Monday, October 31, 2005

MoveOn.org Political Action: Stop Alito

"The nomination of Samuel Alito poses a grave threat to the protections Americans count on, including basic workers’ rights, women’s rights, and civil rights. We call on the Senate to stand up for all of us and reject the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States."

Go sign this petition right now. Just do it.
Think Progress- Samuel Alito's America
Here's a handy round-up on Mr. Alito's previous rulings-

ALITO WOULD OVERTURN ROE V. WADE: In his dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito concurred with the majority in supporting the restrictive abortion-related measures passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in the late 1980’s. Alito went further, however, saying the majority was wrong to strike down a requirement that women notify their spouses before having an abortion. The Supreme Court later rejected Alito’s view, voting to reaffirm Roe v. Wade. [Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1991]

ALITO WOULD ALLOW RACE-BASED DISCRIMINATION: Alito dissented from a decision in favor of a Marriott Hotel manager who said she had been discriminated against on the basis of race. The majority explained that Alito would have protected racist employers by “immuniz[ing] an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer’s belief that it had selected the ‘best’ candidate was the result of conscious racial bias.” [Bray v. Marriott Hotels, 1997]

ALITO WOULD ALLOW DISABILITY-BASED DISCRIMINATION: In Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, the majority said the standard for proving disability-based discrimination articulated in Alito’s dissent was so restrictive that “few if any…cases would survive summary judgment.” [Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1991]

ALITO WOULD STRIKE DOWN THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) “guarantees most workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a loved one.” The 2003 Supreme Court ruling upholding FMLA [Nevada v. Hibbs, 2003] essentially reversed a 2000 decision by Alito which found that Congress exceeded its power in passing the law. [Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, 2000]

ALITO SUPPORTS UNAUTHORIZED STRIP SEARCHES: In Doe v. Groody, Alito agued that police officers had not violated constitutional rights when they strip searched a mother and her ten-year-old daughter while carrying out a search warrant that authorized only the search of a man and his home. [Doe v. Groody, 2004]

ALITO HOSTILE TOWARD IMMIGRANTS: In two cases involving the deportation of immigrants, the majority twice noted Alito’s disregard of settled law. In Dia v. Ashcroft, the majority opinion states that Alito’s dissent “guts the statutory standard” and “ignores our precedent.” In Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, the majority stated Alito’s opinion contradicted “well-recognized rules of statutory construction.” [Dia v. Ashcroft, 2003; Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, 2004]

The perfect wingnut, except I don't see anything about "getting those gays" in there. I'm sure that will be dug up soon.

Looks like it's filibuster time!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!



This was taken last February in the Oakhill Cemetery in GR. NO touch-ups except to sharpen resizing for the web. This is actually a color picture.

BOO!
Officials: Bush picks Alito for Supreme Court - The Changing Court - MSNBC.com
Time to get your war on.

WASHINGTON - President Bush is nominating Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, The Associated Press has learned, choosing a long-time federal judge embraced by judicial conservatives to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to preview Bush's remarks, said Alito was virtually certain to get the nod from the moment Miers backed out.

The 55-year-old jurist was Bush's favorite choice of the judges in the last set of deliberations but he settled instead on someone outside what he calls the "judicial monastery," the officials said.

Bush believes that Alito has not only the right experience and conservative ideology for the job, but he also has a temperament suited to building consensus on the court. A former prosecutor, Alito has experience off the bench that factored into Bush's thinking, the officials said.

While Alito is expected to win praise from Bush's allies on the right, Democrats have served notice that his nomination would spark a partisan brawl. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Sunday that Alito's nomination would "create a lot of problems."

Unlike Miers, who has never been a judge, Alito, a 55-year-old jurist from New Jersey, has been a strong conservative voice on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since former President George H.W. Bush seated him there in 1990.

So consistently conservative, Alito has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.

The dude is 55. Kiss your personal freedoms goodbye.

We all knew George would have to bow to the Dobson wing of the party. He is bought and owned by the people who would love to impose a theocracy in this country. Georgie also know that this will be a great diversion from the criminals in his employ.

This could be our greatest hour, this could be our darkest hour. What's it gonna be, America?
Calls for White House shakeup focus on Karl Rove - Yahoo! News
This is a headline from yesterday from Reuters. Compare and contrast with the story following.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush, whose top adviser Karl Rove remains in jeopardy in a CIA-leak probe, needs to shake up his White House staff if he hopes to revive a presidency reeling from multiple setbacks, Republican and Democratic lawmakers said on Sunday.

The lawmakers also urged Bush to investigate the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, whose chief of staff, Lewis Libby, resigned on Friday and was indicted on perjury and other charges in connection with the probe.

Bush should take Cheney "to the woodshed" if necessary, a Democratic lawmaker said, and the Senate's top Democrat said Rove should be fired or quit.

"I think Karl Rove should step down," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said on ABC's "This Week."

Mississippi Republican Sen. Trent Lott said the Bush administration needed "new blood, new energy, qualified staff," and that he expected the president to address his problems.

"I'm not talking about wholesale changes, but you've got to reach out and bring in more advice and counsel," Lott said on "Fox News Sunday."

"The president ought to do his own internal investigation of the vice president's office, see what happened, set some standards and if need be take the vice president to the woodshed," New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham agreed that Bush should probe Cheney's office, but he attributed the White House's involvement in the Plame issue to a lawful desire to "set the record straight" after what he called an inaccuracy in Wilson's charges.

Balanced story. Now watch what happens when the AP gets a hold of it-

Democrat Urges Rove to Quit Over CIA Leak

WASHINGTON - The Senate Democratic leader said Sunday that presidential adviser Karl Rove should resign because of his role in exposing an undercover CIA officer, and a veteran Republican senator said President Bush needs "new blood" in his White House.

Rove has not been charged, but he continues to be investigated in the CIA leaks case that brought the indictment and resignation Friday of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, an adviser to Bush and the top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not made a decision on whether Rove gave false testimony during his four grand jury appearances. Rove is Bush's most trusted adviser.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he is disappointed that Bush and Cheney responded to the indictment by lauding Libby and suggested they should apologize for the leak that revealed the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Democrats appearing on Sunday talk shows portrayed Libby's indictment as one of many serious problems surrounding the White House and one of several allegations raising questions about Republican ethics. Republicans repeatedly said the charges have been made against only one individual and that Libby should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Once again the emphasis is "us vs. them" from the AP. Just like the wind-up pundits on the cable news networks, the AP seeks to capitalize on the divide. It's all just one big game, isn't it?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Daily Zen Meditation




You ask me why I live
In jade mountains.
I smile, unanswering.
My heart is calm.
Peach petals floating on the water,
Never come back.
There is a heaven and earth
Beyond the crowded town below.

- Li Bai (701-762)
White House Ethics, Honesty Questioned
Ya THINK, America? Good of you to finally notice.

A majority of Americans say the indictment of senior White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby signals broader ethical problems in the Bush administration, and nearly half say the overall level of honesty and ethics in the federal government has fallen since President Bush took office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News survey.

The poll, conducted Friday night and yesterday, found that 55 percent of the public believes the Libby case indicates wider problems "with ethical wrongdoing" in the White House, while 41 percent believes it was an "isolated incident." And by a 3 to 1 ratio, 46 percent to 15 percent, Americans say the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush.

In the aftermath of the latest crisis to confront the White House, Bush's overall job approval rating has fallen to 39 percent, the lowest of his presidency in Post-ABC polls. Barely a third of Americans -- 34 percent -- think Bush is doing a good job ensuring high ethics in government, which is slightly lower than President Bill Clinton's standing on this issue when he left office.

The survey also found that nearly seven in 10 Americans consider the charges against Libby to be serious. A majority -- 55 percent -- said the decision of Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald to bring charges against Libby was based on the facts of the case, while 30 percent said he was motivated by partisan politics.

The ethics findings may be particularly upsetting to a president who came to office in 2000 vowing to restore integrity and honor to a White House that he said had been tainted by the recurring scandals of the Clinton years.

Well, you see, he was lying about that, too. I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

Makes you wonder about the 39% that do approve. What will it take to make them open their eyes? Are they just not paying attention? Are they just being stubborn, afraid of being wrong? Or is this a mass case of delusion and denial?

Someone should do a study.
Rumsfeld says US is making progress against Iraq insurgency - Yahoo! News
Haven't I heard this somewhere before?

BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. and Iraqi forces are making inroads into insurgent groups, although attacks may well increase before December's planned election, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a German magazine.

"The pressure applied on terrorists and insurgents is having an effect," Rumsfeld said in an interview in Der Spiegel magazine released on Sunday.

"We are capturing and killing large numbers of high-ranking people from groups like those of al Qaeda and Zarqawi," Rumsfeld said in comments translated into German.

Rumsfeld said he and others had believed violence would peak before the referendum on the Iraqi constitution on October 15, but he said that had not been the case.

"There can of course be a rise of attacks before the December election," Rumsfeld said.

He said an increasing number of Iraqis were providing anonymous tip-offs by telephone about insurgent activities.

The insurgency in Iraq has shown no signs of waning, despite a series of U.S. offensives in rebel strongholds. This month the U.S. military death toll in Iraq passed the 2,000 mark.

Rumsfeld said it was hard to say whether the "war on terrorism" was being won.

"But there are many very good signs and one of them is the enormous number of high-ranking terrorists whose trail we are following," he said.

That story was followed by this- totally contradicting what Rummy says. But that is nothing new.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon has estimated that nearly 26,000 Iraqis have been killed or wounded in attacks by insurgents since January 2004, with the daily number increasing fairly steadily.

A Pentagon report to Congress said casualties among Iraqi civilians and security forces rose from about 26 a day between January 1 and March 31, 2004, to about 64 a day between August 29 and September 16, 2005, just before the referendum on the Iraqi constitution.

The Pentagon has not previously provided such a comprehensive estimate of the Iraqi casualty toll from insurgent attacks. It also refuses to release data on the number of Iraqi civilians killed or wounded by U.S. forces.

The U.S. military death toll reached 2,000 last week, and more than 15,000 troops have been wounded since the March 2003 start of the war.

Actually, we are now at 2015, with 8 coming since last Thursday. There are more troops on the ground than ever before.

I don't see an easy answer to this one. We are damned if we leave and damned if we stay. Thanks George.
Are You Ready For Some Football?:

Arizona at Dallas
Chicago at Detroit (payback time)
Cleveland at Houston (out on a limb pick of the week)
Green Bay at Cincinnati (will GB win another game this year? Sorry Mom)
Jacksonville at St. Louis
Minnesota at Carolina
Oakland at Tennessee
Washington at N.Y. Giants
Kansas City at San Diego
Miami at New Orleans
Philadelphia at Denver
Tampa Bay at San Francisco
Buffalo at New England
Baltimore at Pittsburgh

Open date: Atlanta, Indianapolis, N.Y. Jets, Seattle

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Governor Signs Emergency Rules to Help with Heating Costs
Good.

LANSING – In her weekly radio address, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced she has signed emergency rules designed to protect consumers who least can afford the expected increases in home heating bills this winter. The Governor’s action to protect Michigan consumers came just one day after the major oil companies announced record-breaking profits while the nation was reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

“Just as we put on those extra layers for warmth in the winter, my administration will continue to fight for extra layers of security for our seniors, our working families and our most vulnerable citizens during a season that will see much higher energy costs,” Granholm said in her address.

The increase in energy costs stem from hurricanes in the gulf, short supply around the nation and increasing demand around the world, all of which can have a devastating impact here at home. The emergency rules will protect consumers who least can afford these sharp spikes in heating and energy costs.

In addition to comments made in her radio address, the Governor today said she is outraged over the record profits reported by the major oil companies this week.

“In September, I – along with several of my fellow governors – called on President Bush to act decisively in preventing oil companies from raking in profits at the expense of American consumers during a time of crisis,” Granholm said today. “We urged the President to move swiftly to cap corporate oil profits and strictly prosecute any violation of federal anti-trust laws, and take all other possible actions to protect Americans against profiteering. Unfortunately, the administration took no such action and the American people are paying the price.”

Granholm noted that the rules she signed today, originally proposed by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), will take effect next Tuesday, November 1 and continue through March 31, 2006 for retail customers of electric and gas utilities subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction.

The emergency rules call for the following changes:

• Lengthening the time between the date utility service bills are sent to customers and the due date, making sure people have more time to put a check in the mail;

• Preventing utilities from shutting off service or charging late payment fees for failure to pay an estimated bill by the due date;

• Prohibiting utilities from blocking services to seniors or those on fixed incomes to make sure vulnerable citizens aren’t put at further risk.

In addition to the new rules, Granholm has put the state’s natural gas suppliers on notice that MPSC will be watching their operations closely to ensure customers are receiving rates that are as low as possible this winter and led a bi-partisan group of 28 governors to ask Congress to fund a significant increase in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding.

I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for Congress. They are too busy cutting food to the poor while they are giving big tax breaks to the energy companies. If we bug 'em, they might decide to cut more.
It's All About The Government:

Hey! Whoever hit my blog from the US Dept. of Treasury (and click on that link for a spooky intro screen) needs to go CHECK the BACK DOOR. I'm sure there is a Republican with a truck out there stealing bags and bags of the stuff as we speak.
U.S. 131 decision angers leaders
Ask Jerry Kooiman who is to blame for, oh, whatever the issue of the day is. He's got a little string right in the back, and when you pull it, he says the same thing over and over. How convenient.

Now that state leaders have decided after decades of planning not to extend U.S. 131 south to the Indiana border, area business leaders and lawmakers are crying foul, accusing transportation officials of keeping them out of the loop.

"This is just a slap in the face of West Michigan," state Rep. Jerry Kooiman, R-Grand Rapids, said Friday, putting the blame on Gov. Jennifer Granholm. "It's a slap in the face of economic development at a time when Michigan needs everything it can get," he said.

But Michigan Department of Transportation officials said they made the decision after four public meetings and five years of study that showed the project's $269 million to $460 million cost could not be justified.

"There's not enough traffic growth, population growth or growth in jobs that would bring enough traffic to that area in the next 20 years that would require a freeway," said Jason Latham, MDOT southwest region planner.

The plan would have extended U.S. 131 about 17 miles, from just north of Three Rivers in St. Joseph County to the Indiana border.

I've driven this stretch a few times in the past few years. It would be nice if the highway ran all the way to I-80/90 (and you'd have to convince Indiana to build the connector), but there really wasn't enough traffic to warrant it. And there is this little tidbit too-

MDOT spokesman Ben Kohrman said the decision was a long time coming.

"If folks are saying this just suddenly was sprung on them, that's absolutely not true," he said.

Kohrman also said to blame the governor and "characterize it as a politically-driven decision is absolutely wrong."

"This was not the governor's decision. It was made by MDOT ... and driven by a process decided by the federal government," Kohrman said.

Yes, but, never let the facts stand in the way of your favorite pastime of slamming the Governor, right Jerry?
Cheney Aide Libby Is Indicted
Thanks to John Aravosis for this. Let's pick out the pertinent points, shall we?

Karl Rove, the president's top strategist, narrowly escaped indictment after providing new information during eleventh-hour negotiations with Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald but could still be charged in the case, according to three people familiar with the talks. A source close to Rove said the senior strategist's fate will be known soon.

Libby was one of the most powerful staff members in government and Cheney's closest adviser. Libby faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines if convicted of two counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstructing justice in the secretive probe that rattled the White House and rekindled the debate over the Iraq war.

The 22-page indictment leaves open the possibility of more bad news to come: the specter of a public trial featuring top White House officials and the chance of more indictments in the weeks ahead.

The biggest piece of unfinished business involves Rove. Fitzgerald appeared set to charge Rove with making false statements until the White House deputy chief of staff provided new information on Tuesday that gave the prosecutor what two people described as "pause."

It is unclear what information Rove turned over. It is also unclear if it will be enough to prevent a grand jury from indicting him in the weeks ahead. If he decides to seek charges against Rove, Fitzgerald would present the evidence to a new grand jury because the one that indicted Libby expired yesterday and its term cannot be extended.

Fitzgerald refused to comment on Rove. A source close to Rove added, "There is still the chance that Mr. Rove could face indictment." Lawyers involved in the case said Fitzgerald is likely to put pressure on Libby to provide evidence against Rove or other potential targets.

Now for the speculation on "Official A". What did he say? Did he throw Libby under the bus? Did he throw Cheney under the bus? Will Libby rat him out?

And by the way, I can't think of a more apropos name for Karl. He certainly is an "Official A(hole)".

Let the festivities commence!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Cheney aide Libby charged in leak probe - Yahoo! News
How sweet it is!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, was indicted on Friday for obstructing justice, perjury and lying after a two-year CIA leak investigation, another blow to the White House that raises the specter of a politically damaging trial.

Libby, who could face up to 30 years in prison, resigned minutes after the indictment was handed up in federal court in Washington. In a statement, Cheney said Libby would "fight the charges brought against him."

President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, was not indicted along with Libby, but special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has made clear to Rove he remains under investigation and in legal jeopardy, lawyers said.

Libby's indictment and resignation was another setback to a White House already on the defensive over the bungled initial response to Hurricane Katrina, growing opposition to the Iraq war and the withdrawal of Bush's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet Miers under fire from Bush's conservative base.

At a news conference after the grand jury acted, Fitzgerald said his investigation was continuing but he declined to discuss anyone who was not charged.

"It's not over," he told reporters.

Despite initial denials, both Rove and Libby spoke to reporters in June and July 2003 about the CIA operative, Valerie Plame, whose identify was leaked to the media.

Read all about it here. I'm suffering from pundit fatigue right now.

Fitzgerald just wrapped up his press conference, and I just want to say this- That man has more integrity in the tip of his pinky than the whole Bush cabal combined.

This one's for you, Marybeth. I hope there is more to come.
Suicide Mistaken for Halloween Decoration - Yahoo! News
Yikes.

FREDERICA, Del. - The apparent suicide of a woman found hanging from a tree went unreported for hours because passers-by thought the body was a Halloween decoration, authorities said.

The 42-year-old woman used rope to hang herself across the street from some homes on a moderately busy road late Tuesday or early Wednesday, state police said.

The body, suspended about 15 feet above the ground, could be easily seen from passing vehicles.

State police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Oldham and neighbors said people noticed the body at breakfast time Wednesday but dismissed it as a holiday prank. Authorities were called to the scene more than three hours later.

"They thought it was a Halloween decoration," Fay Glanden, wife of Mayor William Glanden, told The (Wilmington) News Journal.
White House braces for leak charges - Yahoo! News
Ah, yes. Fitzmas Day. Or is it? Are we going to extend the Fitzmas spirit all through the coming year?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and other top White House officials braced for criminal charges on Friday from the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity.

The grand jury was expected to convene in the morning to consider the first charges in the two-year probe led by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

Legal sources involved in the case said Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, appeared likely to be charged with making false statements to the grand jury.

Fitzgerald has also zeroed in on Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser, possibly for perjury. But lawyers involved in the case said Fitzgerald may not be prepared at this time to bring charges against Rove.

The New York Times, citing people briefed officially about the case, said Rove would not be indicted along with Libby on Friday but would remain under investigation.

Despite initial denials, both Rove and Libby spoke to reporters in June and July 2003 about the CIA operative, Valerie Plame.

It was unclear how Fitzgerald would keep the Rove investigation going since the current grand jury is scheduled to expire on Friday.

The Times said Fitzgerald was likely to extend its term. But federal guidelines suggest that Fitzgerald would have to seek a new grand jury because the current one has served the maximum allowable amount of time.

Other current and former administration officials could also face charges on Friday, lawyers said.

Indictments in the case could trigger an immediate shake-up at the White House, already on the defensive over the response to Hurricane Katrina, opposition to the Iraq war and the withdrawal of Bush's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet Miers.

One lawyer involved in the case said the attorneys made final appeals to Fitzgerald to try to avoid indictment, raising the prospect of last-minute plea agreements.

When asked whether Rove was trying to negotiate Fitzgerald down to a lesser charge, Luskin responded: "False."

White House officials have been anxiously awaiting Fitzgerald's decision since any indicted officials were expected to immediately resign. Bush was then likely to make a public statement.

Who is squealing? And what are they squealing?

My God, how did you people ever live through Watergate? I know that you didn't have 24-7 speculation and innuendo and rumor in the media...but, man, didn't the anticipation just kill you?
Bush campaign fund-raiser indicted - Yahoo! News
So, if illegal money was funneled into that campaign, we should have a do-over, right?

Yet another player exposed in the Culture of Corruption.


CHICAGO (Reuters) - A prominent Republican fund-raiser for President George W. Bush in Ohio has been charged with illegally funneling money to Bush's re-election campaign, a federal prosecutor said on Thursday.

A federal grand jury in Toledo charged Thomas Noe with making illegal contributions in the names of others to the Bush campaign and with making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

The three counts lodged against Noe each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine.

A separate investigation is examining a money-losing investment in rare coins Noe made for the state of Ohio.

The indictment alleged Noe had pledged to raise $50,000 for a fund-raiser for the Bush campaign held in Ohio on October 30, 2003. Tickets to the event cost $2,000 each. It said Noe disguised $45,400 in personal contributions by recruiting and providing money to 24 friends and associates who made the contributions in their names so he could avoid the individual campaign contribution limit of $2,000.

In some cases, Noe's reimbursements to contributors differed just slightly from the amount provided to the campaign to try to disguise their purpose, according to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Gregory White, who announced the indictment.

I'm starting to think that we should look at the books in every state. Whaddayawanna bet this goes on all the time?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Exxon Mobil Profits Soar on Surging Oil and Gas Prices - New York Times
Ladies and gentlemen...we have a winnah! A new world record!

The Exxon Mobil Corporation and other energy companies reported record profits in the third quarter today on surging prices of oil and gasoline both before and after the hurricanes struck the Gulf Coast.

The world's largest publicly traded oil company, Exxon Mobil said profits jumped 75 percent, to $9.92 billion ($1.58 a share), from $5.68 billion (88 cents) a year ago. Revenue jumped 31.9 percent to $100.7 billion from $76.38 billion.

Royal Dutch Shell reported a similar 68 percent jump in profits, to $9.03 billion ($1.35 a share), from $5.37 billion (80 cents). Revenue rose 6 percent, to $94.7 billion, from $89 billion.

Some of the increase in profits was attributable to rising oil prices this summer even before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast. After the hurricanes, though, the price of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined oil products soared because of shutdowns at refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Y'all think about that your next trip to the gas station, or the grocery store, when everything you buy now costs more..... 100 billion dollars. Just think about it.
Leak case announcement seen Friday - Yahoo! News
Patrick, you BIG TEASE!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald does not plan to act in the CIA leak case on Thursday, a spokesman said, setting the stage for the prosecutor to make a last-minute announcement on indictments before the grand jury expires on Friday.

"There are no announcements expected today," said Randall Samborn, Fitzgerald's spokesman.

Fitzgerald has zeroed in on Lewis Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser. Both have been advised that they could face charges over the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, lawyers in the case said.

Other current and former administration officials may also be charges, the lawyers said.

Well, OK, then. *grumble* We can chew over Harriet for a day...and so far that's a good thing. I'm hearing "Christian agenda" and "radical right" coming from the mouths of pundits. The tide has shifted. Maybe America will finally wake up to what these folks are all about.

The first pundit that uses "American Taliban" gets a card of thanks from me. :-)
Miers Withdraws Supreme Court Nomination - Yahoo! News
Here comes the civil war...

WASHINGTON - Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice Thursday in the face of stiff opposition and mounting criticism about her qualifications.

President Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down. He blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege.

"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," Bush said. "Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers " and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her."

Miers' surprise withdrawal stunned Washington on a day when the capital was awaiting news on another front the possible indictment of senior White House aides in the CIA leak case.

Miers notified Bush of her decision at 8:30 p.m., according to a senior White House official who said the president will move quickly to find a new nominee.

Don't give me this "documents" bullshit- this WH doesn't release "documents" EVER and they have gotten away with it so far.

This sets the battle up. A wingnut must be nominated now. The Democrats, who "approved" Miers, get to go ballistic on aforementioned wingnut. Radical Right agenda gets brought front and center to the American spotlight.

This is going to be an interesting winter.
School Orders Students to Remove Blogs - Yahoo! News
Ominous. My guess is this won't stand.

NEWARK, N.J. - A Roman Catholic high school has ordered its students to remove personal blogs from the Internet in the name of protecting them from cyberpredators.

Students at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta appear to be heeding a directive from the principal, the Rev. Kieran McHugh, to remove personal postings about the school or themselves from Web sites like myspace.com or xanga.com, even if they were posted from the students' home computers.

Officials with the Diocese of Paterson say the directive is a matter of safety, not censorship. But constitutional experts say the case raises interesting questions about the intersection of free speech and voluntary agreements with private institutions.

"There was a student who thought he was talking to another teen, and that was not the case," said Marianna Thompson, a diocesan spokeswoman. "Young teens are not capable of consenting to certain things, especially when they're being led along by adults."

She said the student's online contact did not involve sexual activity, but such a possibility led school administrators to convene an assembly for all 900 students about two weeks ago to reinforce the online rules.

Kurt Opsahl, a staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which champions the rights of bloggers, said there have been several attempts nationwide by private institutions to restrict or censor students' Internet postings.

"But this is the first time we've heard of such an overreaction," he said. "It would be better if they taught students what they should and shouldn't do online rather than take away the primary communication tool of their generation."

Frank Askin, director of Rutgers University's Constitutional Law Clinic, said the case could be an interesting free speech test if someone took it to court.

"They are a private school, and they can have whatever rules they want," he said. "But students do have rights in this matter, especially in New Jersey. Under our state's constitution, private entities that exercise some kind of dominion over people have to respect their free speech rights."

When blogs are outlawed , only outlaws will have blogs....or something like that.

I can hear the confessional now- "Father, I have sinned. I posted pictures of my family vacation on the internet...and now I am thrown out of school....
Chisox Win First World Series Since 1917 - Yahoo! News
Today, I'm glad I don't live in Chicago. I couldn't stand the thought of those snotty South-siders rubbing salt in Cubs fans wounds.

But, congratulations to them, anyway. They are a helluva team.


HOUSTON - The Chicago White Sox are World Series champions again at last, and yet another epic streak of futility is not just wiped away but swept away.

After seven scoreless innings, Jermaine Dye singled home the only run in the eighth, and the White Sox beat the Houston Astros 1-0 Wednesday night to win their first title in 88 years.

And now we have another reason to whomp Houston's butt next year. Payback time!
Shell beats forecasts with record profit - Yahoo! News
Hurricane? What hurricane?

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc reported a record third-quarter profit on Thursday, beating analysts' forecasts as surging oil prices outweighed losses from hurricanes which stalled production in the Gulf of Mexico.

The world's third-largest listed oil firm by market capitalization said its current cost of supply (CCS) net profit, which strips out gains from rises in the value of fuel inventories, rose 68 percent to $7.369 billion.

A Reuters poll of 10 analysts gave an average forecast of $5.12 billion for Shell's clean CCS profit -- the most closely watched profit measure -- with a range of $4.7-$5.8 billion.

The results boosted Shell's shares. The firm's London-listed "A" shares traded up 1.7 percent at 1,720 pence at 1103 GMT, compared to a 0.9 percent drop in the DJ Stoxx European oil and gas sector index (^SXEP - news).

Oil prices, which peaked at above $70 a barrel in August, more than compensated for lost production in the Gulf of Mexico after the busiest Atlantic hurricane season since records began disrupted production and refining on the U.S. Gulf coast.

"CCS is much better than expected ... We are positively surprised that the impact of hurricane costs is lower than anticipated," Margarita Shevtsova, analyst at Bank Oyens & van Eeghen said.

"Why we're just shocked! Shocked I tell you! We had no idea that speculation of shortages would drive the price soooo high! By the way, can we have some more tax breaks? Cause if we don't get them, well, we just might have to raise the price again...."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

If Fox News Had Been Around Throughout History

Just go see.

Funny, funny stuff.
It's All About Me:

WOW! I made the blog roll at MichiganLiberal! That is tooooo cool!

Thanks guys.
Michigan stands to lose big with Medicaid cuts
Sometimes I wonder how Jennifer keeps her head from exploding...

WASHINGTON -- Congress has put Medicaid on the chopping block, and Michigan officials say the result could be devastating for the state's poorest families.

A U.S. House committee will vote today on a proposal to trim federal Medicaid spending by $11 billion over the next five years, a plan that could cost Michigan $280 million annually.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm says the plan, which would prohibit states from using a tax on managed-care organizations to raise money to fund their Medicaid programs, would cause major budget trauma in Michigan and the three other states that already charge the tax -- California, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

"They cannot do this," said Granholm. "They cannot rip the safety net from under children and seniors and pregnant women."

Granholm says it's almost impossible to say where Michigan would get the money to offset a reduction of that size. The most likely option would be to shrink the number of Medicaid beneficiaries by narrowing eligibility for the health insurance program. Michigan has more than 1.4 million people in its $7.5 billion Medicaid program.

"We will not be able to live with those cuts," said Granholm. "There is no place in the budget to find those dollars."

Good luck, Jen. You're going to need it.
Leak grand jury may hear charges today - Yahoo! News
Is today the day it all comes down? Or is Fitz going to have these indictments sealed to continue on with the investigation? Edge of my seat here...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity was scheduled to meet on Wednesday amid signs the prosecutor in the case was preparing to seek criminal charges.

The grand jury session follows a last-minute flurry of interviews by investigators with CIA operative Valerie Plame's neighbors and a former colleague of top White House adviser Karl Rove.

Plame's identity was leaked after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting prewar intelligence on Iraq.

White House officials were anxiously awaiting the outcome of the leak case since any indicted officials were expected to resign immediately. If indictments are brought, Bush was likely to make a public statement to try to reassure Americans that he is committed to honesty and integrity in government.

Excuse me...just a minute here....

BAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *chortle* Heee heeee hawwww! *wipes tears from eyes, grabs sides that are aching*

OK, back to the story...

Lawyers involved in the case said Fitzgerald appeared close to bringing indictments, with an announcement expected as early as Wednesday, after the grand jury meets.

The grand jury is slated to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.

The White House has refused to answer questions about Vice President Dick Cheney's role in the case.

According to a New York Times report, Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, learned about Plame in a conversation with Cheney on June 12, 2003, weeks before her identity became public in a newspaper column by Robert Novak on July 14, 2003.

Libby's notes indicate Cheney got his information about Plame from then-CIA Director George Tenet, according to the Times. The White House would neither confirm nor deny the account.

Fitzgerald's investigation has centered on Libby and Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser. Other aides may also be charged, lawyers said.

Lawyers involved in the case said it could be difficult for Fitzgerald to charge administration officials with knowingly revealing Plame's identity.

They said Fitzgerald appeared more likely to seek charges for easier-to-prove crimes such as making false statements, obstruction of justice and disclosing classified information.

But there were 11th-hour signs that Fitzgerald could still bring charges for the leak itself.

FBI agents on Monday night questioned some of Plame's neighbors about whether they knew about her CIA work before her identity was leaked to the press. The interviews could help Fitzgerald show that Plame's status had been a closely-guarded secret.

Fearless prediction: It was Col. Cheney, in the Library, with the Lead Pipe.

Get ready for...Vice-President John Ashcroft!
Wal-Mart memo proposes cost cuts: report - Yahoo! News
While Wal-Mart was stupid enough to put this in a memo, I'm sure other companies are quietly saying and doing the same thing. The elderly and those with disabilities or health issues are probably being discriminated against every day.

But, hey, if you listen to those compassionate conservatives, it's their own damn fault for being old and sick, right?


NEW YORK (Reuters) - An internal memo sent to the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. board proposes numerous ways to hold down health care and benefits costs with less harm to the retailer's reputation, including hiring more part-time workers and discouraging unhealthy people from seeking jobs, the New York Times said on Wednesday.

The paper said the draft memo to Wal-Mart's board was obtained from Wal-Mart Watch, a pressure group allied with labor unions that says Wal-Mart's pay and benefits are too low.

The paper said in the memorandum Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart's executive vice president for benefits, also recommends reducing 401(k) pension contributions and wooing younger, and presumably healthier, workers by offering education benefits.

The memo is quoted as expressing concern that workers with seven years' seniority earn more than workers with one year's seniority, but are no more productive, said the paper, which posted the memo on its Web site. To discourage unhealthy job applicants, the paper said, Chambers suggests Wal-Mart arrange for "all jobs to include some physical activity (e.g., all cashiers do some cart-gathering),"

The memo also proposed that employees pay more for their spouses' health insurance, called for cutting the company's 401(k) contributions to 3 percent of wages from 4 percent and for cutting company-paid life insurance policies.

The memo acknowledged that Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, had to walk a fine line in restraining benefits because critics attacked it for being stingy on wages and health coverage. Chambers in the memo acknowledged 46 percent of the children of Wal-Mart's 1.33 million United States employees were uninsured or on Medicaid.

Wal-Mart executives said the memo was part of an effort to rein in benefit costs, which have soared by 15 percent a year on average since 2002. Like much of corporate America, Wal-Mart has been squeezed by soaring health costs, the paper said.

One proposal would reduce the amount of time, from two years to one, that part-time employees would have to wait before qualifying for health insurance. Another would put health clinics in stores, in part to reduce expensive employee visits to emergency rooms.

Whew! I can see it now. "Hurt? I don't see any evidence that this employee was hurt doing company work. He must have slashed his arm with the box cutter on his lunch break. He can't do any physical lifting now? Well, he's not living up to the stated requirements of his job! Out the door with him!"

Bad, bad idea.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

US military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000 - Yahoo! News

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military death toll in Iraq passed 2,000 with the announcement on Tuesday that a soldier had died in a Texas hospital of wounds from a bomb.

The unwelcome milestone was expected to spur new calls for U.S. President George W. Bush to outline an exit strategy for the Iraqi conflict.

Earlier in the day, final results showed that Iraqi voters had ratified a new U.S.-backed constitution, despite bitter opposition in Sunni Arab areas where insurgents are battling to topple the Baghdad government.

The Pentagon said Staff Sergeant George Alexander, 34, had died on Saturday of injuries sustained eight days ago when a roadside bomb set by insurgents blew up near his vehicle in the town of Samarra.

Bush said the war would require more sacrifice and rejected calls for a U.S. pullout from Iraq.

"Each loss of life is heartbreaking, and the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom," he said in a speech before the latest death was announced.

"This war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve."

More sacrifice?

So, what are Barb and Jenna up to nowadays, hmmmm? Why, surely they would be willing to join this noble cause!

No? Didn't think so, you murdering bastard.

Always somebody else's kid. On somebody else's dime. In somebody else's country.
USATODAY.com - Illegal workers found at La. base
Told ya so.

Federal officials are investigating how at least 10 undocumented immigrants performed hurricane reconstruction work at a naval base near New Orleans.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Jamie Zuieback said Sunday that the agency was asked to come to Belle Chasse Naval Air Station on Thursday by base officials. Zuieback said 10 workers were found who were not authorized to work in the United States. They were denied base access, and the agency is investigating "the circumstance surrounding their employment," she said.

Navy spokesman Lt. (j.g.) Sean Robertson said that 13 individuals had been barred from the base. Neither he nor Zuieback could explain the discrepancy between the numbers.

The action came amid growing complaints from area electricians who say they lost their jobs at the base to lower-wage workers.

Robert "Tiger" Hammond, president of the Greater New Orleans AFL-CIO, said about 75 union electricians lost their jobs after the Bush administration temporarily suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, which guarantees the prevailing local wage for workers hired under federal contracts.

It was unclear who employed the undocumented workers. Zuieback would not give the name of the employer. Robertson said they worked for BE&K, an Alabama-based contractor, and Texas-based BMS Catastrophe.

BE&K spokeswoman Susan Wasley said no company employee had been cited, removed or barred from the base. "We haven't done anything wrong," she said.

BMS Catastrophe did not return calls for comment.

BE&K is a subcontractor for Halliburton, which is doing the bulk of the reconstruction work at the base. It was not clear whether BMS Catastrophe also is a Halliburton subcontractor.

Gravy train. The Culture of Corruption rolls on.
Some Fun Facts to Know and Yell: From the Governor's Office

Michigan is 2nd in Nation in New Capital Investment
$6.5 Billion in Auto-Related Spending Key to State Ranking

As you know, we have been working hard to “go anywhere and do anything” to create jobs in Michigan. I’m pleased to share that our efforts are paying off. According to a recent study by Ernst & Young LLP, a major international accounting and consulting firm, Michigan attracted $6.5 billion in major corporate capital investments involving 213 projects and 32,474 new jobs last year – second only to Texas.

A key factor in the ranking was Michigan's success in attracting international investment which accounted for 21 percent of planned capital expenditures in Michigan, representing the third highest level of foreign investment in the nation.

The top five states, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, California and New York, attracted nearly 40 percent of total capital investment in the nation during 2004. Michigan's ranking puts us in the top tier of economic development heavyweights.

Michigan’s economic plan includes targeted initiatives to increase automotive manufacturing and R&D investments and jobs in the state. According to the report, "Michigan lives up to its reputation as the nation's automotive capital." Michigan attracted 45 percent of the total auto industry U.S. investment of $14.5 billion.

In 2004, Toyota, Nissan, and Hyundai headed the list of foreign-based automakers announcing North American technology center expansions in Michigan. Following my investment mission to Japan last July, ten Japan-based companies committed to expansions here, representing 630 jobs and $116 million in capital investments. In all, 43 international auto-related companies have entered Michigan or expanded operations here in the past year.

I was surprised by this.

So, the next time some Republican yahoo prattles on about how Michigan's economic climate is bad for business, tell them to stick it in their ear. You can also tell them this-


Michigan Ranked as 5th Small Business-Friendly State
Up from #6 on Index of Tax Burden, Regulatory Climate

Moving from sixth place last year, to fifth place this year, Michigan improved its ranking on the Small Business Survival Index 2005 compiled by the Washington, D.C.-based Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC).

The SBE Council's annual ranking analyzes 26 major government-imposed or government-related costs affecting small businesses and entrepreneurs. This year's index is their 10th annual survey and has been revised and expanded to include four measures of health care regulation. The top five entrepreneur-friendly states under the Small Business Survival Index are South Dakota , Nevada, Wyoming, Washington, and Michigan. Details of the rankings are available at www.sbecouncil.org.

Growing Michigan's small businesses is a high priority in our plan to strengthen and diversify our economy. Of the 6,118 personal business visits made by Michigan Economic Development Corporation account managers in 2004, 70 percent of them were to companies with fewer than 100 employees. It is gratifying that our efforts to support a strong and vibrant small business sector have won this national recognition.

So there, Mr. Smarty-Pants DeVos. Fill all those temp jobs out at Amway yet?
It's All About Football:

Kansas City 30, Miami 20
Detroit 13, Cleveland 10
Minnesota 23, Green Bay 20
Indianapolis 38, Houston 20
St. Louis 28, New Orleans 17
Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 13
Philadelphia 20, San Diego 17
Washington 52, San Francisco 17
Seattle 13, Dallas 10
Chicago 10, Baltimore 6
Oakland 38, Buffalo 17
N.Y. Giants 24, Denver 23
Arizona 20, Tennessee 10
N.Y. Jets 14 Atlanta 27


9-5

Bleah. The teams in purple are killin' me.

Civil Rights Pioneer Rosa Parks Dies at 92 - Yahoo! News
Thank You, Rosa. The fight goes on.

DETROIT - Nearly 50 years ago, Rosa Parks made a simple decision that sparked a revolution. When a white man demanded she give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the then 42-year-old seamstress said no.

At the time, she couldn't have known it would secure her a revered place in American history. But her one small act of defiance galvanized a generation of activists, including a young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and earned her the title "mother of the civil rights movement."

Mrs. Parks died Monday evening at her home of natural causes, with close friends by her side, said Gregory Reed, an attorney who represented her for the past 15 years. She was 92.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Congress seeks cuts as debt hits $8 trillion - Yahoo! News
Out. I want them all thrown out.

No. Strike that. I want them chased out of town with torches and pitchforks, driven into the cold woods of Maryland where they will shiver in the dark and go hungry and then the Blair Witch can drive them insane with fear.

Maybe that doesn't go far enough, either.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in Congress will try to pass spending cuts this week, after war, anti-terrorism efforts, hurricanes and big tax cuts helped push the government's debt load through the $8 trillion mark.

Sources in the House of Representatives said it likely would be mid-week before Republican leaders know whether they have enough support for spending reductions, including cuts in health programs for the elderly and poor, that go beyond the $35 billion sketched out last spring.

Congress is also debating a Republican-backed plan for more tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy.

The Senate is sticking to the $35 billion benchmark for spending cuts, amid pressure from conservatives in both chambers to cut more money to help pay for $62.3 billion in emergency aid for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

For either approach to become law, Republicans, who hold a majority in both houses of Congress, will have to do it alone.

Democrats opposed the Republican budget plan enacted last spring and none have said they are on board for a new round of cuts, coupled with the tax cuts.

Record debt is washing over the Treasury Department, recently breaching the $8 trillion mark in money owed to foreign governments, private investors and the Social Security retirement fund used to finance deficit-spending.

Republicans, who also control the White House, have now presided over an increase in $2 trillion to the national debt over four years or so, despite contending that they are the only U.S. political party that practices fiscal discipline.

Eight years of Democrat Bill Clinton's presidency resulted in around $1.6 trillion being added to the U.S. debt, but with the possibility of paying it all off by 2015.

As they struggle to nail down more spending cuts, House Republicans likely will get a bill from the White House this week for billions more in spending for hurricane rebuilding and tools to fight avian flu.

I hope you rot in Hell, you bastards.
New York Daily News - Home - Daily News Exclusive: Bushies feeling the boss' wrath
Here it comes...here comes your 19th Nervous Breakdown....

WASHINGTON - Facing the darkest days of his presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter, his associates say.

With a seemingly uncontrollable insurgency in Iraq, the White House is bracing for the political fallout from a grim milestone that could come any day: the combat death of the 2,000th American G.I.

Last week alone, 23 military personnel were killed in Iraq, and five were wounded yesterday in a relentless series of attacks across the country.

This week could also bring a special prosecutor's decision that could shake the foundations of the Bush government.

The President's top political guru, Karl Rove, and Vice President Cheney's right-hand man, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, are at the center of a two-year criminal probe into the leak of a CIA agent's identity. Many Bush staffers believe indictments are likely.

"He's like the lion in winter," observed a political friend of Bush. "He's frustrated. He remains quite confident in the decisions he has made. But this is a guy who wanted to do big things in a second term. Given his nature, there's no way he'd be happy about the way things have gone."

Bush usually reserves his celebrated temper for senior aides because he knows they can take it. Lately, however, some junior staffers have also faced the boss' wrath.

"This is not some manager at McDonald's chewing out the help," said a source with close ties to the White House when told about these outbursts. "This is the President of the United States, and it's not a pleasant sight."

The specter of losing Rove, his only truly irreplaceable assistant, lies at the heart of Bush's distress. But a string of political reversals, including growing opposition to the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and Harriet Miers' bungled Supreme Court nomination, have also exacted a personal toll.

Presidential advisers and friends say Bush is a mass of contradictions: cheerful and serene, peevish and melancholy, occasionally lapsing into what he once derided as the "blame game." They describe him as beset but unbowed, convinced that history will vindicate the major decisions of his presidency even if they damage him and his party in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

At the same time, these sources say Bush, who has a long history of keeping staffers in their place, has lashed out at aides as his political woes have mounted.

"The President is just unhappy in general and casting blame all about," said one Bush insider. "Andy [Card, the chief of staff] gets his share. Karl gets his share. Even Cheney gets his share. And the press gets a big share."

Bush is so dismayed that "the only person escaping blame is the President himself," said a sympathetic official, who delicately termed such self-exoneration "illogical."

Oh, Who's to blame? That press is just insane. Well, nuthin he do don't seem to work...it only seems ta maka matters worse for.....well, all of us, actually. Let's hope that saner heads (are there any saner heads around him?) keep him from the true deep end.

You know, like they did with Nixon long ago.

Heh.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

It's All About Football:


Kansas City 30, Miami 20
Detroit at Cleveland (Joey falters, Garcia comes in and blows everyone away. Or, Joey, feeling the heat, finally lives up to his potential. Or, they both suck and Cleveland kicks ass and I hang my head in shame for once again being fooled into thinking the Lions can actually win)
Green Bay at Minnesota
Indianapolis at Houston
New Orleans at St. Louis
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (Ben's back. Are the Bengals for real? Should be a good game)
San Diego at Philadelphia
San Francisco at Washington
Dallas at Seattle
Baltimore at Chicago
Buffalo at Oakland
Denver at N.Y. Giants
Tennessee at Arizona
N.Y. Jets at Atlanta


Open date: Carolina, Jacksonville, New England, Tampa Bay



Friday, October 21, 2005

It's All About Football:

I just now got to the sports section of the paper and see the Dolphins-Chiefs game is being played tonight due to Hurricane Wilma. I haven't seen any scores, I'm watching a re-run of "Friends".

So, before I find out anything- I pick the Dolphins.

Cover-Up Issue Is Seen as Focus in Leak Inquiry - New York Times
The waaa-a-a-iting....is the hardest part.....

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 - As he weighs whether to bring criminal charges in the C.I.A. leak case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel, is focusing on whether Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, sought to conceal their actions and mislead prosecutors, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.

Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement - counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions, the lawyers said.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say.

With the term of the grand jury expiring in one week, though, some lawyers in the case said they were persuaded that Mr. Fitzgerald had all but made up his mind to seek indictments. None of the lawyers would speak on the record, citing the prosecutor's requests not to talk about the case.

Associates of Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby continued to express hope that the prosecutor would conclude that the evidence was too fragmentary and that it would be difficult to prove Mr. Rove or Mr. Libby had a clear-cut intention to misinform the grand jury. Lawyers for the two men declined to comment on their legal status.

So, associates of Rove and Libby only hope there isn't enough evidence to charge. Not that they're innocent. Not that the allegations are false. Only that there isn't enough to fry their traitor asses. Isn't that an admission of at least some guilt?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bush calls domestic problems "background noise" - Yahoo! News
De Nile ain't just a river in Egypt.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush, hit by a series of domestic woes that have eroded his popularity, said on Thursday he was focused on his job and not on what he called "some background noise."

Bush was asked how preoccupied the White House was by distractions that include an investigation into whether any of his top aides deliberately outed a CIA operative, a conservative revolt over his nomination of Harriet Miers as a Supreme Court justice and investigations into senior Republican leaders in Congress.

Bush told reporters he was concentrating on his work.

"There's some background noise here, a lot of chatter, a lot of speculation and opining. But the American people expect me to do my job, and I'm going to," Bush said in the White House Rose Garden, after talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The president has been hit by falling job approval ratings in public opinions polls in recent months.

"Part of my job is to work with others to fashion a world that'll be peaceful for future generations. And I've got a job to do to make sure this economy continues to grow," Bush said.

Spoken like a true graduate of the Alfred E. Neuman "What? Me Worry?" Academy of Business Management. Except this time Daddy can't bail him out.

Heh heh heh.
Tom DeLay Mug Shot - October 20, 2005

What, no numbers? He looks a little too happy here. Cocky SOB, ain't he?

Tell it to the judge, Bugman.
Senate Again Fails to Raise Minimum Wage - Yahoo! News
Fucking pig bastards. You wonder why there is poverty in this country? It's shit like this.

WASHINGTON - Senate proposals to raise the minimum wage were rejected Wednesday, making it unlikely that the lowest allowable wage, $5.15 an hour since 1997, will rise in the foreseeable future.

A labor-backed measure by Sen. Edward Kennedy would have raised the minimum to $6.25 over an 18-month period. A Republican counterproposal would have combined the same $1.10 increase with various breaks and exemptions for small businesses.

The Kennedy amendment to a spending bill went down 51-47, and the GOP alternative 57-42. Under a Senate agreement, they would have needed 60 votes for approval.

Kennedy, D-Mass., said Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the depth of poverty in the country and he pointed out that a single parent with two children working a minimum wage earns $10,700 a year, $4,500 below the poverty line.

He said it was "absolutely unconscionable" that in the same period that Congress has denied a minimum wage increase, lawmakers have voted themselves seven pay raises worth $28,000.

But Republican opponents, echoing the arguments of business groups, said higher minimum wages can work against the poor if they force small businesses to cut payrolls or go out of business.

"Mandated hikes in the minimum wage do not cure poverty and they clearly do not create jobs," said Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who offered the Republican alternative.

Yes, actually paying people a decent living wage does nothing to reduce poverty. More Republican logic.

How about you guys address the health care issue, you know, the actual issue that is hurting small business, and big business too, come to think of it, the real things that keep them from adding more workers? Huh? How about that?

Jesus wept.
Astros Beat Cardinals, Win First Pennant - Yahoo! News
Yea! for the 'stros!

ST. LOUIS - Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte grabbed the champagne, went right for Roy Oswalt and showed the Houston Astros how to celebrate a trip to the World Series. Experts at this from their days with the Yankees, Clemens and Pettitte drenched their fellow ace in a bath of bubbly, pouring one bottle on his head, another down his back.

No wonder the party was so sweet. The Astros never had one like this before.

Houston won its first pennant after 44 seasons, owing it all to Oswalt, who took his team's hopes, dreams and gritty resolve and pitched the Astros past St. Louis 5-1 on Wednesday night.

"It was worth the wait," Clemens said. "This is for the city. This is for our fans at home."

Even with the NL trophy firmly in their grasp, the Astros could hardly believe it.

"It's been a long time, you know. I'm not greedy, I'm not selfish, just wanted to go one time," Craig Biggio said. "I can't tell you how happy I am, it took us a long time and we've got 5 million people in Houston who are very pumped up right now."

His teammate of 15 years, Jeff Bagwell, echoed those sentiments.

"Toward the end of my career, I didn't want an opportunity like this to go by," said Bagwell, a prolific slugger slowed by shoulder injuries the past few years.

Coming off a crushing loss in Game 5 of the NL championship series at home on Albert Pujols' stunning homer, the stubborn Astros refused to be shaken. They jumped to an early lead behind Biggio and Jason Lane, got perhaps a little help from the umpires and watched Oswalt shut down St. Louis for seven innings in earning the series MVP award.

Now here comes the mighty (gack) Sox. Should be a fun series.
Griese out for season with knee injury - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
Bummer. Big big bummer.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Tampa Bay quarterback Brian Griese will miss the rest of the season after tearing ligaments in his left knee.

Griese was injured during the second quarter of Sunday's 27-13 victory over Miami, and just before Tuesday's NFL trade deadline the Bucs acquired Tim Rattay as a backup for Chris Simms and Luke McCown.

But until coach Jon Gruden's announcement Wednesday that Griese will be sidelined the remainder of the year, the Bucs had not acknowledged publicly that the quarterback's injury was more than a sprained knee that might keep him out for a lengthy period.

I thought Griese was the key to Tampa's success. Can they do it without him?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Nancy Pelosi posts DeLay's warrant!

BAHAHAHAHA!

Gotta love it!

Update: As of Thursday morning, it's gone. Maybe they made her take it down.

Fortunately, Americablog grabbed it! See it here.
Arrest warrant issued for DeLay - Yahoo! News
Tonight on "Culture of Corruption"- Tommy's on the run! Issue an APB!

HOUSTON (Reuters) - An arrest warrant was issued on Wednesday and bail set at $10,000 for former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay ahead of his scheduled court appearance this week in Austin, Texas for money laundering and conspiracy charges, a Texas court clerk said.

The so-called "capias" was a "purely procedural event" but would require DeLay to turn himself into authorities to be fingerprinted and photographed, Travis County Grand Jury Clerk Linda Estrada said.

Court officials said DeLay was expected to go to Fort Bend County jail in his district near Houston for booking, but that had not been confirmed.

"To any sheriff or peace officer of the state of Texas, greetings, you are hereby commanded to arrest Thomas Dale DeLay and keep him safely so that you have him before the 331st Judicial District Court of Travis County," the warrant said.

DeLay has been charged with conspiracy and money laundering in a campaign finance scheme tied to his political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority.

Will Tommy make bail? Tune in tomorrow when you'll hear Sheriff Lobo say, "Bastard pissed in the back of the squad car. Somebody get me an air freshener" -on another exciting episode of "Culture of Corruption"!
Earthquake Death Toll Rises to 79,000 - Yahoo! News
The American media backed right off of this. I don't see Katie Couric out there lifting rubble with her bare hands. Have we OD'ed on disaster?

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan - Two strong aftershocks from South Asia's deadly earthquake shook the devastated region on Wednesday, unleashing landslides and setting off another wave of panic among survivors who lost loved ones and homes in the Oct. 8 disaster. A new tally from regional officials pushed the death toll to 79,000.

Despite brisk sorties of helicopters delivering aid to quake victims, an estimated half-million survivors, many of them in Pakistan's portion of Kashmir, have yet to receive any help since the monster 7.6-magnitude quake leveled entire villages. Thousands need urgent medical care.

The situation is the most dire in the estimated 1,000 settlements outside the main cities and towns, said regional U.N. disaster coordinator Rob Holden.

"Many people out there, we are not going to get to in time," Holden said. "Some people who have injuries don't have a chance of survival."

On Wednesday, Asif Iqbal Daudzai, information minister for Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, said 37,958 people died in the province and at least 23,172 were injured, the vast majority of them in Mansehra district. He said the figures were based on reports from local government and hospital officials, and that the toll was likely to rise.

The prime minister of neighboring Pakistani-held Kashmir, Sikander Hayat Khan, said at least 40,000 people died in that region. India has reported 1,360 deaths in the part of Kashmir that it controls.

Pakistan's central government has said the death toll from North West Frontier Province and Pakistani-held Kashmir was a total of 42,000, and expected to rise. The central count has lagged behind the local count since the early days of the disaster.

Good luck folks.
Hurricane Wilma Grows to Category 5 Storm - Yahoo! News
Damn. That was quick.

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras - Gathering strength at a fierce pace, Hurricane Wilma grew into one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded early Wednesday, a Category 5 monster packing 175 mph wind that forecasts warned was "extremely dangerous."

Wilma was dumping rain on Central America and Mexico, and forecasters warned of a "significant threat" to Florida by the weekend.

"All interests in the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula should closely monitor the progress of extremely dangerous Hurricane Wilma," the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its latest advisory.

Based on a preliminary reading of its pressure, forecasters said Wilma was perhaps the most powerful Atlantic storm on record.

A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance planes recorded a preliminary pressure reading Wednesday morning of 884 millibars, the lowest minimum pressure for a hurricane in the Atlantic. But the pressure reading was not yet official because it had not been immediately verified. Lower pressure translates into higher wind speed.

The strongest on record, based on the lowest pressure reading, is Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, which registered an 888 millibar reading.

Wilma gathered force rapidly over the last day. Only Tuesday morning, it grew from a tropical storm into a weak hurricane.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

USNews.com: N and W: Cheney resignation rumors fly (10/18/05)
Holy shit.

Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"It's certainly an interesting but I still think highly doubtful scenario," said a Bush insider. "And if that should happen," added the official, "there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated – another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP."

Said another Bush associate of the rumor, "Yes. This is not good." The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008.

"Isn't she pro-choice?" asked a key Senate Republican aide. Many White House insiders, however, said the Post story and reports that the investigation was coming to a close had officials instead more focused on who would be dragged into the affair and if top aides would be indicted and forced to resign.

"Folks on the inside and near inside are holding their breath and wondering what's next," said a Bush adviser. But, he added, they aren't focused on the future of the vice president. "Not that, at least not seriously," he said.

These guys are as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Heh heh. I'd love to walk up behind them and go "BOO!". Except I'd probably get shot.

New scuttlebutt: John Hannah is the snitch.
New York Daily News - Home - Cheney may be target of probe
Oh please oh please oh please.... I do believe in karma, I do believe in karma, I do believe in karma...

WASHINGTON - A special prosecutor's intensifying focus into who outed a CIA spy has raised questions whether Vice President Cheney himself is involved, knowledgeable sources confirmed yesterday.

At least one source and one reporter who have testified in the probe said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is pursuing Cheney's role in the Valerie Plame affair.

In addition, at least six current and former Cheney staffers - most members of the White House Iraq Group - have testified before the grand jury, including the vice president's top honcho, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, and two top Cheney national security lieutenants.

Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch.

"They have got a senior cooperating witness - someone who is giving them all of that," a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday.

Rumor has it that snitch is Ari Fleischer. How sweet would that be.
Lidge Blows Save for Astros - Yahoo! News
This was one of the most heart-breaking games I have ever seen.

HOUSTON - The Houston Astros were one strike away from their first World Series with the home crowd worked into a frenzy and hard-throwing Brad Lidge — who else? — in control. Turn out the lights and get the party started, right? Not so fast.

The crowd was screaming, jumping up and down, they were there, man. They were on their way to the World Series. If you could ignore George and Barbara Bush behind home plate (and I had a hard time doing that), you could really get behind them and feel the emotion. I love sports moments like that- I literally get chills.

And then? Boom. It all came unglued.

It's back St. Louis instead after the Cardinals pulled out a 5-4 victory against Lidge in Game 5 of the NL championship series Monday night.

David Eckstein grounded a two-strike, two-out single through the left side of the infield and Jim Edmonds drew a five-pitch walk. Still, the Astros had a 4-2 lead when manager Phil Garner made a trip to the mound to talk to his closer.

Two pitches later, Albert Pujols hit a towering three-run homer and the Cardinals forced the series back to Busch Stadium for Game 6 on Wednesday.

If the roof hadn't been closed, that ball that Pujols hit would still be traveling. It was that mammoth.

And all the air went out of the stadium, and it got real quiet.

Sad.

Can Houston come back after that?

Do I really care? The play-offs are a Cubs fan's nightmare. A World Series between the Cardinals and the White Sox is our version of Hell, with a capital "H". I can't decide who irritates me more.

Bah.
It's All About Football:

Atlanta 34, New Orleans 31
Carolina 21, Detroit 20 ( Joey's got to go-ey.)
Cincinnati 31, Tennessee 23
Baltimore 16, Cleveland 3
Jacksonville 23, Pittsburgh 17 (OT)
Tampa Bay 27, Miami 13
Chicago 28, Minnesota 3 (Ooops! I forgot that Minnesota sucks)
Dallas 16, N.Y. Giants 13 (OT) (Faints from shock)
Kansas City 28, Washington 21
Denver 28, New England 20
Buffalo 27, N.Y. Jets 17
San Diego 27, Oakland 14
Seattle 42, Houston 10
St. Louis 28 Indianapolis 45

11-3.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Senator: Charges possible over Williams contract - Yahoo! News
Your "Culture of Corruption" update for Monday.

Man, we're gonna hafta hire some more prosecutors pretty soon.


The Education Department has acknowledged that it is working with the U.S. attorney's office in Washington to investigate the Bush administration's contract with commentator Armstrong Williams. That suggests civil or criminal charges could be filed, according to Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

"The inspector general wouldn't refer this to the U.S. attorney unless there was evidence of misconduct that requires further investigating," Dan Katz, Lautenberg's chief counsel, told the Associated Press.

Friday, Lautenberg publicly released a letter from Education Department Inspector General John Higgins disclosing the referral.

Williams told USA TODAY on Friday that he has been cooperating with the Justice Department's attorneys since July. He said he expects to pay back some of the money because he did not fulfill the government contract, which called for him to promote President Bush's No Child Left Behind education law and persuade others to do the same.

Congressional auditors last month found that the $240,000 contract violated a ban on "covert propaganda" and said the Education Department should ask for some of the money back. Higgins, while criticizing the deal as "bad management" of tax dollars, found no ethical breaches during his investigation. He issued that report on April 15.

But in the letter sent to Lautenberg, Higgins says he is "currently working" with the U.S. attorney's office on an investigation. Lautenberg has pressed for fraud charges, and his office said Friday that the U.S. attorney's office has "an active investigation" of the contract.

Cheers for Lautenberg!
AMERICAblog: The Normalization of Treason, the Republicans' gift to America
Aravosis knocks it out of the park. A must read.

If a senior White House staffer had intentionally outed an American spy during World War II, he'd have been shot.

We're at war, George Bush keeps reminding us. We cannot continue with business as usual. A pre-9/11 mentality is deadly. Putting the lives of our troops at risk is treason.

Then why is the White House and the Republican party engaged in a concerted campaign to make treason acceptable during a time of war? That's exactly what they're doing. On numerous news shows today, Republican surrogates, their talking points ready, issued variations of the following concerning White House chief of staff Karl Rove's outing of a covert CIA agent as part of a political vendetta:

- It's the criminalization of politics
- Is this 'minor' leak really worth all this?
- Political payback is common and should not be criminalized
- Mis-speaking or mis-remembering is not a crime

Yes, the Republicans are now making light of an intentional effort to expose an undercover CIA agent, working on weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, no less, while we are at war in the Middle East on that very issue.

The GOP has become the party of treason.

It would be one thing for a senior adviser to the president to put the nation's security at risk during a time of war. That could be explained as an aberration - a quite serious one, no doubt - but a fluke nonetheless. But when the president himself refuses to keep his own word about firing that aberration, and when the entire Republican party rallies around that fluke and tries to minimize what is usually a capital offense during wartime, something is seriously wrong with that party and its leadership.

America is ignoring the Geneva Conventions because our president feels that winning this war is so paramount. Our Congress has watered down our civil rights laws. We have jailed American citizens with no access to legal counsel. And our President even believes it is worth lying to the American people in order to wage this so-important battle. All this because we are a nation at war and nothing will be permitted to stand in the way of this life-and-death struggle.

But when a senior aide to the President of the United States endangers the life of an undercover CIA agent, her colleagues and contacts around the world - when he chooses to put at risk our entire effort to undercover weapons of mass destruction before they are used to kill millions in an American city - what response do we get from the Bush White House and the Republican Party? A defensive (offensive) shrug.

The Republican party's gift to the American people, and the Bush administration's legacy, will be the normalization of treason. They are trying to convince Americans that betraying our country during wartime for personal gain is no more serious than running a stop sign or going 60 in a 55 zone.

This is followed up by Hunter at Daily Kos with a marvelous attack on the punditry class who are aiding and abetting and applauding these criminals every step of the way when they are not whining about their own vicitimization. Another must read. Some excerpts-

Party over country. You can hear it in Miller's accountings of her conversations with Libby; you can hear the "crimes aren't crimes if they're done for the sake of politics" meme from pundits like Chris Matthews and William Kristol; you can hear it everywhere in Washington, for that matter. Lying about sex had many of these same pundits foaming and frothing at the outrage of it all; compromising our intelligence assets against weapons of mass destruction, at the very same time the government is warning us to stock up on duct tape and watch out for swarthy bearded types holding glow-in-the-dark suitcases, is considered too shallow a crime to pursue -- if a Republican does it.

There's something beyond mere politics in all of this. Politics, one would hope, is not sufficient reason to damage the country. This is different. This is the cult of power, and of corruption, that is not just defended, but celebrated by pundits, by journalists, and by politicians alike.

These are the Movement Republicans of Fox News, whose talking points are set over their cups of coffee in accordance to whatever the Bush-focused needs of the day prove to be. Deficits are bad, then deficits are good. Espionage against America is bad, except when it's no big deal. States' rights, but never mind. Drugs are bad, except when Rush does it. The Katrina response was fantastic! Iraq is going well! The economy, booming! Cronyism is good!

Blah, blah, blah. Punditry with the predictable pattern and spray of automatic lawn sprinklers. If Iraq has turned into the much-predicted fiasco most observers expected it would, it's because liberals didn't believe hard enough. If the economy is going to hell, it's the fault of the damn American middle class, which needs to collectively get off its quivering, jobless ass and buy a few hundred thousand new cars. And if a Republican commits a crime, it's the Democrats fault for politicizing it.

Honestly, do these people have a bone of responsibility or self-accountability in their thick, Clinton-addled skulls? Is their brand of so-called "conservatism" nothing more than the economic and national security version of Intelligent Design, in which it'll all just work out fine if you draw a picture of Noah carrying everyone's 401K plans onto the Ark?

Whether it be election law, campaign finance law or lobbying restrictions, we see Republicans in legal jeopardy defended primarily by the arguments like Chris Matthews' faux-dismissive "everybody does it" or Bill Kristol's sniffling "how dare you bring these things up". Whether it be government report after government report found to be "cooked" by political cronies who need to sell by deception what actual fact can't support, or government payments to ostensible pundits, or the wholesale manufacture of fake reporters producing fake news segments, there is literally nothing -- nothing -- which a movement Bush loyalist apparently finds ethically questionable, and damn you for finding out about it in the first place.

No. No dice, pundit class. Don't give us vapid, amoral, blastfaxed crap about how horrible it is that everyone-on-the-planet-but-the-involved-Republicans are responsible for a certain collection of viciously partisan figures toeing the fine lines of numerous federal laws, and finally losing their balance on a half-dozen of them.

Is this the best face that the Republican Party can put on? Is this the best defense against scandal after scandal -- to ignore the sentenced, defend the indicted, blame the investigators, and howl at the injustice of it all?

Just go read the whole thing. There's more beauty and truth to be had. Here's the link again.

Copy, cut, paste, put it on your blog, tack it to a telephone pole, spread the word and -most of all- somebody wake up the goddamn Democratic Party, who, by their silence, are almost proving to be co-conspirators in this whole fiasco.

Amazing writing from the team this weekend. Why can't we get these guys on TV? Al, are you listening?