Democrat From Kentucky

Democrat from Kentucky
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A long time coming
Happy 2007
Mark Foley: SICK SICK SICK!!!
Looks Like Lamont Levels Lieberman?
Oil Prices in the tank
Clinton Reams Rummy
A long time...
Chandler/Abramson in '07?
A new poll



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Current Posts
A little slow tonight Tuesday, February 28, 2006

There are things going on but I've been pretty busy today.

A new blog I've found and referenced a couple of times is one called Unclaimed Territory. Glenn Greenwald writes for it and he comes up with some excellent posts that are well thought out, logically reasoned and hard hitting. It's one of the better ones I'm reading right now. I'd add it to the old RSS.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:01 PM

It's late...

what's goin' on?

posted by Stithmeister @ 12:03 AM

The Beginning Of The End of the War in Iraq

Lots of things are happening regarding the war in Iraq. The Shiites and the Sunnis are at each others throats. They are on verge of civil war, perhaps closer now than they've ever been. Liberal Democrats like myself and many others have believed all along that things would come to this all along. We prayed it wouldn't but it has.

Last week in a "National Review" column, conservative philosopher William F. Buckley, wrote
One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. The same edition of the paper quotes a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Reuel Marc Gerecht backed the American intervention. He now speaks of the bombing of the especially sacred Shiite mosque in Samarra and what that has precipitated in the way of revenge. He concludes that "the bombing has completely demolished" what was being attempted -- to bring Sunnis into the defense and interior ministries.

Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory puts together an incredibly well written attack against Buckley and other conservatives after many called Howard Dean a coward and other choice descriptors. He quotes President Reagan's son Michael:

"Howard Dean should be arrested and hung for treason or put in a hole until the end of the Iraq war!" Reagan told his Radio America audience on Monday. Reagan was reacting to Dean's comments earlier in the day, when the top Democrat said that the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."

They were talking on NPR this morning about the whole situation in Iraq and some are beginning to say it took a leader like Saddam Hussein to keep the two groups from slaughtering each other out of hand. Working under this notion, one could easily examine the former Yugoslavia to see what happens. Marshall Tito ran the nation for years under communist regime. He was tough enough to tell old Joe to back off. He ran the nation with an iron hand. Soon after he died, things began to hall apart. Many remember the Olympics in Sarajevo. That was the high point. Shortly after, we began to remember why WWI started there. It fell apart and hasn't been together since.

Some may ask what should we do in Iraq. My thought at this point is I don't think it matters. They, for the most part have made their sentiments clear. They don't want and I will agree with Buckley, our presence continues to make things worse.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:00 AM

Frist & McConnell: Locked At The Hip Monday, February 27, 2006

Bill Frist was in Lexington over the weekend celebrating with Howdy Doody, better known as Mitch McConnell. Frist gushed over Howdy, saying he would be the next Senate Majority Leader. He talked about Mitch's work in getting the energy bill passed, which means he helped get the big oil companies massive tax breaks and subsidies after their year of record breaking profits. He also mentioned he helped get the bankruptcy bill through, which will singlehandedly wreck people's lives

I tell ya... if he'd could make our state any better, we'd have 'Arbeit Macht Frei' on the signs coming into Kentucky.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 11:22 PM

Nickolas Calls For Judicial Oversight... of a sorts

Mark Nickolas, the guy behind Bluegrass Report filed a complaint with Kentucky's Judicial Conduct Commission.

Here's the deal: Fletcher is going to the State Supreme Court in order to get investigation into merit hiring practices stopped. This is his last chance. Two of the justices recused themselves, which leaves two slots open for this case. Fletcher, as governor, gets to appoint the temp judges and he did. The tricky part comes from the fact that both men have donated money to Fletcher's campaign in the past. Oddly enough, some people, like Nickolas, seem to think there's some impropriety here. I couldn't imagine why. Anyway, he's filed the complaint and the case is scheduled to be heard at the end of next month.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 11:13 PM

The Ancient Tradition of Usquebaugh-Baul - Scottish Sacrement

One of my own ancestral lands is reinvigorating its heritage. Scotland is well known for many things: tartans and kilts, Sean Connery, claymores, the bagpipes, starship engineers and whisky.

Whisky is what we discussing here in this post. The word descends from the ancient tongues and refers to "water of life." In that fine tradition of ancient elixirs, a distillery in Scotland looks to reassert the "potent" part of potables. The real firewater or usquebaugh-baul is a lean, mean weapons grade whisky weighing in a sturdy 184 proof or 92% alcohol.

From the TImesOnline UK:

A single drop of the ancient drink of “usquebaugh-baul” was described by the travel writer Martin Martin in 1695 as powerful enough to affect “all members of the body”. He added: “Two spoonfuls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose; if any man should exceed this, it would presently stop his breath, and endanger his life.”

Apparently, the power comes in the distillation process. Most scotch whiskys are distilled twice. This batch of malt will be quadruple distilled. The flavor will be both potent and intense. I'd try it but I couldn't imagine developing this stuff as a habit. Of course they're going to probably price it like was from a batch in 1695 so the odds of me getting a bit are quite slim.

Anyway, if there's anyone with both the money and cahoneys to get a taste, please, drop me a line.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 10:18 PM

Late Night Thread

Tell me what's on your mind tonight folks. I've got comments in mind tomorrow on the Iraq war, particularly regarind Bill Buckley's recent column suggesting we get out.

Have fine evening and a pleasant week.

posted by Stithmeister @ 12:19 AM

McGavin No More

Actor Darrin McGavin, 83, died of natural causes in Los Angeles. Most people remember him for of two rolls. Either "Kolchak: Nightstalker" or as the father in "A Christmas Story.

It's a shame. He was a lot of fun.

posted by Stithmeister @ 12:15 AM

MajikThise On the Radio

Lindsay over at MajikThise has been increasing her marketshare lately. She just got back from Amsterdam and then went on John Gibson's radio program and braved the storm on FoxNews Radio. She held her own against Gibson and the callers.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:04 AM

Don Knotts dead... Sunday, February 26, 2006

Comedic actor Don Knotts, 81, passed on Friday evening due to pulmonary and respiratory problems. Knotts, best known for his 5 time Emmy winning roll as Deputy Barney Fife on the long running comedy of the '60s, "The Andy Griffith Show," was still popular and his beloved character will remain in reruns indefinitely.

While I wasn't around when the show originally aired, generations of people, particularly in the south grew up remembering Fife, Sheriff Taylor and all the other characters and actors for that matter, only a few of which are still around. Most of us can still whistle the tune to the show.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:36 AM

My Team Lost...again

It looks like Kentucky lost down in Baton Rouge tonight. They may make it to the NCAA this year but I'd say it's still iffy at best. They're going to have to beat either Florida or Tennessee or both to really guarantee their presence.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:25 AM

82nd Airborne Light In Loafers... Makes For Better Paratrooping Experience Saturday, February 25, 2006

This is just too funny. Seven paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne got busted for fooling around on a gay porn website. According to the story:

Three men will face court-martial on charges of sodomy, pandering and engaging in sex for money while being filmed, said Pfc. James Wilt, an 82nd Airborne spokesman. Having sex while being taped is illegal under the U.S. Military Code of Justice.

I have nothing against people doing whatever they're going to do in the privacy of their own home but when you put your stuff on video and supply it to a website, you have to know you're going to get busted. It looks like one of the guy's was even married. Unbelievable. Obviously, they weren't followers of Bush. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

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posted by Stithmeister @ 2:44 PM

Where Do Visitors Come From

It's always interesting to see where my visitors come from. I use Google Analytics for traffic tracking. It tells me things like how many unique visitors I get, the number of page views and other nifty bits of information. I know I get a lot of views in Kentucky for example. Right now I'm getting a lot of views from Newport, Nicholasville and Lexington. I also get them from Winchester, Louisville and Frankfort and London.

Looking outside of Kentucky interests me greatly too. Right now, some folks in both Illinois and Georgia are reading and I hope the find the entries interesting. I'm also getting readership, for the moment from Texas, Iowa, Virginia, New York, California and Ohio.

I get a get a few from other countries as well. I've noticed a few from both Canada and the UK. There's also Mexico, Estonia, Germany and several other nations.

I appreciate the visits and I for those who come back, I encourage you to comment. All opinions are certainly valid. I also encourage you to send in bits of information regarding your local political races, even if it's a mayoral contest your interested in. If you don't agree with what I or someone else is saying, please explain why.

To my new, hopefully regular readers, thanks for stopping by, I hope you'll do so again and take an interest in what we write here. Thanks again for reading. We appreciate it.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 2:01 PM

Late Night Weekend Thread

And you should be in bed
I'm not because I'm $%^ in the head

So... what do you all want to talk about at this late hour?

posted by Stithmeister @ 1:01 AM

Ted Koppel Says It's All About the Oil Friday, February 24, 2006

Shout out to Tennessee Guerilla Women.

Koppel: Will Fight for Oil

The American people ... know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted and partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people.

— President Bush, Jan. 10

Let us, as lawyers say, stipulate that the Bush administration was genuinely concerned that weapons of mass destruction, which they firmly believed to be in Saddam Hussein's arsenal, might be shared with the same Qaeda leadership that planned the horrific events of 9/11. That would have been a reasonable motive for invading Iraq; but surely now, three years later, when the existence of those weapons is no longer an issue, it would be insufficient reason for the United States to remain there.

Let us further acknowledge that continuing to put American lives at risk in Iraq purely for the protection of Israel would arouse, in some quarters, anti-Semitic murmurs, if not growls.

But the Bush administration's touchiness about charges that we acted — and are still acting — in Iraq "because of oil"? Now that's curious. Keeping oil flowing out of the Persian Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz has been bedrock American foreign policy for more than a half-century.

Fifty-three years ago, British and American intelligence officers conspired to help bring about the overthrow of Iran's prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. Mossadegh's shortcomings, in the eyes of Whitehall and the State Department, were an unseemly affinity for the Tudeh Party (the Iranian Communists) and his plans to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. The prospect of the British oil industry being forced to give way to Soviet influence over the Iranian oil spigot called for drastic action. Following a military coup, Mossadegh was arrested, imprisoned for three years and then held under house arrest until his death in 1967. Power was then effectively concentrated in the hands of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

The shah's unswerving commitment to the free flow and marketing of Iranian oil would, by the end of the 1960's, become a central pillar of the so-called Nixon Doctrine, in which American allies were tapped to be regional surrogates to maintain peace and security. The sales of sophisticated American weapons to Iran served the twin purposes of sopping up billions of what came to be known as "petro-dollars," while equipping (in particular) the shah's air force.

That reliance on Iran to maintain stability in the Persian Gulf enjoyed bipartisan support. On New Year's Eve in 1977, President Jimmy Carter, visiting the shah in Tehran, toasted his great leadership, which he said had made Iran "an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas in the world." By January 1980, after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had driven the shah from the Peacock Throne, President Carter made absolutely clear in his final State of the Union address that one aspect of our foreign policy remained unchanged:

"An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

The Reagan administration announced its intention to continue defending the free flow of Middle East oil, by whatever means necessary. In March 1981, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger clearly signaled that the United States was seeking a new base of operations in the Persian Gulf:

"We need some facilities and additional men and materiel there or nearby, to act as a deterrent to any Soviet hopes of seizing the oil fields or interdicting the line."

Subsequently, the United States began establishing military bases in Saudi Arabia and, to much criticism, selling Awacs aircraft to the Saudi government. In 1990, when Saddam Hussein appeared likely to follow his invasion of Kuwait by crossing into Saudi Arabia, the defense secretary at the time, Dick Cheney, laid out Washington's concerns:

"We're there because the fact of the matter is that part of the world controls the world supply of oil, and whoever controls the supply of oil, especially if it were a man like Saddam Hussein, with a large army and sophisticated weapons, would have a stranglehold on the American economy and on — indeed on the world economy."

What Mr. Cheney said was correct then and remains correct now. The world's oil producers pump approximately 80 million barrels a day. The world's oil consumers, joined today by an increasingly oil-hungry India and China, purchase 80 million barrels a day. Were production from the Persian Gulf to be disrupted because of civil war in Iraq, the freezing of Iranian sales or political instability in Saudi Arabia, the global supply would be diminished. The impact on the American economy and, indeed, on the world economy would be as devastating today as in 1990.

If those considerations did not enter into the Bush administration's calculations when the president ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it would have been the first time in more than 50 years that the uninterrupted flow of Persian Gulf oil was not a central element of American foreign policy.

That is not to say that the United States invaded Iraq to take over its oil supply. But the construction of American military bases inside Iraq, bases that can be maintained long after the bulk of our military forces are ultimately withdrawn, will serve to replace the bases that the United States has lost in Saudi Arabia. There may be other national security reasons that the United States cannot now precipitously withdraw its forces from Iraq, including the danger that the country would become a regional terrorist base; but none is greater than forestalling the ensuing power vacuum and regional instability, and the impact this would have on oil production.

H. L. Mencken is said to have noted that "when someone says it's not about the money — it's about the money." Arguing in support of his fellow Arkansan during Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, former Senator Dale Bumpers offered a variation on that theme: "When someone says it's not about the sex — it's about the sex."

Perhaps the day will come when the United States is no longer addicted to imported oil; but that day is still many years off. For now, the reason for America's rapt attention to the security of the Persian Gulf is what it has always been. It's about the oil.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 5:38 PM

Another thought on the UAE Port Deal

Posted by Greymagius in comments:

Despite everything Cheney might like to suggest, China has shown no signs that they have any desire to attack us. Why bother,when they'll own us in a decade :p

The UAE has a history with Osama Bin Laden. They also recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government. Two of the 9/11 Terrorist came fromthe UAE.

Neither Denmark nor China are likely to be a danger,especially not via terrorist action. If China chooses to attack us (Which I gravely doubt will happen),it has actually missles with nukes. It can then swarm us with forces. Simple fact. Tech is good, but tech and more people is better.

$100 million dollars is nice. We should immediatedly trust them because they gave money? Where was the money spent? Who did it go to?
An old saying involving Greeks & Gifts springs to mind. I really wonder what prompted such a generous outpouring. Cynicus hasn't responded here, but I'll be Cynical for him.

If money is supposed to be so great to deserve trust ect. then why isn't Iraq in love with us? How many Billions have we given to them?

Also, there seems to be quite a bit of confusion over security issues. One group says the UAE will have control over security. Another group says they will not. The most reliable source I've seen suggest that the UAE gets to pick the Security company on the actual docks. They can help set scheduling and where ships are docked at. Lets play Scenario time...

One ship with slightly incorrect papers is knowingly approved by the UAE. A Jyhadist sympathiser has agreed to help bring down the great Satan. The Sympathiser knows that John Doh,security guard is a lazy bastich who doesn't bother making rounds.(OK folks, I've ran Security for fairly large businesses, I know Security pretty well). The ship pulls into harbor nearest NYC proper.The Jyhadist is within a shipping container full of nerve gas and a small shaped charge. At 06:00 AM, the container opens fromthe inside, a small charge is triggered and on the morning winds off the ocean a cloud of Nerve Gas drifts gently over the city.

Yes, it could by done with anyone in charge, but with a sympathetic port controller, you can insure that the ship is placed for optimal spread and is quede to not be search for a time. Also, paperwork identifying the ship would be easier to 'adjust'.

Am I being biased by the fact that they are a Middle Eastern country. Perhaps... But I am definatedly biased by the fact that they have a history of connections to orginazations that want to harm America.

The Bush Admistration has granted too many exemptions from standard policies for this venture to make me trust it. They were not given the full 45 day investigation. Paperwork was not required to be kept on US soil where it could be checked. There are simple too many question s on this deal to make it deserving of immediate and unquestioned acceptance.

Remember, the Trojans left a wonder gift for the Citizens

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posted by Stithmeister @ 3:24 PM

Bush Warned of Cheney's Problem of Shooting Elderly Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Onion had a great story today. The headline of this post says the most. It's damned funny.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 10:46 PM

The new poll

The new poll is on the Dubai Ports World fiasco, with a state-owned company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) taking control of some U.S. ports. There are certainly complications as Congress has questioned why the President allowed this to happen. Apparently, Bush didn't even know about this event. Also consider both Denmark and China have the same deal. China has already cracked Defense Dept. computers (which apparently isn't hard). Why aren't they getting the same scrutiny?

Also consider the the UAEdonated $100 million to the Katrina relief efforts. That's more than all other nations combined. According to the White House, the total Katrina contributions from other countries came to $126 million including UAE's donation.

Of course this doesn't count the man power from Mexico and other nations.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 10:43 PM

This weekend...

I will be aiming to go upon a photographic expedition of sorts. Either Saturday or Sunday, I wll probably head towards Elizabethtown Kentucky. Nearby are some open flat fields that are providing resting places for the Sandhill Crane migration. Literally thousands of these cranes move through the fields and they are one of only two cranes native to the U.S. The other is the endangered Whooping Crane.

With any luck, I'll get some decent shots.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:57 PM

Last Weeks Poll - Paul Hackett

Last week's poll regarding Paul Hacket's drop from the Ohio senate race didn't have a great response and the what we did have was 50/50.

Paul Hackett was a vibrant leader who, for moment, seems to have gotten out of politics. He seems to have gotten involved in a PAC however so that may keep him in the game. He did have some weak points, perhaps the largest of which was considered fundraising. You've GOT to be able to ask for money. It's the one thing you have to do and the one thing that starts one on the path to the dark side. Perhaps his soul was saved for a while longer. In the mean time, Sherrod Brown will be the man to support in Ohio.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 7:08 PM

Illinois Governor Confused...

The Democratic governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich apparently hadn't watched "The Daily Show" before. He was recently interviewed in a piece regarding contraception. While he took it in stride, he was a little surprised when interviewer Jason Jones asked him if he was "the gay governor."

"It was going to be an interview on contraceptives ... that's all I knew about it," Blagojevich laughingly told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a story for Thursday's editions. "I had no idea I was going to be asked if I was 'the gay governor.'"

It is amusing considering Jon Stewart interviewed John Kerry during the 2004 election in one of the better interviews of the entire race. He was probably the only guy who straight out asked Kerry why he waffled.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 7:01 PM

Payin' Bills...

posted by Stithmeister @ 6:50 PM

Don’t Sell American Ports to the United Arab Emirates

Don’t Sell American Ports to the United Arab Emirates
Peter Morici

President Bush is confronting a tough decision. Republicans are revolting against his approval of the sale of operations for six large U.S. ports to Dubai Ports World, which is owned by the United Arab Emirates.

Denying this purchase flies in the face of the free trade and open investment policies championed by every president since Roosevelt. However, national security considerations and the shifting balance of economic power in the global economy require a radical rethinking of how broadly these policies are applied and when exceptions are wiser than compliance.

Clearly, in the 9-11 environment, ports pose a critical juncture of vulnerability which requires the highest standards of vigilance against terrorist intents. The President has obtained assurances from Dubai Ports of high levels of compliance and cooperation with U.S. authorities, but that simply is not enough. It only takes a few well placed terrorist moles to facilitate another tragedy on a grand scale.

As anyone who observes speeding on our highways or the accounting shenanigans of some American companies realizes true compliance with the intent of our laws requires a cultural commitment and earnest desire for their benefits.

We can’t get away from the fact that terrorists are educated, financed and find safe passage to the United States and Europe through Middle Eastern states like the U.A.E. By their action and inaction these countries have contributed much to the threat to western nations posed by radical Islam. The contempt for western values prevalent in Middle Eastern states requires vigilance. We simply can’t permit companies owned by their governments to run our ports, airlines, telecommunications systems and the like. They might not like that, but they have their own actions to blame.

This is a tough stand for President Bush to take on two counts. First, the United States is critically dependent on Middle Eastern oil to power the U.S. economy. His insistence that higher oil prices, as opposed to higher mileage standards for cars, precipitate adjustments in American energy consumption requires that our vulnerability to whims of Persian Gulf exporters will grow in the decades ahead. An exhaustive study issued by the Rocky Mountain Institutes illustrates that we have technologies now, which were not available back in the 1970s, to provide Americans with good sized, practical and powerful cars and trucks, while using a lot less imported oil. We don’t need to kowtow to less than friendly powers to ensure our economic survival.

Second, we have pursued our free trade and open investment policy by using our market as a carrot and presenting the success of our economy as an example. From China to North Africa that is not working. China severely limits U.S. equity holdings in critical industries like steel and automobiles, and most oil exporters don’t let U.S. companies own vital petroleum assets.

I don’t think we need to worry much about denying the U.A.E. ownership of our ports. Middle East oil exporters will permit foreign oil companies to participate in their petroleum industries to the extent they need exploration and development know how—no more and no less.

Even presidents make mistakes. That is why we have congressional oversight and advice. President Bush should listen to his Republican friends and reverse course before his mistake in judgment results in another national tragedy.

Peter Morici is a Professor of Business at the University of Maryland and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Peter Morici
Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland

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posted by Stithmeister @ 2:05 PM


posted by Stithmeister @ 1:59 PM

The Russians Did It Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A new Fox News Special: The Russians Hid Iraq's WMDs. Check out Think Progress's discussion on it.

Boy... it'd be just like the good ol' days. We'd be fighting the pinko Russkies again. I bet they're still all commie bastards anyhow. Better Dead Than Red I always say. That's why I vote Blue... it mean American!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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posted by Stithmeister @ 11:58 PM

Ernie Fletcher's Improving Health

Governor Ernie Fletcher's health is improving after holding a press conference from St. Joe East. in Lexington. My bet is he's enjoying the peace and quiet and is not getting the pressure hammered on him before.

The governor underwent gall bladder surgery with complications that led to a brief period of sepsis. The infection ran through his blood stream. This usually quite serious, more serious than they let on.

He should be back out in the flow soon but he should make sure he stays low and keeps his head down for a while. He's going to get nailed hard, as well he should.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 11:50 PM

Dubai Gets A Deal

It would seem Dubai got some different rules to work by regarding their port deal

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posted by Stithmeister @ 11:39 PM

Cheney Was Drunk When He Shot Whittington

A couple of things came out today regarding Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting incident. The official report issued by the Kenedy County Sheriff's office rules the shooting an accident. The official affidavits are the basis of this determination although Sheriff Salina did no official investigation. He merely went on the word of the the parties involved. Case closed right. Right?

Maybe not. Of course there will be no investigation because being drunk and shooting somebody, even accidentally would get most folks arrested. Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue seemed to think otherwise.

Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago say Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting.

Agents observed several members of the hunting party, including the Vice President, consuming alcohol before and during the hunting expedition, the report notes, and Cheney exhibited "visible signs" of impairment, including slurred speech and erratic actions.
According to those who have talked with the agents and others present at the outing, Cheney was drunk when he gunned down his friend and the day-and-a-half delay in allowing Texas law enforcement officials on the ranch where the shooting occurred gave all members of the hunting party time to sober up.

We talked with a number of administration officials who are privy to inside information on the Vice President's shooting "accident" and all admit Secret Service agents and others say they saw Cheney consume far more than the "one beer' he claimed he drank at lunch earlier that day.

"This was a South Texas hunt," says one White House aide. "Of course there was drinking. There's always drinking. Lots of it."

One agent at the scene has been placed on administrative leave and another requested reassignment this week. A memo reportedly written by one agent has been destroyed, sources said Wednesday afternoon.

Cheney has a long history of alcohol abuse, including two convictions of driving under the influence when he was younger. Doctors tell me that someone like Cheney, who is taking blood thinners because of his history of heart attacks, could get legally drunk now after consuming just one drink.

If Cheney was legally drunk at the time of the shooting, he could be guilty of a felony under Texas law and the shooting, ruled an accident by a compliant Kenedy County Sheriff, would be a prosecutable offense.

But we will never know for sure because the owners of the Armstrong Ranch, where the shooting occurred, barred the sheriff's department from the property on the day of the shooting and Kenedy County Sheriff Ramon Salinas III agreed to wait until the next day to send deputies in to talk to those involved.

The deal is, as in many place, there are political consequences. Salinas owes his future to Ms. Armstrong and her ranch as they are the largest employers in the county. So what we have here is a drunken vice president and a bunch of his supporters telling a story. Nice story. Cheney needs to be brought on charges like any of the rest of us would and then prosecuted. If he's found guilty, send him to jail.

But it will never happen as even Whittington's blood alcohol report was snatched up by the Secret Service. Can't have the drunken fools looking bad. Then they'd be no different than any other drunken rednecks with shotguns. Besides, everybody knows you get tanked before hunting in Texas.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 11:31 PM

Kentucky Destroys Ole Miss

It was nice to finally see Kentucky dish out a round of complete discussion. Kentucky won 80-40 in what was seemingly an easy game for the Cats. Preston LeMaster came up with 4 threes for 12 points and that was sweet to see.

Now comes the home game against Florida and it's another one we can win if we come to play. Kentucky is doing well since Tubby reshuffled the lineup. I'm hoping he can continue to keep the wins coming. We even saw Allene get some time tonight.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 10:33 PM

phronesisaical: Fukuyama's revisionism

I picked upon this good post today via MajikThise. Her guest commentator known as Helmut has been putting up some excellent stuff (not that the other ones haven't' been). He delves in the philosophy of the neocon movement from neocon guru Francis Fukuyama.

Here's the link to the original post. It's a bit long but pretty good and it gives a good notion into the neocon though process.
phronesisaical: Fukuyama's revisionism

posted by Stithmeister @ 7:47 PM

Mike Weaver Interview

My pal in politics, although I've never met him, Daniel Solzman of the Kentucky Democrat blog scored an interview with Representative Mike Weaver. Weaver is the Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional district, running against incumbant Ron Lewis. It's one of the first interview Weaver's had since announcing his candidacy for Congress, certainly the only he's had during the session.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 7:31 PM

Bank of England Get's Banged

It looks like the breaking news right now is one of the largest bank heists in English history. The story says the robbers may have gotten upwards of $95 million with about $59 million belonging to the Bank of England. Big money.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 5:33 PM

Guiness Blog...

I've found a new blog for folks to look at. It's the Guiness blog.

Have a pint or two and set down with us.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:17 PM

In the middle of the night... Tuesday, February 21, 2006

By the pricking of my thumbs
Something wicked this way comes.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:21 PM

The State of the Nation

I found this over in the comments on HuffPo with a blog entry originally posted on The Nation.

A few days ago, someone on CNN reported that we have spent some 300 Million or so dollars on those Mobile Homes for Katrina evacuees and they are just sitting there in Arkansas.

And then it hit me:

300 Million is a bit more than the population of our country.

The Federal government could give each citizen 1 Million dollars.

Even if not,even if not, it shows how wealthy this nation really is.

No one should be allowed to go hungry or allowed to be homeless..

No one.

I don't know the dynamics of giving everyone a million dollars and what it would do the economy. It's tough to call but I do know this. There is no reason on this earth that any human being should go hungry. None, nada, zip zilch.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 5:48 PM

Impeach The Bastard...

Once in a while, a great idea comes along and it's absolutely brilliant. If it works, it's a stroke of absolute genius. It would seem a gentleman from Rhode Island wants to impeach George Bush. As a matter of fact, U.S Democratic candidate for Senate Carl Sheeler would really like to see it happen. So much so he's made it the basis for his campaign. He's even gone so far as to draw up a version of what the articles my look like.

I spotted this one over at MajikThise. One of Lindsay's guest bloggers though this was an interesting piece. It would seem there are couple of obscure cases when state were allowed to send articles of impeachment to congress and they recognized them. It's not been done for a president but there's a first time for everything.

The precedent, while valid, is certainly obscure and probably antiquated but it's still a precedent. While I don't think it would pass muster, I think it's worthy of at least moderate lipservice.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:48 AM

Lots's going on today: Howabout poverty in my lovely home state Sunday, February 19, 2006

Often people don't think of abject poverty in the United States. Most people, even poor, have enough to eat, they have a warm bed to sleep in and things aren't that bad as far as basic necessities. But that's not everbody many are here in our very own commonwealth. A recent article in the a British newspaper had an interesting introspective into poverty in the U.S. The traditional media don't talk much about it here and for that matter, many of the blogs don't either. But this is really the substance of all the arguments we have, all the debates we go through isn't it.

Poverty: a : the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.

The flickering television in Candy Lumpkins's trailer blared out The Bold and the Beautiful. It was a fantasy daytime soap vision of American life with little relevance to the reality of this impoverished corner of Kentucky.

The Lumpkins live at the definition of the back of beyond, in a hollow at the top of a valley at the end of a long and muddy dirt road. It is strewn with litter. Packs of stray dogs prowl around, barking at strangers. There is no telephone and since their pump broke two weeks ago Candy has collected water from nearby springs. Oblivious to it all, her five-year-old daughter Amy runs barefoot on a wooden porch frozen by a midwinter chill.

It is a vision of deep and abiding poverty. Yet the Lumpkins are not alone in their plight. They are just the negative side of the American equation. America does have vast, wealthy suburbs, huge shopping malls and a busy middle class, but it also has vast numbers of poor, struggling to make it in a low-wage economy with minimal government help.

This is just one example because poverty is certainly not exclusive to Kentucky. Consider that 37 million Americans live in poverty. That's 12.5% of the national population. As the article pointed out, that's more than any developed nation. Also keep in mind, the number has grown every year since 2001.

Now, consider congress just passed bills cutting the "budget" by reducing the money spent on medicaid, student loans and tons of other social programs, most of which go toward helping people just like the Lumpkins. They don't want the help but their situation lands them where it is and as they point out, if it weren't for churches, they'd have even less.

This is Bush's America. The poverty rate continues to climb and as some have pointed out, all it takes is one nasty medical issue or the factory shutting down(which is happening more and more) and people have no other options.

I've heard some say that the impoverished do some of it to themselves because they don't make the right choices, they don't take the right paths to improve the situation. Many can't get far enough ahead long enough to consider other options. Many believe things don't get much better and the sad thing is they're probably right.

Consider that 6% of population control 50% the world's wealth and all that 6% live in the U.S. Also consider 20% of the U.S. population control 80% of the nation's wealth. So what does that say, especially considering 12.5% of the population live in abject poverty? There's a distinct difference between the haves and the have nots in this nation and the difference is growing. Also, more of the people keep slipping into the poverty side of things as opposed to the other side and the wealthiest in this nation are trying real hard to make sure no one else gets there. This isn't just partisan issue either. Sure, people like the Bush's are extremely wealthy but the Kennedy's and the Kerry's are also extraordinarily wealthy too, more so than the Bush's are.

Many religious groups in this nation are working on the White House, they have the ear of the Oval Office and they wield tremendous power. They try to stop abortion, they try to stop homosexuals, they try to do all kinds of things to influence moral and social behavior. But the one thing they seem to be lacking in is gusto to tackle poverty in this country. They don't care about the high dropout rates in Texas. Heck they'd probably just learn about evolution anyway.

But, in fact, Edwards was right. While 45.8 million Americans lack any health insurance, the top 20 per cent of earners take over half the national income. At the same time the bottom 20 per cent took home just 3.4 per cent. Whitaker put the figures into simple English. 'The poor have got poorer and the rich have got richer,' he said.

Dealing with poverty is not a viable political issue in America. It jars with a cultural sense that the poor bring things upon themselves and that every American is born with the same chances in life. It also runs counter to the strong anti-government current in modern American politics. Yet the problem will not disappear. 'There is a real sense of impending crisis, but political leaders have little motivation to address this growing divide,' Cynthia Duncan says.

There is little doubt which side of America's divide the hills of east Kentucky fall on. Driving through the wooded Appalachian valleys is a lesson in poverty. The mountains have never been rich. Times now are as tough as they have ever been. Trailer homes are the norm. Every so often a lofty mansion looms into view, a sign of prosperity linked to the coal mines or the logging firms that are the only industries in the region. Everyone else lives on the margins, grabbing work where they can. The biggest cash crop is illicitly grown marijuana.

Save The Children works here. Though the charity is usually associated with earthquakes in Pakistan or famine in Africa, it runs an extensive programme in east Kentucky. It includes a novel scheme enlisting teams of 'foster grandparents' to tackle the shocking child illiteracy rates and thus eventually hit poverty itself.

The problem is acute. At Jone's Fork school, a team of indomitable grannies arrive each day to read with the children. The scheme has two benefits: it helps the children struggle out of poverty and pays the pensioners a small wage. 'This has been a lifesaver for me and I feel as if the children would just fall through the cracks without us,' says Erma Owens. It has offered dramatic help to some. One group of children are doing so well in the scheme that their teacher, Loretta Shepherd, has postponed retirement in order to stand by them. 'It renewed me to have these kids,' she said.

Poverty's a problem in this country. Certainly people can do things for themselves but someone needs to take their foot off their heads long enough to allow them to get out of the water do so. We shouldn't have any poor in this nation. None. Not with 20% of the nation's population controlling 50% of the world's wealth.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 3:16 PM

Late Night Thread

OK folks... I checked the temperature and it's colder than a well digger's ass outside.

posted by Stithmeister @ 12:37 AM

Kentucky Looked Better

The Kentucky Wildcats looked much better today in their game down in Columbia. Tubby's still running with the alternate starting lineup and they came up with the big win. Both Randolph Morris and Rajon Rondo started on the bench. Rondo's performance even off the bench was minimal. Morris had a double-double and Sparky was hotter than hell, hitting 6 3-pointers in the second half. Now if he could just learn to do this every game.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:34 AM

Is Russ Feingold the man? Saturday, February 18, 2006

Lindsay over at MajikThise took an opportunity to post her stump for Russ Feingold. Feingold is one of the possible prospects for the 2008 Democratic nomination. I think he'd make a decent choice based on what we see and hear. The problem though is don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

She made some good points with his strong record in civil liberities, abortion, gay rights and other areas. He's also the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act in all its forms. I guess the thing to wonder is if he would get the Thomas Jefferson syndrome. What I mean by that is how will he change in office when presented with certain sets of circumstances if he were elected?

The case I point to with Jefferson is the Louisiana Purchase. It was the right thing to do hindsight but he really questioned whether he, as president, could authorize the purchase. I have a lot of respect for Jefferson but often did things after the wonder of the Declaration of Independence as a chief executive some might call into question. I think Feingold would run into the same problem.

For example, the very nature of the NSA is to spy on communications and they're quite good at it. I for one don't believe the wiretapping thing didn't go on before the current administration got there. FISA was passed during Carter's administration by a Democratic congress. I would be willing to bet money George H.W. Bush, as head of the CIA authorized those types of things without anyone's knowledge. I'd also say he did it agains as vice president and later as president. My bet is it went on in the Clinton administration too. In all of it, the executives I'm sure had plausible deniability. The difference now is that people like Dick Cheney don't give a shit about plausible deniability. I wonder what would happen when Feingold were presented with such a choice. Would he stop the program? I tend to doubt it. He'd be reducing his own power and it's quite rare indeed for an executive to intentionally give up some of his own power. It goes against their instincts.

I'd vote for Feingold if he ran I think but I don't think he could completely escape the corrupting influence of power. Very few have.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 6:36 PM

Snowed in...

It looks like we got snowed in for the most part this morning. I broke the cardinal rule too. I didn't run to the store and buy eggs, milk and bread.

Ah well, I'm sure others are in the same boat.

So.. does anyone know what a brrreport is?

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posted by Stithmeister @ 9:04 AM

Federal Judge Orders Release of Wiretap Papers Friday, February 17, 2006

The push over presidential powers is on. Federal District Judge Henry Kennedy ordered the White House to release documents in its warrentless surveillance program. The court gave the White House 20 days to hand over the papers or explain why they couldn't do it.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) fileda Freedom of Information Act request in order to obtain access to the documents. As soon as the NYT originally ran the story, EPIC filed for preliminary injunction and Kennedy granted that motion. WaPo said this:

In a victory for three privacy advocacy groups seeking Justice Department records about the program, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. ruled yesterday that the department cannot decide on its own what documents it will provide, because news reports in December revealing the program's existence have created a substantial public dialogue about presidential powers and individual privacy rights. Kennedy rejected Justice's argument that, because so much of the surveillance program involves classified information, the agency alone can determine when it is feasible to review and possibly release documents.

"President Bush has invited meaningful debate about the warrantless surveillance program," Kennedy wrote, alluding to comments Bush has made at news conferences and speeches acknowledging public disagreement about domestic spying. "That can only occur if DOJ processes its requests in a timely fashion and releases the information sought."

Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the department "has been extremely forthcoming about documents and information about the legal authorities" for the surveillance program.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which had requested the records under the Freedom of Information Act along with the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the National Security Archive Fund, cheered the ruling.

Kennedy agreed with the three groups that the Justice Department's decision to set its own time frame "would give the agency unchecked power to drag its feet and 'pay lip service' " to the law requiring the release of public information.

Glenn Greenwald said in his Unclaimed Territory:

I do not know all of the implications of the Court's order, which will undoubtedly be appealed and perhaps stayed during the appeal. The DoJ is not yet being required to produce all of the requested documents but instead merely to "respond" to the FOIA requests, which leaves open the option of objecting to producing some or all of them on the grounds of various privileges and national security claims. But the Order does require the DoJ to "produce or identify all responsive records" by March 8, which means that they will have to identify the documents they want to withhold and provide reasons why they are withholding them (which the court will then review for validity).

As Greenwald explains, the administration is going to be forced to deal with this issue one way or the other now. They have to talk about it some and since this will drag on until March, it doesn't matter what Congress does to a certain degree. This also means folks have an opportunity to pour on the pressure and make some headway on this, particularly since most Republican politicians seem to be woosing out on the whole investigation thing.

We know the Justice Dept,. will appeal and they may get a stay. If that happens, this may also get to the SCOTUS. If that happens, it, in all honesty, will probably go the way of the administration. We can only hope this issue can keep going and we can work the Senators into a frenzy. I just wish our senators here in Kentucky would actually listen to their constituents just one time.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:21 AM

Pam Anderson Won't Be At the Derby Thursday, February 16, 2006

The insanity continues with PETA Pam and her antics against Kentucky. She announced she won't be attending the Kentucky Derby this year because she claims horse racing is cruel to the animals.

So she's going to win on this argument for sure. We're going to be banning the Kentucky Derby in this state. Yep. We're going to do it for sure. This is the last year for the venerable sports event. That's going to happen, I'm sure of it.

This isn't the first time Pammy's had a problem with Kentucky. She recently petitioned Governor Ernie Fletcher to have the bust of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harlan Sanders removed from the capitol building in Frankfort. Her effort's there started about a month ago. Fortunately, the governor told her no.

I tend to think she really needs to find a new cause to pick on and leave us Kentuckians alone. Isn't there a cock fight she needs to bust up somewhere?

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posted by Stithmeister @ 9:34 AM

Cats Finally Won Wednesday, February 15, 2006

After rattling the hell out of his starting lineup, Tubby finally got a win on the board. With three consecutive losses and a team struggling to make post season play, my beloved wildcats needed this win badly.

Interestingly enough neither Rondo nor Morris started. Tubby's new rule is whoever works hard in practice plays. Obviously neither Morris nor Rondo (who was rather ineffectual tonight) worked hard in practice. I wonder if they'll learn their lesson.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 11:44 PM

Late Night Open Thread

What're you doin' still awake? It's your bedtime.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:41 PM

Cheney Takes Responsibility For Shooting

Dick Cheney spoke to Brit Hume on Fox News today and accepted full responsibility for the accident:

"I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry."


"You can talk about all of the other conditions that exist at the time but that's the bottom line and — it was not Harry's fault," he said in an interview with Brit Hume. "You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."

Cheney had been criticized heavily for not talking about it and finally opened up. He told his side of the story and I'm fine with it. I don't have a problem with people hunting. There are lots of things to criticize Cheney for but the only real problem with this was that he didn't handle the PR properly. This issue was taking up space for other, more important problems facing our nation, not the least of which is the senate rolling over on the wiretapping investigation.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 3:15 PM

New weekly poll

The new poll this week is on Paul Hackett. Do you think the national Democrats were right force him out in favor of Sherrod Brown in the Ohio senate race?

Brown certainly has experience, a power structure and knows how Washington works. A lot of the liberal bloggers expressed outrage and many at the very least expressed sadness of Hackett leaving the race. He did have money problems and Sherrod Brown was established. Please vote on the poll and leave your comments on the matter.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 3:11 PM

Last weeks poll - Bush Impeachment

Last weeks poll had a decent response rate and while this is a liberal blog, it was no surprise 2/3rds said to impeach Bush. The deal is though, the administration seems to be getting further and further in the hole. They may be able to dodge the wiretapping scandal and it seems like they might but this Cheney shooting thing seems to be getting people's dander up, especially since the administration didn't let anyone know about all this until much later.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 11:08 AM

Jon Stewart's Take on the Cheney Shooting Incident

the WSJ was reprinting some of the transcripts from late night talk shows. Stewart was probably the best:

A partial transcript:

Jon Stewart: "Yes, as you've just heard, a near-tragedy over the weekend in south Texas. Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a man during a quail hunt at a political supporter's ranch. Making 78-year-old Harry Whittington the first person shot by a sitting VP since Alexander Hamilton.

"Hamilton, of course, shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honor, integrity and political maneuvering. Whittington? Mistaken for a bird.
* * *

The other player in the drama? Ranch owner and eyewitness Katharine Armstrong.

Katharine Armstrong: "We were shooting a covey of quail. The vice president and two others got out of the car to walk up the covey."

Jon Stewart: "What kind of hunting story begins with getting out of your car? As I sighted the great beast before us, my shaking hands could barely engage the parking brake. Slowly, I turned off the A/C and silenced my sub-woofers…"
* * *

Katharine Armstrong: "A bird flushed. The vice president took aim at the bird and shot and unfortunately, Mr. Whittington was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty well."

Jon Stewart: "Peppered. There you have it. Harry Whittington, seasoned to within an inch of his life.
* * *

Jon Stewart: "I'm joined now by our own vice-presidential firearms mishap analyst, Rob Corddry. Rob, obviously a very unfortunate situation. How is the vice president handling it?

Rob Corddry: "Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Wittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush.

"And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington's face."

Jon Stewart: "But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?"

Rob Corddry: "Jon, in a post-9-11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak."

Jon Stewart: "That's horrible."

Rob Corddry: "Look, the mere fact that we're even talking about how the vice president drives up with his rich friends in cars to shoot farm-raised wingless quail-tards is letting the quail know 'how' we're hunting them. I'm sure right now those birds are laughing at us in that little 'covey' of theirs.

Jon Stewart: "I'm not sure birds can laugh, Rob."

Rob Corddry: "Well, whatever it is they do … coo .. they're cooing at us right now, Jon, because here we are talking openly about our plans to hunt them. Jig is up. Quails one, America zero.

Jon Stewart: "Okay, well, on a purely human level, is the vice president at least sorry?"

Rob Corddry: "Jon, what difference does it make? The bullets are already in this man's face. Let's move forward across party lines as a people … to get him some sort of mask."

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posted by Stithmeister @ 9:01 AM

Republican Senators Kissing Ass

A new post over at Daily Kos goes into how many Republican Senators are changing their tunes regarding an investigation of the wiretapping issue. It's obvious the reasoning behind this and that's Rove's threats to pull White House backing financially and otherwise. What this means is that stated ideology means nothing. There job is to get re-elected and they need money to do that. As long as the White House can control the purse strings, the part members will be in step. They may grumble a bit publicly but nothing too biting. It's a sad state of affairs. What will become of all this: We have further proof that our elected officials solemnly give up all use of their testicles when go to the Hill.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:36 AM

Whittington Has Heart Attack

The VEEP's good buddy currently occupies a bed in intensive care after suffering a heart attack due to buckshot lodging close to his hear.

The interesting thing seems to be no legal action is being taken against the VP. If I'd shot someone on a hunting trip like this, putting them into a hospital with a heart attack, I'd be seriously worried about something akin to involuntary manslaughter. You think Cheney is?

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posted by Stithmeister @ 12:28 AM

Democrats Win In Louisville Special Election Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Democrats Perry Clark and Ron Weston look to have clobbered Republicans in Louisville today in a special election to fill the vacant senate seat left empty after the Stephenson/Woodward insanity. Ron Weston will fill Clark's empty seat.

It's safe to say this is a vote against Ernie Fletcher and the corruption that seems to be rampant throughout his administration. It's difficult to say what Republicans might do in order to recover but between the scandals on the state and national levels, it's going to take a first rate cleaner to get the job done.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 11:50 PM

Paul Hackett Out Of Ohio Senate Race

Veteran Paul Hackett is out of Ohio Politics for the moment. After a near upset against a Republican in a heavily Republican district, Hackett decided to go after one of Ohio's senate seats. Unfortunately, it appears he wasn't being backed for the slot the Democratic establishment and they chose Sherrod Brown, a 7-term incumbant congressman.

While Brown is politically safer, it also show the part has no cahoneys. As some would argue, we knew that but it's complete and utter bullshit that they don't. They wanted him to take a shot at the seat he almost won before, but being a man of honor, he had made promises to others who wanted to run he wouldn't. Of course the fact he was man of honor means he probably wouldn't have lasted long anyway. Rolling Stone had a pretty good opinion piece on the matter.

Gary Hart also had a few words on the this issue. Hart wasn't too happy about this display of "good ol' boy politics" and the way it slapped down another candidate.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 5:40 PM

Incredible Hulk Deputized

Actor and body builder Lou Ferrigno, best known for his role as the Incredible Hulk from CBS telvision show running from 1977 to 1982. He was sworn in as a reserve deputy in Los Angeles.

How you'd like that pulling up behind you on a traffic stop. "Hey, why is he picking up the back end of the car? I was just doing 10 miles over."

Actually, it looks like most of his work will be with children and it's 20 hours a month. It's still kinda cool for those of us who watched the show.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 8:35 AM

I almost feel sorry for... Monday, February 13, 2006

White House mouthpiece Scott McClellan. I can imagine the conversation this weekend:

McClellan: Hello

Cheney's person: Scott, there's been an accident involving the vice president

McClellan: My God! What happened?

Cheney's person: As you know, the vice president was hunting this weekend and there was a shooting

McClellan: He's not hurt is he? Is he dead?

Cheney's person: No. He's not dead. But he's seems he's accidentally shot Harry Whittington

McClellan: You're kidding right.

Cheney's person: I wish I was sir.

McClellan: I wish he'd shoot me.

This is quite the amusing story over the weekend. Lest we forget it took them more than a day to notify anyone with this infomation. We must also remember that Cheney has been hunting with Justice Antonin Scalia before. I bet they don't again. It must have been the nurse at the VA hospital that got him so riled.

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2:33 PM

Why "WE" fight ?

Under another thread I had asked in passing if the US would invade Iran or just bomb the hell out of it...

Guess I have an answer...

"the steady flow of disclosures about Iran's secret nuclear operations and the virulent anti-Israeli threats of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has prompted the fresh assessment of military options by Washington."

Why is the US setting itself up to defend ISRAEL again?
If they were indicating that Iran was preparing to target New York City,I might be a bit more concerned. Doesn't Israel have a rather LARGE arsenal, including nukes?

It's not like we don't already help Israel:
"The United States, acting through USAID, will provide $360,000,000 ESF in FY 2005 to Israel as a cash transfer. These funds will be used by Israel to repay debt to the U.S., including re-financed Foreign Military Sales debt, and to purchase goods and services from the United States"

"Other Donors: The United States is the largest bilateral donor to Israel."

An additional, though not as well verified source, has this to say:
"Over 50% of its aid budget is spent on middle-income countries in the Middle East, with Israel being the recipient of the largest single share"

"According to Heater & Berridge, Israel has been receiving 12/13% of all American charitable foreign aid since 1979"

Can someone tell me why we spend so much money on a country that we get so little return on? Countries where literally millions are dying of AIDS from get less. Countries that have suffered catastrophic disasters get less. Many AMERICAN programs for the poor and needy get less.

The stated goal of American foreign aid is to create goodwill around the world. If this is indeed the goal then we are failing miserable in this one area. We are hated in the Middles East for the amount of support in dollars as well as political support we give Israel. I AM NOT anti-Semitic, but I do feel that there is a blind degree of support for Israel from the US Government.

Whether it is from perceived guilt over the failure of the US and other countries to have stopped the holocaust or the more 'practical' perceived political power of the Jewish vote in America, it has embroiled the US time and again in the Middle East and affected our international policies more than almost any thing since the end of the Cold War and even during the Cold War had significant impact.

A thought that might well concern our political body is how Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. If the Body Politic is concerned about Political Power, they might well wonder how long until Islam, not Judaism, is the dominant Religious minority.

posted by Greymagius @ 1:02 PM

Beginning of The Week Open Thread Sunday, February 12, 2006

So...who wants to talk about what?

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:58 PM

Wonky Washington Wikis

I've been a little lax this week about blogging and will be this weekend as I'm heading to Nashville for the weekend. I'll try to throw a lot of things for the weekend though.

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that's usually pretty good. some entries are better than others because they are generally written by volunteers and are generally considered neutral. A scandal erupted recently on the Hill because a number of elected officials had their people go about changing some of the entries because in some cases, they presented truthful but unflattering information. This isn't limited to one party of the other. Senatoral folks include Tom Harkin, Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein, Norm Coleman and Conrad Burns.

This linked back to a href="" target="_blank" involving Congress Marty Meehan (D-MA). His staffers had gotten in an changed the info about him not adherring to the four term limit he'd placed on himself as well as the fact he currently has raised more money than any Rep on the hill. It's somewhere over $4 million.

There's no law against what they did but in a time of scandal racing through Washington at all levels, one would think they'd try to keep an air of transperancy about them. Most of the information is a matter of public record anyway and is available on other websites and an in many newspapers' archives. They just can't shake the ways and they won't.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 8:58 PM

Imperialist Yellow Hat Man and Curious George Friday, February 10, 2006

Something inane and asinine has got me a little wound up today. In a recent "review" of the delightful children's book H.A. & Margaret Rey, L.A. English teacher Robin Roth provides an incite(this is the choice spelling here) into the animal cruelty, bad parenting and imperialist tendencies demonstrated in a children's book cause one to take pause as socially irresponsible.

Here's the review:
by H.A. Rey

Educational Tool or Irresponsible Menace? Children's Classic Demands Socially Responsible Reading

The celebrated children's classic Curious George is a seemingly simple story about an innocent - yet inquisitive - African monkey snatched from his jungle home. Children have loved this boldly illustrated story, in primarily primary colors, and marveled to the adventures of the curious little monkey for decades. The text is easy to read and immediately engaging, but a closer reading reveals a much darker side to the popular tale that spawned sequels, toys, and cartoons. Not only does the story reveals the sinister side of a corrupt wildlife trade with perilous roots in Western imperialism, but recent ethical, legal and scientific considerations on the personhood of primates makes a traditional reading of Curious George both impossible and irresponsible.

The book begins with a picture of a happy monkey swinging in a tree and eating a banana. The image is so pleasant, in fact, that even the flowers in the illustration have happy faces. The little monkey is happy as well, until he is captured, when his wide grin turns to a grimace. When H.A. Rey first wrote the book in the early 1940s, public attention and conservation efforts failed to focus on a dangerous and controversial wildlife trade where millions of apes and monkeys are slaughtered, captured, and sold into animal slavery, and babies are frequently snatched from the lifeless bodies of their mothers. In Rey's book there is no violent capture-only a benign looking white man - presumably a wildlife trader -- in a big yellow hat.

"What a nice little monkey," he [the man] thought. "I would like to take him home with me" (6).

A couple of pages later, the monkey's curiosity gets the best of him. Like an African tribal member centuries earlier, the monkey is deceived by the trader, bagged, and sold. George's happy face turns to fear.

"George was sad" (12).

The author quickly detracts from the sadness of the monkey, however, an animal that shares almost 100 percent of human DNA and is - in fact - humankind's closest living relative, lest twentieth century children react too sentimentally toward a species not their own. Perhaps for this reason, George, as he is now known, is never shown with his primate family. Although the white man in the yellow hat is never depicted mistreating the monkey (although some might argue dressing a wild animal in human clothes is the cruelest form of exploitation), the monkey is, nevertheless, a "naughty little monkey" (36). George is constantly unsupervised, gets in trouble with the police, and is even sent to jail. The picture of the forlorn little primate alone in his cell conjures haunting images of countless monkeys lingering in laboratories, suffering silently and alone, or the millions of primates hunted into extinction or forced to live unnatural lives dedicated to human pleasure.

To continue to read Curious George as a harmless children's adventure about a wayward monkey is irresponsible. The implicit connection between animal suffering and a wildlife trade where primates and other nonhuman animals are caught and sold for laboratories, zoos, and other forms of human exploitation is never mentioned in Rey's book. While some might claim such political or philosophical musings have no place in a children's story, and certainly such topics were not addressed in 1941, when the book was first published, the frightening implication for young readers is that wildlife exists for human use and pleasure. Such a view makes it easy to view the little monkey as much better away from the strong bonds of primate family units of which Dr. Jane Goodall writes, before he is transported to a city where he wears human clothes, sleeps in a bed, smokes a pipe, and is sold to a zoo. A modern, socially responsible reading of the book must focus on a socially just solution to the problems presented by the monkey's capture. Such a reading makes Curious George an excellent educational tool in teaching children an environmental ethic where the rights of all creatures are valued and considered.

This is just insanely overboard here. I fancy myself liberal and progressive on many issues but the types of topic the reviewer brings up aren't ment for three-year-olds. The other point she makes in the end is one many would disagree with: that wildlife exists for human use and pleasure. I got news for you Roth, many people believe just that. Many of us use animals for work and pleasure. That's what pets are. That's what the mule is for. They call them work animals for a reason. Besides, if you eliminate that notion, then they could arguable be considered competition for space and resources. We don't want that now do we.

This is the most idiotic review I've seen in my life. This is a young children's book. Leave it that way. three-year-olds aren't about being socially responsible.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 3:57 PM

Dick Made Him Do It

Honest Dick Cheney told I. "Scooter" Libby to rat out Valerie Plame because of her husband's criticism of pre-war intelligence.

The disclosure in a legal document written by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald demonstrates one way in which Cheney was involved in responding to public allegations by Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, that the administration had exaggerated questionable intelligence to justify war with Iraq.

In a letter written in January and released in court papers filed by Libby's defense Monday, Fitzgerald wrote that Libby testified that his "superiors" authorized him to disclose information from the National Intelligence Estimate to reporters in the summer of 2003.

The National Journal first reported on its Web site yesterday that Cheney had provided the authorization.

The intelligence estimate is a classified report prepared by intelligence officers for high-level government officials, and some parts are regularly declassified in a summary and available to the public.

Assuming, at this point, that everything the administration and their pundits have said is true, that Plame wasn't covert anymore, that no laws were broken, etc., then why did Cheney authorize giving her name to Novak and others? What was there to gain? The political fallout has certainly been rough and it's cost Bush and the administration a lot of it's credibility. Was it worth the hassle? Wouldn't it have been easier to let Wilson talk with some damage control? IF the administration did nothing illegal, what's the point to all this? Why is ther even a question as to the investigation? We'll see what happens but I think this act was down with absolute malice and Cheney needs to be impeached over this whole thing.

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posted by Stithmeister @ 9:35 AM

Trade Deficit Costs America $1 Trillion

I get an email newsletter from an economist at the University of Maryland. He's a very good at his job and has done all kind of things. He gets picked up by newsmedia fairly regularly in one form or another. Here's what he had to say about he current trade deficit problems:

2005 Trade Hits another Record
Bush Administration Trade Deficits Now Costing the U.S. $1 Trillion Each Year

Today, the Commerce Department reported the 2005 trade deficit was $725.8 billion, up from $617.6 billion in 2004. In December, the trade deficit was $65.7 billion, up from $64.7 billion in November. My forecast for the December deficit, published by Reuters, was $66.2 billion.

In the fourth quarter, the trade deficit exceeded 6 percent of GDP, and with consumer spending slowing, a growing trade deficit will weigh down economic growth in 2006.

In 2005, the deficit on petroleum products was $229.2 billion, up from $163.4 billion in 2004; prices for imported petroleum rose about 37 percent from 2004. In December, the petroleum deficit was $21.8 billion, down from $23.0 billion in November.

The American appetite for inexpensive imported consumer goods and cars was a huge factor driving the trade deficit higher. In 2005, the deficit on nonpetroleum goods was $537.6 billion, up from $487.6 billion in 2004.

The Wal-Mart effect was broadly apparent. In 2005, the trade deficit with China hit $201.6 billion, a new record. In November and December, the deficit with China declined for seasonal reasons—stores stock up for the holidays in October. The deficit with China will begin rising again in the New Year.

This situation is likely to become worse in the months ahead. Crude oil prices are rising again, and an overvalued dollar continues to keep imported cars and consumer goods cheap.

The dollar remains at least 40 percent overvalued against the Chinese yuan and other Asia currencies.

China continues to peg against the dollar. Although China revalued the yuan from 8.28 to 8.11 in July, and announced it would adjust the currency to a basket of currencies, the yuan continues to track the dollar very closely. Currently it is trading at 8.06.

China is permitting the yuan to rise at a pace of 1.2 percent per year. Since implicit value of the yuan rises about 5 percent each year, the yuan will remain at least 40 percent overvalued for the foreseeable future. The overvalued dollar will contribute mightily to the U.S. trade deficit until the Bush Administration takes decisive action.

Together, higher oil prices and a strong dollar will push the trade deficit to new record highs. The trade deficit will likely exceed $800 billion in 2006.

High and rising trade deficits tax economic growth. Specifically, each dollar spent on imports that is not matched by a dollar of exports reduces domestic demand and employment, and shifts workers into activities where productivity is lower.

Productivity is at least 50 percent higher in industries that export and compete with imports, and reducing the trade deficit and moving workers into these industries would increase GDP.

Were the trade deficit cut in half, GDP would increase by nearly $300 billion, or about $2000 for every working American. Workers’ wages would not be lagging inflation, and ordinary working Americans would more easily find jobs paying good wages and offering decent benefits.

Manufacturers are particularly hard hit by this subsidized competition. Through recession and recovery, the manufacturing sector has lost 3 million jobs. Following the pattern of past economic recoveries, the manufacturing sector should have regained about 2 million of these jobs, especially given the very strong productivity growth accomplished in durable goods and throughout manufacturing.

Longer-term, persistent U.S. trade deficits are a substantial drag on growth. U.S. import-competing and export industries spend three-times the national average on industrial R and encourage more investments in skills and education than other sectors of the economy. By shifting employment away from trade-competing industries, the trade deficit reduces U.S. investments in new methods and products, and skilled labor.

Cutting the trade deficit in half would boost U.S. GDP growth by 25 percent a year.

These effects of lost growth are cumulative. Thanks to the record trade deficits under President Bush, the U.S. economy is about $1 trillion smaller. This comes to nearly $7000 per worker.

Had the Administration acted responsibly to reduce the deficit, American workers would be much better off, tax revenues would be much larger, and the federal deficit would be about half its current size.

Were the trade deficit cut in half, $2000 would be recouped but $5000 per worker in lost growth is essentially lost forever.

The damage grows larger each month, as the Bush administration dallies and ignores the corrosive consequences of the trade deficit.

Peter Morici
Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1815

I think he puts it pretty succinctly. The administration is more worried about listening in on its own citizens than it its about economic policy and massive trade deficits with China and the rest of the world. How can we ever expect to improve the economy if we don't get a grip on dealing with China?

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posted by Stithmeister @ 9:16 AM

Location: Harrodsburg, Kentucky, United States

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