31 December 2006

Happy New Year!

Spending the rest of the day enjoying the company of good friends for dinner, cocktails, and a little dancing. Have a safe and happy holiday. I'll return tomorrow or Tuesday.

HAPPY 2007!

As 2006 comes to a close...

...American military fatalities in George's misguided and mismanaged war have reached 3,000.

Upon hearing the news of the 3,000th death, the President said:
The sacrifice has been worth it.
Sending America's brightest and youngest to die on the wings of lie is not worth it, Mr. President.

And you should be ashamed of yourself.

30 December 2006

Half a Trillion Dollars & 3,000 American Lives

I'll have a little more to say about the execution of Sadaam Hussein after the New Year holiday, but for now I'll let Jesus' General take it:
George W. Bush
The Lord's Chosen

Your Majesty,

There is only one course left for you to take now that Saddam bin Laden is finally dead. You must give a speech in prime time detailing your long battle against this man. Your father should be made to kneel down beside you as you address the nation, so that once and for all, the world will know that you are a better man and a greater leader than him. Saddam's dead, naked body should be draped over the podium as you speak, and once you've finished, you should have your way with it to demonstrate that you've achieved the only thing you ever really wanted to accomplish in Iraq, the total domination of the man your father couldn't control, not with weapons sales or war. Then, you should bring our troops home.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

29 December 2006

Pedj & Kelly

YouTube is filled with these types of things...shirtless frat boys lip-syncing and being absolutely narcissistic (click here for one of the more popular examples). But I had to post this one...

These French cuties are "straight," according to Steph and Alek. Yeah...umm...no.

Edwards 2.0

As expected former Senator John Edwards (Democrat-NC), his party's nominee for vice-president in 2004, has officially entered the race for president in 2008.

Forgive me if my excitment level is a little low. Edwards didn't do anything for me in 2004 and does less for me now. Maybe I'm missing something, but his tremendous emphasis on the "two Americas" thing - while extremely admirable - is not going to win him the White House, especially in this day and age.

AP Poll: Bush Is the Worst Villain of 2006

25% of respondents picked President Bush as the top villain of the year in a new Associated Press poll.

Number 2: Osama bin Laden (8%)
Number 3: Saddam Hussein (6%)
Number 4: The President of Iran (5%)
Number 5: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (2%)
Number 6: The Devil (1%)

Me thinks this is a poll in which Mr. Bush would rather not do well.

Putting it into perspective, as always, Mr. Stephen Colbert:
But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.

28 December 2006

Ford's Civility

Quote of the Day:
...we in Michigan hold Jerry Ford in affection and esteem for his lifetime of service, including 13 terms in the House of Representatives. Over time we will honor his memory in many ways, but one immediate way is to return the Gerald Ford quality of civility to the nation’s capital.
-Senator Carl Levin (Democrat-MI), paying tribute to former President Ford, who represented Michigan during those 13 congressional terms.

Sen. Levin's wish for a more civil Congress may come true when the Democrats take control of both chambers next week. According to the New York Times:
[After years of] Republican abuse of Congressional power and procedures, the incoming majority has promised to restore House and Senate practices to those more closely resembling the textbook version of how a bill becomes law: daylight debate, serious amendments and minority party participation.

Democrats assuming control on Jan. 4 said they also wanted to revive collegiality and civility in an institution that has been poisoned by partisanship in recent years. In a gesture duly noted by Republicans, the incoming Speaker of the House...Nancy Pelosi, offered [outgoing] Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, who is remaining in Congress, the use of prime office space in the Capitol out of respect for his position.
And with a little luck and lots of hard work, this newfound civility will clear out the toxic air that has hung over our government since 1995, and bring back the days when Gerald Ford was House Minority Leader; when Republicans and Democrats battled during the day, and in the evening - after work - enjoyed one another’s friendship.

The Movies of 2006

The best movie I saw this past year was, far and away, Paul Greengrass' brilliant and compassionate film "United 93."

The movie simply watches events as they unfold on the morning of September 11, 2001. It doesn't point fingers. It doesn't draw any conclusions. Greengrass' decision not to use mega-stars for this story was deliberate; as was the decision to keep away from the Hollywood formula of portraying the characters as people with histories and sappy backstories. And that is what makes the staggering horror of the final moments of this film so monumental. You are right there with these passengers as they fight the ultimate fight to overtake their hijackers. American Everymen emerging from the chaos of that unbelievable September morning with courage and heroism.

This film is masterful and heartbreaking...and it honors the memory of the passengers and crew...those wonderful, brave angels.

Worst movies of 2006: "Flyboys," a box office bomb about the American men who volunteered for the French as aviators in the Lafayette Escadrille during World War I. The movie's battle sequences are decent enough, but the story is rather empty headed.

And, "The Good Shepherd." The late movie critic Gene Siskel used to say that a movie was especially bad if you left the theatre saying "I will never get that time back." And "The Good Shepherd" was an abysmal 167 minutes of clumsy and tedious filmmaking that had me ready to scratch my eyes out.

Biggest disappointment of 2006: "Poseidon." Wolfgang Petersen, the director of the seafaring classics "Das Boot" and "The Perfect Storm," had a tremendous opportunity to update "The Poseidon Adventure," Paul Gallico's 1969 best selling tour de force, and he fell short.

The special effects were tremendous (the opening sequence of the film is nothing short of amazing - watch most of it here, and when you do remember that the ship is completely computer generated) and the set designs were tremendous, yet Mark Protosevitch's screenplay was absolutely rotten. Had Petersen and Warner Bros. simply translated Gallico's original human stories into the script, they would have had an excellent film. Instead, they took the book - and the 1972 film - and turned them into bare bones minimalist schlock.

My recent review of the '69 novel can be found here.

The Shitty Drivers of Alameda, Part 2

The drivers of Alameda, California continue to drive like teenagers who flunked drivers education class.

This time it was a charcoal grey Lexus ES300, with the California license plate "NYSLEX." The rather hefty hoo-hoo behind the wheel made a left turn onto a major thoroughfare while the light was still red.

She followed that up at the next intersection with another left turn...from the RIGHT turn lane.

Arrrgh!!

27 December 2006

President Gerald R. Ford, 1913 - 2006

President Gerald Rudolph Ford, the nation's 38th chief executive, has died in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 93.

Nominated by President Nixon in 1973 to replace Spiro Agnew as Vice-President, Ford was elevated to the presidency in August 1974 when Nixon resigned in disgrace over the Watergate scandal, thus making Ford the only president in U.S. history not to have been elected to the office or to the vice-presidency.

He later pardoned Mr. Nixon, an act that surely led to his defeat in the 1976 election, where he was able to turn a 25-point deficit in polling into a 2-point loss on Election Day. In fact, despite that 50% to 48% popular vote loss, a switch of just 23,182 votes in Ohio and Wisconsin would have given Ford the presidency in the Electoral College.

Ronald Reagan would flirt with the idea of making Ford his running mate in 1980, but eventually George H. W. Bush would join the Republican ticket that year.

Ford and his 1976 opponent, Jimmy Carter, would go on to become best friends. Carter called Ford "one of the most admirable public servants and human beings I have ever known."

The nation begins a period of mourning, and state funeral arrangements are pending.

26 December 2006

Clumsy and Tedious

Went with Brent and the in-laws to see "The Good Shepherd" on Christmas Eve.

Don't waste your time. It's too long...167 minutes without suspense and without intrigue (and this is a SPY movie!). The screenplay is abysmal, bouncing unevenly between the Bay of Pigs fiasco and World War II.

The story is worth being told (the rise and fall of a CIA operative), but this is a clumsy, tedious effort and I highly suggest you bypass it. About an hour in I was ready to stab my eyes out.

One-and-a-half stars.

23 December 2006

Happy Hana-Kwanz-mas!

We're off to the foothills of suburban Sacramento for the holiday weekend. (Again...martinis and valium, anyone?)

Back to the blogosphere on Tuesday.

Happy Hana-kwanz-mas!

Sh-Sh-Sh-Shakin' in Berkeley

I returned from my Saturday morning coffee/paper run when Brent asked, "Did you feel the quake?" I hadn't (I was driving). But it's the THIRD small quake we've had since Wednesday. It was a 3.7 tremor centered right across the bay in Berkeley.

Last night - after dinner with friends - Brent, Chloe, and I were sitting here relaxing before bed when all of a sudden a big jolt shook the apartment. Turns out, it was a 3.7 quake, centered right across the bay in Berkeley.

And on Wednesday evening, there was another quake. And it, too, was a 3.7 quake centered right across the bay in Berkeley.

I don't know if the Hayward fault is just letting off little bits of steam, or if it's getting ready to blow. But if it is the latter, I'm glad we're heading to Sacramento for the weekend.

Traveling Melons

My dear friend Gil is off to Chicago for the holidays. Travel safe, and enjoy plenty of that delicious shawirma, mi amigo. I'll see you next week.

Happy Hana-Kwanz-mas!

"...two strong legs to guide him"

During everything that's been happening these last 2 or 3 months, I've had (for some reason or another) this classic Los Lobos track running through my head.

From 1984, your Song of the Day is the stellar "Will the Wolf Survive?" by Los Lobos:

Peaceful Morning

The past two months have been uber-stressful. For me, work has been hella-busy and I've been trying to get through it all while battling a 9-week cold/flu/cough that has me at my wits end. Brent's company was on the selling block, with the potential for unemployment hanging in the air (thankfully, he found out yesterday that he still has a job). And, what lays ahead this weekend won't be a cake-walk either (matinis and valium, anyone?).

When I woke up this morning it was quiet and peacful here in the apartment. The only sounds I could hear were Brent and Chloe sleeping and breathing. I layed there for a half an hour and just took it all in - my partner and my daughter, the love of my life and our pride and joy.

It was the most peaceful moment I've had in months.

22 December 2006

When friends go on a New Years cruise...

Bon Voyage!

How to Get Through the Holi-daze

Quote of the Day:
Christmas mornings for me are all about martinis and valium.
-Wilhelmina Slater, as played by Vanessa Williams, on "Ugly Betty."

Amen, Sista Wilhelmina. Amen!

The New 'Harry Potter' Book...

...will be called "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." The title was revealed yesterday on author J.K. Rowling's website in the form of a hangman puzzle.

Much speculation surrounds the final book in the series, mostly around whether or not the title character will perish. But, as one Brit put it:
The title is a hoax to give the impression that Harry Potter will come to a nasty end - the real title of the book is "Harry Potter And The Lovely Rainbow-Coloured Munchkin Rabbits Of Bibbledy Bobbledy Lane."
Rowling's publisher did not indicate a release date.

Baby Steps

New Jersey takes a step in the right direction: Gov. Jon Corzine signed a civil unions law yesterday that gives gay couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

The law takes effect February 19.

21 December 2006

Holiday Picture of the Day

With apologies to snowman fanatic, Joanne Winters.

Delusional and Criminal

That's what MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle called President Bush after yesterday's miserable press conference. On the network's Scarborough Country last night, Barnicle said:
We have a President of the United States who is isolated. He‘s delusional. He is stubborn. The deaths in this war right now...the deaths of American soldiers verges now on the criminal. And I don‘t think that‘s too strong a statement. It verges on the criminal.
Regarding Bush's refusal to listen to the Joint Chiefs, Scarborough said:
Well, this is uncharted territory...I want you, if you will, to imagine, how would Republicans have responded if President Bill Clinton had ignored the advice of all of his Joint Chiefs, his top general in the war zone, his former Secretary of State, and 80 percent of Americans? Is it not a stretch to say that many Republicans would have considered impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton if this situation were identical?
Ain't that the truth!

Right after last month's elections I said the new congress shouldn't over-reach on impeachment. But it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the new congress should keep impeachment on the table. It is after all a part of the Constitution's remedy to rid us of an incompetent president.

And, my friends...George W. Bush is incompetent in spades.

Report: U.S. Let bin Laden Get Away...Twice

A new report indicates that NATO troops had Osama bin Laden in rifle range twice - once in 2003 and again in 2004 - and in both instances the U.S. did not give approval to take him out.

Now, imagine for a moment an alternate universe in which President Carter, or President Clinton, or a President Gore had let the master mind behind the murders of 3,000 U.S. civilians remain free to roam the planet. Those presidents would have had their asses kicked by the Republicans, and for that matter by a huge majority of Americans.

Worse yet...think how things would have turned out had Hitler remained free and in charge of Germany; or how they would have turned out had President Roosevelt went to war with Mexico in 1941 instead of Germany. FDR would be at bottom of the heap on the lists of the best American leaders, and the United States would probably no longer exist.

Make no mistake: bin Laden remains a free man due to President Bush's warped sense of how this war should be fought (Iraq? Sadaam Hussein?). His leadership - or significant lack thereof - have left the United States reviled by the rest of the world and, as a result, significantly less safe than we were in the fall of 2001.

20 December 2006

Ron and Carol

I was boppin' around YouTube this evening and came across this news intro from 1985. It's from the NBC-owned station in Chicago (WMAQ-Channel 5), back in the early days of Ron Magers' and Carol Marin's highly successful run on the station's 10PM newscast.

They left the station in protest in 1997 when station management attempted to bring in Jerry Springer to do commentary, but to this day they remain the best anchor team ever to grace television news. Today's "bubble-headed bleach blondes who come at 5" would do well take some lessons.

You can see the first few minutes of an actual 1989 newscast here.

And the 1985 intro is below.


Update: A reader from Los Angeles asked if Ron Magers is any relation to Paul Magers, the lead anchor at KCBS-Channel 2 in L.A. Yes, they are brothers.

And They Wonder Why We Laugh At Them, Pt. 2

More news from the great state of Texas:
A 3-month-old baby was left unattended in a shopping cart for about an hour Sunday when her parents accidentally left her behind at a local Toys-R-Us, police said.

The parents, who were traveling in different cars, didn't realize what happened until they got home and neither one had the baby.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term "no child left behind."

On Iraq

President Bush, 24 October: "Absolutely, we're winning."

President Bush, yesterday: "We're not winning, we're not losing."

Found It


That perfect holiday picture I was looking for on Monday?

Well...I found it. Sums it up pretty well, I'd say.

Ho, ho, ho.

19 December 2006

Hillary Leads McCain: Trend or Outlier?

A new national poll from Newsweek shows Sen. Hillary Clinton (Democrat-NY) leading Sen. John McCain (Republican-AZ) by a solid 7-point margin, 50% to 43%, in a 2008 match up.

As far as I know, this is the first time Clinton has led McCain in any of the 2008 polling. And while I'm the first to admit that polling 23 months out doesn't mean a thing, one has to wonder whether McCain's call for troop increases in Iraq has caused a sudden trend toward a Democratic presidential ticket, or if this poll is just an outlier compared to others.

My hunch is this poll is the outlier. But it wouldn't surprise me in the least if independents and McCain-leaning Democrats strip the Arizona Senator of their support over his proposals on how to handle the Iraq War.

If things continue as they are, or (God forbid) they get worse, then McCain is toast. Either the Republicans will refuse to nominate him or the Democratic ticket will make mince meat of him in a general election. (Another four years of Bush-like failures will be the last thing this country will want.) However, if things start to improve in Iraq - and that improvement is due to increased troop levels - then this new Newsweek poll will probably be the best showing the Democrats will have against a McCain-led Republican ticket.

Cash Crop

A report released yesterday shows marijuana is America's biggest cash crop, bringing in $35 billion. That makes pot a bigger money-maker than corn, hay, soybeans, and grapes.

California led the way, with $14 billion dollars in green sales.

Joint Chiefs Oppose Bush Plan

President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq this late in the game isn't at all popular with the heads of the Armed Forces.

From the Washington Post:
...the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military...
Meanwhile, the former Chief of the Joint Chiefs (and former Secretary of State), Colin Powell, doubts the plan will work. He thinks the Army is over-extended and "about broken."

The way I see it, this plan is too little too late. The President and his former Defense Secretary were criminal in their planning of the war. As a matter of fact, it can be (and should be) argued that they were criminal in going to Iraq in the first place.

Thanks for the Laughs

Joseph Barbera, half of the Hanna-Barbera animation team that created the Flintsones, Yogi Bear, and Scooby-Doo (among others), has died. He was 95.

18 December 2006

For Those 'In the Know'. . .

...you'll know why this is perplexing: I was looking for a picture of an out-of-control, super-crowded toy store for a Christmas-related blog post. Like most folks I went to Google Images in hopes of finding what I wanted. I looked through a few pages and didn't find anything but when I got to page 7, this image jumped out at me.

Not exactly what one thinks of when they type "toy store christmas" into the Google search engine!

Nightmare Scenarios for Future Conflicts

As seen by defense anaylst John Arquilla
The second Korean War

A nuclear blast shuts down U.S. communications, and North Korean conventional forces move in for the kill.

War in the Taiwan Strait

China uses advanced technology to sink the U.S. fleet in nothing flat.

Terrorist attack on San Francisco

Fires and explosions break out simultaneously across the Bay Area.
It's an excellent piece, told in the fashion of "A Christmas Carol," and highlights how the incompetence of the Bush administration will have a long term effect on the security and defense of the United States. You can read the entire essay here.

16 December 2006

Gustavo Santaolalla

A year ago this weekend Brent and I joined our friends Todd and Troy down in L.A. for a matinee showing of "Brokeback Mountain" at the Grove. The movie is, in my opinion, the best film of the last six years. And contributing to its success was the evocotive soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolalla. With his haunting combination of guitars and strings, he captured the true essence of America's mountain west. "Brokeback" wouldn't be the movie it is without his heartwrenching score.

And so, on this wintery Saturday morning, your Song of the Day is "Brokeback Mountain" by Gustavo Santaolalla.

Clueless

Quote of the Day:
Don Rumsfeld is the finest Secretary of Defense this nation has ever had.
-Vice-President Dick Cheney, yesterday during Rumsfeld's farwell ceremony at the Pentagon.

The administration of George W. Bush: inept, in denial, and clueless.

15 December 2006

"Fiddle-dee-dee"

On this very night, December 15, 1939 - sixty-seven years ago - "Gone With the Wind" had its premiere showing at the Loew's Grand Theatre in Atanta, Georgia.

The movie would go on to become a major cinematic classic, winning Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel), and Best Director (Victor Fleming), as well as the hearts of movie fans around the world.

In celebration of its 1939 opening, here is the original theatrical trailer. (The sound is a little off, but still it's worth watching.) Enjoy.

A Little Extra Protein

From Wheaton, Illinois:
A senior at Wheaton North High School, about 30 miles west of Chicago, is accused of ejaculating into a bottle of ranch salad dressing last week and leaving it on a condiments cart in the cafeteria, school officials said.

The student allegedly bragged to his friends during his lunch period December 6 about the masturbatory episode. One of those students told school leaders Tuesday, and when confronted the boy confessed to contaminating the salad dressing bottle.
Hmmm. Perhaps guns in the classroom IS a good idea after all.

On the other hand, considering what school kids eat these days, that was probably the most protein they've had all year!

Buh - Bye

Chloe, the Christmas Elf

Some Friday entertainment:

The daughter does a little holiday jig for you. Click here for the show!

That Would Be a "Yes"

From Taegan Goddard:
In a meeting with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), said that "he believed he would be a 'viable candidate' for president who could move the nation beyond the generational politics that have defined the last 40 years."
Yup. Sounds like he's running to me.

Baker-Hamilton, Out

According to Kevin Drum, it seems James Baker and Lee Hamilton have lost their touch. The D.C. politcos want nothing to do with their Iraq Study Group Report.

14 December 2006

Republicans & Guns, Part Deux

Following Tuesday's report of a proposed Texas law that would permit blind people to hunt with guns comes this little diddy from Nevada:

Republican State Senator Bob Beers says the Nevada State Legislature should consider a bill that would let teachers carry guns.

Yes. THAT would make our schools SO much safer.

"Did you say you're homework isn't done, Johnny? That's a shame. Please step up to my desk."

Johnson Insight

Blue Girl, Red State (who is a scientist and lab clinician) has some positive insight into what happened to Sen. Tim Johnson (Democrat-SD) yesterday.

You can link to her post here.

Frat F*ck Driving a Honda Pilot

The company I am contracted with is located in the East Bay suburb of Alameda, California. They are situated in a series of business complexes in which one has to drive through several miles of side streets to get to work each morning. And all of those side streets have 25 mph speed limits posted.

Get clocked doing 29 mph and the Alameda Police will pull you over and ticket you. (Thankfully, I haven't been pulled over. But I see it happen to others several times a week.)

SO...this morning I am driving down High Street - moving between 25 mph and 26 mph - when a big silver Honda Pilot is right on my ass. He flickered his lights, he tried to go around but couldn't (two lane street, no passing). About 20 to 30 seconds later we approached a stop light. It had turned yellow well before we got there, and was red when we stopped.

Once we stopped, the guy in the Pilot swung around to my passenger side - into the right turn lane - and proceeded to fly through the red light at about 35 mph, and once he was on the other side of the light he was going much faster.

First and foremost...there is a junior high school located at this intersection. I don't know what this fuck-wad was thinking, but obviously he had no concern for the school kids of Alameda.

Secondly, he violated about three other traffic laws: speeding, going through a red light, and mis-using a turn lane. And my question is, where were the cops? Usually they're lined up along that stretch because of the school, but this morning they were nowhere to be found.

So to the drivers of Alameda, I serve you warning - Be on the lookout for the following vehicle:

Honda Pilot (Silver)
California license plate number: 5DTN020
With a license plate frame that says: "Alpha Tau Omega"


A frat boy. Figures!

Wild Crush

Quote of the Day:
As anyone who has ever fallen in love knows, it takes a while to get your head straight, to stop your heart from pounding and for your dewy eyes to find their focus again.
-Carol Marin, Chicago Sun-Times columnist and political editor at Chicago's WMAQ-Channel 5 (NBC), throwing cold water on the wild crush Democrats and the media have on Sen. Barack Obama.

Carol is right, of course. Obama looks like an attractive candidate right now, but should he announce even I will have many questions about his foreign policy skills at the very least.

Sen. Tim Johnson

Senator Tim Johnson (Democrat-SD) is in critical condition after undergoing brain surgery at George Washington Hospital in D.C. last night. While the rest of the media have been jumping all over the "what if" scenario that could possibly play out in terms of Senate control, I will refrain for the time being.

My thoughts are with Sen. Johnson and his family this morning. Get well soon.

13 December 2006

From You Tube

Matt Damon channeling Matthew McConaughey on 'Letterman.' And quite well, I might add.

Umm...No, Thank You


Enough said?

Another One Bites the Dust

Rep. Henry Bonilla (Republican-TX) has conceded the run-off election in that state's 23rd congressional district to Democrat Ciro Rodriguez. That makes it a 30 seat pick-up for the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

12 December 2006

And They Wonder Why We Laugh At Them

From the great state of Texas: Edmund Kuempel, a Republican member of the state legislature, has filed a bill for the 2007 session that would permit "legally blind" people to use a gun with the aid of a laser-device when hunting.

"I've seen this on TV before, when they're taking target practice," Kuempel said. "When they aim the gun the guide tells them, aim two inches higher or two inches lower and you're on the target, and you're off and running."

And so are the people around them!

Next up in the Texas legislature: A law allowing blind people to drive.

While drunk.

Still Unprepared

Over five years after 9/11, and just over a year following the Hurricane Katrina debacle, and the United States is still unprepared for a major catastrophe.

The administration of George W. Bush: The most incompetent group of goons ever to govern our nation.

Will Richardson Run?

Quote of the Day:
[Gov. Bill] Richardson (Democrat-NM) is easily the most qualified of the Democrats in the field. He has served as a governor of a border state, has extensive foreign policy experience as Ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration, and has served in many high-level federal positions including a tour as a Cabinet member as Secretary of Energy...Richardson possesses the seniority, experience as a chief executive, and more foreign policy experience than either [Hillary] Clinton or [Barack] Obama.

...if the Democrats succeed in nominating Richardson, he is almost certain to become the 44th President of the United States.
-Amy Proctor, self-described "Christian Republican" blogger from the Northeastern U.S.A.

Before serving at the U.N. and heading the Energy Department, Richardson worked for the State Department and later became a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he spent 15 years in the U.S. House of Representatives expanding his interest in foreign relations, met with the North Koreans in 1994 and won the release of a U.S. helicopter pilot, and earlier this year he negotiated the release of U.S. journalist Paul Solopek from the Sudan and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

I've always considered Gov. Richardson among the top tier of the Democratic presidential candidates. And if Ms. Proctor is any indication, he could win over enough Republicans to take the White House back for his party.

According to his website, he will announce his intentions in January.

Seven Years On

Note: I drafted this on Saturday morning, but in our rush to get out the door for a Christmas party, I never went back and actually posted it. Sorry, B-man.
This love I sought...
people laughed and said,
'the boy's all in your mind,'
but now that I've met you I'm fallin'
From "Falling For Your Love." Written by Pamela Phillips-Oland, as performed by the Sylvers.

This past weekend Brent and I celebrated seven wonderful years together. To him I say: Thank you for being my partner, my best friend, the love of my life. I wouldn't trade these past 7 years for the world.

It's schmalzy as all hell, and the choreography is pure 80's, but this video is for you. Happy Anniversary, Sweet Man. "The best is yet to come."

New York Film Critics Circle: "United 93" Best Film

The movie awards season has begun...

The New York Film Critics Circle named the powerful "United 93" as their choice for best film of 2006 on Monday. Martin Scorsese was named best director for "The Departed." Helen Mirren, best actress for "The Queen." And Forrest Whittaker, best actor for "The Last King of Scotland."

Mirren and Whittaker also took the acting prizes by the National Board of Review last week.

"Letters From Iwo Jima," Clint Eastwood's companion piece to "Flags of Our Fathers," was picked as the top movie of 2006 on Sunday by the L.A. Film Critics Association, as well as the National Board of Review.

Criminal

Quote of the Day:
I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal.
-Sen. Gordon Smith (Republican-OR), on the current congress' last day in session, criticizing the Bush administration's incompetent Iraq policy.

It IS criminal, and the President, Vice-President, Attorney General, and the out-going Defense Secretary (among others) should be prosecuted for war crimes by the International War Tribunal.

For the record, Sen. Smith went on to say:
I believe we need to figure out not just how to leave Iraq but how to fight the war on terror and to do it right.
(My italics.) Four years later these Republicans - and many other Americans, Republicans and Democrats - are finally (finally!) coming to the realization that the Iraq War has diminished our capacity to fight the global war against terror.

I know hindsight is 20/20, but you can forgive those of us who were in the small minority arguing against this war for precisely that reason in late 2002 for being so flabbergasted by where things stand today.

We saw this coming. And no one listened.

11 December 2006

One Last Moment with Your Republican Congress

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-CA), the in-coming Speaker of the House, has announed that the chamber will be in session Monday through Friday during its next term. No more waltzing in on Tuesday and leaving Thursday afternoon, as the out-going Republican congress has done. Not when you're being paid $170,000 a year.

The Republicans, in typical form, immediately whined and moaned about their longer work week, saying that since Pelosi won't let them spend more time with their families the Democrats are obviously the "anti-family" party.

Because god forbid these guys have to work an honest work week, you know...like the rest of America.

09 December 2006

Noel Terrill Photography



My sister Noel is moving into the realm of "artist"...in a big way. One of her photographs is hanging at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, in the One Of a Kind Art Show and Sale.

The photograph on display is the first one above. The second is my all time Noel Terrill favorite, taken just days before 9/11.

Good luck at the show, Sista Girl. Your brother is proud of you.

"Smalltown Boy"

Ever since Sully posted the video on his blog last week, I can't seem to get Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy" out of my head. As one of his reader's wrote:
Being from a small town and being gay in the '80's was never easy...I endured black eyes, broken bones, ostracism, and generally being the town "fairy". Needless to say, on the day I turned 18, I was gone.
I wasn't from a small town, but the northwest suburbs of Chicago weren't any easier. And that is why, when I turned 18, I couldn't wait to get out and move into the city.

And so, your Song of the Day is "Smalltown Boy" by Bronski Beat. No song or music video spoke as powerfully to young gay men in the 1980's as this one did.

08 December 2006

Movie Recommendation: "The Queen"


We went to see "The Queen" with our friends Mark and Don over the Thanksgiving Day weekend and I've been meaning to write about it.

The movie is an absolute delight. Rather than take the cheap "made-for-TV" bio-pic route, director Stephen Frears ("My Beautiful Laundrette," "Prick Up Your Ears," "Dangerous Liaisons," "The Grifters," "Mrs. Henderson Presents") presents a brilliant character study, examining the complex relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The picture takes place, for the most part, in the days following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash in Paris. The story is spellbinding: The Royal Family's determination to remain separate and aloof from the death of Diana, who is no longer a royal due to her divorce from Prince Charles, versus the newly elected Prime Minister's gauge of the public perception. Tradition and history (Elizabeth) versus the public mood (Blair).

Helen Mirren's performance is the key to this wonderful movie. She is masterful and brilliant here, and if she doesn't win the Oscar for this role then it can be argued that the Academy has lost its way.

Finally, I have to mention the work done by Sylvia Syms. Her tart and sharp-witted peformance as the Queen Mother is absolutely fabulous. Best Supporting Actress, anyone?

Hopefully "The Queen" is still playing near you. If it is, I suggest you take some time this weekend to see it. You'll be glad you did.

Rice vs. Baker

President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice reject the major proposals made by the Iraq Study Group, headed by James Baker (the Secretary of State under Bush's father) and Lee Hamilton (the former Democratic congressman from Indiana).

Money quote:
Ms. Rice remained publicly silent, sitting across town in the office that Mr. Baker gave up 14 years ago. She has yet to say anything about the public tutorial being conducted by the man who first knew her when she was a mid-level Soviet expert on the National Security Council. She has not responded to Mr. Baker’s argument, delivered in a tone that drips with "isn’t-this-obvious," that America has to be willing to talk to its adversaries (a premise Ms. Rice has questioned if the conditions are not right), or his dismissal of the administration’s early argument that the way to peace in the Middle East was through quick, decisive victory in Baghdad.
Given this administration's track record, I guess I shouldn't have expected them to embrace the Baker/Hamilton recommendations. Denial, arrogance, and incompetence thrive in the Bush White House. And our military will be weakened because of it.

Viagra Could Stop Cancer

Or pretty damn close, anyway. At least according a study by John Hopkins University:
...researchers say that [the drug] shows promise in "unmasking" cancer cells so that the immune system can recognize and attack them with greater efficiency.
Talk about a wonder drug!

07 December 2006

And For Balance...

Quote of the Day 2:
...this commission was composed apparently entirely of people who did not have the judgement to oppose this Iraq war in the first place. And did not have the judgement to realize that it was not a wise move in the fight against terrorism.
-Senator Russ Feingold (Democrat-WI), on 'Countdown' last night.

I haven't looked at the report yet. The little I know of what's in it comes from news reports.

But just as David Igantius makes a good point below, Feingold makes a similarly strong argument above.

Baker-Hamilton

Quote of the Day:
This is the real national security threat to America - this sense in the rest of the world that Iraq symbolizes America's fatal new combination of arrogance and incompetence. This report asks the world to help us find our way back home. Even if its proposals don't succeed, the Baker-Hamilton report can still accomplish its purpose, to "enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly."
-The Washington Post's David Ignatius, giving the Baker-Hamilton report on the situation in Iraq a symbolic 'thumbs up.'

Reviews seem mixed on the Iraq Study Group report. But we're at the point now where something has to be done. This can't wait until a new president takes over in January 2009.

The war needs to be brought under control. My hope is the new Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, will be able to do that. And then, two years from now, a new president can begin repairing the damage of George W. Bush's arrogance and incompetence. And believe me, no matter who the next president is, that will be a tall order.

22%

That is the portion of the vote that went to Republican House candidates last month...by gay and lesbian voters. For Republican Senate candidates, it was 25%. Two years ago 23% voted to re-elect President Bush (even after his proposal to defile the Constitution with hatred).

In the overall realm of things those numbers are pretty anemic; and perhaps in many instances the Republicans these gay and lesbian voters supported were more on the liberal side; and although I have done it only sparingly, I am not against supporting the occassional Republican candidate. (An aside: I have never supported one at the federal level.)

But after all the Republican Party has done over the last 6 to 12 years to demonize us and turn the clock back on all we've worked for...I don't know...25% seems like an awfully high level of support.

06 December 2006

VP's Lesbian Daughter is Pregnant

Ssshhhh...that sound you hear is the religous right going batshit. For Darth Cheney's lesbian daughter is...gasp!...knocked up...

From the Washington Post:
Mary Cheney, the Vice-President's openly gay daughter, is pregnant. She and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, are "ecstatic" about the baby, due in late spring, said a source close to the couple.
Uncle George is fit to be tied, Grandma Lynn tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the Washington Post has a lot of explaining to do, and Grandpa Dick plans to shoot the father in the face.

Update: According to AmericaBlog Cheney and Poe live in Virginia, where voters just passed one of the most hateful anti-gay amendments in the country:
The law ensures that Mary's partner has no legal rights whatsoever in their child, or in what happens to Mary (or vice versa), such as if one partner has to go the hospital, the other can't visit. The law may even nullify any wills that Mary and Heather write regarding each other, and it may make it impossible for gay people to go to court to resolve any difference about anything - the courts can't recognize gay unions, so they can't make any decisions that would imply recognition (custody, hospital visitation, wills, etc.) It's beyond ironic that Virginia's new law, one of the most hateful, bigoted laws on the books, is now targeting the Vice-President's own daughter and soon-to-be new grandchild.
Pass the popcorn; the drama that is about to unfold in the fascist wing of the Republican Party is going to be Oscar-caliber drama.

Now, let's think of names. Luke or Leah, anyone?

05 December 2006

Who Farted?

News Item: Flatulence, not turbulence, forces an American Airlines plane to make an emergency landing in Nashville.

The embarassing details here.

George the Obstinant

Quote of the Day:
President Bush has never shown that he is willing to change, so reality-based observers have a moral obligation to keep treating him accordingly. I strongly believe that when people act, they compel from society the logical response to that action, and the President's continued obstinacy demands opposition, not capitulation. He deserves not faith or trust, but, as he has earned, distrust and constant oversight. And patriotic Americans of both parties owe it to the country to keep the pressure on him.
-A.J. at AMERICABlog, in an essay posted yesterday about the shifting events in the Iraq War, and President Bush's refusal to alter his plan.

Senate hearings begin today on the nomination of Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. I think we'll get some idea of any change in course during testimony. But my sense is it'll be "more of the same," "stay the course," etc.

But one can hope.

The War Crimes of George W. Bush, et. al.


Isolation; sleep and sensory depravation; hoodings; stress positions; exposure to noxious fumes; exposure to temperature extremes; threats of imminent execution; assaults; the forced administration of mind-altering substances; denial of religious practices; manipulation of diet; and other forms of mistreatment.
That is the watered-down version of what Jose Padilla's lawyers claim was done to him while he was jailed in Charleston, South Carolina.

Padilla is citizen of the United States. He was arrested in Chicago four years ago, charged as an "enemy combatant," and made to "disappear" by the government of George W. Bush. Yet, as of today, no charges have been filed against Mr. Padilla.

The tortures that Padilla has experienced are acts that have long been categorized as war crimes under both the U.S. War Crimes Act and the Geneva Conventions. Yet the outgoing Republican congress, at the urging of the President, had the wording of the War Crimes Act rewritten in the 2006 Military Commissions Act so that the President could arrest anyone anywhere on such charges, apparently without an iota of evidence.

It is un-American in every sense of the word. The Bush administration tramples on the Constitution as no administration before them (not even Nixon's), and by doing so hand the terrorists that attacked us on 9/11 the victory they were looking for: an unraveling America.

The President, the Vice-President, outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, his predecessor John Ashcroft, and Karl Rove should all be charged with war crimes and shipped to the Hague in the Netherlands to stand trial.

04 December 2006

Hillary's Next Step

After winning an astounding 67% of the vote in her re-election bid, Senator Hillary Clinton (Democrat-NY) is making some initial moves toward running for president. While she doesn't plan to make any sort of announcement until early next year, the New York Times reported yesterday that she "has begun a calculated series of meetings with top New York Democratic officials to signal that she is likely to run for the presidency in 2008."

Andrew Sullivan would rather she not:
She really shouldn't run. It would divide and polarize the country; she's dreadful on the stump; she has very high negatives; most Democrats only like her; almost no-one loves her; and do we really want 20 years of two families in the White House? Besides: what do you do with Bill?...I think she'd make a great Supreme Court Justice or Senate Majority Leader. I had a chat recently with a senior Republican and former presidential candidate. We were discussing how deeply divided the Republicans are. I asked him: what could unite them again at this point? He answered in one word: Hillary. She's the last hope for the far right. Please, Senator Clinton. Don't do it.
I really do think Hillary would make a superb president, but I am beginning to wonder if people like Sullivan are right. I think the Democratic ticket in 2008 will need to serve as the real healers...a ticket that will bring Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and Libertarians together to reverse the wrongs brought on by eight years of George W. Bush. And no matter how hard she tries, Senator Clinton won't be that candidate.

Bolton Resigns

The hapless, recess-appointed U.N. Ambassador will step down in the face of the coming Democratic Senate.

Jessica Simpson Is An Idiot

She's asked to sing "9 to 5" during a Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Dolly Parton, and she can't muster the professionalism to remember the words?

Tell me again why this dim-wit is taking up space on the planet.

29 November 2006

Off To a Great Start

Quote of the Day:
I didn't ask you that, I asked how he's doing.
-President Bush, to Senator-elect James Webb (Democrat-VA), after asking how Webb's son (a U.S. Marine) was doing in Iraq. Webb had responded that he just wanted him home soon.

The little prick from Crawford is a bit testy, ain't he?

28 November 2006

Gratuitously Chloe

Down & Out

Sorry for the lack of posts over the past 10 days. I've been down and out with a nasty chest/cold/flu thing. Starting to feel something close to normal and will begin anew within a day or two.

18 November 2006

The Case For Impeachment

I argued last week that the incoming Democratic congressional majority should hold back on any impeachment proceedings against the President. While my stance on the subject hasn't changed, John Nichols of the Washington Monthly makes a pretty solid arguement FOR the impeachment of George W. Bush (and Dick Cheney).

Select quotes:
House Democrats have an obligation to the American people to check and balance the executive branch. The best way to do that is to get serious about impeachment. Indeed, if they don’t, Democrats will suffer for disregarding not just their oaths of office, but also the will of the voters who entrusted them with the power to right the Republic. On this, the historical record is very clear: Holding the president to account is good for the country...

If Democrats hope to build a new, more vital relationship with Americans, one that runs deeper than any single issue or individual, party leaders must overcome the fear of proposing impeachment that has paralyzed them as an opposition force. America needs an opposition party not merely to reshuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic, but to turn the ship of state back towards the Constitution, the system of checks and balances, and to that most appealing of American principles: the idea that the rule of law applies to every citizen. Such a direction will win support from Democrats,...Independents, and principled Republicans.
I still don't think the American people would stomach impeachment proceedings very well, but I must say Nichols' argument is very compelling. You can read the entire essay here.

C-Student Revisionist History

Quote of the Day:
We would not give up. That's why we won.
-President Bush, yesterday, in discussing the Vietnam War.

If Mr. Bush thinks we won the Vietnam War, is it any wonder we find ourselves in the mess we're in when it comes to Iraq?

16 November 2006

John and Rudy

Sen. John McCain (Republican-AZ) will officially open his 2008 presidential exploratory committee today, becoming the first of what I call the "top tier" candidates - of either party - to do so.

The 2006 election results haven't even been certified in many places yet but, as I mentioned two weeks ago, Sen. McCain has already sold his soul to the devil in his quest for the Republican nomination. For the man who replaced Barry Goldwater to suddenly embrace the hate-filled rhetoric that spews from the fascist wing of his party...well...the real maverick from Arizona (Mr. Goldwater) would be disappointed.

Although, at this early date I have no idea who else the Republican Party would turn to. Jeb Bush? I highly doubt the American people want to see the Bush name on a ballot anytime soon. Rudy Guliani has started his exploratory committee, but I don't see how he gets close to the GOP nomination. The former New York City mayor isn't even a second tier candidate in my opinion, but rather a third tier.

First off, the Republican primary voters will probably reject him because of his rather liberal stance on social issues (a woman's choice, equal rights for gays, gun control). But I can't imagine that the foreign policy wonks within the party would support a Guliani candidacy either. Granted, he stepped up to the plate in New York in those weeks following 9/11, but that aside his foreign policy credentials are zero. Not exactly what the United States will need come 2008.

If we've learned anything from the presidency of George W. Bush, it's not to put a foreign policy novice up for the highest office in the land...especially in this day and age.

15 November 2006

The Baptist Pussy-Fuckers

hypocrisy (noun): The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness
Yesterday I received the following email from Brent, who is working in Dallas this week:
Sitting in Dallas as we speak.

Short vignette...We are sharing the hotel conference area with a group of Baptist church leaders. I was in the bathroom this morning and three gentleman where discussing how they needed to "find pu$$y tonight." One even said - and I quote - "I got to get a girl with her panties around her ankles bouncin' on top of me." I assumed they were here for our conference, but I was wrong...I walked out of the stall and they were all from the Baptist church conference. And yes, they all had wedding rings on.
Sit back and let the hypocrisy roll over you. Needless to say, Brent can't wait to get out of that sinful, depraved city and back to the rock-solid values of San Francisco!

Update: I took a look on "the Google" and found that these men are in Dallas for the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Otherwise known as the Baptist Pussy-Fuckers.

14 November 2006

The Gerrymander Pickle

The overall vote total in the House and Senate races this year shows the Democrats winning 56% of the national vote, the Republicans 42%, and third party candidates and independents sharing the remaining 2%. At the national level that 14-point spread is considered a huge landslide.

Yet the Democrats were only able to pick up about 30 House seats. While that is double what they needed to regain control, when you compare that number to previous "wave elections" (mid-terms that bounced a sitting president's party from power), 30 is a rather small number. For example, in 1994 Republicans received only 51% of the national vote, yet picked up 55 House seats (and 9 Senate seats).

Since 1990 many Republican governors, along with their Republican legislatures - and a little help from Tom DeLay - were able to draw the most obscene congressional districts to help keep Republican seats safe. Thus, the reason for the relatively modest Democratic gains last week.

But with Democrats back in control of a majority of the governorships, as well as the state legislatures, let's hope they can reverse the GOP gerrymandering and draw district boundries that are fair and balanced.

Just Wait 'til Your Father Gets Home!

I don't know which is more pathetic: George W. Bush having to rely on Daddy's friends yet again to bail him out from the consequences of his own incompetence, or that James Baker (his father's Secretary of State) and Robert Gates (his father's CIA Director) may now have to essentially beg Iran and Syria (Iran and Syria) to become part of the coalition to save the Bush Family name.

10 November 2006

War Crimes

When I mentioned this yesterday I didn't think it would happen so fast, but it seems the first war crimes charges have been made against outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, as well as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former CIA director George Tenet, for their alleged roles in the torture scandals at Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

At the President's orders these guys violated the Geneva Conventions and ordered torture and abuse of war prisoners.

If I were George W. Bush or Dick Cheney I'd be worried. They are liable for prosecution as well. They deserve to be...and they know it.

"Shimmers like a California Sunset"

It's hard to believe this song is already five years old. Your Song of the Day was the third single off Jamiroquai's 2001 CD "A Funk Odyssey," and it is definately one of their best..."Love Foolosophy."

The Green Hills of California

Laid back and playful...

Is Our Children Learning?

Quote of the Day:
Who’s Rumsfeld?
-Lance Cpl. James L. Davis Jr. of the U.S. Marines, when told that Donald Rumsfeld was leaving his post as Secretary of Defense.

09 November 2006

A Nation Saved

By an overwhelming margin (56% to 43% of the national vote tally), Americans voted on Tuesday to save our nation from the recklessness and incompetence of President Bush and his out-of-control Republican congress. A system of checks and balances, missing for six long years, has been restored to government.

And so, what do the Democrats do now? Well, first off they should resist the urge to engage in the politics of search and destroy. Lord knows the temptation is there; after 12 years of Republican games it will be hard not to want to give it back. But Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid should take the high road and move forward with a positive agenda as much as possible.

To that end, I don't suggest giving the Bush administration a free pass. Not by any stretch. Hold hearings, issue subpoenas, get to the bottom of the failures in Iraq and the overall war on terror, not to mention their dismantling of the Constitution. But don't over-reach and go for impeachment.

I sincerely believe (sincerely) that if any president and vice-president deserve to be impeached and removed from office they are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. These two men are war criminals, plain and simple. Unfortunately I don't think that is what the American people are looking for. For now, the new Democratic congress should provide rock solid checks and balances and hope beyond hope that the administration doesn't bungle things further.

I say let the international courts take care of things. They can start with outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He should be immediately arrested upon leaving his post and charged with war crimes by the international war tribunal. And on January 20, 2009 the same should be done with Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. Their reasoning for starting the Iraq War - and their conduct of it - are criminal. And they should be charged and punished accordingly.

But the people of the United States don't seem to have the stomach for impeachment. So, the Democratic leadership should resist the urge (unless something huge comes up in which members of both parties back such a move).

So, again...positive agenda. Oversight and checks & balances. Don't over-reach. As David Gergen said on "Anderson Cooper 360" last night, let the 2006 elections serve as the "appetizer" for the "main course" of the 2008 presidential election. If they keep their heads, the Democrats could find themselves adding to their majorities and winning the White House as well.

And They're Off

Election results from Tuesday night aren't even certified, and a few House districts are to be recounted or will conduct runoff contests, but that isn't stopping the 2008 presidential race from beginning in earnest.

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack plans to formally launch his bid for the 2008 Democratic nomination today. And last week - before the midterm elections even took place - Rep. Duncan Hunter (Fascist-CA) announced his plans to seek the Republican nomination.

Ok...the second tier candidates are beginning their runs. When do we hear from each party's big guns?

08 November 2006

Everybody's Smilin'

If all projections hold, the Democrats will control both houses of Congress for the first time in 12 years.

It truly is a sunshine day. (This one's for you, Shelly.)

Fundamentalist Slamdown

Despite the efforts of maverick-turned-Bush-Bitch John McCain, the people of the state of Arizona, in the tradition of their late beloved Senator Barry Goldwater, rejected an initiative that would have written discrimination into their state constitution.

In South Dakota, a pretty staunch pro-life state, voters rejected a law that would have banned virtually all abortions (and did so by a 12-point margin).

Voters in Missouri narrowly approved a state constitutional amendment protecting stem cell research.

And California and Oregon voters defeated measures that would have required parents to be notified before a girl under 18 could get an abortion.

On Gates

I don't really know much about Defense Secretary-designate Robert Gates other than the fact the he was CIA Director under the first President Bush.

Oh...and one other thing: I seem to remember Gates writing a book in the mid-90's in which he accused the Clintons of decorating the White House Christmas tree with X-rated ornaments. (I mean, COME ON!)

That little unconfirmed tidbit aside, the nomination of Mr. Gates, along with the appointment of James Baker to head the "Iraq Working Group," leads me to believe that Daddy's friends are getting together to bail out Little Boy George...yet again.

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA)

The Associated Press and NBC News have called the Senate race in Virginia for challenger Jim Webb over Republican incumbent George Allen, thus giving control of that chamber to the Democrats.

The AP also reports that Senator Allen is leaning against asking for a recount.

Sweet, glorious day, indeed!

Rumsfeld Resigns

The fallout is in full swing at the White House. The AP and MSNBC are reporting that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will resign. Apparently former CIA chief Robert Gates will be nominated to replace him.

Add Montana

Democrat Jon Tester has defeated Republican incumbent Conrad Burns. Now we wait for results from Virginia.

Say Goodnight, Ricky


Casey (D) 2,309,459 - 59%
Santorum (R) 1,625,875 - 41%

"Free Thinking In a Dirty Glass"

Quote of the Day:
Since it was Bush who said that if the Democrats win America loses, I suppose the only remaining question is whether he'll fly to Pakistan to offer our surrender to Bin Ladin or invite Bin Ladin to come to Washington.

Maybe they could do it on the deck of the battleship Missouri - just for old time's sake.
-Billmon of the Whiskey Bar, very early this morning.

It will be interesting to see the President's reaction to this rebuke. In his life I don't think he's ever had a serious one. No amount of red-faced fist slamming is going to change this result.

Nope. For once in his life George W. Bush will have to accept a result he doesn't like.

Sweet, Glorious Day

America woke up on Tuesday and in doing so saved the Republic from their reckless and out-of-control President. Independent voters, who gave Mr. Bush the benefit of the doubt in 2004 despite simmering warning signs, have watched in horror in the two years since as his administration botched the war against terrorism and ignored the Constitution.

Yesterday they decided it needed to stop, and decisively voted for checks, balances, and oversight.

For the first time in 12 years the United States House of Representatives will have a Democratic majority. As of this morning the party has gained 28 seats, while others await recounts (so that number could easily go above 30). And come January, America will have their first female Speaker of the House in Representative Nancy Pelosi (my Congresswoman, I'm proud to say)...two heartbeats away from the presidency.

In the Senate the picture is still unclear. The Democrats picked up seats in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Missouri. As of 6:30a PT the Democratic candidates are leading in Virginia (8,000 votes) and Montana (1,700 votes) but it looks like recounts are inevitable in both states. I am comfortable saying that both states look good and control of that chamber will likely fall to the Democrats as well.

It's been six long years, my friends. But finally, on this November morning, we can celebrate this sweet, glorious day.

07 November 2006

Democracy

3:20pm PT: The first polls have closed in Indiana and Kentucky. Election Night 2006 has begun; and now we wait for results from each of the 50 states to come in.

This is what America is all about. And I sit here tonight hoping beyond hope that my fellow Americans have thought long and hard, and voted to protect our great nation from the incompetent, reckless executive branch.

As I settle in for the evening to take in the numbers, I leave you with Leonard Cohen's "Democracy," performed by Don Henley.

Another Reason to Vote Democratic

Need another reason to vote Democratic?

Think of how frightening it will be if you wake up tomorrow morning to find that the Republican Party has maintained its hold on the House and Senate; and then think of the new excesses the Congress and the President could concoct with such unchecked power.

Our nation would spiral deeper into the abyss.

Imagine waking up tomorrow morning to this:
(Press the play button)

Vote Democratic

Now that the campaigns are essentially over and the election is in the hands of the voters, I use the morning of Election Day to urge all of you to make sure and take the time to cast your ballot today. I would also normally say that it doesn't matter who you vote for so long as you perform your duty as an American and vote.

But not today. Not this year.

As I said last night, the most important thing you can do today - whether you be liberal, moderate, or conservative; Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian - is to cast your ballot against the incompetent and reckless one-party rule in Wasington, DC.

Be patriotic.
Protect our Constitution.
Save our republic.

VOTE DEMOCRATIC.

Deep Breath...Here We Go.

I am uncomfortable making predictions of House and Senate races this year. As expected the Karl Rove machine has felt the need to break election laws and have spent the last 2 or 3 days "robo-calling" voters with harrassing calls that they hope will depress Democratic turn out.

It may work in some areas, it may not in others. But I think Republican turn out may be depressed a bit this year as well. The administration's incompetence in Iraq and on matters of federal spending, followed in short order by the Mark Foley and Ted Haggard scandals, may leave hardcore Bush Republicans at home or holding their noses and voting Democratic.

Then again, I don't put anything past these people.

On the House side, I'll predict a 20 to 25 seat gain for Democrats in the House...more than they need to regain control of that chamber.

The Senate is going to be where all the suspense is tonight. The Democrats will easily take Republican-held seats in Pennsylvania and Ohio. But they would need to pick up four more for control on that side of the Capitol.

After being tied all year Missouri seems to be trending the Democrats way over the last two or three days as undecideds figure out how they'll vote. Then again, the state has a strong rural/evangelical voter base that may swing this back to the Republican incumbent.

In Montana, incumbent Republican Sen. Conrad Burns has been fighting for his political life all year. But a visit by President Bush on his behalf last week seems to have stoked the Republican base and the race has tightened. I still think Democrat Jon Tester can pull out a win, but it will be mighty close.

Although polls in Virginia show the race between Republican Sen. George Allen and Democratic challenger (and former Navy Secretary) Jim Webb to be close, I think Webb has the edge here. Like Missouri and Montana it will be a nail biter, but I think Webb will pull it out. Allen's self-inflicted wounds seem to have done him in.

Rhode Island is one of the most Democratic states in the nation. But Republican incumbent Lincoln Chafee has been the most liberal Republican in the Senate, voting against President Bush in 2004, and against Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. Will it be enough to keep the Ocean State on his side? He's only a point or so behind right now. This one I can't call.

And then there's Maryland. This seat is currently held by a Democrat (Sarbanes, who is retiring). The contest has been leaning Democratic all year but has tightened a bit in the last few weeks. The Democrat has a 4 point lead right now but the final result could be less than that. If the Republican prevails here, then the Democrats won't win control of the Senate. It's that simple.

And so, the Democrats will win anywhere from 3 to 6 seats tonight. It will all depend on which party has the best turn out operation in each respective state.

Deep breath, here we go.

In the Land of Lincoln


Quote of the Day:
I was able to meet him, shake his hand, and briefly talk to him....here I was face to face with a man who could one day be our president. Right then and there he gave me the "audacity of hope."
-My sister Noel, on her one-on-one exchange with Senator Barack Obama (Democrat-IL) while attending a campaign rally for Rep. Melissa Bean (Democrat-IL). As my sister Shelly asked, I wonder if Noel will ever wash the hand Obama shook again!

You can read Noel's account of her brush with political fame here.

An aside...It seems Andrew Sullivan is smitten with the Democrat from Illinois as well:
I'm a believer. In the same God as the fundamentalists. In the same Jesus. But in a slightly different way. I'm glad Obama is open to that approach, because it is, in my view, as essential for Christians to reclaim their faith from extremism, as it is for moderate Muslims to reclaim theirs'. A great deal is at stake in that bettle within religions right now. And Obama seems to understand that. Which is vital in a potential president in this decade.
Not since the Civil War has our nation been so politically divided (just look at the 2004 Electoral College map). Who knows? Like 1860 maybe it will take another fresh face from Illinois to bring us all back together.

06 November 2006

On Tuesday

It's been six very long years.

Since having the presidency handed to him by the Supreme Court in December of 2000, President George W. Bush has taken the United States of America down a dark, dangerous road. And if voters keep his Republican Party in power on Tuesday, then America as we know it is done.

It's precariously close right now: State-sanctioned torture, habeas corpus thrown out the window, attempts to soil the Constitution with hate-filled graffiti, a national debt that will break the backs of America's children, and let's not forget the President who believes he has the right to disobey laws he himself signed.

Adding fuel to the fire, the Republican-led Congress has refused to check the President at every turn, functioning instead as enablers of the incompetence, fanaticism, and recklessness that have defined the Bush presidency.

The result of this one-party rule has resulted in an obscene abuse of power the likes of which the United States has never seen, and the only way to put the brakes on this out of control fascist train is to head to your polling place tomorrow and help put the opposition party in control of both houses of Congress.

President Bush may have only two years left in office, but if the last two years are any indication then we know the damage he could inflict on the Constitution could be irreversible; and by 2008 it will be too late to turn things around should Republican majorities in the House and Senate be maintained in 2006.

So, on Tuesday vote to hold Mr. Bush accountable for his mistakes and misdeeds.

On Tuesday let Mr. Bush know that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld CANNOT remain in his post through January 2009.

On Tuesday vote against the corrupt, incompetent, and reckless leadership these goons insist on shoving down our throats.

On Tuesday vote against this imperialistic government.

On Tuesday vote to protect the Constitution of the United States of America.

On Tuesday be patriotic...VOTE DEMOCRATIC.

05 November 2006

For Governor of California

Full disclosure: I voted for Steve Westly in the California Democratic Primary this past June. Following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's radical special election debacle last year I thought Mr. Westly's centrist approach to government would provide the best opportunity to unseat the over-reaching Republican incumbent. As such I was quite disappointed when Phil Angelides beat Westly for the Democratic nomination. Angelides didn't stand a chance against Arnold. Even in June he was perceived as hapless and weak against the "governator," and that perception has only increased in the months since.

In contrast, Gov. Schwarzenegger has re-grouped, found his groove, and spent 2006 working with Assembly Democrats on such long-term goals as upgrading our transportation systems & schools, helping stop global warming, and quadrupling the amount of money available to begin research on stem cells (despite a veto by his party's president of similar federal legislation). Other issues were tackled as well: the state minimum wage was raised, foster care reformed, and drug discounts for the uninsured secured. The overall result was one of the most productive legislative sessions in a long time.

In this mid-term election year the Republican president and his rubber-stamp Congress would do well to learn some hard lessons from the Republican governor of the largest state in the land. Bipartisanship isn't just a talking point for Mr. Schwarzenegger, it's how you get things done.

But what bothers me about Schwarzenegger is that he had to re-learn the lesson of bipartisanship after suffering an embarrasing loss at the polls last year. When the Democratic legislature wouldn't pass the bills the Governor wanted he went over their heads and called a special election in which $300 million was spent to take the issues to the voters. The voters were in no mood and soundly rejected every one of the ballot questions.

After the unnecessary 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis, the 2005 special election was another example of Republicans whining and moaning about elections and legislation not going their way and taking extraordinary measures to get what they want. Schwarzenegger's call for a special election (not to mention the manner in which he was able to become governor in the first place) left a bad taste in my mouth that hasn't completely gone away. Now he is cruising to what is expected to be a landslide victory on Tuesday and I am afraid that such a result will cause the Governor to slide back into "partisan mode" and over-reach again.

Or he won't. There is no way to tell. And therein lays my quandary.

Phil Angelides clearly lacks the leadership skills to build the coalitions needed to counter the egos and partisanship that stand in the way of progress in Sacramento. He has not articulated a compelling case for his election and as such I long ago decided that I could not cast my vote for him.

On the other side, Schwarzenegger, while proving he can build a climate of cooperation to get things done, has also demonstrated that when he is overconfident he can become too partisan and over-reach.

This is a tough call. Do I give Arnold the benefit of the doubt, cast a Republican vote in his favor, and hope he continues the bipartisan cooperation of the past year? My mind may change between now and Tuesday, but as of this writing I come down ever so slightly on the side of "no."

And so, as of today I will cast a protest write-in vote for Steve Westly on Tuesday.

04 November 2006

Freedom

Brilliant (courtesy of mgarthoff on YouTube, via Josh Marshall):

Good Times

What are you reading this blog for? Get out and enjoy your Saturday. And as you get ready, forget about the malaise and repression six years of the Bush administration have brought us, and think to Tuesday, when - hopefully - we can say once again, "These are the good times."

Your Song of the Day is from Chic:

Friedman Nails It

This is what it's all about, folks:
Bush and Cheney Think You're Stupid
By Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times


George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you're stupid. Yes, they do.

They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry -- a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service -- and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.

Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, "They must think I'm stupid." Because they surely do.

They think that they can get you to overlook all of the Bush team's real and deadly insults to the U.S. military over the past six years by hyping and exaggerating Mr. Kerry's mangled gibe at the president.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men -- to launch an invasion of a foreign country not by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, but by the Rumsfeld Doctrine of just enough troops to lose? What could be a bigger insult than that?

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment, so that some soldiers in the field were left to buy their own body armor and to retrofit their own jeeps with scrap metal so that roadside bombs in Iraq would only maim them for life and not kill them? And what could be more injurious and insulting than Don Rumsfeld's response to criticism that he sent our troops off in haste and unprepared: Hey, you go to war with the army you've got -- get over it.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there, so that the U.S. military has had to assume not only security responsibilities for all of Iraq but the political rebuilding as well? The Bush team has created a veritable library of military histories -- from "Cobra II" to "Fiasco" to "State of Denial" -- all of which contain the same damning conclusion offered by the very soldiers and officers who fought this war: This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and we've been making it up -- and paying the price -- ever since.

And what could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in Iraq than to send them off to war and then go out and finance the very people they're fighting against with our gluttonous consumption of oil? Sure, George Bush told us we're addicted to oil, but he has not done one single significant thing -- demanded higher mileage standards from Detroit, imposed a gasoline tax or even used the bully pulpit of the White House to drive conservation -- to end that addiction. So we continue to finance the U.S. military with our tax dollars, while we finance Iran, Syria, Wahhabi mosques and Al Qaeda madrassas with our energy purchases.

Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century -- to bring out the best in us. His "genius" is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country's health, prove him wrong this time.

Let Karl know that you're not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has -- through sheer incompetence -- brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq -- and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate -- it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.

It means we're as stupid as Karl thinks we are.

I, for one, don't think we're that stupid. Next Tuesday we'll see.
Be patriotic. Save our country. Vote Democratic.