Wednesday, April 30, 2008

News Flash

This just in, the media are fixated by bullshit that no one gives a crap about!

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Wednesday Wire

Incredibly, it's Wednesday again:

The Indiana Voter ID Decision.

Crawford v. Marion County Election Board is a major decision that could change the face of American politics for the very negative unless the Democratic Party decides to fight for its voters on every level. The Supreme Court, in a mixed 6-3 decision upheld the constitutionality of the Indiana Voter ID law that requires a government-issued photo identification be presented in order to vote. With this ruling, at least 20 states are poised to pass similar legislation that will significantly reduce the ability of first time, elderly, African American and poor voters to vote in this year’s presidential election. The court-sanctioned phony issue of voter fraud (no one has ever been prosecuted in Indiana for impersonating another voter) is the fulfillment of a Republican dream to suppress the number of voters from the very groups that would have the most interest in throwing them out of office. Below in reading recommendations 7g and 7h are a ‘friend of the court’ brief and a discussion of the key issues by renowned election law expert. Loyola (LA) University professor Richard L. Hasen.

This decision will make touch screen voting machines, planned long voting lines in urban precincts; pre-election voter list reviews and other suppression techniques seem very mild.

Read the rest at the Wednesday Wire.
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Puppy Porn

Meet Sam, the centerfold.

We all know about lol's, invisible bicycles and other cat-blogging obsessions. But dog-lovers need their own fixes too. If you don't get enough on Basset Blogging Thursdays, with the new poster boy, Fenway-- then I recommend The Daily Puppy.

Dog lovers of the world unite.

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The Pastor Gap

Number of stories by the New York times and the Washington Post on Pastor Jerimiah Wright versus stories on televangelist John Hagee, who endorsed John "Free Ride" McCain. -- Media Matters
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

82nd Airborne Barracks, Ft. Bragg

Brandon Friedman has an update on those barracks that returning vets from Afghanistan were staying in. He took part in a conference call with the DOD.

BG DENNIS ROGERS: I'll tell you right now before we even start: I assume responsibility for the shortfalls in barracks maintenance which were referenced in the video by Mr. Frawley. We let our soldiers down. And I note that a number of you are veterans, or most of you are veterans, and you served. So you know that there is no excuse for that. We let our soldiers down.
Yes, you did General. The important news here was mentioned by CSM Strickland.
The Rear Detachment was documenting what the work orders were to bring that barracks back up to standard. They didn't really, I think, turn their full attention to it until they realized they had a shortfall in time--because they had ownership for several other barracks and they were in worse condition. So they were spending a lot of their energy there.

Whenever they got 72 hours notice, trust me, they hit high speed.
Worse condition? Thats hard to imagine. Let me clue you guys in. I actually lived in those barracks. The story was that there were going to be torn down, possible remodeled and we would move to modern barracks on Smoke Bomb Hill. Of course this was in 1981. My unit was probably responsible for that paint job, 20 years ago. Republican Congressman, Republican Senator, and 3 Republican Presidents later. We see, as usual, the Republicans just want to drape themselves with the troops. They do nothing but screw them over in favor for their corporate buddies.
$800 Million
Spent on incomplete, unlivable, never going to be used in our lifetimes, embassy in Baghdad. Why don't we ship these guys to the middle east and put them up in the U.S. embassy in Baghdad?
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Countrywide posts another $893 million dollar loss

Bad loans Soaring...Ooooo-eeeee! We keep on keeping on with this sub-prime, real-estate bubble bursting economic news. All this while Mr. Bush refuses to recognize we are in recession. His euphemisms for the disaster that is our economy are getting beyond ridiculous.

NEW YORK, April 29 (Reuters) - Countrywide Financial Corp, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, posted a surprisingly large $893.1 million first-quarter loss on Tuesday, taking more than $3 billion of charges for write-downs and bad loans as the housing slump deepens. The quarterly loss was the third straight for Countrywide, which agreed in January to be acquired by Bank of America Corp for about $4 billion. Countrywide has lost more than $2.5 billion in the nine months ended March 31.

Countrywide also faces many investigations into its lending practices, lawsuits from shareholders and borrowers, and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe into Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo's stock sales. Mozilo has denied wrongdoing. (Editing by Dave Zimmerman)
Investigations? Shocked I say! Shocked to see that there is corruption going on in this company!

Heck’ava job, Mozilo.

UPDATE: LA Times reports that Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo took in $10.8 million and cashed out $121.5 million in stock gains as his company got hammered by losses on sub-prime loans in 2007.
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SCI FI Author Larry Niven Wants to Kill Hispanics?

Larry Niven, Crackpot, Racist
Over at SadlyNo I read the sad tale of how Fatherland Homeland Security Undersecretary Jay Cohen, (Science and Technology Directorate, or Операции и технологии Директорат in the original Russian.) is putting people on a panel discussion who belong to a group called SMEGMA SIGMA. Which is a group of mentally deranged people like author Larry Niven, "Ringworld", presumably they arrived at the discussion on a itty bitty bus. Here is what our fellow American Niven had to suggest to DHS.

Niven said a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants.

“The problem [of hospitals going broke] is hugely exaggerated by illegal aliens who aren’t going to pay for anything anyway,” Niven said.

“Do you know how politically incorrect you are?” Pournelle asked.

“I know it may not be possible to use this solution, but it does work,” Niven replied.
Politically incorrect? Jerry Pournelle thinks he was being PC. Jer... He is advocated letting people die, sick people. In order to strengthen the fatherland, sound familiar?
SIGMA is the brainchild of Arlan Andrews Sr., who noted that many of the writers have advanced degrees, have jobs with the government or have been hired to advise the government in the past.
Wait, backup... Somebody took these lunatics advice in the past? You have to be kidding, oh wait, I forgot for a second, it's the Bush administration.

Makes me think of Nivens' law: There is no cause so right that one cannot find a fool following it. Too true Larry, too true.
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“Can You Smell What The Fossil Is Cookin'?”

Via Think Progress:

Soon after the New York Times published an article exploring Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) unetheical relationships with lobbyists, McCain banished reporters covering his presidential bid — who have been said to be his political “base” — to the back of his campaign airplane.

But over the weekend, McCain reversed course, hosting a “thank you” cookout on Sunday for over 40 reporters from a wide variety of news outlets — including the New York Times — at his vacation home in Arizona.

Which leads us here...



CLOSE UP - A ROARING BARBECUE GRILL full of hot dogs, ribs, and pork chops being poked at with a barbecue fork. WE HEAR the strains of Pat Boone's cover of “Good Golly, Miss Molly” tinnily keening in the background. CAMERA PULLS BACK to reveal the chef at the grill, SENATOR JOHN McCAIN in mid-joke-telling laughter while still poking at the food. We are in the sprawling backyard of his palatial spread , full of picnic tables, coolers full of drink He is surrounded by a bevy of news personalities and fellow politicos dressed in casual, hang-out gear. They are there for the grub. rHE WEARS an apron emblazoned with the phrase, “Kiss The Chef...And By All Means, Blow The Lobbyist”. He continues his joke after a trademark sniveling laugh.

JOHN McCAIN:...and-and then I told those gooks—oh wait, lemme use the PC-term for ' asian, opposition captors...who happened to be a bunch of fucking gooks, “Yes, I know, I been here long time, but for what it's worth, the accommodations still...wait for it...the accommodations are still...sucky-sucky! (gestures blow-job with hand -to-mouth several times). Get it? Come on, you guys get it! “Long time? Sucky-sucky?”

There are very few laughs at the grossly off-color “joke”. His brow furrows for a moment and then a bemused look crosses his face.

McCAIN:. But you know, my friends...(emphasised) when people are beating you senseless every day just 'cause you sport the red, white and blue, that''s when your patriotism is truly tested, .and you learn...the healing value of humor. (He pauses for a beat, then IN A HORRIBLE MOCK-ASIAN ACCENT) “Long time, sucky-sucky!”

The assembled group bursts into maniacal canned laughter. CHRIS MATTHEWS brays above the din.

MATTHEWS: Haaannh! Sweet drunken disciples...I think I fucking soiled myself! You are too good, Senator!

McCAIN: That's what the lay-tays keep telling me, right Candy?


CNN's CANDY CROWLEY horking down a mouthful of baked beans right out of the steaming pot alá Mongo from “Blazing Saddles”.

CANDY: (Dumbfounded and with a full gullet) Hmmmmmppphlllllbbbthhhht?


McCAIN: Screw it. I was throwin' you a bone. (He laughs and looks at everyone) Hey! An accidental funny. I threw Candy a bone. 'Cause y'know, she's no Norah O' Donnell if you get what I mean... (He mimes a panting dog)

There's a groan from most of the assembled.

McCAIN: (He drops the long fork and grabs at his arm) Goddamn, but my arm hurts...

The group reacts on cue and laughs again. Even Crowley, while spitting hot beans everywhere.

McCAIN: Ohhhh-kay! Who wants a wienie! Fresh off the grill!

WOLF BLITZER steps forward with his plate. He's wearing a pink polo shirt and hideous madras slacks.

McCAIN: I'll just bet you do, my friend. know the drill.

BLITZER (Sighs) Senator, must I?

McCAIN: Like always, Leslie. “Come on. Come get yer wiener, boy.”

Blitzer proceeds to get down on all fours and scuttle over in front of McCain.

McCAIN: Say it.

BLITZER: ( With a little shame) I...I want the wiener, sir.

McCAIN: (Looking down at Blitzer scornfully) Whose wiener, Leslie?

BLITZER: (Mutters) Your wienier, sir?

McCAIN: I'm sorry, I didn't get that. Say again, my friend?

BLITZER: (Barked through a rictus grin) Your wiener, sir!

McCAIN: Yer damn right you do! (He violently stuffs a wiener off the grill into Blitzer's mouth) It's good, right? You like it?

BLITZER: Stupendous, sir. Gak-k-k-k-k! (Chokes for moment) Stupendous.

McCAIN: I know you do. Who else wants some? (He swigs at a Schlitz “Tall Boy”)

With that, a frantic JOE SCARBORORUGH rushes through the crowd like a fullback, right up to McCain, knocking Blitzer several feet away.

SCARBOROUGH Me! Me! (He kneels there anxiously, eyes closed, mouth open in a smile.)


Senator McCain's wife CINDY McCAIN comes out the back door with a huge bowl of potato salad. She is in full Liz-Taylor-from-“Giant” high-falutin western girl gear—snug dark jeans, a gingham shirt and a cowgirl hat held on with a diamond tennis-bracelet strap. Her smile-locked face would make Nicole Kidman shudder in shocked disbelief. Down the steps she comes with the bowl, sunlight glinting off her hat-strap and the rhinestone-sized diamonds attached to the upper section of her shirt.

CINDY McCAIN: Tater salad for anyone who wants it!

The crowd “Mmmmm-mmmmms!”—just as much for the offered food as for her obvious natural, and “after-market” charms. Senator McCain shoots her the stink-eye and then kocks back a huge slug of suds.

McCAIN: (With an edge) Jesus Christ, woman! Can't you see it's friggin' lunchtime?

CINDY: (Quizzical) I know, John. (BEAT, but no laughter) I'm serving potato salad, not breakfast.

McCAIN: Wellllll...(Setting up a mean joke) coulda fooled me with all that goddamned pancake you came out here with! Henh-henh! (BEAT) Unnnnngh. My bayonet wound...

The group reflexively laughs again, even Cindy, who waves John off girlishly.

CINDY; Oh, John! You are a prize! A regular Avery Schreiber! (She goes to a table to dole out the salad)

McCAIN: (With a drunken edge and pushing the envelope) Hey, Cin! Katherine Harris and Aunt Jemima called! Something about...a shortage...

CINDY; (Shooting a Marcia Cross ice-dagger) Oh, you! “Shortages.” (Sighs and muses almost to herself) “How ever will we pay for this little get together? I wonder! And by the way John..I hear gas has gone up, so we're going to shut the “Straight Talk Express” down for awhile. Oh wait! You can start doing the “Straight Walk Express”, honey! How's that?

McCAIN: (Grumbling) Shutting up. Shutting the fuck up, dear. (Under his breath) Goddamned succubus...

CINDY: Excuse me, dear?

McCAIN: Can't wait to get you on the bus!, my love! You on the bus.

He laughs stiffly and then repeatedly STABS HARD at a rack of ribs on the grill as if he's trying to kill it, In his rage he flips it off the grill onto the dirt and then kicks at it angrily.

SENATOR JOHN WARNER walks up next to McCain and sees him kicking at the dirt-encrusted ribs.

JOHN WARNER: (Noting McCain's rib-kicking with a laugh) Funny, you don't look Jewish—no matter how much you pal around with 'ol “Holy Joe”.

McCAIN: (Wheeling with anger) Warner. Who the hell invited you?

WARNER: Johnny...I come here every year for this.

McCAIN: Well, I didn't Western Union you a Goddamned thing this year, Judas! So, agitate the tumbleweeds...not my friend!

WARNER: John! We've been friends too long...

McCAIN: Yer Goddamned right, my now-fucking enemy! You bailed on the war. My war! What kind of American blinks...(he slugs back more Schlitz) kicking brown-people ass, huh? We owe at least another fifty—no, make it a hundred years of brown-people ass kicking for “the 'Nam” (Then yells to all)—and by the way, my left ass-cheek hurts like holy-fucking hell even if nobody even touched me there!

The crowd roars in approval, waving American flag favors right on cue.

McCAIN (CONT'D): But you blinked Warner! You blinked like Lindsey Graham at a titty-bar! So you are wienie eater-non-grata!

WARNER: reasonable. I didn't really back down. (Nudges McCain and whispers) I pulled an “Arlen”. It's what we do...

McCAIN: (Yelling and jabbing his finger in Warner's cheat)) You son-of-a-bitch...if you don't leave here, I swear to Goldwater, I will take a hot coal off this grill and stick it, little eye!

Warner laughs it off, turning to the assembled, making the “crazy” spinning finger gesture as he turn his back on McCain.

WARNER: (Laughing) Cindy, did you put iron filings in Johnny's Postum this morning? I mean, wowee!

McCain unbeknownst to Warner has indeed picked up a hot charcoal ember with his tongs, and purple with rage waits for Warner to turn back. And the moment he does—McCain sneers and jabs the glowing briquet hard into Warner's left eye. It sizzles disgustingly.

WARNER: (Screams like a scalded dog as the assembled group gasps in horror.) Aiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! What the f-Oh my God! Oh my God! My eye! W-what have you done! My fucking eye! Omigod! You fucking lunatic! Why did you do that? Why?!!!

McCAIN: (Flipping an emotional switch to docile and dumbfounded) Do what, my friend?

WARNER: What? WHAT?! You jammed this-this Goddamned briquet in my eye! Oh God! I'm blind...I'm blind...

McCAIN: I did not do that, sir.

WARNER: Are you fucking insane? You just said “you would take a hot coal off this grill and stick it right in my beady, little eye”! And then you did it, You did it! you fucking lunatic!

McCAIN: (Totally playing it off.) I don't think I said that, my friend. And I'm fairly certain I didn't do that either.

WARNER: I-I don't believe this! You just said it. You just did it! Am-am I imagining the fact that my eye—my eye!—feels like a Ruth's Criss steak right now?

McCAIN: John, I wish I knew what to tell you, but I simply don't recall saying or doing that to you. But whatever happened, I feel just terrible about it. We should put this behind us though, and move forward...

WARNER: Move forward? Is everyone here eating mad-cow infected meat? You people saw him! You saw him do this to me! Plain as day! Oh God, I'm getting dizzy...Wolf! You saw him! I know you saw him!

BLITZER: Well, in fairness Senator Warner though you may have seen me seeing this, some people here would say that perhaps I didn't see what you think I did. Let's be fair here...

WARNER: My God. My dear, sweet God. I need to sit down. I-I'm blind. John McCain maimed and blinded me...

SCARBOROUGH: For the record, you're hardly objective here, Senator...

CINDY: Come along Senator, We'll pack that with potato salad for now, and I'll make a call or two. Money talks.You'll have a new eye by tomorrow. You don't mind if it's a brown one, do you? They're easier to get around here...

Warner staggers inside with Cindy while muttering inconsolably “He took my eye. That crazy son-of-a-bitch took my fucking eye.” all the way inside. SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN SIDLES UP to McCain, watching Warner stumble painfully into the house.

LIEBERMAN: (Clucking his tongue) Too bad about John, there. You know, it's not so much that he left the's more like...the barbecue sort of left him, I guess.

McCAIN: Indeed, my friend.

LIEBERMAN: So. Any brisket there?

McCAIN: Not right now. Plenty of pork, though. Sorry.

LIEBERMAN: (Whispers) That was for show, John. Like it really matters to me? Hit me off with a pig foot. The greasy one right there!

McCAIN: (Piling Joe's plate high) Mazel Tov, my friend.

LIEBERMAN: Yeah. Whatever. I saw some Cheez -Wiz™ around...

McCAIN: On the picnic table over there.

Cindy comes back outside with several news cameramen in tow.

CINDY: John, the camera crews are here!

McCAIN: Thanks, Cin.

HE WAVES THE CAMERA PEOPLE OVER to a large open pit, and calls everyone else to assemble over there as well.

McCAIN: My friends...may I have your attention, please! Now, as you know, no Arizona barbecue is complete without southwestern-style pulled-pork. And I think everybody here—especially my friends in the Capitol are know for having a pretty big appetite' for pork anyways, am I right?

The crowd yells a resounding “Aye!”

McCAIN: So, we're going to do it down-home it right in the ground. But first, we have to get a decent fire going to cook with. Now, as a barbecue expert, for a fire of this magnitude, I know for a fact that mere lighter fluid won't do...which is why I've trucked in a tanker full of gas from the Circle K station over on East Buckeye...

EVERYONE STEPS BACK a couple of steps at this news.

McCAIN CONT'D: Now, not to worry. Because I know what I'm talking about here. The truck is parked around the side of the house, so I have the hose from it running here. (He twists the nozzle a half-turn and the amber gasoline gushes into the hole.) You see, for a fire this size, we're going to need more than a splash or two. I figure about...150 gallons should get things going just so...

EVERYONE REALLY STEPS BACK a couple more steps—all save for Lieberman, who steps up next to McCain and feverishly whispers something in his ear.

McCAIN CONT'D: I'm...I'm sorry. I was mistaken. What I meant to say was that gasoline probably isn't the best fuel to use for this purpose, and...taking that into account my friends, 150 gallons of it would probably be just a little bit excessive...

Lieberman nods with self-satisfaction at McCain's side. The Arizona Senator TWISTS THE NOZZLE BACK only to see it snap off, and the gasoline now blasts into the pit, splashing up the sides and onto the lawn a bit.

McCAIN CONT'D:...Well, you get the picture. The general idea. I mean, it doesn't have to be gasoline per sé. The bottom line simply drops the hose into the pit with a splash as THE AIR BLURS AND SHIMMIES from the fumes.) you want a fire, you use an accelerant, it doesn't really matter which one my friends...

At this point John Warner STUMBLES OUT OF THE HOUSE, holding a clump of potato salad packed into his charred eye socket, his other hand clutching a cell phone to his ear.

WARNER: (Yelling) Cindy! The man from Mexico City says if you throw in letting a few trucks cross the border “no questions asked” he'll overnight the eye for 8 a.m. delivery tomorrow and—(He stumbles on the steps) God-damn...depth perception! Whoops!

Warner plows straight into the grill, knocking it over—ribs, wieners and coals a' tumbling across the lawn. Joe Scarborough valiantly throws himself between the coals and the near-full pit, blocking them while taking horrible punishment doing so. He wails in agony as he makes the ultimate sacrifice. All look on in horror at the sight, and a few quickly put on flag pins and lower their heads. Chris Matthews falls to his knees in prayer, practically bawling.

MATTHEWS; My God! This was just supposed to be a barbecue! And now it's a tragedy! An Amercan tragedy! Who would've thunk this thing'd end up with all of us...“choke!” Mourning Joe!

As the assembled solemnly lower their heads, one stray briquet rolls off the prone Scarborough's body and tumbles lazily towards the gas pit. WE SEE IT ROLLING IN SLO-MO as flecks of orange heat cling to it as it rolls ever closer to the pit. STILL IN SLO-MO, Blitzer sees it and screams “INCOMING!” in deep-pitched SLOWED-DOWN AUDIO and dives away with the rest of the press and politicos, save for McCain and Lieberman, who resolutely stand at the pit's edge, hugging in a grieving embrace. Just as the coal lips the pit's edge, Lieberman sees it, eyes widening for a moment and then closing tightly as his embrace of McCain does as well. WE GO BACK TO REGULAR SPEED.

LIEBERMAN: (Lips against McCain's ear) I've always loved you.

The coal drops in—and there is a flash of light and the roar of a thousand blast furnaces. A massive pillar of fire shoots skyward as McCain and Lieberman disappear in the sudden conflagration. Matthews' face is sunburned a deep and permanent red from being caught unawares by th eheat flash. Blitzer in spite of his last-ditch scramble has his beard singed off, revealing an odd, inverted cleft in his chin, as if a scrotum had been pressed there long enough to indent. Cindy's face literally melts like a peach-colored Crayola crayon. Most survive, but palatial Casa de McCain goes up like a lobbyist's skirt in a junket airplane's restroom. CLOSE-UP on the roaring wall of flames.






MSNBC PLUGS THE SAME STORY—live shot depicting the blaze from helicopter-car-chase level, with photos of Candy Crowley and Cindy McCain inset and the word “MISSING!” under them. CHYRON READS: “OMG! WHERE ARE THEY?



FOX'S TAKE ON ARIZONA FIRE STORY—visual depicting the blaze in a split-screen where the other picture is a shot of from the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco also going up in flames. CHYRON READS: “WACO II? CLINTON TIES PROBED, UNNAMED SOURCES SAY.”


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I Believe The Term Is, “Sweat Like A Pig”?

“Hello Karl-O...”

I'm no behavioral scientist, but after we dealt with the tale of Karl Rove's uh...“people's” seeming over-reaction to “60 Minutes' airing of an interview with Don Siegelman—a.k.a. someone who is rapidly earning the moniker of “The Wrong Man To Have Fucked With”, it would appear that our favorite porcine protagonist appears to be getting a bit hotter under his wattle-spilled collar.

Via Crooks and Liars and Dan Abrams' “Verdict”:

So what happens when a journalist actually does his/her job and exposes corruption at the highest levels of our government? They get complaint letters from the criminals they exposed. Abrams detailed tonight that he received a 5-page letter from Rove complaining about the great reporting he’s been doing on the political prosecution of Don Siegelman.

“Today the House Judiciary Committee asked Rove to testify under oath about the case. But just last week, we asked Rove‘s attorney, Robert Luskin, in an E-mail whether Rove would testify if subpoenaed by congress. His attorney said, quote, 'Sure. Although it seems to me that the question is somewhat offensive. It assumes he has something to hide even though Gov. Siegelman‘s uncorroborated assertions aside, there is literally no credible evidence whatsoever to substantiate his charges.'

Now under pressure from congress, Luskin has completely backtracked, telling roll call, quote, 'Whether, when and about what a former White House official will testify is not for me or my client to decide but is part of an ongoing negotiation between the White House and congress over executive privilege issues.'

Since Rove has said he had no conversations with the White House about it, what is the executive privilege here? Rove also sent me an angry five-page letter yesterday suggesting all sorts of questions he thinks I could have and should have asked various guests in the program including the former governor himself.

But he only suggested questions, no answers.
We‘ll probably talk more about that letter later and I‘ll be responding to Mr. Rove.

Mr. Rove, this is your opportunity to answer under oath many of the questions you suggest I should have asked. Your attorney had said in no uncertain terms you would testify. We have the E-mail. And since you seemed determine to get to the truth, I would think you would embrace this opportunity to testify to congress.

We are not going to let this story die. A jury found Don Siegelman guilty. But if his prosecution was driven by partisans after him because he was a Democrat, in this case needs to be revisited, and an appellate court has ruled it will be.

Counsel Robert Luskin's letter to Abrams on behalf of Rove—a five-page jobbie(!)—absolutely reeks of the same panicky over-reaction shown in the nutty string pulling that got Siegelman's damning “60 Minutes” interview blanked in half of Alabama. Seems pretty bent out of shape over things Abrams didn't actually say in his report. Oopsie! For all the bluster about the cool and calm and confidence of Rove, one cannot help but notice a strange hypersensitivity on this particular issue. There's an over-compensation at play here and a sloppy one at that. Blackouts? Five-page letters to a program that half the “Countdown” audience tunes out of?? Hmmmm...

Why, if I didn't know better, I'd be tempted to say that in Rove's supposed “post”-political career (Yes, I put “post” in scare-quotes. I'd take note of the decidedly Rovian ad-pushes in the still crimson-necktied North Carolina and other potential swing states. It's almost as if his team is trying to get their shots in now—peculiarly early—for some reason. Maybe someone's worried that there may be more pressing fish to fry come general-election crunch-time), hastened by an oddly-timed resignation and a lame-duck administration that inspires outright derision and not a worry of retribution, there may be actual concern about the freshly emboldened people out gunning for him.

You see...when you “ratfuck” enough people for a long enough time, the odds are that at some point, the law of averages will out, and you yourself may feel the not-so-gentle-probings of rodentis phallicus. Siegelman's down for the “slam-bam” and has no interest in lube or sweet talk. It would appear that others aren't terribly concerned with the mess that is sloppy seconds either. Via Newsweek:

The trial of Chicago developer and political fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko has been closely watched for any mention of the defendant's onetime friend, Barack Obama. But last week, prosecutors threw a curveball, telling the judge that one of their witnesses is prepared to raise the name of another prominent Washington hand: Karl Rive. Former Illinois state official Ali Ata is expected to testify about a conversation he had with Rezko in which the developer alleged Rove was "working with" a top Illinois Republican to remove the Chicago U.S. attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald.

The allegation, which Rove denies, quickly reverberated in Washington. Democrats in Congress now want to question Ata. They believe he can help buttress their theory that Rove played a key role in discussions that led to the firings of U.S. attorneys at the Justice Department in 2006. The House Judiciary Committee "intends to investigate the facts and circumstances alleged in this testimony," panel chairman Rep. John Conyers of Michigan said in a statement to NEWSWEEK.

Investigators are intrigued by the timing of the alleged conversation about Fitzgerald. According to the Rezko prosecutors, it took place in November 2004—weeks after Fitzgerald had subpoenaed Rove to testify for the third time in another matter he was aggressively investigating, the Valerie Plame CIA leak case. A source familiar with Ata's testimony (who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters) said that Ata was meeting regularly with Rezko that fall. The two men shared a concern about Fitzgerald's ongoing probe of Illinois public officials. In one of those conversations, the developer allegedly told Ata that Bob Kjellander, a prominent GOP state lobbyist, was talking to Rove about getting rid of Fitzgerald. The reason: to "get a new U.S. attorney" who would not pursue the Illinois corruption probe, the source said. Ata, who has pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges and is now cooperating with the Feds, has no evidence that the conversation took place other than what Rezko allegedly told him, the source says. say the least. But Rove according to the article denies the allegation whole-heartedly. Until that is, his all-over-the-place ass-coverer lawyer Luskin decided that statement should be...well, qualified just a bit. The categorical denial shifted to that old standby of soap-opera amnesia victims and pressured White House hacks “I don't recall” when it came down to GOP bigwig Kjellander's pressing him on Fitzgerald's removal.

And then, Luskin tried to hop into the DeLorean yet again, to go back in time and “fix” things...

I (Paul Kiel of TPM—ed. note) spoke to Luskin just now, and he said that his statement ought to be qualified a bit: his statement on Kgellander stands as is, he said, but during the independent counsel investigation, he said, Rove was "frequently" approached about canning Fitzgerald: "a number of people approached Karl and suggested that Fitzgerald be removed because of the alleged politicization of the investigation, but he never took any follow-up steps except to say that I can't talk about that. He didn't want to do anything seen as compromising Fitzgerald's independence." Those approaches, Luskin said, came during fundraisers or other political events "in an unsolicited way.... Karl simply never responded and did not take any action."

That is an awful lot of frantic ass-covering isn't it? Like a butt-nekkid Charles Barkley trying to stitch a pair of bermudas from a single square of Charmin. It's interesting to note that this was supposed to be Rove's freeing “cool-out” time where he could lay back without having to deal with the day-to-days of shtupping two other government branches in the pooper and instead freelance as an as-needed, Ratfucker Emeritus—doing the neccessary odd bit of craven evil to minimize Democratic gains this election cycle and to steal votes at the presidential-level wherever possible. Having to deal with pesky, subpoena-level shit like this was not part of the game plan. And it resurrects all sorts of ugliness, like the U/S. Attorneys scandal, and the specter of GOP criminality as we enter the stretch run of election season.

It's a perfect storm of distraction for the GOP's one-time ace (remember “The Math?”) message master and vote rainmaker. And from the looks of his clunky and ham-fisted responses to these things, they may wind up as more than just “distractions”. Yes, Luskin will do his lawyerly best to stall, dodge and clog up the works to try and keep Rove's incendiary hands off any Bibles between now and January 20th 2009, but I think people tend to get a liitle bolder when they feel a bully can't hurt 'em any more.

I think you'll hear Rove's name come up in a few more stories in ways that'll put him even more on the defensive as the months trundle on. Whether there'll be enough dimes dropped to maka a dollar remains to be seen. But a simple law of science is that oil and water do not mix—and a once-greasy,impossible to catch pig is now starting to sweat a little. Sweat's mostly water last time I checked.

Catch a piggie by the toe...if he hollers, don't let him go...
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Missing: Lobbyist Vicki Iseman

69 Days
since Vicki Iseman went missing. Where is she, what does she have to say about her relationship with Johnny Free-Ride McCain? Can you imagine if the press were not able to interview AmericaHater© Jeremiah Wright? or if they were not able to find Monica back in the day? Where is Vicki? Free Mumia Vicki!

h/t to Bollox Ref
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More Mike. This one for our own amazing, wonderful, smart, funny, beloved Jen! She's the one.

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McCain: 100 Years In Iraq

The wingnuts are all faux-raged that poor Johnny Free-Ride is being misquoted on being in Iraq for 100 years. Watch this video, all the way to the end.

He clearly intends to stay in Iraq. Its ridiculous for him to follow up his comments with "but without casualties". He won't say permanent bases, but says we need to stay for 50, 100, or 10,000 years. We will never have permanent bases in Iraq. Never. Certainly not without casualties. That's a fantasy. He clearly intends to stay no matter what. That is his intention. If he becomes president, we will stay in Iraq for 100 years. Magically, the killing will stop. Except it won't.

John McCain supports a 100 year war in Iraq.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Syrian Nuclear Weapons Plant

It's fairly clear that the Syrians were building a nuclear weapons plant. It was the Syrian reaction to the Israeli bombing that were the strongest indicators to me. Not just the lack of outrage, but the bulldozing of the site and building on top of it.

I recommend the post by Professor Foland at EmptyWheel's blog.

If there's one thing I've learned over the course of this Administration, it's that if Dana Perino one day announces that the sky is blue, I will be forced to assume that an alien invasion has commenced with the total ionization of Earth's upper atmosphere.

With that in mind, there's an awful lot of cognitive dissonance for me in analyzing the evidence on the raid (apparently named "Operation Orchard" by the Israelis) on a Syrian desert site (apparently named "Al-Kibar"). Having started my own blog motivated by "the incredible amount of lies & hyperbole on the Iran situation of early 2006", I don't find it easy to accept anything this Administration puts forth as evidence. I'm having all this difficulty because the pictures they showed last Thursday are clearly pictures of a nuclear reactor. --Syriana

He is fairly well convinced also. There is some argument for people who live in a resource free environment needing nuclear power, but a weapons plant next to Israel is not happening.

The North Korean connection is much, much weaker tea. I suppose we will hear next that the Iranians helped them in some way. Oh and that Sadr guy, and Pelosi!
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Lilly Ledbetter and Anti Discrimination

The senate could not get to 60 + votes to even get this important legislation to the debate phase, upholding the Supreme court's "You snooze, you lose." decision against Lilly Ledbetter.

Cloture Motion; Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 - Vote Rejected (56-42, 2 Not Voting) The Senate fell short of the sixty votes necessary to proceed to debate on H.R. 2831, a bill that effectively overturns a recent Supreme Court decision concerning pay discrimination litigation.

H.R.2831 basically takes on the recent Supreme Court decision that railroaded Goodyear Tire employee Lilly Ledbetter after she had been subjected to years of pay discrimination. That the discrimination had occurred does not seem to be in question at all. But finding a loophole in the 1964 civil rights act was the order of the day for Justice Roberts and Co. All this in support of hallowed corporate America.
The Legislation:
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other anti-discrimination laws to clarify at which points in time discriminatory actions qualify as an “unlawful employment practice.” According to the legislation, unlawful conduct occurs when: “(1) a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted; (2) an individual becomes subject to the decision or practice; or (3) an individual is affected by application of the decision or practice, including each time compensation is paid.” The law further states that individuals may receive back pay as compensation for discrimination that occurred up to two years preceding the filing of a charge.

The Background ;(from
Americans need the protection of strong anti-discrimination laws to ensure that they are treated fairly by employers. But the mere existence of these laws is not sufficient: the practical ability to enforce them in a meaningful way is crucial. By clarifying a technicality in employment discrimination law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act deters discriminatory practices in the workplace and ensures that when discrimination does occur, wronged employees can receive fair compensation.

This legislation clarifies that employment discrimination law should be interpreted the way courts have traditionally understood it – until the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a more restrictive interpretation in the 2007 Ledbetter V. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. decision. In this case, the Court ruled that plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter was not eligible for compensation despite years of being paid far less than her male peers and even some male subordinates. According the Court, unlawful discrimination had occurred only when her employer first set the discriminatory pay rate, even though Ledbetter had no way of knowing about it until years later. Under this ruling, since Ledbetter’s employer was able to conceal the discrimination for years and she did not find out about the discrimination until it was too late to file a complaint (within 180 days of the first discriminatory paycheck, according to the Court), she had no legal recourse.

By reaffirming that a fresh discrimination offense occurs each time an individual is impacted by a discriminatory practice, including each paycheck that includes unfair compensation, this legislation effectively reverses the Supreme Court’s harmful decision and ensures that people subjected to discrimination in the future will continue to have effective recourse to the law.
That we need to even have this clarification is a tragedy and symbol of the weakening of the middle class, the disparity of wealth and more importantly power, and the need for a democratic president ASAP. Most experts think that the next president will be replacing 2-3 justices. Do we want Sen. McSame making those choices? Can any of us afford that? "Uniquely American " will mean working 3 jobs where employers can treat you unfairly and you have less and less of a chance to fight back.

A little more on Lilly's case;
Year in which Ledbetter received a “Top Performance” award from the company: 1996

Amount Lilly Ledbetter was paid per month in 1997, the last full year she worked for Goodyear Tire Co.: $3,727

Amount the lowest paid of the 15 men doing similar work for the company was paid per month in 1997: $4,286

Median annual earnings for U.S. full-time, year-round, male workers in 2006: $42,261

Median annual earnings for U.S. full-time, year-round, female workers in 2006: $32,515

My industry is run by men. Chefs and GM's are mostly men, and women have a hard time moving up in the hotel and restaurant business. But this kind of thing affects all of us, and our daughters. If you haven't checked out yet, give it a look- great for researching and reading more about this and all other legislation your congresscritters are voting on.
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Portishead Returns

New album out on April 29th. After a decade... phew.

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The Real Deal: What Can You Count On?

Commenter Cee notes in a previous thread:

I've been talking to friends about this the past few weeks.
I told them they need to find men who know how to do stuff like welding, carpentry, hunting, gardening and survival things. LOL!!
Pretty boys and the unskilled aren't going to make in the times that are coming.

The comment got me thinking (and thinking often leads to blog posts, so there ya go). I grew up in the country, where the kinds of survival skills Cee talks about were non-optional -- if only because our little burg of 5,000 souls had the only stoplight for 170 miles in any direction. (Going east, it was 700 miles across Nevada, all the way into Salt Lake City.)

It was rough, remote country. Everything we had came from Far Yonder by truck, and parts took forever to get. Which meant that if something broke, you had to find a way to fix it. If you were hungry, the food was in the creek or the field. If you wanted something pretty that wasn't in the Sears catalog, your choices were a) getting in the car and driving five hours to the city; or b) making it yourself.

So I grew up in a family full of handy people who sewed their own clothes, beaded their own moccasins, built their own sheds, shod their own horses, grew their own food, and worked on their own cars. And it wasn't just us: it was everybody in town. People who had good practical DIY skills had a higher quality of life. Churches and service clubs were, in large measure, informal barter co-ops within which those skills got shared for both the mutual and greater good.

Remembering what it was like to grow up like that got me taking stock of the essential survival skills I'm taking into this time of contraction. The list so far:

  • Fearless and creative with a sewing machine. Can make coats, hats, and shoes
  • Know lots about preserving food (canning, freezing, pest management, etc.)
  • Competent beginning knitter; better than that with a crochet hook
  • Basic horse sense (that is, sense with horses). Also good with dogs
  • Own good haircutting shears and know how to use them
  • Dead shot with fire rifles, handguns, and semi-automatic weapons
  • Can catch and gut fish
  • Know how to garden. I hate it, but I can do it.
  • Basic outdoor survival skills known to hikers and backpackers everywhere: shelter and firebuilding, finding safe food and water, dealing with critters and weather
  • Can make even basic environments (e.g. campsites) liveable and handsome
  • Encyclopedic knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs
  • Know how to live on country property: drainage, wells, septic, tree removal, erosion control, etc. etc. etc.
  • Can drive a large truck, RV, or tractor

Making this odd little list is an illuminating exercise, and one I'd recommend to all of us as we look ahead to a failing economy and $200 oil. It's related to the Real Deal conversation, in that it's asking the question: What do we possess that will endure? What resources do we have that we can count on when the larger systems that sustain us fail? What can we share with our neighbors in exchange for access to their resources? Only this time, the question is: what do we carry in our heads and hands that will enrich us when the world no longer will?

What's on your list? Add it to the comments. And include a note about what skills you'd like to pick up in the near future. Me, I'd like to get better at gardening, and I'm very curious about how to raise chickens.

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Real Democrats don't do FOX

From Robert Greenwald on Terri McAuliffe promoting FOX

It is deeply detrimental to the longterm interests of democracy when Democrats praise and support FOX News. This would be true regardless of who that Democrat is, but it's particularly heinous when Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is singing their praises.

these people. sheesh. Take action here.
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Now For Something Completely Different

An Anti-Grizzly Suit Test.

This fella was attacked by Grizzlies and then built a suit to protect himself from nature's deadliest fur friends. This video is just one of the "tests" that he performed, on himself. After watching this, you have to find the video where one of his friends hits him with a pickup truck and he flies 20-30 feet into the air.
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Afghani President Karzai Almost Assassinated, 1 Dead, 11 Wounded in Attack

President Hamid Karzai survived an assassination attempt at a military parade in central Kabul on Sunday, when suspected Taliban insurgents fired mortars and bullets at the dignitaries assembled in the spectator stand.

One person was killed and 11 injured in the incident, Gen. Zaher Azimi, a military spokesman, confirmed soon afterward. Two parliamentarians in a section of the stands not far from the president were seen falling from their chairs on television footage as gunfire rang out.

Well, now that Super Dave Petraeus is in charge of Afghanistan too, maybe we can see some resources being applied to this situation. There is almost 800 KIA there, half of which were U.S. forces. This one has been ramping over the past couple of years. Because of typically incompetent handling by Bush and Cheney.

It takes some real skill to fuck up a war, two wars is unheard of. That takes real talent. One of the reasons that we can't fix either of these is that we have split our attention between the two. We are sending some of our best units to Afghanistan, 82nd Airborne, 10th Mountain Div., a lot of Special Forces, etc. People we really could use in Iraq. Now we have the Taliban staging operations in broad daylight with tons of Afghani troops around. Karzai was lucky. Sure the White House will be spinning tomorrow but this was bad, very bad. We are getting nowhere. Nowhere.
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pain of a different sort

I know some vets, recent ones, and folks still dealing from Vietnam, Korea, even WWII- they are a breed apart in so many ways, have been through things I can't even imagine. And when I do try to imagine it, a big black hole seems to open up somewhere between my stomache and my heart-- and I feel overwhelmed. What we do to people in the name of nationalism, security, defense, peacekeeping and every other reason for war, what we do to the people... it is dark and painful and crazy.

Senator: VA lying about number of veteran suicides
By Les Blumenthal McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The Veterans Administration has lied about the number of veterans who've attempted suicide, a senator charged Wednesday, citing internal e-mails that put the number at 12,000 a year when the department was publicly saying it was fewer than 800.

"The suicide rate is a red-alarm bell to all of us," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Murray also said that the VA's mental health programs are being overwhelmed by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, even as the department tries to downplay the situation.
read the rest here.
The story goes on to talk about how a big part of the problem is that if the information is kept secret, the urgency for solutions will be diminshed.

I have these vets in my life. All of them show signs of ptsd. I worry for all of them. And a little discussed factor in our current quagmire in Iraq is that new wars open old wounds. It is not just the folks coming back from Iraq or Afghanastan now that are trying to deal.

Vets hear the war news we see and read everyday from a totally different place. A vulnerable place that leaves them dealing with their own anger and demons. And pile on to that the fact that we were lied to going into this war, and that they are not providing armor and supplies to our soldiers... it is a ptsd stimulous package for sure.

This post is just me fighting back my own black hole on these issues, and agonizing over those (at least) 11,200 unreported suicide attempts in a year. A huge challenge of our next administration is going to be to take care of our vets, to FULLY FUND every support program that they need. And we all need to be helping make that happen.

A recommendation, if you know any vets, tell them to get involved with the VFW. The folks I know have really found it comforting and liberating, though sometimes painful, to be able to talk to vets like them. And they help and understand each other in a million ways.
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Pain: Pt. 3

Meta Watershed: LOL Weekly Roundup

“Ouch!” (We're still healing...)

Quick update on your intrepid bloggers. And other notes.

LM had his dental surgery Thursday as scheduled.

Lots of ice, rest, taking his meds, watching old comedies, being a good patient.

He's recovering well, if posting a tad too much while still in pain. (And yes, as he pointed out, the Sean Bell verdict came in when it did. So he posted. Still. Take it easy, dammit. You're recovering from fracking surgery. “Doc” has spoken.)

*waves to LM sweetly*

As for me, I met with the pain doc Tuesday as scheduled. I am also recovering, and hope to resume a quarter-normal posting schedule late next week.

We -- my medical team and I -- think we have a fix, but it's been three, increasingly long months. Last month was the worst month I can remember having in, well, a long time. Probably a year and a half, back while I was still not myself quite yet. Pain is rated on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst. Each month when you visit the pain doctor, you answer a number of different question sets, in order to draw out a baseline over time.

One of these questions sets is:

What is your current pain level?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

What was your worst pain in the last week?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

What was your least pain in the last week?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

What was your average pain in the last week?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Normally, I average -- this, mind you, even with all the medications I take -- about a 4. We try and keep me in a range where I don't peak above 6, with lows of 0-2 pain; that's a good week (month.) This is normal for me, as much as I have a normal.

Three months ago my minimum pain was 4 with breakthrough pain up to 8. Two months ago I averaged 6 with peaks to 8. Last month I averaged 8 peaking to 10. Everyone who is around me closely, noticed. Bad month. Bad. *smiles*

This month my pain doc and I aren't getting fancy, we're just hitting the pain head on with more of the same drugs already known to work with me. So far, so good. My pain levels are dropping and associated issues are getting back under control.

If all goes well, sometime next week, I'll likely start posting again. Not at my normal pace; taking it easy. Now I'm still waiting to see if the meds really do bring the pain levels all the way back down to normal.

'Cause we sure as hell don't want the pain levels going up to an eleven.

Hmmm... I wrote about that once.

Group News Blog

“Ooooowww... Fuck!”

Furthermore, the numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven. Most blokes you know, will be torturing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten. Where can you go from there? Where? Nowhere. Exactly. What we do with the Raytheon ray-gun if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? Put it up to eleven. Exactly. One more painful.

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Bottom line... If you need time to get well, take it.

The rule at GNB is, wellbeing comes first. Period.

All of us at one time or another have taken a break to handle life issues. We love journalism, and we love you, but in order to do any of that, we must take care of ourselves -- and honor our parents, too. (Yes, I did talk with my Mom today, thanks for asking. And thanks again for those wonderful photos from your trip to Tucson. [That was a shout out to a regular whom I'm not going to mention.] But if you take a trip to Tucson, you can score with me by sending photos. I'm just saying I miss Tucson. Still. Always.)

People ask me sometimes, “what is it that makes GNB fundamentally different from other blogs?” Is it that people here are so smart? Or classy? That our men and women are so damn sexy? Our military coverage?

All these help. And yes, we inherited Steve's legacy. But more than all this, it's that at Group News Blog, we are profoundly committed to making sure people are left taken care of, in the interactions they have here. A year ago right now, the heart of who GNB is now was forming, as we worked together to make sure communication stayed in, and that everyone was taken care of, that people remembered to breathe.

You're our people.

We're in our tenth month, and committed to taking care of you.

Thank you for being here.
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Dogs Lick Themselves, Water Is Wet, Oh Yeah...And The Sun Can Be Hot.

Lost The Bet On When It Would End, But Hey...Nobody's Perfect...

From the department of “Who didn't see this coming?”...

Nearly three and half years after they swapped “I dos” at their corporate-sponsored wedding, Star Jones and Al Reynolds are calling it quits. The National Enquirer reports the legal diva sent Al his walking papers a month ago.

A rep for Jones says the report is false, but the Enquirer goes on to say, “They hadn’t been seeing eye to eye for months and had already spent a great deal of time apart,” a friend of the couple told the Enquirer. “Finally, Star decided it was over. She told Al at the end of January that he had 30 days to get his act together or ‘get out.”

The Enquirer spoke to another insider who confirmed the breakup and revealed Star’s intention to make it permanent. “Star is planning to divorce Al.” As for reason behind the split, the source added, “I think Star felt Al had spent their marriage riding her success while she did all the heavy lifting.”

The MSNBC report from above is pretty kind and steers away from the delicious, gossipy luridness of what was going down—or rather...NOT going down between the endsville-headed pair. The 'round-the-way, hard-core grime can be found in other places...

As tempting as it is for Pollyanna Jones to turn all of this heartache into a refreshing batch of divorceade, the New Star, a persona refined on her short-lived Court TV talk show, would never seek to pair the end of her marriage with crass sponsorships. Much to media and trial-watchers' chagrin, there will therefore be no free samples of Cinnabon, Herbal Essences, and OUT magazine distributed during custody hearings over the fate of the couple's only child, their much fussed-upon maltese, Pinky.

I freely admit to being in a circle of friends who casually took bets on how long the marriage would last. My number was eighteen months. Turns out Star and Al lasted a little more than twice that.

Yes...a lot of Black folks had money on when this square-wheeled “Le Car” of a marriage would wind up in a ditch belching smoke and flames.

Now, why do I focus on this salacious little story? Well, number one, my lower right jaw feels like Smokin' Joe Frazier's been blasting left hooks into it all day. (Mmmmmmmmmm. Gum surgery...) and a gossip tidbit is easier on the brain to write on than politics and all that. And two, it's a tawdry tale a lot of folks I roll with had been shaking their heads over even before the marriage took place.

It was a real-life season of “Flavor of Love” embarrassingly playing out for all the world to see. The kind of thing that average, working-stiff Black folks cringe at because of the stupidity's public spectacle. Good old American racial myopia brings that guilt in Black folks on. Against common sense, we get the feeling that the race as a whole is judged based on the spectacular flame-outs of our celebrities. We're looked at through the O.J.-violent-n*gger prism—when we're not being cast through the 24-hour clown persona of a Flavor Flav. The Bill O'Reilly “Where's my mother-fuckin' iced tea?” ramble comes from ancient stereotypes, but just as much from the crack-infused, Tourette's-ravings of the unplugged and unhinged Whitney Houston we discovered via her “reality” show.


So yes, we cringe when the more prominent folks in “the community” proudly and loudly shit the bed for all the world to see. People who you think would be intelligent enough to make better choices or just have the common sense God gave a gnat. Star's nuptial flame-out was especially ugly as it was just another one in a long line of “WTF were they thinking?” public relationship gaffes that give folks cover to demean us as fucking idiots as a whole when our so-called prominent folk self-implode.

My friend “T” calls this strain of the problem “The D.A.D. Syndrome”. “D.A.D.” standing for “Dumb Ass Diva.

“Fucking Judy Garland...she couldn't see Vincente Minnelli didn't bat exclusively for her team? Then that Mark (Herron) dude. The guy was living with his lover when Judy met him, and when they broke up, he went back to living with a dude, Hel-o-o-o-o-o-o! Dumb! Then Liza, her daughter hooks up with Peter Allen? “I Go To Rio?” You think she'd have learned, but I guess it's hereditary because 25 years later, who's she down the aisle with—David Gest! David-fucking-Gest? These are supposed to be smart women! I mean, look at Terry McMillan. A writer. Got her finger on the pulse and whatnot. Speakin' to the inner hurt sisters feel. And she hooks up with a dude who everybody was tellin' her was absolutely not the right man for her—then immortalized the mess of a relationship in a movie! 'Your man is gay! Your man is gay!' 'La-la-la-la-laaaaa! I can't hear you!' Look what happened—the shit was true. Right down to his gaming homegirl outta her money. Now Star comes along...with big, gay Al! And everybody's telling her tacky ass, 'Your man is gay! Your man is gay! Trust me on this—I slept with him and my name is Ralph!' Does she listen? After Terry's hell? She's a former prosecutor, right? Smart woman, right? Bzzzzzzzzt! Nope! Marries him, trashed her rep on “the View” with her tacky-ass 'Hook me up sponsors!' wedding to the bum. Now look at her. A laughing-stock. A total laughing-stock behind this...shit. She knew better. Everybody with a brain knew better. Still...

Our talk went on to the “whys” of these situations. Why make such obvious and clearly destructive relationship choices? I know that deep down, everybody just wants someone to love them. That's as old as time immemorial. But you don't pick an over-the-top loser to be that love provider, do you? Unless as “T” said, you have deep, deep self esteem issues and subconsciously insist on being perceived by others as the one in the relationship who is the more committed, the more loving one.

The W.H. Auden poem “The More Loving One” popped into my head when I thought about that idea. I used to see it posted in subway cars all the time for the city's “Poetry In Motion” campaign, and the words stuck with me...

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

It's a crazy power-play. A way to as Jerry Seinfeld put it to maintain “Hand”—as in the upper hand in a relationship. You pick a loser who doesn't love you and is incapable of loving you as much as you love him, because in the end, they make you look good. Steadman. Jonathan. Al.

I know it. Behind every proud and preening macho man is a scared little boy for whom women are still in many ways a dark and scary mystery. There was a lot of that in me. And it manifested itself in the choices I made in mates. I didn't go for the sane and sedate types who were easy to live with—no. My choices were the most difficult and high-maintenance types possible. The more ornery the diva the better. Temperamental singers. Mercurial performers. Batshit actresses. Not the sane ones in those already tough fields, but the most glamorous, attractive and damn-near certifiable of the lot. I nearly married an opera singer for whom a falling pencil was an avalanche of rocks that kept her awake. Who would not talk to me but wrote long, elaborate notes on audition or performance days lest her voice be abused by asking me to pass the honey or some such trifle. Who had a meltdown because a particular hair scrunchie of hers was missing and the outfit she was wearing to a newspaper interview absolutely required it.

Yeah, I got the subway to 72nd Street to Love Pharmacy to get the particular scrunchie. But dammit, she was mine. I was proving my mettle by dealing with the demanding one's whims. I was “the more loving one”.

My pathological desire for people who I knew were no good for me even extended to pop culture. On the TV show “Girlfriends” I was smitten with the selfish, creepy and mean “Toni Childs” as played by Jill Marie Jones. On Will & Grace, it was the drunken, doped-up, rambunctious she-devil Karen as played by the yummy Megan Mullally who floated my boat big time.

Lord love a mess.

We often make the choices we make for reasons. We're not necessarily always unwitting dupes of crafty Svengalis out to steal our love. I know I wasn't. And people much smarter and more successful than me do the same silly stuff in very public forums. This is about control and wanting to be known as “the good person” in the relationship. Now granted, my choices weren't quite as extreme as Terry's and Star's—picking, and in essence buying someone who wasn't pre-disposed to be into 'em any-damn-way. My paramours were women who were massively difficult (and who I admittedly got a charge out of trying to “tame”.)—not posers who were gaming me for a payday while living double lives “across the fence”. But in the end, I wanted the same sort of thing Terry and Star wanted—Seinfeldian “Hand”. I spent some time in therapy dealing with that issue, and my therapist—no crafty “Dr. Melfi”, he—didn't take long before noting and calling me on my “pattern” and strongly suggested that I train my sights on partners who were not quite so “selfishly intense”.

“Try a regular person for once.— he said. “There are pretty and intelligent women out there who won't scream at you and throw hairbrushes through aquariums at you. You may even find you'll like them.”

He was right.

How, if I could get help for my latent relationship stupid, (inexpensive help too, in spite of his 'round-the-corner-from Carnegie-Hall-office) is it possible that these bold and dynamic (not that that makes them great people, mind you) women can't seem to get their inner “Partner-ometer™” calibrated better? As “T” would later say “The 'D' can't be that good, can it? I mean, damn!”

My friend “S” won the circle's bet on the marriage's length. She figured on three years—with the last year lived mostly apart. Pretty damned close. Down to the living apart. She missed on her guess that Star would catch Al in bed with the cable guy, or the pool boy, or an “I'll show you!” Steadman Graham.

At least...I hope she missed.
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Friday, April 25, 2008

Let the sun shine in

I was a huge Soul Coughing fan. huge. And I have had eternal respect and love for Mike. I like his spoken word, his poems, his mind and his talent. He now puts that effort toward this message. And he is releasing it without his record co. though he likes them, because of his feelings about this needless war and death, ptsd and all the other suffering that is and will be a part of this ongoing travesty in Iraq. (h/t to jason my writing friend)

Bex Schwartz directed this video for "Fort Hood." We made it together, without the record company, because we wanted to get a message out there, about young people whose bodies and minds are still being damaged in Iraq.

Actually, by posting it here, and making it available on YouTube, and embeddable, we're bumming the record company out. They liked it when we showed it to them, and wanted to coordinate a whole marketing and radio campaign about it.

(And much respect to them--ATO are fantastic people, I'm grateful to be on their team.)

We were going to wait, and let them do their thing, but I watched the primary last night, and hearing Obama and Hillary snark at each other while this terrible nightmare is still going on, I realized I didn't want to wait.

It's up at AOL Spinner right now, and soon will be on Stereogum; we'd be humbled and grateful if you guys put it on your profiles; we'd like to get our message out. Thank you. Posted by Mike at April 23, 2008 7:44 PM
and this quote
The album’s most political song is “Fort Hood.” It borrows its chorus from “The Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In),” a song from the seminal ‘60s musical Hair. The drama of the song’s Gospel-influenced arrangement is intensified by Kirby’s sanctified keyboard work and Doughty’s snarling vocal.

“Fort Hood is the Texas Army base that has lost the most troops in the Iraq War,” Doughty says. “I visited some of the wounded troops at Walter Reed Hospital in D.C. and wondered what was going through their minds. When I first thought about using ‘Let the sunshine in…’ as the chorus, I thought it would be funny, but when I sang it, I felt myself tearing up.

[‘Let the Sunshine In’] draws an obvious parallel to past quagmires, and all the vets who are suffering from PTSD. Once again the damage being done will not only be in lives lost, but in how those losses affect family, friends and society as a whole.

The bridge laments the fact that instead of going to the prom, they’ve been given a burden they’re going to have to live with forever.”
Let the sun shine in.

Send mike some love. Buy Golden Delicious here.
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Of Course...

Photo by Jofhus Lott/Reuters

NY Judge Hands Down Not Guilty Verdict in Sean Bell Shooting Death

As I'm coming out of a blended pain and drug haze from dental surgery yesterday, I wanted to keep things light and easy post-wise. I didn't want to have to tackle something as politically, socially and most of all emotionally loaded as this story, dealing with my own small travails, this case's winding down to a finish in the last 72 hours necessitated it. The brutal news:

Three detectives were found not guilty Friday morning on all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens.

Justice Arthur J. Cooperman, who delivered the verdict, said many of the prosecution’s witnesses, including Mr. Bell’s friends and the two wounded victims, were simply not believable. “At times, the testimony of those witnesses just didn’t make sense,” he said.

His verdict prompted several supporters of Mr. Bell to storm out of the courtroom, and screams could be heard in the hallway moments later. The three detectives — Gescard F. Isnora, Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper — were escorted out of a side doorway. Outside, a crowd gathered behind police barricades, occasionally shouting, amid a veritable sea of police officers.

The verdict comes 17 months to the day since the Nov. 25, 2006, shooting of Mr. Bell, 23, and his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, outside the Club Kalua in Jamaica, Queens, hours before Mr. Bell was to be married.

It was delivered in a packed courtroom and was heard by, among others, the slain man’s parents and his fiancée. The seven-week trial, which ended April 14, was heard by Justice Cooperman in State Supreme Court in Queens after the defendants waived their right to a jury, a strategy some lawyers called risky at the time. But it clearly paid off with Friday’s verdict.

Before rendering his verdict, Justice Cooperman ran through a narrative of the evening, and concluded “the police response with respect to each defendant was not found to be criminal.”

“The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt” that each defendant was not justified in shooting, he said, before quickly saying the men were not guilty of all of the eight counts, five felonies and three misdemeanors, against them.

Mr. Bell’s family sat silently as Justice Cooperman spoke from the bench. Behind them, a woman was heard to ask, “Did he just say, ‘Not guilty?”

Yes...Judge Cooperman did say that.

For those of you unfamiliar with the case's particulars, Steve covered it in depth with several very detailed detailed posts at The News Blog. In a nutshell, seventeen months ago to today, Sean Bell, and two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield were at a bachelor party for Bell at Club Kalua—a divey little strip club in South Jamaica, Queens, about two miles from where I grew up. Upon leaving the club, there was a brief verbal dispute with other parties and the three men—Bell, Benefield and Guzman went to Bell's car to go home.

Graphic from The New York Times

Mr. Bell was to be married later that day. Unbeknownst to the trio, the club was being watched both internally and externally by plainclothes detectives clocking for quality-of-life and liquor-law violations. Several of the plainclothes officers were consuming alcohol to “blend in”. As the trio of young men left the club, one of the officers claimed to hear one of them talk about “going to get his gun or gat”. Several of the officers converged on the car and confronted Mr. Bell and his friends. A brutal one-way shootout ensued where fifty bullets were fired by the officers at the car—31 by one officer—killing Bell and wounding his friends Mssrs. Benefield and Guzman.

There was no weapon present in the car or on the persons within it. Bluntly, it was a city-sanctioned massacre. Post-the initial spat in front of the club, tensions were evidently high and there was dispute as to whether the officers identified themselves properly or at all. Bell's car either lurched forward after he was shot or just before, and the wild and reckless fusillade of bullets flew, some striking an overhead airport monorail station and narrowly missing passengers a block and a half away.

Those are the particulars. Secondary elements of the story include the following:

1.) The officers involved WERE NOT GIVEN BLOOD-ALCOHOL TESTS in spite of the fact that several of them HAD BEEN DRINKING.

2.) As per usual, the officers were allowed to operate under the still-being-phased-out “48 Hour Rule”, where after a deadly and contested shooting, they had 48 hours before they could be questioned by investigators—(and ostensibly “get their stories together) a perk not allowed the general public, as the surviving victims, Benefield and Guzman were interrogated while in the hospital recovering from their wounds.

3.) Also as per usual, the officers opted for a judge trial as opposed to a jury trial, fearing the judgement of regular citizens and instead, placing their fate in the hands of a partner in law enforcement—a judge. This is a common tack taken by New York police to lessen the odds of conviction.

Now, once this case moved to trial, and after of course a change of venue was requested (Cops in New York routinely feel that the people they are policing are not fit to judge their actions), the NYPD pushed for a judge trial. Once that was in effect, the odds of conviction probably dropped by about seventy percent. In spite of the overweening physical evidence—no gun or anything resembling a gun present on the victims and of course, the obvious attack of “contagious shooting”—where even if the initial shot is fired by a police officer, fellow officers react and pretty much empty their clips, Judge Cooperman found for the officers.

I'd love to say that this outcome was shocking, but in New York City it isn't. It is next to impossible to convict an on-duty cop for any sort of wrong-doing against a citizen—even a killing that is fairly obvious a murder in this town. There is a seemingly endless string of such “tragic” deaths. New York police have fallen back on the “Twinkie Defense” (or in NY parlance, the “Cruller Defense”, where over-stimulation due to sugar consumption is taken as a reason for sudden, violent outbursts by cops), mystery seizures that have caused them to freakishly fire their weapons at unarmed Black kids, “black hands from nowhere” that miraculously choked to death victims of police officers, instead of the choke hold applied by the officers (reacting angrily to a errantly-thrown football in a street game striking their squad car).

Par for the course in New York City. I remember calling in to the cartwheeling idiot wingnut Curtis Sliwa's radio show after the infamous Amadou Diallo shooting. I was angry. Livid, actually after a piece of news came my way about what happened in the immediate aftermath of the murder. It turns out that after gunning Diallo down in his vestibule, officers knocked down his apartment door and “tossed” the place—looking for what, no one knows. I asked Sliwa on-air why they did this. “Can you tell me why the NYPD tossed the apartment of an unarmed man they shot down? Give me one good reason for that.” Sliwa stuttered and muttered something about how officers who show up on the scene of shootings often don't know the particulars of what's gone down beforehand. “Things happen” he said before hanging up abruptly.

“Things happen.”

Something always “happens” when it comes down to the NYPD dealing with people in the 'hood. Be they White or Black officers, there is an overwhelming fealty to “the blue”—the force. I have a close relative who worked in NYPD Internal affairs down on Hudson Street for a decade. It was he who told me about how the force doesn't release its numbers on how many are drummed out every year. A force some 37,000 strong. “Nobody wants to hear that number. X-percent of the force getting shit-canned for drinking, drugging and whatever? Just take the 'ten-percent rule' into account. Ten percent of any workforce is shitbirds and fuck-ups. And shitbirds and fuckups tend to gravitate towards each other.” The other factor is that non-shitbirds and fuckups are often covered for by their decent co-horts thanks to the “blue wall of silence”. Said idiots either get drummed out or get classified to the “rubber-gun squad”—a term for malcontents who due to union rules cannot be fired but are instead put on desk duty. Then, beyond those bad actors, there are “questionable” cops who for whatever reason make one huge, bad (and tragic) decision and are knee-jerk looked-out-for by their NYPD brethren as well.

That's what I think happened that night at Club Kalua. Somebody got jumpy, wanted to play tough-guy hero and his twitchy-trigger stupid dragged his fellow officers down that macho road into a storm of one-way gunfire. Add into the mix the decision-clouding element of the classic cop's claim “I felt my life was in danger!”, which is used as the ultimate fallback defense. 'We have no way to know what was on the officers' minds. They may well have been afraid.' That nebulous void of trying to figure out what was on an officer's mind leaves a lot of leeway for one who is pre-disposed to say, “Eh, you know what? Maybe they were scared.” And in spite of the obvious leaps beyond reality that shows like “Law & Order” take, one thing that is a truism is the cozy relationship between the police, district attorneys and judges. They have to work together every day sending civilian criminals to jail, so when you get a case where they are in essence pitted against one another, you get the weirdness where cops choose judge trials instead of juries. An awful lot of back-scratching goes on.

Yeah. Whatever. For Black folk in New York, the Bell killing goes right alongside the others on the mantle full of the unarmed victims whose killers went unpunished. Diallo. Dorismond. Zongo. Glover. Stansbury.

Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. 41 Shots? 50 shots? What's the difference. The only way you get a little justice in these cases is when the victim is unfortunate enough (for the police) to survive alá Abner Louima. Dead men tell no tales, indeed.

What is interesting is the odd vibe around town, what with Five-O's increased presence and all the talk in the local news about preparations being made for potential violence on the part of protesters. I noticed it this morning while traveling. Beat cops all over the place. Cruisers on the slow-crawl while clocking corner activity. The date and timing of the verdict was well known to all in town. Today, a Friday would be the day and the police were already in place to quell...whatever. The “laugh” here is over the idea that somehow one can actually “prepare” for unrest. And secondly, the idea that there is some sort of automatic default to unrest should a verdict go bad. If that were the case, New York would've been a pile of smoldering rubble decades ago.

The furrowed brows and grave tones of newsfolk over helicopter shots of people gathered outside the courthouse is laughable. 'God we hope there isn't any violence—get a tight shot of that guy with his fists balled up.' Here's how it works, idiots—shit jumps off whenever it wants to. Odds are it won't be when you have several thousand officers in the streets. It'll be random. It'll be away from where you think trouble's brewing. It happens fast and the trigger will be something you never saw coming. That's how it almost always goes. In Detroit in 1967, a raid on a “blind pig” (a Detroit-ism for an after hours spot) set things off. Rough, offensive acts that are compounded by hazy memory and mistaken word-of-mouth are a familiar trigger. Now, let a cop fuck up this weekend and kill a kid with clear evidence of malice and injustice, coming on the heels of this bullshit and you may see some ugliness. I pray to God it doesn't come to that, but Sliwa so casually said to me, “Things happen”.

What doesn't help is that after Rev. Al Sharpton effectively called for calm, and quelled tensions by leading angry people away from the courthouse (on his way to Bell's gravesite), we had the spectacle of Michael Palladino, the head of the NYPD detective's union gloating about the verdict at hi spress conference, replete with cheesy soundbites (“How do I spell relief? N-O-T-G-U-I-L-T-Y! That's how I spell relief!”), along with crass call-outs of Sharpton and other activists, local union leaders who backed the family and pretty much anyone who didn't four-square agree with the NYPD's account. He's the only one of the major players acting like an asshole about the verdict, playing the stereotypical “our way or the highway“ role of “the pig”.

There is a special place in hell for gleeful apologists and cheerers-on of police brutality and I sincerely hope Palladino's descent there is a slow and excruciatingly painful one. It wouldn't be stretch to say that there are a lot of New Yorkers who wouldn't piss on him if he were burning in plastic alongside a road. They'd probably try to put the blaze out with a bottle of Mazola™.

And I wouldn't blame 'em.


Home now and Five-O is on every other corner in pairs on the main drag down the block from me. Looking nervous. They can thank their good friend Mike Palladino for that. It's been a warm day, with more to come.

And “Things happen.”
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