Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005: The Year of the Blog

Well, it's the end of the year. And while I spend my days pondering the
ramifications of my enormous (and typical) Christmas debt, I thought I'd
take a break and give a quick look at my first full year of blogging.

January: This month saw the first shots fired in Bush's war on Social
Security, as well as fights over the Gonzalez and Rice nominations. But my
favorite post from that month was prompted by a discussion I'd had at dailykos with a teacher and the deleterious
effects of No Child Left Behind.

February: As the battle to save Social Security continues I first note one
of the other major attack on the middle class safety net:, the new bankruptcy legislation, which, as predicted, is currently
making life even more difficult for people whose only wrong-doing was sheer
bad luck. Those most in the news are the survivors of hurricane Katrina who
are only now beginning to feel the pinch of this Credit Card company backed
legislation. However, those most likely to feel its bite (including you and
I) are those whose families have suffered a medical mishap.

March: This month came in like a lion with the very ugly Terry Schiavo
debacle stealing headlines from the height of the Soc Sec wars. More
importantly though, this is when I first publish my magnum opus on oil and the economy. Why I've yet to hear from the Nobel Prize
people is anybody's guess.

April: Big news month here with the death of John Paul II and the first
stirrings of the Abramoff, Delay et al. corruption scandal breaking. The
biggest move though is your CaliBlogger's move to a site and his
series of posts on boomers: Mortality and the whiniest generation, Boomers and healthcare, and Death and the whiniest generation, part 2. What? Not
a peep from the Pulitzer people either?

May: Deep Throat is finally revealed to a general reaction of: who's that? With the exception of former Nixon henchmen who were decrypted to lather on about what a great guy Tricky Dick was and how Mark Felt betrayed the Preznit's God given right to break any damn laws he pleases, we were at war damnit (sound familiar?)! Meanwhile the wingnuts suffered another pantytwist when an Amnesty International head called the US prisons in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo an "American Gulag". And given the recent revelations about black-op prisons scattered around the globe, the Gulag Archipelago reference has turned out to be all too true.

June: The final episode of Star Wars opens to a collective sigh of thank God that's over. More significantly your CaliBlogger his vision for an Iraqi withdrawal. Still no word from the Nobel Peace Prize people.

July: Bombs explode in London and Cairo (and Iraq of course, but then when don't they?). Your CaliBlogger posts twice urging Bush's impeachment in one month (double my usual number), and once outlining the Bush Doctrine

August: Your CaliBlogger celebrates his birthday. Oh yeah, and a hurricane levels a great American city. "Heckuva job Brownie" becomes destined to be stupid quote of the year.

September: The leaves turn color, kids return to school and Republican corruption charges begin to pile up like rush hour on the San Diego Freeway.

October: Tom Delay's woes continue and Scooter Libby is the first to be indicted in the Plamegate affair. But jillian has the call on the week's true scandal.

November: Randy "Duke" Cunningham's habit of wrapping himself isn't enough from being burned by federal bribery charges. Most amazing though, we witness the sudden growth of Spinus Democraticus.

December: All the Who's in Whoville are devastated when the secular "War on Christmas" is finally won.

Other stuff happened too.

Happy, healthy New Year to all!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Jack Abramoff

Remember this name: Jack Abramoff

Who is Jack Abramoff? From Wikipedia:

Jack A. Abramoff (born February 28, 1958) is a conservative American attorney and lobbyist.

Abramoff is a central figure in a series of high-profile political scandals linked mainly, but not exclusively, to Republican Party officials. He is under investigation:

* By federal grand juries for his involvement in the Abramoff-Reed Indian Gambling Scandal,[1].
* By a grand jury in Guam over a separate matter.
* He has also been indicted on August 11, 2005, by a third grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for bank fraud arising out of an unrelated business deal.

He is also linked to a scandal involving a troubled multibillion-dollar Homeland Security contract.[2] Further, he made multiple payments to Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, and at least one other think tank expert to write opinion pieces favorable to his clients.[3]

The investigations and indictments of Abramoff have taken on significant national importance because of the lobbyist's close political connections with leading national Republicans. Congressman Tom DeLay, former Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, years ago called Abramoff one of his “closest and dearest friends.” Recent media reports indicate that Abramoff may be nearing a plea deal which would require Abramoff to disclose his complete knowledge of Congressional corruption.[4]

In January Casino Jack is due to stand trial in a fraud case to which his partner has already pled guilty. And the question is, will he start naming names in an effort to cut a deal with the Feds? This very possibility has the Republican establishment in Washington and elswhere dreaming of leg-irons rather than sugar-plums this Christmas season, for Abramoff's ties to the Republican are long and deep and none too squeaky-clean. According to Bullmoose blogger (and former John McCain advisor) Marshall Whitman:
The Abramoff corruption scheme was wide and deep. As we are learning, it touched upon every precinct in the Republican nation - from Members of Congress - to their staff - to the entire conservative political infrastructure. Old Jack may have even had his tentacles inside the White House.

According to press reports
, Jack may soon start spilling the beans, and it will become clear that the GOP is swamped by the culture of corruption. That is why Republican operatives are beginning to spread the message that Democrats were also the beneficiaries of Abramoff largesse. The righteous right will be playing the moral equivalence card.

No doubt some Democrats benefitted from Abramoff-directed donations. But, they only received a small pittance compared to the manifold riches that Jack showered on the GOP establishment. Take it from the Moose. He saw firsthand how Abramoff and the gang insinuated themselves into the conservative infrastructure in the mid-nineties. He was there to witness the presentations at the Wednesday Norquist meetings on behalf of the Marianas sweatshops.

Since the GOP seized power in '94, the rules of the road in the GOP were to give overwhelmingly to Republicans. A small contribution to a Democrat was allowed here and there. Casino Jack played by those rules and that is why he was the good buddy of Tommy D[elay] and the leadership. And the conservative movement was awash in Jack's generosity.

Mr. Abramoff may well become the poster-boy for the culture of corruption rampant within the erstwhile law and order ranks of the GOP. As demonstrated by Preznit Bush himself and his disdain for anti-domestic spying laws, the GOP no longer believes the rule of law applies to itself. In the 2006 mid-term elections we have an opportunity to show that honest Americans believe otherwise.

Friday, December 16, 2005

RIP West Wing's Leo McGarry

John Spencer 1946-2005

I was saddened when his character had a heart attack, but this?
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Veteran character actor John Spencer, Emmy-winning star of NBC television drama "The West Wing," died on Friday at a Los Angeles hospital after suffering a heart attack, his spokesman said.

Spencer, 58, portrayed vice presidential candidate Leo McGarry on the widely watched series that portrays the inner workings of a fictional White House.

The McGarry character earned Spencer an Emmy, American television's highest honor, for best supporting actor in a drama in 2002. The show also earned Emmys for best TV drama and Screen Actors Guild awards for ensemble acting.

An agnostic's prayers go out for his family and friends.

[UPDATE: MSNBC has a good article including quotes from some of his cast mates]

Thursday, December 15, 2005

One for the good guys

You may recall my post from a few days ago about Ford pandering to the bigots at AFA.

Well good news, Ford has seen the light.

To wit:

1. Ford announced that it will continue to support gay organizations and gay events in the coming year and beyond.

2. Ford is going to run advertisements in the gay media NOT ONLY promoting the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, but the ads will promote ALL of Fords brands, by name, including Jaguar and Land Rover.

3. Ford states unequivocally that it will continue to tailor its ads for the specific audience it is trying to reach, and then goes one step further. Ford challenges us to keep an eye out on their upcoming ads in order to verify that they will in fact be tailored.

And, as I encouraged you to voice your displeasure in my previous post, it only seems fair to encourage you to express your sincere thanks here.

Congrats to John Aravosis at AmericaBlog who led the blogosphere charge on this one.

As he points out, this win also shows the very thin veneer of support for groups like the AFA: the AFA has been shown to have no clothes (other than a very rusty chastity belt).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A holiday for the rest of us

Now that secular humanists have finally turned the corner in the War on Christmas, what are the rest of us to do with all the leftover eggnog?

Yep, what we need is a holiday for the rest of us.

We need.....


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Have you driven a Ford lately?

Well, frankly, neither have I.

But rather than improve their crappy cars, the geniuses at Ford have come up with a better idea to shore up lagging sales: cater to wingnut bigots. From John Aravosis' Americablog:

"Ford Motor Co.'s decision to cease advertising in gay publications for its Jaguar and Land Rover luxury brands is part of a truce between the auto maker and the American Family Assn. (AFA) Ford has agreed not to sponsor any future gay and lesbian events." - Wards Auto, 12/7/05

"When asked if the advertising was being discontinued because of the threatened AFA boycott, [Ford Spokesman Mike] Moran said, 'Ceasing advertising is an outgrowth of those meetings.'" - Metro Weekly, 12/8/05

"They are acting on our concerns." - AFA Chairman Donald Wildman, NYT, 12/5/06

John provides some useful information if you'd like to contact various Ford bigwigs and flacks to express how happy you are that an American flagship company is caving in to the most hateful ideologues on the right.

If you'd like to work more along "think globally, act locally lines, here are links to Ford dealerships in Pasadena and LA. I'm sure they'd enjoy hearing from you.

Major Win in the Secularist War on Christmas

And you thought it would never come to this. From The Onion:

Activist Judge Cancels Christmas

WASHINGTON, DC—In a sudden and unexpected blow to the Americans working to protect the holiday, liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt ruled the private celebration of Christmas unconstitutional Monday.

"In accordance with my activist agenda to secularize the nation, this court finds Christmas to be unlawful," Judge Reinhardt said. "The celebration of the birth of the philosopher Jesus—be it in the form of gift-giving, the singing of carols, fanciful decorations, or general good cheer and warm feelings amongst families—is in violation of the First Amendment principles upon which this great nation was founded."

In addition to forbidding the celebration of Christmas in any form, Judge Reinhardt has made it illegal to say "Merry Christmas." Instead, he has ruled that Americans must say "Happy Holidays" or "Vacaciones Felices" if they wish to extend good tidings.

And a comment I overheard at the last gathering of the liberal, secularist, pro-science, illegal immigrant hugging, gay agenda promotional committee to destroy the values of the majority of God-fearing, white, Christian-Americans: "BWAHAHAHAHAHA"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Shameless, shameful

I've been light in my blogging lately due to a number of "real life" (ugh!) circumstances, all of which are still ongoing.

But I simply can not let today's news pass without comment.

If you can hark back to mid-November we heard this news:

Washington -- House Republicans, after weeks of negotiations, narrowly passed a budget bill early Friday to cut $50 billion from Medicaid, food stamps, student loans and other programs over the complaints of Democrats that Congress is squeezing students, the elderly and the poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

The House approved the bill 217-215, after GOP leaders agreed to demands from moderate Republicans to jettison a measure to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and to slightly reduce proposed cuts to food stamps.

Still, the vote was so politically sensitive that House leaders didn't begin debate until 10 p.m. Thursday and didn't pass the measure until nearly 2 a.m. -- when most news reporters gone and only a few C-SPAN junkies could witness the fiery floor action. No Democrats voted for the bill, and 14 Republicans opposed it.

Gosh, a bill that takes food and healthcare away from poor children, why would that be "politically sensitive"? IFacing the massive budget deficits wrought by the disastrous war in Iraq, and the just plain disaster of hurricane Katrina, surely everyone, even poor, hungry children, needs to do their part, right?

Apparently, not quite everyone:
The House today passed a $56 billion tax cut bill that extends for two years a reduction in tax rates for capital gains and dividend income.

Nice, cut spending for poor children by $50 billion in November, then in December give $56 billion to the rich in December. That's a heckuva Thanksgiving kick in the crotch treat for the poor, and really one heckuva holiday Christmas gift to the rich.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Another reason to hate Ann Coulter

Like you needed another reason:

MSNBC picks up on Ann Coulter's pathetically infantile attack on BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger Lydia Cornell by naming Coulter in their "Worst Person in the World" segment Friday. She receives this dubious honor for "posting the personal phone number and email of a blogger who was critical of her" and for otherwise referring to to groups who disagree with her as "Nazi block watchers."
[Blogger Lydia]Cornell and her family continue to receive harassment and threats via her personal email and phone number which Coulter supplied to her millions of her uncompassionate attack dog sycophants who (predictably) refuse to condemn Coulter's indefensable lapse of simple "netiquette" and common decency.

Calls and emails fron Ann Coulter fans. Eeek!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Victory Milestones in Iraq

In yesterday's speech, President Bush was a little slim on setting specific milestones that would delineate the road to victory in Iraq.

Personally I believe that Bush is selling himself short, displaying the soft-spoken modesty so characteristic of Texans, even ones with MBAs from Yale and summer homes in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Let's take a look at some real Iraqi progress.

Politics dominated by conservative religious groups? Check

Rampant government corruption? Check, check

Propaganda posing as real news? Check, check, check

Yep, just what I thought, the Iraqis are definitely on the road to American style democracy. Doesn't it make you proud?