Saturday, January 27, 2007

State of the Union

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The State of the Union address has gotten to be like the Oscars for me: I tell myself not to watch it. It'll just make me nuts, plus it'll keep me up too late.

But when the time rolls around, there I am, eyes glued to the screen, muttering darkly at each new atrocity that unfolds before me. This time, however, I had my trusty laptop open in front of me. That way, instead of cursing and throwing things at the TV, I could take out my aggression in a healthier and more productive way.

Anyway, my thoughts on the State of the Union address, logged as it happened:

* "Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States!" The president comes in, everyone stands and applauds until he's introduced again by the speaker, at which point everyone stands and applauds again, as if they'd totally forgotten who he was.

* Dubbya begins by offering a spirit of bipartisanship to the people his party has been demonizing as traitors for the past six years. He claims he's proud to introduce a female speaker after saying that "terrorists win and America loses" if she and her party won. This proves Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a better person than I am. If anyone else had tried that hypocritical sucking-up to me after six years of calling me a terrorist sympathizer, I'd have dumped my water pitcher on his head.

* President Bush announces that balancing the federal budget is suddenly a priority, after not submitting a balanced budget or vetoing a spending bill for the past six years.

* Bush on "earmarks" in the budget: "You did not vote them into law. I did not sign them into law. Yet they are treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice." Apparently, Dubbya has just discovered earmarks now that the Democrats are in control of Congress. How convenient. But I'll agree with him on this. Things that weren't voted for but that have the force of law are bad. Let's get rid of them. And while you're at it, why don't you end the signing statements where you say you don't have to obey any congressional enactment you don't agree with? No one voted them into law either.

* "For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs." Spoken like a man who hasn't had to deal with an insurance company in his entire privileged life. Bush and most of the people in the room have great health insurance through the guvmint. Sorry, though. The rabble can't have it.

* "For too long, our nation has been dependent on foreign oil." Which is a real problem now that we've ticked off every oil-producing country in the world. Left out of the speech: "I know I've mentioned energy independence a lot before, but this time, I'm talking about reducing consumption by actual numbers, so you can believe me this time. Really. We just have to figure out a way to do it when Mr. Halliburton sitting behind me isn't looking." Well, at least mentioning ethanol made the Iowa delegation happy.

* Bush refers to "the serious challenge of global climate change." A challenge which he's been denying even existed.

* "We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean." None of these terrorists, we might add, came from Iraq. Looks like we're fighting them over there AND over here. So much for that talking point.

* On sectarian violence in Iraq: "This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in." We're in it, Mr. President, because we didn't plan for it. Or, more accurately, you didn't plan for it.

* "Iraq's leaders know that our commitment is not open-ended." Like it was before the election.

* "And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure." But that's what we got, thanks to the total chuckleheadedness of you, your vice president, and your secretary of defense, who thought we'd walk in, kick Saddam out, then the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Kurds would all join hands and sing "God Bless America" followed by "Kum Bah Yah," after which we'd just pack up and go home to rest up for the invasion of Iran.

On the whole, though, it was a more conciliatory and reasonable speech than we've come to expect from The Decider. But this new reasonable Bush never fails to remind me of a line voiced by the character of The Misfit in Flannery O'Connor's short story, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find": "She would of been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

Bush might have been a better president if he'd been facing a Congress who'd hold him accountable every day of his life.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Safe and Sound: The Cover

So...whaddya think?

How We Just KNOW the Iraq 'Surge' Will Work

Because the Decider Says It Has To:

In an interview, Pelosi also said she was puzzled by what she considered the president's minimalist explanation for his confidence in the new surge of 21,500 U.S. troops that he has presented as the crux of a new 'way forward' for U.S. forces in Iraq.

'He's tried this two times — it's failed twice,' the California Democrat said. 'I asked him at the White House, 'Mr. President, why do you think this time it's going to work?' And he said, 'Because I told them it had to.' '

Asked if the president had elaborated, she added that he simply said, ' 'I told them that they had to.' That was the end of it. That's the way it is.

Oh, well then. Guess that settles everything. I feel MUCH better now.

Is there anyone who can get within a hundred yards of this idiot with the courage to convey to him the old adage: HOPE IS NOT A PLAN?

"I told them that they had to?" Jesus Christ. This is Hitler-in-the-Bunker level delusion. Next he'll be ordering non-existing units to deploy.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

They Have Rehab For That?

Grey's' Anatomy Star is in treatment :
Normally, I couldn't care less about what goes on on the set of Grey's Anatomy, I show I don't watch and probably never will. The recent kerfluffle over Isaiah Washington calling T.R. Knight a "faggot" barely registered on my radar. Or maybe the problem is he used the word "faggot" in denying he ever called Knight a faggot. I'm really not sure, because, as I said, I really haven't cared about a pissing match between two overpaid hack TV actors.

But now something has happened that just redlined my bullshit meter. According to the Associated Press, Washington is "in therapy for his use of an anti-gay slur against a castmate." He released this statement:

"'With the support of my family and friends, I have begun counseling. I regard this as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again,' Washington said in a statement Wednesday. 'I appreciate the fact that I have been given this opportunity and I remain committed to transforming my negative actions into positive results, personally and professionally

Hey, Isaiah? I have your test results back. They say you're not sick, you're just an asshole. You don't need therapy, you just need to stop acting like an asshole. Hope this helps. You'll get my bill in the mail.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More Trouble for D.A. In Duke Lacrosse Case RALEIGH, N.C. - The state bar has added ethics charges to a complaint filed against the prosecutor who brought sexual assault charges against three Duke lacrosse players, accusing him of withholding DNA evidence and misleading the court.

The new charges by the North Carolina State Bar against Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong were announced Wednesday and could lead to his removal from the state bar, according to a copy of the updated complaint.

Nifong’s office arranged for a private lab to conduct DNA testing as part of the investigation into allegations three men raped a 28-year-old woman hired to perform as a stripper at a party thrown by the lacrosse team last March.

Those tests uncovered genetic material from several men on the woman’s underwear and body, but none from any lacrosse player. The bar complaint alleges those results weren’t released to defense lawyers in a timely fashion and that Nifong repeatedly said in court he had turned over all evidence that would potentially benefit the defense.

Nifong’s actions constitute a “systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion ... prejudicial to the administration of justice,” the complaint read.

If he actually did withhold exculpatory evidence, I hope he does get disbarred. The rules are very clear:

A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate; the prosecutor's duty is to seek justice, not merely to convict. This responsibility carries with it specific obligations to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice and that guilt is decided upon the basis of sufficient evidence.

Commentary to NC State Bar, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.8, "Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor."

Rule 3.8 itself says:

The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:


(d) after reasonably diligent inquiry, make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information required to be disclosed by applicable law, rules of procedure, or court opinions including all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal.

These are not "technicalities". The people grant extraordinary amounts of power to a prosecutor. If that power gets abused to up the D.A.'s conviction rate or make them look good during an election, then fry their ass.

It's just a pity this sort of abuse only gets noticed when the Defendants are rich white kids.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Moving Tribute to Barbara Seranella

It's a measure of the esteem in which the late Barbara Seranella was held by the mystery community that dozens of tributes to her have gone up on the 'net and in print since the news of her death was released. Denise Hamilton has written one you should definitely read.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Andy Griffith, Terrorist Enabler

Who'da thunk it?

R.I.P. Barbara Seranella

Barbara Seranella, 50, bestselling mystery author and resident of Laguna Beach and PGA West in La Quinta, died peacefully on January 21, 2007, at 4:15 p.m. EST (1:15 p.m. PST) at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband Ron Seranella and her brother Dr. Larry Shore at her side. Barbara, who died of end-stage liver disease while awaiting a liver transplant, leaves behind her husband Ron, brothers Larry Shore of San Francisco and David Shore of Woodacre, parents Nate and Margie Shore of La Quinta, and stepdaughters Carrie Seranella and Shannon Howard.

Private funeral arrangements are being made by the family. A celebration of Barbara's life is being planned for February; details will be announced later.

Barbara was a class act. I first met her at Bouchercon in Chicago. Even when clearly still weary from the aftereffects of her first two liver transplants, she was unfailingly gracious, generous with time and advice, and funny as hell. I'll never forget her passing out onions with tags that said, "you can have the onions, but I'm keeping the liver." That's Richard Pryor funny, if you know what I mean.

She was also a hell of a writer. Her Munch Mancini books featured a tough female lead, a former drug addict fighting her way back to life with wit and courage. I devoured each one. She was one of those people whose work made me want to be a better writer.

Damn it. This SUCKS.

Well, Maybe the Kid That Got Punched Was a Gangsta

Shop bans Jay, the two-year-old 'hoodie':

A two-year-old boy was told to take down his hood in a corner shop because of a ban on “hoodies”.

Jay Cowper was wrapped up against the cold in a brown jacket with a furry hood when he went into the shop with his grandfather.

His grandmother Brenda, 54, said: “No sooner had they got inside than the shopkeeper said to my husband, Could you ask the little boy to remove his hood?' My husband said, He's only two-and-a- half, I don't think he's going to rob you'. I don't think he could believe it, and my husband refused to take it down as a matter of principle.”

After the incident, at the Monkton Road Stores in York, Mr Cowper had to drive to another shop with his grandson to buy the cigarettes he had gone out for.

Mrs Cowper said: “I can understand their point because a lot of kids cause trouble down there, but when it's a two-year-old it's a bit pathetic and I think most people would just think it's laughable.”

Non-Viable Strategies For Living III

Man Accused Of Punching Baby:

A 25-year-old man in Mims, Fla., is accused of beating a baby and another young child with his closed fists and threatening to sexually molest the wives of the officers arresting him, according to Local 6 News partner Florida Today.

Darrel Ray Kessinger, of 13 Evergreen Place, was arrested late Saturday and charged with burglary with battery, child abuse, resisting an officer, corruption by threat and resisting without violence, reports show.

Police reports show the incident began about 1:48 a.m. Saturday when Kessinger got involved with an altercation with another man.Witnesses told deputies that Kessinger turned and struck a 3-year-old child and a nine-month-old baby -- with closed fists, Florida Today reported. A woman put the children in a white Ford Tempo and attempted to leave when Kessinger ran after toward the vehicle, reports show.Deputies said he punched out one of the car windows, causing both children to receive glass cuts, and tried to drag the woman out of the vehicle before she rode off.Deputies arrived and chased Kessinger, reports show. Kessinger fought back, threatening the deputies and asking where they lived so he could go to their homes and sexually molest their wives, reports show.

Kessinger was handcuffed and taken to the Brevard County Jail Complex. He remains at the Brevard County Jail Complex without bond, officials said.

What can I say, other than "what an asshole."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bush To America: I Just Don't Care

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In a TV fundraiser after Hurricane Katrina, rapper Kanye West stunned America when he blurted out that "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Well, don't feel alone, black people. If there's anything we've learned from Dubbya's recent announcements of troop escalation and his statements in the wake of the backlash against it, it's that George Bush doesn't care about much of anybody, at least when it comes to what they have to say.

He doesn't care about what his generals say. Remember when the talking point was, "If our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them"? Well, that "let the professionals decide" principle has apparently been jettisoned.

As recently as this past November, Gen. John Abizaid had this to say to Sen, John McCain: "Senator McCain, I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the core commander, General Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is because we want the Iraqis to do more."

Well, sorry, General. Enjoy retirement. President Bush no longer cares what you have to say.

He doesn't care what congressmen and senators in his own party say.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine expressed skepticism early on. "My conclusion was that it would be a mistake to send more troops to Baghdad," she said. "I think the sectarian violence there requires a political, not a military, solution."

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska was even more blunt: "I'm absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly." Even the ultra-right wing Sam Brownback of Kansas said he didn't think sending more troops to Baghdad was a solution.

Which, of course, raises the question: What sort of nasty nickname will the dwindling membership of the right wing Bush cult (mostly radio and TV talkers) try to hang on the Republicans who oppose Bush now? Democrats get dubbed "Defeatocrats," but there doesn't seem to be an epithet for Republicans suffering a sudden attack of sanity. "Cut-and-Runnicans" just doesn't trip off the tongue.

It goes without saying that Bush doesn't care what Democrats say, despite their majority status.

In fact, his preferred method of addressing Democratic suggestions about what to do about the Iraq mess is apparently to pretend they were never made. Last week in a "60 Minutes" interview, Dubbya repeated that the Democrats had "no plan" of their own.

Oh, really, Mr. President? Does the name "John Murtha" strike a familiar note? Back when you were still saying "stay the course," Murtha proposed a plan to redeploy U.S. troops out of harm's way, create a quick-reaction force and establish an over-the-horizon presence of Marines, and finally, to diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq. Surely you remember that.

Democrat Joe Biden also proposed a five-point plan to establish separate Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish areas under a central government, share oil revenues among the factions, create a jobs program in Iraq to get people back to work (working people are too tired at the end of the day to riot) and create a nonaggression pact in the region.

Now, you may not like these plans. You may have critiques of them. But if you say that there are no "Democratic plans," then, Mr. President, you are either shockingly ill-informed, outright lying, or deeply delusional. I don't know which is worse.

And speaking of plans, there was a bipartisan commission that spent an awful lot of time and taxpayer money coming up with a plan. It was known as the Iraq Study Group, and a lot of folks pinned their hopes for a solution on them. They came out with a report that advocated a drawdown of troops. Bush didn't care about that, either.

Finally, Bush doesn't care what the American people think.

A CNN Poll from Jan. 11 revealed that 69 percent of Americans polled "disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq," 67 percent oppose the war in Iraq, 50 percent strongly oppose the addition of 20,000 or more troops, 66 percent strongly or moderately oppose the so-called "surge," and 66 percent of individuals polled thought that sending more troops would either make no difference in the achievement of U.S. "goals" or make the U.S. less likely to achieve them.

A Gallup poll taken after Bush's speech revealed that 61 percent of the American people not only don't back sending more troops, but also support a congressional resolution to block it.

But hey, we're only the American people. The rabble. Who cares what we think?

Certainly not King George.