Subject to Change, version 2.0
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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

DeLay investigator tied to lobbyist.

Also: Paper set to reveal DeLay investigation at impasse over staffing...

[The Raw Story | A rational voice - Alternative news]
9:40:39 PM    

Very sneaky:On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the border crossing at Calais, Me., carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. American customs agents confiscated the...

[War and Piece]
3:12:41 PM    

The fake security state in action
Crazy motherfucker.

Man with chain saw, sword is let into U.S.

Associated Press Writer

June 8, 2005

BOSTON -- On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted Despres. Then they let him into the United States.

The following day, a gruesome scene was discovered in Despres' hometown of Minto, New Brunswick: The decapitated body of a 74-year-old country musician named Frederick Fulton was found on Fulton's kitchen floor. His head was in a pillowcase under a kitchen table. His common-law wife was discovered stabbed to death in a bedroom.

Despres, 22, immediately became a suspect because of a history of violence between him and his neighbors, and he was arrested April 27 after police in Massachusetts saw him wandering down a highway in a sweat shirt with red and brown stains. He is now in jail in Massachusetts on murder charges, awaiting an extradition hearing next month.

At a time when the United States is tightening its borders, how could a man toting what appeared to be a bloody chain saw be allowed into the country?
Bill Anthony, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the
Canada-born Despres could not be detained because he is a naturalized U.S. citizen and was not wanted on any criminal charges on the day in question.

Anthony said Despres was questioned for two hours before he was released. During that time, he said, customs agents employed "every conceivable method" to check for warrants or see if Despres had broken any laws in trying to re-enter the country.

"Nobody asked us to detain him," Anthony said. "Being bizarre is not a reason to keep somebody out of this country or lock them up. ... We are governed by laws and regulations, and he did not violate any regulations.


Okay, so they let a blood-covered guy cross the border AFTER confiscating all his crap...which he had just used to commit murder.

But my shoes were a threat to national security.

Way to go, RentaCops!


When they caught up with him in Massachusetts, he was wearing a flak jacket stained with blood.

Now consider all of the journalists and innocent travelers detained at customs. Remember how Jen was jerked around at the Cleveland Airport? Yet this guy, who meets all the clinical definitions of crazy motherfucker, who has his swords, with swastika engraved, and chainsaw, covered in blood no less, taken from him. and is allowed to return to the United States.

We live in a fake security state. This just smacks you in the head with that fact.

Did he need a severed head and some entrails to be stopped?

Or a Muslim name?

Let's bet that if he was an American-born Pakistani or Indian academic coming from a fisheries conference in New Brunswick, he would get a far more thorough going over than the crazy blood stained motherfucker they let pass.

Why? Because terrorists have brown skin. That's why. You can, apparently cross the border, with bloody weapons, and no one will stop you. But have the wrong color skin and it's fun time at customs. [The News Blog]
3:11:49 PM    

Ding-Dong, The Plan is Dead.

Looks like Social Security is safe:President Bush has all but conceded his plan for private accounts for Social Security is dead, admitting privatization won't save the federal retirement system. "You can solve the solvency issue without personal accounts," Bush said...

 [Ezra Klein]
3:10:17 PM    

$455 billion? It's only your money..

It's your tax dollars at work. Astonishing numbers:

World military spending rose for a sixth year running in 2004, growing by 5 percent to $1.04 trillion on the back of "massive" U.S. budgetary allocations for its war on terror, a leading research institute said on Tuesday.

But world military expenditure was still 6 percent below all-time highs recorded in 1987-88 toward the end of the Cold War, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its annual yearbook.

With expenditure of $455 billion, the United States accounted for almost half the global figure, more than the combined total of the 32 next most powerful nations, said SIPRI, which is widely recognized for the reliability of its data.

(Bold emphasis and inserted links added.)

Almost half of the entire world's military spending... damn. I knew it was bad, but I had no idea it was that bad.

Well, Cheney did say that "9/11 changed everything...", right? According to the Reuters article:

U.S. spending "has increased rapidly during the period 2002-2004 as a result of massive budgetary allocations for the 'global war on terrorism', primarily for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq," it added.

U.S. military spending increased to 3.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year from 3.0 percent in 1999 but remained well below its Cold War peak of more than 6 percent, it said.

The report also mentions that Russia is the world's biggest supplier of conventional weapons, and China is the biggest recipient, as you can see from these graphs.

That giant sucking sound is the dollars leaving your wallet. Just write your next tax check to the Pentagon.

[Daily Kos]

3:07:45 PM    

No Bond With Africa

"The piddling amount Mr. Bush announced yesterday is not even 0.007 percent," editorializes the New York Times, without mentioning that $684 million buys about three days in Iraq.

1:25:14 PM    

Old South racism lives in Texas town.

Howard Witt | Linden | June 5

Chicago Tribune - They picked up Billy Ray Johnson outside a convenience store in this East Texas bayou town, a place where Confederate flags fly in some front yards and a mural of barefoot slaves picking cotton greets patrons inside the local post office. On a cool September night in 2003, they drove the 42-year-old mentally retarded black man to a cow pasture where a crowd of white youths was having a party. They got Johnson drunk, they made him dance, they jeered at him with racial epithets. Then, according to court testimony, one of Johnson's assailants punched him in the face, knocking him out cold. They tossed his unconscious body into the back of a pickup and dumped him by the side of a dirt road, on top of a mound of stinging fire ants. Hey! Nothin but good 'ole boys havin a bit 'o fun!

[The Agonist]
1:23:58 PM    

And his dog.

Santorum Extremely Vulnerable.

 Via Political Wire.

In 2006, the most important Senate race in the nation is Pennsylvania. This is not only because it is considered a prime pickup opportunity in an important swing state, but also because Rick Santorum clearly has Presidential aspirations. In fact, with...

1:23:12 PM    

Come, Minorities! Hug Me With Your Differences!.

Is the Republican Party the party of white conservative Christians? Well, considering that James Dobson speaks on behalf of the party more than Ken Mehlman (and that Ken Mehlman is in his particular...veiled state, shall we say), and that the major cultural issues of the Republican Party are driven by the primary concerns of white conservative Christians, I'd say it's not that much a stretch. It's much the same way I can assume that my car runs on gasoline when I'm stuck, stranded on the side of the road after it runs out of it. I can argue that it runs on wishes, honey, and recycled issues of Stuff magazine, but deep in my heart, I know that's not true.

Is the Democratic Party perfect on race? Not even close. But comparing the Democratic Party to the Republican Party is almsot laughably pointless. The Republican Party is driven by a "hug 'em all" ethic, where so long as they pat minorities on the back and smilingly whisper at them how John Kerry once said he hates churros and that Howard Dean comes from a state with a lot of white people, it's equal to actually doing something. The fact that there are Republican minorities? Hot damn, brown people! That's as good as Martin Luther King going fishing with Richard Nixon! Why don't you understand?

The GOP race card is large, tattered, and belongs to a completely different game. Their discussion of racial progress and ethics largely consists of appearances that amount to political melanin transfers. Do you see me touching these minorities? Do you understand my deeply held concern for these people as long as they share the same concerns as white Christians? I got Donnie McLurkin standin' next to me, you little bastards, and if you don't like it, I'll accuse you of running donkey shows.

It's with this in mind that I try to wade through the river of crap contained within this post (Generation Why Do I Even Try?).

11:21:14 AM    

More Google Stock! More Google Stock!.

In case the rare coin scandal in Ohio wasn't enough, our workers' comp bureau lost $215 million.

Long story short, a conservative investment strategy was yielding returns a few years ago, so the OBWC shoved in $300 million more to invest in a riskier strategy to hedge against inflation. Knowing there was a problem last year, the state pretty tooled around on it for a while, apparently lying to the governor about it in the process.

Critics complained that although the bureau knew last fall that the MDL fund of long-term bonds and other securities had lost $215 million, and that Attorney General Jim Petro named a special counsel in November to investigate, the details were not made known until this week.

"Instead of coming clean about this colossal loss, our state’s leaders decided to hide the truth from the people of Ohio," House Democratic Leader Chris Redfern, of Catawba Island, said.

Bureau Interim Administrator Tina Kielmeyer sent a memo to Gov. Bob Taft yesterday outlining the situation. A Taft spokesman said the governor was informed of the loss in the fall, but was told that it was about $10 million to $20 million.

In fact, the bureau reallocated $125 million to riskier investment activity with MDL after learning in March 2004 the fund had lost $6.9 million, Kielmeyer’s memo said. The investment wasn’t stopped until November, when it had $9 million left.

Oh, well. It's not like Taft does anything anyway. I'm beginning to wonder who was in charge of the math, though. Why allocate $125 million in a risky, loss-prone strategy to make up for a $6.9 million loss? They're shoving in over $300 million to this - all you need is a strategy that returns between 2.3 and around 6% (depending on the higher or lower amounts being invested), and as we all know from Social Security, the market has a guaranteed rate of return of at least 6%, right?

It's less about the fact that the money was invested (the rest of the fund is actually pretty competently run on the investment side), but rather the absolute panic mode OBWC seemed to go into when they lost a fairly small amount. And the fact that Taft is a walking neuter at this point.

11:20:17 AM    

ElBaradei 1, Bolton 0.

From the Washington Post. Reader J writes:...

One of the chief controversies Bolton was involved in was his outright opposition to a third term for Mohammed El Baradei as IAEA Director General, on the supposed grounds that...

[War and Piece]
11:19:41 AM    

Editing out inconvenient facts.

Two years ago this month, a report from the Environmental Protection Agency was going to provide the first comprehensive review of what is known about various environmental problems, where gaps in understanding exist, and how to fill them. Naturally, there was a large section on global warming -- right up until the White House stepped [...]

[The Carpetbagger Report]
11:19:10 AM    

Going Down on the Downing Street Memo.

Well, that is what media whores do best, isn't it?

I can't say what's worse about the corporate press's treatment off this story -- the way they've tried to ignore it, or the reason that's often given for ignoring it: That it ain't news.

As Dana Milbank (and he's one of the good ones) suggests in today's Washington Post:

In part, the memo never gained traction here because, unlike in Britain, it wasn't election season, and the war is not as unpopular here. In part, it's also because the notion that Bush was intent on military action in Iraq had been widely reported here before, in accounts from Paul O'Neill and Bob Woodward, among others.
In other words, "everybody" (i.e. the kind of sycophantic shits who read about each other in The Note) already knew Bush had decided on war with Iraq even as he went through the motions of seeking a peaceful solution to the WMD "crisis," and were also well aware that "the intelligence and the facts" had been "fixed around the policy." Why bother reporting it again, just because the intelligence chief of our closest ally happened to put it in paper in just so many words?

The idea that the story never took off because the war is less unpopular here than in Britain is also eyeball rolling. Does Dana read his own reporting?

Poll Finds Dimmer View of Iraq War
52% Say U.S. Has Not Become Safer

By Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane

Who knows? They might feel even worse about it if the media made a bit more of an effort to report the facts. And since when are journalists (real journalists, I mean, not Fox News clones) supposed to tailor their reporting to the popularity or unpopularity of a government policy? I mean, we all know they do it, but is it really something they want to offer up as a public defense? It's like Michael Jackson admitting he molested underage boys -- but only because he thought he could get away with it.

I see from the morning papers -- or their electronic equivalents -- that the press corps finally has been shamed (or cornered) into reporting the story, thanks to the Reuters correspondent who insisted on interrupting Blair and Bush while they were doing their Geldolf/Bono impressions at the White House yesterday. You knew it had to be a foreign-owned news organization that popped the question. No red-blooded reporter from the American steno pool would pull a stunt like that.

Tom DeLay: Hmmm, Roytours. Ain't that a Frenchie name?

But of course, the consensus editorial decision was to bury the question, and the pathetic lies it elicited, at the bottom of the "Bush Vows to Save Africa For Just Pennies a Day" stories. The Post's main contribution to the coverage was Milbank's A-8 apologia. The LA Times buried it, as did the Chicago Tribune. The USA Today reporter -- a servile, Bush-licking hack named Rich Benedetto, gave it exactly one paragraph -- although for McPaper I suppose that qualifies as saturation coverage.

The New York Times, to be fair, has a reasonably lengthy stand-alone piece on the memo, even if it is reported by Elizabeth "the bum" Bumiller. I can't tell what page her story ran on, but I can tell you it's just about impossible to find on the Times web site. The Boston Globe gets a special merit citation -- it even ran excerpts from the memo itself. But somehow I suspect the readers of the Boston Globe and the New York Times aren't the people who most need to know about this. Those would be the vast majority who get their news and views from the idiot box. Since I don't watch TV anymore -- except under extreme duress -- I don't know what the network airheads and cable morons have done with the story. I probably don't want to know.

Today, I'm willing to bet, will mark the high point of the corporate media's coverage of the Downing Street memo. I know the gadflies will keep on gadding -- and more power to them -- but this is clearly a story the media elites are determined to stuff down the memory hole. Who's going to stop them?

A more fruitful line of agitation might be to pressure the media to take a fresh look at the Senate Intelligence Committee's aborted investigation of the WMD fiasco -- the one that was supposed to look at the White House's role in "fixing the facts and the intelligence around the policy" but somehow just never got that far, thanks to Chairman Pat "Stonewall" Roberts and his pliable sidekick Jay Rockefeller.

I'm not saying it would do a whole lot of good, but it would at least switch the focus from asking the Washington press corps to second guess itself, which it hates to do, to encouraging it to bash the GOP scumbags on the Hill, which it sometimes like to do, if it think its safe.

And who knows? Considering how quickly public attitudes about the war are souring, maybe some of the ink-stained slugs will actually grow spines.

[Whiskey Bar]
11:18:38 AM    

Yeah. Riiiiiiiight...

Two Plans, One Ridiculous Headline.

Tony Blair has a plan to double aid to Africa to $50 billion, one that he’s been promoting around the world for months. George Bush opposes Blair’s plan. But suddenly, on the day Blair was set to visit the United States, Bush “unveiled” his own plan to spend $674 million more ...

[Think Progress]
10:46:31 AM    

Contemplating Life if GM Fails

 I think there's some validity to these concerns voiced by the head of Toyota:
OSAKA, Japan (Reuters) - The outspoken chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. said on Wednesday he feared the possibility that U.S. policy could turn against Japanese auto makers if local giants such as GM and Ford were to collapse.

"Many people say the car industry wouldn't revisit the kind of trade friction we saw in the past because Japanese auto makers are increasing local production in the United States, but I don't think it's that simple," Hiroshi Okuda told a news conference. "General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are symbols of U.S. industry, and if they were to crumble it could fan nationalistic sentiment. I always have a fear that that in turn could manifest itself in policy decisions," he said, speaking as the head of the nation's biggest business lobby, the Japan Business Federation.
One likely policy change that I could imagine in the face of a potential collapse of GM or Ford would be a government bailout along the lines of the Chrysler bailout. But I think that Okuda was referring to other types of "policy changes" - e.g. tariffs and quotas on Japanese cars, or even on other Japanese goods. Such trade protection would be of limited use in the car industry, since so many Japanese cars are now made in the US... but perhaps they would be combined with higher local (i.e. US) content rules as well. Of course, a large fraction of Ford, GM, and Chrysler cars are produced outside of the US as well...

Most worrying of all, however - and not at all out of the question if a GM or Ford fails - might be the imposition of across-the-board import tariffs by the Congress. Such import tariffs would do nothing to help the US current account deficit, but they would help US firms that compete with imports, while at the same time reducing economic growth both at home and abroad...


- Kash
[Angry Bear]
10:45:27 AM    

Use a condom, be 'prepared to die'.

As part of my ongoing fascination with the remarkable inanity of publicly-funded abstinence-only programs, I found a new report explaining that Ohio's program is unusually ridiculous.

Ohio abstinence-education programs contain false information and disregard the needs of sexually active or homosexual youths, according to a new report from a public health professor.

One abstinence program, for [...]

[The Carpetbagger Report]
10:44:03 AM    

Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday. From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...

Now, if the nominee was Richard Pryor, that would be different...

(Washington, June 7) - Today, a diverse group of organizations amplified the growing national opposition to the nomination of William Pryor to a lifetime seat on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Hosted by The Interfaith Alliance, organizations, some of whom have seldom if ever opposed a judicial nominee, came together to urge the Senate to reject Pryor, who they say would be a judicial activist based on his stated contempt for the Supreme Court and his extremist views of two centuries of American jurisprudence.

The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance moderated a telephone panel discussion that included Phyllis Snyder, President, National Council of Jewish Women; Christopher Barron, Political Director, Log Cabin Republicans; Jim Ward, President, ADA Watch/National Coalition for Disability Rights; and David M. Smith, Vice President of Policy, Human Rights Campaign. The speakers agreed his confirmation would be detrimental to religious liberty, human rights, women's rights, rights of the disabled, consumers, workers, and the environment.

"Mr. Pryor envisions a different and frightening America, where public officials would ignore the Constitution and our history in order to impose one particular religious tradition's interpretations and beliefs on all other Americans," Gaddy said, noting that Pryor is the first nominee ever opposed by The Interfaith Alliance. "In his imagined America, one version of Christianity would deny equal rights to the believers of all other traditions within Christianity and to all other religions or non-religious beliefs. In the interest of religion and democracy, The Interfaith Alliance does not want America to go down that road."

Read the rest at the Interfaith Alliance web site. And maybe give your Senators a jingle??

Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

[Daily Kos]

10:43:25 AM    


 From "What's My Line Part 2," Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.4: XANDER: (reading about the Bugman assassin) OK, OK ... he can only be killed when he's in his disassembled state. Dis-assembled. That means when he's broken down into his...

7:22:58 AM    

The Conscience Claws Rip Into Your Grocery Bag, Courtesy of James Dobson

Jeralyn at TalkLeft reports the recent development at your local Acme/Albertson's/SaveOn (where I happen to shop): "Albertsons Corporation agreed to accommodate its pharmacists' right to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their religious or moral beliefs. The accommodation came on the heels of a lawsuit filed by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and the Christian Legal Society...

- Riggsveda

7:21:00 AM    

Breaking News: DEAN TELLS TRUTH...... again.

From Howard Dean:
"...a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party."


7:19:20 AM    

Harry Shearer: Taking the privilege...

....of replying to a comment on the "moral equivalency" post--else, what's a comments section for? Here's the one that caught my eye:

Hmm. I'm shocked that you c/d/won't see the lack of "moral equivalency" between Guantanamo Bay and the Soviet's gulags. The Soviets locked people away in the gulags because their opinions didn't conform to the doctrines endorsed by the Central Committee. The US has locked people away because they raised weapons against, or planned to raise weapons in defense of terror organizations.

Posted by: Travis at June 7, 2005 12:27 PM

Dear Trav: how do you, or the US government, know that the people locked away at Gitmo raised even a finger in defense of terror organizations? Because the Army said it? Because, as has been reported, Afghan warlords sold them to the Americans? The point AI was trying to make, in its possibly clumsy way, was that Gitmo represents an abandonmnet of the Western liberal ideal of justice, where evidence has to be presented, and confronted, before an impartial magistrate, in a speedy and fair manner, before such conclusions are drawn about a person. That's what links the Gitmo project to far worse depradations like the Gulag.

FYI: the people who've been released thus far from Gitmo have been viewed by the US military as a non-threat. Where do they go to get their two years back?

- Harry Shearer
[The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
2:03:59 AM    

Latest Poll News For Bush: A Billboard Sized Warning Sign.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll suggests President George Bush, a little more than 6 months after his re-election, is skating on thin political ice — so thin that it...

[The Moderate Voice]
1:39:03 AM    

David Wessel on Equal Opportunity and the Meritocracy.

He writes, relying on the work of the excellent Joe Ferrie among others: - As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in the U.S., Class Mobility Stalls: The notion that the U.S is a special place where any child can grow up to be president, a meritocracy where smarts and ambition matter more than parenthood and class, dates to Benjamin Franklin. The 15th child of a candle-and-soap maker, Franklin started out as a penniless printer's apprentice and rose to wealth so great that he retired to a life of politics and diplomacy at age 42. The promise that a child born in poverty isn't trapped there remains a staple of America's self-portrait.... But the reality of mobility in America is more complicated... the gap between rich and poor has widened... the odds that a child born in poverty will climb to wealth -- or a rich child will fall into the middle class -- remain stuck.... Americans are no more or less likely to rise above, or fall below, their parents' economic class than they were 35 years ago. Although Americans still think of their land as a place of exceptional opportunity... the evidence suggests otherwise.... As recently as the late 1980s,...

[Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal]
1:36:51 AM    

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