Friday, May 12, 2006

Silly me

And I said Congress had its priorities out of whack. Oh was I wrong, they are CLEARLY focusing on what's important:

House Injects Prayer Into Defense Bill
By Alan Cooperman and Ann Scott Tyson

Washington Post Staff Writers

The House passed a $513 billion defense authorization bill yesterday that includes language intended to allow chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus at public military ceremonies, undercutting new Air Force and Navy guidelines on religion.

The Other Side of Data-Mining

As I read this morning’s Chicago Tribune on-line edition, I was amazed at how quickly and fiercely the editorial board came down on the right side of the NSA telephone data-mining revelation. Here is just one of many nuggets to be found in the editorial:

The government apparently has even bigger plans “to create a database of every call EVER made within the nation’s borders” to identify and track suspected terrorists. Think about that. Every phone call ever made. No, not so fast.

The editorial then goes on to compare this effort to the infamous Admiral Poindexter-led Total Information Awareness (TIA) trial balloon, which was unceremoniously punctured after immediate and overwhelming congressional and public outcry. It also looks at it in relation to the secret (read “illegal”) NSA surveillance program targeting overseas communications initiated or terminating inside the USA, saying that it can be argued that it’s justified with modest judicial oversight. But get this…

But this vast mining of domestic phone records, this is something else…Why would the government seek and STORE records of EVERY telephone call to your doctor, our lawyer, your next-door-neighbor. TELL US.

But you know, I can see the McLiar/Vader side of this argument. I mean after all, if this program had been initiated during the early days of the Clinton administration perhaps all those phone calls made between Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and any other TERRORIST in their cell would have tipped off the NSA and FBI to their heinous plot to kill innocent children attending a day care center inside the Murrah Federal Building in 1995. I’m CERTAIN that all of those domestic terrorists targeting doctors and patients at LEGAL abortion clinics would have been captured and punished. Hell, they may have been able to find and prosecute all those pesky pornographers who so vex the religious right. At the very least, this data-mining may have resulted in finding out which oil company executives participated in planning and writing the McLiar/Vader energy policy.
In the end, I know that this kind of policy couldn’t have existed under a Clinton administration – even if he had advocated it. After all, he had a hostile house which would have been happy to find ANY EXCUSE to impeach him... and with this idiotic, ass-backwards, and moronic policy, they'd have been right to!

Schmidlap, where are those camps?

Police State (n.)  A state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the people, especially by means of a secret police force.

From CNN this morning:

Faced with growing pressure from Southern states, the Bush administration wants the military to come up with ideas on beefing up the U.S. border with Mexico. In back-to-back moves this week, the Pentagon began exploring ways to lend support at the border, while the House voted to allow the Homeland Security Department in limited cases to use soldiers in the region.

Conservation of numbers

You know how gas prices went up again yesterday, depsite nothing significant going on? It took weeks for them to drop a dime, and then in one day, up 22 cents. Anyway, now that gas will be going up above $3/gallon for a while, we need to do something with all those unused "2's". Here's an idea - use them to post the President's approval rating:

President Bush’s job-approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January. Approval ratings for Congress overall also sank, and now stand at 18%.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Moron of the Month

Or year. I'm not sure.

Michael Cohn.

What did this genius do? Well, apparently he purchased tickets for a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball game last season, a game played on Mother's Day. The Angels had a promotion that day where women 18 and over were given a tote bag. He didn't get one, not being a woman, 18 or older, and he's suing. For damages.

Associated Press -- A man who was denied a red nylon tote bag during a Mother's Day promotion at an Angels baseball game has filed a sex and age discrimination lawsuit against the team.

The class action claim filed by Michael Cohn, a Los Angeles psychologist, alleges that thousands of males and fans under age 18 are entitled to $4,000 in damages each because they were treated unequally at last May's promotion. Women over 18 received the gifts.


The team responded to a complaint letter that Cohn wrote last June by sending him four tote bags and a letter stating the team "ran out of the item that day and had to order more."

"They claimed they didn't have any more bags, but my client said there was a mountain of bags stacked so high a show dog couldn't have jumped over them," said Alfred Rava, Cohn's San Diego-based attorney.

Cohn could not be reached for comment.

This weekend's Mother's Day promotion will offer tote bags to the first 25,000 fans over age 18, rather than cater specifically to women. Mead would not say whether the change was in response to Cohn's complaint.

Rava said the altered promotion still violates the civil rights of fans under age 18.

Sports franchises have given away things for years and years, often to different groups for whom the gift would be particularly intriguing. The Angels, I'm sure, thought that giving women a gift on Mother's Day was a reasonably logical thing to do. When he asked for one later, they sent him four (clearly demostrating the immense value of the bags). Now he wants $4000. A person. For everyone who didn't get the bags. I'm not sure where the show dogs entered the equation, however.

You know, if this were some 16 year old woman with a child who was being told she couldn't have the gift because she wasn't old enough, then it would be a stupid argument, but I'd listen. This guy makes the rest of us look bad.

On the other hand, $4000 would pay for the gas it takes to get to Anaheim in that traffic.


In the wake of the nomination of Michael Hayden to head gut and marginalize the CIA, we hear that at his old gig, they are tracking every phone call we make. Lovely.

The general also indicated that the problem with legality and the NSA wiretapping isn't the wiretapping, it is THE LAW. His solution? WEAKEN THE LAW?

I would like to point out to the general that more is in play here than a statute. There happens to be that thing which he clearly indicated that he did not understand a while back, that pesky 4th Amendment and probable cause and all that. FISA, with its retroactive warrant procedures, is of dubious constitutionality today. he 4th Amendment is the floor beyond which no statutory authorization can go. And if we're playing "how low can you go" and FISA is the limbo stick, it is lying on that floor. Try going below that.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hurray for the tax cuts!

As the tax cuts pass the House, I can only say...

I am so happy!

Thank you President Bush! Thank you Republican Congress!

I think I'll take my savings and get...a 12-pack and a bag of chips?

Yes, thank you Republicans for having your priorities so completely screwed up.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A quick thought on the Goss resignation

Rumors are flying, of course, that former CIA director Porter Goss was connected to the Duke Cunningham hooker scandal, and that this prompted his resignation.

Mr. Goss, I don't care about your "morals." I don't care who you sleep with, I don't care if there was an exchange of consideration in connection with said activities. What I care about is your judgment, and if through whatever conduct you become even MENTIONED in a sex scandal these days, and in particular one with hookers and the word WATERGATE in the same sentence, you are in the wrong job. Goodbye.

And now the administration dumps a Congressional crony for a military one?


First of all, let me apologize for my inattentiveness. I was busy, travel, etc., and after all, work is the curse of the drinking classes.

But the header above refers to Charles Krauthammer. What a repulsive little man.

One way to earn immediate criticism is to play the "Hitler card." All you have to do is mention the man's name, and stand back. In many instances, the criticisms are fair, as the objectives and results of Hitler's "final solution" do not find many equals in today's world.

However, there are many instances in which the attacks are not fair. For example, Sen. Dick Durbin NEVER compared our military, etc. to Hitler. There are also many instances in which it is important to discuss the Hitler example in the context of how a developed, industrial society could be duped and then coerced into either actively embracing or passively allowing horrible things to happen.

The flipside of the "Hitler" card is one that starts with the same letter, that being the "Holocaust card." I will leave it to others to debate the general appropriateness of the comparison between these two, but Krauthammer provides a particularly vulgar version of dealing from that side of the deck.

The subtitle to his obnoxious piece on Iran is "For Israel, it's starting to feel like it's 1938 again."

I'm sorry, but how offensive is that? How can anyone reasonably compare the empty and often mistranslated rhetoric of a figurehead president of Iran to Hitler's genocide accomplished after the wehrmacht rolled through Europe?

(you may find the entire stinking piece here)

How is this POSSIBLY like 1938? In 1938, the Jews of Europe were scatted among weak states that quickly fell before the German onslaught, and the state mechanism offered no defense against this hideous onslaught. Today the state of Israel has nuclear weapons and a virtual guarantee of its security from the United States.

How does that compare to the fate of Jews who could only rely on the quickly defeated Poland, the Netherlands, France and of course Germany itself for protection?

In 1938, hadn't we already seen the aggressive force of a country committed to expansion? Do we see that today? No. As a securities lawyer, we call the words of the Iranian president "puffery." In the NFL, it is "trash talking."

After all, the Germans rolled through weak European states and had their way with local populace. Charles, how does that compare with Israel today? The Iranians are AT BEST 10 years away from coming up with the rudiments of a potential weapon (i.e. the United States back at the early stages of the Manhattan Project) that the Israelis--one of the world's most formidable miliary forces-- already have. Israel has a defense system unmatched in the Middle East and backed by the United States.

It is disgusting, Charles, that you would bring up the horrific treatment of European Jews 60 years ago to try and justify insanity in 2006.

Shame on you.