Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Are the Major Media Outlets Catching On?

This post from CNN, briefly, details the Bush "flip-flops":

He argued a federal Department of Homeland Security wasn't needed, then devised a plan to create one.

He resisted a commission to investigate Iraq intelligence failures, but then relented.

He also initially opposed the creation of the independent commission to examine if the 2001 attacks could have been prevented, before getting behind the idea under pressure from victims' families.

He opposed, and then supported, a two-month extension of the commission's work, after the panel said protracted disputes over access to White House documents left too little time.

He at first said any access to the president by the commission would be limited to just one hour but relaxed the limit earlier this month.

There are many more, but the fact that CNN posted this at all is amazing, after all, they are the ones who employ Bush apologist, Wolf Blitzer.

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Learn Religion through the Lives of the Simpsons

The Bensalem(PA) United Methodist Church holds a new ministry class that gleans wisdom from America's favorite animated family:

The irreverent television cartoon series "The Simpsons" has been called many things, but religious?

Perhaps. A new adult ministry in Bensalem, Pa. is focusing on "The Gospel according to The Simpsons."

The young adult group is using the book, "The Gospel According to The Simpsons," by Mark Pinsky and Tony Campolo.

Bensalem United Methodist Church hosts the new ministry class, and Liz Gruenbaum runs it.

She says one class focused on an episode when Homer was stealing cable television service, and Lisa showed him the error of his ways:

"It puts faith into a real world perspective. Because we all know people who have stolen cable, we took that 'stealing cable' episode to 'what hell looks like,' to real world things like filing false insurance claims and those people we know who fake worker's comp, and those kinds of things. It's real world perspective."

They meet Sundays at 9:30am and welcome new members at the church, Hulmeville Road in Bensalem, Pa.

I had a TV Theory professor at Penn State who extolled the virtues of the Simpsons and how they represented a wholesome American family. I guess he was right.

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1967 Civil Rights Demonstration in Milwaukee

I don't profess to know a lot about the Civil Rights movement. But I thought the majority of the activism took place in the South, apparently not. Much to learn.

This is powerful:

What I remember most vividly is the burning in my eyes and the intense hatred that I felt. I was 18 years old and sitting on a cot in the basement of St. Boniface Catholic Church. The year was 1967, and Milwaukee was in the midst of a struggle to pass an open housing ordinance. The NAACP Youth Council was leading nightly marches into the city's South Side to end a long-standing gentleman's agreement that kept African Americans from buying homes anywhere they could afford them. I was one of a few white people on the youth council and was proud to be part of what I considered a crusade for justice...

Follow the link.

I'm proud to say the author is a friend of the family.

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More Dead Americans

Four American soldiers died today in Iraq when a bomb exploded under their vehicle. In another incident, an American contractor was also killed today with three other foreign workers. Their bodies were dragged through the streets by jubulant residents. Both attacks took place near Fallujah:

Chanting "Fallujah is the graveyard of Americans," residents cheered after the grisly assault on two four-wheel-drive civilian vehicles, which left both in flames. Others chanted, "We sacrifice our blood and souls for Islam."

Associated Press Television News pictures showed one man beating a charred corpse with a metal pole. Others tied a yellow rope to a body, hooked it to a car and dragged it down the main street of town. Two blackened and mangled corpses were hung from a green iron bridge across the Euphrates.

"The people of Fallujah hanged some of the bodies on the old bridge like slaughtered sheep," resident Abdul Aziz Mohammed said. Some of the corpses were dismembered, he said.

This is tragic. Let's not forget. Ever.

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Clear Channel Hires Jesse Jackson as Host For Talk-Radio Show

Announced on the day Air America's liberal radio network launches.

This is a story from today's Wall Street Journal, written by Sarah McBride:

Clear Channel Communications Inc., the radio company that frequently comes under fire for its large donations to Republican politicians and allegedly conservative bent in programming, is taking a high-profile step in the other direction.

The company has signed up former Democratic presidential candidate the Rev. Jesse Jackson as a host for a Sunday-morning talk-radio show based in Chicago, the nation's third-biggest radio market after New York and Los Angeles. It also will run in New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Norfolk, Va. In addition, Clear Channel plans to test programming from a new liberal radio network, Air America, in the Portland, Ore., market.

"I think they are making a concerted effort to appease the Washington establishment," said Sheryl Leanza, deputy director of the Media Access Project, a consumer advocacy group. "They have become aware that they are a target, and are trying to ameliorate that."

But Clear Channel said it hired Mr. Jackson because it thought he could draw listeners. "We run the radio division for our local markets," said John Hogan, who heads Clear Channel's radio division. "We don't run it for Washington."

Mr. Jackson, who said he had talked with several companies over the past few months about hosting a radio show, said Clear Channel was the most attractive because it could offer him a live, syndicated show in several big markets.

Mr. Jackson currently guest hosts once a month or so on a Chicago radio station, and had a long-running show on CNN in the 1990s called "Both Sides With Jesse Jackson." That show didn't do particularly well in ratings, but Clear Channel believes his personality is better suited to radio. "It's a very personal, intimate medium, and he has that rare ability to connect with people," said Mr. Hogan.

The show makes its debut Sunday at 8 a.m. Eastern time.

I didn't link to this story because the WSJ's site is "pay to use."

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Newspaper Columnist: We Misled you

Rick Mercier from the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, VA recently published an Op-Ed piece apologizing for the media's coverage of the war in Iraq. He offers major mea culpas for lots of things:

A study released earlier this month by the University of Maryland’s Center for International Security Studies at Maryland concluded that much of the prewar coverage about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction “stenographically reported the incumbent administration’s perspective” and provided “too little critical examination of the way officials framed the events, issues, threats, and policy options.” Too few stories, the study said, included perspectives that challenged the official line.

He also went on to indict some big names at major papers:

Knight Ridder journalists Jonathan Landay and Tish Wells reported earlier this month that the main Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, fed the Times, the Post, The Associated Press (the primary source of world and national news for this newspaper), and other print media numerous unsubstantiated allegations about the Iraqi regime that resulted in over 100 articles worldwide.

Those articles, the Knight Ridder correspondents found, made assertions that still have not been substantiated but that helped build the administration’s case for invasion. They included claims that Iraq had mobile biological weapons facilities; that it had Scud missiles loaded with poison that were ready to strike Israel; that Saddam was aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons; and that he had collaborated with al–Qaida.

The Times’ diva of disinformation, Judith Miller, had a particularly uncritical fondness for the INC and its leader, Ahmed Chalabi. Last spring, Post media columnist Howard Kurtz obtained an internal Times e–mail in which she wrote: “I’ve been covering Chalabi for about 10 years. He has provided most of the front-page exclusives on WMD to our paper.”

He also mentioned guilty parties in the Bush Administration:

Take Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s son-in-law, who was Iraq’s weapons chief until his defection in 1995. He was cited by Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and just about every other invasion supporter as an important source of intelligence on Saddam’s arsenal. However, while he was describing all of Saddam’s awful weapons during his post-defection debriefings, Kamel added one little thing that the administration and its mouthpieces forgot to mention: All of Iraq’s prohibited weapons had been destroyed.

A well thought out piece and worth a look.

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Injuries to Hatch Daughters Forces Probe

Here is a picture of Anne Hatch (L) and Elizabeth Hatch in happier times with their father, Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Chicago police officers used excessive force when they arrested Mike Hatch's daughters last Friday night. Their injuries included abrasions, bruises along with a sprained wrist and a black eye for Elizabeth Hatch.

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Why Joint Testimony?

Josh Marshal wonders today why the White House insists that Cheney & Bush testify together:

Only three scenarios or explanations make sense to me.

The first -- and most generous -- explanation is that this is simply another way to further dilute the Commission's ability to ask questions.

If, say, the meeting lasts three hours, that's three hours to ask questions of both of them rather than three hours to ask questions of each -- as might be the case in separate meetings.

That wouldn't be any great coup for the White House. But it would be one more impediment to throw in front of the Commission's work, which would probably be a source of some joy for the White House.

From here the possible explanations go down hill -- in every respect -- pretty quickly.

Explanation number two would be that this is a fairly elementary -- and, one imagines, pretty effective -- way to keep the two of them from giving contradictory answers to the Commission's questions. It helps them keep their stories straight.

(It's a basic part of any criminal investigation -- which, of course, this isn't -- to interview everyone separately, precisely so that people can't jigger their stories into consistency on the fly.)

The third explanation is that the White House does not trust the president to be alone with the Commission members for any great length of time without getting himself into trouble, either by contradicting what his staff says, or getting some key point wrong, or letting some key fact slip. And Cheney's there to make sure nothing goes wrong

As jaded as it seems I'm leaning toward reason number three. This is why McClellan was tap dancing around the issue of the President testifying for an hour.

They had to accede to the outcry for Condi to tesify in public and that gave the Administration an "out" for the President to testify with a helper.

Remember what happened when Bush sat with Russert for an hour. Carnage.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Google This

I never knew how much mileage I would get from the, "Drunken Daughters of MN Attorney General" post from Sunday.

I've received six Google referrals from it in the last 36 hours.

I guess enquiring minds want to know.

(People are very anxious to see pictures too. I'd try the fountain of sleaze, Drudge.)

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WIFI at the Ballpark

Starting this year, SBC Park, home of the San Francisco Giants will be offering wireless internet service to fans who bring their notebook computers to the ball park. The wireless service will be free, but the good game tickets still cost upwards of $75.

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Faux News

I think Bill O'Reilly says it best:

"There is nothing wrong with news organizations endorsing a candidate or a columnist writing about his or her political preferences. But actively participating in political campaigns ... is absolutely against every journalistic standard, and it is happening -- usually under the radar."

This can't be happening, can it?:

On the question of a link between Saddam and al-Qaida, a frankly startling 67 percent of the Fox News primary-source crowd believed this to be true. It's a claim that was one of the centerpieces of the Bush administration war policy but has never been proved, and, as PIPA asserts, is now largely dismissed by the intelligence community (and lately the White House itself).

This gives "fair and balanced" new meaning.

We Report on what Karl Rove asks us too and then You Decide whether John Kerry looks French or Belgian.

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IT'S ON!!!

Condi Rice will testify.

Under oath.

In public.

They really had no choice. Unfortunately for Condi, the delay and the waffling will bring even more scrutiny to what she says.

Link forthcoming.

UPDATE: Here is the link.

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Slippery Scott McClellan

Scotty's chief talking point:
Let's explore all of the possibilities.
This wasn't accurately reported, The President wanted to explore all of the possibilities.
Yes, of course Dr. Rice wanted to explore all of the possibilities.


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Krugman still not buying what they're shoveling

New York Times columnist with another grand effort. To wit:

"And there are many other cases of apparent abuse of power by the administration and its Congressional allies. A few examples: according to The Hill, Republican lawmakers threatened to cut off funds for the General Accounting Office unless it dropped its lawsuit against Dick Cheney. The Washington Post says Representative Michael Oxley told lobbyists that 'a Congressional probe might ease if it replaced its Democratic lobbyist with a Republican.' Tom DeLay used the Homeland Security Department to track down Democrats trying to prevent redistricting in Texas. And Medicare is spending millions of dollars on misleading ads for the new drug benefit — ads that look like news reports and also serve as commercials for the Bush campaign."

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Monday, March 29, 2004

Let's not forget...

...how Bush got elected in the first place.

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One of the Things I Love about Philadelphia

WXPN is an institution in this city. The music they play paves the way for new artists who eventually go mainsteam (Norah Jones, John Maier & Five For Fighting) and for artists who are just happy to play and not have to deal with the big record labels (Jonatha Brooke, Erin McKewon & Phil Roy.) The station plays an unbelievably eclectic mix of singer/songwriters with some rock favorites, folk, reggae and blues thrown in. They are a public radio station that is member supported which means they are not beholden to the record companies or a play list foisted upon them. Perhaps you live in a town that carries the syndicated radio program, World Cafe featuring music and interviews by David Record Dye (his real middle name!), this is what we're fortunate enough to have all the time in Philly.

In the fall, WXPN is moving locations to accomodate their growth (and huge CD library.) If you've ever listened to the station I encourage you to lend your support to this endeavor. If you've never listened to this station, head over to www.xpn.org and listen to the streaming broadcast. You will be in good company, they have listeners who pledge support from all over the world.

It's diificult to find pure entertainment options these days and we're all lucky to have this radio station to enjoy.

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Uncle Horn Head on the Wheels of Steel

At the Berklee School of Music you can take a class on learning to be a DJ. No, I'm not talking about working a Junior High dance and playing "Open Arms" by Journey, I'm talking about "scratching", "scribbling" or "stabbing" like the late Jam Master Jay or Spinderella from Salt n' Pepa:

The DJ is the foundation of hip-hop, the urban music and culture that exploded out of New York City after someone decided to say a few words over the sound combinations of a Bronx DJ named Kool Herc.

Scratching, or moving a record rhythmically forward and backward with the needle still in the groove, is the core skill of turntable artists.

"Hip-hop has been around for, what, 25 years now?" Webber said. "Deejaying is one of the main core expressions of hip-hop. Part of our mission is to represent the major musical movements of the day, and one could certainly argue that hip-hop is one of the most influential cultures in the history of the world."

If I have another kid, his or her nickname is going to be Kool Herc.

UPDATE: Peace out.

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Sir Peter Ustinov

The Oscar winner died yesterday at the age of 82. He once said he'd like his epitaph to read:

Keep Off the Grass


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With Afro, 6'10"

I recently found the blog, Sugar, Mr. Poon? and have been laughing ever since. For those who don't know the reference, Sugar, Mr Poon comes from the movie Fletch. One of the funniest movies of the 80s. The author is also a golfer who shot a 74 in March this year (which might explain the Titleist links on his blogroll.) I did that a couple of years ago, but only because I unplugged the windmill.

There is some great content on this site. I encourage you to check out Mr. Poon.

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Force Condi to Testify

The following story confirms what we already know. Richard Clarke's allegations about the administration's mishandling of intelligence prior are not fading away. In fact:

"The administration's attempts to discredit Clarke have backfired. They have merely given the story legs and hurt the administration. The issue of whether Rice should testify should keep the story alive for several more news cycles," said University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape.

"The Bush administration and its allies have certainly not helped the story go away," said Howard Opinsky, a Republican operative who ran media relations for Arizona Sen. John McCain during his 2000 presidential bid.

"Instead, they adopted the risky strategy of trying to refute his charges, which makes it appear that they have something to hide," he said.

You can help keep it alive. Call your senator and ask them to fully support Condi's public testifying in front of the commission.

I just called my two Senators and my Congressman. Invigorating.

The main senate number is 202-224-3121

If you don't know who your representatives are, check senate.gov and house.gov and put in your zip code.

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SAVE US: Scooby 2 is #1 at the Box Office

The 2nd Scooby film opened this weekend and grossed $30.7 million, best of any film in the U.S over the weekend.

Scrappy or no Scrappy, am I the only one who thinks the original sucked? What's next, Gigli 2?

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Kerry Quotes Verse, Bush Attacks

George Bush's campaign spokesman scolded John Kerry yesterday saying Kerry's comment ""was beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of scripture for a political attack."

So what did it take for Rove to call on the dogs again?


"The scriptures say, what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" Kerry said. "When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?"

So let me get this straight. Bush is chosen by god to lead our country, He quotes scripture in his SOTU and other speeches and may have used his faith to make foreign policy decisions.

With all of the hypocrisy they're generating I don't think the Dems have to do anything to boot them from office. These idiots are wrapped up in so many lies, manipulations and broken laws that there is little chance they'll be able to keep this leaky ship afloat until 11/2.

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Sunday, March 28, 2004

His Head is like an Orange on a Toothpick

Well it looks like Nader is going to meet with Kerry to discuss how to go about ousting Bush:

ATLANTA (AP) - Ralph Nader said Sunday he will meet with John Kerry next month to discuss the effort to defeat President Bush in the November election.

While stressing that he is still a competitor in the race, the independent presidential hopeful said he views his candidacy as a "second front against Bush, however small."

I don't know what put this guy's ego in check all of a sudden. Six weeks ago he's squawking that the DNC is, "trying to limit his freedom of speech" by asking him not to run in 2004. He's also taking GOP money.

Why the sudden unity?

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More civil rights being trashed

Court Opens Door To Searches Without Warrants:

"NEW ORLEANS -- It's a groundbreaking court decision that legal experts say will affect everyone: Police officers in Louisiana no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or business.

Leaders in law enforcement say it will provide safety to officers, but others argue it's a privilege that could be abused.

The decision was made by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Two dissenting judges called it the 'road to Hell.'

The ruiling stems from a lawsuit filed in Denham Springs in 2000.

New Orleans Police Department spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said the new power will go into effect immediately and won't be abused.

'We have to have a legitimate problem to be there in the first place, and if we don't, we can't conduct the search,' Defillo said.

But former U.S. Attorney Julian Murray has big problems with the ruling.

'I think it goes way too far,' Murray said, noting that the searches can be performed if an officer fears for his safety -- a subjective condition.

Defillo said he doesn't envision any problems in New Orleans, but if there are, they will be handled.

'There are checks and balances to make sure the criminal justce system works in an effective manor,' Defillo said."

I agree with the dissenting judges, this IS a road to hell.

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Daughters of MN AG arrested

After a night of boozing, to celebrate one's 21st birthday, the daughters of Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch were arrested late Friday accused of slapping cops outside a Chicago nightclub:

After the women were arrested and put into a squad car, Anne Hatch allegedly kicked a rear window, shattering it, police said. The women suffered injuries including black eyes, a fractured wrist and cuts to the face, arms, knees and thighs, Hatch's office said. They were released from a police lockup about 2 p.m. Saturday.

C'mon now! This isn't Texas!

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Saturday, March 27, 2004

Jon Stewart: Amusing Little Man

Through the power of TIVO I've recently been able to watch the Daily Show on Comedy Central with much more frequency. John Stewart and his writers understand comedy and politics. They rip both parties and if you're into politics and like to laugh, then this is the show for you.

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Friday, March 26, 2004

Well, They do make good beer

The violinists for the Beethoven Orchestra are going to court to try and get their wages increased. The reason is that the string players believe they should be paid by the note. Because symphonies, particularly pieces by Ludwig Van, feature much more string involvement than woodwinds the strings feel they should be compensated accordingly. The response from the other members of the German symphony seems to be an apt one, considering the violinists' request: Are you kidding me?

Based on this rationale I have an excellent chance for a raise. I fax many more documents than any of my colleagues. In fact, I've measured it, and I fax 23% more than people at the same level as me. Using the "Violinist Rationale" I should be getting 23% more than my co-workers. Plus an extra 7% for paper cuts.

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Dear Condi, SEE YA!

If the article in the NY Times today is correct Condi is done at the end of the year.

I wonder if her future employer will permit her to lie as much as she does in her current job?

Thanks to Josh Marshall for pointing this out.

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It's always interesting to look at the graduation rates of NCAA tournament teams this time of year.

The numbers below are % graduation rates for men's basketball student athletes. Data does not include transfers and counts student-athletes who receive a degree within six years of arriving on campus. Here are some of the lowlights highlights, in order from highest to lowest, from teams appearing in the "Sweet 16":

Kansas - 73%
Duke - 67%
Xavier - 67%
Vanderbilt - 62%
Illinois - 46%
Wake Forest - 46%
St. Joseph's - 44%
Syracuse - 40%
Texas - 38%
Georgia Tech - 27%
Connecticut - 27%

These numbers are for all players. There is currently a storm brewing over the release of graduation rates of African-American men's and women's basketball players:

...but now the NCAA has quietly adjusted the graduation rates to satisfy ''a new interpretation'' of federal laws which say that information on any category containing only one or two students ''must be suppressed.'' In basketball, which has far fewer players than football or baseball teams, the new rules amount to liberation from any accountability whatsoever on the part of college athletic departments and their presidents.
Because of the new rules, 37 of the 65 men's teams in this year's tournament did not publish graduation rates of their African-American players. Sixteen schools published no graduation rates at all.

Nine of the 16 schools that mysteriously had no graduation rate whatsoever just happen to include last year's most hideous offenders, such as:

Alabama (0 percent for black men and 13 percent overall in the 2002 report).

Cincinnati (0 percent for black men, 17 percent overall).

Louisville (0 for black men, 10 percent overall).

Kentucky (13 percent and 33 percent overall).

Southern Illinois (14 percent for black men and 27 percent overall).

Memphis (0 period).

Nevada (0 percent for black men, 20 percent overall).

Virginia Commonwealth (0 period).

Alabama State (0 period).

The ''new rules'' did not stop the schools with good and great graduation rates from publishing them, even when the numbers of players on scholarship are obviously similar to the schools that withheld the information. Kansas, Air Force, Manhattan, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, Central Florida, Duke, Princeton, Valparaiso, Stanford, Monmouth and Xavier all had African-American player graduation rates of at least 67 percent.

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Not Funny

Evidently, families of U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq took exception to our President joking about the missing WMDs. Quotes and a link to the New York Daily News at The Hamster.

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Early Christmas?

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is preparing for the possibility of being indicted by a grand jury for using corporate money to influence state house races in 2002. The information and this excerpt come from the Houston Chronicle:

...The meeting at the Omni was part of a regular event DeLay holds every three months for supporters called the "Congressional Quarterly Luncheon." The two people interviewed by the Chronicle spoke on condition of anonymity.

DeLay talked about the grand jury investigation only after being asked about it by one of the 40 to 50 people in attendance, sources told the Chronicle.

DeLay talked briefly about a legal defense and then had an unidentified aide discuss the possible need for raising money for a legal defense fund.

One of those interviewed quoted DeLay as saying, "I fully anticipate being indicted...."
Empahsis added.

If indicted DeLay would have to temporarily step down from his House Leadership position, which he discussed on Thursday with other Republican leaders, until all litigation has run it's course.

This one's going to get ugly. Hopefully.

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Thursday, March 25, 2004

How many U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq?

Keith over at Berry's World has an interesting look at how the media are portraying the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq.

Interesting and mystifying.

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Football Back to NYC

In an effort to win the 2012 Olympic summer Games and to bring back the Jets from New Jersey, New York has announced plans to spend $1.2 billion on a new stadium along Manhattan's West Side. At the same presser, Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg indicated that they would look to double the size of the Javits Convention Center as well. But there's always a hitch:

Despite strong support from Bloomberg and Pataki, the plan faces major hurdles including an environmental review, zoning approvals and likely lawsuits by neighborhood activists.

Other strong support will come from Mass Transit and people who own parking garages.

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ATTN: Al Franken (more parody)

This Liberal Radio Network Employment Application appears in the 3/29 issue of the New Yorker.


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ANTI - Project for the New American Century

The Project for the New American Empire is a web site parody of the unilateralist, ultra-right think tank PNAC. The 'New Empire' statement of principles is worth a perusal:

...Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. While nuking the blue states is viscerally appealing, spillover radiation would threaten the red states. We must bide our time until a Death Ray is developed that can vaporize our enemies without putting our own lives at risk. At the same time, we cannot simply avoid confronting Islamists, France and liberals altogether; indeed, a good smear campaign or a book burning or even a patsy with a rifle in a book depository are the tools we must use as we march towards a brave new world.
Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

• We need to kill or enslave everybody who isn’t American (and quite a few who are) if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;

• We need to strengthen our ties to corporate allies and to challenge unincorporated entities hostile to our interests and values;

• We need to promote the cause of political and economic obedience abroad;

• We need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in having all the best shit.

Column titles include:
The Genitalization of the Western Amoeba
Damn you, San Francisco
More Blood, Less Treasure

The Project for the New American Empire will also be starting a blog in the near future. We'll keep you posted.

Mega-dittoes to Presurfer for pointing this out to us.

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Bush Exercising Civil Rights Discrimination

The Bush Administration continues to dig itself a deeper and deeper hole:

Despite President Bush's pledge that homosexuals "ought to have the same rights" as all other people, his Administration this week ruled that homosexuals can now be fired from the federal workforce because of their sexual orientation.

There is more information at the Federal Times.

I haven't seen this reported on any major news sites or in the blogosphere. It seems like this decision would be white hot.

Let's spread the word.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Not Really a Surprise

Zell Miller (D-GA) will formally endorse George W. Bush for President today:

Miller is a conservative Democrat who has broken with his party on a number of key issues, including guns and the war in Iraq. He previously lent his support to Bush and committed to campaigning on his behalf in the upcoming election.

The Webster Dictionary, 10th Edition, has a little more apt description:

turncoat \tern-cot\ n (1557) : one who switches to an opposing side or party; specif: TRAITOR

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This is Horrifying

Another great website for information on media and coverage of domestic and international events is MediaChannel.org. The proprietor, Danny Schecter, is a world renowned media specialist and publishes a blog daily. He has written the book, Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception: How the Media Failed to Cover the War in Iraq. Today's blog offering relates a story from veteran journalist John Pilger that makes my stomach turn:

Veteran Journalist John Pilger was in Sydney Australia speaking to an anti-war rally; he was talking about one impact of the US invasion in Iraq about which our media is not. According to his investigation:

"More than 1,000 children are killed or injured in Iraq every month by exploding cluster bombs, left by the Americans and the British. According to the Uranium Medical Research Centre, the main cities of Iraq are poisoned with radiation from uranium-tipped shells and missiles, fired by the Americans and the British.

…Indeed, so contaminated are sections of Baghdad and Basra that coalition troops are not allowed to go anywhere near where their own shells have fallen – streets where children play, oblivious to the danger. In one report, Iraq is described as a `silent Hiroshima.' What this means is that the people of Iraq, and the occupying soldiers, perhaps including Australians, are left to get sick, many of them fatally. Listen to the American soldiers and their families who are now speaking out. Untold thousands of them have gone home sick, or deeply disturbed. Many have committed suicide."

He also has a column today in the Long Island Newsday detailing the rise in political invective from Howard Stern against the Bush Administration after Clear Channel dumped him from their stations.

This is the type of information Mr. Schechter offers everyday. Go take a look.

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Wal-Mart joins online music fray

The retail giant has begun selling music online. The cost per song is $.88 which undercuts Apple's iTunes' individual song price by $.11.

As a music downloader I'm excited by this announcement. Not because of Wal-Mart's low price, I loathe them because of their labor practices. But because of the competition that is being introduced. I bet we'll see $.50 songs before too long. I'll continue to use iTunes for now because I have another 20 free songs through their Pepsi promotion. I'm on an unbelievable streak of free songs under my Pepsi caps. (It helps if you hold the bottle at an angle that you can see if you're a winner.)

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Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Your Voice

The MoveOn Voter Fund have just released their first book; MoveOn’s 50 Ways to Love Your Country: How to Find Your Political Voice and Become a Catalyst for Change. Each of these, "50 Ways" were submitted by MoveOn members. It's available on the Internet or at your local bookstore and the $10 price tag will go toward the MoveOn.org grass roots efforts.

What follows is an introduction to one of the sections to the book written by Al Gore. This struck a chord with me because of recent correspondance I've had with Karl whose blog, paradox1x is very cool, especially the photo on his home page of the Philadelphia skyline. Karl shared a story of someone who doesn't appreciate the value of a single vote in the democratic process and how hard it is to make someone see that importance. I think the following Gore excerpt makes a good case for the importance of that vote...

Woody Allen has famously said that 90 percent of success is showing up. That’s true of democracy too. I’d argue that the other 10 is making sure you’re registered beforehand.

It’s easy to be cynical about politics and to believe that one vote barely matters. But consider these facts: John F. Kennedy’s 1960 victory over Richard Nixon—a victory that ultimately led to sweeping changes in civil rights laws, the first great wave of space exploration, and the creation of Medicare—was decided by just 100,000 votes nationwide. In 1994, the year Republicans won both houses of Congress, the redistribution of about 10,000 votes nationally would have kept Congress in Democratic hands. One of my former House colleagues, Connecticut Democrat Sam Gejdenson, won reelection by twenty-one votes that year. (“All you need is one,” he remarked; “the rest are for your ego.”)

The democratic political process isn’t perfect. Winston Churchill once said it’s the worst system for governance “except for every other system that has ever been tried.” Often, you may find no candidate who completely reflects your views. But as voter participation has declined—from nearly two-thirds of eligible voters in 1960 to less than half in many national elections today—strong and decidedly undemocratic forces have stepped in to fill the void.

In a democracy, the future isn’t something that just happens; it’s something we shape for ourselves, together. Special-interest lobbyists get the government they pay for only when we stay home from the polls—only when we abdicate the electoral power that is mightier than any soft-money check, more decisive than any million-dollar ad blitz or corporate misinformation campaign.

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Well Said

This was a letter sent into the MSNBC blog, MSNBC - Altercation.:

"Let me get this right...According to the Bush White House: Former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke is wrong, former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill is wrong, former top U.S. weapons inspector David Kay is wrong, Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring/Verification and Inspection Commission Dr. Hans Blix is wrong, the CIA is wrong, the FBI is wrong, the librul media is wrong, blogville is wrong, protesting a pre-emptive unprovoked war is wrong, hunting bin Laden 24/7 with everything our military forces have is wrong (unless it's an election year), John Kerry is wrong, John McCain was wrong down in S. Carolina, Howard Dean is wrong, Max Cleland is wrong, Valerie Plame is wrong, thinking we should all pay a little more income tax when our country is engaged in a war on terrorism is wrong, a solvent government is wrong, taking as much time as necessary to fairly recount votes in a close election is wrong, and for having relied upon any of the aforementioned individuals for advice relating to their field of expertise - the White House was wrong. "

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At least they sent him home with full pay

In a bizarre story from BBC NEWS a surgeon in Nottingham was suspended for, "...alleged to have taken an extra helping of soup and croutons and not paid..."

In a statement,the spokesperson for the hospital said, "A consultant was suspended on Wednesday following an alleged incident at the hospital which did not relate to any patient or another member of staff."

At this writing their was no word if the soup was cream based or consomme.

Full marks to zumba at SportsFrog for bringing this to our attention.

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Phillies Broadcasters Tussle

In the upcoming issue of Philadelphia Magazine we'll get to hear about the sordid side of life in the Phillies broadcast booth:

• That only a few months before he died late in the 1997 season, Phillies icon Rich Ashburn had come to believe that Wheeler was trying to undermine him to new club president Dave Montgomery and warned Kalas that Wheeler no longer could be trusted.

• That Wheeler used to field calls on the road from women who were trying to meet Kalas. After the broadcaster confessed his infidelities to his wife in 1998, Eileen Kalas said, "The party was over and Chris didn't like that."

• That broadcaster Scott Graham last year told Wheeler he'd "punch him out" if he didn't stop bad-mouthing Kalas.

The Phillies' game yesterday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in St. Petersburg was not aired on radio or TV. When reached yesterday, Wheeler and Kalas had no comment.

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Monday, March 22, 2004

Now Visual!

Many thanks to BS for pulling a string and getting me upgraded to Blog-Spot PLUS. One of the best parts of the upgrade is this:

This is a wonderful home in northern Maine. You'd be pissed if I told you what the taxes are. Of course you'd need to drive 45 minutes to find a mall. On the other hand, you'd need to only walk 10 minutes for a Spaten Optimator.

I will probably be using pictures sparingly in this forum because I understand it takes longer to load the page. That irks me to no end. If this page is slow to load for you please leave a comment below.

Update: Um, the upgrade allows me to include pictures of wonderful houses in Maine on my blog. It does not allow me to LIVE IN wonderful houses in Maine. That would be a good upgrade though.

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Walk Tall vs. Road House

I've only seen the promos, but the new Rock movie, Standing Tall, seems like it might have some similarities with the Patrick Swayze classic, Roadhouse. Just an observation.

The Double Deuce
"This place is so bad, they have signs above the urinals that say 'Don't eat the big white mint.'"

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Ozzy Osbourne named Ambassador for Human Race

He wouldn't be my first choice, but the former Black Sabbath singer has been voted the best person to welcome aliens to earth.

I don't even have a joke for this.

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Smoking Gun? Clarke on 60 Minutes UPDATED

The blogosphere is already aflame with analysis, spin and GOP response from Richard Clarke's appearance on 60 Minutes last night. Clarke was the 'Terrorist Czar' under Clinton and Bush(43.) He's been promoting his book, 'Against all Enemies' about the U.S. fight on terror and the Bush Administration's lack of preparation for acts of homeland terrorism, particularly 9/11. This analysis from Axis of Logic gives a good overview of where we stand at this point:

When it entered into office in January 2001, said Clarke, the entire focus of Bush's national security team was on working on old issues, such as Iraq, Star Wars, and "not on new issues, the new threats that developed over the preceding eight years". Clarke told CBS correspondent Leslie Stahl that Bush officials were "tepid" in their response, when, before September 11, he suggested to hold a meeting to discuss threats stemming from al-Qaeda. "Frankly," he added, "I find it outrageous that the president is running for reelection on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11 ..." Clarke observed. However, he added: "There is a lot of blame to go around, and I probably deserve some blame."

Immediately after the September 11 attacks, the focus of Bush's national security team, instead of remaining focused on attacking Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, quickly turned on Iraq. Starting the first National Security Council (NSC) meeting, top Bush officials wanted to punish Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was saying, according to Clarke, that the US needed to bomb Iraq. Even when other participants of that meeting kept insisting that the focus should be on al-Qaeda and Afghanistan, Rumsfeld was saying there there were not any good targets in Afghanistan, and that there were many good targets in Iraq. Clarke said at first he that thought Rumsfeld's comment about the lack of good targets in Afghanistan was a joke. The administration wanted to believe, he told "60 Minutes", that there was a connection between September 11 and Iraq.

The most damning part of Clarke's accusation is a reported conversation that he had with the president, in which Bush said: "I want to find out whether Iraq did this." He goes on to clarify that Bush never asked him to make it up; however, he notes: "... the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this." When Clarke responded that US intelligence had investigated that issue and found no connection, Bush "came back at me and said, 'Iraq, Saddam', find out if there's a connection". Bush's tone, according to Clarke, was "very intimidating".

Emphasis added.

For the people who have followed the story this really isn't surprising. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil made similar charges in his book, 'The Price of Loyalty' and the Administration painted him the same way they're painting Clarke right now.

This has already turned into a he said/she said but if you look back to interviews and statements by The President, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condi Rice and Donald Rumsfeld the Bush Administration has been less than truthful with the American people. If the national press do their job it will only be a matter of time before it catches up with them. But the way things have gone that's a pretty big if.

Update: Many more lies here. The Center for American Progress have done their homework. Bless 'em. Atrios showing the way, thanks.

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Big Surprise

C got up early to do some shopping on Saturday. She came home with a present for me. Needless to say, I'm in trouble.

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Sunday, March 21, 2004

An Impressive Display of Weekend Mass Blogging

...well I think so. That was the most I've posted over a two day period in the short history of this experiment. If you're joining us late, be sure to check out the Veteran's Stadium post below and the fine writing talent in the Blog Roll on the left.

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My Pools are Drained

Now that Kentucky has joined Stanford for the long trip home, I can officially say that my pool is done.

I'd like to speak to someone who had the Cardinal and the Wildcats out before the Sweet 16.

Comments below...

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Blog Survey

Courtesy of The Presurfer is a link to a blog survey with some interesting findings:

Because of things they have written on their blogs, 36% of respondents have gotten in trouble, 34% know other bloggers who have gotten in trouble with family and friends and 12% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in legal or professional problems because of things they wrote on their blogs.

Be sure to take the time to visit the Presurfer. There are enough diversions to wile away at least a week of work, which we all need to do at one point or another. Enjoy!

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36 Dead in Iraq and it's only Mar. 21

The month of March has seen 161 woundedas well.

We can't leave now, but how could they not have planned better?

To borrow from a MoveOn ad, soldiers are dying to know.

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Bush Gear Made in Repressive Country

Thanks to the Daily Kos for pointing us in this direction.

Well, our President's clothes being made in Burma/Myanmar isn't as bad as it coluld be. They could be made in North Korea.

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Saturday, March 20, 2004

Veteran's Stadium Memories

It's implosion time. Though I don't think I'll get up and watch at 6:30am tomorrow morning. I guess I shouldn't be surprised about all of the media coverage. It's just another event in the city's history. But, after watching misty-eyed men being interviewed about the Vet and all of their memories I started thinking about the relationship that stadium and I share...

I think I went to the Vet for the first time when I was 9 years old. These six years have really flow- OK...OK... It's been about 27 years since that first trip to the "cookie cutter."

It's amazing how times change. All of those stadiums (Veteran's, Riverfront, Three Rivers & Busch) were built in the late 60s/early 70s and seemed like a great idea at the time. I can hear the planners & engineers now, "Multi-purpose, multi-function stadiums are the wave of the future." They were, for a while. The Vet would have been best served to switch to grass in the early 80s, it would have prolonged careers. (I can remember Scott Rolen having to take days off during his third year because of the way that turf treated his back. You could ask Michael Irvin about it too, but not the fans. That's a post for another time.) Busch, in St. Louis switched to grass and the other two ballparks are gone. they've been replaced by the "re-generated" ball park. Old park feel, with new park convenience. And in the case of Baltimore(Old - Memorial Stadium) & Pittsburgh they got TWO new stadiums each for their outdoor teams. And now Philly is coming onto the scene, in typical Philly style, late.

I've probably been to 200 or 300 events at the Vet in my life (probably more, my stubs are in storage, so i'm going from memory here.) Some winning, lots of losing. But the best thing about the stadium was the people. Not just the employees (who were helpful, if you needed a tourniquet) but the amazing cross-section of people who attended the games, concerts and tractor pulls. Suburban families, urban dwellers, Goretti girls, O'Hara boys, college kids and the people who enjoyed the beer garden ($8.50 for a Guinness?) The crowds at a Phillies game on a warm Summer night were a wonderful snapshot of the city of Philadelphia. Diverse, vocal, opinionated (we're sorry Von Hayes!) and most of all interesting.

A couple of events stand out for me. I was there the day they retired Mike Schmidt's number, I think they lost that day to the Braves, but I do remember during the pre-game ceremony Schmidtty presented Harry Kalas with a LeRoy Neiman painting of himself mid-swing. He gave it as a thank you for all of his home run calls (all 548.) Harry got all choked up. After that moment I had a new found respect for Schmidt.

The second event was a Pink Floyd concert. It was the Division Bell tour ('93 or '94 I think.) It was a beautiful night and they played two sets. The entire first set was stuff from the new album. So, at intermission, their was a real buzz in the crowd because we knew that the second part of the show would be old favorites. We were right. The music was amazing but I vividly remember something else. Behind the sound board (about where the 50 yard line would be) in the center of the stadium was a disco ball that was raised from a big box. From where I was seated I didn't see it come out, but all of a sudden, the lights went completely dark. Simultaneously, two spotlights were trained on the spinning ball from either side of the stadium providing an unforgettable accompaniment to the music. The inside of the Vet turned into a dance hall with 60,000 people on their feet screaming. An unbelievable show.

I think the Vet will always be remembered, and not just in Philadelphia. But the new stadiums will always share something with the Vet. The people.

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Rep. Henry Waxman has put together a formal record of all the statements the Bush Administration made about the Iraq war. The background:

On March 19, 2003, U.S. forces began military operations in Iraq. Addressing the nation about the purpose of the war on the day the bombing began, President Bush stated: “The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.”

One year later, many doubts have been raised regarding the Administration’s assertions about the threat posed by Iraq. Prior to the war in Iraq, the President and his advisors repeatedly claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that jeopardized the security of the United States. The failure to discover these weapons after the war has led to questions about whether the President and his advisors were candid in describing Iraq’s threat.

I may be the final person in the liberal blogosphere to link to this. Enjoy, I'm sure there will be plenty more in the near future.

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Continuing the Theme...

This is a story of Nelda Moore, who has an interesting story to tell:

A DoD whistleblower details an attempt by a covert US team to plant weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The team was later killed by friendly fire due to CIA incompetence. In a world exclusive, Al Martin Raw.com [http://www.almartinraw.com/] has published a news story about a Department of Defense whistleblower who has revealed that a US covert-operations team had planted "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (WMDs) in Iraq, then "lost" them when the team was killed by so-called "friendly fire."

The Pentagon whistleblower, Nelda Rogers, is a 28-year veteran debriefer for the Defense Department. She has become so concerned for her safety that she decided to tell the story about this latest CIA-military fiasco in Iraq. According to Al Martin Raw.com, "Ms. Rogers is number two in the chain of command within this DoD special intelligence office. This is a ten-person debriefing unit within the central debriefing office for the Department of Defense."

The information that is being leaked out is information "obtained while she was in Germany heading up the debriefing of returning service personnel, involved in intelligence work in Iraq for the Department of Defense and/or the Central Intelligence Agency. "According to Ms. Rogers, there was a covert military operation that took place both preceding and during the hostilities in Iraq," reports Al Martin Raw.com, an online subscriber-based news/analysis service which provides "Political, Economic and Financial Intelligence."

I was a bit leery of this information and was not going to bother with this post, but then I Googled Nelda Rogers. You can also call her, "Pentagon Whistleblower."

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This may be nothing, but...

We should definitely take this with a grain of salt but the Mehr News Agency is reporting the following:

(emphasis added)

TEHRAN (Mehr News Agency) – Over the past few days, in the wake of the bombings in Karbala and the ideological disputes that delayed the signing of Iraq’s interim constitution, there have been reports that U.S. forces have unloaded a large cargo of parts for constructing long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the southern ports of Iraq.

A reliable source from the Iraqi Governing Council, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Mehr News Agency that U.S. forces, with the help of British forces stationed in southern Iraq, had made extensive efforts to conceal their actions.

He added that the cargo was unloaded during the night as attention was still focused on the aftermath of the deadly bombings in Karbala and the signing of Iraq’s interim constitution.

The source said that in order to avoid suspicion, ordinary cargo ships were used to download the cargo, which consisted of weapons produced in the 1980s and 1990s.

He mentioned the fact that the United States had facilitated Iraq’s WMD program during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq and said that some of the weapons being downloaded are similar to those weapons, although international inspectors had announced Saddam Hussein’s Baath regime had destroyed all its WMD.

The source went on to say that the rest of the weapons were probably transferred in vans to an unknown location somewhere in the vicinity of Basra overnight.

“Most of these weapons are of Eastern European origin and some parts are from the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. The U.S. obtained them through confiscations during sales of banned arms over the past two decades,” he said.

This action comes as certain U.S. and Western officials have been pointing out the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been discovered in Iraq and the issue of Saddam’s trial begins to take center stage.

Even if there isn't any truth to this, I give them major credit for the propaganda efforts.

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Do you want to check that?

I'm not sure that TSA(Transportation Security Administration) trainees are briefed to look for this type of thing when checking bags. But I can't help but wonder what it would look like in the x-ray machine.

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Perfect together

Keyshawn Johnson is now a Dallas Cowboy. Keyshawn will be reunited with Bill Parcells who he played for with two seasons on the New York Jets. The Cowboys acquired Johnson in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Joey Galloway.

Another glorious* chapter in the career of Keyshawn Johnson comes to an end.

*Not really glorious. Johnson was a club house disruption that Buc head coach Jon Gruden is happy to be rid of. Remember the name of Keyshawn's book: Just Gimme the Damn Ball. Enough said.

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Our bad!

I've never been in the military, but from people I've spoken to this type of thing isn't very unusual.

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Friday, March 19, 2004

Eddie Polec, Charles McCoy Jr. & 911 dispatchers

This post over at Cosmic Iguana details the citizen in Las Vegas who was trying to alert authorities about the presence of suspected Columbus, Ohio highway sniper Charles McCoy Jr.. Apparently, "it took a dozen calls over a ten hour period, to get some action."

This reminded me of a situation that happened here in Philadelphia 10 years ago. This link will give details about the murder of 16-year old Eddie Polec and the related 911 dispatcher problems:

In the aftermath of the Polec murder, tapes of calls to Philadelphia 911 revealed that a series of callers had been warning authorities about a gang of baseball bat-wielding kids for nearly 45 minutes before Polec was attacked. Some of the 911 operators weren't familiar enough with suburban Philadelphia to recognize where the trouble was, and others simply hung up on the callers who were trying to convey the urgency of the situation. "Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute," shouted one operator to a caller who was checking to make sure he'd been heard correctly. "I have the information. You can hang up now," cutting the conversation, and Eddie Polec's chances of survival, dead.

Apparently, this kind of thing happens often. Problems arise from crank calls, switching technology to make it easier to dial 911 from a cell phone and poorly chosen, underpaid dispatchers. Problems of this nature have been documented nationally and at the state level.

How many more tragedies or near tragedies have to happen before this becomes a federal issue?

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Bush's Week

Everywhere you turn, newspapers, pundits and political commentators are saying this past week was a fantastic week for the Campaign of President Bush. One thing they leave out is a lot of it was due to a couple of Kerry stumbles and that his upturn was strictly on his domestic agenda (e.g. making points with voters.) Of course, as Kevin Drum points out, we are still in a bit of trouble overseas.

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Webster Definition

NCAA Tournament Pool-(n) a.Your donation to the person in the office, who hasn't seen a basketball game since Magic beat Larry in '79, and still picks three out of the final four
b. An opportunity to join Martha at the club.

At least this is how I feel after day one and, happily, I didn't pick the Spiders.

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A, relatively, near miss around 5pm yesterday as a 100-foot-diameter rock passed within 26,500 miles of the Earth.

The cursing you may have heard was Ann Coulter wondering aloud when one of these things is going to hit the New York Times Building.

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Thursday, March 18, 2004

Bin Laden cornered?

How politically inconvenient for the Bush Administration. It would be of more use if they have a six-month standoff so he's caught during the Republican Convention.

UPDATE: It looks like it's Bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, that's cornered. Details here.

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Scalia Recusal

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recusing himself from the case he is scheduled to hear on whether Cheney must release his Energy Task Force records.

The verdict is in: What conflict of interest?

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The Campaign Trail and Revisiting $87 billion

Yesterday John Kerry continued to question the support the Bush Administration is giving our soldiers in the Middle East and our reasons for going to war. Vice President Dick Cheney fired back a few hours later. Cheney called into question Kerry voting against the $87 billion dollar 'Iraqi Supplemental Bill' for Halliburton Iraqi reconstruction and support of our troops. Wesley Clark joined the fray as well, calling Cheney's remarks, "unwarranted & unjustified."

Since we are going to hear plenty about the $87 Billion dollars in the coming months let's review again what it was actually intended to do and what Ted Kennedy (one of only 12 Senators to vote against the bill) had to say about it in October 2003:

All the administration's rationalizations as we prepared to go to war now stand revealed as "double talk." The American people were told Saddam Hussein was building nuclear weapons. He was not. We were told he had stockpiles of other weapons of mass destruction. He did not. We were told he was involved in 9/11. He was not. We were told Iraq was attracting terrorists from al Qaeda. It was not. We were told our soldiers would be viewed as liberators. They are not. We were told Iraq could pay for its own reconstruction. It cannot. We were told the war would make America safer. It has not. . . .

So when the roll is called on this $87 billion legislation, which provides no effective conditions for genuine international participation and a clear change in policy in Iraq, I intend to vote no. A no vote is not a vote against supporting our troops. It is a vote to send the administration back to the drawing board. It is a vote for a new policy -- [a] policy worthy of the sacrifice our soldiers are making, a policy that restores America as a respected member of the family of nations, a policy that will make it easier, not far more difficult, to win the war against terrorism.

The amount of money is huge. It is 87 times what the federal government spends annually on after-school programs. It is seven times what President Bush proposed to spend on education for low-income schools in 2004. It is nine times what the federal government spends on special education each year. It is eight times what the government spends to help middle- and low-income students go to college. It is 15 times what the government spends on cancer research. It is 27 times what the government spends on substance abuse and mental health treatment. . . .

Here at home, all Americans are being asked to bear the burden, too -- and they deserve more than a phony summons to support our troops by pursuing policies that will only condemn them to greater and greater danger. Yes, we must stay the course -- but not the wrong course.

I look forward to the day when our nominee will debate with the President about the direction our country is going and the President's policies on pre-emptive war, unilateralism and out-sourcing. If any lessons were learned, the outcome could very well be different.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Real World Axes Philly

Just three weeks before taping was to begin on the 15th season of the MTV show Real World the producers have abruptly pulled out.

The Philadelphia Inquirer has the details.

After squabbling with local unions, the producers of the MTV series yesterday gave up on Philadelphia as the site of its 15th season. Taping was to begin in three weeks.

"After considerable evaluation, we are disappointed to announce that Bunim/Murray Productions has decided not to shoot The Real World in Philadelphia," a spokeswoman for the company said yesterday afternoon. She declined to elaborate.

MTV's selection of Philadelphia was accompanied by unbridled civic rejoicing when it was announced Feb. 26. City leaders believed that The Real World, with its huge audience of 12-to-34-year-olds, would boost the city's cool factor and help it retain recent college graduates.

But within four days, Bunim/Murray had incurred the wrath of the unions by hiring a nonunion company to renovate the former Seamen's Church Institute in Old City, where the cast was to live.

The series had sidestepped organized labor in 13 previous cities, including union strongholds New York City, Chicago and Boston, without incident.

"Every other production company comes in, sits down and bargains," said Tony Frasco, vice president of Teamsters Local 107, whose members drive and unload vehicles. "The unions are not out to gouge anybody, but this is a union town."

It's a matter of "preserving the way of life in Philadelphia," said Pat Gillespie, business manager of the Philadelphia Building Trades Council.

Sharon Pinkenson, head of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, worked years to bring The Real World to town. She said she had been aware that Bunim/Murray wanted to go nonunion.

"I recommended that they speak with other producers of nonunion reality television" who had worked here, Pinkenson said. She said work rules in reality TV tend to be looser.

Pinkenson said she did not know if Bunim/Murray sought the advice of those producers.

The MTV series' high profile may have heightened the unions' interest. When it came time to set up the building, next to the Betsy Ross House at Third and Arch Streets, Bunim/Murray hired a construction company that had been picketed by the carpenters at other job sites. That set off fireworks.

They never learn. Trying to bypass Philadelphia unions is not a smart idea. I think back to the uproar during the NFL strike in the 80s when union members stood outside Veteran's Stadium(RIP this Sunday) and called the players, "scabs" and the fans who entered the Vet to watch them play, "scab lovers." The "scab" moniker is the Fleur-de-Lis in this city. Once you claim that title, you can never shake it.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

GITMO Trouble Brewing

Remember the four British citizens that were held at Guantanamo Bay for two years as enemy combatants? They were recently released into British custody and were then set free with no charges being filed.

I can't be the only one wondering why, if these Brits were so dangerous, there wasn't even a trial in London. The only reason I can think of is that the Bush Administration will imprison anyone, anywhere at any time for any reason these men are innocent. Regardless, I sense continued frosty relations within the Coalition of the Willing.

Full marks to Atrios for bringing this story to our attention.

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A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls. -Dan Quayle

I've added a link on my blogroll to register.

Please take the time to make sure your voice is heard.

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Anything Else

If you're curious to know why I'm constantly bashing the Bush Administration, take a look at Molly Ivins' latest column and you'll start to get an idea.

It would be funny if it wasn't so damn scary.

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Monday, March 15, 2004

Slipped a Mickey

It seems as though our friend Keith Berry, of Berry's World fame, was a little under the weather recently. He talks abot a tuna sandwich or a fellow California blogger doing some un-Hippocratic voodoo. Personally, I think it's something much more sinister.

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Up North

I just had a wonderful weekend in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine visiting my friends Don, Alex and their kids. I flew in early Friday and came back late Sunday. Trip highlights/observations:

-I have been to Maine several times, but every time I come I forget how wide open and unpopulated the state really is. Flying into Bangor (bolded on any atlas) there was nothing but uninhabited forest all around the "city." I figure if we went down our remains would be discovered sometime around 2008.

-On Saturday we got up e-a-r-l-y and went to the YMCA State Swimming Finals, where my friends' kids were competing. Everyone did great and will collect trophies. It was standing room only with family and friends screaming support for their kids. It wouldn't have been so bad if I wasn't hung over.

-Throughout our travels I met lots of people and am amazed at how quickly how Don & Al have immersed themselves in the community. Alex volunteers as a swim coach and does swimming of her own (more on this in a sec) and Don invites neighbors over to hang out (READ: drink beer.) They're amazing people and I'm so happy they've carved out such a great niche for themselves in Maine.

-After a great dinner on Saturday at Abel Blood's with Mr. Spaten we woke on Sunday and went with Alex to another swim meet where she competed in the Maine masters division. She did well but I was amazed at the age of some of the competitors. I watched an 87 year old man race. He was amazing. It makes me want to get into shape and start swimming. Inspirational.

-After my good-byes I went to the airport where there were hundreds of soldiers who were shipping out to Iraq. I spoke to a commander for a little while and he wasn't concentrating on the negatives, only doing his job and getting his kids home safe. But looking at them, wow, they couldn't have been more than 18 or 19. Puts things into perspective.

I have much more to share and will do so soon. A day off today and I have lots to do, including working on the blandness of this forum.

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Friday, March 12, 2004

Arsenal to play Chesea in CL Quarters

WI-FI at the airport. Fantastic concept.

In a bit of "anti-climax" Arsenal have drawn Chelsea in the next phase of the Champions League. This match-up ensures a Premiership team and a London club will reach the semi-finals. The winner of this home and home has the potential to play Real Madrid in the Semis who face Monaco. Real has Zidane, Raul & Beckham and are widely considered to be one of the best attacking teams within the continent, if not the world. They are also weak in the back.

Arsenal-Real would be a match-up for the ages. Now Chelsea has to do their part. It would be a shame if their "Dan Snyder" move didn't pay off.

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North Maine Woods

It 's 4:30am on Friday morning, baby L didn't sleep so good last night. I'm jumping on the grenade now and letting C get some rest. L and I are watching infomercials (can't find remote). We just were pitched the $859 knife set for 3 EASY payments of $13.99. That total comes to only $41.97 so they're not making any money, unless the knives are of INFERIOR QUALITY. But that would never happen...

Very light posting this weekend as I am heading to Maine to visit friends (and their kids, the origins of UHH.) I hope to find some wireless ports along the way. Although, I'm not sure ME even has electricity so we may be SOL.

Things I'll be checking on this weekend:

-Arsenal traveling to Blackburn, where the Gunners lost last season. I think the majic number for clinching the premiership is only four or five games

-Hoping Kerry still refuses to apologize for his "crooked & liar" comments about the Bush Administration. Denny Hastert has already come out with the "holier than thou" presser. Hypocrite!

-NCAA Selection Sunday will bring March Madness and after a champ is crowned, MLB Opening Day will be here. The green grass....day games.......unnaturally bulging biceps

-Which brings us to their problem: I really hope the MLBPA comes to there senses and allows SERIOUS testing before they get regulated like a bad policy.

-Finally, I've been over two weeks without a smoke and I will undoubtedly be tilting a fine New England lager or two. We'll see how my new found discipline hold up...

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, March 11, 2004

Are you kidding me?

This was to good to pass up.Enjoy.

"And there is, I am certain, among the Iraqi people a respect for the care and the precision that went into the bombing campaign."

- Donald Rumsfeld, defenselink.mil, 04-09-03

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."

- George W. Bush, discussing Kosovo, Houston Chronicle, 04-09-99

Thanks to Tena, guest-blogging for Atrios, for posting this.

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Bertuzzi Fries, But Not Enough

Steve Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks has been suspended for the rest of the regular season for a hit on Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche (formerly the Quebec Nordiques.) Moore suffered lacerations on his head and a broken neck.

This is a complete wimp-out by the no-balls, chicken shit NHL The seemingly harsh ban for the rest of the season only amounts to 17 games (if the Canucks have a first round playoff exit.) Steve Moore is still in the hospital wondering if he'll ever play again and Bertuzzi will be in training camp next year.

If I'm Moore I'm filing charges against this ogre posthaste.

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Arsenal Through!

Evidently, Arsenal were barely tested in their 2-0 defeat of Celta Vigo last night. They move to the Champions League quarters with a 5-2 aggregate win, on the strength of three away goals. What makes it all so satisfying is that ManUre were bounced on Tuesday by Porto. That's a shame.

If you've read this far, perhaps your ready to read a little further.

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Finally. Will the MLBPA cave? Do they have a choice?

It looks as though our government is finally getting involved with the scandal that threatens Major League Baseball.

Congress will act if Major League Baseball's leaders fail to strengthen and expand the sport's drug-testing policy, Sen. John McCain said Wednesday.

McCain, R-Ariz., said during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing that he did not know which legislative steps could be imposed on baseball, but "we will have to act some way unless the major league players union acts in the affirmative and rapid fashion."

I've spoken to some people who don't think this is a problem.
They need to have a look at Jeff Bagwell.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Unfortunately, not a joke

If you support free speech read this NOW.

This has the makings of a huge legal battle. If they succeed do you think it will actually help BushCo, after all of the MEDIA coverage?

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The only thing he does like Clinton

It turns out the President is having guests in the White House, including campaign contributors in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Where is the outrage? I seem to remember when Clinton/Gore did this there was major media coverage and GOP pols screaming for investigations. It doesn't look as though the shoe will ever get to the other foot.

But if it does, you can read about the bob n' weave here.

sample questions/interactions from the daily press gaggle
Scott, Can I have a follow up?
Scott, You didn't answer my question.
Scott, You're saying that the president will spend more than one hour with the Chair and Vice Chair?
Scott, that doesn't answer my question.
Scott, perhaps I should rephrase it...

If you have the time go to the Press Briefing web site. It's amazing how Scott McClellan can stick to the talking points when the media smells blood in the water. Although it probably just seems worse (from the Administration's perspective) when you read it.

Kind of like Dan Dierdorf on Monday Night Football with the Closed Captioning turned on.

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CIA Director contradicts Cheney

George Tenet, in comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee, disputed VP Cheney's assertion that Iraq had weapon stockpiles and whether there existed a relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida leader Osama Bin-Laden.

During the hearing Carl Levin and Edward Kennedy pressed Tenet hard on White House assertions about pre-war claims. This will not help the relations between the Administration and the intelligence community. It looks as though this is turning into a "He said He said" fiasco. If they're not careful this will start to steal the spotlight from Bush's stellar re-election campaign.

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Behold: FUNYUNS!

A very funny "review" of the nasty step-child in the Frito-LayFamily.

The snack that nobody talks about.

Kudos to Josh Marshall for Googling Funnyuns.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Krugman: Picture=1,000 words

For those familiar with Paul Krugman this article and chart shouldn't be much of a surprise. A world class economist painting a picture that makes it easy for the layman to understand. This couldn't be much clearer. The Bush Administration has been badly miscalculating job creation and, hopefully, this will a main talking point of the campaign.

George W. Bush still has a net job loss during his presidency. Let's make it one term.

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Child Logic

I have three sons. Ages 9(J), 8(D) and 10 months(L). I just heard this as I made dinner:

J: Why do you always want to play with me?
L: Because you never let me play with you.

I'm forever amazed by these kids.

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"A Shocking Stumble"

As John Kerry continues to hammerPresident Bush on a variety of issues the current administration isn't doing itself any favors by using actors as firemen in their current campaign commercials.

It's still very early, but some polls show the race very close in swing states.

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Should You Have to Go Up the River

In light of Martha's recent conviction on four counts of stock fraud/insider trading there has been a flurry of activity in the media. I've seen an hour network TV show on Martha: What's Next, hundreds of column inches devoted to her legal exploits and covers of national magazines. So, after all of that coverage, it's no surprise that some old stand-bys get trotted out.

But lets ask ourselves, is there really a best place to go to prison?

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Monday, March 08, 2004

From the 'I Have No Idea' Department

According to a recent edition of the newsletter, Inside Michigan Politics, John Ramsey is considering a run for the Michigan House of Representatives. If you don't know the name, you need to watch much more tabloid television. He is the father of murdered child pageant star JonBenet. John and his wife Patricia were all over the tabloids in 1996 after their daughter was slain. That case remains unsolved.

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Arsenal into the Semi-Final draw!

A wonderful description of Arsenal's expolits from all thingsfootie.com. Evidently, the Arsenal performance wasn't the only thing magical on Saturday at Portsmouth.

More from Arsene Wenger's email to supporters,

"Saturday's 5-1 win at Portsmouth was a wonderful result for us. But it was even more enjoyable to hear the opposition fans cheering our team. I have not seen that before."

When Le Boss says he hasn't seen it before it must be rare. On my next trip to the U.K. I will definitely be going to see a match at Portsmouth. Hopefully this will be before the opening of Ashburton Grove.

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Getting Paid!

Congratulations to Kevin Drum at Calpundit who has just announced that he will begin writing a blog for Washington Monthly. I will be updating his URL on my blogroll when he's situated so you can still find him.

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A Good Read

Always a must read is The Hamster, especially on Mondays. Each Monday a choice list of the best comedy, mostly of the late night talk variety. For the un-initiated, this site gathers all of the relevant left-leaning news and presents it in an easy to read (and link to) format. Go check it out.

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Out with Specter

Joe Hoeffel is running for the Senate in PA against longtime GOP Senator/Ira Einhorn attorney Arlen Specter. Early poll numbers show that Specter can be beat. Whatever support you can give to counteract Santorum's votes would be appreciated.

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Sunday, March 07, 2004

Houston Social Event of the Year (Besides a Ken Lay Perp Walk)

So you're just chillin' trying to do your important job and one day your brother calls and says, "Bro! I'm getting married again! I met this great lady who volunteers with Mom." Your reaction is, screw you and you tell your other brother (who is also somewhat self-important) not to go either.

A family that lies, cheats & steals together...

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Under Construction

I'm messing around with the style and color a little. Hopefully when I'm finished you'll still be able to read it. Please ignore the fuschia background. Thanks.

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Still Smoke Free!

It's been a while since an update, so I'm happy to report that it's been almost two weeks since my last, "coffin nail." I suppose my lack of "journaling" about being smoke free is a solid testament as to how good I feel. I know I have miles to go, especially since I haven't tilted a beer or CapnCoke since my last smoke. There will be bumps along the way but I'm now starting to feel like a non-smoker. Each breath is less wheezy than the last and I can definitely taste and smell better too! I highly recommend quitting.

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Saturday, March 06, 2004

Can I Pull It Off?

My wife called me earlier this evening from the North Texas Irish Festival, where she has gone for the weekend to see her sisters and friends, and asked if I wanted a gift.

I'm not sure what my work's dress code says about this but it's more likely I'd wear it around the house late at night.

Very late at night.

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The media will take care of itself

Below are "10 Rules to Rule By" courtesy of David Swanson.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's oil or public services unless your neighbor is a Muslim or your campaign funding is on the line.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness unless it helps you start a war.

8. Thou shalt not steal unless you let the European corporations have a little too.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery!!!

6. Thou shalt not kill but it's OK to force poor people to kill and be killed if it helps the corporations and if you don't let anyone see the bodies.

5. Honour thy father and thy mother – besides they don't NEED Social Security.

4. Never work on a Sunday. This rule is not to be construed as in any way stipulating a requirement to work on any particular day or days that is not or are not Sundays.

3. Don't talk back to Karl.

2. Don't get too attached to stuff, cause you can always buy another one.

And the number one Rule to Rule By:

1. Don't listen to nobody else when Karl ain't around.

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Portsmouth ran into the buzzsaw that is Arsenal on Satuday as the Gunners scored three first half goals, and coasted to a 5-1 victory to enter the draw for the FA Cup semi-finals. It also keeps alive their bid for the treble.

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I don't want him

Terrell Owens calls himself, "unemployed" at the moment after he was traded by the 49ers to the Baltimore Ravens. It turns out TO wants to play for the Eagles and will refuse to play for the Ravens.

This guy is a joke. Send him to Dallas...

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Friday, March 05, 2004

Is Ari Fleisher really better than Scott?

Bad Attitudes has a nice quote from LBJ at the end of this post about Scott McClellan's amazing ability not to answer any reporter's question regarding the 9/11 imagery in the Preznit's campaign ad.

McClellan isn't the only one in the administration who's shoveling it. See the brand new 'tricky dick.'

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Martha Stewart Elated...

...to find she's nominated for six daytime Emmy awards. The jury is still deliberating her criminal case regarding her dumping of ImClone stock. If convicted on all counts, Stewart faces a maximum five-year prison term for each of the four charges against her.

Doesn't a Chocolate Mousse with a shiv sound delicious?

UPDATE: Stewart guilty on all four counts.

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Kucinich Steps to the Plate

Berry's World raises an interesting point with a comparison of the Bush Campaign's ad showing a fleeting 9/11 image and a Dennis Kucinich ad currently running:

"The ad flashes a series of names of soldiers who have been killed in the Iraq war, and says that, basically, we invaded for Haliburton, Bechtel, and numerous other companies who found themselves in the awkward position of reaping millions and millions and millions of dollars from the war after being very, very, very financially friendly to the sitting President and Vice President."

Berry's post has several vulgar responses from right leaning websites to Kunicich's ad.

But if you think about it, that is the ONLY time we've seen body bags come back from Iraq. Bush/Rove blacked out the media coverage of our killed soldiers coming back to Dover AFB. Why is that? Politically inconvenient? Send the wrong message?

Why can't the President go to JUST ONE funeral of a fallen Iraqi soldier?

You could accuse Kucinich of poor taste, but that's all. You could also argue with documentation that Kucunich is 100% correct.

Woodward said it during the evening of Super Tuesday on CNN. Our President has done more to unite democrats than anyone in the last 40 years (I'll give some credit to Dean too.)

It seems that when the Dems play the same game as the GOP, the right cries foul. Guess what?

There's plenty more where that comes from.

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