Russia's Double Game

Think Progess has tied a number of threads together to give a rather bleak forcast for the Middle East in coming years:

Russia announced this week that it would proceed with a plan to sell 29 sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, spurning a call by the Bush administration to not “continue with the arms sale.”

Rosa Brooks writes today in the Los Angeles Times that the Russian-Iranian deal is cause for alarm because it could precipitate the next war, a war between Iran and Israel. Brooks writes that Russia is playing a deceptive “double game” that could initiate such a war in the near future:


Brooks writes a regional war would draw the U.S. into the conflict, causing the entire Middle East to “implode,” terrorist attacks worldwide to increase further, and the U.S.’s global influence to wane. Andrei Piontkovsky, a Russian political analyst, believes Russia’s oil and gas oligarchs won’t shed any tears over a war in the Middle East, especially if it keeps oil prices high.
One wonders whether 50 years in the future, if the idea that the 'Cold War' ended when Russia abandoned communism will be a laughable one.

Dem. Reps Arrested at Darfur Protest

Via the AP:

Five Congress members were willingly arrested and led away from the Sudanese Embassy in plastic handcuffs Friday in protest of the Sudanese government's role in atrocities in the Darfur region.

"The slaughter of the people of Darfur must end," Rep. Tom Lantos (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., a Holocaust survivor who founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, said from the embassy steps before his arrest.

Four other Democratic Congress members — James McGovern and John Olver of Massachusetts, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Jim Moran of Virginia — were among 11 protesters arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly, a misdemeanor subject to a fine.

"We must hold the Sudanese government accountable for the attacks they have supported on their own citizens in Darfur," Olver said.
With all that's going on in America, we can'affordrd to forget about the unfolding tragedy in Darfur. It's sad that TV shows like 'ER' are doing more to bring this to the attention of the American people than the 'News' shows. I guess they're still go busy reporting on Natalie Halloway.

Her death is a tragedy. Millions of dead Africans is what? A foot note?

It's good to see that there are some Democrats (no Republican, I note) in government that are aware of the situation...

In Virginia, No Less

The Washington Post is reporting on Democrats running on Anti-War platforms in Maryland - and Virginia?

From a cocktail party of liberal contributors in Baltimore to the ball-cap-wearing crowd in a conservative town in southwest Virginia, wherever Democratic loyalists gather, there are five words sure to prompt applause for a Senate candidate:

End the war in Iraq.

Virginia Democrat James H. Webb Jr.'s early warnings about invading Iraq are the main reason he has been so embraced by the liberal bloggers who started a draft movement to get him into the race. Maryland candidate Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin was one of 133 House members who voted against the original resolution authorizing President Bush to take action -- and he might be the most conservative on the issue among Democrats seeking to replace retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D).

And Webb's Democratic opponent in the June 13 primary, Harris Miller, called on Bush yesterday to fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and mocked Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) for saying on a talk show that "important progress" is being made in Iraq.
Webb is a former Marine, a decorated Vietnam Veteran and was secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan. REAGAN.

One of the most interesting things about living in the Metro Area is that you get campaign adds from both Virginia and Maryland. Granted, Northern Virginia is pretty 'Blue' but for state-wide races, I get to hear some real Red-State rhetoric. Especially during the recent race for Governor of Virginia.

If a candidate is being successful calling for the firing of Don Rumsfeld is playing in South Western Virginia (the Post article is about Webb's speech in Gate City) then BushCo and the Republicans are in trouble.

Problems for Romney

It's always nice to watch the Christianists squable amongst themselves. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Mitt Romney, in his last nine months as governor of Massachusetts, was in Washington Tuesday to address the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in an early stage of his 2008 presidential campaign. To a growing number of Republican activists, he looks like the party's best bet. But any conversation among Republicans about Romney invariably touches on concerns of whether his Mormon faith disqualifies him for the presidency.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits a religious test for public office, but that is precisely what is being posed now. Prominent, respectable Evangelical Christians have told me, not for quotation, that millions of their co-religionists cannot and will not vote for Romney for president solely because he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If Romney is nominated and their abstention results in the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton, that's just too bad. The evangelicals are adamant, saying there is no way Romney can win them over.
So, to clarify, a Republican with strong beliefs in God will not get votes from Evangelical Christianists because he believes the wrong things about God. This is really frightening.

It's all for the Cameras

From the AP:

House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Ill., center, gets out of a Hydrogen Alternative Fueled automobile, left, as he prepares to board his SUV, which uses gasoline, after holding a new conference at a local gas station in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2006 to discuss the recent rise in gas prices. Hastert and other members of Congress drove off in the Hydrogen-Fueled cars only to switch to their official cars to drive back the few block back to the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Classy, Dennis. I mean, really, was it so offensive to just sit in a Hybrid until you actually got where you were going? Does it irritate your Republican skin or something?

Bush's Vision

Cartoon by Mr. Fish.

Shades of Things to Come

Via the AP:

SPRING, Texas - Two white teenagers severely beat and sodomized a Hispanic 16-year-old boy who they believed had tried to kiss a Hispanic 12-year-old girl at a party, authorities said.

The attackers forced the boy out of the Saturday night house party, beat him and sodomized him with a plastic pipe, shouting anti-Hispanic epithets, said sheriff's Lt. John Martin.
A minority attacked because he tried to kiss someone? Haven't we been here before?
Harris County prosecutor Mike Trent said the attackers also cut the victim with a knife. They then poured bleach over the boy, apparently to destroy DNA evidence, and left him for dead, authorities said. He was not discovered until Sunday, 12 hours after the attack.
Severe internal injuries, cuts to the chest, and head injuries have left the youth equally likely to die as survive.

For all the claims that people like Michelle Malkin make about it 'not being about race' these attacks prove that, at the root, it is. Nobody's calling to wall off Canada.

UPDATE: 1:04 pm - From the Houston Chronicle, we get even more details on how brutal the attack was and confirmation that Tuck was a white supremacist. It's really disturbing.


The Land of Oppurtunity Isn't


America may still think of itself as the land of opportunity, but the chances of living a rags-to-riches life are a lot lower than elsewhere in the world, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

The likelihood that a child born into a poor family will make it into the top five percent is just one percent, according to "Understanding Mobility in America", a study by economist Tom Hertz from American University.

By contrast, a child born rich had a 22 percent chance of being rich as an adult, he said.

"In other words, the chances of getting rich are about 20 times higher if you are born rich than if you are born in a low-income family," he told an audience at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank sponsoring the work.

He also found the United States had one of the lowest levels of inter-generational mobility in the wealthy world, on a par with Britain but way behind most of Europe.
I'm shocked. Especially about this part:
On average, 47 percent of poor families remain poor. But within this, 32 percent of whites stay poor while the figure for blacks is 63 percent.
But there racism is gone from America, right Tony Snow?

Senator Specter Postures

After seeing the trouble his fellow Republican Senator from Pennsylvania has found as a result of being a Bush lap dog, Sen. Specter talks big. From the AP:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said Thursday he is considering legislation to cut off funding for the Bush administration's secret domestic wiretapping program until he gets satisfactory answers about it from the White House.

"Institutionally, the presidency is walking all over Congress at the moment," Specter, R-Pa., told the panel. "If we are to maintain our institutional prerogative, that may be the only way we can do it."

Specter said he had informed President Bush about his intention and that he has attracted several potential co-sponsors. He said he's become increasingly frustrated in trying to elicit information about the program from senior White House officials at several public hearings.

According to a copy of the amendment obtained by The Associated Press, it would enact a "prohibition on use of funds for domestic electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes unless Congress is kept fully and currently informed."
Of course that sort of language will get you in serious trouble, if the right people decide your serious. Specter has gotten a pass for his independent mindedness because in the end, he always caves.

He talked big about the Administration having to be willing to compromise on Judicial Appointments. Didn't Happen. He talks about being Pro-Choice, but when it comes down to it, he sat there and let two Supreme Court Justices get past him.

I'm hoping Arlen will prove my pessimism wrong. But I'm betting he won't.

Libby will go to Trial

Today's Washington Post:

A federal judge refused Thursday to dismiss charges against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former top White House aide who was indicted on perjury and obstruction charges last year in the CIA leak scandal.

In a 31-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton turned down a motion by lawyers for Vice President Dick Cheney's one-time top assistant, who challenged the authority of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to handle the case.

Libby's lawyers had argued that Fitzgerald was given too much power _ more than the attorney general _ and that the appointment should have been made by the president with the Senate's approval.
Isn't this what conservatives love to rail about when anybody brings up victim's rights? "To many criminals already get off on these little technicalities! So what if the police didn't have the warrant, they could have gotten one any time they wanted..."

It's a little different when the shoe's on the other foot, isn't it?

Either way, it's good to see that some parts of the judicial system haven't been intimidated by BushCo's ravings.

How much do you make in a day?

Exxon-Mobil makes about $93,000,000 a day. Reuters:

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, on Thursday reported quarterly profit surged, driven by rising oil prices.

Net income in the first quarter was $8.4 billion, or $1.37 a share, up from $7.86 billion, or $1.22 a share, a year earlier.

Revenue jumped to $88.98 billion from $82.05 billion.

Crude oil prices have risen steadily from about $20 a barrel in 2002 to over $75 last week, handing oil and gas companies a long-running profit bonanza.
Anybody else out there turning their car off at stoplights yet?


So they decided that since it would be an embarrassment to keep a failure around, the Republicans have decided to kill FEMA.

The proposed replacement, the National Preparedness and Response Authority would still be a cabinet level position. And Na-PRA just doesn't roll of the tongue like FeeMa does.


Rove Rumors

TruthOut and the Washington Post are both reporting on Rove's trip to see Father Fitzmas.


Karl Rove's appearance before a grand jury in the CIA leak case Wednesday comes on the heels of a "target letter" sent to his attorney recently by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, signaling that the Deputy White House Chief of Staff may face imminent indictment, sources that are knowledgeable about the probe said Wednesday.

It's unclear when Fitzgerald sent the target letter to Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin. Sources close to the two-year-old leak investigation said when Rove's attorney received the letter Rove volunteered to appear before the grand jury for an unprecedented fifth time to explain why he did not previously disclose conversations he had with the media about covert CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who criticized the Bush administration's use of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

A federal grand jury target letter is sent to a person in a criminal investigation who is likely to be indicted. In a prepared statement Wednesday, Luskin said Fitzgerald indicated that Rove is not a "target" of the investigation. A "target" of a grand jury investigation is a person who a prosecutor has substantial evidence to link to a crime.
Washington Post:
Top presidential adviser Karl Rove testified today before a federal grand jury investigating the 2003 leak of a CIA operative's identity, appearing "voluntarily and unconditionally" at the request of the chief federal prosecutor, Rove's attorney said.

In a statement issued upon the conclusion of Rove's testimony at the federal courthouse in Washington, attorney Robert D. Luskin said the special counsel in the case, U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, had advised Rove that he was "not a target of the investigation." However, Luskin said Fitzgerald has not made any decision about charges.
Ok, that's largely the same thing. Sorry. I was hoping for some differences.

Anyway, Cindy Adams (gossip columnist) at the New York Post has this to say:
THE spinners have spun at the Wash ington Post. Bob Woodward, and you can't get hardly no more bigger name associated with that big newspaper, even talked the R-word. Resignation.

It's still about the Weapons of Mass Destruction - Judith Miller - Valerie Plame - Ambassador Joe Wilson - Scooter Libby - special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald problem. It's what did he know, and when did he know it, and why didn't he know he should have said what he knew.
Gossip Column... Take it for what you will.

Homo-Bigots Lose.

Sometimes there's good news.

A shareholder proposal to end Kraft Foods' support of the 2006 Gay Games VII was overwhelmingly rejected by the food company and its investors at its annual stockholders' meeting yesterday.
Dr. Marcella Meyer, the stockholder who objected to the $25,000 sponsorship, was outvoted 99% to 1%.

I cover a lot of bad news. This is good news.

Snow won't Drink The Kool-Aid

If he did, could I call him Tony Snowcone?

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has Tony Snow's first interview (after the announcement that he's the new Press Secretary.) Excerpt:

Q [Ken Herman]. Your criticism of him in the past, are you free to keep telling him that kind of stuff now that you are on the payroll?

A [Tony Snow]. Probably not in those exact words.

Q. But the same message? They want to hear it?

A. Yeah. They want people to express their opinions. You'’re not coming here to drink the Kool-Aid. You're coming here to serve the president. And at this particular juncture I think what you want is as much honest counsel as you can get. So when I agree I'’m going to agree but when I disagree I disagree. But on any opinion his vote is the tie-breaker.

Q. On Iraq, you'’re still fully on board with what'’s going on over there?

A. The president is the guy who runs the place. I'’ll speak for him and some other point I'’ll speak for myself. How'’s that?
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the policy he's about to be trying to sell to a skeptical American Public. And Mr. Snow has been a little skeptical himself.
-– Bush has “lost control of the federal budget and cannot resist the temptation to stop raiding the public fisc."” [3/17/06]

-– "“George W. Bush and his colleagues have become not merely the custodians of the largest government in the history of humankind, but also exponents of its vigorous expansion."” [3/17/06]

-– "President Bush distilled the essence of his presidency in this year'’s State of the Union Address: brilliant foreign policy and listless domestic policy." [2/3/06]

- "George Bush has become something of an embarrassment." [11/11/05]
That's all in the past, though, I'm sure. Because how else could someone go from finding the leader oembarrassmentorld "an embarassment" just a few months ago to being his greatest champion?

Rummy's Congress Problem

Not Iraq's congress, although that's a problem for Rummy too. Via the Washington Post:

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, underscoring lawmakers' concerns about the Iraq war's progress, said yesterday that he may invite testimony from retired generals who have called for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to resign.

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) said he will confer with colleagues before deciding whether to schedule a hearing that would feature defenders of Rumsfeld as well as retired officers who have stirred debate in recent days by saying the secretary should step down. "I commit to making a decision on this request in the near future," Warner said in a statement, adding that the panel has a busy schedule.

Concerned about the mounting criticism and a possible hearing, more than a dozen Republican senators rallied to Rumsfeld's defense yesterday. They treated him to a breakfast in the Capitol and praised him throughout the day.
The man fucks up a country, presides over a military disaster (tactical and strategic) and they buy him breakfast. They spent the day praising him. I mean, I know that God speaks to Bush, which, at best, makes him a prophet. No word on God speaking to Rumsfeld. Possibly The Almighty is trying to do so through a burning oil well and Rumsfeld, despite planning the war, isn't anywhere near it. An understandable mistake on God's part... Either way, should Republicans, voted into office on the basis of their Christiantm credentials really be praising anybody? Does their base know that they're idolators?

These Rumsfeldians say that there are only a few retired Generals speaking out and that we should ignore them. (Like the man behind the curtain.) I don't remember hearing any retired Generals speaking out about mistakes during the First Gulf War or the Operations in Bosnia...
Those who have sharply criticized Rumsfeld's handling of the war, and urged that he be replaced, include retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq; retired Marine Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper; retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, who was director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2000 to 2002; and retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi soldiers in 2003 and 2004.

Many other high-ranking retired and active officers have defended Rumsfeld, as has President Bush. Still, military historians say, the level of wartime criticism is notable, and a Senate panel hearing would give the retired officers a new platform for their arguments.
These are the Generals that had the greatest insight into this war. The ones that dealt with the big picture. The ones that were on the ground trying to implement Rumsfeld's plans. They're not, as the Right would have you believe, trying to overthrow civilian leadership of the military, they're acting as good citizens. They're using the specialized knowledge and first hand experiences as Americans to better our country. They're doing this by speaking out against people that are damaging our institutions and our reputation.

They're sharing their opinions and knowledge with the people. That's what frightens the Republicans.

Rank Hypocrisy

After the shameful circus that was the Terri Schiavo incident, a family in Texas is facing a similar situation. Actually, Andrea Clark, patient at St. Luke's Hospital, Huston, faces something a little different... From the North Country Gazette:

No, she's not terminal, her family says and she's not brain dead. Her sisters say that she wants to live. The Houston hospital is going to unilaterally remove a woman from life support, apparently based on the decision of a lone physician even though her family wants her to continue to receive care.

The central issue in the Andrea Clark case is the same as that in the Terri Schindler Schiavo case, whether the state should be able to sanction the removal of a human being from life support.

What's even more significant in the Clark case is that the Texas bill that allows health care providers to end a human life despite the wishes of the patient and the patient's family was signed into law in 1999 by President George W. Bush as Texas Governor.
What's that? Bush signed a law that allowed insurance companies to get out of paying for something which is expensive when they decide it's going to cut into their profits? Shocking! Wait! That includes life support. He signed a law that meant that an Insurance Company can decide when life is over but flew to Washington to make sure that a spouse couldn't? Family Valuestm strikes again.

Rove meeting with Fitzgerald

Think Progress has it from CNN:

CNN is told by three force sources familiar with the investigation that this morning Karl Rove, the president’s deputy chief of staff and top political adviser, is meeting with his attorney and is to meet this morning — if it is not already under way — with the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. According to sources, the goal of the meeting is for Karl to clear up some lingering questions about his role in a White House campaign to undermine Ambassador Joe Wilson — remember he was the the critic of the Bush administration case ever going to war in Iraq, his wife the CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose name was Outed.
I don't know if this means that Fitzmas is finally going to come, but I do know that having the news run stories that your top political advisor is taking his lawyer and meeting with a Federal Prosecuter isn't good for a President that already has abismal numbers.

More news as it comes in.

Bush vs. Trees

Via the Washington Post:

HELENA, Mont. -- A federal judge struck down regulations that limited the public's ability to challenge U.S. Forest Service decisions on timber sales and other projects.

The judge issued an injunction Monday against a2 rule that required people to specify objections to Forest Service projects while they are under consideration, or forfeit the right to challenge them later. The injunction applies nationwide.

The judge also struck down a rule that exempted some Forest Service projects from requirements for environmental analyses, and another rule that allowed the government to bypass public involvement in national forest management by having the agriculture secretary or undersecretary sign decisions on agency projects.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula agreed with federal court decisions in California that invalidated those two rules earlier. He said Congress wants the public to have wide rights to appeal Forest Service decisions.
The 'Sportsmen for Bush' stickers so prevelent in my hometown always struck me as short-sighted. Yeah, the NRA hates Democrats, but if you're really a sportsmen, you'd appreciate things like clean water so you can safely eat the fish you catch without fear of mercury poisoning. And having forests that haven't been clear cut is helpful when it comes to hunting deer.

People are starting to figure this out. Too late, as usual.

The Right and Sex

The Right always seems obsessed with sex. Especially sex among young people. I'll let your inner Freud examine the possible roots of this obsession with young people and sex. But while we're on the topic, let's discuss Janet Woodcock's thoughts on Plan B.

From Newsday.com:

Former FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford, Dr. Janet Woodcock, deputy operations commissioner, and Dr. Steven Galson, director of the FDA's drug evaluation center, are to testify in court-ordered depositions to be taken by attorneys for the Manhattan-based Center for Reproductive Rights on April 26, 27 and 28 in Washington, D.C. and Rockville, Md.

The women's group seeks to force approval of over-the-counter sales of Plan B, which can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.

Simon Heller, one of the attorneys, plans to quiz Woodcock about a March 23, 2004, staff memo suggesting she was concerned Plan B might lead to teenage promiscuity.

The FDA is only supposed to consider the safety and efficacy of drugs.

In the memo released by the FDA during the discovery process, Dr. Curtis Rosebraugh, an agency medical officer, wrote: "As an example, she stated that we could not anticipate, or prevent extreme promiscuous behaviors such as the medication taking on an 'urban legend' status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B."
Emphasis mine. Seriously, you're worried about a morning after pill giving rise to sex cults?

Somebody wasn't popular in High School.

Adolecence is dominated by the idea that everybody is having sex but you. I guess the Right just never grew out of that...

He Contorts, You Deride

We all knew it was coming but the Decider in Chief has been told that his decision is that Tony Snow is the new Press Secretary.

Like everybody else in the G.W. Bush White House, Josh Bolten's pick to replace Scott McClellan worked in the G.H.W. Bush administration.

It just goes to show you that once you get used to Daddy bailing you out off all the tough spots in life...

And now, in tribute, a song. Sung to the tune of 'Frosty the Snowman'

Tony the Snowman, was a Right-Wing, FoxNews shill,

For the G.O.P. and for Dick Cheney, it's enough to make you ill.

Tony the Snowman, used to work for Daddy too.

He was helpful then, but Bush needs him when he could use a point or two.

There hoping for some magic in that old slick hack they found,

For when they placed him at the mic, he began to dance around!

Oh, Tony, the Snowman, was as slick as he could be;

and the press all say he could lie his way,

out of anything, you'll see!

Trickery trick, trick, Trickery trick, trick,

look at Tony go.

Trickery trick, trick, Trickery trick, trick,

For the Pres you know!.

Disasters Past and Present

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the disaster at Chernobyl and the point at which we only have 1000 more days of Bush.

Coincidence? I report, you decide.


Living in America is a Gas

My recent trip back to PA to see my parents (where I filled my tank for a cheap $2.89 per gallon) and my upcoming trip to Fredrick tomorrow have severely cut into my gasoline budget. As such, money that would have been used for something enjoyable is now being poured into my gas tank. I blame Bush. Of course I have every reason to do so...

On May 07, 2001 this was part of the White House Briefing:

Q Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?

MR. FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life.
Thanks, asshat. You could have been working on this problem for the last 5 years. Except that you didn't even think it was a problem! Of course neither did Ford or GM. Now they're losing money because they banked on SUVs.

I'm not the President of the United States or the CEO of a huge auto company, but even I know that with a fixed amount of oil in the world and India and China emerging as super-economies, oil prices are going to go up. Miss Beaver's 12th grade econ class covered that one. But Bush's education, apparently, didn't. Only people who earn their way into Yale get into that class.

I digress...

I have been to Europe. I've lived there. In Rome, where I lived, petrol is over $5.00 a gallon. Life didn't stop, people adapted their lifestyles. They drove scooters or rode buses. Trains were available. Windows opened instead of central air.

As much as it will gall Right-Wingers, America will adopt that model of life. There's no other choice.

UPDATE - 4:36pm: From Hotline:
per WH pooler Julie Mason of the Houston Chronicle: "En route [to the Marriott Wardman Park], the motorcade passed the Exxon station next to the Watergate, where gas prices were $3.29, $3.39 and $3.49 a gallon. Just saying."
I guess Presidents don't worry about having to stop for gas. Or stoplights for that matter.

Virginia Resident Rick Santorum

SantorumExposed has video of the junior Senator from my home state accidently letting the truth slip out.

Rick Santorum recently addressed students at North Catholic High School in Pittsburgh and said something that we found very interesting. Rick was telling the students that when he was growing up he didn't live close enough to a Catholic high school to attend one. But that's not what we found interesting, what was interesting was when Rick said this, "So, I didn't go to a Catholic high school when I was living in Pennsylvania." (emphasis ours)
Oops. I wonder if that's going to hurt his reelection chances?

Gas Prices ARE Bush's Fault

Really. They are.

The Price of oil isn't rising because there isn't enough to go around. (At least not yet.) The current production of oil is just slightly higher than world demand. And because finding oil, extracting oil, and increasing the refining capabilities needed to produce a usable product are all long processes, there is very little 'room' in the current petroleum industry for any sort of interruption in any of the major producers. Even the minor ones.

What sorts of 'interruptions' you ask? Well, a US war (or strike) against Iran, for one. Since Iran is responsible for 9% of world oil production, any sort of embargo or destruction of production equipment would be disastrous.

The oil futures markets are what's driving up prices - because George Bush and the NeoCons are talking tough to Iran even though the Iranian Nuclear program is years away from a bomb.

Bush's rhetoric is directly responsible for the price you're paying at the pump. And all the posturing he wants to do means nothing. The fact that nothing he's suggested would cut into Oil Company profits should have been your first clue.

Pat Robertson: Koran = Mein Kampf

In the latest in a long running series, I have for your enjoyment, the ramblings of my favorite Christianist idiot, Pat Robertson. Via Media Matters:

ROBERTSON: Erick Stakelbeck, thank you very much. And, ladies and gentlemen, if we had listened to what Adolf Hitler said in Mein Kampf, the West might have been prepared, and World War II would have been averted. We are not listening to what these guys say. We are not listening to what not only the radical Muslims but Islam in general, we're not listening to what it says. And we don't believe it, because we say, "Well, it isn't politically correct to believe that any religious group would do what they claim they are going to do." Well, you'd better believe them, and we'd better be prepared.
That's Pat, rambling about Islam on the April 24th, 2006 edition of his moonbat-crazy show, The 700 Club.

I'm not going to bother with any commentary. I think anybody can figure out that this is idiocy. We're not ignoring what they're saying. We're fucking up our response.

And incidentally, I hope people are paying attention to the things Pat Robertson is saying. Such as:
"The public education movement has also been an anti-Christian movement...We can change education in America if you put Christian principles in and Christian pedagogy in. In three years, you would totally revolutionize education in America." --"The 700 Club," September 27, 1993.

"There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the Left and we are not going to take it anymore." --November 1993 during an address to the American Center for Law and Justice

"“Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It'’s no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history."”
Got a thing for the Nazis, do you Mr. Robertson? And can we please drop this persecuticomplexles?

Greasy Oil-Man in Chief

The AP reports that President Bush has suspended deposits to the U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve in an attempt to lower prices.

Bush also announced steps to ease environmental standards governing fuel grades.

The moves came as political pressure intensified on Bush to do something about gasoline prices that are expected to stay high throughout the summer.

Bush said the nation's strategic petroleum reserve had enough fuel to guard against any major supply disruption over the next few months.

"So, by deferring deposits until the fall, we'll leave a little more oil on the market. Every little bit helps," he said.
Every sentence there deserves a paragraph about why they're bad for America.

Easing environmental standards is a bad solution. It won't really lower prices, it will be bad for the environment, and most importantly, once these standards are lowered, they're very hard to raise back up again.

Taking oil from the Strategic Reserves is about as smart as eating the seed set aside for next years planting. Come fall, when the reserves will need to be refilled, less oil will be on the market. Prices will go up. But I'm sure that will be after the election. Additionally, having those reserves is strategic only if they're maintained. Of course Bush has never been especially good at strategery.

Additionally, the Washington Post reports that Bush has ordered a Price Gouging investigation of the Gas industry.
President Bush has asked the Energy and Justice departments to investigate whether gasoline prices have been illegally manipulated, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters this morning.

The White House is also asking states to guard against unfair pricing.
This will, no doubt, be window dressing. The relevant authorities will go through all the motions, find that only Market Forces, praise their name, are responsible for these increased prices. Republicans can pretend they're doing something while protecting corporate profits. Everybody wins - except you know, real people.

Democrats are Wall Street's Best Friend?

A very interesting Bloomberg article on fundraising, political parties, and Wall Street:

Democrats outdid Republicans last year in attracting political donations from investment banks, brokerages and fund managers for the first time since 1994, helped by support from hedge funds and companies such as Merrill Lynch & Co.

Democrats got $13.6 million, or 52 percent of the financial industry's $26.3 million in political donations in 2005, said the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan Washington group that researches the influence of money on elections and public policy. In the two years leading up to the 2004 presidential election, Republicans received 52 percent of the $91.6 million given by the industry.
This is big.
"Wall Street wants change" on issues such as the Iraq war and the budget deficit, said James Torrey, chairman of the Torrey Funds, which manages about $1 billion. "I'm finding people who are registered Republicans who are saying to me, `what can I do to help?'"

"When the party with no power can raise more money than the party with all the power, it means people are pretty disturbed about the country's condition."
When Wall Street is working against the Republican Party, one of two things is about to happen: The Rature or a pretty big swing in Congress. My guess is that the latter, not the former, would actually get more Republicans out of Congress, but that's just an opinion...

Maryland Senate Race

A new Rasmussen Reports poll has Republican Lt. Governor Michael Steele trailing Democratic State Rep. Ben Cardin 45% to 35%.

The other Democratic candidate, Kweisi Mfume, leads Steele 42% to 38%.

Church Politics

are under investigation in Ohio. Via the WaPo:

In a challenge to the ethics of conservative Ohio religious leaders and the fairness of the Internal Revenue Service, a group of 56 clergy members contends that two churches have gone too far in supporting a Republican candidate for governor.

Two complaints filed with the tax agency say that the large Columbus area churches, active in President Bush's narrow Ohio win in 2004, violated their tax-exempt status by pushing the candidacy of J. Kenneth Blackwell, who is the secretary of state and the favored candidate of Ohio's religious right.

The clergy members said the churches improperly held political activities and allowed Republican organizations to use their facilities.

The goal of the challenge is "for these churches to stop acting like electioneering organizations," said the Rev. Eric Williams, pastor of North Congregational United Church of Christ.
It's nice to see that moderate and liberal Christians are starting to notice that these Hard Right nut-jobs are starting to damage their brand. That doesn't stop the Christianists from trotting out shoddy arguments that their rights are being infringed upon.
IRS rules specify that charities that are granted a tax exemption because they serve the public may not "participate in or intervene in . . . any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

Enforcement does not infringe on First Amendment rights to free speech, the Supreme Court has ruled, because the issue is not whether an organization's members can speak freely, but whether the government will subsidize its activities through a tax exemption.
Seems pretty clear, but as we've seen in the past, these Christianists think that certain rules don't apply to them. So never mind that they're breaking the law. 'We're doing God's work.' Oh, and then there's the 'Persecuted Christian' meme.
A World Harvest Church member called the criticism a "smear tactic" and dismissed media attention as "a desperate attempt to destroy men of God."
I'll be so glad when I don't have to hear about how Christians are the most persecuted people ever to walk the earth. If you listened to these people, you'd think that people were rounding up Christians and feeding them to lions or something...

The (Civil) War in Iraq

The Washington Post reports on what should, for all thinking people, be the final proof that a nascent Civil War is unfolding in Iraq:

KIRKUK, Iraq -- Hundreds of Shiite Muslim militiamen have deployed in recent weeks to this restive city -- widely considered the most likely flash point for an Iraqi civil war -- vowing to fight any attempt to shift control over Kirkuk to the Kurdish-governed north, according to U.S. commanders and diplomats, local police and politicians.

The Mahdi Army, led by firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, has sent at least two companies, each with about 120 fighters, according to Thomas Wise, political counselor for the U.S. Embassy's Kirkuk regional office, which has been tracking militia activity.

Although still in its early stages, the militia buildup "is something that definitely concerns us, and something that we are watching very carefully," said Col. David R. Gray, 48, of Herscher, Ill., commander of the 101st Airborne's 1st Brigade Combat Team, based in Kirkuk. "So far they haven't been that violent, but does it add to the tension, putting them into this maelstrom? Absolutely."
That all sounds an awful lot like a bunch of domestic factions competing among themselves for territory and resources - not so much like an insurgency trying to chase out American Forces.
In a meeting here last week, Sadr's representative in the city, Abdul Karim Khalifa, told U.S. officials that more armed loyalists were on the way and that as many as 7,000 to 10,000 Shiite residents were prepared to fight alongside the Mahdi Army if called upon. Legions more Shiite militiamen would push north from Baghdad's Sadr City slum, he said, according to Wise.

"His message was essentially that any idea of Kirkuk going to the Kurds will mean a fight," Wise said. "He said that their policy here was different from in other places, that they are not going to attack coalition forces because their only enemy here is the Kurds."
"What does our Dear Leader, George W. Bush have to say about the situation in Iraq?
"It's not easy work, by the way, to go from tyranny to democracy ... And what you're watching on your TV screens is a new democracy emerging.
Something's emerging, Mr. Bush, but I'm not sure I'd call it democracy.

Bush at Nixonian Levels

I found this yesterday, but Blogger was being difficult...

The CNN reports on Bush's latest approval numbers:

In the telephone poll of 1,012 adult Americans carried out Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, 32 percent of respondents said they approve of Bush's performance, 60 percent said they disapprove and 8 percent said they do not know.
It's a good thing this guy gets to pick who he works with. Otherwise, nobody would sit with him at lunch.

War Avoidance? "To the Max!"

or How God Shapes my Foreign Policy

Via the Editor & Publisher:

President Bush today said he had tried to avoid war with Iraq "diplomatically to the max."

Speaking to a business group in Irvine, Ca., he admitted mistakes were made in planning for the Iraq invasion, but he defended the troop level, saying "it was the troop level necessary to do the job," and he would commit the same number if given a second chance.
Isn't the quote something like 'insanity is taking the same action and expecting different results?'
Bush also explained, in unusually stark terms, how his belief in God influences his foreign policy. "I base a lot of my foreign policy decisions on some things that I think are true," he said. "One, I believe there's an Almighty. And, secondly, I believe one of the great gifts of the Almighty is the desire in everybody's soul, regardless of what you look like or where you live, to be free.

"I believe liberty is universal. I believe people want to be free. And I know that democracies do not war with each other."
So George W. Bush views "freedom" (notice the scare quotes) as God's gift to the world. Spreading it is the presidential equivalent of sharing the Good News. That means two things: First, that repeated failure won't stop him from trying to make sure that God's gifts are spread to as many nations as possible. Second, no amount of real evidence will make any difference, one way or the other, if Bush decides that it's time to spread God's word I mean God's gift to a new set of Godless Heathens.


Mick Jagger Rocks

It's really that simple. He just rocks.

Took Their Ball and Went Home

Republicans, deciding that they didn't like the system, did just that. Litereally. Via the DCCC:

Starting this week, hundreds of young Capitol Hill aides will indulge in an annual rite of spring here by changing out of their business suits and heading over to the National Mall to play in the Congressional Softball League.

Amid all the partisan rancor of congressional politics, the softball league has for 37 years been a rare case of bipartisan civility, an opportunity for Democratic and Republican aides to sneak out of work a bit early and take the field in the name of the lawmaker, committee or federal agency they work for.

This year, the league will be missing something: a lot of the Republicans.

During the off-season, a group of Republican teams seceded from the league after accusing its Democratic commissioner, Gary Caruso, of running a socialist year-end playoff system that gives below-average teams an unfair chance to win the championship.

The league "is all about Softball Welfare -- aiding the weak by punishing the strong," the pitcher of one Republican team told Mr. Caruso in an email. "The commissioner has a long-standing policy of punishing success and rewarding failure. He's a Democrat. Waddya' expect?" read another email, from Gary Mahmoud, the coach of BoehnerLand, a team from the office of Republican Majority Leader John Boehner.
Yep. Really. That's how it is in Washington today. I've seen five year olds play together better than that. I've seen dogs share toys better than that.

The DCCC got it from the registration restricted WSJ.

Does this include the "Personal Massager"

From Sharper Image?

The Anderson Independent-Mail reports that sex toys may be banned in South Carolina.

Lucy’s Love Shop employee Wanda Gillespie said she was flabbergasted that South Carolina’s Legislature is considering outlawing sex toys.

But banning the sale of sex toys is actually quite common in some Southern states.

The South Carolina bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Ralph Davenport, would make it a felony to sell devices used primarily for sexual stimulation and allow law enforcement to seize sex toys from raided businesses.
Presumably, Ralph Davensport is concerned that somebody, somewhere, might be enjoying life. That or he's just such a lousy lover that he feels threatened by a piece of vibrating plastic.
The measure would add sex toys to the state’s obscenity laws, which already prohibit the dissemination and advertisement of obscene materials.

People convicted under obscenity laws face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
It is obscene for a woman to enjoy the 'pleasures of the flesh,' isn't it? She should know that her life is supposed to be a sexless existance, limited to cooking, cleaning, and being submissive for her husband's pleasure - not her pleasure.
Other states that ban the sell of sex toys include Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas, said Mark Lopez, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

"People think it’s distasteful. It makes for good campaign fodder and panders to the conservative side of people. That’s why we see the laws in the South," Mr. Lopez said.

The ACLU got involved in the case, he said, to "keep the government out of the bedroom."
Someday people are going to realize that social Conservatives, especially Christianists, aren't interested in a plural society with the sorts of freedoms which we expect.

They do want to regulate what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom. And what you think. And what you believe. And how you raise your children.

They know that people will let them pick at the 'low hanging fruit' with less objections, which is why they target sex shops and Christmas Trees in public squares.

It won't stop there.

Go read Lawrence Wilkerson's op-ed at the Baltimore Sun. It's not the point that relionists are undermining America as strongly as it could, but it's on the right track.

Hit from the Pentagon..

I got a hit today from the Pentagon.

Doing a google search for "Brig Alan Sharpe," this post was the third result. Somebody at the OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) clicked the link.

Apparently, that's the only page visited. It's really kinda creepy.

ALSO: Blogger is being a pain in my ass. Trying to get things posted, but failing...

Policy Failure, not Intelligence Failure

"“The idea of going after Iraq was U.S. policy. It was going to happen one way or the other."

60 Minutes (video) reports that the CIA's former top covert official in Europe has spoken out against the way the Bush Administrations ignored evidence that Saddam Hussein didn't have Weapons of Mass Destruction.

"It just sticks in my craw every time I hear them say it'’s an intelligence failure. It'’s an intelligence failure. This was a policy failure," Drumheller tells Bradley.

Drumheller was the CIA's top man in Europe, the head of covert operations there, until he retired a year ago. He says he saw firsthand how the White House promoted intelligence it liked and ignored intelligence it didn't.


Meanwhile, the CIA had made a major intelligence breakthrough on Iraq'’s nuclear program. Naji Sabri, Iraq'’s foreign minister, had made a deal to reveal Iraq'’s military secrets to the CIA. Drumheller was in charge of the operation.

"This was a very high inner circle of Saddam Hussein. Someone who would know what he was talking about," Drumheller says.

What did this high-level source tell him?

"He told us that they had no active weapons of mass destruction program," says Drumheller.

"So in the fall of 2002, before going to war, we had it on good authority from a source within Saddam's inner circle that he didn't have an active program for weapons of mass destruction?" Bradley asked.

"Yes," Drumheller replied. He says there was doubt in his mind at all.

"It directly contradicts, though, what the president and his staff were telling us," Bradley remarked.

"The policy was set," Drumheller says. "The war in Iraq was coming. And they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy."
At some point, this evidence has to reach a critical mass. Though many people, conservatives and liberals alike, would like to believe that the United States government would never start aaggressiongression, let alone a President lie to get us into one, the signs pointing that way are starting to pile up.

Add to this the fact that this isn't the only questionable thing done by the Bush Administration, a growing dissatisfaction, possibilityssiblity of Democrats retaking one of the branches of Congress, and some real truth just might come to light before Bush leaves office.

If You Work in the Bush White House

At what point do you stop and say to yourself, "well, if Bolten fires me, what have I really lost?"

According to Elisabeth Bumiller at the International Herald Tribune, not yet. Many at the White House are afraid that in an effort to make they Bush Administration more effective, they'll be fired.

The White House has never been a cozy place to work, but under this President Bush, who hates change and who has rarely been able to dismiss anyone, it became something of a sinecure. (Bush had Vice President Dick Cheney fire Snow's predecessor, Paul O'Neill, in 2002.) Aides stayed an unusually long time, and Card was widely liked for his easy manner and tolerance for working mothers who slipped out for school events. People may have come in at 6 or 7 a.m., but they left at 7 p.m., relatively early for Washington.

More to the point, Bolten has a sharper management style than Card. "Josh is a little more overtly demanding," said one former member of the administration who asked not to be identified so that he could stay on good terms with White House aides. "He's immediately playing the devil's advocate, and he'll challenge you on a lot of things, mostly to make sure it was well thought through and to see if there are any holes in the argument."
So the Republicans, champions of all things mean and market driven, are now facing the actual consequences of market forces. Finding themselves facing being downsized, they discover that always watching your back isn't an enjoyable way to work.

Doesn't this Bolten guy know that all this efficiency and downsizing stuff is just for little people? Rich, powerful people like those that work at the White House deserve to be able to have legacy jobs, ensured by their father's loyalty to George W. Bush's father.

And in the mean time, the intrepid CEO, anxious to foster good relations between the work force and management, has put his nose to the grindstone to make sure that the employees are treated fairly, right?
In the meantime, Bush blew off steam this past weekend in two intense mountain bike rides during his California trip. On Sunday he rode in the desert surrounding Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, where he stayed at a luxury lodge, and on Saturday he rode in a foggy forest high above the Napa Valley wine country.
I guess these White House employees aren't used to working with the same fear, that they'll downsized, that millions of Americans work with every day. And it's not like these people wouldn't be able to find new jobs. Or, stuck living paycheck to paycheck, wouldn't be able to provide for their families if they lost their jobs. Or be able to buy their prescriptions after losing their health coverage.

Oh, wait. Regular Americans don't have health care anyway...


"Signs Point to Rove Indictment"

This is why the White House hustled Rove's fat ass out the back door.

1. The latest court documents, for the first time, name Rove as a subject of the investigation.

2. The court documents go out of their way to say that Rove will not be called as a witness in Scooter Libby’s trial, even though Rove is a key part of the narrative. Shuster notes that this is done when prosecutors want to “leave open the possibility of later charging that particular subject in a separate case.”

3. Rove is referred in court documents as “Official A.” Shuster says “in every single case we have found, Keith, that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald when he designates somebody as Official A in an indictment, that person eventually does get indicted themselves.”
Not good for Karl.

"Men in Tights" Wasn't Meant to be Taken Seriously

"The Key to the Greatest Treasure in All the Land!" was taken a little to seriously by jeweler Joe Costello. His method for selling more lockets is the 'Heart to Hearttm' abstinence program, largely inspired (it would seem) by a Mel Brooks movie:

First, the "key to her heart." This beautiful heart has a smaller heart in the front. Behind that heart is a keyhole. When making the covenant with your daughter, you explain that the covenant is between her, you and God. Since God has placed her in your care as a parent, you and only you can hold the "key to her heart."

She is, after all, not just a child, but a woman and incapable of making these sorts of decisions on her own. Especially in South Dakota.

You then explain to the child that you will hold the key to her precious heart until the day of her wedding. On that day, you will give her away like at all weddings, BUT in doing so you will also “give away” the key to her heart to her now husband. The key and lock are actually functional and your son-in-law will place the key in the heart to open it.

Inside will be a small note that had been placed in the heart on the day you made the covenant. That note can say something like, "I do not know your name or what you even look like, but this is my promise to save myself for you this day. Love, Melanie."
Not the least bit creepy. Really.

At some level, there has to be a degree of 'my daughter is my property' going on here. Nobody locks up anything that isn't something they own. The transfer to the husband, is of course, a transfer of ownership. The former daughter is now the wife, and property of the husband. This was legally true for the vast majority of human history. At least Western History.

And people who support this shit are running our country.

In a long trail, I got this from Digby, but it's originally from World O'Crap. I think.

Ruining a Country's Hard Work

I've slept in enough classes to know that the most dangerous time is when everybody else gets up to leave. The VP, apparently, didn't know this and was left sitting there by Don Rumsfeld after a briefing with President Bush and President Hu. His staff insists he was reading notes. At least have the presence of mind to put a pencil in your hand before going to sleep. That's what I did... In Don Rumsfeld's defense, the last guy that startled Mr. Cheney got a face full of birdshot.

Finders Fee to the Political Wire. Picture via the NY Post.

Two Links: Compare and Contrast

An effort to ban Harry Potter from School Libraries is underway in Gwinnett, Georgia.

Laura Mallory, who has three children that attend J.C. Elementary in Loganville, is asking the state's largest school system to remove the best-selling Potter series from the shelves.

Mallory hasn't completely read any of the books. But she said she has read portions of a few books and was offended by the demonic activity.

"My personal religious views don't agree with these books," Mallory said. "We need for our children to read things that teach good morals.
Efforts are underway in Iran to curtail the use of satellite dishes.
The clampdown coincides with a bill before Iran's conservative-dominated parliament proposing that fines for people with TV satellite dishes rise from £60 to more than £3,000. Millions of Iranians have illegal dishes, enabling them to watch western films and news channels.

Mr Shariatmaderi denounced the trends as "damaging to revolutionary and Islamic principles". "We are looking for a social utopia to live in but in the last couple of months, our attention has wavered," he told fellocouncilorsrs. "In the present international situation, people must unite under known principles."
I want three pages, typed. And don't cheat thmarginsns. I'll know. Due Monday.


Speaking of the 2006 Elections, lets take a look at Congress:

The Washington Post has a story reporting that "polls indicate that voters increasingly view the legislative branch as dysfunctional" have caused Congress, especially the Republican Leadership, to step up its agenda. Fears that being labeled a 'do-nothing' Congress could be disastrous for the GOP has decided to pursue "health-care legislation to the most sweeping immigration changes in a generation." They'll have just 72 days to do it. And not even all the Republicans agree on how those things should be done.

The Pew Research Center reports that disillusionment with Congress is at record levels. "Anti-Incumbent Sentiment Echoes 1994," they say. I'm sure they're right. And to those of us stuck in the minority, that's music to our ears. Unfortunately, it shouldn't be.

Survey USA
has its latest Approval Ratings for Senators up. Of the 100 Senators, only 3 have negative net approval ratings. All three are Republicans, but only two, Conrad Burns and Rick Santorum are up for reelection during this cycle.

That means that the remaining 97 Senators have positive approval ratings.

Congress (illustrated by the Senate) is a strange beast. Both incumbents and challengers can run against it. "Send me (back) to Congress so that I can change the direction that Congress is headed" works just as well with or without the word "back" in the sentence.

Add to that the fact that most people like their own Senators and Representatives. All those other idiots are causing the problems. Not good old Senator Joe Local. He's a good guy. He got money for the new bridge on Mainstreet. And Representative Jane Neighborhood wrote a recommendation for my neighbor's son to go to West Point.

All these negative feelings about Congress won't hurt Democrats, but it isn't a wave to ride back into power. All politics are local. It doesn't matter how much people in Pennsylvania dislike the direction of Congress. Voters in Kansas are still going to vote in people they like.

Completely off topic, but I really don't know what to make of this. She smuggled what!?! Where?!?

Kerry 2008?

Reuters reports on Kerry's possible 2008 Presidential Run:

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said on Thursday he was seriously thinking about another White House bid in 2008 and will decide before the year is out.

"I will make that decision toward the end of the year, but I'm thinking about it hard," Kerry said in response to a question at the Latin Economic Forum at the United Nations.

"If you can get help me find 60,000 votes in Ohio ...," he joked, referring to the close race in that state on which his 2004 loss to President Bush hinged.
Let me say this about Kerry Redux: There are worse candidates out there. Hillary Clinton, for one. I like Hillary. I think she would be a very good President. Her problem is that SO many people hate her just because her last name is Clinton. At this point in history, with our war against Islamist Exteremism, the rise of Dominionism at home, shortages of oil and rising health care costs, Progressives / Liberals / Democrats cannot afford to run a candidate that has such a slim chance of winning.

John Kerry would have made a very good President but a very lousy drinking buddy. That's why he and Al Gore both lost. The thing is, I think America has learned its lesson when it comes to electing Presidents. While it's ok to vote for the coolest person when your voting for student council, when you're voting for the person who will decide if and when our soldiers are sent off to some foreign land and asked to fight and die...

The one thing Kerry might have going for him is a 'gee, I should have voted for him last time' sentiment. Plus name recognition. That said, there are better candidates out there. I'm not looking to find my favorite until after the 2006 Congressional elections anyway.

Quote of the Yesterday

"This country managed to look like the least security-conscious place in the world, and a nation where protesters are dragged away by ominous-looking guards, and the place where an antimedia White House will still give anybody a media pass, and all at the same time, mind you."

-- MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, ("Countdown," 4/20).

Bought Gas Lately?

I haven't. Due to a lucky coincidence of living close to work and having a Honda, I haven't had to buy gas since it was at the low, low price of $2.83 per gallon. Now it pushes $3.20. Now, granted, for a 12 gallon tank, that's only two dollars difference for a tank full, but still.

My point, however, is that this drastic increase over the last few months has been blamed on the sacred laws of Supply and Demand. The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights says this isn't so. Their study (pdf here) showed that it was "corporate markups and profiteering," not market forces.

Independent petroleum consultant Tim Hamilton analyzed gasoline price increases from January to April to find that:

* Increases in the "spot" market price of crude oil -- which is the highest price a major oil company would pay for crude oil -- accounted for only 12 cents per gallon. California's percentage sales tax increased fuel prices by another four cents per gallon. More than 40 cents of the 60-cent increase in gasoline prices over 3 1/2 months is attributable to increased refinery and marketing profit margins for the oil companies;

* Neither the MTBE phaseout nor the substitution of ethanol is a serious part of the increase. If the MTBE phaseout or ethanol blending specifically increased costs for oil companies in California, other states in the West using conventional unblended gasoline should be much less affected. Yet Washington State, which uses only conventional gasoline and has similar refinery capacity and crude oil sources, mirrored California's increase;

* The profit increase of 42 cents, on top of record profits last year, means California gasoline will cost consumers approximately $546 million more in April 2006 than in April of last year.

"While oil companies continue to blame crude oil prices and ethanol additives for the recent gasoline price spikes in California, the chief cause is increased profiteering by oil companies that have previously posted world record profits," said Hamilton.

"Oil companies are opportunistically using the rising world price for crude oil as an excuse to excessively raise gasoline prices and pump up their profits, even though the spot market price for crude has gone up far more slowly than gasoline prices," said FTCR President Jamie Court. "In addition, the spot price is higher than most oil companies pay, since they either harvest their own crude or pay more stable and often much lower contract prices.
Do you trust BushCo, full of Texas Oil Men, to allow an investigation into this? I thought not.

And if the only consequence of rising gas prices was that I paid $2 more for gas every three weeks or so, I wouldn't complain. Really. I pay much more for coffee than I do for gas. But it isn't just that. I pay more for food, shipped from California. I pay more for housewares at Target. I pay more for everything that came off of a truck. Everything comes off of a truck.

All this is, of course, bad for the economy. Which is bad for my job. Which is bad for me.

Republicanism is more concerned with corporate profits and letting fat cat friends get richer than it is in protecting American jobs, allowing Americans to prosper, or keeping the American economy strong.


We Knew that Already

AlterNet cites a newly declassified State Department memo as definitive proof Bush's '16 words' were lies. Yawn.

Sixteen days before President Bush's January 28, 2003, State of the Union address in which he said that the US learned from British intelligence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Africa -- an explosive claim that helped pave the way to war -- the State Department told the CIA that the intelligence the uranium claims were based upon were forgeries, according to a newly declassified State Department memo.

The revelation of the warning from the closely guarded State Department memo is the first piece of hard evidence and the strongest to date that the Bush administration manipulated and ignored documents information in their zeal to win public support for invading Iraq.
Not that real evidence will convince the people that still believe Bush is incapable of lying. (It's a matter of faith.) And don't expect to hear that 'hard evidence' proves Bush lied America into a war to be splashed across the TV screens.

Yawn. The scary thing is that not only does this not shock me, I can't seem to summon up any outrage either. The Bush Administration can really tire you out. I expect so little from them that when they fail to meet even that standard, I'm just numb...

It's really nice out. Maybe I'll skip out of work a little early...

Where's the Outrage?

A woman, while watching President Hu conduct an official visit yells out for him to allow freedom of speech in China and is promptly arrested. No news there, except it took place in Washington D.C. And the arrest was by American policemen. And after Bush told President Hu this:

"China has become successful because the Chinese people are experience the freedom to buy, and to sell, and to produce -- and China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship."
What was this woman's crime? She yelled, in heavily accented English,
"President Bush: Stop him from killing" and, "President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong."
I guess that whole First Amendment thing doesn't apply in a post 9/11 world.

Via Attywood

Go check out Crooks & Liars' post on whether Rumsfeld will be fired.

FoxNews Poll has Bush at 33%

Kinda shocking they couldn't find a way to inflate those numbers.

More Americans disapprove than approve of how George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Congress are doing their jobs, while a majority approves of Condoleezza Rice. President Bush'’s approval hits a record low of 33 percent this week, clearly damaged by sinking support among Republicans.

Approval among Republicans is below 70 percent for the first time of Bush'’s presidency. Two-thirds (66 percent) approve of Bush'’s job performance today, down almost 20 percentage points from this time last year when 84 percent of Republicans approved. Among Democrats, 11 percent approve today, while 14 percent approved last April.
Aside from a headline that implied economic reasons for Bush's slide towards the basement, the article is pretty accurate. No Democrats like Bush and Republicans are increasingly dissatisfied.
Overall, 57 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing, and the most frequently mentioned reason is Iraq (48 percent). The other top reasons include generally "doing a bad job" (24 percent), disagreement on issues (22 percent) and the economy/jobs (17 percent).
Wow, that's in an article with the headline, "Gloomy Economic Views; Bush Approval at New Low." I take back my statement about honest.

I'd say it's about time for another 'armed freedom spreading exercise' to rally the mindless masses around the President.

Blog Influence

I'm sure everybody's seen this already, but the Guardian Unlimited reports that we're having an impact.

Bloggers and internet pundits are exerting a "disproportionately large influence" on society, according to a report by a technology research company. Its study suggests that although "active" web users make up only a small proportion of Europe's online population, they are increasingly dominating public conversations and creating business trends.


"Bloggers and blog-readers are 'influentials' - the minority that pays attention to events outside of political and news cycles. They also tend on average to be better off, better educated and, more importantly, employed."
This is true. But if my boss knew I spent a bunch of my down time doing this, I probably wouldn't be.

I'm not paranoid, but...

WTAE Channel 4 (Pittsburgh) has a vaguely scary report...

Two workers looking for tools set off a security situation at a Beaver County nuclear power plant that drew a response from police and federal investigators, WTAE Channel 4's Paul Van Osdol reported.

State police said the men drove up to the Beaver Valley Power Station in a tractor-trailer on Tuesday night to pick up two large containers of tools for a contractor for whom they worked.

Security guards stopped the men for a routine inspection, but they drove away, police said.

The guards became suspicious and called police, who pulled the truck over about a mile from the plant.

A state trooper got a warrant to search the vehicle and found a duffel bag, which he said contained $504,230 in mostly small bills.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the drivers worked for Bechtel Corp.

This is all kind of weird but not illegal, so the drivers were released. The money was seized by the State Police. I'm sure it won't take long for this to disappear from the local news. It probably won't even make a splash nationally. But it doesn't say much for a Republican President keeping us safe from Terrorism.

How'd that Asshole get in Here?

The AP reports on a rather embarassing developement for Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo.

Nobody expects to get a letter from a member of Congress that ends with an expletive.

But that's what happened when Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., recently corresponded with a resident of her southeast Missouri district. The letter ended with a profane, seven-letter insult beginning with the letter a - "i think you're an ..."

Emerson says she can't explain how the offensive language made it into the last line of the letter, which otherwise reads like a typical response to a citizen's question about last year's testimony of oil executives before the Senate Commerce Committee.
This is really just fluff. I'm sure some staffer thought it would be funny. But hey, it's fun to poke these people with sticks. Especially if they give you an opening.

Professor Cole Under Attack

From Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory:

One of the most annoying victim movements around is the petulant and growing group, led by the odious David Horowitz, which incessantly whines that pro-Bush students on college campuses are treated very, very unfairly because their views are not praised by all that many people and sometimes are even harshly criticized.

As I've written about many times before, the examples of supposed victimhood almost never entail any actual repression of, or institutional punishment for, the expression of unpopular conservative views, but rather, are composed only of disagreement by other students and faculty members which make the right-wing students feel uncomfortable and unloved.

A vivid example illustrating their true agenda can be found in the blossoming "controversy" over what appears to be the imminent offer of a tenured professorship by Yale University to liberal Professor of Mideast Studies (and well-read blogger) Juan Cole, to teach at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies and in the Yale History Department. Many Bush supporters are arguing that Professor Cole espouses political views which apparently ought to be off-limits on college campuses, and there is thus a burgeoning movement to induce Yale to reconsider its decision. These efforts, of course, are coming from many of the same circles of sermoniziers who hold themselves out as defenders of academic freedom when they decry the oh-so-terrible reception which greets right-wing views on some campuses.

A lengthy smear piece by two students -- one an undergraduate at Yale (who happens to be Powerline Big Trunk's daughter, whom he calls "Little Trunk") and the other at Harvard Law -- was published yesterday in the New York Sun. The article selects multiple half-sentence snippets of Cole's writing in order to "demonstrate" that he harbors a "deep and abiding hatred of Israel"; that "if it were up to Mr. Cole, the country wouldn't exist at all"; and that he is "best known for disparaging the participation of prominent American Jews in government."
I read Professor Cole's blog and often use bits and pieces here. I don't agree with everything he says. I don't agree with all of his assessments of Israel. That said, he has shown nothing, except for a strong dislike for the actions and philosophy of the Likud Party, to substantiate the Right's claim that he is an anti-Semite.

Go read Glenn Greenwald's piece. Stop by Informed Comment and leave Professor Cole a bit of encouragement. Incidentally, I truly hope that Professor Cole gets his position at Yale. That way when I post something from him, I'm not linking to one of them...

Bush's Legacy

Bush's legacy will be determined by what happens in Iraq. He has no great achievements to fall back on. Things already look bad. The Telegraph reports that the Saudis seem to think it could get MUCH worse.

Saudi Arabia issued a stark warning yesterday that Iraq was in the grip of civil war which threatened to "suck in" neighbouring countries.

On a day when at least 17 more people were killed across Iraq, Riyadh expressed alarm that events were spiralling out of control.

"Civil war is a war between civilians and there is already war between civilians," Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said.

"The threat of break-up in Iraq is a huge problem for the countries of the region, especially if the fighting is on a sectarian basis. This type of fighting sucks in other countries."
The Egyptians think the same thing. And if Kurdistan breaks away, the Iranians and the Turks are going to have some problems with that - we've known that from the beginning.

At best, the insurgency and nascent civil war in Iraq are quelled. The foreign fighters (and though not numerous, there are foreign fighters) from places like Saudi Arabia will take the skills they've learned in Iraq back to their home countries. This does not bode well for an authoritarian government not well liked by its people.

What could be worse is that a secular National Unity government in Iraq fails. An Islamic Republic, possibly at war with a separate Kurdistan, comes to power and makes strong ties to Iran. The 'revolution' spreads to other Islamic countries with large dissatisfied populations. Like Saudi Arabia.

Result: Islamic countries hostile to the United States control 38% of the worlds petroleum reserves.

That will make Herbert Hoover's legacy look positively triumphant in comparison.