Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Yeah, She Asked For It

In a public square in Kismayo, Somalia, thousands of people gathered to witness 50 Somali men stone a woman to death after an Islamic court found her guilty of adultery.

Sharia victim Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow was buried in the ground up to her neck while the men pelted her head with rocks, according to witnesses.

In a chillingly sickening manner, local Islamist leader Sheikh Hayakallah kicked off the public killing by announcing, "Our sister Aisho asked the Islamic Sharia court in Kismayo to be charged and punished for the crime she committed. She admitted in front of the court to engaging in adulterous sexual intercourse."

The port of Kismayo was seized in August by a coalition of forces loyal to rebel leader Hassan Turki, and the Shebab, the country's main radical Islamist insurgent organization. The rebel administration began implementing a strict form of Sharia (Islamic law).

McCain Campaign Doing Down The Drain

From Americablog, reacting to Joe the Plumber saying that John McCain is the real American:
Would Joe like to share his views on who in America isn't a real American? We already know he doesn't pay his taxes, thinks Social Security should have never been created, and is voting for McCain since Obama will be giving him a bigger tax cut. Then we learned that Joe got a country music agent who's talking about Joe possibly doing Home Depot ads, then running for congress. And now Joe is giving us insight into his views on which Americans are real and which aren't.

If we're going to start determining who is and isn't a real American, can we start with those who actually pay their taxes and don't have talent agents??

Update On "Scary Duo"

West Hollywood homeowner Chad Morrisette, under pressure from the mayor, agreed to take down the Sarah Palin effigy that had stirred up controversy. More details here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Sport: Synchronized Debating

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

Scary Duo

A Halloween decoration showing a mannequin dressed as vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin hanging by a noose from the roof of a West Hollywood home is drawing giggles from some passers-by and gasps of outrage

from others. The mannequin is dressed in brunet wig, glasses and a red business suit. Another mannequin dressed as John McCain emerges from a flaming chimney.

Homeowner Chad Michael Morisette says "it should be seen as art, and as within the month of October. It's Halloween, it's time to be scary it's time to be spooky."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Doling Out The Bullshit in North Carolina

This is a sure sign of desperation. The GOP and its downticket candidates are doing so poorly, that of all people-- Elizabeth Dole-- finds herself in serious trouble against an upstart Democratic challenger. Democrat Kay Hagan is a Sunday school teacher, a church elder, and goes on missions with the First Presbyterian Church. Her family has been going to First Presbyterian for over 100 years. And yet Dole is forced to stoop to this level:

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's October, No Suprise

U.S. troops strike targets in Syria. With the election only a week away and the GOP so far behind in the polls, it shouldn't be a shock that Bush would risk a war this way.

I'm Nuts-- Please Whack My Nuts

A group of former health care workers in New Zealand has sparked official complaints and investigations after alleging they were ordered to help intellectually impaired people in their care to masturbate.

Five of the six women have resigned since May, largely because of disgust at the orders they said they were told they were contractually obliged to follow.

According to one of the workers, the management's rationale was "that (clients) have a right to feel like everybody else and if they want to be masturbated, that you are there to do their care."

Hoover Hottie

A 29-year-old Swan Creek Township man has been jailed for getting his rocks off from a car was vacuum hose. According to reports, the dude was arrested for "receiving sexual favors from a vacuum" at a Thomas Township car wash.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More Details On Guantanamo Are Made Public

An Australian Intelligence agent stood by as a naked U.S. marine wearing a condom threatened Mamdouh Habib with rape, the former Guantanamo Bay inmate alleges. In a new book, Habib says he saw the words "Allah Akbar"' [God is great] written on the condom to compound his humiliation.

Habib recounts in excruciating detail the torture he says he was subjected to by Pakistani and Egyptian security agencies after his arrest in early October 2001, and describes the grim reality of life in Guantanamo Bay, where he was subsequently imprisoned. The book rejects the Australian government repeated claims that Habib was well treated during his years in Guantanamo.

According to early reports of his book, Habib says he was denied clothes except for a pair of shorts, and allowed only one blanket. He was given an orange uniform only when taken for interrogation, during which he would be shackled to the floor. He was held in a cage-like cell and forced to drink "yellow water" from a tap in the cell.

Habib writes he was "heavily drugged, deprived of sleep for weeks, beaten, given electric shocks, repeatedly injected with a needle in the same place so that it became terribly painful, left naked in freezing rooms for hours on end in isolation and threatened with rape." He also claims US guards raped detainees and were sexually active with each other.

The mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo and violation of human rights laws there have been well documented. By 2008 there had been at least 4 suicides and hundreds of suicide attempts in Guantanamo that are of public knowledge. Amnesty International has said the apparent suicides "are the tragic results of years of arbitrary and indefinite detention" and called the prison "an indictment" of the Bush administration's human rights record.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in that the Guantanamo captives were entitled to the protection of the constitution. Given the Bush administration's flagrant disregard of constitutional law over the last eight years, justice for the detainees won't be forthcoming until next January at the earliest.


Power For The People, Hugo

Despite having some of the world's largest energy reserves, Venezuela is increasingly struggling to maintain basic electrical service, a growing challenge for President Hugo Chavez. The OPEC nation has suffered three nationwide blackouts this year, and chronic power shortages have sparked protests from the western Andean highlands to San Felix, a city of mostly poor industrial workers in the sweltering south.

Shoddy electrical service is now one of Venezuelans' top concerns, according to a recent poll, and may be a factor in elections next month for governors and mayors in which Chavez allies are expected to lose key posts, in part on complaints of poor services. The transmission system is also suffering from underinvestment, which makes it vulnerable to the failures that caused this year's blackouts. Just last year, Venezuela's electrical operations were nationalized in a wave of state takeovers-- since then, large-scale investments in the country's infrastructure have been nonexistent.

Big Ben or Big Brother?

British police have plans to implement a new law enforcement program-- if an officer runs into someone on the street that he suspects has committed a crime, the officer will have the authority to take a fingerprint sample on the spot and check it against existing government databases.

Within 18 months, every police force in the UK is to be equipped with the mobile fingerprint scanners - handheld devices that will allow police to carry out identity checks on ordinary citizens.

To address fears about mass surveillance and random searches, the police insist fingerprints taken by the scanners will not be stored or added to databases. Instead, the law requires that the fingerprints be deleted after each use. Mmmm . . . we shall see . . .

Friday, October 24, 2008

James Carville On Joe The Plumber

"The reason Republicans are happy about Joe the Plumber is they're glad they got somebody hanging around a toilet other than Larry Craig."

Running On Hate and Fear

From ThinkProgress--

Fox News Executive John Moody admitted that John McCain's campaign would be basically over, forever linked to race-baiting, should it turn out that McCain volunteer Ashley Todd's politically-motivated assault story was false.

Sleeze site Drudge Report gleefully pounced on the story earlier this week, hyping up the political angle of the volunteer's story-- that she was sexually assaulted by a "tall black man" and disfigured with a "B" on her face when her attacker realized she was a McCain supporter.

The shocking story began unraveling almost immediately, and the purported victim finally admitted she made the whole thing up.

Insane McCain

In the Brian Williams interview last night, John McCain told us what the term "elitist" meant:

“I’ll be very frank with you. Who think that they can dictate what they believe to America rather than let Americans decide for themselves.”

Like the belief that stem cells are human life and can't be used in scientific research? The belief that life begins at conception? Or the belief that people have a right to die on their own terms? The belief that gay people shouldn't be allowed to get married? You mean, like those beliefs?

As Christopher DeAngelus on the Daily Shocker has indicated-- McCain basically just called every priest and pastor an elitist. And it was even worse-- McCain also laughingly claimed that he knew where a lot of elitists live, saying "In our nation’s capital and New York City. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived there. I know the town. I know– I know what a lot of these elitists are.

So the people that died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11 were elitists, not real Americans. Is that what McCain really means? Please folks, we can't let this geriatric, jingoistic jerk sit in the Oval office with his finger on the nuclear trigger.

Oh, Brother!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Java Vs. Jugs

A shocking new study has shown that drinking coffee can make your tits shrink.

According to researchers, three cups a day was enough to start making breasts shrink, with the effects increasing on a "cup-for-cup" basis.

For God's sake, ladies-- please switch to tea immediately!

McCain: Laws Are Only For the Little People

After YouTube yanked several of John McCain's videos from their site due to copyright violations (he keeps using music at his rallies without authorization of the artists), the GOP nominee is now asking for special treatment.

As reported by CNET's Chris Soghoian, McCain thinks VIP's should get special treatment when they are suspected of violating copyright laws. Regular folks like you and me should have their videos pulled immediately, and be forced to prove that our video constitutes "fair use" before they are allowed to be re-posted.

As he points out, Congress typically only takes the time to fix problems when they are affected personally. Back in the 1980's, Congress passed the Video Privacy Protection Act only after it became clear (during the Bork Supreme Court hearings) that their own rental histories could become press fodder. In the meantime, there likely won't be any relief to chronic airport security delays as long as members of Congress are allowed to skip the lines altogether.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sarah Palin's Making The Wrong Kind Of Headlines

Sarah Palin Doesn't Know What the VP's Job Is

Who's Calling Who Paris Hilton Now?

Imagine-- these are the clowns that were calling Obama a celebrity just a month ago.

The GOP spent over $150,000 on clothes for Sarah Palin-- shopping at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney's, Bloomingdales and Macy's. How much do you think the wife of the average Joe Six-Pack spends on clothes per month?

They also spent a bloody fortune on makeup for Palin during September-- in addition to the "American Idol" makeup artist they already provide for McCain, which ran to over $8,600 for the month of September alone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"W" Is For Well-Done

Saw "W" last night-- and it was not what I expected. Revved up for a dose of revisionist Oliver Stone muckraking, I was surprised by a piece of relatively earnest portrayal of King George and what makes him tick.

The movie didn't make any attempt to be strictly autobiographical or even fully document recent political events (although the audience does get a few fascinating scenes of W's cabinet in the lead-up to the Iraq war and post-mortem of the WMD fiasco). Instead, the film was very much in the style of Jacob Weisberg's book, "The Bush Tragedy"-- attempting to show how various episodes in his life, as well as family dynamics (especially his relationship with his father) shaped his personality and decision-making later in life.

After years of striving for his father's attention and approval, he finally finds a surrogate in Dick Cheney-- to devastating results. In a similar fashion, W's partnership with Karl Rove is a substitute for a brotherly relationship he never had with Jeb-- accepting personal criticism from him that he never did from his own father. In the end, as W has climbed the proverbial mountain of success he cannot revel in any respect or admiration from his father-- he is only tortured by the stain he has brought on his family name.

Josh Brolin is spot-on as W, and Richard Dreyfuss scores as Cheney. Most of the cast does quite well-- avoiding caricature while nailing down the essence of their characters in the brief moments in and out of the film. The only false note was from Thandie Newton as Condi Rice. She seemed to be playing her role for strict farce, with her Rice coming off like a complete and utter toadie. Perhaps the script is to blame-- she was never given any meaningful dialogue or portrayed has having any meaningful role among the Bush inner circle. In Oliver Stone's version of Bush world, it was definitely a man's game (even W's mom-- as played by Ellen Burstyn-- comes off as more manly than Bush Sr.) Rice was continually portrayed as a spineless "yes" woman-- which, after the third or fourth time, could only provoke laughter from the audience.

I'm sure that the movie will disappoint many critics-- who, in the current political climate, will undoubtedly be hoping for a hatchet job. Even the timing of the film's release may perhaps be judged to be a detriment-- coming too late in the game as insight on the Iraq war, and too early as a coda on his presidency. Nevertheless, it's fascinating stuff and yet another brilliant performance by the underrated Josh Brolin.

Shocking (Use Of) Poll: Obama 51-49 With (Un)Likely Voters


Thanks to the eagle-eyed bloggers at fivethirtyeight.com.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mixing It Up In The South

Colin Powell's endorsement this weekend came on the heels of a disheartening reminder that Obama's biracial background continues to haunt him. Flyers like the one below continue to be fodder for McCain supporters, and a New York Times article last week liberally quoted many Southerners who wouldn't be voting for Obama because of his family heritage.

“He’s neither-nor,” said Ricky Thompson, a pipe fitter who works at a factory north of Mobile, while standing in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store just north of here. “He’s other. It’s in the Bible. Come as one. Don’t create other breeds.”

“I would think of him as I would of another of mixed race,” said Glenn Reynolds, 74, a retired textile worker in Martinsville, Va., and a former supervisor at a Goodyear plant. “God taught the children of Israel not to intermarry. You should be proud of what you are, and not intermarry.”

“He’s going to tear up the rose bushes and plant a watermelon patch,” said James Halsey, chuckling, while standing in the Wal-Mart parking lot with fellow workers in the environmental cleanup business. “I just don’t think we’ll ever have a black president.”

First Dude Gives Us Regular Dudes A Bad Name

Here's Todd Palin joining in the hate game-- at a Minnesota rally holding a sign that says, "Charles Manson Was A Community Organizer"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bush: Church-Influenced Governments Are No Good For Arabs; But They're OK For Us

In a newly disclosed legal memorandum (as reported by the New York Times), the Bush administration says it can bypass laws that forbid giving taxpayer money to religious groups that hire only people who share their faith (i.e., violate the federal civil rights laws).

The administration, in an eight-year battle to lower constitutional barriers between church and state, made the claim in a 2007 Justice Department memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel. It was quietly posted on the department’s Web site last week.

Many grant programs without explicit anti-discrimination language have been routinely exploited by the Bush administration to funnel funding to religious groups that violate civil rights laws. But the newly discovered memo goes further, saying that the government can violate the provisions of federal programs that even have explicit anti-discrimination provisions-- and give money to groups that do actually discriminate.

The memo in question approved a $1.5 million grant to World Vision, a group that hires only Christians. The memo said the government could violate anti-discrimination laws because of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which permits exceptions to a federal law if obeying it would impose a “substantial burden” on people’s ability to freely exercise their religion. No details were provided on why requiring World Vision to hire a Muslim bookkeeper (for example) would be an undue hardship on its mission to help combat youth violence (the reason it applied for the grant).

Several law professors who specialize in religious issues called the Bush administration's argument legally dubious. Ira C. Lupu, a co-director of the Project on Law and Religious Institutions at George Washington University Law School, said the opinion’s reasoning was “a very big stretch.”

Carl H. Esbeck, a University of Missouri law professor and architect of the religion-based initiative movement, defended the opinion, saying, “Why should World Vision be denied the opportunity that everyone else has to compete for funding simply because of their religion?” [note from the DD: because they violate one of our most basic civil rights laws, moron!]

In similar fashion back in 2002, the Bush administration obtained "legal" clearance (via DOJ memo) on the use of harsh interrogation techniques-- despite a federal statute and numerous previously-approved treaties forbidding torture. The legal reasoning concocted by the DOJ was strongly criticized by legal scholars after the memo was leaked to the public, and the Justice Department rescinded it.

The next administration would be free to rescind this newly-disclosed memorandum. Barack Obama has said taxpayer money should not go to programs that discriminate by faith in hiring, a condition McCain has not embraced.

Derailin' Palin

Endorsement Update


The Denver Post, which had backed George W. Bush in 2004 and is owned by Republican-leaning William Dean Singleton, has endorsed Barack Obama for president. So did the Chicago Sun-Times, the Kansas City Star, the Southwest News-Herald (Ill.) and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And the icing on the cake: two more big Bush backers in 2004-- The Salt Lake Tribune and Las Cruces (N.M) Sun-News. McCain picked up the Tampa Tribune, but this was offset by an Obama endorsement from the more influential Miami Herald.

As of Saturday, the Editor & Publisher website had Barack Obama leading McCain in major newspaper endorsements by a whopping 64-18. In case you were wondering, the photo above was from an Obama campaign appearance in St. Louis, where he drew well in excess of 100,000.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Bush Presidency: A Complete Waste?

George Bush still has about three months left on the job, but in three weeks San Francisco residents will have a chance to memorialize his presidency in a unique way.

After securing over 12,000 signatures, the San Francisco Presidential Memorial Commission won approval to put "Proposition R" on the November ballot. If passed, the legally binding measure would force officials to rename the San Francisco Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant to the "George W. Bush Sewage Plant".

No money has been raised for or against the proposal, and most people are not taking it seriously-- but local Republican Party officials are working overtime to prevent the measure from passing. Backers of the proposal have their own website, offering ready-to-print flyers and postcards for local supporters. I'll be checking back with you to let you all know if this important measure passes on election day.

Campaign Killer

Dirty Restauranteur Caught Dead To Rights

A British fast food operator has been banned from running a restaurant for life after he was cited for making kebabs while an employee's corpse lay nearby.

It all started in August when police were called to the Pappu Sweet Center in Wolverhampton, and discovered a dead body lying on a sofa at the rear of the main kitchen. Opposite the dead body was the owner/cook who was preparing food, making kebabs. The business, owned and operated by 45-year-old Jaswinder Singh was shut down immediately. The police later said the man's death was not suspicious.

According to court testimony, a nearby room contained a large number of flies which were landing on more food. There was also an "awful smell", thawing meat which was oozing blood and covered in flies, and a man smoking and spitting on the filthy floor.

Environmental health officers had cited the shop for violations several times over the previous year. During an earlier visit, officers noted a number of rat droppings and then found a dead rat underneath a cooking pot which had just been laid against a wall to dry.

In addition to a lifetime ban on operating any restaurant, Singh was ordered to pay nearly $8,000 in fines and costs. The shop is now under new management.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Nails Are Being Driven Home In McCain's Coffin

At the risk of dampening voter enthusiasm, it looks like the fat lady has begun to sing in this political drama.

First came reports that the New York Times, in this Sunday's edition, would endorse Barack Obama. OK-- no surprise there.

Then the Washington Post today came out with its endorsement of Barack Obama-- which wasn't a certainty, given Wapo's hawkishness on homeland security issues and softball coverage of the McCain campaign. One paragraph from that editorial:
The choice is made easy in part by Mr. McCain's disappointing campaign, above all his irresponsible selection of a running mate who is not ready to be president. It is made easy in larger part, though, because of our admiration for Mr. Obama and the impressive qualities he has shown during this long race. Yes, we have reservations and concerns, almost inevitably, given Mr. Obama's relatively brief experience in national politics. But we also have enormous hopes.

Then reports started coming out that Colin Powell would endorse Obama on Sunday's Meet the Press show.

But the real surprise was when the Chicago Tribune-- for the first time in its 161-year history-- endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate:
This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party's nominee for president....

The Republican Party, the party of limited government, has lost its way. The government ran a $237 billion surplus in 2000, the year before Bush took office -- and recorded a $455 billion deficit in 2008. The Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 because, as we said at the time, they gave the nation rampant spending and Capitol Hill corruption. They abandoned their principles. They paid the price.

It is hard to figure John McCain these days. He argued that President Bush's tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, but he now supports them. He promises a balanced budget by the end of his first term, but his tax cut plan would add an estimated $4.2 trillion in debt over 10 years. He has responded to the economic crisis with an angry, populist message and a misguided, $300 billion proposal to buy up bad mortgages.

McCain failed in his most important executive decision . . .Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country . . .

Next in line was the Los Angeles Times, which came out for Obama as well. They haven't bothered to endorse a presidential candidate since 1972-- and during the paper's entire 126-year existence it has never endorsed a Democrat for president. Here's a portion of what they had to say about McCain:
The presidential campaign has rendered McCain nearly unrecognizable. His selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was, as a short-term political tactic, brilliant. It was also irresponsible, as Palin is the most unqualified vice presidential nominee of a major party in living memory. The decision calls into question just what kind of thinking -- if that's the appropriate word -- would drive the White House in a McCain presidency. Fortunately, the public has shown more discernment, and the early enthusiasm for Palin has given way to national ridicule of her candidacy and McCain's judgment.


Plumbing The Depths Of Political Rhetoric

As a centerpiece of his last debate, John McCain repeatedly tied his arguments to the case of Joe the Plumber-- an actual Ohio businessman whose bonafides were apparently never vetted.

Barely a day after making plumber Joseph Wurzelbacher famous-- saying over and over again that he would be paying higher taxes under Barack Obama, McCain regretfully got the fully story on the plumber's iffy situation: he actually owes back taxes, he is not a licensed plumber, and most importantly, he makes less than $250,000 a year-- which means he would receive a tax cut under Obama's economic plan.

As Politico points out, McCain likes to say that he isn’t George W. Bush – and in this case of bungled public relations, it is clear he is not. The famously disciplined Bush campaign operation would likely have found the perfect anonymous citizen to illustrate a policy proposal, rather than spontaneously wrap itself around an unknown entity with so many asterisks. John McCain making a last-minute risky decision to embrace an unproven quantity in the hopes of scoring big? Where have we seen that before?

Secret Agents At Your Service

This week, the Secret Service (apparently) debunked the story that Palin supporters were shouting "Kill him" about Barack Obama. Folks started to wonder why the media wasn't working to discredit that report, especially since there was plenty of rally footage documenting that the threats were indeed happening.

In an online chat today, Wapo's Dana Milbank may have let slip the real reason why this story isn't getting out:

I wasn't at the Scranton event, but I have to say the Secret Service is in dangerous territory here. In cooperation with the Palin campaign, they've started preventing reporters from leaving the press section to interview people in the crowd. This is a serious violation of their duty -- protecting the protectee -- and gets into assisting with the political aspirations of the candidate. It also often makes it impossible for reporters to get into the crowd to question the people who say vulgar things. So they prevent reporters from getting near the people doing the shouting, then claim it's unfounded because the reporters can't get close enough to identify the person.

If the McCain campaign needs help making sandwiches for rally organizers, I believe the Secret Service is available.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

John McCain's Debate Prep Video

McCain Is On The Run

After pulling out of Michigan a week ago, the Republican National Committee (where most of McCain's media money is coming from nowadays) is now officially pulling out of Wisconsin and Maine. More details here.

And one more tidbit I overlooked last night-- McCain forgot to mention "middle class" yet again, making him 0 for 3 overall during the debates. As Hillary Clinton has been saying in her recent stump speeches-- People ask "who are you for?" That's not the right question. The right question is "who is for you?"

I don't think McCain is for you and me. He's not for veterans (he's voted time after time against Vet benefits). He's not for people that need health care. He's not for young people. He's not for those who want alternative energy. I'm not sure who he's for anymore.



The Adventures of Sarah Palin

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Running Commentary On The Last Presidential Debate

OK-- we're getting the handshakes out of the way and the biggest question is whether McCain will unload a truckload of mud or not. I wonder whether the big Dow drop today will turn this one into a another wonky economics lecture.

McCain keeps saying that he knows how to do this or that-- so why hasn't he already done those things the last bazillion years he's been in the Senate?

McCain got a good jab in when he said that Obama should have run four years ago if he wanted to run against Bush.

McCain is full of shit-- I've seen plenty of actual YouTube footage of his rallies this past week, and he has never corrected or admonished people shouting out-of-bounds remarks. And Palin is even worse.

John seems to be leading every answer with a slam against Obama.

Yawnnnnnnn-- I don't think most of America knows what Acorn is and who Ayers is and doesn't care either. Certainly not me. Move on, old man.

Oh boy-- Schieffer tees one up with a question on whether the VP candidates are qualified . . . and Obama lets it go by without swinging at it! Damn, I was hoping for a little carnage

What the fuck is so wrong with being eloquent? I'd much prefer to have an educated president for a change-- and certainly not one that's irritable, rude, and constantly interrupting and blinking all the goddamn time.

And enough with Joe the plumber, already. If he's anything like the plumbers I hear about (charging outrageous rates) then he's making a boatload of money and should be paying taxes and providing health care for his working grunts and office staff.

Barack, dude-- stop agreeing with McCain and saying that he's a good man!

Somewhere along the line John went from being aggressive and on his game plan to being cranky and disjointed. And what is with all that heavy breathing and snorting?

OK, John-- stop interrupting Obama, for christ's sake.

Here we go, abortion time. Hmmm . . .. I'm not so sure it's a good idea for McCain to belittle making an exception for the health of the mother

Uhhh, John--- Sarah Palin's child has Down's Syndrome, not autism.

OK, we get it, John-- you went against your party a lot. But is that why we should vote for you-- because you're disagreeable?


And the end has finally come. McCain seemed to perform better than he has before, but Obama stayed cool and calm and looked more presidential. McCain will undoubtedly win the soundbite war with the George Bush rejoinder, but I think most folks will give Obama the win on merits.

It's Official: Bush Sanctioned Torture

It's official-- Bush approved torture. Let the congressional hearings begin.

The Bush administration explicitly endorsed the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods against al Qaeda suspects in a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004, the Washington Post has reported.

The previously undisclosed classified memos were requested by then CIA Director George Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, citing administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents. A White House spokesman had no comment on the report.

According the newspaper, intelligence officials sought cover from the White House because they were worried about a possible backlash if details of the interrogation program became public.

Justice Department lawyers signed off on the agency's interrogation methods beginning in 2002, but senior CIA officials were troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing, the Post reported. Repeated requests by the CIA chief for a paper trail reflected growing worries within the agency that the administration might later distance itself from decisions about the handling of captured al Qaeda leaders, the Post said, citing former intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The officials told the newspaper Tenet first pressed the White House for written approval in June 2003 during a meeting with members of the National Security Council. A few days later, Tenet received a brief memo conveying the administration's approval for the CIA's interrogation methods, the officials were cited as saying.


Bye, Bye Doctor Beetroot

South Africa’s new health minister asked scientists at an international AIDS vaccine conference to intensify their efforts to find an AIDS vaccine amid widespread gloom over recent research setbacks.

Health Minister Barbara Hogan said government policies over the past 10 years had failed. Her speech Monday marked a radical break in policy from her predecessor Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who had downplayed the seriousness of the epidemic, mistrusted anti-AIDS medicines and instead advocated garlic and beetroot as a remedy.

Hogan became health minister two weeks ago. Her speech Monday made it clear that she will mark a complete break from the policies of her discredited predecessor.

“We know that HIV causes AIDS,” Hogan told delegates. Her declaration marked the official end to a decade of denial embodied by former President Thabo Mbeki and his health minister about the link between HIV and AIDS.


Obama Media Folks On Their Game

It's been said that the Obama media folks have been running one of the most sophisticated campaigns in recent history-- but this is yet another example of how forward-thinking they are. Reports are coming in that Obama images/ads are starting to pop up in a wave of recent Xbox videogame releases. Check it out:




Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What You Should Do With Morons: Detect 'em, Collect 'em, Inspect 'em-- but not Elect 'em

A suspected British thief who was impaled by a sharp spike on the top of a museum security fence in his rectum for two hours earlier last month says he did not feel any pain because he was drunk.

32-year-old tough man Siyanda Pasiwe denied trying to break into the museum, but claimed he had been in the museum grounds to sleep off a drinking session. Because it was late and he was drunk, he decided to go into the museum grounds to sleep it off before walking home.

“I woke up and decided to continue walking home, but when I saw a tree I thought I would be able to jump to the other side,” he told reporters. When he fell on the fence he did not feel the spike piercing his bottom and thought the fence had an electric force that was holding him to it. “I thought that the electric fence had a mechanism to keep me glued to it,” Pasiwe said.

He says he had screamed for someone to come and rescue him and not because he was in pain. Pasiwe was impaled by a 12-inch metal spike at the museum’s security fence after what police suspect was an attempt to break into the museum. The police said he probably panicked after an alarm went off, after he allegedly broke a glass door. His screams were heard by a tow truck driver who called the police and fire department.

Fire and rescue workers used an angle grinder to cut the steel spike off the fence. Medical staff at the hospital, where the spike was removed, said Pasiwe had suffered severe rectal and intestinal injuries . Apparently, there was no lasting injuries to his pride.



New McCain Strategy: Running On Hate

Sunday, October 12, 2008

One Scary Bitch

Pussy On Pussy Action

This one's a bit old, but I can't resist passing it along after reading the "Purina Pensioner" story. The sordid tale of Svetlana the lonely housewife starts out as paramedics arrive on the scene of a suspect rape incident.

Upon responding to an emergency call, they find poor Svetlana, who is suffering from unexpected bleeding. The woman's friend, who is apparently too freaked out to provide details, accompanies her friend to the hospital. ER doctors stitch up several lacerations to the woman's vagina, believing that she is the victim of a sex maniac. How wrong they would turn out to be.

When Svetlana recovered, she confessed that she had been injured while having sex with her cat. It turned out that Svetlana's husband was out of town on business, and out of boredom, she decided to visit her friend Vera. The two women had some wine and started talking about intimate matters.

Vera then kicked the party into overdrive by suggesting that they try out a little feline friskiness. Svetlana, who was terrified at first, warmed to the idea after some more wine. "Life is too short, one has to try everything!" Svetlana decided, and Vera brought in her cat Timka.

Vera took her clothes off, turned the lights down low and put some porn in the VCR. She laid down, took a bottle of valerian and poured a little onto her vagina. When the cat smelled valerian, he started licking it away, putting Vera in the state of ecstasy. "Now it is your turn, you try," Vera told Svetlana when she was done.

But when tawdry Timka started licking valerian off of Svetlana, it seems an overdose kicked in-- all of a sudden he seized the genitals of the poor woman with his claws and teeth. Svetlana screamed and tried to push the fierce feline away from her, but the cat wouldn't let go. Vera quickly threw a bucket of water on the cat and chased it out of the house.

Post script to the story: Svetlana's husband couldn't stand playing second fiddle to a cat and he divorced her.

His Master's Choice

Life is tough these days-- even for dogs, as Moscow police discovered last month. When a 66-year-old retiree went off the map for a few weeks, worried relatives went to police. After breaking down the door of the old man's apartment, they discovered only the remains of this body, which had been nearly picked clean by his pet German Shepherd.

The dog, which had gone for several weeks without food, attacked the officers as they entered through the broken-down door. The rabid animal's snout was covered with blood, as a result of its sexagenarian snacking habits.

Partial remains of the old man were found in one of the back rooms, and were difficult to identify, as his bones were scattered all over the apartment. The officers originally thought that the dog attacked and killed the master in a fit of aggression, but experts determined later that the man had died of a heart attack.

Risky Business: Part 7

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Bizarro World Of Iranian Economics

Amidst the financial wreckage around the world, the Islamic Republic of Iran is enjoying the view while it watches the the global gnashing of teeth.

"We are very happy that America's economy is in jeopardy and they are paying the price for their misdeeds. God is punishing them." That is the verdict from Ayatollah Jannati, one of the most senior clerics in Iran.

President Ahmadinejad has pronounced on the collapse of global capitalism, and announced that Iranians should stand ready to manage the world.

And for the moment, Iran does seem to be above the fray.

Shares on the Tehran stock exchange, while down slightly in recent trading, have increased in value by 20% during the year.

This is the only economy in the world - indeed possibly in world history - in which you can borrow money from the bank and then receive a higher rate of interest by depositing it in the same bank.

Ahmadinejad, who says he is proud of his ignorance of economics, also seems to believe the laws of supply and demand do not apply to the Islamic republic. He insists the large amounts of cash in the economy (excess liquidity) is in no way to blame for the spiralling rate of inflation - 25% and counting.

On top of that, construction work is beginning to grind to a halt. One real estate agent told the BBC that prices were down 20% from their peak. Hundreds of thousands of apartments are reported to be lying empty. "We are in a recession. No-one wants to buy. Demand is very low and there are many properties for sale," said the agent, Alireza Jahan.

No one will have too much sympathy for Iran's property elite. And most Iranians will be delighted at falling rents and property prices. For them, life has been tough for as long as they can remember, with high inflation and unemployment.

Next Thing You Know, Jesus Freaks Will Line Up To Worship At "Our Lady Of Jaws"

Scientists have confirmed the second-ever case of a “virgin birth” in a shark, indicating once again that female sharks can reproduce without mating and raising the possibility that many female sharks have this incredible capacity.

Scientists have proven through DNA testing that the offspring of a female blacktip shark named “Tidbit” contained no genetic material from a father. Tidbit had lived at the Virginia Aquarium in the Norfolk Canyon Aquarium for eight years since shortly after her birth in the wild.

Scientists did not even know that Tidbit was pregnant until after she unfortunately died and a necropsy was performed. “Sadness turned to surprise during the necropsy when we found that she was pregnant,” Beth Firchau, Curator of Fishes, said. “There were no male blacktips in the tank for the past eight years!”

Risky Business: Part 6

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Scoop On Troopergate: She Stooped To Conquer

The news broke late, but now we have it-- Sarah Palin violated the law.

A legislative investigation has concluded that Governor Palin abused her power in pushing for the firing of an Alaska state trooper who was once married to her sister, or by failing to prevent her husband Todd from doing so.

The report by investigator Steve Branchflower was made public late Friday by a bipartisan 12-0 vote of the Legislative Council, which authorized the investigation.

Branchflower's report contains four findings. The first concludes that Palin violated the state's executive branch ethics act, which says that "each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust."

"I feel vindicated," Walt Monegan said. "It sounds like they've validated my belief and opinions. And that tells me I'm not totally out in left field."

Not that any of this will be enough to force McCain to drop Palin; but no matter. She's a real drag on the GOP ticket anyway-- so much the better for the majority of Americans who want to see real change this fall.

As If We Needed Any Proof That We Couldn't Trust Bush

With the election less than a month away, and given how incredibly awful Bush has been as president (holding the all-time record low approval rating of 19%) it is quite understandable that most Americans have psychologically put King George in the proverbial rear-view mirror by now.

But even as we bury his presidency, I still think we should throw dirt on the coffin as it sinks into the ground.

Remember the bullshit he tried to pawn off on us when his unconstitutional wiretapping scheme came to light? He promised us that conversations between Americans wouldn't be spied upon-- and even if an American happened to be on one end of an international call, it would only be monitored if it was related to terrorism. And thanks to Bush, there would be no judicial or congressional oversight-- so we had to take his word on that. As it turns out, his word is worth crap.

According to a just-released ABC News report, hundreds of U.S. citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the National Security Agency (NSA). The phone calls of American military personnel, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and "collected on" as they called their offices or homes in the United States.

39-year-old David Faulk, one of two former intercept operators who have blown the whistle on the operation, says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to particularly juicy exchanges that were then made available on each operator's computer.

"Hey, check this out," Faulk says he would be told, "there's good phone sex or there's some pillow talk, pull up this call, it's really funny, go check it out. It would be some Colonel making pillow talk and we would say, 'Wow, this was crazy'." Faulk said he joined in to listen, and talk about it during breaks in Back Hall's "smoke pit," but ended up feeling badly about his actions.

Asked to comment on reports that intimate and private phone calls of military officers were being passed around, a U.S. intelligence official said "all employees of the U.S. government" should expect that their telephone conversations could be monitored as part of an effort to safeguard security and "information assurance."

"They certainly didn't consent to having interceptions of their telephone sex conversations being passed around like some type of fraternity game," said Jonathon Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who has testified before Congress on the Bush's warrantless surveillance program. "This story is to surveillance law what Abu Ghraib was to prison law," Turley said.

Adrienne Kinne, another former intercept operator, was recognized for her outstanding performance by the NSA at the very time she was listening to hundreds of private conversations between Americans, including many from the International Red Cross and Doctors without Borders. "We knew they were working for these aid organizations," Kinne said. "They were identified in our systems as 'belongs to the International Red Cross' and all these other organizations. And yet, instead of blocking these phone numbers we continued to collect on them."

Both Kinne and Faulk said their military commanders rebuffed questions about listening in to the private conversations of Americans talking to Americans.


Risky Business: Part 5

Thursday, October 9, 2008

But Will He Vote For Obama?

Speaking of columnists, there was a real doozy posted today by George Will. In it, he bemoans the lackluster McCain campaign and compares Sarah Palin to Cervante's uneducated sidekick to a half-crazy old coot:

Time was, the Baltimore Orioles manager was Earl Weaver, a short, irascible, Napoleonic figure who, when cranky, as he frequently was, would shout at an umpire, "Are you going to get any better or is this it?" With, mercifully, only one debate to go, that is the question about John McCain's campaign . . .

In the closing days of his 10-year quest for the presidency, McCain finds it galling that Barack Obama is winning the first serious campaign he has ever run against a Republican . . . It is less that Obama has bad ideas than that Obama is a bad person . . . This, McCain and his female Sancho Panza say, is demonstrated by bad associations Obama had in Chicago, such as with William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist.

The McCain-Palin campaign's attempt to get Americans to focus on Obama's Chicago associations seem surreal -- or, as a British politician once said about criticism he was receiving, "like being savaged by a dead sheep."

Second Wednesday At Salon

Time for more Camille!

On the campaign:
McCain is profoundly patriotic, as were his military forebears. Patriotism, rather than race, may indeed prove to be the determining factor in this election. But I simply don’t see that McCain has the basic managerial ability to run the complex Washington bureaucracy. Obama lacks executive experience too, but he has shown a shrewd ability to captain a national campaign. And Obama’s sober, deliberative temperament seems to me genuinely presidential. In contrast, McCain’s bizarre grandstanding during the Wall Street crisis (such as his embarrassingly unprofessional call for cancellation of the first debate) suggested that he lacks the steadiness of behavior and expression that we have a right to expect in a president.


On Sarah Palin:
The hysterical emotionalism and eruptions of amoral malice at the arrival of Sarah Palin exposed the weaknesses and limitations of current feminism. But I am convinced that Palin’s bracing mix of male and female voices, as well as her grounding in frontier grit and audacity, will prove to be a galvanizing influence on aspiring Democratic women politicians too, from the municipal level on up. Palin has shown a brand-new way of defining female ambition — without losing femininity, spontaneity or humor. She’s no pre-programmed wonk of the backstage Hillary Clinton school; she’s pugnacious and self-created, the product of no educational or political elite — which is why her outsider style has been so hard for media lemmings to comprehend.


On Obama:
What would concern me more about an Obama administration, given these rampant doubts, is the possibility that he would jump more readily toward war in order to prove his toughness. We don’t need more foolish military incursions, bogging us down in regions whose vicious factionalism has boiled irresolvably for 3,000 years. Where our national interest is not directly at stake, we should mind our own business. Israel, on the other hand, whose very survival might be menaced by a nuclear Iran, would always have the right of preemptive self-defense.

As always, follow the link on the top right for the full Camille!

Chinese Crisis Game Plan: Attack the Victims and Muzzle The Critics

More bullshit from the government goons in Beijing. In the midst of the tainted milk scandal (as of today, over 10,000 kids still suffering in hospitals), the Chinese authorities have reached for their old bag of tricks-- censorship and attacking the victims.

China’s Cabinet and highest government body acknowledged this week that the dairy industry was “chaotic” and had suffered from a grave lack of oversight. And while openly pledging to monitor milk products from farm to dinner table, they secretly executed a plan of a different sort. The government has imposed strict controls on media coverage of the crisis, suggesting it does not want it to become a focal point of public dismay.

And at least 14 lawyers from Henan province who have been advising victims’ families were told by officials from the provincial government’s justice department to stop their activities, Chang Boyang (one of those lawyers) told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.

“They called me and my boss at my law firm and put pressure on me,” Chang said. “They said that this has become a political issue and that I ought to follow the arrangements set out by the government.”

“If this suggestion is disobeyed, the lawyer and the firm will be dealt with,” Chang quoted the official as saying.


Risky Business: Part 4

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Inveterate Bullshit

A few notes on John McCain, who continues to believe that people should vote for him because he was a veteran.

In last week's debate, Palin went so far as to say that "John McCain knows how to win a war"; but excuse me-- which war did he win? Didn't we lose the Vietnam war? And quite frankly, from everything I read, McCain was a lousy naval pilot-- trashing four planes before he was shot down in a fifth. It seems that the only reason he was allowed to continue flying for the navy after training was nepotism (his father and grandfather were naval officers).

Even worse, current veterans have almost universally derided his treatment of fellow veterans. McCain didn't even bother to vote on the passage of the new GI bill earlier this year-- he decided it was more important to attend a San Diego fundraiser.

Today, the IAVA (a non-partisan group of veterans) gave McCain a "D" for his legislative record on veterans issues (Obama and Biden got a "B"). Not only did John McCain receive a of "D," but only one senator--Jim DeMint of South Carolina--received a lower grade. Which means that he finished second to last of 100 senators. Brother John should already know how that feels-- at the U.S. Naval Academy, McCain finished 894 out of a class of 899.

Risky Business: Part 3

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Give Us Our Fucking Jobs Back!

Former Lehman Brothers' CEO Richard Fuld, who tried to dodge blame for his company's failure during his Capitol Hill testimony, ought to be glad that his employees didn't follow the lead of employees of an Italian car parts manufacturer in India. It was there last week that the corporate world found itself in a state of shock after a mob of workers bludgeoned to death the chief executive who sacked them from a factory in a suburb of Delhi.

Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, the head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, died of severe head wounds after being attacked by scores of laid-off employees, according to press reports. The incident, in Greater Noida, followed a long-running dispute between the factory’s management and workers demanding better pay and permanent contracts.

It all started when Choudhary (who is survived by a wife and son) called a meeting with more than a hundred former employees who had been dismissed after an earlier outbreak of violence at the plant. He wanted to discuss a possible reinstatement deal. The handful of employees who were invited into the building for negotiations apparently had a different plan.

The approximately 150 people who were left waiting outside suddenly heard someone from inside shout for help. They rushed in and the two sides clashed. The company staff were heavily outnumbered, with the remaining executives claiming that they were lucky to escape with their lives. “I locked my door from inside and prayed they would not break in. See, my hands are trembling even three hours later,” one Italian consultant said.

More than 60 people were arrested and more than 20 were admitted to the local hospital following the incident. A spokesman for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said: “Such a heinous act is bound to sully India’s image among overseas investors.”

The murder has stoked fears that outbreaks of mob rule risk jeopardizing the sub-continent’s economic rise. Thousands of violent protesters recently forced Tata, the Indian conglomerate that owns Land Rover and Jaguar, to halt work on a plant being built to produce the world’s cheapest car, the $2,500 Nano. The move could result in over $400 million in investment costs being written off.

Tata stopped work three weeks ago, saying that it could not guarantee its workers’ safety at the factory in the state of West Bengal. The billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani said that the Nano crisis showed how protesters were creating “a fear psychosis to slow down certain projects of national importance”.

Desperation In The Air

In one week, Obama has picked up four battleground states on both ABC and NBC's electoral maps, which goes to explain McCain's recent dumpster-diving tactics. After decrying Republican primary campaign ads calling Obama "extreme", McCain is now embracing that approach.

While campaigning in New Mexico yesterday, McCain asked the crowd "who is Barack Obama?" Immediately, a supporter yelled "terrorist." McCain paused, but continued on without correcting or chastising the supporter.

Palin is toting the same bucket of water as well. At a campaign stop, Palin re-told the old lie that Obama is best friends with a terrorist-- saying that one of Obama's early supporters was Bill Ayers, a domestic terrorist and part of a group that launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol.". As the crowd booed, one main in the crowd shouted out, "Kill him!"

Palin failed to admonish or react against the threat, immediately saying that "Obama held one of the first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers's living room, and they've worked together on various projects in Chicago."

According to the New York Daily News, McCain and Palin's trip to the trough reflects a growing case of nerves as the electoral map has shifted significantly in Obama's favor in the past two weeks. "It's a dangerous road, but we have no choice," a top McCain strategist said. "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose."

Risky Business: Part 2

Monday, October 6, 2008

Jew-venile Vandalism

Ikea is investigating how Israel was blacked out from world maps that the Scandinavian furniture store sells in its Abu Dhabi store. Ikea Canada spokesperson Madeline Lowenborg-Frick said she suspects the maps, manufactured in France, were vandalized.

Frank Dimant, B'nai Brith Canada's executive vice-president issued a statement saying the disappearance of Israel from the maps sold in one of Ikea's stores in the United Arab Emirates "is reflective of the reality on the ground in the Arab world of most nations refusing to recognize the existence of the Jewish state."

Dimant added: "We applaud the good corporate citizenship Ikea has demonstrated by launching an immediate investigation into this matter and then pulling from its shelves maps that deliberately removed Israel's presence from the Middle East."

Lowenborg-Frick said the company is treating the situation as an isolated incident because there are no reports of anything like it happening at other Ikea locations, including its other outlet in the U.A.E. "It's not representative of the way, as a global company, we do business," she said.

Campaign 2008 By The Numbers

700,000,000,000: Dollars it takes to clean up reckless deregulation by John McCain and Phil Gramm;

25,000,000: Dollars it takes to build a road to nowhere (Sarah Palin);

18,000,000: Dollars in salary and bonuses Washington Mutual CEO Alan Fishman will earn for three weeks on the job;

300,000: Dollars it takes to dress up for a political convention (Cindy McCain);

59: Percentage of Americans who think the economy is the only issue in the presidential campaign;

25: Percentage of Americans who approve of George W. Bush's job performance (a new low);

20: In the bizarro world of Sarah Palin, the percentage of American oil that comes from Alaska

13: Number of houses that constitutes too many to keep track of (John McCain)

Risky Business: Part 1

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Touch My Phone And You Fucking Die

A 19-year-old British woman endured a 13-hour torture session at the hands of friends who thought she had stolen their mobile phone. Katie McNamara had her hair chopped off and was forced to lick her own blood off the floor after being repeatedly kicked, punched, stabbed, burned and then locked in a cupboard during a violent bashing. She was admitted to hospital for four months and her hearing was permanently damaged.

Among her attackers was Francesca Raby, 18, a former friend who had lured the victim to a house under the guise of patching up their broken friendship. Raby had earlier accused McNamara of stealing her mobile phone but called her later that day to apologize and asked her to go to a house.

When Ms McNamara arrived with another friend, Raby and her companion Kelly Louise Garrity, 26, wrenched her into the kitchen by her hair and began beating her. McNamara's friend was forced to flee the house after being threatened when she tried to intervene to stop the attack.

The pair then took McNamara in a taxi to another house, where she was also beaten by two men. Raby and Garrity burned the victim with cigarettes and hurled a kitchen knife at her before locking her in a cupboard. The two women then showed off their work to a female neighbor who visited the house the next day.

"I thought I was going to die. They were going to keep me another night if the neighbor had not turned up," McNamara told the press after Raby and Garrity were convicted on assault and false imprisonment charges.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sarah Palin's Debate Flow Chart

Another clever take on the debate from AmericaBlog's John Aravosis:


Friday, October 3, 2008

Do We Dare Put An Angry Old Man's Finger On The Nuclear Trigger?

If you had gotten the impression that John McCain is an angry man, you're not off the mark. After a McCain interview with The Des Moines Register editorial board, the editors had this to say:
You can feel it in the clenched muscles in his throat, the narrowing of his eyes, the controlled tone with which he handles a question he doesn't like, as if struggling to contain something that might spill out. We've seen that body language on TV. But around a Des Moines Register table Tuesday, the anger and tension were palpable. And unsettling.

He took frequent offense at questions, characterizing them as personal viewpoints of the questioners rather than legitimate topics . . . It takes a thick skin to be president. McCain says he is angry because "people are angry." But his behavior suggests it's more than that. Maybe it's because his poll numbers are falling, his running mate is being ridiculed and his attempt to play fixer on the bailout failed to launch. Or maybe, a more worrisome prospect, this is the real McCain - who can't deal with stressful situations without feeling attacked, who lashes out when he feels threatened.

Newspapers regularly put candidates in the hot seat. Some playfully disarm the questioner. Some deflect the question. The confident relish the chance to make their case. McCain seemed put out.

The presidency requires a special temperament. It demands statesmanship with foreign leaders, persuasiveness with Congress and calm assuredness with the public. If McCain is so flustered in an editorial meeting, how would he guide a nation in crisis?


China Discovered To Be Monitoring, Blocking Text Messages

A group of Canadian human-rights activists and computer security researchers has discovered a huge surveillance system in China that monitors and archives certain Internet text conversations that include politically charged words.

The system tracks text messages sent by customers of Tom-Skype, a joint venture between a Chinese wireless operator and eBay, the Web auctioneer that owns Skype, an online phone and text messaging service. According to the researchers, in addition to capturing the Skype messages sent between Tom-Skype users, international conversations were recorded as well, meaning that users of standard Skype software outside China were also vulnerable to the surveillance system when they had text conversations with Chinese users.

The discovery draws more attention to the Chinese government's Internet monitoring and filtering efforts, which created controversy this summer during the Beijing Olympics. Researchers in China have estimated that 30,000 or more "Internet police" monitor online traffic, Web sites and blogs for political and other offending content in what is called the Golden Shield Project or the Great Firewall of China.

The activists, who are based at Citizen Lab, a research group that focuses on politics and the Internet at the University of Toronto, discovered the surveillance operation last month. They said a cluster of eight message-logging computers in China contained more than a million censored messages. They examined the text messages and reconstructed a list of restricted words.

The list includes words related to the religious group Falun Gong, Taiwan independence and the Chinese Communist Party, according to the researchers. It includes not only words like democracy, but also earthquake and milk powder. (Chinese officials are facing criticism over the handling of earthquake relief and chemicals tainting milk powder.)

The list also serves as a filter to restrict text conversations. The encrypted list of words inside the Tom-Skype software blocks the transmission of those words and a copy of the message is sent to a server. The Chinese servers retained personal information about the customers who sent the messages. They also recorded chat conversations between Tom-Skype users and Skype users outside China. The system recorded text messages and Skype caller identification, but did not record the content of Skype voice calls.

In just two months, the servers archived more than 166,000 censored messages from 44,000 users, according to a report that was published on the Information Warfare Monitor Web site at the university.

The researchers were able to download and analyze copies of the surveillance data because the Chinese computers were improperly configured, leaving them accessible. The researchers said they did not know who was operating the surveillance system, but they said they suspected that it was the Chinese wireless firm, possibly with cooperation from Chinese police.

The Chinese government is not alone in its Internet surveillance efforts. In 2005, The New York Times reported that the National Security Agency was monitoring large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program, intended to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, that President George W. Bush approved after the Sept. 11 attacks.


VP Debate: The Results Are In

Courtesy of AmericaBlog, here is a quick rundown of reaction to last night's debate, in which Biden spoke from knowledge and experience and Sarah Palin seemed to be operating from talking points:

Huffington Post Ex-Bush Officials: Biden Won The Debate:

Torie Clarke (Bush administration and McCain staffer, on ABC): " I think Joe Biden had his best night tonight. He came with one mission, and that was to go after John McCain, and he did it, backed up by facts. I think he did a better job tonight of tying McCain to the Bush administration than Obama did last week.

Bush administration staffer Matthew Dowd on ABC, 10:52 PM: “I think fundamentally the American public came away with this tonight, just like they came away with the debate last night, saying, you know, I'm leaning in Obama and Biden's corner, and this didn't change my mind.”

CNN David Gergen: People are underestimating how good Biden was. Biden “was really good”

CNN Alex Castellanos 10:38 PM : "Republicans aren't going to win debates on Iraq, I don't care who you put on that stage tonight, we're not going to win debates on Iraq and we didn't tonight. But overall, we've had a rough week as Republicans. You know, this has not been our best week."

CBS Bob Schieffer 10:35 PM: “I must say, I thought Senator Biden had a very good night. He seemed comfortable with the facts, it was clear he has dealt with these issues over the years, I thought he put his experience on display in a very good way.”

MSNBC Chris Matthews 10:35 PM: "Not only did she say I'm not going to do any more interviews, it seemed, but she was saying, I'm not going to listen to uh Gwen Ifill tonight. She said I'm not going to uh give the answers the moderator wants to ask for. What an extraordinary statement. I'm not going to play by the rules and when I get elected I want more power in the office than it's had before. Hmm.. Not too much humility here."

CBS Bob Schieffer 10:35 PM: “I must say, I found it a little disconcerting, time and again, Governor Palin would just choose not to answer the question and launch into some dissertation, sometimes talking points, and not really address what Gwen Ifill had asked her.”

PBS David Brooks 10:39 PM: "When he talked about his family and the death of his wife, that is a moment people remember, what they remember about the debates is the moment when you think you see the person and that was a moment where I thought you saw Joe Biden."

MSNBC Andrea Mitchell 10:38 PM: "She didn't answer the questions. And, in fact, she would say, I want to talk about taxes, which hadn't even come up."

FOX News Frank Luntz 10:44 PM: When the Luntz Polling group asked independent voters their reactions, one voter said: “she had a presentation about her, but that also annoyed me, too. She catered to kind of an adorability and lacked substance.”

Washington Post (Eugene Robinson): Exactly an hour into the debate, Joe Biden began an answer by saying, "Facts matter, Gwen." To him, maybe. To Sarah Palin, maybe not. The pattern, so far, has been one of Biden presenting facts and Palin countering with… saying stuff. Sometimes she throws in a fact, but mostly she seems to be offering a string of approximate policy positions, encomiums to the American spirit, disputed interpretations of Barack Obama's record and anecdotes from Alaska.

Philadelphia Daily News (Will Bunch): Biden points out that Ahmadinjad isn't the supreme ruler of Iran -- how come people don't bring that up. Hammering McCain on the Spain issue -- the McCain camp really screwed up on the way it handled that one.

Salon (Joan Walsh) How Sarah Palin blew it: Joe Biden and Sarah Palin were talking to two different Americas Thursday night. Actually, that's unfair to Joe Biden; he was trying to talk to everyone. I can say for certain, though, that Sarah Palin was talking to – and winking at – her own private Idaho, and for long stretches of the debate, it was an unnerving experience.

Washington Post: (E.J. Dionne Jr.) McCain's Dicey Gamble: Gambling with his presidential candidacy is McCain's right. Gambling with the country McCain says he puts first is another thing entirely. And last night's vice presidential debate took place at precisely the moment when a majority of American voters decided that having Palin in line for the presidency is more than a little bit scary.

CNN (Bob Schneider): Palin’s answers do not lack confidence, they lack coherence.

Washington Post (Chris Cillizza): She pivots to executive appearance but her answer on the role of the vice presidency was REALLY bad.

TIME: Palin didn’t make any big mistakes, but she also didn’t reassure that she could handle the presidency.

Washington Post (Chris Cillizza): Palin: Looking down at her notes a lot. Really struggling.

TIME: This closing statement sounds like she's giving a speech to the College Republicans. It's really amateur hour.

Politico (Ben Smith): As this debate has gone on, Palin's gotten more abstract, Biden more concrete.

ABC News (Rick Klein): Palin: "So Joe, there you go again." Is anyone else over that line? Couldn't it have been retired with Reagan? Shout-out to third graders at her brother's elementary school? What world were we just in there for a few minutes?

CNN (Bob Schneider): Palin needs to define the terms she uses. Reform, corruption, maverick…these are words that Palin often uses, but she needs to define them.

FOX News (Aaron Bruns): Palin calls the supreme NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen David McKiernan, “McClellan.” Does it twice.

Politico (Jonathan Martin): Biden explains how McCain is not a maverick on voting for Bush's budgets, health care and education. No dispute from Palin.

TNR: Palin's final quote was from Ronald Reagan, warning that without vigilance, "you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free." In fact, Reagan was not warning about a general lack of vigilance about freedom, he was warning what would happen if Medicare was enacted.


Tough Day At Work: Part 10

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Fine Drink Of Juice

A 28-year-old Russian woman (visiting Dubai on a tourist visa) and a 30-year-old Lebanese salesman, were put on trial last month for drinking juice in a public place during the daytime.
Plainclothes police caught the duo red-handed at a gas station in Dubai.

In accordance with the Federal Penal Code of the United Arab Emirates, a public intake of food and beverages during daytime hours of the month of Ramadan is forbidden by Article 313. The article stipulates the punishment in the form of either a monetary penalty or a term of up to one month in prison.

The couple told the court that they were not Muslims and were thus unaware of the fact that their actions could be punishable. The court found the defendants guilty anyway, saying that ignorance did not exclude responsibility. The court ruled that the young people must pay the fine of 1,000 dirhems (about $300) each.

Supremely Stupid

Another appalling moment from Katie Couric's interview with Sarah Palin. In this clip, Palin can't recall a Supreme Court ruling she disagreed with. Hint: just six months ago, Governor Palin issued a public statement disagreeing with a February Supreme Court ruling (Exxon v. Baker) which cut the Exxon Valdez damages by $2.5 billion. You'd think that would be something fairly important to the state of Alaska.

Tough Day At Work: Part 9

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Getting A Read On Palin

How easy could it be to give the name of a newspaper that you read? I'll bet that she didn't regularly read ANY newspaper before being picked for VP. Whatever you do, don't miss the debate on Thursday . . .

Tough Day At Work: Part 8

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