Thursday, November 13, 2003


I am set up to get some kind of distinction over at the "New Blog Showcase." I really tend not to think of this as a blog, so much as an AP Newswire commentator system. But here's some of the competition I am facing, and it gives you an idea of just how totally awesome blogging can be:

Ancient Coin Collecting! This blog is dedicated to Law, Politics and collecting ancient coins. Totally great.

This guy is in Korea and speaks Korean, and this post is about overhearing Korean people say mean things about him on the subway. "My personal favorite comment about me was heard while I was listening to a mother on the subway trying to silence her screaming brat by saying menacingly, "shut up or that fat foreigner will eat you."

Then, there is a guy who is mocking Al Gore for being against the ill-advised and useless Patriot Act. It's good to know there are some people out there who hold the Patriot Act close to their terror filled hearts. Look out, America! Osamasgannagetcha!!! Getcha-agin! So hand over all your Arabs, lock yourself in your houses and wait for either a) The elimination of anyone capable of committing murder-suicides or b) a giant mushroom cloud, because those are really the only outcomes of "the war on terror." (Oh yeah, but the schools will be open. The schools!)

This has nothing to do with the aforementioned blog, but it astounds me that people can support losing endless personal legal rights- having your library books looked over by the FBI, your house entered and searched secretly, etc- all in the name of preventing terrorists from launching an attack on this country, but we don't dare to touch ownership of a gun that can be used to hold people hostage. Or, you know, kill people. I am not "all about" Gun Control- I believe a great deal of political progress could be made if the Right stopped fighting Abortion and the Left stopped fighting guns- but really, has anyone even seen legislation passed to look at restrictions on gun access since 9/11? Apparently it's actually strengthened the opposition, which makes sense- when you have a bunch of frightened people running around fearing their lives, you ought to give them easier access to guns.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Late Night With Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist  

Democrats are upset about four judicial nominees, so they refuse to approve them. Sometimes, because Dems are a minority, they know the nominees will get through anyway. President Bush knows this too. But, in the senate, there is no way to force a vote. The vote comes when debate on the floor is finished. So, if you filibuster- debate non-stop, literally, day and night- the vote never gets held, and it gets moved to another session, cancelled or the issue goes away. Democrats managed to block four nominees out of 172 by threatening a filibuster. This was just way too much for the Republicans, and now they are retaliating by having a sleepover party where they all talk trash about the Democrats. To fit the rules of a filibuster, someone has to be talking constantly on the floor.

I was surprised CSPAN doesn't have live coverage, but apparently 30 hours of non stop Republican senate rhetoric is even too boring for CSPAN's robotic camera. The sleepover party will start by watching "16 Candles" and the rest of the night the giggly senators will be gossiping about these ultra conservative dreamboats:

Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, who stated that appeals "are crucial only for Monday-morning quarterbacks who try to second-guess things and create issues that are probably not real in the first place." Swoon! This applied to death penalty cases as well. He's argued that reproductive choice, gay rights, and school prayer should have a right to be outlawed, regardless of what the Constitution has to say on the subject.

Texas judge Priscilla Owen. She, like, totally voted to restrict the size of buffer zones for Anti-Abortion protesters outside of abortion clinics in the Texas "Operation Rescue v. Planned Parenthood" case. Can she, like, be any hotter? Because god knows, when you're getting an abortion, seeing a bunch of people across the street screaming "Mommy Mommy Why Did You Kill Me?" just isn't good enough to bring down your buzz. They need to be right up in your face. It's their right.

Mississippi judge Charles Pickering. He like used to be like a total dweeb until like 1994 when a jury like convicted a guy of like burning a cross on a black families like, lawn. Ohmigawd! And he was totally like on the phone all night with the Department of Justice in Washington and asked them to totally refile the case so he like, wouldn't have to give the full sentence the law called for. GW Bush didn't let that stop him from nominating the guy to the second highest court in the country. But you might have made the same decision if you heard this guy rock an 18 minute long drum solo while covering Rush's "Working Man" like he did at the talent show at camp last summer. Dude!

Miguel Estrada, an enigmatic loner and corporate lawyer who keeps himself cloaked in secrecy. The cool thing about this guy is, he just outright refused to answer questions posed by his Senate Judiary Committee hearing. They were all like, "What's your stance on this?" and he was all like, "Whatever." So no one knew where he stood, all they knew is he volunteered his legal services to make sure death row inmates didn't get appeals.

After the gossip is done, you know truth or dare is gonna get crazy- last filibuster, Trent Lott totally took a shower with all his clothes on! It was like sooooo funny.

(Bonus Fillibuster Fun Fact: The word filibuster is a holdover from the senate's days of adventure on the high seas. "Filibusteros" were Portuguese and Spanish Pirates who would capture ships and ransom them off. Thanks, CSPAN!)

(Double Bonus: Does Dolly Parton's song "Red White and Bluegrass" have the line "Proud of Punching Peacocks" in it?)

Links For The Bored 

Giving back to the Blog Community with a few links to other writers:

Hammer Down has a good list for veterans day, concerning Mr. GW Bush and his level of "support for the troops." Maybe things get so bad that we have outright revolt and violent overthrow of the Bush Regime? It would save George Soros some money. By the way, do Liberals canonize? Because Soros has certainly purchased left wing sainthood.

Pharyngula has a rather die-hard atheistic position on the whole church vs state thing, but I really like the comic.

Musings... has another good call on the Jessica Lynch story. I've avoided the Jessica Lynch story because I feel like its on par with the Laci Peterson case or the OJ trial, but this blog post made me think twice about it. When she was taken in and paraded around as a war hero, I wondered why- she was captured and ambushed, which happens in war all the time. It's never a good thing, but it's also rarely turned into a miniseries. Then she was sensationalized- video taped rescues, etc- in an obvious effort to sell the war, "Wag the Dog" style. Now, she's starting to say the same thing- and pissing off a lot of warhawks in the process.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Simply No Amount of Money 

In Gulf War 1, Navy Lt. Jeffrey Zaun was beaten every day he was a POW in Saddam Husseins prison. He was electrocuted with a cattle rod if he didn't answer questions to his captors liking. He was forced to make a videotaped condemnation of the war. He was blindfolded, handcuffed, and left hungry. Another soldier "was vomiting, suffering from a broken nose, a punctured eardrum and a dislocated shoulder, and hoping he would just die." (ABC News, 2/20/03) They and 16 others involved filed a lawsuit against Saddam Hussein. They won the lawsuit, and have 900 Million dollars coming to each of them.

Now imagine this: The White House, now in charge of all Iraqi assets, says: "There is simply no amount of money that can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime."

And because of that, the White House has decided that it will not give them any money.

Q Excuse me, Helen -- that this White House is standing in the way of them getting those awards, those financial awards, because it views it that money better spent on rebuilding Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, there's simply no amount of money that can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering --

Q Why won't you spell out what your position is?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm coming to your question. Believe me, I am. Let me finish. Let me start over again, though. No amount of money can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of a very brutal regime, at the hands of Saddam Hussein. It was determined earlier this year by Congress and the administration that those assets were no longer assets of Iraq, but they were resources required for the urgent national security needs of rebuilding Iraq. But again, there is simply no amount of compensation that could ever truly compensate these brave men and women.

Q Just one more. Why would you stand in the way of at least letting them get some of that money?

MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with the way you characterize it.

Q But if the law that Congress passed entitles them to access frozen assets of the former regime, then why isn't that money, per a judge's order, available to these victims?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I pointed out that that was an issue that was addressed earlier this year. But make no mistake about it, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the torture that these brave individuals went through --

Q -- you don't think they should get money?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- at the hands of Saddam Hussein. There is simply no amount of money that can truly compensate those men and women who heroically served --

Q That's not the issue --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- who heroically served our nation.

Q Are you opposed to them getting some of the money?

MR. McCLELLAN: And, again, I just said that that had been addressed earlier this year.

Q No, but it hasn't been addressed. They're entitled to the money under the law. The question is, is this administration blocking their effort to access some of that money, and why?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't view it that way at all. I view it the way that I stated it, that this issue was --

Q But you are opposed to them getting the money.

MR. McCLELLAN: This issue was addressed earlier this year, and we believe that there's simply no amount of money that could truly compensate these brave men and women for what they went through and for the suffering that they went through at the hands of Saddam Hussein --

Q So no money.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and that's my answer.

All by way of The Homeless Guy

You're Thinking of Somebody Else 

Reading some news articles today, you'd swear there was a war going on.

"As F16s jets dropped 500lb bombs on the area where the helicopter was shot down, US troops launched a massive sweep operation, designed as a show of force against resistance fighters based in the Sunni Triangle, which saw the arrest of several dozen alleged fighters and the death of five more."

But you know, they never said this would be easy.

"Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said . . . they would welcome us with open arms," Sinclair Broadcasting anchor Morris Jones said to Rumsfeld as the prelude to a question. The defense chief quickly cut him off. "Never said that," he said. "Never did. You may remember it well, but you're thinking of somebody else. You can't find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said." - Earlier this week.

Donald Rumsfield: There is no question but that they would be welcomed. Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and the al-Qaeda would not let them do. -May 20th, one month before the war, on PBS's "The News Hour"

And a whole bunch more where that came from.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Al Gore Speaks; John Kerry Hatah Newz 

Okay, this is long as hell- and probably all over the blogs today- but a good read anyway. It's Al Gore doing something I talked about earlier, defining the binaries. Gore talks about Freedom vs Safety in this one- and unpacks the idea Bush has been selling us that "Freedom" means "Not Getting Blown Up By Terrorists" and not a whole lot more. A highly recommended read.


John Kerry's campaign manager came up with a really good TV ad, then John Kerry fired him. The ad shows Bush landing on the air craft carrier with the "Mission Accomplished" banner right after we accomplished the staged photo op of a statue coming down in Baghdad. Remember when that happened and Bush announced the end of "Major" combat actions in Iraq? Well everyone on the news at the time seemed to think that would make a great campaign ad for GW in the election. (Not that that's why he did it, or anything. I mean, we're talking about the president who sold pictures of himself dealing with 9/11 as a campaign fundraiser.) The Kerry ad uses that footage of GW, a supporter of the war who is hopelessly out of touch with the American people, and encourages the viewer to imagine a world where the guy who supported the war and is hopelessly out of touch with the people is a democrat named John Kerry.

Kerry recently stated that his poll numbers were "higher than Hillary Clintons", presumably citing the John Kerry Dreamland Press. But looking at pretty much every poll on the floor, we see a different picture:

Newsweek, 11/7/03 : Dean 16%, Kerry 7%.
Zogby America, 11/5/03: Dean 15%, Kerry 7%.
Marist Poll, 10/03 (most recent) Dean 16%, Kerry 9%.

A Quinnipiac University Poll conducted on Oct. 23-27- the most recent one conducted listing Hillary as an option for your vote- has Hillary at 43% whereas Kerry is at his reliable 7%. The only poll I have found that has John Kerry rated higher than Hillary Clinton is the "Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report Poll" conducted on July 22-24, 2003. People were asked the names of announced candidates, and Kerry had the biggest lead since, with 20%. But even though she wasn't an announced candidate, 2% of the people polled insisted they would vote or write in Hillary Clinton. In the same poll conducted on the same day with the same people- one question later- they added Hillary to the list. Clinton got 40% and Kerry got 11%. ABC News on May 28th gave her a 30 point lead over Kerry's - you guessed it- 7%.

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