Monday, June 25, 2007

Positive Healthcare Petition

Positive Health is running an online petition. Charlie Crist and the Florida legislature wish to make HIV treatment privatized. Positive Health wants to stop this.

In a move that threatens the continuity--and quality--of care for thousands of Floridians living with HIV/AIDS, Governor Charlie Crist’s 'Agency for Health Care Administration' (ACHA) is making drastic changes to a disease management (DM) initiative intended to improve the heath outcomes of Florida's HIV/AIDS Medicaid patients while reducing costs to the state. After eight years of successfully serving more than 8,000 patients in all 67 counties in Florida with AIDS Healthcare Foundation's 'Positive Healthcare-Florida' disease management program, Florida has announced it will shift disease management for this vulnerable, often hard to reach population to a private, for-profit vendor who will have to recreate a replacement HIV/AIDS DM program virtually from scratch with greatly reduced nursing staffing ratios.

Sign the petition.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Quote of the Day

Mitt Romney really wanted to serve his country in Vietnam. It's that pesky draft deferral to do missionary work in France that got in the way.

"I really don’t recall thinking about political positions when I was knocking at the door in France" as a missionary, Romney said. "I was supportive of my country. I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam."

It would have been more convincing if Romney did missionary work in Sudan or some other third world hell hole. France isn't exactly toughing it out. A reporter should ask Romney if he wanted to serve so bad than why didn't he enlist. It's a fair question.

I don't blame any person of draft age for not serving in Vietnam. Johnson and Nixon both thought the war was a lost cause. What is amazing is that Republican candidates can't admit the obvious. Besides, their egos being bruised for coming off as wusses. It says much about their judgement on military policy matters.

Hat tip to Liberal Avenger.

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Representative #3 Starts Legal Defense Fund

There should be no doubt that Tom Feeney is in trouble.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney established a legal defense fund this week to defray costs relating to an ongoing federal inquiry into his ties with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Department of Justice lawyers and our lawyers have been speaking. We will cooperate," said the Oviedo Republican, who denied Friday that he is the target of a federal probe.

When asked why he established the fund, Feeney said he was being cautious and that it would be used to "demonstrate conclusively that I always have acted with honesty and integrity."

Tom Delay was making the same pronouncements when he set up his legal defense fund. It was so convincing that Delay decided not to run for another term. All this is interesting, considering how Feeney told the media he is not a target of an investigation.

Let's review Feeney's Abramoff history. Feeney was interviewed by the FBI about his Scotland golfing trip paid for by Abramoff. Feeney was forced to reinburse the U.S. Treasury $5,643 for violating House ethics rules.

The FBI did something highly unusual. They asked the St. Petersburg Times and Orlando Sentinel about emails they received from Feeney's office. Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell wrote, "But an agent did so just last week -- wanting whatever I could give him about Tom Feeney and Jack Abramoff. He wanted e-mail, maybe notes as well, from as far back as two years ago."

Feeney is known as Representative #3 in FBI documents.

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John Edwards Coming to Tampa

John Edwards is coming to Tampa's Lowery Park Zoo on June 29th. He will speak at 7:00 PM. Admission is 15 dollars. You can buy tickets at the Edwards campaign site.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Countdown on RNC Email Scandal

Keith Olbermann does an excellent news piece on the RNC email scandal.

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Little Nixon

Dick Cheney shows an obsession with secrecy that would make Richard Nixon blush.

A lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney told the Secret Service in September to eliminate data on who visited Cheney at his official residence, a newly disclosed letter states.

The Sept. 13, 2006, letter from Cheney's lawyer says logs for Cheney's residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory are subject to the Presidential Records Act.

Such a designation prevents the public from learning who visited the vice president.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington are suing to make the visitors' log public.

The problem is the Secret Service is ordered to maintain no record of Cheney's visitors, once they hand over the logs to the Vice-President's office. Suffice it to say, CREW isn't counting on Cheney to make those logs public. That is why we now have the lawsuit.

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Ten Year-Old Homeless Beater Sentencing Postponed

Sentencing has been delayedfor a ten year-old boy convicted of assaulting homeless man John D'Amico. A previous post details how severely the boy and his friends beat D'Amico.

Then they got off their bikes and started throwing larger rocks, he said.

D'Amico said he fell into a wall after the 17-year-old punched him in the face, breaking the brick wall. One of the 10-year-olds then slammed a piece of the broken wall onto his face, he said.

"They were big kids for their age," D'Amico told The Associated Press from his hospital bed, his left eye bloody, bruised and swollen shut. "The little kid was taunting me. The big kid came over and just slugged me. If they just would have let me walk on, I would have walked on."

D'Amico's face required reconstructive surgery.

This is one of these stories that makes me wonder what the hell were these kids thinking. I don't want to go off on a self-servingly sanctimonious rant. That won't stop another attack like this from happening again.

We can go on about bad parenting, youth gang mentality and even blame Marilyn Manson; just to make wingnuts happy. I would rather listen to what people who experienced these attacks have to say. We might learn something. Figuring out the problem is the first step towards a solution.

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Tax Cuts Hit Social Programs

The Florida Times-Union has a good brswak down of how Jacksonville nonprofits will be affected by tax cuts.

First Coast African American Chamber of Commerce

Budget: $300,000

Alzheimer's Association

Budget: $1,335,763

Compassionate Families

Budget: $200,000

These agencies are not rolling in pork. Jacksonville is cutting $10 million from public grant funds. These cuts will hit these agencies hard. If people were polled, I'm sure they would have no problem paying tax dollars for caregivers of Alzheimer patients. I'm always amazed at how conservatives view social programs as fiscally irresponsible, but sports arenas as a postive use of tax dollars.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sopranos Ending

I love the fact that the Sopranos had an open ending that left it to the audience's imagination. Life doesn't end in a cute little package. Neither does the show. That explain creator David Chase's musical choice of Journey's Don't Stop Believin".

Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

I read a comment from Youtube the the diner was filled with Tony Soprano enemies from different seasons.

my local radio show said the black guys are from season 2 who shot at tony because he wanted to tear down the projects they lived in. the guy in the USA hat is the brother of a guy tony killed in season 3. the guy at the bar is Phil Leatardos nephew. the screen goind black represents when tony and bobby were talkin about death on bobbys boat, and tony said when you die you wont know youll just go black.....

I'm not sure if I buy the theory, but it's interesting. Chase does an interesting thing of a family having a mundane dinner while creating forboding danger in the background. The only other filmmaker I've seen make everyday life seem so dangerous is Pauil Thomas Anderson's work in Boogie Nights.

The problem people have with The Sopranos ending is that they expect things to be clearly spelled out to them. That would work for the season finale of Friends. Not The Sopranos.

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Shocking News: Surge Not Working

A Pentagon report states what everyone already knows about the results of the surge and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s (lack of) leadership. This is coming from an Army Times article.

A Pentagon report released last week concluded that violence in Iraq edged higher during a four-month period between February and May — despite a U.S.-led security push in Baghdad. The report also raised questions about Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s ability to fulfill a pledge made in January to prohibit political interference in security operations and to allow no safe havens for sectarian militias.

Al-Maliki told USA Today that "terrorism and militias — especially terrorism — cannot be dealt with only by using tanks, guns and aircraft." This isn't the guy that will play hardball with insurgents and al-Qaeda. This is a different tune than what he was singing when he came into office.

As Prime Minister, al-Maliki has vowed to crack down on militias which he calls "organized armed groups who are acting outside the state and outside the law."

Much has been made of how General Petraeus's September report. In Washington, it has served as an unofficial deadline for continued U.S. involvement in Iraq. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has admitted as much on Face the Nation.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said most senators in his party think September is the critical point.

"The proper time to really make a serious evaluation of the direction we ought to head is in September," McConnell said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

It's June and McConnell is very displeased. One can only imagine his mood come September.

``The Iraqi government has been a pretty big disappointment,'' Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican and minority leader, said on CBS's ``Face the Nation'' show. ``We've given them an enormous opportunity here, over the last four years, to have a normal country. And our commitment will not be there forever.''

McConnell is openly discussing pulling troops out of Iraq. This man isn't Chuck Hagel. McConnell is a fierce partisan Republican. If he is jumping off the Iraq bandwagon than the White House is in trouble. Bogart and Bergman will always have Paris. Bush will always have Lieberman.

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There have been complaints from homeowners of Fairway Oaks community in Jacksonville, Florida. Residents have complained about cracks in the foundation and mildew. The community was founded by Habitat for Humanity and is run by HabiJax. Legal Aid has stepped in and has received resistance from HabiJax.

April Charney is with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. She's gathering information from homeowners in the Fairway Oaks community hoping to get answers for them.

"HabiJax is basically taking a 'catch us catch can' approach. The city really isn't stepping up to the plate at this point and offer their resources to get in control of these issues," says April Charney with Jacksonville Legal Aid.

Residents have complained about a mysterious rash that has broken out.

"The dead skin just dries up and it looks like this. It itches, and it hurts," says Johnson as she extends her left wrist to show a dry flaky rash.

That's another problem many have had to cope with. This is also the same area where the mysterious rashes broke out. So far, the Health Department has not found a link between all the cases.

Johnson says her children are also experiencing headaches. Fairway Oaks was built over a former waste site. Community members have asked the Mayor's office to investigate the cause of the rash outbreak.

Legal Aid found that the problems are widespread. Their survey showed neglect from HabiJax.

The Fairway Oaks owners took their complaints to Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, and of 56 who answered a survey for Legal Aid, 41 reported cracked concrete slabs, 22 had cracked walls and 48 said their houses were infested with insects or rodents, presumably because of the cracks. Others reported mold or mildew, nails popping out of plasterboard and other problems. The Habitat for Humanity local affiliate, HabiJax, maintains that the land at Fairway Oaks is stable and that most problems there are housekeeping issues, not structural. City inspectors this month examined six houses and found no violations. But in a vulnerable population, the perceptions have a life of their own. A project built with sweat equity and good will has had unintended consequences, and costs.

Now that the story has made the New York Times website; it will be interesting to see how HabiJax reacts.

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Quote of the Day

Florida House Rep. D. Alan Hays told three medical workers from Positive Healthcare that his cousin was "as queer as a three-dollar bill" and "had that homosexual lifestyle and deserved what he got." Hays is denying the remarks. Positive Healthcare is sticking to their statement and is asking Charlie Crist to renounce Hays's statement.

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Charlie Crist: Being A Populist Means Not Doing the Leadership Thing

This is the most accurate quote on Charlie Crist I have heard. Pollster Jim Kane describes Crist's low profile on the property tax cuts issue.

"I think he wants to go slowly on this to see how public opinion forms before he comes out for it -- or doesn't if it looks like it's going to lose."

Crist is a polical animal at heart. He is not George W. Bush. Crist wants to be liked and maintain his populist image.

The property tax cuts is a loser. It is highly unlikely that the amendment will get the 60 percent yes votes needed to become law.

As Sen. Dan Webster says: "Any lengthy constitutional amendment, especially one with a 60 percent vote, is going to be a tough sell."

The infamous Amendment 3, which made 60 percent the law, did not receive 60 percent approval from voters. Political, it is wise for Crist to stay in the shadows. What is troubling is Crist's leadership void let Marco Rubio turn the property tax issue into his bully pulpit. The St. Petersburg Times ran a harsh editorial against Rubio.

Rubio made it clear Tuesday that he isn't interested in hearing legitimate criticisms about a constitutional amendment that would create an overly generous super homestead exemption to replace the existing $25, 000 exemption and phase out Save Our Homes. He could not care less about alternatives, and he refuses to consider reducing the tax breaks to a more reasonable level.

Rubio has also embarrassed his party by stripping Dennis Ross and Don Brown of the Chairmanship positions and then lying about it. Crist will not enter the fray because that would be making waves in his own party against a rising star. That leaves Rubio to run roughshod over Florida politics. If that means Rubio giving lavish raises to staff members and using tax dollars to remodel the House dining room then so be it. Don't count on Crist to point out this hypocrisy the next time Rubio accuses counties of being fiscally irresponsible.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Site News Update

I have been working a lot of overtime lately. Blogging will be touch and go until further notice.

In the meantime, watch Emmylou Harris sing one of the greatest folk songs ever written.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Adios, Jack!

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Isn't life funny? I've been on an unplanned sabbatical from drawing/blog posting, and while I was gone taking care of other business, the daily visits and page views for Zencomix increased four, some times five hundred percent...I'm sure there's some yin/yang explanation for that mystery....meanwhile, my buddy Costello, the person that my Grill Rats character Tom is based on, above with the Red Sox hat SINGING, passed away from cancer last week. Here's Crazy Jack dressed up for Halloween as Solicit D. Hooker, the Illegitimate Albino Seventh Cousin of Bluesman John Lee Hooker

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Adios, Jack....say hello to your cousin John Lee for me... Zencomix salutes you!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

New Afghan Whigs Song

The song is called Magazine. The track sounds more Twilight Singers than Whigs. Greg Dulli refers to the female love interest as "my enemy." The fact that the lyrics are wrapped in sentimental music makes it all the more creepy. Dulli does the clever thing of having Dana Hamblen sing the lyrics, "You think that I don't know how to destroy ya, don't cha?" No male songwriter has better captured men's bruised vanity from women they have scorned.

The other female singer on the track is Susan Marshall. She has been the backup singer of choice for the Whigs and Cat Power.

The Whigs only put out the song for their greatest hits record Unbreakable. There has been talk from fans that the Whigs should get back together. I'm curious as to what readers think. The band was controversy in their hey day. Drugs and fist fights onstage will do that. (Watch the band smoke weed in this Youtube clip.)

My pal can't stand the Whigs. Go tell her how Whigsy you are.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Another Reason Disney and Myspace Sucks

This has to be the dumbest thing I have heard Disney do. The Blake Babies can not stream their own music on Myspace. The reason is Disney owns the masters. How Disney thinks this will help sells records of a defuct indie pop band is left unexplained.

John Strohm explained that Myspace suspended the Blake Babies streaming privileges. The band is not allowed to post music not owned by Disney. The most surreal thing about all this is the band members wrote the majority of their recording output; barring a few cover tracks.

Okay, I've never posted on here, but something has come up that merits explanation. MySpace pulled the songs we were streaming because The Blake Babies do not own our master recordings -- they are the exclusive property of the Walt Disney corporation. I apologize for this inconvenience; although our intention is only to generate interest in our music and make the streams available to established fans who can't find our recordings elsewhere, our posting the tracks is indeed an infringement of Disney's copyright. They'll get no argument from me.

The frustrating thing is that there are certain Blake Babies recordings that we do own and control (nothing from the original Mammoth catalogue, but some more recent recordings from the reunion phase), and we would very much like to make these recordings available for streaming on this page. Nevertheless, because of the unauthorized use of the Disney recordings, our streaming privileges have been suspended "until further notice." I understand that MySpace must actively police the website and its users to weed out infringing uses. That said, I hope they permit us to post our controlled masters soon. We mean no harm to anyone; to the contrary, our sole intention is to spread the love and make/keep people interested in this band's music.

Strohm is being too kind to Myspace. I'm sure he is aware of that, but why piss off a music marketing monster.

This is the same Myspace that believed they were legally allowed to use any song posted without the artist's consent. Folk singer Billy Bragg said the Myspace policy was copyright infringement.

"The real problem is the fact that they can sub-license it to any company they want and keep the royalities themselves without paying the artist a penny. It also doesn't stipulate that they can use it for non-commercial use only which is what I'd want to see in that clause. The clause is basically far to open for abuse and thus I'm very wary."

The appeal of Myspace perplexes me. I love that I can find new music. The social network aspect is retarded. The layouts and loading speed of the site is dreadful. The blog software is even worse. Myspace users are shocked that lurkers find out embarrassing personal details of their lives. Do people understand the concept of talking to each other in person? Try it people. You might like it.

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