Friday, March 31, 2006

N.Y. Supreme Court Justice, 2000 Bush Florida 'observer' ousted for corruption.

[UPDATE: I posted this on D.Kos and 'Clyde' left a very informative comment. I thought it is important to understand due to the title of this post so his comment is this:
FYI, a 'Supreme Court' in NY is a lower court... it's in what other states would be called a superior court. It handles cases that are higher than a certain amount of money. If it screws up, you can appeal its decisions to its Apellate Division. If the Apellate Division screws up, the last step (before Federal courts) is the NY State Court of Appeals. So "Supreme Court" may sound like the highest court in NY state, but it's actually two levels down.]

The Seattle P.I. brings us this news regarding Republican Judge/activist Thomas Spargo:
A state commission has recommended removing a judge who sought donations to his defense fund from lawyers who were trying cases before him.

In the opinion released Friday, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct also scolded Justice Thomas Spargo for giving out $5 gift coupons for gas and coffee and buying drinks for potential voters in a local campaign in 1999.

Spargo will accept the removal rather than appeal to the state's highest court, said his lawyer, E. Stewart Jones Jr.

The Republican judge, reached at his chambers in Albany, declined to comment on the commission's actions.

The watchdog commission said Spargo "conveyed an appearance of exploiting his judicial office for personal benefit" when he and friends pressured the lawyers to contribute to a fund created to help pay for his battle against the commission over complaints filed since January 2002.
Now you might wonder why some lefty blogger from Oregon gives a hoot about some righty judge in N.Y. being frogmarched out of office. It is because of Judge Spargos involvement in the Florida recount debacle of 2000.

New York's Commission on Judicial Conduct has longstanding rules that stopped Judges from overt partisan political activities with the eye to forcing voters to consider judges based solely upon their individual qualifications. Recently federal courts have loosened these rules so the issue of Judge Spargo's conduct in the Florida recount was not the reason for the Judges dismissal by the commission.

However it just seems to be common sense that Judges, who are supposed to be fair and balanced, (not Fox news fair and balanced mind you) should not be engaged in activities that would call that objectiveness into question. And the actions taken by Judge Spargo in Florida were politically inflammatory to say the least.

Most notably Judge Spargo was part of the organized riot that featured so many prominent republican Congressional staffer during the Miami-Dade recount. Judge Spargo actually said
"There was a relatively good-natured socialization that was going on,"
It sure is nice to know that Judge Spargo considers disenfranchising the vote and intimidating elections workers "good natured" socializing, but I think it is a freaking disgrace! The Republicans moved in a bunch of politically connected out of staters and caused a huge scene during the recount. As related by Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal:
The tipping point came Wednesday, after the Florida Supreme Court said manual counts must be included, but by a Sunday deadline. The three canvassers reacted first by dropping a complete recount, thus omitting pro-Bush Cuban-American precincts. They would count only the 10,750 ballots that machines had spit out for no presidential vote. These were mostly from Democratic precincts.

Then the Three Counting Sages repaired to semi-isolation, forcing TV cameras to watch through a window and keeping reporters 25 feet away. That did it. Street-smart New York Rep. John Sweeney, a visiting GOP monitor, told an aide to "Shut it down," and semi-spontaneous combustion took over.
So we actually have an out of state Judge who was involved in stopping the democratic process in Florida. The federals have given him a pass on that particular issue. Yet however it was done, I do think this Judge was given what he deserves.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Pentagon stifles EPA scientists

According to The Guardian (hat tip to Raw Story ) the Pentagon used politcal appointees at the Environment Protection Agency to quash the findings of EPA scientists:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigated the solvent, trichloroethylene, extensively used on military bases, after significant quantities were found in water supplies. In its report, published in 2001, the EPA found it to be 40 times more likely to cause cancer than had been previously thought, and recommended tough safety standards to limit public exposure. There was also evidence the chemical played a role in birth defects.

But the Los Angeles Times reported that the defence department, which owns 1,400 bases and other sites contaminated by trichloroethylene (TCE), fought the findings, challenging their scientific basis. Under pressure from the Pentagon, political appointees at the EPA overruled their own scientists, took them off the case and postponed action pending a further study by the National Academy of Sciences, which is due to report this summer.

"The evidence is that there was some monkey business going on between the EPA and the Pentagon," said Gina Solomon, an expert on environmental medicine at the University of California, who was on the scientific board that reviewed the EPA report. "The 2001 report was an excellent piece of scientific work," Dr Solomon told the Guardian.
Thus we have yet another example of this administrations war on science. When the science does not fit the policy the political appointees simply ignore the scientists.

President Bush recently has talked about educating more scientists. In the most recent state of the union address he called for training 70,000 math and science teachers. Just yesterday the administration floated a proposal to hold schools accountable for low testing scores in science. (HAH! I linked to the Washington Times in support of bashing Bush!)

This clearly is a tailor made case of the fittingness of the admonition "physician, heal thyself". Before the President pretends to be the benefactor of future generations of science, he ought to correct the attitude of his administration to modern day science which does not comport to their world view.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tony Snow hearts Dick Cheney

Right off the bat let me advise readers that I am not a regular viewer of Fox News. Nor do I make a point of flipping the radio to the various shows hosted by Fox News personalities. I will admit that every now and then I'll be flipping through the channels and happen across Fox... finding myself transfixed in horror at the spectacle of it all, until i come to my senses and quickly flip the channel.

Today Tony Snow interviewed Dick Cheney on his radio show. I didn't actually hear the interview mind you... I happened across the transcript of it at (Click that link at your own risk my gullible friends, we all know how concerned the White House has been lately about our privacy. If I start getting fundraising mail from Ken Mehlman I think I'll be able to figure out how he got my info...)

The first thing that leaps off the screen when you read that transcript is how sickeningly Mr. Snow panders to the Vice President. Just check some of these cream cheese with chocolate covered frosting queries Mr. Snow delivers to Mr. Cheney:
Are you saying that the Democrats, rather than as they have promised to do, to capture bin Laden, that they'd be giving in to him instead?
Gee I don't know Tony... did he SAY that, or are you asking him to say it with that goofy question?
Q Today's release by Democrats contains a lot of second-guessing about what led up to the war and the early execution of it, including the notion that it was based on faulty security. Recently a number of documents that had been retrieved from Iraq have been translated, and what we're starting to get is a picture of Saddam Hussein actively involved in training terrorists, and even talking about weapons of mass destruction. Is it possible that we actually underestimated Saddam's involvement in the international terror network?
NEWSFLASH!! Tony Snow now has proof that Mr. Cheney actually under stated Saddams connections with terrorism. Further examination of the issue however (and believe me, whenever you hear it from the mouth of Tony Snow or Dick Cheney et al, further examination is always a great idea) brings us a newly released document that details a meeting in 1995 between an Iraqi stooge and Al Qaeda in Sudan. The main thrust of the meeting by the way was for Saddam to allow some fundamentalist preacher on Iraqi radio. The 9/11 commission documents meetings between Iraqi's and Al Qaeda in 1994 & 1995 so this is hardly breaking news here. And if Ralph Reed had dispatched Jack Abramoff to meet an Iraqi stooge in hopes of getting the 700 club broadcast in Iraq they would have thought they were doing their best to bring the word of God to the misbegotten Iraqi masses. There is nothing there Mr. Snow despite your leading questioning of Mr. Cheney.

The lovefest continued on Tony's show:
Q I want to be clear because I've heard you say this, and I've heard the President say it, but I want you to say it for my listeners, which is that the White House has never argued that Saddam was directly involved in September 11th, correct?
Yes! Lets be clear here. The fact is the administration DID argue that Saddam was involved with 09/11, as proven by the fact that the notification sent by the President to Congress regarding the invasion of Iraq included the following language:
acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
How one reads that notification to the Congress as anything other than a link between Saddam and 09/11 is beyond me. There are several other famous public instances of the administration doing the same thing, but it would be redundant at this point to dredge up the links.

Continuing with the Snow show transcript, here is Tony helpfully providing the Vice President with the opportunity to justify illegal activities by this administration while trying to make Democrats look weak:
Q Democrats also argue that they're going to improve intelligence gathering, at the same time they have opposed the National Security Agency's previous program of trying to conduct surveillance on electronic communications from al Qaeda -- known al Qaeda operatives, whether they're abroad or in the United States, and people within the United States. If that program had not been in place, would Americans have died?
Sheesh... If President Clinton was impeached for being serviced by an intern in the oval office, what punishment should there be for the Vice President being pleasured in Tony Snow's radio studio? I mean come on! This interview is nothing short of right wing political soft porn. No wonder Cheney demands all t.v. sets in his hotel rooms be tuned to Fox news. I will not even bother answering the several fallacies (nearly went falafel on you there... Oh look I did!) in the last question.

The Tony Snow job continues as he asks the Vice President to critique the effectiveness of the Democrats proposal for national security:
Q Mr. Vice President, got a half a minute, the last question -- do you think Democrats are playing with fire in this? Do you think this attempt to come up with a security strategy is going to backfire on them?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it is, because if you look at -- let me just give you one example. They talk about improving our security, and yet, Harry Reid went out and bragged about killing the Patriot Act. Fortunately, they didn't get it killed. We were able to beat them on it. But their behavior has been totally inconsistent with what they're now promising they're going to do.
How absolutely wonderful of Mr. Cheney to give Democrats this sage political advice. Knowing that this is the administration who was on watch as the twin towers fell, Al Qaeda membership exploded, our allies abandoned us because of our bull headed leadership in insisting on fighting a needless war, which war when won was horribly mis-managed leading to a quagmire, while the side that hates the west wins election after election in the middle east to the point that a terrorist organization now rules as the Palestinian Authority, tried to sell control of our ports with one of three governments who allied themselves with the Taliban... I mean the list just goes on and on of this administrations failures in the war on terror. Yet they now say Democrats can possibly be worse? I believe the accumulated brainpower of your average kindergarten class would do better than what we see now.

I would love for some impish hotel employee to switch the channel to The Daily Show or Countdown during a Vice Presidential visit... Except for the concern that said employee would probably wind up strapped to a waterboard in Guantanamo Bay.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Terror Cat of Connecticut

I'm having political writers block today. Goodness knows it's been slow what with Andrew Card out, Tom Delay opening his trap, the President effectively declaring who should not be Iraq's next Prime Minister, and the Senate deciding they like the way they control their ethics oversight just fine the way it is. But not having the ingenuity to say anything pithy about all that, and out of a fear of having Rustee, the feline ruler of my house find out that I did not post a cat story after tripping over it, I decided to post today on the story of Lewis... The Terror Cat of Connecticut. As related by the Connecticut Post:
Lewis, a 5-year-old, black-and-white longhaired cat, attacked at least a half-dozen people on the cul-de-sac and even took on the local Avon lady, neighbors say.

"He looks like Felix the Cat and has six toes on each foot each with a long claw," Sunset Circle resident Janet Kettman said. "They are formidable weapons."

Kettman said Lewis attacked her twice.
1st off, it should be obvious to anyone who cares why Lewis has issues. He has SIX toes on each foot! Obviously poor Lewis is the victim of some sort of horrible chemical/radiological/genetic mistake and in his addled brain whenever he takes on one of the neighbors, he is actually on the vast plains of the Serengeti with his lion brethren taking down an antelope.

Also, let me just assure this poor victim that the fact is that Lewis is merely playing with her. Being owned by a cat myself I know full well that if Lewis actually intended to do her harm she would either be hospitalized or dead right now!
"The Avon lady was getting out of her car when Lewis attacked her from behind," Kettman said. "She ended up going to the hospital."
Ok... I'll grant that the attack on the Avon lady by Lewis was probably with intent to injure. But she should at least be happy that after the amputation she can expect a full recovery.
Kettman called the Fairfield Police Department's animal control officer.

"I don't feel the cat could kill anybody, but it could latch onto people's legs and arms and bite and scratch to the point where they could be hospitalized," said Animal Control Officer Rachel Solveira.
So now it becomes apparent why Lewis has it in for Ms. Kettman. She narked on him! The reaction by the local authorities is nothing short of hilarious...
Solveira was so concerned about Lewis' attacks in the neighborhood of neatly kept homes off High Street that she placed a restraining order on him. It was the first time such an action was taken against a cat in Fairfield and possibly in the state. In effect, Lewis is under house arrest, forbidden to leave his home.
Hah! A restraining order on a CAT!! Rustee the terrible has been trying for over a year to have a restraining order served on me and my fiancee, that only allows us to put out food and water and to leave him alone at all other times (unless he signifies he needs petting by rubbing against our legs or flopping over on our feet purring or some other such obvious signal). Unfortunately he does not have opposable thumbs with which to sign the court documents. But I digress...
At first, the restraining order allowed the cat limited freedom if Cisero gave him Prozac. But the cat refused to take the drug, Cisero said. And it got out of the house and attacked another neighbor, Maureen Bachtig, according to police.
Oh lawdy lawdy lawdy! I am now trying to type coherently as tears of laughter stream down my face. A terror cat on Prozak! This seriously could make a great movie. I simply can not wait til we have dash cam footage of Lewis on a rampage and then being arrested and read his rights.

Reaching the end of the story we are left with this chilling picture:
"The neighborhood is afraid of this cat," Bachtig said. "Lewis will stare you down, and you never know how he will react."
Hey lady here's an idea! Don't get into stare downs with the insane terror cat cause he's gonna get ya!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Not letting the issue die...

With the release of dueling books by the parents and husband of Terri Schiavo, the issue of her death is back. On a political level this ought to be welcomed by those of us who believe in not allowing the state to take our end of life decisions away from us. It is apparent that while the right wing wacko's saw this issue as red meat, the rest of the nation drew a decidedly more sane take on the issue, to the continuing embarrassment of the Congress and the President.

One quote from the brother of Ms. Schiavo that I thought needed examining was this:
"Our family will never believe Terri wanted to die this way," Terri's brother, Bobby Schindler, said in an interview.
To me the issue is not whether Terri would have chosen to die as she did, but whether she would have chosen to live as she was forced to as the years went by, with this issue being used by the fanatical right for political purposes. The same group that insisted she be kept alive as a vegetable with one breath will use the next breath to harp on the sanctity of marriage. Let me make this clear. My future wife will and ought to have the full authority to speak for me if I ever find myself in similar circumstances, and I have faith she will make those decisions based upon what she knows I would decide if able, and out of love for me. That my friends is what the sanctity of marriage is all about.

So the next time some wingnut friend or family member of yours starts harping on the sanctity of marriage, which is almost always in an effort to deny gays the right to marry, to find out how sacrosanct they really think marriage should be, ask them how they felt about Michael Schiavo's (and Terri's) decision.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Rebutting Bens rebuttal...

Ben Domenech resigned from the Washington Post today following a firestorm of controversy after his hiring as a conservative blogger. The final straw for WAPO were many examples of what can only be termed serial plagiarism by Mr. Domenech. He responded by lashing out at every liberal in the entire world in this screed @ (Please DO NOT use that link unless you absolutely MUST read his discourse.)

Mr. Domenech falls back to the tried and true righty method of claiming victimhood status from liberals because of his conservative beliefs. He writes:
The truth is, no conservative could write for the Post without being subject to the gauntlet of the liberal attack machine.
The truth is that the original uproar was over the fact that the WAPO decided to hire a conservative blogger without balancing that hire with a liberal. By all means, if any non partisan paper in the nation wishes to keep the appearance of non partisanship and wants to hire a conservative blogger, more power to them, presuming they balance the hire with a liberal blogger as well. Prior to the issue of plagiarism being raised the point of nearly every liberal site who harped on this issue was to either hire both sides, or no side at all. Is there any one of my readers who actually believes that if a well known liberal voice were hired for a blog titled "Blue America" by the Washington Post that the entire koolaid drinking blogosphere would not rise in indignation?

Besides which I am seriously tired of hearing the continual whining of conservatives about how oppressed they are because of their politics. You have the White House, the Congress, Fox, 3/4 of MSNBC (hang in there brother Olbermann!) 9/10ths of Talk Radio (god bless Air America and brother Schultz) and the freaking Pope! Try being a liberal and getting your point across... talk about oppression. No sooner do you speak up then you are accused of bashing America (more on that later) and loving the terrorists. So give me a break with your little "I'm an oppressed conservative" sob story Mr. Domenech and get a job as a lobbyist or something.

Mr. Domenech soon goes to the meat of the issue, that being the charge of plagiarism. However the bridge he crosses to broach the subject is telling of itself. He writes:
in the course of accusing me of racism, homophobia, bigotry, and even (on one extensive Atrios thread) of having a sexual relationship with my mother, the leftists shifted their accusations to ones of plagiarism. You can find the major examples here: I link to this source only because I believe it's the only place that hasn't yet written about how they'd like to rape my sister.
So in the course of decrying the overblown, emotional rhetoric of liberals in response to his hiring, even mentioning a scandalous accusation regarding incestuous relations with his mother, Mr. Domenech reaches the same low by saying that most liberal sites who have raised the ruckus have written about assaulting his sister. He therefore is no better than the pot calling the kettle black, and surrenders what moral high ground he lays claim to by becoming emotional and slanderous himself.

Responding to the charges of plagiarism, Mr. Domenech says:
In one instance, I have been accused me of passing off P.J. O'Rourke's writing as my own in a column for the paper. But the truth is that I had met P.J. at a Republican event and asked his permission to do a college-specific version of his classic piece on partying. He granted permission, the piece was cleared with my editors at the paper, and it ran as inspired by O’Rourke’s original.
This if anything is an admission of the charge. The source of the material was not identified by Mr. Domenech when he wrote the offending article. Saying that the piece was inspired by O'Rourke seems to bypass the fact that it was copied part and parcel without attribution. For instance while this post may be inspired by Mr. Domenech's Redstate rebuttal, all the quotes which I use by him are attributed to him. I find it strange that Mr. Domenech attempts to debunk the charge of plagiarism by using an example of a case in which he clearly plagiarized.

In defending himself of charges that he plagiarized while writing for his college newspaper Mr. Domenech says:
Considering that all of this happened almost eight years ago, and that there are no files or notes that I've kept from that brief stint, it is simply my word against the liberal blogosphere on these examples. It becomes a matter of who you believe.
The examples of this plagiarism are clear. It is not a matter of who you believe when the example is laid out in all its damning details, unless you are talking to an ardent koolaid drinker who refuses to recognize simple truth. Look at the Salon article on this and try to find wiggle room as to how this is not what it clearly is.

The final shot in the rant of Mr. Domenech is simply to inflammatory to not respond to. He writes:
To my friends: thank you for your support. To my enemies: I take enormous solace in the fact that you spent this week bashing me, instead of America.
There are two points I would like to make here.

1: How is it that Mr. Domenech thinks that all liberals focused their wrath on him to the exclusion of what he terms as bashing America? I'm sure from his perspective that there really was nothing happening in the outside world as his universe was crashing down about him. However there are many many examples of my liberal brethren continuing to raise the issues they have all along.

2: The notion that liberals bash America really has got to be addressed whenever it enters the conversation. I believe that telling the truth about an administration gone off the tracks, and a Congress that shows no ability to conduct their constitutional obligations hardly constitutes bashing America. Indeed turning a blind eye and in so doing putting the interests of your party ahead of America is more damaging to our nation. I believe what I believe out of a deep sense of patriotism. Do you mean to honestly tell me that screaming from the rooftops that this administration is wrong to allow the torture of detainees is "bashing" America? That stain on our national honor is not placed there by the folks who point out the stain. It is there because of the misbegotten policies of this failed administration. When liberals point out the failings of this administration maybe conservatives would do well to put the koolaid away, and work to correct themselves, rather than bash us.

To my friends, I thank you for reading. To my enemies I take tremendous solace in the fact that your boy at the post only lasted three days on the job before he was bounced. Maybe next time they will get it right!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

WAPO Wingnut conveniently ignores certain facts...

"Red America" blogger Ben Domenech is flat busted for serial plagiarism . Since this is being picked up on by every big boy lefty blog on the internets, I would like to focus my "anti Ben" effort on Bens recent diatribe about the states involvement with end of life decisions

Ben's focus is on a recent case in England. I will copy and paste Ben's description of the case here:
In brief: A group of British doctors fought in court for the right to remove a fully-conscious little boy from a ventilator, over the objections of his parents, because they judged his quality of life to not be worth living.
See how simple that was? That is how you avoid being tagged a plagiarist. You credit your source! But I digress. To further flesh out the terms of the debate let me further quote from Bens article, and his conclusion in his own words.
The boy, referred to only as MB in court papers, is conscious and awake. His parents want his ventilation to be continued. But they had to fight to do so over the objections of the doctors, who argue that it would be in MB's "best interests" to be taken off of his ventilator.


It's one thing to rely on such recommendations to deprive an innocent person of liberty in an extreme situation (quarantine during an outbreak comes to mind), but that's a step that's only taken in defense of society. What was the harm of MB's life? How did his life, sadly shortened by disease, become an outrage? Does this mean that if MB stops enjoying Shrek or laughing with his parents, the doctors will deny him care?


When a group of people are given the de facto authority to decide that a living human boy is not a person, and therefore has none of the protections due to every person, we have crossed a very dangerous line. As ethicist Wesley J. Smith once wrote: "The ultimate purpose of personhood analysis is to determine whom we can kill and still get a good night's sleep."
I will encourage my readers to link to the article and do a search for two words. Bush and Texas. Those words are not mentioned once in Bens article. What is the point you ask?

The point is that in 1999 while Governor of Texas, George Bush signed into law the Advance Directives Act. This act allows hospitals in Texas to have end of life decisions determined by a doctor and an ethics committee. Which sounds REMARKABLY like the issue which so upset Ben in regards to the English law. In fact the law specifies that the patient may be unplugged from life support over the objections of their family... which again sounds remarkably similar to the case in England. Indeed the law has been used to do precisely that in the case of a child with dwarfism, which the doctors determined meant that the child would never be able to breathe on his own. Also there was the case of a cancer patient whose mother lived in Africa. When doctors decided to pull the plug they determined to do so exactly when the law allowed, not allowing time for the patients mother to travel to be with her daughter at time of death. Both of these cases occurred despite the express wishes of the family to keep their loved ones alive.

Yet Ben chooses to ignore the fact that President Bush (whom Ben thinks is fantastic by the way, as he lists him #4 in his list of best Presidents, with the possiblility of climbing the list) signed this law. He seems to stretch to give these end of life laws which he obviously has no use for the imprimatur of liberalism as a plot to kill off people we don't like with the snarky comment that Democrats would have removed Strom Thurmond from office using these laws. His entire schtick after all is misrepresenting the left... and using the copy and paste feature a bit more than he ought to.

The unhappy Brits

The Guardian has an article that seems to show some cracks developing in the relationship between America and England. The very first paragraph in the article contains this shocker:
A senior British military commander in the invasion of Iraq said the other day that Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, should be tried for war crimes. He was speaking in private and, I assume, did not mean to be taken literally. But there was no mistaking the anger in his voice.
This sentiment hardly speaks well of the attitude of our staunchest ally in the war on terror and the Iraqi debacle. Further reading of the article seems to point to several reasons that the British are not satisfied with the treatment they receive from their American allies based upon the following concerns.

1: The decision to disband the Iraqi security forces immediately following the invasion. The formal responsibility for this decision was laid at the doorstep of Paul Bremer, but the British seem to know that the actual decision was taken by Donald Rumsfeld. This decision is now widely viewed as a mistake even by the most ardent koolaid drinkers, but at the time the decision was carried out it contradicted British orders to their commanders in the field. It now is clear that the English were absolutely correct at the time and the results of this fumble have led to serious repercussions on the success of the Iraqi occupation.

2: The British knew well before the invasion that there was no effective planning for the occupation of Iraq. It seems clear that what planning the British did contemplate for sectors under their control was effectively cancelled by the American administration, as noted by the 1st issue above.

3: In Afghanistan the Defense Department seems to have reached an agreement with local warlords to look the other way in regards to the opium harvest. 90% of heroin in England flows from Afghanistan. The English have been very keen to eradicate the opium crop but are encountering resistance from the Americans on the grounds that we do not wish to alienate the warlords.

4: Despite continued British support in the war on terror, the American side of the alliance has shown time and again an intransigence regarding bi-lateral issues. To quote the article:
What is Washington doing in return for all Blair's help? Bush has blocked a billion-dollar deal with Rolls-Royce to build engines for the proposed joint strike fighter - which Britain wants for its two new aircraft carriers - despite repeated lobbying from Blair. The US still refuses to share advanced military technology with us. It is refusing to let British agencies question terrorist suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged September 11 mastermind; it won't even say where they are being held.

Is it in Britain's national interest to be so closely allied to a US that takes Britain for granted, to an administration that sets up Guantanamo Bay - where the treatment of prisoners led a high-court judge to remark that "America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilized nations"?
I also would like to throw in the issue of the Kyoto treaty on global warming, which has been repeatedly championed by Tony Blair only to be ignored by President Bush.

With Prime Minister Blair beset by the the Loans for Lordship scandal (that would be Lordgate for American readers) the case may be that he does not want further controversy in already stormy seas and will sweep these differences under the rug. Then again, with the administration of George Bush being intensely unpopular with the English citizenry, Blair may wish to change the subject in a politically popular way and start making noise about these issues on the home front. If that is the case, one can only wonder how the notoriously thin skinned George Bush will take criticism from his staunch ally?

One final note from my perspective on the similarity of American and British politics. I find it ironic that both nations seem to be led by people who do not really represent their respective political parties very well. If I were a liberal in England I would be highly perturbed by Tony Blair. (Let me tell you that while Bill Clinton was President I thought Blair was fantastic. The Blair/Clinton team on international affairs really was quite impressive. I fear however that Blair has forever ruined the laurels he gained in those halcyon days by his disastrous lap dog approach to the Bush administration.) Yet it appears that British liberals in large part have no real alternative to go to on election day.

On American politics the choice given to conservative voters appears even grimmer. Vote Republican and get these whackos that spend like flower girls on speed. Vote Democrat and you vote for godless commies who want to surrender N.Y. to Osama. (According to Fox news and the current administration anyway.) At least the British have the ability to vote for minor party candidates that have a hope at forming a block in a governing coalition. The average American conservative is really stuck in a hard spot... (unless they go beyond the typical propaganda from Fox, the administration, and the local right wing koolaid dispensing preacher man.)

2nd non political post in a row! James Earl Jones voices Chef?

I just watched the Chef Returns episode of South Park. I am convinced that James Earl Jones is actually going to be the new Chef/Vader and that the last few lines were not some sort of impersonation. My fiancee disagrees and thinks that James Earl Jones would never do it. I have no way of knowing as this just aired so I thought I'd see if anyone who may read this... 1: cared, and 2: had their own opinion. I think it would be absolutely PERFECT if Jones voiced Chef.

(South Park is a big hit in my home in case you couldn't tell!) :P

Just to throw a political slant on the whole South Park issue, if you think it is ridiculous that Comedy Central pulled the Out of the Closet episode under pressure from Tom Cruze, check out this petition from fans calling on Comedy Central to get some cajones!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Holy moly this guy is DUMB!

I like to keep things on this blog pretty much in the political sphere, but I found a story about the dumbest druggie on the face of the planet and just had to share.

Here is the title and the gist of the story:
Man Arrested After Asking Officers To Test Crack Pipe

Phillip Williams doubted whether he was being sold actual crack cocaine, police say. So he approached two uniformed Tampa officers and allegedly asked them to test his crack pipe so he could be sure.

Turned out Williams, 47, was getting the real thing, and he was arrested shortly after approaching the officers Tuesday morning.

Williams is listed in jail records as a security worker at MacDill Air Force Base. He is charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia.
My cubemates and I were laughing our butts off at this character. We really really hope this was caught on dash-cam!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

IRS double talk called by Barak Obama

On Dec. 7, the IRS issued a news release titled "IRS Issues Proposed Regulations to Safeguard Taxpayer Information". Odd thing about this news release is that hidden in the proposal is language allowing third party tax preparers (you know... H&R - Block and so on) to sell your tax return to marketers and data brokers!

Of course we should have looked for the double talk by the IRS because they are part and parcel of the Bush administration. Now allowing tax returns to be sold by tax preparers is safeguarding taxpayer information. That indeed is a novel (read Orwellian) definition of safeguarding.

Now before proceeding let me, in the interest of full disclosure, advise readers that I am a very big fan of Senator Barack Obama. I feel deep down in my bones that he will be President of the United States at some point in his life and I look forward to that election.

The Detroit Free Press details how Senator Obama is making a bit of a fuss about all this.
Criticism of the proposal also came from U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. In a letter March 14 to IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, Obama warned that, once in the hands of third parties, tax information could be resold and handled under even looser rules than the IRS sets, increasing consumers' vulnerability to identity theft and other risks.
This truly seems to be a no brainer. I mean we are talking about selling the actual tax returns! And we all know how reputable marketing firms and data collection agencies are right? There really is no chance that your information will get sold by them to inmate 6327924 or anything untoward like that right?

All that the tax preparer must do to be able to sell your return is to get your signature. I personally do not use tax preparers, (unless you count my fiancee) but I bet there are 15 different lines you have to sign when they do your forms. I can just imagine how they get your signature for this.

Tax preparer: "Sign here, this allows us to represent you to the IRS."
Customer: "Ok"
Tax preparer: "Now sign here, this instructs the IRS to send your return to your home address."
Customer: "Ok"
Tax preparer: "Signing this means if we made a mistake on your form you are not financially responsible for fees or civil penalties."
Customer: "Ok"
(5 minutes of signing stuff later)
Tax preparer: "Sign this" (a form with 52 lines of single spaced microscopic print that includes permission for the preparer to sell your return) "This is our privacy disclosure form. It basically says that your tax return is private and only we can control it's final disposition"
99% of their customers: "Ok"
Tax preparer: "Now this form asks if you wish to donate any of your return to federal elections." etc...

The regulatory change needed to make this possible had to be proposed by the financial industry. (I have no way to confirm this, but who else could POSSIBLY think this is a good idea.) I think it would be fantastic if Senator Obama would go beyond writing to the IRS and make this an issue with legislation to stop the practice before it begins.

"Some in Washington..."

CNN has the following snippet in detailing a speech by Vice President Cheney today:
Cheney also criticized "some in Washington" who he asserted are "yielding to the temptation to downplay the threat" from al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

"That mind-set is dangerous," he said.
Of course not being your run of the mill kneejerk koolaid drinking, Fox watching neo con I was a bit bemused by this strawman argument so deftly employed by the V.P. "Who are these idiots in Washington?!" was actually my initial reaction.

Then I realized these idiots must be the same group who thought it would be a good idea to sell our ports to Taliban allies. Maybe the morons who have overseen an explosion in the ranks of Al Qaeda. (You are probably wondering to yourself 'hmmmm... wherever could frik be leading this post?) The people who allowed Osama to escape from Tora Bora. Maybe he's talking about the brain dead sycophants who attacked Iraq when there was no connection with Saddam and 9/11, and set up a training ground for our enemy to refine their terrorist tactics. Lets face it, the camps in Afghanistan were like grade school for would be terrorists, but Iraq is where they go to get their masters degrees.

The administration of George Bush and Dick Cheney has been a tremendous boon to the enemy in the war on terror, and for them to set up their little straw men is obtuse and disingenuous.

But for the life of me, I can not think of any Democrat proclaiming that the threat from Al Qaeda should be discounted. If anything it is the actions taken by this administration that should set off the clarion alarm bells regarding the threat of terrorism.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Warmongering for political gain.

Time Magazine offers an article that details the Presidents attempts to (titled) 'Find a Way to Stay Relevant'. The quote that perked my attention was the following statement by "one Bush advisor".
One Bush adviser sees political promise for the President in a nuclear peril. "Certainly, there's going to be a serious showdown on Iran," he said. "He's very relevant on that, and that may help his numbers a little bit."
One would be well served to remember the last time this administration used scare tactics over weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a Mid East enemy to gain political points during a mid term election.

The vote to authorize the President to invade Iraq was held in October of 2002. This of course placed the vote front and center in the 2002 mid term elections. And make no mistake about the impact this vote had on those elections. Vice President Dick Cheney urged voters to support candidates in the upcoming election based upon their support of the resolution. The Guardian has an excellent article showing the politicization of the war question in the 2002 mid terms.

It is interesting to note the difference between Bush the elder and Bush shrub. Bush I chose to wait until after the midterms of 1990 to push for his resolution to evict Iraq from Kuwait. I suppose we can chalk this up to him being more concerned about the good of the nation in making a rational decision to make war, rather than a crass political calculation.

Of course there is one part of the political equation that has seen a massive shift since the 2002 mid terms. Bush's approval by the American public has nearly halved. The public also now see's the war in Iraq as having been a blunder by overwhelming margins. Perhaps this change in the political landscape will forestall admsinistration attempts to repeat 2002.

However there may be a temptation by the adminsitration to draw on another political lesson from 2002 in an attempt to get an Iran war resolution. That lesson being that Republicans gained Senate control and extended control of the House in the 2000 mid term election, so fear mongering works. If this is the lesson learned by the White House, let us not forget the other lesson from that vote. A politically cowed Congress giving this President the go ahead to invade based upon faulty intelligence is a recipe for disaster.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Conservatives, time for a reality check.

One of the latest hobbies of (true or paleo) conservatives recently has been to sit around the homestead and genuflect on whether or not President Bush is a true conservative or not. One of the most glommed on facts which point to his not being truly conservative is that he has yet to veto one spending bill (or any other bill for that matter) presented him by this Congress.

Here's the deal Mr. and Mrs. conservative genuflecter. While you contemplate the conservative credentials of this President, would you not be well served to also consider the conservativeness, or lack there-of, of the Congress which sends these bills to the President?

So I suppose considering that "conservatives" control both the Congress and Presidency, only to see our national debt blossom to heights any "liberal" would be hard pressed to imitate, that I can expect my "conservative" brethren to admit the error of their ways and start voting for true fiscal sanity by supporting Democrats right? RIGHT?!

What is that deafening sound I hear from the right?

So to all my conservative friends... while reflecting that the President has yet to veto one bill sent to his desk as a mark against his conservative credentials, just remember who it is that are making the bills that reach him in the first place.

Competing visions: Pre 9/11 vs. Post 9/11

I awoke this morning with an epiphany. (For my readers who may live in a trailer park in Alabama, let me assure you that a morning epiphany holds no morally objectionable connotations, and sorry for using these big words.)

When Karl Rove told Republican activists that "Republicans have a post-9/11 view of the world. And Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world," I remember being a bit ticked off. I thought that Rove was just politicizing an issue that really ought to bring Americans together, not be used to divide us. I also thought Rove was basically calling Dems soft on terrorism. But then I had my epiphany... (which a trip to the restroom relieved... oh never mind!)

You know who else had a pre 9/11 view of the world? Our founding fathers. The constitution was good enough to see this nation through civil war, social upheavals, two global wars, and many other trials and tribulations.

The constitution certainly has been battered over the course of it's existence. Abraham Lincoln lived in a pre-9/11 world and during the emergency he faced found it necessary to suspend several constistutional rights. FDR suspended the constitutional rights of Japanese Americans. Yet in both these cases the suspension was done with the full participation of Congress. The basic constitutional precept of the co-equal branches of government has never been attacked in the way we see it under siege due to the post 9/11 mindset of the administration.

Living in the post 9/11 world evidently means disregarding over two centuries of American history, not to mention just about the entire history of civilization. It was the post 9/11 mindset that led this administration into the Iraq invasion. History proves the disastrous consequences of opening unnecessary fronts when conducting an ongoing war. (Sorry... this is going to my military historian side which a lot of my readers probably do not wish to read.) The most glaring example of a nation at war needlessly opening another front resulting in disaster was Hitler attacking the Soviet Union in WWII. I certainly do not equate the opening of the Iraq front whilst conducting the war on terror to Hitler's blunder. I will however agree with many experts in asserting that the administrations Iraqi quagmire is the biggest strategic blunder in American military history.

Living in a post 9/11 world, despite the lesson we currently are being painfully taught in Iraq, the administration has recently reaffirmed the disastrous policy of preemption which landed us in this mess in the first place. Pre 9/11, when American policy was based upon defense of ourselves and allies from aggression, America had risen to become the sole superpower in the world. Immediately after 9/11 the world stood with America in an unprecedented show of support as we deposed the regime that harbored the terrorists responsible for 9/11. Yet the administration invoked 9/11 to invade Iraq, and in the process tossed aside two centuries of American policy and the good will of nearly the entire world. I for one believe the lessons of our history versus the lessons being learned by the current administration point to the judiciousness and efficacy of the pre 9/11 mindset here.

To me, the most egregious example of post 9/11 thinking that has brought harm to America is the determination by administration lawyers that the President has the constitutional authority to order the torture of detainees. To posit the notion prior to the 2000 election that Americans would soon oversee several notorious examples of detainee abuse and mistreatment would have been to argue the unthinkable. Yet we find ourselves having come to this sorry state of affairs precisely because of the post 9/11 mindset of this administration. This stain on our national honor is not forgivable to my way of thinking.

I understand full well that American history is replete with examples of our failing to live up to our lofty stated principles. The oppression of Native Americans, support of dictatorships who rely on us to continue in power, slavery, and many other cases are not moments of pride in our history. But to me, our nation has always strived to improve our standing and gain the high ground demanded of a successful constitutional democracy. The post 9/11 mindset of this administration demonstrates the willingness to toss aside the effort to improve our moral standing in favor of short term gain and out of a sense of misplaced idealism. It is the duty of the patriot of today, in my way of thinking, to point out these failings and strive to improve ourselves.

I also understand that there is a post 9/11 world that has changed. But we would do well to understand there was a post 12/07/41 and 04/12/1861 world as well. And our response in those moments of crisis was hardly to trounce the ideals and constitution that can make us the great democracy that we strive to be.

Given the choice of the post 9/11 world envisioned by this administration or the the pre 9/11 world which historically led us to greatness as a nation, I would prefer the pre 9/11 mindset. I suspect that when the differences are truly examined that I would not stand alone in this regard.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jack needs YOUR help!

The Washington Times (I need a shower after linking them on my blog) has a letter written by Jack Abramoff and sent to "a limited number of [his] friends". The letter asks for character references to be sent to Judge Paul Huck for consideration in the penalty phase of Abramoff's trial.

I just wonder at the efficacy of letters to the judge by associates of Mr. Abramoff. Are there any who are not tainted by scandal and corruption?

Does anyone else find it ironic that one of the close associates of Mr. Abramoff, Tom Delay, threatened the judges who refused to insert the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo. His statement at the time was:
"This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior,"
To be clear here the judges responsible for honoring Mr. Schiavo's request to not keep his wife a living vegetable were predominately based in Florida. Will we now have the spectacle of Mr. Delay writing a Florida judge with a character reference and asking for leniency in sentencing his pal Jack? Will he threaten Judge Huck if the sentence is too strict in Delay's opinion?

I've been wracking my brain for a creative letter I would write on behalf of Abramoff, but I simply am at a loss for words... I'll be watching Gen. JC Christian, Patriot for what I'm sure will be an entirely appropriate response to the appeal from Abramoff for a letter to the judge...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Democratic Wimps!

So Senator Feingold's motion to censure President Bush is stalled because Democratic leadership is cowered by political consultants and the overwhelming popularity of the president? Is that what the leadership of the Democratic party is reduced to?

Let me give these wimpy Democrats a clue here. 51% of the American people want the President IMPEACHED if he lied about the reasons to go to war with Iraq. And guess what? He did!

The leadership of the Democratic party (with the notable exception of Howard Dean) seems to be populated with spineless sniveling triangulation wanna be's. The lesson from the elections of Bill Clinton was not that mealy mouthed middle of the road cop outs win elections. It was that calling Republicans on the cheap shots and lies during elections, and being able to relate to people wins.

Relating to people right now when it comes to politics means calling the President to account for the error of his ways.

Frankly the issue with Feingold's censure has to do with the President breaking the FISA law. Whether or not it is the politically expedient step to take (which it is) it is the constitutional responsibility of the Congress to oversee the Administration. (To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof. ) The Congress has the DUTY of bringing the President to account, and history will judge this Congress to be sadly lacking in the performance of it's constitutional obligation.

The notion posited by Republicans that to take this step while we are fighting the war on terror is simply an attempt to issue a blank check to the administration allowing it to break any law it sees fit to break with no recourse until the war ends. I've heard one estimate recently that the war could go on up to 70 years. I'll guarantee that should a future Congress be dominated by Republicans, and somehow a Democrat find a way to beat diebold elections to gain the White House, that regardless of the state of the war on terror that a Republican Congress will not turn a blind eye to that President should they make a mockery of the constitution.

Indeed with history as our guide it is readily apparent that Republicans are very keen on overseeing Democratic Presidents when they control Congress. The impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying about an extra marital affair was politically unpopular and Clinton's transgression hardly constituted a threat to our fundamental constitutional form of government. Can you imagine the uproar if Bill Clinton had been caught breaking the FISA law, and defiantly announced his intention to keep doing so with this Congress in power?

I'm back with big news on the home front...

The bald headed freak is engaged to be married! Who would have thought it ever could have happened... Not me!! The date is tentatively set for June 3. =oD

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


For my 2 readers (hi mom! ... wait a minute she doesn't read this...) I'm on vacation for the next week. So posting will be sporadic to non existent at best.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Losing Korea: Taking our ball and going home.

Asia Times Online has an excellent analyses of the situation on the Korean peninsula.
South Korea and the US have drifted so far apart on North Korea policy there is now speculation the longtime partners are getting close to divorce.

Kurt Campbell, former US deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific, reportedly likened the two to a king and queen who live separately but pretend to be happy before their subjects. The allies do not want to announce their divorce because it would have enormous consequences, he said at a seminar in Washington on February 27.
Of course who wouldn't want a divorce from King George? Oh right... Tony Blair. Odd how we fought the revolution to free ourselves from the King of England and now England is playing footsy with the King of America. But I digress!!
Sending such signals seems to be in line with Roh's US policy. In his New Year's address in late January, the president said that if the US tries to solve matters with North Korea by methods aimed at the regime's collapse, it will cause a feud between Washington and Seoul. This suggests he sees US financial pressure on North Korea as a hardline scenario aimed at toppling the Kim regime.
Hardline scenario?! Believe me Mr. Roh, economic sanctions from this administration is them taking a soft pedal approach.
If a conservative candidate supporting the alliance fails to win the Korean presidential election of 2007, the US is forecast to withdraw its forces from South Korea, according to diplomatic sources. In fact, speculation the allies' split may be imminent has begun spreading since Roh took office in 2003 - mainly because his government has officially sought much more autonomy from Washington in its North Korea and military policies.
In effect American troops presence in North Korea may be determined by the outcome of the election in 2007. If this election is not to the administrations liking we are liable to figuratively take our ball and go home.

This administrations bullycose (bellicose I know, but I like the look of bully) attitude has alienated our ally, to the point that we may no longer be welcome to station our troops on the DMZ. Imagine if in 3 years we see a united Korea, armed with nukes. We would simply shake our heads at yet another foreign policy disaster from this administration. This 'our way or no way at all' attitude with foreign policy has led this nation from one disaster to the next. Now our entire relationship with S. Korea apparently hinges on their next election.

Given this administrations history with predicting elections (the guys we like are ALWAYS gonna win before the election, but after we are SHOCKED at the outcome) I'm not very hopeful on the Korea front...

Homeland security guarded by keystone cops?

Homeland security security evidently leaves a lot to be desired. Check out this story:
An envelope with suspicious powder was opened last fall at the headquarters. Daniels and other current and former guards said they were shocked when superiors carried it past the office of Secretary Michael Chertoff, took it outside and then shook it outside Chertoff's window without evacuating people nearby.
Which means that all a terrorist would have to do to take out the entire neighborhood that holds this complex is send it an envelope containing anthrax. Upon discovery the guards would obligingly take the contents outside and spread them about the neighborhood.

Of course when whistleblowers came forward with hair raising tales of lax security training and procedures at the homeland security complex, the Republican leadership in congress rose as one to perform their constitutional oversight roles and demand an investigation... right? Wrong!
"If the allegations brought forward by the whistleblowers are correct, they represent both a security threat and a waste of taxpayer dollars," Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon wrote to the agency's inspector general, seeking an investigation.

"It would be ironic, to say the least, if DHS were unable to secure its own headquarters," they wrote.
Of course it has to be Democrats sounding the alarm here.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The amazing story of Susan Lindauer

In bopping about the internets early this morning I stumbled across the absolutely incredible story of former journalist and congressional aide Susan Lindauer.

Ms. Lindauer is accused of being an unregistered agent of the Iraqi government during the leadup to the Iraq war. She is the 2nd cousin of white house chief of staff Andrew Card. She sent two letters to Mr. Card interceding on behalf of the Iraqi government. The 2nd letter still is not publicly available, but the 1st letter offers several concessions from the Iraqi government in order to forestall an invasion.

The administrations response to the overture by the Iraqis from Mr. Cards cousin was to have her investigated and arrested. Media reports at the time described her as a traitorous spy for the Iraqi government. However her ties to the Iraqis were never hidden. Indeed it would have made no sense for her to approach her relative in the administration if she were not somehow able to make representations from the Iraqis, and she made her connections clear.

Despite the overblown media representations at the time, the charges against Ms. Lindauer basically come down to being an unregistered lobbyist for the Iraqi government. The government claims she was paid $10,000 during a trip she made to Iraq, and this in turn breaks a law forbidding financial transactions with organizations that support(ed) international terrorism. This charge however hardly amounts to spying on behalf of the Iraqis. If anything, given 20/20 hindsight, we now would be far better off if the administration had pursued back channels to insure Saddam remained contained in Iraq, without having to embark on a disastrous war to remove him.

The story does not end with her arrest however. She was released on bail, but in September of 2006 a federal judge in New York ordered her held for psychiatric observation. The order specified that she was to not be held for longer than 40 days, but the deadline passed in February without her release. Indeed according to a call from Ms. Lindauer to a friend, the doctors are threatening to keep her until she agrees to be medicated. According to recipients of calls from Ms. Lindauer:
"I got a call from her Feb. 4," says [friend JB] Fields. "They are talking about forcibly medicating her. She sees women around her, in Carswell [federal medical center in Fort Worth, Texas], who can't hold their own silverware to eat because of medications, and she doesn't see how such treatments make anyone more fit for trial. Seems a lot like the way the Soviets used to treat dissidents." Lindauer told another friend she was being guarded like a terrorist at Carswell, and a relative of Lindauer who recently attempted to visit her was turned away, Fields says.
Without speculating on Ms. Lindauers mental state, one can only wonder how one would bear up if they were to face the same set of circumstances she finds herself in. She passionately believed and worked for avoiding a war and the deaths of innocent thousands, but for that work she has been accused of being a traitor. She then finds herself incarcerated in a mental health facility, with apparently no recourse for release in spite of an express order from a federal judge without first agreeing to medications which she thinks will only worsen her predicament. To be honest I think it would take a very strong person to deal with all this and not show the signs of the pressure on their mental state.

Check out Jays Politics for more on this incredible story, and keep checking back with him as I'm sure he will have details as they develop. In the meantime lets do what we can to make sure this woman is not forgotten.

[update: If you would like to write Susan here is her address. Susan Lindauer, RN: 56064-054 FMC Carswell -- Satellite Camp Box 27137 Fort Worth, TX 76127]

Saturday, March 04, 2006

GAO finds cronyism from early days of the Bush admin...

The Dept. of Education has been found by the GAO to have bent the rules in order to give grants to cronies of the Bush administration. The three examples mentioned date back to 2001 and 2002, and occurred under the tenure of former secretary of education Rod Paige. The department in 2003 took steps to improve how it gives competitive grants but the GAO report only says that the agency has "generally" followed the new rules.

Here are the three cases detailed by the report of the bending of rules to give grants to Bush administration cronies:
--The Arkansas Department of Education got $2.3 million for a project with K12 Inc., an online curriculum company founded by William Bennett, who was education secretary under President Reagan. Federal officials changed their selection methods and expanded their funding list to include Arkansas, and all the other projects lost some money as a result.

William Bennet was the beneficiary of rule bending to give his venture a grant from the department of education. How much of this taxpayer money was eventually poured down the drain due to his gambling addiction?
--The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence got a $5 million grant even though its proposal was not recommended by two of the three experts on a peer review panel. The board is a project of the conservative Education Leaders Council. One of the council's founders, Eugene Hickok, was under secretary of education under Paige.
The undersecretary of the department that was giving the grant benefited by the rule bending yet this is not a clear violation of law!? This is one example where the oft used exclamation "there ought to be a law" is appropo...
--America's Charter School Finance Corporation got an unspecified award despite ranking sixth on a list of four grantees that peer reviewers had recommended. A senior political appointee was ordered to "re-review" the competitors that had finished fifth and sixth. The grantee list was then expanded to five, and America's Charter was bumped up to fifth to qualify. Program officials told the GAO they had never experienced a case like it.
In this case the political powers that be had to really permutate and bend the rules to get the cash flowing to their pet project. If you just do a bit of digging the Republican connections become clear.

The chairman and ceo of America's Charter School Finance Corp. is Lawrence W O'Toole. Google that name and you will find this nugget.
Lawrence W. O'Toole ... was appointed as a member of the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance by US Secretary of Education, Rod Paige.
By way of finding the ideological bent of this group perhaps a further look at the list of their executives is instructive. Thus we find the name of Sheila Ryan-Macie (Vice President, Policies and Programs). Google her and you find that she donated $3000 to the Sally Mae Pac in 1999. They in turn donated $10,000 to the 2000 campaign of George Bush. Ms. Ryan-Macie does have one $250 contribution to the campaign of Democratic senator Jack Reed, but the rest of her contributions are to decidedly conservative causes.

J. Bonnie Newman who sits on the board of directors: Former Assistant Secretary of Commerce under Ronald Reagan.

The point of all this is to show that the rules were not bent to give money to some group with liberal staff and ideals. It simply is cronyism, pure and simple, and the associates of this administration who benefit from it invariably have deep roots with Republican causes.

Finally I must note that I have no doubt that such a disclosure under any previous adminsistration would lead to a feeding frenzy by the media for a week as they hashed out what happened. But with this administration, this type of shenanigan is so commonplace that I doubt you hear a peep about this story besides what you find on Kos, or Club Lefty or the occasional other liberal site. This cronyism, corruption, lying, and general ineptitude is so prevalent that something like this simply is a ripple in the middle of a tsunami.

Friday, March 03, 2006

posting today...

I just spent most of the afternoon reading the 80 page log of interrogation of a Guantanamo prisoner. So I have not been following the news and this will probably be the only post through the weekend.

I must say that this interrogation is truly sickening. America. What has happened to my country. How has it come to this.

There will have to be an accounting for this. If not in this life then in the next. I seriously find myself lost for hope after reading this. We are willing to throw away what we love, and strive to stand for... Truth be told, it is not Osama that is responsible for the taking of American values and ideals. It is this sickened administration and their neo con view of the world that has brought us to this pass.

I love my nation. I seriously get chills when I hear the national anthem done well. I believe in the ideals and values that America should stand for. When I see how this administration has perverted us, my soul cries for the return of sanity.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Rumsfeld ignores the quacking duck

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is doing everything in his power to make it appear to the Iraqi's that America is not occupying their nation.
The number of U.S. troops in Iraq should not be so big that they appear to be an occupying force, despite recent spikes in sectarian violence, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday.

Speaking at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library, Rumsfeld said the United States has to "keep avoiding filling every vacuum and if we're around that place with too many people we tend to fill every vacuum. And that's not a healthy thing."

He said America needs to have enough military forces there to support the fledgling government and the development of a new political system, but not so many that it will feed the insurgency and make Iraqis think the U.S. is there only for oil.

"You don't want too many people there that you look like an occupying force, that the insurgents and the terrorists are able to lie to people and say you're only there for their oil, that you're there to occupy the country, that you intend to stay there permanently _ all of which is false," said Rumsfeld.
As the saying goes, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

We do not want to appear to be an occupying force? If we do not wish to appear to be occupying Iraq how about withdrawing our troops! Excuse me while I start working on the acceptance speech I give when I pick up the honorary Commander Spock Vulcan Logic Award.

Indeed it appears for all the world that the administration approach gives us the worst outcome possible. Being occupied is feeding the insurgency. Not having enough forces there to keep the lid on has lead to a horrid security situation which makes it extremely difficult for a fledgling democracy to take hold. There have been plenty of calls (from senator McCain to Paul Bremer) for increased troop levels to improve security, which have fallen on deaf ears in the administration. Of course the Murtha plan is not being considered, though right now it appears for all the world to be the only sane plan offered by any leader in Washington. So we have an occupation in a deteriorating security environment.

We are now presented with no good options but, at least according to Rumsfeld, we do not look like occupiers!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bush warned prior to Katrina that levees could breech.

Remember when president Bush told the Today Show that no one could have anticipated the breech of the levees in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina? This turns out to be another example of the president lying. You should have known this by the fact that his lips moved, which is a dead on method for measuring the honesty (dis) of the current president.

It now turns out that the day before the hurricane hit that the president was given plenty of warning about the possibility that the levees may be breached.
In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, risk lives in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage of the briefings.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final government-wide briefing the day before Katrina struck on Aug. 29 but assured soon-to- be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."
Wow... how unfortunate that when the president spoke up at this meeting he did not say: "Holy moly, we are woefully unprepared for this." Because already having noted the measure of presidential honesty we see that when his lips moved on this occasion he sealed the fate of the gulf coast even before the hurricane struck. Simply by saying that they were fully prepared, the president doomed thousands to days of misery and neglect as the nation watched live on cable news in abject horror!

I have a suggestion for president Bush. Resign. The Republican toadies in congress will never put the interests of the nation ahead of their political interests. And this really can not be fun anymore mr. president. In all of the major endeavors you have failed at in the past (which is every project you have ever embarked upon interestingly enough) you have figured out how to abandon the sinking ship when things got dicey. We really can not afford 2.75 years of this disaster that is your administration. We can not afford the 5 plus years we have been put through already as it is. So please do the right thing since the congress will not.

I know there is zero chance of this ever happening. It would be the one time that president Bush ever made a major policy decision that benefited the nation.

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