Friday, March 31, 2006

Always Low Wages and Regulation. Always!

[straight from Kevin Drum]:
FOX, MEET HENHOUSE... Hey, guess who President Bush has nominated to head up the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division? That's right: the guy who represented Wal-Mart in trying to prevent a class of 1.5 million women from suing the company for discrimination in pay and promotions! He also appears to oppose pretty much every regulation related to wages and hours ever passed.

What a perfect nominee. If he didn't exist, the Republican Party would have to have invented him.

FRT: Laziest. Post. Ever.

Pressed for time, so here's what my iTunes just played...

[Click to enlarge so you can see it]

New CAFE Standards Just Nibble at Edges

After scrolling through my last couple posts, it's obvious what I need more than anything is an editor to chop the shit out of my writing... So, here's a link without further rambling commentary from me [via Kung Fu monkey]:

Leave it to the Brazilians
MyDD has a nice thing up about the CAFE standards finally being nudged up in the US (no one is more surprised than I) but the leavens it with the news that Brazil, the entire frikkin' nation, is about to go all-ethanol.

Ahh, the US marches bravely into the mid-1970's as Brazil gets its jetpacks on.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Kaloogian Unwittingly Reveals His Own Fraud

When confronted with a mistake (best case) or lie (likely) GOP Congressional candidate Howard Kaloogian did what Republicans do best: He first denies any wrongdoing without knowing better, then when confronted with the evidence, he throws a staffer (his webmaster) under the bus. Kaloogian claims they took so many pictures on the trip to Iraq that no one could keep them straight, and they'll post he correct one (more on this below) and then turns on the one person who really had nothing to do with this whole flap—his opponent. Here is his statement:
"My campaign mistakenly mislabeled a photograph as being from Baghdad, Iraq when it is in fact from Istanbul, Turkey. Immediately after I realized this error I had the photograph replaced with one we took from Baghdad.

I made a mistake in posting the wrong picture, and I accept full responsibility for it.

However, the anti-war activists who are supporting Democrat Francine Busby are trying to use this clerical mistake as justification for opposing the war. How silly.

I will not apologize for supporting the missions our troops are serving in Iraq.

I will not apologize for traveling to Iraq to afford our troops the opportunity to report back home the progress being made that is not being reported by the mainstream news media.

I will not back down from supporting the mission our troops are serving in Iraq to defeat the terrorist threat. By bringing stability, democracy and freedom to the people who were long terrorized by the brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein, and eliminating safe havens for terrorists, we are ensuring American security at home.

And, most importantly, I will not allow Francine Busby, her "Blame America First" friends, and the anti-military contingent to undermine America’s support for our military men and women and their mission in Iraq."

As if any of that is what happened. Nobody I read yesterday even got into the pros and cons of the War, we were all too busy with the fact that Kaloogian was full of shit. You and your staff tried to foist a picture of Istanbul on your constituents as evidence of a calm, placid Iraq and you got caught. For someone who was trying to convey that the media refuses to accurately portray the situation in Iraq, it might behoove you to be sure you accurately portray it yourself.

This was not just "a clerical error," and there is no excuse for what happened. It was either purely malevolent intent to deceive or astonishing incompetence—neither of which reflects well on you or your staff—and more importantly, has absolutely nothing to do with supporting the troops, the War, Francine Busby, or Blaming America First.

The fact that the picture looked straight out of a Fodor's book should have raised an eyebrow on your staff if it was truly accidental. It didn't.

Of course, if you go to Kaloogian's website it is as if none of this ever happened. The pictures from Iraq are now reduced to two shots of him standing next to generals in a Green Zone tent, and there is no statement, acknowledgement or reference to any of what occurred yesterday.

For a brief period, presumably before just yanking everything down, Kaloogian posted this picture to replace the Istanbul tourism postcard:

The file is actually called "safebaghad.jpg." As you can see, apparently the only way to get a "safe" photo of Baghdad is from a rooftop in the heavily-fortified Green Zone. Also, it should be noted, that this new photo is almost a year old, and the police station shown has since been blown up. At this point, I guess it was smart to go ahead and dismantle the site, because somehow I think the original point is now lost.

Here's how Kaloogian screwed up and essentially reveals the fraud: This "new" picture really shows that the original misleading photo was deliberate. Once he was caught and forced to actually come up with a picture of Baghdad to match the caption, this was the best Kaloogian could do? His statements imply they had "dozens" of man-on-the-street photos laying around (Baghdad and elsewhere), and the web guy just accidentally grabbed the wrong one. As if Kaloogian and his cohorts were backpacking across the Middle East and when they dropped the film off, Wal-Mart mixed up the rolls...

Here's what I think happened: Kaloogian or someone in the campaign decided to jump onto the "blame the media" bandwagon started last week by Bush and Cheney, and take their own shot at the "media's negative coverage." They directed the web guy to post a pleasant street scene and add the caption that the media is lying about the situation in Iraq.

That shows this whole thing was a fraud from the start...It's now obvious that pictures showing a safe Iraq street DO NOT EXIST IN THE "VAST" KALOOGIAN ARCHIVE AND NEVER DID! If they had any, they could simply have put one up after the Istanbul "mistake." But they couldn't.

They had no pictures of safe Iraqi neighborhoods, because they never saw any! Not that they don't exist—but that they didn't see them. But that didn't stop them. None of the details (like truth or accuracy) mattered—they never do. The only thing that mattered was finding the evidence to fit the talking point.

It seems likely to me that Kaloogian's "fact-finding mission" never even left the Green Zone. Even most seasoned correspondents stationed there don't, and I trust that a soft, rich San Diego businessman and a cadre of right-wing radio loudmouths on a junket aren't exactly put-their-necks-on-the-line-types. Even if they did tour the area, they never saw any safe, quiet streets like they claim or they would have documented it, and had the photos.

Kaloogian should have just pulled this thing when he got busted. Instead, like a defendant who insists on taking the stand against his lawyer's advice, he was stubborn and dug in deeper. Like Bush, he stuck to his guns when he shouldn't have. By posting the rooftop shot he exposed the fact that they never went out on the street, and never had an honest claim to make.


UPDATE: Of course the implication by Kaloogian that a photo refutes the media's claims that Iraq is a dangerous place is ridiculous. I'm sure Europeans took plenty of photos during the 40s that didn't include Nazis.

The irony is that this new photo looks exactly like the backdrop behind ninety percent of the reports from Baghdad. According to the logic Kaloogian applies, every "lying" report from Baghdad (see right) disproves itself...

You should go watch this report from Lara Logan at Crooks and Liars. She does a great job shooting down the accusations from Bush, Cheney, and hangers-on like Kalooogian that the media are misconstruing the events and situation in Iraq. The best part? When she dismantles the ridiculous 'Today Show' claim by Laura Ingrahm that the media simply "report from hotel balconies."

It now seems apparent that's all Kaloogian did.

"It's got a cop motor...cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks..."

Indulge me.

I've long had a fascination with police cruisers. Always wanted to own a decommissioned cop car. I don't really know why—blame the Blues Brothers, I suppose. I almost bought an old 1980 LTD II police car when I was in college. Should've done it. It was green... had a spotlight, a 140 mph speedo (back in the days of mandatory 85 mph speedos), switches for the lights and stuff (which were all obviously removed)... [sigh]

Over the years, I've kind of kept an eye on the stylings of the police car market. Passing judgement on different cities and departments for the cars they choose, graphics, light set-ups, etc. Here in Michigan, they astoundingly still opt for the single "bubble gum" light on the roof. Ugh. I've always been a fan of the "flying wedge" used by the NYPD and others. Always go red and blue too.

I'm a fucking nerd, alright?

Anyway, Chevy long ago transitioned from the bloated Caprice to the new front-wheel drive pansy Impala, so Ford has been the only "real" option for a traditional rear-wheel drive V8 cop car (only 250 HP, Ford? My wife's minivan has that!).

Since Dodge came out with the Charger, I began thinking, "How badass would a Charger cop car be? It's cool looking, and ballsy..."

This morning I saw one. A totally blacked out Charger with twin spotlights on the A-pillars and black steel five spoke rims. It was tuff. I actually went a couple blocks out of the way just to jockey with it in traffic for a good look.

After C.H.I.P.s, the Dukes of Hazzard and the Blues Brothers movie hunted the entire country's fleet of Dodge/Chrysler police cars into extinction by 1984, the Charger is back. Here's a peek (the all-black Vadermobile I saw this morning was even more badass...):

Coming soon to a speed trap near you. Starting in NYC.

Oh, and here are detailed instructions for re-creating your own version of the Bluesmobile. Seriously.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Latest from the 82nd ChAirborne


"Greetings From Sunny Baghdad Istanbul!"

Howard Kaloogian is GOP candidate running to replace Duke Cunningham in San Diego. He has a post up on his campaign website chiding the US media for over-portraying the violence in Iraq. As proof, he offers a photo he took of a calm, peaceful Baghdad street...

Caption from website: "We took this photo of dowtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism."

The only problem is that appears NOT to be Baghdad, but a city in Turkey.

Roman- not Arabic-based alphabet...Turkish ice cream chain (edo)... Western wear on the woman... a freaking UPS delivery van(!)... The folks at Kos are all over this one.

That UPS van is the clincher for me. I am pretty certain that in a city where Westerners of any identifiable stripe are at risk of kidnapping, and Iraqis that work for US or Western companies are murdered, there are no guys driving around in UPS vans wearing brown uniforms and casually delivering packages.

Of course the real issue here should be that a snapshot of any moment in time is not any more proof that Baghdad is a Shangri-la, any more than a carbomb photo means it is a constant warzone (which it hapens to be). That this clown would try to make this point even with a genuine photo of Baghdad is ridiculous enough, but when he uses a photo from another country and references it as proof of his point, he's not just disingenuous, he's a fucking liar.

If there is any justice, this will finish his political career.

UPDATE: Adding to the preponderance of evidence... Check out the taxi in the foreground and the booth at the parking lot entrance here.

And compare the planters in this photo of Istanbul with the ones in the "Baghdad" photo.

UPDATE AGAIN: Case closed. From an intrepid commenter at Kos:

It is indeed a street in the bustling Istanbul suburb of Bakirkoy:

Wow. That only took half a day. I imagine Kaloogian will attempt to explain this by throwing the web designer or a staffer under the bus. "So-and-so accidentally posted the wrong photo from the trip..." It's bullshit. It may very well be a photo from the same trip when they went to Iraq (and stopped over in Turkey?). Kaloogian seems to be very active on matters related to Armenia, and may go to the Middle East often, resulting in countless photos. I don't know, and I don't care. This is inexcusable. If you are going to offer a photograph as damning evidence that the media is lying about Iraq, it behooves you to make sure the photo you are using is what you say it is. There is no "honest" mistake here. It is either a deliberate lie, or rank incompetence. Either way, this guy deserves to be the laughingstock on tonite's late night talk shows and finished in serious politics.

[h/t to The Other Steve who brought this to my attention in an unrelated thread at John Cole's.]

Kaloogian Blames Iraq Photo Error on Staffer
By Justin Rood - March 29, 2006, 1:06 PM


Howard Kaloogian, a leading GOP candidate for Randy "Duke" Cunningham's seat in Congress, posted a photo on his Web site of a quiet Turkish suburb. No problem there -- but his site said it was of Baghdad, taken during his trip there. He called it proof that Iraq was calmer than the media was reporting.

Josh tells the story at TPM of how the blogosphere rounded up a posse and proved the pic was a fake -- or rather, the pic was real, but the caption was hooey.

We reached Kaloogian by phone moments ago. Here's what he had to say:

[O]n the way back from Baghdad some of the crew stopped in Istanbul as a layover. We turned all the photographs [from the trip] over to the webmaster, and it appears he took one from the stopover and not from Baghdad. If a mistake happened, we'll correct it.

Kaloogian noted that he brought back "hundreds and hundreds" of photographs from the trip. He declined to identify his webmaster's name, saying only that he was "a member of my staff."

Yeah, well it's your campaign website, and you were probably still the idiot that thought it was a good idea to post a Baghdad photo to start with. Whether or not somebody posted the wrong photo shouldn't obscure the fact that the whole thing displayed poor judgement and an attempt at misleading propaganda.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE UPDATE: It seems's "Daou Report" is linking here (thanks CB), and that is generating some traffic. That's exciting, and I hope people look around at some other stuff while they're here. But I want to point out that all I did here was compile the info from an 800-comment thread over at Kos and add my opinion. The real "Where in the World is Carmen (Would-be Representative from-) San Diego" detective work was done by the folks in that thread. Especially Jem6x. Josh Marshall has also been on this, and it seems Will Bunch was one of the firsts.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"...a firm grounding in math and science"

In President Bush's recent State of the Union address, Bush insisted that American students need "a firm grounding in math and science" or the nation will lose its competitive "edge." Well, consider that "edge" officially dull. This is from an investigative article in the Arkansas Times:
...“Bob” is a geologist and a teacher at a science education institution that serves several Arkansas public school districts.

Timeout. Okay, remember, this is at the science institution, not just a random podunk school in 'Footloose'-town run by a crazy board or superintendant.
[...] Teachers at his facility are forbidden to use the “e-word” (evolution) with the kids. They are permitted to use the word “adaptation” but only to refer to a current characteristic of an organism, not as a product of evolutionary change via natural selection. They cannot even use the term “natural selection.” Bob feared that not being able to use evolutionary terms and ideas to answer his students’ questions would lead to reinforcement of their misconceptions.

Okay. That's bad enough. No "evolution." It gets better/worse...
But Bob’s personal issue was more specific, and the prohibition more insidious. In his words, “I am instructed NOT to use hard numbers when telling kids how old rocks are. I am supposed to say that these rocks are VERY VERY OLD ... but I am NOT to say that these rocks are thought to be about 300 million years old.”

If the Geology teacher at the regional Science Center is supposed to "pretend" or "wink" that the Earth might only be 6,000 years old (or whatever the bullshit story in the Bible is) then there is no point in bringing students over there. They can go out in the backyard, fondle some rocks, and guess for themselves that those rocks are "very old."

Older, at least, than the rocks being formed in their heads by the State of Arkansas.

A couple weeks ago, I took my daughter to the local science center run by the City of Ann Arbor. It was an event all about reptiles and we went on little hike, carefully rolling over logs looking for salamanders (we found one), and then a discussion and handling some animals back in the classroom. There was a moment when our guide/instructor (likely a U-M grad student) was showing the kid's a particular snake, and refered to it's two vestigal "legs." For a brief moment, I could sense her hesitation, almost as if taking a deep breath or making a mental scan of the room, before she introduced the word "evolution."

I'm telling you, I don't believe it was my imagination. She actually paused for a moment. This is at a science center Ann Arbor, Michigan—home of a leading research University—not a one-classroom parochial school in Backwater, Arkansas. If this is any indication where the nation's educational discourse is headed, we are fucking screwed.

Later in the article it refers to the self-censorship going on at this Arkansas science center and similar local institutions:
Their program depends upon public support and continued patronage of the region’s school districts, which they felt could be threatened by any political blowback from an unwanted evolution controversy.

With regard to Bob’s geologic time scale issue, the program director likened it to a game of Russian roulette. He admitted that probably very few students would have a real problem with a discussion about time on the order of millions of years, but that it might only take one child’s parents to cause major problems. He spun a scenario of a student’s returning home with stories beginning with “Millions of years ago …” that could set a fundamentalist parent on a veritable witch hunt, first gathering support of like-minded parents and then showing up at school board meetings until the district pulled out of the science program to avoid conflict. He added that this might cause a ripple effect, other districts following suit, leading to the demise of the program.


[at] a privately run science museum for kids [...] I looked around the museum and found a few biological exhibits, but nothing dealing with evolution. I introduced myself to one of the museum’s employees as a science educator (I am indeed a science educator) and asked her if they had any exhibits on evolution. She said that they used to, but several parents — some of whom home-schooled their children, some of whom are associated with Christian schools — had been offended by the exhibit and complained. They had said either that they would not be back until it was removed or that they would not be using that part of the museum if they returned. “It was right over there,” she said, pointing to an area that was being used at that time for a kind of holiday display.

Go read the whole article, there's much more, including public school A.P. biology classes balancing evolution with creationism.

I really am starting to get worried that this mentality is spreading throughout the country. It's bad enough that it's all over Kansas or wherever, but it's working it way in everywhere. Right now the vocal minority is affecting the curriculum for the rest of the country, and people are unwilling to tell the people to shut the fuck up. The scariest part, to me, is that I'm not sure how long they will be the minority. The population shift in this country is all to the South, and the religious-types are far out-producing liberals in terms of offspring. There may very well (soon) be a time when these maniacs will be able to democratically instill these values even more easily by simply outnumbering the rest of us.

I gotta go have some more kids...

[via Carpetbagger]

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Postworthy links have been piling up around here, but I'm never going to write 'em all up, so here they are...

Radley Balko is still on the Corey maye case. This is the case death penalty opponents should be following, not Tookie Williams, etc.

Also, a great, fun link from Balko. What would a child's drawing look like if painted by a pro? Check it out.

A nice piece on Feingold and the censure situation. NY Observer

Connecticut has its (sort of) version of Dave Barry, and he's bailing on Lieberman... Colin McEnoe hearts Ned Lamont

Somebody at the IRS thought this would be a good idea. They're fucking high.

Molly Ivins' brilliant, furious screed from last week. "Enough of the D.C. Dems"

Kung-Fu Monkey on what a stand-up comic can teach the next Dem nominee... "Learn to say 'ain't'..."

I'm fresh off renting X2 last week, and still adrenalized from Wolverine's beserker rampage. Here's the X3 teaser and trailer. I just tried out the HD Quicktime version. Badass. The teaser is cooler, BTW.

McCain: the Straight Talk Express derailed? Good Kos diary

That's enough for now...

"Let me pick up where I left off... three years ago..."

Josh Marshall has the transcript of the absolute bullshit Bush spewed in answer to the first question Helen Thomas has been allowed to ask him in literally years. The invaluable Crooks and Liars has the video here.

It's been a couple years (at least) since Thomas has been called on by the President, and the stunning thing is that nothing in Bush's answer has changed in that time. These are the same exact lies he told in 2003. How the press can't start laughing at him and walk out of the room is beyond me.

After watching this, I'm never going to bitch about the fact the President never does news conferences. It is a complete waste of everybody's time, and bad for my blood pressure.

Glenn Greenwald -- MVP

Glenn Greenwald is the go-to guy for all thing NSA. He has been on this, as T.J. Hooker would say, like white on rice.

Nobody is doing a better job making hard-hitting points on this topic than Greenwald. From his stellar performance on TV to his MVP perfomance at his site and others. Greenwald has the ability to cut through the crap and make clear in no uncertain terms that: 1. President broke the law. 2. The Republicans are poised to let him get away with it, and change the law to fit the President to boot. 3. The Democrats (Russ Feingold and a select few excepted) are ready to roll over yet again.

Those are all great points, but where Greenwald has really excelled is at being able to make clear for the layman that this is not about the Democrats not wanting to eavesdrop on al qaeda, as Republicans and many in the media would have you believe, it's about the President breaking the law when he didn't have to. Everybody wants to fight terrorism, and the law as it existed provided for the President to do everything he has done, legally, and he chose to break the law anyway. Repeatedly. And has vowed to continue.

Go read today's post where Greenwald unpacks the excuses served up by the cowering pussies Democratic Senators and rips them to shreds.

Among those listed are my Senators, Levin and Stabenow. Levin is normally great, but he was the first guy "ambushed" by Feingold's Censure Resolution last week, and he set the bullshit "wait for the investigation" tone and hasn't moved since. Stabenow is already on my shit-list for supporting the Bankruptcy Bill. Twice. She is running this fall, and I won't be happy voting for her based on these two issues. In fact, I probably won't.


If Greenwald has a weakness, it's that his blog can be a tedious read. In his thoroughness, his posts can reach epic proportions, making for a lot of scrolling. Some greatest hits:

A stirring defense of indecision and inaction Total dismantling of Kevin Drum's defense of Dem weakness

Karl Rove's lips barely move when Eleanor Clift writes her columns

Greenwald's Legendary C-SPAN performance Quicktime video.

O/T: Whose judgment on the Iraq War is entitled to respect? Dean was right.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

When is Enough, Enough?

The latest Republican scam. Josh Marshall tells us about Rep. John Doolittle, another California Republican caught between a Duke and an Abramoff...
...[his wife] Julie Doolittle had a political consultancy and she worked on commission raising money for Doolittle's campaign and political action committee.

Now, let's take out the ethico-criminal magnifying glass and look closely at what that means. As the article makes clear, Julie had no fundraising experience prior to starting her consultancy. She also didn't seem to do any actual fundraising. What this meant was that every time someone gave Doolittle money, Julie and John personally got a 15% taste of the cash.

So, for instance, the Wilkes crew gave Doolittle's campaigns $118,000. And according to the Union-Tribune's investigation, the Doolittle's got at least $14,400 of that personally.

[...] Julie Doolittle's Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, launched in March 2001, right after Doolittle got his seat on the Appropriations Committee. In other words, right after he got in a position to hand out federal contracts in a big way. SDFS has no phone number, no website and no employees except for Julie Doolittle. Prior to opening the firm she seems to have had no experience doing fundraising.

But what of her other clients, you ask?

The Union-Tribune found three. What were they?

Well, one was Greenberg-Traurig, Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm. The second was Signatures, Jack Abramoff's restaurant. The third was the Korea-US Exchange Council, a front group run by erstwhile Abramoff associate Ed Buckham, Tom DeLay's former Chief of Staff and head of Alexander Strategy Group, which closed down recently so the principals can focus on their legal defenses.

So Julie Doolittle's 'fundraising consultancy' drew a cut for the Doolittles for every dollar of campaign money she claimed credit for raising. Her other clients were either Jack Abramoff or front groups related to Jack Abramoff.

This seem fishy to you?

Fishy like goddamned beached whale. Yeah, I know whales are get the point.

But here's where I go off the rails. This is not just a Republican problem. I would be shocked if there weren't countless simlar examples throughout Congress, and in both parties. Even if it is overwhlemingly republican, the Democrats are part of the same stinking, crooked system. Guilty by association. This shit has to stop. Now. This fucking system is a complete crock of shit at this point. Lock, stock and fishy fucking barrel.

Somebody needs to step the fuck up and run on this stuff, and it sure as hell ain't gonna be a Republican. Is there a Democrat clean enough to take the lead? Can he/she get the rest of the Party in line? Might it mean taking your wife and kids off some bogus payroll? I don't fucking care. We need publicly-financed elections and we need them yesterday. If the Democrats can't pick up the ball on this stuff and start making it an issue we are all screwed. anybody in the Party who isn't willing to give up their personal stake in this rotten system is no better than a Republican as far as I am concerned, and they can get the fuck out. I don't care if it costs us 2006 and 2008.

There will never be a good time to handicap your own side to do things right, but it has to happen. This is a long-term winning issue. And this is a perfect example. Everybody likes to think their Representative isn't the problem, and that they bring home the bacon for the district/state. But nobody likes to hear that their Representative is skimming, stealing or crooked.

The good news is for this cycle, it's too late to actually change the system, so self-inflicted wounds will be minimized, but we need to start talking the talk, and walking it. come up with an aggressive, even if unrealistic (for now) reform plan, and make Democrats synonymous with REAL reform, not his twelve-step Reid crap, and stick the Republicans with the tarbaby of corruption. And God forbid we actually win, actually implement the reform!

There is a clear distinction between parties just waiting to be drawn.

Friday, March 17, 2006

FRT: From the W.O.P.R.

"Shall. We. Play. A. Game?"

Again, up late doing some freelance work on the big G5. Which is good because the iPod is getting so stale I think I hit skip at least 7 or 8 times on the way home today. Roll 'em...

1. Joe Walsh "The Confessor" -- My wife got me an iTunes card for Valentine's Day. This is one of the many single songs from back in the day that I've been filling in with. Stuff I have on vinyl, that I'll never buy on CD... I love this freaking song. Minus one for the overly electronic drums... 8/10

2. Rhino Bucket "One Night Stand" -- They wish they were AC/DC. I mean, they are practically a cover band. First heard on the radio in Maryland or so on the way back from Spring Break in college. 6/10

3. Chicago "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" -- Solid. Too bad most people think of the MTV era crap when you mention Chicago. 8/10

4. dada "How To Be Found" -- Off the last album. Much as I enjoy the band coming back from "retirement" and they are as good live as ever, but this album and this song in particular is super-weak. 3/10

5. Metallica "The Shortest Straw" -- Run of the Mill-ica. 5/10

6. Tears For Fears "I Choose You" A jarring transition to say the least. Off the strong "Raoul" album which was a good follow to the excellent "Elemental." Both waaay better than the "Sowing the Seeds"-era pablum. 5/10

7. Liz Phair "Supernova" -- S'Okay. I really thought this album was a lull between "Guyville" and "SpaceEgg" 6/10

8. Jonny Lang "When I Come To You" I don't know why I have this. I think my dad of all people might have bouht it for me... It's pretty good blues, but doesn't seem quite authentic. 6/10

9. Jethro Tull "Hymn 43" Lot's of '70s stuff today. 6/10

10. Genesis "Mad Man Moon" -- More '70s. One of those big 8-minute epics from the post-Gabriel era. 7/10

6.0 Ouch. It didn't taste that bad going down. I think I am grading a little tougher these days.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Glenn Greenwald just absolutely dismantles Kevin Drum on the Feingold Censure Resolution.

Go read it. It takes apart every possible argument against censuring Bush. I've been too busy to give this the post it deserves, but I couldn't agree with Greenwald more, and I am absolutely disgusted by the craven behavior of the Democratic Senators.

March Sadness

It's official. I am not doing ANY pools, brackets or anything else affiliated with the NCAA Tournament. I just have waaay too much going on, and I have absolutely no clue about college basketball this year. None. Haven't watched a minute of it all year.

It's a shocking fall for someone who used to take the Tournament days off from work, would travel to nearby Regionals, never missed a Big East Tournament at the Garden, and even participated in both regular season and Tournament fantasy leagues, etc.

I suppose I'll bust out the Gonzaga baseball jersey this weekend and wear it as some kind of tribute to the Zags... and my former self...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Josh Marshall has the latest on the top Bush advisor, Claude Allen, who was charged with shoplifting. They are floating a hilarious/ridiculous defense of Allen: It wasn't him, it was his twin brother...the evil one:
As you know, we've been following the bizarre case of Claude Allen, former top advisor to President Bush who was arrested a few days ago and booked and charges stemming from a lengthy shoplifting spree.

Now, here late this evening I got an email from TPM Reader WH who directed my attention to today's All Things Considered on NPR in which Michele Norris interviews Michael Fletcher, a reporter with the Post who's been covering the story.

Now, right at about 1:40 into the interview comes this exchange ...

Norris: We should note something, Michael. Apparently Claude Allen has a twin brother?

Fletcher: Yes, he does. He has an identical twin brother who even close friends can’t tell them apart when they see them. And people have seen him and close friends say that Mr. Allen has indicated to them that maybe his brother holds the key to this entire puzzling affair.

Now, I take it I'm not reading too much into this to think that the idea here is that this is a case of mistaken identity in which the virtuous Claude Allen has been nailed for the crimes of his evil twin Floyd.

I have to tell you this new story seems so insane and ridiculous that I half suspect it's actually true. And, no, I'm not entirely kidding. Who could come up with such a story?

Look at Floyd. He's totally shifty—he won't even look at the camera!

Seriously, Marshall's right. It IS so ridiculous it's almost believable. Apparently the brother was bankrupt, had some problems and there seemed to be no reason for Claude Allen to be involved in this. Of course this behavior often has nothing to do with need or logic (see Ryder, Winona).

As much as I'd love to see a Bushie go down and drag the White a bit further over the cliff, I'm going to put my money on this wacky "twin" story turning out to be true.

If it is, and it works look for Allen, watch for "it wasn't me who ordered the invasion with too few troops. It was my estranged brother Ronald Rumsfeld. Even Paul Wolfowitz couldn't tell us apart...."

Don't they know, the Evil Twin would have been betrayed by his goatee?

Oh, and in the course of searching for the Spock photo I discovered there's a band called Spock's Beard. That is a kick-ass name.

UPDATE: The Doppelganger Defense takes a big hit. Seeing how Claude Allen admitted to investigators that he had made the returns, but there was a misunderstanding. Unless it was really Floyd who made the admission...[/menacing music]

I'd still be willing to believe that the videotape evidence is in doubt if the culprit looks exactly like you, but not after Allen's admission of making some of the returns, and the resulting investigation.

Unless Claude Allen wants to maintain that Floyd had him locked in the basement and posed as HIM for the last year. Hmmm. Perhaps the President can get in on that defense as well. His "trusted domestic policy advisor" was really an evil imposter! That's why my domestic policy is total shit!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Congressional Oversightlook

I don't have the time to go into this the way I want to, and, frankly, I'm so pissed about this I don't think I could string together a coherent post.

For now, Otto Man lays it out better than anything I've read so far:

This isn't oversight. This is overlook.

They're overlooking the fact that the president broke the law, admitted he broke the law, and promised to break the law again. In response, without holding meaningful hearings, conducting their own investigations, or doing anything else contained in their job descriptions, they're simply going to rewrite the rules so that Bush can keep on doing what he's doing. They'll overlook what he's done in the past, and with this new toothless law, they'll be able to overlook what he does in the future.


What we're seeing here is the Harry Whittington Principle. The president shot the law in the face, and the Republicans in Congress are making sure that the law apologizes to the president for getting in his way.


I'm going to need to find room on the still-yet-to-come Ten Greatest Inventions post I keep putting off for this.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Dog Bites Man, Barry Shoots Up (and injests, rubs...)

No big surprise here, except for the scope and depth of the article.
Bonds exposed
Shadows details superstar slugger's steroid use

NEW YORK ( -- Beginning in 1998 with injections in his buttocks of Winstrol, a powerful steroid, Barry Bonds took a wide array of performance-enhancing drugs over at least five seasons in a massive doping regimen that grew more sophisticated as the years went on, according to Game of Shadows, a book written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters at the forefront of reporting on the BALCO steroid distribution scandal.

[...] The authors, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, describe in sometimes day-to-day, drug-by-drug detail how often and how deeply Bonds engaged in the persistent doping. For instance, the authors write that by 2001, when Bonds broke Mark McGwire's single-season home-run record (70) by belting 73, Bonds was using two designer steroids referred to as the Cream and the Clear, as well as insulin, human growth hormone, testosterone decanoate (a fast-acting steroid known as Mexican beans) and trenbolone, a steroid created to improve the muscle quality of cattle.

[...] The preponderance of evidence is by far the most detailed and damning condemnation that Bonds, formerly a sleek five-tool player, built himself into a hulking, record-setting home run hitter at an advanced baseball age with a cornucopia of elaborate, illegally-administered chemicals. Through 1998, for instance, when he turned 34, Bonds averaged one home run every 16.1 at bats. Since then -- what the authors identify as the start of his doping regimen -- Bonds has hit home runs nearly twice as frequently (one every 8.5 at bats).

The authors describe how Bonds turned to steroids after the 1998 season because he was jealous of McGwire. Bonds hit 37 home runs in '98 -- a nice total and the fourth most of his career at that point -- but he was ignored by fans and the media who were captivated by McGwire's 70 home runs and his duel for the record with Sammy Sosa, who hit 66 that year.

Bonds is going to wish he retired. The treatment he receives at ball parks this year will be merciless. I cannnot imagine that even his hometown fans will restrain themselves after reading this. Good. Bonds is a complete dick, seemingly without any redeeming qualities. Others who have been caught (Giambi) have issued mea culpas, asked for understanding, or at least been stand-up or nice guys in other ways. Not Bonds. He has been a prick his whole career and taken it to new levels since this BALCO thing broke.

Frankly, after reading the article, he's lucky not to going to jail.

This is worse for Bonds than a confession, because he has been so dismissive and recalcitrant in his statements and attitude over the last few seasons, that this is not only an exposé on his doping and cheating, it just cements him as a the asshole and liar we all suspected as well.

At this point, I'm not even sure if there's a point in him chasing Aaron's record. There will (should) be more than an asterisk next to his numbers.

The best part? He's got it all coming to him...

[via Deadspin]

Real-life Simpsons

I'll often glance at the sky and when the clouds look just right, hum/sing (to myself), "The Simpsons..."

Somebody went all the way.

[h/t LLatPoN]

Monday, March 06, 2006


Otto Man tagged me with the latest retarded chain letter/quiz thing. I already saw this at Pooh's, so I have my answers pretty much ready, with a few updates...

Going with honesty/first thing that pops into my head over concerted effort at humor. Here goes...

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18 and find line 4
Damn. If you put this up yesterday, I would have grabbed Jonathan Letham's "Fortress of Solitude" it's been on my desk waiting to go back to the library for a week*... Now I have to go with "The Graphic Artist's Guild: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines"—"...derivative work, though not the making of new..." Yum, copyright legalese.

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can, what do you find?
To my left is the open room, the next closest thing is the treadmill. And, no, I did NOT do 30 minutes today or any time in the last two months...

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
Tivo'd "Colbert Report"

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.

5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?
12:18. My daughter went to bed early and it's been screwing me up all night...

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
Blues-drenched vocals, stalwart drumming, personable, good-looking bass and legendary guitar. A.K.A: The Firm's "Midnight Moonlight"

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
Walking the dog about two four hours ago.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
Otto's Place

9. What are you wearing?
Jeans and a hooded (hood down) CLEMSON sweatshirt.

10. Did you dream last night?
I'm not really remembering my dreams these days, but last night it was probably about painting the bathroom, since it's all I did for two days...

11. When did you last laugh?
Tickling my daughter makes me laugh almost as hard. About 8:00 p.m.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
A poster of a giant Carl Yastrzemski baseball card, pictures of my daughter, a big framed photo of the Brooklyn Bridge.

13. Seen anything weird lately?
Weird, eh? Nothing comes to mind. Does that count as weird?

14. What do you think of this quiz?
I kind of like these usually, but I'm beginning to wonder how long this one is...

15. What is the last film you saw?
Rented "X2" and "L4yer Cake" this weekend (wife was away). Last in the theater—"Family Stone"

16. If you turned into a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
A Senate Seat?

A new car, because I really need one. Lots of music. A really sweet softball bat. This for my daughter, and anything my wife wants from here.

And some Red Sox tickets. I'd follow them on a road trip or two around the country for a season...

17. Tell me something about you that I don’t know.
My laughter often comes in the form of a ridiculously loud outburst...

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt and politics, what would you do?
Um, eliminate religion?

19. Do you like to Dance?
Nope. But that's because I can't and I am REALLY self-conscious about it. I'm pretty sure even my recent multi-millions won't cure it either.

20. George Bush.
His elimination was the first answer for 18, but I decided to be more far-reaching.

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
No imagination necessary. Her name is Ruby. That was my wife's long time dream name for a girl. I was skeptical at first, but I love it. She wants Mabel if there's another. I don't cotton to that all. I don't know what I'll call her, but Ruby has declared that we name a girl Mabel, she'll call her "Marble."

22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what would you call him?
Starting left-fielder for the Boston Red Sox...

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?
Yeah...but i fear my brain is too addled to learn a new language.

24. What would you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
"So, you didn't believe in me, eh? Well, that's fine by me—most of the people who do are annoying anyway, if you ask me. Come on in..."

25. 4 people who must also do this theme in their journal.
Already bookended by the people I would forward to...

* [sheepish confession] I returned the book unread.

Once More Into the Breach

Mark Kleiman sums up just about perfectly how I feel about the whole Katrina fiasco, the "gotcha" videotape and the resultant pile-on.

I think it is somewhat accurate to say that the video conference isn't enough to technically convict Bush, simply because of the semantics between levees "topped" versus "breached." Naturally the Bush apologists are doing their darndest to draw that point out. the problem is, it doesn't exactly exonerate Bush either...

At first blush, a fair point. Bush was warned that the levees might be topped, not that they might be breached, so he wasn't wrong to say later that no one anticipated that they'd be breached. Is it plausible that the press, in search of a good story or a "gotcha," would elide the difference? Sure.


But there's just one thing. Bush's job title isn't "Chief Weather Forecaster." He's supposed to be the Chief Executive. His job wasn't to guess what might happen, but to make sure that the country was ready to deal with whatever did happen. The fact, if it is a fact, that no one assigned a levee breach a probability of over 50% doesn't in any way absolve Bush and the people working for him from the responsibility for not having plans in place to deal with it if it came to pass.

The President failed miserably, and his "I don't think anyone anticipated" line was a miserable and dishonest cop-out.

Imagine just as an exercise that we'd had an actual CEO running the country instead of an overgrown frat boy. He's at a briefing, with Michael Brown present, at which Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center says that it's likely that the levees in New Orleans will be "topped" by Katrina. Here's a part of the dialogue that might follow:

The President: "Topped"? What's that?

Mayfield: Water comes over the top of the levees.

The President: Does that mean that the whole city floods?

Mayfield: Not necessarily, sir. Not unless the levees are actually breached. The worst case is that the levees are so weakened by the water washing over them that they give way completely.

The President: How likely is that?

Mayfield: We're not sure. Maybe the Corps of Engineers has some estimates, but we haven't seen them.

The President: Of course you aren't sure. But give me a range. Is it less than 5%? Would you give me 20-to-1 against it?

Mayfield: No, sir.

The President: Right. Then we'd better be ready for it if it happens. (Turns to Brown.) Are we? How much of the city would be underwater if that happened? How many people would we have to evacuate? Do we have enough capacity to handle an evacuation that size? How fast can we acquire that capacity? Where do they stay while they're waiting to be evacuated? Is there enough food and water in place? Where do we put the evacuees once we get them out? Who has the contingency plan, and who has the authority to order it into operation? How much warning would we have? What sort of monitoring is in place?

Brown: (Mumbles incoherently as the President piles on the questions.)

The President: Oh, for Chrissakes! You mean we're don't even have a plan for the worst case? You're just sitting there and hoping it doesn't happen? You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie! Now you've got six hours to get me answers to those questions, or I'm sending you back to measuring horse-cocks or whatever the hell it was you used to do. Capisce?

At that point, of course, our hypothetical President gets and stays on top of the situation until he's sure that there's either a plan in place or someone in charge with the authority to improvise one. And he keeps asking people, as the storm news comes in, whether the levees are holding.

The actual President, of course, stayed on vacation and accepted vague assurances that everything was being handled properly until he saw otherwise on television. And then he tried to alibi by saying that no one "anticipated" a levee breach. And now his spear-carriers are quibbling about the difference between Bush's having been warned about levee- breaching during the meeting in the video or before the meeting in the video. Feh.

It boils down to this—either Bush is in charge and actively taking a role in keeping the country safe, from natural disasters or terrorism—or he sits idly by at the head of the table and worries only about covering his ass when things go badly. I know which theory I subscribe to, I just find it interesting that his "supporters" are happy to trumpet the same thing...

Also: Josh Marshall isn't willing to buy the rehabilitation of Michael Brown.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Where Can I Buy a 49-Star Flag?

State bill proposes Christianity be Missouri’s official religion
12:28 AM CST on Friday, March 3, 2006 -- By John Mills, News 4
Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state's official "majority" religion.

House Concurrent Resolution 13 is pending in the state legislature.

[...] The resolution would recognize "a Christian god," and it would not protect minority religions, but "protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs.

The resolution also recognizes that, "a greater power exists," and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, "justified recognition."

State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored the resolution, but he has refused to talk about it on camera or over the phone.

KMOV also contacted Gov. Matt Blunt's office to see where he stands on the resolution, but he has yet to respond.

Rep. Sater needs to move his ass down to Tom Monaghan's "Get the Door, It's Domino's—to Inspect your medicine cabinet" Catholic Circus Town™.

I don't even know where to begin. Say "hello" to the American Taliban, I guess. Please tell me this cannot possibly go anywhere and it will blow up in their faces...right? Please?

FRT: From the Mother Ship

Up late doing some freelance work on the big G5. Which is good because the iPod FRTs are really getting stale. Here we go...

1. The Presidents of the United States "Peaches" -- "Peaches come in a can!..." Boy, I used to buy a lot of music back in the day... This song is as dumb as it gets, but undeniably catchy. 5/10

2. dada "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" -- I think we all know how I feel about this band. 7/10

3. Ralph's World "18 Wheels on the Big Rig" -- A kid's counting song that kicks some serious ass. Especially the Roman numerals "solo." Graded on a curve: 8/10

4. Nirvana "Serve the Servants" -- Never cared much for this one. 3/10

5. Prince "Diamonds and Pearls" -- I'd prefer "Kiss" 3/10

6. L.P. "Wasted" Solo female artist, she sung backup for Cracker. Great pipes. Album was a big disappointment, this track's okay. 5/10

7. Peter Gabriel "Lay Your Hands On Me" -- Later covered by Bon Jovi... From the first album with a title—Security. Great headphone song once the percussion really gets rolling. Though I loved "So" when it came out, this was really the last good Gabriel. 8/10

8. Chris Whitley "Dirt Floor" In the ten minutes of the Grammys I watched, I caught the "tribute" section honoring everybody who died this year. Whitley's was the last face they showed. I had no idea. Apparently, he died of lung cancer at just 45. (Considering that he probably smoked 780 cigarettes in the half-dozen shows I saw, not a huge surprise.)

A true blues/country talent with a unique, haunting voice and a great steel and slide guitar, he will be missed. His "Living With the Law" is easily one of the best ten albums I've ever heard (here's a sample).

This song chosen at random by my CPU doesn't warrant it, but I'm awarding a Too-Short-Lifetime Achievement Award: 10/10

9. Monster Magnet "Negasonic Teenage Warhead" You got your Soundgarden in my White Zombie... 6/10

10. Minor Threat "Cashing In" -- Ian MacKaye's pre-Fugazi punk band. Listening to this stuff on a computer just feels wrong. Where's my turntable? 8/10

6.3 average. Fairly poor. With waaay more stuff available on my computer than my iPod, the list was all over the place. And it wasn't even the kid's music dragging me down, it was two musical icons—Cobain and Prince.

More on Chris Whitley: Go check out his website here for some music downloads and more videos. Also, there are two Tribute Concerts this weekend in Austin and Houston featuring Shawn Colvin, Charlie Sexton, Eric Johnson, Vernon Reid and others.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Best Line of the Day

"You just can't make this shit up because they have a monopoly on making shit up."

-Liz at BlondeSense on the Bush White House

"Republican pols, Ted... Best investment in America."

Every once in a while I am just astonished how cheap politicians come…$50K donation nets a $240 million contract… [link]

Running Riding for Higher Office?

I'm not sure what the hell this is all about, but it is clearly based on some attempt to "market" Condoleezza Rice. I've long thought that Rice would step in for Cheney at some point and run in 2008 as the republican nominee, and this kind of thing plays perfectly into that theory...

Rice shows off her fitness regime
Thursday, March 2, 2006; Posted: 10:28 a.m. EST (15:28 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Condoleezza Rice, the nation's top diplomat, is appearing in a three-part TV interview in which she rides a bike, works on her abs, pumps iron and talks about her weight.

Public figures usually do not go public when they work on their figures, though when they do, it can help humanize their images. President George W. Bush is sometimes photographed trying to stay fit on his bike, and President Clinton took some high-profile jogs.

But secretaries of state, a job most people associate with the stiff, inscrutable language of diplomacy? Three days on TV in the gym?

Hard to picture her predecessors Colin Powell or Madeleine Albright doing the same. How about Warren Christopher? Alexander Haig? Not likely.

Speculation about Cheney's tenure at number two have ramped way up since he Shot. A. Man. In. The. Face. But I'm increasingly a believer in Cheney only leaving office feet first or in shackles (oh, to dream). And in that event, they will go outside the Administration for a guy like George Allen, which would then slot Rice in for Veep in '08.

This is probably the republicans best-case scenario, since they really don't want McCain to be the nominee. By doing this, they can short-circuit McCain's chances by pre-ordaining a nominee from the VP office. Then they can trot out Rice to try and broaden their appeal, but her at VP won't drive away the base as fervently as running her in the top slot.

All of that said, I hope Americans have had their fill of leaders intent on working out, and actually elect someone who will actually work.

[h/t Kos diarist]

Mess With Texas

Pitchers and catchers (and Justices) report... It's not quite as good as baseball season, but the start of a new Supreme Court session means blog-fodder and usually makes for some good Dahlia Lithwick columns.
...While the courts have interceded in cases of racial gerrymandering, the Supreme Court has never been able to clarify (despite loads of mulling) what role it might play in cases of purely political, partisan gerrymandering. The legal problem is, in effect, that partisan politics is fine, until it isn't. But no one knows where that line is, or what to do when it's breached.

Alas, we all know that the Texas redistricting/gerrymander plan was total bullshit, dirty and against established rules limiting redistricting to census results...but that doesn't mean it was unconstitutional. The way Lithwick lays it out, this plan would likely have survived the old Court intact, and I think the challenges have virtually no chance for success now.

History seems to indicate that the only way the Courts will step in a overrule this stuff is based on race and civil rights violations. When the plaintiff argues that the plan was implemented for "only one reason...that was to maximize the number of Republicans," John Roberts is right to ask, "then where's the discrimination based on race?"

The plaintiff warns that if the Texas gerrymander is approved, the country will be launched down a "dangerous road," wherein there's a "partisan festival" of gerrymanders, tit-for-tat around the country. That's true, and it's very bad, but I'll be shocked if the Court decides to stop it.

Much like Kelo v. New London, the Court will come down on the wrong side. Wrong in the sense that it's not what I want, it isn't right or just, but unfortunately, they will ultimately be ruling correctly in the legal sense. In Kelo the Supremes upheld an absolutely shitty law, and screwed over a lot of people and set bad precedent, but it was the right decision—New London followed the law—and now states all over the country are scrambling to overhaul similar shitty laws. Short-term result: bad for the plaintiff. Long-term for everyone else: good.

I'm not so sanguine about a positive net result form this case, however. This case will just further poison an already toxic partisan political atmosphere and will more likely escalate the problem than remedy it.