Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Babe Ruth did it on hot dogs and beer. Hank Aaron did it with class. How did you do it?"

WaPo: Bonds Hits 714th Homer, Ties Ruth
Giants Slugger Is 41 Short of Aaron's Record

*'"Babe Ruth did it on hot dogs and beer. Hank Aaron did it with class. How did you do it?"' was on a huge sign held up in left field last week by fans in Philadelphia.

Know Your Friends

John is a synonym for toilet

I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends... they're the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!
- Warren Gamaliel Harding

An open foe may prove a curse, but a pretended friend is worse.
- Benjamin Franklin

I've always said that in politics, your enemies can't hurt you, but your friends will kill you.
- Ann Richards

If you want to make enemies, try to change something.
- Woodrow Wilson

So last night, I'm surfing the web, and on AMERICAblog -- a blog I like and have linked to often -- I found the following post:

GOP Senator Pat Roberts is a big girl
by John in DC - 5/19/2006 03:00:00 PM

Of course that title pissed me off. Why oh why do people think it's acceptable to call someone a coward by calling them a girl? So I left this somewhat hysterical post (OK, I was mad, steam coming out of my ears mad).

Oh jesus fucking christ could we STOP thinking calling some[one] FEMALE is an INSULT?

Why don't you just call him, i don't know, testically challenged. insult his manhood. don't insult me. I'm sick of it. Just stop it, now.

quit hitting the tar baby of gender insults.

I'm a girl and i could kick your ass, john aravois, you name the time and the venue.
truth | Homepage | 05.19.06 - 10:34 pm | #

But the whole issue was still on my mind, so I went back and left this somewhat more considered comment:

I can't stop thinking about this. This is the second time in a week I've had to respond to a male blogger trying to insult someone by calling them female. The other one called someone a pussy, and I can't even remember the blog, but it just pisses me off no end. They weren't trying to say the guy was a cat. They were saying he was somehow less than, and therefore calling him female was the appropriate insult.

Female is not a synonym for 'less than'.

Let's say that again.

Female is not a synonym for 'less than'.

Just because male homosexuals commonly use the term 'big girl' in that way does not make it acceptable.

How would it look if I, a straight woman, called people I didn't like homos or queers, because that was common use in my community? Would that then be OK? Hell, no.

And you know what? I'm a true progressive, and I'd NEVER insult anyone by group affiliation like that.

The worst insult I have ever called anyone in my life is Bush Republican. Now that's an insult.

Why piss on your friends, for no reason?

John? John? Plate needs stepping up to, please.
truth | Homepage | 05.19.06 - 11:38 pm | #

Well, this morning I woke up to find that my comments had been deleted. That pissed me off, too, so I found a site that had archived the comment thread and re-posted them. But, you guessed it, they were deleted a second time.

Big year for me -- I've been deleted from the Washington Post blog and from AMERICAblog. (I wonder what blog will delete me next so I can hit the 2006 delete trifecta?)

So the whole kerfuffle got me interested, and I googled John Aravosis, the guy who runs the site & used the term "Big Girl". I love google, even if they are censoring shit in China. And now they own blogspot, so am I getting back at their censoring asses with my free blog? Conundrums.

Anyway, back to google.

Wow, I did not know anything about John Aravosis.

I knew he was a lawyer. I did not know that from 1989 to 1994 he was a staff attorney for .... wait, this is good .... Ted Stevens of Alaska. Mr. Pork himself! And since Stevens is a Republican -- so was Aravosis, until ... well, this is not clear. Not much biographical information about Mr. Aravosis on the 'net.

Here's his SourceWatch bio:

John Aravosis, who operates the web site, is a "Washington DC-based writer and political consultant, specializing in using the Internet for political advocacy. He is the creator of, Matthew Shepard Online Resources, and, among other activist Web sites.

"John has a joint JD and MSFS from Georgetown, where he studied under former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. He is an avid writer, and in addition to writing THE LIST (, he has worked as a stringer for the Economist magazine, and for years was the US Politics Guide at

"John's policy experience includes stints in the US Senate, the World Bank, and the Children's Defense Fund. John is also an occasional TV pundit, having appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, Hardball with Chris Matthews, ABCNews World News Tonight, CNN, and more. John speaks five languages and has visited or worked in 28 countries." [1]

Speaks five languages, visited 28 countries, sounds very civilized and urbane, no? This afternoon John Aravosis of AMERICAblog posted this:

Guys, anybody who isn't happy, please leave this blog and don't come back. I'm serious. Get out.

Our Constitution is on life support and you freaks, a very vocal minority of the people who visit this site and comment, have spent over 24 hours worrying about two words in a title, and you're still obsessed with it. None of us have the time to deal with your weekly fit of hysterics, whether it's over Katherine Harris' photo, Cynthia McKinney being a wackjob, commenter Miles being upset that I "made a big deal" about a hate crime that almost killed a gay couple, you being upset that I criticized Howard Dean for his insensitivity to gay issues (which I was proved right on a week later), and on and on and on.

It took me a while to realize it, but there are a minority of my readers who are never going to be happy. Rather than fight our common enemy, you'd rather sit here and beat me up because somehow you get off on that. That's fine. You're no longer welcome. Please leave. And spare me the emails about how you used to love the blog. The blog is the same it's always been. You however have become increasingly nasty and shrill. And in any case, the majority of our readers are normal people who are actuall worried about their country and want to make a difference. Please stop bothering them with your weekly crises.

I choose to spend my time fighting the enemy. You choose to spend your time fighting friends. Well, you do that. On someone else's blog. You're no longer welcome here, so get out so the rest of us, the majority of our readers and evoted advocates, can get on with trying to fix this country. JOHN
John Aravosis | 05.20.06 - 3:19 pm | #

So, I can take a hint. I removed AMERICAblog from the blogroll. I'll take his words with a healthy grain of salt from now on -- I'm a big girl, after all. I'll only call Aravosis the worst epithet I know of -- Republican. The guy was a Republican for a significant part of his conscious life. How stupider can you get than that?

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
H.L. Mencken

Swillionaires for Sweeney

Head Swiller

Sorry I missed this political protest:

Saratoga Springs: Protest Rep. Sweeney fundraiser with McCain

"Let's Protest Sweeney and the corrupt Republican agenda of Rove, Delay, Cheney, Bush & Abramoff. Unlike Sweeney, who led a violent gang of thugs in Miami in 2000 with the order to shut down the vote recounting, we will be nonviolent."

"Feel free to bring your own signs about corruption and any aspect of the Republican agenda. Bring mops & brooms to hold with the signs, to symbolize a call for cleaning up corruption, & clean elections campaign finance reform. We'll have plenty of extra signs, mops & brooms."

"There may be creative street theater activities, such as Billionaires for Bush (or Swillionaires for Sweeney), or holding an 'auction' selling favors to cronies."

Swillionaires is such a great word, especially given Sweeney's recent frat party shenanigans. Connotations of pork and alcohol, with undertones of plain old dirtiness. Well done activists.

Kirsten Gillibrand for NY-20. Contribute here.

You Go, Girl

The student speaker at the New School graduation in New York City yesterday gave keynote speaker John McCain, fresh off his speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, a piece of her mind. I don't think he enjoyed it too much. Support wars based on lies, pay the price. The first link is to her piece on Huffington Post, the second is to MoDo's column today (sorry, Times Wall)

Jean Rohe, Huffington Post: Why I Spoke Up

Maureen Dowd, NYTimes: Make Poetry, Not War
(full article, Ed Strong)

NYTimes: Graduates at New School Heckle Speech by McCain

The first student speaker, Jean Sara Rohe, 21, said she had discarded her original remarks to talk about Mr. McCain.

"The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded," she said, to a roaring ovation. "This invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all."

Noting that Mr. McCain had promised to give the same speech at all of his graduation appearances, Ms. Rohe, who was one of two students selected to speak by university deans, attacked his remarks even before he delivered them.

"Senator McCain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our civic and moral obligation in times of crisis, and I agree," she said. "I consider this a time of crisis, and I feel obligated to speak."

She continued, "Senator McCain will also tell us about his strong-headed self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others, and in so doing he will imply that those of us who are young are too naïve to have valid opinions."

"I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that pre-emptive war is dangerous and wrong," she said.

She added, "Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction."

Just For Laughs

YouTube video: 10 Things I Hate About Commandments

I saw this on BlogsNow

Democrats: What Not to Say

Good post from derby378 at Democratic Underground on the language Democrats should not use in the 2006 campaign.

DemocraticUnderground: What Democrats should never, never, NEVER say if they want to win in 2006

Go read the whole thing. Here's the executive summary:

Framing is important. How we say things it important. Don't say:

1. Terrorist Surveillance Program
2. Homeland Security
3. English as our "National Language"
4. War on Terror

Derby368 doesn't offer alternatives, here are mine. When those subjects are discussed, Democrats should say:

1. KGB Spy Program;

2. United States of America;

3. Strong America;

4. Quagmire.

And, as often as possible, say, Incompetence. Corruption. Cronyism.

What do you think?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Connecticut Wants a New Drug

They're trading in the Joementum for some Nedraline!

Ned Lamont
needed to get 15% of the voters at the state Democratic convention today to force Joe Lieberman into a primary; he got 33.9% of the vote. Amazing victory from the party regulars (not exactly the angry left), despite all the lengths to which Lieberman went to stop Ned at the pass.

Bush's favorite Democrat, going down! Whee-hoo! If he's feeling like he was violated, and they won't treat him at a Democratic hospital, sure he can get a quick cab ride across town. Enjoy the ride, Joe. Out you go, through the window or out the door!

Video of Helium Boy Ramesh Ponnuru

YouTube video: Ramesh Ponnuru On The Daily Show

Suck the helium, dude.

I saw this on Suburban Guerrilla.

Previous post: Ramesh Ponnuru (May 17, 2006)

Just For Laughs

Roger that, Chico.

David Letterman:

Top Ten Signs The Government Is Spying On You

10. Post office wall has several photos of you sleeping

9. Your houseplant occasionally sneezes

8. Domino's keeps delivering to unmarked van parked across the street

7. Birthday card from your mom has several words blacked out

6. You get nominated for "Outstanding Lead Performance in an NSA Surveillance Video"

5. Your dishwasher functions are "Wash," "Rinse" and "Record"

4. Local news only reporting things that happen in your living room

3. Every time you say goodbye on the phone, you hear a strange voice say, "Roger that, Chico"

2. You googled a recipe for humus and the FBI raided your house

1. Suddenly discover there's an antenna bolted to your ass

Halfway There

FDA Acting Commissioner Andrew C. Eschenbach

An FDA advisory panel has approved a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer. Now this medical miracle, a vaccine that prevents a cancer, must approved by the FDA.

Before we celebrate, we must remember that the FDA's Acting Commissioner is right-wing nutjob Andrew C. Eschenbach, director of the National Cancer Institute. In that position, one of his first official actions was to alter a factsheet on the NCI website to make it seem like there might be a link between breast cancer and abortion, although there is no such link and that what's the NCI website said before he got there. So even though the advisory panel decided to endorse the science, there's no telling what fundie Eschenbbach will do.

WaPo: FDA Panel Endorses Cervical Cancer Vaccine

WASHINGTON -- A drug company hopes to win federal approval early next month for a novel cervical cancer vaccine that it touts as the next biggest thing since the pap test in fighting the No. 2 cancer in women.

Merck & Co. already has won a key endorsement of the vaccine, called Gardasil, from a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee. A final decision by the FDA is expected by June 8.

The vaccine, administered in three shots over six months at a cost of $300 to $500, protects against the two types of human papillomavirus (HPV) believed responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.

Krugman: 'The Start of a Serious Economic Slowdown'

Unfortunately, I don't think Krugman is Henny Penny here; he's right. What was that phrase Alan Greenspan used? "Irrational exuberance" must eventually give in to the pressures of reality. Even if President La-la-la-I-Can't-Hear-You won't admit it. When has he ever had any grip on reality? Right.

Paul Krugman, NYTimes: Coming Down to Earth (TimesSelect)

As I summarized it awhile back, we became a nation in which people make a living by selling one another houses, and they pay for the houses with money borrowed from China.

Now that game seems to be coming to an end. We're going to have to find other ways to make a living — in particular, we're going to have to start selling goods and services, not just I.O.U.'s, to the rest of the world, and/or replace imports with domestic production. And adjusting to that new way of making a living will take time.

Will we have that time? Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, contends that what's happening in the housing market is "a very orderly and moderate kind of cooling." Maybe he's right. But if he isn't, the stock market drop of the last two days will be remembered as the start of a serious economic slowdown.

The whole article: Ed Strong

Chimp-Human Hybrid Descendent Rides Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Border Patrol Vehicle

Chimp-human hybrid exits Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Border Patrol Vehicle

Whee! Being The Decider can be fun!

When Will Our Media Ask This Question?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Verizon, Telcos Go For TKO

That's technical knockout for you non-boxing fans.

Why do I say they're going for the technical knockout? Because today they claimed they didn't turn over any information to the feds. In a carefully worded statement released today, six days after the charges were made in USA Today. They're claiming they didn't do it. They're going with the technicality.

C'mon, I'm a lawyer, I know why it takes six days to put out an official statement. The truth is simple. Yes or no. We did it, or we didn't. Instead, after six days of creative lawyering, we get this (WaPo):

New York-based Verizon said yesterday that it would not confirm or deny any relationship with the NSA, but that "one of the most glaring and repeated falsehoods in the media reporting is the assertion that, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Verizon was approached by the NSA and entered into an arrangement to provide the NSA with data from its customers' domestic calls. This is false."

The statement outlined the three major businesses that Verizon ran between Sept. 11, 2001, and the MCI acquisition four months ago: wireline phone, wireless phone and directory publishing. The company "also had its own Internet service provider and long-distance businesses," the statement said. "Contrary to the media reports, Verizon was not asked by NSA to provide, nor did Verizon provide, customer phone records from any of these businesses, or any call data from those records.

"None of these companies -- wireless or wireline -- provided customer records or call data."

Verizon also denied published reports that information about local telephone calls is being tracked. "Phone companies do not even make records of local calls in most cases because the vast majority of customers are not billed per call for local calls," Verizon said. But it did not mention the MCI long-distance business.

Blogtopia (yes! skippy coined that phrase!) has already figured out that they're carefully saying they didn't give the data, because what they really did was give the feds access to the switches. They didn't have to give them the data -- they gave them the keys to the castle, lock, stock and barrel.

emptywheel, dailykos: Domestic Spying: They're Not Getting Data, They're Getting the Switches

Conveniently for the Bush Administration, less than two weeks ago it issued a presidential memorandum, whatever that is, that lets the telcos lie to us to protect the secret spying program.

ThinkProgress: New Presidential Memorandum Permits Intelligence Director To Authorize Telcos To Lie Without Violating Securities Law

So go ahead, believe Verizon's statement. Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again, as Commander Codpiece once said.

We Love Lists

NYTimes: Hope, Saved on a Laptop

This article (behind the TimesWall) has the life to do list of Ann Nelson, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11th. Her parents didn't/couldn't open her laptop for almost five years. This is what they found when they did. It's a great list.

1. Be healthy/ healthful.
2. Be a good friend.
3. Keep secrets.
4. Keep in touch with people I love and that love me.
5. Make a quilt.
6. Nepal.
7. Buy a home in North Dakota.
8. Get a graduate degree.
9. Learn a foreign language.
10. Kilimanjaro.
11. Never be ashamed of who I am.
12. Be a person to be proud of.
13. Always keep improving.
14. Read every day.
15. Be informed.
16. Knit a sweater.
17. Scuba-dive in the Barrier Reef.
18. Volunteer for a charity.
19. Learn to cook.
20. Learn about art.
21. Get my C.F.A.
22. Grand Canyon.
23. Helicopter-ski with my dad.
23. Spend more time with my family.
24. Remember birthdays!!!!
25. Appreciate money, but don't worship it.
26. Learn how to use a computer.
27. Visit the New York Public Library.
28. Maine.
29. Learn to write.
30. Walk — exercise but also see the world firsthand.
31. Learn about other cultures.
32. Be a good listener.
33. Take time for friends.
34. Kayak.
35. Drink water.
36. Learn about wine.

Ramesh Ponnuru

Who is this joker, why is he on Jon Stewart tonight, and how can I take seriously anyone who sounds like he inhaled helium before he speaks?


Ewww. Conservatives are gross.

Call It Global Warming

In Peabody, Ovel Santiago, Chayanne Vasquez, Scott Ingham, and Keiana Christiansen floated down Walnut Street yesterday on a piece of styrofoam they found. (Bill Greene / Globe Staff)

Finally the rains have stopped. Here in Central Mass., we just got days of rain, high rivers and streams, and puddles. The coast from Boston to Portland got soaked, with flooded houses and roads, dam collapse, and entire city centers under water.

Local news has pre-empted regular programming for wall-to-wall coverage of rain falling, water coursing down closed Route 1, the Spicket River Dam collapsing in Methuen, A hundred year rain, our governor the Mittwit called it, the worst in 70 years. Wonder why it came 30 years early? Could it be the phenomenon that dare not speak its name, global warming?

No answers to this question from our local meteorologists. I watched plenty of local weather coverage, and not once, not once did I hear anyone mention global warming.

Yesterday I googled 'new england', flooding, and 'global warming'; I only got one relevant article written after our flooding rain started. This is it:

ABC News: Wild Weather: Global Warming, or Just Weird?

It's a typical corporate journalism effort, giving both sides of the global warming debate as though they were equal (although they are not; there is no longer any significant scientific debate over the reality of global warming). The article ends with a passive voice non-conclusion, so popular in modern journamalism:

Call it global warming or don't. But most people can agree that all this extreme weather can be a costly proposition. Just last year the world incurred more than $200 billion in economic losses as a result of weather-related natural disasters.

That makes 2005 the costliest year on record, according to the Munich Re Foundation. That's the same figure U.S. Public Interest Research Group reported that the United States spent resolving weather-related incidents throughout the whole decade of the 1990s.

It's time for the corporate media to wake up and call it global warming. The evidence is overwhelming; why is it never mentioned in weather news is incomprehensible. Even articles about record-breaking high temperatures say nothing about global warming. Look at this little blurb, again from ABC News:

ABC News: April '06: Warmest on Record in U.S.

Drought, Wildfires and Tornadoes Swept Nation

— - This past April was the hottest ever in the United States, according to records going back to 1895, said the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

The hottest states were Texas and Oklahoma, which had their warmest April on record, while New Mexico, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee recorded their second warmest. Twelve other states recorded one of their top-five warmest Aprils on record.

The intensely warm spring weather helped intensify thunderstorms that spawned hundreds of tornadoes across the Midwest, killing at least 10 people.

It also exacerbated drought conditions, which affected 31 percent of the contiguous United States, an increase of 5 percent from March. There were numerous wildfires, especially in the Southeast.

The good news:
The record warm temperature led to below-normal residential energy demand across the country, as measured by the nation's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index.

Like that little 'on the other hand' conclusion? No mention of global warming, but there is good news to be found in record-breaking heat. Because there are two equal sides to every story in the happy-talk world of the modern corporate journalist.

Journalism is dead. Long live the corporate medial.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ancient Mayan Art Discovered

NYTimes: On Ancient Walls, a New Maya Epoch

9/11 EPA Victims

Angel Franco/The New York Times
Some of the people working in the cleanup and recovery effort after Sept. 11 wore masks, but the most effective ones were effective for no more than 20 minutes.

A good review of news reports of lung disease in 9/11 clean-up workers, who were told it was safe to breathe the air in lower Manhattan by EPA and spineless EPA head Christy Todd Whitman, from the best blog on the 'net for workplace safety news, Confined Space:

Confined Space: World Trade Center Tragedies Continue

Read the whole thing. Firefighters, police, paramedics, anyone who breathed that toxic air for weeks and months, now are fighting debilitating lung disease, from sarcoidosis to mesothelioma.

Have a nice day, Christy Todd Whitman.

Previous posts:

First Death Officially Linked to 9/11 Clean-Up
(April 12, 2006)

Have a Nice Day, Christy Todd Whitman (April 12, 2006)

Liars (April 9, 2006)

Too Bad This Isn't a Criminal Case. Christy Todd Whitman Should Be in Jail.
(February 2, 2006)

Republicans to FDNY: Drop Dead
(November 15, 2005)

Environmental Protection Agency Also Run By "Inept Political Hacks"
(September 11, 2005)

Christy Todd Spineless (March 23, 2005)

Bush Immigration Proposal': 'Horribly Over-Expensive and Very Difficult'

Michael Chertoff, the DHS director, 6 months ago during an appearance on Faux News:

TPM Muckraker: Chertoff: National Guard on the Border Would Be "Horribly Over-Expensive and Very Difficult"

"Why don't you put the National Guard on the border to back up the border patrol and stop the bleeding, and then start to increase the Border Patrol, the high-tech and all of that?" O’Reilly asked. . . .

"Well, the National Guard is really, first of all, not trained for that mission," Chertoff told O'Reilly. "I mean, the fact of the matter is the border is a special place. There are special challenges that are faced there."

Chertoff added that that it would take a huge amount of National Guard troops, that they would need new training. But couldn’t the National Guard pull it off, O'Reilly asked?

"I think it would be a horribly over-expensive and very difficult way to manage this problem,"
Chertoff said. "Unless you would be prepared to leave those people in the National Guard day and night for month after month after month, you would eventually have to come to grips with the challenge in a more comprehensive way."

In Rovespeak, Chertoff was against Bush's immigration reform before he was for it.

Frat Boy Sweeney in NYTimes

Gerrymandering can only take you so far

Look at that district. Lots of poor folks who are probably not enjoying $3.00+ a gallon gasoline. Most have never been to a frat party, even when they were the right age. The NYTimes takes note of John Sweeney's (cough, cough) ineptitude:

Congressman With Long Reach Faces Political Battle of His Life

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Only a few years ago, John E. Sweeney was a rising star in New York Republican circles, a streetwise political operative who helped engineer the 1994 victory of a little-known state senator, George E. Pataki, over Gov. Mario M. Cuomo before going on to take a seat in Congress. There, his combative brand of politics made him a favorite of national Republican leaders, including President Bush.

But these days, with Congressional elections just six months away, Mr. Sweeney finds himself in the political battle of his life, as he faces his first significant electoral challenge since taking office in 1998, from a political novice who has not only turned out to be a surprisingly strong campaigner and fund-raiser but who also has assembled a seasoned campaign team closely tied to the vaunted Clinton operation.

The threat that independent analysts say Mr. Sweeney faces is one of the more intriguing and unexpected developments of this electoral season, since the congressman represents the solidly Republican 20th Congressional District and has emerged in recent years as one of the more prominent politicians in the state. Well liked even among his Democratic colleagues, the gregarious Mr. Sweeney has long been considered a potential candidate for higher office.

But now he finds himself battered by headlines about his own actions, including his recent attendance at a college fraternity party. He also faces the woes afflicting other Republicans around the country, who — as members of the party controlling the White House and Congress — are potentially vulnerable at a time when polls indicate that Americans are in a dark mood about the future of the nation.


By most measures, Ms. Gillibrand has run an aggressive campaign that seems to have caught Mr. Sweeney off guard as it has swiftly moved to put him on the defensive.

In January, her campaign surrogates seized on reports that he organized a $2,000-a-person "Skiing with Sweeney" weekend getaway attended by lobbyists at a resort in Park City, Utah, as well as a dinner at the home of a wealthy pharmaceutical industry lobbyist.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Operation Photo Op, George W. Bush Posturing on Immigration Edition

Commander Codpiece has a new war, the war on his falling poll numbers. The next front in that war, another war of choice, is the Mexican border. (Why not Canada? It has its own game already. Dead or Canadian? (Examples: Pierre Trudeau? Both! Steve Nash? Canadian.)

The next powerfully staged photo op of the Bush Administration's continuing series of powerfully staged photo ops takes place in the Oval Office tonight, on prime time television. It will lead to the next powerfully staged photo op, the sight of National Guard troops riding little ATVs on the Mexican border, brandishing M-16s and looking tough. Maybe Commander Codpiece will go to the border for his own powerfully staged photo op, wearing one of those weird semi-military jackets with the Presidential seal embroidered on the breast pocket.

But it's all a ruse. The real Border Patrol have been cut by the Bushies, so they can give tax cuts to millionaires.

Bush campaigned in 2004 on a pledge to hire 2,000 new Border Patrol agents each year for five years. But his '06 budget scrapped those plans and asked for only 210.

Arctic Glaciers Could Be Gone in 24 Years

And you thought Stephen Colbert was telling a joke when he said,

[Interviewing Jesse Jackson is] like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.

To all the people who say, well, global warming isn't going to happen in my lifetime, better think again. Scientists at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre say the Arctic Glaciers could be gone by 2030, and gone in the summers by 2016. Time to pull our collective heads out of the sand, before there's nothing but sand left.

The Guardian (uk): Meltdown fear as Arctic ice cover falls to record winter low

Record amounts of the Arctic ocean failed to freeze during the recent winter, new figures show, spelling disaster for wildlife and strengthening concerns that the region is locked into a destructive cycle of irreversible climate change.

Satellite measurements show the area covered by Arctic winter sea ice reached an all-time low in March, down some 300,000 square kilometres on last year -an area bigger than the UK.

Scientists say the decline highlights an alarming new trend, with recovery of the ice in winter no longer sufficient to compensate for increased melting in the summer. If the cycle continues, the Arctic ocean could lose all of its ice much earlier than expected, possibly by 2030.

Walt Meier, a researcher at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, which collected the figures, said: "It's a pretty stark drop. In the winter the ice tends to be pretty stable, so the last three years, with this steady decline, really stick out."

Experts are worried because a long-term slow decline of ice around the north pole seems to have sharply accelerated since 2003, raising fears that the region may have passed one of the "tipping points" in global warming. In this scenario, warmer weather melts ice and drives temperatures higher because the dark water beneath absorbs more of the sun's radiation. This could make global warming quickly run out of control.

Dr Meier said there was "a good chance" the Arctic tipping point has been reached. "People have tried to think of ways we could get back to where we were. We keep going further and further into the hole, and it's getting harder and harder to get out of it."

The Arctic is rapidly becoming the clearest demonstration of the effects of mankind's impact on the global climate. The temperature is rising twice as fast as the rest of the planet and the region is expected to warm by a further 4C-7C by 2100. The summer and winter ice levels are the lowest since satellite monitoring began in 1979, and almost certainly the lowest since local people began keeping records around 1900. The pace of decline since 2003, if continued, would see the Arctic totally ice-free in summer within 30 years - though few scientists would stake their reputations on a long-term trend drawn from only three years.

Experts at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California think the situation could be even worse. They are about to publish the results of computer simulations that show the current rate of melting, combined with increased access for warmer Pacific water, could make the summertime Arctic ice-free within a decade. Dr Meier said: "For 800,000 to a million years, at least some of the Arctic has been covered by ice throughout the year. That's an indication that, if we are heading for an ice-free Arctic, it's a really dramatic change and something that is unprecedented almost within the entire record of human species."

The winter ice has declined all around the region - bad news for polar bears, which spend summer on land before returning to the ice in spring to catch food.

Oh, Harry

Sydney Morning Herald: Kewell well placed to win fitness race

Scans early yesterday (Sydney time) confirmed Kewell had torn a groin muscle in the early stages of last weekend's FA Cup final...

Heal; we want to see you in Germany!

'Part D is a complex system of subsidies to private insurance companies'

You say (d)ebacle, I say (d)isaster; let's call the whole thing off.

Krugman, NYTimes: D for Debacle (Like Bush will tell us tonight about Mexico, NYTimes has National Guard patrolling to keep Krugman behind his wall)

Today is the last day to sign up for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit. It appears that millions of Americans, confused by the array of competing plans or simply unaware of the cutoff date, will miss the deadline. This will leave them without drug coverage for the rest of the year, and subject to financial penalties for the rest of their lives.


[P]rescription drug coverage didn't have to be bafflingly complex. Drug coverage could simply have been added to traditional Medicare. If the government had done that, everyone currently covered by Medicare would automatically have been enrolled in the drug benefit.

Adding drug coverage as part of ordinary Medicare would also have saved a lot of money,
both by eliminating the cost of employing private insurance companies as middlemen and by allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices. This would have made it possible to offer a better benefit at much less cost to taxpayers.

But while a straightforward addition of drug coverage to Medicare would have been good policy, it would have been bad politics from the point of view of conservatives, who want to privatize traditional social insurance programs, not make them better.


So what we got was a drug program set up to serve the administration's friends and its political agenda, not the alleged beneficiaries. Instead of providing drug coverage directly, Part D is a complex system of subsidies to private insurance companies. The administration's insistence on running the program through these companies, which provide little if any additional value beyond what Medicare could easily have provided directly, is what makes the whole thing so complicated. And that complication, combined with an obvious lack of interest in making the system work, is what led to the disastrous start-up.


And that's why when it comes to actual policy as opposed to politics, the Bush administration has turned out to have the reverse Midas touch. Everything it gets its hands on, from the reconstruction of Iraq to the rescue of New Orleans, from the drug benefit to the reform of the C.I.A., turns to crud.

Ed Strong has the full article.

Previous posts:

Medicare Part (D)isaster Penalties: Will Rethugs Blink? (May 13, 2006)

Bush To Old People: Drop Dead (May 10, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster, Incompetently Administered, Misleading Poor Seniors (May 7, 2006)

Most Severely Ill Senior Citizens Already in Medicare Part (D)isaster Doughnut Hole (April 27, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster: Watch Out For That Hole (April 12, 2006)

President Out-of-Touch Moron Meets the Seniors
(March 19, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster: Making the Mentally Ill Sicker (February 6, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster Creating Havoc at Social Security Administration (February 4, 2006)

Right Wing Blogs Exhibit Myopia Over Medicare Part D(isaster)
(January 24, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster (January 20, 2006)

Operation Photo Op, Medicare Part D edition, 1.0 (January 18, 2006)

'Horrific at Best'
(January 9, 2006)

The Incompetence, The Corruption, and The Cronyism: Sunday, January 8, 2006
(January 8, 2006)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Why We Don't Trust Government Spying

Knight-Ridder: Government has long history of abusing personal information

WASHINGTON - President Bush has assured Americans that their government isn't spying on them, but history explains why many remain uneasy about this week's news that their phone records have been turned over to federal agents.

The government has a long track record of abusing personal information that's gathered in the name of national security. From the Red Scare in the 1920s to illegal wiretaps during the Nixon era, Americans have struggled to find the right balance between individual rights and collective security.

"The potential for abuse is awesome," a Senate investigation committee concluded in a 1976 report detailing illegal wiretaps, break-ins and other abuses that government agents committed in the 1960s and `70s.

The Senate panel, known as the "Church committee" after its chairman, Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, warned that technological advances would make it even harder for the government to stay within acceptable limits of respecting privacy rights, especially when the nation is at risk of attack.


In some cases, intelligence-gatherers try to use the information they collect against their enemies. In one of the most notorious examples, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover launched a campaign to discredit King that included an attempt to get him to commit suicide.

After gathering evidence of King's extramarital affairs, the agency sent a compilation of incriminating audiotapes to King's wife and sent him a note suggesting that he take his own life.

"King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. ... You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation," the note said.

Happy Mother's Day

Oh, baby -- it's 'just fate'
A pregnant pause for Chastain's soccer plans

'Support the Troops' Just a Bumpersticker

In reality, the government is forcing mentally ill servicemen to stay in the service, with disastrous results:

Hartford Courant: Mentally Unfit, Forced To Fight

Despite a congressional order that the military assess the mental health of all deploying troops, fewer than 1 in 300 service members see a mental health professional before shipping out.

Once at war, some unstable troops are kept on the front lines while on potent antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, with little or no counseling or medical monitoring.

And some troops who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq are being sent back to the war zone, increasing the risk to their mental health.

These practices, which have received little public scrutiny and in some cases violate the military's own policies, have helped to fuel an increase in the suicide rate among troops serving in Iraq, which reached an all-time high in 2005 when 22 soldiers killed themselves - accounting for nearly one in five of all Army non-combat deaths.

The Courant's investigation found that at least 11 service members who committed suicide in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite exhibiting signs of significant psychological distress. In at least seven of the cases, superiors were aware of the problems, military investigative records and interviews with families indicate.

Among the troops who plunged through the gaps in the mental health system was Army Spec. Jeffrey Henthorn, a young father and third-generation soldier, whose death last year is still being mourned by his native Choctaw, Okla.

What his hometown does not know is that Henthorn, 25, had been sent back to Iraq for a second tour, even though his superiors knew he was unstable and had threatened suicide at least twice,
according to Army investigative reports and interviews. When he finally succeeded in killing himself on Feb. 8, 2005, at Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, an Army report says, the work of the M-16 rifle was so thorough that fragments of his skull pierced the barracks ceiling.

The Incompetence, The Corruption, and The Cronyism: Frank Rich Edition

Frank Rich, New York Times: Will the Real Traitors Please Stand Up? (behind the wall)

Or, as we like to say here, it's a story of incompetence, cronyism and corruption:

It's often those who make the accusations we should be most worried about. Mr. Goss, a particularly vivid example, should not escape into retirement unexamined. He was so inept that an overzealous witch hunter might mistake him for a Qaeda double agent.

Even before he went to the C.I.A., he was a drag on national security. In "Breakdown," a book about intelligence failures before the 9/11 attacks, the conservative journalist Bill Gertz delineates how Mr. Goss, then chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, played a major role in abdicating Congressional oversight of the C.I.A., trying to cover up its poor performance while terrorists plotted with impunity. After 9/11, his committee's "investigation" of what went wrong was notoriously toothless.

Once he ascended to the C.I.A. in 2004, Mr. Goss behaved like most other Bush appointees: he put politics ahead of the national interest, and stashed cronies and partisan hacks in crucial positions.


It was under General Hayden, a self-styled electronic surveillance whiz, that the N.S.A. intercepted actual Qaeda messages on Sept. 10, 2001 — "Tomorrow is zero hour" for one — and failed to translate them until Sept. 12. That same fateful summer, General Hayden's N.S.A. also failed to recognize that "some of the terrorists had set up shop literally under its nose," as the national-security authority James Bamford wrote in The Washington Post in 2002. The Qaeda cell that hijacked American Flight 77 and plowed into the Pentagon was based in the same town, Laurel, Md., as the N.S.A., and "for months, the terrorists and the N.S.A. employees exercised in some of the same local health clubs and shopped in the same grocery stores."

If Democrats — and, for that matter, Republicans — let a president with a Nixonesque approval rating install yet another second-rate sycophant at yet another security agency, even one as diminished as the C.I.A., someone should charge those senators with treason, too.

Ed Strong has the whole article: Frank Rich: Will the Real Traitors Please Stand Up?

Ancient Celestial Observatory Found in Peru

GATEWAY: Archeologist Robert Benfer’s team found this clay sculpture of a frowning face at the Buena Vista site near Lima. The disk, marks the position of the Southern Hemisphere’s winter solstice.
(Robert Benfer / University of Missouri)

LATimes: Celestial Find at Ancient Andes Site
The discovery in Peru of a 4,200-year-old temple and observatory pushes back estimates of the rise of an advanced culture in the Americas.

Archeologists working high in the Peruvian Andes have discovered the oldest known celestial observatory in the Americas — a 4,200-year-old structure marking the summer and winter solstices that is as old as the stone pillars of Stonehenge.

The observatory was built on the top of a 33-foot-tall pyramid with precise alignments and sightlines that provide an astronomical calendar for agriculture, archeologist Robert Benfer of the University of Missouri said.

The people who built the observatory — three millenniums before the emergence of the Incas — are a mystery, but they achieved a level of art and science that archeologists say they did not know existed in the region until at least 800 years later.

Among the most impressive finds was a massive clay sculpture — an ancient version of the modern frowning "sad face" icon flanked by two animals. The disk, protected from looters beneath thousands of years of dirt and debris, marked the position of the winter solstice.

"It's really quite a shock to everyone … to see sculptures of that sophistication coming out of a building of that time period," said archeologist Richard L. Burger of Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History, who was not involved in the discovery.

The find adds strong evidence to support the recent idea that a sophisticated civilization developed in South America in the pre-ceramic era, before the development of fired pottery sometime after 1500 BC.

Benfer's discovery "pushes the envelope of civilization farther south and inland from the coast, and adds the important dimension of astronomy to these ancient folks' way of life," said archeologist Michael Moseley of the University of Florida, a noted Peru expert.

Beginning the Fall of Cheney?

A girl can dream, can't she?

NYTimes: Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping

WASHINGTON, May 13 — In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.

But N.S.A. lawyers, trained in the agency's strict rules against domestic spying and reluctant to approve any eavesdropping without warrants, insisted that it should be limited to communications into and out of the country, said the officials, who were granted anonymity to discuss the debate inside the Bush administration late in 2001.

The N.S.A.'s position ultimately prevailed. But just how Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the agency at the time, designed the program, persuaded wary N.S.A. officers to accept it and sold the White House on its limits is not yet clear.

Newsweek: A Fresh Focus on Cheney
Handwritten notes by the Vice President surface in the Fitzgerald probe.

It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for Cheney's own notes to be made public. The notes—apparently obtained as a result of a grand jury subpoena—would appear to make Cheney an even more central witness than had been previously thought in the criminal probe. Fitzgerald's prosecution has created continued problems for the White House. Karl Rove, the President Bush's chief political adviser, recently made his fifth grand jury appearance in the case and remains under scrutiny while Fitzgerald weighs whether to file criminal charges against him. For now, Libby is the only figure charged in the case.

Talking Points Memo Document Collection: A copy of Joseph Wilson's July 6, 2003 New York Times Op-Ed with Handwritten Notes by Vice President Cheney

President Gore Speaks

From Crooks & Liars, Gore's Oval Office speech from Saturday Night Live, last night:

SNL: If Al Gore were President

My favorite part was the beginning:

And now, a message from the President of the United States.

President Al Gore:
Good evening, my fellow Americans.

In 2000 when you overwhelmingly made the decision to elect me as your 43rd president, I knew the road ahead would be difficult. We have accomplished so much yet challenges lie ahead.

In the last 6 years we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack.

As you know, these renegade glaciers have already captured parts of upper Michigan and northern Maine, but I assure you: we will not let the glaciers win.

Right now, in the 2nd week of May 2006, we are facing perhaps the worst gas crisis in history.

We have way too much gasoline. Gas is down to $0.19 a gallon and the oil companies are hurting.

I know that I am partly to blame by insisting that cars run on trash.

I am therefore proposing a federal bailout to our oil companies because - hey, if it were the other way around, you know the oil companies would help us.

Get Pumped for the World Cup

YouTube video: US Soccer goals 2002 Korea

Give That Man a Knighthood

In Stevie G. We Trust

Two magnificent goals by Liverpool's magnificent captain. Let's hope he can similarly inspire Rooney-less England in Germany in June.

Liverpool 3-3 West Ham (aet)
Liverpool win 3-1 on penalties
Liverpool beat West Ham on penalties to win a thrilling FA Cup final.

The Hammers took an early two-goal lead thanks to Jamie Carragher's own goal and Dean Ashton's close-range strike, before Djibril Cisse pulled one back.

Steven Gerrard lashed home an equaliser after the break before Paul Konchesky's speculative cross put West Ham ahead.

Gerrard's stunning last-minute strike forced extra-time, with Pepe Reina saving from Bobby Zamora, Konchesky and Anton Ferdinand in the shoot-out.

Dietmar Hamann, Gerrard and John Arne Riise all scored from the spot for Liverpool, with only veteran Teddy Sheringham finding the net for West Ham.

BBC: Alan Hansen's Cup final verdict

Liverpool won a truly great FA Cup final played in a great spirit - but without one man West Ham would have had the trophy in their dressing room and would have been celebrating.

This was one of the classic Cup finals and it is desperately unfortunate that they should lose on penalties.

West Ham were the better side and should have won, but Liverpool had Steven Gerrard and that is why a very good season is now a great one for Rafael Benitez's side.

What a man, what a player and what a captain.

Liverpool made some good signings at the start of the season, but there was one man who was the best when they got him to sign a new contract and his name was Steven Gerrard.

Great players give you something extra when you are down and out and dead and buried and boy did Gerrard give Liverpool something extra.

Liverpool were a beaten side when the ball bounced out to him in the 90th minute of normal time, but it was a quite magnificent strike that beat Shaka Hislop and sent the game into extra time.

Gerrard is a man who doesn't know when he's beaten and he just scored an unbelieveable goal.

He looked like he was struggling with something, whether it was cramp or an injury, just before the ball came to him, and then he produced a strike like that with time running out.

It's what great players do and Gerrard is a great player.


Liverpool claimed the trophy, but as I said, West Ham were the better side and can be proud of their efforts.

But once again, it was that man Gerrard who pulled Liverpool up when they were down and led them to the FA Cup.

I Got a Birthday Present

Well, I think so. Hope Jason Leopold is right. The champagne is waiting....

truthout: Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators
By Jason Leopold

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.

During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.

Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, did not return a call for comment. Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove, which include perjury and lying to investigators about how and when Rove discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative and whether he shared that information with reporters, sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said.