Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hey, the Bush administration continues to lie and obfuscate! What were the chances of that?

Glenn Greenwald is always on top of things, and, outside of left blogistan, is also pretty much ignored. This one on AG Mukasey is another instance where, for the most part, lying and attempting to do whatever they want while maintaining the angelic glow of innocence, is largely accepted by a willing press. Geez, these guys make me sick. You know, even though we may well end up with a Democrat in the White House, I will be quite happy when the press isn’t just a lapdog anymore. Of course, their mission statement will now have morphed a bit into something that enables all sorts of lies and attempts to undercut said Democratic president. But it will at least be refreshing that the press doesn’t swallow everything they are being spoon-fed.

Michael Mukasey has conclusively proven himself to be an exact replica of Alberto Gonzales -- slavishly loyal to every presidential whim and unbound by even the most minimal constraints of truth while serving those whims. Speaking in San Francisco this week, Mukasey demanded that the President be given new warrantless eavesdropping powers and that lawbreaking telecoms be granted amnesty. To make his case, Mukasey teared up while exploiting the 3,000 Americans who died on 9/11 and said this:

Officials "shouldn't need a warrant when somebody with a phone in Iraq picks up a phone and calls somebody in the United States because that's the call that we may really want to know about. And before 9/11, that's the call that we didn't know about. We knew that there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn't know precisely where it went."

At that point in his answer, Mr. Mukasey grimaced, swallowed hard, and seemed to tear up as he reflected on the weaknesses in America's anti-terrorism strategy prior to the 2001 attacks. "We got three thousand. . . . We've got three thousand people who went to work that day and didn't come home to show for that," he said, struggling to maintain his composure.

At the time of the attacks, Mr. Mukasey was the chief judge at the federal courthouse a few blocks away from the World Trade Center.

These are multiple falsehoods here, and independently, this whole claim makes no sense. There is also a pretty startling new revelation here about the Bush administration's pre-9/11 failure that requires a good amount of attention.

Even under the "old" FISA, no warrants are required where the targeted person is outside the U.S. (Afghanistan) and calls into the U.S. Thus, if it's really true, as Mukasey now claims, that the Bush administration knew about a Terrorist in an Afghan safe house making Terrorist-planning calls into the U.S., then they could have -- and should have -- eavesdropped on that call and didn't need a warrant to do so. So why didn't they? Mukasey's new claim that FISA's warrant requirements prevented discovery of the 9/11 attacks and caused the deaths of 3,000 Americans is disgusting and reckless, because it's all based on the lie that FISA required a warrant for targeting the "Afghan safe house." It just didn't. Nor does the House FISA bill require individual warrants when targeting a non-U.S. person outside the U.S.

Independently, even if there had been a warrant requirement for that call -- and there unquestionably was not -- why didn't the Bush administration obtain a FISA warrant to listen in on 9/11-planning calls from this "safe house"? Independently, why didn't the administration invoke FISA's 72-hour emergency warrantless window to listen in on those calls? If what Muskasey said this week is true -- and that's a big "if" -- his revelation about this Afghan call that the administration knew about but didn't intercept really amounts to one of the most potent indictments yet about the Bush administration's failure to detect the plot in action. Contrary to his false claims, FISA -- for multiple reasons -- did not prevent eavesdropping on that call.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Incredible Melting Mission Statement.

There are many, many bloggers who have been writing about this phenomenon. Digby is just one, here is an example of her fine work. Anything I am about to say here will be done somewhere else much better. But I really have to get this off my chest.

The mission statement for the media, both print and television, has changed dramatically since the 1960’s. I don’t know exactly when it was. Many people point to the presidency of Ronald Regan, when “government” became a bad thing, something to be mistrusted and campaigned against. The Washington Post’s role in exposing what was going on behind the scenes in Nixon’s White House was probably the last hurrah of our traditional press. The mission statement then was to critically examine issues and to bring to light things that others didn’t want the public to see.

Now, due to many factors, the mission statement has changed. Here is what I see as the new mission statement for the press.

1. To support the objectives of the ownership of the press outlets, which are giant corporations such as ABC/Disney, and who have vested interests in governmental policy decisions.

2. To entertain a largely uncritical audience that is more interested in trivial and personal items, rather than hard news which may be difficult to understand and will probably conflict with many people’s predetermined beliefs.

3. To maintain the status quo. In other words, don’t rock the boat.

4. To appear “even handed”. This is taken to such an extent that facts on one side will be downplayed and obviously ridiculous opinions and unsubstantiated statements offered as “proof” are broadcast/printed, just so “both sides” of a story can be offered.

5. To stay in the good graces of governmental contacts. This is taken to such an extreme that we have people like Tim Russert (Top Dog at NBC news) saying, under oath at the Scooter Libby trial, that he always assumes anything that any of his contacts tells him is automatically “off the record”. He will only go public with the offered information if it is specifically stated that he can go public with it. Keeping access and being considered to be part of the “In Crowd” is much more exciting and ego-boosting than to actually ask hard and potentially embarrassing questions.

6. To be cheerleaders for the country, especially when it comes to military action.

None of these really involve “informing the public”, and all benefit the ruling party, which is and has been the Republican party. Yes, there is some very good investigative reporting being done. What is very frustrating, however, is that when such reporting IS done, it usually goes ignored and other news outlets rarely pick up the story. This is especially true when the story in question is negative for Republicans. However, if it is something that can be used against the Democrats, then it immediately is repeated and amplified, like dropping a small stone in a pool of water. The disturbance goes far and wide.

It is so obvious to anyone paying attention that the media is, and has been for some time, falling down on their primary job. This country cannot really exist as a democracy without a healthy, skeptical fourth estate, just as a democracy cannot exist without an engaged, informed public. In so many ways, this country is starting to resemble those who we once held in such contempt; the Soviet Union, East Germany, many Banana Republics in Central and South America. Almost every aspect of the major media outlets is skewed toward the Republicans and Big Business, it is impossible to miss, unless that person also has a stake in maintaining the status quo.

I have no idea what it will take to turn this around and get the press to fulfill its main obligation. It is probably too late, given the factors involved. It will probably take something of a revolution or a very dramatic upheaval in this country to get things to change. And, given the state of affairs, I just do not see this happening. Corporate America has too much invested in Republican rule and there are too many people in power or with their hands on the purse strings who are quite happy to keep the public ill-informed and docile.

Photo of Brian Williams from CBC web site.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

O.K., yeah, I’ve been back for several days now. You were expecting something interesting, were you? How very predictable.

I have seen the same reaction from several other bloggers, in that it is really hard to figure out just where to start.

First off, I would like to congratulate the Democratic party for figuring out a way to do the impossible; throw what looked like a sure fire win in November of 2008 for the Dems into a probable victory for the Republicans. Who would have thought it possible that the Democrats would have two, count ‘em, two firsts in the same election? A woman and a black man running for President of the United States. Simultaneously. Either of which would have, at any other time, just run away and hid from any and all Democratic and Republican challengers. And, lo and behold, their supporters seem quite willing to fracture the Democratic Party into pieces before letting the rival Democrat win! How bizarre and unlikely is that one? And one of the Democratic candidates continues to say nice things about the Republican nominee and continues to do everything in her power to undermine her Democratic opponent, even though it is close to impossible for her to win the nomination without resorting to deviousness and outright hackery. After eight years of George W. Bush, who would have guessed that one? Not me!

This will be so great. At least four more years of a Republican president who knows nothing except how to give orders to the military, and who is apparently as without a clue as George Bush has been. And the press still seems to prefer the Republican! After all that is happened, the Republican gets a pass and the Dems get all their faults played to the max in front of a national audience. And many in the press actually admit that this is happening!

I thought I couldn’t be surprised anymore after the elections of 2000 and 2004. This has got to take the cake. We have a president who is mired in incredibly low approval numbers for an incredibly long period of time, and his would-be successor from the Republican party wants to continue doing just what has been going on for the last eight years, which should be obvious to anyone higher on the intellectual scale than a rutabaga that it isn’t working. At one time, they looked to be mortal enemies, and McCain was actually considering leaving the Republican party. Yet, here he is, poised to win the presidency under the banner of four more years of the same exact thing! How absolutely astounding is this?

We are just caught in an avalanche of bad news; so bad that we can’t even begin to single out individual stories of badness anymore. It is a tsunami of badness out there, and we are all in danger of getting swept out to sea. Political, economic, energy, the environment, the war…. It’s all bad. And yet, to listen to the pundits, you might think that the biggest crisis facing this country is some angry black preacher from Detroit.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

On another business trip.

Try back in a week or so.

I am continually amazed that THIS person is actually our president.

George W. Bush continually does and says things that just astound me. How this person actually got to be where he is has got to be one of the more mysterious and amazing political stories ever. He is so tone deaf to the goings on around him on just about everything, it is amazing. But this latest one, in front of troops serving in Afghanistan, really had me ready to bit through nails. Via Digby:

I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed. It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks.

Serving in a war, on probably their second, third or fourth deployment, in a hostile environment, away from their families for the last year, never knowing when you might get shot at or blown up, and our PRESIDENT calls this a “FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE”?!? “ROMANTIC”?!? And this is the guy who joined the Texas Air National Guard, with the help of Daddy’s connections, so he wouldn’t have to go to Vietnam, and who, to this day, can’t prove that he actually served his required time in Alabama.

This is beyond being “in a bubble”. These are the utterings of complete buffoon, one with some very serious emotional problems that are in need of therapy. How could anyone possibly say that to these troops, much less the person who is responsible for sending them there? How much without a clue can a single person be?

I do know that if a Democrat had said something like that, the chickenhawks would be screaming for his or her scalp, and this would be THE major story for the next few weeks. There would be calls for resignation. But, this is George Bush, our “glorious leader, the War President”. And, as everyone knows (everyone who is paying attention, anyway), It’s O.K. If You Are A Republican.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Please join the Sasquatch Militia!

They are in need of your assistance!

Please make sure you click through the links to reach the information concerning how to help save the very rare and highly endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

NCAA basketball tournament promotional genius.

This is one of the best promotions I have ever heard of. Per the Seattle Times:

Knowing the pull of the NCAA tournament for workers who would like to stay home and see it on TV, the Oregon Urology Institute has set aside 24 appointments for March 19 and 26 for men scheduling vasectomies. KSCR, a sports-radio station advertising the promotion, is throwing in a "recovery kit" — a bag of frozen peas, sports magazines and free pizza delivery.

A bag of frozen peas! Hell, yeah! That’s even better than pizza.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stupid people saying stupid things very stupidly in public.

Stupidity in public applies to both Democrats and Republicans, perhaps not equally, but still, it has become a contest of late.

From Pandagon: Geraldine Ferraro, 1984 VP nominee, claiming Obama has only gotten as far as he has because he is black.

If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.

And, of course, her being a female had nothing at all to do with her being Walter Mondale’s running mate. You would like to think that she is smarter than this.

And here is Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern (R – was there any doubt?), via Balloon Juice.

Representative Sally Kern said that gays are a bigger threat to American society than terrorists on Saturday.

“I honestly think it’s the biggest threat even that our nation has,” the lawmaker said. “Even more so than terrorists or Islam, which I think is a big threat.”

“I’m not gay bashing,” Kern said in the recording, “but according to God’s word, that is not the right kind of lifestyle. It has deadly consequences.”

Kern said that the education system is indoctrinating children as young as two years old into the gay lifestyle. “The homosexual agenda is destroying our country,” said Kern.

“Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than a few decades,” she said.

And I wonder which societies those are? Names? Dates? I mean, we all know about those flaming queens that infiltrated the school system in the ancient Mayan civilization and taught those precocious little pre-warriors that perhaps cutting out the beating hearts from your captured enemy’s chest might not always be a good thing. What are some of the others, I would like to know. And gosh danggit! If the homosexual agenda is more of a threat than terrorism, which we have already spent about a kajillion dollars in several middle eastern countries, trying to accomplish something that no one can even explain, other than “victory”, then by gum, we better get cracking! Send the infantry into Seattle! San Francisco! Vancouver! Wait, that’s in another country… But, that’s O.K.! What’s a little thing like an international border when Civilization Itself is at stake!

But the winner of this week’s Stupidest Statements by Stupid People goes to Steve King, Republican Congressman from Iowa. From Huffington Post:

An Iowa Republican congressman said Friday that terrorists would be "dancing in the streets" if Democratic candidate Barack Obama were to win the presidency.

Rep. Steve King based his prediction on Obama's pledge to pull troops out of Iraq, his Kenyan heritage and his middle name, Hussein.

"The radical Islamists, the al-Qaida ... would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they would declare victory in this war on terror," King said in an interview with the Daily Reporter in Spencer.

King said his comments were not meant to demean Obama but to warn how an Obama presidency would look to the world.

"His middle name does matter," King said. "It matters because they read a meaning into that."

Hum…. So, we should elect people based on what their name is, because someone, somewhere in the world, might “read a meaning into it”? This from a person who has the exact same name as a prolific writer of horror stories, a similar sounding name as an insane boxing promoter, and the beginning of the name of a giant ape who likes to kidnap and rough up white women and smash up New York City?

Here’s some more words of wisdom from King.

King said the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib amounted to little more than "hazing," compared immigrants to "livestock" in proposing an electrified fence for the southern border, refused to vote for an innocuous House resolution commending the Muslims on the Ramadan holiday, released a "report" baselessly claiming that undocumented immigrants have murdered more Americans than the combined death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, praised Joe McCarthy as "a great American hero," argued that the civilian violent death rate in Washington, D.C., is actually higher than it is in Iraq, was one of only 11 lawmakers to vote against emergency relief funds for Hurricane Katrina victims, and, after the terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed, said derisively that Zarqawi was now at a place where there are 72 virgins who "probably all look like Helen Thomas."

I’m really beginning to miss Tom Delay. I really thought that he was pretending to be crazy, most of the time. These people really ARE nuts.

Mary Ann, nooooooo!!!!!!

From the Seattle PI.

DRIGGS, Idaho -- Perhaps they should have called her Mary Jane.

A surprise birthday party for Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island," ended with a nearly three-hour tour of the Teton County sheriff's office and jail when the 69-year-old was caught with marijuana in her vehicle while driving home.

Wells is now serving six months' unsupervised probation for the crime. She was sentenced Feb. 29 to five days in jail, fined $410.50 and placed on probation after pleading guilty to one count of reckless driving.

Could certainly go through a lot of those banana cream pies that way.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Grumpy thoughts on a Sunday morning.

I am sitting here, in front of the computer, not certain what I am about to write. Maybe I’ll think of a good title for this after it is written.

Things are just so unsettled and uncertain; it’s hard to know what exactly to be upset about. Everything, really, but it’s difficult to write a post complaining about everything. Writers need to be a tad more specific in their subject matter. But, it’s Sunday morning and this is as good a way to fill the time until everyone gets up and gets going as any.

I can’t help but think of the United States as a decaying power, maybe similar to Rome during the reign of Caligula or Nero. Despotic rulers who are out of touch with the realities of the general population and always used to getting their way, a powerful, militaristic nation used to throwing its weight around their empire, a decaying vision of the future… Bread and circuses. That’s what we have here in the United States. Most of the “ruling classes”, i.e., politicians and the media, seem to want to feed us circuses all day and all night. Lindsay Lohan, Brittney Spears, Paris Hilton, the latest missing beautiful young white woman; that seems to be what the media wants to feed us to keep us happy. God knows, who thinks that we really would like insightful, probing fact finding in our news reporting. That certainly doesn’t seem to be media’s first, or even fourth, obligation these days. And government, all they want to do is keep us terrified so that we will shut up and let them do whatever the hell they want to, in the name of “security”.

It’s difficult for anyone to see a developing situation while they are smack dab in the middle of it, but that’s what is going on now. This country hardly manufactures anything anymore. We buy crap from everywhere in the world that is willing to produce goods or services cheaper than in the U.S. The only thing that the United States does well is consume. The basis of our individual wealth (those of us without huge stakes in the stock market, of course) is the value of our homes. Many people have been enticed into cashing out that value, buying more stuff, and then having little or no equity in what used to be thought of as the bedrock of our individual wealth. The banking and lending industry has gotten so greedy that they have destroyed the system by which we finance the purchase of these homes, and it now threatens the stability of world monetary markets. Just think, greedy, unscrupulous lenders who wanted (and continue to want) nothing more than making a quick buck may ultimately be responsible for causing the elaborate house of cards we have built, commonly referred to as our economy, to come crashing down around our ears.

All the fixtures upon which this country has depended upon now seem at risk. George Bush thinks the Constitution is just a “go**amn piece of paper”, and acts like it. Habeas Corpus is gone. Spying on innocent civilians is the norm, in the hope of catching someone doing something that the ruling class doesn’t like. That could be someone trying to form a terrorist sleeper cell, but it also could be a neighborhood group planning an anti-war protest. Cheap and plentiful energy seems to be on the way out. Cars and the gasoline to run those cars may become the symbols of the upper ruling class. Everyone else won’t be able to afford them. Jobs are not safe, because they are being shipped overseas where bloated, multi-billion dollar corporations see the promise of eking out a few more percentage points of profit, at the expense of working Americans. Corporate pensions for a lifetime of service are a thing of the past. Affordable healthcare is also almost a thing of the past. Even the environment we have always counted on as being stable seems to be on the verge of major changes, to the extreme detriment of stable civilizations.

This is a hard thing to live with. I find it increasingly difficult to find any joy in any aspect of life, when I see the ramparts of the castle crumbling. I hope I am wrong, but I can’t help but think we are on the downhill run, picking up speed as we go, and the end may not be at all pretty.

But hey, there's always the latest meltdown by Brittney Spears! Watching someone more famous and rich than us, screwing up their lives in public, is always good for making us feel better about ourselves.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Power and Danger of Magical Thinking.

This link is to an article by Jennifer Nix on HuffingtonPost on Hillary Clinton’s Campaign of Magical Thinking. Go read that if you are interested in Hillary’s campaign meltdown, it’s a good article. I just like the phrase and started contemplating it a bit.

First off, what is “magical thinking”? Here is the Wiki definition.

In anthropology, psychology and cognitive science magical thinking is causal reasoning that often includes such ideas as the law of contagion, correlation equaling causation, the power of symbols and the ability of the mind to affect the physical world.

Like science, magic is concerned with causal relations, but unlike science, it does not distinguish correlation from causation. For example, someone who has won a shirt as a prize in a bowling competition may then come to believe this shirt is lucky. Such a person might well then wear the shirt to subsequent bowling competitions and attribute success to the `lucky' shirt, despite sustaining some tournament losses in addition to victories.

Magical thinking can occur when one simply does not understand possible causes, as illustrated by Sir Arthur C. Clarke's suggestion that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" (see Clarke's three laws), but can also occur in response to situations that are largely random or chaotic, such as a coin toss, as well as in situations that one has little or no control over, especially those one is emotionally invested in. (Indeed, this can be seen as a special case of failure to understand possible causes: specifically, a failure to understand the laws of probability that guarantee the occurrence of coincidences and seeming patterns.)

Magical thinking is, for me, that mental process which allows anyone to rather ignore some very unhappy facts and, thus, comfort themselves by convincing themselves that things really aren’t that bleak after all, maybe there is hope. Politics, such as the Hillary Clinton campaign of late, is very fertile ground for magical thinking. But, people of all persuasions, age groups, income level, etc., in other words, everyone, are susceptible to the siren call of magical thinking. I believe it is hard-wired into our circuitry. It’s what keeps us going in difficult times, keeps us from giving up all hope in the face of overwhelming odds. That is a great thing to have, because it allows people to persevere and overcome great adversity.

However, the downside of such thinking is that it allows a person to become oblivious to obvious facts that are staring them in the face that everyone else around them can see with perfect clarity. Day to day examples are infinite. It’s the gambler at the casino, convinced that if they play just one more hand of poker, they will recoup all their losses and still come out ahead. It’s the petty crook, who is convinced that they can continue to get away with one more home burglary, one more purse snatching, without getting caught. It’s the high school student who is convince that he doesn’t really need to study for that chemistry test on Wednesday, as he is sure he will pass with no problem and studying is so boring and such as hassle. It’s the person who keeps running up large amounts on their credit cards and only paying back the minimum balance. And, although I am sure I would take some heat for this if lots of people read this blog, I would say that magical thinking includes religious fundamentalists of all religions who are convinced they are going to Heaven or will be “Raptured Away” and everyone else will be left to enternal damnation and hellish punishment, even though their particular behavior isn’t really behavior of someone who is really deserving of such rewards. It leads to a mindset where the person believes they can do anything they want, as they are “saved” and all non-believers, infidels, pagans, etc. are beneath their contempt.

It’s also doubly unfortunate that society in 21st Century America feeds into the notion that magical thinking is not only a good thing, to anything else constitutes a defeatist attitude. Television commercials that encourage people to become day traders in the stock market (without ever saying so directly, of course) and business models that encourage any risky and/or untried approach should automatically be taken, if it saves the company lots of money. It doesn’t matter if anyone outside of the enterprise, without a stake in it, would immediately see that the whole thing is fraught with danger of failing, and possibly, failing miserably. If it’s possible, then it should be done! Making certain that it comes off as planned is becoming non-existent in corporate America. That is “defeatist” thinking.

A good example is what is currently going on at the Boeing Company. It’s a local story, getting lots of attention. However, in aviation circles, this is a big deal and will end up being very, very costly to the Boeing Company in just about every way imaginable. Money, prestige, customer confidence…

Painfully slow assembly of the first airplane continues to stall Boeing's crucial 787 Dreamliner program, and a third serious delay to the program is looming.

That first plane "is too far out from getting done" to meet the schedule announced just two months ago, a Boeing 787 worker closely involved with the assembly of airplane No. 1 said Friday.

A leading Wall Street analyst warned Friday of the likelihood of a new major Dreamliner delay, predicting that deliveries could slip out as much as a further six months.

What I see as the magical thinking portion of this story is that many people predicted this would happen. Boeing set out to build a new kind of airplane, one made out of composite materials that are stronger and lighter than aluminum, and fill if with the next generation of systems. At the same time, Boeing was pushing off a lot of the work and responsibility that they have historically had onto their suppliers. Entire airplane fuselage sections were going to come “pre-stuffed” with systems and wiring, so that all Boeing had to do is “snap the parts together”, which was supposed to take only three to five days apiece.

That sounds nice on the surface, and sure, it was going to save Boeing lots of money. They wouldn’t have to hire all those pesky workers, who sometimes go on strike, to put together their airplanes. All the benefits! None of the costs! Unfortunately, it is another case of magical thinking. It is becoming apparent, based on the news that is coming out, that Boeing really didn’t take any action to make sure all this really happened correctly and on time. They gave the responsibility to the suppliers, and the suppliers, for whatever reason, failed to come through. Many people foresaw this, both locally and in the industry. This is a case of magical thinking that will have some far reaching and very serious fallout.

Magical thinking is both a blessing and a curse. Human beings constantly strive against great odds, and often, then succeed. We would not have become what we are, as a species, unless individuals had this innate will to survive and succeed. However, as with most things, there is a dark side, and that dark side is manifesting itself in many ways in our society. That dark side might well eventually lead to our downfall as a society.

Unicorn image:

Sports stars going to prison for lying to Congress. Well, well.

This time (via the Seattle Times), it is Marion Jones, Olympic gold medal winner. Roger Clemons could be next, and Barry Bonds is not in the clear yet.

DALLAS — Marion Jones began her six-month sentence in federal prison Friday, punishment for lying to investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs and her role in a check-fraud scam.

The former Olympic track-and-field standout turned herself in before noon at Federal Medical Center Carswell, on the Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, Bureau of Prison spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said.

Jones won three gold and two bronze medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, becoming perhaps the most famous and marketable female athlete in the world.

After frequently denying ever having used performance-enhancing drugs, Jones admitted she had lied to federal investigators in November 2003.

Jones also admitted lying about her knowledge of the involvement of Tim Montgomery, the father of her older son, in a scheme to cash millions of dollars worth of stolen or forged checks.

You know, the biggest problem here for these people is not that they lied in front of Congress. No, it’s that they don’t work for the Bush adminstration. That way, you can apparently lie in front of Congress with impunity, and have no fear of reprisals. You know, like Alberto Gonzales....

Yes, I know that lying under oath, in front of Congress, is a crime. But, when the government starts throwing sports stars in jail, I just don’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling of being safe from terrorists or from the Bush administration ripping the Constitution to shreds.

Friday, March 07, 2008

You know, everyone in the Democratic Party just needs to calm down and STFU!!

This is getting into some serious stuff. I have read quotes and anecdotes from both the Obama and Clinton supporters, and it is getting pretty damn infuriating and not just a little scary. Here is something via Susie Mandrak at Suburban Guerilla, and about three links in.

If the Clintons push for the win in Denver, they’re going to split the goddamn party down the middle. I read your chapter on 1968 Chicago, obviously. I’m of the generation who supports Obama. I know what we’re like. Shit, I know what I’m like.

Rick, if the Machine tries to give the Clintons the victory at the convention, I swear to God, Chicago’s going to look like a Sadie Hawkins dance. People my age are going to be throwing stones. We all have transportation — cell phones — disposable income — the Internet — free time — and Seattle as our example. Part of me is scared of a riot. Part of me isn’t. The nomination belongs to Obama. Do you think we’re going to let the Democratic Leadership Council take it? “God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water, fire next time.”

Great. Obama supporters are threatening a riot in Denver if Clinton gets the nomination. I have seen statements that Clinton supporters will not support Obama; that they would rather vote for McCain instead. Here’s a link about an Obama advisor apologizing because he called Hillary Clinton “a monster”. Clinton makes public statements that pretty much flat out state that McCain is better prepared for the presidency than is Obama.

WTF are these people thinking?!? Jesus Christ, people! Get a grip! The policy differences between these two qualified candidates are MINISCULE when compared to the monstrosity that is the Republican party these days. McCain promises nothing more than four more years of Bush 43. Is that what we truly want? Rioting and voting for the other party if your candidate of choice does not win? Unbelievable. And the two candidates are not doing a very swell job of ratcheting the tensions down. If anything, they are causing a lot of the escalations of tensions.

I can’t believe this is actually happening. I am getting a bit of déjà vu, like I did in 2000 when Bush was handed the election by the Supreme Court. During the entire episode, I kept wondering, how can this possibly be occurring? This is too bizarre for anyone to even make up! And here we go again. If the Democrats can’t win a general election after eight long years of the lunacy and criminal Bush administration, then Dems should immediately disband the entire party. Just give up, as they aren’t ever going to win anything, ever again, and don’t deserve to.

If I live that long, it is going to be interesting to see what historians write about this decade about 25 years from now.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

This is what now passes for “serious discussion” on CNN; “Is Barack Obama the Anti-Christ?”

This is pretty incredible to me. We have a major “news” outlet, CNN, actually debating whether one of the two main Democrats running for President of the United States, is the Anti-Christ. How is this at all acceptable? Huge amounts of people in this country freak out when the left and anti-war folks suggest that Bush lied so he have his long-desired war with Iraq, even with massive amounts of evidence to back that claim up. People seem to think that criticizing Bush in any sort of media outlet is proof of a “liberal bias”. Yet, we have these two lunatics here, on television during prime time, debating whether or not Democrat Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ. And it doesn’t make any difference, in the least, that they seemed to agree that the answer is “no”.

Via Crooks and Liars:

BECK: Let me ask you, because I got — I get so much e-mail on this, and I think a lot of people do, and I`ve only got a couple of seconds. They say Glenn, you and the media, you`ve got to wake up. Barack Obama`s making people faint and cry and everything else. And he`s drawing people in.

There are people — and they said this about Bill Clinton that actually believe he might be the anti-Christ. Odds that Barack Obama is the anti-Christ?

HAGEE: No chance. He has a lot of charisma. There`s a media love affair with him right now. He is a very formidable political person. I believe the best leader for America in the future is John McCain.

I am absolutely speechless. Personally, I think George Bush fits the bill much more than Obama does. Just try to advance THAT particular idea, and see how long it takes you to get crucified.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Huge avalanche buries two trains, to great loss of life. Wellington, Washington, March 1, 1910.

This story still resonates here in Washington state. People still die in avalanches in the Cascade mountains. However, almost 100 years ago, the worst loss of life in the United States took place near Wellington, Washington in Stevens Pass. The Great Northern railroad (later Burlington Northern, later Burlington Northern Santa Fe) relocated the tracks through the Cascade mountains near the summit, boring a new and longer, yet much safer tunnel. It is still in use today.

You can still hike the old railroad grade, now known as the Iron Goat trail. There are still remnants of the wrecks littering the canyon bottom. Photos of the ancient yet still grim aftermath can be seen in Ross Fotheringham’s web page (link over at the right side). The last time I went hiking on the trail, before the new trailhead was opened, I came across a number of old railroad implements, like a cup, an axe, some other things I don’t remember. Someone had laid them out in a row, almost like a memorial. Even at this far removed time from the actual disaster, no one had disturbed this little tableau of sad reminders of the dead.

Here are some pictures and excerpts from the story in the Everett Herald.

Photo Courtesy of the Everett Public Library Juleen Collection An avalanche in Wellington swept two trains and a yard full of railroad equipment down into a creek bed. On the night of March 1, 1910, two Great Northern trains (passenger train local #25 and fast mail train #27) were buried in an avalanche near the town of Wellington, Washington, situated in the Cascade Mountains. An amateur photographer at the time, John Juleen took the earliest photos of the aftermath.

STEVENS PASS -- When Monroe physician A.W. Stockwell went to snowbound Stevens Pass that early March, he came back a changed man.

Those who knew Stockwell say he became forever taciturn. Like others who made the trip, he reluctantly spoke of the horrors he witnessed: the bodies torn to pieces by tremendous force, the blood-stained snow, of cold days marked by a slow parade of the dead.

The ghosts of what transformed Stockwell still linger at Stevens Pass. The hissing of sliding snow, the distant snapping of tree limbs, the whisper of the past.

On March 1, 1910, the deadliest avalanche in the United States' history swept away nearly 100 lives in the small railroad town of Wellington on the west side of the pass.

The carnage was so horrendous that people of the day renamed the town Tye.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

THIS is what is wrong with having a politicized Department of Justice.

Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers both have thumbed their noses at Congress by refusing to even acknowledge that they have been presented valid legal subpoenas to appear before a House Judiciary Committee to answer some potentially very embarrassing questions. Finally, the matter has been forward to the Justice Department. Per John Cole at Balloon Juice, guess what the response of the DOJ was?

Pelosi said the two were unresponsive to Congress’ inquiry, while the White House argues that contempt laws don’t apply to the president or any of his staffers who invoke executive privilege.

Mukasey, a Bush appointee, agreed.

“The department has determined that the noncompliance by Mr. Bolten and Ms. Miers with the Judiciary Committee subpoenas did not constitute a crime,” Mukasey wrote in a letter to Pelosi.

What a surprise. Boy, I certainly never could have seen that one coming. John Cole is a bit more forthcoming, when he actually looked up the law regarding said subpoenas.

Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress to give testimony or to produce papers upon any matter under inquiry before either House, or any joint committee established by a joint or concurrent resolution of the two Houses of Congress, or any committee of either House of Congress, willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.

I see no exemption for “friends of or advisors to the President.” But then, laws are for little people and January 2009 cannot come fast enough.

Exactly. When did this nation become one ruled by the law of powerful and authoritative personalities and not one of actual, you know, laws written down in a document, where if you didn’t follow that law, you faced some serious consequences? An additional thought is, what would have been the reaction if someone from the Clinton adminstration would have done this, say, during the Monica Lewinski debacle? The wingnut reaction would have been overwhelming. They would have stormed the place with pitchforks and torches. Metaphorically, hopefully, but perhaps not.

God, I hate double standards.