Thursday, July 31, 2008

Torture is in the Eye of the Beholder

While Stephen Colbert joked about this on Tuesday night's show, he's actually quite correct. After all, much of the argument over our "enhanced interrogation techniques" is that we don't know the definition of torture.

My answer to that faux logic has always been: if it was done to you and you thought it was torture then, perhaps screaming for your mother: that would be torture. Unfortunately, none of the decision makers (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Mukasey) has had the guts to try it out.

Anyway, on his show, Colbert said the following:
Nation, there hasn't been a terrorist attack on US soil in seven years, which means --- we're in more danger than ever. It is like a slot machine that hasn't paid out in months. We've already crammed billions of dollars -- and the Constitution -- into it, so it's due. We must use every tool to keep America safe. That includes what I call 'enhanced interrogation techniques' -- for the same reason I call hitting cyclists with my car an 'enhanced turn signal.' Now, some people out there call this torture. Luckily, the Bush administration doesn't.

Which brings us to tonight's word: Honest Belief.

Folks, I believe the most brutal perpetrators of torture are the ACLU. Need proof? They recently coerced secret information out of the Bush Administration. Specifically a torture memo written by the Justice Department in August 2002. It is a real page-turner, in that you have to turn a lot of pages to get to the ones that haven't been redacted.

It says that an interrogator cannot be prosecuted for torture if he acted with 'an honest belief that his actions will not result in severe pain or suffering.'

This proves the administration does respect human rights -- the human rights of interrogators. Little known fact: torture is illegal, and folks, our interrogators need assurance that they're not going to end up in prison over some obscure legal loophole. This memo protects them by saying torture is all in the eye of the beholder.
Watch the entire video:

GOP Blocks Aid for Paralyzed Vets Bill

Support our troops? How about continuing support after they are injured?

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Act, named for the late Christopher Reeve, Superman actor who was later paralyzed and his late wife, was passed by the House of Representatives last year but not by the Senate.

The latest attempt to pass the bill, which has, according to the Navy Times, continued to be blocked by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) through the use procedural means (such as filibusters), involved bundling it in as one of 36 bills into the Advancing America’s Priorities Act.

Most of these bills were thought be be non-contentious.

However, the vote failed 50 - 42 on Tuesday, falling short of the 60 necessary to block said filibuster.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Act has the backing of Paralyzed Veterans of America and would have provided $25 million for clinical research on spinal cord injuries, rehabilitation research and programs to improve the quality of life of people who are paralyzed.

Lee Page, associate advocacy director for Paralyzed Veterans for America said:

“We have a war with many veterans who suffer some from spinal cord injuries or paralysis.”

Meanwhile, the GOP seems to think that gasoline prices are far more important than improving the lives of veterans. According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
"They're using every trick to get us away from dealing with high gas prices."
So now veterans are a trick?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blackwater a Small Business? Receives Millions in Small Business Contracts ...

Too bad it doesn't qualify as a small business. According to a report issued Monday by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Small Business Administration (SBA), Blackwater was awarded more than $110 million in SBA contracts between 2005 and 2007, most of which were designated for businesses just a tad smaller than Blackwater.

The contracts in question were set aside for companies with annual revenues of $6.5 million or less. According to federal contracting data, Blackwater's revenues exceeded $200 million each of those years. There were 39 total SBA contracts noted, with 32 of them in the above categories.

Just last week, Blackwater said it's on track to reach annual revenues of $1 billion per year by 2010.

That's just the start: the OIG also, according to McClatchy,
found fault with the handling of aviation contracts worth $107 million that the Defense Department awarded Blackwater. The contract was set aside either for a company with less than $25.5 million in annual revenue, or a company with less than 1,500 employees.
The audit was requested in March by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

My only comment would be that Blackwater seems to be becoming the Wal-Mart of mercenary armies.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hello, (Wrong) Larry! Larry Craig Accidentally Put on Obama Buttons

Oops. While Larry Craig (he of the Marriage Protection Amendment as well as the now infamous bathroom sting) is many things, he's not (thank goodness for Obama) a Barack Obama supporter. Apparently the printer made a mistake and put the wrong Larry on the button. They wanted to show Obama beside Larry LaRocco, the Democratic candidate in Idaho for U.S. Senate, the Lewiston Tribune reported.

The buttons were not ordered by either Obama nor LaRocco, but were instead made by a commercial firm that makes campaign memorabilia involving Democratic races around the country, according to reports.

Mistakes like these are oftgen collector's items, and even Bill Hall, editor emeritus of the Tribune's editorial page was aware of that: he bought 10 from the Tigereye Design's Web site before they were pulled and fixed.
"I realized it was a mistake, like finding a coin that's been damaged in the making, so I quickly ordered 10 of them."
Not sure just how much something with Larry Craig on it would be worth but if Obama wins in the fall, these buttons might be worth quite a bit. Ebay, anyone?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fox: Romney as McCain's VP Might Cast Attention on McCain's Lack of Economic Knowledge

Fox's Chris Wallace asked Brit Hume to consider John McCain's potential running mates. Hume went through a list of choices, saying that McCain would go with safe choices, that he wasn't far enough behind to go for the "long ball," and that he certainly wouldn't pick anyone older than him (is there such a possibility?).

Wallace: And what do you think about what seems to be the front-runner at least in conventional wisdom, Mitt Romney?

Hume: Well, he'd be an attractive choice; he brings some experience, he brings his knowledge of the business world, but it might look like another way of McCain stating again he doesn't know much about the economy.

This video is from Fox's Fox News Sunday, broadcast July 27, 2008 as posted by Raw Story.

Fox News Uses White House-Submitted "Talking Points": McClellan

As if we needed confirmation (but it's always nice to get it), Friday night on MSNBC's Hardball, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan gave us the confirmation we've expected:
McClellan: Certainly there were commentators and other, pundits at FOX News, that were helpful to the White House, and certainly we got talking points to those people.

Chris Matthews: So people would say "Call Sean, Call Bill, call whoever," did you do that as a regular thing?

McClellan: It wasn't necessarily something I was doing, but it was something that we at the White House, yes, were doing, getting them talking points, and making sure they knew where we were coming from.

Matthews: Now this is important: you were using these commentators as your spokespeople.

McClellan: Well certainly, I think that happens both ways, when people go on other networks as well that are favorable to the Democrats.

Matthews: No one's ever fed me any crap like that, so I don't know what you're talking about.

McClellan: Well, you're an independent-minded guy.

Matthews: I, I, thank you. But aren't you a little embarrassed byt the fact that your White House used a television network which is purportedly "fair and balanced" as your mouthpiece.

McClellan: I think everybody in this town uses people that are gonna be helpful to their cause to try to shape the narrative to their advantage.

Matthews: But a whole network?

McClellan: Again, I would separate the journalists.

Matthews: So, you wouldn’t use Brit Hume to sell stuff for them, but you’d use some of the nighttime guys?

McClellan:
Yeah, I would separate that out, and certainly I, you know, they’ll say, that’s because they agree with those views in the White House.

Matthews:
Well, they didn’t need a script though, did they?

McClellan: Well, probably not.
Keith Olbermann, who was commenting on the exchange on his own show, continued.
Fox has always maintained, with more or less a straight face, that it was striving for some sort of journalistic objectivity. Over the phone tonight, Scott McClellan told us it was done frequently, especially on high-profile issues, and Countdown asked if Fox ever gave the White House it's desired results; Scott said yes.

We asked the White House about McClellan's statements on Hardball; current Press Secretary Dana Perino said "I'm not aware of that," and declined to comment further.
Watch the video, shown Friday, July 25th on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

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Fox's "Anti-Aging Fix" for McCain

Much has been made about John McCain's age, but Faux News appears to have a simple cure for that: use old video footage.

MSNBC's Dan Abrams let us know it goes beyond airbrushing on Thursday:
If you have any question whether Fox News is in the tank for McCain, this should wipe any doubt from your mind. Fox is actually trying to make John McCain look younger. This is their coverage of McCain on the campaign trail today. Take a good look at the senator in the video they use.
While Fox's narration says it was footage of McCain from that day, even I could see, as it flashed quickly by, the McCain 2000 blurb on a placard.
Fox is actually using 8-year-old video to discuss today's activities. Video from the 2000 campaign. They report, you decide.
Remember the flak over those pictures of Hillary Clinton during the campaign, the ones that made her look really old? Check out McCain's age spots above.

Watch the video, from MSNBC's Verdict, broadcast July 24, 2008.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stein, Beck Compare Obama to Hitler, Mussolini --- Because of His Popularity?

Wow, and this was a segment from CNN, not from Faux News, where I would have expected it.

Barack Obama has announced that he will accept the Democratic nomination at INVESCO Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Glenn Beck and conservative commentator Ben Stein tried to cast a negative light on this.
Stein: "75,000 people in an outdoor sports palace, well, that's something the Fuhrer would have done."

Beck: "I've been saying that we're headed towards a Mussolini-style presidency, forever. I mean, it's crazy."

Stein: "75,000 people screaming in an outdoor arena? That's just too much, I mean, it's scarily authoritarian."
Mussolini and Hitler were both fascists, and people seem to throw about terms like fascism and socialism without a clue as to what it means. Fascism is (Dictionary.com):
a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
As MSNBC host Dan Abrams said: "Are they kidding? I mean, a lot of people want to see Obama and that's bad?"

75,000 people in a stadium = fascism and The Fuhrer. Does this mean we can compare the Beatles to Hitler?

Watch the video, from MSNBC's Verdict, broadcast July 24, 2008.

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McCain Yanks "Obama Love" Video

Did John McCain run afoul of copyright? His "Obama Love" video, which according to Unruly Media's Viral Video tracking service, was #1 this week (bitmap above since it will change next week), has been removed from both his campaign's website and his YouTube channel.

Hard to believe he'd remove such a popular video without some external prodding. The video, still available on YouTube as uploaded by a third-party (at least for now) featured the Frankie Vallie and The Four Seasons hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." Does this imply that Frankie Valli is an Obama supporter? Photobucket

There were two versions of the video, only one of which featured the Valli tune, but both appear to have been taken down.

Watch the Valli version:

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fox News: "We're Being Accused of Brainwashing Troops Overseas"

Heck, I don't know if they are brainwashing troops overseas, who, according to reports from the field during Barack Obama's tour of the Middle East and Europe, constantly have Faux News on, but it's sure suspicious that they seem to be the only news channel over there.

Speaking about a reference to Fox News by Obama, Steve Doocy noted that when Obama was asked about reactions from the troops to his trip, he said:
'Well, you know, wherever I go, Fox is on and Major Garrett over there is on all the time. And then he continued, Gretch.

Gretchen Carlson: Well, when Obama asked why Fox has the hookup -- he called it 'the hookup' -- he also implied that it was the commander-in-chief's choice to have Fox News there and he asked Major Garrett if that was the case, and Major said 'No idea who's choice it is.'

Andrea Mitchell from NBC then chimed in, 'It started with this administration.' Obama smiles, and then Jake Tapper from ABC adds, 'I wonder what cable network you'll pick?'

I guess that's another anointing of Barack Obama as president before the election in November, since now we're talking about what cable channel he may be picking for the troops.

Brian Kilmeade: And it looks like we're being accused in a fun, smiley way of brainwashing our troops overseas who have no choice and aren't given the clicker, who can't flip around.
Following up, Carlson asked former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani about the issue:

I'm surprised that Barack Obama is surprised about that. If he has any understanding of how American troops think, it would be natural that a large percentage of them would watch Fox. The sense is that Fox covers the war in Iraq and the situation in Iraq in a more balanced way. I think that troops believe that. I believe that. Other people believe something different.

But if you talk to enough of the troops there, or their officers, it's not 100%a, but you're going to see that a very large percentage of them believe they get a better shake on Fox than some of the other networks, some of which I believe they think are anti-military. It's just their feeling and you've got to deal with it; that's just reality.
Ah yes, but someone who's brainwashed will believe in whatever he's been brainwashed to believe. Photobucket

This video is from Fox's Fox & Friends, broadcast July 24, 2008.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Mukasey Contradicts Cheney, Addington: Cheney is in "Executive Branch"

While Dick Cheney and Cheney's chief-of-staff David Addington have asserted that the vice-president’s office is a separate entity that is "attached" to the legislative branch, Attorney General Michael Mukasey begs to differ.

You might ask, why is this important? Well, last year Cheney exempted his office from a presidential executive order designed to safeguard classified national security information because - if he wasn't in the executive branch - he wasn't required to follow executive orders.

While testifying before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, Mukasey said the following:
It’s my own belief that the Vice President is a member of the executive branch. … The Vice President is obviously one of the closest advisers to the president, and he is a close adviser to the president within the executive branch. That in my view is where he sits.
This would only really matter if Mukasey was going to do something, like prosecute Cheney or at least give him a slap on the wrist over the above incident - which he won't.

Still, it's funny to see that the Bush Administration doesn't have a unified message around this.

Watch a video clip:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Novak Thinks McCain May Have "Used Him;" If So, Would Be "Reprehensible"

It's not just the fact that Robert Novak made this statement that's interesting, it's that he made it on Fox News. What, no censorship over potentially embarrassing McCain news, Mr. Murdoch?

Speaking to Fox News' Martha MacCallum, Novak said:
"Let me tell you what happened. I got a suggestion from a very senior McCain aide late yesterday afternoon that he was going to announce it this week. They didn't want it to come out the way it was going to come out, and they suggested I put it out.

I then called another senior person, who said 'I can't talk about that, but wouldn't this be a terrific week to announce it,' that is, with Obama getting the headlines. So I just put something on the Internet that sources close to the McCain campaign suggested he might name it this week, but didn't disclose the name.

I since have been told by certain people that this was a dodge. They were trying to get a little publicity to rain on Obama's campaign. That's pretty reprehensible, if it's true, but we'll find out in a few days, if what I was suggested was true or if it was a scam.

...

If this was just a scam, it's a pretty shabby operation, but we'll know in a few days.
Watch the video below, as broadcast on Fox News on July 22, 2008.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bush: "Wall Street Got Drunk"

Probably not a good comment for a recovering alcoholic to make, but there it is. On Friday, June 18th, at a fundraiser for candidate Pete Olson in Houston, Bush said:
”There’s no question about it. Wall Street got drunk - that’s one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras - it got drunk and now it’s got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments.”

”And then we got a housing issue... not in Houston, and evidently not in Dallas, because Laura’s over there trying to buy a house. I like Crawford but unfortunately after eight years of sacrifice, I am apparently no longer the decision maker.”
Nice of Bush to joke about housing issues as well, considering what many Americans are going through. And it's also a good thing someone didn't listen to his entreaties to turn off the cameras.

A video report by Houston reporter Miya Shay along with Bush's remarks can be viewed below.

Michael Savage Defends Autism Comments; Aflac Pulls Ads from his Show

Last week conservative talk-show host Michael Savage (The Savage Nation) was caught putting his foot in his mouth, when he said on his July 16th show:
"I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.' If I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, 'Don't behave like a fool.' The worst thing he said -- 'Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry.' That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have."
Wait, it's almost like you're calling us a nation of whiners, Michael. Where have we hard that before?

In the same show, Savage went off on asthma victims as well, saying an epidemic among minority children was orchestrated so they could get extra welfare.

Monday night on Larry King Live, Savage attempted to defend himself to guest host Glenn Beck.
BECK: Michael Savage, I'm a guy who has been taken out of context all the time. We wanted to make sure we played a full cut. It seems pretty clear you don't really believe autism exists?

SAVAGE: No, no, no, no. Again, you took what they gave you but you didn't take the entire preceding material. Preceding this, Glenn, was a discussion of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has had the nerve to say that children as young as two years of age should be given anti-cholesterol drugs.

BECK: Right.

SAVAGE: There's been not one study about the damage this would do or potentially do to two year-olds, and yet you have had doctors come out and say these drugs should be given to the children. This was in the broader context of the over-medicalization, the over- diagnose of disease, using our children as profit centers. I've spent all day saying what a shame it is that I, as man who has spent his entire life defending the defenseless, mainly children, should have to defend myself from charges leveled at me by men who specialize in hating families and children, namely Media Matters who probably come after you as well, by ripping me out of contest and making me look like the monster that they are.

BECK: But you know, Michael, let me ask you this, I am a guy who has been taken out of context. I am a guy who has been called a monster and everything else. I understand context. Talk radio is extremely difficult to do in sound bites because it is a three-hour running monologue, especially with somebody like you. But when you say 99 percent of the cases are brats who should be told to cut the act out and not act like morons, as a dad with a child with special needs, boy that cuts right.
Media Matters specializes in hating families? And I always thought, as their website says, they were "comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media." Huh.

Meanwhile Aflac decided it didn't need further association with Savage, because they announced on Monday that they were pulling their ads from The Savage Nation. Guess the duck just couldn't stand the heat.

Watch Michael Savage on LKL:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sound Fishy? "Doctor Fish" Used for Pedicures

Fish being used to do pedicures? Well, what will they think of next?

You might have heard of fish that scavenge or pick parasites off of other fish. There are even some who mimic such scavenger fish but end up taking a huge bite out of a "patient" instead.

Garra rufa, AKA the reddish log sucker, has been used in Turkish spas to treat psoriasis patients, but here we have a less medical and more hedonistic use. The fish, which are toothless, are being used in pedicures.

Doctor Fish Massage has two locations using their services; both are outlets of Yvonne Hair, Nail, and Tan Salon. It's unclear if there's an affiliation here or not.

Doctor Fish Massage is also searching for investors (naturally).

Check out the video.

Monday, July 21, 2008

McCain: Watch that Iraq / Pakistan Border


As Barack Obama ventures into Iraq and Europe this week, John McCain continues to harp on his "lack of experience," particularly in terms of foreign policy. However, perhaps we need to focus on McCain's lack of memory. Just last week McCain spoke of Czechoslovakia, a country that hasn't existed since 1993. Today, on Good Morning, America, when asked by Diane Sawyer, McCain spoke of the situation in Afghanistan.
"It's a serious situation, but there's a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid that it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border."
The situation on such a border is difficult, particularly when such a border does not exist. Nope, there is no border between Iraq and Pakistan.

Yes, he probably just misspoke, but you know he and his followers have to be watching for any such error by Obama during his trip, so it's especially humorous.

Watch the video.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Much Like GOP Candidates at Political Events, Girl Runs Away from Bush at Tee-Ball Game

Most GOP candidates are doing their best to stay away from George W. Bush, and it appeared that at a tee-ball game hosted by Bush on Wednesday that one of the children invited to the game wanted to do the same.

When Emily from Kentucky was given her chance to meet Bush, she started to cry and ran off. As MSNBC's Hardball said, Emily was "going, going, gone," much like Bush's approval ratings: down into the dumps.

Emily appeared to be scared either by Bush or the large chipmunk mascot next to him. My bet is on Bush.

This was the 19th in a series of "Tee-Ball Initiatives," which began when Bush took office in 2001. Emily was one of 50 children invited for this event.

Watch the video:

Friday, July 18, 2008

George W. Bush Sewage Plant Naming Reaches the SF Ballot

As I wrote first in April, and then earlier this month, the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco wants to rename the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility as the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

They submitted a list of signatures to the San Francisco Department of Elections earlier this month, and as they say on their site:
The San Francisco Department of Elections has qualified our initiative to rename the sewage plant in honor of George W Bush for the Nov 4th general election. Mission Accomplished everyone! Stay tuned for more news ...
Many Republicans probably think this idea stinks. Perhaps they smell a rat. But the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco could come out smelling like a rose if they get this passed.

Boy Uses Toy Radar Gun to Slow Speeders

Who could seriously say that in these troubled times, police don't need all the help they can get? And, quite honestly, particularly in the neighborhood (no pun intended) of speeders. Even without watching TV shows such as TruTV's Speeders, all one has to do is look around to see that one reason people may not want a new 55 or even 60 MPH maximum speed limit, despite high gas prices, is that they looooove to drive fast.

Landon Wilburn, 11, grew tired of speeders zipping through his subdivision, so after growing hoarse shouting at them, he decided to take matters - or a toy radar gun - into his own hands.

According to MSNBC, he dresses in a reflective vest, wears a bicycle helmet and uses an orange Hot Wheels brand radar gun, he points and records the actual speed of passing traffic. And from what I understand, that toy gun actually does record the MPH of the cars.

"When I saw it happening, I got the biggest kick out of it," said resident George Ayers, 61. "People were locking up their brakes when they saw him."

It's not like people are barely speeding: they are apparently driving 55 in a 25 MPH zone.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

JibJab Returns: "Time for Some Campaignin'"

Amidst all the Obama Girl videos - and other YouTube videos - lampooning, criticizing, advertising for the 2008 Presidential race - where have the JibJab gang been? Well, they're back. After all, it's "Time for Some Campaignin'."

Yes, a question would be: since Bush isn't that popular at real-life GOP McCain events, how does cartoon McCain feel about cartoon Bush opening the video?

Watch and laugh.

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Disturbing Video of Omar Khadr Treatment at Gitmo

Video footage from February 2003 -- about six months after the capture of then 16-year-old Omar Khadr -- was made public Tuesday under Canadian court orders. The clip, culled from over seven hours of footage by Khadr's lawyers, was recorded by a camera hidden in a vent.

The video was created by U.S. government agents at the prison in Cuba and was originally marked as secret.

According to Khadr's lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, the video shows "a frightened boy" who should be permitted to return to Canada.

About 3 minutes into the video, you can see a distraught Khadr rocking and moaning, his face in his hands, repeatedly crying "Ya Umi," or "Oh, Mommy."

At one point, the agent tells Khadr that he was "very disappointed" in Khadr's behavior. Khadr says he wants to go back to Canada.

"There's not anything I can do about that," the agent says.

The video comes after intelligence reports made public last week described how Khadr had been subject to sleep deprivation and other abuse to "prepare" him for interrogation.

Watch the clip:

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

South Carolina Not So "Gay" After All

A series of ads, timed to run with London's "Gay Pride" week, which ended last Saturday, have caused quite a stir.

The ads promoted the "gay beaches" of South Carolina, along with its Civil War plantations. Ads for Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. didn't elicit any reaction, but South Carolina ...

After a South Carolina political blog, The Palmetto Scoop wrote about the campaign, heads flew. A state employee has resigned and officials of the South Carolina Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (SCPRT) department have disavowed the campaign.

In fact, the department said it was canceling payment of its $5,000 fee for the posters. It said the ads were approved by a low-level state worker who did not run the idea by senior officials. That employee has since resigned.

Somehow I doubt something of this magnitude would not be passed by the higher-ups.

“South Carolinians will be irate when they learn their hard earned tax dollars are being spent to advertise our state as ‘so gay,’” Republican state Sen. David Thomas of Greenville said in a statement.

Despite the fact that the SCPRT disavowed any knowledge of the campaign, according to MSNBC, when the campaign was unveiled, it said the following:
“For our gay visitors, it is actually quite wonderful for them to discover just how much South Carolina has to offer — from stunning plantation homes to miles of wide sandy beaches.”

Lobbyist Caught Selling Access to White House

Last Monday, July 7th, lobbyist Stephen Payne met with a Kazakh politician Payne knew as Eric Dos at the Lanesborough hotel in central London. Dos' full name is Yerzhan Dosmukhamedov. What Payne didn't know is that the third party at the table was in fact an undercover Sunday Times reporter.

Dos told Payne that he was representing another foreign political figure who was wanted to meet top White House personnel.
Payne: “Who does he want to meet with in Washington?”

Dos: “Well of course, maybe the president of the United States, vice-president Cheney, to speak maybe directly to explain the situation in central Asia . . . To give his side of the story. These kind of things.”

Payne: "I think that that can be worked out. I can't promise that we can get to the President but er, because, he doesn't meet with a lot of former presidents these days. I don't think he meets with hardly anyone. But the situation in Kyrgyzstan is I think, worse now that it was before. That's a give. And I think that some things could be done.

“I think that the family, children, whatever, should probably look at making a contribution to the Bush library.

“It would be like, maybe a couple of hundred thousand dollars, or something like that, not a huge amount but enough to show that they’re serious.”
None of this should come as a surprise to most people, but it certainly should cement the way people think about who gets access to whom, and how lobbyists operate.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Maker of Shirtless Calendar Excommunicated by Mormon Church

Calendars features hotties - whether male or female - are quite popular. Not very popular with the Mormon Church however, at least not when missionaries are involved.

Chad Hardy, the creator of a calendar that featured shirtless Mormon missionaries called "Men on a Mission," was excommunicated Sunday after a disciplinary meeting with local Mormon church leaders in Las Vegas. As he told AP:
"I felt like I spoke my truth. Bottom-line, they still felt the calendar is inappropriate and not the image that the church wants to have. I have no ill feelings toward any of those people. They did what they believed was right and I really do feel it was the best decision for both of us."
I might understand if the calendar featured women, but it's all men The calendar can still be purchased the the Mormons Exposed website. They also have a MySpace page, if you're interested.

And they're taking auditions for the 2010 calendar.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

McCain Not = Bush, According to His Staffers


Have you seen the video of Carol Kreck getting booted out of the John McCain town hall event on Monday at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts? If not, it's below.

Whatever happened to free speech? All Kreck was doing was holding a sign which said "McCain = Bush." As many have said, since Bush was elected twice, you would think Republicans would love that statement.

As she told the Rocky Mountain News:
"Being an old reporter, I asked the question: 'Could you, would you, arrest someone just for holding a sign? Could you violate the First Amendment that way?' "

They told her, once again, she would have to put the sign down before going in. The feistiness then went into overdrive.

What of the McCain signs, T-shirts and buttons, she asked them? Isn't that speech, too?

"I wasn't aggressive about it," she said. "But for them, that was it. They told me to come with them. I guess they changed their minds on the rules right there."

They told her it was private property. It isn't, Carol Kreck reminded them.

"They started writing the trespassing ticket."

Pointing to the man in the tan sport coat, she asked the officers whom they worked for, the city and its citizens or the Republican Party. That is when they began escorting her to the street.

"Do you know they followed me all the way down the steps? I started laughing, it was so absurd. I can't imagine a judge for one minute who will not throw this case out. I don't understand. Why should all the people there who voted for George Bush be so upset by a sign I didn't even make that compares John McCain to him?"
According to initial reports, and even the video below, it was the Secret Service who asked for her ouster. However, reports today indicated that it was in fact McCain staffers who disagreed with the sign.

Carol Kreck isn't quite so sure about that.

As she says:
The Secret Service claims what happened in the courtyard would be "inconsistent with our established policies and procedures." But the Secret Service has been hit several times with lawsuits alleging violations of First Amendment rights when citizens expressed opposition to administration policies.
Either way, the ACLU is looking into a lawsuit on Kreck's behalf.

Watch the video:

Friday, July 11, 2008

McCain: Let's "Exploit" Offshore Oil

Likely no one will care about this statement by John McCain, because it appears Americans are more interested in
  1. continuing their massive use of oil and gasoline, whether for driving or other uses, as long as their cushy lifestyle is maintained
  2. ignoring environmental concerns with 1), whether it's global warming, habitat destruction, or whatever
On Friday, at a town hall, McCain made a statement that might be considered a Freudian slip.

McCain said:
I'll do everything in my power to get those offshore reserves exploited ... um, er, explored, discovered and, and ... explored AND exploited AND we will send the message, we will send the message all over the world that the United States is on the road to become independent on foreign and American will stand on its two feet.
It should be noted that the problem is really usage, and that offshore oil drilling will not help. If we really want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we should note the following:

About 2/3 of the U.S. oil consumption goes to transportation. Want to reduce foreign oil dependence? Reduce gasoline / diesel fuel consumption. Force people to drive slower by lowering the maximum speed limit. Increase MPG on cars with technological breakthroughs.

No less an "expert" as T. Boone Pickens has even acknowledged the problem as "one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.”

Paul Anderson, the retired CEO of Duke Energy said, "The most important number I think is to realize that the US has four percent of the population and uses 25 percent of the world's oil." (He added that in contrast, China, with 20% of the world's population currently uses just 8% of the oil. America's 25% share, he said, is unsustainable.)

This video is from CNN, broadcast July 11th.

video

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jesse Jackson Apologizes for Crude Comment About Castrating Obama

Bill O'Reilly was all over this. What a broad smile he had during his show tonight. Why?

A Fox News microphone picked up comments Jackson meant to deliver privately. These comments were pretty, well ... you decide.
See, Barack been ... um ... talking down to black people on this faith-based ... I wanna cut his nuts off. Barack ... he's talking down to black people.
Jackson issued an apology to Obama, saying to CNN:
For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize. My support for Senator Obama’s campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal. I cherish this redemptive and historical moment.
Watch the video clip from The O'Reilly Factor, shown July 9th, 2008.

video

McCain Jokes About Killing Iranians with Cigarette Exports

You probably remember John McCain's "Bomb Iran" moment from last year. McCain just isn't good at making jokes (maybe he and John Kerry need to talk), as his latest one is pretty insensitive as well.

While discussing Tuesday's report from AP which indicated that despite powerful Bush Administration rhetoric, exports to Iran have grown tenfold during Bush's presidency - with more cigarettes, at least $158 million annually, worth more than any other product - McCain made the following comment:
John McCain: "Maybe thats a way of killing them. I meant that as a joke, as a person who hasn't had a cigarette in 28 years ...?"

Cindy McCain: "29 years." (likely, from the way he leaned back, she poked him in the back saying, 'Bad joke, John!')

John McCain: "29 years."
Yep, hilarious. After all, the majority of people in Iran, regardless of what you may think of Ahmadinejad, are innocent civilians.

Watch the video from CNN:

video

Parking Officer Attacked Over $15 Ticket

A Delaware County, Pennsylvania parking officer, Kalliopi Maroulis, 46, was attacked by a couple while trying to issue a parking citation.

It all started when Maroulis approached an illegally parked Dodge Charger behind a bank on Saturday and asked the occupant, Ashley Dacons, 20, to move the car.

Dacons refused, Maroulis began writing a ticket ... and then all hell broke loose. Dacons opened her car door and then punched Maroulis in the face.

Worse, Dacons' boyfriend, Dijon Prince, 22 (yes, sounds like a mustard to me, too), came out of the bank, Maroulis said, he tried to separate her and Dacons but could not. At that point, according to Maroulis, Dacons told Prince to hit Maroulis ... and he did!

"He didn't want to but he started hitting me," Marouilis told Philly.com. "I start to feel dizzy, so I let her go."

Maroulis said she fell to the ground, breaking her wrist and the car's rearview mirror in the fall. The couple left the scene, taking Maroulis' ticket book with them, probably thinking they were clever. However, they were later arrested.

"It's a sad commentary on society when somebody is doing their job, whether they're making hamburgers or writing tickets, and it results in a beating, a broken wrist and jail, All over a lousy parking ticket," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.

Bail has been have been set at $50,000 for Prince and $10,000 for Dacons. Yes, I know, the ticket would have been much cheaper.

Watch a video report:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

George W. Bush Sewage Plant Naming Reaches First Hurdle

I wrote about this earlier in April. The Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco wants to rename the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility to be the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

And they've achieved the first step. As their site now says:
On July 7th, we submitted 11,999 signatures to the San Francisco Department of Elections. Of these, 11,025 we from San Francisco addresses. The Department of Elections will let us know within 30 days if at least 7,168 of these signatures are valid. If so, you’ll be able to vote on this measure on the November 4th ballot. Thanks again to all of our supporters and volunteers!
The White House, quite naturally, isn't too happy. When asked about it in the June 25th White House Press Briefing, Dana Perino said:
Q The New York Times reported this morning from San Francisco that the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is planning to ask voters to change the name of the prize-winning water treatment on the shoreline to, "The George W. Bush Sewage Plant." And my question: What is the White House reaction to this New York Times news report?

MS. PERINO: I just don't think it dignifies a response.
Ah, yes, and we know how dignified the GWB Sewage Plant will be.

"I Believe" License Plates May Never "See the Light of Day"

In May, the South Carolina state legislature unanimously voted to endorse an "I Believe" license plate, bearing the image of a cross and a stained glass window. Governor Mark Sanford then allowed the bill to become law --- without his signature.

As he said:
"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.”
Several groups chimed in about the possible unconstitutionality of the plates, but the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State was quickest on the draw (.PDF), filing suit in mid-June. The suit was filed on behalf of Rev. Dr. Thomas A. Summers, Rev. Dr. Robert M. Knight, Rabbi Sanford T. Marcus, Rev. Dr. Neal Jones, and the Hindu American Foundation.

Yep, you got it, religious leaders, not atheists, right?

The suit says, in part:
The special preference shown for Christianity via the General Assembly’s approval of the “I Believe” license plate not only improperly advances and endorses religion, but also discriminates against citizens of other faiths because it fails to provide a comparable expressive outlet.
and
The South Carolina legislature’s decision to align itself with a single religion — Christianity — runs afoul of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the preferential treatment that the State has accorded to the Christian viewpoint violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
On CNN's American Morning today, legal analyst Sunny Hostin indicated that S.C. Lt. Governor Andre Bauer didn't help S.C.'s case at all, by offering to pay $4,000 toward the plates, which as Hostin said, comes across as the state sanctioning the plates.

She also quoted Rev. Barry Lynn, AU executive director, as saying, "I do believe these 'I Believe' plates will not see the light of day."

Conclusion by Hostin: "My legal background tells me that this would be a violation and that a federal judge will probably strike it down."

This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast July 8, 2008.

video

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

First-Timer Advertises on Craigslist for Kissing Lessons

All right, it's bad enough this 20-year-old has never kissed anyone, but advertising for a kissing teacher on Craigslist? I'd be interesting in knowing if he gets any takers, personally.

Advertising in the strictly platonic section (eh?), this Georgia Tech student says:
I have been going out with a girl online for the last 5 years and she's finally coming down to see me on the 11th. She tells me it's a big turn-off if a guy doesn't know how to kiss, and she even dumped her last boyfriend because of this. I want to make a good first impression, but I've never kissed before! Please, I need a girl to practice kissing with, nothing else!! Just kissing lesson - nothing more nothing less!
The 11th? iPhone 3G day! Shoot, why not spend your time at the Apple Store?

Anyway, good luck to this guy, and hopefully his teacher is decent-looking and will teach him more than just a peck on the lips.

Lieberman: "We're Next"

We're next, guys. According to Joe Lieberman, (I-CT), once Iran gets through with Israel and the rest of the Middle East, we're next.

As Lieberman (why doesn't this guy just change to the GOP) said:
That’s up to Israel obviously, but I - I - I would say that obviously Israel is first in the line of Iranian fire, and it represents an existential threat to Israel. But you know who's next? The Arab countries in the Middle East and they’re worried about the Iranian program and want us to ask strongly to stop it. And we’re next! Because Ahmadinejad in Tehran constantly leads the mobs in shouts of death to America. And they mean it.
Scare tactics galore as we approach the anticipated post-election and pre-End of George W. Bush's administration attack on Iran.

Does anyone seriously believe that Iran poses any sort of real threat to Israel? Israel is well-armed, well-trained (perhaps better trained than U.S. troops) and doesn't really have much to worry about.

Watch the clip:

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bush Edits Jefferson

While welcoming new U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony at Monticello, President Bush invoked the memory of Thomas Jefferson. He was also heckled, but besides that: he, or rather his speechwriters (since we know how well Shrub does when he ad libs or writes his own stuff) edited one of the greatest orators in history: Jefferson.

As noted by Language Log, Bush said:
Thomas Jefferson understood that these rights do not belong to Americans alone. They belong to all mankind. And he looked to the day when all people could secure them. On the 50th anniversary of America’s independence, Thomas Jefferson passed away. But before leaving this world, he explained that the principles of the Declaration of Independence were universal. In one of the final letters of his life, he wrote, “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be — to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all — the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.”
What Jefferson actually said, in a letter to Roger C. Weightman:
May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.
Now, Language Log's point was that there should have been some ellipses (…) indicated the bolded text above were omitted. Though, I wonder how he could have indicated that during a speech.

Of course, as Language Log points out, the general use of such ellipses to "alert you to the fact that something has been left out, but you are still entitled to assume that the meaning of the quotation has been materially changed."

In this case, however, "the omission of part of the text distorts its meaning, the very omission is improper, but the failure to at least warn about it compounds the offense."

Ah, yes, omission of the facts, omission of the truth, omission period. Not uncommon for this administration.

Man Beheads Hitler Wax Museum Figure

First, it should be noted that in Germany, if you didn't already know, it's illegal in Germany to show Nazi symbols and art glorifying Hitler or the Nazis. Given that, you'd probably wonder why Madame Tussauds wax museum, which just opened in Berlin, would include a figure.

Apparently a German man felt the same way.

The exhibit had been cordoned off to prevent anyone from posing with Hitler, but just minutes after the museum opened on Saturday, the 41-year-old German man pushed aside two security guards, went over to the figure and ripped off its head.

The unnamed man was arrested, and later released. He remains under investigation, however.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Seventy-Year-Old Gives Birth to Twins

A 70-year-old grandmother has given birth to twins in India. The twins were delived by C-section on Friday.

The family has two adult daughters and five grandchildren, but no male heirs. Yes, it's that somewhat backward "requirement" of a male heir in India which has resulted in a gender imbalance and past infanticide, though now selected-sex abortions are more common.

Omkari Panwar underwent IVF treatment, and her husband mortgaged his land, sold his buffalos, spent his life savings and took out a credit card loan to finance the treatment. to produce the male heir.

Romanian Adriana Iliescu, who gave birth to a daughter, was aged 66 in 2005, and was the world’s previous oldest mother.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Billboards Posted Claiming Martin Luther King Was Republican

In 2006, the National Black Republican Association (NBRA) ran a radio ad trumpeting that Martin Luther King was a Republican. It was, of course, decried as false. As we enter the home stretch of another important political race, the NBRA is again stating the same claim, using billboards this time.

The NBRA's billboards, posted in six Florida counties, show an image of MLK and the words "Martin Luther King Jr. was REPUBLICAN. www.NBRA.info"

Frances Rice, the Republican group's chairwoman, spoke strongly about this in 2006, and continued to do so, telling AP:
"I knew the King family well. We were all Republicans. here was no way Dr. King would have wanted to be in the party of the Ku Klux Klan."
However, as the Washingon Post indicated in their article regarding the 2006 incident:
In 1960, King was arrested for trespassing during a sit-in and held in Georgia's Reidsville prison. Fearing for his son's life, Martin Luther King Sr. appealed to presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to secure his release.

When King was freed, his father vowed to deliver 10 million votes to the Democrat, even though Kennedy was only a reluctant supporter of civil rights. That began four decades of black people voting for liberals.

The younger King voted for Kennedy, and for Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson four years later. In that election, King publicly denounced the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater.

Today, the vast majority of black voters are Democrats, including former ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young and former presidential hopeful Jesse L. Jackson, two former King aides.
The King Center in Atlanta says there is no proof that King was ever a Republican. And, Rev. Joseph Lowery, who knew MLK well and who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with King, was quoted by AP as follows:
"These guys never give up, do they? Lord have mercy.

That was not the Martin I know and I don't think they can substantiate that by any shape, form or fashion. It's purely propaganda and poppycock. Even if he was, he would have nothing to do with what the Republican Party stands for today. Do they think Martin would support George W. Bush and the war in Iraq?"
He added that King voted for John F. Kennedy, and the only time he openly talked about politics was when he criticized Republican Barry Goldwater during the 1964 presidential campaign.

Friday, July 4, 2008

AFA Calls for Boycott of McDonald's Over "Homosexual Agenda"

The American Family Association has launched a call for a boycott of McDonald's, including a website, BoyCott McDonald's. The boycott call stems from McDonald's refusal to condemn Vice President of Communications Richard Ellis’s election to the Board of Directors of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).

The AFA makes clear what it feels the boycott is and is not about.
What the boycott of McDonald's IS NOT about

This boycott is not about hiring homosexuals.
It is not about homosexuals eating at McDonald's.
It is not about how homosexual employees are treated.

What the boycott of McDonald's IS about

It is about McDonald's, as a corporation, refusing to remain neutral in the culture wars. McDonald's has chosen not to remain neutral but to give the full weight of their corporation to promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage.
I'm not sure how this is the "full weight" of McDonald's, personally. In late May, the AFA wrote a letter in late May protesting the lack of condemnation, and McDonald's responded (.PDF).

In their response, Pal Harris, Global Chief Diverslty Officer said:
Our founder Ray Kroc once said. "None of us is as good as all of us." At McDonald's we believe that sentiment still holds true today, and is best reflected in action; specifically, with our strong and longtime commitment to our People through diversity and inclusion. This is a core value of McDonald's.

We treat our employees and our customers with respect and dignity, regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or other factors. Wc support our employees' personal involvement in organizations of their choice.

McDonald's is a trusted and well-respected neighbor, employer and corporate citizen in communities across the U.S. We will continue to support our people and their right to live and work in an inclusive society.
That rebuff, of course, led to the creation of the website and the call for a boycott.

Shoot, let's just add this criticism to the already existing "agenda" McDonald's has of fattening up everyone. Let's not forget that McDonald's is a global enterprise, and most other countries, including that neighbor of the U.S. to the north, are far more tolerant than the U.S.

In point of fact, it's good to see McDonald's take a stand; isn't it the right of everyone to stand up for their beliefs and not be bullied? And it's doubtful this will make a difference to their bottom line. In fact, many would say that controversial publicity is better than no publicity.

"Pregnant Man" Gives Birth to Girl

Thomas Beatie, the so-called "pregnant man," gave birth Sunday to a healthy baby girl. Despite taking hormones, having his breasts surgically removed, and outwardly living as a man, Beatie had kept his female sex organs in hopes of one day becoming pregnant.

He spent the first two decades of his life as Tracy Lagondino, a former model and finalist in a Miss Hawaii Teen USA pageant.

In April he revealed his pregnancy to the world, achieving notoriety as the "pregnant man."

Beatie told Oprah in April,
"I actually opted not to do anything to my reproductive organs because I wanted to have a child one day. I see pregnancy as a process, and it doesn't define who I am."
While TMZ reported the birth was a C-section, People indicated that Beatie told them it was not. The birth took place at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

You Know Gas Prices Are High When People Trade Sex for It

It's no secret that gas prices are going through the roof, but you know they're really high when prostitutes start taking gas cards as payment.

In Fort Wright, Kentucky, police set up a sex sting at the Days Inn. However, without trying, they noticed a er ... all right, I'll just say it, prostitute they knew from prior encounters.

Naturally she was there for business, and she was allegedly paid with a $100 gas card.

“When people are selling their bodies for gas, that’s pretty sad,” said Ken Easterling, chief prosecutor in the Kenton County Attorney’s Office.

Kenneth Nowak, 50, told police he and Angela Eversole, 34, met at the hotel Friday night for an "appointment." He apparently paid her with a $100 gas card. He was charged with promoting prostition, while Eversole was charged with prostitution and doing business without an occupational license. Whaa?