonight. NZ Bear's post endorsing Arizona congressman John Shadegg's move towards the Majority Leader's office has made everyone go gaga. From normally sober folks like Glenn Reynolds to humorous sarcasm artists like Jeff Goldstein, anyone that's has even a slightly moderate lean, which will include Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt only for simplicity's sake in this post, is jumping in with both feet in support of Rep. Shadegg's decision to run against Roy Blunt and John Boehner for the second most powerful position in the House.

My personal opinion? Well, folks from the other side of the double-yellow line would say I shouldn't have an opinion, now wouldn't they? These, of course, would tend to be the exact same folks that predicted the heat death of the universe due solely to Nancy Peloci's ascendency to Minority Leader, so there'd be just a wee bit of poetic justice in pointing out their double standards in a pre-emptive strike, wouldn't there.

At first blush, Shadegg is just what he appears to be: a mainstream Republican with semi-strong libertarian leanings. That's easy to peg just by reading his entry in On The Issues. Not to mention these paragraphs in a Forbes article:
In 2000, Shadegg was elected chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group that helps shape conservative policy for the House. Last year, he was elected chairman of the Republican policy committee, the research arm of the GOP and the fifth-ranking position in leadership.

He has worked on health care, energy and environmental issues. Last year, as Congress began to address immigration policy, Shadegg held a series of unity dinners to help lawmakers find common ground.
"John is seen as a hard worker," said Arizona State University professor Bruce Merrill. "He's really a low-key person. He's not a person that's been very controversial with issues. He's not a person you hear about in the media very often."
And yet there's a rumor that he was listed in the same document that is in the process of bringing down Bob Ney, albeit not to nearly the same extent as Ney was. And a television station in Tuscon reports that Shadegg had his own run-ins with the Abramoff machine. So he can't really be all that upfront as not knowing the lobbyist machine first-hand, now can he? Particularly not "for those of us who want a limited, and more accountable government" like this fellow over here.

And what's quite disturbing to me is the last paragraph of the above-cited article:
Although he is considered quiet, Shadegg made headlines at the 2004 GOP convention, where he referred to filmmaker Michael Moore as the "anti-Christ," called Moore's anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" a "crockumentary," and said supporters of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry "have mental health problems."
This doesn't sound like someone who would encourage someone to stretch their hands across the aisle in a display of bipartisanship in order to pass key legislation that both parties consider to be good for the country... But this isn't the Speaker's slot he's going for, but the majority (for now?) leadership. So perhaps the ability to see those on the other side of the aisle as actual human beings rather than just those with "mental health problems" isn't the best criteria to hope for.

Now, do I know everything? Nope. Do I know anything? A bit. So with my small amount of knowledge, I'll reserve my opinion until more data comes out. Hopefully, he will be everything desired by those who have signed on with NZ Bear's endorsement. And for their sakes, I really hope he will not be an embodiment of Badger Blues' prediction:
Second verse, same as the first
A little bit louder, and a little bit worse.
Mr. Shadegg, I hope that, should you come out ahead in the tally on Febuary 2nd, you really are what your supporters say you are. For if you aren't, there will be a lot of trouble. But not for you. For your entire party, and the nation as a whole. We cannot comprehend the possibility that the business-as-usual attitude can continue unchecked in the Capitol, even on K Street. And if it does, I personally will wish you beaten about the head and neck with a rubber albatross until you realize the concept on which you were championed by.

And I hope to God that those undersigned on NZ Bear's endorsement will hold him accountable for his actions should he stuff things up, whether as majority leader or as plain-old congressman.

13 January, 2006

Questionable Linkings

As some of you out there have probably figured out by now, I'm somewhat of a geek at heart.

Well, the truth is that I'm just a wee bit more than somewhat, as the Cowboy Bebop wallscrolls in my room can attest to. And the Ein plushie that sits next to my monitor to guard my pile of junk mail. And the limited edition Macross Saga mechas (No link. I ain't giving away my sources!) sitting on the shelf in my closet where the cats can't get to them. And the Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex box set I got myself for Christmas (No one but me would think about getting me such a cool gift.) but haven't talked myself into opening yet because once I do, it'll be nothing but plopping myself in front of the television and wondering with a fraction of my attention span if there's a GitS:SAC drinking game out there. (I just have to wonder... When you buy youself something as a present, do you have to write yourself a thank-you note? Interpersonal protocol wonks of the world, the floor is open for debate.)

Well, the other half of my geekiness is displayed by webcomics. I've been reading Megatokyo since before Piro started in on Chapter 3, 9th Elsewhere since Chapter 2, Chugworth Academy since before Chloe had pastel-colored hair... Plus Tao of Geek (self-explanatory), Two Lumps (Cats really are better than us, you know.), Blue Crash Kit (Already paid my anthropomorphic dues.), and Exterminatus Now (Ditto. And recovering 40K addict.)... Oh, and you definitely can't let me forget The Order of the Stick. (Recovering RPG addict.) (And no, that doesn't stand for Rocket-Propelled Grenade!)

Well, a new one has been added to the list of webcomics that make me laugh so hard that I end up spilling a half-eaten box of BBQ pork with vegetables from my local and good Chinese delivery spot all over my keyboard, causing a frantic 25 minutes of tearing apart my apartment looking for the spare and scaring the unholy heck out of my cats with my mutterings and half-vocalized obscenities just so I could keep reading without having to use the scrollbar as my laughter kept shaking the trackball too much for any regular stability to enter the equation.

Ladies and Gentlemen... I give to you:

Questionable Content!

Seriously, if you have even close to the same warped and twisted sense of humor as I do; know someone who is either goth, emo, or indie; happen to BE either goth, emo, or indie; love obscure references that would make the back-when-he-was-still-on-HBO Dennis Miller shake his head and wonder what the heck you're talking about...

Well, I'm fairly certain that you'd absolutely love this one. Just do me a favor.

Keep the Chinese take-out as far away from the keyboard as possible.

Trust me on this.

12 January, 2006

Time Out!

This is directed solely to those posting the incoherent garbage over here and here...

Guys, this is the exact sort of thing that makes the blowhards over at RedState feel perfectly justified when they go on the attack. And this is the exact type of thing that we Democrats were universally decrying when it happened to Chelsea Clinton back in the 90's, isn't it.

And this is the exact type of event that caused me to take the Daily Kos off my list of daily readings to begin with. Not just because of the commenters going overboard, but the occasional cut-from-the-same-cloth diary being promoted to the front page. (Well, that and Armando becoming a front-pager. Couldn't stand the guy's writing style. Or politics, for that matter.)

I don't even read the comments over at Eschaton anymore, mostly because I can't stomach all the vitriol-fueled garbage that gets spun around until it sounds like fact. Fortunately, Duncan has a bit better grasp of factuality than his commenters, and rarely gives them the legitimization of being on the main page.

Folks, this blog here is, and will continue to be, completely without any snarkiness aimed at the family of political figures. Period, ad infinitum, ad astra, ad nauseum. If I can't simply put all the attention on the political figure and their viewpoints, decisions, and suitability themselves, I simply cannot justify putting fingers to keyboard. It's not worth the effort, either in time spent or in thought processes wasted.

So to the pathetic morons partaking in such efforts, I have three words:


That is all.

[Turn signals to Glenn Reynolds, Right Wing News, and Ankle Biting Pundits.]

10 January, 2006

The Myth Of The Democratic Base

This is an idea that's been bouncing around in my skull for the last two months, so kindly excuse any stray echoes. However, this post by the Mystery Pollster started off in a way that renewed my thought process:
Over the last few weeks, bloggers have debated the appeal of a potential presidential candidacy by Hillary Clinton to the "base" of the Democratic party.
Notice how he put the word base in the quotation marks up there? Good.

Because we Democrats don't actually have a base to speak of.

Look at the GOP of the past twelve years or so. They have three easily identifiable sections that can always be relied upon for an boost completely independent of, but oftimes in the lead position of, the basic rank-and-file of the Republican Party. Think of them as more of the Red Bull of partisan politics:
  • The Religious Right: As a whole they will always support the social portions of the Republican platform and, by extention, the platform as a whole. Period. Ad infinitum. Ad astra. Ad nauseum. And the party knows it, too. See: Gary Bauer, Pat Robertson, James Dobson.
  • Economic Conservatives: Particularly those of the low-taxes/low-spending variety, they are the central axis on which support for the economic portions of the platform rely on. The party doesn't need to know this one, as they tend to be at the forefront of the push anyways.
  • Social Libertarians: Read as strict constitutionalists, this category is the spiritual home of a vast majority of NRA members, but also contains the property-rights supporters and members of the Fourth Amendment Foundation. See: Charlton Heston and pre-Bush-the-Elder/post-Richard-Nixon Hunter S. Thompson.
Well, that is an easy set of bullet points, isn't it. Simple. Honest. Direct. Everyone in their categories and every category interested in a single goal. And what else is it?


So let's take a look at the majority factions of the Democratic Party. Again, this is not including the basic rank-and-file liberals that the party depends on for its general existence, but the specific categories that supposedly make up the base and the different single-issue sections involved.

Social Liberals
  • Pro-Choice Campaigners
  • Feminists
  • African-American-centrics
  • Mexican-American-centrics
  • The Political Correctness Movement
  • Big-E Environmentalists
Economic Liberals include:
  • National Heath Care advocates
  • Social Security advocates
  • Big Government advocates
Political Liberals include:
  • Rank-And-File Democrat (as opposed to liberal) Voters
  • The Socialist/Communist Minority Wing
  • Civil Libertarians
Notice the difference between the two sets of bullet points? Not yet, huh. Well, it's simple. Our party is being pulled in vastly different directions by every single interest group within the greater definition of the word Democrat, while the GOP's bullet point list is all pulling together towards a common goal, namely the continued dominance of their political viewpoints in the public arena.

And far be it for these different categories of liberals to work together on an issue, or even place the party above their own specific area of concern. Look at the Nader candidacy of 2000 for an example of how one specific section of the alledged Democratic base splintered off to support their own set of issues. Sure, it was great in most of the country for the greater cause of "raising awareness of (insert-issue-here)" that the more liberal folks out there constantly attempt, but in the end it cost us the White House for eight years, which shows that the means did not justify the ends.

Admittedly, there are folks that represent many of these ideas in the same body. Look at folks such as Kevin Drum, Duncan Black, and Josh Marshall for the biggest of the blog-writing examples. However, their range tends to be limited strictly to the latter of the overriding categories, and leave the first category completely alone. Once that first category is breached, regardless of severity or intention or other areas of concern, those involved are considered to be (at least in the realm of public perception and political definition) single-issue voters and reduced to simply being single-issue activists based off of that one category.

You need another example? I have two words for you: Amanda Marcotte. 'Nuff said?

And you want to know the really difficult part about this whole issue? The party as a whole cannot survive without the social liberal wing. Should every single member of the social liberal factions be sent off into a political netherworld and fend for themselves on the ballot, the only parts of the country that would continue to be represented by Democrats would be the most traditionally liberal areas.

And so, we must continue the unwieldy methods as best indicated in this post on the Daily Kos back in October. Why? Because the socially liberal factions of the party demand their pound of flesh and prominent display on the platform. If it is not provided, they will threaten to take their toys and leave, and thereby flush the commode on any hopes for a Democratic victory for that year.

Which is why there is not, and cannot be, an easily defined "Democratic Base", at least not in the way the Republican Base is defined. Our party relies on so many different (and constantly shifting) alliances that to be able to define them in one fell swoop is impossible. And any attempt to do so is futile, as those very same alliances will insist on primary credit.

06 January, 2006

We Hereby Resolve

Drat. It's resolution time again. And I don't think I've managed to keep a single one of my resolutions since I started making them way back in the 4th grade. So this year, I decided to take a page out of my co-worker's book and hereby resolve to make no more resolutions!

Well, that didn't last very long, did it?

Why? Because EC decided to post something that made me change my mind.
Before I list things to do, before I catalog things to acquire, before all other resolutions for 2006, I will put first getting understanding. And with that getting, get busy behaving better as well.

In our pop-psych, celebrity values world, there is an excess of emotion, a glut of consumption, a preponderance of pleasure seeking, and a surplus of self-serving. These do not add up to wisdom.

Therefore, my New Year wish for all of us: Cool headed, warm-hearted, far-sighted, enduring wisdom.

And with that, she definately takes a bigger step towards her resolution than anything I've done so far in my approximately 29 years on this planet.

Normally, deliberately seeking wisdom in and of itself is a fool's errand. I've always gone by the old logical saw of :
To gain wisdom, one must first gain experience.
To gain experience, one must gain a sense of learning.
To gain a sense of learning, one must first make numerous mistakes.
Therefore: to gain wisdom, first make numerous mistakes.
And with that, I offer EC my own words of wisdom. I forget the citation, and Google wasn't much help this time.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Lord, make us foolish for our struggle.

02 January, 2006

By Coffee Alone

Remember this post from October?

Well, David Darlington of In The Agora gives us yet another reason to chant the coffee mantra in the mornings.

Why? Apparently, coffee is actually good for us!

Read the article. Trust me on this one.
What has made nutrition experts rethink the pros and cons? Worrisome preliminary findings have been refuted by bigger, more rigorous studies. "A lot of early research was flawed," says Manfred Kroger, a now retired food scientist from Pennsylvania State University who has long been tracking it. "Coffee lovers are more likely to do harmful things like smoke and drink alcohol in excess, so coffee was often falsely incriminated."
But "if you're already drinking five or six cups a day, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a reason you should cut back," says Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and a leading investigator of coffee.
Nutrition experts like Willett point out that, like tea, coffee is rich in antioxidants--substances in vegetables and fruits that deactivate disease-causing byproducts of the body's metabolism. "Coffee is by far the largest source of antioxidants in our diet," says Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. That's not just because we drink so much. In tests conducted at Vinson's lab, coffee topped the list of foods that are densest in antioxidants, surpassing blueberries, broccoli, and most other produce. Only chocolate, dried fruits, and dried beans ranked higher.
It is true that coffee contains a fatlike chemical, cafestol, known to raise cholesterol levels. But cafestol is mainly found in coffee made by the European method of boiling ground beans in water or the related "French press" method. Percolated or filtered coffee, favored by most Americans, removes the offending agent and does not hike cholesterol.
And lay off the decaf!
A word of caution: Decaf coffee may be an exception to this rule. A recent Stanford study found that even consumers of filtered decaf had modestly higher levels of fatty acids and other precursors of LDL, or bad cholesterol.