Tuesday, May 31, 2005

TX-Senate Dem. Candidate

Never heard of this Radnofsky lady before but she's got a good Web site. Apparently she's already declared for Kay Bailey's seat and rumors are that it's going to be an open seat very soon.

I found her site through a post on MyDD.com that has got to be one of the most delusional things I've seen in a while. I'm all for putting a positive spin on things but saying that "[Randofsky] is, I am convinced going to be Texas' next US Senator" (sic) doesn't make me think you know shit about Texas politics.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Ask Dr. Frist

Looks like the Tennessee Kitty Killer is doling out medical, relationship and spiritual advice on the internets. You too, can now Ask Dr. Frist his opinion.

Perhaps inspired by Diagnose me, Dr. Frist!

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DeLay Gets Punked By Law and Order...

...and then cries about it. This article doesn't go into the details of the show, but on the latest Law and Order Criminal Intent the cops are chasing down two guys who have been using a sniper rifle to murder/assassinate judges. That's when the obligitory sarcastic quip comes - the female lead of the show "suggest(s) putting out an all points bulletin for 'somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt.'"

Now that's pretty funny and when I saw it I chuckled. But DeLay's response is even better:
"I can only assume last night's slur was in response to comments I have made in the past about the need for Congress to closely monitor the federal judiciary, as prescribed in our constitutional system of checks and balances."
Yeah, the Constitution definitely says that judges who disagree with TomTom will have to "answer for their behavior." It's in Article 17, I think.

Mad props to Law and Order executive producer Dick Wolf for his response:

"Every week, approximately 100 million people see an episode of the branded 'Law & Order' series. Up until today, it was my impression that all of our viewers understood that these shows are works of fiction as is stated in each episode.

"But I do congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a TV show."

What's next, DeLay attacking Leno, Letterman, and Jon Stewart?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Owen Confimation Leaves Hole in Texas Supreme Court

Oh boy! Rick Perry gets to appoint another lunatic to Texas's highest and most corrupted judicial body. No telling what wild-eyed Talibanesque judge he will select to pick the seat of a justice who Al Gonzales criticized no less the 8 TIMES for being a judicial activist.

I would suggest this guy but he's already dead.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Slate declares Lockhart home to greatest BBQ in the world. We all already knew that, of course.

The brisket, black and almost crunchy outside, was moist inside—a perfect mix of fat and salt and meat. The sausage—made with nothing more than beef, pork, salt, pepper, cayenne, and smoke, was incredible


Another domino falls...

Judge rules that DeLay's PAC broke the one campaign finance law in Texas. From the Statesman:

State District Judge Joe Hart ruled Thursday that Texans for a Republican Majority violated state campaign law when it failed to disclose more than a half-million dollars in corporate contributions during the 2002 state legislative elections.

Hart, however, said the plaintiffs could only collect for damages in their campaigns. He awarded $196,660 to the five Democratic candidates who lost in 2002. Included in that total was an $87,332 award to formerstate Rep. Ann Kitchen of Austin.

Second Best Story of the Day

More news from the "red states."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

On the compromise

"It seems a little like Dems are celebrating the fact that someone stole their girlfriend but they won the right to keep dating."

from Hotline's Last Call

Those idiots at Newsweek

If those imasculated "editors" at Newsweek had the intestinal fortitute to stick out their substantiated claim of Koran flushings, they would have been vindicated shortly afterward.

The Washington Post now reports that FBI interviews obtained by the ACLU reveal:
Numerous detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba told FBI interrogators that guards had mistreated copies of the Koran, including one who said in 2002 that guards "flushed a Koran in the toilet," according to new FBI documents released today.
But, I guess it never happened since Newsweek retracted its story. Just pathetic.

How Propaganda Becomes "Truth"

Great post from Arthur Silber on Newsweek, propaganda, White House control of the media, etc.

All the major points advanced by the war propagandists—and that I identified in my very first post about the Newsweek story—are included: the riots and deaths that came after the Newsweek item in time were caused by the magazine’s story, and whether that contention is true or not need not even be addressed; Newsweek retracted the story, so whether the U.S. and/or its troops have shown disrespect toward Islam or the Koran, and what the results of such policies might be, need not be considered ; and all the rest.

This is how popular mythology is created and how war propaganda becomes so common, because it is repeated so often and questioned so rarely, that it is widely accepted as “truth.”

News Roundup

Never afraid to trailblaze new journalitic frontiers (think Jayson Blair, Judith Miller), the New York Times is shunning the renewed interest in newspapers actually attributing their sources. Despite being burned repeatedly, the NYT proves once again that rather then the Paper of Record, it is the Paper of Off the Record.

Today's story is about an unverifiable claim by an anoynmous Islamic fundamentalist blogger (or any global intelligence agent) that our Emmanuel Goldstein
du jour, Abu Musaf al-Zarqawi, has been injured. But it's the headline and tease in the World section online that sums up their professionalism nicely:
Internet Posting Says Zarqawi Has Been Injured
By JOHN F. BURNS and RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
Slug: The statement, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, gave no details of the injury or how it was inflicted.
Well hell!! Let's put two reporters on this hot tip! Here's an idea for a freakin' story: How about finding out who is hosting this web site and shutting them down -- I bet that might lead to some clues! But silly me. I'm assuming they're actually looking for him.

Speaking of bullshit. If you wanna know why we have such a renewed interest in the caucuses and the Caspian region (despite our obvious desire to spread the wings of freedom and liberty to all people), read this story in today's Independent on "The Pipeline That Will Change the World." Conveniently, several of the politically-inconvenient nations that this pipeline (and the next one) needed to transect have had themselves some conveniently-timed revolutions over the past few years.

On the homefront, Walter Jones, the dimbulb Republican behind renaming French fries at the House and Senate Office Buildings "Freedom Fries" -- despite their Belgian origin -- is now apparently seeing the light and is strongly questioning our presence in Iraq. In fact, Jones now seems very contrite about his moronic campaign:
Asked by a reporter for the North Carolina News and Observer about the name-change campaign - an idea Mr Jones said at the time came to him by a combination of God's hand and a constituent's request - he replied: "I wish it had never happened."
And, let's give it up for George Voinovich one more time. His new letter to senators urging them to vote AGAINST Bolton is extremely brave and very articulate. I expect The Gang That Can't Shoot Straight to go after him double-barrel in his next re-election. McCain's compromise didn't take guts, this did. Although you've got to hand it to McCain, he fragged Frist extremely well and set himself up for the 2008 nomination.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

John Tierney is an Idiot, Part II

In today's NYT, new columnist John Tierney ruminates on the gender gap at work. His conclusion (after discussing one Pittsburgh study) is summed up here:
For all the executive talents that women have, for all the changes that are happening in the corporate world, there will always be some jobs that women, on average, will not want as badly as men do. Some of the best-paying jobs require crazed competition and the willingness to risk big losses - going broke, never seeing your family and friends, dying young. The women in the experiment who didn't want to bother with a five-minute tournament are not likely to relish spending 16 hours a day on a Wall Street trading floor.
So that's it ladies. You just don't want it bad enough. You don't put in the elbow grease to produce say, one poorly-written column a week based off the one study you bothered researching for your incredibly ambitious goal of getting to the bottom of the workplace gender gap in 700 words or less.

Does this guy have an editor??

Republicans Love Sex!

Unbelieveable. The AP reports that after a $21 million investigation of Henry Cisneros was to be terminated -- for good cause -- the GOP attaches a rider into an EMERGENCY military appropriation bill that extends the investigation!?!?

And what have we now after $21 million dollars? An admission from Cisneros that he low-balled to the FBI the amount of money he paid a former mistress - a misdemeanor.

But as we know, Republicans love investigating about sex -- in depth. Remember the long sad tail of independent counsel-turned-pornographer Ken Starr?

Funny, the Repubs get all bent out of shape when the NEA funds someone like Robert Mapplethorpe, but has no problem forcing taxpayers to fund a $40 million smut rag.

Monday, May 23, 2005

This is a fucking deal?

NYT reports:

The judicial showdown that has preoccupied the Senate for weeks in bitter dispute was to many a foreshadowing of what might occur later this year, if there is a Supreme Court vacancy. There were varying interpretations of how Monday night's agreement might restrict lawmakers during what is anticipated to be a drawn-out battle. On the one hand, Democrats view the pact as containing an understanding that would forbid the Republicans from trying to vanquish the filibuster in such an instance, while Republicans asserted last night that they could still move to change the rules if Democrats violated the agreement.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the No. 2 Republican, said, "The way I read it, all options are still available with the timing to be determined."


So:
* They get the three worst nominees through,
* Frist and McCain get to take credit for being moderate,
* And they explicitly reserve the right to go nuclear on a Supreme Court nominee?


Clearly euphoric and relieved, Mr. Reid said a message had been sent that "abuse of power will not be tolerated, and attempts to trample the Constitution and grab absolute control are over."


Uh, no, Harry, those attempts aren't over. Did you listen to what kitty-killer Frist said?

"The moment draws closer when all 100 senators must decide a basic question of principle whether to restore the precedent of a fair up-or-down vote for judicial nominees on this floor or to enshrine a new tyranny of the minority into the Senate rules forever," said Dr. Frist.


ADDENDUM:

There is word circulating this morning that Reid never had the votes. If that's true, then perhaps this crappy deal is the best we could have gotten. In which case, anger should be directed not at Democratic Senate leadership, but at spineless R moderates, and maybe also the American electorate.

News From the World of Texas Online Politics

The Kinkster has a new Web site - perhaps the only male candidate in the world who could pull off a pink color scheme in Texas. While I like the new site's color scheme, and think it's a pretty decent site, I have a few beefs:
  • The contribution page still has Kinky's old design up making it look like you're leaving the site to make a contribution. Donors get a little freaked when you pull stuff like that.
  • The Forum and Online Store have the same problem. And what's the difference between the forum and the blog anyway? Aren't those basically the same thing?
  • The video on the homepage is only available in one size and one format (Windows Media). Isn't Kinky supposed to be independent? How about some love for Mac users?
  • And finally, the email I got announcing Kinky's new site said this:
1) Contribute: As Kinky says, "A journey of a thousand miles always starts with a cash advance." We hired the best in the business, now we gotta pay 'em.

3) Tell your friends about the campaign using our form.

3) Collect names: Find out who else wants Kinky on the ballot and sign 'em up. Download the Lone Star Pledge kit and start signing people up today!
For a candidate that might face some tough questions about whether or not he's qualified to serve as Guv, it might help if he could count to three.

In related news, Kinky has brought on former Nader, Ventura, and Wellstone consultant Bill Hillsman to do his ads.

Help Maul Michael Moore and Hillary Clinton!

This has got to be one of the funnier online games I've seen in awhile. Help Miss Beazley protect the White House lawn from liberals and progressives and become a good "guard doggy."

The worst 100 Best Movies list

The editors at Time have decided to jump into the ubiquitous "Best Of" market and are now touting their picks for the 100 Best Movies of All Time.

As usual, the picks are a mix of old tired old stand-bys like "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Casablanca", mixed in with such asinine picks as "Miller's Crossing" (which contains lines like, "Mwahh, the dame's with me, see"), the anti-labor "On the Waterfront," and the just-plain-bad "The Fly" remake with Jeff Goldblum. It actually includes "Finding Nemo" as one of the BEST 100 MOVIES EVER MADE...SERIOUSLY, EVER!!!

Time tries to cover up for its head-slappingly-poor choices by including films with actual merit such as "City of God" and "Pulp Fiction." The magazine also tries to deflect some criticism by posting its Readers' Top Rated, which, amazingly, make their picks look somewhat sane.

If you have some picks that this group of eagle-eyed editors missed, please include them in our comment section. I'll start:

* Waking Life
*Salvador
* Full Metal Jacket

Imagination and beer

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's 35th anniversary dinner sounds like it was hilarious. How could it not be, with Molly in attendance? As Editor and Publisher reported:
Ivins accepted her award with a funny, impassioned speech on the difficulty of fighting for press freedoms and civil liberties in the George W. Bush administration. "What you need to do is talk to a Texas liberal," she told the crowd. "We know what it's like to be outmanned and outgunned." Ivins spoke of her work on behalf of First Amendment causes, noting that for the last 15 years she has given one speech a month, for free, on behalf on free-speech issues. She doesn't give these speechs in places like New York or San Francisco, but in places without a lot of liberals. "You don't know what courage is," she said, until you sit in the basement of an Alabama Holiday Inn with "seven local heroes, led by a librarian, fixing to start a chapter of the ACLU."

Sharing the lessons of being an outgunned Texas liberal, Ivins said, "One of our rules is that things are not getting worse -- things were always this bad." But she acknowledged journalists are in a particularly tough spot right now. "If you're not scared," she said," you should be." But she encouraged the audience to continue fighting the good fight, and to continue having fun. "In Texas," she said, "we recommend imagination and beer."
Gotta love the guy (and this crack) but is Al Franken really candidate material?
Then he turned toward The New York Times table in the front of the room, where sat Judith Miller, best known these days for two things: her articles on weapons of mass destruction that didn't quite pan out and the possibility she will go to jail for not revealing sources in the Valerie Plame case. "Judy,"" Franken said, "maybe you can find some WMD in your cell." Silence. "OK, I shouldn't have told that joke."

Let the antics begin

Out come the cots as Senate Majority Leader Bill "I love the smell of dead kittens in the morning" Frist kicks off the impending circus over Bush's extremist judicial nominations.

Let's hope this "showdown" goes as badly as their last pathetic stab on this issue when they brought out the cots for the "30-hour Showdown" in November of 2003 -- to which the country replied, "Zzzzzzzzzz."

The Whip In

Whether it was a 12-pack of Lone Star cans on the way to a tubing trip, or a sixer of some hipster Idaho-brewed IPA, you were always there for me. The best convenience store ever, the Whip-In, is expanded and online.

They even have a blog with tasting notes. Whip-In, I will visit you soon.

Texas set to embarrass us again.

The lege is putting a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on the November statewide ballot. The State Senate approved it Saturday, after what the Statesman called an "emotional and sometimes fiery debate that cited slavery and the Bible."

Yet Another Way We're Getting Screwed

Think BushCo and corporate America care about average workers? Yeah, right. Slate has a great piece today on how corporations are lining up to rip off hardworking Americans by 'cramming down' pension and retirement plans. The basic M.O. is that a large corporation will promise it's workers a decent pension, work them like dogs for 30 years, and then announce that they've been underfunding their pension plan and employees are S.O.L.
Corporate America has been systematically setting up its employees for United Airlines-like cram downs. Nearly a year ago, the PBGC reported that there were 1,050 companies that had an unfunded pension liability of $50 million or more. (Collectively, their plans were underfunded by $278.6 billion.) That's up 15 times from the $18.4 billion total in 1999. The PBGC estimates that the total shortfall among all the 31,000 plans it insures is significantly higher.

[...]

Meanwhile, the PBGC itself is in deficit. As of last September, it had only $39 billion in assets to cover the $62.3 billion in guaranteed pension benefits it owes to more than 1 million workers. In other words, it doesn't have the resources to meet even the crammed-down plans. Oh, and the PBGC, which insures pensions for 44 million workers in 31,000 plans, is bracing for more pension failures.
That's 44 million workers that might not get the full pension and retirement money promised to them by corporate America. And it's not just because the economy is bad or a particular industry has done poorly:
And even when they're flush, many healthy companies simply fail to take the steps necessary to fund the benefits. According to another study by Wilshire Associates, 81 percent of corporate pensions are underfunded. American corporate managers have collectively decided not to adequately fund the pensions and post-retirement health benefits that they promised to employees or negotiated with unions.
That's an outrage. But the real kicker is that BushCo is doing the exact same thing to American workers:
Indeed, the mother of all cram downs is shaping up this decade in Washington. For the past four years, as Americans have gone to work, played by the rules, and paid their taxes, Republicans in the White House and Congress have engineered a fiscal disaster. . . It's not that Congress and President Bush can't adequately fund Social Security. It's that they just don't want to. Instead, they want to cram us down.

I don't think the Pentagon will be sending out any press releases on this story

Tillman's Parents Are Critical Of Army
Family Questions Reversal On Cause of Ranger's Death

"The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting."

[...]

Mary Tillman says the government used her son for weeks after his death, perpetuating an untrue story to capitalize on his altruism -- just as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was erupting publicly. She said she was particularly offended when President Bush offered a taped memorial message to Tillman at a Cardinals football game shortly before the presidential election last fall. She again felt as though her son was being used, something he never would have wanted.

Is photography becoming illegal?

The Christian Science Monitor today discusses the latest fad in law enforcement since they've been granted God-like powers bythe U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act. From potholes in public streets, to large tourist attractions, the Fuzz is cracking down on "public photography." That's right, if you want to weild that camera around willy-nilly, you better be prepared to deal with the business end of a riot baton. So keep those cameras in your homes people. And for chrissake, please stop photographing our detainees!!!

Friday, May 20, 2005

from another Texas liberal

Bill Moyers gave a great speech last weekend, "A democracy can die of too many lies." It's mostly a speech about journalism -- a great, incisive speech, worth the read -- but this passage sings:

"I wore my flag tonight. First time. Until now I haven't thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind, and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans.

"Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustained me, whose armed forces protected me, and whose ideals inspired me; I offered my heart's affections in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother's picture on my lapel to prove her son's love. Mother knew where I stood; so does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15.

"So what's this doing here? Well, I put it on to take it back. The flag's been hijacked and turned into a logo -- the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the good housekeeping seal of approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration's patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao's little red book on every official's desk, omnipresent and unread.

The Hutchison To Come

Some Texas progressives, myself included, have been holding on dearly to the misguided notion that a Hutchison governership would be an acceptable alternative to the bankrupt policies of Hair Perry. Believing that Chris Bell doesn't stand a chance in hell of de-throning Perry (who, incidentally, will be the longest serving Texas governor in history if he wins again), I figured at least KBH is pro-choice and not a COMPLETE nut.

Well, as the reality of the polorized political process in Texas becomes more clear, we are getting a better idea of where KBH has to be in order to be an actual threat to "The Coiffed One" in the primary.

As you know, Rick Perry is actively soliciting the vigilante militia "The Minutemen," who have done more to sully the good name of America's first revolutionaries than they have any actual "patrolling", to come to Texas and start shooting Mexican immigrants. So, rather than oppose Perry's Wild West fantasy-land and stick up for human rights, KBH uttered the following during a recent Senate debate on border patrol funding:
"We have seen some very brave people sitting on the border of Arizona and Mexico in the last few weeks and I have to say I think these people have shown a commitment and a caring that should be acknowledged in the United States Senate."
Hell, let's just encourage the Texas Rangers to regress back to the days of the so-called Border Bandits and kill Mexicans with abandon.

Breaking News: Pentagon Worried About Geneva Conventions!

Washington, D.C. -- Anonymous sources within a department of the federal government that would prefer to remain unnamed released a statement -- unattributed -- that some within the Pentagon were concerned that the publication of humiliating photos of Saddam Hussein by two Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloids may have been a violation of "Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals."

This reporter, for one, applauds our new Pentagon guidelines on what parts of the Geneva Conventions we should care about, and which parts are "quaint" little passages that can be ignored by our glorious men and women in uniform.

So remember, this is a violation of the Geneva Conventions...




This is not.

Yeah, if only Newsweek hadn't run that Qur'an story, they'd love us.

NYT: In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him...

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time...

One captain nicknamed members of the Third Platoon "the Testosterone Gang." Several were devout bodybuilders. Upon arriving in Afghanistan, a group of the soldiers decorated their tent with a Confederate flag, one soldier said.

Some of the same M.P.'s took a particular interest in an emotionally disturbed Afghan detainee who was known to eat his feces and mutilate himself with concertina wire. The soldiers kneed the man repeatedly in the legs and, at one point, chained him with his arms straight up in the air, Specialist Callaway told investigators. They also nicknamed him "Timmy," after a disabled child in the animated television series "South Park." One of the guards who beat the prisoner also taught him to screech like the cartoon character, Specialist Callaway said.




A sketch by Thomas V. Curtis, a Reserve M.P. sergeant, showing how Dilawar was chained to the ceiling of his cell.

Is tofu destroying the planet?

My sister, a vegetarian, told me that soybeans were quite possibly the world's greatest crop since they could "replace" meat as a source of protein. Guilty about my red meat eating ways, I told her that one day we would discover that soy was evil.

Today might be that day. As The Independent reports, Brazil's "Soy King" is actively promoting the deforestation of the Amazon rainforests -- one of the planet's "green lungs" -- in order to create space for soybean agriculture. 2004 marked the second worst year EVER for the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. In fact, forests the size of Massachusettes were lost last year alone.

Driving the surge in Brazilian soya is the fact that Brazil does not allow genetically-modified (GM) agriculture, so when the EU adopted its ban on GM foods, Brazil became the #1 supplier of GM-free soy.

What makes the issue all the more difficult is that if Brazil stopped clearcutting rainforests for soy production, it would likely do the same thing to accomodate cattle grazing. Could this be an issue to unite carnivores and vegetarians?

There are two rainforests that are absolutely critical to life on Earth, the Amazon and the Congo. If we lose either one, it's lights out.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I like to shoot guns as much as the next guy but...

...what is about the Right that they have to make such a fetish out of it? Hutchison pines for her handgun reports the DMN.

"I have always had a handgun in the drawer next to my bed, and I would certainly
again have one if it were legal in D.C.," Hutchison said.


And Cornyn boasts:

Cornyn's office said he has several types of guns and rifles and keeps them in
an "undisclosed location."


They're really just one step away from the cliched gansta rappers brandishing MAC-10s for a publicity photo.

Porn star and porn mogul to dine with Bush, Rove

This has got to be a joke....right?!!?!

Talking Points: White House vs. Newsweek

In a predictable move, the White House is pawning off its soiled image in the Middle East onto Newsweek for backing off its Koran desecration story. The editors at Newsweek are pussies. Rather than stick to their guns, they handed the White House a prime opportunity absolve itself of all the torture taking place in its global gulags. The Newsweek editors should have said:

1. Despite this recently-"discredited" incident of Koran desecration at Guantanamo Bay, there have been numerous similar incidents in the past, many of which led to a long hunger strike by the detaineess -- and an apology from the head US soldier in Guantanamo. From the Washington Post on Saturday:
Earlier this year, lawyers representing Kuwaitis held at Guantanamo said their clients told them that military police threw at least one Koran into a toilet. A released Afghan named Ehsannullah told The Washington Post in 2003 that U.S. soldiers taunted him by doing the same thing. Three Britons released last year also said Korans were put into toilets by U.S. guards.
2. The editors of Newsweek had no reason to believe that the desecration of the Koran COULDN'T occur in an environment where it's been verified that people have been electrocuted, water-boarded, bound-gagged-and-beaten, murdered, raped, and humiliated daily.

3. Point out the rich irony behind the White House's incredulity that taking action on faulty intelligence and shady anonymous sources may lead to negative results, possibly even violence (see: the entire Iraq War)

4. Let's not forget, this is the administration that wanted to legalize torture, straight up. So flushing a few holy books is child's play to them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

News Roundup

From the George Galloway-kicked-Norm Coleman's-ass file: Not satisfied with eviscerating Norm Coleman -- and fragging Carl Levin in the process -- Galloway had some venom left over for that bloated, bug-eyed Bushite hack Christopher Hitchens. From today's Guardian (Galloway to Hitchins in a Dirksen hallway):
"You're a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway informed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead. "And you're a drink-soaked ..." Eventually Mr Hitchens gave up. "You're a real thug, aren't you?" he hissed, stalking away.
In a surprise move, U.S. authorities arrested terrorist Louis Posada Carriles in Miami yesterday after the moron surfaced to give an interview to The Maimi Herald. Apparently convinced the US would give him a pass -- as its given to its other terrorist-enablers John Negroponte and Otto Reich -- Posada surfaced briefly and was popped. If you remember Goodfellas, more than likely, Posada will get the Paul Cicero treatment in prison since the US has already said it won't extradite him to Cuba or Venezuela. Regular readers of Cruzbustamante.com will recognize Posada as the lead suspect in a Cuban airline bombing that killed 73 civilians and also a suspect in a string of Cuban hotel bombings that killed several.

Newsweek handed the Bush Administration a big fat "Get Out of Jail Free" card with its shoddy reporting on the Koran incident at Git'Mo. Now, in my favorite headline of the day, the White House wants Newsweek to pull a rabbit out of its ass and fix our blood-stained image in the Middle East.

Back in Texas, Sen. John "Boogie" Whitmire has apparently taken time away from backstabbing the Democratic Party and hitting on young women in the Senate chamber to shepharding a MOMENTOUS piece of legislation aimed at making death penalty supporters sleep better at night. Apparently they've had some difficulty with their bloodlust since the death certificates of victims of state-sponsored executions currently read "murder" -- which, it is. Not to fear, Whitmire has made it his personal crusade to make sure death certificates of executed Americans now read, "legally authorized execution." Well, I feel so much better now.

Just when you think we were done trashing the Geneva Conventions, along comes this. It couldn't be more clear, space is for exploring, not for arming.

Damnz, I didn't know tunas were so big!

And finally, US soldier Sabrina Harman tearfully apologized today for her role in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal that destroyed any credibility the US may have had in the Arab world. Harman will be taking Donald Rumsfeld's place in Leavenworth for 6 months.



Dead Iraqi Prisoner Packed in Ice

A great win

Villaraigosa Sweeps Past Hahn in Historic Victory

Antonio Villaraigosa romped past incumbent James K. Hahn to make history Tuesday, winning election as the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since the city's pioneer days.

[...]

A Mexican American child of City Terrace, a largely immigrant community on Los Angeles' Eastside, Villaraigosa was raised by his mother after his father abandoned the family. He grew up in poverty and has said he saw his father beating his mother.

After bouncing in and out of high school, he went on to graduate from UCLA and earn a law degree at People's College of Law. Villaraigosa became a teachers union organizer, then won a state Assembly seat in 1994.

His outgoing personality and skill at raising money served him well in Sacramento; he won the powerful job of Assembly speaker in 1998, then spent much of the next two years preparing his first run for mayor of Los Angeles.

Villaraigosa kicked Hahn's ass by almost 20 points, which was especially sweet considering Hahn's vicious attacks.

More than anything else, Hahn painted his rival as soft on crime. The mayor's goal: to build support among white Republicans and conservatives, many of them in the West Valley, and the least likely of the city's voters to side with Villaraigosa.

In a TV interview last weekend, Hahn pressed the point by saying his foe took "the side of the street gangs" when Villaraigosa was a leader of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

"He really doesn't enjoy stiff sentences against criminals," said Hahn, who closed his campaign with ads hammering the challenger for voting against tougher penalties for child abusers who kill children.

Congratulations to former union organizer, ACLU president, and now Mayor Villaraigosa.

Mountains of Ice

As a friend pointed out, it was sad to watch Norm Coleman humiliated yesterday and realize we lost Paul Wellstone only to get such a fool.

I wish Wellstone were on the floor right now debating the nuclear option and the filibuster. Here's an excerpt of a speech he gave in 1998 at a union hall for your inspiration.
I finish by posing a question for you – this is the fire that’s burning inside of me. I do not understand how it can be that in the United States of America, which is a country I fiercely love. Boy, when you are the son of an immigrant it is true (as some of you may know): it makes you so patriotic. I love this country. I give no ground on that. But how can it be that in the United States of America today – the richest country in the world, at the peak of our economic performance – we’re still being told that we can’t provide a good education for every child? How can it be that we’re still being told we can’t provide good health care for every citizen? That we’re still being told that we can’t at least realize the goal that every kid comes to kindergarten ready to learn – that she knows the alphabet, he knows how to spell his name, she knows colors and shapes and sizes, they’ve been read to widely and they are ready to learn! We’re still being told that people can’t expect to find a job at a decent wage. It is unacceptable.

[...]

Wendell Philips was an abolitionist – he was speaking in the 1840’s, gave a speech abolishing slavery. Wendell wouldn’t equivocate, gave a fiery speech, and said that slavery was unconscionable, it was an outrage and it should be abolished. He finished speaking and a friend came up to him and said “Wendell, why are you so on fire?” He turned to his friend and said “Brother May, I’m on fire because I have mountains of ice before me to melt.” We have mountains of ice before us to melt. Thank you.

Senate R's Say Mr. Smith Can Go To Hell

In light of the Republican attempt to go 'nuclear' on the filibuster I thought it might be appropriate to quote from one of my favorite political movies of all time, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. In the movie's climax Jimmy Stewart, a regular guy who gets appointed to the Senate, uses a filibuster to fight back against corrupt Senators that have blocked his attempts to create a boys camp:
Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys' camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it's not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again! (Emphasis mine)
Here's hoping we don't lose sight of the great principles our country has fought so hard for.

Bush's Budget Turning America into Argentina

More great stuff from Today's Papers:

The other nuclear scenario... With the media packs settling down to enjoy the filibuster fight, Post quasi-columnist Dana Milbank notices that a conservative think tank and a liberal one joined with the U.S.'s comptroller for a press conference to raise the alarm about the "nightmare" that is the future budget. "The only thing the United States is able to do a little after 2040 is pay interest on massive and growing federal debt," said the comptroller. "The model blows up in the mid-2040s. What does that mean? Argentina."

Milbank notes:

There were no cameras, not a single microphone, and no evidence of a lawmaker or Bush administration official in the room—just some hungry congressional staffers and boxes of sandwiches from Corner Bakery.

My only complaint about Milbank's column is that it's contrasted with the filibuster drama instead of Social Security. When BushCo holds a press conference about Social Security going bankrupt it's broadcast nationally in the middle of sweeps, when two think tanks that never agree on anything and the country's comptroller have a presser on the entire government going bankrupt all they get is a few staffers looking for a free lunch.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Welcome to Poverty Asshole!

Un-freakin'-believable. While Americans are watching the stampede of dishonest corporations shirking their pension obligations to the federal government (ie: you and me), the pondscum at the Texas Legislature voted -- without taking a record vote -- to boost their own pensions by $6,000 a year.

Fiscal watchdog Will Hartnett (a Republican) said they change was needed because "we all work hard and we're underpaid." He then continues his whimpering by saying, "We're all losing money that we could earn in our own professions..."

Well, welcome to PUBLIC SERVICE asshole! You SACRIFICE for the public good.

Just in case you're keeping score of Hartnett's professions, poor ol' Hartnett is a Harvard graduate and is a partner in his daddy's law firm The Hartnett Law Firm -- which specializes in such low-wage work as "
estate and trust administration and litigation."

Hartnett himself admits on his own House bio that he is "
board certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law, and is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and of the Texas Bar Foundation. He is listed in the 2003-2004 edition of The Best Lawyers in America."

It's a jungle out there Mr. Hartnett, best give yourself and the rest of your government employee cronies a pay increase.

Rumor 3 of the day

BDA is a Capitol-Hill based gigolo who got into the blogging game just so he could out his Johns in an impending tell-all book after being "outed" by another blog.

It will be called "Tort Reform & Whisky: My Life as a Broke Male Political Whore."

Rumor 2 of the day

From a labor source, SEIU is gone from the AFL-CIO. They've already pulled their lists from the AFL's databases. Also, AP reports Unions Criticize AFL - CIO Leadership.

Rumor 1 of the day

From a Republican source, Frist wants one more weekend before things blow up, plans to start debate on the nuclear option tomorrow, and then push for a vote next week. McCain and the moderates have no chance.

Pro-choicers marginalized

So EJ Dionne begins his column entitled Centrist Courage On Abortion like this:

Nothing is more hopeless or courageous in politics than seeking an authentic middle ground on the abortion issue. That makes Thomas R. Suozzi a hopeless case or, as I would insist, one brave politician -- and especially so as the United States Senate tears itself apart over judicial nomination battles in which discord about abortion has played such a central role.

The 42-year-old Nassau County executive is a churchgoing Catholic who believes that abortion should remain legal. He is also a Democrat who thinks that government should take concrete steps to make it easier for women to choose against abortion.

You're really expecting something bold, or new, or inconoclastic, huh? And what is Suozzi's proposal?

Suozzi runs a county government, so more is asked of him than just a string of nice words. He has put $3 million in county funds on the table to support homes for single mothers, to promote adoptions and to provide information on all forms of family planning, including -- to hold the culture warriors at bay -- contraception, "natural family planning" and abstinence.

Uh, that's pretty much been the agenda of Planned Parenthood (whose clinics are targeted by domestic terrorists) for 30 years now. That's not an "authentic middle ground" as Dionne calls it, but is essentially the position of the entire pro-choice left.

In Real Life, a Power We Shouldn't Have

One of the paradoxes about conservatives and the death penalty is the same people who think government is incompetent to do anything right (even trash collection should be privatized!) has complete certainty that our arcane criminal justice system works well enough to not accidentally execute the innocent.

Richard Cohen makes that point in the Washington Post today.

Whatever the case, no execution is a private act. Every time the state executes someone, it threatens the rest of us. The power to take life is too awesome to be given to government. It's not just that it has been abused throughout history, it's also that governments are incompetent at it. After all, the same government that assured us that Iraq bristled with weapons of mass destruction also guarantees that there is nary a slip between the cup and the lip when it comes to executions. Lately DNA testing has given the lie to that. Mistakes are still being made. Sorry.


I know there are at least 119 people who very much agree with Cohen.

Damn CSPAN and the Media Blackout!!!

Libeled Scottish MP George Galloway is set to deliver and explosive testimony before Norm Coleman's Oil-For-Food show trial. After winning two libel suits against the Telegraph and the Christian Science Monitor for alleging he was paid off by Saddam for his opposition to the war, Coleman is dragging up the same old allegations.

What should prove to be the most interesting Senate committee hearing in awhile is completely blacked out by CSPAN. Rather than air the committee hearing, they are airing Partisans and Redcoats, and warmed over Washington Journal from this morning.

Even all the links to the committee room are dead. Like here at Capitolhearings.org, another CSPAN project that doesn't work for shit. It says to just "click on the room number" yet none of them work. Then, you go to the Senate committee's actual web site and get this dead link.

What a bunch of crap. In Texas (that beacon of technological advancement) you can watch any committee hearing at any time, and both houses of the Legislature. The federal government can't do the same thing?? What gives?

Maybe its because Galloway gave a hint of his upcoming testimony to SkyNews yesterday:
"I am going to accuse them of being involved in a huge diversion from the real issues in Iraq, which are the theft of billions of dollars worth of Iraq's wealth by the United States of America and its corporations and the deaths of more than 100,000 people in Iraq, the destruction of the country, the opening of the doors to Islamic extremism of the al-Qaeda variety, tremendous crimes they have committed in Iraq."

Monday, May 16, 2005

Oops

Walmart to apologize for Nazi ad

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said yesterday that it made a "terrible" mistake in approving a recent newspaper advertisement that equated a proposed Arizona zoning ordinance with Nazi book-burning.

The full-page advertisement included a 1933 photo of people throwing books on a pyre at Berlin's Opernplatz. It was run as part of a campaign against a Flagstaff ballot proposal that would restrict Wal-Mart from expanding a local store to include a grocery.

"Return of the Sith" biggest anti-Bush movie since "Farenheit 9/11"??

The early reviews are in from the latest Star Wars movie, and the consensus is that George W. Bush is an evil shit, I mean Sith (same letters).

Confused? Well, apparently those viewing "Revenge of the Sith" for the first time are under the impression that the entire movie is a cautionary tale about slipping into fascism under a dictatorial leader. Nicknamed the "Empire Strikes Bush," the movie has many themes that parallel the many troubles in today's world.

The New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott writes:
"'Revenge of the Sith' is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders."
One telling moment is when Anakin Skywalker is about to transform into Darth Vader, he issues the following familar line to Obi Wan:
"You are either with me -- or you are my enemy."
If you don't think Lucas is referring to Bush, Lucas clears up any confusion during an interview in Cannes where he said:
"'I didn't think it was going to get quite this close,' he said of the parallels between the Nixon era and the current Bush presidency, which has been sacrificing freedoms in the interests of national security. 'It is just one of those re-occurring things. I hope this doesn't come true in our country. Maybe the film will awaken people to the situation of how dangerous it is.' "
Good question, and I don't think we need a science fiction movie to tell us. But my hats off to Lucas for couching such a serious topic in his movie. Where is Luke Skywalker when you need him?

DeLay provision in energy bill to benefit Saudi chemical company in Sugarland

What do you get when you mix Tom DeLay, millions in lobbying expenditures by the Saudi Royal Family, the chemical MTBE, and the House Energy Bill? Another toxic mess, courtesy of the former exterminator from Sugarland. The Boston Globe has all the sordid details:

“A company largely owned by the Saudi government has spent more than $1.5 million since 1998 lobbying Congress to shield the chemical industry from liability for damages caused by MTBE, a potentially cancer-causing gasoline additive…

“[Tom] DeLay is the chief proponent of a provision in the sweeping federal energy bill to relieve the MTBE industry of most liability for cleanup…

“The Saudi company, SABIC, is a leading maker of MTBE. It faces loss of business and potentially heavy cleanup costs if Congress does not protect the industry from lawsuits. The company, which has a member of the Saudi royal family as its chairman, has an office in Houston and a research and technology center in Sugar Land, Texas, DeLay's hometown and political base.”


Saudis lobby to limit liability on additive

Senate Honors Taliban Arms Dealer

This is pretty fucked up.

The United States Senate is honoring Wilson today in a ceremony at the Capitol for Osama's arms dealer in an official ceremony dubbed "Commemorating Charlie Wilson's War".

Anyone from Texas has heard about maverick Democratic lawmaker Charlie Wilson. What some do not know is that Wilson spearheaded an effort in the early 1980s to send Stinger missiles and AK-47s (among other weapons) to the mujahidin, or Afghan "freedom fighters" (including Osama bin Laden) since they were fighting the Ruskies. It was the largest covert CIA action in the history of the agency.

Well, now those same "freedom fighters" are crashing planes into our buildings, flooding the world with opium, and killing American troops daily. We now call them al-Qaeda. So thanks Charlie Wilson, for helping arm the killers of Americans and other innocent civilians.

Daily Show Slams Edwards and his Stupid Bill

The AAS reports today in an editorial brief about a recent Daily Show report on Al Edwards and his asinine cheerleading bill (click here for the HILARIOUS DS piece entitled "No Child's Sweet Behind"). Apart from insinuating that "sexy cheerleading" helps spread AIDS, Edwards provides much more ammunition to have the nation pummel us with.

Curiously, at appears the AAS Editorial Board is lamenting the fact that this garbage piece of legislation doesn't have a Senate co-sponor at this time.

*Small aside: DS reporter Bob Wilfong interviews some "chanteuses of desire," otherwise known as "cheerleaders" at A.N. McCallum High School -- Marvelle's high school alma mater in Austin.

Legless puppies, the cement plants of Midlothian, and Joe Barton

They're all connected, and Tom Boyle, a Republican, tells the frightening story of how in a D Magazine article that begins, "My wife and I wanted a place in the country to raise our kids, so we moved to Midlothian, the cement capital of Texas. Then our neighbors started getting cancer, so we had to figure out why."

Expect to be sickened after reading about kids with cancer, Down's syndrome clusters, horses that won't breed, and yes, puppies born without legs or tails, all around the Ash Grove, Holcim, and Texas Industries (TXI) cement plants. Toss in Congressman "Smokey Joe" Barton's successful efforts to shield the companies from federal environmental standards, and you have a classic Texas story.

Though it feels bad to laugh, the story actually has some funny parts, like when Boyle describes his disbelief that he, a rock-ribbed Republican, finds himself associating with -- ghast! -- environmentalists.

"We were Mormons, for heaven’s sake," he writes. "I was a scoutmaster and Julie was a room mother. She had never knowingly voted for a Democrat. Ever. I may have, but I couldn’t remember when or why. It’s not that she suddenly wanted to open an abortion clinic or host a gay wedding, but she was starting to sound a little too much like something I knew we were not: Democrats."

Today Boyle and his wife run the Midlothian Family Network. No help yet from their Congressman, but Erin Brockovich is on the case.

Nice try, but not so much

No one hates Rick Perry more than I (well, not true, but I'm no fan). I feel I need to say that in the event this post gets miscontstrued.

But the latest shot from prospective gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell is just sad. Bell decides to take a shot at Perry for not stopping the closure of 4 military bases in the BRAC process. Nevermind the fact that state officials are virtually helpless in the BRAC process, Bell's spokesman says:
“Texas and Oklahoma have two Republican senators and a congressional delegation dominated by Republicans. What does Oklahoma have that Texas doesn’t have? A Democratic Governor. Maybe we should get one of those,” said Jason Stanford, spokesman for the Chris Bell for Governor Exploratory Committee.
Yes Jason, Oklahoma didn't have any base closures because they have a Democratic governor. The Pentagon loves Democratic governors.

In addition to the bizarre link of a Democratic governor to zero base closings, the subtitle of the press release says, "Texas losing 15 military installations -- Oklahoma zero."

But according to the Houston Chronicle, Texas is losing three large bases and 7 National Guard stations -- making a grand total of 10 "closings." Where the other 5 are is anyone's guess.

More intriuging, is the actual title of the press release, "Another Failure by Slick Rick."

Now, I'm not a seasoned campaign flack like Stanford, but assigning the moniker of a bad ass rapper to your political opponent is not the best strategy when your base is urban Houston.




Friday, May 13, 2005

Smoking Pot Better For You Than Emailing

OK, this confirms what we all knew (including Ted Kazynski). A study by those radical Luddites at Hewlett-Packard found in a new study that constant instant messaging (email, Blackberries, AOL, etc.) ruins more brain cells than smoking a nice, big, sticky, delicious spliff.

Seriously, worse for you than pot. So, hopefully the Justice Department will start raiding large corporations with endless seas of cubicles filled with people rotting their brains with emails.

Here's a great Mark Morford column putting the whole thing in perspective.

I'm off to go get high, I mean, send some emails.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Military apparently has surplus of soldiers

Why else would today's Washington Post story make any sense?

Brushing aside opposition from top Army leaders, a House subcommittee approved a measure yesterday that would ban women from serving in certain support units in a bid to keep them out of "direct ground combat..."

The legislation, an amendment to the 2006 defense authorization bill, was introduced with little advance notice yesterday after Hunter advised the Military Personnel subcommittee late Tuesday night to vote on it, congressional staff members said. It passed 9 to 7 along party lines.

wisdom from Eisenhower

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things . Among them are ... a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954

Smokin'

As a smoker I'm a bit biased when it comes to anti-smoking issues. Sure I should quit but that's my decision, not anyone else's. So you can imagine this article from USA Today made me pissed off enough to go light one up:
More companies are taking action against employees who smoke off-duty, and, in an extreme trend that some call troubling, some are now firing or banning the hiring of workers who light up even on their own time.
The articles cites a few examples of companies that have you-must-never-ever-smoke policies:
Weyco, a medical benefits provider based in Okemos, Mich., this year banned employees from smoking on their own time. Employees must submit to random tests that detect if someone has smoked. They must also agree to searches of briefcases, purses or other belongings if company officials suspect tobacco or other banned substances have been brought on-site. Those who smoke may be suspended or fired.
Not a smoker? Don't really care what happens to people who smoke because it doesn't affect you? You might want to start paying attention:
And legal experts fear companies will try to control other aspects of employees' off-duty lifestyle, a trend that is already happening. Some companies are firing, suspending or charging higher insurance premiums to workers who are overweight, have high cholesterol or participate in risky activities.
That's some fucked up stuff - insurance companies are basically telling companies who they can and can't hire based on the possibility that they might one day get sick. Will Gattaca-style DNA tests be next?

The Revenge of George Galloway

Scottish MP George Galloway was kicked out of Tony Blair's Labour Party for opposing the Iraq war. Revenge is sweet. He beat a staunchly pro-Blair Labour Party member and got a seat back in Parliament. If you'll recall, Blair and Bush tried to tar him by alleging they found some "documents" in Iraq that showed payoffs to Galloway for his opposition to the war.

Those documents were phony. And Galloway won a lawsuit against the Telegraph for basically stating otherwise. Well, never one to let sleeping dogs lie, the nut-jobs in the US Senate are now bringing this story up again -- in a feeble attempt to remind the world that anyone opposing the war is a friend of Saddam and anyone against the war on terror is basically interning for al-Qaeda.

Nevertheless, here's a blurb from CNN on Galloway's return (click here for the rest):

To the U.S. Senate he may have been receiving favors from Saddam Hussein, but to the inner London voters who elected him to parliament last week, George Galloway is the only one who speaks their language.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

OK, the floor is open for nominations!

"People focus too much on colors. It could be numbers, it could be animals" -- ex-DHS Sec. Tom Ridge (Newsday, 5/11).

I say it should be drinks. Low threat level? Have a mimosa. Slightly elevated -- switch to Miller Lite to be safe. Medium? Move to gin and tonic. As things get worse, you progress to tequila shots and eventually just slugging Old Crow from the plastic bottle waiting to die in the dirty bomb attack.

The Onion takes on the Texas Cheerleader Crackdown

Yeah, it's hilarious.

Forget prison, what they need is 'tort reform'

Don't get sick in Israel. That's the moral learned after reading a horrific little piece in The Guardian today about the Mengele-inspired medical experiments happening in Israeli hospitals:
"A leading Israeli doctor and medical ethicist has called for the prosecution of doctors responsible for thousands of unauthorised and often illegal experiments on small children and geriatric and psychiatric patients in Israeli hospitals. An investigation by the government watchdog, the state comptroller, has revealed that researchers in 10 public hospitals administered drugs, carried out unauthorised genetic testing or undertook painful surgery on patients unable to give informed consent or without obtaining health ministry approval. At one hospital, staff pierced children's eardrums to apply an experimental medication yet to be approved in any country. At another, patients with senile dementia had their thumbprints applied to consent forms for experimental drugs."
Surely those doctors' high malpractice insurance rates drove them to be irrational with their medical decisions. If they do get prosecuted, those guilty Israeli doctors should move to the US where we've made sure they can't be punished for their negligence or just plain maliciousness.

Taunting?

Not sure if Kos has some sort of insight into what's going on in the Senate or not but thought this post was interesting:

Hey Frist, how about a vote?
by kos
Wed May 11th, 2005 at 08:46:31 PDT

Well, Tuesday went by without a vote on the Nuclear Option. And we all know darn well that Kitten Killer Frist would've done the vote if he had the votes.

Reid called his bluff yesterday, yet no vote. Frist can't even keep his caucus together with a six vote majority (including Cheney tie breaker), and he wants to be president?

Let's have a vote!
I'm all for taunting Frist and the Rs but is the implication here that we have the votes?

Propaganda Pays Well!

In yet another incident in the long-running propaganda campaign being waged by the Bush Administration, the USDA has been caught red-handed paying freelancers for favorable stories on USDA policies. In today's Washington Post, we hear that:

"An Agriculture Department agency paid a freelance writer at least $7,500 to write articles touting federal conservation programs and place them in outdoors magazines, according to agency records and interviews. The Natural Resources Conservation Service hired freelancer Dave Smith in September 2003 to 'research and write articles for hunting and fishing magazines describing the benefits of NRCS Farm Bill programs to wildlife habitat and the environment...'"

The Bushies will wave this one off by saying they were just paying a freelancer to write copy for the USDA, but the "describing the benefits" portion of the contract is what makes it pure propaganda. Speaking of freelancing, we find out later that:

Smith, contracted to craft five stories for $1,875 each, also was to "contact and work magazine editors to place the articles in targeted publications," the records show.

Welcome all propagandists! The government pays better than the private sector!

New Tactic to Fight Wal-Mart??

Today's Independent carries a story in which the ONE Wal-Mart store in Canada that saw its labor force unionize was shut down to "send a message" to other Wal-Mart employees.

A spokesman for the United Food and Tradeworkers Union had this to say:

"In 30 years of union activism, I have never seen anything like it," said Yvon Bellemare, president of the TUAC. He believes the closure of the only store that dared to unionise, "is a Wal-Mart message addressed to the United States and elsewhere to say, 'If you want to unionise, we'll close you down'."

Well, those looking to keep Wal-Mart the hell out of their towns should pay attention. Wal-Mart cares not for your mom-and-pop shops, the asthetic appeal of your neighborhoods, or your zoning laws. They only care if you threaten them with a unionized labor force. Cities wanting to keep Wal-Mart out should include in any 'agreements' with an incoming Wal-Mart that they have to accept AND RESPECT unionized labor or no deal.

Then, let Wal-Mart back out of town with its tail between its legs. Your town stuck up for labor, and you killed a Wal-Mart.

A model for Texas?

Read this piece, and every time it says "LA" mentally insert "Texas". Granted, the labor laws aren't nearly as conducive to this sort of organizing, but I believe there is much to be learned from what Contreras accomplished.

The Man Who Changed L.A.

When Miguel Contreras became leader of the Los Angeles labor movement back in 1996, he inherited a set of time-honored axioms about life and politics under the Southern California sun.

The first was that nobody actually worked in campaigns -- walking precincts, making phone calls. The state and the city were too big for anyone to mount a significant field operation. Campaigns consisted of fundraising and advertising: money in, message out, no activists need apply. The second was that it would take years, perhaps decades, for the wave of Latino immigrants sweeping the state to have an impact on its politics. Republican governor Pete Wilson's Proposition 187 two years earlier, which denied public services to undocumented immigrants, may have riled the Latino community, but the payback, if any, would be a long time coming. And the third
was that the labor movement, in Los Angeles as everywhere else, was shuffling off to Jurassic Park -- a dinosaur incapable of saving itself, much less affecting its environment.

None of this came as news to Miguel, but it somehow never occurred to him that these were realities set in stone. The son of immigrant farmworkers, he had gone to work at 17 for Cesar Chavez's union, where he learned that every so often improbable social transformations were all in a day's, or a decade's, work. Miguel had a decade -- not even, just nine years -- to transform Los Angeles when he died last Friday, at age 52, of a sudden heart attack. The smog and the traffic remain unchanged, but politically the place is unrecognizable.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Jenna Bush Wants to Ruin Your Bar

If I walk into any of my favorite bars in Mount Pleasant or the U-Street Corridor and find Jenna Bush and her seersucker clad, bow-tied entourage doing "The Butt" on the dance floor, please shoot me.

Escaping the pathetic display of what passes for GOP Cool is one of the main reasons I don't drink in Georgetown -- much less that dingy dank tuberculosis trap known as Smith's Point. If I wanted to hang out with a bunch of beligerent drunk Republicans I would have kept working on the Ways and Means Committee.

Now that Her Bushness is going to be warping the minds of little Mount Pleasant schoolchildren, she'll obviously need to find a watering hole within stumbling distance of her job. This means some of my favorite bars are in the Radius of Ruin (Tonic, Raven, Local 16, Stetsons). However, Stetsons's is somewhat innoculated to the impending Republitard takeover since it has long been a haven for Democrats (though, nothing is sacred these days, see: "filibuster").

Well, word has it that JB was spotted recently at Saint Ex -- a sweet cafe with a hoppin' basement. The only saving grace is that St. Ex does not have a jukebox (sorry GOP, no Pat Greene or Alan Jackson for you here), and no pitchers of Bud Ice for her counterparts to play flip cup with.

Besides, isn't there much more of a thrill getting passed the ridiculous velvet-rope that Smith Point sets up to pretend it's not a shithole?

Oh yeah baby, pass me the wasabi peas...

That's about as juicy as my "erog" would be. Don't know what an "erog" is? Well, being the profoundly perverse culture that it is, the Japanese have begun keeping online erotic blogs, now called erogs.

And where there are rogs, there is the Nikkan Erog -- or, The Daily Erog, an online reviewer of rogs. There is also Erogsearch, a Google of sorts for the adult Japanese erog community.

Kyosuke, editor of Nikkan Erog tells the Mainichi Shimbun:

"Eroggers, the name given to the mostly female participants who post saucy pictures onto their erogs, are the hottest current new trend on the (Japanese) Internet. While a lot of them may simply want somebody else to look at them in an erotic situation, in my humble opinion, I'd say there are a lot of eroggers who want people to look at them as 'real women," Kyosuke tells Asahi Geino. "I think a lot of them like getting comments from male readers telling them about how beautiful, or cute they are. Eroggers like the idea that there are guys out there who find their looks attractive and desirable, or who want to make love to them. These are things husbands or boyfriends may often feel but not express."

I guess my only complaint is where the hell are the American erogs? I'd like to judge for myself whether or not these women are beautiful or their photos erotic.

Women of America, unite though Erogs (and send us the URLs)!!!

Frist to go nuclear Thursday?

Semi-credible rumor circulating: Frist will launch nuclear option this week, presumably Thursday, in order to get out front of any Trent Lott-engineered compromise.

"We don't need no water, let the motherfucker burn..."

The funniest book review ever...

OK, for a work project I have been subjected to the forced reading of Thomas Friedman's new book "The World is Flat." Anyone who knows Marvelle knows that I think Friedman is basically mildly-retarded.

I have stumbled upon what may be the best book review I've ever read (grant it, I'm a little partial since it destroys Friedman) in the New York Press. Here's a little snippet:

On an ideological level, Friedman's new book is the worst, most boring kind of middlebrow horseshit. If its literary peculiarities could somehow be removed from the equation, The World Is Flat would appear as no more than an unusually long pamphlet replete with the kind of plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping that passes for thought in this country. It is a tale of a man who walks 10 feet in front of his house armed with a late-model Blackberry and comes back home five minutes later to gush to his wife that hospitals now use the internet to outsource the reading of CAT scans. Man flies on planes, observes the wonders of capitalism, says we're not in Kansas anymore. (He actually says we're not in Kansas anymore.)"

Futhermore, the reviewer thankfully dissects the nonsensical title of Friedman's book:

Friedman, imagining himself Columbus, journeys toward India. Columbus, he notes, traveled in three ships; Friedman "had Lufthansa business class." When he reaches India—Bangalore to be specific—he immediately plays golf. His caddy, he notes with interest, wears a cap with the 3M logo. Surrounding the golf course are billboards for Texas Instruments and Pizza Hut. The Pizza Hut billboard reads: "Gigabites of Taste." Because he sees a Pizza Hut ad on the way to a golf course, something that could never happen in America, Friedman concludes: "No, this definitely wasn't Kansas." After golf, he meets Nilekani, who casually mentions that the playing field is level. A nothing phrase, but Friedman has traveled all the way around the world to hear it. Man travels to India, plays golf, sees Pizza Hut billboard, listens to Indian CEO mutter small talk, writes 470-page book reversing the course of 2000 years of human thought.

Friedman is the worst kind of court scribe. He has duped the Pulitzers into consistently rewarding his hysterical rantings and whored his "prestige" out to the highest bidder. In a word, he sucks.

Why I Love Today's Papers

As some of you may know in a past life I did 'the clips' for a Texas-based public affairs firm. Back in my day the clips process involved taking the hard copies of the major national and Texas newspapers, reading through them looking for relevant stories on the firm's clients, cutting out the important articles, and then photocopying them into massive tree-killing 40-50 page packets. All before 8:30 in the morning when the head honchos strolled into the office.

While it was generally a pain-in-the-ass intern-type job it was an incredible way to see how the daily news plays out, get a true sense of what the term 'pack journalism' means, and learn some of the subtle differences between the major dailies.

For my money, nothing comes closer to giving you the same broad view of what's in the news (without getting newsprint all over your hands) than Slate's incomparable Today's Papers. On most days TP's rotating crew of writers gives you get a great dose of how the majors are covering the day's top stories but occasionally you get the kind of insight that only a true clip monkey can appreciate. Exhibit A from today's TP:

The main thing to keep an eye out for in dispatches about military offensives isn't anything in the stories themselves. It's the datelines. The LAT is the only one of the Big Five filing from the Marines' battle. The difference in coverage is stark.

With their reporters presumably stuck in Baghdad, the other papers basically channel military spokesmen accounts. Skepticism does not abound, nor does careful sourcing. "MARINES KILL 100 FIGHTERS IN SANCTUARY NEAR SYRIA," announces the Post. That figure has issues. As you might notice, most of the papers' stories actually cite "as many as" 100 insurgents killed. (Kind of like TP is "as much as" 6ft. tall). Then turn to the LAT, which quotes the commander in the field puzzling over the hundred figure and saying "a couple of dozen" insurgents were probably killed.

That's only the beginning of the differences.

So unless you had the time to read the top Iraq stories in the WP, NYT, WSJ, USAT, and LAT you probably wouldn't have realized that everyone except the LAT is just publishing Pentagon press releases.

Not only does Today's Papers give readers a nice view of how the dailies stack up, on rare occasions we also get a nice bit of sarcastic editorializing:

Newish NYT op-ed columnist John Tierney bemoans the overwhelming coverage of suicide bombings in Iraq and elsewhere:

If a man-bites-dog story is news and dog-bites-man isn't, why are journalists still so interested in man-blows-up-self stories? I'm not advocating official censorship, but there's no reason the news media can't reconsider their own fondness for covering suicide bombings. A little restraint would give the public a more realistic view of the world's dangers.

There were three car bombs in Baghdad yesterday, killing at least six people. The NYT gives the attacks the most attention. That is, it mentions all three—devoting a single sentence to them.

Hats off to Today's Papers for consistently providing us former clip junkies with enough of a fix to avoid going into withdrawal.

The New York Times Cracks

The Guardian reports today that an internal memo (actually a 16-page report) by a panel inside The New York Times shows they are responding to fears of dwindling readership and credibility charges by "pledging to increase its coverage of religion and the rural areas in the US, while also recruiting journalists who have military experience."

Nevermind the obvious questions about how a reporter remains "objective" when reporting on something as abstract as religion. The part about the military experience for its reporters is what frightens me. We already have Stars & Stripes. Hell, I guess "embedding" regular ol' gung-ho reporters with troops didn't taint the news enough. The irony is that the NYT's Judith Miller basically single-handedly took this nation to war with her dubious sources ("Curveball"?? I mean, for God's sake) and bloodlust tainted reporting.

My advice to The New York Times: Fuck the pretense of objectivity. If you want to be the official mouthpiece for the US military establishment, just do what CNN did and invite the military's psycological warfare experts into your newsroom to CREATE the news it wants.

But clearly, the answer to the NYT's declining credibility is to do feature pieces on Jesus, hire more war-mongering reporters, and cover events like the Annual LaBelle Swamp Cabbage Festival (last weekend of each February).

I can't wait to see what ol' Cletus down in rural Florida (apparently the new audience according to the NYT internal report) thinks of this Sunday's NYT Style section story on how lesbian women also want rings when they get hitched to their partners.



Monday, May 09, 2005

Drummers on a Sunday afternoon

The other weekend, after wandering around town on a gorgeous, sunny day, I wound up in Malcolm X Park in Columbia Heights, heard some music and followed it to the Malcolm X drummers.

There were maybe 20 drummers, with all sorts of drums, percussion instruments, one girl with a cowbell, loosely gathered on benches and stools under a tree, jamming together in the sun.

As soon as I sit down on the grass, an old lady who easily could have been 80 walks up and leans down to hand me a flyer for a protest against the Bush administration later in the month. As I'm sitting there enjoying the music, head down, hand tapping on the ground, I hear a horn. I look up and some guy with a small silver trumpet has walked up, and jumped right in. A little while later, a another guy with a flute adds to the horn section next to the trumpet player.

Between passing out flyers to passerby, the old lady is getting down, dancing barefoot in the grass and I think -- I really hope when I'm her age this is what I'm doing. People walk up, or ride up on their bikes, stop and listen for a half hour and then meander off.

According to a guy named William, who’s been coming to the drum circle since 1969, the group started playing at the Park around the time of the King March on Washington in 1963. He tells me the group is a mix of veterans, a few since the beginning, and new players just learning. In recent years, there's been more of a mix of Latin and African beats. And the group leader, the guy in the middle of the circle occasionally giving instructions during breaks, played drums for Gil Scott-Heron for a dozen years.

William warns that the neighborhood is yuppie-fying, to which I am certainly contributing, but believes the culture won’t let it. Let’s hope he’s right. The drumers are out there every Sunday the weather is good from 3-9 pm.

Austin Election Roundup

In case anyone missed the results from Austin's local election this past Saturday:

  • A smoking ban passed that will make it illegal to smoke "almost everywhere in Austin, including bars and live music venues."

  • Leffingwell and (former Campaign Momentum client) Dunkerley won Place 1 and 4 seats on the city council.

  • Place 3 is still up for grabs and headed to a run-off. Margot Clarke and Jennifer Kim will battle it out in a June 11th run-off. Notable losing was MAP client Mandy Dealey who ended up in 4th place with just 11.2% of the vote.

Full results can be found here.