Friday, March 31, 2006

Another One Bites The Dust

Former Tom Delay aide Tony Rudy plead guilty today to felony conspiracy, and will testify against others in the ongoing Abramoff investigation.

Rudy got a deal he couldn't refuse by the prosecution, it will spare his wife Lisa from prosecution. Lisa Rudy had ran Liberty Consulting, which frequently worked with Abramoff.

Look for indictments and pleas to pick up pace in the Abramoff investigation as in his and partner Adam Kidan's sentencing it was noted that they would remain free for ninety days to cooperate with investigators before starting their prison sentences. I'd say investigators have quite a few of these cases sewn up pretty tight.

Fucking It Up

In the run up to the Iraq war, one of the bigger reasons I opposed the war, and there were several reason, was that this administration was, and is, in no way, shape, or form, competent enough to prosecute it. I knew they couldn't help but fuck it up.

Today, in London, Condoleezza Rice admitted as much. From Reuters:

"Yes, I know we have made tactical errors, thousands of them," she [Rice] said in answer to a question over whether lessons had been learned since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Yes, that's very true, and unfortunately, a lot of those errors cannot be simply corrected. Look, out invasion of Iraq very much resembled an elephant breaking and then trying to repair a pocket watch. Very heavy on force, but unable to grasp the pieces to put it back together. In fact, an elephant could have probably written a better post-war strategy if a large enough keyboard could have been found. That leads us to Rumsfeld.

If Rice is out there saying these things, the writing is probably on the wall for Rumsfeld. I had read somewhere that Bolten's first job would be to can Rumsfeld, Rice's statements now lead me to believe that to be true.

The Expanding Line

How hard in the wind blowing in the republican's faces? The Fix over at the Washington Post has decided to expand their Friday list of the ten most likely House seats to change hands to twenty races. Democrats hod the edge in picking up fifteen of those seat.

AS bad as things are going for republicans, things could be a lot worse. A mild winter kept them out of the home heating costs crosshairs. Yes, heating costs were up this year, but a harsh winter would have sent those costs to a breaking point, and unlike Iraq, voters would have gotten to see the money coming out of their pockets in an up close and personal manner with only a republican led Congress to vent their frustrations on. They luckily avoided a winter of discontent.

Actually, the republicans have benefited from mild winters the last couple of cycles. Lucky them.

Of course, as nature giveth, she also taketh away. This coming hurricane season is forecast to be as bad as last year's, which should put voters in a Katrina state of mind as they go to the polls with fresh memories of this year's storms, and hopefully, only reminders of last year's failures.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Kaloogian From Afar (Not Tel Afar)

Howard Kaloogian has replaced the picture of Istanbul with this actual picture of Baghdad (we think) on his campaign web site. Pretty up close and personal, huh.

Pic found at TPM.

When We Come A Knockin'

The excellent Iraqi blogger Riverbend, when she has electricity, is reporting that Iraqi television has been running this PSA from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. From Riverbend:

“The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.”

This statement tells us a couple of things about the state of security in Iraq.

First, it tells us that the burgeoning Iraqi security forces we've been hearing about for the last couple of years must be afraid of the dark. It's clear that these security forces don't go out after the sun goes down without taking the Americans along as a nightlight.

Second, it tells us that if you do see them out at night alone, they either can't be trusted, or it isn't them. Who knows how many militia members wonder the streets at night posing as security forces.

I do have to wonder though, if a group of heavily armed men show up at your door claiming to be the police or army without coalition forces to guide them, what the hell do you do? I guess you just hope they don't kill you.

While I semi-regularly read Riverbend, I found this post courtesy of Mr. Turk.

Jill Carroll Released

CNN is reporting that Jill Carroll has been released unharmed.

Update 6:29AM: Maybe

Update 7:29AM: It's official. What happened at 6:30 is that CNN correspondent Nic Robertson stopped short of saying that she had been turned over to the Americans. He would only say that she was in the correct hands to be released.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Do Not Pass Go

Jack Abramoff and Adam Kidan were each sentenced to seventy months in prison today for their role in the SunCruz deal. It's part of a larger plea deal, so we will have to wait to find out how long each of them will have to spend at the Gray Bar Hotel.

Kaloogian Is A Fool Again

Howard Kaloogian, who is running to replace Duke Cunningham in the CA-50 special election, put this picture on his campaign website to show voters how relatively restive Baghdad actually is. You know, to get through the filter of Big Media which only tells us the bad news in Iraq. One problem though, it's a picture of the Istanbul suburb Bakirkoy. With an army of millions of bloggers, diarists, and readers, what makes people think they can get away with this stuff anymore?

Hat tips to AnthonyLA for finding the picture and to jem6x for solving the riddle of the picture's location.

Influencing Iraq

The Bush administration simply does not understand foreign policy. The latest example of that comes in the form of President Bush telling the Iraqis that he doesn't want Ibrahim al-Jaafari to continue as Prime Minister once (if ever) the new government is formed. From The New York Times:

The ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the head of the main Shiite political bloc at a meeting on Saturday to pass on a "personal message from President Bush" to the interim prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said Redha Jowad Taki, a Shiite member of Parliament who was at the meeting.

Mr. Khalilzad said Mr. Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" Mr. Jaafari as the next prime minister, according to Mr. Taki, a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite bloc. It was the first "clear and direct message" from the Americans on a specific candidate for prime minister, Mr. Taki said.

Unless this is a case of bait and paste diplomacy, and it doesn't seem to be, you have to wonder what the hell Bush could possibly be thinking. Now that this has become public, and it was always going to become public, al-Jaafari will have a lot more juice to try to stay on as Prime Minister for the new government. Anyone replacing him would be viewed as a puppet for Bush, and any Minister of Parliament voting for a replacement will be viewed as a pawns.

What's worse, I don't think al-Jaafari had much of a chance of retaining this spot anyway, but now if he is seen as being pushed out by the Bush administration, it will likely set of violence between the Madhi Army and the Badr Brigade as al-Jaafari is backed by Muqtada al-Sadr and Abdul Mahdi, who is the most logical replacement, is backed by Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of SCIRI. It should be noted that the US went to al-Hakim with the demand for the removal of al-Jaafari.

Sadr's Madhi Army and al-Hakim's Badr Brigade have fueded for years and this might be the flashpoint that starts an open civil war in Iraq.

Kadima Wins Israeli Parliamentary Elections

A couple of years ago, I told some friends that I didn't think that the Middle East peace process would ever make much progress until Ariel Sharon and Yassar Arafat were dead. More recently I had changed my mind about Sharon, but I had become less certain that his new movement would move forward after Sharon slipped into a coma so close to the controversial evacuation of the Gaza Strip, but yesterday's elections gave a victory to Sharon's Kadima party, a win that should help move the peace process forward. It was a pretty bad defeat for the hard-line right Likud party, who finished fifth.

With Kadima leading the way and Ehud Olmert remaining Prime Minister, the evacuation of most of the West Bank will proceed, which is going to be ugly as there eight times as many families there as there was in Gaza. Still, it will happen.

After the evacuation, Hamas needs to make the next step towards peace, but that is going to be unlikely as long as Israel is withholding the Palestinian's legally due monthly tax and customs duties. Israel needs to reconstitute those payments, and Hamas needs to in return, recognize Israel's right to exist.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Immigration As A Wedge Issue

I don't see the immigration bill as approved by the Judiciary Committee as much of a wedge issue for the 2006 elections. There has been a lot of talk that this issue will fracture the republican coalition. I don't think so and here's why.

In a way, both factions of the republican party got what they wanted if the bill passes as the committee approved it. Big business will still have access to cheap labor, and the conservative right will, well, they still get to be angry, and sometimes I think they relish that more than ever having a chance to implement the policies they trumpet.

The conservative right aren't going to vote for Democrats any time soon, and, at least in the Senate, there aren't any viable primary challengers to the republican incumbents. The only Senate race this could potentially effect would be the DeWine / Brown match up in Ohio as DeWine sided with the Democrats in committee, but I don't think it will. With Ken Blackwell probably heading up the statewide ticket, those voter are still going to turnout, and they are more likely to pull the lever for DeWine than Brown or than not at all. There may be some House races this effects, but I haven't looked at that yet.

The one thing that will hurt the republicans over this deal is that they came out looking very bad as a party to Hispanics. They will probably lose some of the inroads they have made in the past few years among Hispanic voters. Will it be enough to turn the tide? I don't know, but it won't break up the traditional conservative block.

Andrew Card Resigns

Andy Card out as White House Chief of Staff, Josh Bolten will replace him. I wouldn't characterize this as much of a shake up in the White House staff. It's more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Nothing in the way of new blood, and with Card out of the way, Rove should reign supreme in the West Wing.

Card will fall just short of being the longest ever serving White House Chief of Staff. That honor belongs to Sherman Adams, the Chief of Staff for Dwight Eisenhower. Adams was forced to resign after accepting a vicuna fur coat from a textile manufacturer that was being investigated by the federal government. Times sure have changed, huh?

Monday, March 27, 2006

MANPADS And Commercial Airlines

ABC News has a story up today about a pet peeve of mine. It's the failure to do anything about the threat of shoulder fired missiles (MANPADS) hitting commercial airliners. The fact that we haven't done anything about this threat is beyond ridiculous, because the simple fact is, if one shoulder fired missile hits one commercial airliner ever, that's it for the airline industry. It's done.

How much will it cost to retrofit the current commercial fleet? An embarrassingly small $10 billion dollars. You may think that's a lot of money, and it is, but the inevitable collapse of air travel if someone manages to bring down an airliner in the United States would cost the country as much as a hundred times that amount of money in lost travel and tourism.

We all saw what kind of hit the economy took after 9/11. This would be much, much worse, and the bottom line is that after it happened we'd have to retrofit the fleet anyway or nobody would ever fly again. We should be proactive about this and do it now.

The only question is who is going to pay for it. The airlines just don't have the money to do it, and government intervention is going to lead to every other business with terrorist threats coming to the US government for a handout rather than pay their own way.

The solution has got to come in the form of long term government backed loans to the airlines to be paid for with say, a $5 surcharge per ticket sold. I'd pay that to keep my ass from being blown out of the sky, wouldn't you?

Bye Bye Anti-American Guy

Well, if there was any doubt that Zacarias Moussaoui would get the death penalty, his testimony most assuredly erased that doubt. Moussaoui testified that he was to be in charge of flying a fifth plane into the White House on 9/11. From The Washington Post:

Testifying at his own death-penalty trial, over the objections of his attorneys, Moussaoui said he had not known the precise date the attacks were to take place, but that he knew they would involve the White House, the World Trade Center and other targets.

He said he was supposed to head a five-man crew that also would have included Richard Reid, a British citizen who tried to set off explosives in his shoes aboard a transatlantic flight two months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Moussaoui's attorneys simply sat back and shook their heads as he discredited pretty much their entire case. According to NPR, even the prosecutors were stunned to hear Moussaoui admit to being a part of the 9/11 conspiracy after he has denied it up to now.

I'd say he's a dead man.

Rove Thowing Cheney Under The Bus?

Whether he's doing it out of disdain for the VP, or to save his own sorry ass, it more and more appears that Karl Rove is trying to throw Dick Cheney under the bus. Rove has been cooperating with Patrick Fitzgerald in the Valerie Plame case and is reported to be the one who led Fitzgerald to the missing 250 pages of e-mail from the Vice President's office. From Raw Story:

According to one source close to the case, Rove is providing information on deleted emails, erased hard drives and other types of obstruction by staff and other officials in the Vice President's office. Pentagon sources close to Rove confirmed this account.

None would name the staffers and/or officials whom Rove is providing information about. They did, however, explain that the White House computer system has "real time backup" servers and that while emails were deleted from computers, they were still retrievable from the backup system. By providing the dates and recipient information of the deleted emails, sources say, Rove was able to chart a path for Fitzgerald directly into the office of the Vice President.

As any rat does, Rove denies a deal had been made through his lawyer, which is refuted by Raw Story's source. Also from Raw Story:

"Your story is false and utterly without foundation," he said. "There has never been any discussion of any deal of any kind involving Mr. Rove. His cooperation has at all times been voluntary and unconditional."

One of the sources close to the investigation said he was not surprised by Luskin's response.

"That would be difficult for Rove to admit," the source said. "I think Rove is now considered a special cooperating witness."

I always thought dough boy looked like a fink.

Delay's Concealed Carry License Revoked

Karma, bitches!

Found via Raw Story

Times Gets The Memo

The New York Times has now aquired the memo that proves that Bush was going to attack Iraq whether Iraq had banned weapons or not. From the Times:

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

Now, this really isn't news to me, I knew from the get go that this administration was going to attack Iraq, period. It is long past time for Big Media to start to figure that out as well.

The War And The Middle

A few days ago I wrote that President Bush has already spent all of his political capital and is now spending the republican Congress' capital on the Iraq war. An article in the LA Times seems to confirm that statement, particularly among right leaning centrists in the country. From the Times:

As Liz Larrison cooks up breakfast for customers at her family's diner in a farm town long friendly to the Republican Party, she listens as the regulars sling political opinions as easily as she slings ham steaks.

Increasingly, the talk these days revolves around Iraq, and it is the kind of talk that could spell trouble for the GOP.

Nobody is against the people fighting the war. I think you'll hear that everywhere," she said. "We're just against it going on and on."

On top of other woes confronting Republicans, the continuing violence in Iraq and President Bush's message last week that the deployment would last several more years has heightened Republicans' concerns about how voters such as Larrison will view the party in the November elections.

In fact, Larrison — who, like many of her customers, considers herself independent but tends to vote for Republicans — says she will vote against her Republican congressman.

Keep in mind, this story takes place in southern Indiana, a pretty conservative part of the country.

Found via Kevin Drum

More Plagiarism

Looks like we have another instance of plagiarism on our hands, and this time it isn't some right wing blogger nobody ever heard of. Russian President Vladimir Putin plagiarized his doctoral thesis from a study written in the 1970's at the University of Pittsburgh. From

According to Clifford G. Gaddy, a senior fellow at Brookings, 16 of the 20 pages that open a key section of Mr Putin's work were copied either word for word or with minute alterations from a management study, Strategic Planning and Policy, by US professors William King and David Cleland. The study was translated into Russian by a KGB-related institute in the early 1990s.

The Washington Times reported that six diagrams and tables from the 218-page thesis also appeared to "mimic" similar charts in the US work.

The newspaper quoted Mr Gaddy as saying: "There's no question in my mind that this would be plagiarism."

It's been a bad week for Putin, who is now thought to have given the Iraqis a copy of the United States' invasion plan.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Had Enough?

Newt Gingrich echoes the sentiments that Charlie Cook said today on the Sunday talkies in tomorrow's issue of Time. From Time:

Newt Gingrich, who masterminded the 1994 elections that brought Republicans to power on promises of revolutionizing the way Washington is run, told Time that his party has so bungled the job of governing that the best campaign slogan for Democrats today could be boiled down to just two words: "Had enough?"

All of the people who are out there saying that the Democrats should have already presented a plan for what they will do if elected are wrong. Right now, we need to keep bashing them over their myriad of problems. Cook said today that it probably isn't a good idea politically for the minority party to present such a plan at this time. He's right. Had enough is good enough this early in the campaign season.

The article also says that if the election was held today, strategists from both parties conclude they would lose the House and looks at the difficulties facing republican incumbents have with a unpopular president.

The bottom line is, look for a lot of airport fundraisers. House and Senate members want the money Bush can raise, they just don't want to be seen with him. This paragraph from the article contains three money quotes as to the dangers of actively trying to distance themselves from Bush. From Time:

But party leaders are warning privately against taking that strategy too far. "If Diet Coke criticizes Coke, people buy Pepsi, not Diet Coke," said Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee. In an internal Republican Party memo provided to Time, Jan van Lohuizen, a longtime Bush pollster, warns candidates tempted to distance themselves that "President Bush drives our image and will do so until we have real national front-runners for the '08 nomination. If he drops, we all drop." Another Republican strategist describes the problem for g.o.p. candidates this way: "Adding weight to the anchor doesn't help them."

Rock, meet hard place.

Global Warming

If you haven't yet been scared shitless about global warming, pick up a copy of Time magazine tomorrow. Time has a lengthy article on global warming and the prospects of passing tipping points that create feed back loops in the very near future. To consider the dangers of passing these tipping points, you have to look at two facts contained in the article. From Time:

As a tiny component of our atmosphere, carbon dioxide helped warm Earth to comfort levels we are all used to. But too much of it does an awful lot of damage. The gas represents just a few hundred parts per million (p.p.m.) in the overall air blanket, but they're powerful parts because they allow sunlight to stream in but prevent much of the heat from radiating back out. During the last ice age, the atmosphere's CO2 concentration was just 180 p.p.m., putting Earth into a deep freeze. After the glaciers retreated but before the dawn of the modern era, the total had risen to a comfortable 280 p.p.m. In just the past century and a half, we have pushed the level to 381 p.p.m., and we're feeling the effects. Of the 20 hottest years on record, 19 occurred in the 1980s or later. According to NASA scientists, 2005 was one of the hottest years in more than a century.

Now, as we start to thaw the Arctic and the permafrost the carbon release doesn't go up a little it goes up a lot. Also from Time:

A similar feedback loop is melting permafrost, usually defined as land that has been continuously frozen for two years or more. There's a lot of earthly real estate that qualifies, and much of it has been frozen much longer than two years—since the end of the last ice age, or at least 8,000 years ago. Sealed inside that cryonic time capsule are layers of partially decayed organic matter, rich in carbon. In high-altitude regions of Alaska, Canada and Siberia, the soil is warming and decomposing, releasing gases that will turn into methane and CO2. That, in turn, could lead to more warming and permafrost thaw, says research scientist David Lawrence of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (ncar) in Boulder, Colo. And how much carbon is socked away in Arctic soils? Lawrence puts the figure at 200 gigatons to 800 gigatons. The total human carbon output is only 7 gigatons a year.

That's 30 to 100 times what we are releasing every year and once that starts, there isn't a damned thing we can do about it. Go read the entire article, and remember, the only way to get anything accomplished in this country which emits 25% of the worlds carbon emissions, is to vote republicans out of office. They currently hold all three branches of government in this country and they haven't done a damn thing about this problem other than pay it some lip service.

Pay To Play

The Toledo Blade has an article about the pay to play practices of both Betty Montgomery and Jim Petro today. The basic story is that lawyers throughout the state donated money through back channels in return for "special council' work. Petro and Montgomery received $1.49 million and 1.27 million respectively while dolling out over $170 million in business to these law firms.

Is it pay to play, of course it is, but what is the answer to stopping it? I'm beginning to fall into the group that thinks that publicly financed elections are the answer, because people who are willing to pay to get the chance to play are always going to find a way around current campaign laws. That's just the way it is.

For instance, in my field, we are only allowed to donate $1,000 to gubernatorial candidate and still do no bid state work, but although I have never looked into it, I'm sure there are ways around that similar to what these lawyers did to get work from the Attorney General's office.

If these campaigns were publicly financed, and a few states have already went to this, a lot of this type of corruption could be stopped. Simply electing honest people won't stop it because there is always going to be someone out there willing to take these funds and it's hard as hell to retain your office when you start out with your fundraising in the hole. Just ask Lee Fisher. From the Blade:

It was in the middle of Mr. Fisher's single term as attorney general that he decided it was "inappropriate and unwise" to solicit or accept campaign contributions from special counsel.

"The result was it became more difficult for me to raise money to defend my re-election in 1994. I believe that officeholders need to be focused not just on what is improper and illegal but to avoid the appearance of impropriety," he said in an interview last week.

I'm certainly not surprised that Petro and Montgomery engaged in pay to play, they are simply a product of the current republican culture of corruption that was built under Governor George Voinovich, speaking of which, how does he manage to keep his name out of this mess? I mean, think what you want about Bob Taft, but Voinovich built the machine.


The Dispatch has a poll of Ohio's primary voters today, and it looks like it's going to be Ted Strickland and Ken Blackwell facing off the in the state's Gubernatorial race. Strickland has an enormous lead over gubernatorial nopeful (not a typo) Bryan Flannery who released a very negative press release last week. Ken Blackwell hold an eleven point advantage over Jim Petro.

If Blackwell hangs on to win the primary, and I think he will, Strickland will have an enormous opportunity to raise out of state money through the internet and various fundraising e-mail lists, possibly as much as $10 million.

As for the downticket statewides, nobody seems to know who anybody is outside of Betty Montgomery with undecideds running from the high sixties to the low seventies.

Both Sherrod Brown and Mike DeWine look to sail through their respective Senate primaries with opponents all polling in the single digits. The Washington Post has a pretty good rundown on this race here.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


I speak only as a layman. Go read Glenn.

Signing Statement

An article in the Boston Globe shines the light brightly on the driving force behind my anger with Arlen Spector that I wrote about a couple of days ago. Spector passed the last two Supreme Court Justices through the Judiciary Committee knowing that they would back the unitary executive theory that the Bush administration asserts when they flagrantly violate the law.

Spector now seems exasperated that the administration is illegally spying on Americans by claiming the theory of the unitary executive. So what, Spector actually endorsed that position when he voted to put both Roberts and Alito on the Supreme Court.

As for the two quaint little laws Spector is preparing to put to a Senate vote regarding wiretapping oversight, they are most definitely going to receive a signing statement from the President similar to this one issued on the oversight provisions in the renewed Patriot Act. From the Boston Globe:

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information."

Spector can piss and moan all he wants, but he helped shape the court to make the lawlessness of the executive branch Constitutional, at least while these jackasses are on the bench, and his little oversight bill now isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Look in the mirror Arlen, direct your anger there.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's Over

Ben Domenech has resigned from the Washington Post. Executive Editor Jim Brady writes the following:

In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.

An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately.

When we hired Domenech, we were not aware of any allegations that he had plagiarized any of his past writings. In any cases where allegations such as these are made, we will continue to investigate those charges thoroughly in order to maintain our journalistic integrity.

Plagiarism is perhaps the most serious offense that a writer can commit or be accused of. will do everything in its power to verify that its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately at all times.

We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.

We also remain committed to representing a broad spectrum of ideas and ideologies in our Opinions area.

Jim Brady Executive Editor,

I do sort of agree with one thing Brady writes, it does show the positive that the Internet can play in the practice of journalism, but only to the point that plagiarists are outed for their intellectual thievery. The Red America blog offered no chance for critics to really challenge the slanted facts laid out by it, and it would have been allowed to continue to present slanted facts if the Post had hired somebody who published their own thoughts.

I would like one further explanation from Brady. Why was this post was scrubbed from the blog?

Port Security

Having access to your phone lines to illegally listen to your conversations, that's proprietary to the US Government. Protecting you from a nuclear weapon smuggled into the United States through our ports. We'll let the Chinese take care of that. If you wonder what I'm talking about, read on.

In 2003, a subsidiary of a Hong Kong company, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. attempted to buy the failed telecommunication company Global Crossing Ltd. Not so fast said the Bush administration, who blocked the deal on the grounds of national security. They must not of wanted the Chinese getting in the way of spying on Americans. OK, that's a little bit snarky, I'm sure there are justifications for blocking the deal, like the Chinese being able to shut down the system in the event of a national emergency. (I know this is a Hong Kong based company, but it's chairman Li Ka-Shing is pretty tight with the leaders of China, and Trent Lott once called this company "an arm of the People's Liberation Army.") Anyway, it was probably a good call.

Now, however, the Bush administration is putting the final touches on a no-bid contract with Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. for port security. Their task? They will being doing radiation scanning at the port in Freeport, Bahamas for freight bound for the United States, without the oversight of US customs agents. This will be the first time in history that a foreign firm has been allowed to do this. The administration is also working on a similar contract to do the same thing in the Phillipines with another company.

You can think what you want about foreign entities operating port facilities, but if the administration doesn't consider Hutchison Whampoa Ltd trustworthy enough to badger me about savings on long distance, they certain can't be trustworthy enough to keep nuclear weapons out of our country.

Found via Josh Marshall


For whatever reason, Ben Domenech's latest post on his Washington Post blog has been scrubbed. Plagiarized? I've got a hard copy and will try to find out.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Lou Dobbs

I normally don't watch The Lou Dobbs War On Brown People Attack Hour. There's only so many times you can watch a different version of the same immigration story. Today, however I was flipping through and caught this ridiculous poll.

Which issue is Hillary Clinton most out of touch on?

Illegal Immigration
Border Security
With The American People
All Of The Above
None Of The Above

I'm not a Hillary supporter, but fuck Lou Dobbs!

Play It Again, Ben

In case you haven't heard by now, the Washington Post has hired a republican operative to write a Red America blog, taking partisanship at newspapers to a new level. A funny thing happened to the Post on their way to promoting right wing ideology though, it turns out that Ben Domenech is now a well documented plagiarist. Ha! The Post deserved this.

The Kos crew and Atrios have the details.


With President Bush and Dick Cheney touring the country giving speeches about how well things are going in Iraq, perhaps the administration should be reading the State Department's "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" which contains the following paragraph. From The Chicago Tribune: (I know I said I never read it, but I found it via Froomkin)

“Bombings, executions, killings, kidnappings, shootings, and intimidation were a daily occurrence throughout all regions and sectors of society. An illustrative list of these attacks, even a highly selective one, could scarcely reflect the broad dimension of the violence.”

Wow, that sounds great. I didn't know it was going that well. Seriously though, I think the American people have realized now that we can't put the genie back in the bottle. The problem is not that Bush won't solve the problem, it's that he can't solve the problem.

Look, what we are doing in Iraq is tantamount to bailing out the Titanic with a teacup. We don't have the manpower to fix it, Bush has alienated our allies who won't be giving us any manpower anytime soon, and the manpower we are getting from the Iraqis is both corrupt and complicit. There is no viable solution at this time. It was a one shot deal, and Bush blew it.

The other day Bush said he is spending his political capital on the war. I have news for him, he has spent all of his political capital, he's now running a political capital spending deficit that will have to be paid not by a future president, but by the current republican held Congress with a balloon payment due November 7th.


When George Bush the elder and Bill Clinton reunited to raise money for hurricane relief through the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, Barbara Bush must of really been moved by the gesture. Babs donated a unknown sum of money to the charity, and surely gained a tax break for doing so. However, there was a catch.

Donors have the opportunity when giving to have their gift earmarked, which Babs did. She chose to earmark her donation to be spent on educational software made by Ignite Learning, the company owned by her son, Neil Bush.

Now, there is nothing illegal, or really unethical about this I suppose, but it does seem like sort of a shitty thing to do, don't you agree?

Let No Bad Deed Go Punished

Arlen Spector's concern over the President's illegal wiretapping is laughable. Specter, who currently has two bills in his Judiciary Committee to alter the law to make the President's actions legal, states his outrage in today's Washington Post. From the Post:

"They want to do just as they please, for as long as they can get away with it," Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think what is going on now without congressional intervention or judicial intervention is just plain wrong."

Really, no kidding, but the bills Spector plans on rolling out to a full Senate vote don't do anything about that. They are, in fact, an application of oil to the slippery slope that our civil liberties balance upon. By simply making the President's actions legal, what's to deter him from grasping even more power away from the Congress in the future. I mean, come on.

Of course, if Spector really cared about the President's illegal activities, he probably shouldn't have pushed two yes-men for the President through his Judiciary Committee to the Supreme Court. Spector has helped shape the Court into one that is likely to rule for this administration over no matter what laws they violate.

Pictures Of The Enemy

This is funny. Openers found this picture on OH-02 candidate Bob McEwen's web site. The woman in the circle is his opponent, Jean Schmidt. McEwen is also in the picture, he's the man in the rectangle with his head cut out of the picture. Nice work guys.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Katherine Harris

How much graft does Katherine Harris think there is in the Senate? She now says that she will sell all of her personal assets to fund her failing Senate campaign. From

Harris told John Donvan, of "Nightline," that she intends to sell all her personal assets to fund the race. "My husband has real estate, but I will not own anything."

Since making a pledge last week to put $10 million of her money into the race, Harris has made the phrase "putting everything on the line" a new campaign theme.
"I am willing to take this widow's mite, this pearl of great price, and put everything on the line," she told Donvan. "No matter how much you have, are you willing to take what you have and sell it all for a great price?"

Hilarious, she can't even campaign in her own state right now as she has been avoiding Florida reporters who have ripping her to shreds ever since the revelation was made public that Cunningham briber Mitchell Wade gave her $32,000 in illegal campaign funds, for which she attempted to give him a $10 million earmark. The earmark failed to get inserted because she missed a deadline.

A fool and her money are soon to be parted.

Illinois Stuff

How much juice does Barack Obama have in Illinois? State Treasurer candidate Alexi Giannoulias' campaign ads simply featured Obama reading his endorsements. Giannoulias won yesterday's primary 60-40.

Also from the State of Illinois comes this rather pathetic interview from The Chicago Tribune's political writer Rick Pearson with republican Judy Baar Topinka, the GOP's gubernatorial candidate: From the Tribune:

Tribune political writer Rick Pearson: Are you going to take money from people who do business with the treasurer’s office for the general election?

Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka: Well, we’ve always taken money from them, and we’ve always put everything out in terms of public bidding.

RP: I understand, but why open yourself up now in terms of the whole ethics issue?

JBT: Well, they have the right to participate. We make sure that everything is competitively bid in our office, including amendments.

RP: I understand, but why do it?

JBT: Because I’m not a millionaire. I don’t print money in the basement, I don’t rob banks.…

RP: Here in the final days of your campaign you were being accused of pay to play politics, I understand you have a need to raise money, but at the same time, given that you are the Republican nominee for governor for the state of Illinois, do you really need to take money from businesses that do business with the treasurer’s office?

JBT: I think anybody that does business can participate as long as it is very publicly documented so you know exactly where that money come from. You will never find a cause-and-effect relationship between the people who give me money and whether or not they get a contract. I mean, you just look at our records! It will prove out that we do everything through competitive bid. That there is absolutely no favoritism, the rules are the same for everybody, and it plays out that that way.

Sounds like she's being interviewed by a child. It's no wonder I never read the Tribune.

Chuck Blasdel

Well, the race to replace Ted Strickland in Ohio-06 has really turned into a clusterfuck. First, Charlie Wilson fails to get enough valid signatures to make the primary ballot for the Democrats, now we find out that the leading republican candidate, Chuck Blasdel, for the vacated House seat owes $54,915.87 in delinquent taxes from two failed business ventures. This comes on the heels of Blasdel bouncing a property tax check last week.

We have a failed businessman in the White House, and you see how that turned out. I don't think we need to start populating Congress with them.

Found via The Swing State Project

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

He Ain't Heavy, He's My President

President Bush today decided to hold a press conference and when the most unpopular issue of the day came up, he threw Congressional republicans a big fat anvil. From Think Progress:

REPORTER: Will there come a day, and I’m not asking you when — I’m not asking for a timetable — will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?

BUSH: That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.

Since the next president won't get that opportunity until January, 2009, you have to think voters are going to take out their frustrations over the war on Congressional republicans this year.

I'm going to have to think that yet another drop in the president's approval ratings are coming after this revelation, although I don't know how much lower it is possible for them to go. Do I hear the high twenties coming? After all, weren't we told this thing would last months, not years.

Side Note: WWII lasted 1,378 days after America became involved. According to Bush, the soonest we could be out of Iraq is January 20, 2009, or 2,134 days, but, although while doubtful, we could pacify the resistance prior to that date.

You also have to figure that even if we draw down forces, we're going to drop another $40 - $50 billion a year on this fiasco for three more years.

Bake Sale For Justice

The FBI needs some more money because, get this, they can't afford e-mail addresses for all of their agents. I kid you not. Charles Schumer recently addressed this issue. From CNN:

Senator Charles Schumer called for better access to technology for agents.

"The FBI should have the tools it needs to fight terrorism and crime in the 21st century, most of all in New York City, and one of the most effective means of communications is e-mail and the Internet," he said.

"FBI agents not having e-mail or Internet access is much too much a pre-9/11 mentality."

Pre 9/11 mentality? Yea, but from what year? 1995? How, in 2006, can we still have law enforcement agents without this stuff.

So, won't you please participate in my Bake Sale For Justice. After all, how else will these agents find out about off shore gambling opportunities, guaranteed weight loss programs, and sure fired erectile dysfunction cures? Won't you help the agents? Isn't anyone thinking of the agents?

Progress, Bush Style

Yesterday, in Cleveland, George Bush touted all of the sweet, sweet, goodness that has happened in a town that you've never heard of, and he repeatedly mispronounced. What's the locals take? From the Washington Post:

[Nassir] Sebti, the mechanic, was more fearful of sectarian conflict. "People now are afraid to send their kids to school," he said. "I have to take my son to and from the school every day. There are two gangs in Tall Afar now that specialize in kidnapping children. Police can do nothing against that."

Awful nice of us to build those schools that people are afraid to send their children to, huh? At this point, Bush would be better off trying to sell Amway than trying to convince the American people that things are going well in Iraq.

A Little Work

I realize it's an election year, but have house republicans gotten stealing and deficit spending down so pat that they only have to meet 97 days this year. That's the House schedule which calls for meeting 11 fewer days than Harry Truman's "Do Nothing" Congress of 1948.

They're taking a week off for St Patty's day, two weeks in April, a week each in May and July, oh, and all of August.

Not bad for $165,200 a year.

The Politics Of Emasculation

Ruth Marcus has a rather muddled piece in today's Washington Post about a new book by Harvey C. Mansfield, in which he discusses manliness in politics. Marcus' piece is correct in some of its assumptions, but it isn't very clear what these assumptions mean in today’s modern political landscape. She argues that the Bush administration has overdosed on manliness, and I agree, but why?

What it basically boils down to is the politics of emasculation, and Marcus give a good example of it, possibly pushes the notion further in this article while decrying it. From the Post:

The undisputed manliness of the Bush White House stands in contrast to its predecessors and wannabes. If Republicans are the Daddy Party and Democrats the Mommy Party, the Clinton White House often operated like Mansfield's vision of an estrogen-fueled kaffeeklatsch: indecisive and undisciplined. (Okay, there were some unfortunate, testosterone-filled moments, too.) Bill Clinton's would-be successor, Al Gore, was mocked for enlisting Naomi Wolf to help him emerge as an alpha male; after that, French-speaking John Kerry had to give up windsurfing and don hunting gear to prove he was a real man. And Bush's father, of course, had to battle the Wimp Factor. Mansfield recalls Thatcher's manly admonition to 41 on the eve of the Persian Gulf War: "Don't go wobbly on me, George."

It's one of the things that sunk Kerry. Once he allowed himself to become defined as effete, no number of hunting trips was ever going to get him back over that hump. The republicans have kept using that meme for a while, but especially well through the last few cycles to define themselves as the tough party, thus emasculating the Democrats.

That's fine when it comes to campaigning, but when it comes to governing, it can be a disaster. The politics of emasculation has become just that for the country under this administration, because they don't do policy, they only do politics. When politics trumps policy, you end up with endless tax cuts, open ended war, and piled up debt. Sound familiar?

The reason that they are doing this is that they believe that if they can keep up this charade long enough, they can form a super majority in the House and Senate which will give them never ending power. Unfortunately, they have to destroy the country to fulfill their quest to promote their distorted vision for America, and even if the average citizen can’t see the incompetence that this sort of endeavor brings with it, they can feel it. That incompetence will sink this ship before it ever reaches its destination.

Emasculatory politics is also one of the reasons that the gay marriage banning amendments work so well as a wedge issue. It’s a double edge sword. Not only does it help bring out right wing Christians to the polls, it also drives average voters who are uncomfortable with homosexuals to vote for republicans, whose inherent bigotry allows them to strongly voice their support for such issues.

This will probably run its course in the near future, as the policies it creates implode under the ineptness of themselves, hopefully this year.

Monday, March 20, 2006

No Chance

If you thought the DP World ports deal was met with skepticism, wait until you hear about this. Dubai International Capital LLC is attempting to buy Doncasters Group Ltd. What does DGL produce? From Bloomberg:

Revenue from Doncasters' nine U.S. plants, which make parts for tanks and military aircraft, account for about 40 percent of total sales.

I think this might catch the attention of more than a few low level hacks at the The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. This deal has absolutely no chance of going forward.

60 Minutes

Did you see climatologist James Hansen last night on 60 Minutes? Hansen, the top climate researcher at NASA, put very bluntly the fact that if we don't do anything now to stop global warming we are going to pass tipping points that will make reversing the trend impossible. From 60 Minutes:

"We have to, in the next 10 years, get off this exponential curve and begin to decrease the rate of growth of CO2 emissions," Hansen explains. "And then flatten it out. And before we get to the middle of the century, we’ve got to be on a declining curve.

"If that doesn't happen in 10 years, then I don’t think we can keep global warming under one degree Celsius and that means we’re going to, that there’s a great danger of passing some of these tipping points. If the ice sheets begin to disintegrate, what can you do about it? You can’t tie a rope around the ice sheet. You can’t build a wall around the ice sheets. It will be a situation that is out of our control."

If you haven't heard Hansen before, it's not surprising. The Bush administration has been censoring him for the past five years. Even as he did this interview, a NASA representative had to be present to tape the interviews. It was probably an intimidation effort, but it didn't stop Hansen from laying out the truth.

At lunch today, a salesman that calls on me brought up the issue, and I could tell that the episode had a profound effect on what he thought about global warming. Hopefully, he's not alone.

Look, global warming is the greatest threat facing not just the United States, but the entire world, and we need to take the lead on this issue. We're not doing that, in fact, we're a big fat anchor slowing down the rest of the world's efforts. It's got to change, and it looks like the only way to do that is to elect more Democrats, or at least, smarter republicans, because the guys running the show right now are never going to lift a finger to stop this impending disaster.

Actually, I sometimes wonder if global warming is responsible for this administration's economic policies. After all, your children won't have to pay for our current debt if they're dead, now will they.

Katherine Harris

Again, I was going to write about this last week, but blogger was screwed up. Anyway, those of us waiting last week for Katherine Harris' major campaign announcement got a treat. Harris will loan her campaign at least $10 million dollars. This seldom works. The inability of a campaign to raise money often translates to an inability to get votes in a way that throwing your own money won't solve. All of Harris' top campaign consultants have already moved on to greener pastures having seen the handwriting on the wall.

Harris' campaign has and will continue to be a disaster, and her being a lot lighter in the wallet makes me smile.

National Agenda

Finally, a mainstream newspaper has pointed out the obvious. While many articles have been written claiming the Democrats have no positive national agenda, the Washington Post points out today that republicans don't have one either. In fact, they're plan is to claim that Democrats are even worse than they are. That won't work. This paragraph delights me:

Because of these realities, Republicans have adopted a midterm strategy designed to avoid making the election a national referendum on their performance or one that focuses on their policy divisions. Their goal is to concentrate less on the kind of positive message they have challenged the Democrats to produce and more on framing a choice that says, however unhappy voters may be right now with the Republicans' leadership, things would be worse if Democrats were in charge.

There is that word again, referendum. Every Dem candidate running this fall should use that word in every campaign speech and advertisement.


I'm pretty sure that if it wasn't for work, I wouldn't own a car. I hate the fucking things.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I just don't understand how you can be so disconnected from reality, but this article from the New York Times shows the White House is clearly experiencing a lack of understanding of the situation in Iraq. From the Times:

President Bush said Sunday he was encouraged by the progress toward forming a unity government in Iraq and asked Americans to remember the sacrifice of troops on the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion.

"I encourage the Iraqi leaders to continue to work hard to get this government up and running," Bush said from the South Lawn of the White House after returning from a weekend at Camp David. "I'm encouraged by the progress."

Progress? They recently met for a half hour, once. What the hell kind of progress is that?

Of course, Cheney also chimes in to prove he can appear equally disconnected from reality. Also from the Times:

Cheney said he did not think optimistic statements that he has made about the war have contributed to Americans' skepticism about the war. For instance, the vice president predicted that invading U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators and then said 10 months ago that the insurgency is in its last throes, even though violence still rages. Cheney said the optimistic statements "were basically accurate, reflect reality."

Basically accurate? Please, you've got to be joking. If that's basically accurate, then so is the fact that I have a fourteen inch cock.

Shame Game

Fun new game from Hasslebro. The last one to lose your civil liberties wins. Be sure to try to avoid those pesky Go Straight To Gitmo Cards.

Peachy Eggs

I like to cook, so I found this story from yesterday's Washington Post about culinary illiteracy very funny, especially this paragraph:

At a conference last December, Stephen W. Sanger, chairman and chief executive of General Mills Inc., noted the sad state of culinary affairs and described the kind of e-mails and calls the company gets asking for cooking advice: the person who didn't have any eggs for baking and asked if a peach would do instead, for example; and the man who railed about the fire that resulted when he thought he was following instructions to grease the bottom of the pan -- the outside of the pan.

Sadly, these people probably fall into what I call the Soft Seven. They are the people who don't really have any political ideology, but vote strictly on likability, break late somewhat en masse to a single candidate, and usually decide who gets to be the president of the United States. Ugh.

Found via Kevin Drum.

A Republican Sees The Errors Of His Ways

Kevin Phillips has been a republican mainstay for five decades. He worked for the Nixon White House and correctly predicted, and subsequently helped build the modern republican coalition, so now that it exists, what does he think about it? From the NYT review of his new book American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.

No longer does he see Republican government as a source of stability and order. Instead, he presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness.

Sounds about right, I'll have to pick up this book.

Do Little, Earn Big

When a member of the US House of Representatives gains a spot on the House Appropriation Committee, the campaign dollars can flow in fast, so it's important to hire a good campaign consultant to go get those dollars, or you can just hire your wife as Rep John Doolittle did.

Doolittle paid his wife, Julie, over $180,000 in commissions through her company Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions. She must be pretty good at fundraising, huh. Actually, she had no fundraising experience prior to forming SDFS and simply took a 15% cut of money that she brought in, or umm, to put it kindly, the money that was steered to her.

It's not like the phone was ringing off the hook from people wanting to donate money to Doolittle's campaign through SDFS, because they don't have a listed phone number. Of course, if they did, there would be nobody to answer it as the company doesn't have any employees.

One of the people that did know how to get in touch with Julie Doolittle was Brent Wilkes of Duke Cunningham bribing fame. Mrs. Doolittle made a cool $14,400 off of Wilkes' contributions, which of course brought in earmarks from her husband to the tune of $37 million dollars.

Seems like an open and shut case, doesn't it? Nah, I'm sure it was on the up and up. It's not like her other clients were Abramoff related, oh wait, they all were.


Kant over at Dailykos makes a good point. A lot has been said about how the Democratic party has no national united platform for the the 2006 midterm elections. We do, it's a referendum election. It's a referendum on the policies of George Bush whose approval rating currently lie in the low thirties.

In recent history, no political party has had to face midterm elections with as poisonous a pill as Bush has become, and your local republican Congress critter is nothing but an extension of him. A vote for a republican is a vote for Bush, period. That makes it a canned hunt, and it's about time we shot down these dodos instead of each other, Dick Cheney style.

Update: Murtha just called the coming election a referendum election on Meet The Press.

Operation Swarmer

Well, the largest "air assault" since the beginning of the Iraq war has ended, and quite the assault it was. Not a single shot was fired during the operation and not single leading insurgent was captured.

You have to think that any leading insurgents in the area were tipped off by members of the Iraqi security forces prior to the assault.

Actually, according to the New York Times, in the last two years we have only captured nine "top Baathists/foriegn terrorists." (35 at large two years ago, 26 at large today)

Rumsfeld v Allawi

I'm sure that when Donald Rumsfeld wrote his latest rah rah piece for the Iraq war he didn't expect it to be buried on page B07, but that is how far he has sunk. (I couldn't even find it online without using their search engine)

This morning, former Iraqi intern Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told the BBC that Iraq is in the midst of a civil war. From the Houston Chronicle:

"It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more," Ayad Allawi told the British Broadcasting Corp. "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."

At least someone is telling the truth about Iraq.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Judge Conner

I've been meaning to write about this for a couple of days, but technical difficulties have made it impossible. It's kind of funny that the controversy solved itself while I was away.

I don't think it was correct to sentence a sex offender to probation, but I'm not a judge. The fact of the matter is that the a republican prosecutor signed off on the deal, and yet Ron O'Brien has escaped public scrutiny for it. I want to know what Bill O'Reilly thinks about O'Brien's actions in this case.

Of course, the whole thing is dead now that the GOP smear machine has realized that many of their own judges has done the same thing, and since they pretty much hold a stranglehold on judgeships in Ohio, they won't go there.

This is probably an excellent opportunity to have a discussion on policy though. What to we do with sex offenders? It's a tough question. Everybody is in favor of tougher sentencing, including me, but how do we do this? Mandatory minimums are never the answer in my opinion, as they are to rigid in any application of the law. However, certain types of sex offender have some of the highest instances of recidivism.

I think we have enough history of these offenders to know that what we are doing now isn't working. Many of the ones who manage to run the gauntlet of prison to be released still have the same problem they went in with.

A new solution must be found and I have had some conversations with a few people lately about it, and I don't necessarily have an answer. Locking them up for life is certainly an option, but that must be not mandated, it should be judged by a group of experts. If fact, perhaps a governor appointed body of experts on the matter should determine the sentencing and treatment of these individuals.


If you've tried to access this site in the past few days and received some sort of error message, I apologize. Blogger has been really fucked up, but the problem seems to be solved.

Also, after yesterday, I believe Mr Shreddie now gets to eat my bracket. 25-11 along with losing two Elite Eight teams in the first round doesn't bear well.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Blogger Down

Blogger is replacing a filer today, so you can't read this right now, unless of course they've fixed it which they have or you wouldn't be reading this now would you.

Day Two

Well, I went 12-4 yesterday with my picks. The upsets I have today are Bucknell, Kent St, UAB, and Wisconsin, so again, I have a pretty much went with the chalk. Ohio st plays at 12:15 today so it's probably going to be a long lunch today.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Day One

The NCAA tourney is finally here, and I can't help but notice that I've got a lot of chalk today. I only have four upsets today. They are Texas A&M, San Diego St, Utah St, and Wisc-Milwaukee. It seems to me that the committee gave the mid-majors much love this year in the seedings, so most of the teams that would normally pull off upsets actually got higher seeds this year.

Of course, I as I'm writing this my shredder is smirking at me in a way that tells me he is quite ready to eat my bracket. We'll find out later if Mr Shreddie gets a bracket in his belly today.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


This blog hasn't been working very well lately, but the good people at Blogger had the site down for maintenance today so we'll have to see if it works better now.


So, who do you have in the Final Four? I just completed my bracket and I have Duke, UCLA, Connecticut, and Ohio State with U Conn beating UCLA in the final 86 - 83.

Also, can somebody e-mail me a copy of Billy D's pool?

March To Death

Well, it looks like the Moussaoui death march will continue. Although prosecutors say that the banning of a key witness guts their case, with the death penalty still on the table, I don't see any way he gets out of getting it.

That's one of the problems with tackling the issue of suicide bombers, or really anyone who kills somebody, then themselves. Americans still have a perverse need for blood atonement, and that's simply not possible in these cases. The perpetrators are already dead.

That's really what this case is about. Look, we've caught some people who had a lot more to do with 9/11 than Moussaoui, who probably had little, if anything to do with the plot. They're people you've never heard of and we're holding them in places you've never heard of, but Moussaoui is the one who ended up with the nickname "The Twentieth Hijacker." That personalizes him in a way to Americans that the others do not. A large number of Americans still feel the need for blood atonement for 9/11, and since this administration is too inept to get the big boogeyman bin Ladin, Moussaoui will be the one to pay the price for their sins.

I'll really be surprised if he ends up with life in prison. For the record, I don't really care one way or the other, but one of the things we must do if he does get life, and this goes for any of these guys we incarcerate, we have to keep them out of general population. That's for our sake, not theirs.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Zacarias Moussaoui

You can think what you want about the death penalty, I'm generally against it for reasons that don't apply to this case, but what TSA lawyer Carla Martin has done in the Zacarias Moussaoui case is beyond ridiculous. From the Washington Post:

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, clearly exasperated by the new problems in the oft-delayed case, called the conduct of Carla J. Martin, a Transportation Security Administration lawyer, "the most egregious violation of the court's rules on witnesses" she had seen "in all the years I've been on the bench."

Even prosecutors were stunned by Martin's actions, calling them "reprehensible" in court papers and adding, "We frankly cannot fathom why she engaged in such conduct."

What's even worse, Martin is not a part of the prosecution team, she is simply there to serve as a liaison between prosecutors and witness that need to testify about airport security. She has compromised this case and should not only be fired from her job, she should lose her license to practice law. It should also be noted that Martin served as a TSA attorney in a 9/11 civil case (Mariani vs. United Airlines) in which TSA officials were indicated in evidence tampering.

Look, I always thought this case was a slam dunk not matter how weak the prosecution's case is, and from Martin's e-mails it looks to be weak. From the Post:

Further embarrassing the government, Martin's e-mails sharply criticized prosecutors' case, saying, among other things, that their opening statement "has created a credibility gap that the defense can drive a truck through."


Martin's e-mails were highly critical of the government's case, especially an assertion by prosecutors that the government could have stopped the Sept. 11 terror attacks if Moussaoui had not lied to the FBI by, among other things, having the FAA focus airport security on short-bladed knives. The Sept. 11 hijackers used such knives to take over four airplanes.

"There is no way anyone could say that the carriers could have prevented all short bladed knives from going through -- Dave [Novak] MUST elicit that from you and the airline witnesses on direct, and not allow the defense to cut your credibility on cross," Martin wrote.

That's pretty damning, so, what do we do now. The judge could issue a mistrial, but I don't know if that's the way to go. The same witnesses would have to testify again and the damage has been done. The judge should end this case, give Moussaoui life and prison, and move on.

Monday, March 13, 2006


With scandals abounding in DC, the White House needs a boost. The Washington Post says they are suffering from the inevitable fatigue that comes with working at the White House. Most of the core group of Bush's staff have been there since day one. From the Post:

But at a time when Bush needs his staff to be sharp to help steer past these political shoals and find ways to turn things around, he still has the same core group working since he turned his sights toward the White House. That group includes Card, deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, senior adviser Michael J. Gerson, counselor Dan Bartlett, budget director Joshua B. Bolten, press secretary Scott McClellan and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

Sounds like the boys need a good fluffing. Time to call in a pro. Luckily, porn star Mary Carey is coming back to town this week for the United to Victory Dinner. Her itinerary will include lunch on Wednesday with Karl Rove and dinner with President Bush on Thursday. Don't worry, Bolten only wants to watch, oh wait, I'm thinking of John "Stache" Bolton. [ed note: Even I won't get into the perversities of Michael Bolton here] You may wonder what else Carey will be doing in town. From PM&C:

Carey, who was also a Republican candidate for governor of California, is going to Washington at the invitation of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). She will meet and interact with key Congressional leaders and Administration officials to discuss advancing powerful pro-business, pro-family agendas and meeting positive legislative goals.

Pro-family agendas? Like what? Which lube is better to go up your wife's ass with, Astroglide or Anal Ease?

Let The Madness Begin

Ah, It's time for March Madness. Makes it tough to think about anything else. In fact, it's the reason that while I created this blog on Feb. 22, 2005, I didn't really start posting anything until after the first weekend of the tournament.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Tommorrow, Sen Russ Feingold will introduce a motion to censure George Bush over the illegal wiretap program he has been running through the NSA. I'm not sure what Feingold is trying to accomplish. It's an obvious attempt to pander to the left leaning base of the Democratic party, but I feel that he is already their man for 2008. Maybe he thinks that needs some cementing, I don't know.

The whole thing seems like a waste of time to me.

John McCain

At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, John McCain impressed the Washington Post a lot more than the participants. From WAPO:

No one stole the show at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference here this weekend, but Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) demonstrated why every other prospective 2008 presidential candidate must figure out how to get around him.

More than any of his potential rivals, McCain found a way to balance embracing a weakened President Bush -- at a time when many Republicans are running away from the president -- while appealing to those in and out of his party who believe Bush and other Washington Republicans have lost their way. No other candidate could claim to offer continuity and change almost simultaneously.

For the record, Hotline sponsored a straw poll at the conference in which McCain finished fifth behind Bill Frist, Mitt Romney, George Allen, and a write in George Bush. Supposedly, McCain asked his supporters to write in Bush, but most of these write ins were not McCain supporters.

It should be noted that even if you throw out Frist's home state voters, he still won the straw poll. Although I don't think Frist has a chance in hell to win the nomination, I do implore republicans to vote for the senior robot from Tennessee. Please, please, give Frist the nomination. This guy is as stiff as they come, and as George Bush proved twice, even stupid beats stiff.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Claude Allen

Now we know why Bush's Domestic Policy Adviser Claude Allen resigned on February 9th. He had been moonlighting as a shoplifter to supplement his $161,000 White House salary. From Slate:

News today may shed light on the mystery of Allen's resignation. According to the Montgomery County Police Department, Allen was arrested yesterday and charged in a felony theft and a felony theft scheme. According to a department press release, Allen conducted approximately 25 fraudulent "refunds" in Target and Hecht's stores in Maryland. On Jan. 2, a Target employee apprehended Allen after observing him receive a refund for merchandise he had not purchased. Target then contacted the Montgomery County Police. According to a source familiar with the case, Target and the police had been observing Allen since October 2005.

He had ran this scheme to steal over $5,000 worth of merchandise. Funny, he was arrested on January 2nd, yet stayed on to collect a few more paychecks before he resigned.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Iraqi Civil War

Oh Donald Rumsfeld, how did a man so dim get so far. Yesterday, Rumsfeld and Gen John Abizaid were asked by the Senate Appropriations Committee about the prospects of an Iraqi civil war, and what we were going to do about one should it erupt. The Washington Post brings us their reply. From the Post:

"The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the . . . Iraqi security forces deal with it to the extent they're able to," Rumsfeld told the Senate Appropriations Committee when pressed to explain how the United States intended to respond should Iraq descend wholesale into internecine strife.

If civil war becomes reality, "it's very clear that the Iraqi forces will handle it, but they'll handle it with our help," Abizaid said later when asked to elaborate on Rumsfeld's remark.

Only an idiot believes that. The Iraqi security services are in no way, shape, or form able to deal with a civil war. To understand why, let's take a look at a similar situation from recent US history.

In the Spring of 1980, Fidel Castro declared the port of Mariel an open port. That Summer, 125,000 Cubans made the trip from Mariel to Miami in what came to be known as the Mariel Boatlift. The influx of refugees into an already depressed economy ultimately led to a major crime wave, so the city of Miami did what any city would do in that situation, they rapidly beefed up their police force immensely.

The problem was that everyone from major drug cartels to street gangs sent their loyalists with clean records to the police academy, which resulted in a very corrupt police force. Eventually, 10% of the force ended up jailed, fired, or disciplined; and that's just the ones they had hard evidence against.

Fast forward to Iraq. We have just done the same thing that Miami did in the early eighties. We have built up roughly 240,000 security forces in just a couple years. If we are as lucky as Miami, that means about 30,000 corrupt forces, and I doubt we're that lucky.

Thus the security forces in Iraq have loyalties that are divided between clan, religious, and business interests. Take a look at what happened the other day. Forty-seven Shia employees of a brick factory were drug from buses and executed.

A lot of people saw this as an example that a civil war was already underway. It looked to me like a plain and simple protection racket. I'm sure that the executions were carried out by some form of militia that is probably also members of the Iraqi security forces. Someone has probably already contacted the factory owner letting him know that he can fill those jobs, and also make sure nothing like this ever happens again, for a price.

That's the problem we face, there is sectarian violence taking place, but there also a lot of people using that violence as a cover for advancing their own criminal agendas and parts of the Iraqi security forces are probably taking part in both activities. That being said, how in the world are we to expect the Iraqis to deal with a civil war in any meaningful way? The realistic answer is that they can't.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dubai Deal Dead

I was wrong, the Dubai ports deal is now seemingly dead. DP World has announced that they will turn over management of US ports to an American company after Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert told Bush that they veto proof majorities in both the House and Senate.

Damn, I really wanted to see if Bush actually knows how to veto a bill.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Vanity Fair

I just read an advanced copy of the upcoming Vanity Fair interview with Jack Abramoff. There's not a lot of damning new stuff in the interview, it's really more of a man behind the mask type interview. I did get the idea from reading it that Bob Ney is definitely toast, and Conrad Burns might not be too far behind.

Vanity Fair is pretty strict with exceptions, so I won't put anything from the article up here, but if you want to read it here is a link. It's a crappy pdf and a pain to read.


Jean Schmidt has US Rep Tom Tancredo's endorsement, only she doesn't. While Schmidt's website claims Tancredo has endorsed her, he hasn't. From Openers:

''We do not customarily endorse congressional candidates and we did not endorse Congresswoman Schmidt,'' said Will Adams, who added that the Schmidt camp has been asked to pull the claim off its website.

This must be a chronic problem for Schmidt. Last year, when she won the primary for the special election which put her in the US House, one prominent Ohio republican that I know of refused to send her a letter of congratulations saying, "if I do, that lying bitch will go around saying I've endorsed her."

I kind of shrugged it off as a joke at the time, but he must of known what he was talking about.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New Logo For South Dakota

Fetus Fever. Catch it! (Or in this case, hook it)

Found via a long list of links ending here.


Newshog has a post about how the new ABC exclusive news report about IEDs coming in from Iran isn't all that exclusive, or for that matter, new. That is all true. One other thing about the report stood out to me though.

Why is the Army releasing this information to ABC at all? From ABC News:

The U.S. Army has embarked on a crash effort to find ways to stop the bombs, according to an unclassified report issued last month. The devices are easily hidden and detonated by motion detectors — like those used in garden security lights — that cannot be jammed. [emphasis mine]

Why is this report unclassified? The Pentagon tells us virtually everything is classified information and they can't tell us about it, and if anyone leaks anything, it gives aid and comfort to the enemy, no matter how obvious what we are doing is. Doesn't this report do the same thing? Doesn't this report tell them that these techniques they are using are working, not to mention that we are trying to interdict them as they come across the border?

I don't know whether or not the Iranian government is involved in this or whether insurgents have set up shop across the border for safety, but this smells like propaganda to support bombing Iran over their nuclear program to me.


I've been having a problem with blogger eating posts, but I think I have it figured out.

Monday, March 06, 2006


I've got to give it up for US Rep Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) She is not a liar. She fully disclosed a trip that has to violate House ethics rules. From Raw Story:

Holier than a golf junket, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) and her husband took an all-expenses paid trip to Santa Barbara, Calif., in January for the official business purpose of "spiritual self-reflection."

The Michigan-based Fetzer Institute, the stated mission of which is to "foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness through research and education programs," paid $1,108.70 to send Emerson and her husband, Ronald Gladney, on the two-night excursion the weekend of Jan. 20.

Emerson wrote in a recently filed travel disclosure form that the official purpose of the trip was: "A time for spiritual self-reflection and an open and honest dialogue."

What the fuck is that? How does that relate to public policy? What the hell exactly is the Fetzer Institute?

The answer to the last question is probably the most enigmatic. After scrolling through the net for information on the Fetzer Institute, I still can't figure out what exactly they do. It all sounds very cultish, but appears to span across more than a single religion. I couldn't find anything that speaks in more than general tones about love, and spirituality, and leadership.

The leadership is the creepy part of it. Lot's of writing about how to coach (convert?) others. Does anyone know who these guys are? Drop me a line.

White Powder

So, you've received a suspicious envelope with white powder in it, what do you do? Let's take a look at how the Department of Homeland Security Headquarters handled such a situation. From

For instance, when an envelope with suspicious powder was opened last fall at Homeland Security Department headquarters, guards said they watched in amazement as superiors carried it by the office of Secretary Michael Chertoff, took it outside and then shook it outside Chertoff's window without evacuating people nearby.

Nice containment. I guess I can't say too much though. Right after the Anthrax scare a few years ago, a couple of my employees opened what they deemed a suspicious package. They promptly brought the package to my desk for examination. Thanks. I asked them if they could, give me a call before toting any suspicious packages around to expose others in the future. (It turned out to be nothing)

I do have to say though, it's much, much more unlikely that I would receive a chemical or biological agent than the DHS, they should know better.

Things You'll Rarely Hear A Conservative Say

John LeBoutillier of Newsmax, a conservative online news magazine, was on an early morning talk radio show here in Columbus, Ohio this morning and said some things that I was shocked to hear a conservative say.

First of all, I would like to say that I'm paraphrasing here, so I apologize for any inaccuracies, but I doubt I'll be able to ever find a transcript.

When asked about the Army's investigation into the death of Pat Tillman, Leboutiller responded that the Army brass can't really be trusted, saying they simply lie all the time, though he said that not all of them are liars. He then went on to say that you can't have the similarity in the episodes of torture in Abu Graib, Gitmo, and Afghanistan without the knowledge of higher ups in the military, that it couldn't be limited to low level Army personnel.

There's something you will rarely hear from a conservative.

The Oscars

It sure seemed to me like last night's Academy Awards were somewhat of a neutered event. I'd probably chalk up the soft approach to the fact that there were so many first time nominees and winners. Outside of the Three 6 Mafia, I don't think I've seen a duller awards show for a while, although I did think Jon Stewart was funny, if uneven.

Speaking of the Three 6 Mafia, why did the Academy ask them to change bitches to witches, then allow them to use the word shit? ABC didn't even censor it. Odd.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Duke Cunningham

I just saw on The History Channel a profile of a dogfight that Duke Cunningham participated in during the Vietnam War. Very impressive, a true American hero. Too bad it led him to a life of crime.

Prosecuting The Media

There's a lot of scary stuff in today's Washington Post article about the Bush administration's attempt to stop leaks from emanating from the government. Let's start with this paragraph from the Washington Post:

The Justice Department also argued in a court filing last month that reporters can be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act for receiving and publishing classified information. The brief was filed in support of a case against two pro-Israeli lobbyists, who are the first nongovernment officials to be prosecuted for receiving and distributing classified information.

That's going overboard, but as noted in the article "A 1950 amendment aimed at Soviet spying broadened the law, forbidding an unauthorized recipient of the information to pass it on, or even to keep it to himself." That amendment is what I'm thinking the DOJ would consider using against journalists. But would they do it? Consider this statement by NY Times editor Bill Keller:

"There's a tone of gleeful relish in the way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries, their appetite for withholding information, and the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors," said New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, in a statement responding to questions from The Washington Post. "I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values it professes to be promoting abroad."

I have no doubt that the administration is salivating over the idea of sending what they consider a dissident journalist to a stay in the federal pen. Of course, when another country does something like this, they are imperiling democracy, but this administration is obsessed with consolidation of power and shining light on all of their screw ups diminishes their ability to do so.

If they start actually prosecuting journalists, do you trust them enough not to selectively leak classified information of nominal importance to those in the media that they don't approve of, only to prosecute them for receiving the information? I don't.

The bottom line is that I see this possibility as a better than fifty percent chance of happening.


One thing jumped out at me in the Washington Post article about the investigation into Pat Tillman's death From the Washington Post:

Since the U.S. invasion, 215 American troops have died in Afghanistan and in adjacent Pakistan and Uzbekistan, 133 of whom were killed in action, according to Pentagon figures updated Friday.

Pakistan? We've suffered fatalities in Pakistan? Uzbekistan is understandable, we have had bases there and accidents happen. But this statement means we have been operating on the ground in Pakistan and have suffered casualties there. I don't think I've seen anyone mention that before.

Friday, March 03, 2006

One Dollar

While I was out, the Duke got 100 months in prison, or as we say in the biz, a buck even, that's appropriate.

Funny Quote

Political lightweight Tim Grendell actually called for Betty Montgomery to drop out of the Attorney General race for the sake of "party unity." Grendell, who some of my friends from across the aisle call easily the worst dressed and possibly the dumbest member of the Ohio Senate, has got to be joking. He's probably going to lose the primary 80-20.

Put Out To Pasture

The National Religious Broadcasters recently had elections for their board of directors. Pat Robertson failed to win re-election despite the fact that there were only 36 candidates running for 33 seats. From the Washington Post:

[NRB President Frank] Wright said the elections usually hinge on the relative strength of radio, television and Internet broadcasters, so Robertson might have lost simply because he is a TV guy. But Wright acknowledged that there also was dissatisfaction with Robertson's recent call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his assertion that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was God's punishment for the ceding of land to the Palestinians.

It looks like the association now sees Robertson as a burner, not an earner. Can't have coo coo bird Pat out there chasing away all those little old ladies with generous purses.

Speaking of those purses, the NRB also is planning a vigorous lobbying campaign against one of their viewer's casus belli, ala carte cable. The NRB fears that if you can pick your cable channels, you won't be picking them. They're right.

Post Fighter Pilot Traumatic Congressional Extortion Syndrome

One of the pieces of mitigating evidence turned into U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns for the sentencing of Duke Cunningham is a report by a Beverly Hills psychiatrist. From the San Diego Union Tribune:

There's a report from a Beverly Hills psychiatrist theorizing how the mental toughness and agility that made Cunningham a fighter ace might have instilled a false sense of entitlement and invulnerability that betrayed him in the end.

Well, I didn't know that Cunningham suffered from PFPTCES. It's amazing he only took $2.4 million.

Sentencing starts at 1pm Pacific time. I look for Cunningham to get the full ten years, but doubt he will serve it all.