Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate Reflection

McCain is the anti-Ford Prefect.
His skin seemed to be pulled backwards from the nose. There was something very slightly odd about him, but it was difficult to say what it was. Perhaps it was that his eyes didn't blink often enough and when you talked to him for any length of time your eyes began involuntarily to water on his behalf. Perhaps it was that he smiled slightly too broadly and gave people the unnerving impression that he was about to go for their neck.

McCain blinks freakishly often. But I do think that he might go for my neck, given the opportunity.


Friday, September 26, 2008

About Bloody Time

How she held the post this long is beyond me:
AIDS activists Friday were celebrating the removal of South Africa’s health minister, who promoted nutritional supplements instead of conventional medicine for people with HIV.

Manto Tshabalala-Msimang became the target of international criticism for espousing the use of beetroot, garlic, lemon and the African potato in the fight against AIDS, earning her the nickname “Dr. Beetroot.”

“Raw garlic and a skin of the lemon - not only do they give you a beautiful face and skin, but they also protect you from disease,” she told a news conference in 2005. “All I am bombarded about is anti-retrovirals, anti-retrovirals. There are other things we can be assisted in doing to respond to HIV/AIDS in this country.”


McCain: Time Traveler

Who knew he had such powers?


Biggest Failure Ever

Love this economy:
As the debate over a $700 billion bank bailout rages on in Washington, one of the nation's largest banks — Washington Mutual Inc. — has collapsed under the weight of its enormous bad bets on the mortgage market.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized WaMu on Thursday, and then sold the thrift's banking assets to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $1.9 billion.


Hurray for My University!

We designed the penny:
A University of Wisconsin Oshkosh art professor’s work will be among the most widely circulated art in the country, beginning Feb. 12, 2009.

Richard Masters’ design of Abraham Lincoln’s log cabin was selected as one of four new designs for the reverse of the circulating U.S. penny. The four coins each represent a different era of Lincoln’s life. Masters’ design features a log cabin that represents his humble beginnings in Kentucky with the inscriptions, “United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” “One Cent” and “1809.”

“The Lincoln penny will also be 100 years old having been first minted back in 1909 making our penny the longest coin design type in U.S. history,” said Masters. “The last and only time the penny’s design was changed was in 1959 from the old ‘wheat ears’ reverse design to the ‘Lincoln Memorial’ design we have today.”


Thursday, September 25, 2008


In the midst of re-creating the controversial New Yorker cover illustration of Barack and Michelle Obama for the cover photo that graces this week's print edition of Entertainment Weekly, Jon Stewart stops briefly to pose a taste question. As he stands by the catering table in ''secret Muslim'' garb, he ponders, ''Would it be weird to be dressed like this and have a bagel, salmon, and a schmear?'' Pseudo-blowhard Stephen Colbert has his own worries. Striking his best Michelle-as-Black-Panther pose, he glances at the original cartoon and realizes that he's ''hippier'' than the potential First Lady. Gesturing at his own waist, he moans, ''I could drop a baby like a peasant.''


What Year Is This?

Leave it to Metairie to produce this sort of crap:

State Representative John LaBruzzo of Metairie said many of his constituents are tired of paying for children from poor families and that is why he is considering proposing legislation that would pay women on government assistance $1,000 if they choose to be sterilized.

“You have these people who are just fed up with working their buns off to try to provide for their own family and being forced by the government o provide for others’ families who just want to have unlimited kids,” he said.


Cut Off

China is turning its back on the financial morass that is the United States:
Chinese regulators have told domestic banks to stop interbank lending to U.S. financial institutions to prevent possible losses during the financial crisis, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

The Hong Kong newspaper cited unidentified industry sources as saying the instruction from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) applied to interbank lending of all currencies to U.S. banks but not to banks from other countries.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Farewell, Posse Comitatus

It was nice knowing you:
Several bloggers today have pointed to this obviously disturbing article from Army Times, which announces that "beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the [1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division] will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North" -- "the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities."
For more than 100 years -- since the end of the Civil War -- deployment of the U.S. military inside the U.S. has been prohibited under The Posse Comitatus Act (the only exceptions being that the National Guard and Coast Guard are exempted, and use of the military on an emergency ad hoc basis is permitted, such as what happened after Hurricane Katrina). Though there have been some erosions of this prohibition over the last several decades (most perniciously to allow the use of the military to work with law enforcement agencies in the "War on Drugs"), the bright line ban on using the U.S. military as a standing law enforcement force inside the U.S. has been more or less honored -- until now. And as the Army Times notes, once this particular brigade completes its one-year assignment, "expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one."


A Rather Important Issue

And one that, of course, the Bush administration plans to neglect:
Start is the cornerstone arms control agreement between the US and Russia, and it will expire in December 2009. Concluded in 1991 during the final days of the cold war, it set ceilings on nuclear forces and laid out an elaborate set of mechanisms for verifying mutual compliance, setting new standards for nuclear transparency. Start is also important because the 2002 Moscow Treaty (also known as Sort), which specifies further reductions, incorporates its verification measures.

There is now a very real risk that when Start expires there will be no successor agreement to replace it, with potentially grave implications for nuclear security. The Bush administration has indefinitely postponed a trip to Russia by its top arms control official to discuss Start, and Russia seems to welcome the silent treatment.


The Anti-Choice Bush Administration

They're at it again.
We must be ever diligent:
Several medical associations and 13 state attorneys general voiced their opposition Wednesday to a proposed federal rule that they fear would open the door for hospitals and physicians to deny access to contraception.

In late August, the Bush administration proposed stronger job protections for doctors and other health care workers who refuse to participate in abortions because of religious or moral objections. Abortion foes called it a victory for the First Amendment, but abortion rights supporters said they feared the rule could stretch the definition of abortion to include birth control.
As the deadline nears, opponents have orchestrated a highly public call for the administration to rescind the rule. While the regulation states that it would not limit access to health care, groups such as the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics disagreed.

They said doctors and nurses are already not required to perform abortions or sterilizations. They can refuse to do so. But each health care professional is ethically bound to inform patients about all of their treatment options. If health care professionals cannot or will not provide a certain service, they are ethically obligated to refer patients in a timely manner to someone who can.

"Implementation of this regulation would effectively allow health care providers' personal beliefs to override patients' right to full disclosure of accurate information and available health care resources," the medical associations wrote.


Kick Him Out

It's long past time for Joe to go:
Connecticut Democrats are considering whether to ask Sen. Joe Lieberman to leave the party for speaking at the Republicans' convention and backing GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

The party scheduled a debate Wednesday night on a resolution that would censure Lieberman and ask the veteran politician to resign from the Democratic Party.


Throw Away the Key

This twisted monster is a glaring reminder that bondage with strangers is a very, very BAD idea:
A Louisiana man was sentenced Wednesday to eight life terms after pleading guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder.

Ronald Dominique, 44, had been suspected in the slayings of as many as 23 men in southern Louisiana.

In his confession, Dominique told police that he picked the men up throughout the region. Once he got the victim to his house - often with the suggestion of a threesome with another women - he said he would ask to tie him up.

After they were bound, Dominique said he would rape and then kill them. Men who refused to be tied up were allowed to leave unharmed.


Get Ready

For a long, hard winter:
As winter descends this year, heating costs are expected to rise dramatically in response to the rising costs of oil. The federal Energy Information Administration estimates that heating oil costs will average $4.65 per gallon this winter, compared with $3.28 last year. During the fall, when most families replenish their supply of heating fuels, per gallon prices will be a whopping 60 percent higher than the same time last year.


It's Bad, You Know

But we don't know exactly how bad, because it is so bad that they don't want to tell us how bad it is:
US intelligence analysts are putting the final touches on a secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Afghanistan that reportedly describes the situation as "grim", but there are "no plans to declassify" any of it before the election, according to one US official familiar with the process.


Christian Behavior

What the hell is wrong with Oregon?

A life-size cardboard effigy of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was hung from a campus tree, suspended from a branch with fishing line around the neck, officials of a small Christian university said Wednesday.

George Fox University President Robin Baker said a custodian discovered the effigy early Tuesday and removed it.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I guess that's the new word for "proving it's a lie":
One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

The disclosure undercuts a statement by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the company for the last several years.


Going Through the Motions

Good, but I doubt anything will come of it:
The FBI is investigating four major U.S. financial institutions whose collapse helped trigger a $700 billion bailout plan by the Bush administration.


A New Democratic Mascot

The Dems haven't been kicking like a donkey in quite a while.

But they are slow, and they may be making a comeback:
An extinct giant tortoise could make a comeback now that living turtles in the Galapagos Islands have been confirmed as hybrid descendents.

Caccone said that the "alien" group of tortoises could allow researchers to resurrect the extinct Floreana tortoise by selective breeding, if enough hybrid tortoises still live on Isabela.

"We have the possibility, a remote one, to do some assisted breeding like a 'Lazarus' or 'Phoenix' project," Caccone told LiveScience.


All Is Well

There is no housing crisis:

Ray is one of more than 7.5 million people — almost 15 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage — who are spending half of their income or more on housing costs, according to 2007 data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. That is up from nearly 7.1 million the year before.

Traditionally, the government and most lenders consider a homeowner spending 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs to be financially burdened. But that definition now covers almost 38 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage — 19 million of them.


A Possible Victory

The federal government wants to protect the environment? Isn't Bush still president?
Federal wildlife officials have asked a judge to put gray wolves in the Northern Rockies back on the endangered species list _ a sharp reversal from the government's prior contention that the animals were thriving.

Attorneys for the Fish and Wildlife Service asked U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula to vacate the agency's February finding that more than 1,400 wolves in the region no longer needed federal protection.

The government's request Monday follows a July injunction in which Molloy had blocked plans for public wolf hunts this fall in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho pending resolution of a lawsuit by environmentalists.


Our New Overlord

I for one welcome him; I am sure all will be well:
Moreover, bailout legislation submitted to Congress by the White House over the weekend would transform Paulson's office into that of temporary overseer of America's entire financial system.


Fiscal Responsibility

Well done:

A former Iraqi official estimated yesterday that more than $13 billion meant for reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen through elaborate fraud schemes.

Salam Adhoob, a former chief investigator for Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity, told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, an arm of the Democratic caucus, that an Iraqi auditing bureau "could not properly account for" the money.

While many of the projects audited "were not needed -- and many were never built," he said, "this very real fact remains: Billions of American dollars that paid for these projects are now gone."

He said a report that went to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top Iraqi officials was never published because "nobody cares" about investigating such cases.


Monday, September 22, 2008


Rather a drastic example of "class warfare":

Corporate India is in shock after a mob of sacked workers bludgeoned to death the chief executive who had dismissed them from a factory in a suburb of Delhi.

Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, the head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, an Italian-headquartered manufacturer of car parts, died of severe head wounds on Monday afternoon after being attacked by scores of laid-off employees, police said.

The incident, in Greater Noida, just outside the Indian capital, followed a long-running dispute between the factory's management and workers who had demanded better pay and permanent contracts.


Sexism Pays

If you're a man, of course:

A study has found that men who believe in traditional roles for women earn significantly more money than those who see women as an equal.

The study, to be published in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, is proof that pay differences between men and women can be attributed to more than just economics.

After analyzing inteviews with nearly 8,000 individuals, researchers found that men with traditional attitudes about gender earned $11,930 more than men with egalitarian attitudes and $14,404 more than women with traditional attitudes. The comparisons were based on men and women working with the same levels of education working the same kinds of jobs at the same number of hours.


Roy Cohn Award

A McCain staffer is, surprise, a hypocrite:
Mark Buse is not just a Chief of Staff for a homophobic United States Senator, but he is helping that Senator get elected to the White House.

Does Mark Buse fit the Barney Frank rule? Without a doubt. While McCain voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he supports amending state constitutions defining marriage as between a man and a woman. McCain knows our country needs everyone who wants to serve in the military and he knows that DADT is wrong, yet he swings to the right on repealing it.

Worst of all, and a demonstration of his inability to act rationally and with the country's best interests at heart, he picked someone who, if she becomes president (very likely), will be the most homophobic in American history.
So, when the source an I talked again, I got some details. The main source (I have since confirmed the story with two others and Mike Signorile has the ex-boyfriend on the record) talked to me about how he met Buse at a number of gay parties, including one at Buse's house. Parties at the Buse residence, according to the source, would sometime become sexual in nature as the evening went on. The source told me, Ironically, that Buse and his partner of over ten years had a sling hanging in, of all places, the closet.
My source, who did not know if Buse and his partner had an open relationship had a brief sexual encounter with Buse alone. The source, due to work considerations must remain anonymous.


Persecution Complex

Poor, mistreated Republicans
Steve Schmidt, a McCain campaign senior adviser, declared on a conference call with reporters Monday that The New York Times “is not a journalistic organization.”

“Whatever The New York Times once was, it is today not by any standard a journalistic organization,” Schmidt said. “It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day impugns the McCain campaign, attacks Senator McCain, attacks Governor [Sarah Palin]. It excuse Senator Obama. …

“Everything that is read in The New York Times that attacks this campaign should be evaluated by the American people from that perspective – that it is an organization that has made a decision to deemphasize its journalistic integrity and tradition, to advocate for the defeat of one candidate – in this case, John McCain – and to advocate for the election of the other candidate, Barack Obama.”


No Oversight

Think Progress has a long list of reasons why this is an utterly idiotic idea.



They are feasting on the moribund housing market:

Interviews with legal aid offices and law enforcement officials around the nation indicate the problem of so-called “foreclosure rescue scams” has spread like wildfire, neatly paralleling the downturn in the mortgage market.

The problem is so bad that in Portland, Ore., local police now automatically send a letter to homeowners who enter foreclosure warning them that they will be inundated with shady offers of help. In one case in Maryland, a single firm is accused of bilking hundreds of residents out of their homes and stealing $60 million in equity. Similar large-scale scams are happening elsewhere; in fact, foreclosure fraud is so common that it's exacerbating the nationwide housing slump, adding to the ranks of distressed homes that pull down the housing market in general, according to some experts.

There are many variations on the scams, but they all boil down to two types. There’s a simple fee-based racket, in which the criminal offers to help the homeowner stave off foreclosure, collects an up-front fee and then disappears. But the more lucrative scheme involves seducing homeowners into complicated transactions that allow the middlemen to steal equity in the house or walk away from the closing table after netting thousands in phony payouts.


The Two Stooges

The McCain/Palin campaign is floundering in a most pathetic fashion:

The plane taxied to a halt only 100 metres away from the crowd gathered at an airport outside the city of Cedar Rapids. They cheered wildly as McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, descended from the aircraft and trooped through the throng, smiling and shaking hands.

Then things started to go wrong. 'Thank you so much, Iowa. It's great to be here in Grand Rapids,' Palin said as she took the stage, naming a completely different city in the far-off state of Michigan. 'CEDAR Rapids!' came shouts from the crowd. Palin ignored her gaffe and ploughed on with a speech that was quickly interrupted by anti-war protesters. For several minutes the hangar was filled with shouts and chants, drowning out the Alaska governor's words. Then McCain took the stage, and the same thing happened to him, forcing him off his script to address an unruly scrimmage as security hauled out the shouting demonstrators. 'The one thing Americans want us to do is stop yelling at each other,' McCain said in exasperation.

Suddenly, after hauling his campaign back into contention for the White House, the wheels are starting to come off McCain's fabled Straight Talk Express. The gaffe-ridden rally in Cedar Rapids was only one indication. In a week of almost unprecedented economic crisis, when Wall Street seemed on the brink of meltdown, McCain's presidential bid was hit by mistake after mistake, varying from the serious to the surreal.

As stocks dropped off a precipice, McCain said the economic fundamentals were strong. Then a senior aide seemed to suggest McCain had invented the BlackBerry. His top economic adviser, Carly Fiorina, confessed she thought neither McCain nor Palin was capable of running a large company. Then, in the middle of the worst financial collapse since the 1930s, McCain got the public endorsement of Donald Trump, a celebrity tycoon who symbolises raw capitalism. For a candidate trying to strike a populist tone, the backing of 'the Donald' was poorly timed. 'It's like a Saturday Night Live routine,' quipped rival Barack Obama on a campaign stop in Nevada.


McCain Just Can't Help Himself

He's just addicted to stupid lies:

Barack Obama's backers Sunday branded Republican John McCain as out of touch and guilty of betraying US workers after it was reported his family owns 13 cars, including several foreign models.

The Republican presidential hopeful and his family have already faced ridicule and criticism from Democrats over a property portfolio which includes seven homes.

The United Auto Workers union (UAW) accused the Arizona senator in a conference call organized by Democrats of not telling the truth about always buying American cars, as the family fleet reportedly includes a Honda and a Volkswagen.

"When he's in the midwest, he tells voters he supports the industry," UAW president Ron Gettelfinger said, referring to economically bereft battleground states.


More Friendly Fire

Our allies in Pakistan are such kidders:
Pakistani troops fired on two U.S. helicopters that intruded into Pakistani airspace on Sunday night, forcing them to turn back to Afghanistan, a senior Pakistani security official said on Monday.