Monday, January 31, 2005

These Kids Today...

Scary story in today's USAToday:

One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, according to a survey being released today.

The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get “government approval” of stories before publishing; 51% say they should be able to publish freely; 13% have no opinion.


Although a large majority of students surveyed say musicians and others should be allowed to express “unpopular opinions,” 74% say people shouldn't be able to burn or deface an American flag as a political statement; 75% mistakenly believe it is illegal.

I've got to say, I'm more than a little ashamed of my generation, the boomers. How did we actually raise a generation that trusts the government? What ever happened to "Question Authority"? "Don't trust anyone over thirty"? And of all possible times to go trusting the government, now, when we have the most corrupt regime since... well, ever, is NOT the right time.

It does put the Republican policy of killing education funding whenever possible in a logical context, though. If you want to raise yourself a flock of useful sheep, in the event, say, that you find yourself in sudden need of quantities of cannon fodder - well, questioning minds may not be the tools you're looking for. (Thanks to the Space Ace for the pointer.)

Friday, January 28, 2005

How weird is this?

My new cellphone is smaller than Captain Kirk's communicator.

Faux New admits it

Two TV journalists have challenged the broadcast license renewal of WTVT Fox-13 asserting it deliberately broadcast false and distorted news reports.


The challenge stems from what the reporters describe as a year-long experience working at the station where they resisted their managers who, they allege, repeatedly ordered them to distort a series of news reports about the secret use of an artificial hormone injected in dairy cattle throughout Florida and nationally.


The reporters charge in a release distributed Monday that station executives demanded the reports be falsified and slanted to avoid a threatened lawsuit by the hormone maker Monsanto, as well as potential loss of advertising from the dairy industry and others who objected to the reports.


In 1998, the two filed a civil court lawsuit seeking employee protections under the state Whistleblower Act that resulted in a $425,000 jury award to Akre.

That verdict was overturned in 2003 when an appellate court accepted Fox's defense that since it is not technically against any law, rule or regulation for a broadcaster to distort the news [emphasis added], the journalists were never entitled to employee protections as whistleblowers in the first place.

Full story here.

Fashion Report

From today's WashPost:

At yesterday's gathering of world leaders in southern Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the United States was represented by Vice President Cheney. The ceremony at the Nazi death camp was outdoors, so those in attendance, such as French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin, were wearing dark, formal overcoats and dress shoes or boots. Because it was cold and snowing, they were also wearing gentlemen's hats. In short, they were dressed for the inclement weather as well as the sobriety and dignity of the event.

The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.

Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children's clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the vice president looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults.

Like other attendees, the vice president was wearing a hat. But it was not a fedora or a Stetson or a fur hat or any kind of hat that one might wear to a memorial service as the representative of one's country. Instead, it was a knit ski cap, embroidered with the words "Staff 2001." It was the kind of hat a conventioneer might find in a goodie bag.


Just last week, in a frigid, snow-dusted Washington, Cheney sat outside through the entire inauguration without so much as a hat and without suffering frostbite. And clearly, Cheney owns a proper overcoat. The world saw it during his swearing-in as vice president. Cheney treated that ceremony with the dignity it deserved -- not simply through his demeanor, but also through his attire. Would he have dared to take the oath of office with a ski cap on? People would have justifiably considered that an insult to the office, the day, the country.

And we thought George was the embarrassing one... Read the article to see a photo - not only is Dick in a huge playground parka, the hood looks like some kind of weird stand-up fur collar like something the Evil Queen from Snow White would wear.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Still around

BTW, I'm still around. First I got real busy and then I got the Creeping Crud that's Going Around. Living on thyme tea and OJ and surrounded by squashed kleenex, but I'm still around.

Family Values

From The Smoking Gun:

Meet Douglas Dycus. The 40-year-old Florida man was charged yesterday with felony child abuse and domestic battery for allegedly using a stun gun to discipline his 14-year-old son. Dycus, an engineer with a Palm Beach firm, admitted to cops that he used the electrical device on the boy when the child was wrestling with a brother and holding up the family's departure from their home last month. Instead of pulling the boys apart, Dycus--who said the children were "not listening"--went to his dresser drawer and pulled out the stun gun, which he used to zap his son on the arm. The child let out a scream and then "got into the vehicle," according to a Martin County Sheriff's Office report. The victim told a child welfare investigator that Dycus shocked him twice, pointing to marks the device left on his arm and abdomen. The stun gun was recovered from Dycus's Palm City home after sheriff's investigators filed the below search warrant affidavit.

Hey, when Dad says get in the car, you'd better get in the car, buster.

Why they hate us

They hate us because we're free? How 'bout because we're disgusting pigs?

Female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay by sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case smearing a Saudi man's face with fake menstrual blood, according to an insider's written account.


"I have really struggled with this because the detainees, their families and much of the world will think this is a religious war based on some of the techniques used, even though it is not the case," the author, former Army Sgt. Erik R. Saar, 29, told AP.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Funniest line in a NYT editorial in maybe forever: "It's not that Dr. Dobson has a problem with Mr. SquarePants per se."

Friday, January 21, 2005

Pillars of Creation

Soon to be invisible to us, so that we can give tax-cuts to George Bush's closest friends.

I could puke.

WH plans to scuttle Hubble

Further demonstrating their animosity to science and learning, the Adminstration is proposing that rather than be serviced, the Hubble Space Telescope be 'safely de-orbited'.

Lofted into orbit on April 24, 1990, Hubble is doing some of its best science ever, astronomers say, because previous upgrades by spacewalking astronauts have made its suite of instruments ever more powerful. It has long outlived its initial mission scope.

There is no other telescope, currently operating or planned, on the ground or in space, that can see as far into the universe in visible light with Hubble's consistency, astronomers agree. The James Webb Telescope -- the closest thing to a Hubble replacement -- is planned for launch in the next decade. It will be an infrared observatory, however, and won't record visible light.

I guess they don't like the constant reminder that the earth is a sphere and goes around the sun. Watch for the 'spherical earth' theory to be banned in Kansas school system texts next.

Posted without comment

TSA Yanks Terrorist Off Plane -- The One That Was Deporting Him

Thanks for the tip, Ace. You were right; I can't top this.

Now he tells us

Hail Satan:

The Prince of Heck shows his true allegiance, in case anyone was in doubt.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Yet More Art

I call this one 'Shirt'. Heh.

I actually do paint other things, btw. If these waterlilies behave, perhaps I can prove it...

New series of bumperstickers

Herewith, a new series of bumperstickers:

All available, of course, in The Wonkery.

On Social Security

BTW, if I haven't had a lot to say on the on-going attempted heist of SS by the Admin, it's because Josh Marshall pretty much owns the story. If you're interested in what's going on politically on the Social Security front, you should be reading Talking Points Memo daily.

Holy Shit

Just so you know what all is up for consideration in this year's Great Social Security rip-off, Bill Thomas (R-of course) has this:

Perhaps most provocatively, Thomas said lawmakers should debate whether Social Security benefits should differ for men and women, because women live longer. "We never have debated gender-adjusting Social Security," he said. A House leadership official said that not even Republicans on Thomas's committee would vote for that idea. Thomas also said the system might take into account the need of blue-collar workers to retire younger than office workers.
Translation: Women are less important than men and more likely to vote Democrat. Let's see you suggest that blue collar workers (more likely to vote Republican) not only get to retire earlier, they get less benefits because, hey, they got to retire earlier. Yeah, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting to hear a Republican suggest that.

I've got a better idea, Bill. Since men are more likely to be criminals, losers and spendthrifts than women, they should have lower benefits so that to live comfortably, they'll have to attach themselves to some woman who might keep them out of trouble.

But all men aren't criminals, losers and spendthrifts, you say? Well, hey, not all women live longer than all men - we're talking statistics now.

Well, you started it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Homeland Security sez HA-HA, FOOLED YOU

From today's WashPost:

In April, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced that al Qaeda terrorists might strike during this week's presidential inauguration festivities in Washington. The warning was part of a drumbeat sounded by U.S. officials throughout 2004 that terrorists were seeking to launch attacks both during and after the election season.

Nine months later, the threat level has been lowered, and Ridge, speaking at a news conference last week, said there is no evidence of a plot to disrupt President Bush's inauguration. Previous warnings, Ridge explained, stemmed from threat reports tied to the elections -- not to the inauguration more than two months later.


The change in posture also illustrates the extent to which sketchy scraps of wiretap information, interrogation reports and other intelligence, known colloquially as "chatter," form the basis for much of the government's analysis of the terrorism threat. It underscores a simmering political debate over whether last year's warnings were influenced by a presidential campaign in which national security figured prominently.

No, dummy, it doesn't underscore the debate, it pretty much settles it. To wit, they don't need frightened masses anymore, so hey, peasants, let's party! Just don't try to look at the Divinely Anointed One (see below).

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Peasants may not look at the king

Via Newsfare, this cautionary tale:

Thousands of performers - marching bands, color guards, pompon dancers, hand bell-ringers, drill teams on horseback and Civil War re-enactors - will be bused early in the morning to the Pentagon parking lot across the Potomac in Virginia. While performers disembark and go through metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs will search the buses.

Then everybody will get back on the buses for a trip to the National Mall, where they will spend most of the day in heavily guarded warming tents. Participants have been warned that they will not be allowed to leave the tents except to go to portable toilets accompanied by a security escort.

Other instructions given performers include a warning not to look directly at Bush while passing the presidential reviewing stand, not to look to either side and not to make any sudden movements.

Apparently nobody told George that even a cat can look at a queen.

A learning moment

From an interview in the WashPost:

President Bush said the public's decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath.

"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. "The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

Shorter Bush: "You had your chance, suckers. HAAAAA-ha-ha-ha."

Guess what, America? Any future fuck-ups from the boy-king? Your fault.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Gimme Vhiskey, Baby

... und don't be steengy.

After a lengthy hiatus, Billmon's Whiskey Bar is back open for business.

Belly up to the bar, boys.

The Power of Myth

The 'myth' of global warming, that is. Tell it to the bears:

Temperatures in north-west Russia are so mild this week that they are disrupting bears' sleep in St Petersburg's zoo, local media say.

A zoo official told Interfax news agency that a black bear had woken from hibernation, while a brown bear had still not gone to sleep for the winter.

Temperatures have reached record highs of seven degrees celsius in some areas.

The unusual warmth, accompanied by heavy winds and rain, has melted river ice and caused flooding in the city.


Itar-Tass news agency reports that wild bears, badgers and hedgehogs are also waking up from the long winter sleep in Belarus.

Sleep-deprived badgers can get cranky.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Uncovering genius

As an antidote to all the posts about the idiots in charge of the US, I offer: Discovery of hidden laboratory sheds light on Leonardo's genius

Researchers have discovered the hidden laboratory used by Leonardo da Vinci for studies of flight and other pioneering scientific work in previously sealed rooms at a monastery next to the Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata, in the heart of Florence.

The workshop rooms, located between the Institute for Military Geography and the Basilica, contain frescos painted by Leonardo that have "impressive resemblances" to other examples of his experimental work. The frescos include a triptych of birds circling above a subsequently erased representation of the Virgin Mary that "constitutes a clear citation of the studies by the maestro on the flight of birds", the three researchers, Alessandro del Meglio, Roberto Manneschalchi and Maria Carchio, said yesterday.

Who wants to sponsor a fieldtrip?

From the Now They Tell Us files

WashPost article headline says it all - Search for Banned Arms In Iraq Ended Last Month

The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.

In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.

Four months after Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, a senior intelligence official said the findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published this spring.

Dare I hope that the tone of this piece indicates that the press might, just might, stop treating the Bush Regime with the credulity and kid gloves that have hitherto marked their coverage?

... naaaah.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Payola: the sin is getting caught

From ABC:

McClellan said he knew of no other contract in the administration like the one Williams had. He also hinted that Williams shared the blame.

"There are also questions about whether or not this commentator should have been disclosing the information publicly," McClellan said.

First question to ask when you hear a pundit/commentator speaking approvingly of nonsensical adminstration policies: "how much is he/she getting paid to say that?"

At least we're finally starting to get the context to make sense out of the editorial positions of many of our leading newspapers.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

By request

The Wonkery now stocks Annoy a Conservative tees and mugs.

A true Meritocracy

Keep in mind that Jeb Bush is considered the dynasty's heir to the throne of the empire...

The day after Gov. Jeb Bush fired a top official over sexual harassment allegations, Bush's office confirmed it had hired a former journalist who resigned in November following public allegations of plagiarism and sexual harassment.

Lloyd Brown, 65, resigned his position as editorial page editor of the Florida Times- Union in Jacksonville on Nov. 2 after a newspaper said its review found instances of plagiarism in some of the editorials Brown had written.

The plagiarism review was sparked after a former Times- Union editorial writer, Billee Bussard, wrote a lengthy article in Folio Weekly, a Jacksonville weekly newspaper.

In the article, titled "Porn, Hypocrisy, Plagiarism: The Dark Side of Jacksonville's Daily," Bussard wrote that Brown viewed Internet pornography in the paper's office, and she said he conducted sexual conversations on the telephone while viewing the pornography in the workplace.


The governor's office was aware of the article alleging that Brown had viewed pornography in the Times-Union office, DiPietre said. "We brought it up to Lloyd. He relayed that there were no merits to the allegations," DiPietre said.


"The fact that we take sexual harassment allegations very seriously here proves that the allegations of sexual harassment made against Lloyd have no merit," DiPietre said. [emphasis added]

Full story here.

Please note the useful tool deployed in the last quoted paragraph. Talk about being washed in the blood of the lamb! "We know the accused is innocent because we deplore that kind of thing and we hired him so it must not be true."

Thanks to the Space Ace for the tip.

Friday, January 07, 2005

You make the call

Man, there's just so many to choose from.... Here's the question - What has the potential for the most lingering damage to the United States:

1.) The continued destruction of our Army?

2.) Proving to the world that the US is quite comfortable with torture as a tool by approving Torquemada Gonzales as Attorney General?

3.) Destroying the security of the elderly to give a big gift to Wall Street?

4.) Destroying the security of the middle class by tinkering with the tax code to pay off corporate admin cronies?

Damn, the newspaper makes for some scary reading these days.

Reminder: Tip the Angel

Getting shameless, I am... just a brief reminder that I offer two ways to show your appreciation to the Prairie Angel; the Paypal tip jar and the Amazon tip jar. Scroll down to December 30th for my tale of car-related financial woes. And a very mushy thank-you to my donors to date.

I sold twelve books on ebay this week for circa fifty dollars; found another twenty-eight books thrifting that I shall be listing this week. Also a dozen or so from my overstuffed library that I haven't looked at in decades... clear the clutter, free the chi...

Other bloggers have already mentioned this, but it deserves harping on, I think. Armstong Williams has been paid approximately a quarter of a million dollars to tout the Admin's bogus 'no child left behind' scam. So why isn't anyone offering me a like deal? I'm MUCH more reasonable - for a modest stipend of, say, a thousand a week, I will promote any liberal or progressive cause I believe in on a forun that can theoretically reach the entire world! Can't say fairer than that, can you?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Anti-Woodstock

If you could ask every person in the US right now, you would find millions of people who claim that they were among the half-a-million who attended Woodstock. My sister makes the following fearless prediction - thirty years from now, you will only be able to find a few thousand people who will admit they voted for George Bush (and they'll be the ones who can't deny it, having said so on record contemporaneously). Most of the admitted Bush voters will regret it.

No news, just more art...

I really like this one - it came out better than I expected. Still pastels:

You starting to see the theme of my oeuvre? (I hope I'm not embarrassing anyone...)

Monday, January 03, 2005

Learning from the Lama

Today's WashPost:

Brain research is beginning to produce concrete evidence for something that Buddhist practitioners of meditation have maintained for centuries: Mental discipline and meditative practice can change the workings of the brain and allow people to achieve different levels of awareness.


"What we found is that the longtime practitioners showed brain activation on a scale we have never seen before," said Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the university's new $10 million W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior. "Their mental practice is having an effect on the brain in the same way golf or tennis practice will enhance performance." It demonstrates, he said, that the brain is capable of being trained and physically modified in ways few people can imagine.


The new findings are the result of a long, if unlikely, collaboration between Davidson and Tibet's Dalai Lama, the world's best-known practitioner of Buddhism. The Dalai Lama first invited Davidson to his home in Dharamsala, India, in 1992 after learning about Davidson's innovative research into the neuroscience of emotions. The Tibetans have a centuries-old tradition of intensive meditation and, from the start, the Dalai Lama was interested in having Davidson scientifically explore the workings of his monks' meditating minds. Three years ago, the Dalai Lama spent two days visiting Davidson's lab.

The Dalai Lama ultimately dispatched eight of his most accomplished practitioners to Davidson's lab to have them hooked up for electroencephalograph (EEG) testing and brain scanning. The Buddhist practitioners in the experiment had undergone training in the Tibetan Nyingmapa and Kagyupa traditions of meditation for an estimated 10,000 to 50,000 hours, over time periods of 15 to 40 years. As a control, 10 student volunteers with no previous meditation experience were also tested after one week of training.


Both groups were asked to meditate, specifically on unconditional compassion. Buddhist teaching describes that state, which is at the heart of the Dalai Lama's teaching, as the "unrestricted readiness and availability to help living beings." The researchers chose that focus because it does not require concentrating on particular objects, memories or images, and cultivates instead a transformed state of being.

Davidson said that the results unambiguously showed that meditation activated the trained minds of the monks in significantly different ways from those of the volunteers. Most important, the electrodes picked up much greater activation of fast-moving and unusually powerful gamma waves in the monks, and found that the movement of the waves through the brain was far better organized and coordinated than in the students. The meditation novices showed only a slight increase in gamma wave activity while meditating, but some of the monks produced gamma wave activity more powerful than any previously reported in a healthy person, Davidson said.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


From the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave to the Land of Lifelong Detention and the Home of Formless Fear and Hatred. Today's WashPost has an alarming article on the potential fate of our prisoners at Guantanamo and elsewhere. Forget everything you thought you could trust to always be true about America and read this:

Administration officials are preparing long-range plans for indefinitely imprisoning suspected terrorists whom they do not want to set free or turn over to courts in the United States or other countries, according to intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials.

The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime detentions, including for hundreds of people now in military and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts...

As part of a solution, the Defense Department, which holds 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, plans to ask Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence, according to defense officials.

The new prison, dubbed Camp 6, would allow inmates more comfort and freedom than they have now, and would be designed for prisoners the government believes have no more intelligence to share, the officials said. It would be modeled on a U.S. prison and would allow socializing among inmates.


The administration considers its toughest detention problem to involve the prisoners held by the CIA. The CIA has been scurrying since Sept. 11, 2001, to find secure locations abroad where it could detain and interrogate captives without risk of discovery, and without having to give them access to legal proceedings.

I repeat: detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence.

You can see their point, of course. If they let them go, the world will quickly hear all about how the US treated them in captivity. What to do, what to do?

Keep in mind that there were teens as young as fifteen who were captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. So we're talking about detention camps in operation for up to eighty-ninety years. And of course there's all the new detainees we will no doubt be picking up in Iraq, Iran and Syria.

This is a sign of an administration that believes it will never be out of power. In fact, I make a fearless prediction; the moment it begins to look like they may lose control of the government, a shocking series of 'accidents' at Gitmo will lead to enormous loss of life - a chemical accident a la Bhopal, for example. I suspect the recent Asian disaster is starting to give people ideas for cheaper 'solutions' to the long-term detention problem.

Fifty-one percent of the US population will be complicit in this. They will have succeeded where the terrorists failed, in destroying the United States of America. The rotting husk that remains won't be worthy of the name.

Time Magazine in love

Atrios points us to this article, but he chose not to quote the Best Part. I, however, don't shield my readers from spoilers... we're all grownups; avert your eyes if you don't want to ruin the thrill of reading the article yourself...The subject is Time Magazine's whoredom in picking Bush as Person of the Year:

One even senses that this avalanche of overwrought power worship is inspired by the very fact of George Bush's being such an obviously unworthy receptacle for such attentions. From beginning to end, the magazine behaves like a man who knocks himself out making an extravagant six-course candlelit dinner for a blow-up doll, in an effort to convince himself he's really in love.

Heh. This actually explains Bush voters for me.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

First sign of the Apocalypse

Agreeing with Pat Buchanan.



I know the comments appear to be broken, but they're really just very very slow. Leave the blank popup window opened for a while and the comments and input block will eventually appear.

First Post of the Year!

Just had to get one post in before crashing to see the '05 show up on the archive list...

I didn't get out of the store until after 1 AM tonight - we were opened until midnight and were mobbed, thanks to Leesburg's First Night celebration down at the Courthouse a half a block away. Good times were had by all.

For your morning reading, I recommend Jared Diamond's essay in today's NYT, on the collapse of civilizations. Pertinent quote:

Why weren't these problems obvious to the Maya kings, who could surely see their forests vanishing and their hills becoming eroded? Part of the reason was that the kings were able to insulate themselves from problems afflicting the rest of society. By extracting wealth from commoners, they could remain well fed while everyone else was slowly starving.

What's more, the kings were preoccupied with their own power struggles. They had to concentrate on fighting one another and keeping up their images through ostentatious displays of wealth. By insulating themselves in the short run from the problems of society, the elite merely bought themselves the privilege of being among the last to starve.

Diamond is the author of the must-read 'Guns, Germs and Steel' (I'll look up the link tomorrow - too tired tonight), and has a new book out on the subject of why civilizations fall. (Ahem - it's recently been added to my Amazon wishlist, wink, nudge...)