Saturday, December 01, 2007

Because when things are going that great

Illinois is in such great shape that Governor Blagojevich took up the new Blackhawks president John McDonough's offer of catching a game. In Chicago. At the beginning of the hockey season.

As the Chicago Sun-Times reported:
After being at the Capitol much of the day in pursuit of a mass transit bailout, Blagojevich quietly slipped out of the building with his press secretary and boarded a taxpayer-funded jet to get to the hockey game.
Various Chicago stations reported the Chicago-Springfield roundtrips cost Illinois taxpayers about $6000. (Ed. note: That's ORD-SPI for you airline people out there, and you know who you are.)

It's not all bad news for the state recently.
Good news: Henry Hyde died. Bad news: he retired in 2006.

Good news: Dennis Hastert is resigning. Bad news: this means Blagojevich will have to fly down to Springfield again, to set the date for the special election.

Good news: Statewide ban on smoking in most indoor facilities takes effect 12:01am, 1 January 2008. Bad news: The Chicago area media have been suspiciously silent on this. A Google search at the time of this writing turned up ONE metro area report and that's the Downers Grove paper.

Good news: The Cook County Board has not raised taxes. Bad news: Yet. Todd Stroger, who inherited the Cook County Presidency from his dad, is pushing for $900 million in new taxes.

Good news: Chicago has a new police superintendent. Bad news: We had to get an FBI agent out of Philadelphia because there was no one in house who was both qualified and clean.
[Ed. note: It's hard to believe the FBI has a better rep in this case, but there you go.]

Good news: University of Illinois went 9-3 in football this year. Including defeating then #1 Ohio State University. Bad news: Illinois is probably headed to the Rose Bowl, and we will be forced to listen ad nauseum about Illinois' last trip there, a defeat in 1984. That's right - I said it, 1984.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One question begats another

Just one question for all presidential candidates, regardless of political party:

Why would you want to be president now?(!)

I imagine some would actually answer along the lines "this country is so fucked up that I am compelled to run for the office and undue some of the damage."

To which my follow up question would be: Could you name the problems and concrete actions taken to correct them?

I expect there would be mealy-mouth answers along the lines of "gathering the right people," "studying the issues," and "forming task forces."

To that I would ask "Why don't you whip out some Executive Statements and make it happen?"

Ideally, some candidate would say that's not constitutional.

But that's what Bush did. Why is he still running the show then?

While I'm at it, I'd also like a candidate to tell us that upon taking office he would ship Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the Administration down to Gitmo to get some answers. And maybe get a little waterboarding in too.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

President Bush supports the troops, commits suicide (we wish!)

The fervent hope of millions around the world that George Bush's next conversation with God will be "come to Jesus - right now."

In honor of Armistice Day, if George Bush could exit along with the day, outside the immediate improvement who would notice the difference? Nobody, not even Laura.

Former U.S. Marine Matt Howard explained at an antiwar rally why he was against the illegal Iraq War. In part, it was because they invaded a country illegally; killed innocent men, women, and children; killed livestock; destroyed homes; tortured prisoners.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that veterans organizations against the Iraq War will not be allowed to participate in Veterans' Day marches. In response to brainless flag-wavers who cry that our armies are fighting over there to protect us and our freedoms over HERE, refer them to the file "MORE LIES YOUR GOVERNMENT TOLD YOU."

Wilkes-Barre, PA reports on the staggering increases in homeless veterans.

And then there are the ongoing scandals of Walter Reed & VA hospitals; inadequate troop supplies & armor; depleted National Guards at home; war profiteers making their money at the expense of Iraqis, troops, and U.S. citizens.

It might be time to revisit the peace forced upon central Europe after World War I and see how that turned out.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Taking on Blackwater can be dangerous stuff

Heard much about the proposed Blackwater West project?

I don't know much about it either. But Potrero, California is opposed to the Blackwater West project and engineered an upcoming recall election of the Planning Board that approved the project.

And then during the southern California fires, Potrero residents were obstructed from receiving the basic assistance afforded to other communities, such as reverse 911 calls.

The group Citizens' Oversight Projects is following the entire Potrero v Blackwater battle. is also following and combating Blackwater's Potrero plans.

This story needs a lot more investigation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

There are crank sensors, and then there are crank sensors

Crank Sensor It is an engine component that measures the rotational speed of the crankshaft. If it doesn't work, then the engine doesn't work.

Last Thursday, my brother and I were coming back from Michigan. We were on I-90, and paid the Indiana toll (at Lake Station) and shifted into fifth when the car began losing speed. The speedometer needle went beserk. My brother, the driver, said "maybe I better pull over and take a look." So we pretended we were in control and pulled over.

He popped the hood and peered in, stepped back and said, "You know it's the transmission, right?" Nuts. Of course we knew it was the transmission. And we're stuck in Indiana. For chrissakes.

Roadside assistance was called, who estimated a tow truck would be there in 45 minutes. The tow truck was there in 30 minutes. Our luck was changing already.

The tow driver confirmed it was the transmission, hooked up the car, and drove us hell-bent for leather to Chicago (doing 80-85 mph). The plan was to drop off the car at the shop on Stony Island where it has a history, and as luck would have it, they were still open.

The keys were handed over, and we strolled the 1.5 miles home. The next day (Friday, October 26) the shop informed me it was the transmission AND clutch.

Monday (October 29) they called and asked if I had an alarm system. No, I did not. Why do you ask? Because we put the new tranny & clutch in, and now the car won't start. My heart leaps to my throat.

Tuesday (October 30) they call to say the crank sensor took a powder, and that's why the car won't start. They're putting a new one in now, but it's labor intensive. No car today.

Wednesday (October 31) they call to say the car is ready to go. I steel myself and ask, how much? And they repeat the original quote. But what about the crank sensor? They said, that was our fault for not catching it, so we're sticking with the original quote. Whoopee!

Tonight I pay the ransom and liberate the car.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

God Responds

Update to the Fuzzy Theology post:
Jim died.

And for the hell of it, God is also smiting Malibu.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fuzzy theology, or, I'm an egomaniac because Jesus was one too

If you have an email address, and at least one other person knows it, then you've been on the receiving end of epistles like the one below.

This one does a particularly nice job of mixing in extreme hubris with dolorous calls for prayer while asking the eternal question: Why, why, why does God kill Catholics?
Editor notes are in the text below. Enjoy!

---- Forwarded Message ----
From: [name withheld]
Sent: Friday, October 5, 2007 10:20:18 AM

I received some devastating news today regarding one of my colleagues. This very fine and deeply religious man (Catholic) took seriously ill two weeks ago.
[Ed. note: I can't tell if the Catholic designation means that only Catholics are capable of being deeply religious, or he is deeply religious despite being Catholic.]
I have since learned that he has a very aggressive form of exocrinetic cancer that has spread through his liver and pancreas. Jim is a PHd. in finance and management and one of thos [sic] most unselfish, brilliant and dedicated individuals I have ever worked with. His hard work and creativity matched with mine has made us a dynamic duo here at my job.
[Ed. note: Would we even be worried about this guy if his hard work and creativity DIDN'T match the petitioner's?]
Every major, important and exciting assignment has been thrown to us.
[Ed. note: And now he's going to be stuck doing all the work - for a change.]
Now, it's all meaningless as he is in a fight for his life. They have been unable to keep him stable and he is on kidney dialysis. He is gravely ill and in need of chemotherapy but they [sic] hospital is concerned because of his instability. It is almost a no-win situation.
[Ed. note: So what does it take to get to a no-win scenario?]
They are proceeding this morning with the chemo - if it doesn't help (and it is last ditch at best) he'll die of the cancer, but because of his instability the chemo itself could kill him.
[Ed. note: To be clear - this is NOT a no-win situation?]
I have not spoken with him although my manager has -
[Ed. note: Wait! You haven't spoken with the other half of your dynamic duo? What a lousy rotten $%(@&.]
Jim has made his peace with God and has been given the last sacraments. Short of a miracle our expectation is that he only has days. The last thing he said was how his suffering was nothing compared to that of our Lord's on the cross.
[Ed. note: For chrissakes, just die already.]
I ask for your prayers that God's will be done.
[Ed. note: The petitioner seems unaware that God's going to do whatever He damn well pleases, whether you pray or not.]
If Jim is to survive this or leave this life, I pray that he will find peace and ask you to share in this prayer.
[Ed. note: It's an extreme way to get out of that dynamic duo predicament, but Jim is happier already.]
Life is truly short my friends and I encourage you to live it to the fullest,live your dreams, love the person you know you were meant to be with and be purposeful in this world so you have something to account for yourself when your day comes to stand before Jesus. Amen - [name withheld]
[Ed. note: And there it is - the trite send-off.]

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bush launches another attack on grammar

Google it and you'll see everyone picked it up:

President George W. Bush told a group of New York school kids on Wednesday: "Childrens do learn."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Illinois' Congressional delegation falls short

California came in first, while we tied with Michigan and Missouri. But we beat out Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington!

More fallout from The Duke Cunningham, who at the time of this writing is languishing in a minimum security Federal prison.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007
Attorney for Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor going to trial soon for a chunk of charges relating to the bribery of The Duke Cunningham, subpoenas 13 Congressmen.

The Breakdown
California (4)
- Doolittle (R), Lewis (R), Hunter (R), Issa (R)
Illinois (2)
- Hastert (R), Weller (R)
Michigan (2)
- Hoekstra (R), Knollenberg (R)
Missouri (2)
- Blunt (R), Skelton (D)
Pennsylvania (1)
- Murtha (D)
Texas (1)
- Reyes (D)
Washington (1)
- Norm Dicks (D)

Another way to count it is 9 Republicans, 4 Dems.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Jerry Weller announces his retirement. Surprisingly, he wants to spend more time with his family. In Morris, Illinois. And Guatemala City, Guatemala. His wife of three years is a legislator there. Why? Because she's Guatemalan. Maybe she knows something about his hinky Nicaraguan land deals.

TPM Election Central got the scoop on Weller's retirement. They did not fail to mention the shady land deals in Nicaragua.

And his feelings were hurt when CREW included him in their list of 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress. Even more hurtful to the Congressman: he was the only member of the Illinois delegation who made the list.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Student tasered for asking Kerry embarrassing questions

A UF student asks Kerry three questions:
Why did you concede in 2004 when you knew the election was stolen?
Why aren't you voting for the impeachment of Bush?
Are you, or were you, a member of the secret society Skull & Bones?

It was that last one that had cops jump all over him and pull him to the back of the auditorium. They force him to the ground, and when he won't stop asking what he did wrong, they taser him. The link to video here. And the continuing harassment can be found here.

Inside Edition covered the story.

The Associated Press, true to form, ridicule and marginalize the student, Andrew Meyer. They also cite a police officer (unnamed, of course) who claimed Meyer's demeanor changed completely when he was out of sight of the cameras. Nice journalistic integrity there, AP.

Salon presciently asks why are cops so stupid? They keep doing illegal things in front of people with cameras.

The BBC covers the story too. They refrain from pointing out that the cops illegally detained and assaulted the student.

The Village Voice does a good job running down the storyline.

Today, mess with your own mind. Or somebody else's.

Enneagram: the latest, hippest thing. Maybe not so current, but a great diversion at work (note time stamp on this entry).

This is your editor's enneagram:
Main Type
Overall Self
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

As you can note above and below, there are links to take tons of personality tests. You think you're a well-adjusted person now? Take a few tests and you'll find you're a messed up wreck who's barely functioning.

Your editor's enneagram with a scale:
Enneagram Test Results
Type 1 Perfectionism |||||||||||||||| 66%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||||||| 54%
Type 3 Image Focus |||||||||||| 50%
Type 4 Hypersensitivity |||||||||||||||| 66%
Type 5 Detachment |||||||||||||||||| 74%
Type 6 Anxiety |||||||||||||||| 66%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||||||||| 42%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||||||| 38%
Type 9 Calmness |||||| 30%
Your main type is 5
Your variant is self pres
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

No critical comments please, or I might just pursue that hermit lifestyle I've yearned for all these years.

Monday, September 17, 2007

MLB pitchers gone wild

Or, what happens when you catch a pitcher after a bad day on the mound. Brett Myers (Phillies) and Sam Carchidi (Philadelphia Inquirer) have an exchange after Myers blows a game.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Now why would we announce this?

The Air Forces Times reports on September 10, 2007 that Air Combat Command will have a command-wide mission stand down (Friday) September 14 to review their procedures in response to this oversight.*

The Air Force is reporting 6 missiles were transported.

The Shreveport Times (home to Barksdale AFB) reports that 5 missiles were transported.

What happened to the missing nuclear missile?

Meanwhile, the military is now searching for Steve Fossett. Maj. General Henry C. Morrow stepped in September 4 to coordinate the search for Fossett.

*That is, the 5 or 6 nuclear missiles that were illegally transported from Minot AFB, North Dakota to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana on August 30.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Americans, better than anyone else at-

Digging that hole deeper and jumping in it.

The International Labor Organization released its annual report on productivity of workers. And damned if Americans didn't lead the list. We produced more wealth per worker last year, at $63,885. We smoked the second place finisher, with the Irish coming in at a measly $55,986.

Interesting, this is not getting the same coverage as this bit of garbage news:Average American worker goofs off 2.09 hours a day.

So we're much better at flogging ourselves for imaginary sins than realizing the true state of things: WE SUCK AT STICKING IT TO THE MAN.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If you want something done, you got to do it yourself

You got to do it yourself. In this case, the Army couldn't rely on insurgents to shoot down this particular helicopter, so it developed engine failure.

Inconveniently, it had the witnesses for the prosecution of an Army sgt on trial for homicide. Bummer.

Over at DIGG, the ever-reliable hacks are busy denouncing UPI (the wire service that is reporting the story) and attributing to conspiracy theorists. If you're going to call me a conspiracy theorist, then you must admit you are a coincidence theorist.

RICO lives.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Not Enemy Fire, Not Friendly Fire - let's try Fragging

Now it's come out that Pat Tillman was executed. Three close-set bullet holes in your forehead led to that conclusion.

The spin is it that he was fragged. But comments on the story are already poking big holes in this.

A) The AP article says Tillman was telling a fellow Ranger to "stop sniveling" right before he died.
Commenter: Nor is it likely he was "fragged" because he was a bit too gung ho. All Rangers are gung ho.

B) With the change in the storyline from friendly fire to fragging, but restoring the enemy fire detail:
Commenter: if they were under fire, how was there no evidence of that enemy fire?

C) With fragging questionable, and enemy fire and friendly fire eliminated, a commenter posits:
The suggestion that his platoon or company had something to do with the opium trade is beginning to look a lot less fantastical.

By george, I think he's got it! I don't know if Tillman had any thoughts about the illegality of Afghanistan or Iraq wars. Safeguarding opium shipments, on the other hand, could cause some re-thinking.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Say it ain't so, Bat Boy!

The bete noir of National Enquirer, People, US, and Wall Street Journal - the soon-to-be-late-lamented Weekly World News is going under. Belly up.

Who else is going to cover gems like these:
"Most Irresistible Woman on Earth - To Mosquitoes!"
"Mother Natures Endorses Gore For President"
"Why Moses Wandered in the Desert for 40 Years"

What other schizoid rag would tackle sex, politics, and religion, all in the same issue!

Over at the National Enquirer, they're covering blockbusters such as:
"Lindsay Lohan: Busted Again!"
[Ed. note: Okay, to be fair, every MSM outlet was covering that.]
"Campbell Brown leaves NBC for CNN"
[Ed. note: Besides CNN, who cares? Not even NBC.]

Reuters laments the passing of an archrival: Weekly World News to Close(Aliens not blamed).

Forbes reports that an angel of death has visited Weekly World News, and the world is poorer for it.

International Herald Tribune makes it sound like they're equally saddened, but in reality they lifted the same AP wire Forbes did.

Is there no shame!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Dictatorship consolidates

Over the weekend I was mortified to learn that Bush signed an executive order on 17 July 2007 which made protesting the Iraq War illegal. [Don't look now, Congressional Dems and Repubs, but he's looking at you too.]

Guerilla News Network:
Bush Executive Order: Criminalizing the Anti War Movement

Alex Cockburn at Counterpunch:
Guiliani and the Dogs of War
The third section, "A Big Mile Marker on our March into the Police State," reprints the Executive Order (Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq).

A Google search as of 4:30pm CT, Sunday 22 July 2007 showed only blogs and the official White House site covering this.

If you call out "Pravda" the American press will answer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A half-baked summation of today's news. And some of yesterday's.

First, some reflection. Neocon reporters interview each other and reach consensus. Back in February '03 Katherine Jean-Lopez, Bill Kristol, and Lawrence Kaplan concluded the only group Bush Co. failed to convince on Iraq was the liberal crowd. Liberals prefer tyranny.

This commenter is someone I want to know better:
I have a check signed and ready to post to the first person who tells Bill Kristol to fuck off or shut the fuck up on live television. I'll double it if it's accompanied by a left hook to his cakehole.
The Irish Times, among others, carried Pope Benedict XVI's statement that Reformed/Protestant churches are not churches in the true sense but rather ecclesial communities. And when he said "ecclesial communities," he used air quotes. Ian Paisley, right on cue, threw down the orange gauntlet. Let Marching Season begin!

Moody's and S&P secretly, while no one is looking, are feverishly getting caught up on their ratings. Unfortunately, they're a little behind on the downgrades. When Moody realized just how far behind they were (editor's note: they just got around to Enron), they put this little reminder out:
Moody's has no obligation to perform, and does not perform, due diligence.
S&P spent most of the day at a bar with Moody's, arguing who should put their downgrades out first. Moody's finally agreed to do it, picked up the phone and called AP with the news. S&P then called UPI. Then S&P found out that Moody's only pretended to call AP. Damn them!

And we'll wrap tonight's show with crazy-ass Rick Santorum*. Santorum, channeling (harnessing?) his inner voices, intimated on the Hugh Hewitt radio show (editor's note: that is a real show) that there are going to be terrorist attacks, a lot of them, they're going to happen before the 2008 elections, and as a result Americans will wake up and vote Republican. To sum up, Americans will vote Republican during a Republican administration because they got attacked while the country was on the Republicans' watch. As summed up here: Rick Santorum would very much like it if you'd just blow up and not vote Democrat.

*Link provides medical definition of Santorum.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

South Koreans get it, and rummy thoughts on the U.S. economy, politics, etc.

The South Korean metalworkers union recently led a 5-day strike to protest the proposed the free trade pact between the United States and South Korea.

The working classes have a much better understanding of what free trade does to them then the working classes in the United States do.

Think of it as labor arbitrage. And if you still think illegal immigration and off-shoring are not substantial levers in all this, then you're going to be plenty surprised when your job is snatched out from under you.

In other news, the big boys of Wall Street (Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley) are taking a beating on their in-house hedge funds. But only the WSJ and Financial Times are really covering these stories. Sadly, most people don't read WSJ and FT.

While Ben Bernanke is reluctantly - and evasively - beginning to admit that the crashing housing market might impact the greater economy, consumer confidence is crashing and banks are hip-deep in the real estate business. Here is their quandary: do they spend the money to minimally maintain the property until it gets sold or dump them as fast as possible, which means firesale prices? In both cases the surrounding home prices fall, it's just a matter of how much.

Do you notice how the main stream press is rigorous in keeping us abreast of presidential candidates popularity polls, but fall short on telling us about the candidates? Why aren't we hearing more about Mike Gravel and Ron Paul - who poll much higher than we're lead to believe, but the online polls get pulled quickly. And print & television media omit the results altogether. Glaringly, we are being told now who the candidates are going to be, and it's not vox populi picking them.

And now for the good news: White Sox and Mark Buehrle agree to a 4-year contract extension. Now all we have to do is shore up 2B, SS, LF, CF, and RF and we'll be good to go. And some bullpen help.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Andrew Speaker, aka XDR-TB Guy, gets his diagnosis downgraded

Various news outlets are reporting that the CDC downgraded Andrew Speaker's TB from XDR to MDR.

Don't be surprised if the CDC keeps reevaluating his condition until it finally becomes just a cold.

They found all the retarded lawyers - and they're working at the White House

Bush and his team are so stupid that they screwed up the Libby commutation. Make sure to read the footnote too.

Enjoy your Fourth of July.

Monday, June 25, 2007

To clarify: the executive branch is not part of the executive branch

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino initially offered this explanation:
MS. PERINO: I think that that is an interesting constitutional question, and I think that lots of people can debate it. I think when we were talking about the EO from last week, we've gone over that several times. You probably don't want me to go over it again. But the Vice President -- any Vice President has legislative and executive functions.
When the dumbstruck reporters failed to move on, she offered this:
"He's not exempt from following the laws of the United States," said Ms. Perino. "He's exempt just from this reporting requirement in this particular executive order."
To sum up, the executive branch is not part of the executive branch, and they're subject to same laws we are, until they're not.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Scooter Libby has a lot of friends

The Smoking Gun prints the letters of the Friends of Scooter Libby (FoSL).

Most are from the usual suspects, but here's one from James Carville. Sure, the letter is written by Mary Matalin, but it's signed by her AND Carville.

Keep believing the Dems and Republicans are separate parties though.

Interestingly, Scooter also got support from Peter Pace - Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff committee. You'd think he wouldn't be interested in clemency for a crummy bureaucrat who compromised an intelligence officer.

James Woolsey, former CIA Director, also took the time to pen a letter. Too bad Woolsey wasn't outed while on assignment overseas.

The one guy who didn't write a letter? Dick Cheney.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

If the economy's so great, why isn't retail growing?

In a nutshell, from the BLS's May 2007 report:
"Retail trade employment changed little in May and has shown no net increase since March 2006."

If the economy is doing so great, why aren't we adding retail jobs?

More from the BLS:
"Employment in construction was unchanged in May, with no significant movements among the component industries. Since its recent peak in September, construction employment has decreased by 54,000.
All the homebuilders are writing off inventory, selling the housing they do have (also known as new construction) at massive discounts. Foreclosures are setting new record highs (see Chicago Business' Foreclosures Still Raging in Chicago Area).

Meanwhile, reporting from FantasyLand, Bernanke said on May 17, 2007:
“We believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will be limited and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system,” Bernanke said.
While the rest of us are operating in the real world, we want to know this:

For further information on the construction jobs number, check out Mish's post: Construction Jobs Puzzle.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

And now a word from one of our sponsors

Say hey!

And coming up in "Access Hollywood," the making of the BP Say Hey! commercial.

And clipped from VH1's "Behind The Music," the band Message of the Blues with the original song LA.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Unsolicited crap from the woefully uninformed

Selecting the right group of people to send propagandist messages even devolves down to family members choosing who to send emails. I found myself the startled recipient of this load of fucking garbage from an aunt.

There are times when I am compelled to write back, and today I returned the broadside to this poor-ignorant-praise-Jesus-aunt.

[Extracted from the email]

Don't overlook the abuses committed by our troops and mercenaries hired by our government (see Halliburton, Blackwater). You want a good idea of what they're doing? Check out this video that was taken by our soldiers.

American soldiers threaten and taunt injured Iraqi dog

You can shrug that one off because it's just a dog? Then how about this one:
Iraqi Kid Runs For Water

Here's another heart-warmer:
Fuck Iraq

Remember, these are submitted by AMERICAN SOLDIERS.


I'm looking forward to her rebuttal.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bush mulls exit plan - through Iran

Say what you will about the cretin in the White House - he did have an exit strategy for Vietnam.

No wait - that was his Pop that had an exit strategy for him. And he fucked that up too.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bush's Homeland Security can't find the real Cubans

Cubans sneak ashore during US security drill

The drill was to intercept Cuban migrants. There were 325 agents from 85 agencies participating in the drill, and they found the actors portraying Cubans. Meanwhile, two boatloads of real migrants snuck ashore.

[Border Patrol spokesman] McDonald said, "We're not embarrassed at all. It's not uncommon for them (Cubans) to have landings."

If you listened hard enough, you could hear Bush say "heckuva job, McDonald."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Now if we can get Catholic priests to follow suit

Priests to Purify Site After Bush Visit
By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA Associated Press Writer
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) - Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Vatican felt the need to remind people to support the Church, especially during this Lenten season.

To sum up - don't pretend you can't see those collection plates heading your way.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Just a day in the Republic

Walter Reed freed up a bed, Mr. Vice President.
Cheney has a blood clot - U.S. public calls for pulmonary embolism surge
Good news - pulmonary embolisms are third leading cause of death in U.S.

Sometimes a plane crash is just a plane crash.
Indonesian jet bursts into flames
Bad news - some of the Aussies on board escaped.

Laurie Kellerman hits the big time
Fired Attorneys Allude to Justice Threat
Scrappy AP reporter sums up what real reporters have already dug up.

Finally, a legitimate deferral.
Libby Found Guilty in CIA Leak Case
Dear Army,
I can't serve because I'm doing 15 to 25 in the federal pen.
Sincerely, Scooter

Is it that hard to reach consensus in a party of three?
Saudi Arabia Warns Against Attack on Iran over Nuclear Issue
Can't we just let them duke it out via their proxy war in Iraq? And if Israel doesn't like it, too fucking bad.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

From the world of baseball

Highlight of news in and around the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues:

Cash-strapped Devil Rays and Royals Eliminate Shortstop Position

Texas Rangers not mentioned in Sosa's game against Royals
Sosa gets first hit in spring training

Make-A-Wish Foundation in Quandary
Dying 9-year-old asks for Barry Bonds to get kneecapped.

Ed Farmer goes after Buck Showalter for calling him "belly-itcher"
And White Sox fans finally learn the cause behind the long-running Farmer-Showalter feud.

Dying Yankee's fan gets great news
Wally Pip, diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), "Best news a dying Yankee fan could get!"

At the time of this posting, Opening Day is in 28 days, 21 hours, 31 minutes, 50 seconds.

Friday, March 02, 2007

New American Pension Plan - Work Until You Drop Dead

Government employees sit smugly as an unremitting stream of news stories swim past detailing the demise of private sector pensions. Cf. United Airlines. To refresh your memory, a federal judge ruled in May 2005 that United Airlines can walk away from $6.6 billion in pension obligations, affecting 119,000 people.

And county, state, and federal employees clucked their tongues and thought "That's too bad. Good thing I've got a government pension."

I'm not sure why they're so self-assured. Here in Illinois, the teachers are painfully aware that Blagojevich & Co., and George Ryan & Co before them, and yes - Jim Edgar before them - are underfunding the pension plans. Oddly, if an individual spent money that was scheduled for another account that would be embezzling. And if that individual isn't a major-party donor, then that individual gets sent up the river.

There are 4 states that have scandalously underfunded pension plans:
West Virginia
Rhode Island

Great. Alabama, Mississippi, even Kansas are doing a better job. And Kansas thinks humans hunted dinosaurs to extinction.

There are bigger horror stories at local levels. Take San Diego. They're going to see the big Orange County bankruptcy (December 1994) and raise it.
Let's see if I can sum up: Increasing focus on the pension plan problem resulted in GASB 45, which calls for retiree health care insurance to be included in pension plan costs. San Diego supervisors reported that this would up their unfunded liability from $1.2 bln to $1.8 bln on a $7.3 bln pension plan. Two supervisors brought forth a plan - essentially cutting health care provisos for future retirees that would save $1.2 bln. Naturally, the retirement association fought back by voting not to let Jacob vote on anything regarding retirees' health benefits.
Meanwhile, the San Diego Diocese is already at the bankruptcy party. The diocese has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just ahead of 140 lawsuits claiming sexual abuse by priests. This could be 20/20 hindsight, but it seems a little false economy on the part of the diocese.

To get an idea on what other states are facing, check out Pension Envy and Lobster Traps at Whiskey & Gunpowder.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The BBC, through its psychic link, knew WTC7 fell 30 minutes before it did

And YouTube and Google Video are furiously taking the down video every time it's getting posted.

But this link is holding at Live Leak.

It's so damning that when the BBC reporter's feed gets fried, right before the building finally falls, it's actually funny.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Let's get to know our Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, a little better

Back in 1991, Robert M. Gates was in Senate confirmation hearings for Director of CIA. The Chicago Tribune encapsulated one day's hearing with this quote from Gates:
The easiest way to achieve complete strategic victory is to do something that makes no sense, or even is self-destructive.
Other concerns of the Congress were Gates' and William Casey's (Reagan's CIA Director) willingness to slant intelligence to fit their own views.

Sounds familiar.

1991 wasn't the first time Gates had been nominated for the CIA post. In 1987 Reagan had put him forward, but Gates had to withdraw his nomination because the Senate Intelligence Committee did not believe his denials of involvement in Iran-Contra. Later, in 1991, he testified 33 times he did not recall any facts of Iran-Contra.

Interestingly, the Chicago Tribune did NOT endorse Robert Gates for CIA Director.

Currently, Gates is busy saying the U.S. doesn't want to bomb Iran, while blaming them for Iran weapons found in Iraq.
First, Gates would know about Iranian weapons (see Iran-Contra).
Second, the Iranian weapon connection was quickly debunked.
Third, Gates' isn't worried about Saudi Arabia's funding of Sunni militias?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

No sustained thoughts tonight

Republican party planks:

Science: Humans hunted dinosaurs to extinction. And further down the genome in Kansas, they say Americans hunted dinosaurs to extinction.*

Human sexuality: Gays are bad and should be shipped off to modern day equivalent of Lepers Island. Unless they are self-hating fags who donate loads of money to the GOP. Or they're the Vice President's daughter.* The self-loathing ones can quietly hide in the closet. The Vice-President's daughter can do whatever she damn well pleases.

Fiscal responsibility: does not apply to defense spending. Or corporate welfare. Or rich people.

On life: Adamantly pro, as long as abortion is the topic. Otherwise, don't hold back the cannon fodder. Cf. death penalty, access to health care, waging illegal war, collateral damage, gutting clean environmental laws, greenlighting torture, rendition, black prisons, erode working class/middle class. [Ed. note: Taking a break to fix a stiff B&B.]

Government involvement: None in business - save it all for citizens' bedrooms. 2008 plank: death penalty for adultery.

Military planning: done by guys who sucked at Risk.

Leisure: Alcohol and cigarettes - OK. Illegal drugs - bad unless you have a prescription (helloooo Merck, Pfizer, and Lilly!). Gambling - kind of okay unless it's online, then it's off limits.

Slogans: War on Terror. Means nothing and got away with it for 5+ years.

What the GOP wrote in Saudi Arabia's yearbook: BFF, W (Cheney made him write it.)

*See fundamentalist Muslim positions on these same issues. Do gay Muslims get welcomed by 72 kohl-eyed boys?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Thomas Friedman, walking malopropism

Now, you may not know this but I'm not a fan of the New York Times. Not for the same reason my friend DC is - he thinks it is a liberal rag while I believe it is a propaganda arm of the government.

But I digress. I have avoided reading Thomas Friedman's "The World Is Flat" because he was such a huge cheerleader for the Iraq War, and like his colleague Judith Miller, got all the reasons wrong. That, and he is such a major league jag-off. Can anyone forget his thesis that countries with McDonalds have never gone to war with each other, ergo they NEVER will?

If you're looking for scathing commentary that is also hilarious, read Matt Taibbi's review in the NY Press.

Dubious? Here's a snippet to whet your appetite:
Predictably, Friedman spends the rest of his huge book piling one insane image on top of the other, so that by the end—and I'm not joking here—we are meant to understand that the flat world is a giant ice-cream sundae that is more beef than sizzle, in which everyone can fit his hose into his fire hydrant, and in which most but not all of us are covered with a mostly good special sauce. Moreover, Friedman's book is the first I have encountered, anywhere, in which the reader needs a calculator to figure the value of the author's metaphors.

God strike me dead if I'm joking about this.

Bon appetit!

Give the word.

Sweet marjoram.

Say the right words and the lunatic will let you through. Is it too heavy-handed to apply this to Wall Street? The housing market, with a $20 trillion exposure, is falling. Worse, while the fall began end of summer 2005, it is still small. To be sure, it's growing in size and speed, but Wall Street is desperate to continue the farce.

National Association of Realtors is gleeful: Pending Home Sales Show Steady Trend. Except, right off the bat, we read: "The Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in November, eased by 0.5 percent to 107.0 from an upwardly revised reading of 107.5 in October, and is 11.4 percent lower than November 2005." But don't panic, dear mortgage holder - the narrowing of the index points to stabilization and that means stable home sales in the future. What the-! By the way, this press release fails to mention the cancellation rate on pending contracts. I'm guessing it's a significant number. People who sign a contract on a new home but can't sell their old home are probably canceling the contract and walking away from their earnest money.

Something else they fail to mention: the Census Bureau computes home sales based on a sampling of contracts signed. If a contract is cancelled the Census Bureau does not subtract the home sale nor add the house back to inventory.

Kate Incontrera, aka The Fuse, does a terrific job explaining the ham-handed con job the Street is still trying to pull on the public.

Sadly for the Street, the disconnect between the junk they're peddling and what people are EXPERIENCING is too great a disconnect. Once the public figures out that the Street does this with every set of numbers then the real show begins.

Well, that's fennel for you.

*From King Lear, Act III, Scene VI (Fields Near Dover). In Shakespeare's time sweet marjoram was used to treat insanity. Of course, what they considered insanity is a whole different issue.