Monday, June 30, 2008

Seeking Immortality? Name a Sea Worm

Most people think of immortality as achieved through, perhaps, their children. Not so Jeff Goodhartz. After all he's single without children. So, how to be sure his name would live on? Well, how about naming a sea worm?

That's Jeff above, with his sea worm.

You'll recall that earlier I wrote about a similar auction that resulted in the naming of a new species of Mexican butterfly.

Goodhartz bought the naming rights from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which unveiled its name-a-species program earlier this year. The price: a bargain $5,000 compared to the $40,800 for the Mexican butterfly.

Scripps curator Greg Rouse is the discoverer of Goodhartz's featherworm. Rouse found it in an underwater mangrove while snorkeling off the coast of Belize two years ago. It is not only a new species, but part of a new genus of Belize featherworms too, he said.

Though the species will be called goodhartzorum, Rouse is still deciding the genus name.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fuel Prices Impacting "World's Oldest Profession"

If you think about it, oil is used in just about everything in one way or another. For example: growing produce (fertilizer is petroleum-based), plastics (the same), electronics (can't create it without oil, and that's not even counting the electricity). Of course, you might not think the world's oldest profession would be impacted by high oil and fuel prices, but apparently it is.

It's more in terms of legalized brothels in Nevada, mind you, but they have seen a 25% decline from last year, according to industry officials. The reason: less discretionary funds for long-haul truckers.

Geoffrey Arnold, president of the Nevada Brothel Owners’ Association, told AP said truckers account for up to 75% of business at Nevada's rural brothels along Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 95. He said

“We’re being affected by the economy like everybody else. Times are tougher … and truckers have less money to spend. They’re not high-rollers anymore.”
Shoot, I didn't know they were high rollers in the first place. However, with the average price of diesel approaching $5, making gasoline look cheap, it's small wonder there are little funds left over for "fun."

According to Arnold, rural brothels are the most hard hit. As such, they are beginning to offer promotions, such as gas cards, monthly discounts, special rates for those using stimulus checks, etc. etc.

But besides the fuel price hikes, it's a recession, guys, no matter what the Bush Administration tries to say. There is simply less disposable income to spend, and less desire to chance things by spending on stuff people can do without.

Nothing like economic necessities to curb vice.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Larry Craig, Daniel Vitter Co-Sponsors of "Marriage Protection Amendment"

I hope you don't have to be told who either of these senators are, but just in case: Larry Craig (R-ID), was caught playing footsie in a sex sting in an airport bathroom. Meanwhile David Vitter (R-LA), was one of the D.C. Madam's clients. The two have joined six others as co-sponsors of S. J. Res. 43, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)'s "Marriage Protection Amendment." You can't make up stuff this good.

Other co-sponsors are: Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO), Sen. Samuel Brownback (R-KS), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Sen. John Thune (R-SD).

The Amendment (.PDF) says in part:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
Besides the obvious irony just based on the fact of the two of them cheating on their wives, it's even worse for Craig obviously, as he would be shutting the door on any potential gay marriage in his future. Heh.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cheney Still in No Branch of Government

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on torture. During his testimony, David Addington, Cheney's chief-of-staff reasserted Cheney's position from last year - which was that the VP is not a part of the executive branch. Addington declared the vice president’s office to be a separate entity that is "attached" to the legislative branch.
REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Mr. Addington, what branch are we in?

ADDINGTON: Sir, perhaps the best that can be said is that the vice president belongs neither to the executive nor to the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter. Close-quote. That's from two legal opinions issued by the Office of Legal Council of the Department of Justice, dated March 9th, 1961 and April 18th, 1961 by I believe Mr. Katsenback (sp?).

COHEN: So he's a member of the legislative branch?

ADDINGTON: No, I said he's attached to the latter ...

COHEN: So he's kind of a barnacle? Cuz he's fish nor fowl; he's just attached to something.
So he's in no branch? He's certainly not in the judicial branch!

Love Cohen's barb.

Watch the exchange, which was a little testy.

Surgeon's License Suspended After Surgery on Wrong Lung, Cover-Up

Someone's malpractice insurance took a very large hit because of this. Not only did this doctor operate on the wrong lung, he tried to cover up his error with a series of lies.

The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners found Dr. Santusht Perera removed a portion of the patient's right lung when he should have been operating on the left lung. What's even more distressing is that it took eight years for the ruling to be handed down, showing just how much red tape is involved in something that should have been rubber-stamped as a goof-up!

After awakening in 2000 at the Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus., Richard Flagg was told by Perera that while he had been scheduled to remove a tumor from Flagg's left lung, a still larger tumor was found in the right lung. Perera also modffied records to show he intended to operate on the right lung.

Flagg settled a lawsuit, and became a proponent of malpractice victims' rights before passing away in 2003.

Perera was fined $81,000 and had his license suspended for two years. However, he can apply for reinstatement after six months (if you can believe it). What's worse, a hospital spokeswoman told a local paper they might actually take him back if his license is renewed.

Joan Quigley, spokeswoman for Hoboken University Medical Center, formerly St. Mary Hospital, where Perera has been practicing more recently, said:

"He was a popular physician."
Perhaps not so popular if people knew about this case! Makes you think that checking a doctor's malpractice history might not be a bad idea.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Scott McClellan to Switch to the Dems?

Scott McClellan, whose tell-all book ("What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception") raised hackles at the White House, said on Tuesday that he hasn't decided yet if he would register as a Democrat or vote Democratic for president this year.

While speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, McClellan said,
"I haven't made any long-term decisions."

McClellan's book is currently #17 overall at Amazon.com.

You can download his Commonwealth Club speech here.

Nader: Does Obama Want to "Talk White?"

Groan. Ralph Nader, who many cite as the reason Bush won Florida, and thus the election, in 2000, is running for President again. Obviously he has no chance of doing anything except possibly handing another election to the GOP, but besides that, he truly needs to think before speaking.

In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News, Nader was asked if he thought Obama was any better than any other recent Democratic candidate. His response:
"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American. Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards."
Asked again about his comment, he continued:
"Do you think he's trying to, what was your term, 'talk white?'"

Nader: "Of course. I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law. Haven't heard a thing."
Watch the video, from Rocky Mountain News, broadcast June 24, 2008.

video

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Heinz U.K. Pulls Controversial Ad Showing Men Kissing

The first ad out the gate for Heinz's new ad agency AMV BBDO (since it won the £10m-a-year U.K. business last year) wasn't too well received. The ad, which featured two men sharing a kiss has been withdrawn - and Heinz has apologized. The ad for their Deli Mayo product ran for less than a week.

Nigel Dickie, director of corporate affairs for Heinz U.K. said:
"It is our policy to listen to consumers. We recognise that some consumers raised concerns over the content of the ad and this prompted our decision to withdraw it."
Although some of the complaints centered around the ad being "unsuitable to be seen by children," the ad carried an "ex-kids" restriction, meaning it could not be shown in or around children's programming. That was because of the product content, though, not the ad content. Heinz Deli Mayo violated Ofcom's TV ad restrictions relating to products that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

The controversial part is at the end, where the man dressed in a suit is about to walk out, and the deli man, who has been making lunch, says: "Hey, ain't you forgetting something?" Kiss ensues, and the deli man says "Love you. Straight home from work, sweet cheeks."

AMV BBDO said that the concept behind the campaign is that the product tastes so good, "It's as if you have your own New York deli man in your kitchen."

Watch the video:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don Imus Already in Trouble Over New Racist Remark?

Last year Don Imus lost his job over his "nappy-headed hos" comment regarding the Rutgers women's basketball team, which he made in April. He got his job back, or should we say, got a new job last December.

On his Monday show, while discussing the arrests of suspended Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, the following exchange occurred:
Warner Wolf: He's been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005.

Imus: What color is he?

Wolf: He's African-American.

Imus: Well, there you go. Now we know.
The Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement saying that the comment was "disturbing because it plays into stereotypes."

However, in an email to the New York Times, Imus said "I meant he was being picked on because he’s black."

Uh huh. I'm not so sure, specifically because of the way he said it. But I could be wrong. What do you readers think? Is media jumping on Imus too quickly?

Listen to a clip from his show.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Black: "Another Attack Would Be a Big Advantage for McCain"

Another instance of foot-in-mouth disease for a politician, or at least for one of his advisors. Fortune is running an article called "The Evolution of John McCain." But Charlie Black, McCain's chief advisor, said the following in the article:
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event." "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.
Yes, a really big foot in the mouth, and not something that John McCain was particularly enamored with. In a press conference today, a reporter brought up Black's statement.
Reporter: Your advisor Charlie Black told Fortune Magazine that a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during the election season would be a big advantage for you. Is that a sentiment you agree with; do you think he should have said something like that?

McCain: I cannot imagine why he would say it; it's not true. I've worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America ... I cannot imagine and I would ... if he said that, and I do not know the context, I strenuously disagree.
While it might in fact be true that a terrorist attack would be an advantage for McCain, is that the sort of thought one should voice? Definitely not.

And, as I've said before, it's not as though the Democrats will be waving Al Qaida in with open arms or anything. The fact of the matter is that any perception of a difference in "safety" between the two is ridiculous.

Watch the video of McCain:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

"Street View Hookers" Spice Up the Web

Since its unveiling in May of 2007, Google's Street View has hit a few bumps in the road, including being told to "keep out" of an entire town, to being sued over privacy by a Pennsylvania couple, to being told to stay out of military bases. This particular incident is more humorous than anything else.

Take a gander at 3186 San Pablo Ave in Emeryville, CA (close to Berkeley), and you'll see what appears to be, ahem, some businesswomen on a street corner. I would assume they were trolling for employers.

There's no indication if the Street View cameramen partook of any of their wares, but probably not, as they have deadlines to meet.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The MPG Myth

As gas and oil prices skyrocket, despite the fact that I see very little change in the San Francisco Bay Area in terms of the types of cars driven or the way people drive - more on that later - people are moving away from gas-guzzlers to more fuel efficient cars, out of necessity.

Still, the math ... or rather the myth ... of MPG may be making them making incorrect choices in terms of cars.

A research paper in the journal Science (subscription required) outlines just how misled we may be. When one uses a modicum of "common sense," it's pretty easy to see the results, even without a subscription to access the full article. I was intrigued when I heard a short blurb on this on the radio and did the math myself, as we are considering replacing my wife's Toyota Echo with a Toyota Prius.

The problem is that most people think an increase of 10 MPG trumps an increase of 5 MPG, no matter what. Let's say you have two cars, and were considering replacing an SUV that gets 15 MPG with one that gets 20 MPG. Or you could replace your mid-size that gets 28 with a subcompact that gets 38. And let's assume you drive the same number of miles in each car. The 10 MPG difference should be better, right? Wrong.

In fact, that 15 MPG uses 6.67 gallons every 100 miles. Meanwhile that 20 MPG SUV uses 5 gallons every 100 miles. Assuming $4 / gallon gasoline you will save $6.67 per 100 miles.

At the same time, the 28 MPG car vs. the 38 MPG car results in a savings of $3.76 over 100 miles. Surprising at first glance, but really, it just requires some math (a good spreadsheet helps!).

Obviously if the miles driven between the two cars is skewed the equation becomes more complex. Where's the breakeven point? In this case it would be calculated by dividing the difference the SUV's savings by the car savings: the SUV "change" saves 1.773 times as much fuel as the car "change."

Breakeven, then, would be when the car drives 1.773 x as many miles as the SUV. So, if the SUV drives 10,000 miles a year, and the car 17,730, that's about (accounting for rounding) when the savings would be equal.

I've uploaded a very simple spreadsheet here that will help you determine your best options, if you are considering replacing one of your cars.

Now, as far as my earlier comment about "how people drive," I still see people typically drive 80 - 85 MPH on Bay Area freeways - and that's with a 65 MPH speed limit. I hope most people have enough common sense to realize slowing down saves gasoline.

In fact, while the actual calculation would differ for each car based on a variety of variables, for most cars the "sweet spot" is in the range of 40-60 MPH. So why do we continue to have a 65 MPH maximum speed limit?

It's true, in fact, that truckers and even airlines are slowing down, on their own. But the public: they just don't get it. And let's face it, if your neighbor is using more gas, it's taking away from your and your descendents.

Oh, and BTW, for all those states with budget problems: a little strict enforcement (none of those "warnings" I see given on the TruTV show Speeders) might really help your bottom line. And don't get me started about how many non-carpoolers are in the carpool lane.

End of rant.

Friday, June 20, 2008

McCain's Transcendental Approach to Differentiation from Bush

It's evident that John McCain wants to differentiate himself from President Bush. After all, why align yourself with someone with as low an approval rating as Bush. On the other hand, they don't agree on that much anyway, since, as Stephen Colbert indicated on Thursday night, McCain and Bush only agree on:
education, immigration, Iraq, abortion, Supreme Court judges, Social Security, tax breaks for the wealthy, wiretapping, trade, health care, the Middle East, same-sex marriage and Medicare.
Almost no agreement, right?
To prove that he's his own man. John McCain has his own word to describe America's ongoing conflicts. See if you can spot it.
Clips of McCain on the "transcendental challenge facing America."
That's right, the war is now transcendental. There is some question about McCain's new buzzword; it's not entirely clear what he's trying to say.

Does he mean transcendent, which according to Webster's means 'exceeding usual limits'? Because the war has certainly exceeded the time limit.

Or is he intentionally using the word 'transcendental,' which is defined by Webster's as 'of or relating to experience as determined by the mind's makeup.' In which case he's saying the war on terror is all in our heads.

Maybe he didn't meant to describe a transcendental challenge at all; maybe we misheard him because he was having trouble with his dentures.

Clearly, transcendental has too many interpretations. John McCain needs to come up with a new word ("retirement" flashes on the screen).

Everybody knows I've coined a few terms myself. Truthiness, wikiality. So Senator, let me help you. From now, keeping our troops in the Middle East isn't just necessary to win the war. It's downright Iraq-rosanct.

Holding people indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay is Divine Inter-Detention.

And secretly sending prisoners to other countries where torture is legal is no longer extraordinary rendition, it's called Offshore Drilling.

I hope those help. Because using language to turn failed policies into ideals that transcend debate is the best way to get people to think of you as Transcen-Presidential.
Watch the video.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Baracknophobia" and the "Audacity of Fear"

Much has been made so far about experience in this election cycle. John McCain constantly harps on the unknown quantity of Barack Obama, and perhaps it is this lack of knowledge that has led to the phenomena which Jon Stewart, on Monday's The Daily Show, termed as "Baracknophobia."

Now, it should be noted that the term Baracknophobia isn't new; I'm sorry Jon, but it was posted first on this site in February. I'm not sure if this is the first use, but Jon didn't coin the term himself!

At any rate, despite the "audacity of hope" given to many by Obama's campaign, many feel, according to Stewart, an "irrational fear of hope," or Baracknophobia.
Tonight folks we're gonna examine the "Audacity of fear." You know there's an awful lot to be afraid of in the world: terrorists, tomatoes. What I learned this weekend, a panda that has been highly trained in the martial arts. But there's one emerging fear that trumps all others: Baracknophobia.

It is defined as the irrational fear of hope, the irrational fear that behind the mild-mannered facade Barack Obama is intent on enslaving the white race. It's true, wake up white people.

The sickness manifests itself mostly through rumor, often in the form of the only email your grandmother has ever been able to successfully forward.
After a series of mainstream media clips complaining about how easy it was to spread a rumor on the Internet, Stewart continued.
So I got it. Internet, rumor, reckless, bad ... mainstream media, responsible, good.'
Except that a series of clips followed from mainstream media actually spreading a bunch of ridiculous smear stories.
I think all those clips must be from that new cable show "sh*t I unquestionably read off the Internet with your hosts All of Us!"

If you think Baracknophobia is bad in America, you should see it in Sean Hannity's America!
Ah yes, the days of campaigning sans dirty tricks, mudslinging - well, they probably never existed, but if they did, they are long gone.

Watch the clip from Monday's The Daily Show.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jindal Supports Intelligent Design as Part of School Curricula

Some say Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is on John McCain's short list for VP candidates. In fact, Newt Gringrich even said that Jindal would be the best choice for McCain.

Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation, Jindal, the 37-year-old son of Indian immigrants, commented on intelligent design:
Bob Reid: But how about you personally? Where do you stand personally on the issue?

Gov. Jindal: As a parent, when my kids go to schools, when they go to public schools, I want them to be presented with the best thinking. I want them to be able to make decisions for themselves. I want them to see the best data. I personally think that the life, human life and the world we live in wasn't created accidentally. I do think that there's a creator. I'm a Christian. I do think that God played a role in creating not only earth, but mankind. Now, the way that he did it, I'd certainly want my kids to be exposed to the very best science. I don't want them to be--I don't want any facts or theories or explanations to be withheld from them because of political correctness. The way we're going to have smart, intelligent kids is exposing them to the very best science and let them not only decide, but also let them contribute to that body of knowledge. That's what makes the scientific process so exciting. You get to go there and find facts and data and test what's come before you and challenge those theories.
Read the full transcript (.PDF) here.

Watch the video is from CBS’s Face the Nation, broadcast June 15, 2008. Jindal's statements on intelligent design are around 6 minutes into the clip.


Will Voters "Fall" for McCain's Tax Cuts for the Wealthy? FNS Thinks So

This week the non-partisan Tax Policy Center took a look at the tax policies outlined by candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. Despite the fact that the report states that middle-income families will receive nearly 3x the tax cuts with Obama's plan than with McCain's plan, and despite the obvious perks for the wealthy in McCain's plan, Fox News Sunday believes that middle-class voters will end up believing that Obama's plan amounts to a tax hike for them.

The report states that families making between $37,595 and $66,354 annually would get an average tax cut of $1,042 per family with Obama; with McCain the cut would be $319, the report states.

Additionally, the report finds that 23% of McCain’s tax cuts go to the wealthiest Americans, those making more than $2.8 million a year. His plan would give this group an average tax cut of $270,000. Meanwhile, Obama would raise taxes for these wealthy families by an average $700,000 a year.

The report (.PDF) concludes by saying:
The Obama tax plan would make the tax system significantly more progressive by providing large tax breaks to those at the bottom of the income scale and raising taxes significantly on upper-income earners. The McCain tax plan would make the tax system more regressive, even compared with a system in which the 2001–06 tax cuts are made permanent. It would do so by providing relatively little tax relief to those at the bottom of the income scale while providing huge tax cuts to households at the very top of the income distribution.
I would be amazed to see middle-income earners think that giving the rich more tax burden is bad. The only people who should see this as a tax increase are the wealthy - who can afford it.

Despite this, on Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol said:
He can say it's only a tax on the wealthy, but I think a lot of voters think we've been down that road with the Democrats before. If there's a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, will they keep that $250,000 or will they creep down trying to get more revenues. I think the tax issue is now setting up well for McCain.
Listen to the exchange after that:
Juan Williams: One last thing on this economic thing. I think if you say to most Americans the tax cut is going, simply a matter of not continuing President Bush's tax cuts in 2010, they don't view that as raising taxes. That's the wealthy who might say that, but it's not on average people who are feeling higher gas taxes; it's not on average people who have to pay more for food. It's almost like you guys are out of touch with what ordinary Americans are going through in this country at this time. People want government to respond to need and not simply to talk about more tax breaks for the rich and for big corporations.

Brit Hume: That’s what McCain’s doing, for sure. He’s saying, I want more tax cuts for big corporations, and I want the rich to get richer off the tax code. Oh, what baloney. That’s not what it’s about at all.
Groan. It's not? The fact and numbers are clear. Oh, and let's not forget: all these pundits on these TV shows: they qualify for the tax increases, so what would you expect them to say? BTW, Juan, thanks for bringing up the class divide: it's not just these pundits that are out of touch; it's our politicians. Let's not forget where most of them would end up on the income scale.

I sincerely hope that Americans are smart enough to look at the numbers and see through the McCain plan.

Finally, this is another case of something for nothing: you can't have it. If you want to keep this country running, you can't keep cutting taxes, particularly to the wealthy. Someone has to pay for the infrastructure and running of this country. Or would you rather such things be paid for with lives, as in the Minnesota bridge collapse last year?

Watch the FNS video:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Elian Gonzalez Joins Cuba's "Young Communist Union"

Does anyone remember Elian Gonzalez? He was six when relatives in Miami lost their battle to keep him in the U.S. It was incredibly high-profile news. A well-known, striking image from the affair (in fact, Alan Diaz's Pulitzer Prize winning photograph) is shown above.

In December of last year, Fidel Castro called Gonzalez and wished him a happy birthday. Now reports are that Gonzalez has reportedly joined Cuba's Young Communist Union.

Communist youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde said in its Sunday edition he was among 18,000 people who joined the Young Communist Union on Saturday. Additionally, it quoted him as saying he will never let down ex-President Fidel Castro and his brother Raul.

Gonzalez is now 14 years old.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Can Anyone Make McCain Exciting? Stephen Colbert's Latest Green Screen Challenge

Stephen Colbert's first "Green Screen Challenge" to viewers was to enhance a clip of Colbert wielding a lightsaber in front of a green screen. While that was a difficult enough challenge, he has issued a far more arduous one: "Stephen Colbert's Make McCain Exciting Challenge!."

Viewers need to replace the green screen behind John McCain during one of his speeches with something with something that will make him seem exciting.

The only more difficult task I could think of would be a challenge to make George W. Bush seem literate.

Colbert's challenge is below. And he enhanced it himself to show us all how to do it. As he said
I don't want to bog you down with TV technical jargon, but Jesus basically made green a magical color.
Colbert's sample shows a lion stalking McCain.
So last week I answered McCain's call and spiced up his speech. Look out Senator! There's a lion right behind you! Get out of there!
As shown below, Colbert already has entrants. I loved Drew Hudson's! But it won't be easy. As Colbert said:
I want to make "Make McCain Exciting" the clarion call of your generation. Just like "Beat the Nazis" or "Put a man on the moon." But only this will be much much harder.
Here's the footage. Download and have at it. Based on past challenges, I can't wait to see what people come up with.

Friday, June 13, 2008

S.C. Lt. Gov. Willing to Put in Own Money to Fund "I Believe" Plates

You'll recall the "I Believe" plates (sample to the right) that should be showing up soon in South Carolina. Although the bill became law, it did so without the support of Governor Mark Sanford, a Republican, who said in a letter to Glenn F. McConnell, president pro tem of the Senate and a fellow Republican:
"While I do, in fact, ‘believe,’ it is my personal view that the largest proclamation of one’s faith ought to be in how one lives one’s life.”
Meanwhile, however, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer is more supportive. Noting that the state must collect either a $4,000 deposit or 400 prepaid orders, he said Thursday he is willing to put up the money, then get reimbursed.

Although the ACLU is considering suing over the law, Bauer isn't scared. "People who support Judeo-Christian values are ever under fire now," Bauer said. "It's like they expect folks who are believers just to roll over because they're scared of the ACLU."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

McCain Admits Computer Illiteracy

it's interesting that this video has been around for some time, but I haven't really heard much about it, and had to have a friend bring it to my attention.

Obviously I don't think we should choose a president solely on the basis of his computer literacy, but it is rather a sad statement on our government. More on that later. The following Yahoo! Election video shows that most GOP candidates prefer the PC.

Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul prefer the PC, and Mitt Romney has one as well, but he says he's going to switch to Mac because of his sons' preference. When McCain was asked, he said:
Neither. I am an illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all the assistance I can get.



Now, as I said, there's more to it than that, but I've commented on the age of many in our government before, not just McCain. And how things like computers and the Internet escape the knowledge of people who can write legislation affecting them (like Ted Stevens and his "tubes").

Many of these people are as old as our grandparents. Would you want your grandparents running the country. Personally, there should be an upper-age-limit on government officials. Once these guys get in, if they are not term'ed out, they keep winning no matter how senile they become.

You can't expect me to believe Strom Thurmond was "all there" toward the end of this career.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

McCain condoms pitched as "Old but not expired"

Well, one could call it a way to combine political awareness with HIV-awareness. Or one could just call it a humorous way to make a buck. The Practice Safe Policy website is selling both John McCain and Barack Obama condoms, from their sister sites, McCainCondoms.com and ObamaCondoms.com.

The McCain site says these condoms are "old but not expired," while the Obama site says "who says experience is necessary?"

Both site sell a package of two for $9.95, but shipping is an additional $3. PayPal is accepted.

For McCain:
Give your "troops" the protection they deserve, buy McCain Condoms today! This will turn out to be the ultimate collectors item or a perfect gift for grandpa!
  • Trophy wife approved
  • For the proud, liberal Republican -- conservative Republican
For Obama:
These are uncertain times. The economy's a ball-buster and the surge went flaccid... but now there's Obama Condoms, for a change you can believe in!
  • For the elitist penis
  • They won't leave a bitter taste in your mouth
  • When you just want to close the deal
Well, based on the commentary, it looks like the site is bi-partisan. Or non-partisan, rather. They pick on each candidate equally.

Obviously neither campaign is affiliated with these sites. Click the above image to see Obama's "ad."

McCain Again Pledges to Keep Troops in Iraq

On Monday's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams interviewed John McCain, and discussed, among other things, his plans for Iraq.
Brian Williams: "The videotape clip of your comment about being in Iraq 100 years if need be, of course, is still kicking around. You've since given a speech to more closely define your position on Iraq. But given your support for the surge and where you believe this nation is in Iraq today, where do you see it going and will your support be there for however many U.S. troops are required?"

McCain: "Yes. And the fact is we are winning in Iraq. And the fact is if we had done what Sen. Obama had wanted we would have faced defeat and we'd have faced chaos, increased Iranian influence in the region, more conflicts there and the United States sooner or later would have had to come back with greater sacrifice. We are winning in Iraq, those are the facts on the ground."
He also noted that Americans want a break from their gasoline taxes, which is true - if said Americans don't do the math. After all most economists say the tax will amount to little if anything to consumers, but it will increase the U.S. budget deficit. And we should all remember this gasoline tax goes to infrastructure repair. We can't have things without paying for it, but many seem to want it that way.

Check out this video from NBC Nightly News from Monday night, about 7:40 into the clip.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gibson to Black Caller: "You just like him (Obama) because he's like you and you want to see one of you up there"

On his Fox News Radio show last Friday, John Gibson told a caller that he only liked Barack Obama "because he's like you and you want to see one of you up there."

After "Thomas" spoke favorably of Obama, but couldn't really say why, at least in terms of Obama's positions, Gibson said:

GIBSON: Well, I mean -- but that's the point, Thomas, isn't it? I mean, when I say, look -- I criticize Obama over his friends, [Rev. Jeremiah] Wright and [Rev. Michael] Pfleger and [Rev. James] Meeks and the terrorist bomber and, you know, sidling up to [Louis] Farrakhan and stuff like that, somebody like you, Thomas, will call me and say "Hey, deal with the issues." I start dealing with the issues, I ask you about it, and you haven't dealt with the issues. You don't know what Barack Obama stands for. You just like him because he's -- he's -- he's like you and you want to see one of you up there, and you don't care what he stands for. Is it OK if I care what he stands for?

span style="font-weight: bold;">CALLER: Well, listen, he's not one of me, he's [unintelligible] he himself. He's not one of me just because he's a black guy or something like that. That doesn't make him one of me. He's standing for him, not me.

ANGRY RICH (show producer): Well, then have a clue what you're talking about.

GIBSON: Well, I'll tell you what, Thomas. If that is your position, that you are one of the 8 percent that voted for somebody else or didn't vote for Obama because you're proud that he's a black guy and that's the first time it's ever happened, you are among a small minority of black guys in this country, because that is all I've heard for day after day after day.


Listen to the clip:

74% of GOP Lawmakers Believe Global Warming is Not Man-Made: Poll

In its latest "Congressional Insiders Poll," the National Journal questioned 39 Democratic lawmakers and 39 GOP lawmakers about whether they believe global warming is man-made.

The question: "Do you think it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made pollution?"











It's amazing that the percentage of Democrats actually went down, but it's also amazing that as many of the GOP continue to - perhaps not believe, but at least assert - that global warming is not man-made.

One interesting comment from the Democratic side, in the nay category:
"[Evidence is conflicting on whether] warming is man-made, but there shouldn't be any doubt that a man-made solution is needed. The trend won't reverse on its own."
And that's what I keep saying. Stop arguing about the cause; the fact is that we need to do something about it.

Oh, and he's a stupid comment from the nay side on the GOP front:
"It's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Democrats are OK with the idea of surrendering our spot atop the world economy."
What good is an economy if the world is unliveable? Personally, I feel it's the "it ain't going to affect me, so what do I care?" type of mentality that is the real argument here. Hey, what about your children and grandchildren?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Mike Huckabee Saves Someone, But Not the Way You May Think

Much has been made over Mike Huckabee's faith and the fact that he's an ordained Southern Baptist minister. However, Saturday, when he saved someone, he didn't save their soul, but their life.

Robert Pittenger, Republican candidate for North Carolina lieutenant governor, started choking at a lunch Saturday. Pittenger said he was laughing when he choked on some food.

"I stood up and the governor came over and did the Heimlich and got the relief."

Pittenger said the food was dislodged when Huckabee applied the familiar Heimlich squeeze to his midsection. And, Pittenger added, "He called me in the car as I was driving home to make sure I was OK."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

South Carolina to Offer "I Believe" License Plates, Emblazoned With Cross

Well, here's something that's bound to create a ton of conflict. South Carolina has passed a law which took effect Thursday which will offer to residents license plates carrying the phrase “I Believe” and a Christian cross over a stained-glass window. Critics, including both the ACLU and the American Jewish Congress said they were considering legal action, charging that the license plate represents an illegal state endorsement of religion.

Interesting, the law was enacted, per the S.C. Constitution, without the signature of Governor Mark Sanford, a Republican, who said in a letter to Glenn F. McConnell, president pro tem of the Senate and a fellow Republican:
"While I do, in fact, ‘believe,’ it is my personal view that the largest proclamation of one’s faith ought to be in how one lives one’s life.”
A proposal for an “I believe” plate in Florida failed in April (a sample plate from Florida is pictured to the right).

Dr. T. Jeremey Gunn, director of the A.C.L.U. Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said:
“The whole issue here is that people are trying to get the state to endorse their religion, and that’s wrong. It’s almost as if there’s insufficient support, and they have to go to the state to get it.”
And Reverend Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State said:
"I think the state of South Carolina has has virtually put up a giant red flag with the words 'sue us' on it, and this is something that is being contemplated right now, as we speak."

Watch the NBC Nightly News report:

Saturday, June 7, 2008

DeLay: "Unless Obama Proves Me Wrong, He is a Marxist."

Thursday, on right-wing host Mike Gallagher’s radio show, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay claimed that Obama is a Marxist.
GALLAGHER: There are reports of dissent within the Obama camp, that they don’t want to have a Clinton on the ticket. Listen, if their pride gets in the way, because I’m with ya, I think that they ought to recognize what she could do for them. But if they reject her, I think John McCain — that’s going to be good news for Sen. McCain.

DELAY: Oh I think it’s good news for Sen. McCain, the other weakness that he [Obama] has is that nobody knows him. And if McCain does not define him as what he is — hey, I have said publicly, and I will again, that unless he proves me wrong, he is a Marxist.

GALLAGHER: Yeah, that’s, we hear that everyday. Congressman, every day someone will say to me, and I’ve said it, it’s as if this were a guy who’s desperately trying to cover up what seems to be the kind of old school Marxist, radical liberal failed ideology.

DELAY: Absolutely.

GALLAGHER: That’s what he is.

DELAY: No doubt about it.

GALLAGHER: And John McCain, it’s incumbent upon John McCain to point that out because if he doesn’t, people are going to get enamored with this guy the way they did.
I hesitate to believe that DeLay even knows the definition of Marxism. In fact, it's:
While there are many theoretical and practical differences among the various forms of Marxism, most forms of Marxism share:
  • a belief that capitalism is based on the exploitation of workers by the owners of capital
  • a belief that people's consciousness of the conditions of their lives reflects the dominant ideology which is in turn shaped by material conditions and relations of production
  • an understanding of class in terms of differing relations of production, and as a particular position within such relations
  • an understanding of material conditions and social relations as historically malleable
  • a view of history according to which class struggle, the evolving conflict between classes with opposing interests, structures each historical period and drives historical change
  • a belief that this dialectical historical process will ultimately result in a replacement of the current class structure of society with a system that manages society for the good of all, resulting in the dissolution of the class structure and its support (more often than not including the nation state)
The main points of contention among Marxists are the degree to which they are committed to a workers' revolution as the means of achieving human emancipation and enlightenment, and the actual mechanism through which such a revolution might occur and succeed.
Please, does that really sound like Democratic ideology? Or Obama-ism?

On the other hand, let's not forget that DeLay is currently facing charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Chilling Video Shows Hit-and-Run Accident, Callous Bystanders

I've complained before about people only caring about themselves nowadays, and this is sure an example of it. Police have released a video of 78-year-old Angel Arce Torres being hit, run over, and left to lie in the street by bystanders who did nothing to help. The accident occurred on May 30th, and police hope the video will help them track down the offenders.

Watching the video, you can see it's around 5:45 PM in Hartford, Connecticut. Torres had just purchased milk at a local grocery. As he crosses the street (yes, it does appear he was jaywalking), he is struck by a dark Honda that was chasing a tan Toyota. The cars vanish down a side street after he is hit.

Several cars pass him while he lies in the street, and while bystanders gather, no one goes to help him. How callous has our society become?

Police Chief Daryl Roberts said, "At the end of the day we've got to look at ourselves and understand that our moral values have now changed. We have no regard for each other."

Yep, that's what I've said before.

Torres is paralyzed and remains in critical condition in Hartford Hospital. His son, Angel Arce, asked for help, as did the police, with the release of this video.

"My father is fighting for his life," he said. "I would like the public right now to help us in identifying the car and the person that did this."

It's obviously not a detailed video - but if anyone can help, please do. These people ran him down and left him to die. They deserve the same treatment, in my book.

Watch the video:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Iraqi Parliament Members: 70% of Iraqis Want U.S. Withdrawal

Wednesday, the House of Representatives hosted two members of the Iraqi Parliament in order “to hear their assessment of the proposed U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement.” That agreement, proposed by the Bush Administration, would permit U.S. combat forces in Iraq for an unspecified period of time.

Part of their testimony was very interesting. When discussing a possible withdrawal from Iraq, one of the Parliamentarians indicated 70% of the Iraqi public wants the U.S. to withdraw.
Ron Paul: What percent of the Iraqi people would agree with us leaving under those circumstances?

Nadeem Al-Jaberi: I ask you to perhaps have a referendum, and that will tell you the truth.

Paul: So you have no idea. You have no idea. Maybe only 5 percent would support us leaving. You have to have an idea.

Al-Jaberi: Of course not. The majority of the people of Iraq are with the withdrawal. … Perhaps even about 70 percent.

It's actually been said for a long time that the Iraqi people view us as occupiers, and want it out, and out now. So this really shouldn't be a surprise. But that's not all. Paul also asked about the much-criticized U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. 104 acres, $700 million, 3,000 employees, 27 building. The response?
Al-Jaberi: It is certainly larger than the diplomatic mission for which it has arrived for. … I mean why do we need 3,000 employees in an embassy in Iraq if we consider it as a diplomatic mission like any other diplomatic mission? From the principle of reciprocity, would it be appropriate for Iraqis to establish a 3,000 employee embassy in Washington? … It certainly would not be a very positive signal to the Iraqi people.
You can watch the exchange by playing this file in RealPlayer. Paul's exchange with Al-Jaberi begins about 1:11 into the video.

Optimus Prime on T-Shirt Leads to Airport Detainment

What did FDR say? "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror." We've allowed ourselves to fear, and thus, the terrorists may already have won a victory - not the war, but a victory.

Brad Jayakody, 30, from London, was stopped from passing through security at Heathrow's Terminal 5 after his Transformers T-shirt was deemed "offensive." Offensive? His shirt had a picture of Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots on the front.

Jayakody said the a guard started joking with him about the Transformers character depicted on his T-shirt. "Then he explains that since Megatron is holding a gun, I'm not allowed to fly. It's a 40ft tall cartoon robot with a gun as an arm. There is no way this shirt is offensive in any way, and what I'm going to use the shirt to pretend I have a gun?"

To avoid an issue Jayakody wore another shirt.

I'm wondering if the guard had known it was Optimus Prime and not Megatron (a bad guy for those not in the know) it would have made a difference?

A spokesperson for BAA said:
"If a T-shirt had a rude word or a bomb on it, for example, a passenger may be asked to remove it. We are investigating what happened to see if it came under this category. If it's offensive, we don't want other passengers upset."
Hmmm. I would think only a Decepticon fan would be upset, but ...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cheney's West Virginia Incest Joke "Relatively" Bad

On Monday, VP Dick Cheney joked about West Virginia, but not in a way that would win any fans. Still, as he said:
"You can say those things when you're not running for re-election."
As we know from my prior post, Cheney and Barack Obama are distantly related. While speaking about this during a speech at the National Press Club, Cheney noted that he had Cheneys on both sides of his family, as discovered by his wife Lynne while she researched her book, Blue Skies, No Fences, noting:
"So I had Cheneys on both sides of the family and we don't even live in West Virginia."
Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia said:
"That a man who has ascended to the seat of Vice President of the United States would openly display such contempt and astounding ignorance toward his own countrymen is an insult to all Americans. Now that he or the Administration he represents no longer needs their vote, Mr. Cheney apparently feels that he is now free to mock and belittle the people of West Virginia. With his trademark arrogance, the Vice President even added 'You can say those things when you're not running for re-election.'"

"This pitiful comment is not entirely surprising when you consider the source. Vice President Cheney's words reflect the attitude of an administration and a party that says what they must to get elected and then turns their backs on those they promised to represent."
It should be noted that Robert Byrd was hospitalized on Monday night, after feeling ill at home.

Meanwhile, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin said:
"I truly cannot believe that any vice president of the United States, regardless of their political affiliation, would make such a derogatory statement about my state or any state for that matter," Machin said in a statement. "West Virginia is home to some of the most patriotic people in the nation and our sons and daughters have answered the call to duty every time a president has needed their service. They deserve better from the vice president, and so I would simply ask for his apology."
Through a spokeswoman, Cheney apologized, with Lea Anne McBride saying:
"The Vice President's offhand comment was not meant to hurt anyone. On reflection, he concluded that it was an inappropriate attempt at humor that he should not have made. The Vice President apologizes to the people of West Virginia for the inappropriate remark."

McCain's Latest Senior Moment: "I Will Win in January"

Ah yes, another reminder of John McCain's age: another McCain senior moment. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't remind you that if McCain wins he'll be the oldest President in terms of his age in his first term.

At a campaign rally in Nashville Monday, McCain said:
“If we do everything right - and we can and we will - I will win in January, and I will be the next President of the United States.”
Good luck winning in January, McCain. The election is in November.

Watch the clip:

Monday, June 2, 2008

Obama Resigns from His Church After Continuing Controversy

On Friday, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, wrote a letter to Trinity United Church of Christ's current pastor, Rev. Otis Moss III, announcing their resignation from the church.

Obama's decision to leave his church after 20 years followed months of controversy over comments by the church's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright - as well as more recent racially charged remarks from the same pulpit by a guest preacher, the Rev. Michael Pfleger.

In a statement Obama made to reporters, he said:
"It was going to be very difficult to continue our membership there as long as I was running for president. The recent episode with Father Pfleger just reinforced the view that we don't want to have to answer for everything that's stated in a church. On the other hand, we also don't want a church subjected to the scrutiny that a presidential campaign legitimately undergoes."
Obama also stated that he wouldn't be choosing a new church for himself and his family until after the November elections.

It's interesting to note that despite the fact that his whole series of events surrending his church were highly publicized, polls continue to show that many Americans still believe he is a practicing Muslim.

McClellan: Rove Should Have Been Fired Over Plame Affair

Continuing to make the rounds of new shows, Scott McClellan appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday. As he spoke about the Valerie Plame affair, which McClellan previously said was the beginning of his disillusionment with regards to the Bush Administration, he commented on Karl Rove, as well as President Bush's statement that anyone involved would be fired.

You'll recall that in 2003, McClellan himself stated the following in a press conference:
... that suggests White House involvement. There are anonymous reports all the time in the media. The President has set high standards, the highest of standards for people in his administration. He's made it very clear to people in his administration that he expects them to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.
Today on Meet the Press, he said:
MR. RUSSERT: The president said at the time that "if someone committed a crime, they'd no longer work in my administration." Do you believe the president should have fired Karl Rove?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's a, that's a question that the president had to make, and he chose not to.

MR. RUSSERT: But what do you think?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I, I think he should have stood by his word. I think the president should have stood by the word that we said, which is if you were involved in this any way, then you would no longer be in this administration. And Karl was involved in it. That would be a tough decision. I don't know if, if there was any crime committed. I don't--I say I just don't know that in the book. But we had higher standards at the White House. The president said he was going to restore honor, integrity. He said we were going to set the highest of standards. We didn't live up to that. When it became known that his top adviser had been involved, then the bar was moved. And the bar was moved to "if anyone is indicted, they would no longer be here."

MR. RUSSERT: So you think they should've been dismissed.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think so. I mean, Scooter Libby was, and I, and I think that he should...

MR. RUSSERT: Well, he resigned. But you...

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. But that was pushed out.

MR. RUSSERT: But you believe Rove--Rove should've, should've left?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the president should've stood by his word, and that meant Karl should've left.
Watch the video; the above exchange is about 3 1/2 minutes into the clip.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Marine Earns Reassignment by Passing Out "Bible Coins" in Fallujah

And people wonder why Iraqis look askance at us. We aren't in Iraq as missionaries, and this sort of action, no matter what the intent, is bound to produce anger in a country that already looks upon us as occupiers.

On Thursday the U.S. military confirmed that a Marine in Fallujah had passed out coins with a Gospel verse on them to Sunni Muslims at a checkpoint. The man was immediately removed from the checkpoint and reassigned. This followed a McClatchy newspaper report on the coins.

"It did happen," said Mike Isho, a spokesman for Multi National Forces West. "It's one guy and we're investigating." Marines at the western gate of Fallujah were searched, he said and one was found with the coins.

The coins had Arabic translations of a Bible verse on them. On one side, the coin read, "Where will you spend eternity?" and on the other, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16."

Despite the fact that the military states this was an isolated incident - and it probably is - this sort of thing will just fuel the fire and possibly increase the activity - or resolve - of insurgents.

Sheikh Mohammed Amin Abdel Hadi said:
"We say to the occupiers to stop this. This can cause strife between the Iraqis and especially between Muslim and Christians . ... Please stop these things and leave our homes because we are Muslims and we live in our homes in peace with other religions."
Before anyone says the Iraqis are upset over nothing, think of it this way: how would you feel if the situation was reversed and you passed through a checkpoint in the U.S. with military "occupiers" handing out coins with Muslim verses on them? Wouldn't you be insulted and angry?