Saturday, January 31, 2009

Steal This Blogroll Amnesty Day Cartoon

Skippy, Jon Swift, and BlueGal run down the voodoo on Blogroll Amnesty Day.

Feel free to use the above cartoon for your B.A.D. posts or link buttons!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Pretenders - Up the Neck

Up The Neck - The Pretenders

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Small Government Equals Bad Government

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty criticized then President-elect Barack Obama's stimulus package. Pawlenty was asked if he would turn down federal aid to maintain his small government principles. Pawlenty balked.

"I'm not a big-government fan," said Charlie Crist. "But there are times when government needs to help." Crist hopes to use stimulus money for schools. There is a snag. Crist and the Florida legislature cut education funding below 2004-05 levels. Florida may not qualify for education stimulus money.

But the state is below that threshold. In fact, school funding coming directly from the state is now lower than it was in the 2004-05 school year. With Florida's budget shortfall for next year ballooning toward $4 billion, it's not clear it could meet that requirement.

That would mean it could not get the $3.5 billion in estimated stabilization funds, though it would still be eligible for about $2.3 billion earmarked to help poor kids and to renovate schools, among other items.

Crist wanted small government. The result was an underfunded education system.

All This Happened Before

Jeb Bush cut Kidcare to the bone. The cuts made Kidcare ineligible for $20 million in federal funds. The result were children placed on a 700,000 waiting list. Crist is right. There are times when government needs to help.

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Quote of the Day

"I don’t know why he would do that. Mr. Limbaugh is a voice of a significant portion of our conservative movement in America. He has a very wide viewing audience. He is entitled to his views, and he has a lot of people who listen very carefully to him. I don’t know why that the President would take him on. He’s part of the political landscape, and he plays a role."

John McCain

Note to McCain: Limbaugh hates you.

The Obama administration heavily courted McCain. The Maverick used the moment for photo-ops. Now the Obama people will feel screwed. Republicans have felt that way about McCain for years.

McCain is brilliant at keeping himself in the news cycle. His lack of policy knowledge or ability to manage a campaign proves no interest in learning the job. McCain wants is attention. Let's not give in to the Maverick's desires.

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Bush Gets His Own Shoe Statue

Baghdad artist Laith al-Amari needed a venue for his shoe statue. Tikrit is the howntown and place of Saam Hussein's capture. The Sunni residents have no love for George W. Bush.

The shoe statue was removed.

"We will not allow anyone to use the government facilities and buildings for political motives," said Abdullah Jabara. Aren't government buildings used everyday by people with political motives?

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Friday Cat Blogging

A bobcat and dog play.


Ray Sansom: Man of Values

Ray Sansom has stepped down as Speaker of the House.

"Effective immediately, I have decided to recuse myself from the exercise of my duties as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Ongoing legal proceedings have temporarily created an inability for me to carry out my responsibilities as Speaker. Under the House rules, during this temporary inability, Speaker pro tempore Larry Cretul will exercise all the duties, powers and prerogatives of Speaker.

I know Larry will manage the House with distinction and it will be an honor for me to serve under him at this time, until any legal proceedings I face are resolved. The allegations and reports associated with these proceedings have caused my family grave pain and this has prompted my decision. I expect positive outcomes and am confident that when the facts are known, my honesty and integrity will be confirmed."

Journalists need to ask Republicans, that gave Sansom a standing ovation, if they will rise again for Sansom? Charlie Crist defended Sansom? Will Crist continue to defend his party's Speaker?

Republicans talk about values. Those values are now being tested, as their former Speaker faces a grand jury investigation. Florida Republicans defended Sansom. Turning their backs now would show hypocrisy.

Samsom told supporters he will use his faith in family and God to guide him.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stimulus Package Caution

Kevin Drum makes a poor defense for the stimulus package.

Still, isn't the bill just a hodgepodge of unrelated spending? Sure. What else could it be? There's no way to spend $800 billion on infrastructure over the next two years, so most of the money has to be spent on other stuff. But so what? Employing clerks or crossing guards or home care workers counts every bit as much as employing backhoe operators or engineers. Spending money on contraceptives does as much for the economy as spending money on rebar. An unemployment check gets spent on food the same way a paycheck does.

I don't argue that there is a sense of urgency. The economy is bad. I disagree with Jim Johnson on two points. The economy will be bad past 2009 and we don't need to spend right away. The Obama administration needs to best use this money to jump start the economy. They won't get another chance.

Obama has wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama intends to increase troops in the latter. Iraq has shown security improvements. However, it would be foolish to make predictions of the withdrawal date. The wars and deficit will cause the U.S. government to continue to borrow money. The alternative is unemployment continues until 2011.

David Gregory of Meet the Press told Lawrence Summers economists said the stimulus package would fail, because it wasn't big enough. Summers dodges the question.

GREGORY: So let’s talk about that, and that is the stimulus or the recovery plan that the president has proposed. In December, this is what you wrote: “In this crisis, doing too little poses a greater threat than doing too much.”

That was an op-ed piece you did. In that same piece, you said at that time that the economy was headed to a position where it was underperforming, where it was falling short of capacity to the tune of a trillion dollars. Now, there are other economists that I’ve spoken to say actually that’s optimistic, that it’s actually falling short to the order of $2 trillion.

So why a stimulus plan that’s only 825 billion?

SUMMERS: David, this is the largest stimulus plan in the country’s history. It’s the largest investment in the backbone of our economy since the interstate -- since the interstate highway system. It’s going to double renewable energy. And it is only one phase of the approach that the president is taking.

The president has made clear that there will be strong action to address the terrible problems in our housing sector, that he will be using additional funds for a substantial financial recovery plan to get the flow of credit going. This is one component of our strategy to bring about expansion. And the president has also made clear that going forward we’re going to be leaning forward and that he is prepared to do what is necessary.

GREGORY: It is big, even...

SUMMERS: And so we believe this -- we believe that this is a properly sized approach to move the economy forward. You know, economists from several private firms have now corroborated our incoming CEA chairman Christina Romer’s estimate that the plan will create...

Contraceptives (which I support) or sod for the National Mall will stimulate the economy. A stimulus package should do what it claims. The alternative is just just as bad. Future generations are gonna be paying the bill.

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Feminism In A Snap

Jill Filipovic has a photographic proof Barack Obama taking women issues much more seriously than George W. Bush. Take notice of who is standing near Bush. Several Congressional Republicans are no longer in office. No more Tom Delay, Rick Santorum or Dennis Hastert. Change I can believe in.

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Quote of the Day

"They really should just go pull a Cheney. This is governance as talk radio."

Andrew Sullivan, on Minority Whip Jon Kyl's criticism of the stimulus package.

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Like A Bad Neighbor State Farm Is Not There

Earlier this month, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty rejected State Farm Florida's request to raise homeowners insurance 47.1 percent. State Farm Fl decided to drop all Florida property insurance policies. It will take State Farm two years to end all policies. The Office of Insurance Regulation has 90 days to approve the plan.

Florida leaders have reacted angrily to State Farm's announcement. McCarthy subpoenaed State Farm. The subpoena is a fishing expedition into any manner of State Fam documents. State Farm is certain to fight the subpoena.

Gov. Charlie Crist maintains his my-way-or-the-highway stance.

"They probably charge the highest rates in the state anyway," Crist said. "Floridians will be much better off without them." The problem with Crist's statement is he doesn't have a back up plan. Citizens Property Insurance has $3.6 billion on-hand. The Cat fund: $2.8 billion. Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, wants to stop State Farm from leaving. Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom is convening a meeting State Farm representatives. My fear is Crist does nothing.

State Farm Fl is the largest property insurance insurer in the state. Citizens Property Insurance can not absorb those policies. Either Crist courts private insurers into Florida or he gives in.

Update: Fasano is sponsoring legislation prohibiting State Farm from selling auto insurance, if State Farm no longer seels property insurance. Crist has voiced his approval of the pending bill. I am no fan of State Farm, but what happened to Republicans' Laissez-faire economic principles?

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Bye Bye Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office.

In a historic Illinois Senate vote, former Illinois Gov. Blagojevich was removed from office with 59 votes against 0.

Blagojevich delivered his own closing remarks. He used the time to play the martyr.

But how can you throw a governor out of office on a criminal complaint, and you haven't been able to show or prove any criminal activity? How can you throw a governor, elected twice by the people, out of office when the rules don't even require that you prove up elements of criminal allegations?

And more than that, how can you throw a governor out of office who is clamoring and begging and pleading with you to give him a chance to bring witnesses in to prove his innocence, to do more than just ask for a presumption of innocence? Don't even give me that. Let me make my case, let me bring my witnesses in, let me show you that I'm innocent and I didn't do anything wrong.

The most appalling part was Blagojevich portraying himself as a champion for low-income people. "Now, how is it an impeachable offense to protect low-income parents from losing their health care?" Blagojevich asked. "How is it an impeachable offense to keep those families in a position to be able to see their doctors?"

It is impeachable to do Quid pro quo shakedowns for Barack Obama's seat.

It is impeachable to run a gambling operation for organized crime.

It is impeachable to ask a horse-racing track owner for campaign contributions, in return for a bill signing.

It is impeachable for Blagojevich to extort the Tribune Company, in an attempt to fire editorial writers.

Blagojevich is many things. A champion for the common man is not one of them.

Update: Pat Quinn is officially Governor.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

41 Makes Joke About Pro-Choice Protester

George H.W. Bush cracks joke about the "ugliest woman." (The woman was a pro-choice protester.) The crowd laughs. Bill Clinton follows by making what can be construed as a racist joke. It is nice having a President that doesn't make obnoxious jokes.

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Charlie Crist Report Card

The Orlando Sentinel's Scott Maxwell gives Gov. Charle Crist a C-plus. That is generous.

Money quote:

"Second, you've either got to start delivering the things you promise -- or stop promising them. Nobody's taxes have dropped like a rock. And if you deliver any more 'help' on home insurance, many of us will no longer be able to afford our homes."

Update: Crist rather be liked than govern.

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Just a bit of complaining...

Let me preface this rant with yes, I know we need a bailout. But...

President Obama has promised to make government more open, a task which shouldn't be too difficult in the computer age where information can be digitized, indexed, and searched with querying assistants like Google. So for the bailout, Obama has launch "" for government openness on how the bailout money is spent.

There's one problem, though: currently contains none of that information, just a message which says "Check back after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to see how and where your tax dollars are spent."

How about I know what the bailout wants to do with my money beforehand?

Afterall, the government stating where the money goes beforehand could help guard the bailout bill against attacks from the seemingly anti-economy right. And not to echo their talking points, but a column about the bailout in today's Wall Street Journal that the starboard side is yammering about does have me worried.
We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.

In selling the plan, President Obama has said this bill will make "dramatic investments to revive our flagging economy." Well, you be the judge. Some $30 billion, or less than 5% of the spending in the bill, is for fixing bridges or other highway projects. There's another $40 billion for broadband and electric grid development, airports and clean water projects that are arguably worthwhile priorities...

Another "stimulus" secret is that some $252 billion is for income-transfer payments -- that is, not investments that arguably help everyone, but cash or benefits to individuals for doing nothing at all. There's $81 billion for Medicaid, $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $20 billion for food stamps, and $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don't pay income tax. While some of that may be justified to help poorer Americans ride out the recession, they aren't job creators.

On the last point the WSJ makes, they are correct -- Medicare is not a "job creator". Of course, I (as well as anybody else on the left, I imagine) would argue that such social safety nets are need to keep money in American's wallets. One thing that knocked the recession of the late 1920s into the Great Depression is that money dried up -- period. People literally didn't have a cent. And when you don't have money, you can't purchase anything, so the business sector stops producing, more people lose their jobs without government benefits to fall back on, so more people have not a cent... You can see how it snowballs. Indeed, the "safety net" is no joke -- social programs help keep recessions as recessions.

But what's also needed is job creation. As far as I can see, the $30 billion going to infrastructure repairs is the bulk of the act's job creation -- and that's less than 5% of the bill's money!

And why not put the expenses for different programs in their own bill? Why do we have a 647 page recovery bill in the first place chockful of payments to different programs? While some of this I can agree with, like social programs and aid to keep Amtrak running, other items are bullshit. $650 million for digital TV conversion? Uhm, why? I know in the face of an $850 billion bill, $650 million is a drop in the bucket ... But why?

How many other needless payments are there in the bailout? Damned if I know -- certainly doesn't contain that information!

I haven't looked over the actual legislation documents -- congressional bills and such -- that FDR signed during his first 100 days in office, but they look like single acts; single pieces of legislation. The Civil Workers Administration act setup the CWA and what the organization was supposed to do; the Tennessee Valley Authority setup the TVA, etc. There was no lump sum -- one all encompassing recovery act that included these programs. Back during the Great Depression, we had acts meant to create jobs, provide relief, save banks, etc.

And one thing FDR was successful with doing was getting American citizens to trust the government. Indeed before FDR took office, our government provided virtually no economic protections for citizens -- and many Americans liked it that way. They were proud and didn't want the government paying for them. But FDR developed a relationship with Americans through his fireside chats, telling them about the legislation he signed and how it would help them. FDR told it straight and became a trustworthy figure.

With clusterfuck bills like the Orwellian named "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act", Obama is not following FDR's footsteps. I know people will jump on me for attacking Obama after he's only spent a week in office and he hasn't changed the culture in DC yet, but this kind of government looks the same as the government we've seen for the past two decades: complex legislation with hardly any way to check it unless you have the time to read 650 pages of Washingtonian legalese. I expected more openness from the Obama administration -- I expected better. And yeah, his inauguration is not yet a distint memory, but the Obama administration isn't going to earn the trust of the American people if it keeps this up.

Additional reading and differing opinions:

dday @ Hullabloo points out good parts of the bill, including aid to state (so they can balance budgets) and the poor.

Steve Benen points out that some Democrats do not think the bailout bill goes far enough.

Liberal Oasis points out that most economists support the bailout bill. Libertarians from the Cato Institute oppose the bill, but the last time I checked Ron Paul got .02% of the vote, so nobody gives a shit what they think.

Kevin Drum is another blogger who points out the disappointment over funding for infrastructure repairs provided by the bailout. Given that engineers have given the state of America's infrastructure a near-failing grade of D and...
...estimated that it would take a $2.2 trillion investment…over the next five years to bring it into a state of good repair.”

I think there's room for a lot more than merely $30 billion of infrastructure repair. $2.2 trillion is a hell of a lot of jobs.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Bill Kristol and New York Times Part

Former New York Times columnist John Tierney was a source of great entertainment to me. Tierney urged Americans to buy more foreign oil and not recycle.

After you fill up your tank, twist the rear-view mirror so you can gaze at yourself. Repeat these words: ''I'm good enough, I'm rich enough, and doggone it, people in the Middle East like my money.''

Doggone it, I miss Tierney. I know the New York Times felt Tierney's column destroyed the newspaper's credibility. In Tierney's defense, the wordsmith penned comedy classics. The humor in Tierney's column was unintended. That only makes the reading experience more rewarding.

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

The New York Times feared being labeled part of the so-called liberal media. The newspaper hired Times Bill Kristol. Members of the newsroom wondered why the Times would hire a writer that accused the publication of treason.

Kristol's columns were one disaster after another. The pundit wrongly attributed a Michael Medved quote to Michelle Malkin. Kristol cited a Newsmax bogus story of Barack Obama attending Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright's " "white arrogance" sermon." Obama was in Miami, at the time. Kristol printed a retraction.

In this column, I cite a report that Sen. Obama had attended services at Trinity Church on July 22, 2007. The Obama campaign has provided information showing that Senator Obama did not attend Trinity that day. I regret the error.

The most troubling aspect is a Times columnist using Newsmax and Michelle Malkin as source material. A college professor would laugh at this garbage in a research paper. The New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. rewarded these faulty research skills with a contract.

Less than a month left in the presidential campaign, Kristol urges John McCain "fire his campaign." Sarah Palin negative polling numbers hurt McCain. Kristol publicly lobbied for Palin and predicted Palin will make gas prices plummet. Kristol wrote a Times column "A Star Is Born?"

I spent an afternoon with Palin a little over a year ago in Juneau, and have followed her career pretty closely ever since. I think she can pull it off. I’m not the only one. The day after the V.P. announcement, I spoke with an old friend, James Muller, chairman of the political science department at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He said that Palin “has been underestimated over and over again. She took on the party and state establishments here in Alaska, and left them reeling. She’s a very good campaigner, a quick study and a fighter.”

Palin swung and missed badly. Kristol did too by incorrectly predicting Republican strategist Mike Murphy would rejoin the McCain campaign. Kristol's Times tenure is marked by poor fact-checking and wildly off-the-mark predictions. The Times did not renew Kristol's contract. At least Tierney was funny.

The training ground for conservative commentary is the Weekly Standard and National Review. The majority of these pundits have no prior journalism experience and previously worked as GOP strategists. (Kristol was Dan Quayle's Chief of Staff.) These pundits don't have investigative reporting skills or informed policy knowledge. They came through the GOP political machine and write for the GOP political machine. The kicker is Republicans have created their own media empire and have the audacity to accuse other media organizations of bias. Kristol failed as a Times columnist because he wasn't a columnist. Kristol was a press secretary for the RNC.

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Warrantless Wiretaps

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Welcome to the Center-Right America

"The United States remains “basically a center-right country."

Jeb Bush

36 percent of Americans identify themselves as Democrats. 28 percent are Republicans. Democrats have their highest advantage since 1983. The Gallup poll sampled 30,000 people. It is hard for poll skeptics to argue with a straight forward polling question about party affiliation. (It is like asking someone their gender.) The poll margin of error is one percent. Gallup is fairly confident on the results.

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Good Idea of the Day

Senator Bill Nelson is sponsoring a legislation requiring bailout recipient to report how the money is spent.

"These guys have been living high-on-the-hog and now they’re subsidizing their lifestyle with public funds,” Nelson said, citing recent reports that just five big banks distributed $17 billion in dividends to shareholders after collectively receiving $100 billion in bailout money. "This practice has got to stop."

Nelson is one of the sponsors of the Troubled Asset Relief Program Transparency Reporting Act.


(a) Report- Each recipient of emergency economic assistance shall file with the Secretary of the Treasury on a quarterly basis--

(1) a detailed accounting of how emergency economic assistance is being used, including an explanation of how such funds have been allocated to stabilize financial markets and increase the availability of credit to consumers and businesses; and

(2) a certification that--

(A) no emergency economic assistance is being used for lobbying expenditures of political contributions in violation of section 2(b); and

(B) no emergency economic assistance is being used in violation of the guidelines issued by the Secretary of Treasury under section 3(a).

(b) Public Availability- Any report or certification filed under this section shall be made publically available by Secretary of the Treasury on-line, and at no cost.


(a) Use of Funds- Any person that violates section 2(b) shall be subject to a civil fine of at least $100,000 per violation.

(b) Future Funding- Any person that fails to comply with section 2(b) or the guidelines implemented under section 3 shall not be eligible to receive any future emergency economic assistance unless the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Financial Stability Oversight Board, determines that reasonable steps have been taken to bring actions into compliance with and to prevent future violations of this Act.

(c) False Report- Any person that fails to file a report or certification required under section 4 shall be subject to a civil fine of at least $100,000.

The bill is a good idea. Which means it very likely came from one of the bill's five co-sponsors.

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Gov. Jesus Christ Pose

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's defense attorney Edward Genson has resigned.

"I never require a client to do what I say, but I do require them to at least listen," Edward Genson said. "I intend to withdraw as counsel in this case."

Genson told AP Blagojevich is not informing him on his legal actions. Genson still has to finalize the official paperwork with the court, to make his withdrawal official. According to Blagojevich, he did not know his own lawyer was dropping him.

Blagojevich is becoming increasingly delusional. Blagojevich compared his legal woes to Pearl Harbor and his personal suffering to the sacrifices made by Martin Luther King Gandhi. Blagojevich believes he is a martyr.

Nixon could not face the truth of the tapes. The wiretap conversations will force Blagojevich back to reality. Blagojevich can live in denial until his trial. The Governor will sit in front of a grand jury and listen to profanity-laced discussions about money shakedowns. The grand jury will not see the second coming of Gandhi or MLK.

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Sometimes the Punchlines Write Themselves

Ann Althouse blames the lack of bookstore patronage on Barack Obama.

Despite shrines to Obama, the bookstore was nearly deserted

Wisconsin residents are unemployed and don't have money to buy books. In December, 25,000 have lost jobs. The unemployment rating is the highest since 1986. In Althouse's mind, the lack of shoppers at Borders is somehow Obama's fault.

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Republicans on the Closing of Gitmo

Peter Hoekstra: "... places hope ahead of reality — it sets an objective without a plan to get there."

Tom Price: "Closing the facility without a plan in place to replicate those functions is irresponsible."

Kit Bond: "Well, I think it's irresponsible to say you're gonna close Gitmo without having a plan."

The Repubicans have a plan. They will will the war on terror with talking points. The conservative talking point was President Barack Obama would back out of closing Gitmo. The new talking point is Obama doesn't have a plan.

The RNC foolishly spreaded the meme that Obama wouldn't close Gitmo. Obama repeatedly promised to close Gitmo. It was no shock that Obama signed the executive orders ending the nightname that is Gitmo. The RNC needs new political strategists or to hire Nostradamus. It is amazing GOP operatives misread Obama being anti-torture.

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The Ray Sansom Scandals

Ray Sansom faces two ethics complaints from David Plyer and Susan Smith. The State Commission on Ethics ruled Plyers' complaint was "legally sufficient." Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs will have a grand jury hear the ethics complaints.

Democrats quickly abandoned William Jefferson and Rod Blagojevich. The GOP operates differently. Sansom's position as Florida House Speaker caused Republicans to circle the wagons. Gov. Charlie Crist blew off a question to investigate Sansom. Attorney General Bill McCollum told a Panhandle resident he did not have the jurisdiction to investigate. After the St. Petersburg Times reported McCollum's email, the Attorney General suddenly put his investigative powers into action.

Columnist Howard Troxler breaks down the Sanson scandals.

To keep track, let's divide the "things to investigate" list about House Speaker Ray Sansom into three categories:

The Job.

The Meeting.

The Building.

I would add the possible violation of Florida's Sunshine laws.

Q. Does the Sunshine Law apply to the Legislature?
A. Florida's Constitution provides that meetings of the Legislature be open and noticed except those specifically exempted by the Legislature or specifically closed by the Constitution. Each house is responsible through its rules of procedures for interpreting, implementing and enforcing these provisions. Information on the rules governing openness in the Legislature can be obtained from the respective houses.

Q. Does the Sunshine Law applies to members-elect?
A. Members-elect of public boards or commissions are covered by the Sunshine law immediately upon their election to public off ice.

Q. What qualifies as a meeting?
A. The Sunshine law applies to all discussions or deliberations as well as the formal action taken by a board or commission. The law, in essence, is applicable to any gathering, whether formal or casual, of two or more members of the same board or commission to discuss some matter on which foreseeable action will be taken by the public board or commission. There is no requirement that a quorum be present for a meeting to be covered under the law.

Northwest Florida State College president Bob Richburg kept the meeting to hire Sansom closed to the public. The law requires minutes of the meeting be submitted for public record. Richburg waited 10 months to file the minutes. Richburg still hasn't explained why the meeting was held at Florida State University.

On the political side: how long can the Republican Party of Florida have their legislative spokesman mired in scandal. Sansom is toast. Keeping Sansom around hurts the state and gives Democrats an easy target. Is that what Florida Republicans want?

Update: Sansom has hired defense attorney Peter Antonacci.

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Quote of the Day

"I thought about Mandela, Dr. King and Gandhi and tried to put some perspective to all this and that is what I am doing now."

Rod Blagojevich, putting perspective on his indictment and impeachment.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Dec. 9 to my family, to us, to me, is what Pearl Harbor Day was to the United States. It was a complete surprise, completely unexpected. And just like the United States prevailed in that, we'll prevail in this."

Rod Blagojevich, showing his fighting spiriting by ducking his impeachment trial.


Obama Lifts Global Gag Rule

President Barack Obama issued an executive order lifting the Global Gage Rule.

"It will be today. He's going to make an executive order (lifting the global gag rule)," the official said.

The Democratic president's decision is a victory for advocates of abortion rights on an issue that in recent years has become a tit-for-tat policy change each time the White House shifts from one party to the other.

When the ban was in place, no U.S. government funding for family planning services could be given to clinics or groups that offer abortion services or counselling in other countries even if the funds for those activities come from non-U.S. government sources.

The policy did nothing to prevent unwanted prenancies and endangered the health of women. Congress should pass a law banning the Gag Rule.

Update: Cara has a related post.

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Questions on questions

Here's the cover of the latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine, featuring a darkened photo of Obama looking distressed with the caption "Yes, he did -- But what if he can't?"

I just checked Foreign Policy's archive to see if their covers from November 2000 - January 2001 had a similar theme, questioning Bush's ability to lead and govern. They didn't.

Foreign Policy magazine is hardly the only entity that pitches such questions of Obama; this cover symbolizes a seeming anti-Obama mindset among some in the media. And I understand that Obama starts his presidency during perilous times, which plays a role in desperation-themed covers him -- his policies needed to be questioned right from the get-go because his decisions right now may effect us for generations to come. Whereas when Bush came into office, what's the most important things we were thinking about? I remember tax cuts, stem cell research, and yet another sex scandal were in the news before 9/11. That's certainly small potatoes compared with the problems Obama faces (cleaning up Bush's mess).

But the fact still stands that in early 2001, outside of the pages of such not-exactly well read magazines like Mother Jones (though they should be taken more seriously, especially for their investigative reporting), and websites like Common Dreams and MoveOn, the media mindset of questioning Bush (like they are of Obama right now) didn't exist. Given the problems our country faces now, maybe it should have.

Regardless, I can't help but find it a mite offensive that Obama is subject to such criticism. "But what if he can't?" This, in effect, implies that Obama can possibly do a worse job then Bush; a man they didn't apply such questions to. I've got an easy answer to this question: We're fucked if he can't. Stop asking stupid questions. If you want better questions, here's a few to whet your inquisitive appetite: Why couldn't Bush do it?; What did Bush do wrong?; Why didn't the media question Bush enough? And how about Why are we treating Obama like a child when he's not representative of the people who fucked up, and by all accounts are still taken seriously as some sort of brainiacs?

I know the usual suspects will point to his lack of government experience, but Obama sure demonstrated a hell of a lot more aptitude to solve today's problems then McCain or Palin did -- and if the latter team were elected, I doubt magazines like Foreign Policy would run cover stories critical of them.

So cut the shit. Actual adults are in charge now, and it's about time some stopped acting like children.

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Fried Onions



What do we have for our contestants, Johnnie?

You just never know, do ya?

The words of the Profits are written on the subway walls.

"Hey Louis! That was quite the inauguration, huh? Did you catch all the action, or were you too busy masturbating to Reagan's old Chesterfield's commercials on YouTube?"

"Fuck you, Grill Rat, and your Liberal Media, Too."

"You don't mind if I join you, do ya? Have you seen this article? 'Unitary Executive President Obama Orders Warrantless Wiretapping of All Republicans'...Spying reveals phone sex between Arlen Specter, Joe the Plumber, Orrin Hatch, and the Maytag Repairman..."

"Check please!"

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

More On Johannes Mehserle

Accused Oscar Grant killer Johannes Mehserle hired high-powered defense attorney Michael Rains. Merserle pleaded not guilty to the murder of Grant.

Oakland resident Ken Carrethers is accusing former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle of using excessive force. Carrethers told East Bay News he complained to another subway passenger about BART police doing nothing about his car being twice broken into.

"Well you see that's why, because they're standing around with their hands in their pockets," Carrethers said to the other passenger.

Carrethers said Mehserle overheard the conversation.

"You're talking about us, aren't you?" Mehserle reportedly said.

Mehserle and Carrethers got into a verbal exchange. Carrethers denies using profanity. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Mehserle and three other officers took Carrethers down to the pavement. Carrethers was sent to the hospital.

There are no eyewitnesses to the arrest. Carrethers has served prison time.

Raw Story has video of an interview with Carrethers

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Obama & Roe v. Wade

President Barack Obama press release on the anniversary Roe v. Wade.

Statement of President Obama on the 36th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.

It is a well-worded press release. The one problem is the anti-choice movement is not interested in "common ground." Anti-choicers push abstinence-only programs that increase teen pregnancy. Gov. Sarah Palin supports abstinence-only education in schools. I need not bother explaining Palin's hypocrisy.

I wish President Obama the best of luck finding common ground.

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Global Gag Rule

Steve Waldman of incorrectly describes the Mexico City Gag Rule.

Pro-life Obama activists fully expect Obama to repeal the Mexico City "gag rule" -- which prevents American dollars from going to groups that offer abortion services or advice. But some of them are urging the Obama administration Obama to delay action on that until he can put it in the context of a broader "abortion reduction" agenda. In other words, don't make a big pro-choice move without also taking some abortion-reduction step.

Waldman fails to mention the policy does not allow foreign health clinics to talk about emergency contraception and abortions for life-threatening pregnancies. The Catholic Church has convinced the Nicaraguan government to not allow abortions. The policy has caused the death of women. The Gag Rule prevents doctors from telling at risk women about abortions.

Amie Newman correctly calls the Gag Rule censorship.

The Global Gag Rule is about imposing censorship (that is unconstitutional in this country) on U.S. family planning funded NGOs that provide critical health services in developing nations; services like the provision of contraceptive supplies, family planning counseling, HIV prevention tools, maternal health care and more.

The Gag Rule has curtailed free speech and created more unwanted prenancies. Hopefully, President Barack Obama intends to lift the Gag Rule. It is nice to have a President that places sound health care policy above religious fundamentalism.

Update: From Population Action:

The global gag rule does not prohibit foreign NGOs from providing EC as part of the family planning and reproductive health services they offer. Foreign NGOs may provide EC counseling, dispense EC to clients and promote awareness of this contraceptive method and still remain eligible for U.S. population assistance.

The Bush administration chose to withhold money from clinics that provided abortions. The original Reagan executive order forbid foreign clinics receiving U.S. funding to discuss abortion with patients.

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Most Bizarre Search Engine Hit Ever

I don't want to even know why someone came to my site lokking for "the porno video of woman in guillotine with rope in the mouth." Whoever you are, please don't come back.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Music Goodies: The Who

How Many Friends - The Who

Naked Eye - The Who

Two songs of Pete Townshend at his bleakest.

You hold the gun and I hold the wound,
And we stand looking in each other's eyes,
Both think we know what's right,
Both know we know what's wrong,
We tell ourselves so many many many lies,
We're not pawns in any game, we're not tools of bigger men,
There's only one who can really move us all,
It all looks fine to the naked eye,
But it don't really happen that way at all.

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Bill Nelson Will Vote For Geithner

Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite asked senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez to oppose Timothy Geither's nomination. Nelson intends to vote for Geither.

“It’s critical right now that we have a new Treasury Secretary in place. There’s a lot at stake with our economy and we can’t afford for that position to remain open,” said Nelson, in a statement from his office.

“Mr. Geithner has admitted an honest mistake on his taxes and the IRS agreed, choosing not to penalize him. Also, all taxes owed have been paid with interest,” said Nelson.

“I accept the IRS’s decision and President Obama’s judgment on Mr. Geithner’s explanation; and, think it’s important we move ahead with his nomination.”

Martinez has not declared how he will vote. Surprisingly, Martinez said he would support Eric Holder's nomination. The Marc Rich pardon made Holder Barack Obama's most controversial nominee. I don't expect Martinez to be swayed by Brown-Waite. This is a woman that threw her name out as a Senate candidate and generated zero buzz. Having a safe district doesn't make a politician a Beltway power player.

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Write A Caption: Do-over Oath

Let's try this again.

"Are you ready to take the oath?" Roberts asked.

"I am, and we're going to do it very slowly," obama replied.

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Your Miranda Rights, Bunk

This is a nearly word for word reenactment of the infamous Miranda Rights segment of David Simon's true crime novel "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets." In the book, it is Simon's stream-of conscious-prose explaining how homicide detectives finesse suspects into giving up their right to an attorney.

The television show Homicide: Life on the Street cleverly has detectives being filmed for a documentary. The actors use Simon's prose as dialogue. An unfilmable book passage becomes a acting showcase.

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Gitmo Executive Orders

President Barack Obama will issue three executive orders tomorrow. The oders deal with the closing of Guantanamo Bay.

∙ close the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay within a year and establish a process by which the U.S. government figures out what to do with the remaining detainees;

∙ establish new rules on interrogation methods moving forward;

∙ establish new guidelines for the treatment of detainees moving forward.

Obama is halting military tribunals for 120 days. A Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 53 percent of Americans favor closing Gitmo. Republicans overwhelming wish to keep to facility open.

The tribunals have been unsuccessful at convicting suspected terrorists. Charges were dropped against Mohammad al-Qahtani. The evidence was gained through torture and ruled inadmissible. (al-Qahtani was later recharged.) Muhammed Dawood was given nine months. Hundreds of detainees were released. The Bush administration was too incompetent to be tough on terrorism.

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George Mitchell To Be Named Middle East Envoy

This is Barack Obama's best pick yet. The President will name George Mitchell Middle East envoy. Mictchell has a stellar resume.

Antitrust lawyer - Justice Department
U.S. Attorney for Maine
Federal judge for District of Maine
U.S. Senate Majority Leader

Mitchell's foreign policy accomplishments are equally impressive.

Michell negotiated Belfast Agreement. The compromise allowed power sharing between the British, Catholic and Protestant Irish. The Presidential Medal of Freedom and Liberty Medal were awarded to Mitchell.

Other notable facts: Mitchell served as Disney's Chairman of the Board. Major League Baseball hired Mitchell to investigate the steroid scandal. The former Senator served in the Red Sox front office. Currently, Mitchell is the Chancellor of the Queen's University of Belfast.

No other Obama appointee has a resume to match Mitchell's. This is a fantastic appointment.

Update: Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, makes a politically foolish statement.

“Sen. Mitchell is fair. He’s been meticulously even-handed,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “But the fact is, American policy in the Middle East hasn’t been ‘even handed’ — it has been supportive of Israel when it felt Israel needed critical U.S. support.

“So I’m concerned,” Foxman continued. “I’m not sure the situation requires that kind of approach in the Middle East.”

Besides Foxman's lack of political tact: Foxman wants a peace broker that will allow Israel to crush the Palistanians. Mitchell was brought on because of his success delivering peace in Northern Ireland. Not help continue war in the occupied territories.

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Hillary Clinton Confirmed

Hillary Clinton has been confirmed as Sec. of State. Who could imagine so many Republicans voting for the former first lady? The final vote was 94-2.

Lindsay Graham: There's no better advocate than Hillary Clinton.

John McCain described Clinton as "obviously qualified."

For someone that lived through Bill Clinton's impeachment -- this is surreal. I'm happy that everybody is playing nice. I wonder how long it will last.

Update: Clinton submitted her Senate resignation to Vice-President Joe Biden.

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Ginny Brown-Waite Opposes Geithner

Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite urged Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez to vote against the confirmation of Timothy Geithner, as Treasury Secretary. Brown-Waite brings up Geithner's embarrassing $34,000 in back taxes owed.

"I have paid what I owed," Geither told the Senate Finance Committee.

I am less than impressed with Geithner. The questions about the back taxes are standard. I don't think Brown-Waite is a threat to Geithner's confirmation. Brown-Waite doesn't have a vote. Brown-Waite was against Bill Clinton's Hope, Arkansas home becoming a national landmark. The House vote passed 409-12. Brown-Waite called residents of Guam and Puerto Rico "foreign citizens." Brown-Waite is not taken seriously and with good reason.

Republican Pat Roberts publicly told Geithner he will be confirmed. I personally believe Obama would prefer former Treasury secretaries Robert Rubin or Lawrence Summers. Both have too much baggage for the confirmation process. We are left with a Rubin and Summers protégé. We are screwed, if Geithner isn't up to the task.

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Matumbo Goldberg

Anthony Anderson is the nephew of progressive blogger David Scott Anderson. Tas and I have both blogged at David's digs. The video is a parody of how adopting blacks has become chic for affluent white people.

The video was directed by Rob Pearlstein.

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Quote of the Day

"My memory is not as good as Justice Roberts."

Joe Biden

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Now presenting today's Unintentionally Ironic Tweet by Michelle Malkin

I've started following Michelle Malkin on Twitter, and I have noticed that she's a bit more honest in the microblogging format -- whether she means to be or not. Why not make a regular feature out of her sincerity? So today, I present the (in the parlance of our week) inaugural Unintentionally Ironic Tweet by Michelle Malkin:

07:20 1/21/09: "My eyes may be open, but I am not awake yet."

I couldn't have described you better myself, internment queen. Toodles!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Open Thread

Question: what does this day mean to you?

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Photo of the Day

A picture of the the Barack Obama inauguration from space.


New Whitehouse Blog

The Obama administration has put up the first official White House blog. Blogging is almost respectable now.

The blog is run by Macon Phillips, whose LinkedIn profile notes his experience in online political advocacy. Phillips's Twitter profile is only for personal friends. The Obama people don't want Macon to have an Ezra Klein moment. The Obama transition team screened applicants for potentially damaging emails and blog posts. Team Obama will be very careful about how they use the internet.

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Nelson Mandela Letter to Barack Obama

Former South Africa Preident Nelson Mandela congratulated Barack Obama.

"Dear Mister President:

We are greatly honored to join the millions around the globe congratulating you on taking office as the president of the United States of America. We believe that we are witnessing something truly historic not only in the political annals of your great nation, the United States of America, but of the world.

Your election to this high office has inspired people as few other events in recent times have done. Amidst all of the human progress made over the last century the world in which we live remains one of great divisions, conflict, inequality, poverty and injustice. Amongst many around the world a sense of hopelessness had set in as so many problems remain unresolved and seemingly incapable of being resolved. You, Mister President, have brought a new voice of hope that these problems can be addressed and that we can in fact change the world and make of it a better place.

We are in some ways reminded today of the excitement and enthusiasm in our own country at the time of our transition to democracy. People, not only in our country but around the world, were inspired to believe that through common human effort injustice can be overcome and that together a better life for all can be achieved.

Your presidency brings hope of new beginnings in the relations between nations, that the challenges we all face, be they economic, the environment, or in combating poverty or the search for peace, will be addressed with a new spirit of openness and accommodation. There is a special excitement on our continent today, Mister President, in the knowledge that you have such strong personal ties with Africa. We share in that excitement and pride.

We are aware that the expectations of what your Presidency will achieve are high and that the demands on you will be great. We therefore once more wish you and your family strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead.

You will always be in our affection as a young man who dared to dream and to pursue that dream. We wish you well."


Signed N R Mandela

Update: Other world leaders heap praise on Obama.

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Shorter Fox News: Obama Didn't Take the Oath

Chief Justice John Roberts had the horrible idea of reciting the oath from memory. Roberts screwed up badly. Fox News' Chris Wallace is running the meme that Obama may not be president. Matt Drudge is running with this nonsense. The worst that will happen is Obama would have to retake the oath. That is unlikely to happen.

Side note: do conservatives really want to endure Joe Biden's State of the Union address. Think about it?

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The Wolves Are Out to Get Kevin Beckner

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner asked the commission to study if same-sex benefits would be more cost efficient. In 2004, The commission voted 4 to 3 against same-sex benefits for county employees.

"I see this as (leading) to gay marriage next," said Commissioner Jim Norman. "This is not going to be San Francisco east. That's the way I see it."

The 2004 vote against same-sex benefits was led by Ronda Storms. Commissioner Pat Frank (D) accused Storms was using the issue to her Frank with conservative voters. This past November, Hillsborough County resident David Caton is collecting signatures to put a state ban on same-sex benefits. Caton is targeting Beckner in his crusade.

In addition to passage of Amendment 2, Caton said he probably would not be pursuing the matter at this time if not for the election of openly gay County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who won office Nov. 4. He cited strong turnout at Beckner's swearing-in Tuesday as evidence that his supporters will press him to pursue a gay-rights agenda.

"I think the heavy turnout for his swearing-in was more than just friendship; it was a politically motivated event," Caton said.

Caton would be persuing the matter, regardless of Beckner. Caton attacked Tampa's nude strip clubs. Caton attempted to prevent a local airing of Saving Private Ryan. Caton's reasoning was military men, in time of war, do not use profanity.

I never heard my dad use the “f” word. I neverheard his World War II buddies use the “f” word. Therefore, Spielberg’s prolific use of the “f”word in Saving Private Ryan does notaccurately represent the service of many menwho I personally know.

Caton lost a lawsuit from bogus claims against Clear Channel.

One of the sponsors, a man who owned a Ford dealership, and Clear Channel sued Caton in February 2001. They won in a heartbeat. An Orange County judge issued a temporary injunction against him.

The judge declared that Caton's First Amendment rights were outweighed by those of the businessman and Clear Channel. He ruled that Caton's claims about pornography were false and defamatory; that the fliers put the lives and property of Caton's targets in danger; and that Clear Channel's business relationships were also damaged. He called Caton's actions extortion.

The judge could not have issued a more sweeping ruling. Caton's lawyers told him it meant he couldn't lobby any of Clear Channel's sponsors anyhow, anywhere, about anything. Caton appealed. He lost.

Brian Blair and Terry Kemple have joined the attack against Beckner.

Blair email.

From: Brian Blair
Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2009

Subject: Fw: New County Commissioner tries “stealth attack”! Please read and act - THIS IS VITALLY IMPORTANT!

Do you think with $250,000 in campaign donations we should have mentioned he [Beckner} was an Activist on several G.L.B.T. Boards and that a large percentage of his campaign donations came from out of State? I want to personally appoligize to all that suported me! May God Sincerely Bless you in 2009!


Is Blair shocked the openly gay Beckner would support same-sex benefits? Blair's comment that Michael Jackson was a white man is more surprising.

Kemple email.

Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009
Subject: New County Commissioner tries “stealth attack”! Please read and act - THIS IS VITALLY IMPORTANT!

Community Issues Council - Your help is urgently needed again!

This urgent message is short - please read it and act on it!


Almost before sitting in his new furniture Commissioner Beckner is trying to undermine the conservative values that prevail in Hillsborough County. In an apparent attempt to sneak in a radical change to employee policy in the county he placed an item on the agenda for next week’s agenda at 4:00 on Friday (this afternoon). One could easily surmise that he did this, with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and the Presidential inauguration coming up on Monday and Tuesday, in the hopes that there would be no chance to mobilize any opposition.

That’s exactly the reason that it’s so important to have teams like Community Issues Council prepared to jump into the fray at a moment’s notice!

Mr. Beckner wants us to foot the bill for health care for “domestic partners” of county employees. Since Equality Florida endorsed him as an “out” homosexual and since he brags about having been with his “partner” for 9 years, one might be led to assume that he wants us to pay for health benefits for this other man!

This is absurd on 2 key points (these points can be used for your emails to the Commissioners):

1. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of the people in Hillsborough County just voted to keep marraige, and the benefits associated with marriage, between one man and one woman. This seems to me to be nothing more than a back door attempt to establish those benefits through his office as County Commissioner.

2. It’s bad judgment, at a time of budgetary crisis like this, to even suggest that money be spent investigating this issue. It becomes absolutely ludicrous when you take into account the possible presupposed result. If the recommendation comes back yes it means the proposal would be made that tax money be used to pay for health benefits for unmarried partners - whether they be heterosexual or homosexual.


Please contact all 3 county wide commissioners - Norman, Beckner , and Sharpe - and your commissioner from your district and let them know that you don’t want this to go any further.

Contact information

District 1 Rose Ferlita 272-5470
District 2 Ken Hagan 272-5452
District 3 Kevin White 272-5720
District 4 Al Higginbotham 272-5740
District 5 Jim Norman 272-5725
District 6 Kevin Beckner 272-5730
District 7 Mark Sharpe 272-5735


Together we can make a difference!

God bless you!

Blair lost badly to Beckner and Kemple once held an anti-gay marriage press conference attended by no one. Kemple filed an appeal that helped a Valrico Bikini Bar open. The problem was Kemple was trying to shut the establishment down forever.

Bikini bar lawyer Luke Lirot: “Had Mr. Kemple not filed his appeal, the true flaws would have been more difficult to prove. In essence he assisted us.”

Caton, Blair and Kemple are not smart people. What they have going for them is they refuse to shut up and fearmongering. Beckner is going to have to work hard to keep these wolves at bay.

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Quote of the Day: Revisionist History Edition

"In truth, the federal response to Katrina was both the largest and the fastest response to any natural disaster in world history. Yet Bush was never willing to stand up to his critics and make the case in his own defense."

John Hinderaker, Power Line blogger engaging in revisionist history.

Bonus Hinderaker quote:

"President Bush directed a brilliantly successful invasion of Afghanistan and overthrow of the bitterly hostile Taliban regime. The effect was to deprive al Qaeda of its undisturbed training grounds and drive that organization into hiding in caves, to the great benefit of our national security."

The Taliban has free reign outside of Kabul. So much for Bush chasing the Taliban out of Afghanistan.

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Top 20 Job Prospects for George W. Bush: #3, 2, 1...




#20 and #19, #18, #17 , #16 , #15, #14, #13,#12, #11, #10, #9, #8 ,#7, #6, #5, #4

#3 Start a Courtney Love Tribute Band with Mike Huckabee, and call it "Ass Hole"

#2 Judge and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association

#1 Dabble in the lucrative Post Modern Irony Market by narrating a series of audio books. "That's right," Colonel Cathcart cried emphatically. "You're either for us or against us. There's no two ways about it."
"I'm afraid he's got you," added Colonel Korn.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Dr. King's Dream is Rising

photo via Doug Mills, NYT

Come on up for the rising,
Come on up, lay your hands in mine;
Come on up for the rising,
Come on up for the rising tonight!

If you're like me, your eyes are still a bit swollen this morning after weeping with joy during the Obama Inaugural event at the Lincoln Memorial. I also watched the replay on HBO last night, exchanging emails with Lisa Simeone, who'd live-reported the event on NPR radio earlier and was now watching it at home, this time setting aside her no-tears-on-the-air professionalism and reveling in the pleasure of it, just like the rest of us. As one stunning performance followed another, I noted that this was so intense an emotion for me, I could barely find words to describe it. "My heart is exploding and bits of stardust are all over the floor," I wrote.

In one sense, I am deeply envious of my friend T, whose children go to school with mine and whose sister is a brilliant actor and very special liberal activist; accordingly, he and his lucky, lucky family are part of the exciting festivities going on in Washington right now; more saliently, they're in the middle of history as it unfolds. (Say hello to Michelle for me, T!)

In another sense, though, as I bask in our relatively tropical Florida warmth (eek, sorry, snowbound readers), I am not at all jealous of those oceans of excited, bundled-up people who were surely chilled to the bone, from the crowds who stood on the ground to the celebrities who sang onstage. I could tell that the performers, in particular, were really feeling the cold, even with layers of gorgeous scarves and coats swaddling them: if you looked at their lips, you could see that some of them were struggling mightily to keep their mouths flexible in that freezing air so they could form the words. (When I was in high school, my singing group traveled to Europe and performed outdoors in Germany; all I can say is, singing in the falling snow is beyond challenging, not to mention terrible for one's vocal cords.)

Poor Bruce Springsteen displayed, at times, the body language of someone who was looking forward to curling up in front of a warm fire after the concert. And speaking of fire, wasn't that a soul-stirring, body-invigorating rendition of The Rising? Springsteen originally wrote this to honor all the firefighters, many of whom died, for their indescribable bravery at the World Trade Center disaster on that dark and heartbreaking day. With an animated, red-robed gospel choir joining in, its 2009 incarnation was, quite literally, a moving and joyful call to service.

And I was touched and amused by the innocent excitement of Malia Obama, who repeatedly pulled out her little digital camera and snapped photos of all those famous people singing and dancing--and remembering history--just a few feet away. Um, Malia, you're the First Firstborn, darling; those celebrities are all going to want photos of you.

Despite my physical distance from it, I felt tightly bound to the history, pride, and ever-renewed American spirit underpinning the stage at the Lincoln Memorial, and I was electrified and inspired by the unprecedented length and breadth and depth of the creative talent assembled thereupon.

So, what was your favorite part?

Also at litbrit.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Trickle Down Economics Not In Action

Another example that trickle down economics is a myth.

At the Palm Beach Ritz-Carlton last November, John C. Hope III, the chairman of Whitney National Bank in New Orleans, stood before a ballroom full of Wall Street analysts and explained how his bank intended to use its $300 million in federal bailout money.

Talking Business: In Search of One Bold Stroke to Save the Banks (January 17, 2009) “Make more loans?” Mr. Hope said. “We’re not going to change our business model or our credit policies to accommodate the needs of the public sector as they see it to have us make more loans.”

Banks are not required to explain how the bailout money is being used. Lindsay Beyerstein wrote, "It's absolutely ridiculous that banks aren't required to make more loans as a condition of accepting bailout money." Congress should have written tighter requirements in the bailout bill.

The bailout was needed. Lending institutions going under would have been the economic apocalypse. Let us not kid ourselve that bankers would want to suddenly spread the wealth. That is nonsense.

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