Thursday, December 28, 2006

World War II Finally Paid Off

The Queen has a mortgage burning party Friday.

That marks the day Great Britain will have finally paid off it's loans to the US and Canada for money it borrowed during World War II.

Britain borrowe 2.8 billion pounds -- and began paying off the debt in 1950. With interest that comes to 4.8 billion pounds.

Considering the Iraq War has cost close to $400 billion so far, defeating Hitler and Tojo was a bargin. Oh, but we still get to pay off that debt here in the states. (The Sun)

Ford on Iraq

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction." -- President Ford in an interview with Bob Woodward, embargoed until after his death. The interview was conducted in July, 2004.

In this picture, from the Ford Presidential Library, President Ford meets with his Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and assistant Dick Cheney in April, 1975. (WaPo)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

President Ford's Life and Times

The New York Times offers up this interactive feature on the life of America's 38th President.

Meanwhile, the Ford Presidential Library offers up an old fashioned print version of his life and times.

The Library also has some of Mr Ford's most famous quotes. Among them:

“I am a Ford, not a Lincoln.” -- Remarks after being sworn in as Vice President of the United States

“As we are a nation under God, so I am sworn to uphold our laws with the help of God. And I have sought such guidance and searched my own conscience with special diligence to determine the right thing for me to do with respect to my predecessor in this place, Richard Nixon, and his loyal wife and family. Theirs is an American tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must.” -- Remarks upon granting a pardon to former President Richard Nixon September 8, 1974

Ford Campaign Commercials

Campaign commercials from Gerald Ford's 1976 campaign:


"Economic Recovery"




D'oh! Gerald Ford Remembered for Beer & Nachos

Gerald Ford's football playing, Coors beer drinking, golfball-to-the head nature made him Homer Simpsons' political hero:

Gerald Ford's Many Deaths

Gerald Ford and Saturday Night Live had a long relationship -- from Chevy Chase's pratfalls to Dana Carvey's "Eaten by Wolves" routine:

Picturing President Ford

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum offers up a collection of photographs from throughout the late President's life.

This picture is of the future President as a Park Ranger at Yellowstone National Park in 1936. (Ford Presidential Library)

Jerry Ford Autographed Edition

In addition to being the longest living US President in history, Gerald Ford was the last surviving member of the Warren Commission which investigated the JFK assassination.

He'd apparently inked a deal in the past year to autograph a limited edition of copies of a reprinting.

Governor Taft Marked for Life

Gov Bob Taft (R-OH) has earned a permanent black mark on his record as an attorney. The Ohio Supreme Court voted to publicly reprimand Gov Taft over ethics violations.

He pleaded "no contest" last year for failing to report gifts and trips -- resulting in a $4,000 fine. He was the first sitting Ohio Governor ever charged with a crime. (SeattleP-I)

Lawyered Up

President Bush is "lawyering up." The Baltimore Sun reports the White House is hiring lawyers for key posts to play defense against expected investigations when the Democratic majority takes over Congress next month. (BaltSun)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Duck and Cover Estates

Hottest real estate sales pitch in the Washington, DC suburbs these days? "We're well outside the blast zone -- and fallout free!"

Federal agencies are quietly moving to the Shenandoah Valley -- close enough for a day trip to HQ in DC, far enough away and downwind to survive an atomic blast and the resulting fallout.

The Defense Department announced last year it would move 22,000 of it's jobs from inside the beltway to more distant suburbs in Virginia and Maryland. The FBI is moving it's Northern Virginia field office from Tyson's Corner to more distant Manassas. (WaPo)

2,978 - 2,973

The deaths of six American Service members the day after Christmas has pushed the death toll from the Iraq War above that of 9/11.

2,978 Americans Service members have died in the Iraq War.

2,975 people of differing nationalities died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. (AP via Yahoo!)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Is The Age of Pork Over

Democrats have sworn to slash earmarks to balance last year's books. President Bush has agreed to go along after more than 31,000 pet projects slipped by his veto pen in the last two years.

Now it seems that pork has lost its value to even the Congressmen who've spent years packing pork barrels to buy votes back home with taxpayer money from Washington.

The New York Times looks at how pork wound up costing two Senators and four Representatives their seats in Congress in 2006. (NYT)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lose Your ID -- Head to the Front of the Line

Want to avoid those long lines at the airport metal detectors during your holiday travel?

Try losing your ID.

NPR reports on a small group of civil libertarians who are challenging TSA's rules that you have to show ID. They found out if you simply tell the screeners you lost your wallet, or left your drivers license in your checked luggage, you get moved to the front of the line.

Mind you, you'll get special attention -- more scanning, searching, and scrutiny in general.

But they've found it's quicker than waiting in line with the rest of the herd. (NPR)

Flagging the Error at the Freedom Tower

The Freedom Tower got off to a shaky start when someone realized the American flag on the first steel beam was backwards. The Tower is going up on the site of the World Trade Center.

The flag, plastered on a steel column, looked fine while the beam was lying on its side -- with the union to the upper left, flag appearing to flutter in the breeze.

But when hoisted upright, the flag was supposed to appear to hang from the beam. And the union was now on the right. The flag was replaced. (ABC/AP)

Draft Obama Ads Air has launched a 60-second TV ad in New Hampshire and Washington, DC. is a grassroots outfit and not endorsed by Senator Obama Barak (D-IL). (CNN)

Win Loss Record

The President says, "We're not winning, we're not losing" in Iraq. Jon Stewart asks if we're covering the spread.

But Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times points out that in generally accepted rules of combat, insurgents (that's them) win when counterinsurgents (that's us) are not winning:

“The basic theory of counterinsurgency warfare is that the defenders must demonstrate momentum towards victory or success,” said Loren B. Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, a military policy organization in Virginia. “If you can’t prove you are making progress then by definition you are losing.”

Counting the Way Forward

Back when the Bush administration tried to ditch "Stay the Course" as a mantra -- White House Spokesman Tony Snow incorrectly claimed President Bush had hardly ever used the phrase.

No problem with "the way forward." That's the new buzz phrase for Iraq. Sarah Wheaton at the New York Times has been keeping count. She reports Mr Snow has used the term 50 times since December 5. She only counts 19 mentions of the phrase before the fifth. (NYT)

Just Charge It

"Go shopping more." -- President Bush's prescription to cure concerns about a possible recession. Part of prepared remarks preceding a Presidential News Conference in the EEOB, December 20, 2006

Profiteering in the "War on Christmas"

Conservative groups are cashing in on the so-called "War on Christmas." From the Carpetbagger Report:
  • The Mississippi-based American Family Association says it has sold more than 500,000 buttons and 125,000 bumper stickers bearing the slogan “Merry Christmas: It’s Worth Saying.”
  • The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid group that boasts a network of some 900 lawyers standing ready to “defend Christmas,” says it has moved about 20,000 “Christmas packs.” The packs, available for a suggested $29 donation, include a three-page legal memo and two lapel pins.
  • And Liberty Counsel, a conservative law firm affiliated with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, says it has sold 12,500 legal memos on celebrating Christmas and 8,000 of its own buttons and bumper stickers.
The Report estimates the three groups raked in $1.4 million dollars selling stuff -- after selling their followers on the idea that Christmas is under fire. (Carpetbagger Report)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Artistic License

Pranksters were able to get multiple Virginia drivers licenses by changing disguises. We're not talking master disguises. Most involved spray paint -- and one included fake teeth.

As if this wasn't embarassing enough for the DMV, they put their exploits up on YouTube.

After some of the 9/11 terrorists turned out to have Virginia drivers licenses -- the Commonwealth changed the rules for getting them. It made life more miserable for law abiding Virginians waiting in line at the DMV. It apparently didn't make it impossible for fakers to get IDs.

For Sale: Plane, Never Used to Flee Terrorists

Alaska's new governor is using eBay to unload a private jet the previous governor bought on "state credit."

Homeland Security and the Alaska Legislature refused to buy ex-Gov Frank Murkowski (R-AK) a private jet that would fly him out of harms way in an emergency.

New Gov Sarah Palin (R-AK) has the 1984 Westwind II up for sale -- the current bid is $1.1 million -- and 77-cents.

With all of Alaska's wide open spaces, the interior seems a bit smallish. Wouldn't catch a Texan stepping off something this small at Love Field. (eBay, HT: Wonkette)

That Jolly Old Man with the White Beard: Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam has enlisted as Santa's helper. -- the federal government's official portal -- has a link to "holiday gifts." Items include:

    • American Eagle one-ounce silver coin: $27.95
      Supreme Court Historical Society rhinestone flag pin: $18.99
      Railroad songs CD from the Library of Congress: $8.95
There's also links to places to bid on surplus goods -- the Washington Post points out a moderate milage 10 year old Jeep going for $800 in a government online auction. (WaPo)

The Pressing Issue of the Day

Violence is up in Iraq, Iran and North Korea have nuke programs, and what is the White House Press Corps worked up about?

That band-aid on the First Lady's leg.

Think Progress counted questions during Tuesday's White House Press Briefing:

22: Number of questions on Laura Bush’s skin cancer.
18: Number of questions on Iraq.
3: Number of questions on Iran.
1: Number of questions on North Korea.
Even Spokesman Tony Snow announced it was officially a slow news day. (Think Progress)

Bush Says We're Not Winning

For the first time ever, President Bush on Tuesday said the US is not winning the war in Iraq.

"Absolutely, we're winning." -- President Bush, November 5, 2006

"We're not winning, we're not losing." -- President Bush in an interview with the Washington Post, December 19, 2006
The President also wants to expand the Army to better handle the rate and pace of current deployments. He talks about adding as many as 70,000 more troops than are currently on active duty.

Army Chief of Staff GEN Peter Schoomaker last week called for an expansion -- saying the Army could increase it's ranks at a rate of 6,000-7,000 additional Soldiers per year.

The Air Force is currently reducing its ranks as it retools for a new generation of aircraft -- and will need fewer Airmen. (WaPo)

Iraqi Macacca

IraqSlogger offers up a YouTube moment of Muqtada al Sadr. The Shia' militia leader who holds sway over Iraq's president Nouri al Maliki spends seven and a half minutes rambling while his deputies fuss and fight with each other. (IraqSlogger)

Blaming Rove

Fmr House Speaker Newt Gingrich blames political strategist Karl Rove for the GOP's current woes.

"2004 was pathetic, and 2006 was worse." -- Newt Gingrich
Mr Gingrich blames a series of Bush administration failures including Iraq, Hurricane Katrina response, and a lack of an agenda. (Insight)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Closing the Barn Door

The horse is long gone, but President Bush finally believes it's time to close the barn door on "earmarks."

Those are pork barrel spending items individual Congress members slip into spending bills to make sure some of your money gets spent in their district. Congress slipped in $71.77 billion for 15,832 earmarks last year.

Democrats have already announced they'll kill earmarks to so they can pass the budget bills left over when the 109th Congress adjourned.

President Bush has now jumped on the bandwagon...saying in his weekly radio address:

"[O]ne of the best ways we can impose more discipline on federal spending is by addressing the problem of earmarks. … My administration will soon lay out a
series of reforms that will help make earmarks more transparent, that will hold the members who propose earmarks more accountable, and that will help reduce the number of earmarks inserted into large spending bills."

Now about that horse and the barn door -- Think Progress estimates there have been 31,709 earmarks during Mr Bush's second term alone. (ThinkProgress)

Do As I Say - Not As I Do

Former State Rep Mark Naughton (R-PA) made it onto the state gaming board partly because he was tough on gambling. He voted against allowing slots in the Keystone State back in 2004. And he opposed gambling publicly for years before that.

Publicly being the key word.

The Philly Inquirer got hold of his tax records. They show he won $15,500 from 2003-2005.

He disclosed the winnings on his IRS forms -- but never on his state ethics reports. Mr McNaughton takes up his new, $145,000 a year job in mid-January.

That's 580,000 pulls on a quarter slot machine. (AP via Tampa Bay Online)

Troop Surge

Reports indicate President Bush is considering a "surge" of troops into Iraq -- as many as 50,000 more troops -- to control violence in Baghdad. Here's some of the reaction:

"I am not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad for the purposes of suppressing this communitarian violence, this civil war, will work." -- Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of staff, appearing on CBS's Face the Nation (more in clip, Courtesy CBS Face the Nation)

"If the commanders on the ground said this is just for a short period of time, we'll go along with that." -- Sen Harry Reid, (D-NV) on ABC's This Week

"In Iraq, we’re on the road to nowhere. Putting more troops on that road is not in the interest of the United States. We have moved troops from Anbar into Baghdad before. There was not only no dent in violence, it’s actually increased." -- Retired Admiral Joe Sestak, Representative-elect (D-PA) on ABC's This Week

“You ought to have something that you believe is military in nature that can be accomplished. Otherwise you are putting people into a risky situation, where they are just more targets for the enemy to shoot at. And if you don't have an understood military objective, I can't see that there is much purpose in doing it.” -- Outgoing Sec of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Fox News, Dec 14

Friday, December 15, 2006

Polish Macaca

POLISH President Lech Kaczynski, taking questions from reporters, told an aide to not take a question from "that monkey in red."

He thought no one heard. But a television camera picked it up. (The Austrailian)

Friday's Political News Roundup

A Penny Saved is Two Cents in Scrap Metal

It's now against the law to melt down pennies and nickles. Why would that be enough of a problem to outlaw melting?

Turns out the metals in pennies and nickels are now worth more as metal than as currency.

And leave that roll of quarters at home when you travel abroad. The new law also bans traveling outside the country with more than $5 change in your pocket. (CNN)

Using Illegals to Build a Border Fence?

A company that built part of the US-Mexico border fence has been busted for hiring illegal aliens. Golden State Fence Company faces $5-million in fines, and two of it's execs could face jail time.

The company calls itself "Home of the American Dream" on it's website. Guess that's what those illegal immigrants were doing there. (NPR, HT: Crooks and Liars)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday's Political News Roundup

Sen Tim Johnson (D-SD) rushed to emergency surgery, audio of the conversation where Sen Johnson was struck down, Democrats visit the mid-East to seek peace talks.

Yeah, But You Should see What they Bid for Dessert with Ray Nagin

Dinner with Gov Kathleen Blanco (D-LA) went for a whopping $1 dollar at a charity auction in Louisiana. The Monroe Chamber of Commerce put on the auction -- and issued an apology to the Governor.

Bidding started at $1,000 -- dropped to $500 -- then Malcolm Maddox, a regional chairman for Capital One snapped it up for a buck.

Mr Maddox did donate $1,000 to the chamber after the dust up. (AP via Yahoo!)

Cover Girl Dick Cheney

It's not TIME's "Man of the Year," but it's a pretty good rip-off of National Lampoon's funniest cover ever (below).

Texas Monthly has named Veep Dick Cheney "Bum Steer of the Year" (left).

It's more proof that the Veep will never live down the fact that he lived out Americans' third favorite fantasy: shooting a lawyer in the face.

"He may be number two in the White House, but to us he'll always be number one with a bullet." -- from Texas Monthly on their choice of Dick Cheney as "Bum Steer of the Year"
The issue hits newstands next week. Lock and load.

BTW both the lawyer and the dog survived. So we're hitting .500. (HuffPost/Texas Monthly)

Stroke of Luck for the GOP?

The balance of power in the US Senate hinges on the health of Sen Tim Johnson (D-SD). Sen Johnson underwent brain surgery Wednesday night after falling ill during a conference call with reporters.

If he leaves office, South Dakota's Republican governor would get to name his replacement, leaving the Senate in a 50-50 tie with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the deciding vote.

But the Senate has a long history of incapacitated Senators remaining in office -- Strom Thurmond being perhaps the most famous. That could prevent the Democrats from losing their majority.

Senator Johnson was rushed to George Washington University hospital. The cause of his condition has not been made public yet. His staff says it was NOT a stroke nor heart attack. (WaPo)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fact Finding Holiday Trip -- on the Taxpayers' Dime

Senate Majority Leader designate Harry Reid (D-NV) will lead a New Years fact finding tour to points south.

That includes a New Year's Eve event at Machu Picchu -- legendary lost city of the Incas -- in the Andes (right). From Al Kamen in the Washington Post:
"The hardy group -- about 25 strong -- includes Sens. Kent Conrad
(D-N.D.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), plus spouses, Senate aides and military escorts, we're told."
They'll be flying on military transports -- avoiding long lines at the airports -- oh yeah, and having to buy their own tickets. (WaPo)

Hitting Below the Waterline

The "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" have been torpedoed with a $299,000 fine for playing swift and loose with election laws.

The Federal Election Commission ruled that if a 527 organization -- like the Swifties -- have no other purpose other than to act for or against a specific candidate -- they have to register as a political committee.

As a 527, they could accept unlimited contributions. As a political committee, they faced $5,000 limits.

Bob Perry funneled $9 million of his own cash into the Swifties and two other 527s, helping the organization this fine. (TPM, cartoon from

Naming Names in the 109th

Don't call the 109th Congress "do-nothing." They sure named a lot of buildings. CNN reports:

"Of the 383 pieces of legislation that were signed into law during the two-year 109th Congress, more than one-quarter dealt with naming or renaming federal buildings and structures -- primarily post offices -- after various Americans."
Three-day work weeks, the least time in session in decades, and most of last year's budget left unfinished.

I'm sure we can all come up with a few choice names of our own for this Congress. The Capitol may be built of granite and marble, but it's sure been infested with a lot of goldbricks. (CNN)

Wednesday's Political News Roundup

An also ran runs again, Democrats on Darfur, and President Bush delays his decision on finding "a new way forward."

Demanding Anthrax Answers

Five years after anthrax attacks killed Americans in New Jersey, Washington, DC and Florida -- and forced Congress into temporary offices and a crisis mode -- the case remains unsolved. And Congress wants to know why.

Thirty-five lawmakers have fired off a bi-partisan letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales demanding he update Congress on the case.

The AG has not talked to Congress about it citing the potential for leaks. The Congressional letter writers say he shouldn't use that as an excuse to dodge answering to Congress in it's oversight role of how well the FBI is doing it's job. (AP)


US military casualties in Iraq have now topped 25,000 -- a total of dead and wounded. That's after 3 years, 9 months of war.

Newsweek has a multimedia presentation looking back. (Newsweek)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Congressional Blogging

If your Congressman can figure out how to load something into that series of tubes called the Internets, he may soon be blogging.

The House of Representatives has added blogging tools to House websites so the tools you elect can share their unfiltered opinions and mindless wanderings.

Fmr Rep Mark Foley will have to settle for his MySpace page.

To find your Congressman's blog -- just use the Google. (Wonkette)

Sen Obama's Announcement

Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) makes an important announcement:


GOP Dream Team (Hey, Nightmares are Dreams)

Republican strategists are reportedly sweating the possibility of a Clinton-Obama ticket in 2008. Their theory is that Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY) would easily carry the states that Sen John Kerry (D-MA) carried in 2004.

But Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) would pick up swing states -- like Ohio -- to put the Democrats over the top. (USNews)

Pulled Pork

Democrats have cooked up a way to remove billions of dollars worth of pork from unfinished budget bills the last Congress left behind.

The Chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees plan to kill thousands of "earmarks" -- hometown, pet projects Congressmen insert into spending bills to "bring home the bacon" to their districts. (CNN)

Tuesday's Political News Roundup

Poll Position: Iraq Insurgency Grows in America

CBS News Poll

President Bush has hit a new low in the latest CBS News poll for his handling of the Iraq War. Just 21% approve of the way he's approaching the war. Some highlights:
  • 43% say keep fighting, but with new tactics
  • 50% say withdraw from Iraq
  • 4% say "stay the course"

The poll shows 62% of Americans now say it was a mistake to send US troops to Iraq. That's slightly more than told a Gallup Poll back in 1973 that Vietnam was a mistake. (CBS)

USA Today/Gallup Poll

More than half of the respondents -- 55% -- told a USA Today/Gallup Poll they want most US troops withdrawn within a year.

A record high 62% say the war in Iraq isn't "worth it." Another and a record low 16% believe the US is winning. (Reuters)

ABC News/Washington Post Poll

A new ABC News/Washington Post Poll finds 70% of Americans disapprove of the President's handling of the Iraq War. And 60% say the war was not worth it. (WaPo)

The War on Hanukkah

The Seattle Rabbi who pressured Seattle's SeaTac Airport to put up a Menorah along with the rest of it's holiday decorations has been flooded with hate mail and threatening phone calls.

The airport overreacted, pulling down Christmas trees instead of putting up a Menorah.
"We are not part of the war on Christmas. All we asked for was inclusion and now we're getting hate mail and angry messages." -- Harvey Grad, attorney for Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky
The airport's now changed it's mind -- returning the trees and saying they'll have a Menorah in time for Hannukkah. (Reuters)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Congress Posts Porn on the Internet

The House Ethics Committee has posted the Mark Foley IMs on their website. There are 104 pages of IM transcripts. The Committee also posted their full list of exhibits in their investigation.

Monday's Political News

Bond. Google Bond.

The CIA was "just too busy" to help the State Department determine who in Iran should be sanctioned for their involvement in that country's nuke program.

So State assigned the job to a junior Foreign Service officer. He went to Google.

Iranians with the most hits when he searched "iran + nuclear" wound up on a sanctions list the State Department circulated around the UN Friday.

The CIA says none of the 12 names on the list are involved in Iran's most suspicious nuclear activities. But the spooks won't name the serious names -- because, well, they're secret so there's nothing that can be done about them -- except to protect their names from the world.

Another slam dunk! (WaPo)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Criminal Report

Sen Gordon Smith (R-OR) has called the "stay the course" approach to the Iraq War as potentially criminal.
“I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal.”
Here's the CNN report:

The Bug Man Blogs

Nothing gets by them wiley Republicans. You can't slow down "the tubes" enough to prevent them from using "the Google" on "the Internets."

That's why I've suddenly gotten competition from Tom Delay who's jumped on the blogging bandwagon. From the first post at
"I have created this blog in order to provide Americans with a new meeting place where such opinions and viewpoints might be better shared, discussed and debated; a place where conservative and traditionalist Americans might speak truth to power and to one another.

In all honesty, I did not fully realize the impact or potential of the blogosphere until very recently…"
There you go, confirming them rumors on the Internet. (

Cold Hard Cash

Maybe the folks in New Orleans understand that $90,000 in marked bills provided in an FBI sting found in a freezer are nothing but a necessary ingredient in some Creole dish. Maybe they're just nuts.

Whichever. Rep William Jefferson (D-LA) won his run-off election to return to Congress -- despite the fact the FBI paid him 100-grand in a bribery sting and recovered 90-grand of that cold, hard cash in his freezer during a raid a few later.

The Democrat's re-election is a rare treat for Republicans who didn't stand a chance at taking the seat -- but can use his re-election as a handy item to beat the Democrats who've promised to clean up corruption on Capitol Hill. (WaPo)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Guess his North Poll Numbers are Bad, Too

When Santa Claus came charging onto stage at Thursday's lighting of the National Christmas tree -- he was kept away from President Bush by a glass wall.

Was it bulletproof glass?

We're still waiting for a leak of the "naughty and nice list" which might shed more clues on the need to keep the President safe from Jolly Old St Nick.

The Secret Service apparently cleared Santa later on, and the President shared the stage with Santa. Though Mr Bush does look like Santa's a little too close for comfort this close to Christmas in the picture (above).

But Eartha Kitt, that's another story. (White House)

What a Sense of Humor

Maybe it's the new grandchild on the way. Vice President Dick Cheney actually caught laughing.

David Letterman unveils "Dick Cheney, That's Funny!"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Remembering a December Morning

It's been 65 years since Pearl Harbor.

America changed more on December 7, 1941, than on any one day in our history.

Stephen Ambrose points out in The Wild Blue:

"The US Army at the beginning of World War II had fewer than 200,000 men (26,000 of them in the Army Air Corps), which meant it ranked 16th in the world, right behind Romania. The Army was pitifully smaller than the millions of men in the Japanese, German, and Italian armies. By June, 1941, the US Army Air Corps had been built up to 1,257 combat planes, nearly all of them inferior to the Japanese Zero, which outnumbered them anyway, and to the German Luftwaffe's fighter fleet, which was four times larger than the American fleet and growing rapidly."

Before December 7, 1941, the US had never had much of a standing Army in peacetime. The Pentagon, just finished to consolidate command and control for the expected war, was intended to be temporary -- a concrete tent to be struck when the war was over and turned into a warehouse as America drew down its military.

We never did.

We've replaced the threat of 1941 with the threat of 1945 with the threat of 2001.

Sixty-five years after Pearl Harbor, America is the world's only superpower. We spend more on defense than the next ten nations combined. And that spending is the largest share of the federal budget.

It's largely because we remember Pearl Harbor.

FEMA Dealing with a Financial Disaster

The Government Accountability Office found FEMA has recouped less than 1% of the $1 billion GAO claims it blew on fraudulent payments after Hurricane Katrina.

The latest audit shows FEMA giving housing payments to people living rent-free in FEMA shelters.

Other squandered money:
  • $20 million in double payments for people who claimed the same damage from Hurrican Katrina and Hurricane Rita
  • $3 million dollars in aid to foreign students not eligible for FEMA assistance
  • Of 20 flat bottom boats FEMA bought -- the agency can't find 18 of them, and can't find the legal titles for the other two
An earlier audit spotlighted $1 billion in FEMA fraud and waste. FEMA itself has only identified $290 million in improper payments -- and collected only $7 million of that. (AP)

A Busy Final Hour in Office

Former Gov Frank Murkowski (R-AK) left office this month after being a lame duck since coming in third in the GOP Primary.

But not before appointing 35 friends to key state positions in the final hour he was in office. Yep -- 35 appointments in an hour.

That includes former Chief of Staff Jim Clark named to the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority. Mr Clark has been a loggerheads with the panel since it was created.

Gov Sara Palin (R-AK) plans to review those 11th hour appointments. She didn't find out about them until walking on stage to take the oath of office this week. (Anchorage Daily News, HT:

"Slide Toward Chaos"

The Iraq Study Group has released it's report -- calling the situation in Iraq "grave and deteriorating."

It warns that a "slide toward chaos" could trigger a regional war unless the US changes course. The Group makes 79 reccommendations, but admits it may be impossible to stabilize Iraq for years.

Lessee here...uh......just looking through...the report.

Hmmm, "grave and deteriorating"..."regional war"..."slide toward chaos"...

Hey, anything in here about being welcomed as liberators? How about WMDs? Final throes?

Nope. Just stuff like...lessee..."Ethnic cleansing could escalate"..."Freedoms could be lost"...

Oh, here we go! Something familiar!

"Heckuva job!" (WaPo)

Latest Video News Reports on the Iraq Study Group Report

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tracking the E-Mail Trail

Be careful what you e-mail or IM from the office. New federal rules require your boss to hang on to all electronic communications if he and the company wind up in litigation.

Looks like fmr Rep Mark Foley (R-FL) quit his job just in time! (MyFoxNY)

Pensions for Prisoners

Around 20 civic groups are calling on the new Democratic majority in Congress to ban pensions for members convicted of a crime.

Fmr Rep Duke Cunningham (R-CA) is drawing $64,000 a year while sitting in prison. When fmr Rep Bob Ney (R-OH) turns 60, he'll collect $29,000 a year from us taxpayers. And if current investigations lead to a conviction for fmr Rep Mark Foley (R-FL), he'll still have a $32,000 pension. At a dime apiece, that'd pay for a lot of text messages. (ABC- The Blotter)

Now that "Hunger's" Eliminated -- Time to Eat Up!

The First Lady is handing out her annual Christmas at the White House menu for upcoming holiday receptions. Those of you dealing with "very low food security" may have trouble reading the list:
  • Colossal Shrimp Cocktail and Jonah Crab Claws (Served with Ramsey’s Cocktail Sauce and Spiced Remoulade).
  • Stuffed Turkey Breasts with Winter Mushrooms, Cheese and Brandied Cranberries
  • Sugar Cured Virginia Ham with Hot Pepper Mustard (Served with Warm Blue Corn Muffins)
  • Chicken Fried Beef Tenderloin with White Onion Gravy (Served with Tiny Icebox Rolls)
  • Herb Roasted Lollipop Lamb Chops served with Warm Yeast Rolls
  • Chocolate Roulade (Christmas Log): Soft Ganache Frosting with a Chocolate Sponge, Meringue Mushrooms, Magnolia Leaves in White Chocolate, Raspberries
  • Mini Tartlettes
  • Pecan Pie, Lemon Meringue Pie, Orange Chiffon and Chocolate Boston Cream Pie.
    Chocolate Truffles
  • Homemade, Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
  • Long Stem Strawberries with Dark Chocolate Dipping Sauce's War Room has the complete list. (

Friday's Video Roundup

Aisle Seat, Huh? We'll be Detaining You

Turns out the feds have branded millions of us with a "terrorist rating."

They've been keeping tabs on our travels -- and our travel preferences. They've kept tabs on the number of one-way tickets we've bought, how we paid for them, our seat preferences, and the kind of meal preferences on our flights.

They've even been tapping into our driving records: "You in a heap o' trouble boy. You were doing five miles over the speed limit. Why do you speeders hate freedom?"

Apparently not wanting to sit in the middle seat, not wanting the worst food offered on the flight, and getting caught taking a "California rolling stop" at the stop sign makes us more of a terrorist risk.

Gotta figure the NSA's been busy tapping phones of stand up comics everywhere for bad mouthing airline food. Seinfeld alone could bump bin Laden off the FBI's ten most wanted list!

On top of that, we're not allowed to find out about our terrorist rating, nor challenge it -- and it's kept on file for 40 years. Now, sit back and enjoy the trip. (AP)

2008 Target Date

Indications are the Iraq Study Group's report -- set for release Wednesday -- will call for having nearly all US troops out of Iraq by early 2008.

The plan would allow for US troops to be stationed in such a way they could return quickly if needed.

But it would shift the responsibility of defending Iraq to the Iraqis and end the occupation nature of the US military in the country. (WaPo)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Podcast: Cuba Libre!

Pour yourself another rum and Coke. You'll need a drink after hearing how your tax dollars were spent.

Download MP3 File

Today's Political News Video

Already Breaking a Campaign Promise

A key campaign promise from the Democratic Party is already getting scaled back. Democrats promised to implement all 41 reccomendations from the 9/11 Commission.

They're leaving one out. From the Washington Post:

"Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers."
The Commission wanted Congress to give more power to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. They wanted the Committees to help shape the nation's intel policies.

But doing that would strip power from the Armed Services Committees and their ability to fund the military.

And it's hard to get a Congressman to give up power. (WaPo)

Jeb Bush Defends his Third Wolrd Country

Rep Tom Tancredo (R-CO) likes to brag about the wealth of the upscale Denver suburbs he represents in Congress. And you really can't build up your neighborhood without tearing down someone else's, now, can you?

Rep Tancredo is in the middle of a political shouting match with Gov Jeb Bush (R-FL) after the Congressman called Miami "a third world country." Gov Bush calls the Congressman "naive." (CBSNews)

Iraq Study Group: Draw Down the Troops

The bi-partisan Iraq Study Group issues it's report next Wednesday. The New York Times reports it will call for a gradual pullback of 15 US combat brigades -- roughly half the troop strength currently in Iraq.

The report comes as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki suggested the US begin withdrawing troops in June, 2007. (NYT)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bad North Korea, No More iPods for You!

In the latest US move to show it's displeasure with North Korea's missile and nuke programs, the Bush administration wants to ban the import of iPods, plasma screen TVs and Segway scooters to the country that doesn't have enough money to buy food.

This satelitte photo shows the lack of lights in North Korea -- suggesting that expensive electronics won't exactly be missed.

Other items on the list the Associated Press obtained:
  • Conac
  • Rolex watches
  • Artwork
  • Luxury cars
  • Harley Davidson motorcycles
  • Jet Skis
The idea is that the ban on shipping luxury items into North Korea would hurt leader Kim Jong Il's extravagant lifestyle because, lord knows, a rogue nation's despot hellbent on exporting missiles and building a atom bomb would never resort to smuggling his goodies in. (AP)

Wear and Tear Adding Up

Wear and tear on Army and Marine Corps equipment may lead to equipment shortages in the near future.

USA Today reports as much as $2 billion worth of equipment is wearing out or being destroyed every month in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's about a quarter of the $8 billion a month spent on the wars.

The newspaper quotes Leon Panetta -- former Clinton advisor now serving on the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group -- as saying the military needs $50-to-$60 billion just to re-equip and restore units returning from Iraq. (USAToday)

Them's Fightin' Words

Senator-elect Jim Webb (D-VA) says he was mad enough to punch the President. It came when the two met and over comments the President made referring to Mr Webb's son -- who's serving in Iraq. From the Washington Post:

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House."
During the campaign, Mr Webb wore a pair of his son's combat boots at his appearances. (WaPo)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Podcast: Eliminating Hunger

Your government has eliminated hunger. Really pretty easy. They just quit using the word "hunger."

Download MP3 File

This Stuff Only Happens in the Movies

Hollywood wants you to pay them fifty bucks to watch television in your home.

The movie industry lobbyists are pushing a bill to require you to register your television and stereo system as a "home theatre" -- or face a stiff fine if you want to see Biodome 3:
"The MPAA defines a home theater as any home with a television larger than 29" with stereo sound and at least two comfortable chairs, couch, or futon. Anyone with a home theater would need to pay a $50 registration fee with the MPAA or face fines up to $500,000 per movie shown."
Wanna play critic and send them your review? Here's the MPAA's contact info. (Slashdot)

Poll Position: Bush Bottoming Out

President Bush has hit his second lowest approval rating ever in the Harris Interactive Poll. Only 31% of those polled approve of his job.

The Wall Street Journal tracks six major polls (above) on President Bush's approval rating since taking office in 2001. Click on the graphic to see a larger version. (

Can't Be -- No One's Wearing Blue & Gray

With NBC now referring to the sectarian violence in Iraq as a "civil war," the White House publicly rejects the term.

National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley says it's simply a "new phase."

A "new phase." From the same people who replaced "hunger" with "very low food security." (TampaBay 10)

Watching the Watchers

The Justice Department Inspector General has launched an investigation into what the Department's been doing with information gleaned from the warrantless wiretapping program. (AP via Yahoo!)

$13.7 Million -- Will You Accept Change?

An Ohio judge has ordered GOP fundraiser Thomas Noe to repay $3 million spent to investigate and prosecute him.

That's part of the $13.7 million he has to repay taxpayers for his role in a rare-coin scandal that embezzled millions from state investments.

Backlash from "Coingate" led to political collapse in the Ohio GOP this year, as Democrats swept statewide races and won House seats and the US Senate seat from Republican incumbents. (NYT)

Monday, November 27, 2006

What would the Prince of Peace Do?

A Colorado homeowners association has joined the "War on Christmas" -- demanding that a peace symbol be taken down.

The association promises to fine Lisa Jensen $25 a day until she takes down a Christmas wreath shaped like a peace symbol.

An HOA committee ruled the wreath was acceptable, but the association's president fired them and ordered it removed anyway. (AP via Yahoo!)

The HOA has backed off the fines.