Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bill of Wrongs

Here's a nice round-up of wrongs:

"The Bill of Wrongs
The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006.

I love those year-end roundups—ubiquitous annual lists of greatest films and albums and lip glosses and tractors. It's reassuring that all human information can be wrestled into bundles of 10. In that spirit, Slate proudly presents, the top 10 civil liberties nightmares of the year: ..."

50 Things You Didn't Know Until 2006

Click to read this very informative post.

Saving Bush Face

Jane Smiley at HuffPo notes
". . .People always comment on how stubborn George W. Bush is, or how stupid he is, or how ignorant he is, but what they don't comment on is how selfish he is. Clearly, the face that is being saved in this probable "surge" is his face, and that's how he wants it. He is willing to sacrifice any number of troops (and we don't know what that number will be, but it could be high) and any number of Iraqis (certainly a higher number, because the American troops will throw off all restraint) in order to say that---Well, what? What would be the expression? "We did our best"? Well, no. The Bush administration didn't do their best, because they never gave their post war strategy any thought. "We tried"? Hardly. "We did everything we could"? But no. They gave the PR a shot ("weapons of mass destruction"), but in the end, they were indifferent to everything about the war except George W. Bush's mood. When his mood was good, they told him some nice things about Iraq, and when his mood was bad, they kept the bad news from him so his mood wouldn't get worse. Remember how the former British Ambassador was warned by Condi Rice as he went into a meeting with Bush, "Don't make him angry"? . . .

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Media Matters Year End Awards

Media Matters has a wonderful recap of the year's most outrageous wingnutia, plus the "Misinformer of the Year" award. Check it out. Great reminder! (The "Misinformer of the Year" award is so richly deserved--remember to give them three red thumbs on the TiVo!)

Saddam Hanged

Yzhoo News from AP reports:



Saddam Hussein
struggled briefly after American military guards handed him over to Iraqi executioners. But as his final moments approached and masked executioners slipped a black cloth and noose around his neck, he grew calm.

In a final moment of defiance, he refused a hood to cover his eyes. . ."

Good-bye. Etc.

Update: On-going funerals of the famous: Jerry Ford, Saddam Hussein, and James Brown. They all arrive at the Pearly Gates. St Peter says. . .

Friday, December 29, 2006

Still No Computer

Alas, I am without reliable digital intervention at the moment, so I may or may not be posting much. Depends how much and how often I can get to one. Maintain.

Winning One For The Net

Here's some good news for all of us from Crooks and Liars:

"Net Neutrality Wins A Battle

I'm of the belief that this should be in the "Good News/Bad News" category. The bad news is that it looks like the major obstacles blocking the merger of AT&T and BellSouth have been cleared, and history shows that these mergers do not benefits consumers. The good news is that one of those cleared obstacles has scored a victory for net neutrality and eliminated one of the anti-neutrality forces' biggest arguments.

FreePress/Save the Internet:

In a striking victory for Internet freedom advocates, AT&T officials agreed on Thursday night to adhere to strict Network Neutrality conditions if allowed to complete their proposed $85 billion merger with BellSouth.

The phone company filed a "letter of commitment" with the Federal Communications Commission in which it promises to observe Net Neutrality principles for at least 24 months. Now it's left to Congress to follow the FCC's lead and make Net Neutrality permanent under the law.

[..]AT&T's concession followed more than a week of often pointed negotiations with the two Democrats on the commission, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. This was compounded by tens of thousands of letters from and Free Press activists who demanded that the FCC allow no merger without Net Neutrality.

Approval of the merger by the full commission could come as early as Friday, according to an AP report. [Note: For more on AT&T's concession, read Professor Tim Wu's analyisis]

AT&T's agreement puts to rest their own executives' argument that Net Neutrality doesn't really exist. (Watch AT&T chief Ed Whitacre in action) The phone giant just committed to observing Net Neutrality and defined it in the text of its letter.

It also puts to rest the bogus argument that Net Neutrality will cripple

the largest phone companies' plans to build out broadband services. AT&T agreed to this condition - and also to offer cheaper broadband services - and yet they continue to expand their networks and offer services to the tune of $24.5 billion in gross profits in 2006.

AT&T's agreement to these merger terms reduces to industry spin their argument that Net Neutrality and profit are mutually exclusive."

A Non-Success

“WH: bin Laden Capture "A Success That Hasn't Occured Yet"
By Justin Rood - December 29, 2006, 8:25 AM
Five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden is still at large -- but that's not a failure of White House policy, says Frances Fragos Townsend. As she explained to CNN's White House correspondent Ed Henry last night:
HENRY: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, dead or alive, we're going to get him. Still don't have him. I know you are saying there's successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That's a failure.
TOWNSEND: Well, I'm not sure -- it's a success that hasn't occurred yet. I don't know that I view that as a failure.

So how is that not a failure? I’ll go with the meme from a couple of years ago. “If a Democrat were President, there’d be a ‘Bin Laden Days Missing’ ticker running at the bottom of Fox News constantly.”

On Not Pardoning Nixon

I wrote the following the day Ford died but decided to let my cooler head prevail for a time, waiting to see if reflection would change my mind. It didn't.

I don't want to be a revisionist in search of the Jerry Ford legacy, but consider what may have happened if he had not pardoned Richard Nixon.

A Nixon trial would have exposed the underbelly of what we now know as the neoconservative movement. Some people who should have been exposed would have been exposed and the thrall of the neocons would have been lessened if not eliminated. Carter would have been elected and he may have been able to serve without the constant backstabbing of the Washington Democratic set and may have had a more effective presidency, resulting in a denial of the Washington big pulpit to Ronald Reagan. Without Reagan, there would have been no Bush I, no Bush II, and no Iraq War, and possibly we would have avoided other conflicts. The U.S.S.R. would have fallen no matter who was sitting in the Oval Office.

Yeah. I liked Ford, too. But, the pardon of Nixon didn't heal the country, it only scarred a scab.

A few other people, such as Taylor Marsh, have posted similar sentiments, so I don't feel completely out in left field (not that I would care being the only howling voice in the wilderness. Been there. Done that.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Computer Going In Shop

. . . so I may out of commission for a while. Cooked motherboard (or more accurately, lightly seared, very rare; just enough to discombuzzle one segment of the electronics-- the one that apparently controlled memory allocation. A real year-long nerd and geek puzzle festival).

NRA Hoax Novel?

From Raw Story:

"A controversial, leaked graphic novel that may have been produced to bolster the National Rifle Association's agenda was called a hoax over the weekend. But further analysis of the source material appears to confirm that the purported NRA publication, which contains alarming racial overtones, is legitimate.

Last Friday, the website Wonkette published exclusive images from Freedom in Peril: Guarding the 2nd Amendment in the 21st Century. The expertly illustrated graphic novel alleges a coordinated strategy on the part of gun control advocates to roll back the second amendment and strip Americans of their rights to bear arms. Many of the images contained in the graphic novel suggest deliberate racial overtones. Other drawings in the book focus on liberal politicians and celebrities who have made statements the NRA considers anti-second amendment. . ."

I own guns. I support the Second Amendment (and all the rest!); this behavior is one reason why the NRA can't recruit some people who might otherwise be supporters.

The dif betwixt a comic book and a graphic novel?

Low Lights and Bad Bosses

". . .We all know about Bad Bosses. But this summer, when Working America held its first-ever My Bad Boss Contest, the roaches really crawled out of the woodwork.

Like the boss who told his part-time staff person she had to work longer hours—even though she wanted to spend more time with her dying mother.

Or the one who made his employee pay for his own chair at work.

And the boss who “Googles™” employees to dig up dirt on their personal lives and spends time walking around the office barking like a dog, whinnying like a horse and making cicada noises.

More than 2,500 employees submitted their bad boss stories to Working America, an AFL-CIO community affiliate. Visitors to the My Bad Boss Contest site voted for the worst boss of the week, and the embattled grand prize winner got a much-deserved week’s vacation getaway and $1,000 toward airfare, compliments of the AFL-CIO membership benefit organization, Union Privilege.

The winning entry described her boss as a millionaire dentist who, because so many patients canceled appointments on Sept. 11, 2001, took the money he would have made that day out of his employees’ paychecks. . ."

On Jerry Ford

Firedoglake and Scarecrow:

"President Gerald Ford died last night, at the age of 93. From the Washington Post:

Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr., 93, who became the 38th president of the United States as a result of some of the most extraordinary events in U.S. history and sought to restore the nation's confidence in the basic institutions of government, has died. His wife, Betty, reported the death in a statement last night.

"My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age," Betty Ford said in a brief statement issued from her husband's office in Rancho Mirage, Calif. "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."

I switched on CNN in time to watch our current President describe Mr. Ford in glowing terms, as a decent man, an honorable man who served his country and helped us through trying times. His words were sincere, but incomplete. The analysts will no doubt fill in the rest, and the nation's media are already saying "he saved a nation," and quoting that famous speech in which Ford, newly sworn in as President following the resignation of Richard Nixon, proclaimed, "Our long national nightmare is over."

But it wasn't. Nixon left in disgrace, but Cheney and Rumsfeld were in the wings. And they would return. We needed one more statement from Mr. Ford, but now he is dead.

Rest in peace, Gerald Ford. Our condolences and best wishes to the family."

He was not a crook.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

More Troops Another Way

From Crooks and Liars:"
You Knew They’d Do This, Didn’t You?

Bryan Bender in today's Boston Globe writes that the U.S. military may start recruiting foreigners.

The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks — including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer — according to Pentagon officials.

Foreign citizens serving in the US military is a highly charged issue, which could expose the Pentagon to criticism that it is essentially using mercenaries to defend the country. Other analysts voice concern that a large contingent of noncitizens under arms could jeopardize national security or reflect badly on Americans' willingness to serve in uniform.

The idea of signing up foreigners who are seeking US citizenship is gaining traction as a way to address a critical need for the Pentagon, while fully absorbing some of the roughly one million immigrants that enter the United States legally each year.

Sort of a two-birds-with-one-stone approach, I guess. I would love to hear from current or retired U.S. military personnel what they think of this."

I support a small amount of such recruiting but at some point a line will be crossed into a real mercanary any army. I'd much rather see universal military suffrage.

Monday, December 25, 2006

More War

Via the Seattle Times:

'Ethiopia says it was "forced to enter war" in Somalia

Los Angeles Times

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Ethiopian jets pounded Islamic-held positions in southern Somalia, a sharp escalation Sunday of a conflict that diplomats fear could ignite a regional war.

Ethiopia's prime minister said his country had been "forced to enter into war. . ."'

The irony of this post and the post below does not escape me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Candid Republican

From Talking Points Memo:"Last week we tried to nail down members of the Republican leadership in Congress on where they stand on the President's soon-to-be-proposed "surge." The response? Mostly silence.

But in an interview published today, one veteran Republican congressman says he is "highly skeptical" that a surge will have any real effect on the ground. Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), who won re-election after a hard-fought campaign, was surprisingly candid in an interview with the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette: . . ." click for more.

Celebrity Hissing

On the Rosie vs. the Donald front, reports:

". . .But between these two prominent New Yorkers, I wondered: now that it’s Christmas time, who’s more charitable? Donald the self-proclaimed billionaire, or Rosie the talk show host and comic?

The answer: Rosie, as it turns out. Her For All the Kids Foundation gave away $1.9 million in 2004-2005 to children’s charities all over the United States. This is pretty remarkable, and something I didn’t know about it until I looked it up. The foundation benefits groups that help at risk kids, and even put a big chunk of change toward rebuilding a Head Start center in New York. . ."

More War On Xmas

Crooks and Liars sums it up nicely:

"The War on Christmas is one profitable venture.

The American Family Assn., a conservative activist group, has rung up more than $550,000 in sales of buttons and magnets stamped with the slogan "Merry Christmas: It's Worth Saying."

Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit law firm affiliated with the religious right, has taken in more than $300,000 with its Help Save Christmas Action Packs. The kits include two buttons, two bumper stickers and "The Memo that Saved Christmas," a guide to defending overt religious expression, such as a Nativity scene in a public school classroom…read on

In years gone by—it used to be that many people felt the Holidays were being exploited for profit by corporate America. Not any more. To see these buffoons abuse it is pretty sickening. Dan Radmacher takes aim at Bill O'Reilly:

All this "War on Christmas" nonsense was manufactured in 2004 by that sanctimonious hypocrite Bill O'Reilly to bump up ratings — and maybe distract attention from that whole unfortunate sexual harassment/phone sex episode…read on. . ."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

One Down, ???? To Go

via Reuters:

"U.S. kills top Taliban leader

A side gunner on a Chinook 47 looks out over Helmand, Afghanistan in this file picture. U.S. forces said on Saturday they had killed the Taliban's military chief in southern Afghanistan, where the insurgency is at its bloodiest, a man in the top four of the group's leadership and with links to Osama bin Laden.
A side gu
nner on a Chinook 47 looks out over Helmand, Afghanistan in this file picture. U.S. forces said on Saturday they had killed the Taliban's military chief in southern Afghanistan, where the insurgency is at its bloodiest, a man in the top four of the group's leadership and with links to Osama bin Laden. (REUTERS/POOL/David Swanson)

KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. forces said on Saturday they had killed the Taliban's military chief in southern Afghanistan, who had close links to Osama bin Laden and was heir to the rebel leadership.

Akhtar Mohammad Osmani was the most senior leader killed yet and was targeted in a region where the insurgency is at its bloodiest, a military spokesman said. The Taliban denied he was dead.

Osmani and two other guerillas were killed in an air strike on their car on an isolated desert road on Tuesday, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition force, Colonel Tom Collins, said in Kabul. . ."

Inherit The Mess

TPM says:"Over at TPMCafe, Ivo Daalder says George Bush has taken every foreign policy problem he inherited from Bill Clinton and made it worse. Pretty much. Glenn Kessler outlines the problems facing the Administration in Iran, North Korea, and the Sudan, all places where Bush foreign policy strategies have hit brickwalls. Of course, that's not counting Iraq. . ."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Mouths Of The Year

Meida Matters has a neat post up:

Most outrageous comments of 2006

How extreme were conservative commentators in their remarks this year? How about calls to nuke the Middle East and an allegation that a "gay ... mafia" used the congressional page program as its own "personal preserve. . ." Click here to get the exhaustive list. It's a horrid trip down memory lane.

It's Drafty

The New York Daily News reports:
"VA boss likes draft - till White House blows it off

Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson gave qualified support yesterday to renewing the draft - a suggestion that rattled the White House.

"I think that our society would benefit from that, yes, sir," Nicholson said of replacing the all-volunteer force with a tough draft purged of the deferments that allowed many to avoid service in Vietnam.

"I think if we bring back the draft, there should be no loopholes for anybody who happens to be drafted," he said. "If it's a random system, it ought to be an honestly random system."

Nicholson's remarks came a day after President Bush said he was seeking new recruits to expand the Army and Marine Corps, and the secretary was quickly reined in by the White House. . ."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Students Protest In Iran

The New York Times reports:

"TEHRAN, Dec. 20 — As protests broke out last week at a prestigious university here, cutting short a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Babak Zamanian could only watch from afar. He was on crutches, having been clubbed by supporters of the president and had his foot run over by a motorcycle during a less publicized student demonstration a few days earlier.

But the significance of the confrontation was easy to grasp, even from a distance, said Mr. Zamanian, a leader of a student political group.

The student movement, which planned the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy from the same university, Amir Kabir, is reawakening from its recent slumber and may even be spearheading a widespread resistance against Mr. Ahmadinejad. This time the catalysts were academic and personal freedom. . ."

To The Camps With Them!

James Wolcott observes: ". . .Asked by Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer (whose boyish twinkle makes every day a holiday) what he would do to stopper such outbursts, Gallagher proposed that the likes of Joy Behar and Matt Damon (whose Hardball appearance rankled the Hee Haw mascot) should be rounded up and put in a "detention camp" until the war is over. He didn't specify which war, the war in Iraq (which will probably drag out length of Bush's presidency and beyond) or the War on Terror (which could be decades-long), nor did he grasp the irony of punishing celebrities for invoking Hitler by employing Hitlerite crackdown tactics. When the other guest observed that in this country, citizens--even entertainers--are allowed to mouth off, that's what democracy's all about, Gallagher admonished: "There's such a thing as treason."

Such is the caliber of intellect with which our president sees fit to confer. No wonder we're losing the war in Iraq--what a Bozo brain trust!"

No Jeb To Kick Around

From Yahoo and the "Aw, Shucks" Department:

"MIAMI (Reuters) - The shadow of President Bush seemed to loom large over his younger brother on Wednesday, as the outgoing Florida governor ruled out any plans to return to elected office.

"No tengo futuro (I have no future),"Jeb Bush told Spanish-language reporters in Miami, when asked about any possible political ambitions after he steps down next month. . ."

Labor's Candidate:Edwards?

From Firedoglake: ". . .First of all, Novak spits out the word "labor" with a level of contempt generally reserved for child molesters — he's such a friend of big money that the thought of workers having rights must be physically painful for him – so anything he is saying that is alleged to be coming from the mouths of big labor's leadership? Call me skeptical. But Novak does understand power — and labor can put a lot of muscle behind a candidate in the Democratic party — so what is his motivation for discussing potential endorsement angles this early?

What Novak is saying about Edwards potentially having some heavyweight support from labor is accurate from what I have been hearing — in terms of the support part. Edwards' "Two America's" speech stands out as one of the few moments where poverty and questions of economic fairness were even discussed at any level in the public square. (And the policy questions which were posited in that speech have been explored more thoroughly with some pilot poverty programs through the One America foundation that the Edwards family set up after the 2004 loss.). . ."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Low Power Minimum Wage

Speaking of last week's Bush radio address and the good news for working families segment, Bob Geiger (via "Bush Throws a Bone to Working Families" at the Smirking Chimp) says:

It's a good thing the Hypocrite-in-Chief used a relative phrase like "…paychecks going farther than they used to" or he would be lying yet again. The fact is, the buying power of the minimum wage is at its lowest point in 50 years and no amount of out-of-touch, presidential spin will change that.

And, on the subject of the minimum wage, I wonder if Bush thinks much about how much more "holiday cheer" would exist among today's working families if he had shown some leadership and insisted that his rubber-stampers in the Republican Congress support a hike in the minimum wage instead of rejected it three times in just the last two years.

But I guess that would require Bush to realize that people tend to have greater feelings of holiday joy when they're not working 40 hours a week to live in poverty.

A point, indeed.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lest We Forget, Clinton Edition

Also from Huffington Post:

On the Eighth Anniversary of President Clinton's Impeachment

Joseph A. Palermo

Eight years ago, on December 19, 1998, the House of Representatives impeached President William Jefferson Clinton. On that day, amidst the holiday decorations and office parties, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, with Tom DeLay leading the charge, voted to approve two out of four Articles of Impeachment that the Judiciary Committee had sent to the House floor. . ."

Vets Losers In GOP Congress

Bob Geiger has done some number crunching at HuffPo involving bills rejected by the GOP Congress (also a very interesting analysis on national security issues):

". . .Here's some examples of Democratic legislation that was killed by the Senate GOP majority in 2006:

  • Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) proposed S.Amdt. 3007 to "increase Veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in FY 2007 to be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes." It was voted down 46-54 with every Republican but Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) voting against it.
  • S.Amdt. 3141, was proposed by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to provide for Veterans benefits that steadily increased over time to account for both inflation and the large number of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Stabenow's bill was rejected 46-54 -- probably because she stipulated that it be "paid for by restoring the pre-2001 top rate for income over $1 million, closing corporate tax loopholes and delaying tax cuts for the wealthy."
  • John Kerry (D-MA) who has consistently been a Veterans advocate, proposed S.Amdt. 3143, to keep medical-care fees and co-pays from going up on military retirees, only to see it shot down by the Republicans.
  • Two measures by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) -- S. Amdt. 4999 and S.Amdt. 3054 -- were proposed to provide additional funding to increase inspections at America's shipping ports and to improve the security of cargo containers destined for the United States. Both were killed on party line votes that saw only Jim Talent (R-MO) cross the aisle to vote with Democrats on one of the bills.
  • Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced S.Amdt. 4587, to boost transit security funding in major cities by $300 million and saw it rejected by the Republican majority.
  • America's firefighters had a friend in Chris Dodd (D-CT) who proposed S.Amdt. 4641 in July " fund urgent priorities for our Nation's firefighters, law enforcement personnel, emergency medical personnel," but saw it go down on the Senate floor because he proposed paying for it "by reducing the tax breaks for individuals with annual incomes in excess of $1,000,000" -- obviously the kiss of death in a GOP-controlled Congress.
  • Byron Dorgan (D-ND) proposed S.Amdt. 4292, to thoroughly weed out fraud and war profiteering among big Republican donors like Halliburton and had it defeated 44-52, with only one Republican -- Lincoln Chafee again -- siding with Democrats, troops and American taxpayers.
And it goes on and on from there... We know how hard the Republicans have fought against an increase in the minimum wage, but they also came out hard against another effort by Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to increase college Pell grants and job training programs. In addition, the GOP saw to it that a measure by Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), to foster greater American fuel efficiency via "... foreign oil replacement with biofuels and alternative fuels and advanced/hybrid vehicle use" was rejected 46-54. . ."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Draft Proposal

Tim Ryan Flogs White House

Video Description

Democrat Tim Ryan from Ohio kicks the Bush Administration. He was responding to why young people think the Administration will institute a draft despite their denials.

Sen. Clinton Flakked By Hacks

In a post entitled "Voyeur Journalism" Taylor Marsh raises her hackles: ". . .The journalistic hack pack is back. But this time instead of obsessing about Nancy Pelosi before she's even been sworn in, the Washington Post's Lynne Duke is dripping with tantalizing tidbits about some future fantasy fixation of voters focusing on the Big Dog and all his bad boy deeds. Never mind his wife, who just happens to be a second term United States Senator who might be the first female to run for president. Let's make it all about him and his, er, well you know. Of course, we can't forget to insinuate that even though he's bad, she's just not him. The woman just can't win. Yeah, they say that too, but that trails back to him as well.

Can voters look at Bill without thinking of sex?

The real question is whether the filth fulminators of the fourth estate will let them.

Patrick Healy of The New York Times has no intention of keeping his eye away from the Clinton peep hole. But it looks like he's got company. However, one does wonder why no one is writing these types of stories day in and day out about Rudy marrying one of his cousins. Or that McCain was a serial womanizer for years. Or that Newt asked his wife for a divorce when she was recovering from cancer. You know the story. Instead, it's all about the Big Dog, over and over and over again, hoping to make a bank shot that hits his powerful wife.

It's the Rick Lazio confrontation method. Remember during the debate when he tried to shove a sheet of paper down Hillary's podium? But if the press keeps this up what they're going to do is get the voters, especially women, to turn against them and towards the very woman they're trying to smear. . ."

By the way, will everyone quit dissing the woman by calling her "Hillary?" Is she your second cousin or something? Do you know her? I don't; so, therefore, she is either "Clinton" or "Sen. Clinton" if I need to separate her from her other half. The tone of familiarity is not conducive to helping her image methinks.

More Righteous Gayness

John Dicker via HuffPo:

"Looks like Pastor Ted Haggard, the fallen, meth-snorting, gay hooker-hiring moralist, and founder of New Life Church has a pastor falling in his footsteps...

Details are still somewhat fuzzy but Pastor Ted's New Life Church announced the resignation of another executive staff member, Christopher Beard, for sexual misconduct. . ." for more click.

Good News From Iran

via The New York Times:

"TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's biggest reformist party said on Monday President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had suffered a ``decisive defeat'' in nationwide elections last week due to his government's ``authoritarian and inefficient methods.''

The government's spokesman countered that by saying the government had no favored candidates in Friday's twin votes for local councils and a powerful clerical body known as the Assembly of Experts and was happy to work with the winners.

Political analysts said the elections, the first since Ahmadinejad's stunning 2005 presidential win, would have no immediate impact on policy in the Islamic state where Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the last word on all matters.

But a poor showing for allies of the anti-Western president could give a stronger voice to more moderate voices in decision-making in future. . ."

Big Bucks Reefer reports:"SACRAMENTO — For years, activists in the marijuana legalization movement have claimed that cannabis is America's biggest cash crop. Now they're citing government statistics to prove it.

A report released today by a marijuana public policy analyst contends that the market value of pot produced in the U.S. exceeds $35 billion — far more than the crop value of such heartland staples as corn, soybeans and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops. . ."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Higher (and Lower) Ed Scam Game

From HuffPo:

Believing the Worst About Schools: A Lack of Logic From Sputnik to Tough Choices

Gerald Bracey

'There is a cottage industry in this country that generates reports devoted to keeping Americans anxious about the future and laying the responsibility for that future on the schools which are never working as they should be. The latest of these scare tactics, Tough Choices or Tough Times, might be the dumbest, least democratic, least reality-based of them all.

The notion that America's schools determine the nation's future developed just after World War II . . .

. . .The schools were hit from time to time in the 1960's and 1970's with other critical reports, but the next big bombshell blew up in 1983, A Nation At Risk. The commissioners who wrote this golden treasury of selected, spun and distorted statistics were, like many Americans at the time, convinced that other nations, especially Japan, were going to eat our economic lunch. . .

The report [Tough Choices] throughout emphasizes the importance of creativity and imagination, but it calls for kids to be tracked into different institutions after 10th grade based on scores from tests that cannot measure creativity or imagination. . .

. . .The nation currently has 9 cashiers, 6 waiters and 5+ janitors for every computer programmer and it has no shortage of programmers. I want some of the commissioners' mushrooms.

This report is another smoke and mirrors trick in what I have come to call the High Skills Hoax, a subject to be dealt with as a separate blog entry."

The High Skills Hoax is a good name for the higher education shell game that has resulted in a relentless but unnecessary "raising of the bar" for many kinds of employment. Careers that required six weeks of training twenty years ago now require two-year college degrees. Four year degrees in some cases have escalated all the way to Ph.D's. And no, that is not necessarily indicative of rising job complexity; computerization, if it is worth worth anything at all on the job, has resulted in jobs requiring less expertise, not more, for most positions. That, of course, is a controversial statement and certainly open to debate. What is not debatable, I don't think, is that expectations for students have been raised so high that virtually no one can meet the standards. What every employers wants is a 19 year old Ph.D with 15 years of experience willing to work 60 hours per week for minimum wage with no benefits, trained to be completely docile and subservient in the work place.

A few years ago I was privy to a locker room conversation between two elderly gentlemen who were lamenting endlessly that today's high school students were worthless beyond the pale; their prime example was one hapless 15 year old who- horrors!- didn't know what the Battle of Anzio was. I challenged the two to give me the low-down on the War of Jenkin's Ear. Neither could. My point to them was that it is easy to remember history if you lived through it; the lack of specific historical knowledge is not necessarily an indication that the schools are going to Hell in a handbasket. I would wager that I could ask the same question of typical tenth graders, including that huge dropout percentage, from 1940 and get similar results.

Then there is always the technology rub-- the typical high schooler today is so much more at ease with various kinds of technology than the WW II generation that the two skill-sets are not even in the same galaxy. However, few of today's students could skin a rabbit and a huge number are befuddled about something like changing a tire.

Every generation has its trade-offs. Mr. Bracey offers an effective post exposing one of the evil trade-offs the Dark Side is trying to foist on the Republic: privatization of education. We already have far too much of that and if this Republic is to long endure it must have three institutions: civil rights for all, a military draft for all, and free public education for all.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Late Afternoon Snippet Fest

Bible verses not often spoken, preached, or otherwise thought about. The "say something nice about Bill O'Reilly" contest-- it is a difficult task. Bolton hearts the U.N. "The drug maker Eli Lilly has engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa" --- from the Not Good Department.

"Curb the First!" sayeth the Toad. More curbing: "John McCain has made clear that he doesn’t like the blogosphere.

Now he has introduced legislation that would treat blogs like Internet service providers and hold them responsible for all activity in the comments sections and user profiles. Some highlights of the legislation:" click here.

Are Safer Yet?

From Crooks and Liars:
"Cutting and Running at DHS


With all the Bush Administration bluster about border security, you'd think that keeping track of the comings and goings of non-citizens might be a high priority. But given that FEMA — which is supposed to be taking care of our own citizens — can't even develop a computer program to track whether Katrina victims are getting housing assistance, should it be surprising that the Department of Homeland Security has squandered over a billion dollars on the U.S. VISIT program, and then decided to scrap a major part of it?

But that's par for the course for DHS, which bleeds over $10 billion to government contractors a year, when a lot of them just take the money and run. That is, they start the project, and then they throw up their hands and say it can't be done. Screw the public, which is footing the bill without a money-back guarantee. Even if the project is a "top priority", as DHS claims U.S. VISIT is.

DHS has decided that it's just too complicated and expensive to develop the technology to track who's leaving the country (and, in the case of people overstaying their visas, who's not). Now I'm no anti-immigration nut and am certainly not a fan of the biometric technology, like the facial, fingerprint or iris recognition techology that was under consideration for the U.S. VISIT program. But this story really isn't about border security. It's about corruption and our broken government. Read on…

International Herald Tribune has more on the VISIT program. On a related note, DHS will start requiring passports for all travel outside the US starting in 2007, touting the new e-passports for tracking and security purposes. One problem: they're easily cloned. Is there nothing about "homeland security" at which they aren't completely inept? Feel safer, folks? "

Not Hopeless


"From sleeping on the streets to Wall Street
By Taylor Gandossy

(CNN) -- He is now rich several times over, but Christopher Gardner once walked San Francisco's streets homeless, pushing his toddler son and their belongings in a stroller.

It wasn't that Gardner didn't have a job. He did; in 1982, he was in a stockbroker trainee program, with a $1,000 a month stipend. But he also was a single father trying to pay for diapers, day care and food for two. And the rooming house where he was living when his girlfriend brought him his young son, well, it didn't let kids stay there.

As he once said, he was homeless, but not hopeless. . ."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ghosts of 'Nam

For this first time since the Vietnam era, a robust movement of organized active-duty U.S. military has surfaced to oppose a war while still in course.

From Marc Cooper and HuffPo: Exclusive: Active Duty Troops Organize to Oppose The War

"Hundreds of U.S. soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen -- many of them currently serving on the front lines in Iraq-- are formally petitioning Congress to end the war in Iraq and bring the troops home.

After the so-called Appeal For Redress materialized just a handful of weeks ago, almost 1,000 active-duty personnel have signed on, including dozens of officers. The voice of hundreds of active-duty soldiers joining the anti-war movement brings enormous moral clout to the effort to get the troops home.

Read the story as well as excerpts from interviews of participating troops and officers by clicking here."

Noon Snippet Fest, Part 3

The NYT says: "Morgan Stanley gave its chief executive, John J. Mack, $40 million in stock and options for 2006, the largest bonus ever awarded to a Wall Street chief. But the record may be short-lived as press reports and analysts are predicting even bigger rewards for the C.E.O.s of rival investment banks. . ." Well, ain't that just special. Starving kids, failing schools, body armor. . . sigh.

Would Jesus surf at AOL (via AP) ?' Group Enlists Pastor in New Anti-Wal-Mart Ad LITTLE ROCK (Dec. 14) - A new television ad by the union-backed group features a pastor asking, "Would Jesus shop at Wal-Mart? Should you?"'

Left Behind Killer Video Games flayed at FireDogLake: ". . .Since we now have a President whose desire to measure wartime success by body count is indicative of someone who has probably spent more time playing Ultimate Doom than reading French existential literature (despite protestations to the contrary), I think we can all see the potential danger here. Which is why it is such a shock that WalMart, who wouldn't carry John Stewart's America: The Book because John Paul Stevens' dong was too long, ignores continued cries to stop peddling religious violence for Christmas.

As a former member of WalMart's board , Hillary Clinton is in a particularly good position to get the ears of those who could save the children and stop the madness. We await her critical foray into this terrible, terrible problem."

Civil liberties! You don't need no steenking civil liberties (from AMERICABlog):"Not that this should surprise anyone. From Wired:

The first public meeting of a Bush administration "civil liberties protection panel" had a surreal quality to it, as the five-member board refused to answer any questions from the press, and stonewalled privacy advocates and academics on key questions about domestic spying.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which met Tuesday, was created by Congress in 2004 on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, but is part of the White House, which handpicked all the members. Though mandated by law in late 2004, the board was not sworn in until March 2006, due to inaction on the part of the White House and Congress. . ."

Unions are the future. Taylor Marsh talks about my favorite: ". . .
John Edwards is talking about something that matters, not only to people struggling, but to the entire American way of life. As the middle class goes so goes this country. With the new Congress elected and so many populists now in office, John Edwards is telling a tale that will have many people jumping on board; mainly because they're already waiting for that train to visit their state."

Tuning out. Back to work.

Marsh Questions President McCain

". . .McCain wants more troops and it looks like he's going to get them.

So where does that leave the American people?

No one is listening to us. We the People are supposed to have the power to change the course of our own country. We put these politicians in power. Bush serves because he got the most votes, but doesn't he have a duty to listen?

What about McCain? This man wants to be president, but he's also showing that he will not listen to those who put him in office if given the opportunity.

It's time to ask a simple question. With our troops in the middle of a civil war, why are they being asked to solve the Iraqi's inner strife? Is it not immoral to ask this of our troops, who signed on to protect American, not some country that now has voted, has a government, but still cannot get along amongst themselves?

The November elections sent a clear signal, one that Mr. Bush is ignoring. Senator McCain is too. Now we've got a senate that could be, once again, in Mr. Bush's hands if Senator Johnson is too ill to continue his Senate duties.

Right now the senator from the great state of South Dakota is in critical condition. That is also the condition of Iraq, America and the situation in which the troops find themselves. We have no control anymore. The power may have already shifted back to Bush and his fat cats."

Let Sleeping Bushes Lie


People's interviewer also mentioned that readers had asked if he takes sleep aids. Bush said generally not, but he does occasionally when he travels.

"I must tell you, I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume," he said.

Liberal Avenger On Malkin

"Malkin announces that she’s going to Baghdad

December 14th, 2006 by LA

Oh, this is rich!

Malkin is so concerned about the Associated Press’ efforts to make things look “really bad” in Iraq when things are really actually going really well, that she has accepted Eason Jordan’s invitation to send her to Iraq. . ."

Hmm. We'll see about that.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Noon Snippet Fest, Part 2

Blogger Beta annoyance continues via snippet posts:

Newsvine reports that "WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is clamping down on scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, the latest agency subjected to controls on research that might go against official policy. . ."

Solar terrorists at work: "Solar bursts prompt station crews : A violent solar explosion sent a dangerous wave of radiation through space late Tuesday, prompting NASA to order the crews of Discovery and the International Space Station to take shelter overnight. . ." sez Flordia Today.

Liberal Oasis reports "Yesterday, Dem Sen. Ron Wyden proposed a universal health insurance plan, flanked by the head of the Service Employees International Union and the CEO of Safeway. . ."

TPMCafe says Edwards leading the pack:"We now have our first poll out of Iowa — and it finds that Dem insiders in Iowa are the only ones hedging on Tom Vilsack. Iowa voters, are, too. The Des Moines Register reports that a new poll by Harstad Strategic Research finds Vilsack's support at a measly 9%, while the leader of the field is Edwards, with 36%. The two big political "rock stars" of the moment, interestingly, trailed way behind Edwards, with Hillary Clinton at 16%, and Barack Obama at 13% — but at least those two can say they're ahead of Vilsack. If these numbers hold up, pretty soon the donors will start closing their wallets and the insiders will suggest that he's not long for the race." Edwards/Clark '08!

Long Time Dying

Yahoo News:

"2-dose Fla. execution sparks criticism

By RON WORD, Associated Press Writer

STARKE, Fla. - Death penalty opponents criticized the execution of a convicted murderer who took more than half an hour to die and needed a rare second dose of lethal chemicals.

Angel Nieves Diaz, 55, convicted of murdering a Miami topless bar manager 27 years ago, appeared to grimace before dying Wednesday, 34 minutes after the first dose.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said she doesn't believe Diaz felt any pain and had liver disease, which required the second dose. . ."

Don't think a grimace rises to the heights of torture (or cruel and unusual).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oil Choices

Charles Karel Bouley in the Huffington Post:

Warnings? Warnings? The Words Shove It Come To Mind

". . .OK, America, it's time we make a choice, and this means our corporate leaders and our government leaders. Either we get off the tit of oil all together, right away, starting in 2007, or we lay in bed with these people. And I, for one, want out. Build nuclear plants in the U.S. We'll make them safe. We'll have to. Other nations do. Explore other areas of fuel. Get the Oil Tar fields in Canada going much faster. Sacrifice. Yes. Sacrifice. Rolling blackouts. Limited travel. Whatever. It's worth it to get away from being in bed with these people. I am sick of them telling us what to do, because they hold the cache of our drug of choice. . ."

Terrorists In Space

Yahoo sez:

"WASHINGTON - The Bush administration warned Wednesday against threats by terrorist groups and other nations against U.S. commercial and military satellites, and discounted the need for a treaty aimed at preventing an arms race in space.

Undersecretary of State Robert G. Joseph also reasserted U.S. policy that it has a right to use force against hostile nations or terror groups that might try to attack American satellites or ground installations that support space programs.

President Bush adopted a new U.S. space policy earlier this year. . ."

One can only assume that terrorists living in caves without running water would catapult camels at DirecTV satellites, upstaging sunspots as the new worry for Dexter-interruptis.

Swifties Roasted With Fines

from TPMuckraker:
"FEC Fines Swift Boat Vets $300K

Is the era of the millionaire-backed attack group coming to an end?

The Federal Election Commission hit the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth with a $299,500 fine today for playing too fast with election rules. The Swift Boat Vets were a "527" organization, which has no limits on contributions, but were acting like federal political committees, the FEC charged. 527s are allowed to work for or against certain candidates, but if they have no other "major purpose," according to FEC spokesman Bob Biersack, then they should register as a committee.

That's a huge difference. Committees can only accept $5,000 in contributions per person per year. The Swift Boat Vets, by comparison, accepted $4.4 million from GOP money man Bob Perry in 2004. Perry played the same trick in this year's election, throwing $9 million at three different 527 attack groups, which used it to target dozens of Democratic congressional candidates all over the country. Democrats have also taken advantage of 527s, and two liberal groups were fined today: MoveOn and the League of Conservation Voters. . ."


One More In Extra Innings

Off The Kuff reports:

". . .U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla conceded defeat to former congressman Ciro Rodriguez in a stunning upset that completed the Democratic takeover of Congress.

The Republican incumbent lost Bexar County for the first time in his political career Tuesday night, and trailed Rodriguez, his Democratic challenger, in total votes across the sprawling Congressional District 23.

The Associated Press called the election for Rodriguez shortly before 9 p.m. Bonilla telephoned Rodriguez to concede around that time, according to his spokesman, Phil Ricks.

So that would make the score Democrats 36, Publicans 0.

Deciding Delayed

No one wants to be the last man to die for a delay. . . From the New York Times:

"WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 — The White House said Tuesday that President Bush would delay presenting any new strategy for Iraq until early next year, as officials suggested that Mr. Bush’s advisers were locked in internal debates on several fronts about how to proceed.

The absence of an immediate new American plan for Iraq is adding to anxiety among Iraq’s moderate neighbors, who identify with the country’s minority Sunni Arab population, and has opened the way for new proposals from many quarters, in Iraq as well as in Washington, about the next steps. But several administration officials said Mr. Bush had concluded that the decisions about troops, political pressure and diplomacy were too complicated to rush in order to lay out a plan to the nation before Christmas. . ."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Vile Inker Busted (Again)

From Raw Story we learn that Mallard Fillmore's creator has been busted again:

"Hoosier Edward Bruce Tinsley, creator of the conservative comic strip Mallard Fillmore, was arrested in Columbus Dec. 4 and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence -- his second alcohol-related arrest in less that four months, according to the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department.

Tinsley, 48, who lives in Columbus, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.14 -- almost twice the level at which an Indiana driver is considered intoxicated. He posted $755 bond. On Aug. 26, Tinsley was arrested for public intoxication, according to the sheriff's department.

Mallard Fillmore, about a conservative duck, appears in almost 400 newspapers nationwide, including The Indianapolis Star. . ."

Noon Blog Fest Snippet Doodle

. . . or why Beta Blogger has disrupted my work flow.

Why our food supply is always, it seems, contaminated with something. Yep. It's the Publicans again.

French honor an American spy.

Too much preaching and promotin' in the military.

Liberal flightless birds of the frozen south enthuse wingnutia.

The Hammer blogs. Don't go there.

Actor212 explains why women like the handsome stranger.

Enron Crook Won't Go To Prison

"HOUSTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court will allow ex-Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling to stay out of prison while it considers granting him bail, according to a report published on the Wall Street Journal's Web site on Monday.

Skilling was scheduled to report to a federal prison in Minnesota on Tuesday to begin a 24-year sentence for his role in hiding Enron's financial condition from investors as the company's fortunes eroded prior to its 2001 collapse. . ."

Well, isn't that just damn special.

Hot To Trot In Colorado

... or more gay preachers outed. From Shakespeare's Sister comes the bottom line:
I love this response from the associate pastor at Barnes' former church when asked if this situation would "expose the evangelical community to further charges of hypocrisy":

'". . .The criticism is valid if you look at perfection being the mark, because the next person who stands at our pulpit is going to be guilty of not being perfect as well," he said. "Does that mean we have to change what we say about the word of God? We can't do that."
Well, actually, you can. There was a time when the word of God supposedly justified slavery, for instance—and I bet you're not preaching that these days. But aside from that, it's not what you say that's the problem—it's more the fact that you're pursuing/supporting discriminatory legislation based on your beliefs, which is predicated on judgment, condemnation, and punishment, all of which are meant to be left up to the Almighty according to the same book you cite as justification for hating on the gays. Just keep your damn noses out of other people's business, and I think you'll find that a lot fewer people give a crap what you say about the word of God from your own pulpit.'

Monday, December 11, 2006

Huffy ISG Snark

Huffington at HuffPo:

"Good News, Everybody: We've Got a New Iraq Slogan!

Not surprisingly, the Bush administration is already backing away from most of the proposals put forth by the Iraq Study Group. The New York Times, with unintended comic irony, noted it this way: "Administration officials say their preliminary review of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's recommendations has concluded that many of its key proposals are impractical or unrealistic." Thank God we have George Bush to protect us from doing anything impractical or unrealistic in the Middle East. . .

. . .Bush may not be into things like facts, truth, or reality, but he loves a good slogan.

So while Bush may not like any of the Group's 79 proposals (so impractical and unrealistic), he's ready to adopt its slogan, "New Way Forward." Newsweek says that next week "Bush is expected to announce what he calls 'The New Way Forward,' his latest plan to salvage the mission in Iraq.

Of course, that's been the problem during this entire fiasco -- the substitution of rhetoric for policy -- the belief, even at this late date, that reality can be changed simply by changing the language used to describe it. Bush makes a big show of his religious faith, but what's truly impressive is his incredible faith in the power of PR, and, accordingly, his lack of faith in the American people. . ."

Bomb Iran On The Way Out

Fred Barnes hopes the “lame Duck” Bush bombs Iran on the way out the door

From C&L:

"Barnes:…and the day before he leavers office—carry out the military option in Iran. Wipe out their nuclear facilities….

That's just wonderful. Bomb Iran and leave it for the next president to clean up. That's the type of spot on analysis that makes Fred Barnes a true American hero. Memo to John Carroll. I wasn't being serious by calling Fred Barnes a hero."

Get Out Now!


"Leave Iraq Now
Joe Galloway | December 08, 2006
After nearly four years of living in what can be charitably described as a state of denial, everyone in Washington, from President Bush to the Baker Commission to incoming defense secretary Robert Gates, to outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to the study group assembled by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has finally admitted that pretty much nothing is going right in Iraq.


Our president, who froze the whole process of planning and fighting a war by declaring that he was "staying the course" even when the course was obviously wrong, finally abandoned those words, if not his dogged pursuit of "victory" in a place which has denied victory to a string of foreign invaders dating back to Alexander the Great. . ."

Fox Flakes Flogged

'After enduring years of posturing on Iraq by Fox’s Brit Hume and the National Review’s Bill Kristol on the Fox News Sunday roundtable, Juan Williams reached his limit. This morning, Williams said, “Sometimes I just want to scream. You guys have been going on since this thing began.”Williams noted that Hume and Kristol “don’t give credit to people…who said from the start this is a mistake.” Instead, “now it’s everybody’s a surrender monkey or impatient or squeamish or weak.”' Video at the link.

Who's Serious?

"It remains the case that the primary prerequisite for being considered "serious" on matters of foreign policy and national security is that you were wrong on the most momentous foreign policy and national security decision of the last few decades. If your judgment was faulty, your understanding lacking, your foresight non-existent, your ideology blinding, then you are someone whose opinions should be listened to. If you supported what may be the single biggest foreign policy debacle in our nation's history, you are "serious." That disastrous error in judgment, which has so far resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 U.S. troops, also makes you "strong on defense," not to mention "pro-military" and someone who "supports the troops."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Take The Test

A Quiz for Lawmakers

"by emptywheel

Jeff Stein tells us that the rising Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Silvestre Reyes, doesn't know whether Al Qaeda and Hezbollah are predominantly made up of Shiite or Sunni Muslims. Well, the BCIS has decided to revamp the test required of applicants for citizenship. So I think we, the blogosphere, should put together our own new test--fifty questions a legislator should be able to answer correctly before he or she can vote on laws relating to those subjects. I've made a start below. Once we get a bunch I plan to put this into a document and send it to Pelosi and Reid. Hell--at the very least, maybe they can get their legislators to cram for the quiz so they don't sound quite so embarrassing in interviews. . ." Click to take the test.

Peter Beinert, Your Bad

(Grammar troll: no, I intended the post to say "Your" not "You're." You figure it out.)

Taylor Marsh has something to say:Peter Beinert Can Kiss My ...:
". . .And the next time a supposed Democrat talks about Iraq being OUR mistake, the entire progressive blogosphere needs to unload on the hapless ass. I've had enough of these supposed 'hawks' who have no clue what the word means. See James Webb, or look into the eyes of our military men and women who are now being handed another load of crap from the Iraq Study Group, the Pentagon and whatever other face saving organization with a piece of paper and a plan; all of whom have been charged with one mission: saving President Pathetic.

Get lost, Peter, and take the rest of the cowardly, change course, without actually changing course, crowd with you when you leave."

Darwin Drank Milk

Study Detects Recent Instance of Human Evolution - New York Times: "By NICHOLAS WADE
Published: December 10, 2006

A surprisingly recent instance of human evolution has been detected among the peoples of East Africa. It is the ability to digest milk in adulthood, conferred by genetic changes that occurred as recently as 3,000 years ago, a team of geneticists has found.

The finding is a striking example of a cultural practice — the raising of dairy cattle — feeding back into the human genome. It also seems to be one of the first instances of convergent human evolution to be documented at the genetic level. Convergent evolution refers to two or more populations acquiring the same trait independently.

Throughout most of human history, the ability to digest lactose, the principal sugar of milk, has been switched off after weaning because there is no further need for the lactase enzyme that breaks the sugar apart. But when cattle were first domesticated 9,000 years ago and people later started to consume their milk as well as their meat, natural selection would have favored anyone with a mutation that kept the lactase gene switched on. . ."

Lonely, Knowing Guy

Bush Aides Seek Alternatives to Iraq Study Group’s Proposals, Calling Them Impractical - New York Times: "Andrew H. Card Jr., the president’s chief of staff until last spring, said that whatever Mr. Bush did in Iraq would probably fall short of many of the commission’s recommendations, and that he was likely to continue making decisions that he believed were right even if unpopular. Referring to Mr. Bush’s secret intelligence briefings, Mr. Card said, “The president by definition knows more than any of those people who are serving on these panels. . .”

The opportunities for comedy are approaching galactic proportions.

“The president’s obligations sometimes require him to be very lonely,” he said."

Corrupt College Faculty

College instructor accused of trading grades for cash - "NEW YORK (AP) -- A computer science lab instructor at a community college changed students' grades for cash and wine and told a student to lie before a grand jury in an attempt to cover up his lucrative scheme, prosecutors said.

Elvin Escano was charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records, computer tampering and forgery, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Escano, 46, was arrested Wednesday after a six-month investigation. He was arraigned and was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

In a statement, Brown said Escano used his position over a 29-month period as an instructor and lab technician at LaGuardia Community College to inflate student grades for courses and exams: In exchange for better grades, students gave him cash payments ranging from $200 to $2,500 or items such as wine and alcohol . . ."

Bad News Dem

Scandal-hit Jefferson wins Louisiana runoff - "NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- U.S. Rep. William Jefferson easily defeated his fellow Democratic opponent in a runoff election Saturday, despite an ongoing federal bribery investigation.

In complete but unofficial returns, Jefferson, Louisiana's first black congressman since Reconstruction, received 57 percent of the vote over state Rep. Karen Carter, who had 43 percent.

Carter was unable to capitalize on a scandal that included allegations the FBI found $90,000 in bribe money in Jefferson's freezer. . ."

Say It Ain't So!

There Is No Blog: No Bait and Switch, Nancy: "No Bait and Switch, Nancy
It's hard to believe, but the Democratic bait-and-switch on progressives has already begun over a month before our Majority congress takes office. Fresh on the heels of her famous promise to make this next Congress most ethical congress ever, the capitulations to corruption and the backtracking on ethics vows have already begun.

According to the New York Times, it appears that Democrats are having trouble figuring out whether they should really and truly ban privately funded trips as they promised the voters--or whether they should just pretend to ban them and leave enough loopholes in place that nothing really changes. . ."

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bogus 9/11 Film Out Again

AMERICAblog: A blog for a great nation that deserves the truth: "Disney/ABC showing unedited defamatory version of 'Path to 9/11' around country
by John in DC - 12/09/2006 04:44:00 PM

Well, American Airlines, Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger take notice. The original, unedited, factually incorrect and defamatory version of the Disney/ABC fictitious account of 9/11 is now touring the country. The nerve of them to use the original unedited version, when the version was edited because it was factually incorrect about what actually happened.

Disney/ABC hired a right-winger to make this movie and they got what they paid for, a right-wing hit job. It's still surprising that Disney and ABC continue to augment their defamation damage the movie did by continuing to broadcast the portions they now know to be incorrect and defamatory."

GOP Senator Blasts Congress

GOP senator upbraids colleagues - The Boston Globe: "WASHINGTON -- Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire yesterday used his last major floor speech as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee to blast his own party's leadership in Congress, accusing Republican leaders of engaging in the type of fiscal recklessness that he said led voters to oust the GOP from power. . .

"The American people took the reins of government away from the Republican Party relative to the Republican Congress in this last election," Gregg said in a speech on the Senate floor. "They did so, I think, in large part because they were tired of our hypocrisy as a party on the issue of fiscal responsibility. And it would appear that their concerns are justified. It is true, I guess."

Gregg went on to say that Democrats will also probably be irresponsible stewards of the nation's finances, "but at least they won't be hypocritical about it. . ."

The Real Left Behind

The Blog | Gerald Bracey: Things Fall Apart: No Child Left Behind Self-Destructs | The Huffington Post: "For the record, my first anti-No Child Left Behind (NCLB) article was commissioned by Newsday in late 2000 and published January 28, 2001. At the time, NCLB was a no-name plan, the administration not yet having ripped off the slogan of the Children's Defense Fund. But even then I saw not a great civil rights act as some, but yet another Orwellian double-speak program like Clear Skies, Clean Waters, and Healthy Forests--a program to accomplish the opposite of its avowed intent . . .

. . .But as the law enters its fifth year, even its supporters can no longer ignore that the law is imploding. On November 30, Frederick Hess, Education Director for the American Enterprise Institute and Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation convened a conference, "Fixing Failing Schools: Are the Tools in the NCLB Toolkit Working?" I attended.

After the first four presentations, moderator Finn declared that instead of providing sweet cakes and coffee, "I should be handing out mood altering pharmaceuticals, those that deal with depression." No later presentations offered anything to elevate Finn's mood as one scholar after another delivered evidence on this failed provision or that failed provision and the law's failure to accomplish its stated goal: to elevate the achievement of poor children and minorities. . ."