Thursday, July 27, 2006

Heckuva Job, Brownie

From the "Credit, where credit is due" department, Michael Brown gets off some good shots in his Playboy interview. The best one...
On his much-mocked prior job with the International Arabian Horse Association: “Dealing with horses’ asses taught me how to deal with the federal government.”

[h/t Tom Tomorrow]

Boy, was I stupid...

Here's what I wrote in March 2005:
[link] ...Everyone is willing to accept the jacked up prices because they think it has something to do with the War in Iraq and that sooner or later it will get back to normal. Guess again. The prices have nothing to do with Iraq, and they are never coming down again. Once this country is conditioned to $2 gas, there is no reason the oil companies are going to bring it back down again. Maybe the $1.90s, just as a dupe, because it'll seem cheap compared to the $2.30 we'll be paying by May.

We're loonnng past that now. This country has now gotten conditioned to $3 a gallon. In fact in my trip back East last week, I twice payed over $3.25. (NY, CT, MA and my native MI being the worst, OH and PA were both still under $3)

When President Bush took office, I think gas was about a buck and a quarter. It has now more than doubled—in fact, I'd be happy to pay double—and in some places I am sure they've tripled that number.

Do you think a White house full of oil thugs and this (below) is mere coincidence?
Exxon Mobil earns $10.4 billion in 2Q
By STEVE QUINN, AP Business Writer 30 minutes ago
DALLAS - Exxon Mobil Corp. said Thursday it earned $10.36 billion in the April-June period, the second largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company.

The earnings figure was 36 percent above the profit it reported a year ago. High oil prices and the growing global appetite for fuel helped boost the company's revenue by 12 percent to a level just short of a quarterly record. Its shares briefly rose to a new high.

Oh, and what is the quarterly profit record? $10.7 billion. Held by Exxon Mobil from last year's 4th quarter.

While researching the price of gas from years past, I found this gem. Tom Delay moaning about gas prices going (gasp) over a dollar...
"REP. TOM DeLAY, Majority Whip: This administration has done nothing to eliminate the problem. In fact, the Clinton and Gore policies are hurling us all back to the Jimmy Carter days, when this great nation was at the mercy of OPEC and their extortion scheme. "

Those were the days, Tommy. Now we're at the mercy of somebody else's extortion scheme and it makes that look like a damn joke.

The Israel/Lebanon Headache

A couple quick things on the conflict...

Condoleeza Rice's trip to the Middle East—"Mission Accomplished"
Ceasefire delay Israel's green light
...Israeli officials said they regarded the failure of an international conference to reach agreement on a cease-fire plan as clearing the way for further assaults on Hezbollah.

Justice Minister Haim Ramon told Israeli radio, “We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the world, to continue this operation, this war, until Hezbollah won’t be located in Lebanon and until it is disarmed.’’

Mr. Ramon also raised the possibility of an expanded air assault, saying “all those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah.’’

Permission from the world? Or do you mean every country in the MidEast and Europe supporting an immediate ceasefire, and the U.S. and Israel working alone to scuttle that?

If it were actually true that there are no innocent people caught in the crossfire in Southern Lebanon (as Israel claims), I'd say, "Fine. Finish this shit once and for all." But the fact that U.N. observers and children continue to be killed belies Israel's claims.

Excellent work, Madame Secretary. Witness the power of this fully armed and operational battle station. You may fire at will, Israel...


Estimated death tolls:

At least 423 people have been killed in Lebanon - including 376 civilians reported by the Health Ministry and security officials.

Israel: "The deaths of the soldiers yesterday brought to 51 the number of Israelis killed in the campaign, according to the military." Keep in mind, the 51 Israelis killed includes 33 soldiers, five of whom were killed by friendly fire. It should also be pointed out that many of the soldiers have died in Lebanon.

It was not easy to find a breakdown of the Israeli casualties, and many sources are just lumping everyone together saying things like "the conflict, which has killed over 470 since it started..."

It should be made clear that despite the "hundreds of rockets launched into Israel by Hezbollah," less than 20 Israeli civilans have been killed. Lebanese civilans are being killed at twenty times that rate, by an organized military.


The Baseball Crank is unabashedly on Israel's side, but he raises some good points here about the rules of engagement changing...

I also agree with him on much of this. Democrats "boycotting" the Iraqi Prime Minister's speech before Congress for "failing to denounce Hezbollah" was stupid. They should have boycotted it because the speech was likely written by the Bush Administration.


John Cole took Kofi Annan to task for claiming Israel deliberately bombed the U.N. outpost, and he unleashed a torrent of contrary comments. Some good stuff in there. It has since devolved into a "Darrel" thread...

Monday, July 24, 2006

10 Worst Americans

Steve Gilliard threw together his list of "Ten Worst Americans" in response to a Rightie list that included Bill Clinton. Here's his list:

1) Benedict Arnold

2) Father Coughlin

3) Jefferson Davis

4) Nathan Bedford Forrest

5) George Wallace

6) Jesse Helms

7) Dick Cheney

8) Richard Nixon

9) Joseph McCarthy

10) DC "Steve" Stephenson

I'll confess I had to look up numbers 2, 4 and 10 on wikipedia. Bad guys to be sure. Coughlin was sort of the original televangelist—except the anti-Semitic supervillian version. Forrest is a Confederate general who started the KKK. And Stephenson was a brutal Klansmen from the 20s. All evil dudes to be sure, but the fact that I'd never heard of them, means I gotta pull 'em from my list.

I'd have to have George W. Bush on my list.

And I'd like to see Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth and James Earl Ray in as a special 3 for the price of 1.

I'll go with Col. John Chivington as number 10. The Calvary commander responsible for the Sand Creek Massacre. I can't say he was the worst particular guy regarding the mistreatment of Native Americans, but he gets to represent 'em on my list.

Narrowly cut? Fred Phelps, Karl Rove, Richard Mellon Scaife, Timothy McViegh.

Baseball Update

From Rotoworld:
Damian Jackson - OF - Nationals
Damian Jackson (esophageal spasms) will be activated from the disabled list prior to Tuesday's game.

Esophageal spasms. Choking?

Jackson's a wuss, A-Rod's been playing with that for years... [/rimshot]

Kakistocracy Update

1. Bush has thusfar been unable to legislatively repeal the Estate Tax, his solution? Kneecap the IRS so they can't collect it.

2. The Bush Justice Department has already made a habit of having political appointees overrule the DOJ civil rights division. Now they are just driving them all out of the Department ahead of time and replacing them with unfit hacks whose only experience is working for such noted civil rights advocates as Trent Lott and Charles Pickering. [link]

[h/t Carpetbagger on both]

Yeah, What Good Would a Cease-Fire Do?

Two brothers from the Shaito family waited Sunday at a hospital in Tyre, Lebanon. Three of their relatives died while fleeing north when their van was struck by an Israeli missile.

Fleeing Family Ends Up in Path of Israeli Missile

SIDIQEEN, Lebanon, July 23 — Muntaha Shaito’s eyes rolled back as the paramedics screamed at her to stay awake and implored her son Ali to keep her engaged, as she teetered near death from shrapnel wounds inflicted by an Israeli rocket.

“Pray to God!,” one paramedic shouted at her as she writhed in Ali’s arms.

“Don’t go to sleep Mama, look at me!,” Ali shouted, tears streaking his bloodied face. “Don’t die, please don’t die!”

It was the scene that members of the extended Shaito family said they had feared most, the real reason they had held out for days in their village of Tireh in southern Lebanon, terrified of the Israeli bombardment, but more terrified of what might happen if they risked leaving. On Sunday they gave up their stand, and all 18 members crammed into the family’s white Mazda minivan. They planned to head north toward the relative safety of Beirut.

[...] An Israeli rocket, which Lebanese officials said was likely fired from a helicopter, slammed into the center of the Shaitos’ van as it sped round a bend a few miles west of their village, and the van crashed into a hillside. Three occupants were killed: an uncle, Mohammad; the grandmother, Nazira; and a Syrian man who had guarded their home. The missile also critically wounded Mrs. Shaito and her sister. Eleven others suffered less severe wounds.

“They said leave, and that’s what we did,” said Musbah Shaito, another uncle, as his niece, Heba, 16, cried hysterically behind him for her dead father, whose head was nearly blown off. This reporter watched as paramedics struggled to remove the dead from the van, but soon gave up, as an Israeli drone hovered overhead.

“This is what we got for listening to them,” Mr. Shaito said, speaking of the Israelis.

The Shaitos came from a farming village about five miles from the Israeli border in a region known for tobacco, citrus and olive crops. They had waved a white flag from the van, signifiying to Israeli aircraft that they were non-threatening, Mr. Shaito told reporters later.

The Israeli military said in a statement that its aircraft operations over southern Lebanon on Sunday had targeted “approximately 20 vehicles” suspected of “serving the terror organization in the launching of missiles at Israel, and were recognized fleeing from or staying at missile-launching areas.” The military did not comment on specific bombings, but cited the area south of Tyre, where the Shaitos were driving, as “an area used continuously by Hezbollah to fire missiles.”

[...] Israeli forces have sought to clear the area of all residents, in what seemed to be an attempt to separate the civilians from Hezbollah fighters hidden in the hills and villages. Just days earlier leaflets dropped by Israeli planes warned residents to leave the area and head north of the Litani River, effectively making the area a free-fire zone.

Bolton, Rice and Bush refuse to push for a cease-fire, claiming they want to reach a solution that will hold. In the meantime they are clearing hurdles to ship Israel more U.S.-made rockets A.S.A.P.

Any wonder why we are despised over there and seen as part of a Zionist hegemony? There'd be something wrong with those two boys in the picture if they didn't spend the rest of their lives hating Israel and the United States.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


I want to thank Greg at The Talent Show for adding me to his blogroll and calling this site out over at his place. The Talent Show has long been one of my favorite sites. Back in the early days (of blogging) Greg pounded out some of the best church/state stuff I've ever read. His excellent work continues today, and Greg splits his time over at Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World as well.

I should also thank Steve Benen of Carpetbagger Report fame who, acting as co-editor at salon's Daou Report, has twice linked back here and brought some much appreciated traffic.

I want to encourage people to leave comments here (and everywhere they visit) as it is often the only way to know people are actually reading things. Sure there's a counter down there, but I feel like half of those hits are myself. For readers to toss in even the occasional "Damn straight!" is what encourages me to keep going...

Friday, July 21, 2006

While I Was Driving...

I just got back from a three-day trip from Michigan to several job interviews back East. Lots of stuff happening while I was gone, some I was aware of and couldn't wait to get back and blog about, and some stuff I am just finding out this morning. I'm gonna throw a few thoughts down here and expand on some of them later.

1. I drove my mother-in-law's Honda Civic Hybrid. While I probably averaged a slightly disappointing 42 m.p.g., it was fascinating to watch the dashboard readout of the car's mileage, and try to drive accordingly. I know my speed hindered the mileage somewhat (75+ mph most of the time), but I think if every car had a similar "sliding" mpg meter plus the cumulative average fuel economy, people would drive differently and it would save the country gas. I found myself constantly trying to coax better mileage out of the car, and if I didn't have to cover 1,500 miles over 60 hours it would change the way I drive.

If I get a job where I have a car commute of any significance I will seriously consider a hybrid.

2. The interviews. For those of you that care, the interviews went well. I feel pretty good about my chances. We'll see what happens. Three weeks ago I thought I was moving to Birmingham, Alabama and that didn't pan out, so I'm not going to ge over-excited about anything...

3. Israel. I touched on this briefly before I left, and not much has changed about the situation or my opinion. I do find the Administration's position of stalling to allow Israel to get medieval on Lebanon, and their rhetoric to be disturbing. Bolton and other's complete dismissal of any sort of cease-fire as ridiculous strikes me as completely insensitive to the civilians being killed by the hundreds (a very one-sided toll, btw), and serves only to weaken our standing in the Middle East. They have handled this thing terribly. Bush swearing about it is the least of the problems, yet for days, that's all that was discussed.

4. Ned Lamont I stayed with my parents in Connecticut and worked my dad hard on voting for Lamont in the primary. He is skeptical. Partly because he has bought some of the Joementum bullshit, partly because he doesn't want to lose Lieberman's seniority, and as a union guy, my dad has some(legitimate) problems with Lamont's record as a city councilman. He does admit that he is disenchanted with Lieberman, but isn't ready to toss him yet. I wil keep after him...

6. Heard on the radio:

An excruciating story on NPR about U.S. soldiers burned in Iraq, and their attempts to recover. A must-listen. Be warned. I was so incensed after hearing what these guys are suffering, I wanted to turn south and ram my car into the Oval Office.

NY sports fans are the stupidest fans in the world. Five years without lisening to The FAN has caused me to forget this. Actual, serious, questions heard on the radio last night: "What about Andy Pettitte? The Mets could get Pettitte from the Astros without giving up too much, they're four games out in the wild-card and I'm sure they want to get rid of that big contract..." and this one, "Let's say the Mets make it to the World Series, do you think they have a chance to win? I mean, against the White Sox or Red Sox?"

Ugh. On the plus side, The FAN streams online now, and I enjoy me some Mike and the Mad Dog. At least I think I remember it that way. I'll get back to you on that one... [Warning: The WFAN homepage has a picture of Imus.]

Savage Nation [shudder] While trolling the dial in Ohio or Western PA, I listened to about ten minutes of the unhinged rantings of Michael Savage. Sweet Jesus. This guy makes Ann Coulter sound like Ann Landers. Just railing against the "lesbians, homosexuals, and liberals" who are all in league with the "Hezzbolites" in this country a present a clear and present danger to THIS country. His big meme for the night was repeated calls that, "Hatred and anger are the only things that can save this country! And I stand by those words!" It was hard not to picture a burning cross in the studio behind him. Frightening that this maniac has a radio show and an audience.

More to come on Georgie's first veto. Isn't he cute?...

Monday, July 17, 2006


I don't have time to put together my thoughts on the whole Israel/Hezbollah thing, except to say I think it it will help Joe Lieberman win his primary, and I fear it will ratchet up the fear factor and carry the Republicans again this fall. At least that's what I was thinking in the car today.

Here are some good posts from the other day on the situation over there that match up well with how I feel.
Kevin Drum the other day.
Kevin Drum quoth Sebastian Mallaby.

Friday, July 14, 2006

D.O.W.: Specter Escapes Again

I don't know how long Arlen Specter can keep dodging the Dick of the Week bullet. Pretty soon he might run out of things to surrender in the Constitution before he gets his moment in the DOW sun.

How is it that complete and total capitulation and making two branches of government subservient to the Executive can't push ol' Arlen over the top? Because his act is tired. We all saw it coming a mile away. We knew despite all the talk and posturing, he would go behind closed doors and bend over for his Cheney/Bush double-team. Same Constitutional Sellout, Different Day.

It takes something special to nab the Dick of the Week. For this, we head down to Texas to the funeral of one Kenneth Lay. You already know what I think about Mr. Lay, so what could be new this week, when the guy's dead? Read on...
Ken Lay praised and defended by family and friends
Dignitaries are among more than 1,000 attending

In a memorial service that bounced back and forth from loving salute to spirited defense, former Enron Chairman Ken Lay was remembered Wednesday as a kind and generous man who was unfairly characterized after the company's collapse.

Lay, who died at 64 last week of a heart attack in Colorado, was praised for his deep devotion to his family and respect for all people, whether executives or janitorial staff.

"I am glad to have known Ken Lay and glad that he was willing to reach down and touch people like me," said the Rev. William Lawson, pastor emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. "Ken was a rich and powerful man, and he could have limited his association to people who were likewise rich and powerful."

Lawson said Lay helped untold numbers of people with college tuition, medical expenses and other needs.

[...] Lawson likened Lay to James Byrd, a black man who was dragged to death in a racially motivated murder near Jasper eight years ago.

"Ken Lay was neither black nor poor, as James Byrd was, but I'm angry because Ken was the victim of a lynching,"
said Lawson, who predicted that history will vindicate Lay.

His comments, met by hearty applause, referred to Lay's recent federal trial on fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from Enron's unraveling in 2001 and four charges of bank fraud. Lay had planned to appeal his conviction and was awaiting sentencing when he died.

That's right, those comments were met hearty applause from dignitaries including a former President. A fucking corporate swindler and thief who cost his employees their careers and destroyed the life savings of thousands of others is the same as a man dragged from a truck until his head and arm were ripped off—for being a black man.

That comment should have been met with a "hearty" get up and walk the fuck out.

Will there be any outrage from the Right on the comments of this clergyman like there was after the Coretta Scott King funeral? Somehow I doubt it.

In reading about Lay's death last week, I don't recall any pictures like this accompanying the story...

Your Dick of the Week: The Reverend William Lawson

[via The Talent Show]

UPDATE: You can send the Reverend and the Wheeler Baptist Church your thoughts here. And while I was there, I found a picture of the good Reverend. Not what I was expecting. I suppose if a white guy had made those comments, it would have been bigger news. the fact that Lawson is black does nothing to change the outrageousness of the statement for me. As Greg said, "a sickening lack of perspective."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

In Defense of Manny

Manny Ramirez is not playing in the All-Star Game tonite. He was the leading vote-getter in the American Leauge. He is taking the opportunity to rest a sore knee. Good for him. Would I like to see Manny drive a couple guys in tonite in an exhibition game? I suppose. Would I rather have Manny healthy and productive for the rest of the season for the Red Sox who are battling two teams for the Division lead in a year where the Wild CArd will probably come from the AL Central for the first time in years? Damn straight.

This is what Tim "Let me insert my rambling opinion here" McCarver had to say over the weekend during the FOX national broadcast (which incidentally did NOT feature the Red Sox):
Tim McCarver said the worst thing about his knee injury was “remembering which leg to limp with.”

In anticipation of the blowhards at FOX (I'm looking right at you, McCarver) inserting some derogatory editorial comments about Manny Ramirez, I give you this excellent column, Manny Ramirez - Reality vs. Perception

My grandfather can't stand him. (And before him, Mo. Gramp's is a little too "old-school" Boston, if you know what I mean.) My dad was ready to ship him in the big A-Rod, Magglio menage a trois trade. Every year the Boston media rides his ass through spring training and pounces on every little thing through the season. As the article points out the same shit coming from Trot Nixon is forgiven because he smashes stuff in the dugout when he forgets how many outs there are. Temper tantrums and faux-intensity gets gushes from the media (ask Paul O'Neill). Easy-going, happy to be playing a game for a living like Manny? Capital offense.

Fuck that. This guy is arguably the best hitter to wear the Red Sox uniform since Ted Williams. It's too bad nobody treats him that way.

Honestly, how do you not love this guy?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

NY Times Aiding and Abetting Again

I wonder if the idiots on the right (like this) will only see this story as the New York Times telling Bin Laden that the coast is clear...
C.I.A. Closes Unit Focused on Capture of bin Laden

WASHINGTON, July 3 — The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday.

The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said.

The decision is a milestone for the agency, which formed the unit before Osama bin Laden became a household name and bolstered its ranks after the Sept. 11 attacks, when President Bush pledged to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice "dead or alive."

What other possible reason could the Times have for running that article if not to help our enemies?

Ken Lay: R.I.P. R.I.H.*

*Rot in Hell

Enron founder Kenneth Lay dies at 64
By KRISTEN HAYS, AP Business Writer 13 minutes ago

HOUSTON - Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay, who was convicted of helping perpetuate one of the most sprawling business frauds in U.S. history, has died of a heart attack in Colorado. He was 64.

A secretary at his church and another secretary for his lead criminal lawyer, Michael Ramsey, both confirmed the death. Lay, who lived in Houston, frequently vacationed in Colorado.

Lay, who faced life in prison, was scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 23.

Nicknamed "Kenny Boy" by President Bush, Lay led Enron's meteoric rise from a staid natural gas pipeline company formed by a 1985 merger to an energy and trading conglomerate that reached No. 7 on the Fortune 500 in 2000 and claimed $101 billion in annual revenues.

He was convicted May 25 along with former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling of defrauding investors and employees by repeatedly lying about Enron's financial strength in the months before the company plummeted into bankruptcy protection in December 2001. Lay was also convicted in a separate non-jury trial of bank fraud and making false statements to banks, charges related to his personal finances.

Too bad. He deserved to die in prison, not in Aspen.

D.O.W: Brian Kilmeade

[Here's a quick DOW since I was travelling at the end of last week.]

FOX and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade is making his bid to join the "FOX News All-Stars." This loudmouth, sportscaster-wannabe-pundit was out leading the anti-NY Times charge and suggested that President Bush establish an "Office of Censorship."

Sure, dick, why not? You and all your buddies working in Bush's "Office of Propaganda" are already halfway there in your pursuit of a totally Soviet-style media/government dreamworld.

Oh, and here's a retroactive award for Kilmeade for the last week of February 2003. Once a dick, always a dick...

SIDEBAR: While waiting for the Tigers to come on yesterday, I had to listen to an hour of FOX Sports Radio. No Kilmeade or Chris Myers, but the two substitute jackasses filling in for the holiday definitely got their Office of Propaganda talking points: The "Sports Report" repeatedly hyped the space shuttle launch; gushed about the military and the GWOT; slammed Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center"; and here's the best part—in observance of the 4th they decided to compare U.S. Presidents with famous athletes. First up? Bill Clinton and Shawn Kemp. Because "they both like the ladies." Then they invited listeners to call in with their own suggestions and promptly hung up on the caller that compared Bush to John Rocker.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth!!

[ESPN and FOX have no baseball on today? Sigh...]