Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Corrupticans, Part II

Yesterday, I gave a cranky overview on the Republican Party, a.k.a. the Corruptican Party and their new agenda of looting and stealing with both hands and feet for as long as they are in power. Today I want to defend the Corrupticans as they are only doing what they said they would do.

Corruptican/Republican Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham has pled guilty to bribery and tax evasion. Jon Stewart and the The Daily Show pointed out that while "Duke" and "Scooter" come pre-nickname for prison, unfortunately for "Scooter" it's "Duke" that is nicknamed for a "top." (ask someone.) In any event, so the "Duke" was simply doing what his party has peddled for years. Lower taxes and less government.

What is a better example of less government and less bureaucracy than simply getting a lucrative defense contract approved without much effort? Isn't it better that one congressman can make one phone call to get something done rather than have a bunch of public hearings and reports and conference committee meetings? That's smaller government at work. That's streamlining the bureaucracy. That's Corruptican/Republican principals at work. That's the type of smaller government that you can drown in a bathtub like Grover Norquist dreams about.

As for tax policy? What better way to cut, lower and reduce taxes and tax burdens on individuals than to just not pay them? Perfect. Arthur Laffer would be proud. a 0% tax rate! And, dovetailing with the smaller government idea, don't even bother to file tax returns on it!

Low taxes and smaller government. Two barrels of the same shotgun that the Corrupticans have blasted America for too long.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Eight-term San Diego Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned from Congress on Monday, hours after pleading guilty to taking at least $2.4 million in bribes to help friends and campaign contributors win military contracts. Mr. Cunningham, 63, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, tax evasion, wire fraud and mail fraud. He faces up to 10 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and forfeitures. Prosecutors said he received cash, cars, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees, moving expenses and vacations from four unnamed co-conspirators in exchange for aid in winning military contracts. None of this income was reported to the Internal Revenue Service or on the congressman's financial disclosure forms, the government said.

This has been a brewing story that Josh Marshall pounded on at for months. And the story isn't over. Among the other elected officials who might be caught up in this are Reps. Kathrine Harris (R-FL) and Virgil Goode (R-VA). Add this to the Jack Abramoff corruption machine and get set for 2006 being the year of indictments. Investing in prison builders now might be a good idea. Make room for "Scooter" Libby, Karl Rove, Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), Michael Scanlon and David Safavian. That's going to be some cell block.

The worst thing about all this is that it doesn't look that much different from the kleptocracies in Africa. Cunningham's bribery plea was on the front page of the New York Times and right next to it was a story about Nigerian corruption. The only difference it seemed was the scope of the official theft and that a Nigerian regional governor donned a dress and wig to escape money laundering charges in Britain. I wonder how DeLay would look in high heels?

Pop Quiz - Which of the following quotes are from the "Duke" Cunningham story and which are from the Nigeria story?

"Looting from the people is not a new thing. We are used to that. But for people who claim to be representatives of their own people to commit this barefaced robbery is shameful. Where is the rule of law?"

"This is what happens when you have leaders who are interested only in themselves."

"There is no real system of checks and balances."

Answer: They're all from the Nigerian story. They could all be from the "Duke" story. Corruption, Inc. Bringing corruption to you from around the world and around the block. Corrupticans. That's what they are. Corrupticans.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mr. Fantasy meet Mr. Reality

Remember all those great "reverse-domino" arguments? The "Iraq will be the flower of democracy that spreads throughout the Middle East?" And again, when I say Middle East I'm not talking about Ohio although it would be nice if free and fair elections arrived on the next wagon train to Columbus. First Iraq, then Lebanon, then Gaza, maybe Syria, Iran and Egypt. It all sounds so reasonable. Only problem is when Mr. Reality meets Mr. Fantasy.

Raw Story, a good site for stories that aren't simply republished from the MSM, reports that "tough guy" Bruce Willis is to make a pro-war film in which US soldiers will be depicted as brave fighters for freedom and democracy. Willis supports the war and recently offered a $1 million dollar bounty for the capture of any of al-Qaeda's most-wanted leaders such as Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I guess some sheep herder won't drop dime on Osama for the $25 million already offered, but for $26 million, hey now that's real money! I'll offer another $100 if there are any additional in the know holdouts who can't get by on only $26 million but might be swayed by $26 million and $100.

As for democracy in Gaza? Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party canceled its primaries in the Gaza Strip on Monday after militants stormed some polling places and shut them down, party officials said. The violence, by armed men belonging to Fatah, was a blow to Abbas's efforts to exert control over Gaza, territory Israel evacuated in September and which is widely seen as a testing ground for Palestinian statehood. I think we can give a grade of "F" for the test at this point.

Egypt? "The world's most populous Arab country, is suddenly roiling with a wide-open, combative election that seems certain to end with the country's main Islamic group, the banned Muslim Brotherhood, as a big winner." One man, one vote, once?

"The country's rulers, longtime American allies, are starting to show signs of panic: Police have barred voters from polls and shot tear gas and thugs have attacked Brotherhood supporters in recent days in an apparent effort to blunt the group's growing momentum." By comparison the goons in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and 2004 were amateurs.

Iran? The new nut in charge, I mean that in a good way, is making the government even more radical. If that's possible.

And back to Iraq - "Human rights abuses in Iraq now are as bad, or worse, than they when Saddam Hussein was in power, the nation's first post-Saddam prime minister was quoted as saying. In an interview with the Observer newspaper in London, Iyad Allawi pointed an accusing finger at the interior ministry, and alleged that "a lot of Iraqis" are being tortured or killed during interrogation. People are doing the same as (in) Saddam Hussein's time and worse, said Allawi, an prominent opponent of Saddam who steered the US-backed interim government in Baghdad until April this year."

Mr. Fantasy meet Mr. Reality. And when the "never surrender, cut-and-run, declare victory and get out" Republicans evacuate Iraq in 2006, they'll meet again.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Calling Agent Mulder

Happy belated turkey day. Now back to your regularly scheduled crankiness.

Even wonder about UFOs? No, not how many of them are there or why they are visiting Earth in such large numbers. Ever wonder why they only appear in the middle of Siberia at around 3 am or the remote areas of the desert at midnight? How about that all the video of "them" are shaky and out of focus? It's like the guy with the camera has the shakes in the middle of an earthquake while riding a rollercoaster at night and without auto-focus. Why can't ET and his buddies just land at the Superbowl at halftime and prove their existence to the world? This would also have the added benefit that Ashlee Simpson lip-syncing some horrible pop song would be interrupted.

I mean with all the planets in the universe, billions and billions to quote Carl Sagan and McDonalds, why would the Klingons come here? For our salad bars or tanning booths or cinnabons? They wouldn't and they don't. But according to a former defense minister and deputy prime minister of Canada, they do.

A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics -- relations with “ETs.” On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head." Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

No word on whether he was as drunk as Otis on Mayberry RFD at the time of his speech. My guess it was more like Arthur drunk.

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

I'm still deciding which is worse that some former Canadian government official said stuff that is usually mumbled by patients at the local mental ward or that he got a standing ovation for his thoughts. I'm going to go with the former since most in the audience were wearing tin foil on the heads.

Even if he is right any confidence that the U.S. could fight the Romulans any better than the Sunnis? I don't think so. On the other, we should fight them over there on Seti Alpha 6 rather than fight them here.

Gobble, Gobble.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Indiana's waiting game

The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the state's abortion waiting-period law which requires women seeking an abortion to receive in-person counseling about medical risks and alternatives.

The court, in a 4-1 vote, ruled that opponents of the 1995 law could not pursue their lawsuit on the grounds that privacy is a core right under the state constitution that extends to women seeking to end their pregnancies.

The court said such a challenge would fail because the law "does not impose a material burden on any right to privacy or abortion that may be provided or protected" under the state constitution.

No burden on a woman's right to privacy. Guess reading through her medical files by state agents would also be no burden. Now if the woman was "smart" enough to want to make war and not love she'd have no problem since there is no waiting period to buy a gun in Indiana. If men got pregnant and woman bought guns I'm sure the laws would be reversed. Men are about instant gratification which is actually how the unwanted pregnancy probably happened in the first place. It's just that in Indiana being able to buy a gun in without waiting is more of birthright than the rights of women who don't want to give birth. And who better than five men on Indiana's Supreme Court to decide on all this?

So the moral of this story is buy a gun but keep it firmly holstered in your pants.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Congresswoman and the Curmudgeon

Instead of staying at home watching another episode of ABC's "Wife Swap," a brilliant show whose tapes should be walked over the Museum of Television and Radio immediately after each airing, the Curmudgeon went out to meet Congresswoman Melissa Bean (D-IL, 8th) at a small dinner gathering in Chicago. Loyal readers, and you three know who you are Mom, Dad and Cranky's Wife, will recall the few brushes with greatness, here, here and here I have had recently. Last night was another brush. Although at this point it could be argued that it was Rep. Bean who had a brush with greatness.

I arrived early to the storefront restaurant and Rep. Bean walked in with me. She had driven herself, was without any handlers or staff or U.S. House of Representatives plates on her minivan. How refreshing. While we waited for others to arrive I had a chance to talk with her. She could not have been any nicer. She was friendly, articulate and sincere. All the things the Curmudgeon is not. Quite a contrast.

The room soon was teeming with lawyers, traders, business owners, a candidate for Congress, a candidate for State Treasurer, a political consultant-type, one guy who looked exactly like Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf (I'm not kidding) and one interior designer who just can't wait to help design my new kitchen for free. At least that's what I remember. Everyone seemed to have a good time talking about politics and politicians. Bean unseated Rep. Phil Crane from the eighth district in Illinois in 2004 and Republicans have targeted her for defeat in 2006. In fact, they targeted her even before she was sworn in. Bean's voting record has made some Democrats unhappy but what the Democrats need is more moderate and centrist members like her if they want to win elections nationwide and take back the House, Senate and White House. Besides, the most important vote she makes is for leadership positions and I'd rather have her vote than a Republican vote for Dennis Hastert as Speaker of the House (a.k.a. Mouthpiece of the White House) and Tom Delay as Majority Leader (a.k.a. Leader of Major Corruption).

There's nothing so satisfying as free food and the chance to ask a Member of Congress "Who is the worst Senator or Representative you know personally or professionally in Washington?" As is the case, many of the people you would think are nice are not and many you would think are not, actually are. In any event, Rep. Bean spent a long time talking to everyone about anything on their minds. She was the first to arrive and last to leave. She came early and stayed late. Her time is valuable not only because of her responsiblities to her job but also to her family yet she stayed and talked and answered any question put to her. She even stood on the cold windy sidewalk next to her car continuing the lengthy chat with the Curmudgeon that began nearly 4 hours earlier. Can't think of another elected official who would have been so generous with their time. She's someone who deserves broad support for re-election.

So who will be the next lucky Senator, Representative, Cabinet member or dare I say President whose presence will be graced by the Curmudgeon? You'll have to check back here daily to find out.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Freedom on the march

"Freedom is on the march." W says that early and often. He was in Ulan Bator, Mongolia (maybe the best name for a country's capitol although Addis Ababa is really good too) thanking the Mongols for helping in Iraq. W must have a soft spot in his hard heart for Ghengis Khan as he said as President-elect, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." So freedom is on the march? Wish it were marching or even crawling in places like Massachusetts and Colorado.

"ACLU has taken up a small but important story from when W came through on a political dog and pony show. You may remember (and when I say "you" ireally mean "you" as in my one blog reader) in Denver this past March three people were kicked out of a Bush Social Security 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."

Freedom on the march.

Now there is this from the "Are we really in the 21st Century" file. In Massachusetts the state has warned the upscale Whole Foods supermarket chain that it will risk criminal charges under the state's centuries-old "blue laws" if it goes ahead with plans to open on the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of the state's Puritan-era blue laws, passed in the 1600s to keep colonists at home or in church on Sundays, have been repealed, such as a ban of liquor sales on Sundays. But one that remains in effect requires all stores, except convenience stores and gas stations, to close on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

Freedom is marching all right. Just to the tune of loony drummers.

BONUS POSTING: This made me laugh. In fact this Mike Luckovich site of political cartoons should be a daily visit.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I need a crate of Cheez-its

A couple of weeks ago after not being able to get into a new children's museum, Cranky's Wife, Cranky Jr. and I went across the street to wander through Costco to kill time. We decided to join and then spent an hour wheeling a huge cart around looking at 3 pound bags of Doritos, 48 count Pop-Tart boxes and $3,000 Cartier Tank Francais watches. The place is amazing. It makes you want to open a restaurant just so you can buy gallon bottles of A-1 sauce and mayonnaise. You just don't realize you need a pallet of Snapple iced tea until you stand in the shadow of one.

Costco came to mind when I was watching a recent episode of Nightline. It was about the bird flu. Right now only a handful of people have been infected from birds although the death rate is around 50% which is huge. The big fear is if the avian flu virus mutates allowing human to human transfer. When person to person infections occur, and the experts say it is only a matter of time, there are predictions of tens of millions if not hundreds of millions dead, borders closing, a world-wide shutdown of travel and hoarding of vaccines and medicines that might help combat the bird flu. Big deal I say. I've seen this 6 years ago.

It was the end of the world predictions surrounding Y2K that drove me crazy. Due to a computer programming issue there were "experts" claiming at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2000 the world would shut down like a giant electro-magnetic pulse had hit the planet. People I thought were level headed and even-keeled started buying bottled water and canned goods and keeping extra money around in case the ATMs went brain dead. I thought Y2K wasn't going to be any problem and if all banking, electricity, planes, computers, vcrs and toasters went bye-bye then a bathtub full of water and some spam wouldn't help much.

I tell you this because I consider myself a very rational and reasonable (although perpetually cranky) type of person. And I consider Ted Koppel perhaps the most level-headed, reasonable and unflappable person on television. So as I was eating a bowl of Capt. Crunch with Crunchberries I froze in mid-crunch as he calmly asked Sec. of HHS Michael Levitt whether people should have four weeks of food in their house to tide them over during the coming pandemic. Excuse me? Did I just hear that correctly? No need to digitally rewind this exchange since Ted asked again, should people, in light of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, have four weeks of food, water and surgical masks to sustain them during the bird flu pandemic that is only a matter of time say the experts. Well no one on the panel said, "that's crazy!" or "Ted, that's creating unnecessary fear." All I could think about was "Honey, we're going to Costco."

I even saved that Nightline episode on my DVR to show my wife. I did not got so far as to pull out a pen and paper to write down my list of things to buy but I was tempted. A couple of days later, I was talking to a friend of mine who unprompted raised the topic. She said her husband had watched some show about the bird flu and now wants to go to Costco to buy four weeks of supplies. She said he saved the show and wanted her to watch. She was laughing. I said, uh, well...

So I don't know if I'm still considered reasonable or not but I'm going to Costco this weekend. If I'm wrong then I'll just have a lot of canned peaches and Pringles to eat through for the next year or so. Anyone want to join me?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Nobody was beheaded or killed

In America a proud defense of suspect political activity sounds something like, "Well, no crime was committed," or "It was legal." I've always been more disgusted with what's legal rather than what is illegal. It's sort of the same way with the phrase "appearance of a conflict of interest" or "appearance of impropriety." Either there is a conflict of interest or not. Either there is impropriety or not. Sorry "appearances." Now Iraq has improved on the "It was legal" or "no one was indicted for the underlying crime" defense.

Iraq's interior minister, Bayan Jabr, has defended a government facility that was found to be holding dozens of prisoners, including some showing signs of torture, saying it held "the most criminal terrorists." Jabr casually told the reporters, "Nobody was beheaded or killed." I guess this counts as progress in Iraq and may be cited by W or his boss Cheney as why we need to stay the course. Jabr then added, "You can be proud of our forces," Jabr said. "Our forces ... respect human rights." Obviously, Jabr learned from W who recently said "We do not torture" with a straight face as his boss Cheney was lobbying for a torture exception for the CIA. I guess that would allow Cheney and the CIA to say "It's all legal and we didn't behead anyone." Nobody getting killed is another story.

And before all you tough, patriotic couch potatoes in the middle of watching a "24" marathon on dvd, read anything and everything about what Sen. John McCain is saying about the benefits (none) of torture or the 90-9 vote banning it (really just getting the military to follow the Army manual on the subject) or how the Israelis are successful in counter-terrorism without it. Watching Denzel chop fingers off in "Man on Fire" might seem to get results but dude, it's a movie. If the U.S. catches some "ticking bomb" suspect who knows when some attack or nuke is going to go off - be my guest go torture. I'll even bring my This Old House toolbox to help out. Why? Because in that rare and to date never has happened scenario whoever is pulling teeth out or chopping off fingers would get a pardon. They would probably even name more than one grade school after them. I can see it now "The Curmudgeon Elementary School." Has a nice ring to it. I mean school is torture for most students anyway why not name one or two after torturers. We could start with George W. Bush prep school (Preparing mediocre students to become excellent torturers) and The Cheney School (We put the hospital back into hospitality? We put the fun back in fundamentalist? I'm working on it).

On the other hand, if torture were illegal I wouldn't able to share my blog with the world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sen. Ted Stevens - Keep your promise!

Less than a month ago freshman Senator Tom Coburn (R-Kooksville, Oklahoma) tried to take away $452.5 million from two Alaska bridge projects, known as the bridges to nowhere, and spend the money on hurricane-damaged bridges in New Orleans. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Crybaby, Alaska) had a tantrum on the senate floor over the move. Baby Stevens pulled out his pacifier long enough to whine, "I will put the Senate on notice -- and I don't kid people -- if the Senate decides to discriminate against our state, to take money only from our state, I'll resign from this body," he said. "This is not the Senate I came to. This is not the Senate I've devoted 37 years to, if one senator can decide he'll take all the money from one state to solve a problem of another."

For those of you who haven't heard, this was a spending earmark for bridges to link two small islands to the mainland. $229.5 million for the Knik Arm crossing near Anchorage and $223 million for a bridge to Gravina Island near Ketchikan. Gravina island has about 50 residents so it would actually be cheaper to buy each family on the island their own Lear jet or helicopter. The first attempt to strip the money out failed 82-15 in the senate. It just succeeded. The money has not been totally eliminated. It's now the decision of Governor Frank Murkowski (R-Murkowskiville, Alaska and former U.S. Senator) to decide what to do with the money. Frankie, on his way out the senate to become governor did a thorough Bush/Cheney/Miers-like search for his replacement and appointed his daughter Lisa Murkowski (R-cronyville, Alaska) to fill his senate seat. One more thing. Nancy Murkowski, the senator's mother and governor's wife, partly owns 33 acres on Gravina Island about three-quarters of a mile from the western end of the proposed bridge. Gee, I wonder what a $250 bridge linking a spec of an island to the mainland might do to the value of her land? I'm just guessing it would go up in value but that's just a guess. I also have a guess as to what Gov. Murkowski will do. Can you say "Murkowski Gravina Bridge?"

Getting back to Sen. Stevens. Oh please show us you're a man of your word and resign from the senate. Give Gov. Frank Murkowski's wife and Sen. Lisa Murkowski's mother Nancy Murkowski a chance to serve in the senate and show the country just how similar Republican cronyism looks like the corrupt family dictatorships around the world.

BONUS POSTING: Sen. Stevens also did his crime family party proud when he refused to force oil executives appearing before his committee to be placed under oath. Good thing since they apparently lied through their teeth about meeting with Vice- President Cheney in 2001 for his energy task force.

BONUS POSTING II: Wow. Take a look at this story about Rep. Kathrine Harris (R-Republic of JEB) and now U.S. Senate candidate who spent government money as Secretary of State in Florida to pay for "blessed holy water" to treat citrus canker. No word on whether another suggested treatment of swinging dead chickens over her head was used. Then read this and tell me if we're not only a step or two behind these loons who killed people because they thought they were witch doctors. Maybe the holy water and witch doctor killings are all part of the intelligent design.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

American Mullahs

A few days ago I pointed out the seeming similarities between the Iranians recently launching a new morality drive by confiscating alluring mannequins from boutiques and clothes stalls and Mullah Ashcroft as Attorney General putting clothes on topless statues because Heavens to Betsy they were, well, topless. The mullahs in America are at it again.

The local mullahs are trying to bring creationism back to the classroom and like religiously driven termites they will not stop until they have eaten away any rational and science based standards for our schools. Their true mission is to turn schools into evangelical ministries. When they show you who they are, believe them. They're proud of it. The Kansas school board has voted for creationism to be taught so that they can prepare their students for the high tech jobs of the 16th century. What is the matter with Kansas? Sounds like a good book title. At least in Dover, Pennsylvania all eight Republican school board creationists were thrown out and eight Democrats were voted in. And what did Mullah Pat Robertson say about Dover voters finding reason rather than religion to deal with science? "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city. ... God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever. ... If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them." What a nice man espousing a loving God and a loving philosophy.

Teach the controversy? How about teach science since there is no controversy that creationism is not only religion but ruled unconstitutional.

The federal mullahs have once again voted their religion over at the F.D.A. when top officials there "decided to reject an application to allow over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill [called Plan B] months before a government scientific review of the application was completed." The decision was described as "very, very rare" and "unprecedented" since the decision ignored the recommendation "of an independent advisory committee as well as the agency's own scientific review staff." And there's this, "From 1994 to 2004, F.D.A. advisory committees reviewed 23 applications to switch drugs from prescription to over-the-counter status. Plan B was the only one of those 23 in which the agency went against the committee's advice."

The full article is worth a read but I'll provide you with this gem of a paragraph:

"The letter [of protest by 18 House members] noted that Congressional investigators had been unable to uncover the role in the Plan B decision played by the former agency commissioner, Dr. Mark B. McClellan, [White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's brother] because agency officials told investigators that all of his e-mail messages and written correspondence on the subject had been deleted or thrown out. The Democrats charged that these acts contravened federal records laws." The "I don't recalls" or "there's on ongoing investigation" will coming next to put the cherry on top of this cover-up.

Add to this the religious opposition to an HVP vaccine and you start to see the immoral application of what the right-wingnuts call a moral religion that obvious favors pre-emptive war, tax breaks for billionaires, torture, force pregnancy to term for rape and incest victims and the needless deaths of woman from cervical cancer. That's some "religion."

And by the way, this is just the few examples of loons making science decisions based upon politics and their interpretation of their religion. What about all the things that have been and are being decided that we don't even know about?

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's easier to destroy than to create

When President John F. Kennedy's emissary, former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, asked French President Charles de Gaulle if he wanted to see the aerial photographs confirming the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, the normally difficult de Gaulle replied: "No, the word of the President of the United States is good enough for me."

Today we have former Secretary of State Colin Powell apologizing for the stain on his record for his pre-Iraq invasion presentation at the U.N. Remember this line, "My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence." Last year Powell said, "But it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and in some cases deliberately misleading and for that I am, I am disappointed and regret it." Boy, I'd love to see the garbage they didn't include in that speech. So would the Senate but don't hold your breath waiting for it. Apparently Scooter "innocent until proven guilty" Libby was a huge force in trying to stick Cheney's hand up Powell's colon to get him to say even more fraudulently manufactured intelligence during that speech but failed.

Why is this important besides some short term effect (if that) on some Congressional elections? Because it's not about that. It's like worrying about a company making it's profit numbers for the quarter without worrying about going bankrupt next year.

A front page story in the New York Times on the efforts to use intelligence to try to convince the world that Iran is actively building a nuclear weapons capability. Now even without an intelligence apparatus the Curmudgeon knows that Iran is working 24/7/365 to go nuclear. But my word isn't accepted in world capitals, although it should be. The NYT described senior American intelligence officials on a road show with what they claim is a stolen Iranian laptop computer filled with nuclear weapons building evidence. "The computer contained studies for crucial features of a nuclear warhead, said European and American officials who had examined the material, including a telltale sphere of detonators to trigger an atomic explosion. The documents specified a blast roughly 2,000 feet above a target - considered a prime altitude for a nuclear detonation." the Times wrote.

"Nonetheless, doubts about the intelligence persist among some foreign analysts. In part, that is because American officials, citing the need to protect their source, have largely refused to provide details of the origins of the laptop computer beyond saying that they obtained it in mid-2004 from a longtime contact in Iran." Maybe Ahmed Chalabi again? Who knows. It's as good a guess as anything.

And what does the world think of our intelligence now after Iraq? "I can fabricate that data," a senior European diplomat said of the documents. "It looks beautiful, but is open to doubt." After the faulty (translation: "dead wrong" not a "slam dunk" Iraq intelligence while, "few countries are willing to believe Iran's denials about nuclear arms, few are willing to accept the United States' weapons intelligence without question."

And even if the Iranian government admitted they are close to finishing a nuclear bomb they could also say about stopping them "you and who's army?" Not ours since it is stuck in Iraq and I doubt we could send 500,000 troops for some Operation Iranian Freedom. The cupboard is bare. This is true tragedy of what W and his capos have done. They have made sure we can't respond to the actual threats in the world, only the fabricated ones. And what's worse is that they can't even seem to defeat those.

Bonus Alert: Capt. Fogg clears away the fog here today. It's a must read. If I were him I'd just re-post today's rant for the next four days. Bravo Foggy.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Republicans support the troops?

This is too easy. I surf the net 25 hours a day looking for stories or headlines or blurbs that catch my eye. Sometimes it's just a headline that gives me an idea. Sometimes it's a quote that speaks for itself. Other times I can practically just reprint an article without comment to show how out of hand the people who run this country (right now the Republicans) really are. Yesterday was just such a day.

Keep in mind this is Veterans' Day, formerly known as Armistice Day in honor of WWI. It's a day to honor our veterans, their sacrifice and show gratitude for the freedoms they defended and secured. For most it's just a day off. So how did the mental pygmies in charge in D.C. spend the days before Veterans' Day? By taking some freedoms away from our vets.

On Tuesday — three days before Veterans Day — House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-IN) announced that for the first time in at least 55 years, “veterans service organizations will no longer have the opportunity to present testimony before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees.”

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the “official voice of America’s service-connected disabled veterans,” just issued a scathing release calling the move “an insult to all who have fought, sacrificed and died to defend the Constitution.” The timing, they said, “could not have been worse,” said DAV National Commander Paul W. Jackson.

For several decades now, these joint hearings have been held each year to allow the elected leaders of veterans groups to discuss their organization's legislative agenda and foremost concerns with the lawmakers who have jurisdiction over federal veterans programs. Senators and Representatives who serve on those committees also get the rare opportunity to address the hundreds of constituent members from these organizations' who make the annual pilgrimage to Capitol Hill.

"The right to fully participate in the democratic process is a cornerstone of our nation," said Commander Jackson. "Eliminating these joint hearings is an insult to the men and women who have fought, sacrificed and died to protect our Constitutional rights, including the right to petition the government."

What was that slogan the Republicans like to say? We support the troops? With support like this...

No word on whether Republican Rep. Buyer actually slapped each veteran individually when he did so figuratively with his new proposal.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Do I hear $9 million?

White House Press Briefing, Oct. 10, 2003:

Q: Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. SCOTT McCLELLAN: Those individuals -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.

Q: So none of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: They assured me that they were not involved in this.

Q: Can I follow up on that?

Q: They were not involved in what?

MR. McCLELLAN: The leaking of classified information.

Q: Did you undertake that on your own volition, or were you instructed to go to these --

MR. McCLELLAN: I spoke to those individuals myself.

During that same year:

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff "asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of a West African nation to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees to a Maryland company now under federal scrutiny," the New York Times reports. "The African leader, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Mr. Abramoff made the offer."

However, White House and State Department officials "described Mr. Bush's meeting with President Bongo, whose government is regularly accused by the United States of human rights abuses, as routine. The officials said they knew of no involvement by Mr. Abramoff in the arrangements."

No one's involved. No one recalls. No one was in the loop. No one broke the law. No one had any idea what was going on under them or outside their door. Your government at work and for sale. Selling CIA agents out to reporters and the Oval Office to despots. And you had a problem with $100,000 contributors sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom? Seems quaint by comparison.

W and his capos have sold anything of value away. Our environment, our moral standing, our principles, our freedoms, our economic future, our education, our health care, our national security assets, our military and our sense that we are all in this together. And we get to pay the bill for W's epic recklessness with supreme executive authority. I want a refund.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Out of context

There are a lot of quotes public people say that should begin, "I'd be insane to say..." but never do. Afterwards they always say, "It was taken out of context." Here is one from a couple of weeks ago courtesy of

Hillary Clinton's Senate opponent next year, Republican DA Jeanine Pirro, told Chemung County Republicans, "That's a difference between Democrats and Republicans - we don't want them next door molesting children and murdering women." Pirro's campaign manager Brian Donahue said, "This quote is out of context."

Any other "out of context" favorites out there you've seen? let me know.

BONUS UPDATE: Loyal readers of my blog will recall the computer hard drive crash and ensuing nightmare. Good news from the disk hospital. The geeks in white lab coats got the data off. If it happens to you, I recommend Data Recovery Group.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Welcome to the party pal

Well, well, well. So France has its own intifada going. For about two weeks in over 300 cities across France children of Arab and North African immigrants have rioted, burning over 2500 cars, many buildings and killed at least one person. After all the years of France, Europe and the European Union criticized Israel for their actions controlling rioters they have their own "uprising." Welcome to the party pal.

The riots started because of the accidental deaths of two teenagers who were running away from police and died when they unfortunately hid in a power transformer. In 1987 four Palestinians were accidentally killed in a car crash with an Israeli vehicle, but no matter, the Palestinians claimed it was intentional and the the first Palestinian uprising started. Israel imposed curfews, arrested hundreds, probably thousands and engaged in raids and various crowd control techniques all of which brought down the harsh diplomatic treatment from France and Europe. Really the whole world. Now it's France's turn.

France's Cabinet has approved emergency measures allowing local officials to impose curfews and allow police to carry out raids for suspected stockpiling of weapons. Hundreds of arrests have also been made.

I'm not going to argue that Arab and North African immigrants or their children have been treated well by French society. They haven't. Some of it is intentional some of it is a natural result of French culture. (a.k.a. snobbiness). But I wonder if France, and other countries affected by this breakdown of society, will pass United Nations Resolutions against themselves for their treatment of the rioters. Maybe the Israelis can bring it up. I'd at least like to see the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. walk over the France's representative and say, "See, I told you so." In any event, welcome to the party France.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The church of the IRS

Just in case you thought you lived in a country with a government that wasn't controlled by vengeful religious fanatics who use political power to destroy political opponents here's a reminder:

The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.

Rector J. Edwin Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena told many congregants during morning services Sunday that a guest sermon by the church's former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, on Oct. 31, 2004, had prompted a letter from the IRS.

In a sermon on Oct. 31, 2004, the church's former rector, Rev. George F. Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991's Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that "good people of profound faith" could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.

But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, "Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster."

On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church." The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections.

No word on and IRS warning or investigation into the East Waynesville Baptist Church in North Carolina where the pastor "led an effort to kick out congregants who didn't support President Bush." Nine members were later voted out at a church meeting.

During the presidential election last year, Pastor Chan Chandler told the congregation that anyone who planned to vote for Democratic Sen. John Kerry should either leave the church or repent.

After that maybe the IRS can look into Bishop Michael Sheridan the Roman Catholic Bishop of Colorado Springs, Colorado. During the 2004 presidential election the Bishop pronounced that Catholics who vote for politicians in favor of abortion rights, stem-cell research, euthanasia or gay marriage may not receive Communion until they recant and repent in the confessional. Gee, I wonder if he was trying to influence Catholics during a presidential election. I can't remember whether Kerry supported abortions rights or stem-cell research. I wonder who Bishop Sheridan voted for in 2004.

Then there was Charleston, South Carolina Bishop Robert J. Baker who declared that Catholics in public life, especially elected ones, who didn't support church teaching on the sanctity of human life are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. A minister in the diocese turned away a church member from receiving communion because he was wearing a "John Kerry for President" button to the Communion rail. Bishop Baker was upset not because of the incident only that he hadn't made the decision to turn away the church member. "No one else may make a decision regarding whether or not a person should be admitted to holy Communion. That determination is reserved to me personally." said Baker.

Of course Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley had issued a statement before the 2004 election declaring, "A Catholic politician who holds a public, pro-choice position should not be receiving Communion and should refrain from doing so." No word on whether the IRS is looking into this.

Nor on whether the Catholic church has any similar position on politicians who support the death penalty or pre-emptive war. I know Jesus did.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Prayers for 1s and 0s

On Wednesday I heard the words from my wife, Cranky's Wife, that turned my blood even colder than it is normally. No, not "I'm leaving you for another woman" or "the dog destroyed your comic book collection" which really would give me pause since I don't have a dog. No, I heard the words, "My computer crashed and it won't start up again." At first it might not be serious but that's like saying "I have chest pains and my left arm hurts but I'll probably be fine."

As I am Cranky's Wife's technical support and recommended an Apple laptop in the first place to avoid computer problems like this it became my problem. (In fairness it was the Hitachi hard drive that failed.) I get home and yep, it seems not totally dead as its display lights up, that's something right? More like verklempt. I call Apple Care support and they run me through a few boot up methods that show promise but the computer won't start. Last chance seems to be to try plugging it into my computer to access the hard drive where Cranky's Wife's data (translation: life) is stored. No luck in "target disk mode." When I tell Cranky's Wife of the coma her computer is in she breaks down like I told her W just got re-elected to a third term. It's not a pretty sight. Tears and snot everywhere.

There is one last medical procedure I tell her. The Apple store will remove the hard drive and try to plug it in and get data. I feel like a doctor giving hope to a loved one or a Senate Majority Leader who shall remain nameless (Bill First) who gave Terry Schiavo's parents hope in a craven and disgraceful way. But I actually examined my patient unlike Sen. Frist.

Next morning the word comes from Apple store. No luck. More tears and snot from Cranky's Wife. I feel a little queasy too but that just may have been the chili from the night before speaking up. Apple did offer to replace the hard drive, how nice! That's like offering to replace my old wallet filled with hundred dollar bills with a new empty wallet. I resisted pulling Mr. Apple store's heart out through his chest.

No problem you say. Just crack out your back-up data. You do back up data right? Um. Well. We, and when I say "we" I mean "Cranky's Wife" backed up data a little infrequently. Sort of like...oh never mind. Even though I had her data from eight days ago when I told her I might well have just said eight years ago. More tears. A little less snot.

While Cranky's wife is going through the first four stages of the five stages of grief: denial,anger, bargaining, depression, she is approaching the fifth stage, acceptance, but I hold out hope. For a ridiculous amount of money guys in clean rooms and white jumpsuits can most likely get the data off the hard drive. Prices are anywhere from $500 to $8,900 (for round the clock weekend service) and they can't promise you'll get you data back. I bubble wrap the hard drive and Fedex it to a NASA-like clean room in California. I confuse the Kinkos/Fedex customers when I drop to my knees and chant prayers for the resurrection -- of 60 gigabytes of ones and zeros that is.

I tell Cranky's Wife there is a good chance she'll get the data back. Am I being cruel to offer hope again? Is this the Gore or Kerry may still win type of hope? We'll know soon. I'm hoping the data retrievers count the computer data better than Diebold.

I retreat to my office where I promptly back up every scrap of computer data onto my external hard drive, upload my data to Apple's "dot mac" servers and burn a couple of data dvds for the safety deposit box. I then order an external hard drive for Cranky's Wife (about $100) which would have prevented all of this epic nightmare. Sort of like when they strap you in the ambulance gurney after you failed to use your seatbelt. Ironic huh? But as great philosopher or William Shatner in "Airplane 2" who once said, "Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

CIA - Un-American?

When you're walking in a nest of rattlesnakes don't hop. That's what Joe Wilson did when he went public on July 6, 2003 in the pages of the New York Times. Wilson wrote an op-ed piece entitle, "What I didn't find in Africa." It's worth a re-read or a first read because most of what you've heard by the Rovites are pure and simple lies.

Wilson has never claimed Vice President Dick Cheney sent him on the mission. He wrote, "In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report." The report was on a reported documented sale of uranium yellowcake. If the White House had questions that doesn't mean President Bush. And on CNN Wilson was extremely clear, although the RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman deliberately fabricated quotes to try to prove the opposite, when he said:

WILSON: Well, look, it's absolutely true that neither the vice president nor Dr. Rice nor even George Tenet knew that I was traveling to Niger.

What they did, what the office of the vice president did, and, in fact, I believe now from Mr. Libby's statement, it was probably the vice president himself...

BLITZER: Scooter Libby is the chief of staff for the vice president.

WILSON: Scooter Libby. They asked essentially that we follow up on this report -- that the agency follow up on the report. So it was a question that went to the CIA briefer from the Office of the Vice President. The CIA, at the operational level, made a determination that the best way to answer this serious question was to send somebody out there who knew something about both the uranium business and those Niger officials that were in office at the time these reported documents were executed.

But the Republican vipers keep telling you objective and provable lies and smile when they do it. The outright fabrication of what Wilson did, said, concluded or who sent him is to be expected from the right-wing loons now running this country. But claiming the CIA is "Un-American?" Who could say that? What nut said that? Why, whoever said that must have been on drugs, insane or both. I'm going with both.

Yet according to "I've got a Rush from the oxycontin Limbaugh," the CIA, yes, read it again, the CIA is working against America. After asking twice in less than a minute whether Wilson committed treason, Oxycontin-boy on his third divorce mused that the CIA was working against the war effort. (By the way, treason is basically impossible to commit under the strict construction and specific terms of the original U.S. Constitution. It says, "No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court." That's why people are charged with espionage rather than treason and why Rush exposes himself as an idiot and a liar once again.)

Moving on.

So El Rush-bo continues and actually says, "[Wilson's] initial verbal report confirmed what the CIA knew at the time. You still can't convince me, by the way, that this whole thing is not a CIA-hatched plot to destroy Bush, undermine the war effort, and all that."

You can't improve on that. It speaks for itself. The enemies list just got larger by one Francis. The CIA. Amazing how many treasonous people and traitorous intelligence agencies there are working for the U.S. Government. If we only had some stem cells of Joe McCarthy we could clone him and his list of communists in the government and really protect Americans.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What's in your wallet?

On April 9, 1865 General Robert E. Lee and Major General Ulysses S. Grant met shortly after noon at the home of Wilmer McClean in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all United States forces, hastened the conclusion of the Civil War.

On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. and died the next morning. When Lincoln was shot he was carrying two pairs of spectacles and a lens polisher, a pocketknife, a watch holder, called a fob, a linen handkerchief, and a brown leather wallet containing a five-dollar Confederate note (yes, a Confederate note and no, no one knows why) and nine newspaper clippings. The newspaper clippings were two articles about ending slavery in Missouri, one about disaffection among Southern soldiers, praise from a British reformer, a newspaper lamenting (three years in advance!) no person as capable as Lincoln to become president in 1868 stating "none impress the people as being so well entitled to the next term of four years as the man who has so faithfully guided the republic through the terrible storms of civil war." Another clipping was a reprinting of a letter from a Confederate conscript to Jefferson Davis and still another was Sherman's orders for his march to the sea. Finally there was an article about what Lincoln, Johnson and the country stood for.

Every now and then an article reviews what was in Lincoln's pockets when he was shot. The Confederate money is a mystery to this day. Articles praising him and Confederate President Jefferson Davies are also interesting. Carrying a clipping of disaffected Southern soldiers might have been a constant reminder of the work needed to heal the nation. Who knows? What is does show is that Lincoln read newspapers and clipped articles that praised him as well as the South. It showed he was following the vote for Emancipation in Missouri carefully and that his mind was on how to turn a defeated and miserable South back into a United States of America. It shows that Lincoln was a thoughtful, complex and aware of opposing views. In fact he sought them out, clipped them from newspapers and carried them with him.

Why the history lesson?

On Tuesday an Argentine reporter asked W to reveal the contents of his pockets during an interview. The president stood up, fished in his pockets, and pulled out his hands holding nothing but a white handkerchief that he waved playfully in the air. "Es todo," Bush said in Spanish meaning that's all. The great emancipator of money to Halliburton added, "No dinero, no mas. No wallet." Since he's proud to proclaim he doesn't read newspapers, carrying clippings was a longshot.

But what W carries, or in this case what he doesn't carry is very revealing. W's pockets are as empty as his policies, the U.S. Treasury and his promise to be a uniter rather a divider. Waving a white handkerchief, the sign of surrender, is fitting for a guy who has surrendered the Republican party and the nation to religious fanatics who pockets are filled with Bibles, guns and federal dollars. That's the solution for them always. More guns and more Jesus. Oh I wish Lincoln were running in 2008. I'd vote Republican.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Religion - the opiate of those in charge

October 31, 2005 -- Police in northeastern Iran are launching a new morality drive by confiscating alluring mannequins from boutiques and clothes stalls in the bazaar, authorities in the city of Bojnourd said Monday.

A spokesman for the city's judiciary, who asked not be named, explained the drive would tackle problems of "public chastity." He said 65 mannequins have been impounded so far.

January 29, 2002 -- Ayatollah General John Ashcroft orders, at a cost of $8,000 of taxpayers' money, blue drapes to hide two semi-nude statues to prevent cameras from photographing him standing in front of them when giving press conferences.

America - Leading the world in religious fanatics running governments.

RELATED BONUS POSTING: A new vaccine protects against strains of a ubiquitous germ called the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which cause cervical cancer that strikes 10,000 U.S. women each year, killing more than 3,700. It's mandatory use is, of course, opposed by social conservatives (translation: religious right) who say immunizing teen-agers could encourage sexual activity. The vaccine appears to be virtually 100 percent effective against two of the most common cancer-causing HPV strains. As Andrew Sullivan puts it: The theocons don't want to reduce the chances of getting STDs, because they fear it might make having sex less dangerous - and so encourage more people to be sexually active. I'm not making this up. Cervical cancer kills more than 3,700 women a year. Acquiescing in these deaths is now part of the "culture of life."

Voting for Republicans gives supreme executive authority to these religious fanatics. Not the ones in Iran but sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Creationism, morning after pill, Terry Schiavo, abortion, 10 Commandments, prayer in school, pledge of allegiance under god, government funding of "faith based" groups, pharmacists claiming religious reasons to not dispense birth control or RU-486. This is who the Republicans are. Believe them when they tell you who they are. They're proud of it. They believe they are divinely guided. Is it really worth that tax cut for capital gains and dividends?