Monthly Archives: May 2008

Here’s What Happened

The folks over at McClatchy newspapers are trumpeting their own horn about their reportage in the run-up to the Iraq War.  And well they should.  Unlike the rest of the media, they actually questioned the Bush Administration’s "intelligence" and justification for an Iraq War. To them (and other astute political observers), Scott McLellan’s book is nothing new.

But the "crimes" of the Bush Adminsitration turns out to be quite the laundry list:

OK, Scott, What Happened?

Here’s what happened, based entirely on our own reporting and publicly available documents:

* The Bush administration was gunning for Iraq within days of the 9/11 attacks, dispatching a former CIA director, on a flight authorized by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to find evidence for a bizarre theory that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. (Note: See also Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill on this point).

* Bush decided by February 2002, at the latest, that he was going to remove Saddam by hook or by crook. (Yes, we reported that at the time).

* White House officials, led by Dick Cheney, began making the case for war in August 2002, in speeches and reports that  not only were wrong, but also went well beyond what the available intelligence said at that time, and contained outright fantasies and falsehoods. Indeed, some of that material was never vetted with the intelligence agencies before it was peddled to the public.

* Dissenters, or even those who voiced worry about where the policy was going, were ignored, excluded or punished. (Note: See Gen. Eric Shinseki,  Paul O’Neill, Joseph Wilson and all of the State Department ‘s Arab specialists and much of its intelligence bureau).

* The Bush administration didn’t even want to produce the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs that’s justly received so much criticism since.  The White House thought it was unneeded. It  actually was demanded by Congress and slapped together in a matter of weeks before the congressional votes to authorize war on Iraq.

* The October 2002 NIE was flawed, no doubt. But it contained dissents questioning the extent of Saddam’s WMD programs, dissents that were buried in the report. Doubts and dissents were then stripped from the publicly released, unclassified version of the NIE.

* The core of the administration’s case for war was not just that Saddam was developing WMDs, but also that, unchecked, he might give them to terrorists to attack the United States. Remember smoking guns and mushroom clouds? Inconveniently, the CIA had determined just the opposite: Saddam would attack the United States only if he concluded a U.S. attack on him was unavoidable. He’d give WMD to Islamist terrorists only "as a last chance to exact revenge."

* The Bush administration relied heavily on an Iraqi exile, Ahmed Chalabi, who had been found to be untrustworthy by the State Department and the CIA. Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress were given millions, and produced "defectors" whose tales of WMD sites and terrorist training were false, fanciful and bogus. But the information was fed directly to senior officials and included in official White House documents.

* The same INC-supplied "intelligence" used in the White House propaganda effort (you got that bit right, Scott) also was fed to dozens of U.S. and foreign news organizations.

* It all culminated in a speech by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003 making the case against Saddam. Virtually every major allegation Powell made turned out later to be wrong. It would have been even worse had not Powell and his team thrown out even more shaky "intelligence" that Cheney’s office repeatedly tried to stuff into the speech.

* The Bush administration tried to link Saddam to al Qaida and, by implication, to the 9/11 attacks. Officials repeatedly pushed the CIA for information on such links, and a seperate intel shop was set up under Defense Under Secretary Douglas Feith to find "proof" of such ties. Neither the CIA nor anyone else ever found anything resembling an operational relationship between Saddam and al Qaida.

* An exhaustive review of Saddam Hussein’s regime’s own documents, released in March 2008, found no operational relationship between Saddam and al Qaida.

* The Bush administration failed to plan for the rebuilding of postwar Iraq, as we were perhaps the first to report. The White House ignored stacks of intelligence reports, some now available in partially unclassified form, warning before the war about the possibilities for insurgency, ethnic warfare, social chaos and the like.

We could go on, but the rest, as they say, is history.

That’s what happened.

And that’s what history will record.

The Beginning Of The End oF Civilization

(1)  Clay Aiken breeds.

0529_clay_jaymes_ex

(2)  They’re making a sequel to Phantom of the Opera:

The sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera is aiming for a bow in London’s West End in November 2009.

The Stage reports that the working title for Lloyd Webber’s new musical is Phantom: Once Upon Another Time. The celebrated composer told BBC, "I have got my own new show coming on next year, which is my sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, which I think is going to be called Phantom: Once Upon Another Time. But that will come on in November next year, probably, if everything goes well."

The McClellan Book

You know, it doesn’t say anything that many of us didn’t already know.  It’s just nice to see someone on the inside of the Bush Administration admit that these things went on:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The incidents that first left then-White House press secretary Scott McClellan "dismayed and disillusioned" about Washington involved the surreptitious release of classified information, McClellan said Thursday.

The first of the "defining moments," McClellan told NBC’s "Today" show, was when CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name was leaked to the media.

The second, he said, was when he learned that President Bush had secretly declassified a report on Iraq so Vice President Dick Cheney and Cheney aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby could disclose it to reporters.

"We had been out there talking about how seriously the president took the leaking of classified information, and here we were learning that the president had authorized the very same that we were criticizing," McClellan said, the day after his controversial memoir hit bookstore shelves.

***

As White House spokesman, McClellan defended Bush’s policies during much of the Iraq war, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the scandal that followed the leak of Plame’s identity.

But he now says the administration was mired in propaganda and political spin and played loose with the truth at times.

In March 2007, Libby was found guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements for lying about what he said to reporters about Plame. Bush later commuted Libby’s 2½-year sentence prison sentence, but left in place Libby’s fine and probation.

McClellan told "Today" on Thursday, "I had been assured — and [then-senior adviser] Karl Rove and ‘Scooter’ Libby both — I asked them point-blank, ‘Were you involved in this in any way?’ And both assured me in unequivocal terms, ‘No, we were not involved.’ "

"And Rove even told the president, and the president and VP directed me to go out and exonerate ‘Scooter’ Libby on this, and that’s when I went to ‘Scooter’ and asked him the question," McClellan said.

***

McClellan also discussed how, he said, Bush decided to go to war against Iraq soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The president ordered aides to make arrangements for it, McClellan told "Today."

"I think very early on, a few months after September 11, he made a decision that we’re going to confront Saddam Hussein, and if Hussein doesn’t come fully clean, then we’re going to go to war. There was really no flexibility in his approach," McClellan said. "Then it was put on the advisers: How do we go about implementing this? How do we go about doing this?"

So, there you have it.  From someone on the inside.  They lied.  They leaked.  They manipulated.

Also:

In hindsight, McClellan views the war as a mistake by a president swept up by his own propaganda and a grand plan of seeding democracy in the Middle East by overturning Saddam Hussein‘s regime.

McClellan says Bush and his aides became so wrapped up in trying to shape the story to their political advantage that they ignored facts that didn’t fit the picture. He blames it on a "permanent campaign culture" that pervades Washington.

Over 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead.  Because the Bush Administration was obsessed with a second term and engaged in groupthink.

What is "groupthink"?  It plagued the Johnson administration, too.  It is a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis.  In order to make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms that are indicative of groupthink.  They are:

1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
2. Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”.
6. Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
8. Mindguards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

So, future presidents, what have we learned?

The wingnut blogosphere is blaming the messenger as they always do, attacking McClellan as a liberal, a liar, a charlatan trying to sell books, and claiming they never liked him anyway.

The White House is perhaps even more spittle-flecked than the bloggers, calling McClellan "disgruntled" and even a traitor.

And so it shall always be.

The Coulter Foreign Policy

Great:

McClatchy says the U.S. military is investigating reports that Marines have been handing out religious material at checkpoints in Fallujah, Iraq.

"Multi-National Force-Iraq is investigating a report that U.S. military personnel in Fallujah handed-out material that is religious and evangelical in nature," spokesman Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll says in a statement to the news organization. "Local commanders are investigating since the military prohibits proselytizing any religion, faith or practices."

Local residents say the Americans distributed coins inscribed with a verse from the Bible.

"We say to the occupiers to stop this," Sheikh Mohammed Amin Abdel Hadi says, according to McClatchy. "This can cause strife between the Iraqis and especially between Muslim and Christians . … Please stop these things and leave our homes because we are Muslims and we live in our homes in peace with other religions."

USA TODAY has requested additional information from commanders in Iraq.

Update at 8:55 a.m. ET: One of the coins, according to McClatchy, says "Where will you spend eternity?" on one side and "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16." on the other side.

Some of you may be wondering, "So what?"  The "so what" is that many in the Arab country think that the United States is on a crusade to change them.  They think the United States does not respect their values, culture, and mostly, their religion.  Of course, that is not true, as a matter of policy.  But this type of thing makes that deniable difficult to stand by.  It certainly looks like the government of the United States is trying to prosyletize, when uniformed soldiers are passing out the Gospel.

The guys should be tried, convicted, and discharged.

Flashback:

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." — Ann Coulter, 9/13/01

Dunkin Donuts Is Being Ridiculous

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OMG!  Look!  It’s celebrity spokesperson Rachael Ray talking about Dunkin Donuts!!  And look what she’s wearing around her neck!  That looks vaguely middle eastern!  It looks like a keffiyeh.  Is she a terrorist-supporter?!?  Does Dunkin Donuts (by inference) support terrorism?!?!?

Some observers, including ultra-conservative Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, were so incensed by the ad that there was even talk of a Dunkin’ Donuts boycott.

‘‘The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad,’’ Malkin yowls in her syndicated column.

‘‘Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant and not-so-ignorant fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.’’

The company at first pooh-poohed the complaints, claiming the black-and-white wrap was not a keffiyeh. But the right-wing drumbeat on the blogosphere continued and by yesterday, Dunkin’ Donuts decided it’d be easier just to yank the ad.

Said the suits in a statement: ‘‘In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design. It was selected by her stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we are no longer using the commercial.’’

Hunter at dKos:

Now, what’s important to grasp here is that the scarf in question (see link) is rather clearly just a scarf. It is admittedly black and white, which apparently would be symbolic in the Palestinian world, except I’m not sure if something frilly and paisley can ever really count as being as menacing as we are supposed to believe. And there’s clearly no pro-terrorist vibe being intended by Dunkin Freaking Donuts — Ray is holding a latte, which I’m pretty sure is like kryptonite to jihadists. I don’t know, I’m not up on all the comic-book-style interpretations of what we should and shouldn’t be afraid of these days.

No, the issue was that there was a scarf that looked sortof like something Islamic. That’s it. That was enough to dampen pants and blister typing fingers across the great and paranoid conservative nation. Maybe it was a scandalous example of unintended cultural tolerance? Maybe it was a secret message to terrorists that they could count on Dunkin’ Donuts to cater their next meeting? Or, maybe, it was just a goddamn scarf.

So this is what we’ve (well, I say "we", but I mean a small subset of American patriots who, having absolutely no intention of doing anything meaningful for their country that involves getting out of their chairs, spend their days looking for secret terrorist messages in television commercials) been reduced to. We’re examining the fashion statements of donut ads and parsing them for hints of surreptitious Islamic culture. We’re locked into a mortal combat against those that casually accessorize without remembering that we are at war; we’re mere weeks away from probing the hidden alliances of the doilies on our grandmothers’ coffee tables

My response?  I’m going to boycott Dunkin Donuts for bowing to the stupid pressures of alarmist wingnuts.

A Poloroid Every Day

060297_std1Jamie Livingston took a poloroid picture every day from from March 31st, 1979 through October 5th, 1997, his 41st birthday.

He stopped on October 5, 1997, because… well, because he died.

Although some photos have gone missing from the collection, 6,697 Polaroids remain. The collection, dated in sequence, has been organized by his friends Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid into an exhibit at Bard College called "JAMIE LIVINGSTON. PHOTO OF THE DAY: 1979-1997".

They are also visible on a website (which goes down a lot due to heavy traffic).  Feel free to go there, but get out your hankies…

Soldiers Can F*** In Afghanistan

Progress is being made:

A new order signed by Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101, has lifted a ban on sexual relations between unmarried men and women in the combat zone.

General Order No. 1 outlines a number of prohibited activities and standards of conduct for U.S. troops and civilians working for the military in Afghanistan. Previously, under the regulation, sexual relations and "intimate behavior" between men and women not married to each other were a strict no-no. The regulation also barred members of the opposite sex from going into each other’s living quarters unless they were married to each other.

But the latest version of General Order No. 1 for Afghanistan, which Schloesser signed April 19, eases those restrictions.

The new regulation warns that sex in a combat zone "can have an adverse impact on unit cohesion, morale, good order and discipline."

Not too mention, it’s kind of a distraction when you’re getting shot at.

But sexual relations and physical intimacy between men and women not married to each other are no longer banned outright. They’re only "highly discouraged," and that’s as long as they’re "not otherwise prohibited" by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to the new order.

Single men and women can now also visit each other’s living quarters, as long as everyone else who lives there agrees, and as long as visitors of the opposite sex remain in the open "and not behind closed doors, partitions or other isolated or segregated areas," according to the new regulation.

Oh, I knew there was a catch.  You have to have sexual relations in public.

A cursory reading of the order would seem to suggest that unmarried men and women could have sex in their living quarters, as long as all other persons who live there agree, or if they left the door open, if they were otherwise alone. But that’s not the case, said Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, a spokeswoman for Regional Command East and Combined Joint Task Force-101.

"Sex in both scenarios … would be a chargeable offense under the UCMJ," Nielson-Green said, referring to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

So….. U.S. soldiers can’t have sex in Afghanistan???  This is a bit confusing….

Talk about SNAFU!

Fiscal Malfeasance In Iraq

Can you imagine if you ran your household finances this way?

In one case, according to documents displayed by Pentagon auditors at the hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a cash payment of $320.8 million in Iraqi money was authorized on the basis of a single signature and the words “Iraqi Salary Payment” on an invoice. In another, $11.1 million of taxpayer money was paid to IAP, an American contractor, on the basis of a voucher with no indication of what was delivered…

The disclosure that $1.8 billion in Iraqi assets was mishandled comes on top of an earlier finding by an independent federal oversight agency, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, that United States occupation authorities early in the conflict could not account for the disbursement of $8.8 billion in Iraqi oil money and seized assets.

And then check this out:

The mysterious payments, whose amounts had not been publicly disclosed, included $68.2 million to the United Kingdom, $45.3 million to Poland and $21.3 million to South Korea. Despite repeated requests, Pentagon auditors said they were unable to determine why the payments were made.

“It sounds like the coalition of the willing is the coalition of the paid — they’re willing to be paid,” said Mr. Waxman

And some more details:

In one instance, a United States Treasury check for $5,674,075.00 was written to pay a company called Al Kasid Specialized Vehicles Trading Company in Baghdad for items that a voucher does not even describe.

In another case, $6,268,320.07 went to the contractor Combat Support Associates with even less explanation. And a scrawl on another piece of paper says only that $8 million had been paid out as “Funds for the Benefit of the Iraqi People.”

But perhaps the masterpiece of elliptic paperwork is the document identified at the top as a “Public Voucher for Purchases and Services Other Than Personal.” It indicates that $320.8 million went for “Iraqi Salary Payment,” with no explanation of what the Iraqis were paid to do.

Whatever it was, the document suggests, each of those Iraqis was handsomely compensated. Under the “quantity” column is the number 1,000, presumably indicating the number of people who were to be paid — to the tune of $320,800 apiece — if the paperwork is to be trusted.

Your tax dollars at work.

Women Are, Apparently, Really Stupid

We know this because women’s magazines are instructing women on how to do the simplest things:

Allure_2The spine of Allure reads "The Beauty Expert." That’s the mag’s claim to fame. Nowhere does it say that the publication is for the mentally handicapped, three year olds, those recovering from spinal cord injuries or Neanderthals. (Or Cro-Mags, heh.) So it is impossible to comprehend why the glossy felt the need to publish a step-by-step charticle on how to take a shower. And yeah: It’s illustrated. We suspect that they have just. Run. Out. Of. Ideas.

From the Allure magazine in question:

Shower

iLaugh

Strange world we live in:

Though Gawker’s bloggers often worked from home, I went to the office every day at first. I was used to communicating with most people I knew via instant messenger, but it seemed important to see Alex, my co-editor, in person. I figured that we’d be able to express ourselves more easily by actually turning to each other and speaking words and making facial expressions rather than typing instant messages. But because we were so busy, we continued to I.M. most of the time, even when we were sitting right next to each other. Soon it stopped seeming weird to me when one of us would type a joke and the other one would type “Hahahahaha” in lieu of actually laughing.

Here’s my question…

When you type "Hahahaha" or "LOL" in an IM, are you really laughing — you know, physically laughing?

An Open Letter To Lieberman…

…who writes in the WSJ

How did the Democratic Party get here? How did the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy drift so far from the foreign policy and national security principles and policies that were at the core of its identity and its purpose?

***

Instead a debate soon began within the Democratic Party about how to respond to Mr. Bush. I felt strongly that Democrats should embrace the basic framework the president had advanced for the war on terror as our own, because it was our own. But that was not the choice most Democratic leaders made. When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves. By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.

Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party’s left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.

In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it.

John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately – the difference between America’s friends and America’s enemies.

I say this…

GO AWAY!

[cc to Al Gore:  Seriously, dude — what were you thinking???]

Cleanup on I-80

My kind of traffic jam:

14 tons of spilled Oreo cookies snarl Ill. traffic
MORRIS, Ill. (AP) — Got milk? Police say a trailer loaded with 14 tons of double-stuffed Oreos has overturned, spilling the cookies still in their plastic sleeves into the median and roadway.

Illinois State Police Sgt. Brian Mahoney says the truck’s driver was traveling from Chicago to Morris on Interstate 80 around 4 a.m. Monday when he fell asleep at the wheel and slammed into the median.

"The boxes came out of the trailer and boxes were ripped open," he said.

The crash about 50 miles southwest of Chicago remains under investigation.

Mahoney says no charges have been filed but both lanes of traffic remain closed while authorities remove the cookies.

Hillary as VP

Lot of buzz about this in the news today:

CNN is reporting this morning that the Obama and Clinton campaigns are in formal talks about ending her quest for the Democratic nomination and possibly giving her the VP slot.

These apparent talks are described by CNN as being in a “very preliminary” stage and as "difficult."

It’s really unclear what this means or what’s really going on here. CNN doesn’t have anyone on the record. Just anonymous sourcing. We’ll have video of their report up shortly.

On first blush I’m skeptical that there really are "formal talks" in the usual sense of that phrase. The report appears to lean heavily on sourcing from within the Clinton camp, which is notable. The significance here may not be that there are formal talks underway or that the vice presidency is under discussion. The real significance may be that this is the opening salvo from the Clinton camp ahead of the negotiations that would likely accompany her withdrawal from the race.

Like everyone else, we’re trying to track this down now. But this may be the beginning of the beginning of the end.

Video:

My thoughts?

I think, on the whole, it is probably a good idea.  There are a lot of people who really really don’t like Hillary, and they will be initially turned off.  But as the race for White House moves into the general election, focus will be on Obama, and people will get used to the idea of Hillary as his #2.  She certainly is qualifed, and certainly blunts the "inexperience" tag that people place on Obama.  Personally, I like Edwards more.  Or even Richardson.  And I think Hillary would be a great Supreme Court justice.  But as VP?  Why not?

How About Those Red Sox?

Six game winning streak (and ahead in the 6th inning for their seventh straight win as I type this), and first in their division by two games.  And Dice-K, who is 7-0 this season, is on the mound.

Gotta like it…

BONUS:  Yankees are in last place in the division — 7.5 games behind the Bosox.

Alice

An electronica song and video made by a 19 year old Australian kid, comprised of sounds from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland.  Hypnotic and catchy:

Google Health

An interesting idea: have all your medical information on the Internet — accessible by hospitals and doctors.

Google Health allows you to store and manage all of your health information in one central place. And it’s completely free. All you need to get started is a Google username and password.

Google believes that you own your medical records and should have easy access to them. The way we see it, it’s your information; why shouldn’t you control it?

  • Keep your doctors up-to-date
  • Stop filling out the same paperwork every time you see a new doctor
  • Avoid getting the same lab tests done over and over again because your doctor cannot get copies of your latest results
  • Don’t lose your medical records because of a move, change in jobs or health insurance

With Google Health, you manage your health information — not your health insurance plan or your employer. You can access your information anywhere, at any time.

I foresee some privacy/security issues, but Google seems to be aware of that.

Anyway, feel free to explore Google Health, now in beta.

UPDATE:  Some are skeptical

Here’s the problem: My health records are in a manila envelope, in a wall-sized file cabinet, somewhere on K and 21st Street (and we’re not even getting into the thick document stored in some basement in California). Paper is not interoperable with Google. Now, I could begin inputting my health records by hand, and because I’m a nerd, I might do that. But most won’t. So until the provider community decides to step up and commit to one (or even a couple) standard electronic health record platforms, G-Health won’t be much more than a curiosity.

But down the road, when electronic health records are either required by the government or demanded by the market, G-Health will be a fascinating system. For one thing, it’s completely portable and user-controlled. Aetna’s CEO is bragging about his superior system, but given that that system is controlled by Aetna and I’m not, it’s of little use to me. G-Health, by contrast, can be used by anyone, and thus has much more potential to become the standard than do proprietary systems.

There are, of course, questions of privacy. And those questions need to be balanced by the utility of actually having and analyzing good data that could improve care quality. If Google gets all this information, then squirrels it away, it’s robbed of its potential to improve care. But if they have some system for coding it anonymously in ways that researchers can nevertheless use, they risk bad press (here, incidentally, is the privacy policy). Which is why G-Health is probably a stopgap solution that will help individuals better control their records. The actual health system won’t move into the electronic age till the government sets standards and creates funding to help it do so.

Hillary Hyperbole

According to Hillary Clinton, not seating the Florida delegates is like denying votes to blacks in the era lacking civil rights.  You know, like this:

Rs_20_02_51

No, no.  It’s more like the voting was in Zimbabwe.  You know, like this:

More than thirty people have been killed in the run-up to the poll, most of them supporters of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

A motorcade taking the party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, on a last day of campaigning in poor suburbs of the capital, Harare, was stoned by government supporters, but Mr Tsvangirai was not hurt.

Seriously, Clinton cannot complain about the non-seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates.  Here’s why:

The facts of the DNC’s decision to strip Michigan and Florida of their delegates are clear. The Clinton campaign not only abided by the ruling, but supported it, and even helped decide it. In 2004, Terry McAulliffe, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, stared down Michigan’s attempt to move up their primary by threatening to deny them their delegates. He bragged about the managerial steel this displayed in his memoirs. In this cycle, Harold Ickes, Hillary Clinton’s adviser, was part of the DNC Committee that voted to strip Florida and Michigan of their delegates. And he sided with the majority. "This committee feels very strongly that the rules ought to be enforced," he said. So did 11 other Clinton supporters on the 30-person committee.

Clinton’s campaign could have, at that point, condemned the DNC’s high-handed affront to democracy. But they did the opposite, releasing a statement by campaign manager Patty Solis Doyle that said, "We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process. And we believe the DNC’s rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role. Thus, we will be signing the pledge to adhere to the DNC approved nominating calendar."

She’s desparate now, that’s clear.  But she needs to just stop.

High School Photos Altered

Someone somewhere is in trouble:

MckinneyThe problem photos are obvious. One girl’s arm is missing. Another girl is missing her clothing – and was left with a blurred chest. Multiple students have the same body and clothes. Some shirt colors were changed, while patterns and wording on other shirts were wiped out. At least 34 students had someone else’s body. Officials from Lifetouch National School Studios Inc., the Minnesota-based photography company, said someone at the company made the alterations in an attempt to comply with the school’s photo guidelines…

Sophomore Brielle Anderson said she’s pretty sure her head is on a boy’s body.

"I paid $80 for a cropped picture of my head on someone else’s body," she said.

She noted that she’s also missing a few inches of hair. Chelsey Rephan, a sophomore, said one girl in the yearbook had her clothing digitally rubbed out.

Final Performance Of Rent To Be Shown Nationwide

Playbill:

The final performance of the Pulitzer and Tony-winning musical Rent, scheduled for Sept. 7 at the Nederlander Theatre, will be filmed for future screenings in movie theatres around the country.

The filming is part of a new business venture launched by Sony Pictures Releasing, which is entitled The Hot Ticket. The Hot Ticket, according to a press release, will "distribute event programming, including popular music concerts, the performing arts, and sporting events in high definition digital projection to select movie theaters nationwide."

In addition to the final performance, the Rent filming will also "feature special closing night extras, when original cast members of the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical are expected to join and celebrate in the farewell festivities." Screening dates in the U.S. and in Canada have yet to be announced, although Hot Ticket presentations will be shown in strictly limited engagements in 2K and 4K digital theatres.

TEAL Hits Manchester, NH

The Typo Eradication Advancement League is on a mission.  To correct typos.  As they explain:

This March through May, we, sworn members of TEAL, will be taking a road trip around the country to stamp out as many typos as we can find, in public signage and other venues where innocent eyes may be befouled by vile stains on the delicate fabric of our language. We do not blame, nor chastise, the authors of these typos. It is natural for mistakes to occur; everybody will slip now and again. But slowly the once-unassailable foundations of spelling are crumbling, and the time has come for the crisis to be addressed. We believe that only through working together with vigilance and a love of correctness can we achieve the beauty of a typo-free society.

Recently, they visited Manchester, NH, and found an unusual amount of typos.  From their blog, here are some photos:

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Funny/Not Funny

EW.com (Entertainment Weekly) has come out with its list of the 25 Funniest People In America.  They are:

25. AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS

Burroughs’ best-selling memoir Running with Scissors — about being raised by a nutso shrink who studies his poo and rents the back shed to a pedophile — is unbelievably disturbing. And sidesplitting. At first we felt guilty giggling at his adventures with an electroshock therapy machine, but Burroughs knows that laughter is the best antidepressant. Much better than booze, which the author struggles to kick in his equally effervescent follow-up, Dry.

Never heard of him.  Although I have heard of the book.

24. CATHERINE O’HARA

After her run on SCTV in the late ’70s, Hollywood didn’t know what to do with O’Hara. Fortunately, Christopher Guest did. In Waiting for Guffman, she and Fred Willard are tracksuit-wearing answers to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire; in Best in Show, she’s a onetime floozy with a prize terrier and a torrid past; and in A Mighty Wind, O’Hara shows off a subtler comic touch, proving that humor doesn’t always mean a pie in the face.

Yeah.  She’s funny.  Don’t know why she makes this year’s list though.  I always like her… except that Home Alone crap.

23. SARAH SILVERMAN

The Lenny Bruce of the 21st century might be this hot, foul-mouthed, button-punching stand-up. Silverman is ruthlessly funny about topics like sex, the Holocaust, and 9/11, which may be why The Sarah Silverman Program has a permanent slot on our DVR. Oh, and if you hadn’t heard, she’s f—ing Matt Damon.

Very funny.  Not a bad actress either.

22. DAVE CHAPPELLE

The fact that Diamond Dave is all but absent from the comedic stage these days doesn’t invalidate his funny. After all, Chappelle’s revered Comedy Central show — on which the wiry comic gleefully engaged in crass T&A humor, swore like a sailor, and mocked everyone in the multiculti rainbow, confronting race in a way that is positively Pryor-esque — is still the best sketch comedy this country has seen in more than a decade. For that alone, he deserves a spot on any list like this.

I never got him.  Sorry.  Maybe I’m the only one.

21. DEMETRI MARTIN

You know what’s funny? Palindromes and anagrams. ”Shut up, Grandma,” you say, but we say shut up yourself and watch Demetri Martin work a stand-up mic. ”A drunk driver’s very dangerous. Everybody knows that. But so is a drunk backseat driver — if he’s persuasive.” The floppy-haired heir to Steven Wright won a prestigious award at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, taking him from the comedy underground to…the comedy slightly less underground.

Heir to Steven Wright indeed.  This kid is funny.

20. DIABLO CODY

Not that we’re being partial to our very own columnist, but the newly minted Oscar winner showed off her comedic — and emotional — chops with her debut screenplay for Juno. Did we mention it won an Oscar?

19. CRAIG FERGUSON

Late night is the province of the mono-name. Jay! Dave! Conan! Then there’s that Scottish guy, two-name ID required: Craig Ferguson. You know, the one who can’t quite be pinned down. Since taking over CBS’ Late Late Show from Craig Kilborn in 2005, Ferguson has brought a fresh burst of energy to the format. He’s reinvented the opening monologue, doing away with most of the topical jokes and just ad-libbing about his life. Along with fresh energy, he’s brought something else — ratings. Ferguson, 45 and a brand-spanking-new U.S. Citizen, doesn’t get as much media attention as time-slot competitors Jimmy Kimmel or Conan, but with an audience of just under 2 million, the great Scot outperforms the former and has climbed within 500,000 viewers of the latter.

Never heard of her, never heard of him…

18. JACK BLACK

Black is an entirely new classification of human: the frenetic slacker. Before his turn as doofus band reject/inspirational teacher Dewey Finn in School of Rock, he was the Ritalin-deprived half of Tenacious D (along with his partner, Kyle Gass) and the list-obsessed record-shop shlub in High Fidelity. He is, inarguably, the coolest fusion of music and comedy since Spinal Tap. (And, if Tropic Thunder is as good as we’ve been led to believe, we’ll forgive him that whole Nacho Libre business.)

I like Jack, but his movies have been somewhat of a disappointment — predictable formula stuff.

17. DAVID LETTERMAN

With a receding hairline and a jogger’s grim jowls, Dave is no one’s idea of a hip comic, and he likes it that way. New-school gone old-school, the upstart who first pumped irony into the talk show still rails against the stupidity of the powerful and yet has the charm to melt Julia Roberts

Sure.  I remember when he use to be edgy.  Now he’s a late night comfort.

16. AMY SEDARIS AND DAVID SEDARIS

Big brother is the best-selling author of the sublime autobiographical essay collections Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked, full of terrific riffs about stuff like his cuckoo-clock North Carolina clan and his midget guitar teacher. Little sis was the rubber-faced star of Comedy Central’s truly strange Strangers With Candy, as well as coauthor of the book Wigfield.

Two very funny authors.  Should have been higher on the list…

15. WILL FERRELL

See, there’s this man-child who latches onto Will Ferrell in most every role he plays — and good luck getting the little guy to let go. As a result, we are treated to inspired displays of dolt-trapped-in-the-headlights hijinks, be it in the form of Old School‘s keghead Frank the Tank (who goes from repressed to regressed to undressed) or Talladega Nights‘ Ricky Bobby, the dumbest, most earnest NASCAR driver on the circuit — who’s also the most comfortable with his sexuality.

Eh…. can take him or leave him.

14. RICKY GERVAIS

Okay, so he doesn’t spend all that much of his time in America. We don’t care. Whether as the creator of The Office and Extras, a supporting actor in movies like For Your Consideration or Night at the Museum, or doing killer stand-up (as seen most recently in Grand Theft Auto IV), he’s still as funny as the dog’s bollocks.

Only good in The Office (the British version).  So-so, since then…

13. ELLEN DEGENERES

DeGeneres, whose career seemed all but kaput a few years ago, has earned back adoration simply by being her affably dry self on the Emmy-winning The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Whether it’s her circuitous monologues, her deadpan celebrity interviews, or that vocal turn as Dory in Finding Nemo, she remains one of the cleanest, coolest funny ladies around.

Yeah, she’s good as a stand-up.  Not so much on a talk show.

12. DAVID CROSS

All conversations about his genius start here: Along with Bob Odenkirk, he created the cunning HBO sketch series Mr. Show, which routinely put SNL to silly shame. And not only does Cross work little miracles in supporting roles (remember his role as feckless freak-job Tobias on Fox’s Arrested Development?), he can drop some pretty fearsome stand-up (who else talks about being raped by the Virgin Mary?). Simply put, this dude never kowtows for his funny.

Funny funny funny.  Good standup.

11. CONAN O’BRIEN

Smarty-pants isn’t usually a compliment, but O’Brien wears them so well. When this Harvard geek isn’t riffing on Muammar Gaddafi in his monologue, he’s making absurd innovations in low-brow comedy. Now, let’s see if those absurd innovations will play on The Tonight Show….

I never warmed up to him.

10. KRISTIN WIIG

The Saturday Night Live scene-stealer has found her stride in her third season, thanks to breakout characters like the Target clerk and the obsessively competitive Penelope, as well as spot-on impressions of Jamie Lee Curtis and Suze Orman.

Who watches SNL anymore?

9. LARRY DAVID

Because he’s a balding, neurotic, self-consumed, multimillionaire malcontent who reacts to most social interactions as if he just took a whiff of some really bad cheese. Because the only thing he hates more than these situations is himself. Because he’s the most hilariously doomed white-guy antihero we’ve ever seen, and has no problems taking on every sacred cow. Because we have no idea how much of this Larry David — from the HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm — is swiped from the real Larry David. And because both Larry Davids co-created one of the best comedies ever, Seinfeld.

Becoming sort of a one-trick pony, yes?

8. AMY POEHLER AND WILL ARNETT

The funniest married couple on the list. (Sorry, Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann.) When they’re apart (she, on Saturday Night Live and in Baby Mama; he, late of Arrested Development and currently guesting on 30 Rock), they’re great. But when they’re together, as when they played brother-and sister figure skaters in Blades of Glory, they’re resplendent. So let’s get those crazy kids together more often, shall we?

No.  They’re bland.

7. MATT STONE AND TREY PARKER

Now in their eleventh season of South Park, these potty mouths with a purpose continue to remind us what full creative control gets you: moments so wrong, they’re right (Ben Affleck falling in love with Cartman’s hand comes to mind). Added bonus: The ninth season episode, ”Trapped in the Closet” contains the most sober explanation of the background of Scientology you’ll ever hear.

Past their prime.  Has beens.

6. CHRIS ROCK

Television failed him (Saturday Night Live didn’t know what to do with his bright-bulb humor, and his HBO talk show couldn’t contain him). The movies didn’t get him (though this is as much Rock’s fault as anyone’s, given he wrote and directed his most recent starring vehicles, the underperforming Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife). But on the stage, Rock is a man on a mission, mercilessly tackling race, religion, money, and relationships. And his missionaries are legion.

Funny, but waaaay over-rated.

5. STEVE CARELL

Sometimes, it hurts so good. The pain, the discomfort, the agony of watching Carell’s Michael Scott work himself into another awkward scenario on NBC’s The Office…and almost work himself out. And the fact that we don’t hate Michael — on the contrary, we feel a warm, chocolatey pity for him — is a testament to Carell, who leavens the bald incompetence with wide-eyed awe.

Yup, and a good comic actor, too.  Compare The Office character with the character in 40 Year Old Virgin.

4. JON STEWART AND THE ‘DAILY SHOW’ TEAM

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is the most consistent laugh machine on TV — and the only news source for scores of cynics and slackers. It’s not often that a comedy show can tackle politics, embrace a cogent point of view, and still maintain its anarchic spark. The scribes at The Daily Show pull it off four nights a week. As the heart and soul of the show, Stewart is evenhanded but never meek; as an interviewer, he can make his guests comfortable even as he’s taking them apart. Then there’s his gang of ”correspondents,” who soldier straight-facedly into the great American absurd and take no prisoners. Empirically speaking, there’s nothing funny about what’s going on in the world right now. Yet here we are each week, chortling.

Should be No. 1

3. TINA FEY

Tinafey_l It takes a certain self-confidence to play a woman who accidentally dates her third cousin, erroneously assumes her neighbor is a terrorist, and gets called the C-word by a colleague (especially when said character is based on you). ”I love going to those uncomfortable places,” says Fey, who stars as 30 Rock‘s workaholic TV maven and is also the NBC show’s creator and exec producer. ”I’ll go down any weird avenue.” Maybe this year’s surprise Emmy win for best comedy will empower Fey to pursue some dreams for her alter ego. ”Liz Lemon could do an international adoption for a Russian baby and get the paperwork wrong with the European dates and somehow end up with a huge, muscular 13-year-old. Yeah, I could see that.” Hopefully we will too.

I’m in love.

2. STEPHEN COLBERT AND THE ‘COLBERT REPORT’ TEAM

The once (and, we’re sure, future) presidential nominee, author, and dedicated windbag also happens to be one of the smartest satirists working today. Heck, if all the dude had on his resume was the legendary 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner, he’d go down in comedy history. But week-in and week-out, Colbert takes aim at the political-industrial complex — and I don’t care if there’s no such term — and spins the facts into truth. Or truthiness. Whichever’s easier.

I’m not as fond of him as others.  I like him.  Not crazy about his character.

1. THE JUDD APATOW POSSE

Can you even remember what movie comedy looked like before writer-director-producer Judd Apatow and his ever-expanding comedy clan (including Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, and Paul Rudd) came along last summer with two stiff shots of cathartic humor — the oops-she’s-preggers romp Knocked Up and the high school raunchfest Superbad? Today, when studio execs have a comedy that feels flat or formulaic, the call goes out to ”Judd it up” — sweet irony for a man once best known for critically beloved flops like TV’s Freaks and Geeks. ”It was always my dream to become a verb,” Apatow deadpans. ”That’s what I wrote in my high school yearbook.”

Sadly, I’m not hip enough to evaluate his work.

My opinion?  Two names are missing from the list:  Paula Poundstone, Eddie Izzard

Not to be outdone Defamer has compiled a list of the 25 Least Funny People in America: 25. Dave Morris. 24. Frank Smith. 23. Sheila Condon. 22. Graciela Steckler Crisalle. 21. Don Cooke. 20. Stan Nikal Jr.. 19. Karrie Burge. 18. Dane Cook. 17. Carlos Jimenez. 16. Linda Jaco. 15. Charlie Dupree. 14. Brian Robertson. 13. Margaret Cheney. 12. George Michael. 11. Carl A. Herrin. 10. Vita Houlihan. 9. Diane Menage. 8. Jay Leno. 8. Amy Maeir. 7. Steve Cooper. 6. Brenda Shee. 5. Loretta. 4. Camille Welnitz. 3. John P. Hayes. 2. Rob Schneider. 1. Doug.

Don’t worry if you don’t know these people — you’re not supposed to.

How To Upstage Heather Maggs

(1)  Show up at my place of work (ostensibly to see Grandma)

(2)  Be cute as a button, with strawberry blonde hair

(3)  Sleep and be an all around angel

(4)  Be named Cassie

Oh, yeah.  It was great seeing you too, Heather….

Being Jack Sparrow

What’s it like to portray Jack Sparrow at Disneyland?  A former pirate tells his story.  A snippet:

Brandonpinto_p_2Disney warned us we were going to have a lot of horny women coming on to us. They were also worried about girls. I heard Disneyland had an Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She was very flirtatious, and they finally pulled her because men found her too sexually arousing and were acting out.

The male character they had pulled was Tarzan. He moved around the tree house dressed in just a butt flap. Disney had hired these good-looking, muscular guys—even airbrushing abs on—and apparently there was excessive pinching of Tarzan’s ass by the park’s female visitors. Knowing all this, and also knowing what women were like around Jack at the Renaissance Faire, I told the other guys, “Don’t complain if girls flirt with you too much. If you do, they’ll pull the character from the park.”

Disney wanted us to tone Jack down, so they put us through an acting class to discover reasons why Jack walks and talks the way he does. Obviously he is based on Keith Richards, who’s always messed up, which is why they came up with the class. “Don’t be flirtatious,” they told us. “See women as trouble.” And they said as far as alcohol goes, don’t even mention drinking. But the Pirates of the Caribbean song is all about drinking, and they’re drinking all along the ride. So I eventually broke that rule, because it would have taken me out of character. When parents took pictures, I’d say, “Everyone say ‘rum,’ ” and the parents loved it. The kids would just ask, “What’s rum?”

Read the whole thing

Hillary for SCOTUS?

Intriguing:

As the primary season nears a merciful end, the Clinton-Obama conflict is giving way to Obama-Clinton conjecture. Many in the Democratic Party support a so-called dream ticket of both, with Barack Obama at the top. They believe Hillary Clinton has earned the No. 2 spot through her feisty, never-say-die campaign, and they worry that her supporters will stay home in November if she isn’t part of the ticket.

Opponents counter that in terms of the electoral vote, Clinton might not help carry any states that wouldn’t already go for Obama. Moreover, the possibility of both Clintons ganging up on a President Obama could make life more difficult for him than anything the Republicans could ever put together.

But there is another way to foster party unity without forcing a political marriage.

It’s likely that the next president will face at least one Supreme Court vacancy. Obama should promise Hillary Clinton, now, that if he wins in November, the vacancy will be hers, making her first on a list of one.

Obama and Clinton have wound up agreeing on nearly every major issue during the campaign; at the end of the day, they share many orthodoxies. Unless the Supreme Court were to get mired in minuscule details of what constitutes universal health care, Obama could assume that he’d be pleased with most Clinton votes, certainly on major issues such as abortion.

Obama could also appreciate Clinton’s undeniably keen mind. Even Clinton detractors have noted her remarkable mental skills; she would be equal to any legal or intellectual challenge she would face as a justice. The fact that she hasn’t served on a bench before would be inconsequential, considering her experience in law and in government.

I think that is an excellant idea.  She might have to recuse herself, however, from many cases — especially ones that deal with laws signed by her husband.

Love This Story

CNN:

When Yosuke the parrot flew out of his cage and got lost, he did exactly what he had been taught — recite his name and address to a stranger willing to help.

Police rescued the African grey parrot two weeks ago from a neighbor’s roof in the city of Nagareyama, near Tokyo. After spending a night at the station, he was transferred to a nearby veterinary hospital while police searched for clues, local policeman Shinjiro Uemura said.

He kept mum with the cops, but began chatting after a few days with the vet.

"I’m Mr. Yosuke Nakamura," the bird told the veterinarian, according to Uemura. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs.

"We checked the address, and what do you know, a Nakamura family really lived there. So we told them we’ve found Yosuke," Uemura said.

The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for about two years.

But Yosuke apparently wasn’t keen on opening up to police officials.

"I tried to be friendly and talked to him, but he completely ignored me," Uemura said.

Michael Savage Is An A-Hole

Here’s why:

On the day it was announced that Sen. Ted Kennedy had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, nationally syndicated radio host Michael Savage opened his show by interspersing audio of Kennedy singing "Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes" with clips of news reporters discussing Kennedy’s diagnosis and audio from Kindergarten Cop in which Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character says, "It’s not a tumor." Later, Savage played the Dead Kennedys song "California Über Alles" after stating: "The poor guy’s been suffering for years, you know? Unfairly he’s been accused of alcoholism, but we see now that it was something much more deep-seated. And so, to cut this out in some respect for Ted Kennedy, here’s a tune coming at you from the Dead Kennedys. Go ahead and play it, please."

Obama Has Majority of Pledged Delegates

Barack Obama is perhaps 70-90 delegates away from hitting the magic number of  2,026.

NBC News and CNN report that Obama has now clinched a majority of the pledged delegates, surpassing the 1,627 mark. Assuming Obama is able to secure 30 delegates out of Oregon (which seems likely at this juncture given the spread in the state), Obama will have clinched a majority of pledged delegates including Michigan and Florida (assuming a halving of the states’ delegations).

What does this mean? Obama has not clinched the Democratic nomination, though his seemingly inexorable move towards securing the nomination was not slowed tonight. Nevertheless, Obama now has a claim to the majority of the pledged delegates under almost any scenario, meaning that the cadre of superdelegates pledging their support to the winner of the pledged delegate battle could move to Obama, and soon.

MSNBC analysis:

With just 86 pledged delegates up for grabs in Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota, and 212 remaining undeclared superdelegates, Obama just needs about 20-25 superdelegate endorsements to hit the magic 2,026 number to claim the Democratic nomination, assuming he just splits the remaining 86 in half. But it’s quite likely that the magic number is going to change, because it appears that the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee has every intention of coming up with some sort of Florida/Michigan compromise. The one number we know it won’t be is 2,210 — the number the Clinton campaign keeps using, because there seems to be little appetite among DNC types (still angry at the calendar mess those two states created) from seating the delegations in full. That means some sort of cut. The most likely magic numbers would be 2,131 or 2,118, which would cut the two delegations in half, either keeping the supers fully in tact (the former number) or cutting them in half, too (the latter). And so if you have those new magic numbers, then Obama needs approximately 50 new superdelegate endorsements to take enough delegates off the table that there is no mathematical possibility for Clinton to secure enough delegates to win the nomination without somehow convincing Obama pledged delegates and/or supers to switch. But we do wonder if Obama does end up in a no man’s land where he’s taken enough delegates off the table to prevent Clinton from getting the magic number, but there are enough undeclared supers sitting out to prevent Obama from claiming victory, which would give these supers the opportunity to become brokers. Perhaps Obama-Clinton ticket brokers?

Ugh.  I really don’t want to see a convention fight.

Sulu Gay Marries

With California joining the ranks of Massachusetts in permitting gay marriages (and by that I mean marriages and not "civil unions"), the clerks’ offices throughout the state are busy with phone calls for couple lining up to get married.

Among them, 71-year-old George Takei, Sulu of Star Trek fame, who is marrying his business manager and long-time companion of 21 years, Brad Altman.

To which I have to say…. Sulu is 71 years old?!?!?

Ted Kennedy Has a Brain Tumor

It’s malignant:

(CNN) — U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has a malignant brain tumor, doctors treating him at Massachusetts General Hospital said Tuesday.

Kennedy was hospitalized Saturday morning after suffering a seizure at his family’s compound at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

"Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe," according to a statement from the doctors treating the senator.

"The usual course of treatment includes combinations of various forms of radiation and chemotherapy," they said.

The story is less than ten minutes old, and already there is much (sickening) rejoicing at The Free Republic:

"I would take a stab at what Mary Jo will say to him but I don’t think they’re going to meet in the same place."

"Strange how you can wish all sorts of terrible things upon someone who has almost single-handedly destroyed the country and then you hear about something like this and you remember what your grandmother told you about not saying anything if you have nothing nice to say, so……"

"Not wanting to get banned,I won’t reveal my complete thoughts on the matter.But if I did they would feature the frequent use of the word "hell"."

Morons….

UPDATE:  The comments were so bad, the forum had to be shut down

Tracy Lett’s Bug Has A Body Count

This I didn’t know:

This creepy but not entirely successful 2006 psycho-thriller about paranoia and insect infestations was directed by William Friedkin, most famous for The Exorcist.

Despite dealing with a few murders and plenty of craziness in its own plot, the crime it inspired was considerably more horrific and strange. In January, blaring headlines like “Millionaire executive unhinged by horror film killed daughter” announced the tragedy, apparently trigged as stressed-out insurance executive Alberto Izaga watched Bug in a theater with his wife. (It was the only movie playing that had available seats; perhaps this tragedy could’ve been avoided, ironically, if the film were more popular?) Soon after, his wife would find him babbling incoherently in the middle of the night, shouting about the film, the Devil and death. Experiencing what his wife would call an “extreme and sudden” breakdown, he bludgeoned his two-year-old daughter to death while yelling “God doesn’t exist! The universe doesn’t exist! Humanity doesn’t exist!” Judged not guilty by reason of insanity, the judge passed sentence thusly: “This is a truly agonizing case. No sentence I pass can ever match the sentence you will pass on yourself.”

I have a feeling the hubby was pre-disposed to insanity, and it really wasn’t the movie’s fault.

John McCain And Jesus — Yeah, I Get Them Confused

Hmmmm:

Georgia Republican Party chairwoman Sue Everhart said Saturday that the party’s presumed presidential nominee has a lot in common with Jesus Christ.

"John McCain is kind of like Jesus Christ on the cross," Everhart said as she began the second day of the state GOP convention. "He never denounced God, either."

Everhart was praising McCain for never denouncing the United States while he was being tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

"I’m not trying to compare John McCain to Jesus Christ, I’m looking at the pain that was there," she said.

Riiiiight.  She’s not comparing McCain to Christ; she’s just saying that he is "kind of like Jesus Christ".

WTF? Taylor Hicks To Join Cast of Grease?

No, no, no.  He’s a soul singer, not a song-and-dance man….

NEW YORK (AP) — Taylor Hicks is going from "Idol" to "Angel."

The "American Idol" alum will join the Broadway cast of "Grease" on June 6, playing Teen Angel in the revival of the popular musical.

The gray-haired singer — whose "Idol" fan base was called "The Soul Patrol" — said he plans to add "soulful flavor" to his performance of "Beauty School Dropout." The flashy role, he said, is "a classic fit for a classic performer."

"It’s a big number, and, you know, I’ve made some pretty grand entrances before," Hicks told The Associated Press on Thursday. "And this one is probably the grandest entrance I’ve had in my career."

Well, besides "Idol." Hicks, 31, took home the title in the fifth season of the top-rated Fox show — the biggest stage on television.

He later lost his record deal with J Records, a label within Sony-BMG, which signs the show’s singers, and had been looking for the perfect part to make his debut on The Great White Way.

"If you’re gonna be a great entertainer and you’re gonna be a great performer, than these are the things that you have to do to season yourself in that manner," said Hicks, who views this "opportunity of a lifetime" as a way to improve his "Idol"-tested skills.

$50.86

That’s how much I paid for gas this morning.  First time I went over $50.

Still, gotta love the hybrid….

CNN has an interesting story on the subject…

Who’s To Blame For $4 Gas

Prices have surged over the past four years – and there’s a bunch of reasons why.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1999 gasoline sold for 90 cents a gallon. How’d we get from there to $4 a gallon?

There is no short answer – many things happened, and together they formed a chain of events from cheap gas to $100 tankfuls.

Read the whole thing

Final Weekend – Whorehouse

Tickets are going fast!

Rosemary Harris* came and loved it!

* NOTE:  For those of you under 30 and/or a geek, Rosemary Harris played the Aunt in the Spiderman movies.  For those of you over 30 and artsy-fartsy, Rosemary Harris is the Tony and Emmy Award winning actress (Tony for Best Actress in The Lion in Winter; Emmy for her role in the classic miniseries The Holocaust).  More from wikipedia.

I Bought Something For $10

I don’t know what it is.

But I bought it anyway.

I went to this site, the SomethingStore:

SomethingStore is a fun new website that operates simply: We will send you something, an item selected randomly among many things from our inventory, for $10 (free shipping) and you will find out what your something is when you receive it. What will yours be?

Your Something May Be Anything

It maybe something you need, something you want or something you desire. Yours may be a cool gadget, rare book, table game, handmade necklace, reverse clock, box of gourmet chocolates, set of shiny shower curtains, popular video game, big-box retailer gift card, the latest version of a software, a set of kitchen knives, a pair of designer jeans, garden tool, kitchen appliance, unique home decor item, electronic equipment, magazine subscription, office supply item, or…

Your something will most likely be brand new, though it may also be refurbished or antique.

I’ll let you know what it is….

RELATED POST:  What Is It That P.T. Barmun Used To Say?

They Just Can’t Stop [Gay Marriage in NC and CA]

Here we go again.

Just one day into the 2008 legislative session, Sen. Jim Forrester (R-Gaston) once again filed an anti-LGBT, anti-marriage state constitutional amendment. A similar bill is expected in the state House. Equality North Carolina is working to defeat these attempts to write discrimination into our state constitution.

The proposed bill mirrors those introduced in the last four sessions, which Equality North Carolina and our allies have successfully blocked.

"We can’t let our guard down this year," said Ian Palmquist, Executive Director. "The far right would like nothing better than to put this amendment on the ballot and turn out radical conservative voters for the 2008 elections. We can’t let Sen. Forrester and his cronies play politics with our lives, our rights, and our families."

The amendment would not only prohibit same-sex marriage—which is already not recognized in the state under current law—but would also ban any other form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. In fact, the language is so broad it could prevent private companies from offering partner health benefits.

Equality North Carolina is actively lobbying against the amendment and is calling on supporters to contact their legislators.

You can send a message to legislators through Equality North Carolina’s web site.

UPDATE:  Meanwhile, the California Supreme Court placed that state in the same situation as Massachusetts — it struck down the ban on gay marriage.  And here’s the ruling.  Quote from the controlling opinion:

Our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibility to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.

We conclude that, under this state’s Constitution, the constitutionally based right to marry properly must be understood to encompass the core set of basic substantive legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage that are so integral to an individual’s liberty and personal autonomy that they may not be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature or by the electorate through the statutory initiative process. These core substantive rights include, most fundamentally, the opportunity of an individual to establish — with the person with whom the individual has chosen to share his or her life — an officially recognized and protected family possessing mutual rights and responsibilities and entitled to the same respect and dignity according a union traditionally designated as marriage.

Okay, then.

Glenn Greewald has a nice analysis of the California Supreme Court decision — what it means and what it doesn’t mean.

This hasn’t stopped the hardcore wingnuts from going insane, as evidenced by these actual quotes from commenter at the Free Republic (courtesy of Pam Spaulding)

…and the country continues its downward spiral toward oblivion.

Caligula would be proud of this decision. What next, animals?

There is a constitutional amendment in the works for voters to vote on in November, which could overturn this ruling. But California may be too socially liberal to overturn this court order. Stay tuned.

Unfortunately I”m unable to listen to Rush, has he mentioned this? And more importantly has he commented on this?

The militant homosexualists and their communist allies have now forced us to go to the labor and expense of amending the California constitution to make it absolutely clear that marriage will not be redefined out of existence in this state.

So be it. The amendment will pass in a landslide.

Here come the polygamists over the border to win their “rights” via the courts too…just wait a couple weeks.

California is beyond hope; let the Mexicans have it

In the years past this would be a big event. National Coverage, huge battle, Major Protests……now it even bare got covered in evening news.

Disastrous turn of events. Maybe the Religious Base would get motivated now.

Doesn’t look like it. We are doomed.

As a long time California resident, I knew this disgusting day was coming. California was once a model state, the model in every respect for the other states of this country — fiscally, in education, and its politics. It was clean state, free from mega-perverison, copious numbers of illegal immigrants, and we had politicians that gave a damn about something other than their personal empowerment obtained through pandering and runaway spending.

Actually, I am surprised the vote was so close, given the runaway PC crap and liberalism that has turned California into a socialist dung heap. All this done too, without the regard for the legal nightmare that this move is going to make — as usual, ONLY LAWYERS WILL PROFIT from this. Meanwhile you will have to explain to your young children, how Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith can be man and “wife” — Actually, I am headed for San Francisco now, to marry my dog.

No, little boys and girls in public schools, that’s who’s next. And polygamy,.. and anything else until the word marriage has no meaning at all.

God instituted marriage way back at the “beginning”. And, satan’s been trying to destroy it ever sense. But, we all know (or should) who wins in the end.

This is probably the worst thing that could have happened for the liberals in this election. While it may not have the same deep impact as it did in 2004, there’s no way this helps Obama or the Dems in this election and it provides fuel for such constitutional amendments in both California and Arizona and Florida that will be before the voters this year. Any conservative fuel on the fire will make the Dems worry.

As for that fruitcake judge Ronald George, you’ve been living in Frisco, too long, Mr. Judicial Activist. You’re such a fruit.

Once again a few fruitcakes in black robes have overturned the will of the people.

I no longer wonder if their will be a revolution to save America but when.

Amazing!! You know why the gays fight so hard for “gay marriage”, right? Now every school must teach that this is an alternate lifestyle included with all others….that is the main reason. Your 6 year child will now be brainwashed into thinking this is “ok”….what a sick group of people. They won’t let 16 year old kids drink, smoke or drive, but they’ll let or support them having sex and risk getting all sexually transmitted diseases including HIV!!

BTW, did you know that 95% of civil unions end up separated before 3 years!!! 95%!!!!!

It was inevitable. Never mind what the majority of California citizens want. The narcissistic judges follow the money showered by narcissistic gays who are so enamoured of their own bodily orifices and appendages that they crave others built exactly like themselves to play with, like toddlers. I recently read that the gay market has $60 billion in disposable income, which is why they are pandered to by politicians, media, and corporations. And you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, wait ‘til Obama is president. Can we just find a state and secede NOW?

Any Constitutional Amendment is dead in the water because the GOP are milquetoast.

Much of “conservative” talk radio is in the back pocket of militant homo lobby due to their preponderant status in entertainment and advertising.

Now, more than ever, we need Alan Keyes for President. Before it’s too late. http://alankeyes.com He’s the complete Reagan conservative who has been right all along. The McCain GOP will do little more than wink at this travesty.

Rape Victim Pleas For Help On Youtube

This is painful to watch:

CNN:

The video is hard to turn away from. A sobbing 16-year-old sits in her bedroom and, staring into a camera, says she has been raped.

"Hi, my name is Crystal … I need some help. I didn’t want to do it this way, but it’s the only way I know that’s going to work, that someone out there in the world is gonna listen to me."

The teen, whom CNN interviewed but is not identifying by her last name, is among dozens of young people who are turning to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to talk about sexual assault.

For an online generation, the Web offers what traditional counseling does not. It’s a chance to communicate without having to face someone or fear their judgment. Some people are seeking legal advice and medical information, and many younger victims believe they can warn others about their accused attacker, counselors say.

There also are people like Crystal, whose case was dropped by the Orange County, Florida, state attorney’s office, who feel slighted by the justice system.

I hope this is not a hoax.  Then again….

Random Fact Of The Day

Origin of the phrase "Logging On"

This phrase’s predecessor was "logging in" (sometimes still used interchangeably). Back when mainframe computer operators used to go on shifts, they’d have to write everything they did in a paper log, beginning when they arrived. So when you log on to a computer today, you’re signing in.

House Republicans In Turmoil

Lot of stories covering this, but this one spells it out nicely:

They said the first was an outlier. The second, a fluke. But after losing their third seat this year in a special election, House Republicans faced the possibility on Wednesday that if they don’t repair their image with voters, they could be in for another rough November.

A Democratic pick-up streak that started with Rep. Bill Foster’s upset victory in the March election to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) crested Tuesday night, when Democrat Travis Childers won a solidly Republican open seat in Mississippi.

The GOP spent one-fifth of its available national party cash for House races on the Mississippi seat. Vice President Dick Cheney campaigned there. President George W. Bush and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain pitched in with automated phone calls. Their candidate lost anyway. Meanwhile, reeling House Republicans unveiled a new slogan this week–"Change you deserve" –only to watch Democrats gleefully note that it is already used to market an antidepressant.

Several House Republicans say the losses reveal a voter disconnect with their party, rooted in dissatisfaction with Bush, which GOP candidates will have to repair district-by-district this fall. Some, including McCain and several members of the Illinois congressional delegation, appear to believe that to "re-brand" the Republican Party, they must first distance themselves from it.

"What we’ve got right now is a deficiency in our message and a loss of confidence by the American people that we will do what we say we are going to do," Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a conference call with reporters.

Freshman Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) likened the climate to 2006, when Democrats surged to control of the House and Senate. "There’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the direction of the country," he said. "No incumbent should underestimate the attitude of the American people, Republican or Democrat."

The parties share power in Washington. Polls show Bush and Congress faring dismally in voter approval ratings, driven by anxieties from a slowing economy and continued dissatisfaction with the Iraq War. But politicians and analysts say it appears, at least at this point in the campaign, that voter frustration is hurting Republicans more.

Chalk up part of that to recruiting, analysts say. The three House seats to flip to Democratic this spring all lie in districts Bush carried in 2004. The Democrats who won them all ran as moderate agents of change who support troop withdrawal from Iraq.

The New York Times adds this morning

Representative Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia and former leader of his party’s Congressional campaign committee, issued a dire warning that the Republican Party had been severely damaged, in no small part because of its identification with President Bush. Mr. Davis said that, unless Republican candidates changed course, they could lose 20 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate.

“They are canaries in the coal mine, warning of far greater losses in the fall, if steps are not taken to remedy the current climate,” Mr. Davis said in a memorandum. “The political atmosphere facing House Republicans this November is the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic than it was in 2006.”

Cry me a river.

Sweeeeet – Edwards Endorses Obama

NYT:

At a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday evening, John Edwards endorsed Barack Obama, who was on the stage with him, to be the Democratic nominee for president.

Sounding a theme of a nation divided into parts by walls, Mr. Edwards said, “The reason I am here tonight is that Democratic voters in America have made their choice and so have I.”

Mr. Edwards then went on to say, “There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to tear down that wall and make one America, Barack Obama.”

Mr. Obama, who had introduced Mr. Edwards as “one of the great leaders we have in the Democratic Party, ” responded by saying he was grateful to him for coming to Michigan and giving his endorsement.

Mr. Obama also noted how Mr. Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, had emphasized health care as an issue that is of primary concern, then said it would be a major issue in his administration.

The endorsement comes at a time when the appeal of Mr. Obama appears to be lagging among white, blue-collar voters, a group to which Mr. Edwards openly appealed.

Mr. Edwards’s endorsement also brings in tow 19 convention delegates he won in early party selections. He could certainly urge them to give their support to Mr. Obama, though they would not be obligated by party rules to do so.

15obama_650

Maybe not a knockout blow to Hillary, but damn close….

C’mon Gore — you’re next….

Bush Makes Ultimate Sacrifice For The War

President Bush finally admitted today that he has been touched by the true cost of war:

For the first time, Bush revealed a personal way in which he has tried to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers and their families: He has given up golf.

"I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf," he said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

UPDATE: Warren Street at Blue Girl, Red State says that Bush is lying about why he quit golf:

Actually, it is far more likely that Bush quit playing golf because he was suffering from knee problems throughout the latter half of 2003.

Street then links to a CBS News article published in December 2003:

Bush, 57, will have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test on Thursday, Dec. 18. The body-scanning device enables doctors to see internal organs in 3D.

The MRI is being performed on the advice of the President’s regular White House physician. Last summer, Bush suffered a minor muscle tear in his right calf and that injury, along with aching knees, forced him to abandon his running routine. The calf strain healed by August when he had his annual physical, but the president said in September that he suspected he had a meniscus tear.

UPDATE II: Bush actually played his last round of golf on October 13, 2003.  We started bombing in August 2003.

UPDATE III:  One might well ask why golfing during wartime sends "the wrong signal", but recreational boating and fishing with the familly at Kennebunkport is just fine….

UPDATE IV:  Rude Pundit says:

Sure, it’s easy to knock President Bush for his "If I play golf, soldiers’ families will cry" remark to Politico. That foolishness is easily disposed of with this from a year ago:


Seriously, dude, just fuckin’ golf. And don’t use the war as an excuse for your weak-ass follow-through.

Pinin’ For The Fjords

Monty Python meets Hillary Clinton

Here’s the sad part:

2:57 p.m., Yeager Airport, Charleston, W.Va.: A steep descent brings Clinton’s plane to Charleston’s hilltop airport. After an appropriate wait, she steps from the plane and pretends to wave to a crowd of supporters; in fact, she is waving to 10 photographers underneath the airplane’s wing. She pretends to spot an old friend in the crowd, points and gives another wave; in fact, she is waving at an aide she had been talking with on the plane minutes earlier.