Paul Sarbanes: Another Dem Retiring

Sorry to hear that another Dem seat, this one in Maryland, will come up for grabs since Senator Paul Sarbanes announced yesterday he won't seek reelection.

John Edwards did us no favors by giving up his seat to run for prez/VP.

But hell, if Joe Lieberman would quit, I might dance a jig. Right now, I suspect Connecticut might easily elect another Dem in his place. The Rowland corruption mess lingers on the tongue like very rancid milk.

More Justice Delay-ed

From the Washington Post via MSNBC:

An Indian tribe and a gambling services company made donations to a Washington public policy group that covered most of the cost of a $70,000 trip to Britain by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), his wife, two aides and two lobbyists in mid-2000, two months before DeLay helped kill legislation opposed by the tribe and the company.

Not a Republican? Then Bush Doesn't Need to Hear From You

From The Hill:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said yesterday that President Bush’s policy of excluding non-Republicans from town-hall meetings on Social Security reform was “not an American thing to do.”
The so-called town-hall meetings are only open to registered GOP voters and party activists.

Perhaps that is how Mr. Bush plans to "save" Social Security: you can only collect if you have proof you voted for him directly so he didn't have to steal your vote by paying Diebold.

Those "Few Bad Apples" Are Starting to Mount

From The Times:

Two Afghan prisoners who died in American custody in Afghanistan in December 2002 were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal investigative reports that have not yet been made public.

One soldier, Pfc. Willie V. Brand, was charged with manslaughter in a closed hearing last month in Texas in connection with one of the deaths, another Army document shows. Private Brand, who acknowledged striking a detainee named Dilawar 37 times, was accused of having maimed and killed him over a five-day period by "destroying his leg muscle tissue with repeated unlawful knee strikes."

The attacks on Mr. Dilawar were so severe that "even if he had survived, both legs would have had to be amputated," the Army report said, citing a medical examiner.

The reports, obtained by Human Rights Watch, provide the first official account of events that led to the deaths of the detainees, Mullah Habibullah and Mr. Dilawar, at the Bagram Control Point, about 40 miles north of Kabul. The deaths took place nearly a year before the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Among those implicated in the killings at Bagram were members of Company A of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, from Fort Bragg, N.C. The battalion went on to Iraq, where some members established the interrogation unit at Abu Ghraib and have been implicated in some abuses there.

The reports, from the Army Criminal Investigation Command, also make clear that the abuse at Bagram went far beyond the two killings. Among those recommended for prosecution is an Army military interrogator from the 519th Battalion who is said to have "placed his penis along the face" of one Afghan detainee and later to have "simulated anally sodomizing him (over his clothes)."
Yes, I'm sure Rush will make this sound like a great time was had by all.

U.S. Dollar's Freefall Impacts Everywhere

Take this for example, from Lesotho in S Africa:

Buy a T-shirt at Wal-Mart, fleece sweats at J. C. Penney or Hanes panties anywhere in the United States, and there's a halfway decent chance that they were stitched together here, in an acre-size garment factory crammed with thousands of frantically clacking sewing machines. Virtually its entire output, 25,000 items of clothing daily, is America-bound.

These days, that is a disaster. "Two thousand people work here, and unfortunately last week I had to retrench 500 people, because there are no orders," Boodia Heman, director of the Ever Unison Garments factory, said in a recent interview. "The American buyer is not coming to Lesotho to buy."

Actually, the problem is not so much the buyers from America. It is the American dollar, and its headlong plunge in value. Three years ago, Lesotho's garment factories had to sell only $56 worth of clothes to stores in the United States to cover the monthly wage of 650 maloti for a sewing-machine operator. Today, that same salary consumes $109 in sales.

Makes You Really Want to Buy a Lottery Ticket, Doesn't it?

This clown again.

Where the hell does this so-called "great Christian" find time to go to church between fights at strip clubs, getting stopped for DUIs, having people die of drug overdoses at his home, and such?

Keep Your Cotton Pickin' Bureaucratic Hands Off My Blog

Gee. This is probably the one and only time that Michelle MalfeasanceMalkin sign the same petition.

Actually, just seeing my name on a page with hers just now scared the crap out of me.

feel dirty

must shower

What's a blog?

From Editor & Publisher:

Media and political types are currently obsessed with the newfound influence of blogs, but is the trend being overhyped? According to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, relatively few Americans are generally familiar with the phenomenon of blogging.

Three-quarters of the U.S. public uses the Internet at work, school, or home, but only one in four Americans are either “very familiar” or “somewhat familiar” with blogs, Gallup reports.

More than half, 56%, have no knowledge of them. And even among Internet users, only 32% are very or somewhat familiar with blogs.

There’s no question that blog popularity is spreading by leaps and bounds. But as of late February, when this poll was conducted, only 3% of Americans said they read blogs every day. Fewer than one in six, 15%, read blogs at least a few times a month.

Not surprisingly, there is an age gap here. About 21% of those 18 to 29 read blogs at least monthly, but only 7% of those over 65 do so.

Gallup found no gender gap but some political angle, as 24% of liberals say they read blogs at least monthly while only 15% of conservatives do.
This poll sounds a little off - and no, I don't say that because I'm a blogger but based on conversations I have with a host of people on and offline. While there are always people to whom I need to explain what a blog is, I find that on the decline.

What I find far more intriguing, however, is how CNN and other networks are spending time each day discussing what's being discussed on a blog. Now, while blogs cover many topics, a big one is what's being covered/not covered by the mainstream media. So to have the MSM looking at blogs to see what's covered in MSM is sort of like peering at a mirror reflection of you looking in a mirror.... the permutations go on for while and it can be quite hyponotizing. But you're always looking at the same thing which means you're missing much else.

If He Had a Dick, He Might Be a Wanker

March 10, 2005 – Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) will introduce legislation within the next few days to protect the Boy Scouts from unfair discrimination because of its policies on homosexuals and atheists.

Senator Frist’s legislation will be aimed at assuring that Boy Scouts are guaranteed equal access to public facilities, forums, and programs.
This posted triumphantly on a site that asks you to grant Terri Schiavo the same rights as death row inmates (really? because I think Terri has more now) and to support federal legislation to protect her life.

I'm so glad there's nothing more important than being a Boy Scout and making sure they're protected from homosexuals. I mean, it's much better if they grow up to become a serial killer and a good church-going Republican like that fellow in Kansas.


In the "Heh" Department

To the person who e-mailed me pointing out that while Michael Jackson was clad in pajamas for court, he still was in full makeup. I can honestly say I failed to notice that.

I think more important in yesterday's little melodrama was that everyone spent the day talking about Michael's "back problem" and his pajamas and not the allegations being reported on the stand by his accuser. I'm sure Karl Rove was taking notes! He probably even sent Michael a pair of comfy jammies to say thank you.

See, this is what the Bush administration does all the time. It sends somebody out there in a clown suit to distract us from things like ending veterans' benefits, trying to kill public education, deploying a bankruptcy bill that only favors credit card companies, etc. etc. etc. And like good little circus goers, we watch the clown instead of the Killer Klown (BushCo).

At Least Atlanta Got Covered in the News Today

And apparently, it was politically incorrect - while all the talking heads were calling for kevlar-coated courthouses and arming deputies with uzis - to point out that if a gun hadn't been available on the person of that courthouse personnel, it wouldn't have been taken and used to shoot so many people.

Many, many industrialized countries allow NO guns into courtrooms. Period.

Awfully hard to shoot a lot of sitting ducks if there is no gun around.

U.S. Says It Will Offer Incentives to Iran to Stop Nukes

Hmmm... I wonder what incentives we'll offer.

Could it be?

    * Condi gives them a fashion show? Her wearing what the best-dressed Dominatrix is sporting this year while Lynne Cheney models bodice-ripping nude lingerie?

    * We let them bootleg Rush's radio show?

    * Noni Scalia and John Ashcroft: Untapped, in concert?

    * A taste of democracy, Bush-Baghdad style?

    * The Bush Twins will go over to model in Iranian booze ads? (Both 23, both have never had a job, both run up bar tabs per night that are more than many Americans earn in a month, and both would seem to qualify for this all volunteer army.)

    * Jeff Gannon will become a news anchor on Faux-Tehran?
Just wondering.

DeLay Violates Ethics Again

Maybe it would take up less space to report when he follows the rules, eh?

This reported at DailyKos:

A delegation of Republican House members including Majority Leader Tom DeLay accepted an expense-paid trip to South Korea in 2001 from a registered foreign agent despite House rules that bar the acceptance of travel expenses from foreign agents, according to government documents and travel reports filed by the House members [...]

DeLay was accompanied to Seoul by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ander Crenshaw, both Florida Republicans [...]

The purpose of the trip is spelled out in documents filed with the Justice Department by the Alexander Strategy Group, a firm created by former DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham that boasts dozens of large corporations and trade associations among its clients. Buckham is close to DeLay, and associates of both men say that DeLay agrees to meetings with corporate officials on Buckham's recommendation.

April Fools' Day

What better day to remember all our president has done for us?

Just click there. You know how to click, right? You just pucker up to your mouse and tap.

o/~ Just tie a brownish ribbon 'round the old Bush tree... it's some bull from him and some shit for me.... o/~


US Reopening Investigation into Firing on Italian Hostage's Car

First, reopening implies we investigated in the first place. We didn't.

Second, I love how Tony Blankley (blankley is such an apt name) of the Washington Times and others keep snarking about the woman being from a Communist paper. OK, so? Are there different rules for proper behavior? I hate the rabid right but you won't find me firing 300-400 rounds at people like Tony, Jerry Falwell, or Grover Norquist (unless you count a word as a round).

Third, all Bush investigations amount to this: a) they only happen when they feel pushed to do them b) they decide ahead of time what the results will be c) investigators sit around picking their noses and navels until d) lo and behold, the investigation report announces just what they said in the first place.

So when all is said and done (said, not done), we will announce we have no culpability.

We also have no shame.

Progressive Blog Alliance

It took me forever to finally sign up after the kind Diana at Democracy for California suggested it, but I did.

If you're interested in them, visit here.

New Poll Up - Taking Bets to How Long it Works

If this one fouls up, too, we'll blame Russell "I'm so damned important, really!" Crowe.

It's Not a Dirty Word

From Dictionary.com:

    * Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
    * Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
    *A person who actively favors or strives for progress toward better conditions, as in society or government.
Nope, neither Liberal nor Progressive is a dirty word.

So go ahead, call me either one.

Jesus as a Liberal?

Well, I'm not ready to believe that the Holy Trinity wants anything to do with our insane political system but...

Salon's got an interesting piece on whether Christian progressives can gain ground in a world of Christian hatespeak dominated by the Jerry Falwells of this world.

GAO Official: No Immediate Social Security Crisis

Indeed, from Salon:

Social Security "does not face an immediate crisis," the head of the Government Accountability Office said Wednesday, but it does face a long-term financing problem "and it would be prudent to address it sooner rather than later."

David M. Walker, who heads the nonpartisan Office of Comptroller General, also criticized President Bush for undertaking an aggressive two-month tour to try to sell his plan for allowing younger workers to divert a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes into private investment accounts. Walker suggested that Bush and members of Congress focus on improving financing for the program, which would not be significantly affected by establishment of personal accounts.

Pornographers Bad; Their Money Good

From a report posted over on Atrios' blog:

Washington, DC, -- Earlier today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a report Addicted to Porn: Members of Congress
Accept Political Contributions from Porn Purveyors. The report details how
15 Members of Congress, including 11 Representatives and four Senators, all
of whom revile pornography, have accepted campaign contributions from
corporations and executives who derive substantial profits from selling

The report contains four sections: 1) how companies make money from
pornography; 2) which companies have PACs that make campaign contributions;
3) which Members of Congress receive these contributions; and 4) the quotes
of Members of Congress named in the report who have publicly condemned
pornography. In addition, an appendix to the report details the
contributions made from corporations and executives to Members of Congress.

CREW's executive director Melanie Sloan stated "it is one thing to be silent
on the issue and accept porn purveyor's contributions. However, these
Members of Congress attempt to slap pornographers with fines and legislative
restrictions with one hand and turn around and accept porn profits with the
other. Our report details the hypocrisy of this 'skin caucus.'"

Some of the findings of the report: Kansas Senator Sam Brownback - who
equivocates pornography with crack cocaine - accepted $17,000 from porn

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman - who has long campaigned against the
growing coarseness of our culture -- along with renown gambling addict
William Bennet, handed out "Silver Sewer" awards to those who made immoral
videos, and who has criticized MTV for having porn stars on the air,
accepted over $16,000.

Cong. Fred Upton, who leads the charge against indecency, accepted over

Arizona Senator John McCain, who claimed to be the "anti-porn" presidential
candidate in ads that ran prior to the South Carolina primary, pocketed
$46,000 from corporations and executives who profit from porn.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director referred to Rep. Heather Wilson
(R-NM) as "the biggest hypocrite of all" for having written a letter to
former Vice President Al Gore demanding that he return a contribution from
an adult entertainment web site and for sanctimoniously ranting at Viacom
executives that they cared more about profits than morality, despite
accepting $47,000 in porn profits.

In the "Sucks to Be You" Department

Watching the news earlier today, they actually broke in with a special report to tell us that poor Michael Jackson had been forced to come to court wearing pajamas and minus about ten pounds of circus makeup after a judge told him to report or be arrested. Michael, we're told, took himself to the hospital again with "back problems" and decided to skip court again.

The last time he did this, with the flu (where he was running a documented fever of 96.9 (uh huh), he put the court proceedings on hold just long enough to then check himself out of the hospital to go home and rest for a week. A woman moved out of the hospital treatment room on that occasion subsequently died after her life support measures were rearranged to accommodate the "feverish" Michael (the lady was pretty sick and likely would have died anyway, but it's nice that her last moments were spent being ventilated manually so Michael's circus could go ahead).

I really try very hard not to notice Michael because he's such a car wreck. But it's very hard to do because he always makes sure he comes into the news. Sadly, I don't believe these latest tales from the most recent accuser that he's being tried on; the accuser's family has largely made their very comfortable living in recent years by attaching themselves to celebrities and law suits. The boy - whose family solicits help for his medical expenses - turns out to be fully covered by insurance and the mother has used some of the celebrity proceeds for a very expensive boob job, for example. The parents of the child in the early 1990s case wanted a lucrative screen deal to keep quiet, then got that beautiful windfall when Michael Jackson paid them off to go away. Someone should be suing the parents of these children for being imbeciles and opportunists.

But it's awfully tough to feel sorry for Michael who chose to go on TV telling people that sleeping with a child is a beautiful thing and that he'd kill himself if all the children in the world died so he couldn't sleep with them anymore. With all his money, Michael clearly can't function in this world. People with money and power buy enablers who are happy to keep people like Michael dependent upon them.

The true victims here are the children he bought. They'll never know a normal life. But the children in these celebrated cases are victims too whose parents have used them to get what they want from Jackson. How awful to be raised as a grifter by people who see you not as a child but what you can get for them.

Toss Up

It's hard to decide which of these Capitol Hill inspired concerns is least important:

1) Holding hearings on whether overpaid, underintelligent ball players are dosing themselves with steroids (spare me that baseball is sacred as some American tradition - it's about as sacred to the American experience as buggery is to the Brits)

2) Trying to decide whether the FCC can turn cable TV into the same obscene pit of crap that network TV has become. And remember kiddies, sex-crazed soap operas and "Desperate Housewives" have their best ratings in Righteous Red states.

Bush, Concerned Some Country Somewhere Won't Hate Us, Does One More Assinine Thing


Prompted by an international tribunal's decision last year ordering new hearings for 51 Mexicans on death rows in the United States, the State Department said yesterday that the United States had withdrawn from the protocol that gave the tribunal jurisdiction to hear such disputes.

The withdrawal followed a Feb. 28 memorandum from President Bush to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales directing state courts to abide by the decision of the tribunal, the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The decision required American courts to grant "review and reconsideration" to claims that the inmates' cases had been hurt by the failure of local authorities to allow them to contact consular officials.

The memorandum, issued in connection with a case the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear this month, puzzled state prosecutors, who said it seemed inconsistent with the administration's general hostility to international institutions and its support for the death penalty.


John Bolton, Latest Cheerleader in the Bush Charm Offensive

And there's emphasis to be noted on the word "offensive".

The Times gets quite snarky - and rightly so - regarding Bush's nomination of Mr. "We Don't Need the U.N. or the rest of the world" Bolton. Hell, Michael Bolton wouldn't have been such a bum choice.

I did like the ending:

Which leaves us wondering what Mr. Bush's next nomination will be. Donald Rumsfeld to negotiate a new set of Geneva Conventions? Martha Stewart to run the Securities and Exchange Commission? Kenneth Lay for energy secretary?

Al Qaeda Wants Russell Crowe?

I say give him to them.

Unfortunately, they'll send him back pretty quickly.

Perhaps we could also interest Osama in Michael Jackson, Oprah and Dr. Phil and both of those dazzling Simpson sisters. Heck, as long as we're dreaming, let's add Katie Couric and Wolf Blitzer.

Fun, Fun, Fun Until Her Agent Takes Her Word Processor Awa-aa-aay....

That's how I'm feeling trying to finish up the novel and find an agent for it. Finding a good agent always feels to me a little like finding a Godfather in the Mario Puzo sense of the word. There are many good agents, but really good agents like to work with people who sell a million copies a year, minimum. Most of my books have been in the tech realm where 50K copies is a bestseller.

But the agent and going to publishers thing isn't the hard part. The blood, sweat, and tears come in finishing the work itself and going over it to be sure it's as honest and faithful to the people within as I can make it.

It's like a love-hate affair you just aren't emotionally ready to leave. I might have written more than 30 other books, but this one - "Division Street" - is quite different from all of them and my relationship with it has been much different as well. I've come to love and respect these people in my book who came alive seemingly on their own. It will be very tough to leave them without the Hollywood happy ending I'd like for them.

United Church of Christ

Let me second Oliver on that. The UCC has been delivering a message of inclusion for sometime now and after hearing year after year about who should NOT be considered a Christian or allowed as a member in one church or another, it's awfully refreshing to see a group of Christians who live up to the name rather than spewing hate and intolerance.

From Oliver:

I wanted to highlight the new blogad running from United Church of Christ. As I've told you all several times, I consider myself agnostic (I think there's a grand design to life and the universe, but put no label to it) - but were I to be part of the Christian faith I think I would join a church like UCC. Watching their ads, they espouse what I consider the real doctrine of Jesus, that of tolerance and love for fellow man without fire and brimstone condemnation.
On one point I differ from Oliver: I would not define myself as an agnostic, although I once did. But I also went through a time where "atheist" was a better fit.

To some degree, I actually credit my childhood schizophrenic mix of a family whose affiliations were divided between "born again" fundamentalism and both Catholic and well as High Anglican (Episcopal) with being able to ask questions and assume little about religion.

Today, I do believe. But I simply choose not to participate in an organized body of religion. In other words, I believe in God, but I don't believe in religion the way most organized, acknowledged groups practice it.

OK, now that that's about as clear as mud, I can go to bed happy (or at least, go to bed). If there's anything else I can confuse the hell out of you about, please let me know.

Why Was the Anti-Syria Pullout Rally Bigger than All the Others?

I'm not suggesting anything. Just asking.

From AP:

Hundreds of thousands jammed a central Beirut square Tuesday, chanting support for Syria and anti-U.S. slogans in a thundering show of strength by the militant group Hezbollah — a rally that greatly outnumbered recent demonstrations against Syria's presence in Lebanon.
I'm sure Bush and Condiliezalot had people there taking names, too.

Yeah, Going After Ma and Pa America Is Nuts

From the wire:

Polling shows that the AARP is more respected than any other prominent voice in the Social Security debate, including Bush, Federal Reserve (news - web sites) Chairman Alan Greenspan and congressional leaders of both parties.

"You have to be careful who you attack," said Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who recently conducted a bipartisan poll on Social Security. "Going after the AARP is nuts. Don't make them the enemy."

Gannon Gucking It Up

Speaking of self-hating gays, here's Gannon/Guckert/My balls weigh more than my brain trying to make himself relevant... or try to make it sound like he's slept with every male Dem (not sure).

From John at AmericaBlog:

Sure sounds like it. This from GannonGuckert's Web site:

    I watched a clip of Sen. Joe Biden on Bill Maher's HBO crapfest. I wonder why he didn't mention meeting me some years ago. C'mon Joe, think...
Now, GannonGuckert is either lying or telling the truth. If he's lying, his already sinking credibility will sink even further. If he's telling the truth, however, then things get even more interesting with this story as "some years ago" would be at least two years ago, and it's only two years that Gannon has been covering the White House. That would put GannonGuckert and Biden's "meeting" smack dab in the middle of Gannon's known prostitution years.

And if GannonGuckert is suggesting he slept with a senior US Senator (who is one of the top Senators on foreign policy issues) for pay during war time, then all bets are off on this investigation. That would mean we were right to be concerned about the security risk of GannonGuckert getting access to the White House, senior staff and the president. It would mean we were right to be concerned about who GannonGuckert might have slept with as a client to gain and retain access to the White House, and possibly sensitive information. It would mean we were right to ask what connection GannonGuckert has to Senator Thune in South Dakota, to Karl Rove, to Scott McClellan, and more.

If Gannon really wants to go there, then have at it. Because he's starting to make the case for one hell of an FBI investigation.
John also offers us this:
The US Secret Service lied to members of Congress today in a letter responding to concerns about GannonGuckert's access to the White House.

In the letter, as reported by Raw Story, "there was no deviation from Secret Service standards and procedures" in order to give GannonGuckert access to the White House.

But this a flat out lie.

1. GannonGuckert (GG) had a "day pass" to the White House, not a "hard pass." A day pass gives you one day access, a hard pass gives you repeated, unlimited, ongoing, and regular access to the White House.

2. But using a day pass, GannonGuckert in fact received repeated, unlimited, ongoing and regular access to the White House for over a two year period, even though he never was given a hard pass. I.e., GG was given a de facto hard pass without going through the proper rigorous background check required for such a pass.

3. Why does this matter? It matters because there must be some national security reason why hard pass reporters are required to get 3-month FBI background checks. Presumably the reason is that hard pass reporters, unlike day pass reporters who only go to the White House once (or at best, once in a very blue moon), will be spending a lot of regular time in the White House, mingling with senior officials as high as the president, over an extended and ongoing period. That gives hard pass reporters the kind of access that could make them a security risk if we didn't know for a fact that they're good people. That's why hard pass reporters are required to get the 3-month FBI background check. To make sure there's nothing in their background, or present, to suggest they could be, or have been, compromised, or in any other way pose a threat.

4. But GG got the same kind of ongoing, regular and intimate access to the White House as any hard pass reporter - and thus GG posed the same potential risk to national security as any hard pass reporter - yet GG was never forced to get a hard pass, and thus never required to get the hard pass 3-month FBI background check (during which the Secret Service would have found that GG was involved in an ongoing criminal enterprise (prostitution) and that he had a $20,000 default tax judgment against him from the state of Delaware (both things that could make him a security risk)).

5. So, in conclusion, GG got hard pass access to the White House simply using a day pass.
There is NO DOUBT this should be properly investigated. Aside from who Gannon/Guckert really was, this is still a HUGE story.


Anderson Cooper

Let me join the three other people in this world who don't seem to care if Anderson is gay or straight.

I only ask Anderson (figuratively speaking) for one thing on the occasions I watch him (which is far less often since he's been on CNN, but used to stay up to catch him on ABC's overnight World News Tonight): that he inform me and not just hand me press releases from the White House.

In such dark times where we know so much true evil is going on, it's hard enough to care (sometimes) about my own sexuality, let alone that of a news anchor. Yet I keep hearing this about Cooper and comments like, "Why doesn't he just come out and say one way or another?"

Why should he? Is it your business? It's not mine. The only potential employer I had quiz me about mine (they apparently didn't hire gays) was one I immediately decided I didn't want to work for. It's just not relevant.

The only time I profess any interest in topics like this is when you have the Bush Administration hopping mad about gays only to keep handing Mary Cheney more lucrative government jobs and putting her and her female lover on public stages. Or Jeff Gannon. Or a whole bunch of other self-hating people who use their positions to a) persecute others who are the same while also b) using their positions to keep them from same persecution they hand out to others. The world's filled with examples like J Edgar at one extreme and people like Matt Drudge at the other.

I remember hearing Condi once as NSA director comment in some weird ass interview about how only heterosexuals could be assured of being well-adapted enough to handle top jobs. Condi - like Mary Cheney - is one of the world's worst kept secret lesbians. But I'm not even terribly interested in Condi's sexuality since she - at least in theory - isn't directly advocating strict policies against gays.

Anyway, I just took the world's record longest time to say on the subject of Anderson's hetero/homo/bi sexuality.... YAWN.

That Disastrous Bankruptcy Bill

Well, it looks like this one will sail through a vote now and this is most unfortunate.

Bankruptcy is a tough subject because, like consumer lawsuits, this is an avenue that should be available in legitimate causes of catastrophe but has become an escape clause that some people abuse frequently. This means you've got lots of people who want to take the right away from everyone because a few people abuse.

But the bill the GOP wants here is a strange little critter coming at an odd time when a lot of financial turmoil has occurred because of the havoc Bush and the terror attacks and Iraq, et al, have wrought on the economy and job outlook. The time chosen to stop much of the bankruptcy protection is just the time when people who are not the usual types to get themselves into such shape may need it most.

The more you look at the bill the corporate whores wish to pass, the more you can detect the stink even over the Internet. The bill prohibits bankruptcy being used in the cases of extreme calamity (you get a catastrophic illness and $100,000 in non-covered med bills and you turn from a person with an A+ credit rating into one about to lose the house). The bill offers none of the protections one might expect during a time of war when so many Guardsmen and reservists are watching their jobs and businesses go belly up in their absence. No protection either for seniors or others who are particularly vulnerable.

YET the bankruptcy bill DOES offer protections for high income bankruptcy filers who will be allowed to hide cash away in special funds. So those who can afford to pay laywers and do their banking in the Caymann Islands to keep money away from their creditors to exempt their assets get an additional helping hand from the goverment that mere mortals won't.

Now, I've been in some nasty financial situations and since an illness in 2003, involved in another. But I've never considered bankruptcy simply because it's not the right thing to do. So I'm double appalled that the government would even consider a bill whose entire focus is on punishing the middle class and less while offering treats to the wealthy. It reminds me of Skilling who kept adding great stuff on to his new mansion because his state (Texas, I believe) protects your primary residence from anyone who may sue you (like the many people whose entire portfolios were filled with worthless Enron stick).

A Few More Words on Times Op/Ed Columnists

Anyone out there a regular reader of The Times' op/ed page? Well, regardless of your answer, I figure I owe you a degree of balance in my previous comments about David Brooks so that you understand I do not feel their page has any truly brilliant commentors these days.

From my PoV, Paul Krugman is exceptionally good and the best they currently have. He's helped me understand some tough issues and I don't think he takes positions just to upset the rabid righties who've depicted him unfairly as some extreme lefty. Krugman was attacked for a long time by the righteous righties before he began to respond in kind. And even then, I don't think Krugman would ever purposely color his take just because he's a target by these folks. I do believe he tells his story as he honestly sees it (part of my argument with Brooks and the fellow who will replace Safire is that they are party loyalists who will say whatever will keep Uncle Karl from getting mad at them).

I like Bob Herbert who is the only one I feel could be seen as a true progressive. His series on the IBM worker safety issues and others have been quite good.

Maureen Dowd - the token woman - can be a real mixed bag. Again, the rabid righties depict her as a shrill, boozy, self-hating Catholic which is funny because she spent most of the Clinton years taking on Clinton far more often than his loud Republican opposition in Congress). Of all the Times' op/eders, Maureen's words can be the sharpest; other times she rivals Brooks for petty mediocrity. But I've also thought she's delivered some very smart columns that provided more than sheer enjoyment at her acidic etching.

Tom Friedman, someone I used to respect somewhat, now seems a boat adrift because of attending to the watching the helm, he's too busy wringing his hands and asking, "What would that great man Tom Friedman do?" Earth to Tom: don't hold yourself to such a high standard; God knows the rest of us no longer do. His best columns in three years are the ones he doesn't write.

Nick Kristof is another one who occasionally comes off strongly but spends most of his time as a bobblehead badly in need of a spring adjustment. He went from my "must read" list to "Must I?" on/around 9-11.

I liked a bunch of Bill Keller's op/eds and find myself wishing he were back writing them rather than managing. As top gun, I think he feels he has to overcompensate for the paper's perceived liberal bent (funny how the liberals see this quite differently). But then, that's the most effective weapon in the Rabid Right's arsenal these days: accuse even their acolytes of being leftwing radicals so the accused spend all their time trying to get back their credibility with the Koolaid investors' group.

Only David Brooks Could Do This

Praise Wolfowitz and start out with his premise by saying one of the strongest reasons to appreciate this neocon numbnut is because Michael Moore doesn't like him. I know I frame my entire existence and social relationships on whether or not Lynne Cheney or Michael Moore do or don't like someone (should I have a cheeseburger for lunch like Mike might do or should I go out and torture some young calf before i shoot it ineffectively myself and then carve it up for veal saltambocca as Lynnie would do?.

Indeed, the world pivots on this axis each and every moment.

Hell, a cartoon about amoeba would be more relevant for an op/ed page than any column Brooks has ever written there. Hell, so would bird doo-doo.

It's like The Times decided to specifically find the most mediocre of the rightie writers (not as silly or as vicious as Ann "I was Jerome before the surgery" Coulter and not as delusional as Safire sitting there having imaginary conversations in which he channeled the dead Nixon). Interestingly enough, for a writer, Brooks is a better speaker or at least he was in the past (less true now) on the Friday night wrapup opposite Mark Shields on PBS' News Hour. It was only later that I realized his more moderate, less inflamed speech on PBS was not the usual Brooks. And his writing, mediocre before The Times and completely lame and la-la since he got to one of the most vaulted op-ed pages in the world, reveals far less of the intelligent moderate nature of the PBS appearances.

The only "encouragement" here is that the fellow they hired to replace Safire may actually be worse than both Safire and Brooks together. Where has the moderate Republican voice gone? The screamers and the nutjobs on the right are the ones who get all the praise (while moderates on the Dem side are villified). But most Republicans I know don't have the meanness or the "talking point" loyalty the media protrays. If anything, centrist Republicans - perhaps the majority in most of red America - have been marginalized and villified as much as anyone on the left by the rabid righties.

Double Loss: Women and Consumers

From CNN:

In the first abortion-related test of the new Congress, the Republican-controlled Senate turned back a Democratic effort Tuesday to bar violent protesters from using bankruptcy to avoid payment of court judgments.

The 53-46 vote cleared one of the few remaining obstacles to passage of major bankruptcy legislation that is high on the GOP legislative agenda.

CNN Poll: 4 out of 5 want a raise to minimum wage

This 80% pro showing surprises me. But we're talking about a minimum wage that has not changed in the better part of a decade while we've seen wild increases in housing costs, groceries, fuel (heating and transportation), electricity, health-related needs and other very basic expenses.

The battle in Congress over it is not being represented very accurately in the MSM but there's no surprise there. Republicans are only willing to accept an increase in the minimum wage IF certain other measures go with it, including corporate protections and a lengthening of the work week. Rick Santorum (Putz-Pennsylvania), for example, wants to see those who get tips no longer draw a base salary (and don't let me get started on the whole issue of gratuities; I do not believe there should be "tips").

Every politician likes to cite the fact that raising the minimum wage hurts businesses and kills job growth. They always specify the little employer with 10 or fewer workers. But the companies who pay at or near minimum wage in the greatest percentage of cases are places like WalMart whose profits have put and kept the Walton family on the richest Americans list for years. They only kill jobs to maximize their profit.

But every person who puts in a full work week, week after week, should be able to earn enough that they can meet their basic expenses. Minimum wage - whether set at a GOP level or a Democratic one - does not allow American workers to do that, plain and simple.

Uh Oh

Bush just said that, "Freedom will prevail in Lebanon."

We've seen his interpretation of freedom. I wouldn't wish that on my sister (Reagan was in office when last we spoke), let alone Lebanon.

I suspect those words are going to make it very tough for anyone in Syria to buy life or home insurance now. I don't think anyone has ever chilled me saying freedom until it became our president's favorite catch phrase for "shock and awe" American style.

Bill Clinton's New Health Issue

I wish him luck - and special luck, too, considering the same operation he's going to have to remove scar tissue from his lung is one I face (but our health insurance plan is a little different I think - wink wink - because I have to wait for the surgery). Mine's not from open heart surgery, however, but residue from a super-bug.

It was soooo encouraging to hear (for the first time) that scar tissue alone can collapse a lung. Nobody had ever mentioned that to me (already had one but it was never quite explained how that happened although I got to spend a lovely three weeks with tubes keeping my lung expanded).

Vermont Swerve(d) Left

Well, not so much left as did what Vermont tends to do: think independently.

Karlo has the story at Swerve Left about our non-binding resolution (passed in more than 90% of the towns where the issue came up for vote) about the Iraq war. In my town, we passed most of the amendment but (because we're the odd Republican town in a county of Democrats and Independents) did not approve the part where we actually told Bush to bring home all the troops now.

Halliburton Doing Business in Iran

It amazes me how Halliburton on the one hand takes every advantage of politics in winning lucrative, no-bid contracts on places like Iraq where in 1999, CEO Dick Cheney was arguing before Congress that Iraq was a good place and sanctions against doing business with them should be lifted, when they then turn around and cry "foul" that politics are used against them once their evil doing gets exposed.

Well, we've had a ban on American companies doing business with Iran for sometime and tonight - lo and behold! - we learn Halliburton's been right there in Iran doing business.

White House Credentials First Blogger

But they were careful to make sure it wouldn't be a blogger who had any meaty questions and spent most of his first report crying about the digs not being fancy. From CNN:

With an official credential hanging from his neck, a young man stepped into the White House briefing room Monday as perhaps the first blogger to cover the daily press briefings.

He found the surroundings to be dilapidated and cramped and concluded that his morning at the White House was "remarkably uneventful."

Garrett M. Graff, 23, writes Fishbowl D.C., a Web log about the news media in Washington. He decided to see if he could get a daily pass for a briefing after a recent controversy raised questions about White House access and who is a legitimate reporter.


Once More, Bush Gives the U.N. the Finger (With Feeling)

For someone who demands so much from the U.N. to fix the messes he makes after he refuses to heed their advice, you might think Dubya would choose a UN delegate who doesn't have the dubious history of hating the U.N., as John Bolton does.

So what does Bush and his Sally Hemmings, Condi Rice, do? They nominate John Bolton who has done nothing but confuse diplomacy and nearly start a few wars just with his words.

Oh well... Bush still has close to four years to start telling us the U.N. is hiding WMD there in its NY headquarters so we need to bomb and invade. Really, the only WMD Bush needs to find could be demonstrated on a brain scan performed on him, Cheney, Condi, and Rummy.

We've Come a Long Way, Baby...

even though our president would like to roll that back.

As a reminder: On this day in 1908, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Breith stood before city council and announced that "women are not physically fit to operate automobiles."

Less than 90 years later, Newt Gingrich (Rethuglican '08 prez candidate) stood before a class and explained that women couldn't be in combat because we get infections in fox holes.

Wal-Mart: Just a Great Place to Work

This reprinted from the Hartford Courant by Cookie Jill at the excellent Chateau d' Kangaroo (or Skippy's for you non Freedom speakers):

the state [Connecticut] is paying an estimated $43 million annually for health care insurance to cover workers at the top 25 major employers, led by wal-mart, officials said thursday.

nearly half of the estimated total covers the top five employers, including highly profitable, well-known companies that operate franchises in connecticut, including stop & shop, dunkin' donuts and mcdonald's.

...some legislators were outraged that the state is helping to provide health insurance for profitable companies, particularly wal-mart. "here is the richest retail company in the world, and we, the taxpayers, are subsidizing their coverage," said house majority leader christopher donovan, a meriden democrat. "i think people aren't aware of the extent that we're subsidizing the biggest, richest, most powerful companies. wal-mart shoppers need to know there's an extra cost of doing business."

.... a congressional report last year found that wal-mart had increased the health-benefit waiting period for full-time workers. in 2002, the waiting period jumped from 90 days to six months. by comparison, the report found, the average waiting period for employers the size of wal-mart was 1.3 months.

the report also found that wal-mart changed the definition of part-time in 2002, raising it to 34 hours or fewer a week, up from 28 hours or fewer - a stricter definition than many companies. part-time workers must wait two years to apply for health coverage and they cannot add a spouse or children.


I Don't This President Likes Whistle Blowers

The head of the federal office responsible for protecting government whistleblowers is the focus of a complaint filed Thursday by some of his own employees, who say he is undermining laws that encourage workers to expose wrongdoing.
Don't confuse Bush's government with anything desiring protection for whistleblowers or John and Jane Citizen.

Our Drug War Works About as Well Under Military Rule as Here

From the AP:

WASHINGTON - More than three years after installing a pro-U.S. government, Afghanistan (news - web sites) has been unable to contain opium poppy production and is on the verge of becoming a narcotics state, a presidential report said Friday.

The report said the area in Afghanistan devoted to poppy cultivation last year set a record of more than 510,000 acres, more than triple the figure for 2003. Opium poppy is the raw material for heroin.

The Afghan narcotics situation "represents an enormous threat to world stability," the report said.

It listed opium production at 5,445 tons, 17 times more than second-place Myanmar.
The amazing part here isn't that opium production is going nuts there, considering we give Afghans nothing else they can reasonably do with their time and resources besides get slaughtered.

Nah, the truly amazing part is that after our taxpayer-funded trip there by Rush Lamehog... er, Rush Limbaugh (in which by his own admission he repeatedly LIED to troops there telling them they have NO support at home), that this greedy bastard left ANY opium there for anyone else. Rush does heroin like a bird, consuming several times in his corpulent body weight in the stuff everyday.

300-400 Rounds Fired by Accident?

From AP:

ROME - Left-wing journalist Giuliana Sgrena claimed American soldiers gave no warning before they opened fire and said Sunday she could not rule out that U.S. forces intentionally shot at the car carrying her to the Baghdad airport, wounding her and killing the Italian agent who had just won her freedom after a month in captivity.
But Italy - with its media pretty much controlled by the fascist Berlesconi - is quick to note that no matter how many of their people get killed, they still LOVE Mr. Bush.

Thank God Dan Rather resigned because Karl Rove was trying to figure out how the Army could shoot Dan in his NY office and claim it was Iraqi insurgents.

Jabba the...er Jeb Bush Unlikely to Run in 2008

That's from Poppy Bush from whose loins Dubya was created which sadly gives you a good idea of the credibility of Poppy, Genius, and Jeb.


Cough. Technical issues are aggrevating my paranoia.

Poll Host Voting Oddity

Gee, I'm trying NOT to be paranoid here but I discovered all my polls had been deleted... As a PC pro, I know mistakes happen and old backups get restored.

But this one has a certain stink to it based on what I found at the host's admin area. No old backup could have produced what's there.

Another Blog Worth Noting

And thanks to DailyRead for "introducing" us: The-Goddess' What She Said.

Man, do I need to update my Blog roll. It's fallen by the wayside along with my dusting (she said as she wiped a finger across her Tiffany style lamp and comes back with 2" of dust from the Clinton era).

Kerry vs. Reid for Control of Dem Senate?

I read this piece over at Raw Story and found it troubling.

Now, I have some serious reservations about Harry Reid (D-UT) on a few different levels, among them his anti-choice stance. And let's face it. I don't think one damned person (well, save for a GOP blowhard whose knocked up his mistress and doesn't want wifey to know) is PRO ABORTION. What many of us are amounts to Pro Choice: that a woman should be free to choose what happens rather than have it dictated to her by laws that recognize the legitimacy of a fetus over that of a living woman.

But I have to say that as Senate Minority leader, he's been showing his mettle. Tom Daschle is a very nice man but he had two characteristics I despised: wife whose a lobbyist AND worse, that he pussyfooted around quite a bit. When somebody's tossing daggers at you blind-folded, you don't offer them tea and cookies. While I am pro diplomacy and reason, I'm less and less convinced with each passing day that the rabid righties a) couldn't care less about the truth b) couldn't care less about what's good for America and the world as a whole (heads-stuck-up-own-ass-and-admiring-the-view syndrome) and c) stopped listening and thinking long ago which is how they can have the positions they take.

Having seen Kerry in action, I'd be more inclined at this point to let Reid in the Senate, Pelosi in the House, and Dean as DNC chair take the ball and run with it rather than always passing it to John F. The Kerry of the '60s and early '70s is not the Kerry of today, not the brave young man but the tired-yet-still-ambitious politician. His wife has a good deal more spunk these days.

Frankly, I'm as disappointed to hear talk that Kerry's planning to run in 2008 as I am of Hilary (and suspicious of why big NY GOP bigwigs are funneling support to her). If both do it, it's for their own selfish gain rather than the needs of this country (and hey, it's very much about saving America). A test of their true spirit will be in seeing if either can manage to restrain themselves but I doubt it.

Having said that, who the hell is the candidate to beat the Evil Rove? There isn't a single candidate from 2004 I'd go for except Dean, and he's out of the running as DNC chair.