Blog is Back; Comments (For No Apparent Reason) Are Not

Sorry about that.

Vermont Race to Replace Retiring Jim Jeffords Heating Up

According to David Sirota, although the Bushies pushed and pushed current GOP Governor Jim Douglas to run for the opening seat, which they say will flood out-of-state money into the race, Douglas has declined. On a sadder note, Lt Gov Brian Dubie - someone I doubt I would trust with my trash - is planning to run as well.

I'd Ask if Anyone Else is Having Trouble...

accessing the blog tonight but.. however could I read your responses even if you see the question? Oooooh, life's a pickle, and not a particularly good one (I'm a crispy sour dill fan myself).

The Runaway Bride

First, could you believe that with as much violence going on in Iraq, which included the deaths of at least four American soldiers, all CNN could talk about for a few days but especially today was the classy little runaway bride who let hundreds of volunteers and paid personnel search for her night and day for days only to turn around and lie that she was abducted?

People do have a right to walk away from a situation. But this little cupcake wouldn't even walk through the airport without a blanket over her head. I'm sure ALL 16 of her bridesmaids (a tad extravagant?) are really proud to be her friend. Then her minister asks us to pray for her. Nah, I'll pray for her fiance whose life was turned around or all the people who needed help who were cast aside because this woman decided to play games. This woman needs a big kick in the ass and perhaps be forced to work for the rest of her life to pay off all the expense of this wedding (I understand the cost was running around $60K, big money for someone who's a med asst).

You know, if only the Atlanta metro area had responded to all those missing black children in the late 1970s we wouldn't have had so many dead kids there before anyone began to notice. But the state of Georgia in this case certainly was enormously concerned about a dipshit white woman who, at 32, shouldn't have caused this fuss.

Civil Discourse

In my light traveling (all by modem) today, I found normal conversations again and again disrupted by people who insisted on coming into the mix to call people names, tell them to shut up, and basically insist that anyone who doesn't agree with Mr. Bush doesn't have the right to exist. One notable instance of this was over at the Political Animal blog at Washington Monthly in response to Kevin Drum's post saying The Times' John Tierney doesn't get it.



(Yes, I know I seem to cough frequently for someone a) without a cold and b) who hasn't smoked since July 2003.)

So What Was Your Take on the Newest Havoc Bush Wants to Wreak (Wreck?) on Social Security?

Turning it just into a welfare system is another way to kill it off. He's good at that. Look at public schooling, for example.

Uh... I don't know where the right side of my blog went.

I wasn't even experimenting.

Like the rest of my life, it seems to be on the missing list. ::cough::


Schwarzenegger and Immigrant Bashing

Did The Arnold forget to take his meds? Now he's praising The Premature Ejaculants Minutemen, a group considered so rabid and controversial that even Bush has pussy-footed around supporting them. This, on the heels of announcing we should close the borders to brown people only to have Arnold say it was a mistake of "language" and that he did not mean it.

Arnold has a tremendous amount of glass in his house to be tossing so many stones. It's been pretty much accepted that the Arnold broke U.S. immigration law in the way in which he first came to this country and stayed. Now he wants to be president and wants the U.S. Constitution amended just for him when he has said he will NOT give up his dual citizenship (American and Austrian).

While I happen to feel that the U.S. has changed a great deal and that we should not necessarily prevent someone who happened, by way of birth, to be born outside the U.S., I do question whether you can represent the U.S. interests best if you feel you must preserve your citizenship in another country (so one must choose).

Is this just desperation on Arnold's part? To try to appeal to the more rabid right who feel strongly that once their own families got admittance to the U.S., the borders should be closed? It's hard to understand that dramatic a shift or how many times Arnold seems to bounce around in his stated opinions. It also seems hard to understand how he can do this when his state has a very large percentage of people who came here and chose to become residents and voters. Can you get elected to office in California if the only ones who will vote for you tend to be more racist in their political philosophy? I mean, without the help of Diebold, et al?

A Point of Clarification About the Post on Blair's Plane, Et Al

Since I posted quickly this morning, I've been meaning to get back here to add a few words about that note and why I bothered to share it. As I mentioned in a comment to Daniel, it came to me through a source who usually is not a conspiracy theorist.

Yet it's not so much the actual content of the post and the site behind it that interests me. It's more a question of why this so-called "intelligence" is out there and the damage that could be done if it's a) not true (and I see no evidence it is true) and b) people believe it. I threw it out there hoping to get some response or whether anyone had heard anything like this elsewhere.

Yes, there are people who make their life's work blaming Israel for every nasty thing that comes down the pike. In truth, Israel does have some really questionable actions in its past in terms of their elite spy/hit squad and what they've done with it which has helped fuel speculation that they're responsible for far more. Every wild myth usually has a percentage point or two of truth so its perpetuators can say, "Well, remember what they did back in [insert the year] when they [insert the deed]?"

But none of this story makes sense to me. I still don't see who's served by this story. But I can see where it would generate a good deal of fear and harm.

Remember the Other Day When the Prez Was Hurried to a Bunker?

And we were told it was a "goof"?

Well, I'm going to copy some material here from this site, but I cannot begin to say what it means or how accurate it is. I'm deeply concerned, so much so that my first response is to simply dismiss this as nuts. But what if it's not?

Russian Intelligence Agencies are circulating reports today showing increasing concerns that the secret war being conducted by the United States against Israel may indeed be about to break into open hostility, and as we’ve previously reported about in our April 22nd report titled "United States Declares Secret War against Israel over Attempt to Collapse World Economy, New Zealand Prime Minister Targeted".

Increasing these concerns was the targeting of the British Prime Ministers airplane over the skies of London this past Wednesday by members of the Israeli Mossad acting under the orders of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, and as we can read as reported by the BBC News Service in their article titled "Lightning strikes Blair's plane" and which says, “Mr. Allen said he heard a loud bang but the prime minister, who was talking to a journalist at the time, was apparently "imperturbable".”The rest of us certainly weren't imperturbable," Mr. Allen said. "All I remember was a red and white flash just in my mind which woke me up with a start," he said. "The plane wobbled from side to side but it was also quite rough anyway because it was pretty cloudy and rainy. Lots of people looked momentarily shocked."

Such was the fear of the United States towards this attack against the British Prime Minister that the Americans upon learning of it rushed both their President and Vice President to protective bunkers, and as we can read as reported by the Reuters News Service in their article titled "Bush Taken to Bunker After Airspace Scare" and which says, "President Bush was hustled into an underground shelter on Wednesday amid fears an aircraft had entered the restricted airspace around the White House, officials said. The Secret Service determined minutes later that it was a false alarm. Vice President Dick Cheney also was moved to a secure location as heavily armed Secret Service agents cleared the area in front of the presidential mansion."

Zell Miller Rushed to Hospital

Where medical personnel have determined that the former, unhinged (not formerly unhinged since he's still actively unhinged) senator is suffering from diabetes from drinking too much koolaid and from oxygen deprivation from having his nose buried so far up the president's anus.

Asked if this condition might present permanent brain damage, a doctor responded, "How could we possibly tell?"

There are unconfirmed reports that the only one who possibly cares, Chris Matthews of MSNBC, is flying down tonight to try to help Miller through his crisis by endlessly repeating the tape of Miller challenging him to a duel.

Yes, this is the same videotape Matthews repeats on his own show at least 10 times a week and is rumored to masturbate to whenever his wife hides the Time Magazine cover with Ann Coulter or his copy of the 2005 Conservative Babes calendar showing Coulter (Ms. January because she's so damned frigid), Malkin (Ms. February because she resembles a ground hog), Monica Crowley (Ms. November because she's definitely past her peak ripeness), and Bill O'Reilly in drag as Mrs. Sexy Santa showing what a gift a loofah can be.


IF You Want Some Good Analysis of Tonight's Press Conference

Go read Think Progress.

Tim Russert Says

It's clear this president is very worried about Social Security solvency and high energy prices.

Yeah, right.

This Primetime Press Conference is a Farce

No tough questions (that I've heard and I walked about for about 10 minutes) and no followup questions. But it's nice to know that the president is "very worried" about making sure rich people get bigger tax cuts, about making sure "little people" pay all their taxes, and feels the American public LOVES the No Child Left In Public School Behind Act, bankruptcy protection for the big banks, and making sure we get an energy bill to benefit companies like Exxon and BP that are posting record earnings.

While You Listen to the President's Happy Horseshit Tonight

Take a moment to look on the net to see how very well Exxon, BP, and other gas/energy companies are doing right now. Profits are WAAAAAY up.

Then remember the president's little stroll through the Texas bluebells with the Saud prince.

Then remember that Bush and Cheney are men from that industry.

Finally, remember how much you paid last time at the gas pump.

White House and Secret Service Know and Won't Tell

What a news flash, right?

This regards the Colorado situation in which three people with passes to attend one of Bush's Social Security Bamboozlepalooza events were first blocked from admittance and then questioned by someone representing himself as a Secret Service agent.

Not only is this an issue of a Secret Service person or the White House specifically obstructing rights. It also touches on why we're financing Bamboozlepalooza when only GOP loyalists and fans can get into these chats. It also touches on the White House happily allowing anyone to at least "pretend" to intimidate citizens for its own gain.


Funny how this topic keeps coming up this week.

Some of the right are using the alleged plagiarism of a college-era paper by one of John Bolton's critics as a sign that the person has no credibility (which to me, is a hoot, since the place where I as a pro writer can make some of my best money - but choose not to do so - is in writing college papers for today's great college students). What one does in college, hopefully, is not terribly representative of who they are as a fully mature adult.

Then I happened to do a search on a link to one of my columns in a newspaper from a couple of years ago and found it had been reproduced around the world, word for word, except for the byline which now bore someone else's name. Apparently, whoever published this (since this is not a single writer's site) again failed to notice that there's a reference to the original author's gender (me, a female) while the person who reproduced by work is male. It's rather a glaring oversight to me but might escape anyone else's notice. And no, this is not the first time this has happened. I've found my work reproduced in Australia several times with someone else's name applied.

In another incident, a fellow blogger - who will go nameless but who has been known to oppose cat blogging - pointed out that one of his posts is now appearing on someone else's blog with no indication it was lifted or quoted from the first blogger.

All of this is the long way around to telling you to check this blog - Becker and Posner - on the issue of plagiarism. Right now, I'm just a bit too crispy fried from anger to respond appropriately. So I think I need to re-read it later when I'm a little less pissy.

Gee, Americans Didn't Like the Bush-Saud Hand Holding

Can't imagine why. And that's even excluding the homophobic factor.

If You Happen to Find a Mess....

I'm experimenting with drafting my own template. I've tried it before and usually end up with a Dada-ist style jigsaw puzzle but Daily Read over at Trailing Edge Blog managed to do it and it's not like cascading style sheets are new to me so....

Yes ::hanging head:: it's true. I just hate stuff that's out of the box, without any customization. Well, almost anything like that.

War on Faith? Or Bigots Using God to War Against Americans?

A Southern lawmaker actually has put forth a bill that will make it illegal for any public library to buy the work - books, plays, artwork, etc. - by a gay American.

From CBS News:

Republican Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen says homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle. As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, under his bill, public school libraries could no longer buy new copies of plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters.

"I don't look at it as censorship," says State Representative Gerald Allen. "I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children."
He doesn't see it as censorship and I don't see it as anything more than bigotry.

How fucking dare he?

Why do I care since I'm not a gay author? Because in fairly recent history, we've had such efforts against the works of dissidents, against Jews, against anyone who could be perceived or labeled a Communist. Some of our best and brightest have been black-listed.

And In the Nature of Full Disclosure

I've never taken anything from a politician and campaign - not even a free bumper sticker or pin.

Bloggers, Politicians, Ties, and Disclosure

First, understand that I don't believe I have some great overview and knowledge of all the dynamics at work here, so I'm not going to name names or try to imply that I do have great wisdom and understanding. But in reading some of the "big" blogs last night, I saw a certain amount of carping that bloggers with ties (financial or otherwise) to either specific political candidates or overall campaigns were being told they had to disclose those relationships when other forms of media (TV pundits, columnists, etc.) are not held to the same standard.

I completely understand the phenom of not wanting to be held to a different, tougher standard than others who are far better paid. But what I don't quite "get" is that blogs became so popular because people were looking for information apart and beyond from all these cozy corporate interests.

So where does that leave the additional-information-seeking public if they come to blogs and don't see any form of disclosure that this or that blog has a consulting or other financial/gain relationship with a candidate or campaign they're promoting? In my view, if bloggers don't disclose, then we're no better than someone like Howie Kurtz who benefits directly and indirectly from the GOP through his wife's position with them and then fails to disclose it again and again.

Didn't we either begin blogs or start to read blogs because we were looking for information that wasn't corrupted as much through the corporate masters?

I can argue that I don't think someone like Howard Dean (and he's being used solely as an example here because I respect him enormously) is a political whore, but if I took money from Dean - and I don't, nor do I have any relationship with him other than the fact that I once voted for him - and failed to disclose it while saying what I do about Dean, I would understand why some might question whether my opinion is shaded by such a tie. In my case, I can tell you that I've never had a situation where my opinion has changed because someone handed me money/resources/respect, but a reader might not believe that.

So yes, I'm one of those terrible, terrible people who feel that bloggers - all bloggers of all stripes - who have some type of real connection to a candidate or a cause should disclose. I care that others in the media are not being held to the same standard, but I'm not willing to corrupt the process by saying it's OK to for somebody's work to be underwritten by a John Thune, a Tom DeLay, a John Kerry, or a Howard Dean to keep that relationship secret when they're writing about that person.

Myself? I disclose too much. It's just me. I prefer to have everything out on the table. I'm not asking other bloggers to follow my own standard. But I am asking them to disclose the pertinent stuff.

All Reps on Ethics Committee Have Financial Ties to DeLay

This is exactly what I meant when I said that just chopping off DeLay as titular head of the rattlesnake club won't do a damned thing toward ending this:

All five Republicans on the House ethics committee have financial links to Tom DeLay that could raise conflict-of-interest issues should the panel investigate the GOP majority leader.

Public records show DeLay's leadership political action committee (PAC) gave $15,000 to the campaign of Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Pa. — $10,000 in 2000 and $5,000 in 2002. Hart would chair a panel to investigate DeLay if the committee moves forward with a probe.

The same political committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, also has donated to the campaigns of ethics Chairman Doc Hastings of Washington, Judy Biggert of Illinois and Tom Cole of Oklahoma. They are among scores of Republicans DeLay has contributed to. Cole and the remaining committee Republican, Lamar Smith of Texas, contributed to DeLay's legal defense fund. (Related link: Donations from Americans for Republican Majority).

Juan Cole Pegs It on Difference Between Mainstream Media and Blogs


Matthew Haughey says he won't read our blogs if we use the term "mainstream media" (a.k.a. MSM).

A news flash for Matt: We don't care.We don't care if you read our web logs.

The difference, Matt, is that we are independent actors, not part of a small set of multi-billion dollar corporations. The difference is that we are not under the constraints of making a 15% profit. The difference is that we are a distributed information system, whereas MSM is like a set of stand-alone mainframes. The difference is that we can say what we damn well please.

If we were the mainstream media (perhaps better thought of as corporate media), we would care if you threatened to stop reading us. Because although we might be professional news people, we would have the misfortune to be working for corporations that are mainly be about making money.We would be ordered to try to avoid saying anything too controversial (and I don't mean "Crossfire" controversial), because we would be calculating what would bring in 15% profits per annum on our operating capital. Would hours and hours of television "reportage" and discussion of Michael Jackson or of Terri Schiavo or Scott Peterson (remember?) bring in viewers and advertising dollars? Then that is what we would be giving the public. Bread and circuses.Would giving airtime to Iraq, where we Americans have 138,000 troops and are spending $300 billion that we don't have, be too depressing to bring in the audience and advertising and the 15% profit? Then we would dump it in favor of bread and circuses.
Thank you, Juan.


Childish? Mean Spirited? Or Flat Out Amoral?

Democrats in the House are furious over what they see as a deliberate attempt by Republicans to rewrite Democratic amendments to make the Democrats amendments look preposterous, RAW STORY has learned.

The Republican-written rewrites, along with the Democratic description of the amendments, follows. RAW STORY has also learned that Republicans have not rewritten similar amendments in the past. A copy from the Congressional record in 2002 is included below, showing the "neutral" language used in a previous Congress.
The following statement was issued by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee. "The Rules Committee discovered yesterday that the Judiciary Committee Report on this very bill, which was authored by the Majority Staff, contained amendment summaries which had been re-written by committee staff for the sole purpose of distorting the original intent of the authors.

"This Committee Report took liberty to mischaracterize and even falsify the intent of several amendments offered in Committee by Democratic Members of this body.
Tom DeLay in the not-too-distant past suggested Democrats should just go home because they were no longer needed on Capitol Hill. It looks like now he's trying to send them home whether they want to or not.

Tom DeLay: Condemns Castro, Cuba, But Loves Toking on Those Fine Cuban Cigars

Besides regularly violating federal rules about smoking in/around federal property, Time tells us that Tom DeLay, who has suggested more than once that we should invade Cuba just to oust Fidel, also smokes cigars from there.

You know those cigars. The ones that are illegal to have here. But Tom and men like Arnold Schwarzenegger, also a fan of these cigars, consider themselves exempt from the same laws that punish us.

After all, we're just cheap trash. They're important.

Even Americans licensed to bring back up to $100 worth of Cuban goods are no longer allowed to include tobacco products in what they carry. The regulation also noted that Americans are barred not only from purchasing Cuban goods in foreign countries, but also from consuming them in those countries.

Oops... Forgot One

Also, the president will basically tell you in this press conference that he approves of corruption because he wants DeLay to stay and to disallow anything that will result in a real investigation of DeLay.

The President: I Won't Allow Anything That Isn't All-GOP

Late today, the White House announced Bush would hold a prime-time press conference and in it, he will blame the Democrats for everything. If you think I joke, I'm not.

He will blame the Dems for:

    not signing off on his Medicare plan (the one most Americans are worried about), for not allowing the filibuster to be killed (most Americans want the filibuster kept), for not approving every single one of his judges (he's had more than Clinton approved and Americans again wonder if the president is going too far), for pissing over his energy policy (most Americans are opposed to that) and not getting John Bolton approved for the UN (and the more Americans hear about Bolton, the more they're willing to let the Dems do more research into Bolton

So let's be very clear. The president will (and it's not a first) come out and shake his finger at not just Dems, but the overwhelming majority of Americans who possess concern about the direction he's taking us.

Folks? Let's start shaking our fingers right back. And no, I'm not referring to the middle finger (which, although appropriate, probably isn't too helpful).

Do You Like the President's Energy Initiatives?

In poll after poll, the overwhelming answer is NO (on CNN, the poll's running right now and 71% say no, for example; those who've studied CNN polls know how centrist or to-the-right many of their votes go). This includes the WaPo poll I cited on Monday.

Today, Bush says let's relax nuclear standards and build more refineries. That's been his answer throughout and why you see so many ads from the coal industry telling us coal actually makes America cleaner. ::choke::

If you heard his speech last week, played on Monday on the Daily Show, you heard the president say that since 1970s, air and water here has gotten cleaner and cleaner. Then you also saw Bill Frist standing in the background looking incredulous that anyone could say this.

Under Bush's watch in Texas, pollution jumped astronomically. There is far more evidence that the US has gotten much more polluted on Bush's watch as president than not.

Under that same watch, wages have dropped, cost of living has soared, and energy prices have never been higher.

Go out and look at the sky on a sunny day. Look at a sunset and see all the colors (colors that weren't there 20-30 years ago). Go look at a river. Then ask yourself if everything has gotten wonderful. The answer is simply no.

Tom DeLay, the Dems, and Ethics Reform

David Sirota brings us another good piece in which he says Democrats have a unique opportunity to push through intelligent, sane ethics reform.

Let me add a few personal thoughts to what David has stated well.

When we vote for someone, it's not our intention that we're putting them in Washington to become multi-millionaires. Yet that's often the result. And not just for the people we elect, but also their kids, their sibligs, their spouses. The majority of those who go to Washington are fairly well-heeled (by most American standards) before they get there, and the rules are written to allow them to become far richer before they leave (and don't get me started on the RIDICULOUS pension we pay them even when they've served just a short time).

A man like Tom DeLay who started life as a bug exterminator probably isn't accustomed to spending $80K on a big dinner or a golf trip - paid for by someone else - nor do I think he should when it ends up coming out of our pockets.

I want a complete reform of ethics in Washington that would prevent friends and family from becoming lobbyists or having any thing to do with that politician once they do.

I want that reform to be across the board - not just for Dems, not just for Reps.

We pay our legislators an incredible sum (most make at least $140K in base salary). They don't need all the extras when they already have the best health care and pension in the country.

I want that reform to include rules that DO NOT ALLOW a politician or someone working for a politician to take a job with a corporate or private interest for at least two years after they leave office where that corp/private interest involves them using their connections to screw normal Americans.

What Has the World Come To?

Once you start banning penguins, you know that life has simply taken a very nasty turn:

Yes indeedy, the Snarky Penguin peeves both left wingers and right wingers equally. Today I was banned by a left-wing site that I won't name for basically quoting this article to them and pointing out that we hold marches for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, but Iraq and Afghanistan have had over 100 Oklahoma Cities and all we do is wring our hands and tut-tut and say "oh what a shame". Because those Iraqis are, like, DUSKY. And, like, AREN'T AMERICAN. So that means they don't REALLY count, right? So I applaud these fine left-wingers for joining Tacitus, Little Green Footballs, and Free Republic in banning the Snarky Penguin -- they are truly in fine company!
I dunno, BadTux was here recently and he was certainly neither ban-worthy nor fit his image of "bad tux".

Apple-Wiley Snit

This hits just a tad close to home simply because I'm a Wiley author:

Technology publisher John Wiley & Sons said Tuesday that Apple Computer Inc. had removed all of its books from Apple store shelves ahead of the publication of a biography of Apple CEO entitled "iCon Steve Jobs."

"There were conversations with an Apple executive and following that the books were pulled," said Wiley spokeswoman Lori Sayde-Mehrtens. "It's an unfortunate decision for us and we're clearly disappointed in their decision."

The Wiley books were removed late last week said Sayde-Mehrtens, adding that the two companies have had a long-standing partnership.

An Apple (Research) spokesman declined to comment on the book or whether Wiley publications had been pulled from Apple shelves, but author Jeffrey Young said Apple did not like his book.

"My understanding is that Wiley requested or asked if there were any factual changes to be made in the book or errors and that's when they (Apple) said the only thing satisfying to us would be not to publish the book," Young told Reuters.

And Now, for Something Completely Different

Here. I got quickly drawn in. You might have more willpower.


Just a Reminder

House of Scandal. Visit. Watch the movie.

So We Let Al Zarqawi Slip?

It's almost like this administration does not want to catch bin Laden or al Zarqawi. And remember, we didn't catch Saddam; the Kurds did (our finding him was a PR spin).

"Splash Day"

When Bush appeared before a Galveston crowd today to rah-rah Tom DeLay, he made the unfortunate choice to ask the audience if they still had "Splash Day". This is followed by uncomfortable laughter in the audience. So - ever smart - he pushes the question again.

Only, as Keith Olbermann pointed out tonight, "Splash Day", which always had a colorful reputation, has become for several years a completely gay-lesbian event.

Our president, ever on top of things.

Tom DeLay and the President Being So Chummy Today, Revisited

For the person who sent a note asking why the Dubya was giving Tom DeLay his blessings and accolades today, it's simple. Here's the Cliffs' Notes (and I wrote two of those books) version; Bush:

    - Needs Tom DeLay to force through the destruction of Social Security
    - Needs Tom DeLay to push through his disastrous budget
    - Probably can't afford to piss off Tom who probably knows a lot that would be highly embarrassing to the president and which the American public should know (and were Tom a real servant of the people, he would tell them, but he's not so it's a moot point)
    - Thinks DeLay will survive
    - Thinks he can win points from the nutcase wing by patting Tom's hair implants


Is it Possible for Democrats to Connive and Fake Like the Reprehensibles?

That's an interesting theory. Let me allow Skippy to tell you more about the so-called 11th hour failed compromise over the Reps' "nuclear option" to end the filibuster:

kos postulates that it was all an incredible bluff:
    reid just engaged frist in a game of chicken, and frist blinked first.

    reid has been extrememly effective in whipping up opposition to the nuclear option, garnering strong grass- and netroots support, editorial board support, and popular support (as the latest polls show scant appetitite for ending the filibuster).

    but in order to avoid looking like obstructionists, demcorats had to make efforts to "find a compromise", lest the chattering class get the vapors from such democratic intransigence.had frist accepted the offers for compromise, bush would've gotten the majority of his judges through, and democrats would've gotten -- who knows what. all published compromise offers didn't seem to give our side anything.
it's hard for us to imagine a democrat that conniving...not that we think democrats shouldn't be conniving, we just don't think any actually are. there hasn't been a clever and devious democrat since lbj hung up his ten gallon and would not run (and if elected, would not serve), which is, ioho, one of the main problems with today's democratic party.

would that reid be the answer to our prayers: someone not afraid to play hardball. and we don't mean the kind of balls used in sports.
I suspected yesterday that the compromise would meet the fate it indeed met. And no, there was nothing to benefit Dems in the compromise. Bush and the Reps have been famous for demanding compromise where they themselves give us nothing...then turn around and shaft the Dems - and worse, the American public - for being stupid enough to believe them.

More importantly than having the Dems behind the Democrats' effort to try to maintain a check-and-balance with the Machiavellian Admin is that most Americans are behind it. They want the filibuster to remain and they think Bush and company are pushing too hard. The blush is fading from the rose, so to speak. And the fade seems to be advancing rapidly.

But - although I'm not prone to conspiracy theories - I'm frankly worried. Whenever Bush gets just so low in popular opinion, something miraculously happens (9/11, the shoe bomber, the Iraq War, terrorist alerts) to help him act like the courageous Dad ::wretch::. I no longer put anything past them because you simply cannot imagine what they're capable of doing. Everytime we've been sure that "even he would not sink that low", he plunges way past low.

Ah, the Glories of an Overly Large Gut

From Ezra Klein who basically reflects a major topic of discussion around Blogto - er, wait, I don't have a dime to pay Skippy - er.. - Blogosphere today:

Watching David Brooks and John Tierney both race to write the same column extolling the virtues of obesity and mocking liberals for denying themselves cheeseburgers was pretty funny. Did no one warn David that Tierney got there first? Does David not even read his conservative competitor? Seems that the Times token righties need to coordinate a bit better.
The FDA, as usual, did Americans no favor in the last 10 days with their multiple personality disorder-branded 12 - count them - 12 new food pyramids and their schizophrenic response to whether obesity is a good thing or a bad thing.

And Brooks and Tierney simply prove (yet again that they are not just asses but fat asses at that.

This is a topic that hits a little close to home because, for the past few weeks, for probably the first time in my life ongoing, I'm just not hungry. Never hungry. So I simply don't eat. Eventually, my not eating is going to catch up with me and bite me somewhere tender, but for right now, I'm just aghast at food commercials (if one pizza is good then 7 pizzas are heaven and burgers large enough to choke Rush Limbaugh).

We really are a country of gluttony. I think it's beyond the reasoning of most Americans what hunger really means. For many (although certainly not all Americans), hunger means the 7,000 calories they had that day - most empty calories - just didn't do it. Hunger is a concept here (except for the very poor).

Last night, I happened to catch a "fashion show" done by some surgeon who performs gastric stapling. Heh. And the women who were in the show were about as vapid as you can imagine. A twenty-two-year-old who was just "tired" of dieting so she had this procedure done (wow, I can understand - I mean, she's twenty-two. One woman cried because she woke up and realized that McDonald's was introducing some new sandwich and she wouldn't be able to eat it (wiping tear from my eye).

We're a country that eats our own weight in food in a week and then decides that a pill or some surgery will make it all go away. I read recently that people were asking their doctors for Lipitor (a statin drug used to lower cholesterol) "so they can eat cheeseburgers, chili dogs, and ice cream with inpunity".

Bill Maher used to joke that it was America's gluttony that helped explain "why they hate us." I'm starting to think maybe it's not so much of a funny.

For Your More Base Amusement: Anna Nicole Smith

DC Media Girl brings us Anna Nicole's heartwarming prose.

The Carnival of the unCapitalists

Red Harvest brings us this festival, with lots of interesting links and resources.

If you haven't visited, tell them the tall woman in Vermont sent you.

[Ed. note: You are not tall.]

[Author's note: Tsk. Tsk. That's all perspective. Compared to many pygmies and munchkins, I'm downright statuesque. AND... the thinner I get, the taller I look. And, oh yes, btw, fuck you.]

[Ed. note: You're more thin-skinned than tall.]

[Author's note: [yawn]]

Silly Question: Why Does Halliburton Need Another Tax Break

Posted by Cookie Jill at the Chateau d'roo (Skippy International):

in a research note published this morning, the analyst mentions that the company's near term earnings are expected to be positively impacted by a reduced corporate tax rate of 32% during 2005. according to the analyst, halliburton is receiving higher-than-expected award fees for the military support contract in iraq. the eps estimates for 2005 and 2006 have been raised from $2.15 to $2.30 and from $2.60 to $2.70, respectively. - newratings.com

The President and Tom DeLay

Wasn't it just heartwarming to see how darned close George W. Bush and Tom DeLay were today, the president eager to pump Tom's hand and pat him on the back and call him a good American who deserves all our support?

Yes, between holding hands with the Saudi yesterday (really, they need to set that to music, considering how they walked through the blooming wildflowers together) and Tom today, I feel like there's some hope for conservatives soon embracing the idea of two men having a deep and abiding love for each other.

What was more interesting is that in the last few days, CNN's 10-watt anchor, Kyra Phillips (her behavior during the early phase of the Iraq War that is far from over was shameful) has twice made comments indicating perhaps this president is just TOO comfortable with the Sauds and a few other little remarks that seemed completely off her regular script. When Kyra Phillips managed to get anything intelligent through her multi-toned hair dye layer, one thinks there might be hope for others.


SistersTalk is a relatively new blog in the BlogHersphere as well as downtown Blogtopia (yes, Skippy coined that phrase and I'm sending him over the required dime for its use) and while I've only been there twice so far, I like what I see.

Go visit. Topics currently include Microsoft, Wally Mart, and Ariana Huffington's new venture (all celebrity blogging).

On a side note, SistersTalk's resident blogger has one of the better pictures out there, not going for the muddy looking pics most of us shoot absently with our web cams. And an intelligent and warm face that invites conversation, it is, too.

At Least Half of Americans Now Feel Bush Deliberately Misled Them on Iraq

Koolaid consumption down? I'm not going to offer much comment beyond that because I was one of the minority back in the months leading up to Iraq saying this war was "cooked". I don't feel any particular glee in the fact that the Bushies kept proving me and others right or any particular joy that it's taken so long for others to "get" it.

From Editor and Publisher:

Half of all Americans, exactly 50%, now say the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Gallup Organization reported this morning.

"This is the highest percentage that Gallup has found on this measure since the question was first asked in late May 2003," the pollsters observed. "At that time, 31% said the administration deliberately misled Americans. This sentiment has gradually increased over time, to 39% in July 2003, 43% in January/February 2004, and 47% in October 2004."

Also, according to the latest poll, more than half of Americans, 54%, disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while 43% approve. In early February, Americans were more evenly divided on the way Bush was handling the situation in Iraq, with 50% approving and 48% disapproving.

Last week Gallup reported that 53% now believe that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was "not worth it." But Frank Newport, editor in chief at Gallup, recalled today that although a majority of the public began to think the Vietnam war was a mistake in the summer of 1968, the United States did not pull out of Vietnam for more than five years, after thousands of more American lives were lost.

Microsoft, Gays, and the Brouhaha

John at AmericaBlog has pretty much led the way in reporting on this topic, which relates to how Microsoft reportedly backed away from supporting legislation that would have made it harder to act with bias against homosexuals. I'm much more disturbed by reports that Microsoft is paying Ralph Reed's group $20K a month for no discernable reason. Absent such a reason, one assumes it's political blackmail demanded by Reed to the tune of nearly a quarter million per year. Read this piece on the front page of the business section of the Washington Post for more details.

As I've said here, I've been associated with Microsoft both directly (as a contractor) and indirectly (in a variety of ways) since the late 1980s. My association with them now is fairly limited (I am no longer a contractor, for example, but I have a book that was published by them last year).

During the time I actively worked for their benefit, probably about 15% of my team (all non-employees) happened to be gay. The limited discrimination I witnessed within the group was never from Microsoft but from a few members of the team who didn't happen to like some of the gays and used their sexual orientation as an excuse to demean them in comments to other team members. Whenever I happened to hear this subject raised when we were around our MS reps, the MS reps either stopped it cold or simply got the topic back to actual work and not gossip.

Elsewhere in my dealings with MS, I've never seen the issue of sexual orientation come up. I knew occasionally from personal statements made by some of the people at MS that they were gay and that according to them, this presented no problem with their employment at Microsoft, but otherwise, it was a non-issue. I've always been rather pleased about that because I haven't always worked with companies who were so accepting.

So I'm a bit stymied by this whole mess. Stymied enough that I don't feel like I have much to add beyond what I've said here.

When this whole thing first burst onto the scene last week, I assumed that both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were out of the loop on what others within the company were doing. Bill might be a Republican, but he's a lover of science, engineering and profitability first and foremost, in my experience. I don't see Bill coddling somebody like Reed. In fact, Microsoft used to have a completely hands-off policy in politics and lobbying. That changed, I believe, during one of the anti-trust cases, and I was sorry it did. I used to enjoy that Microsoft refused to play the games many corporations did in this regard. But I won't pretend to say I know the ins and outs of all of this because it's separate from my work with them which has been technical and/or online community or publishing in nature.

But here's the thing. I see folks say, "fuck this, I'll buy a Mac!" Really? Because probably one of the few reasons Apple is still around is because Microsoft gave them a financial bail-out several years ago. The best-selling Mac software includes many Microsoft products.

There's also the "fuck this, I'll go Linux and open source" but great purity isn't found in this avenue either, in my humble experience. Wherever you have humans, you have politicking and agendas and sadly, some corruption of pure ideals.

So what's the answer? Well, I daresay Microsoft isn't going to be easily touched by simple acts of rebellion (they're slightly large, if you hadn't noticed). But I also think most of us thinking folks are much more likely to buy their products than the people who think science and computers are a crime against God. So if thinking people (say, even just a few million of them) who do not like Mr. Reed's antics contacted Microsoft by letter, I suspect they might at least analyze the situation.

In my experience, Microsoft simply isn't the evil empire it's often portrayed to be. I don't like everything they do, but they're an intelligent company that is usually pretty damned smart about their key markets and their consumers. They aren't a Diebold or an Enron who have an overriding agenda beyond simple business. So I think they have to be approached as an intelligent company by intelligent consumers who are not happy with this development.

A Hoot Indeed - Caution: Humor Zone

I've got a ton of more serious stuff to post - ranging from Microsoft's apparent paying of Ralph Reed (to the tune of $20K a month) for undisclosed "services" to serious questions about the so-called big deal drug lord Norzai whom the Justice Dept. brought forward yesterday, to how bad this "energy policy" (drafted by Enron and other major power players) of Bush's is.

But... I have to get back to work so here's a small laugh for your consumption:

Crawford, Texas -- 24 April 2005

A tragic fire this morning destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush. The fire began in the presidential bathroom where both of the books were kept. Both books have been lost.

A presidential spokesman said the president was devastated, as he had almost finished coloring the second one.

Blog Regulation: Good or Evil

Shadowthief takes the position blogs should be regulated over in his DailyKos diary.

I really don't want the feds all over blogs for like a ton of reasons, not the least of which is that Mr. Bush kills everything good he touches.

However, with that said, anyone taking money from a political campaign who also blogs about a political campaign must disclose that relationship. And the punishments must be meted our fairly (not just gut the Dems and smile at the Reps).

And you know what? I don't think that even has to be a law. It should be common sense, fairness, and decent ethics that makes one do so. But I sure didn't hear the Thune blogs say it and I question a bit of what happened on the Dem side (I believe I read acknowledgements on the Dem blogs involved in last year's frakus but I'm not 100% sure of that).

Sirota: Bush's Top Cop Leaves to Defend Corporate Criminals

From David Sirota:

In my travels Monday, I noticed this little tidbit buried at in the back pages of the Wall Street Journal:
    "Christopher A. Wray, chief of the Justice Department's criminal division and a central figure in the government's crackdown on corporate crime, will step down to lead a corporate white-collar crime defense unit at the Atlanta law firm of King & Spaulding."

    As a King & Spalding press release brags, corporate clients "will benefit greatly from the experience [Wray] has gathered while at the Justice Department."
How nice. Our nation's top corporate cop will now using his insider knowledge of DoJ to help corporations get off the hook when they commit crimes. In some sense, we shouldn't be surprised, as this is, after all, the Bush administration - a group of people who run the business/government revolving door so fast it is starting to resemble an industrial-strength fan.

Remember the Congressman who pushed through that disastrous "Medicare Reform" thing went to work as a lobbyist for PhrMA. There are a slew of these. I hated it when it happened with Bush I's and Clinton's people and I hate it FAR MORE now because it's much more egregious and consistent now.

Say Hello to AbstinenceOnly.Com

From TCF (and what a hoot!):

Scarlet P. at Freewaybloggers.com is up to no good (again), giving TCF a heads up to the Evangelical Theocracy approved AbstinenceOnly.com! As Scarlet points out with a verbal smirk, ‘this is what happens when you spend $400 million on abstinence only education and neglect to secure the domain name’.

Dr. Bill Frist provides expert medical advice, preferring videotape submissions of your symptoms, now standard procedure to avoid HIV infection through sweat and tear contamination.
All I can say is, welcome to the "celebration of non-penetration" and bless your dark little heart!

"It's Vital to God That We Stop This Barbarian Practice Now Before Any More Are Lost"

Legislation will be introduced by Dominionist Christian Congresswomen this week to end a practice that everyone agrees is a crime against God: circumcision.

"Christians have known for a long time that the immoral practice of defiling the male body, often performed when the child is just a few days old, is a sin against God. This collection of cells, while obviously of no concern to those Godless Democrats (some of whom are Jewish and hence, without a real God and forever to be kept from heaven), is living when it is summarily executed by pediatricians and moyls," said Congresswoman Mary Magdalena Piety-Dogma (R-TX).

"Parents clearly are being influenced by unholy powers when they make this choice for their sons and it's vital that Congress intervenes to save the lives of these foreskins. All this talk about circumcision being appropriate for hygiene and social acceptance is simply an invention of the lefty liberal faction, likely driven by rich and powerful Hebrews who have a vested interest in seeing the moral decline of this county."

"Congress, which sits at the right hand of Jesus Christ, the one and only lord and savior, has the moral imperative to bring America closer to God, and we think this legislation helps us accomplish just that."

"Now, some may try to argue that Congress has no right to make a decision that is entirely the purview of the parents and those males who actually make it to adulthood with their glans hood still intact. But we know better. It's quite obvious that these people simply aren't bright enough to understand what they're doing or they simply would not engage in this practice. Or they are being deceived by Democrats (who, as I already indicated, include Jews). As lawmakers and women, we have the moral and mental clarity to act in these men's best interests in helping them come to Jesus with their God-given bodies intact. We trust that soon, we will be thanked rather than ridiculed."

"To deny us the right to put forth this law is a war against people of faith who believe passionately that God would want us to preserve a foreskin."
Sound far-fetched? It shouldn't. Congress has been treating a smaller collection of cells - a first trimester embryo - and the woman's body who carries it as something they have the moral right to control. Just as fat old white men feel it's their right to both remove access to birth control (other than abstinence which these same fat old white men seem to have a great deal of trouble practicing themselves) as well as a woman's right to choose whether a pregnancy, when it occurs, goes to term, why can't the theocrat women (who are too holy to commit an act of fellatio themselves) pull their own?

If God's name can be attached to something as unholy as the Senate and a filibuster, why not to a foreskin?

And heck, I might even join this bandwagon because I feel that something like a circumcision should NOT be performed on a tiny child. If a male child reaches adulthood and actually wants a circumcision, fine, but it's not a decision a parent should make in the first days of that child's life. There is NO real medical reason to perform circumcision (under most circumstances, of course), all those urban myths to the contrary.

Ah, but there's the rub. Congress is never going to make a ruling that affects the white male population like that. They know how they would be treated (stoned, shot, burned at the stake) if they pulled the same crap on a prostate or a penis that they do with a woman's uterus. No amount of God talk would quiet the masses. Hell, the entire state of Texas might descend on Washington and force Congress, at gunpoint, into early retirement.


Be Creative, People!

From TCF at ThatColoredFellas Weblog:

You’re the A&R Rep (Artist and Repertoire) for That Colored Fella’s Records or the hot shot, young Music Producer I just laid six figures on, to deliver the eagerly anticipated debut album from the Christian Rock outfit, Dr. Frist and the Justice Sunday Theocrats! And, I want a list of suggested song titles, like yesterday.
  • "Amazing Greed"
  • "Gramma Got Run Over By a Dem'crat (ridin' home from Christ's house Christmas Eve)"
  • "Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through the Dem'crats in Life"
  • "Since I Have The Hammer (I'd DeLay Justice in the Eve'nin, I'd DeLay Justice in the Mornin, All Over This Land)"
  • "Total Eclipse of the Soul"
  • "Dick Cheney Lies" (to the tune of "Bette Davis Eyes")
  • "I'll Be Watching You"
Are these rock titles? No. But since when were Mr. Frist and the Theocrats in touch with reality?

Condi Rice: Never One to Let Facts Get Ahead of Her Ego or Her President

From the Guardian:

A state department report which showed an increase in terrorism incidents around the world in 2004 was altered to strip it of its pessimistic statistics, it emerged yesterday.

The country-by-country report, Patterns of Global Terrorism, has come out every year since 1986, accompanied by statistical tables.

This year's edition showed a big increase, from 172 significant terrorist attacks in 2003 to 655 in 2004.

Much of the increase took place in Iraq, contradicting recent Pentagon claims that the insurgency there is waning.

Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, ordered the report to be withdrawn and a new one issued minus the statistics.

A Democratic congressman, Henry Waxman, has written an angry letter about the change to Cameron Hume, the state department's inspector general, arguing that Ms Rice's decision "denies the public access to important information about the incidence of terrorism".

Mr Waxman said: "There appears to be a pattern in the administration's approach to terrorism data: favourable facts are revealed while unfavourable facts are suppressed."
This isn't news, per se, but Condi's role in suppressing the evidence (while implied before) is rather certain now.

Comments on the WaPo Poll

First, polls only mean so much. Anytime you grab one to three thousand people out of a population of nearly 300 million, it can only be somewhat representational.

Second, believe it or not, even as much as I do not like Mr. Bush or his administration, I take NO joy in seeing a president just re-elected (by a squeak and not a mandate) to four more years scraping the pavement in poll numbers. If Mr. Bush as a person fails, I might smile. But this failure hurts our country badly and that I don't enjoy. If we frog marched Mr. Bush out of the White House in handcuffs tomorrow, taking Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and company with him, we'd still be in this mess.

Third, even given that polls mean just so much, we're starting to see a shift AWAY from the 50-50 division but in ways that are not supportive or positive about this president or his sense of direction (which seems to be poorer even than my own ::grin::). So much for him being a uniter and not a divider - division is basically all he's done except for a few rah-rah-US boombah days around 9/11.

Fourth, I am heartened to see that many Republicans join Democrats in not buying this "filibuster is against people of faith" hogwash being flown by disreputable men like Bill Frist and Tom DeLay. The filibuster has helped both Dems and Reps in the past, and it has been used both well and badly in the past by both parties. It's one of our checks and balances and should remain. When I asked myself if I would be so opposed to the end of the filibuster if the Dems were pushing it, my best guess is that I would be just as opposed if it were the Dems trying to end it.

Are we sorry yet? Or, more importantly, are the people who voted for him sorry yet (the rest of us have been sorry since December 2000)? In my own discussion with people (many of whom close to me geographically are Republicans), many questioned their vote within days of the 2004 election. Many more are questioning it now. This is supported by talks with others who are doing informal polls around the country.

But how that helps, I don't know. We're stuck.

Bush Paint by the (Poll) Numbers

Here's the Washington Post/ABC poll which closed yesterday (and historically, WaPo polls aren't creatures of extremes, usually a bit more conservative than NY Times polls but relatively balanced). Now let's look at what it tells us, if anything. Thankfully, however, the president will pay no attention to it.

Here we go!

    Do you support a change of Senate rules (killing of the filibuster? 66 Oppose; 26 Support

    48% think the Dems are right to block Bush's judicial appointees vs. 36% opposed

    Does Bush understand problems of people like you? 40% yes; 58% no

    Only 39% support a constitutional amendment to prevent gays from marrying.

    63% see the U.S. economy as not so good/poor while 37% rate it as excellent/good (actually, only 2% said excellent)

    64% says gas prices are causing them noticeable financial hardship

    Asked who's to blame for gas prices, Bush got the biggest vote at 31% compared with US oil companies (23%) and non-US oil producing nations (26%)

    58% said those groups whose views are similar to their own are LOSING political influence in this country

    47% said that Dems better represent the respondents' own personal values vs. 38% for Reps

    52% said judges are neither too liberal nor too conservative (compared with 26% who see them as too liberal and 18% too conservative)

Now let's look at how the poll breaks down people's views of Bush's handling of specific issues:

Approve Disapprove
Social Security 31 64
Iraq 42 56
Economy 40 57
Energy policy 35 54

54% think Iraq was not worth fighting compared with 44% who think it was.
58% think we're bogged down in Iraq vs. 38% who think we're making some progress

Asked whether a year from now, Iraq will be more stable, 39% expressed confidence this would happen (although 37 of the 39% said only "somewhat" confident) while 60% said they didn't think so (31% of these said they had NO confidence whatsoever)

Overall, 50% disapprove of Mr. Bush's job performance while 47% approve (note: 38% strongly disapprove while only 22% strongly approve)

Finally, Dems were trusted on issues like SS more than Bush (50 vs. 32%)

Frank Rich Weighs in on "Justice Sunday"

And calls it a high-tech lynching in prime time. Read it here.

Americans Going Abroad for Health Care

Did anyone happen to catch "60 Minutes" last night, specifically the piece on how many Americans are going to India and Thailand and other countries to have babies, get operations, etc. for a fraction of the price as here?

My partner immediately looked at me and said, "Well, maybe that's something you should consider."

Then I looked at him and grimaced.

It's not that I oppose the idea outright, but how much has to be fucked up that you can have heart surgery in India for $1,500 when the same procedure would cost you $20-$30K here?

Also, the presentation by many... people who had money in the bank although not necessarily health insurance... who made foreign hospitals seem like the answer really hit me wrong. For example, if you've got $30-50K sitting in a bank, why don't you have health insurance?

If you have a heart attack, can you afford the time to apply for and receive a passport (I read recently that only 1 in about 25 Americans have one), fly for 10 hours, and be that far from your friends and family and other support system? It might seem like "the" answer for some, but it's not really a solution.

How does such an idea strike you?

When You Go to War with the Secretary of Defense You Have Rather Than the One You Want

In returning home, the leaders and Marine infantrymen have chosen to break an institutional code of silence and tell their story, one they say was punctuated not only by a lack of armor, but also by a shortage of men and planning that further hampered their efforts in battle, destroyed morale and ruined the careers of some of their fiercest warriors.

The saga of Company E, part of a lionized battalion nicknamed the Magnificent Bastards, is also one of fortitude and ingenuity. The marines, based at Camp Pendleton in southern California, had been asked to rid the provincial capital of one of the most persistent insurgencies, and in enduring 26 firefights, 90 mortar attacks and more than 90 homemade bombs, they shipped their dead home and powered on. Their tour has become legendary among other Marine units now serving in Iraq and facing some of the same problems.

"As marines, we are always taught that we do more with less," said Sgt. James S. King, a platoon sergeant who lost his left leg when he was blown out of the Humvee that Saturday afternoon last May. "And get the job done no matter what it takes."

The experiences of Company E's marines, pieced together through interviews at Camp Pendleton and by phone, company records and dozens of photographs taken by the marines, show they often did just that. The unit had less than half the troops who are now doing its job in Ramadi, and resorted to making dummy marines from cardboard cutouts and camouflage shirts to place in observation posts on the highway when it ran out of men. During one of its deadliest firefights, it came up short on both vehicles and troops. Marines who were stranded at their camp tried in vain to hot-wire a dump truck to help rescue their falling brothers. That day, 10 men in the unit died.
Read the whole story here.

Amazing How Much Trouble You Can Step Out of When You Give Enough Money to the Feds

Adelphia - rather than fix what it did wrong - is paying the government about $715 million to "resolve" the probe.

This is a nasty phenom that spans many presidents and administrations: the ability to buy your way out of trouble, often without any admission of guilt, let alone an apology. You can do just about anything in the U.S. and get away with it if the check you write has enough zeros on it.

News Anchors and Blogging

You may have recently read that one of the honchos over at NBC was opining, "Why isn't Brian Williams blogging right now?" This is in response to the fact that more and more people, especially young adults, are going on the Web for more detailed information than they get on the evening network newscasts.

Gee, Brian Williams strikes me an an odd choice as a blogger. Frankly, most of the news anchors and so-called news programs don't hit me as wonderful these days - too eager to kiss up to the powers that be, promote corporate interests, and very unwilling to step on any toes (and a good journalist occasionally steps on toes, wittingly or unwittingly). Journalism, at least what I learned when I was in school (no two-day Jeff Gannon programs then), tries its best to tell the truth without taking sides and without sweating (too much) about who won't like what you write or say.

Williams seems like a nice enough fellow, somebody you wouldn't be embarrassed asking to dinner or being seen with in public. But do we really think he would add anything to the dialogue if he were blogging? Hell, no.

The few news personalities with the cojones to blog are either blogging on "safe" topics (meaning: the Bush Administration will pat them on the head along with their corporate advertisers) or they avoid the political altogether (Keith Olbermann, whose blog was pretty good for awhile, opted out of straight political blogging because the right went after him with such ferocity and venom).

Of course, not every blog is political. I read a number that aren't (example: I try to visit several foreign blogs each week just to get a taste for what worries people in other countries - it's about the only time I get to use the Spanish I spent years learning). But in blogs, I have to admit I tend to look for fresh information and stuff I won't get elsewhere... so I think they're (blogs) very well-suited to political and media analysis. And no, I don't think Brian Williams has much to contribute there.

If you see Brian on one of the late night shows, you can see that his wit isn't missing an edge. But he's not going to display this anywhere it ties back to his broadcasts; yukking it up with Letterman or Conan O'Brien is wholly different.

So I think the news honchos are deluded if they think they can tap into the difference blogs and the Internet make by taking someone like Williams and planting him in a blog. "Fans" might engage there, but the rest of us would pay little attention. People reading blogs - on the left, the right, or the middle - are looking for details the mainstream media doesn't cover or chooses to spin.

Turning to the Dark Side?

Well, I hope not.

I've had a few folks approach me asking if they could donate to the blog (very nice, thank you) or buy something for me and I've really debated whether I want to go this route. The whole fund-raising thing always hits me a variety of ways at once. Not all of them good. ::grin::

The more vocal I get, the more time I spend getting inquiries from the IRS and the more effort I exert in trying to keep the blog-related expenses (publication subscriptions, Internet account and backup account, research material and the Web site which will eventually host this blog, all set aside from the 20 or so hours I put into blogging each week which is aside from the 20 or so hours I spend reading for both the blog and my personal education each week) completely separate from my business.

After much consideration, including the fact that I want to keep my office address private and want to keep the donors' information private from me as well, I decided to go ahead and put up an Amazon honor system tip jar because this lets anyone who wishes to donate to do so without disclosing private information about me to you or you to me.

I really doubt I'll go the "oh, please please, give to me" route (just isn't my style), but the honor system tip jar is available for those who want to use it and small enough to be ignored by those who don't.

Uh... Who IS That the President is Holding Hands With?

Look here.

And no, that's NOT the First Lady. Judging just upon amount of facial hair, I don't think he's a she, actually.

Cookie Leftovers

Press Burying Bolton Bad News?

From Michael at AmericaBlog:

Late last night, John posted a Newsweek story that even foreign officials had been complaining about the behavior of John Bolton, Bush's nominee for the UN.

And what do I find on page A-8 of the SundayNYT? A feature on newly released email about Bolton battles that should have been on A-1.
    The most serious charge against Bolton is that he pressured intelligence analysts to change their findings to suit his political aims and -- when they said they'd given him all the leeway they could -- he harrassed them and tried to get them fired. Bolton's fights were not with one or two recalcitrant intelligence analysts that proved annoying.
According to these emails, Bolton fought with and tried to strong arm and inspired complaints from:
    1. The State Department's bureau of intelligence and research (INR)
    2. The National Security Agency
    3. Defense Intelligence Agency
    4. Central Intelligence Agency
Yes, my God: it's clear! John Bolton will just be fabulous on the U.N. (not!)


I'm not ignoring you. Honest! Since last night, either comments aren't showing for me at all or won't open properly. I suspect it's my net connection where email has been problematic, too.

So I will acknowledge as soon as I can.

CNN's Idea of Fair and Balanced: Get a Right Winger to Discuss Bill Frist's Comments

CNN gave Bill Frist an unprecedented time to talk unobstructed on how mean Dems are and "why are they even here" if they won't pass every single one of Bush's corporate whore/moral whore lawyers (ignoring that Bush has a higher passage rate than recent presidents because it's inconvenient; for the Bush-Frist team, if 100% of Bush's judges don't get through, Democracy is over).

So what do they follow it up with to discuss and put this in perspective? Carlos Watson, the man who took the empty "right" position on their cut-of-at-the-knees Crossfire program where Tucker Carlson fled to MSNBC (oh God). I used to sort of like Carlos. But since hearing him on Crossfire, I've now questioned a good deal of his reporting.

If the right is so firmly convinced of their opinion, why do they jump to be sure that CNN and MSNBC use a right winger to answer a right winger? Afraid of what the Dems would say?

My Heart Bleeds for Michael Savage

Oops.. wait. It wasn't my heart bleeding: I spilled my Cheerios. My bad.

From the NY Post:

RABID radio host Michael Savage is whining that he has been banned from the Fox News Channel after he dissed Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.

The controversial conservative — who was fired by MSNBC in 2003 after referring to a caller to his show as "a sodomite" who should "get AIDS and die" — recently burned more bridges by calling O'Reilly a "Leper-Con who poses as a conservative" and Hannity "another Republican bootlicker who began as a Rush [Limbaugh] understudy" on his "Savage Nation" radio show.

Savage claims that he's been bumped off four scheduled appearances on Fox News Channel in the wake of his caustic comments.

"These two are now acting the way the mainstream media has been acting for decades, thinking they are the gatekeepers of who shall be heard in the conservative world," Savage sputtered in a statement.
Hell, to some, I'm controversial.

Savage isn't controversial. Many on the left and the center and the right recognize that he's just a hate-filled pus bag who loves to tell listeners they should die from AIDS.

The Story of Jeff Gannon's Unprecedented Access to the White House Gets Stranger and Stranger

I'm copying liberally from Raw Story, but again, I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing. A lot of things about Jeff Gannon don't add up, not the least of which is why the White House allowed someone to appear under a fake name and considering his extremely questionable history.

In what is unlikely to stem the controversy surrounding disgraced White House correspondent James Guckert, the Secret Service has furnished logs of the writer’s access to the White House after requests by two Democratic congressmembers.

The documents, obtained by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal Guckert had remarkable access to the White House. Though he wrote under the name Jeff Gannon, the records show that he applied with his real name.

Gannon’s ready access to President Bush and his work for a news agency that frequently plagiarized content from other reporters and tailored it to serve a conservative message may raise new questions about the White House’s attempts to seed favorable news coverage. Democrats have sought to paint Guckert in the context of other efforts by the Administration to “plant” positive spin by paying for video news releases and columnists to espouse their views.

Guckert made more than 200 appearances at the White House during his two-year tenure with the fledging conservative websites GOPUSA and Talon News, attending 155 of 196 White House press briefings. He had little to no previous journalism experience, previously worked as a male escort, and was refused a congressional press pass.

Perhaps more notable than the frequency of his attendance, however, is several distinct anomalies about his visits.

Guckert made more than two dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings. On many of these days, the Press Office held press gaggles aboard Air Force One—which raises questions about what Guckert was doing at the White House. On other days, the president held photo opportunities.

On at least fourteen occasions, Secret Service records show either the entry or exit time missing. Generally, the existing entry or exit times correlate with press conferences; on most of these days, the records show that Guckert checked in but was never processed out.

In March, 2003, Guckert left the White House twice on days he had never checked in with the Secret Service. Over the next 22 months, Guckert failed to check out with the Service on fourteen days. On several of these visits, Guckert either entered or exited by a different entry/exit point than his usual one. On one of these days, no briefing was held; on another, he checked in twice but failed to check out.

“I’d be worried if I was the White House and I knew that a reporter with a day pass never left,” one White House reporter told RAW STORY. “I’d wonder, where is he hiding? It seems like a security risk.”
This is very queer, and I do NOT mean that in the gay pejorative sense either.

PBS Scrutiny Raises Political Antennas (Indeed!)

This is very worrisome, as some of us have been realizing for some time.

From Friday's Washington Post:

Liberal commentator Bill Moyers is out on PBS stations. Buster the animated rabbit is under a cloud of suspicion. And right-wing yakkers from the Wall Street Journal editorial page have been handed their own public-television chat show.

Some observers, including people inside the Public Broadcasting Service, see these recent developments as troubling. PBS, they say, is being forced to toe a more conservative line in its programming by the Republican-dominated agency that provides about $30 million in federal funds to the Alexandria-based service.

Officials at the agency, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, say they are merely seeking to ensure balance and fairness in the network's presentation of political news and ideas.

Under its mandate from Congress, which created the agency in 1967, CPB is required to act as an independent buffer between lawmakers and public broadcasters, although it can set broad programming goals. Appointees of President Bush currently control the majority of seats on CPB's eight-member board. Each board member serves a six-year term.

Typically one of the quietest bureaucracies in Washington, the quasi-governmental CPB has been unusually active in recent weeks. CPB this month appointed a pair of veteran journalists to review public TV and radio programming for evidence of bias, the first time in CPB's 38-year history that it has established such positions. PBS officials were unaware that the corporation intended to review its news and public affairs programs, such as "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" and "Frontline," until the appointments were publicly announced.

In negotiations with PBS earlier this year, the corporation also insisted, for the first time, on tying new funding to an agreement that would commit the network to strict "objectivity and balance" in each of its programs -- an idea that PBS's general counsel described in an internal memo as amounting to "government encroachment on and supervision of program content, potentially in violation of the First Amendment."
One more public institution is being torpedoed, joining a very long list that is growing longer by the day.


More to Go Without Health Care

Posted by Cookie Jill at Skippy (who reminds us he's a fucking marsupial and NOT a fucking rodent):

hundreds of thousands of poor people across the nation will lose their state-subsidized health insurance in the coming months as legislators scramble to hold down the enormous — and ever-escalating — cost of medicaid.here in impoverished southeast missouri, nurses at a family health clinic stash drug samples for patients they know won't be able to afford their prescriptions after their coverage is eliminated this summer. doctors try to comfort waitresses, sales clerks and others who will soon lose coverage for medical, dental and mental healthcare.lawmakers say they feel for those who will lose coverage. But they say also that they have no alternative.

prenatal checkups, care in nursing homes and other health services for the poor and disabled account for more than 25% of total spending in many states. medicaid is often a state's single biggest budget item, more expensive even than K-12 education. and the price of services, especially prescription drugs and skilled nursing for the elderly, continues to soar.

the federal government helps pay for medicaid, but in the coming fiscal year, the federal contribution will drop by more than $1 billion because of changes in the cost-share formula. president bush has warned of far deeper cuts to come; he aims to reduce federal spending on medicaid by as much as $40 billion over the next decade. -latimes

Terrible, terrible news.

When Even Blog Linking Gets "Political"

A thoughtful post by my personal favorite kangaroo - OK, I don't think he's really a kangaroo but I adore him and his blog - Skippy reminds me of something that seems to come up frequently in Blogtopia (yes, Skippy coined that!): who gets links and who doesn't.

Like the blogger who contacted Skippy demanding a link to his blog, I too would love, love, love a Skippy link. But you know what? I respect Skippy so I respect who he chooses to link to permanently, who he does not, and the system by which he decides which is which.

Unlike that blogger - and a scant few who have contacted me demanding rather than requesting a reciprocal link (I'm an odd choice for that since I'm neither highly trafficked nor do I go out of my way to promote myself - I feel that each blogger gets to decide which links (s)he chooses to include on his or her rolls. Look at my blog rolls and you'll see both the usual suspects as well as some that aren't usual choices but I feel are:

    a) educational
    b) enjoyable
    c) just good writing
    d) all of the above
You'll also see that I don't happen to link to every blog that other similar blogs may link to. Why? Usually because I either don't read them regularly or I feel the unhelpful rhetoric surpasses the helpful or I don't get to them often enough to properly assess them. When I see a new link I really love, it goes up on the list - with no concern whether it's hot or popular or whether they link back to me.

For myself, I'm tickled pink when someone I like and respect like David at In Search of Utopia or Max at MaxSpeaks or the General at Patriotboy or the Corrente folks or Mad Kane links to me. But I would never ask them to include me. That's entirely up to them. They have the right to link to those they choose.

And while someone like Skippy doesn't link to me permanently, I know that if I have something good, I can send it around to him and others and, if they like it, they'll give me a nod. Just as when you - my usually respectful and kind readers - share a link with me and I like it, I'll give it a nod and sometimes, it joins the blog roll.

Mutual respect is a wonderful thing. I'll take that over ego any day.

Are Dems Too "Reactive"?

Hunter at DKos offers some excellent points today - he often does - that I think are worth a shout out. Here's a serving, but go read the entire thing.

A minor point for discussion: I've been hearing talk in a number of places opining that the Democrats are "too reactive". That is, that instead of announcing policy proposals of our own, taking the initiative on issues, we are merely reacting to whatever gets tossed our way from the other side. Shouldn't we be ignoring sideshows like Justice Sunday and Ann Coulter, not letting ourselves get distracted by going 24/7 on parlor games involving Bolton, DeLay, etc? Shouldn't we use the extra time to promote our own agenda?

Hell, no.

Let's be blunt, here. The Democrats are coming off a ten-year period of being spectacularly inept in national politics, and I would chalk a fair amount of that up to being categorically unable or unwilling to react to thrown attacks. It's not that Gore lost, or Kerry lost, or the House and Senate have Republican leads -- all of those things happened by hair's-breadth margins, and in and of themselves are not very indicative of anything resembling a long-term catastrophe. What is of more import is the way those elections or particular legislative agendas have been lost, often times in circumstances where public opinion was clearly -- unambiguously -- on the Democrats' side. The problem is -- and this is important -- current national politics has almost nothing to do with policy.

Calling She Bloggers

Details here on the BlogHer Conference set for Santa Clara this summer.

Sadly, it's unlikely I'll go since I have to go to the other coast at least twice otherwise between now and early October and I can only tolerate airport insecurity and airline madness just so often (unless there's an outrageously good reason, of course).

Miss Poppy

Lambert at Corrente and Company (there are many good people there) points us to this parody site.

A Couple of Other Comments About the US Response to the New Pope

Specifically, this is about the political response to the Pope.

First, it was interesting to see that Tom DeLay literally forced others - you know, actual Catholics - out of the U.S. delegation to John Paul II's funeral so he could be there. Several non-Republican Catholics among Congress were forced to go separately and not as part of the official delegation, because men like Frist and DeLay chose to make this their usual partisan bullshit. Frist, btw, is a Presbyterian while DeLay is, at least in theory, a Baptist.

Second, as an ironic aside to the first, Frist and DeLay have aligned themselves with the Dominionists who do not recognize the Catholic Church or the Pope as Christians. Remember the quote from Pat Robertson who said Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presybyterians were the AntiChrist and he didn't have to be nice to them, and the Catholic Church is held in even less esteem by such types. Strange thing with me: if I don't like someone and happen to believe his or her life was a "lie", I'm not going to attend their funeral just because "it looks good".

Third, interesting that Jeb Bush was chosen to "lead" the U.S. delegation to the "official" swearing in of the new Pope today. While Jeb has said he's not interested in running for president in 2008, I wouldn't hold my breath on that. Several times now, the president has given Jeb some exhaulted role as a leader (Tsunami relief, etc.) that is entirely political rather than a good choice. Jeb's an interesting Catholic, too; he converted to Catholicism at a time that made it the best choice for his political aspirations. Coincidence? Don't think so, not when he knew he would depend heavily on those whose immigrant backgrounds were largely Catholic.

Note, too, Jeb's words about leading the Papal delegation: that the U.S. and the Catholic Church are strongly aligned and would work well together. I for one do not see that the Catholic Church as led from Vatican City can or should have a strong role in American politics, not given than they tend to be very one-sided (kick Kerry out of communion for being pro-choice but allow Giuliani, Ridge, and other pro-choice Republicans to receive communion). Do you want Vatican City affecting the results of American elections? Even as a Catholic, I don't think the right answer is "yes".

Fourth, don't allow yourself to be fooled that when Dominionists among the so-called Christian Right talk about Christians, they include you unless you have a very narrow-minded view of what a Christian is. If you're a Catholic or an Episcopalian or a Unitarian, you do not qualify as a Christian to them. Understand how this is far different from the mainstream. You probably would not exclude Baptists from Christianity, although many of them would exclude you.

Fifth, when Dominionists talk about "trying to protect your right to practice your faith", they do not mean your faith, they mean their faith. If you're not a fundamentalist, you should not have rights according to them.

And those last two points are central to the fight being waged now. The Dominionists and the political whores who have aligned with them like to use inclusionary language to get you to buy their premises (again, largely based on fear of the ridiculous), but if you do, you'll only be respected and allowed to worship their way.

Another New (for Me) Voice Saying Important Stuff

Daniel, a semi-new regular, happened to suggest I check out Den Mother and it was well worth the time (thanks, Daniel).

For example, here I read about one woman's reaction to the new Pope that I admit echoes some of my own. Here's a snippet:

Of much greater concern to me is the impression of Ratzinger as an ultra-traditionalist in areas such as the role of women in the church, ecumenism, personal/moral issues like birth control, and what more progressive Catholics call "a sub-culture of clericalism" and the concentration of power among the curia. He is known to have wielded tremendous influence during the later years of John Paul II's papacy, which also happens to be the time when the hierarchy fell down on the job on the issue of sexual abuse by priests. In short, he's been around long enough that his positions are very clear from his actions.
    Sometimes his remarks have been bluntly critical, on such diverse topics as dissident theologians, liberation theology, "abuses" in lay ministry, homosexuality, women as priests, feminism among nuns, premarital sex, abortion, liturgical reform and rock music.

    [ . . . ]

    After review by Cardinal Ratzinger's congregation, U.S. Father Charles Curran, who questioned church teaching against artificial birth control, was removed from his teaching position at The Catholic University of America in 1987.
Well said.

While I think it's important that people "give the man a chance", his position within the Church makes it probably fairly clear where the former Cardinal Ratzinger falls on many key issues. I applaud what he said about the (most recent) Iraq War, but some of his other activities bother me a lot.

Yes, it's always possible that he could moderate his position. But he's 78 - while I know a lot of people who continue to think and evolve well into their 90s, too few perhaps do - and he hasn't only lived by this very strict, exclusionary doctrine for many decades, he's written much of it.

Christian Right or Dominionists?

Dominionism. If you don't know what it is, you should, because we see it in operation in politics and "social" issues everyday in way. And we should start calling them what they are: Dominionists acting for dominion and not Christians acting "for God".

Shakespeare's Sister brings to light this philosophy (if something based on fear and us-vs-them ism can be called a philosophy) and aspects of it that are highly important and integral to today's battle. Dominionism, right there in our faces, has failed - again and again - to be addressed in media presentations about the power of the "Christian Right". Politicians and preachers have been marvelous at getting people riled up with fears that their Bibles will be spit on (funny how the people who often do the spitting aren't their opposition but they themselves), their right to pray taken away, and their morals tramped upon.

Please, check out what 'Sister says in full. Here's just a snippet:

Dominionism is a natural if unintended extension of Social Darwinism and is frequently called “Christian Reconstructionism.” Its doctrines are shocking to ordinary Christian believers and to most Americans.

Journalist Frederick Clarkson, who has written extensively on the subject, warned in 1994 that Dominionism “seeks to replace democracy with a theocratic elite that would govern by imposing their interpretation of ‘Biblical Law.’” He described the ulterior motive of Dominionism is to eliminate “…labor unions, civil rights laws, and public schools.”
And then there's this from the same post:
Dominionists have gained extensive control of the Republican Party and the apparatus of government throughout the United States; they continue to operate secretly. Their agenda to undermine all government social programs that assist the poor, the sick, and the elderly is ingeniously disguised under false labels that confuse voters.


It is estimated that thirty-five million Americans who call themselves Christian, adhere to Dominionism in the United States, but most of these people appear to be ignorant of the heretical nature of their beliefs and the seditious nature of their political goals. So successfully have the televangelists and churches inculcated the idea of the existence of an outside “enemy,” which is attacking Christianity, that millions of people have perceived themselves rightfully overthrowing an imaginary evil anti-Christian conspiratorial secular society.

One American's Pledge for Justice Sunday

While Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and others have sought to transform today into "Justice Sunday" and try to make the issue of the Senate filibuster into an "us vs. them" debate - and mind you, the "us" Frist is representing amounts to a rather small but highly vocal part (the "religious right") of the population - Shakespeare's Sister and others have decided to redefine it into a broader and yet more individual premise.

I like Shakespeare's Sister's pledge:

On Justice Sunday, I vow to passionately pursue true justice for all. I will fight for the rights of the oppressed and minorities. I will fight for people of every race, creed, color, ability, sexuality, gender, religion or lack thereof, class, and political affiliation to have a voice and a place in our democratic process, guided by the principle my rights end where yours begin. I will fight for an honest national discourse. And I will not be deterred by those who claim to have cornered the market on faith. I acknowledge the potential for goodness and wickedness in all people, and I will not bow to those who seek to harm any of my fellow Americans for any reason, even if they come carrying a cross and wrapped in a flag. The stars and stripes represent us all, and my voice will be heard. For all.

That flag, and all it stands for, represents a struggle for freedom, for equality, for the rights of all, and I’m taking it back. It’s my fucking flag, too, and it doesn’t belong in the hands of those who would ignore the two most important words in the oath which we use to pledge our allegiance to that for which it stands. Liberty and justice for all.
Beautifully said.

At this turbulent point in America's history, we're at a turning point that could very well tip virtually everything to one part of America.

The so-called left (and remember, these days, left is used to refer to anyone left of Ronald Reagan with too many arguing that Reagan was "too liberal") is being made to seem "against faith", "against Bush just because of who he is", "against morals". Yet among the so-called left are many people who feel just as Shakespeare's sister does: justice and freedom for all.

None of us want to burn the Bible. We don't want to affect how people worship. We're not into opposing Bush just because his name is Bush. Even centrist Republicans feel great concern about some of what this man's administration represents because we "own" it as Americans.

Instead, we're FOR everyone being able to express their spirituality in faith as they choose although not in a way that forces others to agree and participate in the other person's belief system. We're "moral" people as well, but we do not see that the correct way to go is to force our individual morality on others.

You can be a person of faith without forcing your family, your neighbors, your city/town, your state, your country or even the world to conform to your doctrine. If you happen to believe, as I do, that God is everywhere and yet He gives us infinite room to make greatness and terrible mistakes on our own, then you don't need to make people recite a loyalty oath or a prayer, or invoke God's name in everything you do.

If you happen to believe that God is great, how can you possibly force others - who are also God's creatures - to shut up, sit down, and just go along mindlessly with what you want?

But beyond that, how can you possibly love God and then try to insert God in the terrible conflicted messiness of American politics? Contrary to Mr. Frist's words, God probably doesn't want anything to do with our Senate and our House of Reprehensibles or our White House. People can love God and really, really, really think Tom DeLay is one of the sleaziest politicians ever to come down the pike. Even more than that, thinking people can choose not to believe in God and still be moral, still be lawful, and still be resprected to make their own decisions without some other so-called Godly person forcing them to believe.

And God isn't taking sides in the filibuster. Man's law is not God's law. And our country was founded on the principle that while God may affect much of what we do, the importance of a separation between religion, politics, courts, and American life and policy is vital.

Anyone like Mr. Frist, Mr. DeLay, Mr. Bush, et al, who insists that God is on their side and everyone else be may be breaking one of those 10 commandments: lying. But they're doing something even worse: not just taking God's name in vain but also trying to stir up pain, injustice, and and intolerance.