2006/01/31

Free Speech At the Pleasure of the Police

Right now in Babylon by the Bay (6:15p) a protest is taking place at Union Square. About 800 to 1000 demonstrators are listening to speeches in support of Bush's impeachment. And around the square, on every approaching street...COPS--cops by the hundreds. I estimate about 400, more than a quarter of which are in riot gear and looking itchy. Police cars line the streets for two blocks in every direction, snarling the evening traffic.

Seems that free speech here is now only at the pleasure of the police.

RIP - Coretta Scott King


1928 - 2006.

Like Rosa Parks, Vivian Malone Jones, and all of the other strong, African-American women of the civil rights movement, she will be greatly missed.

Faith-based AIDS Prevention

Not content with simply telling horny American teens to save it for marriage, the Bush administration is taking their abstinence show on the road. Yes indeed, community and church organizations are now competing for a share of the US's $15B AIDS prevention program.

Unfortunately, it seems that organizations like Samaritan's Purse (run by Billy Graham's son Franklin), World Vision, and Catholic Relief Services don't have a lot of experience in dealing with the reality of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa. Refusing to distribute condoms or to work with prostitutes, while at the same time promoting abstinence and fidelity, is putting a crimp in the US program's effectiveness.

But, no matter. With a congressional mandate that 1/3 of all money be targeted toward abstinence and fidelity and pressure from groups like Focus on the Family to halt any outlay that emphasizes prevention through safe sex, prayer may become the only remaining bulwark against the spread of HIV. And then we'll really get our money's worth from a faith-based AIDS prevention program.

...And The Democrat's Rebuttal, A Little Early

Through the miracle of science, the Democrat's rebuttal to the 2006 State of the Union address has already been found. Read it online here.


Thanks to Abi of Update America for teaching those laws of physics whose boss.

2006/01/30

The House That Jack Bought


Check it out over at Thick, Meaty Slices of Brain.

Shortest State of the Union Address Ever


My fellow Americans, tonight I'd like report to you on the state of our glorious union, but frankly many of you don't seem to feel that things are going well, and so I'm takin' steps to correct that.

World-wide, we're fighting the unending battles of the War on T'rrorism. The t'rrorists are on the run, but of course I can't talk about that because...well...because most of it's classified. Now I know that some Americans think that the situation in Iraq isn't too great. So just to make sure that our media doesn't give any aid or comfort to the enemy, I'm hereby classifying all news from the Middle East.

And of course I know that there have been some questions about what we're doing here at home to protect y'all. So let me just say that most of that is classified too, but honestly we've got your best interests at heart. So don't worry. My administration will never abuse the power that Congress, God Almighty, and John Yoo have given us.

At home we're living in a more prosperous nation with opportunities for everyone. Well...'cept that some of you think that poverty is increasing. So from now on, all information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is also going to be classified.

Been a lot of talk about global warming too, but we all know that global warming is a bunch of hooey. So I think we're going to have to classify any information coming from the National Academy of Sciences and our experts at NASA--just to make sure we're all on the same page here.

Frankly, I'd like to say more about the state of our wonderful union, but...I guess just about everything is classified. So let me conclude by saying that we're looking out for ya, and everything is just swell.

Good night, and God bless America.

2006/01/29

White House speechwriters bend space/time?

An article in Monday's N.Y. Times indicates that White House speechwriters have learned the secret to bending the space/time continuum:
"It's never done until it's done," Mr. McGurn said wearily, with three days still to go before the address tomorrow.
Given how ludicrous Bush's State of the Union address usually sounds, Blognonymous humbly suggests that Mr. McGurn use his new found power to work on the speech for about another month.

But fear not dear readers. Blognonymous already has an advance copy of the speech, and you can read it here.

Why We Haven't Caught Bin Laden Yet

My grandfrog used to croak, "If you can't write something smart. Write something dumb...in verse."

Bin Laden's face appears.
George says we have to fear,
Throughout the land
A boogeyman,
Whose death Bush would not cheer.

2006/01/28

Biological Warfare

San Francisco, f-A-ke. P. -

Today Homeland Security forces arrested protestors from People for Ethical Eating That Doesn't Include Meat (PEETDIM) as they hurled cucumbers and eggplant at administration officials. The officials, in the City for meetings to determine how San Francisco could become, "...less of a leftist pain in the ass," later described the incident as a new front in the war on terror.

When asked at today's press briefing for his opinion of the events, Scott McClellan said the following:
Mr. McClellan: We fee--you know the administration has made clear it's position on terrorists, and this is clearly a case of radicals trying to...perpetrating a dangerous kind of biological warfare inside the United States.

Q: Will the administration move aggressively to root out these so-called terrorists?

Mr. McCellan: Well we don't..I mean we're not going to discuss ongoing operations, but let me just say that this definitely validates the surveillance that we've been doing of these radical groups.
Later in the day, at the Annual Dinner for Super Rich Republican Doners, President Bush commented, "I don't like eggplant. It hurts my mouth, and I think Congress should move quickly on an up-or-down vote to ban the sale of eggplant in our great nation."


Thanks to AGITPROP for the inspiration.

2006/01/27

Fostering Democracy...and Poverty In Iraq

Apparently democracy is not the only value that America exports these days. As in the United States, poverty is increasing in Iraq. A new study by the Australian Labour Ministry in cooperation with the IMF and the UN Development Program, indicates that 1 in 5 Iraqis now live below the poverty line as defined by international criteria (one dollar per person, per day), an increase from the pre-invasion days.

So now Iraqi oil production, which is still not up to its pre-war levels, is not only failing to help to finance the reconstruction but it is also failing to prevent the impoverishment of the population.

The Retroactive Signing Statement

In Bu$hCo's rush to claim as much power for the executive as possible, the presidential statement at signing has become an essential tool.

But at Blognonymous we say, why be limited to just those bills that cross the president's desk? Why not attach the president's interpretation to every law? The President knows what's best for us. Shouldn't he have the power to do what it takes protect America? Of course he should, and that includes reinterpreting those pesky laws from the past.

Imagine if Bush could attach his own signing statement to the original FISA Act of 1978. Voila! All of our problems with the illegality of domestic wiretapping magically go away. Reagan could have avoided the whole Iran-Contra debacle by re-interpreting Congress' prohibition on funding the Contras. No more worrying about what the law means--redefine the meaning! Efficiency embodied!

Imagine the benefit to the economy as armies of aids are employed to canvass our laws and provide the administration's own unique perspective. Imagine how our democracy will be reinvigorated. The Federal Code will become Talmudic as each president reinterprets the law to suit his own administration's goals.

Indeed, the time for the Retroactive Signing Statement is at hand.

2006/01/26

In California, Second-hand Smoke Now A Toxic Air Contaminant

Asthma sufferers rejoice. Smoker's howl, and local comptrollers cringe as they imagine new and inventive ways that the state will bust their budgets.

This designation places second-hand smoke in the same category as benzene and arsenic. In other words, the state will now be compelled to assess the impact and take action.

Now, as an asthma sufferer myself, no one was more pleased than I when California imposed bans on smoking in restaurant and bars, but even I can see that attempting to address this will be an unending, unenforceable, budget-busting mess. If we tolerate smoking in our society at all, it must have it's place--in the home, in one's backyard, away from non-smokers...wherever. But, as the Chronicle's article points out, we have no good solution for the children of smokers or anyone else that cannot avoid contact with smokers. So now we have to solve the unsolvable.

Maybe we should have just banned smoking outright.

Alberto Gonzales Is Mightily Confused

A post by Windspike at the Educational Whisper got me to thinking about what I believe is a major problem with the executive under George Bush: Numerous cabinet level members of the Bush administration are simply not doing their jobs. Rather, they're acting like highly compensated cheerleaders for administration policy.

One glaring example of this is the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales and his handling, or rather non-handling, of the NSA wiretapping scandal. The AG recently issued a 42-page legal white paper stating that Bush acted within his powers as a wartime president to prevent another terrorist strike on the United States. But frankly, this is not Gonzales' job. The Attorney General does not defend the President. That is the job of the White House counsel. Nor does he defend the practices of the executive branch to the judiciary, or anybody else for that matter. That's the job of the Solicitor General. So either Gonzales is playing the unabashed Bush crony, or he's simply confused about which job he actually has.

Like any other cabinet member, Gonzales took an oath to, "...protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic", and as Windspike points out that means that Gonzales' loyalties should be to the Constitution not to the man who appointed him. As Attorney General Gonzales' job--DoJ's job--is to investigate and prosecute federal crimes regardless of his personal views, and there is substantial evidence that NSA's domestic wiretapping and Bush's authorizations are not legal.

If Gonzales is incapable of doing his job maybe he should recuse himself...or simply resign.

[Addendum]

Mikevotes at Born at the Crest of the Empire blogged this morning on one particularly interesting aspect of that 42 page defense of administration policy. I won't spoil the horrifying surprise. Just check it out for yourself.

2006/01/25

With Distribution Sown Up, The RIAA/MPAA Attack Innovation

Big Content has made it their mission to destroy any distribution channel that they can't control. Through legal tactics that would make Elliott Spitzer blanch, they've choked off the peer-to-peer networks that could free artists from distribution deals that resemble indentured servitude.

So now with the distribution battle won, the RIAA and MPAA have focused their attention on doing away with innovation. In a new piece of legislation (reviewed at ARS Technica), submitted ostensibly to address the uses of digital broadcast signals, the successor to fair use has been outlined, Customary Historic Use.

Though the arguments are complex, it basically boils down to this: If you have a digital representation of a something--a song, a video--Customary Historic Use would preclude your using that content with any new or novel device in any new way.

So take your CD's, for example. What was the first thing you did when you got an MP3 player? Ripped them all and uploaded them, right? Well if Customary Historic Use had been in play, you could forget it because that would have violated the intended historic use of the digital data. In other words: No new uses; no novel formats; in short...no innovation whatsoever that isn't anticipated by Big Content and their shakedown men, the MPAA and RIAA.

They get to control the content, the distribution, the delivery, and the revenue--entirely!

Katrina non-News Goes On and On

The Democratic Daily, whose reporting we reference on Blognonymous often enough, is reporting the latest bit of Katrina non-news: Another salvo at the Bush administration concerning warnings they received from FEMA 48 hours in advance indicating that the storm's impact on New Orleans would be devastating.

Really!? Is that all there is, and why exactly is this news when a veritable mountain of data and warnings, accumulated before Katrina's landfall, went unheeded?

Christ! In the 5 days before Katrina walloped Louisiana, it tracked without deviation from NOAA's predictions. As early as the 26th, the estimated likelihood of a direct hit on New Orleans stood at 90%. On the 28th, the storm reach category 5 with sustained winds of 175 MPH, the 4th most powerful storm ever recorded, and when it made landfall it did so with storm surges approaching 30 feet. So what more information did the administration need in order to be prepared? Moreover, why does it matter now that FEMA warned the administration? Does it make Bu$hCo look any worse? Does it make FEMA look any better? No and no!

Perhaps the focus should really be on what the administration isn't doing and what the MSM isn't reporting about attempts to rebuild New Orleans and restore the lives of its citizens. For f*ck's sake--Google references over 500 news stories covering this nonsense--all for a topic that deserves exactly ZERO COVERAGE!

2006/01/24

"And when everyone is super, no one will be."

It's done. Disney has bought Pixar Animation Studios in a all-stock deal worth $7.4B.

Wonder if the combined entity will be known as "Pisney" or perhaps "Dixar"?

Will the EU take action over prisoner rendition?

It appears as though Condoleezza Rice and Bu$hCo are going to have to eat some more of their lies as evidence of prisoner rendition to CIA prisons mounts in Europe. Reuters reports that Dick Marty, the EU investigator, has reported on, "...a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing of torture'," to the Council of Europe. He estimates that over 100 people were involved in delivering detainees to prisons and concludes that European governments knew about the program.

But...more interesting than watching Scott McClellan try to lie his way out of this, will be whether or not Franco Frattini follows through with his threat to suspend the voting rights of EU member states that participated in the program.

2006/01/23

Supremely Disconnected

With the Senate Judiciary Committee on the cusp of passing the Alito nomination on to the full Senate, now might be the time to consider why the Supreme Court seems to make so many bad rulings.

The Atlantic Monthly had an interesting article back in September (after Justice O'Connor retired) that observed that many problems with the Court stem from a slate of justices with little or no trial experience. Most have only served in the Federal Appeals system:
...how many remaining justices have ever held elected office? How many have previously served at the highest levels of the executive branch of government? How many have argued big-time commercial lawsuits within the past thirty-five years? How many have ever been either criminal defense lawyers or trial prosecutors? How many have presided over even a single criminal or civil trial? The answers are zero, zero, zero, one, and one, respectively. (David Souter was a New Hampshire prosecutor once upon a time, and later served as a trial judge.)
Though I am in favor of doing everything--anything--necessary to stop the Alito nomination, it is interesting to note that he was, at least, a federal prosecutor who has argued cases both in the federal court system and in front of the Supreme Court.

Justice Spitzer anyone?

Hamas - Fatah for the 00's

The irony of US meddling in the upcoming Palestinian elections, where Hamas is poised to replace Fatah as the dominant party, cannot be understated.

In Sunday's Washington Post, we learn that Bu$hCo has been using USAID funds to influence the Palestinian parliamentary election to the tune of 2 million dollars. Though USAID claims that the money is only being used to ensure that the Palestinian Authority gets credit for existing aid projects, political events resembling Fatah rallies and pervasive newspaper coverage are the real targets for the dough. While at the same time, administration officials are going public with their worries that Hamas may win a majority of seats.

Part of the irony lies in the fact that Hamas, whom the US labels as radical Islamic terrorists, is making a transition to politics while Bu$hCo maneuvers to maintain the status quo. But from 1959 through 1993 (when Fatah renounced violence and returned to Palestine from exile in Tunisia) they were the radical Islamists that the US worked against.

The other part of the irony is found in the statements of US officials. For example, James A. Bever, the USAID mission director, noted that, "We are not favoring any particular party," though clearly...we are. Thus it seems that we truly are giving the Palestinians a real/ taste of American-style democracy. We're showing them how to buy an election.


Thanks to mikevotes at Born at the Crest of the Empire for providing the starting point.

2006/01/22

An Idea Whose Time Should Never Come

In the "Truth is stranger than fiction," category, E! Online turns us on to Michael Jackson's hunt for a job. Seems the self-styled 'King of Schlock' is trying to trade his truly spooky mug and star status for a job as a...get this...entertainment consultant. Bwahahahahahahah!

And what qualifies Mr. Jackson for this august position? Could it be the fact that he squandered a fortune estimated at over $600M? Perhaps it's the fame of being indicted on child molestation charges...twice?! Could it be his long serious of recording flops, extended all the way back to the late 80's? No, it appears AAJ Holdings Ltd., a Bahrainian entertainment conglomerate, wants Jackson for his expertise in developing theme parks and entertainment complexes. [snicker]

Well, at least Jackson's would-be employer is demonstrating it's commitment to diversity. I mean you find anyone whose more of a minority than Jackson.

Support Your Fellow Bloggers

Looking for ways to waste time on a lazy Sunday morning? Why not help out your fellow bloggers?

Drew at Weapons of Mass Distraction could use some help captioning Parsley, Stine, Coulter, and Keys.

Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker (a man with more patriotism in his wittle pinkey than I've got in my whole frog body), needs your suggestions for a new tag line for Spurious George.

Fred Bieling's, Making Conservatives Cringe Since 1977 has got a whole new look. Stop by and give Fred your feedback. (And tell him that those links are too damn dark!)

How much carbon did I produce today?

Until I can get it together to do something more interesting, here's a thought:

Any activity that burns fossil fuel produces carbon, in surprising quantities. Burning a single gallon of gasoline, for example, releases five pounds of carbon--the equivalent of a small bag of charcoal briquettes.

Paul Roberts, The End of Oil

2006/01/21

The Number of DeLay

The Little Deceiver

 

In Blognonymous' recent post about Delay Dementia, our friend E4E asked:

...all of these guys are wearing a new little metallic emblem- no more flag - it is the little round thing...what is it ?

Well after conducting a thorough investigation, Blognonymous has discovered the awful truth.

 



Tom Delay's Satanic Lapel Pin

As you can clearly see in this enhanced photo, DeLay wears...THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST! Yes dear readers, it is the mark of Satan himself. In other words, a great deceiver wears the mark of the Great Deceiver. Explains a lot, doesn't it.

2006/01/20

Best Reason Yet To Support Alito...

Because a Montgomery Co. (Maryland) judge ruled that mooning someone is not illegal, overriding a lower court ruling that might have landed Raymond McNealy of Germantown in prison for 3 years after he exposed his buttocks to his neighbor.

So does this mean that mooning is constitutionally protected speech? Frat boys rejoice, and let's get Alito in there as soon as possible to deal with these activist judges.

...And Doing What It Takes To Ensure His Appointment

Like slipping into the hearing room and annointing the chairs with holy oil, which apparently the Rev. Rob Schenck, who identifies himself as an evangelical Christian and president of the National Clergy Council in Washington, admitted to.

No wonder the Alito hearings went so swimmingly.

[Update 2006/01/23 5:45 AM]

Stephen McArthur (Orwell's Grave), has provided links to pictures of the ministers annointing the doors and praying in front of the hearing chambers.

Department of Justice: 3 - Search Engines: 1

Yahoo, AOL, and MSN said 'da' to a Department of Justice request for search records. Google said 'nyet' and is now the target of Gonzales vs. Google Inc., a motion to compel filed in federal court. And just what is being compelled? Is it records pertaining to an ongoing terrorist investigation? Nope. Data that could help find a serial killer? Nope. Information on Bush's missing legacy? Nope...

...It's porn--good old fashioned, red-blooded, American porn. The government is trying to get Google to hand over a million search records for a one week period from last year so that they can bolster their arguments in defense of the Child Online Protection Act.

So clear those caches! Delete those cookies! Dump those search histories! Alberto is coming for ya porkchop. Unless of course you search with Yahoo!, AOL, or MSN. In which case you're already screwed.

2006/01/19

How come my legs can't get a tax break?

I mean really. The Feds are shelling 'em out to people who buy hybrids--$3400.00 to be exact.

But what I want to know is: Don't I deserve something? I don't even own a car. How come I can't get a big fat tax-break for using leg power and mass transit? So some joker goes out and replaces his Hummer with a Prius...whoopty-f*ckin-do! I've managed to live without a car for 7 of my 10 years in Babylon by the Bay.

I know! How about a sliding scale. Let's see. The average passenger vehicle sold in the US gets 24 miles per gallon (a 20 year low, I might add). I don't think you should get dick if you don't have a car that gets at least 150% of that figure. So let's do this: Starting with the government's $3400.00 credit, they should give out the tax breaks as follows:
  • 48 combined MPG (or better) - You get the full credit
  • 36 combined MPG (150% of average or better) - You get half, $1700.00
  • Below 36 combined MPG - You get nothing
  • Below 18 combined MPG (75% of average) - You pay a $850.00 "guzzler" tax
  • Below 12 combined MPG (50% of average) - You get your car repossessed, it's sold for scrap, and you're forced to walk while little children berate you
So what about those of us who ride, walk, etc... we get the full credit and get to ride along with anybody in the guzzler category whenever we want. So there! My legs feel better already.

Liberty, Security, and Terrorism

John Quarterman's Perilocity has an interesting link to a Scientific American article that discusses the connection between civil liberties and terrorism:
One method to attenuate [suicide bombers], then, is to target dangerous groups that influence individuals, such as Al ­Qaeda. Another method, says Princeton University economist Alan B. Krueger, is to increase the civil liberties of the countries that breed terrorist groups. In an analysis of State Department data on terrorism, Krueger discovered that "countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which have spawned relatively many terrorists, are economically well off yet lacking in civil liberties. Poor countries with a tradition of protecting civil liberties are unlikely to spawn suicide terrorists. Evidently, the freedom to assemble and protest peacefully without interference from the government goes a long way to providing an alternative to terrorism."
Though this analysis was focused on the countries that spawn terrorists, it is a cautionary tale for Bu$hCo, an administration that busies itself with promoting liberty abroad while eliminating liberty at home.

2006/01/18

Study Finds Exercise Helps DeLay Dementia

From the f-A-ke.P. -

New medical studies have conclusively shown that exercise can prevent the onset of DeLay Dementia, a pernicious new malady currently sweeping the American "red-states". The symptoms of this new form of dementia are paranoia, constant mumbling about "those damned l'bruls", and obsessive attempts to get the charges dismissed--even when one isn't accused of a crime.

Doctors recommend that those afflicted with DD engage in a program of rigorous exercise which can slow or even halt the progress of the disease. Recommended exercises include: 30 minutes of perp-walking every day; 10 to 30 criminal-crunches in sets of five; And up to 50 cell-squats. The authors of the study are careful to note however, that the exercises don't appear to be effective in treating Abramoff's Affliction.

(Apologies to the SF Gate for filching the headline.)

Instead of Investigation and Reform, Republicans Offer Cheese

Republicans, in full retreat over the Abramoff corruption scandal, are trying to divert the public's attention with lobbying reform legislation that stinks like Limburger but looks like swiss cheese. WaPo reports that the most recent offering, from Speaker Hastert (R. IL), is riddled with holes.

Does this plan reign in lobbyist gift giving. No. It merely changes the rules slightly to require a simultaneous campaign contribution. Does the plan provide any meaningful campaign finance law reform? No again. It only changes the amount of disclosure lobbyists have to provide--so now we'll know a little earlier who's being fleeced and into to whose pockets the money flows.

Basically what this boils down to is a big smokescreen to cover the fact that Republicans are desperately trying to avoid investigating their own. Even John McCain (R. AZ) is only following the money. Once it's determined where the money went, his committee's work ends. The legislation that was bought and paid for and the ethical problems raised, are issues that are left untouched.

2006/01/17

The End of the Internet As We've Known It

It's no longer academic, Bill Smith, the CTO of BellSouth Corp. has admitted that they are in active discussions with content providers about levying additional charges for reliability and speed.

Blognonymous posted on this back when it was still "a point of view" being put forward by executives of BellSouth and AT&T, but no longer. We're seeing the end of the Internet, as a neutral carrier for content and services, unfold before our eyes. Does anyone really believe that once "pay-for-performance" is in place the telcos won't use this to their advantage? Of course not.

BellSouth claims that they merely need to recover the costs of new protocols and high-bandwidth services, but freezing out competitors, or alternately, slowing their services down just enough to make them useless also provides tremendous advantage. How about blocking a competitor entirely. Got your own version of VoIP? Well then...no need to carry Skype on your network. As for the little guys--bloggers, small businesses, Internet magazines--we risk being frozen out entirely unless we're already partnered with a bigger brother.

Indeed... this is the end of the Internet as we've known it, and no one should feel fine.

Bloggers Anonymous - Get Clean and Stay Clean

Group, we have somebody new with us today. Maybe he'd like to introduce himself and say a little about what he's been going through?

Hi, um...my name is Kvatch, and I'm a "conserv-a-baitor".

HI Kvatch!

You see I started a blog about 8 months ago, and in the beginning I devoted myself to attacking the right. I'd put up links to particularly reactionary sites. I'd add comments that were designed to get a rise out of my opponents. I'd use irony and hyperbole to mock their positions, and what did it get me. Nothing.

Did these heartless right-wingers engage me on my own blog? No. Did I get any links, cross-posts, or even comments? NO! All that ever happened is that I got burned, right down to the ground, ever single day, and you know what? It made me into a jerk. I ignored my hobbies, I stopped going out. I argued with my wife. Blogging consumed me. But worst of all...[sniff]...I ignored the one community that actually cares: The left.

Sorry...[sniff]...excuse me a sec...[mmmrrrrppphhhhh]!

OK...I'm better now.

Like I said, I ignored you my fellow lefty bloggers. Well I say, no more. I'm going kick this. I haven't commented on a right-wing site in almost 48 hours. I'm going get clean and stay clean.

[applause]

And, for the second step in this program, I'm getting rid of the "enemies" list on my blog. So there!

(Did I mention that at least one of those "enemies" will drop below me on the ecosystem rankings just 'cause I remove my link? No? Uh...don't tell anyone. OK?)

Democrats Whine While Ignoring the Real Danger to the Judiciary

In Sunday's NY Times, Senate Democrats whine...a lot and then practically surrender in the battle for the courts:
Disheartened by the administration's success with the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., Democratic leaders say that President Bush is putting an enduring conservative ideological imprint on the nation's judiciary, and that they see little hope of holding off the tide without winning back control of the Senate or the White House.

In interviews, Democrats said the lesson of the Alito hearings was that this White House could put on the bench almost any qualified candidate, even one whom Democrats consider to be ideologically out of step with the country.
Is this the Democratic leadership? Witless crybabies who, apart from not having the cojones to use the full power of the Senate to turn away idealogues, can't even see the greater danger to the judiciary? An "...enduring conservative ideological imprint on the nation's judiciary," certainly sounds scary doesn't it? But I've got something scarier. How about a neutered judiciary, relegated to the role of an administration rubber stamp by executive bullying, congressional threats, and incessant media cries of judicial activism?

Would you prefer that you spineless wimps?!

The plain fact is that most judicial nominees move to the center after their appointments, liberals included. And frankly I'd rather have a judiciary, even conservative tending toward the center, than no judiciary at all. Because the latter is what Bush, the neo-cons, and the bug-eyed right have in mind, a goal they've been working toward since before Bush Sr. was in office.

2006/01/16

Just Wait. This Is Temporary.

For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never." We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

Martin Luther King - Letter from the Birmingham Jail, 16 April 1963


Democrats could take a lesson from Dr. King when it comes to the administration's unchecked acquisition of power. "Just wait. This is temporary." Is exactly the line that the American people are being fed.

[Updated 2006/01/16 16:32 PST]

Al Gore, one politician who apparently "gets it", gave an impassioned speech today at the DAR Constituion Hall, characterizing Bu$hCo's incessant law-breaking for what it is, "...a threat to the very structure of our government". To which Republicans, led by Tracey Schmitt press secretary of the RNC, responded with complete nonsense:
Al Gore's incessant need to insert himself in the headline of the day is almost as glaring as his lack of understanding of the threats facing America
...forgetting, of course, that Gore has barely been in the public eye since a the Supreme Court stole the election from him in 2000.

I think that Gore understands the threats facing America just fine, but here's a refresher for Ms. Schmitt.

The Simple Calculus of Oil

Lew Scannon at Lose the Noose got me thinking about Oil and how it figures into the war so-called war on terrorism. He said, "The War On Terrorism has never been about fighting terrorists." So being the stats junkie that I am, I pulled this from the DoE.

Proven oil reserves for the top 5 nations:

(1) Saudi Arabia, 262B barrels - Friendly (for the moment)
(2) Canada, 179B barrels - Friendly (and weak)
(3) Iran 125B barrels - Hostile (and on deck)
(4) Iraq 115B barrels - Hostile (and in the batter's box)
(5) Kuwait 102B barrels - Ambivalent (but weak and secured)

Striking.

2006/01/15

Goodbye, Tommi?

(cross-posted at I Love Tom DeLay and Last Left Turn Before Hooterville)

I begged him not to go.

"Darling," I cried, "If you only knew how much I need you! "

"I know, my sweet li'l ol' butterbean," he replied gently, brushing a stray blob of grease (or was it a tear?) from the corner of my quivering lower lip.

We met for lunch - perhaps for the last time? - at Hogswallow's Hot Links, an out-of-the-way bar and barbecue joint tucked in between a pawn shop and a check-cashing store down by the railroad tracks. It was dilapidated and foul-smelling, and the food was indifferent at best, but I always thought of it as 'our place'. How many lunch hours had we spent here together, gnawing on gristly porkchops that resembled nothing so much as shoe leather, gazing into each others' eyes and talking about our hopes and dreams? And now my world was falling apart. The man I loved - no, worshiped - was telling me that it was over; that the good times we had shared for so many years were about to come to an end.

"Tommi," I sobbed, clutching at his shirt front, already stained with barbecue sauce and snot, "Please say it isn't true!"

"Aw, now, honey, don't you go to cryin' like that," he said as he disengaged my hands from his shirt and took a swig of his Lone Star - his 9th since we sat down. (And if the truth be told, I think he'd had a few before he got there.)

"But I can't help it, Tommi! I'm so afraid! Everyone's saying the most awful things about you! That you're a...a...swindler and a thief, and...you've been doing all kinds of illegal things...and that you're going to jail forever and ever and ever!" Overcome, I put my greasy napkin to my face and burst into a torrent of tears.

For a moment all was silent save for the sound of my sobs and the braying of Toby Keith blasting from the jukebox, exhorting us to "Get Drunk and Be Somebody" - a request that Tommi was obviously eager to fulfill. Then, to my surprise, Tommi leaned back in his chair and began to laugh. He guffawed until the tears began to roll down his face as well. Then he'd chug another swig of Lone Star and laugh some more.

"What's so funny?" I sniffed, unsuccessfully trying to wipe away the black streaks of Great Lash that had mixed with the grease and tears.

"Oh, cupcake," he said at last, gasping for breath, "I thought you were talkin' about somethin' serious there for a minute!"

"I was, Tommi! This is the end, isn't it? After all, bribery, strong-arming and corruption are serious charges! They'll lock you up and throw away the key! What will I do without you? And it's not just me who needs you, Tommi - what will the Republican Party do without you? They're already falling apart without you there to coerce - I mean, guide them with your wisdom!"

"Now, sweetcakes," he said, his eyes glistening if not exactly focusing, "do you honestly think there's anyone out there that can take on the Hammer and not get their head bashed in? I've already shut down those scurrilous and completely untrue advertisements that some liberal weenies tried to get on the air. Let that other fella - what's his name? Abra - uh, Abra-ham - Abra-cadabra?"

"Abramoff," I whispered. "Jackie-boy, you used to call him."

"I did? Can't say I recall that. Well, anyhoo, like I was sayin', that Abrahoff fella can take the heat for this one. I got too many good friends to ever get in any real trouble. After all, honey, I'm just a bidnessman. Ain't nothin' wrong with bein' a good bidnessman, now, is there? Course not. That's what America is all about. They're just jealous cause I'm so successful. When you're at the top, there's allus sumbody tryin' to take you down. But the Hammer don't swing that way, baby girl."

"You're right," I said softly, feeling ashamed. "I never should have doubted you, Tommi. It's just..."

"It's only for a little while, doll face. Just gotta lay low till this all blows over." He leaned over towards me. "Hey, hon, you gonna drink that beer?" He reached for the Lone Star untouched in front of me.

"N-no, Tommi," I said. "You can have it." Somehow my stomach was feeling a little queasy.

He swilled it down in one long gulp, then smacked his lips appreciatively. "Hoo wee! Hair o' the dog! Hey, Jimmi Sue," he called to the tobacco-chewing slattern behind the bar, "How 'bout a coupla Lone Stars for the road?"

"Sure, Tommi," she drawled. As she set them down on the table along with the check, he picked up his beer, flashed that toothy grin, and blew me a kiss as he ambled out the door into the noon sunshine.

"Call me," I cried as he walked away. I had a feeling it would be a long time before I saw my darling Tommi again.

"Hey, are you going to pay that check or you gonna sit here all day staring out the window?"

I sighed as I reached for my wallet, knowing that somehow, some way, Tommi would be all right.

But would I?

Would I?

National ID Through the Back Door

Sherman, set the wayback machine to 1993. The Clinton administration is talking about a national health ID card, and the public reception runs the gamut from decidedly chilly to downright hostility. Even after 9/11 national ID schemes were unpopular. For example, the enabling legislation for the new Department of Homeland Security precluded the creation of a national ID system.

But like so many federal initiatives in the era of Bu$hCo, what cannot be achieved overtly is achieved covertly--enacted through executive fiat or attached to legislation that purports to be for a different purpose. The Real ID Act of 2005 is one such initiative. Like the Patriot Act, that contained many provisions that were deemed "unpassable" prior to 9/11, the Real ID Act achieves for law enforcement what couldn't be achieved with earlier ID initiatives, all under the guise of helping to control fraud and attached to a bill (last year's funds appropriation for the Iraq war) that had no possibility of failure.

This act requires that state motor vehicle agencies cooperate with the Feds on revamping their licenses to conform to a national standard and to link their databases for the purpose of oversight--in short, an enormous unfunded mandate that will cost the states millions upon millions of dollars.

"Link their databases"? Can you imagine this? 50 states, running on everything from interconnected PC's to ancient legacy mainframes, all trying to talk to the Feds? The possibilities for fraud and abuse (through direct attacks on what will no doubt be a hastily designed system) are mind-boggling. In fact, Bruce Schneier of Counterpane Security notes that the mandate for common "reader" technology will increase the possibilities for identity theft.

Many states are pushing back, highlighting the logistical impossibility of dealing with all of their licensees in a short 3 year time frame. California won't even estimate the cost to deal with all 24 million of its drivers, but suffice to say that it will probably eclipse the $169 million estimated by Virginia, a state with less than 1/4 the number of drivers.

In the end, the sheer impossibility of achieving the goals mandated by Feds by 2008 may be what dooms this enormous waste of taxpayers money, but it is still almost criminal that many millions will be spent anyway on a system that in the end may actually make us less safe, not to mention less private.

Iraq - From $200 Billion to $1 Trillion Plus

$200 Billion - Former presidential economic advisor Larry Lindsey's 2003 estimate of the cost of the Iraq War, a position that was labeled "a gross over-estimation," by the White House.

$357 Billion - The amount appropriated thus far by Congress to finance ongoing military and reconstruction operations in Iraq.

$500 Billion - The amount that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will be the total cost of the war over the next decade using their "mid-range" scenario.

$1.2 Trillion - That's $1,200,000,000,000, the total economic impact of the Iraq War, as estimated in a new paper by economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes.

Uhhh...this is going up like my contractor's estimate to do a new ceiling for my basement. Could we get a second opinion here? Maybe put this out for competitive bid?


Thanks to Orwell's Grave for digging this out of the noise.

2006/01/14

Charity? Hell No! The Tigua Indians Want Their Money Back

The Tigua Indians, one of American's poorer tribes, would like you to know that they could use some of the money that Republican lawmakers are so hot to give to charity these days.

You see the Tigua are in a bind. Their casino, Speaking Rock, remains closed after being shut down under pressure from Texas politicians flush with Abramoff contributions. And where did that money come from? Why from a rival tribe, the Louisiana Coushatta, who spent 4 million in cash that was funneled through Ralph Reed to the lawmakers. But as if that weren't enough, once the job was done, Abramoff then went to the Tigua and promised to lobby to have Speaking Rock reopened if only they would hire his partner, Michael Scanlon, to the tune of 4.2 million. Nothing ever came of that--Big surprise.

So, after being fleeced...twice...by Abramoff and his cohorts, the Tigua would like their money back--thank you very much! Not like that's going to happen. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R. TX) for example, noted that to return the the $3000.00 she received from Abramoff would be an insult to the tribe. Some insult.

2006/01/13

Suspicious Starbucks Suspect Surrenders

From the f-A-ke. P. -

The suspect in a recent bomb-scare at a San Francisco Starbucks was arrested by local police Wednesday. The would-be bomber, possibly an employee of rival purveyor Peet's Coffee and Tea, shouted "Viva la Barrista verdadero!" as he was taken into custody.

Elect "Sven the Impaler" Governor

File this under: You just can't make stuff like this up.

First Minnesotans had "Jesse the Body," and now Jonathon Sharkey, known as "The Impaler", intends to enter gubernatorial race on the Vampyres, Witches, and Pagans ticket. Mr. Sharkey, a worshiper of Lucifer, will no doubt be running on a law and order platform since he's stated his support for impaling terrorists, rapists, drug dealers, and other criminals.

Mr Sharkey has also made it known that he's already a candidate for the 2008 presidential election which brings up the mind boggling concept of "The Impaler" vs. "The Governator".

(Just a short addition: "Sven the Impaler," was Blognonymous' 250th post. One wonders how so much time can be wasted on something so trivial, but God help me, I love it!)

2006/01/12

Democrats - Relentlessly On Message In '06

CV Rick at the Unspunblog has an excellent post on what Democrats need to do to win back the house in '06. "Why the House?" you might ask. "Why not the Senate?" Well, the House is the key to reestablishing the rule of law in this country. For example, though an impeachment can't happen without a conviction in the Senate, there won't be any Articles of Impeachment without a Democratic majority in the House.

Rick makes many excellent points, but I want to focus on the fact that liberals need to adopt the conservative's tactic of being relentlessly on message, even to the point of refusing to explain ourselves. And what is the message? Read on... (Some copied from CV Rick, others added by yours truly):
  • Republican's are pro-torture
  • Republican's don't believe in the rule of law
  • Republican's believe the President is above the law (shades of Richard Nixon)
  • Republican's are corrupt
  • The war in Iraq is a Republican war
  • Republican's trade civil liberties for fictional security
...in short:
  • It's the Republican's fault
Republicans have had unfettered control of the legislative and executive for 5 years now. There can be no more discussion that what has happened in this country is not directly the result of disastrous Republican policies, and Democrats need to mercilessly, relentlessly hammer this message home.

Insult to Injury - Eminent Domain Shenanigans in New Orleans

The Bring Back New Orleans commission has issued a controversial plan to put a four month moratorium on issuing rebuilding permits. Justifiable outraged N.O. residents are accusing the commission of stalling to allow for a "land grab" by developers. Other controversial items in the plan include a discussion of reducing N.O.'s footprint to deal with a smaller projected population and wording that supports the use of eminent domain to deal with neighborhoods that show few signs revitalization.

Interestingly, conservative commentators, who have railed against the eminent domain decision in Kelo vs. New London are noticeably silent when it comes to New Orleans. Just yesterday, Michelle Malkin blogged on the eminent domain controversy surrounding Ohio retirees Joy and Carl Gable, and The Castle Coalition lists many such cases...but nothing about New Orleans.

Apparently when the victims are investors (Kelo) and middle-class whites in Ohio (Gable) or Connecticut (Kelo), it's worthy of the right's attention. But Katrina victims, who aren't even living in their threatened homes, don't rate a mention.

Welcome Alicia...

...our winner in the Shrub Needs A Better Nickname Contest, for a bit of guest blogging. We're honored to have her on board. (Especially since Alicia's blog, Last Left Turn Before Hooterville, gets way more traffic than Blognonymous. :-) [smirk]).

2006/01/11

Enough Social Security Talk - When Ma and Pa Are Dead, I'm Done

Before Bush ramps up his '06 agenda, it's time to preempt one of the more stupid proposals he's sure to make. You listening Mr. President? OK. Here goes...

I don't want to hear another word out of your stinkin' pie-hole about Social Security. You and your advisors couldn't predict what will happen with that program if you had a time-machine and could go and see for yourselves. So I'm here to tell you that I've had enough. I'll do my duty with respect to my parents, but when they're done so am I.

Here's how it's gonna work:
  1. Starting with my next paycheck, I don't pay another dime into Social Security. Moreover, my employer's portion is given to me in the form of salary, and in return I take over my parent's Social Security payments.
  2. Every dollar that I pay to my parents is used to reduce my pre-tax income, 1-for-1.
  3. In addition, over the next 10 years, you arrange to divert what I've already paid into the system into a retirement account that I control (1/10 of that amount each year).
  4. You don't say "boo" about what I do with this money, as long as it's held until retirement. Though in return I'll let you have the employer's portion.
  5. Then, when my parents are dead, you and I don't ever discuss this again!
Will this be a financial loss for me? Maybe, but I doubt it. Either way it'll be worth it not to ever hear another goddamned word about your frickin' Ownership Society.


HT to windspike for his post on the Ownership Society. It reminded me to get this one in the bag.

Your Tax Dollars At Rest

The IRS' own taxpayer advocate has reported to Congress that, rather than go after much bigger fish, the agency is targeting America's working poor by flagging their refunds as fraudulent and then simply holding on to the money.

But that's not all. The IRS' criminal division is also refusing to notify the poor bastards because, "...it's not their policy". Though it turns out that 4 in 5 of those questionable returns are for people who, in fact, deserve their refunds, mostly single parents and families below the poverty line who qualify for the earned income tax credit.

So in return for smacking down the working poor--might net $9 Billion in revenue, might not--the IRS is ignoring the $100 Billion in unreported revenue that could be realized if they went after businesses in the shadow economy.

Way to go IRS! Keep my tax dollars at rest.

2006/01/10

Gimme a "G"..."O"..."P"! What does it spell?

Graft on ParadeGraft On Parade 

Now it's your turn...

Thanks to Neil Shakespeare's Culture of Corruption for the inspiration.

New Weapon in the Arsenal, Bloggers Go to War

A little known clause in the DoJ Reauthorization Act makes anonymous "flaming" on blogs and in email a crime with a doorprize of up to 2 years in the federal pen.

To be sure this is bad news, but imagine how much worse it will get if prominent bloggers take the battle to the opposition by ratting them out to the Feds. Is it so hard to envision Michelle Malkin instructing her army of lawyers to "...fill the jails. Victory over the liberals is at hand!" Or perhaps, KOS' cabal-o-commentators will comb the logs looking for hapless flame-baiters to fry over the federal coals.

Cry havoc, and let's slip the dogs of war!

2006/01/09

(I)'ve (B)een (M)anipulated

Your humble author has all of his retirement in 401K's, wisely investing his nest egg in Halliburton stock and mutual funds focusing on porn and gambling. So it is with great sadness that Blognonymous notes the closing of IBM's pension fund, one of the few remaining "big" defined-benefit plans.

For those of you not familiar with defined-benefit retirement, it's the more "traditional" form that many of our parents and grand-parents had. It defrays risk and, in return for a lower benefit level, guarantees benefits until death which is usually a very good deal for employees with many years of service. Now here's the problem, IBM is not continuing to contribute to the plan, while closing it to new employees. Nope...They're cutting it off, leaving the participants in a horrible financial bind as they get switched over to 401K's for their remaining work years.

For a financially solid company like IBM, this is betrayal of their most loyal employees pure and simple.

Presidential Signing Statements - Incredibly Dangerous Nonsense

Here we have a dangerous little practice where Bush, the president who never saw a bill he didn't like, basically declares his intent to ignore legislation as he signs it into law. Not a veto--a Statement at Signing.

"What? Can he do that?" you might ask. Well, no...actually. The Constitution does not grant the president any such power, and yet Bush frequently tries to circumvent Congress' will by adding these statements. Most recently he used this tactic on the McCain anti-torture amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill. No wonder Bush caved and signed the damn thing. He had no intention of complying with it anyway.

I could go on about how dangerous signing statements are, but frankly BHFRIK at Club Lefty attacks the issue and reduces it to a pile of smoking rubble. I highly recommend his post.

2006/01/08

Homage to Pat and the Missing Rapture

Poor Pat. 5 years into the new millenium and still no sign of the coming Rapture:

Pat Talks To GodThe countdown clock is on the run
Limitation statute's almost done

With no sign, of Christ divine
We shout, cajole, and opine
On all events that might define
Commencement of the end of times

But Sharon's not dead, and Christ's not here
Do we have to wait a thousand years?

2006/01/07

Hubris and Prejudice - The FBI's New Tools

In a recent report, the Justice Department's Inspector General found "no intentional FBI misconduct" in the arrest of Portland Lawyer Brandon Mayfield in connection with the March 2004 Madrid train bombings. However, the report's summary tells a different tale, showing how the FBI screwed the pooch by persecuting Mayfield even after the Spanish National Police concluded that he was the wrong man.

The chronology went like this. On April 13, the Spanish reported their conclusion to the FBI. But...ignoring the Spanish because of their belief in the superiority of skill of their own examiners, the FBI arrested Mayfield on May 6th anyway and held him until the 24th, 5 days after the Spanish positively identified the incriminating print as that of Ouhnane Daoud, the Algerian national eventually charged in the case. The report goes on to note that FBI examiners had already been prejudiced by Mayfield's religion-he is a Muslim-and by his having represented another alleged terrorist.

So let's see if we can sum this up. If you are a Muslim and/or represent alleged terrorists, the FBI is likely to arrest and detain you despite the presence of exonerating evidence.

Maybe the Inspector General should revisit his conclusion.

The Genius of Neil Shakespeare

If you're reading Blognonymous on a Saturday morning, then you really need to get a li--sorry--thanks for stopping by.

But seriously you need to click through to eHarmony.nut, perhaps the funniest blog post your humble author has ever read.

I cower before Neil Shakespeare's genius.

2006/01/06

Hands off me you damn dirty...WHOOPS!

 

Seems Wal-Mart's web-site has some funny notions about what movies to recommend when looking at Planet of the Apes. The suggestion's list contained films about famous black Americans including Martin Luther King Jr. and Dorothy Dandridge.

Damn that's precious. I couldn't make sh*t like this up if I tried.

"Deport-a-Sourcing" - A Revolution For The Global Skills Marketplace

With the Bush administration pushing for all sorts of new federal crimes related to terrorism, illegal immigration, and the like, Blognonymous recently recommended getting rid of pesky trouble-makers by simply deporting them. Criticize the administration? Bang! Off to Egypt with you. Fail to report an illegal immigrant at your work place? Hope you like Mumbai. And in this new legal climate, we would like to propose the next truly breathtaking advance for the global workforce, Deport-a-Sourcing.

Consider: Traditional out-sourcing has limits and global skill markets are stabilizing. So what's a modern, forward-thinking corporation to do but to maximize the value of their existing workforce, and how does that happen? By deporting high-skill workers to countries with lower wage structures and truly shocking cultural differences.

Imagine Joe software engineer, an American citizen who makes a comfortable upper middle-class wage. If you could only force him out of the US, preferably to a country where his salary could be cut in half. Think of the tremendous savings, and that's where Deport-a-Sourcing comes in. Does this schmuck have a blog? Well check it out, and see if you can nail him for sedition. Once he's been stripped of his citizenship and packed off to Turkey offer him his job back at half his original wage--less if you can get away with it. Studies indicate that the shock of this transition will force him to accept any job he can get just to remain employed. Indeed whole departments can be "Deport-a-Sourced", resulting in stunning improvements to your company's bottom line.

Think productivity. Think competitiveness. Think about your shareholders. Contact Blognonymous and learn about Deport-a-Sourcing (TM) today!

Terrorist Midget Thwarted By "No-Fly" List

From the f-A-ke. P. -

A terrorist midget posing as a four year old child was thwarted by Continental Airlines gate agents who found the midget's name on the TSA's unfairly maligned "no-fly" list. Even the midgets plaintive cries of, "I don't want to be on the list. I want to fly and see my grandma," where not enough to fool the eagle-eyed airline representatives.

One of the patriotic agents told the f-A-ke. P. that it was no coincidence that they were on lookout for the shrimpy evildoers. "After all we work at Bush Intercontinental Airport," she said, becoming momentarily misty-eyed.

2006/01/05

A Cold Calculus of Corruption...

...A topic I can't seem to get away from.

The bug-eyed, right-side of the blogsphere is abuzz with the meme, "Well, Democrats did it too. So there!" And to be sure, some Democrats will fall, but don't be fooled my dear readers. WaPo's got the goods:

Contributions from Abramoff through 2004:

Republicans: $3.41 Million
Democrats: $1.33 Million

And, excluding the party apparatuses, where those contributions went:

Republican recipients in the top 20: 14
Democratic recipients in the top 20: 6

Suck on that conservative apologists!

NC and WI Vote Open Source - Whither California?

Following Diebold's retreat from North Carolina in the face of election integrity laws. We now have Wisconsin with a new electronic voting machine law that could, and maybe should, become a model for the nation. Encompassing the open source software requirement, as well as the requirement for a paper trail, this law goes one step further by requiring that the tallying software also be able to validate the election result.

Bruce McPherson, the CA Secretary of State, has refused to recertify Diebold's touch-screen voting machines for the time being, but Diebold is by no means gone. This new Wisconsin law is a model for what should be put in place in California.

Haiku for Jack And Everyone He'll Finger

Are you going to wax poetic with another haiku or more verse for us with this scandel? Those were quite good.

Mike (Can of Worms)


In a sporty hat,
A canary sings aloud.
Distant moans ensue.


Never let it be said that Kvatch isn't sensitive to his adoring public. :-) Now, how about the rest of you budding poets?

2006/01/04

Abramoff Ushers in "Graft on the Cheap"

The most frustrating thing about the Abramoff plea deal is that we're now starting to see some of the scandal's sordid details. Senators and representatives are scrambling all over themselves to give back Abramoff's money, and at Blognonymous we're asking ourselves, "Did these morons really sell themselves out for so little?"

Take Harry Reid (D. NV). He's been linked to a paltry $5000 contribution. Mr. Reid, please tell me that this wasn't really the price at which you peddled your influence. Or Bob Ney (R. Ohio). The man took a frickin' Scottish golf trip on Abramoff's tab. Bob, Bob, Bob...Abramoff enriched himself to the tune of $27 million, and you sold your ass for minor ducats!

Don't you just wish for a time when congressmen really knew the value of their vote? It's no wonder these bozos can't balance the federal budget. They can't even do graft right.

Zeta Comes To Crush Delusions About Global Warming

So for those of you who haven't been keeping tabs on the weather, Zeta, the 27th tropical storm of the 2005 hurricane season--or 1st storm of the 2006 season depending on how you look at it--is still churning in the Atlantic. In fact, Zeta may hit hurricane strength today.

Does this mean that the Atlantic hurricane season is now a year-round affair? Maybe. But no matter what, 2005 was a record-breaker with 27 named storms (the old record was 21) and 14 hurricanes of which 3 reached category 5, two more records for the books.

Say what you will about global warming. There's still one stark fact to consider. Hurricanes don't form and don't strengthen without the presence warm Atlantic water. Epsilon, the 26th storm, was only the 5th hurricane to form in December in history and Zeta may be only the 2nd January hurricane. Think about it.

2006/01/03

Punishing Illegal-Immigrant Aid Doesn't Go Nearly Far Enough

Buried in the recently passed Border Security bill, is a provision that makes it a federal crime to offer assistance to illegal immigrants. Opponents have pointed out that nurses, social workers, and even priests could face up to five years in prison for offering aid to illegal immigrants. Representative F.J. Sensenbrenner Jr. (R. WI), who introduced the legislation, has vigorously defended it, calling into question our nation's flagging respect for it's own immigration laws, and I agree.

But why stop with punishing people who knowingly give services and assistance to illegals. I say let's get the unwitting as well. Give a dollar to a homeless illegal--How about a day in the county lockup? Give to a charity that helps illegal immigrants--Time for a tax audit! Treat an illegal immigrant--Maybe you should lose your license to practice medicine? As for the colleagues and spouses of illegal workers (also mentioned as potential targets) no vague punishments here. Deport 'em! Serve them right for not doing their patriotic duty.

California-Mexico Border FenceJust imagine the collateral benefits of broadening the crackdown. The homeless problem will disappear when it becomes clear that nobody can risk giving even the smallest amounts for fear of helping the wrong sort of person. Charities will have to be accountable directly to the government. (Hey maybe we could put them all under the control of the faith-based initiative and run the whole thing through Homeland Security.) Those deported colleagues of illegals will take their skills overseas, and if we do this right they could keep right on working for their existing employers but at lower cost. We'll call it...deport-a-shoring. And finally, as illegal immigration drops off completely, we'll be able to dismantle the California - Mexico border fence, melt it down, and build monuments to our vision.

So many benefits! Now wonder President Bush praised the legislation, saying:
America is a nation built on the rule of law, and this bill will help us protect our borders and crack down on illegal entry into the United States. Securing our borders is essential to securing the homeland.

2006/01/02

Stone Tablets? Bah! All You Need is John Yoo

John Yoo, the UC Berkeley law professor and former voice of the Lord Almighty for the Bush administration, usually gives dialectics a run for its money, but Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle does a side-splitting analysis of Yoo's convoluted logic here. My favorite quote is:
Who has oversight over the actions of the president?

The president oversees his own actions. If at any time he determines that he is a danger to America, he has the right to wiretap himself, name himself an enemy combatant and spirit himself away to a secret prison in Egypt.

Of Blindness and Hairy Palms

Of the many ridiculous stories of 2005, none was more amusing than the breathless reports of Viagra use causing blindness. I took quite a bit of pleasure in watching the press wring it's hands over this one because frankly the Viagra craze is one that I just don't get.

Here's the thing. I'm now at about the half-way point life-wise and frankly am kind of happy that I don't think about sex every 10 goddamned minutes. It's a monkey off my back. So why the f*ck would I want to use a drug that will help me maintain an erection for hours?

Life is hard for the male of our species. At about the age of 15, you enter what I refer to as "the fog". It's a semi-conscious state where sex intrudes on your thoughts about 4 times an hour, and if you're lucky...really lucky...you may get out of it by your mid to late twenties. Some men don't emerge until their thirties, and some unfortunate slobs don't ever get out of it. I think this last group must be the target audience for Viagra and its competitors.

Just goes to show you that all of those stories about too much sex causing blindness were right. But hey, I don't use Viagra, so I'm not worried. Having to shave my palms, though? That's a real nuisance.

2006/01/01

Bush Regards His Presidency As A "Big One"

No truer words have ever been spoken. With about three years to go, Bush is starting to look toward his legacy, and it may explain what appear to be wholly irrational or delusional acts on his part. I mean, haven't we all wondered how Bush can stay so relentlessly on message about Iraq: "We're winning the war against the terrorists," though plainly we're not; "We're bringing Democracy to the Middle East," though more likely we're merely engineering the breakup of the Iraqi state and interestingly that was not even a goal at the start.

The N.Y. Times has the answer. Bush isn't talking to us when he stares like a dear in the headlights from behind his desk in the Oval Office. He's talking straight to the historians, using the same tactic that has worked so well for the right over the last 3 decades: Keep repeating your assertion until it gains credibility. This is the tactic that has turned liberal into a dirty word in the United States, and Bush believes that it will help him to cement his legacy.

Nonetheless, it is true that Bush's presidency will regarded as a big one. Whether or not Bush is brought down for placing himself above the law, the rights that we've lost may never be restored, the judiciary may never recover it's independence, and the legislative may never again have the opportunity to check the executive. The standard for executive conduct is now so low that whenever a transgression occurs, future administrations will simply point to the history books and say, "Well, nothing I've done is as bad as Bush." Nixon went after his enemies. Bush goes after his enemies, the American people, and the Constitution.

Info From Illegal Surveillance Shared Widely

mikevotes of at Born at the Crest of the Empire caught this in the Washington Post first thing this morning.

Seems that the information from NSA's illegal surveillance program was disseminated widely throughout the government, most importantly to the Defense Intelligence Agency, an agency that has already been caught conducting improper surveillance of peaceful anti-war groups.

This whole mess continues to get worse and worse.

Tagged From One to Six

OK. Helen Wheels of Just Ain't Right tagged me yesterday, and I was too blogged out to respond. But today...

The 1 Republican I ever voted for:
Arnie Carlson for Minnesota Governor

2 great non-fiction books I read and recommend:
The End of Oil, What's The Matter With Kansas

IMHO: The 3 most important duties/obligations in our society:
Vote, serve on a jury, be a part of the political process (campaign, caucus, primary)

The 4 points on the compass where I've lived:
Texas, Minnesota, Virginia, California

5 recent deaths that had me in tears:
Paul Wellstone, Johnny Cash, Rosa Parks, Vivian Malone-Jones, August Wilson

6 things you should divest yourself of (these get more words, because the deserve more words):
Your TV - It's an evil little box, but if you must have one, you choose, don't let the media foist anything on you
Your car(s) - It's an evil little box on wheels, getting rid of it is true freedom
Your addictions - Enjoy everything, but don't ever let any substance control you
Your money - You can't take it with you, spend it, give it, save it for when you'll need it, but don't never hoard it
Your hubris - Face it, you don't know any more than anybody else
Your inhibitions - Do everything--get to the end and be able to say "I'm full. I tried it all."

So for my turn, I'll tag Stacy at Cafe Politico and mikevotes at Born at the Crest of the Empire.