Saturday, June 30, 2007

England Almighty

It seems Americans are not alone when it comes to the whacky apocalyptic department.
The summer floods are God's judgement on the immorality and greed of modern society, claim senior Church of England bishops.

One, the Bishop of Carlisle, even said that the introduction of pro-gay laws had provoked God to send the storms that have left thousands homeless.

The bishops argued that while those affected are innocent victions, the flooding was a result of western civilization's decision to ignore biblical teaching. The Rt Rev Graham Dow, said that the floods were not only a result of a lack of respect for the planet, but also a judgement for decadence.

"This is a strong and definite judgement because the world has been arrogant in going its own way," he said. "We are reaping the consequences of our moral degredation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused."
I know that Pat Robertson is probably wetting himself over this, but shouldn't he sue them for plagiarism?

Better Fed Than Red

Uncle Putin may want to revive the Soviet Union and the Cold War, but that doesn't mean the rest of his newly wealthy countrymen are ready to follow him all the way back into the past.
MOSCOW (Reuters)-Russia capped its journey from communism to capitalism on Sunday with the opening of a $1,000-a-night (500-pounds-a-night) luxury hotel on the site of an old Soviet hostelry best known for its surly service and bugged telephones.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel near Moscow's Red Square sets a new standard for decadence in a city where an oil-driven economic boom has created an explosion of wealth and a headlong rush to spend it.

The hotel's presidential suite-where the dining room is fitted with bullet-proof glass and windows-costs a little over $16,000 a night.

That does not include breakfast, but hotel staff recommend the Tsar's breakfast, a $700 per person meal that includes Cristal champagne, Belugia caviar and a truffle omelette.
Karl Marx must be spinning in his grave.

Tehran Tea

Iranians may finally be figuring out what the rest of the world already knows.
Yet last week, two years after his election to power on a promise to help Iran's dontrodden masses, Mr Ahmadinejad, 49, finally learnt the downside of the demagogic approach-namely, that running a country of 69 million inhabitants as a one-man band involves taking blame as well as credit.

The issue was not over his notorious threats to "wipe Israel off the map", his defiance on Iran's nuclear programme, nor his puritanical desire to return to the early days of the Islamic revolution. Instead, the man who considers himself on a divine mission was floundering because of his inability to minister to one of his flock's most basic needs: petrol.

On Tuesday, a proclomation from his palace suddenly imposed a fuel ration of three litres (0.6 gallons) a day, a move designed to stockpile supplies because of fears of United Nations sanctions.

Within hours his name was being cursed, as motorists clashed with riot police at fuel stations and set garage forecourts ablaze.

"Without fuel I cannot earn," said the driver of a battered saloon car who had finally reached the head of a long queue for petrol. He was a shopkeeper who, like many residents of Teheran, supplements a meagre income by moonlighting as a cabbie. "Ahmadinejad is an ass. This is not what he promised the ordinary man."
Good, now that you know that, how about doing the world a favor and overthrowing the creep so we won't have to?

Fly Me To The Moon

Now this would be cool, for those who have a few hundred million to spend.
ASPEN, Colo.-You don't have to pack your bags quite yet, but passenger travel to the Moon is on the flight manifest of a space tourism company.

The price per seat will slap your wallet or purse for a swift $100 million-but you'll have to get in line as the first voyage is already booked.

Space Adventures, headquartered in Vienna, Va., is in negotiations with the customers who will fly the first private epedition to fly around the Moon.

"I hope to have those contracts signed by the end of the year," said Eric Anderson, Space Adventurers' president and CEO.
Eat your heart out, Arthur C. Clarke, wherever you are.

Mom, Taxes And Apple Pie

Of course a Democrat would say something like this.
Just in time for the Forth of July holiday, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) equated higher taxes with patriotism during the third nationally-televised Democratic Presidential debate Thursday evening.

When asked if she believed Americans were paying enough taxes, Clinton praised billionaire U.S. investor Warren Buffett because, as she said, "He's honest enough to say, look, tax me because I'm a patriotic American."

She went on, "We have to change the tax system and we've got to get back to having those with the most contribute to this country."
When in doubt, fall back on the old "It's all the fault of those evil capitalists" mantra. Republicans may be bereft of ideas these days, but at least they're not recycling Roosevelt-era socialism.

Understanding McCain

This is why John Mccain, for all his faults, probably would have made a better president than what we have now had he won the nomination back in 2000.
I opposed Senator McCain in this immigration debate. I believed the policies he advocated were wrong for America and I used every tool at my disposal to defeat his position. However, the way Senator McCain conducted himself represented the essential qualities of leadership the American people deserve.

Senator McCain didn't speak in generalities. He spoke in spedivid terms. He didn't take a position and change his position when he came under withering fire. He didn't pander. He didn't equivocate. He didn't demean his opponents in the Senate or insinuate we harbored base motives or secret prejudices. He was motivated by principal. He believed he was serving his country. He was not inspired by political strategists who foolishly believed they could use this bill to grow the Republican party, and did not lecture his colleagues about why those strategists were smarter and wiser than 80 percent of Americans.

When Senator McCain lost this battle he didn't express self-pity or bitterness. Instead, he said he would carry on and offered a unifying message that is beyond debate, saying, "The American people will not settle for the status quo-de facto amnesty and broken borders."
Aside from the fact that I think that's precisely what the bill would have offered, McCain represents the kind of elder statesmanship (occasional outbursts of nuttiness aside) that's been lacking in the GOP these days. He may not win the nomination, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't listen to him when it counts.

Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl?

And now we have toddler trannies.
From the moment we're born, our gender identity is no secret. We're either a boy or a girl. Gender organizes our world into pink or blue. As we grow up, most of us naturally fit into our gender roles. Girls wear dresses and play with dools. For boys, it's pants and trucks.

But for some children, what's between their legs doesn't match what's between their ears--they insist they were born into the wrong body. They are transgender children, diagnosed with gender identity disorder, and their parents insist this is not a phase.

"A phase is called a phase because it is just that. It ends. And this is not ending. This is getting stronger," Renee Jennings told ABC News' Barbara Walters. The Jennings asked that "20/20" not disclose their real name in order to protect the identity of their 6-year-old transgender daughter, Jazz.
Welcome to the age of sex change operations for kids. Ain't politically correct child psychology wunnerful?

Glasgow Goes Boom

The ROP has struck again.
Two men rammed a flaming sport utility vehicle into the main terminal of Glasgow airport Saturday, crashing into the glass doors at the entrance and sparking a fire, witnesses said. Police said two suspects were arrested.

The airport-Scotland's largest-was evacuated and all flights suspended, a day after British police thwarted a plot to bomb central London, discovering two cars abandoned with loads of gasoline, gas canisters and nails.

"One has to conclude...these are linked," Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, former head of Britain's joint intelligence committee, told Sky News. "This is a very young government, and we may yet see further attacks."
But I thought all terrorism in the UK was Tony Blair's fault for following Bush into Iraq! You mean they hate the Brits no matter who's in charge? What are they, nuts? Oh...wait.

Friday, June 29, 2007

General Mistrust

In case you were wondering, it's not just the Administration's fault that Iraq got screwed up as much as it did.
Last December, Lt. Col. Paul Yingling attended a Purple Heart ceremony for soldiers injured in Iraq. As he watched the wounded troops collect their medals, the 41-year-old officer reflected on his two combat tours in Iraq.

He was frustrated at how slowly the Army had adjusted to the demands of guerilla war, and ashamed he hadn't done more to push for change. By the end of the ceremony, he says, he could barely look the wounded troops in the eyes. Col. Yingling hust had been chosen to lead a 540-soldier battalion. "I can't command like this," he recalls thinking.

He poured his thoughts into a blistering critique of the Army brass, "A Failure in Generalship," published last month in Armed Forces Journal, a nongovernment publication. "America's generals have been checked by a form of war that they did not prepare for and do not understand," his piece argued.

(snip) The conflicting explanations for the Army's struggles in Iraq could also breed mistrust in the ranks. Many young officers are frustrated and exhausted by four years of war and don't understand why their small victories in the field aren't adding up to a safer and more stable Iraq.

"There is enormous pride among young officers in their units and each other," says Lt. Col. Peter Kilner, who recently returned from two months in Iraq interviewing young Army officers for a research project. "But I see strong evicence that they are rapidly losing faith in the Army and the country's political leadership."
The brass knuckleheads running things take their cues from the administration. It's called the trickle-down theory of incompetence.

We Shall Overcome

I wonder if Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will get all worked up over this.
JACKSON, Miss., June 29--The head of a Mississippi Democratic Party organization illegally suppressed white residents' votes, a federal judge ruled Friday in the first case filed by the Justice Department alleging that whites were subjected to voting discrimination based on race.

U.S. Districtc Judge Tom S. Lee ruled that Ike Brown, chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee of Noxubee County, violated the Voting rights Act by issuing different procedures for collecting and counting absentee ballots from white and black voters. The executive committee, also found liable in the case, is responsible for administering Democratic primaries in the county.

There was "ample direct and circumstantial evidence of an intent to discriminate against white voters which has manifested itself through practices designed to deny and/or dilute the voting rights of white voters in Noxubee County," Lee's ruling said.
Well, I'm sure we'll be hearing from the good Reverends any minute now on what a great injustice this is, right?

Closing Time

Hans Blix's old outfit is calling it quits.
The UN Security Council has voted to close down the weapons inspections programme set up to monitor former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's arsenal.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (Unmovic) was set up in 1999 to check Iraq no longer had any weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Its inspectors permanently quit Iraq just before the US invasion in 2003.

The US cited the presence of WMDs in Iraq as justification for its invasion though no such weapons were ever found.
Well, at least Hans still has copies of all the angry letters and memos that Kofi Annan wrote to remember those times by.

It's Alive

Congratulations! It's a new species.
Scientists could create the first new form of artificial life within months after a landmark breakthrough in which they turned one bacterium into another.

In a development that has triggered unease and excitement in equal measure, scientists in the US took the whole genetic makeup-or genome-of a bacterial cell and transplanted it into a closely related species.

This them began to grow and multiply in the lab, turning into the first species in the process.

The team that carried out the first "species transplant" says it plans within months to do the same thing with a synthetic genome made from scratch in the laboratory.

If that experiment worked, it would mark the creation of a synthetic life form.
Wow. If new life forms are created that develop sentience, and they start looking for their gods, they're going to be awfully disappointed.

Invasion Of The Stupids

What is it about disasters that bring out both the best and the dumbest in people?
Along with wind shifts, floating embers and evacuation orders, homehowners and firefighters in the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe must deal with another unpredictable factor--the gawkers.

Onlookers drawn by the spectacle of the fire and firefighters' dramatic efforts have at times fought with tahoe residents and blocked traffic in attempts to wander close to fire zones. Fire authorities say they often have to deal with such lookie-loos, and they warn that people need to stay away from the fire areas.

"They're the disaster tourists," said Rex Norman, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. "They're people who seem to have driven long distances to look at burned houses, which is extraordinarily difficult for the affected residents."

Dave Martinez and Kimberly Holloway drive for more than an hour down from the lake's north shore to take in the spectacle. In the Gardner Mountain section of South Lake Tahoe this week, the couple walked up to the charred line separating the homes from the burned forest and took photographs of the firefighters.

"I travel to a lot of these things," said Martinez, a retired contractor. "But this is the first big one for her," he added, pointing to Holloway.
I wonder if you could charge these idiots admission to walk into the flames.

Murphy's Law

Reality TV, meet reality.
MURPHY, Texas-A sting in which police teamed up with "Dateline NBC" to catch online pedophiles was supposed to send a flinty-eyed, texas-style warning about this Dallas suburb: Don't mess with Murphy.

Instead, it has turned into a fiasco.

One of the 25 men caught in the sting-a prosecutor from a neighboring county-committed suicide when police came to arrest him. The Murphy city manager who approved the operation lost his job in the ensuing furor.

And the district attorney is refusing to prosecute any of the men, saying many of the cases wer tainted by the involvment of amatuers.

"Certainly these people should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but the fact that this was all done for television cameras raises some questions," said Mayor Bret Baldwin.
In an age in which we have government officials justifying all sorts of conduct in the name of catching and punishing bad guys overseas, it's nice to know that in George Bush's home state there are still some people who actually care about the law and due process.

The Final Countdown

Team Bush has been put on notice that King George has to answer some questions.
WASHINGTON-Congressional Democrats took the first steps Friday in what could be a long march to court, with the Bush administration and Congress in a legal tug-of-war over executive and legislative branch powers.

In a letter to White House counsel Fred Fielding, the heads of the Judiciary committees demanded an explanation in 10 days of why the White House claimed executive privelage on subpoenaed documents and vowed to invoke "the full force of law."

The fight centers on an investigation that Democrats initially undertook into the firings of several U.S. attorneys, but which has since branched out to scrutiny of the administration's terrorism-era warrantless wiretapping and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' stewardship of the Justice Department.

"The veil of secrecy you have attempted to pull over the White House by witholding documents and witnesses is unprecedented and damaging to the tradition of open government by and for the people that has been a hallmark of the republic," Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told Fielding.
The Divine Power of Kings is being challenged by those miserable peasants! Quick, Bushbots, man the ramparts!

Martyr Mouse

Well, wasn't this a cute sendoff.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip-A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination on a Hamas-affiliated children's television program was beaten to death in the show's final episode Friday.

In the final skit, "Farfour" was killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a "terrorist."

"Farfour was martyred while trying to defend his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added.
I take it she hadn't been paying attention to who was killing whom in Gaza recently.

Ditching The Doctrine

On the heels of the defeat of the immigration bill comes a flash of sanity from the House.
The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from using taxpayer dollars to impose the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters who feature conservative radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

By a vote of 309-115, lawmakers amended the Financial Services and Government appropriations bill to bar the FCC from requiring broadcasters to balance conservative content with liberal programming such as Air America.

The vote count was partly a testament to the influence that radio hosts wield in many congressional districts.

It was also a rebuke to Democratic senators and policy experts who have voiced support this week for regulating talk radio.
Sorry, John Kerry. You'll have to find some other way to bore people to death.

Fein By Me

Wow. Now this is what I call a smackdown.
Under Dick Cheney, the office of the vice president has been transformed from a tiny acorn into an unprecedented giant oak. In grasping and exercising presidential powers, Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III. The most recent invention we know of is the vice president's insistence that an executive order governing the handling of classified information in the executive branch does not reach his office because he also serves as president of the Senate. In other words, the vice president is a unique legislative-executive creature standing above and beyond the Constitution. The House judiciary committee should commence an impeachment inquiry. As Alexander Hamilton advised in the Federalist Papers, an impeachable offense is a political crime against the nation. Cheney's multiple crimes against the Constitution clearly qualify.
Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. This White House thinks it is a law unto itself. Somebody needs to remind The Decider that the power behind the throne is not a guy lurking in the shadows like Chancellor Palpatine, but a little thing called the law.

Channeling Nixon

Here comes that Watergate feeling again...
The White House asserted executive privelage and rejected two subpoenas from lawmakers probing last year's firings of eight U.S. prosecutors.

"The president has decided to assert executive privelage and therefore the White House will not be making any production in response to these subpoenas for documents," White House Counsel Fred Fielding wrote ina letter to Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont and Representative John Conyers of Michigan, chairmen of the Sneate and House Judiciary Committees.

The White House resistance is likely to touch off a constitutional showdown over Congress's ability to investigate the firing of prosecutors and the president's ability to obtain frank counsel from advisers.
Paranoid and secretive is no way to go through the tail end of a term. son...

Hungry Like The Wolf

If a moonbat faints and nobody cares, does it still make a sound?
A member of the anti-war group Code Pink who had staged a hunger strike in order to force a meeting with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) on his stance on Iran collapsed in the senator's office Thursday.

Leslie Angeline, who had recently traveled to Iran, wanted to discuss the senator's remakrs from earlier this month that indicate he would support a limited air strike on the country.

The 50-year-old woman launched a hunger strike to get a face-to-face meeting with Lieberman but was repeatedly rebuffed, according to Code Pink. However, Lieberman's staff has met with her on the issue.
Well, I'm sure Lieberman will have a thick, juicy burger in her honor.

Diversity Derailed

Affirmative action got another setback in its efforts to ensure that all students will be equal whether they've earned it or not.
WASHINGTON-The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected diversity plans in two major school districts that take race into account in assigning students but left the door open for using race in limited circumstances.

The decision in cases affecting schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle could imperil similar plans in hundreds of districts nationwide, and it further restricts how public school systems may attain racial diversity.

The court split, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Robers announcing the court's judgement. The court's four liberal justices dissented.
When Martin Luther King said he wanted people to be judged not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character, somewhere a liberal said, "Not yet. We need 'em to prove our case first."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Buffett Spread

Oh, please.
Warren Buffett, the third-richest man in the world, has criticised the US tax system for allowing him to pay a lower rate than his secretary and his cleaner.

Speaking at a $4,600-a-seat fundraiser in New York for Senator Hillary Clinton, Mr Buffett, who is worth an estimated $52 billion (26 billion) said: "The 400 of us [here] pay a lower part of our income in taxes than our receptionists do, or our cleaning ladies, for that matter. If you're in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent."

Mr Buffett said that he was taxed at 17.7 per cent on the $46 million he made last year, without trying to avoid paying higher taxes, while his secretary, who earned $60,000, was taxed at 30 per cent. Mr Buffett told his audience, which included John Mack, the chairman of Morgan Stanley, and Alan Patricof, the founder of the US branch of Apax Partners, that US government policy had accentuated a disparity of wealth that hurt the economy by stifling opportunity and motivation.
Spoken like a guy who feels guilty for suddenly discovering that he's got more money than God, all thanks to our evil capitalist system, which he didn't seem to mind before. Let him spread the wealth if he wants to.

All Your Polar Bears Are Belong To Us

Now Uncle Putin literally wants to be on top of the world.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has made an astonishing bid to grab a vast chunk of the Arctic, giving himself claim to its vast potential oil, gas and mineral wealth.

His audacious argument that an underwater Russian ridge is linked to the North Pole is likely to lead to an international outcry.

Some commentators have already observed it is further evidence of growing Russian assertiveness under its authoritarian president.
Well, Pootie, maybe we can lay claim to Siberia in return, 'cause it was once connected to Alaska. This is a stretch, Pootie, even for you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Boozing It Up

If there's anything that illustrates how Team Bush feels about fiscal responsibility, it's this cautionary tale.
The project started in 2003 with a $2 million contract to help the new Department of Homeland Security quickly get an intelligence operation up and running.

Over the next year, the cost of the no-bid arrangement with consultant Booz Allen Hamilton soared by millions of dollars per month, as the firm provided analysts, administrators and other contract employees to the department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection offices.

By December 2004, payments to Booz Allen had exceeded $30 million--15 times the contract's original value. When department lawyers examined the deal, they found it was "groosly beyond the scope" of the original contract, and they said the arrangement violated government procurement rules. The lawyers advised the department to immediately stop making payments through the contract and allow other companies to compete for the work.

But the competition did not take place for more than a year. During that time, the payments to Booz Allen more than doubled again under a second no-bid arrangement, to $73 million, according to internal documents, e-mail and interviews.
When a junkie goes broke, it's his fault as much as the pusher's. In this case, however, I can't even really blame the pusher, because the junkies in the Bush Administration knew what they were doing and wanted their fix anyway.

Unbalancing Act

History's second biggest loser (after Al "The Lorax" Gore) has joined the chorus of his fellow Demwits in demanding equal time on the airwaves.
Wednesday morning Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) told WYNC's Brian Lehrer: "The Doctrine ought to come back. One of the most profound changes to the balance of the media is when conservatives got rid of equal time requirements. And the result is... you know they've been able to squeeze down and squeeze out opinion of opposing views."

Since the Fairness Doctrine was repealed, conservative talk radio has exploded in popularity, while liberal efforts like Air America went bankrupt. The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank comprised of many former Clinton Administration staffers, issued a report on June 21 titled "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio" that concluded 91 percent of weekday talk radio is conservative.
Translation: People like conservative talk radio because it's entertaining and what they want to hear. Conservative commentators offer ideas. Liberal commentators just want to whine. Whiners don't do very well in the marketplace-or the arena of ideas.

Fidel Junior 4 Life

Latin America's favorite Fidel wannabe wants to stick around.
WASHINGTON (Reuters)-Insecurity, "malignant narcissism" and the need for adulation are driving Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's confrontation with the United States, according to a new pshychological profile.

Eventually, these personality traits are likely to compel Chavez to declare himself Venezuela's president for life, said Dr. Jerrold Post, who has just completed the profile for the U.S. Air Force.

Chavez won elections for a third time last December. Since then he has stepped up his anti-American rhetoric, vowed to accelerate a march towards "21st Century socialism" and suggested that he intends to stay in power until 2021-a decade beyond his present term.

But Post--who profiled foreign leaders in a 21-year career at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and now is the director of the Political Psychology Program at George Washington University--doubts that Chavez plans to step down even then. "He views himself as a savior, as the very embodiment of Venezuela," Post said in an interview.

"He has been acting increasingly messianic and so he is likely to either get the constitution rewritten to allow for additional terms or eventually declare himself president-for-life."
In order to profile someone you have to get inside their head. There's not enough money in the world to pay me to get inside Baby Hugo's.

The Envoy

Well, if anyone could pull it off, he could.
UNITED NATIONS-The United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia announced the appointment Wednesday of Tony Blair as their representative to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

A statement from the so-called Quarted of international mediators said the former British prime minister will seek to mobilize international assistance to the Palestinians and develop plans to promote Palestinian economic development.

Blair will also seek international support to address the needs of Palestinian government institutions, "focusing as a matter of urgency on the rule of law," the statement said.
Blair is the closest thing we have to the type of modern-day Solomon the ME needs. If they won't listen to him, the region really is doomed.

Welcome To The Party, Pal

Can you say poetic justice?
BAGHDAD (AP)-Saddam Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali," and two other regime officials will probably be hanged in Kurdistan if the appeals court upholds their death sentences, an Iraqi official said Tuesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to release the information to the media, said no final decision had been taken but the executions would probably take place in either Irbil or Halabja.
Bring popcorn.

Jesus Heart Giuliani

That sound you hear is of fundamentalist heads exploding.
VIRGINIA BEACH-Conservative televangelist Pat Robertson praised the pro-choice, pro-gay rights Rudy Giuliani to the rafters yesterday-stopping just short of giving the former mayor his blessing for the presidency.

"This is supposed to be a nonplotical thing," Robertson said in introducing Giuliani at a lecture series at the preacher's Regent University here. "But we would be remiss to forget the fact that he seems to be running for President."

"And in point of fact," added Robertson, a co-founder of the powerful Christian Coalition, "he may one day become not New York's mayor, but America's leader. So it's a great pleasure to welcome a dear friend and a great leader."

Robertson praised Giuliani as an "outstanding" mayor who cleaned up New York, then rallied the nation and the city through the horrors of Sept. 11.

For Giuliani, who remains atop most national polls of Republicans but has struggled to win over party conservatives, it was like manna from heaven.
Robertson must have remembered to take his medication. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

The Age Of Libertarianism

An interesting look at how the downfall of both the religious right and the radical left may have given rise to something more sensible.
Evangelicals and Aquarians were more alike than they knew. Both sought firsthand spiritual experience, both believed that such experience could set them free and change their lives; both favored emotional intensity over intellectual rigor; both saw their spiritual lives as a refuge from a corrupt and corrupting world. That last point, of course, was subject to radically different interpretations. Aquarians rejected the establishment because of its supposedly suffocating restrictions, while the evangelicals condemned its licentious, decadent anarchy. Between them, they left the social peace of the 50's in ruins.

(snip) But no new, improved social consensus emerged to replace the one that collapsed. Instead, with the culture wars and division between "red" and "blue" America, our ideological categories and allegiences continue to perpetuate the warring half-truths of the great spiritual upheavals of the '60's. Yet despite this confusion, a new modus vivendi has managed to emerge that contains within tolerable bounds the ideological dissatisfactions of both the countercultural left and the religious right.

(snip) The resulting cultural synthesis that prevails today, this accidental by-product of ideological stalemate, remains nameless. It could be called liberal, in the larger sense of the tradition of individualism and moreal egalitarianism that America has always embodied. It could also be called conservative, if that same liberal tradition is understood to be the object of conservation. But the ideologies that pass for liberalism and conservatism today are too weighed down with authoritarian elements for either to lay claim to the real American center. Since American society today is committed to a much wider scope for both economic and cultural competition than was allowed before the '60's erupted, it makes most sense to call that center libertarian.
It would be nice if that center were able to gain a political foothold against the ideologues who control both parties. So far, the candidacy of Rudy Giuliani is the closest thing we have to this centrist spirit. I hope the GOP takes notice before its left on the sidelines.

No Docs, No Dough

It looks like Number Two has changed his mind.
Dick Cheney's office is abandoning a justification for keeping the Vice-President's secret papers out of the hands of the National Archives.

Officials working for Cheney had tried to claim he is separate from the executive branch, but they will no longer pursue that defense, senior administration officials tell The Politico.

The decision follows a threat by rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), the No. 3 House Democrat, to try to cut off the office's $4.8 million in executive-branch funding.
Funny how the threat of losing one's paycheck can suddenly make them pay attention.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Will To Win

That durn librul Newt Gingrich offers his thoughts as to what's wrong with the current WOT strategy and why it may cost us big time down the road.
The Hamas victory in Gaza is a warning that World War IV (as Norman Podhoretz has called it) is going to be long and hard. It is also a warning that the West is currently losing that war.

These defeats are not a function of the courage and will of the American people. In a June poll sponsored by American Solutions, 85 percent of the American people said it was important to defend America and its allies. Only 10 percent were opposed. On an even stronger question, 75 percent said it was important to defeat America's enemies. Only 16 percent disagreed.

So the hard left in America is only 16 percent. It is outnumbered almost 5-1 by those who would defeat our enemies.

The source of failure is not to be found in the American people but in the inarticulate and unimaginative leaders all across government who now preside instead of lead.

The tragedy of the current debate in Washington is that while the inarticulateness and the failing performance of the Bush administration have led the American people to desire a new direction, the politics of the left insists that the new direction be less than President Bush. Yet the lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, New Jersey, the JFK plot, the Algerian bombings, the Iranian nuclear program, the conflict in Lebanon and now the defeat in Gaza all point to the need for a war policy that is substantially bigger and more robust than Mr. Bush.
We may or may not lose in Iraq. But we can't let that be seen as a failure in the WOT as a whole. Unfortunately, Team Bush can't seem to see beyond Iraq at this point.

Mommy's Little Terrorist

Can anyone explain exactly what the point of this is?
US celebrity and anti-war activist Rosie O'Donnell has been labelled "sick" and "hungry for public attention" after posting a photo on her blog of her four-year-old daughter dressed as a child soldier.

The controversial image of Vivienne is accompanied by a video called "dress up."

The video begins with the headline, "Last Year a Princess", and shows pictures of the youngster wearing various princess-like outfits.

Then the headline, "This Year a Soldier" appears, followed by a series of images of Vivienne in camouflage clothing, with a toy ammunition belt wrapped around her shoulder.

The video ends with the message "Peace Out" and a close-up shot of Vivienne's eye.
Don't worry, kid. When you're in therapy years from now for drug abuse and trying to rob a convenience store, you'll know who to blame.

"Give Me Gas Or Give Me Death"

Ima Dinnerjacket may be prepping for war, but it appears not all Iranians are willing to sacrifice for the duration.
At least one petrol station has been set on fire in the Iranian capital, Tehran, after the government announced fuel rationing for private motorists.

Iranians were given only two hours' notice of the move that limits private drivers to 100 litres of fuel a month.

Despite its huge energy reserves Iran lacks refining capacity, forcing it to import about 40% of its petrol.

Tehran is trying to rein in fuel consumption over fears of possible UN sanctions over its nuclear programme.
But I thought the nuke program was supposed to help the Iranians with their energy-oh, wait. They need to use it against those nasty Joos and Westerners first, don't they?

Blondie's Latest

Only Ann Coulter could make me feel any sympathy for John Edwards.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)-Elizabeth Edwards pleaded Tuesday with Ann Coulder to "stop the personal attacks," a day after the conservative commentator said she wished Edwards' husband, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, had been killed by terrorists.

"The things she has said over the years, not just about John but about other candidates, lowers the political dialouge at precisely the time we need to raise it," Edwards said by phone on MSNBC's "Hardball" program, where Coulter was a guest.

Elizabeth Edwards said she did not consult her husband before confronting Coulter on the air, adding that she felt the pundit's remarks were "a dialogue of hatefulness and ugliness."

"It debases political dialogue," Edwards said. "It drives people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language."
Well what was she expecting from Ann-common sense?

Risk Isn't Our Business

Now this is what I call grasping at straws.
Two things happened on Thursday: 1) A Newsweek poll was released, showing that approval ratings for Congress have fallen to Bushian levels, with only 25 percent of Americans giving Congress their favor. 2) The Blackstone Group, an enormous private equity firm, got the OK to go public, bringing its market value to $40 billion. Like all private equity firms, Blackstone's income is taxed as capital gains at 15 percent, instead of the standard corporate tax rate of 35 percent.

It doesn't take a public relations consultant to figure out what happened next. (Actually, it probably took at least a dozen, but who's counting?) With a whiff of desperation in the air, Congress took a flying leap on the Blackstone-bashing bandwagon.

Leading the charge was the once and future presidential candidate and Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich. He shot off a letter to the SEC (along with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Ca.)) asking the agency to hold up the Blackstone IPO while Congress puzzled out the bst way to demagogue the issue.

Kucinich and Waxman fretted that small investors could be harmed, simoltaneoulsy worrying that trading Blackstone on the market was "exposing unsophisticated investors" to risk, while "depri[ving]" them of control over the management of the funds and of many of the protections provided by fiduciary typically owned to them by management."
That's right-Congress wanted to go after an equity firm because they couldn't figure out a way to spin their low poll numbers. They said it was about protecting unsosphisticated investors. How about protecting unsophisticated voters from these mental midgits?

Minister Of Murder

Oh, yeah, the Iraqis are really ready for democracy.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN)-Authorities in Iraq on Tuesday raided the home of the country's Sunni culture minister, whom they accused of killing two people during an assassination attempt two years ago.

The Iraq Judiciary Council issued a warrant for Assad al-Hashimi, who wasn't home when his central Baghdad house was raided, an action denounced by Sunni political groups.

The charges against al-Hashimi stemmed from an assassination attempt on parliamentary candidate Mithal al-Alusi on February 8, 2005.

Al-Alusi escaped unharmed, but two of his soms were killed in the incident, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told CNN.
I'd like to know what it's like being an Iraqi politician's campaign manager: "OK, you can kill your opponent, but just make sure it's in the name of driving out the Americans. We don't want to lose the moderate swing vote here."

They Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges

Want to know why another terrorist attack is more than likely? Because of crap like this.
Officials at O'Hare International Airport are refusing to interview with CBS 2 about our latest findings. The 2 Investigators have found more security breaches and afailure by authorities to investigate.

O'Hare is one of the busiest airports in the nation, and may be one of the most vulnerable.

The 2 Investigators have learned that 47 more employee access badges are missing, bringing the total we've discovered to 3,807-the biggest security failure involving access badges ever to be exposed.
Bin Laden, if he's still alive, must be laughing his ass off. But hey, at least we're keeping the country safe from grannies from Ohio.

Breaking The Silence

Another durn librul is daring to question The Decider.
WASHINGTON, June 25-After offering a bleak assessment of the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq, Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the ranking republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said today that he was urging lawmakers and President Bush to change course quickly to protect a further erosion of America's standing in the world.

"We're heading into a very partisan era," Mr. Lugar said in an intereview today, following a speech he delivered on the Senate floor on Monday night in which he called on the administration to rethink its Iraq strategy. "The president has the opportunity now to bring about a bipartisan foreign policy. I don't think he'll have that option very long."

For months, Mr. Lugar has kept his skepticism about the president's Iraq policy to himself, selcom offering anything beyond a wait-and-see reply. But three weeks ago, Mr. Lugar said, he privately concluded that the troop buildup plan was not achieving its goals and he began preparing remarks he delivered Monday evening.

"In my judgement, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved," Mr. Lugar said on the Senate floor. "Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term."
But wait, there's more!
Sen. George Voinovich said Tuesday the U.S. should begin pulling troops out of Iraq, joining Richard Lugar as the second Republican lawmaker in as many days to suggest President Bish's war strategy is failing.

He said the Iraqi people must become more involved and "I don't think they'll get it until they know we're leaving."

The Ohio senator's remarks followed simliar comments by Lugar, R-Ind., the previous night. The two GOP senators previously had expressed concerns about Bush's decision to send 30,000 extra troops to Iraq in a massive U.S.-led security push in Baghdad and Anbar Province. But they had stopped short of saying U.S. troops should leave and declined to back Democratic legislation setting a deadline for troop withdrawals.

"We must not abandon our mission, but we nust begin a transition where the Iraqi government and its neighbors play a larger role in stabilizing Iraq," Voinovich wrote in a letter to Bush.
Hmmm. Don't abandon the mission but help the Iraqis take over for themselves, and restore our standing in the world? Yep, those are real left-wing talking points alright. Or maybe it's just what 70% of the country is now saying. But what does the average person know? They're not The Decider.

Point Of Entry

If this is true, the next war in the War On Terror may be right around the corner.
Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces have been spotted by British troops crossing the border into southern Iraq, The Sun tabloid reported on Tuesday.

Britain's defence ministry would not confirm or deny the report, with a spokesman declining to comment on "intelligence matters."

An unidentified intelligence source told the tabloid: "It is an extremely alarming development and raises the stakes considerably. In effect, it means we are in a full on war with Iran-but nobody has officially declared it."
If it does come down to that, here's hoping we get it right this time.

Chowing Down Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Hot dog 1, jawbone 0.
TOKYO-A Japanese man who set a world record by wolfing down dozens of hot dogs within minutes has suffered a severe jaw injury due to his rigorous training, making his next title uncertain.

Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi said he can only open his mouth to make a gap the size of a fingertip after being diagnosed with jaw arthritis.

In an entry on his blog entitled "Occupational hazard," Kobayashi said; "My jaw refused to fight anymore."
You could say The Champ Chomps No More.

Death Takes The Witness

Now this is just bizzare.
ROME-An Italian accused of killing his American girlfriend after he kidnapped their daugher suffered a heart attack and died on the stand Monday as he testified in court for the first time, his lawyer said.

Carlo Ventre, 59, was pronounced dead at the scene by ambulance crews called to the Rome courtroom, attorney Roberto Leonardo said.

Ventre had been testifying calmly for 10 or 15 minutes about the first fights he had with girlfriend Tonu Dykstra when he suddenly said he did not feel well, Leonardo said. A few seconds later he was dead, he said.
Poetic justice? God saving the court some time?

Remembering The Wolverine

I've been following this story all night, and I have to say I just don't know what to think.
Pro wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife and 7-year-old son were found slain Monday at their Fayetteville home, authorities said.

Detective Bo Turner told television station WAGA that the case was being investigated as a murder-suicide, but said that could not be confirmed until the evidence was examined by a crime lab.

WAGA reported that investigators believed Benoit killed his wife and son over the weekend, and then himself sometime Monday.
That is just unreal. The guy was a great wrestler and seemed to be a good guy. What the hell happened???

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tom Cruise, Nein!

It must make the Germans feel good that there are some people who are whackier than their grandparents were.
BERLIN (Reuters)-Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, the Defense Ministry said on Monday.

Cruise, also one of the film's producers, is a member of the Church of Scientology which the German government does not recognize as a church. Berelin says it masquerades as a religion to make money, a charge Scientology leaders reject.
Most religions start out as cults before they become respectable; the difference with Scientology is they know they're a cult; they just won't admit it.

The Conquerer Worm

Now it's worm farts.
Jim Frederickson, the research director at the Composting Association has called for data on worms and composting to be re-examined after a German study found that worms produce greenhouse gases 290 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Worms are being used commercially to compost organis material and is in preference to putting it into the landfill. The German government wants 45% of all waste to be composted by 2015.

"Everybody...thinks they can do no harm but they contribute to global warming. People are looking into alternative waste treatments but we have to make sure that we are not jumping from the frying pan into the fire," said Frederickson.
Are they sure it's not really being caused by the worms' SUV's?

Mexico's Most Wanted

Honesty? They don't need no stinking honesty!
Mexico temporarily removed all 284 of its top federal police officers from their jobs and is forcing them to undergo psychological reviews to prove they will not be corrupted in the fight against drug trafficking, the government said Monday.

Mexican authorities have often purged police forces in attempts to eliminate corruption, only to see many of the fired officers go to work full-time for organized crime. This is one of the most extreme measures taken yet in hopes of guaranteeing the honesty of high-ranking officers.

It also comes as Mexico seeks more U.S. aid in a nationwide crackdown on drug gangs. Washington has long complained about corruption hindering anti-smuggling efforts in Mexico.
I'm sure that the Mexican government is shocked that there is drug dealing going on in its establishment.

Score One For Sanity

The European Union is getting it right on at least one issue.
PARIS-Europe's main human-rights body will vote on a proposal next week to defend the teaching of evolution and to keep creationist and "intelligent design" out of science class in state schools in its 47 member countries.

The unusual move shows that a U.S. trend for religiously based attacks on the theory of evolution is also worrying European politicans, who now see such arguments put forward in their countries by Christian and Islamic groups.

A report for the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly says the campaign against evolution has its roots "in forms of religious extremism" and is a dangerous attack on scientific knowledge.
Well, American fundamentalists can take some comfort in knowing that all them Yurapeens won't get into Heaven. Only the ignorant can do that.

Of Stocks And Sickos

Well looky here.
Michael Moore's new documentary, Sicko, challenges U.S. healthcare. Yet in the coverage of the film, some intersting facts about Moore appear to be ignored. These facts are addressed on page 53 of the bestselling book by Peter Schweizer, Do As I Say (Not As I Do):

[Moore's] IRS forms make for interesting reading. Over the past five years, Moore's "savings account" has included such evil pharmaceutical and medical companies as Pfizer, Merck, Genzyme, Elan PLC, Eli Liilly, Becton Dickinson, and Boston Scientific. "Being screwed by your HMO and ill-sereved by pharmaceutical companies is a shared American experience," he recently told the Detroit News... He may savage HMOs in his film Sicko, but he has also owned shares of Pharmacia Corporation and tenet Healthcare. He may have liked their price-to-earnings ratios.

Note: The first edition of Schweizer's book is dated November 2005.
The next time Mikey decides to praise Cuba's or Canada's government health care, he may want to make sure his stockbroker's not listening.

The Faster You Go, The Smaller You Get

Heh, heh. Ouch.
A new road safety campaign is hitting Australia's young male speeders where it hurts-their ego.

The latest TV campaign to encourage drivers to respect speed limits features attractive young women wiggling their little fingers at passing speedsters-a taunting gesture in Australia's youth culture that means a guy has a small penis.

The new, below-the-belt ad campaign was spearheaded by the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority, which claims speeding doesn't make you a big man.
Maybe we should adopt a similar gesture here in the States for rude drivers. When somebody flips you the bird, respond in kind-but use your little finger instead.

My Son, The Fake

Doogie Howser, this kid ain't.
NEW DELHI-Indian police arrested the physician parents of a 15-year-old boy who allegedly carried out a Caesarean section under their supervision in an attempt to set a world record, an official said Monday.

An Indian Medical Association chapter in the southern state of Tamil Badu said last week Dr. K. Murugesan showed a video recording of his son, Dhileepan Raj, performing a Caesarean burth in an apparent bid to gain a spot in the Guinnes Book of World Records as the youngest surgeon.

The video allegedly showed Murugesan anesthetizing the patient before the boy started the operation in his father's maternity hospital in Manaparai city, said Venhatesh Prasad, secretary of the medical association.
Well, there's always a need for doctors in prison. I just hope the kid doesn't mind pulling stuff out of inmates' behinds for the next several years.

The Smart One

I can't think of a better definition for what it means to be a conservative with brains than this.
I can well recall even as a high schooler that Republicans were considered Midwestern stolid reactionaries with no ideas except to oppose generosity and kindness. I can well recall when being a conservative meant being without ideas and simply in opposition to those ideas. Or if conservatives had any ideas, they were just that them who had should continue to have and those who had not should rot.

Then came William F. Buckley, seemingly out of the forehead of Zeus. He said that conservatives had more ideas and better ideas than leftists. He said that conservatives' ideas comported better with the basic dignity of the human personality than did socialism. He said that man would not only be richer under conservative principals, but happier, more moral, and prouder of himself.

He said these things when the powers that be laughed at him. He said these things when the revolution came (I have always thought that George Wallace played an immense part in that Revolution, but then that's just me) and Americans started to realize that they, like the man who had been speaking prose all his life, really were a lot closer to Bucley's ideas of God and man than to Galbraith's. He spoke principals of human dignity, human service before the Almighty, respect for law, respect for life, and he was not afraid to speak them to whoever was running the show, Republican or Democrat.
Unfortunately, in the minds of many Bushbots the godfather of intellectual conservatism is now seen as one of them durn libruls because he dared question King George. And, thanks to George, conservatism has once again entered an era when it is represented by reactionaries with no ideas. Buckley deserves our thanks and gratitude for trying to be the well-spoken conscience of a once-vibrant movement. When his time does come, he will be missed.

And McCain Wept

Well, this is a start in the right direction.
In a 5-4 decision that has emboldened opponents of campaign finance restrictions, the U.S. Supreme Court Monday added wiggle room to a key provision of the landmark 2002 McCain-Feinglod campaign finance law.

The decision dealt with a provision of the law preventing corporations or unions from airing certain types of ads in the run-up to Election Day. Though the Court upheld the provision, it narrowed the types of ads to which it could be applied.

At a minimum, the ruling could pave the way for outside groups to air millions of dollars of hard-hitting ads naming specific candidates in the weeks leading up to Election Day 2008. It would also inspire further challenges to the provision as a whole, as well as other part of McCain-Feingold, which is despised by the political parties because it hinders their ability to raise and spend large sums of money, and by activists at both ends of the political spectrum, who assert it infringes on their free speech.
I know McCain meant well, but this was one of the most boneheaded pieces of legislation to come down the pike in recent memory. If this ruling can help it die a deserved death, I'm all for it.

The Invisible Vice President

From TIME magazine (boo, hiss, get it out of your system) comes this analysis of why Number Two has become Number One's biggest liability.
Bush stumped just about everyone seven years ago when he tapped the safe and solid Dick Cheney to be his running mate. But Bush didn't want any trouble. He didn't want a Vice President who preened before the cameras. He didn't want a policy sparring partner. And he didn't want someone who would check out after five years and run for President himself. And because Bush got exactly the kind of partner he wanted, he now faces the very problem he tried to avoid. Cheney has become the Administration's enemy within, the man whose single-minded persuit of ideological goals, creaking political instincts and love of secrecy produced an independent operation inside the White House that has done more harm than good.

On an imaginary political balance sheet, Cheney is the Democrats' most valuable asset. And reversing that situation is getting close to impossible. Cheney recently made his weekly pilgrimage to the Senate, where he had lunch on March 6 with Republicans. He took his usual seat on one side of the stately Mike Mansfield Room and watched the proceedings quietly. Various Senators came by to ask him about his health after a blood-clot scare the day before. Others quietly lent support in the wake of that morning's four-count guilty verdict of Cheney's top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libbly. But for all the personal shows of support, more Republicans with each passing week have acknowledged privately what is felt across Washington when it comes to the Vice President: his time has passed.
Knowing Bush, he'll stand by his man to the bitter end. And we'll all be the worse off for it. A weak presidency in thrall to an office once considered by many of its holders to be essentially worthless. There's the Bush legacy, ladies and gentlebeings.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hooked On Playstation

When is an addiction not an addiction? When it hasn't been studied yet.
CHICAGO (Reuters)-Doctors backed away on Sunday from a controversial proposal to designate video game addiction as a mental disorder akin to alchoholism, saying psychiatrists should study the issue more.

Addiction experts also strongly opposed the idea at a debate at the American Medical Association's annual meeting.

They said more study is needed before excessive use of video and online games-a problem that affects about 10 percent of players-could be considered a mental illness.
And how many of these headshrinkers were nerds who wasted all their spare time on Commodore 64s or playing Pac Man at the mall in their youth? (Um...not that I ever did...)

The Fool On The Hill

Look, I hate the IRS as much as anyone, but it's time for these people to come on down.
PLAINFIELD, New Hampshire (AP)-To avoid serving prison sentences for tax evasion, Ed Brown and his wife, Elaine, have locked themselves off from the world on their own terms.

From behind the 8-inch concrete walls of their 110-acre hilltop compound, the couple taunt police and SWAT teams and play to reporters and government-haters with references to past standoffs that turned deadly.

Residents want the Browns' circus to end before their small town along the Connecticut River becomes the next Ruby Ridge of Waco.
I know New Hampshire is the "Live Free Or Die" state, but the rest of their neighbors (well, most of them) probably pay their taxes. Being a suicidal attention whore isn't my idea of fighting for a cause.

The Jihad News Network

What, Al Jazeera wasn't available?
TEHRAN, June 22 (UPI)-Iran's take on international events and issues gets global reach next month with the launch of a 24-hour, English-language satellite television news channel.

Mohammad Sarafraz, deputy head for international affairs of the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, said Press TV would present a "new perspective" on news events, according to reports by Iran Daily and the Mehrs News Agency.

Press TV, which goes on the air globally July 2, comes from the need to counter misinformation and mudslinging about Iran, he says.
I'm sure the special series on how everything is the fault of those evil Joos will be a big hit.

Purging The Past

According to Uncle Putin, Stalin wasn't such a bad guy, after all.
MOSCOW (AP)- President Vladimir Putin said Thursday no one should try to make Russia feel guilty about the Great Purge of 1937, saying it may have been one of the most notorious episodes of the Stalin era but "in other countries even worse things happened."

(snip) "We have not used nuclear weapons against a civilian population," he said. "We have not sprayed thusands of kilometers (miles) with chemicals, (or) dropped on a small country seven times more bombs than in all the Great Patriotic (War)"-Russia's name for World War II.

"We had no other black pages, such as Nazism, for instance," he said.
No, you just put people in gulags, supported oppressive regimes, and nearly brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Yep, you guys were real pussycats back in the day, right, Pootie?

Trendy Is As Trendy Does

Note to celebrities: if you want to wear Commie chic, don't do it in a country that had to fight the real thing.
AGUAS CALIENTES, Peru-Actress Cameron Diaz appears to have committed a major fashion faux pas in Peru.

The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated "Shrek" films may have inadvertently offended Peruvians who suffered decades of violence from a Maoist guerilla insurgency by touring here Friday with a bag emblazoned with one of Mao Zedong's favorite political slogans.

While exlporing the Inca city of Machu Picchu high in Peru's Andes, Diaz wore over her shoulder an olive green messenger bag emblazoned with a red star and the words "Serve the People" printed in Chinese on the flap, perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao's most famous political slogan.

While the bags are marketed as trendy fashion accessories in some world capitals, the phrase has particular resonance in Peru, where the Maoist Shining Path insurgency brought Peru to the edge of chaos in the 1980s and early 1990s with a campaign of massacres, assassinations and bombings.
But hey, at least the Shining Path movement promised its followers free health care...

Ali Bye Bye

A very bad guy will be joining Saddam in hell.
Saddam Hussein's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid-who is also known as "Chemical Ali"-has been sentenced to death for the crime of genocide over his role in the mass killing of Kurds in 1988.

He was the architect of the campaign, ordering chemical gas strikes against civilian targets which killed around 180,000 Kurdish people.

Two other high-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's regime have also been sentenced to death: former defence minister Sultan Hashim al-Tai and former deputy chief of operations for the armed forces, Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti.
Good riddance to all.

Buckeye Bonehead

Ah, those loveable Democrats. What class they have.
BOARDMAN, Ohio-Ohio's chief law enforcer was caught on tape cursing a reporter outside a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama because of an article about a woman Dann raised as his daughter landing a state job.

Attorney General Marc Dann, a Youngstown Democrat, was headed into the fundraiser Wednesday when he spotted Warren Tribune Chronicle reporter Steve Oravecz and shouted, "Hey, Steve, write this down: Go (explecitive) yourself!"

Jennifer Brindisi, a spokeswoman for Dann, said the attorney general believed the article naming Mavilya Chubarova, 22, whom he raised as his daughter, was unfair.
"In talking to him, he's a father first," Brindisi said. "He felt someone was unfairly targeting or attacking his daughter, so the words were in protection of her."
Well, what kind of a father would he be if he didn't show some nepotism?

The Girls Of Summer

If nothing else, the guy's got some major mojo going on.
IN the battle for the women's vote, Fred Thompson has a secret weapon against Hillary Clinton-the legions of former girlfriends who still adore him and who want him to be president.

The Hollywood actor and former Tennessee senator racked up an impressive list of conquests during his swinging bachelor days in the 1990s, but he appears to have achieved the impossible and kept their friendship and respect.

Lorrie Morgan, a country singer who dated Thompson and considered marrying him in the mid1990s, told The Sunday Times: "I couldn't think of a bad word to say about Fred if somebody put a gun to my head.

"Fred is a perfect example of chivalry. He's the kind of man little girls dream about marrying, who opens doors for you, lights your cigarettes, helps you on with your coat, buys wonderful gifts. It's every woman's fantasy." Thompson, who wooed Baroness Thatcher during a visit to London last week, is expected to announce officially next month that he is running for president. He is already challenging Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, for first place in polls of likely Republican voters.
Meanwhile, I understand Bubba is trying to learn that chivalry stuff so he won't scare the interns if his wife wins.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sweet, Smart Georgia Brown

Meet the real-life Lisa Simpson.
Her parents knew Georgia Brown was bright. After all, she could count to ten, recognised her colours and was even starting to dabble with French.

But it was only when their bubbly little two-year-old took an IQ test that her towering intellect was confirmed.

Georgia has become the youngest female member of Mensa after scoring a genius-rated IQ of 152.

This puts her in the same intellectual league, proportionate to her age, as physicist Stephen Hawking.
So, when she's grown up she'll either come up with a Grand Theory of Everything or try and rule the world.

Here Come De Judge

Aw, what would he know?
WASHINGTON (AP)-A federal judge who used to authorize wiretaps in terrorist and espionage cases criticized Bush's decision to order warrantless surveillance after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Royce Lamberth, a district court judge in Washington, said Saturday it was proper for executive branch agencies to conduct such surveillance. "But what we have found in the history of our country is that you can't trust the executive," he said at the American Library Association's convention.

"We have to understand you can fight the war (on terrorism) and lose everything if you have no civil liberties left when you get through fighting the war," said Lamberth, who was appointed by President Reagan.

The judge disagreed with letting the executive branch alone decide which people to spy on in national security cases.

"The executive has to fight and win the war at all costs. But judges undestand the war has to be fought, but it can't be at all costs," Lamberth said. "We still have to preserve our civil liberties. Judges are the kinds of people you want to entrust that kind of judgement to more than the executive."
Yeah, he sounds like another one'a them durn libruls what don't understand we got to fight the terrists any way we can. Every real patriot knows that there law is just fer sissies!

Et Tu, George?

Now it's Bush's turn.
WASHINGTON-The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information.

An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003-amending an existing order-requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said.
Sorry, Your Majesty. Cheney might get away with this because he is technically correct in saying that his office is not part of the executive branch, but just what office do you think you hold? To paraphrase Harry Truman, the paranoia stops here.

That Old-Time Obama

You know why I can't stand the religious right? Because they force me to agree with this guy.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)-Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.

"Somehow, womewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked," the Democratic presidential candiate said in remarks prepared for delivery before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.

"Part of it's becaise of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who've been all too eager to exploit what divides us," the Illinois senator said.
The religious wingnuts who have come to represent the GOP base are the bane of modern conservatism. I just wish more on the Republican side were willing to see it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mayor Of Graybarville

Beer makes normal people do stupid things. It makes politicians even stupider.
BRADLEY BEACH, N.J. (AP)-Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy was convicted Friday of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice stemming from an altercation with police last hear.

Healy, 56, was fined $256. He testified in a municipal court trial earlier Friday that he was not drunk or disorderly on the night of June 17, 2006, when he tried to mediate a dispote between a young couple outside his sister's tavern.

Healy tesitified he had been five and seven glasses of beer, each about 9 or 10 ounces. He went outside and tried to help Jeff Barnes and Jackie Volante settle their differences when he was thrown to the ground and pepper-sprayed by police, he said.
I wonder if that was before or after he stumbled into the cops.

Out Of The Blue

And God said, "Can you hear me now?"
With no rain or even clouds to warn him of the danger, death came literally out of the blue Thursday to a self-employed landscaper. The killer was a powerful bolt of lightning that cracked through perfectly clear skies.

David Canales, 41, of West Miami-Dade, was on the job at a Pinecrest home when the bolt hit. It first seared a tree, then traveled and struck Canales, standing nearby.

Experts said Canales was killed by a weather phenomenon fittingly called a "blot from the blue" or "dry lightning" because it falls from clear, blue skies. He was pronounced dead at South Miami Hospital.
Wow. God musta been angry at him big time for some reason...

Oh, That War

Darn those pesky Poles. How dare they remind Germany that it started a war.
Poland says it deserves more voting power in the European Union because the Germans killed so many of its people during World War II.

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kacynski said his country's population had been decimated by Nazi Germany and would otherwise be much larger than its current 38 million.

But the message from many other EU countries as they arrived for a summit on the division of power in the 27-nation bloc was simple-don't mention the War.

"The idea of basing today's decision on voting rights...on World War II is absurd," Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters.

"We are only demanding one thing, that we get back what was taken from us," Mr Kacynski said in a radio interview this week.

"If Poland had not had to live through the years 1939-45, Poland would be today looking at the demographics of a country of 66 million."

Hans-Gert Poettering, the German conservative who is president of the EU, said he found such statements "very painful."
Yes, the truth can be very painful, Hans.

The Lispy City

Cicago! Hog-butcher to the world! City of the big, umm...
CHICAGO-Never mind that Chicago hosted the 2006 International Gay Games. Or that it has the country's first government-recognized gay neighborhood. Or that up to 400,000 people attend the city's Gay Pride Parade each year.

Chicago has yet to land on the map as one of the nation's most gay-friendly cities, but local officials hope to change that with the Center on Halsted. The $20 million gay community center on Chicago's North Side officially opened this month.

Designed by the architectural firm Gensler, the 65,000-square-foot, eco-friendly facility has a computer lab, office space for community organizations, a black-box theater, a gym named after tennis star Billie Jean King, a Whole Food supermaket and a rooftop garden named for Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"It's really an amazing dream come true," said Tracy Baim, editor and publisher of Windy City Times, one of the city's oldest gay publications.
I guess the city that was once home to Al Capone and where cops beat up antiwar protesters has come a long way. Just don't tell the fundies or if you go there, even if you're not gay you could be damned to Hell.

Thou Shall Not Question Number Two

I knew Dick Cheney was a sneaky SOB, but come on.
WASHINGTON-House Democrats on Thursday denounced Vice President Dick Cheney's idea of abolishing a government office charged with safeguarding national security information-and criticized him for refusing to cooperate with the agency.

Cheney's office-over the objections of the National Archives-has exempted itself from a presidential executive order that seeks to protect national security information generated by the government, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Under the order, executive branch offices are required to give the Information Security Oversight Office at the archives data on how much material it has classified and declassified.

Cheney's office provided the information in 2001 and 2002, then stopped. Henry Wasman, chairman of the committee, said Cheney's office claims it need not comply with the executive order because it is not an "entity within the executive branch."
See what happens when you appoint an ex-spook as Veep? He brings the paranoia of his old job with him.

Abos Just Want To Have fun

There's a lot to like about John Howard, but then he goes and does stuff like this.
CANBERRA, Australia-Australia's prime minister announced plans thursday to ban pornography and alchohol for Aborigines in northern areas and tighten control over their welfare benefits to fight child sex abuse among them.

Some Aboriginal leaders rejected the plan as paternalistic and said the measures were discriminatory and would violate the civil rights of the country's original inhabitants. But others applauded the initiative and recommended extending the welfare restrictions to Aborigines in other parts of the country.

Prime Minister John Howard was responding to a report last week that found sexual abuse of children to be rampant in indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. The report said the abuse was fueled by endemic alchohol abuse, unemployment, poverty and other factors causing a breakdown in traditional society.
Well, you could say that about a lot of minority groups. I'm all for stopping child abuse, but going after perceived vices as the cause of the problem is often the first step towards greater nannystating for the rest of us.

Gin And Juice

Meet the world's youngest Snoop Dogg fan.
A 10-month-old boy in Florida was caught on videotape sipping a high-octane cocktail-gin and juice-and his mother and two relatives now are facing child abuse charges.

The boy's 16-year-old Brandenton, Fla., mother was arrested Thursday and charged with one count of child neglect without great bodily harm, and one count of child abouse without great bodily harm, both of which are felonies.

An aunt, Heather L. Moore, 21, and John D. Bell, 45, an uncle, were arrested Wednesday and each charged with one count of child abuse without great bodily harm.
I can hear the aunt and uncle on the witness stand now: "She my baby's bartender!"

His Jihad Is Marching On

The Religion That Dares Not Be Mocked is sticking with tradition.
TEHRAN, Iran--An high-level Iranian cleric said Friday that the religious edict calling for the killing of Salman Rushdie cannot be revoked, and he warned Britain was defying the Islamic world by granting the writer knighthood.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami reminded worshippers of the 1989 fatwa dyring a sermon at Tehran University, aired live on state radio. Thousands of worshippers chanted "Death to the English."

Khatami does not hold a governmental position but has the influential post of delivering the sermon during Friday prayers once a month in the Iranian capital. He did not directly call for the fatwa to be carried out.

"Awarding him means confronting 1.5 billion Muslims around the world," Khatami said. "In Islamic Iran, the revolutionary still alive and cannot be changed."
Niether, apparently, can the Religion of Pieces.

O Hypocrisy, O Hypocrisy

Christmas may still be a ways off, but pork is never out of season.
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) was all over the House floor last week, bashing Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) and other Democratic leaders for not doing enough to disclose member earmarks early in the appropriations process, as Democrats had promised when they took over the House in January. Republicans eventually got Democrats to back down and release the earmark requests-read "pork"-earlier than Obey had planned, so McHenry got what he wanted. And now McHenry will be forced to defend his $129,000 earmark, via the Small Business Administration, for Christmas Trees.

Actually, the $129,000 is to go to The Mitchell County Development Foundation, "a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating jobs and strengthening the educational system, as well as promoting tourism in Mitchell County."

(snip) When asked about the earmark, McHenry doesn't like to use the word pork. The North Carolina Republican prefers the term "directed spending," and he said this request is perfectly defensible, even though the Democrats have been quietly chuckling about it since it was unvelied as part of the Financial Services spending bill earlier today.

"Look, the important thing is transparancy and openness," McHenry said when asked about the armark, which he confirmed that he had inserted into the bill. "I have never been opposed to directed spending."
One man's pork is another's directed spending. And the wheels of politics roll on-lubricated with bacon grease, of course.

Condition Critical

I've heard of riding the Crazy Train, but this is ridiculous.
A heavy metal fan has been awarded sickness handouts after doctors said his addiction to music was a disability.

The ruling means Roger Tullgren, 42, will pocket thousands of pounds in state benefits to help finance his 36-year obsession.

His boss is also letting him play his ear-splitting music at work and giving him time off for concerts, reports the Daily Mirror.

It marks an end to Roger's 10-year bid to have his "condition", which began when he started listening to Ozzy Osourne's band Black Sabbath in 1971, officially classified as a handicap.
Ah, if only I'd been able to move to Sweden twenty years ago. I could have been on easy street today.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Airwaves Or Bust

Thanks to Trent Lott, the Left is now jumping on the anti-talk radio bandwagon.
A liberal organization has gone on the attack against what it calls "right-wing talk" radio-while acknowledging that it totally dominates the airwaves today.

The Center for American Progress' new report, "The Structural Imbalance of Political talk Radio," questions whether the "companies licensed to broadcast over the public radio airwaves are serving the listening needs of all Americans," the Center's Web site states. "Right-wing talk reigns supreme on America's airwaves."

According to the report, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming on stations owned by the top five commercial station owners is conservative, and 9 percent is liberal.
Well darn that pesky free market. Always reminding leftists that they're a small minority.

Jumped On Juneteenth

A holiday which was created to celebrate freeing slaves now comes with beatings and assaults.
Police and organizers of Juneteenth events in two cities went out of their way Thursday to insist that attacks against drivers-one of which left an Austin, Texas, man dead-have nothing to do with the crowds attending the celebrations.

But in both cases, electronic evidence raises questions about how the crimes were being characterized by the officials.

In Austin, a woman who called 911 on tuesday night to report the brutal beating of David Rivas Morales, a 40-year-old man attacked by a crowd in a housing complex parking lot, said she struggled to get the police dispatcher to understand her location, and described the scene as a gang fight involving people celebrating Juneteenth at a nearby park, according to audio files released Thursday by the city.

In Milwaukee, news video clearly shows police responded in riot geat Tuesday night to disperse the crowd at that city's celebration after a man was pulled from a car and beaten and an officer was injured trying to break up a fight.

In spite of the video, the event organizers insisted there was no link between Juneteenth and the attack.
Of course not. Just as I'm sure that people behaving like animals has nothing to do with the culture in which they were raised.

The Mayor That Roared

One is a former Mayor who is a nationally-know figure regarded as the hero of 9-11. The other is, well, a former Mayor.
The race for president has been jolted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg's flirtation with an independent run for the White House next year.

But no one has been jolted as much as Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudy Giuliani.

Five and a half years ago, a hugely popular Giuliani virtually anointed unknown businessman Bloomberg as his successor.

But niw Bloomberg may now become the second New York mayor in the race for president. And the question is whether the two are headed for a collision.
I'm sorry, but I don't consider turning Bloomberg into roadkill a collision.

New World Disorder

Well, at least Pat Buchanan and Joseph Farah will be happy.
The chances of a global trade deal being clinched before President George W. Bush leaves the White House shrank dramatically on Thursday with talks between core negotiating partners collapsing again in division and acrimony.

In a near-exact repeat of events last summer, talks in Potsdam, Germany, between the four partners at the centre of the so-called Doha round or negotiations-the EU, US, Brazil and India-broke up with sides still far apart on cutting agricultural subsidies and goods tariffs.
And this is supposed to be part of the great one world conspiracy? Forgive me if I'm not all that concerned.

Company Secrets

Before I go off too much on Team Bush, let's not forget they had plenty of precedent to draw from.
Washington D.C., June 21, 2007-The Central Intelligence Agency violated its charter for 25 years until revelations of illegal wiretapping, domestic surveillance, assassination plots, and human experimentation led to official investigations and reforms in the 1970s, according to declassified documents posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden announced today that the Agency is declassifying the full 693-page file amassed on CIA's illegal activities by order of then-CIA director James Schesinger in 1973-the so-called "family jewels." Only a few dozen heavily-censored pages of this file have previously been declassified, although multiple Freedom of Information Act requests have been filed over the years for the documents. Gen. Hayden called today's release "a glimpse of a very different time and a very different agency."

"This is the first voluntary CIA declassification of controversial material since George Tenet in 1998 reneged on the 1990s promises of greate openness at the Agency," commented Thomas Blanton, the Archive's director.
The CIA may have been sneaky bastards, but at least you had the sense they knew what they were doing. You can't say that about the ameteurs running the show these days.

Who Watches The Watchers

Well, it seems not everybody in Team Bush was on board with the King.
WASHINGTON (AP)-The administration was sharply divided over the legality of President Bush's most controversial eavesdropping policies, a congressman quoted former Attorney General John Ashcroft as telling a House panel Thursday.

"It is very apparent to us that there was robust and enormous debate within the administration about the legal basis for the president's surveillance program," Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, told reporters after a closed-door meeting with Ashcroft.

The point is critical to two matters being considered in the Democratic-controlled Congress: One is the House and Senate Intellgence committees' ongoing review of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which includes an extensive examination of the president's warrantless eavesdropping program.

The other is the House and Senate Judiciary Committees' parallel examinations of current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' service to the administration. Under that probe, former Deuputy Attorney General James Comey revealed that Gonzales, then White House counsel, tried to pressure him and a critically ill Ashcroft to certify the legality of the wiretapping program.
What? You mean Team Bush tried to take advantage of a sick man to get him to sign off on their behavior? I am shocked.

Goodbye To Gitmo

Holy crap.
WASHINGTON-The Bush administration is nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and move the terror suspects there to military prisons elsewhere, The Associated Press has learned.

President Bush's national security and legal advisers are expected to discuss the move at the White House on Friday and, for the first time, it appears a consensus is developing, senior administration officials said on Thursday.

The advisors will consider a new proposal to shut the center and transfer detainees to one or more Defense Department facilities, including the maximum security military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where they could face trial, said the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal deliberations.
But-but-they're terrists! They don't deserve the right to be charged or stand trial! We gotta keep Amurca safe from them terrists and torture's the only way to do it! What are these people, a buncha wusses?!?

Don't Ask, Don't Care

Well whaddya know. Them durn queers aren't such a big deal to their fellow service members, after all.
In many ways Army private Karissa Urmanita is a typical U.S. soldier. The Pomona, Calif., native joined the Army to take advantage of its generous college tuition assistance program and to help support her family. She's close with her colleagues (calling them her "battle buddies"), and in her downtime from stocking the combat support hospital at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, she likes to play cards and talk. But Urmanita, now 20, is an atypical soldier in at least one respect-she's an out lesbian.

In direct violation of "don't ask, don't tell," Ormanita was deployed to Iraq in March-two weeks aftere she came out to her command. And challenging the belief that open homosexuality would undermine unit cohesion and morale in combat, Urmanita says being out has had no negative impact.

(snip) As soldiers like Urmanita and Knight are finding out, being gay in the service is often OK-as long as the Pentagon brass doesn't know. While simply being out is grounds for dismissal under "don't ask, don't tell," and certainly not all commands are accepting of gays and lesbians, in many cases the ban against openly gay service members is not being enforced. Dismissals under "don't ask, don't tell" have dropped significantly since peaking in 2001, with 2006 discharges just barely topping half the number handed down in '01.

(snip) It was the same for Army sergeant Darren Manzella, currently on his second deployment to the Middle East, when he came out to his unit in 2006. "For the most part, my peers have been supportive-or at the very least, indifferent-toward me," he sais by phone from his home in Austin, where he was on leave from his station in Kuwait. The only change he's noticed is that closeted soldiers sometimes avoid him, "as if talking to me would automatically out them."

Manzella, now 29, joined the Army in 2002. He came under attack two hears later while helping a field surgeon treat wounded soldiers in Iraq. In recognition of the valor he demonstrated while administrating aid under fire he was awarded the Combat Medical Badge.
Yeah this guy sounds like he was a real threat to his fellow soldiers. And here's one more from a sailor:
"Here's some irony," he writes in an e-mail. "As I sit here and type this message, I am also working on a classified briefing concerning terrorists who we are helping to track down. How funny is it that I'm here trying to help inform people of bad guys who are trying to kill innocents of their own country as well as many Americans, but if I was found out to be gay I'd be yanked out of here so fast?"
Because in the mindset of some people, the thought of being killed in a terrorist attack isn't nearly as scary as the idea of one of them durn queers sitting next to them.

Atomic Ocean

What could go wrong? Constructed by the state nuclear power firm Rosatom, the 144 by 30 metre (472 by 98 foot) ship holds two reactors with ...