Thursday, September 29, 2005


There is a good Washington Post article at by Dan Balz, 9/28/05. To summarize it as I see it, it begins with what I think is a premature epitaph for Tom DeLay... I fear that with his power and connections he could come back like a bad dinner. The author brings up some good points about how the current situation is both similar to and different from the way Republicans swept into Congressional power in the 1994 elections.

Here are some excerpts:
Former representative Vin Weber (R-Minn.) said yesterday that he thinks DeLay and Frist are victims of "bum raps," but nonetheless said Republicans should be worried by the prospect that the issue of corruption will become a central theme in the upcoming campaigns.

"I think that the Democrats are unable to exploit issues like energy, taxes and Iraq because they have nothing to say," said Weber, who remains an important GOP strategist. "The problem with the issue of corruption is the opposition party doesn't have to have anything to say. All you've got to be is the other party, so it worries me."
"Tom DeLay was like Tito in Yugoslavia," said James A. Thurber, a professor of government at American University. "He ruled with fear and also resources to reward people. Now without DeLay, the House will be balkanized."
But former House Democratic whip Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), who left Congress under an ethics cloud in 1989, said Republicans now face the prospect of being branded by the same term Gingrich used against the Democrats: the arrogance of power. "He [Gingrich] used that against [then-House Speaker] Jim Wright and the Democrats," Coelho said. "That phrase is now coming back to haunt them. It is not whether anyone did anything wrong; it is the perception that develops, and there is nothing that they can do about it."
Tim Hibbits, an Oregon-based pollster, said the DeLay indictment by itself may be less significant in shaping the partisan environment than some others suggested, but he argued that it will deepen the disenchantment of swing voters toward the political system. For a multitude of reasons, he said, Republicans have much to fear about the year ahead. "I think the Republicans at this point are in more trouble than they realize," Hibbits said.

For Democrats, there were many cautionary notes yesterday, despite their obvious glee over DeLay's indictment. On a practical level, the House is now so gerrymandered by redistricting that far fewer districts are genuinely competitive, making the Democrats' task of scoring big gains there more difficult. Nor is there much evidence yet that the voters see Democrats as an attractive alternative, no matter how sour they may be about the Republicans.

But the DeLay indictment represents a powerfully disruptive force inside a party whose success has been built on discipline, cohesion and the mastery of the mechanics of politics at a time Republicans can least afford it.
Snave's notes: I would agree that any celebration for the actual demise of Tom DeLay's political career may be a bit premature, but I think his indictment is indicative of what I see as a trend in the right direction. As the cracks start to appear in the facade, the GOP will have to scramble to fix a number of its big problems, all at once.

The more this stuff gets talked about, the greater the public perception that the "arrogance of power" is indeed at work in the Republican party. The people on the street might first begin to say things like "Whoa, those guys are crooked." That might expand to "Whoa, the Republican party is crooked." The old "guilt by association" thing. It might then expand to "Whoa, we had better get those guys out of office ASAP." While there might be some good moderate Republicans who will be harmed by this, it may serve to help Congress and the Senate to be rid of some of the more radical members. I don't know about you, but when it comes to the GOP I prefer the moderates to the radicals. That also goes for some Democrats.

The GOP spinners will be burning the candle at both ends to hoodwink as many people as possible... I just hope the public hears enough about big GOP problems during the next month that no matter how successfully Republican candidates try to separate themselves from Bush, they won't be able to do the impossible: separate themselves from their own party!


By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post

On Sept. 1, as tens of thousands of desperate Louisianans packed the New Orleans Superdome and convention center, the Federal Emergency Management Agency pleaded with the U.S. Military Sealift Command: The government needed 10,000 berths on full-service cruise ships, FEMA said, and it needed the deal done by noon the next day.

The hasty appeal yielded one of the most controversial contracts of the Hurricane Katrina relief operation, a $236 million agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines for three ships that now bob more than half empty in the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay. The six-month contract — staunchly defended by Carnival but castigated by politicians from both parties — has come to exemplify the cost of haste that followed Katrina's strike and FEMA's lack of preparation.

To critics, the price is exorbitant. If the ships were at capacity, with 7,116 evacuees, for six months, the price per evacuee would total $1,275 a week, according to calculations by aides to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). A seven-day western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston can be had for $599 a person — and that would include entertainment and the cost of actually making the ship move.

"When the federal government would actually save millions of dollars by forgoing the status quo and actually sending evacuees on a luxurious six-month cruise it is time to rethink how we are conducting oversight. A short-term temporary solution has turned into a long-term, grossly overpriced sweetheart deal for a cruise line," said Coburn and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in a joint statement yesterday calling for a chief financial officer to oversee Katrina spending.

Carnival's bid totaled $192 million over six months, plus $44 million in reimbursable expenses, such as port charges, fuel, food and docking costs. To Carnival executives, the contract will ensure only that the company breaks even when it pulls three ships from holiday operations. About 100,000 passengers had their vacations canceled to accommodate the government's needs, said J. Michael Crye, president of the International Council of Cruise Lines, who has been answering questions about the deal for Carnival.

"In the end, we will make no additional money on this deal versus what we would have made by keeping these ships in service," said Jennifer de la Cruz, a Carnival spokeswoman. "That has been our position from the outset, and it has not changed."

Government contracting officials defended the deal. "They were the market," Capt. Joe Manna, director of contracts at the Sealift Command, said of Carnival. "Under the circumstances, I'd say we're getting a pretty good value."

Coburn and Obama disagreed. "Finding out after the fact that we're spending taxpayer money on no-bid contracts and sweetheart deals for cruise lines is no way to run a recovery effort," they said in the statement.

The Carnival deal is only one of several instances in which a lack of FEMA preparation may have left federal taxpayers with an outsized bill. Despite its experiences with last year's busy hurricane season, FEMA found itself without standing contracts for standard relief items such as blue tarps to cover damaged roofs, according to Thomas A. Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

"It is ridiculous that they can't have the supply on hand for these basics that you know you'll need in every instance," Schatz said.

The rest of the article is at if you can stand to read further.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


By LARRY MARGASAK The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post. A defiant DeLay insisted he was innocent and called the prosecutor a "partisan fanatic."

"I have done nothing wrong ... I am innocent," DeLay told a Capitol Hill news conference in which he criticized the Texas prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, repeatedly. DeLay called Earle a "unabashed partisan zealot," and "fanatic," and described the charges as "one of the weakest and most baseless indictments in American history."

DeLay, 58, was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

In Austin, Texas, Earle told reporters, "Our job is to prosecute abuses of power and to bring those abuses to the public."

DeLay is the first House leader to be indicted while in office in at least a century, according to congressional historians.

"I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today," DeLay said in a statement.

Republican congressional officials said that Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., would recommend to that Rep. David Dreier of California step into those duties, but cautioned plans could change. Some of the duties may go to the GOP whip, Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri. The Republican rank and file may meet as early as Wednesday night to act on Hastert's recommendation.

Blunt said he was confident DeLay would be cleared of the allegations and return to his leadership job. "Unfortunately, Tom DeLay's effectiveness as Majority Leader is the best explanation for what happened in Texas today," Blunt said.

Criminal conspiracy is a state felony punishable by six months to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The potential two-year sentence forces DeLay to step down under House Republican rules.

At the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan said the president still considers DeLay — a fellow Texan — a friend and an effective leader in Congress.

"Congressman DeLay is a good ally, a leader who we have worked closely with to get things done for the American people," McClellan said. "I think the president's view is that we need to let the legal process work."

The indictment puts the Republicans — who control the White House, Senate and House — on the defensive. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., also is fending off question of ethical improprieties. Federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into Frist's sale of stock in HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by his family.
Less than a week ago, a former White House official was arrested in the investigation of Jack Abramoff, a high-powered lobbyist and fundraiser.

The indictment accused DeLay of a conspiracy to "knowingly make a political contribution" in violation of Texas law outlawing corporate contributions. It alleged that DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee accepted $155,000 from companies, including Sears Roebuck, and placed the money in an account.

The PAC then wrote a $190,000 check to an arm of the Republican National Committee and provided the committee a document with the names of Texas State House candidates and the amounts they were supposed to received in donations.

The indictment included a copy of the check.

"The defendants entered into an agreement with each other or with TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee) to make a political contribution in violation of the Texas election code," says the four-page indictment. "The contribution was made directly to the Republican National Committee within 60 days of a general election."

The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury's term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates.

Kevin Madden, DeLay's spokesman, dismissed the charge as politically motivated.

"This indictment is nothing more than prosecutorial retribution by a partisan Democrat," Madden said, citing prosecutor Ronnie Earle, a Democrat.

Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, dismissed the indictment as the work of an "unapologetic Democrat partisan" — Earle — and said, "Democrats resent Tom DeLay because he routinely defeats them both politically and legislatively."
In defending his action against complaints that it was politically drived, Earle told a Texas news conference: "Our job is to prosecute abuses of power."
Madden later added: "They could not get Tom DeLay at the polls. They could not get Mr. DeLay on the House floor. Now they're trying to get him into the courtroom. This is not going to detract from the Republican agenda."

The grand jury action is expected to have immediate consequences in the House, where DeLay is largely responsible for winning passage of the Republican legislative program.

Democrats have kept up a crescendo of criticism of DeLay's ethics, citing three times last year that the House ethics committee admonished DeLay for his conduct.

"The criminal indictment of Majority Leader Tom Delay is the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption at the expense of the American people," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Democratic chairman Howard Dean cited the problems of DeLay, Frist and Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff at the center of questions about the leak of a CIA operative's name.
"The Republican leadership in Washington is now spending more time answering questions about ethical misconduct than doing the people's business," Dean said.

At the White House, McClellan bristled at a question about Democratic claims that Republicans have grown arrogant in their use of power and flaunt rules after years of controlling the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.

McClellan said the Republican Party has made policy that has improved the lives of Americans, and the White House stands by that record.

"We can sit here and try to rush to judgment, but I don't think that's a fair thing to do," McClellan said. "We need to let the legal process work."

However, DeLay retains his seat representing Texas' 22nd congressional district, suburbs southwest of Houston. He denies that he committed any crime.

As a sign of loyalty to DeLay after the grand jury returned indictments against three of his associates, House Republicans last November repealed a rule requiring any of their leaders to step aside if indicted. The rule was reinstituted in January after lawmakers returned to Washington from the holidays fearing the repeal might create a backlash from voters.

DeLay is the center of an ethics swirl in Washington. The 11-term congressman was admonished last year by the House ethics committee on three separate issues and is the center of a political storm this year over lobbyists paying his and other lawmakers' tabs for expensive travel abroad.

Wednesday's indictment stems from a plan DeLay helped set in motion in 2001 to help Republicans win control of the Texas House in the 2002 elections for the first time since Reconstruction.

A state political action committee he created, Texans for a Republican Majority, was indicted earlier this month on charges of accepting corporate contributions for use in state legislative races. Texas law prohibits corporate money from being used to advocate the election or defeat of candidates; it is allowed only for administrative expenses.

With GOP control of the Texas legislature, DeLay then engineered a redistricting plan that enabled the GOP take six Texas seats in the U.S. House away from Democrats — including one lawmaker switching parties — in 2004 and build its majority in Congress.

Snave's note: Sure, it's probably somewhat partisan, but so what, I've been waiting for this for a long time now. I'll have a beer tonight to celebrate.

DeLay's apologists will probably go to the ends of the earth to protect him and get him off the hook... and that will be lots of fun to watch as they try to justify their support of this slickest of hairballs! DeLay and his supporters are obviously already trying to spin the situation so that DeLay himself is the victim, and that he is the object of a partisan witchhunt. Maybe he IS the object of a witchhunt, and if that's the case, maybe it's a shame. However, is there really any way for a rational person to see how Tom DeLay has done anything but bring this situation upon himself? I think not. Greed, avarice, hubris... they will only get a person so far in the world before things come crashing down.

You're going to need lots of good luck, Tom... but you probably don't believe in luck, right? As a fundamentalist Christian, you may well believe that all things happen for a reason, and therefore maybe this indictment is all part of God's plan. Well, if that's the case, I say "Hallelujah!"


WASHINGTON (AP)- Heading into a midterm election year, Republicans find themselves with not one, but two congressional leaders — Bill Frist in the Senate and Tom DeLay in the House — fending off questions of ethical improprieties.

The news that federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into Frist’s sale of stock in HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by his family, comes as a criminal investigation continues of Jack Abramoff, a high-powered Republican lobbyist, and his ties to DeLay of Texas.

Less than a week ago, a former White House official was arrested in the Abramoff investigation.

For Republicans, the timing couldn’t be worse.

The rest of the article is at . It looks as if a criminal indictment of Tom DeLay is a distinct possibility.

Snave's notes: I enjoy seeing the GOP squirm, but I doubt much will come of these problems re. punishments with Frist and DeLay (should they be guilty of what they're accused of), especially when one considers the degree to which the GOP currently controls things, and the degree to which the GOP tends to protect its own no matter how sleazy the politicians might be.

On the other hand, this does provide the Republican party with some much-needed bad publicity. It seems like Bush has been hogging the spotlight lately when it comes to bad PR for the Republicans, so I think it is nice to see some other GOP leaders coming under fire too. I think this will make it harder for lots of Republicans to say they don't like Bush but that they still believe their party is on the up-and-up. Some right-wingers who are trying to distance themselves from Bush may be able to do that successfully, but they may have a harder time distancing themselves from the GOP itself. The more powerful Republican leaders in trouble, the merrier!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I found the following at a good Oregon political website: .

Steve Bucknum opined:

"The following resolution passed overwhelmingly at the quarterly meeting of the Democratic Party of Oregon in Medford this last weekend. Speaking for myself, it was a great relief that this passed, as the perception of the Democratic Party being "anti-gun" is one of the most prevalent false beliefs stated by those that have left the Democratic Party to vote elsewhere.

"Special thanks to Chuck Butcher of Baker County for working the process of the Platform and Resolutions Committee at several meetings over a several month period to get this done."



WHEREAS, the Democratic Party has long been dedicated to the preservation of civil liberties; and

WHEREAS, the Democratic Party has long been dedicated to the preservation of freedom and social justice.


Section 1. To recognize and support the right to keep and bear arms in Article 1 Section 27 of the Oregon State Constitution and the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America as an individual right not granted by the government, but rather guaranteed by the government.

Section 2. In recognition of the tremendous personal responsibility engendered by the right to keep and bear arms, the Democratic Party of Oregon further advocates severe penalties and their enforcement for criminal use or misuse of the right.

ADOPTED by the Democratic Party of Oregon on the 16th day of July, 2005.

Resolution submitted by Charles H Butcher III, Baker County.

Snave's notes: Ideally, there would be no guns at all. I have always thought the primary purpose of guns is to at least frighten, if not injure or kill others. I wish the world would have a mass epiphany and all the guns would be melted.

Even with that said, I don't believe what the Oregon Democrats is a bad thing. Where I live, guns have always kind of been a way of life. Lots of people around here like to hunt. Ranchers need to be able to defend their livestock from predators. And of course, self-defense is not such a bad idea.

I own a rifle, but I don't have it here at home. It is at my parent's place. It's an antique, a very pretty 1893 Stevens Marksman .22, and it is the most accurate thing I have ever fired... I haven't fired it since about 1979, but one day I'll go get it and do some target practice on old beer cans up at the rifle range.

The "gun issue" is one that has caused many rural Oregonians living outside of Eugene, Portland and Salem (traditionally Oregon's "blue" areas) to desert the party in droves. Ask many voters from Medford, Klamath Falls, Burns, Baker City, Pendleton or La Grande if they would vote for a Democrat, and they would say "No way! They just want to take away our guns!"

But there are many Democrats in Oregon, even some in metro areas, who are in favor of gun ownership, with certain restrictions applied. This includes yours truly. I believe the simple acknowledgement of gun rights by Oregon Dems will help mend a few fences, and might even help election results be a little closer out here in "red"-minded Oregon than the usual 2-to-1 margin... as long as we Democrats publicize the fact that we indeed do not, for the most part, want to take away the rights of Oregonians to keep and bear arms.

So I mentioned "restrictions". For me, that would mostly mean you can't buy things like assault rifles. Seriously, who needs those? I'd keep a waiting period and background checks, and try to get manufacturers to make guns that are fireable only by the owner... that technology IS out there. I believe the problem with guns and gun violence would continue to mainly arise from the black market, and that is where I think gun control efforts should be concentrated. I could go both ways on actual gun registration, but I think it might not be bad. That way, guns could be confiscated but only those which are non-registered.

What do y'all think?


Well, I'm back! thanks for sticking around!

I had written a great big long post full of all kinds of odds and ends, but Blogger ate it. I even saved/copied it and tried to paste it back in, but it didn't work. Damned modern technology! Damned hungry Blogger!

Oh well. I remember most of what I commented on, and it will supply me with cute little smart-alecky comments for the next few days.

The trip was long and arduous, and we didn't see Bigfoot. I think Bigfoot realized long ago how dumb most humans can be, so he takes every available precaution in order to avoid contact.

We did see lots of other cool wildlife, and we saw that my conservative relatives have a DVD entitled "Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged" which is produced by a notorious "Christian" video outfit called "Jeremiah" that seems to prey on people's paranoia. I didn't watch the DVD, but I did some research, read some reviews on it. I might even go so far as to buy a cheap used copy of it, so I can see it for myself. Guess their kids may never know the joys of Harry.

More stuff coming soon! Cheers!

Friday, September 23, 2005


I'll be back sometime Sunday evening. We're going to be visiting with relatives during the next couple of days, and I won't have much time to blog. And I doubt I will get to watch my Oregon Ducks take on the USC Trojans tomorrow, either... 8-(>

Tuesday I took a day off from work to help my daughter Kelly move out of our house and into a dorm room at the college here in town. She is only about a mile away, but I find that it's just about killing me. On one hand, I'm thrilled for her! She is going to get a taste of semi-independent living, meet new people, and learn more about herself. Life is now hers to take by the horns and experience on her own! On the other hand, she isn't at our house anymore... and you kind of get used to someone after they live with you for 18 years. I feel like the air has been let out of my balloon.

I told her that her mom and I would be good, that we wouldn't be calling her very often. The rule we made, upon which she agreed, was that she had to call us at least once a week. Well, it's been three days so far... ! And that tells me she is doing o.k. and probably having a good time. In fact, I am sure she is handling this major change a lot better than I am. Her younger sister, now 17 and a junior in high school, is beside herself because she and her sister are the best of friends. A couple of nights ago, she was sobbing uncontrollably, and she has definitely not been her usual bubbly self the last couple of days. Anyway... life is full of things to which we all need to adjust.

See y'all Sunday!

SMART by Shel Silverstein

Fine art was found at

by Shel Silverstein

My dad gave me a dollar
`Cause I'm his smartest son
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
`Cause two is more than one!

And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes --- I guess he don't know
That three is more than two!

Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just ‘cause he can't see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!

And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the feed-seed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
five is more than four!

And then I went and showed my dad,
And he got red in the cheeks,
closed his eyes and shook his head ---
Too proud of me to speak!

Snave's note: Could the son in this poem be Dubya?


More proof that gasoline prices are out of control: I pulled into a full service gas station today and asked for five dollars worth of gas. The guy farted, took my five and walked away.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I am starting my presidential campaign as of now.

As president of the United States of America, I will advocate some fun stuff.

I want to see fifty miles per gallon for all our gas-powered vehicles by 2012. Those vehicles will be gradually phased out and replaced by electric ones or hydrogen-powered ones by 2020. I won’t get any campaign contributions from the oil companies or auto manufacturers, but so what. In 15 years from now, we will have reduced our automobile related pollutants by about 80% and we won’t be needing to drill for oil in America, or be beholden to Middle Eastern nations. A fun project might be to dig tunnels beneath the Saudi oil fields, drain all the oil out, load it into large containers, and send the containers into deep space.

I’m for the repeal of tax cuts which favor the wealthiest among us. We don’t need to widen the gap between rich and poor any more than we are already doing. American corporations will not be allowed to headquarter offshore, either. They will have to pay their taxes. If they refuse, I’ll send our Military to the Cayman Islands and the Bermudas, take those places over, and seize the offenders’ assets, claiming them as property of the USA. Of course this means I would get no financial support from most major corporations, but what the heck. Their attitude sucks. Someone needs to teach them a lesson, and I guess that’s gonna have to be the Snavester.

Would I raise taxes? Yes, maybe by a percent or two under our current system. What would other taxation systems do? What would happen if we had a flat tax of maybe 15%, or a national sales tax of 1% or 2%? I think other ways of gathering tax money might be worth exploring.

I’d turn most of the space program over to the private sector. I think we need to keep our national spirit of exploration alive, but I don’t want the government footing the bill unless we end the shuttle program and get into some actual exploration, and I think the creativity NASA has lost can be found in the minds of private entrepreneurs. NASA would continue, but it would be more like a group that would set guidelines under with the private companies would create. I think NASA has gotten too big and bloated anyway. America deserves better than what NASA has given us for the last 20 years. There are also vast, largely-unexplored areas right here on Earth… the seas! Who knows what me might find down there? Mermaids? Heh…

The Department of Fatherland Security would be renamed the Department of Homeland Security, and it would be geared toward keeping the bad guys out of America and keeping them from bringing in nukes, dirty bombs, and biological weapons. Airport, seaport and border security would increase, and our military would be used to help out with this effort. The military would maintain a presence here and there around the world, but a majority of troops would be stationed right here in America, many of them at ports of entry.

Our country would never invade another country without provocation. Our country would reach out to disaffected people here at home and around the world. We would be working to understand the Islamic faith, and working to help Muslims change their worldview as our new, peaceful government gets underway. Our attitude would basically be live and let live. Our country would be stronger due to better use of the military and increased security at home. We would help out around the world, but we wouldn’t have to worry about other countries as much, with the exception of increasing our humanitarian efforts. We would rid ourselves of our enemies by making them into friends, not by intimidating them into submission or invading them. I think terrorism isn't the disease, but that it is a symptom of a disease, and that we need to be trying to find cures for the disease. Sure, that's naive and idealistic, but hey... our country needs some idealistic people. Maybe not more naive people, but... oh well.

The separation of church and state would be absolute. If a religious leader decided to take political sides, his organization and church would be required to pay taxes. Taxpayer money would not be usable for subsidizing religious schools. It would not be permissible to teach faith as science. The government would neither suppress nor encourage any particular faith. I would abolish the death penalty. I think a worse punishment than a fairly quick death would be to spend the rest of one’s life in prison, being abused. As I see it, the death penalty provides an easy way out for many of the people who get the that sentence.

Marijuana would be legalized and sold alongside booze in liquor stores. The government would grow it, process it, and package it. It would be priced more cheaply than current street prices, and it would be of varying grades of potency. Most of the people in jail for marijuana-related offenses, i.e. doing time for smoking a joint or getting caught in possession, would be immediately released. I think legalizing pot would actually make it harder for kids to get hold of it. It would cut into the power of the drug lords in Mexico, Columbia, etc. who are growing it, by virtually eliminating the American black market. Fewer people would end up growing and selling the stuff. On a related note, I would allow industrial hemp to be used widely in our country. We would have better quality paper, and more good material for clothing. I can’t understand why hemp is not a major cash crop in the United States.

Public education would not receive cuts in funding; I would increase the funding. Schools that have cut out their art, music and PE programs would be able to reinstate those programs. University standards for receiving teaching degrees would become more difficult, and starting teacher pay would increase accordingly. More funding would be available to help pay for school repairs.

The Constitution would be used as a shield, not as a sword.

Industrial polluters would pay heavy fines for releasing more than specified amounts of pollutants, and strict guidelines would be set to make those amounts extremely low. Fines collected would be used for environmental cleanup and preservation. Those individuals responsible for the polluting would be required to ingest various amounts of the polluting substances, and their bodily reactions would be studied by scientists. Alternative energy sources would be developed and utilized. Solar and wind power would be used to generate electricity. Wind turbines would become rather common in windy places around the country. Cars with a receptacle in the drivers' seat could actually be engineered to run on methane.

I would work to keep abortion legal, safe and rare. I don't believe in abortion as a matter of convenience, but men shouldn't decide those things.

The Fairness Doctrine ensured that broadcasters would bring opposing points of view to their listeners. I would reinstate it. AM radio would no longer be a right-wing wasteland, but would need to give some equal time to the left as well, helping listeners to make informed decisions. FOX might have to provide viewers with more than Alan Colmes. Wouldn’t that be cool? The Fairness Doctrine is not a threat to talk radio, because talk radio got going under the doctrine, after all. Balance isn’t required internally within individual shows, but stations are required to provide a reasonable balance in overall programming. An informed public equals an informed electorate, as far as I’m concerned. Under the doctrine, I would also require CBN to give Satan some air time.

All Americans would receive a lifetime membership to BMG Music Service, Columbia House or Book Of The Month Club.

Internet technology would be developed to allow the receivers of spam e-mail to send an impulse through the internet, back to the place at which the spam originated. The impulse would create a small explosion that would render the spammer's computer equipment useless.

There are too many more fun things to mention at the moment... if I think of any more later on, I'll add them.

Those who disagree with me can flame away, I don't care. Once elected, I will be known as The Asbestos President, for my ability to survive incendiary Republican tactics.

Anyone out there want to be my running mate?


excellent art by Steve McNiven

Maybe Dats Your Pwoblem Too
(by Jim Hall)

All my pwoblems who knows,
maybe evwybody's pwoblems is due to da fact,
due to da awful twuth dat I am

I know, I know.
All da dumb jokes:
No flies on you, ha ha,
and da ones about what do I do wit all doze extwa legs in bed.

Well, dat's funny yeah. But you twy being
SPIDERMAN for a month or two.
Go ahead.

You get doze cwazy calls fwom da Gubbener
askin you to twap some booglar
who's only twying to wip off color TV sets.

Now, what do I cawre about TV sets?
But I pull on da suit, da stinkin suit,
wit da sucker cups on da fingers,
and get my wopes and wittle bundle of equipment
and den I go flying like cwazy
acwoss da town fwom woof top to woof top.

Till der he is.
Some poor dumb color TV slob
and I fall on him and we westle a widdle
until I get him all woped.

So big deal. You tink when you
der's sometin big going to happen to you.

Well, I tell you what.
It don't happen dat way.
Nuttin happens.
Gubbener calls, I go.
Bwing him to powice,
Gubbener calls again,
like dat over and over.

I tink I twy sometin diffunt.
I tink I twy sometin excitin like wacing cawrs.
Sometin to make my heart beat at a difwent wate.

But den you just can't quit being sometin like
You SPIDERMAN for life.
I can't even buin my suit.
It won't buin.
It's fwame wesistent.

So maybe dat's youwr pwoblem too, who knows.

Maybe dat's da whole pwoblem wif evwytin.
Nobody can buin der suits, dey all fwame wesistent.
Who knows?

Monday, September 19, 2005


This poor kid is high on Bushahol, one of the most dangerous epidemics of addiction to ever hit our country.

A staggering 51% of American voters were proven to be under the influence at the time of the 2004 presidential elections. While many of the addicted believe this number represents a vast majority of the voting population, it is actually only half.

Mental characteristics of Bushaholism include but may not be limited to bellicosity, belligerence, a feeling of entitlement and privilege, delusions of grandeur, carelessness, self-preservation, exaggeration, a tendency to overspend, tendencies toward religious fundamentalism and nationalism, cognitive dissonance, a lack of sense of humor (or an inability to understand it), susceptibility to argumental fallacies, disregard for the natural environment, a tendency to overreach, difficulty with speaking the English language, desire for conquest and dominance, and a condescending attitude toward fellow humans, particularly those who disagree with them. Physical characteristics may include swaggering, winking, smirking, leaning forward on one's elbows, and flipping people off. Also frequently noted are protruding lips, eyes set too close together, and a furrowed brow.

There is no known cure for Bushaholism, but in some cases a helpful tactic has been to isolate sufferers from their addicted friends and appeal to their sense of reason. This is usually not possible if the subject has acquired a strong sense of religious fundamentalism, but if the patient appears to be a Bushaholic primarily due to fiscal factors, there is a chance for recovery.

Nearly all Bushaholics have the ability to reason and to use critical thinking skills, although many will bypass these skills en route to forming opinions. Instead, they tend to favor the easier route of thinking as prominent ideologues instruct them. However well it may be hidden, most Bushaholics do have a sense of conscience. An appeal to conscience and/or their sense of honesty has been known to convert some sufferers, although deprogrammers should not expect results to be immediate. The addiction of the sufferer is strong, and a gradual approach to recovery is usually more successful.

We on the left need to do our job, and tell our addicted friends to "just say no" to Bushahol!

Saturday, September 17, 2005


CHARLESTON, SC–Washington Redskins defensive end D'Aundré Banks gave "all thanks and praise to my personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" Monday for giving him the strength he needed to fatally stab bouncer Isaac Edmonds and ex-girlfriend Pamela Hamilton outside a Charleston nightclub early Sunday morning.

"All glory to Jesus," the 25-year-old Banks, who attended the University of South Carolina, told reporters from his cell in the Charleston County Jail. "He is with me in this dark hour, as He was in our devastating 14-13 playoff loss to the Buccaneers. His love will see me through this."

According to police reports, at approximately 2:30 a.m., a visibly intoxicated Banks became involved in an altercation with Edmonds regarding who would accompany Hamilton home. When Edmonds attempted to restrain Banks, the 288-pound devout Christian produced a knife and stabbed Edmonds and Hamilton repeatedly. He then fled to the home of girlfriend and Hooters waitress Lisa Nolan in nearby Summerville, where police arrested him several hours later.

"First off, I'd like to say 'great job' to Isaac and Pamela, who put up a heck of a fight and have nothing to be ashamed of," Banks said. "They were terrific opponents, and it's too bad somebody had to lose a life. But the Lord Jesus Christ was truly with me Saturday night. He guided my hand when I was able to make that big hit on Isaac, and I really felt His presence when I stepped up and made that great slashing cut to bring Pamela down from behind."

Added Banks: "Jesus really let me take this homicide to the next level. Thank you, Jesus!"
Banks, who has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, has been a devout born-again Christian ever since his hot-tub baptism at the hands of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver and ordained minister Irving Fryar during Pro Bowl week in 1997.

Emergency personnel load one of Banks' victims into an ambulance.

"I was a mess before Jesus took my hand," Banks said. "At South Carolina, I'd show up late to practice, stay out late running around with the wrong crowd, all kinds of bad things. I was about to squander the precious gift of football God blessed me with. But through His grace, I was drafted in the fourth round and sent to the NFL to meet Rev. Fryar, who showed me that Jesus wanted me to glorify Him and play on His team."

Continued Banks: "D'Aundré Banks' life would be nothing without Christ's faith. Without His peace and love, D'Aundré Banks never would have gotten his time in the 40 down to 4.6 for the 1995 NFL scouting combines, and he never would have had the strength to turn a big guy like Isaac Edmonds around with just one arm and stab him."

Jeff Rosenzweig, Banks' Miami-based agent and manager, said his client has been unfairly represented by the media in its coverage of the double homicide.

"All the papers are branding D'Aundré a murderer, as if that's all there is to him," Rosenzweig said. "But in their mad rush to demonize D'Aundré, they neglect to mention his deep dedication to the D'Aundré Banks Helps Kids Tackle Drugs For A Loss Foundation and the Big 98 Safety In The End Zone Safe House For Women. Or, for that matter, that he acknowledges the workings of Christ in his everyday life. No, you don't see any of those things mentioned in the articles about him. It's all 'homicide this' and 'seven-inch stab wound that.'"

Banks, whose preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22 in Charleston County Court, said his fate is in Christ's hands.

"I don't know what will happen to me. That's up to the Lord," Banks said. "The Bible tells us that nothing is done on this Earth but that is done through God. No multimillion-dollar contract extension, no game-saving interception, no acquittal on both counts of first-degree murder happens without Him."


Friday, September 16, 2005


For those of you readers who are conservatives, yeah, Dubya is still the president. Add that to GOP control of the House, Senate and Supreme Court, and you guys have lots to cheer about. If it is actually worth cheering about. Go ahead and cheer, but don't overreach!

Bush’s job approval rating is the lowest it has been during his five years so far, anywhere from 38% to 42% depending on which poll you look at, and it continues to fall. Does that mean that the other 58% to 62% disapprove or aren’t sure he is doing a good job? I would guess it does. And the negative trend continues.

Bush is certainly what I would consider a "lame duck" president, but we still have to deal with three more years of lies, smirks, swaggering, pandering, war, disregard for the environment, addled foreign policy, religious fundamentalism, tax breaks for rich corporations, etc. ad nauseum, not to mention his upcoming Supreme Court legacy... which will be with us for decades.

The conservatives can laugh and joke and rub our leftist noses in this sad state of affairs as much as they please, but indications are that Bush’s house of ‘tards... er, cards... is starting to fold. The media seems to be getting off its collective duff (finally), reporting a bit more often about things that aren’t necessarily going well with the Bush presidency.

As the war in Iraq drags on, voters will get tired of hearing about it, will realize the folly of it, and will want it over and done ASAP... and whether or not that’s right, it will create trouble for the GOP.

As government spending INCREASES, Americans may begin to realize the party of big spending is now the Republican party... the Bush administration's profligate spending at least indicates a huge flip-flop in GOP philosophy if nothing else. Where is the outrage from conservative voters?

As more Americans realize that the administration includes a number of Bush cronies who don’t have the experience to adequately perform their jobs in times of crisis... many Bush apologists may begin to turn away from the Dark Side and assume a more moderate stance, considering how national safety has necessarily become a major issue in recent years.

Let’s go back to “flip-flopping” for just a moment. Who said he was not going to engage in nation-building, but is now doing just that? Who said he would not spend the Social Security surplus but has done so anyway? Who said he was against a Homeland Security department, then said he was for it? Who said he was against a 9-11 Commission and then said he was for it? Who said we could win the war on terror, then said we couldn’t win it, then said we could? Who said he was against deficits, and is now apparently for them? Who said he was in favor of states’ rights in deciding on gay marriage issues, and then said he favored a Constitutional amendment banning it? Who said the "mission accomplished" banner was put up by the sailors, then later admitted it was his advance team? Who said "The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden”, then said "I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care.” The answer to these questions is, of course, George W. Bush, and there are many more instances of this. And isn't it good strategy to take your own faults and label your opponents as ones who have those traits? I would imagine Karl Rove thinks so, because in the 2004 election the "Kerry is a flip-flopper" statements sure did a nice job of distracting voters from Bush's first-term performance and future agenda...

The conservatives who put Bush in office in 2004 will soon enough see that many of their Republican House and Senate candidates will distance themselves from Bush as much as possible in order to make themselves electable. If the conservative voters are smart, they may also distance themselves from Bush and his ilk, opting instead for candidates (Democrat, Republican, or otherwise) who more closely represent the American political mainstream.

When one is in the habit of messing lots of things up at the workplace, the urge to go on vacation may take hold. Being president must be very hard work. When I look at what has gone on during the last five years, and then the amount of time Bush is on vacation, I begin to wonder about the “why” for taking all the time off. I offer you some theories:

1) NUT CASE THEORY - He is basically goofy (as in "mental"). Sometimes his medications work and sometimes not. When he is going through a bad time, and his handlers don't want him to have a public tantrum, or for him to get caught on film flipping someone off, or to be heard on tape swearing up a blue streak (and he has been known to do all these things), they take him to Crawford to "cool off" for a bit. I hope this isn't the case... mental illness in a leader could lead to devastating consequences for a country. We should never forget who controls our nation's nuclear (not "nucular") arsenal.

2) "OFF THE WAGON" THEORY - He is drinking again, and he needs to "dry out" from time to time. His handlers determine when he needs to go on "vacation" so he can do some detox. When the going gets tough, the tough guy goes out of town and spends time at the ranch. I hope this isn't the case... alcoholism is a terrible thing I would wish on no-one, and alcoholics can be quite temperamental. Again, let's not forget who controls America's nukes.

3) DRILL AND REPETITION THEORY - He actually does have a "working vacation", but it's a time when his handlers drill him on what to say for the next few months. When they decide he is starting to "wing it" too much with the press, and he is making too many gaffes in his public speaking, they hide him for a while so they can use good old drill and repetition to teach him some new things to say. I would be curious to see if this is the case. I may just have to check his quotes from times right after his "vacations" as compared to his quotes from just beforehand, and see if there are any differences in the Imbecile Index.

4) REAGAN EMULATION THEORY - Americans loved Ronald Reagan, and many still do, almost to the point of worship. A big part of Reagan’s image was the cowboy hat and the big smile, and “going to the ranch”. Bush also has a ranch, and if he “goes to the ranch”, it may help his image in that everyday Americans will view him as a “hard working rancher” when the photo-op shots show him in ordinary clothes, working up a sweat as he cuts brush. The more he can portray himself as an equal of Reagan in anyway, the more diehard conservatives might blindly follow along.

Those first four items are all about his public image, and the first three are about his handlers trying to keep him out of the public eye during bad times.

Another possibility?

5) DOESN’T GIVE A HOOT THEORY - He loves his title of POTUS and the power that goes with it, but he detests work... so he gets away from the workplace for long periods of time. Because he can... not like most of the rest of us. I also hope this theory isn't true, as it would mean Bush basically doesn't give a hoot about anything but himself.

Are there other possibilities? And don't say Bush takes these great long vacations because he has earned them... that might wash on some rightwing weblogs, but I don't think it will here.

I tend to believe the reason for all Bush's time off is a combination of the above theories. I tend to go with 10% Reagan Emulation, 30% Drill and Repetition, and 60% Doesn’t Give a Hoot.

My prediction: If the country makes it through Dubya’s final three years and remains the United States of America as we know it... the "tell-all" books about Bush and his presidency are going to be fascinating. There will be post-Bush books that praise him as a wonderful, intelligent, compassionate and visionary leader (and these will probably be written by the rabid Coulter/Hannity/Limbaugh types, maybe 25% of the authors, whose cognitive dissonance has not yet dissipated), and there will be highly entertaining, informative books which ceaselessy tell of Bush's dark side (the other 75% of the writers, who were either against Bush to begin with or who will have had epiphanies by that time)... and all the books will be bestsellers! Highly entertaining and informative books are the kind I like to take along on vacation.

Can you guess which post-Bush tell-all books I'll be reading?

Bring on the entertainment!

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Yes, according to writer E. J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post. I would tend to agree with most of what the author says. What do you think?

End of the Bush Era

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Washington Post

The Bush Era is over. The sooner politicians in both parties realize that, the better for them -- and the country.

Recent months, and especially the past two weeks, have brought home to a steadily growing majority of Americans the truth that President Bush's government doesn't work. His policies are failing, his approach to leadership is detached and self-indulgent, his way of politics has produced a divided, angry and dysfunctional public square. We dare not go on like this.

The Bush Era did not begin when he took office, or even with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It began on Sept. 14, 2001, when Bush declared at the World Trade Center site: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon." Bush was, indeed, skilled in identifying enemies and rallying a nation already disposed to action. He failed to realize after Sept. 11 that it was not we who were lucky to have him as a leader, but he who was lucky to be president of a great country that understood the importance of standing together in the face of a grave foreign threat. Very nearly all of us rallied behind him.

If Bush had understood that his central task was to forge national unity, as he seemed to shortly after Sept. 11, the country would never have become so polarized. Instead, Bush put patriotism to the service of narrowly ideological policies and an extreme partisanship. He pushed for more tax cuts for his wealthiest supporters and shamelessly used relatively modest details in the bill creating a Department of Homeland Security as partisan cudgels in the 2002 elections.

He invoked our national anger over terrorism to win support for a war in Iraq. But he failed to pay heed to those who warned that the United States would need many more troops and careful planning to see the job through. The president assumed things would turn out fine, on the basis of wildly optimistic assumptions. Careful policymaking and thinking through potential flaws in your approach are not his administration's strong suits.

And so the Bush Era ended definitively on Sept. 2, the day Bush first toured the Gulf Coast States after Hurricane Katrina. There was no magic moment with a bullhorn. The utter failure of federal relief efforts had by then penetrated the country's consciousness. Yesterday's resignation of FEMA Director Michael Brown put an exclamation point on the failure.

The source of Bush's political success was his claim that he could protect Americans. Leadership, strength and security were Bush's calling cards. Over the past two weeks, they were lost in the surging waters of New Orleans.

But the first intimations of the end of the Bush Era came months ago. The president's post-election fixation on privatizing part of Social Security showed how out of touch he was. The more Bush discussed this boutique idea cooked up in conservative think tanks and Wall Street imaginations, the less the public liked it. The situation in Iraq deteriorated. The glorious economy Bush kept touting turned out not to be glorious for many Americans. The Census Bureau's annual economic report, released in the midst of the Gulf disaster, found that an additional 4.1 million Americans had slipped into poverty between 2001 and 2004.

The breaking of the Bush spell opens the way for leaders of both parties to declare their independence from the recent past. It gives forces outside the White House the opportunity to shape a more appropriate national agenda -- for competence and innovation in rebuilding the Katrina region and for new approaches to the problems created over the past 4 1/2 years.

The federal budget, already a mess before Katrina, is now a laughable document. Those who call for yet more tax cuts risk sounding like robots droning automated talking points programmed inside them long ago. Katrina has forced the issue of deep poverty back onto the national agenda after a long absence. Finding a way forward in -- and eventually out of -- Iraq will require creativity from those not implicated in the administration's mistakes. And if ever the phrase "reinventing government" had relevance, it is now that we have observed the performance of a government that allows political hacks to push aside the professionals.

And what of Bush, who has more than three years left in his term? Paradoxically, his best hope lies in recognizing that the Bush Era, as he and we have known it, really is gone. He can decide to help us in the transition to what comes next. Or he can cling stubbornly to his past and thereby doom himself to frustrating irrelevance.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Sunday, September 11, 2005


These two delightful images are from a wonderful website you may want to check out, at . Enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2005





The following item is from a wonderful site you should check out if you haven't already, at !

New Disease: Gonorrhea Lectim

The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of sexually transmitted disease. This disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behavior. The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim. Many victims have contracted it after having been screwed for the past 5 years, in spite of having taken measures to protect themselves from this especially troublesome disease. Cognitive sequellae of individuals infected with Gonorrhea Lectim include, but are not limited to:

- Anti-social personality disorder traits
- Delusions of grandeur with a distinct messianic flavor
- Chronic mangling of the English language
- Extreme cognitive dissonance
- Inability to incorporate new information
- Pronounced xenophobia
- Inability to accept responsibility for actions
- Exceptional cowardice masked by acts of misplaced bravado
- Uncontrolled facial smirking
- Ignorance of geography and history
- Tendencies toward creating evangelical theocracies
- A strong propensity for categorical, all-or nothing behavior

The disease is sweeping Washington. Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed and baffled that this malignant disease originated only a few years ago in a Texas Bush.

Gonorrhea Lectim (say it out loud)

Friday, September 09, 2005



Here are a few interesting links on the recent activities of Texas Governor Rick Perry:

What do you think?

I think while other parts of the country may be evolving, Texas is in a state of de-evolution. Anyone think Rick Perry will run for President on the GOP ticket, sooner or later? I hope people would be smart enough to deny this guy their vote.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


If you go to Fred's weblog at

and check out the first four or five posts, you will find some items of interest!

Fred provides some good links, and the one to the Scott McClellan press briefing is simply amazing. It looks like the media may finally be smelling some blood. McClellan is right when he speaks of the need to help hurricane victims, but he keeps repeating that like a mantra, as if he has been instructed to use the disaster and the fact that relief is being provided (no matter how late) as a way to divert attention from other aspects of the disaster and from other current issues. If the press is attacking Scott McClellan like this, I doubt the POTUS will hold another press conference before the end of his term... and he may spend a lot of time finding ways of avoiding the press altogether. Being openly questioned by angry people is something his handlers have always helped him avoid, and I doubt anything will change in this case.

Also, check out the story from DailyKos about firemen being used as props... a link is provided, and it is appalling stuff.

I'm very glad help is being provided by the federal government and other agencies even if it has been way too late for thousands of people. Even so, I just don't see how Bush and his friends are going to successfully spin Hurricane Katrina in their favor. I know they will try... At the moment, life is giving Karl Rove lemons, and we all know how successful the guy is at making lemonade.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


To quote the title of an old album from way back by a not-too-well-known band called Camel (and another album by the same title, which featured guitarist Pat Metheny) : "I Can See Your House From Here"! Above is a picture of the town in which I live. If you go to Google Earth, you can see what your area looks like from eight or ten miles up, or even higher than that!

I typed in my street address and it zoomed right in, although it was blurry. The close-ups are usually low-resolution, probably so the thing can't be used as a tool by terrorists. But it's a pretty fascinating tool!

If you haven't been to Google Earth yet, it's a blast! Go to and see for yourself!


The death of Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist is not as important at the moment as what is happening in our country in the Gulf Coast, but it could be extremely important down the road. It's tough to think about other matters at the moment, but I believe this one is very important to the future of our country. The following stuff includes excerpts from an article at :

Bush can follow a number of different strategies in finding a replacement for Rehnquist:

- Appoint John Roberts to the chief justice vacancy and find another nominee for the O’Connor vacancy.

- Stick with Roberts as the nominee to replace O’Connor and elevate Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas to be chief justice, and then appoint another nominee to the empty associate justice chair. This option would necessitate three separate confirmation hearings.

- Go outside the current Supreme Court to find a new chief justice. Potential nominees include federal appeals court judges J. Michael Luttig and Michael McConnell and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard Law School professor.

The chief justice’s vacancy matters more than other openings on the court. A politically-attuned chief can use the court to advance a legal philosophy that he sees as necessary for the times.
Case in point: Earl Warren, the governor of California and former Republican vice presidential candidate appointed to the court by President Eisenhower in 1953, led revolutions in civil rights and criminal defendants’ rights.

...instead of influencing one-ninth of America’s laws and social trends over the next 40 years, Bush now has the opportunity to influence two-ninths of that future on matters ranging from the death penalty to property rights.

...presidents who seek to implement the changes that their elections have made possible — Franklin Roosevelt in 1937, for example — do not pick consensus nominees for the Supreme Court, but nominees committed to the victorious president’s jurisprudence.

The nine Roosevelt loyalists whom FDR placed on the high court approved of an activist New Deal government. By 1945, when the president died, they had made it a Roosevelt court.
But Bush’s chances of making today’s Supreme Court a Bush court were much stronger six months ago, in the wake of his re-election, than they are today, when Democrats think they have him at an disadvantage.

In this late summer struggle, Bush could hope for a repeat of the 1986 scenario which showed that two targets are harder to hit than one. President Ronald Reagan, working with a Senate under the control of his own party, but under fierce fire from Kennedy and other liberals, managed to get two certifiably conservative justices confirmed: Rehnquist to be chief justice and Scalia to fill Rehnquist’s associate justice vacancy.

Due to being “too extreme” for Kennedy on women’s rights and other issues, Rehnquist served as the lightning rod for Democratic criticism.

Having apparently exhausted themselves on trying to scuttle Rehnquist, Kennedy and the outside opposition groups seemed to lack the vigor to wage an all-out war to defeat Scalia. The Senate confirmed him unanimously.

Snave's notes: This is a case where I agree with sentiments Ted Kennedy has expressed, mainly that our government needs to deal with our own humanitarian crises before the likely haggling begins over the open Supreme Court positions. When the time comes to haggle, I think we need to proceed with caution and examine all nominees closely.

Losing Rehnquist is losing a conservative who dissented on Roe v. Wade, who helped deliver the presidency to Bush in 2000, who believed we have no rights other than those specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and who steered the Supreme Court to the right during his career.

I can tolerate a Supreme Court that leans slightly to the left or right which contains independent thinkers. That's how it has been for a while now. I highly doubt that I (or lots of other Americans) can tolerate a Supreme Court, with fewer independent thinkers, that will hand down 6-3 decision after 6-3 decision in favor of right-wing political causes.

During the next several years, we Democrats, other left-wingers and thoughtful Independents can't "lack the vigor" we lacked in 1986. Replacing the conservative Rehnquist with a Bush nominee would probably just be a "wash" for the left. I have thought all along that if a SECOND vacancy occurred during Dubya's reign, THAT would be the one for us left-wingers to be really concerned about. If John Roberts needs to be opposed, let's use a good amount of energy for opposing him, but let's save a huge load of our energy for the real fight that will follow his likely approval. If we miscalculate, Dubya's Supreme Court legacy will be with us for decades.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


The above cartoon was stolen from J.Marquis of "Are We There Yet?" Please check out his righteous weblog at !

Forgive me if I leave logic to the wind during the following rant. I can't stand to see people suffer, and what I'm seeing is just too much. The amount of suffering, much of it unneccesary, is pissing me off.

The images coming out of New Orleans look like something from a third world country. While the relief that has been provided there is much more than a third world nation could provide in such an emergency, it took too long to start the relief... When I look at the pictures, I have to think about how we have third world living conditions here, right here in the richest country in the world.

Not only do we not have a national health care system, we also have emergency contingency plans that apparently don't include those who lack the money to escape disasters, and which possibly don't include those who don't have white skin. If you're living in poverty and if your skin isn't the right color, you might just as well be up shit creek without a paddle when it comes to getting rescued from a flood.

Aren't all Americans created equal? Our national health care policy is something like "don't get sick". Is the general policy for disaster relief "provide for those who have the means to get out?"
I hope Condoleeza Rice enjoyed her vacation while all this was happening. I'm sure she needed new shoes and needed to see "Spamalot!" instead of helping with the disaster.

I hope the POTUS enjoyed his extra day or two of vacation, too. After all, being president is a lot of "hard work", and sometimes it takes a while to decide to do something.

I agree with the comments by performer Kanye West, and the comments of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. NBC silenced West, but his remarks are getting media time anyway. Nagin's rant is already the stuff of legends.

What we are seeing illustrates the living conditions of not just low-income people in New Orleans, but simply that we have these types of conditions all across the country.

We all need to pitch in and help however we can. We also need to get good and mad. The country doesn't have its priorities straight. And we all know what can be done about that in 2006 and 2008, so let's get busy.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Friday, September 2, 2005

(CNN) -- New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin blasted the slow pace of federal and state relief efforts in an expletive-laced interview with local radio station WWL-AM.

The following is a transcript of WWL correspondent Garland Robinette's interview with Nagin on Thursday night. Robinette asked the mayor about his conversation with President Bush:

NAGIN: I told him we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we're outmanned in just about every respect.

You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people that were stuck in attics, man, old ladies. ... You pull off the doggone ventilator vent and you look down there and they're standing in there in water up to their freaking necks.

And they don't have a clue what's going on down here. They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn -- excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed.

WWL: Did you say to the president of the United States, "I need the military in here"?

NAGIN: I said, "I need everything."

Now, I will tell you this -- and I give the president some credit on this -- he sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done, and his name is [Lt.] Gen. [Russel] Honore.

And he came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing and people started moving. And he's getting some stuff done.

They ought to give that guy -- if they don't want to give it to me, give him full authority to get the job done, and we can save some people.

WWL: What do you need right now to get control of this situation?

NAGIN: I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We ain't talking about -- you know, one of the briefings we had, they were talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out here.

I'm like, "You got to be kidding me. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans."

That's -- they're thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can't emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy.

I've got 15,000 to 20,000 people over at the convention center. It's bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines Parish. ... We don't have anything, and we're sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines Parish.

It's awful down here, man.

WWL: Do you believe that the president is seeing this, holding a news conference on it but can't do anything until [Louisiana Gov.] Kathleen Blanco requested him to do it? And do you know whether or not she has made that request?

NAGIN: I have no idea what they're doing. But I will tell you this: You know, God is looking down on all this, and if they are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Because every day that we delay, people are dying and they're dying by the hundreds, I'm willing to bet you.

We're getting reports and calls that are breaking my heart, from people saying, "I've been in my attic. I can't take it anymore. The water is up to my neck. I don't think I can hold out." And that's happening as we speak.

You know what really upsets me, Garland? We told everybody the importance of the 17th Street Canal issue. We said, "Please, please take care of this. We don't care what you do. Figure it out."

WWL: Who'd you say that to?

NAGIN: Everybody: the governor, Homeland Security, FEMA. You name it, we said it.
And they allowed that pumping station next to Pumping Station 6 to go under water. Our sewage and water board people ... stayed there and endangered their lives.

And what happened when that pumping station went down, the water started flowing again in the city, and it starting getting to levels that probably killed more people.

In addition to that, we had water flowing through the pipes in the city. That's a power station over there.

So there's no water flowing anywhere on the east bank of Orleans Parish. So our critical water supply was destroyed because of lack of action.

WWL: Why couldn't they drop the 3,000-pound sandbags or the containers that they were talking about earlier? Was it an engineering feat that just couldn't be done?

NAGIN: They said it was some pulleys that they had to manufacture. But, you know, in a state of emergency, man, you are creative, you figure out ways to get stuff done.

Then they told me that they went overnight, and they built 17 concrete structures and they had the pulleys on them and they were going to drop them.

I flew over that thing yesterday, and it's in the same shape that it was after the storm hit. There is nothing happening. And they're feeding the public a line of bull and they're spinning, and people are dying down here.

WWL: If some of the public called and they're right, that there's a law that the president, that the federal government can't do anything without local or state requests, would you request martial law?

NAGIN: I've already called for martial law in the city of New Orleans. We did that a few days ago.

WWL: Did the governor do that, too?

NAGIN: I don't know. I don't think so.

But we called for martial law when we realized that the looting was getting out of control. And we redirected all of our police officers back to patrolling the streets. They were dead-tired from saving people, but they worked all night because we thought this thing was going to blow wide open last night. And so we redirected all of our resources, and we hold it under check.
I'm not sure if we can do that another night with the current resources.

And I am telling you right now: They're showing all these reports of people looting and doing all that weird stuff, and they are doing that, but people are desperate and they're trying to find food and water, the majority of them.

Now you got some knuckleheads out there, and they are taking advantage of this lawless -- this situation where, you know, we can't really control it, and they're doing some awful, awful things. But that's a small majority of the people. Most people are looking to try and survive.

And one of the things people -- nobody's talked about this. Drugs flowed in and out of New Orleans and the surrounding metropolitan area so freely it was scary to me, and that's why we were having the escalation in murders. People don't want to talk about this, but I'm going to talk about it.

You have drug addicts that are now walking around this city looking for a fix, and that's the reason why they were breaking in hospitals and drugstores. They're looking for something to take the edge off of their jones, if you will.

And right now, they don't have anything to take the edge off. And they've probably found guns. So what you're seeing is drug-starving crazy addicts, drug addicts, that are wrecking havoc. And we don't have the manpower to adequately deal with it. We can only target certain sections of the city and form a perimeter around them and hope to God that we're not overrun.

WWL: Well, you and I must be in the minority. Because apparently there's a section of our citizenry out there that thinks because of a law that says the federal government can't come in unless requested by the proper people, that everything that's going on to this point has been done as good as it can possibly be.

NAGIN: Really?

WWL: I know you don't feel that way.

NAGIN: Well, did the tsunami victims request? Did it go through a formal process to request?
You know, did the Iraqi people request that we go in there? Did they ask us to go in there? What is more important?

And I'll tell you, man, I'm probably going get in a whole bunch of trouble. I'm probably going to get in so much trouble it ain't even funny. You probably won't even want to deal with me after this interview is over.

WWL: You and I will be in the funny place together.

NAGIN: But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places.

Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.

You know, I'm not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly.

And I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem. I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.

WWL: What can we do here?

NAGIN: Keep talking about it.

WWL: We'll do that. What else can we do?

NAGIN: Organize people to write letters and make calls to their congressmen, to the president, to the governor. Flood their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous.
I don't want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can't even count.

Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

WWL: I'll say it right now, you're the only politician that's called and called for arms like this. And if -- whatever it takes, the governor, president -- whatever law precedent it takes, whatever it takes, I bet that the people listening to you are on your side.

NAGIN: Well, I hope so, Garland. I am just -- I'm at the point now where it don't matter. People are dying. They don't have homes. They don't have jobs. The city of New Orleans will never be the same in this time.

WWL: We're both pretty speechless here.

NAGIN: Yeah, I don't know what to say. I got to go.

WWL: OK. Keep in touch. Keep in touch.


(AP) - Rising gasoline prices are having just as big an impact on NASCAR's teams as they are on everyone else in the United States.

Those prices will be felt strongly this week as NASCAR's Nextel Cup and Busch Series teams make the long trek from their home bases in North Carolina to Fontana, Calif., for this weekend's races.

"The gas hike has affected us for sure, and not in just the ways you might think," said Jerry Freeze, general manager of Petty Enterprises. "It has really been a big deal across the board. Of course, moving the race cars with our transporters has seen the most direct hit. We are spending a lot more than what we had to at the beginning of the year, or even last season.

"We also are seeing it in our aircraft. Our charter company, because we charter our team planes, has given us an extra charge directly due to the raise in fuel costs. That has been a big deal. We still need to fly our guys to the tracks. We then have to fly our over-the-wall guys on race day, too."

And that's not all.

"We are in a competitive business," Freeze said. "We go up to Michigan for wind tunnel time, and we are doing a lot of hauling going to and from test sessions. There are a lot of logistics that go into having a competitive race team, and the use of fuel becomes a big factor.

"Any time the prices go up, yeah, you are going to see a difference in the bills. We really haven't discussed it, but if things stay the same or get worse we will have to take a look at it."

Ricky Pearson, crew chief for T.J. Bell's Busch Series team, echoed Freeze.

"It affects everything that we buy, and I'm not just talking about gas," Pearson said. "We get things shipped to us, and if it's not shipped then we actually have to go drive to get a part. That means more use of gas, it means that parts and pieces cost more to get shipped in. It's a big snowball effect and we see the results in our wallet."

Pearson also pointed out the rising gas prices could soon start hurting race attendance.

"It has to affect the fans," he noted. "I don't know how far they can, or will, come to go see a race. A guy with a family of four who takes a week's vacation to come and see a race, and a lot of them do that, they may not be able to do that right now.

"They may not have the funds to go to a race 300 or 400 miles away. It doesn't matter if you are flying or driving, because this gas hike is changing everything. It's a little disheartening to see this happen. It just doesn't affect racing, but really everyday life. It's becoming a real problem."

Snave's notes: Snif, snif!! Could somebody please hand me a handkerchief?

Ya think that during a national fuel crisis... something as wasteful as NASCAR might just temporarily suspend operations? Ya think?


by Steven Thomma
San Jose Mercury News

Americans are mad as hell about soaring gas prices, and Democrats hope they'll take it out on the Republicans who control the federal government in next year's midterm elections.

"Bush does nothing to combat rising prices," the Democratic National Committee said this week in a new attack seeking to link President Bush, his party, gas prices and oil-company profits in the public mind. "Republicans are in the oil companies' pockets and Bush is in the oil companies' pockets."

The White House responds that no one can turn around gas prices instantly, that Bush fought for years to enact an energy bill and that the new plan, signed into law earlier this month, will take years to produce results. "This is a problem that took decades to develop; it's not going to be solved overnight," Deputy White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said.

Polls suggest that most Americans tend to blame oil companies and foreign oil producers more than Bush or other politicians. But if gas prices inflame inflation enough to drag down the economy, that could be the straw that breaks the Republican grip on Congress.

Polls show voters are already deeply unhappy with their lawmakers. Approval ratings for Congress now rival the lows that preceded the 1994 voter revolt, which ended a 40-year Democratic House majority. The news from Iraq isn't brightening the public mood. Throw in resentment of high gasoline prices, topped perhaps by a resulting weak economy, and it could be a rough election year for incumbents of the governing party.

That's exactly what Democrats want.

"Voters who are paying more at the pump are going to make their voice heard in the `06 elections," said Josh Earnest, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

Democrats note that average gasoline prices were 39 percent higher this week than when Bush was sworn into his second term seven months ago and 75 percent higher than when he first took office in January 2001. They complain that the new energy measure "gives billions in tax breaks to oil companies" that already are enjoying record profits. They said Republicans had received $67 million in contributions from the oil and gas industry since 2000.

What would the Democrats do to curb prices? They'd investigate the oil companies and their profits, Earnest said. They also would take some of the oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the marketplace in an effort to ease prices.

Democrat Al Gore urged tapping the reserve in the 2000 presidential campaign, and President Clinton reluctantly agreed, but it had a negligible impact. In 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry again urged dipping into the reserve to ease gas prices, but Bush refused. He says the reserve should be saved for the purpose it was created for, as an emergency supply in case foreign oil sources are disrupted.

Americans by 2 to 1 think Bush isn't doing an effective job handling energy problems, according to a recent survey for the Associated Press. But when they were asked who they blame for high prices, 52 percent listed oil companies or foreign countries, while 21 percent blamed politicians.

"There's no question gas prices are being felt," said Ed Patru, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the party's arm for races in the House of Representatives. "But it's pretty difficult to assign blame to one party or the other for rising gas prices."

To get voters to abandon Republicans and turn to them, Democrats may need to lay out a detailed outline of what they'd do differently on energy and other issues, notably including the Iraq war, some analysts suggested.

"So far the president has dodged the bullet," independent pollster John Zogby said. "If we see gas prices stay as high as they are, Democrats will probably get some sort of message together and Americans may be in a punishing mood. "

Snave's note: I would suggest that the Republicans are not the only party which receives money from oil companies. Democratic politicians are also beholden to various special interests and surely must also receive at least some funding from "Big Oil".

On the other hand, I would have to say the Republican party is much easier to connect with the oil companies than our lefty leadres, and that people who would suggest otherwise have their heads in dark places. It seems as if a lot of Bush's crew are ex-oil execs, and of course we know about Bush's history in the oil industry.

For a while, I was predicting that once people get mad enough about gas prices and complain enough to their Reps and Senators (who will be leaned on by GOP leadership to comply), those elected officials will vote for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge... and once that is approved, we will see at least some decrease in gas prices.

Now I would have to back off on that, because I don't think the Bush administration was expecting something like Hurricane Katrina, which has put a huge kink in our ability to refine oil. I think that before Bush tries to give the environmental movement the slap in the face he has wanted to give it for the last five years (that's all it would be, after all... otherwise, why bother to drill for about 2 years worth of oil that would take up to ten years to deliver?), he will need to get busy at rebuilding the central Gulf Coast and the refineries that are inoperable.

Then, he will probably try for the ANWR drilling approval. If he gets pushy about it now, during the present catastrophe, he will do nothing more than paint a large bulls-eye on himself and the GOP.

Thanks once again to friend Joe for the above article.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Snave's Note: Thanks to friend Joe for the cartoon above and the article below. I tend to agree with just about all of the article.

by Evan Cornog
Newark Star-Ledger

Science is unruly. Rather than respecting the wishes of despots or popular majorities, it stubbornly adheres to a "scientific method" and widely agreed-upon standards of truth. Independent intellectual inquiry has always been a risky business, as Socrates and Galileo and so many others have learned the hard way.

This summer marks the 80th anniversary of the "Monkey Trial," in which a Tennessee schoolteacher named John T. Scopes was prosecuted for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in violation of state law. The trial is perhaps best known through the 1960 movie "Inherit the Wind," which presented a thinly fictionalized account of the courtroom confrontation between Clarence Darrow, the crusading Chicago lawyer who took Scopes' side, and William Jennings Bryan, the veteran tribune of Midwestern discontent who used his rhetorical skills to support the state of Tennessee.

In the 1920s, the national press portrayed Tennessee officials as ignorant hicks (some of the reporters at the trial actually applauded remarks by lawyers for Scopes, and H. L. Mencken took particular delight in going after Bryan, whom he described as a kind of "fundamentalist Pope").

Today, four score years after Scopes' conviction (which was later overturned on a legal technicality), creationism has taken a new, more sophisticated form as "intelligent design" (or ID) theory, and it has been getting much kinder treatment in the press.

Advocates of ID are careful to avoid the mistakes of earlier creationists -- they keep mentions of God to a minimum, and no longer try to advocate (as Bryan did at the Monkey Trial) a literal reading of the Book of Genesis as the explanation for the presence and diversity of life on earth. The emphasis is on "gaps" in the theory of evolution, and ID advocates urge schools to "teach the controversy" rather than demanding, as Tennessee tried to do, that schools avoid teaching evolution entirely.

This position has recently won support from President Bush (the "education president"), who declared to a group of reporters from Texas, "Both sides ought to be properly taught" in order that "people can understand what the debate is about."

The president's position is, then, that of the advocates of ID. And in a nation where more than half the people, according to a recent Gallup poll, think creationism/intelligent design ought to be taught in the schools, it would seem a politically savvy move.

But the real savvy belongs to the leaders of the ID movement, who have managed to create the appearance of a "debate" where, at least as far as science is concerned, there is none.
They have done this in a way that takes advantage of both ordinary people's sense of fair play (after all, where's the harm in hearing both sides?) and the conventions of American journalism, where the desire to represent "both sides" has of late frequently deteriorated into a reflexive balancing act in which reporters and editors, fearful of controversy, avoid anything that looks like editorializing.

As a result, Holocaust deniers are given equal time with legitimate historians, the allegations of the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" are "balanced" against a far more extensive and long-standing record of Sen. John Kerry's heroism in Vietnam, and ID advocates are given a prominent place (such as the op-ed page of last Monday's USA Today) to present their views in opposition to the opinion of pretty much the entire global scientific establishment.

So when Time magazine does a cover story on the controversy, as it did earlier this month, it feels compelled to include a "face-off" between Darwinians and anti-Darwinians on the origin of the eyeball.

After Bush's surprising victory in last November's election, many New York media types decided they had to take the religious views of red-state Americans more seriously, and in many cases that is a good thing. But it is also important to call ignorance ignorance, and to distinguish between things that ought to be taught in science classes (such as evolutionary theory, which is one of the pillars of modern science, and has been supported by more than a century of testing) and those things that ought to be considered in social studies classes (such as creationism and ID).

In an essay for the British magazine New Scientist, Lawrence Krauss, director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University, lamented: "Science only functions with the presumption of honesty. It flounders when confronted by those who knowingly and willingly distort the truth." Krauss goes on to point out the avowedly religious goals of various ID advocates, and says that science courses routinely "teach the controversy" in areas where genuine scientific debate exists.

Journalists, though, function in a more political realm, and sometimes are slow to report as reality points of view on which scientific opinion is reasonably settled (such as global warming, which is overwhelmingly seen as a fact by environmental scientists, whatever the cavils of the Bush administration and others).

But by surrendering its own faculties of critical judgment, journalism can do a grave disservice to the country. Science education is struggling as it is, and long gone are the bold days when the nation responded to the Soviet Union's launch of the first Sputnik spacecraft in 1957 with a renewed commitment to teaching science in our schools.

The United States is not alone in its newfound infatuation with creationist ideas. Evolution has come under attack abroad, in such nations as Serbia and Pakistan. Are those the nations we want to accept as our peers in the pursuit of knowledge? Our nation is alert, as never before, to the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism; but we seem to be growing less alert to the dangers posed by our own, indigenous fundamentalism.

Our journalists need to recover a bit of that self-confident tone that allowed their predecessors in 1925 to ridicule the ignorant lawmakers of Tennessee. Ignorance is ignorance, and intelligent design is creationism dressed up for the talk-show circuit.