Monthly Archives: December 2005

My iPod

From Tena:

My husband got me an iPod nano for Christmas. I had given him so many hints that I really expected it. What I didn’t expect is quite how much I’d love it; I’m addicted to it. I can’t stop dancing – having the music right up on top of my eardrums (my husband got me a great pair of earphones) turns me into a complete dancepuppet. I dance all the time – I dance while I’m on my feet, I dance while I’m sitting in front of my computer.

I also did not realize where releasing my inner head banger would take me. I started out on the easy stuff, but I couldn’t stop. I got worse and worse until I downloaded Godsmack – Awake this afternoon. Right after I downloaded 3 Tim Buckley songs I haven’t heard since 1967, and the Quicksilver Messenger Service, which I haven’t heard since 1969. I am simultaneously reliving my youth and going through a second one. I suppose it doesn’t get much better than that on New Year’s Eve.

I have a lot of hopes for 2006; I know what should happen, for the good of this country. But I was talking to one of my nephews who came down for the holidays about the fact that the wiretapping has to be it – that has to put a stop to all this. He reminded me how many times we’ve thought: “Ok, this is it, this will do it.” And that’s true. But it is also true that much has changed since last New Year’s Eve. So if this is a matter of taking the country back one inch at a time, then we can do that. We’re already several miles down that road.

Happy New Year’s.

Go have some fun

Virtual bubble wrap!

I love the Internets.

A.

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Trent Duffy is still handling the gaggle, let me know if you see Little Scottie’s face on a milk carton.

Q On Monday, are you — is Scott or you doing briefings on Monday, do you know?

MR. DUFFY: Federal holiday.

Q Sorry, what about tomorrow?

MR. DUFFY: Saturday.

And a couple of good questions about President Steelyeyed’s rockribbedness.

Q Scott had said that the President was not going to sign an extension of the Patriot Act — temporary extension of the Patriot Act. Were there any sort of discussions of whether or not he should so this after saying that he wasn’t going to?

Q Trent, on the Patriot Act, I still don’t understand why when the Senate was considering a three month extension, the White House threatened to veto, so the Senate passed a six-month extension; then when the House insisted on a five-week extension, the President is now going to accept that.

A Simple Question

From Holden:

Now that the Justice Department has finally decided to investigate the leak that allowed us to know that Bush was illegally spying on us one year after the leak occurred, I have a question.

Is Chimpy’s extra-constitutional snooping program still classified? If it is, then didn’t the president himself violate the law when he brashly confirmed the existence of the program. He even discussed some of it’s specifics, as did Abu Al Gonzales and NSA wonk Michael Hayden. The program is still classified, should they be speaking about it in public?

The Question

So I was back over at Steve’s, reading the comments to the post I cited below, and came across this, which really, to me, is the whole freaking enchillada with cheese:


as a union member with full med. coverage it sickens me to hear people, esp. white collar workers, whine “why should they get full medical when i don’t?” the proper question these dopes should be asking is “why shouldn’t I get full medical like THEY do?”

I mean, if we have to fall back on appealing to people’s self-interest, which in the history of politics has never been a losing strategy, why do we always fall back on getting people to accept something less, instead of encouraging them to fight for something more? We are steadily convincing ourselves that it’s somebody else’s fault if their life sucks less than our own, and they should be punished, for refusing to settle for what we settled for.

This country needs a leader like I need water to drink.

A.

We Need A Little More Class Warfare

Go read Steve and then come back here.

And tell me, please, what would be wrong with discussing this part:


When faced with the fact that people they thought less about than elves, despite making their economic lives possible, had beneifts long gone from their jobs, many were resentful. After all, they had been told their entire lives that college guaranteed success and confirmed their intellgence.

If some jackhole like Jack Welch can get his golf club dues included in his retirement, you want to tell me why a city worker shouldn’t expect a pension after 30 years’ good work? You want to tell me why a CEO getting a $10 million bonus can tell his employees the company’s fallen on hard times and needs to ask them to help pay for their health insurance? You want to tell my why educated people take it as a matter of course that they have no employment security while the guy in the upstairs office, no matter how many times he’s fired, will always land on his feet with a nice fat consulting salary and a severance package worth three times that?

I remember all the condescending head-shaking from Republicans (truly, the CEO party) during the last campaign, whenever anybody tried to raise those points, about how awful it was to encourage “class warfare.” And I remember being utterly confused as to why on earth that would be a bad thing.

When the majority of Americans are as alienated as they are from each other, there should be tension. There should be questions about whether a society that allows such a disparity between rich and poor is moral. There should be discussions about whether efforts to solve such problems should be made, and how far we can go in regulating and guiding and mandating care of one another, things that should be our obligations as human beings.

I’m not saying we should go out and behead the aristocrats, honestly, but I am saying there’s an extreme reluctance to have the conversation, and that needs to stop.

A.

Friday Ferretblogging: Holiday Edition

Yes, we got our ferrets presents. Shut up.

The beasties approach the second-hand cat tree warily.

Stripe plays in the wrapping paper, much more interested in that than the sleeping bag mom spent the afternoon sewing for him, spoiled little brat.

Now they figure out what the tree is for. Ferret geometry.

A.

You Know What This Musical Needs? More Gay!

Maybe it’s just that I’m really smashed right now (a week on the NyQuil diet will lower your tolerance all to hell) but I’d like to make out with NTodd just a little bit.


Yes, showing two guys ride the mechanical bull together is just like glorifying a psychopathic dictator responsible for the murder of tens of millions of people, including homosexuals.� And dude, you’re so right that if we let the faggy fags from Queerville marry each other, their wives will be totally humiliated because, uh…they’ll never marry their wives, who will project forward to a time that they might have been married and got dumped and…did I mention that gay sex is icky?

Honestly, it’s time for these people to just grow the fuck up. People were having gay sex in Paris in the 20s before you were BORN, Medved, so God, just deal with the fact that someone, somewhere, will always be getting some in a very gay fashion no matter how many angry pearl-clutching reviews you write, no matter how many crocodile tears you shed over OMGWHATEVERWILLWETELLTHECHILDREN. No matter how many laws you pass. No matter how many nights you sit up wondering how deep the closet really ought to be. No matter how you try to drive it back to the Victorian age, nobody’s gonna stop falling in love and acting on that love because you said anything at all. Of the subset of Americans who would say they’re in love, a very small percentage give half a shit what you think, and maybe that’s what really bothers you, but I’ve got friends who can’t get each other sick leave because of your insecurities so pardon me if I’m not sympathetic about your tiny penis.

Read your high school Cliff Notes version of Romeo and Juliet again, asshole. Read Austen, read Bronte, read Blake. Think about the person you love in your life, think about what you wouldn’t do if she asked, and if the list is very long, well then pal, you need to seriously re-evaluate your sad little right-wing life. Understand what a bunch of dead people understand: love makes its own tragedies and triumphs, and whatever you might try to do to thwart it, love won’t be denied. All you’re going to do is make yourself look like a dick for getting in the way.

Schmuck.

A.

British Documents and US Torture

From Holden:

British documents prove the use of information gained through torture in Uzbekistan by the UK and US governments, sez kos.

A Very Jobless Christmas

From Holden:

It’s been quite some time since I last took a peek at the new jobless numbers. How are we doing?

In the week ending Dec. 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 322,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 319,000. The 4-week moving average was 325,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week’s revised average of 324,750.

Housing Bubble Continues to Leak

From Holden:

My Bush Boom’s last best hope is fizzling.


Sales of previously owned homes fell by 1.7 percent in November, a fresh sign that the high-flying housing market is losing altitude.

The latest snapshot of activity in the housing market, released by the National Association of Realtors on Thursday, showed that November’s sales of existing homes, including single-family, town homes and condominiums, totaled 6.97 million units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. It marked the lowest level of sales since March.

The over-the-month decline was slightly steeper than the 1.3 percent drop that analysts were expecting before the report was released.

Ya Gotsta Love Our Pentagon

From Holden:

A $100,000 military jeep that can’t be driven in a war zone? Sweet.

The Marine Corps is paying $100,000 apiece for a revamped military jeep that some critics call a rip-off of taxpayers, according to a news report Thursday.

The Marines budgeted to buy more than 400 vehicles, called Growlers, under a contract that could total $296 million including ammunition, USA Today said, citing Pentagon records.

Built by Ocala, Fla.-based American Growler, the Growler is made partly from salvaged M151 jeep parts and is available in several versions.

Four years ago, the Dominican Republic paid $33,000 for a version of the Growler, the paper said citing U.S. Export-Import Bank records.

A commercial version of the jeep costs just $7,500.

[snip]

The Marines’ version has considerable upgrades from the commercial and Dominican models, the Corps and contractor said, including a turbo-diesel engine, disc brakes and other systems adapted from modern vehicles.

But some critics charge that the unarmored vehicle makes no sense for today’s missions, the paper said.

Under current military safety rules, the Growler would be barred from service in Iraq except as a utility vehicle that doesn’t leave the security of a base, according to the report.

Support Our Troops! UK Edition

From Holden:

Hey, Tommie, do you want your medal? We’ll get it to you in a jiffy.

An Ulster war veteran who risked his life in Iraq has told of his surprise and sadness after a military medal to recognise his bravery was sent to him in the post two years late and wrapped in a Jiffy bag.

The Rev Charles McCartney, from Belfast, who served as a chaplain with the British Army when they invaded Iraq in March 2003, has expressed his disbelief after he unceremoniously received his Iraq war medal from the postman.

In the past, the former major had personally been presented with his medals for service in Kosovo and Bosnia during military ceremonies.

[snip]

On completing his operational tour of duty at the end of 2003, he was expecting an invitation to a military ceremony where he would be formally presented with his Iraq war medal, which is awarded to all members of the armed forces who served in the country.

But Mr McCartney did not receive his medal until earlier this month- two years after completing his service – and instead of being awarded his medal during a special military event it was handed to him in a padded envelope by the postman. The only accompanying letter was a sheet of paper for him to sign to confirm he had received the package.

“I was left feeling very let down,” he said.

“At the very minimum I was expecting an invitation to go the Northern Ireland headquarters for a small ceremony. I went and served my country during a war and never asked any questions, even though the war was obviously wrong. Sending my medal in a bag was not right.”

Today on Athenae’s Obsession With Starbuck

It’s coming back, it’s coming back, it’s coming back!

That is all, lest I descend even further into incoherent fannish squealing.

A.

Be It Resolved

Two Romenesko items, inches from one another. The first is a series of resolutions for the newspaper industry’s new year.

I won’t annoy you by quoting them. It’s fairly standard bullshit: embrace the Internet! Write more about young people! Never mind that in the history of newspapers content has never driven readership and that your marketing as an industry makes the Chevy Nova look like an advertising triumph! Just keep right on pretending all you have to do is figure out this online thingamabob and everything will be fine!

GAWD. It’s like desperate parents dyeing their hair pink and listening to their kids’ CDs in a futile and sad attempt to get their kids to like them. Personally? As a blogger, one of the hip young things this tool would have newspapers be so jealous of? I don’t want my parents to be just like me. I want my parents to be my parents, to do things I need parents to do, like set a good example, provide food and shelter, and teach me about the world.

Here’s some resolutions: Stop sucking. Stop running front-page features on flip-flops and the Sopranos and The Passion of the Christ. Stop cutting your newsrooms in half because you only pulled a 20 percent profit last year. Stop acting irritated that your readership isn’t what it used to be. Nothing’s what it used to be. Stop saying you have no money for journalism and sending your ad sales execs to Jamaica as a reward for meeting quota. Learn to wiki? How about learning to FOIA? Do the little things: Local official giving you a hard time? Request his travel reimbursement records. Tell the story you don’t think is a story because it’s always been that way, or because everybody does it. Stand up to power and when Republicans whine that you’re mean, buy yourself a beer and send me the bill, because that kind of mean is defined in the real world as your job. And if George W. Bush summons you to the Oval Office to ask you pretty please to enable his criminality to go undetected, undebated and unchecked, reach deep down inside yourself for whatever made you want to be a journalist in the first place and tell him to go fuck himself. No fear or favor. No backing down. Not. One. Inch.

Oh, and the second item?


The annual salary of Gordon Paris, 52, chairman and CEO of Hollinger International, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times, will be reduced to $900,000 in 2006 from $2 million in 2005, according to the company’s proxy statement filed Tuesday

You want to talk about resolving to fix an ailing industry? There’s a good place to start, but it’s just a start. Call me when his pay’s equal to that of his lowest-paid reporter. Then we can talk about the Internet some more.

Schmucks.

A.

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Duffman is back, as Little Scottie continues to duck the press corps.

First, a standard “no comment” on the innumerable cases that Chimpy’s extra-consitutional snooping has jeopardized.

Q The New York Times reports today that there are several legal challenges based on the NSA wiretaps. Are you concerned that these challenges could jeopardize the cases against people you guys have already described as very bad people?

MR. DUFFY: Jessica, I think Attorney General Gonzales and General Hayden did a very thorough briefing about the legal underpinnings that the administration is basing this program on. I don’t have anything to add to that. And we decline to comment on any pending cases, but I don’t think it should serve as any surprise that defense attorneys are looking at ways to represent their clients; that’s what defense attorneys do.

Next, a question that hits closer to home.

Q That same New York Times article says, there’s consideration of filing criminal charges against President Bush, himself. Is he prepared to face any possible charges, and what kind of — the White House must have some sort of reaction to the concern that this could bring this NSA issue into the court and open it up to all sorts of inquiries.

MR. DUFFY: I’d just leave it just where I said, Jessica. The Attorney General, himself, the administration’s top legal eagle, explained the legal underpinnings that the administration is basing this program on. And I don’t have anything to add to that. We always decline to comment on pending cases. You’re asking me to speculate about what may happen in the future, and that’s another area where we shy away from.

Q Are you making preparations in the Legal Counsel’s Office to defend this in court?

MR. DUFFY: I don’t know how to answer that question. So I won’t.

Q Do you think, though, that the lawyers — or more specifically, their clients, have a right to know how their cases came to be, and if —

MR. DUFFY: Dana, you’re asking in the context of pending cases, and we’re just prohibited from commenting on that. So speculating on pending cases is something we can’t do.

Q You all have talked about cases that are up before the courts before. Just in general, can you say how hard the administration is going to fight the defense lawyers?

MR. DUFFY: I would refer you to the Justice Department for any questions like that.

Q The President publicly acknowledged the NSA wiretapping in his Saturday radio address. But in subsequent news revelations about perhaps broader surveillance, he’s chosen not to acknowledge that. Why the difference?

MR. DUFFY: The President discussed what he felt comfortable discussing in the news conference, and this is a highly classified, or was a highly classified program and he felt it necessary to discuss that since it was reported. And that’s the decision that he made and the administration made.

Personally, I think Chimpy’s lound-and-proud acknowledgement of his illegal eavesdropping program was a HUGE mistake on Unka Karl’s part, I suppose he’s a bit distracted these days. The prez could have denied it all, or at least no-commented-on-the-basis-of-national-security. But instead he publicly confirmed that, yes he did indeed violate the Fourth Amendment, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and his oath of office. As John Dean observed, the first president in history to admit to an impeachable offense.

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Yesterday saw Terrence Trent d’Uffy subbing for the neverpresent Little Scottie, and new revelations about the Chimpster’s extra-constitutional snooping had Trent clamming up and backing up.

Q To follow up on last week, you know that New York Times story that talked about the NSA, and how the government was doing much broader surveillance than the White House has acknowledged. Are you familiar with that story?

MR. DUFFY: Yes, I saw the story. We’ll be declining to comment on any specific operational details.

[snip]

Q If I could just follow up on that for a second. In the briefing we had at the White House last — a week ago, Monday, I think it was General Hayden who said at that time that the technology of the program was such that you could only pick up international calls. And he seemed to suggest at the time that a broader program would not have been technologically possible, even if authorized. Your unwillingness to go repeat that, and not discuss the operational details after the story might be interpreted as suggesting that General Hayden’s comment no longer stands. Would that be reasonable?

MR. DUFFY: I don’t think so. I pointed back to the briefing on Friday by General Gonzales and also by General Hayden. I have nothing more to add to it. I mean, his comments stand. I’m declining to go into any specific operational aspects of the program because General Hayden and General Gonzales briefed on it and I don’t have anything more to say. That’s all.

Jessica.

Q Was the President accurate in the news conference when he said that the eavesdropping program only focuses narrowly on people with al Qaeda ties or affiliates?

MR. DUFFY: Yes, the President was accurate.

Q And one more question. UPI is reporting that the reason why — let me find it real quick. That the reason — that the U.S. decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps because the court was challenging President Bush at an unprecedented rate.

MR. DUFFY: I’m sorry, can you say that again, Jessica?

Q That the reason U.S. President George Bush decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps was because the court was challenging him at an unprecedented rate.

MR. DUFFY: The President has already addressed how this program was done within the law, and I don’t have anything more to add to that.

Q So no comment on the specific of — was the President being challenged at an unprecedented rate?

MR. DUFFY: I’ll leave it where the President left it in his news conference.

Yes, Dana.

Q When the President said that — described this program the way he did in his news conference, did he mean to suggest that it is only limited to eavesdropping on ongoing phone calls, or did he not mean to sort of limit it to just that? I mean, the impression that he left was that the program is just about eavesdropping on conversations as they happen.

MR. DUFFY: I’ll have to get back to you on that question, Dana. I’ll take that.

Gettin’ All Defensive and Shit

From Holden:

Robert F. Turner, co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia School of Law and a Reagan-era lawdog, takes to the editorial pages of the WSJ to defend Dear Leader’s extra-consitutional snooping. Unfortunately for his argument and the blind legions of the right Turner stumbled over the truth.

I’m not saying that what the president authorized was unquestionably lawful. The Supreme Court in the 1972 “Keith case” held that a warrant was required for national security wiretaps involving purely domestic targets, but expressly distinguished the case from one involving wiretapping “foreign powers” or their agents in this country. In the 1980 Truong case, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the warrantless surveillance of a foreign power, its agent or collaborators (including U.S. citizens) when the “primary purpose” of the intercepts was for “foreign intelligence” rather than law enforcement purposes.

This is what the right either fails to understand or willfully ignores. Bush directed the NSA to listen in on the communications of American citizens without a warrant, an act expressly forbidden by the Fourth Amendment of the US Consitution. We do not yet know whether all of the warrantless wiretaps were for “‘foreign intelligence’ rather than law enforcement purposes” but we do know that the Assministration snooped on UN reps to find out how they would vote on attacking Iraq, which is clearly outside the bounds of FISA.

Yes, Turner won’t claim that “that what the president authorized was unquestionably lawful” because he can’t honestly do so. He would if he could, but it’s stunningly obvious that the President of the United States violated federal law, the Constitution, and his oath of office.

The Deathrattle of My Bush Boom

From Holden:

Ummm, if folks ain’t borrowing to buy homes then the housing bubble has indeed popped.

U.S. mortgage applications fell to a more than 3-1/2-year low last week amid a sharp drop in demand for loan refinancing even as interest rates held steady, an industry trade group said on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications for the week ended December 23 decreased 6.8 percent to 554.1 from the previous week’s 594.6. Volume was at its lowest level since the week ended May 24, 2002, when the index hit 516.9.

The group’s seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications dropped 11.2 percent to 1,259.1, compared with 1,418.1 the previous week. Volume was at its lowest level since the week ended April 12, 2002, when the index reached 1,246.1.

Completely Fucked, We Are

From Holden:

You’ll have to read what Jane sez to understand what has me typing Yoda-like headlines.