Friday, January 26, 2007

Say it ain't so

I know Duh-bya cozied up to Schill after the '04 Series during the runup to the presidential election, but I was hoping maybe Curt snapped out of it since then, like so many other Republicans.

Curt Schilling seemed surprised yesterday by the sudden groundswell of local supporters hoping to draft him into national politics and a 2008 Senate run against John Kerry.

The Red Sox pitching hero didn’t flatly rule out the idea, either, though he didn’t sound like he was about to hit the campaign trail anytime soon.

“I couldn’t rule it out because it’s not something I ever thought about in a serious capacity,” Schilling told the Herald.
Could it be that Duh-bya has poisoned the well so much that the GOP is having trouble recruiting real candidates?

I wouldn't read too much into inane talk radio chatter. Still, stick to pitching, Schill. If you want to hitch your wagon to a losing organization, request a trade to Tampa.

Thursday, January 18, 2007



A group of Methodist ministers from across the nation launched an online petition drive Thursday urging Southern Methodist University to stop trying to land George W. Bush's presidential library.

The petition, on a newly created Web site,, says that "as United Methodists, we believe that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate."

"Methodists have a long history of social conscience, so questions about the conduct of this president are very concerning," said one of the petition's organizers, the Rev. Andrew J. Weaver of New York, who graduated from SMU's Perkins School of Theology.
Add these petitioners to protesting faculty,
We count ourselves among those who would regret to see SMU enshrine attitudes and actions widely deemed as ethically egregious: degradation of habeas corpus, outright denial of global warming, flagrant disregard for international treaties, alienation of long-term U.S. allies, environmental predation, shameful disrespect for gay persons and their rights, a pre-emptive war based on false and misleading premises, and a host of other erosions of respect for the global human community and for this good Earth on which our flourishing depends.

The letter concludes, “[T]hese violations are antithetical to the teaching, scholarship, and ethical thinking that best represents Southern Methodist University.”
and you have quite a few people who don't want to be associated with George Bush, who want nothing to do with this "president's" library.

It's a good thing they're planning a legacy-polishing centerpiece for this white elephant, wherever it ends up.

All the nic that fits

I'm shocked, shocked.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say they have confirmed a study by the state that found nicotine levels in cigarettes increased from 1997 until 2005.

The analysis, based on data submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health by cigarette manufacturers, found that increases in smoke nicotine yield per cigarette averaged 1.6 percent each year, for a total of about 11 percent over a seven-year period.

"Cigarettes are finely tuned drug delivery devices, designed to perpetuate a tobacco pandemic," said Howard Koh, an associate dean for public health practice who worked on the analysis. "Yet precise information about these products remains shrouded in secrecy, hidden from the public."

The health department study released last October examined nicotine levels in more than 100 brands over a six-year period. The study showed a steady climb in the amount of nicotine delivered to the lungs of smokers.

Gregory Connolly, head of the Tobacco Control Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health, said the increase found in Harvard's study is due primarily to an increase in nicotine in the raw tobacco used in the cigarettes.

"There's something going on either with the type of tobacco they're using or the addition of more nicotine to the reconstituted tobacco. We just don't know," Connolly said.

He also said the findings call into question whether the tobacco industry is living up to its 1998 agreement with states that it would launch a campaign to reduce smoking by young people.

"If that same industry turns around and advances the availability of nicotine in the product, you may not get fewer kids smoking," he said.
Just in case there's any confusion: Tobacco companies want people to smoke, and want them to smoke a lot.

Forget all that bullshit about encouraging people to quit and discouraging teens from smoking. If people don't smoke, tobacco companies go out of business. If Philip Morris wanted to be out of the tobacco business, it would get out of the tobacco business. But it isn't out of the tobacco business, so it has a very large financial stake in getting people smoking and keeping them smoking. An effective way to do that would be to, I don't know, maybe increase the amount of nicotine in each cigarette, making that jones that much harder to ignore.

Philip Morris wants people to stop smoking like Oscar Mayer wants people to stop eating hot dogs. The company does PR bullshit like putting quitting tips on its Web site for the same reason it does everything else — to maximize profits. If it weren't for all those expensive lawsuits and the need to help shareholders not feel like they're making money on the suffering of others (which, of course, they are), PM would be handing out free samples on every street corner and every schoolyard, just like any other drug dealer interested in making money.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Authority granted

Imagine, they think they can decide who has authority over them and their activities.

The Justice Department, easing a Bush administration policy, said Wednesday it has decided to give an independent body authority to monitor the government's controversial domestic spying program.

In a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said this authority has been given to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and that it already has approved one request for monitoring the communications of a person believed to be linked to al-Qaida or an associated terror group.
You know who else gave the court that authority? Congress, when it passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. So the Justice Department granted the court an authority it has had for nearly 30 years.

Last week, I wrote a letter giving police the authority to arrest me if I was caught robbing a bank. Someone throw me a fucking parade.

Click here for more of my thoughts about the Bush administration's domestic spying program.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I'm through with you

I don't listen when George Bush speaks anymore.

First of all, he was never my president because I don't believe he ever was actually elected. Still, I used to watch the SOTU, stop flipping when I came upon the rare press conference, pay attention when he came up on the news. I like staying informed about what's going on, even consider it a matter of duty as a citizen to have some idea what my government is up to. But I came to the conclusion long ago that Bush lies every time he's in front of a microphone.

At first, I still looked in when he was on TV, just for the entertainment value. After all, you're never more than a moment away from a memorable flub in which Bush inadvertently says something unbelievably stupid. But that gets old, while the frustration that accompanies listening to someone you KNOW is lying to you is fresh every time it happens.

So I had to ignore my natural tendencies in order to skip his troop-escalation speech (the fact that we already knew what he was going to say after weeks of reports designed to mute the public reaction made it easier) and his 60 Minutes appearance.

But this just re-affirms my position.

It’s all a game of chicken with Iran, you see, to show the U.S. is not overcommitted, that we’re still the baddest ass superpower on the block. There’s no talk in the story of anything resembling military strategy; it’s the traditional show of force to get the bad guy to back off (with the emphasis on "show") -- and to "soften up" the American public for war with Iran.

Let’s get this straight: President Bush lied just five days ago when he told the American public the troop escalation was devised to help secure a chaotic country and protect its civilians.
Of course, that won't be much consolation when Bush starts the next world war.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Study: Guns in fact DO kill people

Guns are dangerous? Who'da thunk it?

American states where more people own guns have higher murder rates, including murders of children, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported on Thursday.

"Our findings suggest that in the United States, household firearms may be an important source of guns used to kill children, women and men, both on the street and in their homes," said Matthew Miller, assistant professor of health policy and injury prevention, who led the study.

His team used data from a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of 200,000 people in all 50 states.

After dividing the states into four groups based on how many households had guns, the researchers found the states in the highest quartile of firearm ownership had overall homicide rates 60 percent higher than states in the lowest quartile.

In states with the most guns, firearm homicide rates were 114 percent higher, the researchers reported in the February issue of Social Science and Medicine.
In support of its claim that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," the NRA is expected to release a study concluding that states with more people have higher murder rates, and to call on Congress to enact stronger people-control legislation. The threat the American people pose to the American people must be confronted. It's time to get tough: Commit a crime with a person, go to jail.

War unlimited

But this is not, repeat, NOT a draft.

The Pentagon has abandoned its limit on the time a citizen-soldier can be required to serve on active duty, officials said Thursday, a major change that reflects an Army stretched thin by longer-than-expected combat in Iraq.

The day after President Bush announced his plan for a deeper U.S. military commitment in Iraq, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters the change in reserve policy would have been made anyway because active-duty troops already were getting too little time between their combat tours.

Until now, the Pentagon's policy on the Guard or Reserve was that members' cumulative time on active duty for the Iraq or Afghan wars could not exceed 24 months. That cumulative limit is now lifted; the remaining limit is on the length of any single mobilization, which may not exceed 24 consecutive months, Pace said.

In other words, a citizen-soldier could be mobilized for a 24-month stretch in Iraq or Afghanistan, then demobilized and allowed to return to civilian life, only to be mobilized a second time for as much as an additional 24 months. In practice, Pace said, the Pentagon intends to limit all future mobilizations to 12 months.
But just in case we get bogged down in a war without an exit strategy...

No hurry

I was going to post this earlier, but you know how it is.

After 10 years of research on a project that was supposed to take only five years, a Canadian industrial psychologist found in a giant study that not only is procrastination on the rise, it makes people poorer, fatter and unhappier.

Something has to be done about it, sooner rather than later, University of Calgary professor Piers Steel concludes.
I wouldn't hold my breath, professor.

Monday, January 08, 2007

That smell

I bet it's the stinkin' Yankees.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Short version: A blogger, Spocko, shares hate speech at San Francisco radio station KSFO with the station's advertisers. Some advertisers pull their ads, so lawyers from the station's parent company, a little outfit called The Walt Disney Company, got involved, and this happened.
But Tuesday, Spocko's Internet service provider, 1&1 Internet, pulled the plug on the blog–a move prompted by a Dec. 22 cease-and-desist letter from ABC Radio claiming that material on Spocko's Brain violated Disney's copyright.
Firedoglake has a more detailed summary of the situation.

A fun, useful thing to do on a lazy Sunday morning (before the playoff games start) would be to link to mp3s of the hate speech in question.

Have a nice day.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A healthy bottom line

Think Progress offers a look at the shitty results of our massive spending on healthcare. Among the lowlights:
health spending per person was at least 24 percent higher than that of Luxembourg (the second highest spending country) and over 90 percent higher than countries considered global competitors.

Americans on average die at a younger age compared to the average age of death of comparable nations. Japan has the highest life expectancy.

The U.S. infant mortality rate is 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, while Japan and Sweden have rates below 3.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.
But, on the plus side, Aetna reported that it made $476 million from July to September of 2006, and nearly $1.3 billion for the first nine months of 2006. And that's while the company was shedding customers.
Aetna's full-service health care plans had 15.38 million members, up about 730,000 from a year earlier but down about 24,000 from the second quarter.
The company cut its 2006 forecast for membership growth to about 650,000, down from the 700,000-750,000 it had projected in July. That July forecast had been reduced from Aetna's previous expectation of 900,000 to 1 million new members.
That's very little bang, and a whole lotta bucks.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Abizaid out

No need to hang around until March, general. You punched your ticket when you voiced your opposition to Bush's plans for a troop surge in Iraq.

Bush is expected to nominate Admiral William J. Fallon to replace Abizaid.

From ABC News:

Fallon, who is in the Navy, is currently head of Pacific Command; he will be overseeing two ground wars, so the appointment is highly unusual.
How exactly is it unusual for Bush to appoint someone who shares his ideology but lacks relevant experience?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year to all.

No, Justice

John Roberts realizes that he's free to resign if he can't manage to eke out a living on $212,100 per year, right?

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. devoted his annual year-end report on the state of the nation's courts to just one issue, albeit one he said has "now reached the level of a constitutional crisis and threatens to undermine the strength and independence of the federal judiciary."

He continued: "I am talking about the failure to raise judicial pay."


Congress has not acted on judicial pay for 2007, so for now salaries remain at their 2006 levels. That means Roberts will continue to be paid $212,100 a year, with associate Supreme Court justices at $203,000, appeals court judges at $175,100 and federal district judges at $165,200.

That's far more than the average American worker makes, but Roberts argued that while worker wages have increased nearly 18 percent in real terms since 1969, federal judicial pay has declined nearly 24 percent. And he said that while federal judges in 1969 made more money than the deans at the nation's top law schools, they now make only about half what deans and top law professors make.

"We do not even talk about comparisons with the practicing bar anymore," Roberts added parenthetically. Supreme Court clerks are routinely given a signing bonus equivalent to a justice's annual salary when they join one of Washington's top law firms after a year at the court, and Roberts pointed out that beginning lawyers often make as much as the experienced federal judges before whom they practice.
If that's how you feel, Mr. Chief Justice, why don't you step down? Why do you keep a job that pays you so much less than you think you deserve? Could it be the unparalleled job security? The unparalleled health coverage? The prestige? The notoriety? The power? What is it that could make men like John Roberts and Antonin Scalia practically give away their services in a slum like the United States Supreme Court?

How comforting it is to know that decisions that affect all Americans are being made by men who are so far adrift from reality.