Friday, September 29, 2006

The Jack Pack: White House Edition

Today we learn that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff had 485 contacts with White House officials over a three year period, at least that is what Abramoff's billings suggest. That is an average of over three per week. Whether or not all of these took place, and I doubt they did, one thing is clear. Ken Mehlman appears to have been Abramoff's fixer at the White House. From TPM Muckraker:

In 2001, he [Mehlman] made sure a State Department official wasn't re-nominated for his post -- the official, Allen Stayman was a long-time foe of Abramoff's.

And according to a report from the Justice Department's Inspector General, Mehlman ordered one of his subordinates at the White House to keep Abramoff updated on issues related to Guam; Abramoff was keen to see the U.S. Attorney there replaced.

TPM Muckraker also notes the $16 million he freed up at the DOJ for the Chocktaw tribe that is referenced in today's Washington Post which clearly looks like criminal activity. What is unclear at this point is whether or not Mehlman performed these activities on behalf of party loyalty or if Abramoff had some dirt on Mehlman, perhaps something Mehlman would prefer to be locked up in some far away closet.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Torture Bill

I really haven't written about my feelings on the latest detainee treatment bill because I don't have any strong feelings about it. It's pretty irrelevant in my opinion, because even if our side got to write the bill in its entirety it wouldn't matter.

Am I the only person on the face of the planet who remembers the 700+ signing statements that George Bush has issued while he has been in office. Let me state this very simply. This bill will in no way change the way George Bush acts with regards to habeas corpus, interrogation techniques, or anything else. The only thing that Bush cares about in this bill is the get out of jail free card it gives him for past transgressions.

The only thing that can stop Bush from breaking the law is for Democrats to retake Congress. If the republicans retain Congress, it's back to business as usual for Bush. If we win Congress, Bush will have to abide by the law. That's it in a nutshell.

All the passionate pleas for Democrats to stand up against this bill are a waste of time. that effort would be better focused on winning in November, because without winning all the debate in the world is worthless. The Decider will decide, and the rubberstamps will lie down again.

Woof, Woof

This is what happens when you elect a petulant fucking child to be the ruler of the free world. From CBS News:

President Bush is absolutely certain that he has the U.S. and Iraq on the right course, says Woodward. So certain is the president on this matter, Woodward says, that when Mr. Bush had key Republicans to the White House to discuss Iraq, he told them, "I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me."
What's that Barney, Bomb Iran!! Well, if you say so, Le Dauphin shall make it so.


As far as the execution of the Iraq War goes, this paragraph from the Washington Post sums up the war as a whole pretty well. From the Post:

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country's security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed "the rain forest."
John Boehner said yesterday on Hardball that Congress was providing good oversight in the Iraq War and that several members had been to Iraq to personally oversee that things are going well and claimed they were. Perhaps on future trips we should house Boehner in the shit drip room though I doubt he would be able to see the trees for "the rain forest."

Bringing Freedom To The World

I'd totally forgotten this, but last year on 9/11 the Pentagon sponsored the The First Annual National Donald H. Rumsfeld Celebratory Commemorative Fluff The Fuck-Up Memorial Remembrance Parade And Dedicatory Jamboree Observance to show the world how committed we are to bringing freedom to the world.

We didn't have one this year. I guess that was what we call a short term commitment.

John Boehner, Idiot

On Hardball with Chris Matthews yesterday, John Boehner was on to spew out many idiocies like Saddam was tied to 9/11 and al-Queda, but one in particular caught my ear. In defending the decision to invade Iraq, Boehner made the claim that Saddam Hussein "supported the training camps in North-East Iraq." He actually made this claim twice. Wrong.

Oh so wrong. The training camps Boehner was referring to fell under the no-fly zone in the autonomous Kurdish region. If Hussein would have tried to attack them either by land or ground, we would have attacked the Iraqi forces trying to do so. Those are the facts. In reality, we should have taken out these training camps before the Iraq war. We didn't, and a lot of the guys from those camps now don't have to hide up in the mountains anymore. They are fully integrated into the insurgency. You might recall one of the names of these guys reportedly training in these camps, Abu Masab al-Zarqawi. Yep, we could have killed him before the war, but for some unknown reason we failed to do so. That cost thousands of Iraqis and a number of coalition troops their lives.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Ever hear some spokesman for a congressman lie to you and ask yourself, "I wonder how much that asshole gets paid to lie to me?" Now you can know thanks to Legistorm which now has every Capital Hill staffer's salary online. It has been public record for some time, but now it is online in a search-able database. Still bored? I'm guessing probably.


Imagine, if you will that Blogger would actually put in the paragraph breaks I inserted into the previous post, just imagine. Fucking Blogger.

Bad Headline For Joe

You see, when Joe says "we" must get tougher with the Iraqi government, he means the collective "we," the royal "we" if you will. So, when Joe met with the Iraqi president the next day, he didn't feel the need to get tough with him because Joe never said "I" need to get tough with the Iraqi government. No, Joe is expecting those governmental types who actually show up for votes on issues related to Iraq to do the "getting tough." Joe isn't one of those guys.
It's always that way with Joe. He provides the we could of, should of, would of and expects his colleagues to do the heavy lifting. Actually, on all issues Iraq, Joe sounds more like a pundit, or blogger, or opinion writer than a US Senator. Come November, let's make that so.

Harold Meyerson

Ooh, Harold Meyerson gets shrill and kicks the living shit out of David Broder's recent centrist themes. Go read it here, it pretty much covers why voters should vote against such "moderates" as Mike DeWine, Lincoln Chafee, and Olympia Snowe.

Condi Is Really Letting Herself Go

She is looking awfully manish in this photo from the Boston Globe.
Found via AmericaBlog

Iraq And The NIE

Yesterday, President Bush declassified the April National Intelligence Estimate that everyone has been talking about since portions of it were leaked to the New York Times and the Washington Post over the weekend. For some strange reason, Bush thinks this estimate shows what a good job he is doing on the war on terror, it does not. From the Washington Post:

The overall estimate is bleak, with minor notes of optimism. It depicts a movement that is likely to grow more quickly than the West's ability to counter it over the next five years, as the Iraq war continues to breed "deep resentment" throughout the Muslim world, shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and cultivating new supporters for their ideology.

In describing Iraq as "the 'cause celebre' for jihadists," the document judges that real and perceived insurgent successes there will "inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere," while losses would have the opposite effect. It predicts that the elimination of al-Qaeda leaders, particularly Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed after the estimate was completed in April, would probably leave that organization splintered into disparate groups that "for at least a time, pose a less serious threat to U.S. interests" than the current al-Qaeda structure.

On the relative bright side, the assessment notes the unpopularity with "the vast majority of Muslims" of the jihadists' brutal tactics and ultraconservative ideology. Democratic reforms and peaceful political alternatives in Muslim countries will also counter terrorist aims, it says.

But "the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this estimate," the report notes. An intelligence official who was not authorized to speak on the record said the time frame is until early 2011.[emphasis mine]

The biggest underlying factor fueling the spread of the movement is Iraq, period. If Bush had not chosen to embark on his fool's folly there, the War On Terror would pretty much be over as we currently know it. Sure, there would still be those out there who want to do us harm, but they would be disperse and isolated. They would be easy to pick off.

Now, through the great hatred that the Iraq war has brought us, global jihadists have a better social infrastructure in the Muslim world to support them. And at what cost to us? $300 billion tossed down the drain, almost as many US servicemen KIA as citizens we lost in the 9/11 attacks, and a state of military readiness that has left us with only 7,000-10,000 fully equipped reserves. It's hardly what I would call a good job.

Anyone wonder why Iran has become emboldened in their pursuit for nuclear power and possibly weapons?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Light Blogging Today

Real world commitments kept me away from the keyboard all day yesterday, and likely will most of the day today.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


When a poll comes out that shows your candidate is losing, you have two choices with the press. You can duck and run, or attempt to discredit the poll for whatever reason you can come up with. This attempt by the Blackwell campaign may be the lamest ever. From the Dispatch:

The campaign of GOP gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell discounted the poll results because the first name of his running mate was mistakenly listed on the poll ballots as Charles Raga; it is Tom Raga.

Yea, without Tom Raga, who has a name ID of about 10%, this is surely a screwed up poll.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Desperation Brings Out Strange Tactics

Talk about a mixed message. Michael Steele in the Maryland Senate race is now putting up these signs in urban neighborhoods to attempt to fool voters into thinking he is a Democrat. It's a pretty good idea actually. What isn't a good idea is to right before you unleash these signs is to flood urban radio stations with an ad that claims Democrats started the KKK, which Steele also did. Does this mean Steele is in the Klan?

Sweaty Betty

Betty Montgomery has a new ad up talking about what she will do about sexual predators if she is elected. Actually it seems to be a theme this year, the very next ad I saw for David Goodman told the same story. Well, I have a question for Montgomery. Aren't these new initiatives you are pushing exactly the thing you should have been doing the last time you were Attorney General? Look, it has only been four years since you last held the job. It's not like there weren't any online predators before 2002.

What is really going on with these ads is fear mongering. It's a combination of the missing white girl syndrome and playing off of recent Dateline episodes where they play gotcha with those who seek to do harm to children. Wile it's true that we of course should do everything we can to catch these people, there is only one candidate in this race who has previously held this job and didn't implement these new initiatives you are talking about and it is you Betty.

The Big Bad Bush

Bush huffed and he puffed and he blew John McCain's house down, but the Ladybug had already gone to croon to the press about the great compromise that Lindsey Graham, John Warner, and himself had crafted over the Geneva Conventions. The compromise is simply that the Senate is not going to reinterpret the Conventions, nor is it going to provide any oversight as to what Bush does with them. Some compromise. From the New York Times:

The deal does next to nothing to stop the president from reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions. While the White House agreed to a list of “grave breaches” of the conventions that could be prosecuted as war crimes, it stipulated that the president could decide on his own what actions might be a lesser breach of the Geneva Conventions and what interrogation techniques he considered permissible. It’s not clear how much the public will ultimately learn about those decisions. They will be contained in an executive order that is supposed to be made public, but Mr. Hadley reiterated that specific interrogation techniques will remain secret.

So much for the new "Centrist" party David Broder spoke of in his last column. The only people in this government that have the balls to stand up to this president all have a D behind their name, Lieberman excepted of course.

As for the Ladybug, he probably still thinks the Bush cash machine is going to thrust him to the presidency in 2008. I'd love to be there to see the look on his face when they put the knife in his back, again.

Talk About A Dumb Ad

I haven't seen the ad, but Rick Santorum's campaign has apparently ran the dumbest ad in the history of politics. From the NY Times:

Santorum aired a spot featuring actors supposedly portraying four big donors to Casey's campaign meeting in a smoke-filled jail cell. The senator's campaign later conceded that none of the men had given money to Casey's Senate campaign and that two had contributed to Santorum's campaign, which donated the money to nonprofit groups.

It's probably not a good idea to run an ad that ends up highlighting your own connection to maleficent characters. I'm not sure how the ad came to be, but I certainly have a guess. Did you know that the Senate still does not file their campaign finance reports electronically? They actually still turn in paper reports. Those reports then have to be manually entered into electronic form at great cost to taxpayers, and it takes weeks to do.

The article cited above also lists a couple of polls for the Santorum / Casey match up. The Keystone poll shows Casey leading 45-38 with the Green candidate getting 5%. An IssuesPA/Pew poll showed Casey leading 47-28. Both polls were of registered voters, not likely voters which probably accounts for the difference in the level of Santorum's support. Regardless, an incumbent not even polling in the forties at this late date almost always ends up looking for a new job.

New Polling

Survey USA has some new polling out that shows Ted Strickland leading Ken Blackwell 56-35 among likely voters. Strickland is over 50% in every demographic save two. Strickland only gets the support of 29% of conservatives, which is to be expected, but Strickland only gets 20% of the support of those who classify their race as other. While it shouldn't matter in this race, the Democrats should pay attention to this. The 2000 census shows that those who classify their race as other actually outnumber Hispanics. It is an untapped pool of voters that we should be courting.

The other good news from this poll is that again Sherrod Brown is over 50% leading Mike DeWine 52-42 and that for the first time that I have seen, Brown finally has a lead over DeWine among men 48-47, although that is well within the margin of error. Brown is crushing DeWine among women voters 55-36.

Women are going to propel us in this election. Strickland's lead among women in this survey is a whopping 28% (58-30). Make sure you tell every woman you know to vote.

Update: I see that SUSA also polled the OH-02 race and that the good Dr. Victoria Wuslin is within the margin of error (45-42) of Jean Schmidt on very hard turf for Democrats to win on.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yesterday's Debate

The Dispatch article on yesterday's gubernatorial debate here in Ohio opens with a great line. From the Dispatch:

Outside, two people wearing chicken outfits were arrested. Inside, two candidates for governor chickened out on a school-funding solution.

I agree, it's un-mother-clucking believable, but there is one fundamental truth to be known. The republicans have been running this state ever since the Ohio Supreme Court mandated that the problem be fixed. They haven't lifted a finger to do so, so their argument is a moot one.

And as for Ken Blackwell's 65% solution / fiasco, consider this, on Tuesday at Burroughs Elementary school on the west side of Columbus two young girls were attacked by a sexual predator. The school immediately hired security guards to patrol the school grounds. Under Blackwell's proposal this would not have been possible, at least not without getting rid of some other out of the classroom spending. Think about it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Ohio Poll

The Ohio Poll has released their first poll of likely voters in Ohio and there is some good news for Democrats in it, and also a potential problem for us as well. First, the good news. Ted Strickland leads Ken Blackwell by 12 points, 50-38. Sherrod Brown leads Mike DeWine by 4 points 51-47.

Now, it is my opinion that the Ohio Poll skews a little bit farther to the right than most polling so for both of our candidates in these races to be over fifty percent is definitely a good thing. However, there is some danger lurking in the cross tabs.

The first potential problem is for down ticket Democrats running for office this year. A lot of them are going to need some good coat tails from a potential gubernatorial blowout. Strickland has a comfortable lead in most age groups, but in the 18-29 age group he holds a commanding lead of 66-28. That is great if the youth vote shows up on election day, but even among likely voters they are the ones most likely not to show up.

They are also some of the easiest ones to disenfranchise with voter ID requirements. They are at this point in their lives still fairly transient in nature, and very few update their drivers licences every time they move. They also tend to live in groups and some of them may not have a bill at their house in their name, or if they live in the dorms and their parents pay their bills then they also may fail to meet ID requirements. The various campus Democratic parties should be starting massive voter education drives informing voters what they will need to vote.

The second concern is for Sherrod Brown. It appears that for him to defeat Mike DeWine women are going to have to show up at the polls. His lead is based almost solely on his lead among women and they are, again, one of the groups most likely not to show up on election day. What to do about this, I'm just not sure.


I saw a local ad today ran against Ted Celeste, who is running for the Ohio House in the 24th district. The premise? That his brother Dick Celeste raised taxes twenty some years ago. Attack ads that link candidates to people who have been out of public service for over twenty years, in this case twenty-five years, are about the dumbest thing you can run. Joe Lieberman found this out earlier this year with his pathetic ad linking Ned Lamont to Lowell Weicker.

Those ads were widely panned as ineffective and these ads will be too. I myself was not even old enough to vote for Celeste in his last term, and I'm thirty-seven years old! I'd like to wish Geoff Smith good luck in his continued effort to bring out the dead vote. Please keep running these ads.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Freedom On The March

Ah the magic touch of George Bush. Today he gave another one of those "freedom is on the march" speeches, this time at the UN. From

President Bush challenged world leaders to do more to build democracy in the Middle East in an address at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday.

Bush used a noontime speech to the General Assembly to ask U.N. members for help in fighting extremism in the Middle East.

"From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom," Bush told the General Assembly.
It's a shame that choice doesn't extend all the way to the relatively stable country of Thailand, where a military coup is now occurring. Just saying, might have mentioned it.


I heard on NPR this morning that a new Q-Poll buts Ted Strickland ahead of Ken Blackwell by a margin of 55-34 among likely voters, sorry no link yet. It doesn't look like the Taxing Ted thing is taking hold. Bye Ken.

Economy A Bye Bye: The Last Bubble

Today, Bloomberg reports on the slipping shape of the housing market. From Bloomberg:

Housing construction in the U.S. declined more than forecast last month to the lowest level in three years as waning demand left builders with a growing number of unsold homes.
The 6 percent decrease in housing starts to an annual rate of 1.665 million followed a 1.772 million pace in July, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Building permits dropped for a seventh straight month to the lowest level in four years and a sign home construction will keep slowing.

The battered U.S. housing market poses a risk of a larger slowdown in the economy and reinforces economist forecasts that Federal Reserve policy makers tomorrow will keep interest rates unchanged for a second month. Producer prices rose less than forecast last month, suggesting inflation is cooling along with economic growth, a Labor Department report showed today.

``There's no doubt the housing market is declining and we expect it to continue to decline through most of 2007,'' said Phillip Neuhart, an economist at Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte, North Carolina. ``Combined with the PPI data, it really sits with the Fed-on-hold scenario.''

This is indeed very bad news, and yes I agree with Atrios that the biggest losers will not be home owners, but those who will lose their jobs in new home construction, although some of that slack could possibly be picked up with jobs in renovation. The really sad thing is that here in Ohio, a lot of these jobs are filled by people formerly employed in the manufacturing sector. They are going to get screwed again by the Bush administration's economic policies.

They also owe a lot of the state of the home building market to Alan Greenspan, who, to get Bush through the 2004 election kept interest rates artificially low to keep a fundamentally unsound economy going. These low interest rates caused overbuilding, and helped Americans pile on way more debt than they ever should have. Time to pay the piper.

New Reality Show

Since president Bush claims that the interrogation techniques he wants to codify with legislation pending in the Senate's Armed Services Committee are not torture, perhaps we can show the world that they aren't in the form that America loves most, the reality show.

Not only could we show the world that these techniques are safe, but that we are not afraid to have the same techniques used against our soldiers. Furthermore, I think it would be a real boost to morale among our troops if the Commander in Chief was the star of the show himself.

Think about it, would our soldiers fear waterboarding if they had already seen the CIC show them that it isn't much to worry about? And talk about upping that tough guy image in the world for Bush as he stumbles out of a forty hour stint in a cold room. Sure he would be disoriented as he emerged, but would anyone really be able to discern any difference from his normal appearance?

I'm thinking of a working title of Not Torturing The Prez. Prez spelled with a z to appeal to that hip 21-35 demographic. I think the z gives it some more zazz, if zazz really is a word (Spellcheck tells me it isn't, but spellcheck isn't written by Hollywood TV executives, so what do they know). Naturally, this program would have to appear on Fox, perhaps they could bring back Man vs Beast as a lead in.

To be honest, if we really want to show the world how tough we are, I think we would be crazy not to not torture the president. Can't do it with Cheney however, that old bastard would surely have a heart attack.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Throughout this campaign season, Joe Lieberman has touted how "serious" he is on foreign policy and the Iraq War. To truly be considered "serious" I think you have to actually have a position, which he now doesn't. From the Journal Inquirer:

Well, a few days ago, our incumbent junior senator, Joe Lieberman, a former candidate for president and vice president of the United States, told reporters that he needed a few more days to formulate, and properly articulate, his position on the war in Iraq. He wouldn't be talking about it with them until then.

Say what?

This man has been in the U.S. Senate for 18 years and he doesn't know what he thinks, or how to express what he thinks, on the war in Iraq?

Like a kid who is flunking an exam because he doesn't know what to write, Lieberman said he needed "more time." He's had 20 years in politics, but give him another week.

Joe, are you serious?

Republicans Are Terrible At National Security

This is just pathetic. Remember after the Anthrax attacks in 2001 when the republicans were going to buy enough vaccine to protect us. It still hasn't happened. From the NY Times:

The result was Project BioShield, a $5.6 billion effort to exploit the country’s top medical and scientific brains and fill an emergency medical cabinet with new drugs and vaccines for a host of threats. “We will rally the great promise of American science and innovation to confront the greatest danger of our time,” President Bush said in starting the program.

But the project, critics say, has largely failed to deliver.

So far, only a small fraction of the anticipated remedies are available. Drug companies have waited months, if not years, for government agencies to decide which treatments they want and in what quantities. Unable to attract large pharmaceutical corporations to join the endeavor, the government is instead relying on small start-up companies that often have no proven track record.

The troubles have been most acute with the highest priority of all: a $900 million push to add a new anthrax vaccine to the stockpile. What had begun as an effort to test and manufacture a safer, faster-acting vaccine has turned into an ugly battle between two biotech businesses.

Let me get this straight, after a biological attack on this country Big Pharma decided to take a pass because there isn't enough money in it, and for putting the knife in the back of the American people, the republicans turned around and still let them write the Medicare Part D legislation. The republicans had all of the leverage in the world to get Big Pharma on board and they simply didn't use it. That is just plain dumb.

As for the ugly battle between the two companies involved in making the vaccine, both have hired high profile lobbyists and you know what happens when you mix republicans and lobbyists. You get a big ole mug of fucked up.

Coming Soon To A Location Near You: $10 A Gallon Gas

This little snippet from Time magazine courtesy of Talking Points Memo doesn't make me very confident in the upcoming months. From TPM:

The first message was routine enough: A "Prepare to Deploy" order sent through naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters. The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said to be ready to move by Oct. 1. But inside the Navy those messages generated more buzz than usual last week when a second request, from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), asked for fresh eyes on long-standing U.S. plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf. The CNO had asked for a rundown on how a blockade of those strategic targets might work. When he didn't like the analysis he received, he ordered his troops to work the lash up once again.

What's going on? The two orders offered tantalizing clues. There are only a few places in the world where minesweepers top the list of U.S. naval requirements. And every sailor, petroleum engineer and hedge-fund manager knows the name of the most important: the Strait of Hormuz, the 20-mile-wide bottleneck in the Persian Gulf through which roughly 40% of the world's oil needs to pass each day. Coupled with the CNO's request for a blockade review, a deployment of minesweepers to the west coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed—but until now largely theoretical—prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.

While the Strait of Hormuz does bottleneck down to actually 21 miles, the important thing to remember is that it only contains two shipping lanes that are about a mile wide each and it is very unlikely we would be able to keep it open. In case you have forgotten, earlier this year Iran tested a new torpedo which can be launched from the land and if they want to close the strait they will.

Also, since the article mentions that we would blockade Iran's oil distribution, you are talking about taking 45% of the world's oil off the market. If Hugo Chavez decides he won't sell oil to the US as a show of support to Iran, that figure could be pushed as high as 47%. The bottom line is that this would wreck the world's economy, not to mention leave us with even fewer friends in the world than we currently have, which isn't many.

Hopefully, this is just saber rattling by the administration, but never underestimate their ability to do stupid things.

Dirty Ney Money

So, which member of Congress benefited the most from the campaign cash Bob Ney threw around? It's none other than local boy Pat Tiberi. Tiberi's campaigns have netted a whopping $25,857 from Ney. I wonder if Tiberi is going to give the money back.

Other Ohioans that took money from Ney include Steve LaTourette ($13,250), Ralph Regula ($5,000), and Mike Turner ($1,000) The Ohio GOP also got $45,000.

All of this money has the taint of Jack Abramoff on it and all of it should be returned. GOP candidates this cycle have had to write an awful lot of checks, haven't they?

Losing It

The DLC has had their tax exempt status revoked by the IRS. I disagree with the DLC more than I agree with them, but I still think this is utter nonsense. From Corrente:

In a previously unreported action, the Internal Revenue Service has revoked the DLC’s tax exemption on the grounds that it primarily benefited a private group—Democrats, and particularly “New Democrats” running for or holding office—rather than the community at large. The DLC has sued in federal court to overturn the decision;


The DLC isn’t a 501(c)(3) charity like the United Way. It won exemption in 1986 under section 501(c)(4) of the code, covering civic and social welfare groups. Contributions to civic groups aren’t deductible. But 501(c)(4)s are allowed to lobby more than charities and to even get involved in partisan politics. The National Rifle Association,, Planned Parenthood and the National Right to Life Committee are all 501(c)(4)s.

What’s the practical value of a (c)(4) designation if it doesn’t generate writeoffs for its donors? A (c)(4) isn’t taxed as a for-profit business would be and doesn’t have to disclose its donors, as a political action committee does.

A lot of my fellow liberal bloggers are expressing glee over this development. They shouldn't. If we want to be the big tent party, you actually have to be willing to let others into the tent that do not always agree with you.

As for this ruling, there are a hell of a lot of "issue" group whose main beneficiaries are mostly politicians. I wander why the IRS decided to go after one of our "issue" groups, and not say Rod Parsley group which I know has a complaint filed against it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Special Luncheon At Tumbleweeds

Yesterday, I went to a working lunch at Tumbleweeds. Yea, I know, it sucks. But yesterday wasn't any ordinary lunch, it was one where dreams are made. You see, the gentleman at the table to right of me had decided that on a Thursday at lunch in a Tumbleweeds was indeed the right time and place to propose marriage to his girlfriend.

Now keep in mind, I've only seen a few marriage proposals in person, luckily none of them mine, but this one seemed to sport a lot more fist pumping than the others including one solid "five pump."

Since I've already told you about the fist pumping, as you can guess, the bride to be accepted the proposal which apparently wasn't spontaneous as the staff had been tipped off and the happy, happy, clappy singers approached the table even before she said yes.

Magic in the air.


In the next couple of weeks, I will be previewing a lot of races including all the Senate races, our state wides, some locals of note, and the issues and amendments on Ohio's ballot this fall. As is my way, the order will be without rhyme or reason. For today's kickoff I will be previewing not one, but two Senate races.

Hillary Clinton vs Some Guy, NY Senate
Slammest. Dunk. Ever.
Bill Nelson vs Katherine Harris, FL Senate
See Hillary Clinton vs Some Guy
Other races that are actually races will require a little more than that, but those two don't.


Over at MyDD, Chris Bowers has posted a picture of Joe Lieberman's car parked in a handicapped spot.

Headless Chicken

Want more proof that the entire republican campaign machine is a train wreck. I received this blast fax today a little after 1:00 pm telling me I should vote in yesterday's OH-18 primary. If only they would have sent along the schematics to build a time machine.

One Of The Charges Ney Copped To

From TPM Muckraker:

In his plea agreement, Ney also admitted to charges that he had accepted thousands of dollars worth of gambling chips from a foreign businessman. According to the documents filed today in court, in February 2003 and again in August 2003, Ney made two trips to London, during each of which he and members of his staff met with a foreign businessman who was hoping to sell U.S.-made airplanes and airplane parts in a foreign country. Ney agreed to help the businessman with obtaining an exemption to the U.S. laws prohibiting the sale of these goods to the foreign country, and Ney also agreed to help the businessman obtain a visa to travel to the United States. On February 21 and 22 and again on August 29, Ney and the staff members accompanying him each received thousands of dollars worth of gambling chips from the businessman for use at private casinos in London. As a result, Ney eventually pocketed more than $50,000. Ney admitted that he never returned any of the free chips to the businessman and never shared with the businessman any of the money he had won as a result of the free chips.

Obviously this is the one I care about since I figured out the scheme over a year ago. I'm feeling pretty damn smug today, I must say. The only question is whether that foreign businessman was Nigel Winfield or Fouad al-Zayat.

Bye Bob

Bob Ney is going to plead guilty for his part in the Abramoff scandal, but this caught my eye in this mornings Dispatch:

Another person familiar with the department’s investigation said that at least one of the criminal charges in Ney’s guilty plea would involve the accuracy of his contention in a House financial-disclosure statement that he won $34,000 in a London casino in 2003.

The winnings also had been under scrutiny by the Justice Department in part because the amount coincided to a surprising degree with the amount of debt on Ney’s credit cards. Ney’s host on that trip was a Cyprus-based aviation firm that was seeking congressional support for sales of airplane parts to Iran.

For more on this read what I wrote last year here, here, here, and here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Desperation: Smell It

The day after a group of prominent republicans announced they would endorse Ted Strickland, the GOP issued the most pathetic press release I have ever seen entitled "Slop & Sour Grapes." Dumb title, Dumb content. From Openers:

A day after blaming the media for keeping alive interest in convicted Republican kingmaker Tom Noe, who once was a darling of GOP fundraising, the Republican party now points out that Saxbe was once Noe's attorney on the case.

"That's right. Rocky Saxbe was hired to defend Mr. Corruption himself, the infamous coin dealer, Tom Noe," read the statement from state party spokesman John McClelland.

Also, Saxbe and his partners were paid $265 million for winning a $10.1 billion settlement for
Ohio in a multi-state lawsuit against tobacco companies.

Damn, did I miss the announcement that the party whose candidate won't release his tax returns now thinks that Ohio citizens should eschew making money? Even at the low rate Saxbe charged the state? I mean, is a lawyer charging his client 2-1/2% anything to get excited about? And sure, Saxbe defended Tom Noe for a time, but that is what lawyers do. If a lawyer defends a murderer, does that mean he believes murder is okay? Of course not.

More from Openers:

Saxbe is also the personal attorney for televangelist Rod Parsley, a major backer of Blackwell's policies. Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo said it was disingenuous for Saxbe to condemn Blackwell's social views and represent one of his biggest supporters.

This is fantastic. One of the things you should never do in a press release is say something that can be thrown right back in your candidates face. Thank you Carlo!!

So, if you would say that is disingenuous for Saxbe to condemn Blackwell while representing Parsley, would you also say that it is disingenuous for Blackwell to condemn abortion while investing in the company that makes Plan B? Or how about condemning gambling while investing in the manufacturer of slot machines? Seems pretty disingenuous to me!!

What you're seeing here is a tale of two very different politicians. Strickland is a man that can reach across party lines to unite Ohioans to serve the common good while Blackwell is divisive and pretty as he pushes for the good of few, against the needs of many.

Missed Opportunity

The US missed an opportunity to take out about 200 Taliban soldiers including a few high value targets in July because they were holding a funeral and were on the grounds of a cemetery. From The Seattle Times:

The decision came to light after an NBC News correspondent's blog carried a photograph of the insurgents. Defense Department officials first tried to block further publication of the photo, then struggled to explain what it depicted.

NBC News said U.S. Army officers wanted to attack the ceremony with missiles carried by an unmanned Predator drone but were prevented under rules of battlefield engagement that bar attacks on cemeteries.

Wednesday, the U.S. military in Afghanistan said the picture — taken in July — was given to a journalist to show that Taliban insurgents were congregating in large groups. The statement said U.S. forces considered attacking.

"During the observation of the group over a significant period of time, it was determined that the group was located on the grounds of [the] cemetery and were likely conducting a funeral for Taliban insurgents killed in a coalition operation nearby earlier in the day," the statement said. "A decision was made not to strike this group of insurgents at that specific location and time."

Whether or not this is the correct policy, I'm not sure. It seems we could of at least hit them after they left. But that aside, am I the only one who remembers the pitched battle we fought against the forces of Muqtada al-Sadr in Naraf? It took place in the largest cemetery in the world. Is it now the official policy of the Pentagon to make shit up as they go along? Oh yea, I forgot, it's call Rumsfeldian warfare.

RIP Ann Richards

Ann Richards has died at age 73. I always had great respect for her. I once heard her tell a funny story about her drinking. She had gone to the doctor concerned about alcoholism. She told him that she was drinking as many as six cocktails (if memory serves me actually martinis, but I'm not sure) a night. The doctor replied, "Hell, I drink more than that."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Greatless Generation

Not long after Bush took office, I was having a conversation with my father. I told him in no uncertain terms that my grandparents generation had built some of the greatest social mechanisms the world had ever seen, but his generation had spent their whole lives trying to fuck it up.

Think about it. The worst of the sixties, baby boomers. The drug induced seventies, same people, just a little older. The "Me" generation of the eighties, same people, just a little older. The CEO generation in the nineties of now Enron and others fame are the same fucking people just a little older. And now these dickless people are running the country telling us we should absolutely be terrified because this is the greatest test they have ever had to face. By the way, we'll also never forgive you for that horrible urban cowboy phase either.

Anyway, I was never able to put the pieces together as to why. Digby puts it all in perspective with this post. Go read it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Number Of Troops Needed

Michael Ware and Miles O'Brien had this conversation earlier today on CNN.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, Michael, you have talked to the people on the ground there. I'm sure they probably don't say it for the record, but how many troops do they think need in order to get a hold of this problem?

WARE: Well, officially, from Baghdad to Ramadi, the response you will get from American commanders is that we have an appropriate level of force to do what we have to do within the confines of our mission. However, the key term that all of them use is "economy of force."

They say that we are applying an economy of force mission. That in itself is an admission that they don't have the full number of troops that they need to do what actually has to be done.

Privately, off line, what commanders, again, from Baghdad to Ramadi, will tell you is that they need at least three times as many troops as they currently have there now, be that Iraqi and American or, even better, just three times as many as American troops. I mean, there's an area there north of the Euphrates River that is used by al Qaeda's top leadership that Osama bin Laden himself points to. It's the size of New Hampshire.

You have only a few hundred American troops there. They can do nothing to hamper al Qaeda's leadership in that area -- Miles.

I wonder if these are the numbers Kristol and Lowry were talking about in today's Post. I sincerely doubt it, and the American people would absolutely freak out if they were told we needed to add 280,000 more troops which we can't do realistically anyway unless we want to send them out there with broomsticks to ride around in unarmored jeeps. And to be honest, while that might have been enough to keep the genie in the bottle, I think you might need even more than that to put it back in, say another 400,000 over current troop levels.

Doesn't matter, isn't going to happen.

Found via Attaturk guesting at Atrios. You Tube available here.

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

I realize that Sen George Allen is a complete and total moron, but doesn't he have anyone at his campaign to see this is a bad idea. Allen rolls in with his all-white red-shirted volunteer core to the Fairfax County Republican Party Ethnic Community Rally and then proceeds to put this graphic up on his web site. This really isn't an Allen event at all as far as I can tell.

Because If We Don't Torture The Stingrays The Terrorists Have Won?

Here is a ridiculous story from the land down under. People have been retaliating against stingray for the death of Steve Irwin. From CNN:

At least 10 stingrays have been found dead and mutilated on Australia's eastern coast since "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was killed by one of the animals last week, an official said Tuesday, prompting concerns of revenge attacks on the normally docile fish.

The popular television star was killed last week when a stingray barb pierced his chest as he filmed a TV show off Australia's Great Barrier Reef, prompting an outpouring of grief in Australia and among his fans worldwide.

Seriously, what is wrong with these people?


Bill Kristol and Rich Lowry have a pipe dream op-ed in today's Washington Post that proclaims we need to send a lot more troops to Iraq in order to calm the restive population. From the Post:

The bottom line is this: More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment. This means the ability to succeed in Iraq is, to some significant degree, within our control. The president should therefore order a substantial surge in overall troop levels in Iraq, with the additional forces focused on securing Baghdad.

I believe this is what you would call positioning yourself for the inevitable failure, ie. covering your ass. Kristol and Lowry never define exactly what substantial increase in troop level we need. Probably because the numbers we would need to bring a positive outcome would shock the American people at this point, not that we have them to deploy in those numbers anyway.
It's all irrelevant because it simply isn't going to happen. This administration will never admit failure no matter how obvious it is to see.

The real problem is that this argument is about two and a half years too late. With a proper Phase 4 war plan for post-hostilities occupation we would have had the troop levels Kristol and Lowery are calling for now (I'm guessing, again, they never put a number on it). Of course, back then they were advocating the neo-con fantasy that we could waltz in, do nothing, and everything would work out just fine. It didn't and you don't just put the genie back into the bottle, especially when that much oil wealth is at stake.

You can think whatever you want about the Iraq war, I have always thought it was a grave mistake, but if they were going to do it they should have done it right. That is the problem with where we stand today. We screwed it up and now we're stuck with a president who isn't just willing not to lose, he is willing not to win as well so we are in a very precarious jam.

Look, if you truly believe this is a battle for civilization, as wrong as you are, at least treat it as such. Instead Bush has pursued policies that enrich the wealthy and at the same time bleed the nation of our blood and treasure with no possibility of victory in Iraq. It's no wonder people see his rhetoric on the war as hollow, hell it is hollow. And it has left the American people with two choices, do what it takes to win, or get out. In November, I believe they will make their position known, but they will probably have to reiterate in 2008 as well.

Saddam Hussein

Apparently, Saddam is spending his spare time watching old Kids In The Hall reruns. From CNN:

"Congratulations! you are in a cage, Saddam," witness Ghafour Hassan Abdullah said as he stared at the ousted president. Hussein later lashed out at "agents of Iran and Zionism" in the courtroom and vowed to "crush your heads."

I don't know what the hell is going to happen in Iraq, but I'm pretty sure Saddam's head crushing days are over.


There has been an attempted attack on the US embassy in Damascus overnight. From what I could tell, it was to be a two part attack with a car bomb attempting to breach security followed by a bomb laden van however the car failed to breach security and the van never detonated. The van was loaded with what looked like about five or six propane tanks with pipe bombs strapped to them. All attackers were killed by Syrian security forces.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Idiocy Of Donald Rumsfeld Know No Bounds

This is unbelievable. Rolling Stone picked up this story from the Daily Press. From Rolling Stone:

Rumsfeld was “telling us we were going to war in Afghanistan and to start building the war plan. We were going to go fast.

“Then, just as we were barely into Afghanistan … Rumsfeld came and told us to get ready for Iraq.”

[Retired General Mark] Scheid said he remembers everyone thinking, “My gosh, we’re in the middle of Afghanistan, how can we possibly be doing two at one time? How can we pull this off? It’s just going to be too much.”

…“The secretary of defense continued to push on us … that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we’re going to take out the regime, and then we’re going to leave,” Scheid said. “We won’t stay.”

Scheid said the planners continued to try “to write what was called Phase 4,” or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like occupation.

Even if the troops didn’t stay, “at least we have to plan for it,” Scheid said.

“I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that,” Scheid said. “We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today….

“In his own mind he thought we could go in and fight and take out the regime and come out. But a lot of us planners were having a real hard time with it because we were also thinking we can’t do this. Once you tear up a country you have to stay and rebuild it. It was very challenging.”

What a fucking moron. We had one shot at getting this thing right, and this asshole refused to let anyone even plan to get it right.

Mixed Messages

Most of the administration members I've heard speak on CNN today really come off as clownish as they tout their achievements in the War on Terror on one hand, but reminding Americans that we still need to be very afraid. Donald Rumsfeld actually looked clownish. Where did he find that get up he was wearing?

Flag Desecration

Probably time for republicans to bring up that flag desecration amendment again.

Five Years Later

Since you are undoubtedly being bombarded with 9/11 crap today, I think I'll pile on as well. Five years ago today I was sitting at my desk when my secretary came into my office to tell me that my aunt had just called and that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. Really? I didn't think much about it because she said plane, not airliner.

Shortly after, she returned to my office to tell me that a second plane had flown into the other tower and it was some kind of attack. I believe my response was probably something like, "Oh, she's on fucking crack," but like always curiosity got the best of me and I tried to load Nothing happened. It was the same with every news source I tried. The servers were all melted down with too much traffic. I knew at that point something really bad was occurring. I finally found a website that confirmed the news to me, I think it was a local Houston TV station.

A horrible thought then crossed my mind, my parents were traveling that day. I immediately grabbed the phone and called my father. They were obviously fine and my dad told me these buildings are coming down. "What," i said? Those things are designed to stand up to a 747 hitting them and these planes aren't that big. "It's not the impact, it's the heat," he said.

At that point I told my secretary that I was taking an early lunch and headed to a bar that opens early in the day so I could find a TV to watch. As I walked in there was a collective gasp. The South Tower had just went down. I couldn't believe it. I ordered a water and just sat down. I was dumbfounded.

The really weird thing was that I didn't feel any emotion at the time. No sadness, no anger, nothing. I guess I was just kind of in shock. I watched the replays over and over as everyone else did. It was mesmerizing. I've heard some people describe it as tragedy porn.

I then heard a report that the FAA believed as many as fourteen or fifteen might have been hi-jacked. Of fuck, I thought. Bush is going to have to give the order to shoot down American airliners. Luckily it didn't have to come to that.

I went home and, it's weird how you react in these situation. I took a black suit to the cleaners as I know people that work both in and near the Twin Towers. Fortunately I didn't need to wear it. I never even went to pick it back up.

I went to a bar that night and literally every regular was there. Some were crying, some were swearing. I looked at a friend of mine and reminded him of what I had told him the previous December when the presidential election was finally settled. I had told him that I hope nothing really bad happens in the next few years because this guy isn't up for the job if it does. Something bad just happened and God only knows where this dumb ass will take us.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Obviously, I have gotten complacent about blogging lately. Damn real world commitments!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I was going to write about the new terror related push by the administration, but ran out of time and now I see Attytood picked up on the same thing here. Anyway, the latest buzz word being floated to scare you into voting republican is complacency. You see, if Americans get complacent about terrorism, WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. So make sure you don't get complacent about it. Even the FBI has gotten in on the act to warn you not to be complacent.

The administration and the FBI are entering dangerous territory here. The FBI surely doesn't want you and every other crackpot flooding their phone lines with every sort of imagined plot that goes in your head. That is precisely what they are going to get, and while the feds are off checking on your fantasy that your neighbor is a terrorist, they're not doing the necessary police work required to catch actual terrorists. PR campaigns like this one are actually counterproductive as they stoke the fears of less than rational people, but I guess winning a few more House seats is far more important than your actual safety.

The FBI already wastes countless man hours chasing false tips, a lot of them generated by various NSA spying programs, we shouldn't be out there making the problem worse.

A can say with great certainty that nearly every single one of you will never encounter a terrorist in your lifetime, neither in planning or execution of the plot. You are overwhelmingly more likely in this country to be killed by gun violence or in a car crash.

When was the last time you were warned about complacency while driving? This is ridiculous.


Federal prosecutors have asked that Tom Noe be given more jail time than previously asked for due to the extent of his violations of campaign finance laws. From Yahoo:

Tom Noe, a high level fundraiser for Bush's campaign, was involved in a "systematic and pervasive corruption of the federal and state election process," prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday.

He used friends and associates to give money illegally to three candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court and two who were running for governor, prosecutors said.

The documents filed in U.S. District Court did not reveal any names or the amount of money allegedly involved and did not specify how much additional time prosecutors think Noe should serve.

I don't think this guy is ever going to see the light of day again unless Bush issues a pardon before he leaves office. Good riddance.

Applying Pressure

It looks like the feds are using the time tested tactic of going after the wife to apply pressure to Tom Delay. From TPM Muckraker:

"In the last few weeks, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have interviewed several people at the Alexander Strategy Group lobbying firm to determine if Christine DeLay was being paid $3,200 a month -- a total of $115,000 over three years -- but not earning it. In a series of interviews last month, investigators questioned people who used to work at Alexander Strategy as well as people who worked in the same building as the now-defunct firm. "They wanted to know how often she came to the office? What did she do there? How long was she there?" said one person who was interviewed by the FBI.

Usually what happens in these deals is that the wife will get a pass in exchange for a plea from the husband, and it almost always works. In fact, it already has in this investigation. Tony Rudy cut a plea deal to avoid prosecution of his wife.


I'd like to thank the voters of Florida for nominating an unelectable Katherine Harris for the state's upcoming Senate election insuring me two more months of quality entertainment. Next week, the Club for Growth will try to do the same thing in Rhode Island. Go get em boys!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Losing The War On Terror

On a day when George Bush is set to give another speech on the War On Terror, one of our major partners in the effort to root out Al Queda has called it quits. The government of Pakistan announced today that it has signed a peace treaty with Al Queda and Taliban sympathizers in Waziristan.

The move for all intents and purposes insures that we will never catch Osama bin Laden, lest he is dumb enough to leave the region. From ABC

Under the agreement, the Pakistan military will stop monitoring the activity of the militants, who will pledge to "live like good citizens," General Sultan said. More than 30 militant prisoners have been released, and the military will pay compensation for property destroyed during the fighting.

This should effectively put a knife in the back of republicans running for re-election this fall. Terror was about all they had to run on and this peace treaty is a major setback in that war. The administration's inability to keep Pakistan on board is going to produce serious fallout among those who still believe republican's are better at keeping them safe than Democrats. This could be the straw that completely breaks the republican's backs.

By the way, today's in focus item on the White House web site is global diplomacy. It sure would be nice to actually have some of that.

The Debate

Well, I caught most of the Blackwell / Strickland debate and for the most part it was pretty dry. Blackwell is clearly the better public speaker, but that really doesn't matter when you don't really have anything to say. All Blackwell really said was lower taxes, lower taxes, lower taxes, and paint Strickland as a tax and spender, tax and spender, tax and spender. He didn't seem to have any new ideas on economic recovery.

Strickland did much better than I thought he would and clearly offered a better message than Blackwell, despite his weaker public speaking skills. To be honest, as long as Strickland doesn't make any major gaffes in these debates, they have to be considered wins for him considering his sizable lead.

One thing did amuse me in the debate though. The last question asked of both men was what do they think about Iraq. I've never understood why people ask foreign policy questions of candidates who are running for an office that has absolutely nothing to do with those policies. What can the governor of Ohio do about Iraq? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

Strickland probably did win a few points for saying he voted against the war, and idiotically Blackwell seemed to embrace it. Why would you embrace an unpopular issue when it has nothing to do with being governor?

Ohio Gubernatorial Debate

You can watch it here, or on ONN.

Condi, Condi, Condi

As bad as it was when administration officials started trotting out the story line that criticism of the Iraq war is the equivalent to being a Nazi sympathizer, Condi Rice really stepped, actually jumped over the line of decency when she made these remarks to Essence magazine. From The Carpetbagger Report:

Secretary of State Rice compared the Iraq war with the American Civil War, telling a magazine that slavery might have lasted longer in this country if the North had decided to end the fight early.

"I'm sure there are people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold," Rice said in the new issue of Essence magazine.

"I know there were people who said, 'Why don't we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves?'" Rice said.

So now if I'm critical of the administration's handling of the war I'm an anti-abolitionist? These statements are beyond dumb, and Rice should be ashamed of herself for making them. You know, I'm sure there were people who didn't want to fight the Civil War and didn't care about the slaves. History has proven those people to be wrong, and history will surely draw the same conclusion about your administration and your war, wrongly started, wrongly fought, and likely wrongly ended, whenever that manages to happen.

Voter Anger

A new poll by CNN shows that 54% of the country thinks that things in the US are going badly. A whopping 76% say there are things going on in this country to be "angry" about. The real scary number for republicans in this survey is that 55% say they are more likely to support a challenger in this fall's election. That is 7% more than responded similarly in 1994, the year that republicans retook the House.
The above graphic from the Detroit Free Press surely shows one of the major factors feeding this anger among voters. This is the the change in median income under the six years of the Bush presidency. Here in Ohio the median income has dropped 9.3% in six years. That is staggeringly high and as you can see there are states doing even worse than us. In fact, in only four states and the District of Columbia have people seen increases in median pay.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Finding Humor Where You Can

This really isn't a funny story, but the write up of it in the Boston Globe made me laugh. It's about a program called "Flat Daddy" where reservists can get a life size cutout of their spouse serving overseas. It's good for morale at home, but read this from the Globe:

Judkins said the cutout has been a comfort since her husband was deployed in January.

"He goes everywhere with me. Every day he comes to work with me," said Judkins, who works in a dentist's office. "I just bought a new table from the Amish community, and he sits at the head of the table. Yes, he does."

In the car, her husband's image sits behind the driver's seat so Judkins can keep an eye on him. A third-grade class writes to him as their "adopted" guardsman. And Judkins even brought her husband's cutout -- which she calls Slim Jim, because he's not -- to confession at the local church.

When asked what her husband had to confess, Judkins laughed. "That's private," she said.Jim Judkins had at least one precarious moment as a cutout. When cousins tried to stuff him into a suitcase to take on a cruise, they broke his neck. But instead of expensive surgery, all the cutout needed was a little duct tape, Judkins said.

There were a lot of ways I could have went with this, but I think it stands on its own.

MSNBC seems to be sending a mixed message on the economy with this graphic. Sure, the unemployment rate is going down, but that can't be attributed to job creation, the numbers simply aren't there. 128,000 jobs were created this month, 22,000 fewer than needed just to keep up with population growth. Most signs show we are heading into an economic slowdown, possibly even a recession, yet MSNBC writes this:

The latest snapshot, released by the Labor Department Friday, was a bit brighter than expected and should ease any fears that the expansion that began in late 2001 is in danger of fizzling out.

Why should 3,000 jobs more than predicted ease any fears? That is well within the margin of error (Hey the forecasters got one right!) and 125,000 jobs is a lousy report anyway. Baffling. Maybe they should read the bottom part of their graphic.

Bad Week

To say I'm having a bad week is a vast understatement. On Sunday, my water heater leak detector went off and of course when my apartment was remodeled they forgot to leave an access to it. After about 12 hours of screeching my landlord had to remove a section of drywall to get to the thing. Wednesday was flat tire day, and to top that off, last night my plasma TV went kaput. Even better, nobody repairs Gateway plasma TVs but Gateway.

What wonders will today bring?

Updating Rhode Island

Wow! In a filing yesterday, it was revealed that the NRSC has dumped $536,420.41 into the Rhode Island primary for Lincoln Chafee to defeat a fellow republican. The result? Chafee is not likely to survive the primary challenge, and his slayer, Steve Laffey is a long shot to win the general election. Thanks for finally giving up the seat guys, and throwing some cash down the sewer as well.