Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Creative Advertising

posted by Jazz at 1/29/2005 04:44:00 PM

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This guy has come up with a fairly creative and quite possibly insane way to make some extra money.

The Next Big Thing, according to 31-year-old Joe Tamargo: The body is a billboard.

Tamargo, who runs a Web site LivingAdSpace.com, has started a new enterprise, selling advertisers the opportunity to permanently tattoo their messages on his body.

After posting his offer on eBay, the responses began to trickle in.

Two advertisers earned spots on his right arm -- and put a little more than $1,000 in his pocket. A California pharmaceutical company last week posted an ad for pilldaddy.com for $500. On Thursday, Tamargo earned $510 to have "Save Martha! It's a good thing. SaveMartha.com" permanently etched farther down the same arm.

I wonder if that's a one time payment, or if they have to keep paying every year? And more to the point, if they don't pay up, how does he pull the ad?

Something in the air

posted by Jazz at 1/29/2005 02:40:00 PM

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Sorry for the lack of posts this morning, but the Saturday project is coming to fruition. The house smells absolutely amazing right now. After I asked for people to submit chili recipies, I got quite a few of them. (Thank you!) I'll likely try them all, but you have to start someplace. I took one of them and spent quite a while doing all the prep cooking and am now within a couple hours of having a crockpot full of amazing chili.

Since I didn't get permission to post the recipie or say who sent it, you'll have to use your imagination. But I will say that this recipie won the coveted first place spot in the somebody's office chili cookoff competition. Mmmm... frying up a bunch of peppers and garlic and onions just starts the day off right. The beef and sausage and everything else are making me drool.

Rain Delay

posted by Jazz at 1/29/2005 09:20:00 AM

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Ok... it's not raining. But posting is going to be a bit late. Today brings a nasty shock. At my age, going out to celebrate my best friend's birthday and drinking truly awful shots of polish liquor until 2 a.m. is NOT a good idea.

But, this is also cooking day. I'll update in a bit, but I'm bravely launching into one of the chili recipies I received this morning. Cross your fingers and hope I don't blow up the house.

They are dead. And George Bush killed them

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/29/2005 09:12:00 AM

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Harry Browne, the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000 talks about the Iraq war and our psychopathic President in Why I Am Obsessed With War.
George Bush was reinaugurated in Washington last week. Fittingly, the inauguration parade route was lined the entire way with armed guards - so many armed guards that they had to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. As with the rest of America, Washington, D.C. was in a state of siege.

The militant air of the entire affair was very much like a parade in the old Soviet Union or even in Nazi Germany.
And he used the word "freedom" but was really talking about world domination.
And in his speech, George Bush proclaimed his desire for world domination - to have the power and the right to decide who is good and who is bad, who shall live and who shall die, what form of government will exist in each nation.

He made it clear that if he has a use for your government, you will keep it - no matter how oppressive.

But if your government doesn't suit him, if it declares its independence from the United States, we will "liberate" your country and impose what we call "democracy" on it - no matter how advanced your civilization, no matter how much or how little your people may approve of your current form of government.
Like the word "freedom", the word "sacrifice" becomes meaningless when it comes from the mouth of George W. Bush.
A January 21st editorial in The Wall Street Journal summed up George Bush's inauguration speech very neatly:

The entire speech was about Iraq, as a way of explaining to Americans why the sacrifice our troops are making there is justified.

Aye, and there's the rub.

Troops don't sacrifice. Only individuals can sacrifice. For some of them, the sacrifice is a year out of their lives. For others, the sacrifice is in living for a year or more in constant fear and danger.

But for too many, the sacrifice is one's life. The loss of one's whole life.

[.......]

George Bush can speak cavalierly about such sacrifices. He can say "freedom is always worth it." He can speak with gratitude about such sacrifices - because he is making no sacrifice whatsoever.

[.......]

He can’t return to a mother her dead son. He can't return to a wife her dead husband. He can't bring a dead soldier back to raise his children. He can't do anything to restore what he has stolen from people with his glib assurances about WMDs, mobile bioweapons labs, unmanned planes dropping chemical weapons on the East Coast of the United States, about freedom always being worth the price - a price that to him is effectively zero.

The dead are dead, and they can't come back. They won't dance at any inaugural balls - or even attend their alumni reunions. They won’t attend presidential banquets - or even eat at the local coffee shop. Not ever again.

They are dead. And George Bush killed them. He killed them as certainly as though he personally had fired a rocket launcher at their homes.
So who and what is George W. Bush?
If he didn't know that his plan to "liberate" people who hadn't asked to be liberated, to bring democracy to people who hadn't asked for democracy, would lead to the deaths of thousands of people, he is not only incompetent and unfit to hold office, he is surely psychopathic and needs to be incarcerated.

Only a psychopath would stand in the midst of thousands of security guards and speak of "the force of human freedom."

Only a man so insulated from the real world by palace sycophants, by little Napoleons filled with utopian fantasies, and by callous, ambitious schemers to whom the lives of others mean nothing - only a man so insulated could possibly speak of "the expansion of freedom in all the world."

Only a man with no link to reality could start a war that destroys lives and families and then say, "Every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth."

Only a snake oil salesman can rain missiles and bombs on other countries and then say that no "human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies."

Only a man divorced from human reason can imprison people - possibly for life - without due process of law and then say that "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."

Only a liar can proclaim that he will decide which countries must be remade and then say, "No one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave."

Only a devious schemer can announce a goal of "ending tyranny in our world" while he is imposing a new tyranny in his own country - our country.

So you tell me: what kind of a President do we have?
This is a more eloquent condemnation than I have heard from anyone on the left. We need to listen to these "true conservatives" and learn. We may find that progressives and conservatives share many core values one of which is George W. Bush is evil.

Note
I have a post on a commentary by conservative Lew Rockwell on the Republican pundits who shill for the Bush administration over at Middle Earth Journal, Interesting thoughts from a "true" conservative.


Friday, January 28, 2005

Just when you thought they couldn't sink ANY lower ... they do.

posted by Mike at 1/28/2005 06:30:00 PM

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Via Daily Kos and the Washington Post, we learn that today world leaders from all across the globe are meeting in Auschwitz to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its liberation. Solemn figures stood in the death camp for the solemn ceremony, dressed in respectful black.

Er, except for our guy, who showed up in a olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood embroidered with his name; a ski cap with "Staff 2001" on it; and thick, brown, lace-up hiking boots.

And, no, it wasn't the cold weather.

I ... just don't know what to say. Even after all they've done so far, I still honestly didn't think anyone in the Bush Administration could do something as scuzzy as disrespecting the deaths of six million Jews in this fashion.

Thankfully, the mainstream media's appears to have caught on to this story for a few news cycles — hopefully it'll make at least a minor impact.

19 Years Ago Today

posted by Jazz at 1/28/2005 05:07:00 PM

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Joe Territo asks the question, where were you when the space shuttle challenger blew up? I have a somewhat more "insider" story than many.

I was, at that time, working as a technical writer and engineering technician for RCA Astro just outside of Princeton, New Jersey. We developed the transmitter sections of satellites which were, at that time, primarily launched via shuttle. One of my responsibilities was, during launch windows, to travel up to a desolate, middle-of-nowhere spot in New Jersey, just over the line from Easton, Pennsylvania. (It's the home of champion boxer Larry Holmes, and he owned a hotel across the river in Jersey where I general stayed during these trips.)

We worked at a sat-nav tracking station up there, with two huge dishes. We stayed in communication with the birds as they were maneuvered up from their release orbit into their final geosynchronous orbit. We monitored the downlink data feed from them, starting when they were in the shuttle bay until they reached their final position and went online at their station.

On that day, we had one bird already in transit, and a second one in the bay of the Challenger. The shuttle flights had become somewhat routine by then for the media, and you didn't get nearly as much TV coverage as you did in the first trips. We, however, had a direct satellite feed straight into NASA television. Most of the time it was boring non-activity from mission control, but we kept it on anyway.

When challenger went up, we were monitoring the feed on that bird as well as the one in transit orbit. At the moment that the shuttle blew, unlike most of America, I was watching a stream of telemetry data. The numbers are pretty much meaningless as you watch them... you only look to see that data is still coming in. One moment there was a normal stream... the next moment it all went to zeros. I only knew what happened when I looked up at the TV screen in our control room and saw the debris coming down. We'd initially thought it was just a loss of signal point.

Network TV cut away shortly thereafter and started doing interviews and showing less "disturbing" footage. NASA tracked the entire ugly thing and we sat there and watched it. It felt like somebody had punched me in the stomach.

I went out after my shift and drank a bunch of tequila and passed out in my hotel room. It was not pretty.

That's my memory of that day. I don't like to think of it often.

On fine dining, waiters, and the war of the words

posted by Jazz at 1/28/2005 01:57:00 PM

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I was just over reading the latest entry at waiter rant, and it got me to thinking. The post is titled "Therapeutic jujitsu" and it is, as always, some top notch writing, depicting a mental battle of wills between two veterans of the psychoanalyst's couch - one a waiter and the other his customer.
Nodding his head solemnly [the customer] says. “What a shame you are working on such a slow night. You can’t really be making much money. That’s got to be tough for you.” There's a faux therapeutic quality to his speech.

In a flash I have this guy’s number. Having spent years in analysis he’s adopted the “I see all and know all” mannerisms of his shrink because he desperately lacks a personality of his own. Therapy junkies are bad customers. They therapize every situation and try and use what they learn on the couch to manipulate the people around them. Pointing out our age difference and remarking on the night’s economics is his way of establishing dominance.


Surprise asshole – I was in analysis too. Luckily my therapist wasn’t the “suck Woody Allen dry” variety that infests Manhattan. Marty was one of the good guys and he taught me all the tricks.
“

The night is what it is sir,” I reply keeping my face neutral. I give him no room to maneuver.
This exchange, and all of the other wonderful, witty repartee that accompanies it are what set me to thinking of my own far more defensive strategy in restaurants. I consider myself a success in the "waiter wars", with victory being defined as consistently having pleasant dining experiences for myself and my wife the majority of the times that we venture out to eat.

My dining experiences in the roughly nine years since I moved to my current location were a bit of a mixed bag until I learned the lay of the land, gustatorially speaking. My house isn't in a city - it's in a village. And it's a village that lives up to the name "village" in both the classical and modern senses of the word. The population and acreage are small, while lacking the panache to call it a "bedroom community." We are a suburb of a city which is, to be fair, really flattered to be called a "city" at all. It's also fairly small, but it's the closest thing to a true city we have, so we cherish it all the same. Economic conditions around here have been in the dumps for years, (surprisingly just about four of them) so it's a tough row to hoe for people running expensive businesses like high end restaurants.

There are no true, "high end" exceptional restaurants in our village. There was one attempt for a while - a place haughtily called "Le Chateau" which was priced like a four star, but had a lot of simply dreadfully prepared, French only cuisine, a dirty look on the inside and all of the ambiance of a truck stop men's room. It lasted a little over a year.

The other places to dine in our village are a collection of eateries which range from taverns with bar food and sandwich shops up to rather modest "sit down" restaurants with medium range prices, large portions of acceptable quality food, decent service, and a fair bang for your buck on a night out with the wife.

In the city nearby is where I found the only true, high end restaurant worthy of the name. They only have the one, to the best of my knowledge (and we've tried all we could find) because one is simply all this area can afford. It's called "Number 5" and it is head and shoulders above all the others in the area. They have, in my opinion, the best chef in the area, and the service is always (and I do mean always) impeccable. Waiters and waitresses fight for positions there, and there's always a waiting list of applicants from which the owner can pick.

You'll need to have the cash in your wallet for a seriously high end experience if you go. Our last dinner there (on my wife's birthday earlier this month) included appetizers, entree, wine and cocktails (no dessert) and the tab was just shy of $120 before tip. (More on that below.) I know that's not much in a place like New York City, but in a smaller area, it's a lot.

From the outside the joint doesn't look like much - it's a red brick building that looks like a fire station. That's because it used to be the Number 5 Fire Station in the city. The inside is done up to pure elegance, while still keeping a lot of design, decor, and accoutrements of the original fire station. The menu keeps changing and is out of this world.

But praising this particular establishment is not what I'm writing about. I'm dwelling on the delicate little dance that goes on between patrons and the wait staff, the chef, etc. I consider myself "victorious" in these little battles because I simply don't fight them. I have, in years past, been accused by some people of being too "aloof" to the waitress. The fact is, I'm not aloof at all. It's all about the business of what each of us are doing. The waitress will generally open up with some polite comment about either the weather or some piece of local good news. I almost always respond with a very short comment, such as "Yes, we've certainly had a lot of snow" or "I read about that. That sounds really great!" And then I'll go back to scanning the menu and waiting for her to being the Reading Of The Specials.

It's not because I think I'm better than her. It's not that I don't want to talk to her. I'm sure she's a lovely, insightful person who could hold my interest for hours. But SHE'S WORKING. She is doing her job... which certainly entails doing a certain amount of chatting to add to the atmosphere and the enjoyment of the experience by the diner, but she still has a job to do, not to mention several other tables to keep under control. Yes, I could launch into a story about how bad the winter of 96' was, and how my snowblower broke down from the heavy snow, and isn't it just a crime how much they charge for repairs down at Tony's fix-it shop. But while the waitress will remain polite, and almost certainly fill in any gaps in the conversation with polite nods, "ahs" and exclamations of agreement, I still get a decided feeling that, behind those pleasant, sparkling eyes, she's thinking, "Man. I wish this guy would shut the fuck up and order some damned food."

And so, I keep my comments short, listen attentively to the specials, and place my order. I'm there to talk to my wife, anyway. If I have any comments to make to the wait staff, I make them with my tip and my repeat patronage. (Or lack thereof.) You see, I get fantastic service at bars and restaurants. That's because I only visit a few and I'm a great tipper. I place an extremely high value on good service, and I know what I'm looking for in both a waiter and a bartender. (And believe me, the qualities I look for in those two professions are very different from each other.) It's really not all that hard to set up a kitchen and staff that can produce food that is, at a minimum, "acceptably yummy." Anyone with ten minutes of training can fix up a simple mixed drink, pour a glass of wine, or draw a draft beer with the right amount of head. The service is what makes the difference. When I don't get it, I will tip sub-par for me... possibly as low as 3%. And I won't come back.

When I do get it, I tip extravagantly and I make sure that I know the person's name, and I come back again. The dinner experience I mentioned above resulted in my leaving $160 bucks for a less than $120 tab. I know that's not Donald Trump level, but I think it's a very fair tip for good quality service, and they remember me. At the few bars we visit, the bartenders know us and have often come running out to hustle up an extra pair of seats where we like to sit if it's crowded. That's because I always spend time chatting up the bartender if he's not busy, and will often leave a twenty dollar tip on a 30 dollar bar tab. They don't forget that.

My point in this long winded diatribe is this... there is a certain "fear" that comes with engaging in battle with the wait staff. Deep in your lizard hind brain, you know that, if you give him too much crap, the waiter is back there spitting in your food. It may not be true... but you still know it. (I would like the chance to ask the author of Waiter Rant some day if he has actually ever spit in anyone's food or witnessed another waiter doing it. Then again... maybe I don't want to know that.) I think that I "win" by not doing battle. I try to be a good customer when I find a place I like, and for the ones I don't, I simply don't go back.

There... I think I'm done now. We are taking my best friend out for his birthday later. He has MS so it may be a painfully short "celebration" but we're going to try. So if I'm not blogging much tonight, please forgive me. Happy Friday, everyone.

Best Joke I've Heard This Year ...

posted by Mike at 1/28/2005 01:49:00 PM

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With much thanks to my friend Michael Hanscom:

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. There is no shortage of filament. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?


Followed up by:

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Seven:


  • One to deny that a light bulb needs to be replaced,
  • One to attack and question the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the light bulb,
  • One to blame the previous administration for the need for a new lightbulb,
  • One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs,
  • One to get together with Dick Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton one million dollars for a light bulb,
  • One to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the light bulb while dressed in a flight suit and wrapped in an American flag, and, finally ...
  • One to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.


Oh That Liberal Media, Yet Again

posted by Jazz at 1/28/2005 01:46:00 PM

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If you watch Nightline, or even if you don't, I highly advise you to go read this post from Brilliant at Breakfast. If you think that shows like Nightline are liberal, or for that matter even "fair and balanced" when it comes to covering Iraq, think again. Every time I hear the rightwingnuts screaming over and over and over again about how liberal the media is... how they are so unfair to poor President Bush, how they only report the bad news and ignore "all" the good news, I'm going to point them back to this post.

Speaking of Lovely

posted by Jazz at 1/28/2005 10:27:00 AM

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I was just watching last night's episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The guest was Christie Todd Whitman. Back when I still had enough hope for the Republican party that I was sticking with them, I really thought that Christie was the future of the party. On the show, I have to say that she looked really beautiful... much better than the strained look she displayed when Bush chased her out of the EPA. She was getting some PR for her new book, "It's my party too", of course. (There is also a web site for the subject.)

She was right on form, and didn't mince words or dance around any questions. When asked about the current status of the GOP, she smiled and said, "When you have people in charge who think that Spongebob Squarepants is more important than Social Security, you've got serious problems."

The web site linked above has a lot of really good information about how moderate Republicans need to learn to work with the Democrats if they want to exert any leverage and reclaim the party from the neocons. There is a particularly good article from the Times reprinted there. It talks about how viciously and personally Whitman has been attacked by the extreme conservatives.

The Bush family omertà demands silence and loyalty from all the president's retinue, so Mrs. Whitman's decision to speak out is in itself an outrage. Some have questioned her credentials as a Republican and ridicule her for arguing against a strategy that has brought the party unprecedented power. A few have even compared her to Michael Moore.

"I expected criticism," Mrs. Whitman, 58, said last week, sitting in the living room of Pontefract, her family's gracious farm in New Jersey's hunt country. "But I'm surprised at how personal the attacks are."

The reaction from the left wasn't much warmer, however.

Of course, in publishing, as in politics and paper training, timing is everything. Even as partisans on the right have blasted her, many on the left are angered that she waited until after the election to complain.

So why didn't Mrs. Whitman publish sooner? And why should environmentalists or moderates take her seriously, given that she was chairwoman of Mr. Bush's re-election effort in New Jersey? Mrs. Whitman's explanation is simple: The president isn't the issue. The party is. "If I had spoken up during the campaign, people would have viewed it in the context of the election, and it would have been forgotten the next day," she said.

The article concludes with a rather pessimistic tone, however. It's also the exact sentiment that finally drove me to leave the GOP and register as an independent.

She hopes the book helps expand her role as a fund-raiser and proselytizer for Republican moderates. "If you veer too far from the center in American politics, eventually people will stop listening," she warned.

What Mrs. Whitman will find out in the coming months is this: With Republicans ascendant, and Washington awash with conservative hubris, is anyone in power willing to listen?

Update: It's important to remember exactly how popular the moderate Republican Whitman was. She was one of the poster children of the party who the conservatives like to march out in front of the camera to try to paint a less neocon face on the party. However, now that she has spoken out about her moderate beliefs and concerns over the party, she is subject to attack from all sides. Check out this post at Betsy Newmark's blog for an example of the sudden "knife in the back" tactics that you can expect if you don't silently nod in agreement with the Bush/Rove agenda.

You can't make this up

posted by Mu at 1/28/2005 08:51:00 AM

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Sometimes life writes better stories than the best author. How about a school cancelling the annual spelling bee, since it violates "no kid left behind"? No, that policy is not aiming for the lowest possible denominator.
And from my own home state the defence of marriage act II - because you never know what lawyers come up with next.

Simply Lovely

posted by Jazz at 1/28/2005 07:33:00 AM

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For a pleasant way to start out your Friday, I have a recommendation. (I found this while I was over looking for this week's carnival of cats. ) Go and read this poem. Even if you don't normally indulge in reading poetry, give this one a try. I promise you, it's short. It is called, "The Ledge" and I can't get it out of my mind.

Friday Morning Cat Blogging

posted by Jazz at 1/28/2005 07:19:00 AM

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Your usual reminder... stop by the Modulator for the Friday Ark. This week's Carnival of the Cats will be held on Sunday at Watermark.

This week, we find Pepe being interrupted as he watches "Bird TV." (Better known as the window where birds gather outside to torment him.)



Social Security Plan

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/28/2005 01:27:00 AM

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Yuval Rubinstein over at the Left Coaster has a great partial Social Security privitization plan.
Under my plan, registered Republicans would be covered by the Bush administration's private accounts scheme, while those of us who are registered Democrats will remain under the current system. Independents and voters belonging to third parties will be able to choose which system to belong. Therefore, us Democrats will serve as the control group, while the average folk in the Republican party will serve as the test subjects for the president's plan. This side-by-side comparison will tell us a great deal about which pension scheme is more beneficial, as in the Chilean example.
Put your money where your mouth is. We would see how many Republicans are really part of the Cult of Bushco.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

I need a new chili recipe

posted by Jazz at 1/27/2005 04:12:00 PM

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You may be looking at that title and wondering what this has to do with politics, Iraq, Social Security, Cabinet Appointments, or sex. Let me answer that in a short, clear fashion. Nothing.

For once, the title is exactly what it seems. I'm planning on making some chili, and I don't do it very often. My wife simply hates chili, and I only make a crockpot of it for myself now on rare occasions.

I don't really have an "official recipe" as such... I have always just sort of winged it. I like chili a lot, and I'm willing to eat some and have leftovers the next day, and package some up for lunches in the future. I'd like to try a new recipe.

So here's what I'm looking for:

It should be made for a small volume... enough to fit in your standard crockpot. I hate having to parse things down from a recipe to feed the entire Jet's defense for a winter.

It should be spicy to the point that many "normal" people would consider "too hot" but not to the level that true "I can eat lava" folks call hot. I don't like mild, but I also don't drink Dave's Insanity Sauce straight. I like it nice and hot, but still want to enjoy the taste.

It has to have meat AND beans (preferably two kinds, red kidney and navy preferred)

I like garlic. I like onions. I like chili powder and all kinds of pepper.

I AM ALLERGIC TO MUSHROOMS. (I've actually never heard of anyone putting mushrooms in chili, but it's worth mentioning, just in case.)

Beyond that... the sky is the limit. If you feel generous with your time and information and culinary skills, please comment or e-mail me with a good chili recipe that I can make to feed myself while my darling wife is slaving away at the keyboard in the evenings during these cold Northeastern nights.

Hot, Hot, Hot

posted by Jazz at 1/27/2005 01:29:00 PM

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Do your sons always say they want to be firemen when they grow up?

Firefighters Suspended for Sex on Duty


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Four Sacramento, California firefighters who admitted to having sex while on duty have been suspended pending an investigation, a spokesman for the city's fire department said on Tuesday.


The three men, including a captain, admitted to having sex with a fourth firefighter, a woman, while on duty. Superiors put all four on administrative leave on Monday, marking the second recent sex scandal to hit the sleepy state capital's fire department.

"The four individuals have admitted to having sex in the firehouse," said Captain Niko King, a spokesman for the department. "They even conspired to keep it secret by putting one person on watch so they wouldn't get caught."

The firefighters face disciplinary action ranging from time off without pay to dismissal, said King, noting officials took quick action as rumors of on-duty sex circulated through the department.

I know there's a "first responder" joke in there someplace, but I'm just so not going to go there.


Gonzales' Counsel Was Unethical -- And That Does Matter

posted by Mike at 1/27/2005 11:22:00 AM

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I respectfully disagree with Mu's statement regarding ignoring lawyers' morality and Gonzales' fitness for Attorney General. I'm a legal assistant and have worked for over seven years now amidst lawyers. While I don't know as much about the legal field as lawyers, I do understand more about the industry than an average individual, just by the nature of working in and among them for seven years.

To state, as Mu does, that every lawyer has behaved immorally at some point in their career is really an insult to all lawyers in America, a lot of which have made a point of striving for honesty and morality. Yes, it's an easy insult to make, since many lawyers have done many crooked things for many years, and as a result they are not exactly beloved by our country or its populace. I'm not defending all of them, believe you me. Even most lawyers wouldn't try to defend all of their brethren — like any profession that affords significant power to its practitioners, it's a profession that has fairly significant problems with abuse of said power.

But many lawyers have done may wonderful things for many years, as well. The ACLU often brings suits I feel are nonsense, but they've also stomped into court fighting tooth and nail to curb the worst of the PATRIOT Act's and Ashcroft'ss excesses, and that's why I annually pry a little bit out of my budget to donate to them. Trial lawyers (or, as Lakoff might put it, "public protection lawyers") may often bring nuisance lawsuits, but how often are others fighting to curb corporate excesses and protect people's health and safety?

And, on a personal note, I worked for an attorney for five and a half years, and when she told me she was going to try to become a judge, I worked my tail off trying to get her elected (including standing outside of a polling place for 13 hours on a miserable Chicago winter day), because she had demonstrated such overwhelming honesty and intelligence during my time working for her that I knew she'd do a lot of good on the bench. And she won. A moment where the system actually worked.

With all due respect to Mu (whose writings here I often enjoy), like many generalizations, his generalization about the actions of lawyers falls significantly short of truth, and as such, can't effectively be used to defend Gonzales' prior history of unethical counsel to Dubya. There are ethical codes governing lawyers' conducts. There is a sense of morality governing lawyers' conduct. They are not exempt from ethics and morality; they are not bound to only serve their client's wishes without considering the morality and ethics (not to mention legality) of said wishes. In some states, legal ethics are even bound into law, and even when not, ethics violations always carry severe consequences for attorneys. Browse a bit through the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission's website sometime.

Mu reminds us that Gonzales is not nominated for the Supreme Court, but will be a Cabinet secretary. I think he fails to understand the significance of the Attorney General being the top law enforcement officer in the country. A Cabinet secretary post is not a insignificant advisory role — each secretary heads up a department of the government, and Gonzales will head up the Department of Justice. Take a look at what agencies are under the Department of Justice. The scope is immense, and we will be consolidating all of that power under the thumb of a man who has demonstrated a willingness to disregard what is right to do anything for his client. I do not trust that man to suddenly become objective and put his country in front of the man who elevated him to such a position of power.

Do we really want a man who could ethically justify torture, and whose opinion of the Geneva Conventions is that they are "quaint," in charge of our country's prison system?

An attorney just doesn't give his client the advice they want to hear, he (or she) is supposed to give them good counsel of the law. A lawyer is not exempt from morality and ethics. I've seen attorneys base their decisions not only on what is best for their client but on what is morally and legally right.

Gonzales didn't factor that into any of his decisions. As such, I think he's horrifically unfit to be the one to lead our country's law enforcement and efforts towards justice.

Mu and I do agree on one thing, though. If it was a choice between putting in Gonzales or keeping this numbnutz around, I'd have picked Gonzales in a heartbeat. But I think Ashcroft was gonna go either way — and Bush could have picked a far less offensive candidate than the man who's always been his favorite legal toady.

Magnetic Meandering

posted by Jazz at 1/27/2005 11:13:00 AM

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I was browsing over at People's Republic of Seabrook, which is where I came upon this article regarding those little "Support our Troops" magnets. (Which are a lovely addition to your "I support our troops MORE THAN YOU DO" bumper stickers.) That article really gives you something to think about.
Think about it for a second. What does slapping a magnetic ribbon on the back of your vehicle really prove? And does the absence of one demonstrate a lack of patriotism and support for our troops? Don’t be ridiculous- or are you that vulnerable to the the not-so-subtle pressures of jingoistic Groupthink?
Even more than that, though, (and this is where we come into the "meandering" portion of things) the author has some rather clever alternative magnets, such as this one. Or this one. There was a third image, however, which I found compelling. It wasn't a magnet and turned out to be a link to another blog.

The name alone more than justifies a visit. But the graphics and links I found there more than made up for any time spent. Ladies and gentleman, may I please present...

Easy Bake Coven.

(No. That's not a typo.)

Your Quote of the Day

posted by Jazz at 1/27/2005 10:42:00 AM

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Today's QotD comes to us from the ever amusing Michelle Malkin.

"I'm embarrassed to say I'm a Jersey girl."

If it's any consolation, Michelle, I'm sure that most of Jersey is pretty embarassed too.

State of the Union

posted by Mike at 1/27/2005 10:39:00 AM

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I note with some passing interest that despite the State of the Union traditionally being given the last Tuesday of every January, this time, it's going to be delivered on Wednesday, February 2.

I briefly was puzzled. Why the delay? After all, State of the Union addresses have almost never been delivered that late in the year, at least according to the above cited Wikipedia article.

Then I thought for a moment, and went "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Duh.

Have I got a deal for you

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/27/2005 09:53:00 AM

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The Chilean private accounts plan is given as an example of success by proponents of a similar plan in the US. The truth is after 25 years Chile's Retirees Find Shortfall in Private Plan.
[S]ANTIAGO, Chile - Nearly 25 years ago, Chile embarked on a sweeping experiment that has since been emulated, in one way or another, in a score of other countries. Rather than finance pensions through a system to which workers, employers and the government all contributed, millions of people began to pay 10 percent of their salaries to private investment accounts that they controlled.
[.......]
For all the program's success in economic terms, the government continues to direct billions of dollars to a safety net for those whose contributions were not large enough to ensure even a minimum pension approaching $140 a month.
[....]
Even many middle-class workers who contributed regularly are finding that their private accounts - burdened with hidden fees that may have soaked up as much as a third of their original investment - are failing to deliver as much in benefits as they would have received if they had stayed in the old system
Dagoberto Sáez, for example, is a 66-year-old laboratory technician here who plans, because of a recent heart attack, to retire in March. He earns just under $950 a month; his pension fund has told him that his nearly 24 years of contributions will finance a 20-year annuity paying only $315 a month.

"Colleagues and friends with the same pay grade who stayed in the old system, people who work right alongside me," he said, "are retiring with pensions of almost $700 a month - good until they die. I have a salary that allows me to live with dignity, and all of a sudden I am going to be plunged into poverty, all because I made the mistake of believing the promises they made to us back in 1981."
Hidden fees that took one third of their investment. You can see why Wall Street is so excited about the Bush plan, another way for them to get their hands in your pocket. They are not satisfied to get a chunk of the cash in your IRA's and 401K's they now want a piece of the "Secure" part of your retirement savings.
Make no doubt, the folks on Wall Street who pushed Enron and Worldcom are going to be throwing lots of money to Lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican. Let your Lawmakers know that your not fooled.

For a list of related posts see the Index of posts on Social Security.


Ok. Sign us up

posted by Jazz at 1/27/2005 09:27:00 AM

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After some behind-the-scenes discussion, put Running Scared down as being in support of the Daily KOS No on Gonzales petition. Please contact your senators and let them know where you stand.

With this nomination, we have arrived at a crossroads as a nation. Now is the time for all citizens of conscience to stand up and take responsibility for what the world saw, and, truly, much that we have not seen, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. We oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, and we urge the Senate to reject him.

Edit: It has been pointed out that I failed to specify "we" in this post. The vote was not unanimous, but a majority of the authors went along with it. I will leave it to the dissenting voice(s) to blog opposing opinions if they wish.


More "Terrorists" on the loose

posted by Jazz at 1/27/2005 09:01:00 AM

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As we mentioned on Tuesday, four "terror suspects" from England were finally sent home from Gitmo this week. Following nearly three years of imprisonment as suspected terrorists, the British government questioned them for one day before releasing them. No charges will be filed.

Four British men who spent up to three years in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay and then held by British police for a day were released Wednesday night without charge.

Moazzam Begg, Feroz Abbasi, Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar were returned to Britain on Tuesday and arrested under the Terrorism Act.

Metropolitan police questioned the four most of the day Wednesday but announced shortly after 9 p.m. that no charges would be filed.

Five other British detainees at Guantanamo who were returned in March were also set free within a day, and have never been charged with a terrorist offense.

I never seem to get an answer when I ask this question, but it doesn't keep me from asking it again - how is it that Tony Blair still has a job?

Congratulations, Middle East. This is the type of "freedom and democracy" that George W. Bush will be bringing you at the muzzle of a rifle. You can have all the freedom and justice you like, providing you don't have a "funny" name, like Moazzam or something. If you do, you should really just leave now.




Something Fowl in Oklahoma

posted by Jazz at 1/27/2005 06:48:00 AM

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Oklahoma State Senator Frank Shurden (D-Henryetta) would like a word with you, chicken.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Blue State Education on the Rise

posted by Jazz at 1/26/2005 04:17:00 PM

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Good news on the education front for all of you blue staters. Those Advanced Placement (AP) tests for high school students are sweeping the nation, and the cream of the crop comes from... you guessed it.
New York State led the nation in the percentage of high school students who passed Advanced Placement tests at the level of mastery last year, followed closely by Maryland, Florida, California, Massachusetts and Utah, according to a state-by-state report from the College Board released yesterday.
That's a fairly impressive list. And Florida is barely a red state, even then likely only because of certain (*cough*) "voter irregularities." Utah is another question entirely. I'm guessing they're dumping a bunch of their homeland security money into the schools. I mean, really... they're pretty much in the same boat as Wyoming on that front, and there's only so much cash you can blow making sure that terrorists don't blow up cows.

Well, while it's nice to be at the top, it's an honor to even be nominated. Somebody had to come in at the bottom. Who might that be?
Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska and Alabama had the lowest percentages of students demonstrating college-level mastery on an Advanced Placement exam.
Ah... the value voters. We report. You conclude.

A Tale of Two Smugglers

posted by Jazz at 1/26/2005 01:55:00 PM

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Some excellent research and a good history lesson on that "liberal biased media" you're always hearing about can be found today over at Wampum. The article concerns a prediction made last summer by rightwingnut Neal Boortz, where he forecast an "explosion" that would reveal the liberal media bias.

The subjects of his conjecture were two incidents of classified document smuggling. One was perpetrated by Democrat Sandy Berger and the other by Republican Richard Shelby. (If you are like me, you're saying "Richard who?" right now.) Boortz's premise was that the liberal media would tear Shelby apart and "give a pass" to Berger.

Wampum has done the research and provides you with the final tallies. Give it a look.

Quote of the Day

posted by Jazz at 1/26/2005 01:50:00 PM

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"I don't believe we need an exit strategy in Iraq. I think we need a success strategy. But such a strategy may mean taking a little more realistic view of what we mean by success."

Senator Lamar Alexander (R - Tennessee) during the Condi Rice confirmation hearings today.

And so it begins. Having won the election, the worm begins to turn.

And THIS is why you need to keep the second amendment

posted by Jazz at 1/26/2005 01:34:00 PM

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Shootout at the O.K. Corral Shoats Grocery Store.

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- When two men walked into a popular country store outside Atlanta, announced a holdup and fired a shot, owners Bobby and Gloria Doster never hesitated. The pair pulled out their own pistols and opened fire.

The armed suspect and his partner were killed. The Dosters won't be charged, according to local officials, because they were acting in self-defense.

"I just started shooting," said Gloria Doster, 56. "I was trying to blow his brains out is what I was trying to do."

One man grabbed Gloria Doster and pushed her toward the register. She said the other kept his gun on her 62-year-old husband, who also goes by the name Shoats.

She said she tried to open the register, but one of the men told her she wasn't moving fast enough and tried to shoot her husband. He missed -- and his gun jammed.

At that point, Bobby Doster pulled out a .380-caliber handgun and shot one of the suspects. Gloria Doster then went for a 9 mm pistol she keeps near the register.

"All hell broke loose," she said. "I was trying to shoot and dial 911 at the same time."


A lot of people say that self defense isn't a reason to have a weapon. Tell that to these store owners. Some of these same people tend to say, "Oh, if they'd just given the money to the robbers they would have been fine. Let the police do their job." They were trying to give them the money and one of the robbers was trying to shoot her husband anyway. There is little doubt that they would have killed both of them once they got the money out of the register.

Little old ladies with 9 mm semi-automatics help foster a polite society.



There is no censorship of course

posted by Mu at 1/26/2005 01:30:00 PM

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PBS is in trouble for filming in Vermont. They actually have legally married gay couples there, and that somehow got in a show funded with goverment money.
So a quick hint that their $20,000,000 a year contract with the department of education is up for renewal this fall, and the offending show is canned.

Hope for the Progressives?

posted by Mike at 1/26/2005 11:20:00 AM

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Each evening, I go home and among other things fire up my newsreader, NetNewsWire, which scans the RSS feeds of at this point about 110 websites. (That sounds like a large number of websites, but reading newsfeeds is actually a very different experience than hitting each individual website. You spend a lot less time yet are able to keep up on your favorite websites' contents, including ours. (See the "RSS feed" button at the top of the page.) If you've not begun using RSS, you're missing out on quite a lot — one colleague said it pretty much revolutionized his use of the Web, and he is most definitely not prone to hyperbole. Try NetNewsWire if you're on a Mac or FeedDemon if you're on a Windows machine.)

Anyway, I've gone a bit off-topic. One of the above-mentioned feeds is a feed generated by a website I've mentioned before, GovTrack.Us, which culls statements by Durbin, Obama, and Schakowsky from the Congressional Record. And so I found myself reading Sen. Durbin's speech in Congress about the legislative priorities of the Democratic side of Congress. (Why is this significant to all, and not just Illinois residents? Since Durbin is the Senate minority whip, he's essentially second-in-command of the Senate Democrats, with Tennessee's Sen. Reid being the minority leader.)

As I began to read Durbin's remarks, I grew very disappointed. The bulwark of his comments centered around the same old problem lately of the Democrats not sending a clear message of what progressive principles they stand for, and instead spending most of their time attacking (and thus reinforcing) the message the other side is giving. (As Lakoff once put it, it was fatal for Nixon to say, "I am not a crook," because it meant that Nixon was introducing the concept of "crook" into that situation, even in negation.)

Durbin can't seem to articulate what Democrats' first priority is, first saying:

On the Democratic side, we have a different approach. Our first priority is the title of "putting America's security first, standing with our troops."


but later saying:

We believe on the Democratic side that funding education across America is our highest priority.


Which is it? And, of course, there was this disgustingly tasteless choice of analogies:

I said at a press conference today, and I believe it, the political tsunami that is about to hit us in the United States relates to pensions and health care for retirees.


Yet as I read the conclusion of Durbin's remarks, I perked up a lot, because he seemed to almost quote directly out of Lakoff's concepts and speak about progressive principles in general:

[W]e also understand that in many instances the strength of our Nation is when we stand together — for fairness when it comes to health care, for opportunity when it comes to education, to have protection when it comes to your pension and your future.

We need a balance. Walking away from Government, as an evil entity, is ignoring the fact that Government, in many instances, is just the American family at large. As my wife and I care for our children, we care for others in this country and those who are shortchanged by this system and who are not protected. Even if it does not affect me directly and personally, it affects this country, and it affects my future.

So I hope we can find some balance. I hope, when it is all said and done, we do not get so caught up in this alluring notion of the ownership society that we forget, as we are learning with our military, we have learned in our history, there are times when we need to stand together as a nation for fairness and for justice. We say here is security, opportunity, and making certain people have responsibility in their actions.


Now that was fucking inspiring to see from a Democrat's mouth, pardon ma français. I hope we hear a lot more of that kind of talk in the 109th Congress from all the Democrats. It's time that Democrats actually grow a pair and start advocating progressive principles, instead of just decrying neoconservative ones.

Third-hand Commentary

posted by The One True Tami at 1/26/2005 11:13:00 AM

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I comment on Joe Gandleman's comments about current Russian Anti-Semitism over on my personal blog. I'm pretty much in a tizzy over this.

More paid pundits

posted by Mu at 1/26/2005 09:55:00 AM

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Remember that law about the government not paying for propaganda? Well, according to the WP (via Drudge):

In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families.

But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal, reveals Howard Kurtz in Wednesday runs of the WASHINGTON POST.

Maybe we need a secretary of propaganda in the cabinet?

PS: Her answer can be found here.

PPS: Bush has declared that it was all due to minor functionaries and won't happen again. Guess he want's to avoid anyone checking if abuse of government funds for paid propaganda falls in the "high crimes and misdemeanor" category.

Bush acolytes stone Ted Turner to death for speaking the truth

posted by Jazz at 1/26/2005 09:29:00 AM

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Ok... not literally. But from the rabid reactions, you can bet they would like to. Apparently, speaking at a meeting of the National Association for Television Programming Executives, Ted made some comments that got some of the Bushies a bit flustered. Whatever could he have said to get them in such a stir?
"While Fox may be the largest news network, it's not the best. The network is the propaganda tool for the Bush Administration. There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy. Particularly when the news is dumbed down, leaving voters without critical information on politics and world events and overloaded with fluff."
Hrmmm... sounds like a fairly spot on analysis to me. Well, ok. He did compare them to Hitler, which is getting kind of tired and worn out. But still... what could have gotten Fox so upset about some old rich guy simply speaking the truth?
"Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network, and now his mind," said a Fox News spokesperson. "We wish him well."
Ah. Speaking of bitter, I suppose the Faux News folks really don't like when "secrets in the open" are spoken about in public.

Rantingprofs wonders, along with us, if there is anyone left, even at Fox, who doesn't see that network as an adjunct office of the Bush administration. (And if you got them drunk, would they admit it then?)

The reaction from the right was mostly typical and predictable.

Art "everything's just fine in Iraq so stop asking" Chrenkoff apparently thinks that Fox is just fine, fair and balanced, and it's Turner who's insane.

Even Betsy Newmark says Turner is "sounding more demented" without commenting on whether or not Faux "News" has a clear bias in favor of Bush and the GOP.

Hate First

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/26/2005 09:21:00 AM

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Backers of Gay Marriage Ban Use Social Security as Cudgel

Proving to all that they are totaling nuts, the Radical Christian Right has given Bush an ultimatum that they will not support his Social Security Privatization without an anti gay marriage constitutional amendment. They even admit that such reform is not in their best interest but they will support it if they get their 16th century agenda on the front burner.
In a confidential letter to Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top political adviser, the group said it was disappointed with the White House's decision to put Social Security and other economic issues ahead of its paramount interest: opposition to same-sex marriage.

The letter, dated Jan. 18, pointed out that many social conservatives who voted for Mr. Bush because of his stance on social issues lack equivalent enthusiasm for changing the retirement system or other tax issues. And to pass to pass any sweeping changes, members of the group argue, Mr. Bush will need the support of every element of his coalition.
The Bush administration and the Republicans courting the hateful fundamentalist Christians may come with a big price tag. These people are dangerous because they are literally insane. Supporting programs that you know are not in your best interests qualifies as insanity. It will be interesting to see how the Rovians respond to this. I think this may be the beginning of the end of Radical Christian support for the Republicans. I fully expect them to have their own presidential candidate in 2008 and local tickets before then.


Funeral Financing, Dubya Style

posted by Jazz at 1/26/2005 09:12:00 AM

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Look, it's not like you're going to live as long as white folks, so what do you care?
President Bush told black leaders Tuesday that his plan to add private accounts to Social Security would benefit blacks since they tend to have shorter lives than some other Americans and end up paying in more than they get out.
Bush managed to rustle up 11% of the black vote in November, which was up from the nine percent he got in 2000. This, to me, sounds like an excellent way to scare that extra two percent back to the Democrats. Seriously now... who wrote that for him? Is that really a way to build support? Call me a starry eyed optimist, but if I was going to lie to the black demographic to try to win their support, I think I might lead out with something more along the lines of, "We're going to try to figure out why blacks don't live as long, and work on a solution to that."

Just file this one under "Duhbya."

Warning: Fat Rant Incoming

posted by Jazz at 1/26/2005 07:14:00 AM

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Just what I needed to start my day. (Sarcasm meter on, please.)
Obesity suit may dog McDonald's

Court reinstates part of suit accusing the company of tricking kids into eating fattening foods.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court Tuesday revived part of the widely-watched obesity suit against McDonald's Corp. that accuses the world's biggest fast-food company of using misleading advertising to lure children into eating fattening, unhealthy foods.
I've tried to avoid this topic because I can rarely discuss it without beginning to froth at the mouth and thrash around on the floor violently like some sort of carp dragged out of the pond onto a bed of electrified tacks. I would also like to preface this by saying that I do support some limited tort reform as long as it's not a big industry golden goose, still allows people to sue for real damages against dangerously irresponsible or criminally negligent entities, and has reasonable caps. This lawsuit, however, gets my pet goat.

Is McDonald's food fattening? OF COURSE IT'S GOD DAMNED FATTENING! It's a pile of meat, grease, cheese, etc. on a big hunk of bread. If you seriously thought that was health food, you shouldn't be allowed outside unsupervised. Unless there was somebody holding a gun to your head, nobody made you eat 312 Big Macs last year. And if they did, you should be suing the guy with the gun, not freaking McDonald's.

This lawsuit is not only without merit, it's offensive to every person in the country with an IQ higher than room temperature water. Look... I used to have a hobby that many people said was somewhat insane. I used to be a skydiver. Yes, that's right... nearly every weekend we would drive out to one of the local Drop Zones, I would suit up in some very questionable equipment, fly two miles up in the air in small, overloaded planes that were barely capable of flying and throw myself out of them. And I kept on doing that until one day my parachute didn't open. I managed to deploy an emergency reserve with less than ten seconds before impact and lived to tell the tale, but it scared the living crap out of me and I quit.

My point is, if I had not managed to get that reserve chute out, I wouldn't expect my wife to go and sue the company that ran the Drop Zone, or the pilot or the manufacturer of the parachute. I would be dead because I was intentionally JUMPING OUT OF A FUCKING PLANE. That's NOT very smart, and it could fairly be said that I not only deserved to die, but probably increased the national average IQ slightly in doing so.

If people were getting sick and dying from eating McDonald's food because they were spicing up the Special McSauce with lead based McPaint and not telling anybody, I could see the point. You'd definitely have a valid case in court. But these people are suing because... eating a shitload of obviously fattening food .... surprise ... makes you FAT. You either need to make the production of all possibly fattening food in the country illegal (not practical) or the judge needs to come out from behind the bench, walk up to the plaintiffs and their attorneys, and break all of their fingers with his gavel. His only comment at that point should be, "There. Now you can't hold any fattening sandwiches to eat them. Problem solved. Dismissed."

Since I've already lost the battle, yet again, to control my temper when talking about this subject, let me just add in a tangentially related note. I'm also fed up with people who want to be able to sue gun companies because somebody in their family got shot by a functional gun. Unless you can prove that the gun itself was manufactured in a defective fashion which would allow it to discharge when it definitely shouldn't, it's not the fault of the manufacturer. If your sister was intentionally shot by somebody, it's the shooter's fault. If the gun was accidentally picked up and fired, then it shouldn't have been left laying around. These people aren't suing gun manufacturers because they are culpable. They are suing them either because they're looking for a deep pocket, trying to get a back door around the second amendment, or both.

And while we're at it, you can all stop suing the tobacco and alcohol companies, too. If you don't know by now what's good for you or bad for you, you need more help than a court can provide.

I'm going to stop now, go outside, and throw myself into a snowbank.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

From Around Blogistan

posted by Jazz at 1/25/2005 03:29:00 PM

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Some fun things I found to occupy your evening reading.

From Atrios: The US budget projections, as reported in the New York Times, have been revised with possibly the best typo and/or Freudian slip of all time.

The deficit projections for the years 2006 through 2015 is almost two-thirds smaller than what congressional budget analysts predicted last fall, but the drop is largely due to estimating quirks that required it to exclude future Iran and Afghanistan war costs. Last September, their 10-year deficit estimate was $2.3 trillion.

IRAN and Afghanistan war costs? Hrmmm.

From Betsy Newmark: Father's rights, always a contentious issue and a political third rail, gets some positive treatment.

In the end, our society sends men quite a mixed message. If your partner gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby, you're liable for 18 years of child support, whether or not you want to be a father. If she doesn't want to be a mother, she can give your child to strangers and there isn't much you can do. Then we complain that men don't take parenthood seriously enough.

From Mahablog: She's tracking down just how much of your money is being spent on the Iraq war and not figured into the budget numbers. A lot of good information here.

Joe Gandelman takes on, in great depth, the controversy over Hillary Clinton courting the anti-choice crowd. This is a subject that I just couldn't bring myself to touch. (I wasn't close enough to a shower.) Read his analysis.

Pacificus tells us why the C of CC (Council of Concerned Citizens) should probably have been the K of KK.

The People's Republic of Seabrook explains how the Pope is now telling people, regarding condoms, that .... oh, Christ onna crutch, I can't read about the Pope anymore.

Tata and the invasion of the cars and mechanics from hell. You'll like this.

Stumping Grounds, in a very long and detailed post, explain why Muslims in the UK are blowing their chance to make a strong statement and repair their image.

Waveflux explains who should head up the DNC and why. (Your mileage may vary.)

I'm going to be out at a dart tourney this evening, but hopefully that will keep you engaged with some reading material for a bit.

More Shots from the Mars Rovers

posted by Jazz at 1/25/2005 01:40:00 PM

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New Boss Same as the Old Boss, Part 2,174

posted by Jazz at 1/25/2005 01:06:00 PM

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I dont' know how I missed this blog before (Demagogue) but they point us to a new article in wapo which will not surprise you. (And likely turn your stomache. You have been warned.)

Toruture In Iraq Still Routine, Report Says
Twenty months after Saddam Hussein's government was toppled and its torture chambers unlocked, Iraqis are again being routinely beaten, hung by their wrists and shocked with electrical wires, according to a report by a human rights organization.
After already posting this entry earlier today, I absolutely refuse to copy any more of this article in here. I'm becoming seriously ill. Yes indeed, folks... we're certainly winning the hearts and minds.

Hobby or Investment? You decide.

posted by Jazz at 1/25/2005 11:06:00 AM

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I know that there are many of you living lives filled with regret over not getting in on some of the collecting kicks that were becoming popular when you were younger. Or perhaps you did collect things, but gave up on it at an early age. I can hear you now, saying, "Man. If only I'd kept that book full of Indian Head pennies, or my box of baseball cards with the original Sandy Koufax! I'd have it made, now."

Well, this is your big chance. Don't miss the boat yet again. I'm sure you'll want to get in on the ground floor of this.

More baseless accusations?

posted by Jazz at 1/25/2005 09:53:00 AM

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Last week, in a post titled, "Carnival of the not feeling so terribly liberated", we talked about Iraqi bloggers making some accusations against U.S. and Iraqi troops engaging in some awful behavior. These charges included things such as: soldiers stealing money from Iraqis while questioning them at roadblocks or raiding their homes, sexual abuse and sodomy of people being questioned, and other terrible activities.

At the time, even I took pains to point out that some of it sounded very difficult to believe, but that the point of interest was the fact that this perception exists among those we are claiming to "liberate." Perceptions, in the battle for public opinion and support, are often more important than reality.

We received some negative comments and a number of fairly harsh e-mails about it. In fact, one Bushie blog even posted a challenge for somebody to "take this on" because it was obviously all liberal propaganda. Well, as with so many of these stories, a bit of time passes and journalists get busy digging, and what do they find? (I will warn you ahead of time that some of this gets awfully graphic and unsettling. If you are easily disturbed, you may want to just skip ahead past the quoted text.

Army Closed Many Abuse Cases Early

Army personnel have admitted to beating or threatening to kill Iraqi detainees and stealing money from Iraqi civilians but have not been charged with criminal conduct, according to newly released Army documents. The newly released reports detail allegations similar to those that surrounded the documented abuse at Abu Ghraib -- such as beatings with rifle butts, prolonged hooding, sodomy, electric shocks, stressful shackling, and the repeated withholding of clothing and food -- but they also encompass alleged offenses at military prisons and checkpoints elsewhere in Iraq.

A January 2004 probe, for example, found that nine soldiers in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment based at Fort Carson, Colo., and deployed in Iraq "were possibly involved in a criminal conspiracy to rob Iraqi citizens of currency" at traffic-control points. Two members of the unit affirmed the plan in sworn statements and named its participants.

Another detainee said he was whisked off a Baghdad street by two U.S. soldiers, blindfolded and taken to an unknown location, where he was beaten by wooden sticks, sodomized and given electric shocks during an interrogation session. He was also one of three detainees who said in separate cases that he was forced to drink urine.

"They made me take a picture with the captain giving me a hundred-dollar bill," the detainee said. "They then threatened to show the picture to the Iraqis and say I was working with them."

Medical examinations corroborated the injuries to the detainee's wrists and noted injuries to his anus. Military lawyers ruled that the "investigation did not further diminish the integrity or credibility of [the] allegation," according to a report dated Aug. 5, but they closed the case.

Only a handful of the 54 investigations of alleged detainee abuse and other illicit activities detailed in the documents led to recommended penalties as severe as a court-martial or discharge from military service. Most led to administrative fines or simply withered because investigators could not find victims or evidence.

The documents, which date from mid-2003 to mid-2004 and were obtained by five nongovernmental organizations through a joint lawsuit, suggest that the pursuit of military justice in Iraq has been hampered by the investigators' closure of many cases without reaching a determination of likely innocence or guilt.
You know, even though I don't want to think things like this are common, even a small number of incidents like this which the Army is actually documenting is more than enough to give the citizens of Iraq a very solid impression of exactly who they are dealing with. And yet Bush and Rummy have the nerve to act surprised that there is a large, armed resistance to the occupation, and keep insisting that it's a handful of dead end Saddam loyalists. The propaganda machine is working overtime here, friends.

It will come as no surprise that Tbogg has done a much more thorough job of tearing this story apart, comparing statements by Bush at his inaugural gala to the realities on the ground. It's too long and well written to spoil it by snipping out sections, so I leave you to read it in its entirety.

Laura, at War and Piece, has more on this.

Brit "terror" suspects head home

posted by Jazz at 1/25/2005 09:15:00 AM

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I found this story originally in the BBC, but after some digging found it buried quite a ways down in the "liberal" New York Times. It seems that the last four British citizens who have been held without trial or access to legal advice in Gitmo for nearly three years are on their way home.

The men, one from Birmingham and three from London, were held after the US accused them of having al-Qaeda links.

Moazzam Begg, Martin Mubanga, Richard Belmar and Feroz Abbasi are expected to be questioned under UK anti-terror laws after their return to RAF Northolt.

The US agreed the men could be released after "complex" talks with the UK.

Britain has provided "security guarantees" to Washington in relation to the men, who were held without trial, but has not said what they include.

This isn't the first release of British subjects from our little fun camp in Cuba.

Five other British detainees were freed from Guantanamo last year and were released without charge after questioning by police in the UK.

Some later said they had been hooded, shackled to the floor in painful stress positions and witnessed beatings and other abuse during their time at Guantanamo.

Good job, Rummy. We are allegedly the model of human rights for the rest of the world. So we shackle these guys up for three years, beat the hell out of them, and then send them back to their homes where the Brits "release them after questioning." Small wonder that certain international human rights watchdogs aren't exactly singing our praises these days.

Tony Blair runs a country where their leaders are subject to a bit more examination and questioning that present day America. He's apparently a bit nervous about this joyous piece of news.

Their release closes an embarrassing chapter for Tony Blair, Washington's closest ally in the war in Iraq, but leaves open the key question of why it has taken so long.

Political discomfort for Blair over the release of the men after three years without charge in the U.S.-run prison camp on Cuba is likely to be rapidly overtaken, though, by the chaotic Iraqi elections next Sunday, analysts said.

"There is an element of potential embarrassment there to the government. But it is dwarfed in significance by the issue of whether there can be any kind of effective government in Iraq,'' said Wyn Grant, politics professor at Warwick University.

Also difficult for Blair is the continued imprisonment without trial of 11 foreign nationals under post-Sept. 11 anti-terror laws -- detentions that the country's highest court last month declared illegal.

How is it that Tony is still in charge in England today? Almost his entire nation knew that this war was wrong and protested violently. The man is nearly as culpable in this fiasco as Bush. How does he still have a job?

Looking out my back door

posted by Jazz at 1/25/2005 08:24:00 AM

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And then I woke up.



Dear Johnny

posted by Jazz at 1/25/2005 07:45:00 AM

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I know that there have been a ton of Johnny Carson tributes making the rounds, and the more cynical among you might already be tiring of them. But in today's nyt, Steve Martin wrote one that really made me go all mistly for a moment.
If I could wake you up for a minute, I would ask you to tell me how good you thought you were. "Between you and me," I think you would whisper, "I know I was great in a subtle, secret way." I think you would also say: "I enjoyed and understood the delights of split-second timing, of watching a comedian squirm and then rescue himself, of the surprises that arise from the fractional seconds of desperation when the comedian senses that the end of his sentence might fall to silence."
I saw a biography of Steve Martin a while ago - I think it was on Bravo - where he talked about Johnny Carson. This was well before anyone even suspected that Johnny's health was failing, and Martin still fully credited Carson with his career. He talked about one of his very early appearances where he just plain bombed. He was doing prop schtick without enough jokes written into it, and the audience was falling asleep. At a moment like that, Carson could have decided that he was no good and never had him back again. I believe that Steve said, if that had happened he might have wound up "selling shoes for a living." But Carson saw something in him, believed in him, and had him back again. Of course, he completely killed that time, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Steve Martin writes an excellent goodbye letter to Carson. Give it a read... but get your tissues ready.

Jon Bon Jovi

posted by Jazz at 1/25/2005 07:44:00 AM

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Still not dead.

Pardon me, but I still can't explain why I found this story incredibly funny.

Pretty face....Empty Head

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/25/2005 02:03:00 AM

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If there was ever any doubt that Brian Williams got the anchor job entirely because of his looks there isn't any now.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams thinks Limbaugh should get more credit
Brian Williams, who replaced Tom Brokaw as anchor and managing editor of NBC's Nightly News on December 2, 2004, said in an interview with C-SPAN founder, president, and CEO Brian Lamb: "it's my duty to listen to [nationally syndicated radio host] Rush" Limbaugh and that "Rush has actually yet to get the credit he is due."

From the December 26, 2004, interview:

WILLIAMS: I do listen to Rush. I listen to it from a radio in my office, or depending on my day, if I'm in the car, I will listen to Rush. And he will tell you I've been listening for years. I think it's my duty to listen to Rush. I think Rush has actually yet to get the credit he is due, because his audience for so many years felt they were in the wilderness of this country. No one was talking to them.

[...]

Rush said to millions of Americans, you have a home. Come with me. For three hours a day you can listen and hear the like-minded calling in from across the country, and I'll read to you things perhaps you didn't see that are out there. I think Rush gave birth to the FOX News Channel. I think Rush helped to give birth to a movement. I think he played his part in the Contract with America. So I hope he gets his due as a broadcaster.
Media matters has examples of the kind of trash Limbaugh should get credit for. Of course I will give Limbaugh credit for something; encouraging the hateful ignorance that has made the United States feared and hated all over the world.

It's Time I Made a Full Disclosure

posted by Mike at 1/25/2005 01:07:00 AM

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With regards to Jazz's post below entitled "We Get Letters":

There are generally a bunch of things linked from the right hand column of Running Scared. They change often. NONE of them... and I mean absolutely zero, are paying customers. They are things that I feel are worth linking. Even the rest of the bloggers here don't put any links to any organizations (except possibly other bloggers they like) on this page without talking to me first. It's just things that I (or we) feel supportive of. Not paid.

If this ever changes in the future, I will loudly proclaim it first, but nothing you see there is a paid ad.


Now that this has all come to light, I should disclose my weekly salary from Jazz Enterprises, Ltd. of $100,000, and that $25,000 stipend I demand of each link I manage to sneak into the sidebar under Jazz's nose. And Jazz, you just thought I was doing that CSS work out of the goodness of my heart, didn't you!

Furthermore, my endorsement of George Lakoff in an earlier blog entry came at a price of $15,000 (in rolls of nickels) and 100 free copies of his book, and I'm getting a paid stipend of 10 Pizza Hut gift certificates per week from the Dean for DNC Chair campaign to occasionally plug him here.

I'm seeing if I can swing something with the Bush administration for a combo package of two "Get Out of Draft FREE" cards and $100,000. Hey, it's not Armstrong Williams' kind of money, but I don't have his stature. So if you see me suddenly defending that son of a b—

*phone rings* Be right back.

Where was I? Oh, yes. So if you see me suddenly coming to my senses and realizing that Bush and Cheney have our best interests at heart and are merely exercising calm and responsible leadership in a time of w— pardon me for a second.

[slightly distant retching noise]

I'm sorry, I'll have to come back to that thought in a later blog entry.

Anyway, any telephone inquiries about these arrangements should be directed to my business manager, whose telephone number is (800) 282-2882.

Monday, January 24, 2005

We Get Letters

posted by Jazz at 1/24/2005 05:37:00 PM

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"You link to several sites and organizations in your right hand column, some of which I never see any of you comment on. Are these paying sites or advertisments? You make a lot of noise about people taking money to comment. Is anyone paying you? If your [sic] honest, you should say."

I'll make this short. There are generally a bunch of things linked from the right hand column of Running Scared. They change often. NONE of them... and I mean absolutely zero, are paying customers. They are things that I feel are worth linking. Even the rest of the bloggers here don't put any links to any organizations (except possibly other bloggers they like) on this page without talking to me first. It's just things that I (or we) feel supportive of. Not paid.

If this ever changes in the future, I will loudly proclaim it first, but nothing you see there is a paid ad.

That is all.

American Conservative Realizes Iraq is a Black Hole

posted by Jazz at 1/24/2005 05:34:00 PM

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Ron has the details at Middle Earth Journal.

I'm .... I'm ... I'm just in shock.

A Little Help

posted by Jazz at 1/24/2005 04:08:00 PM

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While many might be loathe to assist any cause that diminutive neocon harpy Michelle Malkin supports, this merits some wide attention.

Jordan Zane Trimarchi was born last Tuesday with a 3.5 centimeter tumor in his lower left ventricle. Surgeons at Columbia Presbyterian Children's Hospital in New York City were able to remove some of the tumor, but not all of it. At this point, Jordan's only chance is a heart transplant--but that won't happen unless a suitable donor is found.

Jordan's father, Jeff Trimarchi, a regular reader of this blog, is asking the blogosphere to help get the word out. Jeff's e-mail address is jeff.trimarchi@verizon.net. More details are available at www.jordanzane.com.


This is a tiny baby that, as per the parents' website, only has a couple of days to live without a suitable transplant donor being found. (See link in quoted text.) The odds of anyone in the tragic position of being a potential donor family reading blogs at a time like this is vanishingly small, but with the wide audience that the blogosphere garners, there is a chance that somebody, somewhere knows a friend, neighbor, etc. where a match might be found.

I'll be the first to admit that, from my reading of Malkin's column and the posts and comments in blogs that link to her (her fans) a majority of them would likely not waste the bodily fluid to spit on a Kerry voter if they were on fire, but I think that this is a situation that goes past partisan lines. It's a time to show some of the neocons what the "compassionate" in compassionate conservative really means. It would be a "Good Thing" if this could be spread quickly across liberal blogs.

Yes, I know... Michelle is somebody who would rather see a woman die than get an abortion, and thinks it was a fine idea to lock up all the "Japs" during WW2. But this really isn't about her. It's about a family with a small child in trouble, and the possiblility that help might be found still exists. Please lend a hand if you can.