I Want Wolf's Ass... and it's NOT for Sexual Purposes

How dare he say on CNN that a liberal Catholic can't be a good Catholic while Bob Novak as a conservative is a good Catholic.

Why yes, Wolf Blitzer! Only Good Catholics commit an act of treason in outing a CIA operative. Only great Catholics sit on "Capitol Gang" and "Crossfire" and look down their patrician noses at the "uninspired" people who don't earn a half million or more a year just printing swill as fact. Oh yeah, and only great Catholics are on the government paycheck for what they write. Someone please take a look at that great Catholic's (Novak's) finances.

    Come here, Wolfie. I want to clip your balls. With your political reporting, it's clear you're not using them and they are sooooooo getting in the way.
This reasoning of Wolfie's reminds me of the local priest when I was about 13 explaining that only males can be great Catholics. Why not women? Because women tempt men in evil ways and every woman holds within her the "sin of Eve" and "the betrayal of her better, her man."

Having eaten from the tree of knowledge myself a few times, I'd say the food's pretty good. Have some, Wolf.

Want to Learn Something? Start by Listening

I had an interesting experience yesterday, the result of which made me almost euphoric simply due to the beauty of the simplicity.

I'd written a letter to the local paper protesting Vermont GOP for calling for out-of-state funds to defeat "Jim Jeffords the traitor". While I'm not a card-carrying Jim Jeffords' fan, I did personally approve when he jumped the GOP ranks. But even before that, I had voted for him in 2000 after carefully analyzing his voting record (he was a Republican then).

And let me disclose that part of my reason for going with Jeffords over his chief opponent was because as a new state resident, I chose to speak to several people to see how they felt about Jeffords. I got some diversity in opinions, but the overall impression was that they felt Jeffords - while not always voting the way they liked - was a good representative of and for the state in the Senate. And frankly, since he jumped the GOP's ship for Independent status, I haven't seen a huge change in his voting pattern. Jim was one of the New England moderates - which include RI's Chafee, Maine's Olympia Snowe and I believe Susan Collins - so his vote wasn't always partisan anyway.

But here's what I found interesting. And you may not, but. A man from the state GOP who responded to my letter laid out why he disagreed with my viewpoint. He did so in a way that was calm and clear although passionate in what was said, and helped me see something I had glossed over before: that many Rep Vermonters still feel a great sense of betrayal for the May 2001 defection.

The man didn't attack me personally or attack other people in the letter; he simply made his case well.

Do he and I still disagree? Yes. I think Jim made the right decision before 9/01 and certainly for Vermont after. Unless and until the Dems or a third party put up a much better candidate, I expect to work for Jeffords' re-election, this time as a Dem.

But from this letter writer I learned something I didn't really grok before. While I'd like to tell the respondent that he needs to "get over it" (a phrase Dems have been flooded with endlessly), his words made me recognize that this is not something he's perhaps ready to concede (that what may be best for Vermont and the country right now may not be best for the Vermont GOP). I have to take that into the mix both to understand perhaps how we can see past party lines for the best of the state and country as well as simply to acknowledge the depth of feeling on the other side.

Oh That Wacky "Pharmacists for Life Lady, Karen Brauer

She's wow.. quite the little ticket. Hope hers gets punched soon!

I especially like her mocking of the Nuremburg trial and her fabulous idea of Chastity Patrols. Funny, we thought this was a bad idea with the Taliban but when Ms. Brauer and the likes of Tom DeLay promote it, it's good clean Christianity.

Nice work, Riffle!


A Note on Bush Family Values and Abstinence

Despite how little we hear about what are supposedly 2-3x a week embarrassments by the twins (who at 23 aren't exactly little kiddies anymore), it's already clear that the only things the Bush twins have ever been abstinent regarding are:

    a)independent thought
    b) taste and
    c) working for a living
So Jenna's showing her hooch and Barb likes to show her everything else and Jenna's gonna be a schoolteacher next year. Has anyone told her they won't let her take vodka, Ecstasy and her cigarettes in to teach fourth period English?

Bush UN Nominee John Bolton Under Investigation

For threatening someone who wouldn't lie his way? Oh, say it isn't so! Not the Bushies!.

"And While You Give Us Your Young Sons and Daughter to Go to War..

From The NY Post - Murdock's paper (and boy is this not the first time):

VIDEOTAPE of Jenna Bush in very high spirits at a bachelorette party is being sold and could end up on national TV by the end of the week. Luckily for Jenna, the cameraman missed "the high point . . . Jenna on all fours doing 'the butt dance' — and doing it very well — as guys were ogling her thong," said our source. Club patrons do the suggestive dance when the deejay plays the 1988 hit "Da Butt," by E.U. The president's blond daughter arrived at NerveAna, a '90s-themed lounge on Varick Street, at 10:30 p.m. last Friday with several other pretty young things in a battered old blue minivan. Sources said it was Jenna's third visit to the club, which features replicas of Monica Lewinsky's blue dress and O.J. Simpson's white Bronco. Jenna, who plans to teach school in D.C. next fall, wore jeans, moccasin boots and a midriff-baring, satiny blue top. She lit up a cigarette "and she was very polite when she was told she'd have to go outside to smoke," said our source. Before leaving at 3:30 a.m., Jenna and her pals gamely joined a conga line and danced around the club.

Bush's War on CBS?

Two days ago, we heard the military had shot a CBS photographer or reporter but, as usual, we were told it was the man's fault. Now, suddenly, we're saying he's an insurgent.

Alert me so I can make popcorn for when they say Dan Rather plotted with Saddam to attack Grand Rapids or Toledo.

More DeLay Than You Can Shake a Can of Raid At

Welcome the Daily DeLay.

Hunger-Based Lines Lengthen at Faith-Based Soup Kitches

Editorial Observer by way of The Times.

Jeff Gannon: Profile in Brilliance

As questions continued, [Jeff]Gannon said the administration had to pay Armstrong Williams to get a fair hearing on its No Child Left Behind education policy. "I don't think anyone wrote a story that was positive on No Child Left Behind," he said.
Read the rest from Editor and Publisher about today's National Press Club panel.

Patriot Act: What's Not Known Feeds Debate

Also from the Christian Science Monitor.

This is one issue that is uniting both sides of the political spectrum and - gotta love it - librarians in this country have been the real patriots, the underpaid people who care about your right to access information and read books without being watched.

The Bush Administration's Own Oil-for-Food Scandal May Dwarf the U.N's

From the Christian Science Monitor:

A former senior advisor to the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which ran Iraq until the election of an interim Iraq government last January, says that the US government's refusal to prosecute US firms accused of corruption in Iraq is turning the country into a "free fraud zone."

Newsweek reported earlier this week that Frank Willis compared Iraq to the "wild west," and that with only $4.1 billion of the $18.7 billion that the US government set aside for the reconstruction of Iraq having been spent, the lack of action on the part of the government means "the corruption will only get worse."
    More than US money is at stake. The administration has harshly criticized the United Nations over hundreds of millions stolen from the Oil-for-Food Program under Saddam [Hussein]. But the successor to Oil-for-Food created under the occupation, called the Development Fund for Iraq, could involve billions of potentially misused dollars.

Bush to States: Don't Tell Seniors Which Prescription Program is Best (Which in the Bush World, Means Less Horrible)

Compassionate conservatism indeed:

The Bush administration has told states that they cannot steer Medicare beneficiaries to any specific prescription drug plan, even if state officials find that one or two insurance plans would provide the best deals for elderly people with low-incomes.

States like Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania have for years had their own programs to help elderly people with drug costs. In some cases, the state coverage is superior to what Medicare will offer. Many states want to continue those programs to supplement the Medicare drug benefit that becomes available in January.

A federal advisory commission said recently that states should be allowed to enroll their low-income Medicare beneficiaries in "one or more preferred prescription drug plans." This would help ensure "continuity of care," it said.

Asking for an Accounting of the President's Bamboozlepalooza Social

Unlike Henry Waxman, I don't want to just how much we're spending on the Bamboozlepalooze tour. I also want to know why we're paying a fucking cent when the events are ONLY for GOP loyalists - and loyalists who don't want Social Security jettisoned are encouraged not to apply).

It's bad enough the president will only appear before ass kissers as it is, but to have a huge propaganda campaign that excludes more than half of the U.S. is beyond the pale, even for those ultra-pale Bushies.

Boston Herald Columnist Also on Romney (Gov, R-MA) Payroll

Much is circulating today about a Boston Herald columnist getting a $10K gig to promote Mass. Governor Mitt Romney's environmental policies ($10K sounds like a lot considering Romney's environmental policies can be summed up as, "What environmental policy?" and "Dust and debris from the Big Dig is good for you (not quite as good as Post-9/11 debris was for the residents and workers of Lower Manhattan but almost!)").

But I don't think it helps if we scream and yell about this in quite the same way we yelled about the clear skankiness of Armstrong Williams on the take and Jeff Gannon - Military Stud4Hire cum White House Press Corps. There are differences, and not just because one's a state issue and the others are political. Both still present some ethical issues, but the Boston case doesn't quite meet the degree of whoreness, both
monetarily and ethical.

According to what I've read, BH's Chieppo (what a name) fully disclosed to the Herald (Romney's office would have already known) and that the Herald agreed he could not write Herald content that related to anything he'd be doing for Romney. I did not see that this was disclosed to the public readership, however, and I feel that should have been done.

Williams, by comparison, never disclosed to his syndicate or to his readers. And Gannon never should have been nearer the White House than New Jersey and the White House HAD to have known about his publicly-posted "golden shower" video and advertising his services as a whore. But the White House assumes every reporter is a whore and - with some notable exceptions - the press has happily played
slut-for-hire to fulfill the Bush Administration's lofty view of them.

Why has this simple obvious truth gone so carefully unsaid in all of this?

Chieppo's also in a different position with the Herald than Williams had with the syndication and Gannon had as a card carrying (and I assume he carried a few "stud for hire" business cards in his wallet along with his press pass) member of the official WH press corps.

Chieppo's a contract writer being paid by piece for the Herald. From a writer's and publishing standpoint, that is "not a voice of record for the publication". It's a basic content provider job: the Herald buys a column from him on a pay-per-piece basis rather than having him on staff. A writer like that is of course going to have other contracts.

But as long as he disclosed to the Herald immediately and as long as he indeed keeps his Mitt's (heh) off anything directly to do with Romney (and if he does, disclose again publicly) in general and Mass environmental policy or Romney's challengers or Romney ethical probes (and if he does, disclose)... I think Chieppo's played it by the book.

I'm a contract writer. In any given year, I may work for between five and a hundred different editors/publishers/publications. In some of my work, I review and write about the computer industry, its players and products. As part of some of my other work (since I'm a Web community analyst and consultant), I've contracted with companies like Microsoft and ZDNet to either build/manage communities, offer expert analysis or program documentation, or provide content for their Web properties.

Whenever my different worlds begin to come within loose orbits of one another, nobody has to come asking if I have any even remotely possible competing or conflicting connections; the people I work with are told, upfront, at the start.

So while I don't personally like Chieppo doing this - I've seen ads for various editorial/promo jobs for Romney in some of the "writer for hire" subs I watch and I sure wouldn't take a Romney job - I don't think he's in error, technically or otherwise.

Tell Corporations to Stop Defending DeLay

Now here's one I can get behind: telling corporations you do business with to STOP funding Tom DeLay's defense fund because he's there for them and NOT for you.

Go here, where you'll read:

A network of large corporate backers have come, cash-in-hand, to DeLay's defense. American Airlines, Bacardi USA, Nissan USA, RJ Reynolds, and Verizon have all contributed thousands to Tom DeLay's Legal Defense Fund.
I just contacted Verizon directly. I don't do business with the others.

If You Missed This Bush Truth Yesterday, You Shouldn't Have

I mean it: what Bush said yesterday was extremely telling. I was about to drop a note about it but I see The Times addressed it in an editorial. Pay heed.

Imagine this: On his next trip to Japan, President Bush visits the vault at the Bank of Japan, where that country's $712 billion in United States government bonds is stored. There, as the cameras roll, he announces that the bonds, backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, are, in fact, worthless i.o.u.'s. He does the same thing when he visits China and so on around the world, until he has personally repudiated the entire $2 trillion of United States debt held by foreigners.

Mr. Bush rehearsed just that act on Tuesday, when he visited the office of the federal Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg, W.Va. He posed next to a file cabinet that holds the $1.7 trillion in Treasury securities that make up the Social Security trust fund. He tossed off a comment to the effect that the bonds were not "real assets." Later, in a speech at a nearby university, he said: "There is no trust fund. Just i.o.u.'s that I saw firsthand."

Social Security takes in more money than it needs to pay current beneficiaries, and the excess is invested in the Treasury securities that Mr. Bush was discussing. They carry the same legal and political obligations as all other forms of Treasury debt, every penny of which has always been paid in full and on time.

In his speech, Mr. Bush went on to acknowledge that future generations would have to make good on the debt. But the intended meaning of the photo-op was clear. In the hope of persuading people to privatize Social Security - a move that would only add to the growing debt burden for future generations - Mr. Bush wants Americans to believe that the trust fund is a joke. But if the trust fund is a joke, so is the full faith and credit of the United States.
Listen very closely to Bush, and you find his gaffes tell you enormous truth. They should also chill you to the very core.

And Sanctimonious Santorum Provides Evidence of What I Just Posted

From The Hill, headlined Frist Will Go Nuclear:

Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, has reassured conservative activist leaders that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is committed to triggering the “nuclear option,” stripping Democrats of the power to filibuster judicial nominees.

Santorum met the leaders Tuesday to dispel growing anxiety among conservatives that Frist was wavering over what some Republicans call the “constitutional” or “Byrd” option — a procedural tactic that would disallow judicial filibusters by a ruling of the Senate chair and a ratifying majority vote.

Conservative alarm surged when the Republican leadership canceled a briefing of Senate staff and activists by Martin Gold, a former Frist aide and master of Senate parliamentary procedure who is advising Republicans on the issue. The cancellation of the special meeting, which was scheduled for the Easter recess, left some with the impression that Frist might be backing away in the face of Democrats’ threat to retaliate by shutting down the Senate.

Business interests on K Street are urging Frist to delay the tactic because it could imperil their legislative agenda, as The Hill reported this week.

The conservatives’ concern was also fueled by Frist’s efforts to negotiate with Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to find a compromise. One Democratic aide said that Frist appeared to be backing away from the tactic.
Now consider this.

Polls are showing that a majority of Republicans (while most show between 45 and 55% of GOPers, want the filibuster maintained and while 45% doesn't sound like a majority, the number who WANT the filibuster killed is only 30-32% tops; the rest aren't sure or have no opinion). Even more GOP folks want Democrats to do a better job of standing up to the agenda being steamrolled through (I guess the GOP voters have given up on getting reason from GOP politicians ::smirk::).

But Santorum and DeLay and Frist and Bush don't give a fuck what voters want. They want to do whatever it takes to ass kiss the extremists who are all too willing to vote the way a Limbaugh, a Falwell, a Robertson, or an O'Reilly tells them.

As an aside, this is critically important because it may signal that more mainstream voters of all types may be finally "getting" the danger many of us have known for too long. Remember: historically, voters have always wanted to exercise great care in making certain one party did not control everything because it gave them more hope of a balance. We've been out of balance for a long time considering the grave dangers facing us right now as a country and a part of society. If GOP voters in the mainstream are getting the problem, they may be less willing to vote a straight ticket (and historically, GOP moderates are more likely to vote straight tickets than Dem mainstreams who are more willing to vote for someone they deem as a better choice even if it's not a Dem).

Ed. note:Somebody's got a great ad on TV now - don't know the sponsoring group - with an extremely articulate, decent-seeming GOP firefighter saying why the filibuster can't be nuked in a democracy. This guy is extremely effective because he's very reasonable, very mainstream, and very believable. You look in this man's eyes and you know he believes what he says (I never have that reaction with say, Bush or Randall Terry).

Why I'm Not Jumping on the DeLay Ditching Bandwagon

I've said this before but given how the noise is getting louder and louder (mostly from the GOP, just as it was really the GOP who chuted Trent Lott), I'll say it again. I want to keep this snake in plain sight.

He has tainted the entire party and process and even if he's drawn and quartered today, he's the force of the GOP in 2006, 2008 and beyond. Just as we're stuck with Bush until January something 2009, let Tom DeLay get to re-election and take his chances. I don't think he'll be returned to the House even though he's in a GOP centric, GOP redistricted area. I believe even the people of Texas are sick to death of all the snake bites and venom.

So yes, there are many, many, many petitions circulating to make Cap Hill look at him more closely (good) and many more demanding his resignation. But if this titular head is chopped off now, we've still got a Congress driven by people who don't mind judges being threatened, your rights being trampled, a White House that just can't spend enough on pork to pals, and a general sense that taxpayers need to shut up and pay their toll but only corporations matter. We'll just PRETEND this all changed with DeLay's removal.

So let's keep the head attached to this rattlesnake, shall we?

DeLay = Bush Without the Confectionary Sugar Sprinkled On Top?

Buzzflash mentions this in one of its headlines today:

Tom DeLay is simply an upfront Bushevic. You take the Confectioner's sugar off Bush and you have DeLay.
Believe it or not, I haven't quite thought of it that way before. Yes, this failure on my part exists even though I believe that DeLay and Bush are incredibly alike in terms of politic approach.

I'm inclined to think the Buzzflash folks are right on this.

Wolf Blitzer: Media Whore Now on Koolaid Continuous Intravenous Drip

Aside from Wolf's ::cough: political ::cough:: reporting, I just heard him ask a Polish person (why does the name "Pole" never sound right to me?) if the Pope was by far the most famous and important Polish person of all time.

Earth to Wolf: Some people might say Lech Walesa.

What about Copernicus? Really, Wolf: Nic was no slouch. One of Einstein's most important contributors (Leopold) was a Pole. Drzewiecki - so-called father of gliding flight - was a Pole. History is replete with even more Polish poets, authors, and especially, scientists, intellectuals, educators, physicians, mathematicians than... yes, oh yes ... bad Polish jokes. I know this as a non-scientist and non-Pole who's never bothered to go out of my way to look up famous Poles or read Polish history.

Or would Copernicus not count because he's a scientist and... well... we know how Mr. Bush's White House feels about science.

But this is obviously about more than Wolf or the Pope. And yes, I realize Wolfie included "famous". But what does fame have to do with anything? We really have to stop thinking that the most important people of all time are only ones who get a lot of TV time. The Pope got a huge amount of TV time (and I'm not just talking about the last 8 days to two months) but Poland has a huge body of people who probably contributed at least as much - if not far more - to the world as a Pope in an era of 24 hour-a-day TV.

So while I know Poles and the world in general loved this Pope, JPII has some considerable company in the department of men and women who make significant contributions to the planet. You, Wolf, may be famous to some degree. But if you blinked off the earth tomorrow, we will not remember you existed.

About the New Iraqi Government

Why haven't I said anything about the elections early yesterday? Well, I need to read more. Right now, it very much looks like we basically installed people who are going to far better represent the interests of the Bush sense of empire than the people of Iraq.

And even if these people were not our pawns, none of this would stop incidents like today when 10 people have been shot to death.

Vermont's Farmer Protection Act and the Issue of GMO Manufacturer Liability

While I'm sure the Vermont governor will indeed veto this (he's quite
the Bush brown noser), I think this is an important step in at least
recognizing the potential danger.

From the Times Argus:

The Vermont Senate on Tuesday gave nearly unanimous approval to a bill designed to make seed manufacturers liable for the impacts of genetically modified crops.

As many as a dozen senators were expected to oppose the bill, but the final vote was 26-1. Sen. Wendy Wilton, R-Rutland, voted against final passage.

But the political wrangling over the bill, which now goes to the House, is far from over and could end in a veto by Gov. James Douglas.

And a portion of the bill which defines the extent to which manufacturers of genetically modified seeds are liable for potential harm remains a sticking point.

Two amendments designed to strengthen the protection afforded to farmers were added to the bill almost without debate.

But the amendment which caused the most consternation and discussion in the Statehouse wasn't even offered on the floor in the end.

That change, which hung on a single word, would have removed the "strict liability" provision of the proposed legislation.

Under strict liability a seed manufacturer would not have to be proven at fault before they could be held liable for potential damages from pollen drift of genetically modified crops


Of course, the instant I complimented Blogger's performance yesterday, it died in
childbirth and was unavailable for posting the rest of the day. ::cough::

Notes on a (Hopefully Final) Farewell

As you could only miss if you were in a persistent vegetative state being ministered to by the likes of a dark self-identified master like Father Pavone, Brother Mahoney, or Randall Terry, the Pope has been buried.

Let me revisit a few of my comments since a certain snarkiness seemed inevitable since we had his death non-stop after Schiavo non-stop. I'm chuck full of televised death watches, especially when it was just two celebrated cases that could be perverted for various uses.

I did not hate John Paul II. Historically, there have been much worse popes, at least if you believe printed histories. PR wise, JPII was pretty damned good for the Catholic Church. I appreciated his outspokenness about the Iraq War, for example. I appreciated some of his more eloquent moments against the American practice of relatively frequent use of the death penalty.

Instead, I was profoundly disappointed in him. JPI seemed to offer a lot of promise that the sudden death-and-the-arrival of JPII nipped in the bud. JP II - whether this was his own belief or not - chose to keep Catholics in the proverbial dark. Watching what AIDS was doing in Africa and parts of Asia and Eastern Europe, he wouldn't even allow condoms to be used.

JPII did nothing to advance either nearly 50% of the world's population (women) or nearly 10% of any given population (gay men and women). At a time of record problems with getting and keeping good priests, he chose to pretend that "public abstinence" would not exacerbate the problem of priests who cannot be abstinent.

And at this same time, we saw dramatic examples of how some priests abused their power and their parishioners. The Pope's response: Americans, stop embarrassing me; get this out of the headlines so we can pretend this is not an issue.

Throughout that period, the Pope was not only not infallible, he was profoundly wrong as a Christian, a leader, and a so-called great man.

Overall, considering the damage he allowed to continue, the fact that he and his great office never once reached out to the victims of the priest abuse scandal (understandable in a corporate leader but as God's rep on earth?), I cannot pretend he was a wonderful man and a proper leader of the Catholic Church. We can forgive him for being human, because that is what he really is - all happy horseshit aside, but a human who could take that position and not do the very best job possible is a little less forgivable.


Since I Complain Enough About Blogger

It's worth noting when it behaves better, which it's been doing the last few days. I also notice they've added a Recover Post feature which - frankly - may be needed when it's not working so well.

The more I read about Google, the more I think I may understand how Blogger has changed since they were bought by the search company.


Make Me Stop Blogging

I'm tired. Good night.

So the GOP "Get What We Want on the Dying Breath of a Disabled Woman" Schiavo GOP Talking Points are Genu-whine

My last tiddle from E&P after the GOP insisted til they were ::cough:: blue in the face the talking points were made up to discredit them (and Martinez is putting the blame on a staffer - right):

one-page unsigned memo that became part of the debate preceding Congress’ vote ordering a federal court review of the Terri Schiavo case originated in Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez’ office, Martinez said Wednesday.

The memo — first reported by ABC News on March 18 and by The Washington Post and The Associated Press two days later — said the fight over removing Schiavo’s feeding tube “is a great political issue ... and a tough issue for Democrats.”

“This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue,” said the memo, which was described at the time as being circulated among Senate Republicans.

[The Washington Post on Thursday observed that the memo had been declared a fake by conservative columnists and blogs, some likening it to the "60 Minutes" National Guard documents.]

Martinez said in a written statement he discovered Wednesday that the memo had been written by an aide in his office. “It is with profound disappointment and regret that I learned today that a senior member of my staff was unilaterally responsible for this document,” Martinez said.

He said he accepted the resignation of the staffer, whom he did not identify, who drafted and circulated the memo. “This type of behavior and sentiment will not be tolerated in my office,” he said.

“Until this afternoon, I had never seen it and had no idea a copy of it had ever been in my possession,” Martinez said of the document. He had previously denied knowing anything about the memo and condemned its sentiments.

The memo had been disavowed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, both primary forces behind Congress passing the bill and sending it to President Bush on March 21.

Democrats had pounced on the document as evidence that Republicans were seeking a political advantage in the fight between Schiavo’s husband and her parents over removing her feeding tube 15 years after she incurred severe brain damage that left her incapacitated.
Shame. Shame. Shame. And that was even before you folks lied about it.

Florida Sheriff Uses Private Records to Find Letter Writer

He (sheriff) accuses the letter writer of slander. Why? Well, she said he appeared overweight. He's 290 lbs. All muscle or just between his ears?

Another from E&P:

Orange County's sheriff used driver's license records to contact a woman who wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper citicizing his staff's use of Taser stun guns and describing him as fat.

Some say Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary violated federal privacy law when he had his aides use the records to get the address of Alice Gawronski. He sent her a letter accusing her of slander.

It is illegal to access a driver's license database to obtain personal information, except for clear law-enforcement purposes, under the U.S. Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994.

"I recently read your slanderous remarks about the Orange County Sheriff's Office in the Orlando Sentinel," Beary wrote Gawronski on March 23. "It is unfortunate that people ridicule others without arming themselves with the facts before they slander a law enforcement agency or individual."

Gawronski said, "I thought I was exercising my First Amendment right of free speech -- expressing an opinion in an open forum about a paid public official." She considered Beary's letter a form of intimidation.

"If I were her, I'd sue and get him in front of a jury. He'd probably get laughed out of the courtroom," said Chris Hoofnagle, the senior counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

But sheriff's spokesman Jim Solomons said using a database to respond to a resident's concern is well within Beary's official duties.
Yeah. I'm sure it's part of a Florida sheriff's official duties.

Michelle Malkin's Panties in a Bunch Because Prize Winning War Photos Aren't Pretty Enough

Story here, with this schnibble from Ed and Pub:

The Pulitzer Board anointed 11 Associated Press photographers as winners in the category of breaking-news photography. The award-winning photos were from war-torn Iraq -- and some in conservative circles claim the images were, on the whole, overly helpful to the insurgent cause. At least one of the photos raised an uproar from the same quarters when it was first published late last year.

According to a count by The Jawa Report site, “11 of the 20 photos would likely cause anti-American inflammation. Only two show Americans in a positive light.” By a count on another blog, called Riding Sun, three photos reveal U.S. troops “looking overwhelmed or uncertain,” two showed “Iraqis celebrating attacks on U.S. forces,” and zero featured U.S. forces “looking heroic.”

Columnist Michelle Malkin and the popular Powerline blog, meanwhile, returned to the controversy over the widely published AP photo of terrorists executing Iraqi election workers in Baghdad. Malkin asked on Tuesday if the Pulitzer judges were “ignorant of the controversy.” Powerline called the award a "Pulitzer Prize for felony murder." Last December it had charged that “the terrorists wanted to be photographed carrying out the murder, to sow more terror in Iraq and to demoralize American voters. That’s why they tipped off the photographer, and that’s why they dragged the two election workers from their car, so they could be shot in front of the AP’s obliging camera.”

The “tipped off” refers to the AP revealing that the photographer had been notified that a car bombing had occurred in the area where the attack on the election workers eventually took place. Contrary to the Powerline assertion, however, there is no evidence that the photographer knew anything about the attack in advance or, indeed, that the killers knew a photographer was poised and ready to snap that image. Indeed, according to AP, the lensman was 300 meters away. Salon.com quoted an unnamed AP source calling this charge of pre-arrangement “ridiculous.”

Today, Kathleen Carroll, the AP's executive editor, told E&P: "The allegations on these Web sites are complete baloney and deeply offensive."
Methinks it doesn't take much for Michelle's panties to get all twisted.

Bushes at Pope's Funeral: the Family that Prays Togethers Slays Together

Who says the documents you create in Word have to be boring?

The "Culture of Life" Festival: Be There

The General is whipping up something special. Having Randall Terry in charge of fireworks is just inspirational; most people wouldn't trust him with a book of matches (or their dying daughter).

Note to White House: You Snubbed Carter

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the White House says they "reached out" to former president Jimmy Carter" and won't elaborate on why Carter won't attend the Pope's funeral.

But this is a completely different story than Fox News was reporting around 4 or 5 AM (forgive me, I happened to be awake, I turned it on). The reporter there said the Vatican allowed a delegation of five and that because Bush had invited both his wife (almost understandable) and Condi (no.. it would normally be the president OR the sec of state, not both since Condi had no relationship with the pontiff), there was no room for Carter to go.

The correct thing to do (from what I was able to dig up about the diplomatic rule book) was boot Condi (preferably, with her own boots). But Bush has done everything possible to give Carter the finger.

While I was not a big fan of Mr. Carter's presidency (high school days for me), Carter the human being is a thousand times better than Bush the president (Bush the man isn't someone most of us would cross the street to see). But it was also Faux that told us two-three years ago that Carter would be permanently disinvited to anything official because he won the Nobel peace prize.

Forty members of Congress - none with clearance to attend anything official - will also pony along on the Bush trip. You know who will be there, too.

UK: U.S. Relied on Drunken Liar "Curveball" to Justify War

[Ed. note to self: "Please stop asking how much worse it can get because these clowns always top themselves.]

From the Observer/Guardian (UK):

An alcoholic cousin of an aide to Ahmed Chalabi has emerged as the key source in the US rationale for going to war in Iraq.

According to a US presidential commission looking into pre-war intelligence failures, the basis for pivotal intelligence on Iraq's alleged biological weapons programmes and fleet of mobile labs was a spy described as 'crazy' by his intelligence handlers and a 'congenital liar' by his friends.

The defector, given the code-name Curveball by the CIA, has emerged as the central figure in the corruption of US intelligence estimates on Iraq. Despite considerable doubts over Curveball's credibility, his claims were included in the administration's case for war without caveat.

According to the report, the failure of US spy agencies to scrutinise his claims are the 'primary reason' that they 'fundamentally misjudged the status of Iraq's [biological weapons] programs'. The catalogue of failures and the gullibility of US intelligence make for darkly comic reading, even by the standards of failure detailed in previous investigations. Of all the disproven pre-war weapons claims, from aluminium centrifuge tubes to yellow cake uranium from Niger, none points to greater levels of incompetence than those found within the misadventures of Curveball.

The Americans never had direct access to Curveball - he was controlled by the German intelligence services who passed his reports on to the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's spy agency.

The Other Coast Never Hears of the Governor Schwarzenegger Protests

If Californians like our favorite Bush kangaroo, Skippy, didn't tell us about them or we didn't make the effort to read some of the few California newspapers reporting on them (which seem to grow larger and more animated with each new one), we'd be in the dark more than California was under the Bush-Enron energy debacle of Summer 2001.

Ah, the Glamour of Being a Professional Writer

As I sit here 15 deep in Word documents, Excel worksheets, PDF proposals, and about six open books, I'm reminded of that smile people get when they ask what I do for a living.

"A writer? Wow! That must be very neat!"

Uh... actually, it's rather dirty. Besides the fact that print tends to smudge all over perspiring palms as deadlines approach and the fact that my work often involves taking computers apart, putting them back together, or nuking them just to see what happens, add more dirt. Then there's the car repair book I decided to write because I'm a) REALLY tired of powderpuff mechanics books and b) many of the better selling ones in print haven't been updated since cars got much more computerized, and we add lots more dirt to my life.

Add to that the fact that there's an unwritten rule that while publishers publish books to make money, the writer is only supposed to be there to do the work "just for the sheer joy and ethereal wonder of it all".

I love what I do, but when you work 18 hours a day 7 days a week, it's likely to be considered work. Most books today - at least, the kind I write - have to be produced in anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks. Several times, I've had to write 800 page wonders in less than 8 weeks. Imagine writing 100 pages a week every week on material that requires you to pay close attention to detail. And because of the uh.. uncertain manner of payment, you tend to have to juggle multiple works at once. There are plenty of weeks I crank out 300-500 pages per.

So every time an office manager or a receptionist gets starry-eyed about my glamorous life, I'm thinking, "Yes, but you get paid this week AND go home at five." I wouldn't trade places but.. man....

If Your Name is Cheney, We Have a Tax-Paid Job for You!

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The nomination of Vice President Dick Cheney's son-in-law as top lawyer at the Department of Homeland Security, coupled with the appointment of Mr. Cheney's daughter to a senior State Department post, are a strain of nepotism not usually seen in American government.

The Bush administration should have paid attention to the disastrous experience of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the awarding of a big U.N. contract to a firm that employed his son Kojo. The Volcker report on the Iraq oil-for-food scandal, including the focus on Kojo's role, has led to calls for Kofi Annan's resignation.

No such luck. Last week Mr. Bush nominated Philip J. Perry, Elizabeth Cheney's husband, to be general counsel at Homeland Security. If the appointment is confirmed by the Senate, he would leave a partnership at the Los Angeles-based law firm Latham & Watkins to come to government. Among the clients his firm represents in Washington is Lockheed Martin, one of Homeland Security's top 10 contractors.

Elizabeth Cheney also feeds at the government trough. She is currently principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and coordinator for broader Middle East and North Africa initiatives. She was appointed to that post in February by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Mr. Perry's background for his nomination includes having won for Lockheed Martin and its partners hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts, including one to train airport screeners for the Transportation Security Administration. Ms. Cheney's background includes no known experience of Middle Eastern or North African affairs.

The Right is Busy Handing Tom DeLay Anchors

Lest anyone get the mistaken notion that the heat has gone from simmering to a hard boil under Tom DeLay because either:

    * regular Americans finally got his number and decided to have it disconnected, or
    * "the left" managed to out him
Instead, what we're seeing is what we saw with Trent Lott around the time of ol Strom Thurmond's death. The ranking GOP has decided to feed the media anything and everything it can to distance themselves from the Bug Man.

Bob Novak (affectionately known as "Ol Douchebag" when he's not seen as a traitor for outing a CIA operative) and others have hinted in columns that the right is getting very concerned about the 2006 election cycle in light of Bush's War on AARP, Congress' behavior on the Terri Schiavo case, and a president whose approval ratings are headed into negative numbers.

As I keep saying, I'd rather DeLay stay in place because his dance card has been pulled into the public view. Ousting him from Congress just puts less restrictions on him, and Tom knows where too many bodies are buried to ever serve time for his misdeeds. As someone with a pathological fear of snakes, I can tell you that I've finally learned I'd rather see them so I know where they are and can monitor their behavior.


Tom DeLay Hot Tub Party

Now, I don't like hot tubs myself but please, send pictures.

Perhaps Tom DeLay has an inner Frenchman, too. ::grin:: Mind you, I wasn't just grinning at the idea of the General ducking Tom in a hot tub but how much a fellow prisoner might enjoy Tom's hair and overall small stature.

Also, DC Media Girl points us to a Times report that DeLay's PAC paid his wife and his daughter (with an IQ up around 100 combined) some $500,000 in just the last few years. Considering DeLay's wife - from what I've read - mostly just sits home, one would wonder why she would command such wages.

Federal Blogger Application

Please fill out and return immediately.

You can also access a Word copy of this here.

Mr. Bush's Happy Horseshit Bamboozlepalooza Tour Calendar

Go. Look at this.

You Can't Just Swat One Roach

Josh Marshall sees it the same way a lot of us do about Tom DeLay. Yes, his comments are certainly grounds for removal. And his behavior is 3 million times worse.

However, DeLay is just one part of it. We get rid of DeLay and some other bug crawls in. Look what happened when Lott was replaced. So let's keep DeLay in place and the rabid wrongies "praying" for poor Tom. Maybe the voters will kindly disconnect his feeding tube next election.

RIP Saul Bellow

Each of these greats we lose makes me worry more and more about who we will have represent some of the voices of our times.

Boy, Pretty Soon, Bloggers Will Need a Dog License, Too

[Ed. note: I draw the line at being given distemper shots.]

From Kos:

Just when you thought the Federal Election Commission had it out for the blogosphere, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors took it up a notch and announced yesterday that it will soon vote on a city ordinance (PDF) that would require local bloggers to register with the city Ethics Commission and report all blog-related costs that exceed $1,000 in the aggregate.

Blogs that mention candidates for local office that receive more than 500 hits will be forced to pay a registration fee and will be subject to website traffic audits, according to Chad Jacobs, a San Francisco City Attorney.
Vote was today.

Congress Puts Judges on Notice

Sheesh! From Sandrover at DailyKos:

The following is a summary of the Constitutional Restoration Act proposed by Republicans in the 109th congress that makes it possible for the Congress to charge any judge with a crime who disagrees with the concept that all law, liberty, and government comes only from God.

"The Constitution Restoration Act of 2005 - Amends the Federal judicial code to prohibit the U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal district courts from exercising jurisdiction over any matter in which relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government or an officer or agent of such government concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.

What's Stranger Than Fiction? Would Rumsfeld Publishing Comic Books Qualify?

Majikthise brings us this:

US Army is looking for a few good graphic novelists:
    The US military is planning to win the hearts of young people in the Middle East by publishing a new comic.

    An advertisement on the US government's Federal Business Opportunities website is inviting applications for someone to develop an "original comic book series". [BBC]
Set in the Middle East in the "near future," the series will chronicle the endearing escapades of the US security forces in the region.
BTW, Majikthise also has a pretty bang-up definition of pornography related to discussion of the new movie I won't see "Sin City".

As for why I won't see the film - I don't like comics, or comics made into movies, or anything with Jessica Alba who acting range runs the vast difference between her left enhanced boob and her right enhanced boob.

But also I noticed that in discussions of "Sin City", an inordinate amount of time is spent discussing how special Alba's sandal/boots that end up around her neck are; footwear is rarely a factor in choice of films for me.

Uh? Iraqi Funds Aren't Going There But Buying Stock Here?

The good folks at Discourse point us to this:

Under the very appropriate headline Could This Possibly Be True?, David Farber forwards this story that seems like pure tin-foil. And yet.
    Of the $18.4 billion that Congess appropriated 16 months ago for postwar reconstruction in Iraq, only $3.6 billion has been spent to date. There has been much head-scratching over this uncharacteristic failure of the Pentagon to spend money promptly.

    A recently unearthed portion of a Defense Department memo sheds some light on the issue, suggesting that more than $14 billion earmarked for reconstruction was actually invested on Wall Street. The memo’s author and date are unknown. This portion of the apparently classified document — marked “page 3” — was mistakenly sent to Mid-America Seed Savers, a nonprofit organization in Lawrence, Kansas whose members had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to the Army’s alleged distribution of genetically engineered wheat seed to farmers in Iraq.

Note to Self: Wear Clothes Outdoors

[Ed. note: Well, I usually do wear clothes outdoors but we're pretty secluded from the roads here and visitors have to crunch up a long and winding driveway to get within sight of the house which only recently became visible from the driveway again with the great melting of snow called Mud Season. And as for clothing, well... that's probably more than you need or want to know about me except that I believe everyone looks better in clothes.]

Man, these satellite images are getting close! I'm up in the land of 100 trees for every person and even _I_ can make out my humble abode from their map. On most of these, it's been pretty hard to find any that show enough of the ::cough:: roads ::cough:: around here to tell what was what. But this one shows at least four of the buildings on my lot (but thankfully, not the outhouse which - also thankfully - doesn't look much like an outhouse on the outside; and no, the outhouse hasn't been in use since... 1970?).

For Daily Kos Readers

The folks there are soliciting "good energy" for Meteor Blades, a strong and energetic contributor whose wife and sister-in-law were involved in a very serious car accident.

John Cornyn (Racist-Texas) Implying Violence Against Judges Warranted?

From Atrios (and I'm appalled because he also says this in The Post):

SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence.
Where do Tom DeLay and John Cornyn and others get off all but saying it's okay that it's becoming open season for the extreme nuts to hurt judges?

Can you even begin to consider a Dem standing up to say this about Noni Scalia or Roy Moore and how fast DeLay would be introducing legislation barring Democrats from being allowed to vote or hold jobs in the U.S. because of it?

Politics aside, let's look at the personal issue. DeLay, Cornyn and others are saying it's OK to act against judges who stand up for your right to choose how long, in how much pain, and how much misery you and your loved ones must be in at the end of life.

Another US Soldier and Iraqi Dead

Bush's Culture of Life initiative is doing so well.

The So-Called "Minutemen": Who's Watching the Watchers

[Reader CK points us to these two sites: The Minute Man Project and VDare on this subject. Now that I've seen both, my reservations have escalated twenty fold.]

Yes, I have severe reservations about these folks "volunteering" to defend the US-Mexico border.

Last time I knew, the Department of Homeland Security was operating under no shortage of funds. But the money seems to go to odd places, like protecting a Nebraska county with more cows than people from al Qaeda, and the companies making the most have some questionable motivations (can you say Rudy Giuliani?).

While I have no doubt that among these volunteers are a number of people who are there believing they are simply defending the border with no great agenda over than national protection, I don't think the program itself or a lot of the people involved with it are quite so noble.

Why You'll Need a Passport

The [expletive deleted] minds in the government have decided we need to use a passport to cross into Canada and Mexico (and for their residents to come here), probably starting in 2008.

Now, Canada's up the road from me. I've mentioned that it's not so tough to drive up around the border and accidentally start out on one street in Vermont and arrive at an Arrete! sign at the end of the same street because you've unwittingly crossed the border into Quebec. This is a situation most of us avoid as much as possible, of course, because if you then return to the states through a border crossing they get kinda fussy. But for many folks here on the border, this is a daily issue because many work just on either side of said border.

But a passport to pass into countries right next to us? As I recall, many of the accused 9/11 hijackers had passports and visas issued by our lovely government.

So what's this going to do for security? It's defintitely going to cut further into cross-border shopping (on both sides).

A Suggestion Re: the Pope's Passing

Some four million people are expected to hit Rome this week to see the Pope's dead body (and frankly, I have to admit I'm getting a little creeped out seeing his lifeless repose 400 times a day). The media has presented countless interviews with people who dropped everything to beg and borrow money, max out credit cards, etc. to get there. Surprisingly, lots of them aren't Catholic. Lots profess they are there to be part of history. I'm sure what part they think they play but... whatever.

I did a check of short-booked flights to Rome last night and $500 round trip is one of the best prices I saw - mind you, I didn't look extensively but there were far more in the $700-$1,000 ballpark and yes, we're talking coach). This assumes you won't eat or rent a hotel room (and in fact, most of the great minds doing this seem to think they'll be put up for free).

Now imagine the amount of good that three million people (assuming a million actual Catholics who deeply feel the obligation to go will go anyway) each contributing $500-$1,000 to real programs providing real support of reach causes in real Catholic countries. For example, the greatest concentration of Catholics is in Latin America (4-5 of every 10 Catholics was born or lives there). This is not generally a very wealthy part of the world. If you want to believe that the Pope was a great man and that he truly supported the poor people of the world, it would seem a MUCH better way to honor his life to soend that money on people in desperate need in Catholic countries than to go stand on line to view his worldly shell.

Great Moments in Blog Ad Irony - Part I

Anyone taking my poll tonight about Tom DeLay - where the overwhelming majority have responded that hell is too good for Toupee Tom - was treated to this ad on the View Results page.


The Pentagon and Depleted Uranium: What's Wrong with This Picture?

[Ed. note: No, the wrong title is not on the wrong post. This requires a narrative lead-in which I promise will be shorter than "War and Peace" but will likely seem longer than the last time you had intercourse.]

As those of you who blog yourselves know, many bloggers use various services to look at their metrics which basically give us an idea of who is visiting. For the most part, this is very general information like what service you're using to connect (AOL, Verizon, Comcast).

While enterprising types could probably discern a great deal more about their visitors (in fact, I know how invasive they could be since I've worked for some very large service providers), this is not something I would choose to do. By being a public blog (albeit one that doesn't advertise she's here), I've provided an implicit invitation for anyone who happens my way to stop in. I've no interest in carding you at the door. I've never felt the inclination to ban anyone. I've never deleted a single comment (even my own when I've wanted to take back what I said ::cough::).

Such stats thankfully do not provide your name, weight, where precisely you're located (many just track to a regional routing system to indicate you're from Northern California or Southern Florida), favorite sexual position, or whether you secretly watch Bill O'Reilly while running your loofah over your falafel --- ewww, I've completely grossed myself out now.

So - to cut to the chase (hmmm... I like that phrase) - I was strolling through my stats tonight and I noticed that I seemed to have several visits from the Pentagon and the military today.

Now, while I often wonder why some government organization is spending tax dollars reading my blog in the middle of a workday (and suspect sometimes it's not just a browse, if you get my drift), I'm always just as happy to see the Navy, the Marines, and even Mr. Rumsfeld's chief coffee-pourer - not to mention reps from the Dept of Interior, Education, State, Food and Drug, etc. - visit as anyone. Since a good 2-5% of my traffic everyday is from some aspect of government, it's probably good I don't mind!

But imagine my surprise when I noticed that the Pentagon and military hits today all seemed to be looking up entries I'd made about depleted uranium in Iraq.

Let me say just a few things to my new admirers:

    Folks? If anyone should have information about depleted uranium in Iraq, it's.. um.. YOU. If you're coming to the blog of a quiet, mild-mannered, non sci wiz (I've been to MIT but just so I could say "Yes, I went to MIT" and leave out the part about being there for about two hours) techie writer with post nasal drip to learn about depleted uranium in Iraq, we've got a big problem.
And yes, this worried me even more than the six people who found me on Google Search yesterday by typing in "golden showers". I have not tried to duplicate the unique set of circumstances to see just how easy it is to find my blog when looking for um... that but I just know this has something to do with Jeff Gannon.

I mean, let's face it. Wherever there's somebody pissing on your leg and telling you he loves you, there's Jeff Gannon. ::smirk::

The Filtering

[Ed. note: Compare, if you will, the treatment of the relatively small number of these Schiavo protestors with the treatment of anti-war or anti-Bush protests. For the latter, they'll do slideshows of the "meanest" of signs, newscasters will adopt a tone of "oh those silly and/or insolent and/or crazy" people, minimize the numbers and make it sound like a protest was violent or highly disruptive when perhaps a dozen out of 50,000 or 100,000+ people get arrested (and who knows if they got arrested for something legitimate?). The latter also needs to have all these "permits" to protest and are forbidden from impeding normal traffic, commerce, etc. They must disband within a very short period of time. The Schiavo people spent a week there and disrupted everything, aided by the media there to cover them which only added to the chaos. Fascinating what a stark contrast in coverage these present.]

For all the hours upon hours of live and recorded TV coverage of the protestors at the hospice where Terri Schiavo died last week, we certainly "missed" a lot.

Look at some print accounts that deal with other aspects of the protest - other businesses affected, a school shut, the treatment by police, etc. - and you got dozens and dozens of hints about a situation that was very carefully missing in all those hours of live video.


    * we never saw the old lady who would spend hours each day going up and down the sidewalk directly in front of the hospice, with a bullhorn, blaring some egregious shit that people inside (including the staff, the other patients, and their families) did hear
    * the people there selling t-shirts and their own religious CDs or books or their ministries or their "health cures" and other crap
    * the profanity and object-throwing the protestors targeted at kids, business people, and hospice visitors
    * the worst of the signs that greeted families of hospice patients - not just ones calling Schiavo's husband every name in the book (and a few besides) but also calling these families horrible names, called the staff killers and Nazis
    * so-called men of God inciting violence and obscene behavior and spewing hatred (yes, above and beyond what we say from Randall Terry, Brother Murphy and that true mental case Father Pavone)
    * the kids used as pawns to try to run into the hospice with food and water (while we saw some of this, we didn't see what the press saw: kids being solicited - some paid - to do this just so the protestors would get worked up when a kid was arrested
    * the incredible nastiness directed at the police
    * the man who walked around with a skeleton all the time, approaching small children
    * kids from a nearby school being told they would be murdered by the government if they got sick
    * the protestors who would use the worst profanity as well as do damage when business owners tried to open their businesses or customers tried to visit those businesses
    * the idiots there to goof on the protestors
Why didn't we see it? Because even when the media is tempted to do its job, they've discovered it's just far too much trouble - and far too risky - to go against the rabid wrongies. Newscasters who say boo these days are treated to thousands upon thousands of nutcases with nothing else to do but listen to an O'Reilly or a Limbaugh or a Randall Terry or a Hal Turner or a Fr Pavone or Mahoney or Falwell or worse.

So what we heard and saw was the cleaned up version. While almost everyone agreed it seemed like a crackpot festival, they had no way of knowing how much worse it really was. The media did us no favor here, of course, because these same people will be back because - even if not every certifiable psycho got on TV, they know the media will give them non-stop airtime.

Throwing Good Money After Bad? And Why "Enduring Bases"?

I'm including part of MoveOn's latest letter here, but before I do, I've got a question (or two depending on your answer to the first):

    How comfortable do you feel with putting permanent and/or "enduring" bases in Iraq?
    If you do feel comfortable with it, why?
Mr. Bush has given almost as many versions of why we're in Iraq as the number of cars I've owned in my lifetime. But NONE of them included a situation that leads to establishing bases and keeping them there.
    * To free the Iraq people? Nah.
    * To bring them democracy? Only in Bush democracy would military bases serve this purpose.
    * To defeat Saddam? Done (wasn't tough).
    * To destroy WMD? Didn't have any.
Only if you peg this to control the oil there or to continue to control Iraq does it make much sense.

From MoveOn:
Congress has barely debated the war in Iraq or its aftermath since it voted to authorize the use of force in October 2002. Now, the Bush administration is skipping the normal budget process to ask for an additional $82 billion to fund the American presence in Iraq. Among the big-ticket items, a $600 million embassy and some 14 "enduring" bases.[1] Those bases, and the absence of an exit strategy, will worsen, not improve the situation in Iraq.

And, remember the last $87 billion Congress authorized for the war: a whopping $9 billion of it is missing because of corrupt contracting.[2] We must root out the corporate corruption that has undercut the rebuilding efforts and lost billions of taxpayers' money.

As it considers another $82 billion for Iraq, Congress needs to insist that America has an exit strategy from Iraq with a timeline, that we do not construct permanent bases in Iraq and that we end war profiteering by corporations. Please sign our petition urging Congress to act today.


After reading Hal Turner's hate-filled, threat-filled, bigoted, and jeez, that doesn't begin to cover it (in one small part of page, he managed to suggest the deaths of several people, insulted Jews and Native Americans and judges and Navy SEALS and puppies), I need to go scrub my eyes with lye.

For Those of You Haven't Discovered What a Total Nutcase Hal Turner is

From his site (and no, I won't link to it; use Google):

Starve Florida's economy to death like that state did to Terri Schiavo; wreck real estate valuesI will be posting a list of companies in Pinellas Park and Pinellas County Florida to be targeted for economic boycott first, then add companies in areas represented by every state legislator and state senator who opposed helping Terri. When we start bankrupting those areas through economic boycott, the folks there will have a better clue about how they should act in the future! In addition, I will be working closely with real estate agents to begin moving low class blacks, hispanics and registered sex offenders into Pinellas Park Florida to affect property values in that town. See how they like it when I start buying up homes and moving busloads of undesireables into their town. By the time I'm done with that town, it will look like a mix between South Central Los Angeles and Harlem, New York.
I dunno.. I'm thinking advanced stages of syphilis Hal might have picked up from screwing sick alien teens.

Torture Approval Came From On High

Hunter at Daily Kos links us to the ACLU article with the memo in which Rick Sanchez, one of the heads of Iraq after the invasion, basically says "go ahead, hurt 'em." Ah, the freedom and sanctity we bring.


While We're Treating the Pope's Death Like News

The March job figures really bite. As cost of living shoots up, wages are stagnant and job creation is pretty weak.

CNN, MSNBC and Faux: All Pope, All the Time

[bleep][bleep][bleepiddy bleeping bleep][bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep]

Don't Assume You Can Sue

While I'm not a great proponent of filing a lawsuit as a means of resolving life's problems, I'm still shocked at how few consumers understand that their right to sue - even in a case of grievous misconduct on behalf of a company - is vanishing. Most consumer contracts these days give you no other option but arbitration... binding arbitration.

CBS News presents one such story (this one principally about cell phone service) and gives you a hint about how rarely consumers come out satisfied - or even modestly served - in such arbitration. For example:

Among the few statistics available are those obtained in a lawsuit against credit card giant First USA. Of more than 19,000 arbitrations for debt collection, consumers won just 87 cases.

A more recent, but small study for the American Bankers Association, found consumers prevailed more than half the time.

Arbitration clauses can help companies avoid class-action suits...
Notice that the protection is on the company, not the consumer.

Again, I think arbitration has a place and that there are definitely people (a small percentage) who abuse the courts - and even companies - wildly. But we've gone from a time when individuals - at least in theory - had rights while corporations did not to one where (through a fairly twisted decision that gave corporations the same protections as individuals) corporations now have far MORE rights and protections than humans. Note, however, how few corporations pay taxes at all; when they do, it's often nowhere near at the level humans do.

Yes, boys and girls, this is why we need to start paying attention to campaign financing. We may pay the politicians through our tax dollars, but the president, the senators, the congress critters and yes, even the Supreme Court justices get their real benefits from corporate America. So guess who they prefer?

EU Imposes Sanctions Against US


Jeff Gannon Can't Stop Stealing or Conniving or Lying

(Or urinating while taping and then publishing the movies online. Sheesh, it's bad enough that watching Congress on C-Span these last few years makes you feel like you're watching golden showers performed by men in toupees.]

From the Washington (Moonie) Times:

Former Talon News White House correspondent J.D. Guckert reportedly is implicated in falsely registering a political organization as a non-profit.

The Weblog dailyKos.com reported Thursday that Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon, who quit his job for the online publisher Talon News after media reports tied him to gay online prostitution and Republican Party operatives, was registered as the executive director of an organization called the Free Speech Foundation.

The Free Speech Foundation was registered as a tax-exempt non-profit with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service under code 501(c)(3), which prohibits the organizations from participating in or funding political activities.

Despite this, dailyKos.com charged, the organization was used to fundraise for a pro-Bush Web site, ProBush.com, that was facing a $5 million libel suit for naming an Arab-American senator on its ongoing "Traitor List."

Under his pen name Gannon, Guckert subsequently wrote an article about the lawsuit for Talon News, without disclosing his organization -- FSF -- had created a PayPal online fundraising account for a legal defense fund for ProBush.com's publishers, dailyKos.com said.
It goes on to say that Jeff insists the FSF is "extremely legitimate". Well, he got the extreme part correct, anyway.

Thanks to AmericaBlog for the link.

John Nails the Real Motive in DeLay-Schiavo

I think John at AmericaBlog has nailed this: Tom DeLay didn't jump on Terri Schiavo's body to distract us from the ethics problems (now there's an understatement) so much as to force the conservative Christian element to protect him from current and future problems. So far - at least with many voices - he's been successful, too, as more and more say "we have to save Tom from those Dems and liberals who hate God and life".

Mind you, even the Wall Street Journal looked down their patrician noses at DeLay this past week.

Cheney did say it was "inappropriate" for DeLay to threaten judges, but if you read the full text of his comments, this Dick was pretty limp (as in, "I personally would not have knocked down the long line of elderly nuns clutching walkers who were trying to escape from the burning building but yes, sometimes nuns must be toppled.")

Post-Schiavo Political Fallout

USA Today looks at it. Bottom line: it's anybody's guess whether people will remember it in the 2006 elections or not.

But given that Bill Frist has embarrassed himself on medical matters more than a few times - an medicine is his field - one would hope voters would worry about Frist's capability as a president. I'd like to see him retired to... well... whatever it is he does besides grandstand. The man went to the tsunami struck countries for a photo op where this "man of healing" didn't lift a finger to help a sick or injured person, just stopped aid operations while people snapped his picture.

While a lot of people formed a negative impression of Howard Dean, see if you ever get an equivocal or dumb answer from the man on medicine. He took the time to learn medicine. And he doesn't change his medical opinion based on current popular political stances. These could be strong points in a man who also wants to be president, whereas Frist hasn't even gotten the medicine part right.

Bush Bypasses Senate to Close Military Bases

Story here. I think we can all appreciate how political this is.

A couple of notable things, however. One is that this will NOT stop GOP talking points that Clinton killed all the military bases (even though it was Cheney under Bush I who put the plan into place). The rabid ruling wing of the GOP never lets facts get in the way of anything. Second is that Bush promised, after getting one of his wingers a recess appointment to the fed court of appeals, not to do anymore recess appointments.

Wow. Bush lies. There's a news flash.

Funny thing though is that with the GOP controlled Senate and House so willing to let Bush run a one man show, we could save ourselves a MINT if we stopped paying Congress and sent them home. Is that a democracy? No. But neither's America under Bush.

In the "DeLay May Come from Sugarland, But He Ain't Too Sweet" Department

From the Houston Chronicle (emphasis mine):

Although Tom DeLay portrays a believable Third World dictator, it is time that he stopped trying to transform the United States into his own ideological fiefdom.

And it is time for him to stop sputtering ill-tempered threats, not only at the judiciary but also at the U.S. Constitution, which he repeatedly has sworn an oath to uphold.

...On a different — but equally important — front, the Texas Legislature in recent years has been eroding the authority of state courts to decide questions of civil justice with a series of so-called "tort reform" laws heavily weighted against consumers.

And just a few weeks ago, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal denounced the U.S. Supreme Court for banning the execution of capital murderers who killed when they were younger than 18.

No one in a position of authority has actually advocated locking the courthouse doors, but who knows where DeLay's next tirade may take him.

Blog Rolling

For any of you who scan over to the right of the blog window, you'll see my blog roll is getting chokingly long.

While I do remove sites that I feel no longer have great value or interest, I add 10-12 for every one I de-list. And that's good news, actually, because I (as I'm sure some of you do) am always finding new blogs written by people worth reading. Majikthise, ThatColoredFellasWeblog, BitchPhD, ShakespearesSister, Rox Populi, Pharyngula, At Ease, TheCarpetBaggerReport, Discourse.net, BlogsByWomen, First Draft, DCMediaGirl, and Pudentilla are just a handful of such discoveries in recent weeks. And I've got 5o or more I want to add just right now. [If you happen to notice that some of these blogs are by women, it's because there are so damned many good ones.]

Um... this is a very long way of saying (besides that we have a wealth of good minds in Blogtopia* - yes, Skippy coined that phrase!) I'm still struggling with a way to organize these better. I'm at the point where I'm actually setting up a database of blogs but ....

Anyway, if anyone has any pithy suggestions on how organizing my list would help you find things better, give a shout. Or better yet, leave a quiet comment (I have a headache).

Here's a (Sad) Hoot

An editor friend just did me the favor of reviewing my second draft of the novel (tentative title, "Division Street") I wrote about the "Bush wars" effect on American families and - while I'm very happy he thought the book held well together throughout - I just had one point of contention.

In it, one of the soldiers is critically injured just before his return from duty, winds up in Germany and then shipped back here on life support. Unfortunately, in today's military, this kind of situation is commonplace (it's not uncommon in any war but the stats for Afghanistan and Iraq are above normal). The editor's issue was in my having the soldier flown into the states at night to Walter Reed under cover of darkness.

"Too contrived", I was told, and "it just screams of you inserting a political agenda you've kept out of the rest of the work." [I actually worked very hard to keep my political thinking from the book, trying to let the characters live and tell their own stories, with the characters drawn from research, discussions with families and soldiers, with teens being pushed to enlist, etc.]

So I sent back to my editor friend a half dozen minimum references to articles in The Post and other publications indicating this is SOP (standard operating procedure) for Bush soldiers.

That's the very sad and odd nature of war in the Bush years. Some of this stuff is so egregious, so nuts that to the eye or ear of someone who doesn't work to read up on a topic, it just sounds like "ranting from Bush's opponents". But you don't HAVE to make up stuff about this president and this Pentagon. Just telling the truth is horrific enough.

Neil Young

They're saying songster Neil Young will make a full recovery from surgery to repair an aneurysm in his brain. Let's hope they're right.

It's also not a bad time to realize how blessed we've been with strong musical artists in our lifetime. Dylan. Some of the Beatles. Annie Lennox. Tracy Chapman. And someone gifted me several years ago with an album by Mickey Hart and Planet Drum that was just extraordinary. I'm leaving way too many off this list but my mind's just not on music today.

[While I must admit I don't always or even usually enjoy his voice, his lyrics and music stands above the pack - and no, I don't count Jennifer Lopez (Way Lo), Britney, and most of the pop tunists in the pack.]

The Schiavo Media "Beat"

This article examines how the Terri Schiavo case blossomed into total media saturation.

But I think it leaves out a great deal. Yes, they note a subtle detail that the videotapes we kept seeing were secretly recorded. But the MSM always left that out when the Schindlers and extremist pundits asked, "WHY WON'T MICHAEL SCHIAVO LET THE WORLD SEE HER?"

Schiavo appears to have been reluctant because the Schindlers were not only secret snapping photos and videotapes, they had them professionally edited to show exactly what was desired. Now, of course, you would boil down the contents of a six hour video just for sanity's sake. But the end result was carefully crafted to confirm what the Schindlers kept saying: that she was able to respond and communicate 100% of the time. Experts viewing the unedited tape (and trust me, I don't mean Bill Frist and Tom DeLay) called it a grave distortion of the reality. They also paraded an infinite amount of people in there with incredibly dubious qualifications - or no qualifications at all. But Schiavo's papers say he didn't so much mind the video taping and pictures if it was for family only; but the Schindlers - already backed by extremists - were distributing these like the TV Guide. And the husband felt strongly that Terri would have been horrified.

I also think this article completely blows right over the fact that the MSM was very complicit in allowing hour upon hour of live footage of every crackpot and politician who wanted to make his career out of this poor woman. They even showed Randall Terry performing at the memorial service (showing a good hunk of the damned thing like it was important or newsworthy). Yes, at a memorial service for me, I'd like some sleezy, hate-filled, fear mongering wife-cheating, gay son abusing terd like Terry to appear with a whole band!

Nobody asked DeLay a damned tough question; Frist either.

Mitch Hedberg's Site

A couple of people dropped me notes related to the death of Mitch Hedberg (whom I incorrectly spelled Hedburg) the other night. You can find his "official" site here.

And no, I have not heard a cause of death. Based on his performance schedule, however, I think it's clear the death was fairly sudden and unexpected.