Thursday, June 29, 2006

Administration smackdown; SCOTUS style

Well well well… turns out the President doesn’t have all-encompassing authority to do whatever the hell he pleases.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court agrees.

In a 5-3 decision (Chief Justice John Roberts sat out this case as he was seated on the D.C. Circuit Court that issued the originating decision that was overturned today) the Court ruled that neither Congress's post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), nor the “inherent powers” of the President give him the authoirty to establish military tribunals on Guantanamo Bay in order to try and convict alleged enemy combatants in the war on terror, finding the commissions illegal under both military justice law and, AND, the Geneva Convention (Isn’t it nice to see the Supreme Court recognize the Geneva Convention even when the current administration does everything in its power to ignore it?)

The ruling was written by Justice John Paul Stevens and fully supported by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David H. Souter. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote separately in an opinion that did not support all of Stevens' discussion of the Geneva Convention, but did find that the commissions were not authorized by military law or the Convention as a whole.

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas all dissented (imagine my utter surprise)

You can read the rulings HERE.

The ruling is a very strong reproach of the Bush Administration and it’s convoluted anti-terrorism policies and should be a wake-up call for everyone.

The White House and The Pentagon are both working on reactionary press releases that should be available later today.

Let’s keep in mind that the “president” has stated in the past that he would "like to close Guantanamo," but he’s also stated that he knows that the U.S. is "holding some people that are darn dangerous" at the detention camp and that will prevent them from closing it anytime soon.

Of course we should also keep in mind that Bush has publicly stated before that he can do whatever the hell he wants to do, so who knows what will happen next.

But isn’t it refreshing to see someone slap the administration down for once?

Maybe this is the start of a beautiful trend…

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Good use of their time

The Senate has been making excellent use of their time this week.

The Citizens Flag Alliance has been pushing the Senate to pass a flag-burning amendment to the Constitution. Why, because they reported an “alarming” increase of 33% this past year.

That’s a 33% increase in the number of flag-desecration incidents this year.. startling isn’t it?

Should we mention that the 33% increase means that the number of flag-burning incidents went from three… to four. The horror… the absolute, sheer horror of it all.

From three… to four. It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it?? A rash of flag-burning like this should be extinguished (pun intended) right away.

Thank God we have the US Senate to protect us from this evil. I mean, with all the things going on in our country and the world right now, our Senate is taking up a fight that is so vital to our nation that I have trouble recalling any other fight that was as essential to our nation’s sovereignty as this.

If you couldn’t tell… I’m being sarcastic!!!!

This is a ridiculously insignificant action by our nation’s politicians, especially when compared to everything else we have going on in this world; terrorism, war, national security, the economy, healthcare, social security, ethics (or lack thereof)… so let’s concentrate on the burning and desecration of our nation’s flag.

Now don’t get me wrong… I love the flag and am eternally grateful and thankful to all the men and women who have given their lives for it and do not think it should be burned for any reason.

Having said that, these men and women also gave their lives for the core beliefs of this country, one of which is the freedom of speech and expression which is a belief that allows one to express their attitudes, negative or positive, about the country, its government, and its politics.

That’s one of (many) things that make this country so damn great (current presidential administration being ignored for this argument)

Let’s shelve the election-year ploys and concentrate on the things that matter.

By the way, the resolution to amend the Constitution to prohibit desecrating the flag has failed.


Granted, it was only by one vote, but it still failed.

The world may resume spinning.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Week Ahead

A few things to keep tabs on as the last week of June 2006 comes to a close.

  • Keep an eye on Iraqi immigration in the months (and years) ahead. In the past 10 months, the Iraqi government has issued 2 million passports, and more than 40% of Iraq’s professional class have fled the country since 2003. If this keeps up the insurgenct attacks will stop because there won’t be anyone around to attack. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the whole idea of the US ‘liberating’ the country was to keep people IN the country. Did I miss something???)
  • Pay attention as a few conservative members on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are throwing the idea out there that the Bush Administration should have direct talks with North Korea in order to attempt to resolve the ongoing tensions. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) stated that “We (the US) need to talk directly with North Korea. The sooner we do that, the sooner we’re going to get this resolved.” Well, there’s a radical idea… talking. We’ll definitely have to keep an eye on this to see how it plays out… stay tuned.
  • Pay heed to the calls for Iraqi amnesty. Read some articles about it HERE and HERE as they’ll do a better job of explaining it than I would.
  • One should keep an eye on the goat and put this under the “You have got to be fuc**** klidding me” files. The British army has a goat as their “offical” mascot… named Billy (wow, the army must have taxed their considerable originality and creativity in coming up with that name) The goat participates in various ceremonies and events… but no longer. He’s been knocked down a few pegs and demoted. Why? Because during a parade to mark Queen Elizabeth’s birthday, the goat marched out of line… (the horror… it marched out of line… the bast***) One soldier accused Billy of “trying to head-butt the waist and nether regions” of some drummers (but really, who hasn’t tried to do that a couple of times?). Now, with the goat’s demotion, soldiers of a lower rank are no longer expected to salute the goat.
  • Pay attention as the Senate takes up (once again) a constitutional amendment to outlaw burning or otherwise desecrating the U.S. flag (because it’s something that people are SO worried about right now) As of right now, 59 senators have signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill that was originally introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) but it’s still doubtful that the bill would get the 67 votes needed for it to be approved. (This is a shameful election year ploy that has no bearing on anything going on in this country right now. Various polls have shown that people don’t give a damn about this issue right now, but once again the Republicans show they don’t listen to the people and take up an issue that has no merit. Brilliant strategy everyone… absolutely brilliant)
  • Keep your eyes (and lungs) open as the Supreme Court gets ready to consider whether the Bush administration has to regulate carbon dioxide in order to combat global warming. The original suit states that the EPA is under an obligation to limit carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act. The Bush administration disagrees (imagine my surprise) and maintains that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Stay tuned…
  • Pay attention to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (D-CT) heart and blood pressure. Everywhere he turns he’s being rebuffed for their support. Even from his old pal and running-mate Al Gore declined to offer his support to him, and now Sen. Fuss Feingold (D-WI) has poured more gasoline onto the fire by refusing to back him as well. Oh well. Lieberman has aligned himself with the GOP too many times and now the voters are taking notice and are making their feelings heard.
  • Keep an eye on lobbying reform as it seems to have come to a ‘sudden, arboreal’ stop.
  • Pay attention to the deep chasm that is US citizens’ and their feelings about Iraq and a possible US withdrawal. According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, people are vastly divided over whether or not a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq should be made or not with 47% favoring a deadline and 51% who oppose a deadline.

Take 'em as you will...

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Weekly Rewind

It's Friday.

Rewind time.

Before we get started with this week's rewind, allow me to say this: I know that posts here have been few and far between the last few weeks, but things are starting to slow/settle down for both Scott and I, so expect more posts in the coming days as we revert back to our old ways of posting at least one post per day.

Without any furter ado (or any fanfare), allow me to present to you.

The Weekly Rewind... in all its glory...

Applaud: to a new EPA task force (sounds like a really bad TV show, doesn’t it?) for proving, yet again, that “President” Bush is an idiot. Back in April, Dubya claimed that high gas prices can be blamed on so-called “boutique fuels.” What are ‘boutique fuels you ask?’ Let me tell you, they are localized fuel blends that help some states meet clean air rules. The EPA task force proved that Bush was wrong about those being the cause for high-gas prices and instead blamed Bush’s oil-company-friends for the dramatic rise… ok, that second part was made-up, but wouldn’t it have been cool if they did say that?

Ultra-large and ultra-loud heckle: to the monsters behind the beheading of the two U.S. soldiers that had been abducted in Baghdad days earlier. They handn’t just been beheaded, they were tortured… apparently “beyond recognition.” (Nothing more to say here but this; keep their families and friends in your hearts and prayers)

Applaud: to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (did I just write that???) for stating that any constitutional amendments that banned flag burning would “dilute(s) the very freedom that makes this emblem so revered.” (Couldn’t have said it any better Justice Scalia, way to go! Again, did I just write that???)

Heckle: to the US Supreme Court for considering a roll-back of the Clean Water Act. (That’s good… let’s take a giant step backwards with the environment… I mean, who needs the environment anyway??? I’ve said it many times; it’s hard to express sarcasm in the written word…

Applaud: to a member of the main-stream media (don’t you just hate that expression?) for telling it like it is. CBS News contributor Gloria Borger recently gave her comments on the media and its coverage of President Bush’s “surprise” trip to Iraq, stating, rather eloquently; “I think we are suckers. .. [Y]ou know you’re being used, but in a way you kind of like it because it’s good pictures.”

Heckle: To the staggering number of Americans lacking health insurance; 41.2 million. (I don’t even know what else to say but 41.2 million without insurance is shameful… absolutley shameful…

Applaud: to the all-but-certain fallout from independent groups towards the media and their incrediblly piss-poor job of reporting on U.S. military deaths reaching 2,500 in Iraq. Columbia Journalism Review faults the press for not taking the “opportunity to do what newspapers and broadcast journalists and editors [have] too seldom done: look deeply into the lives of the young soldiers who are being lost in this conflict.” What do you expect the main stream media to do when the White House Press Secretary Tony Snow (a Heckle in itself) said about the deaths “It’s a number.” (Nice Tony… I’m sure the families of all the slain soldiers appreciated having their family members sacrifice minimalized like that…fuc**** idiot)

Heckle: to the results of a new Financial Times poll. Days before “President” Bush made a quick trip to Europe, The Financial Times conducted a poll that shows Europeans identify the U.S. as the greatest threat to global stability (at 36 percent) with Iran and China coming in second and third respectively. (Nice… see what Bush’s Foreign Policies have done??? Europe considers the U.S. a bigger threat than China – China! Can you believe it??? - and Iran – even with their plutonium enrichment. There is something seriously wrong here…)

Quasi-Applaud: to forced-apologizing. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) apologized for remarks he made that attacked someone who is more-protected than the President; White House uber-correspondent extraordinaire Helen Thomas. Last week, while speaking of Abu Musab Zarqawi’s death, King said, “There probably are not 72 virgins in the hell he’s at. And if there are, they probably all look like Helen Thomas.'’ (Not nice Steve. One thing you don’t do in DC is attack Thomas, lest you want negative backlash from both liberal and conservative media. The woman is an icon and has earned the respect of her peers, even if they kowtow to the Bush-machine. Rep. King just learned that the hard way)

Heckle: to White House tool Karl Rove today. To list all the reasons to heckle him would take too damn long, so I’ll just give this reason: because he’s Karl Rove.

Non-political Applaud: to the end of the NHL and NBA seasons. About. Friggin. Time. Don’t get me wrong, I like hockey (but not basketball) but talk about two sports whose seasons go on WAY to long…

Heckle: to people not clear on the concept. Massachusetts State Sen. Jarrett Barrios (D) has introduced a bill aimed at banning Fluffernutter sandwiches from school cafeterias (First of all, a Fluffernutter is a combination of Marshmallow Fluff and peanut butter. Second, let me just say ‘eww’. Third, I’m all for healthy eating, but are you going to tell me that there are no other vital issues in the state of Massachusetts that Sen. Barrios could be focusing on other than fluffernutters???)

Applaud: to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for urging the international community to reassess its approach to the war on terror. Seems President Karzai claims that not enough has been done to put a focus on terrorirm’s roots. This comes as the country is being confronted with a full-blown insurgency. (About time someone said it…)

Heckle: to more Democrats in Republican clothing. Turns out that Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) helped divert close to $179 million in U.S. government contracts over the last six years to companies that gave to his family-run charity. (Are you all stupid in the head? Or is that what comes from being in DC for any length of time? Stop acting like Republicans damn-it!)

Applaud: to former (and maybe future) Presidential candidate John Edwards for wanting the US to eliminate poverty. Guaranteed, that’s easier said than done… but still… the concept is a good one.

Heckle: to a Pentagon document that classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder. Nice… we’ll ignore the fact that mental health experts changed their position on that DECADES ago and instead focus on the fact that the document was roudnly “condemned by medical professionals, members of Congress and other experts, including the American Psychiatric Association.”

Heckle: to the “poison pill” minimum wage bill that GOP Senators are planning to introduce in order to counter the $2.10 wage increase that was being backed by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). This version will probably increase the federal minimum wage slightly and reduce overtime pay and lower wages for millions of workers. (Way to screw it to the non-rich dickheads…)

Applaud: to rollover. And I’m not talking about cellphone minutes. Seemingly, the continued cooperation of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff is reaping large dividends. How was that conclusion reached you asked? Because the Justice Department and attorneys for Abramoff have mutlually agreed to postpone the day he was to report to federal prison. (Good news… very good news indeed)

Heckle: to more people that just don’t have a clue. The House has put off a vote that would have extendied the Voting Rights Act because Texas lawmakers objected to the bill, because of its federal oversight and multilingual voting requirements. The kicker, the reason for objecting from Rep. John Carter (R-TX): “I don’t think we have racial bias in Texas anymore.” (Uh… okay…)

New feature added this week to the Rewind: ‘Things you may have missed’ A quick rundown of some of the smaller things that may have blipped past your radar:

  • According to a new government report, the Bush administration increased federal contracts to Halliburton by 600 percent in the period from 2000-2005.
  • The Bush administration is sending mixed signals of how they are going to deal with North Korea.
  • They found WMD’s in Iraq this past week.
  • Oh wait, no they didn’t.
  • David Safavian is feeling “rather numb.”
  • According to Senate records, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) pulled the financial disclosure forms of at least four Republican Senators late last month. Hmmmm, I wonder why????

All we have. Have a good weekend, and we'll see you here next week.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A funny thing happened on the way to the blog...

... I was sent this link. Two things struck me when I watched it;

1 - It's funny as hell
2 - Someone has WAY too much time on their hands.

What am I talking about you ask? "President" Bush singing 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday'.

Click HERE to see it via

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Weekly Rewind

Well it’s almost the end of the 24th week 2006. The official beginning of summer is just around the corner. Grills are in full use in the neighborhood and the only thing that is missing is The Weekly Rewind. So in my effort to make you feel ‘complete’ I present this weeks Weekly Rewind.

Applaud to a very, very rare action by our President, doing something right. Earlier this week Bush used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument. This is a 1,200 nautical mile stretch of Ocean and Islands that will encompass the northwest islands of Hawaii and the Battle of Midway National Memorial. This monument will give protection to more than 7,000 different marine species that inhabit the area as well as fragile coral reef systems. Nice job George, seems that someone figured out you needed to do a least one meaningful thing to insure your term in office is not totally worthess.

Heckle to the growing and continuing needless deaths of good Americans. “The death toll for American soldiers in Iraq hit the 2,500 mark yesterday with the national press not particularly eager to make much of it.” Columbia Journalism Review faults the press for not taking the “opportunity to do what newspapers and broadcast journalists and editors [have] too seldom done: look deeply into the lives of the young soldiers who are being lost in this conflict.”

Applaud to great write up on Crooks & Liars regarding another waste of space, Ann Coulter.’s Mike Krempasky calls Ann Coulter’s suggestion that Rep. John Murtha be murdered “disgusting.” He adds, “It’s despicable — and frankly, so is Coulter.” She was never deserving of ‘15 minutes’ and what time she has used so far should be considered theft.

Heckle to being smacked down by the State Department. Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that the Iraq war was “in part responsible” for the absence of terrorist attacks in the United States since the September 11, 2001 strikes. The State Department reported in April that the number of terrorist attacks worldwide increased nearly fourfold in 2005. None of the attacks may have occurred on American Soil, but they are happening with more frequency and with our ‘oh so secure’ borders it’s statistically just a matter of time before they come calling again.

Applaud to once again speaking out for the right thing. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is upset that he has not received a response to his request that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testify before his committee on the NSA’s warrantless spying programs. Specter said yesterday, “I will ask for authorization for a subpoena if we do not get an adequate response.” Seems that the Senator goes back and forth in our eyes depending on the topic, but we applaud his ability to see more than just the narrow party line.

Heckle to hurting our children. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education yesterday “voted to eliminate $115 million in federal funding for public broadcasting” like NPR and PBS, representing “a 23 percent decrease in the previously-approved 2007 appropriation.” Nice, why not just send in a Black Ops team to rough up Big Bird while you are at it.

Heckle to taking some of that money and putting it in your own pockets. “Despite record low approval ratings, House lawmakers Tuesday embraced a $3,300 pay raise that would increase their salaries to $168,500.”

Applaud to the irony of it all. Press Secretary Tony Snow acknowledged recently that his retirement plan is based on his prior membership in a union -– the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Without a union, Snow would have had to rely on Social Security. The AFL-CIO notes the irony.

Heckle to gifts befitting the occasion. A State Department report details the items given to federal employees in 2004 by “foreign government sources.” “President George W. Bush received a $10,000 sniper’s rifle, six jars of fertilizer, 11 antique handguns, ten pounds of dates, and a DVD of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ from various foreign leaders.”

Heckle to smelling fishy. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) has mixed his private interests with official business. Hastert “has used an Illinois trust to invest in real estate near the proposed route of the Prairie Parkway, a highway project for which he’s secured $207 million in earmarked appropriations.”

Applaud to someone getting their head out of their ass. An Ohio bill that would have banned abortion in all cases — including in cases of rape or incest and even if the life of the woman’s life was endangered — is “expected to be placed back in a file cabinet and left to die at the end of the year.” This country has to stop dealing in extremes and look at middle grounds which take into account all views on an issue.

Heckle to starting life after school behind the ‘8 ball’. The proportion of students who are leaving college with some level of unmanageable debt — debt they can’t repay without significant hardship — is swelling. The average college senior graduated this year with more than $19,000 in debt. Policy choices – like the freezing of the minimum wage and the shift in the tax burden from the rich to the rest – “have starved public services while leaving ordinary Americans more dependent than ever on debt.”

Applaud to trying to help those same students in some way. With college debt rates at crippling levels, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) have proposed legislation that would cut interest rates on student and parent college loans in half beginning July 1, 2006. Click here for a calculator to show how much you’d save.

And finally I would like to add a little spot called Worst Person of the Week. This will be reserved for someone who makes a statement or does something so stupid or so absurd that you can’t help but hear about it and say to yourself, what an ass.

This weeks Worst Person of the Week is conservative talk show host Michael Savage (whose real name is Michael Weiner), who stated that liberals could turn Zarqawi “into a hero even though he killed thousands of people and was arrested for sexual molestation in Jordan. … He was an altogether piece of human offal, you know. He was like a [Rep. John] Murtha — he was like a human Murtha.”

I don’t know where you are getting your info as every liberal we know is glad that Zarqawi is dead and couldn’t have happened soon enough. As for attacking Rep. Murtha, an honorable veteran of our nations military. Cheap shot Mike, but isn’t that what conservative mouthpieces are good at? Maybe you and Ann Coulter can have a good laugh over that at lunch.

There you have it folks, my thanks to Think Progress and all the other news outlets linked to this week.

Be good, stay informed….later.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Welcome... to Bizarro World

I have to applaud President Bush today.

Yes… you read that right. I am applauding him (hence the title of this post)

Now don’t get confused. You didn’t accidentally get transferred to a conservative poli-blog; it’s just that Dubya did something that I find admirable.

Yesterday, President Bush (notice I didn’t even include my famous quotes around President, that’s how much I respect him for doing this) created (and by creating I mean signed into existence) the world's largest marine protected area.

You read that right… President Bush is creating a marine sanctuary, which you can see a map of over to the right.

(In order to cite sources properly and give credit where credit is due, allow me to tell you that this map was borrowed from Mary Kate Cannistra at The Washington Post - thank you Mary Kate)

(Now don’t read too much into this, I am by no means a nature-freak. I believe that nature is to be protected from and “Nature, like a woman, will seduce you with its sights and its scents and its touch, and then it breaks your ankle, also like a woman.” – Thank you very much ‘The West Wing’ – but I have been to Hawaii, and trust me, this is a very good thing)

The move sets aside 140,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean that includes islands, atolls, coral reef colonies and underwater peaks (known as ‘seamounts’ in case you want to have that knowledge for parties and impress your friends) that stretch from the main Hawaiian Islands to Midway Atoll and beyond. This area is home to more than 7,000 species, a fourth of which that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

The area will now be known as the “Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument” and will be larger than all of America's national parks combined and will phase out all fishing, coral-mining (for making jewelry) and all other acts that could damage the delicate reefs.

This is a dramatic 360 for this administration, which, as recently as five years ago, considered taking away some of the protections that the area had enjoyed since President Clinton declared it a coral reef ecosystem reserve while he was in office.

But they never did.

What changed Bush’s mind you ask? Apparently it was the film “Voyage to Kure” by Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of the late underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau) that Bush watched back in April of this year. The movie showed the beauties and dangers facing the area, and seemed to catch Bush’s imagination as he jumped up from his chair after the viewing and directed his staff to start working on protecting the area.

I know… this is strange… you don't usually put Bush and ‘animal sanctuary’ or ‘environment’ in the same sentence unless you're talking about drilling for oil, but there you go, he did something environmentally friendly and positive.

Note: For all of our regular readers who came here looking for disparaging remarks about Bush and his policies, don’t fret. I’m sure it won’t be long until Bush, or his people, says or does something to either embarrass himself or make Liberals pissed. After all, it’s just a matter of time.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Random Political Thoughts for a Wednesday Afternoon

Rising They have record-low approval numbers and people don’t trust them but none of that matters as House lawmakers received a pay raise of $3,300, which increases their salaries to $168,500nice work if you can get it.

Scalping a GAO report reports (??) that FEMA handed out $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to “victims” of last year’s Hurricanes (Katrina & Rita). The money has gone to pay for, among other things, New Orleans Saints football tickets, tropical vacations, “adult erotica products,” and “Girls Gone Wild” videos. Seems that FEMA doesn’t have any safeguards to combat this kind of thing. Nice. Here’s an idea for all of you at FEMA, maybe you should create some safeguards to ensure that this doesn’t happen again… just a thought…

Failing An educational study from Harvard finds that No Child Left Behind is “failing to close racial achievement gaps and will miss its goals by 2014 according to recent trends.” Additionaly, the legislation has “had no significant impact on improving reading and math achievement since it was introduced in 2001, contradicting White House claims and potentially adding to concerns over America’s academic competitiveness.”

Falling As if Americans needed more good news when travelling abroad, seems that we are experience more fallout from Dubya’s “go-it-alone” foreign policy. The latest Pew numbers about how American are viewed around the world are out and they are… well… let’s just say the numbers ain’t pretty…check ‘em out for yourselves, I just can’t bring myself to do it, it’s too damn depressing.

Spinning The “President” secretly flew to Iraq earlier this week as part of a spin campaign aimed at bolstering support for the war. Part of the PR salvo was the announcement that 70,000 American and Iraqi troops would launch “a large-scale security sweep in Baghdad” (inlcuding military checkpoints and curfews) aimed at ebbing the insurgency. The early-morning raid by Bush was followed by a Rose Garden press conference this morning where Dubya expressed a new confidence that the rebuilding of Iraq is on the right track and that the insurgency is not undermining the country’s new government. It’s funny, even the Iraqi people don’t buy what he’s shoveling. The visit was clearly a publicity stunt and anyone who doesn’t see that clearly has some vision issues…

Roving Pssst, hey, did you hear Karl Rove isn’t going to be indicted?

Refusing Remember a few months ago when a former coal industry executive told the U.S. Senate that the nation’s mining laws are perfectly adequate, mere weeks after a series of disasters killed more than a dozen miners? Well, he’s facing a crucial Senate vote next week for approval as head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Again, like so-many other of Bush’s picks, this one reeks of cronyism. Think about it, anyone who has the audacity to say that the nation’s mine laws are good enough after the death of so many miners does NOT deserve to be confirmed. Reject him… outright… and force the administration to nominate someone who Misn’t a cartoonish sycophant

Beating For those of you who think Iran is just misunderstood, here’s this interesting news item. Seems a squadron of Iranian police beat a women’s rights activists after she “demanded equal rights for women and the nullification of a law allowing Iranian men to have four wives.” This was at a rally with about 200 people… oddly enough, none of Iran’s state-run media outlets reported on the protest. Shocked and apalled… aren’t ya?

Dawning Faced with an investigation into his ties to a high-powered lobbying firm that seems to be widening, Rep. Jerry “Not that Jerry Lewis” Lewis (R-CA) has hired a criminal defense attorney. Great… it only took him how long to realize he was in trouble?? Schmuck

Loosening There was an EPA rule in the books that was designed to keep “groundwater clean near oil drilling sites and other construction zones.” The rule was loosened after White House officials rejected it after they got complaints from some of Bush’s closest friends (and by that I mean energy companies) and after one oil exec appealed to DCOS Karl Rove. They think the rule is “too restrictive.” Well, sure… who needs clean water anyway?

Crippling As we mentioned earlier this week, college debt rates are skyrocketing at “crippling levels” Now, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) are proposing legislation to cut interest rates on student and parent college loans in half beginning July 1, 2006. Yay! Click here for a calculator to show how much you’d save under the plan.

Gratuitous Op-Ed plug of the week. Read this article by Sean-Paul Kelley from “Agonist” that states that a “knowledge of history is essential to formulating good foreign policy” as it will help you understand how you got there in the first place. Wow, what a concept…

Take ‘em as you will…

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Week Ahead

A few things to pay attention to as the new week gets underway. Take 'em as you will, but keep 'em in mind.

  • Not so much as something to keep an eye on, but we at TBWA haven’t mentioned him in a while, so I thought this story was a good one to pass on. Remember former FEMA Chief Michael Brown? Him of the ever-famous ‘Heckuva job Brownie.’ He was on CNN last week, and mentioned that just before he resigned in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he got an email from a Senior White House staffer that said, among other things, “I did hear of one reference to you, at the Cabinet meeting yesterday. I wasn't there, but I heard someone commented that the press was sure beating up on Mike Brown, to which the president replied; ‘I'd rather they beat up on him than me or Chertoff.’ Congratulations on doing a great job of diverting hostile fire away from the leader.” Well… at least he did something useful…
  • Keep an eye and ear as this week a federal district court in Detroit will hear lawyers for the ACLU arguing that the NSA’s wiretapping programs violate the U.S. Constitution and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and will be asking that the program be halted. Attorneys for the Justice Department have asked the judge to dismiss the suit because it would (supposedly) reveal state secrets. Don’t let this one get out of your sight, lest the NSA spin it right by us.
  • Keep an eye on Guantanamo Bay after the suicides of three detainees over the weekend. Add to that the fact that there was a delay in discovering the three, the whole situation has raised questions whether or not regulations for supervision of prisoners were, and are being, followed. This problem was exacerbated when U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy described the suicides as a “good PR move to draw attention.” Now, the European Union is calling for the prison to be closed. Brilliant. Some people should never, ever open their mouths lest they make a fool of themselves)
  • Keep an eye on the Democrats. Seems that they are closing the fundraising gap with the Republicans. Experts say that a surge in small, individual contributions is helping to lift Democratic campaigns and eliminating the Republican fundraising advantage that had been seen for years and years. (That’s all fine and good, but out-raising the GOP doesn’t do a damn thing unless it can be backed-up with a victory in November. Keep the real victory and goal in site people…)
  • We at TBWA have urged everyone to keep a close eye (and ear) on Iran and it’s nuclear/uranium enrichment plans, and this past Sunday, Iran said that is has accepted portions of an offer from the West (and rejected others) that had an aim of getting Tehran to drop its nuclear program. In the statement, Iran also said that some of the points of the offer were “unclear,” (Somewhat good news indeed, but if I were you, I wouldn’t take my eyes off Iran for a second. They’re quick and shifty and, if possible for an entire country, acting with more than a few bi-polar tendencies)
  • If you or someone you care about has Medicaid, here’s a little something to keep in mind and keep an eye on in the weeks to come. Apparently, since the Bush administration couldn’t fix Medicare, it’s now allowing states to try their hand and improving Medicaid (which is the nation’s largest public health insurance program that covers 55 million poor and disabled Americans) With the okay from the administration, states are now highly motivated and moving quickly to transform Medicaid by adding fees, restricting benefits, and privatization of some portions of the Medicaid program. Yeah, I’m sure this plan will work well…)
  • Keep an eye on your own college debt and keep this in mind with your kids (despite their age). The amount of students who are leaving college with some level of “unmanageable debt” (defined as debt that can’t be repaid without significant lifestyle hardship) is intensifying as the average college senior is graduating this year with more than $19,000 of college-related debt. (Makes me glad I was on scholarships throughout college and only have my wife’s college debts to worry about, otherwise… we’d be screwed… and not in a good way)
  • Something to keep in mind in the years ahead is the legacy of the Iraq war in the Arab world. Most believe that its legacy will be one of “fear and suspicion over Iraq’s repercussions, a generation that casts the Bush administration’s policy as an unquestioned war on Islam, and a subterranean reserve of men who…declare that the fight against the United States in Iraq is a model for the future.” (Uh, ok, sure. Personally I would have said something more simple like; “We got screwed with our pants on,” but that’s just me…)

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Weekly Rewind

Hmmmm… it seems like the ‘heckles’ vastly outnumber the ‘applauds’ this week. Can only mean one thing... The Weekly Rewind.

It starts... right... now... I said now... son of a bit-, will someone wake up the hamster and get him on the wheel so I can get this computer going... thank you...


Applaud: to the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in Iraq by a “precision airstrike”. About time. We’ll ignore the fact that Bush could have nailed him a LONG time ago but decided not to for reasons that are still unlear to people with an ounce of gray matter in their brains. Naturally, the “President” says it’s “a significant victory in the war on terror.” (Sure it is Georgie boy, just like everything else you’ve declared as being ‘significant’ in this war that turns out to do absoutley nothing… keep up the good work.)

Heckle: to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D-LA) for stating that she would sign a near-total ban on abortion bill when it’s passed in the state legislature, despite the fact that it includes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Blanco said those exceptions “would have ‘been reasonable,’ but she said she wouldn’t reject the bill for that reason.”

Applaud: Call me callous, but I have to applaud this bit of news in hopes that the bastard suffered a little bit…

Heckle: to the news that close to 1,400 Iraqi civilians were killed last month by insurgent attacks. This is the largest number of deaths in one-month span since the U.S.-led invasion three years ago. (What can be said that hasn’t already been said???)

Applaud: to California State Attorney General Bill Lockyear. During the last few weeks he’s been “hauling the CEOs of major oil companies into his office” and demanding, albeit in close-door sessions, that the execs tell him (under oath btw) why gas prices are higher in California than the rest of the nation. (Nice. Too bad other states Attorneys General can’t have that kind of courage and strength…)

Heckle: to Wal-Mart. Part 1. GroupIntel has an article that details the incredibly large amount of customer data that Wal-Mart collects. The data centers have “enough storage capacity to contain twice the amount of all the information available on the Internet.” (Makes you wonder what the hell they’re doing with all that data… doesn’t it?)

Applaud: to the American Bar Association (did I just write that??) and their Board of Governors for unanimously voting to “investigate whether President Bush has exceeded his constitutional authority in reserving the right to ignore more than 750 laws that have been enacted since he took office.” (Exxxxcellllent.)

Heckle: to Wal-Mart. Part 2. Seems the company that cares so much about their employees (sarcasm alert!) is fighting a health care bill with a fake news release that warns people that increased health insurance will create higher gas prices and air fares. (Uh… okay… can you say deflection?)

Applaud: to Armed Forces Radio for considering, due to suggestions from a radio consulting firm, eliminating all political talk shows from their airwaves, meaning no more Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. (Heh heh heh)

Heckle: to incredibly fuc***-up priorities. While the Senate debates on gay marriage the “Paris Hilton Tax” repeal, Congress still has done nothing to approve funds for spending that includes funding for both Iraq and the Gulf Coast despite the bill going up in February. (Let’s see, that’s… 1,2… four months later and still nothing. Nice. While both parties try to reclaim support by pandering to their party’s base, the people who really need help are getting screwed with their pants on. Keep up the ‘good’ work guys…)

Applaud: to buh-byes. Senator Tom DeLay (R-TX) officially resigns today, Friday. (Don’t le the door hit your ass on the way out Senator… on second thought; DO let the door hit your ass on the way out)

Heckle: It’s been quite a few years since Americans gained federal protection for their private medical information (HIPAA, baby!) and the Bush administration has received thousands of complaints that allege various violations of those laws. But, and this should come as a surprise to NO ONE, not one civil fine has been imposed and only two case have been prosecuted. (I wish I could say I was surprised… but I can’t… cause I’m not)

Applaud: to being entertaining for all, good news for Democrats, and bad news for Republicans. Who am I talking about? Katherine Harris of course. Not only did she lose her fourth – yes, you read that right, fourth - Chief of Staff this week, her campaign is “inspiring dread among many in her party.” Some say it’s her incredibly bad job of fundraising, some say it’s the polling numbers that make Bush’s seem high, some say it’s the disarray of her campaign staff or her strange behavior. Regardless of the reason, her party sees trouble… (while I see opportunity and entertainment. Keep it up Katherine!)

Heckle: to idling and doing nothig. There has been virtually no progress in battling HIV/AIDS in the United States since the epidemic first began 25 years ago, and new discoveries have “slowed to a crawl” with no new treatments being discovered ‘for almost 10 years. (Not sure who to aim this to, but more needs to be done)

Applaud: to testing the waters. Former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) is in, or is scheduled to visit, various towns in New Hampshire and Iowa in an attempt to gauge what the response would be like were he to run for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 Presidential Campaign. I like Daschle, and he would be head and shoulders above Hillary and Kerry…

Heckle: to the Pentagon for deciding to omit a key tenet of the Geneva Convention in new detainee policies. This would be a tenet that explicitly bans ‘humiliating and degrading treatment.’ The State Department “fiercely opposes” the decision but has so-far been rebuked in its efforts to get the Pentagon and White House to reconsider. (Again, like many times this week, considering where the decision is coming from and who is making these desicisons, this doesn’t surprise me at all…)

That's all I have for the day… what are YOU applauding and heckling this week???

Who really cares?

Yesterday we learned that Iraqi al-Qeada leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in an airstrike on a safe house that he was reportedly hiding in. Good news right? I mean we are all glad to hear that another of the big terror leaders has bit the dust. At this point it should be the end of the story, we tracked the guy down, we killed him, he's dead. END OF STORY, let's move on now......

But no, today I was watching video of a news conference where CNN reporter Barbara Starr was asking Maj. Gen. William Caldwell if he had "any information that Zarqawi intitally survived the airstrike, that he was alive at any point in the hands of either Iraqi or U.S. forces, and can you tell us if one of the women was indentified as one of Zaqawi's wives or someone related to him."

Ok, I am not a formally trained journalist, but the first thought I had upon hearing her line of questioning was 'who cares?' Even if he was barely alive he was not going to tell anyone and I mean ANYONE anything of use. The General said that Zarqawi reportedly mumbled something uninteligible before dying. (It was probably a curse on the U.S.)

I mean does anyone in this country really give a shit if this guy was alive for 30 or 60 seconds after U.S. and Iraqi forces stormed the bombed area? and does it matter if one of the women in the house that was also killed was related to him in any way??? Why not ask what kind of hair care products may have been found amid the rubble? Did the occupants use hair spray or styling gel?

Come on Barbara if you're going to ask questions, ask some that really matter. Something along the lines of "now that Zarqawi is dead does that raise hopes that his followers will succomb to infighting and give us more opportunites to find them and arrest or elimiate them as well?" or something else that is ACTUALLY important and relates to what our troops are fighting against in Iraq. You're the journalist, you figure it out. Leave the stupid questions to the Enquirer....

Or am I oversimplifying this too much?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Poll Position (Finally)

Being such a hot-button topic, we were asked by quite a few people to leave our latest poll up in order to try and get a more-accurate reading of our regular viwers and their perception on the issue of immigration.

Well, it’s been up for quite a while now, so Scott and I have decided to (finally) take it down.

What a response this poll elicited, with close to 400 offering their varied thoughts on the matter.

To remind everyone, the question asked was “What would you like to see congress and the administration do regarding the issue of illegal aliens in the U.S.?”

The clear winner, with 32% of the vote, was to fine them, make them go through background checks and then make them wait six years to attain their citizenship. (Seems a tad harsh to me, but I can see where the people are coming from...)

The runner-up with 25% thought that since the immigrants are already here, and thus already ensconced in society, to just go ahead, give them amnesty and make them citizens outright. (Would probably be the easiest, but would most likely cause a LOT of problems)

Coming in next with a ‘respectable’ 19% were those who believe that all illegal immigrants should be rounded up and sent home (how exactly would that be accomplished would be my first question) with 18% agreeing with that sentiment, but going one step farther and erecting a big fence around the border (uh... the Germans tried that and it didn't work all that well...)

Interestingly enough, the sentiment of rounding them up and shipping them home and digging a wide canal around the border (similar in concept and idealism) got only 5% of the vote.

Where is the remaining 1%? Belonging to the respondents who don’t know and don’t care about the immigration issue. To them, Scott and I say; ‘Get a life. Open a book. Read a newspaper or online news service and try to get some intelligence into that narrow, unknowing mind of yours. Schmucks.” This issue does effect everyone, whether they know it or not, and to not have an opinion, even when it’s that small of a sample size, is pathetic and shows a true lack of emotion, knowledge and awareness.

And that’s all we’re going to say on the matter.

What do you think? Do you agree with the numbers? Disagree? Whatever your thoughts, let us know by leaving us a comment.

The new poll question is: “Do you think the death of Al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will help stem the tide of insurgent attacks in Iraq?”

That's gonna leave a mark...

U.S. officials made an official announcement this morning that Al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed in Iraq by a U.S.-led airstrike that dropped two 500-pound bombs on a house in which al-Zarqawi was meeting with other insurgent leaders.

The good news (yes, I believe it’s good news) about Zarqawi’s death comes as news of more violence is being reported, including two bombs striking a market and a police patrol in Baghdad, with the bombs killing (at least) 19 people and wounding “more than 40.”

Getting back to al-Zarqawi, various reports from U.S. military officials seem to indicate that Zarqawi may have been exposed by a group of individuals that were close to him, with some believing that this suggests an internal power struggle among Al-Qaida with the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, General George Casey, stating that, “Tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders from his network led forces to al-Zarqawi and some of his associates who were conducting a meeting… when the air strike was launched.”

Granted, we’ve all been told that al-Zarqawi has been killed before, but this time it seems to be accurate, with various individuals and organizations verifying his death.

Will this end the insurgency in Iraq? Absolutley not.

Will it ebb the insurgent attacks in Iraq? Possibly.

Is it a ‘victory’ for the Bush Administration? Doubtful... but one never knows.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Weekly Rewind

Greetings and salutations to you all. As Kemp mentioned the other day, he is out of town for some well deserved R&R, so once agian this week I will be informing you on the happenings of the past week. Some of these things may have been covered in the news and some may have been conveniently overlooked. In any case....away we go!

Heckle: to what the hell are you thinking. The Internal Revenue Service this week announced that in 2007 taxpayers will have the option of dividing their tax refund in up to three diferent banking/financial accounts. Oh yeah, taxpayers who elect this option will have to fill out yet another form! (You saw that one coming didn't you?) And just what is the reasoning behind this new ability to split your refund? “Split refunds should encourage saving, and we hope it will dampen demand for refund anticipation loans,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. Sorry Mark, but I don't see this leading to more people saving or lessoning a demand for refund loans. Remember we live in an instant world that demands instant gratification. Nice try though. How about making sure that people with six kids claim them on their W-4 and have the correct amounts withheld during the year instead of using the US Treasury as a 'christmas club' that pays them each spring?

Heckle: to another nice try, but we ain't buying it. Outgoing Treasury Secretary John Snow is still spouting off as one of the Bush brain-washed. Speaking about the just released May employement report, Snow stated “Today’s report is good news for American families. It shows that our economy is on solid footing and that we are heading in the right direction, giving Americans a renewed sense of optimism.” He went on to add, “I am pleased to note that virtually everywhere one looks there is good economic news."

I am more inclined to side with Bernard Baumohl of the Economic Outlook Group. His take on the numbers were more gloomy, “Today’s weak employment report represents one of the more concrete signs that we are about to enter a sustained economic slowdown in the second half.” Well said Mr. Baumohl.

Applaud: to others catching up to us. “President George W. Bush has been named the worst president in the last 61 years by American voters — with nearly twice the negative rating of Richard Nixon — in a new poll by Quinnipiac University.”

Heckle: to the real flip-flopper. The Bush administration’s “world-class flip-flop” on Iran goes unnoticed. It would be nice is other people noticed this besides us.

Applaud: to division in the ranks. House republicans have grown more and more combative. Seems that folks are getting nervous about holding onto their majority with the midterm elections looming in the distance. This should get even more interesting as we get closer to November. I see them losing the majority hold on congress, but then stranger things have happened. So all of you fellow left wingers don't think we have November in the bag just yet, we have a long 5 months to go.

Heckle: to the administration has itself to blame. The three-month probe of the reported massacre in Haditha, expected to be released next week, will likely conclude not only that “some officers gave false information to their superiors,” but that “senior Marine commanders were derelict in their duty to monitor the actions of subordinates.” Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell, who led the probe, “declined to say whether he would characterize it as a ‘coverup.’”

Applaud: to grass roots activism. “The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families announced Tuesday that it had secured more than twice the number of signatures it needed to refer the abortion ban passed by the 2006 Legislature to a vote of the people this fall.” The group gathered 37,846 signatures - “more than double the 16,728 they needed to get.”

Heckle: to still looking lame the second time around. Vice President Cheney “was dead set against” yesterday’s decision to offer the prospect of direct talks with Iran, one former Bush official said, but in the end “it came down to convincing Cheney and others that if we are going to confront Iran, we first have to check off the box” of trying talks.

Applaud: to once again showing that the scientist is indeed smarter than the politician. “Climate researchers at Purdue University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology separately reported new evidence yesterday supporting the idea that global warming is causing stronger hurricanes.” I'm not a scientist but even I could see the science behind this one.

That's all for this week. I know there are things that you are going to say I missed from the week, but hey, you're an adult, chime in, share your thoughts, what are you applauding or heckling?

Be good, stay informed...later.