Friday, December 28, 2007

Chuck Norris

Some are dumb, others are repetitive. But damn some are laugh out loud funny.

Did you know...

-Chuck Norris was born in a log cabin that he built with his bare hands.

-Chuck Norris puts the FUN in Funeral.

-Chuck Norris is capable of photosynthesis.

-Chuck Norris is allowed to talk about Fight Club.

-Guns don't kill people. Chuck Norris kills people.

- There is no chin under Chuck Norris' Beard. There is only another fist.

-Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

this is totally unrelated to anything...

...in fact, Fred might boot me for this. but i was given an award by a friend on her blog, (a great blog, by the way, if you want to read about a modern mother raising three children), and i told her i would brag to the hills for the award.

so here it is:



Really, i swear i'm straight.

Reason #1 Why Republican Congressmen Need to Go

They don't pay their bills, and mock those who want to.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lynne Spears' parenting book delayed indefinitely...

your 16 year old is knocked up and your other daughter lost custody of her two kids because she wouldn't stop getting drunk and high....

yea, Lynne Spears, maybe you're probably not really the best person to be writing a book about parenting skills...and apparently Christian book publisher Thomas Nelson, Inc. agrees, since they apparently won't be putting out your book on parenting, oh mother of hapless Britney and pregnant Jamie Lynn...

umm, so why exactly was a Christian book publisher involved here to begin with??

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"The Surveillance State"

Glenn Greenwald on the nature of the US spying on its own citizens.

Let's be clear, here, since many people, especially Republicans, continue to spout the Administration talking point that it is only foreigners (i.e., "potential terrorists") calling from overseas who are getting spied upon. This is a lie. Literally millions of records of Americans are being collected for no reason at al (excepting, of course, that the government is paranoid).

I don't want to overstate the problem, but I don't want to understate it either. Truth be told, what the US government is doing right now has parallels in totalitarial societies, and has no place in democratic ones, even ones mistakingly feeling as if they are under attack.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mike Huckabee's surge

Temporary, IMO, and merely reflecting the understandable disatisfaction the Republicans are having with the candidates, making them cycle through them like a bunch of bad holiday sweaters one is forced to hold up against oneself in the mirror, saying "Maybe I can live with this in public."

This Huckabee parody is pretty good, IMO:

Sorry for the delay...

A college friend of mine *finally* got married, and I took some tme off, Back in the saddle!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Monet's "Cataract Period"

Apparently, the guy was not trying a new artistic impressionism, but was going blind.

The NRO and "truthiness"

Matt seems to have the best take on Smith-gate, IMO.

What a waste. When editorial writers try to write "news" this is what happens, I think.

Some background at TPM.

Fear mongering in light of facts

"But they can start up at any time!" seems to be the new talking point on Iran's non-existant nuclear programs.

Both North Korea and Pakistan made huge strides toward nuclear arms under this administration, but the irony of Bush's statement seems lost on him.

Update: Apparently the NIE has been on the President's desk for six months. The information isn't new to him. Perhaps the military is finally taking a bit of a stand on the inside against this rogue administration?

First "America" map

Accurate, then "corrected" late with errors. I'm going to resist drawing any current political parallels.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Has it bottomed yet? Links to foreclosures

With so many foreclosures, it might make sense for people looking for a good deal to check out the houses available directly from the banks. Here are some links:

Bank of America

PNC

Countrywide

Also LoopNet (for HSBC, and others)

Also, government homes are always interesting to look through:

HUD homes

Government sales (including USDA farms & ranches)

Update

Forgot two biggies: Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

How could someone do this?

Fatal Hoax

This story, which is not "breaking news," nor very current, is now being more widely published, and I cam upon it today. I am just stunned and saddened and mad that people can do such things, and then "be okay" with them. I'm talking about the woman, Ms. Drew, who did the hoax. As a parent, it just's just so so so sad to read about a young person killing herself. As a righteous moral indignant mofo, I am mad as heck that the "hoaxer" is not doing something, anything, everything, to make some amends (can't make it right, but can try). I just cannot fathom this one.

One result of China's one-child policy...

a nation of selfish "emperors" and "empresses."

Hugo Chavez: Make me President-for-Life or I'll take your stuff

Hugo Chavez, apparently in a tizzy that his efforts to change the constitution in his country to allow him to run as long as he wants, has threatened to seize the assets of those opposing his reform policies.

Nice. A pro-active redistribution of wealth, I suppose you'd call it. His defenders continue to point out that he was democratically elected as though that excuses his bullying while in office. George W. Bush was democratically elected as well (yes, yes, I've read all about Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 and it is a lot of nothin'). The point isn't that he has some kind of mandate to do what he's doing and so we should simply stand aside. It is that what you do when you are in office is more important that simply whether you got their legally.

HT: JWF

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Year of the Ugly NFL QB

Maybe it is me, but aren't the NFL QBs a lot uglier than they used to be?

Derek Anderson, Cleveland:



Jeff Garcia, TB (never a good looking guy, but there you go):



Lost twins Joey Harrington, Atlanta & JP Losman, Buffalo:





Even the scrubs aren't much better. Here's Charlie Whitehurst, San Diego. Looks like he's very sad. Maybe because he carries around a clipboard for hundreds of thousands of dollars a year:



PSST! Jamie! *There's something on your head!*



Duuude! Kyle Orton!



Brian St. Pierre (Pittsburgh) looks like he's about to break into song. "The hills are alive! With the sound of music!"



"You vill vall down when I throw the ball against you! Vall down!"



On the other hand, Vinny looks pretty good at 63. I'm hoping he plays two more years to collect full Social Security benefits:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Military requires return of signing bonuses by wounded vets?

A bureaucracy gone mad? A little more information here, including the fact that a Congressman has put in a bill to prevent the military from requesting a return of bonuses paid, or from withholding bonuses promised but not paid because a soldier's active duty wounds prevented their committment from being fulfilled.

Update Looks like the Army is coming to its senses. No word on what happened, but at least they are moving to fix the problem.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Too much information?

New Jersey squirrels now OK to eat. This article contained this lovely paragraph:

"A blender that was used to process the tissues into usable samples was defective and was identified as the source of the lead contamination...

Eeeeach!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Torturing the innocent

Like the death penalty, torture should be avoided, if for no other reason, than the innocent are often snared in the "rush for justice." The case of Mahar Arar is no exception. I've been following this for a long time, and if there is one thing I hope we hang around Bush's neck as his "legacy" (of many honorees) this case is the one.

Whale makes it 1000 miles upriver

Ladies, please avoid the "Won't ask for directions" line...

All that damn time...

Here's kind of a cool interactive map, with commuting time & population shifts. The Day/Night population maps are cool, though I wish there were more cities represented.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Constitution suspended---just a little bit at a time...

Want to challenge your parking ticket in Boston or DC? It'll cost you a $275 non-refundable fee.

Screw that whole "right to trial" thingy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Unintelligent design

I caught most of the NOVA program last night about the Dover, PA court case on the forced teaching of Intelligent Design in the public school. An excellent program, which goes to lengths to make sure that ID proponents have their say, although it is pretty clear that the arguments don't exactly get very far. I might have more to say on this later, but the attempts by ID backers to hide from the religious component of their theory is seriously undermined by their own actions in calling people "un-Christian" for believing in evolution.

Frankly, I've never felt that learning more about God's creation is a bad thing, even if it takes us in unexpected directions. God is bigger than anything, including the Bible.

BTW, Greg Arnig Jr. with a nice blog piece on the parallels between ID and the conservative movement in general.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tancredo: Crazy like...a crazy guy

Rep Tancredo has long been a fear mongerer, because, apparently, "someone has to say it." His latest ad is also what I'd call a "strawman" argument. A fictionalized terror attack that only he can stop, it seems.

He forgets that Americans realize, after electing Cheney twice, that this kind of thing only grows worse, not better, when you elect a fear mongerer.

Obama gaining in Iowa?

I know this is a very long speech that Obama made in Iowa, but on this Veteran's Day it is important, I think, so critically examine who might be the next Commander-in-Chief.

Obama delivers a great, great speech, IMO. I'm tired of the canned and the shrill, the divisive and the cheerleading. Like a tough education, Obama's best speeches are ambitious affairs which halt the dumbing down of political speeches in its tracks. They tell us we can do better by showing us a better speech. Take a listen--the speech is near the bottom of this Andrew Sullivan page.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

FEMA, and fake news

Apparently FEMA doesn't have enough on their hands, trying to recover from the Katrina disaster. So they put out a fake press briefing in which the audience was FEMA staffers, asking questions just like real reporters.

In their defense, the staffers were asking questions in order to "salvage" the event. [For what purpose, exactly? There was no one else there].

Keeping the US free of tourism dollars...

Great work, Homeland Security!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's always a little weird to me...

...when fictional television shows incorporate real life incidents into their shows. I suppose if it's something completely planet-altering like 9/11, that's one thing.

But this past week, Criminal Minds, one of my favorite shows on TV, ended up investigating a series of murders that took place in Montana, in militia country. Of course militia members and government agents don't mix well, so it made for an interesting dichotomy when they had to work together to stop the killer.

During the climactic scene of the show, Special Agent David Rossi - the newest character on the show, and played by Joe Mantegna - admitted to one of the militia men that he was involved in Ruby Ridge *and* Waco. Now, while Waco was one of those things that caused a seismic shift, I'm not so sure Ruby Ridge was.

To those who know about it, it was definitely a turning point in how a lot of people felt about our government. But, if you took a poll, I'm pretty sure that most people you ask, aren't going to know what Ruby Ridge is.

So, it just struck me as odd that a show would incorporate one of its central characters into an event that probably isn't a blip on the radar for most people. Definitely a cool plot device as far as I'm concerned, but still, odd.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Farm bill follies

I've long taken the annual Farm Bill to task, for, among many other things, not doing a damn thing except spend my money. Really--it doesn't actually accomplish much of anything except spend gobs of money. And attract poorly-conceived projects which, if proposed by someone in New Jersey, would surely invite FBI investigation as a money-laundering scheme.

Ridiculous UK laws

Ridiculous UK laws.

This has an "urban legend" feel to it, but there you go.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The nuts and bolts of America's reputational decline

Andrew Sullivan has been on a bit of a kick lately, about how legal visitors to this country are being put through the ringer because, essentially, they are trying to come into (or leave) the country while being, well, foreign. His latest post combines the newly legitimized border control rudeness with a sprinkling of moral superiority and a dash of tsking.

Since the Right, particularly the Christian Right, are unable to stigmatize the divorced or the "bastards" (since they are divorced and often bringing up children out-of-wedlock themselves), I guess when faced with gay foreigners it is hard to hold back.

I know, of course, that the border control workers aren't all Christianists. But in a bureaucracy, tone is set high up. And this one starts at the top.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The FBI and the use of informants

I've been hearing, over the last few years, how the FBI are not only using nastier and nastier informants, but their programactually gets in the way of both themselves and other law enforcement groups pursuing criminal investigations.

I understand the use of snitches. But it appears that the use has gotten far too widespread making us very lazy in doing the hard work of solving crimes.

"Have you fed Fred?"

I'm liking this one.

Happy Friday to you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Finally US & North Korea Get Together

To kick some Somolian pirate ass!

Boy with matches started fire

Hate to be this kid. Or this kid's dad. When I was about 6 my sister was playing with matches and lit a matress on fire. I still remember them dragging the soaked and scorched matress down the stairs and outside, 37 years later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

China's growth problem

What is going to hold China back from the "next step" is not going to be money, cheap labor, or even innovation. It'll be infrastructure, and the vast costs associated with building and maintaining it. We're seeing the costs now, as birth defects are soaring amid increased pollution. Quite simply, the country is a dirty mess, and cleaning it up (and keeping it clean) is a huge problem.

When your birth defects rise 40% in 6 years, you've got a problem, particularly when they already have a one-child policy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Most terrifying inspirational 80's songs

I was not only a child of the 80's, but I was a DJ during the period as well (club, remote, radio). This list had me laughing out loud.

That's the (wrong) Ticket

Fearing Fear (Krugman)

I dunno who reads what I write, but I like to write and hope someone's reading. I also like to read and I like what Paul Krugman writes. He writes better than he talks though, cos I saw him on Real Time with Bill Maher a few weeks back and the much less informed and more hyperbolic (and annoying) Tucker Carlson talked circles around the flabbergasted brilliance of Mr. Krugman. He just doesn't talk fast enough.

Lest I digress.

What he writes here is what is real though, and I could not agree more. I hate how our Repulican administration and next crop of Presidential candidates continues to try to scare us into giving them (more and more) power. George needs more power to protect us, Rudy wants power and we'd be safest with him; Mitt wants the power and by god, he'll give it to us. Even on the Democrat side, I see Hillary broaching the fear of Iran issue to make her more electable to the general electorate. Ugh.

Of course we don't want Iran to be nuclear, but of course they are not going to create nuclear weapons and use them or sell them; it's suicide and they are not run by suicide bombers. But, that is what we are being led to believe. Might as well be in control of our fates rather than waiting for our fate to be controlled by the "Islamofascists." I think Podhoretz is more of a a fascist than our alleged "enemies."

I talk to my friends about who they are going to vote for. Some say Rudy because he is fiscally responsible and would not actually bomb anyone. Some say Rudy cos they are comfy with him as being the last semi-successful mayor of NYC. Some say Rudy cos they could never vote for Hillary, even though they cannot articulate why not. Some say Rudy cos he's a better candidate than Mitt or McCain or Huckabee.

I fear...I fear Rudy (and the other Repubs...).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

IPhones

Apple limits iPhone sales by requiring debit or credit cards

I'm no lawyer (as many of you know), but it seems to me that this move is against the law. The Legal Tender Act requires that US currency be acceptable for all debts (public & private). I don't believe that Apple can actually do this.

Another man of peace gunned down...

Well, i guess this is one helluva a somber subject to make my posting debut...

Just over a week ago, as I began a week's long vacation, Reggae superstar Lucky Dube was gunned down in an apparent car-jacking in his home country of South Africa. I didn't learn about it until a few days later as I was purposely avoiding the newspaper and the internet during the first few days i was on the West Coast.

And since returning home a couple of days ago, this is the first time i've had a moment to put pen to paper, so to speak, and express my thoughts.

Dube was one of those good guys. In a lot of ways, his death reminds of the death of Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay, who's murder ironically came just about 5 years prior to that of Dube's. When JMJ was killed, writer Mark Anthony Neal (link above) wrote the following: "Within the context of hip-hop music and culture the killing of Jam Master Jay is comparable to someone walking up to Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and shooting them in the head. It is cultural treason."

And i'm not sure it's any different with Dube.

Like Jay, Dube was a man of peace. Run-DMC never preached violence and was, despite a harder edge, rap with a conscience. Lucky Dube went the same route. While his music was often angry as he expressed his protests to Apartheid in that system of oppression's final decade, his music was about freedom - both physical and spiritual.

His first record - "Rastas Never Die" - was banned by the South African government, so, unbeknownst to his label, he went right back into the studio and recorded the follow up - "Think About the Children" - which became a monster hit and led to probably his best known record "Slave", which sold over a half-million copies. The names of subsequent records indicated just how deeply Dube felt about the conditions in South Africa - "Captured Live", "Prisoner", "House of Exile", and "Victims" were all released prior to the end of Apartheid. It wasn't until Apartheid was finally ended did Dube's albums take on an optimistic tone - "Together as One", "Trinity", and "Serious Reggae" all followed.

Much like his own musical hero, the late Peter Tosh, Dube's violent death was shocking and flew in the face of everything he preached for and sang about. In another ironic twist, Dube was murdered on the day before what would have been Tosh's 53rd birthday.

The world lost another great music legend when Dube was killed. But, more importantly, the world lost another man of peace, a man who wielded some of the most powerful weapons available - those weapons being the combined forces of music, and the voice of the common man.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Closer to Bombing Iran

Another Step Towards War with Iran?
My sentiments get to a point where I just wish the Dems would start impeachment hearings...someone has to stop this aggressor style of leadership. While I still believe that Cheney and Bush still believe they are doing what they believe is best for the country, I also believe they do not have any idea how stupid their beliefs are when turned into action. Everything they do backfires. I wish they would finally say something like: "You know, everything we do backfires, instead of just saying 'we'll be seen as correct in 20 years,' let's try something different and just do the opposite of what we're thinking." Like a what I do when I am in a rut in making my weekly football pix. I also have this sinking feeling that Hillary aint gonna be too much different, policy-wise, so she's now down to my #3 choice of the big 3 Dem candidates, behind Barack and Edwards. I think she will get the nom though, and I am starting to get dismayed...better than Rudy though, who would seemingly be running ahead of Bush and Cheney to push the nuke button like my kids do when they are racing to push an elevator button. Aaaaaaaaaah!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The long arm of the government

Once again, our Republican Administration acts like the worst nightmare of what they picture Democrats doing if they were in power

The Identity Project seems to be a worthwhile project, trying to protect the rights of citizens to move about the country without the need for government-mandated permission.

Tancredo calls for raid of Democrat's press conference

I'd call this a desperate attempt by a guy deep in the bowels of Republican Presidential hopeful polls, except this guy would probably be doing this anyway. It is rare to find someone on the national stage standing up to both George W. Bush and reason, but Tancredo seems to be that guy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cheney's Law

Frontline's piece Cheney's Law should be required viewing for all patriots, of all political stripes.

Climate change switcheroo

The WSJ, always is the vanguard of scientific progress, but out an editorial today about how global warming won't be all that bad, which RealClimate.com blisters in a rebuttal.

I think David is quite right to wonder about a newspaper which argues very strongly against climage change at all, and then switching to pointing out some benefits of what it says isn't occurring.

Tha call for calm is important, but the call to pooh-pooh the problem isn't.

I actually have a friend who believes that global warming is all a scam, put up by "climatologists" and other "scientists" to make money. Needless to say, with such a position as that I just avoid the topic entirely with him. There's really no middle ground there.

California fires

I've been watching the news when I can on this, but the scope is pretty amazing. This LA Times article has some interesting stuff alongside.

NJ town's Republican leadership switch parties, en masse

Lyndhurst NJ to change from mostly Republican leaders to pretty much all Dems.

On the state & local levels, the party switching has been steadily gaining for the Dems the last couple of years. On the national level, there are few (if any) swaps going the way of the Democrats. Party unity on the federal level has long been a hallmark of the GOP, but at some level there has to be a sense of going down with the ship. After all, many Republicans were openly critical of the timing of Donald Rumsfeld's resignation (which turned out to happened before the election, but which many politicos point to as a contributing factor in the Democratics routing Republicans on all levels).

The problem for Republicans is simple: Stick with a politically-damaged President or not. Unfortunately, (and in taking their cue from the President) admitting a mistake is just not something Republicans do.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bride sues over flowers.

$400 K!

All you need to read is:

Among things that drew the ire of the bride, Elana Glatt, who also happens to be a lawyer...

A pissed off bride/lawyer? It is practically a stock character.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Blackwater stole Iraqi planes and refused to give them back

In a war full of over-the-top, unbelievable-if-you-weren't-there, and stranger-than-fiction-moments, that headline will probably finish in the top ten.

What the hell is wrong with us?

Dumbledore is gay!

As if the fundies don't have enough to yell about with the Potter series, calling it "anti-Christian" and all (it isn't. It just isn't fundamentalist). JK Rowling blurts out what might be an unnecessary statement: Dumbledore is gay. Or, was gay. Or will be gay. Hard to tell with Dumbledore.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Baseball

Being from Cleveland, I'm certainly enjoying the Cleveland Indians knocking off the two biggest payroll teams in baseball. OK, I might regret posting this since the Indians have not won, but a guy can dream, yes?

Meanwhile, MLB players seemed shocked shocked! that George Mitchell, while investigating performance enhancing drugs in MLB, might actually show them the evidence.

Update: Damn.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Clinton: The next torture president?

Ironically, in an interview about how she's not really polarizing, Senator Clinton seems awfully vague about what she would do about torture, essentially saying to elect her first, then she'll see what is going on right now, and then stop what should be stopped (and continue what should continue, apparently).

I think it is hard to say that we should stay in Iraq for a long time, that you don't want to take a stand on torture, and be Hillary Clinton, and say you aren't polarizing.

UPDATE: Hold the phone?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Stop the Hate Vigil

My parish has, for the last 10 years, held a Stop the Hate Vigil in which members of other religious groups join us in a re-affirmation of the peace mission of our faiths. While sometimes it can seem a little too Unitarian in my mind, there is always good in recommitting ourselves to the idea of peace as its own goal, particularly given the rush to war and the response to terrorism that surrounds us all.

Included in the program was a list of names or hate crimes victims that were read out. #1 on the list? The non-hate crime victim Matthew Shepard. Ugh.

The problem with continuing to evoke Matthew Shepard is that not only was he not a hate crime victim, but actual hate crime victims are getting pushed aside. Now, I'm no fan of hate crime legislation (which tends to punish thought, which I think is just an incredibly stupid thing to criminalize), but those who want to do something about hate crimes in general give their political opponents a big target by using the wrong crime as an example. After all, if we can't even get the right crime as an example, how can we hope to address the actual problem? And what does this say about people who were truly victims of hate crimes based on their assumed or actual sexuality? Their crimes weren't brutal enough, so we'll use this non-hate crime example instead?

The Republican collapse

I'm no friend of John Cole, partly because he's to the far right of me, but also because his writing style is so all over the place he's just difficult to read--I feel like I had to have been reading previous writings to place a current, disjointed post into the proper context. And while I'll do that for some writers, virtually no bloggers get that courtesy--blog entries should be, in almost all cases, self-explanatory or (if they cannot) reference background posts appropriately.

That all said, I think he is dead right in his current rebuttal to David "The Apologist" Brooks piece about why Republicans have declined. Money quote:

It had nothing to do with Burke, and everything to do with what the party had become. A bunch of bedwetting, loudmouth, corrupt, hypocritical, and incompetent boobs with a mean streak a mile long and no sense of fair play or proportion.

I've long lamented the thoughtful Republican (which is what David Brooks will be dressing as for Holloween, since he's been wearing the outfit for some time now). But even now, led by a very weakened President, there doesn't appear to be very many Republicans eager to step up and make things right. They are all still riding the tattered coattails of the Administration, straight to the bottom.

Update: I titled this "The Republican collapse" rather than "The Republican decline" because I think "collapse" is much more descriptive of what is going on. "Decline" implies some long process of loss.

Friday, October 05, 2007

American finally becoming unpinned?

Good news, if so.

I think Jesus warned us clearly enough about those people who do things just to be seen.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Republicans to fuck 2008

No joke, here's the logo for the Republican Convention:

The Full Monty

The Bush Administration as war criminals.

At this point, I no longer care about backlash from people who complain that I cite the NY Times in an Administration-bashing article. The truth hurts, no matter where it is from.

Andrew Sullivan came around on this some time ago (though his note about supporting the wartime president in 2000 has a Michael Moore-type timeline to it), but his quote from hilzoy is great, and bears repeating:

The techniques in question are repugnant. But in many ways, the administration's disregard for the law is worse. When your policies violate treaties you have signed and laws that are on the books, you are not supposed to come up with some clever way of explaining that appearances to the contrary, what you're doing is not illegal at all. You're supposed to stop doing it.

Amazing how this Administration made me a radical. Just for trying to stand up to what American should stand up for.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Obama-man

I've been a fan of Obama's campaign for some time (as Andrew Sullivan appears to be as well). His latest speech kicks some serious ass, directly rebutting the "conventional wisdom" that many are throwing out there.

I'm convinced that Clinton's support is wide but shallow, and a win by Obama in Iowa will start the tide flowing. Clinton is running like Bush ran the first time: He got the support simply by virtue of being the frontrunner. I fear she'll govern much like Bush as well--divide and make sure you've got at least 51%.

I was (and am) a huge fan of President Bill Clinton. But a second President Clinton would be too much what we've had for nearly 4 terms now: Divisive, hateful, and ugly politics. It doesn't have to be that way, people.

BlackWater, Ugh

BlackWater, State Dept Sought to Cover-Up Incidents

This Blackwater thing to me is very fucked up and likely been going on (and off) for some time. I know that "war is hell," but these guys seem particularly unaccountable, and well over-paid. I don't think our occupation can be successful if not only are we undermanned and unwanted, but also have a large security presence that is quick to shoot and not to help. Besides the obvious fact that such 3rd party contrators should not even be in a war zone to the large extent that they are, Blackwater has seemingly been allowed to operate under the radar for quite some time. Their actions have largely been ignored until the very recent incident two weeks ago. Surely they are a security force and nothing more, but their behavior should be conservative, not aggressive, and they should be held to the same standards as our soldiers. They are probably undermining many efforts by the soldiers to work with the people. It's an extreme example of how extremely poor this war and resulting occupation has been managed.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Japan set to discourage savings

Well, thar's not what they are saying, of course, but when you refer to low-risk savings accounts as "stagnant" I think we can see a Kelo-style investment vs savings question being answered firmly in the "strongly encourage people to spend" column.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Women in the military

It wasn't so long ago that the idea of women in combat roles in the military was a hot button topic. Officially women still aren't allowed in combat roles, but with a winkwink we all know they do the same jobs as the men in the military--they have to. Not only because of the fluid nature of today's military, but because we just don't have enough bodies to throw into the breach.

That said, the problems of women in the military is another one of those untold stories which is going to explode when we finally get out of Iraq: Helen Benedict, "The Private War of Women Soldiers."

I realize that soldiers are only men, in stressful situations, etc., but the problems need to be addressed. And soon.

From the "I Hate It When This Happens" File

Oktoberfest reveller stuck in chimney for 12 hours

Monday, September 24, 2007

Treasury Department: We can only fix Social Security through a combination of increased revenues and/or smaller outflows

I really don't mean to be snarky, but I just can't help it: Duh!

But this is actually a big step for the Administration, to take privatization off the table. My own prescription of common sense Social Security fixes:

-raise the ceiling limit on income subject to social security withholding (currently, 6.20% up to earnings of $97,500/year, with a hard cap of $6045). Raising the earnings ceiling to $150K or $200K will increase revenues by quite a bit, particularly among those taxpayers most likely to get big benefits anyway (longer lifespans) and most likely to not really need the money as much (more likely to have private retirement plans);

-increase the retirement age, currently at 67 for younger workers. People are living longer, and while the retirement age has been increased a bit, a raise to 69 or 70 would help not only those older workers who want to continue to work (but find work choices limited at age 65) but if we keep the early retirement at 62 this will provide a wider range of choices for workers.

-initiate a needs-test, particularly for those with higher income levels after retirement age. For example, a taxpayer earning more than $100,000/year in income might have their total benefits limited to the amount they paid into the system and no more. This would eliminate some people (mostly, the wealthy elderly) from getting benefits far and above the amounts they paid in which would help keep money available for others.

Needs testing is a hot button issue for Social Security, but by keeping the threshhold high this seems to be a common-sense approach. Paying out thousands of dollars to people who don't need it (and didn't pay that much into the system) is commonsensical to me.

Marijuana & health care costs

I've seen several columns in the last few years, which basically boil down to "allow it, then tax the crap out of marijuana. Here's one at the Marijuana Policy Project, a group which otherwise does a great job on the medical marijuana issue.

But I think it is tough to have it both ways: To say that there is a medical need for marijuana to be available to those who need it (particularly those who appear to find no relief through other means is one thing. To say that marijuana should be openly available (i.e., not need-based) is completely another thing.

Administration official: Obama is 'intellectually lazy'

Hard to respond to this one with my jaw dropped open

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Living the Bible for a year

A very interesting premise.

Don't unions do this when they want to prove some point to management without actually going on strike? Wonder if God is pissed at this guy?

Friday, September 21, 2007

How to get your pet projects passed, without the bother of having people vote on it..

We know all about earmarks (pet projects, often pork-laden, than legislators put into a bill before its final passage). But Rep Young (R-Alaska) has apparently done one better: Added an earmark after the bill's passage, but before being signed by the President.

What a timesaver!

TPM Muckraker is trying to figure out, exactly, how that could even happen. And they are getting stonewalled.

But that's not all! The recipients of the earmark (a Florida county) didn't want the money in the first place, and voted to send it back. (Imagine that--doing the right thing!). Of course, in the "no good deed goes unpunished, they got their hands slapped.

It is important, I think, to keep in mind that this all was done by a member of the "small government" Republican Party.

"Do You Love Pina Coladas?..."

Couple cheated online..with each other! Oops.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The American mind at work, solving car bombs...

OK, so not all car bombs. But a partial solution to those ramming through checkpoints, particularly at military bases..

Here's Declan!


Declan sling.jpg
Originally uploaded by permdude
More as I get them...

Cheney is still in his secret bunker

Even when he's not.

The lengths this man goes to keep "secrets" is positively Nixonian. Let's hope another Nixonian (Fred Thompson) doesn't follow him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Kissinger strawman

Henry Kissinger, like many Republicans these days, makes a big ass strawman in his latest comments on Iraq.

Andrew doesn't pick up on it in his post, but *no one* is advocating the "abrupt withdrawal from Iraq" that Kissinger pontificates upon, poorly, with his latest domino theory.

The truth is, as Obama has pointed out very well, there is no military solution to the political problems of Iraq. Taking out the military, then, is a wash to the eventual long-term solutions that will come. Indeed, if Iraq was a welfare mother and the US military was a welfare check, Kissinger and others would have cut off Iraq 3 years ago.

Japanese wives speculate, and lose, on currency markets

Honey, where's that nest egg of ours?

McCain forgets his place again

I don't like the MoveOn.org ad against General Patraeus--I think it isn't such a huge deal as those "looking for a fight" rightie bloggers are making this out to be, but I think it is just in poor taste, and targets the wrong person.

McCain, however, wants to give out some red meat, and says MoveOn.org should be "thrown out of the country."

Yes, Senator--that's exactly how we deal with speech we don't like. I'm sure the Founding Fathers had this in mind the whole time--free popular speech, but criticize a government employee and you'll be tossed out of the country.

NYT to end paid access

About damn time.

As a researcher, this is great news because I can verify information from the Times (including publication details) in order that requests to reprint their material for my clients have the full information necessary. I doubt permissions issues entered into their heads in making this decision, but it is a bonus to them, I think.

Another Republican flames out in a sex scandal

I realize that this really isn't a political issue, but you'd think we'd be seeing more of these involving Democrats, if the Republicans are as good at digging out dirt as I suspect.

Which means that either Democrats are genuinely less dirty than Republicans overall, or I'm wrong and Republicans are all dirt throwing and not dirt-digging. I suspect the former.

Anyway, here is your Republican sex scandal of the week.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A new addition

My profile picture is me and my second child, my daughter Ceci. It is about 2 years old or so (she's almost 4). But yesterday, at 12:05 pm EST, a new member of the Fred family made his arrival, Declan, @ 6 pounds, 6 ounces and 19 inches long. A very small guy.

Born at home (a planned homebirth), the baby came through just fine. My son (10 years old) and Ceci both got to watch the birth, a memory which will last their entire lives. And watching the wonder on their faces will last my entire life as well.

It was a good day to be born.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Teaching children to fear men

As a father of young children, I've often felt the unspoken fear of males that is generated in the mostly-female-led groups my kids are involved in. More than just the natural reticence to open an all-female group up to a male, the problem is that the assumption of guilt overrides common sense in interaction. I'm presumed to be a perv when dealing with strangers' children.

This piece in the WSJ (one of several) hits it on the head very well. Sadly, as a male I'm simply not permitted these days to say that I love children.

The result of all this hyper-carefulness, however, is that men often feel like untouchables. In Cochranville, Pa., Ray Simpson, a bus driver, says that he used to have 30 kids stop at his house on Halloween. But after his divorce, with people knowing he was a man living alone, he had zero visitors. "I felt like crying at the end of the evening," he says.

What kind of kids are we raising in this atmosphere? What kind of behavior are we teaching men to do that is acceptable in such a climate?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Recognize your house?



Spy plane maps roof heat loss in London neighborhood. I can see some good coming out of this, although roof heat loss is the most expensive kind to fix. But it might lead to things like re-caulked windows, added attic insulation, door seals and so on. All to the good.

So long as this isn't used as a stick by government, to force homeowners into action. And I wouldn't put it past the UK to do just that.

What passes for "justice" for the Bush Administration

Apparently running while a Democrat is a crime. Who knew?

Fake win?

Only a matter of time, I suppose, before we started reading stories like this.

More quickies

Couple stays in Travelodge 22 years: I stayed in a Travelodge in England when I went there last--about three years ago--in Hammersmith. Nice, cheap place. But 22 years living out of your suitcases?

NFL determines Patriots cheated in videotaping Jets signals: This doesn't strike me as even being a fine line here. A clear violation. Suspend Coach B for two games--maybe that'll teach them to do it better.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thoughts on 9/11

I sit here in my office, more or less across the street from ground zero (two blocks away), and have thought about 9/11 quite a bit today, and the past few days. This was also reinforced by seeing the excellent (and not opinionated) Oliver Stone film, "World Trade Center" on one of the pay premium cable channels over the weekend. The horror, disbelief, shock, tragedy, loss and heroism told in this movie was very moving. Today I commuted downtown by bus instead of subway, but not out of fear, cos it was wet and so sticky and I did not want to sweat even more on the crowded subway platform. I'll be on the subways during the day and on the way home. I was fortunate not have lost anyone I knew or loved six years ago, but there is a sense of communal membership to this tragedy that is very overwhelming, not often discussed, maybe occassionally with family and friends. Today I have read the Journalists' Accounts of 9/11, and it is/was something. At this point, as it was back then for so many folks who were in the city, it helps to talk about it.

Realizing the memorial service was a block away, I just took a wet walk in the rain to observe. It's not easy, or potentially, not possible for uninvited pedestrians to get into the modest ceremony in the little park by the construction, but I was able to see and hear the officials read off the names of the people who perished. It never stopped...It must have been going on for a while and will be going on for a bit longer. They were on the "S's" when I left. Many locals and tourists and some prayer groups observing. Of course, a large police presence, too. I was wondering about the purpose of fire engine, with sirens and all, seemingly en route to an emergency coming down Broadway across the street from the service. I hoped it was just for something related to the ceremony, but probably not. Strange, eerie day.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Most corrupt countries list

Forbes' list of the most corrupt countries in the world, as compiled by Transparency International, is a yearly exercise in bracing, depressing, and needed news. I realize that here in the US we have a problem with wealth concentration, but it is nothing like what is going on in the poorest countries in the world, in which billions of dollars (much of it in the form of aid for the poor) gets funnelled into the hands of literally a handful of people.

In many places, a $1000 would make you a very, very wealthy person. Imagine a billion dollars then, in a place like that. Then imagine it should have gone to keep people alive.

I'm not so cynical as to think that simply cutting off aid will somehow make things better. People will still be poor and die unhealthy and short lives. But throwing money away isn't helping squat.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Riduculing Bin Laden

A reader at Andrew Sullivan gets it. We need to stop doing bin Laden's work for him.

There's no better way to psychologically disarm a bully than ridicule. It is the opposite of fear.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Kickin' Ass?

How can you change this course?

If this sorta hearsay is actually true, I think it just defines and reinforces why we got into Iraq and why we are still in Iraq. This is consistent thinking (speaking) though. Remember, "bring 'em on"...? This is one of the reasons I would not mind having Hillary as president. Women don't have as much testosterone. Of course, there are exceptions, but in general, this macho, big penis, rambo mentality of many rulers is what starts wars. And Dick's Bush is no exception. And a dumb-ass macho ruler at that. Oy veh what a mess the next leader is going to have to try and clean-up...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Playing us for a sucker.

And they are probably right.

On a related note, a new neighbor moved in a few days ago. He's a "big Hannity fan" and listens to Rush pretty much every day. But noooo, he's not a Republican. He's an "independent." Who believes we need to stay in Iraq in order to contain Iran. He couldn't wait for Fred Thompson to announce, mostly (it seemed to me) because all his other candidates sucked.

Republicans have done to their own name what they did to the word "liberal." People are running away from it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ugliest lottery winner, hands down.

I suppose I shouldn't be so down on the guy, but holy cow:



Now that he's worth $82 million or so, I bet he'll still be the target of goldiggers...

Deciding for The Decider

One of the problems in the early parts of the Iraqi war was disbanding the Iraqi army. By allowing the only national force to disappear into the civil population with training, weapons, and tactical knowledge, we set the stage for much of the violent disunity that was to come.

Even The Decider realizes this was a mistake (and anytime Bush acknowledges a mistake, he should be encouraged. You can't fix problems if you don't admit they exist).

But hold your thanks: Bush doesn't know how the army came to be disbanded.

Oops.

Today's mini blog

Botched police raids (and perhaps some aren't mistakes at all...)

Some background over why our staunchest ally in Iraq has left in disgust

Studying to the Test: The Surge Report Card and Military Priorities

Banned books

Once again, Banned Books Week is rolling around. I don't want to get into the reasons why books are challenged or banned, only to note that the internet is figuring out a way to still get those books into the hands of people anyway.

As much as I dislike Google Book Search (for copyright reasons), their Explore Banned Books is the perfect response to challenged and banned books. Kudos.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

What I'm wasting time on instead of blogging

Don't get me wrong--I'm still reading the news, reading blogs, etc. But Pinch Hitter has just sucked up my time the last few days.

I'm up to level 9, but have been stuck there awhile now.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Prostate cancer testing: No change in survival rates?

This is a sobering article.

Seems very counterintuitive, but I know nothing about prostate cancer treatments. If there is really no treatment, then early detection of this disease is merely buying you more worry time. One of 34 men will die of this disease. In my high school class of 270, about 8 will die of this disease.

Mini blog of the day.

Just some stuff that caught my eye:

Lousiana towns ban drooping pants Wait until the plumbers union hears this.

Rep Young's pork cannot be returned (yet) Seems a little much. The public didn't comment on getting the pork in the first place. If the authorities want to give it back, let them.

Square watermelons. For a lot of money. In Japan (of course).

Why not just slice up the watermelon before putting it into the fridge?

Mixed signs in latest Census data

Household income up because more households are going to a two-income household (individual incomes are down).

Health insurance is being lost by those making $75 K & up, as a result of fewer employer-offered plans.

Overall poverty rate is down slightly, which is good news no matter what else we are seeing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another facet to the disaster...

Hilzoy, sitting in for Andrew Sullivan highlights yet another disastrous decision by The Decider in Iraq.

Americans don't mind so much the seat-of-your-pants decision-making, so long as you are getting them right. That is, when the political instincts are working, making decisions in this way would confirm the decision of the American people to trust the President, and his instincts.

But stories like this merely widen our horror.

Worst. President. Ever.

Why are Congress' approval numbers so low?

Glenn Greenwald puts to the lie that "Americans don't want Congress to do investigations"

This reflects something I've been repeating for some time.
The President has very low approval ratings because he's been godawful. Congress has very low approval ratings because they continue to pull their punches.

As much as I dislike the way the "progressives" have turned themselves into Republican-lite in their methods, they are exactly right (and were ahead of the curve) on their calls for Congressional investigations of this Administration, pulling out of Iraq, and in general rolling back the additional powers the President gained after 9/11.

Congress simply isn't doing the will of the people. And their numbers reflect the disappointment that many have with them over the point. Dems are squandering their advantage, and continuing to roll over for the President (such as the most recent expansion of his spying powers) will nail them to the wall.

Senator Craig and his visit to the men's room

I have to admit that I agree with TPM Reader LA

There seems to be a larger point missing from all the "rush to judgement" bloggers out there, who like nothing more than to wag their fingers in the faces of gay Republicans getting into trouble for sexual reasons. If Craig wasn't a Republican, wouldn't the not-so-"progressive" bloggers be talking more about the lack of a crime? Or perhaps excusing the whole thing as possibly being between consenting adults.

Sometimes the Left can be more hypocritical than anything on the Right.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Carpetbaggers vs whistleblowers: Which side to you think the Administration is on?

Whistleblowers getting screwed.

This is what happens when you have a government led by a group who dislike the idea of government, throwning money at carpetbaggers a half-a-world away.

The Paranoid President, with nothing to lose.

President co-opts the troops

Nothing entirely new here, except that the President, with nothing to lose, continues to push the envelope of what should and should not be political.

And he's laying the groundwork for blaming others for the mistakes he committed himself.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Congress reduced to an advisory capacity

Congress' role, it seems, is just "advisory."

This piece should be required reading of Democratic lawmakers. They really need to stop believing that the Administration is "bargaining," let alone in "good faith." The Administration is going to do what it wants, and laws don't matter.

How not to govern...

White House gets their hand slapped on their "friends only" policy yet, they still don't get it.

The overt politicalization of the White House seems obvious at this point, particularly when compared to many administrations in the past, of both parties. Somehow a group of people openly hostile to most of the ideas of government at the federal level, with unheard-of levels of cynicism (see Rove, Karl "THE Math"), threw away the deepest support an Administration will have for many years to come, because they didn't actually know what to do when they got everything they wanted.

Used to be that the Dems were the ones who shoot themselves in the foot (and this Congress seems on the verge of doing just that--by refusing to follow through on the main reason they were given the majority in the first place). But a lot of things got turned around with this Administration.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Rogue contractor" charges $900K to ship two 19 cent washers

South Carolina contractor billed $68,000 for parts, $20.5 million for shipping

Is the military now getting their parts on Ebay?

Wonder how these guys thought they would get away with it. It sounds like suddenly finding your $300 paycheck was credited as $30000 in your account, then going crazy with the money. It really is only a matter of time when you are talking about these kinds of numbers.

"Petraeus" Report

This LA Times story appears to get it both right and wrong:

According to the officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus is expected to propose the partial pullback in his September status report to Congress...

and, later,

Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

So we were led to believe that the General would be making a status report to Congress, not presenting a "Petraeus" Report written by the White House .

Add this to the long list of "stuff Bush misled us about."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jose Padilla and the soul of America

The circular reasoning of torture, all laid out with a pretty bow.

The Jose Padilla case is enough to make any American just vomit. The way this country has just eased its way into a torturing, fearful place in which the rule of law simply doesn't exist is the kind of thing we'll look back on in a decade or two and go "What the fuck??"

This could only have been pulled off by a group of people who simply have a misplaced sense of what government is all about, "led " by a man who insists, time and time again, that he "took an oath to protect the people of the United States" (hint to W: You didn't. Ironically, the only oath you took, which you've trashed, is to protect the Constitution). We've finally got some broad push-back on this point, after years of single stories about heroes such as William Kuebler.

I genuinely believe we ourselves will be judged by our reactions to this expansion of power, often used for petty (at best) or evil (at worst) purposes.

Who died first?

Order of wrestler Chris Benoit's killings important to determine proceeds of estate

One of those "who would have though it mattered?" stories.

Shell hits roadblock for new Arctic drilling

SF appeals court sides with environmental & Native groups

New passport rules snagging back child support

One of the few good things to come out of the new passport rules is that the State Department is now collecting millions of dollars in back child support . If a person is reported to owe more than $2500 in back support, they can't get a passport until they cough up the money.

Good news, from my perspective.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rudy and 9/11 hot air

The 5 lies of Rudy about 9/11

I think the writer can do without asides such as "so-called War on Terror" (though he probably doesn't know he's even saying it that way). But the hits are right on.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Storm Behind the Storm: Foreign Policy and the 2008 Election

Glenn Greenwald takes up the banner, brought to light by all the flapping over Obama's non-gaffes, about foreign policy scholars and their stranglehold over the foreign policy debates and how they are framed.

I'm not quite as ga-ga as Glenn over Samantha Power's memo as he is, but I believe it does represent the kind of new thinking that Obama brings to the table, which makes his candidacy very powerful.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall with his usual good analysis of the poltical jostling behind the scenes helps lay out some of what we might see in the coming months. For Clinton to be successful, she'll need to keep hammering at actual or potential weaknesses of Obama on foreign policy. Obama, on the other hand, seems to be on his game and just has to stay on it to keep playing to his own strengths.

Chickenhawks and Mitt Romney

The Romney thing well, the latest thing anyway, is getting bounced around the political echo chamber some more, mostly because Romney's explanation doesn't seem to clear it up very much.

I only post this because Hugh Hewitt ("He's so 2003") who never lets facts get into the way of a good beatin', claims this was a "lefty" thing and complains of Romney getting picked on.

Liz Mair, guest-blogging for Andrew Sullivan, points out through a more recent Mitt-ism that shooting yourself in the foot (or putting your foot in your mouth--pick your own podalic analogy) isn't really "getting picked on" but is more along the lines of "culling the herd."

AT&T Censors PL Lyrics Critical of Bush

AT&T Jams Pearl Jam

AT&T blames this incident on an overzealous "junior content monitor," but Eddie and co. are right on in their Response that the sponsor's censorship of their webcast has far broader implications than a one-time case of poor judgment.

This stuff scares me, and makes me wonder if we are heading towards the gov't I saw portrayed (albiet in Britain) in "V for Vendetta." I saw the Beastie Boys last night in Central Park, and the show was for a benefit for the environment. The performers stayed away from political commentary, but I'd like to think that if they had, it'd be heard, as it was intended. When corporations make decisions about what people need to hear, with $ signs the motivation, a few are more secure in their fiscal riches, but we're all poorer otherwise (how melodramatic!).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Partisanship...

Following-up on walk's post below about partisanship, I came across this piece by Anne-Marie Slaughter , which I've posted a draft of this post as a comment there. Many of the comments are what we've come to expect from "progressives" trying to out-do themselves in their condemnation of all things Republican.

Truth be told, Democrats don't win elections if they don't make efforts to appeal to people who vote Republican (for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of a lack of party discipline brought about because most people follow their ideology first, party second, while GOP voters are the opposite).

Many progressives are making the same arguments the Bush Administration makes in its dealings with North Korea, making a series of pre-conditions to negotiation. At this point, however, many Republicans are looking for cover, and running across a no-man's land in the middle. To meet halfway, Democrats already need to be there. Let's jetison this childish "they need to go halfway first" attitude. That isn't the attitude of leadership.

There are all sorts of things that Democrats and Republicans can agree upon, and partisanship of the sort advocated by many progressives (a sort of Cheneyism on the left) would involve salting the earth in the middle in retaliation for years of hardcore partisanship on the Right.

In the end, partisanship hurts the party, and the ability to move its agenda forward. It makes it more difficult for GOP members to support us. It buys into the hateful elections (thereby discouraging fresh candidates). It shrinks the tent of the party when we can be expanding it to include people who can contribute new and innovative ideas.

We need to stop thinking that every Republican is Dick Cheney or Rick Santorum and acting accordingly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Politics: Whine & Cheese

How Partisan Do Politics Have to be?

You know, I know that we have two divided political parties. I know our system is broken in that there are only really two parties. I know Nader says they are much more alike than different (I dunno if I agree), but I what I don't know, what I don't get, is why or how our political parties are so against each other. This "us" or "them" mentality, win at all costs, attain and remain in power seemingly is completely missing the picture of what is best for our country. Clearly, obviously, tenets of both parties make sense, but not when it's an "us against them philosophy." So, in this ironic editorial by Republican Senator Beohner, he complains that the Dems stole a close vote on immigration last week. It was close, and apparently the Dems did muck it up (admitting such, sorta), but c'mon, you wanna talk "stolen votes"... I mean (presidential) elections (that have much greater and negative consequences)?

I wanna know how the next leader of this country is going to work in a bi-partisan way, with members of the opposition party, for example, in his or her cabinet, meeting with members of both parties to avoid groupthink, etc. I want a leader (I personally, I think Obama gets this) who realizes and is not afraid to endorse potential policies and decisions advocated by "the other side." I am not naive to believe that our two national parties will stop the we/they thinking (thanks Carl, for making it even more extreme), but I think, hope, that there are some leaders out there who will try to rise above it. We need it.

A Living Buddhist? I'm sorry, but you'll need to apply for permission to be reincarnated...

At first, this story about China requiring applications for re-incarnation reads like a spoof. But I can see how China, led by its own bureacracy, is merely acting as a large group of bureaucrats would: Incorporate the unknown (religion) into the known (application and approval process) in order to further the political goals of the government.

Monday, August 06, 2007

CIA black sites

Someday we'll look back on reporting like this one, on CIA black sites as the beginning of the attempt by the media to redeem themselves from being mere cheerleaders and/or dupes from 2002 through 2006 or so.

Boy found floating in the Dead Sea after 6 hours

Boy floats in Dead Sea for 6 hours after father leaves him by accident

A very interesting story. But is the mention of the father's religion important to this story? I think not.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Where corrupt politicians go to hide...

Surpreme Court gives corrupt politicians a place to hide the evidence.

A better indication--early states only?

Obama & Edwards looking good in Iowa

The national polls that I've seen have Clinton up about 12% over Obama. But perhaps we should actually be looking at thos early states: Iowa, South Carolina & New Hampshire.

Iowa is virtually tied at the top. New Hampshire is also a virtual tie between Clinton & Obama. South Carolina has a slight lead for Obama, but take a look at the movement from July 2 through July 31 for ARG: Obama has moved from 21% to 33%, taking numbers away from both Clinton & Edwards.

Things are really looking good for Obama. Clinton has built up a very good machine, but I think the strategy was to get in early and large, and snuff out the competition early. That hasn't happened, and the mistake for Clinton is that she's front-loaded enough that if she has to go head-to-head against a surging Obama it's tough for her to make the case that she isn't Bush-lite in comparison.

Pro-surge AND pro-withdrawal?

It is expected that the September report on Iraq will indicate that the surge is working, regardless of what is actually happening on the ground. That's because Patreaus (despite being a very good soldier and general) is a lackey of the Administration.

One interesting twist was recently exhibited by Mitt Romney, who stated that "if the surge is working, let's get the hell out." Of course, a pro-surge and pro-withdrawal policy is something that only Romney might be able to pull off, but there is a perverse logic to it. Give the surgers what they want until the report, let them report their successes, then leverage those stated successes into a drawdown.

It is very similar to what we should be doing with nearly all government programs: The more succeessful you are at accomplishing your goals, the more we should close the books on you.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Inside the surge

Sometimes is it best to simply let the soldiers talk for the soldiers .

I, for one, am sick of people (all sides, but particularly the Administration and their lackeys) telling us what the troops think. I agree that the troops want to complete their mission and leave it as a success. But troops also want peace, and not to see their fellow soldiers thrown into a breach contrived into existence by the Administration and whooped on by Generation Chickenhawk.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Obama and the War on Terror

There's been some ink spilled over Obama's "dustup" with Clinton regarding pre-conditions to meeting with certain foreign leaders. A tempest in a teapot, it seems to me, and many of those writing about it really need to get outside more and wean themselves from their crack cocaine-like dependence upon commenting at-length on election "news" this early in the cycle.

Nevertheless, Obama seems to be fleshing out his foreign policy priorities, and his speech today put out a number of things it seems that the next Commander-in-Chief will have to deal with. The new direction regarding Pakistan (which mirrors what I've been saying for years) is exactly the right touch, IMO.

Andrew Sullivan, among others, seems to like it.

Not that it matters...

70% think Gonzo should be investigated

Bush will hold onto Fredo as long as he can. There is no other person that the Senate would confirm as AG that would take the bullets this man is taking for the President in particular and the Administration's policies in general.

I'm attending a "town meeting" next week with Arlen Spector. It'll be interesting what he has to say about all this.

Mayor Bloomberg's Commute

A Non-Typical Commute

When I read this article, I was a bit surprised, and disappointed. Let me set the context. I live and work in NYC, and have done so for 13 years. I live within walking distance of our mayor, and am very close to his unused mansion and across the street from one of our former mayor's -- Il Rudy's -- residences. I like mayor Mike very much, much more than Rudy. Bloomberg is smart, reasonable, pragmatic, and a superior leader-manager, and many of his policies are aligned to my way of thinking (lucky me!). I am literally worried about what will happen to NYC when he has to step down and someone else is elected. Our city needs a socially conscious business person like Bloomberg running it. Otherwise, we will have a fiscal mess.

Still, I have one little issue that has just surfaced. Mike has made it clear publicly how he is proud that he uses the subway to commute from the upper east side to City Hall. Even though we take the same line, I've never seen him, but I guess we commute at different times. In this instance, Mike is saying he practices what he preaches, using mass transit and avoiding polluting our air and streets with exhaust and congestion. However, I now find out that in order to avoid transferring from the local 6 train at 77th street (near his townhouse) to the express 4/5 trains at 59th street, he is chauffeured by a large Chevy suburban from his home to the 59th street station, so that he may get on the express train directly. This seems to defeat the purpose, taking a fat car to get to the subway (I know, the suburban vehicle is a police issued protection car, but that's not the point). Still, I'm pretty much okay with it, but not okay with publicity beforehand that he was proud to take the subway. Moreover, I'm particularly baffled by the quote from one of his aides responding to a reporter's question about the extent to which this semi-public subway Bloombergian commute typifies the average NYers subway commute. The answer was sorta: "What is a typical commute?" I tellya what it aint, it aint a ride, in a fat gas guzzling car to a subway. It's the transfer from the local to the express. No one does what Mike is doing here. So, I am perturbed that Mike and his staff did not tell it like it is from the get-go. It doesn't feel right.

Is this a big deal? No, not really, but just sticks in my craw because of the somewhat misleading impression we were given all along. "Spin." Even from one of my favorite politicians.

- walk

Monday, July 30, 2007

Money money money

Sunlight Projects is a blog dedicated the the grunt work of investigating Congressional spending transparency.

They do great work, and should be encouraged by anything with even a vague interest in how our tax dollars are spent. The less accountability, the more money is wasted, as we saw with the balooning of "earmarks" during the Congresses in the Bush Administration before Dems took over in January.

RATM vs. Fox News

RATM

I am sorry I missed this show, but even with the proximity to my apt, age, memory and stamina caused me to skip out on a rap festival. However, I have seen Rage several times and they are dynamic. Zach de la Rocha is more than just a voice. He means what he says. To read that Hannity and Coulter actually commented on Zach's rants is very amusing. Zach and Tommy Morrell would crush them...with bass in their face. "Why stand on a silent platform, fight the war, fuck the norm."

It's good to see RATM back together. I saw them in Oakland back in 1993 or so. What a trip. Love their music.

What irks me are Coulter's comments: "blah blah blah losers...there's a lot of violence coming from the left." Would that be the violence in Iraq? The surge? The continued ad-hoc funding of the war by the (lefty?) administration? I don't know that this violence looks like. We're not starting wars, shooting folks in the face, or saying: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." But I guess we're the violent one's.

Rock on, and feel the RAGE.
- walk

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The "What You Don't Know Can't Hurt My Administration" List

One of the more ham-fisted efforts by the Administration to control and direct the flow of information:

Repressed reports and other "public" information

Glad someone's started a list. Any more examples?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Signs that things aren't working in Iraq

Iraqi government refuses to take on thousands of American-funded reconstruction projects.

I'd be interested in what the Iraqi government thinks will happen. Maybe they are just overworked, without the necessary backoffice help even to track, let along move forward, all these projects. Betcha a working oil-revenue sharing agreement would free up some cash to get this done.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Electricity? Who needs it when the surge is kicking ass!

I meant to post this earlier today, but thanks, Andrew Sullivan, for the kick in the pants.

Withholding information about how often the city of Baghdad has electrical power seems to me a key statistic in determining if the "surge" is securing the city or not.

Sometimes the Administration's attempts to spin an information web looks very silly.

The heroism of everyday people

McClatchy with an update on Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, who is calling a spade a spade on the Gitmo detainees.

Now, before I get hate comments, let me just say that there are some nasty people being held there. People who should have the book thrown at them. But they won't--because Bush is re-writing it as he goes along and, well, it often doesn't match the version of "justice" upon which this country was founded and grew.

One of the ironies of this Administration is the willingness to portray American's morality as leading the way in the world, all the while undercutting that morality through unethical and illegal behavior, often for vindictive, spiteful, for publicity reasons.

I gave the Administration the benefit of the doubt right after 9/11. Many of us did, because we simply couldn't imagine how morally-bankrupt (through and through) this flag-waving, Bible-thumping, self-confident bunch of loonies the Administration would become.

And now they've got nothing to lose. We need to encourage Republicans in Congress to stop being partisan and start being conservative (indeed, that's been the Democratic problem for some time--Party members tend to be liberals first, party members second). End the WINO (Waverer In Name Only) Brigade!

Pat Tillman story

An evolving story, but clearly the wheels are coming off the government's side of this, as more documents in the Pat Tillman story reveal lots and lots of coverup.

Kudos to the mother for sticking with it.

Teachers & students, kissing in a, well...theater, camping tent, a van in the church parking lot...

I'm not one to link to WorldNetDaily often, but this is just bang-up work:

Women teachers having sex with students: A roundup

What happens in the barn, stays in the barn

More shrillness by the "dumb vegans".

Man, what ever happened to the days when what happened between a man and his pony wasn't dredged up by do-gooder vegans?

Tragic (truly) but sometimes gorilla warfare is hell...

Gorillas found shot to death in the Congo

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Time for a new start

I've been plugging along in a half-assed way on DPS for some time, zonbie-like, and I'd really prefer to keep it going. But the whole MT thing is far too clunky anymore, and until I figure out how to convert it all to WordPress I'm just going to lay low on DPS for awhile.

I'll post here at least once a day, I think, probably several times a day. So, there you go.