Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Not giving up the fight

from the inbox---
Dear [hipparchia],

Last night, significant news broke that directly impacts our push for Impeachment Hearings and a possible Inherent Contempt charge for Bush Administration officials such as Karl Rove:

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has revealed in his upcoming book that:

• Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and Vice President Cheney lied about their role in revealing the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson – actions easily amounting to obstruction of Justice.

McClellan also admitted that:

• There was a coordinated effort within the Bush Administration to use propaganda to pump up the case for the Iraq war and hide the projected costs of the war from the public.

Scott McClellan must be called to testify under oath before the House Judiciary Committee to tell Congress and the American people everything he knows about this massive effort by the White House to deceive this nation into war.

Last week, a subpoena was issued for Karl Rove to testify before the Judiciary Committee. It appears he will take every legal action to block this subpoena. The truth is that Congress has the right – and obligation – to hold him accountable now - not months or years from now. It is long past time to pass Inherent Contempt and bring Rove, Libby and others before Congress.

We simply cannot ignore these recent developments, nor should we postpone serious inquiry until after the next election.

Your commitment to accountability for the Bush/Cheney Administration, and the support of 230,000 other Americans who signed up at wexlerwantshearings.com, has inspired and motivated me in my effort to hold impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney and Inherent Contempt for Rove and others. During the past months I have been a tireless and dogged advocate of this vitally important cause.

Many of you have written me, asking for an update on where we stand with regards to impeachment hearings. I know most of you believe - as I do - that impeachment hearings for Vice President Cheney – are not only justified, but that it is our constitutional obligation to look into the serious allegations of wrongdoing that have been raised. This is especially true based on the newest revelations from Scott McClellan.

I believe that it is the duty of Congress to pursue impeachment whenever there's significant evidence of wrongdoing, be it by Republicans or Democrats, regardless of the timing of elections or the current political environment.

Some of you have written me demanding that I deliver hearings or impeachment. As hard as I have been fighting for this cause, I cannot make impeachment happen by myself. What I can do, and what I have been doing at every turn, is trying to communicate two simple messages to my colleagues:

• the serious allegations of wrongdoing and the clear-cut rationale for impeachment hearings;and
• the fact that the public will support our efforts when Congress boldly acts on the side of justice and accountability.

Unfortunately, to date, these arguments have not been enough to convince even a majority of the liberal and progressive Members of Congress to support impeachment hearings. In addition, the leadership of the Democratic Party in Congress genuinely feels that pursuing impeachment will jeopardize our congressional agenda and threaten gains in the November elections. Although I genuinely disagree with this view, to date I have been unable to convince them to change this policy.

I understand the challenges that we are up against, and I recognize the odds that we face. Nevertheless, I remain unfazed and unyielding.

This new evidence from Scott McClellan could be the tipping point – but we must move quickly. I will use the McClellan admissions to help convince my colleagues that we must hold impeachment hearings.

Regardless, I will continue to fight for progressive values and our Constitution. I will do everything I can to pursue accountability for criminal actions taken by this Administration and this Vice President. I will be a furious opponent to any expansion of this misguided war, and I will fight against the use of torture by our government and to protect our civil liberties here at home.

Most of all, I will continue my efforts to convince my fellow members of Congress and voters, that we should not be a party of passivity - but that we succeed when we present the public with stark choices that are based on the guarantees in our Constitution, and not on the politics of the moment.

I will continue - at every pass - to call for impeachment and accountability. While I wish more of my colleagues supported our movement, we must not let our discouragement lead to apathy and distraction in this important election year when we must break free from eight long years of illegalities, corporate handouts, and a tragic and devastating war.

We should not end the calls for impeachment. I will push against the crimes of the Bush Administration whenever I am provided the opportunity. I will use my role on the Judiciary Committee to take on Administration officials – like I have done with Condoleezza Rice, Attorney Generals Gonzalez and Mukasey, and FBI Director Mueller.

I have not given up our fight to hold this Administration accountable and neither can you. I am grateful for your patriotism and your support. I'll continue to keep you informed and part of the conversation.

Sincerely,

Congressman Robert Wexler

Monday, May 26, 2008

Florida wants your kids to be SMRT

A handful of Floridians have been fighting off the unIntelligent Design wackos who want your kids to actively resist learning sciece. That's not news, this fight has beeen going on for ages, but now there's a new wrinkle: we can save a lot of money, and keep Teh Kidz safe from Evilooshun, if we just stop paying for schools entirely!

It's not quite that bad yet, but according to this article in the St Petersburg Times, we're getting there. This next year will be the first time that a greater share of the public school budget will come from local property taxes than from state taxes.

Doesn't sound all that horrible on first reading, local control over schools and all that jazz, except that we've recently passed this pesky little amendment making it practically unconstitutional to pay property taxes, and in a market where property values are soaring like lead balloons, no less.

3.jpg

Large group feeding

Sounds like something right out of a biology textbook, and something vaguely distasteful at that: this species can be found descending on their prey in large group feedings...

What it is is a bill passed by some of the infamously compassionate conservatives that we have in abundance here in Florida to starve homeless people stop charitable groups from handing out free food to homeless people in the hopes that they'll disappear from local parks.

Among other provisions is this one:
Not more than two (2) Large Group Feeding Permits shall be issued to the same person, group, or organization for large group feedings for the same park in the GDPD in a twelve (12) consecutive month period.

Hmmm, looks like an opportunity for a somewhat sideways application of method 193. Overloading of administrative systems here. At one meal per day, 12 months = 366 days [for leap year, and makes the math easier] and each group can get two permits, so we'll only need 183 groups [plus a few more for backups] to apply for permits. This isn't an unreasonable burden, twice a year your group has to cater an informal picnic in a park.

Fortunately, there is a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of this odious measure scheduled to go to trial in June. Cool. Meanwhile...

Go. Feed.


Homeless on the web [via]:
Homeless Liberation Front
street roots

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Trying to reason with hurricane season

Hurricane season is almost upon us, time to stock up on bottled water, non-perishable food, MREs if you can get them, batteries, flashlights, prescription medications, pet food, bleach, etc.

And if you live in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, you'll need your papers.
Hurricane season starts June 1. In the event of a hurricane in the region, emergency officials predict more than 130,000 evacuees will leave the Valley by school bus. They will be checked for identification and citizenship before they can board.


Anyone who is not a citizen or is not a legal resident will be held in specially designed areas in the Valley that are “made to withstand hurricanes,” said Dan Doty, a Border Patrol spokesperson for the Valley sector.

470 mountains were destroyed to bring you this post

    
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Also, you might be interested in the relationship between poverty level and mine location.

Impactful

“All I can say is, the surge is succeeding,” [McCain] said. “If someone wants to disagree with that, they’re free to, but I have statistics — whether they be instances of violence, whether it be U.S. casualties, whatever it may be — that prove that this new tactic is succeeding. So I’m willing to stick with it.”

---

“After nearly four years of a failed strategy, the difference in one year is dramatic,” McCain says. “If they make that same progress in the next year,” he predicts, “I think it’s going to be quite impactful on American public opinion, as well as, more importantly, events on the ground.”


from The McCain Doctrines

Out with the old: yellowdog democrats

In with the new: black-white-and-tan-dog democrats

I admit, that's a ticket I'd have a hard time resisting, on a couple of levels.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Take airport toilets, [please!]

which apparently have a big problem with men peeing on the floor. A conventional solution might be posters, or an expensive redesign. But just painting a black fly inside the urinal, for men to aim at, has reduced spillage at Schipol airport, Amsterdam, by 80 per cent.


Which paragraph fairly accurately sums up my feelings about Libertarian Paternalism.

Why vote when you can

let the Brits pick the next VP?



McCain/Rice. Great. Guess this is their chance to get us back for that one little bit of unpleasantness.



yeah, that sarah palin vote is mine

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Just who the hell is Julie Bosman, anyway?

Good question.

Until a few minutes ago, I thought she was just the hack who cobbled together this vapid and venal piece in the NYT:
JUNCTION CITY, Ore. — On the day Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was endorsed by the governor of North Carolina, a supporter gave her a three-foot-long balloon replica of herself, complete with blond hair, black pantsuit and wide pink smile, which Mrs. Clinton promptly took on her plane and laughingly showed off to reporters.

On Thursday, little more than two weeks later, the doll lay on the sofa by her seat on the plane, shriveled and deflated.

Barf.

But there's more to the story. Turns out she's an Evil Troll.

Really Kooky unBearable Assholes

Once every blue moon or so, I surf the blogs and websites of the gun nuts for news of what they're --- Ted Nugent and John McCain come to mind --- up to.

Among other things, they're all up in arms about a House bill to reauthorize the ban on assault weapons, cuz like yanno ya can't bring down a deer with anything less than a sniper rifle.

Dear MSM:

Your coverage of the Presidential candidates has been erratic and irresponsible



and we wish like hell that you'd STFU about that WWTSBQ? already



but this is absolutely criminal



1% of the recent news coverage has been about the war? One percent?!

Every last one of you should be thrown into rat-infested dungeons and fed a diet of moldy bread and stagnant pond water.

Dear Rush Limbaugh:

00012yr9.jpeg



operation chaos

Monday, May 12, 2008

Of the 25,500 people who live in Florence, about 17,000 are behind bars.

Words fail me.

Read the rest of the series here.

Oh, lord!

Nobody should deign to give Robert Novak the time of day, let alone actually read one of his columns, but this was just too good to keep to myself: Novak says that some prefers-to-remain-anonymous source says that Huckabee says that evangelicals say that the pain of an Obama presidency is in keeping with the Bible's prophecy.

Wasps and X-ray vision

How long will it be until your local police department wants one?

The Black Vote

From Reagan to the present regime Of all the Democratic Presidential candidates since 1980, Gore has garnered the highest percentage of the black vote, 90%, while [Bill] Clinton got the lowest, 82%.



oops. edited for sloppy wording detected by alert reader.

When pigs fly

Well... if you are what you eat....

War profiteers

Halliburton:
 ...one giant oil services company is weathering the economic storm quite well. Reuters reports Halliburton “said on Monday that first-quarter profit rose 6 percent as customers in markets including the Middle East and Asia spent more on oil and gas exploration and production”


KBR:
Scandal-ridden contracting firm KBR reported today that its first quarter net profits more than tripled, from $28 million last year to $98 million this year. Despite at least a dozen former employees alleging they had been raped by coworkers in Iraq and other employees saying coworkers regularly stole gold, artwork, and weapons, KBR remains in the Pentagon’s good graces: In mid-April, it received a 10-year, $150 billion contract to support the military overseas.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Alt biofuel

The Arizona Public Service Company and the Florida Power and Light Company have found an interesting renewable fuel source for the boilers in their power generation plants - confiscated marijuana. One ton provides 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Life is short, campaigns are long, and Hillary Clinton is an Alpha dog

At least he didn't call her an Alpha bitch, though technically bitch would have been more accurate if we were really talking about the furry four-legged woofy creatures.

David Brooks has clearly been watching too much Cesar Milan. To wit:
Hillary Clinton went on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” incarnating her role as the first Democratic Rambo. The Clinton campaign seems to want to reduce the entire race to one element: the supposed masculinity gap. And so everything she does is all about assertion, combat and Alpha dog dominance.


I'm thinking Brooks is the one with the masculinity gap here.

Assertion
? Since when did that become a bad thing in a President? Combat? Stephanopouplos is the one who who, out of the blue, launches the unprovoked aggression, suddenly hardening his voice with his questions on the gas tax. Up to that point, Clinton had been speaking calmly and rationally and knowledgably, with just the amount of animation you would expect to see in a person who believes in what they're saying. She changers her demeanor just enough to signal that she's not going to be bullied, but otherwise treats her interlocutor with the same patience that a true alpha dog would show to an upstart pup in a similar situation, so I guess maybe Brooks was right about the alpha part of it.

Domination, on the other hand, I don't think he's a got clue about. It's not my cup of tea, but I could probably set him up with somebody....
A few questions in, Clinton rose from her chair and loomed over Stephanopoulos. The country hasn’t seen such a brazen display of attempted middle-aged physical intimidation since Al Gore took a walkabout on the debate stage with George Bush. It was like watching someone get elbowed in a dark alley by their homeroom teacher.


Loomed? Over Stephanopoulos? No. Stephanopoulos has just turned the floor over to questions from the audience, and the first questioner --- with a politley worded but nonetheless hostile question --- is standing at a microphone that's been placed towards the back of the room and just to one side of the center aisle . To better talk to this person, Clinton stands up, and stays on her feet when she addresses the wider audience, elaborating on her point.

Stephanopoulos remains seated during her answer, and when he asks his next question, but Clinton is on a roll now. Still standing she turns and answers him directly, then turns back to address the audience, just as she had with the question before. No elbows were involved.

Brooks then goes on --- and really at this point nothing but the most outrageous snark is called for so I'll just paraphrase since I'm all out of snarkery at the moment --- he goes to call her a liar, and a shameless one at that, apparently because she refuses to back down on her proposed gas tax holiday when Stephanopoulos informs her that Every Economist in the Country knows It Won't Work. Not even Paul Krugman thinks it will Do Any Good.

Sure there's plenty of debate over what it would do, but nobody's proven that a tax holiday will be bad, or even neutral. Branding her a liar just because she's got an opinion that doesn't agree with the media-preferred wonks is about as dishonets as they come. When is somebody going to put a leash and muzzle on this Brooks dude?

The rest of Brooks' column is here.
The videos [all 5 of them] of the entire show are here.

I give you the first video here because it's the only one I've watched so far, and judging by what Brooks wrote, it's probably the only one he watched too.

Boldly going where no President has ever gone before

It's no secret that John McCain wants to un-tax the rich and the corporate, but now he's promising to balance the budget too. On the backs of the proles, it would appear.


From Think Progress' Wonk Room:

So how will McCain balance the budget? James Pethokoukis of U.S. News thinks he has the answer: massive cuts in Social Security benefits. The cuts Pethokoukis outlines would not only eliminate the Social Security shortfall but also generate $2.9 trillion to help pay for McCain’s tax cuts. He points to McCain aides’ suggestions that he might raise the retirement age and cut the growth in benefits over time.

Implementing those two solutions would actually result in more money going into Social Security than is needed to fund scheduled benefits. There would be money left over to help reduce taxes or increase spending on education or energy or whatever […] Now if you did a combination of price indexing starting in 2015 and extended the retirement age to 70 by 2050, that $5 trillion deficit turns into a $2.87 trillion surplus.


If Pethokoukis is right, McCain is attempting to do something that no president has ever done before: using payroll tax revenue to fund other functions of government. The result would be huge cuts in the program that lifts 13 million seniors out of poverty and a shift of the tax burden from progressive corporate taxes onto regressive wage taxes.

And now,



for the rest of the story: Nuclear Waste? The End. Or is it?

Links to all the preceding installments.


photo credit

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Abortion availability

There are fewer and fewer clinics and hospitals where a woman can get an abortion these days. Which means that women have to travel further, and take more time out of their lives, to get an abortion. Or if they have no transportation, then they just have babies.

Something I don't see mentioned on websites or in discussions, but saw in a comment on a blog recently: even if you live close to a clinic, their services may be in such demand that you won't be able to get an appointment in time to get an abortion.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Let's just pretend it's sometime in 2009 and President Whoever has fixed it such that every single one of us can and does buy health insurance and now we're all covered.

As far as I can tell, none of the Wannabe Presidents has addressed a few piddly little issues:

  • the inordinate number of fingers in the health care money pie
  • the unholy collusions of PBMs and specialty drug companies
  • insanely-paid CEOs will still be the ultimate gatekeepers deciding who gets what care
  • [there must be more that we just don't know about yet]


On gatekeepers, sure, some people are still wary of letting a bunch of government bureaucrats replace the greedy CEOs and their minions in the disbursing of funds, and rightfully so, but even with all the dismantling and disarranging that BushCo has done, our government is still more transparent and more accountable than the insurance industry has been or ever will be.



cream-colored ponies and crisp apple streudels...

Why you'll never have single-payer insurance here



If you think unemployment is bad now, just count up how many people will be out of a job if we eliminate the for-profit health insurance industry and all its remoras.

The BLS doesn't break out insurance employment statistics by type of insurance, so it's a bit of a challenge to guess just how many of the 2.3 million who are employed in the insurance business and related industries are in the [cough] health [cough] sector, but what with:
Well, it's bound to be a whole slew of folks any which way you look at it.

You're better off now than you were 8 years ago



Median vacation length under Bush2 has ranged from 8-ish to 11-ish weeks, but under Clinton1 you only got 6-ish to 9-ish weeks off work.

McCainCare


Hmm... $2 billion saved. And if those savings were to be passed through to the healthcare consumer, then each American would get...

$666

Ooooh! Never gonna happen.

I would just kill for the opportunity

to have bionic limbs, wouldn't you? Lucky stiffs.

Stuff from far away is cool

I loved my Toyota, single bean chocolate and fair trade coffee have become two of my secret guilty indulgences, I still put gasoline in my car and wear Nikes, but golly gee whiz, let's not go overboard.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Fed thinks about biting back

at PredatorCards.

Even better, a few Congresspersons --- Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Carolyn Maloney are mentioned --- are saying that the rules need to be even more stringent. 


Predictably, there's some whining:

"This is a very aggressive regulatory intervention in the marketplace that will lead to higher prices and less credit options for everyday consumers," said Ken Clayton, senior vice president of card policy at the Washington-based American Bankers Association. "It basically says that we can't price for risk and we can't in a cost-effective way provide these low-cost options like balance transfer opportunities at zero percent interest because of the way they're mandating how these loans get paid back. We won't be able to make the loan."


Umm, dude... you're not pricing for risk now, and nothing you have on offer is low-cost.

James Cone

on Black Liberation Theology

Malcolm X

Message to the Grass Roots

The Ballot or the Bullet

Martin Luther King

I Have a Dream

Beyond Vietnam - A Time to Break Silence

I've Been to the Mountaintop