Wednesday, May 31, 2006

GIGO - Garbage in, garbage out

Last week a Canadian newspaper, The National Post, published an erroneous story claiming that an Iranian law would require Jews and Christians to wear badges identifying them as religiois minorities. Today that same paper apologized for the error. The story was repeated and although the Iranians do evil and immoral activities on a daily basis, they didn't do this. (Yet?). The false story brought immediate comparisons between Iran and Nazi Germany when Jews were forced to wear a yellow star identifying them as Jews.

The United States criticized the proposed clothing law. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, a Jewish human rights group, sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan asking him to investigate. Iranian officials labeled the newspaper account a lie, and this time their claims were actually true, the story was false.

Douglas Kelly, editor-in-chief of the National Post, ran a lengthy column explaining that the story was based on a column by Amir Taheri, an Iranian author and journalist, and two expatriate Iranians living in Canada.

"We acknowledge that on this story, we did not exercise sufficient caution and skepticism, and we did not check with enough sources," Kelly wrote. "We apologize for the mistake and for the consternation it has caused not just National Post readers, but the broader public who read the story."

Any comment from Taheri who came up with this fabricated story? Any thoughts from him on the bad or faulty intelligence he got? Any mea culpa from Taheri? He probably was too busy meeting with the President, yes our President W, at the White House as one of a small group of "experts" on Iraq. Is it any wonder our government makes bad decisions?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

"Researchers say they are rapidly closing in on new types of materials that can throw a cloak of invisibility around objects, fulfilling a fantasy that is as old as ancient myths and as young as "Star Trek" and the Harry Potter novels." I wish I could put a cloak of invisibility over most of the news stories I get assaulted with every morning. The latest story that takes us one step closer to the type of government you see in the sci-fi movies, you know the ones that are all-powerful, all-controlling and doesn't tolerate any criticism or opposition to it, is from the Supreme Court.

We know that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales thinks the government should throw journalists in jail for reporting what the government deems classified. That means that any criminal conduct by the government, buggings, cover-ups, bribes, IRS audits of political enemies, (sound familiar) could be deemed classified, and it would be illegal to report on it. I guess all that "original intent/strict constructionist" talk, as in "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," needed an asterick. *Except for information we deem "classified" meaning those stories we deem politically damaging. So the war on terror is now a war on journalists who, by a plain reading the U.S. Constitution, are supposed to enjoy no law abridging their freedom of speech and the press. Now the war on information damaging to the government has expanded and has another causalty - government whistleblowers.

In a 5-4 decision to make any future (and current) repressive government happy, the Supreme Court said the nation's 20 million public employess do not have free speech rights to disclose government's inner workings. That fighter for the little guy, Samuel Alito cast the tie-breaking vote. The case arose from a memo a Los Angeles district attorney wrote questioning whether a county sheriff's deputy had lied in a search warrant affidavit. He claims he was demoted and denied a promotion for trying to expose the lie. He lost. So now it you are not in government as a member of the press, and try to expose how government is working you can be thrown in jail and if you are in the government and try to expose its malfeasance you can be fired or perhaps, this probably comes next, thrown in jail.

I'm sure there are people out there, proably a lot, who think all this is fine. I though we are fighting Al Qaeda and other tyrants because they hate us for our freedoms. That they are trying to take away our freedoms. They don't have to. We are doing it ourselves. Slowly, systematically, routinely and without any hue or cry from those more interested in what's on the sports page rather the front page. I'm going to go on Ebay now to look for that invisibility cloak.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Miss Steaks

Answering question at a joint press conference, W and his poodle, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, acknowledged that the war in Iraq hasn't gone as smoothly as they had hoped. Not "smoothly?" Really? And other than that Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?

Bush said at the White House, "Despite setbacks and missteps, I strongly believe we did and are doing the right thing." A misstep is something that bad tango dancers do. What W and his council of yes-men and yes-Condi did can be summed up in a highly technical term - "screwed the pouch." W said he has learned not to use so much "tough talk" - saying Osama bin Laden was wanted "dead or alive" and challenging America's enemies to "bring it on." "I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner, you know," Bush said softly. W also said that as a result of the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison the U.S. has been paying for that for a long time. Well, not everyone since no one in the Defense Department lost their job.

Blair said the leaders did not accurately predict immense challenges such as the strength of the insurgency. "It should have been very obvious to us," the prime minister said. Blair added, "I think it's easy to go back over mistakes that we may have made, but the biggest reason why Iraq has been difficult is the determination by our opponents to defeat us." Maybe they just didn't get the Cheney memo about the U.S. being "greeted as liberators." Bush conceded that everything has not always gone as planned, especially after "liberation," but he insisted, "We've learned from our mistakes, adjusted our methods and have built on our successes."

After admitting mistakes W said that he made a mistake admitting those mistakes and that he wouldn't make that mistake again. Unless he was mistaken.

BONUS MEMORIAL DAY POSTING: I'm going to grill this weekend. Wish my guests luck. Also pray that my propane gas tank doesn't run out in the middle of the grilling otherwise I'll be particularly cranky when I see you here next tuesday. Adios.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tossed salads on the menu

I have to be having a better day then Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. The former CEO and Chairman of Enron just got found guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud, making false statements. (Skilling was found not guilty of insider trading, woohoo.) While they have the benefit of appeals this will turn into years on jail at sentencing. For Skilling he faces a maximum of 175 years in prison. Lay gets off easy and "only" faces 165 years of incarceration. The Enron workers who lost their life savings must have a little bit of satisfaction that the two top guys were found guilty.

So I waited to hear the verdict before I grab my newspaper and get some lunch. Unless I get convicted in federal court on my way to get a sandwich I have to be having a better day than those two. So while I am ordering a tossed salad for lunch, Lay (how unfortunate a name) and Skilling will have to try to avoid them for around 165 to 175 years.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Global pandemic winging its way here

I paused in my trips to Costco to stock up for the coming global pandemic but not anymore. As I wrote before, "I laughed in 1999 when I heard about the Y2K nonsense. I even had one friend who stocked up on food and water because he thought the world would shut down at midnight on New Year's Eve 2000. Of course he was wrong. But this time it's different. That's why I've already made a few trips to Costco to stock up. If a bird flu pandemic, human to human transmission, hits anywhere there will be a global impact, a global slow or shut down of the supply chain. Borders will close." I started this bird flu watch and self-imposed level 10 panic a long time ago. And guess what? I might actually be right.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, six members of one family died from the bird flu and initial reports are that this was a human to human transfer. So far, investigators know that a 37-year old woman, appeared to have been the first to become ill at the end of April. She died in early May. This woman had hosted a family pork roast barbeque on April 29. (I wasn't invited). She had become sick on April 27 and was coughing heavily and several family members slept in her small room. Six more family members who were at the barbeque became sick in the first week of may and five of them died in the second week of May. Threee of the confirmed cases spent the night of 29 April in a small room together with the initial case at a time when she was symptomatic and coughing frequently,'' the WHO Web statement on Tuesday reads. This could mean a double or even a triple jump (human to human to human) of the bird flu.

So first I'm going to re-institute my caravan of trips to and from Costco to prepare and I'm also going to check everyone for the bird flu coming to my Memorial Day barbeque. Please bring your complete medical records and a vial of your blood. I wonder how difficult it will be to eat hamburgers and corn wearing latex gloves and surgical masks.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More search warrants, not less

The FBI executed a search warrant and searched the congressional office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) who is under investigation for bribery and felony stupidity for reportedly taking $100,000 from an FBI informant and then hiding the money in his freezer. Didn't hide it too well since the FBI found it when they searched his house. Did I mention the genius is a Harvard Law grad? Maybe if I showed a penchant for crime Harvard would have let me in.

Speaker of the House Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said the Justice Department crossed the line that separates Congress from the executive branch by conducting the search. Basically he and the other members of Congress, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), are saying we police our own so don't bring your warrants and fancy legal documents down here. We'll take care of things ourselves. Sort of like The Sopranos with the New York and New Jersey crime families only this one with Democrats and Republicans. Now, I am not equating the institutional corruption the Republicans have raised to a world-class standard to one idiotic congressman hiding $90,000 in his freezer. Jefferson is a jaywalker compared to the crime bosses in the Republican party. Don't get me wrong, I think if Jefferson is indicted the House should, as they can, vote him out of the Congress with a two-thirds vote. If convicted I think he should be put in jail for life. I have zero tolerence for public corruption. What I find interesting is that of all the cases Attorney General Alberto Gonzales could have approved a search warrant it was for a Democratic Congressman. Where was the search warrant for Republican Duke Cunningham who is sitting in prison right now after taking over $2.5 million in bribes and had a menu for selling legislation. What about Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay? Where was the warrant for searching his office? Or for Republican Rep. John Dolittle or Republican Rep. Bob Ney or Republican Rep. Richard Pombo? Or the handful of other Republican Congressman who might go from being "Official A" to prisoner number 23456721? From the golf course to a criminal court.

So I'm for more search warrants being executed in the halls of Congress. We are at war people. Haven't you heard? We cannot tolerate this public corruption. They might even be selling their office to terrorists. So I say more search warrants, not less. Hey, forget about the constitutional issues of separation of powers. Give them credit. At least they are using a warrant. That's a step up for this administration.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Government is about helping's just the lawmakers go first

With millions in economic crisis the Congress voted themselves a quadrupling of their salaries. "They are greedy," said a computer programmer, "They are out only for themselves." After coming into office they promised to reform an out-of-touch government. Their very first vote was to quadruple their annual salaries. "Then they really got to work, voting to give themselves low-interest car and home loans, generous health insurance and retirement packages." The salaries for the legislators are tax-free plus there are "a variety of allowances and perks, which can effectively double their take-home pay." Said one critic, "They want to make as much money as they can."

"The latest increase...nearly doubled the mileage allowances that lawmakers receive for their Mercedeses, Land Rovers and other typically sleek rides. They will now receive a monthly lump sum of $4,719 to cover" the miles they drive. "To get the car allowances, the legislators threatened to block a vote on the government's budget plan." Shortly after that the lawmakers increased their "constituency development funds," money that is used "to dole out money for projects close to home." The funds have been criticized as pork projects.

"People aern't fools," the speaker said. "People follow what they do, and if they don't stay in line with their constituents they will not be re-elected." Many of the lawmakers "believe they are short-timers, which is why they are feathering their nests as much as they can, while they can."

The Republican Congress at work? No, it's going on in Kenya. But Washington, D.C. is looking a lot more like Nairobi (or Nairobi like D.C.?) these days and it's hard to tell the difference. It fits in nicely with the banana republic declaration by W saying, "I'm the Decider!" Had enough yet? Vote November 7. Vote Democrat. Maybe the Republicans can find a new elected job in Kenya's parliment. They already have the training for the Olympic levels of greed and corruption going on there.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Bill of rights, end slavery and no gay marriage

The mental patients in charge of the Congress are at it again. This week they have met behind closed doors to draft a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Apparently, marriage is under attack and must be defended. Actually, it only is under attack every two years in an election year. The disgrace of a senator, Sen. Arlen ("Magic Bullet") Specter (R-PA) says he is against the amendment but he is going to vote for it so the senate can debate it fully.

Specter and his Republican nuts know this amendment won't pass. But that's not the point is it. It is going to provide the religious right and other nutjobs the political red meat to energize their base for the November election. This is on top of the Republicans pushing the English as official language bill. This is what they're working on? I realize this is an election year and a political tsunami is coming to whack Republican island but this is ridiculous. How about a hearing or two on the use pre-9/11 intelligence? How about a couple on the legality of NSA spying programs? How about fixing Medicare Part D? How about finding out why New Orleans and the Gulf Coast still look like Hiroshima? Gay marriage and English only? What a low even for the low standards of Washington. And as it has been widely reported Specter, with Karl Rove's hand up his ass like the puppet he is, held the gay marriage amendment mark-up in a private closed door room so the public couldn't see the insanity play out in full view. Secret government meetings to amend the U.S. Constitution to single out citizens for discrimination. Another embarrassment for the nation brought to you by your friendly Republican party.

You know what threatens marriage - unemployment, chronic illnesses and no health insurance, financial pressures, care for elderly parents or family members with life-impairing diseases - all things the Republican Congress could work on. But they would rather offer hate and divisiveness to waste time until they have to face voters in November. Let's hope for many of the Republican's it's the last time they are on a ballot.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Maybe Darwin was wrong

I don't know if Barry and Melissa Collins are poor or not but they are, in my opinion, out of their minds. And so is their county and state, and any county or state for that matter, that allows people to own jungle animals that can eat you. The Collins family live in a small town in Applaliachian, Melvin, Kentucky and a three years ago thought it would be really cute to buy a 5-pound lion cub at a flea market and bring it home. Did they run out of geniune imitation Prada bags to buy? All out of King Cobras? What kind of flea market is this? They actually sell fleas but they are on the fur of the wild jungle cats so it's kind of a package deal. Now "Kitty" as the over 400-pound beast with full mane is called, spends its days walking back and forth around a 300-square-foot chain-link cage.

The neighbors, whose houses are separated by just afew yards, don't think of it a beloved pet but rather as a "frightening menace." They want county officials to ban animals deemed "inherently dangerous" by the state. While the county is at it why don't they ban "inherently idioctic" people.

"I think it needs to be in a different environment," said Pauline Hall, who lives three houses from the Collins family. "Everybody here keeps their guns loaded."

"He's not bothering nobody," Barry Collins said. And he won't until he uses the neighborhood kids as snacks. Then you'll here Barry saying, "He is a very gentle animal. He must have been provoked." When asked whether he thought Kitty was inherently dangerous, Collins said any pet can behave unpredictably and that he doesn't feel the lion is a threat to his boys, ages 5 and 1, or 3-year-old daughter. Yes, but when Rover behaves unpredictably he might bury a bone not rip them from your body.

So maybe Darwin was wrong. Maybe the county law there should be changed to require that people who want to keep inherently dangerous animals as pets can do so but only if they have to room with them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

George W. ("Basil") Fawlty

Watching W and his entourage of "yes men" on t.v. is like watching an endless episode of Fawlty Towers. On CNN when asked if his Mexican grandparents settled in the U.S. legally, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said, "It's unclear." Translation: "No." At least he didn't answer, "I am from Barcelona."

When asked about the latest, but not the last, NSA spying program invading the privacy of Americans, W's boys and girls refused to confirm or deny anything. In other words, they protected their right to privacy or to their right to the privacy of the anti-privacy spying program. Something you can't do - unless you've got something to hide perhaps?

Then there was reporting on how House GOP members complaining of "reports of wiretaps, searches on Congressional grounds, open-ended document requests and demands to interview committee aides" coming from federal prosecutors. So the House Republicans who actually do have things to hide are complaining of an over intrusive federal government acting perhaps outside the law to investigate them. We know most every law doesn't apply to Congress I guess they also don't want the criminal laws to apply either.

So instead of watching Fawlty Towers again tonight, I'll just watch cable news. It's just as farcical.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sugar coating a turd blossom

Now they just lie and insult you right to your face. Before they would simply lie to you, "when we talk about wiretaps we are talking about a court order, a warrant," "no domestic surveillance is going on," "we do not torture," and dare you to find the truth. Of course when the truth was reported in the papers then the reporters became one notch below (above?) "enemy combatant."

Yesterday, the hopefully soon to be indicted Karl ("turd blossom") Rove gave a speech, more like a sugar coating of poop demonstration at the American Enterprise Institute. At the demonstration Rove explained that "People like this president...they're just sour right now on the war." Translation: They would love to tailgate with the guy but don't want him in charge of the military or foreign policy. Rove went on to trickle down on the legs of people by saying, "The reality is, the tax cuts have helped make the U.S. economy the strongest in the world." The taxs cuts he's talking about just gave people making over $1,000,000 a year in income a $42,000 tax cut (the middle class got about $42) and this week W will sign into law "an extraordinary deal for high-income people" to convert taxable IRAs into tax-free IRAs. All they have to do is pay $1 in taxes to save $3.50 in taxes later. This will generate $6.4 billion in increased revenues in the short term but cost the government $53.3 billion through 2049. Of course it's all financed through borrowing and added to the government's interest expense. Remember, it's the little people without lobbyists who pay taxes.

Rove then proceeded to accuse the news media of being too fixated on polls. "I love this mania which has swept through American media today which substitutes polls for coverage of substance," he said. Oh, so Rove is against polls and polling, o.k. Got it. "There's, I'm sure, going to be a special Betty Ford addiction for those that are addicted to regular poll numbers, but you'll work your way through it," he said, referring to the former first lady's clinic for treating substance abuse. Confirmed. Rove is against polls and polling. The just as fast as Ken Lay went from "Kenny-boy" to "who?" Rove said that despite low approval ratings, "I'm sanguine...I know our own polls." So polls are bad and you need a stay at rehab to brake your fealty to polls but our polls say something different and I believe them.

Maybe it's the stress of an indictment hanging over your head. Let me check again, nope, not yet. Maybe it's the confidence that not matter what you say no one in the press will call you on it. Maybe "Bush's brain" had a lobotomy. Whatever it is it's another classic example of W and his gang lying to your face while smiling. That's all they have at this point. That and the fact that W is a real likable guy just not someone people want running the country.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Say hello to $6.79 a gallon gas

I spent a week in Florida and I survived. Saw more than a few Confederate flags on car licenese plate holders and hanging from rear view mirrors. Traveling with crankyjr went well. They should give a Nobel Prize for the inventor of the portable dvd player. Having the bulkhead seats right behind first class on the way down was also a big help. I had a couple of moments that normally would have made me even more crankier than normal but I was on vacation so I just had to laugh.

We ordered an airport taxi service to take us to the airport. I had a coupon for $4.00 off the fare and when we got to O'Hare I said to the driver, "How much?" He said, "$35.00." I then said, "I have a coupon for $4.00 off!" He looked at the coupon and said, "O.k. you had a stationwagon, o.k. $35.00 plus the coupon." I had to laugh. And I didn't get into an argument and paid the dude plus a $4.00 reduced tip. Then I got to the skycap guy. "How may bags?" he asked. "Three," I said. He put the tags on them and I gave him a five dollar bill. He looked at me and said, "Uh, American Airlines charges us $2.00 a bag and then you can give us whatever you want above that." I had to laugh again. What a nickel and dime rip-off this trip was becoming. So I gave him six more dollars and dragged cranky's wife and crankyjr and car seat into the terminal.

I get to the car rental agency, no names please, Hertz, and get my car. They offer two options for replacing the gas you use. You can pay $3.09 per gallon for the entire tank (around $36.00) no matter how much gas is left or you can be charged $6.79 per gallon for the actually gas needed to fill it up when you return it. My plan was to fill it up myself and return it. Of course, that assumes I am traveling alone without delays generated by dragging a three-year-old to the airport at 7 a.m. On departure day we ran behind, naturally, and I got to Hertz with a couple gallons light. That will be $6.79 a gallon sir and a charge for $15.68 was added to my bill for returing the car with 7/8 of a tank of gas left. Nothing I could do but laugh and hop on the shuttle bus to the terminal.

Gas at $3.00 a gallon seems cheap to me right now back home. But if reports of three aircraft carrier groups being placed near Iran are true we could see $6.79 a gallon at a pump near you and not just at the airport.

BONUS QUOTE OF THE DAY: From Andrew "One thing the Bush administration says it can do with this [NSA] meta-data-[gathering] is to start tapping your calls and listening in, without getting a warrant from anyone. Having listened in on your calls, the administration asserts that if it doesn't like what it hears, it has the authority to detain you indefinitely without trial or charges, torture you until you confess or implicate others, extradite you to a Third World country to be tortured, ship you to a secret prison facility in Eastern Europe, or all of the above. If, having kidnapped and tortured you, the administration determines you were innocent after all, you'll be dumped without papers somewhere in Albania left to fend for yourself," - Matt Yglesias, American Prospect. Apart from that, American liberty is alive and well.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Civil liberties when they're civil!

That's the attitude of the President and his men. Civil liberties when people are civil. Since the war on terror will never end civil liberties will never be as robust as they were before 9/11. You don't really know what you have until it's gone. I used to go a local chinese restaurant for years. Then one day it was closed up and cleaned out. One of the worst days in my cranky life. The same is happening with your civil rights, your individual freedoms and if you believe the polls (I don't) people are happy to not be bothered by the slow death of their freedoms.

Do you think power mad theocrats say, "We are now going to take away you rights so the government, that is us, can protect you from evil-doers. Yes we become a country governed by the whims of men and not laws but hey if someone has to have absolute power it might as well be us." No. The death of liberty in free societies happens slowly and by secret decree. Sometimes public decrees which are all based on the argument that it's just a temporary situation and when things go back to the way they were then the rights will be restored. They won't. No government or agency willingly gives up power or budget authority. People become desensitized. It becomes the norm for cameras to record you all day or spy agencies to listen into your phone calls or FBI agents to read through your tax records, medical records and credit card receipts. If you asked people "would you allow random searches of you, your car, your house and your office if it would stop another 9/11 attack would you agree to it?" I'm sure a majority would say, "yes." That's the sadness of it all. People don't know what they have until they don't have it anymore. And then it's too late. You can't go back. And W and his goons only go forward into a future without real laws you can actually look up in black and white to know what the rules are. They just make the rules up as they go along.

Ask yourself another question. If The Bill of Rights were brought up for a vote today would W and his Republican lackeys in Congress support them or just half of the Second Amendment? Losing my Chinese restaurant was traumatic enough. My right to be left alone by the government to read, write, blog, talk, watch, spend and travel where I want is non-negotiable. I guess extremism in the pursuit of liberty really is a vice. It's the vice of the Vice, W and the Republicans who would support anything they want to do including giving them a line-item veto of the U.S. Constitution. Remember W telling us endlessly that "they hate us for our freedoms?" Apparently W hates us for our freedoms too.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

You say spying I say war on terror

This is basically the unedited story lifted from CNN. Hard to improve on this. For the fringe minority that still supports W with rapturous delight thanks for ruining America.

President Bush said Thursday the government is "not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans" with a reported program to create a massive database of U.S. phone calls. In fact, USA Today has reported that three telecommunications companies, AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, provided the NSA with domestic telephone call records from millions of Americans beginning shortly after the 9/11 attacks. I guess it depends on what you mean by "trolling through the personal lives of millions." If it were East Germany during the cold war then it was spying on their own people. If "The Decider" does it it's for national security reasons.

"Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates," Bush said. "The privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities." Except when you pick up a phone and make a call. Focusing on Al Qaeda and millions of wiretapped calls. Gee. I didn't realize there were millions of Al Qaeda in America. Maybe the Republicans aren't as good at national security and homeland security as they claim to be.

Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona faulted the revelation of the program as harmful to national security. "This is nuts," Kyl said. "We are in a war and we've go to collect intelligence on the enemy and you can't tell the enemy in advance how you are going to do it. And discussing all of this in public leads to that."

We are war. The war will never end. There are more Bushes to back for president. The powers of the government will only increase because national security demands it. Individual rights will diminish and be secondary to the good of the nation. And corporations, who depend on the government to not regulate them out of business will go along with anything so that $400 million retirement packages for CEOs can continue. On top of that the new nominee for CIA, Gen. Michael Hayden the former NSA head who made sure all of the domestic spying happened probably got even more support from Republicans after this USA Today story. Just what the Republicans want at CIA. A guy who will do what the party wants not what the Constitution demands. I should have stayed on the golf course where reality is suspended if only for a few hours.

BONUS BIRTHDAY POST: Happy Birthday to Diane M. in NYC. Happy 30th!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Monarch and Theocracy Wednesday

Still playing golf and swimming down down in JEB country who, by the way, would be a "great president" according to W. The current Monarch Bush suggested Wednesday that he'd like to see his family's White House legacy continue, perhaps with his younger brother Jeb as the chief executive. The president said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is well-suited for another office and would make "a great president." Remember this prediction is coming from a guy whose approval ratings are lower than the percentage of people who believe Elvis is still alive. But no matter. The government and the country have become merely a malfunctioning family business that awaits the next Bushie to simply declare, "I'm sort of bored. Maybe being president will give me something to do. Besides, I know it's what god wants."

After that cheery news that America, Inc. was grooming another CEO from the shallow end of the Bush gene pool, I caught two other stories that tell you all you need to know about where the state of the Republican Theocracy is today. Kelly Romenesko was teaching French at two Roman Catholic schools in Appleton when she and her husband decided to start a family using in vitro fertilization. After asking for some time off in September 2004 to complete the procedure, the lifelong Catholic gave her boss an update about a month later: She was pregnant. But only days after that, she said, she got a pink slip by the Catholic school system. Administrators, according to her lawyer James C. Jones, claimed Romenesko violated a provision of her employment contract saying a teacher has to act in accordance with Catholic doctrine.

Catholic teaching holds that the procedure is morally wrong because it replaces the "natural" conjugal union between husband and wife and often results in destruction of embryos. Even though Jones said the couple used their own eggs and sperm and none of the embryos were destroyed in the process, the church forbids such donations and condemns all forms of experimentation on human embryos.

Then there was this happy story of lawsuit fighting for states' rights. Unfortunately the right Wyoming is suing the federal government for is for allowing people who have misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence to win back their right to own guns. Wyoming was "thoughtful" enough to disallow people with misdemeanor convictions if it involved the use or attempted use of a firearm.

So the moral of the story is that the rightwing Republican Talibans running this country think it's o.k. to own a gun if you've just physically beat your wife but not if you merely threatened her with a gun, loaded or unloaded, but it's not o.k. to have a baby through in vitro fertilization and keep your job. It is of course eternally o.k. to have a Bush run the country (into the ground) in perpetual monarchical succession. Time for a swim.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Secret Agent Curmudgeon

Apologies to my loyal readers (reader?) for the very, very late post today. Since I started this cheap alternative to five-times-a-week psychotherapy last year I have posted every weekday, except holidays, and I didn't want the streak to end. Today in "What Would Jesus Do?" country I was trapped on the 11th hole under a lightning and rain storm and was sent south to Miami on the Florida turnpike after asking the probably mentally deficient tollbooth guy "is this the turnpike going north?" "Yes," he said and on I went headed to South Beach.

Twenty years ago during my senior year of college I took the CIA recruiting exams. I made it through the first couple of rounds, including a 1,000 question exam with true-false questions like, "I like to watch flames," and "I can stop my stream of urination at will." I kid you not. I didn't make it into the Company (or did I? Hmmmm) but a bunch of people did and some of them are in charge there now. At least until hookergate and bribegate hit the front pages. You gotta love a CIA guy named "Nine Fingers" and Dusty and Porter aren't bad names either. Problem is they are bad people. The stories are just coming out but even without the bribes and hookers and resignations the CIA would be a miserable place to work now after two years of Porter Goss, a former Republican Congressman, bringing over his crew of political hacks to run things and purge the Democrats at Langley. And after the morale and experience at CIA is demolished they want to bring in a Air Force General in the pocket of Rumsfeld and Cheney. Just what we need, the CIA becoming a branch of the military or some division of the Republican party like Fox News. I feel safer already.

I guess on my CIA essay 20 years ago I should have said, "I like hookers. I like bribes. And my nickname is Curmudgeon." Then maybe I would have trained at The Farm and ended up being outed and getting a $2.5 million book deal. Or maybe it did happen.

Monday, May 08, 2006


FLORIDA - The Curmudgeon has been particularly cranky lately so I have gone on vacation to Flori-duh. Red state country where El Rushbo is on three different radio stations in my car. Thank god I got Sirius satellite radio in my rental car so I can listen to Howard Stern unfiltered by the federal government nannies who claim to be for smaller government. Actually they do believe in smaller government when it comes to border protection, disaster relief and health care insurance for children. Then the policy is "you're on your own."

The Sunday morning clicking through the cable channels is quite different here. Every other channel is someone praising Jesus and asking you to let the Lord into your heart and money into their wallets. The golfing is good down here. Cheap and plenty of it if you like playing in hot cloudless sunny weather. It's like playing golf on the surface of the sun and it's only early May. I have been largely unplugged from the Matrix but did catch the nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden formerly the head of NSA and number two under John Negroponte. Hayden was the head of NSA when he happily implemented (maybe suggested) the violation of FISA to spy on Americans without a warrant. Hayden is also the genius who said, "if there is any amendment at NSA that we know it's the Fourth" and of course he didn't know that the words "probable cause" do appear in it and is the standard for issuing warrants. Now the CIA is by law banned from using CIA agents to spy in the U.S. but I have a feeling some young Republican lawyer is in the basement of the White House or Justice Department, the basement, heck he's in the Office of Policy, writing some memo that says due to national security CIA can spy on Americans in America. The legal basis will be The Decider decided it.

So I've played golf (very well), had a lobster roll (very tasty) and went to the beach (very hot). The crankiness level is leveling off. I'll need to avoid cable news to keep it that way. More to come from the belly of the beast a.k.a. Gov. JEB country.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Kids say the darnest things

What a shock, another example from Florida that America as an idea is fading. A 10-year-old Coral Springs girl won't be allowed to sing a song that criticizes President Bush at her school talent show after her principal deemed it inappropriate and too political. The song, Dear Mr. President, (probably should be called "Dear Leader") written by the singer Pink, criticizes the president for the war in Iraq and other policies, including his stance on gay rights.

Nancy Shoul says of her daughter Molly that she should be lauded for choosing a song that has substance rather than the typical mindless pop music fluff. She also sums up why the idea of America is flickering like a flame - "If this was a student singing a pro-administration song, no one would quibble with it." Amen. This is the state of the state. Criticizing the President, mind you only this one, is considered treason, is deemed unpatriotic, is regarded as not supporting the troops or the war on terrorism, is grounds for firing or suspension or investigation or indictment or being labeled an enemy combatant and disappeared from the planet.

The school district spokeswoman Nadine Drew, who obviously went to the Scott McClellan School of Lying said, "this is a fifth-grade student that wants to perform a song filled with lyrics about drug use, war, abortion, gay rights and profanity." The song does not mention abortion, and the profanity mentioned is the word "hell." The drug use refers to Bush's alleged conduct before he became president.

Molly, the 10-year-old said of the President, "He should try to listen to what other people say, not just himself." Art Linkletter would be proud of Molly. Too bad Molly's principal isn't. In George Bush's world Molly is a Liberal who hates America and is on the side of the terrorists. And you thought I was kidding when I said the idea of America is fading?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

It can't happen again. Can it?

For casually saying that American troops were "getting a good licking" in France during World War I, a blacksmith named August Lambrecht was imprisoned by the State of Montana for seven months in 1919. Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, yes a Democratic Governor of Montana posthumously pardoned 78 people convicted of sedition during the anti-German hysteria of World War One. The list of those pardoned included farmers, butchers, carpenters and cooks. One man was charged merely for calling the conflict a "rich man's war" and mocking food regulations during a time of rationing. Another man, Herman Bausch, was a pacifist who refused to buy war bonds and spent 28 months in prison for being outspoken about it.

Then there was Eugene V. Debs who ran as a Candidate of the Socialist Party for President of the United States in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912 and 1920. On June 16, 1918 Debs made a now famous anti-war speech in Canton, Ohio protesting World War I. He was arrested and convicted in Federal Court in Cleveland, Ohio under the war-time espionage law. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and disenfranchised for life, losing his citizenship. In 1919 The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction in Debs v. United States. The Court said that Debs had actually planned to discourage people from enlisting in the Armed Forces. The Court refused to grant him protection under the First Amendment freedom of speech clause, stating that Debs "used words [in his speech] with the purpose of obstructing the recruiting service." Debs' conviction under the Espionage Act would stand, because his speech represented a "clear and present danger" to the safety of the United States. From prison in 1920 he got nearly a million votes for president.

Can't happen again right? Think again. You may remember W's first Press Liar Ari Fleischer who after 9/11 darkly warned Americans "need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Then there was former Attorney General John Ashcroft who accused Congressional critics of aiding terrorists when he told them on December 7, 2001, "To those who pit Americans against immigrants, citizens against non-citizens, to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies and pause to America’s friends."

Aid and comfort to the the enemy. Aiding terrorists. Sedition. Treason. All the ground work being done to have posthumous pardons 80 years from today.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Democrats need to grow a couple

Here's another reason why Democrats have had a hard time regaining power in Congress and the White House. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD.) defended President Bush after Saturday's White House Correspondent's Association dinner where the Dear Leader WarPresident was roasted by comedian Stephen Colbert. You can watch the video of Colbert's roast here and while some of it is a little dry a lot of it is funny. And if there is one thing I know it's funny. Yes his "audition tape" for the White House Press Secretary was long and a bit stupid but overall Colbert spoke truthiness to power in a humorous way. In any event, to hear the Democratic Minority Whip Hoyer defend the WarPresident is revolting.

I guess it's ok for Bush to go to the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner two years ago and crack jokes about the U.S. not finding WMDs in Iraq going so far as showing a photo of him looking under a table in the Oval Office and telling the audience, "Nope, no WMDs here." LOL. Hilarious. But Colbert, no, not funny. Disrepectful to Dear Leader. I would think a "warpresident" would be tougher than to be brought to the brink of tears by some silly comedian. Comedy is based on truth and I guess the truth hurts.

And a member of the House Democratic leadership says Colbert was "a little rough?" and that Colbert "crossed the line?" Are you kidding me? Colbert crossed the line? Once again you have people complaining about things that aren't real or significant compared to those truly in power. His jokes were "in bad taste?" How about outing covert CIA agents? How about allowing Iraq to descend into chaos? How about selling our country to the highest bidding lobbyist? How about leaving people in New Orleans to fend for themselves after Katrina? How about, how about, how about. But let's concentrate on things that really matter from people who have power -- like jokes from a comedian.

Steny Hoyer, and I don't care how long he's been in Congress - 25 years, makes me as sick as the bird flu will. I can't imagine a Republican leader, when they were in the minority, defend President Clinton on anything. In fact, they then and still peddle outrageous lies about his involvement with murder, drug dealing and turning down offers to capture Bin Laden. Steny Hoyer should have taken the opportunity to say, "Colbert said what a lot of people are thinking. I wish people would worry more about health care issues and immigration issues and Iran and Iraq than what happens at some Don Rickles-type roast. The American people want their government to solve the nation's problems and the Republicans aren't doing that. I thank God I live in a country where people like Stephen Colbert has the right and freedom to say what he thinks and say it openly in front of the President of the United States. Shame on the Republicans who after taking away other Constitutional rights want to go after our freedom of speech."

That's what he should have said. What he did say speaks volumes as to why Democrats lose elections. Grow a couple Steny and a spine too while you're at it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

This time I'm right

I was wrong about Ariel Sharon being dead when he wasn't and I was wrong (early) about Tom Delay getting indicted and wrong (hopefully early again) about Karl Rove getting indicted. But this time I'm right. The bird flu pandemic is coming.

I laughed in 1999 when I heard about the Y2K nonsense. I even had one frined who stocked up on food and water because he thought the world would shut down at midnight on New Year's Eve 2000. Of course he was wrong. But this time it's different. That's why I've already made a few trips to Costco to stock up. If a bird flu pandemic, human to human transmission, hits anywhere there will be a global impact, a global slow or shut down of the supply chain. Borders will close. People won't go to work. Deliveries to food stores and pharmacists will stop. The White House will release it's report on bird flu preparedness tomorrow and it sounds like it won't be pretty. I though I heard their worst case scenario is 2 million deaths in the U.S. so you know it would be more since they can't predict anything with any accuracy.

So I'm headed back to Costco to continue my stockpile of canned pineapple, pop-tarts, and peanut butter. It's only a matter of time. It must be true, ABC is broadcasting a made-for-tv movie next week called Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America about a pandemic outbreak in America. This time I know I'm right. And if I'm not, I have enough Easy Mac and Pretzels to last me a lifetime.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Now that's chutzpah (updated below)

I have to give credit to the Bushies and their crews, they always come up with reasoning that defies reality stunning the opposition into paralysis. There was the Swift Boating of John Kerry the war-hero being made into a war criminal. There was the mission accomplished as Iraq burned for three more years. (Note: Today is "Mission Accomplished" pronouncement three year anninversary.) There was and is the position of the President that his job to execute the laws of the land are just that, to actually execute or kill the laws of the land so he can rule without those inconvenient pieces of paper that, you know, govern the government. If the country were to be based upon "trust me" we wouldn't need a constitution and in fact we may find out how running the U.S. looks without one. Now we have another example of an administration position that defies belief.

The U.S. says it fears deatinee abuse in Repatriation. Get it? The Bush Administration claims it would like to send home detainees it has at Guantanimo. (wait, I thought according to the armchair generals like Rush and O'Lielly and Sean that they are all dangerous terrorists there. How can we release them from Gitmo? 267 so far. Guess Bush is soft on terrorists.) But it argues that they have concerns that the released prisoners may not be treated humanely by their own governments. Once again I tell you this isn't a story from The Onion. This is the front-page of the New York Times on Sunday, April 30. The right column no less which in newspaper terms means it's the most important story of the day. So we gathered up all these so-called mastermind terrorists. Then we abuse them at Gitmo which I'm sure will win hearts and minds when we release them. Then we say we want to release them but we can't because their own governments might abuse them. Now that's chutzpah.

What's next? I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the reason why tax cuts were given to the wealthy in America, a majority of which benefits the top 1%, is because the rich know how to spend it while the middle and lower-class would just "blow it" on foolish things. It's as reasonable argument as any the administration has for cutting taxes repeatedly on people making over a million dollars a year. In fact, this year the alternative minimum tax will cost the middle class $13 billion in extra tax payments while those making over $1 million per year will get a $13 billion tax cut. Who says there isn't class warfare? There is it's just that the upper-class is winning. Or shall I say won. There is a redistribution of wealth going on in America. It's going from those making under $100,000 to pay for tax cuts for those making over $1,000,000 a year. Of course you could believe that it makes good economic and tax policy. But now that really would be chutzpah.

Update Post: Didn't take long for the latest Bush administration's The Daily Show/Colbert/Onion-like declaration. Not only that but Andrew Sullivan gives it a "Chutzpah award!" Could he have read me before he posted?