Friday, July 30, 2004

How remiss of me!

This day in history - July 30, 1973

According to his pay records, July 30, 1973 was Fearless Leader's last day of active military service, nine months short of his requirement.

Happy AWOL day, Dubya!

Josh Marshall has it exactly right

To all those wise wizards of punditry and spin who deplore Senator Kerry's "lack of accomplisments" -
It's certainly true that Mr. Kerry said certain things in his war protestor days that can now be used against him with some audiences. But until he was well into middle-age President Bush's most noteworthy public utterances seem to have been limited to various invocations and inflections of 'par-TAY' and reciting the alphabet under legal compulsion.
And while we're pondering the lost years of Dubya, would someone care to provide a caption, or must I do it myself?

Convention coverage

I've gotta agree with South Knox Bubba - if you wanted your television coverage straight up, you had to watch CSPAN.

If you wanted snark, you had to watch the other network and cable stations.

If you wanted anything substantive, you had to read the blogs.

Lots of good credentialed bloggers out there, but I particularly enjoyed Liberal Oasis, Josh Marshall, TalkLeft, Pandagon, and Bark Bark Woof Woof (whose mother was a delegate).

Many thanks to all of you, and also to those I've forgotten to include in my list.

Of course, no list would be complete without Tom Burka. The fact that I won his wacky headline contest has nothing to do with it.

On Wednesday, the campaign shattered its previous online fundraising record, raising over $3.3 million dollars in one day, only to crush it on Thursday with a total of $5.6 million raised – bringing its two-day total to $8.9 million. At times during Kerry’s speech, johnkerry.com received over 5,000 hits per second.
I can also report from my sister; she is on the board of a child care advocacy organization. At the meeting yesterday, two people there said they "regretted their vote" for Bush in 2000, and will be voting for Kerry this time around.

I'm sure there's some out there, but I haven't heard any Gore2000 voters saying they'll be voting for Bush this time.

Just as hopeful - a quick read of comments around the left blogosphere reveals a sea change. People who were strictly lukewarm, "Anybody But Bush" are now energized Kerry supporters. I know for certain many of these are the foot soldiers who will knock on doors and man the phone banks.

I certainly know from long, hard experience what sort of crap Republicans can pull out as the race draws to a close. But I do believe - hope IS on the way.

We're going to win this.

What you won't see at the Republican Convention

...Dubya flanked by his TANG comrades-in-arms

...the Twins recalling the way their daddy treated small animals in distress

...talking heads criticizing Bush's emphasis on his military service

...talking heads wondering why Bush skimped over a part of his life

...and so many, many more

On this day - July 30

1977 - John Edwards and Elizabeth Anania married


Thursday, July 29, 2004

Da Man

My yardstick - our 19 year old, who sat through the speech, pronounced "That was GOOD", and is currently singing (off-key) with the music.

Did Big John deliver, or what?!

How not to crash a party

Nader and his supporters make little impact in Boston
The "Nader factor" was little in evidence here this week.

True, Ralph Nader, who's making his third third-party run at the White House, tried to get credentials to join the Democratic National Convention, first as an observer and then as a television correspondent. (The Democratic National Committee turned him down.)

And dozens of his young supporters have been walking the streets and trolling for petition signatures, trying to get him on the November ballot in Massachusetts.

But here, even among many activists who formed his onetime base, he hasn't been feeling much love.

"I'm not voting for him this time," said Betsy Morgan, an independent who voted for Nader in 1996 and 2000. "This time it's much too dangerous," she said, as assorted peace and environmental activists spoke at historic Faneuil Hall.
Good for you, Betsy.

For the sake of his well-earned reputation as a great consumer advocate, Ralph needs to give it up. It's past time.

The sky is falling
The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said there were “insufficient” coalition troops in Iraq to maintain security and warned that the country was in danger of becoming a “failed state” bringing further instability to the region.

At the same time, it warned that Afghanistan could “implode” with “terrible consequences” unless the international force sent to build stability following the overthrow of the Taliban was strengthened.
It's hard to write this off as alarmist when Doctors Without Borders is pulling out of Afghanistan.
The international aid group Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres) has been in Afghanistan since 1980. It has braved the Soviet occupation from 1979 to 1989, the civil war in the 1990s, and the rule of the hard-line Taliban. The medical charity has now decided to pull out of Afghanistan, becoming the first major aid agency to quit the war-ravaged country since the ouster of the Taliban in late 2001.
Obviously, this group doesn't spook easily. It took the Bush administration to run them out.

Hope can't come soon enough

The next Vice President of the United States:
"You don’t need me to explain it to you, you know—you can’t save any money, can you? Takes every dime you make just to pay your bills, and you know what happens if something goes wrong—a child gets sick, somebody gets laid off, or there’s a financial problem, you go right off the cliff."
Next week, I'll be attending a benefit dinner for a gentleman in the community who is undergoing very intensive, very expensive treatments for the cancer that will quite likely kill him.

The local elementary school PTA will soon meet to plan their schedule of bazaars, silent auctions, and bake sales to purchase books for the library and playground equipment.

I'll go, and I'll donate the few bucks I can spare after our own bills. The school will accept it, because they have no alternative. The proud, hard-working man - who has worked his small, family farm all his life - will accept it because he has no choice.

And I'll seethe inside because it should not be this way.

That the "richest country in the world" wastes money on malfunctioning weapon systems and tilting at windmills in Iraq, yet does not provide comprehensive health care and education for it's citizen's is a moral outrage.

My conservative friends will disagree; health care and education are not "rights". They would argue that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are strictly the rights to pursue those ideals. Only through what you earn and save from your wages are you entitled to purchase health care and education. You do not have the right to infringe on the earnings of others to obtain them for yourself.

But it's okay to beg for a share of my paltry earnings at a benefit? it's okay to submit proud people to the indignity of accepting charity to save their lives? It's okay to force people into poverty before they can receive help?

Businesses are finally catching on to the idea that an educated, healthy workforce is necessary to the wheels of commerce. From the CEO down to the fellow driving the delivery truck, healthy and educated workers are no longer just desirable, but necessary.

When will our population catch on to the idea that educated, healthy citizens are necessary for a more harmonious, effective, and prosperous democracy?


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

What's so bad about flip-flops?

They're cheap! They keep you from stepping in unpleasant things and sharp objects! And they're easy to slip off & on!


Never mind. (/Emily Litella, aka Gilda Radner)

Seriously - what's so bad about "flip-flops"? Is stubborn adherence to a failed policy some sort of virtue?

The United States missed out on a great president and very wise leader when George McGovern was defeated in 1972.

Go read Island Dave's review of the Randi Rhodes interview with McGovern, and his take on "flip-flopping".

Road map to more war

Amidst all the oratorical brilliance we've heard over the last two nights, I wonder how many picked up on this from President Jimmy Carter -
"In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt for the first time since Israel became a nation. All former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians. The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.

Instead, violence has gripped the Holy Land, with the region increasingly swept by anti-American passions."
Over and over and over again, disgruntled Muslims and terrorists themselves have cited the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a main factor in their discontent.

The Bush administration, rather than get it's hands dirty with diplomacy and the hard work of peacemaking, bleats "they hate our freedom" and throws more gas on the fire.

Two egotistical, power-hungry old men - Arafat and Sharon - continue to fan the fires unchecked, while the Bush administration gives the old wink and nod to Sharon.

Will the United States of America ever be considered an "honest broker" again? Certainly not as long as George W. Bush remains in office.

Go ahead....make my day

Via Pandagon, from QandO -
"Kerry certainly volunteered for duty in the Vietnam theater, and I respect his service--in fact, I'd even argue that his post-Vietnam opposition was sincere, well-intentioned and not a blanket condemnation of all veterans--as well as his purple hearts. I'm entirely unconcerned with debates over whether he was genuinely injured, or just kinda injured.

Bush, on the other hand, volunteered for a dangerous duty....but in the United States, rather than Vietnam."
Please, GOP spinmeisters - PLEASE pick up on this important point!

And if the GOPers need further ammunition, may I suggest this helpful post -

Bush Would Have Kept Medals If He Had Earned Any

Study: Hospital errors cause 195,000 deaths
Report doubles earlier Institute of Medicine estimate
As many as 195,000 people a year could be dying in U.S. hospitals because of easily prevented errors, a company said Tuesday in an estimate that doubles previous figures.

Lakewood, Colorado-based HealthGrades Inc. said its data covers all 50 states and is more up-to-date than a 1999 study from the Institute of Medicine that said 98,000 people a year die from medical errors.
Meanwhile, on the Bush/Cheney trail -

Tort reform.
"We need tort reform in America. Small businesses are threatened by -- if you ask people what affects their confidence in the future, they'll tell you, when they see junk lawsuits or have junk lawsuits filed against them. It threatens their existence, it makes it very difficult for people to plan with confidence. And, let's face it, our society is too litigious. There's too many lawsuits, a lot of them frivolous and junk lawsuits."

A report from the Center for Justice and Democracy, a non-profit group that opposes "tort reform," showed that as Texas Governor, one of Bush's first acts in 1995 "was to meet with representatives of nine Texas Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) chapters in a salsa factory outside of Austin, after which he declared a legislative 'emergency' on 'frivolous lawsuits.' Over his two terms, Bush signed a series of brutal bills that severely reduced injured consumers' rights to go to court." Then-Gov. Bush signed several laws in Texas protecting corporations -- like Enron, until recently his biggest career donor -- from lawsuits by consumers, such as capping punitive damages, diluting a law meant to penalize businesses that engage in deceptive business practices and prohibiting Texas cities from suing gun makers and sellers.
Yeah, that'll work.


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

One imagines the Republican Party just got Excedrin Headache #439.

That sound you heard was the earth shifting under their feet; their world breaking and reforming underneath them.

I love a good speech! My favorite has always been Mario Cuomo's keynote address at the 1984 Democratic Convention in San Francisco.

But my, oh my - Barack Obama sure belongs up there with Mario.

Read the text or watch it here.

A little religion

I'm still basking in the glow of President Clinton's address last night. Even my daughter - world champion eye-roller when politics are discussed - was impressed.

I was particularly struck by the repeated reference - "John Kerry said, send me."

Leave it to the Big Dog. This is a point straight from the Bible, and reminded me of my favorite hymn based on Isaiah 6:8 -
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."
Here I Am, Lord

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my words to them.
Whom shall I send?

I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will tend the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide,
'Til their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?

Chorus (repeated after each verse)

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

(Daniel L Schutte; copyright 1981)

Nader to Crash Dems' Party?
Nader plans on coming to Boston Wednesday, if not to calm their concerns, then to crash a party he sees as celebrating the wrong ideals. If he can get credentialed, Nader said in a phone interview from his home in Washington, D.C, he hopes to shock Democrats inside the FleetCenter.
Wrong party, Ralph.

How many times do I have to tell you - it's the Republicans with the petition signatures in New York.

In non-convention news...

(Not "news" exactly, but every bit as relevant as the crap that passes for it)

Election season is the time of year when pundits remind us that despite hearing the same words from the same mouth, we are incapable of understanding the underlying message, and it is necessary for them (with their infinite wisdom) to reinterpret the quote for their own ends.

So, speaking of quotes - the new Entertainment Weekly is out, and I enjoyed the article by Stephen King - (subscription required; here's the gist)
'You know a good quote -- ''Show me the money!'' ''You talkin' to me?'' -- when you hear one. So after Stephen King wrote an EW magazine column that asked readers to send him their favorite movie lines, he received close to 3,000 letters. Check out his summary of the readers' picks.
Some of the runners-up, in no particular order:

''I'll have what she's having.'' -- FEMALE DINER (Estelle Reiner) in ''When Harry Met Sally...''

''You had me at hello.'' -- DOROTHY BOYD (Renée Zellweger) in ''Jerry Maguire''

''Fasten your seat belts -- it's going to be a bumpy night.'' -- MARGO CHANNING (Bette Davis) in ''All About Eve''

''You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together...and blow.'' -- MARIE BROWNING (Lauren Bacall) in ''To Have and Have Not''

''If I'd been a ranch, they would've named me the Bar Nothin'.'' -- GILDA (Rita Hayworth) in ''Gilda''

''Veda's convinced me that alligators have the right idea: They eat their young.'' -- IDA CORWIN (Eve Arden) in ''Mildred Pierce''

''There's no crying in baseball!'' -- JIMMY DUGAN (Tom Hanks) in ''A League of Their Own''

''I love the smell of napalm in the morning.'' -- KILGORE (Robert Duvall) in ''Apocalypse Now''

''Show me the money!'' -- ROD TIDWELL (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in ''Jerry Maguire''

Stephen King's personal favorites:
''They call me Mister Tibbs!'' -- VIRGIL TIBBS (Sidney Poitier) in ''In the Heat of the Night''

''Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!'' -- PRESIDENT MUFFLEY (Peter Sellers) in ''Dr. Strangelove''

''Look how they massacred my boy.'' -- VITO CORLEONE (Marlon Brando) in ''The Godfather''

''Stand up. Your father's passing.'' -- REVEREND SYKES (William Walker) in ''To Kill a Mockingbird''
The top finalists were all written by the great William Goldman. The top winners -

4. ''Inconceivable!'' ''You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.'' -- INIGO MONTOYA (Mandy Patinkin) in "The Princess Bride"

3. ''Have fun storming the castle!'' -- MIRACLE MAX (Billy Crystal) in "The Princess Bride"

2. ''As you wish.'' -- WESTLEY (Cary Elwes) in "The Princess Bride"

The grand champion most memorable quote was submitted by over a hundred people -

1. "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.'' -- INIGO MONTOYA (Mandy Patinkin) in ''The Princess Bride''

Feel free to submit your own winners in comments.
Battle of the unflattering pictures

Sorry, mediawhores - you can't show a more unflattering picture than this -

Send in the clowns

Even if Kerry/Edwards was the worst Democratic ticket imaginable - which it isn't, by a long shot - I'd vote for them just to spite the sniveling, whining, petty, picayune, incompetent airheads in our so-called media.

It's past time intelligence tests were required for "reporters".

From the indispensable Salon (subscription or day pass), watching the Great Arbiters Of Amurikan Opinion so we don't have to -
The other clear TV oddity on day one was how the Fox News Channel, from 8 to 10:30 p.m. refused to air anything live from the Democratic convention podium, including speeches, tributes and patriotic songs. Only when the Clintons spoke did Fox turn its camera to the event.

Here's how the day unfolded:

10:40 a.m.: CNN's Daryn Kagan, pressing Kerry spokesman Tad Devine on Heinz Kerry's comments, asks, "Is that the kind of behavior we want to see from a future first lady?" Kagan then jokes about Kerry's ceremonial first pitch at a recent Boston Red Sox game (a pitch that bounced a few inches in front of home plate), and about the boos Kerry received from some hometown Red Sox fans.

10:45: An MSNBC anchor asks whether John Kerry is "aloof."

11:00: MSNBC reports on the "fear Clinton might overshadow the candidate ... who can come off as stiff and aloof."

11:35: "Isn't this a contrived, scripted John Kerry infomercial?" a Fox anchor asks GOP strategist Ralph Reed. "Wouldn't you love to hear Howard Dean and Ted Kennedy rampaging their hatred towards George Bush? You'd probably like to hear Whoopi Goldberg" up on the platform as well.

11:55: Noting the Democrats' focus on national security, Fox wonders, "Is this John Kerry doing his imitation of a Republican?"

Noon: MSNBC, hyping the Heinz Kerry story, flashes an onscreen "On the Defensive" graphic as the anchor asks, "Could [she] hurt her husband's campaign?"

12:10 p.m.: Previewing the former vice president's speech, CNN's Wolf Blitzer insists, "it's going to be difficult for [Gore] to go positive." He's "obviously" still "bitter."

12:15: MSNBC wonders, "Why was John Kerry booed at Boston Red Sox game last night?"

12:31: Looking for some real news, MSNBC's Tom Llamas phones in live to report Kerry's running mate Sen. John Edwards canceled a Greensboro, N.C. appearance because he has a cold; "it's a cold, it's a minor one."

12:41: An FNC anchor poses the question, "How will the Clintons manage to not steal the spotlight" at the convention? And, "Doesn't John Kerry's record as a Northeast liberal present a major obstacle?"

12:45: MSNBC asks a Boston Globe columnist, "Are Bostonians cringing at the convention at this point?"

12:52: Fox's Tony Snow is asked, "Is it really true [Kerry] is duplicitous?" Snow's response is yes, "He tells people what they want to hear."

2:10: CNN's Miles O'Brien notes that Bill Clinton "can be terrible at speeches. I mean, he could be talking until morning if they didn't have a little red light blinking there on the podium."

2:45: FNC's Patti Ann Browne reports that, "the buzz is that the Clintons are secretly hoping that Kerry will lose so the Clintons can win in 2008." She adds, "People are bringing it up, a possibility that Hillary will upstage the others."

3:01: FNC anchor Shephard Smith asks, "Will this convention be a boost to the White House?"

3:16: "For [Kerry] to come to Boston, a very liberal city, and cast himself as a moderate is a contradiction in terms," says Fox News reporters Carl Cameron. "It's hard to argue that Kerry-Edwards is not a liberal ticket."

3:30: CNN Judy Woodruff, interviewing former president Jimmy Carter, and discussing Sen. Ted Kennedy's failed run in 1980, wonders, "Why should anyone expect a Massachusetts liberal to do well" in 2004?

4:02: CNN's Kelly Wallace, previewing Gore's speech, reports, "Many Democrats are a bit confused and concerned about some speeches the former vice president has delivered over the past few months."

7:20: NBC's Tim Russert assures viewers that "Democrats don't like to hear" Kerry's "nuanced position" on the war and free trade. NBC anchor Tom Brokaw wonders if there's "a sense of entitlement" in Kerry's demeanor. Asked if Teresa Heinz Kerry was "manageable," Russert answered, "We're going to find out if the country is going to buy into her." Brokaw then says that, regardless of whether you are a Democrat or Republican, all Americans can agree that in the immediate wake of 9/11, Bush "was all that everyone wanted him to be."

8:10: Fox is the only major TV news outlet not to carry the Gore's speech, switching instead to "The O'Reilly Factor," as Gore's voice is heard booming in the background. (Minutes earlier, Fox was alone in failing to air the gospel-flavored "Star Spangled Banner.")

8:20: MSNBC's "Hardball," historically a bastion of conservatives and wayward Democrats during key campaign nights, invites a roundtable of panelists who are actually made up of ... people who will vote Democratic in November: former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, Ron Reagan, Jr., and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

8:55: O'Reilly announces Michael Moore has agreed to finally enter the No-Spin Zone during Tuesday night's "O'Reilly Factor."

8:57: MSNBC's Matthews wonders, "If the Clintons come back with all their baggage [tonight], is that a good sell for the Democrats tonight?"

9:03: Fox is the only major news outlet not to carry former president Jimmy Carter's speech. Instead, it airs "Hannity & Colmes."

10:04: Fox is the only television news outlet -- and by this time, that includes ABC, NBC, and CBS --not to carry the convention's brief tribute to 9/11, which includes a stirring rendition of "Amazing Grace."

10:22: ABC News' Peter Jennings -- ignoring Carter and Gore and an entire night of speeches extolling the virtues of John Kerry -- reports that Monday has been "a night dedicated to the Clintons."


Monday, July 26, 2004

What a man, what a man, what a mighty fine man...

He wasn't perfect; I didn't always agree with him.

But, daggone it - the boy can sure give a speech.

Shove it

In case you missed the Over-riding Important Issue Of The Day -
Heinz Kerry's comment came Sunday after she told a group of voters, "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics."

As she was leaving, Colin McNickle, the Tribune-Review's editorial page editor, asked her what she had meant by, in his words, "un-American activities."

She denied having said "activities" and also denied saying "un-American."

After stepping away and speaking briefly with Democratic organizers of the event, she returned and asked the reporter whether he worked for the Tribune-Review. He said he did.

"Understandable. You said something I didn't say, now shove it," she told him.
I'm guessing this particular reporter or newspaper has repeatedly misquoted her or her husband in the past.

My first reaction is "good for her". But she did say "un-American".

I expect anyone who has had any experience with Teresa Heinz Kerry knows that she says what she thinks - and sometimes it's the very first thing that pops into her mind.

In this case, I wish she'd substituted "shove it" for a good, spirited discussion of "un-American".

How about Kyle Williams - "Liberalism is unpatriotic"?

How about Dick Cheney, attacking those who disagree with his policies - "Such commentary is thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in a time of war."

How about Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh? Take your pick of anything that drips out of their mouths; it questions the patriotism of other Americans.

What is "American" is the freedom to dissent, the freedom to argue, the freedom to oppose.

Those who oppose those freedoms ARE "un-American".

Humana Reports Sharply Higher Second-Quarter Earnings
Humana Inc. posted higher second-quarter earnings Monday, buoyed by its robust government business as the managed care company reported it was on track to achieve record earnings.
The Louisville-based company reported net income of $80.8 million, or 50 cents a share, for the quarter ending June 30, up from $69.3 million, or 43 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
Isn't it great to know a health care insurance company can overcome all those trivial lawsuits and make a sh$tpot-full of money?

Business with the gummint hasn't hurt a bit, either -
Aug. 22, 2003 - U.S. Senator Jim Bunning today announced that the Department of Defense (DOD) has awarded Humana Military Health Care Services of Louisville, Kentucky a $2,058,582,137 federal contract.

DOD’s Health Affairs has contracted Humana Military Health Care Services to administer the TRICARE South Region. TRICARE provides health care services to our Uniformed Services’ families and support to military hospitals and clinics in the United States.
In the 2003-2004 election cycle, Humana gave $46,037 to politcal candidates, PACs, etc. Nineteen percent went to Democrats; eighty-one percent to Republicans.

Ho-hum; no surprise here.

On this day, July 26

2004 - Convention mania commences. I'm looking forward to the addresses by two former and one current President of the United States.

1775 - The Continental Congress established a postal system for the colonies with Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general. After 229 years, the U.S. Postal service finally has another worthy representative in Lance Armstrong and his team.

1947 - President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, creating the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. President Truman unified the Army and Navy under the Department of Defense. That strange noise you hear is Truman whirling in his grave.

1974 - The US House Judiciary Committee recommended impeachment of President Nixon. This one cries for a re-enactment.

Two very funny ladies were born on July 26 -

1895 - Gracie Allen, actress, wife and foil of George Burns.

1912 - Vivian Vance (Jones), Emmy Award-winning actress (Ethel Mertz I Love Lucy).

Goodnight, Gracie....


Sunday, July 25, 2004

:) Posted by Hello

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Be all you can be - and so much more!

Bigger Breasts for Free: Join the Army
Between 2000 and 2003, military doctors performed 496 breast enlargements and 1,361 liposuction surgeries on soldiers and their dependents, the magazine said.
The Bush administration's stupid, stupid, stupid policies may end up shrinking the size of our military - but, hey - they'll be the best looking!

(Thanks to Island Dave for the link)

True confession time; stinker list

Several blogs have recently asked readers for "favorite movie" lists.

C'mon, admit it. There are a couple of movies that were uniformly panned by the critics and shunned at the box office - but you secretly like them.

I'll go first. In no particular order -

Though I'm not a big Tom Hanks fan, he stars in two of my stinkers.

1. Turner & Hooch (1989). Probably the reason I enjoy this movie is because I had a dog very much like Hooch, only uglier. His name was Tinkerbelle.

2. The Money Pit (1986). As a homeowner, I can sympathize.

3. The Last Starfighter (1984). Completely undeserving of "stinker" status, but I'm the only person I know who enjoyed it.

4. Porky's II: The Next Day (1983). As a whole, it stinks; but the first 30 minutes crack me up.

5. Clash of the Titans (1981). Considered by some a cult classic, but again - I'm the only one I know that likes it.

6. Red Dawn (1984). I have no clue why this appeals to me; the plot is cracked, the acting is awful. Maybe it's the girl kicking ass.

Now it's your turn.

One rule - if you make fun of anyone else's choice, you have to name yours. If your memory needs a refresher, go here.

There's nothing worse

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) is an anti-choice, tax-cutting, social safety net snipping 5-term congressman from Kansas. Nothing would please me more than to see him defeated.

But not today.

Today, his youngest son (Luke, 16) died - an apparent suicide. He would have been a high school junior this fall; he played varsity football, lacrosse, and seemed well liked.

There's no experience in this life worse than losing a child. There's just something unnatural and pointless about it. Losing a child to disease or accident is a trip to the depths of hell. Losing a child to suicide is an unimaginable sorrow.

Peace to this troubled young soul; my deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

Olympics grouch

The only thing resembling a sport in which I participate is some daily walking and occasional fishing. Once upon a time, I played duplicate bridge - but that doesn't count. It's not a sport, it's a bloody war.

I like my sports best when I'm watching others do something - in person, and preferably in a stadium seat or in a lawn chair along the course. I'm at my best when I'm cheering others on.

But since the venues have an irritating tendency to charge money for those seats, most of my sports-watching is done seated in front of the television.

I used to really love and look forward to the Olympics. Soccer! Swimming! Skiing! Skating! Weird stuff! It was a veritable cornucopia of delights for someone like me.

But the last ten, fifteen years have been hard....ever since the networks decided it was "all about them" and their ratings.

I can't stand these "personal profile" puff pieces on the athletes. I don't care what a tragic upbringing little Susie Sprinter had; I really don't care about how her grandmother had to work three jobs to afford her training.

I don't know what the statistics are, but it seems like nine times out of ten the athlete who's just been profiled (with inspirational music, in slow motion) goes on to finish thirty-sixth in the competition.

All the network is trying to do is hook the viewers into watching and rev up some excitement; I know that. Well, I'm already watching - what I WANT to watch is some sort of competition - show me the damned competition! If there's a "lull in the action", switch to curling or rhythmmic gymnastics or anything else for a few minutes.

Maybe that's one of the reasons I've enjoyed watching the Tour de France so much. Phil Liggitt and Paul Sherwen - not overpaid, overgroomed household names - have provided sensible, non-sappy,concise commentary as a background to the cyclists. The sport is the star - the athletes, the crowning glory.

So, bring on the Olympics. This year, I'm armed with a digital video recorder from our cable provider. I've mastered the "record" and "fast forward" buttons, and by God I'll use them.


Friday, July 23, 2004

The Collective Sigh Psychic Network

Back on July 15, I posted an entry in Tom Burka's "fake headline" contest.

I'm a sucker for contests, and Tom promises the winner a tee shirt or other memorabilia from the convention.

My entry? - "Destroyed Military Records Suddenly Recovered"

With the subtitle - "Reveal ace fighter pilot Lt. Bush's heroic service in Viet Nam".

They wouldn't dare, would they?

Would they?

Second term agenda

Via Charles2 from Robert Reich -
A friend who specializes in foreign policy and hobnobs with subcabinet officials in the Defense and State departments told me that the only thing that's stopped the Bushies from storming into Iran and North Korea is the upcoming election. If Bush is re-elected, "[Dick] Cheney and [Donald] Rumsfeld are out of the box," he said. "They'll take Bush's re-election as a mandate to wage the 'war on terror' everywhere and anywhere."
Out of the box. Should we doubt it?

According to Paul O'Neill (The Price of Loyalty, Ron Suskind) -
When the Bush leadership team gathered to consider cutting taxes on the higher income brackets, O'Neill warned that the resulting rise in deficit "is moving toward a fiscal crisis." O'Neill claims that in the meeting not one strong economic reason was brought forward to support the tax cuts for the wealthy. Cheney made clear why the tax cuts would be pushed all the same: "We won the midterms [elections]. This is our due." (Emphasis mine)
What else would they consider their "due" should they manage to win or steal the 2004 election?

Robert Reich takes us on a tour - as Charles2 says, it shouldn't be read in the dark or before bedtime.

Must. Work. Harder.

Must. Give. More.

Have these guys ever done anything right?

What Houston says

"Destroyed" payroll records discovered

Or so CNN is reporting.

Stay tuned.

Update - link
Check your wallets

From the Alliance For Retired Americans "Friday Alert" newsletter -
Candidate Bush Will Promote Private Investment Accounts for Social Security
Privatizing Social Security will almost certainly become a priority for President Bush should he win another term. In broadly outlining his domestic agenda, the president, speaking at a fundraiser for Republican House and Senate candidates, hinted that personal investment accounts would guide his overhaul of Social Security. Personal investment accounts would divert payroll taxes into stock market investments.

The Congressional Budget Office found that two plans to set up personal investment plans, proposed by a panel the president appointed, would create huge costs for the government and a sharp reduction in benefits. Figures were estimated to add $100 to $200 billion annually to the federal deficit for the next 50 years. President Bush has not yet approved either of the plans.

John Kerry's campaign quickly responded to the CBO report saying, "The president is about to start touting his proposal for the 'ownership society,' but the CBO analysis shows it's more like a debt society. It's biggest impact is to increase debt by trillions of dollars...damaging our long-run budget outlook."
How can anyone seriously think the average American will benefit from diverting Social Security funds into the stock market?

Sure, if you happen to retire when the stock market is rosy, you'll do well.

Are you willing to bet your "golden years" on whether the stock market is up or down?

The only folks that will benefit from either situation are brokerage firms. Republicans know this, but still keep flogging this issue.

Just another reason to vote Democratic in November.

Incidentally, the Alliance for Retired Americans will have six senior activists blogging the Democratic Convention, like Ruth & Leonard Tubbs (ages 72 and 71) from Bristol, CT.
The struggle to afford the prescription drugs Ruth needs to survive transformed Ruth and Leonard Tubbs into activists. Ruth has logged more than 2,000 miles traveling to Canada for lower cost medications, and Leonard returned to work part time to help with their Rx bills. Frustrated with the Republican response to America's health care crisis, Ruth switched parties and officially became a Democrat in 2002.
You go, girl!

Faith of his father

Ron Reagan, Jr. will no doubt give a good speech at the Convention, and I'm glad he agreed to do so; especially if he can open one closed mind on the subject of stem cell research.

But his remarks at his father's funeral have always struck me as a bit odd - "(my father) never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians, wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage."

Is my memory that bad?

So I'm grateful to Liberal Oasis for this today -
In any event, while LiberalOasis appreciates Ron Reagan Jr.'s sentiment about political exploitation of religion, the notion that his father, "never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians, wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage," doesn't quite hold up.
Ronald Reagan's coupling with Jerry Falwell and the "Moral Majority" is the reason I swore never to vote for a Republican again.

As the Wrong Reverend Falwell says -
I will remember Mr. Reagan primarily for his relationship with the evangelical Christian community in our nation. We had long been shut out of the White House when Mr. Reagan took office. But he realized that this community was largely responsible for his election and held the key to stalling our nation's moral collapse. Many churches had organized (quite legally) voter registration drives through the help of my Moral Majority because we believed Mr. Reagan could make a difference in our nation.

We brought millions of new voters to the polls in 1980. We reactivated millions of discouraged religious conservatives who, though registered to vote, had given up on America. We believed we were electing the man who could return America to moral sanity. And he did not let us down.


In the day after his election in November 1980, he conducted his first press conference as the president-elect. From 3,000 miles away, I listened carefully as a reporter asked him if he would be paying attention to all of these evangelicals and religious conservatives, i.e., "moral majoritarians." He said to this reporter – to us, and to the world – that he would be giving special attention to the people who had helped elect him. And he did.
Maybe Ron, Jr. is right - Ronald Reagan never wore his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage; he used it like a billy club to drive evangelicals to the polls and a bullwhip to keep them in line.

Quick hits

I see the terrorists have struck again - White Powder Found at Kerry Headquarters.

It doesn't matter if the white powder is anthrax or garlic. The aim was to inspire fear; therefore, it's terrorism.

Time to deploy Dubya's latest weapon in the War On Terra - Alaska Interceptor First in Defense System
A ground-based missile interceptor was installed Thursday in Alaska's Interior — the first component of a national defense system designed to shoot down enemy missiles.


Five additional interceptors will be installed at the 700-acre complex — another four at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California — by the end of the year. Ten more will be installed at Fort Greely by late 2005, launching the Bush administration's multibillion dollar system.


The interceptors have not proven their reliability, hitting targets only five times in eight tests, said Philip Coyle, former assistant secretary of operational test and evaluation at the Pentagon. He said they failed even when using advanced information "an enemy would never give us," including when they were launched."
I'm reminded of a brief scene from "Pirates of the Caribbean", during a sword fight between Will Turner and Captain Jack Sparrow -
Will Turner - You cheated!
Sparrow - (shrugs) Pirate.


Amen, brothers

9/11 report: "Terrorism" catchall too vague an enemy
The report argues that the notion of fighting an enemy called "terrorism" is too diffuse and vague to be effective. Strikingly, the report also makes no reference to the invasion of Iraq as being part of the war on terrorism, a frequent assertion of President Bush and his top aides.

"The first phase of our post-9-11 efforts rightly included military action to topple the Taliban and pursue al-Qaida. This work continues," the report said. "But long-term success demands the use of all elements of national power: diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy and homeland defense. If we favor one tool while neglecting others, we leave ourselves vulnerable and weaken our national effort."
Sadly, all those weapons put together don't look as good on television as a little bit of "shock and awe".

The 9/11 commission report makes one thing perfectly clear - the Clinton administration used all the weapons at it's disposal; sometimes effectively, other times less so.

The Bush administration tossed a few bombs, got a few photo ops.

Back to watching the Tour live on OLN and pretending to work....


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

It goes where you point it, so be careful where you point it.

The Porsche Carrera GT
The Carrera GT, Porsche's half-million-dollar sports car, a 605-horsepower linear-mass accelerator capable of more than 200 mph, is certainly new. The car is just now going into full production in Leipzig, Germany — hand assembled at a rate of two per day — and so far only about 50 have been delivered to North American customers, mostly juice-intensive celebs like Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen.


It is also rather sporty. It will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, according to Car and Driver, and cover the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds, with a trap speed of 132 mph. That last number is telling: This car doesn't find its prodigious stride until it gets over 100 mph. From 0 to 100 mph takes a mere 6.8 seconds.

At speeds above 75 mph, the car deploys its rear spoiler to help create road-holding down force. At 186 mph the car is subjected to 880 pounds of down force, most of that generated from the ground-effects underbody and spoiler, but even the suspension arms are shaped like inverted wings to extract precious pounds of down force.
I'm in love.

Alas, I worship from afar.

O'Reilly scolds guest who outed gays, then calls judge a lesbian

(From the Chicago Tribune)
Fox News Channel's star talk-show personality, Bill O'Reilly, says he is uncomfortable with the practice of outing gay political figures--except, it seems, when he is doing the outing.

On his show Monday night, O'Reilly chastised guest Michael Rogers for maintaining a Web site publicizing the names of gay staffers working for politicians who oppose gay marriage.

"We're uneasy with this kind of exposition," O'Reilly said. "Somebody's personal sex life should have nothing to do with any kind of a policy."

But on the same show--and for at least the third time in the last year--O'Reilly described one of the justices on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as a lesbian, a claim that the justice herself, through a spokeswoman, denies.

On shows in November, last week, and again on Monday, O'Reilly has referred to "the lesbian judge on the Supreme Court who dissented" in the court's landmark ruling in favor of gay marriage.

O'Reilly has never named the judge, but of the three dissenting justices in that case, only one--Justice Martha B. Sosman--is a woman.

"Justice Sosman is not a lesbian," said court spokeswoman Joan Kenney. "We don't know where Bill O'Reilly got that information, but it is not correct."

Sosman declined an interview request.

A Fox spokesman said O'Reilly stands by his claim, which is based on "more than one independent source."

The spokesman declined to identify those sources, citing confidentiality.
(Don't you love that last line?)

In Anbar province, change of course rankles many U.S. soldiers
Asked whether most Americans have an idea of how bad the security situation is in Ramadi, Sgt. Maj. John Jones said recently that he was annoyed every time he heard analysis about Iraq from politicians and journalists on TV.

"When people come over here, where do they stay? In the Green Zone. I call it the Safe Zone," he said, referring to the secure area in Baghdad where the government is housed. "They miss the full picture."
Staff Sgt. Sheldon Rivers - "I'm tired of every time we go out the gate, someone tries to kill me."

Sgt. 1st Class James Tilley - "A lot of times, I look at this place and wonder what have we really done. ... When we first got here, we all wanted to change it and make it better, but now I don't give a shit," he said. "What the hell am I here for?"

Staff Sgt. A.J. Dean - "I don't have any idea of what we're trying to do out here. I don't know what the (goal) is, and I don't think our commanders do either," he said. "I feel deceived personally. I don't trust anything (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld says, and I think (Deputy Defense Secretary Paul) Wolfowitz is even dirtier."

Notice anything? These are sergeants; not a bunch of homesick, confused kids.

When these guys are bitchin', it's past time to get out.

Bow before this man

Spreading the gospel of 'Compassionate Conservatism'


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Noblesse Non-oblige

Fair and balanced disclaimer - let's remember that this professor is one of those activist libruls.

And now let's quote him anyway -
Yoshihiro Tsurumi, an avowed opponent of Bush’s current views and policies who was a visiting associate professor of international business at HBS between 1972 and 1976, said Bush was among 85 students he taught one year in a required first-year course. In the class on “Environment Analysis for Management,” incorporating elements of macroeconomics, industrial policy and international business, Tsurumi said students discussed and debated case studies for 90 minutes several times a week.

Tsurumi—now a professor of international business at Baruch College in the City University of New York—said he remembers the future president as scoring in the bottom 10 percent of students in the class.

Thirty years after teaching the class, Tsurumi said the twenty-something Bush’s statements and behavior—“always very shallow”—still stand out in his mind.

“Whenever [Bush] just bumped into me, he had some flippant statement to make,” said Tsurumi when reached at his home in Scarsdale, N.Y. “The comments he made were revealing of his prejudice.”

The White House did not reply to requests for comment on Bush’s time at HBS.

Tsurumi said he particularly recalls Bush’s right-wing extremism at the time, which he said was reflected in off-hand comments equating the New Deal of the 1930s with socialism and the corporation-regulating Securities and Exchange Commission with “an enemy of capitalism.”

“I vividly remember that he made a comment saying that people are poor because they’re lazy,” Tsurumi said.

Tsurumi also said Bush displayed a sense of arrogance about his prominent family, including his father, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

“[George W. Bush] didn’t stand out as the most promising student, but...he made it sure we understood how well he was connected,” Tsurumi said. “He wasn’t bashful about how he was being pushed upward by Dad’s connections.”

Tsurumi said that the younger Bush boasted that his father’s political string-pulling had gotten him to the top of the waiting list for the Texas National Guard instead of serving in Vietnam. When other students were frantically scrambling for summer jobs, Tsurumi said, Bush explained that he was planning instead for a visit to his father in Beijing, where the senior Bush was serving at the time as the special U.S. envoy to China.

In addition, Tsurumi is still sore about what he recalls as Bush’s slight to his cinematic taste. When he arranged for students to view the film of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath during their study of the Great Depression, Tsurumi said, Bush derided the film as “corny.”
(Thanks to Brad for the tip)

What were YOU doing thirty-five years ago?

I had just stumbled through my first year of college. I had always wanted to learn to play an instrument, and had been taking lessons from a fellow music student on a college-loaner clarinet.

Armed with the loaner clarinet and some method books, I went home for the summer and proceeded to learn a few squeaky notes.

On July 20, 1969 - I had all four of my wisdom teeth cut out.

So ended the career of a potentially mediocre clarinetist.

Oh, and man first walked on the moon.

The 20th annual Television Critics Association award for outstanding news and information programming goes to....

(drum roll....)

May I have the envelope, please?

Comedy Central's "The Daily Show"
Stewart sent a tape of himself seated at "The Daily Show" anchor desk, expressing bewilderment at the idea of getting an award for news programming on the heels of last year's TCA award for best comedy.

"We're fake," he said. "See this desk? ... It folds up at the end of the day, and I take it home in my purse."
Host Bill Maher may have scored the biggest laugh, referring to cancellation of his old show by ABC following on-air remarks about the courage of 9-11 terrorists -
"It's funny," he said. "The only person prosecuted in the past three years for terrorism has been me."
Sounds like it was a great party.

(Thanks to Blah3 for the tip)

Wrong war, wrong warpath

There's really no need to ponder the Great Issues Of The Day; all you have to do is look up the Bush administration position - and take the opposite.

Has there ever been an administration that is so consistently WRONG on everything?

Let's take one-and-a-half issues.

The "half" issue is the War On Terra, and it's only "half" because any remarks I can make are half-assed compared to Paul Krugman's column in today's NYTimes.
President Bush isn't actually an Al Qaeda mole, with Dick Cheney his controller. Mr. Bush's "war on terror" has, however, played with eerie perfection into Osama bin Laden's hands - while Mr. Bush's supporters, impressed by his tough talk, see him as America's champion against the evildoers.
Case closed.

So let's proceed the Bush/Cheney's latest campaign theme - health care.

After doing everything in their power to throw profits to the HMOs and pharmaceutical companies, Bush/Cheney is still on the wrong warpath -
Articulating a health policy vision nearly opposite the one advocated by the Democratic presidential ticket, Cheney promoted individual tax credits, additional community health centers and more modern technology as ways to help Americans afford top-notch medical care.

But it was medical malpractice that dominated his address yesterday at the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, and it is limits on lawsuit damages that remain the single most ambitious proposal of the Republican ticket's health-care agenda.

"This problem doesn't start in the waiting room," Cheney said in remarks released by the campaign. "It doesn't start in the operating room. The problem starts in the courtroom."

With lawsuits on the rise and multimillion-dollar awards garnering headlines, physicians and many Republicans say limiting damages would solve challenges confronting the U.S. health system. They say capping damages would lead to lower malpractice premiums, which would reduce doctors' use of unnecessary tests and procedures, known as defensive medicine. Those improvements would result in better care at lower cost, enabling more people to buy coverage.
After nearly four years of Bushit, I hope everyone realizes by now that they're blowing it out their collective a$$es.
An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office said the malpractice bill would benefit doctors and the government but reduce private health-insurance premiums by a scant 0.4 percent.
The reason those multimillion-dollar awards garner headlines is because they're RARE. Capping damages would only mean that insurance companies would profit more - does anyone seriously think they'll pass any savings on to physicians and patients?

As to "defensive" medicine; I kind of like the idea that my doctor has ordered all the tests and procedures he deems necessary for my continued life and health.

Individual tax credits has a nice, solid ring to it - didn't we have something like that years ago, before Reagan increased the amount allowed for itemizing deductions? And though it's nice to think you may get a few bucks knocked off your total tax bill come April 15th, where are you supposed to get the money to pay for medical expenses NOW, when you need it?

But the boogey-man in the mix? Incompetent physicians.
A federal program to protect patients from incompetent doctors is failing because health maintenance organizations and hospitals rarely report those doctors to the government as they are required to do, federal investigators say. Under federal law, H.M.O.'s and hospitals are supposed to inform the government of any disciplinary actions taken against doctors for incompetence or misconduct.

But in the last decade, 84 percent of H.M.O.'s and 60 percent of hospitals never reported a single "adverse action" to the government, a report by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services said.

This low level of reporting occurred even though a government study found that tens of thousands of Americans die each year because of medical errors.

Information on incompetent doctors is included in a computer >system known as the National Practitioner Data Bank, created by Congress to protect patients against doctors who move from state to state without disclosing that they have been censured or disciplined in some way for providing poor care.


The inspector general's explanation was stark. In a market more concerned about price than quality, the report said, H.M.O.'s have evolved into "bill-paying organizations," and managed care plans "often have little incentive to devote many resources to quality assessment and improvement."

Carmella Bocchino, vice president of the American Association of Health Plans, said many H.M.O.'s apparently did not realize they were required to tell the government when doctors were disciplined for incompetence or misconduct.
Isn't it time compliance was mandated?

As just one example, Public Citizen's West Virginia database alone contains the names of 293 "Questionable Doctors" – most are still practicing; and probably still getting sued.

Physicians who "cover up" for their fellow professionals only hurt themselves; a health care industry that doesn't police itself is criminal.

John Kerry has some good, common sense suggestions for overhauling the health care fiasco in this country. Putting repeat offender physicians out of business should be one of them.

(2:34 p.m. - changed title; so, sue me)

The nation awaits on pins and needles

As our local paper says - "More than three months after they should have had the chance, voters across the Piedmont and state go to the polls today for North Carolina's primary elections."
The primaries should have taken place May 4 but were delayed until the middle of summer because of a legal dispute over a state legislative redistricting plan. Today will mark only the second time in state history that Tarheel voters cast ballots in July.
The whole convoluted mess was instigated (from what I can tell) by the Democrats, but the courts dragged their judicial feet on it.

So I shall gather up my my mother and daughter for a three-generation progressive assault on the local polling place.

The best outcome of this primary election will be weeding out some of the more obnoxious Republicans running for statewide office. It's been an interesting couple of weeks as they run TV ads trying to out-conservative each other.

The worst may be Vernon Robinson, running in the NC Congressional 5th, who touts himself as "the black Jesse Helms". His supporters include Liddy Dole, Jeb Bush, and Alan Keyes.

The ad includes a shot of Vernon and Jesse - I swear it's photoshopped - and promises to end illegal immigration, abortion, gay marriage, affirmative action, and income taxes.

Those are standard Republican fare down here, but Robinson brings some fresh insanity to his ad by beginning with describing librul America as the "Twilight Zone", and ends - I swear this is true - with a shot from "Leave It to Beaver", complete with the bouncy musical theme and a smiling Beave. Watch it here, if you want a good laugh. I almost wish I had the opportunity to vote against him.

Of one thing I'm sure - our polling place will be practically deserted. There's never a crowd; not even for a national election.

Which leads me to my favorite "if I were in charge" proposal for a ballot initiative -

Everyone who flies the flag or plasters flag decals on their car or otherwise outwardly proclaims their great patriotism should be required to vote.

I don't fly a flag - my flag became old, yellowed, and raggedy years ago and met a respectful end at the local VFW.

But it will be a cold day in hell when this obnoxious progressive doesn't haul herself to the polls.


Monday, July 19, 2004

Got a birthday coming up? Can't decide how to celebrate?

(Via South Knox Bubba)

Nude man caught covered in nacho cheese
A Maryville man spent his 23rd birthday in custody after police said they found him early Sunday running nude from the John Sevier pool snack bar with a box of stolen snacks.

Authorities said the man had apparently scaled an 8-foot tall fence while naked and covered in nacho cheese and was seen running toward a Jeep in which officers found clothing and an open bottle of vodka.
Houston, that wasn't you, was it?

From the sublime to the mundane

I respect Melanie of Just a Bump in the Beltway as much as any blogger or journalist I've ever read.

"Bump" isn't just a daily read for me - I check back a couple of times daily for new posts, and there's always something insightful and interesting.

Occasionally, Melanie diverts from politics to religion to the everyday to the gourmet. If you'd like a sure-fire recipe for Hollandaise sauce and Eggs Benedict, look no further than here.

Alas, I admit I don't claim gourmet status. If someone is kind enough to fix me a gourmet meal, I'll eat it and enjoy it. But "fine dining", in my mind, boils down to someone else cooking it and cleaning it up.

However, in solidarity with Melanie, I present my favorite "guaranteed to get et up" recipe.

I call it "Cheap Fake Swiss Steak", but call it whatever you want.

You need a crock pot - preferably one that has a removable liner. Much easier to clean.

You need some type of cheap steaks; as in round steak, cut thin. Doesn't matter if it looks tough as nails and just as cheap. Buy as many as you think will be consumed. Then buy some more.

An envelope of "Onion Gravy". Store-brand is fine.

Throw steaks and Onion Gravy mix in crock pot. Cover with water. Cook for minimum of 8 hours on low setting.

If I'm feeling gourmet-ish, I toss in a can of mushrooms during the last 1/2 hour or so of cooking.

The stuff falls apart, and makes a good gravy. Mix up some instant mashed potatoes, which are infinitely better when you decrease the milk a bit and add a dollop of sour cream.

Alternately, you could substitute a big can of whole tomatoes for the onion gravy mix.

So much for fine dining from my kitchen. I'd give you my recipe for Cheap Fake Roast Beef Hoagies, but I'm too embarrassed to admit I just buy some hoagie rolls, bake a frozen roast beef dinner, and fill the rolls with it.

Bloggers Are the Sizzle, Not the Steak
Convention seats do not turn Internet gossips into journalists.

From the LA Times, by Alex S. Jones is director of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

...bloggers, with few exceptions, don't add reporting to the personal views they post online, and they see journalism as bound by norms and standards that they reject. That encourages these common attributes of the blogosphere: vulgarity, scorching insults, bitter denunciations, one-sided arguments, erroneous assertions and the array of qualities that might be expected from a blustering know-it-all in a bar.
For the most part, those bloggers who have been approved for the convention are hardly "gossips"; I'm looking forward to their perspectives.

Given an expense account, credentials, and access - even I could make sh$t up just as well as most "real journalists" covering the convention.

Speaking of making it up as you go - have you entered Tom Burka's headline contest?


Sunday, July 18, 2004

Prince Bob of Darkness -
"I am offended by the perp walk of taking this man (Ken Lay) and putting him in handcuffs. He's been convicted of nothing.

He is not a rapist, he is not a murderer, and they have this long, slow walk across the parking lot just for publicity."
Yeah, Bob - Republicans just can't do anything original -

 Posted by Hello

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Another stupid headline

Kerry Backs Much of Pre-Emption Doctrine
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Friday he would be willing to launch a pre-emptive strike against terrorists if he had adequate intelligence of a threat.

Kerry offered some support for one of the most controversial aspects of President Bush's national security policy, even as he criticized the president for not reforming intelligence agencies after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

``Am I prepared as president to go get them before they get us if we locate them and have the sufficient intelligence? You bet I am,'' he said at a news conference at his Washington headquarters.
Which is a hell of a lot different from the Bush doctrine, which is basically "I'm prepared to go get them before they get us whether we know where they are or not and on the basis of Mother Goose-quality intelligence."


Okay, I can't restrain my catty streak any longer.

If you think the Bush twins will be working with poor children in Harlem and fighting AIDs in Africa, go to your room immediately without supper.


Friday, July 16, 2004

'Doonesbury' artist Trudeau skewers Bush

Yeah, okay - what else is new? - you ask.

This -
Trudeau attended Yale University with Bush in the late 1960s and served with him on a dormitory social committee.

"Even then he had clearly awesome social skills," Trudeau said. "He could also make you feel extremely uncomfortable ... He was extremely skilled at controlling people and outcomes in that way. Little bits of perfectly placed humiliation."

Trudeau said he penned his very first cartoon to illustrate an article in the Yale Daily News on Bush and allegations that his fraternity, DKE, had hazed incoming pledges by branding them with an iron.

The article in the campus paper prompted The New York Times to interview Bush, who was a senior that year. Trudeau recalled that Bush told the Times "it was just a coat hanger, and ... it didn't hurt any more than a cigarette burn."
My disgust runneth over; I don't trust myself to comment further.

The wheels of justice

Congress's Inquiry Into Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners Bogs Down
The Congressional investigation into the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison has virtually ground to halt, as a senior Senate Republican said Thursday that no new hearings would be held on the matter until this fall at the earliest.

The Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee made it clear weeks ago that it believed that the several current military investigations of the scandal were sufficient, and that summoning commanders to Washington would only hinder American operations in Iraq.

That left the issue to the Senate Armed Services Committee, whose chairman, Senator John W. Warner, a Virginia Republican, has held a series of hearings, but none since May 19. On Thursday, Mr. Warner said he would hold off calling any more witnesses until several criminal prosecutions and seven pending Pentagon inquiries were completed.

But some of those inquiries are running weeks behind. The pivotal investigation of the role that American military intelligence officials played in the abuses, which officials once expected to wrap up in June, now is not likely to be completed and reviewed by senior Pentagon officials until mid-August. Congress will soon recess until September.
On balance, this may not be a bad thing.

I'm very eager to see justice done in this matter - it's "priority one". The last thing the military needs at this point is the politicos screwing up their investigations.
When pressed Thursday to give a schedule of when hearings might resume, Mr. Warner expressed frustration and replied testily: "I can't give you a schedule. Take a look at all those investigations. What can you do until they are finished?"

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said he agreed with Mr. Warner on putting off more hearings, but said investigators must search for culpability among higher-ranking officers and officials. "The idea that only five or six privates and sergeants are legally exposed is unacceptable," Mr. Graham said in a telephone interview.
I may be a naive, optimistic, too-trusting hick - but I have a feeling we can trust Senators Warner and Graham on this matter.

And I may be a flaming liberal, partisan hack - but I don't mind a bit if the sh$t hits the fan in September.

The Arlington Ladies
At an Arlington Cemetery funeral, they're often in the background, inconspicuous in ordinary clothes. Their only mark of distinction: a small lapel pin, the size of a quarter, with the military insignia of the service that they represent.

But their duties stretch beyond the graveside. For family members unable to attend, the Arlington Ladies often write a long letter describing the funeral in detail, from the weather to the other mourners, the prayers, the traditional gun salute and the poignant trumpet notes of "Taps." Often, at the request of relatives, an Arlington Lady lays a wreath on a veteran's grave for Memorial Day or places flowers at Christmas.
Quietly and discreetly supporting the troops and their families; no fanfare, no salary, just love and respect.

Real family values.


Thursday, July 15, 2004

Dot connecting?

Prepare for the worst of Abu Ghraib -
But get ready. It is going to get much worse. The graphic videos and photographs that have so far been shown only to Congress are, I have been persuaded by someone who has seen them, not likely to remain secret for very long. And, if you wonder why formerly gung-ho rightist congressmen like James Inhofe ("I'm outraged more by the outrage") have gone so quiet, it is because they have seen the stuff and you have not. There will probably be a slight difficulty about showing these scenes in prime time, but they will emerge, never fear. We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see. And one linguistic reform is in any case already much overdue. The silly word "abuse" will have to be dropped. No law or treaty forbids "abuse," but many conventions and statutes, including our own and the ones we have urged other nations to sign, do punish torture—which is what we are talking about here at a bare minimum.
Senator Lindsay Graham -
Lindsay Graham, a Republican member of the senate committee that grilled Rumsfeld, said murder and rape cases were likely to emerge from the investigation.

"The American public needs to understand we're talking about rape and murder here," Graham told reporters after the Senate hearing.

"We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience. We're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges."

Graham, who is a judge for the army reserve, said: "It's going to get worse. You're going to have more things to show people that will make people mad, more angry."
Rumsfeld Relegated to Less Visible Role
William Nash, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a retired two-star Army general who commanded American peacekeeping forces in Bosnia, said the White House's political calculations will determine Rumsfeld's fate.

"Right now everything in this administration is being measured against whether or not it contributes to the re-election of the president in November," he said. "Obviously he's been a lightning rod and oh, by the way, he's also been wrong and that's never good" for Bush.

Nash suspects that Rumsfeld has yet to feel the full force of the Abu Ghraib abuse.

"I don't think there's any particular reason to believe that the Department of Defense is out of the woods on Abu Ghraib," he said.
I feel ill.

Still hangin' in there....

Busy, busy, busy today - let's see what I've missed:

***Despite the defeat of the gay marriage ban (which would have prevented society from disintegrating) my own heterosexual marriage seems to be holding together just fine, thank you.

At least, last time I checked. Better make sure....

Yep. He's still over there in the recliner, fast asleep in front of the television. Same old same old.

But I think I'll keep him.

*** Martha Stewart faces sentencing tomorrow; a case about which I know zilch. As I understand it, she did pretty much the same thing Little George did with his Harken stock.

I was never a Martha-fan; anyone who dictates decorating and entertaining mores to the masses and yet has minions to do the work for her doesn't have my support.

But her company does produce nice bed sheets.

*** Safire and the wingnuts get their heart's desire - Hillary will speak at the Democratic convention.

Look at it this way - they'll be so intent on demonizing every word she utters, they won't pay any attention to The Big Dog.

*** Where is Riverbend? She hasn't posted since June 18, which makes me very anxious.

*** On the subject of missing-in-action, I send out good thoughts to my buddy The Evil Stradiotto. I miss him; can you imagine how all the latest Bushit would inspire him to scorch the cyber-highway? I hope he's on the path to good health.

*** Finally, Kos posts a bit about North Carolina presidential polls. The 7/14 Mason-Dixon poll shows Kerry/Edwards trailing by only 3 points.

No Nader factor here; NC law requires 100,000 signatures for a third-party candidate to make the ballot, and Nader is way, way short.

You'll be able to knock me over with a feather if North Carolina goes for Kerry, but I sure know a lot of folks who are very disenchanted with Dubya. As in - won't vote a presidential ticket at all.

Between those wingers who think he hasn't done enough to get prayer in every classroom and those conservatives who think he's done too much in the way of growing the government; let's just say there's some very unhappy Republicans around here.

It may be Rightwing Heaven, but the shine is definitely wearing off their god.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Colin Powell no globe-trotter
Powell is on track to become the least traveled secretary of state in more than three decades, since Henry A. Kissinger embodied the concept of the globe-trotting foreign policy guru, according to records maintained by the State Department's historian.
Let's not be too hard on poor Mr. Powell.

A) The Bush administration isn't welcome anywhere, and

B) He needs to stay in Washington, D.C. as much as possible to protect his territory from the neo-cons.

The way things are going, the Bush twins are in line for that "most traveled" award.

Giving new meaning to "concealed carry"

Think twice before jamming that weapon into your pants.

Man Jailed for Shooting Off His Testicles
A British man who accidentally shot himself in the testicles after drinking 15 pints of beer was jailed for five years on Tuesday for possessing an illegal firearm, a court spokesman said.

David Walker, 28, was arguing with a friend at a pub in South Yorkshire, northern England, when he went home to get his sawed-off shotgun, which he jammed into his trousers.

But as he walked back to the pub, the gun went off, blasting pellets into his testicles. Doctors later removed what remained of his testicles during emergency surgery.

Walker admitted possessing a prohibited weapon at a hearing in June at the court in Sheffield.

'Serious flaws' in Iraq intelligence
The 196 page report says MI6 did not check its sources well enough, and sometimes relied on third hand reports.
Omigod - et tu, Britain?

The Butler report's main findings basically mirror those of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee -
The 45 minutes claim was "unsubstantiated"

No individuals were to blame for failures

Intelligence had been pushed to the "outer limits but not beyond"

There was no deliberate distortion of intelligence by politicians

Limits of intelligence not "made sufficiently clear" in September 2002 dossier
I like the "outer limits" reference, as I always hear that creepy theme music when Bush opens his mouth.

Seems to me the basic difference has been the reaction -
"I hope I -- I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one." - G.W. Bush, April 13, 2004

“I accept full personal responsibility for the way the issue was presented and therefore for any errors made.” - Tony Blair, July 14, 2004
There you go. It's all Tony Blair's fault.

To dissent or dishonor - that is the question

You already know the shorter version - dissent by liberals is dishonorable.

Bill O'Reilly instructs us on the proper way to express dissent and commit dishonor -
"Talking Points" believes the Bill Clinton situation is a good example. While president, Mr. Clinton did a number of questionable things. Conservatives especially were angered that Mr. Clinton used the Oval Office in an unseemly way and then lied about it. The dissent over that was absolutely appropriate, but some right-wingers went overboard and began accusing Mr. Clinton of all kinds of deeds that were unproven and sometimes even defamatory.
(Conservatives were especially angered that Mr. Clinton won the election; the witch-hunt and name calling started from day one, hasn't stopped yet, and look like continuing as long as the sun shines.
That kind of behavior is simply dishonorable. Just because you don't like a politician doesn't give you the right to lie about them. Dishonor is defined as treating someone in a degrading manner, trying to injure them personally. There's no place for that in America.

So, flash forward to President Bush, who's being accused of many things, some of them flat-out untrue. For example, the Senate Intelligence Committee did not find any evidence that the Bush administration attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgment on WMDs in Iraq — so reads conclusion 83 of the Senate report

Thus, all the bomb-throwers who accuse Mr. Bush of lying about WMDs have been dishonorable. They were wrong and had no proof to begin with.They are guilty of a slander, a dishonorable act.
(Bush was wrong and had no proof to begin with. Gallivanting around the country, stomping his feet and whining "I did so!" is dishonorable. The 'bomb-throwers' aren't dishonorable or even dissenting - just sane)
Other examples, Whoopi Goldberg made crude jokes about Mr. Bush's name. Is that dissent or dishonor? Whether you like him or not, Mr. Bush is the president. It is dishonorable for Ms. Goldberg crudely to mock him without purpose. There's no dissent in that and it reflects poorly on her.
(Personally, I agree that the office of the POTUS deserves respect. It's a tough job, when someone does it. When someone is legally elected to it, I'll be glad to respect it again.)
Meryl Streep said, "If you're going to invite Jesus on the campaign bus and ask him to stump for you, you'd better listen carefully to what he has to say first. He did not say 'blessed is the preemptive strike.'"

Dissent or dishonor? In this case, Ms. Streep is dissenting. She's objecting to a policy matter and that's legit. See the difference? Goldberg is disrespectful. Streep is entitled to her opinion about an issue, although I'd love to talk to her about it.
('Good morning, ma'am. May I come in for a few moments to talk to you about Jesus? Here's a complimentary copy of the New Testament; in this edition, all that crap about "turning the other cheek" and "blessed are the peacemakers" has been helpfully redacted')
Michael Moore's movie is dissent, but his dishonesty within the film is dishonorable. Also, when he runs around Europe bashing America, he's giving comfort to our enemies, totally dishonorable and disgraceful in a time of war. You have to be careful where you utter anti-American statements. What's OK in Berkeley is not OK in Paris.
(Very interesting coming from someone who walked out during the middle of the film. But what O'Reilly doesn't grasp is that the truth, unpalatable as it may be, holds in Berkeley, Paris, Timbuktu, or Kalamazoo.)
Finally, let's take a look at conservative Ann Coulter. She writes,"Kerry picks a pretty-boy milquetoast as his running mate, narrowly edging out a puppy for the spot."
(See "Whoopi Goldberg", above; quote - "crudely to mock him without purpose. There's no dissent in that and it reflects poorly on her.")
Dissent or dishonor?
(Careful, trick question.)
Well, it's dissent. She's simply making fun of John Edwards. Although to be fair, short of Newt Gingrich, Coulter would have been displeased by anyone Kerry picked.
(Just a little harmless, dissenting fun. Ann is so cute when she does that!)
Once again, dissent must be protected, but dishonorable behavior must be condemned.

And that's "The Memo."
(And that's your "fair and balanced" spoon-feeding for the day. Amen. Vote for Bush.)


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Wastin' away in Rightwing Heaven

Just about anything that issues out of Bush's mouth is outrageous, but today the most important thing to me is the fact that we have no running water. And it's hot as blazes with humidity that stifles breathing.

When Mr. Andante's morning shower pooped out on him, he looked out the front window to see a nice gusher of red mud. Break in the water line.

A very nice plumber-fellow (who is probably worth twice what he's charging)is digging up more red mud in the 90+ steambath.

At least it's not an electrical outtage. I'm reduced to a complete blithering idiot without electricity.

I don't mind a respite from washing dishes or doing laundry, but I do look forward to flushing the toilet again.

The next giant sucking sound you hear will be from my house....

Guardsmen choose not to re-enlist
Almost two-thirds of Indiana National Guardsmen in a battalion that spent a year in Iraq chose not to re-enlist when their service time expired.

Over the past 21 months, the service contracts of 102 soldiers in the 1st Battalion of the 152nd Regiment expired. Of those, 32, or less than one-third, chose to re-enlist.

The unit typically keeps 85 percent of its members, a sergeant in charge of retaining members said.
Keep in mind these men and women also count towards our "first responders" in the event of emergency.
Before the war, the unit had 650 members. Now the regiment headquartered about 40 miles northeast of Evansville has about 530 soldiers left, The Herald reported in a story today.

In early 2003, 610 of the members were deployed to Iraq.

"That one big word, 'deployment,' has done more damage than anything," said Sgt. 1st Class Gary Love, who is in charge of convincing soldiers to stay.

"What killed us was the stop-loss," Love said. "There wasn't a whole lot we could do."
Can you blame them? These folks are rightly proud of their service, but they need to get back to their regular lives and "day jobs" occasionally.

U.S. Seeks to Protect Afghan Elections
The U.S. military has launched a new operation in Afghanistan that will use thousands of American troops to protect the upcoming presidential election, the top American commander told The Associated Press Tuesday.

The operation, named Lightning Resolve, is "kicking off as we speak," Lt. Gen. David Barno said in an interview at his headquarters in the Afghan capital.
Very nice. And when they're done, perhaps we can bring some troops home to share some of that Lightning Resolve with U.S. citizens?

As the Bush administration constantly tells us - terrorists are planning to disrupt our elections. Be afraid; be very afraid.

But we're safer now that Saddam is in the pokey. Much safer.

Go about your everyday activities.

But be vigilant.

And afraid.


Monday, July 12, 2004

Issues are very seldom black and white

As a general rule, Collective Sigh does not approve of wife-beating; particularly since the proprietor is a wife herself.

But there are exceptions, as in accidents. Come to think of it, that's the ONLY exception.

So, go give poor NTodd some love....

Newsweek poll: Kerry 47, Bush 44

According to The Polling Report, the latest Newsweek poll (July 8-9) tells us the following:

Bush voters are southern Republican white men, 50 and older, residents of the rural and suburban areas.

Mr. Andante is a yellow-dog Democrat but he meets all the other criteria.

I think I'll smack him, just in case.


Sunday, July 11, 2004

Outsourcing the working poor

Not only have private contractors presented ridiculous security and supply problems in Iraq, it's hitting hard at home, too.

From the LA Times (subscription required; it's worth it) - Contract Workers Seek the American Dream in Iraq

Horry County, South Carolina is a perfect example. It's home to Myrtle Beach - vacation destination for many East Coasters (my family included).
The schools are great. It's a great area to raise a family. But to survive on the money they pay here, it's ridiculous," (firefighter Darrin) Grant said.

Here, as in much of the Deep South, wages are among the lowest in the nation. A firefighter or police officer in Horry County starts at around $25,000 a year, with raises that come slow and small. Most of the men moonlight as grass-cutters or Wal-Mart clerks or by parking cars at the ritzy beach resorts to make ends meet. On his days off, Grant drove a limousine.

Contract work in Iraq not only pays wildly more, but as much as $80,000 can be tax free. Fat bonuses are offered for extending a tour.


Two other Horry County firefighters resigned in a single week. The county police force has lost seven members since last winter. Six more have resigned from agencies in neighboring counties. For every person who has signed up for Iraq, at least two more are considering it, those in the department say.

And for most of them, the reasons are much the same. Outwardly living a modest version of the American dream — steady jobs, decent housing, food, clothes, toys for their young kids — they have in fact been locked in a grinding effort just to stay afloat.
Among a number of national disgraces, the fact that our firefighters and police are considered "working poor" is at the top of the list.

Let's recap:

We've been dragged into a quagmire by false pretenses.

Our military is stretched past it's limits.

Essential military services are being provided - or in many cases, provided inadequately or NOT being provided at all - by unarmed civilian contractors who are being paid small fortunes in taxpayer money.

Our essential firefighters and police are being lured away from our shores, creating enormous difficulties for communities.

This is "homeland security"?


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