Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

"LMRM: The nation loses the only goat fucking child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court in David Souter's retirement."

Erick Erickson, on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

This is the same Erickson that was ready to go into a gun-toting rage. What earned Erickson's rage was a ban on sales of dish washing detergent with heavy contents of phosphate in Spokane County, Washington. Erickson would rather a dangerous product be on the market than have a government recall.

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Steve Wise's Idea of Reform

Former Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections created controversy for using tax dollars to place his name and image on material. Michelle Patty was a former critic of Johnson. The Supervisor used tax dollars to pay Patty more than $16,000. Patty went around the Tampa black community handing out "Vote for Buddy" yard signs. All these actions were seen as an election official using tax dollars to get re-elected.

Sen. Charlie Justice sponsored SB 216. The bill would help put an end to such practices.

Campaign Financing/Local Government Expenditures [GPSC]; Defines the terms "local government" and "public funds." Prohibits a local government from expending, and a person or group from accepting, public funds for a political advertisement or electioneering communication concerning an issue, referendum, or amendment that is subject to the vote of the electors. Provides an exception for certain electioneering communications. Clarifies restrictions with respect to local officials.

Republican Sen. Steve Wise attempted to sneak in an amendment to restart the defunct Leadership fund. This would allow party leaders in the House and Senate increase their power by holding money over the caucus. Wise choose his words poorly. Leadership funds were banned. Wise striked "Leadership" from the record. The new term was Caucus accountability fund.

Caucus accountability Leadership fund.—

(1) For purposes of this section:
(a) “Caucus accountability Leadership fund” means accounts comprised of any moneys contributed to a political party, directly or indirectly, which are designated to be used at the partial or total discretion of a leader.
(b) “Leader” means the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the majority leader and the minority leader of each house, and any person designated by a political caucus of members of either house to succeed to any such position.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, caucus accountability leadership funds are authorized prohibited in this state. No leader shall accept any leadership funds.

(3) This section applies to leadership funds in existence on or after January 1, 1990.

Justice was able to defeat Wise's amendment. It's hysterical Wise would put this into a reform bill. The current legislature is doing some wacky stuff in the closing days.

Correction: the leadership funds would not come from tax dollars. The money would be from contributions. I used Buddy Johnson as an example. I have heard that Johnson was the inspiration for Justice's bill. The leadership funds would work like PAC money. The Majority and Minority leaders in the Senate and House would decide who receives these funds. This was seen as Wise attempting to increase his influence for when he became the Republican Senate leader.

The Justice bill would forbid tax dollars to be used to benefit a local candidate or voter amendment. The Wise amendment attempted to allow House and Senate leaders to set up leadership funds. These funds would be considered political contributions.

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DSCC Charlie Crist Ad

Charlie Crist hasn't officially announced his intention to run for Mel Martinez's seat. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is assuming Crist is running. The DSCC has launched an attack ad.

"Florida faces tough times and the budget mess could mean cuts in police, schools and health care, but instead of working to fix it, Charlie Crist wants to quit to go to Washington," an announcer says in the ad. "Crist enjoys being governor when he attends basketball games and Super Bowl activities, and when he takes over 60 days off with no schedule, but now the job's getting tough, and Crist wants out, leaving Floridians with the mess."

My take is Crist will run for the Senate and President in 2016. 2010 is not a good time to be Florida's governor.

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The Yglesias Torture Question

Matthew Yglesias asks if conservatives understand torture. Judging by comments from my blog they haven't bothered to read the memos. I wrote the post "Why We Should Care About Torture." A commenter named James argued deprivation is not torture. A memo by Steven Bradbury of the Office of Legal Council argued sleep deprivation would not inflict pain. Bradbury cited Prof. James Horne's book "Why We Sleep: The Functions of Sleep in Humans and Other Mammals." The memo admits the paticipants of Horne's sleep experiments were "free to move about and engage in normal activities." Horne's experiments were being used as a defensive cover for torture. The memos admits "important differences" between Horne's study and CIA interrogations.

We understand from OMS, and from our review of the literature on the physiology of sleep, that even very extended sleep deprivation does not cause physical pain, let alone severe. physical pain." "The longest studies of sleep deprivation in humans, .. [involved) volunteers [who were deprived of sleep for g to 11 days" .. Surprisingly, tittle seemed to go wrong with the subjects physically. The main effects lay with sleepiness and impaired brain functioning, but even these were no great cause for concern." James Horne, "Why We Sleep: The Functions of Sleep in Humans and Other Mammals" 23-24 (1988) ("Why We Sleep") (footnote omitted).. We note that there are important differences between steep deprivation as an interrogation technique used by the CIA and the controlled experiments documented in the literature. The subjects of the experiments were free to move about and engage in normal activities and often led a "tranquil existence" with "plenty of time for relaxation," See iii. at 24,

Blogger Hizroy contacted Horne. The Professor remarks extended sleep deprivation during interrogation "possible trauma, even blood loss." Horne expresses doubt that sleep deprivation could produce useful information from detainees.

With additional stresses as in ‘coercive techniques’, the situation for the sleep deprived victim becomes deplorable, as the mind and brain under these circumstances trigger the body’s defences to create a physiological ‘alarm reaction’ whereby, for example, various stress coping hormones are mobilised and prepare the body for possible trauma, even blood loss. I emphasise that this alarm reaction is not present under ‘pure sleep loss’ as I have just described. Prolonged stress with sleep deprivation will lead to a physiological exhaustion of the body’s defence mechanisms, physical collapse, and with the potential for various ensuing illnesses. We don’t know at what point this latter phase would be reached with ‘coercive techniques’, but to claim that 180 hours is safe in these respects, is nonsense. Moreover, whereas physical pain may not be particularly apparent even at this stage, the mental pain would be all too evident, and arguably worse than physical pain.

Even if one was to be pragmatic and claim that this form of sleep deprivation produced ‘desired results’, I would doubt whether the state of mind would be able to produce credible information, unaffected by delusion, fantasy or suggestibility.

Conservatives are willfully ignorant about the true implications of torture. Conservatives spents years denying the United States tortures. Now they say torture produces good intelligences. Even Dick Cheney is having problems citing instances where torture produced valuable intelligence. The only argument conservatives have left is an "eye-for-an-eye" justice.

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Other Bloggers On Faith In Teaching

Lindsay Beyerstein and Matthew Lawrence have questions about the nonprofit Faith In Teaching. Florida Sen. Ronda Storms sponsored an amendment to create the I Believe licence plate. A sample plate would feature an image of Jesus. Lindsay and I have researched FIT have questions if it is a legitimate nonprofit.


Money from the other plate would go to Faith In Teaching, which purports to support faith-based education but which actually may not even be real, since their website is down and their official mailing address is the office of a workers’ comp lawyer.

Lindsay has concerns about the lack of oversight on how organization's, such as FIT, are awarded plates.

I'm less concerned about the religious imagery than I am about the fact that the state is creating revenue streams with minimal oversight for obscure non-profits. It's not inherently evil, but it's troubling. Basically, what seems to have happened in this case is that a clique of politically well-connected Republicans managed to get their state senator to introduce legislation adding their ad hoc non-profit to the program. The group, FIT, seems to exist only as a clearinghouse for the money. FIT says it will divide the money among faith-based groups, but it hasn't offered any details on which ones, or what kind of programs.

There's nothing inherently illegal or immoral about creating a non-profit to take advantage of the program as long as the money actually goes to legitimate charities. Still it is a golden opportunity for political patronage and a back door way of subsidizing religious activities. In this case the state is acting as a pass-through and the non-profit covers the costs of developing and marketing the plates, so public money isn't going to religious education--but they are getting a valuable assist. What qualifies these people to divvy up the money to other charities?

Carla A. Mallen and Catherine L. Wellen are the president and vice-president of FIT. Their husbands are David Mallen and Robert Wellen. All have given campaign contributions to Vern Buchanan. David Mallen has worked as a lobbyist.

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Obama Feels State Secrets Doctrine is 'Over-Broad'

President Barack Obama was asked about his administration's use of the state secrets doctrine. Obama said the "doctrine should be modified."

OBAMA: I actually think that the state secret doctrine should be modified. I think right now it's over-broad. But keep in mind what happens is, we come into office, we're in for a week -- and suddenly we've got a court filing that's coming up. And so we don't have the time to effectively think through what, exactly, should a overarching reform of that doctrine take. We've got to respond to the immediate case in front of us.

I think it is appropriate to say that there are going to be cases in which national security interests are genuinely at stake, and that you can't litigate without revealing covert activities or classified information that would genuinely compromise our safety. But searching for ways to redact, to carve out certain cases, to see what can be done so that a judge in chambers can review information without it being in open court -- you know, there should be some additional tools so that it's not such a blunt instrument.

There are valid arguments to use state secrets privilege to protect national security. The doctrine has been used to shield the federal government from embarrassment. Sibel Edmonds worked for the F.B.I. as an interpreter. Edmonds translated intercepted communications. Edmonds is not allowed to speak about why she was fired. John Ashcroft retroactively declared information about Edmonds state secrets.

Part of what is not classified is Edmonds allegations about F.B.I. mismanagement of post-9-11 intellgence.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11 we, the translators at the FBI's largest and most important translation unit, were told to slow down, even stop, translation of critical information related to terrorist activities so that the FBI could present the United States Congress with a record of 'extensive backlog of untranslated documents', and justify its request for budget and staff increases. While FBI agents from various field offices were desperately seeking leads and suspects, and completely depending on FBI HQ and its language units to provide them with needed translated information, hundreds of translators were being told by their administrative supervisors not to translate and to let the work pile up (please refer to the CBS-60 Minutes transcript dated October 2002, and provided to your investigators in January-February 2004). This issue has been confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee (Please refer to Senator Grassley and Senator Leahy's letters during the summer of 2002, provided to your investigators in January-February 2004). This confirmed report has been reported to be substantiated by the Department of Justice Inspector General Report (Please refer to DOJ-IG report Re: Sibel Edmonds and FBI Translation, provided to you prior to the completion of your report). I provided your investigators with a detailed and specific account of this issue and the names of other witnesses willing to corroborate this. (Please refer to tape-recorded 3.5 hours testimony by Sibel Edmonds, provided to your investigators on February 11, 2004).

Today, almost three years after 9/11, and more than two years since this information has been confirmed and made available to our government, the administrators in charge of language departments of the FBI remain in their positions and in charge of the information front lines of the FBI's Counter terrorism and Counterintelligence efforts. Your report has omitted any reference to this most serious issue, has foregone any accountability what so ever, and your recommendations have refrained from addressing this issue, which when left un-addressed will have even more serious consequences. This issue is systemic and departmental. Why did your report choose to exclude this information and this serious issue despite the evidence and briefings you received? How can budget increases address and resolve this misconduct by mid-level bureaucratic management? How can the addition of a new bureaucratic layer, "Intelligence Czar", in its cocoon removed from the action lines, address and resolve this problem?

Edmonds spoke behind closed doors to the 9-11 Commission. Her testimony is classified under state secrets privilege.

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Thoughts on Last Night's Lost Episode

I think the Losties and freighter people were suppose to go back in time and make bad things happen. Ben getting shot and becoming an Other is an example. My take is Locke is going to bring the people from the past to 2007. (If it is 2007.) The new people with the guns in 2007 will play a big rolein the final season.

Question: what happened to the Others in 2007?

I heard the Lost theory if you’re shot in the side (Desmond, Locke and Sayid) you live. A shot in the chest is death. Faraday is a goner. He could come back as a ghost or in a flashback.

So: is Obama really Jacob?????

Tim Geithner all the way. His secret plan to back AIG bonuses is the clue.

Eloise provided a character with Mommy issues. I didn’t want to see another character (Jack and Locke) with Daddy issue.

An interesting question I heard is who is the hero of Lost? It isn’t Jack. Sayid has done too many evil things to be the hero. Locke fits the Joseph Campbell hero myth. Sawyer fits the reluctant hero mode. The writers aren’t doing anything with Kate are Juliet this season. There are theories that Ben may turn out to be the hero.

I think Jack was suppose to be the hero. The character has the same problem as Ana Lucia. Too annoying and unlikable. Jack will be around to the end because of the Christian Shepard connection. The producers said the last episode will have a shocker about Jack. That plays into theories about Jack being Jacob. Although, I don’t see how.

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Obama Mocks Tea Baggers

President Barack Obama notes Fox News and teabaggers would rather have badly marketed protests than serious discussions on policy.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Radiohead - Subterranean Homesick Alien

Sine.Qua.Non is playing DJ over at Check out her playlist.

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Why We Should Care About Torture

"Why does the media care So much about torture?"

Jim Johnson, of State of Sunshine.

We should all care about torture. It is an act of violence that is morally unacceptable. The Geneva Conventions make clear torture is illegal.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

The U.S. Constitution grants Habeas corpus. The U.S. Supreme Court decision Boumediene et al v. Bush allowed detainees to file Habeas corpus petitions. The Eighth Amendment forbids the use of "cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Torture fits the definition of unconstitutional treatment of prisoners. Boumediene does not give detainees the same rights as American citizens. Conservatives argue it is okay to waterboard detainees because they are foreigners. Xenophobia trumps conducting interrogations that would produce quality intelligence.

The question that should be asked is why conservatives care so little about torture. The evidence is torture interrogations did not produce the intelligence the Bush administration claimed. Conservatives rightfully bash repressive regimes for torturing political prisoners. Why is torture good if the United States does it? Repressive if done by China.

Conservatives use the argument of jihadists beheading prisoners as evidence the Bush administration tactics are justified. Conservatives made the simplistic argument two wrongs make a right. Are we suppose to start beheading detainees because terrorists do? The question is asinine. As is waterboarding Khalid Sheik Mohammed 183 times and expecting new information.

The United States has sent Maher Arar sent to Syria to be tortured. He was released because the CIA mistaked him for someone else. Arar was held and tortured in Syria for ten months. Not only do we torture like repressive regimes - we outsource work to these countries

I hope that answers Jim Johnson's question.

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Quote of the Day

"I guess it was based more on a sense that he was getting around the state of Pennsylvania. Maybe it's more about Pennsylvania and where the party there is than Washington. I don't know....He's got to do what's in his heart. I'm sure it was a difficult decision for him to make. He's been in the party for an awful long time."

Charlie Crist

Crist's statement is sure to make many Florida conservatives angry.

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Offshore Drilling Dead

The Florida Congressional delegation sent Gov. Charlie Crist a letter. The delegation urged Crist not to support allowing drilling three miles from the Florida coast.

Dear Governor Crist:

We write to commend you on your announcement voicing opposition to combining renewable energy legislation with a bill to open Florida's state waters to near-shore oil drilling. As you know, clean renewable energy is Florida's future, not oil rigs three-to-ten-miles offshore along our coast.

For decades, Florida's elected officials from both parties have stood together to protect our state's economy and environment from irresponsible drilling. Yet with just a few days left in the Florida Legislature's annual session, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow oil and gas companies to apply for drilling leases as close as three miles to Florida's shore. Thankfully, this measure was blocked in the Senate.

The bill is HB 1219. Rep. Charlie Van Zant made a series of bizarre remarks in support of offshore drilling. Crist and Senate President Jeff Atwater told the media there wasn't enough time to consider the House bill.

"I'm not receptive to it," Atwater said. "That is a really, significantly important issue. It'd be very difficult to imagine that's part of an end game for this session."

Crist Monday also told the Herald he was troubled by the "lateness of the hour" as well as by the "closeness to shore" of the bill's provisions, which would allow drilling between 3 and 10 miles off Florida's Gulf of Mexico coastline.

Expect another push for offshore drilling next year.

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Arlen Specter Press Conference

President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden welcome Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democratic caucus.

Update: Sen. Barbara Mikulski is not happy Harry Reid will let Specter retain his senioity. Obama and Biden will support Specter in the Democratic primary.

"I won't be happy if I don't get to chair something because of Arlen Specter," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who sits on the Appropriations Committee with Specter and is fifth in seniority among Democrats behind Chairman Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Tom Harkin (Iowa). "I'm happy with the Democratic order but I don't want to be displaced because of Arlen Specter," she said.

One senior Democratic lawmaker told The Hill that the Democratic Conference will vote against giving the longtime Pennsylvania Republican seniority over lawmakers like Harkin, Mikulski and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) when they hold their organizational meeting after the 2010 election.

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Obama's First 100 Days: Facebook Edition

Slate does a clever parody of what the first 100 days of the Barack Obama administration would like like told through Facebook status updates.

Barack Obama posted a note to the group America.
We are not quitters.
Nancy Pelosi likes this.

Bobby Jindal
Why hello! Didn't see ya there. So what's the deal with volcano spending?? Say, wanna ride in my ice cream truck?

27,198, 235 people left the group Jindal 2012.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Faith In Teaching is A Paper Nonprofit

What a future Florida licence plate may look like.

Post by Lindsay Beyerstein and Michael Hussey

Faith in Teaching (FIT) is a nonprofit paper company. The FIT web site is down. The web site can still be seen on Google cache. The frontpage had a message urging readers to support the I Believe licence plate.

When faith based schools close, good jobs are lost, teachers leave the state, and more tax dollars are required for public schools to absorb the children. The Miami Herald reported that for Catholic schools alone almost 1,300 schools have closed, and almost 400,000 children displaced due to decreased funding. When all Christian and Hebrew schools are included the numbers are even more staggering. The I Believe plate provides immediate impact to keeps jobs, teachers and lower school and property taxes in Florida. Our funding is 100% private donations, at no cost to taxpayers. Funds are distributed only within the state of Florida.

The amendment for the I Believe plates past 22 to 13 in the Florida Senate. There is no longer a need for the FIT web site. Beyond putting up $60,000 and doing some preliminary research to prove demand, it doesn't appear that FIT has to do any work for this money, in terms of manufacturing or distributing a product.

No current address can be found for FIT on Google Maps. The nonprofit was known to exist at 120 EAST ROBINSON STREET, ORLANDO FL. The defunct nonprofit Christian Offering Plate was at the same address. The nonprofits officers were David Mallen and Robert Wellen. Their wives Carla A. Mallen and Catherine L. Wellen are the president and vice-president of Faith in Teaching.

None of FIT players are education professionals. The Wellens work for TaxChex.

Robert J. Wellen, Jr. C.P.A.- An Accounting firm that provides personal and corporate tax preparations, as well as, Set-Up Corporations and Limited Liability Companies. The Wellen office is located on the corner of Parsons and Martin Luther King Blvd in Brandon. Quarterly Tax filings are now available.The Wellen Family are members of the Nativity Catholic Parish in Brandon. The telephone number for Robert J. Wellen, Jr.

David Mallen lost a race for the for the 9 Circuit Court judgeship in 2006. He works as a lawyer and a lobbyist. Carla Mallen is a homemaker.

The Mallens live in Orlando. The Wellens reside in Seffner. The Mallens have contribution $5,000 to Vern Buchanan in the last two election cycles. The Wellens have contributed $9,200 to Buchanan.

The Mallens and Wellens got Ronda Storms to sponsor the I Believe plate. Passage failed in 2008. Storms pushed too hard and alienated fellow Republicans.

The Mallens and Wellens were able to raise the $60,000 application fee. The money is to study if enough people would buy the $25.00 plates. FIT did not submit a professional survey last year. That didn't stop Storms from backing the I Believe plate. FIT would collect money from the sold plates and distribute tax dollars without oversight. The Wellens and Mallens are not education professionals and do not run an actual Christian education company. FIT exists only on paper. The amendment for the licence plate was put in late in the session because FIT could not withstand scrutiny.

Side note: this post could not have been written without the help of Lindsay Beyerstein.

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Religious Licence Plates Update

The Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent out a press release warning the Florida government that SB 0642 could spark a lawsuit. Americans United have a problem with the religious licence plates sponsored by Senators Gary Siplin and Ronda Storms.

SB 642 mandates issuance of a plate depicting the crucified head of Jesus complete with a crown of thorns. It also mandates a second plate featuring a large cross, a stained-glass church window and the words "I Believe."

"These plates clearly violate the Constitution and basic fairness," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "It's wrong for the legislature to favor one faith over others. If this bill passes, it is almost certain to provoke a lawsuit.

"I am frankly shocked that any legislator would think these plates are constitutionally acceptable," Lynn continued. "It is deeply offensive when officials play political games with the sacred symbols of any faith."

Gov. Charlie Crist told reporters he supports the Storms and Siplin licence plates. "If they don’t want one they don’t have to buy one," Crist said, in response to questions about separation of church and state. The Christian Broadcasting Network ran a story about Crist's support on their web site. The bill amendments passed 22 to 13. The Senate never even had an idea what Siplin's and Storms' licence plates would look like. The devil isn't in the details.

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Conservative Reaction to Specter

The Corner have longtime bashed Arlen Specter. Michael Rubin was angered by Specter's advocacy of diplomacy with Iran.

If ever the Republicans had a Jimmy Carter, Arlen Specter is it.

Kathryn Jean Lopez did muchraking reporting by using her anonymous wealthy friend as a source. K-Lo's thesis was Specter's vote for the stimulus package would help Pat Toomey's campaign contributions. The Corner repeatedly hammered Specter's postion on abortion. The Corner has repeatedly stressed for Specter's exit and less government. With Specter, Democrats have 60 seats once Al Franken is seated. The Corner is not happy about Republicans having less government.

I read that he was switching parties, but I was disappointed to learn he's still a Democrat.

The DINO remark is funny. Did the Cornerites expect Specter to join Bernie Sander's Vermont Progressive Party? Seriously.

In related news: RNC chairman Michael Steele told CNN he did not know Specter was going to defect.

Steele: Cornyn went out on the line for this man. For the senator to flip the bird back to Senator Cornyn and the Republican Senate Leadership, a team that stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004, to save his hide is not only disrespectful but down right rude. I'm sure his mama didn't raise him this way.

Q: Did he give you a heads up on this?

Steele: No, not at all. Which is another form of this respect that I don't count. At least give me a call or give the party leadership a call and let us know this is what I'm thinking. This is where I'm going so you can be prepared. I'm not one to be caught flat-footed about these things.

Oh really! Steele explains to CNN that he didn't know Specter's plans and then declares he doesn't get flat-footed. Steele is a comedy quote machine.

Steele declares, "Get ready to go to the mat, baby, because we're coming after you and taking you out." Will Steele be RNC chair in 2010?

Michelle Malkin goes nuclear. Specter is finally leaving the GOP and she is pissed? Malkin hates Specter. Yet Malkin is pissed. This is a seriously conflicted conservative blogger?

I am not a Specter fan. I agree that Specter's motivation is political survival. Republicans have bashed Specter for years and and are shocked he joined the opposition. Democrats went through this with Joe Lieberman. The base backed Ned Lamont and ended up stuck with Lieberman in the caucas. Republicans don't have a backup plan. Specter isn't likely to rejoin the GOP. Obama will campaign and raise money for Specter in the general election. Conservative principles don't mean much if you can't govern.

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Quote of the Day

"Why is it worse to go after someone who's gay than going after someone who's a prostitute?"

Rep. Virginia Foxx

Why is it politicians spend more time making slippery slope arguments than preventing people from being assaulted?

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Monday, April 27, 2009

More on the Religious Licence Plates

What a future Florida licence plate may look like.

The amendments for religious themed licence plates were added into SB 0642 by Ronda Storms and Gary Siplin. Two State Senators known more for controversy and ethics investigations than good legislation. Their sinful ways doesn't stop them from loving Jesus enough to violate the First amendment.

Storms wants a $25.00 licence plate saying "I believe" to benefit Faith in Teaching. The nonprofit supposely funds education. Sen. Dan Gelber wanted to know if the company actually exist or is it just a dummy company created to issue the plate. Gelber has reason to be skeptical. The web site is down. (The site is available on Google cache.)

I found Faith In Teaching on Google Maps. It is across the street from a bail bond service. Google Maps street level view reveals the building is named Faith Christian University. The property is for sale. It is very strange for a company that allegedly gives money to other faith-based programs would have their headquarters in a high crime neighborhood and is trying to sell their property. This reeks of a Christian Right front company.

Siplin making the religious images in his plate more overt.

Siplin said the thought now is to make the plate say "Trinity" with maybe a "cross, and some nails and a dove, do the trinity."

Siplin didn't even have an idea what his plate would look like when he first proposed his amendment.

The ACLU and Anti-Defamation League will likely take this to court. If Crist signs the current bill into law.

Update: Faith Christian University is an online bible study school. The main campus is at 6000 E Colonial Dr, Orlando. It looks like a church next to a shopping plaza. An overheard shot reveals a baseball field on the property. The FCU web site says they are in a process of moving onto the campus.

Correction: Faith Christian University is not involved with the I Believe licence plate. I apologize for the mistake and bringing FCU into this mess.

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Quote of the Day

I will oppose the confirmation of Kathleen Sebelius for HHS Secy. Her ability to do the job will be adversely affected by her extreme views."

Mel Martinez

Martinez and other Republicans are attempting to kill Sebelius' nomination because of her veto of a Kansas late-term abortions bill. The bill would have only allowed a late term abortion if the woman's life was in danger.

RNC chairman Michael Steele has called for President Barack Obama to withdraw Sebelius' nomination. I am not the least bit worried about Steele mounting a serious offensive against Sebelius.

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Personal Jesus

Gov. Charlie tells reporters he will sign two bills that allow Christian themes on Florida licence plates.

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Will Crist Veto Offshore Drilling Bill?

Gov. Charlie Crist gave his usual dodging of whether he would sign or veto HB 1219.

Q: Concerned about the environment?

Crist: “That is my concern.... I’m sympathetic to the notion that we might be more independent in terms of weaning off our dependence on foreign oil, and having the opportunity to have more diver energy resources. But the lateness of the hour within it was brought up with in the session and the closeness, the proximity to Florida’s shores concern me greatly.”

Florida Energy Associates hired Florida's 20 best lobbyists to help push offshore drilling through the legislature. FEA is a LLC formed by self-employed Daytona Beach attorney Doug Daniels. Ron Sachs Communications is handling FEA's PR campaign. Sachs is best known as the host of the internet political show Power Play. I'm curious if FEA wrote Charlie Van Zant's bill.

Daniels said his group filed the original Van Zant bill earlier this year. That bill (H1219) would have directed the Department of Environmental Protection to come up with a plan for developing offshore oil reserves. That bill was expanded last week with an amendment filed by Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park.

The backers of FEA are unknown. "There is a lot more suspicion about this than there should be," Sachs insisted told the Miami Herald. "These are Americans who hope Florida will allow oil and gas exploration." The suspicion comes from these oil industry people hiding in the shadows. Their citizenship (thanks to Sachs) is the only thing we know.

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Charlie Van Zant's Faith-Based Energy Policy

The media did no reporting on Charlie Van Zant's bizarro quotes. Van Zant argued in favor of HB 1219. The bill would allow oil drilling 3 miles off the coast of Florida. Blogger Bruce Ritchie has a full excerpt of Van Zant's rant from the floor of the Florida House of Representatives.

"Some people would like to think that (the world's petroleum supply is limited). Estimates might show that. But that doesn't mean that at all. We happen to worship a god who made it all out of nothing anyway. And if we ran out, I certainly believe he could make some more."

Forget what science says. Van Zant is running a faith-based energy policy.

Other factually incorrect statements from Van Zant.

"God created the oil and will create more once we pump what is there."

"If we don't drill, the China, Argentina, and Cuba will so they can fund terrorists."

"Drilling will provide more money to Florida than tourism."

I'm still trying to get a transcript and a Youtube video. If anyone has more on the story email me at

Update: Van Zant spoke at a McCain-Palin rally. The hammered away about banning abortion and urging voters to support the anti-gay marriage Amendment 2. Van Zant shifted to the need for Florida to have nuclear power plants and (drum roll please) offshore drilling. Van Zant sold the false promise that drilling off of Florida's coast would drop gas prises in the state.

The oil from the outer coaster shelf would not greatly impact production. Oil companies would sell the crude oil and natural gas to a global market. Anti-regulation Republicans aren't about to force oil companies to sell only to Florida. I doubt that would be legal.

The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017. Total domestic production of crude oil from 2012 through 2030 in the OCS access case is projected to be 1.6 percent higher than in the reference case, and 3 percent higher in 2030 alone, at 5.6 million barrels per day. For the lower 48 OCS, annual crude oil production in 2030 is projected to be 7 percent higher—2.4 million barrels per day in the OCS access case compared with 2.2 million barrels per day in the reference case (Figure 20). Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.

Similarly, lower 48 natural gas production is not projected to increase substantially by 2030 as a result of increased access to the OCS. Cumulatively, lower 48 natural gas production from 2012 through 2030 is projected to be 1.8 percent higher in the OCS access case than in the reference case. Production levels in the OCS access case are projected at 19.0 trillion cubic feet in 2030, a 3-percent increase over the reference case projection of 18.4 trillion cubic feet. However, natural gas production from the lower 48 offshore in 2030 is projected to be 18 percent (590 billion cubic feet) higher in the OCS access case (Figure 21). In 2030, the OCS access case projects a decrease of $0.13 in the average wellhead price of natural gas (2005 dollars per thousand cubic feet), a decrease of 250 billion cubic feet in imports of liquefied natural gas, and an increase of 360 billion cubic feet in natural gas consumption relative to the reference case projections. In addition, despite the increase in production from previously restricted areas after 2012, total natural gas production from the lower 48 OCS is projected generally to decline after 2020.

Below is an EIA chart of what oil and gas production would be if the restrictions on drilling in the United States outer continental shelf was lifted. None of the data matters to Van Zant. If believes God will make more oil.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bad Karaoke

Insane people should not be allowed to sing karaoke.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Crist Featured in 'Outrage'

Charlie Crist is featured in the documentary Outrage. The film is making it's premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. The filmmaker Kirby Dick names (rumored) closeted gay politicians. And yes, Charlie Crist is featured. Other politicians named are David Dreier, Ken Mehlman, Larry Craig, Jim McCrery, Ed Schrock, Ed Koch and Fox News anchor Shepard Smith.

I blogged extensively about the Mark Foley scandal. I was outraged on how the St. Petersburg Times blew the story. It was no secret Foley was going after male teenagers. The media feels extremely uncomfortable covering gay politicians. There certainly are valid arguments for privacy. Ignoring Foley's potentially illegal behavior crosses the line.

Alex Koppelman reviews the film and offers his insights as to why homosexuality makes the media nervous.

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Joint Personal Recovery Agency Memo

The Joint Personal Recovery Agency told the Pentagon's Office of the General Counsel torture was unlikely to produce useful intelligence. The JPRA memo interrogations that involved gaining the detainees trust will be more effective.

(U) As noted previously, upwards of 90 percent of interrogations have been successful through the exclusive use of a direct approach, where a degree of rapport is established with the prisoner. Once any means of duress has been purposefully applied to the prisoner, the formerly cooperative relationship can not be reestablished. In addition, the prisoner's level of resolve to resist cooperating with the interrogator will likely be increased as a result of harsh or brutal treatment.

(U) For skilled interrogators, the observation ofsubtle nonverbal behaviors provides an invaluable assessment of the prisoner's psychological and emotional state. This offers important insights into how the prisoner can be most effectively leveraged into compliance. Further, it often enables the interrogator to form a reasonably accurate assessment ofthe prisoner's veracity in answering pertinent questions. The prisoner's physical response to the pain inflicted by an interrogator would obliterate such nuance and deprive the interrogator of these key tools.

The JPRA compared the interrogation methods the Bush administration would later adopt to the techniques used by oppressive regimes. The memo stresses detainees will lie, in order to stop being tortured. The false information defeats the whole point of the interrogation.

(U) In numerous cases, interrogation has been used as a tool of mass intimidation by oppressive regimes. Often, the interrogators operate from the assumption (often incorrect) that a prisoner possesses information of interest. When the prisoner is not forthcoming, physical and psychological pressures are increased. Eventually, the
prisoner will provide answers that they feel the interrogator is seeking. In this instance, the information is neither reliable nor accurate (note: A critical element of the interrogation process is to assess the prisoner's knowledgeability. A reasoned assessment of what the prisoner should know, based on experience, training, position, and access should drive the questioning process.)

The question is if Donald Rumsfeld saw this memo. All indications are Rumsfeld was firmly committed to the torture policy. It is known that Rumsfeld approved of stress positions.

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Quote of the Day

"Let's be clear. Everything Glenn Reynolds has ever thought or said about politics has been discredited to the tune of mounds of corpses, the disrepute of the United States, and a fantastically botched economy. And he also has this fucked-up Undying Cyborg shit going on...

"Has there ever, ever been a sorrier, more discredited asshole than Glenn Reynolds? Ever? In the entire history of discredited sub-moron-level pompous assholes?"

Thers, of the blog Whiskey Fire.

Reynolds blogging on Iraq's (bogus) weapons program is stagging in it's stupidity. Reynolds has been repeatingly wrong about national security issue. Yet the wingnut blogosphere his posts as the gospel truth.

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Conservatives Love Crist When It Suits Them

I accused conservative of abandoning ideology to support Charlie Crist. Winning trumps principles. The red meat conservatives are throwing their lot with Crist. They want Crist to run for a second term as Governor.

Three groups, the Conservative Republican Alliance, the Florida Conservative Reform Caucus, and the Ronald Reagan Young Republican Club of Miami Beach, today launched where they are asking supporters to sign an on-line petition supporting Crist’s re-election.

“For weeks, we’ve heard speculation that Governor Crist may run for the US Senate,” FCRC co-founder Martin Stockdale said in a statement. “In today’s economy we need Charlie Crist’s strong leadership right here at home.”

Wall Street Journal blogger Susan Davis notes the endorsement maybe a joke. Javier Manjarres signed the petition and is a Crist basher. Actually it makes sense for Manjarres to want Crist to do a second term. Manjarres is a fan of Senate candidate Marco Rubio A Crist Senate run would kill Rubio's chances. Crist can easily win a second term as Governor and Rubio is a more polished public speaker than Kendrick Meek and Dan Gelber. The Jeb conservatives can't stand Crist. But they find the idea of Gov. Alex Sink more distasteful.

My take is it is going to take a lot more than an online petition to keep Crist out of the Senate race. Crist barely shows up to work is is disengaged with the legislature. If he didn't want out he would have announced his desire to run for a second term.

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Olbermann Calls Hannity on Waterboarding Claim

Sean Hannity debated Charles Grodin about torture. Hannity jokingly volunteered himself to be waterboarded.

GRODIN: You're for torture.

HANNITY: I am for enhanced interrogation.

GRODIN: You don't believe it's torture. Have you ever been waterboarded?

HANNITY: No, but Ollie North has.

GRODIN: Would you consent to be waterboarded? We can waterboard you?


GRODIN: Are you busy on Sunday?

HANNITY: I'll do it for charity. I'll let you do it. I'll do it for the troops' families.

Keith Olbermann was offended Hannity would be so dismissive about waterboarding. Olbermann expressed doubts that Hannity would allow himself to be waterboarded. Olbermann offered $1,000 for every second Hannity lasts.

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Quote of the Day

"It feels great to be home. It feels like everyone around here has my back, with the exception of Rush Limbaugh, who is trying to make this into a race issue ... that's disgusting."

Shane Murphy, second-in-command of ship hijacked by Somali pirates.

Murphy question Limbaugh's patriotism.

"You gotta get with us or against us here, Rush. The president did the right thing ... It's a war.... It's about good versus evil. And what you said is evil. It's hate speech. I won't tolerate it."

I don't want to get into a good versus evil debate. We had too much of that during the Bush years. I will note Limbaugh can't keep his racism in check. His bigoted remarks about Donovan McNabb cost him an NFL commentary gig.


Troll Hall of Fame: Gerald Hancock

Gerald Hancock get points for using an actual name. Most trolls log in under Anonymous. Hancock's leaps of logic makes Alice In Wonderful seem like a study in realism. Hancock argues current laws permit gay people to marry. They just need to stop being gay. Apparently, gayness can be turned on and off at will. "Look Mom, I'm not gay anymore. Oh wait! I'm gay again."

These people are sick! It's not the law that needs to be changed, it's the gay's mind and heart that should change. They have the equal right to marry already. They can change their disorientation, and get oriented correctly someone of the opposite sex: And stop trying to make the 90% of the people change for them...a wimpy 10% of the population.

Mr. Hancock is a little too curious about Perez Hilton's gender. There are all kinds of Freudian implications about why Hancock is so obsessed about Hilton's anatomy. I respect Hancock's privacy enough to let him deal with those issues.

Hancock cites the Constitution as giving gay people the right to marry staraight people.

Under the constitution, they have equal rights already...they just refuse to use those rights due to their own perversity of heart and mind.

I will go one step further. The 14th amendment states "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." The conservative-leaning Supreme Court has refused to hear any gay marriages cases. A major reason is the court doesn't have the moral courage to dive into the gay marriage debate.

Another reason is there is no legal justification to bar gay marriage. Loving v Virginia made it clear that bigotry isn't a legal reason to bar two people from marrying. The sanctity of marriage wasn't destroyed because of interracial unions. God hasn't destroyed Massachusetts with thunder bolts. People have a right to practice their religious beliefs. They don't have a right to impose them under false pretenses.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Tortured Logic

Torture Timeline

Foreign Policy has a timeline on how the Bush administration created the torture policy.

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Wingnut of the Day: Charlie Van Zant

I just confirmed Florida House Rep. Charlie Van Zant made these comments in favor of HB 1219.

"God created the oil and will create more once we pump what is there."

"If we don't drill, the China, Argentina, and Cuba will so they can fund terrorists."

"Drilling will provide more money to Florida than tourism."

Oil is a finite organic sources. Oil comes from dead dinosaurs, the fat of remains and plankton. Living entities have to die to create more oil. We can't just magically make it.

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Best Headline of the Day

The Onion strikes again.

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Alex Sink: Just Say No to Offshore Drilling

Florida CFO Alex Sink sent out a press release stating her opposition against HB 1219. The bill would allow drilling 3 miles off the coast of Florida. The sponsors are Erik Fresen, Stan Mayfield, Seth McKeel and Juan C. Zapata.

Sink on HB 1219

“As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer it is my responsibility to protect the people of Florida and all state owned land, and I take these obligations very seriously. That’s why I strongly oppose the near-shore drilling legislation, which would threaten Florida’s economy by bringing oil rigs 3 miles off our coast, sanctioning drilling in the shallow waters of the Gulf, and allowing unlimited pipelines to go through sensitive areas up to our beaches.

“This controversial near-shore drilling bill puts Florida’s billion dollar tourism, fishery, and marina-related industries at serious risk, and is not in the best interest of Florida. What Florida should do is look for ways to make our state the leader in the new energy economy, instead of making our state even more vulnerable.

“I also think it is unconscionable that a bill that could threaten our economy is being passed at the 11th hour, without any significant debate, serious study, or real time to hear from Florida’s citizens. Floridians deserve to have government in the sunshine -- this bill is government in the dark of night.”

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Joel Award: Peggy Noonan

It is time to give out the Joel Award. The award goes any celebrity, pundit, blogger or politician that purposely contradicts himself or herself.

The Joel Award goes to Peggy Noonan. In 1998, Noonan urged the impeachment of Bill Clinton because "no man is above" the rule of law.

"The Democrats had long labeled the impeachment debate a distraction from the urgent business of a great nation. But the Republicans argued that the pursuit of justice is the business of a great nation. In winning this point, they caught the falling flag, producing a triumph for the rule of law, a reassertion of the belief that no man is above it, and a rebuke for an arrogance that had grown imperial,"

Noonan's love of the law gets thrown under the bus when it comes to the Bush administration torturing detainees. Nonnan's comments on This Week were sickening.

Noonan: Oh I have reservations about all this. It's hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking oh much good will come of that. Sometimes in life you wanna' just keep walkin'. History has changed. It does change. We have a new administration, a new way. Sometimes I think just keep walkin'. Don't always be issuing papers and reports.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

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Quote of the Day 2

"Goodnight all. Keep repeating your mantra. 'Democrats are good. Republicans are evil.' It must be so simple living that way."

Joe Scarborough, on his Twitter account.

Scarborough goes on to defend torture.

I pity the Left. They're trying mightily to act self-righteous while ignoring the blood on their leaders' hands. A hard rain's a gonna fall.

Spare me the pity. Scarborough does get points for doing a good InstaPundit impersonation.

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More Trouble In Swat

The Pakistani government attempted a cease-fire with the Taliban in Swat. The government gave in to the Taliban's demands to impose Islamic law in the Swat Valley. The policy has been a disaster for women's rights. The Taliban has burned girl schools and beheaded people. Residents have fled to camps in Peshawar.

The Swat Valley Taliban's leader is Maulana Fazlullah. He started a pirate radio station in 2006. Fazlullah forbids Swat citizens from dancing and music. This was the message Fazlullah delivered to music centers.

"Close within three days – or you will be blown away".

Fazlullah forbid Swat residents from getting polo vaccinations. 160,000 children did not get vaccinations because Fazlullah claimed the vaccine causes impotency. Fazlullah's radio station started the rumor that the vaccine contained oestrogen. This was proven to be false.

"To cure a disease before its on set is not in accordance with Shariah’s laws," said Fazlullah. "I have never opposed Polio vaccination, but I say if the people are unwilling for it, they should not be forced. Keeping in mind if I say “No” to Polio Vaccination, you would not find a single child to drink a drop of it anywhere in Swat."

If Fazlullah didn't oppose polio vaccinations then why did he tell his listeners health care workers were part of "a conspiracy of the Jews and Christians to stunt the population growth of Muslims"? World Health Organisation were repeatedly assaulted and Fazlullah never once complained about their treatment. The reason is many of the attackers are part of Fazlullah militia.

In March, the Pakistani government agreed to another cease-fire with Fazlullah and his followers. Once again the cease-fire was broken. The Pakistani government continues to be in denial. Hillary Clinton said the Pakistani government was "basically abdicating to the Taliban." This is madness. The Taliban have militia elements in Buner. That places Taliban forces closer to Islamabad.

The move by Taliban-backed militants into the Buner district of northwestern Pakistan, closer than ever to Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, have prompted concerns both within the country and abroad that the nuclear-armed nation of 165 million is on the verge of inexorable collapse.

On Wednesday a local Taliban militia crossed from the Swat Valley - where a February cease-fire allowed the implementation of strict Islamic, or Shari'a, law - into the neighboring Buner district, which is just a few hours drive from Islamabad (65 miles, separated by a mountain range, as the crow flies). ((See pictures on the frontlines in the battle against the Taliban.)

Residents streaming from Buner, home to nearly a million people, told local newspapers that armed militants are patrolling the streets. Pakistani television stations aired footage of Taliban soldiers looting government offices and capturing vehicles belonging to aid organizations and development projects. The police, say residents, are nowhere to be seen. The shrine of a local Muslim saint, venerated across the country, was closed. The Taliban, which adheres to a stricter version of Islam than is practiced in most of Pakistan, hold that worship at such shrines goes against the teachings of Islam.

The Obama administration needs to figure out what to do about Pakistan's nuclear weapons. South Korea or Iran isn't the big threat. Pakistan's government is going to fall. It is only a matter of when. The idea of nukes in Fazlullah's pocession is terrifying.

Update: Lara Logan has a story on the current crisis.

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Kendrick Meek Petition Drive

There will be a petition drive, this Saturday in Tampa, to get Senate candidate Kendrick Meek on the ballot.

Host: Hillsborough County for Kendrick Meek
Type: Causes - Rally
Network: Global

Date: Saturday, April 25, 2009
Time: 11:00am - 3:00pm
Location: McFarland Park
Street: 3516 Mcfarland Rd Tampa, FL 33618
City/Town: Tampa, FL

The St. Petersburg Times feature Meek in it's Buzz's 5 Questions series.


Jessica Valenti on the Today Show

Jessica Valenti appears on the Today Show. Valenti explains how abstinence-only education has been a policy failure. Valenti explains how the virginity Purity Myth does not teach women that they are more than their bodies. Valenti does not urge young women to rush into sex. She also supports abstinence as part of comprehensive sex education. Valenti makes it clear abstinence-only sex ed is a health policy failure.

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Quote of the Day

"The idea that torture doesn't work — that's been put out from John McCain on down — You know, for the longest time McCain said torture doesn't work then he admitted in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last summer that he was broken by North Vietnamese. So what are we to think here?"

Rush Limbaugh

John McCain had three broken limbs from rejecting from his airplane. McCain gave a bogus confession and told his NVA captors that his father was a Naval Admiral. The confession was used of propaganda purposes. McCain would have died if he didn't submit. Limbaugh wants America to use the same methods as the NVA.

How conservatives love moving the goal posts. Limbaugh once denied the United States used violence against detainees. His defense of Abu Ghraib was indefensible.

You know, if you look at -- if you, really, if you look at these pictures, I mean, I don't know if it's just me, but it looks just like anything you'd see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage. Maybe I'm -- yeah. And get an NEA grant for something like this. I mean, this is something that you can see on stage at Lincoln Center from an NEA grant, maybe on Sex in the City -- the movie. I mean, I don't -- it's just me.

Does the corpse of Manadel al-Jamadi's look like an episode of Sex in the City? The interrogated by the CIA lasted 30 minutes. An autopsy ruled the death was murder.

The Navy SEALs and CIA washed the body clean of forensic evidence.

According to Spc. Jason Kenner, an M.P. with the 372nd Military Police Company, al-Jamadi was brought to the prison by U.S. Navy SEALs in good health; Kenner says he saw that al-Jamadi looked extensively bruised when he was brought out of the showers, dead. According to Kenner a "battle" took place among CIA and military interrogators over who should dispose of the body.

The only way conservatives can forward their arguments in favor of torture is by submitting bogus facts. Bodies physically beaten to death are not on display at Madonna concerts. Limbaugh, Bill Kristol and Sean Hannity do not have the moral courage to say they support hanging al-jamadi by razor wire and Navy Seals beating him to death within a half hour's time. No due process. No valuable intelligence gathered from al-jamadi. People in the national security apparatus should be allowed to beat and imprison whomever they choose and answer to no one. This is governing from fear. Franklin Roosevelt said during his first inaugural address, "Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself." The Bush administration made fear into policy.

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Social Conservative Contraception

The contraceptive product only James Dobson could love.

Hat tip to Amanda Marcotte.

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Crow Quill Quickies

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Hold Steady - Lord, I'm Discouraged

Lord, Im Discouraged - The Hold Steady

My take is the song is about a man in love with a woman whose a drug addict and cutter.

And I come to your altar
And then there's just nothing
And she keeps insisting
The sutures and bruises are none of my business
She says that she's sick
But she won't get specific
The sutures and bruises are none of my business
This guy from the north side
Comes down to visits
His visits, they only take five or six minutes

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Shepard Smith Condemns Torture

Shepard Smith powerfully expresses his outrage against torture.

"We are America, we don't torture! And the moment that is not the case, I want off the train! This government is of, by, and for the people -- that means it's mine. That means -- I'm not saying what is torture, and what is not torture, but I'm saying, whatever it is, you don't do it for me! I want off the train when the government starts -- I want off, next stop, now!"

Smith eloquently explains how waterboarding goes against American values.

"They better not do it," he said. "If we are going to be Ronald Reagan's Shining City on the Hill, we don't get to torture. We don't do it." Fade to black.

National Review contributor Cliff May unsurprising defends the Bush administration. This is the same May whom accused the Left of "Romancing the Jihad." You can count on the National Review to accuse the Left of treason on a weekly basis.

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Quote of the Day

"I'm here today as a fellow Amereican. Whose parents were born in a country that lost itself to socialism. My parents lost their country to a government. I will not lose mine to a government.

Marco Rubio, at a tea bagging protest comparing the United States to Fidel Castro's Cuba. This is same Rubio that attempted to raise the state sales tax and said shifting the tax burden from property owners would benefit laborers.

He went on: "And I'm telling you that this property tax cut will create $6-billion in disposable income. And what that means in real terms is that people who now mow their lawns will hire someone to do it. ... People who now maintain their own pools will hire someone to do it. ... And that helps the working class. ...

"The more disposable income there is, the faster the working class can join, can grow into the ranks of home ownership, can send their kids to college, etc. I know. I was raised on disposable income."

The response from callers to the Jim Defede Show was swift.

"The working people are what built this country," said a caller named Cliff. "We didn't live off handouts, which is what he's suggesting. ... It's a typical Republican (attitude), looking down their noses at the average guy."

Robert, another caller, took issue with increasing the sales tax.

"Most working-class people are just struggling to survive and their solution is the most regressive form of tax there is? This is unbelievable. Trickle-down economics was disproven. ... I work my tail off every day just to make ends meet, and if they raise the sales tax, that's going to be coming directly out of every little bit that I earn. It's just going to make it even more expensive to live here, not less."

Rubio claims conservative trickle down economics will balance the budgets at states and the federal level. Rubio was Florida House Speaker and the state budget is in heavier debt now. I find it hysterical Rubio can talk about lower taxes and balanced budgets with his record. Draining the Lawton Chiles Endowment is not bold leadership. Alex Sink warned Gov. Charlie Crist the trust fund money must be repaid. Rubio didn't flinch at leaving a bill for the next legislature. Rubio has no credibility to complain about President Obama running up a debt. He did the same thing in Tallahassee.

Side note: property taxes are a problem and other sources of revenue need to be found for schools.

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Meet the New GOP

The new DNC ad hightlights the Republican Party's problem. They don't have new stars on the horizon. Bobby Jindal crashed and burned with his State of the Union response. Jindal came on the national stage and automatically became a punchline.

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Pinellas Living Green Expo

The Pinellas Living Green Expo will be held May 2 and 3. The event is free to the public and will feature exhibition on how to make the environment better.

The Pinellas Living Green Expo provides real solutions for people to live better, healthier lives with less impact on the environment. The Expo connects people who are interested in making a positive difference in both their lives and in their communities.

The PLGE is looking for environmentally friendly exhibitors. (There are fees for booth space.) PLGE also needs volunteers.

Who: Pinellas Living Green Expo

When: Saturday, May 2, 2009
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Sunday, May 3, 2009
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Where: Harborview Center
300 Cleveland St, Clearwater

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