Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Discounted heating oil part of "unfriendly government's hostile foreign policy"

Wow, the nerve of the state of Connecticut.

It's bad enough that Chucklenutz grew up there and Lieberman mis-represents the people in the Senate. Now, they have the audacity, the AUDACITY to allow their social service energies to supply low cost VENEZUELAN heating oil to their low income residents.

You'd think Hugo Chavez could stoop no lower, but every day, he just keeps digging deeper. Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal ruled the program was legal, so Connecticut just plugged into the 40% discounted supply.

My favorite parts from the AP wire story:

"Venezuela's leftist, pro-Castro president, Hugo Chavez, is a fierce critic of the Bush administration, and critics say he is trying to use the program to embarrass President Bush and build support for himself in this country."

"In Washington, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Rep. Ed Whitfield, the Republican chairman of the subcommittee for oversight and investigations, have voiced concern that the oil deals are ''part of an unfriendly government's increasingly belligerent and hostile foreign policy'' toward the United States."

and Richard Blumenthal gives it right back to them:
''As a matter of policy or political perspective, there may be sound reason to have reservations about the source of this assistance -- a company effectively owned by a foreign government that may have questionable policies or motives,'' he said. ''There is also sound reason to be critical of Congress whose ill-advised neglect makes the assistance necessary.''
I remember when Massachusetts first took up the offer in November, there was a debate on CNN between one of the Massachusetts agency folks who was, obviously, glad to have the help, and a former Republican Congressmember (I want to say Bob Barr) were debating the pros/cons of Venezuelan oil, and the republican had such winning statements as "people in massachusetts usually don't freeze to death" and "i just want to know if they reached out to any other companies to match this deal before they went with Citgo." Yeah, sure, blame Chavez for offering assistance while your oil buddies make billions and look silly. Then, blame poor people for not demanding the really rich oil buddies give them a deal too. I know Barbara Bush might not realize it, but there are plenty of poor people who live in cold states.


the bitter irony of Fat Tuesday...

Today, the wounded, scarred streets of one of America's treasures breathe life again.

But tomorrow, rent subsudies and hotel payments of thousands of people displaced by Katrina expire. Giving up food for funk, indeed.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Support Indie bands who give Hummer the bird!

Got this AP piece from DailyKos and just had to repost it. Seems some great Indie bands and former music groups have been turning down a chance at exposure and big bucks to license their songs to Hummer:

The Thermals, a rambunctious rock band from Portland, Ore., were en route between gigs last year when they got a phone call from their label, Sub Pop. Hummer wanted to pay them $50,000 for the right to use their song "It's Trivia" in a commercial.

"We thought about it for about 15 seconds, maybe," lead singer Hutch Harris said.
They said no.

Washington D.C.'s Trans Am were offered $180,000 by Hummer for the song "Total Information Awareness."

"We figured it was almost like giving music to the Army, or Exxon," guitarist Philip Manley said.
Full story here. My goal is to find and listen to every band mentioned in the article, and do positive reviews here. Once I do this, dear readers, you'll know...


Woo Hoo
by 5,6,7,8'S

Woo hoo woo hoo hoo....yeah
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Oh, yeah
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo

Beantown, Beantown, the magical fruit...

Knucklehead and I hopped in the rolling iron and took off Boston friday. Seems the Punkasaurus was turning 30, and I hadn't had some good chowdah in a while, so we made a weekend out of it. Plus, I'd been promising the cru I'd visit for ages, so it was time.

First off, we were graciously hosted by Knucklehead's uncle and aunt in a lovely apartment just off Boston Commons. We can't thank them enough for their wonderful hospitality (thanks alot!). Their apartment was great, immaculate, and a nice respite from a frustrating week in my hometown. Plus, they had PBS (a pleasure Knucklehead and myself haven't been afforded in a while) just in time for wall to wall Monty Python specials for Knucklehead and I to watch at odd moments.

We arrived a little later than we had hoped (but never underestimate the importance of clean underpants!), and called out to the cru, and after some hemming and hawing, decided on the Baraka Cafe, just off Central Square in Cambridge. Tiny little spot, maybe had room for about 20 diners at a time, but just phenominal. My first time having Tunisian and North African food, and it was just delicious. Plus, the owners, seemingly either an older couple or a brother and sister, were so familial, bordering on being an aunt and uncle. The woman, after I asked what soda they have (because I don't like lemonade, even if it IS spicy and award-winning), reminded me just how bad for me soda is, and that I could clean my silver in it. After I declined the soda (because they only had Coke anyway), she then sent me a can, as if to test my resolve. It was great! Try the Zaatar Coca appetizer, a flat bread with a thick paste of sesame seeds, sage, lemon juice, and carmelized onions. Man, i could eat those all day.

Saturday afternoon we met up with a friend of Knucklehead's to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. Great museum, focused substantially on Italian art from the 1500s through the turn of the 20th century. Actually, it was her house before it was a museum. Nice work if you can get it. And, as I noticed to Knucklehead, there was a lot of Jesus there. A lot of fantastic pieces, definitely worth checking out.

Saturday night was the party of the Punkasaurus. And it was awesome! A lot of great people, great music, great food (what else would I expect from the Punkasaurus and her sister?!). One of the roomates had a Rhodes organ and the changes from "Drown in My Own Tears" on it, so I kinda went a likkel nuts playing that for a while up there. I had a fantastic time, as did Knucklehead. And not only that, but two great people actually gave us a ride back to where we were staying so we didn't have to wrestle with the T and worry about missing the last one. Oh yeah, the T closes in Boston. What's up with that?!

Sunday morning, we closed out the trip by meeting the CRU again, this time at another awesome spot in Central Sqaure called Brookline Lunch. Right across the street from the Middle East, this place did breakfast well and cheaply priced. As a maker of homefries, i'm always a tough critic of them. Theirs could've been cooked longer, but they were experimental with zucchini and squash in them (and I dug that a lot!). If you're up in Cambridge, check them out.

On the way back, we stopped by the parents' place, where Momma K, on hearing we were meeting DrHnotR for dinner, suggested going to Dominick's on Arthur Ave. And man, what a great suggestion. I'm sure it looked just the way it did the last time Momma K went there. No menus, instead the waiter told us what we could have, and helped us through. And what bread! We were there at the end of the Sunday dinner rush, so they made me a special chicken parm dish, and Knucklead and DrHnotR split Ravioli and Stuffed Shells, plus some awesome broccoli with garlic and a little oil. Wow. The Marinara there made me realize just how far I have to go with my cooking. Wow. 2335 Arthur Avenue, a little ways down from 187th Street.

What a great weekend. And not just because of the food. :-)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Chucklenutz admits to "mixed signals", promises to call after next date to let Department of Energy know he really likes them.

Mixed signals? Mixed signals?

Being that I used to go on a lot of dates when I was a little younger, I thought I was an expert on mixed signals. Now, the idiot in chief defines them anew for me. From Elisabeth Bumiller of the Judy Miller Times:

President Bush acknowledged on Tuesday that his administration had sent "mixed signals" to the Department of Energy's primary renewable energy laboratory here, where government budget cuts forced the layoff of 32 employees who were then hastily reinstated just before Mr. Bush's visit.

"I recognize that there has been some interesting, let me say, mixed signals when it comes to funding," Mr. Bush said.

Yeah, mixed signals. You mean like the time Al called illegal wiretaps hypothetical? or the time you said you couldn't have done anything to prevent 9/11 after ignoring the August report titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States". Or was it the time you gave the speech in St. Louis talking about strengthening manufacturing jobs in the US, and you had to cover the boxes behind you in tape because they all said 'Made in China"? Or mixed signals like underfunding "No Child Left Behind" by billions. Or illegal wiretaps while not doing enough research on the company patroling our ports.

G-d, I hate these clowns.

Let me get this straight. They're not retired, but they're collecting pensions while working and getting six figures from the same employer?!?!

The patriarch of my second family, my beloved Irish conservative clan, often accused us of trying to kill him when we did something bad as youngins. Now, I just feel like the world is conspiring me to keep me awake, angry, and blogging (since knucklehead's sleepin, I can't really yell).

In a move surely designed to pop capilaries in my head, it seems that, in the last year alone, more than 100 of the New York City's upper level employees have been approved to collect huge pensions on top of huge salaries. Mike McIntire of the Wiretap Times reports that, "several high-ranking city officials have been granted waivers from laws prohibiting double-dipping by retirees who rejoin the city work force, making them eligible for tens of thousands of dollars a year in pension payments."

This includes several employees who, when their nifty pension payments kick in, are making well over 200,000 dollars a year. To give you an idea of how lucrative this is for the retirees and non retirees cashing in, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta receives his $163,000 commissioner's salary, as well as his $97,000 dollar a year pension.

I'm waiting for everyone on NY1, the Post, the Daily News, all the local news channels, to chime in on this one. "I don't get pension payments WHILE I'M STILL WORKING FOR THE SAME EMPLOYER, why should they?!" For people to be complaining about the Transit Workers with this crap going on just makes me boil.

The full story.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Something else Back Door George and I can agree upon

We're both glad he's not serving another term as governor here in New York. He did come up with some good ideas about health care coverage here in New York (before he tried to gut them last year). Now, it seems, we both agree: country who's banking system transferred money to 9/11 hijackers and country who refused to cooperate in tracking down Osama's bank accounts (hat tip to Think Progress) SHOULD NOT get control of our ports, to say nothing about a free pass to ownership without investigation. Are these people serious?

The Judy Miller Wiretap times notes:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — The Republican governors of New York and Maryland on Monday joined the growing chorus of criticism of an Arab company's takeover of operations at six major American ports. Both raised the threat of legal action to void contracts at ports in New York City and Baltimore.

"I have directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explore all legal options that may be available to them in regards to this transaction," Gov. George E. Pataki of New York said in a statement.

Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican, said the review was conducted in just 30 days — far too little time to vet the company thoroughly. "There wasn't a full investigation in the context of a post 9/11 world," he said.
Wow, even Peter King getting some face time.

The full story, from those red sox owners, here.

This is what I'm on about!

So much for activist judges.

The case of Maher Arar was the one that finally pushed me over the edge to go work in the swing states. In case you do not remember, here's the short version of his story:

In September 2002, Arar was in Tunisia, vacationing with his wife Monia Mazigh and their two small children. On Sept. 26 while in transit in New York’s JFK airport, he was detained by US officials and interrogated about alleged links to al-Qaeda.

Twelve days later, he was chained, shackled and flown to Jordan aboard a private plane and from there transferred to a Syrian prison. In Syria, he was held in a tiny “grave-like” cell for ten months and ten days before he was moved to a better cell in a different prison. He was beaten, tortured and forced to make a false confession.

This man, a Canadian citizen since 1991, was spirited away and tortured, before finally released without any formal charges. Even at my most cynical, I had hoped that this country, who claims to be fighting for freedom, would error on the side of caution, that stories like this wouldn't be out there. But they are. And to me, one story made public means how many other Maher Arars are there out there that haven't been released, that were flown to a cell by American military flights across Europe that use a call sign assigned to a civilian airline that they have no legal right to use (hat tip, DailyKos)?

But do we honestly care about justice here? US District Judge David Trager doesn't. From the Seattle PI:

U.S. District Judge David G. Trager rejected arguments that Arar was protected by the Torture Victim Prevention Act, which allows U.S. courts to assess damages for human rights abuses committed abroad.

Trager said that as a non-citizen, Arar couldn't demonstrate that he has a viable cause of action under that statute.

Citing "the national security and foreign policy considerations at stake," the judge said Arar had no grounds in a U.S. court to claim his constitutional right to due process was violated.
This is unconscionable. Are we no longer human beings? They took at least a year of his life away, not counting the permanent physical and psychological damage, his reputation... the "family values" posse has robbed his children of one of their loving parents for at least a year. To be found completely innocent. How can these people get shit so completely wrong? How did they miss the August 2001 briefing yet zero in on this guy? How can we talk about spreading freedom when we can't even manage to not destroy the freedom of already free people? And how do these people live with themselves? I'm sick with pain knowing this guy's story, and they go shoe shopping or play golf or fiddle while the world burns.

The full story from the PI here. And Bob Herbert sums it up best from his column:
"If kidnapping and torturing an innocent man is O.K., what's not O.K.?"

And people wonder why I don't give a fuck about the Olympics?

Now we see the violence inherent in the system.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Red Omar fights the good fight

Zappy's got a new blog up himself, and he's using it to spread the word. The words he's spreading today, boys and girls, are lockout and solidarity. In a typical story of union busting, chemical workers from Stepan voted overwhelming to join UE (the only union in America where the highest salary the president can make is the highest salary grade in all of UE's bargaining agreements) in January of 2005. Stepan refuses to bargain in good faith, and of course, the workers still don't have a first contract. The union's proposed wage increase would cost less than ten percent of the charge-off the Board of Directors just received. The workers go out for a one day Unfair Labor Practice strike because the company is stonewalling them in grievance proceedings. They offer to return to work, and Stepan locks them. They've been locked out nearly a month now, and are hurting.

Here's Zappy's blog. You'll also be able to find it on the links under "Ministry of Information"

Here's an update from the UE page.

Here's where you can send donations to the UE solidarity fund. If you're poor like me, do what you can to spread the word:

UE Local 155 Solidarity Fund
812 Fayette St., 2nd Floor
Conshohocken, PA 19428

Waking up and seeing about these guys that are trying to make a decent living for themselves and have some self determination on the job was a reminder. Because at AF's party last night, there was a silly girl there who claimed that unions no longer had a purpose. It makes me wonder what she does for a living. It makes me wonder if she's ever worked with her hands in her life, or ever faced any obstacles, discrimination. Even my ultra conservative Irish second family admit and agree that unions are still needed. Does she know that sweatshops make everything she buys? Does she know that the reason she has a weekend is because of unions? Does she know she can be fired for no reason at all if she doesn't have a contract?

In this society where we are getting worked to the bone while a small percentage of the population makes off with the loot, shouldn't we be trying to stick together? Why is it that so few people get the idea of solidarity or class anymore? Just another reminder about how good the other side is with hyperbole and frmaing... someone who buys into the idea that unions are no longer needed is blind, naive, foolish, or already so wealthy they feel they are okay. And why is it that a month and a half later, the response to the Transit Strike is STILL, well, I don't have it, why should those transit workers have it? Why aren't people saying, hey, EVERYONE should have health insurance and pensions? If you think the cost of pensions is high, why not consider how many millions of dollars CEOs get in their severance/retirement package?

Some day, people will understand that we have a lot more power if we work together.

My loyalty is to New York (or why I hate the Olympics and will probably hate the World Baseball Classic)

(Edit: Let me preface this column with the following: Knucklehead, in her sleepy delerium, wanted me to make sure I registered her great appreciation of the Olympics, both in the quantity of great athlete stories and in the abundance of wonderful contests that we don't see on a regular basis. I will address this point shortly, but not now, it's going to mess up my rhythm).

I cannot take it anymore.

I've been a New York Rangers fan for almost 20 years now. I can vaguely remember Barry Beck and Ron Greschner, Beezer coming of age. And I'm as excited about this year's team as I've been in a while. They're tough, young, hardworking (mostly) and are anchored by two players, one who everyone thought wasn't ready to start in goal (Henrik Lundqvist) and a hot dog who wasn't a team player (Jaromir Jagr). Both of those fallacies have been decimated, with Jagr emerging as a Hart Trophy contender while leading the lead in scoring, and with Lundqvist leading the NHL in save percentage at the break, a GAA just over 2, and 25 wins in 40 games, in my mind a shot at rookie of the year and Vezina.

My loyalty is to New York.

So I find it increasingly frustrating to read about the guys I follow playing against each other in some sort of farcical international tournament. Especially when some asshole, who's lucky his NHL team doesn't play any games within 500 miles of New York, decides he's going to cheap shot Jagr into the boards.

National pride? The leadership of this country has left me with a bad bad bad taste in my mouth recently. Why should I root for USA when the rookie who's helping lead my team to the playoffs for the first time this millenium is in the opposite crease with his RANGERS helmet on? Or, if Mo decided to pitch for Panama in the World Baseball Classic, who am I rooting for? The guy I hate 365 days a year, or the guy who's shirt I'm wearing, the guy who's the only reason I would ever listen to "Enter Sandman" on purpose?

Don't get me wrong, I'm rooting for America... to live up to our standards, to be a place where everyone can live decently, to provide healthcare to the sick and justice to those who are suffering. And maybe that's part of it. Maybe it was easier to get behind an athletic team when my world view was less sophisticated, or when it was easier to be proud of America. of course, it also helped that two of my favorite Rangers were ALWAYS representing the US of A, Mike Richter and Brian Leetch.

Now, Knucklehead brought up a good point. Yes, you know what, some of those sports are really intriguing. Luge, Ski Jump, Bobsled, there's some great stuff going on there. And I also don't seem to have this reaction when watching the real World Cup. Maybe it's because I haven't really embraced the MetroStars, but watching the soccer World Cup is exciting to me. Watching the Olympic hockey and the preparations for the WBC just make me sick, wondering which Ranger/Yankee is going to get hurt, ruining my fan season, becoming the business end of the next Denis Potvin hit.

Schedule1 and I debated this question at length before the olympics. I told him part of me wanted to see Rangers players do well, but now i'm pretty sure i want them all home ASAP.

In other news: by dunking over Spud Webb, a Knick finally won something.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

You lookin MIGHTY GOOD to me!

Last night ended with Knucklehead and I, exhausted from dancing and a crazy Shabbas, collapsing while watching Grail. What brought us to this place of exhaustion? This man. And the funny thing is, Stanley Joseph "Buckwheat" Dural, Jr. has no idea what role he's played in bringing Knucklehead and I together. But we got to see him tear up BB King's last night. It was a great show, he even rocked out on organ for us. Can't say enough about him. Don't know him? WHY NOT?!?!!?!?!?! Seriously, check him out. And while you're looking for good new music to listen to, check out Catherine Russell. She opened for Buck, sounded fantastic and rolled out some great old and new tracks. She's playing Joe's Pub 4/11, hopefully she'll have a better website by then. :-) But really, keep an eye out for her.

How's the rest of the weekend been so far? As always, a cooking race against the shabbas clock (and I made it), trying a variation on a recipe passed to me by the Nefarious One. Her's was much better, but mine still came out pretty well, and I hope to perfect it. Because of the amount of company and the fact that I wanted to add some onion and mushroom to the mix, i doubled everything else and it came out pretty decently.

Still, I need to work on some pasta sauces that aren't cream (or half and half) based.

Kol Zimrah was Friday night, and the attendance started out kinda slow (I was greeting folks). BZ was leading (yasher koach!) and he asked me if he should start, I looked in, said, eh, maybe wait a minute, bu it's just about time. But then the place filled up. We ran out of chairs and flyers, we hit over 100 folks for the second month in a row. KZ was also great because we had some friends in from DC and Cleveland stop by. Lotsa good food, and an after services jam with BZ, AF, and a special guest (and me on sax). Hey, if you need some place for a Friday night, you should stop by. THE NEXT ONE WILL BE IN BROOKLYN! The next one in Manhattan will be 3/31.

After services, we visited ER, who's been laid up with a bum wheel. A bunch of us made the trek, with Knucklehead and I sleepily walking back to her place around 3am. Slept through shul, woke up just in time to get ready for lunch, which was a blast. Of course, lunch lasted pretty much up to the end of Shabbas. Then we ran down to the show.

Today holds cooking, relaxing, and two BROOKLYN parties in our future. And Knucklehead is off this week, so quality time with her, yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Another drum goes silent.

Latin music and Jazz music legend Ray Baretto's congas go silent tonight, and the world has a lot less rhythm. He started in the late 50s with Tito's band, and then moved on to record with Dizzy, Cannonball, Celia Cruz and Freddie Hubbard, as well as his own amazing outfit. Ricanstruction, a classic salsa album, is one of his best.

Thanks for the music, Ray. We have less to dance to down here without you.

Friday, February 17, 2006


While the Olympics take my beloved Blueshirts (and no, I'm not talking about the Azzuri) who are having their best season of the last ten years, Ruby the sports fan got a glimmer of sunshine in his dreary, gray (actually quite sunny and 50 plus degrees) winter day.

33 Pitchers and 8 Catchers reported for duty in Tampa. The 103rd season of the New York Yankees is less than 2 months away. With this team, like any team, there are questions. Well, okay, I didn't have a lot of questions during spring training for 99, 00, or 01, admittedly. But will the rotation hold up? How many of our moronic signings of last year (mmm, Pavano and Jared Wright) will take the place of starters who got us into the playoffs (Chacon, Small, and Wang). My guess is the rotation is Unit, Moose, Wang, Pavano, Chacon. Of course, Pavano still can't even throw off a mound.

The lineup is looking pretty impressive. My question is: who are the kids that we're going to bring up that make a difference. We have a few decent ones in the system, anyone have any ideas?

27 in '06!

Monday, February 13, 2006

"At every level — individual, corporate, philanthropic and governmental — we failed to meet the challenge that was Katrina.

When a committee to review the government's response to Katrina was formed, the Dems in the House decided not to join the fun, figuring it would be a whitewash. But as a Senate Republican or two lends speaks up about the wiretaps, it's nice to see the House Republicans also actually be a little bit critical... from Eric Lipton's piece in the Judy Miller times:

A draft of the report, to be issued by an 11-member, all-Republican committee, says the Bush administration was informed on the day Hurricane Katrina hit that the levees had been breached, even though the president and other top administration officials earlier said that they had learned of the breach the next day.

That delay was significant, the report says, rejecting the defense given by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security that the time it took to recognize the breach did not significantly affect the response.

"If the levees breached and flooded a large portion of the city, then the flooded city would have to be completely evacuated," the draft report says. "Any delay in confirming the breaches would result in a delay in the post-landfall evacuation of the city." It adds that the White House itself discounted damage reports that later proved true.

Lipton further quotes the reports:
"At every level — individual, corporate, philanthropic and governmental — we failed to meet the challenge that was Katrina. In this cautionary tale, all the little pigs built houses of straw."

Check the whole thing here.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Explain yourself, Mr. Durbin...

Schedule1 was wondering why i hadn't commented on Scooter singing like a canary and the New Orleans debacle yet. I wanted to make sure folks saw this first. Also, i find it very amusing that the presence of those two stories knocked this story on the patriot act off the top of the Times webpage. Don't worry, Schedule1, i will....

Sigh. Seems that some of the Senators who were holding up the renewal of the Patriot Act have met with the White House and have ironed out their differences. You'll remember that Sen Dick Durbin (D-IL), along with Sununu (R-NH), Hagel (R-NE), Craig, (R-ID), and Murkowski (R-AK), "opposed a House-Senate Conference Report on reauthorization of the Patriot Act because it did not provide sufficient protections for the rights of innocent Americans. "

From Hagel's press release (Durbin's page isn't opening, perhaps out of sadness), here's the text of the changes:

Attached is a summary of the changes negotiated on the Patriot Act. Summary of Changes to Patriot Act Conference Report Announced Today
Judicial Review of Section 215 Non-Disclosure order Explicit judicial review of a section 215 non-disclosure order.

o Recipient may challenge non-disclosure order after one year of receipt. Judge may overturn the non-disclosure order if the judge finds that there is no reason to believe that disclosure may endanger the national security of the United States, interfere with a criminal, counterterrorism, or counterintelligence investigation, interfere with diplomatic relations, or endanger the life or physical safety of any person. If the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, an Assistant Attorney General, or the Director of the FBI certifies that disclosure may endanger the national security of the United States or interfere with diplomatic relations, such certification shall be treated as conclusive, unless the judge finds that the certification was made in bad faith.

Naming of Attorney for NSL Recipients
Removes from the conference report the requirement that a person inform the FBI of the identity of an attorney to whom disclosure was made or will be made to obtain legal advice or legal assistance with respect to a NSL order.

Applicability of NSL’s to Libraries Adds clarification to current law that libraries, when functioning in their traditional roles, including providing Internet access, are NOT subject to section 2709 NSL’s.

Well, it's nice to know that I don't have to give my potential attorney's name to the Feds so they can tap HER phone. But the libraries? "Traditional roles"?!?! So, what's a traditional role? And Charles Babbington noted in his article for the Wasington Post that "libraries that are "Internet service providers" would remain subject to the letters, Durbin said." So what does that mean? Where is the line between internet access and internet service provider? After this tap nonsense, i need every word of every bill defined for me.

The top piece is just so frustrating... if you're subpoenad under the Patriot Act, you're also not allowed to discuss the case (under judicial order). Our new and exciting, civil liberties saving version of the Patriot Act is to allow you to challenge the gag order... AFTER A YEAR. Wow. i feel secure.

The idea that you cannot defend yourself FOR A YEAR, and they STILL do not have to drop it even then, is ridiculous. All the people around you know is that you're a terrorist. Great way to destroy someone's life. And forgive if, during the time of these illegal wiretaps, I'm a little skeptical.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Social Security destruction plan hidden in Chucklenutz's budget...

You gotta give it to Chucklenutz. while we're chasing him down on wiretaps, he's slipping his bullshit social security privatization plan right in the middle of the 2007 Budget. Allan Sloan of the Washington Post notices it and tries to let us know:

""The Democrats were laughing all the way to the funeral of Social Security modernization," White House spokesman Trent Duffy told me in an interview Tuesday, but "the president still cares deeply about this. " Duffy asserted that Bush would have been remiss not to include in the budget the cost of something that he feels so strongly about, and he seemed surprised at my surprise that Social Security privatization had been written into the budget without any advance fanfare.

Duffy said privatization costs were included in the midyear budget update that the Office of Management and Budget released last July 30, so it was logical for them to be in the 2007 budget proposals. But I sure didn't see this coming -- and I wonder how many people outside of the White House did.

Nevertheless, it's here. Unlike Bush's generalized privatization talk of last year, we're now talking detailed numbers. On page 321 of the budget proposal, you see the privatization costs: $24.182 billion in fiscal 2010, $57.429 billion in fiscal 2011 and another $630.533 billion for the five years after that, for a seven-year total of $712.144 billion

The full story, from the Washington Post.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Republican Representative calls for Wiretap Inquiry

I knew I liked Congressmember Heather Wilson. The New Mexico Representative first came to my attention when we were collecting petition signatures to push back Chucklenutz's massive health care cuts in the federal budget. Representative Wilson sent a letter around to fellow Republicans, asking them to sign on to push back the Medicaid and Medicare cuts.

Now, she's using her bully pulpit to fight for a full investigation of the taps. What pulpit is that? Well, she is the chair of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence. Let's see how they Swiftboat her... National Security Council aid during Chucklenutz's dad's reign and is the only female veteran serving in Congress.

"The president has his duty to do, but I have mine too, and I feel strongly about that,"

The full story, from those Red Sox owners who published Judy Miller.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

France will help!

A lot of people make jokes about France... but it's starting to look like they'll do more about New Orleans than our own government. From Reuters:

French Transport Minister Dominique Perben, leading the French delegation to a city that was founded by France in 1718, said, "This catastrophe has deeply upset the French people and the French government."
France, Perben said through a translator, "wants to be a long-term partner for Louisiana and New Orleans."
The full story: Shortcomings in aid from the US government are making New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin look to other nations for help in rebuilding his hurricane-damaged city.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

"We Screwed Up", Olbermann goes Booyah on O'Reilly, and EVEN GROVER THINKS THE WIRETAPS ARE ILLEGAL!!!!

An unnamed source at the Capitol Police says "We screwed up" as the CP urge charges are dropped against Cindy Sheehan. Daily Kos links NBC, but funny, the NBC link no longer has the "we screwed up" quote, but instead this drivel:

“The officers made a good faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol,” Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said in a statement late Wednesday.

“The policy and procedures were too vague,” he added. “The failure to adequately prepare the officers is mine.”

For those that haven't heard, in addition to Sheehan being arrested, Beverly Young, wife of Congressmember CW "Bill" Young (R-FL), was also removed from the House Chambers for wearing a tee shirt that said “Support the Troops — Defending Our Freedom.”

Maybe, just maybe, this will clue in all the conservatives who claim they're about free speech. Chucklenutz is not the guy you think he is. He really wants to restrict everyone's free speech, and that's not what this place is supposed to be. And our girls and boys that are over there, fighting to spread freedom? How would they feel to know that people were kicked out of the capitol building for wearing tee shirts?


You folks may also enjoy Cornell and Sportscenter alum Keith Olbermann knocking the crap out of O'Reilly on Countdown, nominating him as 1/31's worst person in the world. Special Knowledge to Crooks and Liars, who provide the link.

"As a public service, I'm going to read portions of his remarks and translate them into what he's actually saying."


Okay, so last night, I found myself agreeing with Chucklenutz on oil consumption. Today, I find myself agreeing with Grover Norquist? Fearless Reporter, the apocalypse is finally here. The full story in the SFGate, here's a snippet:

"My view on the terrorists is that we should find all of them and kill them," said Norquist. "But we should also protect our civil liberties, which the terrorists are trying to destroy."
"You need someone who is a Republican to call the president on this," he said.

Norquist said, ironically, he was particularly concerned about the problem because the Democrats appeared to be so weak.

"For 40 years we always assumed the left would take care of our civil liberties," he said. "If there were problems, the Democrats were the ones who would push back. But now with a Republican Congress and a Republican in the White House, the ACLU can't get their calls returned."

Referring to what some see as a conflict between fighting vicious terrorists and upholding all civil liberties, Norquist said: "It's not either/or. If the president thinks he needs different tools, pass a law to get them. Don't break the existing laws."

Wow. Someone finally made the tie in. Who knew?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tee Shirt = Unlawful conduct.

Update: BZ hit me with the Daily KOS's article from Cindy herself:

"I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things...I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for "unlawful conduct."

Spread the word on this, people.
As I was sitting with BZ and NF about to watch Chucklenutz, "Why should I discuss it with" Russert mumbles an aside about Cindy Sheehan being arrested. As the moron prattled on about freedom and "tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone," Cindy Sheehan was being dragged away in handcuffs. Why the break from acting "in a spirit of good will and respect for one another"? She was wearing a tee shirt. Great way to "honor our brave troops," and "never forget the sacrifices of America's military families."

The first link is to Kayo, a great poet who has a hillarious quote about Tim Russert in one of his poems, the second is a link to NBC's story on Sheehan. They couldn't mention someone being arrested for wearing a tee shirt while the thing was on the air? Aside from the first quote, which is a hotlink, all other quotes are from Chucklnutz's speech tonight.

Lighters Up!

The Riot Act has designs on my second favorite borough. Stay tuned for the long awaited arrival of RtothaK in the BtothaK. Manhattan Keeps on makin it, Brooklyn keeps on takin it...