Monday, February 28, 2005


Peter Benenson, a British lawyer whose outrage over the imprisonment of two Portuguese students for drinking a toast to liberty spawned the human rights organization Amnesty International in 1961, died Friday in a hospital in Oxford, England.

The Washington Post obituary shows that Benenson was always putting the cause of human rights before his personal aggrandizement:

Almost every British prime minister in the past 40 years has offered to recommend him for knighthood, but he responded to each with a personal letter suggesting "if they truly wished to honor his work, they would clean up their own backyard first, and then he would set out a litany of human rights violations the British government was complicit in," said Kate Gilmore, the deputy secretary general of Amnesty International. "It was a clever and inspired pitch, and it was heartfelt. In an era of ego and self-aggrandizement, it was almost hard to conceive that such a man . . . had such a worldwide impact."
Despite the regressive Right's repeated assertions that they are for all things freedom and liberty, for some reason, they have not stepped up to honor Benenson, a man who dedicated his life to advocating freedom and liberty:

[Amnesty International] shows no favor to the West; it regularly criticizes the United States for its military operations and prison executions.


[W]hen Mr. Benenson began, there were few international legal standards that would hold governments to account for violations of the United Nations' 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but there are now conventions against torture and other egregious acts.
Of course, those conventions no longer apply in George Bush's America.

But, if you want to light a candle rather than curse the darkness -- and there is no reason you can't do both -- you can contribute to Amnesty International here:

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Colorado's Ralph scored an exclusive interview with Jay Marvin, who left WLS for Boulder's KKZN:
Ralph: What are you going to miss about Chicago?
Jay: I've worked in Chicago three times in my career. I don't think I'll miss much of anything.

Monday, February 21, 2005


Hunter S. Thompson
July 18, 1937 - February 20, 2005

Bill Dennis at Peoria Pundit was reading my mind when he said, "I didn't realize until after I heard of Hunter's suicide how much of a debt I owe the man for the style and content of my blog."

"When the going gets weird, the weird go pro start a blog."

We will miss you Uncle Duke.

Friday, February 18, 2005


John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer and Stephanie Tubbs-Jones announced a new comprehensive Democratic plan to finally fix our crazy-quilt election system. They proposed:
  1. a federal holiday for Election Day,
  2. a paper receipt for every ballot cast,
  3. the right to register to vote on election day,
  4. and other common-sense measures to be enacted by the 2006 midterms.
Kerry said, "This has to nothing to do with the question of the outcome of 2004 (election). This has everything to do with full civil rights of Americans. Period."

The Republicans have proposed their own voting bill that would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot and -- wait for it, WAIT FOR IT -- establish a pilot program for the use of Iraqi-style finger-inking at U.S. polling places.

No, I'm not kidding.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


From Editor and Publisher:
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was so concerned about Talon News reporter James Guckert's potential ties to the Republican Party that he stopped calling on him at press briefings for about a week in 2003, Fleischer told E&P today.

"I found out that he worked for a GOP site, and I didn't think it was my place to call on him because he worked for something that was related to the party," Fleischer said in a phone interview. "He had the editor call me and made the case that they were not related to the Republican Party. He said they used the GOP name for marketing purposes only." ***

Fleischer said he did not know much about Guckert and could not recall exactly when he started covering press briefings. He said he played no part in approving Guckert's requests for daily press credentials (which were handled by his office) and could offer no further comment on that.

But he said he did not know at the time that Guckert had been using a false name and did not know if Scott McClellan, now press secretary but then Fleischer's aide, had known then either. "It came as a surprise to me, because I always knew him as Jeff Gannon," he said. ***

Even Guckert's ties to several sex Web sites and allegations that he worked as a male prostitute should not necessarily keep him or any other reporter out, Fleischer said. "The last thing our nation needs is for anyone in the White House to concern themselves with the private lives of reporters," he said. "What right does the White House have to decide who gets to be a reporter based on private lives?"
I've tried and I've tried to figure out why Ari is speaking out on this Guckert/Gannon affair...

Ari didn't say that he thought G/G was a legitimate journalist. Instead, he said that he thought that G/G was a fake reporter early on and stopped calling on him for that reason.

Ari didn't say he knew that G/G was working under a false name. Rather he expressly denied knowing that G/G was leading a double life.

Ari didn't take reponsiblity for greenlighting G/G's presence in the presidential press pool, thereby taking a bullet for the folks still working in the White House. Instead he said he didn't know nuthin' 'bout no James Guckert.

And Ari didn't absolve little Scott McClellan, his former aide, either. Nope, he said he didn't know what McClellan may or may not have known about G/G's secrets.

So what message is Ari trying to put out about his role in G/G affair?

My guess: "I did not have professional relations with that man, Mr. Guckert"


Bad news from the AP:
Production on "Arrested Development" has been arrested. Fox is halting production after 18 episodes - four shy of the usual 22. And that brings the season - and maybe the series - to a premature end on April 17.

"Arrested Development" has been honored all over the place with an Emmy as best comedy and a Golden Globe for Jason Bateman. But apparently, that's not enough to get people to watch.

During this second season, "Arrested Development" is averaging 6 million viewers a week. That's down from last season's average audience of 6.2 million.

And although it's apples and oranges since "American Dad" aired Super Bowl night, compare that with the "American Dad" preview that drew 15 million viewers.
It is also apples and oranges since "Arrested Development" is smart and funny -- and "American Dad" was assembled using ideas found in the dumpster behind Seth MacFarlane's apartment.


"You should join us on the 'fringe.'" -- Eric Zorn

EZ couldn't have known that his innocent response to my e-mail regarding bloggers and others in "fringe media" would lead to the mighty So-Called "Austin Mayor" media empire that you see before you.

Although my first post went up on February 10, 2004, the first of any substance was posted one year ago today.

I'm now sure that Mr. Zorn's response was merely a desperate attempt to redirect my poorly conceived rants away from his e-mail in-box, but it was sufficient encouragement to spur me to start this blog.

So if you are reading this thinking "Maybe I could do that" -- or "This guy sucks!" -- you too should join us on the fringe.

Now, where's my cake?


In Lynn Sweet's column in you Chicago Sun-Times, Denny Hastert admits it won't be easy to take back Melissa Bean's seat:
"It is the best Republican seat in the whole state of Illinois,'' Hastert told me. Noting how hard it is to beat an incumbent, the speaker said, "And once someone has possession of a seat like that, no matter what the numbers are, it is not always easy to take it back.

"I think we need to find the best candidate, and I think we need to have a lot of folks who are interested in it come forward and present their case.''
Sweet thinks that Hastert's decision let Republican candidates fight it out for the opportunity to take on Bean -- rather than to rally Illinois GOPers behind one strong candidate -- works to Bean's advantage.

It should also work to the advantage of Democrat Christine Cegelis' campaign to take the 6th District seat currently occupied by Henry Hyde. No doubt, both Bean and Cegelis will be pleased to have Hastert and the Illinois Republican power-brokers split their support among several hopefuls, while the Democrats get behind their two proven candidates.

Sweet also says that Rahm Emanuel, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chief, again needled Hastert, noting that Denny's comment "sounds a little close to throwing in the towel.''

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


From Las Vegas Review-Journal:
The young Nevada man designated to chair the upcoming 2005 Young Republican National Convention in Las Vegas has been accused of embezzling registration fees from around the country to pay off bar tabs, personal loans and credit card debts.

Nevada's national committeeman for Young Republicans filed a criminal complaint Monday with the Reno Police Department alleging Nathan Taylor received more than $25,000 in registration fees and donations through his corporation, YRNC 2005, and spent almost all of it in the past year for personal use. ***

The complaint also includes a bank statement showing withdrawals from the YRNC 2005 account at Bully's bar in Carson City, at a PF Chang's restaurant, at Shell Oil, at Mandalay Bay and twice for $200 in cash during a 30-day period. ***

Taylor said the bar tabs were related to special events he hosted in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and Austin, Texas, last year marketing the 2005 convention.

"There were travel expenses, airplanes and cab rides and some of the meals were expensed," Taylor said. "All of the costs were associated with putting on the convention."
As yet, there is no word from the White House on when the Bush administration will offer Taylor a cabinet post.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." -- Jesus, Matthew 25:35-36

"No administration since [Lyndon B. Johnson's] has had a more successful legislative record than this one. From tax cuts to Medicare, the White House gets what the White House really wants. It never really wanted the 'poor people stuff.' " -- David Kuo, former Special Assistant to George W. Bush and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

More via the Washington Post:
Kuo said [in his column] it was "a dream come true for me" when Bush promised in 2000 that in his first year in office he would provide $6 billion in tax incentives for private charitable giving, $1.7 billion for groups that care for the poor and $200 million for a Compassion Capital Fund to assist local faith-based organizations.

"Sadly, four years later these promises remain unfulfilled in spirit and in fact," he wrote.

In June 2001, the promised tax incentives were stripped at the last minute from the $1.6 trillion tax cut legislation "to make room for the estate-tax repeal that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy," Kuo said. The Compassion Capital Fund has received a cumulative total of $100 million in the past four years, and new programs for children of prisoners, at-risk youth and prisoners reentering society have received a little more than $500 million over four years, he said.

"Unfortunately, sometimes even the grandly-announced 'new' programs aren't what they appear," Kuo wrote, citing as an example the three-year $150 million "gang prevention" effort Bush announced in this year's State of the Union address. In reality, Kuo said, that money is being taken out of the "already meager" $100 million request for the Compassion Capital Fund.
(emphasis added)

Monday, February 14, 2005


"I don't belong in Chicago; I belong in New York." -- Neil Steinberg, New York Daily News, February 13, 2005

"You can't be too big of a bastard in this business." -- Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times, February 14, 2005


The AP says Sen. Tom Harkin is encouraging people concerned about child slavery to steer clear of chocolate until manufacturers address forced child labor in the Ivory Coast and other cocoa-producing countries of West Africa.

Harkin says negotiations with the industry have "nearly collapsed'' and that the goal of a public accounting of labor practices in cocoa-growing countries by July will not be met.
West Africa is one of the biggest cocoa producing regions in the world, with 43% of the world’s coca beans coming from the Ivory Coast alone. There are more than 600,000 small farms producing cocoa beans in the Ivory Coast, many in the remote parts of the country. Local human rights activists in the Ivory Coast estimate that as many as 90% of cocoa farms use forced child labor.
Harkin says he is going to buy his wife flowers instead of chocolate but appears that buying roses is not without its moral element either.

And don't get me started on giving gold jewelry to your sweetheart.
Marking the second anniversary of their "No Dirty Gold" campaign, EARTHWORKS and Oxfam America are reminding consumers that the production of a single 18-carat gold ring weighing less than one ounce generates on average at least 20 tonnes of mine waste that may prove very harmful for local communities and the environment. ***

Based on gold-sales projections for the first two weeks of February, the two groups estimate that Valentine's Day sales of gold jewelry in the U.S. will have produced 34 million metric tonnes of waste worldwide.
No chocolate,
no roses,
no jewelry...

It looks like I will have to give my wife a vacuum cleaner again this year.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


From the Advocate:
Maya Keyes -- who maintains that she loves and supports her father and who worked for his failed Senate run -- has come out as a lesbian. Rumors about Maya Keyes's sexuality have swirled since September; Alan Keyes was even asked by Chicago reporters to comment about it, and he gave a nonanswer. ***

Alan Keyes, a "family values" conservative, has told his daughter that she is no longer welcome in the family's Illinois residence, Maya says, and also refused to pay for her to attend Brown University. Maya was accepted by the Ivy League school for fall 2004 but deferred a year to teach in India. ***

Maya Keyes has found a home and assistance to pay for attending Brown University this fall. The Point Foundation--which provides scholarships to GLBT college students with leadership potential, many of whom have been cut off by their families -- stepped in. The group's trustees found Maya a place to stay in Chicago and set up a financial package for her at Brown. She will be provided with a mentor. "She's overwhelmed with everything going on at the moment, and this is one less thing she'll have to worry about," says Vance Lancaster, Point's executive director. "We're thrilled we can help."
The interview also contains this little nugget regarding nutty Al's ongoing crusade to change Illinois:
I can't go home. Although my girlfriend pointed out that if I just refuse to leave my apartment for a few more days, there's not a lot they can do about it. It's not like it was my apartment that my dad was paying for, as so many people have suggested. It was my dad's Illinois residence, so even after I leave it, it'll still be there and be paid for -- it'll just have no one living in it except for a couple days a month when he's back here.
If enough Illinois Republicans click here and donate to Renew America, nutty Al may be able to lead our conservative revolution up to three days a month.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


From Rolling Stone:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in an Op-Ed blaming "conspiracy mongers" for "attempting to scare and mislead young Americans," insisted that "the idea of reinstating the draft has never been debated, endorsed, discussed, theorized, pondered or even whispered by anyone in the Bush administration."

That assertion is demonstrably false. According to an internal Selective Service memo made public under the Freedom of Information Act, the agency's acting director met with two of Rumsfeld's undersecretaries in February 2003 precisely to debate, discuss and ponder a return to the draft. The memo duly notes the administration's aversion to a draft but adds, "Defense manpower officials concede there are critical shortages of military personnel with certain special skills, such as medical personnel, linguists, computer network engineers, etc." The potentially prohibitive cost of "attracting and retaining such personnel for military service," the memo adds, has led "some officials to conclude that, while a conventional draft may never be needed, a draft of men and women possessing these critical skills may be warranted in a future crisis." This new draft, it suggests, could be invoked to meet the needs of both the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.

The memo then proposes, in detail, that the Selective Service be "re-engineered" to cover all Americans -- "men and (for the first time) women" -- ages eighteen to thirty-four. In addition to name, date of birth and Social Security number, young adults would have to provide the agency with details of their specialized skills on an ongoing basis until they passed out of draft jeopardy at age thirty-five.

And with that I would like to send a shout-out to my "So-Called Brother" on his 35th Birthday and to congratulate him on his demographic undesirability.


From Condoleeza Rice's op-ed column in the March 22, 2004 issue of The Washington Post:

The al Qaeda terrorist network posed a threat to the United States for almost a decade before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Throughout that period -- during the eight years of the Clinton administration and the first eight months of the Bush administration prior to Sept. 11 -- the U.S. government worked hard to counter the al Qaeda threat.

During the transition, President-elect Bush's national security team was briefed on the Clinton administration's efforts to deal with al Qaeda. The seriousness of the threat was well understood by the president and his national security principals. In response to my request for a presidential initiative, the counterterrorism team, which we had held over from the Clinton administration, suggested several ideas, some of which had been around since 1998 but had not been adopted. No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration.

From the February 11, 2004 Herald Sun (Australia):
Eight months before the September 11 attacks the White House's then counterterrorism adviser urged then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to hold a high-level meeting on the al-Qaeda network, according to a memo made public today.

"We urgently need such a principals-level review on the al-Qaeda network," then White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke wrote in the January 25, 2001 memo.

Clarke's January 25th memorandum to Rice is available at The National Security Archive.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Congressman Henry Hyde said Thursday he'll decide whether to seek a 17th term by spring, won't resign in mid-term and doesn't plan to endorse a successor if he retires. ***

"I would be reluctant to endorse in my district because there's so many qualified candidates and they're all friends of mine," said Hyde, whose 6th Congressional District includes parts of northwest Cook and much of DuPage counties. ***

Democratic technology consultant Christine Cegelis of Rolling Meadows, who held Hyde to 56 percent of the vote last November despite a lack of money, had a fund-raiser last week to start a second bid. Democrats also could have a primary contest, given the steady succession of Hyde opponents in recent years and the potential to win an open seat in the national battle to control the House.
Hyde said it on Thursday -- so I guess we can expect it to be a Sneed "scoop" on Monday.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


KSTP-TV says Al Franken may announce his intention to run for Mark Dayton's seat on his radio show this morning:

Just one day after U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton decided not to run for a second term, comedian Al Franken may be throwing his hat into the ring.

Last year, Franken said he wanted to run for the Senate in 2008. But last night he told [KSTP] that he is now considering his candidacy for next year.

Franken, a Minnesota native, plans to make an announcement live on his national radio show in Washington D.C. this morning.

If you want to listen in, click here or on the Air America button on the right.

UPDATE: And, doggonit, he's not running.

Citing his two year obligation to Air America, Franken says he will not run for Dayton's seat. But he did leave the door open -- waaaaay open -- for a run in 2008.


Don Wycliff, the Tribune's public editor, addressed the controversy surrounding this "Prickly City" strip:
No truth to the matter

We've had several dust-ups recently over comic strips, so it's probably time for another column on "the funnies." But I need right now to address this week's controversy over the Tribune's decision not to run Monday's "Prickly City" strip.

The action had nothing to do with "protecting" Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) from criticism over the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969 and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, as many letter-writers supposed. Rather, it had to do with the way the strip's creator, Scott Stantis, got to that point.In the first two panels of the Monday strip, one of Stantis' characters sets up the punch line in the last panel by quoting Kennedy as saying during the Condoleezza Rice secretary of state confirmation hearings, "They lied and people died."

As a matter of fact, Kennedy said no such thing -- a fact acknowledged by Stantis. Even in a satirical comic strip, said Geoff Brown, the associate managing editor who oversees the comics, you can't present as fact something that isn't just so it will make a joke work.
"You can't present as fact something that isn't just so it will make a joke work."

That looks like a pretty good policy -- and I hope that the Tribune will apply that policy to more than just the jokes on the comics page.

Consider this Tribune editorial from October 17, 2004:
For three years, Bush has kept Americans, and their government, focused -- effectively -- on this nation's security. The experience, dating from Sept. 11, 2001, has readied him for the next four years, a period that could prove as pivotal in this nation's history as were the four years of World War II.

That demonstrated ability, and that crucible of experience, argue for the re-election of President George W. Bush.
It seems to me that the Tribune should apply its lofty comics page standard to its editorial page and not "present as fact something that isn't" just so it will make a presidential endorsement work.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


From the New York Times:
Last year was the fourth warmest since systematic temperature measurements began around the world in the 19th century, NASA scientists said yesterday.

Particularly high temperatures were measured over Alaska, the Caspian Sea region of Europe and the Antarctic Peninsula, while the United States was unusually cool. But the global average continued a 30-year rise that is "due primarily to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," said Dr. James E. Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in Manhattan.

The main source of such gases is smokestack and tailpipe emissions from burning coal and oil.

The highest global average was measured in 1998, when temperatures were raised by a strong cycle of El Niño in the Pacific Ocean; 2002 and 2003 were second and third warmest.

Dr. Hansen said a weak Niño pattern was likely to make 2005 at least the second warmest year and could push it beyond 1998 and set a record.
From the Sunday Times (UK):
The outgoing chairman of Shell [Lord Oxburgh] has announced he wants to take up a post with a climate-change charity when he quits the oil giant later this year ***

Lord Oxburgh is so concerned at the potential destruction from global warming that he wants to devote more of his time to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels. ***

He believes it is only through taxation, regulation and new technology that the world can have any hope of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Imagine that...

A magical kingdom where executives leave oil companies to try to stop climate-change, rather than where they join the Bush administration in its drive to further line their pockets by keeping our nation ever-dependent on fossil-fuels.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


This morning, the fellas at the Crossblog drew my attention to this Daily Herald story about Joe Birkett possibly running for Illinois governor.

Chris Rhodes said, "I think he'd be a great candidate."

"I must be confused," I thought to myself, "This must be like the George/Jim/Jack Ryan name-thing. It's gotta be a different Joe Birkett."

Nope, same Joe Birkett, DuPage County State's Attorney.

  • The same Joe Birkett that accepted a $10,000 loan -- for his failed attorney general campaign -- from a sitting DuPage county judge.

  • The same Joe Birkett that received more than $50,000 in campaign contributions and another $110, 000 in loans from criminal defense attorneys and firms that cut plea bargains with his office.

  • The same Joe Birkett that struck a deal -- no prison, just time served and probation -- with the attorney of a man whose wife was hospitalized with second-degree burns after he repeatedly threw her into a fire. The attorney's firm had donated $8,300 to Birkett since 1998.

  • The same Joe Birkett that was chief of the major crimes unit in the office of the DuPage County State's Attorney from 1985 to 1986, deputy chief of the criminal division from 1986 to 1991 and chief of the criminal division from 1991 to 1996. During Birkett's watch, Rolando Cruz was twice tried and convicted for the 1983 rape and murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico. A third trial ended in acquittal after DNA evidence proved that Cruz was innocent and pointed to another man, Brian Dugan, who was already serving life in prison for a similar murder. Dugan admitted to killing Nicarico, but Birkett -- now DuPage County State's Attorney -- has taken no steps to prosecute the confessed killer.

I agree with Rhodes, Joe Birkett would be a great Republican candidate for governor.

The opportunity to vote against Birkett would allow even Blagorgeous' harshest Democratic critics to pull the lever for him with a clear conscience.

Monday, February 07, 2005


Fans of humorless, muddy scrawling were dismayed to find the following message in today's Tribune: "Today's Prickly City strip does not meet the Chicago Tribune's standards of fairness."

Here is the strip that was deemed "Too Hot for the Trib":

My primary concern isn't the dusty attack on Teddy Kennedy, but that the drawings are so crude that I didn't realize that there were three characters in the strip until I had looked at it several times.

It seems that the punch line was delivered by a lizard and not by a dog wearing an elaborate headdress.

Friday, February 04, 2005


Dateline: Red America

From the Grand Forks Herald:
Brian O'Shea of East Grand Forks stood outside the Bison Sports Arena in a protest group yelling slogans at the 7,000 people filing in to see President George W. Bush.

O'Shea was among those on a so-called "black list" of people banned from the event. The list, which included a group of Democratic party activists that O'Shea had organized a couple of years ago, was a big topic among protesters and a curiosity to Bush supporters lined up for blocks around the arena.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead published the list Thursday, which their sources said was a list of those who were to be banned from getting tickets. Neither White House officials nor state Republican officials confirmed the existence of the list, and Gov. John Hoeven's staff said no one had been denied tickets.

About 33 of the 42 were members of something called the Fargo-Moorhead Democracy for America Meetup Group. The group's Web site says the group has 141 members who describe themselves as a "Local Progressive" organization, dedicated to "electing fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidates in the Fargo/Moorhead area."

Others on the list were people who had simply written letters to the editor of the Forum, criticizing Bush policies.

"I think it's ridiculous, if you publicly express your freedom of speech, if you write or talk against the president's policies, that you're banned from being here," said O'Shea, a political science major at Minnesota State University-Moorhead, whose family lives in East Grand Forks. "It's a strange way to promote democracy, by not promoting civil discourse."
The Fargo Forum provides a full list of those banned from seeing the President of the United States. Here's a sampling:
Eric Bobby: The Fargo man wrote a letter to The Forum last fall asking, "Doesn't anyone see how this (Bush) administration is attacking everything we cherish while our country is the most vulnerable?" ***

Tim Borchers: The associate professor of communication, film studies and theatre arts at Minnesota State University Moorhead gave Bush "Cs" for clarity and support of his claims in the 2003 State of the Union address. Borchers was asked to rate Bush's speech with two other area speech instructors for a Forum article. ***

Linda Coates: The Fargo city commissioner wrote a letter to The Forum in November saying, "When the richest 2 percent of Americans are showered with huge tax cuts during wartime while our children and grandchildren are stuck with the tab - that's morally wrong." ***

Mark Folse: The Fargo man wrote a letter to The Forum in November saying Bush has created greater division of the country than ever. ***

Annie Krapu: The Fargo Shanley High School senior helped organize a youth rally in October against the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions. ***

Chad Raymond: The Fargo man wrote a letter to The Forum in December saying, "If you think separation of church and state is a bad idea, you've got an ally in that thinking: his name is Osama bin Laden." ***

Nathan Schoenack: The Moorhead man wrote a letter to The Forum last spring calling the Bush administration's reasons to go to war "disingenuous at best, if not outright lies." ***

Cara Taylor: The Fargo woman wrote in a 2002 letter to The Forum saying, "The pursuit of equality for people of all orientations may be considered a more noble calling." ***

Jon Offutt: The Fargo man is a glass artist.
Apparently all of North Dakota's freedom has already been rounded-up and is packed away for shipping to Iraq.

(emphasis added)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

"Gimmie a B!!!"

From the Tribune:

Republicans stamped their support of President Bush's foreign policy on their index fingers, passing around a tin of purple stamp ink in homage to Iraqi voters, who marked their fingers similarly Sunday when they cast their ballots.

While both sides of the aisle applauded throughout the speech when Bush mentioned the election in Iraq, GOP members stood and wagged their purple fingers as a clear signal that the election stemmed from their president's campaign for democracy in Iraq.
Meaningless boosterism.

But what else could we expect from supporters of the Cheerleader in Chief?

More: Mark Caro, guest blogger at Eric Zorn's blog, says:

In other words, it took three days for an organic symbol of genuine sacrifice to be appropriated by self-congratulatory politicians.

What land mines and car bombs did these legislators sidestep for the privilege of dipping those fingers in purple ink? Did they symbolically sit at the front of buses during the Civil Rights Movement, too?

Next thing you know, Britney Spears will be sporting a purple finger. Oscar presenters, too. There's nothing like vicariously experiencing someone else's toils on the front lines.

I think that if Caro took a careful look at the smiling faces of Bill Frist, Trent Lott, Rick Santorum, Tom DeLay, et al, he would see that these guys didn't just symbolically sit at the front of the bus during the Civil Rights Movement.

BU** SH**

From the State of the Union:
Because one of the main sources of our national unity is our belief in equal justice, we need to make sure Americans of all races and backgrounds have confidence in the system that provides justice.

In America we must make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit. So we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction.

Soon I will send to Congress a proposal to fund special training for defense counsel in capital cases, because people on trial for their lives must have competent lawyers by their side.
As Governor of Texas, George W. Bush oversaw 152 executions while governor, more than any other governor in the history of the United States.

Bush has expressed his belief that all those executed were guilty, based on "execution summary" memos prepared by Alberto R. Gonzales, even though those memos failed to mention critical mitigating factors, such as the fact that a condemned man's public defender slept through much of his case.

And in the case of Terry Washington, "a brain-damaged and retarded man, Gonzales never informed Bush that Washington's incompetent attorney never called a mental health expert to testify, never advised the jury that his client was retarded or that he had an IQ between 58 and 69 and had been beaten with whips, water hoses, extensions cords, fan belts and wire hangers as a child."

In addition to refusing to intervene on behalf of any of the condemned, Bush mocked and mimicked Karla Faye Tucker's appeals for clemency in an interview with Tucker Carlson for Talk Magazine.

So, if you think -- even for a minute -- that the President gives half-a-damn about wrongful convictions or justice, I have just two words for you: BU** SH**.


Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid:
Too many of the President's economic policies have left Americans and American companies struggling. And after we worked so hard to eliminate the deficit, his policies have added trillions to the debt - in effect, a 'birth tax' of $36,000 on every child that is born. ***

The Bush plan would take our already record high $4.3 trillion national debt and put us another $2 trillion in the red. That's an immoral burden to place on the backs of the next generation.

But maybe most of all, the Bush plan isn't really Social Security reform. It's more like Social Security roulette. Democrats are all for giving Americans more of a say and more choices when it comes to their retirement savings. But that doesn't mean taking Social Security's guarantee and gambling with it. And that's coming from a Senator who represents Las Vegas.
Full text at the Washington Post.

(emphasis added)


"Strong" is to "the State of the Union" as "Accomplished" is to "Mission."

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


5ives, Merlin's lists of five things, presents:

Five congressional terms that sound kind of dirty

  1. Minority Whip
  2. Discretionary appropriations
  3. Filibustering
  4. Discharge petition
  5. Franking privileges

    I can't believe he didn't include "legislative override" or "Senator Santorum."


    To Do List:
    1. Break blog.
    2. Try to fix blog.
    3. Only make problem worse.
    4. Plead for help.

    Tuesday, February 01, 2005


    The Modern Vertibrate, the source of the Maya Keyes rumor that dare not speak its name, posts the following:
    Maya Keyes on the street?

    Someone named Shiva in the comments area of my last post mentioned that Maya Keyes is "out on the streets." It sounds like Maya attended the counter-inaugural protests -- angering her father, who fired her from her job. Now it sounds like she's out of money and rent is due.

    Absolutely heartbreaking.

    Is it possible that Alan Keyes is an even more horrible human being than we previously believed?


    The Los Angeles Times covers a CIA report entitled "Iraq: No Large-Scale Chemical Warfare Efforts Since Early 1990s":
    In what may be a formal acknowledgment of the obvious, the CIA has issued a classified report revising its prewar assessments on Iraq and concluding that Baghdad abandoned its chemical weapons programs in 1991, intelligence officials familiar with the document said.

    The report marks the first time the CIA has officially disavowed its prewar judgments and is one in a series of updated assessments the agency is producing as part of an effort to correct its record on Iraq's alleged weapons programs ***

    The report is based largely on findings by the Iraq Survey Group, a CIA-led team of weapons experts that searched the country for more than a year without finding clear evidence of active illegal weapons programs.

    U.S. intelligence officials have long acknowledged that the prewar assessments were flawed. David Kay, the former head of the search team, told Congress last January, "We were almost all wrong." ***

    The new report from the CIA, which is dated Jan. 18, retreats from the agency's prewar assertions on chemical weapons on almost every front. It concludes that "Iraq probably did not pursue chemical warfare efforts after 1991."
    Thank goodness the CIA confirmed the link between Saddam and 9-11 -- or the Bush invasion of Iraq wouldn't make any sense.

    Uh... nevermind.


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