Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween fun | Mike Luckovich | ajc.com

A Country Ruled by Faith

by Gary Wills
The right wing in America likes to think that the United States government was, at its inception, highly religious, specifically highly Christian, and even more specifically highly biblical. That was not true of that government or any later government until 2000, when the fiction of the past became the reality of the present. George W. Bush was not only born-again, like Jimmy Carter. His religious conversion came late, and took place in the political setting of Billy Graham's ministry to the powerful. He was converted during a stroll with Graham on his father's Kennebunkport compound. It is true that Dwight Eisenhower was guided to baptism by Graham. But Eisenhower was a famous and formed man, the principal military figure of World War II, the leader of NATO, the president of Columbia University his change in religious orientation was just an addition to many prior achievements. Bush's conversion at a comparatively young stage in his life was a wrenching away from mainly wasted years. He joined a Bible study culture in Texas that was unlike anything Eisenhower bought into.
Bush was a saved alcoholic—and here, too, he had no predecessor in the White House. Ulysses Grant conquered the bottle, but not with the help of Jesus. Other presidents were evangelicals. Three of them belonged to the Disciples of Christ—James Garfield, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan. But none of the three— nor any of the other forty-two presidents preceding Bush (including his father)—would have answered a campaign debate question as he did. Asked who was his favorite philosopher, he said "Jesus Christ." And why? "Because he changed my heart." Over and over, when he said anything good about someone else—including Vladimir Putin—he said it was because "he has a good heart," which is evangelical-speak (as in "condoms cannot change your heart"). Bush talks evangelical talk as no other president has, including Jimmy Carter, who also talked the language of the secular Enlightenment culture that evangelists despise. Bush told various evangelical groups that he felt God had called him to run for president in 2000: "I know it won't be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it."[1]

Bush promised his evangelical followers faith-based social services, which he called "compassionate conservatism." He went beyond that to give them a faith-based war, faith-based law enforcement, faith-based education, faith-based medicine, and faith-based science. He could deliver on his promises because he stocked the agencies handling all these problems, in large degree, with born-again Christians of his own variety. The evangelicals had complained for years that they were not able to affect policy because liberals left over from previous administrations were in all the health and education and social service bureaus, at the operational level. They had specific people they objected to, and they had specific people with whom to replace them, and Karl Rove helped them do just that.

It is common knowledge that the Republican White House and Congress let " Street" lobbyists have a say in the drafting of economic legislation, and on th personnel assigned to carry it out, in matters like oil production, pharmaceutica regulation, medical insurance, and corporate taxes. It is less known that for socia services, evangelical organizations were given the same right to draft bills and instal the officials who implement them. Karl Rove had cultivated the extensive network o religious right organizations, and they were consulted at every step of the way as th administration set up its policies on gays, AIDS, condoms, abstinence programs creationism, and other matters that concerned the evangelicals. All the evangelicals resentments under previous presidents, including Republicans like Reagan and th first Bush, were now being addressed

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Who Is Richard Engel?

Richard Engel is NBC News Middle East Correspondent and Beirut, Lebanon Bureau Chief. Engel, the only television news correspondent to cover the entire war in Iraq for an American television network from Baghdad, joined NBC News in May 2003. He was the recipient of the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award in 2006 for “Feature – Hard News” for his report on a Baghdad E.R.

Engel, who reported as a freelance journalist for ABC News during the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq, was NBC News lead Iraq correspondent from 2003 until his appointment to Beirut Bureau Chief in May 2006. He covered the war between Israel and Hezbollah during the summer of 2006 from Beirut and southern Lebanon. Engel continues to cover the ongoing war in Iraq as well as other assignments throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.

Engel published a book about his experiences as a reporter in Iraq, "A Fist in the Hornet's Nest: On the Ground in Baghdad Before, During, and After the War."

Prior to working for ABC News, Engel served as the Middle East correspondent for “The World,” a joint production of BBC World Service, Public Radio International (PRI) and WGBH-Boston radio from 2001-2003. He has also written for USA Today, Reuters, AFP and Jane’s Defence Weekly, a British publication in which he authored the magazine’s in-depth profiles of Egypt, Yemen and al-Qaida.

Engel has lived in the Middle East for ten years. He speaks and reads fluent Arabic, which he learned while living in the slums of Cairo after graduating from Stanford University in 1996 with a B.A. in International Relations. Engel has also traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and can comfortably transition between several of the Arabic dialects spoken across the Arab world. He is also fluent in Italian and Spanish.
Yesterday, Howard Kurtz ran a profile of NBC Middle East bureau chief Richard Engel, who has the (dubious) distinction of being the TV news correspondent with the longest-running tenure in Iraq at 3 1/2 years. Here's a sampling of what he's seen:

Earlier this month he interviewed a woman whose 13-year-old son was kidnapped. After she paid the $12,000 ransom, the boy was tortured and killed anyway.
"It's horrible," Engel says. "I've seen hundreds of dead bodies -- rotting bodies, bodies buried in shallow graves. One time I watched a dog carry a severed human head in its mouth. You're smelling bodies, you're seeing people who are so angry and insanely distraught. The people who are being killed are too old, too stupid, too poor, too young or too weak, socially or otherwise, to leave."

This is the same war Bush described the U.S. as "winning" earlier this week.

Engel's story is pretty incredible as Kurtz tells it, and his work from Baghdad, both on print and on NBC's "Blogging Baghdad" has been thorough and regular and above all human — this report filed from a Baghdad orphanage is truly heartbreaking and triggered a massive response at NBC, prompting it's re-airing. Says NBC anchor Brian Williams:

"In an era of instant media criticism, he calls balls and strikes in the middle of a war zone," says NBC anchor Brian Williams. "He is completely unbothered by any Web site that may have problems with his reporting while he's over in Iraq dodging bullets. . . . He is the most agenda-less person I've met in our business, I think, in the past 20 years."
Oh, reeeaaaaally? Tim Graham at the NRO's Corner blog begs to differ. He doesn't think Engel is agenda free — since he's a pacifist! Oooh, gotcha. The ever-intrepid Graham thinks Engel has been "remarkably gloomy from Baghdad" (yeah, where's the gloss on that severed head, dammit?) and he raises an eyebrow that "no critics of Engel's reporting" were cited, even though a correspondent from a competing network who is, you know, on site was consulted. Note Graham's problem with Engel's mother being interviewed; I suppose Laura Ingraham would have been more approrpriate to comment on Engel's early life.

Says Engel: "Whether you agree with the war or not, I have a very soft spot for the guys who are out there. These guys have saved my life on more than one occasion, and they are dying at the rate of two a day, and they deserve to be talked about." Yes — but only if you follow the script. Right, NRO?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Not Sure How to Tie A Tie? Peel an Apple? Fold Your Clothes?

WSJ: "Do you know how to take a shower? VideoJug.com is betting you don't -- at least not as well as you think you do.
The new service, devoted to instructional videos, offers a five-minute, 21-second exposition, 'How to Use the Shower,' that delivers tips on curtain placement (tuck it inside the tub to prevent splashing) and toweling (dry between the toes). The clip has been viewed thousands of times, as have similar ones on onion chopping, beer pouring and how to tie a half-Windsor knot.
It's the next iteration of the burgeoning self-help industry: teaching people the obvious. After the success of do-it-yourself books and TV shows that offer expert advice on everything from baking your own wedding cake to remodeling a four-story home, a number of new Web sites are hoping to make money sticking with the basics. On eHow.com, one of the most popular topics is 'How to Boil an Egg' -- broken down into six steps of written instructions. Videos at ViewDo.com, launched this summer, address such matters as how to peel and slice an apple. WikiHow.com provides a written tutorial on playing 'Hide and Go Seek.' (Step Three: 'Determine who will be 'It.'... Use 'One Potato, Two Potato' or similar method.')
In many cases, the obvious is proving popular. On VideoJug, a lesson in 'How to Brush Your Teeth' ranks well above 'How to Make Chicken Jalfrezi' on the site's 'Most Viewed' list. The site's video on 'How to Fold a T-Shirt in Two Seconds' has been viewed nearly 40,000 times"

We Love You Too, Joe

Joe Klein does his best to woo the blogosphere into his corner and what a job he does. For no reason at all, he throws the left wing bloggers under the bus while talking about Limbaugh's horrific treatment of MJ Fox. Way to go! Can all those Democrats tell me how Markos' ring tasted at YearlyKos? It was a little tart the last time I had the privilege. I know we all really love the way you write and communicate your vast knowledge on the political front and represent all liberals in the great land of the USA. Keep up the good work. We love you, Joe Klein!
Video-WMP Video-QT
KLEIN: And I got to say that, you know, for the vice president of the United States to legitimize a guy like Rush Limbaugh is every bit as bad as all those Democrats who went out to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of the Daily Kos and the left-wing bloggers. I mean, can't we just stop this crap?"

Monday, October 23, 2006

The President's lost Andy Rooney

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney.
I'd like to talk to you about something you probably don't want to be talked to about.
Someone - and I guess it's President Bush - has to tell us what in the world we're doing in Iraq now. I don't think any of us know. We did the right thing getting rid of Saddam Hussein, but what are we doing there now?
The Pentagon never tells us anything. Usually reporters and cameramen let us know quite a bit but it's so dangerous for them in Baghdad now that even they can't show us much of what's going on.
So far almost 2,800 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. I say 'almost 2,800' because there is no exact number. It changes by six or eight every day. That's how many of our young men get killed? And for what? Just tell us, Mr. President. For what? It hasn't even been good for Iraq; it certainly hasn%u2019t been good for us. The whole world thinks less of us for what we're doing there.

This little war is costing us $2 billion a what? I forget, a day, a week, a minute? It's the kind of money I can't even imagine.
President Bush should stand up there in front of us on television and do the hardest thing of all for any president to do. Tell us the truth. He should just say "Americans, there's something I have to tell you. You trusted me to be your leader and I thought I was doing the right thing when we went into Iraq. Well, I hate to admit it but I was wrong. I'm sorry but we never should have gone in and now we should get out."

Well, I'm not holding my breath until President Bush says that because I've never heard him admit he was wrong about anything. It isn't something presidents do. I don't recall hearing Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter admitting they were wrong either.

I was asked to keep this short tonight. Fortunately it's easier to be short when I’m serious. Funny takes longer.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Complete works of Britain's Darwin to be made available online - Yahoo! News

LONDON (AFP) - The complete works of Charles Darwin, the British naturalist who pioneered the theory of evolution, are to be published online in a ground-breaking project launched by Cambridge University.
Members of the public will be able to listen to and read for free works including 'The Origin of Species' and previously unpublished notebooks from his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle.
This five-year journey started in 1831 and took Darwin to South America and Australia, where he collected huge numbers of samples of fossils and living organisms.
It provided the basis for much of his future work and brought him success and celebrity on his return to Britain, although he did not publish 'The Origin of Species' until 1859.
The project, www.darwin-online.org.uk, is being overseen by Dr John van Wyhe of Christ's College, Cambridge, Darwin's alma mater.
Consisting of 50,000 pages of searchable text and 40,000 images of original publications, a university spokesman said it was 'the first-ever undertaking of its kind' and 'the largest collection of Darwin's writings ever published'."

Amy Goodman on the Colbert Report

Friday, October 20, 2006

VP Bill? Depends on Meaning of 'Elected' - washingtonpost.com

The prospective presidential candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton has given rise to plenty of speculation about the notion of Bill Clinton as the nation's first gentleman. But what about another role? How about, say, vice president?Politically, of course, the idea is a non-starter for all sorts of reasons. But that doesn't stop the parlor games, especially on the Internet. The issue came up last week during a chat on washingtonpost.com: What if Hillary picked Bill as her running mate? A Post reporter rashly dismissed the idea as unconstitutional. But that only proved the dangers of unedited journalism. The answer, it turns out, is not so simple.
A subsequent sampling of opinion from professors of constitutional law, former White House lawyers and even a couple of federal judges reveals a simmering disagreement on whether a president who has already served two terms can be vice president. Some agree with the conclusion that the presidential term limit embedded in the Constitution bars someone such as Clinton from returning to the White House even in the No. 2 slot. Others, though, call that a misreading of the literal language of the law.
As the former president might say, it all depends on the meaning of the word "elected." Under Article II of the Constitution, a person is "eligible to the Office of President" as long as he or she is a natural-born U.S. citizen, at least 35 years old and a resident of the United States for 14 years. The 12th Amendment says "no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President."

Okay, so that means if you're not eligible to be president, you're not eligible to be vice president. Makes sense. What would be the point of electing a vice president who can't succeed the president in case of death, incapacity or vacancy?

But then Congress and the states added the 22nd Amendment in 1951 to prevent anyone from following the example of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won four terms. That's where things get dicey. "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice," the 22nd Amendment says.

On its face, that seems to suggest that Clinton could be vice president because he is only barred from being elected president a third time, not from serving as president. That's the argument of Scott E. Gant, a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner in Washington, and Bruce G. Peabody, an assistant professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. The two wrote a law review article in 1999 called "The Twice and Future President" and reprised the argument this summer in the Christian Science Monitor.

"In preventing individuals from being elected to the presidency more than twice, the amendment does not preclude a former president from again assuming the presidency by means other than election, including succession from the vice presidency," they wrote. "If this view is correct, then Clinton is not 'constitutionally ineligible to the office of president,' and is not barred by the 12th Amendment from being elected vice president."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Christian Women Refuses License Pic Versus Muslim Woman Doing Same

This Christian woman said that she did not want her face to appear on her Nebraska driver’s license, from a law review article, called “Rejecting the Case Against Free Exercise Exemption”, 75 B.U. L. Rev. 241:
For most of us, posing for a driver’s license photograph is a mundane experience. But for Frances Quaring, the photo was anything but unobjectionable. Quaring read the Bible’s Second Commandment literally. The Commandment proscribes the making of “any graven image, or any likeness.” According to Quaring, the Second Commandment prohibited photographs of “anything in creation.” Among other things, the Commandment proscribed driver’s license photos.
Quaring’s objection to possessing an “image having a likeness of anything in creation” followed from her sincerely held religious beliefs. Quaring did not possess photos of her wedding or of her family. Quaring did not own a television set. When Quaring purchased groceries displaying pictures on the labels, she either removed the labels or covered the pictures with a black marking pen.
The State of Nebraska required that each driver’s license include the resident’s photograph. The license photos helped police to exclude unlicensed drivers from state roadways. Because she refused to pose for a photo, Nebraska would not issue a driver’s license to Quaring.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the burden imposed on Quaring’s religious beliefs outweighed the state interests served by the driver’s license photograph requirement. Relying on the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, the Eighth Circuit concluded that the state must exempt Quaring from the photo requirement.
This Muslim woman said that she wanted her face covered with a niqab in her license photo. 924 So.2d 48, 54 (Fla.App. 5 Dist., 2006) :
[Sultana] Freeman states that forcing her to comply with the photograph requirement places a substantial burden upon her exercise of her religion, contrary to the trial court’s finding. Freeman argues that she does not waive her belief by allowing photographs of herself veiled with her eyes showing. Rather, the veil converts her face into a faceless image, Freeman argues. She writes: The effect of a veil is so one does not see the face. Therefore, although Appellant’s religion allows a photograph of a human wearing a veil, Appellant is not permitting photographs of the face, as the face is covered by the veil. Therefore, it was not only an error of law, but an error of logic, for the trial court to hold Appellant loses her rights because her religion allows photographs of humans wearing a veil but does not allow photographs of anything but faceless images. The veil is what keeps the image faceless.
We determine there is no substantial burden on Freeman’s exercise of religion.
In other words, the niqab wearer had to show her face if she wanted a license.
I’m not going to sit here and talk about double standards. In my opinion, both women are wrong, and both should have been required to be pictured.
It goes to the honesty of Muslim scholarship that the Muslim expert testifying in the Sultana case — Dr. Khaled Abu el Fadl — basically said that Sultana had to show her face. Meanwhile, no Christian expert came forward to rebut Quaring’s idiotic assertion.
Still, those that support Quaring’s right to not be pictured, have pretty much run out of counter-arguments for why Sultana couldn’t be afforded the same rights.

Hillary is us

Salon: "Oct. 16, 2006 | This September, in the gilded reception room at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Jane Fonda smiled gamely as she greeted reporters and guests. The actress was there to receive an award from the Center for the Advancement of Women. I asked her what she thought of the idea of Hillary Clinton running for president. Her smile faded abruptly, replaced by a dark pause and tensely set jaw. 'Well,' Fonda said, 'her position on the war disappoints me a lot, and that's a biggie.'
Fonda quickly added that Clinton would respect 'women and women's bodies,' but insisted she would never vote for a candidate just because she was a woman. 'We've had plenty of female presidents and prime ministers where I would've rather had a man of conscience, a male feminist,' she said. But would Fonda support Clinton for the presidency? 'If she's the Democratic candidate, of course I will.' Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
To be fair, Clinton is probably not banging down Fonda's door for a plug. After all, a picture of young Barbarella attending a rally in the vicinity of young Vietnam vet John Kerry circulated in 2004 as anti-Kerry propaganda. But jumping on a girls-for-Clinton bandwagon would seem to be so smooth, so historic, so romantic; Fonda's hem and haw suggests that the former first lady and current senator from New York is not the apotheosis of the feminist project that so many women had hoped she would be.
Clinton puts liberal women, especially those who comfortably call themselves feminists, in a very awkward position. At last a woman is favored to run for president of the United States. And not the kind of woman one might have guessed would grace a major-party ticket. Clinton is not a Republican whose politics make Margaret Thatcher look like Barbara Jordan. She is a politician who once appeared to be feminism's fantasy made flesh -- smart, direct and driven to defend bold social causes like children's welfare and women's equality.
But pick apart the pretty tapestry that features Hillary as Eleanor Roosevelt reborn, Shirley Chisholm recalled, and Pat Schroeder redeemed, and you'll find a knottier weave: recognition threaded with betrayal, idolatry with disappointment, approval with anger. You'll certainly find ardent feminists who are true Hillary believers. But you'll also find plenty whose moods blacken at the mention of the New York senator's name."

Moderates in Kansas Decide They're Not in GOP Anymore - washingtonpost.com

By Peter SlevinWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, October 19, 2006; Page A01
WICHITA -- Paul Morrison, a career prosecutor who specializes in putting killers behind bars, has the bulletproof resume and the rugged looks of a law-and-order Republican, which is what he was until last year. That was when he announced he would run for attorney general -- as a Democrat.He is now running neck-and-neck with Republican Phill Kline, an iconic social conservative who made headlines by seeking the names of abortion-clinic patients and vowing to defend science-teaching standards that challenge Darwinian evolution. What's more, Morrison is raising money faster than Kline and pulling more cash from Republicans than Democrats."
Nor is Morrison alone. In a state that voted nearly 2 to 1 for President Bush in 2004, nine former Republicans will be on the November ballot as Democrats. Among them is Mark Parkinson, a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, who changed parties to run for lieutenant governor with the popular Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius.

"I'd reached a breaking point," Parkinson said, preparing for a rally in Wichita alongside Sebelius. "I want to work on relevant issues and not on a lot of things that don't matter."

Blank Check Nightmare - Special Comment

Keith Olbermann has been calling it like it is. His 'Special Comments' are indeed special because no other talking head outside of Cafferty is willing to step up to the plate and say what needs to be said on 24/7. 'Your words are lies, Sir.' They are lies, that imperil us all.' Sounds about right to me.
Video - WMV�� Video - QT
Olbermann: And lastly, as promised, a Special Comment tonight on the signing of the Military Commissions Act and the loss of Habeas Corpus.
We have lived as if in a trance. We have lived as people in fear.
And now our rights and our freedoms in peril we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.
Therefore, tonight, have we truly become, the inheritors of our American legacy. For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Man dismembers girlfriend in Quarter; cooks body parts

NOLA.com: Times-Picayune Updates: "A suicide note in the pocket of a man who jumped off the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel late Tuesday led police to the grisly scene of his girlfriend’s murder, where they found her charred head in a pot on the stove, her legs and feet baked in the oven and the rest of her dismembered body in trash bag in the refrigerator, according to police and the couple’s landlord.
The man, Zackery Bowen, a tall man in his mid 20s with long blond hair, claimed in the note to have killed his girlfriend, Adrian “Addie” Hall, on Oct. 5, according to police. Hall was also in her mid 20s.
In the five-page note, Bowen claimed he strangled Hall in the bathtub, then dismembered her body before taking it in pieces to the kitchen, police said. An autopsy conducted today shows that Hall was in fact manually strangled, police said. It also appears that Hall’s body was cut up after she died, police said.
“He appeared to clean up the bathroom a lot after he did it,” one officer said.
Police found the victim’s head burned beyond recognition in a pot on top of the stove, and her legs and feet in the same condition in pans inside the oven, police said.
Bowen was from Los Angeles, but apparently had lived in the New Orleans area for quite a while, police said. Friends said he served in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan and displayed both pride and bitterness over that experience."

A two-tiered airport taxi system could lead to 'Chapter Two'

Star Tribune: "Imagine you're returning from a trip with a bottle of French wine to celebrate your wedding anniversary. At the airport, you drag your bags out to the taxi stand in the cold breeze. As the cab pulls up, you hoist your suitcases, eager to get home.But when the driver spots your wine, he shakes his head emphatically. The Qur'an prohibits him from accepting passengers with alcohol, he tells you. OK, so you'll take the next cab. But the next driver waves you off, and the next.Scenes like this have played out hundreds of times at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport over the last few years. About three-fourths of the 900 taxi drivers at the airport are Somali, many of them Muslim. In September, the Star Tribune reported that one flight attendant had been refused by five drivers, because she had wine in her suitcase.Taxi drivers who refuse a customer, except for safety reasons, must go to the end of the taxi line.They face a potential three-hour wait for the next fare. Muslim drivers asked for an exemption, and officials of the Metropolitan Airports Commission proposed color-coded lights on cab roofs to indicate whether the driver would accept a passenger carrying alcohol.But last week, the MAC announced that it would not adopt the new policy. Officials cited an overwhelmingly negative public reaction, among other reasons. 'I've had over 500 e-mails and calls, and not one supported the change,' said Patrick Hogan, MAC spokesman. Why? Aren't Americans accustomed to granting modest legal accommodations to groups or individuals on the basis of their religious beliefs?For many people, Hogan speculates, the issue may have been bigger than drivers' reluctance to transport alcohol. 'I think people were afraid there would be a Chapter Two.'In some other cities, 'Chapter Two' has already begun. Muslim cab drivers elsewhere, for example, have refused to transport blind customers with seeing-eye dogs, which they say their religion considers unclean. On Oct. 6, the Daily Mail of London reported that two cab drivers had been fined for rejecting blind customers. In Melbourne, Australia, 'at least 20 dog-aided blind people have lodged discrimination complaints' after similarly being refused service, the Herald Sun reported.In Minneapolis, Muslim taxi drivers have repeatedly refused to transport Paula Hare, who is transgendered, KMSP-TV, Channel 9, reported this month.Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, wrote about the MAC's two-light proposal in the New York Sun on the day its rejection was announced. While the proposal seemed like a common-sense compromise, he wrote, on a societal level, it has massive and troubling implications. Government sanction of a two-tiered cab system would amount to an acknowledgement that Shari'a, or Islamic law, is relevant to a routine commercial transaction in the Twin Cities. The MAC, a government agency, would be officially approving a signal that differentiates those who follow Islamic law from those who don't.And what if Muslim drivers demand the right not to transport women wearing short skirts or tank tops, or unmarried couples? After taxis, why not buses, trains and planes? Eventually, in some respects, our society could be divided along religious lines."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How Many of Me - Front Page

There are 299,968,595
people in the United States of America. If everyone in the U.S. lined
up single file, the line would stretch around the Earth almost 7 times.
That's a lot of people.

The U.S. Census Bureau statistics tell us that there are at least 88,799
different last names and 5,163 different first names in common use in
the United States. Some names are more common than others.

There are 49,535 people named John Smith in the United States. �There are 1,048 people named James Bond, 113 people named Harry Potter , 503 people named George Bush, and 31 people named Emily Dickinson. However, Johnny Cash (39 people) songs aside there are, statistically speaking, no boys named Sue.

What about you? How many people share your name? Enter it and find out how many of you there are."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Why Aren't We Shocked?

New York Times: "“Who needs a brain when you have these?”
— message on an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt for young women

In the recent shootings at an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania and a large public high school in Colorado, the killers went out of their way to separate the girls from the boys, and then deliberately attacked only the girls.
Ten girls were shot and five killed at the Amish school. One girl was killed and a number of others were molested in the Colorado attack.
In the widespread coverage that followed these crimes, very little was made of the fact that only girls were targeted. Imagine if a gunman had gone into a school, separated the kids up on the basis of race or religion, and then shot only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews.
There would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have first recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that kind of murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and reflection. And the attack would have been seen for what it really was: a hate crime.
None of that occurred because these were just girls, and we have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence against females is more or less to be expected. Stories about the rape, murder and mutilation of women and girls are staples of the news, as familiar to us as weather forecasts. The startling aspect of the Pennsylvania attack was that this terrible thing happened at a school in Amish country, not that it happened to girls."

One proud Poppy ... but

The elder Bush voices public support for his son, but many of the former president's closest aides beg to differ.
WASHINGTON - At this month's christening of the nuclear aircraft carrier bearing his name, former President George H.W. Bush delivered a rousing endorsement of his son.
'I am very proud of our President,' the elder Bush said in rain-swept ceremonies in Newport News, Va. 'I support him in every single way with every fiber in my body.'
Yet many of his closest former aides beg to differ.
Indeed, one of the worst-kept secrets in Bush World is the dismay, in some cases disdain, harbored by many senior aides of the former President toward the administration of his son - 41 and 43, as many call them, political shorthand that refers to their numerical places in American presidential history.
For five years, the 41s have bit their collective tongues as, they complain, the 43s ignored their counsel. But as the war in Iraq has worsened and public support for the current administration has tanked, loyalists of the elder Bush have found it impossible to suppress their disillusionment - particularly their belief that many of 43's policies are a stick in the eye of his father."
"Forty-three has now repudiated everything 41 stands for, and still he won't say a word," a key member of the elder Bush alumni said. "Personally, I think he's dying inside."
To 41 loyalists, the bill of indictment is voluminous. Some alleged 43 has betrayed his father's middle-of-the-road philosophy by governing as a divider, not the uniter he promised in the 2000 campaign. Others, like former 41 speechwriter Curt Smith, argue 43 isn't conservative enough.
"Conservatives want limited government, a balanced Middle East approach, a foreign policy that builds, not destroys, and general, not special, interest," Smith said. "Bush 41 endorsed all of the above. Bush 43 supports none."
A common refrain of the 41s is that 43's muscular approach to foreign affairs - what one derided as "cowboy diplomacy" - has estranged the U.S. from its allies and diminished its authority around the globe.
The ultimate sticking point for the old guard is Iraq. They cite the appointment of 41's close friend and former secretary of state, James Baker, to chart a new Iraq policy as belated vindication.
The 41s remain incensed, however, that Brent Scowcroft, 41's national security adviser and once a top outside adviser to this administration, has been demonized since he wrote a 2002 article opposing an Iraq invasion.
"What Brent said is now the accepted wisdom," a senior 41 hand said, "and everyone believes 41 agrees with him, though he'll never say it."
While the 41s do most of the finger-pointing, aides to the current President reject the criticism as nitpicking from out-of-touch malcontents.
They also bash the 41s for going public, charging much of the damaging material in Bob Woodward's new book, "State of Denial," was provided by 41 partisans.
"Nobody has a monopoly on wisdom," a 43 staffer said, "especially those whose information may not be as good as when they were in power."
The family-feud fault lines were on dramatic display at the carrier christening festivities, where both camps turned out in full force.
"We're all on our best behavior," a top 43 official joked.
A few moments later, however, one of 41's most prominent counselors couldn't resist.
Trading social gossip at a reception, the ex-aide noted that former Secretary of State Colin Powell was in attendance. "He should be here," the adviser noted. "We didn't fire him" - a barbed reference to Powell's departure as 43's top diplomat after four years of bureaucratic fisticuffs with Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, two frequent targets of the 41s.
"Everyone knew how Rumsfeld acts," another key 41 assistant said. "Everyone knew 43 didn't have an attention span. Everyone knew Condi [Rice] wouldn't be able to stand up to Cheney and Rumsfeld. We told them all of this, and we were told we don't know what we're doing."
Another top former 41 loyalist confided that several ex-colleagues remarked on a perceived "stature gap" between father and son as they sat on the dais.
The 41s concede their broadsides are awkward for their ex-boss, but say they're motivated by a desire to protect his legacy.
In fact, the 41s suggest a singular irony: the unpopularity of the son's administration may be rehabilitating the father's.
"By comparison, the old man looks better and better," a senior 41 hand said, with undisguised satisfaction.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Preordained War?

"The aircraft carrier Eisenhower, accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio, guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage, guided-missile destroyer USS Mason and the fast-attack submarine USS Newport News, is, as I write, making its way to the Straits of Hormuz off Iran. The ships will be in place to strike Iran by the end of the month. It may be a bluff. It may be a feint. It may be a simple show of American power. But I doubt it."

*Folks, This is exactly, and I mean exact, sort of lead up we saw before the invasion of Iraq. We are however missing the tanks and the abrams vehicles. So, What we will have is a strike on Iran, not an invasion. As if that is any better for the poor souls of Iran. Bush is a scary man, once I thought he was just foolish and silly. I am now afraid.

Friday, October 13, 2006


by Chris in Paris - 10/13/2006 04:17:00 AM
Sounds like someone is having a temper tantrum because he can't get his way on everything. When the world is so black and white place and you don't do nuance, frustration is bound to kick in.But a survey of transcripts from Bush's public remarks over the past seven years shows the president's worsening political predicament has actually stoked, rather than diminished, his desire to proclaim what he cannot abide. Some presidential scholars and psychologists describe the trend as a signpost of Bush's rising frustration with his declining influence.In the first nine months of this year, Bush declared more than twice as many events or outcomes 'unacceptable' or 'not acceptable' as he did in all of 2005, and nearly four times as many as he did in 2004. He is, in fact, at a presidential career high in denouncing events he considers intolerable. They number 37 so far this year, as opposed to five in 2003, 18 in 2002 and 14 in 2001.Read on because this is an especially interesting read on Bush's choice of words during his national political life. Maybe the next president will go back to old fashioned ideas such as diplomacy and nuance.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Seduced by Snacks? No, Not You

New York Times: "PEOPLE almost always think they are too smart for Prof. Brian Wansink’s quirky experiments in the psychology of overindulgence.
When it comes to the slippery issues of snacking and portion control, no one thinks he or she is the schmo who digs deep into the snack bowl without thinking, or orders dessert just because a restaurant plays a certain kind of music.
“To a person, people will swear they aren’t influenced by the size of a package or how much variety there is on a buffet or the fancy name on a can of beans, but they are,” Dr. Wansink said. “Every time.”
He has the data to prove it. Dr. Wansink, who holds a doctorate in marketing from Stanford University and directs the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, probably knows more about why we put things in our mouths than anybody else. His experiments examine the cues that make us eat the way we do. The size of an ice cream scoop, the way something is packaged and whom we sit next to all influence how much we eat. His research doesn’t pave a clear path out of the obesity epidemic, but it does show the significant effect one’s eating environment has on slow and steady weight gain.
In an eight-seat lab designed to look like a cozy kitchen, Dr. Wansink offers free lunches in exchange for hard data. He opened the lab at Cornell in April, after he moved it from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he spent eight years conducting experiments in cafeterias, grocery stores and movie theaters. Dr. Wansink presents his work to dieticians, food executives and medical professionals. They use it to get people to eat differently."

British Humor

Courtesy of Dan Froomkin's column today: Monty Python member Terry Jones writes in The Guardian:'Dear President Bush,'I write to you in my capacity as secretary of the World League of Despots.'It is with great pleasure that I am finally able to extend an official invitation to you to join our ranks. . . .'[Y]our unstinting efforts to make torture an internationally accepted aspect of human life have surpassed everything we could have ever hoped for. I don't think there is a single member of the league who could have imagined, six short years ago, that our activities in tormenting our fellow creatures would once again be recognised as acceptable, civilised behaviour, as it once was in the middle ages.'Despite these achievements, we had, until now, felt unable to extend our invitation to you because you had been unable to fulfil one of our basic requirements: the ability to carry out arbitrary arrests, imprisonment without trial, secret torture and executions at will.

The two faces of Rumsfeld

2000: director of a company which wins $200m contract to sell nuclear reactors to North Korea
2002: declares North Korea a terrorist state, part of the axis of evil and a target for regime change

Randeep Ramesh
Friday May 9, 2003
The Guardian

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, sat on the board of a company which three years ago sold two light water nuclear reactors to North Korea - a country he now regards as part of the "axis of evil" and which has been targeted for regime change by Washington because of its efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Mr Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m (£125m) contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defence secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year. He left to join the Bush administration.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Andersonville may put reins on retail chains

Chicago Tribune
: "For years, the Andersonville neighborhood on Chicago's Far North Side has been defined by its quirky, hip, one-of-a-kind shops and eateries: Women and Children First bookstore. Wikstrom's Gourmet Foods. Alamo Shoes.
Now, as the once-struggling neighborhood becomes a hot destination for residents and shoppers--and large corporations take notice--some local business leaders and politicians are considering a drastic attempt to lock in the area's charm: the city's first ban on chain retailers.
According to a draft ordinance by the city Law Department, 'formula businesses' such as Starbucks could be banned from designated business districts in certain historic neighborhoods.
The ordinance has not yet been introduced. But if it were to make its way through the City Council successfully, qualifying neighborhoods could decide whether to opt in to the ban.
Proponents got the idea from San Francisco and cities where similar measures are in effect.
The proposal's backers point to a 2004 study that found that for every $100 spent at an Andersonville business, $68 remains in Chicago, compared with $43 at a chain store.
But some property owners, including some retailers, are balking at the idea, arguing that it would unnecessarily restrict property rights.
Andersonville is not chain-free. It has a Starbucks, a UPS store, an Einstein Bros. Bagels. But for the ban's supporters, it's a matter of proportion.
'One Einstein Bros. Bagels isn't going to harm the neighborhood, but if we started getting a density of them, then our whole character changes,' said Ellen Shepard, executive director of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce."

from the Colbert article

Stephen Colbert Has America by the Ballots -- New York Magazine: "Here's a list of statements by either Stephen Colbert or Ann Coulter. See if you can tell who said what (answers are at the end of the story):
1. “Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do. They don’t have the energy. If they had that much energy, they’d have indoor plumbing by now.”

2. “There’s nothing wrong with being gay. I have plenty of friends who are going to hell.”

3. “I just think Rosa Parks was overrated. Last time I checked, she got famous for breaking the law.”

4. “Being nice to people is, in fact, one of the incidental tenets of Christianity, as opposed to other religions whose tenets are more along the lines of ‘Kill everyone who doesn’t smell bad and answer to the name Muhammad.’ ”

5. “I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Muslim, or Jewish. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.”

6. “[North Korea] is a major threat. I just think it would be fun to nuke them and have it be a warning to the rest of the world.”

7. “Isn’t an agnostic just an atheist without balls?”"

Stephen Colbert Has America by the Ballots

New York Magazine: "Stephen Colbert is running at full stride. As he enters the studio, the audience is already cheering. He is dressed, as he seems always to be dressed, in a sharp suit and conservative tie, with rectangular rimless glasses and perfectly parted hair, so that when he does his short victory lap on the floor of the studio, he looks like a gleeful bank manager who’s just won the lottery or possibly lost his mind.
He thrusts his arms out in mock triumph. The audience roars. He offers a couple of V-for-victory gestures that are part Richard Nixon and part chest-thumping, peace-out-homey sign. Then he motions for everyone to quiet down and asks, “Do you have any questions? Anything you want to know about me before I go into character and start saying these terrible things?”
A hand in the front row shoots up before he finishes. The woman looks so excited to be here that you suspect she’s wearing homemade Colbert pajamas under her clothes. She stands and addresses Colbert. “So how did it feel to give the president the verbal finger at the White House press-corps dinner?”
“Ah, yes,” says Colbert, of the night that vaulted him from a cult-TV comedian to a lantern-wielding folk hero in the dark. “The press-corps dinner.” He smiles a slightly wary, slightly weary smile.
The audience roars again.."

Nice, long article on Colbert!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fox News Does It Again!

Chafee is a Republican! Whitehouse is the Democrat!

MOAB - The Mother of All Bombs

I would also like to add the following. Watch this video! It is amazing, especially if you didn't know this bomb existed.

Concerning North Korea's Test. . . . . just for the sake of knowledge and argument, and to look at things in all directions, that, a few years ago, just before the invasion of Iraq the Pentagon tested a new weapon. March 11 2003 to be exact. It was called the MOAB. It's test was strategically implemented on the eve of a UN vote to put more pressure on Iraq. At any rate, the MOB or Mother Of all Bombs, resulted in a mushroom cloud, visible from southern Florida. It was not nuclear, but instead used a new technique to spread gas in the atmosphere and ignite it all at once, or a Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb. It is the largest non-nuclear weapon in existence. Who needs a Nuke, when these will do the same?


CTBTO - Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization

Please check out the "Treaty Status"

You won't be surprised.

The test ban treaty, which bans all nuclear explosions, will not enter into force until it has been ratified by "44 states who possess either nuclear power or research reactors". So far 34 have ratified it. Holdouts include the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

Outbreak Exposes Weakness in Food Chain

WASHINGTON -- The recent outbreak of E. coli in spinach from California exposed a weakness in the nation's food chain: A system that quickly delivers meat, fruits and vegetables to consumers just as easily can spread potentially deadly bacteria.

Like most food, spinach travels from the field to a central facility where it mixes with spinach from other fields. If any is tainted, the threat to people is amplified as leaves are washed, dried, bagged and shipped throughout the country.

Within days of the first reported E. coli-related case on Aug. 30, illness from the tainted California spinach had spread to two dozen states. Nearly 200 people were sickened -- one-third of them in the first 72 hours. Two elderly woman and a 2-year-old boy died.

"When you open a bag of spinach, do you wonder how many different plants are in there, and how many different fields it came from?" said Dr. Robert Tauxe, chief of foodborne diseases at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"If something went wrong on any one of those fields ... one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel," Tauxe said.

It was the 20th time lettuce or spinach has been blamed for an outbreak of illness since 1995.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hello Condi, Welcome To Hell

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a 'surprise' visit to Iraq this week. As Juan Cole points out, it had to be a 'surprise' visit because otherwise she would be killed. President Bush, who has been vehemently denying his administration has been lying about the progress in Iraq, sent Rice to the region, probably hoping that photo ops with the local government in the Green Zone would knock the chaos out of the news for a day.
Big mistake.
In sending Rice to the hell borne out of his administration's incompetence, President Bush provided the most complete rebuttal to his arguments that Iraq is making steady progress towards peace. Reality, you see, has a pesky way of making itself known when the cameras are rolling:(Update: Note that in this State Dept. photo, Rice had to wear a bullet-proof vest from the moment she disembarked her plane.)"

[S]igns of progress were not much in evidence in the first hours of her visit.
It began inauspiciously when the military transport plane that brought her to Baghdad was forced to circle the city for about 40 minutes because of what a State Department spokesman later said was either mortar fire or rockets at the airport.

On Thursday evening, during her meeting with President Jalal Talabani, the lights went out, forcing Rice to continue the discussion in the dark. It was a reminder of the city's erratic -- and sometimes nonexistent -- electrical service.

She arrived in the midst of an especially bloody few days for American troops. At least 21 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq since Saturday, most in Baghdad. Two car bombings in the city Thursday left at least four Iraqi civilians dead.

Olbermann's Special Comments - washingtonpost.com

Dan Froomkin: Olbermann's Special Comments - washingtonpost.com: "The traditional media has been slow to come to grips with the American public's distrust and dislike of President Bush -- sentiments clearly reflected in opinion polls dating back well over a year.Almost alone among the network newscasters, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann is channeling that sensibility. Channeling it -- and amplifying it.In fact, the increasingly shrill Olbermann is fast becoming the Howard Beale of the anti-Bush era: He's mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.His newscast-ending 'special comment' yesterday was a doozy. Here's the text ; here's the video , from the Crooks and Liars blog.At issue: The sorts of rhetorical excesses in Bush's campaign speeches recently handled (with kid gloves) by such mainstream journalists as McClatchy's Ron Hutcheson and The Washington Post's Peter Baker -- and on which I've been harping for ages, most recently in my Bush's Imaginary Foes column.What apparently set off Olbermann in particular was when Bush recently described a vote against his warrantless wiretapping plan as being the same as saying 'we don't think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists' -- and when Bush said of the Democratic leadership: 'It sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is -- wait until we're attacked again.'
Here's Olbermann yesterday: "The president doesn't just hear what he wants. He hears things that only he can hear.

"It defies belief that this president and his administration could continue to find new unexplored political gutters into which they could wallow. Yet they do.

"It is startling enough that such things could be said out loud by any president of this nation. Rhetorically, it is about an inch short of Mr. Bush accusing Democratic leaders, Democrats, the majority of Americans who disagree with his policies, of treason. . . .

"No Democrat, sir, has ever said anything approaching the suggestion that the best means of self-defense is to 'wait until we're attacked again.'

"No critic, no commentator, no reluctant Republican in the Senate has ever said anything that any responsible person could even have exaggerated into the slander you spoke in Nevada on Monday night, nor the slander you spoke in California on Tuesday, nor the slander you spoke in Arizona on Wednesday . . . nor whatever is next. . . .

"But tonight the stark question we must face is -- why?

"Why has the ferocity of your venom against the Democrats now exceeded the ferocity of your venom against the terrorists?

"Why have you chosen to go down in history as the president who made things up?"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Olbermanns Special Comment: It is not the Democrats whose inaction in the face of the enemy you fear

Keith hits another one out of the park.
Video - WMV Video - QT
Olbermann: And lastly tonight, a Special Comment, about lying. While the leadership in Congress has self-destructed over the revelations of an unmatched, and unrelieved, march through a cesspool While the leadership inside the White House has self-destructed over the revelations of a book with a glowing red cover…

The President of the United States — unbowed, undeterred, and unconnected to reality — has continued his extraordinary trek through our country rooting out the enemies of freedom: The Democrats.

Transcripts below the fold

Yesterday at a fundraiser for an Arizona Congressman, Mr. Bush claimed, quote, "177 of the opposition party said 'You know, we don't think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists."

The hell they did.

177 Democrats opposed the President's seizure of another part of the Constitution*.

Not even the White House press office could actually name a single Democrat who had ever said the government shouldn't be listening to the conversations of terrorists.

President Bush hears… what he wants.

Tuesday, at another fundraiser in California, he had said "Democrats take a law enforcement approach to terrorism. That means America will wait until we're attacked again before we respond."

Mr. Bush fabricated that, too.

And evidently he has begun to fancy himself as a mind-reader.

"If you listen closely to some of the leaders of the Democratic Party," the President said at another fundraiser Monday in Nevada, "it sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is — wait until we're attacked again."

The President doesn't just hear what he wants. He hears things, that only he can hear.

It defies belief that this President and his administration could continue to find new unexplored political gutters into which they could wallow.

Yet they do.

It is startling enough that such things could be said out loud by any President of this nation.

Rhetorically, it is about an inch short of Mr. Bush accusing Democratic leaders; Democrats; the majority of Americans who disagree with his policies — of treason.

But it is the context that truly makes the head spin.

Just 25 days ago, on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, this same man spoke to this nation and insisted, quote, "we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us."

Mr. Bush, this is a test you have already failed.

If your commitment to "put aside differences and work together" is replaced in the span of just three weeks by claiming your political opponents prefer to wait to see this country attacked again, and by spewing fabrications about what they've said, then the questions your critics need to be asking, are no longer about your policies.

They are, instead — solemn and even terrible questions, about your fitness to fulfill the responsibilities of your office.

No Democrat, sir, has ever said anything approaching the suggestion that the best means of self-defense is to "wait until we're attacked again."

No critic, no commentator, no reluctant Republican in the Senate, has ever said anything that any responsible person could even have exaggerated into the slander you spoke in Nevada on Monday night, nor the slander you spoke in California on Tuesday, nor the slander you spoke in Arizona on Wednesday… nor whatever is next.

You have dishonored your party, sir — you have dishonored your supporters — you have dishonored yourself.

But tonight the stark question we must face is - why?

Why has the ferocity of your venom against the Democrats, now exceeded the ferocity of your venom against the terrorists?

Why have you chosen to go down in history as the President who made things up?

In less than one month you have gone from a flawed call to unity, to this clarion call to hatred of Americans, by Americans.

If this is not simply the most shameless example of the rhetoric of political hackery, then it would have to be the cry of a leader crumbling under the weight of his own lies.

We have, of course, survived all manner of political hackery, of every shape, size, and party.

We will have to suffer it, for as long as the Republic stands.

But the premise of a President who comes across as a compulsive liar — is nothing less than terrifying.

A President who since 9/11 will not listen, is not listening — and thanks to Bob Woodward's most recent account — evidently has never listened.

We Told You So: "The Daily Show" Is News

We Told You So: "The Daily Show" Is News

Jon Stewart may joke about how his lead-in is puppets, but anyone who has ever watched "The Daily Show" knows it's a misnomer to call it fake news: It may be a fake newscast, but the news it reports and comments upon night after night is all too real. And now it's official: A study by the University of Indiana has found that "The Daily Show" is as substantive as network news.

This, as said above, is not news to anyone who watches the show; on the contrary, its viewers are highly educted and the quality roster of guests (John McCain, Helen Thomas, Thomas Ricks, Ken Mehlman, Pervez Musharraf and, okay, Samuel L. Jackson) makes it compelling viewing for news junkies as well. Indeed, in addition to covering the latest news, they often seize on less-reported news, with the added bonus of providing context to ongoing issues (nary a show goes by when Stewart does not make reference to the "Mess O'Potamia" in Iraq; also, they are all over the Foley scandal, obviously, but have frankly given more airtime this week to the recent rollback of detainee habeas corpus rights than I have seen elsewhere).

There's no question that the coverage is substantive (even, if as study-leader Professor Julia R. Fox cautions, both network news programs and "The Daily Show" are ratings-driven). But what the study does not mention is not only how the Daily Show now makes news (Stewart's Musharraf interview was picked up everywhere), but it often picks up news that has gone virtually unreported anywhere else, liike this shocking C-SPAN footage of House Judiciary Committee chair James Sensenbrenner cutting short a Congressional hearing on the Patriot Act in June 2005, actually turning off the microphone mid-sentence, gavelling out of the meeting and leaving the room. It was a stunning — stunning — abuse of power, and the MSM missed it (per Google, with a paltry234 hits). That's not only real news, it's real news that everyone else missed. :How's that for substance?

P.S. We'd just like to point out that we've been saying this all along.

Bush Signs Bill for Massive Fence Along Mexican Border

President Bush has signed a law to build hundreds of miles of new fencing along the US-Mexico border. The President held a signing ceremony Wednesday in Arizona.

President Bush: "The bill I sign today includes nearly $1.2 billion in additional funding for strengthening the border, for new infrastructure and technology that will help us do our job. It provides funding for more border fencing, vehicle barriers and lighting, for cutting-edge technology - including ground-based radar, infrared cameras and advanced sensors -- that will help prevent illegal crossings along our southern border. It's what the people of this country want."

The Mexican government strongly opposes the fence, saying it will lead to more deaths and injuries for those who come into the United States through dangerous terrain.

President Who? - washingtonpost.com

excerpted from Dan Froomkin - white house briefing yesterday:
Quote Unquote
Here's a soundbite from Bush's breakfast fundraiser that could come back to haunt him: 'The Democrats are good people; they've just got a different view of the world than I have. They don't see it the way I see it.'Here's the transcript of his afternoon fundraiser.Said Bush: 'We just have a fundamental difference, and it's a key difference for all Americans to look at and listen to. During the debate on the Senate floor, one senior Democrat, their ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, compared the brave Americans who question the terrorists to the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. I believe this exposes a dangerous mind-set on the part of Democrats in the United States Congress. You can't defend America if you can't tell the difference between brave CIA officers who protect their fellow citizens and brutal dictators who kill their citizens. (Applause.)'I'm not making any of this up. (Laughter.)'Ah, but of course, Bush was making it up.
Here is what Senator Patrick Leahy actually said on September 28, and it's not really that funny.
"Imagine you are a law-abiding, lawful, permanent resident, and in your spare time you do charitable fundraising for international relief agencies to lend a helping hand in disasters. You send money abroad to those in need. You are selective in the charities you support, but you do not discriminate on the grounds of religion. Then one day there is a knock on your door. The Government thinks that the Muslim charity you sent money to may be funneling money to terrorists and thinks you may be involved. And perhaps an overzealous neighbor who saw a group of Muslims come to your House has reported 'suspicious behavior.' You are brought in for questioning.

"Initially, you are not very worried. After all, this is America. You are innocent, and you have faith in American justice. You know your rights, and you say: I would like to talk to a lawyer. But no lawyer comes. Once again, since you know your rights, you refuse to answer any further questions. Then the interrogators get angry. Then comes solitary confinement, then fierce dogs, then freezing cold that induces hypothermia, then waterboarding, then threats of being sent to a country where you know you will be tortured, then Guantanamo. And then nothing, for years, for decades, for the rest of your life.

"That may sound like an experience from some oppressive and authoritarian regime, something that may have happened under the Taliban, something that Saddam Hussein might have ordered or something out of Kafka. There is a reason why that does not and cannot happen in America. It is because we have a protection called habeas corpus, or if you do not like the Latin phrase by which it has been known throughout our history, call it access to the independent Federal courts to review the authority and the legality by which the Government has taken and is holding someone in custody. It is a fundamental protection. It is woven into the fabric of our Nation."

But not any more, of course.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"O'Reilly Factor" Labels Mark Foley As Democrat

I must begin by saying this story has been given too much attention. It is a bone. We are being thrown a 'frickin-bone here'. And we are playing the stupid dog role to a "T". Don't mind world events, the fiercest fighting and highest death tolls in Iraq, or the 80 billion more dollars appropriated to fight this "war", because a Congressman texted some naughty words to a teen. Fetch Rover, Good BOY!!!

I do, however, find THIS extremely fascinating......
Mark Foley is a Republican, but Fox has 'accidently' labeled him a Democrat. Others followed their lead. Sound familiar? "It's official folks, the President of the United States is George Bush." Cliche: Welcome to 1984.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

God as fearsome father?

newsobserver.com: "When it comes to religion, many people in the South believe God is in control and his wrath is absolute. A study by Baylor University of Americans' religious attitudes drew attention recently for its finding that Americans are less secular than previously suspected. Only 11 percent of Americans are not affiliated with a congregation, denomination or other religious group, the Baylor researchers found -- less than the 14 percent commonly cited. And most of them believe in God or some higher power.What received less mention was the finding that Southerners, more than residents of any other region of the country, believe in a God the researchers describe as 'authoritarian' -- one who is highly engaged in the world and very angry as well.While 44 percent of Southerners see God in such terms, only 31 percent of all Americans have similar views.'The revivalist mentality of the South starts with the bad news -- the need for repentance,' said L. Gregory Jones, the dean of the Duke Divinity School. 'The focus is on how you change to make God happier with you.' The survey split people's views of God into four types -- authoritarian, benevolent, critical and distant -- after asking respondents a series of questions about God's character and behavior.Significantly, the Baylor researchers found that people's views of God can accurately predict their moral attitudes, political affiliations and stands on hot-button social issues. 'If I took two 40-year-old African-American women living in the South, one with a distant view of God and another with an authoritarian view of God, I can predict their views on all kinds of issues,' said Paul Froese, a professor of sociology at Baylor University and one of the survey's lead researchers.Those who believe in an authoritarian God were nearly twice as likely as those with other views of God to believe abortion is always wrong, for example. They also tended to oppose same-sex marriage and to approve of the death penalty.The same goes for political affiliation. The survey found that 56 percent of people with an authoritarian view of God said they were Republicans, while 49 percent of people with a distant view of God were Democrats"

Arrest over Cheney barb triggers lawsuit

A Denver-area man filed a lawsuit today against a member of the Secret Service for causing him to be arrested after he approached Vice President Dick Cheney in Beaver Creek this summer and criticized him for his policies concerning Iraq.
Attorney David Lane said that on June 16, Steve Howards was walking his 7-year-old son to a piano practice, when he saw Cheney surrounded by a group of people in an outdoor mall area, shaking hands and posing for pictures with several people.

According to the lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in Denver, Howards and his son walked to about two-to-three feet from where Cheney was standing, and said to the vice president, "I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible," or words to that effect, then walked on.

Ten minutes later, according to Howards' lawsuit, he and his son were walking back through the same area, when they were approached by Secret Service agent Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle Jr., who asked Howards if he had "assaulted" the vice president. Howards denied doing so, but was nonetheless placed in handcuffs and taken to the Eagle County Jail.

The lawsuit states that the Secret Service agent instructed that Howards should be issued a summons for harassment, but that on July 6 the Eagle County District Attorney's Office dismissed all charges against Howards.

The lawsuit filed today alleges that Howards was arrested in retaliation for having exercised his First Amendment right of free speech, and that his arrest violated his Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful seizure.

Arrest over Cheney barb triggers lawsuit

A Denver-area man filed a lawsuit today against a member of the Secret Service for causing him to be arrested after he approached Vice President Dick Cheney in Beaver Creek this summer and criticized him for his policies concerning Iraq.
Attorney David Lane said that on June 16, Steve Howards was walking his 7-year-old son to a piano practice, when he saw Cheney surrounded by a group of people in an outdoor mall area, shaking hands and posing for pictures with several people.

According to the lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in Denver, Howards and his son walked to about two-to-three feet from where Cheney was standing, and said to the vice president, "I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible," or words to that effect, then walked on.

Ten minutes later, according to Howards' lawsuit, he and his son were walking back through the same area, when they were approached by Secret Service agent Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle Jr., who asked Howards if he had "assaulted" the vice president. Howards denied doing so, but was nonetheless placed in handcuffs and taken to the Eagle County Jail.

The lawsuit states that the Secret Service agent instructed that Howards should be issued a summons for harassment, but that on July 6 the Eagle County District Attorney's Office dismissed all charges against Howards.

The lawsuit filed today alleges that Howards was arrested in retaliation for having exercised his First Amendment right of free speech, and that his arrest violated his Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful seizure.

Monday, October 02, 2006

"The only thing we didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head."

Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice: On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. The mass of fragments made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately.

Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away. There was no practical way she could refuse such a request from the CIA director.
For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders, called "findings," that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden. Perhaps a dramatic appearance -- Black called it an "out of cycle" session, beyond Tenet's regular weekly meeting with Rice -- would get her attention. Tenet and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action.

Tenet had been losing sleep over the recent intelligence. There was no conclusive, smoking-gun intelligence, but there was such a huge volume of data that an intelligence officer's instinct strongly suggested that something was coming.

He did not know when, where or how, but Tenet felt there was too much noise in the intelligence systems. Two weeks earlier, he had told Richard A. Clarke, the National Security Council's counterterrorism director: "It's my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one."

But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the intelligence, asking: Could it all be a grand deception? Perhaps, he said, it was a plan to measure U.S. reactions and defenses.

Tenet had the National Security Agency review all the intercepts, and the agency concluded they were of genuine al-Qaeda communications. On June 30, a top-secret senior executive intelligence brief contained an article headlined "Bin Laden Threats Are Real."

Tenet hoped his abrupt request for an immediate meeting would shake Rice. He and Black, a veteran covert operator, had two main points when they met with her. First, al-Qaeda was going to attack American interests, possibly in the United States itself. Black emphasized that this amounted to a strategic warning, meaning the problem was so serious that it required an overall plan and strategy. Second, this was a major foreign policy problem that needed to be addressed immediately. They needed to take action that moment -- covert, military, whatever -- to thwart bin Laden.

The two men told Rice that the United States had human and technical sources, and that all the intelligence was consistent. Black acknowledged that some of it was uncertain "voodoo" but said it was often this voodoo that was the best indicator.

Tenet and Black felt they were not getting though to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies.