Saturday, December 16, 2006

We are Ever Safer with the Current Regime than we Would Ever be with Spineless Liberal Democrats

Of course, people leaving the U.S. by land isn't the greatest threat to this nations' security but this shows how concerned Our Leaders are when it comes to actually, you know, acting.

You'd almost think this is a joke....
The Bush administration on Friday defended its decision to postpone a plan to track foreign visitors as they leave the country by land. * *

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he still intends to implement the tracking program, but the department currently does not have a viable system to track people crossing into Canada and Mexico by land.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who will chair the Judiciary subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security, said in a statement that she was dismayed by the department's decision.

''This failure, which follows on delay after delay since 1996, essentially means that there will be no exit-monitoring system at the nation's 50 busiest land border crossings,'' Feinstein said.

At a midday news conference, Chertoff said the department's ''priorities have been tailored to the highest risk.''

''The highest priority is to keep terrorists out of the country,'' he said. ''If we keep them out in the first place we don't have to worry about them staying over.''

Chertoff's comment followed a report by congressional investigators that said another five to 10 years will be needed to develop technology record and track travelers leaving the United States by land without major disruptions at border crossings.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, in an interview with The Associated Press, expressed surprise at the development, and said that the program's former head, Jim Williams, had a pretty clear vision of where he thought the program had been headed.

In a report released Thursday, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the entry portion of the Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology program, known as US-VISIT, has been installed at most of the nation's land borders with minimal disruption.

Link (emphases added).

How an electorate can put up with such relentless, endless crap eludes....

The Genius of Donald Rumsfeld: What We Shall Miss. Maybe but Doubtfully

Today it should be clear that not only is weakness provocative, but the perception of weakness on our part can be provocative as well.

Exactly so.

Which is why you don't make threats you can't or won't or shouldn't back up.

Rummy and the rest of the nutjobs painted us into a fine corner resulting in one the worse-planned -- to the extent it was planned with any care for anything past the first few weeks -- military adventures ever.

What Rummy brought us was, to say the very least, a great disservice to our country. Although one say so inept a perfomance in so important a job could well be characterized as treason. And the appointment of Rummy and his gang can well be argued to be a ground for impeachment.

The Way the World Works: Our Dysfunctional Leader

A family intervenes with its scion, a moronic, alcohol- and/or drug-abusing wastrel who then accepts Jesus in his heart, yada yada yada. (Note that he talks the talk but to date has never demonstrated his commitment to his God.)

Having (he claims) accepted his God, he's now too good to listen to the family whose intervention saved him.


Of course, it's somewhat more complicated. Scope of the intervention isn't truly known. And to the extent there was one, it was daddy's doing. And the ne'er-do-well is really his mommy's boy -- and she is pig-headed and pretty much pig-brained.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Iraq Jokes!?!?!?!?

At least IraqSlogger runs jokes. This one came very close to making me laugh:
A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. Suddenly a man knocks on his window. The driver rolls down his window and asks, "What's going on?"

"Terrorists down the road have kidnapped George W. Bush and Dick Cheney," the man says, "They're asking $100 million ransom. Otherwise they're going to douse them with gasoline and set them on fire. We're going from car to car taking up a collection."

The driver asks, "How much is everyone giving on average?"

The man responds: "Most people are giving about a gallon."
And there's this one:
An Iraqi guy has a new girlfriend and wants to know whether she is Sunni or Shia. But he is too shy to ask directly. Finally he asked her, "where does your family bury your corpses?"

Everything You Want to Know about Iraq?

Maybe here.

Great Moments in Leadership

Gee, it is really a tragedy to lose legislative leadership like this:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) -- head of the do-nothing Republican Senate -- took to the chamber's floor on Thursday to tick off a list of nine legislative accomplishments made by the GOP in the last Congress. Here are some of Frist's proudest moments:

"We passed legislation securing the right to prayer in U.S. military academies.

"We passed legislation protecting the Mount Soledad Memorial Cross.

"We passed the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, which allows for the 10- fold increase of FCC fines for indecency violations.

"We passed Cord blood legislation that harnesses the power of stem cells in cord blood to develop new cures for life-threatening diseases.

"We passed the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act, which prohibits the gestation of fetal tissue in order to use it for research.

"We passed the Stem Cell Research Alternatives bill, which provides federal funding for a variety of stem cell research that do not involve destroying human embryos."

They didn't do squat about little things like jobs, health care, the environment or performing even a shred of oversight on the executive branch of government -- but, by God, they saved a cross, cracked down on those ten-thousand-acre fetus farms springing up all over Kansas and made sure TV stations will pay through the nose if we ever see Janet Jackson's nipple again.


Then we had the ever-goofy, Rick Santorum (R-PA) who, when talking about the Iraq quagmire in his final days as a U.S. Senator, blamed the media for reporting the news on the war...

"Let’s look at other interested parties as we look at how we solve the problem in Iraq and dealing with Iran. The American media seems to be very focused and spends a lot of time talking about how poorly things are going in Iraq," said Santorum. "They report daily — not just recently but repeatedly for the past 3 years, daily — the body count in Iraq. It is the lead and has been virtually every single day for 3 years."


Santorum didn't have much to say about the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) he claimed to magically uncover in Iraq over the summer, while trying to shore up support for the war... It must have been that the "WMD" were shell casings that were buried at least back in the first Gulf War, followed by the fact that the Defense Department, the CIA and the White House all said the casings were not relevant to the current conflict.

Holiday Gift Guide

A game that teaches good old Xian intolerance.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Movement -- In Some Direction....

U.S. policy in the Middle East is staggering toward the abyss along a path marked in the past few days by the Saudi ambassador's abrupt resignation and George W. Bush's postponement of a major speech on the Iraq War. It's increasingly apparent that Bush has no intention of changing direction despite prospects for a region-wide conflict. As the crisis worsens, some hidden history is relevant as are thoughts on what a creative path forward might look like.

Why We Love St. John McCain

He loves blogs and freedom of speech -- not.

Lovely Good News from Iraq; Or: Our Leaders Brilliantly Bringing Instability to the Mid-East

When Saudi leaders summoned Dick Cheney to Riyadh for a "come to Jesus" talk last month, this is what they had to tell him: If the United States pulls out of Iraq, leaving the Sunni minority at the mercy of Shiite death squads and handing Iran a free pass for further influence there, the Saudis may decide to start funding the Sunni insurgency.

As the Times explains, the Saudis have been "wary of supporting Sunnis in Iraq because their insurgency there has been led by extremists of al-Qaida, who are opposed to the kingdom’s monarchy. But if Iraq’s sectarian war worsened, the Saudis would line up with Sunni tribal leaders."

Let's say that again slowly. With his ill-advised war in Iraq, George W. Bush has now created a situation in which one of his closest allies in the Middle East may decide to side with al-Qaida in Iraq -- even though al-Qaida would like to see its government overthrown.

No wonder it's taking so long for the new "way forward."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Who Cares? Does it Really Matter?

It'd be just another lie, about W being clean and sober. Besides, wouldn't it really being expecting too much, at this point, that a pissant like Our Leader, so unqualified, so in-over-his-head, mightn't fall off the wagon?

We report, fair and balanced; you decide!!

Links to videos are here.

A Request

I am of course against impeachment; too many guys to get rid of to rid us of the cancer that is this administration. Getting rid of Our Leader would accomplish nothing -- at least nothing good. The wingnuts would get even crazier and the policies would stay the same. (Of course, I'm also against any precipitous withdrawal from Iraq so, yeah, I'm something of a heretic.)

All that said, a request for those who might be interested....


A Report from the Heart of the Empire

Redmond, I mean, home to Micro$oft, exemplar of forcing God-awful products on people, an exemplar of the inherent flaw of the radical rightist bidness model: forcing a product is paramount, the product's essence, as it were is irrelevant. (An example: When M$ rips off Apple, it's to steal an idea or make an interface too pretty to work easily, never to copy the structure of an idea. Zune is a perfect example: it's success will be based on its link to Windows, not because of any inherent, actual goodness. Or Aero: damn pretty, just can't really look at it to use as a, you know, actual GUI.)

So here's the report:
I went to work before the appetizers were served at the opening supper by asking event organizer Nick White (whose business card describes him as "Product Manager, Windows Marketing Communications") why I should trust a company whose CEO consistently threatens to sue me and other Linux users over unspecified patent violations.

"That's history," Nick said. "We're trying to move forward."

"I was referring to some comments Steve Ballmer made just a week or two ago," I said.

"Well, that's not really anything I can comment on," he replied. "I'm a product marketing guy."

This was the kind of answer I got to all the hard questions I asked, including several suggested by Pamela Jones of Groklaw. None of the Microsoft people I met had anything to say about their deal with Novell, working with the Open Document Format (ODF), acceptance of the GNU General Public License (GPL) as a legitimate software license, how DRM built into Vista may anger users, or other topics I thought might interest you.
Like any rightist organization, a great deal of energy goes into denial of reality. Some would call it delusional paranoia....
I came away with a sense that Microsoft doesn't currently have a clear sense of what Microsoft should be and where Microsoft should be going.


But there are also many people who don't like Microsoft. Some dislike the company because of its poor record on software security (and, all too often, poor software quality in general), some dislike its business practices, and others have other reasons. You might even go so far as to say that many computer users merely tolerate Microsoft even as they use its products, and that some of the company's customers might even revile it but feel they have no choice besides Microsoft's software.

Imagine working for a company that is tolerated, at best, in many social circles. Imagine being a computer science graduate, going to a class reunion, telling people you work for Microsoft, and watching your former classmates slowly back away as if you'd just told them you had a venereal disease.

Microsoft is not short of smart, hard-working employees. I'm sure that in many ways it's a great place to work. I also think, from what I heard during my visit and what other Microsoft employees and customers have told me at other times, that it has degenerated into a series of disconnected fiefdoms that aren't all moving in the same direction.
Loads more here.

Man(que) With a Plan

Almost four years after the invasion -- of course, back then, the concern was with cooking intel and spread known lies -- Our Leaders inch closer to finally having a plan after fifteen years of nation-destruction:
White House press secretary Tony Snow said today that the president won't be announcing his not-staying-the-course strategy until sometime in early 2007.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Journal Asks

Why was Pinochet more hated than every other dictator?

Probably because he gave a bad conscience to almost everybody across the political spectrum. For the left, he symbolized the tragic consequences of the Third World's socialist utopia. For the right, he embodied the diabolical temptation to dispose with the rule of law when the political institutions of democracy are tested to the limit. For Latin American democrats of the left and of the right, he was a walking reminder of their own failure to bring about economic prosperity. For free marketers, he was that ugly example of economic success and political repression that used to make it so hard to defend free markets without appearing to condone torture and mass murder. And for human-rights groups, he was, until the discovery of his hidden fortune in 2004, the "ethical" dictator who could be accused of many things but not corruption.

To which, let me add: Overthrowing a democratically-elected government, taking away freedom and engaging in mass killing... well, maybe that makes a populace more unhappy than one oppressive dictator replacing another. And, as an aside, Castro was some sort of improvement for many Cubans over his predecessors.

Tech "D'uh" Duh Jour; Our Periodic Windows Bashing

Windows Vista Security Not a Big Improvement
Let's parse this: M$ wants in on the anti-virus-/spy-/malware business. How better than to make Vista better enough to be a selling point but still pretty crappy?

We Have a Plan, At Least We Have a Plan Today!

The sheer genius we can count on from Our Beloved Leader:
George W. Bush, after meeting on Iraq today with State Department officials: "I'm looking forward to continuing my deliberations with the military. There's no question we've got to make sure that the State Department and the Defense Department are -- the efforts and their recommendations are closely coordinated so that when I do speak to the American people, they will know that I've listened to all aspects of government, and that the way forward is the way forward to achieve our objective: to succeed in Iraq. And success is a country that governs, defends itself, that is a free society, that serves as an ally in this war on terror."

And one of his supporters has a pretty brilliant plan too:
Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback says the United States should do more than just engage with Syria and Iran: We should ship Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice over there until everything is better. "We've been very patient with this, and we've invested a lot," Brownback said Sunday on Fox. "I do think as well it's time for us to put diplomatic pressure to the point where you just park the vice president and secretary of state in the region. It's shuttle diplomacy going back and forth between the countries that will receive us, really pushing on them to stop funding things into Iraq and start working with us, because they don’t need a civil war in that region either, and to really have them start coming to the table instead of just sitting back and even hurting the situation inside of Iraq."

And Dear Leader has a second plan as well: betrayal and further instability:
When George W. Bush declared Nouri al-Maliki "the right guy for Iraq," the Iraqi prime minister probably should have seen this coming: As the Associated Press reports, "major partners" in Iraq's governing coalition are angling to oust al-Maliki as prime minister.

The AP doesn't come right out and say that the Bush administration is pushing for al-Maliki's ouster, but it does take note of the fingerprints that seem to be there. The administration has criticized al-Maliki for not doing enough to stop sectarian violence in his country. The leader of the new alliance -- but probably not the next prime minister -- is likely to be Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who met with Bush last week in Washington. And, as the AP says, another "key figure" in the alliance, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, will meet with Bush Tuesday -- three weeks before he was originally scheduled to do so.

An aide to al-Maliki tells the AP: "We know what's going on, and we will sabotage it." Maybe that's right -- it wouldn't take much to "sabotage" much of what the Bush administration has done in Iraq -- but is anyone else seeing the inevitable White House logic on this? Blame al-Maliki for all of Iraq's woes, prop up someone else in his place, then declare that the new government is going to need more time to stand up. Remember: The only way to lose is to quit before the job is done.

And Our Leader has a message for us:


Sunday, December 10, 2006

An End to the War, Not that War, the One that Matters!

An Exit Strategy for the War on Christmas
By Barbara Ehrenreich, AlterNet
Posted on December 9, 2006, Printed on December 10, 2006

As a dedicated secular humanist, I must regretfully acknowledge that the War on Christmas has not been going well. Some would use the word "quagmire," and urge a phased redeployment to other fronts, like Easter and Mardi Gras.

Others argue that we simply need more boots on the ground, and that our allies, such as the ACLU, have not been fielding sufficient troops. I say we have only ourselves to blame, and that -- however noble our intentions -- we haven't been putting up much of a fight.

Take me, for example. I had big plans for the season: I was going to spray paint the local church crèches with atheist graffiti, sue my town over the lights on Main Street, let termites loose on the mega-tree at Rockefeller Center, and start rumors about an E. Coli infestation of the nation's fruitcake supply.

But here it is, December already, and I've done nothing to rate a mention on Bill O'Reilly's show or even a mild rebuke from the Pope, who, apparently oblivious to the anti-Christmas threat, spent last week cozying up with Muslims in Turkey.

What's my excuse? Well, Christmas of course. There are those catalogues, which usually get recycled directly from the mail box, to study. Menus to plan. Should we do the Cuban-style roast pork or a re-run of the Thanksgiving turkey? Cards to buy and address: How will the pretty Virgin and baby go over with my Wiccan friends?

Then there's the annual fight over the tree: Can it be multi-colored and gaudy, as I prefer, or all-white, as certain puritanical in-laws insist? And toys, toys, toys. I spent yesterday searching for obscure members of the Dora the Explorer tribe: What's with this pre-Christmas shortage of Dora's monkey sidekick, Boots?

Let's face it: Christmas is not the exclusive property of those who think God came to earth 2000 years ago as a baby in Bethlehem. I caught the Christmas bug from my parents, who were militant atheists of the Richard Dawkins ilk.

I celebrated it with my first husband, the son of Jewish atheists. True, we tried Chanukah too one year, but it bombed with the kids. What's a little Chanukah gelt compared to a floor-full of presents?

My second husband, who had been inadvertently converted to atheism by the nuns at Catholic school, was the worst. We fought over whether to measure the extent of our excess by the volume of presents under the tree or their weight as determined by the bathroom scale.

How Christian is Christmas anyway? The tree and the wreathes descend from pagan, tree-worshipping, Druidism. The December date for the holiday probably comes from the Roman Saturnalia, a pre-existing blow-out featuring feasting and role-inversion (masters had to wait on slaves.)

Even if you fixate on Jesus, he was a pretty ecumenical guy -- a Jew who invented Christianity and is also much honored by Muslims. And who would be grinch-like enough not to welcome a baby whose mission was to bring world peace? Hell, I'm such a baby freak I think any baby, anywhere, any time, should be a cause for major celebration.

At the post office last week, where I was stocking up on stamps for the above-mentioned cards, I struggled over the seasonal options: Chanukah, Kwanza, Eid (the post-Ramadan Muslim holiday), or a traditional Virgin and Child. "You should get a sheet of each," the postmistress helpfully suggested, "More and more people are doing that." So I did, and I now declare the war is over -- the War on Christmas anyway.

Essential Reading

The Gary Webb story. Read it and weep, for him and for us.

King of the Wankers?

On the eve of a report that repudiates his son’s leadership, former president George H.W. Bush broke down crying when he recalled how his other son, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, lost an election a dozen years ago and then came back to serve two successful terms. The elder Bush has always been a softie, but this display of emotion was so over the top that it had to be about something other than Jeb’s long-ago loss.

The setting was a leadership summit Monday in Tallahassee, where the elder Bush had come to lecture and to pay homage to Jeb, who is leaving office with a 53 percent approval rating, putting him ninth among the 50 governors in popularity. The former president was reflecting on how well Jeb handled defeat in 1994 when he lost his composure. “He didn’t whine about it,” he said, putting a handkerchief to his face in an effort to stifle his sobbing.

That election turned out to be pivotal because it disrupted the plan Papa Bush had for his sons, which may be why he was crying, and why the country cries with him. The family’s grand design had the No. 2 son, Jeb, by far the brighter and more responsible, ascend to the presidency while George, the partying frat-boy type, settled for second best in Texas. The plan went awry when Jeb, contrary to conventional wisdom, lost in Florida, and George unexpectedly defeated Ann Richards in Texas. With the favored heir on the sidelines, the family calculus shifted. They’d go for the presidency with the son that won and not the one they wished had won.

The son who was wrongly launched has made such a mess of things that he has ruined the family franchise. Without getting too Oedipal, it’s fair to say that so many mistakes George W. Bush made are the result of his need to distinguish himself from his father and show that he’s smarter and tougher. His need to outdo his father and at the same time vindicate his father’s failure to get re-elected makes for a complicated stew of emotions. The irony is that the senior Bush, dismissed by Junior’s crowd as a country-club patrician, looks like a giant among presidents compared to his son. Junior told author Bob Woodward, for his book “Plan of Attack,” that he didn’t consult his father in planning the invasion of Iraq but consulted a higher authority, pointing, presumably, to the heavens.

The father also consulted a higher authority: family fixer James Baker. The Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by Baker, pulls no punches in calling Bush’s policies a failure. It’s a statement of the obvious, but when you have a collection of Washington wise men, plus retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor (perhaps doing penance for her vote that put Bush in the White House during the disputed 2000 race), it’s the equivalent of last rites for Bush’s Iraq policy, along with his presidency. It’s not a plan for victory because that doesn’t exist except in Bush’s fantasy. The recommendations Baker and company offer—of more international engagement and shifting U.S. troops to a backup role to Iraqi forces—may help the administration manage and mask defeat. Even so, that may be hard for Bush to accept. His body language when receiving the report, while polite, was dismissive, thanking the eminences assembled for breakfast at the White House for dropping off a copy.

This president has lost all capacity to lead. Eleven American servicemen died in Iraq on the day Bush was presented the report, which calls the situation there “grave and deteriorating.” Events on the ground threaten to overtake even this grim assessment. And we’re left to analyze Bush’s tender ego and whether he can reverse course on the folly that is killing and maiming countless Iraqis along with U.S. troops. Historians are already debating whether Bush is the worst president ever, or just among the four or five worst. He has little choice but to accept the fundamental direction of the Iraq Study Group. He’s up to his neck in quicksand, and they’ve thrown him a rope. It’s trendy to make fun of the over-the-hill types in Washington, but they’ve done a noble thing in reminding us that war is not just about spin and a way to win elections. It’s about coming together to find a way out, however unpalatable.

Bush was asked during the campaign in 2000 what would happen if he lost. He said he’d go back to Texas, watch a lot of baseball and have a great life with Laura and the girls. He’s an accidental president, a man who was vaulted into a job he wasn’t prepared for, and who treated war like a lark. Bush’s father observed between sobs in his Florida speech, “A true measure of a man is how you handle victory and how you handle defeat.” He was talking about Jeb, but surely it’s his first-born who triggers the tears.

I Mean Really, Who is in Charge?

Josh, recently, as a single example:
Back before the election, Andrew Sullivan said the 2006 midterm was shaping up not so much as an election as a collective national intervention. But do you get the sense now that it was a failed one?

I don't mean that in the sense that it was a failed election or that the Democrats have fallen short in any way. I mean more specifically about the president.

I go around the web and I see headlines like, Will President Listen to What James Baker Says?

Then there's Stephen Hadley saying, Believe Me, the President Knows Something Has to Change.

It's like hearing from relatives and friends that so and so knows he has to make a change. But will he?

And this is the guy running the country?

My question is: Does Our Leader truly lead the administration? Or is he led, no more than a cheerleader, a front man for the real policy-makers? Put it this: How much influence does he carry in the administration? Can he say "I don't want to do this?" or "I want to this?" Are we stuck in Iraq for another two years just because W can't wrap his mind around developing any sort of plan that would result in an exit strategy?

Simply: Who is really in charge? Is it really Bush? Or is he amongst the led?

The Honor Roll of Our Leaders; Our Beloved Leader Succeeds in Restoring Honor to the White House

Indicted / Convicted/ Pled Guilty

* Scooter Libby - Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff - resigned after being indicted for Obstruction of Justice, Perjury, and Making False Statements in connection with the investigation stemming from the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

* Lester Crawford - Commissioner, FDA - resigned after only two months on the job. Pled guilty to conflict of interest and making false statements.

* Brian Doyle - Deputy Press Secretary, DHS - Resigned in wake of child sex scandal. Pled no contest to 32 criminal counts.

* Claude Allen - Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy- resigned, pled guilty to shoplifting from Target stores.

* David Safavian - former head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget - convicted of lying to ethics officials and Senate investigators about his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

* Larry Franklin - intelligence officer, Defense - resigned, pled guilty to passing secrets to Israel.

* Roger Stillwell - desk officer, Interior Department - pled guilty to failing to report Redskins tickets and free dinners from Jack Abramoff.

* Frank Figueroa - senior DHS official, former head of anti-sex-crime Operation Predator - pled no contest to exposing himself to 16-year-old girl in Florida mall. Girl says he fondled himself for ten minutes. Figueroa forfeited his badge, gun, and access to databases; employment status pending internal DHS review.

* Darleen Druyun - senior contracting official, U.S. Air Force - pled guilty and sentenced to nine months in prison for her role in the Boeing tanker lease scandal.

* John Korsmo - chairman, Federal Housing Finance Board - pled guilty last year to lying to the Senate and an inspector general. He swore he had no idea how a list of presidents for FHFB-regulated banks were invited to a fundraiser for his friend's congressional campaign. On the invites, Korsmo was listed as the "Special Guest." Got 18 months of probation.

Resigned Due to Investigation

* Carl Truscott - Director, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau - resigned. A report by the Justice Department's Inspector General found that Truscott wasted tens of thousands of dollars on luxuries, wasted millions on whimsical management decisions and violated ethics rules by ordering employees to help his nephew with a high school video project.

* Joseph Schmitz - Inspector General, Defense - Resigned amid charges he personally intervened to protect top political appointees.

* Steven Griles - Deputy Secretary at the Interior Department - resigned, currently under investigation by the Justice Department for his ties to Jack Abramoff.

* Susan Ralston - assistant, White House - resigned amidst revelations that she had accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from Abramoff without compensating him, counter to White House ethics rules.

* Dusty Foggo - Executive Director, CIA - stepped down following accusations of corruption in connection to the Duke Cunningham scandal. Under investigation.

* Janet Rehnquist - Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services - resigned in the face of allegations she blocked a politically dangerous probe on behalf of the Bush family.

* Ken Tomlinson, Board Chairman, Corporation for Public Broadcasting; member, Broadcasting Board of Governors - resigned at the release of an inspector general report concluding he had broken laws in spending CPB money to hire politically connected consultants to search for "bias" without consulting the board. At BBG, a separate investigation found he was running a "horse racing operation" out of his office, and continuing to hire politically-wired individuals to do "consulting" work for him. He's still there.

* George Deutsch - press aide, NASA - resigned amid allegations he prevented the agency's top climate scientist from speaking publicly about global warming.

* Richard Perle - Chairman, Defense Policy Board - resigned from Pentagon advisory panel amid conflict-of-interest charges.

* James Roche - secretary, U.S. Air Force - resigned in the wake of the Boeing tanker lease scandal, after it was revealed he had rather crudely pushed for Boeing to win a $23 billion contract.

* Marvin Sambur - top contracting executive, U.S. Air Force - Druyun's boss, Sambur resigned in the wake of the scandal. Investigations cleared him of wrongdoing.

* Philip Cooney - chief of staff, White House Council on Environmental Quality - a former oil industry lawyer with no scientific expertise, Cooney resigned after it was revealed he had watered down reports on global warming.

* Thomas Scully - Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - shortly after Scully resigned in 2003, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General found that Scully had pressured the agency's actuary to underestimate the full cost of the Medicare reform bill by approximately $100 billion until after Congress passed the bill into law. Scully was also charged wtih conflict of interest allegations by the U.S. attorney's office for billing CMS for expenses incurred during a job search while he still headed the agency. He settled those charges by paying $9,782.

* Michelle Larson Korsmo - deputy chief of staff, Department of Labor - Helped her husband (see Frank Korsmo, above) with his donor scam. Quietly left her Labor plum job in February 2004, about two weeks before news broke that she and her husband were the targets of a criminal probe.

* David Smith - Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Interior Department - resigned after shooting a buffalo and accepting its remains as an illegal gratuity. He eventually paid over $3,000 for the dead buffalo, but only after the internal inquiry had commenced.

Nomination Failed Due to Scandal

* Bernard Kerik - nominated, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security - withdrew his nomination amidst a host of corruption allegations. Eventually pled guilty to a misdemeanor relating to having accepted improper gifts totaling tens of thousands of dollars while he was a New York City official in the late 1990's.

* Timothy Flanigan - nominated, Deputy Attorney General - withdrew his nomination amidst revelations that he'd worked closely with lobbyist Jack Abramoff when he was General Counsel for Corporate and International Law at Tyco, which was a client of Abramoff's.

* Linda Chavez - nominated, Secretary of Labor - withdrew her nomination amidst revelations that an illegal immigrant lived in her home and worked for her.

Know Your New Do-Nothing-Good Secretary of (So-Called) Defense

I utterly support [joke] Our Leader's selection [rather, one made for and imputed to him] for Secretary of Defense and appreciate the sacrifices he's making:
Perhaps of greatest interest ot the public, Gates holds a total of between $450,000 and $1 million worth of stock options in companies he advises, including Parker Drilling Company, restaurant group Brinker International, and NACCO Industries.

NACCO has roughly $30 million in Department of Defense contracts, according to Conflict? The government's ethics police allowed the last Defense chief, Donald Rumsfeld, to hold on to stock worth up to $25 million in a company, Gilead Sciences; its business with the Pentagon soared after Rumsfeld took over, according to the LATimes. (He cleared $5 million on the deal, the paper found.)

According to its Web site, Parker Drilling, an oil services company, has operations around the world including Kuwait, Russia, Kazakhstan and Colombia. Since 1994, the company has worked with Halliburton on a Chinese offshore drilling effort.

But Gates has a variety of other income streams. From January 2005 to the present, Gates has been paid $752,788 as president of Texas A&M, and earned over $135,000 in deferred pay, according to his filing.

During the same period Gates also earned $143,000 in fees for speaking to private groups, including the National Pest Management Association, numerous investment groups, and the retail giant Target. He made about $15,000 a pop with that gig.

Gates also picked up $788,366 as a director or adviser to companies.

The nominee also has money spread around a vast array of investment funds, including a few he shares with his wife and son.

Keep in mind that for all his wealth, Gates isn't even approaching the wealth amassed by Rumsfeld. According to, Rumsfeld, worth as much as $199 million, could buy and sell Gates many times over.

And the raw data start here.

Lesson for the Day; Take Heart, Obey!


A Story I Love That's Deserving of More... Prominence

There's a whole lot of dumbness here....
December 8, 2006, 10:33 am
‘For Inches and Centimeters, Let Fools Contend’
By Tom Zeller Jr.

The BBC reports this morning that a “a survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.”

The survey showed that about 60 percent of Indian men have penises that are between three and five centimeters shorter than a standard condom — a size differential that can often cause the prophylactic to fall off or tear during intercourse. In the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS, this is an acute problem.

The United Nations revealed earlier this year that India has the highest number of H.I.V. infections of any nation — 5.7 million — although this is less than one percent of the country’s overall population of 1.02 billion.

A call is afoot to begin manufacturing a smaller brand of condoms specifically for Indian men, although a chemist quoted in the article indicated that smaller sizes are available. Many men are simply too embarrassed to ask for them.

Said Sunil Mehra, the former editor of the Indian version of the men’s magazine Maxim, to the BBC (adding apologies to Alexander Pope): “For inches and centimeters, let fools contend.”

The study comes on the same day as a Times of India report indicating that the country’s National AIDS Control Organization has admitted that it is falling behind in getting antiretroviral drugs to HIV-infected patients, which would help stave off progression of the disease to full-blown AIDS.

Advocacy groups have complained that the country was making little progress on this front.

5 comments so far...

December 8th,
11:37 am
Given India’s billion plus population this information tells us ardor rather than big swinging ***** is what really counts.
— Posted by MARK KLEIN, M.D.

December 8th,
20061:02 pm
Perhaps Indian men need to check their email spam folders more often….I’ve got about a dozen offers in there for ways to help them fit into a standard condom.
— Posted by Brian

December 8th,
1:11 pm
I hope I’m an above average Indian!
— Posted by Yolanda Lowell [with a name like that???]