Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

If this is true....

my opinion of the late Pope John Paul II has gone up a notch or two. According to this article from 2003, John Paul II was seriously considering the possibility that George W. Bush was the anti-Christ:

According to freelance journalist Wayne Madsden, "George W Bush's blood lust, his repeated commitment to Christian beliefs and his constant references to 'evil doers,' in the eyes of many devout Catholic leaders, bear all the hallmarks of the one warned about in the Book of Revelations--the anti-Christ."

Madsen, a Washington-based writer and columnist, who often writes for Counterpunch, says that people close to the pope claim that amid these concerns, the pontiff wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations. John Paul II has always believed the world was on the precipice of the final confrontation between Good and Evil as foretold in the New Testament.
Of course, it was a mistake to identify Bush with the anti-Christ, inasmuch as that concept is part of a mythological world view. But it's good to know that the late Pope could occasionally recognize evil when he saw it.

Len on 11.30.05 @ 08:23 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Never Underestimate the Power of Makeup.

Yes, the Memphis Flyer is a liberal publication. How'd you guess?


Len on 11.30.05 @ 08:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's 'weird music' post....

Via an interesting Slate retrospective on Billy Joel, we get this pointer to a reggae version of Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" (Windows Media Player required).

As author Jody Rosen puts it, this track is "perhaps the whitest reggae track ever recorded."

Len on 11.30.05 @ 08:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

An excellent analysis of our prospects in Iraq....

appeared a while ago in The Forward, a New York based Jewish daily:Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War. The author is Martin Van Crevald, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University. And from his vantage point, the picture isn't pretty:

Whereas North Vietnam at least had a government with which it was possible to arrange a cease-fire, in Iraq the opponent consists of shadowy groups of terrorists with no central organization or command authority. And whereas in the early 1970s equipment was still relatively plentiful, today's armed forces are the products of a technology-driven revolution in military affairs. Whether that revolution has contributed to anything besides America's national debt is open to debate. What is beyond question, though, is that the new weapons are so few and so expensive that even the world's largest and richest power can afford only to field a relative handful of them.

Therefore, simply abandoning equipment or handing it over to the Iraqis, as was done in Vietnam, is simply not an option. And even if it were, the new Iraqi army is by all accounts much weaker, less skilled, less cohesive and less loyal to its government than even the South Vietnamese army was. For all intents and purposes, Washington might just as well hand over its weapons directly to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Clearly, then, the thing to do is to forget about face-saving and conduct a classic withdrawal.

Handing over their bases or demolishing them if necessary, American forces will have to fall back on Baghdad. From Baghdad they will have to make their way to the southern port city of Basra, and from there back to Kuwait, where the whole misguided adventure began. When Prime Minister Ehud Barak pulled Israel out of Lebanon in 2000, the military was able to carry out the operation in a single night without incurring any casualties. That, however, is not how things will happen in Iraq.

Not only are American forces perhaps 30 times larger, but so is the country they have to traverse. A withdrawal probably will require several months and incur a sizable number of casualties. As the pullout proceeds, Iraq almost certainly will sink into an all-out civil war from which it will take the country a long time to emerge — if, indeed, it can do so at all. All this is inevitable and will take place whether George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice like it or not.
And, I have to say, I'm in full agreement with Professor Van Crevald's final conclusion:
For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins.

Len on 11.30.05 @ 12:19 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Josh Marshall exposes the Rethugnican talking point for the lie it is....

over at Talking Points Memo:

There is one Democratic member of Congress who is currently the target of a Justice Department investigation, Rep. William Jefferson of New Orleans. There are also various Democrats who received money from Jack Abramoff or his many clients.

But let's get real. The Abramoff story is overwhelmingly a
Republican scandal. Abramoff's whole racket was as a paymaster and slush-funder for the DC GOP machine.

Then there are the half-a-dozen Republican members of Congress being investigated for
criminal infractions arising out of the Abramoff investigation. Then there are all their staffers.

Then there is Abramoff-Norquist associate David Safavian, chief of procurement at OMB who was arrested and indicted for deceiving investigators in the Abramoff case.

Then there are the GOP capos who skimmed money off the Abramoff geyser or laundered money for him, folks like Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed.

The Duke Cunningham scandal is a Republican scandal, which we'll soon see spreads into the Rumsfeld Defense Department.

The Abramoff scandal tracks into the Interior Department and the GSA.

Then there's Tom DeLay, remember him, former House Majority Leader, now under indictment in Texas. Set aside that he's also implicated in the Abramoff scandal and quite probably the Duke Cunningham scandal as well.

And then in the other body you've got Sen. Bill Frist who is at the center of a criminal investigation into his stock sales. Frist is actually sort of unique in that it's possible he may not be guilty.

Two Republican members of Congress are under indictment.

Prosecutors have already accused two of taking bribes.

These few examples only scratch the surface. And I've left aside the Fitzgerald investigation because it doesn't turn on money but pure old-fashioned abuse of power.

Yet, Republican media types have been leaning hard yesterday and today on reporters to push the
bipartisan corruption line, even though the simple facts of the case simply give no basis for it whatsoever.

It's actually close to laughable.

The simple truth is that Democrats in Washington today just aren't in a position to be corrupt on any serious scale for a simple reason: public corruption is almost always about
selling power. Got no power and you've just got nothing to sell. Any idiot can understand that.

The level of public corruption coming to the surface in Washington today is not unprecedented. But there's a pretty good argument that you have to go back more than a hundred years to find anything comparable. And it's almost entirely limited to one party, the Republican party, because it all grows out of the same political machine.

But Republicans are pushing their line. And lots of reporters,
not wanting trouble, are doing their best to comply.

Len on 11.30.05 @ 12:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Nostalgia corner....

Over at Pretty War STL, proprietor Tom graces us with some pictures Bellerive Park in the Carondelet neighborhood of South St. Louis. A lovely little park overlooking the Mississippi River, Bellerive was a favorite destination for some of my high school buddies and me when we were out gadding about South St. Louis. Check out the pictures, especially of the river view.

Len on 11.30.05 @ 11:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Maureen...We Missed ya....

Today GEM quote comes from Maureen Dowd's latest bit in the NY Times:

"...Things had been going so smoothly. The global torture franchise was up and running. Halliburton contracts were flowing. Tax cuts were sailing through. Oil companies were raking it in. Alaska drilling was thrillingly close. The courts were defending his executive privilege on energy policy, and people were still buying all that smoke about Saddam's being responsible for 9/11, and that drivel about how we're fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here. Everything was groovy.

But not anymore. Cheney could not believe that Karl had made him go out and call that loudmouth Jack Murtha a patriot. He was sure the Pentagon generals had put the congressman up to calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. Is the military brass getting in touch with its pacifist side? In Wyoming, Vice shoots doves.

How dare Murtha suggest that Cheney dodged and dodged and dodged and dodged and dodged the draft? Murtha thinks he knows about war just because he served in one and was a marine for 37 years? Vice started his own war. Now that's a credential!

It always goes this way with the cut-and-run crowd. First they start nitpicking the war, complaining about little things like the lack of armor for the troops. Then they complain that there aren't enough troops. Well, that would just require more armor that we don't have. Then they kvetch about using incendiary weapons in a city like Falluja. Vice likes the smell of white phosphorus in the morning.

What really enrages him is all the Republicans in the Senate making noises about timetables. Before you know it, it's going to be helicopters on the rooftop at the Baghdad embassy.

Just because Junior's approval ratings are in the 30's, people around here are going all wobbly. Vice was 10 points lower and he wasn't worried. Numbers are for sissies..."

And just CAN'T wait to see the "Super-Secret Classified Plans for an Iraqi Victory" we've all been laboring under behind the scenes these past couple of years.

It's just Got to be a Jim-Dandy PLAN as WE all KNOW how well it's been working up til now. Do we get any Chocolates and Flowers with that Freedom Party this time??? (Dick-Yourself...yer such a TEASE.)


Karen on 11.30.05 @ 08:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today: arguably the most significant date in the history of American literature....

Today is the 170th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a/k/a Mark Twain. In honor of this momentous day, go read some Twain. If you can't think of anything, here's a link to one of my favorites; I consider this to be one of the two funniest short pieces Twain ever wrote: "The Awful German Language". [DISCLAIMER: one of the reasons that I think that "The Awful German Language" is so hilarious is that I studied German as my college language; that familiarity helps, I'm sure.]

The other one of the two funniest short pieces Twain ever wrote (IMHO) is "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses". So as long as we're talking (and, I hope, reading) Twain, go give that one a read. I'll be here when you get back.

And if any of this has piqued your curiosity about Twain, go scratch that itch at the Hannibal (MO) Courier-Post's Mark Twain page. As a native and long time resident of St. Louis (before my relocation to Memphis), I'm fairly familiar with Hannibal, which is a short trip north of St. Louis along the Great River Road. If you ever find yourself visiting the St. Louis area, consider making the trip to Hannibal; it's worth the time. And if you're a die-hard Twain fan, consider visiting The Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site near Florida, MO (unfortunately, the cabin was moved from its original location in the village of Florida, though a Missouri red granite monument marks the original location of the cabin on the day Twain was born). The Twain Birthplace Historic Site includes a museum devoted to Twain (the cabin is preserved within the larger museum building) which is highly informative.

Ever since I first read it, I'm convinced that The Great American Novel has already been written, and it is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. So if you're a budding novelist trying to write TGAN, just give it up (give up your pretension that you're going to write TGAN, that is; don't give up on your novel. It doesn't have to be the best ever written to be worth writing).

Len on 11.30.05 @ 07:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Q: Now that President Bush seems to have lost (at least temporarily) his political mojo, does that make him easier or harder to satirize?

A: It's long been said that the job of commentators is to come down out of the hills after a battle and shoot the wounded. So there's some of that blood-lust that affects us all. Also, there's no telling what new harm Bush might do if he ever gets back up off the mat. You have to keep your knee on his windpipe until the danger is past.
--G.B. Trudeau [Hartford
Courant interview]

Len on 11.30.05 @ 06:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The blogger formerly known as South Knox Bubba....

has a couple interesting posts up at Facing South.

In Student newspaper confiscated at Tennessee high school, SKB tells us of the confiscation of the student newspaper at Oak Ridge High School. The reason? The paper had the temerity to publish an article about birth control, including such "news you can use" as the success rates for different contraceptive methods, and the places at which contraceptives could be found locally. SKB also gets off some trenchant observations:

Setting aside the debate as to whether birth control is an appropriate topic for a high school student newspaper, it's sad that the "abstinence only" crowd has driven these students to seek out the information on their own and share it with their classmates. Good for them.

What's amusing, though, is what the school administration has accomplished by this. Now the school and its backward policies are in the national spotlight, the kids are all talking about sex and birth control, and bonus, they got an unintended lesson in the First Amendment, censorship, and standing up for your rights. I believe the right-wing pundit term for it is "useful idiots."

OK, then.

(P.S. Way back in ancient times when I was going to high school, whenever something like this happened it spawned another hippie underground school paper. Nowadays I guess it spawns a hundred new blogs.)
And in Associated Press looks South, he reviews a set of stories which ran over the AP wire recently dealing with the South and developments in the area. That post spawned an interesting comment from "Andy", a frequent commentor there:
Tennessee alone would be a good character study in music.

Going from Bristol through Nashville on to Memphis, you'd get everything from folk (Jimmie Rodgers) to bluegrass (Bill Monroe) to country (Hank Williams) to R&B (Otis Redding) to soul (Isaac Hayes) to rock (Elvis Presley) to the roots of "alternative" (Big Star).

OK, so Memphis gets a lot of the credit. But damn, there's been a lot of music history hereabouts.
There's a reason that I-40 from Memphis to Nashville is dubbed "The Music Highway", and Andy points out that there's a damn good reason for extending that name to the entire stretch of highway from Memphis to Bristol.

Len on 11.29.05 @ 08:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sometimes, one's past comes back to haunt one.... in the strangest places!

Doing my daily round of my blogroll I made my usual visit of the always interesting Main and Central (a blog by a group of veterans and dealing with military and veterans' concerns), when I came across a reference to one of my more interesting legal cases. In a post advocating that former Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (corrupt R-CA) be court martialed for his malfeasance in office, Main and Central blogger Terry Welch (a/k/a Nitpicker) made reference to the case of United States v. Clifford M. Overton, 24 M.J. 309 (USCMA, 1987) in support of the view that Cunningham is subject to court martial jurisdiction.

Cunningham, as you may be aware, is a retired Naval officer, a highly decorated (Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, 15 Air Medals, and the Purple Heart) Naval aviator (who, I have heard, claims that the character of "Maverick" in the movie Top Gun was inspired by his career--whether Cunningham has, in fact, made that claim I don't know firsthand) who was the first US ace of the air war over Vietnam, and apparently the first ace fighter pilot in the history of the US military to score all five qualifying kills with missiles (IIRC, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, the aircraft Cunningham flew in Vietnam, had no guns and was armed solely with air to air missiles in the anti-aircraft role). As a retired officer, he is in fact subject to court martial jurisdiction, and Terry cited the Overton case as authority for that proposition.

Of course, I perked up and paid attention when I saw that citation, because I had the dubious distinction of representing Overton at both his general court martial (conducted at the US Naval Station, Subic Bay, Philippines) and his appeal to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Military Review. It's not normal for a military defendant to be represented by the same military lawyer at both trial and appeal, however, by the luck of the draw I'd been given orders to the Navy-Marine Corps Appellate Review Activity, Appellate Defense Division, after my tour in Subic Bay ended, and by virtue of my work on some pretrial motions and a petition to the US Court of Military Appeals (USCMA) for a writ of mandamus (a request for USCMA to order the general court martial to dismiss the charges for lack of in personam jurisdiction) during Overton's trial, it was clear that I was so familiar with the issues to be raised on appeal that it made no sense to assign the case to any other appellate defense counsel.

My obligated service in the Navy ended before the Overton case was heard in the Court of Military Appeals or in the Supreme Court, so I wasn't able to represent Overton in either of those august tribunals. Which was ok by me. Among the reasons for that was that, a month or two prior to USCMA issuing its opinion in the Overton case, the US Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of Solorio v. United States, 483 U.S. 435 (1987), which in one fell swoop overruled the previous Supreme Court precedents of O'Callahan v. Parker, 395 U.S. 258 (1969), and Relford v. Commandant, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, 401 U.S. 355 (1971), which pretty well took away every basis for which we were arguing that the court martial in Subic Bay lacked in personam jurisdiction over Cliff Overton. That made the USCMA decision upholding Cliff's conviction at trial pretty much a no-brainer, and made the ultimate petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court one of those exercises in futility that every defense counsel is, alas, all too familiar with.

Obviously, by virtue of the fact that Terry could cite United States v. Overton to support the proposition that Cunningham is subject to court martial jurisdiction, I didn't exactly win that case. However, as trial losses go (and keep in mind that "winning" for a criminal defense lawyer is relative; since acquittals are so rare you have to count any better than expected result for your client as being a "win"), it was probably the high point of my undistinguished legal career. While we ultimately lost the petition for writ of mandamus at USCMA, the Court did grant our request for a stay of the trial (which was dramatically announced in the middle of the morning's court proceedings, about 15 minutes after the military judge had asked me (very snidely), "Well, Lieutenant Cleavelin, have we heard anything from the Court of Military Appeals, yet?").

The court martial itself lasted over a week, and when the dust cleared Overton's punishment was a mere dishonorable discharge and full forfeiture of his Fleet Marine Corps Reserve retainer pay (for some reason, Fleet Reserve/Fleet Marine Reserve pay is "retainer" pay, not "retired" pay). No confinement/imprisonment whatsoever was imposed by the court. And because the court didn't sentence Cliff to confinement, he continued to receive his retainer pay until the Court of Military Appeals (IIRC) affirmed his conviction (had he been sentenced to confinement of a month or longer the convening authority (Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Philippines, a two star admiral) could have executed the forfeiture immediately).

At the time, I was on very good terms with the COMUSNAVPHIL Staff Judge Advocate and his staff, and one of the assistant SJAs there told me that the Admiral was sorely pissed when he learned that not only was Cliff Overton not going to prison, but that he was going to continue receiving retainer pay for several years after his conviction.

After managing to both do my job (keeping Cliff Overton out of prison and allowing him to keep sucking off the military teat for four years he wouldn't have otherwise) and pissing off a two star admiral in the process, I obviously reached the high point of my legal career, and there was no way to go but down from there.

But, God, it felt good when it happened.


Len on 11.29.05 @ 08:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

HOLY Jumping Jee-Hosie-phat...

...I just heard a CNN commentator make an EXTRAORDINARY statement about ole Child-In-Chief plans to try to shore-up the sagging support for his Iraqi *Sucess* (which everyone who hasn't been on Planet GOPHUCKyerslef Knows is tanking in the polls).

CIC: " ... I'm interested in winning...hehehehee...I want to defeat the terrorists ...hehehehee. And I want our troops to come home but I don't want em to come home without achieving a strategy for victory. We've got a strategy for victory."

Dana Bash: "... What the White House insists we'll see at Annapolis is the President giving more details in than he has before on how the US expects to get that victory the President talked about. And he will focus on Iraqi's and how they are stablizing their country. Specifically about security. Perhaps we'll even hear the President *admit* that the US didn't have it *right* in terms of how they were training Iraqi forces in the beginning, but he will tell how specifically they are doing at this point."

Nicole Wallace: (White House Com. Director): "Currently 120 batallions of Iraqi security forces are on the ground in Iraq. 40 of them are leading missions. And once the conditions are met for Iraqis' to secure their fledgling democracy, American troops will come home."

Dana Bash: "'American troops will come home'...you just heard that from Nicole Wallace. That obviously is the underlying theme here. The President will not explicitly say THAT and he will actually outright reject, as we heard him say today, a specific timetable for withdrawal of troops. But by talking specifically about the Iraqis, how they are stabilizing their country, that is what the President will be trying to imply. That the US can possibly, if this trend continues, that he can lay out that they can possibly start to come home - and from the Pentagon, that there are plans in place, conditions based plans, we hear that from the Pentagon and the White House, for that to happen.

And one more thing, Wolf, the White House understands that what Americans want to hear is that there IS a Plan and we're gonna see them "Declassify" something that they say is a PLAN they say has been in Place for a couple of years. To lay out short term, medium term and long term goals for getting to that victory they say they can get to in Iraq."

So, the NEW strategy for VICTORY is a *Classified Secret Plan* the White House has had in place for a *COUPLE of YEARS*...

F**K I think I'm gonna go throw up someplace.

OH, and Yeah Right... this a PLAN they've had all along.


Karen on 11.29.05 @ 03:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's GEM...

This Howl from Tbogg:

pray3 (31k image)

"Talking Prayer Smack:

Apparently there is a movement afoot in America to rould up all the Christians and nail them to crosses and then feed them to lions and then burn their bones in bonfires made of confiscated Bibles... and I never got the memo.

At least that's the impression I get from christianunderground who are all, like, "bring it unto me, man" and I'm all, like, "who are you? Stop bothering me. Go away." and they're all, like, "I mean it, man. You're in for a world of peril cuz we're not gonna be kept down by the dominant atheistic culture", and I'm all, like...well, walking away because I don't give a shit.... and then they go out late at night for drive-by proselytizing..."

The entire piece is a GOOD FUNNIE - so give it a read through.

Karen on 11.29.05 @ 08:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Yet More Reasons NOT to Fly...

Here's a few *creative financing* suggestions for those embattled Airlines just trying to break even and make an honest $Buck$:

"Airlines are now charging $1 for trail mix, $2 for a pillow and as much as $99 for a seat in the exit row. That's ingenious. And the Tempo Subcommittee on Flights of Fancy has even more suggestions:

- $1.99 to put your tray in the downright position.

- $5.17 per lap your luggage takes on the conveyor belt before you pick it up.

- Coin-operated TP dispensers.

- $50 to sit next to that hot babe -- on second thought, we'll charge her $100 not to sit next to you.

- $40 to sit in a section where there's no safety regulations presentation (because you know them already).

- $20 to see a movie that doesn't star Ashton Kutcher or Brittany Murphy.

- $7 to keep the partially full Diet Coke can.

- $24 not to sit in front of a child with legs long enough to kick the back of your seat.

- $13 for express access to the toilets.

- $1 for an air sickness bag, if purchased in advance. Once the plane's in the air, they're $15.

- $10 if you sit by the window and have to use the bathroom during the flight.

- $3,000 to put your seat all the way back into the lap of the person behind you.

- $1.98 refund if plane lands without all landing gear properly deployed."

-- Want TP? - That'll cost you. (Chicago Tribune)

And if I thought they were KIDDING, this might actually be FUNNIE!!

[Update: I have my own addition to the above list (and speaking of *burgeoning Gluteus Maximi*) IF you can't fit into a single seat...sorry but you'll have to purchase TWO seats to accomodate you - but maybe we'll allow you twice the luggage?!?]

Karen on 11.29.05 @ 07:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More about that Gluteus Maximus...

...and NO, that's not Movie Character from Gladiator starring Russell Crowe.

But as in Gluteus Maximus - and this Daily Herald story from Reuters:Burgeoning backsides sometimes make injections a long-shot:

" Fatter rear ends are causing many drug injections to miss their mark, requiring longer needles to reach buttock muscle, researchers said Monday.

Standard-sized needles failed to reach the buttock muscle in 23 out of 25 women whose rears were examined after what was supposed to be an intramuscular injection of a drug.

Two-thirds of the 50 patients in the study did not receive the full dosage of the drug, which instead lodged in the fat tissue of their buttocks, researchers from The Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin said in a presentation to the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Besides patients receiving less than the correct drug dosage, medications that remain lodged in fat can cause infection or irritation, researchers Victoria Chan said.

“There is no question that obesity is the underlying cause. We have identified a new problem related, in part, to the increasing amount of fat in patients’ buttocks,” Chan said..."

Well, Nuff said...America - yer *On Notice* (as Stephen Colbert likes to say) and get going on that exercise all you Gluteus Maximus Fans. We ain't getting any thinner!


Karen on 11.29.05 @ 07:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

President Bush is going to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. That no longer seems in doubt. The question is: How does he plan to do it? Which troops will come out first? How quickly? Where will they go? Under what circumstances will they be put back in? Which troops will remain, and what will they do? How will they keep a profile low enough to make the Iraqi government seem genuinely autonomous yet high enough to help deter or stave off internal threats? Who will keep the borders secure, a task for which the Iraqi army doesn't even pretend to have the slightest capability? What kinds of diplomatic arrangements will he make with Iraq's neighbors—who have their own conflicting interests in the country's future—to assure an international peace?

More to the point, does the president
have a plan for all this? (The point is far from facetious; it's tragically clear, after all, that he didn't have a plan for how to fight the war if it extended beyond the collapse of Saddam.) Has he entertained these questions, much less devised some shrewd answers? If he's serious about a withdrawal or redeployment that's strategically sensible, as opposed to politically opportune, we should hear about them in his speech Wednesday night.
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 11.29.05 @ 06:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Ah, yes...Highlights from Previous Parties of the 5-Year Olds...

"...Check out this tidbit from "Plan of Attack" in which Woodward recounts a meeting the Bush team had with outgoing secretary of defense William Cohen and the Joint Chiefs of Staff just before taking office.

The JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] staff had placed a peppermint at each place. Bush unwrapped his and popped it in his mouth. Later he eyed Cohen's mint and flashed a pantomime query. Do you want that? Cohen signaled no, so Bush reached over and took it. Near the end of the hour-and-a-quarter briefing, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Army General Henry "Hugh" Sheldon, noticed Bush eyeing his mint so he passed it over.

Feel like a fly on the wall? Perhaps, but wouldn't you rather hear more about the fact that, according to Woodward, Cheney had told Cohen that 'Topic A should be Iraq.' Iraq as Topic A -- months before 9/11, indeed even before Bush was inaugurated. But instead of connecting those dots we get not a vice president ravenous for Saddam's head but a president ravenous for mints."

-- Arianna Huffington: Bob Woodward, the Dumb Blonde of American Journalism.

Sounds just like our Child-In-Chief. Worried about his party treats and favors - never about the Substance of his meetings - HOW BORING - just pass the MINTS.

Oh - and to ole Woodie it's all about CIC's Moral Compass - PHULEEEASE!!!

Karen on 11.29.05 @ 06:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Moral Equivocating on TORTURE...and Sliding Scales...

..or is that Slippery Slopes?

Krautie has joined the semantic word games with the concepts of Torture in this RadioBlogger interview. While recognizing there IS a definition in the legal code, Krautie agrees that somehow McCain's Amendment presents a "moral ambiguity"and would not fulfill the government’s “moral obligation to do whatever it takes, up to a certain point, to get that kind of information…”

“And that's the question...up to what point.” continues Krautie. He then proceeds to equivocate his way through various *techniques* while making up yet more *categories* of potential miscreants to extract Valuable Information From (Not merely Ticking-Time-Bombs is ENOUGH) and Krautie veritably skips his way past ”what really is quite a terrible kind of treatment called waterboarding, where you give them the feeling of drowning..”

Apparently Waterboarding is just a “Treatment”…not Torture. Like *Exfoliation Treatments* perhaps - Painful...discomforting...but eventually worth all that extra trouble.

But ultimately Krautie concludes he’d like to compromise on a "Sliding Scale" of permissible Torture “Treatments” based on how VALUABLE the information you’ll be getting from suspect X (which information value you can calculate in advance - to determine the efficacy and legal limits of your ”Treatments”):

”…under some court interpretations of that language, cruel, inhuman and degrading, you can have a kind of a sliding scale of really rough treatment, depending on how much information, how valuable the information is, under a kind of a court standard which said that it's cruel if it shocks the conscience. And under that logic, if it's a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the murderers of three thousand Americans, who knows about a future attack, it would not shock the conscience if you, say, injected him with barbiturate, or if you kept him sleepless for days on end. So that in other words, it seems to me that perhaps McCain is agreeing that there are these two exceptions. And if that's the case, then instead of everybody posturing, we ought to sit down together and write the rules of the sliding scale in the case of the high-value prisoner like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”

Sliding scale or merely yet another Slippery Slope?

But IF I were one these Torture Policy Movers and Shakers, I might be a tad bit worried on my next overseas jaunt: Policymakers on Torture Take Note -- Remember Pinochet: by Philippe Sands.

Click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 11.29.05 @ 05:13 AM CST [more..] [ | ]


The Raw Story is reporting a few tid-bits more of the additional testimony details about ole Blooming-Shit-Head - indicating the possibility of yet a more Merry Fitzmas!!

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will present evidence to a second grand jury this week in his two year-old investigation into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson that could lead to a criminal indictment being handed up against Karl Rove, President Bush’s deputy chief of staff, attorneys close to the investigation say.
The attorneys say that Rove’s former personal assistant, Susan B. Ralston -- who was also a special assistant to President Bush -- testified in August about why Cooper’s call to Rove was not logged. Ralston said it occurred because Cooper had phoned in through the White House switchboard and was then transferred to Rove’s office as opposed to calling Rove’s office directly. As Rove’s assistant, Ralston screened Rove’s calls.

But those close to the probe tell RAW STORY that Fitzgerald obtained documentary evidence showing that other unrelated calls transferred to Rove’s office by the switchboard were logged. He then called Ralston back to testify.

Earlier this month, attorneys say Fitzgerald received additional testimony from Ralston -- who said that Rove instructed her not to log a phone call Rove had with Cooper about Plame in July 2003..."

More links in that Chain of Fools. And maybe more Indictment Presents (gift wrapped under-seal) at the Fitzmas Tree.


Karen on 11.29.05 @ 04:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Don't know if we've made Bill O'Lielly's "enemies list" yet....

though I did write Bill at his published email address (oreilly@foxnews.com) asking him (Asking? Nay, demanding) to put DBV on the list.

However, I am proud to say that we're listed in The True Conservative's list of Liberal Loser Websites. So I can say that at least we made the second team. And considering who else TTC has on that list, I'm very pleased that we're on it.

UPDATE: I see Brock beat me to the announcement by 10 minutes. So the logical question now is, when do we have the party? And who's buying the liquor?

Len on 11.28.05 @ 07:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

We made the list!

The "True Conservative" is offering a helping hand to Bill O'Reilly in compiling a list of "liberal loser" websites.

And Dark Bilious Vapors made the list!

Take that, LGF Watch!

Brock on 11.28.05 @ 07:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Decorating mania

Been on an after holdiay decorating binge with the kids.


tree1 (145k image)

mantle (149k image)

train (92k image)

snowmen (119k image)

hallway (96k image)

The girls did a FAB JOB - I mostly set up the train set. *wink*

And it is beginning to take shape and looking a LOT Like Christmas!!!

Next...the outside lights.

Karen on 11.28.05 @ 06:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

If the Mess in Mesopotamia is going so well....

the troops on the ground would know it, wouldn't they?

Via Lurch at Main and Central, we get a pointer to pointer to a dKos diary entry that hints at significant disaffection among the troops in Iraq:

I'm back from Thanksgiving with my wife's family and I've got some first-hand feedback from the troops on Iraq, leaving Iraq, and Murtha. You see, my wife is a former military officer and her brother is an active-duty Major, decorated Army Ranger, and West Point graduate with more than 15 years in and about to ship out to Afghanistan. My wife is a good liberal on military issues, while my brother-in-law has always been a thoughtful and nice guy, but very conservative, especially on military issues. We've always gotten along well and been very respectful of each other, but totally disagreed on Republicans and military issues.

My brother-in-law thinks that Murtha is 100% right and that we should pull back in Iraq to forward operating bases in Kuwait, if not leave entirely. Even more interesting, my brother-in-law says that ALL of his officer friends in his real front-line outfit and around the military agree as well.

My brother-in-law is a gregarious, well-connected guy and literally has hundreds of well placed friends at the rank of Major and above. He says that ALL of his miltiary friends feel Iraq is a "mistake" and a "meatgrinder" that serves no purpose anymore if it ever did.

They would all be perfectly willing to serve and even die there if some good might come of it, but they all see that it makes no sense at this point. (My brother-in-law is no pacifist. He fought in Somalia and Haiti and killed several people there. He thought both missions were important and the right thing to do).

Apparently, one key thing that has really pissed off my brother-in-law and his friends is that young guys like them are being thrown into the position of making foreign policy on the ground. He said that his buddies around his level are being given entire towns to run in Iraq and essentially told to make up what to do. From what he hears, there basically is no overall strategy, just a bunch of LTs, CPTs, and Majors making it up as they go. My brother-in-law gave as an example the officer indicted for lying about his men tossing some Iraqis off a bridge. He knows the guy well and said he was just hung out to dry. The guy was caught between trying to figure out how to pacify the Iraqi town, keep his guys alive, and avoid international incidents. At the end of the day, he put his guys first, did the best he reasonably could, and still got screwed for it.

He also is outraged that Bush has asked the country to do nothing and downplayed the war effort that Bush claims is somehow so important. We compared what FDR did during WWII to mobilize the country to Bush's tax cuts and how the papers cover Iraq on page 20 these days. We agreed that if Bush really believes in this war, he should have and still should declare total war, pull out all the stops to get the right equipment there, reinstate the draft, raise taxes, or whatever else is needed to get the job done. Instead, Bush gives a speech here and there and essentially expects everyone to forget about the war and go shopping. He said that this is 100% Bush's fault.

My brother-in-law laughed off as ludicrous the claim that troops are somehow undercut by people debating the usefulness of their mission and questioning whether to pull out of Iraq.
I was especially interested in that last comment. If, as the bAdministration would like us to believe, the war is going so well, it seems to me that the troops over there would be so well satisfied by the good job that they knew they were doing that no kvetching on the home front could pose as serious threat of demoralization. That the bAdministration is claiming that such debate undercuts troop morale suggests to me that they're looking for a scapegoat. Perhaps to shoulder the blame for their eventual pullout before the midterm elections?

Len on 11.28.05 @ 12:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

The thing I'm most struck by over the last few weeks is President Bush's shrinkage in stature. He cut an insignificant figure in China even before he went into his doofus shtick, and seems to be diminishing as the dark cloud of Cheney solidifies and casts Bush in shadow. It's hard to believe he was once the chalice of Peggy Noonan's hopes; Winston Churchill in a leather jockstrap, in the humid imaginations of warbloggers. You get the impression that underneath the show of resolve and irritable resentment, he feels sorry for himself, pouty about not being appreciated. Which may explain why Laura Bush seems to have hardened into a carapace at his side, reverting to the Pat Nixon role to withstand the buffeting winds swirling around her husband and his own stormy moods.
--James Wolcott

Len on 11.28.05 @ 12:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"Duke" finally gives up and admits his guilt (sorta)....

or at any rate, that's what is implied by this item we take from Talking Points Memo and The Al Franken Show: Rep. Cunningham to plead guilty to tax violations

FREE LEGAL ADVICE TO REPUGNICANS: Remember to include your bribe income on your Form 1040. The Bush tax cuts haven't explicitly exempted bribe income--yet.

UPDATE: It's even better than I thought. According to reports, Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham admitted in open court that he took bribes....

Len on 11.28.05 @ 11:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Yuk o'the Day:

From an email correspondent:

There will be no Nativity Scene in Washington, DC this year !

The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene in Washington, DC this Christmas season.

This isn't for any legal reason; they simply have not been able to find three wise men and a virgin in the Nation's capital.

There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable.

Len on 11.28.05 @ 08:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to consider shutting down the blog....

Somehow, when one discovers that Dennis Hastert has a blog, the hobby loses quite a bit of its luster, and one wants to take a long, hot shower and try to wash the guilt by association off.


(Note to Karen: Note the smiley. "That's a joke, son! A joke!")

Len on 11.28.05 @ 07:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Here's what we do know already, without a congressional inquiry: Members of the Bush Administration were dishonest with the public and with Congress about prewar intelligence. We've known this for some time—see, for example, the comprehensive and damning story Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus wrote in the Washington Post in August 2003 ("Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence"). Over the past two years, several incidents of executive-branch dishonesty in the run-up to the war have turned into subscandals of their own: the aluminum tubes that Iraq used for missiles and not gas centrifuges, the yellowcake uranium that Saddam didn't try to buy from Niger, the mobile biological warfare laboratories that turned out to be hydrogen generators for balloons, the al-Qaida chemical warfare training that was based on a false confession, the meeting with Mohamed Atta that didn't happen in Prague.

If you examine these and other pillars of the administration's case for invading Iraq, a clear pattern emerges. Bush officials first put clear pressure on the intelligence community to support their assumptions that Saddam was developing WMD and cooperating with al-Qaida. Nonetheless, significant contrary evidence emerged. Bush hawks then overlooked, suppressed, or willfully ignored whatever cut against their views. In public, they depicted unsettled questions as dead certainties. Then, when they were caught out and proven wrong, they resisted the obvious and refused to correct the record. Finally, when their positions became utterly untenable, they claimed that they were misinformed or not told. Call this behavior what you will, but you can't describe it as either "honest" or "truthful."
--Jacob Weisberg

Len on 11.28.05 @ 06:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

We get comments....

Back in May, under the heading And from the "Great human achievements" department...., we posted about the plight of Corianna Thompson. Ms. Thompson had been charged with the murder of Jean Balashek, in New Scotland, NY. What makes this case interesting is that Ms. Thompson is also a male-to-female post-op transsexual (or so the story implies), and in her birth identity and gender of Corey Wayne Balashek he had served 9 years of a prison sentence for another killing. If the charge against Ms. Thompson is true, she may therefore be the first American on record to have committed homicide more than once while in different genders.

Just recently Haloscan informed me of a comment we've received to the above linked post, purporting to be from Ms. Thompson herself:

maybe charged under both genders but this i am innocent of. its been a nightmare but i keep the faith the true killer will be caught.

Len on 11.27.05 @ 08:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Over at Our Obiligatory Blog....

Stan treats us to photographic evidence of what you'll get two days after your dog eats orange and blue crayons.

Len on 11.27.05 @ 08:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Another reason I wish I were British....

It looks like Parliament may actually conduct an inquiry into how Tony Blair got duped into supporting Dumbya's war. Unlike our Congress, which lacks the balls or the integrity to conduct such an inquiry:

This will not be a happy Thanksgiving for President George Bush, but he need just look across the Atlantic to know it could be worse. His only reliable ally, Britain's Tony Blair, now seems to be facing the full-scale parliamentary inquiry into the Iraq war -- its justification, conduct and aftermath -- that Bush has been able to avoid.

Leading opposition figures from the Conservative, Liberal-Democratic, Scottish National and Plaid Cymru (Welsh) parties have banded together to back the cross-party motion titled "Conduct of Government policy in relation to the war against Iraq" to demand that the case for an inquiry be debated in the House of Commons. They seem assured of the 200 signatures required to get such a debate -- and then the loyalty of Blair's dismayed and disillusioned Labor members of Parliament will be sorely tested.

"This apparently modest motion may be the iceberg toward which Blair's Titanic is sailing," said Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond.

Len on 11.27.05 @ 08:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The latest vocational training course....



Learn Emergency Management, THE BROWNIE WAY!

My Simple Principles Will Help YOU. . .


Sound too good to be true? I thought so too, but I learned to turn lemons into LEMONADE, and made MILLIONS doing it.

Let us teach you how to hide your own INDIFFERENCE, INCOMPETENCE AND CONTEMPT.

See the rest at Banana Slug

Len on 11.27.05 @ 07:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Unlike me, Mad Kane's had a productive holiday weekend....

as she's produced a couple topical limericks (on Ann Coulter's and Jack Abramoff's latest shenanigans) for our amusement.

Len on 11.27.05 @ 06:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Like Charles Atlas before him William Hung is an example of American spirit and tenacity, someone who can turn their weaknesses into an inexplicable strength that won over the hearts of millions of viewers who first fell in love with him on Fox's hit television show American Idol. Prior to his fifteen minutes of fame, Hung was an engineering student at the University of California Berkeley who won over his classmates and fellow dorm residents at a university talent show. Ripe with confidence and a set of vocal cords to match Hung auditioned in 2003 for American Idol, performing Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" and inadvertently invented new notes on the music scale in the process. His performance was greeted with predictable sneers from resident curmudgeon Simon Cowell, motherly support from Paula Abdul and stifled laughter from Randy Jackson, who had no right to laugh considering he made his career flourish as the former spandex pants wearing bass player in Journey.
--The All-Music Guide [bio of William Hung]

Len on 11.27.05 @ 05:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]


I sometimes like a *challenge* and here is one from Eric Zorn (Chicago Tribune) on Moving Thanksgiving as an artificially selected date into a better time slot for the Calendar of season's holidays and celebrations.

"7 good reasons to reschedule Thanksgiving:

If you don't like today's column, blame Abraham Lincoln.

If Lincoln had exercised better judgment in 1863 when he fixed the date for Thanksgiving, we'd have celebrated last month, this would be an ordinary week and I'd be writing happily on another topic.

Instead, Lincoln settled on late November, a dicey season for travel in the northern states. And I'm writing furiously about the need to move Thanksgiving into October.
I sat down in a funk [over canceled Thanksgiving travel plans] and came up with six more reasons, aside from better weather, that America should move Thanksgiving up by at least a month:

October is a better historical fit than November.

The after-harvest festivals with which Thanksgiving Day has come to be associated were traditionally held in September and October, roughly when the storied pilgrim-Indian banquet of 1621 took place.

There's nothing sacred about holding Thanksgiving in late November.

Early Americans observed various days of Thanksgiving in various months in various places. Our sensible friends in Canada celebrate in October. But when Lincoln standardized the event, he thought it best to choose the last Thursday of November (amended to the fourth Thursday by FDR) to honor the Nov. 21 anniversary of the Mayflower's dropping anchor off Cape Cod.

A four-day weekend toward the end of October would fall more neatly between Labor Day and Christmas.

Major holidays, like meals and vacations from work and school, should be as neatly spaced as practical. As it is, Thanksgiving both crowds the Christmas season and creates a long slog of days for most of us from early September until the end of November.

Because Labor Day is perfect where it is, New Year's Day is set in stone and there are a zillion reasons why moving Christmas is a non-starter, Thanksgiving's the best candidate for relocation.

A longer period between Thanksgiving and Christmas would create a longer Christmas shopping season.

This would be good for our friends in retail who could deck the aisles with boughs of holly in early November without having to hear the whine, "But it's not even Thanksgiving yet!"

Moving Thanksgiving to October might inspire us to move Halloween to late September where it belongs.

I'm getting off topic a bit here, but it's often too cold and always too dark on Oct. 31 for little kids to trick-or-treat in the early evening.

Even when the weather in late November is not so bad that it clogs and postpones travel, it's usually nothing to inspire gratitude for our natural world.

This is a chilly, gray time of year.

October, in contrast, is generally gorgeous and inspiring. No need for gloves and hats during the family touch football game on Thanksgiving morning.

Thanksgiving in October would mean no need to surf the Web fretfully on Saturday evening wondering if you'll make it back home the next day or if you'll spend Sunday night sleeping on an airport cot or in the median of the interstate where your mini-van finally came to rest.

Lincoln didn't know from airports or interstates, but what's our excuse for perpetuating his mistake?

If you think I'm wrong, give me seven reasons why. I'll settle for one good one. Post your responses to the Web at chicagotribune.com/changeofsubject.

I'll have plenty of time this weekend to read them.

So, anyone feeling the urge to respond to this challenge - feel free to pop your reply over to Mr. Zorn at that website.


Karen on 11.27.05 @ 08:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Sea of Beauty...

The LA Times has this FAB picture this week of Seahorses.

seahorses (27k image)

"GLIDING ALONG: In fairly bad condition two months ago, the creatures have flourished in 80-degree saltwater at SEA Lab, where they have had a steady diet of mysid shrimp and krill, apparently to their liking. Seahorses have no stomachs, so they have to graze often."

--Mark Melcon (LA Times)

A while back (a long while) the Shedd Aquarium had this marvelous exhibit on Seahorses, Pipe-fish and Sea Dragons. It was stunning and beautiful. This picture captures some of that mystery.


Karen on 11.27.05 @ 08:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I like Java, Sweet and Hot...

...Whoops, Mister Moto, I'm a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot, and I'll pour me a shot,
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

Oh slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
and I'll cut a rug 'til I'm snug in a jug
A slice of onion and a raw one,
Draw one!
Waiter, waiter, percolator!

I love coffee, I love tea,
I love the Java Jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me,
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

Boston beans (soy beans)
I said the little itty-bitty green bean
(cabbage n' greens)
You know that I'm not keen about a bean,
unless it is a chili chili bean! (Talk it, boy!)

I love java sweet and hot,
Whoops, Mister Moto, I'm a coffee pot (yeah)
You shoot me the pot, and I'll pour me a shot,
A cup, a cup, a cup, 'an dat zat bootle!

Blow me a slug from that wonderful mug
And I'll cut a rug that's snug in a jug
Drop a nickel in my pot - Joe
Takin' it slow
Waiter, waiter percolator

I love coffee, I love tea,
I love the Java Jive an' it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup - BOY!

--Java Jive By Ben Oakland and Milton Drake

I posted on this FAV from the 1940's about the health benefits of that cup-o-joe, But now the LA TIMES reports this - A jolt to decaf drinkers:
Caffeine can give some people the jitters, keeping them awake or speeding up their heart rate, but decaffeinated coffee, researchers have found, may be bad for your heart.

Java without the jolt increases the levels of so-called bad cholesterol in the bloodstream and reduces levels of good cholesterol, researchers reported last week at a meeting of the American Heart Assn. in Dallas...
The decaffeination process removes flavonoids and other ingredients that give coffee its flavor. Manufacturers of decaf overcome this problem by replacing the normal Arabica coffee species with beans from the robusta species, which has higher concentrations of flavoring agents, said Superko, who is director of the Fuqua Heart Center in Atlanta, but who did the research while a faculty member at Stanford University.

Unfortunately, robusta also has higher levels of fats, which can alter cholesterol concentrations in the bloodstream.

So enjoy that delicious Java Jive, and a second cup on ME.


Karen on 11.27.05 @ 07:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Winning Yet More Hearts and Minds...

"A "trophy" video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.

The video, which first appeared on a website that has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services, contained four separate clips, in which security guards open fire with automatic rifles at civilian cars. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on "route Irish", a road that links the airport to Baghdad.

The road has acquired the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous in the world because of the number of suicide attacks and ambushes carried out by insurgents against coalition troops. In one four-month period earlier this year it was the scene of 150 attacks.

In one of the videoed attacks, a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. In the last clip, a white civilian car is raked with machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle. Bullets can be seen hitting the vehicle before it comes to a slow stop.

There are no clues as to the shooter but either a Scottish or Irish accent can be heard in at least one of the clips above Elvis Presley's Mystery Train, the music which accompanies the video.

Last night a spokesman for defence firm Aegis Defence Services - set up in 2002 by Lt Col Tim Spicer, a former Scots Guards officer - confirmed that the company was carrying out an internal investigation to see if any of their employees were involved.

-- News.telegraph.

So, anyone got any bets on whether these *perpetrators* are ever found and disciplined from this *internal investigation*?

Karen on 11.27.05 @ 07:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Kiss should be just a Kiss...

But this story is awful and sad....

"A Quebec teenager with a peanut allergy has died after kissing her boyfriend who had eaten a peanut butter sandwich hours earlier.

Fifteen-year-old Christina Desforges died Monday. She went into anaphylactic shock and in spite of being given an adrenalin shot, could not be revived.
Pediatric allergist Karen Sigman told CTV's Tania Krywiak if peanuts are still on the tongue or the lips, they can still cause a reaction.

Sigman says teenagers with allergies have to let their friends know.

"If they're going to be dating somebody that they have to tell the people they're close to that they're allergic to make sure the people they're with aren't in contact with those nuts or peanuts," Sigman said.

Parents of children with nut and peanut allergies have the added pressure of constantly watching what their offspring are eating.

Terri Elituv, mother of 12-year-old Jake Elituv, told CTV News they always watch out for snacks that include peanuts, or traces of the legume.

"Everything is just sort of fraught with this underlying tension, you're anxious about what he's going to have, what he could touch," she said.

Elituv's other concern is what happens when her son becomes more independent in his teen years -- and might not share his allergy concerns with friends at parties..."

-- CTV.ca - Talkdaily via Raw Story.

One of my neighbors has a son with very severe allergies to nuts and, as he is only 7, I'm sure this hasn't even occurred to her yet about a fatal contact with nuts from kissing or dating. The school's have become very proactive to warn other parents and remove these things from snack day treats.

But how Very sad for this girl's parents and family and friends.


Karen on 11.27.05 @ 07:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A new medal for the 101st "Fighting" Keyboarders...

The Hyper-Patriotic Order of ChickenHawks.

Quite clever.

Len on 11.26.05 @ 07:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Winter Soups...

Time to cook that left over Turkey Carcass into some Yummie Turkey Tortellini Soup.

To make a soup broth - Just put the turkey bonz and cover with water in a soup pot with some salt, pepper, bay leaves, parsley and some onions cook till the bonz fall apart (can be several hours on a low simmer). Remove the bonz and tidbits and pick the good meat off (and any left over meat from the meal) to add back to the soup. Toss the bonz in the trash.

Add chopped Carrots, Celery and add frozen peas, green beans, lima beans, chopped spinach and cook til almost tender. Get soup up to a roiling boil, then add the frozen or dried tortellini. Cook till the tortellini are soft.

souppot (94k image)

soupbowl (135k image)

Serve piping hot and yummie!!


[I put single servings into sour cream or cottage cheese containers and label and freeze for later. The start of my winter soups.]

Karen on 11.26.05 @ 03:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I Just LOOOOVE Science...

...so Follow this most Scientific Study from The Poor Man Institute of the Wingnut-Wankery Scale:

wingnutterywanksmall (55k image)

"...All thanks to SCIENCE!

Using these same powerful analytic tools, we can begin our investigation. First, we abstract the the concepts of “wankery” and “wingnuttery”, and represent them as the perpendicular x and y axes of a graph, respectively. We define our zero of wingnuttery as Charles Darwin’s classic “The Origin of Species”, and our zero of wankery as Steve McQueen, the only man to live through the 1960’s without ever having a stupid haircut.

Moving upwards from our axis of wingnuttery we pass through lines of increasing wingnuttiness, while moving to the right from our zero-wankery line implies ever higher degrees of wankitude, until, after many, many sheets of graph paper, we find ourselves at the Burning Man festival. With this as our guide, we can objectively plot the wingnut and wanker ratings of any individual, and determine what relationship exists between these two seemingly unrelated characteristics.

Firstly, we note that Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, Nicholas Kristof and David Brooks all lie on a single line which exactly bisects our graph. This is no coincidence: this line of equal wankery and wingnuttery is used by the NY Times to determine who gets a regular spot the editorial page. (Note that by projecting this “Line O’ The Times” out, we discover that Assrocket will soon have a regular gig at the Grey Lady.) We also observe that people may evolve over time along lines of constant wankery, although only in the direction of increasing wingnuttery, which, ilke entropy, can only be created, never destroyed.

Finally, we note that the quadrant of high wingnuttery and low wanking is completely empty. You can have wanking without the wingnuttery, but not wingnuttery without wanking..."

:-) I just love SCIENCE. *tee* and *hee*

Karen on 11.26.05 @ 02:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

New blogroll addition....

Via The Liberal Coalition, we learn of a new "blog carnival" devoted to challenging the domination of the "carnival" format by right-leaning blogs: The Carnival of the Liberals. They have a post describing the basic concept, and highlighting their web-based submission form.

The first Carnival is scheduled for Wednesday, December 7. Submission deadline is Sunday, December 4.

Stay tuned for some good liberal blogging there. And if you are yourself the proprietor of a left-leaning blog which features excellent writing (that disqualifies me, though I urge my co-bloggers to participate), consider participating.

Len on 11.26.05 @ 10:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's GEM of the week...

"...Some, like columnist Charles Krauthammer, were reveling in the triumph of "the American hegemon." "History has given you an empire, if you will keep it," he said, traducing Benjamin Franklin, who had said at the Constitutional Convention that the United States was a republic if you can keep it.

But where is the American empire now, where the new Rome? Where are its subject peoples, its provinces, its Macedonias and Carthages and Egypts, its victorious armies and triumphal parades? Where, for that matter, are its arts and letters, its Colossus of Rhodes, its Pyramids? Where is its Virgil? Would that be Bill O'Reilly, fountain of abusive misinformation, or Dan Bartlett, the White House Misspokesman? Can someone give me a tour of this realm? We might begin in Iraq. But perhaps we had better not. The tour would have to be cut short in the Green Zone, the American compound in downtown Iraq and the only "secure" territory in the country. Some 200 Iraqis have been killed recently in bomb attacks (horrors scarcely mentioned in the debate in this country). As for the Iraqi "government," these quislings are unable to follow imperial orders--they are deficient even as puppets. Their main accom­plishment has been to open a torture center, perhaps in imitation of our own Abu Ghraib, or perhaps following the model of Saddam Hussein."

-- Jonathon Schell: The Fall of the One-Party Empire.

Karen on 11.26.05 @ 09:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hope y'all had a lovely "Black Friday"....

The day after Thanksgiving is denominated "Black Friday", not for any bad things that happen that day (well, not bad if you're a shopping enthusiast, at any rate), but because of the long believed legend that it is the busiest shopping day of the year, and the day that retailers supposedly see their balance sheets for the year move from "the red" into "the black" (i.e., the point of the year at which they start seeing a profit).

From my perspective, the day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the end-of-year holiday season (call it NODWISH (the NOn-Denominational WInter Solstice Holiday), "Chrismahanukwanzakah", Festivus, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, or whatever). For that reason, I've been sitting on this link til now. For your viewing pleasure:

The Best Christmas Lights Display Ever.

It may take a while to download (I think the page is being spread via email and blog, and the server is sometimes bandwidth challenged), but it's worth it. Basically, someone managed to not only put up an elaborate light display, but then found the appropriate hardware and software to synchronize the lights to a recording of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Wizards in Winter.

I put this one up in honor of one of my favorite people on Earth: my Dad's wife Carol, who is not only an all around great human being, but also one of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's biggest fans. As I told you Dad, I'll be sending a CD with this one shortly, so don't bother waiting a week for it to download over your dial-up connection.


Len on 11.26.05 @ 09:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

As my pappy always said, hard work never hurt anyone--who didn't do it.
--Bret Maverick [TV series "Maverick"]

Len on 11.26.05 @ 08:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]


...some action on those Left-Lane Hogs and bad drivers who *refuse* to let passing traffic through.

Police slow to ticket left-lane lollygaggers:

" A law intended to relieve highway log-jams caused by slow drivers appears to be enforced in rural areas more often than on the state’s most congested urban roads, according to state records and the state police.

Since the so-called left-lane lollygagger law took effect in 2004, state police have written 84 tickets in Chicago and the suburban tollways, compared to 82 tickets for entire rest of the state, according to state police records.

The near-equal figures are surprising because two-thirds of Illinoisans live in the Chicago area and because that’s where lollygaggers were believed to be causing the most problems when the law was enacted, a state police spokesman said.

The law carries a $79 ticket if you’re caught slowing up traffic in the left lane, even if you’re doing the speed limit.

The grand total of 164 citations over nearly two years is a pittance compared to the total number of tickets issued in a year. In 2004, for example, state troopers issued roughly 485,804 traffic citations of all types, including 9,830 citations for driving while impaired.

Still, police are pulling a lot more people over for lollygagging. Since the law took effect, 2,535 warnings have been issued. And suburban motorists might want to consider that though the end of October, some 58 tickets have been written this along tollways, roughly six times more than were written last year.

;-) Go get em State Patrol Coppers...and let the traffic Go with the FLOW!!

Karen on 11.26.05 @ 08:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy Homes…

And Homeowner Associations...

” New research shows that the 54 million Americans who make their homes in homeowner and condominium associations are overwhelmingly happy where they live -- even if neighborhood pets are an occasional source of aggravation.

According to a national survey conducted by Zogby International, more than seven in 10 respondents say they are satisfied with their community association experience, expressing strong satisfaction with both the homeowner volunteers who govern their associations and the community managers who provide professional support. Only one in 10 express some level of dissatisfaction, while two in 10 are neutral on the question.

Eighty-six percent of community association residents say they get along well with their immediate neighbors, with just 5 percent reporting a negative relationship. Of those who report issues with neighbors, the most common problems involve pets, general lifestyle, noise and parking. Of those reporting issues, 28 percent cite pets.
"Utopia doesn't exist in any segment of society," Jerome added, "but it's reassuring to know that the people who govern and manage community associations are working successfully to meet the expectations of millions of homeowners across the country."

-- US News Wire.

Well, given my experiences in working on our HOA here at Dennis Hastert Corner, many folks are appreciative of the efforts and work all of us Board members (we have nine Board members, one for each of the nine neighborhoods, totaling over 700 homes) put in as volunteers to oversee the management and upkeep of our common areas, 11 ponds, Covered Bridge and Stone monument, etc.

But it's nice to see that on the whole many people see the value and work done and think it helps keep up their property values and enhances the neighborhood they live in.


Karen on 11.26.05 @ 08:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Holidays, Shopping and Black Friday...

YIKES…now I know why I NEV-AHHHHHH shop on the day after Thanksgiving.


More stories about the trail of tears for the *Bargain Hunters* at this link.

About the only things I managed to do was reminiscent of this Friday bird blogging *wink* And some soon to be rendered turkey bonz for a Turkey tortellini soup! YUM!!


But, MY Apologies -- I entirely missed posting on this Hat Tip to our very own Dennis Hastert Corner by none other that GEM of a TeeVee Queen, Oprah:

Oprah's brownies explains is all --

"A plain brown box with a demure auntie-like lady on the cover are foolers.

The lady says "Yum," to offer a clue: Inside is a pound or two of brownies, but not just any brownie.

Oh, no. These are a deep, dark heavy-duty fusion of chocolate and fudge with almost more butter than your heart can stand.

And they are Oprah's favorite brownie. Ever.

On Monday, talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey named Deeply Fudgey Brownies created by Moveable Feast, 321 Franklin St., Geneva, in a list of Oprah's Favorite Things, a regular feature. Moveable Feast often caters for Oprah and its brownies are a dessert.

Within hours of the morning broadcast, a steady stream of Oprah fans began trailing through the catering company to taste and buy, coupled with a stream of calls and e-mails asking for the same.

Owners and chefs Matthew and Kimberly Lennert were fairly giddy with delight. ..."

and click on the "more" button to read more about Oprah's favorite things.


Karen on 11.26.05 @ 08:05 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Jim Rockford: [answering machine picks up] This is Jim Rockford. At the tone leave your name and message, I'll get back to you.
Masculine Voice: Jim, it's Eddie. You were right about Sweet Talk in the seventh. He breezed in, paid $72.50. But I didn't get your bet down.
The Rockford Files [TV series]

Len on 11.25.05 @ 10:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Michael D. "Brownie" Brown announces plans to relocate to Colorado and become a government emergency preparedness consultant.

Says Brown, when asked how he plans to pull this off: "You have to do it with candor. To do it otherwise gives you no credibility. I think people are curious: 'My gosh, what was it like? The media just really beat you up. You made mistakes. I don't want to be in that situation. How do I avoid that?'"

So it gets better, Brown is not only selling emergency preparedness expertise, he's opening a secondary racket in 'candor'.

Actually, from the quote it seems that Brown's actual angle may be providing not
generic emergency response consulting services but rather consulting services to incompetents who've been saddled with emergency preparedness responsibility and fear becoming national laughing stocks when they turn mid-size disasters in to full-on catastrophes through gross mismanagement.

This actually may be a solid and underserved niche Brown could cater to, though my understanding is that in such a learning process someone like Brown is generally referred to not as a 'consultant' but rather as 'specimen'.
--Joshua Micah Marshall

Len on 11.24.05 @ 07:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Technical difficulties....

I had planned a very unique Thanksgiving dinner this year (since, for circumstances not entirely under my control, I wasn't able to go up to St. Louis to sponge off the old man). Unfortunately, it had to be shipped from A Major American City via the good offices of Memphis's Major Employer, and somewhere along the line, somebody fucked up. So apologies to the one or two of you who caught my reference to a possible blog post on that unique dinner. Maybe sometime later....

However, all was not a total loss. I'd been needing to replace my cell phone for some time, and it was a good time to consider alternate providers (especially now that one can switch providers and keep one's established phone number). Managed to get a good deal on the Motorola RAZR V3, which has a nice feature set (though I'm still trying to figure out how to get pictures from the phone's integrated camera to my computer...).

All told, I still have a few reasons to be thankful....

Len on 11.24.05 @ 07:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Establishment of a "Constitution-free zone"....

Interesting analysis of the Padilla indictment over at Balkinization:

Since 9/11 the Bush Administration has sharply criticized others for daring to suggest that citizens accused of terrorism should be dealt with through the criminal justice system. It has insisted that 9/11 changed everything and that terrorism must be dealt with through novel methods that dispense with the ordinary protections that the Constitution affords the accused. Now it has backtracked in one of the most prominent cases and done precisely what it said it could not do-- treat Padilla as a criminal defendant.

The reason is not difficult to discover. The Administration counted votes and figured that even with a replacement for Justice O'Connor, it would likely lose in the Supreme Court. (The four dissenters in Rumsfeld v. Padilla thought Padilla was unconstitutionally confined, while Justice Scalia, who joined the majority, made clear that the September 18, 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force did not justify detaining a U.S. citizen, because the AUMF was not a legitimate suspension of the writ of habeas corpus).

By indicting Padilla now, The Bush Administration moots Padilla's appeal to the Supreme Court. It also leaves standing the Fourth Circuit's decision in the Padilla case, which broadly upheld the President's power to detain U.S. citizens like Padilla as unlawful combatants. (See Marty Lederman's post here for an analysis).

That result is particularly worthy of note, for the Fourth Circuit opinion may yet come in handy if the Administration needs to hold another U.S. citizen within the geographical boundaries of that circuit. The Administration now knows that the Fourth Circuit is a Constitution-free zone. It can, if it needs to, declare someone an enemy combantant, thrown them into a military prison, and interrogate them at its leisure. It will take years for a citizen to exhaust his appeals and reach the Supreme Court; and when the citizen finally gets to the Supreme Court, the Administration has the option to indict and moot the case (as it did with Padilla) or, if the Court's personnel have changed sufficiently in the interim, risk an appeal to the Supremes.
Pesky thing, that Constitution. Nice to know that there's somewhere that we can escape it when it's "necessary".

Len on 11.24.05 @ 07:03 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

What's the best way to say "Bush sucks"?

Commission Alex Ross to paint the concept:

Len on 11.24.05 @ 09:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It's inevitable: One day, The Game will welcome the nerds; they will use stats like VORP and WARP and BABIP on SportsCenter; there will be new metrics that are as pretty and precisely turned as a 6-4-3 double play, and they will be cheered in similar fashion; Bobby Grich will be in the Hall of Fame; Joe Morgan will be institutionalized, and his roommate will be Tim McCarver (and McCarver's partner, Joe Buck, will simply be neutered)....
--Tommy Craggs [
SF Weekly]

Len on 11.24.05 @ 09:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A new man in black....

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Len on 11.23.05 @ 11:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Creationism/Intelligent Design ridicule....

From Ted Rall: Science Marches On

And a video clip of the late, great Bill Hicks doing a standup routine on creationism. WARNING: Probably not work safe, owing to language used. Also, of course, probably not work safe if your boss or a significant number of your co-workers are idiot Biblical literalist fundagelicals.

Len on 11.23.05 @ 08:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A guy, a computer, and not nearly enough things to do....

Extreme Adventure.

A random gamer plays 12 LucasArts computer adventure games in 24 hours. And through the miracle of time-lapse photography, you can share the adventure--in less than two minutes!!!

Len on 11.23.05 @ 07:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The Today Show had a series on Plastic Surgery last week, and they interviewed a guy who was The Chairman of the Breast Augmentation Task Force. You know, I've heard a lot of great job titles in my time, but I have to put Chairman of the Breast Augmentation Task Force at or near the top of the list.
--Tommy Acuff

Len on 11.23.05 @ 07:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's GEM...

"As visual metaphors go, it was a lavishly gilded lily of an image, a hanging curveball across the plate, a George Tenet-style slam-dunk: A weary President Bush, trying to escape a news conference in Beijing on Sunday, strides away from the microphone to a pair of locked doors, which he pulls and tugs in vain. No exit , the image screamed. No way out. Of course, George Bush will inevitably get out of the mess he has made -- he leaves office in three years and two months, not that anyone's counting. But the rest of us will be left with his handiwork: crushing national debt, rising economic inequality, a poisoned political atmosphere and, oh, yes, the war in Iraq. We're the ones trapped in the dark with no exit sign in sight..."

-- No Way Out For Bush Co: Eugene Robinson (NY Times)

Well, that's about the SIZE of it, Mr. Robinson.

And BTW...WE are counting down the days as Len has posted a *count-down* clock of the days left in the CIC presidency on the sidebar. *wink*

Karen on 11.23.05 @ 06:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Staying the Course on Becoming 'The Worst President EVAHHH..."

Thomas Friedman (NY Times) has a ditty about the potential for Child-In-Chief to turn around the Country and salvage his presidency all in glorious realignment of admitting mistakes and moving towards a centrist postion to correct the errors of his ways. Thus, Friedman reasons, CIC can avoid becoming...

worstpresident (23k image)

Friedman writes:

"...When I watch Mr. Bush these days, though, he looks to me like a man who wishes that we had a 28th amendment to the Constitution - called "Can I Go Now?" He looks like someone who would prefer to pack up and go back to his Texas ranch. It's not just that he doesn't seem to be having any fun. It's that he seems to be totally out of ideas relevant to the nation's future.

Since there is no such clause, Mr. Bush has two choices. One is to continue governing as though he's still running against John McCain in South Carolina. That means pushing a hard-right strategy based on dividing the country to get the 50.1 percent he needs to push through more tax cuts, while ignoring our real problems: the deficit, health care, energy, climate change and Iraq. More slash-and-burn politics like that will be a disaster.

Indeed, at a time when a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible and we are at the most important political moment in Baghdad - the first national election based on an Iraqi-written constitution - it was appalling to watch Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney using their bully pulpits to act like two Rove attack dogs, accusing Democrats of being less than patriotic on Iraq.

For two men who have fought this war without deploying enough troops, always putting politics before policy, without any plans for the morning after and never punishing any member of their team for rank incompetence to then accuse others of lacking seriousness on Iraq is disgusting. Yes, we need to stay the course for now in Iraq, but we can't stay the course alone or divided. That's the point.

We are about to produce the most legitimate government ever in the Arab world, and the Bush-Cheney team - instead of acknowledging its errors on W.M.D., seeking forgiveness and urging the country to unite behind the important effort to defeat the jihadist madness in Iraq - does what? It starts slinging mud at Democrats on Iraq. Sure, some Democrats goaded them with reckless remarks - but they are not in power. Where are the adults? We can't afford this nonsense, while also ignoring our energy crisis, the deficit, health care, climate change and Social Security.
"If President Bush doesn't rise to this challenge, our children and grandchildren will look at the burden he has placed on their shoulders and see this moment as the hinge between the American Century and the Chinese Century. George W. Bush may well be seen as the president who, by refusing to address these urgent questions when they needed to be addressed, invited America's decline."

Truly, I hope Mr. Bush rises to the challenge. We do not have three years to waste. To do that, though, Mr. Bush would need to become a very different third-term president, with a much more centrist agenda and style. If he does, he still has time to be a bridge to the future. If he doesn't, the resources he will have squandered and the size of the problems he will have ignored will put him in the running for one of our worst presidents ever."


Dream ON, Thomas.

Not only can this President not let go of his soiled-stinks-to-high-heaven security-Rove Blankee, but he's done all in his power to keep Blooming-Shit-head by his side and return to the Dirty-Dawg-Rovian-Play Book of political campaign maneuvers. Just cause this particular smear didn't work, don't think for a minute that Rove's list of smears, fear, divide and conquer GOP rote approach to governing is now on the short list of strategies for repairing CIC's poll ratings.

If Child-In-Chief has shown nothing else for the past 5 years - it's that he both a "SLOW LEARNER" (if in fact he ever *learns* anything at all from those *mistakes* he never makes or admits to making) and has no penchant for self-correction. He offers nothing but lame excuses, no plans for change and it may be too LATE to rescue his *Legacy* beyond the "Worst President Ever."

Karen on 11.23.05 @ 06:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Karen will probably go into mourning....

RIP "Sam"


According to the Associated Press, Sam, "the World's Ugliest Dog", died Friday, November 18, 2005, just short of his 15th birthday.

Karen first posted about Sam here back last Independence Day, and again last July 23.

I'm sure he'll be missed, and not just by his owner.

Len on 11.22.05 @ 06:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

In case you were Wondering....

I have been Soooo Bizee. Hardly any time to post.

I've had family things, work things, appliance things, contract things, health things, multitude of EVERYTHING - all GO Crazeee the past few weeks.

They usually say "bad things come in threes" - BUT Sheesh, I'm working on making it an even DOZEN by now.

And yet one more thing this morning -- the furnace humidifier deciding to go Kablooie and leak water all over my basement floor. But as we are in the HVAC biz... I am hoping for a quick replacement unit sometime SOON. (Are ya listening, Honey!!!)


But meanwhile, after mopping the basement floor, and running some box fans to dry the moisture and avoid mold and mildew - I've been on a time-is-of-the-essence mission to find dining room chair seat covers.

My dining room chairs have suffered every indignity known to man over the past 17 years of holiday seasons and entertaining guests. But the Pizza escapade, where Cory accidentally lost control of a full steaming hot Pizza Box and dumped and entire Cheese, Sausage, Mushroom and Green Pepper Giordano's Thin crust Pizza *FACE-Down* on a dining room chair has caused me to want to completely recover them. (She was, to be fair, aiming for the table - but missed. *teehee* and *YUK*)

This is the Pizza Chair cushion (never to be the same again) :-0

chairs2 (72k image)

But DRAT, time is short and 15 guests are coming on Thursday.

So, instead I am making some brocade chair covers to tie on and cover the offending cushions. Ya would think these would be an ready item to be purchased - somewhere - in some store. BUT NO!!

Stores only carry the usual fluffy seat cushions ready-made (and too small for my chairs), or some Blanket type things to swath your entire chair in yards of fabric and bows. Not the *look* I was searching for.

But a few yards of brocade and matching ribbon later - and I can make my chairs look all inviting again for the Holidays.

chairs5 (85k image)

Voila! - Suzy-Homemaker™ strikes again!!


Karen on 11.22.05 @ 03:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Aways a 'Barney Fife' around when ya DON'T Need one...

"The whole incident was absurd, said the carpenter who was banned last week from all Home Depots worldwide for pocketing a pencil.

And Home Depot apologized on Sunday, saying that Michael Panorelli, 51, who had spent $117 on window-trimming lumber, should never have been written up for taking the pencil. Panorelli said he did it absent-mindedly.

"We encourage our associates to follow the letter of our ... zero-tolerance policy against shoplifting," said Home Depot spokesman Yancy Casey, reached by phone Sunday in Atlanta. "In this case, there was an error in judgment."

The company wants to make amends, but Panorelli isn't up to returning their calls or doing business with them--ever again.

"I heard they issued a public apology and that I'm welcome back in the store anytime I feel like it," said Panorelli, of Lawrence, Mass. "Somehow, that doesn't do anything for me."

Panorelli went to the Home Depot in Methuen on Thursday with his client, Lawrence businessman George Salas, who grabbed a pencil near the cash register so that Panorelli could do some quick math. Panorelli pocketed the pencil and, with Salas, picked up and paid for the lumber.

The Home Depot loss-prevention worker was waiting for them outside the door, Panorelli said. An assistant manager was called. Panorelli had to give a copy of his driver's license. The loss-prevention worker snickered and asked if he needed a pencil so badly that he had to steal one, Panorelli said.

"He wanted me to sign a confession saying I knowingly took something of value from the store," Panorelli said. "I didn't sign."

-- Home Depot offers sharp apology, but he makes a point too.

Mr. Loss-Prevention Worker (aka "Barney Fife") Needs to GET a GRIP -- writing up a customer for absent-mindedly pocketing a pencil is the quintessential definition for the Mayberry Deputy Sheriff's penchant for the *Picayune * while missing the *BIG* picture entirely. Well, a better LATE than never apology from Home Depot.


Karen on 11.22.05 @ 11:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The ultimate solution....

to all of GM's woes. GENERAL MOTORS TO CEASE ALL AUTO PRODUCTION: Cost Saving Move Could Cut Billions in Expense

Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors, announced Monday that the auto giant will completely cease production, saving the company billions of dollars in expenses and eliminating over 150,000 jobs.

Mr Wagoner told a press conference in Detroit that the world's largest carmaker would cease operations at all its assembly plants over the course of the next year.

"It's a big move," he said. "We're confident that this is what it's going to take to get us going."

The restructuring is an effort to return the world’s largest automaker to profitability. High unit costs, flagging sales and rising health care costs have forced the manufacturer’s hand.

Len on 11.22.05 @ 08:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

On behalf of Reasonable Tenneseeans (both of us)....

I apologize for our populace having sent Bill "Worthless Turd" Frist to pollute the U.S. Senate.

Latest Frist hi-jinks. According to the Blogressive, Frist is responsible for blocking a routine Senate resolution honoring Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen on the 30th anniversary of the release of The Boss's seminal classic, Born to Run (if you don't see the Nov. 21 entry when you click that link, then click here):

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has blocked a routine resolution honoring the 30th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen's album Born to Run. "Resolutions like this pass all the time in the U.S. Senate, usually by unanimous consent," said its co-sponsor Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. [AP]

The obvious reason for blocking the resolution: Springsteen's endorsement of Sen. John Kerry last year. But perhaps the Senate was simply exercising heightened musical tastes and discretion. Last year, the US Senate honored Ted Nugent with a resolution. In case you were busy during his 15 minutes of fame, Nugent aka "The Motor City Madman", is the genius poet behind American pop music classics "Cat Scratch Fever," and "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang."
Of course, the fact that Nugent released an ostensibly anti-Clinton ditty titled "Kiss My Ass" surely has nothing to do with his being honored by the Senate:
Kiss My Ass
Lyrics by Ted Nugent

Telegram for Mr Billary...
C'mon baby,
Yeah, big ol' wet one...hey!
Kiss my ass,
Kiss my ass, (c'mon, everybody ought'a)
Kiss my ass, (tastes real good)
Kiss my ass. (oh...)
Don't waste your time on me
I got my own direction
Watch me close, wait and see
I'm lookin' for perfection
I make up my own mind
And I'll leave you far behind
When the goin' gets tough
You can kiss my ass
I believe in animal rights
I let my dog hump on my shin
I can tolerate sexual choice
But not with the next of kin (uh-uh, boy)
I've heard it all before
I ain't gonna take any more
When the goin' gets tough
You can kiss my ass
Kiss my ass, (pucker up)
Kiss my ass
Kiss my ass
Kiss my ass, (c'mon babe)
I've heard it all before
And I ain't gonna take no more, no no
When the goin' gets tough
Kiss my ass!
I see the weenies with the dirty hair
Protestin' on the street
They condemn the clothes we wear
And the morality of what we eat, yeah
It's gotta be a fluke
They make me wanna puke
When the goin' gets tough
They can kiss my ass
Everybody gotta
Kiss my ass - C'mon gang bangers
Kiss my ass - Janet Reno
Kiss my ass - C'mon Billary
Kiss my ass - Callin' on Jesse Jackson
Kiss my ass - How about the IRS
Kiss my ass - Hey, Howard Stern
Kiss my ass - United Nations
Kiss my ass - All those Liberals
Kiss my ass - C'mon Sarah Brady
Kiss my ass - Oh, Courtney Love I've got your hole
Kiss my ass - Beavis, Butthead
Kiss my ass - How about Crips and Bloods
I've heard it all before
And we ain't gonna take it no more
When the goin' gets rough
When the goin's too tough
When the goin' gets rough
They oughta' kiss my ass
Sheer poetry.

Len on 11.22.05 @ 08:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hello...I'm the Wrath of God...

That First Thanksgiving by John Tierney cites an author (Charles Mann) who has written some most interesting bits about the Thanksgiving *myths* as taught to our children.

Tierney cites the usual myths like:

”1. After a kindly Indian named Squanto taught the Pilgrims to grow corn, the Pilgrims invited the Indians to a meal to celebrate their friendship and mutual desire to live in harmony.

2. The Pilgrims held a feast to thank God, the real hero of Thanksgiving, who had earlier arranged for Squanto to be kidnapped, brought to Europe, taught Christianity and then miraculously returned just in time to help the Pilgrims.

3. The Indians, vicious barbarians awed by the Europeans' technology, sought an alliance with the Pilgrims to get access to their steel tools and enjoy the protection of their guns.

4. The Native Americans, a peaceable people who practiced sustainable agriculture and lived as one with nature, innocently befriended the Pilgrims without realizing these imperialists would destroy their lands and wage genocidal wars.

But, as Tierney explains –
“These stories all suffer from a warped view of Indians as naïfs that afflicted the first settlers and persisted for centuries among historians. It's the fallacy dubbed "Holmberg's Mistake" by Charles Mann in his new book, "1491," an intriguing revisionist history.

Holmberg's Mistake is named after an anthropologist in the 1940's who concluded that the Bolivian Amazon had long been a primeval wilderness inhabited by a few Stone Age tribes. But as later researchers found, that landscape had been transformed by a large, prosperous society that dug canals, raised earthworks and cleared forests to plant crops and build cities.

The Indians who greeted European colonists may have seemed like barbarians - or, in later mythology, like Noble Savages - but that was only because their societies had been decimated by epidemics brought by earlier Europeans. Before then, the Americas may well have been more populous than Europe, and in some ways more advanced.

The Indians on Cape Cod, who had more productive farm fields and ate more calories per capita than the typical person in Europe, were appalled by their unhealthy, scraggly and dirty visitors. The English guns were frightening at first, but the Indians quickly saw that the weapons were inaccurate and could be defeated by bows and arrows.

And Tierney continues with a description of the Indian who is legendary in facilitating the survival of the Pilgrims: Squanto.
“…Tisquantum (the full name of Squanto) came from the Wampanoag confederation, which had long traded with the Europeans while forcibly preventing them from settling on Cape Cod.

This shrewd politician probably sought the alliance not so much for the Pilgrims' guns, Mann writes, but because his enemies would be reluctant to attack a group of whites for fear that it would complicate their own relationships with white traders. And his emissary, Tisquantum, far from a simple, kindly Indian, had his own plan for using the Pilgrims to become leader himself. Shortly after that first Thanksgiving, he tried unsuccessfully to trick the Pilgrims into attacking Massasoit.

"Tisquantum was to the Pilgrims what Ahmad Chalabi was to the Americans in Iraq," Mann said. "At a time when the Pilgrims were really clueless, he introduced them to his society and provided valuable information, but he definitely had his own agenda." Some Pilgrims remained clueless, attributing their survival to God and their guns, but others were more savvy. ..”

But, Mr. Tierney has *forgotten* a few of the best historical facts from Mr. Mann's research. The December issue of Smithsonian Magazine has an article from Mr. Mann, "Native Intelligence" (very informative and an excellent read by the way) that provides this intriguing revelation about Squanto:
“More than likely, Tisquantum was not the name he was given at birth. In that part of the Northeast, tisquantum referred to rage, especially the rage of manitou, the world-suffusing spiritual power at the heart of the coastal Indian’s religious beliefs.

When Tisquantum approached the Pilgrims and identified himself by that sobriquet, it was as if he had stuck out his hand and said, Hello, I’m the Wrath of God.

So, give the full article a read through when it makes to the December on-line copy at this link.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving.


Karen on 11.22.05 @ 07:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It almost doesn't matter whether withdrawing or redeploying the troops is a good idea; it's simply going to happen because there is no way for it not to happen (short of a major act of political will, such as reviving the draft or keeping troops on the battlefield beyond reasonable endurance). This is what Murtha meant when he told Russert, "We're going to be out of there, we're going to be out of there very quickly, and it's going to be close to the plan that I'm presenting right now." (There are political reasons for this near-inevitability, as well. When Murtha predicted we'd be mainly out of Iraq by 2006, Russert asked, "By Election Day 2006?" Murtha responded, "You—you have hit it on the head.")
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 11.22.05 @ 05:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It's a 'Rumderful Life'

Be sure to visit Driftglass and give read through his two part-er on Sunday Morning and "It's a Rumderful life."

A Howl and a Half is ole Drifty.

Keep em coming. :-)

Karen on 11.21.05 @ 11:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy mutual birthday....

to St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan "the Man" Musial, and to future Hall of Famer Ken "Junior" Griffey, Jr. The Man turns 85 today, while Junior celebrates his 36th birthday.

Interestingly enough, besides the mutual birthday, Musial and Griffey have something else in common related to their births: both are natives of Donora, Pennsylvania. Added bonus factoid for today: Musial played high school baseball on the same team with Griffey's grandfather.

Len on 11.21.05 @ 09:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Then and Now...

The Chicago Tribune has started a new set of articles looking back at some of the Pre-Iraq war Adminstration premises and arguments in this series: Iraq: Case Then and Now.

This looks to be very interesting - given the current public debate on the topic - and the *faulty* memories of all that occurred so long ago. This can be viewed as a supplemental to what we all HOPE with be the Phase II investigation by Congress about How the pre-war intelligence was presented to the public and whether there was an adequate basis for the continued repetition of those bits as the intelligence changed and was updated.

"...We begin with the premise that the passage of three years has obscured much of what actually was said in 2002 and early 2003 as this nation debated whether to invade Iraq and oust its dictator. Also obscured by the passage of time, and by often vicious (and mutual) political partisanship: what subsequent investigations and other evidence suggest about the emptiness, or accuracy, of the administration's reasons for war.

This is, we acknowledge at the outset, an arbitrary exercise—beginning with our identification of the nine arguments the Bush administration advanced in making its case for war. Those nine arguments were distinct, although sometimes overlapping. They included, but went well beyond, Iraq's weapons programs.

We isolated these nine arguments for war from eight major speeches or presentations by administration officials as they advanced their case. To assess each of those nine arguments, the Tribune will present an occasional series of editorials that examine the arguments one by one.

We approach each argument by positing two questions: What did the administration say about this in making its case for war? And what do we know about those assertions today?"

Give this a read through, and I will post on further installments as they appear.


Karen on 11.21.05 @ 08:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

As if the Sony-BMG rootkit wasn't bad enough....

Over at ReelThoughts James Berardinelli discusses a new scheme by Universal to allow online rental of movies via peer-to-peer file sharing technology (scroll to the November 19, 2005 entry):

Apparently, Universal Studios doesn't have a high opinion of its customer base. Or, to put it another way, they must think we were all born yesterday. Even if you believe that Universal is jumping on the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" bandwagon, why would anyone buy what they're proposing to sell?

I'm talking about Universal's recent announcement that, beginning in 2006, they are going to make about 100 movie titles available for rent on-line. No pricing structure has been announced, but we're probably looking at between $2 and $5 to download and view a film. Anything higher wouldn't make sense; no one would be interested. Anything lower seems unlikely, although price points of 50 cents to 99 cents might dramatically increase interest.

Universal plans to use peer-to-peer networking to facilitate the downloading. So, after years of decrying the horrors of this method of file sharing, they have reversed course and gotten on board. It's the typical Big Business view of things: technology is evil until they can find a use for it.

The Universal model calls for the full movie download to take less than an hour (it reamins to be seen whether they can deliver on that) - not instant access but quicker than waiting for the NetFlix envelope to arrive, and more convenient that taking a trip to the local video store. Once the movie is downloaded, you can watch it as many times as you want in a 24-hour window. After that, it becomes "locked out" and you have to pay again to get access. The details of this plan are similar to those proposed by a number of distributors looking to get into the on-line market. But here's the new wrinkle: you have to keep the movie on your hard-drive, hogging valuable memory, for 30 days. And for 29 of those 30 days, you can't watch it.

The reason, according to Universal, is that, using peer-to-peer technology, the more people who have a copy of the file on their hard drive, the faster a new download goes. This is true, but it raises two unsavory issues. First, even though I know it's relatively secure, this means Universal will mandate that I allow other people to download a file from my hard drive. Secondly, I'm not permitted to manage all my own files. Assuming DVD quality, about 1% of my 250 Gig hard drive will be compromised for 30 days. Not such a big deal, but what if I download 10 or 15 movies? Or what if I have a smaller drive?
What is it about the media companies that they feel they have some sort of proprietary interest in our computers? Oh well, at least the Universal scheme doesn't involve a rootkit.

Well, not that we know of. Yet.

Len on 11.21.05 @ 07:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Course Corrections?

Bryan (Why Now) and I were having a bit of a haloscan discussion over the Iraq situation. In comparing historical analogies to Iraq, we wondered IF anything really would have been any different - in the long term - by removing the Iron-hand of Saddam and simply replaced that *lid* on the pot of the boiling ethnic strife between the Sunni's Sh'ia's and Kurds with US forces - could the situation have been better? IF the "how to win the peace" effort in Iraq not been totally botched form the get-go, would we still be in any less a difficult position about bringing our troops home?

That perhaps without some *Iron-handed* substitute authority to force the continued coalition of these groups to co-exist, there would be a civil war - No Matter WHAT we could have done to "nation-build" in Iraq.

Bryan aptly pointed out:

"The Kurds and Shi'ia have wanted out for a long time. All we could ever hope for was a great deal fewer deaths. That's what all the other governments knew and were afraid of happening. Those with Shi'ia minorities didn't want to see greater Iran, and those with Kurdish minorities didn't want the establishment of a Kurdish state.

This is why the Turks wouldn't provide assistance. They didn't want a Kurdish state next door with major Kurdish populations in their own eastern provinces always on the verge of revolt.

Iraq's neighbors talked Bush I out of removing Saddam, because they were sure that Iraq would break up without his repression. This is why they refused to give more aid to Bush II.

The neocons are the only ones surprised by what has happened.

But that by abruptly removing that *lid*, and never fully living up to it's replacement - an all out civil war among these groups is (would be) inevitable. We can't stop it, and have actually provided both the chaos to foment it and the incentive to the insurgency to attack us as the "occupiers" which continues today. And, to date, we still lack the numbers of US troops on the ground to prevent this violence and contain this incipient civil war.

Here is Paul Krugman (NY Times) touching on that topic and the "When, exactly, would be a good time to leave Iraq?" debate over *stay the course* versus *save our troops now*:

"...Instead, defenders of our current policy have had to make a substantive argument: we can't leave Iraq now, because a civil war will break out after we're gone. One is tempted to say that they should have thought about that possibility back when they were cheerleading us into this war. But the real question is this: When, exactly, would be a good time to leave Iraq?

The fact is that we're not going to stay in Iraq until we achieve victory, whatever that means in this context. At most, we'll stay until the American military can take no more.

Mr. Bush never asked the nation for the sacrifices - higher taxes, a bigger military and, possibly, a revived draft - that might have made a long-term commitment to Iraq possible. Instead, the war has been fought on borrowed money and borrowed time. And time is running out. With some military units on their third tour of duty in Iraq, the superb volunteer army that Mr. Bush inherited is in increasing danger of facing a collapse in quality and morale similar to the collapse of the officer corps in the early 1970's.

So the question isn't whether things will be ugly after American forces leave Iraq. They probably will. The question, instead, is whether it makes sense to keep the war going for another year or two, which is all the time we realistically have.

Pessimists think that Iraq will fall into chaos whenever we leave. If so, we're better off leaving sooner rather than later. As a Marine officer quoted by James Fallows in the current Atlantic Monthly puts it, "We can lose in Iraq and destroy our Army, or we can just lose."

And there's a good case to be made that our departure will actually improve matters. As Mr. Murtha pointed out in his speech, the insurgency derives much of its support from the perception that it's resisting a foreign occupier. Once we're gone, the odds are that Iraqis, who don't have a tradition of religious extremism, will turn on fanatical foreigners like Zarqawi.

The only way to justify staying in Iraq is to make the case that stretching the U.S. army to its breaking point will buy time for something good to happen. I don't think you can make that case convincingly. So Mr. Murtha is right: it's time to leave...."

UPDATE: And I Just Noticed it's the 1st Year Anniversary for Bryan's Why Now Blog!!! Happy Bloggiversary To Bryan!!! Go over and give him some kudos today to wish him the BEST!!!

Karen on 11.21.05 @ 07:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Mad Kane's at it again.....

This week: Wacky-Off: Jean Schmidt vs. Pat Robertson. Of course there's an audio version.

Len on 11.21.05 @ 07:05 AM CST [more..] [ | ]


Over at Our Obligatory Blog, Stan recounts his weekly bike ride--this week's installment is a pilgrimage to the crypt of Marilyn Monroe. Cool pics there, so go take a look.

Len on 11.21.05 @ 06:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Torching straw men....

Over at Main and Central, bulldog has a good post on the recent machinations in the House concerning Iraq withdrawal resolutions:

Well, it looks like the Republicans are claiming victory over the house vote for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. And what a victory it was too. But for who? The House vote was NOT, I repeat NOT, the resolution that Congressman Murtha brought to the floor. The version voted on, with a final tally of 403-3, was actually brought to the floor by Rep. Duncan Hunter of California. Here's what was actually being voted on:
It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Notice how this doesn't look anything at all like Murtha's proposed resolution:
My plan calls:
To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq.

Doesn't even look close to what Rep. Hunter proposed. What it all boils down to is that the Republicans stage a stunt so they could generate a new talking point.
Democrats say they want to cut-and-run, but when presented with a vote, they vote against it. See how they're all really just flip-floppers like John Kerry? The fact is that the stunt Hunter and his colleagues pulled in the House on Friday is just that: a stunt. If you read Murtha's entire statement (here) you'll see that he is not endorsing a cut-and-run policy as the Republicans have smeared him. He is advocating a smart, well thought out plan to remove our troops from harm's way and begin to try and stabilize the region. It is well-known that the intensity of the insurgency right now is directly linked to our presence in the region. Even US Commanders on the ground have said as much

Len on 11.21.05 @ 06:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And because we haven't done some college football humor.....

in the whole history of this blog, IIRC....

First, this is stolen from BSTommy, but I'm compelled to pass it on because I'm surrounded by Vols fans:

A seven-year-old boy was at the center of a courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him.

The boy had a history of being beaten by his parents, and the judge, in keeping with child custody laws and regulations requiring family unity be maintained to the degree possible, initially awarded custody to his aunt.

The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him worse than his parents, and he adamantly refused to stay with her.

When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out that they beat him even more severely than any of his other family members.

After considering the remainder of the immediate family's tendencies towards violence, the judge took the unprecedented stop of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.

After several recesses to check legal precedent, to confer with child services, to ponder the issue, this Saturday, the judge finally decided to award custody of the boy to the University of Tennessee football team.

Because they can't beat anybody.
Actually, UT can beat the University of Memphis, though Memphis had to hobble themselves by (apparently) not playing their best player. And, IIRC, UT only barely pulled it off.

And, since I'm inundated by the foolishness of SEC fans around this time of year, I present:
The Great Southeastern Conference Quiz:
  1. Q. What does the average Alabama Player get on his SATs?
    A. Drool.
  2. Q. What do you get when you put 32 Arkansas cheerleaders in one room?
    A. A full set of teeth.
  3. Q. How do you get a South Carolina cheerleader into your dorm room?
    A. Grease her hips and push.
  4. Q. How do you get a Georgia graduate off your porch?
    A. Pay him for the pizza.
  5. Q. How do you know if a Mississippi State football player has a girlfriend?
    A. He has tobacco spit on both sides of his pickup.
  6. Q. Why is the Kentucky football team like a possum?
    A. They play dead at home and get killed on the road.
  7. Q. What are the longest three years of an Auburn football player's life?
    A. His freshman year.
  8. Q. How many Florida freshmen does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. None; it's a sophomore course.
  9. Q. Where was O. J. headed in that white Bronco?
    A. Baton Rouge, Louisiana; he knew that the police would never look for a Heisman Trophy winner at LSU.
  10. Q. Why did Tennessee choose orange as their team color?
    A. You can wear it to the game on Saturday, hunting on Sunday, and picking up trash along the highways the rest of the week.
Ok. That concludes our college football humor for the next couple years, I figure.

Len on 11.21.05 @ 05:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Because we haven't had an Engrish update for a while....

Karen's been falling down on the job, I see. Anyway, taking a quick gander at Engrish.com I came across this gem:

I'm very glad to see this; I so hate drinking hairy milk.

And Spraky Schulz must be rolling over in his grave as we speak:

Here's my first nomination for enshrinement in the "Relevant Superheroes Hall of Fame":

And if I ever "get religion" I think I want to join this one (whichever it is):

Len on 11.21.05 @ 05:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Those who interpret natural disasters as messages from God almost always think God is sending a message that agrees with their own philosophy. God never seems to send messages that causes them to wonder if they are wrong.
--Roger Ebert

Len on 11.21.05 @ 04:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Too late for the Baptist implosion....

but I stumbled across this page for you building implosion/demolition fans: Cinema Explosif', a page of video clips of explosive demolitions of various buildings....

Len on 11.20.05 @ 08:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And who says Microsoft doesn't have a sense of humor.....

Here's a short film on a new feature of MS operating systems: We Share Your Pain (WE-SYP)

My favorite in joke: the part where they show Prof. Leopold von Sächer Masoche, an MS researcher....

Len on 11.20.05 @ 08:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I was in Disney World recently, specifically the part of it called the Magic Kingdom, walking up Main Street USA. This is a perfect gingerbready Victorian small town that culminates in a Disney castle. It was very crowded; we shuffled rather than walked. Directly in front of me was a man with a camcorder. It was one of the new breed of camcorders where instead of peering through a viewfinder you gaze at a flat-panel color screen about the size of a playing card, which televises live coverage of whatever the camcorder is seeing. He was holding the appliance close to his face, so that it obstructed his view. Rather than go see a real small town for free, he had paid money to see a pretend one, and rather than see it with the naked eye he was watching it on television.
--Neal Stephenson

Len on 11.20.05 @ 08:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The 'Plan of the Hacks...'

planofahack (49k image)

[Hat tip to for the great title and graphic from both firedoglake and Bob Geiger]

Leonard Downie's Plan is to run TeeVee interview *interference* for good ole Water(gate)-Toting Bob Woodward on the MSM networks and in the WaPo.

I still have a FEW problems with Mr. Downie's answers - like these Q&A over the Bob Woodward matter:

“…It was later, after the Fitzgerald investigation was underway, that Bob became concerned about being subpoenaed. In the meantime, however, once the relevance of his conversation became clear because of the controversy over the Novak column, Bob should have told me about his conversation, even if we would have been unable to publish anything about it because of his confidentiality agreement with his source…”

“…As Bob has said, he objected in principle to having reporters forced by Fitzgerald to testify about confidential source relationships and about the chilling effect he feared it would have on reporting….”

“…This is one mistake that Bob has made in over three decades of extraordinary reporting, beginning with Watergate, that has performed a great public service for our readers and all Americans by revealing more about how our government works -- and holding it accountable -- than any other journalist….”

“Q: “… Is it not true that keeping your word with an unnamed source is what's most important, and Mr. Woodward did just that? In some regards, I think Mr. Woodward should have come forward sooner but on the other hand doesn't a reporter have any privacy in their own lives? Is a reporter always morally obligated to tell everything he/she knows about a subject to his/her employer? I do hope Mr. Woodward is not punished for this one mistake.

A : I agree with you, except that reporters should share with their editors significant information of his kind, even in a confidential source relationship, so that the editors can help the reporter decide what to do with it in the best interests of our readers, as well as making certain we do violate a confidential source agreement….”

“…Both Woodward and Miller, as did several other reporters, testified in Fitzgerald's investigation only after being specifically released by their sources from confidentiality agreements for the purpose of their testimony….”

“… so long as the confidential source agreement was not violated…”

These all have the same concept of the “confidentiality agreement” being the MOST Important thing, and operating on a conclusion that Unless and Until a source AGREEs to break that confidentiality, there is no release.

That is simply Legally NOT permissible nor the Case Law rules. As Downie well knows, given that Mr. Walter Pincus (another WaPo columnist) has been held in contempt by a different Court in a ruling on this issue of what kind of *qualified* priviledge rules govern in this case and when reporters MUST comply with a Court's ruling to discuss their sources (see this previous post.)

I'll repeat what is worth repeating here: There is NO ABOLUTE, UN-QUALIFED Priviledge for a Reporter on a confidentiality agreement.

They have no legal standing to refuse to reveal the confidentiality of a source when ordered to do so by a Court under the balancing test of the First Amendment protections. With or without the consent of the “Source”, Ms. Miller would have been required to testify, as would Mr. Woodward be so obligated to testify.

And these reporters, Bob Woodward, Walter Pincus or Judy Miller, who think they have some ability to make up the rules to suit their own individual needs are just WRONG.

And apparently Downie is willing to run this kind of interference for them.

Well, Morally, Legally and Ethically they are WRONG under certain circumstances. And one of the kinds of circumstances where it is WRONG to shield a confidential source is when the CRIME which has been committed IS the information received from the Source. They must behave like all Citizens must behave and cooperate with the investigated when they are the *eye-witness* to the CRIME.

As Marty Kaplan so cogently puts it: A Piss is Not a Leak.

So, these folks need to get off their First Amendment High-Horse and play by the rules that exist in the real world and under the law.

Karen on 11.20.05 @ 01:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Another GEM of the WEEK...

"...When government officials or campaign operatives go off the record to a reporter in order to smear someone, spread disinformation, lie about an opponent, stab someone in the back while wearing the cloak of anonymity, kindle a propanganda brush fire, slander critics, psych out enemies, and throw red herrings in an investigator's path, they are engaging in the dark arts of psy ops.

From Caligula to Machiavelli, from the Congo to the Gulag, deception has always been a handmaiden to power. But in our First Amendment democracy, where journalists protect sources, political liars have figured out how to game the system. Lee Atwater not only knew how to assassinate; he knew that reporters would dutifully wipe his fingerprints off the weapon. Cheney, Chalabi, Rove, Libby et al are his heirs. They're so good at it that a Bob Woodward can think a lie is a casually tossed-off piece of gossip, rather than an Oscar-worthy performance in a government-wide defamation campaign. Leaker-liars know how to work the media food chain, using Fleet Street tabloids and wingnut blogs to start contagions that infect more credible sources, which use the meta-guise of covering the rumor, the "phenomenon," rather than truth-squadding the underlying charge. They know how to orchestrate multiple and equally duplicitous confirming sources. They know they can cause true whistle-blowers horrendous damage -- ruinous legal fees, destroyed reputations, jail time -- while secure in the knowledge that their reporter-enablers will nobly decline to blow the whistle on them.

These officials aren't leaking to reporters. They're pissing on the public..."

-- Marty Kaplan A Piss Is Not a Leak

Karen on 11.20.05 @ 01:23 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's GEM Quote....

"...Cheney has branded administration opponents as hypocrites and wimps. His last blow is the fiercest:

They are unpatriotic.

The president and Cheney invoke "the troops" to shut down discussion. But the troops demand this kind of debate. Soldiers aren't in a position to be critical and shouldn't be, so their elected officials need to ask questions and argue on their behalf.

American soldiers are smart and tough enough to weather the public debate. They can handle whatever Harry Reid has to say. Plus, Dick Cheney believes in his position and has plenty of backbone, so why won't he fight the opposition on the merits?

-- John Dickerson (Slate): Cheney's Rules of Evidence:
How the vice president argues by deception.

Karen on 11.20.05 @ 10:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Dopple-Gang Universes over IRAQ...

I saw good ole Babbling Brooks in his weekly spot on the Friday edition of The News Hour spouting the same tired and pathetic lines (cited to the best of my recollection) that BushCO *has been cleared by commission after commission on pre-war intelligence and shown to have never distorted that information*...yada, yada, yada. To which Mr. Oliphant merely replied, *All the more reason to move on to Phase 2 of the investigation and see a complete review of Administration statements and whether there was any underlying intelligence to support them.*

But today, in the NY Times, we have battling Op-Ed pieces from ole Babbles and Frank Rich. And it brings up the question of:

In WHAT F**KING Dopple-Gang Universe does ole Babbles and the GOPHUCKer's view the progress and situation in IRAQ from?

Take these opposite end of the spectrum set of quotes:

"...It is true that some in the American military have concluded that the war in Iraq is unwinnable.

As a survey by the Pew Research Center suggests, most journalists and most academics think the war is unwinnable, but 64 percent of military officers believe the U.S. can prevail. Re-enlistment rates are high because most American troops believe they can create a better Iraq.

When you talk to serious, nonpartisan experts with experience on the ground, you find that most think the war is at least a 50-50 proposition.
Furthermore, almost all the experts believe that after 18 months of incompetence, the U.S. is getting its act together.
Most important, the training of Iraqi troops has been going well. Authoritative investigators like Jack Keane, the retired Army general, report that the Iraqi troops are becoming effective fighters and their morale is high.

Compared to this:

"...A USA Today/CNN/Gallup survey last week found that the percentage (52) of Americans who want to get out of Iraq fast, in 12 months or less, is even larger than the percentage (48) that favored a quick withdrawal from Vietnam when that war's casualty toll neared 54,000 in the apocalyptic year of 1970.
Mr. Bush may disdain timetables for our pullout, but, hello, there already is one, set by the Santorums of his own party: the expiration date for a sizable American presence in Iraq is Election Day 2006. As Mr. Mueller says, the decline in support for the war won't reverse itself. The public knows progress is not being made, no matter how many times it is told that Iraqis will soon stand up so we can stand down.

On the same day the Senate passed the resolution rebuking Mr. Bush on the war, Martha Raddatz of ABC News reported that "only about 700 Iraqi troops" could operate independently of the U.S. military, 27,000 more could take a lead role in combat "only with strong support" from our forces and the rest of the 200,000-odd trainees suffered from a variety of problems, from equipment shortages to an inability "to wake up when told" or follow orders.
THAT'S the alternative that has already been chosen, brought on not just by the public's irreversible rejection of the war, but also by the depleted state of our own broken military forces; they are falling short of recruitment goals across the board by as much as two-thirds, the Government Accountability Office reported last week."

The main distinction of these diametrically polar opposites in not only a complete Disconnect in the view of what IS the REALITY of the situation and sentiment on Iraq - but that Rich provides background and citations to support his contentions - Babbles merely babbles from a discredited GOP play book of tired phrases and lame assertions ONLY backed up by a Dopple-Ganger version of the REALITY in Iraq.

Or compare this statement:

"...Murtha's policy is incomprehensible and it is incomprehensible that so many Democrats are shifting toward accelerated withdrawal...."

With this:

"...One hideous consequence of the White House's Big Lie - fusing the war of choice in Iraq with the war of necessity that began on 9/11 - is that the public, having rejected one, automatically rejects the other. That's already happening. The percentage of Americans who now regard fighting terrorism as a top national priority is either in the single or low double digits in every poll...."

To Babbles and the GOPHUCKer's it's All those *Democrats.* Again, in their Dopple-Gang Universe there exist only the single party of strawmen to Stackup and Knock-down: Democrats. But this is a view crossing the entire swath of the American Electorate: Democrats, Independents and even members of the GOP party.

Ah, But we FINALLY get to something Babbles and Rich CAN Agree on:

"...Since the president doesn't give out credible information, it's no wonder Republicans are measuring success by how quickly we can get out; it's no wonder many Democrats are turning the war into a political tool to bash the president..."


"... But even if anyone was still listening to this president, it would be too little and too late. The only hope for getting Americans to focus on the war we can't escape is to clear the decks by telling the truth about the war of choice in Iraq: that it is making us less safe, not more, and that we have to learn from its mistakes and calculate the damage it has caused as we reboot and move on.

Mr. Bush is incapable of such candor..."

Despite these other disputes over Dopple-Ganger Iraq - One of the main problems is having a President who is Lacking in "Candor" and giving out "Less than Credible Information" and "not telling the truth" over Iraq.

That our Child-In-Chief is not being straight with the American public is apparently a POINT on which we ALL can Agree ON!!

Thanks Mr. Rich; Thanks Babbling Brooks: For clearing that up for me.


Karen on 11.20.05 @ 08:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Murdering Officers (and Congress-persons)

Christopher Dickey (Newsweek) has an excellent column - The Terrorist Temptation. Dickey is on point (as usual) about the phrasing of the Bush argument for Iraq as fighting terrorism with terminology like:

"... Bush started four paragraphs with the phrase “like the ideology of communism.” He longs transparently for the challenge of an Evil Empire, like the one his idol Ronald Reagan confronted, whether or not it exists.
They subscribe to some higher truth than ascertainable facts, divining the intentions of their evil adversaries and turning them into the stuff of paranoid fantasy...."

This brings to mind my long ago post about the PBS show "Sharpe's Rifles" (an adaptation of the novels by Bernard Cornwell starring Sean Bean.)

There is a part where Sergeant Harper tells Lieutenant Sharpe he'll make a good "Killing officer." When Sharpe doesn't understand, Harper explains (in his Irish brogue) :

"Oh…now that’s too bad, Sir…I thought you’d ‘ave known, coming up yerself from the ranks as ye did…there are only two kinds of officers; Killing Officers and Muuurdering Officers.

Killing Officers are poor old buggers that git you killed by accident.

Muuurdering Officers are mad, bad old buggers that git you killed on purpose, for a reason…for a country or a religion….maybe even for a flag. They're mean, murdering old buggers."

Bush is the perfect "Murdering Officer" himself as our Commander in Chief, and is succeeding in promoting more "Murdering Officers" for his Cabinet and finding them among the Non-War Veterans among the Congress.

Easy for those men who have spent their entire lives day-dreaming in the ethereal world of some "Real Politik" notions of re-ordering the Middle-east along some fantabulous Chess-Game Moves to achieve a Fantasy of Democracy/Liberation Dominoes. They can blithely order other men and women to face challenges and horrors they NEVER faced to play out these delusional grandeur aspirations and pay with their life's-blood. Leaving those real soldiers and heroes and their families to face hurts and losses they avoided all their long lives on easy-street.

But for real heroes, Like John Murtha, who spoke up to protest - they launch the war Battalion of the Swift-Boat Lying Liars to the attack. Despicable and shameful personal attacks.

And living as I do at Dennis Hastert Corner, I find Hastert's comments and remarks abominable and shameful to any of the real Veterans who fought for their Country with honor and distinction, and John Murtha in particular.

Karen on 11.19.05 @ 10:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Revoking the 'Bridge to No-Where'...???

…Or Only The Same Money down an Alaskan Sink Hole...???

"...The House's biggest accomplishment in recent days may be its decision to scratch those two notorious Alaskan bridges to nowhere, a $442 million chunk of highway pork that made a national laughing stock of the lawmakers - supposedly financial conservatives - who stuffed it into the budget.

The retreat provides a definitive example of the legislative hypocrisy now gripping Congress. It won't actually save money because the funds will be shifted to Alaska's general transportation kitty for who-knows-what disposal. Actually taking unnecessary money away from the home state of a powerful Republican senator is a lift far beyond the lawmakers' capacity..."

-- NY Times Op-Ed

So where's the real *retreat* by the GOP on that Crisco Pork Larded spending for the "Bridge to No-Where"?

It's still the same Funds rolled over into the TED STEVEN's CONGRESSIONAL OINKer-FEST ALASKA TRANSPORTATION FUND.

Just a pretend - Face-Saving Ploy - by this RePiglican Controlled Congress.

Besides they musta love all that Crisp Fried Congressional PORK funneled to their districts. (Ole Home Boy Denny included in that Oinker-parade of projects for our own Dennis Hastert Corner.)

Sue-ieeeeeee! Sue-ieee, Sue-ieeee!!! Is how ya call them RePiglican HOGs here in the Heartland.

Karen on 11.19.05 @ 08:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The 'Open Letter to Fitzgerald'...

Via firedoglake is this link to a piece by former White House Counsel - John Dean that makes some very interesting points about Fitzgerald's plenary powers of his appointment to investigate the wrongdoing of Administration Officials in the PlameGate matter about violating the non-disclosure contracts they signed regarding classified information.

But most intriguing is how Dean views this as a power to demand the revocation of the security clearances for each of these bAdmin Officials involved to protect the National Security assets of “Classified information” similar to the Teapot Dome scandal.

The Traitors in the White House Cabal need to stop *high-fiving* themselves that only Scooter Libby was indicted and only on some portion of ancillary issues of the main case of Outing a NOC CIA Agent or Espionage in disclosing and discussing this classified information with reporters.

Click on the “more” button to read further.

Karen on 11.19.05 @ 07:53 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Bishop Spong on Demented God-Idolater Pat Robertson

Christina, a television producer at Fox News writes:

"How do you respond to the Rev. Pat Robertson when he warns the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania, that God might strike them with a disaster since they voted out the School Board members who favored "Intelligent Design?"

Dear Christina,

Pat Robertson has said so many silly and ridiculous things that I wonder why anyone would pay much attention to him on any subject. He warned Orlando, Florida, that God would send a hurricane to destroy them when Orlando's decision makers added "sexual orientation" to that city's civil rights ordinance making it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a person because of race, ethnicity, gender, creed or "sexual orientation." He suggested that Hollywood would be the victim of an earthquake because that is where Ellen Degeneres works. With Jerry Falwell he agreed that the 9/11 disaster was brought upon this nation as God's judgment for harboring "feminists, abortionists, homosexuals and the American Civil Liberties Union." He suggested that the CIA should assassinate the duly elected President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. He has said that the feminist movement is about those women who want to "leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft and become lesbians." The tirade of absurdities goes on and on.

This country treasures the precious gift of free speech and Pat Robertson can obviously say any foolish and ignorant thing he wishes. When he pretends to speak in the name of God, however, I think his fellow believers have a right, indeed a necessity, to speak a word of judgment on his behavior since his words slander the Christian definition of God as Love given to us first by the author of the First Epistle of John and even more important, lived out by Jesus, who called us even to love our enemies.

I want to make only two points about this issue. First, I wonder who, other than Pat himself, designated Pat Robertson to be God's spokesperson? How dare Pat assume that the God revealed in the Jesus I serve is filled with all of Pat's peculiar prejudices. Why does he not understand that God is God and Pat Robertson is not? Why does he not see that when he tells the world with an unashamed certainty what God thinks and what God will do, he is only revealing what he thinks and what he would do if he had God's power? Pat needs to understand that he is acting out the very meaning of idolatry. He has confused God with himself.

Second, some one needs to inform Pat Robertson that the idea of God sitting on a throne above the clouds manipulating the weather in order to punish sinners is so primitive and so naïve that it is staggering to the educated imagination. It is bad enough that his mind cannot embrace the thought of Charles Darwin from the 19th century, but Pat has yet to embrace the thought of Copernicus from the 16th century or Galileo from the 17th century. No educated person today believes that the earth is the center of the universe and that God lives above the sky, playing with low-pressure systems and planning revenge on those who are not believers in Intelligent Design. Indeed why would anyone be drawn to the demonic deity who emerges in Pat's thinking and teaching? It is surely not a God of Love who punishes New Orleans' poorest citizens with a hurricane that New Orleans' wealthiest citizens could and did manage to escape at least with their lives, because they had cars. Did God kill the poor in New Orleans in order to send a message to New Orleans's prostitutes and those who create its raucous nightlife? Is that a rational concept? Did God cause two tectonic plates to collide under the Indian Ocean because there were some 350,000 evil people, with fully one-third of them children, whom God desired to kill in a tsunami wave? Is that how God communicates divine displeasure? Is that a God worthy of worship? Were the 3000 who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 or the 2100 members of our Armed Forces who have thus far died in Iraq during this war somehow worthy of this ultimate punishment either because of their own evil or because God sacrificed them to send a message to someone else? Those ideas are so ludicrous as to be laughable, except for the fact that for anyone to suggest such incredible things is still painfully hurtful to those who are the victims of both natural and human disasters to say nothing of their surviving loved ones. I, as a Christian, am embarrassed by the public face that Pat Robertson puts on the religious tradition to which my life is dedicated.

I have known the Robertson family for a long time. His father was the Democratic Senator in my state of Virginia from 1946, when he was first appointed to succeed Senator Carter Glass who had died in office. He was re-elected by the people of Virginia in 1948, 1954, and 1960. In the Democratic Primary in 1966 he was defeated in a very close vote by my first cousin William Belser Spong, Jr., who went on to fill that seat in the United States Senate. Pat is a 1955 graduate of the Law School at Yale University and received a Master in Divinity degree from New York Theological Seminary in1959. He cannot possibly be as dumb as he sounds in his wild and thoughtless utterances. If ignorance is not his excuse, then one has to wonder what motivates him. In academic theological circles he is treated as a buffoon. No one takes his thought seriously. It is a pity that some people do actually believe the things he says, but they are far fewer than he imagines. It is an even greater pity that the news media think that his continued utterances are worthy of any public attention at all.

-- John Shelby Spong

[Via an e-mail newsletter, so no URL link is available.]

Karen on 11.19.05 @ 07:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, I've Said This Before...

...So How could I resist this as a Statement for the Real Bush Legacy:

worstpresident (23k image)

Just about says it ALL.

When this history is written, it IS Going to be the WORST PRESIDENT EVAH-AHHHHHH as the Child-In-Chief's Prime Legacy.

Unless of course ya run into Steven Colbert of The Colbert Report and have to answer his purposely absurd poll of CIC: "GREAT" or "GREATEST" President.

Hahahhahahahahahaha! Steven yer such a STITCH!!


[Hat tip to Michael Froomkin at Discourse.net

And one of the Discourse commentators who says:
"The reason that W is the worst is because he blends all of the characteristics that our worst presidents have had into one seamless mélange. This administration’s corruption and incompetence surpasses that of Warren G. Harding and U.S. Grant. This administration’s single-minded and thoroughgoing dedication to the interests of the plutocracy exceeds Reagan and Coolidge. This administration's grandiosity and aggrandizement goes beyond Jefferson. This administration's rejection of science, policy and arrant anti-intellectualism is greater than Andrew Jackson or Dwight Eisenhower. Finally, This administration's willingness to harass, punish and silence its critics has not analgoue in political history -- except maybe Nixon. At the same time, W’s misguided foreign policy transports him from the realm of mere clumsy ineffectuality in which presidents like Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson and Jimmy Carter live. I’m not entirely sure we have an analogue for W – not without reaching back into Rome for Nero…

Well stated!!! :-)]

Karen on 11.18.05 @ 04:19 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, Part II [Bonus Twofer Edition]:

I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.
--Rep. John Murtha (D-PA, and a Marine veteran), on noted chickenhawk draft dodger and pathological liar Dick Cheney

John Murtha's courageous call for American troops to leave Iraq is the right policy at the right time. The Bush chickenhawks already are impugning Murtha's patriotism, but when you have a purple heart and a silver star compared to a President with a spotty attendance record with the National Guard and a Vice President with five deferments, that dog don't hunt.
--Larry C. Johnson

Len on 11.18.05 @ 08:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

You know, Caller ID is starting to be a real hindrance in my line of work.
--Cecil Adams

Josh Marshall discovered that a while ago:

Remember Rep. Heather Wilson (R) of New Mexico?

She was the one who spent weeks early this year trying to use word games to bamboozle her constituents about what her position was on Social Security. (See this post from February when it finally occurred to me to try calling Wilson's press secretary from my new cell phone rather than my office number and -- voila! -- the guy who never seemed to be at the phone for days on end suddenly answered.)
I'll have to file that trick away for future reference.

Len on 11.18.05 @ 08:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Heard this on the radio this morning....

but I like Chris Kromm's take on the situation:

The New York Times this morning highlights the story of North Carolinian Robert J. Stein, "who was charged yesterday with accepting kickbacks and bribes as a comptroller and financial officer for the American occupation authority in Iraq was hired despite having served prison time for felony fraud in the 1990's."

I'm all for giving ex-cons a second chance, but putting them in control over $82 million in cash earmarked for Iraqi rebuilding projects? Can't be good:
But the list of charges does little justice to the astonishing brazenness of the accusations described in the complaint, including a wire transfer of a $140,000 bribe, arranged by Mr. Bloom, to buy real estate for Mr. Stein in North Carolina. The affidavit also says that $65,762.63 was spent to buy cars for Mr. Stein and his wife (he bought a Chevrolet; she a Toyota), $44,471 for home improvements and $48,073 for jewelry, out of $258,000 sent directly to the Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union into accounts controlled by the Steins. [...]

Much of this money was intended for Iraqi construction projects like building a new police academy in the ancient city of Babylon and rehabilitating the library in Karbala, the southern city that is among the holiest sites for Shiite Muslims.
Actually, it may even be more brazen than that. According to the radio report this morning, Stein would embezzle money from the Coalition Provisional Authority, and then pay it over to the United States District Court in North Carolina to pay the restitution ordered by the court as part of his sentence in his fraud case. Y'know, you just gotta admire sheer balls of that magnitude.

Of course, in the rehabilitation arena, it helps if you're a rich white guy. Had Stein been a poor black man who'd been to prison for dealing drugs, what do you want to bet he'd have remained unemployed?

Len on 11.18.05 @ 08:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More About that Non-Existent Absolute Reporter Priviledge...

Yet another Court has ruled on the issue of what kind of *qualified* priviledge rules govern in this case and when reporters MUST comply with a Court's ruling to discuss their sources: From Wen Ho Lee v Dept. of Justice (pages 4 & 5).

"...In August of 2002, Dr. Lee issued subpoenas to journalists James Risen and Jeff Gerth of The New York Times, Robert Drogin of The Los Angeles Times, H. Josef Hebert of the Associated Press, and Pierre Thomas of CNN seeking testimony and documents concerning the identity of the leakers. Id. Each of these journalists filed motions to quash their subpoenas on the grounds of a reporter’s privilege to refuse to reveal confidential news sources.

On October 9, 2003, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued an order denying each of the five journalists’ motions to quash and ordering them to sit for depositions and to “truthfully answer questions as to the identity of any officer or agent of defendants . . . who provided information to them directly about Wen Ho Lee, and as to the nature of the information so provided.”

In rejecting the journalists’ assertions of privilege, the Court relied on the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Zerilli v. Smith, 656 F.2d 705 (D.C. Cir. 1981), which “laid out guidelines for balancing First Amendment interests with a litigant’s need for information when a plaintiff seeks to subpoena a non-party journalist in the context of a civil action.” Lee, 413 F.3d at 56-57. Zerilli recognized “a limited privilege upon which a reporter might withhold testimony on First Amendment grounds if it would compromise a confidential news source.” However, a plaintiff can overcome this qualified privilege and compel a journalist to reveal the identity of his or her confidential sources if

(1) the information sought goes “to the heart of” the plaintiff’s case and

(2) the plaintiff has exhausted “every reasonable alternative source of information” before seeking testimony from the journalist(s).

[Zerilli, 656 F.2d at 713; cf. Lee v. Dep’t of Justice, No. 04-5301, 2005 WL 2874940, at *2-3 (D.C. Cir. Nov. 2, 2005) (Tatel and Garland, JJ., dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc) (arguing for a different interpretation of Zerilli) (“Lee (Denial of Rehearing)”). ]

Judge Jackson determined that Dr. Lee had clearly met both Zerilli requirements to overcome the journalists’ qualified privilege, and that at this stage in the litigation “only [the journalists] can testify as to whether defendants were the sources for the various news stories...”

Walter Pincus has refused to comply with this ruling of the Court and is now under a Contempt of Court Citation and a fine of $500 per day (but no jail time is involved in a civil case).

But the REAL issue is that there is NO ABOLUTE, UN-QUALIFED Priviledge for a Reporter. They have no legal standing to refuse to reveal the confidentiality of a source when ordered to do so by a Court under the balancing test of the First Amendment protections as stated above.

And these reporters, like Bob Woodward, Walter Pincus or Judy Miller, who think they have some ability to make up the rules to suit their own individual needs are just WRONG. Morally, Legally and Ethically WRONG under certain circumstances. So, they need to get off their First Amendment High-Horse and play by the rules that exist in the real world.

Karen on 11.18.05 @ 07:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And there's even more about the Sony-BMG rootkit....

As if all the other organic matter hitting the fan weren't enough. Now it appears that Sony (or its minion) is "protecting" Sony's copyrights by..... infringing the rights of Open Source developers:

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Controversial copy-protection software used by music publisher Sony BMG on music CDs appears to have tapped an open source project, raising questions about copyrights, software experts said on Friday.

The XCP program, developed by British software firm First4Internet and used by Sony BMG to restrict copying and sharing of music CDs, is already highly controversial because it acts like virus software and hides deep inside a computer where it leaves the backdoor open for malicious hackers.

Sony BMG earlier this week said it would recall some 4.7 million CDs with the software, after the discovery of the first computer viruses last week that took advantage of the weakness.

The XCP program will have installed itself on a Windows-operated personal computer when consumers want to play 49 title CDs from Sony BMG. The programme forces consumers to use a music player that comes with the program.

This music player contains components from an open source project, an MP3 player called LAME, it emerged.

"Multiple software components on the CD have references to the LAME open source MP3 code," Finnish software developer Matti Nikki said in an e-mail.

After unraveling the code, others found similar evidence.

"We can confirm that at least 5 functions in the XCP software are identical to functions in LAME," said Thomas Dullien at security software firm Saber Security in Bochum, Germany, which specializes in the analysis of complex software.

Open source software, if used, needs to be identified as such, so that it can be freely shared with others. Developers on Slashdot.org and other Internet bulletin boards could not find an open source reference in the copy-protection software.

Len on 11.18.05 @ 07:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

[Bill O'Reilly] has always been viewed as a guy who is, you know, severral lightbulbs short of a marquee.
--Keith Olbermann

Len on 11.18.05 @ 06:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The first half of Walk the Line chronicles [Johnny] Cash's rise to stardom after working his way from gospel to rockabilly under the tutelage of Sam Phillips (Dallas Roberts). And along the way we get terrific impersonations of Elvis Presley (Tyler Hilton), Jerry Lee Lewis (Waylon Malloy Payne), Carl Perkins (Johnny Holiday) and, of course, June Carter (Reese Witherspoon)—onstage, in the wings, and in the caravan on a Sun Records tour. You'd get your money's worth from that show!
--David Edelstein

Len on 11.18.05 @ 05:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

How appropriate....

According to Bernie Miklasz's column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last Tuesday, Albert Pujols was awarded the National League Most Valuable Player award on the feastday of St. Albert the Great.

Reason enough to add "Albert the Great" to his canonical list of nicknames, I think. :-)

Len on 11.17.05 @ 06:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]


From AMERICAblog:

The Washington Times, you may know, is an "independent" newspaper that is basically the mouthpiece of the Republican party. For that reason, it sometimes gets inside scoops as to what the GOP is thinking, and even what's going on inside the White House. For that reason, their latest story on Bush is extremely disturbing:
President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.
Matt Drudge adds on his site
[While AMERICAblog attributes this to Drudge; a glance at Drudge shows that in fact he's quoting the complete Washington Times/Insight piece, which is behind a subscription firewall. --LRC]:
The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.
So basically Bush is melting down. (Or, at the very least, the number one propaganda organ of the GOP wants us to think Bush is losing it - that's just bizarre on its face, and shows had bad things are for Bush, and the party.) This is rather disturbing in view of the increased chatter about Bush, an alcoholic who never sought treatment, now reportedly drinking again.

This man is running our country. And he won't speak to anyone - ANYONE - other than Condi Rice, his mom, and Karen Hughes? That leaves out the entire Dept of Defense - kind of important during war time - the CIA, every other agency and the entire White House staff.

It honestly sounds like he's losing control.

And he's in charge of our country.

Not just worst president ever. But quickly becoming scariest president ever.

Len on 11.17.05 @ 12:43 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And yesterday in "Reel Thoughts"....

James Berardinelli addressed the important question: In what order do you watch all six episodes of Star Wars (now that you own all 6 on DVD, right)? (If you chase that pointer, scroll to the entry for November 16, 2005.) Berardinelli's answer (with which I agree):

My advice, as it happens, is the same as Lucas'. Yes, there are issues with watching the films in the order of I, II, III, IV, V, and VI - namely in the realm of special effects and production values. Lucas can "dress up" Star Wars all he wants, but it still looks more primitive than Revenge of the Sith. But will an 8-year old being exposed to Star Wars for the first time notice? Possibly. Will he/she care? Less likely. The problem with showing the movies to a child in production order is that it will be confusing. Why show the story out-of-order when it can now be shown from start to finish. Children, even bright ones, don't do well with non-linear storytelling. Why needlessly complicate matters? When they're old enough to understand, you can explain the ins-and-outs of why IV, V, and VI look a lot different that I, II, and III.

For my part, I would love to find a block of time when I could watch all six movies back-to-back. It could be done in one day. But finding the time is the problem. I remember back in the early 1990s when I had a ritual on the day before Christmas that involved the original trilogy, which I owned on laserdisc. I had a half-day at my "day job," which left the afternoon free. So I came home, ate lunch, then watched Star Wars and Empire. After dinner, I finished it off with Return of the Jedi, Ewoks and all. Good luck finding that kind of free time today.

Bottom line: watch the movies however you want. But if you're introducing a virgin to the series, stick with the sequential order: I, II, III, IV, V, and VI. If nothing else, after Episodes I & II, you can rightfully claim that the best is yet to come. And kids generally like the Ewoks, so they won't be as bothered by VI as I am.

Len on 11.17.05 @ 12:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Coming soon to The Sneeze (Half zine. Half blog. Half not good with fractions):

A new logo for "Steve, Don't Eat It!".

And if we're lucky (and Steve stays on schedule), a new SDEI by Thanksgiving.

Len on 11.17.05 @ 12:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The latest in the Sony/BMG rootkit debacle....

Apparently, the uninstaller poses even more of a security risk than the original rootkit did.

Damn. One can only hope Sony/BMG's reputation (and sales) suffer so greatly that they wind up going out of business. This whole situation has been marked by world class stupid behavior on Sony's part.

Len on 11.17.05 @ 09:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

After all the agonizing in the academic blogosphere....

over the University of Chicago's denial of tenure to political scientist/academic blogger Daniel Drezner, I've just learned that there has been a happy resolution to the situation: Drezner received (and apparently accepted) a tenured appointment at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts.

Len on 11.17.05 @ 08:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Science Fans...

Even another Dali is a FAN of Science:

The Dali Lama, Tenzin Gyatso:

"...If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.

For many years now, on my own and through the Mind and Life Institute, which I helped found, I have had the opportunity to meet with scientists to discuss their work. World-class scientists have generously coached me in subatomic physics, cosmology, psychology, biology.

It is our discussions of neuroscience, however, that have proved particularly important. From these exchanges a vigorous research initiative has emerged, a collaboration between monks and neuroscientists, to explore how meditation might alter brain function.

The goal here is not to prove Buddhism right or wrong - or even to bring people to Buddhism - but rather to take these methods out of the traditional context, study their potential benefits, and share the findings with anyone who might find them helpful.

After all, if practices from my own tradition can be brought together with scientific methods, then we may be able to take another small step toward alleviating human suffering.
I believe that we must find a way to bring ethical considerations to bear upon the direction of scientific development, especially in the life sciences. By invoking fundamental ethical principles, I am not advocating a fusion of religious ethics and scientific inquiry.

Rather, I am speaking of what I call "secular ethics," which embrace the principles we share as human beings: compassion, tolerance, consideration of others, the responsible use of knowledge and power. These principles transcend the barriers between religious believers and non-believers; they belong not to one faith, but to all faiths...."

Now if the "other faiths" could see how ALL faiths and beliefs can benefit from the knowledge and potential in "Science" and leave the pretend-psuedo sciences OUT of the discussions - We'd All be better off for it.


Karen on 11.17.05 @ 07:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Major League Conflicts of Interest...

Jack Shafer of Slate writes:

It's not a cover up - but what the hell is it?:

"...But first a digression: What sort of journalist publishes a "statement" in his paper as opposed to writing a story? What sort of journalist refuses to talk to his own newspaper when making such a revelation, as Woodward did? Today's story reads, "Woodward declined to elaborate on the statement he released to the Post late yesterday afternoon and publicly last night. He would not answer any questions, including those not governed by his confidentiality agreement with source."

But wait, I have additional digressions! What sort of journalist, even one writing a book—Woodward is always working on a book—withholds blockbuster information about a major investigation, prosecution, and First Amendment battle from his editors until the 11th hour, as Woodward did? According to the Post story, he only told them last month. What sort of journalist doesn't use the information he's had since mid-June 2003 to break bigger news about the subject? Was he worried about the legal exposure his bosses might suffer? Or was he holding on to it—and his access to top officials in an unfolding story—for his book? End of digression. (Or maybe I should refashion my digression into a "statement" and have Slate publish it.)...

But I'll tell ya what it is...several Major League Conflicts of Interest and despicable behavior.

I sent Dan Froomkin (WaPo) a letter about Bob Woodward to pass along to the editors about this. Click on the "more" button to read this letter.

Karen on 11.17.05 @ 07:16 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Buffy: We have a marching jazz band?
Oz: Yeah, but, you know, since the best jazz is improvisational, we'd be going off in all directions, banging into floats... scary.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer [TV series]

Len on 11.17.05 @ 07:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Chain, Chain, Chai-ai-ain...

...Chain of Fools...

Oooooh My - Gonna have to update my chart of Plame-Gate leakers and leaks.

And Hope for yet more Holiday Fitzmas indictments if Fitz can determine anymore "Senior White House Officials" who *forgot* to mention those Teensie-Tiny details of WHAT Reporters they might have passingly referenced Valerie Plames NOC status at the CIA in the weeks BEFORE it appeared in Carrion-Bob's column.

Here is yet another good rundown from the NY Times with a new list of the Major Players (Leakers, Possible-leakers and Reporters-leaked-to, and other Informed-Officials). This fleshes out the latest possible chains to the Flow-Chart of Gushing-Geyser of Leaks from the White House on this one topic.

It's beginning to look like everyone at the White House Higher Eschalons [and their Grandmothers] got the *message* to pass the *Plame gossip* (as if the covert status of a NOC CIA agent's identity is really just more "Fair Game Gossip") to every Tom, Dick and MSM Media Whore available. [And Dan Froomkin (WaPo) has this good piece on the issues and what other bloggers are saying about Woodward's Journalistic *integrity.* HaHaHaHaHa. "Mr. Run Amok!!!" ]

But too bad for Scooter, he's still a LIAR and a TRAITOR, and this new info doesn't exonerate him in the slightest for those prevarications. :-(

Karen on 11.17.05 @ 04:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In space, no one can hear you say "Awww"

Paizo is selling Alien plushes from Palisades Toys, including chestbursters and facehuggers.

Brock on 11.16.05 @ 10:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Apropos Karen's post about the Sony rootkit....

The rootkit may be bad, but Sony's End User License Agreement is worse. From Fred von Lohmann at the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

If you thought XCP "rootkit" copy-protection on Sony-BMG CDs was bad, perhaps you'd better read the 3,000 word (!) end-user license agreement (aka "EULA") that comes with all these CDs.

First, a baseline. When you buy a regular CD, you own it. You do not "license" it. You own it outright. You're allowed to do anything with it you like, so long as you don't violate one of the exclusive rights reserved to the copyright owner. So you can play the CD at your next dinner party (copyright owners get no rights over private performances), you can loan it to a friend (thanks to the "first sale" doctrine), or make a copy for use on your iPod (thanks to "fair use"). Every use that falls outside the limited exclusive rights of the copyright owner belongs to you, the owner of the CD.

Now compare that baseline with the world according to the Sony-BMG EULA, which applies to any digital copies you make of the music on the CD:
1. If your house gets burgled, you have to delete all your music from your laptop when you get home. That's because the EULA says that your rights to any copies terminate as soon as you no longer possess the original CD.

2. You can't keep your music on any computers at work. The EULA only gives you the right to put copies on a "personal home computer system owned by you."

3. If you move out of the country, you have to delete all your music. The EULA specifically forbids "export" outside the country where you reside.

4. You must install any and all updates, or else lose the music on your computer. The EULA immediately terminates if you fail to install any update. No more holding out on those hobble-ware downgrades masquerading as updates.

5. Sony-BMG can install and use backdoors in the copy protection software or media player to "enforce their rights" against you, at any time, without notice. And Sony-BMG disclaims any liability if this "self help" crashes your computer, exposes you to security risks, or any other harm.

6. The EULA says Sony-BMG will never be liable to you for more than $5.00. That's right, no matter what happens, you can't even get back what you paid for the CD.

7. If you file for bankruptcy, you have to delete all the music on your computer. Seriously.

8. You have no right to transfer the music on your computer, even along with the original CD.

9. Forget about using the music as a soundtrack for your latest family photo slideshow, or mash-ups, or sampling. The EULA forbids changing, altering, or make derivative works from the music on your computer.
So this is what Sony-BMG thinks we should be allowed to do with the music on the CDs that we purchase from them? No word yet about whether Sony-BMG will be offering a "patch" for this legalese rootkit. I'm not holding my breath.

Len on 11.16.05 @ 01:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Giving credit where it's due....

I'm not a basketball fan, so I don't normally pay much attention to the Memphis Grizzlies. However, a random link from The Hardball Times sent me to SportsBiz, a sports business/law/economics blog. While there, I stumbled across The Memphis Griz Make a Difference, which details some of the way that the Grizzlies apparently give a bit back to the community here.

That still doesn't necessarily mean that the financing deal and other shenanigans that brought us the Grizzlies and the FedEx Forum is a good thing, but it's good to know that the community is getting something back. And that the Grizzlies are showing a better public face than the bling encrusted, hip-hop gangsta wannabe face that seems to associate itself with the NBA whenever the league comes to my attention (which is rarely...).

UPDATE: Commenter Mad Molecule points us to a New York Times article which points out that while all NBA franchises have their charitable programs, the Memphis Grizzlies are in the upper echelons of the league (and apparently, this is a history that extends back to the franchise's earlier days in Vancouver). Mad also expresses satisfaction at the Grizzlies' recent on-court performance. That doesn't really matter much to me, but anything that keeps my readership happy is all right by me.

Len on 11.16.05 @ 11:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sick pun o'the Day:

If a woman allows her tattoo artist to grope her chest in exchange for a free tattoo, could that be considered "tit for tat?"

Len on 11.16.05 @ 10:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

This is not what you want to see...

when you've just made that desperate deposit that spells the difference between "good check" and "rubber check":

From a fascinating display of Windows blue screens (most, but not all, the infamous "blue screen of death") at daimyo.org.

It's surprising, some of the places that they're apparently running Windows....

Len on 11.16.05 @ 10:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Derailed is another of those movies trying vainly to surprise you at every turn, but in this case you will anticipate the key twist so early you can almost see it from your driveway before you leave the house.

In fact, Jennifer Aniston told
Entertainment Weekly her friend (and I suspect there's only one) figured it out from the trailer. I don't know what's worse. That you can figure out the twist from the trailer or that Jennifer Aniston told you this in Entertainment Weekly before the movie opened! As Brad Pitt reportedly said, "I don't pick 'em because they're smarter than me."
--Mark Ramsey [MovieJuice, on the film

Len on 11.16.05 @ 08:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Just What Couch and *Mouse* Potatoes Need to Hear...

"Sorry, couch potatoes -- the verdict is in: People who exercise regularly really do live longer.

In fact, people who get a good workout almost daily can add nearly four years to their life spans, according to the first study to quantify the impact of physical activity this way.

The researchers looked at records of more than 5,000 middle-aged and elderly Americans and found that those who had moderate to high levels of activity lived 1.3 to 3.7 years longer than those who got little exercise, largely because they put off developing heart disease -- the nation's leading killer. Men and women benefited about equally.


In addition, recent studies have also found that exercise has payoffs for the mind, too. It has been shown to improve overall well-being, reduce stress and depression, and cut the risk of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, several experts said.

"The benefits of physical activity extend well beyond the effects on longevity," said JoAnn E. Manson of Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The trouble is, many people seem to ignore the evidence, government recommendations and public health campaigns to be physically active.

Most Americans still fail to exercise regularly, and the number who exercise in their leisure time has been dropping, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Franco and others noted that this and other studies show that people do not have to be exercise fanatics to reap the benefits. Adding just a little activity to the daily routine can have major benefits.

"What we're talking about is small changes," Hill said. "We're telling people to get out and walk more. Fifteen, 20 or 30 minutes of walking each day is probably enough."

-- WaPo


Karen on 11.16.05 @ 05:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Woodward Crawls Out of the PlameGate Woodwork...

From the Washington Post we learn this:

"...In a more than two-hour deposition, [Bob] Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday...

Citing a confidentiality agreement in which the source freed Woodward to testify but would not allow him to discuss their conversations publicly, Woodward and Post editors refused to disclose the official's name or provide crucial details about the testimony. Woodward did not share the information with Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. until last month, and the only Post reporter [Walter Pincus] whom Woodward said he remembers telling in the summer of 2003 does not recall the conversation taking place."

While there are several *tantalizing tid-bits* in this latest revelation from Woodward, as the WaPo notes, it doesn't really change the Scooter Libby indictment with charges of lying under oath and obstruction of justice (howevermuch Scooter's lawyer, Mr. Jeffress, wants to spin this new factoid and present legal P.R. puffery on behalf of his client.)

There also seems to be some WaPo supposition that "this changes everything" IF Woodward was the first journalist to learn this information about Valerie Plame from an official government source.

In actuality, this still changes Nothing as to my previously discussed possibilities chain of leaks and the resultant harm flowing via the Novak article.

It may add more potential players to the overal leaking-pool of "Senior Government Officials" and increase the option for more indictments, but it hardly makes it any less likely Scooter is LYING and Obstructing Justice as alleged by Fitzgerald.

So, Keep gather the facts Fitz, and Protect your case from the MSM, The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones (among others) seeking to undermine your ability to ferret out the entire sordid world of these bottom-feeders threatening our National Security with their despicable actions and heinous politically-driven motives.

Karen on 11.16.05 @ 04:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

All Hail Prince Albert the Great....

Congratulations to St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who won his first of what I'm sure will be many Most Valuable Player awards of his career. Pujols won the 2005 National League MVP award, beating out Atlanta centerfielder Andruw Jones and Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee for the honor.

Other Cardinals making the balloting: pitcher Chris Carpenter (8th overall), shortstop David Eckstein (21st overall), and centerfielder Jim Edmonds (26th overall).

Interesting Factoid o'the Day: It seems every time I look at Albert's stat card at Baseball Reference, they add yet another nickname to his growing list of nicknames. Now, the canonical list seems to be: Prince Albert, Phat Albert, The Machine, and El Hombre. I'm still surprised that for such a relentlessly Catholic city as St. Louis, "Albert the Great" (or better yet, "Albertus Magnus") hasn't made the cut yet.

Len on 11.15.05 @ 03:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Great Days in American Cultural History:

Today is the 49th anniversary of the film debut of an obscure Memphis singer: Elvis Presley.

[Love Me Tender, Elvis's first movie, was released on November 15, 1956.]

Len on 11.15.05 @ 12:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush's Iraq PR Initiative--The Short Form:

Len on 11.15.05 @ 12:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Well, I guess that settles that.

"We do not torture," President Bush said on Monday. Never mind all those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib. Never mind all those torture stories from Guantanamo Bay. Never mind the 2002 Justice Department memo that sought to justify torture. Never mind reports of U.S. officials sending detainees to other countries for torture. Never mind Dick Cheney lobbying to exempt the CIA from rules prohibiting torture.

"We do not torture," said the president. And that's that, right? I mean, if you can't believe the Bush administration, who can you believe? No torture. Period, end of sentence.

But . . . What does it say to you that the claim even has to be made?
--Leonard Pitts

Len on 11.15.05 @ 11:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Here's the GOP making its own reality....

I don't watch Meet the Pest Press, so I missed this one:

MR. RUSSERT: But, Mr. Chairman, when you look at what is going on in Washington, in terms of the president's agenda--here's Bob Novak, conservative columnist: "The consequences may be profound"-- talking about the elections in Jersey and Virginia. "As his approval ratings dipped, Bush increasingly has been treated in Congress as a lame duck. The Virginia outcome increases the propensity of Republican senators and House members not only to avoid their president on the campaign trail but also to ignore his legislative proposals."

Social Security: shelved. Drilling in the arctic: shelved. Budget cuts in the House: put aside.

J.D. Hayworth in Arizona said he wouldn't want the president to campaign for him in Arizona. Anne Northup in Kentucky said it wouldn't be a--she hasn't decided right now, but wants to find out whether it would be a good idea. Friday in Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum stayed in another part of the state when the president went up to Wilkes-Barre. And look at these numbers. This is what the voters say. Preference for 2006 congressional candidates, Republican-controlled Congress, 37; Democrats, 48. Our congressional Republicans, "Do they have the same priorities as you for the country?" Same priorities, yes, 24; no, 58. "In which issues do you prefer the Democrats over the Republicans?" Environment, gas prices, health care, Social Security, education, reducing deficits, energy policy, economy, government spending, taxes, trade issues, foreign policy, abortion, immigration, ethics in government, and Iraq--16 of the 19 issues we presented to the people, they chose the Democrats. Your party's in trouble?

MR. MEHLMAN: Tim, usually, when I get a poll like that, I will fire the pollster. That's my response that I usually do to that.
Eagle? Turkey? Had Mehlman been around way back then, he'd have wanted the ostrich to be our national bird.

Thanks to Kossack Bill in Portland, Maine for the pointer. (If you chase that pointer, read the beginning of that post. Bill is a gay man, and in Maine the electorate rejected a referendum to repeal a previously enacted gay rights law. Bill has a few excellent words on how it feels to exercise his newly won rights....)

Len on 11.15.05 @ 11:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Complaning about not having enough disk space?

Qwitcherbitchin' and get one of these.

[Holy useless bits, Batman! One petabyte of information? And I can remember when a 10 MB hard drive was considered more storage than anyone would ever need....]

Len on 11.15.05 @ 08:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I knew that....

but had forgotten it.

In yesterday's rundown of the Memphis Flyer's selections of the "Best Memphis Blogs", I mentioned that Rachel "and the City" Hurley kicked ass and took names, inasmuch as you could say she came in both first and second in the Readers' Choice voting (her main blog was first, and Scenestars, an MP3 blog with which Rachel is involved, came in tied for second).

However, I should have remembered that Rachel is also connected with the blog that Jackson Baker labelled "Best Memphis Blog". Let's let The Pesky Fly himself explain:

The real kudos: Rachel of Rachel and the City fame won the Flyer's reader's poll for best blog, TFT was a staff pick. Rach also designed The Flypaper Theory's sleek new look, so I'd say it was a double dip cone for our girl in the city.
Mega-kudos to Rachel....

Len on 11.15.05 @ 07:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I don't decorate for the holidays....

but I've just become very inclined to make an exception if I can get this. Heheheheheheheh. Just my kinda tree.

Hat tip to my favorite "industriously quirky, self-described 'libertarian'".

[There. I gave into temptation. Now maybe I can ignore it from here on out....]

Len on 11.15.05 @ 07:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

For the Ethically Challenged White House...

Tom Engelhardt (Tomdispatch.com) Has this Hillarious Musing on the White House Ethic’s classes – and a few Ethical Questions for this Ethically Challenged bAdministration.

Click on the “more” button to read this GEM.


Karen on 11.15.05 @ 07:26 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

The Money Quote of the Week

"..It was welcome news, therefore, when on November 7 the Supreme Court announced over strenuous Bush administration objections that it will review a challenge to the legality of Bush's military commissions. This review is arguably premature, since the military commissions have not yet convicted, or acquitted, anyone. And the case does not involve interrogation practices. But the justices seem to have figured out that Bush and Cheney need to be whacked with a two-by-four at every opportunity to remind them that they are not above the law.

-- Stuart Taylor (National Journal): On This Issue, Bush and Cheney Need Adult Supervision.

Yeah, I'd like to get the opportunity to participate in a little of that "Whacking" with a two-by-four right upside CIC and Dick-Yourself's pointy little craniums. And more besides with some of that Legal Whacking TOO!


Karen on 11.15.05 @ 07:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Watching Bush swirl....

Josh Marshall draws the picture for us:

Courtesy of the good compilers at pollingreport.com, here is a listing of the last nine public polls. Here we list the organization, followed by the date, followed by the approval rating in bold ...
CNN/USA Today/Gallup 11/11-13/05 37
Newsweek 11/10-11/05 36
FOX/Opinion Dynamics RV 11/8-9/05 36
AP-Ipsos * 11/7-9/05 37
NBC/Wall Street Journal 11/4-7/05 38
Pew 11/3-6/05 36
AP-Ipsos * 10/31 - 11/2/05 37
ABC/Washington Post 10/30 - 11/2/05 39
CBS 10/30 - 11/1/05 35
Pretty much a consensus, ain't it?
I should be ashamed of indulging so in schadenfreude, but... I'm not.

Len on 11.15.05 @ 07:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Pet Peeve Time

If you're going to use the expression, "beg the question...", use it correctly, dammit!

Len on 11.15.05 @ 06:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The case for manipulating the intelligence....

is ably provided by Kevin Drum in a post yesterday. Chase the pointer for the details. But give close attention to Kevin's summary of the true issue here:

One final word on this: the issue here is not who was right and who was wrong, or even whether the overall weight of the evidence was sufficient to justify the war. It would have been perfectly reasonable for the White House to present all the evidence pro and con and then use that evidence to make the strongest possible case for war. But that's not what they did. Instead, they suppressed any evidence that might have thrown doubt on their arguments, making it impossible for the public to evaluate what they were saying. In fact, by abusing the classification process to keep these dissents secret, they even made it impossible for senators who knew the truth to say anything about it in public.

This is not the way to market a war. It's certainly not the way to market a war that requires long term support from citizens in a democracy. But that's how they marketed it anyway.

Len on 11.15.05 @ 06:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gotta get back to basics....

Because of circumstances beyond my control (for the most part), I've been spending way too much time in Windows XP at home (basically, some work projects that I take home demand use of software that is Windows specific, and in my free time I've been replaying the 1944 MLB season in Out of the Park Baseball 6.5, which is also a Windows specific program). But I've just stumbled across a comprehensive review of Mandriva Linux 2006, and I see I'm way overdue to make my annual contribution to the French economy, and to spend much more time in the Open Source Community. The review includes some screenshots, and I have to say that the KDE desktop looks sweet....

Check it out. I've been a very happy Mandrake Linux user since Mandrake 8.0 ("Mandriva" is a "rebranding" of Mandrake, occasioned because a) Mandrake acquired Lycoris and Connictiva, and b) The Company-Formerly-Known-As-Mandrake was stupid enough to sue the Hearst syndicate in order to get Hearst to "rebrand" their classic comic strip character, "Mandrake the Magician", and the court ordered them to rebrand instead), and I can testify that it's about as close to an idiot proof Linux distribution that you're going to find (i.e., you don't need to be a geek to live happily ever after with Mandriva).

Len on 11.15.05 @ 06:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Shame on Lindsey Graham....

who either lied to the Senate, or who else desperately needs a refresher course in the law of habeas corpus.

As Emily Bazelon points out in Slate yesterday, Graham had this to say in support of his rider stripping the right of "enemy combatants" to seek habeas relief:

Here is the one thing I can tell you for sure as a military lawyer. A POW or an enemy combatant facing law of armed conflict charges has not been given the right of habeas corpus for 200 years because our own people in our own military facing court-martials, who could be sentenced to death, do not have the right of habeas corpus. It is about military law. I am not changing anything. I am getting us back to what we have done for 200 years.
Well, there's just two problems with this statement.

1) Enemy combatants have been allowed to seek habeas corpus relief from the actions of military commissions since at least the Civil War. Two important cases involving habeas relief sought by "enemy combatants": Ex parte Milligan, 71 US 2 (1866) (Confederate sympathizer), and Ex parte Quirin, 317 US 1 (1942) (German saboteurs).

2) U.S. servicemembers can avail themselves of habeas corpus relief, and it doesn't take much work to find U.S. Supreme Court opinions where the court considers an appeal from a lower court decision on a service member's petition for habeas relief. Just a few cases (all within the past 200 years): In re Grimley, 137 U.S. 147 (1890), Humphrey v. Smith, 336 U.S. 695 (1949), Parker, Warden, et al. v. Levy 417 U.S. 733 (1974).

I'll assume that Senator Graham didn't deliberately lie to his colleagues, even though he is a Republican (and therefore not really entitled to the benefit of the doubt). But I'm sorry to see him invoke his status as a military lawyer to lend support to a statement of law which is blatantly wrong. That's not an action which will redound to the credit of the military legal community.

Len on 11.15.05 @ 05:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Intelligence estimates are unwieldy documents, often studded with dissenting footnotes. Legislators and analysts with limited security clearances have often thought they had "access to intelligence," but unless they could see the footnotes, they didn't.

For instance, in the late 1950s, many senators thought President Dwight Eisenhower was either a knave or a fool for denying the existence of a "missile gap." U.S. Air Force Intelligence estimates—leaked to the press and supplied to the Air Force's allies on Capitol Hill—indicated that the Soviet Union would have at least 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles by 1962, far more than the U.S. arsenal. What the "missile gap" hawks didn't know—and Eisenhower did—was that the Central Intelligence Agency had recently acquired new evidence indicating that the Soviets couldn't possibly have more than 50 ICBMs by then—fewer than we would. (As it turned out, photoreconnaissance satellites, which were secretly launched in 1960, revealed that even that number was too high; the Soviets had only a couple of dozen ICBMs.)

So, yes, nearly everyone thought Saddam was building WMDs, just as everyone back in the late '50s thought Nikita Khrushchev was building hundreds of ICBMs. In Saddam's case, many of us outsiders (I include myself among them) figured he'd had biological and chemical weapons before; producing such weapons isn't rocket science; U.N. inspectors had been booted out of Iraq a few years earlier; why
wouldn't he have them now?

What we didn't know—and what the Democrats in Congress didn't know either—was that many
insiders did have reasons to conclude otherwise. There is also now much reason to believe that top officials—especially Vice President Dick Cheney and the undersecretaries surrounding Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon—worked hard to keep those conclusions trapped inside.

President Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said today that the arguments over how and why the war began are irrelevant. "We need to put this debate behind us," he said. But the truth is, no debate could be more relevant now. As the war in Iraq enters yet another crucial phase—with elections scheduled next month and Congress finally taking up the issue of whether to send more troops or start pulling them out—we need to know whether the people running the executive branch can be trusted, and the sad truth is that they cannot be.
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 11.15.05 @ 04:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A little Judicial Levity...

"MR. GILLEN: Your Honor, I have one question, and that’s this: By my reckoning, this is the 40th day since the trial began and tonight will be the 40th night, and I would like to know if you did that on purpose.

THE COURT: Mr. Gillen, that is an interesting coincidence…


…but it was not by design.

(Laughter and applause.)

With that, I declare the trial portion of this extended case adjourned.

(Whereupon, the proceedings were concluded 14 at 3:28 p.m.)

-- End of the Trial over Intelligent Design in PA.

Karen on 11.14.05 @ 06:46 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Will the REAL America Please Stand Up...

Mickey writes: "Has it ever been the way it is now? Have we ever had to argue about things like Separation of Church and State? or the Geneva Conventions? or the United Nations? or Habeas Corpus? or Torture? Maybe my memory is faulty, because there have certainly been difficult political periods, but I just don’t recall when the fundamentals of our Constitution were on the table on a daily basis..."

And he's not the only one asking these questions. And NO, Mickey, your memory is not faulty.

Here is another piece from a "Concerned American":

"In recent years, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.

These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.

Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of "preemptive war," an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.

Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.

These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.

Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties.

Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.

Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" on people in U.S. custody.

Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.

Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.

Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialized nations).

I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.

As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights. Our country should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of providing human assistance to people in need. It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years."

"This Isn't The Real America" by Jimmy Carter

Karen on 11.14.05 @ 04:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Unhealthy National Heathcare System...

Paul Krugman (NY Times) has written a stellar piece on the fundamental issues of the National healthcare worsening crisis and failings in our system. It's both easy to follow his explanation and answers some basic questions about why our "free-market" economy approach has not (and does not) work to provide low-cost effective care for the vast majority of Americans who need help in covering their medical care and healthcare services:

"...It comes down to three things: risk, selection and social justice.

First, about risk: in any given year, a small fraction of the population accounts for the bulk of medical expenses. In 2002 a mere 5 percent of Americans incurred almost half of U.S. medical costs. If you find yourself one of the unlucky 5 percent, your medical expenses will be crushing, unless you're very wealthy - or you have good insurance.

But good insurance is hard to come by, because private markets for health insurance suffer from a severe case of the economic problem known as "adverse selection," in which bad risks drive out good.

To understand adverse selection, imagine what would happen if there were only one health insurance company, and everyone was required to buy the same insurance policy. In that case, the insurance company could charge a price reflecting the medical costs of the average American, plus a small extra charge for administrative expenses.

But in the real insurance market, a company that offered such a policy to anyone who wanted it would lose money hand over fist. Healthy people, who don't expect to face high medical bills, would go elsewhere, or go without insurance. Meanwhile, those who bought the policy would be a self-selected group of people likely to have high medical costs. And if the company responded to this selection bias by charging a higher price for insurance, it would drive away even more healthy people.

That's why insurance companies don't offer a standard health insurance policy, available to anyone willing to buy it. Instead, they devote a lot of effort and money to screening applicants, selling insurance only to those considered unlikely to have high costs, while rejecting those with pre-existing conditions or other indicators of high future expenses.

This screening process is the main reason private health insurers spend a much higher share of their revenue on administrative costs than do government insurance programs like Medicare, which doesn't try to screen anyone out. That is, private insurance companies spend large sums not on providing medical care, but on denying insurance to those who need it most.

What happens to those denied coverage? Citizens of advanced countries - the United States included - don't believe that their fellow citizens should be denied essential health care because they can't afford it. And this belief in social justice gets translated into action, however imperfectly. Some of those unable to get private health insurance are covered by Medicaid. Others receive "uncompensated" treatment, which ends up being paid for either by the government or by higher medical bills for the insured. So we have a huge private health care bureaucracy whose main purpose is, in effect, to pass the buck to taxpayers.

At this point some readers may object that I'm painting too dark a picture. After all, most Americans too young to receive Medicare do have private health insurance. So does the free market work better than I've suggested? No: to the extent that we do have a working system of private health insurance, it's the result of huge though hidden subsidies.

Private health insurance in America comes almost entirely in the form of employment-based coverage: insurance provided by corporations as part of their pay packages. The key to this coverage is the fact that compensation in the form of health benefits, as opposed to wages, isn't taxed. One recent study suggests that this tax subsidy may be as large as $190 billion per year. And even with this subsidy, employment-based coverage is in rapid decline.

I'm not an opponent of markets. On the contrary, I've spent a lot of my career defending their virtues. But the fact is that the free market doesn't work for health insurance, and never did. All we ever had was a patchwork, semiprivate system supported by large government subsidies.

That system is now failing. And a rigid belief that markets are always superior to government programs - a belief that ignores basic economics as well as experience - stands in the way of rational thinking about what should replace it."

Karen on 11.14.05 @ 08:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Late to the party again.....

Actually, I was just waiting for it to hit the Web so I could properly link....

The Memphis Flyer came out with its annual "Best of Memphis" issue. New this year is a couple of "Best Memphis Blogs" lists. One appears to be the selection of Flyer columnist Jackson Baker, while the other is based on a reader vote (if you're chasing this pointer, you need to either scroll down to "Best Memphis Blog", or do a "Find" in your browser for "blog").

Jackson Baker's list:

  1. The Flypaper Theory
  2. Half Bakered
  3. Fishkite
  4. Smart City Memphis
  5. The "Honorable Mentions"... Or as Mr. Baker puts it: "Fifth on the list, with at least 20 more really good ones left to enumerate? It's kinda like that 'I'd like to thank ...' time on the Academy Awards show." Included in this list: Left Wing Cracker, Polar Donkey, Mama Said There's Be Days Like This, and a Certain Other Blog That Will Go Unnamed Because Modesty Forbids Me....(but thank you, Mr. Baker, for the mention).
My favorite line from the listing is Baker's description of Mike Hollihan: "an industriously quirky, self-described 'libertarian'" (I'm going to be sitting on my hands for about 6 months in a desperate attempt not to stick that into every link I throw to Half Bakered in that timeframe).

The Readers' Choice list is a bit shorter, and Rachel "and the City" Hurley kicks ass and takes names there:
  1. Rachel and the City
  2. [tie] Half Bakered, Scenestars, and Goner Records Bulletin Board [???? I'm sorry, but a web based bulletin board isn't a blog, people....]
Of course, Rachel kicks ass and takes names because not only did she take the #1 position all by her lonesome, but she's also one of the driving forces behind Scenestars, so she, in effect, captures two of the top spots.

And for coming in second in both polls, I think Mr. Mike needs to adopt the tagline "We're No. 2. We Try Harder" for a month or so [The current Half Bakered tagline is the classic "Reading The Memphis Papers So You Don't Have To."]

UPDATE: Rachel does a pretty good Rodney Dangerfield, as she shows us that just because your blog was the Readers' Choice for Best Memphis Blog, you still don't get no respect:
Wednesday I received a text message congratulating me on winning the Memphis Flyer's Reader's Choice Award for Best Blog. You would think that would have included an invitation to the their "Best of" party downtown. You would be wrong. So, Richens and I crashed it, only to find out everyone in town did the same. The food was gone by the time we made it to the party but there were four open bars and music by Halfacre Gunroom and my favorite Harlan T. Bobo. It was fun.

Len on 11.14.05 @ 07:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, How We've Fucked Up The War [Bonus Twofer] Edition, Part II:

As the Senate prepared to vote Thursday to abolish the writ of habeas corpus, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl were railing about lawyers like me. Filing lawsuits on behalf of the terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Terrorists! Kyl must have said the word 30 times.

As I listened, I wished the senators could meet my client Adel.

Adel is innocent. I don't mean he claims to be. I mean the military says so. It held a secret tribunal and ruled that he is not al Qaeda, not Taliban, not a terrorist. The whole thing was a mistake: The Pentagon paid $5,000 to a bounty hunter, and it got taken.

The military people reached this conclusion, and they wrote it down on a memo, and then they classified the memo and Adel went from the hearing room back to his prison cell. He is a prisoner today, eight months later. And these facts would still be a secret but for one thing: habeas corpus.

Only habeas corpus got Adel a chance to tell a federal judge what had happened. Only habeas corpus revealed that it wasn't just Adel who was innocent -- it was Abu Bakker and Ahmet and Ayoub and Zakerjain and Sadiq -- all Guantanamo "terrorists" whom the military has found innocent.
--P. Sabin Willett

Len on 11.14.05 @ 06:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, How We've Fucked Up The War [Bonus Twofer] Edition, Part I:

We cannot win a war of ideals when we betray our ideals at every turn. We cannot convince the unconvinced that we are the good guys if we refuse to behave in the manner good guys are supposed to behave. We can never bring the “light of democracy” anywhere [if] we insist on doing everything in the dark.
--Kevin@Lean Left

Len on 11.14.05 @ 06:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And a belated Happy Blogiversary....

to Josh Marshall whose Talking Points Memo turned 5 yesterday. Unfortunately, he didn't draw attention to that fact (through the spiffy graphic at the top of the page) until very early this morning, long after I'd gone to bed.

Len on 11.14.05 @ 06:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Trudeau keeps hitting the target.....

Len on 11.14.05 @ 05:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

You're a very beautiful woman, but I wouldn't date you in a million years. And I'll tell you why. I'm married. And as much as I might be intimidated by you, I'm intimidated even more by my wife.
--Al Franken [to Maureen Dowd, on "The Al Franken Show", 11/10/2005]

Len on 11.14.05 @ 04:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It's a start....

Now, if just a few more Dems will take John Edwards's lead:

I was wrong.

Almost three years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and what many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.

The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.

While we can't change the past, we need to accept responsibility, because a key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong -- and showing that we have the creativity and guts to make it right.

The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the president -- and that I was being given by our intelligence community -- wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war.

George Bush won't accept responsibility for his mistakes.

Len on 11.13.05 @ 06:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Lookin' good!

If you haven't in a while, go check out Main and Central. They've completely done over their template, and it looks good.

Len on 11.13.05 @ 06:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And a happy blogiversary...

to BSTommy, whose little corner of the Web turns three today.

Len on 11.13.05 @ 05:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy Birthday!

of sorts. 15 years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee created the first Web page (though the Web wouldn't go public for another year yet).

My, how we've grown in 15 years.

Len on 11.13.05 @ 05:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Drat!!!…I Missed My Career Opportunity…

…by at least a few decades, anyway. *wink*

4 Questions for the Semi-Naked Sushi Lady:

sushilady (6k image)

If you've recently read a newspaper, or surfed the Internet, or watched television, or listened to the radio, or overheard a conversation on the "L," or intercepted terrorist chatter, you're probably aware of Body Sushi, raw fish served atop raw flesh at upscale eatery Kizoku, 358 W. Ontario St.

suchilady2 (10k image)

It's the talk of the town. In the weeks since its introduction, the concept of nearly-naked-woman-as-plate has generated so much buzz in Chicago you'd think we live in an insular farm town in the 1940s. Or Utah.

Lost in the media buzz about the dishes has been the dish, that former belly dancer who, five nights a week, gets paid $100--plus tips--to allow parties of diners to mix fish flesh with fantasy.

She's 24. Her name is, simply, Tabitha. And she'll be your service tonight…
Q: Do you enforce any rules of etiquette?

A: No tickling; don't be too funny. I don't want to laugh. Be good with your chopsticks--you don't want to drop anything. No forks!

So click on the link above and read the others answers from the Semi-Naked Sushi Lady to those 4 questions.


[P.S. be sure to take their *poll* (on the article sidebar) about whether you would eat sushi off a Naked person. *tee* and *hee*]

Karen on 11.13.05 @ 11:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Swept Under the Carpet...

Here is an excellent run down of the latest Plame-Gate issues from Murray Waas.

It also fits my earlier points (and chart) of the possible ways to view the linked-sources and connections and how these relate to the *problems* Fitz is having in accurately determining the sourcing of who provided information to Rove and to Libby about Plame's Covert Status. This *sourcing* has directly inhibited the ability of Fitz to proceed with further charges, frustrating and obstructing the investigation.

Which is EXACTLY as the White House WANTs it to be.

This is just more in the continuing efforts of the White House to shield Cheney and Rove's from accountability and legal liability while using Libby as the Sacrificial Lamb.

We need to White House Clean from the Top-Down to get rid of these Traitors and Disloyal Un-Patriots.

And I was wrong about Bush, by Stephen Elliot, is about as clear and concise a piece on the expectations people had that Child-In-Chief would step up and provide this house-cleaning in his own backyard. But, as IS now clear, CIC has *refused* to do so and is incapable of doing so.

CIC is just trying (in vain) to sweep all the accumulated DIRT of the past few years into a stinking, festering lump beneath the bare-threaded tatters of his administrative carpet. And he thinks NO ONE has noticed this behemoth of a garbage dump building up behind him in the Oval Office.

CIC still thinks he can smile, pound the podium, grimace and swagger his way out from under this putrid pile of refuse he's created and nurtured all along with recycled speeches and failed Pretend-Leadership talk. But no one, except the sychophantic 25%er of GOP supporters, are Buying that Broken-facade anymore. And the midden pile is quickly stinking up the entire Nation.

Karen on 11.13.05 @ 08:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It is said that the civilized man seeks out good and intelligent company, so that by learned discourse, he may rise above the savage, and be closer to God. Personally, however, I like to start the day with a total dickhead to remind me that I'm best.
--Edmund, Lord Blackadder [
Blackadder II]

Len on 11.13.05 @ 07:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I saw this anti-drug commercial that showed a kid smoking pot in his dad's room with his friend. This kid finds a gun, the gun accidentally goes off and kills his friend. Only in America is the villain in this commercial not guns or bad parenting, but pot.
--Bill Maher

Len on 11.12.05 @ 01:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]

One of my Favorite Columnists is *moving*

"On Friday I was fired as a columnist by the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, where I have worked for thirty years. The publisher, Jeff Johnson, who has offered not a word of explanation to me, has privately told people that he hated every word that I wrote. I assume that mostly refers to my exposing the lies used by President Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Fortunately sixty percent of Americans now get the point, but only after tens of thousand of Americans and Iraqis have been killed and maimed as the carnage spirals out of control. My only regret is that my pen was not sharper and my words tougher.

Starting Wednesday morning, my column will be appearing here on the Huffington Post."

--Robert Scheer On Leaving the LA Times.

Well, *something* has been going on at the LA Times for quite a while. But Mr. Scheer will be a great addition to the Huffington Post.

We look forward to reading his most excellent columns there!


Karen on 11.12.05 @ 11:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Unclear on the Concept...

cheneyethics (33k image)

Or as Len would say: "Further Comment would be superfluous."

[Hat tip to Collective Sigh.]

Karen on 11.12.05 @ 11:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

'Holy CD Rootkit Nightmare, Batman'....

These Sony folks deserve to have their *bleeping* asses sued OFF and let a few Non-industry officials and Courts decide between the *fair-use* and *privacy* protections VERSUS the HUGE potential damage from their "Digital Rights Management" efforts:

"For those readers that are coming up to speed with the story, here’s a summary of important developments so far:

The DRM software Sony has been shipping on many CDs since April is cloaked with rootkit technology:

* Sony denies that the rootkit poses a security or reliability threat despite the obvious risks of both
* Sony claims that users don’t care about rootkits because they don’t know what a rootkit is
* The installation provides no way to safely uninstall the software
* Without obtaining consent from the user Sony’s player informs Sony every time it plays a “protected” CD

Sony has told the press that they’ve made a decloaking patch and uninstaller available to customers, however this still leaves the following problems:

* There is no way for customers to find the patch from Sony BMG’s main web page
* The patch decloaks in an unsafe manner that can crash Windows, despite my warning to the First 4 Internet developers
* Access to the uninstaller is gated by two forms and an ActiveX control
* The uninstaller is locked to a single computer, preventing deployment in a corporation

Consumers and antivirus companies are responding:

* F-Secure independently identified the rootkit and provides information on its site
* Computer Associates has labeled the Sony software “spyware”
* A lawfirm has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of California consumers against Sony
* ALCEI-EFI, an Italian digital-rights advocacy group, has formally asked the Italian government to investigate Sony for possible Italian law violations."

-- Mark at Sysinternals.com.

Here is full description of the problems at this Part I link and at this Part II link.

After what I just went through to reconfigure my system on this PC and others - I think I am *Safe* to date. (And while this could be a solution to "removing" this rootkit - by wiping and restoring one's sytem - it's not a simple choice for the normal PC user. Nor, is it one I'd like to face because of the lack of information provided at the time and the secretive nature of their writing this program onto my PC in the first place.)

I really hope the consumer and Anti-virus efforts DO go forward which establishes and creates the appropriate balance of guidelines for the personal and property rights of PC users versus the Digital Copyright Protections for the industry.

Allowing the Industry to set the standards and police itself is clearly not working or workable if this is the kind of results to be developed.

Give read through these two articles and then "Beware" of Sony Rootkits! The Enemy is Out There.

UPDATE: Here is the link that describes the process of how to Disable the AutoRun Feature for CD's. :-)

Karen on 11.12.05 @ 09:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Third down, First yard line, inches to the Goal…

Almost there. *Whew*

But yesterday was a Multi-Tasking, Banshee Monster of a Day between restoring my Laptop with programs and files, AND working out the kinks of printer problems in a different PC (and able to post a few GEMs from that work station).

Now I am on the final bits.

Just putting back some personal saved documents, letters and work stuff - And I’ll be at my Goal!! (and better yet, I can stop WHINING and get back to work. *wink*)



Karen on 11.12.05 @ 07:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More From the Lying Liars and the Lies they Tell...

The Twin Lies being peddled by the bAdmin and their Conservative Supporters:

"President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.

Neither assertion is wholly accurate.

The administration's overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.

But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, briefing reporters Thursday, countered "the notion that somehow this administration manipulated the intelligence." He said that "those people who have looked at that issue, some committees on the Hill in Congress, and also the Silberman-Robb Commission, have concluded it did not happen."

But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry."...

Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus(WaPo).

And these administration folks and their minions want to keep LYING.

Prevaricating. Dissembling. Obfuscating. Twisting the Facts. Telling Untruths. Concealing Information. Presenting Falsehoods. Pinocchio-izing Politics.

They clearly dont GET-IT as to WHY their overall poll numbers keep tanking. Or WHY they have free-falling numbers in the categories of Honesty, Ethical behavior, Being Straight with the American People.

Yet they Press on with the same old LIES.

Like telling this WHOPPER:
"...In the same speech, Bush asserted that "more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power." Giving a preview of Bush's speech, Hadley had said that "we all looked at the same intelligence."

But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President's Daily Brief, with lawmakers..."

It's time for some Truth Telling and then let the American People and the Historians write that "History of How we went to War in Iraq."

Because we damn-sure aren't going to let the Lying Liars (the "we create our own reality" folks) write their own version of Twisted History.

Karen on 11.12.05 @ 06:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And I thought my house was small

Tumbleweed Tiny House Company offers build-to-order houses ranging in size from 40 to 500 square feet.

Brock on 11.11.05 @ 02:32 PM CST [link] [ | ]

On the 49th Yard Line...

...and a few more yards yet to go. While I am working and in-between Program Re-Loads I can take Brock's Friday Quiz: "Which Peanuts Character are You..."

I find I am:

You are Woodstock!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


I can live with that!! *teehee*

Karen on 11.11.05 @ 01:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

When you have nothing else to blog about ...

... post the results of an internet quiz.

You are Rerun!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Lawyers, Guns, and Money.)

Brock on 11.11.05 @ 12:34 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Tin-foil hats ineffective, say MIT geeks

A group of enterprising students at MIT have studied the effectiveness of aluminum-foil hats at blocking government mind-control rays:

Abstract: Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We theorize that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.


Brock on 11.11.05 @ 10:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

PC Putzing Around

Third down, first yard line, and 99 yards to go....

Well, I finished my NEW Hard Drive install and reloaded XP operating software and all the drivers and tid-bits specific to my Laptop.

And I have to boast about how *proud* I am of my Dweebie-Self because the small carraige-sleeve that holds the drive and slips into the Laptop had several tiny Philips-head screws to remove. They were all torked down really tight and I ended up stripping one em -unusable and unremoveable. And the screw was still bound in tight, not budging even a turn. So I couldn't replace the Hard Drive.

"DRAT", said I.

But went to my workshop, and pulled out my Jeweler's files (one of my many *skills* and *arts*) and created a new slot on the top of the screw to fit a flat-head regular screw driver. Making it possible to Loosen, Remove and Re-use that screw!!

I may not be a computer Techno-Geek, but I am more mechanically inclined and a Certified Fix-It MOM. (Score 1 for KAREN)

Now I am off to spend some time reloading all the program and work files. Almost there (again).



Karen on 11.11.05 @ 08:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush still swirling clockwise....

Fox News Channel Poll: Bush Support at 36%

Today, 36 percent of Americans approve and 53 percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president. For comparison, two weeks ago 41 percent said they approved and 51 percent disapproved, and at the beginning of his second term 50 percent approved and 40 percent disapproved (January 25-26).

Until this week, Bush's approval rating had been at 40 percent or above — buoyed in large part by consistent strong support among Republicans; however, in mid-October approval among Republicans fell below 80 percent for the first time of his presidency and now sits at 72 percent.

In addition, Bush's approval rating is down by double digits among other demographic groups. Since the beginning of his second term, his approval is down 26 percentage points among independents, 16 points among women, 15 points among whites and 11 points among men.

Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on November 8-9.

"The key to understanding Bush's rating is not the fact that 84 percent of Democrats disapprove or that 72 percent of Republicans still approve — they’ve been polarized for a long time," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "The real problem for the president is that self-described independents now disapprove by a 58 percent to 26 percent margin. The 'rally-the-base' strategies that have worked so well for the administration are not likely to win back the independents the Republicans need to return to parity. The question is whether they can develop an approach that wins back independents."
So Rethugnicans, you just keep kissing the ass of the Religious Right. And then, I fervently hope, y'all won't let the doors hit you on your asses on the way out in 2006....

Len on 11.11.05 @ 07:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Apocalyptic Prophecy o'the Day....

Via BSTommy, We learn that a guy in Knox County, TN is predicting that 5 US cities are going to be "destroyed" by some event today, and that, as a result the US economy is going to spiral into collapse:

Farragut, Knox County (WVLT) - A Farragut man says he's only the messenger, claiming his personal relationship with god has revealed to him, five cities in the United States that will face economic collapse Friday, November 11, 2005.

As WVLT Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb learns, eleven is a well known number in history and this man feels eleven, eleven is the beginning of the end.
Um.... but if 11/11 is "the beginning of the end", why is it that sooooo many November 11ths have come and gone without the apocalypse yet? And for that matter, if the number 11 is so powerful, wouldn't 11/11/1911 have really been the more logical date for this disaster? Or maybe 11/11/2011? (Or even better yet, 11/11/1111? How the hell did the sun rise on 11/12/1111, anyway?)
"But I want people to know that I'm perfectly sane, that I'm at peace with what's going to happen," John Gilmore says he's just a messenger and living by it. He says people in New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and San Francisco face some form of serious destruction on Friday.

"Something is going to happen to the effect that these cities are going to be devastated to the point that our economy is going to collapse," Gilmore says.
Just to prove that not all religious east Tennesseans are prophecy spewing wackjobs, the TV station is quick to provide An Accredited Man of the Cloth to challenge John's viewpoint:
One local pastor says he's not buying Gilmore's claims.

"Remember the year 2000 where everything was going to be destroyed through Y2K and it never happened," says Pastor John Stuart, from Erin Presbyterian Church.
Personally, my standard answer to end of the world prophecies consists of two words: "Jehovah's Witnesses". For those of you not familiar with the Witnesses, let me just give you The Short Form: the Witnesses have gone on record as publicly prophesying the onset of Armageddon (and second coming of Jesus, of course) to occur in: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, and 1975.
The deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914.
--Charles Taze Russell
[founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses --LRC] in 1910
The deliverance of the saints must take place some time after 1914.
--Charles Taze Russell in 1920
Though I think BSTommy has the best last word on this particular prediction:
We've narrowed down God's allegiance to either the Phillies or the Marlins. He's hedging his bets, I think, as he's annihilating the rest of the National League East today. I mean, wasn't it enough to get Mike Piazza out from behind the plate with the Mets and to send Leo Mazzone to the American League?

Len on 11.11.05 @ 07:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Thank what powers that be that I wasn't drinking my coffee when I read this, or I'd be heading to the ER to have my second degree nasal burns treated....

Well, we’re into November (my keen grasp of the obvious is working at its usual high rate of efficiency), and I guess it’s time to put on my pointed hat with stars and crescent moons on it and try to look ahead into the future. To both my loyal readers (Lisa and mom), I’m sure you know my gift of prophecy possibly cannot get any worse *cough* Astros in seven *cough* so I shall gallantly forge ahead as only Nostradumbass can…

So, here are my picks for six stories worth following in the offseason:


4. Stadium issues in South Florida, Minnesota, and Oakland and the contraction card

I’ve had a peek at
The Hardball Times baseball Annual 2006 (well I did help write the thing y’know), hence I know that SABR’s Business of Baseball Chairman, Maury Brown, feels that contraction won’t come up during the next negotiation. Now I realize that Maury is much smarter than me (like I set the bar sooooo high) and that handicaps him in understanding Bud Selig. Now an idiot like me can relate to a guy like Bud, and it’s a doggone cinch that if Selig thinks something will help him give the MLBPA a royal reaming, he’s going to try it. If Selig thought that standing in a bucket of salt water while trying to stick an icepick into a outdoor electrical outlet on a house at the top of a hill during an lightning storm while holding a metal umbrella over his head would give him a leg up on Fehr and Co. well …

Selig has been saying ad infinitum ad nauseum that without a new publicly financed luxury suite laden ballpark, the 1997 and 2003 World Series Champions, the 2000, 2002 and 2003 AL West champs and the 2002-2004 AL Central winners have no hope and faith, and they’ll continue getting steamrolled by the perpetual World Series champion New York Yankees until Judgment Day and beyond.

They can’t threaten relocation to Washington D.C., Portland and Las Vegas are no closer to having a temporary major league ready stadium (let alone the kind of publicly financed retractable roof virtual ATM machine that Selig uses in lieu of Levitra) than Dildo Newfoundland is. So how can you open up a can of Extortion Whoop Ass on these communities without a "viable" threat? Of course there’s the upcoming CBA negotiation too, and if this offseason goes all spend-happy, what is Selig going to use against the MLBPA to convince them to give more free money to billionaires who mismanage their baseball business and still expect to reap obscene profits without actually working for it that the game needs more competitive balance and parity so the Yankees don’t keep winning the World Series forever? Well ownership "won" the right to unilaterally contract in the last negotiation, and Selig has never let minor details like common sense, logistics and being realistic to get in the way of a bargaining position. Expect the other “C” word to reappear in 2006. Selig says contraction is not even on the radar screen so you know that it probably is.
Fookin' brilliant....

Len on 11.11.05 @ 07:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today is Veterans' Day.

On behalf of my fellow veterans, I'll simply say, "You're welcome. I was proud to serve."

Len on 11.11.05 @ 06:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The Greatest Rock Song of All Time is the appropriately-named Rock Medley, from the also appropriately-named cd Rock, by none other than Tiny Tim .Yes, THAT Tiny Tim, of Tiptoe Through the Tulips fame.

The medley combines the likes of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joan Jett, Sha-Na-Na, and Bill Haley (with portions of
I Love Rock And Roll, Great Balls Of Fire, Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On, Shake, Rattle And Roll, Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay, At The Hop, Hound Dog, Don't Be Cruel, and (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear) into a 24+ minute long guitar-wailing, drum-pounding, falsetto-screeching symphony of sonic insanity. AND it's done completely straight--Tiny Tim was earnest and sincere about his tunes, and he poured his heart and soul into this musical mayhem.

I guarantee that anyone who hears this song will never, ever, EVER be able to forget it.
--The Thing That Walks Like A Man [comment on "the best rock song ever" at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog]

Len on 11.11.05 @ 06:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Geek Toy o'the Day

Via Serrabee we get a pointer to The MLA Language Map. Basically, an interactive map gives you estimates of the number of persons speaking various languages by county (or by zip code; it's configurable).

Len on 11.10.05 @ 07:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Will the REAL Natural Rights Please Stand Up...

From Jon Rowe (who blogs on his own site - here - and at joint blog - here) has written many great pieces dissecting the Constitution and it's basis in "Natural Law" as completely distinct from the Fundie's arguments that somehow we derived our current body of Laws and Government from the Bible.

He had his own thoughts on the debate over the Gay Marriage or Civil Unions versus Traditional Marriage and the claim that this poses a "threat to our society" maintained by certain folks. (See this post.)

And Jon has provided the link to another really good article on the subject. Here is Good tid-bit from the Corvino piece:

"...It is not true that the unique source for unalienable rights is the God of the Bible. The notion of “unalienable rights” was introduced during the Enlightenment, when philosophers and politicians rejected appeals to biblical revelation in favor of the sovereignty of human reason.

Among those philosophers and politicians were our nation's Founders, who quite deliberately made no mention of God in our Constitution. Indeed, when Franklin (himself quite skeptical about religious authority) proposed during the Constitutional Convention to begin each session with a prayer, Alexander Hamilton reportedly quipped that this was no time to seek “foreign aid.” ...

And BTW although I can't always agree with ole "Sully" on everthing he puts out there... I totally agree with this statement of his: "(and if you aren't familiar with his blog, you should be)".


We've said that Loads of Times here at DBV [and more besides]. *wink*


Karen on 11.10.05 @ 05:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Congratulations are in order....

to St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, who became the first Redbird since Bob Gibson in 1970 to win the National League Cy Young Award. Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins came in second in the voting, while Roger Clemens of the Houston Astros came in third.

Len on 11.10.05 @ 02:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Economic development....



Our Ignorant Population Puts the Third World Workforce to Shame!
Want to set up a sweatshop? Do you run a business bursting over with low paid, unskilled and dangerous jobs?
Are you looking for a class of worker who isn’t
too educated and won’t get uppity when faced with exploitation?
Well, why look overseas when you can look closer to home!
Come to Kansas, where we don’t educate.
Remember, an educated worker is a questioning worker. And a questioning worker is a potential problem.
In Kansas you need not fear an intelligent, questioning, educated labor force. No pesky questions and no damned

From Banana Slug Go look at the rest.

Len on 11.10.05 @ 01:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy birthday!

To the United States Marine Corps, which turns 230 years old today.

Or, to paraphrase the words of a Marine Gunnery Sergeant I worked with in Subic Bay:

Two hundred and thirty years of tradition unimpeded by progress.



Len on 11.10.05 @ 12:11 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Hey W...

Can't you get your dad to pull some strings to get you out of finishing this tour of service?

Len on 11.10.05 @ 11:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, let's not start sucking each other's dicks just yet.
--Winston Wolf

So far, from what I can see there's been a bit of Democratic and liberal/progressive rejoicing over the Democratic victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections Tuesday. While I can understand the sentiment (lately, the Democrats seem starved for any sort of victory; they've "been down so long it looks like up" to them), University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato warns us not to take the electoral returns too seriously, yet:

And what of the future? Will 2005 foretell 2006? The record is very mixed. Let's take the last four off-off year elections in New Jersey and Virginia. In 1989 Jim Florio (D) and Doug Wilder (D) captured the New Jersey and Virginia statehouses--the Garden State switched from Republican to Democratic control--yet in 1990, there was no discernible movement to either party in the midterm congressional elections. In 1993 Christie Whitman (R-NJ) and George Allen (R-VA) led a GOP sweep in the major contests that year, and sure enough, their victories presaged the anti-Clinton congressional landslide for the Republicans in 1994. In 1997, the GOP's Whitman was reelected in New Jersey and Jim Gilmore (R) succeeded Allen in Virginia, but in 1998, the Democrats fared well in congressional elections, partly due to a backlash against the Clinton impeachment effort. In 2001, despite Bush's sky-high popularity after 9/11, Democrats Jim McGreevey and Mark Warner won New Jersey and Virginia; the following year, Republicans recaptured the U.S. Senate and added six U.S. House seats.

So what does this show? In two cases, the off-off year elections were indicators of the following year's political trends, and in the other two cases, they weren't. Please remember this unimpressive record of prognostication when you read the party press releases and the gee-whiz news stories next month. Here's the useless summary, based on history: The off-off year elections of 2005 may either be a harbinger of things to come in 2006, or they may not be.

For New Jersey and Virginia, it matters a lot who wins and who governs for the next four years. For everybody else, the elections probably don't mean much. President Bush and the Republicans are in deep trouble in 2005. Whether these calamities will extend all the way to November 2006 is anyone's guess, and early indicators such as New Jersey and Virginia can be spot on...or very misleading.
Hopefully, the meaning behind the heading becomes a bit clearer now... :-)

Meanwhile, though, you've gotta love how American politics works. From the Sabato piece I've quoted:
Has anyone noticed that neither of the two states electing Governors on November 8th is getting the Chief Executive the people want?

In New Jersey, interim Governor Dick Codey (D), the State Senate President who succeeded the resigned Governor Jim McGreevey (D) in 2004, would win in a walk if he were on the ballot as the Democratic nominee. Codey has been a smash hit, but the party bosses in the corruption-plagued Garden State insisted on Jon Corzine (D), an undistinguished one-term U.S. Senator, noted not for his governing abilities but his enormous Wall Street wealth. In Virginia, another wealthy businessman, Governor Mark Warner (D), is enjoying approval ratings in the 70s and would be reelected in a landslide were it not for the Old Dominion's one-of-a-kind, one-term-and-out rule.

So instead we have a couple of open-seat contests without overwhelming favorites. And waiting on the sidelines are hundreds of journalists and analysts eager to read far too much into the outcomes of these off-off-year elections.
It's the situation in Virginia that truly perplexes me. While I understand some of the frustrations that resulted in the imposition of term limits, it's always seemed to me that that is sort of a "cut off your nose to spite your face" solution; WTF should you want to arbitrarily fire a competent public official for the sake of introducing new blood into public office. The one-term limit in Virginia seems particularly stupid to me (then again, having lived in Virginia for a while during my tour in the Navy, and having had a chance to spend some time there during a long term, long distance relationship a few years ago, I can't say that I find it particularly surprising). Making your state's chief executive a lame duck from her/his very first day in office doesn't seem like a policy rich in wisdom to me....

Len on 11.10.05 @ 08:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Ray of *HOPE*

"...Success at the polls still leaves a stark political reality that demands bipartisan governance if huge budget messes are to be cleaned up and other major challenges are to be confronted.

It is a lesson still completely lost on President Bush, whose last-minute appearance in Richmond last Sunday was irrelevant. For the record, the latest opinion survey -- by the Pew Center -- put his job approval rating at a new low, 36 percent. His support among independent voters is an abysmal 29 percent, and even his Republican rating has shed 12 points this year to 77 percent. At this rate, in the 2006 campaign, he will be the Flying Dutchman.


Like opinion polls, off-year elections are just a snapshot, not necessarily a harbinger. However, they do have a tendency to deflate the expectations of the previous year's victors. In politics, the pendulum is always moving, and once again, Virginia is the primary reality check.

-- Thomas Oliphant (Boston Globe).

[Just call me Little Ms. Sunshine. *tee* and *hee*]

Karen on 11.10.05 @ 07:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

But here's where overturning Roe v. Wade could actually turn out to be the best thing for the Democrats. Because if you want to create more liberal voters, don't scare them with the possibility of terrorism. Scare them with the possibility of parenthood. Because voters nowadays are all about the issues that affect "me." They need to see how Bush's fuck-ups affect them personally.

I mean, think about it. Other than the war in Iraq, the Katrina disaster, the deficit, the CIA leak, torture, stopping stem cell research, homeland security, global warming and undercutting science, we've yet to really feel the negative effects of the Bush administration.

But you know what voting block had the lowest voter turnout in the last election? Young, unmarried women. And you know who'll be the most affected if they overturn Roe v. Wade? Kobe Bryant. But, after him, young women. Come on. You're living in South Carolina and you need an abortion. You're going to get on a bus and head to New York. Maybe next time you'll think twice about letting your older brother tuck you in.

Because, overturning Roe v. Wade won't make abortion illegal. The choice to allow it will just be returned to the states. In all likelihood, the blue states. The rest of you will have to make a weekend of it. Tourism, ka-ching!

Every state will have a new motto: Massachusetts: "Where the country was born, but your baby wasn't." "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. No, seriously!" And of course, California: "I just got an abortion and now I'm going to Disneyland!"
--Bill Maher

Len on 11.10.05 @ 06:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Working of the Spider's Web...

...and I don't mean benign Charlotte (Charlotte's Web) who tries to save the life of the pig, Wilbur, by spinning fanciful sayings in her teensie web.

I mean the vicious, blood-sucking kind of Spider, Shelob from Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers.

Shelob, who's lair, Torech Ungol, had "a stench, not the sickly odour of decay in the meads of Morgul, but a foul reek, as if filth unnameable were piled and horded in the dark within."

Here, in this piece from the NY Times, is the begining of the glimpses of this dank, dark almost impenetrable fibers and snaking filaments of the web's reach and snares for the unwary political travelers.

Here where these "Lobbyists" drink the life's blood of a nation and its citizens, growing fat and blood-swelled from the feasts and vomiting up more darkness to enslave yet other victims. And Like Shelob, these lobbyists would feast on all living things as their food. They are Shelobs who hunger for "a glut of life, alone, swollen till the mountains could no longer hold [them] up and the darkness could not contain [them]...and so they lived, delighting in their own devices, and feared no assault, nor wrath, nor any end to their wickedness.

Time to call forth the blade, "Sting," to cut through the knotted oozing ropes of this web and topple the Shelobs who have the aparatus of the government held fast through the layers of interwoven nets, forged out of our sight.

A National House Cleaning of all spiders, ticks and other bood-sucking monsters is most certainly in order.


Karen on 11.10.05 @ 06:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Judy's Swan Song?

"...For weeks, she'd been in severance talks with the Times. And finally, yesterday, she and her employer of 28 years called it quits.

After all, how could she have remained at a newspaper where her boss, Executive Editor Bill Keller, seemed to have called her a liar and added the innuendo of the word "entanglement" to the lexicon of reporter-source relations? Where she's been vilified in print as a "Woman of Mass Destruction"? Where a lot of people think she used her journalism to help the Bush administration's case for war? Where colleagues were outraged to hear accusations that she abused her embedded status with an Army unit searching for those fabled weapons of mass destruction?

Well, Miller had -- before her resignation -- some pointed, mocking words for her many critics.

"I am so powerful and influential that I take over Army divisions? I run the New York Times newsroom single-handedly? And now I take the country to war? Wow! That must be one heck of a reporter. I've heard of pushy broads, but this brings the pushy broad to a new level."

-- Lynne Duke (Washington Post).

Well, not exactly "single-handedly", Judy - We KNOW you had Bush administration HELPERs amd ENABLERs.

And if that statement needs qualifiers to be more accurate in laying out your role in these things - So be it.

But just as point of order -- The one who really ought to be taking "Notes" on how to deal with Lying Employees who wield such "power and influence that they can take over Army [and intelligence] divisions; Run New York Times Reporters single-handedly with bogus "leaked" information; And take the country to war based on those improper leaks and distorted information" is the Child-In-Chief.

Ole CIC needs to FIRE Blooming-Shit-Head as the Lying, Disloyal, Leaker of Classified Information employee he clearly had been exposed to be. Loyalty to those Disloyal to the United States is NO Loyalty at all.

This is about an Abuse of Power in the very highest offices of the White House which this So-Called Leader can no longer Pretend is something so ethereal and sketchy as to facts and circumstances that he just can't wrap his mind around the mutitudes of possible "Anonymous Senior Adminstration Officials" floating around the Oval Office which he once quipped We'd Probably never find out WHO it was - since reporters are so good at hiding their sources.


Nobody but Brain-dead, GOP sychophants buy this "explanation" for keeping Blooming-Shit-Head on the payroll. (Or keeping Good Ole "Brownie" as a *consultant* to FEMA on the Federal Dole either.) And CIC's recent Poll numbers with exceptionally low marks for honesty and integrity and ethics bear this out. People just don't BELIEVE the President, OR Rove.

Time to FIRE Karl Rove and move on to the next next evil, cronyistic bureacrat CIC can manage to pull out of the Texas-based woodwork to foist upon the nation.

Bring it On...Hahahahaha!!!

Karen on 11.10.05 @ 04:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Meetings, Upgraded Hard Drives and Few Posts

Oh Dear - Me Oh MY:

Time yet again for anther Computer PC malfunction to be taken care and replace the Hard Drive of my Laptop - Upgraded to a 50% increase in Gigabytes.


The old one is hanging by a thread after making all the usual noises of a washing machine that swallowed a load of gravel and is permanently stuck in "SPIN" cycle.

Plus, I have meetings, meetings and MORE meetings for the Fisher Farm Master Association - yers truly as Pres. (OH JOY!) Budgeting tasks and management issues...EVEN better!!!

And Birthday week for another Daughter - actual Birthday and Party yet to celebrate. (More JOY!!)

So, very few posts until I get back to normalacy (or what ever ya call my homelife at Dennis Hastert Corners.) But my In-Bin has got a few GEMs for later.

Glad to see Len and Brock are holding up the three pillars of DBV. *wink*


Karen on 11.09.05 @ 05:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And, since it's that season....

Here (a bit late, but blame Jeff Crook, the author, who only recently got around to posting this one):

The Fitzmas Song
by Jeff Crook
(with apologies to the Velvet Fog)

Dick's nuts roasting on an open fire
Judith wearing orange clothes
Tom Delay picked up by a wire
Extorting funds from Eskimos.

Everybody knows
A press pass for a gay male ho
Helps to lean the coverage Right.
Tiny little men in league with Karl Rove
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know Fitzgerald's on his way.
With a load of trouble and some hell to pay.
But every mother's scribe is going to spy
To see if Libby will tell another lie.

And so I'm offering this simple phrase
Of hope to see the mighty fall.
President Bush is looking for new ways
To ride this out and pardon all.

Grief and Woe come to you
And to you a perp walk, too
And God curse you and send you
An indictment this year.

And God curse you
And fill your heart with fear.

Len on 11.09.05 @ 01:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A data point....

in favor of the proposition that the political "spectrum" in the United States is seriously out of skew from the rest of the world.

Brian Leiter is conducting a couple threads on "Who are you?" (inviting readers to post a comment stating who they are and why do they read his blog. One reader left this comment:

Who: German lawyer; LL.M. Michigan (200?)
How: Via Letters of Marque
Why: Still trying to recover from the shocking experience that - despite being a diehard German conservative - I found myself way on the left in the US on most issues ... Leftwing, me ???

Len on 11.09.05 @ 12:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Late to the party again.....

It was Monday that I actually got word about the IRS threatening All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA, over an anti-war sermon preached there by the church's former rector back on October 31, 2004.

The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.

Rector J. Edwin Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena told many congregants during morning services Sunday that a guest sermon by the church's former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, on Oct. 31, 2004, had prompted a letter from the IRS.

In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991's Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that "good people of profound faith" could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.

But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, "Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster."

On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church … " The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections.

The letter went on to say that "our concerns are based on a Nov. 1, 2004, newspaper article in the Los Angeles Times and a sermon presented at the All Saints Church discussed in the article."

The IRS cited The Times story's description of the sermon as a "searing indictment of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq" and noted that the sermon described "tax cuts as inimical to the values of Jesus."
Today Amy Sullivan, guest blogging for Kevin Drum, has a good comment on that story:
BUSH'S WAR ON PEOPLE OF FAITH....Today we learn that Bush's IRS is investigating a prominent liberal Episcopal church because of a sermon last fall in which the minister condemned Bush's policy in Iraq. (No word on whether the agency is also going after the Baptist church that kicked out members who voted for John Kerry. Or the churches that helped out the Bush/Cheney campaign last year by sending in their membership directories. Or the Catholic priests who told parishioners it would be a sin to vote for Kerry.)
The thing that really pisses me off about this is that in my lifetime, for various reasons, I've attended plenty of Catholic masses, and if I had a nickel for every time I've heard a Catholic priest order his congregants (in no uncertain terms) to vote for a "pro-life" candidate by name, I could give away millions to various charitable causes, and still fund a very decadent retirement for myself for the rest of my life. And I'm not aware of the IRS threatening those Catholic churches about their tax exemptions.
Don't cry for the Episcopalians, though. They had an out. The IRS offered them a sweet deal: Admit that you violated the law, never do it again, and we'll drop the investigation.

That kind of "deal" is usually called "intimidation."

If a Democratic administration went after a conservative church and threatened its tax-exempt status over statements made during a sermon, it's safe to assume all hell would break loose. You wouldn't be able to turn on a cable channel without hearing some host intoning, "Is there a Democratic war on faith?" Conservatives would fill the airwaves, newsprint, and blog pages with condemnations of "liberal bigots who hate religion." Can we expect a similar response from the left now?
Actually, the "solution" to this problem is to simply end the tax exemption for religious organizations. Then who cares if they preach politics or not.

Len on 11.09.05 @ 12:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Scooter Libby is on trial because a Bush White House run by veterans of the Nixon-Ford administration seems to have forgotten the same three-decade-old lesson that Nixon and his White House forgot from the Alger Hiss trial three decades before that. "Hiss would be free today if he hadn't lied," Nixon told his aides. "If you are going to lie, you go to jail for the lie rather than the crime."
--Bruce Reed

Len on 11.09.05 @ 08:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Ask a philosophy grad school dropout

Some academic fields seem more suited to blogging than others. Economics, linguistics, and biology seem to work well as blog topics. My field of study, philosophy, doesn't seem to work so well.

Often a short blog post is not even long enough to explain why a particular philosophical question is an interesting one, much less present the possible answers and consider their merits.

AskPhilosophers at least partly solves the problem by taking questions from the general public. There's no need to explain why a question is interesting, since it was at least interesting enough for someone to ask.

So, in an effort to increase my output here at DBV, I'm inaugurating a new feature here, "Ask a philosophy grad school dropout," in which I will answer questions asked at AskPhilosophers. Here's the first one:

Question 56: I am a philosophy undergrad. What should I do to guarantee I get the most I can out of grad school?

Some of the most philosophically productive thinking you will do in grad school will be done while drinking beer with your fellow students, so it is vitally important that you have access to a good bar while you're in grad school. This bar should not be noisy, because you won't be able to discuss Leibniz vs. Spinoza on substance if you can't talk over the music. The bar should have a good happy hour special, because you will be poor. And there should be good snacky food available. Finally, if at all possible, the bar should be within stumbling distance of your residence.

When I was at University of Rochester, I was fortunate enough to live within stumbling distance of two good bars: The Distillery and The Elmwood Inn.

I had more philosophically interesting conversations over Genny Lite and chicken wings at those two establishments than I had in any seminar.

Brock on 11.08.05 @ 07:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Fun With Google....

If you do Google Image search on the words "insane republican", you get this as your first hit:

I'd guess Karen will be amused by this.

Interestingly enough for us Tennesseeans, the number three hit (at least when I did the search today) is a picture of Lamar Alexander (who is probably the member of the Tennessee congressional delegation who I'd be least likely to consider insane...).

Len on 11.08.05 @ 06:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, if we're going to do the silly blog quiz thing....

This quiz appealed to me. I won't argue with the results, either:

You scored as Beast. Beast is an intelligent, politcal spokesman for the X-Men. He has a Ph.D in Genetics and is well versed in literature. He may look like a blue fuzzy monster, but deep down he's very benevolent and logical. Powers: Enhanced strength and agility





Jean Grey










Emma Frost








Most Comprehensive X-Men Personality Quiz 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com

Len on 11.08.05 @ 06:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Maybe I Am Meant to be Stirred, Not shaken...

You scored as James Bond, Agent 007. James Bond is MI6's best agent, a suave, sophisticated super spy with charm, cunning, and a license's to kill. He doesn't care about rules or regulations and somewhat amoral. He does care about saving humanity though, as well as the beautiful women who fill his world. Bond has expensive tastes, a wide knowledge of many subjects, and his usually armed with a clever gadget and an appropriate one-liner.

James Bond, Agent 007


Lara Croft




The Amazing Spider-Man


William Wallace


Batman, the Dark Knight


The Terminator


Neo, the "One"


Indiana Jones


Captain Jack Sparrow


El Zorro


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com

As I am Crazeee Bizee for the next few days - posting will be sparse. :-(

This kind of FUN is about all I can manage right now.

Take the quiz and enjoy.

Karen on 11.08.05 @ 05:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

'When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro'
--Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

From The Official Vincent Gallo Merchandise Website:

Vincent Gallo's Sperm

$1 Million

Price includes all costs related to one attempt at an in-vitro fertilization.
(A $50,000 value) If the first attempt at in vitro fertilization is unsuccessful,
purchaser of sperm must pay all medical costs related to additional attempts. Mr.
Gallo will supply sperm for as many attempts as it takes to complete a successful
fertilization and successful delivery. Sperm is 100% guaranteed to be donated by
Mr. Gallo who is drug, alcohol and disease free. If the purchaser of the sperm
chooses the option of natural insemination, there is an additional charge of
$500,000. However, if after being presented detailed photographs of the purchaser,
Mr. Gallo may be willing to waive the natural insemination fee and charge only for
the sperm itself. Those of you who have found this merchandise page are very well
aware of Mr. Gallo's multiple talents, but to add further insight into the value
of Mr. Gallo's sperm, aside from being multi talented in all creative fields, he
was also multi talented as an athlete, winning several awards for performing in
the games of baseball, football and hockey and making it to the professional level
of grand prix motorcycle racing. Mr. Gallo is 5'11" and has blue eyes. There are
no known genetic deformities in his ancestry (no cripples) and no history of
congenital diseases. If you have seen The Brown Bunny, you know the potential size
of the genitals if it's a boy. (8 inches if he's like his father.) I don't know
exactly how a well hung father can enhance the physical makeup of a female baby,
but it can't hurt. Mr. Gallo also presently maintains a distinctively full head of
hair and at the age of 43 has surprisingly few gray hairs. Though his features are
sharp and extreme, they would probably blend well with a softer, more subtly
featured female. Mr. Gallo maintains the right to refuse sale of his sperm to those
of extremely dark complexions. Though a fan of Franco Harris, Derek Jeter, Lenny
Kravitz and Lena Horne, Mr. Gallo does not want to be part of that type of
integration. In fact, for the next 30 days, he is offering a $50,000 discount to
any potential female purchaser who can prove she has naturally blonde hair and blue
eyes. Anyone who can prove a direct family link to any of the German soldiers of the
mid-century will also receive this discount.Under the laws of the Jewish faith, a
Jewish mother would qualify a baby to be deemed a member of the Jewish religion.
This would be added incentive for Mr. Gallo to sell his sperm to a Jew mother, his
reasoning being with the slim chance that his child moved into the profession of
motion picture acting or became a musical performer, this connection to the Jewish
faith would guarantee his offspring a better chance at good reviews and maybe even a
prize at the Sundance Film Festival or an Oscar. To be clear, the purchase of Mr.
Gallo's sperm does not include the use of the name Gallo. The purchaser must find
another surname for the child.
As I am wont to say, further comment would be superfluous.

Len on 11.08.05 @ 11:40 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

New Rule: Since only 15% of Americans said they believe in evolution in a recent poll, America must change its name to the United States of Jesus Christ. And our motto, from E Pluribus Unum to "I'm With Stupid." The good news for the nation: if we get any stupider about science, we'll forget how to cook crystal meth.
--Bill Maher

Len on 11.08.05 @ 09:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Why Dick Cheney is full of shit in wanting the CIA to be able to torture...

From Larry C. Johnson:

I think Dick Cheney has been watching too many Hollywood flicks that glorify torture. He needs, instead, to get on the ground and talk to the folks he is ostensibly trying to empower to torture. Unlike Dick I have spoken with three CIA operations officers in the last three months--all who have worked on terrorism at the highest levels--and not one endorses torture or believes it will help us. In fact, they believe it will hurt us on many levels.

Two of my friends served in Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of 9-11. If the suicide bombing of the World Trade Centers was not enough justification for hooking Haji up to battery cables, I don't know what is. My friends recognized correctly that their mission was to gather intelligence not create new enemies. If you inflict enough pain on someone they will give you information, but, unless you kill them, they will hold a grudge. As far as the information goes there is no guarantee it will be correct. What real CIA field officers know from their work with actual sources is that whatever short term benefit can be derived from torture will be offset by the new enemy you have created. It is better to build a relationship of trust, no matter how painstaking, rather than gain a short term benefit that puts you on par with a Nazi concentration camp guard.


Cheney's plea to allow CIA or other intelligence officers to torture would be the death of the CIA as a professional intelligence service and another stain on the reputation of the United States. We're losing our claim to being the City on the Hill as a beacon of light and hope to the world. Instead, we're morphing into the Dark Tower of Lord Sauron in the land of Mordor. Sauron's a big believer in torture, just ask Frodo.

Len on 11.08.05 @ 08:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "For those with more money than sense..." department....

You have but a week to go until the release of [drumroll]:

The Ultimate Star Trek Collection MSRP: $3908.99, though Amazon.com will let you have it for a mere $2500.00. And what do you get for that pile of simoleons? 212 DVD discs covering all of the following material:

Not only for those with more money than sense, but also for those with a hell of a lot of time on their hands. If I had the time and inclination, I'd total up the time it'd take to watch all those shows and movies (forget about all the commentary tracks, interviews, documentaries, deleted scenes, pictures, storyboards..... You get the picture).

If I actually used my Amazon wish list as a way of letting people know what I want them to buy me (I use it more as a web-based memo pad, parking the Amazon entries of books, CDs and DVDs that I want to buy when I have a few bucks to spare on frivolity), I'd consider putting this on the wish list and seeing if there really was anyone foolish enough to buy it for me (I know better than that.... Hell, I'd feel happy if someone bought me The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, which comes in (at less than a C-note, at Amazon prices) at a mere 4% of the price of The Ultimate Star Trek Collection).

Dad? You listening?


Len on 11.08.05 @ 07:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And it appears there is no question that is beyond the ken of Science...

CNN reports on neuroscientific study of humor that may answer the age old question: "Why do men like the Three Stooges more than women do?"

Women seem more likely than men to enjoy a good joke, mainly because they don't always expect it to be funny.

"The long trip to Mars or Venus is hardly necessary to see that men and women often perceive the world differently," a research team led by Dr. Allan L. Reiss of the Stanford University School of Medicine reports in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But they were surprised when their studies of how the male and female brains react to humor showed that women were more analytical in their response, and felt more pleasure when they decided something really was funny.

"Women appeared to have less expectation of a reward, which in this case was the punch line of the cartoon," said Reiss. "So when they got to the joke's punch line, they were more pleased about it."


Men are using the same network in the brain, but less so, he said, men are less discriminating.

"It doesn't take a lot of analytical machinery to think someone getting poked in the eye is funny," he commented when asked about humor like the Three Stooges.

While there is a lot of overlap between how men and women process humor, the differences can help account for the fact that men gravitate more to one-liners and slapstick while women tend to use humor more in narrative form and stories, Reiss said.
Well, it's time to start writing the members of the Nobel Assembly, the members of the medical class of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the surviving Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine (and any of the rest of the folks on this list that you can think of), and start lobbying. If this research isn't worthy of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, then nothing is.

Len on 11.08.05 @ 07:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Guido is much smarter, richer, and more accomplished than I, but I simply do not believe it. And I say that as a Catholic, a Republican, a middle aged novice surfer, and someone whose spouse still tells him he is good looking, i.e., a person prepared to believe a lot of improbable things. By way of disclosure, I should say I certainly hope my teachers at Yale do not remember me, since I was, in retrospect, pretty insufferable, but then, in my own defense, so were many of my teachers.
--Tom Smith [On former Yale Law dean Guido Calabresi's claim to remember Supreme Court Justice-designate Samuel Alito's first year torts examination]

Len on 11.08.05 @ 06:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In honor of the recent publication of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes...

I'll point you to an interesting slideshow about Calvin and Hobbes over at Slate.

And, because I mentioned the phenomenon here not all that long ago, here's an online meditation on the "pissing Calvin", and variations on that theme.

Len on 11.07.05 @ 12:43 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Someone else has been busy this weekend....

but she's been posting (unlike me). Hie thyself over to MadKane.com to read (no audio link, at least not yet) a limerick inspired by Sen. Reid's calling the closed door Senate session, and a special leak to MadKane.com: Harriet Miers's memo about those White House Ethics classes (and there is an audio link for this one).

Len on 11.07.05 @ 10:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Than Mere Pride and Prejudice...

...Are we Victims of our own Stupidity??

“…Employment-based health insurance is the only serious source of coverage for Americans too young to receive Medicare and insufficiently destitute to receive Medicaid, but it's an institution in decline. Between 2000 and 2004 the number of Americans under 65 rose by 10 million. Yet the number of nonelderly Americans covered by employment-based insurance fell by 4.9 million.

The funny thing is that the solution - national health insurance, available to everyone - is obvious. But to see the obvious we'll have to overcome pride - the unwarranted belief that America has nothing to learn from other countries - and prejudice - the equally unwarranted belief, driven by ideology, that private insurance is more efficient than public insurance.

Above all, Americans are far more likely than others to forgo treatment because they can't afford it. Forty percent of the Americans surveyed failed to fill a prescription because of cost. A third were deterred by cost from seeing a doctor when sick or from getting recommended tests or follow-up.

Why does American medicine cost so much yet achieve so little? Unlike other advanced countries, we treat access to health care as a privilege rather than a right. And this attitude turns out to be inefficient as well as cruel.

The U.S. system is much more bureaucratic, with much higher administrative costs, than those of other countries, because private insurers and other players work hard at trying not to pay for medical care. And our fragmented system is unable to bargain with drug companies and other suppliers for lower prices.

Taiwan, which moved 10 years ago from a U.S.-style system to a Canadian-style single-payer system, offers an object lesson in the economic advantages of universal coverage. In 1995 less than 60 percent of Taiwan's residents had health insurance; by 2001 the number was 97 percent. Yet according to a careful study published in Health Affairs two years ago, this huge expansion in coverage came virtually free: it led to little if any increase in overall health care spending beyond normal growth due to rising population and incomes….”

-- Paul Krugman (NY Times)

Karen on 11.07.05 @ 07:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Just as Background Information…

...Not implying ANY THING Specific (mind you) - or SUGGESTING anything for any CERTAIN Individual (who's intials *might* be I.L.L).

But click on the "more" button to see a list of 14 individuals granted pardons from ole Child-In-Chief.

Karen on 11.07.05 @ 07:26 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Time to Tap into the Vast Majority of American Politics...

...The NON-Voting Party:

"CONNOLLY: [overlapping] See, that's why people are flocking to my political party. I've started the Non-Voters Party. [laughter]

MAHER: That's a big party.

CONNOLLY: If you – we're now in the majority. [laughter] And we deserve representation, don't you think? [laughter]

HIRA: That's the genius of this strategy, right? Every time he does something right—

CONNOLLY: [overlapping] And our platform will be we'll promise never to appear anywhere. [laughter]

HIRA: Or say anything.

CONNOLLY: And we'll change the locks on all the government buildings and go home. [laughter]

MAHER: Yes, I know what you're saying. Lower – lower – he [GW] lowers the expectations—

HIRA: [overlapping] The bar is so low that every time he does something even at a mediocre level, we're clapping, we're applauding. You're holding your breath for every nomination, like, “Lord Jesus, let this be the one.” [laughter]

-- Bill Maher’s Real Time with Guests Billy Connolly, Nadira Hira and Tony Snow

Or how about this tid-bit: The voices in Columbus say the president's in trouble by David S. Broder:
"...Public and private polls confirm that, as usual, Ohio is an accurate barometer of the national political trends. Bush has slumped badly here, as he has across the country.
But the dominant factor in the changed political climate — identified by my Republican friend and confirmed by the voter interviews — is the war in Iraq.
Those deaths are much more personal — and the wounds much deeper — than the damage to the president's support that has been caused by any of the more recent controversies that have roiled the waters in Washington.

Yet a few sentences later, Broder writes this:
"...As for the indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's main man, for allegedly lying to the grand jury investigating the "outing" of Valerie Plame, it might as well be happening on another planet. More often than not, voters say they know something of what has happened, but as they start to describe their reactions, they find themselves saying that they are not sure who was doing what — or why.

Except for an occasional Democratic partisan, I found no one who was upset with Bush for the actions in his official family — or for the president's silence on the subject up through the time these interviews were being conducted.

But the war is something else..."

Amazing on its face.

First that a significant portion of the public has NO Idea WHY the indictment of an White House official in the first time in more than 135 years is Important or even are "curious" about what it might be about (Lies, False Statements and Obstruction of Justice about the Outing of the Identity of a Undercover CIA agent In a time of WAR!!) is incredible.

Why Incredible? Because the facts of this Plame/Traitorgate case ARE about the WAR. About the Administration Smearing of a Critic over the Intelligence used to justify the WAR by committing the further indecency and affront of OUTING an NOC CIA agent (his wife) to make the Critic look bad or his trip to Niger as a form of CIA Agency nepotism.

Well, similar to Watergate, much of the public at that time was confused and unsure of the issues (and that was a complicated matter compared to this.) But I am still shocked at the level of ignorance and incuriosity on the part of these Americans over this as directly related to the topic they "claim" concerns them most: The WAR.

But supposedly it is now approaching the More "personal" and "wounds yet deeper," to cause this Vast Majority to look up from their Daily Bump-and-Grind and ask the deeper questions of “Why ARE we there?” and “What Price we Will Pay” in the long term for starting this WAR.

It's a start.

Karen on 11.07.05 @ 07:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Church That Bush, Cheney Belong To Calls for Withdrawal From Iraq
Members of United Methodist Church can “go fuck themselves,” says Vice President.
Ironic Times, Monday, November 7, 2005

Len on 11.07.05 @ 05:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Busy, busy.....

Been tending to myself this weekend. Went to see Good Night, and Good Luck yesterday. Had to go all the way out to freaking Cordova to do it (HINT: I don't do suburbia well), but at least it finally got around to playing in Memphis, unlike The Aristocrats, which is another one of the few movies on my "really want to see" list this summer/fall.

Anyway, one of my main motivations for seeing Good Night... was that David Strathairn played Edward R. Murrow. Strathairn has been one of my favorite obscure actors since he played Captain Fred Benteen (according to the IMDB he was wrongly credited as "Captain William F. Benteen"; the real Benteen was named Frederick William Benteen) in the ABC/Republic Pictures miniseries Son of the Morning Star, a dramatization of Evan S. Connell's masterful Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Big Horn. He didn't disappoint me in this one too. Basically, some of the history is suspect (Murrow wasn't a leading figure in bringing McCarthy down; more that he jumped on a bandwagon that was starting to pick up steam), but the photography (glorious black and white) was excellent, and some of the other performances were superb. I was impressed with the jobs done by Robert Downey, Jr. and Patricia Clarkson as Joe and Shirley Wershba (whose "secret" marriage in violation of CBS personnel policies was hardly a secret), George Clooney (who also directed) as Fred Friendly, Ray Wise as Don Hollenbeck, and Frank Langella as CBS head William Paley.

A masterstroke on Clooney's part was using archive footage of the real Senator McCarthy, rather than casting an actor for the part. Especially compelling: footage of the Army-McCarthy hearings, including Army counsel Joseph Welch's famous scolding of McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency, Senator?" Seeing the guilty look on McCarthy's face as Welch scolds him is well worth the price of admission all by itself.

A favorite line: Sig Mickelson, a network head, is telling Morrow about network fears that Morrow's show will lose Alcoa as a sponsor if he proceeds with a broadcast he's planning:

Edward R. Murrow: We'll split the advertising, Fred and I. He just won't have any presents for his kids at Christmas.
Sig Mickelson: He's a Jew.
Edward R. Murrow: Well don't tell him that. He loves Christmas.
Meanwhile, I regret to say I'll probably be pretty quiet here for the next month or two. I've just been handed a huge project at work, which will be sucking away much of my free time. I should get a post or two in most days, but don't be too suprised; I've not fallen into a pit. And at least Karen should be around to amuse y'all most of the time. :-)

Len on 11.06.05 @ 09:11 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Jim Rockford: [answering machine picks up] This is Jim Rockford. At the tone leave your name and message, I'll get back to you.
Masculine Voice: It's Pete. Hope you enjoyed using the cabin last week. Only next time leave the trout in the refrigerator, huh? Not in the cupboard.
--The Rockford Files [TV Series]

Len on 11.06.05 @ 05:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yet another GEM...

"...Vice President Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to Republican senators this week to allow CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terror suspects in U.S. custody, according to participants in a closed-door session.

Cheney told his audience the United States doesn’t engage in torture, these participants added, even though he said the administration needed an exemption from any legislation banning “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment in case the president decided one was necessary to prevent a terrorist attack.


There is nothing less than our precious freedoms at stake here, and when push comes to shove, we shouldn't let quaint antiquainted notions about human rights take precedence over our freedom from fear and harm when it comes to those who would attack us or who pose a danger to our men and women in uniform or the others who serve our country in covert ways through our intelligence services.

Therefore I think we should torture Scooter Libby.

...And if we are going to get to the bottom of who put an American CIA agent in jeopardy, it is incumbent upon us to torture Scooter.

Water board him, strip him naked and smear him with his own feces and walk him on a leash down the mall, beat him with rolled-up copies of Condolezza Rice's unread National Intelligence Estimates, keep him awake for hours on end while reading to him from James Lilek's new book, Cute Things Gnat Said While I Was Lurking Around the Bra Department At Target, until he tells us who tipped him off about Valerie Plame.

A secure America demands no less.

We might want to smack Karl Rove around too. That fat prick knows something.

I can just feel it..."


Very Funnie. Can we all watch on C-Span?


Karen on 11.06.05 @ 11:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Femme Fatal-lisms?

Dowd Jones:

“...Todd Purdum says [Maureen] Dowd is "bewitching … a sorceress." (Note to Todd: Next week, I'm coming to your house and I'm going to wave a shiny spoon in front of your eyes and get you to empty your bank accounts into mine.)

Michael Kinsley says she's "reinvented" the newspaper column, which may be a function of the fact that Dowd apparently is the only living human being with whom Kinsley's had contact since he joined the Borg out there in Redmond. Kinsley also believes that Dowd is Edith Wharton, who did not sprawl on staircases, at least to my knowledge.

Aaron Sorkin needs to get back to work. Soon.

Of the quotes attributed to former Clinton flack Michael McCurry, the less said, the better. The poor man's had enough trouble with other people's libidos.

Gentlemen, please, on behalf of the entire gender, find a nice lake in northern Lapland and throw yourselves into it immediately. What in the name of Dorothy Thompson is going on here? The piece contains an apparently serious examination of whether Dowd fancies herself a word-cracking dame from a 1930s romantic comedy, or a Chandlerian femme fatale from a 1950s film noir. (She's neither, by the way; nor does the simple fact of her hair color make her Rita Hayworth any more than it makes her Ron Howard. Pass it on.).."

This is TOO FUNNIE and entertaining as a GEM of the week!!


Karen on 11.06.05 @ 11:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

How things might have been perceived....

If Fox News Had Been Around Throughout History

It was tough trying to pick a sample; there are a number of good ones. But in the end, this one won out:

Len on 11.05.05 @ 07:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

"God exists" is not a statement but a shibboleth: those who utter it, belong; those who refuse to, do not deny anything in particular but refuse to conform.
--Walter Kaufmann

Len on 11.05.05 @ 07:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's FUNNIE...

Bush Orders to Attend Ethics Briefing:

"...The White House counsel's office will conduct a series of presentations on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for those aides with security clearances.

"Your attendance at one of these sessions is mandatory," said a memo to White House staff from White House counsel Harriet Miers.


The briefings will provide a refresher course on general ethics rules, including "the rules governing the protection of classified information," the memo said..."

Kinda like closing the Barn Door AFTER the all the horses have Bolted!!

But perchance his motto is changing from "I will restore integrity and dignity to the White House" [Hahahahaha] to "Any Better Late than Never effort, no matter How Days Late and Half-dollar Short, immediate actions must be taken to attempt to salvage my plummeting poll numbers?"

Anyone except the most Rabid, Power-punch-drunk, moral-equivocating Rethugnican Weasels STILL supporting this President as Honest??? How about Ethical? Strong? Trustworthy?


Fooey on the Child-In-Charge, Dick-Yourself and Blooming-Shit-head (who, presumably, has seat *Front Row and Center* for the Ethically challenged classes!!!) Hahahahaha!

Karen on 11.05.05 @ 01:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Dowd reviews the case on allowing WOMEN to RUN the WORLD...

"I've said it before and I'll say it again: Men are simply not biologically suited to hold higher office. The Bush administration has proved that once and for all.

These guys can't be bothered to run the country. They are too obsessed with frivolous stuff, like fashion and whether they look fat. They are catty, sometimes even sabotaging their closest friends. They are deceitful minxes and malicious gossips.

And heaven knows they're bad at math. Otherwise, W. would realize that a 60 percent disapproval rating, or worse, means that most Americans would like some fresh blood in the administration. It's appalling to see ringleaders of the incompetent, mendacious crew who rushed into Iraq but not New Orleans getting big promotions and posh consulting jobs...."

-- Maureen Dowd (NY Times).

Well, I've often been on a megalomaniac rant and rave about What if Women Ran the World and HOW much BETTER off we all would be.

But it's Time - Ladies and Gents - for a Full Scale Revamp of this Male Model of Societal madness. Geena Davis is merely setting the stage. [Tho' I've never seen an episode of that show, "Commander in Chief", so can't say if she plays the role with any realism or is doing a good sales pitch for having a Female Executive] But there are oodles of historical models of Female Leaders of countries to look to. Consider their skills and prowess as Commanders-in-Chief and how successful many women have been in these roles.

So, What do you think? Time for a real *Change of Gender* for the ole U.S. of A.??

Oh, and BTW, Maureen, You've got my VOTE!!! [Are you old enough to RUN for the Office of the President?]


Karen on 11.05.05 @ 08:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

With Sword and Shield(s)...

Shields goes for the jugular of the White House and Child-In-Chief while ole Babbling Brooks stumbles over the concept of "accountability" for the bAdmin.

Time to start facing the music it has generated the last five years on pretending to the Ethical High Ground and acting as leaders in the Faux Morality Play of the New Millenium.

Give listen to this Friday debate from the The News Hour with Jim Lehrer:

shieldbrook (5k image)

Shields and Brooks

[If the format is not playable, select the video from this link.]

UPDATE: Also linked on the page above is the Video of and interview of Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. It is well Worth a viewing.

And check out this debate over the Iraq pre-intelligence and War Planning with guest, David Corn.

Karen on 11.05.05 @ 07:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's HOWL of a GEM...

"The highway bill seemed like such a good idea when it sailed through Congress this summer. But now Republicans who assembled the record spending package are suffering buyer's remorse.

Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), who was instrumental in shaping the highway bill in the House, apologized for its excesses during an appearance on Thursday before the Heritage Foundation.

In a speech to a group of conservative academics and policy experts, DeLay blamed the runaway spending of recent years on minority Democrats.

When he took questions, the first came from a senior official at the American Conservative Union, who asked DeLay, "How large does the Republican majority in the House and Senate need to be before Republicans act like the fiscal conservative I thought we were?"

-- Some in GOP Regretting Pork-Stuffed Highway Bill.

Some Apology... eh?

Karen on 11.05.05 @ 07:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Lookin' for God in all the Wrong Places...

Since Loofah Man is at his Christmastian falafel rant and drooling rave yet again - and DANG EARLY too - It’s time to break out my holiday version of “Looking for God in all the Wrong Places.”

[Apologies to Waylon Jennings.]

Click on the "more" button to read the lyrics.

Karen on 11.04.05 @ 02:56 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Finally!!! Evidence that the Iraq War was indeed justified!!!!!

I wonder how much of a jump Bush will get in the poll numbers when the MSM finally picks up this story: Americans Finally Uncover Saddam's Hidden WMVs

Washington D.C. -, The Department of Defense today announced that Allied Forces had finally found Saddam Hussein's WMVs reversing months of negative speculation about the Bush Administration's causes for pursuing the War in Iraq.

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself handled the early morning press conference, clearly ebullient about this success, coming as it did just in time to play a hand in Hussein's tribunal for crimes against the Iraqi people.

"Turns out they were right there all along", Rumsfeld stated, adding, "sitting right in a folder labeled 'WMVs'. Numa Numa, Star Wars Kid, I mean, he had 'em all, right alongside such obvious Baath Party favorites as 'Farm Implement Torture Remix #5' and 'Uday and Qusay's Excellent Adventure'".

Rumsfeld added that it was mere happenstance that led Allied IT Personnel to discover the folder. He said, "Our guys had been using Saddam's computer network to play some FPS head-to-head action."

"Then, one day, an IT specialist was scanning Saddam's hard drive to see what other classic gaming gems he might have squirreled away, we came right across this folder! Are our faces red? You bet! Should we have audited Hussein's computer for other intelligence data? You betcha! Are we gonna find Tariq Aziz's porn stash? Count on it."

Rumsfeld said, "Evidence clearly shows Hussein's deep personal involvement in p2p file sharing: We have the bootleg copies of 'Scarface' and 'Earth Girls are Easy' to prove it. It turns out that Saddam was also a huge fan of 'Xena: Warrior Princess.' He even posted to popular Xena message boards as 'BaathingXena'. Now we can expand the scope of Saddam's tribunal to include the added cost average Iraqis face in procuring their favorite Hollywood entertainment in the face of the Baath Party's blatant disregard for laws of international copyright."

Len on 11.04.05 @ 08:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It's Official!

There simply is no subject so weird or offbeat that there isn't at least one page on the World Wide Web devoted to it.

The latest (well, the latest to come to my attention): a page of cartoons devoted to the topic of Bunny Suicide.

And a lot of these cartoons are funnier than the subject would lead you to believe.

Len on 11.04.05 @ 07:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Kicking Some Pentagonian Butt....

"It was a slide down the toad hole that ended with a bump as I landed in Wonderland: The E Ring office of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld where the great man waited to do battle with me.
The surprise was that four others were joining us: the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace; the vice chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Richard Cody; the director of the Joint Staff, Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp; and the acting assistant secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Larry DiRita.

Good! Five to one. I had them surrounded.

Rumsfeld was working at his stand-up desk when I entered. He was cordial and smiling and remained so throughout. He did a fast count and informed me that I was outranked by a grand total of 11 stars on the three generals he had brought in.

Then the battle was joined: "I'm not hearing anything like the things you are writing about," Rumsfeld said.

I responded that it had been my experience that information coming up the chain to someone with Rumsfeld's reputation was often not the whole truth. Him: "Oh, I know that, but I talk to lots of soldiers all the time. Why, I have given over 600 Town Hall meetings and anyone can ask me anything." Uh-huh.

He suggested that perhaps my sources were all retired general officers who had been too long away from what was happening today. I told him that in fact about half my sources were active duty officers and NCOs.

"How about 70-30 or maybe 80-20?" Rumsfeld countered. No, not really, I said. In fact many of them are not only active duty but also work in the Pentagon -- perhaps some even on his staff.

The debate took us to questions of whether the Army was broken, or not. Rumsfeld said, in his opinion, the Army was "light years better than it was four years ago."

I asked whether our strategy and tactics in Iraq made any sense at all when we cannot figure out some better way of fighting than sending the finest troops in the world down the same roads to be blown up by ever improving terrorist bombs. That by so doing we were playing to the enemy's strong suit in this asymmetric war.

Rumsfeld emphatically agreed, saying he had ordered the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, to begin shifting away from that focus on patrolling to a big push to stand up an effective Iraqi defense force last January, and this was now being done.

Rumsfeld said he had told Iraqi leaders that the American forces needed to begin stepping back because the growing casualties were having an impact on American public support for the war "and they understand that and agree with it."

When I asked why would the Army send bill collectors out to pursue soldiers who lost limbs to a bomb or mine because they didn't check in their armor and the equipment on leaving Iraq or Afghanistan, or were dunned or their paychecks docked for overpayment of combat pay and benefits, Cody and Rumsfeld spoke of a Pentagon computer system that had been running on automatic.

They said weeks or even months passed before a wounded soldier who is shipped back to the United States for treatment was marked down as having left Iraq and thus was no longer eligible for combat pay and benefits. Then it automatically began billing that soldier or deducting money owed from his pay.

Now, Rumsfeld said, there is someone at the Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany and at Walter Reed Army hospital in Washington and the Bethesda Naval Hospital who checks every patient into the computer upon arrival so records are accurate.
Throughout the discussion the defense secretary took notes when he thought he heard a valid point or criticism.
On the way out the defense secretary said, in parting:

"I want you to know that I love soldiers and I care about soldiers. All of us here do."

I replied that concern for the troops and their welfare and safety were my only purpose "and I intend to keep kicking your butt regularly to make sure you stay focused on that goal."

He grinned and said: "That's all right. I can take it.""

-- Joseph Galloway A Battle With Rumsfeld

Karen on 11.04.05 @ 07:21 AM CST [
link] [ | ]


...a Who-Done-It of Bullish Proportions:

"In his nearly 16 years in the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, Detective Chuck Jenkins has seen a lot: old-fashioned cattle rustling, grand theft tractor and thousands of more-pedestrian crimes. But he's never seen anything quite like his most recent whodunit: the case of the stolen bull semen.

The burglary took place Sunday in Smithsburg while Eric Fleming was away from his farm, Stonewood Acres. When he got home that night from a visit to relatives in Pennsylvania, he found that the 70-pound semen tank he had in an outbuilding was open, with the electrical cord pulled out of the liquid nitrogen refrigerator, Jenkins said. Sixty-five "straws," containing the precious bodily fluids of 40 to 50 bulls, were missing.

Jenkins said they were worth $75,000.
......Frozen bull semen is big business because it saves on the transportation cost of putting a bull and a cow into the same pen to breed. Frozen semen can also last for many years, outliving the bull who produced it.

Nonetheless, collecting and keeping the semen can be a challenge. Bulls, for all their reputation for virility, are notoriously finicky about breeding. Their sperm counts are generally low; moreover, it is difficult to collect samples from a bull.

Semen is put in a 4 1/2 - to 5-inch long straw and labeled with the name of its sire.

From there, it is frozen, to be injected later into a cow, known as a dam. Breeders keep careful track of everything: A registered animal will have a well-documented pedigree going back generations that attests to its genetic fitness. A lack of documentation could help authorities catch the culprit, Jenkins said -- an honest buyer would know that the semen had been stolen.

Jenkins said the thief, if he intended to sell the semen, would have to have a portable freezer of his own. Because of the specialized knowledge and equipment required to keep and sell the straws, Jenkins said, the number of potential suspects is limited, but the culprit could have come from a distant state. For that reason, both Jenkins and Fleming have publicized the crime in the hope that someone will provide a tip..."

-- $75,000 in Bull Semen is Stolen from Frederick Farm

Yikes. Here's hoping Mr. Fleming gets his wish "To Catch a [Sperm] Thief."


Karen on 11.04.05 @ 06:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sick yuk o'the day:

Q: What would be necessary to reunite the Beatles?
A: A gun and two bullets.

Len on 11.04.05 @ 06:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Calling a spade a spade, Part Two

From John Dickerson's description of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's arraignment:

When asked how he would plead, Libby responded while seeming to button his coat: "With respect, your honor, I plead not guilty."

It was probably the first time many of the reporters packing the six rows behind Libby had ever heard him speak. The clerk pronounced his name "Lie-by," proving he has not yet become a household name.
Almost makes you wonder if it was a deliberate mispronunciation.

Len on 11.04.05 @ 05:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Calling a spade a spade....

It's been brought to my attention that Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has filed an amendment to S. 1932, "The Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 2005" (the GOP budget legislation currently being considered by the Senate). If adopted, the amendment would change the name of the act to "The Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportion Act".


Len on 11.04.05 @ 04:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

My enthusiasm for various aspects of pop culture is wearing thin. I don't think it's that I have grown too picky. Instead, it's that the people producing it have gotten lazy, lost their inspiration, succumbed to greed, or some combination of the above. Sad as it is to admit, I find it more enjoyable to rake leaves than subject myself to some of what passes for disposable entertainment.
--James Berardinelli

Len on 11.04.05 @ 04:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The faces of a number....

Have you ever wondered what 2000 looks like?

Stick with it to the end. It's worth it.

Len on 11.03.05 @ 08:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

To Dream the Impossible Dream...

IF we could only HOPE that Any Rethuglican moderates and those Remorse-Buyers would finally and permanently come to their senses:

The Revolt Of the Moderates

”…Now, I haven't done the requisite Googling, but I don't think the words "Republican moderates" and "revolt" have appeared together in many sentences over the past four years. As the president and their Republican congressional colleagues merrily undermined the New Deal and environmental protections, threatened reproductive rights, and bungled a war about as badly as a war can be bungled, Republican moderates stayed massively mute. That they suddenly regained their voice last week not only attests to the president's weakness but also calls into question the notion that there's nothing wrong with the Republicans that rallying their base in a clear ideological conflict won't fix. That, of course, is the argument that relieved conservatives are advancing now that Bush has nominated Judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. And it couldn't be farther from the truth.

…Life is unfair, and it's their seats, more than the more secure ones of their hard-right colleagues, that are being added to the Democrats' list of districts to contest in next year's elections. And who knows? Maybe courage, or judgment, is contagious. Having stood up to the president on Davis-Bacon and lived to tell the tale, they might just tell their colleagues who want to cut back on medical assistance to the poor to take a hike. Over in the Senate, they might even reject a Supreme Court nominee who could imperil a woman's right to reproductive choice. Because one thing is certain: Whatever ails the Republican Party, it's not that it's insufficiently right-wing.

-- Harold Meyerson (WaPo)

Karen on 11.03.05 @ 11:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And speaking of Frist not being my senator anymore....

Oh Fuck. Fortunately, I don't have to be real depressed by this yet:

Global Strategy Group for Harold Ford (D). 10/13-20. MoE 2.5% (March 2005 results)
Including leaners

Corker (R) 36 (34)
Ford (D) 39 (39)

Hilleary (R) 38 (41)
Ford (D) 40 (38)

Bryant (R) 37 (40)
Ford (D) 38 (38)
Source: dKos

Fortunately, two of these are within the margin of error. And a quick glance at Ros Kurita's website suggests she's still in the race (I keep thinking I'd heard rumors that she bowed out), so maybe we'll be really lucky and Harold will lose the primary....

The last thing on earth we need is more Harold Ford. I'm not voting for the Rethugnican candidate, by any means, but I'll die before I ever cast a vote for Harold.

Len on 11.03.05 @ 11:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Jon Stewart, on Sen. Bill "Kitty Killer and Aspiring Securities Fraud Convict" Frist's temper tantrum, occasioned by the closed door Senate session a couple days ago (source: dKos's Cheers and Jeers):

Jon Stewart: Republican leaders gathered outside in the hallway to vent:
Bill Frist: About 10 minutes ago or so, the United States Senate
has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership. Once again it shows the Democrats use scare tactics...they have no principles, they have no ideas, they have no convictions...
Stewart [finishing Frist's thought for him]: Our party, on the other hand...I think we're gonna have
plenty of convictions. I believe myself, I may have an indictment in my future. But y'know what else this is?
Frist: This is a pure stunt that is being performed by Senator Reid [and] Senator Durbin...
Stewart: Yes! Stunt! Not a `Midnight Schiavo' or `Mission Accomplished' stunt, but it's stunty! It's stunty!
Frist is such a turd; I'm so glad that soon he's not going to be my Senator any longer.

Len on 11.03.05 @ 11:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's GEM Quote...

"Karl does not have any real enemies in the White House, but there are a lot of people in the White House wondering how they can put this behind them if the cloud remains over Karl," said a GOP strategist.

(((BWA HA HA HA!!!)))

If Rove has no real enemies in the White House it's only because he ate them all for breakfast. Anyone that dictatorial and egotistical is probably not one who "plays well with others."

-- Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake citing a WaPo article

Karen on 11.03.05 @ 10:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Fun with Google image search....

I am told by a very impeachable source that this is the first image retrieved when you do a Google image search on "Mussolini". (Warning: Not Work Safe! unless you work in Playboy's offices or somewhere similar.)

UPDATE: Another source (much less impeachable than the original source) suggests (based on his knowledge of Cyrillic) that this is actually a picture of Alessandra Mussolini, who in addition to being Il Duce's granddaughter is also a right-wing politician or political activist in Italy (good to keep that kind of business in the family, eh?).

Len on 11.03.05 @ 08:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

What a Way to Go – Fosssified F**cks

Speaking of Intelligent Design and those “irreducible complex” bacteria flagellum that has confounded ole Prof. Behe (*teehee*); Check out this on about Rare animal fossil found in copulation stage:

”Scientists in Lucknow have unearthed a 65-million-year-old fossil, showing two tiniest members of the animal family in sexual union.

... However, one needs a microscope to see the fossil sex frozen in time because what Kar and co-workers have captured is between "swarm cells" that are smaller than the width of a human hair.

Swarm cells are one of the three stages in the development of the fungus Myxomycetes, also known as "slime moulds" that are classified due to their creeping behaviour.

Having two flagellas, swarm cells are motile and sexually reproduce by "fusing" to produce what is known as "zygote." Once they are fused, the flagellas are lost. Kar said that the fossil showing two swarm cells in "fused" position and shedding of their flagellas is evidence that the two cells had sex…”

What way to go...trapped for all time and all the world to see with yer flagellum hanging off. Sheesh!!


Which reminds me - that Closing arguments in the Dover PA Intelligent Design trial (Kitzmiller v. Dover School District) are set for tomorrow, Friday, November 4th, and the Judge could rule anytime thereafter.

Karen on 11.03.05 @ 07:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Only a matter of time, I suppose....

Granting, the Christian triumphalists would probably like to see the USPS issue a stamp like this, they haven't gotten it yet. I wonder what was going through the Royal Mail's mind when they ok'ed this distinctly weird holiday stamp issue:

LONDON, Nov 1: A Royal Mail 68p Christmas stamp featuring a man and woman with Hindu markings worshipping the Infant Christ has created a controversy in the United Kingdom.

Hindus are demanding that the Royal Mail withdraw the Christmas stamp, claiming the mother and child image it represents insult their religion, The Telegraph reported.

The image is one of a series of six mother and child stamps that go on sale on November 1.

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, told The Telegraph the image was insensitive, as it showed people who were clearly Hindu worshipping Christ.

"It is the equivalent of having a vicar in a dog collar bowing down to Lord Ram on a Diwali stamp," he said. "These things need to be done with sensitivity."

The stamps were drawn from religious images around the world. The Hindu stamp was taken from a picture that hangs in Mumbai and was painted in the 17th century, the British newspaper reported.

It is an Indianised version of a European print of The Holy family with St Anne and the two angels, according to the city art gallery. It has a European theme but a Mughal setting.

The picture was chosen for Royal Mail by this year's stamp designer, Irene Von Treskow, an Anglican priest in an English-speaking church in Berlin.

She said she was fascinated by the image as it was so interesting to see a Mughal painting with a Christian subject.
Thanks to autoegocrat for the pointer.

Len on 11.03.05 @ 07:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Life as Yoda...

”…Oz wasn't just the voice of Yoda but one of the on-set puppeteers who manipulated Stuart Freeborn's design; in other words, Oz contributed to Yoda's "performance" in front of the camera as well as on the soundtrack.

"Ninety-nine percent of the people think that I just did the voice," Oz said. "They don't grasp that the hard part, the really, really hard part, was the actual performance of the puppet."

Oz first gained fame as an associate of master Muppet creator Jim Henson. Working on "Sesame Street" and "The Muppet Show," Oz gave voice and helped "perform" Miss Piggy, Grover, Cookie Monster, Sam the Eagle and other beloved characters. He also worked as a writer and director on various Henson Productions, moving to live-action directing for such films as "Little Shop of Horrors" (1986), "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988) and, most recently, the remake of "The Stepford Wives."

Talking to Oz was a bit of a surprise because he didn't sound like Yoda or Bert or Fozzie Bear or any other characters who -- despite their vocal differences -- are all distinctively, recognizably Oz-ian. His voice was soft and almost anonymous.

Nevertheless, "I think of them all as parts of me, and parts of everybody," Oz said of his many characters. "If they weren't part of everyone, people wouldn't be touched by them. You can't do characters if you don't love them."

Asked if he could mimic the twisted syntax of Yoda's speech at a moment's notice, the way so many "Star Wars" cultists can, Oz said: "I have the ability, but I never do it. That's just a party trick, something for a trained monkey. His character is quite layered, quite deep, and I don't want to treat him as a party trick."

-- Frank Oz Talks about Life as Yoda.


Karen on 11.03.05 @ 07:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]



Now - I was whining a while back about the Pug and Ugly Mercedes SUV’s and Hummer’s out there on the road. But take a look at this CUTE number from Obvio, a Brazilian car maker:

obvio (11k image)

And this other Zippy Little Number

zippycar (26k image)

WHERE is Mr. Bean™ When ya NEED Him? Hahahahahaha!

Well the article says they could be coming to the United States SOON: California Company Projects Brasilian Car Available for Export to the U.S. by 2007 - Transportation pioneer ZAP (PCX:ZP - News) announced today that it has signed an agreement for the exclusive North American distribution of a new urban car from Brasil with OBVIO! Automotoveiculos S.P.E. Ltda., of Rio de Janeiro.


Put your order in EARLY.

Courtesy of Digg.com.

Karen on 11.03.05 @ 07:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, the silver lining in the dark cloud is....

Bush is still more popular than Richard Nixon was at this point in his second term.

Of course, that's setting the bar pretty goddamned low.

Len on 11.03.05 @ 06:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Support an honorable cause, if you can....

In the summer of 2001, Verlyn and Martha Roskam were on a business trip to Vietnam. At a street merchant's stall in Ho Chi Minh City, they saw what appeared to be 37 American dog tags for sale as souvenirs. The Roskams bought all 37 of the tags, and took it on themselves to return them to the soldiers who lost them (or to their next of kin, in the event that the soldier had died in the interim). In support of that task, they created a Web site (of course). There you can learn the identities of the 9 remaining veterans whose tags are awaiting return (and if you have information about any of them, you can contact the Roskams through their page), and read about the veterans who have had their dog tags returned to them.

Credit: Lurch at Main and Central.

Len on 11.03.05 @ 06:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

So why do we agree to a system in which we're dependent on a foreign country's whim before we can prosecute a criminal inside our own borders? The practical answer is: because we depend on other countries to honor our own diplomats' immunity just as scrupulously as we honor theirs.

The concept of diplomatic immunity--safe passage for diplomats in enemy territory--has existed in some form for centuries. Messengers between armies, approaching under a white flag, have long been understood to be safe from attack. Again, the principle involved was not law or treaty so much as self-interest: if we skewer their emissaries, they'll skewer ours.
--Guest contributer bricker [The Straight Dope Science Advisory Board, on the question "What is diplomatic immunity?"]

Len on 11.03.05 @ 05:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Reason to relax? Or devious liberal media conspiracy?

An acquaintance forwards me this article from the Los Angeles Times (free registration may be required, or use BugMeNot): Nominee Has Some Unexpected Supporters

WASHINGTON — Samuel A. Alito Jr. was quickly branded a hard-core conservative after President Bush announced his nomination, but a surprising number of liberal-leaning judges and ex-clerks say they support his elevation to the Supreme Court.

Those who have worked alongside him say he was neither an ideologue nor a judge with an agenda, conservative or otherwise. They caution against attaching a label to Alito.

Kate Pringle, a New York lawyer who worked last year on Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign, describes herself as a left-leaning Democrat and a big fan of Alito's.

She worked for him as a law clerk in 1994, and said she was troubled by the initial reaction to his nomination. "He was not, in my personal experience, an ideologue. He pays attention to the facts of cases and applies the law in a careful way. He is conservative in that sense; his opinions don't demonstrate an ideological slant," she said.

Jeff Wasserstein, a Washington lawyer who clerked for Alito in 1998, echoes her view.

"I am a Democrat who always voted Democratic, except when I vote for a Green candidate — but Judge Alito was not interested in the ideology of his clerks," he said. "He didn't decide cases based on ideology, and his record was not extremely conservative."


It is not unusual for former law clerks to have fond recollections of the judge they worked for. And it is common for judges to speak respectfully of their colleagues. But for a judge being portrayed by the right and left as a hard-right conservative, Alito's enthusiastic backing by liberal associates is striking.

Former federal Judge Timothy K. Lewis said that when he joined the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in 1992, he consulted his mentor, Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. The late Higginbotham, a legendary liberal and a scholar of U.S. racial history, was the only other black judge on the Philadelphia-based court at the time.

"As he was going down the roster of colleagues, he got to Sam Alito. I expressed some concern about [him] being so conservative. He said, 'No, no. Sam Alito is my favorite judge to sit with on this court. He is a wonderful judge and a terrific human being. Sam Alito is my kind of conservative. He is intellectually honest. He doesn't have an agenda. He is not an ideologue,' " Higginbotham said, according to Lewis.

"I really was surprised to hear that, but my experience with him on the 3rd Circuit bore that out," added Lewis, who had a liberal record during his seven years on the bench. "Alito does not have an agenda, contrary to what the Republican right is saying about him being a 'home run.' He is not result-oriented. He is an honest conservative judge who believes in judicial restraint and judicial deference."
Almost enough to make the conspiracy theorist in me wonder if this is an attempt to poison Alito's nomination by painting him as a likely "turncoat" who won't obey his Religious Reich marching orders once he's sworn in.... :-)

God, I hate living in "interesting times"....

Len on 11.02.05 @ 03:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Too True To Be Funny" department...

Or is it? Only time will tell..... From The Onion, of course: Iraqi Constitution Ratified, Burned:

BAGHDAD—The people of Iraq celebrated the passage of their new constitution Monday, in a formal ceremony that included a stirring speech by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a series of explosions that left 77 dead, and a traditional dance performed by Iraqi schoolchildren.

After many weeks of squabbling and protracted negotiations between Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites, the historic document was declared the law of the land and destroyed late Monday afternoon, in what Talabani characterized as "a vital step toward restoring law and order in this war-torn nation."

A car bomb killing 12 U.S. servicemen and 26 Iraqi civilians briefly interrupted the speech.
Go read the whole thing. Though I half-expect the same story, verbatim, to run in the mainstream press in a few weeks....

Len on 11.02.05 @ 11:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Burning Issues...

I was taking Lauren to the Dr. on Monday [she has bronchitis. :-( ] and the TeeVee was on Oprah and this episode of "Why Do Men Go To Strip Clubs? And Other Burning Questions."

Of course, just after the intro for Rick Reilly, Jay Leno and Brian McKnight, we were called into our cubicle to await the Dr. visit and check up.

So, in case you missed this episode too, here are a few of Rick's answer to many of these "burning" issues from It's Just Men Being Men:

"...Why do men go to strip shows so much? a woman would bark. (My answer: "I only go once a year, to look at the new fall line of shoes.") Or Why don't men cuddle after sex? ("Much too hot.") And What do men think about after sex? ("Is Subway open this late?") Suffice it to say, my pancreas was living on borrowed time.

Q: Why can my husband discuss the Vikings for two hours but us for only two minutes?

A: Men like things simple. Black/white. Win/lose. But relationships are gray/slippery. Not once has a ref brought the two coaches together and said, "While it's true you won 49-0, I felt the way you treated him in the third quarter was a projection of your own insecurities, so, actually, you lose and he wins. Shower up."

Q: Why do baseball players touch their groins with the same frequency as Michael Jackson?

A: When Randy Johnson's 97-mph fastball is about to be hurled at you, you tend to check and secure your valuables.

Q: Why did my husband cry when the Red Sox won the Series but not at our wedding?

A: If you had turned him down for 86 years, he might have.

Q: Do men consider belching a sport?

A: Yes.

Q: What's the deal with men and the remote?

A: See, when we were boys, we had popguns, dart guns, BB guns. Now most of us only have the remote. It feels good in our hands. We're not switching channels to see what else is on, we're shooting the thing that is on. Bang. You're dead. Next victim.

Q: Why do men wear jerseys to the game? Do these nimrods think the coach will suddenly put 135-pound accountants in?

Q: My boyfriend is constantly saying, "Hold on, Honey, only a minute left in the game." Twenty minutes later it's still on. How fricking long is a sports minute?

A: An NFL minute is 17.3 minutes in real time. An NBA minute is 43.8. Neither of these, though, is as long as the "I-only-need-a-minute-to-fix-my-hair" minute. When men hear that, we take our coats off and finish doing the taxes.

Q: Why must our infant son wear eye black during Eagles games?

A: Most men don't fight wars anymore. But there's something embedded deep within our cerebral cortex that still drives us to storm castles, wear ridiculous paint and chant lustily. O.K., so now it's White Castles and eye black and J-E-T-S! But you get the idea.

Q: What is my husband thinking when he takes his sand wedge to bed with us?

A: He's thinking, What if there's a fire in the garage?


Q: When is my husband's high-school linebacker teammate, Hurl, ever going to get off our couch? It's been two months!

A: A: You don't understand. They're Walla Walla High Fighting Panthers. They vowed to never, ever give up on each other. And aren't you glad he's big on vows?

Q: Will the trash take itself out?

A: Babe, there's only a minute left in the game. "

Just in case ya was wondering...


Karen on 11.02.05 @ 11:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy birthday!

To perennial St. Louis fan favorite Willie McGee, who turns 47 today.

Len on 11.02.05 @ 09:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "There's No Accounting For Taste" department:

Frankly, I expect more from professionals in the field, too....

We've just been informed that the American Society of Magazine Editors, meeting in Puerto Rico last month, released their list of The Top 40 Magazine Covers of the Last 40 Years. You can read about it at that link, or you can see thumbnails of the top 40, if you'd rather.

I have to register a couple complaints. First, the thumbnail idea sucks. At least they should link to larger images of the covers, so we can see them in something more clearly approximating their full sized glory, the better to appreciate the work of the art designers and other creative folks who worked so hard to produce these masterworks.

The second is that apparently, the editors who voted on this list clearly had a brain fart, or they are lacking in anything approximating true taste and appreciation of artistic merit. The top honor, number one on the list, was awarded to the January 22, 1981 Rolling Stone cover, featuring John Lennon and Yoko Ono, while number two was the infamous August, 1991 Vanity Fair cover which featured Demi Moore.

That the editors assembled chose covers with a naked John Lennon, or with a naked and pregnant Demi Moore, over this (clearly The Best Magazine Cover Ever Created) says something about the mental stability of the editors (and what it says, I fear, isn't good):

Yes, the [in]famous, January, 1973 National Lampoon, "If You Don't Buy This Magazine, We'll Kill This Dog" cover. Which only came in at number 7 on the ASME list.


Len on 11.02.05 @ 08:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Noting that Clinton's approval ratings remained above 60 percent throughout the impeachment battle, while Bush's are in the low 40s, Podesta said, 'When Clinton said, 'I'm going back to do my work,' people cheered,' Podesta said. 'When Bush says, 'I'm going to do the job I've been doing,' people say, 'Oh, no.'
--Dan Balz and Juliet Eilperin, "A New Moment of Truth For a White House in Crisis", Washington
Post, October 29, 2005, quoting John Podesta, former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton

Len on 11.02.05 @ 06:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

With the World Series over, (congrats and condolences depending on your loyalties) there’s not really much I can add except that I picked the Astros in seven and feel I should change my name to Nostradumbass.
--John Brattain

Len on 11.02.05 @ 04:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Phun with photography....

Some very interesting video clips here (Windows Media Player, or other program that will play .wmv files, like Winamp, required): Interesting High-speed (super slow motion) Video Clips

If you ever wondered what happens when a water balloon bursts, or when a paint ball hits a naked human back.... you'll find out here.

Len on 11.01.05 @ 07:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Eat yer heart out, Karen.....

Actually, I shouldn't pick on her; her 2005 Halloween Family Jack o'Lantern exhibit was quite impressive (especially to someone like me, whose talents extend only as far as being able to carve "Get Lost!!!!!!" in a pumpkin and setting it by the door). But, alas, it wasn't as impressive as this:

Then again, how many of us have a large pumpkin, a set of X-Acto® knives, artistic talent, and way too much time on our hands?

If this isn't enough, find a whole lot more at Pumpkingutter.com.

Len on 11.01.05 @ 04:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And I'm sure this is what Tim Berners-Lee was thinking of....

when he first came up with the idea of the World Wide Web....

Over at The Sneeze ("Half zine. Half blog. Half not good with fractions."), Steve is going to inaugurate The Sneeze Cam with this earthshaking experiment: growing Magic Rocks LIVE!!!--on the webcam. Steve, ever the mindful multimedia mogul, does provide a disclaimer (no doubt on the advice of counsel):

I really don't know what to expect now because the back of the package said the rocks grow in 30 minutes and the pamphlet inside says it takes 6 hours, along with a bunch of other jibber jabber and extra instructions that were just getting on my nerves.
The fun starts at 11 AM PST (2 PM EST, 1 Central).

Be there or be square.

Len on 11.01.05 @ 12:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Re l'affaire Plame, Larry Johnson hits 5 consecutive dingers....

Taking his own inspiration from the indictment of "Scooter" (how does one take seriously an allegedly mature man in a position of power who insists on being called "Scooter"? The only time a grown man should answer to a six-year old's nickname is if he's a ballplayer, and even then he's entitled to object), Larry Johnson of No Quarter has penned 5 very pertinent posts over the past several days:

Update on the Lies of Ambassador Wilson:

The radical right is desperate and grasping at straws in the wake of Scooter Libby's indictment. They are carrying copies to most TV interviews of the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee from July 2004 regarding what the intelligence community knew and reported on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. One poor soul on Wolf Blitzer the other day tried reading from it in a desperate bid to try to make Joe Wilson the focus of the story. Sorry guys, Joe didn't get indicted for perjury, Scooter did. Let's keep our liars list up to date. Okay?
Bob Woodward, Lost in Cronyism
How is it that one of the most revered investigative reporters of our generation is such a dunce when it comes to outing a CIA officer? If you had a chance to watch Woodward's "dazzling" performance on Larry King Live this past Thursday, you would have been treated to the spectacle of incurious Bob dismissing the leaking of a CIA officer's identity as gossip run amuck. Nothing more, nothing less. Yep, nothing to report here, move along.

Yet, for those more in touch with the inner workings of Washington, Woodward's vain attempt to downplay this matter sure smacks of someone trying to protect his sources. In a recent Washington Post puff piece on Lewis "Scooter" Libby we are told that Scooter:
attends the weekly gathering of Bush's top economic advisers and -- according to Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack," about the Bush administration's run-up to the Iraq war -- was one of two non-principals who attended National Security Council meetings with the president after Sept. 11, 2001 (the other was Condoleezza Rice's then-deputy, Stephen Hadley).
Isn't that special. Is it possible that Scooter has been a source that helped Bob Woodward get his inside scoops?
No Underlying Crime, Not!
The Republican spin machine is fully engaged and the word is out on the indictment of Scooter Libby,
NO UNDERLYING CRIME WAS COMMITTED. In other words, Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald did not file any charges against Libbying for compromising a CIA officer's cover under the Identities Protection Act. Nope. He just charged Libby with technicalities like perjury and obstruction of justice.

Ignore for a moment that Fitzgerald said at the start of his press conference that Valerie Wilson's cover was blown. Cover your ears and pretend that he really did not mean to say that prior to Robert Novak's infamous column her association with the CIA was known only in classified circles.

Here is a novel idea. Fitzgerald is proscecuting Libby because he has obstructed or blocked or hindered (you choose the word) the investigation. He, Libby, has refused to provide the evidence he has of the crime of helping finger Valerie as an intelligence officer. As a result, he gets an obstruction of justice charge and lying to a federal law enforcement officer. Just because Patrick Fitzgerald has not yet collected sufficient evident to charge Libby with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, because Libby has tried to cover up his crime, does not mean a crime was not committed.
And in Who Forged the Niger Documents? and More on the Niger Forgery, Johnson points out some good work being done in, of all places, American Conservative.

Some must-reads there.

Len on 11.01.05 @ 12:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And speaking of Alito....

Atrios posted an interesting study of "judicial activism". The short form: for all the lip service paid to "judicial restraint", it's been those "restrained", conservative judges who have more often voted to invalidate congressional legislation than the judges associated with the so-called "liberal" bloc. In Atrios's own words: "Judicial Activism usually means nothing more than "Judgifying I don't like." In other words, it means nothing."

Just a matter of whose ox is gored....

Len on 11.01.05 @ 12:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Having had a Merry Fitzmas (I assume), Mad Kane celebrated....

by posting some limericks inspired by "Scalia-lite". And, of course, an audio version, as always.

Len on 11.01.05 @ 12:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I should save this til after Thanksgiving....

But WTF, the stores have the holiday decorations on the shelves already, and if I put it off I'll forget it (I only barely remembered the demented pumpkin sculpture for yesterday...). If I owned a house, this would be the kind of holiday season decorations I'd put up, on general principle:

Credit: Pete Vonder Haar

Len on 11.01.05 @ 11:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About those Frivolous Medical Claims...

...and the Child-In-Chief's assertions that paying out on these claims is bankrupting the medical system - requiring legislative limits on a patient's ability to file such claims:

"A new report based on data filed with the Washington insurance commissioner's office indicates that total claims payments by Washington's largest malpractice insurer have declined over the last 10 years, even before accounting for inflation.

The Report, "An Analysis of the Claims Payments and Performance of Physicians Insurance, A Mutual Company," was released today by Washington Citizen Action and the Center for Justice & Democracy, a national non-profit consumer organization. The report is based on data filed by Physicians Insurance, which writes more than half of all medical malpractice insurance sold in Washington. The data were compiled directly from the financial statements Physicians Insurance has filed with the Washington Office of Insurance Commissioner for the last ten years, as well as for the first half of 2005. The information set forth in the Report includes the company's premiums, losses, number of claims paid each year, and average claim size each year.

Over the last ten years, according to the report,

-- Physicians' total claims payments in Washington declined by 19 percent;

-- The number of claims Physicians paid in Washington declined by 23 percent;

-- Physicians' surplus increased by 49 percent;

-- Physicians' premiums increased by 99 percent.

In addition, according to the Report, Physicians' ten most recent Annual Statements indicate that Physicians has historically paid out 39 percent less on a given year's policies than it projected it would pay out.

"The data in this Report, which were compiled from statements filed under oath with the commissioner's office, make clear that Physicians' Insurance is taking in too much, not paying out too much," said Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Democracy. "To reduce malpractice rates, the state should adopt standards that malpractice insurers must follow in setting their rates. Otherwise, rates can rise even when claims payments are falling, as is the case in Washington today."

The Report was researched and written by former Missouri insurance commissioner Jay Angoff for the Center for Justice and Democracy. A copy or the report can be found Here.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 11.01.05 @ 11:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

On Sept. 4, 2005, the New York Times printed the following intriguing correction:

An article last Sunday about film piracy included incorrect revenue data supplied by the Motion Picture Association of America. Hollywood's global revenue in 2004 was $44.8 billion, not $84 billion. Of the total, $21 billion, not $55.6 billion, came from sales of DVDs and Videos.
The correction was the result of a Times reporter, Timothy L. O'Brien, asking the Motion Picture Association of America to furnish the combined global take of the major studios in 2004. The six major studios submit their revenue reports to the MPAA, which, in turn, compiles the total revenue received from theatrical distribution, video sales (now mainly DVD), and television licensing. These data are then circulated among top executives in the All Media Revenue Report.

Instead of supplying the New York Times with the actual numbers, the MPAA sent bogus figures. Hollywood's DVD revenue alone was inflated by more than $33 billion, possibly to make the MPAA's war against unauthorized copying appear more urgent. Of course, the reporter had no way of knowing these impressive-sounding numbers were inaccurate and published them in an otherwise accurate story on film piracy. Such are the perils of Hollywood reporting. Since Hollywood is an industry dedicated to perpetrating illusion, its leaders often assume they have license to take liberties with the factual elements that support the movies they make. This practice is euphemistically described by marketing executives as "pushing the reality envelope."
--Edward Jay Epstein

Len on 11.01.05 @ 07:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Since Gonzales was *Unacceptable* to THE BASE...

...yet another White Guy with Ultra-Conservative leanings was the only Child-In-Chief "divide and conquer" pick. But Democrats and left-leaning *liberals* are not the only unhappy campers....

" The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) expresses its profound disappointment that for the third time in the last six months President George W. Bush has ignored the estimated 41.3 million Americans of Hispanic descent in his choice to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.

[I]n nominating Judge Samuel Alito, the President has missed an opportunity to create a historic legacy by nominating the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court. On June 6, 2005, the HNBA presented the President with a list of eight candidates who are highly qualified to serve on the High Court and among the brightest minds in the legal profession. The President's decision to overlook them is inexplicable.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 11.01.05 @ 07:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Mr. Photo Op goes to Howard University

Could the Child-In-Chief be any more OUT of TOUCH than this piece from the WaPo illustrates:

"...What might have been a public relations coup for Bush -- a visit to a historically black college to show concern for at-risk youths -- ended up as another Katrina-like moment, with the president appearing spaced-out, waving and smiling for television cameras while students were trying to break through campus security to get to the cordoned-off cafeteria.
All he had to do was drop in on Soul Food Thursday, be seen sharing a wing and some collard greens with students -- and score one for the GOP.

But the visit went from bad to worse. On a day when the U.S. Senate passed a resolution paying tribute to civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who died last week, campus security guards were telling students that if they wanted to eat they'd have to come back when the president and first lady were gone, then go to a service door at the rear of the dining hall and ask for a chicken plate to go. Never mind that a student meal plan at Howard can cost as much as $2,500 a semester.
To set off a student protest at this school, you'd have to be politically tone-deaf in the extreme, out of touch and flying blind. And yet, Bush did it."

So much for Mr. Photo Op - out of touch, insensitive, stonewalling, unaccountable, incompetent, and who's only play-book rule is a variation of Divide and Conquer.

Karen on 11.01.05 @ 06:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

On to the Other Big Holidays...

Well, Now that Halloweenie is a *wrap* - It's time to start thinking about that holiday Calendar:

Here's a few FUN Holiday facts brought to you by the U.S. Census Department about Christmas:

1,162 is the Population of Christmas, Fla., an unincorporated town.

Other places whose names are associated with the holiday season include:
North Pole, Alaska (population 1,659 in 2004);
Santa Claus, Ind. (2,201);
Santa Claus, Ga. (238);
Noel, Mo. (1,476);
The village of Rudolph, Wis. (418).

and this:
1.9 billion is the Number of Season's Greetings and Christmas cards sent to friends and loved ones every year, making Christmas the largest card-sending occasion in the United States. The second largest is Valentine's Day, with approximately 192 million cards being given.

20.8 million is the Number of Christmas trees cut around the country in 2002. These trees were located on 21,904 farms spread out across 447,000 acres. USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

For more FUN stuff on Holiday facts - check out this link at US News Wire.

Karen on 11.01.05 @ 06:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Winning Web Designs...

This was from a while backover at Discourse.net, but caught my attention as a funnie about Webpage designing. These are things that designers fail to include in the Webpage making them *poor* quality (at least according to that author. *wink*)

1. No Author Biographies
2. No Author Photo
3. Nondescript Posting Titles
4. Links Don't Say Where They Go
5. Classic Hits are Buried
6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation
7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
8. Mixing Topics
9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service

And tho', as an all purpose Techno-Dweeb with minimal HTML skills, I have Absolutely NOTHING to do with how our Webpage looks or functions. (Len RULES!!!)

My only job is to add posts and keep ya'all suitably entertained around here!!! (*smile*)

But I thought you might find this *amusing* any-ole-way.

So, How does YOUR Webpage stack-up? Hmmmm...?


Karen on 11.01.05 @ 06:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

November 2005

Archives of Blogger site
Archives: May '04-Feb '05
Archives: Feb-March '05

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Len's sidebar:
About Len (The uncondensed version)
Memorial to a dear friend
Frederick W. Benteen
The Web of Leonards
The St. Louis Cardinals
The Memphis Redbirds
The St. Louis Browns
The Birdwatch
Hey! Spring of Trivia Blog
BlogMemphis (The Commercial Appeal's listing of Memphis blogs)
The Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything
George Dubya Bush Blows
asshat.org (be sure to refresh your window for more "wit and wisdom" from Our Beloved Leader)
Taking the Fight to Karl
Main and Central (blog by, for and about veterans and their issues)
LordCo Centre
Kraftwerk: Chicago, 6/4/2005
My Chicago: Part One
My Chicago, Part Two
Millennium Park
Miscellaneous Chicago
Busch Stadium Tour and BoSox/Cards Game: 6/6/2005
St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum
Len's All-Busch Stadium Team (and the voting results)

Len's extended blogroll:

Brock's Sidebar:
About Brock
The Agitator
Armchair Capitalists
Boing Boing
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
The Decembrist
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Flypaper Theory
Heretical Ideas
John and Belle Have a Blog
Jon Rowe
Lawyers, Guns, and Money
Leiter Reports
LGF Watch
Literal Minded
Marginal Revolution
Matthew Yglesias
Oliver Willis
Orin Kerr
Political Animal
The Poor Man
Signifying Nothing
Unqualified Offerings

Moonbat Icon

Our Alumni Club:
(of whom we're very proud)
Karen McLauchlan, now blogging at:

The Rocky Top Brigade:

A New Memphis Mafia

The Old Memphis Mafia

The liberal alternative to Drudge.

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Len supports:
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"Because ranting is safer than enlisting"
Operation Yellow Elephant Blog

The Rebel Alliance of Yankee Haters
Blue Squadron (NL)
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