Saturday, April 07, 2007

Colbert Likes Child Labor

Don't you?

Baghdad Is Just Like....Indiana???

Lost amidst McCain gigantic folly while opening his mouth (and endangering the citizens of Baghdad) Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) also had a few brilliant remarks while traveling to Iraq. He mentioned that the al-Shorja market was just like something you could find in Indiana. How an Indiana farmers market could be anything like that found in Baghdad is beyond me. Well I'll leave it to a good citizen from Indiana to make a total fool of Mike Pence.

From The LA Times:

MY WIFE came into the living room wearing a Kevlar vest, helmet and night-vision goggles.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Have you completely forgotten, silly head? We're going to the market."

I placed my hand at my head. I'd been so caught up in stitching a minor wound I'd received earlier in the day after going to an outdoor fruit stand that I had completely forgotten.

"I'm a dope, aren't I?" I said, chuckling, slowly shaking my head back and forth. She chuckled too, also shaking her head. We both chuckled. Then I winced from where a stitch popped.

Carol helped the boys get ready, putting on their sneakers and body armor. I phoned the Indiana National Guard so that they could radio the 434th Special Air Wing at Grissom Air Force Base, which in turn scrambled two F-14 Tomcats. Then we hopped in the wagon.


The F-14s flew by low. Each of us activated our earpieces and hand-held mini walkie-talkies, agreed on a frequency, and I slowed the car to 15 mph as Carol and the boys opened the doors and rolled out, taking cover under shrubbery near the Bibb lettuce stand (the boys love salad!).

So far, so good.

I hit the gas and spun the car and parked in a ditch that had once been a Tasty Donut before a tactical nuclear weapon had decimated it. Great parking space, though.

I saw my neighbor, Larry, under his car, from the looks of it a spanking-new Bradley fighting vehicle. "Snipers today," Larry said with a smile.

"Nice ride, Larry," I said as I dove under the car, a sniper's bullet exploding inches away from my foot. "Looks solid."

"The hull is constructed of welded aluminum and spaced laminate armor," he said, burying his head in the dirt as another round came in. "The Israelis use them. I had an Explorer, but it was blown to bits last time I went out for garbage bags."

Moderate Republicans Wowed By Dem Majority

Although Congress is on vacation right now, there is something in the air on Capitol Hill. That something is a combination of 'hustle and bustle' and progress. The two of those together are creating legislation that moves the United States forward because the party of the people are passing laws that help all Americans. Despite the doomsday predictions by conservative pundits, the Democratic Party is doing what they said they would do all along and their actions are beginning to impress some G.O.P. centrists.

From The New York Times:

As the new Democrat-led House rushed to complete its business before adjourning for spring break this week, Representative Ferguson was marveling at the many bills that had been passed in Congress’s first 100 days, including one that would make it easier for unions to organize and another that would increase the minimum wage.

“Under the Republican majority, those bills would have never gotten to the floor,” he explained before heading back to his district. “Now they have been brought to the floor, and I’ve voted for them.”

Mr. Ferguson’s enthusiasm captures a peculiar political reality in the Capitol: many Republicans from swing districts in the Northeast are finding that life under Democratic rule has its advantages.

As the NYT points out in the article, many 'moderates' are going to have to support the Democratic legislation not only out of political beliefs, but for political necessity. Many moderates squeaked through last year and held onto their incumbency by extremely small margins. It is clear that in these swing districts, the voters want to see change and nearly replaced their representative last year. With November of 2008 in their sites, these Republicans are going to do whatever it takes to hold onto their seats....and the declining number of Republicans in the House.

Alanis Rocks!

This spoof on Fergie's "My Humps" is brilliant. The April Fools gag not only put Fergie in her place but the entire mindless blather of pop music today in general.

McCain: Lying To The American People Is 'Fun'

I am going to say this outright, John McCain is a disgrace to America. There is really nothing redeeming left to this guy. Sure, he was a POW in Vietnam and served bravely in the armed forces, but that was then and this is now. He lied to the American people when he said Baghdad was safe and his reaction to being called out on that lie shows just how callous this man is.

He could not be humble and simply apologize for his statements. To his credit he did say that he misspoke and regretted what he said. He also admitted that his safe walk around al-Shorja market included the protection of 100 U.S. troops and five helicopters. It is what he said afterward that absolutely horrifying.

From Editor and Publisher:

The remarks made headlines and he now regrets saying them. "Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future," says McCain. "I regret that when I divert attention to something I said from my message, but you know, that's just life," he tells Pelley, adding, "I'm happy, frankly, with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun."

He continues to maintain that the president's surge policy has improved safety in Baghdad. "I can understand why [the Army] would provide me with that security, but I can tell you that if it had been two months ago and I'd asked to do it, they would have said, 'Under no circumstances whatsoever.' I view that as a sign of progress," says McCain.

Continuing America's military presence in Iraq has been a key position in McCain's presidential bid. He says he knows he is out of step with the rest of the country. "I believe we can succeed and I believe that the consequences of failure are catastrophic," he tells Pelley. "I disagree with what the majority of the American people want. Failure [in Iraq] will lead to chaos, withdrawal will lead to chaos."

First of all, to freely admit he is out of step with the American people should be an automatic death sentence for any Presidential campaign. A President should lead the citizens of the United States, not subvert the will of the vast majority. What is even far worse than that is saying that to lie to the voters is 'fun' and that he is happy to operate in such a manner.

With an attitude like that, consider McCain D.O.A. for any chance at becoming our next commander-in-chief.

Friday, April 06, 2007

South Park Decimates Bill Donahue

Another classic South Park episode:

Another Vindicating Moment For Howard Dean

Not too many people mentioned the party apparatus at work in the fundraisng totals this week. In case some have forgotten, Howard Dean is still running a successful operation over at the DNC. Although a lot of the financial windfall for Democratic candidates can be attributed to Hillary, Obama and Edwards by themselves; it also helps to look at the big picture.

Democrats outraised Republicans by an outstanding $30 million dollars give or take. The only Republican to breach $20 million was Mitt Romney and most of his money came from big time donors. In fact, to reach his sum of $23 million, it only took 30,000 donors. On the Democratic side, Hillary's money machine got $25 million from 50,000 donors and Obama wowed everyone with an incredible 100,000 individual contributors.

All of these small time contributors can't all live in California and New York. This is a 50 state movement and the creator of it is Howard Dean. Old time Dems wanted to stick to the failing strategy of getting large donations from a select few of the so-called "Limousine Liberals." Howard blew the door on that and made the Democratic purse reflect the people that the Dems are meant to represent, the people.

Mole333 over at the Daily Gotham has more:

Well, the demise of the Democratic Party has been predicted for some time...and when Howard Dean became head of the DNC more people than ever predicted it would spell doom and destruction for the party of the Donkey.

Since then, we did unexpectedly well in 2005 elections (NYC aside). Then in 2006 we kicked ass. Now it is too early to say what 2008 will bring, but my gut feelings about our candidates vs. their candidates may be playing out in the most important arena there is: fundraising.

Exactly! The naysayers out there saw the end of time with Howard. The only end that came was their control on the party. Now that the people have the control, the money has and will continue to flow in and it won't be business as usual. It is always better to have 100,000 people donate $20 dollars rather than less than 1,000 wealthy people give the $2,300 maximum. Of course it is good to have those too, but to get the small time donations, the party actually has to appeal to them. When the candidates look, sound and formulate smart, progressive policies, everyone wins.

GOP To Avoid Pigeon Poop

Next year's GOP Convention is going to be held in St. Paul next year and there is a problem. A pigeon problem. The city is infested by the 'flying rats' and is going to extraordinary lengths to get rid of them.

At first the balloons shaped like hawks didn't stop them, trapping and netting them was a fruitless effort as well. City officials thought of giving them contraceptives but feared sterilization of other species. Now the geniuses in the twin cities have come up with a new plan. Stealing eggs.


A longtime loser in the war against pigeons, St. Paul City Hall is gearing up for another battle.

This time, city warriors hope a new tactic will turn the tide against the downtown menaces. Their plan: Lure the birds to new rooftop nesting grounds and then steal their eggs.

"We'll build them little condos. We'll keep taking the eggs, and they won't have little ones," said Bill Stephenson, the city's animal control supervisor. "Slowly they'll die off, I guess."

The pigeon problem is just one of many housecleaning chores the city is tackling in advance of the Republican National Convention, which will come to the Xcel Energy Center next year. Flocks of pigeons have laid down their glop on skyway ledges and sidewalks and have sullied downtown's image, officials and property owners say.

Hopefully this plan will work out well for the twin cities. Hosting the Republican convention is important stuff ya know? I wonder how they will deal with the throngs of protesters and the scourge of Republican party faithful. It better not be a repeat of what happened here in NYC. If this all goes according to plan, the only shit around the Convention will be the words spewing from the speakers mouths'.

There Are Klingons In The White House

No really, there are according to Congressman David Wu of Oregon:

Senate Dems Take Action Over Sam Fox

Usually when someone goes behind your back and does something you expressly said not to, I would be pissed off. When it happens between the U.S. Senate and the President over an appointment to be the ambassador of Belgium, it might just be illegal as well.

Sam Fox lost out in the Senate confirmation process. Perhaps something with his massive fundraising efforts for the 'Swift Boats' group had something to do with it in addition to being a great friend to Republican coffers. When John Kerry grilled him over the highly personal issue, Mr. Fox was reduced to nothing. Now that the Senate is in recess, President Bush took the back door option and installed Sam as Ambassador anyways. However, the Democrats of 2007 are not taking this laying down.

More from The Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — Democrats called for an investigation Thursday into whether President Bush acted illegally in appointing Sam Fox ambassador to Belgium.

A day earlier, Bush named Republican fundraiser Fox to the post as a recess appointment _ a maneuver that allowed him to bypass Congress, where Democrats had derailed his nomination.

"We view the recess appointment of Mr. Fox as a clear abuse of the President's recess appointment power," three Democratic senators wrote in a letter to the Government Accountability Office, Congress' auditing agency.

President Bush's abuses of power is nothing new. He has been left mostly unchecked by a Republican rubber-stamp Congress for six years. Now that the tables have turned and the Democratic party is in the majority the attitude is vastly different. This investigation is now added to the list of 'potential' crimes King George has committed. The only trick of course, is to prosecute him for those crimes.

O'Reilly Complete Loses It

Bill O'Reilly is known for his monstrous ego and undying ambition to bully his guests into submission. No matter what the issue and which side Bill takes, he has to be right once he affirms himself to a position. Frequently Bill picks sensitive topics, comes to an off-the-wall conclusion and then beats his opponent over the head with it. He did this to Jeremy Glick, a son of a 9/11 victim, he's done this when the topic of Shawn Hornbeck was in the news and now his insensitivity reaches a new level.

Before you watch the video keep the facts in mind. Geraldo and O'Lielly are arguing over whether illegal immigrantion has anything to do with a tragic drunk driving accident that claimed the lives of two teenage girls in Virginia Beach a few days ago. Despite the family tragedy, Bill seizes the moment for political opportunity, without regard for the family of the victim.

Like Geraldo (of all people), Virginia Beach's mayor and the family did not take this lying down either, here's their response:

The mayor and Tessa Tranchant's father both said that making an issue out of immigration loses the focus that the girls were killed by a man that police said was driving drunk.

Ray Tranchant said, "We need to heal, and to bring immigration, that's disrespectful to a family who's just mourning."

Bill should be ashamed of himself....but of course he has no shame, so why bother?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

David Sirota On John Edwards: The People Party's Candidate

David Sirota wrote an excellent post today over on dKos about the top three Democratic candidates, the lay of the Presidential primary landscape and why John Edwards is truly the man meant for the nomination and ultimately to be our 44th President. He talks about the latest numbers from the first quarter fundraising results and why $14 million is much more astonishing than Obama and Hillary's $25 million a piece.

The article also compares campaign staff, issues, the candidates' enemies and most importantly their message. Hillary and Obama have their appeal as Democratic insider and political rockstar (you should know which one is the rockstar) but Edwards is on a different level. His campaign is about something bigger than him or his wife. Edwards' run for President is about healing our country and putting it on the right path. There is so much more in there, so go check it out.

It's Those "Clean Skin" Terrorists We Really Need To Look Out For

The latest warning to come from the Bush Administration is straight out of the mouth of Michael Chertoff. The Homeland Security Chief, well known for his part in the Hurricane Katrina debacle made a few statements regarding terrorism today before departing for Britain. One of these remarks included 'clean-skin' terrorists.

From The Daily Telegraph:

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Michael Chertoff, who arrives in Britain tomorrow for talks with John Reid, the Home Secretary, said the US was determined to build extra defences against so-called "clean skin" terrorists from Europe.

"We need to build layers of protection, and I don't think we totally want to rely upon the fact that a foreign government is going to know that one of their citizens is suspicious and is going to be coming here," he said.

Mr Chertoff insisted that the US required additional information, including email addresses and credit card details, to vet European passengers and rejected "the idea that we're going to bargain with the European Union over who's going to come into the United States" under the visa waiver scheme.

So if a terrorist doesn't have clean skin, then what? Did the others not take a shower recently? These remarks are hardly appropriate and especially not in the manner in which he said them. Indirectly referring to people with dark skin as dirty is a disgusting practice that Mr. Chertoff inadvertently revealed about himself.

Protecting America from terrorists is definitely a good thing, but to inject racist attitudes into the matter is most certainly not. We should expect more from our Administration's officials, but with President Bush at the helm it is hardly surprising to see this make the news.

How To Debate Republicans When It Comes To Elizabeth

From Bill Maher this past Friday:

American Family Association Get Slammed By Ex-Lawyer

When I think of the American Family Association, the last thing that comes to mind is 'family.' Words like 'bigotry,' 'racism,' and 'hypocrisy' are much farther up on the list. Though what does my opinion matter on the issue. It isn't like I worked there or anything, I am just an outsider to the AFA. Joe Murray is an insider, more accurately an ex-insider who used to represent the AFA as legal counsel. His opinions on his former employer are damning to be sure.

From The Bulletin (penned by Joe Murray)

The American Family Association, a pro-family organization and former employer of this writer, sprung into action sending out this "action alert": "Homosexuals working to get Marine general punished for comments calling homosexual act immoral."

AFA then warned that the homosexual lobby "already forced [Pace] to back down a step," and urged supporters to defend Pace and "take a stand for our troops who cannot get involved in this political situation." AFA, like others, had pulled out its red herring.

This is not a political situation, but instead it is a situation where a high ranking official made comments that judged individuals, not ideas. Pace singled out gay soldiers during a time of war and told these men and women that they were immoral. His comments, as a military official, were over the line and not defensible.

AFA, like other "Christian" groups, chose to run to Pace's aid and such an act suggests borderline bigoted behavior from an organization claiming the mantle of Christianity. This is disturbing.

If troop safety is AFA's primary concern, and not fear-mongering, why hasn't AFA demanded Bush bring these soldiers home? Does it really think the "political situation" of gays in the military presents a greater harm to soldiers than the bullets flying in Baghdad or are other motives being subtly conveyed to an America populace who are already fearful, thanks to past action alerts, of the "homosexual agenda?"

Conservative groups had an opportunity to bring a sense of Christian compassion to this debate, but opted instead to scare supporters into believing homosexuals were trying to raise the rainbow flag over the Pentagon. This is not political activism based upon Christian principle; it is fear mongering based on the politics of man.

Murray nails it right on the head. Thankfully this compassionate Conservative actually believes in being compassionate. It isn't about rhetoric for the guy like his former employers use quite frequently. It is wonderful to see decent people that have worked for hateful organizations like AFA finally see the light and fight against bigotry and hypocrisy. Cheers to Joe Murray!

Apparently, John McCain Needs A Jew-Counter On His Staff

I've been on a few campaigns in my day and I think that I've got the basics of what you need for a good staff. A campaign manager, field operation, fundraisers, media relations, lots of volunteers and a couple of lawyers are a good supplement to a great candidate. However, McCain is not a great candidate, he knows it and feels the need to add other types of political operatives.

If I were him and had one wish, it would be for a miracle. Aside from being a higher power, my miracle would not come in the form of Fred Malek. To say Malek has an ugly past would be an understatement. The last time a presidential candidate hired him the guy was pressured to resign almost on the spot. So why you ask is Fred such a bad boy?

From Media Matters:

On April 3, Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) 2008 presidential campaign announced that it had hired former Nixon staffer Fred Malek as its national finance co-chairman. However, as David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation, noted in an April 3 entry on his Capital Games weblog, the McCain campaign's press release "left out an interesting piece of Malek's history: when he counted Jews for President Richard Nixon." As Corn reported, Nixon suspected that a "cabal" of Jews at the Bureau of Labor Statistics was skewing economic figures to make the administration look bad and assigned Malek to report back on how many Jews were employed at BLS. When former President George H.W. Bush hired Malek as a top official at the Republican National Committee (RNC) in 1988, revelations in the press regarding Malek's work for Nixon reportedly led him to resign. McCain's hiring of Malek would seem to warrant the same disclosures from the media, but so far, only one news outlet other than The Nation has reported it.

Moreover, as Media Matters for America senior fellow Eric Boehlert documented, Politico senior writer Ben Smith "lean[ed] on lots of innuendo" in a March 13 weblog post in order to report that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has a "Jewish Problem," but failed to provide evidence substantiating that claim. Now that McCain has hired Malek, who allegedly aided President Nixon's attempts to expose the so-called "Jewish cabal" in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, will the Politico investigate "McCain's Jewish Problem"?

So why would McCain leave that little tidbit out (and for that matter, why didn't Ben Smith report on it at the Politico?) while highlighting his financial abilities. Perhaps counting Jews isn't a part of a 2008 Presidential race, so maybe it isn't that important. Being a Jew myself (who is sitting in a coffeeshop salivating over all the delicious baked goods) I think that it is absolutely ridiculous to hire someone that carried out the wishes of that anti-semite (IMHO) Richard Nixon.

When George H.W. Bush hired him he was quickly let go of. People in 1988 realized that having that kind of press isn't the best to have when running for President. So why is the media (save for The Nation and Media Matters) not reporting on it? Media Matters offers tons of material (from the link above) on how this issue is being kept quiet in the press. It is time to put the pressure on the media and subsequently John McCain and fire Fred Malek.

Romney Likes To Veto

This has to be one of the strangest campaign ads I've seen in a while:

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Go Back To Africa And Do Your Gay Voodoo Limbo Tango

This creative anti-gay slur and many others were part of a heated email exchange between an army recruiter and a member of The army recruiter, Sgt. Marcia Ramode contacted Corey Andrew about a position in the army, but got nasty after he disclosed that he was an openly gay man. Today Andrew got press on the issue, bringing the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" program back into the spotlight.

From RawStory:

After posting his resume on online job site, Corey Andrew was contacted by an army recruiter about a job.

The email exchange between Andrew and the recruiter, Sergeant Marcia Ramode, quickly turned hostile when Andrew revealed that he was a homosexual.

"You are definitely unqualified," wrote Ramode. "Now take you gay self [sic] back to someplace else we do not tolerate gay people like you in any part of the military."

"Her response was appalling," Andrew told CNN.

The email exchange grew more heated, with Ramode suggesting that Andrew should, "go back to Africa and do your gay voodoo limbo tango and wango dance."

Thankfully the recruiting station based in Brooklyn had some common sense on their part and put the Sargeant on leave, saying her childish behavior is not acceptable for the ambassadors of America's army. Nevertheless, the episode reveals how the military's policy dealing with homosexuals is flawed.

While the army has no qualms about inducting convicted felons and other ilk, they are still repulsed by the fact that a man or woman may be attracted to their own gender. I feel bad for Andrew because he had to deal with the recruiter's homophobia upclose and personal. Hopefully there is a silver lining in all of this and the military finally takes a hard look at their failed policy and ditches it. Of course, I'm not holding my breath either.

Embalming Your Congressman

Stephen Colbert, as usual, asks the tough questions we all want answers to:

There Is A Whole Lot Of Safe Sex Going On In NYC

New York City officials in the health department are enjoying quite a bit of success today over their NYC Condom campaign. Although it cannot be confirmed if they've all been used (nor does anyone want to really find out) the health department has given away over five million condoms in the first month of their program.

From The Empire Zone:

Between Feb. 14 and March 14, more than 800 organizations requested the condoms, which come in black wrappers with circled letters — each circle the color of one of the city’s train lines — spelling “N.Y.C. Condom.”

“The N.Y.C. Condom is a sensation,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. “Hundreds of community organizations are signing up to give out free condoms, many for the first time. I commend them for doing their part to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies, and I urge anyone who wants an N.Y.C. Condom to visit or
call 311.”

This is a huge success for the health department and for New Yorkers that are thinking with their heads first. It would be great to see more cities follow our lead. Safe sex is an important issue in these times and our government should do more to help out. George Bush and his fundy friends might object to this noble effort, but if you care about common sense, then who really wants to listen to them?

Karl Rove Gets Stoned

Bush's brain wasn't caught with marijuana last night, but that might have calmed his nerves after getting pelted with numerous objects at American University. For safety's sake the students did not used rocks when they hurled insults and various items at Karl and his car. Without injuring the guy, the message definitely got across.

Karl was leaving the university after talking with College Republicans on campus. He might have been able to talk about the ridiculousness in the White House and how to spin it, but those pesky CRs certainly understood that the vast majority do not approve of the man or his methods.

Although the images are a bit fuzzy, it is easy to tell this wasn't a pretty scene for the spin-meister. Despite the craziness and the students that laid down on the street in front of his car, no one was arrested or detained.

Watch Out Hillary, Here Comes Obama

One of Hillary's biggest strengths going into this race was her ability to raise major amounts of cash. With the 1st quarter numbers in, she didn't disappoint. Raising $25 million dollars is not small change. However, Obama released his numbers today and startling to some, matched that amount. Thats not all, while Hillary raised that money from 50,000 donors, Obama doubled that number.

One hundred thousand individual donors proves he has widespread appeal while Hillary's numbers show that the big-time Democrats largely have her back. The problem for Hillary is that she just doesn't appeal to the masses. Especially so in the Democratic activist sphere, which is the one that counts here.

More from The Huffington Post:

The campaign reported that the figure included at least $23.5 million that he can spend on the highly competitive primary race. The Clinton campaign has yet to disclose how much they can use for the primary verses money that is designated for the general election.

While Clinton has honed a vast national fundraising network through two Senate campaigns and her husband's eight years as president, Obama launched his bid for the White House with a relatively small donor base concentrated largely in Illinois, his home state. But his early opposition to the Iraq war and voter excitement over his quest to be the first black president quickly fueled a powerful fundraising machine.

Since he formally declared his presidential campaign in February, Obama has been traveling the country with a focus on urban areas where he could build his momentum and bring in new donors. He attracted big-money Hollywood and Wall St. executives along with families who came out to his stops in places like Oklahoma that sometimes are neglected by other candidates.

Obamamania continues to surge while Hillary is relying on a network that has been in place for years. Yet, even her donors are wary. While Obama proudly reported that most of his contributions are for the primary, Hillary is obviously embarrassed by the primary cash she has raised. If she wasn't, it would have been released.

Meanwhile, Edwards raised a slightly smaller number, around $14 million. Although the amount is nearly 40 percent below his two main rivals, don't be surprised if he has a surge of his own. Time will only tell if Obama can transform his rockstar into a long-term success. With today's media constantly looking for ratings over substance, you never know what they'll throw at Obama or any of the candidates tomorrow, next week or in the coming months leading up to the primary.

Hiding Behind A Shrub

The video really says it all:

Jesus H. Obama!?!

The art world continues to be rocked by controversial works concerning the almighty Jesus. That crazy old son of God is up to his old tricks by outraging (modern-day) Pharisees all over the place. Last week it was chocolate Jesus by Cosimo Cavallaro, which was quickly pulled by the hosting gallery. This week Jesus gets into the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary.

From The Chicago Tribune:

CHICAGO -- He wears Jesus' robes and a neon blue halo, looks like Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and is causing a stir at a Chicago art school.

An undergraduate student's paper mache sculpture of Obama as a messianic figure -- entitled "Blessing" -- went on display Saturday at a West Loop gallery run by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. By Monday, word of the piece had spread on political blogs, and the school had been flooded with calls.

David Cordero, 24, made the sculpture for his senior show after noticing all the attention Obama has received since he first hinted he may run for the presidency.

It is commonly noted that art imitates life. That statement couldn't be more true in this instance. To many around the country, Barack Obama represents a new hope and salvation from the current disaster widely known as George W. Bush. Everything from the book "Audacity of Hope" to his charismatic speeches have helped to create a huge buzz around this relatively new national political figure. He may not be the second coming, but he is way closer than George Bush could ever come to it.

Rocking Out In Baghdad

With all the death, mayhem and chaos that envelops the capital of Iraq it is hard to imagine anything worthwhile could come out of that city. However there are people in Baghdad that are fighting back without bullets. In this video, a young man by the name of Adel writes and plays music that defines the violence that surrounds his life. Although the rest of his band has moved to safer places like the north and into Jordan, they vow to play again together.

From ChatThePlanet:

In this episode, Adel uses heavy metal to express his rage at the death and destruction surrounding him.

Hometown Baghdad was shot by an all-Iraqi crew and tells the stories of three young people trying to survive in Baghdad.

To view all videos in this series, go to

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Vacationing At Hypocrisy Ranch

In Washington, the general rule around Easter time is to take a recess for Representatives to go back to their districts for a week or two while the President does the same. It is happening this year as it has for many years before now. Of course this didn't stop President Bush from being an utter hypocrite and criticizing Congress for not getting his bills passed before the break.

From ABC News:

"They need to come back, pass a bill," said Bush during a press conference about Congress' efforts to attach conditions for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq to a war spending bill.

The President said Congress' traditional spring recess over Passover and Easter holidays has delayed the passage of emergency Iraq war funding.

"The Democrats in Congress … have left Washington for spring recess without finishing the work," said Bush. "They need to come off their vacation, get a bill to my desk, and if it's got strings and mandates and withdrawals and pork, I'll veto it and then we can get down to business of getting this thing done," he said.

Those are some tough words from a President who has spent 405 days at his ranch and is about to add to that number with a long Easter weekend down in Crawford. Of course Bush didn't complain in previous years when the Republican Congress took longer breaks and moved even slower to pass King George's legislation. This political grandstanding is nothing more than a load of crap. For anyone that is paying attention, Bush is trying to show that the Democratic Party isn't working as hard as he is or supporting the troops.

It is too bad that only his small band of followers and the man in his mirror believe the bullshit that comes out of his mouth. The truth is, the Democrats do support the troops while not dutifully following the President. The facts in the legislation prove that the only party that supports the troops with actions is the Democratic party. In fact if Bush vetoes the bill that provides funding for the troops through the middle of next year, he will only have himself to blame for not giving our soldiers what they need in the middle of Mess o'potamia (credit for the term to Jon Stewart).

O'Reilly Invites Snoop On The Factor, Will He Accept?

Apparently word traveled back to Bill O about Snoop's interview over in the Netherlands. The Dutch TV episode shows Snoop Dogg and his opinion on O'Reilly which isn't that pretty, especially to the sheltered minds out there. During the show Snoop said "F*ck Bill O'Reilly" among other things. Snoop also said that he would go on the Falafel Factor anytime, only it would have to be in the hood.

Well Bill got the message and invited the rapper on his show. Of course Bill had some barbs of his own for Snoop, though they did not include any cuss words. Instead he made references to Snoop's lifestyle which is far from his where he was brought up and of course threw in a drug reference. Check out the video at Think Progress.

Being Unpopular Has Its Advantages

Sure, everyone around the world continues to hate America the Bush Administration more and more by the moment. As we lose our credibility from Austria to Zimbabwe, there are certain advantages to being hated so much, especially in Iraq. For instance, when U.S. troops stage a fake raid on Iraqis, it can actually increase their street credibility.

Colbert gives his take on the matter in last night's 'Word':

What Middle Class?

A strong middle class has what has made our democracy so successful in the past. In fact many political scientists say it is essential for emerging nations to have in order to make democracy work. The problem here in the United States is that the middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate. Yesterday, the Drum Major Institute held a conference here in New York City to address the issue about our own declining middle class. The fireworks came out when the potential mayoral candidates sparred over what to do about it.

From The Empire Zone:

Diane Cardwell reports today that Representative Anthony D. Weiner, who represents parts of Queens and Brooklyn, called for a tax increase on New Yorkers who make more than $1 million a year, an idea that Adolfo CarriĆ³n Jr., the Bronx borough president, derided as “a small, fractional, lunch-money income tax break.”


Of course, worry about a shrinking middle class is nothing new. Indeed, a quick search of our archives reveals that anxiety about the economy has long been tied up with concerns about the fate of the middle class. In 1984, as the United States recovered from a recession, the economist Lester C. Thurow warned [TimesSelect] that the middle class was essential for social stability. He reasoned:

Marx’s predicted revolution did not occur because he did not foresee the rise of the middle class. The middle class had an interest in preserving capitalism and voted to alleviate the worst excesses of capitalism with social welfare programs. Their very presence gave the poor hope that they too could escape from poverty.

Do those concerns still hold true today?

You bet they do. Kudos to DMI for holding the conference and allowing the next potential mayor to say what they plan to do to help save NYC's middle class. If a winning idea can come to fruition here in the City, we might just find a plan that can work nation-wide.

Newsflash! Greenhouses Gases Are Pollutants

Aren't you shocked at the revelation? For all this time I thought it was healthy to inhale the fumes coming out of the cars on the street. All snarking aside, this is good news because it was the Supreme Court that realized this and made a ruling forcing the EPA to re-examine their refusal to regulate greenhouses gases. The 5-4 decision did not mandate regulations (this is the Roberts court ya know?) but at least it is a step in the right direction.

From The Boston Globe:

The case, brought by 12 states and 13 environmental groups and argued by the Massachusetts Attorney General's office, is the high court's first decision on global warming and is expected to have far-reaching implications for regulating greenhouse gases in the United States.

"In short, EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.

The EPA had argued that the Clean Air Act did not give it authority to regulate greenhouse gases in part because of "substantial scientific uncertainty" about its harm to human health and the environment.

The EPA and the Bush Administration may try to live in a state of forced delusion over the moral debate over climate change, but this is no longer a political debate. Even the Supreme Court sees it as such, despite its heavy conservative leanings. It is time for the EPA to do their job and help cut greenhouses gas emissions.

What We Need To See More Of

This lucky pair were reunited at the son's classroom. Now multiply that by 150,000 and imagine what that would do for the national conscience.

"Dan Quayle In Cowboy Boots"

I wish I could claim credit for that definition of George Bush. It sounds like something created by the gurus of the anti-Bush movement (there are so many afterall) but interestingly enough, it comes from within. The author, Victor Gold, is actually a close friend of George H.W. Bush and the Cheney family. His new book has a lot to say about the President and his allies and none of it is good.

From The Washington Post:

"For all the Rove-built facade of his being a 'strong' chief executive, George W. Bush has been, by comparison to even hapless Jimmy Carter, the weakest, most out of touch president in modern times," Gold writes. "Think Dan Quayle in cowboy boots."

Gold is even more withering in his observations of Cheney. "A vice president in control is bad enough. Worse yet is a vice president out of control."

For Gold, Cheney brings to mind the adage of Swiss writer Madame de Stael, who wrote, "Men do not change, they unmask themselves." Cheney has a deep streak of paranoia and megalomania, Gold suggests -- but he says he did not see it at first.

"He was hiding who he really was," Gold says. "He was waiting for an opportunity."

In many ways, Gold's tale of disillusionment is a familiar one. There are plenty of veterans of Reagan and Bush 41 around town who believe Bush and Cheney trashed the institutions and party they helped build from the wreckage of the Goldwater campaign.

But there aren't many who have been on a first-name basis with those they believe are doing the trashing. There aren't many like Vic Gold.

Vic Gold may have been disillusioned, but we here in the reality-based community saw this coming all along. There was nothing to be unmasked, it was just waiting to come out and wreak havoc on our country. To be fair to Victor, it is great to see that he discovered who he was truly working for.

His new book, "Invasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP" is a cleverly titled expose for his fellow Republicans to read and absorb. I am afraid that despite his status, this will just be another member of the old GOP falling off the speeding train with no brakes. So many former confidantes have been scorned after coming clean by the right. Although their numbers are shrinking, they continue driving that train straight towards the cliff.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Diagnosing Our Pill-Popping Culture

It seems these days there is a pill for every health problem imaginable. Even for problems that can be imagined, thanks to carefully crafted commercials made by the drug industry. Popping pills for our troubles perfectly encapsulates our easy-way-out culture. Most people can't see the big picture unfortunately, perhaps they can only see a glimmer of false light at the end of the drug culture tunnel.

Well feast your eyes on this brand new play and maybe you can catch a ray of sunlight not created in a pharmaceutical lab. "Distortion" is making its primiere at the Mark Taper Theater in Los Angeles. The play sets out to show our society that maybe, just maybe, pills aren't always the answer.

From The Huffington Post:

The madness of the pill-popping phenomenon is nicely summed up in this exchange from the play:

Doctor: People with untreated ADD are three times more likely to abuse drugs. Mama: And by "untreated" you mean --? Doctor: Unmedicated. Mama: So, if my son takes a drug, he's less likely to take...drugs?
And later, the Doctor has this to say about the potential side effects of Ritalin: "The most common are loss of appetite, delayed growth, and insomnia, but we can always add another drug like Clonidine to help the insomnia. Some children develop tics, but we can add a little Tenex to control that."

Paging Joseph Heller!

The play also effectively raises a mirror to the parents in the crowd, forcing us to question how much our Blackberry-and-cell-phone-driven, multi-tasking, media overloaded ways are impacting our kids. As Rita Wilson's character puts it at the end of the play: "What if the best thing I can give my son for Attention Deficit Disorder is my... attention?"

To be fair, the play does balance the issue out by saying that drugs can help where they are needed. However the amount of drugs that are dispensed today, especially for our children is highly out of whack. Every parent facing a 'disorderly' child should see this play and ask themselves if the pills are really worth it.

Newspapers Are A Bunch Of Sluts

I don't know about them being sluts, perhaps in some instances maybe. I would never make that assertion like former President Nixon did a while back. Who the media are sluts to is another difference between Nixon and myself. Today I would say they are beholden to their corporate masters by and large. Thirty-five years ago the only thing that mattered was Nixon's enormous ego.

This information and more was brought to light by Vanity Fair's Robert Dallek. In addition to writing an article for the magazine, he is writing a book on the power struggle between Nixon and Kissinger. While both men agreed on the newspapers being sluts, the two sparred against each other in their own quests for power of the Nixon Administration.

From RawStory:

In next month's Vanity Fair, Robert Dallek illustrates how President Richard Nixon "was losing his epic power struggle with Henry Kissinger," a thesis drawn out in his upcoming book Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power. He describes the two similarly as "paranoid and insecure, deceitful and manipulative, ruthless and strangely vulnerable."

Dallek bases his argument on a new analysis of Nixon administration archives -- what he calls a "real-time rendering of events often at variance with official portrayals" -- which includes diary entries, transcripts, tapes, records and official papers. "Henry Kissinger never wanted the 20,000 pages of his telephone transcripts made public," writes Dallek, "not while he was alive, at any rate. And for good reason."

The historian highlights "moments of high drama" and depicts Kissinger as "a man whose growing power derived from Nixon's deepening incapacity." Dallek also discusses how the archives "reveal Kissinger's troubling personality and methods across a broad front."

There'll be plenty more in the article and the upcoming book. Be sure to check it out, the pages should be exciting, even if you aren't a Presidential historian. The battle between these two paranoid and egocentric men is one for the ages.

Show PhRMA The Money!

Who cares about the welfare of the American people? The old Congress certainly didn't. They let the pharmaceutical industry write legislation which increased profits by several billion dollars. The winners of this action was the industry and 15 members of Congress and their aides who got lucrative job offers to lobby for PhRMA. The losers however, are the rest of us.

The 'Surge' In Death

President Bush and his sycophants have been touting the surge in troops because of a deluded feeling that Iraq is getting safer. John McCain made a heavily protected appearance yesterday in order to back up that misbegotten belief. Unfortunately, along with the escalation of our troop numbers in Iraq, the death toll for Iraqis continues to climb higher.

From Juan Cole:

For all those journalists and politicians who keep insisting that there are new "glimmers" of "hope" in Iraq because of the new security plan started 6 weeks ago, here is a sobering statistic from the Iraqi government. (I'm looking at you, John McCain. See below for more on McCain).

Iraqis killed in February: 1806 (64.5/day)
Iraqis killed in March: 2078 (67/day)

As the wire services report, that is a 15% increase if figured by the month. I provided the figures, above, to show that it is an increase even if figured by the day (4%). (I should have, in the earlier version of this post, highlighted the latter in the exposition rather than getting carried away by the wire service headline, as some readers have kindly or sometimes acerbically insisted.)

The reality on the ground is, as usual, far different from what many Republicans are trying to claim. No matter how many troops we put in harm's way, the killing will continue. Sunnis will terrorize Shias and vice-versa. This civil war is beyond repair for our soldiers to fix. We need to pull out and look for a diplomatic solution. It is not our place to be caught in the crossfire.

McCain Takes A Stroll Around Baghdad

McCain has claimed Iraq is so safe and that the American people aren't getting the full story about all the progress in the occupied country. Many in the reality-based community have scolded him for his ridiculous views but McCain has other plans. He tried to show that Baghdad was actually safe by risking a walk around town.

From Crooks and Liars:

Saint McCain is in Iraq this week and proving the "three-months-late" media wrong. Last week he said that the surge is so promising that you can walk the streets of Baghdad safely. He reaffirmed that point at a press conference today, only he forgot to mention that you need 100 US soldiers, three blackhawk helicopters and two apache gunships watching your back. Oops. Must have slipped his mind.

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Of course McCain has to blame the media again. Newsweek reminds us just how "safe" Baghdad really is:

[I]t didn't take the insurgents long to send their reply. Less then 30 minutes after McCain wrapped up, a barrage of half a dozen mortars peppered the boundaries of the Green Zone, where the senators held their press conference.

Now that is definitely a place where I would feel safe. Nothing like a ton of troops and 5 helicopters watching over me. If only every American serving over there had protection like that. I'm sure I could walk around Baghdad like Johnny Boy. Oh wait, what do mortars do again?

Snoop Dogg Has Some Choice Words For Bill O'Reilly

While Snoop was overseas in Europe one interview went awry and the focus went on none other than Bill O. Apparently it isn't just the political community on the left that hates this guy. Snoop wants to go on the O' Falafel Factor but not at the Fox studios, this exchange would have to take place in the Dogg Pound.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Monty Python Strikes Back

The satirical wit of Terry Jones is beyond compare. If you aren't a fan of Monty Python, you should definitely check it out because it is not to be missed. However there is a serious side to the creator of Monty Python and he took the U.S. and the U.K to task over the treatment of prisoners by the two countries in an Op Ed today.

From The Guardian:

I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this - allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God's sake, what's wrong with putting a bag over her head? That's what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it's hard to breathe. Then it's perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can't be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn't be able to talk at all. Of course they'd probably find it even harder to breathe - especially with a bag over their head - but at least they wouldn't be humiliated.

So the commentary cannot be done without humor, we are talking about Terry Jones after all. Like all comedians out there, the amount of material that is made available to make light of is almost insurmountable. Of course I'd rather laugh at something meaningless like Will Ferrell's "Blades of Glory" than the torture of captives held by Britain and the United States. I definitely recommend that movie if you are looking to have your mind numbed from all of our governments' insanity for an hour and a half.