Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hookers at the Watergate, Lines at the Pump

A scandal at the Watergate, the administration declares an "energy crisis" -- holy crap! Call Wilmer Valderama -- or whatever his name is! I'm having a flashback to the 70s!


Energy Crisis Declared

US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman -- appearing on NBC's Meet the Press -- says the current situation with oil and gasoline prices can be termed an "energy crisis."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

United 93

It was a tough 111 minutes.

I saw United 93 today -- the movie about the passengers and crew of the fourth plane hijacked on 9/11.

Went to Potomac Yards to see it -- the theatre closest to the Pentagon.

I have to agree with the reviewer for the Washington Post:

"United 93 is a great movie, and I hated every minute of it." -- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post review of United 93, 4/28/06
I caught myself hoping the film would end differently than the day did.

I caught myself punching my fist into the palm of my left hand, leaning on the edge of my seat wanting to help the people on the screen. I heard people in the audience sobbing.

I caught myself wondering how a foot soldier in Sam Houston's army would have reacted if he'd seen John Wayne playing Davy Crockett in "The Alamo?"

Flight 93 Survivors

The film ends with a notation that there were no survivors on the plane. But there were hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of survivors on the ground because of those 40 people.

I am one of them. I was on Capitol Hill on 9/11.

I've been ridiculed for thanking the passengers and crew of United 93 for likely saving my life. Those who ridicule the thanks of "Flight 93 Survivors" are small people. Not like the giants flying to San Francisco on 9/11.

The passengers and crew deserve my thanks - the thanks of everyone at the White House and Capitol that day - and the thanks of "a grateful nation."

Thanks in Silence and Sobbing

In a small way, I heard those "thank yous" repeated today -- in the silence after the movie ended. The audience filed out as if it were a funeral.

And I saw the "thank yous," too.

There were three middle-aged men. They had that look you pick up on: the haircuts, the way they wear casual civilian clothes with a formality that lets you know they'd been career military. That close to the Pentagon -- you have to wonder if they didn't work there -- worked there on 9/11.

They were big men.

They stared quietly at the closing credits. Tightly holding hands. Tears on their cheeks.

Rush Booking Blotter

Radio talker Rush Limbaugh has been arrested in the long running oxycotin investigation.

Crooks and Liars has a larger version of the booking blotter.

Mr Limbaugh has entered a plea deal to have the charge dropped.

Under terms of the plea bargin, Mr Limbaugh will see the charge dropped in 18 months if he meets certain requirements:

    • He must continue treatment for addiction
    • Pay $30,000 to cover costs of the
    • Pay $30 per month for supervision
Mr Limbaugh's attorney says the plea bargin does not constitute an admission of guilt. (WashPost/Crooks & Liars)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Vodcast: The Senator & The Sopranos

Gang war breaks out between Tony Soprano's and Rick Santorum's crews, a nasty letter from a Congresswoman, and "the Great Escape" from reporters in Florida.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Vodcast -- Graffiti Tagging Air Force One and Musical Rocking Chairs at the White House


Could Stem Cells Cure Democrats' Woes?

Democrats are using stem cell research to drive up voter turnout in the mid-term election.

The New York Times counts nine states where the issue is playing to receptive voters:

"The question of whether the government should support or limit stem cell research has cropped up in Senate races in Maryland and Missouri, and in House races in California, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin, especially in suburban swing districts." -- (NYT)

FEMA Wants Payback

FEMA wants 625 Texans to pay back $1.26 million in aid they got after Hurricane Rita.

FEMA claims the Texans filed claims on "secondary residences" -- beach houses and such.

Those aren't covered under FEMA aid.

The agency also sent out multiple $2,000 payments to the same person -- or members of the same family. Those were supposed to be single payments per household. (LAT)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Do as I Say -- Not as I Do

President Bush welcomed Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House Thursday with a statement about expanding freedom -- including free speech -- for the Chinese people.

"...China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship." -- President Bush, White House, April 20
Seconds later, a Chinese protestor began disrupting the Chinese President's speech. It took a painfully long time for the Secret Service to get to her, and carry her off the White House grounds.

CNN Live Coverage of the Hu Heckler

White House Caves to Chinese Demands

But it wasn't just protestors who weren't allowed to "speak freely."

Generally, when a head of state visits the White House, there is a joint press conference with President Bush. Not today. The White House banned any unscripted questions to President Hu -- to save him any potential embarrassment at home.

Today's Washington Post editorals include this assessment:

The White House's acquiescence to a Chinese demand that Mr. Hu not be subjected to possibly embarrassing queries about political prisoners, religious freedom or censorship of the Internet symbolizes a major element of Mr. Bush's policy -- his willingness to relegate China's worsening performance on political freedom and human rights to a back burner.
But the visit will "look" good on television -- even if there's little sound of consequence. (The White House/WashPost)

United 93

The Hollywood Reporter has a review of United 93 -- the film opening later this month about the passengers and crew who fought to take control of their hijacked plane on 9/11.

Reviewer Kirk Honeycutt says "[Paul] Greengrass has made not only a thoroughly fact-checked film but a film that uncontrovertibly comes from the heart."
Bottom line: Unflinching account of the terror aboard the fourth hijacked plane on Sept. 11 provokes deep, disturbing
-- Hollywood Reporter
review of United 93

The review details how civilian air controllers were cast to play themselves -- recreating much of what they went through as Flight 93 flew toward its target. (Hollywood Reporter)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

That Rattle -- Must be Brass Balls in the Spray Paint Can

Did fashion designer and video game creator Marc Ecko tag Air Force One? Check out the video.

It's a hoax -- but nicely done. Anyone attempting the real thing would be met with very serious Airmen -- with shoot to kill orders. (

Eyes on the Prize

Differing views on this year's Pulitizer Prize winners:

"[Pulitzer Prize winners Dana Priest, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau] took classified information, secret information, published it in their newspapers, against the wishes of the president. ...I don't think what they did was worthy of an award -- I think what they did was worthy of jail." -- CNN commentator & Reagan/Bush administration Cabinet Secretary William Bennett

"In particular, the awards presented to reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times and Dana Priest of the Washington Post as well as editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution could be called a reflection of Bush's declining national approval rating." -- Jon Friedman, Marketwatch, DowJones Publishing (Romensko)

Life Imitates Art -- McClellan Quits; Rove Demoted

White house spokesman Scott McClellan is calling it quits.

The cable nets are racing to cover it, but Saturday Night Live broke the story over the weekend.

And they gave us an idea of the shape of things to come.

Now, the real deal.

In addition, advisor Karl Rove has been removed from his policy development role. The White House says they're freeing him up for political duties in the mid-term elections. (NBC/Video HT: Expose the Left)

Army Times has an online poll this week asking whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should resign. Army Times is a privately owned publication that publishes news primarily for active duty and retired soldiers.

As of Wednesday morning at 5:00 am EDT, the vote was running 67% in favor of Mr Rumsfeld's resignation.

The poll is non-scientific and anyone aware of it can vote. But it's a surprise considering the audience.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Value Voters Strategy

USA Today reports that the GOP is lining up social issues at the state level to get conservative voters to the polls in November.

They appear to be focusing on three items at the national level:
  • Protection of marriage amendment
  • Anti-flag burning legislation
  • New abortion limits

Gay marriage bans in several states are credited with boosting conservative turnout in the 2004 election by enough voters to put President Bush over the top for re-election.

But the GOP also failed miserably with a similar tack in the 1992 elections with their "Family Values" campaign. (USAToday)

Ryan Found Guilty on All Counts

Former Governor George Ryan (R-IL) (left) has been convicted on 18 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, and other federal charges. That's every count federal prosecutors brought against him.

He'd been accused of steering state business to his cronies while he was Illinois Secretary of State. Prosecutors showed he got vacations and gifts for the deals. (Chicago Tribune)

UFOs, WMDs & the "Governatorometer"

The Bush administration mistakes weather balloons for weapons of mass destruction and the Governoratorometer measures west coast voter preferences.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Saturday, April 15, 2006

GOP Senator Predicts 7 Lawmakers will go from "The People's House" to the "Big House"

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) predicts six US Representatives and one US Senator will go to jail over the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Sen Coburn wouldn't name names, but told a town hall meeting in Wagoner, Oklahoma they could figure it out for themselves by keeping up with news reports.

He says "earmarks" -- or pork barrel spending -- is at the heart of the scandal and will be the factor that ends up convicting lawmakers. (TRS)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Man Attacks Folks Who Buy Ink by the Barrel

The White House is blaming the messenger over the mess from the weather balloon trailers.

The Washington Post and ABC reported that President Bush and other members of his administration pointed to two trailers (left) captured in Iraq as proof of WMDs.

The administration continued to call the trailers mobile biological weapons labs -- for months after a Pentagon investigation determined they were for making hydrogen to fill weather balloons.

As we noted yesterday -- weather balloons have been mistaken for UFOs before -- but this is the first time they've been mistaken for WMDs.

Both the Post and ABC have run quotes and soundbites from the President and his administration over the weeks and months after the report was filed.

The White House has attacked the message:

"This is reckless reporting and for you all to go on the air this morning and make such a charge is irresponsible, and I hope that ABC would apologize for it and make a correction on the air." -- White House Spokesman Scott McClellan, Briefing, Wednesday, April 13.
Not a smart challenge when you're going after someone with a well-stocked video library.

ABC responded by running soundbites from Secretary of State Condi Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney publicly referring to the trailers as mobile weapons labs.

Meanwhile, DNC Chairman Howard Dean has called for the President to declassify the report to help set the record straight. That's a somewhat tongue-in-cheek response to last week's White House response to leaks of WMD intel to the New York Times. The administration then said the President could declassify intel to make his case. (WashPost)

Transcript of Flight 93 Voice Recorder

The Washington Post has the transcript from the flight recorder in United flight 93 -- the plane which passengers and crew forced down after it was hijacked on 9/11.

The recording adds weight to the stories of heroism that took place on the flight. As the Post headline says -- "Flight 93 Myth Becomes Reality."

The recording was played as part of the Moussaoui trial in Virginia.

With the transcript released, and a major film about the flight opening later this month, the passengers and crew are back in the spotlight as leading the biggest victory of the day - likely saving the Capitol and hundreds of lives on the ground.

It's time again to call on Washington to award the passengers and crew of Flight 93 this nation's highest civilian honor -- the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The medal was awarded to former CIA honcho George Tenent (left) for his "slam dunk" in intel leading up to the Iraq War. We've since learned that intel was seriously flawed. And let's not forget, the CIA failed us on 9/11.

The passengers and crew of Flight 93 didn't. (WashPost)

Nanny & the Congressman

Two former staffers claim Rep John Conyers, Jr (D-MI) made them babysit his kids -- while on the taxpayers' payroll.
"'Later' could be frantically calling around trying to find him because it was now 8 or 9 p.m. or later in the evening and not knowing what to do with the children." -- Sydney Rooks, former aide to Rep Conyers, accusing the Congressman of turning her into a baby-sitter, saying he'd be back for his kids "later"
Ms Rooks and Deanna Maher say they were also required to run personal errands for the Congressman and work on political campaigns. (CNN)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

President Bush Joins the X-Files

From today's Washington Post:

"On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile 'biological laboratories.' He declared, 'We have found the weapons of mass destruction.'"

Turns out, the trailers were NOT for making WMDs. Turns out, a Pentagon fact-finding team transmitted that finding in a unanimous report to Washington two days before Mr Bush made his announcement.

Turns out -- the trailers were for making hydrogen -- for weather balloons.

Now, we all know that people for years have mistaken weather balloons for UFOs.

President Bush becomes the first person to mistake them for WMDs. (WashPost)

Cheney Booed

It was a long walk to the pictcher's mound for Vice President Dick Cheney. The crowd booed his whole appearance. Imagine if John Rocker had been traded to the old Negro League.

Mr Cheney was at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC to throw out the first pitch of the home opener for the Washington Nationals.

To make matters worse for the Veep -- he, to use the technical term, "throws like a girl." The pitch barely made the plate. (AP via Crooks & Liars)

Friday, April 07, 2006

A Fine Mess

Washington isn't collecting the fines owed our government. And that's costing taxpayers.

The Associated Press pored through federal records and found the amount of unpaid federal fines shot up dramatically in the past decade.
"The government is currently owed more than $35 billion in fines and other payments from criminal and in civil cases, according to Justice Department figures." -- Associated Press

Tuns out, both individuals and corporations routinely avoid large penalties for wrongdoing.

They try negotiations, bankruptcy, or simply relying on the government to lose track ow who owes what.

So how much is this costing you?

The folks at the AP, say enough to cover the annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security. (IRE)

This Little Piggie

Citizens Against Government Waste is out with their annual Pig Book this week -- listing the worst abuses of pork barrel spending.

On their list:
  • $13.5 million for an Irish group that funds the World Toilet Summit
  • $1 million for water-free urinals
  • $500,000 for a teapot museum
CAGW tallies up a record $29 billion in pet projects that Congress spent your money on this year. (MSNBC)


"Eventful" is a new website that -- in part -- lets you request a performance in your community. The idea is to put popular demand on the Internet -- showing what concert or performance is in most demand in your particular town.

What's the most demanded performance in Washington, DC?

As of this morning, it was the Impeachment of George W. Bush.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jazzy Blossoms

Cherry blossom time in DC. A photo essay on one of the coolest times of the year in Washington.

Bush and the Leaks

The indicted former Chief of Staff to VP Dick Cheney says President Bush himself authorized leaking sensitive intel to the New York Times in the lead up to the Iraq War.

Scooter Libby (left) was indicted for his role in the Valerie Plame case.

The revelation about the President's role in the intel leaks were revealed in court papers filed this week. They do not specifically refer to the leak of Ms Plame's identity. (AP)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tom, We Hardly Knew Ye

Tom DeLay's resignation from Congress translated into English -- and a look at his legacy and contradictions.


DeLay Announces Resignation From Congress

Facing falling poll numbers and a mounting criminal case against him -- Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) will announce later today he's resigning from the House. (WashPost)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

General Disagreement

General Tony Zinni was there at the start of the Iraq War. He gives it's handling low marks. And a former POW talks about Jill Carroll's taped statements while she was held hostage.