Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Well, at least the people who think Johnny's long hair and scruffy beard are sloppy will be happy about this, since King George Steinbrenner (Damn you George, damn you all to hell!) has strict rules about facial hair/proper hair length and a lot of other crap that has little or nothing to do with playing baseball.
Part of what led to the parting of the ways with Damon and the Sox has to be the nearly complete disarray that has become the Red Sox front office. Since Theo Epstein left, Larry Lucchino has taken firm control of the reins. Sure, the Sox hired two unknowns to be co-general managers, but those guys probably can't do anything without Lucchino's approval. And the fact that Damon's agent Scott Boras was demanding his usual ridiculous amounts of money for his client can't have helped matters any (see last off-season's negotiations with Boras client catcher Jason Varitek). Still, the way this was handled smells of Fredo Corleone or former FEMA head Mike Brown. The Red Sox have no minor league prospects to fill this spot, and what are the chances that they can sign/trade for a player who can play CF AND lead off? I think the Sox need Bill Belichick to run the team for a few years. Hell, look at what he did for the Patriots.
Still, it is sad to see Damon leave. He was a goofball at times. So he couldn't throw well, he played hard, got on base, and helped the Sox to their first World Series Championship in 86 years in 2004. Good luck Johnny, just don't have too many good games against your most recent former team.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Been a while since I blogged at youse, but I've been busy making preparations for the upcoming celebration of an ancient pagan tradition that has been hijacked by insane Christians. Oh yes, I've also been buried with work at my wage-slavery containment facility (in addition to having to put up with an extremely annoying stalker). So the six of you who read this blog (but somehow never seem to leave comments) now know what I've been doing for the past several days. Anyway, it seems I have some catching up to do.
I see that the world of politics has chosen to get even messier while I was busy.
1. George W. Bush, aka Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy (TM), has admitted that he is criminal scum by confirming the New York Times story that shows he has had the National Security Agency conduct illegal wiretaps of people he suspects of having ties to Al Qaida. In an interesting note, The Clueless One bitched that the Times was "reprehensible" in running a story it sat on FOR OVER A YEAR. The Moron added that such "reprehensible" behavior put America at risk, and he wants to know who leaked the story. And he's serious as hell because he certainly delivered justice in the Valerie Plame leak...
2. Prez FSF has also declared his undying love for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R - Arrogant Shithead) by opining that the ugly little bastard is innocent of any wrongdoing in his corruption trial. Gee, nothing like staying on the sidelines and letting the prosecution and defense settle the matter, huh?
3. Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader, is calling for an investigation into Bush's criminal acts. Russ Feingold is calling Bush what he is trying to be -- a petty little tyrant. It's good to see Democrats finally waking up to the fact that they are fighting a monster of the worst kind.
These stories have all been profiled and dissected all over these Internets, including by some of the sites listed on my blogroll, so rather than link to them myself, I'll take the lazy way out and refer you to my betters.
Getting away from the filthy world of politics, and into the escapist world of sports, Nomar Garciaparra, former Red Sox shortstop, has signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers to play first base. First base?!? I think this is a potentially dumb move by the Dodgers. Nomar, if healthy, has too much speed and too good a throwing arm to waste at first base. I could see him in the outfield. Hell, Robin Yount made the transition from shortstop to center field with the Brewers for the last half of his career, and I could see Nomar doing the same (he won't be at shortstop for LA since they signed Rafael Furcal away from the Braves). Anyway, Nomar joins former teammates Derek Lowe, Bill Mueller and manager Grady "Forrest" Little in Dodger blue. Go get 'em Nomar!
My fantasy football team season is over. After an 11-2 season I went 1-1 in the playoffs, losing this weekend in the semi-finals by five points. Hell, I rode Shaun Alexander, Drew Brees, Warrick Dunn, Reggie Wayne, Jay Feely and a pair of mediocre defensive units (Jets and Browns) to the best record I've ever posted in the Marlborough Football League (I usually end up 6-7 or 7-6), so I can't complain much. Besides, there is no money involved which makes the silly smack talk most of the participants engage in that much more entertaining for me.
On the international front, my friends in the Sydney, Austrailia area are coping with some Republican attitudes in the form of race riots that have recently broken out. My contacts assure me that they are safe, and that things are beginning to quiet down. But just in case, I'd better get back there soon to get involved in any diplomatic negotiations (Not so subtle hint to boss).
The one story I will link to is a victory in court for the people who think versus the knuckledraggers. Hint: It's another round in the evolution versus creationism (intelligent design) battle. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
HARRISBURG, Pa. - In one of the biggest courtroom clashes between faith and evolution since the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, a federal judge barred a Pennsylvania public school district Tuesday from teaching "intelligent design" in biology class, saying the concept is creationism in disguise.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones delivered a stinging attack on the Dover Area School Board, saying its first-in-the-nation decision in October 2004 to insert intelligent design into the science curriculum violated the constitutional separation of church and state.
The ruling was a major setback to the intelligent design movement, which is also waging battles in Georgia and Kansas. Intelligent design holds that living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by some kind of higher force.
Jones decried the "breathtaking inanity" of the Dover policy and accused several board members of lying to conceal their true motive, which he said was to promote religion.
"Breathtaking inanity"?!? Holy shit! That's priceless! I'd have loved to have seen the faces of the IDers when Judge Jones uttered those words. Damn! Or DAYAMN! Now I have a new insult to hurl!
A six-week trial over the issue yielded "overwhelming evidence" establishing that intelligent design "is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory," said Jones, a Republican and a churchgoer appointed to the federal bench three years ago.
The school system said it will probably not appeal the ruling, because several members who backed intelligent design were ousted in November's elections and replaced with a new slate opposed to the policy.
Preznit Science Sucks also weighed in on the issue of intelligent design recently, saying schools should present the concept when teaching about the origins of life.
But wait. It gets better:
In his ruling, Jones said that while intelligent design, or ID, arguments "may be true, a proposition on which the court takes no position, ID is not science." Among other things, the judge said intelligent design "violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation"; it relies on "flawed and illogical" arguments; and its attacks on evolution "have been refuted by the scientific community."
"The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources," he wrote. The judge also said: "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."
Former school board member William Buckingham, who advanced the policy, said from his new home in Mount Airy, N.C., that he still feels the board did the right thing. "I'm still waiting for a judge or anyone to show me anywhere in the Constitution where there's a separation of church and state," he said. "We didn't lose; we were robbed."
Yo, Bucky baby, you can't be robbed of something you never had, namely a leg on which to stand. You and your movement have ZERO credibility, and for you to pretend you do either means the judge was correct in calling you a bunch of lying cheats, or you are severely deluded.
I am grinning widely as I type this, even though it is not polite to gloat. Still, I can't help but rejoice that this ruling has bitch-slapped this regressively idiotic movement but good. The judge didn't mince his words, and neither should anyone else engaged in fighting this wave of stupidity. If this was an NBA game, the halftime score would be 248-7. Even the Harlem Globetrotters didn't beat other teams up THIS badly!
Well, since I want to end on I high note, I guess that's all for now. I'll be off finishing some wage-slavery projects and celebrating, in my agnostic way, the above-mentioned holiday, so the activity on this blog will likely remain at a minimum for the next few days.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
A 2,000-year-old Mayan mural, the oldest such artifact ever found in Central America, was revealed in a recently discovered pyramid in Guatemala. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
WASHINGTON - Archaeologist William Saturno said Tuesday he was awe-struck when he uncovered a Maya mural not seen for nearly two millennia. Discovered at the San Bartolo site in Guatemala, the mural covers the west wall of a room attached to a pyramid, Saturno said at a briefing.
In brilliant color, the mural tells the Maya story of creation, he said. It was painted about 100 B.C., but later covered when the room was filled in. "It could have been painted yesterday," Saturno said in a briefing organized by the National Geographic Society, which supported his work and will detail the finding in the January issue of its magazine.
Saturno, of the University of New Hampshire, first reported discovery of the site in 2002 when he stopped to rest in the jungle, taking shelter in an old trench that turned out to be part of the ancient room. Since then the west and north walls have been uncovered. The room's other walls had been demolished and used for fill, he said. The west wall was the centerpiece of the room, Saturno said.
The mural includes four deities, which are variations of the same figure, the son of the corn god. As Saturno explained it: The first deity stands in the water and offers a fish, establishing the watery underworld. The second stands on the ground and sacrifices a deer, establishing the land. The third floats in the air, offering a turkey, establishing the sky. The fourth stands in a field of flowers, the food of gods, establishing paradise.
Another section shows the corn god crowning himself king upon a wooden scaffold, and the final section shows a historic coronation of a Maya king. Some of the writing can be understood, Saturno said, but much of it is so old it is hard to decipher.
Nearby, archaeologists led by Guatemalan Monica Pellecer Alecio found the oldest known Maya royal burial, from around 150 B.C. Excavating beneath a small pyramid, that team found a burial complex that included ceramic vessels and the bones of a man, with a jade plaque, the symbol of Maya royalty, on his chest.
It seems silly to use words like "discovered" to describe the process of finding these ancient works. That caveat aside, it is amazing that there are still so many sites in this region that may contain other wonders that have been hidden for so long.
The Mayans, and the other cultures that thrived in this area so long ago were amazingly advanced. They were astronomers who constructed calendars so accurate that they rival those in use today. Many of the engineering feats they accomplished are similar to those in Egypt, which has caused some scholars to speculate that these ancient peoples not only knew of each others existence, but that they had frequent contact.
The late explorer Thor Heyerdahl proved that people could have crossed both the Atlantic Pacific Oceans in simple rafts made of balsa wood and reeds. The similarities between the two cultures cannot be a mere coincidence, and Heyerdahl's journeys point to the very good possibility that a flourishing maritime industry thrived in this distant age, which would explain why many Central American structures contain depictions of human faces of nearly every racial trait--African, Asian, European, Pacific Islander, they are all there, which begs the question of how the artists knew to chisel such faces.
The knowledge gap that exists between what we know about the ancient Americas and ancient Europe, Asia and Africa may now begin to shrink even more, and this news will certainly help to bolster the knowledge we have of the people that transformed the Central American region from Mexico to the Amazon basin so long ago.
Monday, December 12, 2005
In a mostly non-Bush friendly ruling, a federal judge decided to extend the deadline for Katrina victims who have applied for federal aid through FEMA, and whose temporary housing in hotels across the country are being paid for by FEMA, by another month, citing that he felt FEMA would not be able to process all claims by the latest deadline it set for itself. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge ruled Monday that a program that is putting tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees up in hotels must be extended until Feb. 7 — a month beyond the cutoff date set by FEMA.
U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval said victims must be given more time in hotels because FEMA cannot guarantee that all applications for other aid, such as rent assistance or trailers, will be processed by the agency's Jan. 7 deadline.
The temporary restraining order was part of a class-action lawsuit filed in November by advocates for hurricane victims. Attorneys pressing the lawsuit had argued that sticking to a January deadline would mean homelessness for thousands of evacuees.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to pick up the tab for about 41,000 hotel rooms in 47 states and the District of Columbia at an estimated cost so far of about $350 million. In addition, the agency has provided rental assistance to more than 500,000 families who lost their homes to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, spokeswoman Nicol Andrews said.
The agency "will review the judge's decision and continue to reach out to help those evacuated get the help they need as they get back on their feet," she said.
The agency had set a Dec. 1 deadline for ending the hotel program but extended it to Dec. 15 after widespread criticism. In addition, 10 states — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas — were allowed to apply for extensions that effectively stretched the deadline to Jan. 7 for most evacuees.
Duval ruled that those who have not yet received FEMA aid to rent an apartment or move into a trailer can stay in their government-paid hotel rooms until two weeks after their application is approved or denied. But he said everyone will have to be out by Feb. 7 at the latest, unless FEMA decides to extend the deadline again.
Duval noted that even those who have FEMA rent money in hand are finding it difficult to find housing in some areas. "FEMA cannot assure the court that it will process all or most of the applications of the persons living in hotels and-or motels by Jan. 7, 2006," Duval wrote. "The court is convinced that many persons in the putative class will be irreparably harmed by FEMA's admitted inability to process the pending applications."
A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, which defended FEMA in the lawsuit, said no decision had been made on whether to appeal. Lawyers for evacuees said victims often got conflicting information about when they would have to leave. At a hearing Friday, one hotel occupant, Lenora Brantley, said she received a letter dated Dec. 2 telling her she could stay in her hotel room until Jan. 7. Later she got a Dec. 5-dated letter telling her she would have to leave by Dec. 15.
"It is unimaginable what anxiety and misery these erratic and bizarre vacillations by FEMA have caused these victims, all of whom, for at least one point in time, had the very real fear of being without shelter for Christmas," Duval said.
Duval's ruling dealt only with Hurricane Katrina victims who applied for FEMA aid, not victims of Hurricane Rita. But attorney Howard Godnick, one of the lawyers who brought the lawsuit, said the decision sets a precedent that Rita victims could use to fight eviction from a hotel, if necessary.
The plaintiffs did not get everything they sought. Duval refused to order that FEMA act immediately on more than 84,000 aid applications still listed as "pending." He said federal law is unclear on when FEMA must act on such applications.
It's hard to be cynical about such seemingly good news, and I suppose anything that flies in the face of the Bush II era of "I've got mine, to hell with everyone else" is a good thing. But the fact that Judge Duval refused to order FEMA to act on the "still pending" applications does nothing to make FEMA move faster and more efficiently.
Then again, the gross negligence of FEMA, in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, and its slow response in the recovery, probably doesn't make most of those applicants whose situations ARE being considered feel all that optimistic.
I think the timing of this ruling was also a factor in that nobody, even Preznit You're Doin' A Fine Job Brownie, would want to be in charge of an effort that added thousands more to the ranks of the homeless as O'ReillyMass draws near. Then again, maybe he would. Just when you think he can't crawl any lower, he finds another layer of sub-strata into which he can squeeze in his efforts to avoid the light of day and reason.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Did Rove's Attorney Know About His Bosses Crimes?
That is the question that pops up in the following Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
WASHINGTON - Months before Karl Rove corrected his statements in the Valerie Plame investigation, his lawyer was told that the president's top political adviser might have disclosed Plame's name and CIA status to a Time magazine reporter.
Rove says he had forgotten the conversation he had on July 11, 2003, with Time's Matt Cooper. But the magazine reported Sunday that in the first half of 2004, as President Bush's re-election campaign was heating up, Rove's lawyer got the word about a possible Rove-Cooper conversation from a second Time reporter, Viveca Novak.
Novak described her conversation with the lawyer, Robert Luskin, in a first-person account released Sunday on Time's Web site.
Luskin declined comment. Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove's legal team, said the deputy White House chief of staff has cooperated fully with prosecutors.
"The integrity of the investigation requires that we not discuss the substance of any communications with the special counsel," Corallo said in a statement. "Out of respect for the investigative process, we have abided by that rule and will continue to withhold comment on our interactions with the special counsel."
Six weeks ago, in a so-far successful effort to avert Rove's indictment, Luskin disclosed his conversation with Novak to the special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald. Rove remains under investigation.
In her first-person account, Novak wrote that Luskin clearly thought disclosing their discussion "was going to help Rove, perhaps by explaining why Rove hadn't told Fitzgerald or the grand jury of his conversation with my colleague Matt Cooper."
Fitzgerald questioned Novak under oath Thursday, the day after the prosecutor began presenting evidence to a new grand jury considering evidence in the leak investigation.
The prosecutor is investigating the Bush administration's leaking of Plame's CIA status to the news media in 2003, as Plame's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of manipulating prewar intelligence on Iraq.
This story makes the following points are abundantly clear:
1. Karl Rove either has the same memory problems Ronald Reagan exhibited when questioned about his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, or he is a lying sack of shit. I'll place my bets on the latter option.
2. Viveka Novak is just another Bush administration water carrying media whore. Think of her a sort of a Judith Miller Lite.
3. It appears that the weasels are coming out in droves to make themselves look less like the criminal scum they are, and that Special Counsel Fitzgerald has a lot more on his plate with which to deal than it appeared when the Libby indictment was announced.
Watching the fallout would be a lot of fun if not for the fact that these machinations have led to such chaos in Iraq.
Frist Claims He Can Stop Alito Filibuster
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Hypocrite) says he will, if he has to, stop the Democrats from filibustering Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday he is prepared to strip Democrats of their ability to filibuster if they try to stall Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court.
"The answer is yes," Frist said when asked if he would act to change Senate procedures to restrict a Democratic filibuster. "Supreme Court justice nominees deserve an up-or-down vote, and it would be absolutely wrong to deny him that."
Democrats immediately called Frist's words unhelpful and potentially incendiary. They said Senate Democrats are waiting for the Judiciary Committee to act on Alito's nomination before they decide what they may do.
"Sen. Frist has thrown down the gauntlet at a time when the country least needs it," said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee. "The American people know that checks and balances are an integral part of our government."
In recent weeks, Senate Democrats have questioned whether Alito, a federal appeals court judge, has the proper judicial temperament and ideology to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Some have said that Alito's views on issues such as voting rights and abortion could provoke a filibuster unless he allays their concerns about his commitment to civil rights. Alito's confirmation hearings begin Jan. 9 before the committee.
The filibuster is a parliamentary tactic whereby senators use their right to virtually unlimited debate to block measures, legislation or nominations. It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster.
Passing a bill or confirming a nominee requires a simple majority — 51 senators if all 100 senators are present. The vice president can break 50-50 ties.
Under Frist's scenario, the GOP would seek a parliamentary ruling that declares filibusters are not permitted against judicial nominees. That ruling ultimately would go before the full Senate for a vote, with a simple majority required to prevail. Republicans hold 55 seats.
If that plays out, it then would take a majority of senators present to vote to approve a nominee such as Alito.
Such a move carries great risk. Democrats have threatened to retaliate with a fight that could snarl Senate business for months. Also, it could backfire on Republicans if they were to lose majority control of the chamber.
Alito has already proven to be a liar about his position on Roe v. Wade. We already know he is a punishment freak by allowing ten-year-old girls to be strip searched at airports. Oh, and that bullshit about his father being an Italian immigrant? I wasn't aware that New Jersey was a part of Italy.
But let's forget that for a moment. Frist is running scared. Schumer, Minority Leader Reid and the rest of the Democrats are in the interesting position of having made Frist go "all in" on Alito before the goddamned Judiciary Committee has even met. Maybe the fact that Frist's stock swindle case might end up in front of a Supreme Court with rookie justice Alito presiding has something to do with Mr. Bill's accelerated sense of urgency.
And let's not forget that Republicans, especially those with close ties to Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy, are losing the confidence of all but their most insane constituents, and despite what many of them claim, they DO read their favorability rating numbers, so I'm not certain that Frist has the groundswell of support within his own party that he claims to have. But, even if he does, in 2006, if (and I hope when) the midterm elections restore the Democrats to Congressional control, Frist and his trolls are going to pay a steep price for their insolent contempt for the American people.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Richard Pryor Dead At Age 65
Comedy legend Richard Pryor died this morning of a heart attack at age 65. AOL News AP wire excerpt:
LOS ANGELES (Dec. 10) - Richard Pryor, the groundbreaking comedian whose profanely personal insights into race relations and modern life made him one of Hollywood's biggest stars, died of a heart attack. He was 65.
Pryor died shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday after being taken to a hospital from his home in the San Fernando Valley, said his business manager, Karen Finch. He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.
Music producer Quincy Jones described Pryor as a true pioneer of his art. "He was the Charlie Parker of comedy, a master of telling the truth that influenced every comedian that came after him," Jones said in a statement. "The legacy that he leaves will forever be with us."
Pryor lived dangerously close to the edge, both on stage and off. He was regarded early in his career as one of the most foul-mouthed comics in the business, but he gained a wide following for his universal and frequently personal routines. After nearly losing his life in 1980 when he caught on fire while freebasing cocaine, he incorporated the ordeal into his later routines.
His audacious style influenced generations of stand-up artists, from Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock to Robin Williams and David Letterman, among others. A series of hit comedies and concert films in the '70s and '80s helped make Pryor one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood, and he was one of the first black performers to have enough leverage to cut his own deals.
In 1983, he signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures. His films included "Stir Crazy," "Silver Streak," "Which Way Is Up?" and "Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip."
Throughout his career, Pryor focused on racial inequality, once joking as the host of the Academy Awards in 1977 that Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier were the only black members of the Academy. Pryor once marveled "that I live in racist America and I'm uneducated, yet a lot of people love me and like what I do, and I can make a living from it. You can't do much better than that."
Pryor could make you laugh with a look or a joke, but his stories about race, as part of his stand-up act, made you think past the laughter. His teamwork in films with Gene Wilder was groundbreaking. His legacy is apparent in the careers of Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and David Chappelle. He will be missed.
Eugene McCarthy Dead At Age 89
Former Senator and famous anti-Vietnam war activist, and Democratic Presidential hopeful Eugene McCarthy died today at age 89. AOL News excerpt:
WASHINGTON (Dec. 10) - Former Minnesota Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy, whose insurgent campaign toppled a sitting president in 1968 and forced the Democratic Party to take seriously his message against the Vietnam War, died Saturday. He was 89.
McCarthy died in his sleep at assisted living home in the Georgetown neighborhood where he had lived for the past few years, said his son, Michael.
Eugene McCarthy challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson for the 1968 Democratic nomination during growing debate over the Vietnam War. The challenge led to Johnson's withdrawal from the race. The former college professor, who ran for president five times in all, was in some ways an atypical politician, a man with a witty, erudite speaking style who wrote poetry in his spare time and was the author of several books.
Helped by his legion of idealistic young volunteers known as "clean-for-Gene kids," McCarthy got 42 percent of the vote in the state's 1968 Democratic primary. That showing embarrassed Johnson into withdrawing from the race and throwing his support to his vice president, Hubert H. Humphrey.
Sen. Robert Kennedy of New York also decided to seek the nomination, but was assassinated in June 1968. McCarthy and his followers went to the party convention in Chicago, where fellow Minnesotan Humphrey won the nomination amid bitter strife both on the convention floor and in the streets.
Humphrey went on to narrowly lose the general election to Richard Nixon. The racial, social and political tensions within the Democratic Party in 1968 have continued to affect presidential politics ever since.
"It was a tragic year for the Democratic Party and for responsible politics, in a way," McCarthy said in a 1988 interview. "There were already forces at work that might have torn the party apart anyway - the growing women's movement, the growing demands for greater racial equality, an inability to incorporate all the demands of a new generation. "But in 1968, the party became a kind of unrelated bloc of factions ... each refusing accommodation with another, each wanting control at the expense of all the others."
Although he supported the Korean War, McCarthy said he opposed the Vietnam War because "as it went on, you could tell the people running it didn't know what was going on." Former Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., said McCarthy's presidential run in 1968 dramatically changed the antiwar movement.
"It was no longer a movement of concerned citizens, but became a national political movement," McGovern said Saturday. "He was an inspiration to me in all of my life in politics." McGovern won the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination, when McCarthy ran a second time.
Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., who ran for vice president in 2004, said McCarthy "was a remarkable American, a man who spoke his conscience, and he was a great leader for my party."
In recent years, McCarthy was critical of campaign finance reform, winning him an unlikely award from the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2000. In an interview when he got the award, McCarthy said money helped him in the 1968 race. "We had a few big contributors," he said. "And that's true of any liberal movement. In the American Revolution, they didn't get matching funds from George III."Full Story
McCarthy would likely be viewed in a negative light by the Bush administration. The parallels to the Iraq war and the Vietnam war are succinctly summed up with McCarthy's statement on Vietnam detailed in the excerpt. I suppose the thing that makes McCarthy compelling is his understanding that movements are never simply handed things like respect and power, that these things must be earned and cultivated (as stated in the last sentence of the excerpt, the irony of which escaped the organization granting McCarthy's "honor"). It is too bad that the last two Democratic Presidential nominees did not recognize this fact in time to stop Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy in his tracks.
Gore's mistake was that he underestimated both the stupidity of the American voter AND the depths to which the Bush camp would crawl to secure the outcome they desired. Kerry's mistake was accepting the nomination when he clearly had no intention of fighting for change. I hope he stays out of the damned way in 2008.
I disagreed with his endorsement of Ronald Reagan (hey, noone is perfect) while criticizing Jimmy Carter (and ignoring the fact that Carter's own party was putting the fork to him at every turn), and was ready to write him off as obsolete until he came back to reality by criticizing the current joke of an administration by accurately calling them bullies.
In the final analysis, McCarthy was a fighter, and we could certainly use more fighters in the Democratic Party these days.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
The Edgar Renteria era came to a screeching halt this afternoon at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings in Dallas, as the Red Sox traded the disappointing shortstop to the Braves for a minor-league prospect. ESPN excerpt:
DALLAS -- The Boston Red Sox gave up on Edgar Renteria just one year after lavishing a four-year, $40 million contract on him, trading the shortstop to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday for third base prospect Andy Marte.
Renteria was arguably the biggest free agent bust of 2005. Don't believe me? Check out his stats from this past season:
He (Renteria) led the majors with 30 errors in '05, struggling at the plate in April and finishing with a .276 average, eight homers and 70 RBI. The Red Sox had been hoping for something more like the .330 average, 13 homers and 100 RBI he had when he won his second consecutive Gold Glove in 2003.
Perhaps Carlos Beltran of the Mets could make a better (worse?) case of having been the biggest free agent flop of 2005, but Edgar is right up (down?) there. Renteria never seemed comfortable in a Red Sox uniform. He would occasionally go through a three or four game stretch in which he would pound out two or three hits a game, using the entire field to line doubles into gaps. But mysteriously, he couldn't seem to sustain that performance and his season never did gain any real traction. His defense was atrocious. He mishandled many routine grounders, and his throws could be sloppy, which became a huge problem that was magnified by Terry Francona's insistence on playing the less than nimble Kevin Millar for most of the season at first base.
So how good is this kid Marte?
Marte, 22, batted .275 with 20 homers and 74 RBI in 109 games in Triple-A last season, and .140 with no homers and four RBI in 24 games with the Braves. He is rated as the top prospect in the Braves organization by Baseball America. "This is a throwback type of third baseman," said Lajoie, a throwback type of GM. "This is the power corner that you hope will hit 25 homers when he does play in the majors."
So the question now becomes this: Does this kid fit into the Red Sox plans, or do they plan to deal him as part of a package for another commodity? I'd guess the latter seeing as the Sox just picked up Mike Lowell, as part of the Josh Beckett deal, to play third. Not only that, but the Sox have offered incumbent third baseman Bill Mueller salary arbitration. And Kevin Youkilis is still around, but the rumors in the air seem to have him heading to first base.
So just how did the Sox manage to get rid of Renteria and his hefty salary?
Boston will pay $8 million of the $26 million Renteria is owed for the next three seasons. In addition, the Red Sox must pay the $3 million buyout if his $11 million option for 2009 is declined.
SARCASM ALERT!!! Now it makes sense. The Braves let Rafael Furcal walk as a free agent, knowing he'd command at least $12 million a year. He just signed with the Dodgers for a three-year, $39 million deal, or $13 million a year. The bottom line is that the Red Sox will be paying 31% of Renteria's remaining salary while he plays for the Braves (or someone).
If the 2006 season was to start tomorrow, the Red Sox starting infield would probably be Kevin Youkilis at first base, newcomer Mark Loretta (acquired from the San Diego Padres for catcher Doug Mirabelli) at second base, Alex Cora at shortstop and Mike Lowell at third base.
I hate to say this, but my softball team's starting infield of Kathy C at first, Jesse G at second, Mike R at short and Ron M at third would probably give this unit a good run for the money, and at a vastly reduced cost! Whoever is wearing the Sox GM hat this week, please feel free to contact me at this blog. Hell, I'll even throw my meager services into the mix as Johnny Damon's replacement in center field once the Sox get tired of dealing with Johnny's agent Scott Boras. Now that's a bargain at any price!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
A real battle in the culture war was carried out when some Bush supporters beat up the man who planned to teach a course at the University of Kansas that countered the message delivered by that state's Bored Uv Edyookayshun decided to ignore science and logic in favor if superstition by allowing the cruel joke called Intelligent Design to be taught in their public schools. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
LAWRENCE, Kan. - A college professor whose planned course on creationism and intelligent design was canceled after he derided Christian conservatives said he was beaten by two men along a rural road early Monday.
University of Kansas religious studies professor Paul Mirecki said the men referred to the class when they beat him on the head, shoulders and back with their fists, and possibly a metal object, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
"I didn't know them," Mirecki said of his assailants, "but I'm sure they knew me."
So the message from extremist religious conservative handjobs is clear: Keep your high-falutin' scientifical idears away from us, or we'll beat the shit out of you. I can't say I'm too surprised at this sad, stupid behavior, but what else can we expect from a group of people who have no ideas? Nothing. That's why they resort to physical violence.
Mirecki planned to teach a spring course called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies" to counter the Kansas Board of Education's decision to drive science standards for elementary school students back to the 13th century. And so what if he referred to those who oppose him as "fundies", a remark for which he has since apologized, and a fat lot of good it did. The behavior exhibited by this attack validates Mirecki's characterization, which shows that he, and other rational thinkers, have struck a nerve.
And to think that we feel smug because we never would have sentenced Galileo to house arrest in this enlightened day and age...
Monday, December 05, 2005
Tom DeLay (R - Arrogant Douchebag) had one of the charges against him, the conspiracy charge, inexplicably dropped today, but never fear, all is not lost. The presiding judge decided that the money-laundering charge would remain in effect, paving the way for a trial. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
AUSTIN, Texas - A judge dismissed a conspiracy charge Monday against Rep. Tom DeLay but refused to throw out the far more serious allegations of money-laundering, dashing the congressman's hopes for now of reclaiming his post as House majority leader.
Texas Judge Pat Priest, who is presiding over the case against the Republican, issued the ruling after a hearing late last month in which DeLay's attorney argued that the indictment was fatally flawed.
When he was indicted in September, DeLay was required under House rules to relinquish the leadership post he had held since 2003. While Monday's ruling was a partial victory for DeLay, he cannot reclaim his post because he remains under indictment. The ruling means the case will move toward a trial next year, though other defense objections to the indictments remain to be heard by the judge.
"The court's decision to dismiss Ronnie Earle's numerous charges against Mr. DeLay underscores just how baseless and politically motivated the charges were," DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden said, referring to the Democratic district attorney who brought the case.
Then explain why the judge did NOT dismiss the money laundering charge...
"Mr. DeLay is very encouraged by the swift progress of the legal proceedings and looks forward to his eventual and absolute exoneration based on the facts and the law."
Then explain why the judge did NOT dismiss the money laundering charge. Damn, I hate repeating myself...
After the judge's decision, DeLay declined to speak with reporters as he entered a Houston hotel for a campaign fundraiser.
Well, considering he was one-for-two, and had a bunch of rubes to fleece, I suppose I can understand why he "declined" to comment on this development. But I wonder how much of this money he will raise will end up in the pockets of his attorneys as they try to defend this piece of shit. Oh, in case the memories are short, let's go back to the story to find out exactly what is on the line here:
DeLay, 58, and two GOP fundraisers, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, are accused of illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate donations to 2002 Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature. Under Texas law, corporate money cannot be directly used for political campaigns, but it can be used for administrative purposes.
That is why I can't understand why Judge Priest dropped the conspiracy charge. Christ, DeLay had two helpers. And since it only takes two to form a conspiracy, it would seem that this situation describes exactly that -- a conspiracy.
Friday, December 02, 2005
President Bush today pretended that the news that 215,000 new jobs had been created during November pointed to a strong economy. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
WASHINGTON - Eager to rescue approval ratings dragged low by the Iraq war, President Bush embraced an upbeat employment report Friday and pronounced the future of the U.S. economy "as bright as it's been in a long time."
So, the dumb bastard finally admitted that the economy sucked ass up until now. Thanks for the news flash Preznit Obvious Conclusion Reacher.
A buoyant president strode into the White House Rose Garden where snow flurries swirled to welcome a new Labor Department report showing U.S. jobs rebounding from a beating delivered by the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Nonfarm payrolls grew by 215,000 in November, the strongest increase since July, according to the report.
"This economy is in good shape," Bush said (lied) with a smile (smirk).
Bush did not mention the deaths in Iraq of 10 Marines who were killed Thursday by a roadside bomb near Fallujah. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush had been briefed twice about the incident, the deadliest in Iraq in nearly four months, before he spoke to the press. In all, more than 2,100 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003.
Great. Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy sees 10 more soldiers die under his watch and he has the audacity to act like this fake economic upturn entitles him to act as if he really knows what he is doing.
Leave it Preznit Delusional Fraud to paint a rosy picture of the landscape he has destroyed. The sad thing about this report is that a lot of people who should know better will think he's right in claiming that the U.S. economic picture is "as bright as it's been in a long time."
Let's review: Mr. Bush inherited a robust economy that he couldn't wait to wreck. His first set of tax cuts for the rich were made with his claim that "the economy is so strong that giving this money back to taxpayers will stimulate growth". When that strategery* failed miserably, as demonstrated by three million lost jobs and a 3,000 point decline in the stock market, the lying sack planned his next tax cut with the promise that "the economy is in such bad shape that giving this money back to the taxpayers will stimulate growth". Yada yada yada...
So now that this boob has brought the stock market back to within 700 points of where it was when he stole his way into office in January 2001, combined with a couple of lucky months of job growth increases that aren't all that impressive, he wants everyone to salute his economic genius.
How's this for a comparison? If a widget manufacturer hired someone to replace an indifferent production manager, and this new manager, in the course of eight years, increased monthly output from 1,000 units shipped a month to 10,000 a month, you'd think that was a pretty good performance right?
What then, if, after this eight year boom, the company decided to replace this manager with a new one, who was actually the son of the guy the first manager replaced, and, as a direct result of his new policies, the company immediately saw its shipments drop from 10,000 a month to 100, wouldn't you think that this new manager would be shitcanned in half a heartbeat?
But, even worse, not only does the new manager not get fired, but everyone goes gaga over his crappy performance. Industry insiders trip all over themselves to praise this maroon, and anyone who dares criticize his performance is called a fool. By the end of his fifth year at the helm, he has somehow managed to increase his shipments from 100 a month to 150 a month, so he now claims that things are not only better than they ever were before, but that even better days lie ahead.
Think of the first, indifferent manager as Bush 41. Think of the second manager, the one who brought eight years of solid growth and prosperity as Bill Clinton. Think of the current manager as Preznit Clueless Buffoon. I can't make the case much clearer than that.
*Actual Bush malaprop.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Chuck Schumer is trying to hold Judge Samuel Alito's feet to the fire as to why his history of having helped the Reagan administration in it's attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade was not disclosed as part of his coming out party when Preznit Clueless Thug nominated Alito to fill the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
WASHINGTON - In the latest Democratic challenge to Judge Samuel Alito, Sen. Charles Schumer on Thursday urged the Supreme Court nominee to detail any role he played in drafting the Reagan administration's 1985 request for reversal of a landmark abortion rights ruling.
Schumer said in a letter that it was "puzzling" that Alito had omitted mention of the case in filling out a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire that sought a detailed summary covering "the nature of your participation" in litigation before the Supreme Court.
What is puzzling to me is why Schumer found this development to be puzzling.
The questionnaire was made public Wednesday. It coincided with the release of a second document, a legal memo in which Alito urged fellow Reagan administration lawyers to seek the gradual erosion of abortion rights rather than mount an all-out repeal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. Despite the advice from Alito, the administration decided to seek a complete reversal in 1985. Its plea was rejected by the high court.
The letter from Schumer, D-N.Y., drew a sharp response from the White House. "It's increasingly apparent that Senator Schumer has no intention of giving Judge Alito's nomination any consideration whatsoever and that he will vote no on Alito like he did for Chief Justice (John) Roberts," spokesman Steve Schmidt said.
Schmidt said that Alito, in filling out the committee's questionnaire, listed the cases he had personally argued before the high court as well as those for which he had signed the legal brief.
Referring to the abortion-related case about which Schumer inquired, Schmidt said Alito did not write the brief. "Judge Alito's name was not listed on the Thornburgh brief and he was not the lawyer assigned to write the brief," Schmidt said. Reagan administration lawyers sought to have Roe overturned in the Thornburgh brief.
The tempest erupted as Sen. Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced plans to meet with Alito on Friday. Specter, R-Pa., also held two meetings with each of Bush's two former appointees to the high court — Roberts and Harriet Miers, who withdrew in the face of opposition from conservatives.
Schumer's letter suggested Alito should have included references to more cases. "Please clarify whether — apart from the legal memorandum you prepared in connection with the government's brief — you also participated in the drafting of the Thornburgh brief," he wrote. He also asked for information on any other cases on which Alito "had such direct and significant input ... but neglected to mention."
Alito worked in the Office of the Solicitor General in the Reagan administration at the time of the abortion-related cases. Charles Fried, acting solicitor general at the time, said in an interview that he alone wrote a 10-page portion of the legal paper that urged the court to reverse its landmark 1973 decision.
Alito "helped with the first part of the brief, which dealt with the jurisdictional errors of the court below," Fried said in an interview. "He had absolutely no part in writing the last 10 pages, which said Roe should be overruled. I wrote those pages personally and he had no link to that."
Albert Lauber, who also worked in the office at the time, had a similar recollection. He said he was assigned the task of writing the part of the brief that dealt with legal issues surrounding two cases that had come up through lower courts, but not the administration's request for the court to overturn the 1973 ruling.
As usual, the trolls don't get it. They are pretending that Schumer is picking on Alito due to his tangential involvement in the drafting of a nebulous brief that was submitted in one case. Schumer is really going after Alito because of the revelation that he is an anti-abortion rights crusader as shown by these words he wrote in the memo that Schumer has questioned:
“No one seriously believes that the court is about to overrule Roe v. Wade. By taking these cases, the court may be signaling an inclination to cut back. What can be made of this opportunity to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects?”
What could be plainer than that language? Sure, maybe Alito isn't foaming at the mouth crazy, at least publicly, about getting rid of Roe v. Wade, but does that make him less dangerous? There is also a lot of bullshit in that article about his respect for precedent, which is, as the memo aptly shoes, a bald-faced lie. That is what has Senator Schumer asking the question that every American, especially women, should be asking, namely, where exactly does this man stand on the matter of safe and legal abortion, and how far will he go, as part of his restrictive belief system, to remove this option from the table for some women?
I have one simple word of advice for Mr. Schumer: Filibuster!
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Senator Specter to Launch Colossal Waste of Time Commission for Terrell Owens? Vic Power, Seven Time Gold Glove Winner, Dead at 78.
Senator Specter to Launch Colossal Waste of Time Commission?
Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter (R - Tool) joined fellow solons John McCain (R - Straight Out Of His Ass Talk) and Jim Bunning (R - The Game Was Better In My Day) in the We Have No Other Pressing Issues That Need Attention club today by butting into the Terrell Owens v. Philadelphia Eagles "controversy". Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
PHILADELPHIA - Sen. Arlen Specter accused the National Football League and the Philadelphia Eagles of treating Terrell Owens unfairly and said he might refer the matter to the antitrust subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs.
Specter said at a news conference Monday in Harrisburg it was "vindictive and inappropriate" for the league and the Eagles to forbid the all-pro wide receiver from playing and prevent other teams from talking to him.
"It's a restraint of trade for them to do that, and the thought crosses my mind, it might be a violation of antitrust laws," Specter said, though some other legal experts disagreed.
The Eagles suspended Owens on Nov. 5 for four games without pay for "conduct detrimental to the team, and deactivated him with pay on Sunday after the suspension ended.
Arbitrator Richard Bloch said last week the team's actions were supported by the labor agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association.
"The arbitrator's decision is consistent with our collective bargaining agreement, and it simply enforced the terms of the player's contract," Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, said Monday.
"To have an antitrust violation, you have to have a contract or conspiracy in restraint of trade," said Robert McCormick, a law professor at Michigan State University.
Matthew J. Mitten, director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University, said, "We're in the labor arena, not antitrust."
Why the hell is Specter sticking his useless nose into this business? Does he, like the aforementioned senators McCain and Bunning, have nothing better to do with his time than insinuate himself into matters that not only do not need his interference, but that will sort themselves out in due course? Like McCain and Bunning, who implied that they had the right to make Major League Baseball toughen it's steroid testing policy, Specter is grandstanding.
Hey Arlen, news flash: There are probably hundreds of other matters on which you should focus your attention.
- The failure of the Iraq war and the probable fixing of the intelligence that led us into it.
- The federal government's woefully inadequate response to hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.
- The countless no-bid contracts given to Vice President Snarl's Halliburton and it's limitless subcontractors.
- The administration's outing of a covert operative to get back at her spouse for having the audacity to tell Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy that his Iraq nukes intelligence was bogus.
- Rampant corruption by members of your party in Congress (Cunningham, DeLay, Ney).
Vic Power, Seven Time Gold Glove Winner, Dead at 78
Baseball lost one of it's most colorful characters today when Vic Power, seven-time Gold Glove winning first baseman, died today of cancer at the age of 78. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
BAYAMON, Puerto Rico - Vic Power, a flashy fielding All-Star and the last major leaguer to steal home twice in a game, died Tuesday. He was 78.
Power died of cancer in a hospital in this suburb of San Juan, said his sister, Carmen Pellot Power.
A four-time All-Star who won seven Gold Gloves at first base from 1958-64, Power was known for his showy, one-handed snags. He hit .284 with 126 home runs and 658 RBIs in a 12-year career, mostly with the Athletics, Cleveland and Minnesota.
"I think Vic was one of the best-fielding first basemen of all-time," former Indians roommate Mudcat Grant said Tuesday. "He'd catch balls on one hop, two hops, all sorts of ways. "I remember once when he missed a popup over his head, down the right-field line. After the game, he took his glove into the clubhouse and cut it into little bitty pieces," Grant said. "He said he didn't need that glove anymore."
Power achieved a rare feat in 1958, becoming among only a handful of players to steal home twice in the same game. His swipe in the 10th inning led Cleveland over Detroit 10-9 — curiously, Power had only three steals the whole season.
Power was flamboyant on the field and off. He drove a Cadillac, listened to all kinds of music and liked to visit museums. "He liked life," Grant said. "He'd blow kisses to fans in the stands. And when I roomed with him, you never knew about Vic. He might come in right after the game, and he might come in four hours later."
Born in Arecibo, Power was among the first Hispanic players in the majors. Traded from the New York Yankees farm system in December 1953, he made his big league debut in 1954 with the Philadelphia Athletics. Power went with the A's when they moved to Kansas City in 1955, and was traded to Cleveland for Roger Maris in the middle of the 1958 season. That year, Power became the Indians' first Gold Glove winner.
He also played for Minnesota, the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies, and finished his career with California in 1965. Later, he played first and third base and worked as a manager in the Puerto Rican league.
After his retirement, Power set up a baseball academy for young players and managed an amateur team that participated in various international competitions.
Power is ranked as the 81st best first baseman of all time in the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. Here are Power's Career Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com (see link on my blog roll).
In James's capsule analysis he refers to Power as being "a spectacular defensive first baseman, an acrobat who would dive for ground balls half way to second base". Doug Meintkewicz, former Twins/Red Sox/Mets first baseman is the only active first baseman to play the position the way Power played it, just to give you an idea about how good Power was with the glove.
James also revealed that Power was stalled in the Yankee system after two outstanding years at their farm club in Kansas City. In 1952 he led the American Association in doubles with 40 and triples with 17 to go along with his .331 batting average, 16 homers and 109 RBI. He followed that season with a league-leading .349 batting average on 217 hits. These performances did not earn him a promotion to Yankee Stadium, at least not as a Yankee.
James points out that part of the delay in Power getting to the big leagues was the fact that he was a dark-skinned Puerto Rican who came along before the Yankees were ready to break the color barrier, which they finally did with Elston Howard in 1955.
Traded to the Philadelphia Athletics before the 1954 season, Power broke in as an outfielder, and would also play a little second base and third base from time to time, even once he had established himself as a top-notch first baseman. He was second in the American League batting race with a .319 batting average in 1955 (Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers won it with a .340 mark), and led the AL in triples with 10 in 1958. He was second in the AL in doubles with 34 in 1955 and again in 1958 with 37.
James ends his piece on Power with the following anecdote: "Vic Power in a restaurant in Syracuse, 1951. An embarrassed waiter shuffles up to him and explains, "I'm sorry, sir, we don't serve colored people." "That's OK," says Power. "I don't eat colored people."
Monday, November 28, 2005
Prominent San Diego Representative to Congress, Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty earlier today to having accepted bribes from defense contractors. This story has been getting wide play over on Atrios' Eschaton site. The following Yahoo News AP wire excerpt lays it all out:
SAN DIEGO - Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, an eight-term congressman and hotshot Vietnam War fighter jock, pleaded guilty to graft and tearfully resigned Monday, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes mostly from defense contractors in exchange for government business and other favors.
"The truth is I broke the law, concealed my conduct, and disgraced my office," the 63-year-old Republican said at a news conference. "I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, most importantly, the trust of my friends and family."
He could get up to 10 years in prison at sentencing Feb. 27 on federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and fraud, and tax evasion.
Investigators said Cunningham, a member of a House Appropriations subcommittee that controls defense dollars, secured contracts worth tens of millions of dollars for those who paid him off. Prosecutors did not identify the defense contractors.
Cunningham was charged in a case that grew out of an investigation into the sale of his home to a defense contractor at an inflated price (reported to be $700,000 more than it was worth).
In court documents, prosecutors said Cunningham admitted receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes paid in a variety of forms, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, antiques, rugs, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations.
Among other things, prosecutors said, Cunningham was given $1.025 million to pay down the mortgage on his Rancho Santa Fe mansion, $13,500 to buy a Rolls-Royce and $2,081 for his daughter's graduation party at a Washington hotel.
"He did the worst thing an elected official can do — he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there," U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said.
Cunningham was allowed to remain free while he awaits sentencing. He also agreed to forfeit his mansion, more than $1.8 million in cash, and antiques and rugs.
The case began when authorities started investigating Cunningham's sale of his Del Mar house to defense contractor Mitchell Wade for $1,675,000. Wade sold the house nearly a year later for $975,000 — a loss of $700,000 in a hot real estate market.
In addition to buying Cunningham's home at an inflated price, Wade let him live rent-free on the congressman's yacht, the Duke Stir, at a yacht club. Wade's company, MZM Inc., also donated generously to Cunningham's campaigns.
Around the same time, MZM was winning defense contracts. MZM does classified intelligence work for the military. It had $65.5 million of contracts for intelligence-related defense work in fiscal 2004, ranking No. 38 on the
I just watched a news segment on ABC that reported that Cunningham is expected to "cooperate" with investigators and possibly name other Congresspersons who may have committed similar crimes.
This case has been under investigation for a long time, and I've been following it peripherally through the web, primarily via Atrios and the perceptively snarky TBogg. From what I've read, it appears that Mr. Cunningham's Waterloo has been building for quite a while, and it was just a matter of time before he got careless.
In a discussion with Ken Kaniff, Connecticut's Most Wanted Gangsta, Ken opined, to the best of my memory, that this would hurt San Diego as far as any future base deployment activity would be concerned because that region would now be losing a strong voice in D.C. I mildly disagreed and said that any projected cutbacks in San Diego were probably already in the planning stages, and that the Bush administration would have likely reduced funds for San Diego and reallocate them to east coast harbors. Ken seemed to get my point, and we left it at that. What I left unsaid was my sense of wonder that Mr. Cunningham was never picked to be part of the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton team. It appears he would have been right at home.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
The following Yahoo News AP wire excerpt details a tentative plan by the Chinese to land men on the Moon by 2020:
HONG KONG - Fresh from its second manned space mission, China's space program wants to be able to put a man on the moon and build a space station in 15 years, an official said Sunday.
"I think in about 10 to 15 years, we will have the ability to build our own space station and to carry out a manned moon landing," said Hu Shixiang, deputy commander of China's manned space flight program.
But the goal is subject to getting enough funds from the government, Hu said, explaining that the space program must fit in the larger scheme of the country's overall development. Hu was in Hong Kong with the two astronauts who conducted China's second successful manned space mission in October. He spoke during a televised question-and-answer session with executives from various television stations and newspapers.
Nie Haisheng and Fei Junlong circled Earth for five days aboard the Shenzhou 6 capsule, traveling 2 million miles in 115 hours, 32 minutes. China's first manned mission was in 2003, when astronaut Yang Liwei orbited for 21 1/2 hours.
China wants to master the technology for a space walk and docking in space by 2012, Hu said. He said China was developing its space program at its own pace, not in competition with the United States.
What are the Chinese are thinking with this announcement? I'd guess that they are serious about this venture. It's just too bad that we were content to land men on the Moon six times from 1969 through 1972 and then abandon it in the face of huge budget cuts that all but made what passes for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs all but useless.
Do the Chinese have what it takes to make this vision a reality? I don't know enough about their research programs to make the call, but, if the Chinese do manage to succeed where we decided to aggressively fail, we will have nobody to blame but ourselves when the Moon and low-Earth orbit are no longer mostly controlled by the United States. But then again, with Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy's hand still shakily holding the joystick on his X-Box, it may be a blessing in disguise for the rest of the planet.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Augusto Pinochet, deadly former Chilean dictator, was arrested today, but not for orchestrating the murders of thousands of his people, but for tax fraud and passport forgery. Yahoo News Reuters excerpt:
SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was put under house arrest on Wednesday after being charged with tax fraud and passport forgery related to $27 million stashed in secret bank accounts under false names.
Judge Carlos Cerda, who is also the prosecutor on the case, issued the indictment, confined Pinochet to his home and set bail at $23,000. Additional charges include using false documents and incomplete statement of assets.
Pinochet, who will turn 90 on Friday, has been indicted in two human rights cases in the last five years, but the cases were thrown out by courts that ruled his mild dementia, caused by frequent mini-strokes, made him unfit to face trial.
Human rights lawyers have pushed for years to convict Pinochet in thousands of cases of torture and killings by secret police under his 1973-90 rule, but the recent bank accounts case is the one case that has gathered momentum.
The fact that this piece of shit, who should be rotting away in a smelly jail cell far away from real humans, is still living the high life is a cruel and twisted joke on the rest of us. The fact that he has been allowed to live free, and to see the age of 90 is proof that there is no true justice. The fact that this monster was a created in part by the Nixon White House only serves to emphasize this fact.
That $23,000 bail? Does anyone really think this terrible man can't have his people come up with that in less than ten minutes? And is anyone else struck by the irony that Pinochet is getting the Al Capone treatment here? Christ, the similarities are uncanny. Both men committed terrible crimes, in full sight of everyone, yet it took technicalities in tax codes to bring Capone to justice. Will the same thing finally put Pinochet away for good?
Another Republican representative has been thrust into the spotlight of the Jack Abramoff bribery probe. Ohio Rep. Bob Ney is being put on display as being a central figure in this scenario as is detailed in the following Yahoo News AP Wire excerpt:
WASHINGTON - Identified in new court documents as "Representative No. 1," Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio has become the poster boy in the Jack Abramoff bribery probe, a beneficiary of trips, tickets and campaign donations, allegedly in exchange for official acts.
Ney denies doing anything wrong, and he would hardly appear to be in the top tier of likely targets for Washington lobbyists. He is chairman of the House Administration Committee. The panel's work is often mundane, but important to everyone on the Hill — from overseeing the distribution of office furniture to protecting the Capitol after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
As low-profile as his duties might seem to be, Ney appears to face serious legal problems, has a legal defense fund and has hired a well-known Washington defense attorney, Mark Tuohey, a former deputy in Independent Counsel Ken Starr's criminal investigation of the Clintons.
Ney's relationship with Abramoff could end up hurting him on the political front back home, where Democrats hope to mount a strong challenge to the six-term congressman. He won re-election by a 2-1 margin in 2004.
The unwelcome notoriety Ney faces raises an intriguing question: Who else on Capitol Hill is in the prosecutors' gun-sights?
One man who may have some answers is Michael Scanlon, the former partner in Abramoff's lobbying firm. Scanlon, an ex-aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has become a government witness in the Abramoff investigation.
But for now, Ney is Exhibit A. Three full pages in the court papers in Scanlon's guilty plea Monday itemize things of value to Ney or his staff and official acts allegedly performed in return.
Ney has ready responses for all of them. The congressman says he was misled by Abramoff about who was paying for a 2002 golf trip to Scotland. Ney said "I was told point blank" that a conservative policy group was footing the bill. Ney said he backed a measure to help reopen an Indian-operated gambling casino in Texas after being assured by Abramoff that Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., supported it. Dodd said neither Abramoff nor Scanlon ever contacted him about it.
When evidence emerged that Abramoff and Scanlon had collected $80 million for representing six American Indian tribes with casinos, Ney said, "You do something that is in good faith — how did I know what they were charging their clients? Why would I hurt anyone, especially an Indian tribe?"
Ney has interesting historical connections to another Ohio congressman, the late Rep. Wayne Hays, who chaired the same committee that Ney now heads. Hays put his mistress on his payroll as his secretary, and when the arrangement was publicly disclosed, Hays was forced out of his chairmanship and eventually Congress.
So, little Mr. Innocent backed a proposal, and dealt directly with people who "collected funds" for Indian casinos, then turned around and charged the tribes for their "services". The Scotland Golf Expo? Gee, he thought someone else was footing the bill. Amazing. No accountability. But what else can we expect from today's GOP?
I'm particularly intrigued by the Abramoff - Scanlon - DeLay connection here. Something tells me things are going to get quite a bit more interesting now that Scanlon has been convicted, and is now apparently ready to roll over on as many others involved in this mess to lessen his own punishment. Is that the sound of Tom DeLay shitting a basketball-sized brick I hear?
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
A mere hour and forty-three minutes into the crap that made up the American Music Awards to that point, Carlos Santana and Los Lonely Boys saved the evening with a stirring version of "I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love". The song featured some tasty fills by Carlos as LLB guitarist Henry Garza sang the verses, then went into some biting back-and-forth interplay with the legend during the solo spot. They ended the song with some nice harmony lines and flurries to a standing ovation.
Carlos Santana is one of the people who taught me how to play the guitar (and one I will profile in more detail when I get around to compiling my all-time top ten guitarists list). His ability to play fiery yet passionate solos, as well as slow, melodic passages never fails to give me chills. Whether it is early songs like Soul Sacrifice, Europa, Samba Pa Ti, or more recent songs like Maria Maria or Put Your Lights On, Carlos has the ability to put his personal stamp on things. His tone is immediately recognizable, as it is with all the greats, so it was nice to see the plastic, trendy music industry throw a bone to a true natural music resource.
Now I can see what kind of crap is on the Sci-Fi channel...
The Red Sox are on the verge of landing the 2003 World Series MVP, 25-year-old fireballer Josh Beckett in a five-player deal with the Florida Marlins. ESPN excerpt:
The winter clearance sale at Florida Marlins headquarters is about to officially begin. That Josh Beckett is about to leave the racks doesn't seem to bother him a bit.
The Red Sox and cost-cutting Marlins have come to a tentative agreement on a trade that would send Beckett, the MVP of Florida's 2003 World Series win over the Yankees, and three-time All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell to Boston for highly touted shortstop Hanley Ramirez, right-handed pitching prospects Anibal Sanchez and Jesus Delgado.
The five-man deal is contingent on all players passing physicals. The two teams were to exchange medical information on Tuesday, reported ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, so an official announcement is still not expected for a day or two. That leaves open the possibility the deal could still fall apart, sources outside the Red Sox organization have told ESPN's Peter Gammons.
The Red Sox have agreed to take on all $18 million of the money owed to Lowell over the next two seasons, a baseball official with knowledge of the discussions told Stark. The Marlins are expected to save $13 million next season and as much as $30 million through 2007.
I guess that answers the question of who will play third base next year. Bill Mueller is a gutsy player, but Lowell, except for his off-year last year, is a 25 homer bat. Since Mueller is a 10-12 homer bat, Lowell, who won a Gold Glove last year, will get the nod, and Mueller will likely be cast off as a free agent.
That leaves us with the question of what will the Sox do with Kevin Youkilis. Word on the street is that he'll be given first crack at the first base job next spring. I hope so, because he is a patient hitter who probably just needs a consistent spot in the lineup to become a solid run producer. Defensively, he has soft hands and a strong, accurate arm. If this scenario emerges, it means the end of the Kevin Millar era, which is too bad, because Millar seems like a good guy to have on the team with his loose demeanor. Still, he killed the Sox with his dead bat last season, so Youkilis can't help but be an upgrade offensively at first base.
I don't know much about the two pitchers the Sox are giving up, but Ramirez looks like he's going to be a good player. But you have to give up quality to get quality, and adding Mr. Beckett, who shut the Yankees out 2-0 with a devastating five-hitter in Yankee Stadium during Game Six of the 2003 World Series (the Series clinching game), is a tremendous coup for the Sox. Beckett averages a strikeout an inning, something the Sox desperately need with their mediocre defense, and has a chance to become the staff ace with his blazing fastball and knee-buckling curve.
The Sox are looking to get younger in the pitching ranks, and Beckett, 25, will help the transition from veterans David Wells (42) and Curt Schilling (39) to Johnathan Papelbon (25) and relievers Manny Delcarmen (23) and Craig Hansen (21). Let's hope those pre-trade physicals go well!
The upcoming cold winter months will be tempered somewhat by a deal with Venezuela to help supply low-income Massachusetts residents with discounted home heating oil. Yahoo News AP Wire excerpt:
QUINCY, Mass. - Thousands of low-income Massachusetts residents will receive discounted home heating oil this winter under an agreement signed Tuesday with Venezuela, whose government is a political adversary of the Bush administration.
A subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company will supply oil at 40 percent below market prices. It will be distributed by two nonprofit organizations, Citizens Energy Corp. and the Mass Energy Consumer Alliance.
The agreement gives President Hugo Chavez's government standing as a provider of heating assistance to poor U.S. residents at a time when U.S. oil companies have been reluctant to do so and Congress has failed to expand aid in response to rising oil prices.
U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., met with Chavez in August and helped broker the deal. He said his constituents' needs for heating assistance trump any political points the Chavez administration can score.
The two nonprofit organizations will screen recipients for financial need and cooperate with oil distributors that will make discounted deliveries to qualifying homes and institutions, such as homeless shelters and hospitals.
Chavez proposed offering fuel directly to poor U.S. communities during a visit to Cuba in August. He has said the aim is to bypass middlemen to reduce costs for the American poor — a group he argues has been severely neglected by Bush's government.
Chavez has become one of Latin America's most vocal critics of U.S.-style capitalism, which he calls a major cause of poverty. U.S. officials accuse Chavez of endangering Venezuelan democracy by assuming ever-greater powers.
During a short-lived 2002 coup against Chavez, the U.S. government promptly recognized the new leaders, who were soon driven out amid a popular uprising.
Can you imagine the size of the brick Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy is going to shit at this news? If, as some tabloid stories assert, he is back on the booze, this will definitely send him on a bender. Bush HATES Chavez.
Putting that element aside, tips of the cap go to Rep. Delahunt and to Joseph Kennedy II, the founder of Citizens Energy, which has been providing discounted home heating oil to low-income Bay State residents for years.