Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ephedra Is Back - Get It While You Can via NewsMax!

For the third time in a week, NewsMax.Com, "America's news page," has sent me an e-mail offering Ephedra.

This is the weight loss supplement linked to more than 155 deaths from stroke and heart attack that was banned in the U.S. in 2004.

A few months ago, I signed up for NewsMax bulletins so I could learn about the latest wingnut blather. Not only is NewsMax trying to help me lose weight, but they're also trying to sell me some pie-in-sky scheme where I can "option $5,000 into $170,000 in 335 days."

Here is the pitch for my money and then for my life:

It sounds absurd, I know. But when I did the math... and discovered that it was not only possible, but also highly probable... I told my analyst he could guarantee your money back if it didn't happen exactly as described in the pages that follow.

You could have turned: $5,000 into $64,250 in 2 days (with just one trade) $5,000 into $22,500 in 13 days (with just one trade) $5,000 into $50,350 in 41 days (with just one trade)

I know, the numbers don't add up; and indeed it is absurd. But remember this is some right-wing blog, so what can one expect?!?

Now the pitch for drugs:

Finally, the amazing herb banned for being 'too effective' - EPHEDRA(Ma Huang) is available to the public again....

The Bottom line Is: People love ephedra because it is one of the only natural herbs that you can feel working in real-time. There is no doubt about it - ephedra is the most effective and results oriented herb available.

Imagine taking an herb for energy and /or weight loss that is Strong, Smooth, Confident, Athletic and 100% Organic, Safe and Caffeine-Free...you have just had ephedra. Ephedra will improve your performance at whatever you are doing. It also guarantees weight loss. When you take ephedra, you will love it - 100% Guaranteed.

That's right. Ephedra's smooth, athletic, focused and confident energy is not just surprising...We guarantee that it is the best energy and /or weight loss product you have ever taken...or you can have 100% of your money back.

Click Here To Get Your Ephedra Now - Supplies Are Honestly GoingFast

Maybe NewsMax has known all along that I'm a die-hard blue Democrat. They're trying to take my last penny and then have me croak. But one little query, how in the hell does NewsMax get away with selling something that's been banned?!?

More Polls - Iraq War

Zogby released a poll that shows 72 percent of American troops in Iraq want us to withdraw from Iraq, now.

Well, at least in 2006.

As a faithful Zogby participant, Zogby sent me an e-mail with their latest Iraqi War poll numbers, but participants weren't just anyone. They were American troops in Iraq, and poll numbers can be found here.
While 89% of reserves and 82% of those in the National Guard said the U.S. should leave Iraq within a year, 58% of Marines think so. Seven in ten of those in the regular Army thought the U.S. should leave Iraq in the next year. Moreover, about three-quarters of those in National Guard and Reserve units favor withdrawal within six months, just 15% of Marines felt that way. About half of those in the regular Army favored withdrawal from Iraq in the next six months
For all those Murtha naysayer, he was right, as each passing day more conspicuously shows. Without knowing too much about Murtha in the past, when he came out for an immediate pull-out and the media started hyperventilating and sucking all the air out of cable, I was grateful for the added voice but failed to realize what all the fuss was about.

Now it is clear Murtha switched sides because his military friends told him the war was unwinnable. And after recently watching the seminal movie about urban guerrilla warfare, "The Battle of Algiers," the story of Nigerian Muslims who successfully fought the French for independence during the 50s (a movie screened to "special operations officials at the Pentagon" in 2003), I have crossed to the other side.

Pull Out - Now.

Without completely annihilating the enemy, no occupying nation has ever been able to maintain power in the annals of history. The longer we stay, the more money we squander as the casualty list grows even longer.

Our soldiers in Iraq know the jig is up. We ain't winning and we need to get the hell out of Dodge; this in spite of the fact that 85 percent of the troops think "the U.S. mission is 'to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks.'"

Boy, did Bush and his neocon evildoers pull the biggest canard-laden bullshit on our poor soldiers.

Fresh Off the Wire - A Lot of Virginians Say Bush Broke the Law

Virginians think Bush disregarded the law when he ordered private citizens to be wiretapped; but so do a lot of folks.

SurveyUSA has a brand spanking new poll that tells a potent story: not one single state polled has a majority of adults who said Bush did not break the law.

Virginia checks in with 39 percent of adults who believe the president clearly broke the law. Thirty Six percent are sure he did not; and 20 percent think it's not clear whether the law was broken or not. More males than females said the president broke the law, 40 percent to 37 percent; and younger Virginians are more likely to say, oh yea, he was clearly breaking the law.

The swing state of Ohio has an incredible 13 percent difference between those who say the president did not breach the law and those who do, 29 percent to 42 percent.

Vermont leads all states with a 52 percent majority who said the president clearly crossed the legal line. By 40 percent or higher, 19 states said Bush broke the law: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin.

Only four states said Bush clearly did not break the law by 40 percent or higher, and just barely: Texas by 40 percent, Alabama and Nebraska by 41 percent, and Oklahoma by 42 percent.

The Trouble with Bloggers in Virginia, Especially Me

To the brave souls who broke the blogosphere frontier early on, more power to you.

And to the poor saps like myself who got into the game late, so be it!

Recently there is been a brouhaha brewing because a blogger had the temerity to lodge his displeasure the way a long-time blogger ranks his lists of Virginia keyboard commandoes.

As a person who often makes mistakes, has to rewrite and rewrite, all the while posting with errors (until I recently dicovered a way to limit errors before posting, as best as possible by a global thinker, not too good with tiny visual details), I confess to being in the lower caste of bloggers.

Yet I think I have a great point of view on local, state and national political affairs; and so have been told by a more "national blogger" who happily links to me, although traffic is paltry.

Of course, the very reason I began to blog is because I love to both write and talk about religion and politics; and I find myself sometimes posting about minor trifflings, as evidenced by the dearth of posts on the subject of religion and social justice.

Well, if you want to link to my blog, fine; but after readying the toadying comments, including my own, on linking by gold, silver and bronze standards, I am speaking out.

Yes, I think the blogger who complained about stratification is right on the $$$. As an old sociologist, I find any kind of stratification offensive to spirit, particularly for people like me at the bottom of the casting barrel.

Whether there are way too many progressive bloggers or not, I say the more the merrier; and if a Johnny-come-lately happens to garner the most clicks, more power to him or her. The Virginia blog carnival is an excellent venue for fellow Virginians to express their political observations and have them read.

Henceforth I will quit obsessing about how many clicks my latest post collected; after all, I blogged for months when the only visitors were spammers. And yes, purposefully, I have linked to no post.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Virginia Law - Guilty Unless Proven Innocent for Indigents

Virginia Law - Guilty Unless Proven Innocent for Indigents

The blind hand of justice in Virginia is only for those who can afford costly bifocals; if you should ever face serious criminal charges, you better get a good lawyer and have at least $10,000-$15,000 laying around. Otherwise, you're at the mercy of a tough-on-crime mentality prosecutor who might have eyes on higher office with your scalp as the admission ticket

Remember James Gilmore? No, well how about Jerry Kilgore?!? All from the good-old boys network of lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key.

This morning The Roanoke Times illustrates why indigent defendants find little due process in the courts.

Virginia ranks 50th in compensation for court-appointed attorneys. Virginia is the only state in the country with unwaiveable caps on fees paid court-appointed lawyers. This means that no matter how many hours the court-appointed attorney spends on a case, he will receive not one dollar more than the cap allows.

Virginia pays court-appointed lawyers $1,186 to represent a client who faces
20 years to life in prison, even if there's a full-fledged trial. The maximum
payment for less-serious felonies is $428.

In other words, there is justice of the O.J. Simpson, Claus von Bulow and Susan Cummings variety, and then there are the thousands of poor saps who "wal[k] into court charged with a crime that could result in the loss of liberty for life [and] the only one standing beside [them] in...search for the truth, painstakingly gleaned through the adversarial process, is a lawyer -- paid $1,186 -- or an equally poorly paid public defender."

Seems fair to me, how about you...?

In the House and Senate, bills to "address, in varying degrees, this deplorable situation" were introduced by Dels. David Albo, Terry Kilgore, Lacey Putney and Vincent Callahan Jr. and Sens. Kenneth Stolle and Frederick Quayle, all Republicans save for Putney who is an Independent but caucuses with Republicans.

What a welcome sign that legislators are ready to address the shameful way indigents are defended in Virginia.

Graciously, Times links story to the Virginia Indigent Defense Coalition, a nonprofit organization that campaigns to "fulfill the unkept promises of Gideon v. Wainwright and the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Our GOP Neighbors Find Comfort in their Defeat

The Washington Times, a source I rarely read (but today being a skimpy news day, I was trolling across the Internet), front-pages Republican losses in Maryland with this laughable delusion.

Maryland Republicans looked back on a string of defeats as the 90-day General Assembly reached its midpoint Friday.

Republican leaders chose to view...setbacks -- including defeat of a ban on homosexual "marriage" and anticipated defeat for restrictions on property seizures by the government -- as costly victories for Democrats.

Kinna reminds me of the battered wife who knows her boozer hubby loves her 'cause he beats her to a bloody pulp every night. Or the latest White House talking points about how the Civil War in Iraq means democracy is definitely on the march. It's a George 'Orwell' Bush world where war means peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength, don't you know?!?

I guess GOP'ers in Maryland didn't get the memo from GOP'ers in Virginia. Suburban and emerging suburban voters don't give a hoot about wedge issues like a "marriage" bill as the Washington Post noted in a nifty article this morning.

Each party, every so often, rediscovers the reality in competitive Virginia politics that, in addition to appealing to their partisan base, they need to project a problem-solving appeal to the swing voters in suburban areas," said Frank Atkinson, an adviser to Republican governors and the author of a political history of Virginia.


Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said he and other Republicans learned a valuable lesson from the last election: Suburban voters want to hear less about bedroom issues and more about education, health care, transportation and gangs.

"Let's face it: If you are in Northern Virginia running a campaign based 100 percent on the social agenda, you are probably not going to do very well," Bolling said. "You have to be talking about issues that people care about. And I think they care a whole lot more about some other things."

Oops, back to the drawing board, dear brainless misguided GOP boosters. The state of suburbia in Virginia, applies equally in Maryland, if not more so.

Dr. Walmart?!?

After the state of Maryland passed a bill penalizing Wal Mart for skimping on their employee health care benefits and other states threatened to follow suit, the New York Times reports their chief executive on Sunday begged please, no mas!

The executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., said that state bills aimed at improving Wal-Mart's benefits "may score short-term political points, but they won't solve America's health care challenges."

Mr. Scott said that Wal-Mart's health plans were "not perfect" but that the company was committed to improving the health care system by expanding its benefits and by opening low-cost medical clinics for workers and the public in its stores.

Wow, it's been a very long time since a grass roots movement won a national battle against a corporate behemoth. I guess all those pesky e-mails to meet-up at Wal Mart actually paid off for the dedicated souls who actually showed up; and no, I was not one of them, I'm sorry to say.

Tragic Statistics in Iraq

The Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that reports American casualties, lists 2,288 Americans killed in Iraq and 16,653 wounded in action.

For those who like to stay informed about the financial cost of Bush's War, another Web site keeps a running tab on total war expenditure.

The National Priorities Project displays ticking numbers, which change right before a viewer's eyes and reveals total dollars squandered by our federal government.

It took a mere five minutes for a million bucks to be siphoned for blood and oil. Amazing how such a trivial little thing like voting can end up costing so much.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Perfect Name for our Stupid Junior Senator from Virginia

Smiley-Faced Cowboy George has a new name courtesy of a post at AmericaBlog. From now on Howling Latina will also refer to Allen as "George 'Gomer Pyle' Allen." So fittingly because Allen is as dumb as a lobotimized bag of rocks.

Oh and one query from John at Americablog, what does our "Goober" senator think about Dubai Ports Authority and Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem managing our shipyards?

I can't wait to hear his answer in a debate with either Miller or Webb in the fall.

Super Duper Secret Sources

Anonymous Liberal has her/his panties in a wad because Jason Leopold repeatedly reports "explosive claim[s] about the Valerie Plame investigation," which are never reported by "reputable news outlets."

Thus, Leopold has either "the best, most exclusive sources in Washington, or he's just making this stuff up," Anonymous concludes. Or "he's got very bad sources and is just incredibly gullible."

As a person who enjoys reading progressive blogs 24/7, Howling Latina can report bloggers link to newspaper stories, media, press releases, political Web sites, and so on; and when news break, it's usually a behind-the-scene campaign tidbit or a Democratic Party official squabbling and disclosing.

Bloggers can and do break news with painstaking and scrupulous research, such as when they broke the James Duckert/Jeff Gannon fake White House journalist story, or when they wrote about cell phone identity breaches.

Yet too often when there is breaking news, for all intent and purposes, it's not really a hot news flash but simply a reframed mainstream story with perhaps a few added morsels.

In the latest tale, Leopold reports in Truthout, via Anonymous:

The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney's office. Senior aides had sent the emails in the spring of 2003 related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed during a federal court hearing Friday.

The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration's prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said.

Sources close to the probe said the White House "discovered" the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife's undercover status to reporters.

Anonymous seems to think Leopold's breaking news is nothing more than self-promoting hogwash. But an eagle-eyed reader points out that an Associated Press story essentially confirms the underlying accuracy of Leopold's report. Yes, the White House did find 250 pages from the vice president's office.
The defense was told that the White House had recently located and turned over about 250 pages of e-mails from the vice president's office. Fitzgerald, in a letter last month to the defense, had cautioned Libby's lawyers that some e-mails might be missing because the White House's archiving system had failed.
In support of a sneaky suspicion of mine, a walk down memory lane revealed that Leopold often reported stories only a day or so ahead of mainstream media.

In fact, I seem to recall that last fall many times Raw Story broke news on the Libby/Rove/Plame story thread, Daily News would essentially report the same item the very next day or so.

Leopold's stories often would add little details left out by mainstream news; and similar to when Woodward gave Salon a heads-up on the Bush-wired-during-debate scoop, reporters may be feeding Leopold additional information their editors refuse to print.

And folks, that's my story via LexisNexis and google as my super-duper secret sources.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Rubber-Stamp Scott

Par for the course, my delegate in Richmond voted against his district’s interest in lock-step fashion with the Republican Party.

In an editorial this morning, the Washington Post reports that Del. Scott Lingamfelter refused to commit funds to safeguard Metro’s future, citing some lame claim that “Metro is ‘a mess’ and in need of internal reforms.”

Come on Scott, are you advancing the notion that Metro should not be funded until it sets its house in order? That could take a very long time, and in the meantime, how are your voters supposed to get to work?

Harry J. Parrish of Prince William County also voted against the legislation but...at least he indicates he merely wants to make sure the cart goes before the horse. If Northern Virginians approve the referendum, Parrish is willing to support the measure.

Can't blame a guy for remembering recent history when a few of his pals lost their seats in primaries for endorsing a Northern Virginia tax referendum, which voters ultimately rejected at the polls.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sometimes I'm Embarrassed to Live in Virginia

Going through news out of Richmond in February, a bill that would require clergy to report child abuse passed the Senate, but the sad fact is that the House has killed a similar bill in committee for the past two years.

And that's not even the real outrage; a group that should be supporting the measure is on the record against it.

Hampton Roads Television (Channel 3) reported on Feb 5 that the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists opposed the bill; and here is their feeble excuse.
The group has argued that the legislation would essentially make ministers law-enforcement agents of the state and deter abusers from seeking pastoral counseling.
Read it and weep, fellow Christians. Senator Janet Howell, the sponsor in the Senate, indicates that Baptists are the only ones to oppose the measure, with "members of many faiths, including the Jewish, Catholic, Muslim and Methodist communities" supporting it.

You can bet your last-bottom dollar that if Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell wanted the bill to pass, it would fly right through the House.

What a crying shame! Yea, yea, children are our future and all that crapola.

Physicians to lose license in Virginia

After a litany of lame-brain bills in the state legislation, this year's winner is a bill introduced by Del. Ward Armstrong, D-Martinsville and now being considered by the Senate.

This is how the law would work. Unless a person is being treated for a gun-related incident, physicians are not allowed to ask their patients whether they own a gun or not; and if they do, they could lose their license to practice.

The Virginian-Pilot reports today the bill "sailed through the House by a vote of 88 to 11 last week."

The legislation is opposed by The Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics because it blocks a common practice by medical professionals to inquire about gun ownership and safety when they go over a safety checklist with parents during a child's regular checkups from birth to puberty.

"We saw the bill but presumed no one in their right mind would put it through," said Dr. Leslie Ellwood, chapter president. "We thought it was such an unusual bill that
anyone with common sense wouldn't pass it."

This bizarre bill will hopefully die a fitting death in the Senate.

Wal Mart Sees the Handwriting on the Wall

After the state of Maryland passed a law requiring Wal Mart to offer health benefits to workers or pay into a state pool and labor threatened to take their show on the road, Wal Mart signaled today of upcoming changes in their health care program.

The New YorkTimes reports that the giant retailer will be lowering eligibility requirement for part-time workers from two years, although the exact time frame was not released.

In addition, the company will allow part-time employees to enroll their children in the company's health insurance plan. Until now, Wal-Mart covered only the children of full-time workers.

At the same time, Wal-Mart said it would make a new health-care plan introduced in several regions this year, with premiums as low as $11 a month, available to half of its employees by next year.

That plan allows for several prescriptions and doctors visits before a $1,000 deductible kicks in. But it is unlikely to cover a complicated illness or expensive hospital stay during the first year, when there is a $25,000 insurance cap. In In addition, out-of-pocket payments range from $300 for prescriptions to $1,000 for hospital stays.

"Wal-Mart insures less than half of its 1.3 million employees in the United States," with states picking up the medical tab for the remaining workers. A similar bill from the the one passed, vetoed and then ultimately overridden is currently being considered by state legislatures in "a dozen more states."

Looks like the gravy train ride is slowing down. Up to now, Wal Mart unfairly competed with mom-and-pop sellers on Main Street, putting them out of business, not simply because of economies of scale, but because they dodged paying any benefits and then relegated their cost to states.

Kinna hard to compete with conglomorates when they are being subsidized with your tax dollars.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bad Poll Numbers in Virginia

SurveyUSA via WDBJ (News 7) out of Roanoke reports some bad numbers for Gov. Tim Kaine's transportation plan.

It seems Virginians want new highways, all right, they just don't want to pay for them through higher taxes on gasoline or vehicles.

The Senate's plan calls for higher taxes on gasoline, while Kaine's plan calls for a tax rate increase on new car purchases. The House plan calls for tapping into Virginia's surplus and unfortunately, a majority of Virginians, by 54 percent, like their plan the best.

Of the 600 Virginians surveyed, 86 percent said spending more money on highway construction was either "very important" or "somewhat important," with 49% giving it the higher priority. Just 13 percent said spending more money on highways was "not very" or "not at all" important.

When it came to ways to pay for more construction, 65% favored increasing fines for traffic violations and a slight majority, 54 percent, favored taking money from the state's general operating fund. Respondents were strongly against increasing taxes on cars or gasoline. Eighty-four percent were against an increase in the gasoline tax.

According to the poll, Northern Virginians were the largest group that favored more money for transportation. The tricky part, however, is coming up with the funds to pay for it. Home to the finest sports utility gas guzzlers, a majority do not support increasing gasoline or car taxes.

I guess citizens get the government they deserve. Start building those roads, and we'll worry about finances when we're all broke and ruined.

Is Capital Punishment Dead in California?

CNN reports that failure to carry out the death sentence of Michael Morales because "a federal judge...ordered licensed medical personnel to take part in the execution" and they had no takers, could effectively act the same as a legislative moratorium.

The judge who ordered "licensed medical personnel [to] play an active role" runs counter to the American Medical Association who opposes capital punishment on moral grounds and quite naturally, doctors are refusing to cooperate.

The ruling has "shifted the debate subtly to whether licensed medical personnel should play an active role in an execution." And of course, if doctors refuse, the debate could get real interesting. Almost reminds me of the old Soviet Union when soldiers refused to shoot protestors in front of their military tanks.
"This is an issue that is ultimately going to have to be resolved by the Supreme Court," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "Because you're ultimately not likely ever going to have doctors in the execution chamber."
By refusing to participate, the death warrant expired at midnight yesterday. CNN reports that California has 650 death row inmates. Too little, too late, however, for Tookie Williams who was executed last December.

Caramba Conundrum for Sen. George Allen

Virginia Democrats will vote for their favorite candidate on June 13, but in the meantime, will Sen. George Allen remain silent against his possible opponents?

In thinking about the upcoming senate race in Virginia and the latest Democratic entry, former Secretary of the Navy under Reagan James Webb, Allen has a difficult choice to make.

Right now Harris Miller, best pal of former Gov. Mark Warner, and James Webb, former Navy Secretary under Reagan, war hero and best-selling author, are set to face off in the Democratic primary.

With astronomical polls numbers for Warner, any attack on Miller on domestic policy has to be guarded; and any assault on Miller's lack of experience dealing with terrorism could be turned against Allen in the fall by Webb.

In addition, any attack on Webb by Allen instantly raises Webb's profile, and risks elevating his candidacy to the forefront as the most "electable" contender, becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy at the expense of Allen's future prospects.

Although it remains to be seen whether Webb can win as a Democrat, no one argues he would make a most formidable candidate on the issue of national security; and with Miller, Democrats would have the favorable Warner tailwinds at their backs in November.

Should Allen hold his firepower (i.e., his millons of campaign $$$) until after the Democrats nominate their senate candidate, Miller and Webb would have had the freest of hands in traveling the back roads of Virginia and denouncing the junior senator's rubber-stamped bootlicking performance in Congress; and more importantly, each will have their proclamations covered daily by local media.

With Miller as the nominee, expect Warner to come out in full throttle support, placing his future political fortune on the line. And if Webb wins, Georgie's security card will be severely stretched, if not overdrawn.

Jolly, jolly, poor Georgie Allen, should he wait to jump the gate...?!?

Yipee, the Execution is Put-off Indefinitely

Yesterday I wrote about two anesthesiologists in California who refused to play a role in carrying out the death sentence of death row inmate Michael Angelo Morales, a convicted murderer.

Although Morales is one of the most unsympathetic examples to use when arguing against the death penalty, belonging to the "worst of the worst" category, like anything else, the slippery slope of capital punishment, once out of the gate, is hard to put back in the stall for the less deserving cases, as previously posted here, here and here.

I mean, why don't we just execute every convicted murderer, first degree, second degree, third degree, fourth degree, ad nauseam, making no exception? After all, whether or not a person faces the ultimate punishment is up to prosecutors by way of charges filed in jurisdicional roulette. What warrants the death penalty in one county, but 30 miles away in another county a possible life-saving 48 years?

Shot your wife in anger? Death. Got into a fight at work and killed your co-worker? Death. Hired somone to kill your father? Death, no if and or buts.

Fortunately, the country appears ready to have a dialogue on the subject of capital punishment; and with the Alito and Roberts addition to the Supreme Court, both devout Catholics, the pendulum could well swing to less use except in the truly "worst of the worst" cases, or even final banishment.

The New York Times reports this morning that the execution has been put off indefinitely because"[s]tate officials could not find other medical professionals to administer the lethal dose Tuesday night under the conditions of the judge's new order."

Capital punishment opponents have lobbied the medical profession to refuse to participate in executions, imploring them to uphold their Hippocratic oath, to "first do no harm"

John Grele, one of Mr. Morales's lawyers, is quoted as saying, "They couldn't find anyone to inject the chemicals to kill him." Former Whitewater independent counselor, Ken Starr, is also one of the attorneys who helped prepare the clemency plea for Morales, although the defense team suffered a major setback when Starr had to withdraw false affidavits from jurors. Heretofore, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "has twice rejected clemency appeals, most recently on Monday.

Starr, the former Whitewater pit bull who of late has been busy defending death row inmates, successfully petitioned previous Virginia Gov. Mark Warner a few months ago to grant clemency to Robin Lovitt. Never in a million years could I have imagined Starr as a blazing advocate for death row inmates. But after the latest Starr victory, abolitionists are glad to have him on our side.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

California Can't Find Someone to Pull the Plug

CNN reports that anesthesiologists refused to play a role in executing California convicted murderer, Michael Angelo Morales.

Citing ethical concerns, two doctors refused to participate in the lethal injection. One of the drugs used in the deadly cocktail contains Pavulon, which is banned from use in animals "because it's supposedly painful."
[D]efense lawyers are saying, "Look, if you can't use it against animals, you can't use it against a human being."
Earlier, a District court judge ruled the state could go forward, but issued an order that "an anesthesiologist [had] to be there to make sure there's no prolonged suffering."

The good doctors object because if the guy is suffering, they would have to step in, revive the poor sap, and then whack him with another dose.
[T]he anesthesiologists said, "You know, we will participate, just monitoring his death, but we are not going to revive someone. We are not going to be part of a medical procedure that's a violation of the Hippocratic oath."
The state is now planning to execute Morales just using one drug. But as CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, "[Y]ou know, it's [alot] harder than you think to execute somebody."

In recent weeks, the Supreme Court has stayed executions on the basis of its methodology. "[I]f this entire method is struck down, it could be years" before anyone is executed in the United States.

Hopefully by then, the public thirst for vengeance and blood will have waned.

Iraq Tells the US to Take Their Demands to Where the Sun Don't Shine

After at least 2,277 American casualties and more than $200 billion wasted, today's Washington Post reports the United States has sent a strong warning to Iraq that they are "not...willing to support crucial public institutions plagued by narrow-minded sectarian agendas."

With the '06 elections around the corner and very little progress, the administration is getting desperate, as well they should.

The United States is investing billions of dollars" in Iraq's police and army, said the ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. "We are not going to invest the resources of the American people to build forces run by people who are sectarian."

In other words, stop your squabbling, form a coalition government, quick, or no more money from your expatriate Uncle Sam.

The warning came at the heels of rumors that " Shiite death squads" are roaming Iraq in police uniforms and "killing hundreds of Sunni men."

As one can imagine, the US is not pleased; if anyone is going to do any killing and torturing, it's gonna be the American military.

And what do Shiites have to say in response?

MSNBC reports the Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari told a British envoy that Iraqi does not want a sectarian government, but "not because the U.S. ambassador says so or issues a warning.”
“We do not need anybody to remind us, thank you.”“We do not need anybody to remind us, thank you.”
Tsk, prickly, prickly.

Every day bombs go off, wounding and killing; and only this Tuesday, the "governor of Iraq’s Karbala province, Aqil al-Khazali...suspended all cooperation with U.S. forces because U.S. security staff last week used police dogs to search government buildings."

Ever since Abu Ghraib, Muslims are a little sensitive and don't much care for pooches.

Pat Robertson Disinvited by Fundies

Oh my, the Washington Post is reporting that Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach and all-around idiot, was set to speak at the closing ceremony of the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Dallas but at the last minute, had the rug pulled out from under him.

With him shooting his mouth off and calling for someone to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and a couple months later blaming Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke on "divine retribution," the good Christian folks "were worried that his appearance would detract from the event," and graciously dumped him.
"He is in a very visible leadership position, and comments such as recent ones related to Mr. Sharon and so many others are misinformed and presumptuous and border on arrogance," said David S. Dockery, president of Union University, a private college affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. "It puts the evangelical movement in a bad light."
Although I agree that comments by Robertson are extreme and over the top, evangelicals have a greater problem than some washed-up televangelist spouting venom and nonsense. Such as obeying the greatest commandment of all: to love God above others, and to love your neighbor as yourself -- not just by words but deeds as well.

Taking care of the least of us is the greatest commandment on earth, and something like tax cuts for the wealthy isn't exactly what the Bible calls for. Thus, it is heartening to witness a person who so much was given ultimately reap what he has sown, in accordance to his Pharisee-like existence:
7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature[a]will reap destruction. (Galatians 6:7)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oh no, Say It Ain't So...

If you thought it was too early for former Gov. Mark Warner to take sides in the upcoming primary race for the Democratic senate seat, you'd probably be wrong.

Michael Shear of the Richmond Report has some disconcerting news for James Webb fans, like myself.

According to an invitation that went out this week, Capital One founder and former president Nigel Morris is hosting a fundraiser for Democratic candidate Harris Miller at Morris's house on March 7, and the special guest is none other than the former governor himself.

According to the invitation, "Friends" who want some intimate time with the ex-governor can contribute $500, "Sponsors" may give $1,000, "Benefactors" may offer "$2,100" and "Co-Hosts" can provide Miller's campaign with"$4,200.

Report notes that a Warner spokesperson assured him Warner had not formally endorsed anyone. Miller and Warner are just old pals and the fundraiser was already organized well before Webb jumped in the race.

Ominously noted, however, "No word on when a Webb fundraiser featuring Warner is scheduled," if at all.

I learned of the fundraiser trolling links at Bacons Rebellion via Blue in Virginia. Thanks Blue for directing me to Bacon. Virginia bloggers are just a treasure-trove of information.

Surveillance Camera in your Home...

Straight out of a George Orwell nightmare, it's not enough that Americans are being spied upon by their government, now some police misfit wants to install police "surveillance cameras in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes to fight crime during a shortage of police officers," according to the Houston Chronicle via Latino Pundit.

Yes, boys and girls, no longer is your castle your home; it's for your safety, of course.

So give a warm welcome to Big Brother and smile for the cameras above your bathroom door. And whatever you do, don't be naughty or you'll be have to answer to the great surveillance gods of the post-9/11 order.

"I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?" Chief Harold Hurtt told reporters Wednesday at a regular briefing.
Heavens to Murgatroid, do we not see the danger of chucking civil liberties for the Big Lie?!? The Big Lie told to dupe the masses into accepting "temporary evil" to thwart an ever bigger evil, which only encourages more curbing of freedom with more "temporary evil," until we have no liberty at all?

First public surveillance, then a peek inside your purse, next your shoes, then your book reading and video habits, then a tap on your phone, followed by a search of your Internet use, now your home, what's next? Is there anything sacred anymore?

Scott Henson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Police Accountability Project in Texas, called Hurtt's building-permit proposal "radical and extreme."


For the head of a major city police department to even consider such a scorch-the-earth proposal is truly terrifying.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Boycott Washington Post Ombudsman Howell

Nearly forgot to post on the latest column by controversial ombudsman, Deborah Howell.

While reading the Sunday paper in my cozy living room, I came across a column by Howell in the Washington Post. The focus of her latest outrage is the professed unseemly and unprofessional attire worn by former Washington Post White House correspondent Dana Milbank on the hit cable show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Milbank wore an orange hat with an orange striped vest, similar to those worn by hunters, in keeping with the insane story of a vice president shooting a man while quail hunting and not telling anyone for nearly a day.

And with faux anger, "hundreds of e-mails, prompted by conservative blogs" wrote the Post ombudsman and condemned Milbank's attempt to make light of a situation that could have gone horribly wrong.

Of course, the Post immediately took Milbank to the "woodshed" for leave-taking his senses and poking fun at our dear vice president, even though as Firedoglake points out, Jeb Bush and Scott McClellan had essential done the same thing earlier.

"Liz Spayd, assistant managing editor for national news" and presumably Milbank's supervisor is quoted as saying: ""What he intended as a playful joke was viewed by many as mocking and unprofessional, and understandably so."

Hmm...really? So it's okay for Little Brother and McClellan to make light of a situation, but beyond the pale for Milbank?!?

Personally, I think the only people upset were a bunch of right-wing wackos who love to feel victimized even though they dominate all three branches of government; but because they don't control 100 percent of the media, or at least 100 percent of all journalists; and god forbid, they be shown for the inept, tragic morons that they are, they gotta raise a ruckus.

So they bitch and bawl and cry like big fat babies, feign indignation, and huff and puff until some media drone caves in and hollers, uncle!

By inserting herself in the middle of an obvious right-wing campaign to create a maelstrom (maybe equal to the buzz when progressives rightly complained about factual errors in an earlier Howell column by the thousands ), she has now encouraged the phony low spirits to raise a stink anytime a story isn't framed exactly to their liking.

Yes, by giving air to their baseless charges, to borrow a sentiment and words from Howell's column, she "cross[ed] the line," especially when she started opining about Milbank's stories and whether or not she liked them. I say to the dear lady, who gives a rat's butt what you like?

I am getting so sick and tired of writing about Howell that I think from now on, I'll just simply ignore her; and strongly urge my brethren to do likewise.

Don't send her any e-mails. Don't write any comments on her Post blog; and let the blog whittle to a pantheon of only right-wing ranting and talking points, eventually dying out, as is only just.

One final note: I sure hope some reporter finds out whether or not Milbank was indeed taken to the proverbial woodshed, as Howell writes, 'cause I'm not so sure that's an accurate characterization. Dollars to a donut it's just more puffery and b/s from a most misleading ombudsman.

Not So Fast Forked-Tongue Cowboy...

Looks like the march to Middle East democracy has been dealt a lethal blow. I guess Bush figured the Chinese and Russians were as dumb as the folks in America who voted for the faux cowboy, which only goes to prove how stupid he is.

No media blitz, swiftboating, Rove machinations or dirty tricks are gonna get in the way of China's path to economic superpower; and they've got the firepower to make sure of that.

The Washington Post reports that China, in a race for time, completed a $100 billion oil deal with Iran, "ahead of the possible imposition of international sanctions against Iran." The agreement "would allow a Chinese state-owned energy firm to take a leading role in developing a vast oil field in Iran, complicating the Bush administration's efforts to isolate the Middle Eastern nation and roll back its nuclear development plans."

You reckon...?

Now that Bushie has his dirty hands on Iraqi oil under the guise of his "freedom on the march" meme, other military world leaders aren't about to let the US grab all the oil in the Middle East and hog the show.

How disastrous is our militarism that now we have Iraq siding with Iran, and with China in the picture, there ain't a damn thing the US can do about it.

Forget the fact that our troops are stretched beyond the breaking point. Hell, if Bush thought he could grab Iran, he'd kick off the draft again.

Remember, we're addicted to oil. Gotta have it...gotta have it. But the bottom line, no way, no how is China gonna sit back and meekly let us take control of all the oil fields in the world.

New Poll Numbers for Bush in Virginia and Other States

SurveyUSA released a round of poll numbers for Bush and his numbers in Virginian are pathetic, with an approval rate of only measly 45 percent, equal to Arizona and West Virginia.

No doubt the latest mine accidents hurt his poll numbers in West Virginia.

Leading the states with the highest approval rate is Utah at 58 percent. The president's approval rate in his own home states is only 49 percent; and in checking in on Texas blogs, folks in Texas are excited about their chances of winning the governor's race in November. Taking Tom DeLay's seat and winning the governor seat would be the best early Christmas present, for sure.

Just for fun, I also checked with Wyoming, home state to our vice president. Wyoming approves of Bush by a rate of 54 percent.

Bush is the least popular in Rhode Island at 25 percent. Guess Sen. Lincoln Chafee better starting packing his gear for the move back home in January.

Ohio, a key swing state with an upcoming election, clocks in at 37 percent; and all I have to say is that Sherod Brown better win the senate seat, or I will never, ever, ever forgive the DSCC.

Finally, poll numbers for Bush are 50 percent or better in only seven states. Utah, Idaho, Alabama, Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Montana.

Now if we don't pick up some big time seats in both the House and Senate, I will go to my grave swearing the election was rigged with diabolical Diebold voting machines.

Virginia Bloggers Head Nine of the Top 15 Stories

Here's the breakdown as of midnight tonight. Drum roll, please.

1. California - Down with Tyranny - Fri 10:02 p.m. - actin' blue for ned lamont-- the man who could rid us of the pernicious joe lieberman.

2. Virginia - The Richmond Democrat - 9:38 a.m. - Democratic Senate Campaign Roundup: Week One.

3. Ohio - Buckeye Senate Blog - 9:14 a.m. - It's Hard To Screw This Up.

4. Virginia - Virginia Centrist - 3:21 p.m. - Tom Davis and moving to the Left.

5. Virginia - Draft James Webb - 1:39 p.m. - JJ Dinner review

6. California - Down With Tyranny - 12:09 a.m. - sentencing comin' up for first convicted republicrook of 2006.

7. Virginia - Raising Kaine - 4:46 a.m. - Harris Miller on WTOP

8. Virginia - Draft James Webb - 9:09 a.m. - Webb and the blogosphere

9. Virginia - Not Larry Sabato - 11:45 a.m. - Harris Miller is Jewish- Updated

10. Virginia - The Richmond Democrat - 5:13 p.m. - I have George Allen's Motivational Posters

11. California - Down With Tyranny - 10:17 a.m. - mrs henderson presents: george w. bush as adolf hitler

12. Virginia - Howling Latina - 4:02 p.m. - Yipee, I'm going to the Moon AliceSpace Adventur...

13. Massachusetts - Left In Lowell - 8:43 a.m.- Get Out, Get Involved, Or Stop Bitching

14. Virginia - Fairfax County Democratic Committee - 10:37 p.m - Another fine Virginia Democratic Blogger

15. Massachusetts - Marry in Massachusetts - 8:03 a.m - Not All Dems Dumb

Nice job, everyone!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Yipee, I'm going to the Moon Alice

Space Adventures, the Arlington, Virginia company that wants to arrange your future space travel, signed a deal with the United Arab Emirates to build a spaceport, ALA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in the Middle East.

Their Web site promises "space-related adventure travel and tourism: from space camps and astronaut training to actual flights into space," and good to their word, the company has already sent three tourists into space.

The Jersey Journal reports investors plan to pony-up around "$265 million to build the facility about an hour's drive from Dubai in Ras Al-Khaimah, [using] a combination aircraft and rocket system" that carries up to five people to space for a kooool $20 million a person, minimum.

This is what the company charged Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth and Greg Olsen who've gone on company voyages to the new frontier in 2001, 2002 and 2005, respectively.

The rockets will be built through a joint venture with "Russian Space Agency Roskosmos and the Venture Capital firm Prodea," a privately-held firm in Dallas County. Republican Rep. Peter Sessions represents the district.

Now why is any of his newsworthy? Howling Latina likes to save the best for last.

The New Mexican, via the Associated Press, reports Little Brother (i.e. Jeb) wants the Florida legislature "to spend $55 million, including a $3 million sales tax break, to attract new federal and private space ventures to Florida," meaning to subsidize the highly speculative air travel business.

In thinking about the news, I can now clearly see where Big Brother was headed in his SOTU address in 2004. Remember all that crazy talk about trips to Mars and a moon settlement, and how we all howled and laughed and thought Bush had lost his mind? Well, these things don't emerge out of nowhere, someone must've put a bug in the president's ear about a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in space.

As someone who can barely cope with a plane ride without a triple Martini, I think I'll pass. But for anyone who wants to realize the promise of Bubble Gum Bazooka and fly in space while still here on earth, sort've speak, if you've got the $$$, Space Adventures has got a rocket seat for you; and in the meantime, taxpayers shut up, as the government squanders more of your money.

Another Lame Brain Idea by White House Hoisted by Bluster

The New York Times via Reuters reports Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recently declared Pres. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela must be confronted by the international community (i.e. lovers of freedom) and exposed as a tyrant.

Of course, Chavez has been inconveniently elected by the people twice, lest we forget the Bush administration endorsed the illegitimate coup against him only a few years ago.

The latest not-so-brilliant plan by Rice is to "inoculate" the administration from Venezuelan high jinks by beseeching the world to speak out with one voice against the agent provocateur and his un-democratic government.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the United States continues to trade with Venezuela to the tune of 55.6 percent of that country's total exports and 28.8 percent of total imports, according to the latest statistics by the CIA.

Apparently Rice has been calling and asking countries that have friendly relations with Venezuela to stop being so chummy.
"She's calling foreign ministers, she's called Spain, she has called Brazil, good friends of ours, and Austria, to warn them about Venezuela, to form a block against Venezuela,'' Chavez told reporters outside Miraflores Presidential Palace.
As one can imagine, Chavez is not a happy trading partner; and with this latest verbal strike, he has decided to do some striking on his own. ABC, once again via Reuters, quotes Chavez warning the US to back off.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned on Friday that the United States would get no more Venezuelan oil if Washington "crossed the line" as relations between the two governments deteriorated in an escalating war of words.


The U.S. government should know that if they cross the line they will not have any Venezuelan oil," Chavez said at a public event. "I have started taking measures in that respect. I'm not going to say what," he said.

Prensa Latina, a Latin American news agency also offers proof positive that Venezuela is equal to the task of framing an issue as anything conceived by Karl Rove.

Venezuelan National Assembly President Nicolas Maduro exposed a US plot to generate chaos in his country by manipulating the transportation sector.

Maduro said no foreign news agency has referred to the matter, and added the issue to the list of deceptions orchestrated by the Bush Administration.

He wondered aloud if the US is paying to organize a strike, as they did a few years back in Chile. The leader hinted they may be hiring assassins to kill drivers and worsen the conflict.

The murder of a driver by organized crime led to a partial strike and a meeting in Congress with 1,500 drivers.


Transportation leaders from opposition Accion Democratica Party, facing a poor turn-out, urged for an alliance with the US, a gesture considered an attempt to provoke chaos.

Rice is "urg[ing] labor movements to back striking [trucking] workers" and has condemned Chavez for bringing to justice the people who tried to overthrow him; they have been charged with treason.

But according to Venezuelan authority, there is no strike; and Rice's statements are simply a call to chaos.
"Venezuela’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Relations with North America, Mary Pili Hernandez, responded to Rice’s comments today, denying that there currently is a truckers' strike in Venezuela," reported Venezuelananalysis.com, a news Web site dedicated to news, views and analysis from a Venezuelan perspective.
I suppose one country's "inoculation" could be another country's incitement to "chaos." It just depends on who is doing the talking. But one can certainly understand why Chavez might want to charge the good folks who tried to overthrow him with treason, no...?

On their Web site, Truthout has a series of links with articles about Venezuela.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Church Harassed in Virginia

After fighting the rezoning petition of Holy Temple Ministries of Chesapeake, a mostly African-American church, some neighbors started complaining church services were too loud.

The Virginian Pilot reports police officers regularly disrupt Bible study and worship services, "sometimes threatening," although "Capt. Doug Draper of the Chesapeake Police Department...dispute[s] the claim that officers [are] at every service" as church leaders claim.

Howling Latina talked with Trena Brinkley of Holy Temple and learned neighbor complaints began about six months after the church opened.

"We changed the sound level," she told me. "We don't know what else we can do." The Pilot notes the church is currently "working on sound proofing the building."

It seems to me when the city issued the zoning change after hearing neighborhood concerns, short of a ruckus, the matter should be closed. Unfortunately, each time an officer receives a complaint about "loud noise," whether valid or not, they have to respond.

This past Sunday, The Pilot reports, officers "gave a summons to the chairman of the church deacons" to answer charges in Court.

In the meantime, Chesapeake taxpayers foot the bill for this neighborhood spat that appears to be growing in measure and volume, and yes, please pardon the pun.

“I can’t tell you why they feel they’re being harassed,” The Pilot quotes Draper as saying. “I have to represent the church’s interest and the victim’s interest with the same passion.”

However, Brinkley called attention to HL that Oscar Smith High School is only a few blocks away and according to her, they make a lot more noise than the church but no one calls the cops.

"You can hear the band during games," Brinkley points out. "Music is a part of" church service...maybe people complaining don't have any idea about church."

Holy Temple Ministries is on Great Bridge Boulevard and opened for worship services one year and two months ago. It is in the fifth precinct in the city of Cheseapeake.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

George Allen Looks Beyond Senate Race

Our not-so-brilliant senator from Virginia must be the next dumbest person after former Pentagon undersecretary for policy Doug Feith.

The Denver Post reports Cowboy George, as Lowell of Raising Kaine likes to call him, is dropping in to pay folks in Denver a visit when he should be knocking on every door in Virginia instead.

Republican U.S. Sen. George Allen of Virginia will speak Tuesday at the Jefferson County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner and attend a fundraiser for his 2006 re-election campaign, said Dick Wadhams, his chief of staff.
Yea, and pigs fly south for winter.

Obviously the Post ain't fooled by this lame horse opera. "[P]otential presidential candidat[e] will be in Colorado next week, indicating the importance of the state in the two upcoming election cycles..."

Folks, Virginia will have a straight-forward choice in November. Elect the guy who cares about Virginia, or elect the guy who looks at state politics as a way to higher glory. Allen has only served one term, for crying out loud.

And don't even think about bringing up former-Sen. Mark Warner. He was term-limited and is now free to pursue opportunities in service to his country; and hopefully, we'll be seeing him again in '08.

Sen. Allen Gives a Pass To Cheney

Soon-to-be ex-Sen. George Allen of Virginia told Fox News this evening that whether or not Cheney notified the press and president immediately after he shot his friend, er, acquaintance, is really no one's business but his own.

NewsMax.com from the dark side has this quote from Allen:
"Everyone can second guess all they want but, ultimately, it’s a private matter by a public person and I think the American people have a right to know what had happened,” Sen. Allen said. "They [Cheney and the Bush Administration] just wanted to get the facts straight.
Well yes, let's get the facts. Like disclosing the blood alcohol level of poor Harry Whittington, in the interest of getting out the truth, of course.

Like Digby of Hullabaloo points out, this guy Cheney has a record of reckless drinking with two DWI's and a license suspension. And like Digby, I think the boys at the ranch were tying a good one, as good old boys are wont to do.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

After all these Years, Isn't it Ironic...?

If I had a nickel for every time some Republican wingnut brings up Kennedy and Chappaquiddick, an event that took place nearly 37 years ago, I'd be as rich as Midas.

As a born-again left/center blue-dog Democrat who also happens to believe in the reverent law of karma, I find it poetic justice that Cheney's shooting fracas took place in Kenedy County. Okay, it's not the exact spelling but close enough to make the point.

Rumors of possible drinking; lapsed time; somebody injured...Fodder for insinuations and innuendoes for the next 50 years, no?

Very likely, the poor guys at the Texas sherriff's department really want to help Big Time; but lawmen are a breed of their own and take their solemn office oath quite seriously -- especially the foot soldiers.

It seems the vice president is not the only closed-mouthed person. Times reports:
The local sheriff’s office in Kennedy County was saying as little as possible. “We have no information to release,” Sandra Guzman, the sheriff’s assistant, said. When did they know about the incident — and what did they know? “I can’t say, an investigation is going on,” Ms Guzman said. Are you investigating to see if a crime was committed? “I’m not sure,” she replied and then hung up.
Yes, it's best not to say anything; just let a thorough and honest investigation do the talking. Maybe I'm naive, but I just can't see local lawmen covering up for Cheney. It ain't like he's from Texas, ye know...

It's Official, the Shooting was Cheney's Fault

Anytime I want the scoop on the poop in Texas, it's usually a good idea to check the Houston Chronicle; and my faith in them was rewarded this evening with the latest thread in the "Cheney shoots friend" fall out.

Forget what Mary Matalin, Katharine Armstrong, Anne Kornblut and Ralph Blumenthal of the NYT, former Sen. Alan Simpson, Sen. Norm Coleman "and even Paul Begala," as Firedoglake earlier suspected, they were all wrong. The verdict is in and Cheney is guilty -- guilty as hell.

Read it and weep, Republicans, for no amount of spinning will trump the truth. The Houston Chronicle reports "the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said it will classify the Saturday shooting as an error in judgment by Cheney" as per the department's education director. Heretofore, members of the hunting party insisted it was Whittington's fault "for not announcing his location to...others."

Of course, people have been suspicious from the start that facts as presented did not add up. I mean, for shame, this administration wouldn't know how to be honest with the American people for all the money and gold in the world. Er, maybe money and gold, but nothing else. Their first instinct is to lie and then cover up their lie.

Unconvinced? Well, here is a poignant walk down memory lane with a recap of White House KNOWN lies during the last five years.
"No one could have predicted terrorist would use airplanes as missiles." Yes they could have. "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction." No they didn't. "Iraqis were trying to buy uranium to build a nuclear bomb." No they weren't. "Valerie Plame sent her hubby to Niger." No she didn't. "Well, Valerie Plame wasn't a real covert agent." Yes she was. "John Kerry can't keep you safe but I can." No you can't, as evidenced by Katrina. "We had no idea the levees would break." Yes you did. " We don't do torture." Yes you do. "We don't spy on our own citizens." Yes you do. "The president was notified on Saturday about the shooting incident." Hmm...I rather doubt it; and even so, why was Karl Rove notified before the president?
And saving the worst for last, here's the grand-daddy of them all; the one that got the ball rolling. You'll need your faculties and strength, so please sit down.

"I'm a united, not a divider." [Evil laugh]

Had enough with the lies of this administration? I know I have. Together, let's work to elect a Democratic Congress in the fall. This monster must be stopped.

Why Vice President Cheney Won't Speak...

Senior White House officials (i.e. Karl Rove) want Vice President Cheney to explain to the American public what happened, especially after a 78-year old lawyer he shot went into cardiac arrest.

I mean, we're not talking about a secret energy meeting no one cares about, although they should since national energy policy and planning for Iraqi War likely took place right in the White House during the cozy early winter days of the Bush administration. We're talking about the vice president of the United States shooting a man, for crying out loud!

The Washington Post reports:

Some current and former White House officials said Cheney's refusal to address the issue or accept any blame has the potential to become a political problem for Bush because it reinforces the image of a secretive and above-the-law White House. Top White House aides are pressuring Cheney to discuss the incident as early as today, according to people familiar with the matter.
Speak up, Mr. Vice President, your silence is deafening.

But what if Cheney is afraid poor old Harry won't make it; and people at the ranch then get the notion to start blabbing and in talking to this media guy and that one, the story changes; and in changing, facts start to directly contradict the concocted b/s the VP told the nation?

Ay, Dios Mio! You do recall Clinton's oft-heard affirmation, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," right...? Well, think of the children, or at least the offsprings of corporate moguls at the trough. Who will provide for their multimillion tax breaks if something should happen to Darth-Cheney?

Here's what I think happened. Some folks at the ranch were drinking; maybe the vice president was one of them -- maybe not. In any event, the folks at the ranch didn't want any cops snooping around and seeing all those empty beer cans and wine bottles. They panicked, what to do? Oh, what to do?

And so like every blunder by this administration, the White House did what they have perfected into an art form: Nothing.

This may be just a tiny cover-up, but there's way too many folks who know too much; and they're civilians, which means Cheney has to depend on their kindness to keep their fat trap shut.

If anything happens to that poor millionaire, Cheney is in very big trouble.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It's Official, Bush & Company are the Laughing Stock of the Nation...

Much like previous presidents, such as Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, the White House has reached the tipping point of derision. Everyone loves a hearty laugh; and the sad saps are now the butt of jokes and merrymaking.

Remember how funny John Kerry looked windsailing, and all the yuks, chuckles and snortles? How about the Howard scream? What a hoot, no? Well now it's the White House's turn to provide entertainment.

And as anyone who has ever been teased knows, there's a world of difference between folks who laugh with you or at you. It has taken a long time to reach the tipping point, but after month after month of gaffes and missteps and consistent poll numbers in the low 40s, you had to wonder when the day of reckoning would finally arrive.

Psss...guess what Rove? No amount of growling or threats is going to keep us from having a good laugh at your expense. Everything you do from now on will be seen through the lens of an administration that can't shoot straight -- metaphysically and physically.

With the latest news of Cheney shooting and nearly killing his hunting buddy, the imagery makes for great late-night comedy fodder. Pack it up guys, your administration has been shot down. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, get it, shot down?

After five long and painful years of watching the most inept, irresponsible, mule-headed, disruptive, inane, dishonest, arrogant and stupid administration in my life time, the day of Moira has at long last arrived. To every man his due.

Short of a favorable political tsunami to help Republicans, they will lose both the House and the Senate in 2006; and with their karma, I wouldn't bet on the gods to bail them out anytime soon.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cheney was Breaking the Law...

The Houston Chronicle reports that Vice President Cheney and his hunting partner, Harry Whittington, were breaking the law when they went hunting.

The Chronicle reports that a new law in 2004 requires "hunters to get [a] special $7 stamp to hunt quail." Their license did not have the appropriate stamp.

Watching "Hardball" on MSNBC, Chris Matthews indicated the vice president failed to tell Bush of the incident until Monday. However, the New York Times writes today the president was notified Saturday evening; and during a White House brief meeting, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the White House was notified at 7:30 p.m. The shooting took place at 6:30 p.m., Eastern time and Rove notified the president around 8:00 p.m.

Of course, Rove ain't exactly the vice president, so maybe both reports are right. But with the current band of liars in the White House, who the hell can be sure of anything...?

Bloggers and media also helpfully report that the Secret Service would not allow Cheney to talk to state troopers and it took nearly 22 hours before the White House confirmed the story to reporters.

This bird shooting story just gets weirder and weirder!

Look out George Allen, you're about to be Slayed...

Without appropriating too much from a recent post by DailyKos, suffice it to say our junior senator will likely see his promising senate career end this coming November.

Kos kindly directs his readers to a National Review Online article that thoroughly details the strengths of Webb, such as his stellar resume and compelling life story.

It seems the Iraqi War, the sword of good omen that slayed Democrats into a thousands little scraps in 2002 and 2004, makes its third appearance in 2006 with different results.

In talking about Webb's switch to the Democratic Party, National Review writes:

Why does a man who served in the Reagan administration now embrace the very party that, since Vietnam, has denigrated the martial virtues he epitomizes? Part of it is his opposition to the war in Iraq. Webb is no knee-jerk Bush hater, and his opposition to the Iraq war is based on strategic considerations — he is concerned that by committing such a large force there for an extended period of time we have weakened ourselves in the long run against a rising China.

More to the point, though, is his growing anger at the Bush administration for what he sees as a McNamara-like disregard for military advice, and even worse, a tendency on the part of too many Republicans and conservatives who did not serve in the military to attack the service of veterans like Jack Murtha who oppose the war.

Oh, oh. George better hire additional knights for his crusade, and quickly. Ed Gillespie ain't gonna be enough to fight off the onslaught of Democratic blades afoot in Virginia and the rest of the country.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Psss...got any blow...?

Next time you fly to visit Aunt Martha, take a look around. Although you probably won't have to worry about a terrorist sitting next to you, you know, with all the helpful air marshals jetting about, you might want to still be on the look out.

And if you notice a couple of men in dark suits with clenched fists on a mysterious-looking bag, notify the DEA immediately. Consider it your civic duty, especially after the Houston Chronicle reports two air marshals have been doing a little more than looking out for our safety during their traveling time.

Yes, two federal air marshals were arrested last week and now face charges of trafficking cocaine. Time Magazine, who originally broke the story, writes that one of the marshals "is a former agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration."

Oops, forget DEA, better call Homeland Security.

Sources also told Time the marshals are likely to be arraigned "next week, and will almost certainly be suspended." No more friendly skies, guys.

Feel any safer? I didn't think so.

Trigger Happy Republicans...Jack Reid and Cheney

Like Del. Jack Reid of Henrico who accidently shot his rifle in his office in Richmond, seems Republicans just can't keep their guns from going off.

Just received a breaking news alert from MSNBC and CNN that Vice President Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a hunting trip.

Ay, caramba! For the vice president's sake, I sure hope the guy he shot wasn't a leftie, terrorist loving, anti-NRA, Michael Moore loving Democrat. Folks might think he did it on purpose.

Not to worry, it was just fellow millionaire and hunter, Harry Whittington, 78, who is reported to be "alert and doing fine." Interestingly, the accident was not reported for 24 hours, according to the New York Times.

Maybe a little too much revelry...?

The latest incident involving Darth-Cheney gives a whole new meaning to an earlier lede by conservative Newsmax.com, "Dick Cheney Fires Up Crowd." Any more firing, and we'll all be dead.

By the bye, Mr. Vice-President, before you come back to Washington and bestow your avuncular mien upon your subjects, one small query. Are your insurance premiums all paid up? The media reports Whittington is a lawyer; and you know those despicable barristers, suing everyone all the time.

Standing in Court...

As I watched the Sunday news shows, with a special ear to what Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas said, one consistent idea seemed to emerge.

Unless the Courts rule that FISA is constitutional and the president must obey the rule of law, all the gnashing of teeth notwithstanding, Bush will ignore the law.

As several panel members pointed out, even if Sen Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania introduces a bill to ask FISA judges to rule on warrantless eavesdropping, and both the Senate and House pass the bill, the president will likely veto it, and that will be that.

Moreover, regular Americans cannot ask the Courts for relief; it's a secret program and no one knows if they've been a target of spying, so how can one claim to have been harmed? In other words, no one has legal standing before the Courts.

Yes, we're all going to hell in a handbasket, it seems; no judicial remedy for resolving this constitutional outrage.

But..., "No tan rápido, señor!"

What if someone from Congress, oh, like Rep. John Conyers of Ohio from the Judiciary Committee, filed a motion in court...?

As a member of the body constitutionally authorized to not only legislate, but oversee and ensure laws are followed, would not Conyers have standing before the Courts...?


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Mutiny on the Republican Bounty…

The jig is up, the roosters have come home to roost, and it’s time to pay the piper his overdue bill; in other words, the White House is in deep "caca."

The New York Times reports GOP legislators are leaving the Bush sinking ship by droves. Contrary to Cheney and poor demented Rove, congressional leaders have grown increasingly tired of White House bullying during the last five years, and with the president’s latest approval hovering at 40 percent, they are proclaiming, no mas, for favor!

The Post writes that Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter plans to introduce legislation “to put the issue in the hands of the intelligence surveillance court [and] have judges rule on the constitutionality of the program.”

Previous stories about administration threats to withhold campaign funds for anyone who votes for “legislation” that had yet to be mentioned now make perfect sense. Specter must have been whispering about the capitol that he was not a happy shipmate and Rove was trying to keep Congress as scared as the rest of Americans to keep them from jumping ship.

In doing a little research about FISA, I recently came across a gem of an article that neatly tied FISA, Specter and Libby’s big-shot money bag lady, Barbara Comstock. Unfortunately, the March 3, 2003 article by the Post-Gazette is not available online. But as far back as three years ago, Specter, Leahy and Grassley had huge misgivings about FISA and the Justice Department’s ability to correctly interpret the law, corroborating on a 58-page report.

Ms. Comstock, who at the time was a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, summarily dismissed the senators’ report. Concern about FISA was “old news,” she scolded. Why “well-received reforms had already been put in place to ensure that FISA procedures [were] handled properly.”

And she was such a successful spokesperson and “political operative,” as Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake calls her, that she has now been entrusted with ensuring yet another procedure is handled properly. That is, Aspen-Libby’s defense fund must have enough cash to keep him afloat until the end of Bush’s term and a presidential pardon.

The old Post-Gazette story reports that in a late winter prescient moment, the “trio of senators introduced legislation…that would give Congress more oversight of federal law enforcement surveillance powers.” But alas, the Patriot Act eventually trumped every other piece of legislation and nothing became of it.

With the gathering storm from congressional Republican outcry, the administration has to be running out of loyal foot soldiers. I mean, who can they trust to carry their message of fear and more fear? People are getting tired of seeing and hearing Victoria Toensing, her hubby, diGenova, and Ken Mehlman, please.

Even Orrin Hatch of Utah chimed in and said "Congress had to have more oversight." Not too many senators seem to be eager to defend the White House now that the ship is on fire. Stay tuned, though. See-No-Evil Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, chairman of the Intelligence Committee will be on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Ay caramba, no idea how an old post appeared at the top...

To my dismay and without me doing ANYTHING, leftyblogs has re-posted something written a week ago.

Sorry folks, it's old news, I know.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hey buddy, can you spare $25 million or so...?

As I watched my daily dose of punditry on cable news, the topic of Abramoff and pictures and e-mails came up; and as best as I can recall, Abramoff offered pictures of the president and himself for millions of dollars, the media refused, and instead we had to settle for stories about them, without the visual and embarrassing proof.

Well, here's an idea hopefully folks of the George Stavrakis, MoveOn.Org variety will like.

How about fronting Mr. Abramoff the millions he wants with the legal proviso he not release the pictures to anyone else? And then right before elections, oh like the Saturday evening before, pictures crop up on AOL, Yahoo News and folks with the balls to show them.

Screw the New York Times, major networks, cable news and the Washington Post! We know what they did in 2004 with all the grime and dirt they had on the White House.

Heartless State Legislators in Virginia...

Oversight is not required when it comes to the safety of our children. The Virginian-Pilot reports that Republicans are trying to ease oversight rules for recreational "local government-run day care."

The way the law reads today, day cares must have one adult for every 10 children, but these laws are costing day cares $$$. So never mind that children’s security would be compromised if restrictions were lifted, keep in mind your low state taxes as you meekly move along.

Running a day care with such reasonable restrictions is just too "expensive," bemoaned Sen. Stephen D. Newman, R-Lynchburg.

Wah, wah, wah.
The Senate passed SB257 on Thursday by a 35-3 vote. The bill would remove the Deparment of Social Services’ licensing authority over local government-run programs. It now goes to the House for consideration.
The House has already passed its own version that extends relief to privately run recreational day cares. No doubt, more than few day care centers will now begin to claim to be "recreational."

And forget about formal education. Currently, daycare workers must have at least a GED, but the new law would do away with such a Draconian requirement.

Suzanne Clark Johnson, president of Voices for Virginia’s Children, said she worries that if local governments set their own standards they’ll be more concerned about the costs than what’s appropriate for children.
Yes, legislators like to go on and on about children being the future of our country, as they stick it to the kids; all yap and no action.

The Pilot reports that "[l]ocal governments, including Virginia Beach [asked] legislators to spare their recreational programs from the law." And sponsoring the senate bill is none other than Sen. Frank W. Wagner of Virginia Beach.

You might wanna keep this little gem of a law in mind when you vacation and drop off your kids for a couple of hours of sun and golf.

Incredible One-Day Story with Super-Collosal Legs...

During the last couple of days, we have learned the president ordered snooping of Americans outside the law because Congress authorized the president to go after the guys that attacked us on 9/11 and with that authorization, FISA was trumped. At least that's the company line.

Many Republicans have expressed grave doubt that the law did any such thing; but to strike back, the president and his minions keep repeating over and over again, "We are the law."

In the latest mutation to justify the indefensible, the president added the extra weight of yet more lies. He is now telling the nation how by violating the law, he saved thousands, yes thousands of American lives.

In Bush-land's alternative world, would-be terrorists, henceforth dubbed would-be-shoe-bombers, were stopped from carrying out their evil plan through use of illegal wiretapping; and if these agents of terror had not been stopped, somehow they would have commandeered an airplane to LA and "steer[ed] a plane" smack into Freedom Tower, er, I mean Library Tower.

Earth to Bush, the Washington Post has reported that "several U.S. intelligence officials played down the relative importance of the alleged plot and attributed the timing of Bush's speech to politics."
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to publicly criticize the White House, said there is deep disagreement within the intelligence community over the seriousness of the Library Tower scheme and whether it was ever much more than talk.
Only a few weeks ago, the administration was claiming an attack on the Brooklyn Bridge through use of a blowtorch was scorched. The media by way of New York Times duly noted, however, that FBI officials said the "case...was not connected to the spying operations."

Hmm...the siren song of mass devastation is truly wearing thin. Didn't the administration only a few months ago also claim the Patriot Act had single-handedly foiled numerous terrorist attacks on the mainland?

Yes, boys and girls, there is a terrorist Santa Claus; and every time the administration finds themselves in a pickle, he drops of his goody bag of snake oil.

So far, the polls are evenly split on whether the administration was justified to eavesdrop. The president has pushed hard to frame the issue as one of national security with mixed success. But with hearings this week and almost half of the Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee questioning the practice, Democrats and some Republicans are offering to amend the law so the White House can have whatever flexibility it needs and still maintain their constitutional balance of power.

This coming Sunday, Americans will have a chance to hear the arguments from the perspective of leaders who were informed by the Bush administration about the illegal wiretapping; and hopefully, Democrats will be able to point out that the issue is not about fighting the war on terror, but fighting for the rule of law.

"Meet the Press" is devoting its entire hour with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Bush loyalist and mouthpiece, former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle as well as the leaders of House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and Ranking Member Jane Harman of California.

A press release by "Meet the Press" promises viewers that "[t]he foursome will discuss the controversy over the constitutional, legal and political ramifications of the domestic surveillance program."

In spite of what the White House may have wished, this one-day story remains very much alive and keeps on going and going like a Bunny superfly leaping over a pile of dung; and the stench from the dung is so far-reaching that it now threatens to gag the olfactory sensitivities of team-Bush and his media mates.

I hope Democrats find the opportunity to drop names like Libby, Katrina and Brownie, as well as terms like pre-war intelligence fiasco and presidential overreach. As we head into mid-term elections, Democrats must make the case that a rubber stamped feckless Congress failed to hold the administration accountable for their numerous missteps and horrors.

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