Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Bush Calls Human Rights Report 'Absurd' - Yahoo! News
Bushie echoes Dickie. But wait! If you read to the end of this post, there's a (not really) surprise!

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Tuesday dismissed a human rights report as "absurd" for its harsh criticism of U.S. treatment of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the allegations were made by prisoners "who hate America."

Yes, we know, George. Everyone who disagrees or is critical "hates America". *yawn*

"It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world," Bush said of the Amnesty International report that compared Guantanamo to a Soviet-era gulag.

Uh, guys? Someone better cue Rummy in on the new playbook. We're at war with Eurasia, not Eastasia. Or whatever.

The folks at Think Progress have this wonderful find.

But in the past, when it was convenient to the Administration, they did not hesitate to cite Amnesty to make its case. And nowhere did the Administration need more help than in selling the Iraq war. Secretary Rumsfeld repeatedly turned to Amnesty to highlight the repressive nature of Saddam’s regime. On March 27, 2003, Rumsfeld said:

We know that it’s a repressive regime…Anyone who has read Amnesty International or any of the human rights organizations about how the regime of Saddam Hussein treats his people…

The next day, Rumsfeld even cited his “careful reading” of Amnesty:

…[I]t seems to me a careful reading of Amnesty International or the record of Saddam Hussein, having used chemical weapons on his own people as well as his neighbors, and the viciousness of that regime, which is well known and documented by human rights organizations, ought not to be surprised.

And on April 1, 2003, Rumsfeld said once again:

[I]f you read the various human rights groups and Amnesty International’s description of what they know has gone on, it’s not a happy picture.

So the rule here appears to be: Amnesty is a legitimate source for human rights violations of other countries, but is an unreliable and irresponsible source for reporting on the U.S.

Gotcha. Again. Wake the fuck up, America.

CNN.com - Cheney offended by Amnesty criticism - May 31, 2005
Hey, but we are spreading freedom, right? That absolves us from everything else we do, right? It does in Dick's world.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday he was offended by Amnesty International's condemnation of the United States for what it called "serious human rights violations" at Guantanamo Bay.

"For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously," he said in an interview that aired Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."

Amnesty International was scathing last week in its criticism of the way the United States has run the detention center at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"We have documented that the U.S. government is a leading purveyor and practitioner of the odious human rights violation," William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said Wednesday.

On its Web site, the London, England-based human rights group says: "As evidence of torture and widespread cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment mounts, it is more urgent than ever that the U.S. government bring the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and any other facilities it is operating outside the USA into full compliance with international law and standards. The only alternative is to close them down."

So, Dick isn't offended by torture, he's offended by reports of torture. I get it. AI shoots back-

Schulz responded to Cheney's comments: "It doesn't matter whether he takes Amnesty International seriously.

"He doesn't take torture seriously; he doesn't take the Geneva Convention seriously; he doesn't take due process rights seriously; and he doesn't take international law seriously.

"And that is more important than whether he takes Amnesty International seriously."

More arrogance from this administration. Sure to win friends are we.

Bill requires ultrasound prior to an abortion
Wonder who is going to pay for this. I find it interesting that the people who are calling for more government intrusion into our private lives are the sames ones who refuse to pay for it.

LANSING - All women seeking abortions would be required to submit to ultrasound procedures under legislation being taken up this week in the state Senate.

The bill, pushed by abortion opponents, is the latest test of lawmakers' personal beliefs on the sensitive issue. It passed the House on a 69-37 vote last week.

Ultrasound would become an additional mandate in Michigan's informed consent law, which requires women considering abortions to receive medically accurate information before ending their pregnancies. A diagnostic technique, ultrasound produces a fuzzy, TV-like image of the fetus inside the mother's womb.

Doctors and nurses would have to offer abortion seekers the opportunity to view these images. The expectant mothers, however, would not be required to look at them.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, whose signature would be required to make the bill law, doesn't support it as passed by the House.

"It places government in the middle of people's most personal and intimate medical decisions, a highly inappropriate place for politicians to be," said the governor's spokeswoman, Liz Boyd.

"It purports to be about informing women, yet House members chose not to include an amendment that would have given them information about avoiding unintended pregnancies," she added.

Requiring an ultrasound in all cases would drive up medical care costs, creating hardship for low-income women and those in rural areas who already may have to drive a considerable distance to a clinic where abortions are available, they contend.

During the debate, Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith called the legislation an effort "to coerce a pregnant woman from the exercise of her legal right to choose. Should this bill pass, for the first time the Michigan Legislature will mandate the use of a medically unnecessary procedure," said Smith, D-South Lyon.

This is why we need Granholm. We need her vetoes to keep these people at bay. She is the only thing standing between us and complete insanity.

IF we had a Republican Governor, chances are these following bills would have succeeded-

A bill to ban partial birth abortions with NO regards to the health and life of the mother, that same bill also sought to define the "beginning of life".

A bill that would have banned local city governments from setting their own living- wage laws, which would have lowered wages for some working people in expensive cities.

A bill that would have required couples to receive pre-marriage counseling, yet more intrusion into private decisions. This bill also mandated that divorcing couples receive counseling.

These are just a few. The choice is obvious to me- we elect a Republican governor with this Republican legislature, expect all kinds of laws based on other people's need to force their vision of "morality" into your life.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Is It Just Me?:

...or does Channel 8 have a Republican bias? Here's the reason for my argument-

Today, the Governor of our fine state, Jennifer Granholm, marched in our Memorial Day Parade. Now, I believe that that is an honor to our city- of all the towns in Michigan having a parade today, she chose us. Wouldn't you think that it would make local news coverage?

Here's Channel 8's write-up of the story.

(I just saw their report on the parade on the news at 5, and the copy read just like the web page- which explains why their web pages read so poorly. I think they take them right off the teleprompter.)

That "one speaker" that read the names of the Iraq War dead from Michigan was none other than Michael Sak(D). Also in attendance was our Mayor George Heartwell, Rep. Jerry Kooiman (gag! -but, hey, I freely admit my bias), Paul Mayhue, and probably some others that I didn't recognize.

Left to right: Granholm, Sak, Kooiman and Heartwell.

Channel 8 doesn't mention any of them in regards to the parade. What they do report on when it concerns the Governor being here comes at 5:30, and it's a hatchet job about revenue sharing to the cities. In this piece, they mention Heartwell's attack on the cuts, and they interview Kooiman, who claims that the Governor's budget would raise taxes (!the horror!) to save revenue sharing, and God forbid, the Legislature wouldn't go for that.

At 6, they moved the story up to 2nd on the list, and expanded on it just a bit, but it still essentially said the same things. Raising taxes! If I was more ambitious, I would go look up exactly what they are talking about when they say that, but I don't want to pour through pages of state documents to find out. What taxes? Whose taxes? And if that was true, why wasn't the media screaming about it before?

Let's peruse Channel 13's website. Front page (as of this typing) has a story on Granholm being here. Nice little story, right to the point. Doesn't get into the budget or any of that bullshit. Just a report on the reason for the Governor's visit, which was Memorial Day.

Hmmmm. Maybe it's just me. But after Rick Albin practically bending over backwards the other day to correct the "figures" on the DeVos's political contributions, and the constant stream of reports critical of Lansing, it makes me wonder just who is directing the circus at WOOD and what their agenda is.

Editorial: Memorial Day/Praise bravery, seek forgiveness
Registration required, but worth it. The words "Bush" and "lied" together in an editorial, and goes on to talk about the Downing Street memo, which I hope will be on everyone's lips before the end of the summer. (but I'm not holding my breath) Gentlemen, start your impeachment engines!

In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse.

Anybody in America with a memory of Richard Nixon should know to expect "untruths" from those in power. That's why this blind worship of Bush (and Reagan before him, and maybe some extent Bill Clinton, who I had no problem criticizing when he pissed me off) baffles me so.

Gov. Granholm addresses the Memorial Day crowd in downtown Grand Rapids.

Nice speech, short and sweet. She is a lot shorter and skinnier than I thought.

From last year, it's an oldie but a goodie.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Prior Goes on DL With Broken Right Elbow - Yahoo! News

CHICAGO - Cubs right-hander Mark Prior was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday, one day after he was hit in the right elbow by a line drive. An MRI showed a compression fracture near the elbow, Cubs trainer Mark O'Neal said.

Prior, O'Neal and Cubs manager Dusty Baker would not speculate how long Prior, who has been on the disabled list five times since joining the Cubs in 2002, would be out.

Prior started this season on the disabled list with inflammation in the elbow, delaying his first start until April 13. In nine starts this year, he is 4-1 with a 2.93 ERA.

The Cubs recalled right-hander Roberto Novoa from Iowa of the Pacific Coast League to take Prior's roster spot. Novoa was 1-1 with Iowa with three saves and a 2.78 ERA. In an earlier recall to the Cubs from April 27 to May 9, he was 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in five games.

Prior was injured in the fourth inning of Friday night's 10-3 victory over Colorado. The Rockies' Brad Hawpe led off the inning and drove a liner that ricocheted off Prior's elbow. Prior collapsed and writhed in pain on the mound before being helped off the field by the training staff and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

I don't believe in curses...but...man... I have to say that this might be the death knell for this year.

All I know is- Matt Clement is on my TV right now (5-0, 3.29 ERA) and I really miss him. Had a feeling it was a bad idea to let him go.

Wave bye-bye to LaTroy Hawkins. It's too bad that we didn't use him the way he should have been used. He'll probably go on to prosper in SF. Good luck LaTroy.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Critics Question Timing of Santorum Bill
Not only is Rick Santorum a whore, he's a cheap whore...and my apologies to all the whores out there for linking you with Rick.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Two days before Sen. Rick Santorum introduced a bill that critics say would restrict the National Weather Service, his political action committee received a $2,000 donation from the chief executive of AccuWeather Inc., a leading provider of weather data.

The disclosure has renewed criticism of the measure, which Santorum, R-Pa., maintains would allow the weather service to better focus on its core mission of getting threatening weather info out in a "timely and speedy basis."

Opponents say the bill would endanger the public by preventing the dissemination of certain weather data, and force taxpayers to pay for the data twice. The bill would prevent the weather service from competing for certain services offered by the private sector.

AccuWeather, based in State College, Pa., provides weather data to a variety of outlets, including media organizations such as The Associated Press.

Santorum said the $2,000 contribution, received from AccuWeather CEO Joel Myers on April 12, came during a fundraiser in State College that happened to be two days before the bill was filed. He said he has worked on the issue for three years.

The donation was disclosed in the April filing to the FEC by Santorum's PAC, America's Foundation.

"I don't think there's any coincidence between the two," Santorum said. "It's just that I happened to have a fundraiser in the town he was in."

Combined, Joel Myers and his brother, Barry Myers, AccuWeather's executive vice president, have donated more than $11,000 to Santorum and the Republican Party since 2003, according to FEC filings compiled by PoliticalMoneyLine, a campaign finance tracking group.

Wow, only 11 grand for a bill that can make you millions? Damn, where do I buy me one of those congresscritters? That's a handy pet to have.
Minor League Update:
Vasquez makes it a done duel in SeaWolves win May 23, 2005

Virgil Vasquez pitched eight innings of one-hit ball and faced two batters over the minimum as the Erie SeaWolves eked out a 1-0 victory over the Akron Aeros on Monday night in front of 7,602 at Canal Park.

Vasquez, making his first start for the SeaWolves since being promoted from the Lakeland Tigers last week, retired the first 16 batters he faced before Aeros catcher Javi Herrera cracked a double to left in the sixth. Herrera went to third on a groundout, but was stranded when Eider Torres popped up to end the inning.

Vasquez (1-0) then retired seven in a row before issuing a walk to Jonathan Van Every with two outs in the eighth. Van Every was thrown out trying to steal second, ending the inning. Vasquez had five strikeouts. He was 4-1 with a 4.21 ERA for Lakeland before getting promoted.

Virgil was the subject of a few of my pictures last year. I had a chat with him before the championship game last Sept. Nice guy. Go get 'em Virg!

Democrats Force Delay of Bolton Final Vote - Yahoo! News
Joe Biden must be reading my blog.

WASHINGTON - Democrats said they hoped the Senate's vote to delay confirmation of John R. Bolton as U.N. ambassador would force the White House to release long-sought classified information about the embattled nominee, or perhaps to pick someone else for the job.

In a renewal of intense partisanship, the Senate put off a final vote on Bolton on Thursday, the latest setback for the tough-talking conservative whom President Bush has called strong medicine for corruption and inefficiency at the United Nations.

Democrats forced the delay in part because they claim that the White House has stonewalled on information that might prove damaging to Bolton, whose brusque style Democrats said would be ill-suited to U.N. diplomacy.

"I would hope the president will think about what happened here," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif. "I hope cooler heads will prevail and we see a new nominee."

The procedural vote to advance Bolton's nomination to a confirmation vote was 56-42, four short of the 60 votes that Bolton's Republican backers needed.

Republicans hold a 55-44 majority in the Senate, with one independent, and the White House has predicted repeatedly that Bolton would eventually win confirmation.

A final vote on Bolton will not take place until at least June, after the Senate returns from a Memorial Day recess.

The outcome raised questions about Bush's ability to win speedy confirmation of some of his more ideologically conservative appointees as he begins his second term in the White House. And it was a setback for Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who was hoping to end nearly three months of delays and investigation and finally deliver Bolton's nomination for the president.

Frist said the Bolton matter soured the air of cooperation the two parties' centrists forged just days ago after months of wrangling over Bush's judicial nominees.

"John Bolton, the very first issue we turned to, we got what looks to me like a filibuster," Frist said. "It certainly sounds like a filibuster ... it quacks like a filibuster."

Uh, Bill? A filibuster is used to delay a vote indefinitely. This was a vote to extend debate, and you know it. But feel free to be a sensationalist, lying little prick. Let's not mention the fact that a vote will be held as soon as your masters release information that was asked for a few months ago.

"We're not here to filibuster Mr. Bolton," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, referring to the procedural step that can be used to block nominations and legislation. "We're here to get information on Mr. Bolton."

Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the vote on Bolton could be held immediately after the recess if the White House provides the desired information.

Way to go guys and gals. Keep up the good work.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Republican senator urges vote against Bolton - Yahoo! News
One has to wonder why Mr. Voinovich let Bolton out of committee if he felt this strongly. Dude was practically crying on the Senate floor, citing concern for his grandkids. Interestingly enough, this story does not point that out, but I saw the clip on ABC last night.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican senator tried to convince his colleagues on Wednesday to reject John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations as the Senate headed toward a vote on President Bush's contentious pick.

Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, the one Republican to openly oppose Bolton, urged senators not to vote for him simply out of loyalty to the president. Voinovich said they should consider whether he had shown a record of abusive, erratic behavior that should disqualify him for the sensitive diplomatic job.

"Opponents have argued that Secretary Bolton's personality will prevent him from being effective at the U.N., but his diplomatic successes over the last four years belie that expectation," said Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Republicans aimed for a vote on Thursday on Bolton, currently the top U.S. diplomat for arms control, and expected he would be confirmed largely along party lines.

But at Democrats' insistence, the Senate was slated to hold a procedural vote on Thursday that could delay his confirmation until after Congress' Memorial Day recess next week.

If they fail to get the 41 votes out of 100 required to extend the debate on the nomination, Democrats agreed to go immediately to a vote on Bolton on Thursday.

Democrats wanted time to make a last demand the administration turn over documents they said would shed more light on whether Bolton tried to tamper with intelligence assessments.

If the Senate fails to insist on the information, "We weaken the ability of this place to do its job. And that's really what's at stake in the debate here," said Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd.

Democrats, joined by Voinovich, contend Bolton is a hard-line conservative ideologue and a bully who tried to pressure intelligence officials into making their findings support his political views.

What are the odds of the WH releasing those documents? Slim and none. I wish they would vote him down just for that, run to the media and claim "Well, we would have given him a fair vote, but the WH withheld the documents to make that possible". Put it right back on George.
The White House and most Republicans have said senators had seen more than enough information to decide on Bolton, and accused Democrats of deliberately stalling the nomination.

Accuse, obfuscate, deny. Same shit, different day. I'd love to see Biden come out and say, "Yes, we are deliberately stalling until you provide the information. So? We have that right." Make them answer for their behavior.

Why don't they do that? Stand up!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

US undermines rights, Guantanamo like 'gulag'- Amnesty - Yahoo! News
Wait till it's one of our boys (or girls). Then the howls will begin.

LONDON (Reuters) - Four years after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, human rights are in retreat worldwide and the United States bears most responsibility, Amnesty International said on Wednesday, calling Guantanamo prison "the gulag of our times."

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe the picture is bleak. Governments are increasingly rolling back the rule of law, taking their cue from the U.S.-led war on terror, the London-based human rights group said.

"The USA as the unrivaled political, military and economic hyper-power sets the tone for governmental behavior worldwide," Secretary General Irene Khan said in the foreword to Amnesty International's 2005 annual report.

"When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a license to others to commit abuse with impunity," she added.

The report cited the pictures last year of abuse of detainees at Iraq's U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison, which it said were never adequately investigated, and the detention without trial of "enemy combatants" at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law," Khan said.

In Washington, the White House said the report was "ridiculous and unsupported by the facts."

"The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity. We have liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have worked to advance freedom and democracy in the world ...," said spokesman Scott McClellan.

How in the fuck do you sleep at night, McClellan? My God, your nose must be about nine feet long by now.

Abstract Aunt Polly.

Many Republicans Are Already Eager to Challenge Agreement on Filibusters - New York Times
Not surprising. Republicans are liars. Deal breakers. Extremists. Bullies. Lather, rinse, repeat.

WASHINGTON, May 24 - Angered by a bipartisan deal on judicial nominees, many Senate Republicans warned on Tuesday that they were already eager to challenge the agreement by pushing forward contested candidates, as the Senate cleared the way for the confirmation of the first Bush choice to benefit from the deal.

"This deal is really no deal until it plays out at length," said Senator Larry E. Craig, Republican of Idaho, who said he wanted a vote soon after Memorial Day on the nomination of William G. Myers III, a candidate whose fate was left uncertain in the deal.

Just a day after the agreement broke an impasse that had vexed the Senate and the Bush administration for years, senators on both sides of the aisle portrayed the new framework as fragile. Republicans in particular said the bipartisan deal, brokered by seven Democrats and seven Republicans on the eve of a showdown that could have crippled the Senate, would survive only if Democrats refrained from filibustering other emerging nominees, including some who were not guaranteed a vote in the last-minute agreement.

Other Republicans threatened to immediately invoke what some have called the nuclear option - doing away with the filibuster against judicial candidates - if Democrats tried to block any nominee except in the most extreme cases.

"This is merely a truce; it's not a treaty yet," said Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and a senior member of the Judiciary Committee.

First of all, the Republicans coined the term "nuclear option"- don't give me this "some have called" line. Second, the option was supposed to be off the table for this batch of judges. Already they are threatening to break their end of the bargain. Perhaps they are just putting on a good show for the wailing "Fristians" out there, all those spoiled children who are now crying because they can't have all the cookies.

Shocked! Shocked, I tell you!


It's going to be a long four years.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

House to Vote on Stem Cell Research Bills - Yahoo! News
I would love to see this pass and have Bush veto it. This would put the "Christian agenda" up front and personal for a lot of people who are afflicted with the diseases that this research could help.

WASHINGTON - Two bills that would loosen restrictions on stem cell research take center stage in the House, with disease victims pleading for help and President Bush vowing to veto legislation he says would let science destroy life to save life.

"This is not an easy vote for many Republicans ... and some Democrats, too, because you have pro-life and other arguments," said the sponsor of the more controversial bill, Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del. "There's a lot of tide against them voting for it."

If I'm not mistake, that statement is complete and total bullshit. The last I heard, the public was overwhelmingly in favor of this research. If they are afraid to vote for it because of a rabid minority of people, then they are cowards who are hurting the rest of us.

Before voting takes place Tuesday, Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas was to speak. Like Bush, DeLay, who is known for enforcing discipline on Republican ranks, is opposed to the bill by Castle and Diana DeGette, D-Colo.

The Castle-DeGette bill would lift Bush's 2001 ban on new federally funded research on embryonic stem cells, a process that requires the destruction of human embryos.

Another bill sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Artur Davis, D-Ala., has wide bipartisan support and backing from Bush. It would provide $79 million in federal money to increase the amount of umbilical cord blood for stem cell research and treatment and establish a national database for patients looking for matches.

Many lawmakers said they planned to vote for both stem cell research bills Tuesday.

Decrying science that destroys life to prolong other life, Bush last week promised to veto the Castle-DeGette bill, and some lawmakers were taking note.

The sponsors, who have been counting votes for weeks, predicted the bill would garner the 218 votes needed for passage but fall short of the 290 votes needed to sustain a veto.

The votes of about 20 members of both parties still were up for grabs, Castle said.

Driving the debate over these bills is deep emotion behind the promise — disputed in some camps — that stem cell research could provide treatment and perhaps cures for diseases as diverse as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and childhood diabetes.

Yes, we all know how sacred "life" is to this President. *cough*

Senators Avoid Fight Over Filibusters - Yahoo! News
"You say poTAto, I say potaTo...let's call the whole thing off!" But, they haven't really called anything off, except for another big showdown when a Supreme comes up for nomination and debate.

The agreement, crafted over the past several weeks by seven Republicans and seven Democrats, also opened the way for yes-or-no votes on two other of President Bush's judicial picks who have been in nomination limbo for more than two years — William H. Pryor Jr. for the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Janice Rogers Brown for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The agreement, which applies to Supreme Court nominees, said future judicial nominations should "only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances," with each Democratic senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.

But of greater import, the deal on the rights of the minority party to filibuster judicial nominees avoids a showdown that could have shaken the traditions of the Senate, weakened the powers of the minority and threatened the comity the Senate needs to function.

And there were other political implications, as well, including the shape of the Supreme Court, the midterm election in 2006, Bush's legislative agenda and the next presidential race, especially the prospects for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and potential GOP rival Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

"We tried to avert a crisis in the United States Senate and pull the institution back from a precipice," said McCain, who led the compromise effort with Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

Frist, who had joined with party conservatives in pressing for an end to judicial filibusters, stressed that he was not a party to the agreement. He said he hoped it would end a "miserable chapter in the history of the Senate," but said that what he called the "constitutional option" was still on the table. He said he "will monitor this agreement closely."

So we are stuck with Owen, Pryor and Brown. The rest go bye-bye. That's good and bad, but the best part of all of this is that Frist looks whipped. The Theocrats wanted it all, and they didn't get it. Here's Evil Incarnate himself, Spongebob Dobson, on the deal-

Dr. James C. Dobson, head of the Focus on the Family, one of the conservative groups that had made an end to judicial filibusters a top priority, said the agreement "represents a complete bailout and a betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats." Only three of President Bush's nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals.

"We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust."

"Waaaaah! We're going to make you paaaay!" Fuck off, Jim. Awww, the conservatives feel abandoned. How sad. Time to play the "victim" card once again.

If Dobson is unhappy, then, YEA! for us. Must be something good happened. But, I can see this coming around again (and again and again). For now, the steamroller stops. Sort of.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Gas Prices Drop by Average of 6 Cents - Yahoo! News
Why am I not buying the reasoning here?

CAMARILLO, Calif. - The average gasoline price nationwide for all grades tumbled 6 cents in two weeks, continuing a slide in pump prices that began last month, an industry analyst said Sunday.

The average retail price for all three grades dropped 6.37 cents to $2.18 per gallon between May 6 and Friday, said Trilby Lundberg, who publishes the semimonthly Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations around the country.

The most popular grade, self-serve regular, was priced at $2.15 a gallon, while customers paid $2.25 for midgrade. Premium averaged $2.35 a gallon for the period.

Average gasoline prices spiked 49 cents per gallon between Jan. 1 and April 8, when prices began to drop as a result of several factors including an increased supply of both crude oil and gasoline and the completion of some maintenance projects that had reduced capacity at the nation's refineries.

Oil prices began skyrocketing in March, hitting a peak of $57.27 a barrel at the beginning of April. Prices have since receded and now hover above $47 a barrel.

The highest average gas price in the nation for regular unleaded among the stations surveyed was $2.51 a gallon in San Francisco. The lowest was $1.94 in Jackson, Miss.

What do you want to bet the China and India's demands for oil, the excuse for the big price increase in the late winter, have not dropped off one bit, and probably have actually increased? So how come there is an "increased supply" now? It seems to me what happened is this-

The "people" started to bitch a little too much for Republican comfort, so Big Oil dropped back a bit on their record taking profits. They will settle for $6 billion this quarter instead of $8. A 30% increase instead of 40%.

Just a hunch.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Bush gets mixed reception at Christian college - Yahoo! News
So PROUD of my little town!

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Reuters) - President Bush on Saturday championed faith in American society, but ran into some criticism as courted his Christian base in a commencement speech at a Michigan college.

"We need to support and encourage the institutions and pursuits that bring us together. And we learn how to come together by participating in our churches and temples and mosques and synagogues," Bush told graduating seniors at Calvin College, a Christian liberal-arts college.

The college describes itself as a "center of faith-anchored liberal arts teaching and scholarship," and Bush has aggressively sought to reinforce his support among religious conservatives who helped deliver him a reelection victory in 2004.

But anti-Bush ads that ran in the local newspaper, protests outside the event and buttons worn on graduates' robes made clear that many students and faculty objected to Bush's policies.

"We believe your administration has launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq," said a letter signed by about one-third the college's 300 faculty members and published in Saturday's Grand Rapids Press.

"As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers and to initiate war only as a last resort," it said.

The letter criticized economic policies that it said favored the wealthy over the poor, and faulted Bush for mixing religion and politics and exhibiting and "intolerance" for others' views.

A few dozen protesters gathered outside, carrying signs that read, "Conservatives and moderates reject extremism" and "Thou shalt not torture."

Hmmmm. When I first read this story last night it said "several dozen". That's interesting. Channel 8 pegged the number at 300. (although it doesn't say that in that link, I heard it on their report) That's more than a "few dozen".

Anyway, whatever the number, it feels good to see my very "red" area get up and protest. I would have gone out there, but, quite frankly, I figured the traffic would be a nightmare at that corner and I didn't want to deal with it. No place to park. I know, pretty lazy of me, but there you have it.

Yea for Grand Rapids!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

White House wants FBI to be able to track mail-NYT - Yahoo! News
Just a little bit more, everyday...pretty soon we will wonder how that camera got into the corner of the living room. Or why the library wants our fingerprints.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Bush administration proposal would grant the FBI broad authority to track the mail of people in terrorism investigations, The New York Times reported in its Saturday editions.

Citing government officials who spoke on Friday, the newspaper reported that the proposal, to be considered next week in a closed-door Senate Intelligence Committee meeting, would allow the FBI to direct postal officials to turn in names, addresses and other material on the outside of letters sent to or from people connected to foreign intelligence investigations.

But the Postal Service is raising privacy concerns about the plan to carry out such operations, called mail covers, the Times said.

According to a draft of the bill obtained by the Times, the plan would effectively eliminate postal inspectors' discretion in deciding when mail covers are needed, giving sole authority to the FBI, if it decides that the material is "relevant to an authorized investigation to obtain foreign intelligence."

The proposal would not allow the FBI to open mail or review its contents, however. According to the officials who spoke to the Times, that would require a search warrant.

Use UPS! Oh wait, there's more...

The proposal is part of a larger package that strengthens the FBI's authority to demand business records in intelligence gathering without judicial or grand jury approval, the Times said.

Can't wait to see this "larger package". Or maybe I can.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Senate nears showdown on judges - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With time running out, a small group of lawmakers said on Thursday they were inching toward a deal to avert a historic Senate confrontation that could strip Democrats of their power to block President Bush's most conservative judicial nominees.

Following a week of mixed signals, members of this group of about a dozen largely moderate senators voiced guarded optimism and vowed to keep trying, possibly right up to climactic votes next week. Talks broke up late on Thursday, and were to resume on Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, is set to force a showdown Tuesday and likely seek a vote to abolish use of procedural roadblocks known as filibusters against candidates for federal courts -- including the Supreme Court. With a handful of Republicans undeclared, it is not certain that Frist will prevail.

But Democrats, angry at what they see as an erosion of the power of the minority party to sway events in the Senate, say if the judicial filibuster is abolished, they will retaliate and create obstacles for many of Bush's legislative priorities.

Despite the slow pace of negotiations, participants said too much was at stake to give up.

Sen. Robert Byrd, the long-serving West Virginia Democrat, said he had put forth the idea of depoliticizing the process by having judges and scholars come up with a pool of potential nominees. A president would not have to draw from the pool, but could consider them.

During these negotiations, Democrats have sought a Republican pledge to preserve the judicial filibuster through 2006. In exchange, the centrist Democrats said they would not back a filibuster except in extreme circumstances. Getting language acceptable to both sides has been a challenge.

No retreat. No surrender. Don't believe anything the Pubs "say" they will or will not do, because they FLAT OUT LIE.

Very pissed that they are even considering ANY sort of compromise on these extremists that Bush has nominated. They were shot down for a reason. If even one of them gets through, it will embolden the Pubs to even more outrageous behavior, and there will be no stopping them.

This is it, kids. It's now or never. Or, it's now until 2006. Think of the damage that can be done in the meantime.

In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths - New York Times
Perhaps this is the sort of stuff that Scott McClellan would have Newsweek publish in regards to "military practices". Warning: Not for the squeamish. Or anyone with any sense of decency.

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

Once again, I am embarrassed and ashamed of my country. There are no words I can say, except, I am terribly sorry for what is being done in our name. And that's just not enough. But what can one person do?

Karma is a nasty thing, and I have a feeling the US is in for a mighty kickback one of these days.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Reid: Bush, GOP Seek to Reinvent Reality - Yahoo! News
Give 'em hell, Harry!

WASHINGTON - Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid accused President Bush Thursday of trying to "rewrite the Constitution and reinvent reality" in a drive to weaken Senate filibuster rules and install out-of-the-mainstream conservatives on the federal bench.

But the Senate's second-ranking Republican accused Democrats of "unprecedented obstruction" that prevented confirmation votes and upended more than two centuries of tradition.

Reid and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made their comments on the second day of debate over Bush's stalled nominees and venerable filibuster rules as centrists struggled unsuccessfully for a compromise that could avert a showdown. "I don't know whether we're going to have it in the next hour or not at all, but you have to keep working," said Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., emerging from the closed-door session.

Both parties used staged events off the Senate floor to push racial politics to the forefront.

Restricting the ability of Democrats to block final votes on several of Bush's most controversial nominees "would be particularly offensive to people of color," members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote Majority Leader Bill Frist during the day. "All of the major legislation that today bars racial discrimination in voting, employment and housing was passed after filibusters" were broken, it said.

For his part, Frist, R-Tenn., arranged to attend a mid-afternoon news conference with an organization of black pastors. The group favors a yes-or-no vote on Janice Rogers Brown, an African-American member of the California Supreme Court. Bush has named her to the federal appeals court, and Democrats have vowed to block her confirmation.

*sigh* Let's all play the race card. Jesus H Christ.

I can't watch it. I've tried, but it seems everytime I flip it over there Orrin Hatch is on. No thanks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Likely Script for The 'Nuclear Option'
Here comes my 19th Nervous Breakdown...

The "nuclear option" will have a long fuse.

If all goes as planned, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) will rise after several days of debate beginning today over one of President Bush's judicial nominees and call for an end to Democrats' delaying tactics. The presiding officer will then rule in his favor.

Democrats will protest the ruling and ask for a vote to overturn it. The Republican leader will seek to table that appeal. If Frist and the GOP majority prevail, a long tradition of filibustering will be narrowed and a new precedent will be set allowing the Republicans to force a vote on a nomination with a simple majority instead of three-fifths of the Senate.

Republicans hold 55 of the seats in the chamber, and until now they have needed 60 votes to end debate and force a vote. But Republicans believe they have figured out how to use the chamber's rules so that only a simple majority -- 51 votes -- is required to force an up-or-down vote.

To get there, Republicans will have to evade a requirement that they have a two-thirds vote -- 67 of 100 senators -- to change the chamber's rules. Republicans will argue that they are attempting to set a precedent, not change the Senate rules, to disallow the use of filibusters as a delaying tactic on judicial nominations. And by doing so, they say, they are returning to a more traditional concept of majority rule.

" 'Advise and consent' does not say, 'A supermajority is required,' " Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) said at a news conference yesterday in front of a backdrop that had a logo repeating "Fair Up or Down Vote" 72 times.

But Democrats contend that the Republicans are essentially breaking the rules to change the rules. "If there were ever an example of an abuse of power, this is it," said Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). "The filibuster is the last check we have against the abuse of power in Washington."

The rule change Frist is seeking to bar the use of the filibuster for judicial nominations has been dubbed the "nuclear option" because of its potential to disrupt the Senate and shatter what little comity remains between Republicans and Democrats.

If this shit goes down, all I can hope for is the Democrats to regain the majority someday and use this precedent to dance on some Republican heads. Time to get nasty, boys and girls.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsweek Urged to Do More to Repair Damage - Yahoo! News
What else can they do? How about "outing" their source at the Pentagon for starters. Somebody burned them good, and I for one would be interested to know if it was a WH plant.

WASHINGTON - The White House says Newsweek took a "good first step" by retracting its story that U.S. investigators found evidence interrogators at Guantanamo Bay desecrated the Quran, but it wants the magazine to do more to repair damage caused by the article.

Newsweek on Monday retracted the report in its May 9 issue after officials in the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department criticized its publication and its use of an anonymous source. Protests in Afghanistan, where more than a dozen people died and scores were injured in rioting, and demonstrations elsewhere in the Muslim world were blamed on the article.

McClellan said a retraction was only "a good first step" and said Newsweek should try to set the record straight by "clearly explaining what happened and how they got it wrong, particularly to the Muslim world, and pointing out the policies and practices of our military."

Um, Scottie, are you sure that you want them to "point out the practices of our military" in regards to interrogation techniques? No, I don't think you do. What a ludicrous statement.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, traveling home from Iraq, said, "It's appalling that this story got out there.

"I do think it's done a lot of harm," Rice said. "Of course, 16 people died but it's also done a lot of harm to America's efforts" to demonstrate tolerance and breed goodwill in the Muslim world.

"The sad thing was that there was a lot of anger that got stirred by a story that was not very well founded," Rice said.

U.S. officials did not deny the report when it first appeared.

"I hope that everybody will step back and take a look at how they handled this — everybody," Rice said. "We're always trying to improve our ability to deal with both reality when there is something like Abu Ghraib and when there is rumor or misinformation, we're trying to deal better with those circumstances, too."

And here, Condi tries the all too familiar tactic of tying two phrases together in a sentence-"Abu Ghraib" and "rumor and misinformation"- so they appear to go together. Think "Saddam" and "9/11". Clever girl. Let the spin begin. Pretty soon all the reports of torture will be doubted.

"People lost their lives. People are dead," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said. "People need to be very careful about what they say, just as they need to be careful about what they do."

Well, Don, I just can't improve on that one. I'll let you run with that.

Burn your source, Newsweek. I'm not kidding. The concept of "free press" is at stake here. Screw these "unnamed sources". It's beginning to look like a concentrated effort to destroy the credibility of "the press", and quite frankly, they don't need any help in that department.

BTW, here's another long list of Koran abuse reports, one dating back to 2003. This is not a new story, but if you listen to the American MSM, you'd think it was.


Monday, May 16, 2005

White House Wants Retraction From Newsweek - Yahoo! News
Let's play a game of "Follow the Logic" with your host, Scott McClellan.

NEW YORK - In an apology to readers this week, Newsweek acknowledged errors in a story alleging U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay desecrated the Quran. The accusations, which the magazine vowed to re-examine, spawned protests in Afghanistan that left 15 dead and scores injured.

Responding to harsh criticism from Muslim leaders worldwide, the Pentagon promised to investigate the charges and pinned the deadly clashes on Newsweek for what it described as "irresponsible" reporting.

"We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Editor Mark Whitaker wrote in the apology.

The White House said Monday that Newsweek's response was insufficient.

"It's puzzling. While Newsweek now acknowledges that they got the facts wrong, they refuse to retract the story," said presidential spokesman Scott McClellan. "I think there's a certain journalistic standard that should be met. In this instance it was not.

"This was a report based on a single anonymous source that could not substantiate the allegation that was made," McClellan added. "The report has had serious consequences. People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged. I just find it puzzling."

OK, Scott, so are you saying that journalists should have a higher standard than, let's say, oh, the CIA or any other of the "intelligence" sources that told us Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, providing an excuse for us to invade a country, whereupon thousands of lives were lost and we tortured people, and our image wasn't "damaged" by that? But Newsweek, acting on a source from the Pentagon itself, publishes a blurb that already has been reported for almost a year now, is the cause of all this unrest and our "damaged" image?

Un-fucking-believable. Just when I think they can't top themselves, they top themselves.

Edit: As of 5:29, Newsweek is retracting the story. Cowards.

Newsweek says Koran desecration report is wrong - Yahoo! News
I don't know what's worse- Newsweek backing down in the face of pressure, or perpetuating this story so it pisses off even more Muslims. Now we will be forced into proving that, yes, we really did desecrate the Koran, apparently on numerous occasions. Oh boy.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Newsweek magazine said on Sunday it erred in a May 9 report that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, and apologized to the victims of deadly Muslim protests sparked by the article.

Editor Mark Whitaker said the magazine inaccurately reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that personnel at the detention facility in Cuba had flushed the Muslim holy book down the toilet.

The report sparked angry and violent protests across the Muslim world from Afghanistan, where 16 were killed and more than 100 injured, to Pakistan to Indonesia to Gaza. In the past week it was condemned in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and by the Arab League.

On Sunday, Afghan Muslim clerics threatened to call for a holy war against the United States.

"We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Whitaker wrote in the magazine's latest issue, due to appear on U.S. newsstands on Monday.

The weekly news magazine said in its May 23 edition that the information had come from a "knowledgeable government source" who told Newsweek that a military report on abuse at Guantanamo Bay said interrogators flushed at least one copy of the Koran down a toilet in a bid to make detainees talk.

Alright then. But what of the reports of desecration of the Koran that stretch back as far as last year? The mighty reporters at Kos can site examples that reach as far back as August 2004, one from the Philadelphia Inquirer and others from the Center for Constitutional Rights in NYC.

This has been going on for quite some time. This is nothing new. You can't tell me that one little paragraph in Newsweek sparked all of this. It's simply part of the ongoing deflection of this administration to shift the blame for it's torture tactics onto the media for even reporting it. Shoot the messenger. It's OK if no one knows about it, right?

What will this do to the already chikenshit US media? Will we ever hear the truth, or will they be too afraid of retaliation?

We are so screwed.

Priest Denies Gays' Supporters Communion - Yahoo! News
Some sins are greater than others...

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Roman Catholic priest denied communion to more than 100 people Sunday, saying they could not receive the sacrament because they wore rainbow-colored sashes to church to show support for gay Catholics.

Before offering communion, the Rev. Michael Sklucazek told the congregation at the Cathedral of St. Paul that anyone wearing a sash could come forward for a blessing but would not receive wine and bread.

A group called the Rainbow Sash Alliance has encouraged supporters to wear the multicolored fabric bands since 2001 on each Pentecost Sunday, the day Catholics believe the Holy Spirit came to give power to Christians soon after Jesus ascended to heaven. But Sunday's service was the first time they had been denied communion at the altar.

Archbishop Harry Flynn told the group earlier this month that they would not receive communion because the sashes had become a protest against church teaching.

Sister Gabriel Herbers said she wore a sash to show sympathy for the gay and lesbian community. Their sexual orientation "is a gift from God just as much as my gift of being a female is," she said.

Ann McComas-Bussa did not wear a sash, but she and her husband and three children all wore rainbow-colored ribbons and were denied communion. "As a Catholic, I just need to stand in solidarity with those that are being oppressed," she said.

While other parishioners sat or kneeled after going to the altar, sash-wearers remained standing with their hands cupped as a symbol they still wanted the sacrament. Their silent protest lasted about five minutes, until the congregation rose to hear the announcements and the benediction before being dismissed.

So, pedophile priests? A-OK. Here's your communion. Wear a little rainbow ribbon? No salvation for you!

I just don't get the Catholics...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Nine U.S. troops,100 rebels killed in Iraq assault - Yahoo! News
Um, is it just me, or does the news out of Iraq seem to be getting worse by the day?

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Nine American troops have been killed in an offensive against insurgents and militants in Iraq's most rebellious province, the U.S. military said on Saturday.

Four of those were killed on Wednesday when their assault amphibian vehicle hit an explosive device, the military said.

Backed by aircraft, U.S. Marines, sailors and soldiers launched Operation Matador one week ago in a bid to root out insurgents and militants from the western Anbar province.

The U.S. military estimated about 100 guerrillas were killed in the assault.

Based mostly in Anbar, insurgents have stepped up suicide bombings and other attacks since Iraq announced its new government on April 28, killing more than 400 people.

The Anbar offensive is focused on an area near the Euphrates north and west of the town of Qaim, close to the Syrian border, which Iraqi officials say is used by insurgents to cross over into Iraq and carry out attacks.

Damascus denies Iraqi accusations that it allows guerrillas to enter Iraq from its border.

Prelude to an assault on Syria? Is that even possible with our depleted military?

Wonder how the administration will continue to put a happy face on this.

Friday, May 13, 2005

It's All About Me:
1. Cathleen
2. Cat
3. Cathy Anne, although that's rarely used anymore

1. wizardkitten
2. eptasdi
3. skylerallen

1. My brain
2. My heart
3. Creativity, when I can focus

1. My brain
2. Procrastination
3. Indecisiveness

1. Curly hair
2. Rebel spirit
3. Inclination to addictive behavior

1. Fascist Theocrats
2. Republicans in general (see above)
3. LaTroy Hawkins in the 9th

1. Caffeine
2. Nicotine
3. Internet

1. Gray sweat pants
2. Carolina Panthers t-shirt
3. Cat on my shoulder, purring and chewing my hair

THREE OF YOUR FAVOURITE BANDS: *too many to name!*
1. Indigo Girls
2. Shawn Colvin (not really a band)
3. David Kilgour (ditto)

1. Closer You Are- Guided by Voices
2. Perfect World- Indigo Girls
3. My Little Town- Simon & Garfunkel

1. Getting my shit together
2. Having a purpose in life
3. Driving a Lexus RX300

1. Honesty
2. Communication
3. Trust

1. All things must pass
2. The sun will come up tomorrow
3. "Help is on the way!"

1. Blue eyes
2. Long legs
3. Smile

1. Get my shit together
2. Vote Republican
3. Quit smoking

1. Photography
2. Baseball
3. Bitching about things

1. Have another cigarette
2. Win the lottery
3. Figure out the answers to these difficult questions

1. White collar criminal
2. Campaign for Barbara Boxer
3. Professional "bottom feeder"

1. New Zealand
2. New York City
3. Ireland

1. Maryscott (you know where that comes from!)
2. Emily (too predictable)
3. Hunter (OK, this is not something I think about)

1. Find peace
2. See New York City before they blow it up
3. Watch the Cubs win the World Series

1. Alright Pop, your turn
2. Jon Stewart
3. God, if there is such a thing

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Daily Kos :: I like Ike
Sorry I haven't been blogging. Just don't feel like it.

Here's a good one.

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54

Monday, May 09, 2005

Yahoo! Sports - MLB - Cubs 2, Phillies 1

CHICAGO (AP) -- With a pump of his fist, Carlos Zambrano put an emphatic end to the Chicago Cubs' losing streak.

The fiery right-hander struck out Jose Offerman with his 136th pitch to end the game, and the Cubs snapped their seven-game skid with a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

``It's a tremendous relief,'' Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

Neifi Perez and Aramis Ramirez homered to back Zambrano's five-hitter. It was his fifth career complete game and first since May 7, 2004.

``Like I always say, 130, 140 pitches for me is nothing,'' Zambrano said. ``I work hard and that's why I'm here.''

Zambrano (3-1) put men on in every inning but the seventh and eighth, but struck out five and was helped by double plays in the third and fourth to win for the first time since April 20 at St. Louis.

Whew, glad that's over.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Rounding second.

Not sure who this is. Sabino, maybe?

The Lakeland Tigers Stats
In my quest for some cheery baseball news, I went to check out how last year's Whitecaps are doing. Wow! They are 22-7, and in first place in their division. See if you recognize any of these names.

E Rodland .400
J Francia .391
V Blue .359
R Cleveland .333
K Kirkland .333
S Tousa .330
B Clevlen .325
W Reynolds .280
D Nicholson .261
D Sanchez .241
G McKinney .207
K Hunt .207

And the pitchers....

J Tata 3 0 1.18
V Vasquez 4 0 3.58
N Bumstead 5 0 2.68
J Verlander 3 1 1.50
E De La Cruz 1 1 4.08
B Rogers 3 1 0.56
K McDowell 0 0 4.30
B Hensen 0 0 5.02
C Homer 0 1 2.70
D Zell 1 1 1.42
C Martinez 2 0 4.91
M Kobow 0 1 2.70
A Baldwin 0 1 12.46

Wonder what happened to Kenon Ronz...

In reversal, Microsoft backs gay rights bill - Yahoo! News

After two weeks of gay community outrage, public relations headaches and employee rancor, Microsoft has reinstated its support for a Washington state gay rights bill that it quietly bailed on last month.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer announced the company's renewed backing of the legislation in an e-mail to all U.S. employees on Friday.

"After looking at the question from all sides, I've concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda," Ballmer wrote.

"Microsoft will continue to join other leading companies in supporting federal legislation that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, adding sexual orientation to the existing law that already covers race, sex, national origin, religion, age and disability," he wrote. "Obviously, the Washington state legislative session has concluded for this year, but if legislation similar to HB 1515 is introduced in future sessions, we will support it."

The announcement came two weeks after it was revealed that Microsoft had taken a neutral stance on gay rights legislation. Bill 1515, which would have banned discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and insurance, died by a single vote in the state Senate last month.

Before reversing its position Friday, Microsoft brass tried to downplay its meetings with the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of a Redmond, Wash., church, who reportedly threatened a national boycott because of the company's support of the bill. The oft-repeated company line -- that Hutcherson had no influence, and that the company's neutral stance on the bill reflected its focus on fewer legislative priorities -- did not appease the LGBT community or employees.

Wonder if the Radical Right still intends to boycott. Would sure love to see them try.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Marijuana petition drive for 2006 ballot is under way
One can dream....

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Marijuana laws in Michigan would be transformed under a proposed amendment to the state constitution to legalize the drug that backers hope to place before voters in 2006.

A group based in Sterling Heights called Win-the-War has begun circulating petitions for a proposal to regulate marijuana in Michigan in the same way as liquor, and hopes to collect more than 320,000 petition signatures by Oct. 1, the Detroit Free Press reported Friday.

Bruce Ritchie, who describes himself as a full-time activist, told a panel of state elections officials Thursday that legalization of marijuana would lower crime rates and the use of hard drugs by getting marijuana out of the underworld and protect kids by setting the legal age of consumption at 21.

"This is about controlling and regulating marijuana to take it off the streets and out of the black market," Ritchie said in a Friday story by the Lansing State Journal.

If approved, the initiative would push Michigan further than any other state toward legalizing marijuana and condone the possession, purchase or sale of pot and hemp products by adults 21 and older, Ritchie said.

Which makes perfect sense. Which is, of course, why it will never pass.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Religion and Politics Clash
The wackiness continues down South...from North Carolina we have this-

Religion and politics clash over a local church's declaration that Democrats are not welcome.

East Waynesville Baptist asked nine members to leave. Now 40 more have left the church in protest. Former members say Pastor Chan Chandler gave them the ultimatum, saying if they didn't support George Bush, they should resign or repent. The minister declined an interview with News 13. But he did say "the actions were not politically motivated." There are questions about whether the bi-laws were followed when the members were thrown out.

Saddle up, people, it's the new civil war!

The actions "were not politically motivated"?!? Time to check into someone's tax exempt status here...

Tougher Requirements to Get a Driver's License
Maybe we should all just get little data chips placed in our arms at birth...

Washington DC - Getting a Michigan driver's license is getting more difficult. But some lawmakers say it's a move that will make the state safer in the long run.

The long lines at the Secretary of State's office could get a little longer. Congress is voting on legislation that would make it harder to get a driver's license.

Republican Representative Pete Hoesktsra says it is designed to crackdown on illegal identifications. "We want to close these loopholes. It's one more step in making sure America is safer and more secure."

The House passed the bill on Thursday. It requires you to have 4 documents proving who you are. "If a document or identification is going to be used for federal identification purposes, here are the requirements that this id must meet," said Hoekstra.

You'll need a photo id, a social security card, a passport or a birth certificate and proof of residence. But now, you'll have to prove you are a legal immigrant or a citizen. "This is not an infringement on personal rights or liberties. It is saying we just want to make sure these documents are good documents," said Hoekstra.

But most people heading into Secretary of State's offices say it will only become a bigger hassle. "What about the honest people, just trying to get a license?" said Shonda Henderson, from Grand Rapids.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week.

The print version of this story didn't mention the national database that would be built...

Glad my license is up for renewal right now- I wonder if you will be able to renew by mail after this.

New Rule Opens National Forest to Roads - Yahoo! News
Read and weep.

WASHINGTON - The last 58.5 million acres of untouched national forests, which President Clinton had set aside for protection, were opened to possible logging, mining and other commercial uses by the Bush administration on Thursday.

New rules from the U.S. Forest Service cover some of the most pristine federal land in 38 states and Puerto Rico. Ninety-seven percent of it is in 12 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Governors can submit petitions within 18 months to stop road building on some of the 34.3 million acres where it would now be permitted or request that new forest management plans be written to allow the construction on some of the other 24.2 million acres.

Many officials made it clear much of the land will remain untouched.

"We have no plans to build roads in the roadless areas of the national forests in California. ... Areas are roadless here for a reason," said Matt Mathes, a regional spokesman for the Forest Service in the state.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said his agency, which includes the Forest Service, will work closely with governors "to meet the needs of our local communities while protecting and restoring the health and natural beauty of our national forests."

Yeah, right. I hope that this protection can get reinstated after we throw these assholes out of power.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Band Banned From Performing 'Louie Louie' - Yahoo! News
I'm embarrassed to say that this is coming from my home state...welcome back to the good 'ol days of censorship and stupidity.

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - A pop culture controversy that has simmered for decades came to a head when a middle school marching band was told not to perform "Louie Louie."

Benton Harbor Superintendent Paula Dawning cited the song's allegedly raunchy lyrics in ordering the McCord Middle School band not to perform it in Saturday's Grand Floral Parade, held as part of the Blossomtime Festival.

In a letter sent home with McCord students, Dawning said "Louie Louie" was not appropriate for Benton Harbor students to play while representing the district — even though the marching band wasn't going to sing it.

Dawning said that if a majority of parents supports their children playing the song, she will reconsider her decision.

"It was not that I knew at the beginning and said nothing," Dawning said. "I normally count on the staff to make reliable decisions. I found out because a parent called, concerned about the song being played."

"Louie Louie," written by Richard Berry in 1956, is one of the most recorded songs in history. The best-known, most notorious version was a hit in 1963 for the Kingsmen; the FBI spent two years investigating the lyrics before declaring they not only were not obscene but also were "unintelligible at any speed."

At least we can still have raunchy cheerleaders. Quick, do some gyrations before they pass a law!

Yahoo! Sports - MLB - Brewers 4, Cubs 3
Fading hopes. Good teams don't do this shit.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs are determined not to let Lyle Overbay beat them.

So, Damian Miller did it instead -- even though it took him a few tries Wednesday night.

Overbay was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs in the ninth, and Miller followed with a walk, giving the Milwaukee Brewers their sixth consecutive victory, 4-3 over the Cubs.

Overbay is 19-for-37 (.514) during an 11-game hitting streak. The Cubs have walked him six times in the first two games of the series, four times intentionally, to face Miller instead.

Overbay was intentionally walked twice in Milwaukee's 4-1 victory Tuesday night, and Miller went 1-for-2 with a key RBI double while following him.

"You know, that kid (Novoa) had the best shot of getting those guys out,'' Chicago manager Dusty Baker said. "And we were saving Hawk (LaTroy Hawkins) in case we got the lead.''

"We had opportunities, we had a lot of opportunities."

"We're losing all kinds of ways," Baker said.

No kidding Dusty.

Tired of the excuses. For once I'd love to hear Dusty come out and say, "The way we are playing is unacceptable and I will not stand for it". Instead it's the "excuse of the game" statement from him. No passion. No fire. I get the impression he doesn't care if we win or lose.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Poll Most Americans say Iraq war not worth it - Yahoo! News
Could be why recruitment numbers were off 42% in April.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of Americans do not think it was worth going to war in Iraq with support at the lowest level since the United States launched the invasion in 2003, according to a CNN/USAToday/Gallup poll released on Tuesday.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled said it was not worth going to war compared to 41 percent who thought it was. In a February poll, 48 percent said the war was worth it and half said it was not.

A poll in April 2003, shortly after the war began, found that 73 percent of Americans held the view that the war was worth fighting. The new poll results had a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points.

Asked how things are going for the United States in Iraq, 56 percent said "badly," up from 45 percent in March. Forty-two percent said things were going "well," down from 52 percent in March. The margin of error for that question was plus or minus three percentage points.

Asked whether the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, the respondents were nearly divided with 49 percent saying it was mistake and 48 percent saying it was not. On that question, the margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points.

Meanwhile, the Iranians vowed to press ahead with their nuclear ambitions and the Chinese are also waggng their finger at us for being a "destabilizing factor" in global security. Will we continue on this path of "might makes right" when we no longer have the might?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Social Security Reform is Simply a Diversion
Short piece by Robert Reich, but I'm puzzled that the administration would float this solely as a diversion when it looks almost certain to be defeated. Was this just a cover for the Medicare crisis (the real crisis), or perhaps the bloated tax-cut budget, or maybe Iraq, with it's growing number of bombings and deaths?

It seems to be a strategy of simply "running out the clock" while the real problems fester and boil, and that doesn't quite fit with this bunch of crooks. I think they might be up to something else, but I can't figure out what that is.

The president just ended a 60-day whirlwind tour to try to sell his Social Security plan. But almost everyone inside the Beltway, and a growing number outside, know it's going nowhere.

Polls show most Americans don't want to tinker with Social Security. Many Republicans, facing re-election, don't want to touch it. Why still flog it?

Because Social Security is a place holder. As long as it remains on the domestic agenda, it blocks consideration of the real domestic crisis President Bush doesn't want to touch: the health care system.

Consider the symptoms. Medicare, the government's health care program for the elderly, is heading toward bankruptcy faster than Social Security. Its future unfunded liabilities are seven times larger. Social Security is projected to be in financial trouble in four decades; Medicare, within 10 years.

Medicaid, the government's health care program for the poor, is also in trouble. Its costs are rising so fast the White House and congressional Republicans want to whack it by $10 billion over the next five years. But governors don't want Medicaid cut. States pick up half its cost. If the feds bow out, states will have to make up the difference.

Symptom No. 3 is the increasing number of Americans without health insurance. Ten years ago, when President Clinton's proposal for universal health care tanked, 38 million lacked health insurance. Now, 44 million are without it at some point during the year.

Meanwhile, Americans who get health insurance through their employer are suffering sticker shock. That's because companies are rapidly shifting the escalating costs onto their employees. They're doing it through higher co-payments and larger deductibles and premiums.

It's the perfect time to respond to America's health care crisis. With the middle class squeezed by soaring costs, big companies reeling and governors screaming, the political momentum is there.

But the Bush administration doesn't want to tackle it. Doing so would require an active role for government, and they're ideologically opposed. They know the nation can pay attention to only one big domestic crisis at a time. So they're using the fake crisis of Social Security as a diversion.

That's a shame. The real crisis of health care demands the nation's real attention.

Reich has some interesting ideas, but don't look for them to be implemented anytime soon. With the cuts to Medicaid, and I'm betting more cuts to Medicare coming, it will just be a simple fact that the poor won't get health care, period. It will be out of reach. So much for that compassion. I notice that's a word they don't use much anymore.

Yahoo! Sports - MLB - Wood out at least three weeks
Sometimes I wonder if Woody is done. At what point does the label "ace" slip away and "oft-injured" replace it? Sad. Missing Clement in a big way.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Cubs ace Kerry Wood will miss at least three weeks after tests Monday showed he has a muscle strain in his right shoulder.

Wood underwent an MRI exam that revealed the problem, the team said.

He will not be able to throw for three weeks and then will be re-evaluated by team doctors to devise a strengthening program.

Bothered by bursitis in his shoulder during spring training, Wood has had his last two outings cut short.

He left Saturday's game against the Astros after just three innings. In his previous start against Pittsburgh on April 24, he lasted only five innings. He is 1-1 in five starts with a 6.15 ERA.

"It feels good when I'm not throwing and it doesn't feel good when I'm throwing,'' Wood said. He had been scheduled to pitch against the Brewers on Thursday.

Wood's loss is the latest blow for a team hit hard by injuries to shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, second baseman Todd Walker and relievers Joe Borowski and Chad Fox.

Last season, Wood missed two months with an injury to his triceps muscle. He was sidelined all of 1999, one year after winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award, following elbow ligament replacement surgery.

Glendon Rusch could move into Wood's spot in the rotation, as he did last season during Wood's stint on the disabled list.

I always thought Rusch had the goods to be an effective starter, and was confused when they picked Dempster over him. Go get 'em Glendon.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: A Gut Punch to the Middle
Krugman weighs in on the Social Security swindle.

By now, every journalist should know that you have to carefully check out any scheme coming from the White House. You can't just accept the administration's version of what it's doing. Remember, these are the people who named a big giveaway to logging interests "Healthy Forests."

Sure enough, a close look at President Bush's proposal for "progressive price indexing" of Social Security puts the lie to claims that it's a plan to increase benefits for the poor and cut them for the wealthy. In fact, it's a plan to slash middle-class benefits; the wealthy would barely feel a thing.

Under current law, low-wage workers receive Social Security benefits equal to 49 percent of their wages before retirement. Under the Bush scheme, that wouldn't change. So benefits for the poor would be maintained, not increased.

The administration and its apologists emphasize the fact that under the Bush plan, workers earning higher wages would face cuts, and they talk as if that makes it a plan that takes from the rich and gives to the poor. But the rich wouldn't feel any pain, because people with high incomes don't depend on Social Security benefits.

I asked Jason Furman of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to calculate the benefit cuts under the Bush scheme as a percentage of pre-retirement income. That's a way to see who would really bear the burden of the proposed cuts. It turns out that the middle class would face severe cuts, but the wealthy would not.

The average worker - average pay now is $37,000 - retiring in 2075 would face a cut equal to 10 percent of pre-retirement income. Workers earning 60 percent more than average, the equivalent of $58,000 today, would see benefit cuts equal to almost 13 percent of their income before retirement.

But above that level, the cuts would become less and less significant. Workers earning three times the average wage would face cuts equal to only 9 percent of their income before retirement. Someone earning the equivalent of $1 million today would see benefit cuts equal to only 1 percent of pre-retirement income.

In short, this would be a gut punch to the middle class, but a fleabite for the truly wealthy.

Beyond that, it's a good bet that benefits for the poor would eventually be cut, too.

It's an adage that programs for the poor always turn into poor programs. That is, once a program is defined as welfare, it becomes a target for budget cuts.

You can see this happening right now to Medicaid, the nation's most important means-tested program. Last week Congress agreed on a budget that cuts funds for Medicaid (and food stamps), even while extending tax cuts on dividends and capital gains. States are cutting back, denying health insurance to hundreds of thousands of people with low incomes. Missouri is poised to eliminate Medicaid completely by 2008.

If the Bush scheme goes through, the same thing will eventually happen to Social Security. As Mr. Furman points out, the Bush plan wouldn't just cut benefits. Workers would be encouraged to divert a large fraction of their payroll taxes into private accounts - but this would in effect amount to borrowing against their future benefits, which would be reduced accordingly.

As a result, Social Security as we know it would be phased out for the middle class.

I believe Congress will make mincemeat of this proposal anyway. No sane politician will vote for this if it means cuts to the meat and bones of his/her constitutes. They would be tossed out the next election cycle. Right? Am I right? Or has this nation just gone totally, masochistically, insane?