Saturday, July 07, 2007

100+ More

The killing goes on:

A suicide bomber detonated a truck full of explosives in the market of a Shiite farm town on Saturday, killing more than 100 people and levelling nearby mud-brick buildings, police officials said.

Separately, eight American troops and a British soldier were killed in fighting over two days.


Amnesiac Hypocrite '08!

This is the best the GOP has to offer? A forgetful liar who was also a mole for Nixon during Watergate?
Fred Thompson, who is weighing a Republican presidential bid as a social conservative, "has no recollection" of performing lobbying work in 1991 for a family planning group that was seeking to relax an abortion counseling rule, a spokesman said Friday.

The Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site that Thompson was retained by National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association to lobby the administration of President George H.W. Bush to ease a regulation that prevented clinics that received federal money from offering any abortion counseling.


Friday, July 06, 2007

The War on Choice Continues

They just keep chipping away:
Missouri abortion providers will face new regulations for their clinics and new restrictions on teaching sex education classes under a bill Gov. Matt Blunt signed into law Friday.

The measure places more abortion clinics under government oversight by classifying them as ambulatory surgical centers. Planned Parenthood has said the law could force it to spend up to $2 million to remodel one of its clinics and halt medical abortions at another site.

The law also bars people affiliated with abortion providers from teaching or supplying materials for public school sex education courses, and it allows schools to offer abstinence-only programs.

Blunt proclaimed the law "one of the strongest pieces of pro-life legislation in Missouri history" as he spoke from a cross-shaped lectern during a signing ceremony in the sanctuary of Concord Baptist Church.

"I say if they can't meet the same basic requirements that other (medical) providers do, then they should shut down," Blunt said.


American Indians Thwart Republicans

Very nice:
Al Gore announced Friday a surprise Live Earth concert in Washington, foiling Senate Republicans who blocked Gore's attempt to bring his global warming extravaganza to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

The former vice president said the all-day "Mother Earth" concert would be held on the National Mall at the National Museum of the American Indian _ about two blocks from the Capitol _ as part of Saturday's concert series focused on climate change. The headliners are Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

"Global warming naysayers in the political world have not been able to have their way, because this will _ despite their best efforts _ be held on the Mall," Gore told The Associated Press.

The "Mother Earth" show had been previously planned, but Gore announced Friday that it would be part of the Live Earth series. The concert will also feature films, music, dancing and guest speakers, including scientists and cultural leaders from the American Indian community.

"There is no more important matter before us than the question of how to live sustainably on the Earth," said Tim Johnson, acting director of the American Indian museum and a descendant of the Mohawk tribe.


Selling Out the Wetlands

Is there anything that Bush doesn't want to destroy?
After a concerted lobbying effort by property developers, mine owners and farm groups, the Bush administration scaled back proposed guidelines for enforcing a key Supreme Court ruling governing protected wetlands and streams.

The administration last fall prepared broad new rules for interpreting the decision, handed down by a divided Supreme Court in June 2006, that could have brought thousands of small streams and wetlands under the protection of the Clean Water Act of 1972. The draft guidelines, for example, would allow the government to protect marsh lands and temporary ponds that form during heavy rains if they could potentially affect water quality in a nearby navigable waterway.

But just before the new guidelines were to be issued last September, they were pulled back in the face of objections from lobbyists and lawyers for groups concerned that the rules could lead to federal protection of isolated and insignificant swamps, potholes and ditches.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, charged with enforcing the Clean Water Act, finally issued new guidelines last month, which environmental and recreational groups said were much more narrowly drawn. These groups argue that the final guidelines will leave thousands of sensitive wetlands and streams unprotected.

This is all the more infuriating when one keeps in mind that damage done to the wetlands of southern Louisiana contributed substantially to the destruction caused by Katrina.


Uneasy Summer

A lot of DC-area men are feeling very nervous these days:
A woman accused of running a prostitution ring in the nation's capital is free to distribute thousands of pages of phone records after a federal judge lifted a restraining order on Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler's order granted the request of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 51, of Vallejo, Calif., to quash restrictions by government prosecutors that prohibited her from giving away the list.

"As a result, Jeane has determined to release those records under certain conditions to qualified individuals or organizations," wrote her attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, in an e-mail.

Palfrey and her attorney have said the list contains up to 15,000 names and could shake up Washington by revealing high-profile individuals.


Republicans Really Are Insane

Try to follow this logic, I dare you:
Today on Fox News’s Your World With Neil Cavuto, National Review Online columnist Jerry Bowyer attacked Michael Moore’s movie SiCKO and its positive portrayal of the health care in countries such as Britain and France. He argued that national health care systems are breeding grounds for terrorists because they are “bureaucratic.” “I think the terrorists have shown over and over again…they’re very good at gaming the system with bureaucracies,” said Bowyer.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Just Pathetic

It has been how many years now since Bill Clinton was in power? And still all the Bushies can do when criticized is point the finger at Clinton. Sad:
The White House on Thursday accused former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, of hypocrisy for criticizing President George W. Bush's decision to spare ex-aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby from prison.

The administration is on the defensive after Bush commuted Libby's 2-1/2-year sentence in a CIA leak case.


Romney Porn

The phrase is nauseating, but the kerfuffle is hilarious:
Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, who rails against the "cesspool" of pornography, is being criticized by social conservatives who argue that he should have tried to halt hardcore hotel movie offerings during his near-decade on the Marriott board.

Two anti-pornography crusaders, as well as two conservative activists of the type Romney is courting, say the distribution of such graphic adult movies runs counter to the family image cultivated by Romney, the Marriotts and their shared Mormon faith.

"Marriott is a major pornographer. And even though he may have fought it, everyone on that board is a hypocrite for presenting themselves as family values when their hotels offer 70 different types of hardcore pornography," said Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, an anti-pornography group based on Ohio.


Why Finance Profs Shouldn't Attempt Cultural Studies

Short answer: Because they say extraordinarily stupid things that are then reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Don Chance, a finance professor at Louisiana State University, says it dawned on him last spring. The semester was ending, and as usual, students were making a pilgrimage to his office, asking for the extra points needed to lift their grades to A's.

"They felt so entitled," he recalls, "and it just hit me. We can blame Mr. Rogers."

Fred Rogers, the late TV icon, told several generations of children that they were "special" just for being whoever they were. He meant well, and he was a sterling role model in many ways. But what often got lost in his self-esteem-building patter was the idea that being special comes from working hard and having high expectations for yourself.


Thursday Carnivorous Moon Snail Blogging

A sort of homage to (not to say "rip off of") Phila's nudibranchephilia.


A Little Truth

The Australian Defense Minister provides it:
Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has admitted that securing oil supplies is a key factor behind the presence of Australian troops in Iraq.

He said maintaining "resource security" in the Middle East was a priority.


"We Can't Even Do the Wrong Thing Right"

That's my humble suggestion for the new motto of the Bush administration:

U.S. diplomats in Iraq, increasingly fearful over their personal safety after recent mortar attacks inside the Green Zone, are pointing to new delays and mistakes in the U.S. Embassy construction project in Baghdad as signs that their vulnerability could grow in the months ahead.

A toughly worded cable sent from the embassy to State Department headquarters on May 29 highlights a cascade of building and safety blunders in a new facility to house the security guards protecting the embassy. The guards' base, which remains unopened today, is just a small part of a $592 million project to build the largest U.S. embassy in the world.


A Surge...

In unidentified bodies:
Nearly five months into a security strategy that involves thousands of additional U.S. and Iraqi troops patrolling Baghdad, the number of unidentified bodies found on the streets of the capital was 41 percent higher in June than in January, according to unofficial Health Ministry statistics.

During the month of June, 453 unidentified corpses, some bound, blindfolded, and bearing signs of torture, were found in Baghdad, according to morgue data provided by a Health Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

This is not, may I say, what success looks like.


Charity Case

Schwarzenegger is quite the man of principle:
California's larger-than-life governor is unabashed about living large, but keeping him in luxury sometimes depends on the same taxpayer subsidies granted to hand-to-mouth charities.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, a millionaire many times over, bills much of his overseas travel to an obscure nonprofit group that can qualify its secret donors for full tax deductions, just as if they were giving to skid row shelters or the United Way.

Whether journeying to China, Japan or last week's destinations — Austria, England and France — Schwarzenegger typically flies on top-of-the-line private jets like the plush Gulfstream models and has booked hotel suites that can run thousands of dollars a night.

Nonprofit watchdogs say using charitable write-offs to pay for sumptuous travel is an abuse of tax codes.

"Wow, that's a problem," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy. "Why should our tax dollars subsidize his lavish lifestyle?"


Wednesday, July 04, 2007


War for profit is all the rage:

THE number of US-paid private contractors in Iraq now exceeds that of American combat troops, new figures show, raising fresh questions about the privatisation of the war and the Government's capacity to carry out military and rebuilding campaigns.

More than 180,000 civilians - American and foreign - are working in Iraq under US contracts, State and Defence Department figures show. Including the recent troop increase, 160,000 American soldiers and several thousand civilian government employees are stationed in Iraq.


No New Cold War?

Perhaps not
, but US-Russian relations certainly aren't all sweetness and light these days:
Russia warned today that it would position its rockets close to the Polish border and point missiles at US bases in Europe if Washington rebuffed its latest offer of cooperation on missile defence.

Russia's hawkish first deputy prime minister, Sergei Ivanov, made it clear that Moscow would be forced "to respond" if the Bush administration snubbed Vladimir Putin's offer to work together on missile defence using a Soviet-era radar base.

"If our proposal is not accepted we will take adequate measures. An asymmetrical and effective response will be found," he said. This response would include basing "new rocket forces in the European part of Russia" in the enclave of Kaliningrad, he said. The Russian missiles would be able to "parry the threats that will arise from the [US] missile defence system," he added.


Hooray for Occupation Day

Apparently, that's Bush's new name for Independence Day:
President Bush defended his Iraq war policy in a patriotic Fourth of July talk, saying that while he honors the sacrifice of U.S. troops, now is not the time to bring them home.


Once Again, I Just Don't Follow

Maybe I'm simply not very bright, but isn't this the very definition of a hate crime?
A teenager who severely beat a transsexual last year is not guilty of a hate crime a Palm Beach County Juvenile Court judge has ruled.

Judge Peter Blanc ruled that the teen, who cannot be named because he was a minor at the time of the crime, is guilty of aggravated battery, but tossed out the hate crime charge.

At the time of his arrest the teen told police that he and a friend had gone out to pick up some girls and met the 39-year old victim outside a local bar.

The teen said that the victim performed oral sex on him in the friend's car and then agreed to go to the beach with him. The teen told police that as they were "making out" on the beach he felt a male organ.

He then began to beat the victim, whose name also has been withheld. After realizing he had left his cell phone in the car he walked to the vehicle, retrieved it returned to the victim and began hitting her with it.

A witness told the court that the teen forced the victim to her knees while he pummeled her face. He then slammed her head against the side of a lifeguard stand.

A police officer who questioned the teen testified that he seemed arrogant and said he had beat the woman until his hand was sore.


Fighting Outsourcing

But, of course, only in the very important industry of United States flag production.

Purely symbolic and silly:
What's red, white and blue — and made in China? A move is on in state legislatures to ensure that the flags folks will be flying and buying this Independence Day were made on this fruited plain.

Minnesota has passed the strongest measure, a new law that goes into effect at year's end requiring every Old Glory sold in state stores to be domestically produced. Violations are a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. In Arizona, schools and public colleges were required starting July 1 to outfit every classroom from junior high up with a made-in-the-USA flag. Tennessee requires all U.S. flags bought via state contract to be made here, and similar bills are moving forward in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


Dems Leading in Campaign Money

I can't remember this happening in my lifetime:
Campaign contributors to the 2008 presidential candidates heavily favored Democrats in the three-month period that ended Saturday, giving three dollars to the party's leading contenders for every two dollars they gave to the top Republican candidates.


Heartland Values


AS A stabbing victim lay dying on the floor of a convenience store, five shoppers, including one who stopped to take a photo with a mobile phone, stepped over the woman.

The June 23 incident, captured on a store surveillance video, received scant news coverage until a columnist for The Wichita Eagle, in the US state of Kansas, today disclosed the existence of the video and its contents.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Coulter: A "Great American"?

Apparently, wishing assassination upon political opponents is a mark of patriotism these days:

Yesterday on MSNBC’s Hardball, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) defended Ann Coulter’s attacks on John Edwards, including that she wishes he “had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”

He said that Elizabeth Edwards’s calls to stop making “personal attacks” against her family were attempts to “silence conservative voices.” He added that Coulter “is a very articulate spokeswoman for the conservative view” and “closely approaching that level of being a great American.”



McCain's campaign woes continue to amuse:
Republican John McCain struggled to keep his deeply troubled campaign afloat Monday, laying off dozens of staffers after lackluster fundraising and excessive spending left him with just $2 million for his second presidential bid.

Considered the GOP front-runner just six months ago, the Arizona senator trails his top rivals in money and polls. McCain's fortunes soured this year as he embraced President Bush's troop increase for the Iraq war, a conflict a majority of Republicans support, and a bipartisan immigration bill that has divided the GOP. He also has fought to win over skeptical conservatives who make up the core of the party.

Officials with knowledge of the reorganization said more than 50 staffers, and perhaps as many as 80 to 100, in every department of the campaign were being let go, and senior aides will be subject to pay cuts.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Canada Rewards Courage

Unlike the US, which rewards the likes of Libby, Canada knows real valor when it sees it:
The Rev. Brent Hawkes, who conducted a double wedding for two same-sex couples at his Metropolitan Community Church in 2001 and then went to court when Ontario refused to register the marriages in a case that resulted in marriage equality across Canada, has been named to the Order of Canada.

It is the highest civilian honor given in Canada and is awarded in the name of The Queen, by the Governor General, her representative in the country.

Hawkes will celebrate his 30th anniversary as pastor of MCC Toronto - a career that continually has seen him at the forefront of the fight for LGBT civil rights.

In 2001 when he performed the wedding ceremony for Kevin Bourassa & Joe Varnell and Elaine & Anne Vautour, Hawkes wore a bulletproof vest on the advice of police and following a series of threats from socially conservative activists.


Receiving the Order of Canada took Hawkes by surprise.

"I'm used to picketing governments," he told the Globe and Mail newspaper.


Missing the Point

Call me crazy, but the point of the bar exam is to ensure that lawyers, well, understand the law well enough to help their clients.

I have no idea how requiring an understanding of Massachusetts laws regarding gay marriage could possibly constitute a breach of a would-be lawyer's rights. Judging by the logic this man is employing in his lawsuit, I doubt he'd be much of a lawyer anyway:
A Massachusetts man who failed the bar exam when he refused to answer a question on gay marriage is suing the bar agency that administered the test, the Supreme Judicial Court and four justices on the court alleging his constitutional rights were violated by a requirement he answer all questions on the test.

Stephen Dunne received a score of 268.866 when he took the test last November. He needed 270 points for a passing grade and according to court documents his failure was the result of refusing the answer a question about same-sex marriage.

Gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts and the bar exam questioned prospective lawyers about the law and gay parenting.

In his lawsuit Dunne alleges that the question requires applicants to "affirmatively accept, support and promote homosexual marriage and homosexual parenting."

That he claims is a violation of his First Amendment right to exercise his religion and violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

This is actually even more ridiculous on its face than pharmacists refusing to provide birth control.


Bush Is Contemptuous

No secret, that. And Dark Knight Leahy isn't letting go of the issue:

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday that he will attempt to cite the White House for criminal contempt of Congress if it does not turn over documents related to the firing of nine federal prosecutors.

"If they don't cooperate, yes, I'd go that far," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "This is very important to the American people."


Sadly, No Surprise

Apparently, today's the day that is meant to remind us that those incompetent and immoral people will never suffer any real consequences for their actions:
Former World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz, who resigned amid a furor over his handling of a bank pay package for his girlfriend, has joined the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank, as a visiting scholar.

AEI's president, Christopher DeMuth, made the announcement Monday. Wolfowitz will work on entrepreneurship and development issues, Africa and public-private partnerships, the group said in a release.

Wolfowitz's last day as head of the World Bank, a major poverty-fighting institution, was on Saturday, ending a stormy two-year run.

He was essentially forced to step down from the World Bank after a special panel found that he broke bank rules in arranging a hefty pay raise for Shaha Riza, his girlfriend and bank employee. Wolfowitz's handling of the pay package prompted a staff revolt and calls by Europeans and others for him to resign.

Before taking over the World Bank, Wolfowitz had served as the No. 2 official at the Pentagon, where he played a key role in mapping out the U.S.-led war in Iraq.


No Time

I heard this on the radio while doing errands, and startled nearby shoppers with my expletives:
President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case Monday, stepping into a criminal case with heavy political overtones on grounds that the sentence was just too harsh.
"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."


The British Falwell

Crazy homophobia
is an international phenomenon:
A senior Church of England bishop says floods that have caused widespread damage in the UK are the result of God's wrath on a permissive society that endorses gay right.

"We are in serious moral trouble because every type of lifestyle is now regarded as legitimate," the Rt Rev Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle, told the Sunday Telegraph.

"In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as 'the beast', which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want," he told the paper, adding that the introduction of recent pro-gay laws undermines marriage.

"The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God's judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance."


The Nature of the Sociopath

The headline says it all.

A President Besieged and Isolated, Yet at Ease


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Lieberman, Voyeur

I swear, people really need to keep their kinks out of their professional lives:
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said Sunday he wants to “more widely” use surveillance cameras across the country.


Killing More Civilians

And no doubt creating more enemies:
Air strikes in the British-controlled Helmand province of Afghanistan may have killed civilians, coalition troops said yesterday as local people claimed that between 50 and 80 people, many of them women and children, had died.

In the latest of a series of attacks causing significant civilian casualties in recent weeks, more than 200 were killed by coalition troops in Afghanistan in June, far more than are believed to have been killed by Taliban militants.


Free Speech Wins

Even though he's no longer in office, Santorum goes on being a liability:
The American Civil Liberties Union has settled a federal lawsuit stemming from an incident during which a Delaware state trooper ejected protesters from a book-signing event with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.).

Under the settlement, the Delaware State Police will adopt a policy and training program for its officers on the free speech rights of protesters and pay $15,000 for the plaintiffs' legal fees, the ACLU said Wednesday.

In addition, Sgt. Mark DiJiacomo will write a letter to the plaintiffs. Former Santorum aides Ellen Melrose and Becky Barrett-Toomey also will send the plaintiffs a letter of regret and pay them $2,500, the amount they were paid by Santorum's campaign to assist him on a book tour in Pennsylvania and Delaware.


A Win in NH

Parental notification requirement repealed:
Gov. John Lynch signed legislation Friday that made New Hampshire the first state to repeal a law requiring a parent be notified before a minor received an abortion.