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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

While we're investigating embarrassing public displays...

Isn't it time this one gets another smackdown?


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Lest We Forget




So, CBS and the NFL expect MTV to put on a nice, clean, family-suitable halftime show?

Give me a break. Sex sells, and they couldn't wait for the dollars to roll in.
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Can't stand it any longer

So with foot firmly in mouth, I'll make ONE predication for today's primaries.

John Edwards will surprise; by soundly winning one and possibly two states, with very strong 2nd or 3rd place finishes in the rest.

He's intelligent, articulate, charismatic, and a ball of energy. He's not as young as he looks (I wish I looked that young for the age), his heart's in the right place, and he's a nice man with a nice family.

As I keep saying, I don't have a dog in the fight - yet. But I've been proud to call John Edwards my senator, and sure wouldn't mind calling him my president.

I wouldn't mind calling my cat's litter box the president, either - anything would be better than what we've got.

So - regardless of who comes in on top or bottom today - keep your eyes on the prize. Anybody But Bush!
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Another one bites the dust....

From CNN - Judge overturns late-term abortion law
"A federal judge has ruled Virginia's ban on a type of late-term abortion is unconstitutional, striking down a law that uses language mirroring the federal ban signed into law last year.

(snip)

(U.S. District Judge Richard L.) Williams said the law violated privacy rights and failed to make an exception for the health of the woman. He also challenged the use of the term "partial birth infanticide" by the law's backers, saying it was an attempt to alarm the public. "
Good. Another blow to "Bush science".

For real science, see - Statement on So-Called "Partial Birth Abortion" Laws By The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists - Feb. 13, 2002

Per the Associated Press, the limited federal ban "is already being challenged in Nebraska, New York and California. About 30 states have enacted versions of so-called partial birth abortion bans, but in many cases they have been overturned in court."

Even better.

Don't mess with me on this one, folks. My cousin and his wife underwent pure hell when it was discovered their third child suffered hydrocephaly plus several other non-survivable deformities.

Because of the law at the time, she was forced to carry the fetus until two weeks before the due date, when it was deemed a caesarian section could be performed (major surgery, btw - no walk in the park).

Instead of planning a nursery, they had to plan a funeral. The baby lived for about two hours after the birth.

Like all such "Bush science", the so-called partial birth abortion ban is full of baloney, only designed to appeal to "the base", and endangers women's health everywhere.

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Swift move, Joe

I've always said I thought Joe Lieberman was the kind of guy I'd like to have for a neighbor, but not the type I'd cast a vote for in a presidential election.

Now I'm not even sure about having him for a neighbor. I've got enough rightwing nuts around here already -
Bill Would Give 9/11 Panel Time

Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation yesterday to postpone the deadline for an independent commission studying the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to complete its work, proposing to give the panel until January 2005.
Bye, bye AGAIN, Joe.

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Revising those retirement plans

On one of those wacky items in the budget, via Norbizness -
"Baby boomers start retiring in 2011, the year after the effect of permanent tax cuts would double the size of the deficit. Hopefully, the Rapture will have taken place by then (in fact, I think they're counting on it).
My new retirement plan -

1) Start being extra-nice to my kid and any potential, future grandchildren
2) Invest in company printing bumper stickers - "Don't blame me, I voted ABB"
2) Get saved

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Lookee over there! A non-partisan commission!

Via the Asia Times - Bush barking up the CIA's tree
"Wounded by the total collapse of its prewar contentions that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, the administration of US President George W Bush has embarked on a strategy of diversion and delay."
He can bark all he wants, but I have a feeling it's not a possum up that tree, but a mountain lion.
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Investigations and bets

I leave town for a couple of days, and come back to find that everybody is either investigating or betting.

***Dubya takes a page from the Schwarzenegger manual and decides to investigate himself. Not to be outdone, Tony Blair initiates his own investigation into himself, too.

Dubya's hand-picked panel will undoubtedly be tasked with finding a suitable scapegoat without revealing anything of substance regarding Miserable Failure's lack of judgment.

I foresee the name "James Baker" appearing prominently among the panel members. And perhaps "Dr. Henry Kissinger".

Do NOT look for the answer to the question - "when given cherry-picked, cooked-up intelligence, why were we dumb enough to go along with it?".

***Via the NY Times - Bush Bets America Agrees With His Fiscal Priorities.
"To that end, Mr. Bush's $2.4 trillion budget provides the back-up material to the re-election theme that the president first set forth in his State of the Union address: He is the national security candidate to take care of America's fears.
Looks like we're in store for more cherry-picked, cooked-up test results on the old "Star Wars" missile defense system. Vastly more important, of course, than mundane things like jobs, health care, and education. Blake at American Footprint has a short-list of budget losers.

As FDR said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself", and the Bush/Cheney04 crowd apparently is counting on currying plenty of fear.

***More hypocrisy in high places -

The FCC and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue are shocked - SHOCKED - that a halftime show produced by MTV would include suggestive lyrics, lewd dancing, and semi-nudity.

Best line, from a Jeannie Moos "man on the street" -
"At least it wasn't Michael's breast".
I'm quite sure the young man meant "Michael Jackson", and not "Michael Powell". As we all KNOW, Powell is a bastion of decency whose main concern is consolidating the media into the vast right-wing conspiracy. Besides, the mere thought of Michael Powell dancing lewdly and baring his breasts is, shall we say - yucky.

Via the Washington Post -
"Michael Powell, the chairman of the FCC, blasted MTV and CBS, both owned by Viacom, and said the federal regulator would launch a swift and immediate investigation. He called the incident, "a classless, crass and deplorable stunt."
Obviously, a man with his finger on the pulse of American pop culture.

As the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins points out -
"All this shock and horror and moral outrage were tough to understand. Does Powell not watch American television? Sex is everywhere. Sex sells. Especially in the music business; whether it's Lil Kim exposing her breast on the red carpet, or Britney French-kissing Madonna, or Nelly imploring young women to take off all their clothes.

And the Super Bowl, the most watched television event of the year, symbolizes the nexus between commerce and spectacle. For $19.99, viewers could have even purchased a half-time package that included the Lingerie Bowl, a tackle-football game between two teams of scantily clad female models.

There were commercials Sunday night featuring lesbian kisses, farting horses, and spots for erection-enhancing drugs. (Paraphrase of a tagline warning: "An erection that lasts more than 4 hours is not normal and you should seek immediate medical attention.")

Daddy, what's an erection?"
Now, THERE'S a mixed message if ever I heard one - four hour erections are okay for our kids to contemplate, but the only suitable sex education is "abstinence only".

The NFL got the "sex sells" message long ago. Shame on them for getting caught passing the word along.

***I am NOT predicting any primary results today, as I can easily make a fool of myself without touching the computer keyboard.

The U.K. Guardian - which often seems to have a better grip on American politics than our SCLM - doesn't make a prediction, either, but has this interesting item -
"The religious war that is of most concern to George Bush these days has nothing to do with Wahabi, Shia or Sunni Muslims.

It involves Roman Catholics, and particularly those in the five swing states of Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Judging by the enthusiasm that Catholics are showing for Senator John Kerry, Mr Bush may be in greater jeopardy than he ever expected.

For clues about the November election, watch today's results from Arizona, New Mexico and, particularly, Missouri. The heavier the vote, the more disturbing the results for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

If the German Catholics of Missouri towns such as Hermann are angry enough to go to the polls, and if they cast a ballot for Mr Kerry, Mr Bush could be on his way to becoming the second one-term president in his family."
I enjoy watching a co-worker - a solid Bush supporter who nervously scans the Dow Jones average several times a day, because "President Bush needs some good news".

I'm getting a lot of MY good news lately at Daily Kos . My browser doesn't like his site, apparently, and goes all fuzzy with the complexity of it all. But I do enjoy a daily peek at the "Poll Watch" - sidebar, a little down to the right. All those little red "down" arrows on the Bush approval ratings cheer my heart.

***Finally, Tom Burka has the definitive word on ricin, and how much safer we all are.

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Friday, January 30, 2004

DVD of the evening

Tonight, we popped in "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" (1949; John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar; directed by John Ford).

We're suckers for old westerns, and we've watched "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" at least a dozen times, along with the "bookends" of the trilogy - "Fort Apache" and "Rio Grande".

This time, I noticed something I'd never paid much attention to before - John Wayne's line ""Never apologize, Mr. Pennell, it's a sign of weakness."

I've heard the line three times now, and the movie is barely into the first hour. I'm pretty sure it occurs at least once more.

So, I guess Paul Krugman is right - the Bush administration has sunk to the John Wayne School of Public Policy.

Apologize, hell! It's a sign of weakness!
"So where are the apologies? Where are the resignations? Where is the investigation of this intelligence debacle? All we have is bluster from Dick Cheney, evasive W.M.D.-related-program-activity language from Mr. Bush — and a determined effort to prevent an independent inquiry.
When the history is written, the G.W. Bush administration will be seen to have been the most dishonest in the nation's annals. In modern history, the Nixon administration is the benchmark - but nobody died because of the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up.

Don't hold your breath waiting for an apology. In the Testosterone Wing of the Republican party, it's a sign of weakness in already-weak people.

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I'm in love

Haven't made up my own mind on the candidate yet, but I love every blessed "Bubba" that is willing to proudly support a Democrat.

Anybody But Bush!
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An evening's entertainment

Things can get awful lonely sometimes for a progressive down here in rightwing heaven, so I really appreciate Rubber Hose for providing a link to "BushFlash's "animations .

Some powerful stuff here, so be forewarned. But I particularly enjoyed "Idiot Son Of An Asshole".
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Thursday, January 29, 2004

It's a matter of respect

Blogging will be light and occasionally non-existent for several days.... I am preoccupied with some expensive, crappy dental work and then - and THEN - a "weekend getaway" with my significant other.

My "significant other" and I have been married for 25 years on Monday, Feb. 2nd. That's a long time; and yet, sometimes it seems like we just met a couple of weeks ago.

In many ways, we're as different as night and day. Our taste in music, movies, food, and many other things is totally different. Over the years, we've made compromises, learned to appreciate our differences, and sometimes gone down our own paths.

Why should I force my country-music-loving husband to listen to my classical music? He would resent it, and his snores wouldn't please me, either. Life is too short for bickering over petty things.

Twenty-five years is a long time, and another twenty-five would suit me just fine. Those who know us often refer to us as the "odd couple", but our lives would be awfully dull without our "oddness". There's no "secret formula" for getting along - it's all just a matter of common courtesy to each other and respect.

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A few facts from Jonah Goldberg, National Review
"A few quick facts. George W. Bush has:

Increased federal spending on education by 60.8 percent;

Iincreased federal spending on labor by 56 percent;

Increased federal spending on the interior by 23.4 percent;

Increased federal spending on defense by 27.6 percent.

And of course he has:

Created a massive department of homeland security;

Signed a campaign-finance bill he pretty much said he thought was unconstitutional (thereby violating his oath to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution);

Signed the farm bill, which was a non-kosher piñata filled with enough pork to bend space and time;

Pushed through a Medicare plan which starts with a price tag of $400 billion but will — according to every expert who studies the issue — go up a gazillion-bajillion dollars over the next decade;

Torched Republican — and American — credibility on trade, in both agriculture and steel;

Got more people working for the federal government since the end of the Cold War;

Not vetoed a single spending — or any other bill, and he has no intention of eliminating a single department;

Sold out like a fire sale at Filene's on Title IX

Pushed to send more Americans to Mars while inviting a lot more illegal immigrants to hang out here in America."
In addition to the above, as beastofsound very eloquently points out, Bush proposes increasing funding to the National Endowment of the Arts by $18 million in 2005.

Is it just me, or has George Bush single-handedly betrayed the conservative agenda?

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Another politico in need of better management

Is Vice President Dick Cheney a drag on the "Bush/Cheney04" ticket? As the Asia Times says -
"Reports were already surfacing two months ago that a discreet "dump Cheney" movement had been launched by intimate associates of Bush's father (former president George H W Bush) - his national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and former secretary of state James Baker"
I don't have enough fingers & toes to count up acquaintances who reluctantly voted for Bush in 2000 because of Cheney's perceived "experience" and presumably steady hand on the loose wheel.

These sadly misguided folks have already vowed not to make that mistake again, which leads me to believe the "Dump Cheney" crowd may be on to something
"I think he knows that he's in trouble," one prominent Republican activist who thinks Cheney should be dropped said this week. "I don't think there's any other way to explain why he would sit for a puerile interview for the [Washington Post's] Style section. You know he despises that sort of thing."
Perhaps the VP has finally gotten the message - at least, part of it. Leaving the cocoon of his "undisclosed location", Cheney has been popping up all over the place lately.
"Cheney's travel and sudden and abundant press availability was noted in Tuesday's New York Times, which described his behavior as "a calculated election-year makeover to temper his hardline image at home and abroad".
Somehow, I don't think Cheney has gotten the complete message. Those who thought him a little obsessed with WMD and the Iraq/al Queda connection might have been disconcerted to hear him on NPR last week, still insisting that massive stockpiles were laying around, "conclusive evidence" of WMD programs had been found, and plugging "overwhelming evidence" of the Saddam/al Queda relationship.

Presumably, Mr. Cheney was aware of chief weapons inspector David Kay's negative reports. Presumably, Mr. Cheney chooses to ignore them.

Cheney is increasingly seen as the Machiavellian power behind the president, ruthlessly driving the neo-con agenda. His favorability rating is 20% and falling; nevertheless -
"Cheney told USA Today he was not worried about his image as the administration's Machiavelli, skilled in the quiet arts of persuading his "Prince" to pursue questionable policies, adding, surprisingly un-self-consciously, "Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole? It's a nice way to operate, actually."
Either Mr. Cheney is incredibly ignorant, incredibly arrogant, or both. It's not so much the "image" that causes concern, but the questionable policies.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2004



Eyes on the prize

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Ex-Iraq inspector: Prewar intelligence failure 'disturbing'
"The former top U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq on Wednesday blamed intelligence failures for the apparently incorrect conclusion that Saddam Hussein possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction before the U.S.-led invasion."
Which "intelligence" do they plan to blame?

Intelligence from the already-Plame-pissed CIA?

Or "intelligence" from Donald Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans?

***

The U.S. is gearing up for a spring offensive against Al Queda, vowing to find Osama bin Forgotten and Mullah Omar.

Of course, if it hadn't been for that little matter of imminently-threatening Iraq, the offensive might have taken place a year ago.

However, the presumed capture or killing of bin Laden and Omar will come in much handier this year, no?

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Well, let's see....

I'm feeling particularly self-satisfied this morning, as so many of my New Hampshire primary predications turned out to be right on the money.

Yesterday, I said "My "gut feelings" are only reliable when they're telling me - "we're hungry".

I was exactly right!

I also accurately predicted Kerry to come in first, Lieberman to come in fifth; correct again.

How's that for spin?

As to the other predictions, ridicule expected and accepted.

So, we press on to Junior Super Tuesday, with delegates up for grabs in South Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Delaware, Arizona, North Dakota.

I'll stick to (part) of yesterday's prediction - "Kerry and Dean will do worse than expected; Clark and Edwards better than expected." I will, however, add the word "somewhat" to each.

Things could be particularly interesting in South Carolina, where most folks in the eastern part of the state are more worried about electricity than politics at the moment.

The latest ice storm was particularly unkind to them; as Tip O'Neill said - "All politics is local", and unless the candidates come bearing generators, they won't be paid much attention.

One thing I didn't predict, but could have - Safire is still lusting for Hillary.

***

Speaking of the latest ice storm - we are finally getting a glimpse of the SUN today, though temperatures aren't going to rise much above freezing. As soon as the sun melts a bit of ice from the driveway, I'm outta here, and will slide my way to the outside world to run a few errands.

***

Scout's on-the-spot reports from New Hampshire have been terrific. There's also an interesting tidbit over there -
"Also interesting, in NH, if you want to change party affiliation, you have to write in a Republican name on the Democratic Party Ballot, or the other way around. There were 103 Write In's for GW on the Democratic Ballot, and about 4300 total write ins for Democrats on the Republican ballot (nearly 1400 for Kerry alone). Bush won New Hampshire by only 7200 votes in 2000. Maybe this is meaningless, but it could be a signal of a greater siphoning of Republican votes than Democratic votes. GW only got 85% of Republican votes cast."
***

No going out on a limb here - Opinions You Should Have nails it; absolutely nails it, on the Oscar nominations. I agree 100% -
"Bush Nominated Best Actor; Karl Rove, Best Director; Donald Rumsfeld Named For Special Effects"
***

On the health care front, Steve Gilliard made it through surgery. Keep up the good thoughts for him.

While you're thinking all those good thoughts, send some especially good ones to Stradiotto. You have many friends, Evil One, and we miss you.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Medicine + Layers + Insurance Companies = Big Mess

My protective goddess, Echidne of the Snakes, deconstructs the BushCo argument for limiting medical malpractice awards-
"The whole existence of medical malpractice insurance is an anomaly. Insurance is supposed to protect us against unforeseen random events outside our influence. Surely malpractice is none of those things. Strictly speaking, malpractice insurance makes no economic sense. Its existence protects doctors, hospitals and other medical providers, true, but we don't in general sell people insurance against their own mistakes or crimes."
Agree? Disagree? Read "Malpractice Awards - The Cause of High Health Care Costs?" and let her know what you think.

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Brick wall

That's what I feel like I've hit. Maybe it's the icy weather and a bit of cabin fever; maybe it's New Hampshire primary tension - who knows.

I find myself reading (and enjoying) many blogs & commentary this morning, but have nothing particularly earthshaking to say myself (okay, nothing worthwhile).

But here's what I'm enjoying -

Salon.com is always a good read, and worth a subscription (I think you can get some sort of "guest" pass) - and today is no exception.

Today, they're heavily into Kevin Phillips' "American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush".

Review by Joan Walsh here; her interview with the author here, excerpt from the book here

***

Going way out on a limb and exposing myself to total ridicule, here is my prediction for the New Hampshire primary -

Kerry 27%
Edwards 24%
Dean 23%
Clark 21%
Lieberman 4%
Other 1%

My "gut feelings" are only reliable when they're telling me - "we're hungry". Nevertheless, I predict that Kerry and Dean will do worse than expected; Clark and Edwards better than expected. Poor Joe....I'd love to have him for my neighbor, but he's not going anywhere.

***

Tarheel Scott has been flexing his multilingual muscles, and poses an intriguing question from a German forum - "is poverty necessary in a liberal state?"

Thankfully, he rescued me from Babelfish and provided a translation of some of the comments.

I maintain, somewhat inarticulately, that in any material-oriented society, there will be inevitable poverty. Hop over there and add your two cents.

***

Speaking of poverty, fellow-TLC-er Rivka discusses Harold Ford's op-ed in Sunday's WaPo, "For Children, A Stake in the Future".

I think the idea of giving every newborn child a small savings/investment account - and a larger one for those born into poverty - is the greatest thing since sliced bread and universal health care. You can read Tony Blair's British model here (PDF file), with more on research and statistics.

Ah, but I dream....in the current right-wing conservative environment, I can't imagine the government kicking in the bucks to improve the future outlook for some poor minority baby, born to a single mother in a ghetto enviroment.

Or do I dream? If Wall Street and the big brokerage firms smell "profit", who knows what could happen?

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Monday, January 26, 2004

Easily the best idea of the day

From The General (not Ashcroft, the real Jesus' General) - Preemption House
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Another axis of evil

The Attorney General has spoken -
Saddam Hussein's past use of "evil chemistry" and "evil biology" and the threats they posed justified the war in Iraq even if no weapons of mass destruction are ever found, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Monday.
Damn straight! Those biologists with their ideas of "evolution" and the chemists that keep hollerin' about so-called harmful additives and pollutants - they oughta be lined up and shot!

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No, this stuff hasn't happened yet (it's a photo from the December 2002 ice storm), but it's in the forecast. We have 4-5" of snow on the ground, plus a nice, slick coating of sleet and ice - that's from yesterday's storm. Today, we are expected to get freezing rain - lots of it.

Crap.

I can't think while the above picture is in my face.

This looks much better -



Three things on my mind this morning -

1) Wesley Clark and Michael Moore.
As South Knox Bubba says -
"Michael Moore says Bush is a "deserter". Wesley Clark says he doesn't know what Moore is talking about but he has a right to say whatever he wants. So clearly Wesley Clark is labeling Bush a "deserter". It must be so, because Brit Hume said so!"
Maybe the AWOL charge is irrelevent, and maybe the SCLM is applying their usual twisted logic.

But you know what? I wish Clark would just look them straight in the eye and say,
"Damn right I think he deserted."
The conservative pundits would go berserk, the media would howl, but maybe, just maybe, some of the facts neglected in the 2000 election would get out in the open.

It's a matter of character. What happened so many years ago isn't that important; the important thing now is the refusal to accept responsibility and covering it up.

2) Lee Greenwood.
Another link, courtesy of South Know Bubba, to "Our Sacred Ditty".

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who groans every time I hear "God Bless the USA".

I AM proud to be an American, make no mistake about that. But the good Lord gave me the sense to perceive the difference between my beautiful country and it's current administration.

Bush-the-Smarter turned the song into the Republican National Anthem, a tradition continued to this day. Yet apparently people expect you to stand up, place your hand over your heart, and get teary-eyed over it. No way, Jack.

Besides, the melody and lyrics stink.

3). Prayer in the workplace
No reason you can't pray in the workplace, if you're so inclined. The following prayer strikes me as one that would be suitable for needlepointing and framing.

Just close your eyes, and repeat silently -
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I cannot accept, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill today because they pissed me off.

And also, help me to be careful of the toes I step on today as they may be connected to the ass that I may have to kiss tomorrow.

Help me to always give 100% at work...12% on Monday, 23% on Tuesday, 40% on Wednesday, 20% on Thursday, 5% on Fridays.

And help me to remember...when I'm having a bad day, and it seems that people are trying to piss me off, that it takes 42 muscles to frown and only 4 to extend my middle finger and tell them to bite me."

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Tickling the funnybone

When the weather stinks, I'm particularly grateful for jokes; I pass this one along as a tribute to my Norwegian grandparents -

Norse Firefighters

The alarm went out to all the fire departments from miles around.

When the volunteer fire fighters appeared on the scene, the chemical company president rushed to the fire chief and said, "All of our secret formulas are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved. I will give $50,000 to the fire department that brings them out intact."

But the roaring flames held the firefighters off.

Soon more fire departments had to be called in as the situation became desperate.

As the firemen arrived, the president shouted out that the offer was now $100,000 to the fire department who could bring out the company's secret files.

From the distance, a lone siren was heard as another fire truck came into sight. It was the nearby Norwegian rural township volunteer fire company composed mainly of Norwegians over the age of 65.

To everyone's amazement, the little run-down fire engine, operated by these Norwegians, passed all the newer sleek engines parked outside the plant.....and drove straight into the middle of the inferno.

Outside the other firemen watched as the Norwegian old timers jumped off and began to fight the fire with a performance and effort never seen before.

Within a short time, the Norske old timers had extinguished the fire and saved the secret formulas.

The grateful chemical company president joyfully announced that for such a superhuman feat he was upping the reward to $200,000, and walked over to personally thank each of the brave, though elderly, Norske fire fighters.

The local TV news reporters rushed in after capturing the event on film asking, "What are you going to do with all that money?"

"Vell," said Ole Olsen, the 70-year-old fire chief, "da furst thing ve gonna do is fix da brakes on dat damned truck!"

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Sunday, January 25, 2004

Definitely not pork

First, the bad news.

Via American Footprint (permalinks not working; scroll down if necessary) - the world's population is estimated to hit 6.4 billion human beings this Tuesday.

Most of the population explosion is in Third World countries; the post includes a map that illustrates the problem quite well - especially in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are particularly troubling.

The hopeful news is from UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, from which the Bush administration withheld the promised $34 million funding due to right wing fundamentalist influence.

(UNFPA's statement from July 22, 2002, on U.S. funding decision here).

However, Congress has now approved the funds for UNFPA - part of the 2004 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.
" 23 January 2004 - UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, today welcomed United States lawmaker's decision to appropriate $34 million for the Fund for fiscal year 2004, and urged the Administration not to withhold the money.

Members of the United States House of Representatives and Senate approved the funds for UNFPA as part of the 2004 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill which was included in the $373 billion Omnibus Spending bill.

"This critical funding will help save women's lives around the world, through the provision of voluntary family planning and reproductive health care," said UNFPA's Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, thanking Congress for its support. UNFPA estimates that $34 million applied to family planning programmes could prevent some 800,000 abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths and 77,000 infant and child deaths annually worldwide.

For the past two years, the United States Administration has withheld funds appropriated for UNFPA, claiming that the Fund provides indirect support to a programme of coercive abortion in China. UNFPA and several independent monitors have refuted the claims. The Fund does not support abortion and does not participate in or facilitate coercive activities in China or anywhere else in the world."
Up yours, George Bush! Gawd, I hope this paltry $34 million dollars doesn't get Bushwhacked somehow. UNFPA has done and is doing more for human rights than George Bush can even imagine, and certainly a lot more than the administration has ever done for women's health.

The grassroots movement - "34 Million Friends of UNFPA" appealed for support - just one dollar was all they asked. I sent $25, and if you have an extra dollar lying around, send it to them. Now.

As of Jan. 14, 2004, contributions stand at $1,835, 637.57. A sample of the mail received -
""Please add our donation to the 34 Million Friends Campaign, I am sending a dollar each for my husband, myself, my daughter & our unborn child-who, by grace and good fortune, will receive prenatal care. If only all women had such options..."
By providing health care, family planning information, and empowering women, UNFPA is an invaluable resource for dealing with the world's exploding population.
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Another obnoxious pest sighting

Via Atrios



Some nightmares never fade. Now he's trying to scam retired Texas teachers.
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More blogging-about

Picking up where I left off yesterday, and typing furiously as the snow falls, ice accumulates, and power lines sag -

Rivka at Respectful of Otters continues an important discussion of end-of-life pain management and euthanasia. As I commented over there, my father's death was peaceful, pain-free, in his own home, and surrounded by his loved ones - thanks to the angels at Hospice. We should all be so lucky.

Sooner Thought discusses the disturbing population decline in the Great Plains

Steve Bates - who knows this stuff for a living - reassures me regarding on-line shopping at trusted sites, but offers an extremely coherent explanation of the internet voting fiasco-in-the-making.

Steve Gilliard is very seriously ill - please stop by to send him your good thoughts.

Stradiotto, bursts through the bonds of his own illness with some great links and funny pictures.

The Fulcrum posts on the recent backlash to the No Child Left Behind Act in Virginia House of Delegates - a developing trend around the country.

Check out The Gamer's Nook - if you have a stereotyped picture of "Da Bronx" in your mind, his lovely photos taken from his own neighborhood will change your mind.

I can't link to a specific post at Jesse's Gotham City 13 - there are too many and they're all good, all the time. Check out the contrasting "then and now" interviews with Charles Duelfer, Bush's new WMD man in Iraq.

Congratulations to Trish Wilson, who was nominated for a "Best New Blog" by the Koufax Awards.

Wanda at Words On A Page gets my vote for best "best blog line" of the week in her post "and so it begins". See if you can spot it.

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Saturday, January 24, 2004

Update on Our Man Drudge
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A beautiful day in the neighborhood

It's been a typical winter day here in North Carolina....sunny, high of 60 degrees - and under a winter storm warning for tomorrow.

Two to four inches of snow predicted for tomorrow is a yawner, but the freezing rain that is predicted afterwards will open your eyes. It's amazing how just a quarter inch of ice can bring down a huge tree, which can bring down power lines.

Which means the possibility of no electricity. I must not have inherited any of my pioneer ancestor's genes, as I'm reduced to a whining, helpless puddle of despair when there's no "juice".

With the prospect of power outtage, I'd better do my neighborly duty and attempt a blog-about of the Liberal Coalition...

If you haven't been following Scout's on-the-ground reports from New Hampshire, you should be. It's the next best thing to being there yourself, and certainly a lot more vivid than what you see on the tube.

Bark Bark Woof Woof fishes out commentary from a very conservative newspaper, asking some questions that SHOULD have been asked in 2000.

More worthy reads -

BlogAmY on freedom from religion

Add your thoughts to the Corrente Index

NTodd, currently blogging from O'Hare airport, should be home later tonight.

Echidne of the Snakes hones in on some notable quotes from Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, and the Pope.

edwardpig does a great job detailing the story of Katherine Gun, something our own U.S. of A. media seems somewhat reluctant to do.

More to come tomorrow - or whenever the electricity allows. Geez, that sounds like something Riverbend would say. Compared to her problems, I'm in clover - with or without electricity.
"My head has been spinning these last few days with decision No. 173 on changing Family Law to Shari'a. I've been darkly mulling over the endless possibilities. I'm not the only one- everyone I talk to is shaking their head in dismay. How is this happening? How are we caving in to fundamentalism?"

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Another pest pokes his head out of federal prison

If South Dakota's ex-governor and congressman William J. Janklow can get away with 100 days in jail for felony manslaughter and three related misdemeanors, I suppose it's no surprise that David Duke is considering a run for congress - once he is released from federal prison.

It won't be the first time a convicted felon ran for office - James Traficant being a notable example.

It may, however, be the first time a candidate runs his campaign from a halfway house.

I'm sure he'll find some suckers amongst the law-and-order, state's rights crowd to put up some money. And even dig up some votes.

But I'd say he's off to a rocky start -
"Duke, whose telephone privileges are limited, could not be reached for comment."

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Memo? What memo?

(Pssst....Matt.....Rove says no bringgee upee Bush service record)

FLASHBACK: KERRY ALLUDED TO BUSH AS DESERTER

FLASHBACK: Kerry in 2000 claimed it is a matter of character that Bush avoided duty oversees by joining the Texas Air National Guard. No documents have been found to show he reported for duty as ordered in Alabama in 1972... 'Those of us who were in the military wonder how it is that someone who is supposedly serving on active duty, having taken that oath, can miss a whole year of service without even explaining where it went,' said Kerry... Developing... "

And will someone tell poor Matt the hat doesn't make him look like a journalist?

(Update) -

Dear Honorable Your Highness and Most Forgiving Majesty Karl Rove,

I have received instructions and removed the disgusting, lying, objectionable material from my website.

Please don't kill me.

Yours sincerely and truly forever and always your slave,

Matt Drudge

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My southern hospitality is slipping

I apologize for my lack of neighborly manners, and issue a belated "welcome" to archy as a new member of the Liberal Coaltion.

His tribute to Bob Keeshan, my childhood buddy, is much better than anything I could do. Rest ye well, Captain.


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Education slip-slidin' away

The Washington-based Computer Systems Policy Project, whose member companies include Intel, IBM, Dell Inc and Hewlett-Packard, have sounded the warning -
""There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore," said Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. "We have to compete for jobs."

Intel CEO Craig Barrett said the United States "now has to compete for every job going forward. That has not been on the table before. It had been assumed we had a lock on white-collar jobs and hi-tech jobs. That is no longer the case."

The technology group argued in its new report that moving jobs to countries such as China or India -- where labor costs are cheaper -- helps companies more readily break into foreign markets and hire skilled and creative employees in countries where students perform far better than US students in math and science."

"Americans who think that foreign workers are no match for US workers in knowledge, skills and creativity are mistaken," the trade group's report said."
Furthermore, NASA is seriously concerned -
"On July 18, the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee investigated concerns that, in the future, NASA will not have the S&T workforce it needs to fulfill its mission. U.S. Comptroller General David Walker testified that NASA "is finding it particularly difficult to hire people with engineering, science, and information technology skills." Within five years, he stated, about a quarter of NASA's scientists and engineers will be eligible for retirement, while "the pipeline of people with science and engineering skills is shrinking."
In light of these warnings, you'd think the Advanced Math and Science Academy of Marlborough, Mass. would be a welcome addition to the community and a bright sign of hope for children's futures.

As an enthusiastic supporter of the public school system, I have serious questions regarding "charter schools". But I would have enrolled my child in this one faster than you can say "Advanced Math and Science Academy".

Perhaps someone from the area can enlighten me, but the main objection to establishing the school seems to be a matter of "patriotism".

The founders of the school Michael and Julia Sigalovsky, are Russian immigrants. The Soviet system failed in many ways, but it gave them a "a titanium-strength foundation in math and physics".
"Sigalovsky's concept is founded on some basic principals: that children should, and can, grasp theoretical knowledge before learning examples. That schools should teach physics, chemistry, algebra, geometry, and biology not just once in four years, but every year. That history should not be divided by country, but should survey the modern world. That literature should parallel the history courses and should focus on periods and movements instead of countries. That geography is not tangential, but an integral part of understanding world history.

Specialists in their fields would be recruited to teach. There would be some drilling, a famous aspect of Soviet education. A child would have to be enrolled by seventh grade. "If by the age of 13 they don't have the habits, the hard work, and logical thinking, it's too late," Sigalovsky said. She says they will accommodate special education needs, but if a child cannot keep up, he will not advance."
But the Sigalovskys comprehensive vision of education didn't reckon with good old American "patriotism".
"Critics have distributed fliers accusing outsiders of denigrating their schools by saying an American education is inferior to that of Russia, China, and Germany. At a forum last week, assistant superintendent John Petrin demanded to know, "Where's this proposal coming from? Where is the need? It's coming from the outside."

Audience members said Sigalovsky's school would be based on a model that is as discredited and obsolete as Communism. "She talked about Germany, how they teach in . . . China and Japan. I don't want my kids educated like Germans," said Tom Leveillee, 77, a retiree and World War II veteran.

By meeting's end, Sandra Witkos, an academy supporter, was furious. "They may have well said `Commies!' " said the Marlborough mother of three.

Sigalovsky's friend and future curriculum developer, Anna Charny, said the last time she experienced this sort of treatment was as a refusnik, a Soviet citizen who was barred from emigrating. She was also barred from studying at Moscow universities.

"This whole thing, telling us `these Eastern Europeans' is so reminiscent of what we fled," said Charny, a Cisco Systems computer scientist who received her doctorate from MIT. "There we were called `you Jews!' This is so disappointing."
Charny's disappointment is nothing compared to the disappointment the kids will get when they find their education hasn't been adequate for the best jobs.

The No Child Left Behind Act particularly endangers those students who are on the lower level of achievement . The tragedy is doubled if xenophobic "patriots" prevent the brightest and best from getting the education they deserve.

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Friday, January 23, 2004

They oughta known better

The conservative American Family Association (AFA) said it will not take the results of its marriage poll to Capitol Hill after a majority of respondents favored same-sex marriage, according to a Thursday report in Wired News. (more)

Perhaps these folks should get the Senate Republican Conference to show them how to rig internet polls.
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Adventures in Looneyville

Thanks to the farmer for the link to The Freeway Blogger's "Fun With Hate Radio". It's been a long day, and I needed those laughs!
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Thought For The Day
For the pro-war, gun-nut, abstinence-only crowd

The Immaculate Conception, Modern Version

"Doctor was surprised to see that test for pregnancy of a virgin was positive!
In November 1999, Leslie Corbide, a nurse of the UN contingent in Bosnia gave birth to a girl weighing 2.5 kilogram. As it turned out, the baby came to the world thanks to a bullet!"

(more)

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O'Reilly endorses universal health care

While surfing around my bookmarked "Crackpots" websites, I came upon Bill O'Reilly huffing and puffing on the subject of health care, and demonstrating everything I believe is wrong, wrong, wrong with the conservative position on the subject, but with a surprising twist.

The last time anyone tried to make any meaningful reform to our broken, bloated, torturous system, the health insurance industry spent $10 million on 1993's "Harry and Louise" commercial (psst - that's YOUR health insurance premium money) - blatantly distorting the issue and scaring people with the evils of "socialist" medicine.

Not that Hillary Clinton's proposed health care plan was perfect - far from it. But at least it was an attempt to control the monster.

Personally, I prefer a universal health care system; something along the Canadian model; not perfect, either, but it certainly comes closer to providing health care to the citizenry than our "pay through the nose" mess.

I believe health care IS a basic right of every human being, and I believe the health of not only my family, but my neighbor and my fellow citizens on the other side of the world is just as important as my own.

So, let's see what O'Reilly thinks - (from O'REILLY OPINES (1/22/04))
THE FOUNDING FATHERS DIDN'T ENVISION NATIONAL HEALTH CARE: "The Founding Fathers didn't believe in universal health care. You know what the health care plan was in 1776? You got a gun. It was: here's your gun, and if the bear comes at you, shoot it! There was no "birth right" to universal health care.
I suspect O'Reilly was trying to make a cute joke with the gun and bear, which has nothing to do with actual health care; getting attacked by a bear is generally a matter for the undertaker, not the doctor. So I'll just mention that it's a pretty lame joke and stupid to boot.

Since Mr. O'Reilly is apparently woefully ignorant on the 1776 Founding Fathers Health Care Plan - let me help him out.

My mother grew up in the remote hills of Tennessee during the Depression years, far away from any hospitals or doctors. Her "health care" was the same as that in 1776 - when you got sick, your body either healed itself or you died.

There were some herbal and folk remedies - some useful, some useless - but that was IT. Get well or die.

The Founding Fathers had better access to the health care of the day than my mother in her youth, as they also happened to be wealthy and either lived in the cities or had their own private physician.

They also had no electricity, no water purification plants, and little clue as to basic sanitation measures. They didn't see fit to include anything in the Constitution regarding many of our modern problems, and they obviously weren't experts on the subject of health care.
ANYONE CAN SUCCEED IN AMERICA:"Most people make decisions in their lives NOT to succeed. Everyone in this country can decide to succeed if they work hard and get educated..."
I'm not sure why this statement is included in his remarks about health care, but I included it just for fun. Apparently Mr. O'Reilly hasn't noticed that American jobs have been disappearing at an alarming rate, and all those children left behind by "No Child Left Behind" are not only uneducated but have no jobs available to them - and therefore no access to health care insurance.

I suppose the point is - if you work hard and get educated you can make enough money to pay for the health insurance industry to produce "Harry and Louise" commercials, build palatial office buildings, and give their executives fat bonuses.
UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE IS NOT A RIGHT: "Universal health care is not a right. That's insane. The government cannot run health care for 300 million people. It's wrong to say that YOU have to pick up the tab for everyone else's health care - like drug addicts and deadbeats. That's just wrong.... The government has a responsibility to OVERSEE health care. But OVERSIGHT does not mean you just GIVE people health care. There's a big difference."
Why isn't it a right? Because the health insurance industry says so?

I seem to remember something about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - all attributes which are hard to achieve if one is sick; not to mention that hard working people can't work very hard if they're ill.

Universal health care is not about giving away health care, Mr. O'Reilly - you still pay for it. But you pay for it just as you do now, with a percentage of your paycheck. That money goes to a federal agency, which distributes it to the state agencies, which in turn decide where the money is needed most. It does NOT go to palatial office buildings, fat bonuses for the executives, or "Harry and Louise" commercials.
FREE FEDERAL CLINICS CAN WORK: "My solution is this: Create free federal health clinics in most counties in the country, staff them with employees whose medICAL school tuitions are paid for by the government. You'll get more and better doctors; more citizens will be able to enjoy free and basic medical care. That's a real solution. But socializing medicine, like these candidates want to do - it just won't work."
Breathtaking.

Let me get this straight - free clinics, medical school tuitions paid by the federal government, and free basic medical care.

Bill, dear - all this "free" stuff has to be paid for somehow.

How about this - quoting myself shamelessly - " ....a percentage of your paycheck. That money goes to an federal agency, which distributes it to the state agencies, which in turn decide where the money is needed most."

As O'Reilly points out - that's "a real solution".

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Lookee here!

Hurray! After merciless bugging and shameless begging, frequent commenter and guest poster Tarheel_Scott has begun his own blog - beastofsound !!!

(Note - to be clear, I should add it was myself and several other bloggers who have done the bugging, not the other way around)

Please join me in welcoming Scott to Blogtopia, and add him to your daily reading list. And Scott - don't forget to stop by Collective Sigh with your thoughtful and witty comments!
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Thursday, January 22, 2004

Andante has landed

I have landed back home from Inside-The-Beltway-Land, and am sending out signals; which is more than we can say at present for poor "Spirit" on the Great State of Mars.

With my tinfoil hat firmly in place, I'm thinking "conspiracy". The Olde Europe "Beagle"- playing dead and lying in wait behind a rock - suddenly jumped out and bushwhacked Spirit. Here's hoping Spirit can make a recovery and will phone home soon.

I didn't listen to the State of the Union address, opting instead to read a beautiful, "coffee-table book" about ancient Egypt. From what I later read & heard, the speech could be summed up in five words - "Terror To The Twentieth Power", or something like that. Who would've thought? Good thing I wasn't playing the SOTU Drinking Game - I would still be hung over.

That's about the most profound thing I can say at the moment....my mind is still "travel fogged", and my fingers still ache from clenching the steering wheel as two suicidal tractor trailers try to make a sandwich out of me while travelling 75 mph. Yelling at them doesn't help a bit.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Thought for the road

A parting thought before I head down the road for a few days (back Thursday).

Those of us who blog, and those who read blogs, are (generally) the activist voters. We look at position papers, we watch debates and interviews intently, we listen to stump speeches, we compare and contrast. We make primary predictions and we screw up royally.

In my three-vote household, there is me - the "activist", my husband who has just now begun to pay attention to Democratic politics, and my daughter who is more interested in the Oscars and Grammys. All three of us would vote for the proverbial ham sandwich before voting for Bush.

Yesterday morning, a talking head was blathering on and on about something, while at the bottom of the TV screen were two video clips of Dean and Edwards on the stump.

My daughter walked through the room, glanced at the TV, and said, "Dean always looks mad. Edwards smiles".

Blame it on the media, if you wish - they DO tend to show clips of Dean when he's "worked up".

Think "Morning In America" - American voters respond to a positive image and message.

Later in the evening, the candidates spoke to their supporters. My husband listened intently and approvingly to Edwards, but his expression changed to dumbstruck distaste when Dean went into his vigorous "we will not quit now or ever" speech.

All the national polls show that the electorate isn't paying much attention to politics as yet. Eventually, a good portion of them will do so.

Like it or not, image is important, and though this household is angry at the Republican administration, two out of three are not happy with what they've seen of Gov. Dean.

Yes, there's a long way to go until November. And yes - they will vote for him, should he be the eventual nominee. But if they had to cast a primary vote right now, it wouldn't be for Howard Dean.

From what other non-activist type Democrats have told me, this isn't an atypical response. Activating the base is one thing; wooing the broader spectrum is a whole new ballgame. If the initial reactions are negative, it's an uphill battle.

Judging from reactions in this household, Dean has a lot of wooing ahead of him. Distasteful as it is for the "activist",a positive image does make a difference.

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Monday, January 19, 2004

Michael Miller's Public Domain Progress is always chock-full of great links and good commentary. Special thanks to Michael for the pointer to "The Logic of Withdrawal", by Howard Zinn. It blew me away.

I'm still of the "we broke it, we should fix it" mind, but my God - think of all the good, decent things we could do without having to constantly stoke up the military industrial complex to satisfy the power-hungry.


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Over the river and through the woods

.....to grandmother's house, etc., for a belated family Christmas. Only it will be to my sister's house, where my mother lives part of the time, in Virginia-Inside-The-Beltway. Which is an entirely different animal from the rest of the state.

I'll leave tomorrow, and return some time on Thursday; which probably means no blogging until Friday.

I always look forward to the drive up the backbone of Virginia - I wouldn't touch interstate 95 with a ten foot pole, and travel route 29 instead. It adds an hour to the trip, but I get less traffic, the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, great little mom-and-pop diners, and glorious Virginia "horse country". Life is too short to worry about an hour less of dangerous traffic, a string of Stuckey's, and endless "blah" landscape.

***

Thoughts for the day -

Spare a little pity for poor Rush Limbaugh -
"And as everybody knows, we all have dreams and desires and we all want to do new things, and it was one of my long-held desires to go into NFL media-wise. And one of the reasons why is because as a consumer, when I would sit around and watch the Fox pregame show with those guys or the ESPN pregame show or whatever, it looked like everybody was part of a fraternity, having fun, it just looked like something that would be cool to be part of, and I love the game anyway, and it finally hit on me last night that what has really disappointed me the most is that I wasted a bunch of time respecting a lot of people."
So I've been thinking; I sit around and watch ACC basketball, and it looks like everybody is part of a fraternity, having fun, it just looks like something that would be cool to be part of, and I love the game anyway, and even though I'm totally out of shape and uncoordinated, I have at least twice as much basketball talent as Rush has common sense, so it looks like something that would be cool to be part of.

So I will present myself, gift-wrapped, to Coach Williams at the soonest opportunity. And I'll keep my mouth shut.

***

The Iowa caucus is today, and it will certainly be fascinating to see how the whole thing unfolds. We watched some of C-SPAN's excellent coverage yesterday, and I thought it was particularly interesting to watch the candidate's one-on-one reaction with supporters.

What's even more interesting is how a candidate interacts with an opposer (I think I made that word up, but you know what I mean).

I worked on the Harvey Gantt senatorial campaign some years ago, and witnessed a fascinating interchange between Mr. Gantt and a "ringer". Gantt dropped in briefly to our local Democratic headquarters to say "thanks", and was immediately confronted by an ardent Jesse Helms supporter, right in his face.

He gave the lady his full attention, let her run out of steam on her own accord, and then demolished her arguments point-by-point - calmly, quietly, and respectfully. He didn't make a convert....but the entire exchange invigorated his supporters and redoubled our respect for him.

***

One person who is a bit confused by the Iowa caucus and also doesn't trust the polls is Instapundit, who wonders why Wesley Clark is only pulling 2% in the Iowa polls. Not too shabby for a candidate that hasn't even campaigned in the state. Pretty shabby for a guy that bills himself as "instapundit".

***

Dr. Judy Steinberg made an appearance on her husband's behalf, looking quite human, well-groomed, and happy. My condolences to Maureen Dowd, though I'm sure we'll get a complete blow-by-blow fashion & marriage psychology report soon.

***

The Iraqi people took one look at the Iowa caucus system, and over 100,000 of them turned out in Baghdad to demand direct elections.

***

If you still haven't decided how to deal with Tuesday's ordeal-by-SOTU, I've found the solution. Melanie advises turning off the TV and radio - "Give the Nielsen conglomerate a reason to give this media event an "F"."

Besides, you can get a pretty good gist of the whole thing by reading South Knox Bubba's version.

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Sunday, January 18, 2004

The sky is falling!

One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of Chicken Little to her class. She came to the part of the story where Chicken Little tried to warn the farmer.

She read, ".... and so Chicken Little went up to the farmer and said, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"

The teacher paused then asked the class, "And what do you think that farmer said?"

One little girl raised her hand and said, "I think he said: 'Holy shit! A talking chicken!'" The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes.

***

So, let's substitute "Chicken Little" with "Sane, Sensible People", switch "The Farmer" with "The Bush Administration" - and the joke isn't cute anymore.

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Swingers Wanted

I can't wait to see the search strings this post coughs up from Google, Yahoo, etc.

But it's actually an interesting commentary in The Globe and Mail, listing the various categories of "swing" voters identified by pollsters.

As a registered "unaffiliated" voter, I'm not sure where I'd be pigeon-holed. In fact, I share some of the qualities from each category, except the "F-You Boys", and I'm very happy NOT to be associated with that group. It's bad enough having to live surrounded by them.
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Saturday, January 17, 2004

Ain't no bias on me

The L.A. Times (free registration required) reports Vice President Dick Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia "spent part of last week duck hunting together at a private camp in southern Louisiana, just three weeks after the court agreed to take up the vice president's appeal in lawsuits over his handling of the administration's energy task force."

When questions arose regarding the legal ethics involved, and the resulting doubts about Scalia's ability to give an unbiased decision , Scalia said - "I do not think my impartiality could reasonably be questioned".

Is that anything like Attorney General Ashcroft's initial refusal to recuse himself from the Plame investigation?

I think I'll demand the right to give my husband his next job review, and grade my daughter's next exam.

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Words On A Page

Join me in extending a hearty welcome to Wanda at "Words On A Page", the newest member of the Liberal Coaltion!
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Taking a page from the Drudge play book

South Knox Bubba reads a column by conservative Knoxville columnist Frank Cagle and pulls out an endorsement for Wesley Clark.

For example:
CAGLE - "It appears that most Democrats that have to run for election in Tennessee have jumped to endorse retired Gen. Wesley Clark.

It is not so much that they love Clark as it is a replay of Gore's first Senate race."

(snip)

"Clark is a military guy, and he's from Arkansas. He so lacks definition that about all anyone in Tennessee knows about him is that television commercial that says he was a hero in Vietnam and NATO commander."

South Knox Bubba - " ...have ... to endorse retired Gen. Wesley Clark. ... love Clark... Clark ... was a hero in Vietnam and NATO commander."
Hmmm, where have we seen that type of reporting before?!

Way to go, SKB!

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In defense of National Public Radio

(guest poster Tarheel_Scott discusses the perception of NPR as “liberal” radio”)

If I had to choose between TV and radio, the tube would lose every time. And National Public Radio affiliates are my stations of choice.

When NPR was founded in 1970, it became convenient for conservatives to associate it with the liberal political movements of that era. At one time NPR received the majority of its funding from the government, but during the Reagan/Bush years, conservative forces in Congress forced withdrawal of nearly all of NPR's government underwriting; raising the possibility of causing NPR (and public radio in general) going off the air.

To the surprise of many, public support did rise to compensate, though one of my two favorite public radio stations WNYC (the other being WFMU) resorted to selling their TV station in order to wean itself from both federal and city funding (they had to buy their transmitter from the city) in the early '90s.

NPR offers numerous talk and entertainment programs. Some of their names have reached mainstream audiences either prior to, or after joining NPR: Cokey Roberts, Garrison Keillor, Daniel Schorr, Carl Kasell, Juan Williams, Scott Simon, and Maria Hinajosa come quickly to mind. Daniel Schorr is famous for having turned up on Nixon's "Enemies List" for his Watergate reporting while working for CBS.

NPR news has never been 100% factually accurate - name a news organization that is! But I believe they sincerely make every effort to acknowledge and correct mistaken reporting. Each one of their news programs includes a "Letters from Listeners" segment. Praiseworthy letters are read without smugness and critical ones are read without excuses. Since when has that happened on the O'Reilly Factor, Rush Limbaugh or CBN?

Ultimately, I believe conservatives despise NPR because none of their programming beats the drum for conservative ideology. Let's face it - deep down, conservatives want someone to tell them what to think, and they want to tell you what to think. It's neo-Puritanism. Or Evangelical Fascism. Anything that leaves open the possibility for new ways of thinking is dangerous, and therefore liberal. Hence the rise of American Family Radio.

Father Coughlin would be proud.

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Seven Deadly sins

It's been pointed out in many places that George Bush memorialized Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2003 with a fierce attack on affirmative action.

In 2004, Bush eulogized King by a recess appointment of Judge Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals - a judge criticized for frequently seeking to undermine the Voting Rights Act and defending bigotry.

After laying a wreath at the M.L. King's tomb, Bush added another "tribute"; an appearance at an Atlanta fundraiser. According to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution -
"Bush made no public reference to King either to the King Center protesters or later to political boosters at the fund-raiser."

(snip)

"The GWCC event raised $1.3 million, said organizer Jaime Reynolds. To have a picture taken with Bush at the fund-raiser, a Republican had to prove he'd raised $20,000 for the campaign."
Which brings us to the Seven Deadly Sins.

The life and message of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. closely mirrors that of another great non-violent champion of the weak and oppressed, who shook the world and brought down an empire - Mahatma Gandhi.

Speaking of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. said -
""Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable.

He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony.

We may ignore Gandhi at our own risk."
The man we ignore at our own risk made up his own list of seven deadly sins -
1) wealth without work
2) pleasure without conscience
3) science without humanity
4) knowledge without character
5) politics without principle
6) commerce without morality
7) worship without sacrifice
On Thursday, President Bush laid a wreath at the tomb of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., spiritual brother of the great Gandhi, to mark what would have been the civil rights leader's 75th birthday.

How sad.

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Republicans for Dean?

It's not odd these days to stumble across conservative opinion lamenting the explosion in federal spending, the expansion of the federal government, or controversial and/or expensive Bush proposals.

All reveal a deep dismay with George Bush and fire warning shots at the administration. But they stop short of advising conservative voters to stay at home on election day, or cast their vote elsewhere.

Except Radley Balko, writing on Straight Talk at the Fox website.

Balko's advice to conservatives - "Vote Dean, Light GOP Fire".

In commentary that alternately fascinates and repels, Balko advises -
"The only way to get Republicans to truly fight for the low-tax, reduced-spending principles they traditionally espouse is to give them an opponent in the White House to fight against."
The GOP has always depended on a bogeyman to energize it's base - communists! - quotas! - gays! - Clinton!. Not to mention the - femi-nazi! - Hillary! bogeywomen.

Given the Congress will likely remain in Republican hands in 2004 - and possibly for some time to come - what better way to energize Republican legislators than a demon in the White House?

Why Dean?
"More than a year into the primary campaign, it’s clear now that of the nine candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, Howard Dean seems to irritate Republicans most.

He’s been the subject of the most press releases from the Republican National Committee, and attacks on him have popped up in conservative publications like the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, National Review and the Weekly Standard.

The mere mention of his name spikes Rush Limbaugh’s blood pressure. His supporters seem to be the very kind of youngish, hipster, anti-war, Volvo-driving types that send red-tied GOPers into a tizzy."
Balko longs for the good old days of the 1990's, when Republicans could band together against That Man in the White House, wielding anger and spite to appear conservatively principled.
"It’s pretty clear now that the GOP of the 1990s acted not out of principle, but out of spite. It’s no secret that the Republican leadership in Congress despised President Clinton.

Republicans in fact shut the government down in lieu of capitulating to President Clinton’s policies. They simply didn’t want to give President Clinton any political victories.

In contrast, the Congress has been so kind to President Bush, he may become the first American president since James Buchanan to go an entire term without using the veto."
The Republicans who view George Bush as God's annointed will hardly be convinced, nor will the power-at-all-cost neo-conservatives. True conservatives, however, might give the idea at least a passing thought.

There is no doubt the GOP will paint the eventual Democratic nominee as the anti-Christ. And given the polarized electorate, it may be far-fetched to hope for a Democratic nominee with the coat-tails to bring more Democratic congress-persons to Washington with him.

A Democratic president without a 14 karat Teflon coating and no support from Congress doesn't bode well for a progressive agenda or for the American people. Howard Dean may yet be the man; he did a better-than-average job of consensus-building in Vermont. But only time will tell if it translates to the national stage.

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TTLB Vote

From The Truth Laid Bear's New Webblog Showcase:
American Amnesia: Insurgency in Iraq - an assessment.
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Friday, January 16, 2004

Wish I'd said that

Top ten reasons why Bush wants to go to Mars
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Is your pet psychic?

Remember that CNN commercial - a couple of bouncy, cheerful morning anchor-persons saying something like "important international news....but first - is your pet psychic?"

The point being you can get real news on CNN, but let a celebrity get in legal trouble, and it becomes prophetic. Or pathetic.

Of course, Wolf Blitzers big lead-off story on "Wolf Blitzer Reports" 5 pm (eastern) - "Jackson pleads not guily to molestation charges; Circus-like atmosphere surrounds hearing; gag order imposed", complete with legal analysis, yada-yada. Ten minutes of it.

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North American media

If you're looking for a good listing of major North American news websites.... where else would you look but to an overseas site?

U.K. Guardian has it.

The Guardian also has a good round-up of opinion on the Bush space proposal - 'Bush has promised the moon'


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Giving aid to the opposition

The good news - Tom Burka (Opinions You Should Have) is now contributing to American Street.

The bad news - I hope the GOP doesn't take him up on his latest idea - GOP To Reshuffle Swing States; Plan To Redistrict America
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Bits 'n' Pieces

Heavy, heavy work load today, which means little and possibly no blogging for a while. Life happens, and it's sure happening today.

But I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the Real President of the United States hit another home run yesterday in New York -
"I have noticed a troubling pattern that characterizes the Bush-Cheney administration's approach to almost all issues. In almost every policy area, the administration's consistent goal has been to eliminate any constraints on their exercise of raw power, whether by law, regulation, alliance or treaty. And in the process, they have in each case caused America to be seen by the other nations of the world as showing disdain for the international community."
A Gore presidency would probably not have stopped the attacks of 9/11 or the slumping economy.

But I am absolutely, morally certain it all would have been handled very, very differently. At the very least, we would still have the good will and support of our friends and allies around the world.

***

Haven't had a chance to read carefully - so I may be letting myself in for a surprise - but my eye was drawn to the WaPo's Jonathan Weisman piece - "Recovery Trickles Down Very Slowly; Finances Improve for People Who Already Have Jobs and Money".

That's another thing I believe President Gore would have addressed with a vigorous, viable jobs program.

Can I get an "amen" and a collective sigh from the congregation?

***

On the other hand, there are jobs available in Iraq, if $2 a day appeals to you -
"The CPA's own job-creation program, which went into effect in the autumn and was touted to have created 70,000 jobs, amounted to little more than $2 a day for cleaning up trash on streets across the country. In some areas, the budget for the program could not be spent because people refused to take what they saw as humiliating work."
***

And finally, as promised, some Shock & Awe Friday Cat Blogging. Off to the salt mines I go....




Trixie and Flossie relax in the backyard, showing off the latest in swimwear fashion, while a pink flamingo casts a lascivious eye.

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Thursday, January 15, 2004

Bet he's not invited back

Despite his his strong backing of the Bush war, Spainish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar probably shouldn't count on any more invitations to the White House.
"The combination of being a Republican, of being an emperor, a Texan and outspoken is really a bad mix," Aznar, one of Bush's staunchest allies on Iraq and other issues, said in an interview Wednesday in The Washington Post.

"To be politically correct in Europe, people cannot digest the mix that is George Bush as I have described him. They are allergic to that," Aznar said.

The prime minister said he had kidded Bush about his image in Europe, telling him he outdid former President Reagan in unpopularity. Bush replied, "That's not going to change me or my policy."
No word yet on whether or not Bush pronounced the Spanish Prime Minister's name correctly this time.

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Happy Actual Martin Luther King Birthday

You can celebrate on Monday, too, of course, but one of the best ways to celebrate is by remembering and contrasting.

Go to "Intelligence Squad Reports" and scroll down to "King for a day".
"The Secret Service, in typical hyperactive mode, had requested the organizers of a day-long celebration of King’s legacy at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is across the street, to cut their celebration short and clear out so that Mr. Bush could have his photo op at the gravesite. After the organizers at the church basically told him to take a hike, the request was withdrawn."
M.L.King must indeed be rolling in his grave.

Update: Account in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution -
"Police had said they planned to keep the protestors 500 feet away from Kings crypt but the protesters, teeming just across Auburn Avenue, were much closer and could see the president as he placed the wreath."
That must be a protest proximity record. Good job, Atlanta.


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The Annual SOTU Indulgence Game

I don't know about you, but I have big plans for the evening of January 20th, 9 p.m. eastern time.

TNT will be re-running my favorite Law & Order episode - the one where "the detectives suspect a comatose woman's husband tried either to commit a mercy killing or to kill her for her money."

And there are some college basketball games on ESPN you can flip to during commercials. Life is good.

But if the cable fails, there's always the State of the Union speech for entertainment. You can even get a handy countdown clock here.

I'm planning to pop a batch of popcorn, kick back in the recliner, and play the Annual State of the Union Indulgence Game.

Being 100% Liberal Quaker and 98% Neo-Pagan, my neo-pagan side chooses "drinking" for my indulgence.

Feel free to substitute your own; the last time I checked, this is still a free country. Sort of.

One belt of booze each time you hear -

9/11
terrorists
war on terror
American values
ownership
Mars
undocumented worker(s)
tax relief
compassion
promote and marriage in the same sentence
strength/stengthening/strengthen/strong/stronger, etc.
any standing ovation

Two drinks every time the president introduces somebody sitting next to (or in the near vicinity of) The First Lady

The whole bottle/six pack if you hear "Osama bin Laden"

Further suggestions welcome. With enough "drinking points", we might even think the post-speech analysis sounds fair and balanced.

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Best "Clue" Blog-Quote of the day

Who killed Kyoto?

Suskind says it was Cheney, in the White House, with the phone call.

Way to go, Praktike!
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What could possibly be sillier than Maureen Dowd?

Maybe just the fact that she's paid to write mindless drivel.

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When you care enough to send the very best

Steve Bell's take on Bush In Space
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Rover triumphs again, gets wheels dirty

The Mars Rover triumphs again, performing it's successful rollover onto all six wheels. Congratulations to NASA for superb work.

But since I've dubbed today my official "silly day", I can't help but note the quote from Jet Propulsion Laboratory director Charles Elachi - "'Mars now is our sandbox'.

Which will fit in very nicely with tomorrow's Cat Blogging Day.

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A giggle or two

Scroll way downward for serious stuff, as I've decided to be silly today. Which is generally my preferred state-of-being.

And it will be a good warm-up for Friday Cat Blogging.... if I can ever get the *@&# picture uploaded.

After all, if you read too much about the current state of affairs, you might as well laugh, and I think I read somewhere it burns up more calories than crying.

Faithful buddy and commenter Greg sends some suggestions worthy of a Darwin Award (is there a category for the living?), and I'm sure I've seen some of these characters hanging around the hallowed halls of Congress.

Maybe you've seen the list before, but I hadn't. And as I always say, I may be old and slow, but never too old or slow to enjoy a laugh. Especially when we need one so badly.

WILL THE REAL DUMMY PLEASE STAND UP?

AT&T fired President John Walter after nine months, saying he lacked intellectual leadership. He received a $26 million severance package. Perhaps it's not Walter who's lacking intelligence.

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS:

Police in Oakland, California spent two hours attempting to subdue a gunman who had barricaded himself inside his home. After firing ten tear gas canisters, officers discovered that the man was standing beside them in the police line, shouting, "Please come out and give yourself up."

WHAT WAS PLAN B???

An Illinois man,pretending to have a gun, kidnaped a motorist and forced him to drive to two different automated teller machines, wherein the kidnapper proceeded to withdraw money from his own bank accounts.

THE GETAWAY!

A man walked into a Topeka, Kansas Kwik Stop, and asked for all the money in the cash drawer. Apparently, the take was too small,so he tied up the store clerk and worked the counter himself for three hours until police showed up and grabbed him.

DID I SAY THAT???

Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn't control himself during a lineup.When detectives asked each man in the lineup to repeat the words: "Give me all your money or I'll shoot," the man shouted, "That's not what I said!"

ARE WE COMMUNICATING??

A man spoke frantically into the phone, "My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart!" "Is this her first child?" the doctor asked."No!" the man shouted, "This is her husband!"

NOT THE SHARPEST TOOL IN THE SHED!!

In Modesto, California,Steven Richard King was arrested for trying to hold up a Bank of America branch without a weapon. King used a thumb and a finger to simulate a gun,but unfortunately, he failed to keep his hand in his pocket.(hellllllooooooo!)

THE GRAND FINALE (I LOVE THIS ONE!!)

Last summer, down on Lake Isabella, located in the high desert,an hour east of Bakersfield, California, some folks, new to boating, were having a problem.

No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get their brand new 22 ft boat going. It was very sluggish in almost every maneuver, no matter how much power was applied.

After about an hour of trying to make it go, they putted to a nearby marina, thinking someone there could tell them what was wrong. A thorough topside check revealed everything in perfect working condition.

The engine ran fine, the out drive went up and down, and the propeller was the correct size and pitch. So, one of the marina guys jumped in the water to check underneath.

He came up choking on water, he was laughing so hard.

NOW REMEMBER... THIS IS TRUE ...Under the boat, still strapped securely in place, was the trailer.

Does any one else find it frightening the majority of these took place in California?

(with apologies to common-sense Californians, wherever you are)
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O'Neill's punch line

"... the White House announced that O'Neill was under investigation for abusing classified documents, though he claimed they were not and the White House had eagerly shoveled carefully edited NSC documents to Woodward."
"Quietly, O'Neill and his publisher have prepared an irrefutable response. Soon they will post every one of the 19,000 documents underlying the book on the Internet."
Which will happen first - the website will crash, get hacked, or shut down by The Powers That Be?

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Suicides of U.S. Troops Rising in Iraq
"At least 21 U.S. troops have committed suicide in Iraq, a growing toll that represents one in seven of American "non-hostile" deaths since the war began last March, the Pentagon's top health official said on Wednesday."

(snip)

"The suicide toll is probably higher than 21, he added, because some "pending" non-hostile deaths are being investigated."

(snip)

"A total of 496 U.S. troops have been killed since the war began last March, 343 of them in combat and 153 in non-hostile incidents ranging from accidents to suicide, the Pentagon said."

(snip)

"The 21 suicides represent nearly 14 percent of non-hostile deaths reported by the Pentagon, an increase over the proportion of 11 percent as of three months ago when the suicide number totaled 13."

(snip)

"In addition to the death toll, more than 2,400 troops have been wounded in Iraq since the war began."
Is it worth it, Mr. Bush?

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