Thursday, May 31, 2007

Justin Sayfie Goes to Washington

Sayfie Review founder Justin Sayfie has been appointed to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. I wonder what this will do to the Sayfie Review.

Sayfie's comprehension of the truth should suit him well in the White House. Derek Newton notes Sayfie's fun with headlines.

Anyone wonder who Republican lobbyist Justin Sayfie wants to win the Democratic primary?

Well, check out his site today.

On the right column is this ditty: Tribune: In debate, Smith may have stuck closest to the facts

Problem is, as we've come to expect from Sayfie and the GOP in general, the headline doesn't match the article. In this case, it's 100% wrong.

The actual headline to that article - and the article itself - is: In Debate, Davis May Have Stuck Closest To The Facts.

Newton should be nicer to Sayfie. It's hard out here for a Republican pimp.

Update: Justin Sayfie sent me this email.

The Sayfie Review will continue. Too many influential people depend on it daily at this point. Good luck with your blog.

As much as I make fun of Sayfie; I'm glad Sayfie Review will continue. It is a great resource for Florida news.

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Attorney Giuliani Would Suspend Habeas Corpus

Rudy Giuliani believes that the President of the United States has the authority to imprison Americans. without charge.

Crane says he was disappointed with Romney's answer to his question the other night. Crane asked if Romney believed the president should have the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review. Romney said he would want to hear the pros and cons from smart lawyers before he made up his mind. Crane said that he had asked Giuliani the same question a few weeks ago. The mayor said that he would want to use this authority infrequently.

Giuliani was a former U.S. Attorney. He knows fill well the Constitution does not grant the President that kind of power.

Article 1 Section 9

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

There is no war within the borders of the United States. The fact that Giuliani would consider suspended Habeas Corpus shows him the be a national security lightweight.

Andrew Sullivan points out Giuliani is advocating the kind of tyranny the Founding Fathers feared.

I never thought I'd read a post like this in America in my lifetime. Isn't this power of a sovereign to detain any citizen without charge at any time part of the reason this country was founded? And now it is simply assumed that this kind of monarchical power is fine. A country that grants its executive the power to do this is definitionally not a free country. It really is as simple as that.

The conservative pundits and bloggers this proves that Giuliani is a tough guy. Imagine is more important than effectively fighting terrorism. Which is why I love popping the Rudy tough guy myth.

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Kathy Castor To Speak on Water Resources Development Act

Kathy Castor will be holding a press conference tomorrow.

WHAT: Press conference with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor
WHEN: Friday, June 01, 2007 at 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: Tampa Port Authority
- Because the Tampa Port Authority has received a security grant to keep our ports secure, expand the port operations, and bring more jobs and economic opportunities to the Tampa Bay area.

- Because Congress has passed an amendment to save the port workers from the economic burden of having to pay twice for their security badges.

- Because the Water Resources Development Act recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives will provide funds for Tampa Harbor's Cut B navigation project to significantly improve navigational efficiency.

Barbara Boxer made a statement on the Senate floor in support of the bill. Boxer notes that the bill has been seven years in the making.

Mr. President, one of the lessons of Hurricane Katrina is that we ignore our water infrastructure needs at our nation's peril. We cannot allow this long a period of time to lapse between reauthorizing such an important bill and we will not.

Indeed, I hope to work with Senator Inhofe and all my colleagues to prepare another WRDA bill next year, and then continue on the regular biennial WRDA cycle that was customary practice for many years.

The Heritage Foundation has the idea that pretecting beaches from erosion are pork projects. The White House is also against preserving beaches.

But the White House has gone on record as opposing the $15 billion price tag of the WRDA version passed by the House of Representatives, so more negotiating is expected.

The administration expressed concern about spending proposals for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects - previously a state and local responsibility.

The statement of policy also expressed concern over "a costly commitment to periodic nourishment of sand beaches..."

A good reason to prevent beach erosion is for coastal flooding. The spending is a small amount compare to the money spent for potential disaster relief.

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Cindy Sheehan's Farewell Letter

I stopped paying attention to Cindy Sheehan after her photo-op with Hugo Chavez. Sheehan went fom a woman powerfully holding President Bush's disregard for the lives of soldiers to a character on a reality show. Sheehan alieniated herself so badly that the Left and the Right both hated her. It's a sad story for a woman who lost her son.

Sheehan officially resigned from the anti-war movement.

The first conclusion is that I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a "tool" of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our "two-party" system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left", but "right and wrong."

There is truth to that. The Democratic Congress buckling on the Iraq spending bill is a claasic example of rhetoric and action are two distinctly different things. Like Nader, what Sheehan failed to understand that there are consequences to attacking one's own side. John McCaincan pander to the Christian Right all he wants. They will never forget his comments about Jerry Falwell in 2000.

Garance Franke-Ruta explains how Sheehan changed American's perceptions of President Bush.

I hope some day she will realize that she did as much as she, one woman, could. She helped break the bond between the American people and the president in August of 2005, according to a Bush strategist I heard speak last fall. The turn in public opinion against the president began that summer with high gas prices and the questions she raised, and then was solidified by the horrors of Katrina.

Bush could have limited the political fallout, or even turned the situation in his favor, if he met with Sheehan. A deep character flaw he has is avoiding people who tells him things he doesn't want to hear. Bush is like Reagan. He doesn't have friends. He has cronies. His inabilitity to step out of his cocoon cost him his second term.

I hope that Sheehan will finally begin healing. Being a media celebrity and having supporters lavish praise on her may have hindered her dealing with the loss of her son Casey. I wondered if anyone questioned her inner-circle her on public statements.

Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.

It's an oversimplification to say that all lefties and conservatives enjoy the bloodshed going on in Iraq. There certainly are callous people in America (and elsewhere.) Statements like this is why many turned against Sheehan. I hope that time and clarity will wash the anger from Sheehan.

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McCain Campaign Dead Pool

Conservative blogger Dean Barnett has started the McCain campaign dead pool. The winner, who picked the date McCain drops out, wins a copy of "A Mormon in the White House." Hardly an enticing contest prize.

Now is a god time to repost the moment that ended McCain's campaign.


House Democratic Caucus Letter to Chrlie Crist

The House Democratic Caucus sent a letter to Charlie Crist expressing their concerns about the FCAT. 204,000 tests are being regraded because of errors in the FCAT system.

Below is the letter.

The Honorable Charlie Crist
PL-05 The Captial
400 South Monroe St.

Dear Governor Crist:

Last week's troubling news about the scoring of third grade reading portion of the 2006 Florida Comprehensive Assestment Test has shaken the confidence of parents, school officials and state political leaders as to the test's reliability.

While we commend the Department of Education for disclosing the mistake and taking action to help avoid similar problems on future FCATs, the House Democratic Caucus believes more needs to be done to restore confidence in public school accountability. It concerns us, however, that it took the DOE a year to discover the scoring discrepancies after questions were initially raised.

House Democrats believe that nothing short of a major overhaul of the current FCAT-based accountability system needs to take place by next year. In the interim, here are some things that we believe are needed to begin getting a clear assessment of where things stand today.

* A complete audit of all FCAT results since the test was implemented in 2000, not just rescoring of the 2006 test. The audit should be performed by an independent organization that Republican and Democratic leadersin the Legislature can support.

* An analysis of other ways mistakes could be made, not just using inadequate anchor questions, which could lead to skewed test scores resulting in children being inappropriately promoted or retained.

* An analysis of the impact of the 2006 third grade reading test's errors on: students who should have been retained under the state's mandatory retention law but were not; the distribution of school recognition money; compliance with the Adequate Yearly Progress provision in the No Child Left Behind Act; compliance and distribution of federal dollars to Title I schools; teacher merit pay; and supplemental academic instruction funds.

* A comprehensive look at the longitudinal and latitudinal impacts of the scoring error on all grade levels

* An assessment of whether any laws were broken by promoting children to the fourth grade who otherwise would have been retained in the third grade because of the mandotory retention law.

* An analysis of how children performed in the fourth grade this year who otherwise would have been retained in the third grade under the mandatory retention law had the 2006 FCAT been scored correctly.

Again, we believe these are matters that need addressing to begin a comprehensive assessment of accountability reform. We must start that process now, with your help and that of Republican leaders in the House and Senate, if we hope to restore confidence in public school accountability.

It should be the highest priority for Florida political leaders to make certain that our children receive the highest quality and most reliable public school education available. Time is of the essence.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.


Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, District 109

Rep. Shelley Vana, District 85

Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, District 69

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Susan Stanton For Congress?

Now this is interesting. The St Petersburg Times is implying Susan Stanton may challenge Vern Buchanan for his seat.

A career change also might be in her future. Stanton said she's not sure what her next step will be, but her recent experiences have led her to think about going into educational administration or maybe even running for Congress.

"I actually enjoy getting out meeting folks and connecting with people in ways I never thought I would," she said.

Stanton is a registered Republican. In the unlikely chance that she beat Buchanan in the primary; he would most likely face Christine Jennings as his challenger. It would be interesting to see which candidate progressives root for.

The St. Petersburg Times failed to mention that Stanton took a shot of the media's superficial coverage.

``Not a single person has focused on what I wear, the type of shoes I have on or the type of necklace I am wearing. It's just not an issue,'' Stanton said before the vote.

I wonder if Stanton is talking about The Times?

Later in the morning, she had her first professional blow dry and manicure.

For the day's events, her hair was styled fluffy on top with wispy bangs in front. She chose a soft rose color to accent her sporty nails. She admired herself in the mirror.

"I could get used to this, " she said, as the manicurist massaged her hands.

That is some hard-hitting journalism.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy Birthday JFK

This is a magnificent speech. The Bush administration and conservative media should heed JFK's word.

"An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.," JFK said. "We intend to accept full responsiblity for our errors and we expect you to point them out when we miss them."

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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Missingmen

I was surprised to learn that Amanda Marcotte is a Mike Watt fan. I have been listening to Watt for a long time. I saw him when fIREHOSE was still together. In all that time, I never met a female Watt fan.

Amanda found a great video of Watt's side project the Missingmen performing the Wire songs Three Girl Rhumba and Ex-Lion Tamer.

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Lara Logan Stands Up For Journalists Covering Iraq

This video is from last year, but is worth posting.

Howard Kurtz insanely asks Lara Logan about the lack of postive Iraq news coverage from journalist. Logan explains that the country is in shambles and proceeds to passionately defend her colleagues. Kurtz is unmoved and proceeds to play a tape of Laura Ingraham bashing the press.

Ingraham: To do a show from Iraq means to talk to the Iraqi military. To go out with the Iraqi military. To actually have a conversation with the people, instead of reporting from hotel room balconies about the lates IEDs going off.

Logan said Ingraham's comment is easy to make "from the comforts of the United States." Logan points out it is impossible for journalists (and Iraqis) to freely drive around the country. Ingraham is living in John McCain's fantasy.

"I do want to point out that Laura Ingraham was in Iraq for 8 days," Kurtz said.

"8 days," laughed Logan. She was not impressed.

Kurtz's fair and balanced sthick of bashing Irsq coverage is really getting fucking old.

Update: Lara Logan gives an eloquent response to commenters who attacked her CNN interview.

The reason we are unable to go cover every school or bridge opening or “good news” story, is not because of concern over our own safety - it is first and foremost because of concern over the safety of those involved in the project.

Where schools have been highlighted in the media, teachers have been executed and the buildings bombed. Where reconstruction projects have been highlighted by the media, workers have been murdered and the projects bombed.

Following media reports about the Baghdad soccer team, soccer matches have been bombed, with almost a hundred players and civilian spectators killed in multiple attacks.

It is very often those involved in the projects that ask us to stay away.

And for those who question my moral courage I would like to point out the following:

- At age 17 I was counting the bodies from the weekend violence in our local morgue, fire station and hospitals during the anti-Apartheid struggle.

- Since then I have lived with, (often on my own, the only woman for a sustained period of time) Unita rebel troops on the frontline in Angola, Afghan Northern Alliance forces during their war against the Taliban, Palestinians fighting Israelis in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and Albanian rebels in Tetovo, Macedonia, to name a few examples.

Let's just get this out of the way. Lara Logan is the best damn journalist in television media. She is also breathtakingly beautiful.

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Official Ralph Arza Plea Agreement

The Miami Herald has the offical Ralph Arza plea bargain agreement. The only thing I learned is if that Arza violates is probation is is facing 120 days of jail time.


Charlie Crist Medicaid Veto

Governor Charlie Crist cites his reasons for vetoing the Medicaid bill.

However, this legislation also includes some alarming provisions: the elimation of consumer protections and provider accountablity for behavioral health services; the requirement that certain brand name drugs are used instead of even more cost-effective generic drugs; provider rate increases above and beyond the $218 million already given to providers in the 2007 session; and the delayed implementation of Medicaid reform.

Even more disturbing is the fact that many of these provider-driven provisions were not discussed in an open forum but were, instead, added to the billat the last minute without a proper hearing. Our representative democracy demands that legislation with impacts on the lives of Florida's most vulnerable citizens be debated in a deliberative and transparent forum.

Republicans keep pushing government to spend tax dollars on the most expensive drugs. Let's do away with this nonsense that the GOP is the fiscally consevative party.

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Must Read Greg Palest Post

Greg Palest has a must-read post on a voter the suppression tactic caging. Monica Goodling dropped the bombshell in her opening statements.

Despite my and others' best efforts, [Deputy Attorney General, Paul McNulty]'s public testimony was incomplete or inaccurate in a number of respects. As explained in more detail in my written remarks, I believe that the Deputy was not fully candid about his knowledge of White House involvement in the replacement decision, failed to disclose that he had some knowledge of the White House's interest in selecting Tim Griffin as Interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, inaccurately described the Department's internal assessment of the Parsky Commission, and failed to disclose that he had some knowledge of allegations that Tim Griffin had been involved in vote "caging" during his work on the President's 2004 campaign.

Caging is sending emails targeted to people not likely to respond. If no reply is returned they are then taken off the voter rolls. This is completely illegal. Not a single Democrat pressed to find out Griffin's involvement or his former boss Karl Rove. Dahlia Lithwick runs through a list of other questions the Democrats fumbled on.

Below is a caging email Griffith was involved in to purge homeless people off voting rolls.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Old Daily Show Video Revisited

Bob Jackson is a former Largo Mayor. His failed re-election campaign was backed by Stanton political opponents Fred Thomas and Curtis Holmes. Jackson is in full attack mode on Stanton.

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Bush Statement on Accountability Laughable

George W. Bush was asked what he would do if there is proof that Alberto Gonzales unethically fired U.S. Attorneys.

"If there's wrongdoing, it will be taken care of," The President told the White House Press Corp.

Bush should be challenged on that statement. His credibility on holding his own official accountable is in tatters. The President was asked what he would do if any members of his administration leaked Valerie Plame's name to the media.

"If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," said the President. "And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of."

Lewis Scotter Libby resigned and was convicted of perjury. Karl Rove leaked to Bob Novak. No administration official involved in the Plame investigation lost their security clearance. Bush has since refused to answer questions about the leakers.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

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You Too Can Remember

Memory loss isn't just a deadly disease that affects members of the Justice Department.

Hat tip to Garance Franke-Ruta


Ralph Arza Pleads Out

This blog has followed Ralph Arza with great interest. Arza has pleaded guilty to misdemeanors charges.

Arza's punishment is two misdemeanor convictions, $1,500 in investigative costs, anger management classes and community services. Arza steals a page from the Mel Gibson/Mark Foley playbook. We find out that Arza is an alcoholic. He will be evaluated by an alcohol abuse counselor.

Arza will be eligible to run for public office in 2010 if he successfully completes his probation. I would not be shocked if he runs again.

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USF Progressives

Meet the University of South Florida student clubs the Feminist Student Alliance and Voices of Planned Parenthood.

The FSA has accomplished more than any progressive group in recent memory. Members went up to South Dakota to help defeat the abortion bill and staged a walkout of an Ann Coulter speaking engagement. Great work ladies!

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Quote of the Day

"I promised the President today that I wouldn't say anything bad about ... this piece of shit bill."

House Minority Leader John Boehner

It appears the Congressman ended up breaking his word. Thanks to the DC culture of-the-record sources.

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List of Charlie Crist Vetoes

Governor Charlie Crist has vetoed $459 million in spending out of the budget. My personal favorite veto is the $1.5 million for the Tom Adams National Training Center for Rowing. To answer the question; yes, we are talking about boat rowing. The worst veto is $18 million for community and state college funds for Bright Futures Savings. The money is used to help pay tutition for many financially needy students. Crist made other education cuts in pilots programs for low performing schools. When people ask why Florida's education system sucks - they need no more than look at the budgets.

Cuts in the Tampa area.

1. $1 million - Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority
2. $200,000 - University of Tampa Forenic Program
3. $150,000 - School of Instructional Enhancement - Easter Seals Multiple Disablities Education - Tampa
4. $150,000 - Pinellas County Blueway Trail
5. $10,000 - Purple Heart Monument

Mark Lane notes that $2 million was vetoed on the Riverwalk project. I can't find it in the vetoes. Anyone have any idea of the name of the project?

Another choice veto is $12 million to make restorations on the a farmer's market.

The Miami Herald has posted all the line-item vetoes in Excel format.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Who's Who In U.S. Attorney Scandal

The Wall Street Journal has made a useful who's who in the U.S. Attorneys scandal.


New Florida Progressive Blogger

Florida has a new progressive blogger. PattyP is one on the authors of spacebawl.


Food Safety Briefing: Restrictions on Imported Food Urged; Trade Ambassador Pressured; A Florida Family Reels; From Whence Cometh Garlic?

U.S. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, in letters to President Bush and the head of the FDA Monday, called for a crackdown on exporters sending adulterated and otherwise toxic or dangerous food, medicines, and ingredients into the United States:

WASHINGTON – The United States should yank away the “welcome” sign for many Chinese food and medicine ingredients, Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., told President Bush and the head of the Food and Drug Administration in letters he sent Monday.

Recent animal deaths have been blamed on pet food containing an ingredient imported from China that was contaminated with melamine, a plastic precursor used as a fertilizer. Feed tainted with the same imported ingredient was sent to 38 Hoosier poultry operations.


Even though scientists have concluded that the risk to humans from the chickens fed the tainted feed is very low, Bayh told Bush that the episode illustrates how vulnerable U.S. consumers are “to potentially poisonous agents that may be intentionally delivered to American citizens.”

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, Bayh said the FDA should consider restricting Chinese exports of food and medicine ingredients “until it can be established that its bulk ingredients meet U.S. health and safety standards.”

Bayh did not say how the guarantee would be met.

I'm glad another Senator has added his voice to the small-but-growing chorus of criticisms surrounding the regulatory agency (the FDA) that by its own admission inspects only 1% (or "less than 2%", depending on who's talking) of all imports; I'm especially heartened to hear Bayh point out the melamine elephant in the room--that is, how unnervingly vulnerable we are--and even utter the phrase "...potentially poisonous agents [that may be] intentionally delivered to American citizens”. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, D-CT continue to address food safety and consumer information issues: Senator Durbin testified before Congress about the FDA's current state--there are too many imports pouring in for agents who are far too few in number, to name just one obvious problem--and Congresswoman DeLauro urged the enactment of tougher product labeling laws, including Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) and clear notification if a meat or poultry product came from a cloned animal or its progeny.

On May 10th, the two leaders co-wrote a terse and forthright letter to U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab (my emphasis):

Dear Ambassador Schwab:

We are writing in light of the recently discovered contamination of imported wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate used to manufacture pet food in the United States.


The safety of food imports from China extends beyond the pet food recall. China is especially poor at meeting international food safety standards, which is particularly disturbing considering that China exported approximately $2.26 billion in agricultural products to the United States in 2006. A recent news article noted that, in February, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) blocked the entry of several food products from China because they contained banned additives, were tainted by pesticides or were contaminated with salmonella. Some products were simply unsanitary.

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is involved in these matters because regional, bilateral, and international trade agreements entered into by the United States often include sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. For example, there are two World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements that deal with food safety and animal and plant health and safety. We understand that these provisions allow countries to set their own standards but require countries to base regulations on science and encourage countries to use international guidelines where they exist.

Our concern is whether the USTR has the ability to challenge the sanitary and phytosanitary standards of our trading partners based on evidence that they are not meeting international standards and may be endangering public health in the United States.

This issue is particularly important as U.S. agricultural imports are predicted to reach a record $69 billion in FY 2007. If we are to continue at this rate, we must ask important questions about the food safety standards of our trade partners to ensure our nation's public health is not compromised.

Developing countries often lack sufficient regulations, monitoring, and enforcement of SPS regulations. China, for instance, has come under scrutiny in the past for an overall lack of transparency and failure to properly adhere to SPS measures required by the World Trade Organization.

While we understand the importance of the United States' involvement in international trade, participation in these trade relations should not come at the expense of animal or human health.

Therefore, we request answers to the following questions—

1) What sanitary and phytosanitary measures are included in current free trade agreements and other permanent trade relations in which the United States is currently engaged?

2) What legal recourse does the United States possess with respect to imported food products that pose a threat to public health, in the event that the country where the offending product originated is not cooperative?

Incidentally, neither of the two Senators from Florida--Mel Martinez (R) and Bill Nelson (D)--mentions food safety or labeling issues on his website, though the Sunshine State has an obvious stake in both issues: in terms of the size of its contribution to Florida's GDP, agriculture is second only to tourism. And many Floridians, along with families and farmers in the other 49 states, have already been profoundly affected by the melamine-adulterated pet food and animal feed. This family, for example:

If it's not trips to the vet, it's the nightly ritual of injecting a feeding tube intravenously into the animals. Without the daily fluid pack that hangs above the laundry room dryer, Libby faces certain death.

Two of their four cats already have died. All four have suffered kidney disease their veterinarian attributes to contaminated pet food.

The food, Nutro Max Gourmet Classics, did not appear at first on the ever-growing national recall list, and Cmar thought all was well. But then Nutro Max's manufacturer issued a recall, and Gourmet Classics joined hundreds of other products being blamed for the illness and deaths of thousands of cats and dogs nationwide.

Cmar has spent almost $10,000 trying to save Libby and her family's three other cats. Cmar, who runs a small business from home, charged much of it to her Visa card.

As bills mount, she finds herself at a crossroads: continue spending thousands to save Libby? Or does that just prolong the animal's suffering?

"I'm an anxiety-ridden mess," says Cmar, as she weighs the financial issues and the concern that her 4-year-old son, Matthew, and 1-year-old daughter, Maudaline, won't understand the continued loss of their pets.

Lastly, a recent USA Today article about food safety and questionable imports offers some interesting data:

The overall dollar figures for food imports into the USA from China are high — $29 million worth of fresh or frozen fruit and $131 million worth of fresh or frozen vegetables in 2006, according to the USDA. But "the share of the U.S. food supply that comes from China is tiny, probably less than 1%," said Fred Gale, a senior economist with the China team at the USDA's Economic Research Service.


But that doesn't mean the average American isn't eating food from China, and some surprising ones at that. If you season with garlic, sip apple juice, spread honey or savor fish dishes, there's a good chance you're buying food from China.

Garlic: More than 50%

China produces 75% of the world's garlic, according to the FAO. Last year was the first year in which U.S. consumers bought more garlic produced in China than garlic grown in California, said Bill Christopher, owner of Christopher Ranch, a major grower of garlic in Gilroy, Calif. California grows "99.9% of U.S. garlic," he said.

"There were roughly 150 million pounds of fresh and peeled garlic from California sold in the U.S. in 2006 and 170 million pounds from China," he said.

Chinese garlic is easily recognized, he said. "In California we cut the roots off but we leave a little bit of a brush. In Chinese garlic they cut the root plate off flat, with no brush."

California garlic farmer, author, and English professor Chester Aaron recommends seeking out domestically-grown garlic:

...thanks to a persistent garlic fungus in the nutrient-robbed soil, rock-bottom pricing and a loophole in U.S. trade law, most of the garlic sold in the United States has been grown in foreign soil. China grows two-thirds of the world's garlic, while California is currently responsible for just two percent.


China has been the particular focus of legislation designed to prevent "dumping," in which exporters introduce garlic to the U.S. market at prices significantly lower than their stated production costs. At the urging of American farmers, federal trade officials agreed to levy a 377 percent duty on imported garlic in 1994. Under pressure from free-trade advocates, officials revised the ruling a year later, to lower tariffs on "new" shippers who were not involved in the original investigation. Foreign shippers have had to merely form new companies in order to avoid the tariffs, thereby freeing themselves to continue dumping their product into the U.S. market. Accordingly, the volume of Chinese garlic in the U.S. market has increased more than ten-fold since 2000, forcing California garlic farmers to sell off vast tracts of land in order to survive. Since 2001, Christopher Ranch has put 40 percent of its garlic fields out of commission.

Aaron says that China, along with fellow exporters Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico, are all using pesticides and herbicides banned in, and inherited from, the United States. "There aren't enough inspectors at the borders to check all the garlic that comes in from around the world, and the chances are that what you buy in most markets has been heavily sprayed," says Aaron. He recalls happening upon a bushel basket of purple-skinned garlic in a local organic grocery a few years ago. A shop clerk told him it had been organically grown in Monterrey, but he recognized the "grower's" name as an importer who sells Mexican garlic. Aaron bought a bulb and passed it along to a chemist friend at Berkeley. A few days later she called to tell him that the supposedly organic garlic contained several varieties of chemicals banned in the U.S. A representative from the Food and Drug Administration, contacted for this story, reports that there are no instances on record of garlic shipments from Mexico being turned away because they've contained banned sprays, which neither confirms nor refutes Aaron's claim. "The best advice I can give is to buy from a reputable farmer or grow your own," says Aaron.

Until we have mandatory labels here in the States, concerned consumers will have to ask the friendly produce manager about the origins of the store's garlic inventory or take their chances with pesticide residue on the imported bulbs--pesticide that may well be banned, or in the process of being phased-out, in the U.S., but which the chemical giants continue to produce and sell to farmers abroad, who in turn apply it to garlic and other produce that winds up back in America's food chain.

More on the issue of pesticide inheriting soon.

(H/T JayMonster; Lisa in Baltimore.)

Also at litbrit.


Al Gore Conference Call

Taylor Marsh has the audio of the Al Gore conference call.

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Martin Anderson Bill Signed

Good for Charlie Crist. He signed the bill to pay Martin Anderson's family restitution.

"Today, justice will be done."

That's how Gov. Charlie Crist opened the signing of the $5-million Martin Lee Anderson claims bill. With the boy's parents at his side, Crist said, "We will never know what you have endured and what you had to go through. And we are so sorry for your loss."

Anderson's life was literally snuffed out by guards. The second autopsy findings are telling.

Hillsborough County Chief Medical Examiner Vernard I. Adams conducted a second autopsy after Anderson's family, other medical experts and civil rights leaders balked at the conclusion of the first examination.

"Martin Anderson's death was caused by suffocation due to actions of the guards at the boot camp," Adams wrote.

"The suffocation was caused by manual occlusion of the mouth, in concert with forced inhalation of ammonia fumes that caused spasm of the vocal cords resulting in internal blockage of the upper airway."

But an attorney for Lt. Charles Helms, one of the guards, told CNN that he was disappointed by Adams' findings.

The guards had no medical training or authorization to use the ammonia capsules. The video makes it obvious they weren't trying to wake Anderson up. The ammonia was used as a disciplinary measure. The guards felt Anderson was slacking and wanted to teach him a lesson. The medical way to revive a person is not to punch and restrain.

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White House v. White House

Tony Snow makes a major fuck up in his Press Gaggle. He claims that President Bush never made the case for Saddam Hussein having nuclear weapons. The White House keeps getting in trouble because they fail to realize they can't spin this stuff away. Bush's 16 words in the State of the Union address is the defining moment of his presidency.

Q One more thing, on another topic. This is not asking you for a book review, but Al Gore's new book is out, and he says that Saddam Hussein posed no threat and that President Bush, "forged evidence that Hussein was seeking to develop atomic bombs."

MR. SNOW: Well, the second is false, and the first is in contradiction to Senator Gore -- then Vice President Gore's prior statements. So I'll let him rectify those differences.

Mr. Snow should go to the White House website and read the 2003 State of the Union.

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought
significant quantities of uranium from Africa." - President George W. Bush,

The Bushies will say anything. They are incapable of willing telling the truth.

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U.S. Attorney Greg Miller On Purge List

McClatchy Newspapers reports two more U.S. Attorneys were on the purge list.

The two prosecutors who were targeted were Gregory Miller, the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Florida in Tallahassee, and Bill Leone, the former acting U.S. attorney for Colorado.

Miller has been a potential target for termination since February 24, 2005. The St Petersburg Times reports that Miller was shocked to find out he was on the list.

"I have never been asked to resign," he said. "Nor have I ever been told by anyone at the Department of Justice that my performance was lacking or that I was being considered for termination."

The question is why Kyle Simpson place Miller's name on the purge list. Miller received a Justice Department award for superior performance in public service. Much like the other U.S. Attorneys, the evidence points to Miller being a good U.S. Attorney. The Justice Department's statements of the purge candidate's performing poorly sounds like a cover story. Sampson knew as much when he sent this email to Harriet Miers and William Kelley.

I am concerned that to execute this plan properly we must all be on the same page and be steeled to withstand any political upheaval that might result (see Step 3); if we start caving to complaining U.S. Attorneys or Senators then we shouldn't do it -- it'll be more trouble than it is worth.

Another question is if the Justice Department had problems with the job performance of these attorneys then why didn't they discuss it with them.

"You're telling me something I didn't know," Miller said. "I never heard of any concerns from the administration."

Alberto Gonzales said that only 8 U.S. Attorneys were targeted for termination. That statement is obviously false. No one is sure exactly how many U.S. Attorneys were on the purge list. The Washington Post reports that 26 U.S. Attorneys were considered for firing. Other attorneys such as Christopher J. Christie expressed the same reaction as Miller.

"I was completely shocked. No one had ever told me that my performance had been anything but good," Christie said.

The White House replaced attorneys with hacks. Leone's replacement was Troy Eid. He had little coutroom experience, but was a member of the Federalist Society. Conservative credentials count more than judicial experience.

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The Liberal Media Part 2

Hat tip to Liberal Avenger.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Liberal Media

Katie Couric asks John Edwards questions that would make Sean Hannity blush.

"Some have suggested that you're capitalizing on this."

"You're putting your work first, and your family second."

Some have suggested Couric has a habit of repeating Republic talking points. Some might even say Couric singlehandedly killed CBS Nightly News. I'm just repeating what "some people" say.

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Compassionate Conservatism: Religious Edition

The Sixth Commandment

Thou shall not kill.

Jerry Falwell needs a refresher course in the Old Testament.

Blow them all away in the name of the lord.


Tas's Reading List

Vox Populi asked what Tas's reading list was. She now has an answer.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Otters Bonding

Be prepared for cuteness overdoze. Two otters float and lock flaps together.

Blog Around

Firedoglake - They’re Ugly and Stupid and Nobody Likes Them

Progressive Gold - I Am My Child’s Mom

T Rex's Guide To Life - Why I Am A Liberal

Bark Bark Wolf Wolf - No-Shows

MyDD - Ron Paul Insurgency

TPM Cafe - Dems Outraising GOP -- In The South!

The New York Times - The Immigration Deal

Alternate Brain - Hard Core

Elle, Phd - The Allied Media Conference


Impeach Alberto Gonzales

Update: Bush isn't budging on Gonzo.

"I frankly view what's taking place in Washington today as pure political theater," he said. "I stand by Al Gonzales, and I would hope that people would be more sober in how they address these important issues."

Nothing works it's magic like the Bush vote of confidence.

Update: Sunny has a superb post on Alberto Gonzales failing to prosecute Texas guards that sexually abused juveniles. Talk Left has more on the Texas Youth Commission.

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Meet Hans von Spakovsky

Hans von Spakovsky worked in the civil rights devision of the Justice Department. He is a Bush recess appointment. Von Spakovsky spent more time suppressing voter rights than promoting civil rights. A fellow DoJ colleague does not think highly of von Spakovsky.

"Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration's pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote," charged Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief who worked under him.

Von Spakovsky helped craft Voter ID laws for Georgia and Arizona in 2005. He overruled career lawyers who feared that monorities would be disenfranchised. When the Election Assistance Commission's research wasn't to his liking; he attempted to change the findings.

Things get weirder. Von Spakovsky wrote about alleged voter fraud problems under an anonymous handle. As Publius, von Spakovsky advocated for voter IDs. He wrote an anonymous article about voter fraud for the Texas Review of Law and Politics. (I can't find the article.)

The email trail is where von Spakovsky's true intent is exposed.

After the commission hired both liberal and conservative consultants to work on the studies in 2005, e-mails show that von Spakovsky tried to persuade panel members that the research was flawed.

In an Aug. 18, 2005, e-mail to Chairman DeGregorio, he objected strenuously to a contract award for the ID study to researchers at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, who were teaming with a group at Rutgers University.

Von Spakovsky wrote that Daniel Tokaji, the associate director of Moritz' election program, was "an outspoken opponent of voter identification requirements" and that those "pre-existing notions" should disqualify him from federal funding for impartial research.

The criticism was ironic coming from von Spakovsky, who a few months earlier had written the anonymous article for the Texas Review of Law and Politics, in which he called voter fraud a problem of importance equal to racial discrimination at the polls. Von Spakovsky acknowledged writing the article after joining the FEC.

What we have is evidence of von Spakovsky pushing bogus voter fraud in the Justice Department and the Election Assistance Commission.

TPM Muckraker points to von Spakovsky's links with Bradley Schlozman.

Well, Von Spakovsky was Tweedledee to Schlozman's Tweedledum at the Civil Rights Division. The two worked together in overseeing the voting rights section, and in particular in ensuring that the section, which is tasked with stopping the implementation of voting laws that might impinge on the rights of minorities, did not block voter ID laws. As I reported last month, the two teamed up to make life hell for one section analyst who had had the temerity to object to Georgia's voter ID law (the one ultimately blocked by a federal judge who compared it to a Jim Crow-era poll tax).

"In reaching this conclusion, the Court observes that it has great respect for the Georgia legislature," wrote Judge Harold Murphy. "The Court, however, simply has more respect for the Constitution."

The Georgia legislature passed the Voter ID law. However, the state fall under the Voters Rights Act. The Justice Department had to approve the law. Everything comes full circle.

In other news: von Spakovsky's confirmation hearing will be held June 13th. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say he isn't going to get confirmed.

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Greeting Cards From Hell

These online greeting cards are just so wrong.

Side note: the second card has never been a problem for me in relationships.


Write A Caption - Commander Guy

Image via Comandante Agí.

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Hillary and Wal-Mart

I wanted to write about Hillary Clinton's tenure at Wal-Mart. Garance Franke-Ruta covers how Hillary Clinton's friends said she was concerned about women being promoted to management.

The fact that Wal-Mart’s one-time executives and board members would still describe concern for the equal treatment of women in the workplace as a “personal cause” despite the very public court battle current and former female Wal-Mart employees are waging against the firm, would seem to be a symptom of the attitude female employees are fighting against, and possibly even evidence for their suit. If the executives and board members are to be believed, Clinton tried to press the company to make progress on this issue years before the firm’s employees felt the situation so intolerable they had no recourse other than to sue. The class action suit only covers the period from late 1998 through the present, but the board of directors appears to have known there was a problem years before this — even Clinton’s 1986 invitation to join the board was the result of pressure from female Walton family members to increase women in higher-level positions with the company — and failed to take adequate action.

Wal-Mart had the biggest class action lawsuit in history filed against the company by 1.6 million female employees. It is easy to why why Clinton didn't want to be interviewed for the New York Times story.

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Democratic Debates On Fox News A Bad Idea


Jim Johnson blasts the netroots for urging Democratic candidates to boycott the Fox News presidential debate.

The netroots celebrated. Self-congraulations. Pats on the back all around.

Looking back, it is possible to say this was a big mistake.

Consider this: a large portion - maybe even a majority - of the people who watch Fox news are Republicans. Yes, part of the reason is because Fox panders to them. Part of the reason is because Republicans feel more comfortable watching Fox than other “liberal media” outlets.

I can go further. Fox News is the official network for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Fox News: Fair and Balance

It's easy to imagine Fox News throwing Sean Hannity in, at the last minute, to moderate the debate. Fox News isn't afraid to promote fear to the advantage of Republicans. The network was pumping Hamas before the midterm elections. THey continued after the results were in. THe memo shows Fox News leading their viewers to believe that terrorists support Democrats.

Fox News Internal Memo

Johnson misses the point. It's not reaching out to Republicans that the netroots is worried about. (Although, that isn't the goal.) It's that Fox News is the RNC PR machine. It is not in the network's interest to have a "fair and balanced" debate.

Jin Johnson responds.

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Best Star Wars Parody

I always wondered how Darth Vader would break the news to Emperor Palpatine that the Death Star has been destroyed.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Miltitary Censoring Soldiers' Internet Access

Via Sine.Que.Non: The U.S. military is keeping soldiers safe from Youtube and Myspace.

The US Department of Defense issued a memo last week that states it intended to begin blocking network access -- including that of soldiers serving overseas -- to several popular "Internet entertainment sites" from yesterday.

The 12 sites to be blocked, according to a story in the Associated Press, include several large social networking and media sharing sites like MySpace, YouTube, MTV, Pandora, and Photobucket.

The Department of Defense cite security reasons. So does China with what their citizens can see on the World Wide Web. I doubt these soldiers and marines want al-Qaeda to know their movements. It's most likely to stop the negative PR from graphic images of dead Iraqis.

Update: a reader pointed out that the DoD official reason for not allowing access to Myspace and Youtube is bandwidth. Not security reasons.

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So-Called Friends of Largo

Curtis Holmes summitted a petition with 28 names to the Largo City Commission. The petition claimed that Largo City officials hid misconduct from the public. A few angry residents are claiming Steve Stanton's (now Susan) plans for a sex change was an ethics violation. The petition also claims Largo official who knew violated section 2.06 of the city charter.

The petition names Gerard and Commissioner Gay Gentry, along with Stanton, police Chief Lester Aradi, outgoing fire Chief Jeff Bullock, City Attorney Alan Zimmet, and director of human resources Susan Sinz. It also lists Gerard's husband, Eric, and former City Commissioner Pat Burke as individuals whose actions should be scrutinized.

Section 2.06 General Powers and Duties

(b) The mayor or a city commissioner shall report to the city commission all violations or neglect of duty or any misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in office, or improper conduct on the part of any elected or appointed official that may come to his or her knowledge.

Holmes and his supporters believe "dressing as a woman on city time and conspiring with city employees to keep vital information from the commission." Stanson wanted to wait until his son before coming out. Someone leaked the story to The St. Petersburg Times. Stanton begged the newspaper to hold to story to no avail. He was concerned of how her son would be treated by classmates.

The Largo City Commission voted to start an investigation. Mayor Gerald casted the only dissenting vote. Gentry was extremely emotional during the vote. The Pinellas County Sheriff's office will head the inquiry.

Gentry then emotionally told other commissioners “if you all don’t like that then you don’t need me up here (on the dais.)”

Gentry voted for the investigation.

"I have nothing to hide. You all know it all already," Gentry said.

Curtis Holmes has a history with Mayor Gerald.

One speaker, Curtis Holmes, accused Mayor Pat Gerard of seeking financial gain from the issue. He angrily objected to allegedly being called a “bigot” by Gerard because he had called for Stanton to be fired.

“I said I don’t care if he changes species,” Holmes said. “I made it perfectly clear that I don’t care. I said he should be fired because he kept this a secret. The only issue is what he is doing and whether it is good for the city of Largo.”

Holmes claimed Gerard’s husband, Eric, who runs an advertising agency, was now handling Stanton’s public relations and “I’ve heard there are going to be book deals. There is a chance of profit here.”

Gerard and her husband emphatically denied that they are doing any work for Stanton.

“We don’t do public relations,” Eric Gerard said, pointing out his company handles advertising for large companies throughout the United States.

Things get more interesting. Holmes is the founder of the 527 group Friends of Largo. Pinch-A-Penny founder Fred Thomas gave $20,000 to FOL. Before Stanton announced he was transgender; Thomas tried to get Stanton fired in early 2006.

Pinch-A-Penny founder Fred Thomas pointed at Largo's city manager during a City Commission meeting last August and made a prediction: "You're not going to win."

The millionaire businessman was promoting a plan to relocate his pool supply headquarters to a site near the old Crossroads Mall. City staff was cool to the idea.

Grinning, he told City Manager Steve Stanton, "I'm still in the ring."

Thomas also has different addresses for him homestead exception and voter registration.

But longtime Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Kurt Browning said the scenario doesn't add up. Asked Browning: How can Thomas claim the homestead exemption and vote in Largo? "The fact remains you get your homestead on your homestead - where you live," said Browning, past president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections. "Two and two are not equaling four here."

Thomas flew then Largo Mayor Bob Jackson to lobby on his companies behave. He contributed $27,500 to Jackson's campaign. Friends of Largo sent out campaign flyers for Jackson. The winner of the election was Pat Gerald. She opposed land use change deal to expand Thomas's Pinch-A-Penny facility.

What a tangled web we weave...

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Sonic Youth - Kotton Krown

Sonic Youth was one of the bands that got me into punk and indie rock. Listening to Bad Moon Rising was a religious experience. Sister and Daydream Nation are two of the best albums of the eighties.


Sean Hannity: Debate Moderator

Bwah! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Sean Hannity is a potenial moderator for the GOP presidential debate in Orlando. Will Hannity yell and wag his fingers at any of the candidates? Hannity kicked out the "fair and balanced" in his interview with presidential candidate Ron Paul.

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Arlen Specter On Alberto Gonzales

Arlen Spector is hinting Alberto Gonzales may resign before confidence vote.

In a television interview Sunday, Senator Arlen Specter said he expects a number of Republicans will join the Democrats in a "very substantial" vote against Gonzales, if the measure comes to the Senate floor.

Senator Arlen Specter, 17 May 2007
Specter says he thinks Gonzales will resign in preference to having such a mark on his record.

Specter spoke on Face the Nation on the no confidence vote.

Schieffer: "What leads you, Senator, to the conclusion that he will probably step down before such a vote is taken?"

Specter: "Because of the likelihood of a very substantial vote of no confidence, and I think that if and when he sees that coming that he would prefer to avoid that kind of an historical black mark."

Specter said Gonzales was no longer a credible Attorney General. He will still not vote against Gonzales.

"I think the actual termination is a personal one for the attorney general, and also for the president."

A true profile in courage.

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Via Bryan: Du'a Khalil Aswad was a a lovely 17-years-old Iraq woman of the Yazidi sect faith. She was beaten and stoned to death because she was romanticly involved with a man who was a Sunni Muslim. Three police officers watched as Aswad was murdered. Her male attackers believed this was an honor killing. She was beaten for 30 minutes. There is nothing honorable about murdering a defenseness woman. The level of sickness is these men filming Aswad's murder on phone cameras.

Al Jazeera reports three men have been arrested. The police may have delivered Aswad to her killers.

They ran away together to an address in Bashika. The girl's family alerted the police and Du'a and her boyfriend were found just a few days later.

According to Ms Nammi, who is calling for the girl's killers to be brought to justice, Du'a was arrested and put into prison.

A few days later, the police apparently received assurances from the leader of her tribe - who Ms Nammi believes is Du'a's uncle - that the girl would not be harmed.

But the police were present during Aswad's murder. The stories become conflicted. No one is going to take responsibility for an international human rights scandal.

On the video, Du'a's screams can be heard as she is dragged to the ground. In a further humiliation, her lower body has been stripped.

Instinctively, Du'a tries to cover herself; only later was a piece of clothing thrown over her.

She is surrounded by an enormous crowd jockeying for a good view of the ritualistic killing. About nine men take part in the attack, including, it is thought, members of the girl's family.

To any father of a daughter, that a helpless girl should be set upon with such cowardly savagery is beyond comprehension. One can barely imagine her terror.

It is a profoundly disturbing spectacle. One man kicks her hard between the legs as she screams in agony. Du'a tries to lift herself up, but someone hurls a concrete block into her face.

Another man stamps on her face. Someone kicks her in the stomach. Police officers stand idly by, some of them apparently enjoying the spectacle as much as anyone else.

Muslim feminist Yanar Mohammed and Dr. Sima Samar speak to Democracy Now about the murder.

YANAR MOHAMMED: Well, you just said it. Honor killing is becoming something to celebrate in Iraq now, and this did not happen before the last years that we experienced in the post-war Iraq. When a young woman is killed -- actually, it was more than eight to nine males around her. It was hundreds of males standing around. None of them helped, but they were very keen on photographing the scene, on videotaping it on their cell phones, on their mobile phones. And on top of that, the part, the information that’s missing in the report is that some of our codes, the penal codes, which is part of our laws, they support the killing of women if they are “dishonorable.”

So what happened in this new Iraq, the so-called liberation of Iraq has turned women into refugees inside their country. Millions of us are vulnerable to be killed, and all our lives are threatened, and there is nobody to secure our lives for us. The policemen were standing and watching, and actually they helped to get the young girl back to the place where she was killed. So by constitution, we have lost our rights. Honor killings are on the rise. Kidnappings of women are getting more now. Our organization’s work proves that human trafficking is still rising, and not much is being done about it.

And when you look at the situation, it’s as if the country was occupied and later on handed down to the extremists who were responsible of the 9/11. Why are all the TV outlets given to Islamists? Where are the democrats? Why aren’t they being supported? Where are the seculars? Why are the women's groups not being supported? And we are one example of those. It is as if it was a plan to make us weaker -- the women, the freedom-loving people of Iraq -- and to support the extremists, to give them, to hand the government over to them.

Iraq is not getting better. The country is a lawless land. The Los Angeles Times reports Iraq is helping fund al-Qaeda.

In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.

The influx of money has bolstered Al Qaeda's leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping and reasserting influence over its far-flung network. The trend also signals a reversal in the traditional flow of Al Qaeda funds, with the network's leadership surviving to a large extent on money coming in from its most profitable franchise, rather than distributing funds from headquarters to distant cells.

Al Qaeda was financially broke. The chaos in Iraq changed that.

"Iraq is a big moneymaker for them," said a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official.

The Bush administration's policy has turned Iraq into an Islamic extremist paradise.

Update: Iraqi woman protested the murder in Arbil.

Here is a much more graphic video. The site also has porn ads. Viewer discretion advised.

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Quote of the Day

More proof that David Broder is delussional.

History will record that both of them saw the threat to the West posed by terrorism and responded courageously. The wisdom of their policy and the conduct of their governments are not likely to be judged as highly.

Related: Classic David Broder

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Bye Bye Recess Appointments

Harry Reid brilliantly devised a way to stop President Bush from sneaking wingnut nominees through when the Senate is not in session.

We hear that over the long August vacation, when those types of summer hires are made, Reid will call the Senate into session just long enough to force the prez to send his nominees who need confirmation to the chamber. The talk is he will hold a quickie “pro forma” session every 10 days, tapping a local senator to run the hall. Senate workers and Republicans are miffed, but Reid is proving that he’s the new sheriff in town.


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Crist Ducks Family Florida Policy Council Event

I find it fascinating how Republican politicians want to keep Christian Right activists at arm's length. Popular Governor Charlie Crist turned down an invitation to speak to Family Florida Policy Council. Dark horse candidates Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownbeck went to the event and gave a major pep talk.

''Please don't give up now,'' said Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who was followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. ``We can win this fight.''

Well said by two men polling in the single digits in Idaho.

Crist was far more receptive towards the Christian Right when he was a candidate. He told a Roman Catholic priest he would sign a bill to ban abortion. The Hatemonger Rev. O'Neill Dozier was a major Crist backer. Dozier showed his intolerance by attempting to shut down the construction of a peaceful Islamic mosque.

On September 23, 2006 The Miami Herald reported, "The Rev. O'Neal Dozier suffered another political slap Friday. Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist told his staff to take the Pompano Beach minister off all his campaign committees. The move comes after the Rev. Dozier characterized Islam as a 'cult' and a 'dangerous religion,' on a South Florida radio talk show in July. Dozier also recently announced plans to distribute booklets to residents living near the site of a future mosque in a black Pompano Beach community. 'While Charlie Crist respects Rev. Dozier's right to express his political and religious beliefs, he does not agree with Rev. Dozier's recent statements and writings concerning Islam,' according to a statement issued Friday by Crist's deputy press secretary Erin Isaac. 'While radical jihadists give Islam a bad name, Charlie Crist believes that we must not confuse those who practice any religion with a prayer toward peace with extremists who pervert religion to further a radical cause.' The Rev. Dozier initially made his remarks on the radio show and several times in discussing his opposition to construction of a mosque in a 'black Christian' Pompano Beach community. Dozier and others opposing the mosque -- which has been approved -- have also said they would rather see affordable housing on the roughly 5-acre property. Dozier confirmed that someone from Crist's campaign called Friday about his removal. 'I'm just simply doing what I think any true pastor would do,' Dozier said."

The GOP has a very sick relationship with the Christian Right. Christian religion and politics have both been tainted by this merger.

Update: TampaBay Democrat has a post on Florida Family Policy Council gala.

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Mike Huckabee On Terri Schiavo

Mike Huckabee provides an artful dodge on the Terri Schiavo issue. He wants to a Christian conservative and a federalist.

On governmental intervention in the Terri Schiavo case: “I had no problem with the state getting involved because it’s one of their citizens. but I wasn’t sure how the federal government had a role in all that.”

Skeptical social conservatives will read that as Huckabee would let laws get in the way of standing by principle. That is giving Huckabee too much credit. Huckabee has no regard for Terri's Law being illegal. The Florida Supreme Court ruled Terri's Law overstepped the separation of powers.


The cornerstone of American democracy known as separation of powers
recognizes three separate branches of government—the executive, the legislative, and the judicial—each with its own powers and responsibilities. In Florida, the constitutional doctrine has been expressly codified in article II, section 3 of the
Florida Constitution, which not only divides state government into three branches
but also expressly prohibits one branch from exercising the powers of the other two

Branches of Government.--The powers of the state government shall be divided into legislative, executive and judicial branches. No person belonging to one branch shall exercise any powers appertaining to either of the other branches unless expressly provided herein.

“This Court . . . has traditionally applied a strict separation of powers doctrine,”
State v. Cotton, 769 So. 2d 345, 353 (Fla. 2000), and has explained that this doctrine “encompasses two fundamental prohibitions. The first is that no branch may encroach upon the powers of another. The second is that no branch may delegate to another branch its constitutionally assigned power.” Chiles v. Children
A, B, C, D, E, & F, 589 So. 2d 260, 264 (Fla. 1991) (citation omitted).
The circuit court found that chapter 2003-418 violates both of these
prohibitions, and we address each separately below. Our standard of review is de
novo. See Major League Baseball v. Morsani, 790 So. 2d 1071, 1074 (Fla. 2001)
(stating that a trial court’s ruling on a motion for summary judgment posing a pure
question of law is subject to de novo review).

The Florida Supreme Court failed to factor that Terri's Law was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. All the laws must be applied to cititzens equally. Florida law provides "life-prolonging procedures may be withheld" if a vegetative patient if the guardian, the physician and medical ethics committee if it is in the best interest of the patient. Bush and the legislature made a law strickly to benefit the wishes of Schiavo's parents. The Supreme Court rightfully refused to hear the case.

I understand that Huckabee is trying to pander for votes. What a presidential candidates say matters. Huckabee's comments give a framework into the policy decisions he will make. Huckabee comes off as clueless.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Arcade Fire, Massey Hall, Toronto, 16 May 2007

B(oo)tleg as an Arcade Fire concert recorded in Toronto on may 16, 2007.

Set list

0. intro
1. Black Mirror
2. No Cars Go
3. Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
4. Haiti
5. Black Wave/Bad Vibrations
6. My Body is a Cage
7. Neon Bible
8. partners in health (talk)
9. Windowsill
10. The Well and the Lighthouse
11. Crown of Love
12. Ocean of Noise
13. (Antichrist Television Blues)
14. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
15. Rebellion (Lies)
16. cheering
17. Keep the Car Running
18. Intervention
19. cheering
20. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)


Family Guy: Republican Talking Points

When in doubt, mention Jesus and terrists to voters.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Buddy Dyer Avoids Homeless Protest

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer attended a fundraiser at the Urban Think bookstore. Food Not Bombs protested outside. The City of Orlando has an ordinance that prohibits feeding large groups in public parks. The ordinance was designed to prevent homeless feedings. Pols aren't going to word ordinances saying homeless people can't be feed. That would legally be discriminatory.

WFTV a video story. Jackie Dowd has a post on the subject.

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How Blogging Gets Sidetracked

Jill has come to the defense of Jessica Valenti and her book Full Frontal Feminism. I don't know all the details of the feminist blogging controversy with the book. I did leave this comment.

The debate about the book seems to take away from feminism as a way to make the lives of women better. Equal rights, pay, sexual respect in the workplace. etc. I haven't read Jessica Valenti's book. (I can't find it in a bookstore in Tampa.) My fellow blogger Litbrit was to review it.

Jill made an interesting remark in the post.

Jessica is also criticized for ignoring issues of non-white, non-middle-class women — and when I read those criticisms, I have to wonder if the commenters have read the book. Because Jessica recognizes the racism within the feminist movement.

My response.

Many of these women Jill mentioned will not have the opportunity to go to college. They won't read Virginia Woolf. They will wait tables and work two jobs to support their children. How can their lives be made better is a question not asked enough.

These women need health care, grants for schooling, daycare, transportation to work, quality housing and a laundry list of other things. Do these women even relate to feminism? It's hard to imagine grad school feminism arguments are something they would care about. They are living check to check. It has no bearing on their day to day lives.

Telling women about empowerment is one thing. Putting empowerment within their reach is what needs to be done. I'm not schooled in feminist theory. I don't claim to have the answers. We often lose (sight) of why we started blogging to begin with. We should be trying to make a positive impact on people's lives.

It is interesting how the inside-blogging-stuff distracts the left from making change. I'm as guilty of it as anyone else. We should take pause as progressives and ask ourselves why we started blogging to begin with.

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Enhanced Interrogation Techniques Are Torture

Andrew Sullivan explains to Brit Hume and Mitt Romney that enhanced interrogation techniques is torture. Sullivan cites 18 U.S. Code § 2340.

"As used in this chapter— (1) 'torture' means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

(2) 'severe mental pain or suffering' means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from— (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality; (C) the threat of imminent death; or (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and

(3) 'United States' means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States."

The bullshit wording by conservatives has changed. Rush Limbaugh described torture as a "fraternity prank." What Romney and Hume don't have the courage to discuss are the murders committed under the Bush administration's policy.

This is the body of Manadel al-Jamadi. He was tortured by the CIA.

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Here we see Charles Graner gleefully posing over the body of al-Jamadi.

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These are the enhanced interrogation techniques used on al-Jamadi.

Manadel Jamadi was an Iraqi prisoner who died in United States custody during interrogation at Abu Ghraib prison in November 2003. His name became known in 2004 when the Abu Ghraib scandal made news; his corpse, packed in ice, was the background for widely-reprinted pictures of grinning United States Army Specialists Sabrina Harman and Charles Graner, each offering a "thumbs-up" gesture. But the cause of his death was not generally known until February 17, 2005, when it was revealed that he had died after a fruitless half-hour interrogation, during which he was suspended from a barred window by his wrists, which were bound behind his back. News reports introduced the term "Palestinian hanging," a coinage attributed to the alleged frequent use of this technique by Israeli troops on Palestinian prisoners. Since at least the sixteenth century, this torture has been known as strappado.

Associated Press correspondent Seth Hettena reported that 30 minutes after beginning his questioning of the prisoner, the interrogator called for guards to reposition al-Jamadi, who he believed was "playing possum" as he slouched with his arms stretched behind him. But the guards found otherwise.

"After we found out he was dead, they were nervous," Specialist Dennis Stevanus said of the CIA interrogator and translator. "They didn't know what the hell to do." [1]

"They didn't know what the hell to do."

That sums up our interrogation policy.

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