Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Buried By Cadbury

On the heels of the tainted milk scandal in China last week (where at least four babies have died after drinking poisoned baby formula and almost 53,000 were made sick) comes news that Cadbury chocolates worldwide may be tainted in the same manner.

At the center of both cases is the chemical melamine-- a compound used to make plastic , which causes kidney stones when mixed with milk and consumed. The poisoning has been blamed on farmers and middlemen adding melamine to watered down or low quality milk to fake its protein levels when sold to dairies.

This week, Cadbury announced that it is recalling Dairy Milk bars and 11 other types of chocolates made in China from places as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the tiny pacific island of Nauru. According to a spokesman, "The withdrawal is due to concern about the possibility of melamine contamination in our chocolate."

Cadbury said the three Chinese factories from which it had obtained milk products had previously been cleared by government tests. But the statement said the company had since conducted its own tests on its chocolates and had received results that cast doubt on the integrity of products manufactured in China.

Failin' Palin

In its latest issue, Newsweek ripped the living shit out of Palin. It seems that the jaw-dropping interview with Couric did the trick-- most folks (even conservatives) are backing away from her big time. Here's what Newsweek international editor Fareed Zakaria had to say:

Palin Is Ready? Please. Will someone please put Sarah Palin out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, "to spend more time with her family"?...

This is nonsense—a vapid emptying out of every catchphrase about economics that came into her head. Some commentators, like CNN's Campbell Brown, have argued that it's sexist to keep Sarah Palin under wraps, as if she were a delicate flower who might wilt under the bright lights of the modern media. But the more Palin talks, the more we see that it may not be sexism but common sense that's causing the McCain campaign to treat her like a time bomb.

Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start....

Obviously these are very serious challenges and constraints. In these times, for John McCain to have chosen this person to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible. McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, it is simply not true.

For those that missed it, here is the last of the Couric interview with Palin-- only in this installment, McCain seemingly appears as a chaperon (after the first two disastrous segments). There definitely seems to be some uncomfortableness between the duo, as they are put on the spot to explain how Palin contradicted McCain's position on Pakistan. In several spots, McCain is absolutely itching to interrupt Palin as she seem to drift into dangerous territory:

Tough Day At Work: Part 7

Monday, September 29, 2008

While The Nation Burns, McCain Fiddles Away

As the House Republicans killed the $700 billion bailout, the nation lost another $1.1 trillion in wealth. Looking more out of touch than ever, McCain first took credit for passage of the bill. After the bill actually failed, McCain then kicked off the blame game by saying the following:
“From the minute John McCain suspended his campaign (DD: he didn't)

"and arrived in Washington to address this crisis, (DD: he never went to the Hill negotiating sessions)

"he was attacked by the Democratic leadership: Senators Obama and Reid, Speaker Pelosi and others. (DD: McCain was practically ignored at the White House summit and afterwards)

"Their partisan attacks were an effort to gain political advantage during a national economic crisis. (DD: Just like McCain has been doing the last week)

"By doing so, they put at risk the homes, livelihoods and savings of millions of American families. (DD: Just like McCain did when he swooped in and almost killed the deal)

"Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain, and refused to even say if he supported the final bill. (DD: McCain stayed home at his apartment most of the weekend and made a few phone calls)

"Just before the vote, when the outcome was still in doubt, Speaker Pelosi gave a strongly worded partisan speech and poisoned the outcome. (DD: McCain was on the road campaigning and said nothing)

"This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country.” (DD: The bill failed because House Republicans failed to honor the negotiated deal and changed their votes)

John McCain, 900 miles away in Des Moines (both literally and figurative), added to the discourse with the following:
"Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process. Now is not the time to affix the blame. It’s time to fix the problem. "

I'm not sure if it's him or me that doesn't get it, but in his second sentence I think he condemned the very act he committed in the first sentence!

Latent Horseshit

Did John McCain really mutter "horseshit" under his breath twice during last Friday's debate? You be the judge.

Tough Day At Work: Part 6

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Disdain Is Plain While McCain Eats Chow Mein

So John McCain threatened to derail the first debate because he had to attend bailout negotiations in person-- conducting business by phone just wasn't good enough. Really? ThinkProgress has the details:
After declaring he’d return to Washington to help with the bailout negotiations immediately after last night’s debate, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) never went to Capitol Hill today. In fact, McCain stayed largely holed up in his Arlington apartment, leaving only to go to his campaign headquarters just around the block, the New York Times reports:
Asked why Mr. McCain did not go to Capitol Hill after coming back to Washington to help with negotiations, [McCain adviser] Mr. Salter replied that “he can effectively do what he needs to do by phone.’’
Politico had even more details on how Brother John spent his Saturday night. It wasn't spent on the Hill negotiation or even working the phones:
As his colleagues worked on the deal at the Capitol Saturday night, McCain and his wife, Cindy, dined with Sen. Joe Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, at Cafe Mozu inside Washington’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

More Pork On The Menu

Fun To Collect And Trade Too!

This week, Great Britain will start putting graphic warning pictures on cigarette packs in an attempt to discourage the hasty habit. Thought I would give you all a sample of what might be staring you in the face should you decide to light up over there.

The Vista Is Not Good For Microsoft

Microsoft recently launched an expensive and high profile campaign with two ads featuring Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld awkwardly meeting in a discount shoe shop and attempting to reconnect with real people by moving in with a normal family. But the spots were widely panned by critics and had little impact on consumers. So even though a third ad featuring Seinfeld was filmed, Microsoft dumped the entire campaign in favor of new ads featuring more current celebrities such as actress Eva Longoria, singer Pharrell Williams and even author Deepak Chopra declaring "I'm a PC".

But all three are Mac fans, Silicon Valley gossip blog Valleywag revealed. Longoria owns a MacBook and Williams carries an iPhone encased in gold, while Chopra, in a column on nuclear weapons published in the Huffington Post, said it was "good to sell more iPods" as they were "entertaining and harmless".

It has now been revealed that that Microsoft's new "I'm a PC" advertising campaign was created on a Mac-- a highly embarrassing development, given that the purpose of the new campaign was to tout the PC's advantages vs. the Mac.

Hidden information contained in images from the ads published on Microsoft's website show they were created on Macs, a Flickr user revealed in a published screen shot. Microsoft responded by quickly scrubbing the hidden "metadata" information from the images.

It issued a statement saying: "As is common in almost all campaign workflow, agencies and production houses use a wide variety of software and hardware to create, edit and distribute content, including both Macs and PCs."

"W" Is For Wanker

Here's the first look at the cast of Oliver Stone's upcoming flick "W". (from left to right): Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell, Toby Jones as Karl Rove, Dennis Boutsikaris as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, Josh Brolin as George W. Bush, Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice, Rob Corddry as Ari Fleischer, Bruce McGill as George Tenet, and Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld. Stone has said that, with this movie, he sought to answer the question 'How did Bush go from an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world?'. The movie also stars James Cromwell and Ellen Burstyn as George Bush Sr and Barbara Bush.

The Return Of Camille

After getting back online a few weeks ago, I forgot to pass along the latest from Camille Paglia. She had a few choice zingers in latest column.

On John McCain:
Americans owe every heroic, wounded veteran an incalculable debt of gratitude, but how do McCain's sufferings in a tiny, squalid cell 40 years ago logically translate into presidential aptitude in the 21st century? Cast him a statue or slap his name on a ship, and let's turn the damned page.

On Sarah Palin:
Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.

On abortion rights:
The pro-life position, whether or not it is based on religious orthodoxy, is more ethically highly evolved than my own tenet of unconstrained access to abortion on demand. My argument has always been that nature has a master plan pushing every species toward procreation and that it is our right and even obligation as rational human beings to defy nature's fascism. Nature herself is a mass murderer, making casual, cruel experiments and condemning 10,000 to die so that one more fit will live and thrive.

Hence I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. The state in my view has no authority whatever to intervene in the biological processes of any woman's body, which nature has implanted there before birth and hence before that woman's entrance into society and citizenship.

On the other hand, I support the death penalty for atrocious crimes (such as rape-murder or the murder of children). I have never understood the standard Democratic combo of support for abortion and yet opposition to the death penalty. Surely it is the guilty rather than the innocent who deserve execution?

Tough Day At Work: Part 5

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Italian Government: Shut The Fuck Up And Don't Criticize Us Or The Pope!

If you thought state-sponsored oppression of free speech was the domain of such countries as China, Turkey or Egypt, think again. An Italian comedienne who said that Pope Benedict XVI would go to Hell and be tormented by homosexual demons is now acing a prison term of up to five years.

Addressing a Rome rally in July, Sabrina Guzzanti warmed up with a few gags about Silvio Berlusconi, before moving on to religion. After warning everyone that within 20 years Italian teachers would be vetted and chosen by the Vatican, she got to the punchline: "But then, within 20 years the Pope will be where he ought to be — in Hell, tormented by great big poofter devils, and very active ones, not passive ones."

Italian prosecutors were not amused. As a result, Guzzanti is facing prosecution for "offending the honor of the sacred and inviolable person" of Benedict XVI. Giovanni Ferrara, the Rome prosecutor, is invoking the 1929 Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Vatican, which stipulates that an insult to the Pope carries the same penalty as an insult to the Italian President.

The July rally was called to protest against interference by the Vatican and the Catholic Church in Italian affairs (from abortion to gay rights) but also to attack the Prime Minister for passing "ad personam" laws to protect his own interests and avoid prosecution on corruption allegations.

Berlusconi, who owns Italy's three main commercial television channels and as Prime Minister also wields influence over RAI, the state broadcaster, has been accused of using his media power to muzzle critics and satirists.

Three years ago Guzzanti released a widely praised film, "Viva Zapatero!", about the suppression in 2003 of her late night show in which she had satirized the Italian Prime Minister. The move to prosecute her over her anti-papal remarks was praised by some on the centre Right, including Luca Volonte, a Christian Democrat, who said that "gratuitous insults must be punished".

However, many people were strongly critical. Paolo Guzzanti, Ms. Guzzanti's father and a centre Right MP, said the move was "a return to the Middle Ages”. Antonio Di Pietro, a senator and former anti-corruption magistrate, who organized the rally, said that Guzzanti had only "exercised her constitutional right to freedom of thought. Dario Fo, the Nobel prize-winning playwright, said that applying the treaty more widely would even have led to the prosecution of Dante, since "he put a Pope in the Inferno as well, namely Boniface VIII".

Even certain sections of the Church are unimpressed. Father Bartolomeo Sorge, a Jesuit scholar, told reporters the move to prosecute Guzzanzi was incomprehensible.

Presidential Debate Round Up

From the New York Times editorial:
The debate was generally a relief from the campaign’s nastiness . . . Mr. McCain fumbled his way through the economic portion of the debate, while Mr. Obama seemed clear and confident. Mr. McCain was more fluent on foreign affairs, and scored points by repeatedly calling Mr. Obama naïve and inexperienced.

Mr. McCain’s talk of experience too often made him sound like a tinny echo of the 20th century . . . If he was reaching for Reagan’s affable style, he missed by a mile, clenching his teeth and sounding crotchety where Reagan was sunny and avuncular.

Mr. Obama has improved as a debater but needs to work on his counterpunch . . . Obama dominated the economic portion of the debate, arguing that the Wall Street disaster was the fault of the Bush administration’s anti-regulation, pro-corporate culture. He called for a major overhaul of the financial regulatory system. Mr. McCain stuck to his talking points, railing against greed and corruption. He showed little sign that he understood the fundamental failures in government illuminated by the market crisis.

It was disturbing to see that Mr. McCain seems to have learned nothing from the disastrous war in Iraq. He talked about recent progress there, which is indisputable, and his support for the troop surge that has brought down violence. But Mr. McCain still was talking about winning, rather than how he was going to plan a necessary and responsible exit. And he steadfastly refused to acknowledge that the decision to invade Iraq was an enormous mistake.

Mr. Obama offered no details on how he plans to get out of Iraq, but he offered an important truth when he said that the United States should never have invaded and can never win in Afghanistan as long as it is tied down in Iraq.

Andrew Ward of the Financial Times:
John McCain delivered the punchiest lines and finished the debate on the offensive. Barack Obama was polished and, yes, presidential throughout and absorbed his opponent’s jabs without serious damage. The result was a score draw, which, for Mr Obama, was as good as a win.

Nate Silver of 538.com

TPM has the internals of the CNN poll of debate-watchers, which had Obama winning overall by a margin of 51-38. The poll suggests that Obama is opening up a gap on connectedness, while closing a gap on readiness.

Specifically, by a 62-32 margin, voters thought that Obama was "more in touch with the needs and problems of people like you". This is a gap that has no doubt grown because of the financial crisis of recent days. But it also grew because Obama was actually speaking to middle class voters. Per the transcript, McCain never once mentioned the phrase "middle class" (Obama did so three times). And Obama’s eye contact was directly with the camera, i.e. the voters at home. McCain seemed to be speaking literally to the people in the room in Mississippi, but figuratively to the punditry. It is no surprise that a small majority of pundits seemed to have thought that McCain won, even when the polls indicated otherwise; the pundits were his target audience.

George Harris for the Kansas City Star:

I suspect that women voters especially would be turned off by McCain's sarcastic tone because women do tend to be the conciliators in our society and saw Obama display those conciliatory qualities very well in the debate. Obama looked at McCain, and McCain wouldn't return the eye contact but rather glared or displayed a tight and angry expression.

I also suspect (but don't have the data to support) that older voters were also turned off by Senator McNasty. I believe older voters will also be reassured that, though McCain has been around longer, Obama has a good grasp of foreign affairs and can learn quickly. He impressed as a statesmen, in marked contrast to McCain's warrior demeanor.

McCain referred to Obama as naive or as not understanding on many issues when the listener probably saw a mere difference of opinion. McCain's condescenion felt annoying; to the listener who might agree or disagree with Obama, Obama nevertheless was making good points, not naive ones.

Here are some quick results from overnight polls:

CBS Insta Poll shows Barack Obama won 39% to John McCain's 25% with 36% saying the debate was a draw.

Insider Advantage reports those polled Obama won 42% to McCain's 41% with Undecided 17%

CNN reports voter opinions that Obama "did better" 51%, McCain "did better" 38%

The CNN poll showed men were evenly split, but women gave Obama higher marks 59% to 41% for McCain.

Spaced Out

More fakery from world leader on censorship and oppression. It was disclosed this week that China's state news agency published a dispatch from the country's three latest astronauts describing their first night in space before they had even left Earth.

Amazingly, the article described the Shenzhou VII space craft orbiting the Earth and even went so far as to outline a purported conversation between the astronauts.

The Xinhua agency, which has sometimes been accused of carrying state propaganda, took down the story and blamed it on a "technical error".

Tough Day At Work: Part 4

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bush: "This Sucker Could Go Down"

No-- I'm not referring to the pathetic candidacy of John McCain.

The New York Times last night reported some interesting details on yesterday's bailout summit at the White House.

The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support.

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.

In the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary Henry Paulson literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”

Vaginalizing Nature

Stumbled across the blog Newyorkshitty, written by a so-called "Miss Heather of Greenpoint". I suppose that most folks would find her discourse a bit vulgar, but I find it hilarious-- one part neighborhood watchdog, one part George Carlin. In this post on her cat's blocked anal glands, she calls attention to a phenomenon that I find fascinating and whacked out. It seems that someone in her New York city neighborhood has taken to painting the knots on tree trunks pink in such a way that makes them look distinctly vaginal. Our witty Miss Heather calls them "tree twats". How about "bark box"?

Reverend Wright Redux

With all that's going on with the financial crisis, this new video clip doesn't seem to be making much news. I wonder if there's anything else going on here-- since if this had been Obama in the clip, Fox News would be running updates on the half hour.

Tough Day At Work: Part 3

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time To Bail Out The Bailout

It should be abundantly clear now to most folks that John McCain, who lied about suspending his campaign to deal with the economic crisis, has only served to inflame the situation-- after remarks from Barney Frank and Chris Dodd outside the Capitol at 10 pm tonight, an agreement on the bailout seems even further away than it did this morning before Brother John arrived in town.

I have no doubt that, in McCain's world, politics are more important than the economic necessities of the bailout. The only urgency seems to be that McCain be seen as the architect of the bailout deal. Brother John, who admitted on Tuesday that he hadn't even read the 3-page Paulson plan, arrived after everyone else for the White House summit today-- and according to several sources, barely registered as a presence during the meeting.

McCain, who started the day campaigning in New York city, must have thought that he would be the proverbial "last to arrive at the party" and ride out of town as the "white knight". But he instead found himself presiding over a revolt within his own party. While the White House and Paulson had been working all week to reach a deal (and by all accounts were very close to one),
a maverick group of House Republicans remained opposed to any type of federal bailout (likewise Senator Richard Shelby). If you think I sound jaded, get a load of what Politico had to say:
A high-profile White House meeting on Treasury’s $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan ended Thursday on a sour, contentious note, with no joint endorsement by the two presidential candidates, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama.

Democrats complained of being “blindsided” by a new conservative alternative to the plan first put forward by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. And the outcome casts doubt on the ability of Congress to move quickly on the matter, even after leaders of House and Senate banking committees reached a bipartisan agreement Thursday on the framework for legislation authorizing the massive government intervention.

It was McCain who urged President Bush to call the White House meeting attended by House and Senate leaders as well as Obama, his Democratic rival. But the candidates left without commenting to reporters outside, and the whole sequence of events confirmed Treasury’s fears about inserting presidential politics into what were already difficult negotiations.

Wall Street had posted a gain of 197 points earlier in the day, buoyed by hopes of an agreement. The markets had closed by the end of the White House meeting, but Friday could bring turmoil, and there will be immense pressure now by Treasury to get back on track before Monday.
Amazingly, according to a CBS news report, McCain himself proposed a new alternative after the White House meeting that involved (surprise) fewer regulations and more corporate tax cuts. Bob Orr reported that McCain's "privatization" plan angered and surprised Democrats like banking chairman Chris Dodd who later said he thinks the White House summit was more of a political stunt for McCain.

Here's a later posting from Politico on the sorry state of affairs. No word yet on whether John McCain attended this evening's emergency meeting. But the House Republicans apparently sent only a junior-ranking member who wasn't authorized to negotiate on their behalf-- which tells you how seriously they are taking the whole situation.

More Whalin' on Palin

I almost feel Sarah's pain. Check out the latest video from Palin's CBS interview (transcript afterward). Go Katie!

COURIC: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have with-- Canada. It-- it's funny that a comment like that was-- kind of made to-- cari-- I don't know, you know? Reporters--


PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.

COURIC: Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials.

PALIN: Well, it certainly does because our-- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia--

COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where-- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is-- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to-- to our state.

McCain Reins In Campaign In Vain

Do you think McCain still believes that the fundamentals of the economy are strong? On the surface, it seems that he has finally listened to his advisors and is treating this financial crisis seriously.

Because up to now, he has been absolutely frenetic in his reaction to the situation-- first he was against the AIG bailout, then he was for it. After months of maintaining that the economy was sound, he switched to calling it a crisis. After his knee-jerk call to fire the chairman of the SEC, he changed his tune and supported him. Finally, he called for bi-partisan efforts to deal with the crisis-- but then politicized the issue by unilaterally suspending his campaign and calling off the upcoming debate while he flies to Washington to insert himself into the negotiations on the bailout package.

Whew! Where do I begin? Congressmen on the Hill have been negotiating since last week on this package and are apparently close to a deal-- the last thing they need now is an eleventh-hour opportunist swooping in and mucking up things. And why the "campaign timeout" anyway? Is McCain telling us that he can't handle more than one problem at one time? Personal computers have been able to multi-task since the mid-80's-- should we give Brother John a new nickname ("Mc-DOS")? Or is the possible reason for this delay that McCain isn't ready for the debate (or the drubbing he would get when-- as expected-- the focus would be on the economy and the impact of years of deregulation)?

McCain said he would be suspending all political advertising as well-- although this is likely because he is running low on campaign funds. Even historians have come out and noted that the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II didn't prompt suspensions of presidential campaigns. McCain is also proposing that the 9/26 debate be moved to 10/2-- but no word on what would happen to the VP debate (maybe McCain is trying to derail the VP debate).

McCain also canceled his appearance on the David Letterman show, saying that he had to urgently fly back to Washington to help resolve the crisis. That turned out to be yet another lie-- when Katie Couric asked for a last-minute interview, he decided to stay in New York for that. And then he decided to stay longer in New York for Bill Clinton's Global Initiative event on Thursday morning, not returning to DC until Thursday afternoon. So is our economy in crisis or not, John? What is more important-- scoring points at a fund-raising event or solving the financial crisis? This smacks to me like just more politicking-- another knee-jerk reaction to being behind in the polls, not ready for the debate, and low in campaign funds.

Palin Is Flailin'

The Couric-Palin interview last night was pretty painful to watch. There were a few extremely rough patches, which I've transcripted below. The video is priceless:

PALIN: My understanding is that Rick Davis recused himself from the dealings of the firm. I don't know how long ago, a year or two ago that he's not benefiting from that. And you know, I was — I would hope that's not the case.

COURIC: But he still has a stake in the company, so isn't that a conflict of interest.

PALIN: Again, my understanding is that he recused himself from the dealings with Freddie and Fannie, any lobbying efforts on his part there. And I would hope that's the case

. . . . .

PALIN: The interesting thing in the last couple of days that I have seen is that Americans are waiting to see what John McCain will do on this [bailout] proposal. They're not waiting to see what Barack Obama is going to do.

COURIC: Why do you say that? Why are they waiting for John McCain and not Barack Obama?

PALIN: He's got the track record of the leadership qualities and the pragmatism that's needed at a crisis time like this.

COURIC: But polls have shown that Senator Obama has actually gotten a boost as a result of this latest crisis with more people feeling that he can handle the situation better than John McCain?

PALIN: I'm not looking at poll numbers.

. . . . .

COURIC: Would you support a moratorium on foreclosures to help average Americans keep their homes?

PALIN: That's something that John McCain and I have both been discussing whether that is part of the solution or not ... you know, it's going to be a multifaceted that has to be found here.

COURIC: So you haven't decided whether you'll support it or not?

PALIN: I have not.

COURIC: What are the pros and cons of it, do you think?

PALIN: Well, some decisions that have been made poorly should not be rewarded, of course.

COURIC: By consumers, you're saying?

PALIN: Consumers and those who were predator lenders also.

. . . . .

COURIC: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

PALIN: He's also known as the maverick, though. Taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about — the need to reform government.

COURIC: I'm just going to ask you one more time, not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation?

PALIN: I'll try to find you some, and I'll bring them to you.

Tough Day At Work: Part 2

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

First lady Laura Bush said today that Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin lacked sufficient foreign policy experience.

In her interview with CNN, the first lady further remarked that it's fortunate that Republican presidential nominee John McCain had foreign policy experience himself.

Now that's a woman with common sense.

Lobbyists: McCain's Bane

Another lie from Brother McCain. McCain on Sunday night said that his campaign manager, Rick Davis, who was paid $2 million by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help keep them deregulated, had nothing to do with either group since he left their employ in 2005. According to new reports, this isn't the case.

One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager from the end of 2005 through last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

And there's more fuel for the fire. Another member of McCain's inner circle-- William Timmons, (a lobbyist expected to lead McCain’s presidential transition team) has earned $260,000 this year lobbying for Freddie.

What Can Brown Do For You

Whether she's trying to grab some headlines or she finally is growing a spine-- Campbell Brown had an amazing on-air commentary yesterday:
"Tonight I call on the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment," said Brown. "This woman is from Alaska for crying out loud. She is strong. She is tough. She is competent. And you claim she is ready to be one heart beat away from the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff. Allow her to face down those pesky reporters... Let her have a real news conference with real questions. By treating Sarah Palin different from the other candidates in this race, you are not showing her the respect she deserves. Free Sarah Palin. Free her from the chauvinistic chain you are binding her with. Sexism in this campaign must come to an end. Sarah Palin has just as much a right to be a real candidate in this race as the men do. So let her act like one."

Tough Day At Work: Part 1

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sarkozy Does His Best Bush Impersonation

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is proposing a computer system that a new French internal intelligence service will use to spy on the private lives of millions of law-abiding citizens.

Hervé Morin, the Defense Minister, broke government ranks to side with a growing revolt against Edvige, an acronym for a police database that will store personal details including opinions, the social circle and even sexual preferences of more or less anyone who interests the State. Edvige, which is also a woman's name, was created by decree in July to store data on anyone aged 13 or above who is "likely to breach public order".

"Sarkozy's Big Sister", as it has been dubbed, will also track anyone active in politics or trade unions and in a significant role in business, the media, entertainment or social or religious institutions. Listed people will have limited rights to consult their files.

"With just a few clicks of the mouse, any government official or civil servant will have access to intimate data," said Francois Bayrou, leader of the centrist MoDem party and a fierce opponent of President Sarkozy. The Socialist party demanded that the Government put the system under judicial supervision.

Michel Pezet, a former member of the National Commission on Information Technology and Freedom (a data privacy watchdog) said: "The Edvige database has no place in a democracy. There is nothing in the decree that sets limits or a framework. Whether the database is used with or without moderation depends only on orders from up high. The electronic Bastille is upon us."

Getting Pegged As Best Man

A 39-year-old stripper is facing charges for sexually assaulting a man at a party in Melbourne, Australia. Linda Maree Naggs is accused of raping the best man who told police he was anally penetrated with a vibrator during his best friend's bachelor party.

A witness told the Melbourne Magistrates Court the victim had been egged on by a cheering crowd of up to 30 men to perform with the hired stripper after the groom sat down after spending less than a minute with her. "All the boys were there wanting a show," he said.

The alleged victim, who cannot be identified, had his shirt taken off and his pants pulled down to his knees when Naggs was passed a vibrator by a female assistant.

One witness said the best man (who had looked uncomfortable throughout the entire performance) was forced on to all fours by Naggs who was naked and wearing a sex toy. "She went behind him and pulsated to push him to the ground," he said.

The witness said he heard the man scream and get to his feet. "'Why did you do that for ... you didn't have to do that,'" he said the man yelled. The best man then pushed Naggs in the chest who retaliated with a right-hook punch but missed and threatened to "come back with my bikie mates". You can check out the article for more sordid details.

Politics Driving You Crazy?

Railroaded While Laying Track

A couple in South Africa who were having sex on a railway track in Mpumalanga Province have been killed by a goods train, according to reports.

Police spokesman Abie Khoabane said it took place on Friday evening and the victims were yet to be identified. He told local newspapers that the couple ignored the driver's shouts as he moved the train into the disused station in Kinross town. "They continued with their business," he told the Sowetan paper.

According to South Africa's Beeld newspaper, the area was deserted with no cars or houses nearby. The man died at the scene and the woman died later at hospital, the Sowetan reports. The police have appealed for those with missing relatives to come forward to help with their investigation.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Still Smoking Up In Pennsylvania

Our friend Bill Balsamico continues to light things up at the Casa D'Ice lounge:

Mundane McCain Again

On this morning's Today show, McCain denied that he flip-flopped (yes, Meredith-- it's OK to say that he changed his position) on being against the bailout of AIG. He was also put on the spot about opposing "sweetheart deals" for the companies being bailed out when one of his advisors (Carly Fiorina) got a golden parachute from HP after running it into the ground. He's got some real creaky joints, so dodging and weaving like that usually isn't pretty. He also said that he didn't mind being upstaged by Sarah Palin at campaign appearances, saying that she brings excitement to the GOP. To me, it almost sounded like she was the proverbial lipstick on the GOP pig.

Duck Stamp or Fuck Stamp?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accidentally issued 3.5 million "duck stamps" with a misprinted phone number of phone-sex service.

All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older must buy and carry the current Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp, commonly known as the duck stamp. Sales of the stamp raise about $25 million each year to fund wetland habitat acquisition for the national Wildlife Refuge System.

Rachel Levin, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman, called the misprint "an unfortunate typographical error" that her agency "really regrets." She adds that the agency will keep selling the $15 stamps with the naughty number because reprinting the card would cost too much.

The correct number, 1-800-STAMP24 (1-800-782-6724), is for people wishing to order additional duck stamps. Two digits of the phone number are transposed, resulting in the incorrect number, 1-800-872-6724-- which translates to 1-800-TRAMP24. Callers to "Intimate Connections" are warned that they must be 18 years or older before proceeding.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

McCain and Obama Appear On 60 Minutes

Some notes from watching 60 Minutes tonight---

The McCain Interview:

John McCain said that consumers don't care whether there technically is a recession or not, but still believes the economy is fundamentally strong.

Said that he doesn't regret being responsible for deregulation

Would give tax cuts to everyone (while Obama would cut taxes for most people and raise taxes for folks making over $250K)

Said that both Bush and the Congress have gone wrong the last eight years (no irony noted over his being a member of Congress the last 26 years)

Said that Obama has changed his tune many times over what taxes would be cut

Would cut defense spending and stop subsidies, such as those for sugar

Says that he is different from Bush on spending (believes that Bush let spending get out of control, resulting in many problems), conducting the war on Iraq, climate change (would treat it as a major issue), the 9-11 commission (would have embraced it) and the treatment of prisoners (presumably would improve treatment of prisoners, although he voted with Bush on torture)

Said he has stood up to his party, where Obama has not

On whether Bush has done a good job: Bush has done a good job in preventing another terrorist attack on the U.S., but has made major mistakes. Other than that, he would let history be the judge.

Says that he is different from Obama on spending (wants to spend less), taxes (would provide tax cuts to everyone including the wealthy) and Iraq (that it was a justified war, that it should go on indefinitely as needed, and that the surge worked)

Admitted he met Sarah Palin only twice before picking her.

Avoided answering the question of whether his campaign is afraid of letting Sarah Palin talk to the media.

Said that the U.S. would be justified in pre-emptively invading a country if he was certain they were a threat to the U.S.

Said that faith is why he is here today-- that it got him through difficult times.

The Obama Interview

What caused the financial crisis was too much deregulation and not having a regulatory system that kept pace with the markets and the financial system

How he is different from Mccain on the finanicla crisis: he has a track record of believing in regulation, whereas McCain is the architect of deregulation

Believes that we shouldn't bail out shareholders and executives, and that we should protect taxpayers and keep them in their homes regardless of what happens to financial institutions

Says we are definitely in a recession

Says that his campaign (recently) got more aggressive because the election was getting nearer, and that that the silliness of Britney Spears and lipstick was enough.

Admitted that Sarah Palin gave McCain a boost, but that people want to know more about the candidates' policies.

Said that he would be a good president because by training and disposition, he understands where to take the country; that he's a practical person that can get different people in the same room and find common ground and avoid making the kind of wrong decisions of the past eight years

Says that right away he would call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff and say that we need to find a way to bring the Iraq war to a close-- instead of of focusing on reasons why we should stay

Said that wants an overhaul to the financial system that will result in markets that are stable and will ensure that people will be able to stay in their homes

Will put in place an energy plan that will increase production and result in energy production that is more efficient

Wants a health care system that is efficient and affordable, so that more people are covered

Said that if you are making less than $250K, you would not see a single tax increase; that if you were making $150K and less-- you are definitely getting a tax cut

When asked if it was a good idea to increase taxes, he said no-- not on those making under $250K-- whom he says will have a more positive impact on the economy, as they are more likely to spend money (expanding the economy) and more likely to start new businesses and create jobs.

Says that his health care proposals will cost $150 billion, but his administration will pay for it by raising taxes on those making $250K or more, closing corporate tax loopholes, and eliminating the Bush tax cuts

Acknowledges that our troops have been successful in reducing violence; but the surge is the only measure of success. Says McCain has forgotten five years' work of Iraq history before the surge-- Iraq still doesn't have provincial elections, and that oil revenues are still not at pre-war levels.

Says that McCain stubbornly clings to all kinds of reasons for staying in Iraq-- and that even Bush is now for timetables (for withdrawal)

Nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the U.S. and unacceptable and warrants military options if other options don't work

On whether he thinks race will be a factor in people refusing to vote for him: Probably-- but that it doesn't matter. After winning a tough primary against the best field of Democratic candidates in history and after two months and hundreds of millions of dollars of attacks from the GOP and still ends up tied with McCain (or in the lead), then he is confident in the basic goodness and fairness of Americans. People that won't vote for him because he's black are probably balanced out by those who are voting for him solely because he is black-- and it just means that he was to work harder for votes.

Olympic Postscript

Getting Jacked For Jesus

A British art gallery which exhibited a statue of Jesus Christ in a state of sexual arousal has found itself in court, charged with outraging public decency. The statue was part of Baltic's September 2007 to January 2008 exhibition by controversial Japanese artist Terence Koh "Gone, Yet Still".

Lawyers for Emily Mapfuwa, a 40-year-old Christian who was offended by the artwork, will prosecute the gallery for outraging public decency and causing harassment, alarm and distress to the public. Signs warning of the exhibition's content were posted at the entrance to the gallery.

A spokesman for the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the prosecution, said Mrs Mapfuwa believes in freedom of expression, but said "this statue served no other purpose than to offend Christians and to denigrate Christ".

Putting One's Foot Down

An English man was given 15 months in jail for assaulting his girlfriend after he found out she was cheating on him. As reported by the Telegraph, Toni Milton, 38, mistakenly dialed Neil O'Brien's number on her mobile phone while she was making love to an ex-boyfriend.

Milton only realized she had accidentally pressed the redial button on her mobile phone when she heard O'Brien shouting at her over the phone line. When she picked up the phone he said: "I take it we're finished then?"

O'Brien, 41, said the sound of his girlfriend sleeping with another man caused him to flip out. Because he then drove 15 miles to her house and stamped on her face so hard he left a shoeprint, according to testimony heard in the Leicester crown court.

He was jailed for 15 months after a judge said even the "unusual circumstances" of the incident would not save him from prison.

Nightmare On Elm Street; Sweet Dreams on Wall Street

Some random thoughts on the financial crisis.

As part of the Barclay's bailout of Lehman Brothers, staff at Lehman’s New York office who helped to cause the world’s biggest corporate bankruptcy are to share in $2.5 billion's worth of bonues.

The draft fed bailout proposal ($700 Billion!) contained the following Bush-like clauses:

Sec. 2(b) Necessary Actions.--The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

(2) entering into contracts without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

And now, word has come that the federal bailout could include foreign banks as well.

Barack Obama and the Dems are right-- the proposal should contain independent oversight and limits on executive compensation given to those who (mis)managed their corporations into failure.

I haven't seen or heard anything meaningful from McCain on this entire situation (firing the SEC chairman? A 9/11-type commission? Come on). He and Phil Gramm were the ringleaders of the deregulation crew that got us in this mess to begin with. And just last week, McCain pulled a 24-hour flip-flop on the AIG bailout-- telling the Today show that he was against it, then telling ABC the very next day that he supported it. This is the guy who can't keep track of how many homes he has or how many cars he has.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lipstick On A Pig . . .


Pakistan ordered an inquiry earlier this month into how five women were buried alive in an "honor killing". Three suspects were arrested as condemnation of the outrage spread across the country.

The atrocity took place this summer in a remote region of the vast and restive province of Baluchistan. Three teenage girls named as Hameeda, Raheema and Fauzia, attempted to marry men of their own choosing, and were then reportedly kidnapped by armed local tribesmen along with two older women.

According to reports, the five women were driven away to a desert area by men belonging to the Umrani tribe. The three teenage girls were hauled out, beaten and shot. Injured, but still alive, they were thrown into a ditch. When the two older women, aged 45 and 38, protested at what was happening, they were subjected to the same treatment. "All five women were connected," said Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch.

The killings have been defended by politicians from Baluchistan. Reacting to a female colleague's attempt to raise the issue in parliament, Israrullah Zehri said such acts were part of a "centuries-old tradition" and he would "continue to defend them".

Horsing Around

Going Nuts For Penis Enlargement

It seems that a Malaysian guy (just a week before his engagement) became hung up on impressing with girlfriend. It seems that his plan was to wedge a hex nut onto the head of his penis, and the resulting weight on his organ would stretch it out a bit. Well-- things quickly grew out of control. After getting an erection, the nut got stuck and the rescue squad was called in. They had to drain the dick and then remove a layer of skin (ouch!) before the "hard"ware could be removed.

Just a week before that incident, another young man in Kuala Lumpur had tried to increase his sexual prowess by slipping a steel ring around his penis, forcing the fire department to cut off the ring after doctors were unable to remove it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

McCain Is Pained By Brain Strain Mainly From Spain

Brother John is totally confused about Latin America, and (in his mind) has us in conflict with Spain (a NATO ally). It doesn't get any better . . .

Red (Faced) Skin

If you've been wondering what had gotten NFL tight end Chris Cooley in trouble with the Redskins this week and wanted to see for yourself-- look closely . . .

Why Are The Presidential Polls So Close?

If you've been wondering about that (like Jack Cafferty has been)-- maybe the answer is not that (skin) deep . . .

When conservative activists can openly sell such racist crap as this, it's obvious that racism is the only logical explanation. With code phrases like "community organizer", the guy with the "funny name", and "he's not one of us", the republicans are undoubtedly fanning the flames.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Final Word On Gonzales: Inept

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales mishandled highly classified information on two of the nation’s most highly sensitive programs, but will not be prosecuted, the Justice Department Inspector General announced just after Labor Day.

In a sharply critical 29-page reports, Inspector General Glenn Fine said that Gonzales had improperly handled information dealing with the National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance program and the terrorist detainee interrogation program. The report reveals that Gonzales violated the rules for handling top secret information within hours after he was briefed on the strict procedures for handling the documents. The papers were so sensitive that they were to be kept in the Justice Department command center.

World Class Pissers - Part 11

McCain Fundamentally Wrong

The Dow drops over 500 points in one day
Oil prices going through the roof
5 million more Americans living in poverty than there were in 2000
Nearly 50 million folks without health care
Unemployment rate at 6.1%, the highest in five years
The Feds take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
Goodbye Lehman Brothers
Merrill Lynch and AIG nearly go under
Foreclosures at an all-time high

But don't worry-- the fundamentals of the economy are strong!

Serious Bonding On Wall Street

A couple of pranksters from the Howard Stern show were able to work themselves into a live CNN feed in front of the Lehman Brothers building. Hilarious>

Baby, Got Back

Well, I'm back-- but I've lost all my posts since Labor Day. And I've missed all the fun with McCain's misadventures and the saga of Sister Sarah-- I'm sure I'll get plenty of chances to catch up.


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