The Arnold

I don't suppose you heard - the media did not make a big deal about it - that Arnold announced that the borders should be closed to brown people? Of course you didn't. Then he pretended he didn't say it. Sort of like those groping incidents.

Anyway, James Wolcott brings us this:

The LA Times and the local news broadcasts out here (which really live down to their nitwit reputation--it's as if the anchors had the Botox injected directly into their brains) are aburst with stories about Arnold in Trouble. His poll numbers have sunk into Bush territory, the unions are running TV ads slamming the governor into the mat, and wife Maria Shriver has jumped in with both scary cheekbones to exercise damage control.

The best deadpan coverage of Arnold Deflated was provided this morning by the LA Times, which discussed fractures and friction in Schwarzenegger's political team as they fight over the oars on the lifeboat.

"Tensions played out last week after one set of Schwarzenegger consultants organized a 'Thank Arnold' rally on the steps of the Capitol at 10:30 AM on a Wednesday. Attendance was sparse.
What? California isn't going to recall Arnold?

Vermont High School the First to Ban Blogs

I didn't post about this at the time - about three weeks ago - but Rutland (VT) High School made a plop in the news by becoming the first school in the nation to specifically ban blogs and blogging because blogs are "not an educational use of computers".

Granted, a lot of blogs are not in any way educational, except in the broadest sense of the term. But it seems like an odd line to draw. In fact, many schools - often upper classes in high school as well as colleges - are using blogs and blogging as part of different classes.

The content available on America Online, the online service, for example, is rarely educational. Would a school specifically ban the use of AOL?

Nope. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me on the face of it. I can see some cause for concern about blogs - just as you'd have with various Web sites - because not all material is appropriate for all age groups. But just flat out saying that blogs aren't an educational use of computers sounds like lipstick on a pig.

Say Hello to a Vermont Way of Life, Rather Than a Political, Blog

A few folks have asked for more Vermont blogs - or, better put, more listings of Vermont blogs. For myself, I usually enjoy reading the words of my neighbors.

Hazen Behind the Trees is a fairly local one to me, since it covers Woodbury, Hardwick and the Northeast Kingdom as well as Vermont in general. I'll be adding it to the Vermont listing at the right (scroll down-down-down).

There is also Julia Lerman's blog.

Visit here and you can see quite a roster of blogs originating out of Middlebury College.

Pro Choice or Right to Life

There is probably just one point on which these two factions agree: that abortions should not be used as a form of birth control (although Pro Choicers, like me, would add "unless all other methods are exhausted).

I don't know anyone Pro Choice who is also pro abortion. The difference, however, is that as pro choice people, we feel that it is the right of the individual in the situation to make (usually) her best choice for her life and the life she's carrying. Pro Life people, however, don't want a woman to have an abortion, but they would (generally, I have spoken with people who are only opposed to abortion but they seem to be - in my own experience - the minority) also prevent a woman from having any other form of birth control. Pro Life groups demonstrate against Planned Parenthood when the overwhelming amount of work PP does is NOT termination of pregnancy but in programs to help a woman maintain good GYN health as well as sexual health education (staying free of disease, getting pregnant when she chooses). For years, I used PP for my yearly GYN checkups because they offered a sliding scale fee and were pretty darned good about making me smarter about my own body.

What brings this up is that I happened again over a Jesse Taylor posting at Pandagon that raises an important point about the morning after pill that too many miss:

Does anybody here know why the morning-after pill has a 72-hour window? Anyone? Well, you see, when the mommy half and the daddy half get together, it's a process called "fertilization". The problem is, however, that unless that fertilized mommy-and-daddy bit is implanted in the mommy's tummy, it can't ever become a baby nine months later. Unless it's implanted, it's a combined bit of regularly produced bodily secretions that in its then-current state cannot develop any further.

By any real standard of pregnancy, you aren't pregnant until you have an embryo in a womb. Which makes the whole debate over the morning-after pill in Illinois skewed. Pharmacists are supposed to be trained scientists. A huge part of that is understanding what drugs do to the body and how the body actually works. This is what gets me about the whole "pharmacists' rights" movement - they're apparently willing to completely manufacture a different reproductive system that affords them moral outrage.

It's not just that they're fighting for the right to deny women legal medical treatment - I could understand that from a moral perspective. It's that they're denying women treatment based on ignorance of how the drugs they dispense work. They don't want to do their jobs because they're bad at them.

Technorati Blog Search

I added this tool - in beta - at the right sidebar. But I'm not sure how well it works. For example, in searching This Blog for "Rumsfeld", it brought up a lot of Spanish language blogs. So we'll see.

When it Takes 3 of Florida's "Finest" to Handcuff a 5-Year-Old

From General JC Christian:

Awhile back, I wrote a letter to the First Sibling deploring Florida's coddling of kindergarten criminals. I wrote that letter in response to an incident in which a five year old little girl was handcuffed and arrested by police for throwing a tantrum. To me, it appeared as if Florida had become a bit too touchy-feely. Last year, they would have tasered the tiny delinquent. The child's lawyer recently released a video of the arrest. Although, as a Confederate Christian American, I still think the three white cops should have used a taser, you've got to give them credit for the efficient way in which they captured the dangerous little brown girl. You can watch it here.
Watch the video and you see that it's when the child is seated quietly that they drag her into handcuffs.

Nice work, Jeb!

Some Friends Mr. Frist Has

Also from The Carpetbagger Report:

Bill Frist’s religious-right friends, with whom he’ll be spending time this weekend, have quite a wish list when it comes to the federal judiciary.

Evangelical Christian leaders, who have been working closely with senior Republican lawmakers to place conservative judges in the federal courts, have also been exploring ways to punish sitting jurists and even entire courts viewed as hostile to their cause.

An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times features two of the nation’s most influential evangelical leaders, at a private conference with supporters, laying out strategies to rein in judges, such as stripping funding from their courts in an effort to hinder their work.
Emphasize mine. Luffly.

Rick Santorum: Obsessed Man with a Plan ::cough::

From The Carpetbagger Report, where comments also point out that AccuWeather, based in PA, has contributed heavily to Rick's campaigning:

Sen. Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum has been stranger than usual lately. He exploited the Terri Schiavo controversy to fly to Florida for campaign fundraising, he used a Wal-Mart jet to do it, he threatened to shut down the Senate unless he got his way on Schiavo legislation, he flip-flopped on Amtrak funding, flip-flopped again on the death penalty, and just this week decided he may want to push off the nuclear option after fighting for it for two years. (Maybe his falling poll numbers are affecting his judgment.)

All of this nuttiness aside, Santorum’s decision to go after the National Weather Service has to be right up there among his stranger decisions. (Thanks to AYM for the tip.)

Do you want a seven-day weather forecast for your ZIP code? Or hour-by-hour predictions of the temperature, wind speed, humidity and chance of rain? Or weather data beamed to your cellphone?

That information is available for free from the National Weather Service.

But under a bill pending in the U.S. Senate, it might all disappear.

The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.

Rick? What about the hundred thousand or so you cheated the Pennsylvania school system out of to school your children specially when you and your children were not living in Pennsylvania? They've asked for you to repay them and you have not.

Some Statements from Some of the People Insisting that a Vote to End the Filibuster is a Vote for God

From the good folks at Daily Kos:

    You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist. I can love the people who hold false opinions but I don't have to be nice to them.
    -- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 14, 1991
And from Armando at DKos
Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) continues to snipe at Focus on the Family, Frist's ally in Extremist Sunday. The Senator points out that Focus on the Family board member R. Albert Mohler, Jr said:
    The board member, R. Albert Mohler Jr., said Thursday he stands by the comments he made in March 2000 on the cable news show Larry King Live.
    "I believe that the Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel," Mohler said at the time. "And indeed, I believe that the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office."
Salazar called on James Dobson to repudiate Mohler. Well done Senator Salazar.

For Those of You Wondering About the Colorado Case Where the "Secret Service" Kept 3 Citizens from a Social Security Town Hall Meeting

Also from Skippy International (this time, by Pudentilla):

via the raw story we learn that the secret service has opened an investigation into awol's boys' little stunt of dressing up in government agent drag and booting americans from the "let's destroy social security" rallies the "reds" have been holding.
    colo. lawyer says bush event being probed - a lawyer for three activists removed from one of president bush's town hall events said thursday that the secret service has opened a criminal probe into whether the man who escorted them from the hall was impersonating an agent.the man was dressed in a dark suit and wore an earpiece when he escorted the three from the march 21 event. the secret service has said it has determined the man was not one of its agents, but a staff member with the host committee.
but we told you so, three weeks ago. it's a double-plus ungood felony to pretend to be a fed when you're not according to 18 U.S.C. § 912 (1994) . we presume, however, that the secret service has yet to receive the iokiyar memo. no doubt the identity of the alleged perpetrator will be revealed shortly after the name of the guy/gal who outed valerie plame.

Some Things Write Themselves: Mr. Bush Cancels Earth Day Speech

From Cookie Jill over at the marvelous Skippy (International):

president bush canceled an earth day visit to the great smoky mountains national park on friday because of bad weather.
Perhaps brought on by his "Clear (Black) Skies" policy?

Wow! The Army Top Brass Cleared the Army Top Brass of Any Wrong-Doing in Abu Ghraib!

I feel so relieved. Don't you?

Now pardon me while I see how Arnold Schwarzenegger's investigation into his own misbehavior is going and then audit my own books to say authoritatively that I do everything right.

Say Hello to BadTux the Snarky Penguin

Find BadTux here.

How the Cookie Crumbles


Say Hello to

The Daily Blog with Kelley Bell.

I especially liked her Stress Reduction Kit.

Would Some Kind Soul...

... visit this site and click Search and tell me (Comments is fine) how many days it says it's been since I updated this blog? For days now, every new posting puts my "update" date farther back on Technorati. Other blogs also show 5-6 days without update when the blogs are spanking fresh.

Many thanks in advance.

Waaaay Too Much Contact Hurts Productivity: An Example

Let me give you an example of what I meant in the previous posting.

Early this week, I had one lovely man call my office at a time I'd specified I would be out. He left a voice mail. But instead of leaving it there, he then proceeded to:

  • Send me a follow-up e-mail telling me he had called.

  • Then leave a message on my cell phone (I was out of range so voice mail again picked up) alerting me that he had left the first voice mail and sent e-mail followup. Next, he calls my home number and leaves not one but two messages.

  • Then he gets on one of the instant messaging services to look for me. When he doesn't find me there, he loads up two other messaging services and goes through the process of sending a message to authorize him to contact me directly through the messaging service.

  • (Oh yes, it goes on)Now he calls me again at my office, getting my voice mail, to tell me to authorize him on instant messaging.

  • Next, he copies that first follow-up mail from the first phone call to me at two additional e-mail addresses (ones I don't typically use for work).

  • He does something else for five minutes THEN he text messages my cell phone BEFORE he calls to leave a third office voice mail to say he's text messaged me.

  • Finally, he re-sends the very first e-mail YET AGAIN to EVERY e-mail address for me he could find, as well as goes to one of my Web sites and posts a note through the comment tool. This, he tops off with two more calls to my office voice mail, and one final round of text messages and cell voice mails and e-mail.

And why was he trying to contact me, you ask? Because he wanted to set up a conference call the FOLLOWING WEEK. Just for shits and giggles, I did a time study on how much time it took me to go through all of his schizophrenia-frenzied methods of contact: just over 20 minutes.

And the irony? He is the one who is usually difficult to reach. He won't return a damned call or e-mail until he needs something himself. Nor is this aberrant behavior for him; he frequently does this manic communication flood. No matter how many times I specify when I won't be available (cell service here is spotty), that's when he loves to contact me. And I always contact him immediately after I actually receive a message.

You know what? I think when we talk next week, I'll kindly tell him that the next contract we do together, I'm going to specify a per-contact charge. I'll be a millionaire in a week!

This is a Hoot: Constant Messaging More of a Hit on Worker Productivity than Pot Smoking

I found this study - reported everywhere but I'm linking from CNN - a hoot. I'll tell you why on the other side.

Workers distracted by phone calls, e-mails and text messages suffer a greater loss of IQ than a person smoking marijuana, a British study shows.

The constant interruptions reduce productivity and leave people feeling tired and lethargic, according to a survey carried out by TNS Research and commissioned by Hewlett Packard.

The survey of 1,100 Britons showed:
  • Almost two out three people check their electronic messages out of office hours and when on holiday
    Half of all workers respond to an e-mail within 60 minutes of receiving one
    One in five will break off from a business or social engagement to respond to a message.
    Nine out of 10 people thought colleagues who answered messages during face-to-face meetings were rude, while three out of 10 believed it was not only acceptable, but a sign of diligence and efficiency.

But the mental impact of trying to balance a steady inflow of messages with getting on with normal work took its toll, the UK's Press Association reported.

I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to try to work in a busy office setting stoned simply because I know how little fun it is when I try to write complicated, detailed, technical text on something as lightweight as an antihistamine ('tis the season, as they say).

I've (unfortunately, for the most part) worked in busy office settings where others were under the influence of everything from caffeine overdoses and three-martini lunches up through the full range of heavy-duty prescription painkillers and things like Xanax all the way to sniffing heroin and cocaine. I used to believe that the only thing to make an office less productive than drugs/alcohol was the inter-office romance (now there's a killer!).

Yet my opinion changed with the advent of more work-based e-mail and messaging. I've seen a total nutcake cokehead programmer work better than I've seen lots of people being barraged by constant messaging of any time (phone, e-mail, instant messages, faxes, pages).

Now, I happen to be a great multitasker. The more things I juggle (up to a certain point), the more productive I can be. It's just my nature. I work remotely for publishers and companies across the country and I'm frequently working simultaneously on a wide range of projects. I happen to prefer e-mail for contact over phone, where possible, because it allows me (and them) to go back and reference what was said so there are fewer mistakes/wrong assumptions.

But even with all of that, the fastest way to put my productivity in the toilet isn't my occasional dose of antihistamine (to fight an allergy-originated migraine); it's when somebody decides they want to talk to me and then proceed to use 11 different forms of contact to say, "let's talk."

See the next message for an example.

Fellow Vermonters, MoveOn Wants Your Opinion

MoveOn.org is asking for Vermont voters to offer them feedback on whether they should commit resources to the discussion of a possible run by our single U.S. House Rep. Bernie Sanders to try to capture the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by the retiring Jim Jeffords, now an Independent.

I posted the other day some of my thoughts about this on the day of Jeffords' unfortunate announcement. But while I'm of two minds on losing Bernie in the House (and that damned House needs more Bernies and less Toms and Dennys), I and my partner (that tall, good looking blonde man I live with) told MoveOn we supported their support of Bernie for whatever he decides to do.

Is Bernie perfect? No. But he's even better; Bernie is human.. and human is damned good compared to the "Godly" Frist, DeLay and Bush. Give me a human who tries his or her best over these faith-based fools anyday.

Yea or nay, if you're a Vermonter, take a moment to let MoveOn know your opinion.

[And a thanks to David Sirota who called this to attention. While I already had the MoveOn letter, David's e-mail notice helped me be sure I knew.]

Tom DeLay's "House of Scandal"

Say hello to House of Scandal.org.

Rev. Bob Edgar and the Council of Churches, I Applaud You!

Since I gripe enough about some of the abuses by organized religion, it's only fair that I also post when I find a voice from organized religion going out of his or her way to inject some sanity into the mix. Tonight, my applause is for Rev. Bob Edgar of the Council of Churches who made news today because he told Bill Frist to stop mixing religion and politics with regard to the so-called "nuclear option" to remove the filibuster option in the Senate.

Appearing on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight, Rev. Edgar said what needed to be said, that we must respect the pluralism of America and that it was reprehensible to try to frame the debate on the filibuster - as Frist and DeLay and Santorum and so many other GOPers have - as "an attack against faith". [In fact, I would say Frist's "nuclear option" is an attack against anyone's faith that differs from Frist and DeLay's - and I don't know too many people who find these men especially moral or faithful.]

Edgar went on to call Frist's so-called "Justice Sunday" by the more appropriate "Just Us Sunday", meaning that Mr. Frist and company want everything interpreted through their own religion and their own beliefs without respect to the differences others may strongly believe.

Good for Mr. Edgar. Good for the Council on Churches. And it's damned good for America. We need more people like this, because I think by and large, Americans do overall respect this country's pluralism. Polls show Americans feel the filibuster is a much-needed check-and-balance and recognize that some vocal parts of the GOP - who were happy to use the filibuster for their own sake - are trying to wrest away what little dissent from the hard right still exists. The Bush Administration is an arrogant runaway train on so very much, and with no balance on Capitol Hill, everything is terribly lop-sided.

This isn't just a matter of the Democrats needing the filibuster. America needs the filibuster.

Why the Wendy's-Finger-in-the-Chile-Woman's-a-Whore Story Bothers Me

If the woman charged with trying to bilk Wendy's out of money from Wendy's supposedly "finding" a severed finger in a cup of Wendy's chili, then obviously, I don't have a lot of sympathy for her. So don't post comments that "shut the fuck up because she deserves what she gets", because again, if she's guilty, I agree what she did was heinous. I have zero respect for people who file nuisance suits, let alone for those who file fictitious lawsuits.

But even with that said, let me tell you why this story bothers me. Let me tick them off.

    1) This woman's background was raked through the media (would you want that if you have a legitimate case of a company presenting something so awful to you) even before the case could be investigated. Normal mortals don't have a way to get that kind of attention, but a smart company like Wendy's does. Again, if you legitimate found a severed finger in your chili or your soup, would you want a corporation to destroy you in the press when you don't have a way to respond?
    2) A story about how this woman might have obtained the severed finger (from some wild animal preserve near her home where a woman lost her finger) was played up endlessly in the media to make this woman look just horrible. But it turned out the finger lost was NOT the finger found. But you didn't hear about that second part because it got nowhere near the play. Again, this woman was trashed without her day in court.
    3) The press conference today between the sheriff's county and Wendy's announcing this woman's arrest on two different counts of grand theft (one for asking money from Wendy's when she actually withdrew her lawsuit about two weeks ago and a second on a different case involving a trailer and another Wendy's litigant) was very strange. It was extremely PRO WENDY's (mind you, I like Wendy's and loved those old Dave Thomas commercials but...) and made it very much seem like the sheriff's office was acting as the specific agent of the poor, defenseless, mega corp Wendy's against a woman who doesn't seem especially bright even if she is litigious. Gee, what's wrong with that picture?
That last point bothers me a lot. More and more (although this has always been the case, even before America was founded), we see concrete evidence of police (and yes, even the military, especially when US soldiers are acting in foreign lands) acting not as the fair and just protectors of the people but as corporate security and foot soldiers. But the corps don't pay them; citizens do (remember how little many corporations pay in tax - much, much less percentage wise than we as individuals do).

Intentionally or not, this sheriff's department has pretty much shown that they are there for Wendy's and willing to pull out all the stops to protect Wendy's. But how much concern do you think they might have shown if Wendy's had inadvertently passed a severed finger along in its chili? No one at Wendy's would have been arrested, for example, nor would they have trashed Wendy's publicly and often as they have this woman.

I think we have to be very careful in situations like this. But I also think this is an excellent wake-up call to where the power and protection is being shifted, especially in the Bush years (and yes, I found lots of fault with the Clinton Administration on corporate protection although only to a fraction of what the Bush years have given us).

If you're paying the sheriff, and you actually do find a finger in your chili, or a (hardware)nail in your coffee, or you buy a product that, when used correctly, hurts you because of a fault with the product, doesn't this case indicate that you're going to be turned into a pariah rather than the victim?

Keep Giving 'Em Hell, Harry

The following is from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid(Daschle would never have done this). However, I did some checking on this myself and Reid is right:

    * Bush has consistently put forth nominees that are anti-individual, pro-corporation, and insert their own system or morals in place of drafted law (Priscilla Owens is an excellent example of a nominee that fits ALL three qualities)
    * Even given that, Bush has had a 95% confirmation of his nominees, a phenomenal percentage and MUCH HIGHER than confirmation of Clinton nominees of more moderate judges
    * Cheney said more than a week ago that he was chomping at the bit to kill the filibuster
    * What protection will you have if you come up against one of these pro-corporate, pro-very-own-brand of morals nominee?
    * Some polls indicate that more than 4 out of 5 Americans feel the filibuster must be protected as a vital check-and-balance
Now here's Reid's words and you can see why, after my research, I agree with what he says:
“In the span of three minutes, the vice president managed to reinvent 200 years of Senate history and ignore the fact that Congress has already approved 205 of this administration’s nominees. Apparently, a 95 percent confirmation rate is not enough for this president. He wants it all, even if it means shattering the checks and balances in our government in order to put radical judges on the bench.

“Last week, I met with the president and was encouraged when he told me he would not become involved in Republican efforts to break the Senate rules. Now, it appears he was not being honest, and that the White House is encouraging this raw abuse of power.

For the Record, I am NOT a Democrat

A couple of pieces of mail this week were at least amusing in the amount of "assumptions" made that I'm some frothing-at-the-mouth Democratic Party loyalist who sees nothing wrong with the Democrats.

Actually, I can find enormous fault with the Democratic Party and I've written about several issues here in the past year-and-a-half. But for me, the gravity of faults and schisms among the Republican Party is much heavier. Only part of this can be explained by that party's steady progress to the far right (and those who read semi-regularly know I don't believe every GOP voter is on the far right but the most visible and vocal components of it are indeed well to the right of Ronald Reagan. Even among Republicans, there's little question of this. (The Dems, in the same time period, have become more centrist, moving away from the left into a more centrist area once seen as the hard-and-fast venue of the Republicans.)

But in reality, I have never been a registered Democrat or Republican. While at times, I have supported more Green Party candidates than those of either major party, I've always registered as an Independent. (Why? Because neither party has given me sufficient incentive to align with them.)

The closest I've ever come to strict party affiliation was my passing college-era attendance at Young Republican meetings (try not to think less of me, ok? ::grin::). I've never voted a straight Dem or GOP ticket in my life; instead, I choose the best candidates after much research which is - at least here in Vermont - a mix of GOP, Dem, Green, etc.

I'm actually appalled at anyone who can vote a straight ticket because that strikes me as more about politics than about the right choice. Sure, there might be a time when you genuinely feel all the candidates of a particular party are the best choices, but I doubt this happens frequently for most thinking people.

And there, Dems have a disadvantage. I think the "vote a staight ticket" phenom is much more likely among GOP voters who have been far more indoctrinated into an "us vs. the Godless whore hippies" mentality. But I suspect thinking GOPers like thinking Dems don't practice this.

This is the long way around saying: Stop assuming I'm a Dem or a Dem operative.

Earth Day

It's today. We're about to head off on a walk, garbage bags in tow, to see if we can pick up litter by the side of the road. We've also got some planting to do.

But if you happen to be in a spot where it's not raining, consider doing something earthly after work today or over the weekend. E

very tree on this earth - the live ones, that is - acts as part of the Earth's lungs. So perhaps plant a tree or at least begin thinking about how you might smartly add more trees to your property. Or clean up some litter. Or think about moving from toss-away batteries to rechargeables. Or do some research into solar energy to see if you can incorporate that into your office or home.

Sure, one day of observance isn't going to do a huge lot for Mother Earth. But if we use today as a springboard for increasing education about what may help our environment, it might make a difference.

Ecology doesn't have to be sacrifice. No one's asking you to replace your central plumbing with compost toilets. Just think a bit more and a bit smarter about the ways each of us can reduce the burden on the planet.

For example, many of us spend too much time in our cars. Some of this is unavoidable, but we also get used to just burning gas for rather silly reasons. Combine a couple of trips together and you not only save yourself some expensive gas, but you take a little slice off the smog out there and you're not expending as many rapidly depleting fossil fuels.

Another example is trying to buy more locally. Any time we buy a product made close to home, we're making at least a small difference in the amount of transportation required to deliver our lettuce from California and our berries from Florida. While we don't always have a choice, this is the time of year when more locally grown produce becomes available. Buy a little more of that.

Microsoft, Gays, and an Gay Bias Bill

Pam Spaulding updates the situation I posted about last night and on which John in DC at AmericaBlog has been consistently out in front.

Midnight Snack

What Happens When Dems Run Things

While I'm sure a few will jump to disagree (probably before they bother to look at the record - heh), David Sirota tells us about the effectiveness of the newly Democratic majority in the Montana legislature.

Funny. Here in Vermont since we went similarly, things are beginning to get done, despite a Bush-toadie GOP governor. Health care is at least on the table. Some reigning in of the governor selling off parts of the state to the lowest bidder.

Makes you wonder what might happen if one part of the Bush-Bush Senate-Bush/DeLay House Faith-Based-Because-They-Certainly-Don't-Have Brains Trifecta went to Dems.

Looking at Iraq

Steve Gilliard presents a thoughtful, detailed look at the situation there, then and now. It's well worth your time.


John Cloud Should Be Canned

John Clown.. er Cloud is the "author" of the Ann Coulter piece in Time.

That's all I can say after reading these sickening excuses he's proffered ("It's not my job to be a fact checker" and "this is just more left wing conspiracy", available in a tidy collection at DC Media Girl mostly drawn from the article whose link I posted earlier today.

The Creepy Freepers are enjoying this like mad. But they laugh at children and great grandmothers being executed, so...

A Crime Mr. Bush Would Be Proud Of

A teen faked the theft of his very expensive BMW so he could buy a Bentley.

Bet the president calls him to offer him a job. After all, the president's folks get caught with their hands in someone else's cookie jar all the time and he just smirks it away.

John Bolton Was Running His Own Counter Intelligence Operation

Laura Rozen at War and Piece:

"Bolton was running his own counterintelligence operation." So who is withholding the NSA intercepts from the SFRC committee to date? State or NSA or some other entity? More on this soon. Meantime, someone close to the investigation suggested that the 10 NSA intercepts Bolton demanded he be given with the identity of the redacted US persons revealed is an enormously interesting subject. "Bolton was running his own counterintelligence operation, was using the intelligence to figure out how he can get back at people." That would be against US officials. In the tradition of J. Edgar Hoover. I doubt this is behavior even Republican Senators are going to consider legitimate or tolerable, when they learn the details. Is this not an illegitimate, illegal and highly improper use of US signals intelligence, for a US official to spy on other US officials he doesn't trust? Talk about going behind someone's back!
Lovely man.

Laura has a lot more on Bolton, too. Check here.

Henry Hyde: If He Could Do it Over, He Might Not Have Impeached Clinton

He now says Republicans may have gone after Clinton to retaliate for the impeachment of Richard Nixon.
Perhaps he feels especially when Henry's youthful (at age 41) indiscretion broke up a marriage with children?

Sadly, no. Enlightenment will apparently escape Henry before his death.

Utopia Lost and Found

David Anderson at In Search of Utopia has a nice crew filling in for him while he's doing the business thing (oh, look, he's back now).

Angel from Rogue Angel cross posts some good material between David's and her own blog, including:

    * a letter tribute to Marla Ruzicka, the selfless angel and founder of CIVIC who tried so hard to bring hope as well as an accurate Iraqi civilian body count to the (latest)Iraq War, and
    * some of the latest talented work from the good folks at Zen Comix
    * and a quote from the new Pope I had not read before:
      "There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war.'"
      - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, May 2, 2003.

Ah Sweet Irony, Thy Name is Tom DeLay

From Atrios:

I'm shocked to find out that our majority leader is a big hypocrite. Just shocked. DeLay in 1995:

"The time has come that the American people know exactly what their Representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people, the American people, have a right to know...I say the best disinfectant is full disclosure, not isolation." - U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, 11/16/95

The Carpet Bagger Report Gets a Nod on CNN

Vermont's own "blog locally, inform globally" blog, The Carpetbagger Report, made it into the blog roundup today on CNN - practically the only left of far right blog to do so.

If you haven't discovered them yet, you're missing out. They're a class act.

Here's an example on the issue of Tom DeLay:

Theodore Olson, who was the solicitor general in the Bush administration for over three years, can hardly be described as a liberal lawyer. It was Olson who represented Bush in the infamous Bush v. Gore case at the Supreme Court; it was Olson who wrote anonymous articles for the American Spectator as part of the Arkansas Project, suggesting that he Clintons were guilty of various felonies; and it was Olson who secretly coached Paula Jones’ lawyers before their own appearance at the Supreme Court.
So, when Ted Olson writes an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal denouncing Tom DeLay’s ideas on undermining the federal judiciary, you know it’s not part of some liberal smear-job.
    Calls to investigate judges who have made unpopular decisions are particularly misguided, and if actually pursued, would undermine the independence that is vital to the integrity of judicial systems. If a judge’s decisions are corrupt or tainted, there are lawful recourses (prosecution or impeachment); but congressional interrogations of life-tenured judges, presumably under oath, as to why a particular decision was rendered, would constitute interference with — and intimidation of — the judicial process. And there is no logical stopping point once this power is exercised.

    Which member of Congress, each with his or her own constituency, would ask what questions of which judges about what decisions? Imagine the kinds of questions asked routinely in confirmation or oversight hearings. How can those questions be answered about a pending or decided case? And what if a judge refused to testify and defend his reasoning about a particular decision? Would an impeachment or prosecution for contempt of Congress follow? Either would be unthinkable. Federal judges are highly unlikely to submit to such a demeaning process and, if push came to shove, the public would undoubtedly support the judges.

The President's Budget is a Hoax

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi by way of The Stakeholder:

Democratic Leader:

    "The President's budget is a hoax on the American people. The two issues that dominated the President's State of the Union Address -- Iraq and Social Security -- are nowhere to be found in this budget. We know that the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost billions this year, but those costs are not accounted for in this budget. Independent experts estimate the President's proposal to privatize Social Security will cost trillions in coming decades, but it is not accounted for here.

    "Further, the budget should be a statement of our national values, but this budget is an assault on our values. It is an American value to guarantee our national security, but the President's budget cuts funding for first-responders and forces veterans to pay more for the health care they have earned. It is an American value to promote safe communities, but the President's budget slashes community policing initiatives. It is an American value to promote opportunity, but the President's budget eliminates 48 education initiatives and slashes funding for health care. Finally, it is an American value to promote accountability, but President Bush's budget is deeply and dangerously lacking in fiscal discipline. It does nothing to address the record deficit of $427 billion.

    "The President wants to take credit for the courage to cut programs, yet he does not have the courage to admit his tax cuts for millionaires were a mistake. The cost of making his tax cuts permanent will be $2 trillion in additional debt passed on to future generations. The President's fiscal recklessness is a tax on the future.

Emphasis, of course, is mine.

How Well Do You Know Little Green Footballs

or Late German Fascists (there seems to be some question, in fact)? General JC Christian kindly points us to Dr. Menlo's egg-cellent quiz.

The General - far more manly than I, at least since I bleached my upper lip - scored a 77% while I got a mere 62% (although it's amazing how much LGF resembles writing by Himmler and other good Nazis).

[Ed. note: For those of you unfamiliar with LGF the blog (I don't link to them, fancy that!), this is a group that thinks Ann Coulter is too mellow, Condi Rice and LaShawn Barber too black although they acknowledge both are good Bush whores, and probably would not mind nuclear weapons being used on Mexico to try to lessen the immigrant situation. In other words, they're just as credible as PowerLine, Michelle Malkin, Bill O'Reilly, and dear, dear, dear Ann Coulter.]

The Senate, Ethics, and Tom DeLay's Specialness

Jesselee at The Stakeholder brings us this: The WaPo editorial board "gets it" on the Hastings offer:

    There's no doubt that this is an improvement. The promise of a vote at least demands some accountability from committee members, and the guarantee of three months and potentially more to investigate a complaint is positive. But the setup would still tilt the ethics panel, which after all has not been disposed to hyperactivity, in favor of inaction. If members know that a deadlocked vote will simply end the matter once and for all, they will have less incentive to reach bipartisan accommodation.

    A more fundamental problem is that -- were the Democrats to accept this offer, and they've said they won't -- the panel would be operating, now and in future Congresses, under the flawed rules imposed unilaterally on the Democratic minority. Even if Mr. Hastings's proposal were perfect, it would just amount to an informal and temporary understanding; it wouldn't bind any future chairmen. Ethics chairmen come and go; just ask Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), who was ousted after the committee, under his leadership, repeatedly admonished Mr. DeLay for ethical missteps. That's why it's important to have the right rules in place, and to get them in place the right way.

Iraq: Just Another Day in Paradise

Besides the usual car bombs and yesterday's attempt on outgoing PM Allawi's life, CNN reports this today:

Eleven civilians were killed when a commercial helicopter went down north of the Iraqi capital today, a spokesman for an air charter company said. Six American security workers, three Bulgarian crew members and two Fijian security guards died, said Paul Greenaway, a spokesman for SkyLink, a Canadian-based company that had chartered the craft for work.

More Attempts to Steal Our Government By the Rabid Wrong

From Liberal Oasis:

Freshman Sen. Ken Salazar, who has been trying to position himself as a moderate Dem and describes himself as a “person of faith,” is under attack by Focus On The Family over the nuclear option.

And he’s not taking it sitting down. Scripps Howard reports:
    "I do think that what has happened here is there has been a hijacking of the U.S. Senate by what I call the religious right wing of the country," Salazar told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday.

    He singled out Focus on the Family by name, objecting to full-page newspaper ads the ministry's political arm recently placed, targeting 20 senators in 15 states.

    "I think what has happened is Focus on the Family has been hijacking Christianity and become an appendage of the Republican Party," Salazar said in an interview. "I think it's using Christianity and religion in a very unprincipled way."
Liberal Oasis also gives you a good look at the so-called family-oriented, so-called Christians behind "Justice Sunday".

Texas: Our Hatred of Gays is More Important Than the Loving Nurturing of Parentless Children

CNN's been running this story of Texas' decision to stop homosexuals from becoming foster parents, going so far as to require that any current and active foster parents who are gay must return the children.

The bright man behind the proposal, whose name I did not catch, said such children were far better off in an orphanage than with gays. Again, I'm sure he identifies himself as a good Christian (and as a Christian myself, I am reviled at how many hateful, hurtful people use God as a shield to do their evil).

Homosexuals are people. As humans, they have failings, but not likely failings that are any different than their heterosexual counterpart (I'm straight and I've got a lot of flaws). They love. They want families.

What's the big difference between a straight and a gay parent? Probably far less than most people can imagine. Many children do not grow up in traditional nuclear families today. In fact, many of the children of this country's lawmakers grow up without a father (because the legislature throughout the U.S. is still overwhelmingly male - and white) because these "great men" have walked out on their families.

But this situation is specifically horrific because it not only means to hurt gays - no, these people are willing to use vulnerable, needy children as pawns in their hate. And if they'll use such children, they'll use anything.

South Carolina Lawmaker to Battered Women: Come On, You Love it

Bet he calls himself a wonderful Christian, too.

From Judd at Think Progress:

South Carolina Rep. John Graham Altman killed a bill which would protect the victims of domestic abuse against their batterers. He had this to say for himself:
    “I mean you women want it one way and not another. Women want to punish the men, and I do not understand why women continue to go back around men who abuse them…. tell me what self respecting person is going back around someone who beats them?”
The legislation would have made domestic abuse a felony in South Carolina. (Currently, it’s only a misdemeanor, legally equal to, say, littering or jay-walking.) Domestic abuse is a deadly serious problem in this country. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has received over a million calls for assistance from abused women in the past decade. In fact, statistics show nearly one-third of American women report having been physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.

And Speaking of Crooks and Liars

They bring us this from Think Progress:

George W. Bush, 4/20/05:

If someone doesn’t pay his or her debts the rest of society is left paying for them.

Amount added to the federal debt during the George W. Bush presidency:

    2.2 trillion

Crooks and Liars

If you haven't discovered it yet, Crooks and Liars often posts video of some of the day's timeliest topics, ranging from everything from Bill O'Reilly and the Senate Bolton brouhaha the other day to a very decent blog roundup.

Our ::Cough:: Role Models and Law Makers

The bountiful Bill of Portland, Maine, posting his Cheers and Jeers at Daily Kos, offers us this from an email:

Can you imagine working for a company that has a little more than 500 employees and has the following statistics:

29 have been accused of spousal abuse and 7 have been arrested for fraud.

9 have been accused of writing bad checks and 117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least two businesses. 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit.

3 have done time for assault and 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges.

8 have been arrested for shoplifting. 21 are currently defendants in lawsuits

84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year

Can you guess which organization this is?

It's the 535 members of the United States Congress. The same group of idiots that crank out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line.

The Real Price of Faux News

From William Raspberry's piece appearing in the Houston Chronicle:

The in-your-face right-wing partisanship that marks Fox News Channel's news broadcasts is having two dangerous effects.

The first is that the popularity of the approach — Fox is clobbering its direct competition (CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, etc.) — leads other cable broadcasters to mimic it, which in turn debases the quality of the news available to that segment of the TV audience.

The second, far more dangerous, effect is that it threatens to destroy public confidence in all news.

That last, I admit, is more fear than prediction, but let me tell you what produces that fear. Fox News Channel — though the people who run the operation are at great pains to insist otherwise — is deliberately partisan. It is as though right-wing talk radio has metastasized into cable and assumed a new virulence.

Who is John Cloud and Why is He So Helplessly Deluded?

John Cloud is the author of that puff piece on Ann Coulter in Time that has made so many recoil. The Columbia Journalism Review Daily interviews him about the piece and I was immediately struck by a few things:

    * What qualifications does he have for writing for Time?
    * Comparing the Coulter cover to the Michael Moore cover is specious; Moore was put on the cover because everyone was talking about his work, both favorably and not while Coulter is doing nothing new
    * What planet did Cloud live on that he couldn't do any research whatsoever to prove false any of Coulter's claims? You don't have to be a news junkie to see through her constant veil of lies.

Peak Oil, Global Warming, and the Death of America as We Know it

My partner has been after me for a week to read an article in last week's Seven Days (a Vermont weekly publication) about the above-referenced topics, drawing heavily on information by James Kuntsler and written by Paula Routly.

While I usually dismiss (too) much, this is very frightening and I think it's also very possible. If oil stopped being available tomorrow, our way of life - built on the notion of cheap oil and lots of it - would turn on its head. In it, the author suggests the situation is so close at hand that Mr. Bush may not be able to finish out his second term, suggesting he may be driven from office by the outraged.

I encourage you to at least check it out. How accurate? I don't know. But I think we have to consider at least the possibility this vision is correct. We're feeling some of the currents right now of issues touched on in this article.

To Babbling (David) Brooks: Keep Roe v Wade, Terminate Brooks

David Brooks tries so hard to be a good whore for his party. And as such, he feels obligated to join the chorus of fat old white men who feel they must have more control over a woman's uterus than say... oh, maybe the woman who owns said uterus. (My policy is that if you have to deal with the cramps, bloating, and mood swings, you get to decide what to do with your uterus.)

In The Times, he says:

Unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, politics will never get better.
You see, David feels that conservatives and so-called (and boy do I mean so-called) right to lifers have been alienated by Roe v. Wade and that pain cannot be healed unless and until David Brooks, Denny Hastert, Tom DeLay, George Bush and every other fat older/old white man can tell a woman what to do with her body.

Earth to The Times, you overpay this man.

In Brooks' babbling world view, I believe we're supposed to repeal Brown v. Board of Education and send blacks back into segregated schools because it offends parts of the south. Let's undo the advances in cardiac surgery because it might conflict with some moralist's view of what "end of life" and "God's way" means. Ah, and since some people still hold terrible racist views, it should be OK if some employers - like say, The Times - instituted a policy that says Jews, women, and people of color may not work for them.

I hope Mr. Brooks' won't mind his pink slip. I nean, it's the right way to go according to David: remove the rights of anyone whom someone else deems should not have them.

Perhaps now The Times will hire someone decent. Oh wait, they replaced Safire with an even bigger village idiot (Tierney). Forget that. Perhaps they'll give Ann Coulter a column. Of course, someone else would need to take ownership of her uterus.


"Luck Be a Cookie Tonight...."

Ask not what the fortune cookie gives to you, ask what you can do for the cookie!

The General Writes Friends in High Places

General JC Christian is flexing some of his glorious righteousness to solicit help from God's favorite disciple, Hot Tub Tom DeLay, for a very special problem.

Dear Rep. DeLay,I don't know how closely you watch the California Legislature, but an important battle over moral values is underway there now. Wicked, French-minded legislators have introduced a bill that would provide condoms to convicts. A single man of God, Benjamin Lopez of The Traditional Values Coalition, stands between them and rampant prison immorality. He argues that such a program would lead to a rampage of rogering so furious it'll prompt Jeff Gannon to apply for a California Penal System contract.

The Oklahoma City Bombing Families: Where's Our Big Payout?

Nightline is showing families affected by the OK City bombing 10 years ago, upset that 9-11 families (although hardly all) got big government-funded checks for their losses while the OK families did not. Several of the women argued that people going to work every day for Social Security and the IRS and all deserved more compensation than people whose loved ones died in the Pentagon or WTC.

First, any loss in such senseless violence is awful.

Second, I don't see that being a federal employee makes you some grand being above and beyond the hoi polloi you serve. They're employees like any other employee, except we all py their salaries. The notion that certain members of the public are more valuable than others just doesn't sit too well with me. I don't think you're necessarily a hero if you're sitting in a federal office watching the clock waiting for that great federal retirement plan to kick in.

Third, I didn't agree with buying off the 9-11 families either. We should have helped them, yes, but awarding $3 mill here and $15 mill there seemed a bit obscene. Or perhaps I'm still bitter about one fireman's widow from NY who - after saying that when all her benefits were calculated (including free college tuition for her children and various others) - figured she got about $3.2 million and said she was "ripped off". She should have had the $15 million some families got. Her loss indeed was incalculable. But I compare the $3.2 million she got against the $12K soldiers' families get when a soldier is killed in combat and, given that both lives are priceless, I get that uneasy tickle in the back of my mind that asks if the taxpayers paid for someone's "slightly" guilty conscience on allowing 9-11 to happen.

Fourth, when did every life automatically produce some multimillion dollar payday anyway? I assume all taxpayers again were supposed to pay this? The sense of entitlement some feel just eludes me. For example, I feel terrible that these folks lost their family members just as I feel awful when anyone loses a loved one. As much as I could, I'd be happy to help them out. In fact, I believe I gave as much as I could to both 9-11 and OK City fundraising efforts for families. But why must everyone do that, which is what a tax-paid allotment would mean?

Finally, I found myself wondering how many of the fairly bitter sounding families present in that room tonight, saying they deserved a big allotment, feel it's appropriate that in Iraq, when we take civilian lives, we often tender the families anywhere from $50-$300 which is also supposed to cover the expense of burial and so on. Would they say we overpay the Iraqis? I suspect some would. But for themselves, they're sure they deserve a very large check with a lot more zeroes than $50 offers.

Saddam Bombed Oklahoma City? What Next?

This is sad.

This goes about a million miles past wild-eyed speculation. This is so crazy, Ann Coulter would endorse it.

If Someone Understands Exactly What's Happening in Ecuador

Perhaps you'd be kind enough to explain to the rest of the (blog) class. The more I read about it today, the less I felt like I understood. I kept wondering what the truth was because four different sources had four entirely different spins.

Life: It Is a Choice

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Martin Luther King

The Stuff Heroes Are Made Of (Chewing Tobacco and a Fast Pair of Sneakers)

Michael A. Smith, a reported Vietnam vet, waited in line for 90 minutes at a Jane Fonda book signing so he could spit a mouth full of chewing tobacco at her.

And then? He RAN away.

Hey, I'm not a huge Fonda fan. Never was. As a child watching the Vietnam thing, I thought she went too far (Jane has a history of going too far in a host of different directions).

But what kind of chickenshit coward spits on this woman - nearly 40 years after the fact - and then runs his sorry ass away as fast as he can? (I mean, besides a Bush fan?) If he wants her to take responsibility for what she did (and I understand she does in this book), he might want to start with having some personal responsibility of his own. Yes, he served. Congratulations and thanks. (If I were Ann Coulter, I'd just sneer at Smith and remind everyone not every Vietnam soldier was there because he wanted to be - we had a little thing called the draft then - and she'd imply that makes Vietnam's heroes less heroid; Ann's a sweetheart that way.)

But no "hero" cuts and runs if he's supposedly making a statement about something about which he feels passionate. So I don't think too much of Mr. Smith.

Fonda, however, is a bit classier in this regard. She chose not to file charges. I'm not sure I would have been as gracious.

On a personal note, I think some of the vets might be better served by moving their anger off Fonda, who was a silly sidenote to the war at best, and onto the politicians who made them fight and die for a very questionable pursuit. And with it, perhaps question the many similarities between yesterday's Vietnam and today's Iraq. But Ann Coulter would just tell you to "get over it" if you were talking about George Bush; I'm sure Ann holds Fonda to a different standard.

But since I've brought the Cruella d'Coulter into this, let me add one more - and highly extraneous - thing: Fonda made grievous mistakes because she probably thought she had some enlightenment that the rest of the poor schlepps back home didn't "get"; she administered some really poorly chosen forms of shock therapy and didn't do a damned thing to advance the cause of healthy questioning and skepticism. As a child, lacking the understanding of the whole situation, I didn't like what she did. As an adult, I still don't like it much. I don't expect some vets would easily forgive her. There was a desperate arrogance to Fonda then.

But compare Fonda then with Ann Coulter now, and Fonda comes off as a Girl Scout (albeit a Girl Scout dressed by Roger Vadim). Ann has said and written horribly hateful things against some Vietnam (and other) vets, questioning their injuries, their patriotism, their service and sacrifice. What Coulter does every day and every way to me is far worse than what Fonda did back then. Ann LOVES to see your wife and husband, your son and daughter, go off to war because you're poor and you don't mean anything and neither do your loved ones. Fonda, I suspect, wanted the war to end so we'd stop having lives on either side ended with such callous abandon and based on outright lies. By comparison, Coulter speaks nothing but outright lies, as loudly, vituperously and as "seriously sex kittenishly dressed" as Ms. Morals can push it. One's a sin of showboating celebrity while the other is something close to a text book definition of crashness and evil.

[Ed. note: Damn you! I haven't eaten all day. I was just about to do so when you just had to bring up the Wicked Witch of the Wrongly Rabid. I can't eat now.]

[Author's Note: It's called the Coulter Diet (yes, I coined it) which, combined with 8 gallons of Koolaid a day, is part of a smart weight loss plan). Just a sentence of Coulter a day helps you shed unwanted pounds, including cellulite, brain cells AND your immortal soul.]

Did Microsoft Quietly Withdraw Gay Equality Support?

I don't know the answer. But John at AmericaBlog presents us with this information:

Microsoft Corporation pulled its support for a gay rights bill in Washington state last month after complaints from a single radical right anti-gay leader, according to an article just published in the Seattle paper, The Stranger (the article is on the news stands already, online Thursday).

My sources in Washington state tell me that the vote on the bill, expected in two days (Friday), is SO CLOSE that Microsoft's actions may be pivotal in KILLING THE PRO-GAY LEGISLATION.

The radical right activist reportedly told Microsoft it had better pull its support for the gays or anti-gay bigots would launch a nationwide boycott of Microsoft, and guess what - Microsoft caved. A single anti-gay jerk, and Microsoft chose to reverse over ten years of policy and bash gays.
I personally hope this is wrong; I have frequently worked with Microsoft and within the realms in which I've worked, I've found them very comfortable with diversity.

If it is true, I'm hoping that having some light shed may change their position.

Another Point on Which We Cannot Let Ourselves Be Fooled

The Republican chairman of the House ethics committee offered on Wednesday to begin an investigation of Majority Leader Tom DeLay to end a stalemate that has kept the panel from functioning this year.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Washington, made the proposal at a news conference flanked by three of the four other Republicans on the ethics panel. The evenly divided committee also has five Democrats.

Senior committee Democrat Alan Mollohan of West Virginia quickly rejected the offer, saying his party would continue blocking the panel from operating unless investigative rules imposed by Republicans were changed.
Just having an ethics investigation into Tom DeLay means nothing. We've had them before. All that happens is that Tom lights a cigar and goes off on another inappropriate taxpayer- or lobbyist-paid junket so he can play $80-$100K worth of golf (that's SOME putter!).

DeLay used his power to strip the Ethics Committee of any ability to act upon him. Now that all the teeth have been removed from the committee, he's inviting them to bite and smirking at us while he does.

Yes, boys and girls, we DO need to start paying attention to the men behind the curtains because they're doing amazingly bad shit back there and we're paying for it in more ways thatn just through checks to the IRS.

The Multiple Car Pileup Known as Tom DeLay

Since I notice many are coming in today looking for information on Tom DeLay's new threats, this time targeted directly at Supreme Court Associate Justice Kennedy (not exactly a wild-eyed liberal, that Justice), note as you research that the more Tom speaks, the more he:

    * displays a strange lack of understanding of the very law Congress creates and acts upon
    * conflicts his own statements ("Don't be an activist judge" and "be MY KIND of activist judge")
    * often seems to suggest new law (law that probably a majority of Americans might not like to see passed)
    * sees the judiciary not as a separate branch but as something completely under his thumb and subject to his whims
    * believes threats are the best way to proceed
At this point, I'll take my chances with the judiciary over someone like Tom. For too long, our courts have become places where people like Tom decide to mete out their own unique form of justice (and we've seen how well Tom responds to any question of his words and activities).

The Mandatory Minimum drug sentences are an example of that. These remarkably give us NO protection from the bigwigs who are responsible for the most product being distributed but lock up minimal people including those growing small amounts of marijuana for personal medical use for 10-20 years. We're spending an ENORMOUS amount of money on prisons for these minor players while the kingpins can trade and buy their way out of jail. We've handcuffed judges so they cannot say "this 87-year-old woman growing pot to relieve the symptoms of her grown son's multiple sclerosis" doesn't deserve the same 10- or 20-year sentence that some idiot who runs an active meth lab and distributes to thousands of people should get.

I don't know about you, but I think we're under more risk from a drug kingpin than from some dope who passes a joint to a friend (and Congress has a new law in discussion that brings a long prison sentence to anyone simply passing a joint - even if they didn't toke on that joint and that joint is not theirs).

But this isn't about drugs. The drug laws are just an example of how men like DeLay - who clearly enjoy and even make the taxpayers fund their own vices - use the courts to enforce their own brand of morality. Having seen Tom's morals thus far, I'm not sure he's a good choice to decide for everyone else. Take the morals out, and we're still paying a terrible price by having out-of-control prisons and incredibly expensive prison costs considering we tend to serve them bad food and subject prisoners to rape and torture at the hands of other prisoners.

Yet I stand by what I've said: Tom DeLay's corruption now has spread throughout the GOP and likely has infected some Dems and what few Independents there are as well. So keep Tom in plain sight as the notorious leader of the GOP House; forcing him out without adequate legal process just drives this snake into the high grass where he can strike at you on the sly.

Connecticut Governor Just Signed Same Sex Civil Union Bill

No doubt, we'll hear more about this latter today. Even less doubt: I'm sure Rick Santorum will be on presenting his fear that this opens everything up to men and dogs having intercourse while Bill O'Reilly will raise the spectacle of goats entering into holy matrimony.

I don't know. I've lived in a state that allows civil unions among same sex couples for more than four years and really, we don't seem to see a lot of bestiality. At least, the local paper doesn't mention this as a big problem.

We did have a guy with goats who felt the goats should live inside his house with him but to my knowledge, he was merely friends and caretaker to the goats and not living in a polygamous relationship with them. I suspect bestiality occurs more in the minds of men like Santorum and O'Reilly than in the reality of most everyone else. This might tell you something about their minds. (Well, that, and O'Reilly's documented "kinkiness" with loofahs and falafels and "marital aids". Hint to Bill: maybe you should use the marital aids within your own marriage to limit your liability with single women working around you.)

One Less Fascist at the Helm?

Italy's Berlusconi (a name that seems to be synonymous with both scandal and - for too many Italians - the Bush Administration) has resigned.

What's interesting (and not in a good way) is that CNN is making this sound like no big whoop, giving far more attention to the latest stain-that-looks-like-the-Virgin-Mary.

50 Bodies Pulled from Tigris River in Iraq

Terrible stuff. From CNN:

Iraqis made two grisly discoveries today -- more than 50 bodies in the Tigris River and 20 Iraqi soldiers shot to death west of Baghdad, officials said. The soldiers were abducted and killed in a soccer stadium, a defense ministry official said.
So how exactly will we keep Iraqi police and military alive long enough to take over our reigns?

And yes, it's our problem because by invading and occupying we made it our problem.

Jumpin' Jim Jeffords to Retire

David Sirota beat me on news in my home state: in fact, I still haven't seen it elsewhere since his post. I'm also unhappy to hear that Jeffords will retire.

David, however, sees a silver lining that did not occur to me when I first began mourning the headline. Specifically:

With the announcement this morning that U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) is retiring, a hugely-important open seat Senate race will now take place in Vermont in 2006. Though I worked for Vermont Rep. Bernie Sanders a few years ago, and though he's indicated in the past he would be interested in running for the seat, he has yet to announce. That said, he is clearly the best positioned to keep this seat in the hands of the Democrats - and that means people should go to www.bernie.org and urge him to run:

POLL: SANDERS THE MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN IN VERMONT: On May 5, 2004, WCAX Vermont reported "58-percent of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of Sanders, making him the most popular politician in the state." [Source: WCAX TV, 5/5/04]

IN 2004, SANDERS RECEIVED MORE THAN 200,000 VOTES: In the 2004 election, Sanders trounced his Republican opponent with 68 percent of the vote – or 201,000 votes. That was the most of any politician running in Vermont, including Gov. Jim Douglas. [Source: CBS News election results]
There's a lot more. I encourage you to read it just for your own information. Vermont, tiny as it is, does make a difference in the national arena, and I actually think that we're fairly well represented here, Jeffords (yes, even when he was GOP) included. (I know: how often do you get to say that you feel you've got reasonably decent politicians? In Vermont, we have been blessed with that although it's not divine intervention but careful voting.)

But as much as I think Sanders would be a first-rate Senator and would probably prefer his method of voting to Jeffords, there is a) still a loss involved with Jeffords' retirement b) Vermont has a single US House Rep held for some time by Bernie Sanders who is neither Dem nor Rep c) I think b has helped us just as Jeffords going from GOP to Independent helped us and d) I don't want to see the House Rep's seat fall to the usual suspects in the Dems or Reps (Vermont, if my research is correct, is more I than D or R).

Personally, I'm going to need to absorb this news. I'm definitely not thrilled (although I can understand the reluctance considering the level of nastiness tossed at Jim since his May 2001 switch and already announced by the Vermont GOP as it sought outside money - like Tom DeLay money - to hurt Jim). Each state should largely be free of another state's pressure and politics and for the GOP to go outside Vermont looking for big money donations made me sick. And yes, I would have had the same reaction if Dems went outside the state to seek money.

[Ed. note: BTW, if you're not a regular Sirota reader, you may want to reconsider. David often presents a very reasonable, intelligent analysis of politics. Since I keep my blogging separate from my journalism (I haven't written about politics as a journalist for some time), what you get from someone like me is more "shot from the hip" analysis and links so you can get informed and decide for yourself. David and people like Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo offer a big step above that. If you don't have time to read his blog regularly, consider his E-mail alert.]

The President's "Rush" on the Energy Bill: Same Energy Turkey Cooked by Enron and Company

Suddenly, the president remembered the controversial energy policy that Dick Cheney (now talk about a fox guarding the chicken coop) had worked out with Ken Lay (you remember Ken Lay, right? The Enron exec who hasn't done a lick of jail after bankrupting lots of people about to retire although the world has been made safe from the Doyenne of Croissants, Martha Stewart) and other big energy/fuel companies that blew into quite a brouhaha because it was discovered that Enron and company basically cooked up an energy scheme that would hurt consumers and smaller businesses. The scandal wasn't that a Ken Lay and company would want to cook up such a policy but that the "president" of the people had allowed it. Remember, these same companies and the people in them helped put Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney in office with MASSIVE donations.

Then there was the controversy that Cheney wasn't going to allow anyone to see who actually cooked up the formula that unquestionably will screw us right into a light socket (heh). We still haven't seen those papers and it's unlikely we will.

But during the election cycle, Karl Rove decided to shelve this sucker for a bit. But now the election is over, we're stuck with four more awful years, and suddenly, the president Saturday started talking about his energy policy again. Then Monday, Mr. Bush (who doesn't read newspapers or watch TV or use any of the Internets (smirk)) noticed fuel prices were high. You know, the same thing you noticed a few years ago... and then noticed how much higher they got after we went into Iraq when this Administration made it clear without saying it out loud that ::wink::wink:: we'd have low fuel prices after we liberated Iraq from their oil fields.

Don't be fooled. This is the same energy policy that Dick Cheney and Ken Lay laid out while Enron was deliberately jerking California's power availability - and then laughing about all the stupid old retirees suddenly paying $500 a month for lights that we heard documented ad nauseum in Enron tapes.

We know how Enron felt about consumers and energy in the Summer of 2001. And that's the time frame in which this energy policy was drafted.

Can you even begin to comprehend how bad it will be for us if this turkey gets served up? It doesn't matter which side of the political spectrum you're on because you really CAN'T fail to notice that whenever Ma and Pa America's interests come up against an Enron, a Unocal, or a Halliburton, Ma and Pa get schtupped in a way not supposedly condone by most Southern states (ah, that Sodomy word).

Start saying NO to this president. Start calling your Congress critters, calling OTHER state's Congress critters and telling them we need an energy policy that a) is realistic for consumers but b) also begins to address that fossil fuels won't be around all that much longer (dinosaurs haven't died lately as we can see from Rumsfeld's continued tenure at DoD).

No politician who has America's best interests in mind should be promoting ANYTHING which fails to take into account that we're beginning to run out of fossil fuels at a time when world wide demand has never been higher. Building bigger SUVs and increasing coal burning isn't really going to help that, and that's what the Bush Admin has offered us so far (and with a Capitol Hill chuck full of people who worked in the energy industry BEFORE Mr. Bush took office and will go back to that industry when the Bush Administration is over.

Look at the gas prices, look at your home heating/cooling costs and ask yourself if you're willing to just let Mr. Bush fly this turkey. The answer should be no.

Our President Loves a Pope Who Fights Dirty

German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican theologian who was elected Pope Benedict XVI, intervened in the 2004 US election campaign ordering bishops to deny communion to abortion rights supporters including presidential candidate John Kerry.

In a June 2004 letter to US bishops enunciating principles of worthiness for communion recipients, Ratzinger specified that strong and open supporters of abortion should be denied the Catholic sacrament, for being guilty of a "grave sin."

He specifically mentioned "the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws," a reference widely understood to mean Democratic candidate Kerry, a Catholic who has defended abortion rights.
Well, now it's even easier to understand why Mr. Bush - who doesn't seem to care much for Catholics or other living things - was so full of praise for the new Pope: Ratzinger is the one who ordered that John Kerry should not be given communion for his "pro-choice" views.

Would this were fairly meted out would be one thing. But when was the last time you heard that Rudy Giuliani or other pro-choice Republican Catholics were refused? Unlike John Kerry's at least public record, Giuliani has twice cheated on his wives within the "sanctity" of marriage.

Ratzinger - no, I will not call him Benedict the 16th for now - deliberately and arbitrarily intervened in a U.S. presidential election. Period. End of sentence.

Break 'Em if You Got 'Em

Your cookie, of course.


Taking Donations: Bloggers Against Cat Blogging

Who knew this was such a problem? But I respect Karlo so if he tells me that it is, I believe him. I'll go cash in cans and bottles tomorrow so I can donate.

BAC (Bloggers Against Cat-blogging) is Back. This anti-catblogging lobbying group has decided to re-form in response to the re-emergence of cat-blogging throughout the internets. In order to protect sensitive political bloggers from the horrors of cats blogging, BAC will be posting cat-blogging alerts.

The highest alert--code redcat--will be reserved exclusively for emergency situations when cats have over-run the internets and have taken over entire swaths of otherwise rational web content. If you see the red cat, you are to immediately ducktape your computer screen, dive into the corner of your room, and assume the cobra yoga position as you chant BAAAAAC with each out-breath. The following list of blogs will be quarantined indefinitely until the Department of Feline Security has had an opportunity to pepper spray the cyberspace behind their modems and scrub the hard-drives free of any stray frrrballs.


At Ease, Adot's notblog, Trish Wilson's Blog, Progressive Protestant, Rob's Blog, Lab Kat, Dohiyi Mir, and Three-toed Sloth. If you want to do more to rid the blogosphere of catblogging, please send your money to Karlo at Swerve Left. He will put it to good use trying to rid the internet of the infiltrating felines.
When I've had a cat, such cats have refused to blog. It's just not their thing because it takes the human's mind off feeding them or watching them playing Indiana Jones as they dig in the litter box.

My dog, OTOH, does not object to blogging because he's jealous of the diversion. Instead, Ben refuses to blog because he knows I sometimes use colorful language and make really awful faces while doing so. Ben has an ardent distaste for anything that isn't calmly pursued.

Tom? Don't Make God Swear Out a Restraining Order on You for Harassment

Tom DeLay says today this whole trouble of his (not that it's his, mind you - he'll tell you this is all done by Godless whore evil doers) has brought him closer to God.

God, in response, would not comment publicly but was noted to be moving as faaaaaaarrrr away from the bugman as He could (God had a bad day, between DeLay and the new Pope who doesn't like a lot of His people).

Asbestos Bill

Arlen "Magic Bullet Theory" Specter introduced this "streamlined" Asbestos compensation bill with support from Patrick Leahy, the ranking Dem on the Senate Judiary Committee. But notice that it takes away the damaged parties' ability to sue.

Condi Calling Putin Drunk with Power is a Little Amusing, Don't You Think?

The president's other wife ... er... Secretary of Stiff Condoliezalotta Rice is over in Russia calling the kettle black.... uh... warning Russian president Vladimir Putin that naked abuse of power is only a miraculous directive granted her husband by God himselfisn't a good thing.

Bush: Worried About Energy Prices

Now he's worried?

Not until just now?

Has the president been napping for the last five years but in an especially deep coma for the last few months?

No, don't answer that. I know.

Question: With DeLay (Also) Going After Conservative-Appointed Supreme Assoc Justice Kennedy, Won't Kennedy Rise in Public Estimation?

Story here:

Conservatives have been pushing to get the Senate to confirm President Bush's most conservative judicial nominees, which Senate Democrats are blocking. The House has no power over which judges are given lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

However, DeLay has called repeatedly for the House to find a way to hold the federal judiciary accountable for its decisions. "The judiciary has become so activist and so isolated from the American people that it's our job to do that," DeLay said.

One way would be for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the clause in the Constitution that says "judges can serve as long as they serve with good behavior," he said. "We want to define what good behavior means. And that's where you have to start."
Tom's definition of good behavior" is sure one to watch for.

One Good Note: Henry Hyde is Retiring from the House of Reprehensibles

From TalkLeft:

Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL) announced Monday on his 81st birthday that he will not seek reelection. Rep. Hyde has served in the House for more than three decades.

Hyde was an unrelenting opponent of abortion. But, he did some good stuff too. He was the driving force behind civil asset forfeiture reform. Here are his congressional remarks from 2000 when CAFRA, the reform bill, passed.

Unfortunately, he will also be remembered for his "youthful indiscretion" that came to light following the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.

On a related note, one of the best series of news articles on the law enforcement abuses in the asset forfeiture area is this one, Taking Cash into Custody, from the 1999 Kansas City Star, still available free online.
I want his House pension withheld for all the lying and obfuscation he created during the Clinton years. I do NOT want my tax dollars going to pay this priss-dressed bit of pond scum.

Mother of Michael Jackson's Accuser Deserves Top Federal Post

She fabricates and spins so fast while pouring money into a boob job and other accoutrements for herself so fast that I have NO doubt that Mr. Bush or Mr. Rove will be calling her later this week to offer her a top admin post.

Maybe make her head of the Ministry of Truth As We See It?

New Nutrition Pyramid from the Bushophiles Explained

Any questions?

Iraqi Lawmakers Demand Apology from the U.S.

It couldn't be anything Rumsfeld said when he was over telling them how to run a democracy, would it?

Oops, no. But almost as "good".

On a Frivolous Side Note

Your Linguistic Profile:

45% General American English

35% Yankee

15% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

0% Midwestern

I have NO idea where the 15% Dixie comes in since I venture out of New England as rarely as possible. Those who know me say I sound "without accent" or sound like a product of being reared between Manhattan and Boston (which I was). I do not, however, pahhhhk my cahhhhhr.

The New Pope: Called the Priest Sex Abuse Scandal a Creation of the Media and Said Gays Bring Violence Upon Themselves

I find myself heartily depressed tonight and at its core, in part, I believe is that the Catholic Church had an opportunity today and squandered it terribly. It fought for its limitations and elected them today.

Blah3 Gives Us a Hint About the Contest Over John Bolton Today

So a citizen blogger - Stranger at Blah3 - gives us a better view of what was going on in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today than the media (all agog in their effort to "up" each other in heralding in the new Pope) managed to do.

I say this because I've seen watching the recorded events on CSPAN2 after catching Stranger's post:

From what I can gather, Dick Lugar is pushing for a vote right away. He is meeting some resistance - John Kerry is pushing for airing of more allegations of Bolton's bullying, and George Voinovich (R-OH) has already gone on the record as saying he'll vote against Bolton.

Pretty fascinating stuff. Bolton may be in more trouble than anyone has let on to this point. I don't know if the Democrats will be able to stop the nomination, but they are most definitely kicking up some dust here.

Extreme Evangelicals: Why Isn't Bush Spending All His Time Promoting Hatred and Division?

My heart bleeds. It really does. Well, no, not really. While I appreciate there are still people troubled by the idea of "sanctioning" homosexuality, it strikes me as insincere and an effort to make fear and hate dominate the dialog. Evangelicals have much greater concerns than whether gays can marry.

From Bloomberg with a link provided by the ever-industrious Buzzflash:

Phil Burress, who helped President George W. Bush win the battleground state of Ohio last November by leading the charge among religious groups to pass a gay- marriage ban, isn't pleased with the president's focus on Social Security.

``How come he's not stumping across America defending marriage?'' said Burress, 63, an evangelical Christian and president of Citizens for Community Values in Ohio. ``Marriage is a whole lot more important than Social Security.''

Burress's dissatisfaction illustrates one of the hurdles Bush confronts by putting at the top of his second-term agenda the effort to overhaul the Social Security program and let younger workers invest their payroll taxes in private accounts.

Voters who identify themselves as conservative Christians were a crucial part of the coalition that gave Bush a second term and Republicans a bigger majority in Congress. Some evangelical leaders, though not all, now express dismay with both Bush's priorities and his Social Security proposal, which they say could hurt their predominantly working class constituency.

``We're wising up to the fact that we're very important nine months before an election and we're not very important nine days after that election,'' said Don Wildmon, 67, an ordained minister who is chairman of the American Family Association in Tupelo, Mississippi.

There is ``a lot of disappointment'' among those who voted for Bush expecting him to make his primary focus in a second term a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and other social values issues, Wildmon said.

Thru the Looking Glass of Ms. Mad

Idyllopus Press brings us a unique take on the Ann Coulter-Time debacle. It's about the closest I've ever gotten to smiling when the topic is The Grand Doyenne of Hate and Shrill.

New home starts WAY down

That's what CNN and MSNBC are saying right now. So much for "the encouraging indicators" the financial folks were looking for in reports due this week.

Any Doubt They'll Push Through John Bolton at the U.N.?

None here.

He's a disastrous choice but so has every other candidate Mr. Bush puts forward.

Cost of War Counter Revisited

Since I see my blog more often than you do, it's easy for me to be aghast at how damned quickly the Cost of Iraq war counter at the right climbs ever upward.

And that's just Iraq. And just the expenditures the Pentagon releases.

And that's without proper armor for all our troops, the many times where our troops have no bullets, and without the damage we're doing to Iraq that will need to be rebuilt.

Minuteman Mania?

From CNN:

TUCSON, Arizona (AP) -- The chief organizer of the Minuteman Project, which attracted hundreds of volunteers to watch for illegal immigrants and smugglers along the Mexican border, said Monday he's leaving his post early.

Jim Gilchrist said the watch project has been a success and will continue through the end of the month as planned, but under a different name.

"The operation is continuing, but it's not under the Minuteman Project," Gilchrist said. "There's nothing for us to do here. We're bored to death. But people are staying here."

A Pope of Warmth, Compassion, Enlightenment and Longevity?

Let's see: going on 79 years old, former Hitler Youth Movement member, and called "the Enforcer". Apparently, this Pope has been fallible in the past.

As someone with ties to the church, I am deeply saddened.

How nice it would have been to see a Pope of color (since the overwhelming number of Catholics in the world are people of color themselves), one with a kinder heart rather than a bigger PR vehicle, one not so entrenched in all the gold and pomp of the Vatican but more knowledgeable of life as lived by real Catholics, perhaps even one who wasn't even a cardinal (the Catholic Church has in its histories Popes who were neither cardinal nor priest) and didn't have a record of thinking the only problem with the American church abuse scandal was that the parishioners got pissy about it.

But people of course have the right to argue for their limitations and to claim that a man most fallible is instead infallible. And they won't bring a single person into the Church with him either.

Personally, I think Catholics deserved better. Even among the listed contenders, I feel there were better choices. And I don't think a group of cardinals most of whom were too old to know life today is the best selection body. And the ultimate irony: this man probably will not sit long as Pope. Sure, the age 78 of today isn't the age 78 of even 30 years ago, but cardinals tend to live a rarified life of more fine dining than exercise, more contact with gold iconery than parishioners.