Well, he’s probed the rest of us

Once again, a gem courtesy of Fark… an actual headline from the AP that needs no further comment:

Intelligence Probe Would Be Risky for Bush

Meanwhile, it seems that the president has reluctantly gone ahead and agreed to an investigation into the vaunted WMD claims.

By joining the effort to create the commission rather than allowing Congress to develop its framework on its own, Bush will likely have more leverage to keep the focus on the CIA and other intelligence organizations rather than on the White House. Democrats have asserted that Bush exaggerated the intelligence on Iraq to justify going war, a theory that was boosted by recent allegations from former Treasury secretary Paul H. O’Neill that Bush had been contemplating the ouster of Hussein long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Politically, the decision to back an independent probe contains substantial risks for Bush. It means the White House will have to surrender some control over the timing of the investigation, raising the possibility that such a panel could release information about the intelligence failures before the Nov. 2 elections.

Part of me is elated at seeing evidence that the Bush juggernaut is starting to lose its steam; but the realistic part of me is quite sure that no matter what happens, this administration will find a way to spin it or get around it.

Republican TV

CBS rejected the Reagan movie; rejected the Move On.org anti-Bush ad…
I think Lisa deMoraes said it best:

This year, the four-hour orgy of consumption known as the Super Bowl is being brought to you by CBS, which can only mean that the Republican National Committee did not object.

Equal rights… equal punishment

The Kansas Appeals Court has ruled that it’s OK to give different sentences to two offenders who committed sex with a minor. The difference between the two? One was with the opposite sex, one with the same sex. From the ACLU:

The two-to-one decision from the Kansas Court of Appeals today upholds the state’s “Romeo and Juliet” law, which gives much lighter sentences to heterosexual teenagers who have sex with younger teens, but specifically excludes gay teenagers. In its decision, the Court gave three explanations for sentencing gays so much more severely: that doing so will reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, that doing so encourages “traditional sexual mores,” and that doing so promotes procreation and marriage.

“The Court’s reasons for approving this law are absurd,” said Tamara Lange, Limon’s attorney from the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “All young people should be entitled to protection from sexually transmitted diseases, and punishing gay kids more harshly ‘protects’ no one. The Supreme Court made it very clear that ‘traditional sexual mores’ are no longer a legitimate rationale for discriminating against gay people. To suggest that the state should give straight men a lighter sentence to encourage them to marry the 14- and 15-year-old girls they impregnate and support the children that result from their crimes is incomprehensible.”

Matthew Limon is currently serving 17 years in prison, instead of the 13 to 15 months he would have faced if he were heterosexual. The Kansas law makes sexual relations with a minor a lesser crime if both people are teens, but it only applies to opposite-sex relations. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated Limon’s conviction and instructed the Kansas Court of Appeals to give it further consideration in light of the historic ruling on sexual intimacy in Lawrence v. Texas. The “Romeo and Juliet” law, like the overturned Texas sodomy law, treats the sexual conduct of lesbian and gay people differently.

There’s background to this case here. It points out some facts I didn’t know, such as that Limon has “mild mental retardation” and this event happened at a residential school for the developmentally disabled.

Had this been an adult male having sex with an underage male, then I’d definitely be in favor of equalizing the sentences… but in the other direction. I think both the same sex and opposite sex offenders should serve 17 years in prison. Why is the opposite sex offender getting off so easy (pun intended)?

Another interesting disparity: in Germany, the horrifying story of a gay man who killed another willing man and ate him has come to an end with a court conviction of manslaughter and a sentence of 8 years! I can’t decide if our courts are too harsh, or if the German courts aren’t harsh enough. Matthew Limon should have killed and snacked on the guy, his sentence would have been less than half.

Shift the blame, of course

So, President Bush is now saying that he, like us, wants to find out what all the hubbub was about weapons of mass destruction. Quite a turnaround, eh? Well, he knows which way the wind is blowing.
Dammit, I could have predicted this: use WMD as a pretext to invade a country, insist that they’ll be found, and then finally pretend that it’s not your fault, you were misled by faulty intelligence–then blame it all on the intelligence community, yet refuse to open an investigation into those intelligence failures.
This administration has been seemingly more secretive than any that came before. They don’t want anyone to know what they’re up to, of course. No investigation into intelligence on WMD. Refuse to hand over supeonaed papers on energy policy. Won’t allow the September 11 commission to extend it’s work nor see White House papers.
The Bush administration is pretty awful as it is. I just wonder how much we’re going to find out in a few decades when people start to delve into the secrets… assuming there’s not a shredding party when he leaves office.

Hints for the bored

Need to find something to do? Here’s what’s on my agenda tonight: shopping!
You see, a week or so ago, I took a bunch of clothes over to the local shelter. I asked what sorts of things they could use, and they said, with no hesitation, “hats and gloves.”
I recently sold my Titanium Powerbook to a friend of mine, and she sent me a check this week as a partial payment. I realized that I had already paid off the Powerbook, and decided to follow her teachings and I’ll be spending that check tonight on as many gloves and hats as I can get at Target.
Woo hoo!
I feel like a slightly humanitarian personal shopper.
What are you going to do this weekend for people without homes or heat?

[Update: You know, here it is, January. And there are no gloves or hats to be found at Target, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or Burlington Coat Factory. WTF? Any ideas where else I could try?]
[Update again: Lands End people are awfully nice. I had $100 to spend, so I got 7 pairs of some nice warm Polartec Aircore gloves. They should be here in a few days, and I’ll run them over to the shelter. I think I may buy some more stuff from Lands End (even if they didn’t send some freebies for the shelter). ]

The traffic pissing contest

I know I’ve complained about this before, but…
I’m watching a program on Discovery Times channel about traffic problems. They open with the story of a California cop who drives 50 miles to work each morning. The trip takes an hour and a half.
I drive only 15 miles each morning, from Arlington, Virginia to Silver Spring, Maryland. That trip takes me 45 minutes, and that’s if I leave the house at 9:20am after the bulk of the traffic is clear (and allows me to use a time-restricted direct route–if I drive to work before 9:30am, I must take congested roads through the center of Washington, DC or go 10 miles out of my way to the congested Beltway. But I digress…)
If he goes 50 miles in 90 minutes, that’s an average of 33mph. My commute averages out to 20mph. Which sounds worse to you? And again, let me reiterate: I commute to work late and leave the office early to avoid the heavy traffic. When I must drive to the office during regular hours, the time nearly doubles. I end up going 15 miles in an hour and 15 minutes, putting my MPH at around 12. There are plenty of people here in the DC area who have it far worse than me.
My ex lives in Stockton, California and commutes twice a week to his office in San Francisco, about 65 miles. He says it sometimes takes about 3 hours. That’s an average of 21mph — at least he’s in the same ballpark as me and knows how I feel.
So I just don’t feel for these people they use as examples in traffic documentaries. I wish I could have the (relatively) rapid commute they do.

Hearing things

Ever since I moved into my new office, I’ve been driven to distraction by the phone habits of the person in the next office. Not a co-worker, but someone who works in the company next to us on this floor. Through the flimsy drywall, I can hear his muffled phone conversations because he always uses a speaker phone. The most annoying and distracting part of this is when he makes the calls — he dials with the speaker phone, and whoever he calls doesn’t seem to have voice mail. I just hear the dial tone (on and off, because it doesn’t seem like he quite realizes how to dial the phone) and then the steady drone of the ring over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and …
A few minutes ago, after listening to this for about 5 minutes straight, I had to leave my office and close the door for a little peace.
And then I realized I could still hear it, out there in the hallway.
I think that tonight I will buy myself a boom box and crank it up here in my office to spare what is left of my final tenuous grasp on sanity. Or, I’ll get some kind of microphone so that I can record it and share the experience with the world.

Department of Recordland Security

When did the Recording Industry Association of America become empowered as a police force? Did I miss a memo?

The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) has launched a new campaign against DJs in an attempt to control copyright infringement.

They have already confiscated $100,000’s worth of mix CDs from independent record stores across the US.

I have a vision in my head of a sudden raid on a record store, with jack-booted guys in long black dusters, sweeping in and showing their RIAA business cards.
I hope that other trade associations don’t get the same idea. Imagine, soon we could all have visits from the Color Marketing Group busting into our homes, demanding that we replace that beige couch with a teal and gray model more consistent with the 2004 color forecast.

Fox is getting lower

You know, every time Fox debuts a new reality program, I insist that it’s a new low in the genre and that they couldn’t possibly go any lower.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Critics may roll their eyes at Fox television’s upcoming dwarf-dating contest “The Littlest Groom,” but the head of the advocacy group Little People of America says the show could end up giving his members a boost.

While some audiences may snicker at the spectacle of a dozen dwarf women competing with average-sized females for the affections of a 4-foot-5-inch bachelor, LPA president Matt Roloff said the Fox show may benefit people of short stature by depicting them as regular folks “just being themselves.”

Does the LPA really think that the “Littlest Groom” will be treated with anything even remotely recognized as respect? His height is part of the title of the show. He won’t be treated like “regular folks.”

The party of fiscal responsibility

From the AP:

WASHINGTON – President Bush’s new budget projects the Medicare overhaul he just signed will be one-third more costly than estimated and this year’s federal deficit will surge past a half trillion dollars for the first time, administration and congressional officials said Thursday.

The White House will estimate the cost of creating prescription drug benefits and revamping the mammoth health care program for the elderly and disabled at $534 billion for the decade that ends in 2013, the officials said. The number will be in the 2005 budget Bush proposes Monday.

While muscling the Medicare package through Congress in November, Bush and Republican leaders won pivotal votes by reassuring conservatives that the cost over that period would track the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of $395 billion. The measure passed both chambers narrowly, giving the president one of his top legislative triumphs since taking office.

The new figures represent the first time the White House has released its projections of the bill’s costs. They could deepen an election-year wedge between the White House and conservative Republicans upset over spending and budget deficits that they say have grown too high on Bush’s watch.

The numbers raise questions about whether administration officials revealed everything they knew before the vote on Medicare, some conservatives complained privately. Bush signed the bill Dec. 8.

What bothers me even more than the nation’s highest ever deficit is not that it comes only 2 years after the nation’s highest ever surplus. No, it’s that the increases in spending for prescription drugs and other items mean that Bush is shoveling all this tax money as fast as he can into the coffers of major drug companies. Isn’t it telling that his prescription drug plan uses our taxes to pay for drugs, and yet no one ever demanded that the drug companies lower their inflated prices? Think about it carefully and logically. Cut taxes on the wealthiest people, then put in place tax credits and subsidies so that poor Americans buy their drugs, thus funneling tax money to those wealthy people.

What drug is he on now?

Ah, fresh Rush Limbaugh idiocy with a healthy dose of hypocrisy … ‘cos there’s certainly not enough of that. Via DCRTV:

On Tuesday, Rush Limbaugh said that George W. Bush didn’t go to Vietnam and kill civilians like Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry did. Whoa. That’s a mighty low blow from a talk radio guy who managed to avoid the Vietnam war draft. Oh, it seems that Rush was relying on an article from a website that confused Massachusetts Senator John Kerry with Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, who has admitted to being involved in US atrocities during that conflict…..

Leave it to the right wing to suddenly flip and claim that NOT serving in the military, like Bush, is an asset.

The fox and the henhouse

From the Washington Post:

President Bush yesterday sharpened his disagreement with Democratic presidential candidates over how to curb health care costs and help the 43 million Americans who lack insurance, saying the solutions lie in the private sector, not in expanded public programs.

…Bush asked lawmakers to create tax credits to help people buy health insurance if they cannot obtain coverage through their jobs.

Yeah, because they’ve done so well up until know. And like with the prescription drug plan, he never asks the corporations to lower their prices. He just allows them to gouge with high prices, then provides tax credits to people in order to pay those high prices, keeping the health care industries riding high on enormous profits and lackluster service.

When, I wonder, are people going to rise up and see the obvious: George Bush works for high-powered corporations, not for the American people. He so much as says it every time he opens his mouth.