Saturday, May 29, 2004

Weekend update

Remember that Utah State Legislature that decided not to run after soliciting sex from an undercover cop for $40? Well now he is resigning his seat as well.

Rebecca Walsh of the Salt Lake Tribune reports that "On April 12, Bird pleaded guilty and was placed on probation for a year and ordered to go through the city's 'Johns Program.'

"Friday, Bird said he would leave his legislative seat as soon as he clears up some health insurance issues.

"'I'm trying to write something up now,' he said. 'It's not coming easy. I brought a lot of grief to my wife, my family and the party. I just made a big mistake. I sure feel bad about it.'"

The John's Program lets those who solicit prostitutes to clear their records by attending a 10-week course of therapy classes aimed at diverting "Johns" from soliciting again. If Bird completes the program, his class B misdemeanor citation -- which means he would have gotten a max of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine -- will be cleared in a year.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Check, Check, 1, 2, 3, check

No, this post is not about roadies, it is about my friend Dave K, who is working for a government contractor down in New Mexico. I just got a call from people doing a background check on Dave and if you knew him, the questions would be hillarious.

This guy is the most law-abiding nice guy I have ever met, who is still fun to be around and not self-righteous (unlike our previous postee). They ask me if he lives within his means (is a dealer), if he does drugs, is noisy (desides video games or watching Top Gun?), if he has friends with foreign nationals, if he has traveled outside of the country, etc.

Anyway, the lady had a nice southern twang and it went pretty fast (I mostly answered "not to my knowledge" or "no" when I wasn't gushing about Dave). You can't joke around with those people, they really don't get it. How cool would it be to have a friend with access to classified stuff, even if he will never talk about any of it?
Righteousness 0, Hypocrisy 1

Utah state Representative Calvin Bird (R-Springfield) (above) is dropping his re-election bid after his arrest for soliciting a decoy prostitute. The mea culpa? "I should have known better than to pull over and talk to the lady." Talk, right, that's it. Wait there's more "No improprieties happened, but the offers were there. It was really dumb." Paging Capt. Obvious.

According to the Deseret Morning News, "Bird, 56, was driving in the area of 1899 S. State at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 when he pulled over and attempted to solicit sex from an undercover Salt Lake City police officer posing as a prostitute, according to police and court documents."

His primary (and only) challenger Aaron Tilton had an even better oh-so-Utahn response. "You are kidding me," Tilton said Thursday night when he stopped knocking on doors to take a cell phone call with the news. "Oh, my heck. Wow."

I wonder what Bird's wife Linda and the 6 children or the 3 grandchildren think of all this.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Nickname alert!

Instead of saying "the Kerry camp" or "Kerry's advisors" I am going to refer to them as "Circle K."

Man, whatever happened to that convience store? Did they get swallowed up by Apu's expansion plans?

This just in from Captain Obvious

CBS News reports that a Kerry/McCain ticket would crush a Bush/Cheney ticket 53% to 39% (just Kerry by himself against Bush is 49-41) according to their poll. The chattering class of Washington reporters say two things to this: 1) McCain's ego is too big to be second fiddle; and 2) Even if he would, party regulars would balk at a pro-life running mate.

While there may be some truth to Number 1 (which is why The Third Avenue recommends tapping the Arizona Senator for Secretary of Defense) Number 2 is far off base. Democrats are so desperate to win that they will have just about anyone on the ticket to defeat Bush, and McCain these days is acting more like a moderate Democrat than even the moderate Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, not exactly known for her moderation on Abortion is quoted as saying "There are pro-Life Democrats in the House" i.e. what's the big deal, as long as a Kerry administration wouldn't reverse Roe v Wade.

More and more high up Democrats (Joe Biden types) are infatuated with the idea of a "unity government" by inviting moderate Republicans into the cabinet like John McCain and Chuck Hagel to some how end the era of extreme partisanship that started when Slick Willie came to town. Maybe they watch too much British parliament on C-SPAN late a night (I know I do..."Will the right honorable gentleman from Hampshire concede that he is a bloody moron?" "Hear, Hear!" [great stuff]), or maybe they are onto something.

Aren't we all tired of this Witch Hunt? Washington really does have the feel of Salem, Massachusetts these days. But instead of being discovered as a Witch it is as a moderate or conciliator with the other party or just the other party (when it comes to the GOP schemes like "the K street project"). This is part of the reason why I left. It gets to be too exhausting and if it weren't real, would be laughable.

The rest of the country doesn't think like this. They are ready for real change and don't want to be spun any more. If Kerry can trick McCain into joining the ticket, Bush should start getting out the boxes and order the U-haul in advance.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Will you please sign for this package? Posted by Hello
Who's kidding who[m]?

The London Guardian (the equivalent to the New York Times if the [London] Times were compared to the Wall Street Journal) has just started a series of articles analyzing whether Iraqi National Congress head Ahmad Chalabi was Persian spy, essentially conning the US government into getting rid of its biggest enemy: Saddam Hussein.

Ex-US intelligence folks are on CNN and in the articles saying this has all the tell-tell signs of a intelligence operation: befriending heads of state and gaining influence (Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, hard-right members of Congress) and giving them bad intell that would lead them towards deposing Saddam.

The thing is though, Chalabi was pretty open about his friendliness to the Iranian government and intell services, and maybe he was our back channel to their information. Then again, everyone in the intell business knew he was telling us crap, that's why the CIA stopped listening to him since the late-nineties. Ex-Ambassador Joe Wilson proved Chalabi's uranium story was bogus too, but instead of coming to grips with this, the administration simply exposed Wilson's wife to threaten the rest of the intelligence community from coming forward with more stories.

All of this leads one to the conclusion that the Bush administration wanted to be misled into war, they wanted to find evidence, no matter how flimsy, that connected Saddam to an active weapons program, and better still, September 11th. The whole thing is a willing deception, maybe all the way to the top, or to con the top (AKA the President).

In short, the US wasn't conned, the American people were conned, the US soldiers dying in Iraq who think they are avenging 9/11 are being conned, but you, dear reader, wasn't conned. Now we just need to convince the press and the American people, who are about to be duped again. T

his time, we can't let the Bush administration pass the buck by pretending that they didn't know anything about Chalabi and were conned.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Lies, damn lies, and statistics

I don't know about you, but during the Constitutional Convention I heard the argument ad nausium about how Scandinavian countries marriage rates were iron-clad proof that gay marriage delegitimizes heterosexual marriage so much that "the institution itself is practically extinct" Religious conservatives sent us flyers, booklets, even DVDs on the matter.

Now, UMASS-Amherst Professor M.V. Lee Badgett finally wrote an article for Slate that sets the record straight (no pun intended). After looking at the study Stanley Kurtz and his ilk site, Professor Badgett sums it up in this 'graph:

"No matter how you slice the demographic data, rates of nonmarital births and cohabitation do not increase as a result of the passage of laws that give same-sex partners the right to registered partnership. To put it simply: Giving gay couples rights does not inexplicably cause heterosexuals to flee marriage, as Kurtz would have us believe. Looking at the long-term statistical trends, it seems clear that the changes in heterosexuals' marriage and parenting decisions would have occurred anyway, even in the absence of gay marriage."

America, Badgett points out, "already wrestles with the social tensions that Kurtz claims have occurred as a result of gay marriage in Scandinavia: deepening divisions over gay issues in churches [see the American Episcopal Church], the increasing acceptance of lesbian and gay relationships in the media [see Queer Eye for the Straight Guy], and the occasional radical voice arguing for the abolition of marriage. Yet heterosexual couples keep getting married—more than 2 million of them every year."

Despite emails my boss has gotten that claim this week's dreary weather is a direct result of gay marriages (if so, why did God wait a week to curse the Bay State), I don't think social and religious conservatives "Chicken Little approach" to fighting gay marriage is going to work.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Training wheels

Last week, Bush told Hill GOPers that the US is going to have to "take the training wheels off" of Iraq and let them govern themselves. This comment (about the only thing of substance he said to his fellow Republicans, according to reports) is pretty condescending thing to say for the cradle of civilization, as Josh Marshall points out. Kerry quipped that maybe the training wheels had already fallen off.

All learning-how-to-ride-a-bicycle-equipment-metaphors aside, tonight's speech by President Bush is critical to stopping the slide of bad news as power transfer dateline looms before us. Maybe Bush will do more than tell us, "the entity to which we are handing power over to" but I doubt it. My first clue: The networks don't think so either, which is why none of them are covering the speech live, only CNN/Fox News/MSNBC.

Now maybe it is because this is the first of 6 speeches, or maybe because it is more of the same rhetoric minus reality. There is a nice piece on Richard Pearle's sweetheart deals in this morning's Post. TIME has a great piece on the master con artist Ahmad Chalabi, who convinced Cheney et al to invade Iraq based on his bogus intel and then give Chalabi over $300M of US tax dollars to have his own private army and possible future government. Turns out, Chalabi sold secrets to the Taliban-lite Mullah's of Iran and is now in jail in Iraq.

So much for the flowers and chocolates welcoming Chalabi predicted to US troops, or the large stockpiles of WMDs, or the gushing oil revenues that would make the reconstruction pay for itself.

Did you know that until the handover, the US is a member of OPEC? Why the hell are gas prices so high, if we are a voting member of the oil cartel? Is it because Bush and fellow oilmen prefer "stability" (ie ever higher prices) over uncertainty? Or do I not understand how the US can participate in OPEC meetings as the representative of Iraq. Someone please explain it to me.