Friday, August 31, 2007

Objections From Within

Apparently there are still some people in the DOJ who actucally care about the law.
The government's legal arguments justifying the detention of hundreds of people at the Guantanamo Bay naval base have been repudiated three times by the U.S. Supreme Court. But it's not just outsiders who take issue with the U.S. Justice Department strategy: Up to one fourth of the department's own civil appellate staff has recently opted out of handling the government's cases against detainee appeals, two sources familiar with the matter tell U.S. News.

These conscientious objectors-their exact number is not known-have decided not to take part in the government's litigation against the detainees because of disagreements with the legal approach, these sources say. They would not elaborate on the specific reasons for the objections, but critics have long objected to the government's failure to formally charge detainees and have pushed for closing Guantanamo because of allegations of torture and inhumane conditions. Defense lawyers also contend that the government has stymied their case by withholding documents and curbing client access.

The quiet rebellion has emerged in recent months among the approximately 56 attorneys in the appellate section of the Justice Department's civil division following a court ruling in February that placed the defense of the approximately 130 remaining Guantanamo cases under the responsibility of the appellate lawyers. More than 3oo men captured shortly after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 are still being held at Guantanamo over alleged ties to terrorists, although all but a handful have never been formally charged with crimes.
Oh, come now. If they were charged with anything-or, heaven forbid, identified as prisoners of war-that would entail they had rights. And we can't have that during wartime, right?

Runaway Prosecution

Kafka would have loved the War on Civil Liberties, er, the War on Terror.
DETROIT (AP)-A Moroccan immigrant who was held for three years before his terrorism-related conviction was thrown out has riled a $9 million federal lawsuit against the prosecutor and two others involved in the case.

Karim Koubriti, 28, argues in the lawsuit that former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino violated his civil rights.

Convertino led the government's case in the nation's first major terrorism trial after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He was removed in 2003 after the Justice Department concluded he withheld evidence that could have proved the innocence of the four defendants accused of comprising a Detroit "sleeper" terror cell.

Three of the men's convictions were later thrown out after the Justice Department acknowledged its original prosecution was filled with a "pattern of mistakes and oversights." The fourth was acquitted.

Convertino was indicted last year on allegations that he conspired to obstruct justice and lied to a federal judge in connection with the case.
Considering the fact that this guy was simply taking his cue from Team Bush when it came to civil rights, I'm surprised Bush didn't make him attorney general.

Et Tu, Brando?

Now this is what I call method acting.
ASPEN, Colo.-Julius Caesar lay dead and Brutus was talking to his co-conspirators about swords and blood when he paused and excused himself, saying "I seem to have stabbed myself."

Aspen actor/director Kent Hudson Reed accidently cut his leg open with the knife he was using in an outdoor performane of "Scenes from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar" on Wednesday.

He tried to carry on, "but my boot was filling up with blood and I was flubbing my lines, wondering if I was going to pass out, wondering the audience could see the blood."

Portia (Susan Mauntel) took Brutus to a hospital for stitches and play narrator Tyson Young announced the performance would be cancelled.

"That's what you get for trying to kill Caesar," he said.
Hey, at least it wasn't a re-enactment of MacBeth...

Upsetting The Balance

Steve Clemens responds to a Bush defender's missive regarding "Grit" versus realism.
There are so many levels of failure during what has largely been an alliance of pugnacious Jesse Helms-revering nationalists like Dick Cheney and John Bolton and ideological neoconservatives like Scooter Libby, Douglas Feith, and Paul Wolfowitz that it is hard to run through it all here.

But to sum up the disaster, the Bush/Cheney neocon gamble of showing all the world our limits in taking on a classic thug like Saddam Hussein punctured the mystique of American power. Superpowers achieve their goals by leveraging mystique and the possibility of what they might do or not do. Shorn of that mystique, America has become far weaker. Allies are now not counting on America as much as they once were--and enemies are moving their agendas.

The global equilibrium has been thrown off, and to fill the voids left by the collapse of confidence in America's ability to achieve its objectives, other nations are rushing in to maximize their security or to try and restore balance. Whether its Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, or South Korea--all allies in one way or another--all are changing their behavior. And the neocons (or neocon-sympathizers)--who Jamie Kirchick thinks are somehow the ones who understand "grit" better than the rest of us--are responsible.
The reason for this boils down to the fact that neocons are nation-builders. They feel it's America's moral duty to help other countries remake themselves in our image. Never mind that they don't understand the culture of those countries; it's all part of a global manifest destiny that borrows far more from Woodrow Wilson than from Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush, both of whom had a far better understanding of America's role in world affairs than Bush Jr. and his fellow neocons do. History should have shown them that grand visions of a Pax Americana can only work if you treat your allies with respect rather than with indifference, when you understand what you can't do as well as what you can. Unfortunately for our reputation and honor, they chose ideology over practicality.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

When It Was Torture

He may not get the nomination, but this is one reason why he would have made a better President had he won in 2000.
WASHINGTON (CNN)-The McCain campaign-in a new video unveiled exclusively to CNN on Wednesday-is aiming to showcase the Arizona Republican's service in the Vietnam War, including his time spent in a North Vietnamese prison.

Called "Courageous Leadership," the twelve-minute video begins with footage of McCain being interrogated by enemy soldiers.

The video then details McCain's experience as a prisoner of war, and includes interviews with the senator himself, as well as several others who served with him.
Say what you will, the guy has been through the fire. Which is perhaps why he might be forgiven for being squeamish when it comes to the use of "Extralegal measures" that Team Bush was so fond of using. As I said, he might not get the nomination-but it would be great to see him use this video as an example of how he would be different from Bush: "As someone who experienced torture at the hands of our enemies, I will never condone it as your Commander-In-Chief. I'm John McCain, and I approved this message."

No Hables Stupidity

Let me guess: a Tom Tancredo fan?
BROOMFIELD-It started with a simple question and ended with at least one student chanting "white power" in a classroom.

It happened Tuesday in a classroom at Holy Family High School, the Catholic school that sits at the corner of 144th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard in Broomfield.

The classroom discussion started with the question: Why do students need to learn Spanish?

According to the Archdiocese of Denver, the conversation soon became about immigration and it turned ugly.

"It became a heated discussion and some rhetoric was used that was inappropriate for the classroom," said Jeanette DeMelo, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Denver.
Look at it this way-the kid has the potential for being a future Republican congressman from Colorado.

WWGD?

There's a reason why a guy like Romney is thriving in today's GOP, while Barry Goldwater wouldn't.
As soon as the Craig story broke, the romney campaign restricted access to Craig's video endorsement on YouTube, in which the Idaho Senator praises Romney for his "very strong family values." Candidates treat endorsers-gone-bad the way Soviet leaders handled purged rivals: erase them from photos and never speak of them again. John McCain did this when the Florida co-chairman of his campaign was also arrested for soliciting sex in a bathroom (if Democrats do this, too, they're better at hiding it). So did Rudy Giuliani when his South Carolina chairman was indicted for distributing coke.* Romney's spokesman said they yanked the video because they didn't want Craig's troubles to become a "distraction." But when Romney later sermonized against Vraig to make a sweeping judgement about Washington, he was hardly avoiding the subject.

This may make sense politically. Romney has been working hard to court social conservatives, including running a television spot in Iowa promising to clean up the culture of "violence, indolence, sex and perversion." His call for a stricter public morality shows members of the religious right-particularly any who might have qualms about his Mormon faith-that he shares their values.

By taking this wide stance, Romney continues to stake his position in the larger debate over the Republican Party's identity. Some Republicans argue that the party should stop stressing family values so much. Lawmakers are himan, and ultimately they won't be able to live up to the standard that Romney has articulated. If the GOP candidates didn't go on at such length about morality, theur colleagues' invevitable lapses would not look so glaringly hypocritical.

There's also a case that the party needs to worry more about its libertarian wing.

Nick Gillespie, the editor of Reason, seized on the Craig affair to make a version of this argument in the Los Angeles Times, where he said that the GOP should get back to its fundamental principals as articulated by Barry Goldwater. Republicans should stop trying to tell people what to do in their bedrooms and bathrooms, either by stinging a Singing Senator or passing an amendment banning gay marriage. This drew criticism from the National Review's John Hood, who argued that Gillespie had misappropriated the memory of Barry Goldwater. "I'm going to go out on a not-very long limb here and suggest that if Sen. Goldwater was still around," wrote Hood, "he'd be urging Craig to take personal responsibility for the disrepute he has brought upon himself and the Senate."

We don't have to guess about what Goldwater would do. During the 1964 presidential campaign, he faced almost precisely the same issue. In October, the Goldwater campaign learned that Walter Jenkins, LBJ's closest aide, had been arrested on a "morals charge" in the YMCA bathroom. According to J. William Middendorf's account of that campaign, A Glorious Disaster, Goldwater's aides wanted to use the scandal against Johnson, who was well ahead in the polls. Jenkins was not only a security risk-open to blackmail-but long before he was arrested, there were allegations he'd used his influence with then-Vice President Johnson to get an Air Force general who had been busted on a morals charge reinstated. The Goldwater aides even tried out slogans: "Either way with LBJ." Goldwater insisted that they make no use of it. The story never came up during the campaign.
Ah, but that was back in the days when Republicans actually stood for something other than being the Morality Police. It used to be the Democrats who had sex scandals. Now that the shoe is tapping on the other foot, is it any wonder the GOP has to resort to these spluttering, red-faced denouncements? It's all they've got left.

You're Not It

Oh, Jeeze. How paranoid are we getting as a society, anyway?
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP)-An elementary school has banned tag on its playground after some children complained they were harassed or chased against their will.

"It causes a lot of conflict on the playground," said Cindy Fesgen, assistant principal of the Discovery Canyon Campus School.

Running games are still allowed as long as students don't chase each other, she said.

Fesgen said two parents complained to her about the ban but most parents and children don't object.
Obviously we must ban childhood. Then we need to find a way to make sure that nothing ever upsets anyone. After all, it's for the children.

So That's Where They Went

Given their track record, I have to wonder if there's more where this came from.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters)-United Nations officials found vials of dangerous chemicals, which had been removed from Iraq a decade ago, in a U.N. building in New York, but U.N. officials said on Thursday there was no danger.

The FBI was called in to help remove the substances.

The material was phosgene, a chemical warfare agent, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe told a news conference.
I'm sure Chemical Kofi has a very good explanation.

A Protester And His Shadow

Well, this didn't last long.
Even with the Iraq war lingering and plenty of trouble with guns and violence on the streets of Seattle, a planned demonstration was barely a protest at all Tuesday night-despite advance publicity garnered through an official-looking media release.

P-I reporter Amy Rolph went out to cover a planned protest Tuesday night at Green Lake, only to find just two demonstrators. Here's Amy's report:

The demonstration didn't take long at all. In fact, it might have been the shortest in recent local history.

It might have been the smallest, too.

Two activists showed up. They stretched out on the ground for 32 seconds. Then they rolled up their banner--www.protesteasyguns.com--and headed for the parking lot.
Hey, for Seattle hippies, that's organized.

The Year The Elephant Would Rather Forget

I hope die-hard Repulbicans have strong constitutions. The way things have been going, they're going to need them.
WASHINGTON (AP)-When it comes to scandal, Democrats could be forgiven for thinking they hit the political jackpot this summer. At Republican expense.

First came the disclosure that Louisana Sen. David Vitter's telephone number was listed in the records of an escort service.

Then Sen. Ted Stevens' home in Alaska was raided by federal agents as part of a corruption investigation.

Now Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is recanting a guilty plea that grew out of a police undercover operation in an airport men's room, adding, "I am not gay" for emphasis.

"This is a serious matter," said the Senate Republican leadership, an understatement for the ages.

No doubt, none of this has been good for what some Republicans like to call "the brand."

Craig "represents the Republican Party," Rep. Pete Hoekstra said on Wednesday, a frank acknowledgement that the party may suffer, regardless of the Idaho senator's political fate.
Sometimes it takes a great fall for someone to learn humility so they can rise again. Judging from what's been happening lately, the GOP is falling from the equivelent of the Empire State Building. I just hope that someday they can get up and walk again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sadr Stands Down

It must really suck trying to lead an insurgency that can't get along with itself.
BAGHDAD-Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia chief ordered his gunmen today to halt all hostilities for six months to restore his Mahdi Army to credibility in the eyes of Iraqis shaken by a rash of Shiite-on-Shiite violence.

The stunning move, coupled with a vow by the anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr to cease attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, may also have been aimed at elevating his standing with Iraqis and their neighbors by demonstrating that he has the power to make peace or destroy it.

Sadr's announcement through his offices in Najaf followed a deadly clash in the holy city of Karbala earlier this week that killed at least 52 people and injured 300 in fighting blamed on his Mahdi militiamen and their rivals within the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the country's biggest Shiite political force, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.
I understand. It's tough to be a would-be player when all of your gangbangers are getting rid of each other.

Don't Talk About Abu Ghraib Club

This is Rummy's legacy, folks.
FORT MEADE, Md.-An Army officer's acquittal on charges of failing to control soldiers who abused Abu Ghraib prisoners cuts short a trail of accountability that could lead much higher, human rights groups say.

A military court on Tuesday acquitted Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan of three charges related to the mistreatment of detainees at the U.S.-run prison in Iraq in the fall of 2003.

The jury convicted Jordan of disobeying a general's order not to discuss the abuse investigation. The defense conceded that Jordan e-mailed a number of soldiers about the investigation after meeting with Maj. Gen. George Fay in the spring of 2004.
Accountability became a dirty word in Team Bush, and that message was passed down to the officers at Abu Ghraib. But it was OK as long as the prisoners were terrists out to kill Amurkans on the battlefield, right?

An Innocent Man

America's most famous domestic non-terrorist has died.
Richard Jewell, the Centennial Olympic Park security guard once suspected-but later cleared-in the bombing of the park during the 1996 Summer Games, was found dead Wednesday in his home in Meriwether County. He was 44.

County coronoer Johnny Worley said Jewell's wife discovered him dead in their Woodbury home at about 10:30 a.m., and he was pronounced dead by Worley about 45 minutes later.

Worley said an autopsy would be performed by the GBI to determine how Jewell died, but added there was "no suspicion of foul play.

"He had been having some pretty serious medical problems," Worley said.

He said Jewell had been diagnosed with diabetes in Februrary and had a couple of toes amputated.

"He had been going downhill ever since," Worley said.
Before we worry too much about the Bush administration convicting somebody without charges or evidence (and I do) let us remember that the media has turned it into an art form. Rest in peace, Mr. Jewll. You, at least, were vindicated.

Where Have Hsu Gone?

I'm sure Hillary won't let a little thing like his being a fugitive get in the way of their friendship.
A Democratic fundraiser who has raised $1 million for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says he has done nothing wrong and asked no favors in return, but Norman Hsu didn't mention that he's a wanted man.

A California prosecutor says Hsu pleaded no contest to grand theft, was sentenced to three years in prison and then disappeared, The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

"He is a fugitive," Ronald Smetana, who handled the case for the state attorney general, said in an interview with the newspaper. "Do you know where he is?"
I can't speak for Hillary, but Mr. Smetana is probably aware that the Clintons' "Friends" seem to have a habit of disappearing or turning up dead when they become too much trouble...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We're Gonna Repopulate Again

The Tolerance Capital of America is turning everybody off these days.
African-Americans are abandoning this famously progressive city at a rate that has alarmed San Francisco officials, who vow to stop the exodus and develop a strategy to win blacks back to the city. In June, Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed a task force to study how to reverse decades of policies-and neglect-that black leaders say have fueled the flight.

Black flight can alter a city's character. "It's important for a city's future that it be a diverse place, and San Francisco is drifting toward being an upper-middle-class city," says Ed Blakely, director of Katrina recovery for New Orleans.

According to Census estimates, the number of blacks here shrank from 13.4% of the population in 1970 to just 6.5% in 2005-the biggest percentage decline in any major American city.
Call me crazy, but maybe they've figured out what the rest of those who left San Francisco have-that a city run by elitist white liberals is an equal opportunity discriminator.

Iron Chef Dictator

He's a good cook, and if you don't believe him, he'll have you flogged.
Better known for his defiance on Iran's nuclear programme, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday revealed he was a handy cook who prepares "delicious" food and regrets not spending more time at home.

In a television interview aimed at showing his personal side, Ahmadinejad made no mention of Iran's disputes with the West and instead portrayed himself as a hardworking husband who only leaves his job in the small hours.

"Before (I became president) I used to do the grocery shopping. Now sometimes I help in the kitchen and I know how to make all the Iranian food," Ahmadinejad said.

Pressed by the interviewer for more details, Ahmadinejad continued in typically defiant fashion.

"Of course what I make is delicious-ask everyone who has eaten it! I can make all the different kinds of soups and Iranian stews," said the president.
Well, plotting domination of the Middle East and nuclear destruction of one's enemies does make a man hungry.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Let's Not Get Physical

Along with being a useful idiot for the left, it turns out Jane Fonda was bad for your health.
"These are the people who did the aerobics classes five or six days a week, the high-impact aerobics, the step aerobics with three tiered steps," said Dr. Solomon, a phyiatrist. "These are the people who thought they were doing the right thing and following the trend of the '80's."

Dr. Solomon says the repetitive nature of high impact aerobics has had an adverse affect on many of the once devoted Fonda fans like Wares.

"They have knee problems," she said. "They all have early arthritis, or have terrible arthritis where they can't go up and down stairs."

Today, Dr. Solomon said these high impact exercise techniques are basically defunct because we know how to exercise smarter.
Judging from how fat we seem to be as a nation these days, it looks like we still haven't learned our lesson.

The Senator Was Indisposed

If you're running to please the Fundamentalist crowd, keep your campaign staff out of men's restrooms.
US Senator Larry Craig resigned tonight as Senate co-chairman for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, within hours after news broke of Craig's guilty plea to disorderly conduct after an incident in a men's bathroom.

"Senator Craig has stepped down from his role with the campaign. He did not want to be a distraction and we accept his decision," Romney's campaign said in a statement.

The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported today that Craig pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge of disorderly conduct after he was arrested in June at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men's public bathroom.

Craig denied any "inappropriate conduct" and said his actions had been misconstrued.
Craig just had "Restless foot syndrome." Yeah, I buy that...

Pulling The Penguin

Was Opus a victim of political correctness?
A popular comic strip that poked fun at the Rev. Jerry Falwell without incident one week ago was deemed too controversial to run over the weekend because this time it took a humorous swipe at Muslim fundamentalists.

The Washington Post and several other newspapers around the country did not run Sunday's installment of Berkley Breathed's "Opus," in which the spiritual fad-seeking character Lola Granola appears in a headscarf and explains to her boyfriend, Steve, why she wants to become a radical Islamist.

The installment did not appear in the Post's print version, but it ran on WashingtonPost.com and Salon.com. The same will hold true for the upcoming Sept. 2 strip, which is a continuation of the plotline.
Apparently one man's humor is another man's cause for jihad. I can see the rioters now: "The infidel Penguin must die!"

Gonzales Goes Bye Bye

Alberto has taken his ball and gone home.
WASHINGTON-President Bush on Monday faulted Democratic bloodlust on Capitol Hill for forcing the resignation of his longtime friend and ally, Alberto Gonzales, as attorney general.

Speaking Monday before traveling to New Mexico, Bush expressed profound disappointment that his protege is leaving his job as top law enforcement officer in the U.S. after two and a half years.

"After months of unfair treatment that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge Gonzales decided to resign his position and I accepted his dcision," Bush said, reeling off a long list of policy Gonzales helped form as Bush's senior counsel at the White House and at the Justice Department.

"It is sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons."
Right. I'm sure that taking advantage of another attorney general on his sickbed had nothing to do with it. And there's this little tidbit to consider:
As late as Sunday afternoon, Mr. Gonzales himself was denying through his spokesman that he was quitting. The spokesman, Brian Roehrkasse, said Sunday that he telephoned the attorney general about the reports of his imminent resignation "and he said it wasn't true-so I don't know what more I can say."
That seems to be about par the course for anyone who works for this administration. First, deny there's a problem. Then, have Bush deny that you're the one causing the problem. Then, deny you're quitting. Finally, have Bush deny the reasons why you quit. The only thing what's left of Team Bush these days seems to deny more than somebody is quitting is reality.

Agreeing To Agree, For Now

Hmm, didn't we hear something like this earlier?
Iraq's top Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key measures seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation.

The agreement by the five leaders was one of the kost significant political developments in Iraq for months and was quickly welcomed by the United States, which hopes such moves will ease sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands.

But skeptics will be watching for action amid growing frustration in Washington over the political paralysis that has gripped the government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Maybe this is a breakthrough-Maliki got them all to agree that he sucks.

Don't Fence Me In, Dear Leader

Mini-Me just wants company as his regime slowly crumbles.
SEOUL, South Korea-North Korea has started building a fence along parts of its border with China in an apparent move to prevent people from fleeing the impoverished communist country, a news report said Sunday.

The North has put posts on a six-mile stretch along a narrow tribituary of the Yalu River, which marks the border between North Korea and China. It has also built a road to guard the area, Yonhap news agency reported. The North has yet to string barbed wire fencing between the posts, the report said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the report.
Well, maybe Mini-Me is just afraid of getting some of those tainted Chinese products...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

No Votes For You

Let's hear somebody scream "Count all the votes!" now.
The Democratic Party has taken a swipe at the nation's fourth biggest state, stripping Florida of all of its '08 delegates as punishment for jumping the gun with its Jan. 29 primary. Florida's early date could force other states to move up and up to stay at the front of the pack.

Under a nearly unanimous vote taken moments ago by a poerful committee of the Democratic National Committee, if things don't change, Florida's primary will be a "beauty contest"-the delegates won't count toward the pparty's presidential nomination.

Florida officials complained that the DNC was going to "disenfranchise voters," as it says on the state party's home page. The DNC pushed back strongly against that contention, since it has rules that Florida decided not to follow.
Don't worry, guys. I'm sure the Party will let you find some creative way to steal votes.

Good Times, Bad Times

Darn that good economy!
HELENA, Mont. (AP)-The owner of a fast food joint in Montana's booming oil patch found himself outsourcing the drive-through window to a Texas telemarketing firm, not because it's cheaper but because he can't find workers.

Record low unemployment actoss parts of the West has created tough working conditions for business owners, who in places are being forced to boost wages or be creative to fill their jobs.

John Francis, who owns the McDonald's in Sidney, Mont., said he tried advertising in the local newspaper and even offered up to $10 an hour to compete with higher-paying oil field jobs. Yet the only calls were from other business owners upset they would have to raise wages, too. Of course, Francis' current employees also wanted a pay hike.

"I don't know what the answer is," Francis said. "There's just nobody around that wants to work."
Well, there's nobody around that wants to flip burgers. You don't suppose that trying to compete with the local oil fields has something to do with it, do you?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hairbrained

It's "Barbershop," Islamofascist style.
Iran has shut down barber shops offering unconventional Western hair styles amid a police crackdown on dress deemed un-Islamic, reports said.

"Over the past 15 days, 13 barbers' shops that had not respected the union's directives have been closed down," police commander Mohammad Ali Najafi said.

He told the Etemud dauly that the barbers' union had banned eyebrow-plucking for men as well as "deviant Western styles."

"Eleven women's beauty saloons were also shut down for not having a licence or for violations such as tattooing, which is banned by a health ministry directive," he added.
At this rate, pretty much the only thing that won't be banned will be eating and drinking, and even then only on certain days and occasions as ordained in the Koran.

"N****rs!"

Try getting away with something like this on TV nowadays.

Stealing From The Snowman?

It sure sounds like a creative way to rob someone.
ALBEQUERQUE, N.M.-A trucker has sued the Druge Enforcement Administration, seeking to get back nearly $24,000 seized by DEA agents earlier this month at a weigh station on U.S. 54 in New Mexico north of El Paso, Texas.

Anastasio Prieto of El Paso gave a state police officer at the weigh station permission to search the truck to see if it contained "needles or cash in excess of $10,000," according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the federal lawsuit Thursday.

Priesto told the officer he didn't have any needles but did have $23,700.

Officers took the money and turned it over to the DEA. DEA agents photographed and fingerprinted Priesto over his objections, then released him without charging him with anything.

Border Patrol agents searched his truck with drug-sniffing dogs, but found no evidence of illegal substances, the ACLU said.
Now, just keep telling yourself that what happened to Joseph Padilla could never happen to you...

The See-Through Candidates

Well, here's at least three guys who have gained some newfound respect from me.
Presidential aspirants Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) don't agree on much.

When it comes to immigration, stem-cell research, abortion, health care, trade-you name it, basically-these three get along about as well as Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, and George Steinbrenner did during the Yankees' legendarily fractious 1977 season.

But they alone among would-be White House occupants have signed a trans-partisan initiative that has the potential to radically transform not just the presidency but the way the federal government does business. Obama, Brownback, and Paul have all signed The Oath of Presidential Transparency, a pledge to follow through on two actions.

First, signatories agree to conduct "THE most transparent Administration in American history- a lofty, laudable, far-reaching goal. This oath signals that whether it's for earmarks, directives, or ongoing management of taspayer expenditures, the goal of transparency will be evident throughout all policy making aspects of your Administration."

Second, signatories commit their presidential administrations "to full and robust implementation of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFAT Act) of 2006." The heart of that legislation, co-sponsored by Obama and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) in the Senate and signed into law last year by President Bush, is the creation of a free, searchable website that will list every recipient of every federal award.

Regardless of ideology or partisan affiliation, this is something that every American-with the possible exception of lawmakers who prefer to shroud their activities out of guilt, shame, fear, or some combination of the same-can get behind. Estimated to cost a relatively measly $15 million between now and 2011, the searchable database will give watchdog groups, government reformers, and regular citizens unprecedented amojnts of information about where taxpayer dollars are going and how their elected representatives are behaving.
Politicians accountable to the people? What a concept!

The Conspiracy That Isn't

Let the ranting from the Tinfoil Hat crowd begin!
Leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico on Tuesday downplayed fears that their trilateral Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) is setting the foundation for a "North American Union." But they did not promise more openness to quell such fears.

"I'm amused by the difference between what actually takes place in the meetings and what some are trying to say takes place," President Bush said at a news conference in Montebello, Quebec. He is in Canada with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon for the fourth SPP meeting since its creation in 2005.

As Cybercast News Service has previously reported, opponents on boths sides of the political aisle have been out in force in Montebello and the nearby Canadian capital of Ottawa, protesting the meetings and the lack of transparency from government officials in attendance.

Liberals worry the meetings are an opportunity for U.S. corporations to exert control over Mexican and Canadian resources. Conservatives charge the meetings are a step toward creation of a North American Union similar to the European Union, where American soverignity would be forfeited to super-national bureaucracies.
I for one would welcome out new Illuminati overlords. (End spooky music).

Seven Whines In May

Hoo boy. This is whack, as the kids say, even for Ariana Huffingpaint. (Hat tip: Captain's Quarters).
General Pace-you have the power to fulfull your responsibility to protect the troops under your command. Indeed you have an obligation to do so.

You can relieve the President of his command.

Not of his Presidentcy. But of as his military role as Commander-In-Chief. ...

In addition to relieving him of his command as Commander-In-Chief, you also have authority to place the President under MILITARY arrest.
So she's basically advocating a coup. What does she think we are, a socialist country? Oh, wait...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dead Dictator In Waiting

To paraphrase Don Henley, "Is the Head Commie dead yet?"
MIAMI (AP)--The official word in Cuba is that Fidel Castro is still very much alive-but you'd never know that on the streets of Miami.

Premature rumors of Castro's death are a staple in this heavily Cuban-exile city. But their frequency has intensified in recent days after his 81st birthday came and went Aug. 13 with neither pictures, letters nor recordings from him.

Friday, the rumors were pushed into overdrive by a meeting of local officials to go over their plans for when Castro really dies and a road closure in the Florida Keys that was actually due to a police standoff.

A circular game ensued with radio stations reporting the rumors, citing TV stations, which cited the rumors on the street.
Well, his good buddy Hugo Chavez swears Fidel is practically getting ready to perform on Broadway. So, you see, everything's just fine!

Fiegert About It

I can't believe this guy was associated with John Edwards.
Attorney Geoffrey Feiger and one of his law partners have been indicted by the U.S. government, which accused the pair of making $127,000 in illegal campaign contributions to the 2004 presidential campaign of John Edwards.

The indictment was unsealed today at the U.S. District Court in Detroit and accuses Fieger and Vernon Johnson of violating the $2,000 per election federal limit on individual contributions to presidential candidates.

The indictment accuses them of soliticiting 60 "straw donors" to also contribute the $2,000 maximum to Edwards and then reimbursing them for their contributions through funds from their Southfield-based Fieger, Fieger, Kenney and Johnson PC firm.

Fieger, the area's most famous and flamboyant attorney, and Johnson are accused of conspiracy, making and causing conduit campaign contributions, causing false statements and obstruction of justice.
Hey, it's expensive for Johnny E to maintain his haircut.

Grannies Good, Daddies Bad

Political correctness even affects lost kids these days.
When children get lost in a mall, they're supposed to find a "low-risk adult" to help them. Guidelines issued by police departments and child-safety groups often encourage them to look for "a pregnant woman," "a mother pushing a stroller" or "a grnadmother."

The implied message: Men, even dads pushing strollers, are "high-risk."

Are we teaching children that men are out to hurt them? The answer, on many fronts, is yes. Child advocate John Walsh advises parents to never hire a male babysitter. Airlines are placing unaccompanied minors with female passengers rather than male passengers. Soccer leagues are telling male coaches not to touch players.

Child-welfare groups say these are necessary precautions, given that most predators are male. But father's rights activists and educators now argue that an inflated predator panic is damaging men's relationships with kids. Some men are opting not to get involved with children at all, which partly explains why many youth groups can't find male leaders, and why just 9% of elementary-school teachers are male, down from 18% in 1981.

People assume that all men "have the potential for violence and sexual aggresiveness," says Peter Stearns, a George Mason University professor who studies fear and anxiety. Kids end up viewing every male stranger "as a potential evildoer," he says, and as a byproduct, "there's an overconfidence in female virtues."
Because we all know women are never violent or unstable, right, guys?

The Few, The Priveleged

Forget about celebrities. Politicians have them beat in the "We're not accountable" department.
So I guess once you're elected to Congress, you're immune from drunk driving laws; you can stash the evidence that you've committed a crime in your office, because investigators aren't allowed to search it; if you kill someone because you've got a lead foot and blew a stop sign, the taxpayers will cover your financial liability; and, we learn today, you can commit whatever Internet-related crimes you please, because the police aren't allowed to search your computer.

Meanwhile, the same Congress that has ummunized itself from much of the law is also responsible for the ever-expanding feeral criminal code, which we can thank for our shamefully enormous and still-soaring prison population, which is by far and away the largest in the world.

You have lawmakers who feel they're above the law. And who at the same time are criminalizing anything and everything they find tacky, regugnant, or immoral.
Rome fell partly because of the corruption and indifference of its politicians. Ours don't seem to be much better; plus it doesn't help to have a President who seems to share the same attitude about the law that they do.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Over My Dead Body"

Denial, thy name is George W. Bush.
President George Bush sought to buy more time for his Iraq "surge" strategy yesterday by making a risky comparison for the first time with the bloodshed and chaos that followed the US pullout from Vietnam.

Making it clear he will resist congressional pressure next month for an early withdrawal, he signalled that US troops, whom he had hailed as "the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known", will be in Iraq as long as he is president. He also said the consequences of leaving "without getting the job done would be devestating", and "the enemy would follow us home."

Mr Bush's speech came on the day that the US suffered one of its highest daily death tolls since the 2003 invasion, with 14 troops killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed.
There's sticking to your guns-something I actually admired about Bush during his first term-and then there's this. It's called delusional behavior and doesn't look well in a president with a little more than a year left in office.

Diamonds Are A Trilobite's Best Friend

OK, all you folks who believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old, explain this one.
Scientists have discovered what they believe are the world's oldest diamonds beneath the Australian outback in a surprise find that could force a rethink about how the Earth formed.

The diamonds are believed to date back more than four billion years, making them almost as old as the 4.5 billion year old planet, according to a report from Australian and German researchers in the scientific journal Nature.

"We're still stunned, it was the last thing we expected to find," geologist Alexander Nemchin from Western Australia's Curtin University of Technology told AFP.
I'd say the folks at the Creationist Museum down in Kentucky would be stunned too, if their pointed little heads didn't explode first.

The Cut-And Runners Just Keep Coming

Another one'a them durn libruls says it's time for us to start packing it in.
The influential former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has called on President Bush to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by Christmas.

Sen. John Warner, a virginia Republican, said Thursday that a pullout was needed to spur Iraqi leaders to action.

He has recommended that Bush announce the beginning of a U.S. withdrawal in mid-September, after a report is released from the top U.S. officials in Iraq, and that those troops should be back in the U.S. by Christmas.

"In my humble judgement, that would get everyone's attention that is not being paid at this time.

Warner opposed Bush's January decision to send nearly 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq. But he has so far also opposed Democratic efforts to force Bush to start bringing U.S. troops home.
Well, darn. Guess he won't be invited to the White House Christmas Party then.

Her Man In Baghdad?

Andrew Sullivan makes an interesting point about what the impact of the second coming of the Clintons might mean on the world stage:
It is a fact, I think, that Bill Clinton is a huge asset to the Clinton candidacy. To deny that is to deny reality. He brings to the Middle East, especially, real star power. For some reason, they love the guy, probably because they are as addicted to lying and bullshit as he is. But, hey, he nearly got an agreement at Taba. Maybe the burbling, beaming bubba is what Iraq needs.

I had another illicit thought about Hillary the other night. Yes, I was the worse for wear, so take this for what it's worth. I was thinking: however awful it would be to have Hillary as president, wouldn't the fact of a woman running the most powerful country on earth piss off the Islamists in all the right ways? Her appointing her own husband-an ex-president no less-to a lesser position would also tick the mullahs off. How better to tell those sexist pigs what we stand for? That's what my thoughts were. Maybe I should have left them where I found them. But what else is a blog for?
This, IMO, is what's missing in the Great Debate over Hillary-how would the Muslim world react? And here's another thought-in an age in which we seem to be increasingly immature as a society, maybe what we're really looking for as a nation are super-parents to take care of us. Maybe the thought of Hillary being our national mother is actually a comforting thought to some people. Maybe not to me, but it's another reason why she could win, with Big Daddy at her side.

Old Love

Old people do it with experience.
An unprecedented study of sex and seniors finds that many older people are surprisingly frisky-willing to do, and talk about, intimate acts that would make their grandchildren blush. That may be too much informatuon for some folks, but it comes from the most comprehensive sex survey ever done among 57-to-85-year-olds in the United States.

Sex and interest in it do fall off when people are in their 70s, but more than a quarter of those up to age 85 reported having sex in the previous year. And the drop-off has a lot to do with the health or lack of a partner, especially for women, the survey found.

The federally funded study, done by respected scientists and published in thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, overturns some stereotypical notions that physical pleasure is just a young person's game.

"Most people assume that people stop doing it after some vague age," said sex researcher Edward Laumann of the University of Chicago.

However, more than half of those aged 57 to 75 said they gave or received oral sex, as did about a third of 75-to-85-year-olds.
This must be why you don't see old people in those Viagra commercials. That stuff's for kids...

One Good Time, 100 Lashes

Iran shows it really knows how to crack down on imaginary crimes.
His face covered by a balaclava, an official brandishing a cane repeatedly lashes the back of a man found guilty of breaking Iran's morality laws.

Two police officers hold the legs of 25-year-old Saeed Ghanbari and another his arms to ensure there is no escape from the punishment of 80 lashes handed down by a religious court.

Traffic was brought to a halt in Qazvin, 90 miles west of the capital Tehran, as more than 1,000 men gathered behind barricades to watch the public flogging.
Hey, in only a few hundred years they'll have advanced to the giullotine. Give 'em time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Changing Their Tune?

Remember these guys?
A group of Muslim imams today dropped all charges in a federal lawsuit levied against "John Doe" airline passengers for reporting the men's suspicious behavior that led to their removal from a U.S. Airways flight last year.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Minnesota, still targets U.S. Airways and Minneapolis airport workers.

President Bush recently signed into law a provision that protects airline passengers who report suspicious behavior that may foreshadow terrorist attacks.
Now, it may turn out that they were innocent all along. Or they may have seen the writing on the wall and realized that hey, maybe seating themselves the way they did might actually look funny to some people, and are realizing they may not be able to win this case.

Lower The Strawbridge

The rich are different from the rest of us-they can be even bigger sleazebags.
PHILADELPHIA-A member of a famed department store family faces about five years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to a federal child pornography charge.

Stephen L. Strawbridge Sr., 63, admitted his guilt as his wife and two adult children looked on in a courtroom just blocks from the family's flagship Strawbridge & Clothier store in downtown Philadelphia.

FBI agents say Strawbridge-tipped off by a son-was deleting his AOL e-mail account and dozens of pornographic images from his computer when they arrived at his house in the old-money suburb of Gladwyne.
As the saying goes, you can never be too rich-or apparently too sleazy.

Raking It In At The Yard

When their professors preach against the evils of capitalism, is their employer part of that sermon?
Harvard University's endowment earned a 23.o percent return during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007. With FY07 being one of the best performance years since the inception of Harvard Management Company in 1974, the overall value of the University's endowment grew to $34.9 billion.

The continued strong returns reinforce the endowment's critical support for Harvard's academic programs and mission. In the 2007 fiscal year, distributions from the endowment financed almost one-third of Harvard's operating budget, or over $1.1 billion.

Harvard's reliance on support from its endowment has increased in recent years. In fiscal 1997, endowment income provided 21 percent of Harvard's total income; in the 2007 fiscal year, that figure was 32 percent. In dollar terms, the distributions from the endowment have tripled in this 10-year period.
Money make the world go 'round. Even that of ivory tower inhabitants.

Jihad It Like Beckham

If they're scared of Justin Timberlake, they've got serious issues.
David Beckham and Justin Timberlake are the targets of an alleged Al-Qaeda murder plot.

A chilling internet video, which has been posted on YouTube, brands Becks, 32, and JT, 26, as criminal influences on young Muslims.

Fellow footballers Wayne Rooney and Thierry Henry, as well as rapper P. Diddy, are also mentioned.

The warning footage was posted by a Glasgow-based website named after Al-Qaeda that encourages attacks on Westerners.
They don't like P. Diddy. Finally, something we have in common.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The German Answer

What does Germany understand that our government doesn't?
MUNICH, Germany, Aug. 21 (UPI)-A German woman with multiple sclerosis is the first person in her country to be allowed to legally buy pharmaceutical-grade cannabis to ease her symptoms.

Deutsche Welle said Tuesday the newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices' decision to permit the 51-year-old woman to legally buy the cannabis from a pharmacy was unprecedented.

Doctors, so far, are only allowed to prescribe a synthetic form of cannabis called Dronabinol, which is not covered by health insurance. Patients who acquire it without a doctor's prescription risk prosectution.

Under the institute's ruling, the woman, identified as Claudia H., will be allowed to buy a "standardized extract' from the cannabis plant at a pharmacy for a one-year period. A doctor has to monitor the medicinal marijuana therapy and the drug must be kept in a safe to prevent theft.
I wonder if the DEA will be calling for another invasion of Germany.

Train Kept A Textin'

Sometimes stupidity just speaks for itself.
A young Ohio man was so caught up in text messaging as he walked across a railroad track he failed to notice a train bearing down on him.

Zachariah Smith, 18, walked until a southbound CSX train passed, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. He did not notice the northbound Norfolk Southern Train passing by immediately afterward.

Smith was struck by the second train and was seriously injured.

Elmwood Place Mayor Richard Ellison said he arrived at the scene immediately after the accident and talked to three of the five people who saw it. They said the engineer was "blowing his horn like mad" when he saw the young man.
Maybe if the kid had seen "BEEP BEEP MOVE YOU LITTLE DUMBASS" on his screen he might have payed attention...

The Tenet Of Their Faith

Wow, even the National Review, normally the biggest Bush administration water carriers around, thinks that the CIA has got some 'splaining to do.
The review team's analysis, which concludes that a review board should assess the apparent performance failings of some employees, seems temperate and fair. They appear to have avoided 20/20 hindsight and disagree with some previous fault-finding given instances when employees, for example, faced a "difficult operating environment and limited cooperation the part of [redacted]." Even with a fair number of "[redacteds]," the summary is eye-opening. It is very tough on tenet who utterly failed to follow through on his December 1998 "We are at war" pronouncement about the terrorist threat-no comprehensive strategic plan, no new resources, no additional personnel, no leadership on crippling inter-agency disputes. A National Intelligence Estimate on the terrorist threat to the U.S. was produced in 1995 and updated in 1997. An updated version was finally being edited on 9/11.

As General Hayden points out, the summary finds "no single point of failure" that would have prevented the 9/11 attacks, but the recounting of the CIA's inexcusable failure to report to the FBI that two known al Qaeda associates (who were 9/11 hijackers) had traveled to the U.S. comes awfully close. The summary concludes: "Informing the FBI and good operational followthrough by the CIA and FBI might have resulted in surveillance of [the "UBL associates"]. Surveillance, in turn, would have had the potential to yield information on flight training, financing, and links to others who were complicit in the 9/11 attacks." The review team recommends assessing the performance of two chiefs of the counterterrorism unit with respect to their management of the watchlist program and of three managers for failure to ensure prompt action on the known al Qaeda members in the U.S.

General Hayden objects to the creation of any Accountability Board to consider disciplinary actions. He insists his refusal "is NOT about avoiding responsibility." But that's exactly what it looks like.
These are the folks who invented plausible deniability. Why should they have to accept responsibility now?

Hurt So Bad

Apparently we're in a lot of pain these days.
More than 200,000 pounds of codeine morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and mepredine were purchased at retail stores during the most recent year represented in the data. That total is enough to give more than 300 milligrams of painkillers to every person in the country.

Oxycodone, the chemical used in OxyContin, is responsible for most of the increase. Oxycodone use jumped nearly six-fold between 1997 and 2005. The drug gained notoriety as "hillbilly heroin," often bought and sold illegally in Appalachia. But its highest rates of sale now occur in places such as suburban St. Louis, Columbus, Ohio, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The world of pain extends beond big cities and involves more than oxycodone.

In Appalachis, retail sales of hydrocodone-sold mostly as Vicodin-are the highest in the nation. Nine of the 10 areas with the highest per-capita sales are in mostly rural parts of West Virginia, Kentucky or Tennessee.
So let me get this straight-people can get away with using thi stuff because it counts as a prescription drug, but medical marijuana use can land you (and your provider) in prison. Does anyone else think there's something wrong here?

Shutting Down The Snoopers

Team Bush will have to find another way to keep the paranoia going.
WASHINGTON-The Pentagon said Tuesday that it will shut down an anti-terror database that has been criticized for improperly storing information on peace activists and others whose actions posed no threat.

It will be closed on Sept. 17 and information collected subsequently on potential terror or security threats to Defense Department facilities or personnel will be sent by Pentagon officials to an FBI database known as Guardian, according to Army Col. Gary Keck, a Pentagon spokesman.

Keck said the Pentagon database is being shut down because "the analytical value had declined," but not because of public criticism of how it was used. Eventually the Pentagon hopes to create a new system-not necessarily a database-to "streamline such threat reporting" according to a brief statement issued Tuesday.
But this is America. Such a database would never, ever be misused by a government as trustworthy as ours, right? They musta caved to pressure from them durn libruls.

Halt The Countdown

"24", a show that I used to enjoy tremendously, has officially jumped the shark.
The political left and the political right are going to meet on Fox's "24" this coming season.

Actress-comedian Janeane Garofalo, an outspoken liberal, is set to co-star on the conservative-leaning real-time drama, whose co-creator/executive producer Joel Surnow jokingly describes himself as a "right-wing nut job."

On the Imagine TV/20th Century Fox TV series, Garofalo will play a government agent who is part of the team investigating the crisis befalling Jack Bauer (Kiefer Southerland) and company in the upcoming season.

Garofalo is the second major cast addition to the action drama, which is going through a major revamping coming off a lackluster sixth season. Cherry Jones was tapped last month to play the new president (HR 7/21).
Why don't they just bring in Martin Sheen as Jack's new boss and Michael Moore as his new partner and get it over with? Slow deaths are always painful to watch.

Science Versus Trannies

Academic free speech, gender bender style.
Many sex researcher who have worked with Dr. Bailey say that he is a solid scientist and collaborator, who by his own admission enjoys violating sexual taboos.

In his book, he argued that some people born male who want to cross genders are driven primarily by an erotic fascination with themselves as women. This idea runs counter to the belief, held by many men who decide to live as women, that they are the victims of a biological mistake-in essence, women trapped in men's bodies. Dr. Bailey described the alternate theory, which is based on Canadian studies done in the 1980s and 1990s, in part by telling the stories of several transgender women he met through a mutual acquaintance. In the book, he gave them pseudonyms, like "Alma" and "Juanita."

Other scientists praised the book as a compelling explanation of the science. The Labda Literary Foundation, an organization that promotes gay, bisexual and transgender literature, nominated the book for an award.

But days after the book appeared, Lynn Conway, a prominent computer scientist at the University of Michigan, sent out an e-mail message comparing Dr. Bailey's views to Nazi propaganda. She and other transgender women found the tone of the book abusive, and the theory of motivation it presented to be a recipe for further discrimination.
Until they find a transgender gene, I say let the good doctor have his say. If you think you're a woman, is it too unreasonable to wonder if it's all in your head?

I Is Dumb?

Remember the Saturday Night Live skit where Julian Bond tells Louis Gossett, Jr. that light-skinned blacks were smarter than dark-skinned blacks? Well, meet the publishing world's version.
WASHINGTON (AP)-Liberals read more books than conservatives. the head of the book publishing industry's trade group says she knows why-and there's little flattering about conservative readers in her explanation.

"The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: 'No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes,'" Pat Schroeder, president of the American Association of Publishers, said in a recent interview. "It's pretty hard to write a book saying, 'No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes' on every page.

Schroeder, who as a Colorado Democrat was once one of Congress' most liberal members, was responding to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll that found people who consider themselves liberals are more prodigious book readers than conservatives.
Well, I don't know. Do fairy tale books count?

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Other Mayor

Well, at least he's honest.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said_again_that he's not running for president, adding in a television interview that he wouldn't win anyway.

"Nobody's going to elect me president of the United States," he told Dan Rather for a program that will air Tuesday on cable's HDNet channel. "What I'd like to do is to be able to influence the dialogue. I'm a citizen."

The billionaire left the Republican Party recently to become an independent, throwing into overdrive the speculation that he will make a run for the White House.
Well, if Mr. Bloomberg keeps his word, he may find that it's not just lonely at the top-it's lonely at the political bottom, too.

Motor City Madman

Is the country ready for this?
For all of his wild-man antics, the politically conservative Nugent is talking about following in the footsteps of celebrities such as actor Arnold Schwarzenegger or wrestler Jesse Ventura, who won gubernatorial races.

"That would be beautiful," Nugent said when asked if he would run for governor of Michigan in 2010. "I have threatened to do so and I was sincere."

Some of Nugent's antics make even Schwarzenegger's past outspokenness appear measured by comparision.

"Michigan was once a great state. Michigan was a state that rewarded the entrepreneur and the most productive, work-ethic families of the state. Now the pimps and the whores and the welfare brats are basically the state's babies."

Nugent refuses to mince words and often uses a racial epithet to describe blacks that normally would mean political suicide. He says his embrace of the word reflects his respect for the black contribution to rock and roll and has another expletive for anyone who disagree with him.
Well, one thing's for sure-he'd be able to defend himself if he ever went into Detroit after dark.

The Case Of The Poisoned PJ's

Now it's the little horsies.
The safety problems affecting Chinese goods spread from toys to textiles on Monday as New Zealand said it would investigate allegations that imported children's clothes contained dangerous levels of formaldehyde.

The government ordered the probe after scientists hired by a consumer watchdog programme discovered formaldehyde in Chinese clothes at levels of up to 900 times regarded as safe. Manufacturers sometimes apply formaldeyde to clothes to prevent mildew. It can cause skin rashes, irritation to the eyes and throat and allergic reactions.

the Warehouse, a New Zealand retailer, issued a recall at the weekend for children's pajamas made in China after two chuldren were burned when their flannelette nightclothes caught fire.

The New Zealand investigation is the first time that the safety of Chinese clothes has been called into question; concerns have been raised over a series of Chinese products in recent months, including toys, food and toothpaste. Last wee, Mattel said it was recalling 18.2m toys globally because of hazards such as the use of lead paint.
China wanted to be the supplier of the world's department stores. Too bad a lot of their customers may wind up dead, but hey, they're a growing power, right?

Walking In The Sand

Here's another slap of reality in the face of creationism.
CAIRO (Reuters)-Egyptian archaelogists have found what they said could be the oldest human footprint in history in the country's western desert, the Arab antiquities' chief said on Monday.

"This could go back about two million years," said Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. "It could be the most important discovery in Egypt," he gold Reuters.

Archaeologists found the footprint, imprinted on mud and then hardened into rock, while exploring a prehistoric site in Siwa, a desert oasis.

Scientists are using carbon tests on plants found in the rock to determine its exact age, Hawass said.
Well, the folks that run the Creationist Scam, er, Museum down in Kentucky will be the first to tell him they know for a fact that it's only 6,000 years old, or a fraud because there aren't any dinosaur prints next to it.

The Witch Is Dead

No, not Hillary Clinton-the other one.
NEW YORK (AP)-Leona Helmsley, the hotelier who went to prison as a tax cheat and was reviled as the "queen of mean," died Monday at age 87.

Hemsley died of heart failure at her summer home in Greenwich, Conn., said her publicist, Howard Rubenstein.

Already experienced in real estate before her marriage, Helmsely helped her husband run a $5 billion empire that included managing the Empire State Building. She became a household name in 1989 when she was tried for tax evasion. The sensational trial included testimony from disgruntled employees who said she terrorized both the menial and the executive help at her homes and hotels.

That image of Helmsley as the "queen of mean" was sealed when a former housekeeper testified that she heard Helmsley say: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes."

She denied having said it, but the words followed her for the rest of her life.
I can hear her now: "This is crazy! We don't go to Hell! Only little people go to Hell!"

Fat Flu

So, it's not the fault of those evil fast food companies after all?
A common virus that causes colds can be a factor in obesity, according to a study released Monday offering further evidence that a weight problem may be contagious.

The adenovirus-36 (Ad 36) has already been implicated as the cause of weight gain in animals, but with this study researcher showed for the first time that it can also cause humans to pile on the pounds.

The findings could accelerate the development of a vaccine or an antiviral medication to help fight the battle of the bulge alongside diet and exercise.
Michael Moore, come on down! Your cure awaits!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pining For The Fjords

Fidel Jr. insists Big Daddy is just fine.
CARACAS (Reuters)-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday Fidel Castro is "writing, and producing," denying rumors circulating on the Internet that the Cuban leader has died.

Chavez, a close ally of Castro, has frequently provided information about the health of the ailing Communist leader who temporarily stepped aside after undergoing emergency abdominal surgery a year ago.

"On the Internet rumors are circulating that Fidel Castro has died," Chavez said during his weekly Sunday broadcast. "Fidel is producing, he is writing."
Hey, just because you're deader than Sean Penn's career doesn't mean you can't still be creative.

"You Can Take That To The Bank"

Sure, Karl. Whatever you say.
White House political adviser Karl Rove said Sunday he sees encouraging signs for the GOP in the public's strong negative opnions of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Democratic-run Congress.

"I do think the Republican Party is more in keeping with the attitudes and values of the American people," said President Bush's departing chief political strategist. Congress' approval in an Associated Press-Ipsos poll this month stood at 25 percent, compared with 35 percent for Bush.

Rove has a vested interest in the outcome of the 2008 election, after predicting he could build a long-term Republican majority, only to watch as Democrats swept Republicans from power in Congress in voting last year.
And here's this little gem:
Rove disputed any suggestion that the president is a lame duck.

"He is a bold leader who's going to be milking every single moment that he's got in this office," Rove said. "He came here to do things, and he's going to keep doing things right up to the moment that he leaves on January 20th, 2009."
The Bushbots might call this optimism. There's another word for it, however-Delusional.

Driving With The Devil

Somebody needs to have their eyes checked.
There are tens of thousands of these plates on the streets. But before it gets onto your car, it has to pass the screeners here at the DMV. It can't be offensive or indecent. But there are some mistakes that hit the streets and they get about one hundred calls a year on that.

"I had the plate for about five years now," said Keith Wagner, owner of some controversial vanity plates.

The plate hate debate hit just this month and Keith Wagner can't figure out why.

"It says 'go to 11," said Wagner.

Someone else's interpretation had the DMV putting the brakes on this bumper billboard.

Keith got a letter telling him to turn in his tags because, "someone said it says 'go to hell' and I said 'no it doesn't'," said Wagner.

"Someone saus it says 'go to hell.' It says go to 11," said Keith, referring to a scene in the movie "This Is Spinal Tap."
Well, at least it didn't say "S3X FRM."

Make Room, Make Room

Let's hear it for Canadian health care!
Lange said local physicians had been closely monitoring Jepp's pregnancy and were anticipating her newborns would require care at Foothills' neonatal intensive care unit.

But when Jepp began experiencing labour symptoms last Friday, the unit at Foothills was over capacity with several unexpected pre-term births.

There was no room at any other Canadian neonatal intensive care unit, forcing CHR officials to look south of the border.

Jepp was transported to Benefits hospital in Great Falls last Friday-making her the fifth Alberta woman to be transferred south of the border this year because of neonatal shortages in Canada.
I'm sure Michael Moore will get right on this.

Snoozapalooza V

In case you missed it, there was another Democratic debate today. Reason mag has the details. As expected, Hillary was deemed the winner with Richardson a close second, which supports my conclusion that it will be Clinton/Richardson for the Democratic nomination.

Smokin'

Reason # 132,654,987 why I love Western technology.
A MIRACLE material for the 21st century could protect your home against bomb blasts, mop up oil spillages and even help man fly to Mars.

Aerogel, one of the world's lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C.

Scientists are working to dosciver new applications for the substance, ranging from the next generation of tennis rackets to super-insulated space suits for a manned mission to Mars.
Once again, this is why Western civilization will ultimately prevail against Islamofascism in the long run. People who want to live in the dark ages just can't compete against modern innovation.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Busted-For Doing His Job

The cops must be really bored up there in Vermont.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Rutland, stems from an incident last June in which Trooper Eric Vitali and Bellows Falls police Officer Christopher Brooks-who were undercover-went to the bar to check for underage drinkers.

Ryan, who was checking IDs at the door, wouldn't let Vitali in because he didn't show any; Brooks, who did, was admitted.

Brooks called his superior, Sgt. John Dunfee, who went to the bar and told Ryan that if he didn't admit both officers, Dunfee would close the bar. Ryan relented, but five days later, Vitali and other troopers arrested Ryan for impeding a public officer, according to the suit.

"The decision to arrest, rather than to issue a citation to appear in court, was made to intimidate and cause fear," according to the suit.

Ryan, whose arrest was thrown out by Judge Kathering Hayes in May, says he was retaliated against in response to critical comments of the police department before a budget vote. He also says police officers failed to accomodate his two disabilities-he is deaf and has a prosthetic leg-during the arrest and booking process.

Clark and Dunfee declined comment.
Hmm, can you say "Shakedown?" I guess they don't have any real gangsters in Vermont, so the cops have to pick up the slack.

Where Fred Fails

Andrew Sullivan (boo, hiss, yeah, whatever) gets it.
Fred Thompson will do what he can to resurrect a DOMA-style constitutional amendment. He has clarified that he doesn't want an amendment to ban marriage rights in every state, as FMA would have done. He seems, alas, unaware that the full Faith and Credit clause of the constitution has never applied and will not apply to civil marriage. Don't you think it would have happened by now if it did? Federalism can work without needlessly tinkering with the Constitution. And that's the conservative position.
Unfortunately, today's faux conservatives seem to have forgotten that pesky document. I don't give a whit about gay marriage, and that was the message the voters sent to the Republicans in 2006. If they try to bring it back again, they'll have nobody to blame but themselves if we get a President Hillary or Obama.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I Now Pronounce Thee Toddler And Wife

"Hicks? Who, us?"
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-A law passed this year allows Arkansans of any age-even infants-to marry if their parents agree, and the governor may have to call a special session to fix the mistake, lawmakers said Friday.

The legislation was intended to establish 18 as the minimum age to marry but also allow pregnant teenagers to marry with parental consent, bill sponsor Rep. Will Bond said. An extraneous "not" in the bill, however, allows anyone who is not pregnant to marry at any age if the parents allow it.

"It's clearly not the intent to allow 10-year-olds or 11-year-olds to get married," Bond said. "The legislation is screwed up."
I understand that brothers, sisters and farm animals will still be covered as under the original law, however.

Terrorism For Dummies

Now they have an instruction manual.
The Taliban has published its first military field manual detailing how to spring ambushes, run spies and conduct an insurgency against coalition forces in Afghanistan.

At 144 pages, Military Teachings-for the Preparation of Mujahideen, is a minutely detailed "how to" book on subjects ranging from tactics and weapons to building training camps and spycraft.

The guide, which is similar in its aims to British and American military field manuals, was obtained by The Daily Telegraph from a source in Pakistan who claimed to be close to the Taliban. Its cover bears the image of two crossed swords and the Koran, the arms of the Taliban's ousted government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The book, written in the Pashto language, "will soon be made available to the commanders in Afghanistan as well as its adjacent tribal areas in Pakistan", the source said. He added that copues of the manual had been circulated to the Pakistani tribal area of Bajaur. Its publication highlights the extent of the Taliban's revival six years after it was deposed by a US-led invasion.

"This is the first of its kind and shows a significant level of organisation," said Brigadier Mahmood Shah, a retired military intelligence officer who was in charge of security in the tribal areas.

Brig Shah said "soft" Pakistani government policy towards the pro-Taliban militants had allowed them to flourish in the lawless ethnic Pashtun tribal areas that straddle the Afghan-Pakistani border.
Huh. Barack Obama may be onto something here after all...

Gonzo's Bedside Manner

Now remember-there was nothing underhanded going on, right?
Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was "feeble," "barely articulate" and "stressed" moments after a hospital room confrontation in March 2004 with Alberto r. Gonzales, who wanted Ashcroft to approve a warrantless wiretapping program over Justice Department objections, according to notes from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that were released today.

One of Mueller's entries in five pages of a daily log pertaining to the dispute also indicated that Ashcroft's deputy was so concerned about undue pressure by Gonzales and other White House aides for the attorney general to back the wiretapping program that the deputy asked Mueller to bar anyone other than relatives from later entering Ashcroft's room.

Mueller's description of Ashcroft's physical condition that night contrasts with testimony last month from Gonzales, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ashcroft was "lucid" and "did most of the talking" during the brief visit. It also confirms an account of the episode by former deputy attorney general James B. Comey, who said Ashcroft told the two men he was not well enough to make decisions at the hospital.
Let's see you try and weasle your way out of this one, Gonzo.

The Bear And The Dragon

Remember when these two hated each other? How times change...
President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, will attend an unprecedented show of joint military force today amid fears that the Russian leader is trying to turn an increasingly powerful central Asian alliance into a second Warsaw Pact.

The United States will be anxiously watching the military manoeuvres-held under the auspices of the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)-from afar after its request to send observers was rejected.

Washington has plenty of reasons to be uneasy. Founded in 2001, the SCO, which includes the four central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Krgyztan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as well as China and Russia, is rapidly gaining a reputation as an anti-Washington organisation.

That image seems to be one that Mr Putin is happy to cultivate. Analysts say that the Russian president belives the organisation is emerging as a bloc that is rapidly becoming powerful enough to stand up to the West.

Russia's most pro-government newspapers, often used by the Kremlin as propaganda vehicles, yesterday proclaimed the arrival of an "anti-Nato" alliance and a "Warsaw Pact 2". At the annual SCO summit in the Kyrgyz capital Bishek yesterday, Mr Putin praised the alliance's growing strength. "Year aftere year the SCO becomes a more significant factor in strengthening security and stability in the central Asian region," he said.
And Cold War: The Sequel continues.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Listen To The Donne

In light of the Padilla verdict, it may be prudent to reach back in time, before the Era of George Bush (trust me, there really was one) when the methods for getting the evidence for that conviction were considered (gasp!) wrong.
Over a series of centuries, the genius of the English law had been steadily to restrict and limit the use of torture, until at this point, under King James, it was controlled by the king's judges and limited in practice through a series of special writs. Which is to say, legally it was far more constrained than it is today under an Executive Order issued by King James's understudy in allegedly Divine Right governance, George W. Bush.

Donne delivered a direct blow against this system, the use to which it was put, and the suffering it caused. He makes no equivications. And n the end he delivers his blows against even the king's judges who administer the system. No one viewed Donne as a "political figure." Indeed, owing to his Catholic background and sympathies, he eschewed court politics. Nor in the end was there anything "political" about the question of torture-it was an issue of ethics and of faith.

Donne's resolve is strong. He cites and relies on two classical authorities. And whereas they muddle and equivocate, he does not. St. Augustine, writing in book nineteen of the City of God said that "torture is indeed a thing to be lamented, and, if that were possible, to be watered with a fountain of tears." But what follows is arguably the darkest and most ethically dubious moment in the entire work. Augustine pulls back from a condemnation of torture, accepting it as a part of man's barbarity, and accepting even that a person might be forced to torture, and should not be held to have done wrong for it. Many centuries would pass before the Roman Church recongnized the error in Augustine's reasoning. Donne also cites Ulpian, the famous author of the civil law commentaries from the third century, who described the use of torture in great detail, and its evolution in the Roman legal system. Ulpian reminds us that torture began as a process authorized for use only against slaves, then it was applied to non-Roman citizens, and finally it applied to citizens as well. (How the past echoes even in today's newspapers, in which we learn of the use of torture against Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen). In the end, Ulpian rejected torture, though his argument is morally indifferent. "Torture is a difficult and deceptive thing for the strong will resist and the weak will say anything to end the pain." The law, Ulpian argued, must be a pursuit of the truth. Torture always leads into a cul de sac. Yet you would not think from hearing Donne that either of these authors had even a second's hesistation in condemning torture. Certainly Donne does not.

Donne points to the ultimate irony of the use of torture, not to punish the guilty, but as a tool to extract information-when it is well established that doesn't serve that end. He notes the immorality of this practice. John Donne was the most important clerical voice in England in his day. His opinion carried weight. Only three years after this sermon, following the assassination of the Duke of Buckingham, the laywers and judges of England assembled in the Inns of Court in London to consider a special question put to them by the king. Was the practice of torture to be permitted by the common law?

And the judges met, deliberated and declared "upon their sacred honour, and the honour of England" that the answer was "no." That marked the end of legalized torture in the English-speaking world...until the arrival of George W. Bush. And what hand did John Donne and his sermon have in this important moment in history? The answer is plain enough. And John Donne can stand as a solid model for men and women of faith today-to have courage, stand for their convictions, and not be cowed by the hollow charge of "politics."
Cheer the Padilla verdict while you can, Bushbots. let me know how you feel when a Democratic president starts thinking like Augustine and Bush. Where will the John Donnes of the world come from when that happens?

The Once And Future King

All hail the King, baby.
MEMPHIS, Tennessee, Aug. 15 (AP)-(Kyodo)-The king is gone but he's not forgotten. Thousands of Elvis Presley fans from all over the world flocked to Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, amid scorching heat and thick humidity to attend the memorial events for Elvis Week 2007 starting Thursday, the 30th anniversary of his death.

Kenji Nishimura, a 60-year-old Japanese fan from Osaka, has been longing to visit Graceland for 45 years. He retired this March and finally fulfilled his dream this week by taking his first trip to the United States.

"I just wanted to breathe the same air he breathed, and touch the same things he touched. I am pretty sure that all Elvis fans visiting this place think the same," Nishimura said.
Regardless of how he died, Elvis's talent speaks for itself. R.I.P. to The King.

Warp Speed, Mr. Sulu

If this is true it could be very cool.
A pair of German physicists claim to have broken the speed of light-an achievement that would undermine our entire understanding of space and time.

According to Einstein's special theory of relativity, it would require an infinite amount of energy to propel an object at more than 186,000 miles per second.

However, Dr Gunter Nimtz and Dr Alfons Stahlhofen, of the University of Koblenz, say they may have breached a key tenet of that theory.

The pair say they have conducted an experiment in which microwave photons-energetic particles of light-travelled "instantaneously" between a pair of prisms that had been moved up to 3ft apart.
Transporters, anyone?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Looking To The East

Quite frankly, I'd have them as an ally rather than Pakistan any day.
The US offer to supply American nuclear technology to India has not been universally acclaimed. India's opposition parties have attacked the deal out of claims that it leaves foreign policy hostage to Washington's influence, and there is no absolute guarantee that the deal will get approval by legislators in Washington, some of whom will claim that it weakens the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The Nuclear Supplier's Group (a group of countries which seeks to apply non-proliferation guidelines to the supply of nuclear materials) also needs to give its approval. Safeguards in the form of the subjection of India's civilian nuclear program to International Atomic Energy Agency scrutiny may reassure a few doubters, but many will hold on to the vew that the aims of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which India assuredly will still not sign, have suffered a further setback.

But that's not the point. The deal transcends domestic politics. Nor is it really about the international legal basis of what the Indian and US governments agreed to at the end of July. The Indian nuclear deal is really about political symbolism. India now has the big tick in the box that it was seeking. India has effectively been welcomed by the United States as an approved member of the international nuclear club. The signal has been given. Whatver happens now can't really change that.

The deal is part of Washington's welcoming of India as the next big thing in international politics. As the world's largest democeary and the second most prominent rising power in Asia (after China), India is part of the unofficial Asian quad (alongside the US, Japan and Australia), which some political leaders in Washington and Tokyo are selling as a democratic concert but which looks a lot like a containment plan for China.
If there's a new Cold War brewing in Asia over the next few years, the next President will need allies they can count on in the region. India sounds like a good bet for that.

Killer Bee Bugout

Holy crap, I can't believe I'm on the same side as these people.
International animal rights group PETA on Wednesday condemned a "shocking and sickening" video clip produced by a Hamas-run TV station and posted on the YouTube Web site that showed the abuse of animals.

PETA said it would protest to the TV station over the program that showed animals being abused as part of a program aimed at teaching children not to hurt animals.

The clip prompted scores of complaints from viewers worldwide.

"It's shocking and sickening," said Martin Merserau, manager of the domestic animal abuse division of U.S.-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Aminals (PETA).
One could also say the same thing about the child abuse disguised as education that this Hamas station is inflicting on its studio audience.

Happiness Is...

Amazingly, most of the country is feeling pretty good. Guess which part isn't?
A surprising 94 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with their lives-although far fewer in New York and other Eastern states think they're better off than they were five years ago, according to a new survey.

The Harris Poll of more than 1,000 people reported the over all "satisfaction" level, defined as people who said they were either very or somewhat satisfied with their lot, was up 4 percentage points, from 90 percent two years ago.

But only 42 percent of people in the Eastern U.S. said things had improved since 2002. By contrast, 60 percent of Southerners and 62 percent of Westerners said their lives had improved.
What does this mean? Bad news for Hillary or whomever the Democratic nominee is, for starters. If too many people are happy, liberals can't convince people that everyone else should be as miserable as they are.

The War On Zombies

Now this is funny.

Dictator For Life

Fidel Jr. loves his country so much, he says he should be in charge forever.
CARACAS, Venezuela-President Hugo Chavez was presenting his blueprint Wednesday for sweeping constitutional changes to allow him to be re-elected indefinitely.

Chavez, who is seeking to transform Venezuelan society along socialist lines, announced late Tuesday that he would unveil his project before crowds of supporters at the National Assembly. He predicted it would bring renewed political upheaval to Venezuela.

Chavez's political allies firmly control the National Assembly, which is expected to approve the plan within several months. It then would have to be approved by citizens in a national referendum.

Critics accuse Chavez of seeking to become a lifelong leader, like his close friend Fidel Castro. Chavez denies allegations that he poses a threat to democracy, noting that he has repeatedly won elections by large margins.
People get the kind of government they deserve. If they want to turn Venezuela into their own version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, should they really be surprised that Fidel Jr. wants to be its Napoleon?