Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tom DeLay Indicted! Red Sox Update.

Christmas In September? Tom Delay Indicted!

Due to the inconsistencies of the Blogger upgrade maintenance schedule, I lost a killer post I attempted for Tuesday, and last night's league bowling action (157, 171 and 183 for a 511 series to give me a 174 average) has put me further behind the old eight-ball. But recent developments warrant this rare early morning post. Christmas may be here early in the form of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's indictment yesterday by a Texas grand jury. If convicted, DeLay (R - Arrogant Punk) could be looking at some prison time for his role in moving corporate donation funds from his state's Republican party war chest to specific candidates, which violates Texas law. Austin-American Statesman excerpt:

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay temporarily resigned his leadership post Wednesday and demanded a quick trial on charges that he conspired to violate election laws barring the use of corporate money in Texas campaigns.

Yes, a quick trial means a quick conviction. I think the sooner we are rid of this ugly little brute, the better.

The moves came in response to a Travis County grand jury indicting DeLay and reindicting two associates, John Colyandro of Austin and Jim Ellis of Washington, on state felony charges of criminal conspiracy. Wednesday's indictment said the three agreed to violate state law in 2002 by giving $190,000 of corporate donations to the Republican National Committee, which, in turn, donated the same amount in noncorporate money to seven Texas candidates.

If convicted, DeLay could get two years in jail.

The Sugar Land Republican, already locked in a re-election battle and facing ethics questions in Washington, said Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, was paying him back for helping elect a Republican majority to the Texas Legislature in 2002 and for urging the creation of new congressional districts that favored Republicans and split Austin three ways.

Full Story

Simply put, Tom DeLay is a walking bag of corruption. This mess has been brewing for quite a while, and has now reached full ripeness. DeLay won't go down without a fight, because that is simply not in his nature. But it will be interesting to see how this plays out when the real heat is turned up. Question for Mr. DeLay: Tommy, how does it feel now that the shoe is on the other foot aimed right at your crooked arse? Correspondent Em Jeigh said it best when he came up with this gem: If (and I hope he does) gets convicted, I'll head down to the prison he's being carted off to, strut around in a flight suit, and unfurl a banner that says Mission Accomplished. Well said, my friend!

Red Sox Update

The Red Sox lost again last night to the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway by a score of 7-2. Sox starter Bronson Arroyo was smacked around like a pinata and didn't get out of the fourth inning. The loss, combined with the 2-1 Yankees win over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, puts the Sox in second place in the AL East, one game behind the Pinstripes. The Cleveland Indians lost a 1-0 game to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, so the Sox are tied with the Tribe for the AL Wild Card spot heading into today's action. The Sox finish their four-game series with the Jays tonight before the big weekend series hosting the Yankees.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Australian Solar Car Race. Kudos To Fox's Smith. Red Sox Update.

Australian Solar Car Race Begins

A solar car race across the Australian Outback began today. The race, which features an international field, should, in the wake of the latest hurricanes that have upset the price of gasoline, focus greater attention on fuel efficiency here in the U.S. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

DARWIN, Australia - Energy-efficient cars from 10 countries started the World Solar Challenge on Sunday, a 1,190-mile race from Darwin in Australia's north to Adelaide in the south.

The Nuon Solar Team from the Netherlands, which won the last two races, led the 21 solar cars across the start line for the expected four- to five-day trip down the center of Australia. Other favorites in the race are the Sky Ace Tiga from Japan and Australia's Aurora entry.

The cars, traveling only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, are expected to reach Adelaide late Wednesday or early Thursday. Nuon, which won in 2001 and 2003, holds the record of 32 hours, 39 minutes of total race time.

With spiraling world petrol prices, race director Chris Selwood said this year's race takes on added significance.
"It will definitely focus people's attention on petrol alternatives," said Selwood. "The almighty dollar always can help effect elements of change."

Full Story

But will this race, and the vehicles participating in it have the intended impact here in the good old U S of A, where many motorists ran out of gas evacuating Houston in advance of Hurricane Rita? Hundreds of drivers ran out of gas on the crowded roadways as they inched along in their 8-10MPG SUVs. And for all of President Crooked Oil Man's talk about creating more energy efficient cars, well that ain't gonna happen, at least not under his watch.

Fox Anchor Lauded For Telling The Truth!

In a shocking development, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith is being praised for the way he told the truth about what was happening in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His emotional and urgent reporting showed just what a lousy response all levels of government provided to these victims, and Smith didn't let talking heads like Sean Hannity roll out typical knuckledrag characterizations from the safety of the network studio. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - Much like a youthful Dan Rather made a name for himself with stellar coverage of a Gulf Coast hurricane two generations ago, Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith opened some eyes with his work in the face of a powerful and blustery force.

And we're not just talking about Hurricane Hannity.

Smith's passionate reportage from a New Orleans highway overpass clogged with the sick and dying won critical praise, helped renew interest in his nightly newscast and earned him his first visit to David Letterman's couch. Letterman's people called even before Smith's memorable exchange with talk show host Sean Hannity.

Fox's chief anchor will increase his profile even more with a nightly radio newscast that begins airing Monday on more than 260 Fox affiliates.

"What he did down in New Orleans was really an extraordinary accomplishment, which goes way beyond what we would expect a news anchor to do," said Paul Levinson, chairman of Fordham University's communications and media studies department. "He not only reported what was going on, he did not allow other people to minimize or mischaracterize what was happening."

An already tired and incredulous Smith appeared with Geraldo Rivera on "Hannity & Colmes" on Sept. 2, four days after Hurricane Katrina had blown past New Orleans to leave misery behind.

Hannity opened his show with images of the National Guard arriving in New Orleans, bringing hope and authority to a lawless town. Smith's reporting was far different. He talked of people at the overpass who believed they were getting the government's help but hadn't, and were suffering as a result. They weren't even allowed to cross a nearby bridge from New Orleans to Gretna.

"Over there, there's hope," Smith said. "Over there, there's electricity. Over there, there is food and water. But you cannot go from there to there. The government will not allow you to do it. It's a fact."

"All right, Shep," Hannity said. "I want to get some perspective here, because earlier today..."

Smith interrupted him. "That is perspective!" he said. "That is all the perspective you need!"

It was an electric, much replayed moment. Critics of President Bush and the administration's response to the hurricane seized upon it as an example of cold reality splashed in the face of one of the president's biggest fans.

Full Story

I'm not a fan of Fox. They have been carrying water for the Bush administration since he stole his way into power, and I usually tune in just to see how crazy their "reporting" gets from day to day, but I must give credit where credit is due. Shepard Smith stood up to Sean Hannity and made that brutal little thug eat it in front of his many viewers on Hannity and That Other Clown. Smith did two HUGE things in his report. One, he had the balls to actually get into the shit and find out what was happening to the victims, and then report honestly about it. Two, when Hannity began his typical knuckledragging, Smith slapped him down with an emphatic dose of humanity, a concept with which Sean is shamefully unfamilar.

Thanks to the double-team of Smith and Geraldo Rivera, it has been established that the stories of rampant crime in the affected areas were exaggerated, and that the hurricane's victims were treated brutally by law enforcement. Perhaps without realizing it, Fox News did this nation a favor by showing its viewers that this administration and it's talk of Compassionate Convservativism was all a bunch of bullshit. What a huge slice of irony it must be for the Bush team to know that the stories Fox carried may have helped push the President's favorability ratings into the toilet.

Red Sox Update

The Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards this afternoon by a score of 9-3 to sweep the three-game weekend series. Manny Ramirez hit his 41st home run of the season as part of a five run top of the first inning, and Johnny Damon later hit his 10th as the Sox bats crushed Orioles starter John Maine. Sox starter David Wells survived back-to-back first inning homers by Melvin Mora (his 23rd) and Miguel Tejada (his 26th) to pitch into the seventh inning.

The Sox now return home for the final seven games of the season. The first four are against the Toronto Blue Jays, and the final three will be played next weekend against the AL East co-leading New York Yankees. The Yankees beat the Blue Jays today 8-4.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dems Cowardly Help Roberts Nomination Go Forward. Bringing Back That Olde Tyme Religion!

I'm back on the farm after having bowled a 540 series in last night's wage slavery organization league action. The scores were 168, 175 and a season-high 197. These marks bring my season average to 175. Now, on to the news...

Dems Cave In Again On Roberts

The nomination of John Roberts to be the next Supreme Court Chief Justice is now headed to a full Senate vote thanks to three turncoat Democrats who bent over for President Divider. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

WASHINGTON - John Roberts' nomination as chief justice cleared a Senate committee on a bipartisan vote of 13-5 Thursday, with next week's confirmation so certain that Republicans and Democrats turned increasing attention to President Bush's choice to fill a second Supreme Court vacancy.

Before the committee vote on Roberts, Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., said, "I will vote my hopes and not my fears, and I will vote to confirm him." Kohl was one of three Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who supported Roberts' nomination along with all 10 Republicans on the panel.

Thanks a pantload Herb. How many more times are you and every other naive Democrat going to fall for this ruse?

"I don't see how anybody can justify a vote against Judge Roberts, unless they want to nitpick certain areas that you can nitpick on anybody," said Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Eat me Orrin. You of all people should know what real bipartisanship is all about. After all, Bill Clinton met with you to go over his prospective nominees for Supreme Court vacancies, so blow it out your pompous ass.

Five Democrats voted against Roberts, questioning his commitment to civil rights and expressing concern that he might overturn the 1973 court ruling that established the right to abortion.

"The values and perspectives displayed over and over again in his record cast doubt on his view of voting rights, women's rights, civil rights and disability rights," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said of the 50-year-old appeals court judge and former Reagan administration lawyer.

The Democratic support for Roberts marked a stinging defeat for the liberal groups that are lobbying energetically against confirmation. Without mentioning names, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., criticized them in remarks on the Senate floor, accusing them of "kneejerk, unbending and what I consider to be unfair attacks" on lawmakers who disagreed with them.

Even so, one prominent conservative said he was unimpressed with the level of bipartisanship in committee. "We're supposed to think the Democrats are being magnanimous? Give me a break," said Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society. He noted that several Supreme Court nominees of presidents of both parties have gained overwhelming bipartisan support in the past two decades.

Prominent conservative? How about obscure knuckledragger? Please refer to my previous remark to Senator Hatch you gimp. Mr. Leo has a funny view of the facts since people like John "I Lost A Senate Race To A Corpse" Ashcroft led several "because I personally don't like them" attacks on several of Bill Clinton's judicial nominees during his time in the Senate, so you, Mr. Leo, can also blow it out your pompous ass.

The full Senate is to debate Roberts' nomination next week, with all 55 Republicans expected to support him. A final vote is expected Thursday, in enough time to allow him to succeed the late William H. Rehnquist and become the 17th chief justice before the court begins a new term on Oct. 3.

The committee session over, Democrats not on the panel began making their positions known. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., a potential presidential contender in 2008, said she will oppose the nomination. In prepared remarks, she said, "Desire to maintain the already fragile Supreme Court majority for civil rights, voting rights and women's rights outweighs the respect I have for Judge Roberts' intellect, character and legal skills."

Full Story

As if we couldn't see this one coming a mile away. Even worse, this afternoon, while listening to National Public Radio, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont (D - Spineless Wimp) said that he would vote to confirm this troll. And Harry Reid (D - Kick Me), the laughable Democratic Minority Leader, has said the same thing. And for all of Joe Biden's grandstanding of last week, we know that he'll stupidly vote for confirmation as well. I hope you bastards sleep well knowing that you've just helped Bush put the fork to the following ideas:

  • A woman's right to choose what to do with her own body.
  • Civil rights.
  • Equal opportunity for women and minorities.
  • Church and State separation.
  • Limits To Executive Power.
Nice work. When Roberts begins attacking the positions listed above, you idiots will all tremble with shock and amazement that he could be capable of doing so. You should be ashamed of yourselves. In law enforcement terms, what you have done is called aiding and abetting. Does the name Judas ring any bells?

More Of That Old Time Religion

In yet another blow to the wall that separates Church and State, a new textbook will soon be introduced into public schools to pump up the Bible and it's "influence". No word yet on how the effort to introduce a new school uniform based on Medieval Religimous Costumery (tribute to the late, great Frank Zappa). Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

An interfaith group released a new textbook Thursday aimed at teaching public high school students about the Bible while avoiding legal and religious disputes. The nonprofit Bible Literacy Project of Fairfax, Va., spent five years and $2 million developing "The Bible and Its Influence." The textbook, introduced at a Washington news conference, won initial endorsements from experts in literature, religion and church-state law.

American Jewish Congress attorney Marc Stern, an adviser on the effort, said despite concern over growing tensions among U.S. religious groups, "this book is proof that the despair is premature, that it is possible to acknowledge and respect deep religious differences and yet still find common ground."

Another adviser, evangelical literature scholar Leland Ryken of Wheaton College, called the textbook "a triumph of scholarship and a major publishing event."

The colorful $50 book and forthcoming teacher's guide, covering both Old and New Testaments, are planned for semester-long or full-year courses starting next year.

The editors are Cullen Schippe, a retired vice president at textbook publisher Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, and Chuck Stetson, a venture capitalist who chairs Bible Literacy. The 41 contributors include prominent evangelical, mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish and secular experts.

Religious lobbies and federal courts have long struggled over Bible course content. To avoid problems, Bible Literacy's editors accommodated Jewish sensitivities about the New Testament, attributed reports about miracles to the source rather than simply calling them historical facts and generally downplayed scholarly theories — about authorship and dates, for example — that offend conservatives.

Full Story

That last sentence is the kicker. These people have produced a textbook that is aimed at pleasing the Jerry Falwell - Pat Robertson crowd, and the ones who will suffer are the students, whose main purpose in going to school is to learn to read, write, and to acquire a basic mathematical and scientific background--NOT to be indoctrinated into the Borg Collective of state sanctioned Biblical revisionism. Anybody who can't see this is either naive, or lying to themselves. This is nothing more than an evangelical Christian Trojan Horse. Well, at least this development is something that Judge Roberts and the anti-evolution crowd in Kansas will likely favor.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Simon Wiesenthal Dead At 96.

Legendary Holocaust survivor/Nazi war crimes hunter Simon Wiesenthal died today at his home in Vienna, Austria at the age of 96. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

VIENNA, Austria - The concentration camp guards stood with their rifles ready, awaiting the order to fire at Simon Wiesenthal and other prisoners standing along the edge of a pit where their bodies would topple. The future Nazi hunter waited to die. And waited.

Hours later, after many of the condemned slumped in exhaustion, the camp commandant strolled to the line and delivered a reprieve: Soviet troops were coming and the prisoners would be taken away.

"We thought we were going mad," Wiesenthal wrote after World War II. "Perhaps we feared (or hoped) we were mad already."

Wiesenthal, who died Tuesday in his sleep at his Vienna home at age 96, was driven by his memories of the Holocaust to fight for justice for its victims, dedicating himself to tracking down Nazi war criminals and to being a voice for the 6 million Jews who perished.

"I think he'll be remembered as the conscience of the Holocaust. In a way he became the permanent representative of the victims of the Holocaust, determined to bring the perpetrators of the greatest crime to justice," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

Wiesenthal lost 89 relatives during the war. He survived five Nazi concentration camps and seven other prisons, weighing just 99 pounds when a U.S. Army armored unit liberated him and other inmates at Mauthausen in May 1945.

Enlisted by the Americans to research war criminals, the architect pursued the mission long after Allied forces lost interest.

Wiesenthal spent more than 50 years hunting Nazi war criminals, speaking out against neo-Nazism and racism, and remembering the Jewish experience as a lesson for humanity. He estimated he helped bring some 1,100 Nazi war criminals to justice.

"When history looks back I want people to know the Nazis weren't able to kill millions of people and get away with it," he once said.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav praised Wiesenthal as the "biggest fighter" of his generation. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl noted the Nazi hunter personally "felt the shadow of history in its brutality."

Wiesenthal was first sent to a concentration camp in 1941, outside Lviv in what is now Ukraine. In October 1943, he escaped from the Ostbahn camp just before the Germans began killing all the inmates. He was recaptured in June 1944 and sent to Janwska, but escaped death when his SS guards retreated with the prisoners to escape Soviet troops.

Wiesenthal's quest began when he was freed by the Americans. He said he realized "there is no freedom without justice," and decided to dedicate "a few years" to that mission. "It became decades," he said.

Full Story

I heard this story on National Public Radio on my way home from work this afternoon. I'm far too young to have experienced any of the horrors that Mr. Wiesenthal endured, so anything I have to say is all but meaningless. I do know this: Simon Wiesenthal was a genuine hero. He survived the ordeal of the Nazi concentration camps, and made it his life's mission to capture and punish those who carried out these horrible acts. His tenacity and focus was intense as it sometimes took decades for many of the criminals he caught to face justice.

Wiesenthal's most famous target was SS leader Adolf Eichmann, whom he helped capture, with the assistance of Israeli agents, in 1960 to rid the world of that monster. In closing this post, I hope, for the sake of us all, that we have learned the lessons of history, and that there is never again a need for a man such as Simon Wiesenthal to take on such a grim task.

Monday, September 19, 2005

NASA's Cruel Joke. Former Bush GSA Head Arrested. Bill Clinton On Katrina Response.

NASA's New Bold Plan?

NASA has announced a bold plan to put people back on the Moon a mere 49 years after Apollo 11 made the first ever landing there. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - It will cost $104 billion over the next decade to send astronauts back to the moon, NASA's chief said Monday, defending the price tag as an investment the nation can afford despite the expense of Hurricane Katrina.

Described as "Apollo on steroids," the new moon exploration plan unveiled by the space agency will use beefed-up shuttle and Apollo parts and aims to put people on the moon by 2018.

"There will be a lot more hurricanes and a lot more other natural disasters to befall the United States and the world in that time, I hope none worse than Katrina," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said at a news conference.

"But the space program is a long-term investment in our future. We must deal with our short-term problems while not sacrificing our long-term investments in our future. When we have a hurricane, we don't cancel the Air Force. We don't cancel the Navy. And we're not going to cancel NASA."

Full Story

Well, that report certainly makes me feel better about the United States as a spacefaring nation. Mr. Griffin is either ignorant of history, or he is unbelievably optimistic. He should know that for decades NASA has been the main target of politicians who want to cut "pork" from the budget, despite the fact that these same politicians (Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin to name the most egregious offender) often use the money they steal from NASA to fund their own favorite boondoggle projects.

NASA has a yearly budget of $16 billion allocated to make it run, and, to put that into perspective, President Hasn't Got A Clue has spent over $300 billion to fight a useless war in Iraq. By my math, that money could have funded NASA for nearly 19 years under current economic conditions.

We've watched in horror as two space shuttles have exploded due to this cost cutting crap. Now is not the time to scale the budget back for this so-called bold initiative. We are either serious about establishing a presence in space, or we are sitting ducks waiting for the next large asteroid/comet strike to wipe us out like the dinosaurs. But since a group of dinosaurs is currently leading our nation, it should come as no surprise that these anti-science ass clowns think $104 billion until 2018 will be sufficient to get us ready to go back to the Moon.

Former Bush GSA Head Arrested

In another shining example of the Bush camp's "most ethical administration ever" bullshit, we find his former General Services Administration chief of staff arrested for lying about the deals he made with infamous lobbyist Jack Abramhoff in 2002. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

WASHINGTON - A former Bush administration official was arrested Monday on charges he made false statements and obstructed a federal investigation into his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to court documents and government officials.

David Safavian, then-chief of staff of the General Services Administration and a former Abramoff lobbying associate, concealed from federal investigators that Abramoff was seeking to do business with GSA when Safavian joined him on a golf trip to Scotland in 2002, according to an FBI affidavit and the officials.

At the time, FBI agent Jeffrey A. Reising said in the affidavit, a lobbyist — identified separately as Abramoff — had enlisted Safavian's help in trying to gain control of 40 acres of land at the Federal Research Center at White Oak in Silver Spring, Md., for a private high school that Abramoff helped establish and supported.

Full Story

It is getting so that this kind of news report no longer surprises anyone who knew Bush and his gang were a bunch of crooked bastards. I just wish the "liberal" press would do the same job of lambasting Bush and Co. about these transgressions as they did when Bill Clinton looked at a woman for more than eight (8) seconds at a fundraisier.

Bill Clinton - Helpful or Hurtful?

Speaking of Bill Clinton, the "liberal" press is in a complete uproar over his harsh criticism of the Bush Administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. On "This Weak With That Backstabbing Little Prick" this past Sunday, the former President offered some astute observations about the response and the relief effort that, while painful for Bush and his supporters to hear, need to be examined. AOL / New York Slimes excerpt:

WASHINGTON (Sept. 18) - Former President Bill Clinton, asked by President Bush to help raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, offered harsh criticism of the administration's disaster-relief effort on Sunday, saying "you can't have an emergency plan that works if it only affects middle-class people up."

Mr. Clinton's comments in an interview on the ABC News program "This Week" could prove awkward for the White House, given President Bush's eagerness to involve his Democratic predecessor in a high-profile role to raise money for the hurricane's victims. His remarks came days after the president gave a televised speech from New Orleans, trying to seize the momentum amid other attacks on the administration's performance.

Full Story

There is a transcript that provides more meat to this story. Please read it before jumping on the Clinton Is A Monday Morning Quarterback bandwagon.

This Weak Transcript

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Post 100! Bowling League Blues and Heavy Metal Moods. Mitt Romney's Troubles. State GOP Head Drug Money Laundering. Red Sox Lose.

Bowling League Blues and Heavy Metal Moods

This week has been a busy one for me. But I have good reasons for the delay of my 100th post. Here goes: I did double duty again by bowling for my own league, then subbed again for Ken Kanniff's league the following night. My Wednesday night performance was 151, 157 and 192 for a crisp 500. The following night saw me roll 125, 118 and 156 to put me at a crummy 399, my worst performance in a long time.

After that, I got bogged down in recording some thoughts for an outline to a piece of horror fiction I began writing, and got lost in the urgency of the task when the ideas began to flow. Maybe I'll post pieces of this story on a separate blog.

And after that, I had to prepare for a Saturday night party to celebrate the end of our softball season. I was asked to bring my guitar to the festivities, and a "entertained" the two-dozen revelers present to the soothing tones of Triumph, Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Europe and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The gear I brought was nothing fancy. My trusty Yamaha RGX312 guitar, a 15-Watt Fender amplifier and a Jim Dunlop Cry-Baby wah-wah pedal provided the sounds. Luckily the hosts had a good selection of hard rock CDs (in addition to the ones I brought) which I was able to play along with. I did get some strange requests for Elvis and Abba, but I think those were driven by the increased alcohol content as the day wore on. Now on to the news that happened while I was bowling and shredding...

Romney Eats It

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R - Invasive Jerk) got bitch-slapped by the state legislature on Thursday when they overrode his veto of a bill to provide access to contraception in cases that were emergencies. Maine News excerpt:

BOSTON — The state Legislature voted Thursday to override Gov. Mitt Romney´s veto of a measure that will expand access to emergency contraception. The measure, which the Republican governor vetoed in July, will require hospital emergency room doctors to offer the medication to rape victims. It also will make the medication available without a prescription.

The Senate voted unanimously 37-0 to override the veto. In the House, the vote was 139-16 to override.

The governor said the medication, known as the "morning after pill," is already widely available without a mandate from the state. Romney said he was concerned that the hormone regimen could abort a fertilized egg.

Signing the bill, he said, would violate a campaign pledge he made not to change the state´s abortion laws. The bill also could also alienate crucial anti-abortion activists as Romney weighs a run for president in 2008.

Full Story

That last sentence is a key to Romney's actions. He clearly sees the regressive path on which our country is headed, and he would like nothing more than to speed up this Back to the Future Republican agenda. Thankfully, the state legislature told him what he could do with his hardcore attitude in this instance.

Mass GOP Head Charged In Drug Money Laundering Scheme

In another bit of good news for Massachusetts state Republicans, the head of the state GOP has been arrested and charged with laundering drug money for one of his clients. Boston Globe excerpt:

BOSTON --The vice chairman of the state Republican Party was charged Tuesday with money-laundering after he allegedly offered to "cleanse" drug proceeds for a legal client. Lawrence Novak, 54, an attorney from Brockton, was arrested at his home Tuesday after investigators said he allegedly offered to launder drug profits for Scott Holyoke, who is awaiting trial on federal drug trafficking charges and agreed to be a cooperating witness against Novak for the FBI.

Novak was taken into custody after he allegedly deposited money in a Brockton bank, federal authorities said.
Gov. Mitt Romney called for Novak to step down while the investigation continues.

"The charges against Larry Novak are very troubling and Gov. Romney believes that it's appropriate while these charges are pending for Mr. Novak to step aside as vice chairman of the state party," said Romney's spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom. Republican Party Executive Director Tim O'Brien said the charges are unrelated to Novak's GOP role. Novak served at the party's treasurer in the late 1990s.

Full Story

This was not a good week for Governor Romney. First this drug money laundering deal by his party chairman, then the giant turd burger he was forced to eat over the emergency contraception bill he foolishly vetoed only to have the legislature override him. Good times if you are, like me, a liberal who sees reactionary dolts like Romney as the enemies of progress. If you are not, then I'm sure you will find a way to blame it on the Democrats. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the governor. Even though he doesn't appear to have been directly involved in anything at the moment, this could have a huge negative impact on his ambitions to run for president in 2008.

Red Sox Update

The Red Sox lost a brutal one to the Oakland Athletics this afternoon 12-3. Sox starter Matt Clement was knocked around for seven runs and didn't get out of the second inning. Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez hit two homers (his 24th and 25th of the season) and drove in five runs as the A's cruised behind the one-run, seven inning performance by their starting pitcher Kirk Saarloos who picked up his tenth victory of the season. The Sox remain 1 1/2 games in front of the Yankees who lost today in Toronto 6-5. The Sox now travel to Tampa Bay for a series against the last-place Devil Rays.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hayabusa Spacecraft Asteroid Rendezvous. Supernova Champ Catches 40th Prize.

I decided that today you won't get any musings about John Roberts and his continuing effort to avoid answering any real questions (or Senator Biden's grandstanding) during his confirmation hearings. Nor will I rant about the Bungler in Chief and his painfully obvious shortcomings in dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I'm not even going to subject you to the roller coaster ride that is the Boston Red Sox. Today's post is dedicated to the stars, and my material comes from the Sky and Telescope web site.

Hayabusa Spacecraft Arrives at Asteroid Itokawa

September 12, 2005 After a series of programmatic setbacks, including the recent loss of a key instrument on the Suzaku X-ray observatory, Japanese space scientists finally have something to cheer about. This morning at 1:00 Universal Time, at a point some 320 million kilometers (200 million miles) from Earth, a spacecraft named Hayabusa reached asteroid 25143 Itokawa and eased into position just 20 kilometers away from it.

For the next two weeks the spacecraft will maintain its 20-km standoff distance on the asteroid's sunlit side, moving inward to just 7 km away by month's end, to map the entire surface as Itokawa slowly rotates every 12.1 hours. In addition to its Asteroid Multiband Imaging Camera (AMICA), which records light at seven visible and infrared wavelengths, Hayabusa carries a laser altimeter to measure surface heights and two spectrometers to analyze mineral compositions. Initial images from the camera show that Itokawa is about 600 meters long and very elongated, appearing much as expected from ground-based scrutiny.

The spacecraft will also deploy a small lander, called Minerva, designed to hop from spot to spot for a few days and view the landscape with three cameras. Hayabusa should make it back to Earth in June 2007, when its sample container, sealed to protect its thimbleful of asteroid, will plunge through the atmosphere and parachute into the Australian Outback.

Itokawa is an Apollo-type asteroid whose orbit crosses that of Earth over time and thus represents a potential impact threat. Its 1.5-year orbit frequently brings it near the Earth most recently in 2001 and 2004, when observatories and radar antennas studied it intensively.

Full Story

We are learning more and more about these flying mountains, and it's long overdue, as the information in the last paragraph of the excerpt points out. Earth crossing asteroids and comets are abundant, and it is only a matter of time before one of these objects strikes our planet. In recent years, we have obtained a growing catalogue of these objects, and missions like this one will help us to determine how to best deal with the threat they pose.

Supernova Champ Makes 40th Find

September 2, 2005 On the night of August 4th, legendary supernova hunter Robert O. Evans made his 40th visual discovery of a supernova, a world record. Evans spotted and recognized the new, 14th-magnitude star in the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1559 using his 12-inch Newtonian reflector and his prodigious memory for star fields.

Evans observes from his backyard in Hazelbrook, New South Wales, about 100 kilometers (70 miles) west of Sydney. He searches for supernovae by memorizing the fields of galaxies. He has committed more than 1,000 galaxies and their environs to heart down to magnitude 15, so that he can check each field rapidly and systematically just by eye.

Evans made his first official find in 1981. "Of the 40 visual discoveries," he writes, "10 were found with my 10-inch reflector; 18, I think, with my 16-inch; 3 with the 40-inch telescope at Siding Spring Observatory; and the rest with the 12-inch that I now use here at home."

In addition, Evans has found five more supernovae and a comet on photographs: four of the supernovae and the comet on UK Schmidt plates as part of a professional-amateur search effort, and one on ESO Red Survey plates. Designated SN 2005df, his latest supernova was soon determined to be of Type Ia, caught a few days before it attained its maximum brightness.

Type Ia explosions happen in a close binary-star system where a white dwarf, accreting matter from its companion star, reaches critical mass, becomes unstable, and starts to shrink. In a matter of seconds its material undergoes a complete thermonuclear runaway reaction. The catastrophic explosion can, for a few days, outshine its entire host galaxy.

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While on a three-week work assignment in North Ryde, NSW, Australia (about a 30-minute drive west of Sydney) in late January-mid February, I had the good fortune to see a science program on the local television station detailing Evans's career as an observer. His performance is nothing short of astounding given the tools he uses to watch the skies. As the larger observatories get more and more involved with observing various objects in different portions of the spectrum with instruments that are becoming more and more exotic, it has fallen to "backyard" astronomers to make visual discoveries like the ones Evans has made.

The type Ia designation is an important one because we have two nearby stellar neighbors, Sirius, the brightest star, and Procyon that have close white dwarf companions. Sirius in Canis Major, and Procyon in Canis Minor are 8.6 and 11.4 light-years away from us, and are two of the closest star systems to our solar system. To get an idea about whether our proximity to these systems places us in danger, the 1991 novel Supernova by Roger MacBride Allen and Eric Kotani takes a speculative look at what might happen if the Sirius system underwent such an explosion.

Every northern hemisphere astronomer, whether a professional or an amateur should take at least one trip south of the equator to view the parts of the sky that are hidden by Earth's curvature. My stay occurred during the southern hemisphere summer, and to see familiar winter constellations like Orion, Taurus and Gemini hanging low in the northern sky "upside down" was a lesson in perspective (as was the upside down Moon!). Gone were the familiar Big Dipper and Little Dipper, Cassiopeia and Cepheus.

Conversely, to look at the southern circumpolar stars of Centaurus, Carina and the Southern Cross was the icing on the cake of my stay in Australia (in addition to Sydney Harbor, Manly Bay, the Sydney Cricket Grounds, Macquarie Centre...but I digress). Armed with a pair of Canon 10x50 binoculars, I was treated to the richness of the deep southern part of the Milky Way--a part of the sky that is now invisible to me as I gaze south from my yard to see the sky end at Scorpius and Sagittarius. To close this post, I salute Mr. Robert Evans. Cheers to you sir!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Brown Resigns FEMA Post. Roberts Nomination Softball Spectacle Begins. Blackout Hits Los Angeles.

Brown Resigns FEMA Post For Dubya

FEMA director Michael Brown has finally fallen on his own sword for Clueless Leader with the announcement of his resignation from the post he was embarrassingly ill-equipped to run. AOL News excerpt:

WASHINGTON (Sept. 12) - Federal Emergency Management Agency director Mike Brown said Monday he has resigned "in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president," three days after losing his onsite command of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Brown, under fire for FEMA's performance in the Gulf Coast, said he feared he had become a distraction. "The focus has got to be on FEMA, what the people are trying to do down there," Brown told The Associated Press.

It's too bad this troll didn't understand that before he dragged his feet and allowed thousands to suffer for no good reason other than the fact that he was in way over his head with this catastrophe. But you've also got to love the quote in the first paragraph, that bullshit about doing what was "in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president". That is the Bush administration in a nutshell. Nothing can be allowed to distract from Bush's self-perceived greatness.

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I wonder what the BFEE payoff to this empty suit was for "taking one for the team"? Whatever it is I hope it gives him little comfort as it will be a constant reminder of all those people he let down due to his complete and utter incompetence.

Roberts Nomination Softball Spectacle Begins

No intro needed. AOL News excerpt:

WASHINGTON (Sept. 12) - Supreme Court nominee John Roberts said Monday that justices are servants of the law, playing a limited government role, as the Senate opened confirmation hearings on President Bush's choice to be the nation's 17th chief justice.

"A certain humility should characterize the judicial role,'' the 50-year-old Roberts told the Judiciary Committee. "Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around.''

The appellate judge likened jurists to baseball umpires, saying that "they make sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.''

True, but that doesn't stop some umpires from taking games over. Remember the Jeffrey Maier home run in the 1996 ALCS that helped propel a rookie shortstop to demigodhood? Veteran umpire Richie Garcia (one of the most insufferably arrogant jerks in the game) ruled that Derek Jeter's long fly that would have been caught by right fielder Tony Tarasco was a homer, even though he theoretically had the best view of the ball. So it is with Roberts. He theoretically has a better view of Constitutional matters than you or I, but that won't necessarily stop him from doing what he feels best, even if his decisions, like the Jeter-Garcia homer, are not in everyone's best interests.

The drama of Roberts' swearing-in and his short statement capped a half day in which Democrats and Republicans sparred over the legitimacy of questioning him about divisive issues. Arguments about ideology and judicial activism also marked the hours devoted to opening statements from the 18-member panel.

Speaking without notes, Roberts addressed the committee for about six minutes - barely half the time each of the senators had been allotted for opening statements before he took the oath and made his remarks. He will answer questions from senators at much greater length on Tuesday.

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Six minutes?!? That's all the material this dummy could come up with? No wonder Bush wants Roberts so badly, he's got less on his mind than anyone could have possibly anticipated. Can't wait to see how day two unfolds...

Blackout Hits Los Angeles

Los Angeles was hit with a power outage this afternoon. AOL News excerpt:

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 12) - A large portion of Los Angeles was hit with a blackout Monday afternoon. The city was investigating the cause and extent of the outage. But Sgt. Catherine Plows, a police spokeswoman, said terrorism was not suspected.

Electrical power was knocked out shortly before 1 p.m. after two power surges. Fire officials said they received reports of people stuck in elevators, and traffic was snarled at intersections throughout the city when stop lights went dark. Some neighboring cities also were affected.

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The agents of chaos are having quite a time for themselves lately. First it was Hurricane Katrina, now this blackout hits LA, and we still have Tropical Storm/Hurricane Ophelia churning away off the Carolina coast. It's a good thing we have a strong leader in charge to guide us through such uncertainty.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Specter To Play Softball With Roberts. Setback For Ancient Navigation Attempt. Bronx Pitchers Duel.

Specter To Play Softball With Roberts

In a continuing pattern of helping his party erode the rights of American citizens, Senator Arlen Specter has agreed to play softball regarding John Roberts' views on Roe v. Wade during Roberts' upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday he will not ask Supreme Court nominee John Roberts whether he would vote to overturn the landmark decision that legalized abortion.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., did say he planned to ask Roberts, the president's pick to succeed the late William H. Rehnquist as chief justice, whether there is a right to privacy in the Constitution.

Right, and you'll act satisfied when Roberts says that there is, then pretend to be shocked to learn that he lied, just as Slappy Thomas lied about the same matter during his confirmation hearings.

Specter said he was uncertain whether Roberts would favor overturning the Roe v. Wade
decision from 1973 that established a right to abortion. Specter supports a woman's right to choose to end her pregnancy.

How can this boob be uncertain of such a possibility when Roberts has worked for organizations like Operation Rescue?

"I think it is inappropriate to ask him head-on if he's going to overturn Roe, but I believe that there are many issues close to the issue, like his respect for precedent," Specter told NBC's Meet the Press. "We'll get a better idea of his views, but I think at the end of the hearings he's not going to take a definitive stand on that question," the senator said.

No shit he's not going to take a definitive stand until you bastards confirm his religiously insane ass for the job. Then it will be too late to ask these "inappropriate" questions. I have a question for Mr. Specter: Are you simply too lazy, or just too scared to do your goddamned job?

He said people are not wrong to want to know Roberts' views on abortion, "but a judge ought not to have to make commitments in advance as to how he's going to decide cases or (if) it impinges on his judicial independence."

Asking whether cases such as Roe or Bush v. Gore, which cleared the way for George W. Bush's election victory in 2000, were decided properly would be too close to asking whether Roberts would vote to overrule a case, Specter said. Such questions "ask a little too much," the senator said.

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That's really the bottom line here. Specter, acting as a Republican first, and an American second (at best) doesn't want to make Roberts look like the regressive dolt he is (look at his views on abortion, equal pay for women, etc.), so he's going to lob a few batting practice fastballs for Roberts to hit into the cheap seats. Then, talking heads like Timmeh Russert and Chrissy Matthews can pretend that Roberts faced tough questions. Then again, Specter is the clown who helped come up with that "magic bullet" nonsense that has clouded any real investigation into the JFK assassination, so we shouldn't be so surprised that he's going to roll over for President Uncaring Bastard's Stepford Nominee.

Setback For Ancient Navigation Attempt

An international crew suffered a quick setback in an attempt to use ancient shipbuilding techniques to sail across the Indian Ocean. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

CAIRO, Egypt - It was a quick end for a Bronze Age-style boat of reeds and tar, sinking just after leaving Oman on a voyage across the Indian Ocean. But its crew vowed Saturday to try again to prove that traders 4,000 years ago could have made the journey to India.

The 40-foot boat, dubbed the Magan after an ancient name for Oman, set sail Wednesday from the Gulf sultanate's port of Sur but several miles offshore it started to take on water and sank within 30 minutes.

Its eight-member crew of two Americans, an Australian sailing master, two Omani seamen, two Italian graduate students and an Indian archaeologist tried to bail out the water but soon had to escape on a life raft to an Omani ship escorting the Magan, the crew said in a statement.

The boat was made from reeds, date-palm fibers and bitumen tar, with a wool sail and two teak oars. The team was hoping to make the 600 mile voyage across the Indian Ocean to the historic Indian port of Mandvi to follow what archaeologists believe was a Bronze Age trade route.

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The idea that these types of voyages were not only made, but that they were common in the ancient world has slowly begun to gain acceptance recently, and it is largely due to work like this. This story is reminiscent of the voyages Thor Heyerdahl made with boats constructed of similar materials like the Kon-Tiki and the Ra that crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the west coast of Africa. I hope these guys get it together and re-launch a successful voyage.

Bronx Pitchers Duel

The Red Sox lost a tough one this afternoon to the New York Yankees 1-0 at Yankee Stadium in what turned out to be an old fashioned pitchers duel. Randy Johnson threw seven innings of one-hit ball, and struck out seven to earn the win for the Pinstripes. He didn't really need, but received bullpen help from Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera, who got the save.

Sox starter Tim Wakefield pitched eight strong innings, surrendering just three hits, but one of them was a first inning homer by Jason Giambi, his 29th of the season. Wakefield's knuckleball was ridiculous as he struck out a career high 12 Yankee batters.

The Sox lead in the AL East now drops to three games, as the team travels to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays, against whom they have struggled this season. The Yankees travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Devil Rays who have given them fits this season (the Yanks are 5-11 against them).

Saturday, September 10, 2005

More Rovian Irregularities. WAHHH Time For Top FEMA Official. Knuckledrag Radio Mexican Relief Effort Insults. Red Sox Update.

After having put up with spotty connection issues, and the start of my wage slavery organization's bowling league, I find myself in the position of having to play catch-up. The connection stuff seems to be solved, and the inaugural week of the 2005-6 bowling season got off to a good start Wednesday night with a 533 series (193, 147 and 193). The rust having been scraped off, I bowled as a sub the following night for Ken Kanniff's league and managed only a 456 (148, 137 and 171). Now that that is out of the way, on to the news:

More Rovian Irregularities

The Rove shit machine continues to heap stinking piles of excrement on anyone unfortunate enough to get close enough to the stench. The following Yahoo News AP wire excerpt gives us the gory details of Rove's latest victim:

AUSTIN, Texas - A lawyer with the Texas secretary of state was fired after she spoke to a reporter about presidential adviser Karl Rove's eligibility to vote in the state.

Elizabeth Reyes, 30, said she was dismissed last week for violating the agency's media policy after she was quoted in a Sept. 3 story by The Washington Post about tax deductions on Rove's homes in Washington and Texas.

Scott Haywood, a spokesman for Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, confirmed Reyes' firing but wouldn't discuss specifics. He had earlier told the Post that Reyes "was not authorized to speak on behalf of the agency."
Reyes told the Post on Friday a superior told her that her bosses were upset about the article. Williams has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Republicans, including President Bush
, who relies heavily on Rove for political strategy.

While Reyes said she didn't know she was talking to a reporter, she said the press policy doesn't bar her from speaking with the media. "The policy allows us to talk to members of the media," she told the Post. "The policy says if it's a controversial issue or a special issue, it needs to be forwarded on to someone else. Just talking to the media doesn't violate it, as I read it. ... Karl Rove didn't come up. It wasn't something you could classify as controversial."

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I guess I can see how Reyes would think that such a matter would not be controversial. After all, if the Valerie Plame leak story isn't controversial, then this little ripple should barely raise an eyebrow. Seriously though, does anyone remember when Dubya, as part of his 2000 campaign, promised to install "the most ethical administration ever"? Note to President Blatant Conflict Of Interest--we're still waiting!!!

WAHHH Time For Top FEMA Official

FEMA Director Michael Brown is now playing the victim in the wake of his dismissal as point man on the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort, as the following Yahoo News AP wire excerpt shows:

DENVER - Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown sent a candid e-mail to family and friends this week as he was becoming the center of criticism of the handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

"I don't mind the negative press (well, actually, I do, but I try to ignore it) but it is really wearing out the family," Brown wrote. "No wonder people don't go into public service. This country is devouring itself, the 24-hour news cycle is numbing our ability to think for ourselves," the Rocky Mountain News reported Saturday.

Brown was relieved of his command of the onsite relief efforts Friday amid increasing criticism over the sluggishness of the agency's response and questions over his background.

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Can this guy really be that fucking clueless? That "No wonder people don't go into public service" crap shows just what an inept fool Brown is. Unfortunately, his attitude reflects the values of the Bush administration as a whole in that they don't want to ever be held accountable for things that go wrong. It is especially galling to hear such whining when this man played a direct part in the agonizingly slow FEMA response to this tragedy. Of course, this troll is simply a reflection of his boss, President "The Buck Stops Anywhere But With Me". Does anyone remember the "liberal media" falling all over themselves during Campaign 2000 saying things like: "So what if Bush isn't that smart? The President doesn't need to be the smartest man in the room." Well, look at the price we've paid with this dunce in charge. Bush supporters, I hope you are happy...

Knuckledrag Radio Mexican Relief Effort Insults

Yesterday afternoon, on my way home from my wage slavery containment facility, I made the mistake of listening to Jay Severin's right wing nutjob program. As part of his effort to absolve President "Now Watch This Drive" of any culpability in the shameful response to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Severin began hurling insults at the Mexican military and their efforts to aid in the recovery by supplying water purification equipment and mobile food dispensaries.

Among his insults were statements that the Mexican culture is inferior to ours and that they weren't really serious about helping. Unfortunately, I have no link to provide as his local station (96.9 FM) does not provide show transcripts. However, Jay had a surprise waiting for him when several callers expressed shock and dismay at his callous dismissal. One caller even referred to his words as hateful and spiteful. Jay, unaffected by his listeners and their pitiful sensitivity, continued to maintain a stooped posture to even more egregiously drag his knuckles. I wonder how much longer Severin's audience, which he refers to as "the best and brightest" will continue to put up with this crap. As terrible events bring out the best in some people, it is also true that they magnify the ugliness of others, and Mr. Severin's bad manners, for those who care about such matters, tells you all you need to know about this Rush Limbuagh wannabee.

Red Sox Update

After last night's hideous 8-4 loss in the opening game of a three game series against the second place Yankees at Yankee Stadium, the Sox evened things up this afternoon 9-2 behind the solid pitching of Curt Schilling, and the bats of Manny Ramirez and John Olerud.

Schilling threw eight strong innings to give the Sox staff a much needed shot of confidence as the stretch run heats up. After a David Ortiz walk, Manny Ramirez gave the Sox an early 2-0 lead in the first inning with the 34th homer of the season. John Olerud blasted his seventh homer in the fourth inning, an inning that saw the Yankees make some key defensive mistakes that were similar to the ones the Sox made last night. Yankee starting pitcher Shawn Chacon, though not particularly sharp, was hurt when Hideki Matsui dropped a fly in left field, and Robinson Cano threw a potential double play ball into the stands to help keep the Sox bats alive. Chacon was relieved by Felix Rodriguez and Al Leiter. With a big lead, Schilling cruised for most of the afternoon, allowing a homer to Jason Giambi (his 28th of the season), and a single run in the 8th inning (when he should have been in the dugout). Rookie John Papelbon hurled a scoreless ninth inning to seal the victory. The Sox lead in the AL East is now back to four games. The two teams play again tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Dubya's Double-Dip. Nominates Roberts To Be Supreme Court's Next Chief Justice.

Well, it appears that neither myself, nor Ken Kanniff, Connecticut's Most Wanted Gangsta, are winners in the who's going to be the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court sweepstakes. Apparently, Dubya is gonna attempt a double-dip by nominating John Roberts, who is already under scrutiny as the choice to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor, to the post. AOL News AP Wire excerpt:

WASHINGTON (Sept. 5) - President Bush on Monday nominated John Roberts to succeed William H. Rehnquist as chief justice and called on the Senate to confirm him before the Supreme Court opens its fall term on Oct. 3. Just 50 years old, Roberts could shape the court for decades to come.

The Senate is expected to begin his confirmation hearings as chief justice either Thursday or next Monday. The opening of Roberts' previously scheduled confirmation hearings, for the position of associate justice, initially was to be Tuesday, but that was canceled until after Rehnquist's funeral on Wednesday.

The swift move would promote to the Supreme Court's top job a newcomer who currently is being considered as one of eight associate justices. It would also ensure a full 9-member court, because retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has said she will remain on the job until her replacement is confirmed.

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So are we really surprised that President Useless Bungler has chosen his Stepford Nominee to leapfrog to the position of Chief Justice? The only way this could have been a surprise would have been if this announcement had come when Rehnquist was still alive. Within that scenario, my money was on Tony Scalia. Mr. Kanniff's Greenspans were on Slappy Thomas. But Rehnquist's death changes everything. Look for the Democrats to stifle what little resistance they had to the initial Roberts nomination, so as not to appear like insensitive ogres in the wake of Rehnquist's passing.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist Dead At 80. Halliburton To Gouge New Orleans In Katrina Aftermath. Red Sox Update.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist Dead At 80

WASHINGTON - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening of cancer, ending a 33-year Supreme Court career during which he oversaw the court's conservative shift, presided over an impeachment trial and helped decide a presidential election. His death creates a rare second vacancy on the nation's highest court.

"The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his duties on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days," said court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg. Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court as an associate justice in 1971 by President Nixon and took his seat on Jan. 7, 1972. He was elevated to chief justice by President Reagan in 1986.

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I'm not going to shed too many tears over this. Rehnquist was an enemy of abortion rights, affirmative action, gay rights and equal pay for women. He was also an enemy of democracy, voting to halt the Florida recounts in the 2000 elections, thereby giving the White House to President Useless Bungler. He also saw little distinction between church and state as he favored public tax money to fund private religious schools. In addition, as a law clerk for the Supreme Court in the early 1950s, Rehnquist wrote memos suggesting that the Court vote against the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision that outlawed racial segregation in public schools.

Yet despite all these conservative qualifications, you can bet that people like Ann Coulter will scream that Bush needs to appoint someone even more draconian to replace him, just as she did when Sandra Day O'Connor retired and John Roberts was nominated as her possible successor. Neither O'Connor nor Roberts had enough conservative cred for Crazy Annie, as she detailed in two recent Town Hall columns Reagan's Biggest Mistake Finally Retires and Read My Lips: No New Liberals that readily display her complete break from reality.

In any event, it will be interesting to see how the process to replace the late Chief Justice goes, given the clumsiness with the Roberts nomination.

Halliburton To Gouge New Orleans In Katrina Aftermath

As if the survivors of Hurricane Katrina don't have enough about which to worry, it now appears that a Halliburton subsidiary has been chosen to lead the effort to rebuild some of the military facilities that were damaged by the storm. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

WASHINGTON - A Halliburton Co. subsidiary that has come under fire for its reconstruction work in Iraq has begun tapping a $500 million Navy contract to do emergency repairs at Gulf Coast naval and Marine facilities that were battered by Hurricane Katrina.

The subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc. of Arlington, Va., was awarded the competitive bid contract last July to provide debris removal and other emergency work associated with natural disasters.

Jan Davis, a spokeswoman for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, said Sunday that KBR will receive $12 million for work at Naval Air Station Pascagoula, Naval Station Gulfport and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. It will receive $4.6 million for work at two smaller Navy facilities in New Orleans and others in the South.

Halliburton has reported being paid $10.7 billion for Iraq-related government work during 2003 and 2004. The company reported its pretax profits from that work as $163 million. Pentagon auditors have questioned tens of millions of dollars of Halliburton charges for its operations there.

Late last month three congressional Democrats asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to investigate the demotion of a senior civilian Army official who publicly criticized the awarding of that contract.

Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, who had been the Army Corps of Engineers' top procurement official since 1997, was removed from her position last month for what the Corps called a poor job performance. The lawmakers said the demotion "appears to be retaliation" for her June 27 testimony before Congress in which she detailed her objections to the award of contracts for Iraq projects.

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Terrific. It's not enough that Halliburton and it's many subsidiaries have gouged U.S. taxpayers with the shitty job they've done in Iraq, now we will get a closer look at how they cut corners, overcharge and generally abuse their position due to the fact that Vice President Potty Mouth Cheney is the one who is really running the show, and he gets to choose who gets these contracts so he can continue to get richer at the expense of the rest of us peons. Not that I'm really surprised about this development, but it would probably make more sense for the actual military branches affected by this storm to lead the repair efforts, seeing as how they are more likely to make decisions that make sense than those Halliburton is going to make.

Red Sox Update

The Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon 5-1 behind the pitching of David Wells, who won his 12th game of the season. The Orioles countered with Rodrigo Lopez, a Sox nemesis who owned a 10-4 record against them going into today's action.

After having allowed just one baserunner through the first four innings, the Sox got to Lopez for five runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by John Olerud's three-run homer (his sixth of the season) and Johnny Damon's two-run double. Wells cruised to a rare complete game victory, the 54th of his career, to which Dad replied, "that'd be two years worth for Warren Spahn".

The Sox have won six of their last seven games, and now lead the AL East by four games over the Yankees who play tonight in Oakland against the AL West co-leading Athletics. The Sox play the White Sox tomorrow in a rain makeup before the Angels (tied for the AL West lead with Oakland) come to Fenway for a three-game series.