Is this a great country, or what?


Supreme Court to Hear Ex – Playmate’s Case – New York Times:

Dressed in all black, former stripper turned weight-loss promoter Anna Nicole Smith fought her way through a throng of photographers and autograph-seekers Tuesday on her way to a Supreme Court showdown in her bid to inherit her late husband’s fortune.

A stripper gets her day in court over a complex probate issue that will challenge the Supreme Court’s intellectual limits, straining it if you will. A dead grizzled old tax “protester” worth $1.6 billion. A son seeking to deny his voluptuous, then fat, now the next Suzanne Sommers step-mother her claim to $800 million for some pretty gross personal work. You don’t get this kind of stuff in Canada.

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Is Bush responsible for anything he does?

Bush Unaware of Ports Deal Before Approval – Yahoo! News:

President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.

In principle, I don’t have a problem with the ports deal if it was concluded legally. If we exclude companies because of their nationality, we’re getting to the kind of nationalist/racial fearfulness that this country has stood against internationally.

However, that the administration will turn around the day after President Bush defended the deal and say “he didn’t know about the deal,” compels me to point out that the President is where the buck stops and this is another example of the Bushies trying to have things both ways. If President Bush is going to make a politically unpopular deal—and defend it—he should also be taking responsibility for it.

I know, this is a country where, when the Vice President shoots someone in the fact and chest, that person apologizes to the Vice President.

Just when is this administration going to take responsibility for its actions? Hell, they won’t even stand up for their principles without hedging.

If, as reported elsewhere, the Saudi ports deal was concluded without the mandatory 45-day investigation of the companies involved, then the deal is illegal. I don’t suppose the President will be responsible for that, either.

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More irony from the Gang that couldn’t shoot straight – Cheney accidentally shoots fellow hunter – Feb 12, 2006:

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

Seriously, it is really hard to accidentally shoot someone in the face and chest. Vice President Cheney’s time-off is ironically reflective of the way he manages the country.

At least Senator Kerry hit the birds he shot at…. Maybe if Cheney had actually served in the military he’d be more careful with the lives of our soldiers.

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Trade Gap hits another record – U.S. Trade Gap for 2005 Widens Sharply to Record:

The U.S. trade deficit worsened slightly in December, capping off a year that saw the shortfall rise nearly 18% to a record $725.76 billion. Deficits with China, Europe and a host of other markets reached all-time highs.

Want to address the real challenge of our generation? How about investing in the people to bring the intelligence and creativity that raised the U.S. to the pinnacle of the global economy after the Second World War. Instead of cutting education spending (while saying the opposite in his SOTU speech), President Bush should be diverting every spare dollar into education in order to brace America for ever-increasing economic competition. There’ll be little to protect from terrorists at the rate Mr. Bush is going.

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Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq

Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq:

The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of “cherry-picking” intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Paul R. Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, acknowledges the U.S. intelligence agencies’ mistakes in concluding that Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction. But he said those misjudgments did not drive the administration’s decision to invade.

Man stands up, acknowledges faults and calls bullshit on the Bushies. Watch the right-wing attack. How many times will we have to hear this before its truth actually sinks in? The Bush Administration led us into war under false pretenses, putting our soldiers in harm’s way for political gains. It’s criminal.

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Bush Administration continues deleting reality from the budget

The Vanishing Future – New York Times:

But now it’s 2006, and even a five-year projection covers the period from 2007 to 2011, which means including a year in which making the Bush tax cuts permanent will cost a lot of revenue — $119.7 billion, but who’s counting? Has the administration finally run out of ways to avoid budget reality?

Not quite. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, until this year budget documents contained a standard table titled “Impact of Budget Policy,” which summarized the effects of the administration’s tax and spending proposals on future outlays and revenues. But this year, that table is missing. So you have to do some detective work to figure out what’s really going on.

More hiding reality to pave an irrational dreamscape with tax cuts. If we don’t start looking ten years out again, as we did during the Clinton years, the country will be broke by 2015. We need all the information to make decisions, but the Bush Administration insists that we don’t need real data, just that we trust them.

I don’t trust you, Mr. President. Make sure your people provide me, a citizen, the information you would ask for as a CEO, so I can make a decision about the budget.

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Libby turns in his bosses

Ex-Cheney Aide Testified Leak Was Ordered, Prosecutor Says – New York Times:

I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, told a grand jury that he was authorized by his “superiors” to disclose classified information to reporters about Iraq’s weapons capability in June and July 2003, according to a document filed by a federal prosecutor.

The document shows that Mr. Libby, known as Scooter, was actively engaged in the Bush administration’s public relations effort to rebut complaints that there was little evidence to support the claim that Saddam Hussein possessed or sought weapons of mass destruction, which was used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Okay, shall we all ask loudly: “Why isn’t the Vice President under investigation? Why not the President, who also had a reporting relationship with Libby? He was ordered to attack political foes and support lies to take the country to war.

The Administration has used the identity of a CIA operative as a political bludgeon to silence critics, yet it is beyond the reach of an investigator? That wasn’t the case about a blow-job, why should it be about treason?

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Pardon the interruption, I have a story to tell


I was invited to participate in a Media Center blog imagining the future of the story. Here’s the beginning of my first entry:

I’ve been contemplating the notion of storytelling’s evolution for many years. The questions raised here have to do with modes of telling and listening, as well as of behaving as a storyteller, whether it is an amateur or a professional undertaking, and if the new modalities of telling and listening change the story. That’s all well and good, though I have never really enjoyed stories, like, say, MacBeth, that hadn’t changed, at least in the telling, as when it was translated into Japanese as Throne of Blood or American English as Scotland, Pa. or arrived at the conclusion with a clever twist that kept MacBeth among the living and put his Lady in an asylum, even if it is the same story I’ve heard or seen before.

A story can come out a million different ways, through a billion different tellers, and still be entertaining.

But what I want to talk about is the sense that today the primary way of sharing a story is to interrupt its telling. Of course, the most effective philosophical teaching method devised… [continue reading]

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Over at ZD Net: NSA Eavesdropping: Deep inefficiency

» NSA Eavesdropping: Deep inefficiency | Rational rants |

It’s time for the government to recognize that protecting civil rights is the most efficient way to find real leads. The deliberative process required by the FISA courts, about which the Bush Administration constantly complains, is an effective filter for removing junk leads, not a barrier to capturing terrorists.

Continue reading….

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