Saturday, June 30, 2007

Catching up

Brookdale Community College decides U.S. Attorney Chris Christie is too politically partisan to televise an interview he did with pal state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, R-Monmouth.

An Arizona tourist blogs on his disgust Rep. Jim Saxton, R-Ocean, recycles all letters, literally a ream 3 inches deep, unread that constituents send him daily on immigration.

She (staffer) explained that this really wasn’t the Congressman’s issue and that he was focused more on the interests of his district in New Jersey.
Not interested in illegal immigration? Does Saxton ever come up from his rabbit hole?

Start the dirges for the day we won't be able to buy all this crap we do so cheaply. China has passed sweeping laws to protect its laborers, "rejecting pleas from foreign investors who argued that the measure would reduce China’s appeal as a low-wage, business-friendly industrial base." Gee, ya think? Maybe Chinese workers who are treated nicely won't slip poison into cat food and toothpaste additives they ship over here. I'd rather pay $5 for an umbrella than $1 -- or get wet -- than be on kidney dialysis, or dead, because American companies exploit unregulated Chinese suppliers.

Another one bites the dust. Rachel Brand, one of few left in Alberto Gonzalez' ranking army, resigned the Justice Department yesterday. Let me guess. The AAG for legal policy has been subpoenaed? That's seven directly under Gonzo who presumably can't justify their own "Justice" actions according to that little nuisance called "law." UpdateThe Next Hurrah reports interim USA Scott Schools also bailed on Gonzo this week. (Do they go out of their way to pick people with nouns for last names?)

Speaking of which, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo updates the case of ex-Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who may be Karl Rove's biggest success so far in politicizing the Justice Department. We wrote about it initially on June 1.

"Rupert Murdoch is no saint," says Moyers of the Fox News owner. "He is to propriety what the Marquis de Sade was to chastity. When it comes to money and power, he's carnivorous, all appetite and no taste. He'll eat anything in his path."

In this Hardball clip, do you find yourself hoping, as I do, the little girl in the back will just smack Ann Coulter upside the head? I can't tell if the kid is laughing at or with her.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hump day hilarity


Myrtle Malloy ... Molly McCoy. Too close for comfort?

While you're at it, check out this bit of history. We've come a long way baby, and we're not giving it back, no matter what the Radical 5 of the Supremes say.

Hat tip to Feministing for this find.

Profile in courage

I'm awed by Newark Schools Superintendant Marion Bolden's leadership. She identified her own action as "homophobic" last week when she blackened out all East Side High yearbook pictures of a student kissing his boyfriend. It was one of several Andre Jackson had included in the $150 ad he bought. Bolden is having the yearbook republished and is offering replacements.

Her public apology via Steve Goldstein of Garden State Equality is courageous in a society that still harbors a lot of bigotry, seen and unseen, heard and unheard.

The Newark Star-Ledger ran this picture of the redacted photograph. I think it's a beautiful.

The ruckus turned out for the better. It was an opportunity to enlighten at least one -- and probably many more, because of true leadership -- on diversity and equality.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy anniversary

It's party time!

We're commemorating the third anniversary of Dick Cheney telling Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, "Go fuck yourself," in Senate chambers after Leahy suggested it may be unseemly for Halliburton, where Cheney still draws an annual salary as "former" CEO, to be profiteering from the invasion of Iraq Cheney pitched like Chicken Little.

And that's when this vulger quote became (more) favored in the teen vernacular.

I must say, though, if I had my choice of threats, that one beat the mortal one Leahy and then-Senate President Tom Daschle received in fall 2001 with those envelopes of anthrax from some mysterious (or is it?) terrorist with access to that particular Ames strain grown in the CIA's chemical lab at Fort Detrick, Md.

Yep, that anthrax investigation is about as important to the Bush-Cheney administration as finding Osama bin Laden, who Bush "doesn't think about" despite the Saudi rich kid confessing he orchestrated Sept. 11, 2001, which somehow led us to invade Iraq.

Anyway, this anniversary is highlighted on the Blue Funk calendar. Perhaps the Washington Post looked at it when choosing today to publish a profile on Cheney, which has some interesting revelations:

Previous accounts have described Cheney's adrenaline-charged evacuation to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center that morning (Sept. 11, 2001), a Secret Service agent on each arm. They have not detailed his reaction, 22 minutes later, when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

"There was a groan in the room that I won't forget, ever," one witness said. "It seemed like one groan from everyone" -- among them Rice; her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley; economic adviser Lawrence B. Lindsey; counselor Matalin; Cheney's chief of staff, Libby; and the vice president's wife.

Cheney made no sound. "I remember turning my head and looking at the vice president, and his expression never changed," said the witness, reading from a notebook of observations written that day. Cheney closed his eyes against the image for one long, slow blink.

Three people who were present, not all of them admirers, said they saw no sign then or later of the profound psychological transformation that has often been imputed to Cheney.
The electronic file on that story is titled Chapter 1. WaPo must be planning more.

Part 2 of 4

Saturday, June 23, 2007

"My money is on Smashmouth."

OK, that's President Clinton's memorable line from the pick-a-song-for-Hillary contest video. But this Rachel Maddow sketch on "most improved candidate" is hilarious.

I can't get too worked up about campaign financing issues, because whole new generations of voters coming up listen to creative (and relatively free) online communication and not insipid, untruthful 30- and 60-second TV ads that eat most campaign funds. That money isn't meaning as much as it used to in the old media world.

This and that

The DC Madam says she may spill the beans on who's in her little black book, after all.

The student loan bill is advancing, but I'm not holding my breath the $19 billion compulsory gift we taxpayers now bestow on lending banks will go instead to students for tuition anytime soon, at least not with the track record of the Senate of late.

Good. Military enlistments by black men have plunged by more than one-third.

Pining for a pet pika

J. Peterman would do well to take an excursion to New Zealand to bring back real, live Pikachus, for his catalog. You'll want your audio on.

What the hell is the matter with Rep. Rush Holt?

In an interview just now with Richard Green on the Clout show on Air America Radio, our congressman tried to defend his now-indefensibly bad electronic-vote protection bill. He kept saying, "Voters can feel safe now with this bill," HR 811.

No, we can't feel safe with this bill. Anyone who thinks we'll feel safe just because Holt keeps parroting that senseless line is wrong!

Holt seems like a brick wall, incapable of listening to anyone on the black box voting issue. He says Rep. Dennis Kucinich supports this bill; the Democratic presidential candidate yanked his support weeks ago because the bill is so bad.

We, the voters, and the nonpartisan experts who've studied this are in virtual unanimous agreement the bill stinks after the meddling amendments. I'd rather see no bill than one that gives false security leading up to the crucial November 2008 presidential election.

Holt's bill is unacceptable. There's no reason to think random recounts of buggered black boxes will produce anything but buggered confirmations.

This bill at the onset was promised to ensure paper ballots. Scrutiny showed Holt didn't understand that printouts of what the machines read are not confirmation from voters that the machine recorded their votes accurately. We all expected that to be corrected in committee, not eroded even further with garbage such as sanctions of DREs.

I urge my readers to really study this, because this is the most essential issue now to our democracy. Our federal government is presently an anarchy, any way you slice it. We must correct that in 2008, once and for all. We can't do that if our votes aren't counted. The tabulating machines can be hacked in any number of ways, including as demonstrated by a monkey in a matter of a minute or so, literally, and by wi-fi diddling from anywhere within a quarter-mile radius of a poll machine.

How can we get through so Holt "can hear us now"? I want to see a piece of paper I must confirm before it goes into a secured paper ballot box that will be counted in any challenge of the count, not random recounts the meaningless bill promises.

Now that's butt ugly

Wow!

Jersey came in on top again -- this time with the ugliest dog in the world. Elwood, a Chinese crested-Chihuahua mix from Sewell, came in only second last year. I'd hate to see the dog he lost to last year. "I think he's the cutest thing that ever lived," owner Karen Quigley said.

I'm sure he has a great personality.

Blog of the week

Philadelphia blogger Treasure of Baghdad has a rare perspective as an Iraqi man. His observations and his blogroll of other Iraqi blogs kept me fascinated for hours.
Advisory: He has pictures of corpses in a neighborhood that was posh a few years ago.

But Treasure of Baghdad is far from bleak. His review of Li'l Bush, the new Comedy Central show at 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays, saves me the time of writing pretty much the same rave here! See clips of it at the network's home page. I wish CC would bring back That's My Bush, which Bush thugs coerced off the air in 2001. It would be great for the 10 p.m. time slot.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Unauthorized immigration"

My favorite candidate ever is Doris "Granny D" Haddock, who was New Hampshire's Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2004. In the usual saliency of her 97-year-old wisdom, she zeroed in on what's behind the immigration issue when she spoke at Democracy Fest, sponsored by Democracy for America last weekend in New Hampshire.

If you will look around the grocery store check-out lines and notice the widening measurements of our fellow citizens, we can certainly see for ourselves the problem of having too much cheap labor around to do all our yardwork and housework for us. By my calculations, the roughly 3 billion pounds of extra weight now being carried on the hips of working-age American citizens is roughly equivalent to the combined weight of the unauthorized immigrants now in our communities.
Thirty years ago in the U.S., a common source of teenage income was corn detassling. Does anyone even know what that is anymore?

Granny D traces this to President Clinton-era approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement and simultaneous strengthening in the '90s of southern border patrol. Before the border became dangerous to cross, workers commonly and casually came at harvest seasons and went back to their homes and communities when the veggies were picked.
Why did Mr. Clinton militarize the border? He did so because NAFTA was about to pull the rug out from under Mexico's small family farms. We flooded Mexico with cheap corn - exports that we now subsidize to the tune of some $25 billion a year. Congress gives that money of ours to a handful of agribusiness giants. ...Mexican family farmers cannot compete.

In the years since NAFTA was signed, half of Mexico's small farms have failed. The only kind of farming that can now compete in Mexico is big agribusiness, which does not employ as many people. Tortillas in Mexico now contain two-thirds imported corn, and they are three times as expensive at retail level than before NAFTA. The people have less money, and the cost of food is rising. We have done that. ... Will Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama or Mr. Edwards or any of the other candidates face down the agri-gangsters who are behind this problem? Probably they will not, so long as Iowa has a major primary.
Granny D makes a necessary point of history, too:
When Mexico owned Texas and everything west of Texas, and when Mexico cut off migration across its borders into Texas, our people kept coming anyway - crossing illegally in search of opportunities for their families. When Mexico got upset by this, we trumped up false reasons for a war, and we illegally took those lands. If that wasn't enough law and order for you, we also conducted unfettered genocide against the region's native people. So let's not stand on any moral high ground regarding that southern border.
Big ag is an issue we need candidates to talk about, both as global economics and quality control issues we have with our food these days.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

How esoteric is this?

One thing you can say about Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel's "Rock" campaign ad: We don't have to worry about him breaking any promises.
Any philosophy professors out there want to talk about existentialism?

The former Alaska senator's seven-minute-and-41-second ad is called "Fire":
You can YouTube fascinating Gravel radio and video interviews here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday this and that

More bombs found on Surf City beaches: What else?

First, the bees, now, the birds are disappearing.

Interesting discussion over at Blue Jersey about U.S. Attorney Chris Christie's latest gaffe in his charade as a nonpartisan lawman. More in Saturday's NYT:

And in an unusual and oddly partisan attack, the United States attorney for New Jersey, Christopher J. Christie, who was Mr. Rabner's boss for a number of years, sharply criticized legislators and Mr. Corzine for not adequately defending Mr. Rabner.
Only, we don't think it's unusual at all for Christie to show his partisan stripes. He just did it without the usual masquerade. Then we have Christie's buddy at the Department of Justice, Michael Elston, the latest rat jumping off the sinking USS Alberto Gonzales.

U.S. Senate Democrats need just one more vote to break a Republican filibuster (there's that word again) on a bill that would require utilities nationwide to buy some renewable energy. New Jersey already requires them to buy "green tags." Our friends with solar panels love the cash their extra power brings them at online auction, and the utilities get comparatively cheap energy. It's a win-win, for everyone but Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Nuke. Meanwhile, our senators did manage to block a measure that would have allowed oil drilling off of Virginia's coast, 100 miles from New Jersey.

The right-wing bar star U.S. solicitor general George W. Bush appointed is helping Wall Street screw Enron's pensioned employees again, along with small investors, and works to make defrauding investors standard business for all corporations. Must read.

Home foreclosures in the U.S. hit 50=year high.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

And God said, "Let there be snark"

Brilliantly snarky Kentucky blogger Blue Grass Roots went to the brand-spanking new Creation Museum, so we don't have to. And what a tour it is:

(T)he visitor is given advice on the proper mind frame to have for your visit: “Don’t think, just listen and believe”. As you can see in the picture below, Human Reason is the enemy and God’s Word is the hero. Descartes represents Human Reason, saying “I think, therefore I am”. But God tells us there no need to waste your beautiful mind, for God says “I am that I am”. ...
And, of course, the seven days of creation is exactly seven days as we know it, and God had a Lazy B lounger to kick back in on Day 7, after church.
... We then venture into the recreation of the Garden of Eden ... Here, a creatively covered up Adam pets the friendly animals of the garden. Oh, and there’s no need to be afraid, because all of the animals at this time were like Disney cartoon characters. They did not bite, sting, or even defecate for that matter. Even the T-Rexes were playful and gay. Adam even gave them all names! How cute!
Um, yeh, that's a papier-mache man-eating velociraptor playing with their granddaughter.
... At the end of the museum, we see Fred Flintstone’s riding lawnmower, otherwise known as a Triceratops, one would assume. Here we see a father, after a long day of infecting his child with propaganda, letting his son play “Bam-Bam Rubble” on the riding mower (which my friend Jon called a “Jesus Horse”. I like that.) ...
And then the other stuff happened.


Who would have guessed they'd look so real? No wonder they had to post that sign under the bloody skinned pigs (below right): "Thou shalt not touch, Please!" That must be the 11th commandment Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.

... The visitors are then given a horribly mind numbing film presentation of the Christ years, but the fun part begins after those mean Jews in the Mel Gibson movie kill him. Yes, after Christ died for everyone but Patti Smith’s sins, we see mankind begin to question God’s Word. As you can see, people began to use that whole “logic” and “reason” bullshit again to ATTACK God’s Word. ...
I'm as devout as the next Christian -- well, maybe not in the same way as the evolution deniers -- but thanks, Mr. Blue, for saving me $20, and the gas too!

You'll pee your pants laughing

I knew it!

As a country girl, I know my rural brethren are far wiser than smug urban/suburbanites think. Conservative, yes, but stupid, no.

So, I'm thrilled to see Michael Collins' report on stats that disprove the urban myth that rural America boosted George W. Bush over the top in 2004.

Bush had 2 million fewer votes from the paper-ballot rural sector in 2004 than 2000. The city turnout -- where votes were counted almost entirely on electronic black boxes and where Democratic precincts were shorted, even after RNC "caging" of minority voters -- rose 66% in 2004 and uncharacteristically increased support for Bush from 26% in 2000 to 39% in 2004.

Anyone who keeps a file on election or vote fraud will want to download this report.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tommy Chong punks the MSM

Stoner god Tommy Chong of Cheech & Chong fame was both brilliant and baffling last night as MSNBC's celebrity-in-jail "expert" on Paris Hilton. MSNBC's astounding idiocy wound it full circle to sublime, unintended parody.
Later, Chong tells Stephen Colbert he's into that Christian Domestic Discipline thing.

Watch the watch

Albanians may love George W. Bush, but they still lifted his watch while he basked in the rare lovelight this week. And the shameless lying White House press spokesman Tony Snow lied about that, too, saying Bush took it off it. But watch this:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Quote of the day

White House spokesman Tony Snow to CBS newsman Harry Smith today:

"I hate to tell you, no Harry, you can't have your own facts."
Indeed, "1984" newspeak is here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

We picked a side

It looks as if the U.S. has a favorite team, after all, in the Sunni vs. Shia civil war in Iraq. The New York Times reports we are arming the Sunni insurgency. I guess the military contractors need to keep business alive, even if it gives more weapons and explosive devices to kill our soldiers there. Didn't we make this mistake (Osama bin Laden) before?

Journalist Seymour Hersch says yes, we did, and goes further:

(Lack of) verified voting hits home

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt's, D-N.J., verified voting bill is tanking. The key voting rights groups say it's worse than nothing, after all the meddling in committee since January. It now deserves to be abandoned the way the immigration bill was last week after the GOP nuked Sen. Bob Menendez', D-N.J., amendment.

Ocean County needs the intended bill more than ever, to prove no one preprogrammed an outcome on the machines. It was supposed to ensure voters see and verify their votes on paper ballots that could be used in recounts. BlueJersey featured this quote in Ocean County's GOP that was in an Asbury Park Press story on the Republican freeholder primary losers.

(Bob) Haelig, who has been around the block, who first ran for public office in 1965, says the Republican machine in Ocean County "makes the Democratic machine in Hudson County look like Sunny Brook Farm by comparison."
Note the comment from Jim33:
The biggest and most brazen NJ corruption of all is the Ocean County GOP, where George Gilmore has run a well laundered machine for 11 years and essentially owns the county by sending the money towns and school boards overpay his law firm for "work" back to the local GOP races. And all Christie can find in all of Ocean County is one obscure Dem mayor who admitted he took a $5,000 bribe from a builder to smooth the permit process. Give me a break!

Gilmore is said to be close to Kyrillos, who is said to be a friend of Christie's. Fat chance of an investigation, but just look at the relatives of key GOP loyalists now staffing the Ocean County elections office and you'll grimace. Oh, and Gilmore made himself the head of the county election board, so don't bother contesting it, either. Conflict of interest? Not much. Won't matter as long as most of the county pays no attention to politics, just marks the first R box they see. (Note from Molly: Good point. What if Pena's team had been in the first column?)
Now another quote from challenger Suzanne Pena in Handleman's column:
"About the only thing that really surprised me was that our opponents were completely silent. It's as if they knew it didn't matter. The end result was going to be what it was going to be ... they didn't even bother to have signs made up."
OK. Let's look at one more thing: Vote machine trouble last November at certain polls.
Ocean County ... learned that votes from a single machine in Barnegat were counted twice — and some were also added to vote totals for the U.S. Senate, county freeholder and county sheriff races in Lakewood. ...

The error didn't affect any election outcomes, said George Gilmore, chairman of the Board of Elections. (Now, why would Gilmore, also chairman of the county Republican Party, say that in a tight races decided by fewer than 11 votes?)

"I think this is a serious issue that the county cannot, and I'm sure will not, let go," (Democratic challenger Dolores) Coulter said, adding she was troubled the Barnegat machine affected tallies in Lakewood.

Election officials uncovered a doubling of all votes cast on the Barnegat machine and later found that an overcount of some 75 votes for the U.S. Senate, county free-holder and sheriff races had been carried over by the computer system into tallies from Lakewood. The problems, they said, all stemmed from a fault in computer software provided by Sequoia Voting Systems, the Oakland, Calif.-based supplier of voting machines for Ocean County.
When you whisk away all the smoke, you see the real problem is that no one can verify in any way at all how many votes truly were cast for anyone, except those who are willing to take the GOP party boss' word for it.

Update: Presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich today pulled his support for Holt's bill, HR 811 in this Congress.

And Ellen Theisen gives seven grave concerns about Holt's bill.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

What were they thinking?

Jucicial Watch recently revealed that three girls have died within hours of getting Gardasil, Merck's ballyhooed vaccine it says prevents most cervical cancers. Meanwhile, a lead researcher for this human papillomavirus vaccine, Dr. Diane M. Harper, essentially says Merck is pimping our 11-year-olds as guinea pigs:

"It is silly to mandate vaccination of 11- to 12-year-old girls There also is not enough evidence gathered on side effects to know that safety is not an issue." All of her trials have been with subjects ages 15 to 25. "This vaccine has not been tested in little girls for efficacy. At 11, these girls don't get cervical cancer - they won't know for 25 years if they will get cervical cancer. ..."

"I want to be able to sleep with myself when I go to bed at night," Harper said. "My concern is still, let's get women's health better. It is still a good vaccine. But let's be honest. Don't over-promise."

Friday, June 8, 2007

Spot on ...

Paul Krugman, always on the mark, yesterday wrote a great op-ed
column, Lies, Sighs and Politics. Truthout has the whole column.

In Tuesday's Republican presidential debate, Mitt Romney completely misrepresented how we ended up in Iraq. Later, Mike Huckabee mistakenly claimed that it was Ronald Reagan’s birthday.

Guess which remark The Washington Post identified as the "gaffe of the night"?

Folks, this is serious. If early campaign reporting is any guide, the bad media habits that helped install the worst president ever in the White House haven’t changed a bit....

[I]f there’s one thing I hope we’ve learned from the calamity of the last six and a half years, it’s that it matters who becomes president — and that listening to what candidates say about substantive issues offers a much better way to judge potential presidents than superficial character judgments. Mr. Bush’s tax lies, not his surface amiability, were the true guide to how he would govern.

And I don’t know if this country can survive another four years of Bush-quality leadership.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Too cute for words

Organically grown

Rosie Koenig was raised in Freehold Township on a 45-acre family produce and poultry farm. Now she is an organic farmer on 17 acres in Florida, and is featured in The New Farm magazine:

... I'm often asked how a Jersey girl wound up farming organically in Florida. Like many farm children, my parents encouraged me to find an easier and more financially rewarding profession. My solution was to study agriculture. I attended Rutgers University's Cook College and majored in agricultural science. ...

It was while I was completing my Ph.D. in Florida that my husband and I decided to buy land and start farming part-time. I missed farming ...

I chose to farm organically for a number of reasons. The first came from memories of our family farm in New Jersey. In the late 1970s, our best farmers' market at the Jersey Shore folded because of a lack of growers. We had little choice but to sell more wholesale, primarily through an auction-style growers’ cooperative. Everyone had the same product and prices were low—sometimes you got less than the price of the box you packed your vegetables in. It made me sick to think of all of the sweat and care that had gone into those crops. I knew I didn't want to repeat that experience. The organic marketplace was growing and I knew I could offer a unique product at our local farmers' market.

The second reason was to avoid exposing my family, workers, neighbors and customers to pesticides. After working on large conventional farms in California and south Florida, where pesticide applications were frequent—often a couple of times a week—I decided there had to be a better way. I knew there were alternatives to the dominant, mono-crop style of American agriculture and that crop diversity was one of the keys to reducing risk in farming. I was convinced that organic farming was worth a try.

The third factor was my determination to prove that it could be done in Florida. After deciding to farm organically, I knocked on a lot of doors at the university to get advice. I was told that within three years I would return to conventional farming. It made me want to succeed just to prove them wrong. ...

This and that

A few interesting items in the news today:

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., says he'll fight fire with fire on procedural obstructions on the immigration bill. We hope that threat isn't empty hot air, especially after seeing this comment at Blue Jersey: (Update: Senate Leader Harry Reid pulled the bill.)

There is another good reason to oppose this bill.

Hidden way down in the guts of the thing, there is a rule that all people applying for a job, that's you, me, every American citizen and everybody else, would have to get the okey-dokey from Homeland Security to be approved for the job. The same Homeland Security that cannot get the no-fly list right.

No okey-dokey? No job. And, you cannot go to court to challenge the decision, if you could afford it. All power in this resides in the Director of HomeSec. ...by: Tandalayo Scheisskopf
Our other senator, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, posted a bill yesterday that would require all pharmacist to dispense Plan B birth control, a.k.a. "the morning after pill," which some pharmacist withhold because of their religious beliefs. So, I guess if a pharmacist dispensed a Viagra prescription to someone sleeping with his secretary, the pharmacist's religion supports adultery. Some pharmacists don't stop at denying a woman's right to stop conception. Some, like this chain in Montana, decided they know best that no woman customer -- even married women -- is capable of choosing even the size of their own families.

Virgin chairman Sir Richard Branson's first train operating on environmentally friendly bio-fuel (right) pulled out of the London station today. Using these trains could slash the green company's CO2 emissions by 14 percent, as much as taking 23,000 cars off the road.

The man who plays Adam in the video at the Creation Museum in Kentucky flaunts his sexual exploits online and models clothing that promotes free love. When publicity started, the museum pulled the plug on the video. I wonder if visitors get some of their $20 back.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

No wool over this judge's eyes

Wayne Madsen is the only reporter I've found covering today's DC madam hearing.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in D.C. heard arguments on the Attorney General's motion to keep DC Madam Deborah Jeanne Palfrey's phone records that go back to 1994 restrained, but the U.S. attorney can't seem to keep the government's stories straight, and her honor ain't no chump.

Palfrey (right) has 46 pounds of phone records including numbers tied to Dick Cheney when he was CEO of Haliburton, Madsen has reported.

Kessler suggested that Assistant U.S. Attorney William Cowden appeared to be more interested in protecting the identities of PMA clients than in showing just cause why releasing the phone records would cause any harassment of potential government witnesses in the criminal trial of Palfrey.
Cowden says escorts could fear harassment, but when the judge asked him for evidence, he admitted no one has been harassed, despite ABC News having some numbers.

Then he admitted a "significant number of clients did have sex" with the madam's escorts, which led the wise judge to ask why this prostitution racketeering case isn't charging any of the johns, who all commit an equal crime of prostitution. Just how does one prove a prostitution ring without johns testifying they paid for sex?
"I don't know where the government is going in this case," Kessler told Cowden.
In claiming the government's motive to restrain the phone list is because the madam could sell them, Cowden admitted the AG doesn't have a copy of those numbers now and doesn't intend to call any of customers for the case, stressing it "is immaterial who had sex" with the madam's escorts.
Cowden's argument to maintain the restraining order on the phone list wandered all over the map. First, he suggested that after Palfrey's trial, the government would make access to the list subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Alternately, he suggested the list would be turned over to the Smithsonian Institution or "buried" in a government warehouse. Or, Cowden suggested, the government would give the list away.

Cowden also suggested that the government could order the list seized as an asset and put in in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Cowden indicated that the government's desire to keep the list from becoming public was to "ensure the trial [of Palfrey] does not turn into a circus."
One of Palfrey's lawyers pointed out the same records are available from the phone company (did he add, available for the duration of the legal statute of limitations?)
Cowden responded that the list, which dates as far back as 1994, is valuable because "no phone company keeps records for 13 years, only five years." He added that incoming call records are only maintained for a few months.
So, to be straight, he wants to obtain and "bury" the madam's records because they are the only records with the numbers of the johns he isn't going to put on trial. I see.
I think Judge Kessler does, too.
Kessler stated that the government's argument that it is the information in the phone records that is valuable "raises First Amendment" issues.
I think I like this judge. I look forward to her ruling on this, "in the near future."

The reading list

John Perkins, author of the book I recommend to everyone who cares, "Confessions of an Economic Hitman," has a new book out.

Amy Goodman at Democracy Now, as usual, has a most excellent interview with Perkins about "The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption". When you have time to sit down and concentrate, read the transcript or click to catch the audio file.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Huh?

A northwest Arkansas newspaper has reported the new head of the Arkansas Republicans, Dennis Milligan, said:

...I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country.”
Should "What's the matter with Kansas" be changed to "What's the matter with Arkansas"? How would another attack by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden living free as a bird in Pakistan win support for wasting billions of our tax dollars every DAY and hundreds of our sons and daughters every MONTH in a quest to occupy Iraq?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Happy hairy Monday

Courtesy CuteOverload.com

Creeeeepy!

Delilah Boyd takes apart CDD, a.k.a. Christian Domestic Discipline, the term radical Christians use so their S&M, sadism and masochism, doesn't sound like, well, S&M. Delilah found this website full of wife-spanking books and crotchless pantaloons (no kidding, pantaloons!) and acoutrements suitable for a sex slave. Don't hit that link if you're younger than 18 or squeamish. It's borderline porn.

Speaking of which, NSA-agent-turned-reporter Wayne Madsen dishes details: He says a phone number from D.C. madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey's list of johns in the 1990s is the extension to then-Halliburton President/CEO Dick Cheney's headquarters on Anderson Road, McLean, Va.

That wouldn't necessarily mean the Vice made the call to the madam. But the coincidences mount. The same extension was used in November and December 2000 by the Bush-Cheney Transition Team, Madsen says. The building is owned by the West Group, where Alice M. Starr, wife of Monicagate independent (lol) prosecutor Kenneth Starr, has been a vice president. Another number on the list, Madsen says, may track to Cheney's old house on Madison of McLean Drive in Ballantrae, Va. Madsen's website is subscription-only access. The phone number and full street addresses are there.

Leave it to the littlest one to kick ass

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg kicked butt in this U.S. Supreme Court session. Sadly, the five now-majority Bushie justices -- including Clarence Thomas, who sexually harassed and subjugated Anita Hill as her employer -- kicked ours, ladies.

Apparently, it's rare to read a dissent. Ginsberg, with support of three male justices, spoke twice this month to stand up for us.

The first was the majority decision that men know better than we do that we'd regret it later if we decided with our doctor to use intact dilation and extraction surgery for safe late-term abortions, so it upheld the philandering Newt Gingrich-era legislation banning the misnomed "partial-birth abortion," even though the court struck down the same ban in a state law back before Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired.

When the court last week made an absurd ruling an employer is allowed to pay its woman worker less than her 16 male counterparts because she didn't file her discrimination suit within 180 days of her first, not last, paycheck, Ginsberg laid out the majority in a war of words and summoned Congress to overturn the majority’s “parsimonious reading” of the federal law against discrimination in the workplace.

“What she is saying is that this is not law, it’s politics,” Pamela S. Karlan, a Stanford law professor. ...“She is accusing the other side of making political claims, not legal claims.”

“She’s sounding an alarm and wants people to take notice,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, an advocacy group that focuses on the workplace.
My own "radar" was absolute during confirmation hearings of both Bush 43 appointees, John Roberts and Sam Alito: They have political agendas to turn back the clock 50 years -- viva McCarthyism -- if not a full century, to marginalize women, minorities and gays.

If Bush gets one more appointment to knock out Anthony Kennedy's conservative-but-generally-sane swing vote, I could imagine women prohibited from voting in the not-too-distant future. The Bush U.S. Department of Justice's assistance in voter caging by the Republicans already bodes my prediction re: minority voters.

Brace yourselves. We're in for a bumpy ride.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Something to make Cenk Uygur smile

Our own Cenk Uygur, who hails from Freehold Township, says his favorite flick is 300, a brutal and bloody movie about a Spartan war. He plays clips of it all the time on his The Young Turks show 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on Air America Radio.

So, for Cenk, a PG version of the 300 trailer:

DoJ made political hay

The U.S. Department of Justice shouldn't, but does, operate as an extension of the Republican National Committee, through or around Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The RNC pulling DoJ strings to turn Alabama's gubernatorial race last fall demonstrates it.

And what's this got to do with New Jersey, Molly, you ask? Bear with me, please.

It looks like a former Democratic governor there would have won -- despite Karl Rove to the rescue to ensure a criminal investigation of him -- if it weren't for a single polling district's electronic black box that Republicans alone "recounted" and found Bob Riley narrowly won. Fancy that. But that's another story. Time magazine this week reported about that "federal investigation" (deja vu yet?):

William Canary reassured others on the conference call ... that he had the help of a powerful pal in Washington. Canary said "not to worry — that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl and Karl had spoken with the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice was already pursuing (former Gov. and Dem candidate) Don Siegelman (portrait at left), the (Dana Jill) Simpson affidavit says. Both U.S. attorney offices subsequently indicted Siegelman on a variety of charges, although Leura Canary (Canary's wife and U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama) recused herself from dealing with the case in May 2002. A federal judge dismissed the Northern District case before it could be tried, but Siegelman was convicted in the Middle District on bribery and conspiracy charges last June. ...

Siegelman was convicted of appointing (former HealthSouth CEO Richard) Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board (egad! how unqualified!) in exchange for a $500,000 contribution to a campaign for a state lottery to fund education (to fund education? the cad!). Defense lawyers have argued that Siegelman drew no personal financial benefit from Scrushy's donation to the lottery campaign, and they note that Scrushy had served on the hospital regulatory board under three previous governors, before Siegelman reappointed him (REappointed?). The reappointment, they have argued, offered little of value to Scrushy except more work.
Funny that, according to Simpson, one of the men in the conference call said, "Siegelman's just like a cockroach, he'll never die, what are we going to do?" (creeeeepy!) before offering reassurance Rove was having the DoJ take care of the governor's race. Canary is the one who seems kinda "cockroachy":
Canary was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to serve in the White House as special assistant for intergovernmental affairs, and then named chief of staff of the Republican National Committee. Later in the 1990's he also worked closely with Karl Rove in a successful series of campaigns to get Republicans elected to Alabama's state courts.
So, what about New Jersey?

The New Jersey Republican State Committee seems to insist on beating a dead horse until it can squeeze nothing into something to political benefit from Gov. Corzine's personal emails with Carla Katz, one of the state labor unions' presidents who had a two-year romantic relationship with Corzine ending in 2004. An independent ethics panel of ex-judges, after reading the ex-couple's emails from personal, nongovernment computers, reported they did not collude in labor negotiations. Now the RSC wants a judge to order Corzine and Katz to hand their personal emails over to the GOP.

How long do you think it'll be before the RSC insists U.S. Attorney Chris Christie join its salacious voyeurism? I don't see Christie resisting too hard, given he created the fodder for the RSC's fibs about Robert Menendez being "under federal investigation" in last fall's Senate race here. But maybe Christie sees the unsinkable USS Karl Rove going down like the Titanic.

And, really, is any of this any more corrupt than the investigation into New Jersey State GOP Chairman Tom Wilson's lobby company receiving $2.5 million from Burlington County Bridge Commission? People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Update, more glass in Wilson's house: Seems the RSC and legislative campaign committees paid Wilson's wife, Lysa Israel, more than $550,000 for "fundraising" in the past 30 months while her husband was state GOP chairman, a bit of a conflict. In all, about $850,000 of New Jersey GOP donors' money has gone straight into the Wilson family's bank accounts, NJpolitics.com says is shown in reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission and the Federal Election Commission.

That's not including Wilson's salary, which the RNC refuses to divulge. He wants every aspect of Corzine's and Katz's personal lives on public record, but he's not so keen on his own being out there. Hmmm. The report says it appears to be more than $150,000 a year, though. GOP donors probably thought their money would go to candidates.

Friday etc.

The FDA now is checking for contaminated tooth- paste from China, our second biggest toothpaste supplier. Why do we get toothpaste from China -- and Canada? We supposedly can't trust Canada for low-cost prescriptions, but their toothpaste is OK? I'm glad I use Tom's of Maine toothpaste. It's made in Maine.

Red Bank Jazz and Blues Festival begins today! Top bill: Big Bill Morganfield, Muddy Waters' son tomorrow.

African-American voices on the Internet gather in a clearinghouse worth browsing or bookmarking at rsspect.org.

Please excuse my language, but Bob Shrum is a dick. He wastes Time magazine space with his arrogant -- and, no doubt, calculated -- recollections of sad, naive Johnny Edwards getting to know Washington and getting in John Kerry's good graces, only to fail to return Kerry's and Shrum's phone calls after the election. No kidding, Bob? Y'all threw the election in what no educated person can rule out as vote fraud conspiracy, and Elizabeth Edwards was suddenly in intense chemotherapy, and the Edwardses didn't have your sensibilities foremost on their minds? I hope John Edwards kicks DLC (Hillary) ass next year.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief warns "new crazies" advocate military action in Iran.

"I wake every morning and see 100 Iraqis, innocent civilians, are dying," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Mohamed ElBaradei said in an interview for BBC Radio. "I have no brief other than to make sure we don't go into another war or that we go crazy into killing each other. You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say 'let's go and bomb Iran.'"
Yipes! and more yipes: Another U.N. report says our unsustainable debt may trigger a "disorderly adjustment and the steep fall of the dollar."

And, journalism professor Mark Danner's speech at the first graduation from the (for real) Department of Rhetoric at USC-Berkeley, “Words in a Time of War,” is a good read.
Those in the “reality-based community” — those such as we — are figures a mite pathetic, for we have failed to realize the singular new principle of the new age: Power has made reality its bitch.
Let's reverse that course.

Christie must have gloating rights

New Jersey's U.S. attorney Christopher Christie must be saying, "I told you so," today in his inner circle, perhaps especially to Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck.

Tim Griffin, the GOP oppo research guy who got Arkansas in the "U.S. attorney replacement program," has hightailed as U.S. attorney there in reaction to House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers obtaining the BBC reporter's evidence of Griffin's role in voter caging -- illegal -- in the 2004 general election. Griffin had replaced H.E. "Bud" Cummins III, who failed to comply with White House orders to file "voter fraud" charges against Democrats regardless of lack of evidence any Dems voted fraudulently. Conyers came out last night and finally said what most of us already had put together: that he thought it unlikely Griffin could carry out this massive "caging" operation without at least the knowledge of Karl Rove. Again, illegal.

Christie didn't dutifully accuse "voter fraud" of Democrats in 2005, so Beck (left) did that dirty work in September 2005 and implied in her press release that Christie was missing his cue, er, slacking on the job. No surprise, then, that Christie ended up on the firing list in January 2006, but he proved his Bushie loyalty in other ways in the Menedez scheme and came off the list in November 2006. Our posts on those are here and here and here. Phew, that was a close call, Mr. Christie, but you can gloat to Beck now, by golly.

The last proved voter scandal I remember in New Jersey was the race that won Gov. Christine Todd Whitman her first term in 1992. Remember her campaign mastermind, Ed Rollins, paying bribes to black ministers to discourage (caging) congregants from voting? I think that would be an early application of the RNC's now keystone path to office: voter suppression and the abra cadabra magic act of turning Democratic votes into Republican wins on electronic voting machines. Rollins' last job was with U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla., who was key to the 2000 election frauds and other controversies there.

Extra credit: Slate answers, "What the heck is vote caging, and why should we care?"