Thursday, June 30, 2005

Your tax dollars at work

A federal audit of the contract for hiring Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport screeners calls into question $303 million of the $741 million spent to assess and hire the screeners. The audit of the contract, which rose from $104 million in February 2002 to $741 million in April 2003, has been completed but the U.S. Government will not release it. The Washington Post obtained a copy and showed some of the ways your hard earned tax dollars, remember "it's your money," is being spent in the war on terror.

--$526.95 for one phone call from the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago to Iowa City;

--$1,180 for 20 gallons of Starbucks Coffee -- $3.69 a cup -- at the Santa Clara Marriott in California;

--$1,540 to rent 14 extension cords at $5 each per day for three weeks at the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colo.;

--$8,100 for elevator operators at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan;

--$5.4 million claimed for nine months' salary for the chief executive of an "event logistics" firm that received a contract before it was incorporated and went out of business after the contract ended;

--$20-an-hour temporary workers billed to the government at $48 per hour;

--subcontractors who signed out $5,000 in cash at a time with no supporting documents;

--$4.4 million in "no show" fees for job candidates who did not appear for tests;

--$514,201 to rent tents that flooded in a rainstorm;

--$377,273.75 in unsubstantiated long-distance phone calls;

One of the audit's key revelations is that a decision to move the hiring process from Pearson's 925 U.S. private assessment centers to 150 hotels and other meeting facilities added at least $343 million to the cost of the contract. Almost 50% of the contract's total cost.

The highlights of this audit are taken directly from The Washington Post article. No comments are really necessary except to say I feel we are caught between Islamic fanatics who consider mass murder a virtue and war profiteers who consider Islamic fanatics a virtue. Just another example of why the Curmudgeon is so perpetually cranky.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I wish I were a puppy loving vegan

About a third of an ounce of botulism toxin poured by bioterrorists into a milk truck en route from a dairy farm to a processing plant could cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in economic losses, according to a scientific analysis that was published yesterday despite efforts by federal officials to keep the details secret.

Because milk from many sources is combined in huge tanks holding hundreds of thousands of gallons, the toxin would get widely distributed in low, but potentially lethal, concentrations and within days be consumed by about 568,000 people, the report concludes.

I can't drink the milk but I least I can eat the beef. Right?

A second American animal has tested positive for mad cow disease, Agriculture Department officials said. The sample, from a downer cow in Texas that died last November, was retested earlier this week at the request of the USDA inspector general's office. The animal had been deemed disease-free last fall, but when a sample was subjected to a more precise test, the result was a "weak positive," said USDA Secretary Mike Johanns.

How 'bout no.

At least Congress is working hard on these and other important national issues, for example:

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) recently introduced a bill co-sponsored with Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), called PAWS — the Pet Animal Welfare Statute — that would require USDA to regulate breeders who sell seven or more litters of dogs or cats per year - so called "puppy mills." "To me, it's part of a society that's caring, sensitive to life" said Santorum.

I guess when two senators make references to Nazis on the Senate floor the best way to change the subject is to co-sponsor a puppy hug. Santorum already hugged "snowflake" babies in the stem cell debate. What's next? Throw out a first pitch? Judge an apple pie eating contest? July 4th parade marshall duty? Tax breaks for American flag manufacturers? Remember you're either with us or against us and that includes you and me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The 10 Suggestions

A day after the Supreme Court gave us a split decision on 10 Commandment displays it is important to answer this question: If you posted 5 Commandments would that be constitutional?

Actually the question is how can it be argued that the 10 Commandments are historical or the basis for our laws and not purely religious in nature?

1. I am the Lord God -- Terse and pithy, direct and straight to the point but not a law.

2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain -- Again, simple and direct but not a law.

3. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image -- Again hard to find any law about this in the U.S . although the Taliban had something on their books.

4. Keep the Sabbath holy -- Nice thought, again not a law as evidenced by all the 24 hour mini-marts out there.

5. Honor thy father and thy mother -- More like a suggestion than a law.

6. Thou shalt not kill -- O.K. Here we have the basis for a law and a good catch phrase "culture of life" with notable exceptions like the death penalty, covert assassinations, environmental policies, access to health care and/or prescription drugs, wars, etc.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery -- If people didn't violate this commandment think of how many divorce lawyers, judges, florists, realtors, lingerie shop owners, hotels, motels and Sybaris franchises would be out of business. And there is some really interesting archeology out of Israel that suggests the "not" was added in error to this commandment.

8. Thou shalt not steal -- O.k. this is a law. With of course the exceptions of Halliburton, Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham oh the list is too long.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor -- If you knew my neighbor and his pack of barking dogs, loud parties and dandelion lawn you too would swear on a stack of bibles he killed Kennedy. A law though.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's -- Excuse me? Isn't this the reason anything got done in the history of civilization? If I didn't want all that stuff I'd stay at home and play X-box all day. Again, not a law.

And don't forget Reagan's 11th Commandmant, "Thou shalt not criticize other Republicans."

Unfortunately, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform didn't get the memo:

"I assume he wants to provoke us, but it’s hard to work up much interest for someone who in his continued warm embrace of Jack Abramoff is doing a more than adequate job of marginalizing himself. Most Reagan revolutionaries came to Washington to do something more patriotic than rip off Indian tribes."

-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to Grover Norquist after being called a "nut job." Quoted by Roll Call.

Three out of ten might get you into Cooperstown but it's not a good percentage for arguing this is the basis for all of our laws rather than a religious display promoting one or two religions over all others or no religion at all.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Piglet and Tigger are dead

Paul Winchell, the ventriloquist creator of the puppet Jerry Mahoney, who later became famous as the animated voice of Tigger, Winnie-the-Pooh's exuberant friend, died on Friday, June 24 at his home in Moorpark, Calif. He was 82. Mr. Winchell not only gave Tigger a voice to match his bounce in the animated versions of A. A. Milne's classic, but also his signature phrase, "Ta-ta for now.

John Fiedler, who played character roles in celebrated dramas on Broadway and in Hollywood but gained lasting fame among young audiences as the voice of Piglet in Walt Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh films, died on Saturday, June 25. He was 80.

Whoever provided the voices for Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Christopher Robin or Winnie the Pooh should get a check-up right away.

Meanwhile, back to reality...

As part of our childhoods were dying over the weekend, four suicide bomb attacks struck Iraqi police and an Iraqi Army base in a 16-hour wave of insurgent violence in the northern city of Mosul on Saturday and Sunday, killing 38 people and wounding scores more. The Mosul attacks came as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld echoed remarks by his advisers in recent months suggesting that the insurgency could last as long as a dozen years and that Iraq would become more violent before elections later this year. The rate of insurgent attacks remains steady, but the typical attack has grown more lethal, Mr. Rumsfeld said on "Fox News Sunday."

On the other hand, the insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes," Vice President Dick Cheney said, and he predicts that the fighting will end before the Bush administration leaves office. A dozen years or 3? The insurgency is steady or in its "last throes?"

"We're going to have to make some changes or we will lose, we will lose in Iraq." That's Sen. Chuck Hagel - Republican saying this stuff noting Iraq could "end up another Vietnam." You'll remember it was Hagel who said, "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."

And if WMD claims, "cakewalk predictions", Valerie Plame, Mission Accomplished, looting, billions of dollars gone missing, lack of armor, stop-loss orders, army recruiting goals not met or anyone of a dozen other depressing stories hasn't shocked you this one might. There are reports that the US is in talks with Iraq rebels. The Iraqi sources claim the American team included senior military and intelligence officers, a civilian staffer from Congress and a representative of the US embassy in Baghdad. On the rebel side were representatives of insurgent groups including Ansar al-Sunna, which has carried out numerous suicide bombings and killed 22 people in the dining hall of an American base at Mosul last Christmas. Also represented was the so-called Islamic Army in Iraq, which murdered Enzo Baldoni, an Italian journalist, last August; the Iraqi Liberation Army; Jaish Mohammed and other smaller factions. Rumsfeld seemed to confirm talks but wouldn't truly comment on it.

I guess "no negotiation with terrorists" can be added to the list of things that as you grow up you find out aren't really true.

The most wonderful thing about Tigger is that he's the only one. The most awful thing about this administration is that there are so many officials who make it up as they go along and every one else will have to pay for that.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Stop the world I want to get off

The Supreme Court just took away your house and Karl Rove took away your patriotism.

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that government can seize your house and give it to another private citizen or developer if that person can use the property better than you can. One of the plaintiffs in Kelo v. City of New London includes a woman who was born in her house 87 years ago and has lived there since but has refused to leave. Let's see, 87 year old woman on one hand, Dairy Queen on the other...Orange Julius anyone? And the Justices who voted for more Sam Goody and Banana Republic stores? John Paul Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy and Souter. Those for homeowners? Scalia, O'Connor, Thomas and Rehnquist. And yesterday I thought up was up and down was down.

You can almost hear the screaming from O'Connor who wrote in her dissent, "Who among us can say she already makes the most productive or attractive use of her property?" She added: "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall or any farm with a factory." On the other hand I'd rather stay in a Ritz-Carlton and I do need more khakis.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Speaking in a Manhattan ballroom just a few miles north of ground zero, Karl Rove said on Wednesday night that the Democratic party did not understand the consequences of the Sept. 11 attacks. "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Rove said. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war." he said. Rove stated the Democratic Party made the mistake of calling for "moderation and restraint" after the terrorist attacks. "Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies."

September 14, 2001: The Senate votes 98-0 and the House votes 420-1 to authorize Bush to use "all necessary and appropriate force" to retaliate against the terrorists. (The vote to offer 5 day a week therapy to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda was defeated 0-100 and 0-435 respectively.)

Rove, W and the Republican Party are more at war with half the people in America than with Osama Bin Laden. What Karl Rove said, if you run it through the Bat-translator, is that Democrats are unpatriotic and anti-American. Pure and simple. Maybe if W and his crew waged war as well against Osama, Al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgency as they do against half of America Osama would be captured or killed, Al Qaeda would be defeated militarily and politically and Iraq would have so many Dairy Queens, Sam Goodys and Banana Republics that no local governemnt would have to steal homes under the guise of eminent domain to build strip malls.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Flag Burning Part II

Just when I thought I had found the most absurd quote about flag burning... In my last post I recounted former U.S. Rep. Douglas Applegate (D-crazyville) who said in 1989 that the Supreme Court's ruling striking down a Texas law banning flag burning was "the greatest travesty in the annals of jurisprudence." Not one of the greatest travesties, but THE greatest travesty. Well, I was wrong that it was the most insane quote on the topic. Yesterday, as the House got down to really important business by passing a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration, U.S. Representative Randy (Duke) Cunningham (R-CA) actually said, "Ask the men and women who stood on top of the Trade Center. Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment." Wow. It's going to be hard to top that. Forget about his house deal troubles or the fact that the FBI has issued subpoenas in an unrelated matter involving the Duke. If crazy were a crime this guy would get life just for his flag amendment statement. And remember, this wasn't some off the cuff comment. This was actually prepared in advance to be read on the House floor. A goverment as good as its people? Are the people of the 50th district including San Diego, La Jolla, Del Mar and Carmel Valley that nuts?

Also, late Wednesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., revealed that she would vote against the measure. "I don't believe a constitutional amendment is the answer," Clinton, a possible presidential candidate in 2008, said in a statement. The Curmudgeon was wrong in his prediction about Hillary. And that makes me even more cranky.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Put another right on the barbie

In 1989 the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Texas v. Johnson that Texas state law criminlizing desecrating the American flag was unconstitutional. Justice William Brennan, wrote "If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable...We have not recognized an exception to this principle even where our flag has been involved."

A former Democratic Congressman (thank god he's former) Douglas Applegate (D-OH) had the money quote about the Supreme Court's decision when he said the ruling was "the greatest travesty in the annals of jurisprudence." Worse than Dredd Scott? Worse than "Separate but equal?" Rep. Applegate also asked, "Are there any limitations? Are they going to allow fornication in Times Square at high noon?" If they are we either need to do a pay-per-view or draft another constitutonal amendment banning it.

The hysteria continues to this day as today the U.S. House of Representatives will likely approve by an overwhelming vote a constitutional amendment that would outlaw debasing ther American flag. While this has been passed before the difference is that the Senate may actually pass it too. Sen. Hillary ('08) Clinton says she is "studying the issue." Since a majority of Americans favor the amendment and avoiding being labeled "anti-American" I have a strange feeling Hillary will "reluctantly" vote to protect the flag so as to protect her '08 run.

Representative Gary L. Ackerman, Democrat of New York, said in a speech on the House floor, wearing a flag-print necktie, "The Constitution this week is being nibbled to death by small men with press secretaries." He's right. If school kids refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance are they being disrespectful? Is that desecration? The difference between buring the flag out of protest and to dispose of it respectfully after it has been damaged or soiled is merely a matter of intent. And yet the same people who are against hate crime laws because they add an element of intent to commit a "thought crime" are for the flag burning amendment which based on intent.

In 1989, a columnist in the The Christian Science Monitor wrote, "Can we legislate reverence? And even if we could, do we want to perpetuate the trend, so evident in late-20th-century America, toward more and more laws reaching into areas that once were defined, and policed, by local mores and customs? Are we content to replace the inner restraints of ethics with the outer restrictions of legality? If we are, we've missed the point. Patriotism lives through substantive ideas, not just symbolic objects. Protect the substance, and the symbols will take care of themselves."

But it's easier to protect the symbols rather than the substance, or the ports, or the borders or chemical plants, or nuclear plants or humvees...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. Look at the Goss

Last night I watched Tim Russert's interview Pulitzer prize winning author/historian David McCullough for an hour. I think McCullough has the best voice of any person -- alive or dead. It's soothing and mellifluous. His new book, 1776, sounds like an amazing read and if I didn't have a back log of Growing up Gotti to plow through I'd get right to it.

Near the end of the interview Timmy said that more people can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of government. "What can we do about that?" he lamented pointing out the American public don't seem to have even a basic understanding of our country's history. Let me tell you something Timmy, at least the Three Stooges were professionals. The three branches of government have shown themselves to be amatuers. And if it weren't so serious it would be funny. But the only difference between slapslick and tragedy is sound effects and the White House, Congress and courts don't have any. No sense of history? Sounds like W who ignored the lessons of Vietnam (insurgencies) and Gulf War Part I (Powell doctrine of overwhelming force and clear objectives). Sounds like Congress and the rampant abuse of power and corruption that seems to repeat itself. Sounds like the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore. Until the three branches of government themselves have a good working knowledge of history don't expect anyone else to have it.

And by the way, I think it might be refreshing to have Moe, Larry, Curly, Shemp and even Curly Joe in charge of some things in Washington. Couldn't be worse than what we have now.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Lipstick, power, eyeliner...

Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."

--Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), U.S. News and World Report

Forget the obvious point here that this a Republican senator saying what has probably already made Karl Rove's "serious, serious injury list" ala "Rainman." What jumps out is the disclosure of the Republican party's political strategy in just about everything - "Make it up as you go along."

Sen. Bill Frist (R-HCA, Inc.) was on NBC's Today show on June 16, 2005 and had the following exchange with Matt Lauer:

LAUER: You were on the floor of the Senate at that time, not only as a senator, but a doctor, and in talking about Ms. Schiavo, you said, quoting you now, "She does respond." End quote. Were you wrong in your diagnosis?

Sen. FRIST: Well, first of all, I did--never made a diagnosis...

LAUER: ...but when you stand on the floor and you said, `She does respond,' are you at all worried that you led some senators...

Sen. FRIST: No, I never said that. I never said she responded. I said--and I reviewed the court videotapes...

In fact, on the Senate floor on March 17, 2005 Sen. Frist said, "I`ve looked at the video footage. Based on the footage provided me, which were part of the facts of the case, she does respond."

Frist '08 -- "Making it up as I go along"

Vice-President Cheney said on Larry King Live recently that he expected the Iraq war would end during President Bush's second term, which ends in 2009. And Yet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Fox News ""The administration, I think, has said to the American people that it is a generational commitment to Iraq."

Rice not '08 -- "Making it up as I go along"

Can't wait for the Republican talking points memo to get circulated saying "Making it up as you go along shows a firm but flexible approach to address the ever dangerous post-9/11 world."

Friday, June 17, 2005

Springtime for Hitler, Part II

The White House and Senate Republicans on Thursday assailed Sen. Richard Durbin, a Democrat from my home state of Illinois, for comparing American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviet gulags and Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot.

Sen. Durbin said, "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings."

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan was of course shocked but he pulled himself together to say it was "beyond belief" to make such a comparison and that the remarks were "reprehensible." He then demanded Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Opus Dei) apologize for his remarks on the Senate floor May 19, 2005 during the judicial filibuster nonsense when he said:

"I mean, imagine, the rule has been in place for 214 years that this is the way we confirm judges. Broken by the other side two years ago, and the audacity of some members to stand up and say, how dare you break this rule. It’s the equivalent of Adolph Hitler in 1942 saying, "I’m in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city? It’s mine."

Actually the White House and Scott McClellan didn't say a word about Santorum's Hitler reference as far as I know. I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that Ricky is a devoutly religious god-fearing Catholic conservative on their team but I can't prove it.

Let me say something pretty obvious. The Democrats aren't like the Nazis. Republicans aren't like the Nazis. Guantanimo Bay isn't like the Nazis. Abu Ghraib isn't like the Nazis. The Nazis were like the Nazis. If anything is sacred in this world no one should compare the Nazis or Hitler to anyone but the Nazis and Hitler. Durbin and Santorum included.

Except for my high school gym teacher, man was he a Nazi.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Politics make strange bedfellows

In late March this year in Denver three people were kicked out of a Bush privitazation campaign stop by someone who by all appearances was with the Secret Service. The three had personally picked up tickets from the the offices of Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.) and the presidential event was entirely paid for by taxpayers. As they entered they were told they had been "ID'ed" and were warned that any disruption would get them arrested. After being seated in the audience the three were told it was a "private event" and forcibly removed before the President arrived, even though they had not been disruptive. It turns out it was a Republican staffer who kicked them out (and was under investigation for impersonating a Secret Service agent) and that they had been "ID'ed" when local Republican staffers saw a bumper sticker on the car they drove in which said "No More Blood For Oil."

Apparently freedom isn't on the march in Denver and the three who were kicked out for being presumed Democrats might gotten more respect if they had been in the porn business and donated some money to W and company. To wit:

On June 14 porn star and former gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey joined her boss, Kick Ass Pictures president Mark Kulkis and attended a dinner with President Bush in Washington. Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which organized the event. Over a two-day course of NRCC events preceding the diner, Carey and Kulkis attended a meeting with presidential advisor Karl Rove and gave their recommendations on important national issues.

"I'm hoping to run as Lieutenant Governor of California next year," Carey said. "Since Arnold is a Republican I thought this dinner would be a great networking opportunity for me."

"I'm honored to be invited to this event," Kulkis said. "Republicans bill themselves as the pro-business party. Well, you won't find a group of people more pro-business than pornographers. We contributed over $10 billion to the national economy last year."

"I'm especially looking forward to meeting Karl Rove," Carey added. "Smart men like him are so sexy. I know that he's against gay marriage, but I think I can convince him that a little girl-on-girl action now and then isn't so bad!"

People kicked out of taxpayer funded open presidential events because some cop wanna-be thinks they aren't loyal enough Americans? Porn stars invited to dine with W and company? Karl Rove described as "sexy"? Aren't these signs of the Apocalypse described in The Book of Revelations? Can't be though since that means the salvation of the righteous and they just had dinner with one of the stars of Hot Showers 6 and New Wave Hookers 7.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bubble? What Real Estate Bubble?

Either I should be in politics or they should be in real estate.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) made $822,000 last year from the sale of a controversial real estate investment with an Anchorage developer who had obtained a huge federal contract with his help the Los Angeles Times reports.

In 1997, Stevens invested $50,000 with developer Jonathan B. Rubini. Last year, at Stevens' request, Rubini and his partner bought back the senator's interests in their deals for $872,000, according to Senate financial disclosure forms made public.

About three years after he made that investment, Stevens helped Rubini secure a $450-million Air Force housing contract.

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham did almost as well. A defense contractor bought the Duke's San Diego area home in November 2003 and sold it nearly nine months later at a $700,000 loss, it was reported. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Mitchell Wade the owner of MZM, Inc., a defense contractor bought the Duke's house for $1,675,000 and "put it back on the market almost immediately for roughly the same price." After sitting unoccupied and unsold for days 261 it was sold for $975,000. A loss of $700,000. Dukie turned around and bought a new house for $2,550,000.

Don't worry about Wade though. He bounced back. Although Wade had been suffering through a flat period in winning Pentagon contracts, MZM, Inc. was on a tear – reeling in tens of millions of dollars in defense and intelligence-related contracts. At the time, the Republican congressman was supporting Wade and his firm MZM Inc. in efforts to win Pentagon contracts, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

And the cherry on top? The real estate agent who sold Dukie's house, Elizabeth Todd, contributed, along with her husband ,$11,500 to the Duke's various campaigns from 1997 to 2004. She also represented Dukie in his new home purchase. Mitchell Wade of course had no broker represent him in buying the Duke's house and had no home inspection.

The good news is the Duke has been vouched for in all of this. The bad news is that its Tom DeLay doing the vouching. “Duke Cunningham is a hero,” DeLay said during a press briefing Tuesday. “He is an honorable man of high integrity.”

Hey Tom, do you know many "honorable men" of low integrity? And by the way. Spider-man's a hero. Super-man's a hero. The guy who delivers my chinese food in a blizzard is a hero. The Duke, Sen. Stevens and you are ethically challenged greedy insiders gaming the system and holding press conferences to proclaim your "heroic" existence. I just can't see Marvel Comics producing a movie called "Insider Deal Man." Could be wrong though.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

The Boston Globe gives a preview of what will happen more and more (no pun intended) in red states because of the "We're on a mission from God" party better known as the Republican party.

"As Republican strategists weigh the party's prospects for 2006 and 2008, they are increasingly worried about a political confrontation with Roy S. Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who became a hero to religious conservatives when he refused to follow a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state's judicial building."

"Moore, a Republican who enjoys widespread support in his home state, is poised to run against a vulnerable Republican governor. If he wins, some party strategists speculate, he could defy a federal court order again by erecting a religious monument outside the Alabama state Capitol building. With the 2008 presidential race looming, President Bush would then face a no-win decision: either call out the National Guard to enforce a court order against a religious display on state grounds or allow a fellow born-again Christian to defy the courts."

Fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope were punchlines from Monty Python. They are now core values of the Republican party.

Monday, June 13, 2005

You kiss your mother with that mouth?

On Hannity & Colmes, with Colmes doing his best trappist monk vow of silence impression most of the time, Vice-President Dick Cheney is quoted as saying about DNC Chairman Howard Dean, "I've never been able to understand his appeal. Maybe his mother loved him, but I've never met anybody who does. He's never won anything, as best I can tell."

First off, is there any doubt that 2008 will have a lot of Republican commercials with a tag line like "Hillary, not even her mother loved her!" or "John Edwards, not even his mother loved him!" Some variation might be, "Hillary, the loser mommy and daddy hated!"

Secondly, after "Mission Accomplised" I would think Dick Cheney would have at least looked up what the term "won" meant. For the record, Dean won a seat in the Vermont House of Representatives by winning an election in 1983. Dean won the Vermont lieutenant governor's job by winning an election in 1986 and was re-elected, which means he re-won the job in 1988. He re-won the lieutenant governor's position, again which means he re-won and not lost it in 1990. Dean won his first full term as Vermont's governor in November 1992 and re-won, re-won, re-won and re-won the position by being re-elected governor four more times.

"He's never won anything, as best I can tell." said Cheney. Yeah, that's what we can expect from your "best." But this isn't about an obvious lie with "yo momma" thrown in for good measure. It's about the kind of people Cheney and the Republicans court for votes. People who want to be lied to because it's more comfortable than the truth. It's not, as Dick Cheney said the other day, the Iraqi insurgency that is in its "last throes" it's truth and honesty in government.

And by the way Dick. Your momma too.

Friday, June 10, 2005

If you take one more step...

Minority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that Senate Democrats will not allow a vote on President Bush's choice for U.N. ambassador unless the White House hands over records of communications intercepts Bolton sought from the secretive National Security Agency."You can't ignore the Senate. We've told them what we've wanted. The ball is in his court," Reid, D-Nevada, told CNN. "If they want John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, give us this information. If they don't, there will be no Bolton."


Seems like a rerun in the making of the judicial filibuster beating Democrats took recently. Judicial filibusters weren't eliminated but what difference does it make if every judge the Dems object to get confirmed? William Pryor, Janice Rodgers Brown, Priscilla Owen, David McKeague and Richard Griffin are U.S. Appeals Court judges for life now. That's 5-0 for Republicans since the "nuclear option" drama played out.

And what does Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat say about it? "I believe the Senate and our caucus is better for it. We preserved the right of extended debate and filibuster."

"Preserved" is right. It's preserved just like a fossil. At least most fossils have evidence of a spine which is more than I can say for the leadership of the Democratic party.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Say that again?

Neil Cavuto of Fox "News" got a one on one interview with President W the other day and asked some really tough questions like, "Do you ever get mad at of your fellow Republicans?", "Do you think you get a bum rap in the media on the economy?" and, I swear I am not making this up, "Do you think that the focus on Michael Jackson has hurt you?" I kid you not. has the transcript.

Later talking about his interview with W with Fox's John Gibson, Cavuto said: "But the president's [Social Security] push, soon as he began his second term, times almost to the week with the approach of the Michael Jackson trial. And I have a view -- and it could be crazy -- and the president readily admitted maybe it was -- that this fixation on the Michael Jackson trial, even in your show right now, takes away from the attention that maybe the president wanted afforded his program on Social Security."

"Could be crazy?" Try plain crazy. The only thing I'm confused about is who is more nuts, President W or Neil Cavuto? Next they'll say the war in Iraq isn't going as the planned because of Mary-Kate and Ashley. And those big deficits -- that's the runaway bride's fault. And judicial filibusters? Brad and Anjelina may be behind that. You can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I'll have what she's having.

BERLIN, June 8 - A German city is rushing to install a series of drive-in wooden “sex huts” in time for next year’s soccer World Cup and an expected boom in the local sex trade, a city official said on Wednesday. Experts estimate as many as 40,000 prostitutes may travel to Germany to offer their services to fans during the tournament.

LONDON (AP), June 7 -- A woman's ability to have an orgasm is at least partly determined by her genes and can't be blamed entirely on cultural influences, new research suggests.

Who says there isn't any good news stories these days. Good for tourism, employment, the economy, EU cooperation, interest in soccer and good for men's egos. Almost brings a smile to the Curmudgeon's face. Almost.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

And you are...???

Yesterday I watched a guy at Best Buy walk out the door with $3,000 plasma flat screen t.v. after getting instant credit. Took less than 20 minutes. Give them your name, birthdate, social secutiry number and an ID hot off a home computer and anyone can watch American Idol in high definition in 20 minutes. Crooks can prove they are you faster than you can.

In one of the largest breaches of data security to date, a consumer finance subsidiary of Citigroup announced yesterday that a box of computer tapes containing information on 3.9 million customers was lost by UPS last month. The tapes contained names, addresses, Social Security numbers, account numbers, payment histories and other details on small personal loans made to millions of customers.

Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp. are in the process of notifying more than 670,000 of their customers that their personal account information was stolen. The number of compromised accounts may top more than 1,000,000.

Credit-check company ChoicePoint is notifying 145,000 people that an ID theft ring gained access to the company's vital credit information. Law enforcement officials have discovered some 750 people who have been victims of identity theft as a result of the operation.

Worried about international terrorists getting into the country? Wait until your identity is stolen. You'll feel pretty terrorized. At the pace of data theft the whole country will be covered by this plague soon enough.

Stop worrying about gay marriage and Howard Stern saying "oral pleasure" on the radio. Light a fire under anyone in government who can help protect your personal data. At the pace of data theft the whole country will be covered by this plague soon enough. Maybe when enough elected officials get their identities stolen they'll protect yours. But don't bet on it. Best Buy and credit card companies, who have a huge interest in giving instant credit to anyone has a better lobbyists than you and me.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Mt. Bullsh*t

For the first time in a long while Tim Russert actually did a reasonably good interview with RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman on Meet the Press yesterday. Of course, I guess an hour isn't enough to ask follow up questions. But that would get in the way of providing an unfettered forum for political hacks, successful to the point of being chairman of their party type hacks, to pile it high. By "pile" I of course am refering the main subject of Harry Frankfurt's best selling "On Bullsh*t." The pile was breathaking in size and scale rivaling Mt. Everest. People will want to climb it one day simply because its there.

On stem cell research: "This is the first administration ever that has funded with federal dollars embryonic stem cell research.

You mean Washington, Lincoln and Hoover didn't fund stem cell research? What luddites. And we know what lack of vision Calvin Coolidge had for not funding nuclear power power research.

More on stem cell research: "[the president] believes it is wrong to destroy some life for the benefit of other life. And I think that's where he draws the line."

Unless its a line in the sand. Must be an Iraq exception in there somewhere. A few good men and women will give their lives so others can live in freedom?

On Social Security private accounts: "The reason the president is so committed to personal retirement accounts is because it's a better deal for future generations. If you had taken in 1988 $10,000 and put that money into the personal retirement account that is available to every single member of Congress, every single federal employee, you'd have $42,000 today. If you put that same money in Social Security, you'd have $11,700 today."

Oh, Mr. Mehlman, what if you had put $10,000 into the stock market Jan. 2000? Would I even have enough for a McDonald's Happy Meal?

On the economy: "Well, Tim, I think that the economy is doing well. We've created, as you know over the past two years, 3.5 million jobs. Homeownership is at an all-time high"

Too bad 3.5 million new jobs doesn't keep up with what employment needs are and falls short of the 7 million new jobs promised by W in Sept. 2002 - well after 9/11. And as for homeownership at an all-time high? If one new home is sold every year that would be an new all-time high. It's almost always an all-time high Mr. Wizard.

On judicial filibusters: "For 214 years, we've had an up-or-down vote. There's never been a judge before Miguel Estrada, that was denied the chance for an up-or-down vote if they had majority support."

Tell that to Justice Abe Fortas with the first judicial filibuster led by Republicans or Judge Richard Paez who Sen. Bill Frist voted to continue the filibuster on March 8, 2000. Or, oh forget it, the lie has traveled around the world before truth could get its shoes on.

On Tom Delay: "Tom DeLay and his wife went to the Soviet Union, met with a Jewish family there that were Soviet refusniks, that were people who were being persecuted because they believed in wanting--because they believed in God and they wanted to worship under their religion and he conducted a Passover seder for them. I didn't know that about him, and that's another example like the fact that Tom DeLay is so committed to helping make sure that foster children have the care they need. There's a caricature too often in this town of people that describes them in these one-dimensional ways."

Tom DeLay a misunderstood mensch and closet Mother Teresa type. Uh, huh.

Maybe Mt. Everest is too small a comparison to this steaming pile.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Michael Jackson - Who cares

I mean who really cares? Whether Jackson is convicted or acquitted will it have the least bit of impact on anyone except him? What difference does it make in your life or anyone's? If Michael gets off (which may have got him indicted in the first place) and people cheer "We won!" what exactly did they win? It's not like sharing in a lottery prize. Sure this is a news story but maybe a blurb, a note, how about some copy on a crawl. Tell me when he is indicted and tell me the outcome. Think of the hundreds and hundreds of hours wasted by cable news showing and viewers watching this circus when real issues that need some attention get none. He comes to the courthouse one day late and in his pajamas and and I half expected MSNBC to interview a pajama expert talking about the type of jammies he was wearing and what does it mean for the case. I realize its hard to sink lower than psychic medium John "Crossing Over" Edward on cable being interviewed about Terri Schiavo's aura surrounding her in her near death state but with the Jacko trial we may have at least come close.

P.S. If John Edward is as good a pyschic as he claims did he know in advance that his show was going to be cancelled? Did he know I was going to blog about him?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Watergate, the musical!

Just when you thought you had seen it all. Now the Republican Guards come out and tell you, "hey, you know what? Watergate wasn't that bad after all!" Henry "the K" Kissinger says that all the Nixon talk on the tapes about break-ins and cover-ups was just "a habit of making grandiloquent statements. This was his way of letting off steam to prove that he was macho." Peggy Noonan, a tireless self-righteous and so proud of herself as a defender of anything and everything the right, right wing does says Charles Colson was a hero and Mark Felt caused millions of deaths in Southeast Asia after Nixon's resignation. That's the party line from the Republican Guards, that Deep Throat is the cause of mass murder in Vietnam and Cambodia. I guess personal responsibility is for Newsweek, Mark Felt and anyone except Republicans. Noonan does in passing think its "terrible when an American president lies and surrounds himself by dirty tricksters." Sounds like good clean Halloween-style fun when you put it that way Bitsy. When you listen to the Nixon tapes, the ones released since keepers of the flame resist all the tapes' release to the public, it sounds like John Gotti talking to Sammy "the Bull" Gravano upstairs at the Raven club rather than the Oval Office. But I'm sure Nixon wore his suit jacket in there just like W so I guess it makes it ok by comparison to another president who wasn't wearing their pants in the same office 25 years later. Seems equivalent. Remember a double murder and jaywalking are both crimes.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

You're Fired!

One of the best kept secrets, the identity of Deep Throat, the unnamed source for the Watergate stories in the Washington Post during the Nixon Administration, has been solved. Actually, W. Mark Felt, the former No. 2 man at the FBI back then, came forward and named himself. Of course such upstanding citizens like G. Felon Liddy and Chuck "Christian Felon" Colson and Pat "The war against Hitler wasn't worth it" Buchanan have scurried out from under their rocks to label Mark Felt as a traitor and low-life who betrayed President Nixon and the country. And who do you think would have a better chance to get hired by the current administration? Liddy, Colson, Buchanan or Felt? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.