Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscar censorship?

Looks like last night's Oscars was a victim of the chilly, culturally conservative times:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - At the Oscar awards, what was not said was probably more interesting than what was.

Hollywood's big night on Sunday was beamed to the world with a five-second time delay, and broadcaster ABC ordered some controversial quips cut before the show, sparking debate about how far political correctness should go and freedom of speech controlled.

Comedian Robin Williams said it all when he walked on stage with a piece of white tape over his mouth.

Williams was to have performed a song lampooning conservative critic James C. Dobson, whose group had criticized cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants for appearing in a video it branded "pro-homosexual."

He was going to do it by concentrating on the dark underside of other cartoon characters, asking, for example whether Casper the Friendly Ghost wore that white sheet as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Marc Shaiman, who wrote Williams' original routine, said he decided to withdraw the material after ABC raised objections that would have led to him re-writing 11 of 36 lines. ABC declined to comment.

"It's ironic because I feel the song is silly and the situation is silly and yet on the other hand it's extremely serious," Shaiman told Reuters from New York. "This is the most blatant, immature censorship that I've ever come across..."

Williams was not available to comment on his act at the Oscars, but he told the New York Times on Friday:

"For a while you get mad, then you get over it. They're afraid of saying Olive Oyl is anorexic. It tells you about the state of humor. It's strange to think: How afraid are you?"

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Jack Kelly, hawkish conservative columnist, seems to think everything's A-OK in Iraq:

It will be some months before the news media recognize it, and a few months more before they acknowledge it, but the war in Iraq is all but won. The situation is roughly analogous to the battle of Iwo Jima, which took place 60 years ago this month. It took 35 days before the island was declared secure, but the outcome was clear after day five, with the capture of Mt. Suribachi.

Proof of this was provided by Sen. Hillary Clinton. Iraq is functioning quite well, she said in a press conference in Baghdad Feb. 19. The recent rash of suicide attacks is a sign the insurgency is failing, she said.

I'll hold you to that, Mr. Kelly. Interesting how Hillary's opinions are "proof" to Kelly. Think he will feel the same if Hillary becomes the 2008 Democratic Presidential frontrunner? Just wondering.

Meanwhile, more signs that everything's "okay" in Iraq here and here. And even if (and that's a mighty big "if") things eventually become "okay" in Iraq, will it have been morally right to invade? Will it have been worth the human (American and Iraqi) cost?

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Chuck Pennacchio is going to challenge Santorum in the next PA Senate race. Check out his site and see what you think. It's a little early for me to get on board 100% yet (although I'm against Santorum 110%), but I'm open to whatever Chuck and any other Democratic challengers have to say.

Light blogging the next couple of days - I've got a busy weekend ahead, the good kind, too! I'm also mulling various changes to the blog; feel free to leave any suggestions, comments, insults, etc.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Something random and fun

Try this and pass it on:

1.Grab the nearest book.
2.Open the book to page 123.
3.Find the fifth sentence.
4.Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5.Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

From J.D. Salinger's Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour, An Introduction:

"Permanently, from that morning on, Seymour was hooked."

Via Scrutiny Hooligans and others.

I needed this. Things have been a little rough lately. For every positive, there seems to be three negatives. And the everyday grind of life threatens to engulf me. But tomorrow's another day, right?


Hunter S. Thompson and Bush - drug buddies?

Not exactly. But notice what the good Doctor had to say about meeting Bush at a party in the Seventies. Even if it's not 100% true, it's an interesting read.

Monday, February 21, 2005

So long, Raoul

There's a lot going on today that I could write about, but I just can't bring myself to do it. We just lost Arthur Miller, and now Hunter S. Thompson (aka Raoul Duke):

ASPEN, Colo. Feb 21, 2005 — Hunter S. Thompson, the hard-living writer who inserted himself into his accounts of America's underbelly and popularized a first-person form of journalism in books such as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," has committed suicide.

Thompson was found dead Sunday in his Aspen-area home of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, sheriff's officials said. He was 67. Thompson's wife, Anita, had gone out before the shooting and was not home at the time. His son, Juan, found the body.

I just don't know what to say. He was truly a giant among men, and one of the greatest writers of our time. I can't really do the man justice, so I'll post a couple of quotes from his best known work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:

"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."

"But our trip was different. It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character. It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country - but only for those with true grit. And we were chock full of that."

"And that, I think, was the handle---that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting---on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave...
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in
Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can
almost see the high-water mark---the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Purple Finger

This is a little after-the-fact, but Naomi Klein puts the Iraq elections in perspective:

So it is with Betsy Hart and the other near-sighted election observers: They think the Iraqi people have finally sent America those long-awaited flowers and candies, when Iraq's voters just gave them the (purple) finger.

The election results are in: Iraqis voted overwhelmingly to throw out the US-installed government of Iyad Allawi, who refused to ask the United States to leave. A decisive majority voted for the United Iraqi Alliance; the second plank in the UIA platform calls for "a timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from Iraq."

There are more single-digit messages embedded in the winning coalition's platform. Some highlights: "Adopting a social security system under which the state guarantees a job for every fit Iraqi...and offers facilities to citizens to build homes." The UIA also pledges "to write off Iraq's debts, cancel reparations and use the oil wealth for economic development projects." In short, Iraqis voted to repudiate the radical free-market policies imposed by former chief US envoy Paul Bremer and locked in by a recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

So will the people who got all choked up watching Iraqis flock to the polls support these democratically chosen demands? Please. "You don't set timetables," George W. Bush said four days after Iraqis voted for exactly that. Likewise, British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the elections "magnificent" but dismissed a firm timetable out of hand. The UIA's pledges to expand the public sector, keep the oil and drop the debt will likely suffer similar fates. At least if Adel Abd al-Mahdi gets his way--he's Iraq's finance minister and the man suddenly being touted as leader of Iraq's next government.

Almost everyone felt joy seeing Iraqis get to vote and help shape their own destiny. But we can't let that feeling blind us to the fact that the majority voted for policies that the occupation opposes. The message being sent to the Iraqi people: "Well, that's just great that you got to vote. Don't think that it really means anything, though." If they begin to realize that the vote may have been a farce, we could be in for even more trouble than we already have.

More intriguing Iraq news: U.S. in Secret Talks with Iraqi Insurgents

Friday, February 18, 2005

The plot thickens

Gannon/Guckert was just on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. Pretty interesting stuff. Even though it was previously taped and obviously edited, it did a good job of exposing Jeffy for the buffoon he really is. But of course, there are more important things about this story than his incompetence and second job as a gay escort.

He didn't work for a legitimate news source, and yet managed to obtain a White House press pass. His employer, Talon News, is owned by the shadowy Endeavor Media Group: (courtesy of intrepid blogger The Raconteur)

But what about Talon News? According to whois records, is owned by Endeavor Media Group in Houston TX -- a company with a PO Box and a fake phone number listing. When checking on in whois, the same info comes up -- but is a Forbidden domain. Also, googling "endeavor media group" gets you nothing. It's like this company doesn't exist.

And it didn't -- until Monday.

Endeavor Media Group, LLC (39068802O)
P.O. Box 891354
Houston, TX 77289
Phone: 999-999-9999

Record expires on 07-Feb-2008
Record created on 07-Feb-2005
Database last updated on 07-Feb-2005

So what's the deal? Talon News changed ownership right around the time the Jeff Gannon controversy was about to boil over.

But wait, there's more.

Talon News' "#1 client", is also, as of Monday, owned by Endeavor.

Domain Name: GOPUSA.COM Administrative Contact , Technical Contact : Endeavor Media Group, LLC (39068802O) P.O. Box 891354 Houston, TX 77289 US Phone: 999-999-9999 Record expires on 27-Sep-2007 Record created on 27-Sep-1999 Database last updated on 07-Feb-2005

Oh my. What kind of media organization hides behind a P.O. Box and a fake phone number? Interesting about the Texas thing, too. Remember, Bush was Governor of the Lone Star State. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist or anything, but this is just too unusual. If I lived anywhere near Houston, I'd stake out the 77289 post office...any takers?

To be continued.

Army's on Ecstasy

No joke:

US soldiers traumatized by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares.

The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Actually, I'm all in favor of this, as well as using ecstasy and other drugs in therapy. Can it be any more harmful than Vioxx? The only thing I wonder is, will those who are trained to kill want to do so again after taking the empathogenic drug?

The army's on Ecstasy
so they say
I read all about it
in USAToday
They stepped up urine testing
to make it go away
'cause it's hard to kill the enemy
on ol' MDMA

Said the King of contradiction
to the Queen of mystery
the Prince of paradox, he dogs me like a flea
so I'll set my troops upon him
and bring him to his knees
When all is said and done
I'll pick a fight with the Chinese

The Queen she stared at him long and hard
and then she softly said
I'll rub you down with linseed oil to ease your throbbing head
She slipped a note into an apricot
and threw it to the whores
The jester read the words
something wicked this way roars

The Army's on ecstasy
so they say
I read all about it
in USAToday
They stepped up urine testing
to make it go away
'cause it's hard to kill the enemy
on ol' MDMA

The price they put upon the heads
of folks with poignant views
Would be better spent on
The children without shoes

And when the King condoned
the actions of the liar
He forgot to weigh the awesome power
of the village crier

The Army's on ecstasy
so they say
I read all about it
in USAToday
They stepped up urine testing
to make it go away
'cause it's hard to kill the enemy
on ol' MDMA

Army's on Ecstasy by Oysterhead

The more things change...

the more they stay the same:

BAGHDAD, Iraq Feb 18, 2005 — A series of explosions ripped through Baghdad and a nearby city Friday, killing at least 35 people and injuring dozens on the eve of Shiite Islam's most important holiday, officials said. It was the deadliest day since Iraq's landmark elections last month.

Suicide bombers attacked two Shiite mosques in Baghdad as Friday prayers were ending, another explosion occurred near a Shiite religious procession and a third suicide bomber blew himself up at an Iraqi police and National Guard checkpoint in a Sunni neighborhood.

On Friday evening, a car bomb exploded outside a Shiite mosque in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of the capital, killing seven people and wounding 10, doctors said on condition of anonymity...

Two Americans were killed Friday in separate attacks, bringing to five the number of U.S. soldiers slain since Wednesday, the military said.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Fleischer and Dowd on Gannon

No, this isn't the title of a three-way porn flick. Ari had reservations about Gannon/Guckert:

NEW YORK Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was so concerned about Talon News reporter James Guckert's potential ties to the Republican Party that he stopped calling on him at press briefings for about a week in 2003, Fleischer told E&P today.

"I found out that he worked for a GOP site, and I didn't think it was my place to call on him because he worked for something that was related to the party," Fleischer said in a phone interview. "He had the editor call me and made the case that they were not related to the Republican Party. He said they used the GOP name for marketing purposes only..."

"I don't think that party organizations should have people in that room acting as reporters," Fleischer said, explaining his initial concerns. "They are advocates, not reporters, and a line should be drawn." But, after speaking with Eberle and looking at Talon News, he was convinced that and Talon News were not official party sites.

"It looked like a conservative news organization," Fleischer said. "If I thought that they were part of the party, I would not have [resumed] calling on them..."

Fleischer also stressed that, beyond security concerns, reporters from any regular news organization should be allowed to a have White House access unless they can be shown to be a threat. "It is a slippery slope for any press secretary in any administration to pick and choose who gets a credential based on ideology," he said, adding, "so long as they are a legitimate reporter."

Hmmm...meanwhile, Maureen Dowd couldn't get a press pass:

I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the "Barberini Faun" is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?

At first when I tried to complain about not getting my pass renewed, even though I'd been covering presidents and first ladies since 1986, no one called me back. Finally, when Mr. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, he said he'd renew the pass - after a new Secret Service background check that would last several months.

In an era when security concerns are paramount, what kind of Secret Service background check did James Guckert get so he could saunter into the West Wing every day under an assumed name while he was doing full-frontal advertising for stud services for $1,200 a weekend? He used a driver's license that said James Guckert to get into the White House, then, once inside, switched to his alter ego, asking questions as Jeff Gannon.

Sounds suspicious to me.

D'oh! Looks like Kos scooped me by about twenty minutes; he even had almost the same title, except he didn't include Dowd in the mix. Oh well, the more the merrier, I say.

Hate crime? Maybe not, but...

Hate Crime charges against "Repent America," an anti-gay group, have been dismissed:

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A judge dismissed charges on Thursday against four anti-gay Christians accused of violating hate crime laws when protesting at a gay street festival, saying free speech rights allowed them to do so.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe said the four members of "Repent America" exercised their right to free speech when they refused to move away from the city's gay pride "Outfest" last October.

The protesters used bullhorns and placards to warn festival participants that they would suffer eternal damnation for their homosexual behavior. After a noisy, nonviolent confrontation with gay people, they were charged with incitement to riot, and violating a 1982 Pennsylvania law that bars inciting hatred on the basis of race, color, religion, nationality or sexuality.

"You cannot stifle free speech because you don't want to hear it," Dembe said. "Many of these messages may be repulsive and offensive but people are allowed to make them."

I'm no legal eagle, but I very, very reluctantly agree with the court's decision, although the protesters may be guilty of other crimes. The festival was held on public streets, after all. However, these tools at "Repent America" are clearly not in good company:

The right to free speech extends to neo-Nazis marching in towns where Holocaust survivors live and to the Ku Klux Klan, the judge told a packed courtroom.

Here's more:

The leader of the group, Michael Marcavage, 25, said after the ruling that he felt vindicated.

"It's a good thing to know that there are still some judges who respect the First Amendment," he said, adding that his group plans to protest another local gay rally on May 1.

Okay, maybe this psycho is technically not guilty of hate crimes, and he's free to protest the upcoming rally. Is it illegal to pelt fundie idiots who refuse to MYOB with eggs and rotten tomatoes? Just wondering!

Do the math

Talking Points Memo links to an online calculator that demonstrates your benefit cuts under the Bush plan to destroy Social Security. Most fun I've ever had with math...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

This is not good

Bad news:

Iran and Syria announced a common front against the United States yesterday as Washington ratcheted up its pressure on two of the countries highest on its list of rogue states.

“We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats,” Mohammad Reza Aref, the Iranian Vice President, said after meeting Naji al-Otari, the Syrian Prime Minister, in Tehran.

Any bets on how soon we'll hear about tactical air strikes against one or both nations?

GOP slime equates Dean, Pelosi with Lynne Stewart

Courtesy of Talking Points Memo:

NY GOP chair Stephen Minarik, who seems to be making a name for himself by mischaracterizing Dean and the Democrats as "radicals," is at it again. Now he says that "the Democrats simply have refused to learn the lessons of the past two election cycles, and now they can be accurately called the party of Barbara Boxer, Lynne Stewart and Howard Dean." Basically, he's saying that we liberals and Democrats are terrorist sympathizers. Nothing new, just incorrect and irritating. Can you picture what would happen if Dean equated Republicans with Neo-Nazis and racists?

If you don't already know, Stewart, who was convicted of aiding terrorists, has no affiliation with the Democratic Party, as pointed out by none other than NY Governor Pataki. Tactics like these betray the fear some Republicans feel when they see liberals standing up for their principles instead of taking it lying down.

Here's the best part:

Calling Stephen Minarik's comments "offensive," (Dean) said, "The American people deserve better than this type of political character assassination."

Far from apologizing, Minarik issued a statement deriding the national chairman's comments as "the latest `Dean Scream.'"

Is that all you've got? Dean's response to Minarik's misleading comments was fair and even-tempered, and Minarik comes back with cliche'd invective. Who's the one "screaming?"

Triumph of blandness

House votes to raise indecency fines. Not much to say about this, really. It's bad enough that there were fines in the first place, and that the FCC (an unelected body) is allowed to decide for me what is "indecent," but now the maximum fine has been raised from $32,500 to $500,000! And it also appears that this was a bipartisan effort.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Weekly roundup of reasons to drink

Headed to Drinking Liberally tonight, so here's a collection of stories that will inspire my consumption:

Kerry Backs Bush War Spending Plan

Bush Asks Congress to Renew Patriot Act

Senate Unanimously Confirms Chertoff

Reporters May Be Headed to Jail for Refusing to Name Sources

Pat Robertson Warns Dems Against Opposing Bush Judicial Nominees

Bartender, can I have another?

On the bright side, the new This Modern World comic is hilarious.

Monday, February 14, 2005

It's funny because it's true

Something funny I heard this weekend on Saturday Night Live:

(This is paraphrased, from memory, several beers into the night)

From Weekend Update:

President Bush's latest job approval rating is 50%, or as high school teachers call it, an F.

Here's a big waste of money...

Bush's missile fails to launch: (-snicker-)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's planned ballistic missile shield suffered another setback on Monday when an interceptor missile again failed to launch during a test of the U.S. missile defense system.

The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency said it was unable to complete the planned $85 million repeat of a failed December test after the interceptor missile, built by Raytheon Co., failed to launch from its base in the Pacific Ocean.

Of course, the article mentions that the Bush budget would cut spending on the ballistic missile defense by $1 billion - now they only have $8.8 billion to play with. Awww, poor babies! Meanwhile, the budget proposal would slash many programs to help the underprivileged.

What a country!

Coming out of the woodwork

You knew it was going to happen:

ALBANY, N.Y. New York's party chairman are exchanging brickbats over Howard Dean's election as chairman of the national Democratic Party.

Stephen Minarik -- Republican chairman in the Empire State -- says Dean's election shows Democrats are radical, out-of-control and sadly out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Is Dean really so far left that he would be considered "radical" by most Americans? Or are Republicans a little scared of Dean's potential to ignite passion and fundraising in the Democratic Party?

I knew the smear tactics would start soon, but just not this soon.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Cash Rules Everything Around Me...

Well, not really. But we need to support Dean and the Democrats now more than ever. So, I figured I'd join the liberal blog armada and post this link:

Contribution amount:

...Dolla Dolla Bill, Y'all...

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Get out yer raincoats

Atrios points out that the wingnuts are up to their old tricks again - labeling liberals as terrorist sympathizers, or worse. Read the links he provides - the scary thing is that even people like Instawanker seem to agree. I don't want to be paranoid or anything, but it's looking more and more like the Red Scare every day - see the latest furor over "academic leftists" in Ohio:

Professors would have to include diverse opinions in classrooms under legislation being pushed in Ohio and several other states by conservatives who fear too many professors indoctrinate young minds with liberal propaganda. Such measures have had little success getting approval in the other states.

"I see students coming out having gone in without any ideological leanings one way or another, coming out with an indoctrination of a lot of left-wing issues," said bill sponsor Sen. Larry Mumper, a former high school teacher whose Republican party controls the Legislature.

Where is the evidence? Define "indoctrination." I call shenanigans! Complete and utter bullshit.

Read on:

Professors dismissed the bill as unnecessary and questioned whether its supporters had ulterior motives, such as wanting more conservative professors...

The Ohio legislation is based on principles advocated by Students for Academic Freedom, a Washington, D.C.-based student network founded by conservative activist David Horowitz.

Big surprise there...

Joe White, a political science professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said students could use perceived discrimination as an excuse to refuse to learn.

"We're not supposed to teach for their comfort," he said.

Other opponents, including the American Association of University Professors, say such bills could stifle debate.

"We see nothing but mischief if we invite people from outside of the university to somehow start monitoring what goes on inside the classroom," said David Patton, an AAUP member and professor emeritus of Ohio State University.

Sen. Teresa Fedor, a Democrat from Toledo, agrees: "Can we say 21st century witch hunt and book burning?"

I knew you could! Sometimes I think we're one terrorist attack away from internment camps and loyalty oaths. Next time I hear some wingnut whine about "persecution," I've got a few choice words from him or her.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Okay, one more...

...and I'm taking a break for a little bit. Bloggin', like pimpin', ain't easy, and my blog muscles atrophied a bit during my involuntary hiatus. Peruse and print out How to Talk to a Conservative About Social Security (If You Must), which I found over at Tom Paine. Remember, be informed and frame the debate!

Krugman to Dems: The Bush budget is a gift

Read Paul Krugman's latest op-ed about the regressive Bush budget.

His conclusions are:
1) The budget is all-out class warfare. (And we all know which side it favors)
2) Democrats have stood strong and surprised many by fighting effectively against the destruction of Social Security. Now it's time to take it further by doing the same with the budget and Bush's tax policy. With Dean at the head of the DNC, we can expect more of this sort of principled opposition.

Meanwhile, some are wary of the Dean revolution. Fine, that's their prerogative. I only hope Dean and 48% of America (and rising) can prove them wrong.

RIP Arthur Miller

Playwright Arthur Miller dies at age 89.

I missed out on a chance to see him speak a few years ago. I read The Crucible a long time ago, but I recently saw the great film adaptation starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. This play, if you're not familiar, is an allegory of the McCarthy Red Scare witchhunts of the 50s set during the Salem Witch Trials. But an astute reader will see many parallels with the current War on Terra, right down to Reverend Parris' assertion that all innocent and Christian people are happy for the Trials, and Danforth's Bush-like claim that their Draconian methods are justified because of the time and the situation:

. . . But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road
in between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time
--we love no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed
itself with good and befuddled the world.
Now, by God's grace,
the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will
surely praise it. I hope you will be one of those. (Miller 94)

He was ahead of his time - and come to think of it, in a way the Puritans were, too. Miller was on record as a critic of the Bush Administration's tactics. Oh yeah, and he was once married to Marilyn Monroe! How great can one get?

We'll miss you.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Republicans feeling the Social Security heat

A sign that Bush's unpopular plan to destroy Social Security may be causing fellow Republicans to squirm:

(AP) -- A senior House Republican with long experience in Social Security matters outlined legislation Thursday that jettisons two controversial elements in President Bush's plan in an attempt to court Democratic support.

"I think politically it's the most salable," Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fla., said of his alternative, although he conceded neither the White House, the House GOP leadership in the House nor any Democrat has yet to lend backing.

Shaw said his measure would meet two key goals outlined by President Bush in his State of the Union speech last week, creating private accounts while placing Social Security on a path toward permanent solvency. But unlike the administration's blueprint, it does not rely on payroll taxes to fund the individual accounts, nor does it envision cutting promised benefits for future retirees.

Shaw outlined his alternative as Bush made stops in two states in an effort to reassure congressional Republicans that tackling Social Security won't end their political careers.

The president has yet to win a single Democratic convert and clearly has more work to do among lawmakers of his own party.

Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., said that despite a presidential sales pitch delivered in person on Wednesday, "I will have problems" if the eventual legislation relies on payroll taxes to finance personal accounts.

Asked whether the issue could cost him his seat in 2006, Simmons, who represents a competitive district, said, "I could lose my seat over almost everything."

That last statement sounds suspiciously like an attempt to ward off accusations of "giving in" to Democrats. "Naw, boss, I'm still yer friend!"

For the record, even though this plan, from the few details provided, sounds better than the Bush plan, I am not in favor of it. I am still not convinced that there is any need to make sweeping changes to Social Security. However, one thought has crossed my mind of late. I'm all for people making their own decisions - about their leaders, their personal life, what to do with their bodies, etc. Many supporters of the Bush plan keep invoking this personal freedom issue, all the while trying to infringe on the rights of gays and women. Maybe we could find a way for all of these nuts to invest their own Social Security funds as a sort of a trial run of the program! They'd probably line up for the chance. Then in thirty years, when they're working at McDonalds to afford enough dog food for dinner, they can tell us all about the joys of this brand of "freedom."

An official Guckert/Gannon investigation afoot?

It will be if Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg has his way:

WASHINGTON, DC -- In light of yet another scandal involving the Bush administration's manipulation of the media, United States Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today requested from White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan all the documents relating to the press credentials of James. D. Guckert, a.k.a. "Jeff Gannon"; the "journalist" now famous for being the White House correspondent for his softball questioning of President Bush and various Administration spokespeople.

"I am writing to request that you immediately release documents to my office relating to the White House press credentials of James D. Guckert, a.k.a. "Jeff Gannon." Specifically, I am seeking documentation related to the question of which name Mr. Guckert/Gannon used when applying for credentials, and which name was on the official White House press credentials he received," wrote Lautenberg.

"As you may know, Mr. Guckert/Gannon was denied a Congressional press pass because he could not show that he wrote for a valid news organization. Given the fact that he was denied Congressional credentials, I seek your explanation of how Mr. Guckert/Gannon passed muster for White House press credentials," Lautenberg wrote.

Senator Lautenberg has been the Senate leader in exposing the Bush administration's propaganda efforts.

I don't want to get too optimistic, but it appears that so far, Democrats aren't giving Bush a free pass in his second term. Of course, in this case, the truth about Gannon...I mean, Guckert would've never been uncovered if the lefty blogosphere hadn't jumped on it. (My computer picked a hell of a time to break down!)

Nevertheless, the story has found its way into the mainstream media - see this CNN article. Ol' Froth wonders if the whole gay escort angle is what's making the story appealing - what do the rest of you think?

Chertoff Update

I've written before about Chertoff, Bush's nominee for Homeland Security chief - here's a well-documented report on his questionable civil liberties record from the ACLU.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Wheels within wheels

If you don't already know about the Jeff Gannon story, read Tom Tomorrow's post and the subsequent links.

One word: Wow. So far, the closest thing to mainstream media coverage of this story was a piece on Olbermann tonight (didn't get to see it myself). But hopefully it will filter down soon, as did the No Pundits Left Unpaid scandal. Someone tell me how this news is not a far bigger, more insidious problem than "Rathergate!"

Roving Lunatic

No, I didn't misspell the headline. Karl Rove has been promoted - and why not, really? His slimy tricks have helped make Bush into the "great" President he is today:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove, will take on a wider role in developing and coordinating policy in the president's second term, the White House announced on Tuesday.
Rove, who was Bush's top political strategist during his 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, will become a deputy White House chief of staff.

In that role, he will be in charge of coordinating policy between the White House Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, National Security Council and Homeland Security Council...

Rove, 54, will continue to oversee White House strategy to advance Bush's agenda and will "make sure we have an open and fair process for the development of policy and to make sure the policy is complementary and consistent with the various councils," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

My guess is that Rove is being brought in as a policy stormtrooper for the second term. A lot happened while I was away, including the unveiling of Bush's ambitious neoconservative agenda. Thankfully, Dems and a few thoughtful Republicans have stood strong - so far. Bush will need Rove to help devise methods to pass as much of this nonsense as possible. Be on the lookout, friends...rough seas ahead.

More Rove antics here and here.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Guess who's back...back again...

Scooter's back...tell a friend...

Yes, I am back. All five of my readers may now wipe away their tears. My computer has returned from rehab, clean and sober. I knew he had a problem when he was wandering the streets at night, rubbing his mouse up against strange computers...we were all concerned about him. But he acknowledged his problem, and now he can once again help me criticize the Bush Administration.

I've got a lot to catch up with, but there will surely be more to come.