<!-- Begin meta tags generated by ORblogs --> </meta name="keywords" content="progressive, liberal, politics, government, edit, language, grammar, accuracy, honesty, clarity, world, news, media" /> </> <!-- End meta tags generated by ORblogs -->> Editor at Large: December 2004

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Top 10 spam subject lines

America Online has released its second annual top 10 spam terms, listing the subject lines of the most popular junk e-mails intended for its 29 million subscribers. The top 10 subject lines are:

• We carry the most popular medications

• You've been sent an Insta-Kiss!

• You Have 17 New Pictures


• All orders are shipped from authorized locations

• 2005 Digital Cable Filters

• F R E E* 30 Second Pre-Qualification MORTGAGE Application

• HURRY HURRY Hot Stock on the RISE


• Breaking news on the Top Pick stock

Hmmm...Viagra and penis enlargement seem to have taken a back seat to other forms of hedonism. At least it's still true that a fool and his or her money—and personal information— are easily parted.


Washington loser wants rematch

Dino Rossi, the Republican candidate for Washington governor who "won" the November 2 election by a few votes and a recount by even fewer votes but then lost the third count, wants the state to vote again.

In a letter to his Democratic opponent, Christine Gregoire, Rossi wrote: "The uncertainty surrounding this election process isn't just bad for you and me it is bad for the entire state. People need to know for sure that the next governor actually won the election."

Gregoire's response: "N-O. No."

We're with Gregoire—not just because she's a Democrat and a woman, but because a revote would cost the state $4 million. Not to mention more time, energy, and patience, which are all in very short supply in Washington right now.


Had you heard about this oil spill in Alaska?

It happened more than three weeks ago, but it certainly wasn't front-page news. More than 355,000 gallons of fuel oil are believed to have spilled from the freighter Selendang Ayu, which ran aground and split in half near Unalaska Island on December 8.

So far, biologists have counted 109 bird carcasses and more than 600 birds coated with oil in the area around the wreck, but they believe that thousands more have been killed.

The spill also caused the cancellation of Unalaska's crab-fishing season, resulting in a loss of nearly $500,000 in revenue.

Also, six members of the ship's crew were killed when a Coast Guard helicopter that had rescued them crashed into the sea.

Why hadn't we heard about this sooner? Is bad news from Iraq trumping bad news from home? And is it a coincidence that both involve our dependence on oil?


Ramsey Clark joins Hussein's defense team

Former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark has joined Saddam Hussein's legal team. Old folks like us remember Clark from his tenure with the Johnson administration. He has been a crusader for the left since leaving government in 1969 and joining the movement against the Vietnam war. He also was involved in the defense of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.

About his decision to defend Hussein, Clark said, "In international law, anyone accused of crime has the right to be tried by a competent, independent, and impartial court, and there can be no fair trial without those qualities. The special court in Iraq was created by the Iraqi governing council, which is nothing more than a creation of the U.S. military occupation."

Think Clark's name will appear on Ann Coulter's hit list of treasonous Americans?


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

What isn't wrong with this picture?

Six Navy Seals and two of their wives are suing The Associated Press and one of its reporters for distributing photos of the Seals that apparently show them treating Iraqi prisoners harshly.

One of the Seals' wives had put the photos on what she believed was a password-protected Web site, and an A.P. reporter found and published them. The suit charges The A.P. with "invasion of privacy" and "intentional infliction of emotional distress."

So let's get this straight:
• The Seals abused the prisoners.
• Someone took photos of the Seals abusing the prisoners.
• One of the Seals gave the photos to his wife.
• The wife put the photos on the Web—in effect, publishing them.
• The A.P. reporter found the photos and, in effect, re-published them.
• The Seals are suing The A.P. and the reporter...for "invasion of privacy" and "intentional infliction of emotional distress."

Sigh. Irony isn't ironic anymore.


Find the boo boos

Two meaning-altering typos in the news...

1. From a Netscape.com article about the tsunamis in southern Asia: "They briefly clung to a telephone poll..." It's amazing they were able to cling to a poll at all (they must have been Democrats).

2. From an article in the December 27 Newsweek: "Kerik...said he would describe it [his relationship with Judith Regan] as a 'brother-sister' elationship." We hope there was some elation in their relationship, because Kerik isn't getting much now.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The battle continues in Ohio

It's not over yet. The number of legal challenges to the vote outcome in Ohio is mounting. Following are edited excerpts from an article about the Ohio vote in today's The Free Press (http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2004/1046). Most of the claims made in these excerpts are outrageous; a few are shocking. But some are also encouraging.

• Yesterday Ohio Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell refused to appear at a deposition that was part of an election challenge lawsuit filed at the Ohio Supreme Court. Meanwhile, John Kerry is reported to have filed a federal legal action aimed at preserving crucial recount evidence, which has been under GOP assault throughout the state.

• Ohio Assistant Attorney General Richard Conglianese is seeking a court order to protect Kenneth Blackwell from testifying under oath about how the election was run. Blackwell, who administered Ohio's November 2 balloting, served as co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign.

• President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and White House Political Advisor Karl Rove received notice that they will be deposed today and tomorrow (December 28 and 29). The trio’s Ohio attorney, Kurt Tunnell, so far claims his clients have not been properly served. Under Ohio law, the Republican-dominated Ohio Supreme Court is responsible for serving the three.

• Voters in Ohio's Trumbull County have testified that on Election Day they received punch-card ballots in which holes were already punched for Bush. And a notarized affidavit signed by Angela Greene, who voted at Whitehall Yearling High School in central Ohio's Franklin County, stated that one of the malfunctioning electronic voting machines at her polling place was delivered without a cartridge – meaning votes cast might have gone uncounted.

• In Ohio's Miami County, Kenneth Blackwell certified a 98.6% turnout in the Concord Southwest precinct, comprised of 520 votes for Bush and 157 for Kerry. This statistically improbable turnout has all but 10 of the 689 registered voters casting their ballots on Election Day. A preliminary canvas by The Free Press of less than half the precinct found 25 registered voters admitting they had not voted, meaning the official tally was almost certainly fraudulent.

• In Madison County, where public records requests were filed to obtain voting records, the voting results provided by the Madison County Board of Elections came directly from a private company, Triad Governmental Systems, Inc. An e-mail dated November 29, 2004, from Brandon Sandlin of Triad, reads as follows: “Hello to all in Madison County! Attached you will find the cumulative report (oh49unov.pdf) with over and under votes reported as well as the official abstract (oh49abs.pdf). These reports may be printed for your records and then mailed to the state along with your other certification reports.” Coming from a private corporation, Triad's letter underscores the barriers to making a reliable independent public assessment and recount of Ohio's presidential tally.

• In Mahoning County, the Washington Post reported new affidavits documenting electronic "vote hopping" from Kerry to Bush. This means voting machines highlighted the choice for Bush before the voter recorded a choice of his or her own. The legal team has been told by a computer expert that this may mean the machines were pre-set on a Bush vote as a default. The Free Press has obtained dozens of such sworn statements of vote hopping.

• The legal team is also exploring new evidence that in Coshocton, Ohio, write-in votes wrongly defaulted to Bush when run through the voting machine.

• The Free Press has obtained a list of all voting machines assigned in Franklin County, including serial numbers. The list contains at least 42 machines originally assigned to predominantly African-American and inner-city wards that voted 80% for Kerry, and where voters waited in line for three hours and more on Election Day. These 42 machines were blacked out on the list, raising the question of whether these were among the 68 machines the Franklin County Board of Elections has admitted holding back in the warehouse despite obvious shortages at certain polling places. Affidavits from poll workers confirm that numerous requests for more machines were made through election day, but that few if any were delivered.

• Members of Congress meet in Washington on January 6 to evaluate the Electoral College vote. Led by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), it is virtually certain numerous members of the Congressional Black Caucus will challenge that vote. But the assent of a Senator is required for the challenge to go forward, and thus far none has definitively confirmed.

• Despite ducking depositions, Blackwell is escalating his public appearances in hopes of becoming Ohio’s next governor. On January 12, 2005, Blackwell is scheduled to speak at the exclusive Scioto Country Club on the topic of “Ethics in Leadership.” [Catch the irony?]

Misogynistic behavior continued

In response to our recent blog entry about men killing their pregnant wives, a reader named Jules wrote the following. It's long but very worthwhile reading.

There are many theories why men are misogynistic (women-hating). We live in a misogynistic culture. One need only watch TV, go on the Web and look at porn (but I'd rather you not), or browse a history book to see women played down as "beneath" men. Our language is derived from misogynistic beliefs. Women have not been studied in science or health, but a male model is always used. Women's bodies are different from men's, and we need women's bodies to develop the science that determines our medical practices.

If we go way back to prehistoric times we find that men needed women in order to centralize power. They needed them to work their fields and produce their offspring. They used brute force then to get women to do what they wanted and they use it today. American culture privileges men through systems of oppression. These are institutions that have the power to distribute resources and do so unfairly—have done so for years. This nation benefits from all the unpaid labor of Native Americans, slaves, and women. The "second shift" is usually the woman's job if she works outside the home.

The history of sexuality is a history of telling men that their "seed" is more important than women's. Only recently has science begun looking at the male's ejaculate as "fertilizer" and women's eggs as "seed." When women marry, they lose power by losing their name. In some cultures they lose much more. People of little power are not respected in Western culture.

Some people believe men hate women because women are usually the primary caregivers of men when they are boys. This makes men feel powerless in the face of their need for their mother's love and approval. With fathers frequently being out of the picture, all the blame is on the mother.

Gender is socially constructed and derived on a sliding scale. There is no 100 percent "male" nor 100 percent "female." We all land somewhere in the middle along the scale, with some of us more at one end than the other. Men are afraid of being penetrated. It is seen as a "woman's" position and as a negative thing that "happens" to you. This also creates a lot of homophobia in our culture. At one time, there was no word for homosexual, nor for heterosexual. Men had sex with men and women with women. It was part of acceptable society. The church/state put an end to all that by questioning whether you were really male if you had a sexual-object choice that was not female. This was to control reproduction and develop armies, workers, and people to support the church. Misogynistic ideas are nurtured through the Bible and its all-male telling of Jesus's life. Mary Magdalene, Jesus’s lover, was downplayed by men (rewriting history decades after Jesus died), making her a whore. A whore and a virgin are the Christian standards for women. No wonder men are confused—and women.

There are many reasons why men are misogynistic. The question for any one man is "Do I hate women?" For a man to truly answer this, he must look at his practices. Does he have women friends? Does he look at porn? Has he ever raped someone? Does he understand how he is privileged? Most men need to take a “difference, power, and discrimination” course of some type to understand these very deep-seated, cultural issues. Women can be misogynistic also, wanting to be on the “winning” team culturally.

None of this excuses the horrible behavior of men such as the ones who kill their pregnant wives to “dispose” of responsibility. We get nowhere when we blame, though—it doesn’t produce understanding or growth and it allows misogynistic ideas and practices to remain in place on the everyday level without questioning them.

Patriarchy doesn’t work for women, but what men don’t understand is that it doesn’t work for men either. Capitalism is at the root of patriarchy. Get rid of one and the other will also perish. Big problems. In the meantime, men and women need to learn to love, to seek refuge from a production/consumption-driven culture. Production and consumption are also at work in nature but with other natural checks and balances in place so as not to “enslave” one animal to another. Only outside of nature is the production/consumption cycle a dangerous one for all of us. We must be driven by a desire to be inside of nature, not above, removed from, or outside of nature. Women, being equated with nature and the physical world (body), are something to exploit, rape, harvest, control, subdue. Men, being equated with the world of intelligence or the Divine, are something to be in control, to be important, special, smarter, etc. As long as we denigrate nature and equate woman with nature, we uphold the denigration of women culturally. We need to stop our production/consumption cycle outside of nature. Production/consumption is a natural process with important checks and balances in place in nature. But outside of nature it enslaves some of us to others of us and makes money more important than life. Thus the hypocrisy of those belonging to patriarchal institutions such as organized religion speaking out as “right to life” advocates. This type of “right” is only about producing and controlling production, or that which women produce. It is not about the right to having life while living or being fully alive, healthy, well, provided for…

Men who kill their pregnant wives are very tied up inside all of this cultural confusion. It is important that we look at all of the cultural cues that led a man to this point and we don’t allow ourselves to just blame the man and learn nothing. Holding him responsible is good, but blame is blinding. A culture that needs us to be blinded will encourage us to blame.

What? It's not safe to work in Iraq?

Contrack International Inc., an engineering and construction company, became the first major U.S. firm to withdraw from a reconstruction contract in Iraq because the deteriorating security situation had made working there too expensive.

The company led a team assigned to rebuild the country's transportation system, including construction of new roads and bridges.

So much for Iraq's highly touted new infrastructure...


Joke of the day

"I am truly saddened by the thought that anyone could have the impression that I, or others here, are doing anything other than working urgently to see that the lives of fighting men and women are protected and are cared for in every way humanly possible." —Donald Rumsfeld, in a news conference obviously designed to make him appear more human


Quote of the day

"It's like watching your son playing in traffic, and there's nothing you can do." —Janet Bellows, mother of a soldier who has been assigned to a second tour in Iraq.


Safire eats crow

In his op-ed in the December 22 NY Times, arch-conservative William Safire wrote, "I now admit to having expected the war in Iraq to be won in a matter of months, not years. Saddam's plan to disperse his forces and conduct a murderous insurgency, abetted by his terrorist allies, was a surprise."

Well, a surprise to you, maybe. Maybe this would be a good time to take stock of some other things you believe?


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Onion makes us cry

Well, not really...but it did make us do a double take when we spotted the first punctuation error we can recall seeing in the online fake news mag. See if you can spot the boo boo:

"What about Laci's fetus' potential children, and those childrens' children? Folks, this was way more than a double-homicide."

Hint: No, it isn't "fetus'."


Lynne Cheney: lesbian fantasist, cheerleader

Now that she's done campaigning for her husband and defending her lesbian daughter, Mary, against those evil Democrats, Lynne Cheney has gone back to writing. This time, however, it's not lesbian fantasy; it's "history." And she's wielding pom-poms.

In "A Revolutionary Christmas Story," a guest op-ed she wrote for the NY Times, Cheney tells about how George Washington led his "ragtag army" through two difficult battles during the Christmas season. Both times he emerged victorious, and his victories, of course, inspired the patriots. Try not to spew coffee while reading this excerpt:

"Twice in 10 days Washington and his ragtag army had defeated the greatest military power in the world, and their victories lifted the spirits of patriots everywhere. True, the years ahead would be hard - Christmas 1777 would find Washington and his men at Valley Forge. But because of the 10-day campaign that began on Christmas 1776, Americans could now think of winning their war for independence. They could imagine that their great struggle would have a glorious end."

So merry Christmas, everybody (even you nonbelievers), because with our own brave George W. leading us, our great struggle in Iraq will have a glorious end.


Temperature in hell hits 32 degrees

In today's news:

1. Bush admitted that anti-American insurgents are "having an effect" on our efforts in Iraq, and that our efforts to train Iraqi forces to secure their country have produced only "mixed" results (although he's still "confident of the result" and "confident the terrorists will fail").

2. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that, for the first time, a solid majority (56%) of Americans think the Iraq war was a mistake (48% thought that a few months ago).

3. The same poll found that 52% think Rumsfeld should be fired.

Better late than never, as 49% of us would say...


Monday, December 20, 2004

How will this change anything?

So now Rumsfeld is going to start personally signing the letters to dead soldiers' grieving family members instead of letting a machine do it. So what? Will it bring the dead soldiers back to life, or keep the live soldiers from dying?

The only thing Rumsfeld should be personally signing is his resignation.


Laci Peterson was not alone

A study by the Washington Times found that 1,367 pregnant women and new mothers have been murdered in the U.S. since 1990. Why haven't they all received the same media attention Laci Peterson received? Why was her death sensationalized and the other 1,366 ignored?

And why are men so misogynistic and so violent?


Friday, December 17, 2004

The delusional is no longer marginal

That's a quote from Bill Moyers' outstanding and frightening essay, "Bill Moyers on Health and the Global Environment." In the essay he cites example after example of how fundamentalists' ignorance of reality could end up causing the Armageddon they seem to covet.

"For the first time in our history," Moyers says, "ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts."

Please read the entire essay:

You're kidding! People aren't enlisting in the National Guard?

How could this be true? The Army National Guard reports that it has fallen 30 percent below its recruiting goals in the past two months. Why would anyone not want to join the National Guard? "A weekend a month, a week a year," free college tuition, the possibility of dying or getting maimed in Iraq...

To boost enlistment, the Guard is planning to offer new incentives, including enlistment bonuses of up to $15,000. We noticed that the marquee in front of our local National Guard recruiting station now says "100% TUITION PAID" instead of 75%.

With 50,000 Army National Guard soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, shouldn't we be honest and call it the INTERnational Guard?


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Can you say "conflict of interest"?

Representative Billy Tauzin, one of the main authors of the new Medicare drug law (which shafts consumers and fattens pharmaceutical companies), has accepted a new job as...surprise!...president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Which, coincidentally, is the chief lobbying agency for pharmaceutical companies.

How much will they be paying Mr. Tauzin? At least $2 million a year, according to people in other trade groups. But Tauzin is not in it for the money. He wants to help the pharmaceutical industry "earn the trust and confidence of consumers again."

Of course, as Rep. Henry Waxman points out, Tauzin's move will further erode consumers' trust and confidence in Congress. "The appearance is terrible. A chief architect of the Medicare prescription drug legislation is now going to represent the chief beneficiary of the bill. This will only reinforce the public's disillusionment with Congress."


You mean...killing and maiming people is troublesome?

According to the NY Times, the health care system for veterans is facing a potential deluge of—not hundreds, not thousands—but TENS OF THOUSANDS of soldiers coming home from Iraq with serious mental health problems.

Bunch of weenies. Can't take a little bloodshed and carnage. What do we pay them for?


This will make the soldiers feel better

The theme of Bush's inauguration on January 20 will be "Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service." It must be intended as a joke, because it ain't free to attend (tickets cost up to $100,000) unless you're in the military--in which case you probably ain't free to attend.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Afraid of homophobes?

Express your fear of homophobes with this official Editor at Large "HOMOPHOBEPHOBE" bumper sticker. Buy it online at:

(Click on the image to see a larger, scarier version.)

Interesting development in Ohio

We've never heard of this particular legal tactic, but with a little luck and maybe some harmonic convergence, it could work.

Based on new evidence that election fraud has indeed occurred in Ohio, John Bonifaz, General Counsel for the National Voting Rights Institute, is reportedly filing a complaint with the Ohio State Supreme Court requesting that John Kerry be declared the winner.

According to Katherine Yurica (www.axisoflogic.com), injunctive relief will likely be sought and the case will be heard in a Court of Equity. "This legal maneuver is brilliant," Yurica says, "because when the courts decide a case in equity, they wear a different hat than they do in courts of law." The legal term "equity" denotes the "spirit and the habit of fairness, justness, and right dealing" that should regulate humans' dealings with others. Thus, a Court of Equity is a moral court that lays down moral justness.

As Yurica points out, this could be very interesting because we could end up watching a court case based on moral grounds—and Republicans, who pride themselves on their "morality," will be facing a higher morality than their own. Says Yurica: "One side will be asking the court to be fair to all citizens—the other side will be forced to argue the court should not be fair and just."


This is just freaking ridiculous

The Drug Enforcement Administration has refused a request by the University of Massachusetts to grow marijuana so they can test it for medical uses.

Excuse us? A university can't get permission to grow a PLANT? So they can do RESEARCH ON IT?

Oh, when will the aliens arrive to take us back home?


Just wondering

In the wake of the Kerik embarrassment, what would Bush say now if someone asked him, "Have you made any mistakes?"

No "Clear Skies" for us

As usual, the Bush administration chose the weekend as a grand time to issue an order that will inflict irreparable damage on the environment. By issuing such orders on the weekend, media coverage is kept to a minimum and we are kept in the dark.

This time, the Bushies told Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt (whom Bush just tapped to lead, ironically, Health and Human Services) to delay issuing the Clean Air Interstate Rule, a proposal to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide in 28 states that either fail to meet national air quality standards or produce pollution that ends up in other states. Leavitt had promised to issue the rules this month, with the goal of cutting nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution by 70 percent sometime after 2015.

This is really bad news for those of us who like to breathe. Guess we'll have to come up with a new way to oxygenate.


Tom Tomorrow vs Microsoft

This is unbelievable. We knew Microsoft was the root of all evil, but we had no idea how big that root was. Check out this Microsoft horror story from one of our favorite cartoonists, Tom Tomorrow.

"Well, it is Microsoft, after all"

"A month ago, I wrote a short essay for Slate (which they used). Today in the mail, I received a large envelope full of numerous forms I have to fill out in order to collect the pittance I am owed. Among the highlights, I am asked to sign away world rights to edit, publish, and distribute the material, as well as to irrevocably and unconditionally waive in perpetuity any rights I may have 'under any law relating to 'moral rights of authors' or any similar law throughout the world.' In short, if I grant them permission to use the piece in any way they want, forever and ever, then I can collect my one-time fee. Not that any of this matters in a practical sense--this little one-off essay is unlikely to be a hotly contested property--but you have to understand that as a self-syndicated cartoonist, I've been fending off rights-grabs like this my entire career, and am extremely cautious about what I sign. And the thing is, I didn't go to Slate saying, hey can I please work for you? I'll sign anything you want! They asked me to contribute a piece, I agreed--and a month later, I find out that if I want to be paid, I have to sign something I consider morally objectionable. And I am told that if I don't sign, I don't get paid. (It would have been nice to know this before I did the work, of course--I would certainly have passed on the assignment.)

"Additionally, I am instructed to fill out a multi-page New US Vendor application, as if I were simply another eager supplicant petitioning Microsoft, a would-be supplier of silicon wafers or mother boards or bubble wrap or some damn thing. To prove my tax status, I must list 3-5 current clients, including phone numbers, provide my business letterhead, business card, a company brochure, and a copy of my business license. Now, as far as I know, they aren't licensing political cartoonists quite yet, and as for the letterhead, brochure, etc.--I couldn't supply most of that if I wanted to, because I don't have any of it. I do everything via email these days. It's this nifty thing, you do it on computers. Somebody should tell the folks at Microsoft about it.

"Apparently everyone who writes for Slate jumps through these hoops, which I find somewhat astonishing--but I am often astonished by the things other people are willing to do. As for me, at this moment, it looks like I gave Bill Gates a day of work for free. Shit happens, I guess."


Monday, December 13, 2004

Bush embarrasses himself again—and blames it on someone else again

A headline in the Washington Post reads, "White House Puts Blame on Kerik" (for "repeatedly failing to disclose potential legal problems to administration lawyers vetting his nomination for secretary of homeland security)...but who was it that nominated the high-school dropout in the first place?


Quote of the day

"I like the feeling of traveling lightly through life, unencumbered by beliefs."—John Horgan, author of Rational Mysticism


Friday, December 10, 2004

Big leagues, little leagues...we'll blog anyone

In response to our blog entry "Increase or decrease?" Theresa Novak, editorial page editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times, wrote:

"Gee, in the company of the Washington Post and New York Times! We can screw up with the folks in the big leagues. Thanks for 'blogging' us. We had it coming! :-)"

We like editors with a sense of humor.

CIA agent sues CIA for ruining his career

The critical mass toward Bush's demise keeps building...

A senior CIA analyst who was once decorated for his work on weapons proliferation in the Middle East is suing the CIA for ruining his career as punishment for his refusal to adhere to official pre-war dogma on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The unnamed agent, a 22-year veteran of the CIA's counter-proliferation department, accuses his former supervisors of demanding that he alter his intelligence reporting on Iraq to conform to the views of CIA management.

This is the first time a CIA employee has publicly accused the agency of exerting pressure to produce reports that would help the Bush administration's case for war against Iraq.

Whomever the agent is, he's risking a lot more than his career now, because 1) his accusations will be almost impossible to prove, and 2) we're talking the CIA here—who knows how they'll retaliate against him this time?

(Thanks to Eric Dickey for the tip.)


Increase or decrease?

A headline in today's Corvallis Gazette-Times reads, "State jobless rate sees slim increase," but the article accompanying it appears to contradict it: "The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Oregon was 7.1 percent in November, a slight improvement from 7.2 percent in October..."

When that headline writer is fired, the state jobless rate will, indeed, see a slim increase...


Quote of the day

"If Mr. Bush were to say in plain English that his plan to solve our fiscal problems is to borrow trillions, put the money into stocks and hope for the best, everyone would denounce that plan as the height of irresponsibility." —Paul Krugman, NY Times


Another reason to move to Canada

Yesterday Canada's Supreme Court declared same-sex marriages constitutional, giving Parliament the green light to legalize gay marriage nationally. If the law passes, Canada would become the third country—the others are Belgium and the Netherlands—to legalize such unions.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues its accelerated regression to the dark ages.


Lasers: the new weapons of mass destruction

Forget box cutters and suicide missions. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security say that terrorists may try using lasers to blind pilots and down aircraft. In fact, one may have already been used: in September, a pilot for Delta Air Lines reported receiving an eye injury from a suspected laser beam shone into the cockpit during a landing approach in Salt Lake City.

Besides making it hard for pilots to see so they can land their planes, lasers can severely damage the eye by burning the retina. And, like box cutters, lasers are inexpensive, portable, easy to conceal, and readily available on the open market.

Of course, every kid knows you can achieve the same effect with a pocket-sized mirror...


Thursday, December 09, 2004

Is your laptop a contraceptive?

Men who use laptop computers could be compromising their fertility. Researchers at the State University of New York have found that men who balance laptops on their—er, laptops, have warmer scrotums...which is bad for sperm production.

Whether or not this is bad news depends on how you feel about men who use laptops...


Monday, December 06, 2004

Senators: Investigate election

It's about time. Senator Barbara Boxer announced on the Senate floor this morning that she and a coalition of nine other senators have found "reasonable suspicion," the legal grounds sufficient to call for investigation of the 2004 presidential election.

This is even cooler: Senator Boxer also said, "...after reviewing the mountains of evidence provided by computer scientists, statisticians, poll watchers, and a compendium of over 100,000 complaints by ordinary citizens, I and other concerned senators find it imperative, as guardians of a democracy admired around the world, to lead by example and prove that our system is above reproach. In the spirit of this great land, let it be known that on this day a full investigation will begin forthwith, and as the letter of the law of our United States instructs us, the confirmation of the pending presidency must await the outcome of this investigation."

Did you catch that last line? "The pending presidency must await the outcome..." Meaning that Bush's inauguration may not happen on January 20 after all. Or ever, if fraud is proven.

The critical mass is building...


Soldiers to sue Army

Eight soldiers are planning to file suit today against the U.S. Army for its so-called "stop-loss" policy, which keeps soldiers in Iraq beyond their terms of enlistment. The soldiers are being represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a liberal-leaning public interest group.

Are you thinking of a snowball in hell? Us, too. But we wish them luck.


What is it about elections lately?

It seems like every election and pending election worldwide over the past few months has been marred by controversy, violence, or both. The latest: a wave of violence in Iraq that has killed 80 Iraqis and U.S. troops in just the past three days.

Why can't other countries follow our fine example of how to have a fair election? Why can't they just swallow what we're forcing down their throats?


Quote of the day

"For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do." —Tommy G. Thompson, newly resigned secretary of health and human services

How does Thompson know terrorists haven't attacked our food supply? Has he ever eaten a frozen pizza?


Friday, December 03, 2004

Bush's alleged margin in Ohio narrows

Now that the provisional and overseas ballots have allegedly been counted in Ohio, Bush's lead over Kerry has shrunk from an alleged 136,000 votes to an alleged 119,000. So Kerry is now allegedly closer by 17,000 votes—but allegedly still not close enough to trigger an automatic alleged recount (which requires an alleged difference of .25 percent or less).

Of course, thanks to third-party candidates Cobb and Bednarik, a recount will allegedly happen anyway...and we might have some new alleged numbers to play with.


Uneducated thugs

In response to our blog entry about the new, undereducated secretary of Homeland Security, reader Sandy Ridlington wrote:

"You know what this reminds me of? All the uneducated thugs who rose to the top among Hitler's brown shirts."

We didn't know about those thugs. But what about the well-educated ones in Bush's cabinet, like Condoleeza Rice (who has a Ph.D.)? Education doesn't seem to matter much when it comes to thuggery.

Hang this from your tree

Oh. My. God.
Originally uploaded by Editor at Large.
This has to be the worst holiday idea we've ever seen: an ornament in the (attempted) likeness of George W. Bush. And at $49.95 each (hey, they're hand-made!), you can't afford to buy a bunch and break them against the wall. Still, it's tempting.

Unfortunately, these lovelies are "not in stock," but are expected to be available by December 23. Just in time for NEXT Christmas...


Bush charged in Vancouver, B.C., court

A Vancouver lawyer has filed criminal charges against George Bush in Vancouver Provincial Court. Gail Davidson, cochair of an international legal group called Lawyers Against the War, said she charged Bush with seven counts of counselling, aiding, and abetting the commission of torture in connection with the actions of U.S. armed forces at Abu Ghraib prison and at Guantánamo Bay.

Davidson said that by December 8, the Attorney General of Canada, Irwin Cotler, must give his consent for the case to continue. If the case goes to trial and Bush is found guilty, he would be liable to imprisonment for up to 14 years.

Pie in the sky? Of course. But it's still fun to think about.

(Thanks to Eric Dickey for the scoop.)


High school dropout to become secretary of Homeland Security

Bush has selected Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, as secretary of homeland security. Kerik, described by the NY Times as "street-savvy," is a high school dropout, an Army veteran, and a former private security guard, jail warden, and undercover narcotics officer. He was police commissioner of NYC for just a year—from 2000 until a few months after 9/11.

Like the sound of that résumé? There's more: Kerik spent time in Iraq last year helping the Iraqis set up a security force. And we know how successful that's been...


Iran is next

It's deja vu all over again...the U.S. suspects that Iran is trying to develop an intercontinental missile that could reach Europe and possibly the United States.

Did you catch the four operative words there? Suspects. Trying. Could. Possibly.

Sound familiar?


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Neither and nor

Ted Rall's latest column (http://www.uexpress.com/tedrall/) provides a good example of how most of us are flummoxed by "neither" and "nor":

"But since Iraq neither threatens our freedom nor our borders, they're neither protecting our freedoms or fighting for America."

The sentence should read: "But since Iraq threatens neither our freedom nor our borders, they're neither protecting our freedoms nor fighting for America."

Other than that, Rall's column is brilliant, as usual. Please read it.


Election fraud continued

Bush's former New England campaign chairman, James Tobin, was indicted yesterday on charges he took part in the jamming of Democrats' get-out-the-vote phone lines on Election Day 2002. Federal prosecutors said Tobin and other Republicans had hired a company to make 800 computer-generated "hang-up" calls to jam phone lines and disrupt the Democrats' efforts.

If convicted, Tobin faces up to five years in prison. Tobin's response: "I am saddened to learn that this action has been taken against me. I have great respect for the justice system and plan to fight back to clear my name."

Hmmm...that doesn't sound like a protest of innocence, exactly.

We blog, therefore we are

U.S. dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster says "blog" topped the list of most looked-up terms on its Web site during the past 12 months, and the word will now appear in the 2005 print version of Merriam-Webster's dictionary. "Blog" will be defined as "a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks."

According to the Pew Internet & American Life project, a blog is created every 5.8 seconds, and blog analysis firm Technorati estimates that the number of blogs in existence now exceeds 4.8 million.

Oh, and now we see that Microsoft—which prides itself on its "innovation" (e.g., copying the Macintosh with Windows, copying Nintendo and Sony with the X-Box, copying AOL with MSN, copying Netscape with Internet Explorer, copying Apple with an on-line music service, etc.)—has launched a blogging service (copying AOL, Google, and LiveJournal.com, among others). Just say no...


Hey, we need those troops in Ohio and Florida!

Even though major combat operations supposedly ended on May 1, 2003 (remember "Mission Accomplished"?) and the Bush administration assured us that stabilizing Iraq would not require more troops than it took to topple Baghdad, we're sending another 12,000 troops to Iraq to help stabilize the country so they can hold their elections on January 30.

It'll take more than 12,000 additional troops to stabilize Iraq, and more than the Bush brand of "democracy" to create an atmosphere in which fair elections can be held...


Three more soldiers take the rap for Bush

Three U.S. soldiers accused of smothering an Iraqi general during an interrogation last fall are facing the possibility of court-martial and life in prison without parole. They've been charged in the death of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, 57, at Qaim, Iraq.

The Army said Mowhoush died of asphyxiation from chest compression and from being smothered. Mowhoush was killed with an electrical cord, and a soldier sat on Mowhoush as he was restrained inside a sleeping bag.

At least 19 prisoner deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan have been investigated as homicides by the military; eight were determined to be "justified killings" of an "escaping or dangerously violent prisoner."

So...are the other 100,000 or so Iraqis who have been killed so far in this war "justified killings"...and if not, who takes the rap for them?


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

"Ukraine" vs "the Ukraine"

In response to our entry about Ukraine (formerly THE Ukraine), reader Sandy Ridlington wrote, "...thanks for clearing up the question of the article formerly used before 'Ukraine.' [My daughters] had a teacher from the Ukraine for years and she always left out the article, leading me to think she was just speaking pigeon English. How stupid of me! How provincial!"

How stupid and provincial of all of us. We doubt we will ever get used to saying just "Ukraine" (and you may have noticed that Ms. Ridlington hasn't, either!).


Reader Dr. Robert Richardson wonders whether any parallels could be drawn between the recent—shall we say, assertive?—behavior of some NBA players and fans and the behavior of certain officials in U.S. and international politics. Dr. Richardson writes:

"It seems to me a nice parallel could be made between the recent Pistons/Pacers fracas and our being in Iraq. For the better part of a week after it happened, all sorts of people were weighing in on how things got out of hand in Detroit—Artest fouled Wallace hard, then Wallace shoved Artest harder, then Pacers players boiled off the bench to confront Wallace (while Artest lay down on the scorer's table), then a fan threw beer all over Artest, who went BOING and raced into the stands to get the guy, etc. After the fact, everyone talked about how it was terrible but how human nature works the way it does, etc., etc. I found myself thinking finally that it all sounded like how we got so screwed up in Iraq—GWB just couldn't help it once Saddam tried to have his daddy killed."

Dr. Richardson suggests that perhaps parallels could be drawn by matching NBA players with political players in the world scene, aligning the personalities and actions of U.S. and international politicians with those of Ron Artest, Ben Wallace, Jermaine O'Neal, David Stern, Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown, the pundits, the fans, etc. As Dr. Richardson muses, "Whom can we suspend for the rest of the season—or term in office?"

Anyone up to toying with the idea?

Kerry's team weighs in on Ohio recount

Apparently, John Kerry's presidential campaign isn't dead yet. Yesterday his team asked an Ohio judge to allow it to join a legal fight over whether election officials in one Ohio county may sit out the state's impending recount.

A recount had been requested—and paid for—by Green Party candidate David Cobb and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik, but last week Ohio's Delaware County received a temporary restraining order blocking a recount, on the grounds that a second count "would be a poor use of county resources."

In response, Kerry lawyer Dan Hoffheimer said, "If there's going to be a recount in Ohio, we don't want it to exclude Delaware County or any other county that might decide to follow Delaware County's lead. It should be a full, fair, and accurate recount."



Bush slaps Canada's face

During Bush's visit to Canada yesterday, a Canadian reporter asked him why public opinion polls showed the two countries drifting apart, and whether he bore any responsibility. Bush's response: "You know, I haven't seen the polls you look at, and we just had a poll in our country where people decided that the foreign policy of the Bush administration ought to be - stay in place for four more years."

So in other words, because 51% of the U.S. supposedly voted for Bush, he thinks that means the entire country approves of his continuing to ignore, belittle, antagonize, and terrorize other countries—including Canada.

Canada, unfortunately, has little incentive to reciprocate: it enjoyed a $70 billion trade surplus with the U.S. last year. (Which also might explain why they were reluctant to indict Bush as a war criminal...)


Ukrainian or Ukranian?

In today's The Daily Barometer (http://barometer.orst.edu), one headline reads "Ukrainian uprising is a fight for what is right" and another one reads "The Ukranians have a multitude of reasons to be proud."

Which is the correct spelling? Ukrainian.

Another virtually useless factoid: It used to be called The Ukraine, but now it's simply Ukraine.

OK, you've learned something—take the rest of the day off.

Miniscule vs. minuscule

In response to our blog yesterday about Andy Borowitz's alleged misspelling of "minuscule" in The Borowitz Report, Mr. Borowitz wrote:

"No offense, but someone should blog you! 'Miniscule' may not be the favored spelling, but it is accepted - check the dictionary.
—Best, Andy"

Well, we did check the dictionary (before we wrote the blog entry) and here's what it said:

"Miniscule: variant of MINUSCULE
Usage: The adjective minuscule is etymologically related to minus, but associations with mini- have produced the spelling variant miniscule. This variant dates to the end of the 19th century, and it now occurs commonly in published writing, but it continues to be widely regarded as an error."

So Mr. Borowitz, go ahead and use the variant if you want, but we'll stick with minuscule until the dictionary calls IT a variant and says it's widely regarded as an error.