Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Write A Caption: God

God Boxing

Doesn't God as an omnipotent have an unfair advantage as a boxer? I was surprised to find out God looks like a member of an 80s hair metal band. Rock on!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Iggy Pop - Lust For Life

The man is a crazed animal onstage.

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Blackwater Granted Immunity

The Washington Post reports that Blackwater guards may not be prosecuted because State Department investigators granted them immunity during questioning.

FBI agents called in to take over the State Department's investigation two weeks after the Sept. 16 shootings cannot use any information gleaned during questioning of the guards by the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is charged with supervising security contractors.

Some of the Blackwater guards have subsequently refused to be interviewed by the FBI, citing promises of immunity from State, one law enforcement official said. The restrictions on the FBI's use of their initial statements do not preclude prosecution by the Justice Department using other evidence, the official said, but "they make things a lot more complicated and difficult."

This makes no sense from a prosecution standpoint. That was probably why the State Department did it. The affect is the FBI investigation has been sabotaged. Blackwater guards are citing their immunity to the FBI and refusing to answer questions.

"You can't use the fruits of that statement," another law enforcement official said. "It doesn't prevent them from talking [to the FBI], but . . . why run the risk? I think any lawyer would advise against it. "

The State Department refuses to share interview transcripts and other information pertaining to the Blackwater investigation. The Bush administration is fighting against a bill that would put Blackwater and other contractors under military law. This is a malicious effort to protect a company that neither the Iraqi people or U.S. military personal want in country. U.S. Army infantry officer Robert Bateman wrote an op-ed about how he was nearly killed twice by Blackwater.

This understanding of the backlash effect from dishonoring an Iraqi is included in a past military counterinsurgency manual, "Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II," recently re-published by the University of Chicago Press. But the reality is that Blackwater USA, from top to bottom, just does not care.

What employees of the private security firm care about, and I have heard this from the Blackwaters with whom I interacted in Iraq, is their paycheck. They care about their huge compensation packages, and about getting home alive to spend them. Blackwater USA has already taken in more than $1 billion from the public coffers.

When Iraqis see Blackwater shooting at innocent civilians they associate the company and the U.S. military as one and the same. Their behavior endangers American soldiers and the mission in Iraq. The administration that condones torture doesn't care about the civilians they claim to be liberating. They Iraqis as collateral damage.

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Thompson's Strategy: Lose Iowa and New Hampshire

Fred Thompson has a fascinating campaign strategy. He is going to blow off Iowa and New Hampshire. He is banking on South Carolina to pull him through. This is a disasterous strategy. No candidate, in recent history, has received his party's nomination without winning 2 out of 3. He is setting himself up for defeat.

If Thompson is banking on South Carolina then he should spend more time in the state. He has only been there twice since entering the race. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have campaigned more aggressively and had a head start putting their staff in the state. Thompson laments that he can't campaign more because he has to raise money. If he didn't wait so long to enter he wouldn't have this problem.

This would explain why so many people left the campaign. No serious political consultant would tell Thompson to run a presidential campaign this way. There his also his stance against government intervention of end of life issues that is bound to offend the Christian Right. Thompson is self-destructing.

The bright side for Thompson, if his candidacy fails, is he can land a role in the Curly Sue sequel.


Pushing Rope Not Member of FNC

I was asked by the media if Pushing Rope is a member of the Florida Netroots Coalition. The answer is no. The blog isn't even on the FNC blogroll. Gene Smith officially announced that the FNC is an official Florida Democratic Party club.

On Sunday, October 28, 2007, the Florida Democratic Party Central Committee approved the recommendation of the Committee on Clubs, Caucuses and Organizations to grant approval to the charter application of the Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition.

Only two Pushing Rope members live in Florida. The others have no dealings with the Florida netroots. Litbrit and I are not members of the FNC. I do wish the FNC luck and congratulate them on their new status.

Update: Kenneth Quinnell informed me that the Florida Netroots blog is not affiliated with the Florida Netroots Coalition.

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All In the Family

Is there anyone in America Barack Obama is not related to? First it was George W. Bush. Next it was Dick Cheney. Now he is a distant relative of Brad Pitt.

Pitt told the Post, "If it is true, I consider it great company."

The website did the research for the Post.

My only claim to fame is having the same name as the RateMyTeacher creator and a famous cricket player.

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Fox News

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Andrew Meyer Gets Probation

Andrew "Don't Tase Me, Bro" Meyer will not go to jail. He was given 18 months probation in exchange for community sevice, a donation to American Cancer Society and the writing three apology letters. One each to the University of Florida, and Bernie Machen and UF Police Department.

State Attorney Bill Cervone explains the plea agreement.

“It is to me important to remember that in our community, perhaps more than in many others, we deal with a large number of young people, some of whom cross the line into criminal behavior without necessarily intending to do so and without understanding the possible consequences to their futures of what they are doing. A responsible society should attempt to correct rather than simply punish such behavior when there is no indication that doing so risks creating a threat to the safety or peace of the community. This agreement accomplishes that and puts the burden on Mr. Meyer to demonstrate his ability to be a productive participant in society, which I trust he will do," Cervone said.

Meyer issued a statemant expressing he is aware of the error of his ways.

"I didn't write write these letters to get off the hook," Meyer states. "I wrote them genuinely, accepting responsibility for breaking the forum rules. I am truly sorry, especially for the negative spotlight which has been cast on the university."

UF has enough image problems without Taser Boy. Meyer created an PR problem for the Left. Michelle Malkin (who has her own image problems of her own) used Meyer to brand lefties ranting lunatics. People like Meyer are the gift that keeps giving to the Right-wing noise machine.

I don't think Meyer should have been tased. I was outraged when I first saw the video. That doesn't mean Meyer should have butt in front of people hog the microphone and not give John Kerry a chance to answer his questions. That behavior is better suited for Bill O'Reilly's show and not a public forum.

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How Is The Black Outreach Program Going For the Republican Party of Florida?

The Republican Party of Florida outreach to black voters is turning out to be a hysterical disaster. Deon Long is the head of the Florida Federation of Black Republicans. The RPF and FFBR co-sponsored a reception. For reasons not explained, one of Chairman Jim Greer's staffers rushed to the podium to pray the microphone from an "an expletive-shouting Long."

Long has problems with Greer's management style.

But Long said Greer is interfering with the federation's volunteer efforts. "They try to divide and conquer us if one group of Negroes isn't doing what you want them to do,'' he said.

Hang on a second. What black man in the 21 century still refers to his race as "Negroes"? The kind of man that curses into a microphone at the party's state convention.

Greer isn't much of a fan of Long.

"Since he became chairman, there's been a turbulent relationship,'' he said. "We have a right to ensure that groups that we charter are on the same page.''

It gets better. Long and Greer are going to meet to work out their differences. This should be entertaining. Just don't expect Greer to devote much time to making up with Long. Black Democrats outnumber black Republicans 15 to 1. Florida has 16 African-American Republican clubs. Greer told the Orlando Sentinel:

"I'm hoping we can resolve our differences," Greer said. "But the party does have a very specific direction we want to go. I'm sorry Mr. Long doesn't agree with all of what we're doing."

Florida Republicans aren't going to win or considerably shave off the black vote. Greer knows this, but has to deal with Long's attacks because the GOP doesn't want to be viewed as the party that bashes blacks, Hispanics, women, and gays. If they really wanted more minority voters that would stop running variations of the Southern strategy every campaign cycle. Otherwise, this is nothing more than PR marketing.

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Litbrit On Winning Best Writer

Litbrit gives thanks and expresses how happy she is to win best writer.

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Write A Caption: Daniel Pipes and Dr. Evil

Why do neoconservatives and supervillains have the arched-eyebrow look going?

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Faux Fema News

FEMA hasn't learned anything. Watch their fake press conference with fake reporters.


McCain Abstains From Woodstock Museum Vote

John McCain attacked Hillary Clinton for a $1 million earmark for the Woodstock museum. He wanted to do some hippie-bashing to help his sagging poll and fundraising numbers. Turns out McCain didn't bother to show up to vote against the the bill the earmark was placed in. Nor did he attempt to take the Woodstock earmark out of the bill. Tom Coburn was the Senator that issued an amendment to take the language out.

The moral of the story is a horrible political candidate will resort to attacking a candidate in the other party's primary election to get some attention. He never intended to actually do anything about the Woodstock earmark. That was never the point. Grandstanding is a specialty for a man whose only base is the media that used to be in awe of him.

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The Fire of Mike Gavel Part 2

Mark Lane noticed that Mike Gravel is polling below wouldn't vote in a Quinnipiac University Florida poll. That didn't stop FDP contention attendees from greeting him like a Roman general back from a great victory.

Biden 1%
Clinton 43
Dodd -
Edwards 12
Gravel -
Kucinich 1
Obama 18
Richardson 3
DK/NA 17

The convention was lacking Democrats with national name-recognition. Gravel spoke twice. Even local Democrats couldn't keep a straight face about Gravel.

Joked Steve Geller, Florida Senate Democratic leader: "Mike Gravel is a very serious candidate for president, and people should come out to watch him."

Even more hysterical, the convention's musical entertainment was billed as "the legendary band Orleans." People didn't who Orleans was when I told them the band was playing the convention.

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Matt Stoller On Boyd and Wasserman Schultz

FDP convention speaker Matt Stoller was interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times about congressional Democrats Alan Boyd and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

"She gave $1,000 to Dan Lipinski...He's an extraordinarily conservative Democrat, a Rush Limbaugh listener in a plus-10 Democratic district" Stoller said of Schultz. "I don't know if she's progressive or not, but I have my doubts where her loyalty lies. I don't believe these people any more."

She appeared to woo his pants off. Reads Matt's post. It's a giant shoutout to the Florida netroots. "Ray Seaman is in da houze!"

Stoller is really harsh on Boyd.

"He's awful. There's no question he's a terrible congressman. He's a terrible person...Lots of people are dead because of the moral cowardice of these people."

Stoller also goes off on the DCCC leadership. Take it for what it's worth. The guy did think Wesley Clark was going to be the next president.

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The Torture Presidency

Andrew Sullivan has a must read post on Charlie Savage's book "Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency." The Bush administration approved the torture of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libbi. He confessed information that Al Qaeda was attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

"Al Qaeda continues to have a deep interest in acquiring weapons of mass destruction," Colin Powell told the Untied Nations. "I can trace the story of a sernior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to al Qaeda. Fortunately, this operative is now detained and he has told his story."

The information was tortured out of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libbi was bogus. He was tortured by means of waterboarding and hypothermia. He told his interrogators what they wanted to hear for one simple reason. So they would stop. Former Vietnam POW and Senator John McCain wrote, "I gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, knowing that providing them false information was sufficient to suspend the abuse."

The intelligence used to make the case for the Iraq war was gained through methods of torture. We know now that the WMD intelligence was fraudulent. The question is how much intelligence was achieved through torture? This is a question that will haunt America for a long time.

Sullivan is right. Not only is torture barbaric - it is is threat to America's national security. How many intelligence resources are sent chasing phony leads? How many lives could have been spared if Bush wasn't given the authorization to declare war on Iraq? Would Osama bin Laden be captured or killed if we didn't divert troops from Afhanistan. We may never know the answers to these questions. We do know that torture doesn't work.

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Henry Hyde Wins Medal of Freedom

I literally laughed my ass off when I found out that George W. Bush has bestowed the Medal of Freedon upon Henry Hyde. It seems that Bush is trying to out fuck up the trifecta of former Medal of Freedon recipients George Tenet, Paul Bremer and Tommy Franks.

Another classic Bush moment in arrogance was bestowing the award to Norman "Bomb Iran" Podhoretz in 2004. Bush cynically looks at the award as a way to payoff cronies. Including those that give him horrible advise on Middle East policy.

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Property Tax Amendment Deal Not Likely

I have avoided the property taxcut amendment madness. I have no idea what is going on. Neither does the Florida legislature. Turns out the deal is close to dead. The House is throwing a fit after the Senate backed a more fiscally sane package.

As the House of Representatives posititions itself to reject the Senate's tax plan, and therefore scuttle a tax-cut plan for voters Jan. 29, Gov. Charlie Crist is dialing furiously.

"Vote this out. Just get it done, buddy," he's purportedly telling legislators. He's reminding them they can come back and cut more in spring and that they should remember: This is for the people. Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp is working legislators as well.

The Senate has left for the session and the House has until 11:59 PM tomorrow to approve the amendment for the January 29th ballot. Marco Rubio must decide will he compromise or grandstand. He will been doing the latter since he has become Speaker of the House and has little to show in actual accomplishments.

I look at Rubio as a classic example that term limits don't work. He doesn't understand backroom dealing or getting the public to support his mandate. He is a intellectual lightweight wth delussional of political grandeur. He would be a backbencher if it wasn't for term limits. Instead, he is the Speaker of the House.

The people whom support things like term can't name five presidential candidates. Try quizzing the next person that goes on an irate rant about term limits. I bet it's a middle-aged guy that doesn't read the newspaper or vote. He probably doesn't know who his congressional representative is or which party is in the majority in the U.S. House and Senate. People that care about politics end up with Marco Rubio, Johnnie Byrd and Tom Feeney has the speaker of the Florida House. Ask a term limits fan if he knows who these three men are. I bet the answer is not fucking likely.

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Litbrit Wins Best Writer

One of the things I wanted to do, when Litbrit came on to Pushing Rope, was make people in the Tampa and Florida blogosphere more aware of her writing. She was known nationally for writing on Shakesville and Ezra Klein. She received no attention in the Tampa blogosphere. She isn't even on the Sticks of Fire Tampa area blogroll. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to nominate the Litster when Kenneth Quinnell asked for nominations for the Florida Netroots awards. The rest is history.

Litbrit is the 2007 winner for best writer. Kenneth Quinnel sums up why she deserved to win.

Winner Best Writer: While I’m a little sad I didn’t win this category, I didn’t deserve to, since Litbrit is without a doubt the best writer we have in the Florida blogosphere. I voted for her myself. Now you need to start reading her writing much more frequently.

Writers often need encourage (and sometines large quantities of alcohol) to keep them inspired. Many political bloggers receive little traffic, but continue to write because of their passion for politics and self-expression. Litbrit has both qualities in spades. Pushing Rope is proud to have her as one of our members. We just get grumpy about having to share her with Shakes and Ezra.

In other news: I lost in the best national blogger category. Blast Off won and I wish Sinfonian the best. He was extremely gracious towards me and Mustang Bobby in his victory post.

My consolation is Reuters News running one of my blog posts. That is the first post that has ever been freelanced. The only problem is I never gave Reuters permission to run my entire posts. I did sign with Blogburst. Reuters runs posts from that service.

Today is a great day for the Florida progressive blogosphere.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Matt Lauer Interview of Larry Craig

PoliticsTV has compiled the top ten moments of the Larry Craig interview. My favorite moment is he has never cast negative judgement of another person's sex life. That doesn't pass the laugh test.

SEN. CRAIG: Well, I don't know where the Senate's going to be on that issue of an up or down vote on impeachment, but I will tell you that the Senate certainly can bring about a censure reslution and it's a slap on the wrist. It's a, "Bad boy, Bill Clinton. You're a naughty boy." The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy, a naughty boy.

I'm going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy.

I am so glad Craig is sticking around for the 2008 elections. He is a poster boy the the Republicans hypocrisy of moral values. The GOP demonizes gays and Hispanics for political gain. They played to the most hateful of the electorate to gain power. Nevermind that kingmakers such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson are unhinged, greedy and equally hypocritical.

The party of abstinence is having a tough time keeping it's pants up. David Vitter likes hookers. Mark Foley obsessively went after male teen pages. Bob Allen laughably claimed he offered to pay a man and give him blowjob because he was in fear for his life.

The Christian Right leadership would back any of these people if they at a legimate shot of being re-elected. James Dobson will certainly back the philandering Giuliani or Morman Romney over a Democrat. Republican victories matter more than actually helping the sick and poor. Falwell and Robertson gleefully told their audience that America deserved the 9-11 attacks.

Falwell: The ACLU has got to take a lot of blame for this. And I know I'll hear from them for this, but throwing God...successfully with the help of the federal court system...throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad...I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America...I point the thing in their face and say you helped this happen.

Robertson: I totally concur, and the problem is we've adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government, and so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do, and the top people, of course, is the court system."

Falwell: Pat, did you notice yesterday that the ACLU and all the Christ-haters, the People for the American Way, NOW, etc., were totally disregarded by the Democrats and the Republicans in both houses of Congress, as they went out on the steps and and called out to God in prayer and sang 'God bless America' and said, let the ACLU be hanged. In other words, when the nation is on its knees, the only normal and natural and spiritual thing to do is what we ought to be doing all the time, calling on God."

How can these men be so hateful while the rest while the rest of the country is reeling? The Bush campaign went out of their way to cater to them. Falwell gave the opening prayer at the 2004 Republican National Convention and was allowed to attend the Washington National Cathedral memorial service. Even though President Bush didn't want to be seen near him.

The GOP is now in facing the prospect of losing the presidency and more seats in Congress. Jesus said, "But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand." The same holds true for houses built on shit.

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Bill Nelson Runs Mouth Again

Will someone please tell Bill Nelson to shut up? He is making the primary situation worse everytime he opens his mouth.

He even bashed the leaders of his party as 'political party bosses in Washington' and accused them, as he has previously, of violating Floridians' right to vote.

'The average citizen in Florida can no longer see their candidates for president,' Nelson said. 'The party bosses have barred them from campaigning here except for private fundraisers. This is unacceptable.'

But Nelson also said he feels 'very, very optimistic' that the situation will be resolved - possibly by reaching a compromise with party officials, or possibly as a result of a lawsuit he and Rep. Alcee Hastings have filed against the Democratic National Committee.

'I think at the end of the day, we will be united. I think at the end of the day we will have the candidates coming to Florida, within a short period of time,' he said.

Not if he keeps alieniating the national party, they won't. Nelson is not known for taking tough stands in the Senate. He caved on the torture bill. Why is he going to suddenly buck the DNC?

Kenneth Quinnell suggested that Nelson wants to be the nominess VP. Nelson would be the worst VP candidate since Bob Dole. He has zero charisma, scant Senate accomplishments and no national name-recognition. If Nelson really is dissing the DNC just for VP then he is delussional.

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Meet Rudy's Unfriendly Friends

Meet Rudy Giuliani's foreign policy advisors.

Mr. Giuliani’s team includes Norman Podhoretz, a prominent neoconservative who advocates bombing Iran “as soon as it is logistically possible”; Daniel Pipes, the director of the Middle East Forum, who has called for profiling Muslims at airports and scrutinizing American Muslims in law enforcement, the military and the diplomatic corps; and Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who has written in favor of revoking the United States’ ban on assassination.

These guys are like Dick Cheney with a shotgun. Someone is eventually bound to get shot with these warmongers around.

Podhoretz is a longtime member of the neoconservative movement. This is is full statement on why he wants to bomb Iraq.

“Well, if we were to bomb the Iranians as I hope and pray we will. We’ll unleash a wave of anti-Americanism all over the world that will make the anti-Americanism we’ve experienced so far look like a lovefest.”

Podhoretz prays that America will bomb Iraq. Think about the madness of that statement.

Michael Rubin was adviser on Iran and Iraq for Donald Rumsfeld. That alone should disqualify him from future public service. He will most likely serve in a Giuliani administration.

Daniel Pipes is against the Khalil Gibran International Academy being allowed to teach the Ababic language in Brooklyn. His reasoning is that the school will become a breeding ground for terrorism. His blog post is filled with faux-intellectual xenophobia. Which is what drives the neocon movement. It certainly isn't logic or reason.

Also, learning Arabic in and of itself promotes an Islamic outlook, as James Coffman showed in 1995, looking at evidence from Algeria. Comparing students taught in French and in Arabic, he found that "Arabized students show decidedly greater support for the Islamist movement and greater mistrust of the West." Those Arabized students, he notes, more readily believed in "the infiltration into Algeria of Israeli women spies infected with AIDS … the mass conversion to Islam by millions of Americans," and other Islamist nonsense.

Pipes can not put his head around that America isn't Algeria. The United States is a democracy that does not have the social and economical problems of a third world nation. If this school really is a hotbed for terrorism the FBI would shut it down in a minute. It most likely already is being monitored by the feds.

No one should be surprised by Rudy's choice of advisors. He believe torture depends on which country performs the heinous acts.

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:: Collective Soul @ Stubbs in Austin ::

I traveled to Austin Friday afternoon to visit my most treasured friend (ever). We went to see Collective Soul and it was quite good, even if we had to stand the whole time (me in heels). I must say, there isn’t one band member that I don’t salivate over. Dean Roland was looking particularly hot Friday night. Yum! I’m still trying to decide if I like the bleached locks of Ed Roland. I highly recommend their new CD, "Afterwords," available at iTunes. ALL of the songs are damned good. The videos below are ones I took at the concert, until I was asked not to do it anymore. So, I missed reording some of my favorites. However, I did enjoy the concert without that kind of distraction.


What Kinda Liberal Are You?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a New Left Hipster, also known as a liberal, a Netroots activist, or a Daily Show fanatic. You believe that if we really want to defend American values, conservatives must be exposed, mocked, and assailed for every fanatical, puritanical, warmongering, Constitution-shredding ideal for which they stand.

I never go to the site and have dissed them before. Although, if the trolls wish to think I'm a Moveon lover then that's cool. I know the thought of me aligned with Moveon would drive the trolls batshit. Sine.Qua.Non scored as a peace patroller on the quix.

Seriously, there should be some form of troll repellant for bloggers. I should be able to send Celine Dion's rendition of You Shook Me All Night Long into their computer speakers everytime I get some insanely hostile comment. I dare you to listen to a full minute of Celine rocking out.

Football Madness

This is a wild ending to a football game. It was a Division 3 game. I doubt many people watched it. It is a textbook study of great lateral passing and atrocious tackling.

Hat tip to Jeff Fecke.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Leaving My Corner Without Losing My Religion

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind,
of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

- Albert Einstein

I took this photo today, shortly after dawn, because I wanted to immortalize my little corner of this very little house before packing it all up for the Big Move tomorrow. We're going back to the house in the country, you see, though Ruskin is not so terribly "country" any more, since almost all of the orange groves and most of the strawberry fields have been bulldozed flat in recent years, making way for the rows of nearly-identical houses to which buyers continue to flock.

Never mind the hurricanes, damn the tornadoes: Florida continues to be a destination, not just for retirees longing for warm breezes and college students seeking warm beer and beaches, but families, too.

There is little agriculture and no industry in our town, not any more. Not really. It's mainly a suburban residential area these days, though Robert's property remains lushly beautiful with giant pines and oaks that were there in the early part of the previous century, when Ruskin was established as a hopeful experiment in socialist utopianism. The farming-friendly climate and isolation of the Gulf coast led Dr. George McAnelly Miller, a former Chicago lawyer and college professor, to purchase this patch of Florida, which in 1906 was densely wooded and virtually inaccessible to the city folk of Tampa and St. Petersburg (except by boat), and establish the Ruskin Commongood Society.

The town was a commune of sorts, and its principles were based on the writings and teachings of John Ruskin, an English socialist who maintained that higher education should be made readily available to the working class--a fairly revolutionary concept then (and, increasingly and sadly, now)--and that the social ills wrought by the industrial revolution could most effectively be eradicated through education. Education for everyone.

So it came to pass that Dr. Miller, along with the Ruskin Commongood Society, provided for and promoted this notion of liberal arts education for all, along with the teaching of farming techniques, the creation of art itself, and the sharing of blessings and burdens alike. This was the early-1900's South, mind you, and non-white people could not yet own land, even in Ruskin. Bearing in mind that women could not vote until 1920, though, Ruskin was--in the feminist and nonsectarian/inclusive religious senses, at least--a town that was rather far ahead of other Floridian settlements. To wit, an early Ruskin Commongood motto, followed by a bit of history:

Right Relationship
United Effort
Social Purity
Knowledge Unfettered
Industrial Education
New Thought

Dignity of Labor
Ennobling of Character
A Home for Everyone
Link Head, Heart and Hand
Sex Equality

Throughout Ruskin’s early years, life was generally peaceful. People were notified of important events, such as a fire or a meeting, by a bell rung in the community center. There was no fire department, only a bucket brigade. The town church was nonsectarian. Services were held in the college’s assembly hall, and Dr. Miller usually read from his translations of original Hebrew and Greek Bible verses. A. P. Dickman ran the daily newspaper, and his daughter Pauline delivered milk to the local farms. Boys earned extra money by shooting alligators and selling their hides. The colonists built their own cannery, operating the whole process, including soldering the cans by hand, without outside assistance. By 1913, Ruskin had a local and long distance telephone system and electric light plant, and its cooperative store was doing a $25,000 a year business. The colony itself was expanded. Land was bought northward to extend the artesian belt and included more timber acreage, and purchases were made southward to add more truck farming and citrus land.

Cooperation was continually stressed. The colonists labored on public works projects to pay for their land, and college students worked in the fields and cooperative industries to pay for their education. The concept of the “common good” was the motivation for the colony. To this end, it tried to promote “social purity.” To keep the community pure, no liquor or cigarettes were allowed into the colony. Only whites could lease colony land. However, women had the same privileges as men.

And then there was World War I--an event that drained the town of its young people--and the closing of the Ruskin College, a terrible fire, the Great Depression, and the death of Dr. Miller. The Ruskin Commongood Society remained intact until 1967, long after the evaporation, from Ruskin's collective consciousness, of most of the original socialist utopian ideas on which the town was built.

As a result of George Miller's dream of a college within a supportive, socialistic community, the town of Ruskin was founded. Miller's cooperative community surrounding and supporting a socialist workers’ college lasted barely a decade. Nevertheless, the Commongood Society,though generally inactive, existed until October 1967, when it quietly dissolved. [...]

George Miller had depended on his wife’s brothers, three Missouri farmers, to help him finance and organize the colony, and because the community itself was colonized by farmers, Ruskin survived and flourished in an agricultural setting. In the process, the triumph of capitalism nearly erased memories of the town’s radical roots.

I moved to this town in 1987, when my future-husband Robert was starting his nurseries here, assembling the wooded land one parcel at a time, and growing thereupon different varieties of a certain ancient, exotic, and eminently sustainable plant that was, at the time, very new to many Americans: bamboo. Back then, Ruskin's population largely consisted of a handful of farmers--most of whom grew oranges, tomatoes, and strawberries; a few of whom, like Robert, grew ornamental plants--and those who worked for them.

Twenty years later, Ruskin is a place in transition, to put it gently; in fact, it's a patch of Florida that is irrevocably changed. Most of the town's fruit and vegetable farmers--those backbone-of-the-community types who had for years been suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous hurricanes and even more outrageous Free Trade-generated price undercutting by third world growers--succumbed to temptation, one after another, and cashed in on the real estate boom. This in turn led to the replacement of rows of fragrant orange trees with rows of quasi-Mediterranean-Revival-cum-Florida-Cracker boxes, one after another.

And tomorrow I shall return, to live there full-time, at least until the St. Petersburg house is finished.

As I sort through the clutter I've accumulated, not just on my hapless desk but all over the little rental house where the lease is now up, I admit to having mixed emotions about the place, as you'd imagine. Appreciating as I do the rich history of Ruskin and its liberal, socially conscious founders, I experienced some pretty sharp cognitive dissonance at seeing so many Bush/Cheney bumperstickers plastered everywhere in 2000, not to mention having my President Gore signs repeatedly yanked out of the ground or flattened by speeding, swerving pickup trucks.

Ruskin is no different from other growing areas, its residents having enjoyed high-speed Internet connection for years now. So I'll be no less able to read and write, though I'll be more grateful than ever that Robert preserved the massive trees and thick Palmetto that have grown on his land for a century--writers love privacy and quiet, and when home, at least, I won't have to look at all that rampant overdevelopment and destruction of nature. Who knows, I might even fight to save a tree or two and speak out on behalf of those who enjoy a little locally-generated oxygen with their imported orange juice.

Like the natural artesian wells that continue to flow, despite everything, irrigating the bamboo and sending it skyward, hope springs eternal.

Also at litbrit.

Conservative Hunk Saturday: Alan Greenspan

The mature facial lines and smart glasses make women fantasize about Alan Greenspan walking up to them on the beach. Women can imagine soaking up some rays and a speedo-clad Greenspan rubbing suntan lotion on them. Alan will cue up some Barry White and drive the ladies crazy with his smooth talk about credit lending.

Ladies, listen to Barry White sing and imagine Greenspan's hot breath on your neck.

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Remember when The Iraq War Cost ONLY $300 Billion?

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Drawing the Grill Rats ComixTrip takes a lot of time, especially with the multi panel strips, so as a filler on those days when I haven't finished a strip yet, I thought I'd repost some of my favorites from the Zencomix archives.Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Grandpa is tangled up in the pumpkin vines, and the coyotes have Lassie cornered in the barn!

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Write A Caption: Diamonds Are For Girls

guard your diamond

Amanda Marcotte explains why young girls are being told to guard their diamond.

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Bob Allen Watch

Bob Allen's trial is set for November 5th. I see no way he is going to beat the rap. Has he been watching Larrry Craig and thinking that is the proper way to do damage control?

Even if Allen wins the Christian Right will still be suspicious of him. They would still back him over a Democrat, but Allen's political career is over. He needs to deal with the reality of his sexuality and his career.


Chris Dodd Speech

Christopher Dodd spoke on the Senate floor on the FISA bill.

The President’s wholesale disregard of the rule of law has compounded the damage done in Iraq and has made our nation less secure and as a direct consequence of these acts, we are less secure, more vulnerable and more isolated in the world.

Consider the scandal at Abu Ghraib – where Iraqi prisoners were subjected to inhumane and humiliating acts by U.S. personnel charged with guarding them.

Consider Guantanamo Bay. Rather than helping to protect the nation, the prisons at Guantanamo Bay have instead become the very symbol for our weakened moral standing in the world.

Consider the secret prisons run by the CIA and the practice of extraordinary rendition that allows them to evade U.S. law regarding torture.

Consider the shameful actions of our outgoing Attorney General who politicized prosecutions – who was more committed to serving the President who appointed him than the laws he had sworn to uphold.

Sign the petition.

Update: Dodd will appear on Meet the Press this Sunday. It's a good platform for him to raise awareness about the questionable language in the FISA bill.

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Marco Rubio has nightmares.

Rubio, the Florida Speaker of the House, says in the dream, he’s in Colorado or a similar type place. He bumps into a person who used to live in Florida and they get to talking.

“Why’d you leave,” Rubio said recounting the dream to about 300 people at Sarasota’s Tiger Bay meeting.

Rubio said the guy tells him things just got too expensive. Couldn’t afford it anymore.

Then Rubio said he asks that guy when he left.

“Right around the same time you were speaker,” Rubio said.


I have a scarier nightmare that Rubio will one day run for Governor or the United States Senate.


Anti-Hillary Clinton Ad From McCain Campaign

John McCain’s strategy is attacking Hillary Clinton. He needs to get the GOP nomination. He should be more concerned about Giuliani, Romney and Thompson. Wingnuts will see the ad, laugh and then vote for someone else. He needs to go negative against his GOP opponents. Actually, he needs a miracle, but that’s another story.

Hat tip to Zuzu. Wish her luck finding a new job.

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Fred Thompson on the Power of the Presidency

Fred Thompson surprised me with his stance on end of life issues. Now he says he disagrees with Dick Cheney about the power of the presidency.

"No, I think the constitution in times of war, especially, is very definitive about that," he said. "The president is the commander in chief, but the Congress has the power of the budget. The power of the purse. So everything has to go through that prism. So it’s divided power in the constitution. Our founding fathers divided that up. Divided it up at the federal level, the idea being that things like Watergate should be made very difficult to happen. So no one branch of the government can misuse power."

Thompson described checks and balances as "a constant tug and pull. Controversy and differences of opinion over legitimate national security concerns is not a bad thing. Every branch needs to stand up for itself. And I saw that as, in effect, an attorney for the executive branch, and then as a legislator."

Thompson said he sides with the Bush administration in its struggle with Congress over "issues of surveillance," but he suggested in some of the cases on detainees that have been ruled upon by the Supreme Court he sides with the Congress.

I don't think Thompson would make a good President. I am happy to see a conservative have respect for the checks and balances in the Constitution.

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Last Chance to Vote

Kenneth Quinnell is urging people to vote for the Florida Netroots awards. Today is the last day to vote. Votes must be emailed to Kenneth at The winners will be announced tomorrow at the Florida Democratic Party convention.

Disclosure: Pushing Rope and Litbrit are nominess.

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The Blue Room

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The Candidates in a Nutshell

Rudy Giuliani, Cross Dresser

What's your favorite comic strip?

Is this on your Christmas List?

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Sex Pistols Sell Out (and Sell Out)

When I was a punky young thing trapped in the body of blowdried blonde advertising chick, I used to drive to work listening to Holidays in the Sun on my car tape deck and sing (okay, shout) along. The Sex Pistols were agreeably disagreeable, and they dared to flout authority with spectacular rudeness and bluster, something this well-brought-up girl could only dream about in Walter Mitty moments as she sat at her IBM Selectric, trying to think up clever ways to sell things--banking, for example, and ice-cream bars--that people needed and wanted anyway.

So I really have no moral leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing the Sex Pistols for selling out.

Not that I'm going to let that stop me, though. Oh, no. Because I'm more than a little irritated to learn that the band famous for flipping off what we post-Free Love youngsters continued to refer to as The Establishment have, in their middle years, been happily selling their souls to that very Establishment while signing over the rights to their back catalog to Universal Publishing Group. Which in turn has targeted Range Rover and British Airways, among others, to use Sex Pistols songs in their advertising.

Sex Pistols songs in their advertising.

For crying out loud. (As opposed to singing and shouting out loud.)

The band still plays the occasional club show, though, as they did at a sold-out private concert last night, at the Roxy in L.A., part of a warmup for the inevitable Sex Pistols Reunion Tour.

About 500 sweaty fans packed the Roxy Theatre for the private show, the group's first public performance in four years. The English foursome played almost all of their songs during the hour-long set, including their best-known tunes "Anarchy in the U.K." and "God Save the Queen."

The show was predictably a little rusty, with singer John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) forgetting the words to the first song of the night, "Holidays in the Sun." But he added some bonus lyrics along the way, notably "Paris Hilton, kiss my arse" in "Stepping Stone."

He also struggled with sound problems and the heat.

"It's hotter than (expletive) hell up here," said Lydon, 51, clad in a traditional Indian kurta, tartan pants and blue vest and guzzling red wine from the bottle.

I suppose it could've been worse--I'm picturing Johnny Rotten sporting a Just Say No t-shirt autographed by Nancy Reagan, drinking glucosamine smoothies between sets and appearing in Viagra commercials on MSNBC the following week.

Someone tell me I'm not getting old. Please.

I didn't ask for sunshine and I got World War Three
I'm looking over the wall and they're looking at me
Now I got a reason
Now I got a reason

Now I got a reason and I'm still waiting...

Also at litbrit.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Barack Obama the Not Ready For Prime Time Player

Barack Obama wishing not to offend homophobic Christian blacks refuses to denounce Pastor Donnie McClurkin. The gospel singer was chosen to perform at a fundraiser for Obama. The Pastor has a history of homophobic remarks. Obama angered gay activists with his response to the controversy.

About 6:40 pm today, the Obama campaign issued a written statement from the candidate saying that he "strongly disagree(s)" with McClurkin's views. Still, a spokesman said McClurkin would remain part of the concert line-up.

"I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country," Obama said in the written statement.

"I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division," the statement added.

My first thought is that the people running Obama's campaign are amazing incompetent. Obama should have never gotten into this decision to begin with. Now that he is he can't split the difference between the gay rights movement and black Christians. The letter Obama had gay activists sign is horrible PR, politics and shows he has no interest in gay rights. (Which doesn't surprise me.)

Pastor McClurkin believes and has stated things about sexual orientation that are deeply hurtful and offensive to many Americans, most especially to gay Americans. This cannot and should not be denied.

At the same time, a great many African Americans share Pastor McClurkin's beliefs. This also cannot be ignored.

So, he has to court the homophobic base because this "cannot be ignored." Obama is not ready for prime time. He kept saying that experience isn't a big deal. We don't see Hillary Clinton or John Edwards pitting two Democratic bases against each other.

Obama is not ready. His campaign has already been a joke. Now this.

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Quote of the Day

"Well, I’m not sure it is either. I’m not sure it is either. It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it."

Rudy Giuliani, on whether waterboarding is torture.

The video at The Caucas is sickening. Giuliani fudges the issue by comparing law enforcement officials to torturers. Giuliani said he is against torture and for agrressive questioning. It is his weasally way of saying he is for tortore.

If Giuliani doesn't understand that tying someone to a board and drowning him isn't torture then he shouldn't be running for President.

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Write A Caption: Charlie Crist

Someone needs needs a dose of REM's Shiny Happy People. The most sickenly optimistic song of all time.

Everyone sing along.

Property taxes up
We need to give a break
To the people, people
Charlie want people
To love him, love him
But can't turn that fowrn around
When his mandate is down

Shiny happy property taxcuts
Shiny happy property taxcuts
Shiny happy property taxcuts

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Petition to Harry Reid

Sign this petition telling Harry Reid that lawbreaking telecommunications companies should not be given retroactive immunity. Check out the lefty bloggers behind the petition.

Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake
Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, Dailykos
Christy Hardin Smith, Firedoglake
Matt Stoller, OpenLeft
Digby, Hullabaloo
Taylor Marsh,
Duncan Black, Atrios
John Aravosis, Americablog
Chris Bowers, OpenLeft
John Amato, Crooks and Liars
Howie Klein, DownWithTyranny
Jonathan Singer, MyDD
Joan McCarter, Dailykos

Sign the petition.

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Follow the Money: Brian Blair Edition

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WellCare really loves members of the Hillsborough County Commission. Brian Blair is a member they are quite fond of.

Two years earlier, it bundled up $10,000 for Commissioner Brian Blair, who is running again in 2008 and has received $2,000 so far in this campaign from four different WellCare corporations. In 2005, Blair raised the issue of opening up bidding for the indigent health care bucks but denied that it had anything to do with all the greasing he’s had from WellCare.

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FUBAR Over Property Tax Amendment

The Florida Supreme Court will decide if the original property tax amendment is constitutional. Judge Charles Francis ruled that the ballot language was too misleading. The first hearing on the matter will be December 3.

It would be better for the Florida Legislature to scrap the original amendment and complete the new one. Mrco Rubio screwed that up with a property tax cut that would have a difficult time passing the Senate. He knew this, but went ahead with doing little study about the economic impact of the new House-passed amendment. The House and the Senate has until next Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Otherwise, the new amendment won't go on the ballot.

There is the question of what happens the the original amendment if the Florida Supreme Court finds it constitutional.

If the court were to reinstate the amendment to the ballot _ yet do it after the state deadline _ what will the Secretary of State's office do?

"That's not a question we have contemplated,'' said Department of State spokesman Sterling Ivey.

The ball is with the Florida Supreme Court. They can say the original amendment is the one that goes on the ballot. It then becomes a question of what what happens to the new-and-improved amendment. At the pace the legislature and court is going neither may make the ballot.

This is a reflection of Marco Rubio's leadership. He rushed a first amendment through the House. He proceeded to repeat the same mistakes with the second amendment with new qustions about whether it will pass constitutional muster. He screwed Charlie Crist and Ken Pruitt with their deal.

The House plan gives businesses, second-home owners and landlords a 5 percent yearly assessment cap similar to the one that owners of primary homes get with the Save Our Homes Amendment. That goes beyond an agreement Rubio had with Pruitt and Gov. Charlie Crist to limit the plan to increasing homestead exemptions, providing portability and giving a small tax break to businesses.

Pruitt will mostly likely take the 5 percent cap. Rubio created this delay strickly for his own political career. He can tell people he shashed taxes. He won't mention that he kept the legislature in gridlock.

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Fred Thompson News

Another supporter has jumped Admiral Fred Thompson's ship. This time it's Dan Hughes. He saw the the sinking USS John McCain as more promising. Hughes was the chirman of Thompson's New Hampshire's campaign. Hughes told The Hill that Thompson is writing off New Hampshire.

“It looks like their campaign was probably going to be a page out of the George Bush campaign, where you lose New Hampshire and concentrate on South Carolina,” Hughes told The Hill. “I don’t want to be a token chairman for a token campaign.”

Thompson has not even filed to run in the state. He also seems to be bothered by the state's tradition of voters asking candidates pesky policy questions.

Dean Spiliotes of said Thompson's strategy is to focus on winning South Carolina and Florida. The Admiral is sucking big time ass in the latter. Bush fundraisers already picked a candidate by the time Thompson announced his candidacy. Only Zachariah Zachariah has hosted a Thompson fundraiser. Thompson's horrible performance at the Florida Republican Party convention has scared potential supporters away.

Thompson explains his Orlando performance.

''The proof's in the pudding,'' said the only presidential contender to make two extended campaign swings through Florida.

''I do what I feel like I'm comfortable with and what the occasion calls for,'' Thompson added. ``I'm doing it in the way I feel like I ought to do it, and people are just going to have to get used to it.''

Thompson is innovating modern campaigning with a strategy of writing off key states, horrible fundraising, terrible speaking skills and constantly firing staffers. I can't fault him on his originality.

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No Dennis Kucinich at FDP Convention

Proof that it is darkest before dawn and after that it's pitch black. Dennis Kucinich will not be attending the Florida Democratic Party convention. Attendees can be wooed by Orleans and Mike Gravel. The former Senator had a hard time getting living souls to listen to him speak in Clearwater.

Update: Sherri at Talk 2 Me is pissed about Kucinich bailing.

I have to admit. I was surprised. I thought Kucinich was different.

He's not.

I understand why Clinton, Obama, and Edwards aren't attending. They still have a chance to win and don't want the DNC to penalize them by taking away delegates. The only reason I can think of Kucinich not attending is Howard Dean dropped the hammer on him or he is actually delussional enough to think he can still win the nomination. I say it's the latter.

Kos an an excellent post on how flaky Kucinich is. Kucinich's keynote address at the Dubrovnik Conference on the Alchemy of Peacebuilding reads like bad science fiction.

As one studies the images of the Eagle Nebula, brought back by the Hubble Telescope from that place in deep space where stars are born, one can imagine the interplay of cosmic forces across space and time, of matter and spirit dancing to the music of the spheres, atop an infinite sea of numbers.

Spirit merges with matter to sanctify the universe. Matter transcends to return to spirit. The interchangeability of matter and spirit means the starlit magic of the outermost life of our universe becomes the soul-light magic of the innermost life of our self. The energy of the stars becomes us. We become the energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite and we begin: One with the universe. Whole and holy. From one source, endless creative energy, bursting forth, kinetic, elemental. We, the earth, air, water and fire-source of nearly fifteen billion years of cosmic

We begin as a perfect union of matter and spirit. We receive the blessings of the Eternal from sky and earth. In our outstretched hands we can feel the energy of the universe. We receive the blessings of the Eternal from water, which nourishes and sanctifies life. We receive the blessings of the Eternal from the primal fire, the pulsating heart of creation. We experience the wonder of life multidimensional and transcendent. We extend our hands upwards and we are showered with abundance. We ask and we receive. A universe of plenty flows to us, through us. It is in us. We become filled with endless possibilities.

We need to remember where we came from; to know that we are one. To understand that we are of an undivided whole: race, color, nationality, creed, gender are beams of light, refracted through one great prism. We begin as perfect and journey through life to become more perfect in the singularity of "I" and in the multiplicity of "we"; a more perfect union of matter and spirit. - - This is human striving. This is where, in Shelley's words, " . . . hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates." This is what Browning spoke of: Our 'reach exceeding [our] grasp'. This is a search for heaven within, a quest for our eternal home.

This video of clips from the movie Airplane! sum up my reaction to Kucinich's keynote address.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Springsteen Stuff

Ickmusic has three songs from the October 22th concert in Chicago. The tracks are Tunnel of Love, Spirit in the Night and Thunder Road.

Springsteen is on the cover of Rolling Stone. Check out the interview.

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Evolution Blues

In 2005, Jeb Bush fed his base by making a stand against the teaching of evolution in Florida public schools.

"I think people have different points of view and they can be discussed in school," Bush said. "They don't need to be in the curriculum."

Around that time, Bush's handpicked State Board of Education moved the decision to review if evolution should be mentioned in the curriculum to 2007. Charlie Crist has an opportunity to correct Jeb's wrong. The SToE will review the decision in 2008. There is a new proposal being floated by educators.

The new standards, which members of the State Board of Education will consider for adoption early next year, are likely to rekindle the debate over science and religion, and what's appropriately taught in public schools.

Under the plan, evolution and biological diversity are together considered one of several "big ideas," firmly grounded by "multiple forms of scientific evidence."

The proposal not only deserves strong public support, but also raises the question: What took so long?

The answer is this is Florida. State officials are allergic to good ideas.

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The Iraq War, the Pentagon and Your Tax Dollars

The Congressional Budget Office did a study to figure out how much the Iraq war will cost if it continues until 2017. The answer is 2.4 trillion. Nicole Belle did the math. The cost would be $8,000 for every man, woman and child in the US. A possible way to fund a 2017 Iraq war is an increase in interest payments. The Federal Reserve would have to figure out many ways to squeeze banks and foreign lenders if the war is going to be paid for without tax increases.

The CBO was lowballing the costs because the Pentagon (surprise) does horrible bookkeeping. CBO is projecting that President Bush would make significant cuts in the amount of troops in Iraq. No one believes that.

On the basis of the two scenarios specified by Chairman Spratt, CBO projected the costs of activities associated with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terrorism through 2017. Because DoD does not report detailed operational statistics, those projections—which CBO derived by calculating the ratio between current force levels and funding requested by the Administration for 2008—are rough approximations.3

In the first scenario, the number of personnel deployed on the ground for the war on terrorism would be reduced from an average of about 200,000 in fiscal year 2008 to 30,000 by the beginning of fiscal year 2010 and then remain at that level through 2017. CBO estimates that costs to the U.S. government under this scenario would total $570 billion over the 2008–2017 period (see Table 1).

In the second scenario, the number of personnel deployed to Iraq and other locations associated with the war on terrorism would decline more gradually, from an average of about 200,000 in fiscal year 2008 to 75,000 by the start of fiscal year 2013 and then remain at that level through 2017. CBO estimates that costs to the government under this scenario would total $1,055 billion over the 2008–2017 period.

In addition to estimating the costs of the two scenarios over the next decade, CBO recently estimated the potential costs of maintaining a longer-term U.S. military presence in Iraq. The budgetary implications of maintaining such a presence are discussed in Box 1.

The answer is the Iraq war, to run to 2017, would cost much more than the CBO estimate. Republicans would just say it could be paid for with tax cuts.

The study shows that the Pentagon needs serious reform. The reports states "determining how much has actually been spent is difficult." The taypayers don't even know what the DoD is doing with their money. In 2002, the DoD didn't know where 25 percent of their funds went.

"According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions," said Former Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Nothing has changed since then.

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Blackwater On 60 Minutes

Superstar reporter Lara Logan interviews Blackwater founder Erik Prince about the State Department investigation into his company's activities. Blackwater was involved in a shooting that led to the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians.

P.S. Lara Logan is up there with Cat Power in the super-hot goddess department.

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Repeat the Same Mistake

Elections Systems & Software released a press statement stating they were not responsible for the Sarasota voting problems. They blamed it on the stupidity of the voters.

"ES&S was not present during the election, so it would be inappropriate to speculate on the situation," spokeswoman Jill Freidman-Wilson said. "However, we have been in contact with the Supervisor of Elections who has emphasized that the voting equipment functioned well.

"The touch screen system used in Sarasota County provides unlimited opportunity for a voter to make and change selections before a ballot is cast. Therefore, according to the Supervisor of Elections, undervotes were a result of an intentional choice not to make a selection in the congressional race or unintentional omission of a selection."

It turns out ES&S knew of problems with the machines before the general election. They sent this letter to Sarasota County election officials on August 15, 2006.

"It has come to our attention after a number of inquiries...that some of your screens are exhibiting slow response times...We have determined that the delayed response time is a result of a smoothing filter that was added...In some cases, the time lapse on these consistent reads is beyond the normal time a voter would expect."

We don't have to worry about that since Florida is switching to paper ballot machines. ES&S scored the contracts to make new machines for Florida. Election officials in Florida are the dumbest in America.

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Martin Anderson Protest

NAACP member and college students took to the streets of Tallahassee to protest the Martin Anderson verdict. Tallahassee Mayor John Marks showed grace that Floridans aren't used to seeing from their elected officials He thanked the students for their civic involvement.

"You have a right, an obligation, to let people know how you feel," Marks said. "An affront to justice anywhere is an affront to justice everywhere."

Amen to that!

Tallahassee attorney Ben Crump is representing Anderson's family. He stated all Anderson's parents want is justice.

"We are not asking for an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth; we're asking for equal justice," said Tallahassee attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Anderson family.

Under the circumstances, justice isn't too much to ask for.

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When Wingnuts Collide: vs Ron Paul Supporters

Via Pam Spaulding: How I love when wingnuts fight. has banned Ron Paul supporters.

Effective immediately, new users may *not* shill for Ron Paul in any way shape, form or fashion. Not in comments, not in diaries, nada. If your account is less than 6 months old, you can talk about something else, you can participate in the other threads and be your zany libertarian self all you want, but you cannot pimp Ron Paul. Those with accounts more than six months old may proceed as normal.

Now, I could offer a long-winded explanation for *why* this new policy is being instituted, but I'm guessing that most of you can probably guess. Unless you lack the self-awareness to understand just how annoying, time-consuming, and bandwidth-wasting responding to the same idiotic arguments from a bunch of liberals pretending to be Republicans can be. Which, judging by your comment history, you really don't understand, so allow me to offer an alternate explanation: we are a bunch of fascists and we're upset that you've discovered where we keep the black helicopters, so we're silencing you in an attempt to keep you from warning the rest of your brethren so we can round you all up and send you to re-education camps all at once.

This smacks of cencership and Republican bloggers attempting to keep themselves in the conservative bubble. This is why the major pro-Republican blogs (Instapundit, The Corner and Power Line) The major conservative blogs that do allow comments are either screened have the Little Green Footballs brigade that will attack any dissent. has the right to moderate their forum to their liking.

It is ultimately their call if they will allow Ron Paul supporters to comment or post. I find it hysterical they are so bothered by a candidate that has no chance of getting the GOP nomination. Perhaps the Red Staters don't want to be bothered the those pesky facts of what a cluster fuck the Iraq war has become.

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Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group Poll on Tom Feeney

The Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group released their finding of a poll on Tom Feeney's re-election prospects. The results are not good for the incumbant. Republican voters are highly dissatisfied with President Bush. Feeney has voted in lockstep with the President.

Florida 24th CD voters’ overall mood and attitudes toward President Bush and the Republican Party suggest a very difficult political environment for Congressman Feeney. Overall, just 24% of voters say that the country is headed in the right direction, while 67% believe that we are headed off on the wrong track.

While George W. Bush carried the district by 10 points in 2004 (55% to 45%), today, only 33% give him an excellent or good job rating and fully 44% say that he is doing a poor job. Of particular note is that only 66% of Republicans give Bush a positive job rating.

Moreover, a majority of voters in the district have a negative personal view of the President (52% versus 37% positive). In a generic 2008 presidential ballot, the Democratic and Republican candidates are in a statistical dead heat (42% vote for the Democrat, 41% vote for the Republican). In a district that has an eight-point Republican party registration advantage and that Bush carried by 10 points, this is a striking finding.

Only 23% of voters said Congressman Feeney deserves reelection, which is nearly equal to the proportion that say they will definitely vote to elect someone else (21%). Feeney’s re-elect is one of the lowest of any incumbent in the country.

In fairness, the poll was taken by a Democratic voting firm. That doesn't mean that Dems don't view Feeney as vulnerable. Democratics used to just write off District 24. Now they view it as a seat they can pick up. Feeney's ties to the Jack Abramoff and the FBI investigation places him in more trouble than just losing his seat. He has started a legal defense fund. Politicians don't do that unless they are worried about being indicted.

Feeney does have two advantages against Suzanne Kosmas. Incumbacy and a fundraising headstart. Actblue has a page for those interested in donating to the Kosmas campaign.

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The Blue Room

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Quote of the day! from Rudy Giuliani

Larry Craig Halloween Special

Vote for Litbrit and Pushing Rope in Florida

Why does NEWS disappear?

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