Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Collected wit and wisdom of Ann Richards

I thought it might be a good idea to start off the year with some of the witty & wise sayings of Ann Richards, the last sane governor of Texas.

***I've always said that in politics, your enemies can't hurt you, but your friends will kill you.

***Poor George. He can't help it - he was born with a silver foot in his mouth. [1988 keynote address, Democratic National Convention]...

***I am delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like. [1988 keynote address, Democratic National Convention]...

(bet you didn't know Ann was not only wise & witty, but psychic, too!)

***Ann Richards on How to Be a Good Republican:
1. You have to believe that the nation's current 8-year prosperity was due to the work of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but yesterday's gasoline prices are all Clinton's fault.

2. You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own.

3. You have to be against all government programs, but expect Social Security checks on time....
***I thought I knew Texas pretty well, but I had no notion of its size until I campaigned it....

***I have a real soft spot in my heart for librarians and people who care about books....

***I have always had the feeling I could do anything and my dad told me I could. I was in college before I found out he might be wrong.

***Let me tell you, sisters, seeing dried egg on a plate in the morning is a lot dirtier than anything I've had to deal with in politics.

***Teaching was the hardest work I had ever done, and it remains the hardest work I have done to date.

***The here and now is all we have, and if we play it right it's all we'll need.

***Women elected Bill Clinton this time. He acknowledges it, the country acknowledges it, and the columnists acknowledge it, and when you have that kind of political clout, you can effect change and do it well. And I'm real proud to have been a part of that.

***I believe in recovery, and I believe that as a role model I have the responsibility to let young people know that you can make a mistake and come back from it.

***They blame the low income women for ruining the country because they are staying home with their children and not going out to work. They blame the middle income women for ruining the country because they go out to work and do not stay home to take care of their children.

***I feel very strongly that change is good because it stirs up the system.

***There is a lot more to life than just struggling to make money.

***I hope all the WASP present and past will fly high on wings of our pride in their service ... you have my profound gratitude for the legacy you have given to us and the legacy you pass on to young women today. [about the Women Airforce Service Pilots]

***"What makes me impatient are the pulp magazine articles which suggest that there's something wrong with a woman if she chooses a career over raising a family. A lot of us did both. We found it hard to do, of course. But that's because women are the principle caregivers in family life.

"I don't care how many men stand up and say, 'I help my wife every way I can.' The key point is: 'I help my wife.' - But it's still her responsibility." -- guest speaker, course on American politics, Brandeis University. (1998)

***I'm against an income tax because all the rich people hire lawyers and accountants to be sure that they don't pay income tax.

***I know you all are worried about the economy in California, but I want to assure you that it's bad all over the country. In fact, in Texas the price of gas has gone up so high that women who want to run over their husbands are car-pooling.’ (- Democratic women’s rally in support of California Governor Gray Davis in late September)

***I'm really glad that our young people missed the Depression, and missed the great big war. But I do regret that they missed the leaders that I knew. Leaders who told us when things were tough, and that we would have to sacrifice, and these difficulties might last awhile. They didn't tell us things were hard for us because we were different, or isolated, or special interests. They brought us together and they gave us a sense of national purpose. [1988 keynote address, Democratic National Convention]

Amen, sister!

More "here's hoping"

Here's hoping more people become aware of the sick neo-con "An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror", and realize the smut-peddlers who wrote it are Powers That Be.
Happy End-of-the-year Day!

Here's hoping it's a calm and peaceful day, followed by many more; and not just "the deep breath before the storm.”

Here's hoping any terrorist plots have been foiled, our alert becomes less orange, and it will be safe to read our almanacs again.

Here's hoping Ashcroft's way-overdue recusal didn't totally screw up l'Affaire Plame investigation.

Here's hoping my Washington Redskins rediscover the art of football.

Here's hoping all those who have jobs keep them; those that need them, find them.

Here's hoping otherwise sensible, sane people realize how badly they've been betrayed by the Bush administration.

Here's hoping Dubya's defeat in November 2004 will set off world-wide rejoicing and a return of international respect and cooperation.

Here's hoping Melanie and other intrepid bloggers can force the journo/pundits to watch their backs.

Here's hoping this post will come to an end, though there's a lot that remains to be covered.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Be alert and vigilant!

Just so you'll have an idea what we're supposed to be alert and vigilant about, Collective Sigh is providing a link to The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Right off the top of my head, I note there are nine - count 'em, nine - Red Letter Days in December.

Of course, most are already yesterdays, but the ninth....is tomorrow, Dec. 31st.

Today in Weather History sounds particularly ominous - "Bloomfield, Vermont, set a record low temperature for New England with 50 degrees below zero F, 1933."

Advice of the Day is decidedly suspicious - "By wisdom peace; by peace plenty."

The Puzzle of the Day, I am certain, contains some code-word, chatter-stuff - "How many hard-boiled eggs can a man eat on an empty stomach?"

I will make it my personal mission to keep an eye on the poultry farms down the road from here, and I hope you'll do the same.

Perhaps most ominous of all - I typed "terrorist" in the search box....and no results were found.

Take a look, read between the lines. The enemy is moving!
Good luck to Barney's First Dog Blog

A hilarious entry in this week's New Weblog Showcase.
Clutterer's nightmare

I can sympathize with this guy.

A big pile of newspapers, magazines, mail, various papers, and books in his New York apartment fell over, trapping him for two days.
"Emergency workers, neighbors and about 20 firefighters dug through the debris to reach Moore, filling 50 garbage bags with paper."
Just a quick glance from the computer desk here reveals -

**A box of bills, receipts, bank statements, etc. - not mine; my mother's. I oversee her affairs.

**A box of bills, receipts, bank statements, etc. Mine.

**A box of sheet music.

**A bookcase full of computer related stuff; mainly "Dummies" books.

**Another bookcase full of computer components, gadgets, and various parts. And duct tape.

**A stack of magazines....to be read some day.

**My boxed set of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" for a quick fix.

**A filing cabinet, full of stuff that is probably ten years old.

**A box of various CD's; music, software, etc.

**A stack of genealogical research reference books.

**An over-flowing trash can

**Ever-present box of Cheez-its

**Oh - and the computer, monitor, power supply, printer, etc.

You get the idea. If all this stuff fell on me, I'd be killed instantly. And if anyone outside my immediate family ever sees it, I'll die instantly of embarrassment.

Affordable health care, a living wage, safe food supply, clean air, and peace on earth are all very important to me.

But what I really need right now is a crew of emergency workers, neighbors and about 20 firefighters to come over and fill up about 50 garbage bags. I'll supply the bags. And the beer.
Blogabout in Liberal Coaltion Land

Always good stuff to be found, even though a couple of lucky folks are traveling around for the holidays.

Bark Bark Woof Woof has a great review of "Return of the King", which always warms my heart. But scroll down to "Sailing Away" - a nice personal anecdote on corporate globalization.

Tresy at corrente reminds us that the United States is not the only place that has (apparently) pissed off Mother Nature.

Dohiyi Mir has a good list of 2004 predictions

edwardpig digs out U.S. casualties from the disgusting media blackout.

Pen-Elayne looks into some slippery statistic from the Moonie Press.

Rubber Hose looks into impeachment questions

Yellow Doggerel Democrat looks at "mad cow" from a vegetarian's perspective.

Stradiotto warns politicians (in vain, I'm sure) that they really don't want to start spamming us.

Charles2 at The Fulcrum ponders the spin on the BSE issue.

I like Gotham City 13's "Strategy to Beat Bush" and "Thoughts on the Past Year"

Trish Wilson's Blog wonders at the criteria MONEY mag uses for "best places to live"

Always excellent, Steve Gilliard's News Blog - all good, all the time.

Collective Sigh Headlines for 2004

I suppose it's the time of year for predictions. I can't predict the future any better than anyone else, but I'll bet the ranch we'll see the following headlines. If you can think of others, let me know and I'll post them (keep it clean-ish):

Sure-fire Headlines for 2004

***Democratic presidential candidates form circle, continue firing; SCLM cheer them on

***Screen star involved in potentially career-threatening legal case

***Star athlete involved in potentially career-threatening legal case

***Wealthy white child abducted from home

***George Bush calls for more tax cuts on wealthy

***George Bush calls for oil drilling in the Arctic Reserve

***George Bush calls for less government regulation of ____ industry

***Pharmaceutical industry off to another profitable year

***Earthquake in California

***George Bush calls for creation of "Private Ownership and Oversight of Retirement" accounts (P.O.O.R. accounts). - thanks to tinheart of Green Voicemail)

***End of 2003 Inspires Predictions for 2004 (thanks to NTodd of Dohiyi Mir)

***Almanac sales suffer an a depressing drop after the fad ends. (thanks to Stradiotto)

***John Ashcroft's testimony in front of Congress is marred by the smell of rancid lard, but further dismantling of the Bill of Rights is accomplished anyway. (thanks to Stradiotto)

***Government spokesmen abandon all use of the active voice; the credibility gap is renamed the gaping abyss of complete implausibility. (thanks to Stradiotto)

***Antonin Scalia agrees to a retrial of Scopes. The monkey is found guilty and sent to Gitmo. ((thanks to Stradiotto)

***200,000 former white collar professionals join the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. Another 600,000 join halfway through the year. (thanks to Stradiotto)

***All national security no-bid contracts are classified, then shredded and the shreddings are used to start the bonfire for burning the entire Library of Congress. (thanks to Stradiotto)
The end of American sport as we know it

Herbal supplement ephedra to be banned

NEVADA: Security increased at casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, at federal buildings across the state and Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas. Flights suspended.

How do they expect our athletes to lose the fat and get in shape? Not to mention the impact of Las Vegas' sports-betting on the economy.

It's shaping up to be an exciting year, isn't it?
Tragedy in and of Iran

From Barry Crimmins - "Carnage Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has suggested that the US act quickly in the aftermath of the deadly Iranian earthquake and finish the job nature began by leveling any buildings left standing by the tumbler."

Freepers agree - though, of course, they're not joshing. "Compassionate conservatism" at it's finest.

Nevertheless, I'm glad to see America rising above and sending much-needed humanitarian aid.

But the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Israel is second-to-none when it comes to quickly finding survivors in bombed out buildings. Those crews could fly to Iran in about two hours. Israel's offer of help was rejected by the mullahs.

However - and speaking of "rising above" - those Israeli humanitarian aid groups plan to do it anyway. Those sneaky Israelis - working with international aid groups to help save lives of people who hate them so.
Almanacs of Mass Destruction

There's a lot of hooting and hollering about the FBI's latest directive urging police to be on the lookout for anyone carrying an almanac.

Yeah, I know - ha-ha, hide your Farmer's Almanac....God forbid the terrorists should know anything about the phases of the moon, or the tides, or the weather, or when to plant greens.

Of course, what the FBI means are those big almanacs with "profiles of cities and states and information about waterways, bridges, dams, reservoirs, tunnels, buildings and landmarks." But, wouldn't it be nice if the FBI could be a little more specific? I really do have visions of some cops overreacting on this one.

So, pity the poor tourist from Japan, or wherever, whose only intention is to see the Hoover Dam in all it's glory, or take a picture from the Golden Gate bridge. He may soon get an up close and personal view of Justice, Amerikan style.
Lessons from the computer

Haloscan, which provides the "comments" program for this blog and many others, stumbled a bit yesterday but picked itself up rather quickly. It's free, incidentally, unless you upgrade; and that's pretty cheap, too.

Roadrunner, on the other hand, is certainly not free - I pay them A Lot Of Money every month, and am generally pleased with the way it hums along.

But last night, it was moving slower than the worst dial-up, which made my intended "Blogaround Liberal Coalition Town" very annoying, if not impossible.

But it gave me plenty of time to ponder the irony -

Haloscan=free=quick, responsive customer service.

Roadrunner=expensive="our engineers are working quickly to resolve this issue=don't bug us.

Such is life.

I did get the opportunity to do two things, computer-wise. I got to read "Bush's Desolate Imperium" (via Atrios), which probably could replace "The Pledge of Allegiance", as far as I'm concerned.

The author, Bernard Chazelle, is a professor of computer science at Princeton; who enjoys "studying algorithms and complexity". Good for him; we all need a hobby. I bet he still has problems with his internet service, though, which is one way of saying he still puts his pants on one leg at a time. Read the essay; his head's on straight.

I also spent some quality time with Caesar III, which - yes, I know; it's been around for ages - is still one of my favorite computer games.

I like to think that if folks like George Bush played more of the "civilization building" games, and fewer Space Invader shoot-em-ups, they might get mo' better clues about effective government.

If you don't provide the settlers with opportunities for water, food, employment, etc. - they up 'n' leave.

If the tax rate is too high, or you pay yourself too much, riots break out. If you don't provide for the common defense, the barbarians are soon at the gates.

I know some players enjoy building up their city a bit, then doing something deliberately stupid - just to see all those little bad guys come pouring in and start trashing the place.

But I get no pleasure from that. I set my tax rate at a reasonable level. I provide my little settlers with opportunities to fetch clean water, grow crops, worship, enjoy the theater, and educate their children.

I give them ample areas of beauty - statues, gardens, etc. I provide necessary defensive measures, and make sure the soldiers have the training and equipment they need.

It's not always a quick or ever-upward progression. Sometimes it takes game-time years, and sometimes you go forward one step and back two.

But as the people are provided with necessities and given reasonable responsibilities, the economy begins to flourish. Traders from other cities beat a path to my warehouses, money pours into my coffers - and everyone benefits.

It's just a game. Or is it?

Monday, December 29, 2003

I picked a bad day to upgrade and other Weapons of Math Destruction

Just when I forked out some of my hard-earned cash, Haloscan is having a bad day. You may or may not be able to leave me your brilliant comments, but please keep trying.

In the meantime, I received this from a friend - a Republican friend, mind you ...

"At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney general John Ashcroft said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

"Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,", Ashcroft said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like "x " and "y" and refer to themselves as "unknowns", but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3 sides to every triangle," Ashcroft declared.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.

"I am gratified that our government has given us a sine that it is intent on protracting us from these math-dogs who are willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Murky statisticians love to inflict plane on every sphere of influence," the President said, adding: "Under the circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our point, and draw the line."

President Bush warned, "These weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scalene never before seen unless we become exponents of a Higher Power and begin to factor-in random facts of vertex."

Attorney General Ashcroft said, "As our Great Leader would say, read my ellipse. Here is one principle he is uncertain of: though they continue to multiply, their days are numbered as the hypotenuse tightens around their necks."

Woo-hoo! No more "Slithering Reptiles"

Even though I've now been assured protection by my patron goddess, Echidne of the Snakes, I'm glad to be relieved of "Slithering Reptile" status in the Blogoshere Ecosystem.

I'm now a "Flappy Bird", which is much more appropriate. I like to sing, love flying, and would really love to crap on selected objects and people.
Beef producers told not to panic

From the Toronto Star, we learn a bit more about the dastardly Canadian plot to contaminate the American beef supply.
"American officials originally said the cow was 4 1/2 years old. But the ear tag identification linking the cow to an Alberta herd is for an animal born in April, 1997, making it 6 1/2 years old. The age is important. Feed containing animal parts and believed to be a source of infection was banned in 1997.

Canadian records show the cow had two calves before it was exported. U.S. documents classified the animal as a heifer, a cow that has never borne calves."
In other words, some greedy sumbitch somewhere maybe switched an ear tag or fiddled with the paperwork to make the critter marketable.

Whether or not there was a greedy sumbitch somewhere remains to be seen, as is the nationality.

Could be either - Canadian beef producers have taken a huge hit recently, losing $1.9 billion in the last eight months or so, ever since one cow in Alberta tested positive for "mad cow".

However, I think we can rule out any American perfidy. As everyone knows, American businesses are on the front lines of consumer protection, and our administration would never allow greedy businesses to endanger American lives (/sarcasm).
"Some scientists long warned that mad cow disease would appear in the United States, but cattle owners and meatpackers repeatedly resisted calls for a more substantial program to test for the disease, and the agriculture department went along with them.

Congress came close three times to banning the sale of meat from downer cows; ones that are too sick or hurt to amble into slaughterhouses, only to see the industry's allies block the bills."
And, just as predicted (i.e., I told you so) -
"Japan, which bought more than $1 billion worth of U.S. beef last year, is among more than two dozen nations that have suspended imports. Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief veterinarian for the U.S. agriculture department, said yesterday that science has shown certain meat cuts are fairly safe from infection. Among those are whole cuts without bones, such as beef steaks, roast, liver, and ground beef from labeled cuts like chuck or round. DeHaven said this suggests the trade restrictions "are not well-founded in science.''
But never fear, DNA testing is on the way, and should clear everything up in a jiffy. Or not.

According to Brian Evans, chief veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency -
"The U.S. could test the DNA of a semen sample from the sire of the Canadian cow and compare it to the brain tissue of the infected animal, Evans said. This would determine whether the Canadian cow is the same as the infected cow in the U.S.

Other tests could compare the DNA of one of the calves to the brain tissue of the infected cow to determine a relationship.

"So we can do this any number of ways and get to a very definitive determination of, does the brain in the United States derive from the animal in Canada, yes or no," Evans said in Ottawa.

It was not immediately clear when DNA testing would begin and when the results would be available."
I find it interesting that "it's not immediately clear when DNA testing will begin" or "when the results would be available".

Especially when the results might be of importance to American citizen's health and well-being.

Because when it comes to scruffy old political liabilities hiding in "spider holes", those DNA tests took place in the twinkling of an eye, and results were triumphantly broadcast around the world within seconds.
Wax eloquent

Good news of the day - I finally upgraded Haloscan "comments". No more truncation! Hopefully, the upgrade will take place some time today.
Update - there may be some problems with commenting while the actual upgrade takes place. Patience!

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Two more thoughts.....

1. I wonder what happened to that (rumored) presidential Christmas visit to Baghdad? I'm thinking someone said "if you two boys can't behave, neither of you can go".

Or maybe Rove decided another jaunt on the heels of the pretty-much-ridiculed Thanksgiving visit would be a bit over the top.

2. The Bush administration, wholly-owned subsidiary of the oil industry, has stubbornly refuse to accept research of respected scientists the world over. Fossil fuels, stem cell research, you name it. And we have to depend on them to protect our beef cattle from mad cow disease?

I can hear it now - "There is no accepted scientific relationship between so-called 'mad cow disease', feed enriched with by-products of other cows, and the transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or it's variant to humans."
Quick Hits

I really want to get into Steve Gilliard's newest, "Time to take the gloves off". But I'm sleepy, it's a lazy Sunday evening, and there's an ACC basketball game on TV. So, here's what I've enjoyed today, without comment (mostly) -

Via "To The Barricades" - How to be a good Republican

Via "Democratic Veteran" - Behold, the power of the lobbyists (be sure to read the first comment from "Ellen")

I love "World O' Crap"'s analysis of poor Rush Limbaugh's legal and medical problems. I told you the guy needed some love.

Disgust your friends and impress your enemies! If you've arrived at this blog, I'm guessing you didn't get a Christmas card from Dick & Lynne Cheney. But you can print one out here

Via "Scrappleface" - 'Rings' Movie Inspires Saddam Offer to Find Bin Laden

NY Times - "From Patrician Roots, etc", which Dr. Dean's mamma goes to great lengths to dispel the notion that the Dean family is anything at all like the Bush clan. The basic difference - or so it seems to me - is the Dean clan doesn't seem to believe they have an inborn right to rule.

You've gotta read South Knox Bubba's "SKB Predictions for 2004". . Among my favorites - "Rush Limbaugh suffers relapse in pathetic on-air breakdown, rambles incoherently about his secret lust for Hillary Clinton and a fantasy three-way involving Jane Fonda and Alan Greenspan. Fox News follows cross-country low-speed police chase as Rush flees studio in Cadillac Esplanade and makes his way to Michael Jackson's new Neverland Rehabilitation Fun Park."
The Ownership Society

edwardpig does some good digging into the upcoming SOTU speech - and it isn't very pretty.

Like all initiatives coming out ot the White House, the "Ownership Society" comes gift-wrapped with a high-minded title, and no doubt will be touted as the salvation of western civilization.

But like all those purty-sounding initiatives of the past - "No Child Left Behind", "Healthy Forest Iniative", "Jobs and Growth Act", "Patriot Act" - the devil is in the details, and the only beneficiaries are the wealthiest of the wealthy.

In light of this unfortunate penchant for naming initiatives to mask their true intent, "The Ownership Society" sounds pretty scary.

Who is going to own what or whom? A line from the old song "Sixteen Tons" comes to mind -
"I owe my soul to the company store."

GOP Playing Cards

These have probably been around for ages, but I'm old & slow, and quite often the last person to catch on to anything. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a card with the ugly mug of my very own congressional representative, Rep. Howard Coble (1/2 bullfrog, 1/2 Neanderthal, 100% bigot).

Congressman Coble is known for several things around here, and not much else. His office is pretty effective at helping folks who have red-tape, federal-type problems.

Ask anyone in the area about him, and they'll tell you he has renounced his congressional pension. Folks around here like that a lot, and consider it good justification for re-electing him. The fact that he went into congress with a pretty sizable fortune is, of course, totally beside the point.

The unspoken word is - he's 70 years old, never married (don't tell anybody).

Since he usually runs unopposed, he doesn't bug the constituents with fundraising letters, or litter their neighborhoods with campaign signs.

I comfort myself with reminders that at least he doesn't have a big mouth, and other than that pesky "the Japanese deserved internment camps during WWII" thing, he hasn't embarrassed us too badly.

We've been jerked around by redistricting in the last decade, and have gone through a dizzying array of contradictory polling places and candidates. For a short time, we were ably represented by Democrats - David Price, then when the lines changed (again), Mel Watt.

One year, I got a nice little postcard telling me my polling place had been changed to a local church. My husband...who shares the same spot on earth as I.... got a card, too - directing him to an elementary school. I have always suspected they saw that "D" on my husband's party affiliation, and were trying to pull a fast one.

I'm sure it could be worse. Now - tell us about YOUR distinguished Member of Congress.


Saturday, December 27, 2003

Republican jokes

Echidne of the Snakes, patron goddess of us Slithering Reptiles, provides Some Gentle Humor for the New Year
Canada causing trouble again

It seems the Holstein dairy cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy - "mad cow", to the laity and lazy typists - came from Alberta, Canada.

These Canadians are the same people that have been threatening our citizens with unsafe prescription drugs, luring them across the border with government-negotiated low prices. This is a heinous, dastardly deed and smacks of terrorism (it is our patriotic duty to work that word in somewhere) - except that it turns out, in the fine print, not to be true.

Not content with terrorizing our citizens and threatening pharmaceutical profits, Canadians apparently looked to our food supply for revenge.

According to CNN -
"The Holstein diagnosed with mad cow disease may have entered the United States from the Canadian province of Alberta in 2001 with 73 other cows, an official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Saturday."
However, the Toronto Star reports -
"according to Canada's chief veterinarian, it's premature to say Alberta was the source of the mad cow found in Washington state, noting there are serious discrepancies over the age of the animal involved.

American officials originally said the infected animal was 4 1/2 years old. But the ear tag identification linking the cow to an Alberta herd is for an animal born in April 1997 - making it 6 1/2 years old".
I don't know Canada's chief veterinarian, but I'm sure he's a perfectly nice man and a good vet. Neither do I know the anonymous official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He or she is probably perfectly respectable, too.

But I do know that the Bush administration has consistently lied, bore false witness, deceived, covered up, misrepresented, equivocated, fibbed, and prevaricated since the day they stole the presidency.

Until this little bit of confusion is cleared up, I don't think I'll swear off beef just yet. I'll have a hamburger - preferably from Canadian beef - and a side of French fries.
What IS she thinking?

Holding my nose, I snuck over to Genocidal Annie Coulter's website, just to see how the tax-cut-benefitting world was doing. You really don't want a link. Google it. Or try this alternate site.

But Annie gives us a nice, big link - right at the top of her website. It says - "The Onion: Conservative Teens".

I had to stop and think for a minute before clicking on it.....do conservative teens now have a website, ironically called "The Onion"? Has The Onion gone soft on conservatives? Has Annie figured out how to make a liberal's computer explode?

Nope, it goes straight here, The Onion's satire "opinion on the street" page.

I gave up long ago trying to figure out what makes Coulter tick, but I'm getting a chuckle, thinking that maybe she thinks these "opinions" are for real, or even remotely flattering. Must be the reference to someone actually reading her book.
Quick Hits

Melanie digs a bit into the on-going Plame affair investigation and some of the interesting blow-back.

Wanda - experiencing a political odyssey, and sharing it with us.

I Protest - on making our own enemies.

Sign up for your advance order - "Reason : Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America", Robert Reich (due for release May 11, 2004)
Remember these guys? Afghanistan at one year

Another humanitarian crisis looming?
"... people are getting by in this vast dry plain. Winter is approaching. This means sub-zero temperatures in the south - but no snow. Just as well, you might say. But this is exactly what would help the south to pick itself up. Snow or rain, it makes no difference. Snow brings melted water and water is what the south needs.

Apart from national stability and security, water is the only solution for the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who are still dependent on aid. But the prognosis is grim. And the longer the drought continues, the more Afghans will flee the area. This is why MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) is working there: to help the people, but also to make sure this group is not forgotten. A new government and an international military presence do not necessarily mean that the problems are solved. On the contrary. "
Coalition troops - all 1,100 of them - have major problems.

And by the way - where is Osama?
French-Fried Fiasco
Tom Burka, satire-hero over at "Opinions You Should Have", gives the French "what fer" in typical Burka style.

And just happens to point out, along the way, the typical Ashcroft/BushCo bass-ackwards approach to just about anything, including the "War on Terra".

The French - for all BushCo's sneers and contempt - have a long and successful history of fighting terrorism on their own soil.

From Time magazine, Sept. 24, 2001 -
"The French have a long and intimate acquaintance with terror, earned in years of attacks by Algerian independence fighters. Although currently plagued by an Islamist terror threat, French authorities have made their country so inhospitable to terrorist networks that many have relocated to Germany."


"The French approach terrorism much like doctors approach the common cold: Rather than wiping it out completely, they look for ways to manage it.
Through aggressive programs to develop "human intelligence", patient surveillance, good police work, and, yes - some draconian curtailment of civil liberties, France brought a reign of terror to an abrupt stop. I would note that the Germans are no slouches at dealing with terrorism, either, and have developed an impressive record in much the same fashion.

While BushCo has certainly adopted the "draconian" part and hungers for more - all that other successful "stuff" is - well; just too wussy for the shoot-em-up crowd squatting in the White House.

Let's face it; as long as there are angry, discontented spirits on this earth - there will be terrorists. A "War on Terror" is unwinnable. It will never be wiped out completely. The French, for all their "wussiness" - have it right.

The first step - repairing and strengthening alliances with the countries BushCo has alienated. Our intelligence agencies and police must work side-by-side with those of other countries. Our valuable assets must be put in place where they are most needed. And if we're serious about managing terrorism - we're going to have to pay for it.

So, pass me a plate of French toast, with a side of French fries. And while you're at it, pass along some French pragmatism and good sense to The Powers That Be in the United States.

Friday, December 26, 2003

"Americans would rather die for their country than pay for it"

The above is a quote from a commenter named "sagesource" on Steve Gilliard's News Blog, and truer words were seldom spoken or typed. You could apply it to just about any issue, and be on-the-money.

The quote, in context, refers to those gun owners who live in isolated areas where law enforcement is not just a phone call away. Rather than pay for the salary and equipment necessary to provide protection in these out-of-the-way spots, citizens often prefer to rely on their own efforts to protect themselves, their family, and their property.

Steve's latest post - A few words about gun control , lays out the history and myths of the American fascination with things that go "bang" - the consequences, and the potential disaster in the making. It's a long read, but well worth it.

I don't intend to debate the pros and cons of gun ownership. Suffice it to say my philosophy boils down to this...."If you shoot at any living creature - it better be because it's attacking you, or because you plan to eat it." I also feel pretty confident that any bullets in any gun in my possession would probably end up inside me.

I've never yet met the Democrat who said - with his/her feet firmly planted in reality - that all guns should or could be banned. But the Democratic Party needs to figure out how to get out of the mess it's gotten into with gun owners. It's the key to making inroads into The Red States.

Perfectly reasonable people, who agree with Democrats on every single other issue, continue to vote Republican simply because of the paranoid chant from the NRA - "they want to take away our guns!".

The Democrats can say "no, we don't" until the cows come home, but until someone figures out how to effectively counterpunch the NRA, it's a waste of breath.

I've sat here for hours, reading various comment on the subject, but one paragraph in Steve's post keeps running around in my head.

Steve says -
"There are guns, NRA members, and then there is the NRA. Hell, I've been a member of the NRA. I fish and do not own guns. Michael Moore is a member of the NRA, has been since childhood, so is Howard Dean and millions of other target shooters and hunters who do not subscribe to the organization's political goals."
Personally, I think it's appalling that anyone would intentionally pay dues to an organization that so blatantly misrepresents their views. There are, indeed, some obvious advantages to NRA membership - all sorts of discount programs, on everything from hotels to rental cars, life insurance, student loans, etc. And the gun safety program is certainly worthwhile. But are those discounts and loans worth it?

You would think that those millions of responsible target shooters and hunters who do not subscribe to the NRA's extremist agenda would "vote with their feet". Leave; withdraw membership. Don't pay dues to a bunch of fascist thugs.

There will always be one-issue voters who care only about their "Second Amendment Rights", and are convinced by the NRA propaganda. They'll never vote for a Democrat.

Surely, there must be a way to get the message across to the otherwise sensible gun owners. But it must be framed in a positive manner.

Instead of the typical, knee-jerk "no, we're not going to take your guns away", the eventual Democratic nominee will need to ignore the naysayers and say something like -
"I intend to keep my gun. If you are a law-abiding citizen, you have every right to keep yours. And I call on all responsible gun owners to work with me to enforce existing gun laws and keep guns out of the reach of children and out of the hands of criminals".
Make it part of the "stump speech", and repeat it again, again, again until the media is forced to repeat it, too.

And - every bit as important - every progressive activist needs to take that message to reasonable people, one at a time.
I'm not lazy, it's just gun control

Haven't been lazy today, not at all - just wrestling with a post regarding gun control. Maybe some people have nice, quickly explained cut-and-dried opinions on the subject, but Steve Galliard's latest post "A few words about gun control" has given me a lot of food for thought, not to mention a lot of groping for words.

Explaining my own opinion isn't hard, and I will. What's hard is trying to articulate a progressive response to a looming disaster.

So - read Steve's post; I'll be back later, and I hope we can share our thoughts.
Funniest webpage EVER - bar none


Can't say when I've laughed so hard.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

More things I wish I'd said

Another new blogger off to a breathtaking start - Green Voicemail.

As a very, very amateur history buff, I really loved "Ten Best Christmases After "The Big One" , and it's second part, "Mo Betta Christmas, Part II, or "The Top Five Christmases Since The Big One"

GREAT stuff.
Best Iraqi Blog

If you haven't already, go here to vote for the best Iraqi blog. I like "Baghdad Burning", but feel free to cancel out my vote if you wish. There's several good ones.
Wish I'd said that and other NODWISH musings

General J.C. Christian makes my point - we should all feel sorry for poor Rush Limbaugh. Not only is he fighting for the rights of fellow doctor-shoppers, but doing it while in extreme pain - Why Rush is a hero

Tom Burka's Visit to the Holiday Mailbag reveals the answers to all life's troubling questions.

And in the spirit of the season, I've added a couple of pics to the Saddam Double line up.

Yes, Virginia - there IS evolution

The Truth Laid Bear, among other things, tracks blogger statistics and "ratings", which I view as pretty much irrelevant, as some of the best blogs I've read are seldom-visited (at least for a while, until everyone discovers them).

But for what it's worth, Collective Sigh is progressing up the food chain.

I can't remember what the exact ranking was the first time I bothered to check - something like 6,200, or right below the "Avid Quilters and Knitters Blog". According to TTLB's ecosystem, this placed Collective Sigh at the bottom of the food-chain as an "Insignificant Microbe". A well-deserved distinction, I might add.

Since that time - whenever it was - Collective Sigh has oozed it's way up the food chain - I promise; no insignificant microbes, multicellular organisms, wiggly worms, crunchy crustaceans, lowly insects, slimy molluscs, flippery fish, or crawly amphibians were harmed in the process.

So, I've arrived at "Slithering Reptile" status, rank #1669, or thereabouts.

For the record, I HATE snakes. I laugh about it now, but I'll never forget driving down a country road, and seeing a snake in the road up ahead. I immediately locked all the car doors.

How's that for a snake-hater, knee-jerk reaction? Okay, just a "jerk" - no "knee" required.

No sirree - no snake will car-jack me!

But it makes this Slithering Reptile all warm and fuzzy inside (aren't they cold-blooded?) when I see that folks have been kind enough, or curious enough, or just bored enough to stop by for a visit. The comments are a highlight of my day (right - I need a life!). And I wish everyone a very satisfying Non-Denominational-Winter-Solstice-Holiday, in whatever manner you wish to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Christmas Eve reading

Enjoy that standing rib roast! From "Common Dreams" - Last Meals? How Corporate Power Taints Safety Rules

The Good Guys make their list & check it twice - Center For American Progress - "Naughty & Nice 2003"

Prepare for the Republican Convention - CounterConvention

Get yer blood boiling with revisionist history (via Pen-Elayne) - "Religion on Display in National Parks; Christian Fundamentalist Influence on Park Service Decisions - "Faith-Based Parks" Decried"

From Public Domain Progress - "Revenge of the Liberals"

On the lighter side -

From Opinions You Should Have - Lenny Bruce Granted Posthumous Pardon; Kerry Campaign Almost Ready To Seek Same

Gifts for the unsaved from Landover Baptist Store (put me down for that "What Would Jesus Do? thong)

Wall Street and the Economy from "The Onion"

Anything at The White House.Org

Happy Whatever!
Comments working again - sort of.

Fire away! However, there may be some problems if you try to use HTML tags.

When I get back from my 2nd trip to see ROTK, I'll fire away, too.
You're not banned....really

"Comments" seems to be buggered up...it's system-wide with Haloscan, not just this site. No doubt Al Qaeda is beginning the attack.

Until Haloscan gets the problem fixed, or Dubya intervenes valiantly, save those pithy comments and please come back.
Just a Bump in the Beltway

Sooooo glad Melanie has her own blog now - "Just a Bump in the Beltway". I've added it to my "daily reads", and hope you'll check it out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Rush Limbaugh - Fighting for the rights of doctor-shoppers

There have been a few times I've tried to get medications refilled, only to be told, "Sorry, the insurance company won't pay for this until Friday."

Obviously, Health Insurance Big Brother is looking out for me, making sure I don't get too many pills, too soon.

On a couple of occasions, I've taken a prescription to the pharmacy for refilling, only to be told, "Our records indicate you are allergic to such-and-such".

It's such a warm and fuzzy feeling, knowing that my health means so much to all these folks.

And I never once accused them of hounding me for political reasons.

Poor Rush Limbaugh, however, has no one to keep an eye on his medication. Somehow, he escaped the scrutiny of four doctors and one (one!) pharmacy, obtaining over 2,000 painkillers. Their shameful negligence had the poor boy over-medicated.

Could it be that Rush has no health insurance, his four doctors keep no records, and the local pharmacy's computer crashed? Or could it be that money and celebrity influenced them to turn their heads?

Regardless of his own tragedy, Rush is fighting to ensure fellow "doctor-shoppers" can do the same legally and with complete privacy.
"Mr. Limbaugh's lawyers, led by Roy Black of Miami, had sought to keep the records sealed on the grounds that their seizure violated his constitutional right to privacy and made it difficult for Mr. Limbaugh to obtain medical treatment." (more)
On July 2, 2002 Rush argued " I agree with the view, best articulated by Judge Robert Bork, that there is no basis in the Constitution for the privacy right "

Of course, that view only applies to women seeking an abortion.

After all, what doctor would want his name published on the "Rush Enabler" list? And I'm curious about that one neighborhood pharmacy.... you'd think their records might just possibly indicate someone at Rush's house was getting enough painkillers to knock off a stable-full of horses.

So, give Rush a little sympathy. The state of Florida has decided it is indeed lawful to invade his privacy and put a stop to his doctor-shopping habit. That is, until his money and celebrity provide him with more willing physicians and pharmacies.
Browsing around in Liberal Coalition Land

Gotta start with Stradiotto's Heresy!, in which the Evil One Himself writes about what he knows best. And the rights and responsibilities of good citizenship, too. Update - I snorted Pepsi all over my monitor reading his latest, "Personal Blogging". (Another update - he's taken it down, but I'm hoping he'll re-post. By that time, I hope to have my monitor cleaned off)

And Then...is chock-full of goodies, including alternate lyrics to "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas. And be sure to scroll down to "Arlie Hochschild Nails It", with appropriate links. I've been meaning to say something about this myself, but "And Then..." has done it so well.

Mustang Bobby at "Bark Bark Woof Woof" has El Rushbo treed. Sic 'im, boy!

The Truth Laid Bare is running a day late, but hopefully Chris "Lefty" Brown will win last week's New Blog Showcase with "What's so funny about peace, love, and higher taxes?"

edwardpig gets on the DOJ's case; police brutality in Miami, arm-twisting over the Medicare vote, and deaths in the workplace.

It's Craptastic! gives us A Festivus for the Rest of Us, a great list of grievances and observations.

I've mentioned MercuryX23's "Bush Vs Nature" before, but it's worth a second look.

Pen-Elayne is one smart, funny lady. Somebody give her a job! And she links to a great site - One of Those Things. In which you can virtually pin the tail on the jackass slap a sign on Dubya's back. Do it!

Respectful of Otters begins a tradition of Monday...er, slightly belated Sunday Baseball Blogging. (Note - send Javy back to Atlanta. Even in his worst years, he was always a great team player and highly respected).

Tao of Downgba has the "Steward's Song" available for download....even if you haven't seen "Return of the King" or don't intend to - it's a beautiful piece of music.

Gotham City 13 has the neo-con script.

Lucky duck Trish Wilson is going on vacation, but leaves us links to two great silly sites.

And last, but certainly not least, Dohiyi Mir reveals the latest California earthquake was an Al Qaeda plot. Let's hope Faux News doesn't try to steal the idea from him.
"The poor will always be with us"

Anyone paying attention might wonder why I included a passage from the Bible in "Essential Andante Facts", along with mooning and neo-paganism.

I assure you I don't quote scripture often; my memory is not that good, and I'm much better at mooning. But that particular passage has always impressed me.

The religious right often blows off poverty with a quote out of context - "the poor will always be with us".

If they actually bothered to crack the Bible and read it, rather than rely on hucksters like Falwell, Pat Robertson, and their ilk for "interpretation", they might be surprised by the words that follow. And, yes - I know Jesus said it, too. But Deuteronomy beat him to it ....he was quoting from chapter 15, verse 11 -
Deuteronomy 15:11 (KJV) - " For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land."
FYI, religiously-inclined right-wingers, that's the Biblical View on "welfare".

The first person who responds to this clear commandment with - "more tax cuts!" gets an "F" and will be sent to detention in an undisclosed location.

Sure, tax cuts - FOR THE POOR - would help. So do tax credits - FOR THE POOR.

"The Poor", for a large part, wouldn't know a dividend or capital gain if they fell on it, so forget those tax decreases. How about jobs? Day care for working mothers? Continuing education? Transportation?

The Toronto Star's Dorothy O'Connell waxes eloquent -
"Shouldn't the poor be able to choose for themselves what they want to eat? Shouldn't a mother be able to count on enough money to buy her children the snowsuits and boots they need? Shouldn't the poor be able to count on the dignity of earned income and not the indignity of charity?"
This is the time of year when good-hearted people "open their hand", and some do so very generously. I can't blame charitable organizations for going all out for the dollars and donations. What they get during this season often has to last all year.

And some responsible public policy wouldn't hurt, either.
Bush's advice: Stay alert, but carry on

"So long, suckers - I'm off to Camp David & the ranch!"

(Bet he doesn't have to go through delays at the airports)

A question worth asking

Rightly or wrongly, I've usually given the British press a little more credence than our our own SCLM.

Today's "Guardian" proves me "rightly", for a change -

"John Crace asks academics if Prince Charles is worth listening to"

Which begs the question, "When will our own media ask the same about pResident Bush?"
Woo-hoo! "Blogger" did the maintenance for me

The fine folks at "Blogger" customer support really know the meaning of that term. I asked for help setting permalinks, and they did it for me, just-like-that. Good show, guys!

Continue to steal what you want, but now you can link to it. If you're so inclined.

Now - if I can only figure out how to permanently post my "Essential Andante Facts".
(Update - I did it! Without losing anything, and with no parts left over!)

I really like the way Chris "Lefty" Brown does it (Chris Brown 5 Facts, at the top of the page...someone give the guy a Chic-Fil-A sandwich), but I'm sure I'd screw up the whole thing if I tried. So - here goes......
Essential Andante Facts

*I am a white, middle-aged, Southern Belle Don’t-Wannabe. Watch me and my hooped-skirt give a new meaning to the act of “mooning”

*I don’t suffer trolls wisely or at all. I have a “ban” button, and I’m not afraid to use it

*According to “Belief-O-Matic”, I am 100% Liberal Quaker and 98% Neo-Pagan. What’s with that?

*I believe The South Shall Rise Again. And white, middle-aged women shall lead them.

*"For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land." (Deuteronomy 15:11 (KJV)

*Can’t we all get along?
That's all. Carry on.
The White House Reading List

Celebrating his astounding "success" with the Texas educational system and the "No Child Left Behind" nonsense, Education Secretary Rod Paige reads "The Grinch".

Small Business Administration Secretary Hector Barreto reads the same paeon to his department's policies, in Spanish.

Director of the Office of Management and Budget Josh Bolton asks - "What Is Hanukkah?".

Director of the Office of Management and Budget Josh Bolton answers his own question - "It's Hanukkah".

Sorry; the White House "Season of Stories" page doesn't include any reference to what, if anything, Fearless Leader might read. Feel free to make recommendations.
You knew it had to happen

Successfully pissing off our "Olde Europe" allies wasn't enough. Why not go whole hog, and bring the British into The Coalition of the Pissed? If you need any reminder of which countries are on the list, go here.

According to the Sunday Mirror -
"President Bush was incensed that Mr Blair stole Washington's thunder by being the first Western leader to confirm that the former dictator had been arrested by US troops.

Downing Street rushed out Mr Blair's announcement before he had spoken to the American leader early last Sunday, when Mr Bush - six hours behind London - was still in bed."
You'd think they'd wait for the Fearless Leader of the Free World to get out of his Superman jammies. Or at least for the next news cycle, eastern standard time.

But as we all know - George doesn't read or listen to the news, so it took a little more direct action to get his dander up.
"Presidential advisers in Washington wanted Mr Bush to be the sole leader to make a Christmas visit to troops in Baghdad and urged Downing Street to postpone any visit.

The US refused to co-operate on security arrangements for a Christmas visit by Mr Blair, who is going to spend the festive season with his family in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh.

Mr Blair and Mr Bush have had at least three phone conversations during the past seven days which Whitehall officials described as "increasingly terse".
I take it we will have our Christmas dinner interrupted by "breaking news" of Bush's latest daring visit to Baghdad? The best advice here is to take a leaf out of Dubya's book - don't listen to the news. Turn off the TV and the radio - hide the newspapers.

But there's a more disturbing bit in this story...."The US refused to co-operate on security arrangements for a Christmas visit by Mr Blair".

Maybe Mr. Blair is finally catching on to the game. Stick to the neo-con script, be unquestionably loyal to the Bush family, don't speak unless spoken to, and put your political career on the line for the sake of Dubya's. No up-staging allowed. If you're a good boy, you may get screwed anyway.
Don't they know Santa is watching?

At the risk of repeating myself - something I do more often as I creep toward senility -

The talking heads and other assorted media are still hard on the trail of that all-important, world-changing "Yes You Did, No I Didn't", Dean-Clark tiff. The Washington Post weighs in today with "Running Mates, Or Running Argument?
"Don't look for former Vermont governor Howard Dean and retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark to be exchanging any holiday presents. The two can't even agree on what they said to each other in a private meeting that took place in California in September, just before Clark entered the presidential race."
As I said in a previous post , there are better ways for these two to handle the disagreement; The So-Called Liberal Media needs no help making Democrats look like squabbling three-year-olds.

Number One - stop the "did so, did not" crap. That includes you, too, Joe Trippi, and any other political gurus associated with either campaign.

Number Two - to every intrepid, inquiring reporter, say "I'd be honored to be the running mate of Clark/Dean. Either of us would be a better president than George Bush. It doesn't matter who is at the top of the ticket - any two of the Democratic candidates would make a great team."

Trust me, the SCLM will abandon the story like a hot potato, and start digging for something else to make the Dems look like incompetent fools.
A little housekeeping

If things start to look a little strange on this site, it's because I'm doing a little necessary maintenance & updating. Being totally HTML-ignorant, who knows what might get lost in the effort, but so be it.

My permalinks are "bloggered", which sounds very un-sexy, and is. I'm waiting for Blogger to tell me how to unblogger them. It's sort of like waiting for my sinuses to drain, and just as much fun.

In the meantime, as Kos says - steal what you want.

And while you're stealing what you want, I'll get those links up to Liberal Coalition blogs. Steal what you want from them, too - every one of them is an essential read and on the side of good.

So, as I tell guests who visit my actual, physical home - just step high, and don't mind the mess.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Alright, you two - TIME OUT

What's with Howard Dean and Wesley Clark squabbling over whether or not Dean offered the vice presidential slot to Clark?

Wesley, go to your room.

Howard - you, too.

What you BOTH should be saying is -
"I'd be honored to be the running mate of Clark/Dean. Either of us would be a better president than George Bush. It doesn't matter who is at the top of the ticket - any two of the Democratic candidates would make a great team."
Now.....you can come out of your rooms. Shake hands, and keep your eyes on the prize.
Homeland Security "Hits One Out Of The Park"

Shortly after issuing an "Orange" security alert, Mother Nature unleashed a 6.5 earthquake on California.

"Thank God our citizens were vigilant", said a spokesman. "It is now safe to take the plastic sheeting and duct tape off the nuclear reactors."
The earth moves under their feet

Early reports - 6.5 on the Richter, somewhere north of L.A.

Be safe, friends.
More on educational sadism

Continuing along the Exercising Educational Sadism lines (see earlier post), frequent commenter, guest, and all-around-good guy Tarheel_Scott takes the wheel -

"We may all be created equal under the law (in this country anyway, and with mixed success), but we are not created equal under God. We are each bestowed with different talents, with which we may contribute to the greater good of all.

Nothing innovative ever comes from a formulaic approach to any problem, and education devoid of the conditions which foster innovation is merely training. Teachers must be given the resources to help students discover and realize their unique potential, which may not be in vocations sought after by business.

Time and time again business assumes that it knows what's best for America's future, and anyone who takes a dispassionate look at our history quickly learns how miserably mistaken their predictions have been.

So called "business-education partnerships" are hardly the bi-directional dialogs they are touted to be. Instead they are business dictating the rules of the game to education, with "scared straight" tactics for the kids: if you don't prepare for a lifetime of employment, you will be a failure."
Woo-hoo! Shock & Awe Fired Across The DeLay Bow!

And I can't think of a scummier bow to shoot. At. Whatever.

DeLay was at his usual, smarmy worst on "Meet The Press", claiming questions about the Administration's failure to find Osama bin Laden came from the "fringe" of the Democratic Party and said, "unfortunately, Wesley Clark must live in a different world."

You'd think an exterminator would be chomping at the bit to exercise all his skills and expertise on vermin like Bin Laden, but DeLay has left that world far behind. He prefers attempting to exterminate pests like Democratic candidates, non-Republicans, non-Republican donors, legislators that don't toe his hard-right-wing line, non-Christians, non-whites, citizens of Texas, the environment, and the world in general.

With a rap sheet like that, he deserves every word of the Clark campaign's response:
"The closest to real combat that Tom 'Chicken-Hawk' DeLay has ever come was when he got himself a student deferment from Vietnam and instead suited up in his exterminator outfit and defended the people of Texas against invading cockroaches, marauding red ants and hostile moths."
Whoever ends up as the Democratic nominee can only benefit from bare-knuckled chickenhawk-smackdowns. Bring it on!

The Liberal Coaltion of bloggers, on the warpath

I'm honored to have been asked to join the Liberal Coalition, and will soon get up all the appropriate links on my own site. Great folks, great thoughts, great company, and I encourage you to check them (us!) out.

And I guess it means I have to post some meaningful, liberal thoughts. So, meaningful or not, here they are, starting with "Exercising Educational Sadism". More to follow when least expected.
Exercising Educational Sadism

Required reading of the day - WaPo's "School Choice, Limited Options - Local Realities Confront No Child Left Behind Law"

To paraphrase Shakespeare -

Two school systems, both alike in dignity,
In fair North Carolina, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where "failing" schools make "performing" schools unclean.

The school systems are Weldon - poor and predominantly black, and Roanoke Rapids, which is more prosperous and predominately white. The resulting chaos is a perfect argument against the "No Child Left Behind" nonsense.

There are certainly some racial overtones, but lack of common sense, lack of clear vision, lack of funding, and the despicable conservative desire to punish "failing" schools all come into play.

"A few months ago, Weldon school officials attempted to negotiate a school-choice agreement with their counterparts in Roanoke Rapids, a predominantly white, middle-class school district on the other side of Interstate 95. They were turned down flat.

Weldon's request would "create an administrative nightmare," said Roanoke Rapids school Superintendent John Parker, who employs two investigators to ensure that children living in Weldon and surrounding Halifax County do not try to sneak into his schools. "There is no way we could accommodate all the students who want to come here, if we opened our doors."
I'm going to give Parker and the people of Roanoke Rapids some credit here - not everyone in The South is a raging segregationist, and the same demographics can be found all over the nation. Roanoke Rapids is hardly Beverly Hills, and has it's fair share of poor folks; black, white, and everything else.

Decreeing that students from "failing" schools can whisk themselves into "performing" schools doesn't take into account that good school systems are often already overcrowded, nor does it address the sometimes insurmountable transportation problems.

So, what's a "performing" school to do? Slam the doors on applicants, and risk the "racist" label? Admit all the students who qualify, become hopelessly overcrowded and start down the slippery slope to a becoming a "failing" school?

But let's talk about those "failing" schools. Ask any teacher, or any student, at ANY school.
"To meet state and federal standards, Weldon's school board has embraced a strategy of relentless testing and practicing for tests. Every week, students are required to take practice tests for as long as three hours, leading up to the mandatory state tests in the spring. Some teachers say the emphasis on testing is compounding an already serious problem of high teacher turnover.

"It was all drill, drill, drill for the test," said Lana Curtis, a sixth-grade teacher at a Roanoke Rapids middle school, who transferred from Weldon a couple of years ago. "I did not feel that I was being treated as a professional. Pretty much everything we taught was related to the test."
Weldon has certainly been given no choice by the "No Child Left Behind" mandates. And thus, students and teachers at the failing schools are punished.

Punishing our children and school systems is hardly "compassionate conservatism", or anything resembling compassionate. Clearly, the puny funding for "No Child Left Behind" would be better spent on strengthening the "failing" school systems and the children they serve.

The "Head Start" program comes to mind....however, the "compassionate conservatives" have put Head Start in the bullseye, apparently longing for the day they can put our four-year-olds through the testing mill.

To paraphrase Old Will again -

See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with "compassion".
And we, for winking at your discords too
Are losing a generation of children: all are punish'd.

"Albright: 'Rings' Sequel Timed to Benefit Bush"
(Satire alert)
"Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright suggested today that the Bush administration influenced the timing of the release of the blockbuster movie 'The Return of the King' to boost the economy before the 2004 elections."


Sunday, December 21, 2003

Look and Weep
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Bush flipped a finger to everyone.
When will he ever learn?
When will he ever learn?
"Axis of Evil" Mourns Libya's Loss
(republished here for the benefit of "Opinions You Should Have" visitors)

Members of the "Axis of Evil" expressed sorrow and anger at losing Libya as a charter member of the club.

Syria was particularly irate. "The job of supporting Islamic terrorists and the Palestinians now falls on Syria and Iran alone", a spokesman said. "We plan to look into extending an invitation to Saudi Arabia or perhaps Pakistan."

North Korea also expressed disappointment, as they would now need to find another customer for their major export product.

From an undisclosed location, it was reported that Vice President Dick Cheney was speaking to oil company executives via teleconference. Libya has proven reserves of 29.5 billion barrels of oil and a production capacity of 1.4 million barrels per day.

There were unconfirmed rumors that shouts of "Hot DAMN!" could be heard from that undisclosed location, and a catering truck was reported to have arrived with cases of champagne and caviar.

The Man On The Moon

James Carville (via South Knox Bubba)

"this administration would put a man on the moon and then leave the poor son of a bitch stranded up there because they wouldn't have a plan to bring him home."

Dream ticket - Carville/Ivins in '04

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Good reads from the New Blogger Showcase
Spam of the Week contemplates the dimensional warp generator offer.

And having gone through the financial aid obstacle course just a year ago, I definitly sympathize with Belief Seeking Understanding.

(Major brag alert - my firstborn-and-only child received her first semester grades today - straight A's! Time to hit up the financial aid office for more scholarship money.)

Check it out -

Lord of the Right Wing
Via Matt Singer at Not Geniuses -
"In order to better inform the public, from now on every reference on this page to George W. Bush, George Bush, Reelect Bush, Bush in '04, Bush/Cheney '04, BC04 or any other reference to our sitting President will refer people to BushTax.com."
Thanks, Matt, for helping inform the masses.
Mercury X23's Fantabulous Blog has a great take on BushCo vs. Nature. Check it out.
Blogging good preparation for viewing ROTK

Yes, my life is now complete - I have seen "Return of the King". Saw it on Thursday, and we are tentatively planning to see it again today. And probably at least once more during Christmas holiday-time.

The countless hours I've wasted spent lately, surfin' the net and ranting through this blog were great preparation for the movie. Apparently, my hindquarters are now conditioned for long sitting-hours, as I never once shifted around uncomfortably in my theater seat.

Or maybe I just never had a chance to think about a sore butt.

I am in awe of the way Peter Jackson takes brief moments, focuses on them, and makes you think about the costs of victory and horrors of war. The 1/2 second shot of that ugly hunk of metal on the tip of an arrow aimed at the Gondorian army. The looks on the faces of the old men & little boys, arming themselves for the Battle of Helms Deep (The Two Towers). The crowd laying flowers in the street before Faramir and his soldiers as they ride off to the suicide mission - much like laying flowers on a grave.

There are no spots suitable for bathroom breaks. Dehydrate yourself beforehand. No popcorn or soft drinks allowed....take a box of Tic-Tacs or something to quench your thirst.

Top one hundred memoriable moments -

1. Lighting the beacons of war
2. The charge of the Rohhirim
3. Eowyn kicks major butt
4. The Army of the Dead
5. Billy Boyd as "Pippin"
6 - 100 The rest of the movie
What's so funny about peace, love, and higher taxes?

Chris "Lefty" Brown reminds us that healthy communities benefit everyone - Democrats, Republicans, and everything in-between and on the edges. Infrastructure, education, police, fire, sewage treatment - someone has to pay.

So, who's it going to be? Federal? State? County? City/Local? And HOW should the money be raised? Sales tax? VAT? Income? Property?

Most Republican rhetoric is carefully designed to make "taxes" a dirty word; that word wouldn't hold a candle to the dirty words I'd have to say if the local fire department didn't have the equipment and manpower to respond to a fire at my house.

A responsible, equitable tax code is the duty of our elected officials, but Republican's have warped it beyond all recognition. Instead of appealing to community spirit and true patriotism, the "anti-tax" crowd appeals to the greed in the greediest.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Not In My Backyard

There's lots of things I wouldn't want in my neighborhood - a crack house, a nuclear reactor, a hazardous waste dump, a maximum-security prison, just to name a few. Here's another -

Church abandons plans for Ashcroft Street

"The Assemblies of God headquarters withdrew its proposal to rename a street for Springfield native and church member Attorney General John Ashcroft after some residents criticized the request."
That's an "honor" that should be reserved for the maximum-security prison. Or the hazardous waste dump.
"Axis of Evil" Mourns Libya's Loss

Members of the "Axis of Evil" expressed sorrow and anger at losing Libya as a charter member of the club.

Syria was particularly irate. "The job of supporting Islamic terrorists and the Palestinians now falls on Syria and Iran alone", a spokesman said. "We plan to look into extending an invitation to Saudi Arabia or perhaps Pakistan."

North Korea also expressed disappointment, as they would now need to find another customer for their major export product.

From an undisclosed location, it was reported that Vice President Dick Cheney was speaking to oil company executives via teleconference. Libya has proven reserves of 29.5 billion barrels of oil and a production capacity of 1.4 million barrels per day.

There were unconfirmed rumors that shouts of "Hot DAMN!" could be heard from that undisclosed location, and a catering truck was reported to have arrived with cases of champagne and caviar.

Libya 'Fesses Up...When Will We?

Libya admitted today that it has tried in the past to obtain and develop weapons of mass destruction. In a move toward rejoining the international community, they now publicly admit and renounce the efforts. Inspectors will now be welcomed into Libya to oversee the dismantling of the program and destruction of the weapons.

Good show. Here's hoping the United States will someday follow suit.

Watch for the neo-cons to claim that "preventative war" scared Libya into behaving.
Anybody But Bush!

I admire anyone who votes their conscience and usually do that myself - but folks - in 2004 it DOES matter which whore wins.
Something Creepy This Way Comes!

Palace 'ghost' caught on camera

And here I thought Prince Charles' sex life or the Queen's hat collection was the creepiest thing in Britain!

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Saddam Watch

As a public service, Collective Sigh continues to collect & post pictures of possible Saddam doubles. Feel free to send in your suggestions.
9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable

"For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.
"This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right," said Thomas Kean.

"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," he said. "This was not something that had to happen."

Appointed by the Bush administration, Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, is now pointing fingers inside the administration and laying blame.


Kean promises major revelations in public testimony beginning next month from top officials in the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, National Security Agency and, maybe, President Bush and former President Clinton."
Obviously, former Republican governor Thomas Kean didn't get the memo. There's a lot of buzz about how the administration will react to this report.

No need for Karl Rove to sweat the defence on this one. It's all contained in the last three words of the report - "former President Clinton".
Daily gems from the Toronto Star

Political fight crosses border
"Canadians care about the upcoming U.S. elections — because when the presidency is returned to an intelligent, honest, and honourable man who is fit for the challenge of running the world's most powerful nation, Canadians will once again respect the country that we once trusted and respected to an immensely greater degree."
Live from the new Iraq: Happy talk
"Every December, media organizations comb their archives for the iconic images of the past 12 months. They're used for the "year-enders'' that obsess us in the slow news period during the holidays."

As if anybody wants to relive 2003 and its almost relentlessly depressing headlines. Not that good news is ever real news, no matter how much the White House wishes it were so."

Ignoring The Lessons Of History

Too often, I take Liberal Oasis for granted. The site is a "regular" on my morning-read list, and I just assume everyone does the same. Today's installment is typically excellent.
"Hussein could try to dredge up some of this history during his trial, in an argument that the West was somehow complicit in his actions…
Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, a practiced litigator, said such a tactic by Hussein would be "a real reach for relevancy" and doubted that it would seriously embarrass the U.S. government.

"Was it inconsistent to have worked with Stalin during World War II and then to oppose him during the Cold War? So what? That's statecraft," he said."
Liberal Oasis points out that the "so what" approach to statecraft, coming from an administration member, gives Democrats an opening to make the case that "the Bushies haven’t learned any lessons for the future."
"Why not, when the time is right, throw Woolsey’s remark back in his face?

That World War II could have been averted if Hitler was not appeased.

That both Gulf Wars could have been averted if Saddam wasn’t coddled and enabled.

And that a Democratic presidency will seek to preclude such bloody conflicts, by recognizing that you can’t successfully defeat terrorism without using American’s superpower influence to champion human rights and oppose tyranny."
Shorter version? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Brilliance Lost

I had a brilliant, life-changing essay all written in my mind, when Blogger decided to crash. Until I recover my memory, the following will have to do.

Three quick thoughts -

1) Our "baby" comes home from college today; the blogosphere will have to do without me for a bit - which I'm sure it will do quite well - as I scurry around to make sure we're stocked up on all her favorite foods and her Christmas presents are well hidden.

2) If it weren't for reason number one, I'd probably be camped out in the cold rain, waiting for my turn to savor "Return of the King". I've worn my "Tolkien freak" badge proudly for too many years to let crappy weather stop me.

3) One of my favorite sources for news and comment is The Toronto Star. If it weren't for those pesky words "snow" and "cold" in their weather forecast (virtually every day of the year, it seems), I'd probably be well-suited to living there.

I just can't even comprehend this - today, snow, high 2; tomorrow, flurries, high 0. Friday, flurries, high -1. Saturday, snow, high 0.

WTF??!! - I've been known to get out the thermal underwear when the temperature dips into the 50's.

So if Canada ever decides to annex Aruba, I hope they'll give me a call. But I take my hat off to the Canadians who, despite a frozen environment, are able to think clearly, write & report responsibly, and provide their citizens with universal health care.

(Note: As commentor Tarheel Scott correctly points out, those temperatures are in Celsius, not Fahrenheit. The difference between the two - in my opinion - is "too cold" and "damn cold")

Today's issue offers a plethora of thoughtful comment and all the usual good stuff. In addition to the irresistable glowing review of "Return of the King" :)

Baffling week for Bush watchers
""It simply looks like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," says Doug Bandow, a senior analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute.

"This is the most bizarre juxtaposition of events I've ever seen. It frankly makes the administration look stupid."
Amen, brother.

Nine tales of a society scared into stupidity

Yep, that's the Bush Nation. Scared stupid.

Arrest of celebrity villain just a sideshow to the more important matter of American ambitions in the Middle East
"For Iraqis, the capture of Saddam Hussein is a big deal. For the world media, it is even bigger. But in the grand scheme of things, Saddam's arrest, trial and inevitable conviction are not that important."
Somewhere between O.J. Simpson, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jackson on the "global scheme of things" scale.

Unless U.S. builds on Saddam's capture by embracing global co-operation, the job of rebuilding Iraq will fail
"Saddam may loom larger in captivity, as a symbol of defiance for Arab nationalists who are still resolved to defeat what they perceive as Western empire-building, than he did when he was on the run."
And last, but certainly not least -

Jackson epic a crowning glory

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