Saturday, April 29, 2006

27 or bust

After a full weekend of shooting himself in the foot, George Bush soon will look back fondly at the heady days when his approval rating was a robust 32 percent.

President Bush warned Saturday of tough fighting to come and "more days of sacrifice and struggle" in Iraq as April drew to a close as the deadliest month for American forces this year.

As of late Thursday, at least 69 Americans had died in Iraq in April. The toll was 31 in March, 55 in February and 62 in January.

President Bush said Friday the national anthem should be sung in English — not Spanish — in a blunt rejection of a new Spanish-language version. He also expressed opposition to a national work stoppage called for Monday to dramatize the importance of immigrants to the U.S. economy.

"I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English," Bush said.

President Bush said Friday that taxing enormous oil industry profits is not the way to calm Americans' anxieties about pain at the gas pump, and that his "inclination and instincts" are that major oil companies are not intentionally overcharging drivers.

Bush's remarks suggested the former Texas oilman is unlikely to take harsh action against oil companies despite public anger about the rising cost of fuel. Gasoline is averaging $2.92 a gallon across the country, up 69 cents from a year ago, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge report.

With politicians concerned the issue could tilt what are expected to be close midterm elections this fall, the president and many in Congress have been rushing to offer solutions, most of which would offer little immediate relief.

"I have no evidence that there's any rip-off taking place," Bush said. "It's the role of the Federal Trade Commission to assure me that my inclination and instincts is right."
Dig up, George. Up.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Register to vote

Republicans historically hope for a low turnout on election day (except when they're purposely gumming up the works in Ohio), so click here to register.

Lip service

Via Susie at Suburban Guerrilla:

After holding a press conference at a local gas station in Washington, D.C., House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was photographed several blocks away getting out of the hybrid automobile he used at the event and getting back into his gasoline-powered SUV.
Here's the photo.

Think of the planning that went into this foray into the land of make-believe: "Just park your SUV several blocks away, Mr. Speaker. We'll meet you with a hybrid vehicle you can use for the photo-op, then drive you back so you hop back into your Canyonero."

See why I say Republicans are untrustworthy liars?

Protest album

Neil Young's "Living with War" will be released May 9. In the meantime, you can listen to the entire album here.

Permission to breathe freely

But new equipment costs money. You know, that stuff we value more than human life.

Federal regulators are scrambling to reassure the nation's 42,000 coal miners that the air packs they rely on in an emergency will work, even though the sole survivor of the Sago Mine disaster says four of his crew's devices malfunctioned.

Congressmen and some of the Sago victims' relatives, meanwhile, are calling on government to upgrade air packs and require the use of tracking devices and communication systems to make sure West Virginia's heartache is never repeated.

The revelation about malfunctioning air packs came from Sago survivor Randal McCloy Jr. in a letter delivered to his co-workers' families and obtained by The Associated Press.

The air packs — referred to in the letter as "rescuers" — are intended to give each miner about an hour's worth of oxygen while they escape or find a pocket of clean air. McCloy said at least four of the devices did not function, forcing the trapped men to share as they awaited a rescue that came too late.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., noted that Congress needed only 40 days to pass a bill after Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl.

"It's been almost four months since the Sago mine disaster and there has been no action," he said.
How many times does George Miller need to be told? Janet Jackson's tit was a threat that required prompt action. Children don't need to be protected from dead miners.


Oh good, a Bush administration appointee is on board. I can sleep now.

A plan by Senate Republicans to soften the blow of rising gasoline prices by giving taxpayers a $100 check and suspending a retail fuel tax has merit, U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said Friday.

Bodman's comments to CBS television were taken as an indication the White House could support a proposal advanced by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Thursday.

"It certainly has merit," Bodman told CBS. "Whenever you have a proposal of that sort there's always the question of unintended consequences, so we will be doing analysis."

Frist's bill would give all but the wealthiest U.S. taxpayers a $100 check to ease the burden of high pump prices.

It would suspend until September 30 the 18.4-cent-per-gallon retail gasoline tax. The measure would be aimed at helping consumers during the summer months, the heaviest driving season in the United States.

However, Bodman reiterated the White House will not support a plan to tax oil industry profits, which some Democrats have proposed.

"There are a couple of things that we know don't work -- that is one of them," Bodman said.

So the White House can back a plan that temporarily suspends a tax, making that deficit thing Republicans don't like to talk about even bigger. But it doesn't support a Democrat-backed plan to tax oil company profits, which are among the largest in human history, a plan that would increase the amount of tax revenue the government collects, shrinking that deficit thing Republicans don't like to talk about.

But hey, every little bit helps.

OK, let's be clear about this: Softening the blow of runaway gas prices with $100 is like giving someone a pillow before tossing him off a cliff. This plan will not help the people it's allegedly intended to help, but will protect oil companies from taxes on their mammoth profits at a time when they can more than afford it.

And isn't that what it has always been about for the Bush administration?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gas relief

Wow, $100? That should change my life as much as that $300 check I got during Bush's Surplus Giveaway of 2001.

Well, one third as much.

Senate Republicans advocate sending $100 rebate checks to millions of taxpayers, and a Democrat is leading the campaign for a 60-day gasoline tax holiday.

Either way, it seems no one in Congress wants to be without a plan, however symbolic, to attack the election-year spike in gasoline prices.

A vote is possible as early as this week on the Senate GOP approach, which calls for $100 rebate checks for taxpayers to cushion the impact of higher gasoline prices. The measure seems unlikely to prevail, at least initially, since it includes a highly controversial proposal to open a portion of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

Senate Republicans also favor extending a tax break that manufacturers receive for each hybrid vehicle they make, and want President Bush to suspend deliveries to the nation's strategic petroleum reserve for six months.
You gotta love Senate Republicans. Even when they're trying to help the little guy, they're really just pushing their own foul agenda -- attaching a piddling $100 rebate, which will fill most gas tanks twice, to tax breaks for big business and raping the environment. All without affecting oil company profits.

But don't judge Republicans too harshly. They have so little experience helping the little guy.

And if there weren't an election so soon, and rich people didn't drive, you better believe that even these insignificant steps wouldn't be taken. Think about what the Senate did in response to skyrocketing gas prices after Katrina (HINT: It starts with "N" and ends with "othing").

'Crippled beyond repair'

Can we drown it on Burbon Street?

Hurricane Katrina's latest fatality should be FEMA, the nation's disaster response agency, a Senate inquiry concluded in calling for a government overhaul to avoid future failures like those the devastating storm exposed.

Eighty-six recommendations by the bipartisan panel indicate the United States is still woefully unprepared for a storm of Katrina's scope with the start of the hurricane season little more than a month away.

The recommendations conclude that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is crippled beyond repair by years of poor leadership and inadequate funding. They call for a new agency — the National Preparedness and Response Authority — to plan and carry out relief missions for domestic disasters.

Although the proposed changes do not place blame on any official or government agency, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., will offer "additional views" to the panel's findings in a statement accusing President Bush of failing "to provide critical leadership when it was most needed."
Looks like someone recognizes a sinking ship when he sees one, and is jumping off.

But what makes the Senate panel think the National Preparedness and Response Authority would be any different than FEMA? Who is going to appoint the key staff? The same person who appointed unqualified political cronies with no emergency management experience to FEMA?

And how obedient and loyal of Bush's Senate lap dogs not to assign blame when it's obvious where that blame lies. As much as they want to distance themselves from Bush before November, they don't want to risk losing his fund-raising help (especially if they don't have to appear with him in public).

Under President Bill Clinton, FEMA was transformed from one of the worst federal agencies to one of the best, so it's clear who's responsible for its rapid free fall.

Scrapping the agency that Bush ruined isn't going to improve the federal response to future emergencies if Bush is going to be responsible for assembling FEMA's replacement. The fault doesn't lie with the unqualified fools who were sent by Bush to collect federal paychecks at FEMA. It lies with the person who sent them there.

So don't just criticize Bush for failing to provide critical leadership, Joe. That's like criticizing a duck for quacking. Criticize Bush for inheriting an effective key federal agency and ruining it to the point that it's now considered "crippled beyond repair."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sox 8, Indians 6

Manny's back.

Manny Ramirez powered the Sox past Cleveland Tuesday, going 3-for-4 with a homer and 3 RBIs. The home run came in the eighth inning, after the Indians intentionally walked David Ortiz.

Ortiz hit his ninth home run of the season in the seventh inning to tie the game 4-4. Later that inning, Mike Lowell singled in Ramirez, who had walked.

Mark Loretta got the scoring started with a two-run single in the second. Kevin Youkilis contributed two hits, a sac fly, a run and a stolen base. Jason Varitek was 2-for4 with a run scored. Lowell had three hits to boost his average to .304.

Starter Curt Schilling was not involved in the decision. He took a 5-4 lead into the seventh, but gave up a double and RBI single to tie the game. Schilling threw 133 pitches on the night, giving up nine hits and five earned runs, striking out eight and walking two.

Keith Foulke, who got the win, finished out the seventh, but gave up a pair of doubles before Mike Timlin relieved him with two outs in the eighth. Foulke has been a little inconsistent, but overall has exceeded many people's expectations so far.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his ninth save.

Tonight Tim Wakefield (1-3, 3.71) faces Cliff Lee (1-1, 3.33).


Well, he's already proved that he loves to drink the Kool-Aid.

President Bush on Wednesday named conservative commentator Tony Snow as White House press secretary, putting a new face on a troubled administration.

Snow, a Fox News pundit and former speechwriter in the White House under Bush's father, replaced Scott McClellan, who resigned in a personnel shuffle intended to re-energize the Bush White House and lift the president's record-low approval ratings.
Yeah, bringing in someone from Fox News should really improve Bush's approval rating.

Many recent White House moves indicate that the attempt to bolster Bush's sagging approval rating is really an attempt to court only defecting conservatives. Who else would be impressed that the administration looked to Fox News for its mouthpiece? This isn't exactly reaching across the aisle, or the radical change the White House will attempt to portray it as -- Fox has been the administration's mouthpiece since before Scalia helped steal the 2000 election; this just makes the relationship more formal.

Conservatives who still think this mess of an administration is salvagable have been calling for Bush to appoint an outsider. And it appears the administration considers an outsider anyone who doesn't already work at the White House. Because Bush hasn't been conservative enough for Fox, Snow has been critical of Bush recently (who hasn't?), and the White House points to that as evidence that Snow is a true outsider. But what new ideas can one reasonably expect Tony Snow to bring to the table? He's not likely to challenge any of the administration's core positions or affect meaningful change. He's just another like-minded conservative who can't reasonably be expected to bring a fresh perspective to anything the administration already does. He's been a cheerleader for George Bush since 2000, so his job description hasn't really changed, just the address of his office.

Don't get sick

'Cause health insurance is for rich folk.

The percentage of working-age Americans with moderate to middle incomes who lacked health insurance for at least part of the year rose to 41 percent in 2005, a dramatic increase from the 28 percent in 2001 without coverage, a study released on Wednesday found.

The report paints a bleak health care picture for the uninsured. "It represents an explosion of the insurance crisis into those with moderate incomes," said Sara Collins, a senior program officer at the Commonwealth Fund.

Collins said the study also illustrates how more employers are dropping coverage or are offering plans that are just too expensive for many people.

Overall, the percentage of people without insurance rose to 28 percent in 2005 from 24 percent in 2001.

Collins said those statistics are significant because giving up medicines typically leads to more expensive health problems later. Treating people in expensive settings such emergency rooms places a financial burden on the health care system, she added.

"People not being able to take care of themselves should send out a big red flag," said Collins.

The Commonwealth Fund's study was bolstered by analysis of government data funded and released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a private organization that provides health care grants.

That study found that cost prevented 41.1 percent of uninsured adults from seeing a doctor, compared to 9.2 percent of individuals with coverage.
And what the Bush administration and Congress have done in response to this big red flag? Nothing. Nearly 46 million Americans have been without health insurance since 2004, and nothing has been done about it.

Remember that when you vote this November, and hope your vote gets counted.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


This is kinda like cleaning up after Kartrina with a sponge.

Calling the oil issue a matter of national security, President Bush outlined a plan Tuesday to cut gasoline costs and temporarily stopped deposits to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The relatively small size of the deposits, compared to the nation's daily consumption of oil, will mean that Bush's action will have negligible impact on gas prices.

"I think we need to follow suit on what we have been emphasizing, particularly through the energy bill," Bush said, "and that is to encourage conservation, to expand domestic production, and to develop alternative sources of energy like ethanol."

Additionally, Bush said he would ask the EPA to temporarily ease clean air regulations that have caused gas shortages in some portions of the Northeast. There have been media reports of shortages as producers switch over to cleaner-burning summer blends.

"I think it makes sense that they should be allowed to, so I'm directing EPA administrator [Steve] Johnson to use all of his available authority to grant waivers that would relief critical fuel supply shortages," Bush said. "And I do that for the sake of our consumers."
You know, the consumers who don't breathe.

Syntax issues aside, it seems the environment is about to take it on the chin again. The willingness to trade environmental protections for slightly lower gas prices ahead of midterm elections shows that the administration still doesn't give a shit about global warming.

And you better believe that "expanding domestic production" means drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Bush also ordered a federal investigation into possible price gouging, but I think the history of GOP-led investigations finding what they want to find speaks for itself.
But here's the really shocking part of the story.

Bush also called for a rollback in $2 billion in government assistance and tax breaks for oil companies over the next 10 years for items such as research and development for deep water drilling.

"Record oil prices and large cash flows also mean that Congress has got to understand that these energy companies don't need unnecessary tax breaks like the write-offs of certain geological and geophysical expenditures or the use of taxpayers' monies to subsidize energy companies' research into deepwater drilling," Bush said.
Unfortuntely, Congress also understands that this is an election year, and that campaigns cost money. So don't expect them to be too eager to bite the oily hands that feed them.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A new new low

It's almost a new low for ANY presidency.

President George W. Bush's public approval rating has fallen to 32 percent, a new low for his presidency, a CNN poll showed on Monday.

The survey also showed that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job.

Bush's poll numbers have languished below 40 percent in the last couple of months, hit by growing public opposition to the Iraq war, his support for a now-abandoned plan for a Dubai firm to take over major U.S. port operations and American anger over gas prices now topping $3 a gallon at the pump.
So getting rid of Andy Card didn't make people like George Bush again, huh?

But Josh Bolten has a plan. And that plan appears to be to lure back conservatives who can no longer bring themselves to support Bush. Of course that means another push to make permanent the tax cuts on capital gains and stock dividends, even though such cuts favor the rich and offer no benefit whatsoever to the poor, and have led to record budget deficits.

"We need all these financial TV shows to be talking about how great the economy is, and that only happens when their guests from Wall Street talk about it," said a presidential adviser. "This is very popular with investors, and a lot of Republicans are investors."
Another part of the plan is to change Bush's story on immigration from supplying businesses with extremely cheap labor to getting tough on border security.

This is an unabashed play to members of the conservative base who are worried about illegal immigration. Under the banner of homeland security, the White House plans to seek more funding for an extremely visible enforcement crackdown at the Mexican border, including a beefed-up force of agents patrolling on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). "It'll be more guys with guns and badges," said a proponent of the plan. "Think of the visuals. The President can go down and meet with the new recruits. He can go down to the border and meet with a bunch of guys and go ride around on an ATV."
Essentially the administration plans to start using Latinos as whipping boys. The GOP has to win back conservative voters who sleep with guns under their pillows, worried about the security of their plasma TVs and rider mowers. And, let's face it, most Latinos weren't going to vote Republican anyway.

Sure that means that the guest-worker program ends up on the list of failed initiatives with the overhaul of social security, but when less than one of every three voters approves of your job performance, sometimes you have to cut bait.

Let's go to the presidential approval-rating scoreboard (drumroll, please):

Bush: 32 percent
Nixon: 27 percent (November 1973)

It's getting closer, folks. And with the sage advice Bush offered citizens concerned about the high price of oil, it promises to get closer (unless you think watching Bush ride around on an ATV in the Arizona desert is going to make people forget about the war he started in Iraq, the price of fuel, extraordinary rendition, the mess that is New Orleans, the Medicare Part D mess, the No Child Left Behind mess, the fact that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose and that the NSA is trying to find him by illegally listening to our phone calls):

Bush's response to the gas crisis has been to warn Americans to expect a tough summer, vow that price gouging will not be tolerated and try to promote energy alternatives that will take years to get to consumers.
I guess Americans can go ahead an expect a "tough" winter too. Well, everyone but Lee Raymond.

Sox 6, Blue Jays 3

David Ortiz continued his hot hitting against Toronto pitching Sunday, going 2-for-5 with a two-run homer and a bunt single.

That isn't a misprint.

After losing hits in two consecutive at-bats to the defensive shift that puts three fielders between first base and second base, Ortiz came up in the sixth and dropped a bunt between the mound and third base. More of that might keep defenses honest and lead to more hits between first and second. Of course, in situations when a bunt single isn't enough, he probably will continue to see the shift.

But it was his opposite-field two-run homer that gave the Sox a lead they didn't lose. Ortiz' blow also scored Kevin Youkilis, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the game.

Mike Lowell drove in two runs and hit his ninth double of the season. The only player in the major leagues with more is Michael Young of Texas, who has 10. Youkilis drove in a run and was on base three times from the leadoff spot, adding two singles to his HBP. Trot Nixon made a running catch on the warning track to end a bases-loaded threat in the fifth.

Matt Clement (2-1, 6.17) pitched into the sixth, giving up two earned runs and striking out four. The bullpen was impressive. Keith Foulke retired all five hitters he faced, three on strikeouts. What was most impressive about Foulke's effort is that he did it under pressure -- he came into the sixth inning of a 4-3 game with one out and two runners on and got out of it, and followed that up with a perfect seventh.

Mike Timlin pitched the eighth, striking out two, and Jon Papelbon notched his eighth save in as many opportunities.

The 12-7 Sox open a three-game set with the Cleveland Indians Tuesday. Curt Schilling (4-0, 1.61) will be looking for his fifth-straight win, and will be opposed by Jake Westbrook (2-2, 5.92). Cleveland, who started the season 6-1, is 10-9.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Easy like Sunday morning

Take time to relax today.

Toronto 8, Sox 1

Behind a fill-in starter in the dreaded day-game-after-an-extra-inning-night-game Saturday, the Sox fell behind early and never got anything going. Terry Francona let most of the regulars watch the carnage from the bench.

Coming off a tough, 12-inning loss the night before, Francona rested Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell and Alex Gonzalez. Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable yesterday. Manny Ramirez played five and a half innings and Trot Nixon played six.

Lenny DiNardo, making his second start in place of injured David Wells (knee), gave up seven runs on 10 hits in three innings of work. He started the fourth but was pulled after giving up two singles to start the inning. Reliever Jermaine Van Buren gave up a two-run triple to Vernon Wells and let Toronto runners steal three bases behind him before J.T. Snow helped him out of the inning by leaping to snare a shot by Bengie Molina.

However, Van Buren then settled down, pitching a perfect fifth and giving up only a single in the sixth, to Reed Johnson, who was quickly erased on a double play.

The Sox's lone display of offense came in the fourth, when Manny Ramirez singled and Trot Nixon doubled him home. Toronto, however, had 13 hits. Vernon Wells had three of those hits, Troy Glaus doubled in two runs and Molina hit a two-run homer.

The only bright spot may have been the defensive play of SS Alex Cora. Cora turned a couple of nifty double plays when the game was out of hand.

The Sox are 1-4 against Toronto this season, and the Blue Jays have scored an average of nearly seven runs in those 5 games.

The Sox hope Matt Clement (1-1, 7.00) can reverse those trends today. He faces Josh Towers (0-3, 9.24), who took the loss in the Sox's only win against Toronto this season.

After Saturday's game, the Sox recalled RHP Manny Delcarmen from the Pawsox and optioned Van Buren to Pawtucket.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Toronto 7, Sox 6, 12 innings

The Sox dropped a heartbreaker Friday that was marked by hit batsmen and a pile of home runs, including the first two of the season by Manny Ramirez.

In addition to Manny, David Ortiz and Jason Varitek went yard. For Toronto, Vernon Wells hit two, and Troy Glaus and Russ Adams also homered. In all, eight balls cleared the fence at Skydome last night.

Toronto's Jason Frasor hit Alex Gonzalez in the top of the eighth, and Josh Beckett retaliated with the first pitch in the bottom of the inning, hitting Aaron Hill. Beckett drew a warning from the umpire. The trouble with hitting the first batter of the inning became evident one batter later, when Adams homered, cutting the Sox lead to 6-4. Wells followed Adams to the plate and out of the park to make the score 6-5. Mike Timlin then relieved Beckett and Glaus made it three homers in a row to tie the game.

The bottom of the 12th was almost a refreshing change of pace, when the only run of the game not scored on a homer crossed the plate. Unfortunately, the runner was Troy Glaus, who scored on Lyle Overbay's double to center.

The Steroid Era may be over (or not, depending on your feelings about Barry Bonds), but this season already has seen way too many home runs. Some think the ball is juiced instead of the players. And when you see games like this, with eight home runs hit, and league leaders with 11 and 9 home runs on April 22, it's hard not to conclude that nothing strange is going on.

Albert Pujols' 11 home runs are a lot, but he's arguably the best hitter in the game. But Chris Shelton with 9 home runs already? This is a guy with a career total of 28 in 498 at-bats. He's gone from hitting one home run in about every 18 at-bats to one in every seven. And Morgan Ensberg, who has 8 home runs this season, has gone from a career pace of one homer in every 18.5 at-bats to one in every seven. Even Pujols has upped his HR frequency, going from one home run in about every 14 at-bats for his career to about one in every five this season.

Yeah, it's early, and yeah, players may be stronger and newer ballparks may be hitter-friendly, but baseball is a sport that cherishes its history, and the integrity of the game is at stake. Isn't that one of the reasons why steroids were bad for the game? If juiced players are a threat to the game, so are juiced baseballs.

UPDATE: The Milwaukee Brewers just hit 5 home runs in one inning. Yeah, that's normal.

More evidence

Maybe now the MSM can remove the phrase "intelligence failures" from their computer clipboards. The intelligence didn't fail if it was accurate and ignored.

A CIA official who had a top role during the run-up to the Iraqi war charges the White House with ignoring intelligence that said there were no weapons of mass destruction or an active nuclear program in Iraq.

The former highest ranking CIA officer in Europe, Tyler Drumheller, also says that while the intelligence community did give the White House some bad intelligence, it also gave the White House good intelligence — which the administration chose to ignore.

Drumheller, who retired last year, says the White House ignored crucial information from a high and credible source. The source was Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, with whom U.S. spies had made a deal.

When CIA Director George Tenet delivered this news to the president, the vice president and other high ranking officials, they were excited — but not for long.

"[The source] told us that there were no active weapons of mass destruction programs," says Drumheller. "The [White House] group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they were no longer interested. And we said 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.' "

They didn't want any additional data from Sabri because, says Drumheller: "The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy." The White House declined to respond to this charge, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stated that Sabri was just one source and therefore not reliable.
If only Sabri had been several sources, an entire war could have been averted.

Seriously, between this, allegations made by former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, British memos describing an effort to "fix intelligence around the policy," it seems clear that the plan from day one was to remove Saddam, and that the administration saw 9/11 not as a tragedy but an opportunity.


But remember, we're winning the war on terrorism. It's just that, by "winning," George Bush doesn't mean that U.S. efforts have led to fewer terror attacks.

Terror attacks and kidnappings worldwide exceeded 10,000 for the first time last year, propelled in part by a surge in Iraq, according to government figures to be released soon.

Officials cautioned against reading too much into the overall total. The government last year adopted a new definition of terrorism and changed its system of counting global attacks, devoting more energy to finding reports of violence against civilians.

Yet the numbers are a striking reminder that violence around the globe has dramatically increased in the more than four years of the war on terror.

Terrorist violence in Iraq is up in every category in 2005, including armed attacks and kidnappings. The official said Iraq will represent more than 50% of the total increase in terrorist incidents. The year before, the center said there were 866 terror attacks against civilians and other non-combatants there.
I know the new definition of terrorism is going to encompass more incidents and all that, but wow, 10,000 is a lot -- roughly 30 terrorist attacks every day of the year. And is there any account that shows this War on Terrorism has led to a reduction in, you know, terrorism? Otherwise, I don't know how Bush figures he's winning his war.

All those allegedly dangerous people locked up at Gitmo, Abu Grahib and God knows where else, and yet terrorism continues to grow. That means either we have thousands of the wrong people detained without charges around the world, or we have all the right people and something is creating new terrorists. And being that Iraq alone represents more than half of the total increase in terrorist incidents, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the effect of the War on Terror is the exact opposite of it's claimed objective.

Either way, it's not a pretty picture.

'Utterly false'

You didn't expect her to admit it, did you? Only one person in the administration is dumb enough to admit leaking national security information.

Condoleezza Rice's spokesman on Saturday branded as "utterly false" a lawyer's claim the secretary of state leaked national defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist charged with receiving and disclosing such information.

The assertion came as a federal judge granted a defense request to issue subpoenas for Rice and three other government officials in the trial of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, the former lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee charged in the case.

"The claims by these defense lawyers are utterly false," Rice's spokesman, Sean McCormack, told The Associated Press.

"The secretary is the most careful person in the handling of classified information and she absolutely did not convey classified information to either of these individuals," McCormack said.
Well, he sounds awfully certain. Let's see how long it takes Rice's lawyers to try to squash the subpoena, because, after all, the allegations are "utterly false."

And, on the off chance it's revealed that Condi did share classified national defense information, let's see if George Bush follows through on his statement that "If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Tampa 5, Sox 1

Scott Kazmir's wildness, which led Red Sox pitchers to throw at Tampa hitters in 2004 -- according to Curt Schilling, was not in evidence Thursday. Kazmir struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings and walked only one in leading Tampa Bay over the Sox.

Jonny Gomes homered twice, off Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavares. The Sox managed only six hits, the biggest being a second-inning homer by Dustan Mohr.

The Sox are in Toronto tonight, and Josh Beckett (3-0, 1.29) takes his turn in his game of HORSE with Curt Schilling. Beckett will face former Marlins teammate A.J. Burnett (0-1, 6.00).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

It just looks like change

A good post at Daily Kos, about why the White House "shake-up" is bullshit.

But this isn't change. This is musical chairs.

It's a choreographed dance where staffer X moves from point A to point B while staffer Y moves from point B to point A. Let's take Joel Kaplan (already working in the White House as deputy budget director) and give him the spanking new job of...working in the White House (this time as deputy chief of staff for policy).

Let's take Josh Bolten (who worked in the White House as policy coordinator) and use his the White House (this time as chief of staff). Let's take Rob Portman (appointed by Bush as his U.S. Trade Rep) and have him appointed now as OMB director.

It's the same old pattern. Need a new Secretary of State? Look no further than your National Security Advisor. Need a Supreme Court Justice? Look no further than your personal lawyer (until the right-wing takes her down). Need a new Health & Human Services Secretary? Just transfer over the guy you appointed as head of the EPA. As Josh Marshall opines, where are the new faces? There will never be new faces. Why?

Because Bush. Doesn't. Do. Change.
That's because what Bush really doesn't do is admit mistakes, and making meaningful changes to his staff would be to admit mistakes by appointing the people in the first place.

And he's going to be especially inflexible if there are popular calls for a change, which is why Donald Rumsfeld isn't going anywhere. Retired generals' calls for Rummy's firing are actually doing wonders for the Donald's job security, because Bush isn't going to be swayed by logic, reason or the wisdom and experience of the people explaining why Rummy must go. He's the commander-in-chief, dammit, and no lowly retired generals are going to tell him what to do. That these men have forgotten more about combat, tactics and the realities of military life than George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney will ever, ever know is 100 percent irrelevant.

But the real message here is that, as in all things the Bush administration does, perception trumps reality. Scott McClellan was shown the door not becuase he was doing his slimy work poorly, but because he was the dissembling public face of a dissembling administration. And Karl Rove's title shift is about as meaningful as title promotions employers offer their workers instead of raises.

These high-profile changes are merely cosmetic, a piss-poor effort to boost the public's piss-poor perception of Bush. A new White House spokesman isn't going to make the troops any safer, slow the civil war in Iraq, shrink the budget deficit, rebuild New Orleans, provide health care for one more American or create one new job. So as long as George Bush rejects meaningful change in his administration and policies, don't look for meaningful change in his poll numbers, either.

Sox 9, Tampa 1

Curt Schilling struck out 7 in six innings and Mike Lowell powered a 7-run third inning to lead the Sox to an easy win Wednesday.

Schilling (4-0) has started the season with four straight wins for the first time in his career. He yeilded only one run, lowering his ERA to 1.61.

The 7-run third inning, the highest-scoring inning the Sox have had all year, was aided by two Tampa errors. Besides Lowell's double, the inning saw RBIs from Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis.

Overall, Lowell had two hits, two RBI and scored twice. Youkilis led off the game with a home run en route to a 3-for-4 performance.

Much is being made about the fact that Manny Ramirez has yet to hit a home run this season. Don't worry about Manny. His numbers will be there at the end of the season, and I'd rather see him hot in August than April.

Schilling's return to form sets the bar high for Josh Beckett, who will try to answer Schilling's outstanding performance Friday in Toronto. In the meantime, Tim Wakefield will face Scott Kazmir, the subject of Schilling's latest radio appearance, tonight at Fenway.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sox 7, Tampa 4

The Sox did what they are supposed to do Tuesday night -- beat a weaker team. But a sinking line drive to shallow center field added some unwelcome drama to the proceedings.

Manny Ramirez, who is starting to heat up, drove in three runs with a 2-for-4 performance and Matt Clement gave up 3 runs in 7 innings and struck out six but got a no-decision. Mike Timlin, who allowed an inherited runner to score and gave up one run of his own in one inning of work, got the W.

Jonathan Papelbon inherited a three-run lead in the ninth and gave up his first walks of the season to load the bases. Damon Hollins then hit a sinking liner to center. Defensive replacement Adam Stern raced in and left his feet. Fenway held its breath as Stern dove for the ball, and let out a cheer when he made a snow-cone catch to end the game.

If Stern had missed that ball with two outs and the runners moving on contact, tie game, at least.

Kevin Youkilis had another strong performance, going 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored. David Ortiz had a pair of doubles and scored two runs.

Tonight Curt Schilling (3-0, 1.64) faces Doug Waechter (0-0, 3.72). Schilling's comments yesterday on WEEI that Sox pitchers threw at Tampa hitters last year in retailiation for Scott Kazmir's wildness give the game an interesting subtext, especially when Schilling starts pitching inside.

Flounder, we hardly knew ye

I guess we won't have Scott McClellan to kick around anymore.

President George W. Bush's press secretary Scott McClellan resigned on Wednesday and senior adviser Karl Rove gave up the policy-development part of his job in a White House shake-up.

The moves were part of an effort by new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, who started work last weekend, to help Bush rebound from sagging polls and bolster American confidence in his leadership.

Bush's job approval ratings are hovering around the high 30s, the lowest of his presidency, pushed down in part by growing public disillusion with the Iraq war.
As for Karl Rove's allegedly reduced role,

Rove's job change meant that he has survived the shake-up, although with a shrunken portfolio. White House insiders said they expected him to remain as influential as ever.
All this means is that Bolten recognizes that the public considers Rove about the most unseemly person in the White House outside of big Dick, and for a staff shakeup to have any effect on Bush's subterranean poll numbers, Rove's name had to be mentioned. But don't expect Bush to start taking shits without checking with Karl first.

As for McClellan, he was just being a good German. He was constantly painted into corners by the administration and looked foolish at press conferences because his job essentially was to defend the undefensible and try to make sense of the senseless.

But before you start shedding tears for McClellan, he knew he was taking a job that required him to lie to the American people about the activities of their government on pretty much a daily basis. He had to know he, like everyone else in the administration save for Don Rumsfeld and Turd Blossom, would be cut loose the moment it benefitted the bosses for whom he whored himself and destroyed his personal credibility. Nobody told him to lie down with such dogs. Now he can go home, count his money and scratch his fleas.

Remember, it was just a month ago that the White House, through it's lying mouth, appropriately enough, rejected calls for the shakeup we're seeing now.

So much for that.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Separate but equal

Welcome to 1953.

In a move some decried as state-sponsored segregation, the Legislature voted Thursday to divide the Omaha school system into three districts -- one mostly black, one predominantly white and one largely Hispanic.

Supporters, including the idea's sponsor and the Legislature's lone black senator, said the plan would give minorities control over the school board and ensure that schoolchildren aren't shortchanged in favor of white students.

Opponents said it was nothing but state-sanctioned segregation.

"We will go down in history as one of the first states in 20 years to set race relations back," said Sen. Pat Bourne of Omaha.

Gov. Dave Heineman signed the bill into law.

The law is unconstitutional and will not stand, said Omaha Public Schools superintendent John Mackiel.

"There simply has never been an anti-city school victory anywhere in this nation," Mackiel said. "This law will be no exception."

"History will not, and should not, judge us kindly," said Sen. Gwen Howard of Omaha.
Why wait for history? Why not contact Gov. Heineman right now and tell him what you think?

UPDATE: A Suburban Guerrilla reader says the law is a political move to force the Omaha district to play nice in negotiations with suburban districts.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Partiots Day

While thousands ran in the 110th Boston Marathon Monday, the Red Sox preferred to trot.

David Ortiz homered twice (and just missed a third) and Mark Loretta hit a walkoff homer into the Monster seats to lead the Sox over the Mariners 7-6. With the win, the Sox take three of four in the series.

Kevin Youkilis hustled out an infield single with two outs in the ninth to get Loretta to the plate.

Lenny DiNardo got the start Monday in place of David Wells, who was placed on the 15-day DL with a knee sprain. DiNardo went five innings, giving up two runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out one.

Keith Foulke pitched a perfect eighth, but gave up a couple of hits in the ninth before being lifted. One of those runners scored to give Seattle a one-run lead in the ninth.

The Sox open up a three-game series against Tampa Tuesday.

No White Child Left Behind

Don't ya just wish this were surprising? But because under the Bush administration it just has to look like results, this is pretty much standard operating procedure.

States are helping public schools escape potential penalties by skirting the No Child Left Behind law's requirement that students of all races must show annual academic progress.

With the federal government's permission, schools aren't counting the test scores of nearly 2 million students when they report progress by racial groups, an Associated Press computer analysis found.

Minorities — who historically haven't fared as well as whites in testing — make up the vast majority of students whose scores are being excluded, the AP found. And the numbers have been rising.

"I can't believe that my child is going through testing just like the person sitting next to him or her and she's not being counted," said Angela Smith, a single mother. Her daughter, Shunta' Winston, was among two dozen black students whose test scores weren't broken out by race at her suburban Kansas City, Mo., high school.
Look on the bright side: It's great practice for the future, when your minority child will vote just like the person next to her and she won't be counted.

I guess we will never really know the answer to that rarest of questions: Is our children learning?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Toronto 8, Boston 6

Ted Lilly struck out 10 in seven innings and Vernon Wells hit a grand slam in the second inning to lead the Blue Jays Thursday night.

The Sox got a first-inning run on David Oritz's RBI single to center, but the Sox bats were largely quiet until the eighth, when they were trailing 8-1.

In the eighth, Ortiz homered, scoring Kevin Youkilis, who opened the inning with a walk. The Sox added three in the ninth, the big blow a two-run double by Youkilis. Ortiz nearly tied the game with another homer, but his fly ball to right came up short. Ortiz now leads the team in batting average (.382), HR (4), RBI (9), and runs scored (7).

Matt Clement's line: 4 IP, 8 hits, 7 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 15.75 ERA.

A silver lining (other than Ortiz): Keith Foulke was near perfect in two innings, yeilding only a walk but following that with a double-play ground ball, and striking out two. Of course, it was 8-3 at the time. If he can do this in pressure situations, the back of the Sox pen suddenly would look much more formidable.

The Sox open a three-game series against the Mariners tonight. Curt Schilling (2-0, 1.93) faces lefty Jamie Moyer (0-1, 4.38) in a battle of veteran hurlers.


Ours are all fucked up.

A federal grand jury is considering whether baseball superstar Barry Bonds committed perjury during his 2003 testimony in the BALCO steroids case, two people familiar with the proceedings said on Thursday.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment on the investigation, which was first reported earlier in the day on

According to his lawyer, Bonds, the holder of the single-season home-run record, told the BALCO federal grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly used steroids.

Yet a new book alleges that the San Francisco Giant player actively used steroids for at least five seasons, prompting Major League Baseball to launch a probe headed by former Senator George Mitchell into doping in the American pastime.
Meanwhile, no grand jury is investigating this.

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.
So it appears that we're more interested in investigating the testimony of a baseball player whose alleged actions, while unseemly, have no impact beyond the sport and his own health than we are in investigating the testimony of oil executives, whose greed reverberates throughout our economy and affects everyone in the world, whether they drive or not.

Please spare me the "Bonds' action sends the wrong message to children" crap. What message is sent by investigating Bonds while Big Oil slips by without a second glance? "Kids, if you're going to cheat, make sure the Vice President is in on it." Or perhaps "Kids, you should never lie to a grand jury, but lying to Congress is no problem."

Nice shot

I've taken many well-deserved shots at Wal-Mart on this site, but it appears Wal-Mart shoppers will be taking fewer shots at everything now.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has decided to stop selling guns in about a third of its U.S. stores in what it calls a marketing decision based on lack of demand in some places, a company spokeswoman said Friday.

The world's largest retailer decided last month to remove firearms from about 1,000 stores in favor of stocking other sporting goods, in line with a "Store of the Community" strategy for boosting sales by paying closer attention to local differences in demand.

"This decision is based on diminished customer relevancy and demand in these markets," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart.

Stewart declined to specify what stores were affected.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., has about 1,200 discount stores and 1,900 Supercenters, which include a full grocery section, in all 50 states. Wal-Mart says it sells rifles and shotguns. In Alaska, it also sells handguns.
Any decision that leads to fewer guns is praiseworthy, regardless of the reasons behind it. And Wal-Mart is quick to point out that it wasn't safety, conscience or high-mindedness that led to fewer guns being carted out of its stores.

"As with all merchandise decisions that we make, our decision to remove guns from Wal-Mart locations is simply based on the lack of customer purchase history of firearms in a given community," Stewart said.
Still, fewer guns is fewer guns. Kudos to Wal-Mart, even if its motives aren't as laudable as its action.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Blue Jays 8, Sox 4

It wasn't a good start for David Wells. Boomer was boomed -- and booed -- early and often Wednesday night, giving up five runs and eight hits, including homers to Alex Rios and Bengie Molina, in the first two innings en route to a 10-hit, 7-run line in four-plus innings of work.

David Oritz continues to tear the cover off the ball, doubling in the third and smashing a homer in the fifth. Dustan Mohr and Wily Mo Pena also went deep, helping the Sox to score four runs on a night when Kevin Youkilis, Mark Loretta, Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek and Alex Gonzalez went hitless. Doubles machine Mike Lowell hit his fifth two-bagger of the season in the second inning.

Youkilis didn't exactly make a case for himself as a leadoff hitter, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Fortunately, that's not his normal spot in the order. Manny continued to struggle, but is bound to heat up soon.

Tonight Matt Clement (1-0) faces Ted Lilly, who got a no-decision in his last outing, against Tampa, when he walked six and gave up four runs in 2.1 innings. Clement gave up four runs and struck out seven in seven innings in a win against Baltimore on April 7.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sox 5, Blue Jays 3

Former Marlins Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell led the Sox to a 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Sox home opener Tuesday.

Beckett (2-0) started shaky, walking three in the first inning, including one with the bases loaded, but settled down to go seven innings and the Jays didn't threaten again until the eighth, when Keith Foulke gave up a glove-aided two-run homer to Frank Catalanotto. The ball deflected off the glove of Wily Mo Pena and into the Toronto bullpen.

Pena was replacing Trot Nixon, who strained his left groin and had to leave the game in the fourth inning. He expects to be out five to seven days.

Lowell went 4-for-4 with three doubles, an RBI and a run scored in his Boston debut.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth, with one K, to earn his fourth save of the season.

Adam Stern is doing well filling in for the injured Coco Crisp. He's hitting .333 with 4 RBI and a stolen base.

Manny Ramirez is off to a slow start offensively. He's 6-for-25 in the early going, but exactly nobody is worried that he won't get hot.

Tonight the Sox send David Wells to the mound, who is beginning his final season in the bigs. He plans to retire after this season, his 20th. Toronto counters with Gustavo Chacin.


George Bush never lets the truth get in the way.

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."

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.
Now we're supposed to believe what this person's administration tells us about the threat posed by Iran.

But it appears CBS still isn't sure Bush was lying when he said, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction." However, the following paragraphs appear under its headline, "Did White House Push Bogus WMD Claim?" (It's utterly amazing that such a headline could be written by informed people in 2006.)

The administration called the trailers mobile "biological laboratories," and Mr. Bush declared: "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

Three years later, The Washington Post is reporting that the Bush administration publicly made that claim at that time even though U.S. intelligence officials already had strong evidence the trailers were not labs for making large scale biological weapons.

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was cited then as supporting evidence for the decision to go to war.

As the Post notes, in late June, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell declared that the "confidence level is increasing" that the trailers were intended for biowarfare. In September, Vice President Cheney pronounced the trailers to be "mobile biological facilities," and said they could have been used to produce anthrax or smallpox.

But a secret mission to Iraq, according to the Post, had already concluded the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of a Pentagon-sponsored mission, according to a report on the newspaper's web site, sent their findings to Washington in a report on May 27, 2003 - two days before the president's statement.

The Post quoted a DIA spokesman as saying the team's findings were incorporated into the work of the Iraqi Survey Group, which led the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The survey group concluded the trailers were "impractical" for biological weapons production and were probably intended for manufacturing hydrogen for weather balloons.
So what exactly is CBS questioning, the veracity of the Post report?

Let me simplify this for the editors over at CBS news:

Did Bush say, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction"? Yes. You reported it in the first paragraph of the story asking if the White House pushed a bogus WMD claim. The quote also appears on your Web site here.

Have WMD's been found in Iraq? No, and you knew this because you reported it here and here and here.

So in response to the question you published as a headline, "Did White House Push Bogus WMD Claim?" the answer is YES!

Got it?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Be a witness

It isn't exactly news that the MSM spends too much time and attention on bullshit, but this is powerful.

Check out some of the site's other offerings, too.

Another new low

It's getting hard to keep up with these -- every poll about how George Bush is doing his job is reading a new low.

Political reversals at home and continued bad news from Iraq have dragged President Bush's standing with the public to a new low, at the same time that Republican fortunes on Capitol Hill also are deteriorating, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that 38 percent of the public approve of the job Bush is doing, down three percentage points in the past month and his worst showing in Post-ABC polling since he became president. Sixty percent disapprove of his performance.

With less than seven months remaining before the midterm elections, Bush's political troubles already appear to be casting a long shadow over them. Barely a third of registered voters, 35 percent, approve of the way the Republican-held Congress is doing its job -- the lowest level of support in nine years.
I guess this means it's going to be a little harder in November to explain the unlikely election results, when Republicans are overwhelmingly swept back into power.

Of course, by then explanations won't matter, because it'll be all-out war on the poor and the environment. Oh yeah, and on Iran.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Don't you wish you could say you were surprised?

Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.

The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 — as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.
Yeah, accusing a political party whose officials disenfranchised opposition voters by preparing a list of felons that was designed to include several false matches and is requiring counties across the country to buy touch-screen voting machines that just happen to be easy as pie to hack of jamming phone lines to disrupt an opponent's get-out-the-vote effort is in no way based on rational thought. And to believe that the party's paying millions in legal bills to defend those accused in the incident somehow makes such allegations more credible just shows a lack of plain ol' common sense.

It's the O.J. strategy -- no matter how conclusive the evidence agaisnt you, admit nothing; no matter how ridiculous you sound, deny everything.


David Ortiz signed a four-year contract extension with the Sox, with a team option for 2011.

Walking in and out of Baltimore

The Sox swept the Orioles in a weekend series, aided in no small measure by the Orioles' pitching staff, which issued 26 walks to Sox hitters, including 14 in Friday's 14-8 win.

Curt Schilling (2-0) once again looked good, going seven strong innings in Saturday's 2-1 win, yeilding only one run on three hits and two walks. Mike Timlin and Jonathan Papelbon (3 saves) appear to be a solid back of the bullpen, although Keith Foulke remains an option as a setup man. Foulke appeared in two games, and on Sunday struck out two of the three hitters he faced.

Tim Wakefield (1-1) rebounded nicely in his second start Sunday, striking out four in six innings, and struck out the side in the sixth inning after putting two runners in scoring position. The Sox went on to win 4-1.

Offensively, Trot Nixon was impressive, hitting a homer and driving in four runs Friday night. Nixon has 7 RBI in the early going. And Jason Varitek accounted for both Sox runs Saturday, scoring one and driving in the other.

The Sox return home 5-1, atop the AL East. They open up Fenway tomorrow with a three-game series against Toronto.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Flip flop?

Is it possible that the White House kept some of those prop flip flops handed out at the Republican National Convention in 2004?

The White House on Friday rejected suggestions that President Bush contradicted himself by repeatedly railing against leaks of classified information even though he had approved the release of classified information to bolster the U.S. case for the Iraq war in 2003.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan argued Friday that the president staunchly opposes releasing classified information that could affect U.S. security. And he pointed out that the president reserves the right to declassify material.

Looking at the specific 2003 case, McClellan said, "Because of the public debate that was going on and some of the wild accusations that were flying around at the time, we felt it was very much in the public interest that what information could be declassified be declassified, and that's exactly what we did."
Boy, there sure were some "wild accusations" flying around about Iraq's WMD program at the time, huh?

"There is a difference between providing declassified information to the public when it's in the public interest and leaking classified information that involved sensitive national intelligence regarding our security," McClellan said.
And, of course, George Bush is the judge of what's in the public interest and what's a threat to national security. He thought Americans didn't need to know that the government is monitoring their phone calls and Internet activity.

To judge whether Bush contradicted himself, it would be useful to examine his previous statements on leaks. Fortunately, there's a short list of them right here. Add this September 2003 quote to that list: "I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take appropriate action."

Er eh, not in my back yahd

Shame on you, Ted Kennedy. You should know that when you're in agreement with Ted Stevens, you might be on the wrong side of an issue.

Opponents of a plan to build the first offshore U.S. wind farm in Nantucket Sound off Massachusetts were a step closer on Friday to blocking the $900 million project.

Backers say the project could generate enough electricity for most of Cape Cod and nearby islands. Opponents include wealthy residents with yachts and shorefront property near the proposed site.

An odd alliance has formed to block the project, including Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and two Alaska Republicans -- Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Young's spokesman said the senator opposed the project out of concerns it would be unsafe for ships trying to navigate off the Massachusetts coast.

On a clear day, the windmills would be visible from many of the area's resort homes, including the Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport six miles away.
The windmills would be visible by the wealthy from their expensive homes on Martha's Vinyard six miles away, but not from ships close enough to run into them. Right.

"It would be folly for us in Congress to talk about breaking our addiction to foreign oil and, at the same time, pass laws that stymie our own production of clean and renewable energies here at home," Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) said in a statement.
It's hard not to conclude that Kennedy is putting his personal stake in this issue before what's good for the country, and that's not good government, not why he was sent to Washington.

'Blood everywhere'

And in Washington, all attention is on whether and when the information George Bush had Scooter Libby leak to the press in support of starting his war in Iraq was declassified.

Hundreds of mourners marched through Shiite neighborhoods of the capital today, wailing in grief for dozens of worshippers killed in a devastating mosque bombing Friday.

The mourners beat their chests, a traditional act among grieving Shiites, and carried aloft wooden coffins. The dead were bound for the vast Shiite cemetery in the holy city of Najaf, to be buried as the latest martyrs in the rising tide of sectarian bloodletting. Protestors waving green flags demanded justice.

Three suicide bombers, including at least one who appeared to be a woman, exploded in a sea of Friday worshipers at the main mosque of the most powerful Shiite political party in Iraq, killing at least 71 people and wounding at least 140.
Overheard in a newsroom: "There are 141 photos from Iraq, and 138 of them are ... blood everywhere."

And in the wake of tragedy, more madness:

A car bomb Saturday killed five Iraq civilians and wounded 17 in Musayyib, 40 miles south of Baghdad, near a Shiite shrine, according to police.
Unimaginable violence, unimaginable grief, unimaginable violence. The awful cycle continues. And where do you suppose George Bush is today? (Hint: It's Saturday.)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Speaking truth to power

How could I not include a link to Harry Taylor's dressing down of George Bush? In case you have trouble viewing the video, here's the transcript:

You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you’d like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are –

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what’s your question?

Q Okay, I don’t have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I — in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and –

THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec — let him speak.

Q And I would hope — I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I’m saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.

THE PRESIDENT: It is, yes. (Applause.)

Q And I know that this doesn’t come welcome to most of the people in this room, but I do appreciate that.

THE PRESIDENT: Appreciate –

Q I don’t have a question, but I just wanted to make that comment to you.

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate it, thank you. Let me –

Q Can I ask a question?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m going to start off with what you first said, if you don’t mind, you said that I tap your phones — I think that’s what you said. You tapped your phone — I tapped your phones. Yes. No, that’s right. Yes, no, let me finish.
I’d like to describe that decision I made about protecting this country. You can come to whatever conclusion you want. The conclusion is I’m not going to apologize for what I did on the terrorist surveillance program, and I’ll tell you why. We were accused in Washington, D.C. of not connecting the dots, that we didn’t do everything we could to protect you or others from the attack. And so I called in the people responsible for helping to protect the American people and the homeland. I said, is there anything more we could do.

And there — out of this national — NSA came the recommendation that it would make sense for us to listen to a call outside the country, inside the country from al Qaeda or suspected al Qaeda in order to have real-time information from which to possibly prevent an attack. I thought that made sense, so long as it was constitutional. Now, you may not agree with the constitutional assessment given to me by lawyers — and we’ve got plenty of them in Washington — but they made this assessment that it was constitutional for me to make that decision.
I then, sir, took that decision to members of the United States Congress from both political parties and briefed them on the decision that was made in order to protect the American people. And so members of both parties, both chambers, were fully aware of a program intended to know whether or not al Qaeda was calling in or calling out of the country. It seems like — to make sense, if we’re at war, we ought to be using tools necessary within the Constitution, on a very limited basis, a program that’s reviewed constantly to protect us.

Now, you and I have a different — of agreement on what is needed to be protected. But you said, would I apologize for that? The answer — answer is, absolutely not. (Applause.)

See? Just a simple different of agreement.

Democracy rules.


Another poll, another new low. Ho hum.

President Bush's approval ratings hit a series of new lows in an AP-Ipsos poll that also shows Republicans surrendering their advantage on national security — grim election-year news for a party struggling to stay in power.


• Just 36 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, his lowest-ever rating in AP-Ipsos polling. By contrast, the president's job approval rating was 47 percent among likely voters just before Election Day 2004 and a whopping 64 percent among registered voters in October 2002.

• Only 40 percent of the public approves of Bush's performance on foreign policy and the war on terror, another low-water mark for his presidency. That's down 9 points from a year ago. Just before the 2002 election, 64 percent of registered voters backed Bush on terror and foreign policy.
Like rats fleeing a sinking ship, GOP lawmakers will go to great lengths to avoid being photographed with toxic George. But they still want money, so its likely you'll see a lot more fundraising events in the coming months that feature Bush, but not the candidate he's stumping for.

The story also points out that

There is more at stake than the careers of GOP lawmakers. A Democratic-led Congress could bury the last vestiges of Bush's legislative agenda and subject the administration to high-profile investigations of the Iraq war, the CIA leak case, warrantless eavesdropping and other matters.
You don't think an administration with a history of questionable election results is going to leave these elections, and possibly their own fates, to chance, do you? Watch for all kinds of crazy shit on election night -- things we've seen before, like results that differ widly from exit polls and hassles at polling places in Democratic precincts, and probably some ugliness we haven't even thought of yet, not being professional election riggers and all.

Soft drink, hard to swallow

If it weren't so dangerous, it almost would be fun to watch government agencies try to spin their own findings in favor of big business. Here's an example.

Cancer-causing benzene has been found in soft drinks at levels above the limit considered safe for drinking water, the Food and Drug Administration acknowledged Wednesday.

Even so, the FDA still believes there are no safety concerns about benzene in soft drinks, or sodas, said Laura Tarantino, the agency's director of food additive safety.

"We haven't changed our view that right now, there is not a safety concern, not a public health concern," she said. "But what we need to do is understand how benzene forms and to ensure the industry is doing everything to avoid those circumstances."

The admission contradicted statements last week, when officials said FDA found insignificant levels of benzene.

In fact, a different study found benzene at four times the tap water limit, on average, in 19 of 24 samples of diet soda.

Tarantino said chemists may have overestimated the amount of benzene and that levels in diet soda were still relatively low compared with other sources of benzene exposure.
Like drinking gasoline, for instance.

Let me see if I have this straight: Testing reveals benzene levels in soft drink samples at four times the level considered safe for drinking water (or about 20 ppb). But the FDA says it's nothing to worry about.

So, if that level of benzene were found in water, it would be considered unsafe. But in soft drinks, no problem.

What is driving the FDA toward that conclusion? It doesn't appear to have been burdened by either logic or common sense, so something else must be at work.

You don't suppose this could have anything to do with that conclusion, do you? It may seem cynical, but "follow the money" has explained a lot of things that otherwise defy explanation.

Click here to read the FDA's response to concerns raised by Richard Wiles of the Environmental Working Group. My favorite part: "FDA is continuing to sample beverages to gain more representative data on the current situation. We intend to release our results when we have a more complete understanding of the current marketplace."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tweet tweet

Looks like someone isn't too happy about the prospect of going to jail for doing what he was told.

Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide told prosecutors President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.

Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on information and that it was Bush who authorized the disclosure, the court papers say. According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003, conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

There was no indication in the filing that either Bush or Cheney authorized Libby to disclose Valerie Plame's CIA identity.

But the disclosure in documents filed Wednesday means that the president and the vice president put Libby in play as a secret provider of information to reporters about prewar intelligence on Iraq.

The authorization came as the Bush administration faced mounting criticism about its failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the main reason the president and his aides had given for going to war.

Libby's participation in a critical conversation with Miller on July 8, 2003 "occurred only after the vice president advised defendant that the president specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the National Intelligence Estimate," the papers by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald stated. The filing did not specify the "certain information."
Looks like this is about more than outing Plame, but I'm sure Bush will claim the authority of the office makes his authorizing leaks of classified national security information legal, even though he has criticized others for allegedly doing the same thing and began an investigation to find out who squealed about his beloved domestic spying program. And I'm sure Alberto Gonzalez will back him up.

But if things break the way polls say they will in the November elections, and the GOP loses its majority in Congress, things could get very interesting.

Stay tuned.

About those 'thousands' of mistakes ...

Donald Rumsfeld pleaded ignorance regarding the thousands of tactical errors that Condi Rice was talking about.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of "tactical errors" in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.

Speaking during a radio interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday, Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war "errors" reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.

"Why? Because the enemy's got a brain; the enemy watches what you do and then adjusts to that, so you have to constantly adjust and change your tactics, your techniques and your procedures," Rumsfeld told interviewer Scott Hennen, according to a Defense Department transcript. "If someone says, well, that's a tactical mistake, then I guess it's a lack of understanding, at least my understanding, of what warfare is about."
Speaking of a lack of understanding of warfare, I wonder if Donnie understands that this is a fight he's unlikely to win. Rice is one of the few members of the Bush administration who has any semblance of credibility in circles outside the 33 percenters who still think junior is doing a good job -- she may have only a little bit, but he has none whatsoever. And with Josh Bolten replacing Andy Card as chief of staff, rumors about Rumsfeld's future with the administration are once again starting to swirl.

The coming midterm elections have many in the GOP worried, and jettisoning Rumsfeld, architect of the tragic mess in Iraq, which Bush already has said he plans to leave for someone else to clean up, can only help poll numbers that currently are in free fall.

I don't think canning Rumsfeld will have as much of an impact as these swine hope, but I'm all for firing neocons repsonisble for starting a war anytime the opportunity presents itself.

Sox 2, Rangers 1

Josh Beckett went seven innings in his Sox debut, and Trot Nixon homered to power the Sox past the Rangers Wednesday night.

Beckett struck out five and walked one to earn the win, topping a fine outing by Texas' Kameron Loe, whose only mistake was the home run ball he threw to Nixon. But Beckett struggled early, giving up a first-inning run before settling down and retiring 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced.

Jon Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out two, for his first save, which means, barring injury, we're unlikely to see Keith Foulke in many save opportunities this season. Foulke was shaky in his only appearance this season, hit hard Monday but giving up only one run.

Coco Crisp continues to impress. He tripled in the sixth and is hitting .357 with a stolen base and four runs scored in the early going. Mark Loretta added two hits in a game when the the entire lineup managed only six.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Rangers 10, Sox 4

Tim Wakefield got hit hard Tuesday night, giving up seven earned runs in 3.2 innings as the Sox fell to 1-1 on the season.

Phil Nevin's first-inning homer and 5 RBI put the Sox in a hole they couldn't climb out of, despite another impressive performance from Coco Crisp, who had three hits, a stolen base and scored twice.

David Ortiz continued hitting the ball hard, doubling over the wall in right to drive home Crisp in the sixth. Wily Mo Pena also doubled to right in his first appearance of the season, driving in a run.

Tonight the Sox give the ball to another new arrival, Josh Beckett. Kameron Loe gets the ball for the Rangers.

Warning: Breathing may be hazardous to your health

More disappointments from the Environmental Politics Agency:

A leaked document from the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that the agency is considering a significant change in air-pollution rules. It would give chemical factories, refineries and manufacturing plants new leeway to increase emissions of pollutants that cause cancer and birth defects.

John Walke, who heads the clean-air program for the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, says he received the document from sources at the EPA who wanted the public to become aware of this "backward step."
Uh oh, I smell a patented Bush-style investigation into the source of that leak. Or is that toxic chemicals I smell?

If reading that makes you need a drink, I'm afraid I have more bad news:

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to allow higher levels of contaminants such as arsenic in the drinking water used by small rural communities, in response to complaints that they cannot afford to comply with recently imposed limits.

The proposal would roll back a rule that went into effect earlier this year and make it permissible for water systems serving 10,000 or fewer residents to have three times the level of contaminants allowed under that regulation.

About 50 million people live in communities that would be affected by the proposed change. In the case of arsenic, the most recent EPA data suggest as many as 10 million Americans are drinking water that does not meet the new federal standards.


Under the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996, complying with federal drinking water standards is not supposed to cost water systems more than 2.5 percent of the median U.S. household income, which in 2004 was $44,684, per household served. That means meeting these standards should not cost more than $1,117 per household.

Under the EPA's proposal, drinking water compliance could not cost more than $335 per household.
It's hard not to arrive at the conclusion that the EPA no longer exists to, you know, protect the environment, but to make sure that Bush administration supporters aren't burdened with expenses related to not killing us.

Between this and the USDA's plans to all but stop testing for mad cow disease, it appears that it's no longer safe to eat, drink or breathe.

Thank you George Bush.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Maybe the region's conservative voters can turn their focus away from criminalizing abortion for a moment?

In a sleazy hotel room, "Brittany," then aged 16 and drugged into oblivion, waited for the men to arrive. Her pimps sent as many as 17 clients an evening through the door.

A "john" could even pre-book the pretty young blonde for $1,000 a night, sometimes flying in and then flying out from a nearby airport.

None of this happened in Bangkok or Costa Rica, places that have become synonymous with sex tourism and underage sex.

It took place in Atlanta, the buckle of the U.S. Bible Belt, where the world's busiest passenger airport provides a cheaper, more convenient and safer underage sex destination for men seeking girls as young as 10.

"Men fly in, are met by pimps, have sex with a 14-year-old for lunch, and get home in time for dinner with the family," said Sanford Jones, the chief juvenile judge of Fulton County, Georgia.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provides information to help combat this evil. In the meantime, parents, love your children. Threats lurk everywhere, apparently, so be vigilant, for their sake.

The meltdown

Springtime never was very good for snow, and here's a headline that should worry the treasury secretary.

Bush says Snow has been valued member of team

I wonder if George Bush remembers that the only reason John Snow is still a member of his Cabinet is that at the end of 2004 it was impossible to find someone else willing to take the job. Remember "Snow can stay as long as he wants, provided it is not very long"?

Hopefully this time around the administration can find someone willing to provide Bush with information about how well the economy is doing at a time when fuel prices are skyrocketing, unemployment is hovering around 5 percent, wages are stagnant, poverty is on the rise and nearly 46 million Americans have no health insurance.

You know, "good, crisp information."

Good riddance

In welcome news from Washington, indicted Republican Tom DeLay has announced his eventual resignation from Congress.

Knowing that he was all but certain to lose a re-election bid, he decided instead to step aside in favor of a Republican who has a chance to win, saying, "I refuse to allow liberal Democrats an opportunity to steal this seat with a negative, personal campaign."

Of course, when you've been indicted for money laundering and were forced to step down as House majority leader, your personal conduct is a legitimate campaign issue -- "character," I believe Bill Clinton's GOP attackers called it. And if pointing out that a candidate is unfit to serve after being indicted by a grand jury is negative, it's also entirely accurate.

Perhaps there was a certain shame in being an indicted public official, in being, if the allegations are true, the most corrupt member of Congress now that Duke Cunningham is playing tennis behind razor wire. And with the guilty pleas of Tony Rudy, Michael Scanlon and Jack Abramoff, we know that, at the very least, DeLay surrounded himself with criminals.

DeLay is almost certainly correct when he says that his resignation hurts Nick Lampson, who would have been his Democratic opponent in the election -- it always helps your campaign when your opponent is indicted and steps down from a leadership post in disgrace. And perhaps some Democrats are disappointed that Lampson now will have to face a Republican without DeLay's considerable baggage in a district that, by design, is heavily Republican.

Sure, DeLay's resignation may end up costing the Democrats the opportunity to pick up a seat in Congress. But set partisan politics aside and it becomes clear that this is good for the United States. A dirty politician has announced his resignation. Take pleasure in that.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sox 7, Rangers 3

Curt Schilling looked strong in seven innings of work and David Ortiz picked up where he left off last season as the Sox topped the Texas Rangers 7-3 Monday.

Schilling (1-0) struck out five and walked one in his seven innings, giving up five hits. He ran into trouble in the sixth, when he gave up a couple of shots that turned into loud outs and a two-run homer to Hank Blalock.

It was suprising to see Schill come out to start the seventh after he finished the sixth at 99 pitches and sat for about 20 minutes while the Sox hit in the top of the seventh, but he had a 3-run lead at the time, and Francona often gives his veterans the benefit of the doubt (which, of course, is what got his predecessor fired). But Schill had an easy seventh, even notching his fifth K.

Jon Papelbon was impressive, pitching a 1-2-3 eighth, which is good because Keith Foulke looked shaky in the ninth. His fastball was in the high 80s and many of his pithces were up in the zone. He gave up a few shots -- Adam Stern bounced off the left-field wall chasing one and Coco Crisp made a fine catch in center field on the other.

Fortunately, he inherited a 5-run lead and gave up only one run.

Ortiz went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, including a 2-run homer off the pole in right. Jason Varitek added two hits, including a two-run double.

Another encouraging sign was the contributions of the new additions: Mark Loretta had an RBI double and scored a run, Coco Crisp scored two runs and showed impressive speed on the bases and in the field, and Mike Lowell hit a home run.

Tim Wakefield gets the ball tomorrow, against former Philadelphia Phillie Vicente Padilla. Padilla, incidentally, was acquired by the Phillies when they traded Schilling to Arizona in 2000.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Some strategy

Once again I find myself in disagreement with the conclusions of the Washington Post.

As he takes to the road to salvage his presidency, Bush is letting down his guard and playing up his anti-intellectual, regular-guy image. Where he spent last year in rehearsed forums with select supporters, these days he is more frequently throwing aside the script and opening himself to questions from audiences that are not prescreened. These sessions have put a sometimes playful, sometimes awkward side back on display after years of trying to keep it under control to appear more presidential.

Call it the let-Bush-be-Bush strategy. The result is a looser president, less serious at times, even at times when humor might seem out of place. Aides used to dread such settings, worried about gaffes or the way Bush might come across in spontaneous exchanges. But with his poll numbers somewhere south of the border, they concluded that Bush handles back-and-forth better than he once did -- and that they have little left to lose.

"It shows the range of his personality, the humor," said White House counselor Dan Bartlett.
Trouble is, it also often shows him as fumbling and slow to come up with solid answers, apparently struggling to stick to his talking points. And his inappropriate use of humor and casual attitude about serious issues show him as, at best, out of touch and, at worst, inhumane.

I see this as less of a strategy and more of a surrender. "What the fuck? What we've been doing obviously isn't working. We're at 33 percent. How much worse can it get?" seems more likely to me than, "I know, let's take this guy who can't think on his feet and mangles sentences and expose him to unscreened questions from an unscreened audience at the exact moment that his approval ratings are at their lowest."

I mean, do you really think exchanges like this are helping Bush?