Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hammas' Kids Show Ends

*spoiler warning*

From the JPost:
Hamas TV on Friday broadcast what it said was the last episode of a weekly children's show featuring "Farfour," a Mickey Mouse look-alike who had made worldwide headlines for preaching Islamic domination and armed struggle to youngsters.

In the final skit, Farfour was beaten to death by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, Farfour called the Israeli a "terrorist."

"Farfour was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added. more
And thus ends one of the lowest points in TV broadcast history since Urkel.

Unity08 Founder on Colbert Report

Well worth watching.

And afterwards the "Colbert Nation" proceeded to flood with enough traffic to shut it down for a short period of time.

Friday, June 29, 2007

SCOTUS to Rehear Detainee Cases

File this one under whodathunkit.
From SCOTUSblog:

"In a startling turn of events in the legal combat over the war on terrorism, the Supreme Court on Friday agreed to reconsider the appeals in the Guantanamo Bay detainee cases. It vacated its April 2 order denying review of the two packets of cases. The Court then granted review, consolidated the cases, and said they would be heard in a one-hour argument in the new Term starting Oct. 1. Such a switch by the Court -- from denial to rehearing and new argument and decision -- may not have occurred since 1947, in Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, legal sources said Friday."

The WaPo chimes in

Yesterday's decision to change course and hear the case was so unusual that lawyers and court experts went to the archives to try to find the last time it happened. The only consensus was that it had been decades.

"The Supreme Court is going to decide the simple question: Does the Constitution protect the detainees?" said Georgetown University law professor Neal K. Katyal, who successfully argued a detainee case that the court decided just a year ago. In that case, the justices said President Bush did not have authority to set up the military tribunals that the administration thought should hear the cases against the detainees.

In April, three justices -- David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer -- said they were eager to hear the appeals, which presented questions that "deserve this court's immediate attention." It takes four justices to agree to take a case.

Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony M. Kennedy said at the time that they would continue to monitor the legal proceedings involving the detainees. It takes five votes to rehear a denial, so perhaps the two justices concluded that they have seen enough. The court's order is silent on which justices agreed to hear the case. full article

Since only four Justices decided to take the predicting any future ruling is nigh impossible. Odds are it'll be a 5-4 decision. hopefully one in favor of the Geneva conventions. At least then we could say our system may be slow but it works.

Unsurprising Show of Bipartisanship

Why is it that the only time both sides of the aisle agree on anything it's this:
House lawmakers seek raise
By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

Despite low approval ratings and hard feelings from last year's elections, Democrats and Republicans in the House are reaching out for an approximately $4,400 pay raise that would increase their salaries to almost $170,000.

The cost-of-living raise endorsed Wednesday evening gets lawmakers back on track for automatic pay raises after a fight between the parties last year and again in January killed the pay increase due this year. That was the first interruption of the annual congressional pay boost in seven years.

The blowup came after Democrats last year fulfilled a campaign promise to deny themselves more pay until Congress raised the minimum wage. Delays in the minimum wage bill cost every lawmaker about $3,100 this year.

On a 244-181 vote Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans alike killed a bid by Reps. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and Lee Terry, R-Neb., to get a direct vote to block the COLA, which is automatically awarded unless lawmakers vote to block it. The Senate has not indicated when it will deal with a similar measure. more

Is it me or does the fact that our elected representatives make almost 183% more than the average American family seem more than a little wrong?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ron Paul's Website #1 of All Candidates

in a custom report created for ClickZ News, Hitwise measured traffic market share of the candidate sites. The measurement firm found traffic to Democratic candidate sites was top heavy, favoring Clinton's, Obama's and Edwards's sites. garnered nearly a third of visits among Democratic candidate sites in May. attracted almost 28 percent, and drew 23 percent of visitors to Dem campaign sites last month.

Visits to Republican candidate sites were spread a bit more evenly among the sites tracked. drew a 27 percent share of visitors to Republican candidate sites in May. attracted almost 21 percent of visits last month, while brought in almost 13 percent.

Hitwise defines market share of visits within a site category as the percentage of traffic to a particular site based on its sample of 10 million U.S. Web users. full article

Now should Mr. Paul's finances show the same gain his site has we'll be seeing candidate's scrambling to imitate his web strategy.

h/t to Donklephant

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Buffett Slams Tax System Disparities

From the WaPo

NEW YORK, June 26 -- Warren E. Buffett was his usual folksy self Tuesday night at a fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as he slammed a system that allows the very rich to pay taxes at a lower rate than the middle class.

Buffett cited himself, the third-richest person in the world, as an example. Last year, Buffett said, he was taxed at 17.7 percent on his taxable income of more than $46 million. His receptionist was taxed at about 30 percent.

Buffett said that was despite the fact that he was not trying to avoid paying higher taxes. "I don't have a tax shelter," he said. And he challenged Congress and his audience to see what the people who "clean our offices" are taxed, to loud applause.

A populist tone permeated the 70-minute talk with the billionaire investor and philanthropist in Manhattan on Tuesday night. The talk, given to about 600 Wall Street bankers and money managers, raised at least $1 million for Clinton's presidential campaign, the Associated Press reported.

The event comes as public frustration has grown over executive compensation and disparity in pay. It also comes as Congress debates changes to the tax code that would decrease take-home pay for managers of private-equity firms and hedge funds, pools of money for wealthy families and institutional investors. The rich can take advantage of tax loopholes, including one that allows those managers to pay the capital gains tax rate of 15 percent instead of the ordinary top income tax rate of 35 percent. more

The tax system is unfair?!?! Say it ain't so!

Whats sad is that he is taxed 5% lower than I am and this household makes exactly the average American wage. That really makes the flat tax of 20% sound pretty darn fair and equitable to all doesn't it?

Part of me would love to see government reduced to its absolute minimum possible size wuth the states choosing their own tax systems for what they need. But despite all of the Republican talk about making the federal govt. so small that you could drown in a bathtub they had the majority long enough to do it and didn't. Which means it isn't going to happen anytime soon.

So until then I think I'll hope for the ideal and settle with a fairer tax system than what we currently have.

Digital Reputation

Thomas Friedman did an interesting piece (Behind the pay firewall)about one of the pluses and minuses of the information age.

When everyone has a blog, a MySpace page or Facebook entry, everyone is a publisher. When everyone has a cellphone with a camera in it, everyone is a paparazzo. When everyone can upload video on YouTube, everyone is filmmaker. When everyone is a publisher, paparazzo or filmmaker, everyone else is a public figure. We’re all public figures now. The blogosphere has made the global discussion so much richer — and each of us so much more transparent.

The implications of all this are the subject of a new book by Dov Seidman, founder and C.E.O. of LRN, a business ethics company. His book is simply called “How.” Because Seidman’s simple thesis is that in this transparent world “how” you live your life and “how” you conduct your business matters more than ever, because so many people can now see into what you do and tell so many other people about it on their own without any editor. To win now, he argues, you have to turn these new conditions to your advantage.

For young people, writes Seidman, this means understanding that your reputation in life is going to get set in stone so much earlier. More and more of what you say or do or write will end up as a digital fingerprint that never gets erased. Our generation got to screw up and none of those screw-ups appeared on our first job résumés, which we got to write. For this generation, much of what they say, do or write will be preserved online forever. Before employers even read their résumés, they’ll Google them. more

I'm sort of fortunate in that I chose the handle (as it used to be called) Dyre42 sixteen years ago and then transferred it over to the internet once it became more widely available (and affordable) in that there really isn't much linked to my real name.

But my children will grow up with much of their lives being documented on the interwebs. In order to maintain some type of firewall between the real and virtual worlds they'll have to actually think ahead about what they want people to be able to find out about them online. And frankly that wasn't in the parenting manual that comes attached to the baby when its born.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CIA's Dirty Laundry Released

And now you can see exactly what happens when government runs domestic surveillance without any oversight. The full report is available for download here.

Fred Thompson defends his lobbying past

By ERIK SCHELZIG, Associated Press WriterTue Jun 26, 5:41 PM ET

Fred Thompson, a likely Republican presidential candidate, on Tuesday defended his work as a Washington lobbyist, telling The Associated Press that lobbying is an important part of life because "government's got their hands in everything."

The actor and former U.S. senator from Tennessee added, "Nobody yet has pointed out any of my clients that didn't deserve representation."

Thompson, who likes to cast himself as a political outsider, earned more than $1 million lobbying the federal government for more than 20 years. He lobbied for a savings-and-loan deregulation bill that helped hasten the industry's collapse and a failed nuclear energy project that cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars.

He also was a lobbyist for deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was widely criticized for endorsing "necklacing," the gruesome practice of execution where gasoline-soaked tires are thrown over a person's neck and set ablaze.

In September 1991, Aristide said: "The burning tire, what a beautiful tool! ... It smells good. And wherever you go, you want to smell it."

Aristide became president in Haiti's first democratic elections in 1990, but he was deposed in a military coup a few months later in 1991.

Lobbying records show that in 1991 Thompson called then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu on Aristide's behalf. Thompson was working "in connection with efforts to obtain the restoration of the democratically elected government" of Haiti, the records say. more

As if his three main jobs of politician, lawyer, and lobbyist didn't win him some sort of bottom feeding triple crown already.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Iranian forces crossed Iraqi border

From the AFP (courtesy of Memeorandum):
Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces have been spotted by British troops crossing the border into southern Iraq, The Sun tabloid reported on Tuesday.

Britain's defence ministry would not confirm or deny the report, with a spokesman declining to comment on "intelligence matters".

An unidentified intelligence source told the tabloid: "It is an extremely alarming development and raises the stakes considerably. In effect, it means we are in a full on war with Iran -- but nobody has officially declared it."

"We have hard proof that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have crossed the border to attack us. It is very hard for us to strike back. All we can do is try to defend ourselves. We are badly on the back foot."

The Sun said that radar sightings of Iranian helicopters crossing into the Iraqi desert were confirmed to it by very senior military sources. more

If true I'm betting Dick Cheney is currently foaming at the mouth.

What would be great is if the Brit's capture a few then force them to play cricket and drink tea for the press and finally return them to Iran wearing tweed coats and argyle socks.

McCain Pulling Out of Race?

From the Times Online:
McCain could pull out of race by autumn
Presidential hopeful drops campaign staff as Republican consultants predict he'll be gone by September

THE former presidential front-runner, John McCain, may drop out of the 2008 race by September if his fundraising dries up and his poll ratings continue to drop, according to Republican insiders.

The speculation, vigorously denied by McCain’s camp, is sweeping Republican circles after a disastrous few weeks in which the principled Arizona senator has clashed with the party’s conservative base on immigration and also alienated independent voters by backing President George W Bush’s troop surge in Iraq.

Randy Pullen, chairman of the Arizona Republican party, said: “He’s a battler, so I’d expect him to carry on, but everyone is waiting to see what his new fundraising totals are. That’s pretty critical. If he doesn’t have the money, he won’t be able to run.”

The second fundraising quarter for candidates closes at the end of June and McCain’s results should be known by mid-July. more

While I admit that McCain v.2007 is a pale shade of McCain v.2000. I don't see him quitting. He's been waiting in the wings too long and this is his last chance. Additionally there is the question of what his percentages look like when Fred Thompson enters the race. Since McCain is viewed as a moderate Bloomberg could prove to be a bigger threat to him than Thompson.

Although the way his finances are shaping up it probably wouldn't hurt him to take a page from Ron Paul's play book at this point.

SCOTUS Free Speech Rulings


The fourth ruling, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., over three full dissents and one partial dissent, declared that public school officials do not violate a student's free speech rights by punishing the student for words or actions that promote a drug message. The ruling in Morse v. Frederick (06-278) also should count as a 5-4 decision because Justice Stephen G. Breyer would have decided the case on qualified immunity grounds, and not reach the First Amendment issue.

The Court issued its fifth ruling of the day, concluding that a Wisconsin abortion rights group had a First Amendment right to aid during election season campaign ads that named a candidate running for the Senate. Three of the five Justices in the majority urged the Court to overturn the part of a 2003 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the federal law restricting such radio and TV ads close to elections. The Chief Justice's main opinion, joined fully by Justice Alito, said the case did not provide an occasion to revisit that ruling. Justice Souter recited at length from the bench for the four dissenters -- who were in the minority in four of the five rulings on Monday. The ruling came in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life (06-969) and a companion case.

Since the fifth ruling negated parts of the McCain-Feingold act John McCain had the following to say:

“While I respect their decision in this matter, it is regrettable that a split Supreme Court has carved out a narrow exception by which some corporate and labor expenditures can be used to target a federal candidate in the days and weeks before an election,” McCain said.

“It is important to recognize, however, that the Court’s decision does not affect the principal provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which bans federal officeholders from soliciting soft money contributions for their parties to spend on their campaigns,” he added. “I am grateful to the Bush Administration and all those lawmakers, both past and present, who have joined us in our efforts to put an end to the corruption bred by soft money. Fortunately, that central reform still stands as the law.”

I understand the logic behind the first ruling but I don't particularly care for the second. Schools should be able to punish minor students for promoting illegal activities by their students at school functions.

I don't care for the second ruling as I tend to be a purist when it comes campaign financing but given a choice between campaign financing ideals and free speech protections I'll take the free speech protections.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Open Minded Bloggers Award: My Five

I've managed to narrow it down to the following five in no particular order:

1: Justin Gardner of Donklephant for creating such an excellent forum for open minded debate.
2: Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice for the same
3: Dennis Sanders of NeoMugwump for being a Black Gay Republican who not only deals with his parties views but seeks to change them from within.
4: NeoWayland of Pagan Vigil for taking the time to explain his Pagan/Libertarian views so patiently.
5: Sean Aqui at Midtopia for never letting the partisan commenters get his goat.

The award’s creator has asked that each winner pass the award along to five new winners. Again from the award’s homepage:

  1. Feel free to put the Award badge on your website side menu or wherever works best
  2. Link to this page so that people can easily find the origin of the Award
  3. Write a post on your blog linking to five blogs that you believe blog with an open mind

Political Quiz Results

Found a link to this "political quiz" via TMV's Center of Attention. Too many either/or questions to be wholly accurate but what they hey...

Your Political Profile:

Overall: 45% Conservative, 55% Liberal

Social Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Rice: Sudan must stop trying to limit Darfur force

By Arshad Mohammed
Sunday, June 24, 2007; 8:30 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - Sudan must stop trying to "scale back" a hybrid international force for Darfur, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said as she flew to Paris for talks on the humanitarian crisis in the western Sudanese region.

The aim of the force is to stop the violence in Darfur, where international experts estimate 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been expelled from their homes in more than four years of strife. Sudan says 9,000 people have died.

Sudan on June 12 agreed to a combined United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force of more than 20,000 troops and police but many diplomats doubt Khartoum will keep its word. more

To stay up to date on the crisis in Darfur please visit The Blog Coalition for Darfur

Iran Cracks Down on Dissent

Published: June 24, 2007

Iran is in the throes of one of its most ferocious crackdowns on dissent in years, with the government focusing on labor leaders, universities, the press, women’s rights advocates, a former nuclear negotiator and Iranian-Americans, three of whom have been in prison for more than six weeks.

The shift is occurring against the backdrop of an economy so stressed that although Iran is the world’s second-largest oil exporter, it is on the verge of rationing gasoline. At the same time, the nuclear standoff with the West threatens to bring new sanctions.

The hard-line administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, analysts say, faces rising pressure for failing to deliver on promises of greater prosperity from soaring oil revenue. It has been using American support for a change in government as well as a possible military attack as a pretext to hound his opposition and its sympathizers. more

The regime in Iran has even begun publicly beating and humiliating its citizens for wearing western style clothes and posting photos of the crackdown on the countries web site. Check out the photos over at Ali Eteraz

Gordon Brown named Prime Minister

From the BBC:

Tony Blair has handed the leadership of the Labour Party to Gordon Brown at a special conference in Manchester.

He personally thanked Tony Blair who he said had "made Britain stronger, more tolerant, prosperous and it has made Britain fairer".

He also praised John Prescott and former leader Neil Kinnock for leading the party "out of the wilderness".

He described Britain as a "country of rising aspiration," saying voters had told him they wanted a "higher class" of public services "tailored to individual needs".

But he told activists: "The party I lead must have more than a set of policies, we must have a soul."

Victory speech

He pledged not to return Labour to the past - and said he wanted make education and tackling the housing crisis his top priority.

Justice minister Harriet Harman beat favourite Alan Johnson to win the contest by the narrowest of margins.

In recent interviews Mr Brown insisted he would press on with efforts to create a Cabinet "of all the talents" - despite apparent snubs from two non-Labour recruits.

He also said he had learned his lesson about "top-down" government and has pledged to involve ordinary people in his decisions.

He told BBC News the public needed to be fully involved if big challenges like climate change were to be tackled. more

The immediate question (and one for which I have no answer.) is what changes will be made to the UK's Iraq policy. Since Iraq effectively sunk Mr. Blair's ratings I doubt Mr. Gordon will allow the same to happen to him.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ron Paul Excluded in Iowa

From Transworld News:

Monroe, Ga. 6/22/2007 7:46 PM GMT

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has been blocked from an upcoming political forum sponsored by Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance because he is not a “credible’ Republican candidate. At least that’s what Ed Failor Jr., vice president of ITR commented when asked why Paul was left off the June 30 event.

Failor told the Des Moines Register “We invited credible Democratic and credible Republican candidates,” he went on to say “we had to draw the line somewhere.”

While Ron Paul doesn’t have a campaign office in Iowa the decision to leave him out of the event was called “weak” by Paul’s campaign chairman Kent Snyder. article

Considering that depending on what pundit one listens to no GOP candidate has a chance of winning therefore Ron Paul is just as inviable as any other candidate. Besides that is no way to treat an internet superstar.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fred Thompson Ready to Run?

WSMV-TV: Thompson Announcement Set For Nashville
Fred Thompson is set to announce that Nashville will be the home of his national campaign headquarters, WSMV is reporting.

A source close to the campaign planning tells WSMV that that Thompson planned to announce his candidacy on the steps of the historic Fall School Building Tuesday, but Thompson campaign officials deny that Tuesday's announcement is an official run for the White House.The source tells WSMV report says that the Thompson campaign has obtained the lease for that building to turn it into a national campaign office."Everything's in place for tuesday," the source told WSMV. "There are three major events built around his announcement." But Bob Davis, the Tennessee Republican Party Chairman, and Thompson's former Chief of Staff says "There will not be an annoucement Tuesday." more

This is the most concrete speculation to date folks. Frankly I'm hoping he won't run. I don't like him and I have no good reason why. What I do know is that anytime I've ever gone against that initial reaction and given the person any amount of trust I've come to regret it. I had the same reaction to W and he proved to be a far worse president than I could have ever imagined.

One thing is for certain, whoever I end up voting for in 08 it won't be Fred.

'Sicko' leaves top Democrats ill at ease

WASHINGTON — With the release of Michael Moore's "Sicko," a movie once again is adding sizzle to an issue that's a high priority for liberal politicians — this time comprehensive health insurance for all. But unlike Al Gore's film on global warming, which helped rally support on an equally controversial problem, "Sicko" is creating an awkward situation for the leading Democratic presidential candidates.

Rejecting Moore's prescription on healthcare could alienate liberal activists, who will play a big role in choosing the party's next standard-bearer. However, his proposal — wiping out private health insurance and replacing it with a massive federal program — could be political poison with the larger electorate.

At a special screening in Washington this week, politicians, lobbyists, media pooh-bahs and policy junkies flocked to see Moore's film. And its slashing demand for action on an issue that voters care deeply about, and Democrats hope to capitalize on, generated plenty of buzz. Moore hopes that, after its general release June 29, "Sicko" will exert significant influence on the presidential campaign.

Instead of greeting the film with hosannas or challenging it head-on, however, the leading Democratic presidential candidates have sidestepped direct comment on Moore's proposals. moore

I know many people dislike Michael Moore but I think that's because people take him too seriously. As soon as he started using creative editing techniques in his interviews he ceased making documentaries and started creating either propaganda or entertainment depending on your point of view. I will give him credit for one thing though, he does a good job of stirring up debate about the topics he covers and that is not without value.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My First Award

I am the proud recipient of The Open Minded Blogger's Award
which was awarded to me by The Maiden over at Hell's Handmaiden.

"This award is given to Blogs that demonstrate respect towards others, research and consideration of oppossing views, free-flowing conversation with commenters, and an overall spirit of civility and openess. It is time we recognize such commendable behavior on the internet."

I'd like to thank him for the honor.

I'll have to post my five later as figuring out exactly who to put into slot no. 5 is proving troublesome.

Unity08 and Bloomberg: Perfect marriage?

From The Politico:

Few in the political world are more keenly interested in the ramifications of "Mike's Big Move" -- as New York's Daily News proclaimed Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to sever his ties with the Republican Party -- than former Carter White House official Gerald Rafshoon.

He and his partner, Hotline founder Doug Bailey, are the proud parents of Unity08, a group conceived to offer an alternative to next year's Democratic and GOP nominees by building a "coalition from the middle" through an online convention.

And Rafshoon told Politico that Unity08 has been holding secret conversations with three candidates interested in running for Unity08's nomination.


The party's platform has been focused on offering solutions to globalization, campaign finance reform, the national debt, energy independence and terrorism.

Bloomberg touched on some of those issues Wednesday when he told reporters at a New York news conference that "the big issues keep being pushed to the back. ... I'm going to speak out on those issues. By not being affiliated with a party, I think I will have a better opportunity to do that."

Ever coy, Bloomberg said he has the "greatest job in the world," but he also said of the race for the White House: "The more people that run for office, the better." full article

In my opinion they'd make a interesting combination. Particularly should there end up being a Bloomberg/Obama ticket turned out by Unity 08's online primary as each has what the other lacks in regards to experience and charisma. Plus Bloomberg also might get the Reform parties nomination (Remember them?) should he decide to run. It'd end up being the smartest thing they've done since not nominating Pat Buchanan for President in 2000.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dept. of Homeland Security Hacked 800 Times

DHS acknowledges own computer break-ins

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer

The Homeland Security Department, the lead U.S. agency for fighting cyber threats, suffered more than 800 hacker break-ins, virus outbreaks and other computer security problems over two years, senior officials acknowledged to Congress.

In one instance, hacker tools for stealing passwords and other files were found on two internal Homeland Security computer systems. The agency's headquarters sought forensic help from the department's own Security Operations Center and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team it operates with Carnegie Mellon University.

In other cases, computer workstations in the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration were infected with malicious software detected trying to communicate with outsiders; laptops were discovered missing; and agency Web sites suffered break-ins.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said such problems undermine the government's efforts to encourage companies and private organizations to improve cyber security.

"What the department is doing on its own networks speaks so loudly that the message is not getting across," Thompson said.

Congressional investigators, expected to testify Wednesday during an oversight hearing about the department's security lapses, determined that persistent weaknesses "threaten the confidentiality, integrity and availability of key DHS information and information systems," according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office being released later in June.

The Homeland Security Department's chief information officer, Scott Charbo, assured lawmakers his organization was working to prevent such problems. more

Boy, doesn't that just make you feel safe? DHS is now on its fourth cybersecurity chief in six. years. That seems like a high turnover rate for such an important job. But maybe that's because they still aren't taking the threat seriously enough.

Former cybersecurity chief Richard Clarke once stated in an interview:

"We, as a country, have put all of our eggs in one basket. The reason that we're successfully dominating the world economically and militarily is because of systems that we have designed, and rely upon, which are cyber-based. It's our Achilles heel. It's an overused phrase, but it's absolutely true.

It could be that, in the future, people will look back on the American empire, the economic empire and the military empire, and say, "They didn't realize that they were building their whole empire on a fragile base. They had changed that base from brick and mortar to bits and bytes, and they never fortified it. Therefore, some enemy some day was able to come around and knock the whole empire over." That's the fear."

Take some time to read the full interview here.

Obama finding new allies: Republicans

Many cite war in Iraq, spirit of political unity as issues

June 19, 2007
There is an interesting phenomenon that has arisen over the last few months: a trend of moderate Republicans who want to vote for Barack Obama. It may seem counterintuitive, conservatives supporting a candidate who wants to tax the wealthy and embrace the conventions in the Kyoto Accord, but there is something in Obama's message about ridding politics of partisanship that is appealing to these Republicans.

He doesn't carry the baggage of a Hillary Clinton. He is new; he seems authentic -- although his connection to indicted fund-raiser Tony Rezko has made some previous supporters wonder -- and he has more gravitas than pretty boy John Edwards. The Republicans who like him may have supported John McCain in the past, but after eight years of the Bush White House they feel they can no longer support the Republican field. The idea of a congressional glasnost -- a harmonic nonpartisanship in Washington -- is an Obama goal they endorse. more

On the heels of the previous post this just goes to show how badly the GOP is hemorrhaging moderates.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bloomberg Leaves GOP

From the NY Times Blog:

Michael R. Bloomberg, a longtime Democrat who switched to the Republican Party to run for mayor of New York City in 2001, announced this evening that he is changing his party status and registering as an independent. His office released this statement at 6:05 p.m. (EST):

I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party. Although my plans for the future haven’t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city.

A nonpartisan approach has worked wonders in New York: we’ve balanced budgets, grown our economy, improved public health, reformed the school system and made the nation’s safest city even safer.

We have achieved real progress by overcoming the partisanship that too often puts narrow interests above the common good. As a political independent, I will continue to work with those in all political parties to find common ground, to put partisanship aside and to achieve real solutions to the challenges we face....

Although the mayor has insisted again and again that he has no plans to run for president, several of his top aides — especially his chief political adviser, Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey — have made no secret of their desire to see him enter the 2008 race. full article

That would be the first step in Bloomberg preparing to run as an independent. I would love to see him run if only so he could shake up the two major political parties. Many pundits agree that 2008 is prime pickings for an independent. Bloomberg's ability to self finance and therefore not be beholden to any special interests along with his record of bipartisanship makes him one of the more intriguing potential candidates.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Suicide Bomb Teams Sent to the US?

From ABC News:

Large teams of newly trained suicide bombers are being sent to the United States and Europe, according to evidence contained on a new videotape obtained by the Blotter on

Teams assigned to carry out attacks in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany were introduced at an al Qaeda/Taliban training camp graduation ceremony held June 9.

A Pakistani journalist was invited to attend and take pictures as some 300 recruits, including boys as young as 12, were supposedly sent off on their suicide missions.

U.S. intelligence officials described the event as another example of "an aggressive and sophisticated propaganda campaign."

Others take it very seriously.

"It doesn't take too many who are willing to actually do it and be able to slip through the net and get into the United States or England and cause a lot of damage," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism official. full article

If true, at least we have advanced warning which seems odd. That leads credence to the propaganda argument. If true it'll be a test of the security measures that have been put into place since 9/11.

Sudan 'backs UN-led Darfur force'

From the BBC:
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has agreed unconditionally to a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur, diplomats have said.

South Africa's ambassador at the UN, Dumisani Kumalo, said Mr Bashir backed the move after a meeting with Security Council envoys in Khartoum.

Sudan agreed to allow the 19,000-strong force earlier in the week but ultimate control has been a sticking-point.

Violence in Darfur has killed more than 200,000 people and made 2.5m refugees.

An existing AU force of 7,000 troops has struggled to contain the conflict.

Much of the violence has been linked to clashes between government-sponsored Janjaweed militias and Darfur's rebel groups. more

I'm not at all inclined to believe he'll keep his word given the history. So pardon me for not rejoicing. Hopefully this time will be different but I doubt it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Liberal Hawks and the Iran Debate

Ezra Klein over at The American Prospect recently wrote an article called "Let's Get Serious:
What do liberal hawks actually want to do regarding Iran?" that has stirred an interesting cross blog debate amongst moderates. Allow me to sort of abridge part of the debate in a Frankenpost before chiming in.

Mr Klein criticizes liberal hawks for being intentionally vague regarding how to deal with Iran
"in their desire to avoid responsibility for their pro-war stance on Iraq and their enabling rhetoric towards a potential showdown with Iran." as Tutakai at Militant Moderates put it.

According to fellow Donklephant blogger Kevin Sullivan "Ironically, Klein seems to confront hawkish vagueness with vagueness. He insinuates that there's a cottage industry of "liberal hawk" scholars supporting the invasions of Iraq and Iran, however he only cites one example of such. If the "liberal hawk" has become such a common phenomenon, where are their think-tanks and periodicals? If they are in such lockstep over this issue, why only the one example? The truth is that the "liberal hawk" is more a theory than a person, and more accurately a tactic rather than a wing of the Democratic Party. "

and over at TMV MVDG contends: "As a more conservative blogger (hawk), I have to say that I agree with Kevin’s reasoning. The problem with the doves is that they oppose using military force, because it is military force. For us hawks, military force is a tool - a tool you will only use when all other tools fail on you, but a tool nonetheless.

I find it incredibly strange that there are people who want the US government, or individual candidates, to rule out (supporting) the use of force. If one rules it out completely, one can forget about getting one’s enemy to do what one wants / to compromise. Iran has to know that, if necessary, force will be used to prevent it from developing WMDs. If not, there will be less pressure on the Mullahs to stop ignoring the wishes of the international community."

I contend that "liberal hawks" are vague about military options in Iran because there is no preferable military solution. Should diplomacy and international pressures fail the military options left to us will only be a choice of evils. We can :
  1. Bomb Iran's hardened nuclear sites.
  2. Invade Iran
  3. Let Israel fight a proxy war with Iran
  4. Invade North Korea to show Iran how serious we are
Option one may only have limited success and will cause Iran to step up their research efforts resulting in a nuclear bomb in 5 years instead of 9. Additionally Israel will most likely be targeted in retaliation thereby potentially bringing option three into play as a side effect. If not then suddenly Iraq and Afghanistan become indirect wars with Iran potentially leading to a direct war with Iran.

Option two is worse. Provided we are finished in Iraq and Afghanistan (one way or the other) the goal would be achievable but at a hideous toll in Iranian lives. If you'll check out the history of the Iran/Iraq war you'll note that Iran used four million unarmed citizens (volunteers) as cannon fodder. Iraq's soldiers ran out of bullets before they ever engaged an armed soldier.

Additionally since we would have again preemptively invaded a country that didn't (directly) attack us and probably killed hundreds of thousands of unarmed citizens in the process our standing in the world drops to nothing. Additionally because we have invaded three Muslim countries in a row we radicalize even more people either the war on terror gets much harder, we fight a foreign insurgency in Iran, or both.

As for option three Israel fights Hammas, Hezbollah, and Iran at the same time and America enters if it appears Israel can't pull it off or should the war goes regional.

We have time right now and we absolutely must use it to exhaust every single diplomatic and international option before moving on to a military solution.

We can't take the use of force off of the table unless it is conditional based on Iran's actions (allowing UN Inspectors access to all sites etc etc etc). It would be folly to hamstring ourselves in such manner as much as it would be foolhardy to militarily escalate the situation before exhausting all other available options.

May common sense prevail.

Unity08 CEO Robert Bingham on KPBS TV

If you're tired of partisanship, corruption, and the same old same old in politics drop by Unity08's web site and see what is stirring the political waters.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ron Paul - Internet Super Star

From the Wa Po:

An Also-Ran in the GOP Polls, Ron Paul Is Huge on the Web

On Technorati, which offers a real-time glimpse of the blogosphere, the most frequently searched term this week was "YouTube."

Then comes "Ron Paul."

The presence of the obscure Republican congressman from Texas on a list that includes terms such as "Sopranos," "Paris Hilton" and "iPhone" is a sign of the online buzz building around the long-shot Republican presidential hopeful -- even as mainstream political pundits have written him off.

Rep. Ron Paul is more popular on Facebook than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He's got more friends on MySpace than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. His MeetUp groups, with 11,924 members in 279 cities, are the biggest in the Republican field. And his official YouTube videos, including clips of his three debate appearances, have been viewed nearly 1.1 million times -- more than those of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, except Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

No one's more surprised at this robust Web presence than Paul himself, a self-described "old-school," "pen-and-paper guy" who's serving his 10th congressional term and was the Libertarian Party's nominee for president in 1988.

"To tell you the truth, I hadn't heard about this YouTube and all the other Internet sites until supporters started gathering in them," confessed Paul, 71, who said that he's raised about $100,000 after each of the three debates. Not bad considering that his campaign had less than $10,000 when his exploratory committee was formed in mid-February. "I tell you I've never raised money as efficiently as that, in all my years in Congress, and all I'm doing is speaking my mind." more

Its a decent article and worth a read. Ron Paul seems to have hijacked John McCain's Straight Talk Express and I can see where in a world in which politicians speak often but say very little his candor has appeal. But what Ron Paul really has going for him is that he's the only GOP candidate thats against the war and for many moderates that counts for a lot. Lets see if his net popularity can translate into real world votes.

Administration Targets Shield For Bloggers

The Bush administration on Thursday blasted a congressional proposal that would shield a broad swath of news gatherers, including some bloggers, from revealing their confidential sources.

WASHINGTON--The Bush administration on Thursday blasted a congressional proposal that would shield a broad swath of news gatherers, including some bloggers, from revealing their confidential sources.

The latest draft of the Free Flow of Information Act would pose a grave threat to national security and federal criminal investigations by protecting far too large a segment of the population, a U.S. Department of Justice official told Congress.

The definition is just so broad that it really includes anyone who wants to post something to the Web," Rachel Brand, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing here. She also argued it would protect "a terrorist operative who videotaped a message from a terrorist leader threatening attacks on Americans."

Justice Department opposition has bedeviled Congress throughout its numerous attempts in recent years to enact federal shield laws. Supporters say such legislation is needed in light of high-profile cases involving New York Times reporter Judith Miller and what free-press advocacy groups characterize as a sharp rise in subpoenas to reporters in recent years.

Laws recognizing some form of "reporter's privilege" already exist in 49 states and the District of Columbia--but, crucially, do not shield journalists from federal prosecutors. The Bush Administration claims there's no evidence that source-related subpoenas to reporters are on the rise and argues that it already has robust internal guidelines, including a requirement that the attorney general personally approve such subpoenas and provide an appropriate balance between press freedom and investigative needs. more

I think this further highlights a truly disturbing trend from this administration. This has been the most secretive administration in decades and one of the few that has sought to punish those that report leaks legally. If the press (and bloggers) have to fear being prosecuted for telling the truth then what real reporting would get done? The free flow of information is central to the strength of our democracy.

Additionally this behavior sows more seeds of distrust causing citizens to become increasingly wary of this administration's attempts to further increase its surveillance powers. Such behavior actually hinders needed attempts to change current surveillance laws to help combat terrorism.

Furthermore as the press moves more towards infotainment bloggers are increasingly becoming a source for news not covered by the press and thus deserve some protection under the law.

Our founding fathers valued free speech enough to make certain that it was among the first rights to be protected and America has rarely been ill served by erring on the side of its own liberties.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Libby's Liberty Lost

or Scooter Screwed or Sucks to be Scooter
Judge Won't Delay Libby's Prison Term for Appeal

By Amy Goldstein and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 14, 2007; 2:32 PM

A federal judge today ordered I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to report to prison within weeks to begin serving a 30-month sentence for lying to federal investigators about his role in disclosing a covert CIA officer's identity to the media.

In ruling that Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff must begin his prison term, probably within six to eight weeks, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton rejected defense attorneys' request to allow Libby to remain free on bond while his attorneys appeal his conviction for perjury and obstructing justice.

At the conclusion of a two-hour hearing today, Walton, who presided over Libby's trial, said he disagreed with defense attorneys' contention that Libby's trial had generated a series of close legal questions and judicial rulings that might be reversed by higher courts.

Libby's lawyers said they plan to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to issue an emergency order delaying the sentence.

When he imposed sentence last week, Walton told Libby that the evidence of his guilt had been "overwhelming" and warned that Libby was unlikely to win a reversal of his conviction in appellate courts.

For that reason, Walton said, he was not inclined to release Libby on bond during his appeal, a process that could last until the end of President Bush's term in office in 2008. The judge agreed, however, to defer his decision until today. more

One problem with being in a high profile case is that there's always a good chance the judge might make decide to make an example of you. I'm betting that the emergency appeal is shot down and Scooter is left hanging in the breeze praying for a pardon (which he'll get).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Robot Rights Activist" Arrested

Charles Klein was recently charged with Disorderly Conduct with intent to “alarm or annoy” due to his holding an Equal Rights for Robots sign at an on campus anti-abortion protest.

I would like to thank the forward thinking police officer that apprehended him for looking past the obvious and recognizing the real threat that day.

Check out this horrifying example of what happens when robots attack.

The robot rights movement must be crushed while its still in it's infancy if humanity is to survive.

And now a word from our sponsor:

County May Kill Emergency Broadcasts Due to Partisan Content

Here is the dumb part:

By Scott Wyman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

June 13, 2007, 1:19 PM EDT

Rush Limbaugh has long been a thorn in the side of liberals, but now, because of him, some Democratic politicians don't even want to join with a local radio station to broadcast hurricane information.

Radio station WIOD, AM 610, has been the official channel for emergency information from Broward County government for the past year. The County Commission, all Democrats, balked at renewing the deal Tuesday, unable to stomach the station also being home to Limbaugh's talk show.

and here is the funny part:

Limbaugh responded to the commissioners Wednesday on his radio show. He said the county's qualms about WIOD are a sign of out-of-control partisanship in the nation.

Thank you so much Mr.Obvious. You forgot to add "which I helped create" to that last sentence.

Risqué YouTube Song Takes Obama Campaign by Surprise

From ABC News:

June 13, 2007 —

An amusing, risqué music video, featuring a nubile young woman breathlessly singing her love for presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., appeared on the Web this week. Titled "I Got a Crush on Obama," the song and video took the Obama campaign by surprise and further demonstrated how the democratic nature of the Internet  specifically Internet video on sites such as YouTube is affecting politics in unpredictable ways.

"Hey, 'B,' it's me," a woman who calls herself "Obama girl" murmurs amorously into a phone at the beginning of the slow jam. "If you're there, pick up. I was just watching you on C-SPAN."

The song and video goes on to poke racy fun at the way some voters have responded viscerally to both Obama's charisma and the personal nature of his political appeal. more

You'll note the absence of the "My name is Barack Obama and I approve of this message." at the end of this one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Giant Mutant Insect Attacks House

This is the biggest stick bug I have ever seen.
Click image to view full size
Subject was last seen flying south carrying a German Shepherd and my chimney.

Immigration Bill Divides GOP

How about a binding resolution to actually enforce current laws and then bicker about new laws?

Monday, June 11, 2007

The ReDistricting Game

The Redistricting Game takes place in imaginary states named Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton, but its developers are hoping it will draw enough interest and support to warrant making a version that uses real-world maps and census data.

In the last mission of the game, players determine the state of Jefferson's districts without taking political affiliations into account. That level simulates what redistricting would be like if a bill championed by real-world Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) became law. full article

I will say that the game is very well made and does an good job of showing how gerrymandering works and also how it hurts the democratic process. You can try it for yourself here.

Powell Says Close Gitmo

Powell Calls for Closure of Military Prison at Guantanamo

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 11, 2007; A03

Former secretary of state Colin L. Powell said yesterday that he would close down the U.S. military prison for enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "this afternoon" because it has become a major problem in "the way the world perceives America."

"Essentially, we have shaken the belief that the world had in America's justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open and creating things like a military commission," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Making it clear that he "would not let any of those people go," Powell said, "I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our more federal legal system." He said he sees no problem in detainees having the right of habeas corpus and getting their own lawyers. "Isn't that what our system is all about?"

Powell was the only member of President Bush's first-term "war cabinet" who argued against the detainee policies. Those policies said the United States was not obligated to abide by the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of enemy combatants. more

I never take Powell's opinion lightly. He's what one might call a concerned realist. By that I mean he doesn't filter facts through a partisan sieve when making decisions. His opinion (and mine) is that Gitmo harms America's image and moral authority and that does more harm than any "good" Gitmo does us. See for yourself.

Joe Lieberman Says Bomb Iran Into Behaving

(CBS) The United States should launch military strikes against Iran if the government in Tehran does not stop supplying anti-American forces in Iraq, Sen. Joe Lieberman said Sunday on Face The Nation.

"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," Lieberman told Bob Schieffer. "And to me, that would include a strike into... over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."

The Indepedent former Democrat from Connecticut said that he was not calling for an invasion of Iran, but he did say the U.S. should target specific training camps.

"I think you could probably do a lot of it from the air, but they can't believe that they have immunity for training and equipping people to come in and kill Americans," Lieberman said.

Lieberman, who has been one of Congress's most outspoken supporters of the Bush administration's Iraq war policies, said that continuing the fight in Iraq and confronting Iran are necessary for achieving a wider peace in the Middle East.

If the U.S. does not act against Iran, "they'll take that as a sign of weakness on our part and we will pay for it in Iraq and throughout the region and ultimately right here at home," Lieberman said.

He said that he has seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying insurgents and foreign fighters in Iraq.

"By some estimates, they have killed as many as 200 American soldiers," he said.

The Senator said he was not calling for an end to the limited diplomatic efforts that are underway between Washington and Tehran.

"We can tell them we want them to stop that, but if there's any hope of the Iranians living according to the international rule of law and stopping, for instance, their nuclear weapons development, we can't just talk to them," Lieberman said. "If they don't play by the rules, we've got to use our force, and to me that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they're doing." more

Ummm Joe? Have you lost your marbles? Iran is expecting us to bomb it any day now. Were I insane and ruling Iran I'd make life a living hell for the US in the two neighboring countries we've invaded and make no pretense about hiding what I'm doing. Why? Because no American politician running for office would have the balls to start a draft to stop me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Senate Gets Habeas Corpus Restoration Ball Rolling

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee passed an important bill to restore habeas corpus, the sacrosanct Constitutional right to challenge government detention in court, by a vote of eleven to eight.

Habeas corpus was revoked by last year's Military Commissions Act, which has been assailed as unconstitutional and un-American by leaders across the political spectrum. Today's habeas bill was backed by the Judiciary Committee's Democratic Chairman, Patrick Leahy, and its Republican Ranking Member, Arlen Specter. "The drive to restore this fundamental right has come from both sides of the aisle," said Sharon Bradford, an attorney at the bipartisan Constitution Project, in response to today's vote. "Restoring America's commitment to the rule of law is not a partisan cause; it is a patriotic one," she added.

Today's vote means the habeas bill can now be brought to the Senate floor at any time. One source with knowledge of the legislative plan said Majority Leader Harry Reid has committed to bringing the bill to a vote within the month. more

Now if the Dems can get this done they'll have accomplished something important. Should it get bogged down in the Armed Services Committee we may not see any action on it without some serious hardball being played by the Dems . Then all they have to do is avoid a veto. I wish them luck.

Lawmakers Want Body Armor Retested

This is based on NBC's report that Dragonskin body armor consistently outperforms current body armor.

I first heard of the armor on the show Future Weapons where Dragonskin was shown to stop NATO 7.62 armour piercing rounds and also protected covered areas when placed directly on top of a M-67 grenade. You can view some of those tests here.

There is of course the question as to whether or not the original testing lab or the interceptor body armor manufacturer is politically connected to someone. A second official test would lay that question to rest.

Bush Nominates Chiurgeon General

From ABC News:
Bush's Choice for Top Doc Compared Human Genitalia to Pipe Fittings and Said Homosexual Practices Can Cause Injury or Death

President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., wrote a paper in 1991 that purported to make the medical argument that homosexuality is unnatural and unhealthy. Doctors who reviewed the paper derided it as prioritizing political ideology over science, and Democratic aides on Capitol Hill say the paper will make his confirmation hearings problematic.

Holsinger, 68, presented "The Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality" in January 1991 to a United Methodist Church's committee to study homosexuality. (Read the paper here.) The church was then considering changing its view that homosexuality violates Christian teaching, though it ultimately did not do so. Relying on footnotes from mainstream medical publications, Holsinger argued that homosexuality isn't natural or healthy.

Noting that Holsinger also belongs to a church that offers a ministry to "cure" gays of the sexual orientation, gay and lesbian rights advocates immediately protested Holsinger's nomination. "His writings suggest a scientific view rooted in anti-gay beliefs that are incompatible with the job of serving the medical health of all Americans," said the Human Rights Campaign in a statement. "It is essential that America's top doctor value sound science over anti-gay ideology."


The cardiologist details many different diseases gay men can catch, and several sexual practices they may engage in, including "anal eroticism," which can lead to injuries and even death. "From the perspective of pathology and pathophysiology, the varied sexual practices of homosexual men have resulted in a diverse and expanded concept of sexually transmitted disease and associated trauma." full article

On a positive note Dr. Holsinger's paper did note that most STDs can be cured through the proper application of leeches and hinted that high blood pressure can be cured by removing the excess blood from the circulatory system.

W didn't even try on this candidate. He could of at least nominated someone capable of presenting their opinion as fact by backing it up with faulty data and biased research studies.
Not to mention the fact that he had to have known this guy wouldn't get confirmed with the Democrats in the majority.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Iran Caught Red-Handed Shipping Arms to Taliban

NATO officials say they have caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces, in what the officials say is a dramatic escalation of Iran's proxy war against the United States and Great Britain.

"It is inconceivable that it is anyone other than the Iranian government that's doing it," said former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stopped short earlier this week of blaming Iran, saying the U.S. did not have evidence "of the involvement of the Iranian government in support of the Taliban."

But an analysis by a senior coalition official, obtained by the Blotter on, concludes there is clear evidence of Iran's involvement.

"This is part of a considered policy," says the analysis, "rather than the result of low-level corruption and weapons smuggling." more

Well that is confirmation of what we already suspected. The question is is this a strategy intended to tie up our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and to prevent the preemptive invasion that Iran suspects is in the works or a tactic to show what trouble they can be if we continue to oppose their nuclear program?

Turkish officials say troops enter Iraq

Hundreds of Turkish soldiers crossed into northern Iraq on Wednesday pursuing Kurdish guerrillas who stage attacks on Turkey from hideouts there, Turkish security officials and an Iraqi Kurd official said.

The reports came amid worries Turkey might launch an offensive against the rebel bases, touching off a conflict with U.S.-backed Iraqi Kurds in one of Iraq's most stable regions. The U.S. is urging its NATO ally not to strike, and Turkey's foreign minister denied any incursion occurred.

An American intelligence official in Washington, who agreed to discuss the tense situation along the frontier only if not quoted by name, said the reports of a border crossing should be treated with skepticism.

The official said some Turkish officials might be feeling pressure to show increasingly angry Turks that the government is responding to a recent escalation of attacks by PKK rebels, who are fighting for autonomy in Turkey's heavily Kurdish southeast. On Monday, for instance, Kurdish rebels assaulted a Turkish outpost and killed seven soldiers.

Three Turkish security officials said troops crossed the border Wednesday. But they described the operation as just a "hot pursuit" raid that was limited in scope, and one said the soldiers left Iraqi territory by the end of the day. more

Thats one pot we need to put the lid on ASAP. We've enough troubles in Iraq without separatists trying to recreate Kurdistan out of Northern Iraq and Southern Turkey.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

House urges China to press Sudan over Darfur

Tuesday, June 5, 2007; 8:56 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives urged China on Tuesday to use its influence and economic leverage to stop what President George W. Bush has called the genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.

The lawmakers charged that China, which buys much of Sudan's oil, has stood in the way of halting bloodshed in the western Sudanese region, but stopped short of joining calls to boycott the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing made by some politicians, activists and celebrities.

"China should act consistently with the Olympic standard of preserving human dignity in Darfur, Sudan and around the world," said the resolution passed by the House on a vote of 410-0.

The resolution urged China to stop selling Sudan arms and suspend economic cooperation with Sudan until Sudan "stops its attacks on civilians" in Darfur and engages in negotiations with Darfur rebels to achieve a peace deal. more

To stay up to date on the crisis in Darfur please visit Sudan Watch

Libby Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison, Fined $250K

By Amy Goldstein and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 5, 2007; 3:30 PM

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000 for lying to investigators about his role in leaking the identity of an undercover CIA officer.

The federal judge who presided over the case indicated that he may not be sympathetic to allowing Libby to remain free pending appeal, but scheduled a hearing on the matter for next week.

"Evidence in this case overwhelmingly indicated Mr. Libby's culpability," U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said moments before he handed out the sentence. The judge said he was sentencing Libby "with a sense of sadness. I have the highest respect for people who take positions in our government and appreciate tremendously efforts they bring to bear to protect this country."

At the same time, Walton said, "I also think it is important we expect and demand a lot from people who put themselves in those positions. Mr. Libby failed to meet the bar. For whatever reason, he got off course."

Just before Walton pronounced the sentence, Libby briefly appealed to the judge. After thanking Walton for the court's courtesy and kindness during the lengthy proceedings, Libby said: "It is respectfully my hope that the court will consider along with the jury verdict my whole life. Thank you your honor."

As the judge announced the sentence, Libby stood between his two lead attorneys, utterly impassive.

The judge sentenced Libby three months after a federal jury found Cheney's one-time top aide guilty of four felonies for failing to tell the truth to a federal grand jury and the FBI about the disclosure of former CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. Libby was convicted of two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements to FBI agents, and one count of obstructing justice. He was acquitted of a fifth count. more

Let the pardon countdown begin!

Anyone know if an online betting pool is legal?

In all seriousness the judge will decide next week if Mr. Libby can stay out on bail until his appeal is heard. So it is possible that if his attorneys stall enough and W pardons him he'll never see the inside of a cell.

Partisan Accusations

File this one under Moutains out of Molehills
Calling Himself ‘The Whitest Man In America,’ Fox’s Gibson Defends ‘Ooga Booga Fever’

Last week, during a discussion of the “TB Man story,” Fox News anchor John Gibson declared that tuberculosis usually affects someone “from the third world” or who contracted “ooga booga fever” in “some godforsaken hellhole.”

Noting the criticism of his remarks from Media Matters and ThinkProgress, Gibson responded on the June 1 edition of his radio show.

Calling himself “the whitest man in America, who is the black man’s best friend,” Gibson said his comments were not racist because he had just “invented” the term. “Now, I could have called it Machu Picchu fever or Latino jungle fever or something. I’ve gotten sick in those places too.” (Gibson noted, however, that he wouldn’t have called it “Potomac fever,” after Washington, DC.)

Later, Gibson contradicted himself, claiming he learned the phrase from reading Joseph Wilson’s book, which references Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. “So I, in making up ooga booga fever, I actually mispronounced the name of Burkina Faso. I should have said Ouagadougou fever.” more

Whitest man in America? That title was available? Well crap. Barry Manilow will be crushed.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Jury Indicts Rep. Jefferson in Bribery Probe

By Jerry Markon and Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 4, 2007; 2:40 PM

Rep. William J. Jefferson was indicted today in a longstanding FBI corruption probe centering on allegations that he took bribes to promote high-tech business ventures in Africa.

The Louisiana Democrat faces charges that include racketeering, money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy to solicit bribes by a public official. The 16-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Alexandria.

Federal officials have scheduled a 3:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the 94-page indictment, which could land Jefferson in prison for life if he is convicted on all counts. The charges cap a long and tumultuous investigation that was stalled for months because of a legal battle over the constitutionality of an FBI raid on Jefferson's office last May. The raid came after the FBI found $90,000 in the freezer of his Capitol Hill home.

A political and legal maelstrom followed the raid, prompting President Bush to intervene and seal the seized documents for 45 days. In July, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, who had signed the search warrant, ruled that the raid was constitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the matter.

Jefferson, 60, is a potential political embarrassment for Democrats, just months after they took over control of Congress. Democrats had campaigned last year on the theme that Republicans had created a culture of corruption. In July, the House officially expelled Jefferson from the prestigious Ways and Means Committee.

At the time, then House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the allegations against Jefferson were too egregious to wait for a legal resolution.

"This isn't about proof in the court or law; this is about an ethical standard," she said. more

My magic 8 ball states definitely when I ask it if he will be found guilty on the majority of indictments. This case also shows that no party is without stain. After all the Democrats just hid all of their spending earmarks after promising transparent ethical government. Not the way to win big in 2008.
The more things change the more things stay the same it seems.

Second Democratic Debate

I'm calling Hillary the winner in the traditional debating team sort of way. Obama comes in as first runner up.

Boiling it down from CNN:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, an early and outspoken opponent of the invasion who mounted an anti-war campaign in 2004, said the way to end the war was to cut off funding.

"The money's in the pipeline right now, enough to bring the troops home," he said. "Let's end the war, and let's make this a productive evening."

But Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, said opponents of the war need to realize Democrats do not have the 67 votes needed to override a veto and force an end to the war.

"As long as there is a single troop in Iraq that I know if I take action by funding them, I increase the prospect they will live or not be injured, I cannot and will not vote no to fund them," said Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, who served in the Senate during the Vietnam War, said anyone who voted to authorize the invasion should not be president.

"We have killed more Americans than was done on the 11th of September," Gravel said. "More Americans died because of their decision. That disqualifies them for president."

The last question was from a local schoolteacher who asked what each candidate would make top priority in the first 100 days in office.

Clinton said she would end the war in Iraq. Obama echoed that goal, and added he would "get moving" on health care. Biden also topped his list with ending the Iraq war, and said he would defuse tensions with Iran and North Korea. Gravel said he would work to convince Democratic congressional leadership to end the war now.

Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said he would restore constitutional rights damaged by the Bush administration. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he would improve American education. Kucinich's top priority was to help "reshape the world for peace." And Edwards said he would travel the world to "re-establish America's moral authority." (Read full text of each candidate's response) full article

However since the New Hampshire Democratic Debate ran on the same night as the next to the last episode of the Soprano's everyone is a loser because almost no one watched the debate.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sierra Club Moving to the Middle?

And partnering with the National Rifle Association to push new legislation?

From the new Sierra Sportsmen section of their web site:

Open Fields: 20 Million More Acres for Sportsmen

Sierra Club is one of 40+ conservation, agricultural, recreational, and labor organizations supporting the "Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program of 2005" bill in the U.S. Congress. More commonly known as the "Open Fields" bill, this important legislation-- sponsored by Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Pat Roberts of Kansas in the Senate, and Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota and Tom Osborne of Nebraska in the House-- would open more than 20 million acres of prime hunting and fishing land to sportsmen.

"Open Fields" calls for an increase in Department of Agriculture funding to bolster existing state programs that provide access to private lands for hunters and anglers. It further encourages the establishment of similar, new "walk-in" programs. Through these programs, states offer rural landowners small per-acre payments to voluntarily open their lands, improve habitat, and expand the landbase available to sportsmen.

Other groups that played a role in this legislation include the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Pheasants Forever, the Izaak Walton League, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Boone and Crocket Club, the Wildlife Management Institute, and the National Rifle Association. For more information visit


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Who'd have guessed?

I recently pointed out an article about porn being so commonplace that real women were now viewed as bad porn. I ran across this article from the NY Times that the internet is now so glutted with free amateur porn that traditional purveyors of pornography are taking a 30 to 40% hit in profits because:

“The barrier to get into the industry is so low: you need a video camera and a couple of people who will have sex,” full article