Sunday, April 30, 2006

paying for katrina II, the sequel

It's gonna get harder and harder to get insurance for homeowners in the southeastern US. Insurers are pulling out of entire states, leery of exposure to increasing numbers of increasingly powerful Katrina-style hurricanes. Look for federal taxpayers in the sane states (you know, states that actually have state taxes and provide some state services) to subsidize the Trent Lotts of the world as warmer waters continue to generate stronger hurricanes.

Conservatives could make the argument that the free market should provide for insurance, and anti-federal/pro-state conservatives could make the argument that paying for destroyed private homes is not a federal responsibility. But they won't, because they come from states like Mississippi and Georgia that are at increased risk to hurricanes, and have constituents who are unable or unwilling to buy private or Federal insurance. So when Hurricane Zach or whatever comes and sweeps Bug Hollow into the Gulf of Mexico, these same staunch free-market, everybody-must-take-personal-responsibility-for- their-actions conservatives will insist that we use federal (not state!) taxes to make good the losses of the 98% of the good citizens of Bug Hollow whose homes were uninsured. And people in Seattle and Chicago and New York and Los Angeles and Philadelphia will pay.

Look, it's not that I mind helping citizens who have their homes and/or livelihoods wiped out by natural disaster. I don't. I agree it is an appropriate Federal responsibility -- a responsibility, incidentally, that also gives us power to try to weigh the risks and regulate appropriately to lower our collective exposure to loss, for example by banning further development on flood-vulnerable barrier islands and refusing to allow people to rebuild on them when homes are wiped out.

What I don't like is the rank hypocrisy of the typical conservative, usually Republican legislator who bitches and moans about Federal taxes and whinges and whines about how the Federal government shouldn't interfere and shouldn't give money to freeloaders and should give the states more responsibility, but IMMEDIATELY nuzzles up to the Federal teat as soon as something goes wrong for HIS non-insurance-buying constituents. I also don't like the typical conservative's constant quest for corporate subsidies but that's a different topic...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

sad news about celebs

I can't say I'm surprised by reports that former LA Dodgers/NY Yankees/etc relief ace Steve Howe died in a truck wreck at age 48. No toxicology reports yet, but the smart money has to be that his blood will test positive for alcohol, cocaine, or something intoxicating. Howe was the poster-child for a wasted career and the problems of dealing with addictions.

Back in 1970 or so I doubt you would have gotten many takers on a bet that Rolling Stone Keith Richards would still be alive and functioning in 2006. Richards had a weird accident of his own -- he got a concussion when he fell out of a tree at a resort in Fiji. The 62-year-old Richards is now at a hospital in New Zealand. Apparently, he's okay.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

nfl draft ... i feel a yawn coming on

Michael Wilbon speaks for me about the NFL draft. It's a big fat boring waste of time with far, far too much attention paid to picks and selections. Remember, we really DON'T know how these guys will pan out, and deep down inside, NEITHER DO THE TEAMS PICKING THEM. But it's great advertising for the NFL and Mel Kiper and great programming for ESPN, so expect it to continue. But without me, and I'm guessing without Wilbon, too.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

worst president in history?

Historian Sean Wilentz assesses de facto President George Bush as perhaps the worst president in history in the latest Rolling Stone.

Wilentz makes a good case on Bush's domestic policy alone, which has been nothing but tax cuts and more tax cuts -- in other words, voodoo economics. All that's done is wipe out the federal surplus and given us a great big deficit while giving money to the rich so they can buy a third summer home or a more expensive yacht, and a Hummer to tow it.

And then there is Iraq and the rest of Bush's foreign policy, which is likely to get worse if he attacks Iran...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

drug companies against us

Big name pharmaceuticals have paid generic manufacturers to NOT make generic versions of their drugs when patents have expired -- and now are doing it again??

The winners? The small manufacturers make money for doing nothing. The big drug companies get to keep charging monopolistic prices for drugs even after patents are expired.

The losers? Anybody who has to pay for the drugs -- insurance companies and ESPECIALLY patients.

This is collusion, anti-market collusion, pure and simple. And it's another point of proof to demonstrate that contrary to GOP theology, the market left to itself will NOT necessarily produce an Adam-Smith's-Invisible-Hand like free market.

Monday, April 24, 2006

schlesinger is losing it

I have the sad duty to report that respected historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr has lost his mind. My proof? In his op-ed piece in the Post today about what Bush might do in the 1000 days that remain in his de facto presidency, Schlesinger let drop the following: "Maybe President Bush, who seems a humane man, might be moved by daily sorrows of death and destruction to forgo solo preventive war and return to cooperation with other countries in the interest of collective security."

A "humane man"???? Remember, this is the guy who as Governor of Texas made fun of Karla Fay Tucker's plea to be spared execution. This is a guy who sticks people with often-cruel nicknames. This guy is the living embodiment of the "let-them-eat-cake" attitude current among a significant chunk of the elite conservative classes in America. This is a guy who has approved state-administered torture.

George W. Bush is many things. But humane isn't one of them.

don't mess with chimps

From the wire service roundup in the Post today:
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -- A group of chimpanzees attacked and killed a Sierra Leonean driver and injured two American visitors and a Canadian at a wildlife sanctuary in the West African nation, a police spokesman said.
Memo to anybody out there who still thinks keeping a chimp at home as a pet is a good idea: You are a moron.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

why does the dea hate sick people?

The Drug Enforcement Agency and anti-drug crusaders on Capitol Hill were the impetus behind the recent "study" by the Food and Drug Administration which purported to repudiate several medical studies demonstrating the medical properties of marijuana. Today there is an interesting Post article about a pain-management doctor and the DEA's fanaticism, this time aimed at opium-based painkillers like OxyContin.

The DEA is prosecuting doctors for prescribing OxyContin and similar pain-killers too freely, alleging that the doctors are not killing pain, but are feeding recreational drug habits.

Hey, I know there are medical professionals who are crooked, who abuse drugs or who sell them to people who aren't entitled to them. I once knew a nurse who lost her job because she had become addicted to painkillers and was looting the hospital pharmacy. But some of the DEA prosecutions are based on cases of clerical errors, not criminal action. And the DEA's campaign has had a chilling effect, making some doctors reluctant to prescribe certain powerful painkillers in large quantities for fear of attracting Federal attention of a most unwelcome sort.

The DEA's over-reaction to the problem is absurd -- just as the DEA and Congress' over-reaction to ALL illegal drug abuse is hysterical and over-the-top. In the case of hard-core painkillers, well there really ARE people who are gravely ill or badly injured and are in terrible pain. What kind of society denies relief to these people in the name of fighting drug abuse? Give these people the painkillers they need. If their cases are terminal, it is an act of mercy. If they recover, well then dealing with getting them off of an addiction will just have to be a step in their recovery.

Look, I am completely in favor of strictly regulating the use of powerful painkillers and other medicines that could be abused -- that's fine. But we need to introduce an element of sanity into the equation.

And we should treat recreational drugs the same way. Tax them, regulate them, and treat addicts with compassion. Keep room in our prisons for murderers, rapists, corrupt Administration officials, and Enron-style corporate looters. Set free the pot-smokers and people addicted to OxyContin after a motorcycle accident.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

leak leak

Guess it's a good thing that de facto Secretary of State Rice denies (through a spokesman) leaking national defense related information to AIPAC lobbyists. Because if she denies it, surely it's true. After all, we wouldn't want her to be fired like that professional at the CIA was.

But of course, even if Condi HAD leaked, it was quite different I'm sure. After all, the CIA person probably had malicious thoughts in mind about exposing criminal activity within the US government. Exposing wrongdoing is just plain wrong. But if you leak classified information with the intent of advancing a partisan political effort -- you know, the way the White House has to smear Joe Wilson's wife -- well, that's OK. Karl Rove says it is.

Friday, April 21, 2006

no pot is good pot

Another salvo in the Republican war on science. This time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it can find no convincing evidence that marijuana has any therepeutic benefits, directly contradicting some studies by highly regarded scientists to the contrary.

The reason behind this new scientific finding? Simply that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been pushing FDA to support it in its ongoing battle against the weed. DEA thinks the medical marijuana movement is nothing but a front for a legalization attempt.

That doesn't mean you should ignore the science; conveniently, DEA has made it nearly impossible to conduct additional scientific research by denying would-be researchers license to grow their own, instead forcing them to rely on the low-quality stuff grown on the Federal pot farm in Mississippi. Another example of science being twisted in the service of ideology.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

that's entertainment

So for some reason I had the TV on this morning when China's President Hu arrived at the White House. I listened to de facto President Bush drone on in his welcome. He pronounced "Darfur" as "Daafaa", "peninsula" as "panenshular" (sounded like he was sounding that one out phonetically, like a third-grader seeing the word for the first time, only less skillfully), and kept on calling Hu's wife "Madam Leeyuu" when her name is something more like "Lao".

Then Hu began his comments. After a little bit of his droning, a loud screeching sound began. I thought somebody was being murdered. But then CNN's cameras swung over to the press area, and focused on a Chinese lady. She was yelling something, first in Chinese and then switching to English, yelling "President Bush, stop him." It must have taken three minutes for security guards to get over there and escort her out. Very embarrassing, but it livened up a dull event. That's entertainment.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

neil young's rock and roll fantasy

I knew I liked Neil Young. He's giving us another reason, the old protester who penned "Ohio" after the Guard killed those Vietnam War protesters at Kent State is now calling for the impeachment of de facto President Bush in a song coming up soon in an album to be called "Living with War."

Young's vision of Bush being impeached has no chance in hell of being realized, but it is at least a pleasant fantasy. Kind of like the fantasy I have about Dick Cheney and the entire House Republican delegation being flushed out of a cage into an open field where Big Bird, Tweety, the mascots for the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, and other large avians start blasting at them with shotguns at short range to celebrate the culture of hunting.

what could have been, again

Once again, we can compare and contrast the person who SHOULD be president with the one that is, this time in a Richard Cohen column. Cohen extolls Gore's eloquence and his comfort with science (contrasting to Bush's anti-scientific attitudes), and agrees climate change is a critical issue that isn't being addressed by the de facto Bush/Cheney Big Oil Administration.

Too bad Cohen and others were focused on lies and urban legends about Al Gore back in 2000, instead of on competence and the issues at hand. Even WITH the media's character assassination campaign against Gore, he won the popular vote, nationwide AND (if it had been allowed) in Florida, hence the election. If Cohen and his buddies had covered it fairly, Gore would have won in a landslide that Bush's Supreme Court buddies couldn't reverse...

We would have still been attacked (probably) on 9/11, but we WOULDN'T be in Iraq and we WOULDN'T have the beginnings of a compassionate conservative police state, and we'd at least have a leadership willing to try something to keep climate change from being as bad as it could be, instead of fiddling Nero-style.

Monday, April 17, 2006

don't fear the rummy

Retired Air Force General and pal of the de facto Bush Administration Richard Myers denies that Rumsfeld intimidated the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

However, Myers turned pale and ducked under the podium when a journalist pointed behind him and said, "Look, is that Rummy?"

if you're an angry voter now...

Angry voters statistically are more likely to vote, which may help the Democrats this fall. On the other hand, de facto President Bush appears ready to attack Iran sometime soon -- before November, according to counterterror expert Larry Johnson.

Will that help Bush, by reviving the "wartime president" bullshit that the Republicans used so skillfully in 2002 to defeat "soft on terror" Democrats like Senator Max Cleland? Or will it HURT them after a few thousand Americans are killed in terrorist reprisals and people realize again that half-cocked attacks in the Middle East aren't necessarily a wise policy?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

more links between lonely jack abramoff and the white house

Although every Republican in Washington claims never to have met Jack Abramoff, he was of course intricately connected into the GOP power structure before his more-unsavory-than-usual practices came to light. Here the Post shows more links, this time between Lonely Jack and David Safavian, at the time the newly-appointed chief of staff of the General Services Administration, and currently under arrest for corruption. GSA does a lot of management and property work for the federal government. Not glamorous, but lots of opportunities for graft and sweetheart contracts.

And Lonely Jack didn't wait long to contact his good buddy Safavian to see if he could horn in on some action. He asked about getting contracts, he asked about overturning a career government employee who was impeding Lonely Jack on some deal, and (although not in this article) he asked about buying some federal land for a school. And Jack asked that his name not be mentioned in these various connections -- in emails he was sending.

Remember, boys and girls -- if you plan a crime or anything you don't want to come to light, don't email the details around. They will bite you in the butt.

green says, go nuclear

Although a liberal, I've always been pro-nuclear power, even before I'd ever heard of global climate change or excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Now Greens like Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore are becoming convinced.

Yes, nuclear power is imperfect. Yes, an accident could kill thousands. But as Moore points out, Three Mile Island showed how a well-designed plant can keep an accident from becoming a catastrophe -- nothing leaked. And a medium-case global climate change scenario would be worse for the planet than even a Chernobyl-sized accident.

Again, I don't know if we can stop climate change. But we should at least try. Nuclear power needs to be a major component of such an effort.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

more good news from iraq

If blood and gore bother you, don't look here for some photographs of the good news going on in Iraq. The de facto Administration and Republican political operatives (sorry for being redundant) bitch about the media only reporting good news, but in fact the media is SANITIZING the war in Iraq by refusing to show such images. As Juan Cole points out, this sort of image airs routinely on news in the Arab world and in other countries. But we don't see them.

international odds and ends

Did you know that in addition to Aceh (where a peace deal seems to be holding) and East Timor (which did win its independence a few years ago), there is another separatist movement in Indonesia, this time for the province of Papua, on the western half of the big island of New Guinea? Well, there is. They don't like being part of Indonesia, in part because they are mostly Christian and most of the rest of Indonesia is Muslim, and also because of human rights abuses and the sense (not entirely inaccurate) that Indonesia's rulers only care about Papua's huge gold reserves and other mineral resources, not about the Papuans. Some enterprising Papuans crossed the open water and reached Australia where they were granted political refugee status, and the Indonesians aren't happy.

Now, don't confuse Papua with Papua-New Guinea, the independent country on the eastern half of New Guinea (with some nearby islands), which has over 700 languages spoken there.

Go Away, Berlusconi
Italian leader and corporate crook Silvio Berlusconi won't go away. His party lost by 25,000 votes (out of 38 million), an Italian court has ruled that only 5000 ballots are being reviewed, so reversing his defeat is practically impossible. But he still won't concede.

One reason is probably he fears being tried anew for corruption if he no longer runs the Italian government. Berlusconi, go away.

Chad, Revolution, Corruption
By Chad, I mean the country in central Africa, not your neighbor's alcoholic cousin. Seems they have a little rebellion going on there, rebel soldiers approaching the capital. Why should we care?

Well, they are an oil producer. Yes, I know, it is shocking to imagine an oil-producing country with political instability or human rights problems. I mean, look at those paragons of good governance like Saudi Arabia and Iran and Nigeria and Venezuela and Equatorial Guinea and Texas.

But anyway, Chad has problems and now its government is threatening to cut off its oil exports unless the World Bank releases $125 million of its money that has been frozen in a dispute about how Chad spends its petrodollars. World Bank says, spend on Chad's citizens and infrastructure. Chad government prefers to spend on weapons and Mercedes-Benzes.

Chad really isn't a big enough producer that this would in itself significantly disrupt world markets. But it's interesting to watch anyway. More interesting than your neighbor's alcoholic cousin, Chad.

good grief, good friday means no baseball?

Ok, I don't get this. WNEP-16, a "news"-oriented TV station/ABC affiliate in beautiful Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, yesterday refused to televise the home opener for the local minor league baseball team, the clumsily-named Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.

The reason? It was Good Friday, and WNEP president and general manager Lou Kirchen said "Good Friday is not an appropriate day for us to do that" (i.e., air a baseball game). The Red Barons' general manager Jeremy Ruby was OK with the decision, noting that "We were getting pressure from the Catholic community, and that's understandable."

No, it is NOT understandable. Since when does the "Catholic community" get to say whether or not a sports event is aired on a Catholic holy day? Who the hell is the "Catholic community" of north-eastern Pennsylvania to say that a baseball game shouldn't be televised because it's Good Friday?

Really, this is absurd. Was there any other sporting event anywhere else on the PLANET that wasn't televised because it was Good Friday?

So what's next? Maybe the morons at WNEP and the "Catholic community" of NE Pennsylvania would like to ban all sports casts on Easter Sunday. And Christmas Day. And then on all Sundays. And for all forty days of Lent.

An aside -- I wonder precisely who comprise the "Catholic community" of NE Pennsylvania that Ruby referred to? I really doubt it was representative of most Catholics, who are perfectly capable of avoiding a baseball TV game on Good Friday if they think the day is too somber for such frivolities. The "Catholic community" Ruby cited is probably a half-dozen irate old geezers with too much time on their hands, who think Catholic League generalissimo William Donohue is lax in protecting Catholics from the evil influences of modern godless society.

Oh, and what did the pious prigs at WNEP air instead of the unwholesome baseball game? Some local news. An episode of the Hollywood-worshipping scandal-mongering TV tabloid "Inside Edition." An hour of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." And then, "Primetime" with Diane Sawyer interviewing that thetan-hating, Matt Lauer-bashing moron Tom Cruise -- who explained how his pregnant fiancee-zombie Katie Holmes had renounced Catholicism for L. Ron Hubbard's profit-making space-alien cult Scientology.

So, "Catholic community" of NE Pennsylvania, was ANY of that better or more "somber" than letting WNEP air a bunch of young guys play a little baseball? And how do you feel about WNEP broadcasting an episode of "Desperate Housewives" on Easter Sunday, as currently scheduled?

Friday, April 14, 2006

dirty tricks

I know this might surprise you, but there is more evidence of lies and dirty tricks by Republican political hacks. Remember the phone jamming operation they did in New Hampshire in 2002 to paralyze the campaign of the democratic Senate candidate? Well, seems the Republican "consultant" James Tobin who came up with the scam (and who was then Bush/Cheney's New England boss in 2004) made many, many calls to the White Hous (Karl Rove's extension, no doubt)... AND despite pious disclaimers of any knowledge of Tobin's dirty tricks, the GOP is "voluntarily" paying his legal bills, $2.5 million and counting.

Really, this is beneath the Republicans. Why resort to such cheap and underhanded tactics, when you can stick to the tried-and-trued method of jiggering the electronic voting machines -- manufactured by your supporters -- in your favor?

white flight

Now this is ironic. Conservative GOP Lieutenant Governor and wannabe Senate candidate Michael Steele of Maryland might lose some core Republican support because he's black and his Democratic opponent is white.

Gosh, fancy that -- a political party that created and used the frankly racist "southern strategy" of appealing to southern whites who didn't like the (northern and midwestern and western) Democrats' support for civil rights now find its own (rare) black candidates suffering for its cynical use of racism.

Unfortunately, white Democratic voters are also more likely to vote Republican when their candidate is black and the GOP one white...

dumb idea

Joe Lieberman, if you're reading this, DON'T agree to David Ignatius' stupid idea and take over as Secretary of Defense should de facto President Bush offer you the job.

Remember, Iraq is a REPUBLICAN war, and a REPUBLICAN screw-up. Leave it that way. THEY got us into it, and THEY get two more years to decide how to get us out of it. Don't make it any easier for them to peg the blame on Democrats.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

ignatius & brzezinski on iran

In David Ignatius' column he worries that the current Iran situation is more analagous to 1914 than the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. His last three paras are worth repeating:
Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, makes a similar argument about Iran. "I think of war with Iran as the ending of America's present role in the world," he told me this week. "Iraq may have been a preview of that, but it's still redeemable if we get out fast. In a war with Iran, we'll get dragged down for 20 or 30 years. The world will condemn us. We will lose our position in the world."

Brzezinski urges President Bush to slow down and think carefully about his options -- rather than rushing to stop Iran's nuclear program, which by most estimates is five to 10 years away from building a bomb, even after yesterday's announcement. "Time is on our side," says Brzezinski. "The mullahs aren't the future of Iran, they're the past." As the United States carefully weighs its options, there is every likelihood that the strategic picture will improve.

The Bush administration has demonstrated, in too many ways, that it's better at starting fights than finishing them. It shouldn't make that same mistake again. Threats of war will be more convincing if they come slowly and reluctantly, when it has become clear that truly there is no other choice.
Good advice. No reason to expect they will take it. As Paul Krugman pointed out in his (behind-the-New York Times-firewall) recent column, people said that Bush wouldn't be stupid/reckless enough to attack Iraq. And we were wrong then. This time, if possible, the damage to the US will be even WORSE, in the Islamic world, in the world at large, possibly to our economy, and almost certainly in terms of dead Americans that will be killed by irate Shiites in Iraq, not to mention by Iran's terrorist cells, who will have nothing to lose.

the biggest sand toilets in the world

US & British experts confirm -- those "mobile biological labs" weren't anything connected to chem or bio weapons. One expert called them "the biggest sand toilets in the world."

However, I have it on good authority that they were, in fact, an innovative service -- a combination Meals-on-Wheels and Mobile Library for rural Iraqis starved for physical and intellectual sustenance. That explains the equipment and the books. The fermenters? Well, lets just say that Abdul had a little drinking problem.

But despite contrary views and significant dissent in intelligence circles, the Administration used this in Colin Powell's infamous UN presentation "proving" our case that Iraq had WMD.

The experts say it only took four hours, once they got to the site about three years ago, to determine these were not weapons labs but were to make hydrogen for balloons. But the Bushistas still claimed 50 days later that they had "found" WMDs in these mobile labs... and didn't make the reports public.

Never let the truth get in the way of a political gain.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

hope hersh is wrong

Please let Seymour Hersh be wrong. Please let de facto President Bush NOT be determined to attack Iran. Please let him NOT be serious about using "small" nuclear weapons to try to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities.

The koolaid drinking true-believer whackos that Hersh quotes say that if Iran gets nukes, they'll start a world war. No they won't. They'll still be outnumbered and outgunned. What they'd have is some deterrence, but Iran is not going to go off hell-bent for conquest like Hitler (a name Hersh says is being bandied about the White House in discussing Iran).

And Bush sees "saving Iran" as his legacy... we'll save it by BOMBING IT? By NUKING IT? Please protect us from religious zealots who think God has pave the way for their actions ... I meant Bush, not the Iranians. A House member Hersh spoke to has has similar concerns: “The most worrisome thing is that this guy (Bush) has a messianic vision.”

Also from Hersh:
One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”
My question exactly. Bombing Iran would RALLY the Iranian people AROUND this reactionary nutcase Ahmadinejad, not make them want to overthrow him. It will set the Iranian opposition back twenty years -- those not killed by US bombs, that is.

So why did the people in the Pentagon and elsewhere who are worried about Bush's possible plan to attack speak to Hersh for this article? Trying to alert the world in order to create a reaction that would stop Bush? Well, that didn't work LAST time, did it? Bush ignored his father and everybody else before invading Iraq. He thinks God is talking to him. God help us all.

Monday, April 10, 2006

faster, faster

This is harsh -- LA cops ticketed and 82-year-old lady for taking too long to cross the road. It's gonna set the lady back $114. Obviously, this lady doesn't move as quickly as she used to -- but the road she was crossing is five lanes wide and the signal only gives you 20 seconds to get across! Even high school students had to run to make it before the light turned green again.

That's pretty rude, and dangerous. They say nobody walks in LA -- and the fact that it can be DANGEROUS to walk there just reinforces the problem. Because really, wouldn't you rather give this lady a few extra seconds to cross the road than have her behind the wheel?

monday noodling

Specter Has A Question
Concerning the smear campaign against Joe Wilson and the use of leaks of classified information, Arlen Specter asks, What did the President know, and when did he know it? Not quite, he actually said:
I think that there has to be a detailed explanation precisely as to what Vice President Cheney did, what the president said to him, and an explanation from the president as to what he said so that it can be evaluated.
We'd all like to know why they authorized the leak of classified information to smear somebody for political reasons. Heck, that and a blowjob could get a guy impeached.

Frist, to a T
A great quote from Sebastian Mallaby today describing the presidential wannabe from HMO, Tennessee:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a physician who "diagnosed" Terri Schiavo by watching her on video, is as charismatic as a stethoscope and as principled as a cigarette salesman.
Mallaby may be a little unfair to cigarette salesmen. They can be principled on occasion, unlike Skeletor Frist. Although like Frist, the cigarette folks use selective medical diagnoses for personal benefit.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

convenient leakiness

Let me make sure I understand this. Leaks of classified information that you know is discredited in order to slander critics of the de facto Administration who have the temerity to tell the truth are okay. But if information that is accurate and is only classified to protect wrong-doers (for example, the fact that this Administration is engaged in unconstitutional eavesdropping without a warrant) should make it to the press, then we'll call out the dogs and they'll try to nail not only the leakers but the journalists or watchdog groups that receive the leaks.

This is bad stuff. Libby's revelations don't necessarily help his legal case (he still perjured himself) but it certainly reinforces the view of this regime as out of control and convinced that it has some sort of mandate from God to do whatever the hell it likes, laws and the Constitution be damned. Very Nixonian.

And speaking of Nixonian, John Dean writes that at a minimum, Libby's revelations that Darth Cheney did NOT have the authority to declassify the information about Joe Wilson's wife that Cheney told Libby to leak to Judy Miller.

And the "declassification" of the National Intelligence Estimate which Cheney (inaccurately) said proved the Iraq/Niger uranium connection was covered up:
What is apparent, however, based on Fitzgerald's filing, is that no one other than Bush, Cheney, Libby and apparently Addington was aware of this unilateral and selective declassification - if, indeed, the NIE was declassified. The secrecy surely suggests cover-up. For example, Fitzgerald notes that Libby "consciously decided not to make [then Deputy National Security Adviser] Hadley aware of the fact that defendant [Libby] himself had already been disseminating the NIE by leaking it to reporters while Mr. Hadley sought to get it formally declassified." (Also, CIA Director George Tenet apparently was not aware of the partial declassification by Bush.)
Watergate was a scandal about domestic political intrigue, and it was bad. This Administration by contrast makes Nixon look if not quite like an angel, at least like a petty crook rather than the constitutional felon he was.

Worse than Watergate.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

even when not erupting, volcanos are dangerous

What a strange way to die -- asphyxiated by volcanic toxic gas on a ski resort. Three ski patrol members at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California died of the fumes when they fell thru the snow trying to put up a fence to keep people away from an area where volcanic gases routinely vent. Very sad.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

creepy spokesperson

What kind of creeps are they hiring at the Department of Homeland Security? First there was that career official who was having sex with an underage girl recently. Then this guy, Doyle, a political appointee spokesman in DHS' press shop, is arrested while waiting at his computer for A FOURTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL WITH CANCER TO EMAIL HIM NUDE PICTURES OF HERSELF. Wow, how gross.

I don't know much about the guy. But imagine this was (as it should be) the middle of Al Gore's second term, and a Democratic appointee had the same accusations levelled against him. This would be getting 24/7 coverage on Fox and elsewhere and O'Reilly and the rest of his ilk would be accusing ALL Democrats of being perverts who want to hook up with cancer-ridden teenagers...

a fishy sign of evolution?

The Tiktaalik roseae -- a missing link between fish and land animals providing further evidence to reinforce the theory of evolution?

Or yet another example of false proof carefully placed in the rocks by a deceptive God who is intent on fooling us into not believing that He created everything in seven days in exactly their current form, in order to send us to Hell for having insufficient faith?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

sylvester spreading tweety's flu?

Scientists say the role of domesticated cats in spreading avian influenza is unclear, but they CAN be infected and CAN pass it on to fellow felines. Not clear if they can pass it to humans or birds.

This is ANOTHER excellent reason to keep your cat indoors at ALL times. Because this could give a whole new meaning to cat scratch fever.

glimpse into the post-iraq future

There is good news and bad news for our folks in Iraq.

The good news: despite a casualty rate significantly higher than that suffered in Vietnam, the kill rate is lower; many more of our troops are surviving their wounds.

The bad news: many end up with missing limbs and/or significant brain damage NOT to mention psychological harm.

And worse news: despite the admirable efforts of the good professionals and volunteers at Walter Reed and other military hospitals, we should expect Congress, the Pentagon and Veterans Administration to fail to take sufficient care of these people who were injured in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Look for the aging homeless still-in-Saigon Vietnam vets to be joined under American bridges by growing numbers of Iraq still-in-Fallujah vets in a few years. Why? Because the GOP and the de facto Bush Administration doesn't care enough to pay for their care (extra spending might mean smaller tax cuts for the rich, can't have that), and WE don't care enough to hold them responsible.

yeah, terps

I'm not a huge woman's hoops fan, but any time Duke is defeated in an important game, it's a cause for celebration.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

ding dong, delay soon will be gone

Nobody every accused Tom DeLay of being stupid. He saw where the political winds were blowing, and has decided to quit now rather than be defeated in November.

Too bad. I mean, I'm glad to see DeLay out of Congress. But I would have preferred to see him lose in November to add to his humiliation. EVERY Democratic candidate this fall should publish posters of their GOP opponent and Tom DeLay side by side. Better yet, shaking hands if such photos exist. But it would be more effective if DeLay were still in Congress.

Interestingly, under Texas law DeLay has to die, be convicted of a felony, or leave his district to be taken off the ballot. The second is a distinct possibility, and the first has real appeal to a LOT of people, but I guess I assume he'll just legally change his residence from Sugar Land to wherever the heck he lives in the Washington area.

I doubt somehow that DeLay will return to killing bugs for a living. But will a lobbying firm touch him? He'll find some corrupt crony to give him a cushy job that involves little heavy lifting.

jesse jackson's new cause is barry bonds?

Jesse Jackson is complaining now that the police and baseball aren't doing enough to protect that walking bag of flesh, bones, and chemicals commonly known as Barry Bonds. Jackson said that that the fan who threw a syringe near Bonds in San Diego yesterday should have been arrested.

Now, I'm not going to defend people for throwing stuff onto baseball fields. It's dangerous, even if the syringe has no needle (as was true of the San Diego one) and may in fact have been a cooking baster. But baseball won't tolerate things being thrown on the field (the fan got out of there before the cops arrived); Jackson should save his public pronouncements for something more important.

In any case, Bonds has been protected by baseball for years, coddled and tolerated despite his bizarre proportions and unprecedented late-career power surge. Maybe Jackson should address THAT -- Bonds as a piss-poor role model for young men (mostly), doing who knows what long-term damage to his body (not to mention to baseball's reputation) in turn for a short-term benefit.


It's touching -- there are still professionals at the Environmental Protection Agency who still believe the EPA's mandate is to protect the environment. However, their Republican political bosses disagree, and it's not hard to see who'll win this round. More lead and mercury coming to our air and water, courtesy of the business-catering end-of-times de facto Bush Administration.

guess who, rolling stones, kinks, and gas

Motorists are mad over gas prices that average $2.58 nationally. Well, in the immortal words of the Guess Who, "B-b-b-b-baby you just ain't seen nothing yet." Demand for oil is rising both domestically and internationally, reserves are dropping, and to quote the immortal Rolling Stones, gas prices will be "going up up up up up." And up. If we're lucky and take appropriate action, we'll have enough oil for long enough to make a transition to some other sort of energy to keep us well-stocked with Chilean grapes and Chinese t-shirts, and won't have to rue the warning of the immortal Kinks when "a gallon of gas can't be purchased anywhere for any amount of cash."

If not, well it'll be ugly. And ironic if we run out of oil and our Age of Oil civilization collapses AFTER we have burned enough of the stuff to provoke run-away global climate change anyway.

katie couric... who cares?

Katie Couric plans to dump NBC, leap into CBS's arms and take over their nightly news anchor slot. Page one news! But ... why? This isn't 1966. There are lots of other news sources. Far fewer Americans watching the network evening news broadcasts, and THOSE people are on average about 85 years old judging from the commercials. Really, why is a decision on who will read the news popping up on page 1 of the Washington Post?

Monday, April 03, 2006


I'm conflicted on the whole immigration thing. But Molly Ivins makes some good points... Specifically, if you want to STOP illegal immigration,
"... here is how to do it: Find an illegal worker at a large corporation. This is not difficult -- brooms and mops are big tip-offs. Then put the CEO of that corporation in prison for two or more years for violating the law against hiring illegal workers.

Got it? You can also imprison the corporate official who actually hired the illegal and, just to make sure, put some Betty Sue Billups -- housewife, preferably one with blonde hair in a flip -- in the joint for a two-year stretch for hiring a Mexican gardener.

Thus Americans are reminded that the law says it is illegal to hire illegal workers and that anyone who hires one is responsible for verifying whether or not his or her papers are in order. If you get fooled and one slips by you, too bad, you go to jail anyway. When there are no jobs for illegal workers, they do not come. Got it?"
Won't happen, though. Allowing illegal immigration is a way for owners of businesses that can't be outsourced to India (for example, restaurant or construction work) to drive down wages by hiring illegals.

Just as is being done in chicken processing plants in Gainesville, Georgia, where despite the complaints of some locals, winks and nods take the place of actually enforcing immigration/work laws.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

are these scientists nuts?

Scientists at PrimeGen Biotech (don't you hate these biotech companies' names?) have apparently transformed cells from testicles into stem cells. After the South Korean scandal, this will be peer-reviewed pretty thoroughly, but if it can be reproduced, this could be a way to create stem cells for medical research without offending the God Squad in the United Red States of America.

Unless they decide that every testicle cell is sacred, every testicle cell is great, if a testicle cell is wasted, God gets quite irate...

god's own party, indeed

Former GOP activist turned Republican scold Kevin Phillips writes that the GOP has become the first national religious party in American history. Phillips is concerned about the intersection of Big Oil and its coal allies, evangelical Christianity, anti-scientific flat-worlders, and Bush family dynastic power politics and the insidious effect it has on the country. Not to mention concern that the de facto Bush Administration is cozying up to end-times theologians and other whackos whose interests in Middle East geopolitics may be more inclined to PROVOKE Armageddon than to avoid conflagration.

Worth a read. Phillips also has a new book out expanding on these themes called "American Theology." Haven't read it yet, but when I feel like getting good and depressed, I will.

annoying white guy kills off dead white guy university

George Mason's run ended yesterday, mostly due to Lee Humphrey's dead-eye shooting from three in the second half. A great tournament and season for the George Mason Patriots, and a nice boost for the Colonial Athletic Association. I have no illusions this will change recruiting dramatically -- the best players will continue to go to Big 10, SEC, ACC, Big East, Pac 10, Big 12 schools.

But I hope that in future years as the NCAA committee is deciding between say a 19-11 ACC team that finishes seventh in the conference, and a good mid-major like say Butler that finishes 25-5 but loses in the conference tournament, the benefit of the doubt won't simply default to the power conference team. Billy Packer notwithstanding, some of those teams are pretty damn good, and deserve a shot. Will a mid-major win? Probably not. But how often do these marginal ACC or Big East teams win the tournament? Not since the 1980s, and not since the tournament went to 64 teams.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

watch what you say in emails, and who you send them to; or, another nail in the coffin of the first amendment

I think this is outrageous -- ABC News suspends the executive producer of the weekend version of "Good Morning America" because of what he said about de facto President George W. Bush, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- in PRIVATE EMAILS. Some "friend" of John Green provided these emails, one to the Drudge Report, the other to the New York Post's gossip column.

Green said unflattering things about Bush or Albright -- but SO WHAT? These were private emails. Surely even ABC News employees retain the right to express private opinions in a private communication? John Green is being screwed and the White House's ongoing anti-media intimidation tactics (surely you don't think this is about the former Cabinet official from the party that is out of power?) have claimed another head, and sent yet ANOTHER warning signal to the Fourth Estate. It's bad enough to publish criticisms or bad news (true or not), or to say the same on the TV or radio -- but now they'll try to even nail people for negative opinions expressed in private. They are eviscerating the first amendment. And we're letting them.