From the NY Post's Sunday story on esteemed film critic Roger Ebert:Kids can be so cruel.ROGER Ebert may just be the most misunderstood figure in Hollywood.At least they got the names of "the fat one" and "the dead one" correct. Unfortunately for "new, seemingly-retarded one" Richard Roeper, the fact-checkers stopped there. See you on the corrections page, Richard!
Still known as "the fat one" opposite Gene Siskel (who died in 1999), and now opposite co-host Eric Roeper, Ebert, 62, is now down to a nearly svelte 186 pounds. But has anyone noticed? [bold ours]
Monday, January 31, 2005
[W]hen told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories. ***From the AP.
When asked whether people should be allowed to express unpopular views, 97 percent of teachers and 99 percent of school principals said yes. Only 83 percent of students did.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
A Keyes comment . . .Well, now we know that Ben Goldberger reads blogs.
There may be rumbles conservative GOPer Alan Keyes is eyeing a bid for governor, but we are now breathing a sigh of relief. It won't be next time around.
*To wit: According to the state Constitution, Keyes would have to be a resident of the state for three years preceding his election ... and that would nix a bid this time around by the very recent Maryland resident.
But not to worry, Sneed didn't steal her scoop regarding Bill Murray's a $7 million Martha's Vineyard "pad" from the Capitolfax.
Friday, January 28, 2005
"Rumble is former Republican U.S. Senate candidate/nightmare Alan Keyes is eyeing a bid for governor," the Chicago Sun Times' Michael Sneed reports.Backshot: Rich Miller of Capitolfax.com discredited this rumor yesterday:
But everyone who might be afraid (or pleased) that Alan Keyes might run for governor should look at this section:Upshot: The Political Wire soon added this update:SECTION 3. ELIGIBILITYHe can't run for governor.
To be eligible to hold the office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller or Treasurer, a person must be a United States citizen, at least 25 years old, and a resident of this State for the three years preceding his election.
A Political Wire reader notes the Illinois Constitution states a governor must be "a resident of this State for the three years preceding his election." Keyes would not be eligible.Moneyshot: We can all use this unfortunate incident to learn a valuable lesson:
One should only link to Sneed's column for the purpose of satire or parody. Sneed's column should never be linked to as though it were a news source.Doing so will just make you look like a "Sneed."
(some minor editing of quotes)
Thursday, January 27, 2005
"The Punisher" is based on one of Marvel's darker "heroes." Frank Castle (a.k.a. The Punisher) is a murderer who can no longer use vengeance as an excuse. His family was gunned down in a mob hit, but he's long since excised his pound of flesh. He'd now need a dump truck to carry around his retribution. His saving grace is that he only kills criminals -- carjackers, pimps, gangsters and drug dealers.Finally, a video game that not only improves the eye-hand coordination of children, but also qualifies them for a position in the Bush administration.
Castle's targets are in large supply in "The Punisher." Each of the game's 16 missions is buzzing with the criminal element, but like Rockstar's "Grand Theft Auto," Volition introduces an element of consequence to Castle's actions. Most base-level criminals aren't worth saving, and the game almost implores you to gut them without a second thought. But there are certain thugs who not only possess information that may help Castle, but also could, if persuaded, help him.
These special criminals are often noted with a small skull icon over their heads. Get in close and grab the crook to put him in a hold, then interrogate him by applying pressure to his neck or punching him until he sings.
But not all interrogations are created equal in "The Punisher." If you drag one of these roughs to a glowing spot -- usually near a piece of machinery or a ledge -- you can exercise an extreme Q&A session. These scenes often result in pretty intense violence, such as pulling a lowlife apart with a crane or goring him with a rhino.
Swimming among killer whales and tangling with a bull moose are just two of the practical tips offered in Wild at Heart by the American evangelist John Eldredge, who calls for men to rediscover God by modelling themselves on heroic warriors such as Henry V and Mel Gibson’s interpretation of William Wallace.It seems to me that the diety that left that voicemail in Mr. Eldredge's head was probably Wotan... or maybe Nergal.
The book, whose overriding message is that “God designed men to be dangerous”, is a bestseller after just three months in Christian bookshops in Britain and Mr Eldredge’s Colorado-based company, Ransomed Heart Ministries, is considering setting up its Wild at Heart weekends at which men are taught how to “recover their masculine soul” by watching films such as Gladiator, in which Russell Crowe plays the sword-brandishing title role, and Gibson’s Braveheart. ***
It declares: “A Battle to fight. An Adventure to live. A Beauty to rescue. This is what a man longs for. This is what makes him come alive. There is something fierce, passionate and wild in the heart of every man. That is how he bears the image of God.”
Citing a quotation attributed to Jesus in the Bible, that “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and violent men take it by force”, it advocates the “deep and holy goodness of masculine aggression” and contrasts this with the idea that “the kingdom of heaven is open to passive, wimpy men who enter it by lying on the couch and watching TV”. In the book Mr Eldredge writes about receiving a message from God. “This is what I heard: ‘You are Henry V after Agincourt, the man in the arena, whose face is covered with blood and sweat and dust, who strove valiantly, a great warrior, yes, even Maximus’.”
Either way, I doubt if it came from a guy with the nicknames "Prince of Peace" and "Lamb of God."
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
I always thought that to describe something as "so-called," was to imply it was illegitimate... that there was something "Orwellian" about it, such as referring to U.S. military efforts in Vietnam as a "so-called" pacification program.Answer.com has the following usage note:
Quotation marks are not used to set off descriptions that follow expressions such as so-called and self-styled, which themselves relieve the writer of responsibility for the attribution: his so-called foolproof method (not “foolproof method”).So, as an unreformed pedant, I will probably be dropping the quotation marks some time next month.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
EZ doesn't need me to defend him from his own readers, but in the interest of letting the hyper-religious know the full range of non- and anti- religious thought, please let me share this nugget from Christopher Hitchens:
And just a reminder: Christopher Hitchens is a very vocal supporter of Bush's war on Iraq.
Well, first off, I'm not, as people sometimes claim me to be, an atheist. I'm an anti-theist. I think the influence of religious belief is horrible. ***
Listen, if a child tells me he's seen a ghost, I'll say, "Well, I'm sure you did, but I don't think I'll be able to see it myself, and I don't think it's really there, though I do think you must have a very vivid imagination." However, if a grown-up says "I've just a heard a voice telling me what to do," what they really mean is "I can now tell you what to do." That's what I don't like.
What I noticed when I was a kid wasn't just that what the headmaster was preaching at sermon time was rubbish (which was easy to see), it was also that it seemed very important that the headmaster be able to invest his otherwise rather feeble authority with religious authority. In other words, I could see already when I was eight that religion is used to say, "You better listen to what I say. My power is not just of this world. I have divine right." That's where you have to say, "Say that again and I'll burn your church." ***
I loathe it. And I tend to loathe the people who believe it.
(via The Atlantic, emphasis added)
I think that this quote best sums up Mr. Bush's policy:
There was nothing he liked so much as flattery, or, to put it more plainly, adulation; the coarser and clumsier it was, the more he relished it …His vanity, which was perpetually nourished – for even preachers used to praise him to his face from the pulpit – was the cause of the aggrandizement of his Ministers.That assessment applies as well to George W. Bush as it did to the Duc de Saint-Simon's original target: Louis XIV.
He kicks things off with a post on voting
AP: "This is a serious issue and I have to say very little of the decisions I've seen made to date have to do with accuracy and design checks to ensure fraud can be detected."
Bush's summons to serve as a juror in the drunken-driving case was, in retrospect, a fateful moment in his political career: by getting excused from jury duty [Bush] was able to avoid questions that would have required him to disclose his own 1976 arrest and conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in Kennebunkport, Maine -- an incident that didn't become public until the closing days of the 2000 campaign. (Bush, who had publicly declared his willingness to serve, had left blank on his jury questionnaire whether he had ever been "accused" in a criminal case.)Gonzales clearly should not be confirmed as the new Attorney General. After all, lying and getting off in the back room were the reasons Bill Clinton was impeached.
Asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy to describe "in detail" the only court appearance he ever made on behalf of Bush, Gonzales—who was then chief counsel to the Texas governor -- wrote that he had accompanied Bush the day he went to court "prepared to serve on a jury." While there, Gonzales wrote, he "observed" the defense lawyer make a motion to strike Bush from the jury panel "to which the prosecutor did not object." Asked by the judge whether he had "any views on this," Gonzales recalled, he said he did not.
While Gonzales's account tracks with the official court transcript, it leaves out a key part of what happened that day, according to Travis County Judge David Crain. In separate interviews, Crain—along with Wahlberg and prosecutor John Lastovica -- told Newsweek that, before the case began, Gonzales asked to have an off-the-record conference in the judge's chambers. Gonzales then asked Crain to "consider" striking Bush from the jury, making the novel "conflict of interest" argument that the Texas governor might one day be asked to pardon the defendant (who worked at an Austin nightclub called Sugar's), the judge said.
"He [Gonzales] raised the issue," Crain said. Crain said he found Gonzales's argument surprising, since it was "extremely unlikely" that a drunken-driving conviction would ever lead to a pardon petition to Bush. But "out of deference" to the governor, Crain said, the other lawyers went along. Wahlberg said he agreed to make the motion striking Bush because he didn't want the hard-line governor on his jury anyway. But there was little doubt among the participants as to what was going on.
"In public, they were making a big show of how he was prepared to serve," said Crain. "In the back room, they were trying to get him off."
Friday, January 21, 2005
Head teachers have banned children from using video phones to stop them slapping other pupils in the face and recording the attacks on their mobiles. The violent new craze among teenagers – dubbed “happy slapping” – has been plaguing commuters on trains and buses in London. ***Superintendent Mark Newton, of British Transport Police, told the Scotsman: “These people who think it is all a bit of a jape could end up in jail.”
The craze has involved groups of teenagers slapping strangers in the face while filming their reactions on mobile phones.
Superintendent Newton is right, this must be stopped.
But if someone wants to start a craze of commuters slapping teens on cellphones, count me in!
Bush's description of the years before Sept. 11 was disturbing. He dismissed a decade marked by the triumph of freedom, the spread of prosperity and a modest but measurable increment of social justice as "years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical." His next line: "And then there came a day of fire."
Repose? Sabbatical? Put aside the fact that in the years Bush dismisses, the United States stood up, slowly and reluctantly, to be sure, for freedom in Bosnia and Kosovo and Haiti. Are years of "relative quiet" somehow inferior to an era defined by war? Is the assumption here that Americans are better off when we are embattled and less noble when we are at peace? Is this a call for unending conflict and confrontation? ***
Do we want Sept. 11 to dominate how we define ourselves indefinitely? The president seems to think so. It's not polite to say at a moment of pomp and ceremony, but defining our politics in terms of that horrific event served the president's interest and was a central reason why he was standing before us yesterday.
Many who supported the president in his bold response to the terrorists in Afghanistan cannot escape the suspicion that Sept. 11 will be used again and again as a political rallying cry to justify genuinely radical foreign policy departures that serve neither our nation nor the cause of freedom.
I pray that I am wrong, that the coming elections in Iraq will begin to "break the reign of hatred and resentment" and that the idealism of the president's words will translate into realistic policies. But I do not want our nation to be defined for decades by what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. I want a nation that loves liberty so much that it can move beyond tragedy and embrace not only the call to battle but also the promise of peace.
Red Byrd, from New Mexico's eastern mountain region, drove 40 hours to stand with her sign in the cold as Bush's limousine went by. Her sign had a caricature of Bush on one side, his forehead emblazoned with a swastika and surrounded by the words "WAR CRIMINAL." The reverse side showed injured or dead Iraqis and U.S. soldiers.If you are looking for someone to argue with a German regarding the dangers of National Socialism, you will need to look elsewhere.
"I'm an American patriot," Byrd said. "I'm also German, so I know how" these things get started.
The deep divide in the American electorate was on display Thursday as thousands of Americans noisily protested against President Bush at his second inaugural here and at demonstrations across the nation, mainly in opposition to the war in Iraq. ***I doubt it.
The protesters made themselves heard and seen during the ceremony. One protester booed repeatedly throughout Bush's speech in a booming voice that could be heard by some on the stage behind the president, suggesting Bush could hear him too.
Because if there is one thing that we have learned in the last four years, it's that Bush can't hear dissenting voices.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Four demonstrators were arrested today and charged with criminal trespassing after they allegedly refused orders to leave Boeing Co. property in downtown Chicago. ***Wait a minute... Christians protesting Bush... praying for peace...
The Loop arrests occurred about 9 a.m., a half-hour after a demonstration began by about 20 members of a group calling itself the Christian Peacemaker Teams, outside the Boeing world headquarters at 100 N. Riverside Plaza.
Three women and a man were taken into custody by Chicago police after they began praying and refused orders by Boeing security to move off private property — the Boeing plaza facing the Chicago River, authorities said.
"We were protesting Boeing's contributions to Bush's (re-election) campaign and their manufacture of so-called smart-bombs that have killed Iraqi civilians," said the co-director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, Doug Pritchard, who was not among those Arrested.
I thought Christians were a monolithic unit that loved George W. Bush, his war on gays and his war in Iraq.
When it comes to Barack Obama, you've gotta go pretty far out on a limb to leave me behind, but in his column featuring "8 reasons why the new junior senator from Illinois will change his mind and run for President in '08," Zorn has done it.
His reason number four, "Another shooting-star, hope-for-tomorrowpolitician is coming up behind him in the Democratic ranks," is especially dubious. Is he saying the Dems have a "shooting-star,hope-for-tomorrow" surplus? There are so many that Obama would have a tough time standing out from the crowd in '12?
Dear God, I lay awake nights praying that the Democrats would have such problems.
UPDATE: And if Zorn's crazy, what's this guy?
UPDATE II: Kos has pulled the crazy comment linked above.
-An Address by Abraham Lincoln Before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, September 30, 1859
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
A reliable source tells me that RAND has been contracted by the government to come up with a way to avoid instituting a draft, despite the desperate needs for more combat forces.So, once again, the ideal solution to [insert problem] is to privatize [insert government program] by granting no-bid contracts to [insert Bush campaign contributors].
The solution? Outsource desk and logistics jobs to private companies while pushing those "chairborne" warriors out of their offices into fighting units.
Logistic troops make up the vast majority of military personnel (somebody probably has the figure, but it's like 8-1 or 9-1 support to combat forces). The proposal would dramatically increase the number of fighting forces (though many of soldiers in support jobs will have no business being in the front lines), and the Haliburtons of the world would clean up taking over support functions.
Either that or tax cuts for the richest 10%.
But this wouldn't be the first time that the Bush administration has attempted to privatize aspects of the military to pay off its supporters.
Bush appointed Thomas White as his first Army Secretary. White had served for 11 years as a director of Enron, a huge Bush-backer. At the Pentagon, White pushed hard for accelerated privatization of military energy services -- an action that would have greatly benefitted Enron.
If Enron hadn't imploded due to its own financial malfeasance.
Looks like Bush's crooked cronies are just the kind of people that we want the lives of our soldiers to be dependent on.
This Washington Post story indicates that some Bush backers are starting to figure out that their "values candidate" is a big ol' liar:
President Bush came under fire from some social conservatives yesterday for saying he will not aggressively lobby the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage during his second term. ***Republicans who run on social issues but act only on fiscal issues... somebody should write a book about that.
Social conservatives who helped stoke record turnout for Bush in the 2004 election expressed concern that he is dropping the issue he passionately touted during the campaign now that he has been reelected. "The president is willing to spend his political capital on Social Security reform, but the nation is greatly conflicted on that issue," said [Tom] Minnery, vice president of public policy for Focus on the Family. "The nation is united on marriage. The president's leadership is desperately needed."
But some Christian conservatives seem to be comforting themselves with the idea that, while Bush is lying, he isn't lying to them:
Some conservatives, however, said they trust Bush will still push for the amendment, despite his remarks. Janet M. LaRue of Concerned Women for America, a Washington-based group that seeks to reverse the nation's "moral decline," said Bush was pointing to the realities of a divided Senate. "I think he was speaking practically about the fact that there are senators who are waiting to see whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act is struck down by a court."Undeterred by his own public statements, Bush is telling right-wing Christians that he still supports their bigotry:
The president is sensitive to the concerns of social conservatives and has tried to reassure them over the past two days that he remains as committed as ever to outlawing same-sex marriage, according to White House officials. Privately, some Bush advisers say the president is uncomfortable picking divisive political fights over abortion and same-sex marriage that cannot be won. ***Bush to Christian conservatives: "Thanks for stoking my turnout, now go stoke yourselves."
Social conservatives agree it is an uphill fight in the Senate. But they worry Bush is undermining the chances before the second-term debate even begins. "It seems wrong to signal at the start of the new Congress that nothing is likely to happen," Minnery said. "We would like him to stoke this first, so when there is this precipitating event, we can hit the ground running."
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Paul Krugman explains Bush's Social Security Privatization Phaseout to Rolling Stone. My favorite segment is this little revelation:
RS: But what if stocks do well? Isn't it possible that privatization would work?So, if Bush's scheme goes according to plan, we will have a financial disaster...
PK: The only possible way that stock returns can be high enough to make privatization work is if the U.S. economy grows at three to four percent a year for the next fifty years. But Social Security's own trustees expect the economy's growth rate to slow to 1.8 percent. If that happens -- if their own assumptions are correct -- then privatization would be a disaster. And if that doesn't happen -- if the economy continues to grow at a steady rate -- then the trust fund is good for the rest of the century, and we don't need privatization.
This is merely a continuation of his first term economic policies.
Monday, January 17, 2005
"This is just who they are. We've got a bunch of working-stiff kids who are going to serve in the Army without a policy, without Kevlar vests, without [heavily armored] Humvees, and corporate America is going to make sure it has a good party. This is their idea of sacrifice. Some will sacrifice, and some will have a Bacchanalia. That's their idea of America at war."And, just in case you thought there wasn't anything else to spend that money on, the story also notes that Bush's private inaugural committee reported raising about $5 million per week since Dec, 26, when the tsunami struck Indian Ocean nations.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
WP: In Iraq, there's been a steady stream of surprises. We weren't welcomed as liberators, as Vice President Cheney had talked about. We haven't found the weapons of mass destruction as predicted. The postwar process hasn't gone as well as some had hoped. Why hasn't anyone been held accountable, either through firings or demotions, for what some people see as mistakes or misjudgments?During the campaign, confused Bush supporters said, "I don't like the way that Bush is handling the war in Iraq, but I am voting for him because I like his character."
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election. And the American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me, for which I'm grateful.
And folks like me said, "A vote for Bush is a vote for the war in Iraq and an endorsement of the completely botched manner in which it has been prosecuted."
And now President Bush himself says that your vote for him was an endorsement of the quagmire in Iraq.
Your vote for Bush was an endorsement of this:
President Bush said so.
At the core of the decline is a failure of leadership that initiated numerous blunders including a patronage system that prized fundraising over grass-roots political organization; a consolidation of political power in the governor's office at the expense of local party officials; a failure to recognize the significance of new suburban voting blocs; an embrace of outmoded political prejudices; corruption in high-level state government; and a failure to mend a divisive split between the party's moderate and conservative wings.But hey -- except for those trifling things -- all is well in the IL GOP.
Friday, January 14, 2005
Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released Thursday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.It seems that Bush's invasion of Iraq has given Islamic terrorists the chance to develop the high-tech skills they will need to compete in the 21st century.
Iraq provides terrorists "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills," said David Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats.
"There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries."You know what they say: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to create improvised explosive devices...
But let us not dwell on that, let's remember the reason we invaded Iraq in the first place -- to bring peace and stability to the Middle East:
President Bush has frequently described the Iraq war as an integral part of U.S. efforts to combat terrorism. But the council's report suggests the conflict has also helped terrorists by creating a haven for them in the chaos of war.All right, so the invasion hasn't stabilized Mesopotamia, much less the rest of the Middle East. That wasn't the real reason for the invasion anyway.
The real reason was because of Saddam's close ties to Al Qaeda:
Before the U.S. invasion, the CIA said Saddam Hussein had only circumstantial ties with several Al Qaeda members. Osama bin Laden rejected the idea of forming an alliance with Hussein and viewed him as an enemy of the jihadist movement because the Iraqi leader rejected radical Islamic ideals and ran a secular regime.
Okay, so there weren't strong ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. But remember we didn't invade Iraq of Al Qaeda.
We invaded Iraq because Saddam had massive stockpiles of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons...
or "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities"? hmmm ...
Well, say what you will about the merits of the various justifications proceeding the invasion, we can all agree that the Bush administration has really come into its own in post-invasion Iraq:
[A]s instability in Iraq grew after the toppling of Hussein, and resentment toward the United States intensified in the Muslim world, foreign militants flooded into Iraq across its unguarded borders. They found tons of unprotected weapons caches that military officials say are being used against U.S. troops."Sometimes, words have consequences you don't intend them to mean," Bush said Thursday.
Not just words, Mr. President, not just words.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
But remember what they say: "There's no such thing as bad press, just as long as they spell the name right."
Authorities have opened an investigation into allegations by Gov. Rod B-l-a-g-o-j-e-v-i-c-h's father-in-law that a B-l-a-g-o-j-e-v-i-c-h adviser traded government appointments for campaign contributions.So far so good...
Last week, Mell claimed B-l-a-g-o-j-e-v-i-c-h adviser Christopher Kelly, who was B-l-a-g-o-j-e-v-i-c-h's campaign finance manager, had arranged for people to be appointed to state boards and commissions in exchange for $50,000 contributions to the governor's campaign. *** B-l-a-g-o-j-e-v-i-c-h said he was complying with Madigan's request for information and would welcome any other reviews of the matter, including by the U.S. attorney, whose spokesman declined to comment.Nope... no bad press here.
The race to the White House can proceed unimpeded.
But morale is really in the toilet when a kid from South Dakota deserts the 82nd Airborne:
I wonder if he is reconsidering his position now that Bush has given up on the search for WMDs.
"This is a criminal war and any act of violence in an unjustified conflict is an atrocity. I signed a contract for four years, and I was totally willing to fulfil it. Just not in combat arms jobs. *** I was told in basic training that if I'm given an illegal or immoral order, it is my duty to disobey it. I feel that invading and occupying Iraq is an illegal and immoral thing to do."
[Baker] is advising the Bush administration to consider a phased withdrawal of some of the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.Yeah, "however wrongly"...
Otherwise, Baker says, the United States risks being suspected of having an "imperial design" in the region.
A protracted U.S. military presence in Iraq is probably unavoidable since attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces and on Iraqi security forces are likely to continue, Baker said Tuesday in a speech at Rice University in Houston.
"Even under the best of circumstances, the new Iraqi government will remain extremely vulnerable to internal divisions and external meddling," he said.
Still, former President George H.W. Bush's secretary of state said, "any appearance of a permanent occupation will both undermine domestic support here in the United States and play directly into the hands of those in the Middle East who -- however wrongly -- suspect us of imperial design."
Cue the theme song.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
“Prince Harry has had a very expensive education, is supposedly fit to be an officer serving in his country’s armed forces and one would assume he is not a complete idiot. *** We would like to see Harry distance himself from Nazi ideas of white supremacy, anti-semitism and racism." -- Andy Pike of Unite Against Fascism, from the Scotsman
But in the U.S., citizens are assured that George will bring the title back home.
A child should have a mother and father, advocates of the ban argue. Well yes, and a child should have a pony and a sailor suit and an old swimmin' hole. But lots of kids don't.See... sharp, clever writing. That's why I read his column every day. Not just to drive myself crazy.
From the Washington Post:
The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley. ***There aren't any there. There never were.
Four months after Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, a senior intelligence official said the findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published this spring.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
GOP Congressman Ray LaHood will reportedly announce the formation of an exploratory committee for governor tomorrow.And Chris Rhodes over at JoinCross says, "Rumor has it that Ray LaHood is getting fetted by Speaker Mike Madigan on the House Floor tommorrow. "
If you are wondering "What's the story on Ray LaHood?", this site is probably a good place to start.
The Illinois House voted to ban discrimination of gays and lesbians Tuesday, sending the governor a bill that gay rights activists have sought for more than a decade.Well, the opposition sure made a reasoned and compelling argument... there were possible "troubling implications" for "values-based organizations."
Gov. Rod Blagojevich called it "a landmark day in Illinois'' and said he looked forward to signing the legislation.
"This legislation sends a clear message that we will not allow our citizens to be discriminated against,'' Blagojevich said in a statement. ***
Opponents had argued the legislation would lead to approval of gay marriage in Illinois and infringe on the rights of religious or civic organizations to hire certain employees or exclude some from membership.
Proponents, including Blagojevich's gay sister-in-law, Deborah Mell, couched the measure in terms of human rights. They said discrimination of gays and lesbians over housing and employment is just as wrong as discriminating against people because of race or religion. ***
Rep. Terry Parke, R-Hoffman Estates, expressed concerns about the legislation, though, saying that while the proposal makes sense on its face, it hides troubling implications for values-based organizations such as the Boy Scouts or churches.
I guess the Boy Scouts will just have to cowboy-up and deal with the "troubling implications" of Illinois illegalizing the firing and evicting of people simply because they are gay.
And if you just can't bear the idea of living in a society where gays and lesbians can live their lives without worrying about losing their employment and housing, you have other options.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge against Florida's 28-year-old law that forbids homosexuals from adopting children, allowing to remain in place the nation's only blanket ban specifically aimed at gay adoptions. ***"Sorry kids, 'family values' means no parents for you."
Monday's ruling ends the legal battle started in 1999, when the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law in Miami federal court in behalf of four gay men who have cared for children for years. Several of the men have been publicly praised for their foster-care work. ***
The Florida plaintiffs' only hope now is to persuade the Florida Legislature to repeal the law. That's the goal of about 20 organizations that recently formed the Coalition for Fair Adoption.Prospects for the coalition's success appear dim. Saying he was pleased with Monday's order, Gov. Jeb Bush called the ban "appropriate," an opinion echoed by key lawmakers who said a repeal was all but dead. ***
"What is astonishing is the incredible crassness of Florida's politicians," said Matt Coles, the lead attorney for the ACLU. "These are the people who say they care about children, yet they're tossing out good parents. It takes my breath away."
For the first time ever, the Illinois Senate approved a controversial measure Monday that would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in matters of housing and employment, clearing a long-standing hurdle to passage and inspiring one key sponsor to proclaim a victory for "fundamental freedom."Please use the links above to send Emil and Blagorgeous attaboys -- And, more importantly, to pressure your state Rep. to support this historic human rights bill.
With only two days left in the term of the outgoing General Assembly, the Senate sent the House the proposal under pressure from Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the governor's sister-in-law, gay activist Deborah Mell.
Senators passed the bill 30-27, with one member voting present.
The measure now heads to the House, where sponsors vowed to pass it. The lower chamber pushed the same measure through committee Monday and now has it queued up for a floor vote on Tuesday.
If sent to Blagojevich and signed into law, the measure will add "sexual orientation" to the list of reasons for which people cannot discriminate in housing, lending and employment. The measure specifically states that the law would not require any employer, lender, real estate agent or landlord to give preferential treatment or special rights to people based on their sexual orientation.
And feel free to send attaboys to the three -- Three! -- Republicans that stood up for the basic rights of employment and housing: Sens. Pam Althoff of McHenry, Christine Radogno of Lemont and Dan Rutherford of Chenoa. You can be certain that they will be hearing plenty from Leader readers and other wing-nuts, so I am sure they will appreciate a note thanking them for doing the right thing.
MORE: And since we are on the subject of Republicans, human rights and a vote in the Illinois House, I hope that the folks over at the Jeff Tweedy Fanclub will take the time to post in support of this bill today.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Now that the Bush administration has been busted using your tax dollars to buy political pundits, maybe they will turn to this method to push their disinformation.
Noted crooked scumbag Ken Lay, of Enron fame, is so desperate to get his "version" of the breathtaking scam he and his rich buddies pulled off into the public eye before his trial that he's paying search engines 5-12 cents/click to return a link to his bogus account of his wrongdoings when searchers enter "Ken Lay" into the search-box.
Put the search words "Enron scandal" or "Ken Lay," or even this Enron reporter's name, "Mary Flood," into any of the above search engines and one of the first things you will see is www.kenlayinfo.com. If you hit on Lay's Web site from there, then Lay pays between roughly 5 cents and 12 cents. Link
Update: Clicking this link will bring you to Ken Lay's page while costing him one click's worth of traffic. Click early, click often!
The death squads have a broader mission:It seems that the War on Terror may soon come to an end, as the Bush administration prepares to replace it with a War of Terror.[Iraq National Intelligence Service Director Muhammad Abdallah al-Shahwani] said most Iraqi people do not actively support the insurgents or provide them with material or logistical help, but at the same time they won't turn them in. One military source involved in the Pentagon debate agrees that this is the crux of the problem, and he suggests that new offensive operations are needed that would create a fear of aiding the insurgency. "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," he said. "From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."The goal, in other words, is to terrorize the Sunni Arab civilian population. As the hawks and death squad enthusiasts at Stratagy Page explain (via Jim Henley) "Family members will be arrested and held hostage" which is okay because it's "a traditional Iraqi, and Middle Eastern, technique for getting fugitives to surrender." Of course, we've already been doing a good deal of that sort of thing, in violation of international law. Nevertheless, "in the past, only people who were obviously guilty were sought. But now, the known allies and kinfolk will be rounded up."
UPDATE: From Atrios:
Let's be clear, "death squads" are terrorists. Their goal is not simply to catch/kill suspected bad guys, but to frighten populations into submission. It's collective punishment of an entire population.That's right, we have reached the point in the Bush invasion of Iraq that is now necessary to reiterate that "death squads = terrorists."
Saturday, January 08, 2005
[T]he Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.) ***Death squads.
[O]ne Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. ***
[W]ith the U.S. Army strained to the breaking point, military strategists note that a dramatic new approach might be needed—perhaps one as potentially explosive as the Salvador option.
Yes, I am sure that is the piece that was missing from the Iraqi democratization puzzle -- death squads.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
The first thing is don’t just negate the other sides' frame. Don’t just say, "I'm against private accounts." That’s like Nixon saying, "I am not a crook."Repeat after me: Social Security will remain solvent for decades. Don't trust Social Security to the same fat cats that brought us Enron. Privatization = Phase-out.
The second thing is that simply stating a fact doesn’t overcome frames. They have framed Social Security as a crisis. In terms of the idea, that is a combination of many frames they put together into one trope: bloated inefficient government, you spend your money better than the government. The arguments about Social Security make use of frames that are general and that do not just talk about Social Security. There isn’t a notion that privatization is inefficient and costly. There's a whole bunch of ideas about Social Security that have to be gotten out there. The only way the general frames get out there is by constant repetition over the years.
I'm asked asked all the time, "How do we reframe Social Security?" The facts do not overcome the conservative spin. In order to change frames you have to have everybody saying the same thing at once. Facts alone won't set you free without having a system of frames.
Investigative journalist Gary Webb was a friend of ours. And he was a damn fine reporter and writer. Gary was all you could ask for in a journalist: tough, unafraid, and honest as the day is long. He lived his life to be a check on the powerful, like any good investigative journalist worth his salt.Sometimes the only thing more damning than getting the story wrong is getting the story right.
Well, in 1996 he wrote a series of articles for the San Jose Mercury-News on the CIA and that agency's complicity in the cocaine trade in southern California in the 1980s. It wasn't flawless journalism, but it told a very important story, and in fact it prompted an investigation by the CIA's inspector general which subsequently confirmed the pillars of Webb's findings. But the funny thing is that Webb was driven from journalism because of that series.
Rather than extending Webb's story by doing their own reporting, major newspapers instead turned on him and were more determined, it seemed, to attempt to undermine and discredit Webb's reporting. Indeed, the ombudsman for The Washington Post at the time, Geneva Overholser, wrote that her own paper and other major media had "shown more passion for sniffing out the flaws in the Mercury News's answer than for sniffing out a better answer themselves." In so doing, these newspapers relied on many official sources, which is odd considering the subject of Webb's stories.
One can only guess as to their motivations.
In any event, Webb was abandoned by his own paper and could not find work in journalism after that. In September 1998, this magazine published the story of what happened to Gary Webb. Written by Charles Bowden and entitled "The Pariah," it is posted below. Esquire is also very proud to have published Webb's return to investigative journalism, a definitive and exclusive piece on a DEA-run program called "Operation Pipeline" which was a program of official racial profiling, and which involved law enforcement all over the country. Webb's piece, entitled "Driving While Black," was followed a year later by a New York Times story on Operation Pipeline in which the Times took credit for the scoop and did not mention that it was Gary Webb who had first broken the story.
Last week, Gary Webb took his own life. Words cannot express our sympathy to his family and to everyone who loved him. And words cannot express our sadness at the terrible loss, to journalism and to the world.
It has been almost a month since he died and I haven't been able to get Gary Webb out of my mind.Please read the whole column.
You remember Gary Webb, don't you? He's the investigative reporter who in 1996 produced a series of stories for the San Jose Mercury News called "Dark Alliance," on the connections between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Nicaraguan contras, the right-wing opposition to the leftist Sandinista regime in that Central American nation.
The series' most explosive charge was that a contra-connected drug gang helped fuel the crack epidemic of the 1980s in this country by bringing in large supplies of Colombian cocaine and selling them to black street gangs in Los Angeles, all with the knowledge and, to some extent, the protection of the CIA.
Webb's series, and that allegation especially, touched off a firestorm of criticism in both the government and the media. Not only did the CIA deny his allegations, but three high temples of the American establishment--The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post--all joined in knocking down Webb's stories. Eventually, even his own editor at the Mercury News effectively disavowed him and the series.
Gary Webb himself became radioactive within the newspaper industry and went to work in California state government. When he died last month at age 49, ostensibly of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, he was jobless and, apparently, hopeless.
I have a confession to make: I still think Gary Webb had it mostly right.
I am very impressed by Wycliff's decision to publicly reexamine Webb's series.
Most mainstream media used Webb's death as an opportunity to dismiss "Dark Alliance" as the misguided product of "a clearly troubled man." Nearly all of the major media obituaries were centered on some variation on this sentence from the AP: "Major parts of his reporting were later discredited by other newspaper investigations. "
But they failed to mention that the central thesis of the series -- not that the CIA of directly aided drug-dealing to raise money for the Contras, but that the agency was aware of the activity -- was never refuted. In fact, a 1997 CIA inspector general's report acknowledged that the CIA had indeed worked with suspected drugrunners while supporting the contras.
It is a rare act of journalistic courage for someone in Wycliff's position to dust-off a story that has been dismissed by journalistic consensus.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
"I don't even know who the candidates are other than Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), let alone this Gere," Gaza soap factory worker Manar an-Najar told Reuters.I don't know Manar an-Najar -- but I think I like him.
"We don't need the Americans' intervention. We know who to elect. Not like them -- they elected a moron."
That is the question asked by daredevil Evel Knievel after a U.S. appeals court ruled that he cannot sue ESPN for publishing a photo of him with two women, one of whom was his wife, on its website above a caption reading "You're never too old to be a pimp."
The motorcycle rider alleged that the photo brought him and his wife "public disgrace and scandal." The term "pimp" was probably intended as a compliment, the court said. The court failed to address whether it was also a compliment for ESPN to imply that his wife is a whore.
They disregarded the goddamn law and they ought to be discharged, they ought to be ashamed of themselves. They ruled against the law. What good is law in the United States of America if five or six goddamn bimbos are going to rule against it?Knievel intends to appeal.
The Sun-Times' Abdon Pallasch discovered that:
Of the 364 medical malpractice suits filed there since 1996, only eight resulted in verdicts against doctors or hospitals for a total of $3 million, or about $380,000 each.Eight years, eight verdicts against healthcare providers and a total -- TOTAL -- of $3 million.
That's a "judicial hellhole"?
But with so few verdicts against doctors in Madison County, why do the insurance companies charge doctors so much?So if there isn't actually a "legal abuse crisis" in Madison County, why are insurance rates driving doctors from Madison County?
"Madison County, St. Clair, Cook County, our rates are the highest, the same, in those three areas because our losses are the greatest in those three areas," said Dr. Alfred Clementi, a director of the state medical society's insurance group, which insures most of Madison County's and the state's doctors.
He said only eight verdicts against doctors in the last eight years seemed low to him. But those are the only verdicts the Verdict Reporter and the Illinois State Bar Association, working with the Madison County court clerk, were able to find.
"Illinois is notorious among insurance regulators not just for having weak regulations, but for ... the commissioner having just no authority to approve rates. Malpractice insurers in Illinois can charge whatever they want," said Jay Angoff, a former director of the Missouri Insurance Department.Well, the lack regulatory safeguards would explain the graph accompanying Pallasch's story that shows that "ISMIE Mutual Insurance Co., which insures most doctors in Illinois, including Madison County, has collected higher premiums from the doctors it insures even as its claim payouts have remained constant or risen slightly."
But if there isn't a "legal abuse crisis" that is driving doctors out of Madison County, why is President Bush there to propose legislation that would prohibit juries from awarding more than $250,000 to victims of medical malpractice for pain and suffering?
The answer to that question is in the second to last paragraph of Pallasch's story:
Bush will also propose limits on lawsuits against corporationsAhhh... So this "legal abuse crisis" is being fabricated to provide cover for Bush's plan to shield multi-national corporations from lawsuits filed by people they have harmed. Well, that tactic certainly looks certainly familiar.
It's just like when a fictional "weapons of mass destruction" threat provided cover for Bush's plan to invade Iraq, or when the public dread of a "death tax" was manufactured to rally support for elimination of the estate tax (which affected less than 2 percent of taxpayers.) I'm sure that you can think of a few of your own.
How many times are Americans going to fall for -- and let others fall for -- Bush's bait-and-switch scare tactics?
(all emphasis added)
Durbin will work in ornate splendor. The suite, dating from the 1859 addition to the Capitol, has five wood-burning fireplaces and two baths. The groin vault ceilings are lit with an assortment of brass, bronze and crystal chandeliers, reproductions of the original gasoliers. The floors are the original English Minton tiles.FYI: The "groin vault" is one of the least popular Olympic events.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Be sure to notice Michelle Obama bravely shielding their youngest daughter from the corrupting influence of the President of the Senate.
"No no honey, that man is evil... stand over here by mommy."
Q: I hear one of the balls will be reserved for troops who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.via Boing-Boing
A: Yes, the Commander-in-Chief Ball. That is new. It will be about 2,000 servicemen and their guests. And that should be a really fun event for them.
Q: As an alternative way of honoring them, did you or the president ever discuss canceling the nine balls and using the $40 million inaugural budget to purchase better equipment for the troops?
A: I think we felt like we would have a traditional set of events and we would focus on honoring the people who are serving our country right now -- not just the people in the armed forces, but also the community volunteers, the firemen, the policemen, the teachers, the people who serve at, you know, the -- well, it's called the StewPot in Dallas, people who work with the homeless.
Q: How do any of them benefit from the inaugural balls?
A: I'm not sure that they do benefit from them.
Q: Then how, exactly, are you honoring them?
A: Honoring service is what our theme is about.
I had finished reading his book, “Dreams from My Father,” at my hotel room and probably should have been embarrassed to ask for his autograph. But I pull the book out of my purse and, holding it up as evidence, I say, “You wrote in here that Congress is ‘compliant and corrupt.’.“What if you were right?” I ask..He pulls the lid off his pen and says, “I suspect it is.”
Monday, January 03, 2005
[C. A. Tripp psychologist, therapist, and sex-researcher for Alfred Kinsey and author of The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln] notes that although Lincoln was plainly bisexual, as demonstrated by the four children that he had with his wife, there is practically no other compelling record of his heterosexuality. There are no girlfriends in youth."A house divided against itself cannot stand" -- indeed.
Ann Rutledge (the great love that ended in her tragic death, which he forever mourned) proves to have been an invention of his law partner William Herndon, who, perhaps suspecting that the man he had practiced law with for 16 years had remained "uncomfortable" with women all his life and so needed some beefing up in the boy-girl department. Yet all evidence suggests that Lincoln's stepmother got it right when after Lincoln's death she said, "He was not very fond of girls."
Saturday, January 01, 2005
Kenya plans to send a delegation of politicians and relatives to the swearing-in ceremony on Monday of Barack Obama, the newly elected Democratic senator from Illinois who has Kenyan roots. And Kenyan officials have already begun preparing a major welcome party for Mr. Obama, who is scheduled to visit Nairobi in May to speak at an international media conference. Mr. Obama's father was born in Kenya, but the senator-elect has never lived in the country. Still, Kenyans consider Mr. Obama a local and celebrated heartily when he was elected the Senate's lone African-American member.No word on whether Kansas will be sending a delegation to Obama's swearing-in.
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- AT LEAST THEY DIDN'T CALL HIM "RICHARD ZORN"
- I BELIEVE THE CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE
- DOES BLAGO KNOW ABOUT THIS?
- VIOLENCE IS GOLDEN
- MY "SO-CALLED" LIFE
- HE MAKES ERIC ZORN LOOK LIKE BILLY GRAHAM
- "L'État, c'est moi!"
- ARCHPUNDIT IS BACK
- THE NATION'S TOP LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL
- "HAPPY SLAPPING" IS NO JAPE
- BUSH: THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS
- "SMITHERS... ARE THEY BOOING ME?" "UH, NO SIR... T...
- DOES JAMES DOBSON KNOW ABOUT THIS?
- ZORN CRAZY OVER OBAMA
- BUSH II, SHALL PASS
- "THE GIRL WAS UNINJURED"
- "Ahhh... IT'S A PROFIT DEAL! THAT TAKES THE PRESS...
- HOMOPHOBES FAITH IN BUSH SHAKEN
- REPUBLICAN PRIORITIES
- BUT OTHER THAN THAT, PARTY-OF-LINCOLN, HOW DID YOU...
- THE BUSH JOBS AND EDUCATION PROGRAM
- BLAGO MOJO NO-GO
- SOUTH DAKOTA: QUAKER STATE?
- IT'S ALWAYS TEASE TEASE TEASE...
- "UPPER CLASS TWIT OF THE YEAR"
- "BRASH AND MOUTHY"
- SLAM DUNK
- RAY LA-WHO?
- A LANDMARK DAY IN ILLINOIS
- NEXT STOP: BLAGO'S DESK
- $500 APPLE!
- BUSH: BAN ON GAY ADOPTION "APPROPRIATE"
- A VICTORY FOR FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOM
- THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE
- THE TRUTH FOR SALE ON THE INTERNETS
- TERROR WAR IN IRAQ
- DEATH SQUADS FOR DEMOCRACY
- BETTER LATE...
- NOW SAY IT A MILLION TIMES
- "THE PARIAH"
- MISREPRESENT, RIDICULE, DISMISS (REPEAT AS NECESSA...
- "HI, I'M RICHARD GERE AND I'M SPEAKING FOR THE ENT...
- EVEL KNIEVEL TO JUMP JUDICIAL HELLHOLE
- EIGHT, EIGHT, THREE
- SWEET: SWEET SUITE
- HASTERT: PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT TEXAN BEHIND THE...
- "REFORM" MEANS "PHASE-OUT"
- OBAMA SWEARING IN VIDEO
- SUPPORT GEORGE'S BALLS
- SUSPICIOUS MINDS
- DAY ONE
- HONEST, ABE?
- KENYA PLANS TO CELEBRATE A U.S. SENATOR