Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gettin' Crazy With The Cheez Whizbang

I'm not a fan of award shows on TV. I don't watch the Grammys, The Oscars, The Tonys, The People's Choice, or whatever else is out there. While I may make a note of the winners, as a pop culture item, I don't necessarily consider the awards as valid indicators of quality.

When it comes to internet awards, I'm just as apathetic. That said, it is an honor to be nominated forThe Best Comic Strip by the likes of Jon Swift, The Culture Ghost, and Tas.Thanks fellas!

I didn't make the cut as a finalist, but from what I gather at the site, the slate of finalists is selected by a mysterious "team of volunteers" that helps out the Wizbang guy that runs the awards. "Explaining why many nominated blogs are not finalists is always the trickiest part of The Weblog Awards."

I haven't been to visit Wizbang for maybe a couple of years. I don't know what goes on over there now, but back in the days when Tas ran Loaded Mouth, the Wizbang crew were bunch of Kool-Aid drinkers. So pardon me if I don't get all excited about an internet award run by Wizbang.

Now, BlueGal's "Don't Sugarcoat It Award"... there's an award worth winning! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Placing the latest Israel/Gaza violence into perspective...

Robert Fisk (h/t mattthebastard):
Ever since 1948, we've been hearing this balderdash from the Israelis -- just as Arab nationalists and then Arab Islamists have been peddling their own lies: that the Zionist "death wagon" will be overthrown, that all Jerusalem will be "liberated." And always Mr Bush Snr or Mr Clinton or Mr Bush Jnr or Mr Blair or Mr Brown have called upon both sides to exercise "restraint" -- as if the Palestinians and the Israelis both have F-18s and Merkava tanks and field artillery. Hamas's home-made rockets have killed just 20 Israelis in eight years, but a day-long blitz by Israeli aircraft that kills almost 300 Palestinians is just par for the course.

Amnesty International:
This is the highest level of Palestinian fatalities and casualties in four decades of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The escalation of violence comes at a time when the civilian population already faces a daily struggle for survival due to the Israeli blockade which has prevented even food and medicines from entering Gaza.

So this latest Israeli hissy fit bout of violence may be unprecedented (since 1948, at least). And speaking of the Israelis blockading aid, the Guardian reports...
Israel accused of ramming Gaza aid ship

The Free Gaza Movement said its vessel, the Dignity, was intercepted by several Israeli vessels as it was heading to the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli aerial bombardment since Saturday.

One gunboat rammed the Dignity on the port bow side, causing heavy damage, although no one was hurt, the group said.

"[The Dignity] is taking on water and appears to have engine problems," the movement said on its website. "When attacked, the Dignity was clearly in international waters, 90 miles off the coast of Gaza.

As for the origins of this current crisis, it's tough to know where to begin... But, as OpenLeft points out, some blame should be given to the Bush administration since it was them who helped bring Hamas into power (ironically enough):
Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America's behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)

But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.

But, as we all know, the real question is how many anti-Arab, pro-death trolls will this post rake in? Fuck talking about reality! Meanwhile, the bodycount mounts... And Arab leaders still don't know what the hell to do. (Well, except for the Egyptians, who seem content with shooting at Gazans at the border and not opening up their hospitals to them. Classy.) But to be fair, Bush doesn't know what to do either -- he won't even cut his vacation short because of the crisis. Which is also classy.

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Happy New Year

Like many other folks at this time of the year, I took off for a couple of weeks. During the Post Zappadan, End Of The Year, Dead Of Winter Doldrums, my blogging has been on vacation, and the readers of my blog have been on vacation, too. I still get a few stragglers though, the lonely Boob Googlers who click through looking for Paris Hilton's sex tape, Britney Spears Shaved Pussy, and Nude Sarah Palin Naked Topless.

The vacation was great, but the traveling was harsh. Flights were delayed and cancelled. To get home, we ended up taking a bus from Chicago to Cedar Rapids through dense fog at 4:00 a.m.

Nothing like sleeping in your own bed.

During my vacation,I detoxed from the daily grind of media consumption. So, what is going on, what did I miss?

Larry Craig's Restroom Stall is tanking as a tourist stop.One person had offered to buy the restroom stall for $5,000, Hogan said, but airport officials "don't sell fixtures for novelty purposes."

If only they'd added a gift shop when the gettin' was good.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin's daughter, the one named after paper favored by cartoonists, gave birth to a 7 lb. 4 oz. baby boy.

Apparently because "Dweezil", "Moon", and "Trig" were already taken, Bristol named her son "Tripp" after Levi's Mom's favorite hobby. Good luck, kid, you're going to need it.

In an effort to get back in the swing of things, I cleaned up my studio. Things have a way of piling up around here, so I've been sorting through the piles. I came across some old sketches, so I thought I'd do an end of the year "file dump" for fun.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Naked Brunch: 4th Annual Holiday Recipe Exchange

Well, the weather is frightful today again, but in the extreme opposite direction.  It's windy and 28 degrees...brrrrr.

You must read this, especially during this time of year when you are non-religious:  Agnostics Guide to Survival in the Bible Belt

I can't believe I missed this.  I was rolling down to sign in to post this morning on Being Qua (formerly Sinequanon's Journal) and noticed my hit counter.  Oh My Gosh!  I finally hit 1/2 million hits on this blog since May 2005.  I can hardly believe it.  Not that I have done anything this past year to keep my stats up much less readership.  I've misplaced a whole bunch of people that used to dwell in the mind of yours truly.  I'll have to do something about that.

In the ongoing tradition of this site, we are moved to continue our annual holiday recipe exchange.  So, here goes it:  The Fourth Annual Holiday Recipe Exchange (WooHaa)  

The 2005-2007 recipes are stored here:  Recipe Exchange

Pretzel Kiss (Guys...even you can do this one)

1 bag of Snyder's Pretzel Squares

1 lg bag of Milk Chocolate Hersheys Kisses (I use small bags of milk chocolate, cherry cordial, and white chocolate peppermint stick)

1 small bag M&Ms 

  1. Turn on oven to 350 degrees.  Using a small cookie pan or whatever you have, line up pretzels in the bottom of the pan, lining them up, touching each other.  Unwrap kisses and place one on top of the pretzel.

  2. Stick in heated oven for about 3-5 minutes tops.  Watch them closely after minute two.  Push down on a kiss tip to see if it is melting and collapsing inward.  When it does this, remove from oven.  Have the M&Ms ready and quickly place an M&M n top of each kiss, pushing in slightly.  You must do this fast of they will cool off.  It's good if you have someone who does one end of the pan wile you do the other.  After completion, stick the cooled pan in the freezer for 30 minutes so everything melds.

(My favorite is the peppermint white chocolate!)

Cracker Candy

Saltine crackers

Med pkg milk chocolate chips

Med pkg peanut butter chips

2 sticks butter

1 cup sugar

  1. Turn oven on to 400 degrees.

  2. Spread saltine crackers side to side covering the bottom of a large cookie tray.  Melt butter, add sugar.  Bring to a boil and then cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Pout mixture over crackers.  Bake for 5 minutes.

  3. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate and peanut butter chips evenly over surface of cracker layer.  Allow to melt and then swirl and spread throughout this layer.  When cool, place in freezer until it will pop out of the cookie sheet in one piece.  Break or cut.  Save the crumbs, they are great.

Orgasmic Fromage Cassoulet

3 quart casserole

Spray oil

8 tbsp butter +

6-10 slices french or sourdough bread, crumbled and torn/cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces 

5-1/2 cups of whole milk

1/2 cup flour

2 tsp salt, plus more for water

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp ceyenne pepper

4-1/2 cups grated sharp white Cheddar cheese

2 cups grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese

2 cups grated Pecorino Romano or Asiago cheese

1 lb shell macaroni

  1. Use spray oil on all interior surfaces of the casserole pan; set aside.  

  2. Place bread in a small bowl, Pour 2 tbsp melted butter over crumbs and toss; set aside. 

  3. Warm milk in a saucepan over medium heat.  Melt remaining butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat.  When butter bubbles, add flour.  Cook, whisking for 1 minute.  While continuing to whisk, add milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth.  Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens, 8 to 12 minutes. 

  4. Remove pan from heat.  Stir in salt, nutmeg and peppers.  Add, 3 cups or cheddar and all other cheeses.  Stir to melt and set aside.

  5. In a large pot, boil water with salt.  Add shell macaroni.  When water begins to boil again, reduce heat to medium.  Cook until slightly underdone.  Transfer to a colander, rinse with water and drain well.  

  6. Stir shells into the fromage (cheese) sauce.

  7. Pour mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

  8. Sprinkle remaining Cheddar and bread crumbs over top.

  9. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Serves 12.

In yet another holiday tradition related to our Annual Holiday Recipe "EXCHANGE" - I name the following people to come up with a holiday type recipe - even if it's a beverage, alcohol preferably recipe:



Post one recipe at your site, link to this original post at Being Qua as a linkback (, then pick six people to do the same. Copy and paste these instructions into your post.

I hope you participate.  I will continue adding recipes of my own to this post as updates.

This concludes todays Naked Brunch.  Ya'll be careful out there.

PS:  Michael, I just got the Eddie Vedder "Into the Wild" tunes.  It is damned fine.  Wow!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Keep It Cool

Saturday Night Live did a skit on how Barack Obama does let his political enemies get under his skin. The skit isn't far off from the truth. Obama and Hillary Clinton had a heated debate in Pennsylvania. At a campaign rally, Obama made his now famous Jay Z reference.

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FDP News

The Florida Democratic Party has selected its leadership.

Karen Thurman, Marion County, re-elected state party chair
Rhett Bullard, Hamilton County, Vice chair
Rick Boylan, Pinellas County, Secretary
Alma Gonzalez, Leon County, Treasurer

DNC Members:

Diane Glasser, Terry Brady, Joyce Cusack, Evelyn Garcia, Nancy Jacobson, Chuck Mohlke, Jon Ausman, Mitch Ceasar, Alan Clendenon, Tony Hill

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Heat On Ray Sansom

Florida Democratic Party Chairperson Karen Thurman asked U.S. Attorney Thomas F. Kirwin to investigate House Speaker Ray Sansom.

December 18, 2008
Thomas F. Kirwin
Acting United States Attorney
Northern District of Florida
111 N. Adams Street, 4th Floor Tallahassee, FL 32301

Dear Mr. Kirwin,

I write today to respectfully request a full investigation into a case of alleged public corruption involving Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom.

On the same day that Ray Sansom was sworn in as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Northwest Florida State College announced that Sansom was hired for a part-time, $110,000 per year job. As the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau and other media outlets throughout Florida began investigating, we learned that before taking this job, Sansom delivered more than $25 million to the college and pushed legislation to allow the school to offer 4 year degrees.

The Times/Herald reported that more than $6 million of the money he delivered to the college was to build a hanger at the Destin Airport, on land controlled by Sansom's friend and major donor Jay Odom. Despite being funded by taxpayer dollars, this hanger would be used by Odom most of the time to store his jets according to the Times/Herald, citing documents and Odom's airport operations manager. On December 14, 2008 the Times/Herald reported that they obtained emails between NFSC President Bob Richburg and Sansom, where “Richburg suggested that when they all were together, Sansom should thank the board for "accepting responsibility" for an emergency training center at Destin Airport,” further suggesting that the airport building was to be used by Odom.

Additionally, the Palm Beach Post uncovered the fact that Sansom used his government office to fax in his job application to the college as well.

On December 9th, I called on Governor Charlie Crist to "immediately order the appropriate law enforcement agencies to investigate this matter to clear the ethics cloud around Sansom caused by the appearance of quid-pro-quo corruption." Rather than ordering an investigation, Crist simply said, "Next question," while continuing to defend Ray Sansom. Therefore, I take the extraordinary step today of requesting an investigation of this matter by federal law enforcement authorities.


Karen L. Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party

Television pundit and fellow Republican Joe Scarborough compared Sansom to indicted Gov. Rod Bladojevich. Scarborough does not believe Sansom got the $110,000-a-year Northwest State College job on merit.

Northwest Florida State College asked for $1 million in appropriations last year. Sansom decided that wasn't enough.

He tacked on an additional $25 million for his future employer and funded a program that would pay his salary.

President Bob Richburg was so impressed by the chairman's work ethic that he gave his college's political ally a $110,000-a-year job without telling a soul.

Can you believe that the same college who benefited so handsomely from Sansom's chairmanship would award him the six-figure job without advertising the position?

What a coincidence!

Sanson cancelled a meeting with Lawton "Bud" Chiles III, in order to avoid media questions.

"The Speaker’s Office has advised me that you requested the opportunity to attend a meeting we had scheduled today with members of the Lawton Chiles family," an aide to Galvano just e-mailed the Sentinel.

"At my recommendation, we are rescheduling the meeting for a future date. Once we are closer to making final budget decisions on the 2008-09 fiscal year spending reductions, the meeting will be more productive. I’ve contacted Ed Chiles, who is a constituent of mine, and made him aware of the need to reschedule. This email is For Your Information. Thank you."

Fortunately for Sansom, Charlie Crist still supports the Speaker.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Last Throes of The Insurgency

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crist Defends Sanson

Charlie Crist has repeatedly dismissed calls to investigate House Speaker Ray Sanson. This is the most blatant example.

After this morning's Cabinet meeting: Attorney General Bill McCollum said he has "no jurisdiction" to investigate ties between House Speaker Ray Sansom and developer Jay Odom. (McCollum's spokeswoman Sandi Copes later said he has limited scope to look into the issue if something like bribery was involved, but some other agency began the investigation.)

When asked whether he'd be willing to investigate, Gov. Charlie Crist said, "Who asked me to do that?"

"Karen Thurman," replied Tampa Tribune reporter Catherine Dolinski.

"Yeah, next question," Crist said.

Sanson could sink the entire Republican Party of Florida. Florida Republicans haven't learned the lessons of the Jack Abramoff conviction. The cover up is what destroys political parties.

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Kathy Castor on Cuba Policy

Congresswoman Kathy Castor asked President-elect Barack Obama to lift the travel restrictions on Cuba.

As Americans, we can not allow our policies to bring more hardship to those we intend to help. As Floridians, we can not expect the Cuban people, many of whom are family to us, to endure more pain. Therefore, I urge you to lift current restrictions on family travel to Cuban and remittances. Doing so will not only provide relife to thousands of people, but will show our commitment to the Cuban people and their families here in America. Then, I encourage you to review and develop a renewed modern plan for Latin America and Caribbean basin.

The current Bush policy is not getting Cuba closer to a democratic society. The best PR campaign is American Cuban coming home and telling their relative how great their lives our in the states. It is hard for the Castro regine to say communism is better when American-Cubans are coming to Cuba with new clothes and iPods.

Castor hasn't turned a blind eye to the human rights abuses happening in Cuba.

Clearly, the Castro regime and its half-century of oppression demand circumspection. The regime has viusited torture, human rights abuses, and terrorism on its own citizens.

The big stick policy of Eisenhower, Kennedy and Bush have done nothing to charge this.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bush Shoe Diaries

President Bush staged an unannounced farwewll visit to Iraq. The President was holding press conference with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Muthathar al Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist threw two shoes at President Bush. In Ababic culture, the bottom of the shoe is considered an insult. Both shoes missed Bush. "This is a farewell kiss, dog," al Zaidi told Bush.

The Secret Service subdued al Zaidi. White House Press Sec. Dana Perino
was hit with a microphone during the melee. Perino has a minor black eye.

Bush told Helen Thomas, "I didn't feel the least threatened by it." The incident does make me wonder about the Secret Service's response. al Zaidi was 12 feet away and had time to throw both shoes. He could have fired several rounds at Bush. The Secret Service have an extremely difficult job. However, the response time (in a war-torn country) demands a reassessment of security.

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Obama Weekly Youtube Address

President-elect Barack Obama discusses growing unemployment and the housing crisis.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Love Hurts - Kim Deal and Robert Pollard

Love Hurts - Kim Deal and Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices

I found this version of Love Hurts by accident. Does anyone know when and where this was recorded?

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Putnam Not Seeking Senate

Congressman Adam Putnam told The Buzz he has no interest in running for Mel Martinez's seat.

"I am not giving serious consideration to the Senate seat," he tells Buzz. "You could say my interests lie elsewhere."

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio generate more buzz with Florida conservatives. That could change if Bush and Rubio don't run. Putnam would deal with a crowded GOP field if Bush and Rubio didn't run. If Punam won he would likely face Alex Sink or Steve Gelber. Putnam is not going to give up a safe House seat for a long shot.

Putnam is 34 years-old. There is still time to seek higher office.


Guess Which State Leads In Food Stamps

If you guessed Florida then you are correct.

TAMPA - The recession has triggered a sharp rise in welfare benefits. Florida now leads the nation in requests for food stamps, and state leaders expect much more to come.

"These are families, these are children, these are our fellow Floridians in need. And we must do everything we can to make their lives better," said Governor Crist.

The number of Floridians getting food stamps has risen by 45 percent since last year.

In 2006, Crist said growth would magically keep Florida's econmy a float. Crist is now playing the tax shift game. Crist won't raise taxes to pay Florida's bills. He will ask President-election Barack Obama for billions. Crist wants money for bridges and Medicaid spending. Just as long as Crist doesn't have to pay for it by raising Florida taxes.

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The Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act

The Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act passed in the House by a vote of a vote of 237-170. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined the bill's goal.

On Jump Starting the Auto Industry:

“Today we are considering legislation not as life-support to sustain a dying industry, but a jump start for an industry that is essential to our country’s economic health. One in 10 American jobs is linked to the domestic auto industry, and it is a key pillar in an American manufacturing sector critical to our national security and economic competitiveness for decades to come.”

On Tough Love for the Auto Industry:

“This legislation is built on four principles and actually comes down to a question of tough love. Tough love for an industry whose success is essential to our economic success, whose jobs are important to our workforce, whose innovation is essential to our progress, and whose manufacturing, technological, and industrial base is also essential to our national security.”

On Taxpayer Protections in the Legislation:

“When we ask taxpayers to put up money to fund this restructuring, we must have accountability to the American people. The President will designate a ‘car czar’ to oversee the industry’s restructuring. The taxpayers get a return on their investment or are first in line to be repaid.”

On Auto Executives:

“We will soon see in a matter of weeks if the executive suites in Detroit are willing to make a choice. Certainly there needs to be retooling of the plants and renegotiating of the contracts. There may have to be reconsideration of the management of these companies if they cannot live up to the standard of this legislation and prove themselves worthy of the taxpayers’ dollar that is being placed there.”

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Probably not. No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it."

George W. Bush, on if the Bible is historical fact.

Bush belives there is room for both evolution and religion.

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Jesse Jackson Jr. Is Candidate 5

"I've done nothing wrong."

Jesse Jackson Jr.

The Associated Press and Politico both confirmed that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is the infamous Senate Candidate 5. A lawyer for Jackson confirmed media speculation.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevish reportedly asked Jackson to raise $500,000 in exchange for President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat. Blagojevish was recorded as describing his conversation a "pay-to-play" deal.

Jackson's attorney's held a press conference. Patrick Fitzgerald's office informed Jackson that he was a target before Blogojevish's arrest.

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Frank Zappa and Buell Neidlinger

On Thanksgiving My friends Ken, Deb, Martin, and Misuzu came by for some pie. Ken and Martin are cellists, and Misuzu plays piano, so naturally we got talking about music. Martin is starting up a metal band with 3 cellos and a drummer, and he got talking about Dream Theater (Steve Vai did some recording with them, but only a vocal track, go figure!)I told them about the upcoming Zappadan celebration. Ken used to play in a symphony in Texas and suggested I investigate Buell Neidlinger. I couldn't find any video as he did mostly studio work, but Buell recorded with Zappa and Jean Luc Ponty.

Here's a small part of a great interview withBuell Neidlinger

All About Jazz: I wanted to first start with how you made the switch from ‘cello to bass and how you began your jazz career.

Buell Neidlinger: Oh, when I was young I was one of those – what do you call those people – prodigies? I was a cellist, and my cello teacher Luigi Silva’s idea was that in the summer you should take bass lessons for a month, because it would strengthen your hand for the cello, which is very true. Not only that, it makes the fingerboard of the cello seem that much smaller, and so the technical demands seemed much less than they had previously. Anyway, he hadn’t chosen a bass teacher for me, but he told my parents they should find one. My uncle was more interested in music than my parents were, and they put him to work to find a bass teacher. So, he picked me up one evening and took me down to Eddie Condon’s nightclub in the Village (it was on Third Street then) and he pointed to Walter Page, the great bassist in the Basie orchestra who was also with Eddie Condon for many years, and he said ‘there’s your bass teacher.’ And so I commenced having lessons with Walter Page. He had some ability with the bow – I had a lot more than he did – and he did show me the bass and how to play it, and I got interested in him as a person and I started to hang around Condon’s a few times (of course you had to go with an older person). I was thirteen or something – I was pretty young.

And that’s how I got started on bass.

AAJ: You had taught some too, at Cal Arts and the New England Conservatory?
BN: That came years later, after I was in the Boston Symphony. While I was with the BSO, I went out [to California] to record with Frank Zappa on October 19, 1969. That’s a date I’ll never forget because it was a turning point in my life. That day I met Mel Powell, who was the dean of music at the new school and had been interested in hiring me. After our meeting in Frank’s basement he hired me and I went to Cal Arts.

A short list of people Buell has played and recorded with:

Neil Diamond,David Grisman,Duane Eddy,Earth Wind and Fire,Rex Stewart, Vic Dickenson, Coleman Hawkins and Eddie Condon,Cecil Taylor's Quartet,Jimmy Giuffre 3, Steve Lacy, Gil Evans, Freddie Redd, six months as an accompanist for Tony Bennett,Marty Krystall,classical sessions with Stravinsky,Van Dyke Parks, Paul Williams,Peter Rowan,Poco, Lionel Ritchie,Maynard Ferguson, Stewart Copeland, Kenny Rodgers, Leo Kottke, Air Supply, Elvis Costello, Natalie Cole, Manhattan Transfer, Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt, Frank Sinatra, Pops Staples...and the list goes on.

Bare Assed Feminism

You know, I'm reading this article in Vanity Fair about Jon Favreau, the Obama speechwriter caught in a photo groping a cardboard cut out of Hilllary, that I'm sure you've already seen and I won't post it. The jist of the article wonders why Favreau has yet to be fired, and why sexist incidents are seemingly pooh-pooh'ed as nothing. And that's all well and good, but as I'm reading the article, I saw this picture of Kate Winslet's ass next to it:

As far as photos of women wearing nothing but high heels go, it's tasteful. And that last sentence contains about as much irony as I see in this Vanity Fair piece. Note to whoever the editors are there: when discussing feminism, avoid showing pictures of nearly naked women. Because while Favreau was caught in a sexist photo and should be fired, you're profiting off soft core.

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The Rod Blagojevich Numbers Game

It is no secret that Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrest for attempting to sell Barack Obama's seat for the highest bidder. The potential buyers were list by number. Adam Serwer has a break down of who these people might be. I follow Florida politics. Illinois is not my beat. I'm not going to venture to guess.

Update: the New York Times has a profile on U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzerald.

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Affordable Housing Office Scandal

The Hillsbororough County Commission requested the County Internal Performance Auditor investigate why the Affordable Housing Office lost $2 million in grant money. The CIPA released it's report.

Based on our review and analysis, the County’s affordable housing assistance programs have historically been plagued with unprincipled management and business practices. Many of the problems date back before 2003. The very nature and demonstrated susceptibility of housing assistance programs nationwide to misappropriation, corruption and greed requires that County Administration establish effective controls and oversight. It is imperative that specific controls be installed and enforced that provide assurances that dignity and integrity prevail with all housing programs; grant funds are adequately safeguarded; and business practices are authentic, legitimate, and transparent.

Hillsbough County ranks 516 out of 54 in national HOME funding. This is due to years of mismanagement and poor oversight. The AHO had a "laissez-faire" attitude about committing matching funds. Things were so bad that the AHO couldn't keep up with it's bookkeeping records. The kicker is the corruption.

Beginning in 2001 the Community Improvement Department (CID), the housing agency at that time, began a cycle of failing to commit all HOME grant funds. To prevent immediate losses of grant funds that had accumulated during their tenure, it appears that former County housing managers entered speculative or bogus projects in the Federal tracking and reporting system in 2004, 2005 and 2006, committing grant funds that set idle and unused because the projects never materialized. This practice is unauthorized and went undetected by HUD for several years. When these projects were identified and removed from the Federal tracking and reporting system in June 2007 it put the County’s housing program out of compliance with HUD requirements for timely commitment.

The AHO is under investagation by U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill. The report shows former AHO director Howie Carroll was involved in corruption. The AHO received $16 million last year. Carroll used part of the money for Little Manatee Housing Corporation and Rainbow/Oasis Apartments. Little Manatee Housing Corporation and Little Manatee Housing Corporation did not qualify for funding.

Additionally, HUD-Jacksonville, during a September 2007 monitoring review, determined that a County’s affordable housing project, Rainbow/Oasis, was out of compliance with Federal requirements. In September 2006 the County removed the lien requirement on the owner of the project and allowed the sale of the project to accommodate non-eligible tenancy. The funds were previously committed by the County’s housing agency in 1997, paid for, in part, with County HOME grant funds. The rehabilitation project was completed in February 2001. HUD requirements prohibit the sale of federally-funded housing projects before the expiration of the affordability designation period, in this case 10 years, or until the year 2011. As a result of this ineligibility, the amount of HUD’s participation in the project ($731,511) was uncommitted and is included in the current shortfall. HUD did not require repayment of these funds as it did in the case of Little Manatee but a different financial/reimbursement arrangement was made to account for the funds. This event is discussed in greater detail on page 75 of this report.

The renovation of Rainbow/Oasis was completed in 2001. Yet, it was still receiving federal funding. The county was forced to pay back $200,000 for Little Manatee. This is a major story. I hope the media gives the provides coverage.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Hillsborough County Mayor Question Continues

In 2006, I questioned if the county mayor petition could pass legal challenges. The answer is a resounding no.

The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal from the group that had sought to ask Hillsborough voters if they'd like to create an elected county mayor.

Lower courts had ruled that the question was flawed in knocking it off this year's ballot. With the Supreme Court's refusal to hear an apeal, backers will have to rewrite the question and proposed charter change and collect signatures from registered voters again if they hope to get it on the 2010 ballot.

The Florida Supreme courts prior ruling dictate that ballot language be clear and precise. WMNF summed up the ballot language confusion.

The ballot question was originally in two parts:

1. Should there be a county mayor.
2. Should the mayor have veto power.

The latter part passed. Former Hillsborough County Commission Jan Platt noted people will be voting to give veto power to a mayor that doesn't exist. Platt's other argument is county officials are an extention of the state. The county mayor will have no power over the sheriff or the property appraiser. Is Mary Ann Stiles going to past those powers to the mayor with another ballot question?

I hate the county mayor idea and I don't see that changing.

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Larry Craig Loses Appeal

Former Sen. Larry Craig lost another appeal attempt to turn over his conviction. Craig confessed to attempting to solicit sex from an undercover police officer.

Craig's attorney, Billy Martin, argued before the appeals court in September that there was insufficient evidence for any judge to find him guilty.

In its 10-page opinion, the appeals panel said that Craig failed to show that Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter abused his discretion by denying his petition to withdraw his plea. Porter had said the plea was "accurate, voluntary and intelligent, and ... supported by the evidence."

Craig needs to give up and accept who he is.

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Lorna Bracewell - Song for the Voiceless

Lorna Bracewell is a feminist/lgbt sinder-songwriter. The Tampa edition of Creative Loafing is now doing recording sessions with local musicians. It is about time they used Youtube to spotlight local musicians.

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Know Your Reproductive Rights

Kirsten Suhr of NARAL hit the streets and gave people a quiz on reproductive rights. I got all the questions right. Try the quiz without watching the video. I

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Top 10 Worst Predictions of 2008

Foreign Policy released there picks of the worst predictions of the year. My favorite is from self-styled Paul Krugman stalker Donald Luskin.

“[A]nyone who says we’re in a recession, or heading into one—especially the worst one since the Great Depression—is making up his own private definition of ‘recession.’” —Donald Luskin, The Washington Post, Sept. 14, 2008

Nice call.

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Joe the Plumber Disses McCain

It was obvious there was something was wrong with Joe the Plumber when he stood up John McCain at a campaign. To make matters worse, the rally was near Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher's (aka Joe) house.

Wurzelbacher is now dissing John McCain.

“I asked him some pretty direct questions,” he continued. “Some of the answers you guys are gonna receive — they appalled me, absolutely. I was angry. In fact I wanted to get off the bus after I talked to him.”

Doesn't this unlicenced residential plumber have a job to get back to?

I have done commercial plumber and can tell you residential plumbing is pussy plumbing. I had to get on a lift and hang twenty foot copper pipe and cast iron pieces. It is even worse when you have to work in cramp spaces with the mechanical guys and electricians. Playing with PVC pipe and repairing sinks does not impress me.

My favorite part of the Politico article.

Asked why he didn’t leave McCain’s campaign if he was “appalled” by the candidate, Wurzelbacher said, “honestly, because the thought of Barack Obama as president scares me even more.”

Perhaps Joe, you thought leaving the McCain campaign would screw up your book deal and scription-only website. You are nothing, but a symbol that speaks nonsense.

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Crist Defends Trip

Gov. Charlie Crist defends his European trip that cost the taxpayers $430,000.

"I think that I have a duty to do as much as I can to promote employment for my fellow Floridians," Crist told the Times/Herald. "And that's what a trade mission is designed to do, and I hope it does it."

$1,300 was for room-service. Another $320 was spent on portable electric fans. $8,000 for first class plane tickets. Crist's hotel suite cost a thrifty $2,179 per night. Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey less than 12 hours work totals to $5,135. The trip was originally to cost $255,000. The business community covered $30,000 of Crist's expenses. Taxpayers are stuck with the rest of the bill.

How did a trip budgeted for $255,000 tally up to $460,000? Crist needs to answer that question.

Charlie Crist press release:

“These are historically challenging economic times our state is facing, but just like Florida’s families, we will continue to tighten our belts and live within our means. I am eager to work with Speaker Sansom, President Atwater and members of the Legislature to find solutions that best serve our people.”

Crist and Sansom are not in a position to discuss fiscal conservative policies.

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Cartoon Factory Seeks $50 Million Bailout From Congress

IOWA RIVER BASIN (Disassociated Press)- The fate of the U.S. cartoon industry and scores of jobs are on the line as major players work out details on Tuesday for a plan to extend emergency loans to the political cartoon factory, Zencomix, in exchange for tougher oversight.

"With the election of Barack Obama, we're seeing lines of comedy credit drying up. The days when "John Bolton and Atlas Juggs singing a duet" brought in a cool million are long gone. Sarah Palin gave us a glimmer of hope, but with the election of Obama, the Lumpy Gravy Train has derailed. We need help." said Saul Shlee, author of the legendary underground sensation "Support The Republicans" and member of the Zencomix stable of artists.

Congressional Democrats and the White House have been in talks for several days to finalize an emergency loan package estimated to be worth up to $50 million to prevent the collapse of Zencomix. Longer-term help also could be on the way if certain conditions were met.

"Does he really need to spend all that time putting the eyebrows on his cartoons? It's highly inefficient." asked Congressman John Boner (R-Ohio), "And maybe it's time to put the ballpoint pens down and modernize to vector drawings. Sure, they may have to lay off some cross-hatchers on the assembly line, but you don't see Garfield or The Family Circus up here with their hands out."

The U.S. economy hemorrhaged more than 530,000 jobs during November, further increasing the urgency for help to stop the collapse of Zencomix and save more than 350,000 ROFLMAOs and millions of other LOLs that depend on the industry.

President George W. Bush has voiced concern about the cartoonist's ability to survive, prompting a meeting between White House aides and Democratic staffers."Hey, I was the guy's bread and butter." The President said, choking back tears. "Now what's he gonna do? It's not like he can recycle all the old cartoons like he's Blondie and Dagwood. About all he's got left is a few cliche ridden Lame Duck cartoons, and you can't even give those things away."

The administration has maintained that any plan must include best efforts to guarantee taxpayer dollars are paid back and that the cartoonist is able to reorganize and compete.

Democrats were trying to allay administration concerns through a counter proposal. They said they were confident a deal could be reached.

In return for aid, lawmakers have requested a serious commitment from the cartoonist to change the way Zencomix does business. Zencomix submitted business-plan information to Congress last week with a $50 million bailout request.

The latest draft would release loans later this month while establishing an oversight office of one or more officials to ensure compliance by the cartoonist. No bonuses or "golden parachutes" for top executives will be permitted, and Zencomix would have to sell their company's 1975 Datsun B210, "The Honeybee".

The proposal also sets a March 31 deadline for Zencomix to submit detailed plans of how they intend to cut costs and further overhaul their business.

"We're going to need to see more details on how Zencomix plans to spend the money. An outline written on a bar napkin for an epic graphic novel about a Mountain Named Billy is insufficient information for Congress to appropriate 5o million dollars." said Senator John Cornhole (R-Texas).

Quote of the Day

"It’s not a clean-cut division. If you have studied at all creationism vs. evolution, there’s theistic or God-controlled evolution and there’s variations on all those themes."

Stephen Johnson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Music Goodies

Twilight Singers

Love/Annie Mae
A Love Supreme/Please Stay

This is two live tracks from the Twilight Singers first tour. Word is Greg Dulli's personal life was bottoming out. The performances are excellent. I do wonder how much coke Dulli did during the set.

Gina Vivinetto used to be the lead singer of Bullwinkle. She informed me that her old band was on Myspace. I was surprised by how well the music held up. Many early 90s Tampa indie bands recordings sounded bad back in the day. They only got worse. Even great local bands like Monday Morning had trouble in the studio. Next the the Grassy Knoll Gunmen tape and CD and Kacy Ross's experimental music, this is the best recording from the era.

Beware: Gina name-checks Sam Shepard in a song. I'm disappointed she didn't drop entire passages from The Tooth of Crime.

Recommended listening: Sonic Thing Or Two, Mess.

Tampa bands, drop me an email and a link to your Myspace site. If I like it, I will mention it in a post.

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Sam Zell's Promissory Note

Harold Meyerson reports that Sam Zell used a $225 million promissory note to buy the Chicago Tribune. The sales price of the Tribune was $315 million. The employee stock ownership plans are at a 100 percent risk. Tribune employees will see their retirement packages disappear. This is the media version of Enron.

The Tribune management told staff "all ongoing severance payments have been discontinued." The company has laid off staff. Zell is telling them they are stiffed.

Zell bought the Tribune in 2007 and filed for bankruptcy in 2008. That is quite an accomplishment.

Related: Chicago Tribune In Trouble
Why Bloggers Will Never Replace Journalists

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Application Gate

It is highly unethical for elected officials to conduct outside business on state time. That is exactly what Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom did.

House Speaker Ray Sansom, R-Destin, sought an $110,000 per-year job at Northwest Florida State College by faxing in his application from his state office, this public document shows.

His communications director acknowledged that it was “not appropriate” for a lawmaker to use his public office to conduct private business, but explained the move as an “innocent mistake.”

Sanson is blaming a staffer for sending out the application. That doesn't pass the B.S. test. The job was never advertised and Sansom was hired the same day the application was submitted. The media needs to ask how did Sansom know about the job and why didn't the board of trustees seek other candidates? The Sansom application was late and didn't show up on the public notice of the school meeting agenda.

This avoidance of public scrutiny has been seen before from Sansom. The Speaker failed to put in a Community Budget Issue Request for Jay Odom's hanger. That means there is no record of a public budget request. Sansom got the funding by earmarking it for school construction projects. Sansom is going out of his way to avoid transparency. It makes me wish the the feds investigate the Speaker. This nonsense has gone on too long.

Update: Sansom gave this jaw-dropping quote to AP.

"I believe that after years in office people would know that I would not do anything to get something funded for a job or to better myself. I believe in what we're doing."

Most "people" can't name their Congressional represntative. How can they possibly know Sansom can be trusted. Sansom needs to answer questions about how he got NFW State College job and themoney he earmarked for the hanger. He has done neither.

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Bad Sexual Harassment Ruling

Eugene Volokh posted the disturbing ruling of the Evans v. Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars case.

Plaintiff's sexual harassment claims fail because she was not an “employee” within the meaning of the [D.C. Human Rights Act]. The DCHRA defines an employee as “any individual employed by or seeking employment from an employer.” The statute defines an employer as “any person who, for compensation, employs an individual....” Plaintiff did not satisfy this definition, as she was not working for compensation, nor was she seeking a paid job. Moreover, while this issue has never been decided under the DCHRA, it has consistently been held under Title VII that an unpaid intern is not an employee.

Judges are to interpret the law. Not make them. I haven't read the ruling. It certainly appears that laws should be made in the District of Columbia to protect female interns from sexual harassment. This is unacceptable.

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Karen Thurman Letter To Charlie Crist

Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman asked Charlie Crist to repay $430,000 the Governor spent on his lavish summer trip.

The Honorable Charlie Crist
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Dear Governor Crist,

As you know, Florida is facing a major budget crisis. After cutting billions of dollars from vital education, healthcare and public safety programs last year - cuts that hurt Floridians struggling to get by during these tough economic times - our state still face larger and ballooning deficits.

This weekend, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that your trip this summer cost taxpayers a total of $430,000. They reported that taxpayers footed the bill for your entourage of more than two dozen, including a photographer and nine bodyguards. They write about your accommodations and expenses that, “His London hotel suite, originally estimated to cost $1,800 a night, actually was $2,179, the Sun-Sentinel found. He flew first class for about $8,000 round trip, courtesy of a Miami travel agency. He ran up room service and minibar tabs of more than $1,300. And he spent $320 on electric fans to keep him cool while giving speeches.”

This news comes at the same time you are calling on Floridians to make sacrifices and ordering government agencies to cut spending. With tours of Buckingham Palace and visits to the Eiffel Tower on your agenda, it was clear at the time that your trip served as a taxpayer financed vacation. While some positive results may come from the trip, the lavish accommodations and first class travel were beyond excessive. The same results could have been accomplished should you have stayed at more modest accommodations than the Presidential suites of five-star hotels, while creating huge saving for taxpayers.

While your office continues defending your trip, claiming it has helped Florida’s economy the statistics are clear: since your trip more than 48,000 Floridians have lost their jobs, over 145,000 Floridians have received foreclosure notices, and our tourism industry has seen a major decline in the number of visitor. Additionally, since your trip we have learned that our state’s deficit has grown by more than $2 billion.

To show that you are a responsible steward of Florida taxpayers’ hard earned dollars, you should reimburse the state’s treasury the costs associated with this trip.


Karen L. Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party

Related: Power Play

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Quote of the Day

"The thuggery O’Reilly mentions was contemptible, but the rest of it was just normal democratic protest. (O’Reilly himself frequently asks his viewers to boycott businesses that offend him, such as department stores whose employees wish customers “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”) None of it comes anywhere near “fascism,” let alone some sort of fascist “movement” that could plausibly threaten to take over the government. I don’t think it was at all unreasonable for me to infer that the targets of Mr. Gingrich’s “fascism” remarks were the mainstream gay-rights movement in general and the opponents of Proposition 8 in particular.

"One more thing. O’Reilly said last night that I “refused to come on ‘The Factor,’” as he calls his program. This is simply a lie. Neither he nor any of his staff asked me to appear on his program, either directly or through anyone else at The New Yorker. I’m puzzled that O’Reilly said otherwise, since he has to know that we know he was lying. I guess he just doesn’t care. He’s got his base."

Hendrik Hertzberg, on Bill O'Reilly's bogus invitation to be on his show.

Hertzberg was ambushed interviewed by an O'Reilly Factor staffer. O'Reilly came after Hertzberg after the New Yorker columnist Hertzberg dared to print Newt Gingrich's own words against gay marriage.

Like a polluted swamp, anti-gay bigotry is likely to get thicker and more toxic as it dries up. Viciousness meets viscousness. “Look,” Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, said the other day (on the air, to Bill O’Reilly), “I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence. . . . I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion. And I think if you believe in historic Christianity, you have to confront the fact.” For diversity’s sake, he added that “the historic version of Islam” and “the historic version of Judaism” are likewise menaced—which is natural, given that gay, secular, fascist values are “the opposite of what you’re taught in Sunday school.”

Words matter. Gingrich's choice of words was to call Hertz berg "a total jerk." Gingrich still has the same charm that forced him to give up his congressional seat.

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Kenneth Quinnell Profiled On Firedoglake

Kenneth Quinnell is running for a county Florida State Committeeman seat. These are positions filled by each county's Democratic Party. Quinnell is running against party establishment candidate Jon Ausman. FiredogLake did a recent interview with Quinnell.

Update: Quinnell concedes the race to Ausman.

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Write A Caption: A Bill O'Reilly Christmas

Wonkette explains this photoshop disaster that appeared in Parade.

HATS OFF to esteemed thing Parade for this sexy clip art collage of a mall Santa preparing to bone claymation Rudolph who is stepping on Bill O’Reilly as black people do their black African holiday whatevers in the background. The Jew Cookies see it all. This masterpiece, folks, accompanies “Bill O’Reilly’s Great American Holiday Quiz,” because suddenly you’re NOT ALLOWED to say “Merry Christmas” anymore, in America, because of the Prop 8 protesters.

Nothing brings out the holiday spirits quite like a pundit whom wants to deny Muslims the right take the day off for their holidays.

O'REILLY: So a Muslim wanted a Muslim holiday, which is absurd in a Judeo-Christian country. I mean, we can't be having Hindu and Buddha. I mean, come on. I mean, this country is founded on Judeo-Christian traditions.

I wish O'Reilly a happy holiday.

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What's up, Gaza?

We often hear about the violent side of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict because that's more sensational, but we're subjected to much less about normal, day to day life there. So what's normalcy in Gaza right now?
Smuggled through tunnels from Egypt, sheep were not selling well in a Gaza market on the eve of a Muslim holiday in which the animals are slaughtered and their meat is donated to the poor.

'People here are just watching one another and nobody is buying,' complained sheep merchant Omar Fuji. 'The prices are higher because we had to pay a $100 fee to the tunneller on every sheep that came through.'

And why aren't Palestinians buying the sheep?
'It is a difficult Eid [holiday]. There are no salaries, no cash at banks. Electricity is cut most of the day,' said Ezzel-Deen Abu Amira, a 42-year-old civil engineer.

Some 77,000 Gaza employees have not received their November pay and banks have been shut since Thursday because they do not have enough money to operate. Israel cut off imports of cash and other goods this month as cross-border violence rose.

And thus we see normal, day to day life in the Gaza Strip. Some people call news like this anti-semitic; others call it "context".

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Why Bloggers Will Never Replace Journalists

The Chicago Tribune announced hiring bankruptcy advisors and the law firm Sidley Austin. The Herald Tribune reports the McClatchy Co. is looking for a buyer of the Miami Herald.

The McClatchy Co., burdened by debt and a steep slide in newspaper advertising, wants to sell one of its most prized properties, The Miami Herald, according to people briefed on the company's plans.

McClatchy, the nation's third-largest newspaper chain, has approached potential buyers for The Herald, said these people. But they said they knew of no serious offers for the paper, reflecting the evaporation of major investors' interest in buying newspapers.

The company refused to discuss the matter. Elaine Lintecum, the treasurer, said, "We do not comment on market rumors."

"If anyone should fear a Depression, it should be journalists, who are already the equivalent of 1980s steelworkers," wrote Virginia Postrel. "But instead, they seem positively giddy with anticipation at the prospect of a return to '30s-style hardship--without, of course, the real hardship of the 1930s. (We're all yuppies now.)"

Glenn Reynolds approvingly links to Postrel's post.

And in 1914, a lot of the same sorts of people were giddy with anticipation for the war, because they expected a transformative and purifying experience. It was transformative.

This is utter nonsense. Postrel should ask the laid off employees of the Tampa Tribune if they feel "giddy" or purified about being laid off. I regularly exchange emails with members of the media. These people are scared of losing their jobs during a recession. Those concerns do not fit Reynolds' and Postrel's anti-media libertarian worldview that conservative bloggers are true reporters and the media is liberal propagandists.

Reynolds and Postrel have no intention of reporting from the frontlines of Afghanistan. The media gave us the excellent Lara Logan. The blogsosphere takes media rejects, such as unsuccessful columnist Michelle Malkin. The media may drop print and become an online beast. The news services will still be doing reporting. The bloggers will be commenting and linking to the news.

The person ahead of the curve was Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo. Marshall turned his blog into an online news service. There is election coverage, breaking news stories, and investigative journalism. His work on the blog earned a Polk award. Reynolds kept overstating how blogging would replace the media. Marshall quietly created an internet media empire.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dan Gelber Considering Senate Run

On his blog, Florida Senate member Dan Gelber announces he is "seriously looking at it" running for Mel Martibez's seat.


Pylon Music Goodies

Miss Bullwinkle linked to blog post by Pylon singer By Vanessa Briscoe Hay. The singer remembers a humorous tour experience.

Pylon - Crazy
Found at

Cool - Pylon

Volume - Pylon

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Chicago Tribune In Trouble

The Chicago Tribune is facing a possible bunkruptcy.

Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co. is working with bankruptcy advisers at investment bank Lazard and law firm Sidley Austin to weigh its financial options, sources said Sunday.

"It's an uncertain and difficult environment," Tribune Co. spokesman Gary Weitman said Sunday night. "We haven't made any decision. We're looking at all of our options."

The Tribune was dealing will investor pressure in 2007. The company sold shares to local billionaire Sam Zell to restore public confidence. The deal gave Zell ownership of the Chicago Cubs. The results were disastrous. Los Angeles Times columnist Harold Meyerson accused Zell of destroying The Times.

During his first year in journalism, Zell has visited the city rooms and Washington bureaus of a number of Trib publications to deliver obscenity-laced warnings and threats to employees that whatever it was they were doing, it wasn't working. There was too much coverage of world and national affairs, he told Times writers and editors; readers don't want that stuff. Last week, the company decreed that its 12 papers would have to cut by 500 the number of pages they devoted every week to news, features and editorials, until the ratio of pages devoted to copy and pages devoted to advertising was a nice, even 1 to 1. At the Times, that would mean eliminating 82 pages a week.

As the company prepares to shed more reporters, it has measured writers' performances by the number of column inches of stories they ground out. It found, said one Zell executive, that the level of pages per reporter at one of Zell's smaller papers, the Hartford Courant (about 300), greatly exceeded that at the Times (about 50). As one of the handful of major national papers, however, the Times employs the kind of investigative and expert beat reporters not found at most smaller papers. I could name a number of Times writers who labored for months on stories that went on to win Pulitzers and other prizes, and whose column-inch production, accordingly, was relatively light. Doing so, I fear, would only put their necks on Zell's chopping block. So let me instead note that if The Post's Dana Priest and Anne Hull, who spent months uncovering the scandalous conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and whose reporting not only won a Pulitzer but caused a shake-up in the Army's treatment of wounded veterans, had been subjected to the Zellometer productivity index, they'd be prime candidates for termination.

Which is precisely, unfortunately, what's been happening at the Times. Voluntarily or not, large numbers of highly talented editors and reporters have left. The editorial staff is about two-thirds its size in the late 1990s, with further deep cuts in the offing. A paper that is both an axiom and an ornament of Los Angeles life, that helps set the political, business and artistic agenda for one of America's two great world metropolises, is being shrunk and, if Zell continues to get his way, dumbed down.

Cartoonist Rob Tornoe summed up Zell's leadership of the LAT.

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Ray Sansom's Hanger Project

The St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald report on Florida House speaker Ray Sansom's budgeted tax to land owned by Jay Odom. In 2007, Odom attempted to build hurricane proof metal hangers at Destin Aiport. Destin's city manager Kelvin Espada never visited the facility to talk with Odom about his plan to build a hurricane shelter and training facility. Interestingly, Sansom Northwest Florida College bio mentions his negotiating for emergency training facilities. The Destin city council voted to allow Odom to request the funds.

According to NWF State College president Bob Richburg, Sansom's new position as vice president will have expanded responsibilities that will include oversight of the college foundation and also the development of agreements with local governments for training related to the college's new Community Services Complex and other endeavors.

The city of Destin wasn't interested in Odom's project. Insurance companies didn't want to sell coverage to the hanger deck. Odom managed to get $6 million in state funding. Sansom was the Senate budget chairman in 2007. Sansom denies there was quid pro quo.

"It doesn't benefit him at all," Sansom said in an interview at the Capitol. "He wasn't involved with me. I worked with the college."

However, the St. Petersburg Times reports Sansom, Odom and Northwest State College president Bob Richburg discussed the project in emails. What makes the deal more suspicious is Sansom never put in a Community Budget Issue Request. That means the budget request can't be found online. Odom told The Times the hanger would not be used for his planes. Airport operation manager Bill Blackford said the hanger would be used for Odom's planes. Odom is Blackburn's employer. That makes Blackburn a very reliable source. The hanger is now an official project of the college.

Richburg defended the money, calling the project a ``wonderful opportunity.''

Odom leases a half acre to the school for $1 dollar and receives a remodeled hanger deck. Richburg's college got $750,000 in start up funds and a cheap land lease. Sansom received $110,000-a-year job from Richburg and campaign contribions from Odom. It was a wonderful opportunity. Unless, you are a taxpayer.

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Five Blackwater Accused To Turn Themselves In

The Assiociated Press reports the 5 to-be-indicted Blackwater guards will surrender in Utah. The five men were involved with the 2007 shooting that killed 17 Iraqi civilians. They will turn themselves in to the FBI on Monday. The men have been identified as Donald Ball, Dustin Heard, Nick Slatten, Paul Slough and Evan Liberty.

The FBI investigation revealed members of Blackwater fired the only shots. The Iraqi government may file a civil suit against the Blackwater company.

Legal problems will a rise because members of Blackwater have immunity deals with the State Department.

Some legal scholars and the defense lawyers have argued that the law does not apply to the Blackwater guards because they were working for the State Department. Such a position was buttressed by the Congressional Budget Office in a report in August that said the law does not apply to civilians working for agencies other than the Defense Department.

Prosecutors are likely to argue that a 2005 amendment to the law expanded it to include contractors "supporting the mission of the Department of Defense." Prosecutors could argue that Blackwater security guards were helping the military by protecting State Department officials, legal experts have said.

The State Department wants nothing to do with the indicted men.

The State Department says its agents did not offer blanket immunity from criminal prosecution but only promised statements the guards made on the scene could not be used against them in any prosecution.

But when the investigation was turned over to the Justice Department to examine possible criminal activity, FBI agents discovered some guards believed they were immune from prosecution and therefore refused to be interviewed again, complicating the FBI investigation.

The State Department has covered for Blacwater for years. Blackwater has gotten into trouble with the Iraqi government and have fired upon U.S. military personal. State turned the case over to the Justice Department and is willing to allowed indictments. DoS could have claimed the Blackwater guards had immunity. State is saying the opposite.

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Fire Jon Favreau

Jon Favreau has been tapped to be Barack Obama's White House director of speechwriting. A picture of Favreau appeared on Facebook. In the photo, he appears on the left groping the breast of the mock Hillary.

I somehow figured this was a Facebook picture when the photo appeared at Feministe. Jon Favreau is stupid enough to allow himself or one of his friends to post this image. Common sense informs a person not to put anything online that might jeopardize employment. Compound that with Favreau being the speechwriter for the President-elect. This is a needless headache for Obama.

Favreau will have to work for Clinton and possibly write her speeches. What kind of workplace dynamic will this create? How will segments of Obama’s base feel about the President-elect retaining Favreau’s services. There are more cons then pros for keeping Favreau.

A speechwriter can be replaced. Obama can hire a talented female speechwriter. That will send a pro-feminist message. Favreau is stupid enough to pose for this photo. He doesn't need to be rewarded for his behavior and given opportunities to further embarras the incoming administration

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Tas and Litbrit Mock Silly Bloggers

Tas remembers Mr. T Experience front man Dr. Frank once was one of the internet's leading warbloggers. And yes, these people actually refered to themselves as "warbloggers". A quick search of Dr. Frank's archives and found this gem.

It's too bad he hasn't been giving speeches like this all along, but it's welcome nonetheless. After weeks of "leaks" and trial balloons about proposed scenarios for post-Saddam Iraq, the administration seems to have, at last, committed itself to the pro-democracy, neo-con program, or at least something along those lines. At the very least, any further waffling, wobbling, or backtracking, any hint that our efforts at Liberation will be less than sincere or thorough, any nod to the stability-at-all-costs mantra of Foggy Bottom and the GHWB alumni, can now be criticized fairly powerfully with a playback of the President's own words.

Yes, I had thought that to be the case after the 2002 State of the Union Address, as well. That was a good speech, too. How could he face the nation in 2003 with Saddam still in power? He did, and he could. And when he did, he gave pretty much the same speech, almost as though the intervening year hadn't even happened. In effect, anyway. That's the thing about speeches. You can say any damned thing you want. There's good bluster, and there's bad bluster, and there's bluster whose virtue waits upon events, but it's all never more than bluster until somebody does something. The hawkish commentariat and the supporters of "regime change" were singularly ineffective at pointing that out in such a way as to hold him to those words. The ditherer-in-chief got a free pass. If they're at all sincere about this Democracy stuff-- as many of them are-- they will have to do much better this time.

If Bush keeps speaking in this idiom, some of the non-partisans, the "loyal opposition," reasonable skeptics, unconvinced idealists and the like may even be swayed by it. As to the disloyal opposition (if it's permitted to use such an inflammatory term) nothing he could say or do would have any effect. For within the ranks of reasonable skeptics, honest Democratic partisans, and informed worry warts, there is a small sub-sector whose strident opposition to Bush's policies, regardless of what they may be, has solidified, atrophied, engraved itself in granite. This rigid antipathy is personal, emotional, sentimental and, it seems, quite intoxicating. If someone had loaded the AEI teleprompter with a McGovernite speech, or a Nader campaign press release, or a chapter of "Stupid White Men," or the lyrics to "Imagine," they'd still be calling him Hitler. (And, to be fair, it must be conceded that many of the partisans in the AEI audience would still have applauded.) It is interesting to speculate whether these hearts and minds would have ended up quite so impervious to persuasion if Bush had been giving this kind of speech all along. I have no idea. But I do know that if this was just a case of putting on the neo-con hat for a special occasion, he will have given this skeptic grounds for further cynicism.

Dr. Frank argued Bush needed to be more neoconservative to win the public's support.

I remember blogger Ken Layne advocating the invasion of Saudi Arabia. (Too bad his archives aren't online.) The other lefty war-bloggers Matt Welch, Armed Liberal and Jeff Jarvis. They were so difficult to read. Former conservative Iraq war hawk Andrew Sullivan was wrong, but he wasn't boring. The lefty hawks can't make the same claim.

What these warbloggers have in common is they were on Glenn Reynolds' blogroll. Josh Marshall was more hawkish then. Oliver Willis and Reynolds struck up an online friendship. That explains why they were on the blogroll. With the exception of Sullivan, Reynolds is the only reason people took these keypad warriors seriously. Marshall and Willis publicly disavowed Reynolds.

Atrios did a great service by bashing these lefty hawk bloggers. They have fallen into irreverency. A just world would have these bloggers read their pro-Iraq war posts to an audience. The bloggers would then participate in a Q and A session with war correspondents and retired military officers. The media would cover the session. I would love to see them explain their posts to people that experienced the war firsthand.

Litbrit has fun with an easier target: Michelle Malkin. The latter defends her appearance in a mink coat calendar with her usual tactful eloquence.

It’s a light-hearted calendar for conservatives by conservatives. Yes, wearing fur. Gasp! And make-up. Horrors! For the folks out there with Conservative Calendar Derangement Syndrome, here’s my prescription: Get over it and go back to ogling The One’s tight jeans and Michelle O’s backside. You’ll feel better in the morning.

In case your wondering, Malkin did use the word "moonbat." A google search documents 1,980 times the word has been used on Malkin's site. Conservatives fail to grasp that the Left isn't bothered by the term. Wingnut has a nice ring to it. The average person hears "moonbat" and think it's an exotic pet.

The mink calendar is to offend liberals for the sake of offending. That sums up the purpose of Malkin's blog. I watched her video pretending to be Amanda Marcotte. Besides it being bad, I thought Malkin was in serious need of a hug. The Daily Show this is not.

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