Friday, June 29, 2007

Pre-Judged?

According to Media Matters, the Washington Post may what to revisit their assessment of Justices Roberts and Alito.

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Every Bark Counts...

Stop me if you've heard this one:

The Federal Way grandmother who registered her dog to vote pleaded not guilty Thursday to making false statements on a voter-registration form.

Jane Balogh, who says it's too easy for a voter to register illegally, sought to prove her point by registering one of her dogs, Duncan MacDonald, as a King County absentee voter.

She put her phone in Duncan's name, and that apparently sufficed. Although the Australian shepherd-terrier mix signed each ballot envelope with a picture of a paw print, he didn't vote. Balogh wrote "void" on each ballot.

The King County prosecutor's office charged Balogh, 66, with making false or misleading statements to a public servant, a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.


Too silly, yet too funny to ignore.

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A Tale of Two Sports Writers

Charley Rosen thinks that the Boston Celtics got a steal by getting Ray Allen in a Draft-night trade, but Sports Guy Bill Simmons isn't too sure.

Later own I'll talk about how I think the Wizards did, and maybe about some other teams as well.

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"Sand is flowing out of the hourglass."

As far as domestic issues are concerned, President Bush is a defeated man.

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The Circle of...Envelope Pushing?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Poll Position: Nancy Pelosi (6/07)

Hearing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a 39% approval rating may make one say, "Man, she's not doing that well!" But then you see the breakdown:

Forty-three percent (43%) of women have a favorable opinion of Pelosi. Thirty-five percent (35%) of men share that assessment.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of self-identified liberal voters have a favorable opinion of the Speaker along with 47% of moderates and 17% of conservatives.

On a partisan basis, Pelosi is viewed favorably by 62% of Democrats, 16% of Republicans, and 35% of those not affiliated with either major party.


And then, there's the most important fact of all:

During her tenure as Speaker, Pelosi’s favorable ratings have ranged from a low of 38% to a high of 47%.


Which means that she hasn't reached rock bottom (yet), nor has she experienced President Bush's free fall. But considering that liberals, Democrats and women all support her, I'd be hard-pressed to say that she'll reach those low numbers anytime soon.

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Money Talks

Even though he reminds me of Julian Bashir sometimes, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) showed his congressional muscle by dropping the bomb on the so-called "FourthBranch" known as CheneyLand.

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Sadness For the Squared Circle

Some light has been shed on the "Wrestler murder/suicide" story:

In the days before pro wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife and child and hanged himself, the couple argued over whether he should stay home more to take care of their mentally retarded 7-year-old son, an attorney for the wrestling league said Wednesday.

ESPN's Sports Guy (Bill Simmons) has said:

It just doesn't seem like any non-wrestling fan realizes how huge this story is to everyone who actually follows wrestling - in my opinion, it's the biggest sports story of the year even though wrestling technically isn't a sport. Benoit was one of the 12-15 greatest wrestlers of the past 30 years. For the wrestling world, it's like the OJ thing all over again - only its worse because his little son was involved. It might be the single worst sports story since the Rae Carruth thing.

He may be right.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Those Darn Liberal Youngins!

This sure is interesting:

Young Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage, according to a New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll. The poll also found that they are more likely to say the war in Iraq is heading to a successful conclusion.


If you count the Iraq position, I wouldn't call this an example of liberalism as much as an example of optimism. That, and an indication that younger people want to know what the hell is going on with their country:

The poll offers a snapshot of a group whose energy and idealism have always been as alluring to politicians as its scattered focus and shifting interests have been frustrating. It found that substantially more Americans ages 17 to 29 than four years ago are paying attention to the presidential race.


Now, if you roll with the Elephants, here's where things get spooky:

But they appeared to be really familiar with only two of the candidates, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both Democrats.

They have continued a long-term drift away from the Republican Party. And although they are just as worried as the general population about the outlook for the country and think their generation is likely to be worse off than that of their parents, they retain a belief that their votes can make a difference, the poll found.


Getting to know the only black and only female candidates in the presidential race? Drifting away from the Grand Old Party? Thinking that their votes can make a difference? Maybe young people are becoming more liberal.

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Picture This: Rosie O'Donnell

I have a question.

What's the difference of this pic:




And this pic, which is on O'Donnell's site (and apparently has people in a mini-uproar)?


From what I understand, the first one is real: it is a picture of the next generation of soldiers, a soldier who will either spend his life hating America or defending a democracy that resembles America. Our foreign policy will determine which soldier he becomes. But the sad fact is that his training to fight, to kill, to be comfortable holding a weapon has already begun.
The second one is O'Donnell's reflection of the first; odds are she saw a picture much like it somewhere and probably wondered, "How would Americans feel if their kids were in military garb holding a gun?" Quite frankly, her pic is more toned down.
Why?
Maybe because she doesn't want her kid to have a gun in her hand.
But at the same time, she wanted the message to come across. And anyone who's offended should be equally offended about what's going on. Anyone who's offended by the picture should be equally passionate about stopping the Iraq war/occupation. Until then, the picture O'Donnell used to make a political point will continue to be a harsh reality around the world.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Media's Unofficial Endorsement of the Republican Party


This kind of speaks for itself:



The Pew Research Center completes its Top Story Index on a weekly basis to "compare and contrast - on an ongoing basis -- the news agenda of the media with the news agenda of the public." In its most recent comparison (for the week of June 11), the Pew Research Center found that while 33% of Americans followed the Iraq War closely, only 7% of the overall news coverage was devoted to this issue.


Apparently, the media determined that immigration and the fighting over in Palestine warranted more attention, because both subject received more coverage than things involving Iraq.

What does this have to do with the GOP?

If any one issue would sink this party's chances of controlling the executive and legislative branches, it's Iraq. The place is an undisputed mess, and every time anyone from either party says something along the lines of "change" the response is always the same: "give us more time" and "please, support the troops."

Many tried-&-true issues have pretty much run it's course for the upcoming election. Talking about gays (whether marriage or joining the military) isn't going to get any more GOP votes than it already has. Aside from immigration, race issues (as the nearly invisible coverage of Katrina has shown) have been ignored. Michael Moore, who's trying to get the issue of health care on the table, was dropped for Paris Hilton. For Pete's Sake, the CIA is trotting out documents from the "No Shit, Sherlock" Files in order to grab headlines.

And the media is sucking it all up like a hooker on a slow Wednesday night.

I can understand the whole "people don't want to see violence and death" excuse. I mean, that's why we're getting treated to a new "Die Hard" movie, right? Because we can't stand to see people and cars and other things explode, right?

Seriously; just how stupid do they think we are?

Any story right now not related to Iraq is good for the GOP. Even the "Cheney is a megalomaniac" story currently running in the WashPost is good because people are actually arguing that this brings up a good topic: "what are the constitutional limits of a Vice President?" Never mind that most of the people who think this question needs debating have yet to get past the Preamble. It's great for debate! Who cares about Iraq when you can argue whether the words in the Constitution should be taken literally?

Support for the war is around 30%, which is higher than the President's approval rating. As long as Iraq is Page One or the Leading Story the foreign policies failures of this Administration is laid bare to the public. And any politician supporting Bush looks like a complete idiot. Why else would every Republican running in 2008 choose to invoke Ronald Reagan over Bush? The guy's got a serious case of political cooties. And considering that Republicans have always been for "Big Business" and that "Big Business" either owns or operates many popular media outlets, why would Joe American expect the networks, the cable stations and the newspapers to not bite the hand that's feeding them?

Now, one might say, "Well, this is only about Iraq. It's not like the media is short-changing the viewers on any other issues." One would think, but as the link (and the Pew data) says, even election coverage is so vague that over 50% of the people polled are asking for more information (including the candidates' positions and backgrounds, information regarding "candidates who are not front runners," and of course, information on the presidential debates themselves).

So tell me who benefits more from vague coverage of the presidential elections and the Iraq war/occupation: the Democrats, who have been labeled "terrorist sympathizers" who hype environmental and domestic issues; and are seemingly always playing the "wait, let me explain" game, or Republicans, who have all but mastered the "two-word" culture, can substitute image for substance, and can get pundits to ask questions about their manliness and musk?

I think we all know the answer.

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Nice Try, CIA

At first glance, this might seem like an interesting and quirky story:

The CIA worked with three American mobsters in a botched "gangster-type" attempt to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the early 1960s, according to documents released by the CIA on Tuesday.

The CIA hauled the skeletons out of its closet by declassifying hundreds of pages of long-secret records that detail some of the agency's worst illegal abuses during about 25 years of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying and kidnapping.


Then, in true Bush Administration fashion, THE TRUTH SLIPS OUT:

CIA Director Michael Hayden released the documents to lift the veil of secrecy on the agency's past, even as the Bush administration faces criticism of being too secretive now.


So the real reason has nothing to do with say, how the CIA was willing to work with organized crime in order to kill a guy who lived in another country. It wasn't even a lame attempt to relate the issues of the 60's to the issues of today (in regards to how we deal with other countries). No, no, no...it's all about showing how "open" the Administration really is.

God; how stupid do they think we are?

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Watch Out; Your Partisanship Is Showing

If this is true, it's really sad...sad because the real thing preventing a change in our foreign policy is not convictions but a twisted since of party loyalty.

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The Man Behind the Curtain





I've never bought the theory of the Bush-Cheney relationship as Pinocchio-Geppetto -- it lets Bush off too easily to imagine that Cheney pulls all the strings. But it's clear that Cheney is the toughest, smartest infighter in the administration and that his toughness and smarts have been employed partly in service of an independent agenda. Cheney came into office believing that the presidency -- and, by extension, the vice presidency -- had been deflated, and he set out to puff them back up again.

Students of public administration should have to take a course called "Cheney." How he has amassed and employed his power offers a case study in how government really works -- and how a skillful operator can make a bureaucracy dance. Take Cheney's penchant for secrecy, which seems to border on the maniacal. His office stamps "SECRET" on routine documents, including talking points for officials to use with reporters. He keeps papers pertaining to everyday business in huge Mosler safes. Is this loopy? No, he's just putting into practice the dictum that information is power. Sunshine is for losers.

The vice president, whose Secret Service code name is "Angler," really does know all the angles. And above all, he knows how to survive. His onetime mentor Donald Rumsfeld is gone, his onetime top aide Scooter Libby is on his way to jail, yet Cheney -- defiantly, disastrously, unbelievably -- remains. It will take years to uncover and undo all the damage he has wrought.


Honestly, I think Robinson is right: making him president (via impeaching George W. Bush) would really be a demotion for this guy.

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No Main Topic


Another Short NMT today:



  1. Sadly, a Three-Count: WWE wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife and his 7-year-old son were found dead yesterday.

  2. He Can't Run the Office on Love: John Dean says that Congress has the right to pull the plug on VP Dick Cheney...if they want to get him to comply.

  3. Typical Pundit Amnesia: Despite the fact that the guy has changed parties twice, some people insist on calling current NYC Mayor (and potential presidential candidate) Mike Bloomberg a "liberal Democrat."

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They Contort and Deride

Even when reporting on celebrity fluff like Paris Hilton's release from jail, FoxNews reporters can't help but acting like complete assholes.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Damn That Educational System!


African-Americans aren't joining the military like they used to; in fact, recruitment numbers are falling. I can think of many reasons for this (racial stereotypes about the military that they have yet to debunk, the current Administration's record on race issues, the fact that many black people don't see the point in killing another minority group for oil) but it seems that one military intellectual has the answer: that damn educational system!


Sgt. Terry Wright, an Army recruiter in Tampa, Fla. said young people in the black community have more education and job opportunities now than when he joined the service 14 years ago.

"I go to high schools every day, and for the most part it strikes me how many of them are serious about going to college," said Wright, 32.

Yeah; how dare black people go to school! How's a text book going to protect them from the terrorists?

See, that quote tells me too things: (1) Sgt. Wright seems to like recruiting people either straight out of high school or stuck in dead-end jobs (which re-enforces the military stereotype comment); and the military must be in a serious hole for people like the Sgt. to be going "high schools every day."

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Around the Internets


  1. "If It's Sunday, It's Crazy Neo-Con Logic:" Bill Kristol tries to defend VP Dick Cheney.


  2. "Don't Believe the Hype:" Oliver Willis doesn't think that a significant amount of Republicans will go against the President on his Iraq policy/strategy, and that the Democrats better wake up.


  3. "A Second Opinion:" Michael Moore's "SiCKO" plans to set the stage on the health care debate.


  4. "Another Moldy Oldie From the Pat-Man:" On Meet the Press, Pat Buchanan seems to believe that the real "Bogeyman" in America is immigrants. Good thing his counterpoint on this issue (Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from IL) pointed out that two congressmen who talked like Buchanan lost their seat during the 2006 election (and they were exactly in blue states either).

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bank Accounts Aren't "the Devil"

One reason why most Americans (and by extension, our government) have money issues:

As many as 28 million people in the United States are forgoing traditional financial institutions because of mistrust, cultural and language barriers or a belief that by the time all the bills are paid there will be nothing left for an account.That can be expensive and risky. People can run up big fees to cash checks, pay bills and meet their other financial needs. Walking around with large amounts of cash can make them a target for thieves...

...A Consumer Federation of America survey of check-cashing outlets, found that on average it cost $24.45 to cash a $1,002 Social Security check last year. A blue-collar worker pays an average $19.66 every week to cash a $478.41 handwritten paper check.


Of course, it is not entirely their fault:

Nationwide, there are fewer banks in poor neighborhoods versus wealthy ones but the difference is small, according to the Federal Reserve.

In some neighborhoods, however, there are no banks conveniently located. Federal banking regulators just weeks ago identified 3,500 middle-income neighborhoods in rural areas - from parts of Clarke, Ala., to parts of Washakie, Wyo. - that they consider to be underserved by financial institutions.


Nevertheless, there are people who don't need to use the lack of close banks as an excuse:

Federal Reserve research found that the most common reason families gave for not having checking accounts was that they did not write enough checks to make it worthwhile. Many people said they did not like dealing with banks.


I guess the biggest concern here is how this practice of not using banks has fueled crime:

In Prince William County, Va., there were 351 robberies last year and more than 40 percent involved Hispanic victims - many of whom were new to the country - who had large amounts of cash on them, says Police Chief Charlie Deane. Many of the robberies occurred on paydays - Thursday or Fridays.

"The criminal element is aware that many of these people do not put their money in a bank," Deane says. "Many of these individuals are living in conditions where they have to share common space, so they often don't have ways of securing their cash where they live. So therefore they carry the cash with them," he says.


When the concept of forming a bank first arose, the big fear was that if something happened and everyone needed/wanted to get their money back, the banks wouldn't be able to sustain such a rush (let alone the then-fragile economy). While it seems that we've gotten over that fear (for the most part), the next phase is convincing millions of Americans that having a bank account can be a good thing.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Debunking More Phony Outrage

Media Matters on how stupid it is to for people to think that the story about only 144 journalists contribute to specific parties proves an ideological or political bias. Or, as they say:

It's the content of the news that matters, not the personal beliefs and preferences of journalists.

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Just Call This "A Family Blog"

Online Dating

I guess I'm being too wholesome. JP was rated way higher, even though he thinks he may be a little too harsh. I think a safe medium is PG-13 or R. Damn it.

If you have a blog, you can find out how yours rank.

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Mic Check

If you go on FoxNews and you don't share their views, prepared to have your mic cut off.

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All You Need To Know: About Rudy Giuliani



I know there are those who buy into the whole "Rudy Giuliani is America's Mayor" thing, just like there are people who still think that John McCain is some political maverick (personally, I think they get him confused with this guy).


But, according to Slate.com's Fred Kaplan, Giuliani is little more than a Ferengi:


It was widely assumed at the time that Baker-Hamilton [aka, the Iraq Study Group] would serve as Bush's vehicle for getting out of—or somehow otherwise resolving—Iraq. And Giuliani, like all other mainstream party members, was still very much in Bush's camp. To be a part of this 10-member panel—to claim the prestige of such august company, to play the role of politico-strategic statesman, and to gain instant credibility on a topic to which he'd previously had no exposure—should have been regarded as an enviable opportunity, both on its own terms and as a boost to his political fortune.


But—given a chance to elevate his standing, serve the country, and get educated on the nation's most pressing issue—
Rudy went for the money.


Now I know he came out with an excuse, but it's pretty lame. It's so obvious that Cash Rules Everything Around Him, and he wanted to make sure (in part) that he had the dollars to keep up with the likes of McCain and Mitt Romney.

Ironically, Giuliani would have had a foreign policy "leg up" not only on McCain and Romney but President Bush (who was waiting for the report). He could have used the information gathered there to come up with ideas and solutions that would have made him look like a real visionary. What a shame.

Instead, he's resorted to using 9/11 to scare people into voting for him.



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No Main Topic


1. Bill O'Reilly thinks what he covers is more serious than MSNBC. Yeah, right.


2. The best time to buy computer? Airline tickets? A car? Find out here.


3. Are video games addictive? Personally, they're no more addictive than smoking, alcohol, food, gambling or sex. And considering those vices, I'd rather be addicted to Pokemon.


4. Kobe Bryant is a selfish jerk, according to Sally Jenkins. Gee, what tipped her off?


5. In the wee hours of the night, the Senate passed an energy bill.


6. Between his fantasies and his guests, Glenn Beck would make a better snuff film director than the host of a CNN show.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Making Her Case

Michelle Rhee, The new Chancellor for DC Public Schools, was online today at the Washington Post. Considering all the complaints I've heard about her lack of experience, she seemed to handle herself pretty well. Then again, it's easier to respond online then during a real live press conference.

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The Theme With All These Stories? People See What They Wanna See.

1. Jonathan Alter thinks that giving Democrats a new bumper sticker will help them.

2. It turns out that journalists actually (gasp!) give money to politicians! Who knew?

3. Apparently, John Edwards dusting off an old speech about helping to bridge the country's social-economic gap is played out.

4. Because we've been in Iraq long enough to foster a civil war there, the commander over there thinks we're in a prime position to be seen as...(wait for it)..."liberators!"

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

All You Need To Know: The GOP Mix


This is the state of today's Republican Party:



  1. A guy who hasn't even entered the GOP primary is leading in the polls.

  2. A guy who was mayor of NY left the party because he thinks he'll have a better shot at being president by running as an independent.

  3. The President's job approval is at 35%, and other than taxes and the economy, people can't think of anything he's good at.

  4. The President's foreign policy skills are so shaky, someone felt compelled to ask him not to start anther Cold War.

And I haven't even talked about stem cell research, immigration or Iraq/Iran/Afganistan. Granted, the Democrats haven't had their act together much either, but they've never been know as the Lockstep Party and despite their slim majority in Congress, they don't run everything (i.e., the White House, the courts or the media).



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Who Protects the Protectors?

Maybe they should change the Department's name to "Homeland Liability" after this story:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Homeland Security Department, the lead U.S. agency for fighting cyber threats, suffered more than 800 hacker break-ins, virus outbreaks and other computer security problems over two years, senior officials acknowledged to Congress.

In one instance, hacker tools for stealing passwords and other files were found on two internal Homeland Security computer systems. The agency's headquarters sought forensic help from the department's own Security Operations Center and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team it operates with Carnegie Mellon University.

In other cases, computer workstations in the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration were infected with malicious software detected trying to communicate with outsiders; laptops were discovered missing; and agency Web sites suffered break-ins.


Stories like this make me think we've haven't been hit since 9/11 in spite of HS, not because of HS.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Turn the Corner Until You Get Dizzy

Highlights (or is it lowlights?) of the broken record know as the Iraqi Occupation/War/Debacle:












American troops are taking Baghdad's streets back from insurgents. The prime minister has a plan for national reconciliation. To the south, in the "triangle of death," two U.S. soldiers are missing, captives in enemy hands.

Those were the headlines a year ago. Now they're being heard again in the newscasts of today, like some grim rewinding of a movie tragedy, of a story that never ends...

...Old Baghdad's constants remain: The sun, boiling orange, still slips below the western desert each evening; the river Tigris snakes, shallow and sluggish, through the city's heart; the muezzins' call to prayer still blares from countless mosques.

The constants of war also remain: the thud of sunrise explosions, somewhere; the zigzagging of convoys down the dangerous roads; the roar of Black Hawk helicopters skimming the tops of Baghdad's minarets...

...The U.S. forces in the latest "take back the streets" campaign are suffering more as well — 126 killed in Iraq overall this May, compared with 69 in May 2006...

...This war has survived countless "turning points," including last June's killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, a U.S. success some in Washington touted as a prelude to a "sea change" in U.S. fortunes.

It wasn't. Now U.S. hopes rest on "Imposing the Law," the four-month-old security crackdown, a "surge" of U.S. reinforcements billed as a promising change of strategy. But this, too, is another echo — of "Together Forward," launched in June last year, and "Lightning" of a year before that...

...Electricity, available a few hours a day, grows scarcer. Four years after the U.S. vowed to restore power, the supply in early June was 8 percent below the 2006 level. Oil production, vital to Iraq's economy, remains crippled — at levels even lower than last June's production. The queues at gasoline stations sap hours of people's days...


Let me make an educated guess here: around January/February 2008, President Bush will announce an increase of troops. Maybe he'll call it (*checks thesaurus*) the "optimization" of Iraq. Democrats will say that it's too late, Iraq's a mess and we need to get outta there. Republicans will call Democrats surrender monkeys and say they aren't giving Bush's "fresh, new strategy" a chance to work. About 5-10% of the Democrats base will waffle because while they want to leave, they don't want to seem weak, and half of that group will make rational-sounding, yet concerned remarks to some key Democrats. Those key Democrats will get their fellow party members to back off the hard "get out of Iraq" talk, which will culminate with one or two "foreign policy" experts from the Party saying something along the lines of "let's give it a month or too." Between then and the artificial deadline, a prominent military official currently dealing with Iraq will either resign, be asked to leave or demoted, wherein s/he will say something about the "optimization" that's anything but positive. The press will jump on this a little, and may even throw in a story about how the troops are having their email filtered so that only happy-happy/joy-joy stories about their deployment make it threw the tubes of the Interweb and to the computers of their loved ones. More troops will die. And somewhere, someone will write a story about how the past six or seven months seem awfully familiar, as if some of the exact sames things had happened the year before...

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"He's decided it is an important time to be with his family."

No joke; that's what they said. The latest Bush Administration member to jump ship:

White House budget director Rob Portman is stepping down and will be replaced by former Iowa Republican congressman Jim Nussle, senior administration officials said today. The president is scheduled to make the formal announcement at the Roosevelt Room later this afternoon.

Administration officials described the decision as motivated by Portman's desire to spend more time with his wife and three teen-aged children. Since returning to Washington as a congressman 14 years ago, Portman has been commuting weekly to his Cincinnati home, and his press secretary said he had tired of that.


Now, this guys was seen as one of more popular Cabinet members. So the question remains: why leave now?

And I'm not the only curious person here:

Still, the news of Portman's departure seemed to surprise lawmakers on the Hill, where there is not nearly the same affection for his successor, Nussle, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor of Iowa last year. Nussle had previously served as chairman of the House Budget committee and has been seen as a hawk on spending issues.


So Bush is replacing on of the few people he has who could reach across the aisle to the Democratic majority with a guys who sounds like the complete opposite of his predecessor. Remarkable. Oh, and Nussle has been tapped to help Rudy Giuliani in his presidential bid.

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Happy Juneteenth

Seriously. Look it up.

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Like President, Like Government

From the "Like Father, Like Son" Files:

WASHINGTON -- Federal officials have disobeyed at least six new laws that President Bush challenged in his signing statements, a government study disclosed yesterday. The report provides the first evidence that the government may have acted on claims by Bush that he can set aside laws under his executive powers.

In a report to Congress, the non partisan Government Accountability Office studied a small sample of the bill provisions that Bush has signed into law but also challenged with signing statements. The GAO found that agencies disobeyed six such laws, while enforcing 10 others as written even though Bush had challenged them.


So if Bush poo-poos a bill he doesn't like and still signs it into law, chances are the government with follow it at their (read his) discretion.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

No Main Topic


1. "This wasn't on the menu...": Ten things a restaurant doesn't tell you.


2. See, it's like this...: WashPost reports on Gilbert Arenas' decision to opt out of his contract.


3. Who were those masked men?: Whoever they were, they shot up a graduation party in Miami.


4. Party like it's 2057: Another 50 years in Iraq may be a reality.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Well, There Goes the "We Love Dubya" Vote

Presidential wannabe and former mayor of NY Rudy Giuliani slaps G-Dub a little:

What we're lacking is strong, aggressive, bold leadership like we had with Ronald Reagan.

Remember, this was the guy who suggested Bernard Kerik to be head of Homeland Security. How time flies.

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Abandon Ship!

One reason why President Bush's visit to Congressional Republicans for support on his immigration bill didn't go so well:



WASHINGTON - As President Bush attempts to revive the controversial immigration reform bill he supports, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that Republicans are abandoning the president, which has dropped his job-approval rating below 30 percent -- his lowest mark ever in the survey.

But he isn’t the only one whose support is on the decline in the poll. Congress’ approval rating has plummeted eight points, bringing it below even Bush’s. And just one in five believe the country is on the right track, which is the lowest number on this question in nearly 15 years.



That's 29% (the pic is about a year & a half old, and that's another story in itself). That means that more than 2/3rds of the country either don't like this guy, or wouldn't complain if he was replaced with a lamppost until the next election. I think it's safe to say we are in Lame Duck Territory.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Whither the Southern Baptists?

Apparently, there's a crisis a'brewin':

Southern Baptist Convention president Frank Page said Tuesday the denomination needs to set aside internal differences and be both “right and relevant” to revive languishing membership trends.

Page’s words came as moderates took their first steps to slow down conservative attempts to more narrowly define what it means to be a Baptist.

A South Carolina pastor, Page spoke Tuesday morning to thousands of “messengers,” or delegates, at the opening of the annual meeting of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. The SBC has about 16.3 million members.


I think it's common sense that the bigger your tent is, the more likely you are to get members for your organization. Of course, where religion is involved, you will always have a certain faction of people who believe that their interpretation is not only the right one, but is constantly under attack from open-minded veterans and newcomers alike.

The solution for making this group (like any other group facing extinction) is obvious: find out what they can do for their town/county/state/country, adapt their group's beliefs/philosophy to it, and make it happen. Doing the opposite -making people bend to their beliefs instead of being a living example of the positives of their religion- is a sure-fire way to becoming extinct.

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Kingdoms Aren't Easy to Come By...


King James and the Cavaliers fell to the defense of Bruce Almighty and the Spurs in Game 3 of the Finals. LeBron had a chance to make a game-tying shot, but the ending wasn't exactly Jordanesque.



Still...I'll admit that there are some similarities:

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The "No Spin" Groan

Only because I couldn't make this up myself: a sample of "Things Bill O'Reilly Has Learned"

Never been with a hooker, never been on a blind date. My ego's too big.

Risk means taking chances that may come back to cause you pain.

There are some issues that have gray areas — abortion is one of them. But I do believe that 90 percent of the world's problems are black-and-white.

A best moment? You get into the sappy birth-of-the-daughter moment … and I'm not gonna quantify my life that way.

If you don't care what other people think of you, you can feel comfortable anywhere.


Except for the "abortion" quote, I tried to pick "lessons" that didn't seem overtly political so I could get a better picture of what this guy's like (considering that, even though he's on FoxNews, he claims that he's not right-wing). He admits he has an ego. He understands that taking a risk my cause more harm than good. And his last "lesson: speaks for itself. So three of five comments make him seem like an average person.

Then you get to the other two. "90% of the world's problem are black-and-white?" That's dangerous and lazy thinking. And for someone who claims to be "in the middle," it's also contradictory. A person who thinks that a majority issues or "black-or-white" usually ask the same initial question: "How does this affect me?" Now O'Reilly may be different, but nothing I've heard from him seem to suggest that he doesn't put himself first in any given scenario.

Which leads me to his other quote where he calls the birth of a daughter "sappy." Damn; someone didn't get enough hugs when he was young! And it's strange that someone who sees alot of things in "black-in-white" doesn't want to "quantify" his life in that way (namely, with positive emotions).

All in all, people may argue as to which end of the political spectrum Bill O'Reilly is on, and with good reason: he's sort of a walking contradiction.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

In All His Glory...

Over at Current.TV, Super News has the perfect gift for those who want to desperately try to understand President Bush (or just put words in his mouth):

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NBA Finals 2007: Game One

Well, the Spurs looked rusty, but the Cavs were just shell-shocked (and badly coached) enough to not take advantage. And once San Antonio went into their "you score no more" defense, it was going to take three LeBrons to win that game for Cleveland.

Afterwards, Lebron James was asked about his performance last night and for the next 3 or so games. He said:

A lot of shots I took, I usually make. Things like that happen. You have one off night, but it's not like the NCAA tournament where you have one game and you're out. We've got to regroup.


Interesting statement from a guy who never, ever, ever, ever, ever played a single college game. So I can't wait for Game 2.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Something Smells Fishy Here...

When a guy known for being a critical component of the Religious Right says that more voters means less conservatives (read: Republicans) in office, what does that say about the GOP's recent obsession with voter fraud?

...And I mean obsession.

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No Main Topic


Lots of news today, so I'll let the intro paragraph do the talking:



  1. "The largest ever study of genes in disease has found 24 genetic risk factors — half of them completely new — linked to seven common conditions, British scientists said on Wednesday."

  2. "Vice President Cheney told Justice Department officials that he disagreed with their objections to a secret surveillance program during a high-level White House meeting in March 2004, a former senior Justice official told senators yesterday."

And the biggest item so far: according to the Boston Globe and the New York Times, there are new advances for stem cell research that doesn't cross morale lines. The solution: they say it may be possible to make skin cells behave like stem cells. Wow.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Biggest Loser

As I hinted earlier, and as the WashPost confirms: the biggest loser of last night's GOP debates was President Bush:

The Republican candidates offered repeated criticism of their Democratic opponents, but on issue after issue, they also shredded the president's performance over the past four years. Iraq? Badly mismanaged. Katrina? Bungled. Immigration? The wrong solution. Federal spending? Out of control.

The candidates struggled even to say they would welcome the president playing a role in their administrations should they win the White House in 2008. Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, who served as secretary of health and human services during Bush's first term, offered the unkindest cut.

"I certainly would not send him to the United Nations," he said to laughter from the heavily Republican audience at Saint Anselm College.

The debate seemed to signal open season on the president's record, highlighting the reality that the candidates see the Bush legacy as a liability rather than an asset as they look toward a general election campaign in 2008.


We'll see how harsh they are when they get out and about, and have to talk to the (few-remaining) Bush-lovers face-to-face.

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My Proposed Wizards Trade

With plenty of time (basketball-wise) to speculate, let me propose my first trade to get the Wizards something I think they sorely need: a bench. I mentioned who should stay, maybe take another gamble on, and might be better off without awhile back, so I kept that in mind when I made this deal.


First, let me put my personal starting five out there (italicized players are players whose contract is up and could conceivably be gone):


Center: Darius Songaila


Forwards: Antwan Jamison, Caron Butler


Guards: Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson



With this lineup in mind, what would we need?


Depth at the guard positions. A scoring punch to keep the opposition's second unit on their heels. An extra big body so Songaila can slide over to PF on occasion. A decent swing man who plays defense (especially if Jarvis Hayes bolts).


OK, next: who are the players we can trade...but also worth losing? Two players come to mind: Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas. Because of their scuffles, it's understood that they can't co-exist on any team that wants to make a serious run at a title. In addition, it would really be fair to "pick a side" and trade one but keep the other (they both have their share of blame). Plus, they make enough money to make most trades work.


So here goes. Suppose we go to Toronto and Houston for some help.


In this trade, who do we get? From the Rockets, we get John Lucas and Bob Sura. From the Raptors, we get Kris Humphries, Joey Graham and Juan Dixon.


Scoring punch? Check (if you go by Gilbert, anyway). Extra big body? Check. A swing man who can play some "D?" Check. Depth at the guard position? Check and Check.


Now by all accounts, the Wizards plan on keeping Andray Blatche, Antonio Daniels, Roger Mason, Michael Ruffin, Mike Hall, and Donell Taylor. The team can only have 15 players, and anyone whose ever watched the Wizards over the past three seasons know that it'll take something drastic for them to part ways with Jamison, Arenas and/or Butler. They had 15 players before the trade and traded 2 of that 15 for 5, so that leaves a total of 18 players. Minus the Big Three, that brings us to 15 players who are expendable...meaning that three would have to go (buyout, release, whatever).


Here's who I'd drop: Lucas (too small and probably wouldn't get much playing time), Calvin Booth (Ruffin and Blatche are favorites and Humphries could spell Jamison or Songaila better), and Mike Hall (never played much so his loss wouldn't be a big impact to the team).


So assuming that the players with one year left don't leave, here's the potential 2007-2008 Wizards' bench:


Big Men (Centers/PFs): Ruffin, Blatche, Humphries.


Swing men (Small Forward): Hayes, Graham.


Guards (Shooting&Point): Dixon, Daniels, Sura, Taylor, Mason.




So check this out: with Taylor and Mason, you can go with a big back court. With Hayes, Blatche and Dixon, you have a scoring bench. Daniels, Sura and Ruffin gives you a veteran-sub lineup. You could even put Daniel and Dixon together in the back court, move Arenas to SF, and with Jamison and Butler play one hell of a round of SmallBall.


What's gained? Overall size (like Cleveland has; nobody really talks about their size as much as their new found sense of defense). Consistent scoring opportunities (you could potentially field a lineup with five scorers, like I suggested above). A nice balance of youth and experience (as long as your best three players aren't over the hill, you need this balance to keep up with both the slow-yet-experienced veteran teams as well energetic-yet-erratic young teams you meet in the playoffs.


What's lost? Size up front (but was it ever useful?). Rebounding (but I'll argue that a team's better when every one's forced to rebound as opposed to just having one of two guys be mainly responsible for it). And, to be perfectly honest, there still isn't a pure shooter in the bunch (I still contend that Arenas and Hayes are, at best, streak shooters).

Still, when the dust settles, wouldn't this be an ideal team to take on Cleveland, Miami and anyone else who might pop up in the East?

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Grand Old Pie-throwing

WashPost breaks down who won the GOP debate last night. I agree on two assessments:

  1. Every time Republicans pick one Democratic candidate to attack (in this case, Sen. Hillary Clinton) it puts that candidate at the top of the list. It essentially tells the audience, "don't worry about those other guys. This is the person to look for after the primaries." The GOP wants Clinton to be the Democratic Party nominee so bad they can taste it; but will this strategy work?
  2. If the Republicans were piling on Clinton, then they were all but abandoning President Bush. At least in the debate, that is. They've pretty much said Bush-like things during the debate (particularly on "the War," gay people, and religion) but the new tactic is to paint Bush as...a liberal. Not sure how they can sell that, considering his entire administration is/was made of of neo-conservatives (unless the goal is to paint neo-conservatism as being an abstract form of liberalism).

Of course this proves that it's infinitely easier to talk about who you're not than to talk about who you are.

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"Knife-Happy" Much?

When Lindsay Lohan looks back at her career, moments like this probably won't be remembered fondly. TMZ also "cuts into" the story.

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Don't Look So Surprised...

Not So Fast...

Studies now show that the T-Rex was slow. Wonder how that will impact any future "Jurassic Park" movies?

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Neck & Neck

USA Today says that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are in a virtual tie.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Message From Dr. Dean

Former Governor Howard Dean sent me a letter! It was entitled: "4 Years Down, 46 to Go," which I thought was just brilliant:

According to the White House, Iraq isn't George W. Bush's Vietnam -- it's his Korea.

Last week, Reuters reported that "President George W. Bush would like to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in Iraq like the one in South Korea to provide stability but not in a frontline combat role. The United States has had thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea to guard against a North Korean invasion for 50 years."

The American people voted last November to end the war in Iraq -- not occupy a country engulfed in civil war for decades. A 50-year plan for Iraq is not a strategy and it's certainly not acceptable. But tonight, as the Republicans square off in their third big presidential debate, you can be sure you'll hear the Republican candidates fall in line with their Commander-in-Chief.

The 2008 presidential hopefuls are already offering their support for the "Korea plan." On Friday, John McCain said:

"We have had troops in South Korea for 60 years and nobody minds...If you stay a long, long time, but have the Iraqis doing the fighting, and your people are back in the bases and away from the firing line, I think Americans would be satisfied."

In the most recent CBS News/New York Times poll, 72 percent of Americans disapproved of President Bush's handling of Iraq. Looking back, 61 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. never should have taken military action against Iraq in the first place.

The American people opposed the escalation. They opposed President Bush's timetable veto. And they oppose a 50-year war.

Now the dozen or so Republican presidential candidates vying for his job want to continue this same failed strategy. We can't let that happen.

The Democratic Party agrees: it's time to end the war and refocus on fighting terrorism and strengthening our national security.

Those are our values, and those are America's values.
Sincerely,

Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.


He asked for us/me/the reader to write letters, but I cut that part out to make his message flow better. And the message is: Democrats were not voted in to extend the debacle known as "the Iraq War," and they certainly didn't intend on President Bush to propose staying there for half of a century.

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Shady Politicians Helping Their Own

Paul Wolfowitz begs for Scooter Libby's political life and personal freedom:
I know of many examples of Mr. Libby's service to individuals, but let me mention two that are relevant in the context of the present case [this is Page 3 of his letter, BTW]. One involves his effort to persuade a newspaper not to publish information that would have endangered the life of a covert CIA agent working overseas. Late into the evening, long after most others had left the matter to be dealt with the next day, Mr. Libby worked to collect the information that was needed to persuade the editor not to run the story. His assistant Jenny Mayfield told me that was when she realized she was working for a very special person - as indeed she was.

I also remember how Mr. Libby offered his services pro bono or at reduced cost - after he had returned to private law practice - to help former colleagues and friends with legal issue. In one case helped a public official defend himself successfully against libelous accusations, something that is extremely difficult to do for anyone in public office. The official in question was Richard Armitage who recently served as Deputy Secretary of State.



This is one of many letters written on Mr. Libby's behalf. But as for Wolfowitz's comments above, I have some questions/comments:

  1. Shouldn't a judge know what pro bono means? It sounds like either he thinks the judge is stupid or just wrote this knowing public eyes would one day read it.

  2. Why did it take Wolfowitz so long to get to information/testimony relevant to the case?

  3. Wolfowitz's example is interesting: Libby apparently went to great lengths to stop a story which contained information that would have endangered a covert agent; Robert Novak has been accused of doing just that in regards to Valerie Plame. So my question is: what was the difference in the two events? You can't really use the "Plame wasn't covert" argument because Wolfowitz's story seems to suggest that someone like Libby -who apparently is so passionate - would never have let Novak's article see daylight if her status was in question.

  4. The story itself is bland and vague. We don't know if this other covert agent had any kind of relationship with Libby. Wolfowitz doesn't share what the damaging information could have been, or who the writer was, or the name of the media who was going to publish it. Granted, most of these answers would be labeled "National Security" but if so, why the hell would Wolfowitz bring it up if he knows he can't go into detail?

There's more, but I'm tired and confused. Let me close by saying that Tim Grieve over at Salon.com has an interesting take, and the guys at ThinkProgress say that Libby has been sentenced to 30 months in jail and a fine of of $250,000.




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Monday, June 04, 2007

Eating $$$

Read it and weep:

Rising gasoline prices have been getting all the attention, but the cost of another, more-important staple is actually rising even more: food.

In the past year, food prices have increased 3.7 percent and are on track to jump by as much as 7 percent by year's end. The current increase is more than double the 1.8 percent jump seen the year before, according to the consumer price index.

Meanwhile, gas prices rose 2.9 percent. Only the cost of health care rose more, and then just slightly.


Just another (indirect, of course) sacrifice in order to keep this Iraq thing going.

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Depressed? Then Get Married!

You can't make something like this up:

A recent study suggests that marriage provides a greater psychological boost to depressed people than to happy people, even if the marriage is so-so.

Previous studies have suggested that the psychological perks of marriage depend upon marriage quality--a happy marriage gives rise to a happy couple, and vice versa.


I wonder what the people who oppose gay marriage on the grounds that "marriage is sacred" have to say about this study, and what it suggests.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Yuck, Man; Just...Yuck.

From the WashPost:

A former Arlington County youth sports coach who once headed the Virginia ACLU pleaded guilty this afternoon to charges that he purchased child pornography so graphic that prosecutors called it "sadistic.''

Charles Rust-Tierney, 51, admitted that he accessed more than 850 pornographic images of children as young as four, including a six-minute video depicting the sexual torture of children set to a song by the band Nine Inch Nails. Authorities said Rust-Tierney used a computer in his 10-year-old son's bedroom to view the files, some of which were contained on CD's bearing an American flag logo.



Just goes to show that no group or faction is immune to attracting deviants (although some places have more than others). This guy will not be missed.

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