Monday, February 27, 2006

Civil Liberties Rally Thursday

Granny Geek reminds us of an important meeting this week. The new Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri will speak to those assembled. The rally is from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 2nd at Hickok's Restaurant in downtown Springfield, across from Patton Alley Pub. Snacks are provided and a cash bar will be available. A $10 donation is suggested. Go. Please.

The Mighty Hunter

Baxter is very pleased with himself tonight. He proved he can hunt today. Provided, of course, that the quarry is a squirrel--a dead one. A couple years ago while walking through East Lawn Cemetary here in Springfield, Baxter came prancing toward my wife and I with something in his mouth. He was high-stepping, very proud of himself. It was the dead of winter, rather cold, with a dusting of snow on the ground. Our beagle-who-can't-hunt was bringing us a frozen, dead squirrel.

Today, while again walking in East Lawn Cemetary, Baxter found another dead squirrel. This one wasn't frozen, and Baxter wanted to carry it for a while. Who says this dog don't hunt?

Of course, we're curious as to why there are so many dead squirrels in East Lawn Cemetary. I know people are dying to get in, but squirrels?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Vacation Destinations

Weird programming on The Travel Channel this evening.

  • 5 P.M. The Lost City of Atlantis
  • 6 P.M. The Bermuda Triangle: Lost at Sea
  • 7 P.M. Bigfootville

Places I want to travel, I'm sure. The last one is in Oklahoma, east of Tulsa. Not that far from here, actually.

Once spotted a Bigfoot-like being in the area where I grew up. Not me personally. Kept hoping I'd see it, but I never did. At the time, I delivered the Sunday newspaper on a rural route so was out driving in the country in the wee small hours of the night. By myself. In the dark. Alone.

Only thing I ever saw were farm animals and a fox. And a comet. It was the 70s.

But Can He Walk and Chew Gum?

On July 6 word came that President Bush had had another cycling accident, injuring himself and a Scottish police constable. Few details were released at the time. But today, reveals the truth: George Bush cannot 'pedal, wave and speak at same time':

It was "about 1800 hours on Wednesday, 6 July, 2005" that a detachment of Strathclyde police constables, in "Level 2 public order dress [anti-riot gear]," formed a protective line at the gate at the hotel's rear entrance, in case demonstrators penetrated the biggest-ever security operation on Scottish soil.

The official police incident report states: "[The unit] was requested to cover the road junction on the Auchterarder to Braco Road as the President of the USA, George Bush, was cycling through." The report goes on: "[At] about 1800 hours the President approached the junction at speed on the bicycle. The road was damp at the time. As the President passed the junction at speed he raised his left arm from the handlebars to wave to the police officers present while shouting 'thanks, you guys, for coming'.

"As he did this he lost control of the cycle, falling to the ground, causing both himself and his bicycle to strike [the officer] on the lower legs. [The officer] fell to the ground, striking his head. The President continued along the ground for approximately five metres, causing himself a number of abrasions. The officers... then assisted both injured parties."

The injured officer, who was not named, was whisked to Perth Royal Infirmary. The report adds: "While en-route President Bush phoned [the officer], enquiring after his wellbeing and apologising for the accident."

At hospital, a doctor examined the constable and diagnosed damage to his ankle ligaments and issued him with crutches. The cause was officially recorded as: "Hit by moving/falling object."

No details of damage to the President are recorded from his close encounter with the policeman and the road, although later reports said he had been "bandaged" by a White House physician after suffering scrapes on his hands and arms.

At the time Bush laughed off the incident, saying he should start "acting his age".

But wait! There's more!
In Scotland, an accident such as the one at Gleneagles could have led to police action. Earlier this year, Strathclyde Police issued three fixed penalty notices to errant cyclists as part of a crack-down on rogue riders. Legal experts also suggested lesser mortals could have ended up with a fixed penalty fine, prosecution, or at least a good ticking-off from officers.

John Scott, a human rights lawyer, said: "There's certainly enough in this account for a charge of careless driving. Anyone else would have been warned for dangerous driving.

"I have had clients who have been charged with assaulting a police officer for less than this. The issue of how long the police officer was out of action for is also important. He was away from work for 14 weeks, and that would normally be very significant in a case like this."

No-one was available for comment from the White House.

So Dubya has officially violated the law in Scotland as well as the U.S. Will he by punished for any offense? I'm not holding my breath.

Street Talk and Racism

Street Talk is officially one month old. You may listen to all four programs at our web site, We appreciate all feedback, good, bad or indifferent. You may email us at, or feel free to leave comments on this blog or on Ron Davis's blog, Chatter.

We're planning a show or two on racism in the Ozarks, and we'd like your help.

What should we cover? Who should we talk to? What do YOU want to see, hear, read, know about racism in the Ozarks?

Email your ideas to, or post them here or on Chatter. We'll be in touch.

That Monett Fire

Several articles, letters, and blog posts have been written about the February 13th fire near Monett in which the Monett Rural Fire Association stood by while property burned. The property is owned by Bivaldo Rueda, who had not paid dues to the Monett Rural Fire Association. Reaction has varied, which I think surprises some people.

The Springfield News-Leader published a story Friday that provided some additional reaction, but not much new information. In fact, the follow-up story contradicts the News-Leader's February 17th report which included this:

Rueda managed to get one mobile home out of danger, using a garden hose and buckets, but was burned in the process, [Barry County Sheriff's Detective Robert] Evenson said.

The Friday story, written by the same reporter (Ryan Slight), contradicts the "garden hose and buckets" claim and led to the article's headline ('I felt like I was ... in a movie'):
Rueda claimed some firefighters seemed amused as he scrambled to fill water in a bucket to douse flames.

"I'm struggling to put out the fire and I'm sweating big time," he said. "I felt like I was a major participant in a movie, and the other guys were the audience."

A few neighbors were sympathetic and wanted to assist, but there was only one bucket, Rueda said.

"There was not even a garden hose," he said.

This slight difference (no pun intended) is not a big deal, but it does indicate that what has been reported may not be the complete or entirely accurate story.

Other bits and pieces also may lead to different conclusions, now that they are known. For example, the lead from the original story. . .
Firefighters near Monett stood by and watched a fire destroy a garage and a vehicle because the property owner, who was injured battling the flames, had not paid membership dues.

. . .leaves me with the impression that the firefighters showed up, but did nothing. The follow-up article's lead leaves a different impression:
Bivaldo Rueda was pleased to see a "brave" firefighter come to his rescue last week.

A Monett Rural Fire Department member appeared with a water hose within minutes of a fire that broke out in a garage on his property south of Monett, Rueda said Thursday through a Spanish-speaking interpreter.

But the firefighter's supervisor ordered him to halt after discovering Rueda did not pay membership dues to the department, the Monett man said.

Which is worse, starting to help and being stopped, or never helping at all? Which seems more cruel?

Some people have defended the Monett Rural Fire Association (which must not be confused with the Monett City Fire Department) which has a long-standing policy of not fighting fires for those who have not paid their annual dues. And on one level, I can't blame them. According to Randy Cole, assistant state fire marshal, there is no state law requiring membership-supported fire districts to help nonmembers in any situation. And, as noted by Monett Rural Fire Department Chief Ronnie Myers the membership-based organization could not survive if people thought the department would respond for free.

Others have questioned the motives of the firefighters, believing race was involved in their decision NOT to fight the fire. The property owner is Hispanic.
Rueda said he enjoyed living in Monett for the past 11 years, far from the bustling traffic and higher crime rate in his former home of Dallas. The Mexican native, who speaks some English, has been a U.S. citizen for 20 years.

Some might argue that a person who has been a U.S. citizen for 20 years ought to speak more than "some" English. But is that relevant?
Rueda, a 45-year-old father of two children, said he never received any notice that he needed fire protection. The department has said it sent out fliers.

"I just assumed. I never thought about it," Rueda said.

His home is located in the city of Monett, which has a tax-supported department, he said.

Rueda has four acres south of Monett where he indulges a hobby of fixing cars for himself and numerous relatives.

Rueda does not live on the property where the fire took place. He lives in the city of Monett where his home is protected by the Monett City Fire Department. Would it occur to any one living in a tax-based fire department community that they might have to pay dues for fire protection on rural property?

I must confess, this is the first time I've ever heard of such a practice. I grew up in a farming community of 6,500 people. We had a volunteer city fire department that also answered calls to rural areas. News reports of rural fires always included that the firefighters had used the truck provided by the Farmers Insurance Association. It's offices were on the ground floor of the building that housed the first radio station at which I worked. I always thought it odd that an insurance company would provide a fire truck. Now I wonder if that truck was paid for through dues area farmers paid to the association.

This is one time the News-Leader could have made excellent use of their web site by providing a map and list of fire districts, indicating which are dues supported and which are tax supported. No need to print it in the paper using limited space. But it would have been perfect for the web site. But that's another rant.

Is what the Monett Rural Fire Association did unusual? That question is hard to answer, but the News-Leader does provide some evidence that it is not.
Melvin Owens, Mount Vernon Rural Fire Department chief, said his membership-driven department relies on an estimated $25,000 it receives in annual dues. The department routinely puts out notices reminding the public of fire membership, he said.

While his department and others benefitted from equipment provided in Homeland Security grants, department budgets remain tight, he said.

Mount Vernon's policy is to respond to a fire involving a nonmember and bill the person. The person is charged $150 per firetruck and $25 per volunteer at the scene, Owens said.

"If they won't pay it, we won't be back," he said.

However, the department would not ignore anyone in a life-threatening ordeal, such as someone trapped in a burning building, the chief said.

Owens recalled helping one nonmember with a house fire in November, but the person never paid. When the nonmember's property caught on fire in recent weeks, the department declined to help, he said.

I don't recall reading or hearing a major outcry over that incident. So is race a factor in the Monett story only because the news media have chosen to make it one? Consider this bit:
Doug Harris, who lived two houses away from Rueda's rural property, said immigrants should take initiative to know whether they have fire protection.

Newcomers should comprehend English and understand American laws and customs before moving to the country, Harris said.

"I don't think it's necessarily our responsibility to educate them," he said.

Harris, who pays annual membership dues, said he did not want the rural fire department charging nonmembers a higher fee for service.

"If they did that, I probably wouldn't pay a membership. I would just wait until I had a fire and then pay them whatever. That's probably what a lot of people would do," he said.

Here, the reporter has placed an emphasis on race by including Mr. Harris' thoughts that immigrants should comprehend English, which can only refer to those from non-English speaking countries.

And let us not forget the Monett area is home to Glenn Miller, director of distributions for the Aryan Alternative, a white supremacist publication. Racism is certainly no stranger to southwest Missouri.

To its credit, the News-Leader "filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking any written policy on how the department decides whether to fight a fire. The request also sought, among other items, a copy of anything that was sent to property owners explaining a need to pay for fire protection."

On Thursday, in direct response to the February 13th fire, the Purdy Fire Department announced a new campaign to broaden its service area, including taking memberships all the way to the southern city limits of Monett. From the Monett Times:
"We've had a number of calls since the fire south of Monett on February 13th from people concerned that we will watch their house burn down if they haven't paid in time. Although it's important for dues to be paid, our policy is to fight any fire we are called to and check membership status afterward.

"Missouri statutes allow us to respond and bill non-members $100 for responding, plus up to $500 per hour of operations. We have utilized the billing process for quite some time now, and have had little problems collecting the fees," the [Purdy Fire Chief Mike Redshaw} added.

UPDATE: The link to the Monett Times article had expired. I've updated the link to the archived story.

Friday, February 24, 2006

GOP Can't Get Its Story Straight

It seems some Republicans think too much is being said about the president's illegal spying program, while others think it needs more discussion.
On the one hand, Missouri Senator Kit Bond, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the surveillance program could be destroyed if investigations and discussion by the media continue.

Bond said that while he respects the media’s rights, the more the program is discussed, the less useful it becomes.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney says the NSA spying should be an election issue.
"And with an important election coming up, people need to know just how we view the most critical questions of national security, and how we propose to defend the nation that all of us, Republicans and Democrats, love and are privileged to serve," Cheney said.

So I guess it's OK to talk about the illegal spying program as long as you make it a campaign issue. Here's hoping the Democrats do exactly that.

Bush Speaks the Truth?


President Bush on Thursday defended his administration's decision to allow a company from an Arab country to operate six major U.S. ports, saying, "People don't need to worry about security."

"This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security of the United States of America," Bush told reporters during a Cabinet meeting.

In other words, if Bush was truly concerned about national security, the ports deal would not go forward.

Got that? If Bush were truly concerned about national security, the UAE deal would not go forward.

Straight from the horse's mouth.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Four-ty Things

That diabolical Snarling Marmot tagged me with the "Four Things Meme," circumnavigating the blogosphere like a runaway virus.

Curmudgeonly, here goes.

1. Four Jobs I’ve Had

  • Faculty member at universities in Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, and Missouri
  • Assistant Producer for NBC News presidential debate coverage
  • Car wash attendant in Washington, Iowa
  • Character in a gorilla suit for a children's TV show in Des Moines, Iowa
2. Four movies I could watch over and over
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Monty Python's In Search of the Holy Grail
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • You Can't Take it With You
3. Four places I’ve lived
  • Washington, Iowa
  • Haslett, Michigan
  • Evansville, Indiana
  • Lee's Summit, Missouri
4. Four TV shows I love
  • Lost
  • Stargate, SG1
  • Law and Order
  • Street Talk
5. Four places I’ve vacationed
  • North Adams, Massachusetts
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Driving from Iowa to Missouri to Kansas to Colorado to Utah to Nevada to California to Nevada to Arizona to New Mexico to Oklahoma to Missouri to Iowa
  • Driving Historic Route 66 through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas
6. Four of my favorite dishes
  • Greek Potatos
  • Lasagna
  • Chicken BLT Salad from Wendy's
  • Anything my wife makes
7. Four sites I visit daily
8. Four places I’d rather be right now.
  • New Mexico
  • Deadwood, South Dakota
  • Anywhere with my wife and beagle
  • In an underground bunker at an undisclosed location
9. Four books I love
  • Anything by Tony Hillerman
  • Blind Descent by Nevad Barr
  • Cobra by Timothy Zahn
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
10. Four video games I could play over and over
  • Pong
  • Ms. Pac Man
  • Frogger
  • Flea

I'm supposed to tag four bloggers. Many of those I know have already been tagged. So. . .

you've been tagged.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Republicans: We Don't Care About Democracy

Certainly seems to be the message with regards to Bush's illegal NSA wiretapping. Ohio Senator Mike DeWine has introduced a proposal to exclude Bush's illegal NSA wiretapping program from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Last night on Fox News, DeWine explained his motivations:

You know, there's been some controversy about whether or not this program is legal or is not legal. I think we need to get beyond that. And the vast majority of American people believe these calls need to be listened to. But we don' want to have any kind of debate about whether it's constitutional or not constitutional. So I think we need to put that beyond us.
DeWine says, and the White House agrees, there should be NO debate on whether the illegal wiretapping program is or is not constitutional. There should be no debate on whether the illegal wiretapping program is or is not illegal. (It is.) Doesn't sound terribly democratic, does it? President Bush and company keep insisting the program is legal and constitutional. And yet they are resisting any efforts to have a debate on the issue. If they're so confident, why not have a debate? Yesterday, after an intense lobbying campaign by Vice President Cheney, the Senate intelligence committee voted to adjourn without even considering a motion by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) to start an investigation. The motion to adjourn passed on a party-line vote. According to committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act will be "fixed" to accommodate BushCo's illegal wiretapping.

The Republican message is "The spying is legal, but we don't want any debate about whether it is legal, so let's pass a law to to exempt it from the law that makes it illegal and then it will be legal just as we have always said it was."

The Constitution specifically provides checks and balances on all three branches of government. Republicans seem determined to eliminate any such checks on the Presidency. I fully expect them to introduce legislation to eliminate presidential elections any day now.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Tutu: Gitmo is New South Africa

Remember when the United States was respected and admired for its openness and justice? Where did that country go? Why are we not marching in the streets?

From the BBC:

Tutu calls for Guantanamo closure

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has joined in the growing chorus of condemnation of America's Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

He said the detention camp was a stain on the character of the United States as a superpower and a democracy.

He also attacked Britain's 28-day detention period for terror suspects, calling it excessive and untenable.

His comments follow a UN report calling for the closure of the camp where some 500 "enemy combatants" have been held without trial for up to four years.

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Archbishop Tutu said he was alarmed that arguments used by the South African apartheid regime are now being used to justify anti-terror measures.

"It is disgraceful and one cannot find strong enough words to condemn what Britain and the United States and some of their allies have accepted," he said.

The respected clergyman said the rule of law had been "subverted horrendously" and he described the muted public outcry - particularly in America - as "saddening".

Only a handful of the approximately 500 detainees have been tried

Archbishop Tutu also attacked Tony Blair's failed attempt to hold terrorist suspects in Britain for up to 90 days without charge.

"Ninety days for a South African is an awful deja-vu because we had in South Africa in the bad old days a 90-day detention law," he said.

Under apartheid, as at Guantanamo, people were held for "unconscionably long periods" and then released, he said.

"Are you able to restore to those people the time when their freedom was denied them? If you have evidence for goodness sake produce it in a court of law," he said.

"People with power have an incredible capacity for wanting to be able to retain that power and don't like scrutiny."

The America I grew up in would never do what the Bush administration has done to people. America is not a police state. It is not a dictatorship. It is not a monarchy. At least it wasn't. America, as viewed by most of the world, is no longer a great and free country.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


In his taped, edited and massaged interview on the Faux News Network (the Voice of the Republican party), Dick Cheney said the day he shot Harry Whittington in the face and chest (keep that in mind--the Veep shot a man in the face) was one of "the worst days of my life." Today's gaggle with Scott McClellan produced an excellent question.

Q One other quick one. Vice President Cheney talked yesterday about the trauma of seeing his friend fall to the ground when he shot him, and I was wondering whether this has caused Mr. Cheney to reflect on the kind of trauma that's experienced daily by the men and women in the military who have to shoot people?

Or the men and women in the military who have to watch their friends and comrades become maimed or die?

Scott's response:
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, here's another example of where I think this town sometimes gets into taking an incident like this and trying to draw broader conclusions or over interpret or overanalyze things and get into all sorts of other issues. We are all deeply concerned about our men and women in uniform who have been injured. We are deeply concerned for all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom. And their families remain in our thoughts and prayers.

And I think you've seen that by what the President and Vice President have done, Victoria. They have visited the wounded, they have visited the families of the fallen, and they will continue to do so. But I think that it's just absurd to try to get into looking at it in the way that you just suggested.

So it is "absurd" to ask if the Veep, after shooting a friend in the face and claiming it has traumatized him, might have thought about how those in the military go through this trauma on a regular basis. Compassionate this conservative ain't!

Also note that Scottie cannot include, among the actions Bush and Cheney have taken, attendance at a fallen soldier's funeral. Hasn't happened in the nearly three years of the war in Iraq. Doubt we'll see Cheney at one ever. Someone might absurdly draw comparisons between Cheney's trauma and that of the fallen soldier's family.

Macs Not Safe From Viruses

Many (most?) Mac users chuckle whenever a new virus or worm or trojan horse alarms the Windows world. Mac-ites haven't had to worry too much about being infected by such "malware" due in part to the significantly larger number of Windows users, and the greater ease of hacking into the Windows operating system. Unfortunately, the Mac world may become as dangerous as the Windows world.

Computer security company Sophos says it has found the first Mac OSX worm.

The OSX/Leap-A worm spreads via the iChat instant messaging application, forwarding itself as a file called 'latestpics.tgz' (masquerading as screenshots of OS X 10.5) to contacts on the infected users' buddy list. When the archive file is opened on a computer it disguises its contents with a JPEG graphic icon in an attempt to convince people that it is harmless.

The worm uses the text 'oompa' as an infection marker in the resource forks of infected programs to prevent it from reinfecting the same files but doesn't appear to do any damage.

However resource forks are largely a thing of the past - a legacy from OS 9 - suggesting that few files on up-to-date systems will be infected.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos which makes anti-virus software for OS X said that Mac users should no longer think that they do not have to worry about viruses.

'Some owners of Mac computers have held the belief that Mac OS X is incapable of harbouring computer viruses, but Leap-A will leave them shellshocked, as it shows that the malware threat on Mac OS X is real,' he said.

He added that, 'Apple Mac users need to be just as careful running unknown or unsolicited code on their computers as their friends and colleagues running Windows,' although there is nothing in this alert to suggest anything of the sort.

Sophos, Symantec, McAfee and Intego have all added the code’s description to their Mac anti-virus software files, which can be downloaded from each publisher’s respective Web site.

If you're a Mac user and you encounter the “latestpics.tgz” file, avoid downloading or running it.

Roy Blunt Supports Unconstitutional Budget

The Republican Congressman certainly seems willing to ignore the constitution when it suits GOP purposes. On February 8th President Bush signed a budget bill which "tightens rules for Medicaid nursing home eligibility to make it more difficult for those who have transferred their assets to their families or to charities to qualify for Medicaid." That bill passed the House by a very narrow margin, 216-214. But there's a problem. The House bill doesn't match the Senate version. So it is technically unconstitutional.

More from the Associated Press:

A clerk's mistake could mean a budget bill President Bush signed isn't technically law, but congressional Republicans said again Wednesday they have no plans to try to fix the problem.

Even though Alabama attorney Jim Zeigler has filed a lawsuit charging the $39 billion deficit-cutting legislation Bush signed is unconstitutional because the House and Senate failed to pass identical versions, House GOP leaders insist there's no problem.

"I believe that it's law," said House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

Not so, says Zeigler, a Republican activist.

"An eighth-grader in civics class knows that a bill cannot become law unless the identical bill passes the House and Senate and is signed by the president," Zeigler said.

That silly constitution. It always wants things so precise and accurate.

College Students' Career Goals

What do today's college students aspire to be when they graduate? A snapshot is found in athletic team media guides, which often include comments from the student athletes. Reading through the 2005-2006 Drury University Lady Panthers Basketball guide we find these tidbits:

Amy Belew - Senior - Forward - Dream Job: Pro water skier
Molly Carter - Guard - Sophomore - Dream Job: International dessert taster
Bethany Creed - Senior - Guard - Dream Job: Surf Instructor
Katie Ekedahl - Junior - Center - Dream Job: Owning my own company
Becky Flippin - Sophomore - Guard - Dream Job: My own photography studio and darkroom
Greta Wiersch - Freshman - Guard - Dream Job: Job? I plan on being a trophy wife

Ms. Wiersch has certainly set a lofty goal for herself.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Use to be states would put up signs at road construction sites declaring "Your Highway Taxes at Work." Some found that offensive, though I don't know why. On the other hand, I understand perfectly why one would be upset at this bit of news.

From BrandWeek:

Report: Bush Spent $1.4 Billion on ‘Spin’
February 14, 2006

DALLAS -- The Bush administration spent $1.4 billion in taxpayer dollars on 137 contracts with advertising agencies over the past two-and-a-half years, according to a Government Accountability Office report released by House Democrats Monday.

With spending on public relations and other media included, federal agencies spent $1.6 billion on what some Democrats called "spin."

The six largest recipients of ad and PR dollars were Leo Burnett USA, $536 million; Campbell-Ewald, $194 million; GSD&M, $179 million; JWT, $148 million; Frankel, $133 million; and Ketchum, $78 million. The agencies received more than $1.2 billion in media contracts, according to the report.


Trends in spending on PR and ad contracts were not documented, but a prior study by the minority staff of the Government Reform Committee found that spending on public relations contracts rose rapidly under the Bush administration. That report found that spending on contracts with public relations firms had increased to $88 million in 2004 from $39 million in 2000, an increase of 128%.


The PR and ad contracts included providing "expert advice and support in the development of several marriage-related research initiatives," an educational campaign regarding the "Medicare Modernization Act, and its coverage and benefits," and a contract regarding "message development that presents the Army's strategic perspective in the global war on terrorism," the study said.

A Food and Drug Administration contract had the objective of warning the public about the "consequences and potential dangers of buying prescription drugs from non-U.S. sources."

Read that first sentence again: "The Bush administration spent $1.4 billion in taxpayer dollars on 137 contracts with advertising agencies over the past two-and-a-half years..." As the headline notes, that's ONE-POINT-FOUR BILLION for 'spin'!

That's what eBay paid for PayPal. It's what Monsanto paid for Seminis. It's the amount 4,400 homeless programs across America were to receive in HUD grants last year.

$1.4 Billion would provide $220 more per student; 25,137 new teachers; $6,080 more per classroom; $2.2 million more per school district

What would you rather spend your tax dollars on, spin or education?

Are you better off under a Republican controlled federal government (Congress and the White House)?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

White House Did NOT Notify Media of VP Shooting

Several bloggers have raised the question as to why it took the White House so long to notify the news media that DICK Cheney had (accidentally-snicker) shot a 78-year-old man. Turns out, the White House never DID notify the media! Go read Josh Marshall. I'm too ticked to republish it.

America MUST do better than George Worst-president-ever Bush.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair: 'Bush Is Above the Law'

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) was on "Meet the Press" today (which really ought to be renamed "Meet Tim Russert", but that's another post) and declared that the Constitution gives President Bush absolute power, as long as he’s extra careful.

From Think Progress:

TIM RUSSERT: Senator Roberts, let me ask you a very serious question. Do you believe that the Constitution gives the President of the United States the authority to do anything he believes is necessary to protect the country?

ROBERTS: Yes, but I wouldn’t say anything he believes. I think you go at it very, very carefully. And that’s been done by every president that I know of.

From Roberts' Web site, his statement tollowing the Intel Committee’s Open World-Wide Threat Hearing on Feburary 2nd:
Today’s hearing was an opportunity for members of the Intelligence Committee to discuss the threats we face by terrorists, narcotraffickers, and weapons proliferators. We had excellent testimony from the Intelligence Community with regard to this goal.

However, I am concerned that some of my Democrat colleagues used this unique public forum to make clear that they believe the gravest threat we face is not Usama bin Ladin and al Qaida, but rather the President of the United States.

There is no doubt in my mind there are marching orders to the minority members of this Committee to question and attack, at every opportunity, the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, Attorney General and now members of our intelligence agencies.

"Narcotraffickers?" There's a new term.

Evidently the good senator thinks we must all join in lock-step behind Bush, who is entirely above the law (as long as he's veeeeewwwwwwyyy careful) and never dare criticize dear leader. Those who do have "marching orders" from someone. Given the history of BushCo's response to any criticism (think Swift Boat), the senator's statement seems rather hypocritical, don't you think?

Remember all the statements about how the terrorists hate us for our freedoms? Isn't taking our freedoms away exactly what the terrorists want? And isn't that exactly what BushCo is doing? Why are so many Americans so willing to give up their freedom?

"And if you don't pay up. . ."

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a campaign contributor. . . .

Yeah, it was an accident all right. Now that Abramoff is out of the payoff picture, Cheney may have moved on to other tactics to collect payoffs campaign contributions.

It took 24 hours to release this to the public. Will any reporter have the fortitude to ask why? How long would it have taken if Cheney had killed the guy?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Want to be a "big part of the evening newscasts?"

KSPR-TV Springfield 33 (where Springfield comes first!) is searching for a new....something. I'm not sure I'd call it an anchor for their newscasts, even if they do. The job description doesn't fit my idea of an anchor. Clown, yes.

Here's the ad posted at Great Hires:

Closing Date: 13-MAR-06

Employer Information
Business Worksite Name:

Employer Contact Information - You can apply using the following method(s):
Send resume to:
PO BOX 6030

Other / Additional Information:
Send VHS tape with cover letter and resume right away.

Job Description
Energetic anchor/producer to become a big part of the evening newscasts. Seeking someone who compliments our energetic and popular female anchor; someone who loves news and wants to be part of an operation with plans to grow. Bring confidence and personality to an on-air delivery. Key skills required include the ability to write stories and teases, produce a show, find creative and interesting ways to present the news on a daily basis, make public appearances and become part of the Springfield community.

I like that they're seeking someone to express praise, admiration, or congratulation for their female anchor. And it's important that this person performs formal acts of civility, courtesy, or respect. I'm also pleased they want someone to show fondness, regard, or respect for by giving a gift or performing a favor for the energetic and popular female anchor. I'm sure she'll appreciate it. After all, she IS energetic and popular!

It may be tough finding someone to become part of the Springfield community, what with all the shootings and influx of hip-hoppers.

Silly me, I never realized a news department had to find creative and interesting ways to present the news on a daily basis. I thought journalists sought the truth and to provide a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.

Too bad KSPR isn't looking for someone who complements their energetic and popular female anchor.

Thankfully, not all local television news anchors are quite this bizarre. KYTV's Jerry Jacob provided a refreshing alternative viewpoint on this week's STREET TALK podcast.

The Commander-In-Thief and His Merry Men

President Bush released his 2007 budget proposal this week, which included a 7% increase in defense spending, with billions poured into military operations overseas and programs here at home. Roy Blunt says the proposal seeks to "give our brave men and women in uniform the funding they need to carry out their mission. . . ."

Looking closer at the proposal, Blunt and Bush think our brave men and women in uniform only deserve funding if they're in battle, not if they're wounded, and certainly not if they're killed. And that's a national disgrace.

georgia10 at DailyKos provides an important analysis:

The military's health care program, TRICARE, supports some 9.2 million beneficiaries. Veterans from wars too soon forgotten depend on the program. From military families who have buried their husbands or wives, to those who dread a call in the middle of the night about those who currently serve, the program is designed to take care of those families--our families. First, Bush's plan would eventually cause some 600,000 retirees to be dropped from the military's healthcare program. Bush's budget also makes across-the-board premium increases to TRICARE retirees under the age of 65. Veterans will see an increase of 41% for single or family coverage within two years; senior enlisted and officer retirees will see increases of up to 204%. By 2009, healthcare premiums for our veterans will TRIPLE. (See PDF of TRICARE fee increases here).

Can our veterans afford it? Bush's budget also gives the military the smallest pay increase since 1994--a paltry 2.2%. The CEO President is clearly applying a Wal-Martesque framework to our national defense: rip off the ones doing the work because all that matters is that bottom line, right? That big, fat, bottom line.

Well, maybe not. If Bush really cared about reigning in DoD spending, why does he keep throwing billions to a governmental entity that has a record-keeping track record that would make Ken Lay blush? Bush rips off our veterans, but pours billions more into a Department of Defense that can't account for $2.3 trillion in transactions. Where is the outrage over rewarding an entity that cannot account for TWENTY FIVE percent of what it spends? That's trillions of dollars lining the pockets of war profiteers while the bravest of Americans are forced to pay out of their own pockets for body armor on the battlefield, and for their medicines when they come to battle the realities of their injuries at home. But hey, screw the troops, let's pour $84.2 billion for weapons systems, an 8% increase. Keep pouring that money into a black hole of unaccountability, Commander. As long as you show up with a turkey once a year in some cafeteria on a military base, that'll keep the troops happy.

Go read the whole thing. And then tell Roy Blunt, Kit Bond and Jim Talent what you think.

Our veterans deserve better than George W. Bush, Roy Blunt, and Jim Talent. Remember that come November. Urge Jim Kreider to challenge Roy Blunt.

Roy Blunt Likes Record Deficits

Last year the US trade deficit reached an all-time high for the fourth consecutive year. And Rep. Roy Blunt thinks that's just dandy.

Blunt's web site includes this statement:

America’s economy is strong and growing at a robust pace, and today the president provided a blueprint to keep headed in that direction. Our economy prospers when Americans are allowed to keep more of what they earn and to save and spend as they choose.

And Americans love to buy foreign goods, according to the Commerce Department:
The record flow of foreign goods into this country has given consumers a wide array of choices at low prices, helping to keep a lid on inflation. But critics contend the trade deficits have contributed to the loss of nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs since mid-2000 as U.S. companies moved production overseas to lower-waged nations. Many economists believe those manufacturing jobs will never come back.

''America's gargantuan trade deficit is a weight around American workers' necks that is pulling them into a cycle of debt, bankruptcy and low-wage service jobs,'' said Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.

When Americans buy imports, foreigners must do something with the dollars they earn. They can either use the dollars to buy American exports or to invest in American assets, such as Treasury bills, stocks, real estate, and factories. But if foreigners suddenly decide they want to hold fewer U.S. assets, they could send the value of the dollar, stocks and bonds all plunging.

Trade deficits are not necessarily bad. Nor are they necessarily good. But with the Bush administration's willingness to not tax but still spend and thus increasing the national debt to record levels, the record trade deficit may become a very big problem.

Don't worry, though. Roy Blunt says everything is just fine.

Friday, February 10, 2006

'STREET TALK" Podcast Available

This week's guest is Jerry Jacob, anchor at KYTV. He is delightful! You will definitely enjoy the audio podcast as Jacob discusses the media, robot cams, and the role reporters should have in "the news." We agree with him that a reporter/anchor should not "slap his face" on a news story. It's refreshing to hear this from what many consider to be a media celebrity. Go to the STREET TALK web site to listen. Pictures are also there. Video may be there soon...bandwidth issues, long download times. Sigh.

Gay Students, Friends Harassed, Including by AFA

A new study by the Iowa Pride Network shows anti-gay harassment is the rule in schools, not the exception. The American Family Association has contributed to that harassment.

The survey reports the direct relationship between in-school victimization, grade-point averages (GPAs) and the college aspirations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

The survey of 175 students in 48 Iowa school districts included a focus on straight students who have gay friends. The students said being friends with someone who is gay increased their chance of being harassed.

''Just being the friend of a gay student increases the likelihood that you'll be threatened,'' said Ryan Roemerman, of the Iowa Pride Network, an advocacy group for gay students.

The survey showed that 43 percent of students with gay friends reported they had property stolen or damaged, compared to 18 percent of the general student population. It also found that 94 percent of gay students reported hearing derogatory remarks frequently, and that in more than 70 percent of those incidents teachers did not intervene.

Evidently to encourage this harassment, the Amercian Family Association outs a high school student for political gain. From AMERICABLOG:
From the American Family Association's propaganda organ (note, I've x'd out the names of the kid's parents):
Two Christian parents say their son was a victim of homosexual indoctrination at the prestigious "Governor's School of North Carolina."

The Governor's School of North Carolina describes itself as "program for intellectually gifted high school students, integrating academic disciplines, the arts, and unique courses." But one North Carolina couple is suffering some after effects of their son's involvement in the program. xxxx and xxxx xxxxx say after their son attended a Governor's School seminar called "The New Gay Teenager," he began telling them he was unsure of his "sexual orientation."....

xxxx xxxxx says he noticed a big difference in his otherwise normal son upon his return from the school.

"He [said he] was thinking now that he perhaps was gay -- and of course I was floored by this [pronouncement] and was, like, 'where did this come from?' This kind of came out of left field," the dad says.

Congratulations. You've now made this kid and his sexuality a national story. I'm sure his classmates are very happy to know that he might be gay, and now much of the country knows. Gym class is gonna be a joy now. And walking home after school? Well, let's just say I'll be very surprised if this kid gets to walk home undisturbed. Are you people that frickin' stupid and naive and careless that you couldn't at the very least leave the parents' name out of the article?

How this helps a teenager's mental well-being, when teenagers already have more than enough to handle, is beyond me. Has no one in the religious right thought about what they're doing to this kid by telling the world about his sexual orientation? Seriously, are you people that uncaring and sick that you would use a child in this way? Are you not the least bit worried about what a young kid might do, facing this kind of national attention, let alone attention from everyone in his hometown?

Jesus, people, maybe it's time you starting put the Christ back in Christian. If you think a school seminar "made" this kid gay, you are out of your minds. Whatever feelings this kid is having, he's had for them for a while, he didn't just develop them at a seminar. The seminar simply gave him the courage to tell his parents what he was feeling. And by blowing this up to a national religious rights public relations offensive, you've taught that kid one very important lesson about coming clean to his parents: Don't. Think you're gay, hide it. Think you're pregnant, hide it. Questioning your religion, hide it. Do you have anything to tell your parents that might concern them, confuse them, or anger them? Hide it. That's what the religious right wants today's kids in America to do - don't trust your parents, courtesy of the religious right.

If that's the lesson you wanted to be teaching kids, to lie and hide things from their parents, well congrats. You just ruined a kid's life. I'd like to think that the radical right would prefer that teenage kids not kill themselves. But honestly, I can't say with any certainty that I believe that to be true.

What would Jesus do? I doubt the religious right hate groups could care less.

Amen to that.

Ann Coulter Threatens to Kill the President

Refers to Muslims as "ragheads." Dick Cheney complicit. Will Coulter be arrested? Will riots break out due to Muslim insult? Will any Republican denounce Coulter or Cheney?

Bill Bennett tried to cause a few more riots in the Muslim world by slandering all Muslimn.

BENNETT: Let's go beyond cartoons. The other story out of Iran is the story of two young girls who were raped. The girl defended herself and stabbed her attacker. She is now sentenced to be hanged under Islamic law. This isn't a caricature, this isn't a cartoon, this is a peak into the soul of that faith, when it's run through a government. It's a real story and it deserves to be criticized.

ZOGBY: It's not a peak into Islam, it's a peek into the outrages that take place in contemporary Iran, which is not synonymous with Islam...

BENNETT: It's recognized Islamic theology, it is Islamic theology...

ZOGBY: The policy of the Catholics during the Inquisition is not synonymous with my church, nor is the policy of the Islamic extremists synonymous with the Prophet Mohammed. Let's be fair and use one standard. I agree, we have a double standard and frankly I think the way this story is cast is the wrong double standard.

BENNETT: Here's the standard. Catholicism is as Catholicism does, Judaism is as Judaism does, and by God Islam is as Islam does and what it's doing right now I wouldn't wanted to associated with.

ZOGBY: As President Bush has said correctly, hundreds of millions of believing Muslims do not practice these things, did not burn embassies, do not behead people...

Dick Cheney, Bill Frist, and Ann Coulter jump in as well. Thursday night Cheney spoke at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) convention, a big Republican affair. The keynote speaker waa Ann Coulter. Also in attendance was Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Now what kind of people attend this event? People who rise up in boisterous applause when keynote speakers call Arabs and Muslims "ragheads." That's a racial slur, BTW.

Max Blumenthal reports on the event at the Huffington Post:
Coulter on Muslims:

"I think our motto should be post-9-11, 'raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.'" (This declaration prompted a boisterous ovation.)

Coulter on killing Bill Clinton:

(Responding to a question from a Catholic University student about her biggest moral or ethical dilemma) "There was one time I had a shot at Clinton. I thought 'Ann, that's not going to help your career.'"

Coulter on moderate Republicans:

"There is more dissent on a slave plantation then amongst moderates in the Republican party."

Coulter on the Holocaust:

"Iran is soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust. So far, only Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau, and the NY Times have made submissions."

Coulter on the Supreme Court:

"If we find out someone [referring to a terrorist] is going to attack the Supreme Court next week, can't we tell Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalito?"

So, at a time when Muslims are rioting, attacking and killing people because of racial slurs, Coulter decides to whip things up a bit more. Then she jokes about murdering a former president and blowing up the Supreme Court - things that get you investigated normally in America.

It is a federal offense to threaten the life of a former U.S. president. Section 879 of Title 18 prohibits "knowing and willful threats to kill, kidnap, or inflict bodily harm against the following categories of persons who are protected by the United States Secret Service" including former presidents.

What does Frist think of Coulter's remarks?
After Coulter's speech, (Blumenthal) approached Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in the CPAC exhibitor's hall. I asked him what he thought of Coulter's characterization 15 minutes earlier of Muslims as "ragheads." HIs reply? "I wasn't there so I better not comment."

So does Dick Cheney think Muslims are "ragheads"? Does he think Clinton should be assassinated? Do all Republicans?

There's been a lot of racial slurs coming from members of the Republican party this past week. While it may not be true that all Republicans are racist, it certainly does seem to be true that all racists are Republican.

Are you happy with the Republican party?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Not Only Can He Spy, Bush Thinks He Can Have People Killed

An email I've just sent to Rep. Roy Blunt, Sen. Jim Talent, and Sen. Kit Bond:

According to an article in this week's Newsweek, Justice Department official Steven Bradbury stated that President Bush could order the killing of a person on U.S. soil in certain circumstances. I find this extremely troubling.

What are the certain circumstances under which Bush official Steven Bradbury thinks Bush can order people in the US killed? I strongly urge you order Steven Bradbury to answer this question to Congress.

Thank you.

I urge you to contact your representative and senators and ask them to order Bradbury to testify. You can contact the offices of your representatives and leave a message by entering his or her last name on the top-left of

Social Security Phase Out: Round Two

Having lost round one in his plan to gut Social Security, Dubya is trying to sneak his phase out program into the budget. Bush's budget calls for elimination of a $255 lump-sum death payment that has been part of Social Security for more than 50 years. He also wants Congress to cut off monthly survivor benefits to 16- and 17-year-old high school dropouts. So the Bush plan is to eliminate a very small, but possibly helpful death payment, and tie survivor benefits to school enrollment. Lazy bastards don't deserve those benefits! But wait! There's more! The Washington Post's Alan Sloan has discovered Bush's entire Social Security elimination plan in the budget.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Long History of Domestic Spying

During Monday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into Bush's illegal domestic spying program, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated:

"President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale."

In honor of Presidents' Day, I offer these long-lost images of Washington and Lincoln explaining their domestic electronic surveillance programs.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Man Who Beat Blunt

The National Jewish Democratic Council has an informative post about new House Majority Leader Rep. John Boehner of Ohio. It's worth a read, even if you're not Jewish.

Ten Things Every American Jew (and non-Jew) Should Know About John Boehner: (go here for details)

1. For School Prayer and Amending the Constitution
2. For Forced Religion in Anti-Poverty Programs
3. 100% Against a Woman's Right to Choose
4. For Religious Employment Discrimination
5. Against the Rule of Law in Ten Commandments Case
6. Against Common-Sense Environmental Safeguards
7. For More Religious Employment Discrimination
8. Against Confronting Proselytizing at the Air Force Academy
9. Led the Effort to Inject Religious Employment Discrimination into Head Start
10. Pushed Ohio Schools to Embrace "Intelligent Design"

It would appear Boehner wants a state-sponsored religion. And of course he wants it to be the Christian religion. Boehner is also the guy who famously handed out tobacco lobbyists' checks on the house floor to corral votes. Was that before RoyBoy dumped his wife of 30 years for his mistress, the tobacco lobbyist?

Boehner also shares strong lobbyist ties with Tom DeLay. And yet the traditional news media insists on spinning Boehner as the "reformist" choice. Boehner gets campaign contributions to rip off students for the private student loan industry.

We're nine months away from the midterms. Time to ask yourself: Are you better off today than you were six years ago? And, can you afford to buy a congressman? GOP ones seem to be for sale.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Can Republicans Hold a Legitimate Vote?

Blunt didn't win. You know that by now. Much will be said about the guy who did. STREET TALK will have an analysis on what this means to southwest Missouri a few weeks down the pike, after some of the dust has settled and the picture is a bit clearer.

But I just have to pass this along, as evidence of Republican corruption:

House Republicans are taking a mulligan on the first ballot for Majority Leader. The first count showed more votes cast than Republicans present at the Conference meeting.

Heh. Indeed.