Today is the day that Houstonians will place Melissa Noriega on City Council, in At-Large Position 3. If you
live here, I ask YOU to vote for Ms. Noriega in today's runoff. The choice is clear: Ms. Noriega's 27
years of experience in leadership on the job, in the community and in the State Legislature, vs. an opponent
whose campaign was largely against Scary Brown People, an opponent who was sued for not paying his bills from
the last campaign he ran, an opponent... well, you get the idea. Ms. Noriega is the real deal, and has
from business associations and labor unions, from police and firefighters, from many city and state
officeholders, from the
from many individual Democrats and Republicans, across the social
and political spectrum of our fair city. Now it's up to you Houstonians to see that she takes the office
for which she is so outstandingly well-qualified. Please go vote today (Saturday).
is how to find your polling place, which may be different from your usual location. Thank you for your vote.
(This post will float to the top throughout Saturday.)
Given the recent rhetoric in Republican circles about immigration policy, I found
The California Republican Party has decided no American is qualified to take one of its most crucial
positions — state deputy political director — and has hired a Canadian for the job through a coveted H-1B
visa, a program favored by Silicon Valley tech firms that is under fire for displacing skilled American
Christopher Matthews, 35, a Canadian citizen, has worked for the state GOP as a campaign consultant since
2004. But he recently was hired as full-time deputy political director, with responsibility for handling
campaign operations and information technology for the country’s largest state Republican Party
operation, California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring confirmed in a telephone interview this week.
In the nation’s most populous state — which has produced a roster of nationally known veteran political
consultants — “it’s insulting but also embarrassing … to bring people from the outside who don’t know the
difference between Lodi and Lancaster … and who can’t even vote,” said Karen Hanretty, a political
commentator and former state GOP party spokeswoman.
Wait, it gets funnier. Matthews was hired by Michael Kamburowski, the state GOP’s chief operations officer,
who is ... wait for it ... an Australian citizen.
Well, hell. If that's how the GOP feels about American workers, why don't they just run on a platform of
outsourcing the whole bloody government to Canada? It couldn't be worse than we have under the current GOP
mal-administration, and it might be noticeably better. We'd certainly get better healthcare...
According to Tony Snow, Bush serves in the wars he started:
This statement dishonors my late father and all of my uncles on both sides of the family. It dishonors my
classmates and all others who served and often died in Vietnam. And it dishonors our troops currently serving
in harm's way. And it does so on Flag Day, no less.
It's one thing not to serve in combat for medical reasons, or family reasons, or conscientious objection to
all war. It's even acceptable to me, just barely, to have "other priorities," as so many members of this
administration did in their youth, though anyone who says that had better enumerate and defend those other
priorities to the public.
But it's another matter altogether to send your mouthpiece out to tell people you are serving... when in fact
you are not. However you feel about the wars themselves... at this point, I oppose both of them, and
the one Mr. Bush seems about to start... you have to admit Snow tossed us a blatant and transparent lie in
saying the preznit is serving. I'm sorry, but Mr. Bush is in no physical danger; that means he is not serving
in either of his wars. Period.
Snow's response to Helen Thomas's question had the flavor of a "canned" answer. If it was, that means
someone in the administration thought about it and primed Tony with this answer. In turn, that means
someone thought we were all so fucking stupid and insensitive as to accept that answer. Snow, and by
extension, Bush, owe a lot of apologies for this one.
Or I suppose they could quiet many of us by having the Bush twins enlist and volunteer for combat. It's
not unprecedented even in our times: Britain's Prince Harry, even if he was not sent to Iraq with his unit
(over his own objections), willingly put his life on the line. Jenna? Not-Jenna? How about it? What's your
Daddy's legacy worth to you? Oh. Of course. "Other priorities." I thought so. Well, OK; have another Lone
Star and another line of blow...
A close-up view of the human genome has revealed its innermost workings to be far more complex than first
The study, which was carried out on just 1% of our DNA code, challenges the view that genes are the main
players in driving our biochemistry.
(Emphasis mine, here and below.) The result was announced by the Encyclopaedia of DNA Elements (Encode)
study, which was effectively the successor to the Human Genome Project. If this is borne out, it's going to
stand our traditional understanding of human genetics on its head. More about the results:
Previously, genome activity was thought of in terms of the 22,000 genes that make proteins - the functional
building blocks in our cells - along with patches of DNA that control, or regulate, the genes.
The other 97% or so of the genome was said to be made up of "junk" DNA - so called because it had no known
He explained that the study had found junk DNA was being transcribed, or copied, into RNA - an active
molecule that relays information from DNA to the cellular machinery.
He added: "This is a remarkable finding, since most prior research suggested only a fraction of the genome
Here's my prediction of the next big discovery: they will find that the "junk DNA" has been in secret
communication with the "dark matter" of the universe regarding a plan to rid the universe of the pestilence
of intelligent life. OK, sorry; I couldn't resist; this is a blog, not a scientific publication. But both
phenomena are reminders that just because we don't understand something doesn't mean it isn't important.
The great thing about science is that earlier limitations on understanding of phenomena can be overcome in
the process of examining new information.
I spent five years writing programs for a group of geneticists, and I wish I could see the expressions on
their faces as they read the results of this study.
Yesterday, once again, I failed to make it to a local outdoor gathering that serves as a source of locally
grown, organically grown produce. Once again I ended up paying the price, literally, in a late-night trip
to Whole Foods. I am enjoying the fruits... ah, I mean, the vegetables... of that trip right now; lunch is a
large and very satisfying green salad. Our Whole Foods store, which is actually responsive to customer input,
has begun to offer locally grown produce, in addition to the typically excellent organically grown produce
they've always sold. There's a problem, though: most of the locally grown ingredients in this salad
(including some truly wonderful "baby bella" mushrooms) are "conventionally" grown, i.e., with pesticides
and chemical fertilizers; on the other hand, much if not most of the organically grown veggies are from
out of state... often waaay out of state, thus using up a lot of fuel in transporting them here.
Here's my question: given an either-or choice, would you choose organically grown produce from out of state,
or conventionally grown produce from under a hundred miles away?
I'm not in the habit of agreeing with things said by Republan* senators; there's just not that much
opportunity for me to do so. But Eric Kleefeld and T.W. Farnam at
TPMCafe Election Central
report that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) places the blame for the GOP defeat in the 2006 elections on Mr. Bush,
saying the loss was "definitely because of the president and his policies."
Thank you, Senator Snowe; I do not disagree with you on this matter. If the GOP wishes actually to
participate in government, rather than having their privates in the grip of people acting like thugs while
pretending (badly) to be public servants, their first task is to push back against Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney
and their henchmen. Bush is astonishingly unpopular; even the most GOP-leaning poll has him hovering at
about 35 percent recently, and most other polls show him below that. What'll it be, GOPers? Do you want to be
taken seriously the way you were in the old days? Divorcing Mr. Bush politically would be a good start.
Stopping your enabling of his illegal and unconstitutional actions, even if only the ones he has publicly
bragged about admitted to, would be even better. And best of all, you could really gain credibility by
mentioning the I-word... you don't even have to do it; just mention it in public. Give us some clue that you
would prefer the rule of law over the rule of Bush.
They say a word to the wise is sufficient; maybe these couple hundred words will convince even a few
*Newcomers to the site may be unfamiliar with my use of "Republan" for the GOP. I'll continue using it as
long as Mr. Bush continues calling his opposition the "Democrat Party," though it does seem appropriate that
he has picked up a deeply offensive usage apparently first popularized by the late unlamented Joe McCarthy.
Call my usage "an 'ic' for an 'ic' " if you like.
MIAMI -- An aging weather satellite crucial to accurate predictions on the intensity and path of hurricanes
could fail at any moment and plans to launch a replacement have been pushed back seven years to 2016.
In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's chief
said the failure of the QuikScat satellite could bring more uncertainty to forecasts and widen the areas that
are placed under hurricane watches and warnings.
If the satellite faltered, experts estimate that the accuracy of two-day forecasts would suffer by 10 percent
and three-day forecasts by 16 percent, which could translate into miles of coastline and the difference
between a city being evacuated or not.
So... this was unexpected, right? Wrong:
QuikScat, launched in 1999 and designed to last two to three years, provides key data on wind speed and
direction over the ocean. Weather aircraft and buoys can also obtain similar measurements near a storm, but
they do not provide a constant flow of data as QuikScat does.
Last year, the satellite suffered a major setback — the failure of a transmitter used to send data to Earth
about every 90 minutes. Now the satellite is limping along on a backup transmitter and has other problems.
The backup transmitter could last years, but there are no guarantees and no warnings when it is about to
fail, said Robert Gaston, who works with the satellite at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
So... it must be humongously expensive to build a replacement, right? Or maybe the dollar cost of losing the
edge this satellite provides in coastal protection is very small, right? Wrong again:
Emergency managers estimate that the total costs of evacuations are up to $1 million per mile of coastline,
meaning wider evacuations could be expensive.
Lautenbacher's letter was sent to Rep. Ron Klein, a Florida Democrat who requested the agency's plan should
the satellite fail. Klein and other members of Congress are pushing a bill that would pay for a satellite to
"I'm disappointed that this letter doesn't directly address my request for a backup plan if QuikScat fails,
given that we're three weeks into a hurricane season," said Klein, who has requested a hearing on the issue.
Even if money were immediately available, a replacement satellite is estimated to take at least four years
and cost approximately $400 million to build. The AP first reported those estimates in a March interview with
Proenza, one of the loudest voices calling for a replacement satellite.
Let me see here. By a rough bit of arithmetic, if a new satellite prevented a total of 400 miles of coastline
evacuation over the number of major storms in the satellite's lifetime, it has already paid for itself, not
to mention probably saving many lives. But the time to have begun building such a satellite, if it were to
have been ready for this hurricane season, was in 2003. When the original QuikScat was launched in 1999,
everyone probably thought another would be launched near the end of its projected lifetime, in, say, 2002 or
2003. Instead, we're told that replacement is to be delayed until 2016.
Ask yourself a few simple questions:
What party controlled the presidency, and thus the power to write a budget, at the time the money should
have been allocated to replace QuikScat? Right.
What party has controlled the presidency, and thus the proposing of budgets, at the time a QuikScat
replacement would have to have been initiated to have one ready for the current hurricane season? Right
And finally, what administration appears to be stonewalling Rep. Klein's inarguably reasonable request
for information on the government's backup plan if the current QuikScat fails? You got it.
Three out of three... you win the prize. What is the prize? Um, we're not sure, but if you live in a coastal
city, it may involve the words "flood plain," "tidal surge," "levee failure," ...
If you live on the coast, particularly if you live and work in one of the coastal cities that are utterly
essential to America's economy (remember what happened when the Port of New Orleans could not accept oil
shipments?), and you vote Republican in the next presidential election, you are a fool.
Or maybe not. Maybe you plan, even in the absence of the late Jerry Falwell, to pray the hurricanes away from
your hometown, up or down the coast, to wreak devastation on someone else. Maybe that's even the Bush
administration's backup plan if the satellite fails: faith-based weather control.
If so, those had better be strong prayers: they have to be effective until 2016.
Well, a feline is a cat, and
this is crap
masquerading as mud.
Mudcat, far be it from me to correct any of your impressions of the Democratic part of the blogosphere; your
opinions are most certainly your own to form and express. That's because no sane Democrat, let alone a sane
Democratic political consultant, would touch your opinions with a long pole.
Still, I think you need a few fundamental things explained to you:
Your most illustrious client (John Edwards) needs me, and people like me, far more than we need him. Many of
my early impressions of Edwards are positive, but as Stella (the love of my life) reminds me frequently,
Edwards was part of the Kerry-Edwards ticket that simply caved after the 2004 election. Caved. Got that? We
are not happy with Democrats who do not fight to the bitter end, so your candidate has, from the get-go,
something to prove to us... NOT we to him, or ('scuse me while I control my laughter) to you.
When your most illustrious client (John Edwards) hired two of the most highly respected bloggers in the
business, and right-wing idiots attacked them over a non-issue, Edwards caved again. Caved. Got that?
See above regarding his need to prove himself to us, not we to him.
The "Metropolitan Opera Wing" of the party? With the exception of a few operas by Monteverdi, Handel and
Mozart, I come very close to hating opera. "Pseudo-intellectual"? Bubba, there ain't nuthin' "pseudo" about
this Democrat, and you're welcome to come call me pseudo-something to my face. If you dare. Oh, and I haven't
had a latte in years. Or a fistfight. Maybe it's time.
Jokeline is arguably one of the most damaging influences in journalism today. Defend him... associate him
with your most illustrious client (John Edwards)... at your peril.
I don't need your God-blessed God-blessing. I don't write for you. I don't care if my posts have, or have not,
"been helpful to" you. If my religion is wrong and yours is right about the existence of a Hell, and if I go
there, as you urge me to do, I look forward to seeing you there and laughing at you. God-bless that, you
Go fuck yourself on a corkscrew, Mudcat. I'll provide the corkscrew, last used on a cheap California merlot.
How's that for snobbish incivility?
And finally, a word to former Sen. Edwards. Senator, I have some respect for you, and your healthcare plan
comes closer than anyone else's so far to meeting the needs of the American people. But you seem to have made
Al Gore's mistake of dismissing the help of competent members of your base who love and support you, deciding
instead to take the advice of high-priced consultants who get paid whether or not you... or Democrats in
general... win. You have a right to do that to yourself, but I take issue with the notion that you have a
right to do it to your base. Now would be a very good time to fire Mr. Saunders.
UPDATE, of great significance to Texans:
State Rep. Garnet Coleman will endorse Edwards for president.
Joining him in the endorsement, according to Isiah Carey's "Insite" blog, are State Rep. Jim Dunham
(D-Waco) and State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio). These men pretty much span the
spectrum of Democratic politics in Texas; a lot of Texas Democrats will pay attention to at least one of them.
Coleman is one of the most respected Democratic State Representatives in my area, and I count myself among
his unreserved admirers. I look forward to reading more of what Coleman has to say. (The troll posts on the
linked thread are worth the price of admission... I love the smell of GOPers fuming in the morning!)
Every jazz musician has to have a copy of each of the various volumes of The Real Book... a fake book
containing, among all its volumes, literally hundreds of tunes, each rendered as a single line with chord
symbols and occasional performance hints. If you play a job on short notice or with people you don't usually
work with, you can be sure most everyone knows a lot of tunes from The Real Book. You take it with you to a
The book was obviously copied out by various people with differing abilities as copyists... most are pretty
legible... and differing abilities as arrangers... most of the harmonies are pretty accurate. It was an
ongoing work of traditional lore, wrought by a fair number of people over a fairly long period of time.
It was also the world's largest living, breathing copyright violation. I bought my Volumes I and III for
cash, out of the trunk of a car, just as God intended. I never managed to score (pun intended) Volume II.
Imagine my astonishment this Saturday when I was looking around the sheet music section of a music store
in a small town not far from Houston, and saw in front of me a pile of volumes of The Real Book, including
Volume II. There they were, on a conventional display shelf. Each volume was marked with an ISBN number.
(Yes, I know: "ISBN number" is a bit like "DSL line"; we'll deal with that another time.) They were published
by a frequent publisher of jazz, rock and pop music, Hal Leonard. Apparently, according to the clerk, most
of the songs grew so old that copyright on them expired, and Hal Leonard publishers acquired the rest...
cheaply enough that my "legal" Volume II cost me the same as the volumes I bought out of a car trunk.
If copyright on those tunes has expired, that means I'm getting old. And as much as I like having the
additional songs for my pleasure, I admit it... now that it's legal, the thrill is gone.
(Full disclosure: I am NOT a professional jazz musician.)
Aside: I'm still exhausted from a very busy and intense couple of days; please forgive me if I blog drivel
for a day or two. I'll do my best to make sure it's at least entertaining drivel.
Houstonians: today (Saturday), Monday and Tuesday are the last days of early voting. Saturday, a week from
today, is Election Day. Houston City Council At-Large Pos. 3 is the only race on the ballot, and this
is a runoff, so turnout will be light. That means, of course, that your individual vote could have a huge
impact on the result. Ms. Noriega is overwhelmingly the more qualified candidate... click
for details... and we need her on City Council. Thanks in advance for your vote.
Oh, how I've avoided the subject. Is she out of jail? Is she in jail? As always with her, it's the old
in-and-out-and-in-and-out. I might have made it through with no posts about her, but while I was reading
one of the absurdly frequent posts on other lefty blogs, or maybe it was while I was reading Mad's parody
(see upstream), this popped into my head, and I couldn't resist...
We Watch Paris
We watch Paris when she springs up;
We watch Paris when she falls;
We watch Paris when she's somewhere that she sizzles;
We watch Paris in the jailhouse, where she fizzles.
We watch Paris every moment,
She's the only news, I fear;
We watch Paris...
Why oh why do we watch Paris?
Don't know. Let's get some beer!
'stina of Texas Law Chick
has a friend whose construction company was commissioned to build the new
an art gallery designed with some environment-friendly criteria in mind (details and pics from 'stina
I don't often copy the substance of another blogger's post, but this is just too cool, and 'stina
has already made a list of the features for us:
From conception of the idea in March, it has been three short months to a nearly final product!
The Mackey Gallery is built to be moved and reassembled with less than 5% waste. The land is owned by a developer who has intentions for the land, but will not begin construction for several years. The ultimate win-win situation is created. The developer secures a land lease and culturally enhances his neighborhood while Apama [Mackey] gains precious time to find and secure the perfect piece of land for her long term location.
Three recycled shipping containers: Two 40ft high cubes (9’6” tall) & one 20ft std. (8’ 6” tall)
Custom panelized roof and floor system utilizing Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs are extremely energy efficient and virtually eliminate the need for traditional framing while dramatically reducing waste and build time.)
Clerestory panels and office windows made from Polygal. (An insulated polycarbonate that is more energy efficient than glass, yet less expensive and more secure.)
All of the containers in the projects were modified at a low cost in the Numen warehouse in the Eastwood Neighborhood
The job site for the Gallery will need NO dumpsters because the building process has so little waste.
Even the parking lot will be made of Permeable Paving squares which are green, and reusable.
I am seriously impressed!
According to 'stina, "[t]he gallery will be at 628 East 11th Street in the Heights, right next to Berryhill."
When? possibly as I type this; assembly is scheduled for today. You can keep up with details and openings at
the Mackey Gallery link above.
Maybe I should rephrase that. The incomparable
gives us rhymes about the false piety so frequently on display among the GOP presidential candidates, a
parody set to a Billy Joel tune. Which tune? Like the GOP itself, Mad's parody gives us Piety for Honesty...
how appropriate! Do yourself a favor. Improve your morning. Go Mad, right now!
... at last I've found you! Mr. Lee is a
cat in Germany. Mr. Lee has a cat-cam on his collar, contrived by his very clever human. Putting aside all
questions of kitty rights and possible human privacy issues (there are none in these pictures), Mr. Lee's
excursions are fascinating. Enjoy!
Vladimir Putin sprang a diplomatic surprise yesterday in his dispute with America over the siting of a US
missile defence system in Europe, suggesting instead that it could be placed in the former Soviet republic of
The Russian leader, who raised the prospect of a new cold war with the west in his hawkish speech on the eve
of the summit, claimed he had already secured the agreement of the Azerbaijani government to the proposal.
The offer was not immediately rejected by a startled George Bush following bilateral talks between the two
leaders at the G8 summit.
Mr Bush called it "an interesting suggestion" and said the US and Russia would begin negotiations to pursue
Face it: Mr. Bush has no fucking clue what the strategic implications of such a switch would be. Indeed, I
suspect he has no fucking clue where Azerbaijan is.
President Gore... you remember him, the one we really elected... would have known both the geography
and the strategic considerations. Our ersatz preznit is dangerous in situations like this. America lost an
astonishing amount when the wrong man was seated. Not that that is news, of course, but every time Bush
interacts with Putin, I feel a chill, a sort of cold... um... war.
... allows me to disable the onmouseover event in HTML with a script, or the equivalent in Adobe Flash
Player, either on a domain basis or (preferably) by a button on the toolbar. I'm really twitchy from having
to watch where my mouse cursor goes, to avoid triggering... something. That's what mouse buttons are for:
triggering something explicitly. Merely mousing over something on your display should not actively make
Have you played a YouTube video today? (If not, TPM has an
The new YouTube interface is a technological tour de force.
Back in the Seventies and Eighties, Chile's dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, turned "disappear" into a
transitive verb, and "disappeared" into a noun: Pinochet's henchmen would "disappear" people, who were then
among "the disappeared." According to a
BBC News article in 2001,
among the approximately 3000 dead during Pinochet's reign, about 1000 entered the ranks of "the disappeared,"
i.e., those missing and presumed dead whose fate was never determined.
Today, according to an article in the
an Amnesty International briefing paper titled
Off the Record
says our CIA is keeping at least 39 individuals, as well as some of their wives and children, in secret
detention. From the Amnesty announcement:
At least 39 individuals who remain missing are believed to have been subjected to enforced disappearance by
the US authorities. The wives and children of other detainees in secret CIA custody have also been held in
custody and interrogated, either as potential sources of information or to secure the capture of their
husband or father.
Based on research by six leading human rights groups - Amnesty International, Cageprisoners, the Center for
Constitutional Rights, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and NYU School of Law, Human Rights
Watch and Reprieve -, the briefing paper Off the Record provides the most comprehensive account of these 39
individuals' apprehension and detention to date, including four missing detainees here identified for the
The full list includes cases of nationals from countries including Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, Kenya and
Spain. They were arrested in countries including Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia and Sudan, and transferred to
secret sites run by the US government.
In many cases, the current fate and whereabouts of detainees included on the list are completely unknown. In
other cases, some speculative information has emerged in the press or through research and investigation.
In all cases, the US government’s silence has created grave uncertainty. The US government must end the use
of secret detention, clarify the fate and whereabouts of all people who have been secretly detained and allow
them access to their families and to adequate legal process.
The US has the duty to detain and bring to justice anyone responsible for crimes but it must do so in a
manner that respects human rights and the rule of law.
See the original for links to the six organizations. For some reason, Amnesty accidentally omitted the link
to the report itself,
Off the Record,
from the above press release, but it appeared elsewhere on the same web page. Please read at least the
This is not, of course, new, but Amnesty and the other five groups have brought some of the details to the
attention of the world.
This must end. Otherwise, the U.S. goes down in history as the perpetrator of the very kind of evil that
Americans have always struggled against in the international arena. There must be no American exceptionalism:
every perpetrator of human rights abuses throughout history has always claimed it had a good reason. There is
never a good reason to "disappear" people. There is never a good reason to torture people. Those practices
are always, in all circumstances, immoral, and under international law for over half a century, they are also
illegal. Either America stands firm in its commitment to human rights and the rule of law... or America means
nothing, and our founders may rightly be ashamed of us.
To my regret, I'm not talking about that wonderful Paul Simon song. From the
Millions of Britons leaving United States airports face mandatory fingerprinting under new security
Passengers travelling from the US will have to present their fingers as well as their passports at check-in
from the end of next year, according to a senior security official. Virgin Atlantic, whose customers may be
forced to endure longer waits in terminals, has vowed to oppose the move.
Michael Jackson, deputy secretary of the US department of homeland security, said the procedure would apply
to all passengers and airlines flying out of the US as the country accumulates information on every foreign
national travelling through America. "We will need biometric as well as biographical data," he said.
Michael Jackson... will he be assigned to fingerprinting children?
Quite apart from civil liberties and privacy issues, there are problems with collecting "biometric as well as
biographical data": first, the combination is enough to enable identity theft in the event of a breach of
security of the information; second, with biometric data, it's permanent... if DHS accidentally or
deliberately splashes your biographical data all over the internet, you can, at least in theory, go to court
and get your name changed. What about your biometric data, e.g., your fingerprints? can you get those
How this procedure will enhance our security even the tiniest bit is a mystery to me. What are they going to
do with all those fingerprints? File them in Washington along with
Arlo Guthrie's? But
Mr. Bush's DHS, like Mr. Bush himself, seems determined to offend every foreign national who comes to our
shores, and more than a few who do not.
Enjoy the day of Libby's just deserts, but don't expect the joy to be long-lived. Thirty months... that's at
the lower end of the range prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald recommended. Considering that Libby's perjury and
obstruction of justice interfered not with any common criminal case but with the investigation of Vice
President Cheney's possible role and criminal liability in the "outing" of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame,
I'd say Libby got a sweet deal. And of course the chances he'll have to serve all of that sentence are...
yes, you're right... approximately zero.
Wheeler's live-blog is painful reading for those of us who think ours is... should be... a government of
laws. It's painful to think that officials at the highest level of our government perjured themselves to
allow other high-level officials to destroy a covert CIA agent's career for mere political purposes. Even
more painful is the thought that Libby, far from failing by getting caught, may have succeeded brilliantly in
his mission of protecting the preznit and veep from liability for their own likely wrongdoing.
I suppose all presidents abuse their power of the pardon at the end of their terms, but some pardons are
"more equal than others." If... when... Bush pardons Libby, the world will see that none of these men gives a
good damn about the security of the United States of America. Putting aside all conjecture, what these men
are already known to have done... the parts proved in a court of law to the satisfaction of a criminal
jury, plus the parts they have freely admitted to... should be enough to demonstrate their indifference to
the people and mechanisms that keep us safe, and the laws that protect those people. If they have an
historical legacy, it will be that of putting their own personal and political interests above the law, above
security, and ultimately above America's interests.
(Minor correction applied after initial posting. - SB)
This is to remind everyone to vote for
in the June 16 runoff for Houston City Council At-Large Pos. 3.
Early voting for the June 16 runoff has begun. General information
can be obtained at the
web site. The English and Spanish maps of early voting locations and schedules are available
(Warning: .pdf file.) Please note that some polling locations have been combined, and that early and regular
polling locations are very likely different. (Don't get me started...) For your convenience, here is the
early voting timetable:
June 4th - June 8th:
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
June 11th - June 12th:
7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Thanks for voting for Ms. Noriega. In my opinion, her well-demonstrated leadership skills will be an asset
to our city.
Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)... "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, "Cold Cash" Jefferson, choose your favorite name...
yesterday on charges of soliciting bribes, racketeering and money-laundering.
Rep. Jefferson is of course entitled to the same presumption of innocence one would afford any other
long-time self-dealing, bribe-taking politician, um, I mean, any other accused person. If he is convicted
of what he is accused of doing, the "D" after his name will not save him from my outrage; indeed, it will
heighten it. As some commenter on another site said last night, as far as I'm concerned, if he is convicted,
let them build a new jailhouse on top of him. In probably the only instance on record in which I agree with a
GOP radio talk show host... though possibly not with his motives... I concur with New Orleans commentator
Jeff Crouere (sorry, no link from me) that Jefferson should resign immediately from Congress. To the credit
of House Democratic leadership, Jefferson has long since been stripped of his House Ways and Means Committee
Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I have no tolerance for abuse of the public
trust by politicians of any party. Is there a difference of degree between, say, Dick Cheney's very open
self-dealing through multibillion-dollar no-bid contracts for Halliburton and Jefferson's apparent
run-of-the-mill bribery and more? Yes. Cheney is openly and unapologetically on the take, "big time," to use
his own phrase, and his actions are sufficiently large and high-level that they endanger the nation. But I
despise both men. Damn it, all of us, of every political persuasion, worked hard for that money we send to
Washington. Actually, my envelopes go to Dallas, but the thought that Rep. Jefferson may be shoveling my
money straight to his bribe-paying cronies offends me deeply.
Yes, of course, "Dollar Bill" must have a fair trial. Questions of how evidence was obtained should be
examined. But he should resign from Congress forthwith.
Now to some of the politicking. You knew this was coming, didn't you?
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) apparently still hasn't gotten it through his admittedly thick skull that
members of Congress should not push indictments:
Apparently deaf to the improper tone of the request in the context of a hearing on the firings of the U.S.
attorneys, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) encouraged Alberto Gonzales to hurry up and indict Rep. William
Jefferson (D-LA). The Jefferson case has dragged on for nearly two years and is awaiting the decision of an
appeals court on the FBI's seizure of evidence from Jefferson's congressional office.
"I hope that you will tell your prosecutors to wrap this thing up," said Sensenbrenner.
That was completely outside the pale. I doubt Sensenbrenner's offhand public remark is actionable, but it is
not different in intent from Pete Domenici's and Heather Wilson's egregiously improper (and probably illegal)
attempts to influence U.S. Attorneys to indict Democrats on a politically advantageous timetable.
Then there's a Fox News video clip, provided by
Talking Points Memo.
Apparently, Fox News has an "all them [n-word]s look alike" policy regarding African American members of
Congress: their announcement of Jefferson's indictment is accompanied by footage of... Dollar Bill
Jefferson? NO... of Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chair of the House Judiciary Committee. I'd shrug and
say "consider the source," but I can't, when so many Americans get their "news" from that source. Many Fox
News viewers who do not pay close attention will probably assume John Conyers was indicted. This is even
worse than when Fox News labeled Mark Foley a Democrat. I am convinced neither incident was an accident.
After decades of contention, New Zealand researchers have provided the first direct evidence that Polynesians
sailed across thousands of miles of the Pacific Ocean to reach South America long before the arrival of the
Spanish around AD 1500.
Their proof? Chicken bones.
Using genetic analysis and radiocarbon dating of chicken bones found in Chile, the researchers showed that
the fowl originated in Polynesia, not Europe as was previously believed, the researchers said Monday.
The possibility of contact between Polynesia and the New World has been a subject of contention since
Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl's famous 1947 voyage aboard his crude raft Kon-Tiki.
Despite Heyerdahl's demonstration, the idea that Polynesians could have routinely — or even occasionally —
navigated across the Pacific was considered farfetched, primarily because of the lack of proof.
The most compelling thing about the evidence is that it emerges from several disciplines: carbon dating,
linguistic similarities and of course Heyerdahl's voyage, of which I read with great enthusiasm as a child.
This is rather like the use of circumstantial evidence in a criminal case: it isn't enough by itself in
small, individual pieces, but a lot of independent bits of circumstantial evidence can add up to a compelling
case. Based only on this article, I believe the researchers have made their case.
Broadcasters Win FCC Expletive Dispute
By LARRY NEUMEISTER
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 5, 2007; 8:56 AM
NEW YORK -- An appeals court said a new federal policy against accidentally aired profanities on TV and radio
was invalid, noting that vulgar language had become so common that even President Bush has been heard using
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday in favor of a Fox Television-led challenge to the policy
and returned the case to the Federal Communications Commission to let the agency try to explain how its
policy was not "arbitrary and capricious." The court said it doubted the FCC could.
he broadcasters had asked the appeals court last year to invalidate the FCC's conclusion that profanity-laced
broadcasts on four shows were indecent, even though no fines were issued. The FCC said the "F-word" in any
context "inherently has a sexual connotation" and can be subject to enforcement action.
The appeals court said some of the FCC's explanations for its new policy, reversing a more lenient policy in
place for nearly three decades, were "divorced from reality."
How can I reach that state, "divorced from reality"? I'm happy with my partner, but reality is another matter.
The court noted that even President Bush was heard one day telling British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the
United Nations needed to "get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s---."
According to the FCC's reasoning (and I use the term loosely), "shit" always has an excretory connotation, so
it must have one in this case. Quick! Fine Dubya his entire presidential income and throw him in jail!
The 30-year FCC policy on indecency, obscenity and profanity was already excessive and probably
unconstitutional even before Mr. Bush appointed a chair who embarked on a zero-tolerance policy with high
fines. Even Eric Idle was fined, and he had something to say about it in his song,
Fuck You Very Much, the FCC.
(I'm still compelled by convention to place a silly warning that the song is not safe for work. But know that
I detest doing so.)
"But what of the children?" cry the hypocrites conservatives. Trust me: if your children are old
enough to recognize such words as special, they have already heard them dozens of times in the schoolyard.
Or your front yard. Or your home, or (most likely) the passenger seat of your car.
It's OK with me if saying "fuck" or "shit" in a formal public context costs the speaker the goodwill of the
audience, but that, not "five thousand bucks a 'fuck'" (as Idle sings), should be the extent of the cost: it
is quite beyond me how a reasonable interpretation of the First Amendment allows any restriction on speech
other than speech that places people in physical danger. There is no "impolite" exception to the First
Amendment. For at least the span of my adult life, it has been acceptable to say "fuck" among friends, even
in public, and the fact that some people attempt to illegalize common popular speech on the air... and often
enough succeed... scares the shit out of me.
The earthly remains of Stella's sister
have been planted, appropriate words have been spoken, family members who do not live here have returned
home, and we are left with our thoughts... and a feeling of exhaustion. Stella has moments of almost
unbearable sadness. And Tabitha, doing her best to comfort Stella, has sneezing fits. It's a tough time for
all of us.
I think I need a day, perhaps two, to absorb everything. I'll continue to comment on other blogs in that
time, and I'll resume politicking with what I hope will be renewed energy in a day or two. Thanks for your
understanding, and thanks for coming back after my break.
My sympathies to Jen and other loved ones of
He was one of the genuinely great Democratic bloggers... and believe me, we know exactly how you feel in
losing a loved one so untimely young. Bless you all; Steve will be greatly missed.
Right on schedule (well, actually, they've been tracked for a couple of days), we have two named tropical
depressions to mark today's official beginning of the hurricane season. These two are not predicted to be
dangerous, but they serve as a reminder that it is time for everyone in the region to finish preparations.
You can track storms at the
National Hurricane Center
web site, among many others.
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