Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bush's Investment in Iraq

Paying increasing dividends.

Happy Fucking New Year, you Miserable Failure.

Sadly, This Didn't Surprise Me

Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. . . . “In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility] Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”
The report goes on to discuss that, after rejecting dozens of scholarly scientific books and articles for sale at the Grand Canyon National Park, the sole new item approved for sale was a book claiming that the Grand Canyon was suddenly cut out into the earth by Noah's flood.

(h/t to A Spork in the Drawer)

Protest Rally at Caltagirone Office Tuesday

As you have likely heard by now, Democratic Representative Tom Caltagirone of Berks County has announced his intention to support Republican John Perzel for the position of Speaker of the House. His own statement confirms that this is the result of a deal he cut with Perzel.

In the midterms, the voters in Pennsylvania opted for a change in direction, and gave the Democrats a one-vote majority in the state House. Caltagirone is, in the words of State Dem Chair Rooney, a "power-hungry politician", leveraging his deciding vote in order "to feather his own nest by selling out the party".

On Tuesday, the State Democratic Party is planning a protest rally at Caltagirone's office in Reading, at 3 pm. His office is located at 645 Penn Street in Reading. (The timing is curious -- it is after the reconvening of the House on Tuesday, when the vote will take place, and Caltagirone will presumably be in Harrisburg on Tuesday.)

If you cannot attend the rally, (or even if you can) email Caltigrone at

Caltagirone, you might recall, was minority leader when Hazleton's Tom Stish switched parties (from D to R) to deprive Caltagirone of the majority leader position. Stish was thrown out of office in the very next election.

His contact info:
Hon. Thomas R. Caltagirone
645 Penn Street, 2nd Floor
Reading, PA 19601
(610) 376-1529
Fax: (610) 378-4406

Hon. Thomas R. Caltagirone
Room 106 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202127
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2127
(717) 787-3525
Fax: (717) 772-5401

{Ed note: In their rush to get the email out, the State Dems misspelled Caltagirone's name as Caltigirone. I picked up the same error and have now fixed it in my post.}

{UPDATE: Demonstrating the ineptness and sloppiness endemic to the State Democratic Party, and no doubt not a little responsible for the difficulty in holding power, it seems, subsequent to the email that I received from the Party, on which this post was premised, they issued a revised release in which they corrected the spelling of Caltagrinone's name and changed the rally date.

The rally was changed from the original Tuesday to Monday, the 1st.
Unfortunately, the change came too late for me to change the blog entry and misdirect both readers (actually, that particular entry received numerous hits). No doubt thanks in part to the Democratic screw-up in the email notice, the rally attracted only about 50 people (most of whom apparently had been planning the trip for unrelated purposes anyway).

Nice going, TJ.}

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Another Blogger Hanging it Up

After posting only irregularly since the midterms, Next Direction has announced an hiatus of indeterminate termination from blogging. His (the blogger known as Next Direction declares himself as "a regular guy from Pennsylvania") voice will be missed. N.D. and I disagreed on the Democratic primary, but we agreed on the need for a new direction. I made N.D. one of my routine daily stops and will miss it.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Looking for a Few Good Blogs

The folks at DKos are looking for a few good blogs deserving of more recognition. Go help them out.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

15,000 Links and Call it a Day

Billmon, after taking a month off, gave us a few more gems over the last week and then . . . well it looks like it's time to say "Good Night, Gracie".

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Someone dropped the ball . . . .
The names and urine samples of about 100 Major League Baseball players who tested positive three years ago can be used by federal investigators, a court ruled Wednesday -- a decision that could have implications for Barry Bonds. . . .The federal appeals court ruling could bolster the government's perjury case against Bonds if his name is among those who tested positive. Investigators seized computer files containing the 2003 test results during raids in 2004 on three labs involved in the MLB testing program. . . .The unidentified samples had been collected as part of a MLB survey to gauge the prevalence of steroid use. The testing was anonymous under the terms of baseball's labor contract, but each player was assigned a code number to be matched with his name.
Where were the big-ticket lawyers for the players union? This initial round of testing was intended to be anonymous -- to get a read on the scope of the problem. If they are doing anonymous survey testing, for something which is illegal in every state and under federal law, why would the lawyers allow it to happen under a system which provided a way to match names with the samples?

What were the lawyers paid -- maybe $600 an hour -- to create a system designed to gather and preserve evidence of criminal wrongdoing by their clients. Nice job, there, counsellors.

Just a matter of time until the list is leaked (so to speak) . . . .

Saddam Could Hang Within a Month

Iraq's highest court has rejected Saddam Hussein's appeal of his conviction and death sentence. Under Iraq law, the death sentence must be carried out within thirty days of the execution order. The execution order requires the signatures of the Iraq President and two vice presidents. Iraq President Jalal Talabani is an opponent of the death penalty, but has said that he would support the decision of the two vice-presidents.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Obama/Edwards Top Iowa Poll, Hillary Drops to Fourth

In a Research 2000/KCCI-TV poll just out, Illinois Senator Barack Obama moved into yesterday into a tie with former Senator John Edwards among Iowa Democrats. Both men pulled in 22% of support among the 600 Iowa Democrats polled between December 18 and 20. They were followed by Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack with 12%, and New York Senator Hillary Clinton at 10%. An October poll found Edwards at the top, with 36%, followed by Hillary at 16%, Obama at 13%, and Vilsack with 9% support. The drop in interest in Edwards is noteworthy only because Obama hasn't even visited Iowa yet.

Edwards is reportedly planning to announce from New Orleans next week.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Little Gouging for the Holidays, Part Deux

NOTE: We are re-running this post, originally published December 5, because we have had a response from Turkey Hill, and some newly discovered information.

First, the original post:
A friend's missive arrives today, recounting the tornado that hit his sleepy little burg outside Wilkes-Barre last Friday. I've passed through the town of Mountaintop a few times, not much to see there folks.

But I guess there was plenty to see Saturday morning, after this thing ripped through town, putting the mountain in the dark for three days.

All, that is, save for the Turkey Hill store and gas station. It must have been equipped with back-up power because it stayed open through out the weekend. It was the only place to get gas -- the other stations were shuttered for lack of power.

The Turkey Hill manager decided to take advantage of the situation -- by raising the prices at the pump. Before the power was knocked out, according to my correspondent, Turkey Hill sold regular for $2.35 -- which was the going rate in the town. After the power outage knocked out the competition, the store raised the price to $2.37. When the power was restored a few days later, they knocked it back to $2.35. I guess the residents there should be grateful that the Turkey Hill didn't get really greedy and raise it double-figures.

On the other hand, a locally-owned supermarket there, Carrone's, whose competition was knocked out by a direct hit on their building, went the other way. They brought in a tractor-trailer load of water and was handing it out -- free of charge -- all through the weekend and beyond. (My pal tells me quite a few people in the area are serviced by private wells.)

Big difference in attitude between the locally-owned retailer and the chain store. Keep that in mind when shopping this Holiday season.
Now, the Turkey Hill response:
I can assure you that we did not make any gasoline price changes during the power outage. I verified this with our databases. I spoke with the District Advisor as well and he was not aware of any issues with the price sign, but it could be possible that while the generator was running there may have been some sort of false signal to the electronic price sign.

I thank you for giving me the opportunity to set the record straight. I would be happy to discuss the issue with the individual who reported the pricing to you as well.
This from Gabriel Olives, Director MIS/Petroleum, Turkey Hill Minit Markets.

Well, Gabe -- can I call you "Gabe"? -- this is not, as another more famous blogger likes to say, my first trip to the rodeo.

A "false signal" to the price sign, despite no one being aware of any problems with the price sign. Clever. But I am not buying it, so to speak.

Since I ran the post, I have heard from other Mountaintop residents who confirmed the original report of my friend. BTW, all of them -- and to my knowledge they don't know one another -- said that they are no longer patronizing the Turkey Hill as a result.

As for myself, I usually opt for the name brand over the gas de jour offered by chains like Turkey Hill -- I resent that branded gas chains, like Turkey Hill, pay 3-6 cents less per gallon than the name-brand independent station owners (due to the higher costs of the fuel-improving additives in the name-brand gas). Yet, the Turkey Hills of the world typically charge the same as the guy across the street shilling BP, or whatever. But, I am going elsewhere for my coffee and newspapers when on the road. I figure that alone has got to cost Turkey Hill at least $12 a year.

So, take that!

But, Gabe, sometimes it is better not to protest too much. I did a little digging (very little, as the nuggets were just lying just below the surface) and discovered that neither Turkey Hill nor this very Mountaintop, PA outlet are strangers to gouging charges.

Back in April it was reported that several Turkey Hill stores, INCLUDING the Mountaintop outlet, agreed to pay several thousand in civil fines for gouging at the pump:
Without a gouging law in place in Pennsylvania, of the more than 1,000 gas gouging complaints the state received last year, only two companies were fined under the consumer protection law in place.

Lancaster-based Turkey Hill agreed to pay $6,000 in fines for prices charged at stores in Shillington, Berks County, and Mountain Top, Luzerne County. . . . The Valley General Store in Huntingdon County also agreed to pay a $1,000 fine. Under the agreement, both companies did not have to admit they gouged customers.
Now, isn't that special?

Turkey Hill, one of only two companies in the entire damned Commonwealth fined for gas gouging, including at this Mountaintop store that (oh, okay) "reportedly" raised its prices during an emergency. In another report, Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Barry Creany was quoted, talking about Turkey Hill, saying "It is taking unfair advantage of being greedy in a situation where there is a dire need."


But now, you tell us, you are "Shocked. Shocked!", you say, "To find gouging in Mountaintop's Turkey Hill!". Well, here's my suggestion to those who contacted me about the "apparent" Mountaintop emergency gouging:

Office of Attorney General
Bureau of Consumer Protection
101 Penn Avenue
Scranton, PA 18503
(570) 963-4913

Pa Attorney General, Consumer Protection Hotline: 800-441-2555

PA Attorney General Online Complaint Form.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The All-Yearist

Yesterday, together with my two small thin slobs, I travelled to the big City for a taping of the last Colbert Report of 2006.

We were the last ones to gain entry -- about twenty behind us, with tickets, were turned away with promises of VIP tickets (guaranteed entry) when the show resumes in January. Before the show, Colbert entertained the audience with several verses of his favorite Christmas carol -- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

What a great show it was. Featuring Henry Kissinger, in an appearance reminiscent of his former boss's turn on Laugh-In, and NY Governor elect Elliott Spitzer, participating as judges in Colbert's "Rock and Awe" Guitarmaggedon Showdown featuring performances by Peter Frampton, Rick Nielsen (who tossed Cheap Trick picks into the audience, one landing in my lap), the guy from the Decemberists, among others, and an on-camera appearance (of a sort) by ABFS.

(Photo credit: © Comedy Central, The Colbert Report)

Money Talks

Donations of over a million dollars to Governor Rendell and Democratic State Senate Leader Bob Mellow, and others, seem to have paid off for Louis Denaples. Despite his fraud conviction for taking advanatage of the Agnes flood disaster and the persistent, documented, allegations of his mob ties, the landfill and bank owner from NEPA, who the slot commission was told was "a crook with ties to organized crime", purchased won his slots license yesterday.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Trust, But Verify? Slots Applicant With Alleged Mob Ties Proposes Oversight Board

From today's Pocono Record:
Facing new doubts about the "suitability" of Mount Airy Lodge owner Louis DeNaples, a Mount Airy official Tuesday proposed creating an independent audit committee to oversee gambling operations at the resort if it obtains a casino license.
Sooo, Denaples wants to create a new state entity just to keep an eye on him? And that's supposed to make those who question his alleged ties to organized crime sleep better? Is the new state board going to have access to all of his phone calls, and those of his associates? Are they going to be able to install listening devices and cameras everywhere anyone with anything to do with the casino goes?

If Denaples is a pure as he claims, the proposed three-member oversight board is unnecessary. If he is as mobbed-up as his detractors say, it is a grossly inadequate measure.

Either way, it is a desperate and cynical ploy.

A decision on the slots licenses is scheduled for today.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

State Looks at Possible Mob Ties for Slots Applicant

From today's Morning Call: "State gaming board investigators are seeking to interview alleged Scranton mobster William D'Elia to determine whether he has or had ties to slots applicant Louis DeNaples."

The slots board was set to vote tomorrow whether to award a slots license to Denaples. We recently covered the slots issue in this post, which has received a great deal of attention recently, according to our site meter.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bye Bye Bayh

Citing "long odds", Democratic Illinois Indiana Senator Evan Bayh has ended his 2008 White House bid. “The odds were always going to be very long for a relatively unknown candidate like myself, a little bit like David and Goliath,” Bayh's statement said. “And whether there were too many Goliaths or whether I’m just not the right David, the fact remains that at the end of the day, I concluded that due to circumstances beyond our control the odds were longer than I felt I could responsibly pursue.

“This path, and these long odds,” the statement continued, “would have required me to be essentially absent from the Senate for the next year instead of working to help the people of my state and the nation.”

So, Bayh drops out because, a year out from the first primary contest, the odds are long? Bayh has devoted the last two years to rtravelling the country and, quietly, building support among the Democratic leadership as well as the rank and file. He's got about $10 million banked or available. Maybe he was running for vice-president all along.

(Photo, Bayh at the Iowa State Fair in 2006, Credit: Copyright © 2006 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action)

Cheney's Big Idea

“Deciding to side with the Shia is probably the most inflammatory thing we could do right now,” says Wayne White, a member of the Iraq Study Group who is now at the Middle East Institute, a research center here. “It would be a multi-headed catastrophe.”

-- New York Times, 12/17/2006.

The Times says that consideration of Cheney's plan to back the Shiites over the minority Sunnis is reflective of the "dearth of good options" for the Administration. No, it isn't. It is reflective of the dearth of good leadership in the Adminsitration of this miserable failure.

(Image Credit: Georgette's World.)

Truly Brilliant

This is a suggestion to one Michael Moore, filmmaker and pot-stirrer deluxe. I have a suggestion. Change your party affiliation to Republican. Run for the 2008 Republican primary. Force McCain into some debates. Force Republicans to consider what policies they are adopting as they buy the '08 model of the Republican brand. Make fun of McCain and the Republicans on their dime - and make a movie during the process.
-- PSoTD, 12/16/06

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sour Grapes, Anyone?

The wingnutz are at it again, and again, and again.

The wingnutz are wetting themselves over a Discovery Institute "discovery" that last December's federal court decision in the Intelligent Design case relied heavily on the plaintiff's proposed "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law".

Unfortunately, the Discovery Institute and its wingnut supporters either don't know how things work in Court, or think that no one else does. In other words, they are ignorant or dishonest.

Either way, they got it wrong.

You see, kids, that is what is supposed to happen.

This was a case tried without a jury -- what the grown-ups call a "bench trial". In bench trials, particularly in Federal Court, it is not only routine for the advocates to submit proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law to the court to use in it's decision -- it is required.

Thus, for example, the Local Rules for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (where Intelligent Design had, and lost, it's day in Court), provide as follows:
LR 48.2 Civil Trials, Trial Without A Jury.
In a civil action tried without a jury, counsel shall file requests for findings of fact and conclusions of law with the pretrial memorandum. Additional requests may be made during the trial as to matters that could not have been reasonably anticipated before trial.
Once the Court hears all of the evidence, the judge picks and chooses from the various proposed findings those which the court has decided most fairly represent the credible evidence presented, and then works them into the written decision and opinion. That's just, and merely, what the court did here.

Maybe the Discovery Institute wackjobs are still smarting over the Court's smackdown of their brief. You see, the judge threw out the Discovery Institute friend of the court brief, like the garbage it was, saying that it was "clearly inappropriate", "improper", a "back-door" attempt to submit inadmissible material, "fundamentally unfair", and a violation of all of the applicable rules of court and evidence.

Sore losers. Emphasis on the losers.

Edwards Tops in Iowa

As noisy as the 2008 "non-campaigns" of Hillary and Obama have been, John Edwards has more quietly been building support. According to a recently released poll, Edwards, the runner-up in the 2004 Iowa caucus, currently has more support among Iowa caucus Democrats than Hillary, Obama, AND Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, combined.

Edwards was the favorite among 36% of those polled, Hillary was second at 16%, followed by Obama at 13%, and Vilsack coming in fourth with only 9% of his home-state Democrats backing his run at the White House.

While it is stretching it to say anything is significant about a poll a year before the caucus, it is at least noteworthy that the poll was conducted October 12-19 -- before Obama said that he was considering a run. The poll was commissioned by an environmental advocacy group, which said it did not release the results in October because the primary purpose of the poll was for internal strategy planning.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Here's to Your Health

After his recent Senate primary campaign, Chuck Pennacchio did what all good activists do -- looked around for the next project. He found it. Working with a dedicated group of P4P volunteers, and others, he created Citizen Solutions for Pennsylvania.

As the major initial project of Citizen Solutions, Chuck is pushing for passage of the Balanced and Comprehensive Health Care Reform Act in Pennsylvania, pending in both houses of the state legislature (SB 1085, HB 2722). The bill provides for full medical coverage of all Pennsylvania residents though a government-administered health care insurance plan. As drafted, the plan is fully funded through a 10% employer-paid payroll tax and 3% personal income tax (reduced to 1% for employers and employees covered by health insurance under a collective bargaining agreement).

There are many reasons to support the plan, here's over a hundred.

Citizen Solutions is conducting an action conference on the bill on December 15, at West Chester University. It is a busy time of year, but if you can, attend the meeting and learn more about the bill and what you can do to help get every Pennsylvanian covered by medical insurance by Thanksgiving, 2007.

Chuck's letter:

I learned some amazing lessons during the course of my campaign for United States Senate, among them that the vast majority of Pennsylvanians are not ideologically 'conservative' or 'moderate' as the party bosses, career politicians, consultants, pollsters, lobbyists, and corporate media – the Political- Industrial complex – would have us believe. In reality, Main Street Pennsylvanians, urban, suburban, and rural alike, are not ideological at all. They simply want positive, measurable, balanced, and fair policies that will improve their lives -- everyone's lives.

So, how do we achieve positive, helpful results in the face of a Political-Industrial Complex set up to defeat the popular will? How do we make our government represent us and our interests? My answer is: set a goal that benefits 98 percent of us; focus all our energy on that goal; and let legislators know that there is a large constituency prepared to hold them accountable if their votes are not consistent with that goal.

The goal I am working for is health care for all Pennsylvanians by the end of 2007. How achievable is this? Very. The legislation is drafted and ready to be introduced in the State House (HB 2722) and State Senate (SB 1085). There is broad statewide support for these bills. The State House is now in control of friendlier (Democratic) forces for the first time in 12 years, which means real hearings and real votes. There is, at present, no competing legislation; and the bills address all foreseeable obstacles to passage by addressing financing, lost insurance industry jobs, and malpractice insurance, in positive ways. Most important, health care security is a concern shared by the 98% of Pennsylvanians not wealthy enough to withstand unrestricted increases in health care costs and cuts in service.

We have established a coalition of allies that includes doctors, lawyers, business people, labor unions, and consumer advocates to help in this effort. Now we need citizens of every stripe to make their voices heard in Harrisburg. That's where you come in. Educate yourself on the topic, register at Citizen Solutions for PA, check the site for updates, write letters to the editor, and organize in groups to meet with your State House and Senate representatives face-to- face as soon as possible. And if you can make it, attend our organizing meeting on December 15th in West Chester.

UPDATE (2:29pm): PAWatercooler's AlexC posted on this report about Rendell's as yet undisclosed health care plan:
In a broad sense, he said he would push to increase access to health care for adults and to cut costs. . . . Overall, Rendell provided little detail about his health care plans. He said he would not propose a "single payer" or government-run health care system.

Google Me

A search for "a big fat slob" has produced this blog, or posts about this blog, in nine of the top ten Google results for several months now. Today I noticed that a search for "fat slob" now lands YT in the top spot, and in the top ten for "slob". Kewl. Not too shabby, considering we are a mere babe in the blogging wood.

Thanks for all the links that made that possible.

When You Got Nothing

Just say something stupid.
The Democratic Party’s favorite political son novice and Presidential hopeful has purposefully {Ed. Note: No citation provided by wingnut} been trying to conceal his unelectable name since his advent to the national scene. . . . Such is the tradition with liberals {Ed. note:I love the smell of desperation in the morning!}. . . . Barack Hussein Obama sounds to me like the FBI’s three most wanted list! . . . . Maybe we are ready for a black President - but one whose name is tantamount to that of Al Qaeda mastermind and Iraqi dictator? {Ed. note: ohhh, but it's not a racial thing.}
What about Newton Leroy McPherson, Felix Allen, Leslie Lynch King, Mary-Elizabeth Hanford, Heinz Alfred Kissinger, and that guy who, must have, obviously, "purposefully" obscured that Milhous moniker?

What a moron.

Test Me, Test Me

Why don't you arrest me? Maybe The Who is more appropriate to this one than the Dead.

Over at DKos, worth the time is emptywheel's reaction to the CQ interview, which reveals that the incoming Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee comes up empty on some basic information about the politics of the Middle East -- such as whether Al Qaeda is Shia or Sunni. Emptywheel devised a test for lawmakers, sort of the grown-up equivalent of a high school current events quiz.

Here's a tasting:

1. The terrorist group Al Qaeda is overwhelmingly made up of what kind of Muslims?

a. Shiite
b. Sunni
c. Kurds
d. Nation of Islam

* * *

4. Which of the following leaders was elected in an election deemed to be fair by outside observers?

a. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
b. King Abdullah of Jordan
c. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela
d. Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan

5. Which option correctly shows the US share of world population and its share of world oil use?

a. 5% of the world population, 25% of world oil use
b. 16% of the world population, 16% of world oil use
c. 25% of the world population, 25% of world oil use
d. 3% of the world population, 6% of world oil use

6. How much of Mexico's GDP in 2005 came from remittances, money sent back to Mexico from migrant workers in other countries (primarily the United States)?

a. $21.8 million
b. $879.6 million
c. $1.7 billion
d. $21.8 billion

7. How many new jobs have been created by NAFTA?

a. 1,000,000
b. none -- the US has effectively LOST 1,000,000 jobs due to NAFTA
c. none -- the US has not lost or gained any jobs due to NAFTA
d. 56
* * *
11. In which of these countries was al-Queda not operating as of September 11, 2001?

a. Afghanistan.
b. Chechnya.
c. Iraq.
d. Pakistan.

  1. Which of the following did the September 14, 2001, Authorization for the Use of Force resolution specifically provide for?

a. Domestic surveillance of telephone conversations.
b. Extraordinary rendition of suspected terrorists.
c. Suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
d. None of the above.

For the rest, as well as the answers, you'll have to go read the whole thing.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pissing in the Liberal Punch Bowl

Missed this last month, but as I often do with Bagent, found him compelling and worth passing along:
Democrats are dancing around the head of Donald Rumsfeld like a scene from Lord of the Flies, heating up the tar buckets and plucking the goose in eager, nay, wild, anticipation. Personally, I love the smell of tar and feathers in the morning and am quite willing to march on the White House as we speak. I like revenge as well as the next guy. But I also consider myself a compassionate man, one perfectly willing to let Bush's cabinet choose whether they wanna play the mommy or the daddy in the Big House, then move on to the real problems, such as the fact that a gallon of Old Grandad is nearly 50 bucks here in Virginia, or the fact that we are still a nation of people, half of whom were happy to elect a bunch of war criminals -- TWICE! -- and still are.

Ah, but lo and beshit, the Democrats have rescued us. If you can call running around like chickens with their heads up their asses while the Republicans did what they always do -- get caught stealing the national silverware, while bombing the hell out of some miserable piece of dirt as a distraction, thereby self-destructing in 12 years as usual, but getting obscenely rich in the process.

Pardon my cynicism, but the view is pretty damned sorry from here in the cheap seats. From down here it looks like every Yankee liberal north of Virginia seems convinced they are now shitting in such tall cotton, that all they need do from here on out is foist Hillary Clinton on the many poor miserable bastards unfortunate enough to be called heartland Democrats because we don't have the balls to become heavily armed libertarians. Nominating Hillary might just drive us to it.

Meanwhile, we watch the only woman who can give the ambitious Hillary a run for the money when it comes to "the sneer behind the smile," Nancy Pelosi. (Sorry Nancy, I used to get hot in unmentionable body areas when you stepped in front of the cameras, before I saw your financial reports and the shiv in your stockings. Now, call me a chauvinist, but somehow, you come off much the same as Condi Rice and Hillary.) Then it's on to the main act, in which we watch Honey Boy Obama "pass" in elite liberal society as a goddamned negro, for christ sake! Will wretched wonders never end?
Much more, go read it all . . .

(Photo Credit: Peace in Denton)

What, Me Worry?

"Summers in the Arctic Ocean may be ice-free by 2040—decades earlier than previously expected, according to a new study of the effects of global warming on sea ice."

-- National Geographic News, 12/12/2006.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Someone Should go Check on McCain . . . .

From ThinkProgress:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is trying to convince the American people that he is the person with the soundest advice about how to proceed in Iraq. On November 12, 2006 he told NBC’s Tim Russert “I believe that a lot of Americans trust my judgment on issues such as [Iraq].”

Here’s what McCain said almost exactly a year ago:

I think the situation on the ground is going to improve. I do think that progress is being made in a lot of Iraq. Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course. If I thought we weren’t making progress, I’d be despondent.” [The Hill, 12/8/05]
Hmmm, perhaps someone ought to start taking McCain's despairing comments seriously . . . . he must be pretty despondent now. I mean, remember this from October:
Sen. John McCain (R) joked yesterday that he would "commit suicide" if Democrats win control of the Senate in November.

McCain made the remark during a campaign stop in Iowa on behalf of Republican congressional candidates. When asked for his reaction to a potential Democratic takeover of the Senate in the midterm elections, McCain said, "I think I'd just commit suicide..."
Could be one big cry for help . . . .

Colin's Insufficient Regrets

Speaking in Pittsburgh last night, Colin Powell said it was time to start bringing the troops home. Under questioning from the press, he said that he regretted that his UN speech endorsing the preemptive invasion of Iraq included incorrect information provided by the CIA.
Powell says he now regrets that speech saying he was given bad information from the CIA. "I regret it. I regret the fact that a lot of the information that I presented that day turned out to be incorrect," he said.
Not good enough. Powell bears personal responsibility for pimping intelligence he knew was cooked, doubtful, and not anywhere near enough to support the first preemptive war in United States history. Laying the blame on the CIA is a punk's way out.

Why do People Still Listen to this Clown?

From Media Matters:

On the December 5 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly asserted that "we may have to" "level cities like Tehran, kill hundreds of thousands of people," which, he explained, the United States has "already done in Germany and Japan." O'Reilly then argued that such a move would be necessary, for example, "[i]f Iran takes over Iraq and then fosters a revolution inside Saudi Arabia ... and gets control of all the oil and says we're not selling to the USA, we are going to level that country, because you ... need gasoline to live."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Just a Family Business, Man

There are five applicants vying for two slots licenses. In the Poconos there are two applicants and the betting is that one of the available licenses will go to the Poconos.

The contenders there include Louis Denaples, an allegedly mob-tied felon from NEPA, who pled "no contest" to fraudulently cashing in on the 1972 flood that hit the Wilkes-Barre area, from which it has not yet recovered. More recently, in 2001, the Internal Revenue Service filed an affidavit in U.S. District Court outlining contacts and payments Denaples allegedly made to William "Big Billy" D'Elia, whom law enforcement identified as the head of the Buffalino crime family in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

His competitor in the region is the Pocono Manor, recently purchased by a group headed by New Jersey real estate developer Greg Mazel. Mazel has spent millions, bringing in some of the most respected consultants in the gaming, resort and convention business, to help his group put together a full-scall resort, convention, and retail plan for developing the Pocono Manor property, which has continued operating as a world-class resort since Mazel purchased it. (Denaples levelled the Mount Airy property when he bought it, and it now sits as a massive eyesore in the Poconos.)

Even a cursory review of the two plans suggests that the Pocono Manor plan is more well thought out, more likely to bring non-gambling business to the Poconos, and more professionally put together. The Pocono Manor plan calls for the operations to be run by experienced resort, retail, and gambling professionals. Denaples will turn over significant responsibility to his 37-year old daughter, who has a dental degree (to be sure, there are gambling pros on the Denaples team -- but this will be a family-run business).

But, the allegedly linked-in Denaples plan has something that the Pocono Manor plan doesn't -- over a million dollars in donations to Rendell and other top state lawmakers and judges over the last five years. That includes nearly $300,000 to Bob Mellow, Democratic State Senate Leader, and committees he controls.

We aren't going to say that that bought Denaples a seat at the table -- but Mellow appointed Denaples friend and former lawyer, William Conaboy (from Scran'en), to the commission that doles out slots licenses. Conaboy is on the Board of directors of the bank that Denaples controls and is chairman of the board. Conaboy is also on the board of directors of Lackawanna Community College in Scran'en.

Also serving on the Board of Directors for the Lackawanna College along with Denaples' lawyer are Albert Magnotta and Dominic Denaples -- Louis' brother. Magnotta is the chief engineer on Denaples' slots project. Dominic Denaples, who is partners with his brother in some ventures, is chairman of the college’s board. All that is significant because, when Conaboy had to resign from the slots board, Mellow appointed the president of Lackawanna College as his replacement. Mellow's press release forgot to mention the Denaples ties.

Oh, yeah, Denaples is telling everyone there's no conflict because his brother has nothing to do with the Mount Airy project. Here's the photo and caption from a local paper on the "ground-breaking":

"Former Mount Airy Lodge owner Frank Martens, left, is joined Monday by Louis, Dominick and Lisa DeNaples for a ground breaking ceremony for the proposed Mount Airy Resort and Casino."
Yeah, well.

With "Denaples Family" juice, is there any doubt who is going to get the license -- a professional, full concept plan designed to bring retail, convention, resort, and gambling business to the Poconos, or the empty lot owned by a felon, with reported mob-ties, who was called at the slots hearing "a crook with ties to organized crime"?

One guess.

Too Dam Funny To Miss

You will regret it if you don't take the five minutes to read Gort's What About the Beaver.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Rumsfeld Error (Almost) Over, Gates Approved

The Senate Armed Services Committee has just voted unanimously to approve the nomination of Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary.

The nomination now moves to the full Senate, which is expected to overwhelmingly approve Gates tomorrow.

Last week the President said we were "definitely winning" in Iraq; today, Gates said what everyone else in the world knows -- we are not winning in Iraq. Tony Snow says that Gates and Bush are in agreement.

Bigots Can't Help Themselves

Dis'z 'merica dammit.

Without so much as a flinch betraying any recognition of the irony, a small town in Nevada has made it illegal to fly foreign flags, or for officials to speak Spanish.

Smaller than the town itself are the minds of these yahoos; smaller still, their understanding of what America is all about.

They use the immigration crisis in their minds as cover for their blatant bigotry. Much like the miserable failure, who uses his fake brand of christianity to give cover to his bloody invasions and personal approval of torture.

Jesus, and America, save me from your followers.

Oh, here's the contact information you might want, if you'd like to send them a few hundred an email or two about how much you appreciate their willingness to trample the Bill of Rights to protect us.

David Richards,Town Manager:

The board members who voted for the ordinances:

Ronald W. Johnson
Cell 910-1245

Paul Willis
Work 727-1404
Cell 764-7535

Michael Miraglia (this is the genius behind the stupidity, he appears to be something of a thug)
775/727-5107 ext 340

Apparently, the town, Pahrump, Nevada, will now need to come up with a new name, since it is a Paiute word, not English. Probably not something that idiot Miraglia thought about.

(To his credit, the local Sheriff is refusing to enforce the flag flying ban.)

(Image Credit: Daughters of the Revolution, by Grant Wood, Cincinnati Art Museum, via Your Daily Art)

Monday, December 04, 2006

More Bigotry from the Right

Keith Ellison is a Muslim. He is also a newly-elected member of the United States Congress.

In an incredibly stupid and grossly misleading column, wingnut Dennis Prager shits himself over the Congressman-elect's desire to swear his oath on a book that means something to him -- the Koran. In doing so, he gets almost everything wrong -- he falsely says this will be the first time anyone has ever taken the oath on anything but a bible, he falsely says that "America" decides what book an lected official can swear on, and he can't stop before trudging out the Hitler comparison and wondering 'if the Koran is okay, what's next, Mein Kampf?' I am not going to link to this loser asshole's tripe -- you can find it if you really want to poison your mind with it.

Better, take in Sean Aqui's smackdown of Prager.

In Memoriam

December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Counting Stars By Candlelight

I was fortunate last night to have everything electronic removed from me for a few hours.

By candlelight I re-read Jefferson's First Inaugural, which I had been meaning to do since hearing about Gingrich's endorsement of a crackdown on free speech.

The Election of 1800 was unusual, to say the least. I'm not going to go into all the minutiae, but there was a very nasty split between founding friends President Adams and Vice-President Jefferson. Jefferson defeated Adams for the Presidency, but a strategic error by Jefferson's party (the Democratic-Republicans), resulted in Burr receiving the same number of electoral votes as Jefferson, sending the election to the House. There, a nasty battle resulted in a narrow Jefferson win. The former friends, Jefferson and Adams, had become so bitter that Adams beat it out of town before the inauguration.

Nastier, still, were the divides in the country caused by the Sedition Act. The Act had expired, as planned, on the last day of the Adams administration -- the Federalists wanted to make sure that it wasn't going to be in effect in case the Democratic-Republicans took control in 1800. Of course, the Federalists lost the White House and both Houses that year, in large part because of the Sedition Act.

The Act was adopted amid increasing tensions between France and the United States. Well, "increasing tensions" puts it mildly -- we were at war with the French, albeit undeclared and largely limited to the seas. The Sedition Act made it a crime to speak ill of the President or the United States government. Opposition editors were the target of the aggressive prosecutions under the Act, with many losing their savings, property, health, and even lives as a result. (Recall that, at that point, every Federal judge in the land had been appointed by the Federalists.)

It was to the bitter campaign between he and Adams, the national divide over the Sedition Acts, and the nasty House of Representatives battle just concluded, that Jefferson referred in the speech he gave after receiving the oath of office from Chief Justice John Marshall:
During the contest of opinion through which we have passed, the animation of discussions and of exertions has, sometimes, worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good.

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle -- that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind.

Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things.

And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.

During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety.

But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.

We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.
There is no similar voice in the Republican Party today -- there is no one to say to the President, to the Gingriches of that withered and irresponsible cabal of bitter enders -- that "every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle." There are, indeed, too few among the opposition able to say it with conviction, meaning, and persuasion. Not one Democrat has stood up to attack the Gingrich proposal as the same intolerance of political thought equated by Jefferson to the intolerance which led to religious persecution.

Newt tells us it is a dangerous world (no shit, eh?) and we could lose a city of we let people talk freely about revolution and bringing the government down. So he said, at a dinner honoring defenders of the First Amendment. Gingrich's website has edited the excerpt which appeared originally and had not reprinted the entire speech, but here is enough to get the idea:
This is a serious long term war, and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear of biological weapons.

And, my prediction to you is that ether [sic] before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach out and convince young people to destroy their lives while destroying us.
Gingrich proposes that we prosecute people before they do any harm -- merely for the content of their thoughts. It is such an odious proposition that he must bind it to the nuclear annihilation of an entire American city. Gingrich may choose to dismiss it, but the nascent United States Government faced far more serious, and more real, threats to its existence than we face even in the imaginary worlds created by the Republican cabal.

In 1800, there were serious reservations, in each region and state, about the efficacy, propriety and desirability of the Union. Facing dissent aimed at destruction of the federal system, Jefferson proposed a remedy different from Gingrich's prior restraint:
If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.

I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern.
It is a shame that Gingrich has so little faith in the strength of America and in the commitment to liberty and freedom. He wants to protect us by punishing thought itself -- by outlawing "false" ideas. Gingrich is wrong, profoundly wrong, dangerously wrong. And if America had adopted his philosophy, he could be in jail today.

Jefferson's confidence and courage are a lesson for the small-thinking Gingriches of the Republican cabal. The value of a free, open society is not only that the "marketplace" of ideas will correct the excesses and errors of thought, although that is true enough.

But, more fundamentally, when the government gets into the business of deciding which thoughts are "false", when the majority get to decide what is debate-worthy and what is jail-worthy, there is the overriding threat that valuable ideas, perhaps not useful at their birth, but given the opportunity to grow and mature with reasoned debate, contribute something positive to the public discourse, are instead smothered in their infancy.

But even worse than stopping a "false" idea in its tracks, is the chilling effect of such a policy. It makes each of us a censor of our own thought -- each idea is measured against the template of the acceptable and, in case of doubt, it is thrown on the scrap heap. A heap that will stand as a monument to the intolerance and arrogance of the Gingriches within the Republican cabal and the cowards on the Democratic side of the aisle unwilling or unable to stand up to bullying bullshit.

Jefferson ended his brief address in 1801 with a list of "what I deem the essential principles of our Government", and a promise that his Administration would measure their actions and policies against them:
I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations.
  • Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none;
  • The support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies;
  • The preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad;
  • A jealous care of the right of election by the people—a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided;
  • absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism;
  • A well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them;
  • The supremacy of the civil over the military authority;
  • Economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burdened;
  • The honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid;
  • The diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason;
  • Freedom of religion;
  • Freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected.
These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment.

They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.
Listening to Gingrich this week, that feeling in the pit of my stomach reflected the fear that, notwithstanding the midterms, we are wandering into one of those "moments of error or of alarm".

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

It seems that we've attracted the attention of government workers at the state and federal level today.

SOMEone at the United States House of Representatives spent a fair amount of time today searching the internets for information on "a big fat slob" (using Google and the IE browser on a Windows machine hooked up the the House network):
Domain Name: States Government)
IP Address: 143.231.249.# (Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives)
ISP: Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives
Referring URL: big fat slob
Search Engine:
Search Words: a big fat slob
Now, I don't know that this was related to my articles about Reprehensible Tim Murphy, or my email inquiries sent to his Communications Director, yesterday and today. But, one can make a reasoned guess. I hope they found out what they wanted to find out.

And, I am sure that they also missed the irony here. My write-up on Reprehensible Murphy had to do with his use of his campaign staff to investigate the backgrounds of citizens who dared write letters to the editor critical of Murphy. Of course, instead of simply responding to my inquiries, they, naturally, began an investigation into the background of this Big Fat Slob. Wonder how long it will take that paranoid jerk to get his enemies list up to 30,000?

Moving from Southeast of home to Northeast of home, it looks like Luzerne County Courthouse workers were also "curious" -- if not assigned -- to find out more about Your Slob.

An employee at the Luzerne County Adult Probation Office spent part of the workday searching the 'net for information about "the [sic] big fat slob":
Domain Name: (Commercial)
IP Address: 216.37.230.# (epix Internet Services)
ISP: epix Internet Services
Visitor's Time: Nov 30 2006 9:21:47 am
Wonder what the work-related reason for that search was?

But, the big winner for wasting Luzerne County money was this curious soul from the Luzerne County Courts, who spent the better part of over five hours of the workday on the 'nets searching out information about Yours Truly:
Referring Link big fat slob&FORM=MSNH
Host Name
IP Address
ISP Epix Internet Services
Visit Length 5 hours 43 mins 34 secs
Browser MSIE 6.0
Operating System Windows 2000
Resolution 800x600
Javascript Enabled
Navigation Path big fat slob&FORM=MSNH
November 30th 2006 09:21:11
November 30th 2006 09:25:34
November 30th 2006 09:29:52
November 30th 2006 09:32:56
November 30th 2006 12:24:28
November 30th 2006 12:24:50
November 30th 2006 13:34:48
November 30th 2006 13:36:29
November 30th 2006 15:04:10
November 30th 2006 15:04:45
So, right after I run a piece about the hit job pulled on Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta, and the rumors that President Judge Conahan and other members of the bench were secretly involved with the complaints leading to the charges, two County employees, using County property and on County time, are investigating whatever background information the internets will cough up on the Slob.

I'm sure that Conahan will get right on this and ferret out whomsoever is wasting County money and illegally using County property. The investigation will begin at once . . . . unless, of course, Conahan already knows who did it because he directed it.

It's unfortunate that the good people of Luzerne County, who have four newspapers within the range of a swung cat, don't have a single journalist willing to challenge Conahan and his heir apparent, Mark Chiverella.

And, I am sure that this all gives the people of Luzerne County a warm and fuzzy feeling to realize that Justice in their County, lay in such hands.

Finally, here's an obscure little ditty with which Murphy, Conahan, and their respective posses should become intimate.


Newt Gingrich has posted on his website the portion of his speech, given earlier this week at the at the annual Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications First Amendment award dinner, which honors people and organizations that stand up for freedom of speech, suggesting that we need to crack down on free speech.

If you need help recalling why Newt's name is vaguely familiar, you can start here.


Nevermind that it won three Tony awards (and ten nominations), three Outer Critic awards, two Lucille Lortels, nine Drama Desk nominations, two Obies, and a sizable handful of other awards, it's title is just too icky for Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman.

Trautman put aside all the unimportant issues facing his Church, to issue an edict that, while allowing the show to go on, precludes the kids from telling anyone the name of the show they are promoting is, gasp, Urinetown.

Nice object lesson for these high school kids.

What a moron. (Oh, boy, just wait until he hears about the plan to screen one of Kevin Smith's movies during Senior Week.)

(photo credit: AP/Reed Saxon via

British Up Retirement Age to 68

In a move that fired-Senator Santorum endorsed before he opposed, the British government has raised the age to qualify for government retirement benefits. The age was increased to 68 (from 65) for everyone born after April 6, 1959, and will be phased in over two decades. Government workers, however, will continue to qualify at age 60.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Channeling Richard Nixon

Remember the good old days -- secret tapes, break-ins, and the "Enemies' List"?

Nixon's Enemy List was the creation of former & reformed Nixon henchman, John Dean. In August, 1971, he sent a memo to fellow Nixon henchman Larry Higby entitled Dealing with our political enemies.

In the memo he proposed using the agencies of the federal government to gather information on American citizens who opposed (or offended) the Nixon Administration:
This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration, Stated a bit more bluntly--how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.
The list started out modestly, with 20 names; soon they added a few dozen Senators, Representatives, and organizations. Eventually, they put 30,000 Americans on their list. It was that kind of imperious attitude which permeated everything the Nixon clan did and lead ultimately to Nixon's impeachment and resignation. While Dean denied knowledge that Nixon was aware of the enemies list, eventually the Nixon Crime Family were secretly tapping reporter's phones, invading opposition headquarters, raiding psychiatrist's offices, and listening to super-henchman Gordon Liddy talking about assassinating Jack Anderson.

I was fortunate to have the kind of job that allowed me to watch most of the Watergate Hearings live in that 1974 summer which, memory says, was unusually hot.

It seems like U.S. Reprehensible Tim Murphy (PA-18) is also reliving 1974.

Melissa Meinzer, of the Pittsburgh City Paper reports that Murphy used his campaign staff to begin gathering information on everyday citizens who didn't understand how unAmerican it was to write a letter to the editor opposing Murphy's policies. Meinzer reported on an internal campaign memo to Murphy from his campaign manager. Here's what she wrote:
"The following is the information I was able to retrieve on the individuals who wrote negative letters to the editor about you," reads the beginning of a three-page memo dated June 23, 2006. The memo, addressed to "TFM," was apparently written by Murphy campaign manager Justin Lokay.

The memo includes copies of two letters to the Post-Gazette from earlier that month. The first, by Brian Rampolla, criticizes Murphy's claims that a visit to Iraq had shown him the war was going well and getting better by the day. The second, by Christine Gallo, echoes Rampolla's statements.

In addition to Rampolla's and Gallo's addresses and phone numbers, the documents detail Rampolla's voting record and religion, his stances on gun control and abortion, and his place of business -- as well as his supposed support for Rick Santorum's Democratic opponent in the 2000 U.S. Senate race. Gallo's voting record and place of business are also noted in the document.
Meizner also mentioned in her report that the memo had been uploaded and linked to the Wiki article on Murphy. Coincidentally, a few hours after the Meizner article appeared, and anonymous editor deleted the links from the Wiki article. Gee, wonder who and why? Fortunately, on the internets, almost nothing is ever gone for good. I've replaced the link on Wiki, but, just in case Murphy or his henchmen again delete the Wiki links, here's the section with the links restored:
The documents that have been leaked by Murphy's staff so far include:

* a document that shows “background research” performed by staff members on constituents who wrote letters to the editor
* documents that indicate campaign work being handled through the DO,
* a document showing a planned teleconference with John Braebender, a media consultant for Rick Santorum. Oh, and if Reprehensible Murphy's own personal G. Gordon does manage to make the linked documents disappear, lemme know, because I have also downloaded them.

A Bite 'o the Cheesesteak to Capitol Ideas with John Micek for Meizner's article.

(photo credits: Reprehensible Murphy, Haraz N. Ghanbari, Associated Press, via Post-Gazette; Nixon, unknown)

Since Reprehensible Murphy (i) keeps his e-mail a secret and (ii) accepts e-mail through the HR server only from constituents, I sent an e-mail to his Communications Director inviting comment and also asking a few questions, like whether Murphy had ever had anyone else checked out this way and whether his staff had anything to do with the disappeared Wiki links. So far, they have ignored the e-mail.

Hadley's Memo

The New York Times reports today about a memo from Bush National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley expressing serious doubts about Iraq Prime Minister Maliki's ability to control the sectarian violence in Iraq.

Seriously, no shit?

Hadley paints a portrait of a man working at cross-purposes with the current United States objectives:
Despite Maliki’s reassuring words, repeated reports from our commanders on the ground contributed to our concerns about Maliki’s government. Reports of nondelivery of services to Sunni areas, intervention by the prime minister’s office to stop military action against Shia targets and to encourage them against Sunni ones, removal of Iraq’s most effective commanders on a sectarian basis and efforts to ensure Shia majorities in all ministries — when combined with the escalation of Jaish al-Mahdi’s (JAM) [the Arabic name for the Mahdi Army] killings — all suggest a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad.
From the reap what you sow department, it is ironic and sad that Maliki seems to have learned how to govern at the feet of the worst President ever:
The information he receives is undoubtedly skewed by his small circle of Dawa advisers, coloring his actions and interpretation of reality. His intentions seem good when he talks with Americans . . . . But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action.
Sadder still, this President seems intellectually and emotionally incapable of any sort of reflection, much less the quality of reflection which allows most of the rest of us to draw parallels and learn lessons about ourselves from evaluation of the actions of others. So, the irony of this little paragraph in the report no doubt remains unabsorbed by anyone in the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Even if the rest of the country sees it, large and clear, for what it is -- the first grand tragedy of the 21st Century.

CNN is reporting confirmation that the memo is genuine. As if.

(photo credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP. Baghdad. June 2006, via YahooNews via HuffPo)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Just wondering why Jimmy Kimmel's younger brother is guest-hosting on Hardball tonight.

Pot, Meet Kettle

Judge Ann Lokuta, sitting on the Court of Common Pleas for Luzerne County, has been a thorn in the sides of the County Democratic Party (who didn't support her candidacy), lawyers, prosecutors, and court staff throughout most of her 15 years or so on the bench (from what this outsider can tell, the problem seems to be as much from the good ol' boy -- emphasis on the gender-- attitude up there, as it is from Judge Ann's own "unique" personality).

Most of all, she has been an irritant to the other judges on that Court (apparently, especially, her boss, the President Judge, as the charges expressly refer to her criticisms of the way he runs the courthouse).

They have, finally, gotten back at her.

The Pocono Record reports today that the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board has filed a 22-page complaint against the Luzerne County jurist. Sources tell me that this is the result of months of effort by many of her fellow-judges.

Back in the day, when I was a practicing attorney, I spent only a little bit of time in the Luzerne County Courthouse. While I never had the pleasure of appearing before her, I did have the chance, on several occasions, to observe her behavior and have, of course, listened with bemusement to all the gossip about her supposedly bizarre behavior.

I do not rise to defend Judge Lokuta -- let her able defense counsel take care of that.

But don't think that Judge Lokuta is an aberration on the Luzerne County bench -- based on years of conversations with lawyers who regularly and irregularly appear in Luzerne County, most of Judge Lokuta's fellow judges have no concept of what it means to be a judge.

With exceptions so rare you can count them on two fingers, the Luzerne County bench often can be depended on to allegedly decide cases based on the identities of the parties or their counsel.

They can be relied on to give the finger to litigants and the law by absolutely refusing to do their jobs -- minor, unimportant things, like issuing opinions explaining their decisions. Only a few weeks ago, one of their elite issued a large verdict in a defamation case and didn't bother to give the parties an opinion on why he reached the results that he did.

This lack of care is not surprising, consider that their President Judge was elected to office without ever having set foot in a courtroom, anywhere, as a lawyer representing a client -- he inherited a magistrate's job in Hazleton before he got hard for the big time.

They also delight in their unwritten rules -- such as granting a motion to compel discovery without even requiring the lawyer to notify the other side that the motion has been made.

Many of the judges also love to harass attorneys from outside the County for no other reason than that they can. (Okay, I'll have to admit a personal grudge about this one.)

As a whole, Judge Lokuta might be at the lower end of the lot, but it is already a fairly low lot of judges on the Luzerne County Bench. Collectively, this Bunch is one of the best arguments for merit selection you can find.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Brownback's Hypocrisy

"I will work to guarantee that judicial nominees receive an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate." (Brownback 2004 Campaign Proclamation of Principles)

“For four years we have been working to get an up or down vote on the president’s nominees—to have them approved by a majority of the Senate, as required by the Constitution . . . .All of the president’s nominees—both now and in the future—deserve a fair up or down vote." (Brownback Statement, 5/24/2005)

"I hope those tactics of obstruction will become the historical relics they deserve to be. . . . the President’s nominee deserves nothing less than a prompt, respectful confirmation hearing in the Judiciary Committee and a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.” (Brownback Statement on Judicial Nominees, 7/1/2005)

“'All of the President’s nominees, both now and in the future, deserve a fair up-or-down vote,' said Sam Brownback, of Kansas. "(New Yorker, 11/14/2005)
"Sen. Brownback leaves judicial nominee in limbo over gay marriage issue." (USA Today 11/26/2006)
Brownback has placed a hold on the nomination of Janet Neff for a seat on the United States District Court in Michigan. Neff's nomination was approved by the Judiciary Committee last month, but Neff decided that she wasn't going to get a up or down vote because he's squeamish about gay marriage and Neff -- gasp -- once attended a lesbian commitment ceremony.

As we always knew, all of that crap about "up or down votes" and the "nuclear option" had nothing to do with principle and everything to do with cheap political points.

Oh, yeah, Brownback wants to be President.

How to Stop Global Warming

It seems that the petrochemical industry has hit on an effective strategy to end global warming as we know it -- education.

By slicing off a teeny portion of their record profits and picking up a small portion of the government's failure to fund education, the industry has managed to bribe science teachers into adopting curricula designed to confuse young minds about the reality of global warming. Through financial support of the National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA), ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, and American Petroleum Institute (API).

In today's Washington Post, Laurie David, a producer of An Inconvienent Truth, and founder of, tells us that the NSTA rejected an offer of 50,000 free copies of An Inconvenient Truth for use by their members. According to David, the NTSA said it was rejecting the offer because, among other things, would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters."

'Targeted supporters' -- meaning Exxon & friends from the API. As David explains in Science a La Joe Camel in today's WaPo:
In the past year alone, according to its Web site, Exxon Mobil's foundation gave $42 million to key organizations that influence the way children learn about science, from kindergarten until they graduate from high school. . . . [T]he oil industry, the coal industry and other corporate interests are exploiting shortfalls in education funding by using a small slice of their record profits to buy themselves a classroom soapbox. NSTA's list of corporate donors also includes Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute (API), which funds NSTA's Web site on the science of energy. There, students can find a section called "Running on Oil" and read a page that touts the industry's environmental track record -- citing improvements mostly attributable to laws that the companies fought tooth and nail, by the way -- but makes only vague references to spills or pollution. NSTA has distributed a video produced by API called "You Can't Be Cool Without Fuel," a shameless pitch for oil dependence. . . . John Borowski, a science teacher at North Salem High School in Salem, Ore., was dismayed by NSTA's partnerships with industrial polluters when he attended the association's annual convention this year and witnessed hundreds of teachers and school administrators walk away with armloads of free corporate lesson plans.

Along with propaganda challenging global warming from Exxon Mobil, the curricular offerings included lessons on forestry provided by Weyerhaeuser and International Paper, Borowski says, and the benefits of genetic engineering courtesy of biotech giant Monsanto. . . . An API memo leaked to the media as long ago as 1998 succinctly explains why the association is angling to infiltrate the classroom: "Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future."
Brilliant strategy. Defeat global warming by spending millions in faux educational materials designed to grease the slide for their faux science designed to deny the existence or human causes for global warming. Effective, also. How often do we hear people referring to "common sense", the cycle of ice ages, and the canard about volcanoes spewing out carbon dioxide? Talking points straight out of API propaganda and huge number of people who were in public school at anytime from the 90s onward were likely introduced to skewed science.

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