Saturday, January 21, 2006

Takin' an arrow
Returning Abramoff cash 'taints' tribes, Murray says

OLYMPIA -- Sen. Patty Murray said Friday that returning contributions from Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff would "taint" the tribes.

The state's senior senator, a Seattle Democrat, said there was nothing wrong with accepting more than $40,000 in campaign donations from out-of-state tribes represented by the disgraced lobbyist…

The donations, from 1999 to 2005, placed Murray second among Senate Democrats and ninth overall in the Senate, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C., organization that tracks money in politics.

Abramoff has pleaded guilty to fraud, corruption and tax evasion.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in Michigan gave Murray $14,980. She received $12,000 from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in California; $9,000 from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians; and $5,000 from the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the report said.

A number of lawmakers, including Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., returned similar contributions or sent the money to charity. Murray's staff announced last month that she saw no reason to do so.
Patty was never the sharpest tomahawk in the tepee.

And yet who doubts he’d command that the ‘beast’ protect him from his fan
The Author Who Got A Big Boost From bin Laden
Historian 'Glad' of Mention As Sales of Book Skyrocket


Twenty-four hours after Osama bin Laden told the world that the American people should read the work of a little-known Washington historian, William Blum was still adjusting.

Blum, who at 72 is accustomed to laboring in relative left-wing obscurity, checked his emotions and pronounced himself shocked and, well, pleased.

"This is almost as good as being an Oprah book," he said yesterday between telephone calls from the world media and bites of a bagel. "I'm glad." Overnight, his 2000 work, "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower," had become an Osama book…

From Blum's end of the conversations, you could tell the reporters were expecting him to express some kind of discomfort, remorse, maybe even shame. Blum refused to acknowledge feelings he did not have.

"I was not turned off by such an endorsement," he informed a New York radio station. "I'm not repulsed, and I'm not going to pretend I am." He patiently reiterated the thesis of his foreign-policy critique -- that American interventions abroad create enemies…

Blum said his life's mission has been this: "If not ending, at least slowing down the American Empire. At least injuring the beast. It's causing so much suffering around the world."

And if he is happy to accept bin Laden's plug, he certainly doesn't want to meet his terrorist fan.


"If he would contact me," said Blum, "then I would be scared."

Having a gay old time in Hollywood
E! Reporter Rubs Some Celebs Wrong Way

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Was it playfully outrageous, or just plain offensive? Live from the red carpet at the 63rd annual Golden Globes, E! correspondent Isaac Mizrahi groped Scarlett Johansson's breast, looked down Teri Hatcher's dress, asked Eva Longoria about her pubic hair and otherwise caught celebrities off-guard.

The openly gay fashion designer didn't mean to offend anyone, E! Networks President and CEO Ted Harbert told The Associated Press on Friday.

"I've hired Isaac because I felt the red carpet work on television, not just on E!, had become predictable, staid and frankly boring. What I wanted is someone who would bring surprise," Harbert said…

E! has not received any official complaints from any of the actresses involved in Mizrahi's Golden Globes appearance, and no apologies have been issued, Harbert said.

However, Mizrahi's comment to Charlize Theron about her Oscar-winning role as a "scary dyke with bad teeth" in 2004's "Monster" elicited a formal complaint from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation…

“Behind the phony tinsel of Hollywood lies the real tinsel.”
Oscar Levant

Forget negotiations, re-instate the automation plan for the ‘L’

At some point, enough is enough. Without a contract (see below) the MTA can start lopping off the deadwood at $50,000+ a stroke while simultaneously improving service for the subway’s riders. Even a bonehead would get the message.
NYC Transit Workers Reject New Contract

NEW YORK (AP) -- The president of the city's transit workers union said its leaders were ready to go back to the drawing board after 33,000 bus and subway workers narrowly rejected a tentative contract deal reached after last month's crippling strike.

Workers on Friday rejected the contract by just seven votes, with 11,234 against and 11,227 in favor. The vote was a sharp rebuke to Transport Workers Union local president Roger Toussaint, who persuaded workers to walk off the job in December but could not muster enough support for the deal.

The strike, which started Dec. 20, was the first systemwide strike since an 11-day walkout in 1980. It left millions of New Yorkers and tourists scrambling to find ways to get around the city…

"I would not advocate going back on strike," said union Vice President Ainsley Stewart, who opposed the new contract.

Stewart said opponents were most upset by a provision that would have required workers to contribute part of their salaries toward health care premiums for the first time.

MTA Chairman Peter S. Kalikow issued a written statement expressing disappointment with the vote. The MTA, which oversees the city's mass transit system, also informed the union it intends to seek binding arbitration to resolve the dispute; Ed Watt, the secretary-treasurer of the union, said the union would oppose it…

The rejected contract would have provided raises of 3 percent in the first year, then 4 percent and 3.5 percent in the following two years. But it would have required the workers for the first time to contribute 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health care premiums.
Some subway trains running with computer supervision

New York City Transit last year began operating trains on the L line with operators but no conductors. That decision was overruled by a labor arbitrator.
Judge orders L train to keep conductors

A Manhattan judge sided with the transit union Monday and ordered conductors to remain on the L train.

The MTA had challenged an arbitrator's decision that removing conductors from the L violated the Transport Workers Union's contract in New York Supreme Court. The ruling reinforces the arbitrator's decision and prevents the MTA from removing the conductors…

The MTA removed about 70 conductors from the L line, which runs from Canarsie in Brooklyn to Chelsea in Manhattan, last June as part of a money-saving initiative.
NYC Subway Gets Computer Facelift

L-line trains will run without conductors, except in emergencies, coasting along at preordained speeds and stopping automatically at stations, a lone train operator in the front car watching the controls. San Francisco has had this technology for years, and Paris has one such line.

Tell that to Teddy

"Most people here see this as an act of revenge and an improper attack on the judicial system. You don't go after a judge personally because you disagree with his judgments."
New Hampshire State Rep. Neal Kurk
Activists Seek to Evict Souter From Home

Friday, January 20, 2006

Storms will seek out African-Americans

21st century hurricanes that reach landfall in the United States will be able to discern the race of the humans in their paths and will home in on black people. Scientists, who are not certain how these catastrophic storms are able to bypass the 8 in 9 Americans who are not black, believe the mutation was caused by Bush Administration Policy.

Nutty, right? Yeah, well read this:
Global Warming Could Spell Disaster for Blacks

Membership dilemma? No problem. We’ll just play pretend.

Code Pink revisits imaginary playmate episodes of childhood

Harvard study: White children are an elixir

What other conclusion can you draw from the reporting on their study [below]?

In Denver public schools, white children are in the minority (1 in 5 are white) yet when 4,800 of them (out of 73,000 total students) end up in classrooms where they are in the majority, the Harvard study says the remaining 55,406 non-white students are segregated, to their detriment, from these white students.

And the 2,916 non-white non-black non-latino students? I guess Harvard and reporter Hari Krishnan have no problem with the way they’re sprinkled about.
End of busing reignites Denver segregation
By Hari Krishnan

Denver, Jan. 20 (UPI) — A Harvard University study says segregation has returned to schools in Denver since a court-ordered busing ended in 1995.

The study says white students re-segregated rapidly after the desegregation order was lifted, reports the Denver Post.

The study done for Denver's Piton Foundation says individual schools no longer represent the city's demographics. Denver's student population is 57 percent Latino, 20 percent white and 19 percent black, reports the Denver Post.

"You have white students who are concentrated in schools with other white students," said the study's researcher Chungmei Lee. "Latino students are especially isolated."

The study said the average Latino student attends a school that is 71 percent Latino. And in a district that is one-fifth white, more than one-third of white students attend schools where they are in the majority.

Superintendent Michael Bennet said he is committed to improving academic programs to "cultivate the kind of diversity in the student body that we all want."

But civil rights experts see the trend happening in other cities that were once under desegregation orders.

WaPo’s close encounter with the Angry Left
Post blog closed because of profanity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) — The Washington Post has closed a popular blog because comments on the Web site targeting the newspaper's ombudsman were becoming profane.

The Post, which offers a series of reader-contribution sites through its washingtonpost.com address, said while other Internet conversations would continue, they stopped one that was discussing Ombudsman Deborah Howell.

Howell, in a recent column, wrote that Democrats had accepted campaign donations from lobbyist Jack Abramoff, when it is clients of the lobbyists who had given the money. The difference is the crux of the Abramoff scandal being considered a solely Republican one or a broader case on Capitol Hill.

The blog, which had been active about two months, was closed Thursday.

Jim Brady, executive editor at washingtonpost.com, told The New York Times that policing the blog for profane comments about Howell was "sucking up the time of two people." He added other conversations on the site do not have similar problems.

The Los Angeles Times, which tried a reader-contribution site regarding its editorials, closed the site after just two days of operation after hackers were able to link it to pornographic Web sites.

Remember that what you believe will depend very much on what you are.”
Noah Porter

Tsk, tsk. Ya’d think we called him a Wop or something.

Members of the Republican National Committee must start each day with smiles on their faces knowing the Harry Reid is still the Senate Minority Leader.
Reid apologizes for release insulting 33 Republicans

A day after he announced his campaign for clean government, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid had to apologize for a political document that his official office sent out slamming 33 Senate Republicans.

"I am writing to apologize for the tone of this document and the decision to single out individual senators for criticism in it," the Nevada Democrat wrote in a letter yesterday that said he regrets "the current political climate in which policy disputes escalate too quickly into personal condemnation…"

"Researching, compiling and distributing what amounts to nothing more than a campaign ad on the taxpayer's dime raises serious ethical questions," said Sen. John Cornyn, one of the document's main targets. "Senator Reid once chaired the ethics committee, he should know better…"

Brian Nick, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Democrats knew the document was political from the start.

He said Mr. Reid consistently goes too far in politicking, pointing to his appearance on PBS' "News Hour" program Wednesday, when he questioned the credibility of Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who is overseeing Senate Republicans' reform efforts, and compared him to a mob boss.

"Having Senator Santorum talk about reform is like having John Gotti talk about doing something about organized crime," Mr. Reid said.


That drew a rebuke and a demand for an apology from the Order Sons of Italy in America.

"For the Senate minority leader to associate the highest ranking Italian-American in the Senate with a criminal like John Gotti is beyond any political issues that may exist between the two parties," the group said. "It shows a profound lack of respect for a Senate colleague as well as the nation's estimated 26 million law-abiding Italian-Americans."

[Jim Manley, who runs Reid's communications center] responded by saying, "The fact is that Senator Santorum should be the last person leading the Republican effort to reform Congress."

Hollywood fashion police: OMG she wore a hand-me-down!!!!
Witherspoon's Globe Gown Was Worn by Dunst

NEW YORK (AP) -- Reese Witherspoon's gown wasn't vintage - though it had been worn by another actress three years ago.

Photos published this week showed the Golden Globe winner wearing the same glittery Chanel cocktail dress that Kirsten Dunst had worn to the awards in 2003.

This is earthshattering news to this vacuous crowd and yet they want to be taken seriously when they expound on American jurisprudence and foreign policy.

This is an easy one – boycott the movie

It’s hard to make money when nobody buys a ticket or the DVD. Wouldn’t it be nice to see these Hollywood lice have to eat an $8 million loss?
Pope's failed assassin to star in film of attack

MEHMET Ali Agca, the man who shot Pope John Paul II, has struck a £4.5 million deal to make a Hollywood film explaining how and why he carried out the 1981 attack, according to an interview with his friend and bodyguard published yesterday.

Agca, 48, has already been given an advance of £280,000 by the unidentified film company which has secured the exclusive rights to tell his story and finally reveal his motivation, according to a report in an Italian news magazine…
Update:

Oops – is Hollywood out $500,000?

Maybe the film company will file an amicus brief to help spring Agca and save their investment.
Man Who Shot Pope Back in Police Custody

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Osama bin Laden: How about a truce?

Translation: We need to regroup and we can’t do it with you cutting off our funds and bombing the hell out of us.

Scott McClellan has the right answer (see below).
CIA Confirms It's Bin Laden on Audiotape

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Al-Jazeera on Thursday aired an audiotape from Osama bin Laden, who says al-Qaida is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offers a truce on "fair" but undefined conditions. The CIA has authenticated the voice on the tape as that of bin Laden, an agency official said.

The tape's release came days after a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan that was targeting bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and reportedly killed four leading al-Qaida figures, including possibly al-Zawahri's son-in-law. There was no mention of the attack on the segments that were broadcast…

The United States will not let up in the war on terror despite the threats on the tape, said White House press secretary Scott McClellan. "We do not negotiate with terrorists," McClellan said. "We put them out of business…"

Jeremy Bennie, a terrorism analyst for Jane's Defense Weekly, said bin Laden appeared to be "playing the peacemaker, the more statesmanlike character" with his offer of a truce.

"They want to promote the image that they can launch attacks if and when it suits them. That's the message of a powerful organization, not a weakened one. They want us to believe they are in control," he said.

Terrell and Derrell in peril
'Idol' Twins Charged With Forgery, Theft

American Cancers Love Us (ACLU)
Civil liberties groups sue to end surveillance

Two civil liberties groups yesterday sued President Bush and the National Security Agency, seeking an immediate end to the government's program of warrantless surveillance of terrorist suspects.

"President Bush may believe he can authorize spying on Americans without judicial or congressional approval, but this program is illegal and we intend to put a stop to it," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The organization filed its lawsuit in federal court in Detroit on behalf of prominent journalists, scholars, attorneys, and national nonprofit organizations that frequently communicate by phone and e-mail with people in the Middle East.

"They believe their communications are being intercepted by the NSA," the ACLU said. "The program is disrupting their ability to talk with sources, locate witnesses, conduct scholarship and engage in advocacy."

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a similar lawsuit in federal court in New York.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the lawsuits frivolous and said the spying program was used to target "international communications involving known al Qaeda members or members of an affiliated terrorist organization…"

CCR said its lawyers represent hundreds of men detained as enemy combatants at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In the course of representing them and others accused of al Qaeda ties, the attorneys have "engaged in innumerable telephone calls and e-mails with people outside the United States," CCR said.

"Given that the government has accused many of CCR's overseas clients of being associated with Al Qaeda or of interest to the 9/11 investigation, there is little question that these attorneys have been subject to the NSA Surveillance Program," CCR said…

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

‘Militants’ instead of ‘terrorists’ might still be too harsh a term


How about ‘nonviolence-challenged activists advocating theocratic fascism’?

That has a nice ring to it.

Strike Reportedly Kills al-Qaida Militants

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Pakistani intelligence agents hunted Wednesday for the graves of four al-Qaida militants believed killed in an airstrike near the Afghan border — including one authorities suspect was a high-ranking al-Qaida figure...

We don’t want no stinkin emails
Want to e-Mail a 'NY Times' Columnist? Better Subscribe to TimesSelect

NEW YORK If you haven't signed up for TimesSelect, The New York Times' online subscription product, don't bother e-mailing the paper's star columnists.

Since the Times put the words of its eight Op-Ed columnists behind a paid wall last September, it has also decided that only TimesSelect subscribers should be allowed to e-mail Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, et al.

Back in September the Times asked the hundreds of papers who publish the Op-Ed contributors through The New York Times News Service (NYTNS) to stop printing the writers' e-mail addresses with the columns (and to take the columns off their Web sites, too). Apparently not everyone got the message, because last week the Times' syndication service sent out an advisory reminding its client papers to remove the e-mail addresses...
Presumably, snail mail from someone who reads the Times is still acceptable.

Hey, that’s it! There’s a method to the madness; this will force people to buy the printed paper. How else will they see if their missive got published? I take it back, these NY Times guys are marketing geniuses.

NY Times “reporter” Eric Lichtblau is…

Pick one:
  • Dumber than a box of rocks
  • A partisan hack

2002 Memo Doubted Uranium Sale Claim

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 - A high-level intelligence assessment by the Bush administration concluded in early 2002 that the sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq was "unlikely" because of a host of economic, diplomatic and logistical obstacles, according to a secret memo that was recently declassified by the State Department…

The analysts' doubts were registered nearly a year before President Bush, in what became known as the infamous "16 words" in his 2003 State of the Union address, said that Saddam Hussein had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Here are those 16 words: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

And Powerline and Captains Quarters and MarketWatch and Yahoo Financials demonstrate why Lichtblau and his ilk at the Times are never going to see what hit them.

Exploiting your children to hawk your political views, part two

Over at the WeeklyStandard.com I found A Gay Easter?
FOR OVER A HUNDRED YEARS children have gathered on the South Lawn of the White House on the Monday after Easter to roll Easter eggs across the yard and meet the Easter Bunny. Seemingly few (if any) Washingtonians have ever tried to exploit the annual White House Easter Egg Roll for political purposes. Until now. A church-based homosexual rights group is planning to crash the event with a "family visibility action" to spotlight their non-traditional families.

"On April 17, 2006, when the White House lawn is opened to families for the Annual Easter Egg Roll, imagine if the first 1,000 families onto the lawn were LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] families," enthused a January 4 email alert from Soulforce. Once America sees the White House lawn awash in LGBT families, "there will be no going back," Soulforce promised.

Soulforce is the political organizing tool of self-described "militant gay activist" Mel White, the former Jerry Falwell speech writer who discovered his gayness and became a clergyman in the predominantly homosexual Metropolitan Community Churches…

Although Soulforce insists this will not be a political protest, only a gathering for families, its supporters will arrive with special "non-political" t-shirts to identify themselves as "LGBT."

Here’s part one

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pedigree can open doors, but only character should keep them open

Ted K. to quit club that bans women

U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy — who ripped Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito for ties to a group that discriminates against women — says he’s going to quit a club notorious for discriminating against women “as fast as I can...”

Asked by [WHDH Channel 7’s Andy] Hiller whether he is still a member, Kennedy said, “I’m not a member; I continue to pay about $100."

He then said of being a member in a club that discriminates against women, “I shouldn’t be and I’m going to get out of it as fast as I can.”

Kennedy admitted to Hiller that he himself probably couldn’t pass Judiciary Committee muster.

“Probably not . . . probably not,” Kennedy said.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
Mass. Exodus

By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist | January 15, 2006

FOR THE second year in a row, the Census Bureau reports, the population of Massachusetts has shrunk. During the 12 months ending July 1, 2005, the Bay State experienced a net loss of more than 8,600 residents, or 0.1 percent of its population. It was one of only three states to end the year with fewer people than it had at the start -- New York and Rhode Island were the others -- and the only one to do so for the second year running.

A statistical blip this ain't. Not counting foreign immigrants, Massachusetts has been losing more people than it attracts every year since 1990, according to MassINC, a Boston-based research institute. During the 12 years from 1990 to 2002 -- the excess of people leaving Massachusetts over those entering -- was 213,000, and the hemorrhaging has only gotten worse since then. MassINC reported in 2003 that one-fourth of Bay State residents would leave if they had the opportunity to do so. Among those who have lived in Massachusetts for less than 10 years, the proportion is even higher…

Maybe fewer and fewer people want to call Massachusetts home not because of its oppressive winters but because of its oppressive and demoralizing political culture. In the state that produced Michael S. Dukakis and Sen. Kerry, the concerns of ordinary citizens are so often met with disdain, while the political class lets nothing get in the way of its own appetites and priorities. A state legislature that stays in session year-round? A supreme court that turns same-sex marriage into a constitutional right? Public ''authorities" that answer to no one? In most of America, no way. In Massachusetts, no problem.

On Beacon Hill last week, the big issue for Massachusetts lawmakers was whether tuition should be reduced for illegal aliens at the state's public colleges. On Capitol Hill, the senior senator from Massachusetts was busy implying that Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. is a racist and a liar. Is it such a stretch to imagine that an awful lot of Americans look at Massachusetts and think: How can people stand to live there? Or that a fair number of Massachusetts residents eventually decide that they can't stand to live here?


This is a state in which a tax cut can be decisively approved by the voters yet never go into effect. In which grocers can be prosecuted for pricing milk too low. In which archaic blue laws decree when shops may and may not open for business. In which a $2 billion Big Dig ends up costing $14 billion. In which Ted Kennedy keeps getting reelected.


Is it really any wonder so many people are fleeing Massachusetts? Maybe the real mystery is why so many of us stay.

Use soft words and hard arguments

Or not.
Clinton slams Bush, White House in Harlem

NEW YORK (AP) — Sen. Hillary Clinton on Monday blasted the Bush administration as "one of the worst" in U.S. history and compared the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to a plantation where dissenting voices are squelched…

The House "has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about," said Clinton, D-N.Y…

As a matter of fact, Senator Clinton, we do know what you’re talking about.

Hey, Stupid, I only gave my word, you’ve got nothing in writing
Democrats abort deal on Alito vote

Senate Democrats have scrapped a "good-faith" agreement they made two months ago to allow the Judiciary Committee to vote today on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr…

Under the terms of the November arrangement presented to reporters by Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and ranking Democrat Patrick J. Leahy, Republicans agreed to conduct the confirmation hearings after the holidays and Democrats agreed to allow a committee vote on the nomination today…

But, according to [Leahy’s] office, the November agreement was not binding anyway because it wasn't in writing…

Do not trust all men, but trust men of worth; the former course is silly, the latter a mark of prudence.
Democritus - Greek philosopher (460 BC - 370 BC)

The President learned this lesson years ago; the Congressional Republicans: not so much

Monday, January 16, 2006

Waaaaaaaay too much time on their hands
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A 20-year-old California student has set a world record of 11.13 seconds for finishing a Rubik's cube at an international competition in San Francisco.

Leyan Lo beat last year's record of 11.75 seconds, set in the Netherlands.

"It was a lucky solve," he said. "It was kind of cool. You get good cases and bad cases all the time."

There were other competitions at the event Saturday, Cnetnews.com reported, including the standard 3x3x3, the 3x3x3 blindfolded, the 3x3x3 one-handed and the 4x4x4.

In the blindfolded contest, the trick to solving a Rubik's cube without being able to see is that competitors examine the cube before putting on their blindfolds and memorize all the layers and then, once blinded, apply algorithms they've learned to finish the puzzle.

The nuts are free, but jimmies, cherries and whipped cream are extra
Mayor Ray Nagin says it’s time to rebuild a ‘chocolate’ New Orleans
Update:

We’re dark chocolate, you’re white milk
Nagin calls for rebuilding 'chocolate' New Orleans
Black majority city 'the way God wants it to be'


Pressed later to explain his comments, Nagin, who is black, told CNN affiliate WDSU-TV that he was referring to creation of a racially diverse city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, insisting that his remarks were not divisive...

"How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about," he said...

Large woman with bull’s-eye derrière tattoo drenched with paint
Park rangers combat outdoor sex

Park rangers in Holland are using stinging nettles and thistles to stop couples having sex in the open.

Jos Evers, head ranger of Het Twiske park, near Amsterdam, says about 75 to 100 people regularly use the park for sex.

His rangers have cut back bushes to create space for nettles and thistles to grow, reports De Telegraaf.

He said: "When the weather is fine, we find 10 to 15 couples. They are very difficult to catch because they warn each other with mobile phones when they hear us approaching."

Other tactics include stepping up police patrols and converting one of the most popular areas into a paintball venue.

Max Bialystock and his ‘Broadway angels’

Personally, I think Mel Brooks’ 1968 movie The Producers is the funniest American comedy ever made (I've not see Brooks’ more recent play of the same name nor the new movie based on that play). For those who’ve not seen The Producers (1968) you may want to skip the rest of this.

I’ve just read Mark Steyn’s Ham-handed Dems didn't lay a glove on Alito

Steyn, as usual, focused like a laser…
…The media did their best to neutralize the impact of this pitiful spectacle, with expert commentators on hand to assure us that smart fellows like Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden were only going through the motions for the sake of all that MoveOn.org fund-raising gravy. Don't worry, Ted and Chuck and Pat are way too savvy to believe this junk. Thus democratic politics reaches a new level of circular hell: The spin is that it's only spin...
And here’s where I flashed back to the opening scene of The Producers
...But this last week of Senate hearings has been so absurd it may bring the whole system into disrepute: Big-time Democrats are out there dancing for dollars in a cause so obviously non-viable that their media buddies feel obliged to signal that it's merely a charade. Does that satisfy anybody? If you were one of the elderly feminists at NOW, would you take kindly to hearing that the Democrat bigshots don't believe any of this shtick, it's just a routine they have to go through to keep the little ladies happy...?

NY Times: We don’t need no stinkin integrity
Photo fakery at the New York Times

Is a fake staged photo fit to print? What if it staged in a way that makes the US forces fighting the War on Terror look cruel and ineffective? The evidence argues that yes, it can run, and in a prominent position - at least in the case of the New York Times website.

It appears that the Times, once-upon-a-time regarded as the last word in reliability when it comes to checking before publishing (which makes them so much better than blogs, of course), has run a fake photo on the home page of its website. The photo has since been removed from the home page, but still can be seen here .[Ed - see below for original caption]

The picture shows a sad little boy, with a turbaned man next to him, a little bit further from the camera, amid the ruins of a house. Other men and boys peer in from the background. The photo [was originally] captioned:
“Pakistani men with the remains of a missile fired at a house in the Bajur tribal zone near the Afghan border.”
The story it accompanies is about the apparently failed attempt to take out al Qaeda’s #2 man al Zawahiri, with a missile attack from a Predator drone.

“How sad!” readers are encouraged to think. “These poor people are on the receiving end of awful weapons used by the clumsy minions of Bush. And all to no avail. Isn’t it terrible? Why must America do such horrible misdeeds? Bush must go!”

The only problem is that the long cylindrical item with a conical tip pictured with the boy and the man is not a missile at all. It is an old artillery shell. Not something that would have been fired from a Predator. Indeed, something that must have been found elsewhere and posed with the ruins and the little boy as a means at pulling of the heartstrings of the gullible readers of the New York Times. [Ed. - bold and italics are mine]

The remainder of the article provides the technical details a competent journalist reporting on military operations would have at his/her fingertips.

Paraphrasing the Greek philosopher Heraclitus: A newspaper's character is its fate.

Hey, if you’re at the bottom, become a bottom-feeder
CBS: In the Money
NBC falls, ABC rises in B&C's annual ranking of broadcast and cable networks


The biggest shift is NBC's dramatic 23% drop from $5.1 billion to just $3.9 billion. Its prime time audience shrank 15% this season, following a 17% dive during 2004-05. The prime time loss was exacerbated by the absence of ad revenue from the Summer Olympics, which had aired on NBC in 2004. The biggest gainer is Fox News Channel, up 22%.
So what does NBC do? In a country where ‘Christian’ is second (77%) only to the category ‘human’ as a demographic, they broadcast The Book of Daniel.
"The Book of Daniel," an NBC show about a pill-popping Episcopal priest who works for an adulterous bishop and must contend with a drug-dealing daughter, a boozing wife, a homosexual son and a bisexual sister-in-law…

In an interview, [Jack Kenny, the show's creator and executive producer] said members from All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif., helped him, including the Rev. Susan Russell, an associate who presides over Integrity, the Episcopal Church's homosexual caucus. The Rev. James Farwell, a liturgics professor at General Theological Seminary in New York, also weighed in.

"This is not a show about religion or the Episcopal Church," the producer said. "It's a show about a fictional family in a fictional parish in a fictional town. The Episcopal Church is a backdrop for this, but it's no more about the Episcopal Church than 'Six Feet Under' is about mortuaries."

Mr. Kenny, a homosexual who has said he is "in Catholic recovery," says he may join the Episcopal Church partly because his partner of 24 years is a member. Although the partner's family, who are WASPs, were the models for the dysfunctional family in "The Book of Daniel," that didn't tarnish Mr. Kenny's appreciation for Episcopalianism.

I’m not a religious person so this post is not born from an offense taken. I do, however, have some experience in marketing. And I don’t ever recall the poke-them-in-the-eye-with-a-stick approach as a productive stratagem for attracting customers.

This is just sad. Has no one the decency to keep Walter from microphones?
Cronkite: Time for U.S. to Leave Iraq

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite [now 89], whose 1968 conclusion that the Vietnam War was unwinnable [sic] keenly influenced public opinion then, said Sunday he'd say the same thing today about Iraq.

"It's my belief that we should get out now," Cronkite said in a meeting with reporters...

The best time to have made a similar statement about Iraq came after Hurricane Katrina, he said.

“We had an opportunity to say to the world and Iraqis after the hurricane disaster that Mother Nature has not treated us well and we find ourselves missing the amount of money it takes to help these poor people out of their homeless situation and rebuild some of our most important cities in the United States," he said. "Therefore, we are going to have to bring our troops home."

Iraqis should have been told that "our hearts are with you" and that the United States would do all it could to rebuild their country, he said.

At least this time "the most trusted man in America" didn’t say Karl Rove was somehow behind what “Mother Nature” did.
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Bin Laden Releases New Videotape


[LARRY] KING: They'll all be here, Walter. Walter Cronkite, the legendary journalist and old friend, a great man in the history of broadcast journalists, and maybe the most revered person ever to go on camera. Let's first play a little bit of this tape, in which bin Laden, released today, directly addresses the American people. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: OK, Walter. What do you make of this?

CRONKITE: Well, I make it out to be initially the reaction that it's a threat to us, that unless we make peace with him, in a sense, we can expect further attacks. He did not say that precisely, but it sounds like that when he says...

KING: The warning.

CRONKITE: What we just heard. So now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa explosive dump. Right now, that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign.

I’m sure the Ministry of Silly Walks can broker a solution here
Islamic group urges Catholic school to move to Muslim faith

AN ISLAMIC campaign group has called for a Catholic primary school to be based on the Muslim faith.

The Campaign for Muslim Schools said 90 per cent of pupils at St Albert's Primary, in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow, are Muslim, yet children are having to take part in Catholic rituals like saying the Lord's Prayer and attending mass.

Osama Saeed, co-ordinator of the alliance of Glasgow's main mosques and Muslim organisations, said he could see no reason why the main faith of the school should not change.

He said: "Clearly the parents of that area find a faith school, even if it is of another denomination, preferable to a secular one. But surely it should be possible for them to have one that is relevant to their own faith.

"To move towards this would be a fantastic example of good faith - in more ways than one - on the part of the Church."

Perhaps a merger, after all it’s not the Church of England they’re after now, is it. The new faith could be called Musolics and the school called St. Abdul’s Primary.

That’s it then.

God save the Queen!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Playing field graffiti

I haven’t watched many NFL games this season, only really started paying attention during the playoffs.

But what’s with all the arm tattoos?

Is this a new professional athlete ‘right of passage’?

Washington Post: Elections matter, democracy best served by reasoned debate
Confirm Samuel Alito

THE SENATE'S decision concerning the confirmation of Samuel A. Alito Jr. is harder than the case last year of now-Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Judge Alito's record raises concerns across a range of areas. His replacement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor could alter -- for the worse, from our point of view -- the Supreme Court's delicate balance in important areas of constitutional law. He would not have been our pick for the high court. Yet Judge Alito should be confirmed, both because of his positive qualities as an appellate judge and because of the dangerous precedent his rejection would set…

… Judge Alito's record is complicated, and one can therefore argue against imputing to him any of these tendencies. Yet he is undeniably a conservative whose presence on the Supreme Court is likely to produce more conservative results than we would like to see.

Which is, of course, just what President Bush promised concerning his judicial appointments. A Supreme Court nomination isn't a forum to refight a presidential election. The president's choice is due deference -- the same deference that Democratic senators would expect a Republican Senate to accord the well-qualified nominee of a Democratic president.

And Judge Alito is superbly qualified. His record on the bench is that of a thoughtful conservative, not a raging ideologue. He pays careful attention to the record and doesn't reach for the political outcomes he desires. His colleagues of all stripes speak highly of him. His integrity, notwithstanding efforts to smear him, remains unimpeached…

Supreme Court confirmations have never been free of politics, but neither has their history generally been one of party-line votes or of ideology as the determinative factor. To go down that road is to believe that there exists a Democratic law and a Republican law -- which is repugnant to the ideal of the rule of law. However one reasonably defines the "mainstream" of contemporary jurisprudence, Judge Alito's work lies within it. While we harbor some anxiety about the direction he may push the court, we would be more alarmed at the long-term implications of denying him a seat. No president should be denied the prerogative of putting a person as qualified as Judge Alito on the Supreme Court.
Who’d have thought it?

I may even subscribe again.

NFL should allow roster expansion, many teams need bail bondsmen
Harper, wife, say stabbing was accident

NOBLESVILLE – The wife of Indianapolis Colts cornerback Nick Harper will stay in jail today after stabbing Harper in the leg during an argument in their bedroom, Sheriff Doug Carter said.

Although Nick and Daniell L. Harper both called the stabbing an accident, Carter said, she must await a judge’s decision on her potential threat to Harper and the conditions for her release pending a prosecutor’s review.

She was arrested Saturday on preliminary charges of battery and criminal recklesness with a deadly weapon, both felonies….
As a result of the incident Saturday, both Harpers now face criminal charges in Hamilton County Superior Court. The Colts’ defensive veteran was charged with domestic battery last June after deputies responded to another disturbance at the couple’s Carmel home.

Authorities said Harper hit his wife in the face during that altercation. The case is pending.
Keeping players out of jail until the season ends may become a full time job.

NYC’s Administration for Children's Services (ACS) to get state-of-the-art equipment

Wooden two-by-fours, housed in easy-access wall units, will be installed in ACS offices across the city. The two-foot-long pieces of wood will be used by school teachers and concerned citizens to get and maintain the attention of the department’s caseworkers.
Child's Death Speeds Review of NYC Cases

NEW YORK (AP) -- The outside world knew Nixzmary Brown was a little girl in peril.

Her school saw the warning signs. So did neighbors. Even child welfare workers had been alerted - twice.

This week, the 7-year-old was beaten to death in a Brooklyn apartment where she had been tethered to a chair with twine. It was the fourth homicide in recent months involving a family monitored by the city's Administration for Children's Services, renewing concerns about the agency's ability to protect abused children.

As details of Nixzmary's torment emerged, child welfare officials admitted the system had failed her. They launched an immediate review of thousands of other cases citywide.

ACS Commissioner John Mattingly said, in Nixzmary's case, the family was uncooperative, ignoring repeated phone calls from caseworkers and turning them away at the door. He said the agency should have obtained a court order to enter the home.

"We were in a position to have kept this from happening, and that did not happen," Mattingly said…

Nixzmary's death followed that of three other children known to the agency: a 7-year-old died in October after her father allegedly kneed her in the stomach and beat her with a belt over two days; an infant drowned in November in a bathtub while his mother, who pleaded not guilty Friday to manslaughter charges, listened to CDs in another room; and a 1-year-old was allegedly beaten to death in December by his mother.

School employees had sounded the alarm about Nixzmary last year by reporting that she had been absent for weeks. Caseworkers spoke to her stepfather, mother and the child and found no conclusive evidence of abuse, authorities said.