Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans

It's just so fucking awful. There's not really anything to say.

Give to the relief efforts, if you can.

I'm going to drink a large glass of whiskey tonight, listen to When the Levee Breaks very loud, and drink to the waters receding. The Zeppelin version of the song, not the John Campbell version, though that one's good too.

Star-Crossed Times For the Crescent City

By Ken Ringle
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, August 31, 2005; Page C01

And yet, inseparable though they may be, New Orleans has always been more about the dance than about the death. Somewhere in the shade of its majestic live oaks and the shadows of its lacework balconies, among the saxophone riffs in its echoing alleys and the soft magenta glow of its crape myrtles at twilight, the flickering ghosts that haunt New Orleans whisper huskily of sweaty, sensual love and the promise of enduring memory. Even the street names whisper promises: Desire, Amour, Abundance; Pleasure, Treasure and Joy.

It is not comforting to realize that, in the wake of Katrina, bloated bodies are floating on those streets today. But to speak of New Orleans's resilience is simply to cite its history -- a demographic and cultural melting pot of German industry and French and Spanish elitism, of Irish gregariousness and Sicilian emotionalism, of African exuberance and American frontier cussedness that embraces death, too, as a part of life.

Lives, levees and live oaks are merely temporary in any case. Katrina's catastrophes will no more define New Orleans than the Nazi occupation defined Paris, though they may last almost as long.

More Bad Capitol Hill Mojo

Anyone missing a friend?

"D.C. police are investigating the death of a person found in the trunk of a burning car in Southeast Washington early this morning, authorities said. The car was discovered burning about 2 a.m. behind a building in the 900 block of 3rd Street SE on Capitol Hill, police said. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and discovered a badly burned person in the trunk, police said."

Something's Going to Blow Up Somewhere

America wipes the sleep from its eyes...

From the Washington Post:

Rising gas prices and ongoing bloodshed in Iraq continue to take their toll on President Bush, whose standing with the public has sunk to an all-time low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. The survey found Bush's job approval rating at 45 percent, down seven points since January and the lowest ever recorded for the president in Post-ABC surveys. Fifty-three percent disapproved of the job Bush is doing.

Sigh...

More wonderful news from Newraqistan. From The Guardian:

Up to 600 people are reported to have been killed and more than 250 injured in Baghdad, after Shia pilgrims panicked amid reports that a suicide bomber was in their midst.

Police said that the stampede occurred on a bridge over the Tigris river, packed with Shia worshippers during a religious procession. A spokesman said some people were killed in the crush and others fell into the river and drowned when a railing on the bridge collapsed.

Most of those killed in the disaster are believed to be women and children, said interior ministry spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Adnan Abdul-Rahman.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Maybe this will make Marvelle a fan of baseball

I realize this is an old story, but just wanted to prove to Marvelle, an unabashed "hater" of baseball, that the game can truly be an enjoyable event. Maybe not so much for Santorum during this game, but this piece is especially hilarious if you know the parties behind the heckling. I would've provided a link but I am not registered with Roll Call.
No Comity at Stadium as Fans Jeer and Cheer
By Luke Mullins
Roll Call Staff June 27, 2005

As the relentless GOP offense squelched the Democrats’ hopes for their first victory since 2000, a feisty crowd at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium created a spirited and fiercely partisan backdrop to the 44th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.
After the Republicans jumped out to an early 9-0 lead, a group of interns from the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, taunted the Democrats with a chant mocking then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s (D-S.D.) 2004 re-election loss.
“Da-schle! Da-schle! Da-schle!” the group cheered.
Although the chant was ill-taken by the Democratic fans seated near the group, the AEI interns were not apologetic for their behavior.
“Yeah, we were taunting the Daschle crowd,” said 21-year-old Joe Mauzari. “Someone’s got to represent on this side.”
Democratic supporters were no less caustic.
When House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) appeared on the RFK video screen giving two thumbs up to the Republicans’ performance, Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) led the Democratic cheering section in a chant ridiculing the Texas Republican’s relationship with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, now under multiple federal inves

U-S-A! U-S-A!

I wonder what the connection is?

From the AP:

The nation's poverty rate rose to 12.7 percent of the population last year, the fourth consecutive annual increase, the Census Bureau said Tuesday . . . The last decline in overall poverty was in 2000, when 31.1 million people lived under the threshold -- 11.3 percent of the population. Since then, the poverty rate has increased steadily from 11.7 percent in 2001, when the economy slipped into recession, to 12.5 percent in 2003.

Breaking News: Paltrow Issues Public Rebuke for Not Being Private

From the "variety" page of Political Asylum:

It seems ol' Gwynneth Paltrow, ex-fiance of Brad Pitt, has gone public to denounce he and Jennifer Anniston for making their relationship too public.

Apparently her desire for others' discretion doesn't preclude her from giving an exclusive interview to Time magazine (particularly when she has a new movie to promote).

Texas distinguishes itself again

New law could mean death penalty for doctors
Legislators say that wasn't their intent with the abortion measure


It's hard to know whether to be more ashamed of legislators' incompetence in drafting the law or their death-penalty fetish.

"How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?"

Ten.

"1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;

"2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says thelight bulb needs to be changed;

"3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb;

"4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for changing the light bulb or for eternal darkness;

"5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb;

"6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as ajanitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner 'Bulb Accomplished';

"7. One administration insider to resign and in detail reveal how Bush was literally 'in the dark' the whole time;

"8. One to viciously smear No. 7;

"9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy allalong;

"10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Just Plain Brilliant

Anyone who questions Jesse Jackson's intelligence is a fool. From hostage negotiations to this incredible story, Jesse's the man.

Jesse and Rainbow/PUSH may have just swung drastically-reduced oil from Venezuela to be used in the poorest communities in the U.S. This plan was hatched as Jackson was down there to apologize for Pat Robertson's incredible attack of honesty about US foreign policy in Latin America -- and to ask that Christian missionaries will have no bureaucratic reprisals.

Several things stand out to me about this deal:

1) A bigger slap in the face to GW I could not imagine. Not only are his attack dogs getting off the leash, the hated Chavez is now helping the US poor while Bushco is profiting from them.

2) Although this deal is allegedly "cutting out the intermediary," Rainbow/PUSH seems to have some serious sway in where this cheap oil goes. That means some serious pull and some serious financial windfalls.

3) How can Bushco deny these imports at a time when oil prices are over $3 a gallon and we already get 12 percent of our oil from Venezuela?

4) This provides me yet another chance to give props to my man Hugo.

It's all the gay's fault

Church: God Punishing GIs Over Gays

Ah now it is becoming much clearer. So not only is this the reason for America's failings as a nation and oh by the way September 11th, but as of yesterday apparently the soldiers fighting over in Iraq are now lumped into this same group, according to the religious bottom feeders like Falwell and Robertson. Whatever happened to the ol' bible verse "let he who is without sin, cast the first stone"? Jeeze, how do these guys still have a following?

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'
"Falwell, pastor of the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, viewed the attacks as God's judgment on America for "throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked."

Those sage Neocons

I occassionaly find it quite humorous to go back and read old neocon propaganda from the throes of Mess-o-potamia.

One favorite turd blossom is Michael Ledeen of the AEI. This was his actual op-ed the day after the "Mission Accomplished" speech. In his defense, perhaps Ledeen was hypnotized by Bush's codpiece.

From the National Republic:

Wow! Great scene, great speech, who could ask for anything more? He has it exactly right. May I brag? . . . George W. is the most amazing president. How could anyone have imagined that such a man, who lacks all the credentials to conduct foreign policy (he hasn't traveled, he hasn't studied foreign cultures, he doesn't speak foreign languages, his knowledge of world history is skimpy, and he hasn't memorized the last decade of the New York Times) would turn out to have the best foreign-policy instincts imaginable? He reminds me more and more of Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. He has the most important quality of a great leader: He instinctively finds the words to express what the American people believe. . . Now let's get on with the war. Faster, please.

Abramoff a 'person of interest' in Florida gangland slaying?

More on our favorite talmudic scholar in today's Post (please refer to PA's last post on this a few weeks ago for context):

Sonnett [Abramoff's lawyer] also said Fort Lauderdale police have requested an interview with Abramoff in the unsolved 2001 slaying of former SunCruz owner Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, whose death investigators say appeared to have been a planned, gangland-style hit.

"Jack Abramoff has no knowledge of the facts of the murder," Sonnett said.

Take the Wal-Mart Back-to-School Pledge

Hopefully you don't shop at Wal-Mart anyway. Regardless, take a minute and take the AFL's pledge to tell Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott you will not buy back-to-school supplies from Wal-Mart this year.

As the AFL reminds us, "America’s biggest retailer—with $10.3 billion in profits last year—has a shameful record of child labor violations, sex discrimination, low wages and lousy benefits."

Get depressed.

This may be your last opportunity for labor activism before we officially slink off to the dustbin of history, so take action today!

Galloway vs. The "drink-sodden former Trotskyist popinjay"

I wonder if this is on pay-per-view or some kind of live Internet feed.

From The Guardian:

Not since the Rumble in the Jungle, when Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman in Kinshasa in 1974, can there have been such an eagerly anticipated punch-up as the one due to take place in New York in a fortnight.

Odds as to whether the bout will go the distance, or on who can deliver a knockout punch, are already being offered as ring-side seats are sought.

The Grapple in the Big Apple will pit "Gorgeous " George Galloway, the MP, against Cristopher Hitchins, the writer and polemecist, in a public debate over Iraq and US and British foreign policy. Political junkies in America are drooling at the prospect.

(More...)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bust-ed

Global bling, political leaders, pure opulence, a shadowy underworld government organization trafficking in high-end art, Bush finding yet another way to embarass Blair; this Guardian story is just too good:

Blair gives public treasure to White House
Sunday August 28, 2005

A bronze bust of Winston Churchill, owned by the British Government Art Collection and paid for by the taxpayer, is at the centre of a row after it was loaned by Tony Blair to George W Bush.

The renowned Jacob Epstein sculpture that sits in President Bush's Oval Office was loaned to the White House four years ago, on orders from Blair's office, in an unprecedented act outside the strict remit of the collection.

The claim, to be made in a BBC radio documentary on Thursday and supported this weekend by art specialists, forms part of new scrutiny of the GAC and its backroom handling of tens of millions of pounds worth of British art each year.

'This is a little-known government arm that still works in surprising secrecy,' said Mark Whitaker, the reporter and presenter of the Radio 4 investigation. 'But it was clear the GAC are rather embarrassed by the loan to Bush. They could only tell me they didn't think it had happened before.'

The government's huge hidden collection is held inside an anonymous underground storehouse in Soho and contains around 12,000 works of art (five times more than the National Gallery owns).

The curators are given £200,000 a year to buy new pieces and the art is available for government ministers to request for display in their private offices. It is also sent out all over the globe to foreign embassies and consulates.

Intended as a showcase for British cultural life, the work has always stayed inside property owned by Britain. Until, that is, March 2001, when Blair's officials requested the President of the US should be loaned a bust of the British war-time premier.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Putting lipstick on a pig

So today it was reported that:

Stung by Public Distrust,
Drug Makers Seek to Heal Image


By LEILA ABBOUD
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
August 26, 2005; Page B1

The pharmaceutical industry is undertaking a makeover of its public image.


They plan to do this with voluntary limits on consumer advertising and a program to help get drugs to poor people, which I'm sure they will spend more money advertising that they're helping poor people than actually helping poor people.

So they're for helping poor people huh? When the people of California asked them to do so, guess how they responded?

One sign of the public backlash is unfolding in California, where some consumer groups and unions are pushing a ballot initiative that would punish drug companies if they don't reduce their prices to low- and moderate-income people.

Nevertheless, the drug industry still appears to be putting its faith in lobbying. The industry, including its trade group and individual companies, has spent $72.9 million to oppose the initiative, which will come up for a vote on Nov. 8.


Maybe they could have used that $72 million for the poor patients program. Here's another idea: Stop defrauding taxpayers and patients. The same day the story runs about their new PR campaign, the AG of California accused them of price-gouging. Oooh. Bad timing.

Drugmakers inflated prices, Calif. suit claims

By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY

California accused 39 drugmakers of bilking the state's Medicaid program of up to $1 billion through inflated drug prices, in an amended False Claims Act lawsuit the attorney general filed Thursday.

The lawsuit, first brought against Abbott Laboratories and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in 2003, is one of 17 state-led civil actions that accuse the pharmaceutical industry of widespread price manipulation.


And while you're at it, maybe they could stop killing people with drugs they knew were dangerous.

Vioxx is responsible for an estimated 55,000 deaths.

Bush's follies in the MidEast can't even compare to the pharmaceutical body count.

Hang Them the Highest

Fascists are fascists, that's just who they are. Those that provide the intellectual cover and public relations spackle are the ones I'm interested seeing hang from their genitals.

As has become a morbid annual ritual, "journalists" (certainly not grieving mothers) are invited to eat, swim, spoon, and generally just jerk-off in the presence of the leader -- provided that you agree to not share with ANYONE the events of the day.

Their quest? To receive manna from the Almighty known as "access." The trade-off? Their souls.

The "blogosphere," or whatever the hell we are, needs to get a hold of these names and shame these people out of the profession. As for why this is being done, please see the Word for the Day post below.

Word for the Day: Gleichschaltung

Just an interesting little nuggett of historical context for our frustrations.

"[Big Bend] is mine to do with as I wish"

Those are the words of John Poindexter. No, not the uber-spooky head of the failed Pentagon TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS program, but the equally spooky West Texas land baron.

In a rare tidbit of good news from the Backward State, Poindexter's secret bid to acquire 46,000 acres of Big Bend (this writer's favorite part of Texas) was foiled after the, get this, Austin American-Statesman outed the whole deal this week.

What's the big deal? All Poindexter wanted was an ungodly amount of public protected land rich inTexas history to make his West Texas resort even more roomy. From a pissed off Texas Historical Commission member at the hearing:

"The area in question contains 14 recorded pristine archeological sites, and at least 100 additional sites are known," said Larry Oaks, executive director of the Texas Historical Commission. "These sites range from prehistoric rock art to rock shelters and ruins of early historic settlements. There are remnants of Late Prehistoric Cielo Complex dwellings native only to this part of Texas."

Score one for the public. For now.

Skiing in Texas?

Now it makes sense why Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe was the first guest to visit Bush in Crawford at the beginning of his month-long vacation.

Yosemite Bolton & The Ol' Switcheroo

Rejoice oh you poor Africans, for I bring you the Millennium Challenge!

It seems Bushco pulled one over on Africa (and Bono I might add). Turns out some of the "reee-forms" that Ballbuster Bolton was sent to the UN to accomplish involve doing the exact opposite of what the White House has been crooning about for years now in a pathetic attempt to woo black voters before the 2004 elections.

Now, with our unconfirmed, unkempt, and uninvited dipshit to the UN, the White House as waited until three weeks before a major UN meeting to propose almost a 1000 last-minute substantive amendments to a UN draft document:

Mr. Bolton has proposed 750 amendments to the draft and called for immediate talks on them. The Bolton amendments seek to play down the emphasis given to alleviating poverty, and expunge all references to the millennium development goals, including the target for wealthy countries to donate at least 0.7 % of national income to the developing world. America currently gives less than 0.2% in such aid. The changes would also scrap provisions in the draft calling for action against global warming, and remove endorsements of the international criminal court and the comprehensive test-ban treaty. . .

One theory: The whole MC was a bullshit stunt hatched in Rove's shop before the election to grab 2% of the black vote to cover up any Ohio shenanigans (or anywhere else Diebold operates). Then, after seeing no improvement in their numbers, Rove decides to cut the cord and say to hell with Africa and black people altogether.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Here's to prophets

Free and Responsible Search has a great post on Cindy Sheehan.

Walter Brueggemann, Meet Cindy Sheehan

I believe that the proper idiom for the prophet in cutting through the royal numbness and denial is the language of grief, the rhetoric that engages the community in mourning for a funeral they do not want to admit. ... I have been increasingly impressed with the capacity of the prophet to use the language of lament and the symbolic creation of a death scene as a way of bringing to reality what the king must see and will not. -- Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination (1978)


Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside President Bush's vacation home is being interpreted in many divergent ways, but I'm coming to favor this one: A prophet is confronting a king. Walter Brueggemann's Carter-era model of the prophet/king relationship applies so well that it seems ... prophetic.

The key concept in Brueggemann's model is the royal consciousness, which is perhaps the best label I can think of for the attitude that pervades the Bush administration. The royal consciousness believes -- or at least says in public -- that everything is fine. The right people are in power and they are doing the right things. Everything is on track. Everybody should be happy. No mistakes have been made.

[...]

The task of the Prophet is not to put forward a 15-point plan for reform. The Prophet does not come to replace the King and start a new administration. The job of the Prophet is simply to stop the royal consciousness in its tracks, to make it recognize that something is wrong. People are suffering. People are dying. Life out in the kingdom is not just bike rides and motorcades and helicopter flights to million-dollar fund-raising dinners.

[...]

Cindy Sheehan doesn't bring an answer, she brings a question: Why did my son die?

She has not come to us as a saint, an angel, or some other holy and transcendent being. The prophets in their own era were nobodies. They were without honor. They were poor, dirty, uneducated. Undoubtedly their families were ashamed of them.

The prophets used cheap theatrics. It's easy to imagine the frustration of King Zedekiah when Jeremiah started wandering through Jerusalem with a yoke around his neck: That's not a plan! That's not a program! It's just a stunt!

Camping out in Crawford is a stunt too. That's what prophets do. They are not planners, technocrats, diplomats, or philosophers. They channel the grief of a numbed society. And they open the door to dreams of renewal.

Lakoff on "Tort Reform"

I couldn't agree more. Trial lawyers, are you listening?

George Lakoff Discusses "Tort Reform"

Restrictions on tort lawsuits and other kinds of lawsuits are issues near and dear to conservative hearts. The following interview with Rockridge Senior Fellow, George Lakoff, explores various aspects of “tort reform,” including the manner in which conservatives have framed the discussion, the problem with the progressive response so far, and ideas for more effective progressive framing of the debate.

Q: What are some of those frames?

Lakoff: To begin, the very phrase “tort reform” evokes a frame. In two words, it communicates that something is the matter with the tort system, which requires reform or correction. In this respect, the phrase is similar to another effective conservative phrase, “tax relief.” Once the public accepts these phrases, they have bought into the idea that they need to be relieved from the affliction of taxes and that they need to fix the tort system. The debate then turns to the question of how and how much. At that point, progressives can’t win the debate; the best we can do is limit the losses.

[...]

Q: Have consumer advocates, trial lawyers, and other progressives had much success responding to these conservative frames?

Lakoff: No. Despite spending great sums of money, they have had very little success, as we’ve seen with all the new tort reform legislation at both the state and federal levels. And more legislation is in the pipeline.

Q: To what do you attribute this lack of success?

Lakoff: The primary reason is that the progressive groups you mention have fought the fight on the “tort reformers’” turf, that is they have merely offered facts to rebut the conservatives’ frames, leaving the frames intact. They’ve tried to show that lawsuits aren’t frivolous, that lawyers aren’t greedy, that plaintiffs are genuinely aggrieved. It’s like Nixon saying, “I am not a crook,” which made everyone think of Nixon as a crook. As I said before, once you go down that road you’ve already lost the fight. It’s only a question of how badly.

Q: What’s the alternative?

Lakoff: First, we have to recognize that when the right wing says “tort reform,” what they really mean is destruction of the civil justice system. Just what is the civil justice system? Most people have a frame for the criminal justice system, but not the for the civil justice system. Since a corporation isn't literally a person, it can't be put in jail for performing harmful or murderous acts. When corporations engage in practices that harm or kill people, the only way through the legal system to punish them and give them an incentive to stop their harmful practices is to sue them and make them pay.

In the civil justice system, the trial is in the form of a lawsuit. The victims of harm are the plaintiffs and the defendants are typically corporations. The roles of police and prosecutors are played by the plaintiffs' lawyers. The victims come to lawyers (the only police). The lawyers search for evidence of harmful corporate behavior. The plaintiffs' lawyers act as prosecutors. The punishments are of two kinds: compensatory damages (compensating victims for harm); and punitive damages (punishing corporations that do harm).

Since a billion-dollar corporation cannot be imprisoned, only very large compensatory and punitive damages can provide sufficient disincentives from doing harm. Given the current climate of less and less regulation of business and increasingly lax or underfunded enforcement of what regulations remain, the civil justice system is rapidly becoming society’s only line of defense. Without it, the unscrupulous can and will run roughshod over the American people, maiming people, making them seriously ill, and sometimes killing them — all in the name of profit. Limiting profits is the only deterrence in many cases. Bear in mind that conservative voters believe in deterrence. It’s a basis for their support of the death penalty, for example. Conservatives also believe in the concept of being responsible and accountable. It relates to their strict father family model for society and government that I’ve written about.

How do you clear a room full of neo-conservatives?

Send in an Army recruiter.

Hehe.

Bye, bye Walter Reed

Commission Votes to Close Walter Reed Army Medical Center

A federal panel voted Thursday to close the District's historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center and to move 9,000 military and civilian defense jobs from Arlington and Alexandria to military bases outside the Beltway despite concerns about the traffic problems such a move could cause.

[...]

The Pentagon had proposed closing Walter Reed and expanding the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda into a new facility called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, keeping the well-known name. The District would lose 5,630 jobs in the move.


DC residents, call your Senators at 202-224-3121 and get them to save Walter Reed and local jobs!

Screw the American Legion

Yeah, you heard that right. Check out this post on Whiskey Bar.

Evil trial lawyers???

Isn't it funny how it's always the rich and powerful leading the crusade against "trial lawyers" and "frivolous lawsuits", but when its something in their own interest they are the first to file suit. Irony within the conservative movement never ceases to amaze me.

From The Times Picayune:

"Are you aware that President Bush graduated from our school?" Whitham said, according to Robichaux. "There's nothing funny about this -- we could go further. . . . And do you have the resources to fight this?"

Whitham had him there. "Resources" don't exactly grow on trees around the New Orleans campus.

Phillips of Andover, by contrast, boasts an endowment of $566 million -- more than the entire budget of the Orleans Parish school system. In its 227th year, the high school of 1,000 students offers a teacher-pupil ratio of 5-to-1. After taking classes in, say, Japanese or the classics, students can recreate at 18 tennis courts, eight squash courts or two dance studios, among other delights.

Pupils at KIPP: Phillips Academy, serving 125 eighth-graders this year, will be struggling to improve lackluster test scores and avoid the dropout track that awaits about half of New Orleans students. Whatever squash they've experienced came on a dinner plate.

This is just damn funny

Bodyguards tackle Ali G

Los Angeles - Sacha Baron Cohen aka Ali G was dunked in the sea by Pamela Anderson's bodyguards - after rugby-tackling the actress at her dogs' wedding.

The Ali G star was dressed as his other creation, Kazakhstani TV journalist Borat, when he pulled the stunt.

Cohen, 33, in trunks, leather jacket and Village People-style cap, emerged from the surf on an inflatable turtle.

His rugby tackle sent Pam, 38, hurtling to the sand on the beach at Malibu, California.

Concerned security men grabbed the comedian and dragged him into the sea.

Pam was presiding over the nuptials of her Golden Retriever Star to Chihuahua Luca. - Ananova.com


Cap Lounge

In case anyone hasn't heard yet (via Stakeholder):

It looks like careless smoking caused the fire that destroyed a Capitol Hill tavern early Wednesday.

D.C. Fire and EMS spokeswoman Catherine Friedman tells WTOP the two-alarm fire caused significant damage to the Capitol Lounge.

The fire started in the bar and no one was injured, she says.

The Payoff

I guess this might be the reason why Blair stuck by the U.S. through this whole "War on terror" campaign.


TONY Blair is expected to join one of the most exclusive groups of businessmen in the world after he leaves Downing Street.
The PM is being lined up for a highly lucrative position with the Carlyle Group - an American-based investment giant with strong links to the White House and the defence industry.

DLC to the Rescue of the Democratic Party. Not!

I am so sick of hearing that Democrats need to compromise on our principles, give up the fight to protect reproductive rights, stop fighting for civil rights for homosexuals, and get cozy with corporations in order to win elections.

Who recommends that we do these things? The DLC, for one; its claim to fame is its link to the two Clinton presidential victories.

Interesting, though, how the pro-DLC wing of the party fails to mention the slow and steady decline of the Democrats in the House and Senate during the DLC's ascendancy. Or that Clinton, the DLC darling, never even won 50% of the vote (his winning percentages were 43% and 49%).

Visit Sirotablog and read David Sirota's thoughts on the DLC's latest debacle:

The DLC has agreed to participate in a Heritage Foundation event entitled "Did the Progressives Destroy America?"

WTF? To even justify the idea that progressives (who have been behind every great movement in this country from the abolition of slavery to women's suffrage and workers' rights) are destroying America is to play into the hands of Buchanan, Hannity, Perle, and Rove. It is destructive, grotesque, shocking, and certainly not the act of a group that purports to promote the Democratic Party. We know who is destroying America and it sure as hell isn't the progressives.

Why in the world would any Democratic group ever want to participate in any Heritage Foundation event? There are no swing voters in the audience, as Sirota points out, so even that paper-thin argument doesn't hold water.

Hmmm . . . so does DLC stand for Destroy Liberal Causes? Or the Democratic Losers Council?

Will the real Captain Cuckoo Bananas Please Stand up?

OK, so this is not real news, but it sure is fun!

Tom Cruise Has Lived Before!

Cruise, 43, told how he has known and loved his latest fiancee, Dawson's Creek star Katie Holmes, "many times in many lives before".

He said: "When I was languishing in prison before being sent to exile, she used to send me notes hidden inthe collar of her pug dog. She's my eternal soulmate."

* * *

And at his news conference, a Scientology-themed event with selected reporters from his fan club's newsletter, he claimed that Brooke was the lover of the founder of modern psychiatry, Sigmund Freud, in a previous life.

He said: "I could tell you stories about Brooke.

"She was the mistress of Sigmund Freud, you know. Is it any wonder she promotes his discredited theories? She's so confused.


I hear he gives money to Democrats, so maybe we shouldn't be so hard on him. You might be thinking that we can use his crazy somehow, but we never we able to exploit Ashcroft's crazy, so your plan better be good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

No lip-synching in Turkmenistan

Well I guess the Ying Yang Twins, Mike Jones, and all the boy bands of the world will have to alter their Turkmenistan concert plans with the news of President Niyazov banning gold teeth and lip-synching there. He cited lip-synching as "a negative effect on the development of singing and musical art". Maybe Hollywood and the music industry should take heed of this wise man

"Don't kill talents by using lip-synching ... Create our new culture."

Pat Robertson now lying, blaming AP

The best part about this article is not that Pat Robertson got caught telling an outright lie, but that he's blaming the AP for misinterpretting him. Dems/Liberals/Progressives should take note. This is what the Right does - blame the media whenever there's something negative about them in the media. No matter how true anything the media writes may be, if the Right doesn't like it they just blame the media.
"I didn't say 'assassination,'" clarified Robertson during a broadcast of his "The 700 Club" Wednesday morning. "I said our special forces should go 'take him out,' and 'take him out' could be a number of things, including kidnapping."

He blamed The Associated Press for making him seem to advocate the assassination of a foreign leader.

"There are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him," Robertson said. "I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time."

However, during the original "700 Club" broadcast Monday night, Robertson clearly mentioned assassination.

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we are trying to assassinate him, we should go ahead and do it," Robertson said Monday.

Just a fun article about Shiner

from Stuart Elliott's advertising newsletter on NYTimes.com, which I highly recommend if you're interested in that sort of thing.

A Whimsical Campaign for Regional Beer

There are 51 employees at the brewery, and they're real people who have real jobs," Mr. Finnigan says. "And when you look at most of them, almost all of them, these aren't in-and-out workers; there's not a lot of turnover and a lot of them have history, a grandfather or father or brother worked at the brewery."

"These people live and die for Shiner beer," he adds, "and we thought it was a great tribute" to them to feature them in the campaign.

One print ad shows an oversized portrait of John Hybner, who worked for Shiner for 39 years and was the company's brew master from 1972 until he retired on June 1. "Shiner's first hospital was above a bar," the ad reads. "Pretty much says it all."

A second print ad depicts a maintenance supervisor. The headline: "One post office. One traffic light. Seven bars. Clearly we have our priorities straight." In a third ad, a quality-control employee appears under this headline: "We hear in some towns beer gut is a derogatory term. Go figure." All the print ads are decorated with vintage snap shots of Shiner and the brewery.

"It is all about the beer for them," says Mark McGarrah, partner at McGarrah/Jessee, "and that's what we're tapping into."


I love Shiner.

Well it is nice to see that we have now made Iraq worse off than when it was under Saddam's rule, which is hard to fathom, but yes, we managed to accomplish such an impossible feat. I am sure from statements like this...

"This is the future of the new Iraqi government - it will be in the hands of the clerics," said Dr. Raja Kuzai, a secular Shiite member of the Assembly.
...we've got nothing to worry about. Besides what wrong or harmful comments could possibly be uttered when you have religious fanatics influencing government officials? I guess "progress" in Iraq is like their Assembly seats for women, just "transitional". Here are some excerpts of the "progress" we have made there.
The secular leaders said the draft, which was presented to the National Assembly on Monday, contains language that not only establishes the primacy of Islam as the country's official religion, but appears to grant judges wide latitude to strike down legislation that may contravene the faith. [ OH JOY!]
The courts would rely on Shariah, which under most interpretations grants women substantially fewer rights than men. [TO QUOTE GEORGE CONSTANZA IN THE EPISODE WHERE HE IS BUSTED FOR SLEEPING WITH THE CLEANING LADY @ WORK, " Is that wrong?"]
Language reserving a quarter of the Assembly's seats for women has been relegated to a section of the constitution labeled transitional, which is of uncertain legal force and duration. Another phrase declares that education is mandatory only through elementary school. [ ALOT OF COUNTRIES ARE RUN BY LEADERS WITH AN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION, LOOK AT OURS]
Secular Iraqi leaders say there are three areas in the constitution that worry them. While they say the constitution would change nothing by itself, they worry about the language establishing Islam as the official religion of the state and as "a primary source of legislation." The constitution then says there can be no law that contradicts the "basic beliefs of Islam." [WELL THIS IS SIMILIAR TO THE UNITED STATES IF YOU SUBSTITUTED CHRISTIANITY FOR ISLAM...RIGHT?]

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Desecrating Graves to Promote the War

This is just sick:
Unlike earlier wars, nearly all Arlington National Cemetery gravestones for troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are inscribed with the slogan-like operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts.

[...]

The vast majority of military gravestones from other eras are inscribed with just the basic, required information: name, rank, military branch, date of death and, if applicable, the war and foreign country in which the person served.

Families are supposed to have final approval over what goes on the tombstones. That hasn't always happened.

Nadia and Robert McCaffrey, whose son Patrick was killed in Iraq in June 2004, said "Operation Iraqi Freedom" ended up on his government-supplied headstone in Oceanside, Calif., without family approval.

"I was a little taken aback," Robert McCaffrey said, describing his reaction when he first saw the operation name on Patrick's tombstone. "They certainly didn't ask my wife; they didn't ask me." He said Patrick's widow told him she had not been asked either.

"In one way, I feel it's taking advantage to a small degree," McCaffrey said. "Patrick did not want to be there, that is a definite fact."

The owner of the company that has been making gravestones for Arlington and other national cemeteries for nearly two decades is uncomfortable, too.

"It just seems a little brazen that that's put on stones," said Jeff Martell, owner of Granite Industries of Vermont. "It seems like it might be connected to politics."
First of all, this is just a craven desecration of soldiers graves for purely political reasons. If you want to say "Iraq War" that's one thing, but using the bullshit slogans created for TV is just sickening.

Secondly, is this really a smart way to promote a war? They don't want us to see the flag-draped coffins but gravestones with lame slogans are a good idea?

LIVESTRONG eh???

Now I know he is in a tough position to criticize and all, but I would think that if you can come out against Bush on cancer research funding and the Iraq war during a nationally televised interview you could at least mention it during a 17 mile bike ride. Then again with this administration even a 7 time winner of the Tour de France could be banished to Gitmo.

Does this count as a Bushism?

So at his press conference (Bush Comments on Protest Efforts) the President says ofCindy Sheehan, "She doesn't represent the views of a lot of families I have met with."

Well, of course not, you fucking dolt, but she does represent the views of a lot of families you haven't met with! That's why you haven't met with them!

I wish the GWB would listen to this guy:

Mother deserves meeting, and apology, from Bush
DeWayne Wickham

Mr. President, you should gently caress Sheehan's hands and assure her that her son didn't die in Iraq because you wanted to settle an old score. Tell her the reference you made to Saddam as "the guy who tried to kill my dad" during a 2002 speech, in which you laid out the case for war with Iraq, was a meaningless coincidence.

And tell Sheehan that when you said "bring them on" the following year, as resistance to the American occupation of Iraq began to stiffen, that you didn't mean to taunt insurgents from the safety of the White House while U.S. forces in that country were left to deal with their deadly response.

Just be honest and say you lost it for a moment. I think Sheehan will understand, given the emotional roller coaster she has been on since getting word that her son was killed five days after arriving in Iraq.

If at some point Sheehan gives you a sympathetic look, use this opening to say how sorry you are that more than 90% of the nearly 1,900 U.S. servicemen and women who have been killed in Iraq died after you triumphantly proclaimed an end to "major combat operations" in that nation.

He Must Have Been Smoking Something

From the Hotline, original AP article here:

33


VERMONT: Dubie On The
Web (Though Careful
When Googling "Dubie")

LG Brian Dubie (R) "insists that he has made no decision about what political office he might seek." But his Web site invites contributions to "Brian Dubie -- Senatorial Exploratory." Dubie: "The web site is a fact and it speaks for itself. The election will soon be upon us. ... I did revise the Web site to put certain options on the table. But that (a SEN bid) is an option on the table. I haven't made that announcement. I'm not making that announcement. But it's on the table."

The site allows contributions up to $2.1K, although the limit for statewide, non-federal office in VT is $400. Dubie: "I haven't raised a nickel (toward a SEN run.) I haven't asked for a nickel." He "said the site was not working to take donations." The AP tested the site and was unable to make a $5 donation.

He "hinted that he is close" to a decision. Dubie: "But now it seems with the fair season coming around, and a change in the weather, it's about time for me to make a decision and make an announcement" (Gram, AP, 8/22).
That's like five mistakes all rolled into one. Fail.

A wormhole to the French Quarter

I agree with DCist. These guys will make you stop and listen.

A Little Night Music

We crossed Dupont Circle after our staff meeting last night, marveling at how in D.C., even parks full of people relaxing are still somehow frantic. As we crossed the circle, we saw our hands-down favorite bunch of street performers. We don’t know their official name, but they are a squadron of joyous, soulful trombones with percussive accompaniment. They’re out there in the heat and the cold, performing a colossal public service by lifting the spirits of hundreds of people every night they perform.

We would love to interview them on the spot, but their mouths are always full of trombone. We have no idea who they are, why they do what they do, where they come from or how they got here ... but perhaps there is a wormhole in the fabric of space-time connecting Dupont Circle with an alley in New Orleans’ French Quarter.


From DCist contributor Jeff Simmermon

Oh my God, these people scare me.

It's a religious round-up this morning. Sadly, though these read like satire, they are not.

First, the religious wackos in the US finally decided to get into the fatwa business. Actually, considering Eric Rudolph, I guess they already were, but here's another one:

Televangelist Calls for Assassination of Chavez
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) -- Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."


Nice how he combined Cold War and the "Global War on Terror" into one. Venezuela is everything you fear all together!


"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's "The 700 Club."

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."


Apparently Robertson didn't get the CIA memo that it's not cool to talk publicly about killing the democratically-elected leaders of other countries. And, speaking of the CIA, I think it's odd that the AP cites the Agency as a source for export statistics (see below). Wouldn't you think you'd get that info from the US Trade Office or an economist?


Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporter and a major supplier of oil to the United States. The CIA estimates that U.S. markets absorb almost 59 percent of Venezuela's total exports.


Sometimes I think the only reason God allows Pat Robertson to continue to exist on this planet is to provide fodder for Barry Lynn's direct mail fundraising letters.




























Next is:

Grooming Politicians for Christ
Evangelical programs on Capitol Hill seek to mold a new generation of leaders who will answer not to voters, but to God.



WASHINGTON — In the blue and gold elegance of the House speaker's private dining room, Jeremy Bouma bowed his head before eight young men and women who hope to one day lead the nation. He prayed that they might find wisdom in the Bible — and govern by its word.

"Holy Father, we thank you for providing us with guidance," said Bouma, who works for an influential televangelist. "Thank you, Lord, for these students. Build them up as your warriors and your ambassadors on Capitol Hill."
"Amen," the students murmured. Then they picked up their pens expectantly.

Nearly every Monday for six months, as many as a dozen congressional aides — many of them aspiring politicians — have gathered over takeout dinners to mine the Bible for ancient wisdom on modern policy debates about tax rates, foreign aid, education, cloning and the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Through seminars taught by conservative college professors and devout members of Congress, the students learn that serving country means first and always serving Christ.

They learn to view every vote as a religious duty, and to consider compromise a sin.

[...]

Such programs share a commitment to developing leaders who read the Bible as a blueprint.

As Kennedy put it: "If we leave it to man to decide what's good and evil, there will be chaos."

[...]

Growing up in rural West Virginia, Echard believed passionately in her church's teachings against abortion, but thought little about such issues as economic policy or foreign trade.

The institute gave her a framework for evaluating those topics.

Now the director of the Eagle Forum, a conservative lobbying group founded by Phyllis Schlafly, Echard says Jesus would approve of a call for lower taxes: "God calls on us to be stewards of our [own] money."

She dips into the Bible to explain her opposition to most global treaties, reasoning that Americans have a holy obligation to protect their God-given freedom by avoiding foreign entanglements.





George Roller, left, of the Center for Christian Statesmanship, and Jeremy Bouma, of the Statesmanship Institute, help offer seminars for members of Congress and staff, teaching them to mine the Bible for ancient wisdom on modern policy.
(Andrew Councill / For The Times)


So the Bible instructs them to speak out on tax policy, stem cells, and CAFTA, but how about an issue I know Jesus would have cared about (seeing as how things went down, you know?).

Where's the Christian outrage over Lena Baker? Or the countless others like her who sit on death rows in Texas, Florida, Virginia, etc? Will they eventually get their pardons, like she did, decades too late?

Maid pardoned 60 years after execution


ALBANY, Georgia (AP) -- The only woman ever executed in Georgia's electric chair is being granted a posthumous pardon, 60 years after the black maid was put to death for killing a white man she claimed held her in slavery and threatened her life.


As the Washington Post editorialized:


It is tempting to believe that these tragedies don't happen anymore, that the death penalty now is more protective of innocent life. Indeed, trial standards are undoubtedly higher; southern states are no longer organized governmental conspiracies against the rights of African Americans; and capital appeals today ensure layers of review totally absent then.

Yet injustice is a resilient pestilence that -- like drug-resistant bacteria -- has myriad ways of defeating the best human attempts to eliminate it. And Americans who believe the death penalty is foolproof are simply kidding themselves. DNA testing has caused many people to be freed from death row, illustrating the fallibility of even modern trials. And recently prosecutors in St. Louis reopened the case of a man executed by the state of Missouri back in 1995 -- no longer being convinced that the state had killed the right person. As long as the death penalty persists, cases like Ms. Baker's -- where recompense is impossible -- are inevitable.

I got your silver ring thing right here...

This is what our tax dollars are paying for under the Bush administration:

The action comes three months after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against HHS, accusing the administration of using tax dollars to promote Christianity. In documents filed in federal court in Boston, the ACLU alleged that the activities, brochures and Web site of Silver Ring Thing were "permeated with religion" and use "taxpayer dollars to promote religious content, instruction and indoctrination."

Teenage graduates of the program sign a covenant "before God Almighty" to remain virgins and earn a silver ring inscribed with a Bible passage reminding them to "keep clear of sexual sin." Many of its events are held at churches.

In filings with the Internal Revenue Service, the organization describes its mission as "evangelistic ministry" with an emphasis on "evangelistic crusade planning."

Representatives of the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit describe Silver Ring Thing as a "faith-based" group but dispute charges it has commingled its public funds with religious activities.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Trays of mint juleps

That's the way to go.

Writer lights up crowd in grand finale

By Jeff Kass, Rocky Mountain News
August 22, 2005

WOODY CREEK - Ho Ho.

That was one of Hunter S. Thompson's favorite expressions and what he might have said Saturday night as his ashes - mixed with fireworks and shot over a 153-foot fist sculpture - sprinkled an awestruck crowd of close friends and family holding champagne glasses and seeped into the rustic property he called his "psychic anchor."

[...]

Fist symbols were projected into the sky like Batman logos, and a decorative peyote button embedded in the fist-shaped monument pulsed blue, orange, red and green.

Boulders surrounded the tower, and Thompson's "red shark" - a red Chevy convertible - was parked nearby. The passenger and driver seats were occupied by blow-up sex dolls. Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man, as the gonzo journalist had requested, played after his ashes were launched.

[...]

Trays of mint juleps - a nod to Thompson's Kentucky roots - greeted visitors who walked up a stairway and into the bar area. A portrait-sized photo of Thompson holding a dagger was surrounded by images of the most influential writers in his life, such as Joseph Conrad and Mark Twain.




The cremated remains of writer Hunter S. Thompson explode amid fireworks over his 42-acre Woody Creek property.

The director of Breakfast with Hunter, a documentary about HST, was on hand to film it. Wonder if they'll be a follow-up documentary...



Pop!

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Insurance Industry--Multiplying Billable Hours for Defense Lawyers!

Yup, the lawsuit that alleges that the Texas Association of Business violated Texas campaign finance law has been expanded to include Cigna, Ace American, Connecticut General, and other insurance companies. For an industry known for lawyer-bashing, its activites sure are generating a lot more work for the defense bar. Good for them.

From the Austin-American Statesman:

"A lawsuit against the Texas Association of Business has been expanded to include several corporate donors, most of them insurance companies, that financed the association's 2002 direct-mail campaign that's part of a grand jury investigation.

Austin lawyer Buck Wood, representing three former Democratic candidates who were opposed by the association, now has named eight corporations as defendants: AT&T Corp., Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co., Ace American Insurance Co., Aetna Inc., Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., United Healthcare of Texas, Cigna Healthcare of Texas Inc. and America's Health Insurance Plans.

More corporations might be added as defendants, Wood said.

The Texas Association of Business, the state's largest business organization, spent about $1.7 million of corporate money on ads mailed to voters in two dozen crucial state legislative campaigns. The effort was paid for by donations, from $100 to $300,000, from 30 or so firms.

The ads touted Republicans and criticized Democrats. Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle is investigating whether the ads violated the state ban against corporate money being spent on campaign activities.

Lawyers for the association have argued that the ads did not advocate the election or defeat of anyone because they avoided using words such as "elect," "support," "oppose" or "defeat." They said the ads educated voters about the issues."

Um, yeah, they "educated" voters how to vote for Republicans and against Democrats. Um, I think that kind of "education" is called propaganda.

And that's not how it is supposed to work in a democracy , is it?

Whatever.

Can we bring Begala back?

He helped us win the last successful Dem campaign. He can actually talk like a normal human being; you actually get the impression he is a normal human being and interacts with such. Not like Shrum, who lives in a cave somewhere. Plus, Begala's a Longhorn.

Anyway, this was linked from Kos the other day. I have nothing to add, other than damn right.

Anti-War Imagery and the Iconography of Hate

By Paul Begala

I don't think they taught Larry Chad to desecrate crosses at the Columbus Avenue Baptist Church. And I doubt his Army buddies from Vietnam are proud to see him running over American flags and disrespecting a memorial for the war dead.
So what could drive a true-blue - or should I say Bush red? - American patriot to commit such a heinous act

Such is the hatred of the far right at the dawn of the 21st Century. And my how the optical worm has turned. Today it is the left invoking faith, flag and family, while the right destroys crosses. Today it is the left that honors the war dead, raises up a Gold Star Mother and publicly prays for our troops, while the right viciously attacks a woman who gave her country everything. Today it is the left that patiently and peacefully respects the Office of the Presidency, while the right diminishes the office by claiming it's more important for the President to go bike-riding with a sports hero than comfort the mother of a war hero.

For the last two presidential elections it has been the Democratic Party whose nominee was a Vietnam War veteran, while the Republicans have sputtered out spurious defenses of their candidate's deceitful draft-dodging.

On Thursday, Dick Cheney, who said he had "other priorities" in the Vietnam era, and so helped himself to five draft deferments, will address the 73rd Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. I do not think he will express remorse for the callousness with which he explained his cowardice. Nor do I expect him to apologize for the shocking, mocking Republicans who, at their New York Convention a year ago, sported Band-Aids with tiny purple hearts to mock the blood shed by John Kerry and so many other heroes in that misbegotten war.

No, Mr. Cheney, surrounded by body guards who would gladly give their life for him, will no doubt wrap himself in the flag. A flag Larry Chad Northern wrapped around his axle on Prairie Chapel Road.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Two Thumbs Up for “A Patriot Act”

No, not the USA PATRIOT Act, the law enforcement establishment’s wet dream of a bill that un-Constitutionally infringes on our civil tights and liberties. You know, the bill the Bush Administration and its allies rushed through Congress in the aftermath of 9/11.

No, I’m referring to “A Patriot Act,” the New York Theatre Workshop production featuring Mark Crispin Miller, available on DVD.

I recently purchased and viewed this DVD, which sets out a bold case for the proposition that Shrub, Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the Professor, and Maryann (ok, not the last two) are the vanguard of a new theocractic, fascistic movement that desires to conquer this country and the world.

Miller points out that Bush and friends are not really hypocrites because they are not content to just wear one face in public and another at home. They are much worse than hypocrites. They actually project their vile thoughts and habits onto others. When they call others cowardly, immoral, or even evil, it is because that is what they know they themselves are.

You may be thinking that this is all old-hat, stuff you already know on some level or another. You may be right, but Miller puts it all together in a uniquely entertaining and absolutely frightening way. This film is scarier than the Exorcist, the Shining, and Psycho combined (mostly because it's real). Miller’s done his homework on the facts, and it’s hard to argue with his logic. Perhaps this is the film we should have taken our token Republican friends to see last summer instead of Fahrenheit 9/11.

Well, it’s never too late to see the Bushco Neocons for the self-hating jihadists they are. Watch this video. I’ll even let you borrow my copy.

Loud indignation against vice often stands for virtue in the eyes of bigots. Jean Petit-Senn

Diebold Voting Machines Pivotal in San Diego Mayoral Race

I know, I know, this is all tinfoil hatter stuff, but check it anyway:

On July 25, San Diego held a special election for a new mayor. Currently mayor-less, America's Finest City, now known as "Enron by the Sea," was the scene of a contested election last November after the courts blocked the victory of write-in candidate Donna Frye because hundreds of her supporters wrote in her name, but forgot to black in the corresponding bubble.

This was an exercise in anti-democracy if you ask me.

To get enough people in San Diego, a city with the dirtiest politics west of Chicago (and which won't even vote to increase property taxes by like a buck fifty after the worst wildfires in California history racked the county) to agree to vote for a write-in candidate is a miracle.

To have a judge rule against counting those historic votes was depressing.

To have a second chance threatened by Diebold machines is criminal.

Of the July 25 results, Raw Story reports:

[A] nonpartisan citizens' group that conducted a parallel election has requested a recount of 11 precincts. This time, the issue isn't unmarked bubbles, but the accuracy of Diebold Accu-Vote optical scan voting machines and the Diebold GEMS central tabulator used to count votes.

The Citizens Audit Parallel Election (CAPE) asked voters exiting polls to vote again and sign a log book attesting to the accuracy of their second vote. Sealed parallel election ballots were counted at KGTV's studio with a TV camera crew filming the counting process.

Nearly 50 percent of all voters participated in the parallel election, which included five polling places representing 11 precincts. The sample included more conservative than liberal precincts, with participation as high among Republicans as among Democrats. The tandem election results showed what most feel to be startling results.

"There is a shift of four percent of the vote, consistently," Joe Prizzi, (engineer and physicist,) reported at a press conference held by CAPE in front of City Hall. Frye received 50.2 percent of the votes cast in the parallel election - enough for an outright victory if those results reflect the outcome citywide. CAPE also found that the official count added approximately 2 percent to each of Frye's two Republican opponents, Jerry Sanders and Steve Francis.

* * *

A team of statisticians from California State University- Northridge - have analyzed the data from CAPE, concluding that the probability of luck or chance as the cause of the observed four percent deviation is less than one in 1,300 - or .000678.


All hope is not lost, but Donna will face an uphill battle against a unified Republican opposition during the run-off.

Coincidence? Sure, and so were Florida, and Ohio, and that little tiny mistake about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

San Diego may be on the front lines of voting reform, which is a great place to be for a city that has been a Republican stronghold and rabidly anti-union for its entire existence. As Bob Dylan, said, "times, they are a changin'."

Anyone concerned about black box voting should follow this story!

Wal-Mart + Booze = ?

So apparently Wal-Mart has started selling booze in some locations. From the Center for American Progress:
Wal-Mart's corporate strategy relies heavily on portraying itself as a family-friendly place to shop. No CDs with offensive lyrics. No magazines with objectionable cover photos. No trampy, single-mother Barbie dolls. All that flies out the window, however, when faced with the promise of more money. The mega-store now, contrary to its family-friendly image, is stocking its shelves with booze. The company's favorite trick to boost profits: "planting a liquor store just over the border of a state or county with restrictive booze laws." It's also finding ways to skirt local laws about selling alcohol. In Florida, for example, "it has gotten around a law restricting the sale of liquor in grocery stores by walling off the liquor department and building a separate entrance in some of its new stores." For more on Wal-Mart's family-friendly policies, see this article on Wal-Mart selling guns to minors and convicted felons.
I'm not one to ever oppose anything that might make that sweet nectar booze cheaper, but the hypocrisy here is just too much. I'll be buying my scotch at the local liquor store, thank you.

Random Thought: Maybe if Wal-Mart starts driving local liquor stores out of business we'll start to see a real revolt against their BS. Drunks of the world unite!

Follow-up Random Thought: I'd love to work field trying to organize drunks.

U.S. Attorney's Office Seeks CA Rep. Duke Cunningham's Home

Now we're talking! You know it is serious when the U.S. Attorney's Office takes time out of schedule to go after you.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

The U.S. Attorney's Office has filed a secret lawsuit against Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham that contends he should forfeit his Rancho Santa Fe home to the government because it was purchased with illegally obtained money.

Notice of the lawsuit and the government's interest in the property was filed with the San Diego County Recorder's Office.

* * *

The home – a five-bedroom, eight-bath Spanish colonial estate on Via Del Charro – was listed for sale yesterday for $3.5 million. However, the U.S. attorney's declaration that it has a claim on the property makes a sale difficult if not impossible for the time being, local real estate agents said.


Why would the USAO want the Duke's house? Because he violated 18 U.S.C. 201 (the anti-bribery statute), perhaps? If they can get Cunningham, they can get DeLay. It is only a matter of time.

Can anyone say competitive race in CA-50?

For more info on Rep. Cunningham, see this previous post.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Plumbers Are Back

And we're getting rat-fucked.

From the AP:

WASHINGTON -- A file folder containing papers from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' work on affirmative action more than 20 years ago disappeared from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library after its review by two lawyers from the White House and the Justice Department in July, officials at the library and the National Archives said. Archivists said the lawyers returned the file but it now cannot be located.

"Diplomatic Immunity Asshole"

That line was perhaps the only good thing to come out of the trainwreck that was Lethal Weapon 2. The line was uttered by a South African diplomat who was caught by Riggs and Murtauh for illegal acts.

What's less funny is that it's basically the same message coming from Panzerkardinal Ratzinger with regard to his cover-up of molestations in Houston (one of the many he helped cover upduring his stint as the Grand Inquisitor):

Lawyers for Pope Benedict XVI have asked President Bush to declare the pontiff immune from liability in a lawsuit that accuses him of conspiring to cover up the molestation of three boys by a seminarian in Houston, court records show. The Vatican's embassy in Washington sent a diplomatic memo to the State Department on May 20 requesting immunity because the pope is the head of state, papers show.

I'm not too concerned though, there's a grander Grand Inquisitor that will deal with this scumbag very soon (and he doesn't like Nazis either).



Pobrecito Henry

The Hill: Cuellar's colleagues want him out

Several of Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Texas) Democratic colleagues are not supporting the moderate freshman’s reelection bid, instead opting to back one of his challengers, former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D), a popular former lawmaker who lost to Cuellar last fall by 58 votes.

Democratic Reps. Charlie Rangel (N.Y.), Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) and Ted Strickland (Ohio) contributed to Rodriguez’s campaign in the first half of this year, according to Federal Election Commission filings, and at least eight more members attended a fundraiser for Rodriguez held in Washington last month.

Rodriguez and another Hispanic candidate, Richard Raymond, are Cuellar’s two likely challengers in the April 11 primary. Members rarely contribute against each other, preferring instead to follow the diplomatic policy of supporting incumbents.


I say good, let's follow the Schoeting route and take pseudo-Dems out in the primary. Cuellar is personally an asshole and professionally a corporate whore. On issues like CAFTA, bankruptcy, fair tax policy, Social Security, patients rights, etc, he votes with the Rs.

He's a Rick Perry-supporting, school voucher-backing, opportunist who showed his true colors in the 2004 race, when he took advantage of the R re-redistricting plan to run a vicious campaign against someone who helped him raise tons of money in his poorly-run campaign against Bonilla in 2002.

Maybe we had to settle for Republican-lite in a Charlie Stenholm district, but we shouldn't have to take it in a district that's Laredo and some of the poorest parts of San Antonio.

That all said, I'd be supporting Richard Raymond in the primary. I agree with the Frost assessment:

"Richard can compete with Cuellar head-on in his natural political base, never having to concede any voting bloc or geographic area. … In a race with such significant long-term ramifications, we should set our emotions aside and support the candidate with the best chance to win," Frost said. He went on to criticize Cuellar, comparing him to Texas Democrat-turned-Republican Phil Gramm and noting his "long record of betraying his party."


Ciro had a great voting record in the House. We need more people like him in Congress, but he ran a shitty campaign in '04, and lost a seat we didn't need to lose. He refused to acknowledge the changing shape of the district and didn't campaign in Laredo until it was too late -- foolishly counting on the courts to restore his old district. He fired staff who pressed him to campaign more aggressively early on (no one needed to tell Doggett to hoof it down to S. Texas when the plan went through). It was uninspired, and doesn't bode well for this go-around.

Raymond's a good Dem generally, and an experienced, focused campaigner. I hope he kicks Henry's ass. Maybe Henry can run for Nuevo Laredo police commissioner then.

That said -- one disappointment about Raymond is his vote to prohibit gays from adopting. He's on the wrong side of history on that one, and I hope looks back on it as Byrd does his KKK days.

A list of Cindy Sheehan vigils in DC tonight

Click here if you are interested in finding out locations in DC for the nationwide candlelight vigil tonight (7:30 p.m.) in honor of Cindy Sheehan.

(It'd be nice if all these vigils joined together for one big one. But, that's life in the progressive movement.)

More suited for the Onion

Turns out our Supreme Leader is supposedly reading books this summer in between his benders in Crawford and hiding from Cindy Sheehan. No word yet on whether or not he's finished My Pet Goat (he's had 4 years now).

The reading list includes:

Salt: A World History (no comment necessary)

Alexander II: the Last Great Tsar (A2 was famous for his anti-Semite policies and his suppression of national movements)

The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History (a Bush biography)

Those crazy Palestinians...

More news from Gazapalooza:

"An Israeli woman believed to be a hardline protester set herself on fire at a roadblock in the southern Israeli town of Netivot, not far from Gaza, Ha'aretz said, citing Israeli police sources. The woman reportedly suffered burns on more than 60% of her body and is being treated in hospital.

One female soldier was reported to have suffered a minor injury after being stabbed with a medical needle by a protester at the Morag settlement, the website of the Israeli daily Ha'aretz said. . .

Protesters at Neve Dekalim, some as young as 12, flailed about as troops dragged them onto removal buses. "I want to die," screamed one youth as he was hauled away. . .

Some wore T-shirts with Nazi-era imagery, including stars of David. As soldiers arrived to drop off packing cases, which children have been burning, settlers shouted at them: "Nazi ... refuse orders ... Jews don't expel Jews."

One trailer had a poster on it reading, "Judenrein," the German word for "Jew-free" used by Adolf Hitler. The use of Nazi imagery by protesters has caused an uproar in Israel.

UT climbs to #36 in world rankings

The University of Texas is ranked the 36th best university in the world based on research prowess according to an annual report by Shanghai's Jiao Tong University -- considered the best measure of the academic world. UT climbs up from number 40 last year. An amazing feat for a state that is lurching back to feudal times.

Go Horns.

(Oh, and for Political Junkette, UCLA is ranked #14 -- but who's counting?)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Arrest Made in Cross Hit and Run Incident at Camp Casey

From Raw Story:

"AUGUST 16--Meet Larry Northern. The Texas man, 59, was arrested last night and charged with criminal mischief for allegedly driving his pickup truck over wooden crosses erected near the roadside campsite of Cindy Sheehan, the California woman who has brought her antiwar protest to President George W. Bush's Crawford doorstep. A row of the memorial crosses, which carry the names of U.S. soldiers killed during the Iraq war, were destroyed when Northern, a Waco resident, allegedly drove his truck (which was dragging a pipe and chains) over them."

I guess he asked himself "What would Jesus do?," and Jesus responded, "I would run down a bunch of crosses symbolizing soldier's lives lost in Iraq as a reult of Bush's lies."

What is it with "Larry"s anyway? It was a Larry who shot over the crowd at Camp Casey the other night. Loser.

New Yorker Gets Kinky

You know you're for real when the that yankee rag the New Yorker writes about ya, right?
Kinky has no stump speech; he just talks. “Seventy-one per cent of eligible voters in Texas did not vote in the last gubernatorial election,” he told a crowd of six or seven hundred at a public fund-raising event later that night in a Houston design store. “And what that means to me is that Texans aren't happy with the choices they're being given.” The crowd ate it up, buying Kinky posters and T-shirts (“KINKY2006: WHY THE HELL NOT?”) like fans at a rock concert desperate for proof that they had seen their idol. There were a few hundred more of them than anyone had expected—Republicans and Democrats, blond society ladies with industrialstrength hair styles and balding hippies with ponytails, heavily tattooed bikers with necks like fire hydrants, lawyers in three-thousand-dollar suits, and hipster twenty-somethings with T-shirts that said things like “Jesusland: pop. 59,459,765” (a slightly inaccurate reference to the number of votes cast for George W. Bush in 2004). The size and the seriousness of the crowd, as well as its deeply strange composition, seemed to take Kinky aback a little, and he shot Jewford a bemused grin.

More on the civil justice system

If the civil justice system wasn't so important to keep corporations from knowingly killing people, it wouldn't be attacked so much. For those of you who lost it in this poorly formatted blog, Political Junkette had an insightful, incisive post about the medical malpractice bill passed by the U.S. House.

Go read it, and then come back.
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OK, you're back. (I know some of you never left, can't follow instructions can you?)

Anyway, I wholeheartedly agree with Junkette's assessment. Here's two other points of outrage to consider.

1. The rhetoric about the bill is stopping FRIVOLOUS suits. Ok, stop frivolous suits. How does limiting recovery for wrongful death, paralysis, disfigurement, impotence, etc at $250,000 have anything to do with frivolous suits?

Perversely, it only affects the most meritorious suits! What it does do is limit the liability of insurers. I wish we could question R members of Congress from the back mic, like in the Texas lege. I'd love to ask one of 'em if they thought $250,000 max would be fair compensation for the negligent death of one of their kids. Consider that Bush's salary is $400,000 a year. Many of the Chamber lobbyists working for the bill make $250,000 a year easy. That's the value of human life to the party of evangelical Christians?

2. If the bill was really about helping doctors with high insurance premiums, why didn't it have any provision to require a rate rollback from the insurance companies, and why did it give liability protection to the drug industry, which most recently killed 55,000 Americans?

Could it be -- as shocking as the cliched gambling in a Moroccan casino -- that this Congress is as full as corporate whores as the Texas Legislature?

Why do we lose these fights? Because we lost the PR war over the civil justice system long ago. It's defined in popular culture and popular opinion not by its benefits to victims and society at large, but by its flaws and excesses. Sometimes those flaws and excesses -- frivolous suits for instance -- aren't even real, as this LAT piece shows.

Legal Urban Legends Hold Sway
Tall tales of outrageous jury awards have helped bolster business-led campaigns to overhaul the civil justice system.

Merv Grazinski set his Winnebago on cruise control, slid away from the wheel and went back to fix a cup of coffee.

You can guess what happened next: The rudderless, driverless Winnebago crashed.

Grazinski blamed the manufacturer for not warning against such a maneuver in the owner's manual. He sued and won $1.75 million.

His jackpot would seem to erase any doubt that the legal system has lost its mind. Indeed, the Grazinski case has been cited often as evidence of the need to limit lawsuits and jury awards.

There's just one problem: The story is a complete fabrication.

[...]

Besides the Grazinski saga, there's the mythical case of Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pa., who got into an argument with her boyfriend in a restaurant, threw a drink at him and then broke her tailbone when she slipped on the wet spot on the floor. Naturally, Carson sued — and won $113,500.

Then there's Kara Walton, a Delaware woman so eager to avoid a $3.50 cover charge that she tried sneaking into a nightclub through a bathroom window but fell and lost a couple of teeth. Walton sued and won $12,000 plus payment of dental bills.

A database search shows the Grazinski, Carson and Walton tales have been cited as true by a wide range of media outlets, including CNN; U.S. News & World Report; the American Spectator; the Oakland Tribune; the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram; the Deseret News of Salt Lake City; the Akron Beacon-Journal; the Greensboro, N.C., News & Record; and the Augusta, Ga., Chronicle.


Yeah, besides the made up cases, people do sometimes file stupid stuff, but it gets dismissed. That's the way the system works. Keep the courthouse doors open for everyone, but throw the nuts out before it gets to a trial.

And, for the final outrage of this rant -- just wait until the medical malpractice bill reaches the Senate -- wonder how this guy will vote?