Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year?

Here's hoping 2006 is a bit better than 2005 for most of us. But this isn't a rant entry. Rather, it is a celebration of New Year's Eve. Who'd have thought I'd be strolling in shorts and a t-shirt on December 31st? Are we still in the northern hemisphere? Temperatures in the 60s the first week of January?

The wife, the dog, and the Doc took a brisk walk through Springfield's National Cemetary, then drove up to Pomme de Terre State Park. We'd never visited the park and decided it was too beautiful a day to stay home. Excellent weather, wonderful views of Lake Pomme de Terre, neat drive across the dam. The dog tried to eat somebody's leftover pizza and accidentally bit the wife as she attempted to remove the nasty stuff from his mouth. The Doc was not happy.

Wife is fine. Dog is in the doghouse.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Goodwill Toward Men - Iowa Version

As a follow-up to the story below, here's another demonstrating the Christmas spirit.

Council Bluffs police said a man was injured when he was robbed by someone he had bought beer for on Christmas Day.

Jerry Smith said after he bought beer for three unknown people, he was approached by them again. One of the people demanded money from him. He was hit in the head and blacked out for a few seconds. When he awoke, Smith said $2 he had in his pocket was gone.

Police said he was treated at a local hospital for a 2½ inch cut on his forehead.

Don't honk in Milwaukee. Don't buy beer for someone in Council Bluffs. Got it?

Don't Honk Your Horn in Milwaukee

That may be one lesson to learn from this story. Seems a 50-year-old man who did may not survive a beating.

Some details:

Police said a mob of about 15 assailants believed to be between 16 and 23 years old dragged Samuel McClain out of his car after he honked to get them out of the way. But instead of moving, they surrounded the car and attacked him.

The victim is in critical condition and doctors aren't sure he'll live.

"He might not be able to see or walk because of these people, these kids," McClain's daughter, Shanika Johnson, said. She also urged neighbors to help police.

"Even if they're their own kids, they should turn them in," Johnson said. "I don't want to go on a vigilante thing to try to do something myself. I just want to find out who did it and bring them to justice."

Last year, a man with schizophrenia died after being beaten and robbed by a group of assailants. Six teens were charged and one has been convicted.

We've driven in Milwaukee. Now we're glad we never honked our horn.

Is Bush Drinking Again?

Check out this video, which aired on CBS's "Late, Late Show" and decide for yourself. The video is on a porn-friendly site (no pictures, just text), so be cautious when linking to it.

Spying Not Intrusive, Red Light Camera Is?

Tuesday's Springfield News-Leader contained a story of state Sen. Jason Crowell's (R-Cape Girardeau) proposal to ban cameras at intersections aimed at catching red-light violators.

An excerpt:

Crowell cites several arguments against the cameras. Among them: Too much intrusion by government . . . .

So the good senator thinks it is too intrusive for the government to take a photo of a vehicle's license plate after it has run a red light. But he doesn't think it intrusive for the government to control a woman's uterus. One wonders what Crowell thinks of his Republican president illegally spying on U.S. citizens for the past three years.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Strange Message

The Catholic Church is a sending a strange and puzzeling message. It seems that if a priest molests little children, he will simply be moved to another parish. But if he disagrees with a Bishop making a grab for money, he will be excommunicated.

Beagle Blogging - Christmas Edition


Yes, I've been bad about posting lately. Busy time of year, lots to think about. I'll try to be better this week.

Visited the in-laws for Christmas as we have for 10 years. Lots of card-playing, plenty of great food, much story-telling. Christmas morning always begins with a fine breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, fruit, sweet rolls, orange juice and coffee. Then it's time to watch the unwrapping of presents. Baxter looks for any that might be for him. Unfortunately, his weren't wrapped. No matter. He loved the treats.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Long, Long Break

Wow. My last post was on December 4th. Sorry about that. Been working hard with that Chatter guy on what will be a very interesting and entertaining project. Details are developing, including a firm premiere date. February 1, 2006. As they say on TV, stay tuned.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Things to Make You Go....Hmmmmmmmm

I found this very interesting. I've copied the entire post from Old Fashioned Patriot's blog below the fold, except for the links to the original articles.

Go to Old Fashioned Patriot to check those links.

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead!
This list isn't all inclusive but I am noticing a pattern here:

Nov 19th - 9 US Soldiers Killed
Nov 20th - al-Zarqawi Dead? Al Qaeda Terrorist Perhaps Killed in Firefight

Nov 16th - 8 US Soldiers Killed
Nov 16th - IRAQ: US MILITARY ANNOUNCES CAPTURE OF KEY AL-QAEDA OFFICER

Nov 2nd - 7 US Soldiers Killed
Nov 3rd - Top Al Qaeda Leader Believed Captured

Sep 28th - 7 US Soldiers Killed
Sep 28th - Al-Qaida chief killed, says Pakistan

There are a number of ways to look at this, I suppose. Could just be several amazing co-ink-i-dinks. It could be the Bush administration manipulating the news in an attempt to turn focus away from a bad story to a "positive" one. Of course, you then have to think about the boy who cried wolf (how many number 3 Al Qaeda leaders are there?). But it most certainly is evidence of the mainstream media publishing whatever Bush/Cheney/Rove tell them to without question or debate. Perhaps that's the saddest part.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bush is Number One

Historians rate Dubya as the worst president ever. James Buchanan, the 15th president, set the standard. Dubya is lowering the bar.

From Yahoo News:

The History News Network at George Mason University has just polled historians informally on the Bush record. Four hundred and fifteen, about a third of those contacted, answered -- maybe they were all crazed liberals -- making the project as unofficial as it was interesting. These were the results: 338 said they believed Bush was failing, while 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever. Worse than Buchanan.

This is what those historians said -- and it should be noted that some of the criticism about deficit spending and misuse of the military came from self-identified conservatives -- about the Bush record:

  • He has taken the country into an unwinnable war and alienated friend and foe alike in the process;
  • He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich;
  • He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state;
  • He has repeatedly "misled," to use a kind word, the American people on affairs domestic and foreign;
  • He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign ( Iraq and the battle against al-Qaida);
  • He has sacrificed American employment (including the toleration of pension and benefit elimination) to increase overall productivity;
  • He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress;
  • He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime
.
George W. Bush. Worst. President. Ever.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Privacy? Not in Public School Bathrooms

The principal at a high school in Georgia put a video camera in the boys restroom. An 8th-grade student discovered it, and removed it. Now, the student is suspended for "taking school property."

From WMAZ-TV in Macon:

A Jasper County mother says her 8th grade son found a video camera taping in the school bathroom this week. But now, he is the one in trouble.

Cindy Champion says her son, Mac Bedor, and a few of his friends took the camera out of the ceiling because they felt it violated their privacy. Champion says her son brought the camera home to show her that afternoon. She says when she contacted the Jasper County Comprehensive School, she found out high school principal, Howard Fore, put the camera there. She says Fore told her he put the camera in the boys' bathroom to catch students vandalizing. Champion says her son is now suspended for taking school property.

CINDY CHAMPION, MOTHER: "I had told the high school principal, Mr. Fore, that he needed to come up with another solution. That this wasn't appropriate. His response to me was he was going to continue to film."

Jasper County Superintendent, Jay Brinson, sent a faxed response to Eyewitness News. Brinson says high school principal, Howard Fore, placed the camera in the bathroom last Sunday to control vandalism. He says Fore put the camera there "to discover the identity of those doing the damage." Brinson says the principal did tell Cindy Champion that the camera would be installed again. But in his statement Brinson says, "The camera was not placed back in the restroom, and will not be placed back in the restroom."

Eyewitness News tried to contact the Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney about the legality of placing hidden cameras in public school rest rooms. He covers that area. Eyewitness News was not able to get in touch with him. But, Eyewitness News did talk with Bibb County District Attorney, Howard Simms. He says cameras in public school bathrooms are legal because schools have more leeway on privacy issues.

Now suppose Mac Bedore had not discovered and removed the camcorder. Suppose Principal Fore watched the video at home and was seen through a window by a neighbor. Do you think DA Simms would prosecute Principal Fore for possession of child pornography?

OK, perhaps that ignores the whole privacy issue. But seriously, how does this covert taping differ from any other that might might show less-than-legal-age boys privates? And the District Attorney thinks it's legal? Wonder if he thinks it's legal to secretly tape teachers in the bathroom?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

What Kind of Candy Am I?

Snickers

Nutty and gooey - you always satisfy.

Friday Beagle Blogging (Early Edition)


Granny Geek sent us a note regarding Baxter, who hasn't made an appearance on Lost Chord for awhile. Everything's fine. DocLarry's just been bad about keeping up with Beagle Blogging.

But since you asked, Baxter had surgery Wednesday to remove a couple growths. One on his left front leg, one on his back. He's got a cool shaved patch now! He's doing well, and nothing to be concerned about. Baxter turned 12 last month, so the growths are nothing unusual.

We did learn recently that he has a thyroid problem. He takes a pill twice a day ("Special Breakfast" and "Special Supper" = wet dog food surrounding the pill) for that condition, and it's definitely working.

We'd notice he had become lathargic and seemed to have more difficult hopping on to furniture and in and out of the car. In the month he's been taking the medication he's back to acting like a puppy, runs all over the place, especially enjoys playing in dry leaves, and had lost 2.5 pounds (about 5 percent of his body weight). This is one happy and healthy dog!

As I type this, Baxter is sound asleep on the couch, lying on his back, having a dream. I can tell by the jerking back legs indicating his running in his dream. And the occasional muffled bark.

BTW, Baxter LOVES his veterinarian, Dr. Tedd at the Springfield Veterinary Hospital. No, this is not a paid endorsement. But it is an endorsement.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Business Funny

The Snooze-Leader runs a column on its Business page every Monday titled "Workbytes." It's co-written by one of my former students, Larry Ballard, who works for another Gannett paper, the Des Moines Register. This week's column contained a funny truth.
Let me quote the relevant portion:

And that's where WorkBytes comes in, probably without wiping our feet.

Anyone who reads a morning newspaper -- especially those who read it at 6 and 10 -- knows there is a critical shortage of qualified candidates "impacting" every job field in America.

Had to chuckle at that first sentence..."probably without wiping our feet." Ha!

But the best line is in the next graf. A slam against those news readers called "anchors" on local TV news programs. It's true in Des Moines and it's true in Springfield. Local TV news operations often "report" whatever was in the morning newspaper. No problem with that. Well, other than the TV news reports come after the morning newspaper reports. It's always struck me as rather curious how newspaper reporters learn news a full 24 hours before some TV news reporters.

In any case, go read the column. Makes me very proud of my former student. And no, I don't think I had much to do with his writing ability. This isn't about my ego. Well, maybe a little.

Florida: America's First Police State

Police in Miami have a new plan to combat terrorism: scare the crap out of ordinary citizens.

From the Associated Press:

Miami police announced Monday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats.

"This is an in-your-face type of strategy. It's letting the terrorists know we are out there," Fernandez said.

The operations will keep terrorists off guard, Fernandez said. He said al-Qaida and other terrorist groups plot attacks by putting places under surveillance and watching for flaws and patterns in security.

Police Chief John Timoney said there was no specific, credible threat of an imminent terror attack in Miami. But he said the city has repeatedly been mentioned in intelligence reports as a potential target.

Timoney also noted that 14 of the 19 hijackers who took part in the Sept. 11 attacks lived in South Florida at various times and that other alleged terror cells have operated in the area.

OK, so because certain unsavory individuals once resided in an area all those now living or visiting that area must "show their papers" to the cops on demand? For no reason other than to "let the terrorists know [the police] are out there"? Uh-huh.

Aren't Floridians allowed to carry concealed weapons and to use such weapons to defend themselves if they feel threatened? Will all armed Floridians believe a cop is a cop?

And what provision will be made for those who don't carry their papers with them? Or does Florida now require you to have some form of ID with you at all times, no exceptions? Strange when living in Europe means having more freedom than living in the US.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Missouri Is Test Site For New Guard Recruiting Idea

Is the military having such a difficult time recruiting new victims that is must resort to paying current members to convince young people to join? That's the plan the Army National Guard announced Monday it would begin testing in five states.

Missouri is one of those states, according to the Associated Press:

The Army National Guard believes its best recruiting tool is its members, and that's why it's willing to pay bonuses of up to $2,000 each to Guardsmen who persuade people to join.

The new recruiting initiative will be tested in West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa and North Dakota and is expected to be expanded nationwide in five months.

Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard, and West Virginia Adjutant General Allen Tackett announced the program Monday in Charleston.

Any Guardsman in the test states who recruits someone to sign up will receive a $1,000 bonus. Another $1,000 bonus will be awarded if the recruit passes basic training.

The initiative comes as recruitment nationwide is lagging for both the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army.

Anyone think the guard members will fight over who gets credit for a recruit? Anyone think guard members might push a kid into enlisting?

Ripped From 'Law & Order'

There is an episode of the TV series "Law and Order" which begins with extra bodies being discovered in a research field. Scientists have placed dead bodies in various positions and locations to study how they decay and what happens to them. A University of Northern Iowa professor wants to build such a facility in Iowa.

Details to a story Ron Davis will enjoy, from KCCI-TV in Des Moines (where I once worked):

A professor at the University of Northern Iowa wants to turn some prime Iowa pasture into a body farm, where human bodies that are buried, stuffed in car trunks or exposed to the elements can be studied.

Biological anthropology professor Tyler O'Brien said the research would provide scholars and criminalists with valuable information about human decay. He said it's information that will help investigators determine how long a body has been dead.

O'Brien is seeking a grant of about $500,000 from the National Institute of Justice and other organizations to obtain the land and set up the project.

If approved, the body farm would be just the second in the nation and closely modeled after the work pioneered by O'Brien's mentor, William Bass III, at the University of Tennessee's Forensic Anthropology Center. Bass said there is a need for a second location because it is critical to study decay in different climates.

The Midwest offers a flat and open landscape exposed to wind, rain, sun, snow and extreme temperature shifts. It also offers an entirely new spectrum of plants, rodents and bugs, whose life cycle can provide clues to when someone was killed or the body was dumped.

I also taught for three years at UNI, but don't know Dr. O'Brien. I would agree that Iowa offers an open landscape exposed to the elements and extreme temperature shifts. But not all of Iowa is flat. Especially the northeastern portion, where UNI is located. Iowa farm land is great for growing corn and soybeans. Also good for beef and pork.

UNI has its share of ghost stories, including a haunted women's dorm. If this comes about, will greek pledges be expected to spend a night at the body farm as part of their initiation?

Happy F'ing Holidays

Would you believe some cheap bastard stole some of my Christmas lights? I had nice blue rope light strong from my house to a tree to my mailbox, then curled to the ground. Neat effect, very pretty. It was up for two nights. Whoever took it had to undo all that work, including disconnecting the rope light from my house, right next to my front door! Cheap bastard dropped a nearly full pack of Swisher Sweets marked with a buy one get one free coupon. Bastard.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

War Without Reason

Sorry to be such a downer today, but here's one more post about the Iraq mistake. This story reflects the true depths of depravity of Dubya's war. An Army Colonel, an expert on "ethics" commits suicide in Iraq.

From the LA Times:

In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.

His death stunned all who knew him. Colleagues and commanders wondered whether they had missed signs of depression. He had been losing weight and not sleeping well. But only a day before his death, Westhusing won praise from a senior officer for his progress in training Iraqi police.

His friends and family struggle with the idea that Westhusing could have killed himself. He was a loving father and husband and a devout Catholic. He was an extraordinary intellect and had mastered ancient Greek and Italian. He had less than a month before his return home. It seemed impossible that anything could crush the spirit of a man with such a powerful sense of right and wrong.

On the Internet and in conversations with one another, Westhusing's family and friends have questioned the military investigation.

A note found in his trailer seemed to offer clues. Written in what the Army determined was his handwriting, the colonel appeared to be struggling with a final question.

How is honor possible in a war like the one in Iraq?

Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. President.

Now We're Spying on Ourselves

This is disgusting. The Pentagon is now spying on US citizens. In the US. In your town. The Washington Post has the story.

This is serious, and very disturbing.

The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world.

The moves have taken place on several fronts. The White House is considering expanding the power of a little-known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which was created three years ago. The proposal, made by a presidential commission, would transform CIFA from an office that coordinates Pentagon security efforts -- including protecting military facilities from attack -- to one that also has authority to investigate crimes within the United States such as treason, foreign or terrorist sabotage or even economic espionage.

The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence. Backers say the measure is needed to strengthen investigations into terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.

The proposals, and other Pentagon steps aimed at improving its ability to analyze counterterrorism intelligence collected inside the United States, have drawn complaints from civil liberties advocates and a few members of Congress, who say the Defense Department's push into domestic collection is proceeding with little scrutiny by the Congress or the public.

"We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a recent interview.

Read that last quote again.
"We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing."

We're supposed to have civilian oversight of military activities. We have laws like Posse Comitatus for a reason, and now the military is becoming judge, jury and executioner against Americans.

Does that sound like America to you?.

What Are We Doing in Iraq?

In his weekly radio address yesterday, Dubya said, "The military families who mourn the fallen can know that America will not forget their sacrifice, and they can know that we will honor that sacrifice by completing the noble mission for which their loved ones gave their lives." Joe in DC at AmericaBlog asks, "Does anyone know exactly what the noble mission is?"

This morning I read this from the Guardian Unlimited:

Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country's first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam's regime.

'People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse,' Ayad Allawi told The Observer. 'It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.'

So what is the "noble mission" of which Dubya speaks? Does he know? Does anyone in his administration know? This is the question Cindy Sheehan keeps asking. It is now the question the Iraqi people are asking. Perhaps it's time for Dubya to be more specific and answer the question.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Iraq Wants US to Leave

This is a big story. Will the news media play it as such? Not only do Iraq's leaders want us out, they now say it's not terrorism if you attack Americans.

From the Associated Press:

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a ``legitimate right'' of resistance.

The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.

The participants in Cairo agreed on ``calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces ... control the borders and the security situation'' and end terror attacks.

The conference was attended by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish lawmakers, as well as leading Sunni politicians.

The Bush administration has said repeatedly that if the elected Iraqi government wanted us out, we'd leave. They now want us out. So when do our troops come home?

So will Dick Cheney call the Iraqi government reprehensible for wanting us to withdraw? Does he think that to begin withdrawing from Iraq now "would be a victory for the terrorists"? Does Jean Schmidt think they're cowards for cutting and running?

Iraq's leaders also now say it's not terrorism if you attack Americans. It's only terrorism if you attack Iraqi citizens or Iraqi "institutions."
The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.

Why are we still in Iraq?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Disturbing Bush

AmericaBlog pointed us to this story in the Washington Times magazine. The Times is basically a mouthpiece for the Republican party, so it's unusual for them to criticize Bush.

A highlight:

President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.

Matt Drudge adds:
The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.

Sounds like Dubya's having a meltdown. Kind of scary he's running the country, ain't it?

Is Dubya Drinking Again?

There is a great deal of speculation on this. Crooks and Liars provides some video evidence. Sure sounds and looks like Bush has fallen off the wagon. Particularly watch the last bit when Bush steps off Marine One. He normally makes a big deal of his snappy "I was in the National Guard" salute. This time, it looks to me like he's mocking himself. Then watch what he does with Laura. Drunk?

Dubya Plagiarizes Himself

OK, maybe you can't really plagiarize yourself. But Dubya's Vet's Day yelling at America had an amazing ring to it. Seems like we heard it before. SadlyNo proves we had. Wish the mainstream media would start checking and reporting these things. Maybe they'd finally quit covering every one of Dubya's staged events like it was something new instead of the repeat it so often is.

Make Up Your Own Caption

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Iowan's Elect 18-year-old Mayor

Tuesday's election included the mayor of Roland, Iowa, a town of 1300 people. Samuel Juhl lives with his parents, has little work experience, and is still in high school. He takes office in January for a two-year term. And who says young people don't care about politics?

Patriot Act May Be Limited

The Associated Press is reporting that Congress is looking to curb some of the Patriot Act. It won't allow the Patriot Act to expire, but it finally will allow legal challenges to "national security letters giving the government secret access to people's phone and e-mail records, financial data and favorite Internet sites."

Under the 2001 law, the FBI reportedly has been issuing about 30,000 national security letters annually, a hundred-fold increase since the 1970s, when they first came into existence under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

We don't personally know anyone for whom the FBI has issued a national security letter. But then, we have no way of knowing if we know someone for whom the FBI has issued a national security letter. That's one of the worst parts of the Patriot Act (horribly, disrepectfully named): you don't know if you're being investigated, for what, or why, and most importantly, there's nothing you can do about it if and when you find out.

We use to refer to this as a Police State in communist countries.

And don't pull out that BS about one shouldn't be worried if one has nothing to hide. If you truly believe that, I'd like to see your financial records, a list of all the web sites you have visited, your social security number, and a list of all videos you've rented in the past five years.

What's that? It's none of my business? If you have nothing to hide, why won't you share that information with me and the rest of the world? By the way, when may I come inspect your house?

Checks and balances. The founders of our country believed they were extremely important. Why don't Republicans?

Majority of Americans Say Bush Lied Deliberately

...according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Indeed, Iraq — which has emerged as the public’s top priority in the poll — has become a particularly thorny issue for Bush. Fifty-seven percent believe he deliberately misled people to make the case for war, compared with 35 percent who say he gave the most accurate information he had. In addition, 58 percent are less confident the war will come to a successful conclusion, and 57 percent say the United States should reduce the number of U.S. troops there.

Anybody want to place a bet on when the next terror alert will be issued?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Did Bond Leak CIA Torture Info?

On November 2, the Washington Post carried an explosive front-page story about secret Eastern European prisons set up by the CIA for the interrogation of terrorism suspects. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert subsequently called for a Congressional investigation into who leaked information to the Post.

Then Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) revealed that the leak likely came from a Senator or Senate staffer.

Speculation now is on which Republican Senator might have been the source of the leak. [here and here] One name that comes up is that of Missouri's Kit Bond. Why? He's one of the nine senators who voted in favor of torture by voting against the McCain amendment.

We kind of hope Bond was the leaker. But as much fun as it is to watch Republicans eat their own, we're disappointed that the story is shifting from the fact that the United States is engaging in torture to who leaked the info.

There is hope as at least one Republican senator gets what's important. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):

Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. The real story is those jails.


Side note: Frist seems to have a memory lapse on whether he actually signed the letter calling for the investigation. Curious how his story changed once it started becoming clear a Republican leaked the information to the WaPo.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

I may not be a marketing genious, but I think KSFX's latest NEWS promotion spots are stupid. They show the anchors lip-synching the station's "theme" song. "Just you watch, Ozarks Fox." Whatever the hell that means. Why are the NEWS ANCHORS lip-synching this little ditty?

An attempt to appeal to a young demographic?

Maybe if local TV stations quit trying to attract young people as viewers by dumbing-down content and just reported the news, audience numbers wouldn't be so low.

Perhaps if advertisers quit demanding such actions and instead targeted their ads to the demographic that actually watches the news (or would, if the newscasts weren't so flippant, stupid, and irrelevant), television news departments could get back to doing their job--reporting the news.

Whatever happened to that concept?

Matt Blunt's Approval Ratings Below Bush

According to Survey USA, Blunt remains the third least-popular governor in the U.S. with a 33 percent job approval rating. Both Missouri Senators (Bond & Talent) have approval ratings above 50 percent (55 and 51 percent, respectively). Talent's numbers are worth watching as we approach the 2006 mid-terms.

Bush Approval Hits New Low

This isn't breaking news, but I thought it would be good to look at Bush's approval ratings in light of Tuesday's election. These ratings were all reported prior to the election.

A CBS News poll put Bush's approval at a new low: 35 percent.

The latest Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey puts Bush's approval at 36 percent.

That's still higher than Nixon during Watergate. And it's nearly as low as Carter at the end of his presidency.

In Missouri, Bush's approval rating (as of Oct. 17th) stood at 39 percent, down 7 percent since June. At that time, only six states gave Bush approval ratings above 50 percent: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Twenty-five states have Bush below 40 percent. That includes
New Mexico, Arkansas, Iowa, Nevada and Ohio; states which voted FOR Bush in 2004.

Perhaps Tuesday's election results aren't so surprising, given these numbers.

Bush "Referendum" Fails. Big Time.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post ran a story saying the White House saw the Virginia Governor's election as a referendum on Pres. Bush.

Bush's election-eve foray to Richmond to rally behind Republican Jerry W. Kilgore inserted him into the hottest election of the off-year cycle and will test his ability to energize his party's base voters, according to strategists from both parties. Even in a traditionally Republican-leaning state such as Virginia, polls register disenchantment with Bush's leadership, and Kilgore has had trouble running against national headwinds.

Tuesday election results clearly show the Bush referendum failed. Miserably. Just like his presidency. It wasn't just the Virginia governor's race. Democrats had a really big day yesterday with convincing governor victories in Virginia and New Jersey.

"Intelligent Design" proponents were SLAUGHTERED as voters in Dover, Penn. threw out EVERY SINGLE ONE of the wacko Republican anti-evolution wingnuts who were sitting on the school board. Now that's a mandate.

The St. Paul, Minn. mayor who supported Bush in 2004 was crushed by a REAL Democrat.
The St. Paul race was overshadowed by partisan fury over Kelly's decision to endorse President Bush for reelection in 2004. A number of polls showed Kelly fighting a backlash in the largely DFL town over the endorsement. A Star Tribune Minnesota Poll showed that nearly two-thirds of likely voters said Kelly's decision to campaign for Bush influenced their choice of candidate.


In California, Ahnold was handed a serious slap as well, with all four of his ballot initiatives (Props 74-77) losing.

In Tucson, Ariz., Democrats defeated two Republicans and reverted the city council to Democratic control.

Yesterday was a nice start and sets an excellent tone for the 2006 midterm election.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Local TV Host Can't Pronounce Kiosk

Doubt me? Watch the "All Around Home Shopping Showcase" on Mediacom Channel 14. The host cannot pronounce the word kiosk. He consistently pronounces it Key-Hosk. On one show he compounds the problem by referring to multiple kiosks as "Key-Hosk-Is".

The show runs every day at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Production values are horrible. The host makes inane comments. He can't remember addresses of the businesses. And sometimes the demonstrations don't work.

Local TV never looked so good. Not.

Hyperactivity or Commentary?

Think your kid is hyperactive? Watch this video of a WBAL-TV midday newscast when Mikey came to visit. (thanks to KCCI-TV for the video)

Of course, one might interpret Mikey's behavior as a commentary on the state of local television news.

Cheney Okayed Torture, News Media Yawn

I continue to be disappointed by the mainstream news media. Former Bush administration insider Lawrence Wilkerson dropped another bombshell yesterday. On NPR yesterday, the former chief of staff to the secretary of state said that he had uncovered a "visible audit trail" tracing the practice of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers directly back to Vice President Cheney's office.

Here's the audio of Wilkerson's interview with Steve Inskeep.

Majority of Americans Want Bush Impeached

According to a new poll, 53 percent of Americans want Congress to impeach President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq.

AfterDowningStreet.org commissioned the poll:

The poll was conducted by Zogby International, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,200 U.S. adults from October 29 through November 2.

The poll found that 53% agreed with the statement:

"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."

42% disagreed, and 5% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 2.9% margin of error.

Responses to the Zogby poll varied by political party affiliation: 76% of Democrats favored impeachment, compared to 50% of Independents and 29% of Republicans.

Responses also varied by age, sex, race, and religion. 70% of those 18-29 favored impeachment, 51% of those 31-49, 50% of those 50-64, and 42% of those over 65. 56% of women favored impeachment, compared to 49% of men. Among African Americans, 90% favored impeachment, compared to 67% of Hispanics, and 46% of whites. Majorities of Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Others favored impeachment, while 49% of Protestants and 46% of Born Again Christians did so.

Majorities favored impeachment in the East (53%), West (56%), and Central states (58%), but not the South (43%). In large cities, 58% support impeachment; in small cities, 56%; in suburbs, 49%; in rural areas, 46%.

I seriously doubt that Congress will actually take action against Bush, unless Democrats take over in the 2006 midterms. But I also think it is a national disgrace that lying about a blowjob between consenting adults where no lives are lost results in impeachment proceedings while lying about an illegal war in which more than 2000 Americans have been killed and thousands more wounded (some permanently) does not.

How can any truly patriotic Republican still support this international embarrassment of a president?

Friday Beagle Blogging: Blankey Edition


Baxter napping with his favorite blanket. Yes, he turned his back on me when I got ready to take the photo. I'm telling you, the dog knows what's going on.

Monday, October 31, 2005

George W. Bush: Hypocrite

Last Friday, George W. Bush said about Lewis Libby, “In our system, each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial.”.

Really?

SpeakSpeak.org comments:

What about Jose Padilla, the US citizen Bush is claiming he can have imprisoned for the rest of his life without trial?

If Bush wins the Padilla case when it goes to the US Supreme Court, he will have the power to label as many of us as he wants “enemy combatants,” and imprison us for life without trial.

Some people will be afraid to engage in dissent if Bush’s bizarre twist on American values in the Padilla case is affirmed by the Supreme Court.


Bush is obviously a hypocrite. But what else is new?

Too Rich!

Here's a laugh for you. Or maybe a cry. Blogger Angry Professor posted this:

Almost 10% of my class believes, "Ockham's Razor is used in the preparation of homeopathic remedies."

Hahahahahahahahaha! College students can be really dumb sometimes.

Draft Kreider Organization Meeting

This was posted in the comments section, but deserves a post of its own.

The first planning meeting for the Draft Kreider Organization will be on November 5, 2005 from 10:00 a.m. until noon. (That's this Saturday) It will be the pre-anniversary of the 2006 election. The meeting is being scheduled one year ahead of the 2006 Congressional Elections, (i.e. the organization is building a district wide campaign and is already up and running with over three hundred Team Captains). The location will be at The Library Center at 4653 South Campbell Avenue in Springfield, Missouri 65810. Additional meetings will be held in all 10 counties of the 7th Congressional District of southwest Missouri in November. For additional information please call 417-866-4453 or see www.draftkreideruscongress.org

Monday, October 24, 2005

Pentagon DOES do Body Counts

From the beginning of the Iraq war the Pentagon has refused to provide enemy or civilian body counts. Officials have insisted such counts don't make any sense and are poor indicators. Evidently, that argument is no longer viable.
As noted in today's Washington Post, the military has once again started giving enemy body bag counts.

Eager to demonstrate success in Iraq, the U.S. military has abandoned its previous refusal to publicize enemy body counts and now cites such numbers periodically to show the impact of some counterinsurgency operations.

The revival of body counts, a practice discredited during the Vietnam War, has apparently come without formal guidance from the Pentagon's leadership. Military spokesmen in Washington and Baghdad said they knew of no written directive detailing the circumstances under which such figures should be released or the steps that should be taken to ensure accuracy.

U.S. soldiers near Baghdad can be bolstered by the release of enemy body counts, a Marine spokesman said.

Instead, they described an ad hoc process that has emerged over the past year, with authority to issue death tolls pushed out to the field and down to the level of division staffs.

So far, the releases have tended to be associated either with major attacks that netted significant numbers of enemy fighters or with lengthy operations that have spanned days or weeks. On Saturday, for instance, the U.S. military reported 20 insurgents killed and one captured in raids on five houses suspected of sheltering foreign fighters in a town near the Syrian border. Six days earlier, the 2nd Marine Division issued a statement saying an estimated 70 suspected insurgents had died in the Ramadi area as a result of three separate airstrikes by fighter jets and helicopters.

That Oct. 16 statement reflected some of the pitfalls associated with releasing such statistics. The number was immediately challenged by witnesses, who said many of those killed were not insurgents but civilians, including women and children.

Privately, several uniformed military and civilian defense officials expressed concern that the pendulum may have swung too far, with body counts now creeping into too many news releases from Iraq and Afghanistan. They also questioned the effectiveness of citing such figures in conflicts where the enemy has shown itself capable of rapidly replacing dead fighters and where commanders acknowledge great uncertainty about the total size of the enemy force.

Nevertheless, no formal review of the practice has been ordered, according to spokesmen at the Pentagon and in Baghdad. Several senior officers and Pentagon officials involved in shaping communications strategies argued that the occasional release of body counts has important value, particularly when used to convey the scale of individual operations.

"Specific numbers are used to periodically provide context and help frame particular engagements," said Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, director of communications for the U.S. military command in Baghdad. He added, however, that there is no plan "to issue such numbers on a regular basis to score progress."

During the Vietnam War, enemy body counts became a regular feature in military statements intended to demonstrate progress. But the statistics ended up proving poor indicators of the war's course. Pressure on U.S. units to produce high death tolls led to inflated tallies, which tore at Pentagon credibility.

"In Vietnam, we were pursuing a strategy of attrition, so body counts became the measure of performance for military units," said Conrad C. Crane, director of the military history institute at the U.S. Army War College. "But the numbers got so wrapped up with career aspirations that they were sometimes falsified."

The Vietnam experience led U.S. commanders to shun issuing enemy death tallies in later conflicts, through the initial stages of the Iraq war. "We don't do body counts on other people," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in November 2003, when asked on "Fox News Sunday" whether the number of enemy dead exceeded the U.S. toll.

Sounds like the Pentagon is desperate for any bit of information that somehow sounds like they're making progress in Iraq. Well, besides the news that 1,997 Americans (so far) have lost their lives in this illegal war.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Patience

No, my pretties, I haven't abandoned you. I've been busy gathering some background information for two projects I'm working on. I'll have an announcement regarding those projects in a few days. More posts coming soon!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bazilian

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing.

He concludes by saying: 'Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed.'

'OH NO!' the president exclaims. 'That's terrible!'

His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the president sits, head in his hands.

Finally, the president looks up and asks,

'How many is a brazillion?' "

Friday, October 07, 2005

SCOTUS Trivia


From the Washington Post:

How many people have been appointed to the Supreme Court without prior judicial experience before becoming a justice?
16
24
42
55

(Answer below the fold)

The correct answer - 42. The last person nominated without prior judicial experience was William Rehnquist.

Why Does Sen. Bond Support Torture?

Wednesday night the U. S. Senate voted 90-9 to approve an amendment that would prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held. Nine senators, all Republicans voted against the measure. Among them, Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri.

Why does Kit Bond support torture?

Friday Beagle Blogging


"Is it time to leave for Apple Butter Makin Days?"

Baxter, Mrs. DocLarry and I will make our annual trek to Mt. Vernon, Missouri tomorrow to enjoy the sunshine, do some people-watching, listen to some live music, buy Baxter a scarf, buy DocLarry a Christmas light bauble (he does love his light displays!), and buy some fresh-made apple butter.

Say hi if you see us there.

How Low Can He Go?


I'm not sure whether to celebrate or cry over the latest CBS News Poll. Dubya's overall job approval rating has dropped to the lowest it's ever been, 37 percent.

How bad is that? Richard Nixon’s approval rating in the summer of 1973 when the Watergate scandal was in full swing was 39%.

President George W. Bush's overall job approval rating has reached the lowest ever measured in this poll, and evaluations of his handling of Iraq, the economy and even his signature issue, terrorism, are also at all-time lows. More Americans than at any time since he took office think he does not share their priorities.

The public's concerns affect their view of the state of the country. 69 percent of Americans say things in the U.S. are pretty seriously off on the wrong track — the highest number since CBS News started asking the question in 1983. Today, just 26 percent say things are going in the right direction.

Lots of interesting details. Go read the whole thing. Then think about who you voted for in 2000 and 2004. Happy with your decision?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Indiana to Require Marriage for Parenthood

Read that headline again. The state of Indiana wants to make "unauthorized reproduction" a crime. Republican Senator Patricia Miller is both the Indiana General Assembly's Health Finance Commission Chair and the sponsor of new legislation that will make marriage a requirement for motherhood. The legislation includes specific criminal penalties for unmarried women who do become pregnant "by means other than sexual intercourse."

From a diary at DailyKos (emphasis mine):

According to a draft of the recommended change in state law, every woman in Indiana seeking to become a mother through assisted reproduction therapy such as in vitro fertilization, sperm donation, and egg donation, must first file for a "petition for parentage" in their local county probate court.

Only women who are married will be considered for the "gestational certificate" that must be presented to any doctor who facilitates the pregnancy. Further, the "gestational certificate" will only be given to married couples that successfully complete the same screening process currently required by law of adoptive parents.

Miller says she believes the new law will protect children in the state of Indiana and make parenting laws more explicit. Miller says the requirement of marriage for parenting is for the benefit of the children that result from infertility treatments.

"We did want to address the issue of whether or not the law should allow single people to be parents. Studies have shown that a child raised by both parents - a mother and a father - do better. So, we do want to have laws that protect the children," she explained.

When asked specifically if she believes marriage should be a requirement for motherhood, and if that is part of the bill's intention, Sen. Miller responded, "Yes. Yes, I do."

As one commenter put it, "a man better get laid if a baby is being made." A draft of the legislation is available in PDF form here.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Kodak Moment?


AP photo captioned: Harriet Miers, at the time staff secretary, is seen on Aug. 6, 2001, briefing President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Yes, I know. I've been a neglectful blogger lately. Let me attempt to rectify that with this.

The photo and caption above accompanied this AP article about Dubya's latest crony nominee, Harriet Miers.

Gee, August 6, 2001. Why does that date sound familiar? Wasn't there a memo Dubya was supposed to have read on that date? I wonder, could this be a photo of that memo? What did the memo say again? Wasn't it something like....

BIN LADEN DETERMINED TO STRIKE IN US

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Racism in America

It's alive and well. Unfortunately. Obvious examples emanate from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Bill Bennett provides another.

Bennett has made morality and personal responsibility an integral part of the political debate. Bennett portrays liberals as inherently less moral than conservatives, more given to excusing personal weaknesses, and unwilling to confront the vices that destroy families. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, Bennett was among the president's most unrelenting detractors.

But there's one vice Bennett hasn't attacked...gambling. Perhaps that's because he's a heavy gambler with estimated losses in the millions. Now we also know Bennett is a racist.

Media Matters has the story:

Addressing a caller's suggestion that the "lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years" would be enough to preserve Social Security's solvency, radio host and former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett dismissed such "far-reaching, extensive extrapolations" by declaring that if "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies "would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," then added again, "but the crime rate would go down."

How many Republicans will need to publicly admit their racist views before the average American voter realizes the GOP is inherently racist?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Ahoy! It's Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Shiver me timbers, I nearly missed it. It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Arrr!

As noted on their web site, "Talk Like A Pirate Day is an original concept created in a moment of temporary insanity by John Baur and Mark Summers."

Avast, me hearties! Don't be a bilge rat! Smartly grab a bottle o' rum, kick aft, and talk like a pirate. Savvy?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Aha! It's The Sierra Club's Fault!

Unable to effectively blame Louisiana Gov. Blanco for the federal government's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, now the Bush administration (i.e. Karl Rove) are trying to blame environmental groups.

The Clarion-Ledger has details:

The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."

Cynthia Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said Thursday she couldn't comment "because it's an internal e-mail."

Shown a copy of the e-mail, David Bookbinder, senior attorney for Sierra Club, remarked, "Why are they (Bush administration officials) trying to smear us like this?"

Why? Because wingnuts said to:
Whoever is behind the e-mail may have spotted the Sept. 8 issue of National Review Online that chastised the Sierra Club and other environmental groups for suing to halt the corps' 1996 plan to raise and fortify 303 miles of Mississippi River levees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.

The corps settled the litigation in 1997, agreeing to hold off on some work until an environmental impact could be completed. The National Review article concluded: "Whether this delay directly affected the levees that broke in New Orleans is difficult to ascertain."

The problem with that conclusion?

The levees that broke causing New Orleans to flood weren't Mississippi River levees. They were levees that protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain levees on the other side of the city.

When Katrina struck, the hurricane pushed tons of water from the Gulf of Mexico into Lake Pontchartrain, which borders the city to the north. Corps officials say the water from the lake cleared the levees by 3 feet. It was those floodwaters, they say, that caused the levees to degrade until they ruptured, causing 80 percent of New Orleans to flood.

Bookbinder said the purpose of the litigation by the Sierra Club and others in 1996 was where the corps got the dirt for the project. "We had no objections to levees," he said. "We said, 'Just don't dig film materials out of the wetlands. Get the dirt from somewhere else.' "

If you listen to what some conservatives say about environmentalists, he said, "We're responsible for most of the world's ills."

You might wonder what the Army Corps of Engineers has to say about all this:
Since 1999, corps officials have studied the concept of building huge floodgates to prevent flooding in New Orleans from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane.

Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2001 listed a hurricane striking New Orleans as one of the top three catastrophic events the nation could face (the others being a terrorist attack on New York City and an earthquake in San Francisco), funding for corps projects aimed at curbing flooding in southeast Louisiana lagged.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has said the White House cut $400 million from corps' requests for flood control money in the area.

In fiscal 2006, the corps had hoped to receive up to $10 million in funding for a six-year feasibility study on such floodgates. According to a recent estimate, the project would take 10 years to build and cost $2.5 billion.

But remember, according to Dubya, no one "anticipated the breach of the levees."

Roy Blunt on Katrina

As a follow up to the post below regarding Dubya's efforts to destroy "rebuild" following Katrina, here's what Southwest Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt says:

I am committed to making sure that those affected by this tragedy will have the full support of the Federal government to get the resources they need. It is critical that we respond in a rational organized manner in order to best help those who are suffering.


That includes pushing through more tax cuts for the rich:
The ultimate Republican response to Hurricane Katrina came from House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo. He said Congress should consider tax cuts as a party "stimulus package" in response to Katrina.

It also includes increasing pollution and protecting oil company profits:
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) today announced the formation of the Gas Price Task force, comprised of Members of Congress and dedicated to immediate action to ease the widespread fuel supply crisis occurring throughout much of the nation.

The task force’s first action was a letter to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commending their prompt actions to provide short-term motor fuel specification waivers and advocating for approval of pending fuel waiver requests, designed to temporarily reduce the number of boutique fuels required throughout the country. These boutique fuels cause the price of gasoline to spike during emergencies, such as Hurricane Katrina, which take refineries that produce the special blends off-line.

“While there is some good news coming out of the Gulf Coast regarding the restoration of crude production, refining capacity, and pipeline transportation, we are concerned that gasoline and diesel fuel inventories have not had the chance to recover enough to allow for the expiration of current waivers or to stop considering additional measures to bring more motor fuel supplies to the market,” wrote Blunt, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the members of the Task Force.

The Gas Price Task Force, comprised of Blunt and Representatives Vito Fossella (N.Y.), Steve Pearce (NM), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Robin Hayes (hN.C.), Paul Ryan (Wisc.), Jerry Moran (KS), Jack Kingston (GA) and Eric Cantor (Va.), plans to work together on solutions on pricing, supply, and regulatory issues.

“In the wake of the Katrina Disaster, the information drawn from this Task Force will help our members to explain what is happening with gas prices to their constituents while finding reasonable solutions to rising prices, which will help Americans and their families now and in the future,” added Blunt.

I especially like that last part--the information will help explain what is happening with gas prices while finding reasonable solutions. Like lowering emission standards for "boutique fuels required throughout the country." California can certainly handle more pollution.

Note also that the task force is made up of Republicans. Evidently Democrats couldn't possibly come up with reasonable solutions to rising gas prices.

And Roy Blunt wants to make sure only Republican-approved corporations profit from Katrina.
Roy Blunt also said Friday that Gulf States residents who opted out of property insurance must shoulder responsibility for the $200 billion cleanup.

"Frankly, we don't want to send the message here that people who don't have insurance come out of this as well as the people who do have insurance," he said. "We can't teach the wrong lessons here."

Roy Blunt. Compassionate Corporate Lackey.

Missouri can do better than Roy Blunt.

Bush's Priority in NOLA: Cut Wages, Reward Cronies

What was the first thing President Bush did to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina? Cut their wages. On September 8th, Dubya suspended the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 in certain areas directly affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Dubya's action allows companies lining up for a piece of the $200 or $300 billion needed to rebuild the Gulf Coast region to cut the wages of the folks who are actually going to do the work.

It's important to also note that companies connected to Bush and Cheney have already been awarded no-bid contracts in the recovery effort.

At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President George W. Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.

One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton.

Bechtel National Inc., a unit of San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp., has also been selected by FEMA to provide short-term housing for people displaced by the hurricane. Bush named Bechtel's CEO to his Export Council and put the former CEO of Bechtel Energy in charge of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Experts say it has been common practice in both Republican and Democratic administrations for policy makers to take lobbying jobs once they leave office, and many of the same companies seeking contracts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have already received billions of dollars for work in Iraq.

Halliburton alone has earned more than $9 billion. Pentagon audits released by Democrats in June showed $1.03 billion in "questioned" costs and $422 million in "unsupported" costs for Halliburton's work in Iraq.

This is the same administration that cannot account for $8.8 (B)billion it transferred to government ministries in Iraq. True, the money reportedly came from revenues from the United Nations' former oil-for-food program, oil sales and seized assets -- all Iraqi money. Still, it's just missing. No record of it. Nearly NINE BILLION DOLLARS. Gone.

But it's not all bad news. As he so often has, Dubya seems to have messed up in his proclamation. According to Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Dubya was in such a hurry to cut victim's wages he failed to follow the law.
The President suspended wage standards for workers on the Gulf Coast before he declared a national emergency. That means he was so focused on cutting the wages of people who'd be returning to the Gulf Coast to rebuild their lives and their communities that, in order to hasten the suspension, he failed to follow the law. And at the same time the White House was cutting workers' wages, it was busy awarding no-bid contracts. The President has proven once again that he's more interested in governing for the few than in governing for all of us.

The President's pay cut affects tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of Americans who desperately need a decent income to rebuild their lives. People working construction jobs in the Gulf Coast might only have earned $7 or $8 in the first place; now, the only protection left for them is the federal minimum wage, which is a disgraceful $5.15 an hour because Republicans repeatedly refuse to increase it.

What the President has done is immoral.

I agree. America can do better than George W. Bush.

Bush Speech: All About Image (Part 2)

Prior to Dubya's reading to the nation speech Thursday I wrote this:

Once again, Dubya is all about the image. Jackson Square, including the St. Louis Cathedral, is one of the oldest sites in New Orleans. It's in the historic French Quarter, it's the spiritual and cultural center of the city. It's also on relatively high ground these days.

What I'd really like to see is for at least one of the networks to have the courage to do a split screen with Bush on one side and images of the parts of New Orleans still under water on the other.

Editorializing? You bet. But what is Bush's speech if not propaganda? Dubya is concerned about his image, not about New Orleans. He's concerned about the hits he's taken in the polls because of the slow response to Katrina.


Now we know it was worse than I anticipated. NBC anchor Brian Williams noted this on his blog:
I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

Now for those of you ready to jump on this report because you watched ABC state emphatically that the White House was providing the power for Dubya's little dog and pony show speech: Yes, that is true. But that's not what Brian Williams was blogging about. He was discussing power turned on in the warehouse district (not Jackson Square) so that Dubya's motorcade wouldn't have to drive through dark streets. Then the power went off.

I'm also a bit disturbed by that statement regarding the White House supplying the power for the speech. How many tax dollars did it take to get Dubya and his entourage to New Orleans, prepare the site, set up the equipment (including the flood lights), and tear it down? Why couldn't that money go toward relief efforts? Why didn't Bush speak from the White House?

Because it's all about the image.

America Can Do Better Than George W. Bush.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Comment Spam

I've turned on word verification in the comments section. I've been getting too much spam posted there and am tired of having to delete it. This means that you will have to type in a ramdom word before you can post a comment. Nothing to be concerned about. Just another simple step. Sorry for any inconvenience. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited by law. Member FDIC. Nothing to see here. Move along. These aren't the droids we're looking for. TTFN.

Bush Speech: All About Image

Dubya is scheduled to speak to the nation on prime-time television tonight. It will be, as usual with Dubya, a carefully choreographed event. No live audience is planned (wouldn't want anyone who disagrees to be in shouting distance) and even the media have been told they won't be allowed to stray from their vans.

I find this report from Nedra Pickler interesting:

It is Bush's first formal prime-time speech during more than two weeks of suffering along the Gulf, with most of the victims chased out by floodwaters in New Orleans. Bush planned to speak from the heart of the French Quarter, while across the city officials were still working to pump out waters and collect bodies left behind.

Bush planned to show sympathy for the misery brought on by the killer storm while charting a hopeful vision for the future. Many people, including members of the president's party, have said he should have given that kind of speech soon after the hurricane made landfall along the coast on Aug. 29. . . .

Rather than speak before a live audience, Bush planned to stand alone and broadcast his message directly into the camera from the evacuated city's historic Jackson Square, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity since the site had not been announced.

The square and its most famed landmark, the St. Louis Cathedral, were on high enough ground to avoid flooding but did not escape damage from Katrina's 145-mph winds. Two massive oak trees outside the 278-year-old cathedral came out by the roots, ripping out a 30-foot section of ornamental iron fence and snapping off the thumb and forefinger of the outstretched hand on a marble statue of Jesus.

Once again, Dubya is all about the image. Jackson Square, including the St. Louis Cathedral, is one of the oldest sites in New Orleans. It's in the historic French Quarter, it's the spiritual and cultural center of the city. It's also on relatively high ground these days.

What I'd really like to see is for at least one of the networks to have the courage to do a split screen with Bush on one side and images of the parts of New Orleans still under water on the other.

Editorializing? You bet. But what is Bush's speech if not propaganda? Dubya is concerned about his image, not about New Orleans. He's concerned about the hits he's taken in the polls because of the slow response to Katrina. As noted at AmericaBlog:
Giving a few well choreographed speeches won't change the fact that Bush stayed on vacation while parts of our country were being wiped out. Spinning the media won't change the fact that this country is not safe under the leadership of George Bush. Running a smear campaign won't change the fact that George Bush is a failed President.


America can do better than George W. Bush.

Bad Joke. Bad. Bad Joke.

This may be a bit old to some of you, but I just read it for the first time.

Q: What is Bush's position on Roe v. Wade?

A: He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.

I'm sorry. I annoy me, too.

Iowa Senator Shows Some Smarts

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Grassley has been portrayed as a country bumpkin by Iowa news media, including yours truly in a previous life. Yesterday, Grassley showed he's not the "dumb farmer" others accuse him of being.

The Des Moines Register reports:

It would appear "unseemly" for Congress to push through a permanent repeal of the estate tax while also trying to come up with money for victims of the hurricane disaster in the Gulf, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa said today.

Until recently, the Senate had been on track to consider a permanent repeal of the estate tax or "death tax." The tax generally is levied on the estates of those who die leaving behind $1 million or more in assets, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The tax gradually is being phased out, under tax cut packages approved by Congress and would be gone by 2010. But that would last just a year and the tax would be reinstated in 2011.

The repeal has been championed by groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation but opposed by some Democrats who view it as a giveaway for the wealthy.

Grassley said in a conference call with Iowa reporters that he doubts now the tax repeal will be considered in 2005.

"It's a little unseemly to be talking about doing away with or enhancing the estate tax at a time when people are suffering," said Grassley, a Republican who is in charge of the committee that writes U.S. tax policy.

Grassley's statements are a surprise because Grover Norquist used Hurricane Katrina to argue that the Senate should vote to repeal (PDF) the estate tax, arguing it "is exactly what the residents of the Gulf Region need at this time to start the rebuilding process for their neighborhoods and more importantly for their lives."

Fortunately, some Republican senators came to their senses.

The Register article caught our eye because of the byline. We went to college with Jane Norman, took some classes with her, and wrote for the campus newspaper and a weekly campus TV news program with her. Alas, she's covering Washington and we're writing a blog.

Why Do Bond & Talent Hate America?

Missouri senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent joined their fellow Republicans in killing legislation establishing an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate what went so horribly wrong with Hurricane Katrina.

According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 76% of Americans want an independent bipartisan commission, like the one that investigated the 9/11 attacks, to investigate what went wrong.

Yesterday, every Republican U.S. Senator (except the Senator from Louisiana, who simply didn't vote) voted AGAINST forming such a commission. All 54 of them.

Why? Don't they want to find out how we avoid an even larger catastrophe the next time Osama attacks a major American city with a chemical, biological or nuclear bomb?

Every Democratic Senator (except for one who didn't vote at all) voted in favor of an independent, bipartisan commission. All 44 of them.

Which party wants to protect America, and which one wants to cover-up anything that might make them look bad?

Georgie Needs A Potty Break


U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005. World leaders are exploring ways to revitalize the United Nations at a summit on Wednesday but their blueprint falls short of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from want, persecution and war. REUTERS/Rick Wilking.

Here's the uncropped picture at Reuters.

I have nothing to add.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hey Look! Another Missing White Woman!


Wonder how long it will be before the MSM become obsessed with the latest missing blonde white woman? NBC's Today show did a tear-jerking bit this morning while ABC and CBS were showing Bush's speech at the U.N.

The Washington Post posted this article yesterday:

Eager to begin her freshman year at Virginia Commonwealth University, Taylor Behl created an online profile and wrote that she was looking for new friends in the Richmond area. Last week, she told her roommate she was going out for a few hours. She did not come back.

Behl, 17, was last seen Sept. 5, and campus officials said yesterday they still do not suspect foul play. But they are becoming increasingly concerned, and the investigation into her disappearance gains momentum and urgency with each passing day.

[snip]

Behl's mother, Janet Pelasara, drove to Richmond from her Vienna home Wednesday, hours after her daughter's disappearance was reported to campus police. She said in several telephone interviews that Behl is an outgoing, friendly girl, not the sort who would cease contact with her family and friends.

"She's very family-oriented," Pelasara said. "She's basically a happy kid, a good kid. She's fun; she's funny; she's smart as a whip. I'm very worried about her."

Nothing wrong with reporting this story. But let's hope CNN, FOX, and MSNBC don't go to wall-to-wall coverage as they have in the past.

Let's also hope Behl is found alive and well.