Saturday, September 30, 2006

Gonzales threatens judges

Of course, the article says that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "cautions" judges, but it sure sounds like a threat coming from this administration. We're talking about the administration of wiretapping and torture, after all. One presumes that the new found powers that were bestowed upon it by a suck up, do nothing but harm Congress has emboldened members of the Administration to curtail the only branch of government that it does not completely own. My headline would have been "Gonzales tells judges to hail Caesar or fuck off 'cause I'll have your nuts in Gitmo so fucking fast you won't know how the Constitution hit you!" Hm, I need an editor...

Congressman resigns over inappropriate emails to a page

The NY Times has the story. From it, we get this passage:
The page who received the first e-mail messages told ABC News that people in the program had warned his class to watch out for Mr. Foley.
Oh really? So, then, this must have been known about for quite some time, but no one did anything about it? Later in the article we get this passage:
Representative John Shimkus, Republican of Illinois and chairman of the House Page Board, issued a statement late Friday saying he had known of the first e-mail messages “in late 2005.” Mr. Foley, Mr. Shimkus said, had said he was simply acting as a mentor, but Mr. Shimkus told him to cut off contact with the page and “be especially mindful of his conduct” with pages.
So, he knew in late 2005 and Shimkus was chairman of the House Page Board. Who else might have known? The Seattle Times article offers some illumination:

Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., who sponsored the page from his district, said he learned of the e-mail from a reporter 10 or 11 months ago and passed on the information to the teen's parents and to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Republican campaign organization.

Alexander said he did not pursue the matter because the teen's "parents said they didn't want me to do anything."

Um, it's a criminal matter at this point. Alexander should have reported it to the police because the page was 16 years old. Although the sensationalist and homophobic media are harping on the fact that this page is a male, it shouldn't matter. Would they be less horrified if it was a female? Probably, but the outrage would still be expressed. No reason to bring sexual orientation into this issue.

So, we have the leader of the pages and the chairman of the House Republican campaign organization knowing about these emails. And there are more emails to more pages, some of which are more explicit than the one originally discovered. Did they do a fact finding? Did they ask him to resign so someone else could run for his seat? Weeeeeeellll, no. But they did inform House Leader Dennis Hastert! From the Seattle Times again:

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., said the House Page Board he chairs investigated the allegations late last year, but he said Foley "was not honest" in denying improper conduct.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Friday he had asked Shimkus to investigate the page system. "We want to make sure that all our pages are safe and the page system is safe," Hastert said.

They took Foley at his word and then did a study of the page system. They did not investigate the perpetrator of the crime. Why not? Because A) he's one of their own and B) they are worried more about re-election than they are about the safety of the children that they hire. I mean, one would think that the first step during the preliminary investigation would be to remove Foley from his chairmanship of the exploited-children's caucus. That would have been reasonable. One might successfully argue that he could remain in other leadership positions while the investigation was taking place, but this one minor step seems to be obvious in the extreme.

The Republican leadership did not do that however. They are already beset with charges of lobbyist corruption, cowtowing to the President in an unpopular war, corruption involving over spending on projects that branches of the government do not even want, and more (strippers, limosine contracts, poker games, stealing elections, passing few bills, etc, etc, etc). The last thing they needed was another scandal involving sex and an underage page. What do I mean by "another"? Lest we forget, this same administration was the one that had a head of the child protection unit of Homeland Security busted for attempting to seduce a minor online.

Rather than own up to the scandal last year and deal with it, they took a gamble and tried to sweep it under the carpet until after this year's election. The whole thing has now blown up on them like a Catholic priest lawsuit investigation. Some Democrats are crowing over how this improves their election chances, but frankly, I find that just too crass. They should be spending their time looking at how this happened and how it can be prevented, if possible, in the future. Scoring political points undermines the seriousness of the charges.

From The Seattle Times again:
"We track library books better than we do sexual predators," Foley has said.
And we probably track sexual predators better when they are not members of Congress.

Another question: In this day and age, is there any valid reason for maintaining the page system in Congress?

Friday, September 29, 2006

It's a curious world

It's a curious world we live in (I've got Devo playing in my head, now). Sometimes 2 issues crop up on the national scene that converge around similar ideas. The mashing up of these concepts is ripe, yet one rarely sees anyone from the media dare to pick at it's tree. It's harvest time, here, however and I present to you exhibit one from today's Seattle Times report on the HP execs testifying before Congress regarding their company's unethical, if not illegal, investigations into it's own employees in the boardroom. It does need to be noted that this would not be an issue if they were investigating employees of such lower statures...Henry Ford used to do that all of the time as have many employers whether looking into the private lives of employees, their health habits, their drug usage - America is ripe with this type of intrusion, but the fact that it has come to digital data of boardroom members is really too much for capitalism to take. Hence, reactions from outraged members of Congress such as these:

"As I reviewed all of the documents for this hearing today, I felt like I was looking at a proposal for a made-for-TV movie," announced Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., at the start of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing into HP's use of "pretexting" to get phone records.

On the contrary, said Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., HP's wrongdoing "unfolded like the plot of a third-rate detective novel."

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., had a different take: "Calling the folks who did or allowed or participated in this Keystone Kops is an insult of the grossest sort to the original Keystone Kops."

Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., took Dingell's objection into account. "The evidence we've seen shows that this investigation is part 'Keystone Kops,' it's part 'Mission: Impossible,' and perhaps part of 'All the President's Men' all tied together," he proposed.

Perhaps, but it put Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., in mind of "Hogan's Heroes." "HP may be suffering from Sgt. Schultz syndrome," he diagnosed, referring to the rotund concentration-camp guard remembered for the refrain "I know no-thing!"

...Or, as Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, put it: "Pretexting is pretending to be somebody you're not to get something you probably shouldn't have to use in a way that's probably wrong."

..."Unacceptable," said Rep. Edward Whitfield, R-Ky.

"Horribly offensive," added Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

"Gross stupidity," submitted Dingell.

"Mr. Chair," observed Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, "we're all disturbed in our own unique way."

That last bit is a particularly good one to end on. Because it certainly is unique when people such as Misters Walden, Whitfield, Barton, and Stearns get on their high horse about a private company engaging in warrantless espionage, shifting through call records, and attempted email tracking when they do not do the same when it comes to their government operations. Keep in mind, I think both are wrong. However, the above named representatives all voted to allow - retroactively - just such activities by the U.S. government. Even former HP Board Chairwoman Patricia Dunn hinted at this fact:
"Based on my experience," Dunn suggested, "I hope that Congress will help companies like HP ... by establishing bright-line laws in this area."
What could she possibly mean by that? I mean, she didn't know that it would be unethical to obtain the phone records of fellow board members and top company brass? It wasn't clear to her that such actions might be illegal and, if not, unethical?!? Or perhaps she just wants Congress to provide her and others with the same powers that it has provided the U.S. government and it's contractors? Then again, maybe I'm too cynical and she needs Bush's ethics coach to come and give her a refresher course.

The Congressional representatives yesterday were grandstanding for the cameras. They did this because the business community is outraged that this sort of thing happened to Board members. As the outrage spread through the editorial pages and business blogs, Representatives felt moved to show that they could do something and that this behavior is not to be tolerated and that the American corporate landscape would not be rocked by yet another corporate scandal. The funny thing was that for all of the blustering and hot air that was released in that hearing room, the panel of Representatives had done something - 5 months earlier.
The lawmakers were united in wondering why a bill making pretexting illegal, which the committee passed unanimously five months ago, still hasn't been taken up by the full House.

"It isn't just a leadership failure at HP; there's been a leadership failure in the GOP," added Inslee, the other author. "HP leadership may look back up here to GOP leadership and say: How come you're not moving this bill?' "
Inslee's scoring political points and it's hard to say if the Democrats would have been more efficient, but he's right. The fact is that some members of this panel that were no expressing outrage at HP were unenable to get their do nothing leadership to bring their bipartisan supported bill to the floor. Would that have prevented HP's execs or the later scandal? Probably not, but we'll never know now and frankly, it shouldn't matter because they should have known better in the first place.

The representatives who voted in favor of the warrantless wiretaps should have known better as well. Still they saw fit to pass a bill that undermines the basic civil rights of all of us. Bypassing the measures that already existed, allowing for wiretaps to seek court warrants within 48 hours, they continue to erode the rights upon which this country was founded all in a cynical attempt to win an election at home. Faced with a botched war, a botched hurricane relief effort, and an eroding of America's esteem in the world of public opinion not seen since Vietnam and perhaps much more harmful, the Republicans from the do-nothing Congress grasped at stealing our civil liberties as a platform for re-election this year. None of the members on the committee yesterday saw the irony in their expressed outrage.

What to do? Perhaps HP's Dunn offered up the solution. Proving that the private sector in some cases can act faster that the public, she offered up this:

Dunn noted she was advised by "batteries of experts" that the methods used to obtain the telephone records were legal, prompting Walden to retort that those experts were now looking for work.

"I'm one of them," Dunn said to laughter in the room.

In the public sector we have to wait for elections. I put it to you that Representatives who voted for warrantless wiretaps, repeals of habeas corpus, and torture should receive the same treatment that Dunn got from her boardroom. It's over a month away, but government can still catch up to the private sector and begin to make this right - hopefully.

Lloyd Cole

Update: Link to the streaming site fixed.

Lloyd Cole's new album, Antidepressant, is out now in Europe. It's a dandy! One of his best, in fact. Folks in North America can give it a listen as his record label here is streaming it. It will be released in North America on October 10th with a brief tour to follow. Buy a disc from Lloyd while he's on tour - he'll get more money that way.

For those who cannot wait to get a hard copy, Bleep is offering a legal mp3 download for a mere $10. The mp3 files are at 320kbps, so they are very high quality and very large files and they contain no DRM.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


In the Seattle Times today, it says that the U.S. is spending $8 billion in Iraq per month. For Iraq and Afghanistan combined, the costs are $110 billion for the fiscal year ending October 1st. For $80 billion, you could buy each American without health care a $2,000 policy for 1 year. Just a thought...

A report from the World Economic Forum has the U.S. economy slipping into 6th place from 1st in it's global ranking of economic competitiveness. Reasons? Budget deficits including no end in sight for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and crumbling faith in it's corporate and government institutions.

Read about a person who was detained by airport security for scribbling on his transparent liquid bag that he the head of the TSA, Kip Hawley, "is an Idiot." None of the guards saw the irony in their actions.

Something rather, um, fitting: George W. Bush butt plug.

Unfortunately filed under a page titled "Breaking News", comes this report of a musical condom being created in the Ukraine. First person to get it to play the William Tell Overture during a recreation of a scene in "A Clockwork Orange" is to win a big, big prize.

Ho, hum, another day another report of a laptop with employee data on it stolen. This one from a GE employee with information on 50,000 employees. When will corporations learn? When they are sued - that's when.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Remember those cluster bombs that Israel dropped and the U.S. government pretended to be not aware of? Well, according to the UN, three times as many of them have not detonated as originally thought, so the delay of families returning to their homes could be 2 years longer than expected. How many more innocent limbs/lives will be lost in the aftermath is anyone's guess. We're at 14 and counting...

Old people are costing more than expected in the U.K. because they don't have the decency to die at the predicted age. Seriously: at least the U.K. is having an open discussion on this issue. In the U.S. our leaders are dancing around it and promoting 401k plans.

Discredited Iran Contra information peddlers make a return visit to the White House to peddle more disinformation about Iran.

Anglers in the UK get tested for drugs, proving the competitive fishing is a real sport.

Olbermann, again

Yea, yea, I jump on the Keith Olbermann bandwagon often, but the man is on a tear lately and he deserves recognition and commendation for his words. The latest video (Quicktime file) with partial transcript below:

...Mr. Clinton responded as you have seen.

He told the great truth un-told… about this administration’s negligence, perhaps criminal negligence, about Bin Laden.

He was brave.

Then again, Chris Wallace might be braver still. Had I — in one moment surrendered all my credibility as a journalist — and been irredeemably humiliated, as was he, I would have gone home and started a new career selling seeds by mail.

The smearing by proxy, of course, did not begin Friday afternoon.

Disney was first to sell-out its corporate reputation, with "The Path to 9/11."

Of that company’s crimes against truth one needs to say little. Simply put: someone there enabled an Authoritarian zealot to belch out Mr. Bush’s new and improved history.

The basic plot-line was this: because he was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11.

The most curious and in some ways the most infuriating aspect of this slapdash theory, is that the Right Wingers who have advocated it — who try to sneak it into our collective consciousness through entertainment, or who sandbag Mr. Clinton with it at news interviews — have simply skipped past its most glaring flaw.

Had it been true that Clinton had been distracted from the hunt for Bin Laden in 1998 because of the Lewinsky nonsense — why did these same people not applaud him for having bombed Bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and Sudan on August 20th of that year? For mentioning Bin Laden by name as he did so?

That day, Republican Senator Grams of Minnesota invoked the movie "Wag The Dog."

Republican Senator Coats of Indiana questioned Mr. Clinton’s judgment.

Republican Senator Ashcroft of Missouri — the future Attorney General — echoed Coats.

Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter questioned the timing.

And of course, were it true Clinton had been "distracted" by the Lewinsky witch-hunt — who on earth conducted the Lewinsky witch-hunt? Who turned the political discourse of this nation on its head for two years?

Who corrupted the political media?

Who made it impossible for us to even bring back on the air, the counter-terrorism analysts like Dr. Richard Haass, and James Dunegan, who had warned, at this very hour, on this very network, in early 1998, of cells from the Middle East who sought to attack us, here?

Who preempted them… in order to strangle us with the trivia that was… "All Monica All The Time"?

Who… distracted whom?

This is, of course, where — as is inevitable — Mr. Bush and his henchmen prove not quite as smart as they think they are.

The full responsibility for 9/11 is obviously shared by three administrations, possibly four.

But, Mr. Bush, if you are now trying to convince us by proxy that it’s all about the distractions of 1998 and 1999, then you will have to face a startling fact that your minions may have hidden from you.

The distractions of 1998 and 1999, Mr. Bush, were carefully manufactured, and lovingly executed, not by Bill Clinton… but by the same people who got you… elected President.

Thus instead of some commendable acknowledgment that you were even in office on 9/11 and the lost months before it… we have your sleazy and sloppy rewriting of history, designed by somebody who evidently redd the Orwell playbook too quickly.

Thus instead of some explanation for the inertia of your first eight months in office, we are told that you have kept us "safe" ever since — a statement that might range anywhere from Zero, to One Hundred Percent, true.

We have nothing but your word, and your word has long since ceased to mean anything.

And, of course, the one time you have ever given us specifics about what you have kept us safe from, Mr. Bush — you got the name of the supposedly targeted Tower in Los Angeles… wrong.

Thus was it left for the previous President to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be the textbook definition… Sir, of cowardice.

To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past.

That was one of the great mechanical realities Eric Blair — writing as George Orwell — gave us in the novel "1984."

The great philosophical reality he gave us, Mr. Bush, may sound as familiar to you, as it has lately begun to sound familiar to me.

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power…

"Power is not a means; it is an end.

"One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

"The object of persecution, is persecution. The object of torture, is torture. The object of power… is power."

Earlier last Friday afternoon, before the Fox ambush, speaking in the far different context of the closing session of his remarkable Global Initiative, Mr. Clinton quoted Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union address from 1862.

"We must disenthrall ourselves."

Mr. Clinton did not quote the rest of Mr. Lincoln’s sentence. He might well have.

"We must disenthrall ourselves — and then… we shall save our country."

And so has Mr. Clinton helped us to disenthrall ourselves, and perhaps enabled us, even at this late and bleak date… to save… our… country.

The "free pass" has been withdrawn, Mr. Bush…

You did not act to prevent 9/11.

We do not know what you have done, to prevent another 9/11.

You have failed us — then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.

You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.

And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.

And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture — which doesn’t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate.And there it is, sir:

Are yours the actions of a true American?

Via Crooks and Liars.

Monday, September 25, 2006


The British Music Industry wants tax breaks to develop new artists. They claim it's research and development and that they need it as much as technology companies. Extreme hubris.

War Profiteering in Iraq

Go see Little Miss Sunshine. We saw it yesterday and laughed from beginning to end. The beauty contest scenes at the end are funny in a very uncomfortable way. It's not the best black comedy that I've ever seen, but it was certainly worth the time and money. The characters are well drawn and well acted. The script has it's holes, but it stays on focus and doesn't play the audience for stupid.


Fresh from a deal with the White House that allows him to turn a blind eye to the U.S. committing torture while claiming that he prevented such a thing, John McCain said the following in this article in the NY Times regarding an intelligence report which states that the Iraq war has led to an increase in terrorist recruitments and organizing against the U.S. (read: made us less safe):
"I think it’s obvious that the difficulties we’ve experienced in Iraq have certainly emboldened," terrorist groups, "but I would also argue that these people didn’t need any motivation to attack us on Sept. 11."
How disingenuous of you, Senator. What do you suppose were the reasons that motivated the attacks on September 11th? How did the Iraq war aid in our prosecuting the individuals or organizations behind that attack? By mentioning September 11th and Iraq in the same sentence, aren't you furthering the conflagration of the two despite repeated proof that they had nothing to do with each other? Isn't the administration supposed to be making us safer from terrorism? Since Iraq was not involved with September 11th in the first place and had nothing to do with that attack, doesn't the finding that our war in that country causes more terrorist recruits to emerge become a damnation of that action and shouldn't it require us to rethink our policy? What is the exit strategy anyhow?

You've become a fucking water boy for a failed, dishonest, and incompetent administration and by doing so you've eroded that ample support you had amongst people in both parties who thought that you had a great deal of integrity. If you choose to run for the presidency, expect these sorts of comments to be played over and over again. You've made the mistake of believing that this administration will see us clear of this war and it will not. Things will continue to get worse and as they do, your party and yourself will continue to dig a deeper hole.

Speaking of a deeper hole, Senator, what do you think of this article in the same paper which details the problems that the military is having with both recruitment and equipment? Has the Iraq war, which has nothing to do with September 11th, depleted our resources and made us less prepared to defend ourselves and our allies in case of an attack? Can we respond properly to an affront to one of our many obligations in the world?

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Look who Joe Lieberman has hired for his campaign. I'm not so surprised by the fact that he's a Republican as I am by his propensity for torture.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Bill Maher's take on the recent Willie Nelson arrest for pot possession: don't the cops have something better to do? Of course, what happened to Willie is pittance compared to watching your under teenaged siblings being handcuffed and your dog killed for selling $60 of marijuana. Oh, go read that gets much worse...when police act like SWAT teams chasing terrorists at the Olympics.

Angry drunken driver runs over himself.

Police are investigating a foot fetishist in Charlotte, South Carolina for approaching an 80 year old woman in a Wal-Mart. Fear not, brave citizens, Captain Heath Dykes is on the case.

$185 million. That's how much was spent to restore the Superdome in New Orleans and to bring overpriced football to it's citizens. Well, the ones that are left...the ones who have homes and can live in them...even if the schools and hospitals are still dare ingrates question civic priorities!

Cablevision awarded stock grants to a dead man.

British Ministry accused of low-balling casualty figures in Afghanistan. Sounds like they've taken a page from the U.S. Iraq play book where we no longer count casualties of civilians unless they've been killed by roadside bombs.

Iraq's people now experiencing more terror than under Saddam, according to a report. A high ranking former CIA official, with 15 years experience in the agency's political Islam unit, answers questions from Harper's about what went wrong in Iraq and what needs to be done. Quick answers: no planning for the aftermath of the war and we need to plan an exit strategy. American soldiers are getting lessons in what not to do in Iraqi culture and, guess what? The lectures include pictures of former leader Paul Bremmer and Donald Rumsfeld making what Iraqis consider rude gestures. Sure, the lecturer plays it off and the troops laugh, but Rummy and Bremmer are allegedly Middle East experts...surely they knew what they were doing.

U.S. threatened to bomb Pakistan "back into the Stone Age" says dictator/Bush ally Musharref.

Turkish novelist, Elif Shafak, was acquitted of the crime of "insulting Turkishness" this week.

Read about Republican Bob Ney's guilty plea. Remember, this is the guy who swore he did nothing wrong on the House floor and who fought his own leadership when they told him that he had to resign.

Political Rant

You've been warned. From an email I sent to a friend recentlym hence the casual tone:

Wonkette had a good rant today while discussing a political ad being aired in Maryland on behalf of a black Republican candidate. My favorite part is in bold:

So let’s get this straight. Leggett thinks it’s despicable that his fellow black voters find out MLK was a Republican, and the Democrats’ concern for blacks and civil rights is a pretty new situation brought on by Nixon’s southern strategy of just 35 years ago? How does it make you stupid to hear some basic political history in a political ad?

The Maryland Dems say it’s not fair because the parties have since “switched sides.” And that’s true in some ways. Republicans are now the big-spending bank-busting Constitution-raping nannies, while the Democrats hope they’ll get to be the big-spending bank-busting Constitution-raping nannies again come November.

And remember, this is the same Maryland black (and white!) Democratic leadership that pelted Steele with Oreos and repeatedly called him a “Uncle Tom.” Because … right, because political affiliation is racial in nature. You know, whites are racially bound to eat mayonnaise and vote Republican, while blacks are racially bound to play the banjo and vote Democrat. It’s like some kind of heaven for George Allen!

It's so true. You know, I wish I could believe in conspiracy theories. Some of them I find appealing (like reports of voter fraud), but most of them just go too far for me. How to explain the current government? Easy - they are greedy, incompetent bastards whose two goals are to impose hypocritical religious beliefs and bankroll the entire government on the backs of the middle class and poor. The rich shall never pay in their new Christian world. The key part of this equation, though, is incompetent. Even Reagan was smart enough not to fire experts just because they were partial to Democrats. Not this oaf and his frat club.

To make matters worse, most of the Democrats are nearly as inept. In fact, I have a theory that government works in spite of the actions of our leaders, for the most part. The people that tend to want leadership positions in government are generally marginally competent individuals who often use politics to make gains that they couldn't possibly manage to get in real life. That's not to say they are idiots, but they certainly aren't the best and brightest. The sad truth is that both parties are riddled with these nut cases. Rarely do we see someone of the Clinton, Kennedy, Roosevelt (either one), Lincoln, Jefferson, or Adams (the first) caliber come to public office, let alone President, and stay there.

This only stands to reason. To get really good at something, you have to spend a lot of time working at it. You learn from your mistakes, adapt, and overcome crisis. What are politicians really good at? Getting re-elected and raising money. We send people whose sole expertise is really that and then we expect them to pass bills governing education, medical care, operating a military, etc. Oh, to be sure, they have their experts to help them, but all too often the experts are lobbyists with something to gain from how an issue is handled. It's an inbred culture that passes a lot of genetically defective laws.

The real and mildly impartial experts in government - the ones who actually make it run despite the shenanigans of our legislatures, are the ones who spend years studying each issue. Scientists, government policy wonks, Generals, etc. And yet, more often than not, these people get no recognition and less pay than the media seeking money launders that "run" the shop.

And all too often this also happens in the private sector. Not all of those overly paid CEOs can be gifted enough to steer a company to outrageous profits. Nope, most of them got there using a different version of the charades used in politics. Sure, our system is freer and more sophisticated than say France under Louis XIV, but it is no better than those years when it comes to the facade the culture is built upon. We've come a long way - we got a long way to go.

Book Meme

Gosh, I meant to do this a while ago. Back in August, Scott posted a meme and tagged anyone who read it. I was going to post then, but forgot during the shuffle of life. This morning I was reading some of the blogs that Scott links to and Iccadilly had a post reminding me of the meme. It's simple:
  1. Grab the nearest book
  2. Open the book to page 123
  3. Find the fifth sentence
  4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences along with these instructions
As Scott points out, don't go digging for a "cool" or "hip" book. That's not what the meme is about. Just grab the nearest one, even if it's technical, and let her rip. If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged.

Here's my "contribution":
He dodged into Windmill Hill, though it was a long time since there'd been a discernible hill, or a windmill, there. He then forced himself to walk straight west, without looking back, for a hundred paces. That brought him clear of Hockley, and into the center of the largest open place in this part of town, where Leather Lane, Liquorpond Street, and several other ways came together in a crazed, nameless interchange half the size of Charing Cross.
The passage is from Neal Stephenson's The System of the World. When I was tagged, I was probably reading The Confusion, the second book in this "Baroque Cycle". Thus far, I liked the second book the best. This third one tends to steer towards a great deal more narration describing the scenes in which the discussion/thought/action takes place. While I like Stephenson's narrative, this gets a bit tedious at times. Or perhaps I'm just tiring after reading the previous 1,900 or so pages.

In any case, I'm making my way through this trilogy in relatively quick succession. This third novel has the promise of much action picking up shortly. There's a great deal of intrigue that I'm interested in seeing how Stephenson resolves. I had hoped to spend a great deal of time focusing on reading this week while the co-signer was on holiday in Oregon. However, life has provided a twist for my Love and she will not take the whole week off as planned.

Her uncle has taken quite ill. He is in hospital after suffering a hemorrhage near the base of the brain stem. So far the prognosis is hopeful. We're still waiting on a report on the damage he has suffered. In the meantime, my Love's mother has been with him and the family, co-ordinating arrangements that need to be made. This has interfered with my Love's plans for holiday since she originally had meant to spend it with her mom.

My Love's sacrifice in this matter is a small one. We hope for a speedy recovery for her uncle. I also hope that the scars of this trauma on the family psyche are quick in healing as well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


The head of the UN is now warning of increasing civil war in Iraq. He wants other nations to come in and save the U.S.'s ass Iraqi's from failed U.S. policy. Even if you believe that the policy was a sound one, you have got to think by now that it was implemented poorly and ran by incompetents who were political cronies whose only qualifications were that they were Republican loyalists. Indeed, some of this gaming goes on under all White House governments, however the purge amongst the Bushtistas has been profound. Reagan, Clinton, Bush Sr., Carter, even Nixon let members of the opposing party maintain high level positions if they were highly qualified for that position. The Bushtistas on the other hand have created an affirmative action program for wealthy contributors that pits loyalty over quality. This shouldn't come as a surprise since they oppose the Estate tax which only benefits less than .2% of families and which taxes the unearned wealth of rich children.

Love this headline from The Independent: First drugs, then terror: now U.S. in 'war with spinach'. It's a funny take in the current food crisis, but some people have seriously suggested that the bacteria were planted by terrorists and the government has had to spend resources debunking this myth. It also reminds us of the so-called drug war and today Congress is set to take up some of the craziest bills proposed yet in that war. Amongst the offerings? Warrentless searches, including strip searches of students. No evidence necessary! Also in the front of that war, the government has begun posting their worthless, $1.2 billion of anti-drug PSAs on YouTube. Commence the remixes, folks.

Bush is blocking the campaign to put pressure on Darfur. As manager of the U.S. efforts, Bush has nominated the man who, as the head of U.S. AID, promised that the rebuilding of Iraq would cost no more than $1.7 billion. We're at $20 billion and counting. He's also the guy who ran the crumbling 'Big Dig' project in Boston. How much did he give to the Republican Party?

Spare America Radio

Yesterday morning, I turned on the XM satellite radio and tuned to Air America. (FWIW, my local Air America affiliate cannot be heard at my house, otherwise I'd support them). What I heard was music to my ears. Gone was the awful Springer on the Radio program which was, and this is difficult to believe, more painful than watching him on Dancing With The Stars. Instead, Air America had put Sam Seder on in that slot in his new program, The Sam Seder Show. It was as if Christmas had come early in the form of a big radio present.

Naturally, I went to Air America's website to check and see if other schedule changes were coming. I knew that the management at the network was too impotent to force any changes to the Al Franken Show, but what other possibilities might lay in waiting for the day? Sadly, I wasn't to be informed as the Air America website, as of yesterday around 8 AM - Pacific time - had not been updated even though the new schedule was in place. Indeed, there was no acknowledgment of schedule changes on the site at all. They even still had links to shows that have been canceled weeks or months ago.

Ugh. Apparently they did get around to updating their site. The schedule page has been updated and corrected to include the new time slots and new shows. However, it's a day late! Do these folks know anything about promotion?!!? How do they seriously expect to sell "premium content" (basically, podcasts of former shows) to the public if they cannot sell their current shows on their website properly? Jesus, my old college station was run better...

To add insult to injury, WFMU's Beware of the Blog reports today that, even though Air America fired Mike Malloy 3 weeks ago, they haven't deleted his password. Malloy posted this blog entry on Air America's website yesterday - read it and giggle:

Hi. Malloy here. It’s Monday, September 18, 2006. Well, it’s been almost three weeks since we were fired by the really, really strange pod-people who have temporarily taken over Air America. Tonight’s program will be hosted by my good friend Peter Werbe. Not sure what he’s talking about tonight, but do tune in. If you’re wondering how we’re writing and posting this mini-blog it’s simply because the airheads in Air America’s executive suites – the pod-people mentioned above – are too, um, stupid to figure out how to handle their own website access. The door’s wide open. So we dashed in just for the hell of it to post this “howdy, how is everyone?”

Frankly, we think the suits are too stupid to stop us so we’ll probably do this every day and also post a longer blog inside the site where we used to. Until they figure out what we’re doing and stop our fun. Bastards. Just mean ol’ right-wing bastard pod-people running our Air America. Well, eventually their bodies will start to react to Earth atmosphere and they’ll have to leave. Meantime, Mike and Kathy here saying, stay tuned!

To rub it in further, Kathy, Malloy's partner in crime, added her own blog posting this morning:
BOO! Just making sure you're awake.
Succinct and not as stinging, but still getting the point across. On his own website, Malloy continues:
Strange things can happen when certain corporate entities fire much of their website editing department without first making sure at least one remaining employee knew how to operate the darned thing. I'm just sayin' . . . . .
Further, Malloy promises to reveal the truth behind Air America and his firing once the financial and legal arrangements have been concluded. Good. I look forward to the report and to hearing what the idiots who run that corporation are doing. They've really screwed their schedule, been clueless about talk radio much of the time, messed with their audience, cannot properly promote themselves, screwed their hosts over, and just generally seem nearly as incompetent as George W. Bush. I know, I know, but they're our incompetent idiots. How tired is that refrain? Progressives deserve better.

When I was attended college, I remember when it came to light that our school's faculty parking lot was accessible to people who knew the codes used on the keypad entry that opened the gates. I was a moderately intelligent student and I assumed that the codes to get in would be at least 5 digits and of random numbers. However, friends pointed out that I had overestimated the security arrangements. The security department would have implemented such a plan as I mentioned, but it was balked at by professors who claimed that to memorize more than 4 digits would be an onerous exercise that their feeble or distracted minds could not possibly entertain. Hence, 4 digit codes were released. Some examples: "1234", "1379", ""2468", and many more. All sorts of obvious keypad patterns were used to make it easier for professors to get into their parking lot. The system worked for the most part because most people did not think to try to get into the lot. However, I ran with a different crowd and we thwarted and thumbed our noses at the "security". Eventually, professors complained at seeing long haired, pot smoking students parking in their lot and then they had to deal with longer, more difficult to remember codes, which they also hated.

Readers might be amused of this tale of college students plotting in a childish way to break into a school lot, just to have a shorter trek to their classrooms. To my mind, it is mildly amusing and a fond memory. But that was college and security in those days was generally a lot dumber than it is today. Website security, though often ignored, is highlighted constantly in the news and should be a top priority for any organization (along with data security, which corporations are just now learning). Such a simple thing as changing the passwords for fired employees is in the website security for dummies manual. It's college stuff which, if ignored, leads to sophomoric pranks (as it should).

Air America, by ignoring these simple things, by it's failure to understand promotion on the web, by demonstrating it's lack of understanding of good talk radio shows, demonstrates how they are more collegiate than professional. I do not blame the hosts of the shows. There are many good shows on the network that are worthy of giving a listen. But those shows are peppered with other less worthy shows which reveals a lack of understanding and vision within Air America's management. That's where problems in radio lie - in their management. The network would do well to throw out the current freshman class and bring in some seasoned professionals at the top positions. Progressives need to let them know that they demand better and not let the network get away with the "but they're our idiots" attitude.

Friday, September 15, 2006


The Nortec Collective was great last night. The evening began with a set by Latinsizer (one member of the collective). It was not an auspicious beginning. His simple, melodic groovin was fine for a crowd that thinks that Daft Punk is the height of originality and cutting edge, but I'm too seasoned to fall into that camp (double entendre).

Next up was Panoptica, another member of the Collective. His set was a little better. It was more upbeat and prone to a slightly harsher, more techno sound. Still what disappointed me in both of these sets was the lack of a "Latin" sound. Neither set would have been out of place at a hip club in New York, Paris, London, Berlin, or Tokyo. And the guys were good - just not that good.

Plankton Man stepped to the table and played a set that was a big improvement on the previous two. The focus was on a harder dance edge and I appreciated hearing distorted vocals and more modulation of the treble sounds.

Fax came forward and it soon became clear that the group had decided to build the tempo and excitement throughout the night. In fact, I quite liked Fax. His noodling with ambient tones over top of dance rhythms in the beginning then going for a full on dance sound and hinting that the tones would return, which they did, in the end was very nice. It was a well rounded set and one I would like to see again.

Finally, the Nortec Collective came forth. Now, if there was one bitch about their set it would have to be that the previous ones lasted too long and that made for a shorter Nortec Collective set. The sum was definitely greater than it's parts. The band rocked and hard. They mixed in references to their Latino roots along with tributes to Kraftwerk, space themes, and other artists. The visuals were totally cool and the DJs looked to be having a really good time. The crowd was excited and did not want it to end. The best was saved for last, I just wish that there was more room so I could get a larger sample.

OK, I'm completely knackered. We got in around 2:30 and I got up with the co-signer to make her tea and see her off to work at 6. I'm heading into work shortly. To entertain yourselves, try this blog dedicated to German cover tunes. Selections range from Dusty Springfield to rap music.

By now, if you've read this far, you're probably wondering what the picture on top is all about. Well, I was reading a post on Messiahbomb's blog today about his wife complaining about him cooking vegan meals. Then I came across this site from which the above picture is taken. Call it synchronicity.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Nortec Collective

Nortec Collective is playing tomorrow night at Neumo's as part of the Decibel Festival. It should be a terrific show. Tickets are only $10 and it includes a great line up. Got mine.

On a more somber note, Justin Timberlake has what appears to be a huge hit of an album on his hands. I've just listened to most of it. Timberlake has got some really good production that recalls his love of soul, R&B, and 80s funk. However, for my tastes, he just doesn't have the chops, vocally. His voice is more of a ballad/crooner and it just doesn't mesh well with the sound he has created (except on the softer moments). It doesn't quite work for me, but I predict it will be a monster in sales.

oil economy

Perhaps I'm just too cynical for my own good. Perhaps this is just coincidence. But consider the following:

The U.S. economy is in a weakened state. Oil companies announce huge, record profits. Gasoline goes up tremendously and then stays that way for a year. Then the oil companies announce larger profits and gasoline goes up a little further. The Oil Party, in control of government, realizes that it's in serious trouble in the upcoming elections. It can do nothing about it's failed foreign policies, so it puts out missives to it's shareholders asking for any sort of assistance. It's biggest leaders, the oil companies, step in in an attempt to bolster it's lawmaker's chances at re-election.

Political theater follows. Members of Congress, eager to demonstrate that they are working for the public and are not beholden to the interests of oil companies hold hearings when gasoline prices spike. Nothing happens as a result, but the first act is hoped to be a resounding success.

Hearing nothing back from constituents, the Congress reports back to it's owners this fact and the owners announce new, rich earnings and prices at the pump remain steady.
Next, one company who runs a portion of an Alaskan pipeline announces that it might have to close the entire line. Prices spike. Consumers and corporations, already feeling the drag on the economy via the higher energy costs finally protest that this is too much. A few days later, the pipeline company announces that only half of the field need be closed. More rumbling in Congress as another toothless committee grills oil executives who plead the fifth. Nothing else is done. End Act 2.

Act three begins with discussion of oil prices falling. The pipeline company announces that work has continued faster than anticipated. "Analysts" (really, paid shills for investors and oil companies) foresee continuing falling prices. The Oil Party waits, hoping that this boost from it's shareholders is just what it needs to maintain some dignity after the upcoming elections and, perhaps, hold on to one or both houses of Congress. However, the Oil Party is still nervous for the oil companies, rich as they are from the recent profits, are playing from both sides of the deck and enriching the opposition, Crude Party - just in case the Oil Party falters and we end up with a Crude-Oil split. All the better to have influence on both sides as an insurance policy.


It's a nice word being used in the HP case. The media usually refers to it as "identity theft". However, as often is the case, when dealing with the upper classes and especially when dealing with the large corporate world, one shouldn't be so crass to use such a gauche. proletariat term. Such individuals, no doubt more hip and better than you and I, require the Business 2.0 version of the term and hence, "pretexting.

A friend writes to me today:
what do you think of this 'pretexting' thing? I don't see what the problem is
Below is my reply. Keep in mind, this is an off the top of my head, casual reply written in email. As it seemed to sum up my thoughts on the issue and as I seem to be too lazy today to write up a more proper article, I publish it via copy and paste.
I think it's unethical. However, the real "outrage" being expressed here is that someone had the unmitigated gall to do this to another wealthy person. This type of thing is done all of the time, and talked openly about in crime books and on Oprah. No one thinks twice when it's done to discover a cheating spouse, a long lost family member, a dead beat dad, etc. When it happens to someone in the boardroom, though, off with their heads! Fuck that.

The real issue, to my mind, is that companies have been breaking privacy law for years and technology has finally caught up to bite them in the ass. Yet no one points out in the media, for it would be corporately incorrect to do so, that SSN's, which were used in this pretexting example, are by law specifically not to be used as an identification number in any way by any agency - government or private - outside of the Social Security Administration. No one points out that by ignoring this law for decades, we have a de facto national identification number that is published and sold time and again in multiple places and that it is insecure as all hell. No one points out how this affects average people - not just criminals or wealthy people caught in violation of Boardroom agreements - by exposing them to potential greater damage via identity theft (which is what "pretexting really is - only on a limited scale in the HP example), stalkers, etc. No one dares discuss the real privacy implications of these actions and instead spends a great deal of print ink and electrons discussing the ethics of using such data in that way. Hey, wake up call, folks! If the data is so easily available, then what makes you think that people aren't going to use it?!!?

Finally, no one discussed the blame that should be placed on the telephone company whose security is so porous that someone could so easily pull off such a scam. Why is it so porous? Because like millions of other companies, they use the freakin' social security number as a sole identification number for an individual. In addition to potential prosecutions, someone should sue. But that won't happen because A) it would expose entire networks between and within millions of U.S. companies to similar potential suits and B) the ability to sue is on such grounds is not written into the law and therefore, not available to anyone.

Digital privacy has been an interest of mine, particularly over the last 3 years. I've read some law books on the topic and basically, we have fewer rights than even Europe when it comes to this issue. American business interests argue that such openness greases the economic wheels that make us more competitive. There's a good argument to be made that that position is bullshit. However, business suddenly gets upset when such "openness" hits the boardroom? Puleeze. I can't get worked up about this insider crap unless we widen the topic to include the larger issue and all of those who are affected.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


William Gibson in the NY Times:

ANOTHER attempt on the scale of the 2001 attacks hasn’t been necessary. The last one is still doing the trick, and the terrorists’ resources are limited. The fear induced by terrorism mirrors the irrational psychology that makes state lotteries an utterly reliable form of stupidity tax. A huge statistical asymmetry serves as fulcrum for a spectral yet powerful lever: apprehension of the next jackpot. We’re terrorized not by the actual explosion, which statistically we’re almost never present for, but by our apprehension of the next one.

The terrorist tactic that matters most is the next one used, one we haven’t seen yet. In order to know it, we must know the terrorists. Without a national security policy that concentrates on the vigorous and politically agnostic maximization of intelligence rather than, in the phrase of the security expert Bruce Schneier, “security theater,” that may well prove impossible.


And, not as succinct, but certainly more personal, Keith Olbermann kicks ass again.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Keystone Kops and their Inquisitors

Terrorism prosecution by the numbers. Snip:
For the total set of completions, federal prosecutors decided that nearly two out of three (64%) of them were not worth prosecuting. In addition, for 9% more of the completions, a prosecution was filed but the cases were subsequently dismissed or the individuals found not guilty. Looked at from another perspective, slightly more than one out of four of the total (27%) were convicted. Considered together, this means that five years after 9/11, looking at the 6,472 individuals in the overall count who were initially referred under the terrorist or anti-terrorist programs, only about one in five have been convicted.

...Despite the low success rate in obtaining convictions, the large absolute number of referrals coming from the agencies (nearly 6,500 of them) has resulted in a sizable number of convictions (1,329). For this group it is instructive to consider the penalties that were imposed:
  • Only 14 (one percent) received a substantial sentence -- 20 years or more.
  • Only 67 (5 percent) received sentences of five or more years.
  • Of the 1,329 who were sentenced, 704 received no prison time and an additional 327 received sentences ranging from one day to less than a year.
Thus, the median or typical prison sentence for them all was zero because the majority received no time at all in prison.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


It's Sunday, so it must be time for Talking Bible Dolls. Plush Jesus - there's a fetish waiting to happen. Speaking of fetishes, how about blasphemous nun fetish photos! For the more serious amongst you, Foreign Affairs has a report on the growing influence on evangelicals in U.S. foreign policy.

A UK charity warns of famine in Afghanistan. Eradicating poppy fields will destroy one method of feeding the masses, yet it does seem to be an area that the Taliban and NATO can agree upon. A British officer quits due to opposition towards the "mad war" they are fighting in Afghanistan.

The "war on terror" - and by terrorists - has directly killed a minimum of 62,006 people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth. It gets more horrifying than the first line.

Leaked emails note CIA approved covert operations in Somalia.

Some insight into the War in Iraq, provided by a Brig. General who helped plan that war and the one in Afghanistan. The big news here is that Rumsfeld said he would fire anyone who planned for a post-war Iraq. Oh, and Bin Laden? The trail to him is "stone cold". No wonder...according to the article the U.S. pulled out it's special ops and CIA teams to prepare for Iraq.

Friday, September 08, 2006


As in things that make you go, hmmmm...above picture and many more entertainments at the hilarious, shocking, and creepy advertisements page.

I really wasn't going to post anything today. I've been busy working, for the most part. When I haven't been working, I've been reading Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. After finishing Quicksilver, I raced through The Confusion and have just started The System of the World. Very good writing and storytelling about which I'll write further when I'm through. But the above picture just amused me too much, so I put the books aside for a moment and posted a link and an update.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Laborious Day

WFMU's Beware of the Blog features some Labor Day mp3s for your collection. I especially like the Amway Singers - Recruit, Train, and Motivate.

The Stranger has an article discussing free form radio that mentions WFMU. They also mention Bellevue's community station, KBCS which I listen to on occasion. In fact, I've been listening to their live feed all morning now and they've been playing the BBC news which has featured 2 long reports and discussions: one on the problems facing Britain in continuing down George Bush's middle east policy and another on global warming. It makes me long for such cogent discussions in our own media. However, it's nice to know that I can import such discussions.

I suppose that I should note that I agree with much of the article mentioned above. I listen to WFMU on a regular basis and have contributed during fund raising time. Quality radio programming of the highest order. KEXP in Seattle is a fine station, a formatted station, and one of the better commercial stations in the country. Many will disagree with my assessment of KEXP as "commercial" but given their funding and their programming methods, I think a good argument can be made that they've long ago turned their back on their public radio aspirations. WDET in Detroit is an excellent example of a Public Radio station that still remembers how to fulfill their mandate while not giving over completely to the commercial pressures that KEXP has done.

An economist argues that world leaders need to adapt to global warming rather than focusing solely on mitigating it. There's some merit in this position. To my mind they are not mutually exclusive goals. According to current models, global warming is taking place and will likely continue for at least half a century even if we were to halt our contributions to it today.

"America's aggression is fueling extremism", according to Iran's ex-president.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Double Top Secret

The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition reports how the Bush administration has routinely refused attempts by members of Congressional oversight committees to, um, provide oversight (read: "review") certain illegal black operations conducted by the NSA. The excuse for this is that the representatives do not have security clearance, but since the President assigns security clearance, it is he who is barring oversight. Anything the president doesn't want reviewed, he declares it "National Security" and assigns it a clearance level out of reach of Congress. Clip:
Of course, clearances, like classified information, are exclusively controlled by the President. So if he does not want oversight of anything he has made secret he simply refuses Congress clearance to see the material. This is the modern version of Royal Prerogative that was argued by Parliament against Charles I in 17th century England and was finally, so we thought, put to rest in the United States by the Constitution. "National security" has converted the presidency into a limited monarchy with the power to deny the people, through their elected representatives, accountability for executive actions.


More by Banksy.

Afghanistan is becoming bloodier.

According to a former U.K. ambassador, the U.S. and the U.K. backed a horrendous, blood thirsty dictator in Uzbekistan and looked the other way while he boiled people in order to fight the war on terror.

Tony Blair is in trouble. When your cabinet ministers call you "deluded" and "self indulgent" your days are numbered. It's about time the Labor Party saw the light. *Sigh* If only the U.S. could change government so easily.

TPMMuckraker reports that the F.B.I. raids in representative's offices in Alaska may uncover some dirt of Ted "Tubesteak" Stevens. Apparently he's been funneling money to his son (whose office was among the ones raided) for a number of years. The AP reports that Ben Stevens and friends also had shirts and hats made with the following sayings: "Corrupt Bastards Club" and "Corrupt Bastards Caucus". We need to see those!

More such images here.

Friday, September 01, 2006


TPMmuckraker outs Senator Robert Byrd as the other person who, along with Ted Stevens, put a secret hold on a bill that would aid government transparency by building an online searchable database of what organizations receive government funds. Love this line:
Senator Byrd believes that the bill should be debated and opened for amendment, and not pushed through without discussion.
Did he feel that way about the Patriot Act? Hmmm....

A tobacco industry and cigarette critic takes a look at the recent reports of a rise in nicotine levels in cigarettes and asks, seriously, if this isn't a healthy trend because people might then smoke less to achieve the same levels. Clip:
Things cut both ways, and it just doesn't make sense to me to lament the increased nicotine delivery of cigarettes over time, when in the face of a decreased nicotine delivery over time, we responded by blasting the companies for increasing health risks by forcing smokers to compensate and smoke more.
May I offer you a pinch of irony? A Chicago Tribune reporter blogs about attending a breakfast sponsored in part by the American Heart Association. The event was held to encourage more bans on indoor smoking and to speak about the evils of cigarettes. Clip:
There were piles of bacon and ham. There was a tray filled with steaming scrambled eggs. And next to that, another one bursting with thick slices of French toast slathered in fried bananas and powdered sugar.

In an outrageous move, an Ohio legislative panel approved of a process that would put people on a public sex offender's list (which allows them to be tracked) even if they haven't been convicted of a crime. Listen, we all want to see some protection for the public when it comes to sex offenders. I have misgivings about the current process, but since I have no good solutions, I don't worry too much about it. But this is just crazy - bat shit crazy. A person is accused and then made a pariah for at least 6 years without a conviction?!!? Talk about a modern day Scarlet Letter!

Most bizarre story of the day: Guard families stationed overseas are provided with cardboard cutouts of their moms or dads while they are away. The cutouts sit at the table, go on car rides with the kids, etc. Question: If mom or dad comes back from Iraq missing a limb, do they keep the cutout whole to remind them of what the limb used to look like or do they cut it off for a more up to date depiction? Do they count for HOV lanes? Do kids still try to pit Mom against Dad to get their way? Feel free to add your own comments...this one is ripe for ridicule.

U.S. government is going to spend $20 million on propaganda project for the Middle East. As Rox adroitly points out, they only spend $11 million per year on Stars and Stripes.

Cervical cancer is made worse by semen. Another reason for condoms.