Wednesday, February 28, 2007

News Roundup

I will be away from the computer all day so here is a round up of some news stories I found interesting this morning.

First of all, you can keep up with the jittery stock market here.

I watched the ABC news special last night with Bob Woodward. It was one of the most touching, sad and informative pieces of journalism I have ever seen. Woodward was badly injured in Iraq by an Improvised Explosive Devise and had half his head blown off. His injury is common among returning veterans and the news special showed his recovery process and, more importantly, that of other soldiers and Marines. My thought while watching it was that President Bush (or any "surge" supporter) should be tied to a chair for an hour and forced to watch the results of their actions. Fortunately, you don't have to be forced. You can voluntarily watch it for free here. Bring some kleenex.

The Washington Post's recent story on the deplorable conditions returning veterans are forced to endure at some parts of the Walter Reed hospital has netted results. Namely, the Bush administration has ordered a daily early morning inspection and now forbidden any injured military personnel there from talking to the media. Think I'm exaggerating? Check it out for yourself here and here.

When the stock market was crashing yesterday everyone knew it stemmed from a change in China's capitalist policies as well as the recession warning by former Fed Chief Alan Greenspan. Everyone, that is, except FOX News who tried to sell it as a reaction to the "assassination attempt" on Dick Cheney. Well, today, they seem to realize that wasn't the best spin to put on it afterall. If it was an assassination attempt - how did they know Cheney was there? It was a secret trip. Is security that bad? If the secret visit was leaked to the Taliban then security in Afghanistan is in grave trouble. Maybe that's why they are now backing off that version of the story. However, if it was not an assassination attempt, as they are now trying to say, but rather just a coincidence, then what's with the lame attempt to turn deep seated economic concerns into an opportunity to create symapthy for Dick Cheney? They'll distort if you oblige.

I read this article in the New York Times yesterday and it really got me thinking. It is about Stewart Brand, one of the originators of the environmentalist movement. He has been on the forefront of many ideas over the past 40 years, that progressives hold dear. Well, he has some interesting things to say that will probably make the hard core liberals a bit uneasy. But to me, it opened my mind a bit. You should read the article to get the full flavor but he is basically saying that even liberals can get stuck in their ways of thinking at their own peril. He is actually advocating (and predicting that liberals will come to agree with him) genetically altered food and nuclear power! He argues that in an ideal world these things would not be welcome. Too dangerous and uncertain. But he now thinks that looking at the world as it is, we have to embrace these technologies in order for the human race to thrive and survive. I won't say he persuaded me overnight to agree with him, but my mind is now open to these ideas where they once were closed. One of my main problems with the right wing is that they seem to completely ignore the truth. I do not want to fall into that trap myself.

Al Gore is now getting hit by Red smears. A 27 year old from AEI (you know them) fed a story to the right wing media critical of the Gore's energy usage. Of course it spread like wildfire through the media and of course it was short on the facts. I know that talking about this story, even to debunk it, falls into the right wings hand. They know it will be debunked but they are also counting on many people not hearing about the falsehoods and only catching the original press release. If you want to find out the truth (and learn once again how the Right spreads their lies) you can see it all here.

I'm guessing that at this juncture, Anna Nicole's funeral will be a closed casket affair. She is still not buried! Come to think of it, either is James Brown.

I hope you get the chance to check out at least some of those stories. But when you are done, get up and go for a walk. I wouldn't want to be responsible for this happening to you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Did CBS offer a TV job to the "Cryin' Judge"?

According to this, yes.

What do you want now?

I have heard requests from a few readers who wanted me to include links to their favorite newspaper or other website. I have happily done so. It seems some folks start web surfin' here and then use my 'Recommended' list (in the column on the left) to click over to other sites. That's great! So if there is a website that you would like me to include in my list on this page please let me know. You can e mail me at or just leave a comment below. I want this site to be a useful tool for you, as well as providing entertaining and informative news and commentary. If there is something which I can include that you will find useful please let me know.

Lanslide, Sinkhole, Bombing and Crash (oh my!)

It's one of those crazy days today. San Francisco is having a big landslide, consuming buildings but fortunately not any loss of life. There is a gigantic sinkhole forming in Guatemala that has geologists around the world in awe. The security situation in Afghanistan seems more than a little suspect as Dick Cheney's "secret" trip there was interrupted by an assassination attempt. And the stock market is spiraling down at this hour because of troubling financial news out of China. Just another day in paradise.

Monday, February 26, 2007

SNL Parody: Anna Nicole Judge

I promised that if I found some video of Judge Larry Seidlin I would post it. Well, since that trial and his behavior received widespread coverage, why bother. You can see him acting like a fool anywhere. But here is something you probably did not see. The Saturday Night Live parody of the "Cryin' Judge" from last weekend. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Watch out for Gingrich

I sense a real buzz in Republican circles for Newt '08. On talk radio, C SPAN call-ins and random conversations many, many Republicans really feel Gingrich is the only "real" Republican out there and the only one who can win the Presidency. Unfortunatly, I don't think this is manufactured - it seems sincere.
Knowing the Gingrich ego, I have little doubt that it would take a minimal amount of prodding to get him in the race. Based on what I have seen and heard lately, he could bring out the base (that stayed home in '06?) and very well win the nomination. That puts him only 1 step (or Democratic misstep) away from the White House.
I followed politics very closley in the 1980's and 90's. Let me tell you, the deep division and partisanship we have now is due in no small part to the Gingrich stategy. Unlike Bush, he doesn't even pretend to be a uniter.
A Gingrich Presidency would surely risk launching us into a bloody civil war. Newt would probably love that. Remember he calls Democrats "enemies" and supported the armed militia movement of the 1990's.
Politics these days is frightening enough, the thought of a Gingrich presidency brings a new leval of fear into the heart of this political observer.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Scooter Verdict Soon

I have been far too busy lately for my own liking so haven't been able to pontificate on all the news that I may want to. One story I have not really talked about is the Scooter Libby trial. As I get ready for a long night at work, I realize that the verdict could come down today.

Anyone who has been following the case would have to admit that the man is guilty. He leaked the name, he lied about doing so and his story about forgetting about it is quite unbelievable. There is just an overwhelming amount of evidence showing that he had a well thought out strategy, at the direction of the VP, to smear Joe Wilson and his wife. Any fair look at the facts demonstrate that there is no way he could have suddenly forgotten all about it when questioned by the FBI and the Grand Jury. Scooter Libby committed a felony and perjured himself.

I worry though that he will not be found guilty. Why? The jury selection process. While lawyers always try to choose sympathetic jurors, the Libby team insisted that those who sat on the jury had to trust the White House and could in no way think that Cheney, Bush or the Administration was dishonest in any way. What a small group of Americans that would be! Not only small, but think about who is left that trusts this White House. Only right wing partisans of the most extreme. That's why I worry that at least one of the people of the jury will put political party over justice. I fear a hung jury or even a not guilty or minimal verdict of guilt dispite the damning evidence. As you all know too well, I feel many followers of the GOP do so with total disregard for facts or reality. All they need is one of these folks on the jury to set Scooter free.

I hope I am wrong.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS? Bush to Send Civilian Soldiers Back Into Iraq, Shortening Break Between Deployments

The Pentagon is planning to send more than 14,000 National Guard troops back to Iraq next year, shortening their time between deployments to meet the demands of President Bush’s buildup, Defense Department officials said Wednesday.

National Guard officials told state commanders in Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma and Ohio last month that while a final decision had not been made, units from their states that had done previous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan could be designated to return to Iraq next year between January and June, the officials said.

The accelerated timetable illustrates the cascading effect that the White House plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq by more than 21,000 is putting on the entire Army and in particular on Reserve forces, which officers predicted would face severe challenges in recruiting, training and equipping their forces. NYTimes

Prince Harry

You have probably already heard that Prince Harry is getting sent to Iraq. I'm not necessarily all that interested in the story but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to post these 2 photos of him. Then and now.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Friends List for Presidential Candidates

For those obsessed with MySpace, nothing says "I'm Popular" like a large "Friends List". Personally, I have about 15, which is pretty small, but then again I have a presence there only out of necessity. I found this interesting article which explores the size of the Friends Lists for top Presidential contenders. The winner had 44, 445. Who do you think it is?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

No Hugging Please, We're British

A woman claims she contracted terminal lung cancer from hugging her dockworker father is suing the British Ministry of Defence for £75,000. said: "I could never have imagined that playing with my father could kill me. "Dad was a very loving man and I behaved like any normal child would.
"Working at the yard was tough and he loved to come home to his family. "We would always have a little hug and I'd sit on his knee. I never thought that those precious moments would come to this. "This is the only explanation behind my condition because it is an asbestos-related lung cancer and it is the only exposure I have ever had."

Anna Nicole Smith Judge Quite A Show

I have never seen a court proceeding conducted like this. Judge Larry Seidlin seems to be enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. He's a former Brooklyn cabbie but I don't know how he got to the bench in Florida. He's a cross between Larry King and Ozzy Osborne. What a mess. Even if you are ignoring the whole Anna Nicole thing, be sure to catch the highlights of the Judge on the TV news if you can. If I find a video of him later I will post it. Somehow I think we'll see an appeal.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The (Amsterdam) Kids Are Allright

The chart above (click to make larger) and the story attached provide a great illustration of the price we are paying for the misplaced priorities our nation has embraced. A global study has found that nations such as Holland and Belgium do much better than we do in caring for our children. In fact, almost every country does as the US ranks at or near the very bottom! I think that this is a quiet goal of Red Americans - to starve government support for kids and to keep the population ignorant. Widespread ignorance, afterall, has lead to our current 'situation' and our Red friends would just love to be able to continue to pull the wool over the eyes of another generation.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Have an Ice Valentines Day

I took this photo a minute ago from my window. Something is falling from the sky, but it's not snow. It's tiny little ice balls (The weather people call it "Freezing Fog").

You have undoubtedly heard about the heavy snow New York has had. Well, that's upstate. Here in the city we have had hardly any. Last night it snowed for a while before this stuff began coming down.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The "Fab Faux" on Letterman

This was on Friday nights Late Show with David Letterman. I am a huge Beatle fan and like just about any cover of a Beatles song. However, this has to be one of the best musical performances I have ever seen! This band is absolutely amazing and if you like the Beatles then you MUST watch this performance of "I am the Walrus".

Aussie Red's Un-Invited Opinion

So Australian PM John Howard, a hard core right winger and one of only a handful of "friends" George W. Bush has on the world stage, has taken the unusual step of giving his public opinion on American domestic politics. Perhaps fearing a global collapse of the right wing movement, Howard has stated :

"If I were running al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats."

Sounds like the nonsense spewed by Dick Cheney or Anne Coulter doesn't it? Who the Hell asked him anyway? I guess it just goes to prove that ignorance knows no borders and the practice of smearing good people and distorting the truth is a trait all Reds share, no matter their nationality.

A spokeman for Barack Obama offered this reply:

"If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home," he said. "It's easy to talk tough when it's not your country or your troops making the sacrifices."

Friday, February 9, 2007

Am I the only guy who didn't sleep with Anna Nicole?


Condi Rice Raps

Bush pre-War Intelligence Failure was no accident

In this fiasco called Iraq, the strongest defense the Right had been able to muster was that they were "mistaken" because of faulty pre-war intelligence. It's a believable scenario. After all, previous Presidents made the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. None of them believed the danger was enough to go to war however, but they did believe it. The Bush administration sold that argument ferociously but knew that would have to do more to gain public support for starting a war in the middle east. Thus was born the Saddam/al Qaeda connection. The Bush administration loudly and repeatedly tied Iraq to 9-11 (after the war was underway they quietly admitted it was untrue). Some doubted it from the start (Barack Obama for one) but as we frequently heard from the Right at the time, only the President has ALL the information. So the majority of the American people and Congress gave him the benefit of the doubt and supported the Iraq invasion.

Well, the public now has more information and it turns out that the "bad intelligence" defense no longer can be offered. A report from the Defense Department's Inspector General himself (!)says that the Pentagon manipulated Iraq intelligence to create al Qaeda link.

Let's read that bolded sentence again. The Pentagon manipulated Iraq intelligence to create an al Qaeda link. This war, which has killed thousands of Americans, wounded tens of thousands more, killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and destroyed the reputation of our once great nation - was unleashed by people who intentionally manipulated information to gain public support.

If anyone can think of a more serious Abuse of Power - please let me know. Finally, who can still doubt that a political movement that would purposefully mislead the public to go to war would also blatantly lie about other things in order to force their agenda?

I get no joy in talking about this all the time. In fact, it's depressing. But there is a line of thinking that says that when you are going through a difficult time, instead of complaining you should seek out what you are meant to learn from it. Well, it is surely difficult to realize that there are some* people among us who are willing to sacrifice the certain death of Americans and other innocents in order to do what they want. The lesson to learn, I think, is that these people, unless stopped, will continue to ignore facts and mislead the public in order to promote their narrow political agenda. So, I guess I rail on this point so much because I think that once folks realize this sad truth about some of our fellow Americans, we can finally unite to reject these ideologues and try to get this nation back on it's feet.

*I think that those actively promoting this agenda and consciously manipulating facts number only in the hundreds. However, there are millions who have bought into it. These are two different groups of people (perhaps unwittingly) working toward the same goal.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Red Docs Put Politics Over Patients

Although I am not as articulate as I would like to be sometimes, I hope that I have conveyed the message that I believe the "Conservative" movement is a) Not conservative b) Not aligned with the principles of the United States, and most importantly c) stealthily permeating every aspect of our society - forcing their narrow world view on an unsuspecting public. To put it still another way: These people are not conservative, not American, act with the mentality of a cult and desire control over the freedom of Americans just like an authoritarian government.

This story proves it once again. A recent survey shows that some doctors - no doubt considering themselves "Conservatives" - knowingly withhold information from patients that they find PERSONALLY undesirable. These people are putting their own beliefs ahead of the well being of their patients by purposefully misleading them about their treatment options.

Folks, it is hard not to sound crazy saying this but I will risk it. The USA is infested with people who want to mold the nation into a fundamentalist authoritarian state. While this type of attitude is somewhat easy to see in politicians - there are also places where this is well hidden from public view - like in your doctors office. I consider this threat to be as dangerous as the Taliban wackos who also "hate us for our freedoms". It is harder to believe and, in a way, much sadder to realize. But it is true and should be addressed by all concerned people.


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Super Complainers

You know some people just love to bitch and moan. If things happen that they don't totally agree with, they cry foul and express outrage at some perceived slight they feel they have suffered. As far as Super Bowl controversies goes nothing tops the Janet Jackson episode. Thousands of people expressed outraged (even though they had to re-watch the clip in slow motion to see anything) and the Bush administration levied huge fines on CBS. This year, we have two controversies. One, by the same Puritans who seem to want to live in a world with the moral standards of the Taliban, claim that the imagery in the Prince concert was too sexual. [story][video] Oh Brother! They really have some deep issues they need to deal with. Perhaps a trip to Ted Haggard's counselors can cure them of their uncontrolled desire to see everything as sexual in nature and therefore offensive.

The second controversy is equally as idiotic. Apparently some gay groups are angry at the snickers "kiss" commercial. Gimme a break. [ story] [video] It's comedy people - not an insult. If two straight guys accidentally kissed believe me they would want to do more than just rip their hair out. Just because some group decides they are offended should not have meant that the ad campaign should be pulled. Get a grip - you are as bad as the right wing nut jobs. If you want others to accept your alternative lifestyle - show some tolerance of your own for corny silly (and NOT mean spirited) jokes!

Finally, I am bewildered that most people who have talked about this take an inconsistent position. Those who criticized Prince or Jackson, ridicule the gay groups. Those opposed to the Snicker ad attack the right wingers. Hey guys - you are one in the same on this. Both wrong.

I find so many commercials offensive but have not been moved to complain to the FFC. People on the far Right and the far Left need to understand that this is a free country and therefore people different than you will do thing you wouldn't do. Don't complain - just move on.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Rally Cry! "Let's get rid of the Mexicans!"

So who is using this the rallying cry to attract supporters? Right Wing Radio talk show hosts? Fox News? The Republican National Committee? No, but close.

He's Cured!

One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is cured of his homosexuality. "He is completely heterosexual," Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing."

United States of Florida

Growing up in Florida I certainly noticed the large number of "snow birds" who had relocated there from cold weather climates. In fact, my parents, us kids in tow, moved from snowy Connecticut to balmy South Florida in the late 1960's. There was an interesting article the other day in the New York Times that described how specific groups tended to end up together after they moved to Florida. This population distribution is illustrated in the map above and in this article.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Red Man of Courage

This 51 second clip shows Republican Senator Chuck Hagel smack Dick Cheney down after learning of the Vice Presidents comments about Iraq. Cheney claims that those against the escalation plan simply "don't have the stomach" to do what it takes to win. Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, cuts to the chase and lets interviewer Gwen Ifill know what he thinks about Cheneys musings.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Losers shirts make winning donations

You know how just moments after the Super Bowl ends the winning team already has their "Championship" shirts and caps ready to go. Well, as you probably figured, they do make apparel for both teams ... just in case. So where do the losing teams gear go? Here.

Friday, February 2, 2007

My "Super" Prediction

Chicago Bears 27 Indianapolis Colts 23
anyone else care to venture a guess?

AEI tries to bribe scientists on Global Warming

The Republican party is really a conglomerate of the most selfish. They have the wealthy (the richest people in human history) who are willing to put the nation through any hardship to assure their politicians continue to give them tax breaks and other financial rewards. Right wing Christians (living in the most religiously tolerant nation in history) have used the GOP to portray themselves as victims of religious persecution (ha!) and to promote a fundamentalist agenda. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has been leading the foreign policy of the GOP and George W. Bush, most notably by arguing for the Iraq invasion and now for the escalation. Well it seems that this group, already responsible for our tragic foreign policy meltdown, has also been trying to manipulate scientific evidence for their own economic interests (imagine that!). Seems that they tried to buy off scientists in order to prevent the truth about Global Warming from reaching the public. You see, this information would hurt the big oil companies and other multi national corporations they serve. It would also go against the stated positions of Republican leaders. Science be damned. They want their facts to reach the public debate! (They'll distort and the mainstream media will oblige).
Yes, the modern Republican party is now widely seen as removed from reality and unconcerned with the future of our country or our countrymen. But we should never forget that this is no accident - it is a well planned, well financed strategy to empower the powerful, reward the selfish and mislead the rest of us.
(Just in case you think this is an isolated case of coordinated deception here's another example from the news today)

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The building & setting up the "fake bombs" in Boston

Boston officials really overreacted on this one. First of all the signs had been up for weeks. Secondly, it is of a fairly well known cartoon character. To close down virtually the whole city was ridiculous.