Friday, March 30, 2007

Glances: "My Sweet Lord"

Nude chocolate Jesus ticks off Christians: Was the problem the dark chocolate used for our oddly imagined blond wavy-haired Christ?

PSEG CEO Ralph Izzo called for tough greenhouse gas limits in front of Congress, breaking with most utility executives. Surprisingly, Goldman Sachs is another major corporation getting green praises.

Of all the things that could shoot down Rudy Guiliani's quest for the White House, the biggest head scratchers were comments in the Barbara Walters interview with Guiliani and wife #3, the former Judith Nathan, last week the couple intends the little missez to have a role in Cabinet meetings and "definitely health care issues."

WALTERS: Will your wife be involved in policy decisions?

MR. GIULIANI: To the extent she wants to be. I couldn't have a better advisor.

WALTERS: Will you sit in on policy meetings?

MRS. GIULIANI: Again, if she asks me to, yes. And, certainly, in the areas of health care.

WALTERS: If and when you are president, will Mrs. Giuliani sit in on cabinet meetings?

MR. GIULIANI: If she wanted to. If they were relevant to something she was interested in, that would be something that I would be very, very comfortable with.
I can hear some old coot saying, "You femiNAZIs should like that!" This couple isn't talking about Mrs. Guiliani having X qualifications and taking responsibility for X job. They're talking about her being in the most important meetings of the "leader of the free world" as a little wifey hobby, occasionally, as whims hit her. That's just nuts. And what's with the "certainly, in the areas of health care"? Why would they want to inspire images of first lady Hillary Clinton?

Bush plans to veto Congress' Iraq occupation funding, updated. Sonny is having a tantrum because he can't have ice cream for dinner. Is my thinking oversimplistic? My reaction: Good on you, Bush. Veto it and you have $0 to continue your bloodbath in Iraq. Which side is holding the aces here? Congress. Or, couldn't Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi just quietly ask Dems except for Baucus, Nelson, Lieberman and the like to stay in town Easter weekend, then late Saturday call an Easter morning vote to override the veto? Seems to my memory that's kind of the scam our own Rep. Christopher Smith, R-Ocean, was in on with the Terri Schiavo feeding tube escapades. The biggest thorn in my side was Bush's midnight "emergency" Air Force One ride back and forth from his vacation in Crawford, Texas, cost in gas, alone, four years' worth of my annual salary.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"We don't believe in the evolution stuff"

Political activist Roger Fox has video from last week's Kearney Board of Education meeting, where students and others spoke both against and in favor of student Matt LaClair, who recorded his history teacher's Dominionist sermons to his class back in September.

I'll develop this more later, after work. I also have an interesting story on Leonard Peltier, redux, for you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A world where lies are true

Building of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., was behind schedule when I drove through there last summer, sadly. I've been anxious to see this for myself.

Chris Hedges, writing for Truthdig this week, goes there for us:

... Before Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise, museum visitors are told, all of the dinosaurs were peaceable plant-eaters. The evidence is found in Genesis 1:30, where God gives “green herb” to every creature to eat. There were no predators. T-Rex had such big teeth, the museum explains, so it could open coconuts. ...

The danger of creationism is that, like the pseudo-science of Nazi eugenics, it allows facts to be accepted or discarded according to the dictates of a preordained ideology. Creationism removes the follower from the rational, reality-based world. Signs, miracles and wonders occur not only in the daily life of Christians but in history, science, medicine and logic. The belief system becomes the basis to understand the world. Random facts and data are collected and made to fit into this belief system or discarded. When facts are treated as if they were opinions, when there is no universal standard to determine truth, in law, in science, in scholarship, or in the reporting of the events of the day, the world becomes a place where people can believe what they want to believe, where there is no possibility of reaching any conclusion not predetermined by those who interpret the official, divinely inspired text. This is the goal of creationists.

Other creationist museums are going up in Arkansas, Texas, California, Tennessee and Florida. Museums are part of a massive push to teach creationism in schools, part of a vast Christian publishing and filmmaking industry that seeks to rewrite the past and make it conform to the Bible. The front lines of the culture wars are the classrooms. The battle is one we are slowly losing. ...

Monday, March 26, 2007

"And then they came after me ..."

See a pattern here?

Monmouth County Fuhrer Adam Puharic used tactics reminiscent of Adolph Hitler at Saturday's Republican nominating convention when he simply repressed the dissent by not permitting entry to members who supported GOP Freeholder Anna Little, the corruption crusader who dared to question the County Counsel Malcolm Carton's billings and Freeholder Director Bill Barham's business partnership with a county contractor.

..."(W)e didn't want to give the dissenters an opportunity to grandstand," said Puharic. "They didn't want to win. They couldn't win. They wanted to grandstand, and we wouldn't let them." ...

"I’m a mayor and I can’t get in there," complained Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre.'s Max Pizzaro -- "Puharic ... close(d) the hall to the press" -- was there and nearly had an orgasm on the GOP "wins."

Flash back to New York City, August 2004. The Republican National Committee choses the vastly Democratic New York City for its "nominating convention" for the re-coronation of George Bush. Republican Mayor Bloomberg had police for a year prior undercover stalking artists who were planning to protest that unitary executive. The New York Times on Sunday reported:
From these operations, run by the department's "R.N.C. Intelligence Squad," the police identified a handful of groups and individuals who expressed interest in creating havoc during the convention, as well as some who used Web sites to urge or predict violence.

But potential troublemakers were hardly the only ones to end up in the files. In hundreds of reports stamped "N.Y.P.D. Secret," the Intelligence Division chronicled the views and plans of people who had no apparent intention of breaking the law, the records show.

These included members of street theater companies, church groups and antiwar organizations, as well as environmentalists and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies. Three New York City elected officials were cited in the reports.

In at least some cases, intelligence on what appeared to be lawful activity was shared with police departments in other cities. A police report on an organization of artists called Bands Against Bush noted that the group was planning concerts on Oct. 11, 2003, in New York, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston. Between musical sets, the report said, there would be political speeches and videos.

"Activists are showing a well-organized network made up of anti-Bush sentiment; the mixing of music and political rhetoric indicates sophisticated organizing skills with a specific agenda," said the report, dated Oct. 9, 2003. ...
Gasp! Bands. Did das Fuhrer Pulharic think of that one? He better get county Sheriff Joseph Oxley on it right away!!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Who killed the cats?

The wet pet food tainted with rat poison that has been recalled for killing cats and dogs is made by Menu Foods Inc., Toronto.

But its director, Robert W. Luba, used to be the president of Safety Kleen, a hazardous and industrial waste collection company that operated in U.S. states including Ohio.

Lethal Dose blog posted a list of Safety Kleen's violations here.

Teens on the road

Yesterday's Topic of the Day at the Asbury Park Press opinion page on teen driving is worth discussing.

On Our Radar proposed Jan. 27 that student drivers be given magnetic "Student Driver" signs to use on any car when schools hand them their certificate to start on-the-road training. As a mother with teens, I know how scared they are on New Jersey roads. It can't be easy when they see such crumby driving all around them as they learn.

Some APP readers have suggested not licensing anyone younger than 18, and others want provisional restrictions to extend to age 21 or later. Yet, these young people can be called to kill and be killed in our armed forces at 18. Does the philosophy seem consistent?

Christianity 101

The first three of the 10 Commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomony:

1) Thou shall have no other gods before me.
2) Thou shall not worship false idols, or bow down to worship them.
3) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Boy, are the Jesus Camp people in trouble. Do you suppose that's why it closed down after the documentary, "Jesus Camp," came out last September? Here's a clip, and no, it's not you, that babble is the kids and teacher "speaking in tongue":

I missed the film when it played at Rutgers' Filmfest in January, but I hope to catch it April 10 at Rowan University in Pittman.

A fox in the election chicken coop

Monmouth County's votes are tabulated on ES&S Model 650 optical scanners.

Bradblog has caught ES&S -- Electronic Systems & Software Inc. -- directing the audit of its own equipment in the still-contested Florida 13th District race.

Oops. The electronic voting industry just keeps getting caught red handed. They are putting late Chicago Mayor Richard J. "vote early and often" Daley to shame.

A Gonzalez point to ponder

I found this legal blog, Balkinization that ponders a little-noticed revelation in George Bush's statement earlier this week in the Gonzales Eight scandal:

I'm sure I wasn't the only one struck by a particular odd turn-of-phrase: "I'm sorry this, frankly, has bubbled to the surface the way it has, for the U.S. attorneys involved. I really am. These are -- I put them in there in the first place; they're decent people. They serve at our pleasure."

"Our" pleasure? ... The next day, Tony Snow curiously suggested that the removal decision was made, not by the President, but by the Department of Justice: "This is a decision that was made at the U.S. Department of Justice."

Indeed, Snow claimed that DOJ made the removals (i.e., asked for "resignations") without even telling the President! ... That's fairly remarkable and troubling, if it were true -- that the Attorney General fired eight U.S. Attorneys who are, by statute, removable by the President, and did so without even getting the President's approval for such a serious decision!

That's why it's almost certainly not true.
Meanwhile, a McClatchy newspapers report adds more fuel to the proofs of partisan fire (I think we're way beyond smoke on this one):
"Last April, while the Justice Department and the White House were planning the firings, Rove gave a speech in Washington to the Republican National Lawyers Association," McClatchy reports. "He ticked off 11 states that he said could be pivotal in 2008. Bush has appointed new U.S. attorneys in nine of them since 2005: Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. U.S. attorneys in the latter four were among those fired."

Rove later thanked the audience for "all that you are doing in those hot spots around the country to ensure that the integrity of the ballot is protected" and added, "A lot in American politics is up for grabs."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Roadblock to democracy

Remember when Rep. J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., was speaker of the House (before he got tied up in the Rep. Mark "I like boy pages" Foley, R-Fla., scandal) and made his outrageous policy announcement that only "the majority of the majority" would rule from that day on? That meant the American people and their representatives be damned, the 26 percent or so "majority of the majority" carrying water for George Bush would smother any measure Bush didn't want in committee so the rest couldn't even use their power to override a presidential veto.

Well, New Jersey's leadership is starting

to look like the same "majority of the majority." Gov. Corzine's re-assignment today of Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri to head the Turnpike Authority puts on the green light, whether he admits it or not, for "monetizing services." The Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike is a done deal, as far as this state's "majority of the majority" seems to have decided behind closed doors. I find this whole thing Mafia-esque, same as when "Denny boy" Hastert and Co. did it.

Even though the Republicans looooved the strategy when Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and her GOP majority did it in selling our public Motor Vehicles Services as "privatization," Republicans in this Legislature hate Corzine's Turnpike idea because, well, it's Corzine's idea.

Most of the Democratic voices and all of the public we've heard from on this also oppose the idea to lease road management, because it's, well, stupid.

To make profit, a corporation will have to raise or add tolls, let roads deteriorate and/or bust the labor abuses, all of which Corzine could do himself if he had the political guts. In the end, the corporation won't get something without us getting nothing. Those CEOs don't buy nothing to give something.

Is no one thinking of simply adding a 50/50 to the state lottery exclusively for paying that debilitating debt Whitman and Gov. James McGreevey sunk is into? New Jerseyans loooove 50/50s.

Wayne Madsen at Wayne Madsen Reports offers a novel proposal of his own on our dilemma.

If the privatization of the PA and NJ Turnpikes goes forward, let me offer up a civil disobedience idea. The day those toll booths become private, hundreds of thousands of motorists, including truckers, should run them through the barricadeless EZ-PASS lanes. Enough is enough and Rendell and Corzine don't have enough cops to stop that kind of mass (and easy) protest. They can only react by closing the turnpikes, at a tremendous loss in profit for the new owners. That is what is called a successful protest.

Oh, the obstructions!

As evidence mounts that this White House is obstructing justice to hide a more sinister enterprise than anyone has imagined, this is an important piece to add to the puzzle.

Cannonfire analyzes an obscure detail CREW uncovered in the document dump: a few "internal" emails that slipped into the pile were sent through a server owned by the Republican Party and circumvented automated goverment archiving.

More importantly, that server is owned by one of the main electronic black-box vote companies that has been scamming elections in anti-democratic magnitude since at least 2000.

GWB43 is the name of an internet server owned by the Republican National Committee.

Oddly enough, communications revealed in the course of the Great U.S. Attorney Purge document dump reveal that key figures within the administration used such email addresses as

The White House has its own internal email system, ending in the .gov suffix, as mandated by the Presidential Records Act. As Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) notes:

CREW has learned that to fulfill its statutory obligations under the PRA, the White House email system automatically copies all messages created by staff and sends them to the White House Office of Records Management for archiving. It appears that the White House deliberately bypassed the automatic archiving function of its own email system that was designed to ensure compliance with the PRA.

So why are White House personnel using private email addresses to bypass this system?

A not-unrelated question: Did Patrick Fitzgerald know about this bypass when he subpoenaed White House emails pursuant to the Plamegate investigation?
No, Tony Snow pleads, nothing wrong with firing our U.S. attorneys not doing Republican bidding, most normal thing in the world. Nope, nothing to see here folks, move along, move along.

Believe me, Cannonfire's post just gets jucier and jucier from there. It's today's must read.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Curiouser and curiouser," said Alice

No matter how favorable the Washington Post tries to spin the latest on the Gonzalez Eight scandal in favor of the White House, it's still lipstick on a pig.

In explaining the 18-day gap in e-mails on the firing of eight U.S. prosecutors, the White House can make a case one way -- that "the boss" in Harriet Miers' memo is Bush and understand he authorized this potential crime and was out of town those 18 days -- or you can have it the other -- that 18 days of documents Congress demanded are missing and presume the White House either destroyed them or is in contempt of Congress, or both.

But, the White House and its lapdogs can't have it both ways.

Doesn't it remind you of President Richard Nixon's famous 18-minute gap in his office tape recordings? Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been the leading blogger in this story.

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to hear how these White House officials evaluated N.J. federal attorney Chris Christie in making the hit list of prosecutors not doing enough partisan bidding to suit Bush. See my post Sunday, and help me if you can.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tonight's funny

Readers of this blog will love this MadTV skit, if you haven't seen it already:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Students speak out on war

About 1,000 Rutgers University students in New Brunswick today joined a class walkout to protest endless war in Iraq.

Rutgers Walkout Part 1, March 20th 2007

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Gold Star Mom Sue Niederer @ Rutgers University Walkout

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Meanwhile, a CNN report includes video of the growing number of Iraq war vets are joining protest marches.

Iraq: Reporter's notebook on the ground

UPI reporter Pamela Hess, just back from Iraq, tells C-SPAN, "U.S. national security can take care of itself, but someone has to take care of these Iraqi people."

Guaranteed, this video will clear some fog from your eyes.

Civil unions not = marriage

Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, posted over at that state statistics released today show insurance companies are widely failing to honor New Jersey's same-sex civil unions the same as they do for people under marriage contracts, traditional or same-sex.

In the first month of the civil union law, 20 cases have come our way where employers, hospitals and other institutions have actually told couples, "We don't care that you are civil-unioned -- we will only give you and your partner benefits if you're married."

Make no mistake: This is happening even though it violates the Lewis v. Harris decision and the New Jersey civil unions statute that emerged from it. In fact, two insurance companies have stated they are providing benefits to married same-sex couples in Massachusetts, but not to civil-union couples in New Jersey. Garden State Equality will have more on this in the days ahead.

If you're a same-sex couple whose New Jersey civil union is not being recognized, please call Steven Goldstein, on cell (917) 449-8918, or call our Garden State Equality office at (973) GSE-LGBT.

Morning news

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Gov. Corzine kick the showdown up a notch at yesterday's Senate committee hearing on chemical plant security that was held here in Newark. Of course, we're on our New Jerseyan's side, not Bush's in his attempt to become supreme unitary monarch of the world.

Judge urges state to raise bar on electronic voting machines. We'll be keeping an eye on this story, because the Sequoia AVC Advantage electronic voting machines we use in Ocean County are among the specific targets for Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg to monitor retrofitting with paper printouts that voters can verify.

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson says George Bush has committed high crimes and misdeameanors and should be impeached, while Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, also asks "is it time to impeach" the president? On Our Radar say yes.

Greening up

A couple of online magazines devoted to more natural living gaining ground:

The Green Guide is a monthly print magazine that posts a lot online, too.

Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that examines government data and does its own scientific research to expose threats to public health and the environment, much like Consumer Reports does for manufactured products. The Washington lobby group recently hired N.J. Sen. Frank Lautenberg's longtime press secretary, Alex Formuzis.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Organic farms and wetlands

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is pushing a bill that would preserve more wetlands and help farmers transition to organic agriculture.

It may not have much hope, but the goals are simple and long overdue.

“States like New Jersey have gotten screwed by the Farm Bill every year,” Tim Male, a senior ecologist for Environmental Defense, told the Atlantic City Press. “They just lose out.”

Old Grandma Hardcore

I couldn't put it better than Shakespeare's Sis:

This is Old Grandma Hardcore, a gamer whose video game exploits are chronicled by her 24-year-old grandson, playing Resistance: Fall of Man. Not worksafe.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Animal School

Parents and teachers should love this video at Raising Small Souls. Click on the purple box in the middle that says, "Animal School."

Open records online

Interesting discussion's going on in the Brick forum over at, where a lot of people seem to want the Brick Board of Education to use its Web site to post the complete budget plan projected to raise the tax rate more than 6 cents per $100 assessed property value.

... So you can invent these false paradigms that if only we all weren't too lazy to find out the real numbers or too dumb to understand them, we'd know everything's fine, move along, nothing to see here. This has been an excuse used for decades, but with the advent of the www, it doesn't fly ANYMORE. If the board were honest, it would have posted the complete budget online the same day the board introduced it. It has not. It is tacitly denying us the right to review the full budget, ask relevant questions and make useful comments on it.
Another poster gave links to two other school districts that do just that, is Fairfax County, Va., and here is the Illinois State School Board.

I think they raise good points. Why don't our school boards, municipalities and county and state government, for that matter, post pdf files of their budget proposals and video of all public sessions at their Web sites?

Todd Christie and Goldman Sachs

Call me obsessed. My mind keeps trying to wrap around New Jersey's position on Gonzales' hit list in the U.S. attorney scandal, but stuff we presume to be partisan just doesn't add up. I'm trying to put together a timeline.

So, take a seat. This is a long one, but bear with me and I think you'll find it worthwhile. Help me out if you can, and please correct me if you think I'm wrong on any of it.

In January 2002, Christopher J. Christie had to stop his Bush Pioneer campaign fundraising when he was sworn in as Bush's appointee for New Jersey's federal attorney. Like U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, his boss, Christie was criticized for never having tried a criminal case in his life, according to the Bayshore Journalista. Christie reportedly knew of his selection in September 2001.

In 2002, Chris Christie's younger brother, Todd, had tons of money to boost his own Bush contributions from a mere $12,000 to $400,000.

Todd Christie says not to worry our pretty little heads. It's simple. He got rich in fall 2000, just as the U.S. Supreme Court named George Bush president, because Goldman Sachs bought his Wall Street firm, Spear, Leeds & Kellogg, for $100 million. He continued at Spear Leeds as its CEO. (Indeed, Todd paid $3.8 million in 2001 to buy a Mendham home from a Fox executive -- a home he kept only a few months and that ended up sold back to another Fox executive, all with million-dollar price hikes at each change of hands.)

Goldman Sachs, you may remember, is the firm that made now Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, a very rich man when he was its CEO and took the investment firm from private to public.

Todd Christie resigned from Spears Leeds in 2003 when he found out the federal Securities Exchange Commission was probing him in a stock fraud scandal. More on exactly what kind of service Spears Leeds provided is here.

At the end of 2004, after Gov. James McGreevey's sudden resignation, brother Chris was widely seen as a shoe-in for the Republican nominee the next November for McGreevey's job.

Then April 2005 comes. Todd Christie is among 20 stock traders accused in a fraud case. The SEC alleges he committed more than 1,000 improper trades over four years when he managed trades on the NYSE floor as co-CEO of Spear Leeds. A New York Times editorial April 16, 2005, pointed out that even though Todd Christie got the fourth largest payout of the group, he faced only civil penalties while the three above him and the next 11 on the list all were indicted on criminal charges.

Keep in mind: The stock fraud case is out of a federal SEC probe under the Bush administration. Although U.S. lawyers and investigators are not supposed to be party-loyalist jobs, we learned in the past two weeks as the Gonzales Eight scandal unfolds that this has not been the approach for this White House.

In December 2004, then-U.S. Sen. Corzine announced his run for McGreevey's old job. In November 2005, Corzine trounced former Gov. Thomas Kean's son, Tom Kean Jr., a Republican.

Corzine is ostensibly a Democrat, but it's curious that he is considering some fiscal ideas that had been the hallmark of Republicans, such as privatizing government services. Gov. Christie Whitman in the '90s sold management of the DMV to Parsons, a traditional military contractor that at the time was on the brink of bankruptcy thanks to President Clinton's aversion to war.

Now, Mother Jones magazine reports Goldman Sachs, Corzine's old boss, stands to win big if New Jersey under Corzine opts to lease the management of our toll roads similar to how Whitman, who holds an MBA from Wharton, sold management of our DMV to one of her favorite corporate "charities."

Let's start an ongoing list of Chris Christie's targets, shall we?

* May 2003, Christie widely credited for "first big kill" -- former Essex County Executive James Treffinger, a Republican who was top contender for the party's candidate for U.S. Senate -- but that investigation began in 2000 and Treffinger was, well, fingered long before Christie showed up. Besides, in the end, none of Treffinger's Republican associates got jail time.

* Summer 2004, major Dem fund-raiser Charles Kushner, pleaded guilty to tax violations and witness tampering in an incident involving a prostitute in a blackmail scheme. Much ballyhooed, but Christie's best plea deal was either so minor or so politically charged that he did not require Kushner to cooperate with investigators to nail corrupt politicians.

* February 2005, arrests in Operation Bid Rig International Trucks bribery investigation, also begun at least a year before Christie appeared on the scene. Eight Republican and three Democrats were charged. But who can forget GOP ex-Keyport Mayor John Merla's cat-that-ate-the-canary grin at sentencing to Club Fed? What does he, and possibly Christie, know that the rest of us don't that makes him so pleased with his situation?

* Later in 2005, a few more Monmouth County officials nailed, including former Middletown Township Committeeman Raymond J. O'Grady, a Republican, eventually given 43 months in federal prison at Fort Dix for a corruption and bribes in an FBI sting.

* September 2006, sudden investigation into a nonprofit that leased property from then-state Sen. Robert Menendez, who was running for Corzine's U.S. Senate seat. The timely news "leaks" from Christie's office about records related to that nonprofit being subpoenaed from Mendendez' office -- within hours translated from GOP Talking Points right into media echo chambers as "Menendez under investigation" -- was just a little too fortuitous for the GOP for anyone but the most naive not to suspect partisan gamesmanship. Further, it has been pointed out that at the same time Christie went after this fish that now seems lost from his hook, he ignored suspect dealings recently convicted Dem fundraiser John Lynch has with GOP boss Jack Morris and Christie family friend state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, involving Aberdeen-Matawan and Keyport properties.

* January 2007, ex-Brick Mayor Joseph Scarpelli pleads guilty to taking a bribe from a yet unknown source. Talk on the street is a second Dem fish is on Christie's hook from the Lynch fishing trip, but still no explanation why no bait reserved to look at Morris' and Kyrillos' dealings with Lynch (or, maybe, just a fortuitous lack of news leaks in the case of Republicans under investigation?).

There are supposedly 100 notches in Christie's belt, according to Bob Ingle at Gannett's Statehouse Bureau. Can you help me find them?

Hat tips here to Bayshore Journalista's Jackie Corley and Their previous posts put together a few different, pertinent puzzle pieces.

Campaign finance records from the state Election Law Enforcement Commission reveal that in all the years before 2001, Chris Christie made two contributions totaling just $800 to the state Republican Committee. But from 2001 to 2004, Christie and his family donated at least $144,000, a lot of it in May and June 2001, the time when state Republicans were mulling who they'd recommend to Bush as his U.S. attorney here.

The Christie brothers' business associates, including Kyrillos, also donated generously to the state Republicans during that critical time Chris was being considered for recommendation. Does one hand wash another? Employees of Todd's New York company then donated $14,000 to Kyrillos' campaign in October 2001. In the three years Kyrillos held a committee chairmanship, the Christies and their associates gave the Kyrillos campaign $30,850.

What's the definition of pay-to-play? Both the Dems and the GOP in this state talk a lot about banning it, but they seem to point fingers at each other for the holdup. No wonder.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Funny of the day

Jesus' General is reporting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's other confessions under his torture besides 9/11 and every other terrorist and nonterrorist crime in the past 20 years include:

New Coke
Not sending enough troops in the initial Iraq invasion
Faking the deaths of Tupa, Elvis, and Jim Morrison, converting them to Islam, and hiding them out in a cave in Peshawar
Selling Vogon Star Cruisers to Hugo Chavez
Introducing Bill O'Reilly to the magical properties of loofahs and falafels
Telling Scooter Libby about Valerie Plame
Paris Hilton
Gonzales Eight

Plamegate and Sibel Edmonds

Lukery at the Wotisitgood4 blog has a fresh post about fired FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, the most legally gagged person in American history. I think Luke is an Aussie who hasn't been afraid to dig and speculate, and Sibel has said he understands and connects the dots better than anyone else about the truths she can't say without being tried for treason under the Bush/Cheney regime.

What we didn't see anyone yesterday ask Valerie Plame under oath -- and maybe this was one of the things on the gag list someone gave our House representatives -- is about exactly when Plame's cover company was outed. Most of us think Robert Novak did it with the second column he published in July 2003 a week after his first one that outed her as a CIA agent who is Joe Wilson's wife.

What educated speculation tells us is that one of the things Sibel heard when translating the pre-9/11 tapes in 2001 is that Marc Grossman, who was in the State Department when Plame was outed in 2003 and is part of AIPAC, outed Brewster Jennings in 2001 to a quasi-criminal Turkish organization dealing in the underground nuclear market that Plame was tracking. Dick Cheney can out Plame, but Sibel can't out the rest of that plot that shut down Plame's cover company two years earlier. Funny. Not very objective.

Go here for a link to a trailer for a new movie about Sibel.

Rep. Rush Holt's ballot bill

One of my favorite radio shows, Ring of Fire, today hosted Ralph Neas of People for the American Way, who says even though N.J. Rep. Rush Holt's electronic ballot bill is flawed, PFAW is supporting it. Time is of the essense, he says.

Last week, show hosts Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mike Papantonio had on Brad Friedman of Brad Blog, who thinks the bill is too flawed to support in the form it's in.

The main contention is that Holt seems not to have understood the real problem when he wrote it to require "paper trail" instead of "paper ballots." What needs to happen is that electronic poll machines need to be able to spit out a receipt to verify their vote. After all, the makers of these machines also make bank ATMs. Can you imagine how long those would have lasted in the market if it didn't verify to you as a customer what was going in or coming out of your accounts -- if you had to wait until a final statement each month and then had no recourse if they gave your money to another customer but said it was secrret how that happened? That's what the "black boxes" we vote on do now.

Neas says his position is that it's unrealistic to mandate every county clerk in the nation to replace the machines they already have, and if the bill did that, no part of the bill could be put into action by this November.

Ring of Fire plays again from 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow, Sunday. You can stream it anytime or listen live online tomorrow, but if you're in Monmouth County your radio may pick it up on New York WWRL 1600 AM (may because the radio signal is reduced on nights and weekends).

Off with me now, because their next guest is Joe Wilson. I'm going to get a cup of coffee and roll my chair up to the radio!

No cat's meow

Here's a deadly federal food recall pet owners need to know about.

The "cuts and gravy" cat and dog food an obscure manufacturer makes for store brands sent poisonous food since December. Nine cats and one dog have died of kidney failure (loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting).

The stores that got the recalled food are listed here. They include brands like Iams, off-brands like America's Choice at Wal-Mart and store bramds found at PetSmart, Wegmens and other stores. For a full brand list go here for cat food and here for dog food.

I'm glad I never shop at Wal-Mart, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory of this millenium.

Do you think the FDA does enough to get the word out about these things? It seems like the agency isn't as aggressive in the media as it used to be. And, question for you libertarians: Do you really prefer we don't have such an agency, so this obscure Toronto company could keep mindlessly making poisonous food without anyone being employed to put the pieces of the deadly puzzle together?

Update March 24: The recall on the rat poison-tainted wet pet food was expanded. ABC television reported the toxin came from wheat imported from China that was used in the pet food. Ain't outsourcing grand?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mail bag

People for the American Way is circulating a petition calling for U.S. Attorney Alberto Gonzales to be fired. Common Cause has a letter to sign on the same subject.

United for Peace and Justice has a calendar of events around the nation for the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. UPJ/New York City has a march this Sunday. The big march on Washington is Saturday.

Democracy for America also has scheduled four days of anti-war events nationwide including vigils at 6 p.m. Monday at Broad and Harding in Red Bank and near the Chuck E. Cheese at Brick Plaza, Chambers Bridge Road, in Brick starting at 7 p.m. Monday.

Rutgers students' e-mail didn't give a link but announced a campuswide walkout and demonstration against war in Iraq starting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Voorhees Mall at the Vietnam Memorial behind Scott Hall, 43 College Ave., and marching down George Street to the Marine Recruiting Station at 303 George St. in New Brunswick. Lots of speakers at both ends, it says.

Brave New Foundation's e-mailed tells of its new online video memorial to fallen soldiers.

Physicians for Social Responsibility is organizing a lobby day April 26 to stop new nuclear weapons and curb global warming.

And all that fun is free!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Just for amusement

I was looking for the sneezing baby panda to post ...

... when I stumbled on this Cats video on YouTube:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A weeping earth can't speak

So, it's good to be forearmed for people like filmmaker Martin Durkin.

Oceanography professor Carl Wunsch tells The Observer in London today that his contribution to the film to Durkin's new film, "The Great Global Warming Swindle," was "grossly distorted" and "as close to pure propaganda as anything since World War II."

I wonder if ExxonMobil paid for Durkin's "work" the way they paid for Michael Crichton's cult novel, "State of Fear."

Last month, the Environmental Law Prof Blog reported ExxonMobil's "nonpartisan" think tank American Enterprise Institute is offering $10,000 bribes to any scientist willing to downplay or criticize U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings, that scientists worldwide are virtually unanimous global warming is real, deadly serious and caused by human misbehavior, including burning fossil fuels that are Exxon's livelihood. Deja vu Rep. John Boehner's audacity handing out cash bribes from tobacco lobbyists right on the House floor in 1995 to change votes that already had been cast against Big Tobacco.

But if you want a chuckle, check out this blog Exxon and others fund that masquerades as an "environmental blog" of the (cough cough) "nonpartisan" National Center for Public Policy Research. That's one of 40 so-called conservative (but conserving nothing) think tanks Exxon funds to ride roughshod over the career democracy policy minds in Washington. The blogger, Amy Ridenour, a veteran organizer of the College Republicans, is president of National Center for Public Policy Research and hubby, fellow College Republican David A Ridenour, is its VP. College Republicans = environmental science credentials, in newspeak, that is. Exxon pays the Ridenours $55,000 a year to do its bidding.

The Ridenours were whores for Big Tobacco, too. The Union of Concerned Scientists has a report also making that comparison. So has Crichton, a physician by education, who is known for proclaiming second-hand tobacco smoke never hurt anyone. How ironic that Crichton was caught in college plagiarizing George Orwell, author of "1984" and inventor of the term "newspeak" for intentionally deceptive language.

RIP: Asbury Sound original gone

Original E Street Band member and accomplished solo songwriter Bill Chinnock, 59, died this week at home in Maine. His manager says it was suicide. Apparently, he suffered serious Lyme disease.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketChinnock's blues and rock style on guitar, keyboard, vocals and songwriting helped launch Bruce Springsteen to fame. Fans might want to watch the Boss' cult sites to see what he says about Chinnock.

Chinnock's family has updated his Web site.

Didn't they learn from "Jeff Gannon"?

The gay blog world that outed magical "journalist" Jeff Gannon of the's Talon News online "newspaper" has caught another impostor. You'll remember "Go Ahead, Jeff" as the short-lived member of the White House press corps on whom Bush spokesmen Ari Fleisher and Scott "my Scott" McClellan always could count for a GOP talking point "question" when the grilling got hot.

Well, the new darling at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last week was Col. Matt Sanchez, 36, a returning college student. CPAC bestowed its Jeane Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award upon Sanchez. President Reagan's U.N. ambassador must be rolling in her grave.

Like James D. Guckert, who played the role of Jeff Gannon in the aforementioned scam, Sanchez is a gay prostitute, and also a porn star. Remember Ann Coulter, another of CPAC's darlings last week calling Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a "faggot" and earlier predicting we'll see Dem candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton "come out of the closet"? I posted on that a few days ago.

Max Blumenthal wrote a good piece here for Huffington Post, but please be aware that some of the links to the gay bloggers have very graphic sexual images, including shots from Sanchez' professional portfolio. Sanchez makes his rebuttal at

The paradoxical newspeak of the conservative 101st Keyboard Brigade never ceases to amaze me. It seems as if you can almost bet that whatever they say they are is, in fact, the polar opposite. If your first language is newspeak, it makes perfect sense that gay prostitute/porn stars have a welcome mat at homophobic conservative gatherings.

Maybe CPAC would be better off if it took a page from Monmouth County GOP chair Adam Puharic's playbook primary-candidate contract that requires everyone to pay for a litmus test, er, "background check," that would go to the party chair to decide who gets to be recognized as "Republican."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Breck girl and the "skinny kid with a funny name"

Every hostess knows the pain of throwing a party and having no one show up. So, boo hoo today for Fox cable television (I refuse to call it "News"), which had to call off its trumpeted Democratic presidential debate in Nevada.

The handsome John Edwards respectfully declined and Barack Obama, who wowwed America at the '04 Democratic convention with his "politics of hope" speech, did not respond to the invitation, but earlier had blown off Fox reporters after that started the Hussein-is-his-middle-name hysteria.

As every teen knows, if you can't get the kul kids to your party, only desperate nerds will come.

So Edwards and Obama outfoxed Fox with a whisper merely by doing what real leaders do -- follow their principles.

I've been studying the phenomenon called Fox since Aussie Rupert Murdoch brought his style of "journalism" here some 20 years ago. And then watch as every dweeb network followed suit to get a piece of the money pie Fox was getting. I'm convinced it's as much the manipulative mouthpiece of the neoconservative branch of the Republican Party as Pravda and Tass were for the USSR's Communist Party. It may be worse, because Pravda didn't compete with real, objective media it could camouflage within.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Newt's finest "family values" moment

Speaking of naughty, bed-hopping Republicans ...

Former House leader Newt Gingrich, seen as a hopeful recruit for the Republican presidential race, told the Associated Press, "I had an affair during the Clinton impeachment."

Oh, really?

Gingrich explains he's not a hypocrite, because he pursued President Clinton's infidelity only out of "concern" about trying to punish Clinton for perjury, not "rendering judgment" on a "personal level." It was so important he spent $60 million of our tax dollars investigating every allegation, only to come up dry on everything except a sex act with a consenting woman who deserved her privacy respected, even if Clinton was a public figure.

Newt says neither he nor any of his Republican caucus ever spoke judgmentally or personally about Clinton. Ha! And still don't, right? The one and only issue, ever, was that Clinton lied -- never mind it was in answer to a question no one except Hillary had any business asking him. He sure doesn't seem so "concerned" about I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's conviction last week for perjury -- oh, no, not when a convicted liar is one of his own. (Note: The Senate did not convict Clinton on the Newt-led House impeachment.)

Here's what I wonder. Is Newt's Bible some new edition I don't know about? Mine says a lie by omission is equally as sinful. Seems as if he has been omitting this sin he committed under oath of office.

And my Bible also speaks poorly of those who don't show contrition for their sins, Newt.

The Gonzales Eight

Raise of hands: Who thought no one could be worse than John "anointed in Crisco" Ashcroft as the head of the U.S. Department of Justice?

By jove, I think we found a worse attorney general in Alberto Gonzales. If you haven't been watching the past week, as the news unfolds about his purge of U.S. attorneys who are doing their jobs prosecuting crooks, of whom some are -- oops, Republicans -- TPMmuckraker seems to be doing the best and most timely blogging on this.

What makes the overreach even more remarkable is that all eight fired federal attorneys are Republicans, just not the brownshirt type, to their credit but to George Bush's chagrin, apparently.

And that's not all. Joe Conason over at details "Alberto Gonzales' coup d'etat." Seems Gonzales had the true brownshirts in Congress sneak into the Patriot Act, on its recent renewal, a little clause that gives George Bush new power to replace them without oversight. I say George Bush and not "the president" because no doubt its unconstitutionality will be resolved by the next un-George term. Like the SCOTUS decision in Gore v. Bush, it is for the benefit only of George Bush.

Now, the kicker.

Next raise of hands: Is anyone besides me wondering if there's anything to the pattern of prosecution from our New Jersey U.S. attorney, Christopher Christie, over the past year or two? He started out sweeping lots of very crooked Republicans and one lone, run-of-the-mill Asbury Park scammer, and then seems no longer to be interested in Republicans. He's issuing subpoena after subpoena going after Democrat in the statehouse and governor's office.

Not that there aren't plenty of crooks in both parties to keep any federal attorney plenty busy in New Jersey. Certainly, there are. But do you notice a pattern here? Who can help but wonder if Christie was prodded similarly to the tactics Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson are reported to have used in New Mexico.

Do you think it's complete coincidence federal prosecutors in New York indicted Christie's brother in a stock fraud sweep just before everyone was expecting Christie to announce candidacy in the GOP primary for New Jersey's governor's seat? What games are going on behind the Justice Department doors?

* is asking New Jersey's Republican congressmen to go on record as to whether they made phone calls to Christie about whom he should prosecute.

* Paul Krugman at the New York Times raised the same point about Christie's suspicious pattern of prosecution: (snip)"(T)he growing scandal over the firing of federal prosecutors immediately brought to mind the subpoenas that Chris Christie, the former Bush “Pioneer” who is now the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, issued two months before the 2006 election — and the way news of the subpoenas was quickly leaked to local news media. The subpoenas were issued in connection with allegations of corruption on the part of Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat who seemed to be facing a close race at the time. Those allegations appeared, on their face, to be convoluted and unconvincing ..." And, now post-election, seem to have all been about nothing. Did these people never hear the tale of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"? They're playing a dangerous game, but it's all of our democracy and not just the GOP that stand to get eaten by the fox when no one believes legal watchdogs anymore.

Expect to see more about Christie in relation to the Gonzales Eight scandal.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Time to talk impeachment

So I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is guilty of lying. That's no surprise to anyone who has followed his trial and watched the evidence unfold on paper proofs in this trial.

No surprise, either, that the coalition of the Kool-Aid immediately, and laughably, start screaming "pardon" for Scooter, even as his lawyer promises appeal. Why not? President Bush's daddy pardoned the Iran-Contra criminals who got caught doing his bidding. Bush 1 even pardoned a couple before they went to trial. Deja vu.

And, ironically, Libby knows something about pardons: He managed to persuade President Clinton to give one to his client, fugitive Marc Rich. Oh, the tangled webs we weave ...

But let's cut to the real chase.

Those paper proofs show that Vice President Dick Cheney, while claiming it was Bush's order, instructed both executives' No. 1 men, Libby and Karl Rove, to reveal the highly classified information that Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA operative in countertproliferation (and that arm is only on the covert ops side of the CIA, a fact that screamed "classified" to all players from the start).

So, will House Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., begin impeachment hearings? Plame, herself, is to testify next week in House Plamegate hearings. Pelosi has said she's not doing impeachment, but how can she not now, after the revelations in this trial point ultimately to the elected officials, not the henchmen? It's the House's job to investigate and impeach, and the Senate's job to convict if those proofs are valid. How much more valid than the testimony in Judge Reggie Walton's federal courtroom?

If you're looking for information over the water cooler to counter all the insane red-herrings the coalition of the Kool-Aid have out there, factual media history over at Media Matters is a good start.

Oh, and remember this isn't just about one operative. Robert Novak, in a second, more damaging leak a week after outing Plame, outed her CIA cover company, Brewster Jennings. That second outing jeopardized the lives of every American agent in or ever in that operation tracking WMD worldwide, and every foreign agent and asset ever tied to this company in its 10 or 20 years of getting legitimized. Former CIA agents have speculated people, plural, were killed as a result of Cheney's mad meddling.

This was an act of treason against America and its allies. America is the people not the "unitary executive." Even if George Bush has the power to order declassified information on a whim -- one of the straws Cheney has grasped for even as the law says otherwise -- he is accountable to us.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Which is more offensive, the bigotry or the stupidity?

I didn't want to ring the echo chamber on this latest Ann Coulter dust-up calling Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a "faggot," but I'm interested in what Shore readers have to say about it.

Let's be clear on one thing. Degrading terms like faggot are only about hate, bigotry and divisiveness, so save any "thin skin" defense of that word. But I'm sitting here shaking my head and wondering if the sheer stupidity of it isn't worse than the offensive word. I mean, whether you favor Edwards' political views, what's the point of gay-baiting a happily married man who has sired four children with his one-and-only wife, unlike notorious bed-hopping men among those she calls "her people," which includes former Rep. Mark Foley, the boy-page lover his fellow then-majority covered for?

It's not the first time she used gay references to those she calls her "opponents" (a little self-aggrandizing for an alleged pundit, no?). She apparently thinks her base has chips in their brains that dismiss as a nonperson anyone who is homosexual. In August, she said she was willing to bet Sen. Hilary Clinton comes "out of the closet" before the '08 election.

Do card-carrying Republicans really still listen to her? If so, why? What does nonfact-based hate contribute to the public discourse?

Meanwhile, Verizon is among several businesses that now have pulled their advertising from her Web site as a result. Daily Kos reports today. Thank you, Verizon.

Top commander: Iraq 'surge' a 1-in-4 longshot

Sen. Gordon Smith told an audience Friday in Oregon that Gen. David Petraeus, the new top military commander in Iraq, recently told him the troop surge has only a one-in-four chance of succeeding, the Oregonian reported. Hat tip to the Rachel Maddow Show's Buried the Lead, one of my favorite features in talk radio.

And there is no Plan B, says seemingly everyone from head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Washington Post reported Monday.

Then there's still the perennial question: Success of what? There never were WMD, not even the long-rotted chemicals Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld sold Saddam Hussein when they were friends in the 1980s. It'll be four years in May that "Mission Accomplished" was declared; Saddam was captured more than three years ago and is now dead; George Bush (God of the world) declared Iraq sovereign, and democratic elections chose its government just in time to make George look good for his own presumed election in 2004. Think Progress has a timeline with source citations.

Yet at every step, this White House has mucked up the bloody civil war we unleashed in Iraq more and more. But luck be a lady this time? Someone who goes back to the poker table in Atlantic City with 1-in-4 odds, after losing miserably at every hand for four full years, would be called a gambling addict. What do you call a president who can't figure out when to fold 'em?

Dag, man

The giggles about Gov. Corzine's reference in his state budget address to Dag Hammarskjold as his boyhood hero have subsided, but my insatiable curiosity has not.

Corzine didn't name drop for nothin'. We're left to think while other boys in Willey's Station, Ill., in the 1950s were reading Hardy Boys books, Corzine was devouring every book the then-U.N. secretary general from Sweden had written. How many could Taylorville Library have had?

Hammarskjold is known for his post-war diplomacy that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. Just how is that relevant to New Jersey's budget this year, though?

His only marketable authorship today seems to be "Markings," his spiritual musings published posthumously. There's a more obscure collection of his writings and speeches, "The Servant of Peace," by Wilder Foote. Many books were written about him and his work.

But what was Corzine reading in the '50s by Hammarskjold, I wonder? A full bibliography of the books Hammarskjold authored before his death in a suspicious plane crash in 1961 is still eluding me at the moment. Any librarians out there who can help?

Hammarskjold's U.N. biography does say his undergrad majors in Sweden included social philosophy and political economy, and in 1933 he wrote his doctoral dissertation, "The Spread of the Business Cycle." He worked in the Swedish banking industry and held posts in public and private banking simultaneously after being appointed Sweden's Ministry of Finance. He shaped Sweden's post-war financial policy, and negotiated trade and financial matters with other countries before going into foreign service. A political independent, he was a delegate in Paris helping to create the Marshall Plan in 1947.

The Nobel organization tells more about the impact of his work.

"Praise those of your critics for whom nothing is up to standard." -- Dag Hammarskjold

Vote fraud tortoise and the hare

The tortoise won in that story, and so, it seems is presumed congressional loser Clint Curtis. The computer-programmer-turned-politician is coming out ahead in his actual voter-by-voter private recount of the Florida's 24th district and others. (And, thank you, Brad Friedman for finally changing your seizure-inducing green-on-black type scheme, phew!)

Looks like Rep. Tom Feeney got greedy. An intellectual, he is not. Curtis, who worked for Feeney in private industry back in 2000, when he says Feeney as a then-Republican lobbyist had Curtis write a vote-stealing program for the black boxes then in use, was running consistently even in polls with Feeney yet lost by 16 percent.

What would you do if that happened to you in a poll of 10 people in the room? I'd go ask the 10 people if they really voted for the other guy. That's what Curtis is doing, and affidavits already show statistical proof to back him up.

Back on Capitol Hill, will he be able to get the holes patched in N.J. Rep. Rush Holt's bill?: "They seem to be getting it in D.C. now. You know, Holt put out his bill. There’s a few things that need to be fixed. But there are several people that are willing to put the amendments out there."