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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo is dead

May we never see these cruel people again

Terri Schiavo dies

By Maya Bell
Miami Bureau

March 31, 2005, 9:57 AM EST

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. -- Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo died today, ending an agonizing 15-year odyssey that divided a family and a nation over her right to die. She was 41.

Schiavo took her last breath 13 days after her life-sustaining tube was removed by a court order.

Experts said her story was a lesson for countless Americans who never discussed, much less wrote down, what they would want if they were suddenly thrust into her tragic situation.

"Thanks to Terri, people who have never had that conversation are having it right now," said Kenneth Goodman, a medical ethicist at the University of Miami. "That is her legacy."

There is a God. She didn't die of gangrene or a heart attack or infection, or any of the other miserable ways the bedridden can die. Of course, Jesse Jackson is making an asshole of himself on CNN. He's talking about health care for normal people, which means he just doesn't get how evil his new friends are.

Do these people understand that they wanted to condemn Schaivo to a miserable, painful death? That the parents were so unhinged that they didn't care if she suffered from other diseases as long as she was alive?

Now the circus will go into overdrive. The fundies are singing. Pasty face white folks with no jobs holding a tent revival. Ah, thank you Bill Frist, thank you Tom DeLay. Without your interference, none of this would have become the most important story in America. It would have taken years to expose them. Thanks to your catering to the most deranged elements in US society, we now see them exposed and the GOP tied to them like a chain gang.

One of the wacko priest supporting the Schindlers, said the brother and sister were asked to leave so Michael Schaivo could spend the last minutes alone with his dying wife. He said "his heartless cruelty continued".

What? Heartless what? The Schindlers slandered this man, allowed protesters to haunt his small children, tormented him for eight years and they want to talk about heartless cruelty? They tore into him for years, slandered him and placed his life in danger. There's been plenty of heartless cruelty and it lays at the feet of the Schindler's.

posted by Steve @ 10:12:00 AM

10:12:00 AM

The News Blog home page

MTA to launch lawsuits, approve Jets bid

More like Jets Never

Jets expected to win bid

City officials' battle over bullying


March 30, 2005, 9:23 PM EST

The Jets are expected Thursday to win MTA approval to build a West Side stadium, according to a key authority board member, but the team still faces steep obstacles before its long-awaited home field rises along the Hudson River.

Legal and political challenges stand before the $1.9 billion stadium -- including lawsuits from Cablevision, environmentalists and neighborhood groups.

Cablevision, which owns Madison Square Garden and proposes a residential community on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority site, struck at the last minute yesterday with a letter asking the MTA to disqualify the Jets based on the claim that the team violated a ban on bids contingent on zoning changes.

In response, an MTA spokesman would only say that the letter would be forwarded to board members.

The demand came as the Jets were perched to capture a major victory today. By the estimates of Pataki-appointed MTA board member Barry Feinstein, all or nearly all of the required 14 MTA votes would be cast for the Jets over Cablevision and a Brooklyn gas company.

In recent days, Feinstein and six other board members have voiced their support for the Jets proposal.

"There's been no indication that there's any support for the Garden's bid," Feinstein said.

But stadium backers must also win over officials who hold the power over zoning and funding requirements. Among them are Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan).

Silver, sphinx-like, has carefully refused to state a position; Miller, a mayoral contender, is opposed to the stadium and has called on the MTA to delay today's vote.

Feinstein, who said he backs the stadium, conceded it could take several years before the first kickoff.

"Your children will enjoy going to the opening game -- he said, adding "I'm assuming you don't have any."

Delaying the project may be legal battles against the larger stadium plan that have already begun. There is pending litigation from the Garden and West Side residents alleging the city omitted and mistated facts in rezoning the area.

The fight for the stadium has just begun. The MTA is likely to be sued over this process by Cablevision, the city is likely to be sued for rigging the process, The residents of Hell's Kitchen are likely to file several suits, the City Conucil is likely to withhold funding and be sued. In short, this will kick off at least five years of litigation. The problem for the Jets is that unless Bloomberg is the next mayor, the city will not support the stadium project.

If I was Freddie Ferrer, I would be jumping up and down for joy if the MTA approved the bid, I would be estatic. Why? Because the stadium is poison to Bloomberg. It hurts him with every ethnic group, across income groups and across the city. It is the single largest reason people will vote for anyone else. The fact that this will drag on and the Olympics is likely to go to Paris, is going to define the election. Why? Because the stadium is not the only Olympics related suit. Several sites planned for Olympic venues will also be subject to litigation as well. The IOC would be quite foolish to choose New York as a solo bid. Without using Northern New Jersey as a joint bid, where many of the facilities already exist, litigation will tie up and even cancel needed facilities.

The stadium still faces bitter opposition regardless of the appeal for jobs. I think Al Sharpton's support will cause him more problems than help the Jets. Because people see that money going away from city services and no one makes a case that won't be true. They can argue it, but no one believes it.

I think the stadium is such a negative for Bloomberg that it will become the main issue which defeats him.

posted by Steve @ 9:29:00 AM

9:29:00 AM

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The best they can

ready to discuss physics

Bob Somersby makes one hell of a point about Wonkette

THE BEST THEY CAN DO: For ourselves, we never criticized Wonkette—nor would we have done so—until Tom Brokaw insulted the nation by dragging her onto NBC after the second Bush-Kerry debate (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/6/04). Who is Wonkette? A vacuous figure who peddles a pre-feminist, backlash persona—the smutty vamp with the dirty mouth, the slut who can’t stop talking about booze and sex. There’s a certain kind of man who loves that crap—and yes, the “press corps” is full of them! At any rate, Brokaw dragged her onto the air, and E. J. Dionne dragged her out just last week, with the completely predictable outcome (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/28/05). Adding insult to injury, of course, Brokaw put Cox on the air as a “liberal.” But let’s let Leiby describe her further. Here’s the “liberal spokesman” Brokaw threw on the air to discuss a presidential debate:

LEIBY (9/28/04): Celebrating her 32nd birthday and arrival as a New York Times Sunday mag cover girl, Ana Marie Cox—better known for her dirty-minded Internet persona, Wonkette—had a predictable reaction to the latest article boosting her fame: "I liked the part about me being a bitchy lush," she told us at a party in her honor at a U Street rooftop bar Sunday night. (Also predictably, she was quaffing champagne.)

The piece elevated Cox to goddess status in the blogosphere, detailing her activities—not to be confused with "work," we assure you—at the Democratic and Republican conventions. The cover featured Cox in a white tank top—the better, perhaps, to show off what the article described as her "peachy cream skin"—flanked by old-media campaign scribe Jack Germond and fellow veteran R.W. Apple Jr. ...

Inexplicably, the piece overlooked one key fact: Cox is married. Her husband of 41/2 years—Mr. Wonkette, also known as Chris Lehmann, formerly of The Post and now an editor at New York magazine—called it a "weird detail to omit." But, he said, "the blog is a persona. I think our marriage proves that you can talk slutty and still be a devoted spouse."

Yes, that is the best the Post newsroom can do, a fact we’ve discussed for the past seven years. When will people who do fine policy work accept the unpleasant but obvious truth about this lack of involving ideas—this trait which defines our modern “press corps?”

Now, I don't know how Bob keeps sane, tracking the lies of the Beltway Kool Kids Klub.

But this post points out the one thing I don't get about these folks, Ms. Cox has a husband. So unless she really is a slut, and I think that's not the case, all this leering is seriously pathetic. Maybe it's me, but wedding rings usually kill any erections I get. Dead.

Goddess? At this rate, it's like the line from About Last Night "if she didn't have a pussy, there would be a bounty on her ass." The left bloggers are disgusted with her profound incompetance in public. Me? I know she's not part of our little people's collective and she isn't going to work on the farm. It's all about her. But if I were her, I'd start covering my ass and making friends.

Here's the deal: the drinking slut is an act, and a bad one. At least when Liz Phair did it, you had the feeling she really did have that stray dick in her mouth. With Wonkette, it's all a cheap act, poorly done.


Because the much fired Ms. Cox has made stop after stop from Suck, to Mother Jones to the Chronicle of Higher Education and is in reality as much of a geek as the rest of us, but sees her career clock flashing before her eyes. So she works for Nick Denton and plays at being some kind of drunken slut.

What are the hazards of such a career? She should stop by her husband's job and talk to Amy Sohn, who used to write in incredible detail about her sex life for the NY Press. Well, it came up to bite her in the ass when she found people didn't seperate her column from her. And she found out that if you act like a slut, you get treated like a slut. And oddly enough, she didn't like it.

Or someone doesn't get that it's an act and actually comes on to her, in a serious way. And that's not fun either and I'm not talking about Big Media Matt or some other kid, but a horny old man, the kind which litters Washington.

But what I don't get is how guys are fooled. I think if you took Ana, not Wonkette, to Babes in Toyland, or Good Vibrations, her face would be as red as a Skins jersey. She would stammer and find a way to get the fuck out of there, running. Why? Because it's an act. You think her husband bangs her in the ass? Yeah, right. He'd probably have to walk through Anacostia in a white hood and robe first. She just likes to talk about it. I bet she's never even kissed another woman. Come on, someone who gets married at 27 and then at 32 turns into a drunken slut HAS to be acting. If she was having such great sex at 27, she wouldn't have married, what five years out of school? She just wants you to think she's this wild woman.

In my experience, the women who have interesting sex lives are loathe to let you know it. They don't run around and talk about drinking and assfucking because of the consequences, which is being tagged a slut. And that is the death knell of a reputation.

The whole idea of the dame, which is what that persona is, is not only retro, but somewhat undignified. Because it implies a woman who is, despite her attitude, subservient to men and their desires.

The feminists I know seem to get a lot more from sex than women playing at being dames. Because they can embrace their sexuality honestly and without playing at being what they aren't. If they like assfucking, it's on a need to know basis, not a public declaration.

I wonder if we're just beating up on her because she's famous, sort of. But then I talk to female bloggers and they HATE that image. It's like a slap in the face to them. For the most part, they're serious women who work hard to be well regarded, Wonkette undermines them.

But the reason the poor woman is the subject of such ire is this: if you go out to slay dragons, there better be some dead motherfuckin' dragons at your feet. Don't go pet them on the nose and pat them on the head and play burn the village with them. Not one person has said: "Steve, you're picking on her, you're jealous." They use invective to describe her instead, And not one word of it would see print if she went out once and kicked ass. There wouldn't be 70 fucking people screaming that "she isn't one of us" if she could kick a little ass and not play with the dragons.

posted by Steve @ 12:04:00 AM

12:04:00 AM

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Time to collect

Republicans embarass us. Why didn't they choose the baby hippo instead

Will the GOP need life support?
A prominent conservative blogger says Republican leaders have abandoned the traditional principles of small government and federalism -- and warns they may soon come to regret it.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds

March 31, 2005 | The Terri Schiavo story is a tragedy in the truest sense. It is a case in which there are no happy endings and in which the mighty fall. One thing that has fallen is the notion of the Republican Party as a bastion of federalism and limited government. Some might argue that this notion was already in doubt, in light of the Bush administration's less-than-parsimonious budgeting, but pork is part of politics, and you have to expect a certain amount of give in that department.

Widespread Republican support for legislation taking an individual case away from state judges and placing it in front of the federal judiciary is another thing. The "if it saves just one life, it's worth it" argument has more typically been associated with gun-control activists, and other groups that are generally looked down upon by Republicans, but now many in the GOP seem to have picked it up as a slogan. Indeed, the entire notion of the "rule of law" -- itself once a favored slogan of conservatives -- seems to have fallen into disrepute. Quite a few conservatives are unhappy about that state of affairs, and I wonder if it doesn't presage a realignment within the Republican Party, and the fracturing of some alliances on the right.

Schiavo hysteria certainly has some Republicans in its grip. Bill Bennett wrote that state law doesn't deserve our respect if it conflicts with natural law. Bennett went on to urge Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to risk impeachment by violating the orders of the Florida Supreme Court. Fox News' John Gibson was less measured. "Just to burnish my reputation as a bomb thrower," he wrote last Friday on the Fox News Web site, "I think Jeb Bush should give serious thought to storming the Bastille." In other words, Bush should consider sending police in to remove Schiavo from the hospice and reattach her feeding tube. "The point is, the temple of the law is so sacrosanct that an occasional chief executive cannot flaunt it once in a while, sort of drop his drawers on the courthouse steps and moon the judges, as a way to protest the complete disregard courts and judges have shown here, in this case, for facts outside the law," Gibson wrote.

Judge bashing has been a staple of Republican rhetoric for a while, though the judges being bashed have more often been federal than state judges. And, to be fair, the judges have often been generous in providing ammunition, offering rulings that strain the facts or go beyond settled law, though that doesn't appear to be the case here. In fact, the courts seem to have been very thorough, and hardly liberal activists. (Florida law blogger Matt Conigliaro notes that Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer, the trial judge, is a Republican and a Southern Baptist.) Some people on the right are pointing that out and are appalled at their colleagues' rhetoric. Daniel Henninger wrote in the Wall Street Journal that while Greer has ruled against Terri Schiavo's parents many times, so have Florida's appeals court, the Florida Supreme Court, U.S. federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. "It is difficult for me to believe that these are all 'liberal' judges intent on 'killing' Terri Schiavo," Henninger wrote.

But the judge bashing has gone on, and Congress' rush to pass legislation intervening in the case was unprecedented. This is too much for some conservatives, and quite a few libertarian fellow-travelers such as myself. As Nashville Christian-conservative blogger Bill Hobbs wrote, "I have not written about the Terri Schiavo case because it is too complex, too multi-layered, and too steeped in unknown or unknowable facts for me -- indeed for most people -- to have a fully informed opinion ... I do know that the Congress did the wrong thing, intervened where it had no Constitutional right, and solved nothing."


Some activists -- like Bill Quick -- want to set up a MoveOn-type organization, only with the goal of dragging the Republican Party in a small-government direction. Others are threatening to vote Democratic next time. More, I suspect, will remain Republicans, but less committed ones: less likely to donate, volunteer, or turn out to vote. A Republican Party that was winning elections by landslide margins might not mind that. But I don't think that today's Republican Party has that luxury. The Schiavo legislation looks like that classic political misstep, a move that's dramatic enough to upset people, but not dramatic enough to satisfy the hard core. (Bush is now being savaged by pro-lifers for not doing enough.) In the end, I suspect it would have been better to stick to principle. It usually is.

Instacracker smells civl war.

And so do I.

Well, Glenn, you didn't discourage the Jesus freaks when they were voting your way. You let them blather on about abortion, bash judges and gays and now you sit back horrified?


We told you so. We told you these people were batshit crazy. We told you this would happen, that the devil would want his due. And Satan's got Saddam Hussein and Kenny along for the ride and he wants to collect in spades.

Imagine a large red man with horns standing in a room with Karl Rove:

Karl: But, but we paid you

Satan: Paid me? Motherfucker, you ain't pay shit. The GOP sold me their soul and I am going to collect.

Saddam: That's right bitch. Pay up, piggie.

Devil: Soul, motherfucker. You wanted my deluded minions to elect you. Now, they WILL be paid. Or YOU will pay. Seen Jeff lately?

Rove: But America will think we are crazy

Devil: So? is that MY problem. I think not, Karl, I think not. Like I said, payment is due. Good night, Karl.

Saddam: Pay up bitch.

You guys led the fundies on for years and did you think they would be happy with speeches? A few useless laws on stopping gays. No my friend, they expected you to back word with deed, not excuses. You boys ran around with the cross, made it seem as if you were one, and now, you back down? No, no, no. Not so simple.

They smelled the Okey Doke when Bush forgot to push his fag bashing amendment. Didn't have the votes he said. Didn't seemed concerned. Then, this mess happened. They expected action, not excuses, no excuses.

And while you may be tempted to pay them off with something else, the rest of the GOP is watching in absolute horror. While they liked the votes, they don't like paying for them. Who does? Too bd so many Republicans were so cowardly that they refused to step in and say anything, while Randall Terry and the Schindlers became the face of the GOP.

When bad things happen to bad people, I'd say.

posted by Steve @ 12:02:00 AM

12:02:00 AM

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They go boom

Abrams' heavy armor is up front, however, insurgents sneak up from behind, fire from rooftops above and set off mines below.

Tanks take a beating in Iraq
By Steven Komarow, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military's Abrams tank, designed during the Cold War to withstand the fiercest blows from the best Soviet tanks, is getting knocked out at surprising rates by the low-tech bombs and rocket-propelled grenades of Iraqi insurgents.

In the all-out battles of the 1991 Gulf War, only 18 Abrams tanks were lost and no soldiers in them killed. But since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, with tanks in daily combat against the unexpectedly fierce insurgency, the Army says 80 of the 69-ton behemoths have been damaged so badly they had to be shipped back to the United States.

At least five soldiers have been killed inside the tanks when they hit roadside bombs, according to figures from the Army's Armor Center at Fort Knox, Ky. At least 10 more have died while riding partially exposed from open hatches. (Related story: Tanks adapted for urban fights they once avoided)

The casualties are the lowest in any Army vehicles, despite how often the Abrams is targeted — about 70% of the more than 1,100 tanks used in Iraq have been struck by enemy fire, mostly with minor damage.

Because it was designed to fight other tanks, the Abrams' heavy armor is up front. In Iraq's cities, however, insurgents sneak up from behind, fire from rooftops above and set off mines below.

A favorite tactic: detonating a roadside bomb in hopes of blowing the tread off the tank. The insurgents follow with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and gunfire aimed at the less-armored areas, especially the vulnerable rear engine compartment.

"Be wary of eliminating or reducing ... heavy armor" as the Army modernizes, the officers warn, arguing it is crucial against insurgents' "crude but effective weapons."

The Army says most of the "lost" tank hulls can be rebuilt and returned to battle someday. Meanwhile, the Army is upgrading the Abrams, including better protection for the tank's engine compartment.

But it's not just Abrams.......

Army Vehicle Called Faulty
Transport Deployed in Iraq Puts Troops at Risk, Study Says

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 31, 2005; Page A01

The Army has deployed a new troop transport vehicle in Iraq with many defects, putting troops there at unexpected risk from rocket-propelled grenades and raising questions about the vehicle's development and $11 billion cost, according to a detailed critique in a classified Army study obtained by The Washington Post.

The vehicle is known as the Stryker, and 311 of the lightly armored, wheeled vehicles have been ferrying U.S. soldiers around northern Iraq since October 2003. The Army has been ebullient about the vehicle's success there, with Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, telling the House Armed Services Committee last month that "we're absolutely enthusiastic about what the Stryker has done."

But the Army's Dec. 21 report, drawn from confidential interviews with operators of the vehicle in Iraq in the last quarter of 2004, lists a catalog of complaints about the vehicle, including design flaws, inoperable gear and maintenance problems that are "getting worse not better." Although many soldiers in the field say they like the vehicle, the Army document, titled "Initial Impressions Report -- Operations in Mosul, Iraq," makes clear that the vehicle's military performance has fallen short.

The internal criticism of the vehicle appears likely to fuel new controversy over the Pentagon's decision in 2003 to deploy the Stryker brigade in Iraq just a few months after the end of major combat operations, before the vehicle had been rigorously tested for use across a full spectrum of combat.

The report states, for example, that an armoring shield installed on Stryker vehicles to protect against unanticipated attacks by Iraqi insurgents using low-tech weapons works against half the grenades used to assault it. The shield, installed at a base in Kuwait, is so heavy that tire pressure must be checked three times daily. Nine tires a day are changed after failing, the report says; the Army told The Post the current figure is "11 tire and wheel assemblies daily."

"The additional weight significantly impacts the handling and performance during the rainy season," says the report, which was prepared for the Center for Army Lessons Learned in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. "Mud appeared to cause strain on the engine, the drive shaft and the differentials," none of which was designed to carry the added armor.

Commanders' displays aboard the vehicles are poorly designed and do not work; none of the 100 display units in Iraq are being used because of "design and functionality shortfalls," the report states. The vehicle's computers are too slow and overheat in desert temperatures or freeze up at critical moments, such as "when large units are moving at high speeds simultaneously" and overwhelm its sensors.

The main weapon system, a $157,000 grenade launcher, fails to hit targets when the vehicle is moving, contrary to its design, the report states. Its laser designator, zoom, sensors, stabilizer and rotating speed all need redesign; it does not work at night; and its console display is in black and white although "a typical warning is to watch for a certain color automobile," the report says. Some crews removed part of the launchers because they can swivel dangerously toward the squad leader's position.

posted by Steve @ 12:00:00 AM

12:00:00 AM

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Here we go again

Clowns? Sign me up.

Why are we doing this?

Well, don't you people want to change the country? You don't like the radical right? Well, you're not going to confront them in the street with baseball bats. You have to wage this battle in forums and panels and on TV shows.

Yet some of you wonder why bother.

Because that's where they are. They are in those places and the people who run Brookings need to understand that if they have a panel, they better include us just like they do the right.n This isn't whining or weakness. It is a sign of strength. When Brookings gets e-mails asking why people representing your point of view isn't included, they notice. When they get calls, they really notice. This outsider/cool bullshit is just that. The game is inside. Even the late, sainted Hunter Thompson knew that. He wasn't ranting about being an outsider, he met with presidential candidates.

Being outside the process means that the process can run right over your ass.

This is the way politics is played in Washington and it took us this long to realize it. Sure, we raised a shitload of cash, but that's only one aspect of power. Unless you're seen with the other players, you don't count. No matter how brilliant you are, unless you're on the stage, you don't count. Just because the game is rigged, doesn't mean you don't have play.

Getting It Wrong
March 30

Members of the National Press Club,

In our previous letter, we noted with concern that serious liberal political bloggers are being intentionally excluded from the academic and media dialogue on blogging. We protested your exclusion of serious liberal political bloggers from an upcoming panel on which you have placed the conservative political operative Jeff Gannon, neé Guckert.

This panel portends to discuss the meanings of the words "journalist" and "blogger" and whether the two are different things or one and the same. We note that this topic has once again been raised in light of the Gannon case, although the debate on blogs as journalism has been going on for years here in the so-called "blogosphere." As Gannon is not a blogger, we feel his inclusion means that the panel is largely about Gannon himself and what his specific case means in context of the discussion. We also note, as you must have, that Gannon's presence on the panel will allow him to once again air his side of the story. Who will air the other side?

While we commend your about face by extending an invitation to Matthew Yglesias to sit on this panel, it ignores the larger issue. We think highly of Yglesias' work publicizing the mission of bloggers and don't want to exclude him, or anyone, from the panel, but he was simply not a central player in regards to the Gannon story. A panel on the case of Jeff Gannon, especially one including Gannon himself, should have representation from someone who did heavy lifting there, someone intimately familiar with the process that brought Gannon's identity and his relationship with the White House Press Corps to the public eye. That voice must be a blogger who was a key player in the investigation of Gannon, his role in the media and his background.

Many people at various blogs, including SusanG at Daily Kos, Media Matters, World O Crap, Atrios, and AMERICAblog were at the fore of this investigation. Traditional media ignored the story until bloggers uncovered it. That's why you're having a panel on it. However, not one of the individuals who worked hard on the story was approached with an invitation to speak on the panel. Even outside the context of right versus left, this exclusion raises a serious issue of journalistic imbalance. This was not a careless oversight. The institutional press is giving the investigated his voice while not allowing the investigator to have its say.

Thus, we cannot recommend strongly enough the inclusion of AMERICAblog's John Aravosis on this panel. He has volunteered to be the representative of those who worked on the Gannon investigation.

As we have noted above, you're discussing a story broken by blogosphere yet cutting out the very people who made it a story there. This exclusion is shortsighted and raises questions of journalistic imbalance and ethical malfeasance. Thus, we again must raise our collective voice and insist that John Aravosis sit on the panel.


Sean-Paul Kelley,
Think Progress, Think Progress
Ezra Klein,
Echidne of the snakes,
Amanda Marcotte,
Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher,
Matt Stoller,
Democratic Underground
Lindsay Beyerstein
Shakespeare's Sister, and
Bob Brigham,
Dave Johnson,
Matt Singer,
Kari Chisholm,
Steve Gilliard,
Kevin Drum, Political Animal
Crooks and Liars,
Brian Balta,
That Colored Fella,
Anna Brosovic
skippy the bush kangaroo
David Neiwert Orcinus
Julien 's List
General J.C. Christian,
Laura Rozen,
Liza Sabater,
Chris Patil,
Ralph Dratman,
David (Austin Tx),
Ellen Dana Nagler,
Sean Carroll,
media girl,
Joe Giblin
Stephen Anderson,
-Kevin Hayden, American Street
Elaine Supkis Culture of Life News II
Melanie Mattson Just a Bump in the Beltway
Kenneth Bernstein
James E. Shirk
Dennis Perrin -- Red State Son
Margaret Imber
Read The Otter Side
Kerry Lutz
Kelly B
Wes Flinn, Walk In Brain
Greg Turner,
Dean Lawrence Velvel,
The Purple Coalition
Erik Wilson, The Generik Brand
Clif Burns
Sandra Wooten, Dallas, Texas
Nico Pitney, Center for American Progress
Hughes for America,
Ben Varkentine,
As I Please
Lane Schwark, Dr. Laniac's Laboratory
Jeff Tiedrich, Editor and Publisher, The Smirking Chimp
Ryan Pitts, Dead Parrot's Society
Paperwight, Paperwight's Fair Shot
The Farmer,
Mr. Thomas M. Fiddler, Somerset, KY 42502
Sidsel Anderson,
Boadicea, We are the Resistance
Frederick Rhine, BeatBushBlog
Riggsveda, It's My Country Too!
John J. McKay
Larry Hosek, Silence Is Consent
ice weasel, private blog
James Benjamin, The Left End Of The Dial
Charles Kuffner, Off The Kuff
Chris Bowers, MyDD
Tom Burka, Opinions you Should Have
Bill Scher, Liberal Oasis

posted by Steve @ 11:06:00 PM

11:06:00 PM

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Sue the whipersnappers

Old folks have rights

Supreme Court eases way for age discrimination suits
But case dismissal shows proving harm may still be difficult

From Bill Mears
CNN Washington
Wednesday, March 30, 2005 Posted: 5:08 PM EST (2208 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a victory for older workers, the Supreme Court concluded Wednesday that people over 40 can sue for alleged age discrimination under a less burdensome legal standard of proof.

The justices ruled 5-3 that older workers can sue in federal court over claims of "disparate impact" -- the loss of wages or benefits enjoyed by younger employees. Previously, older workers had to prove their company had "discriminatory intent," a higher legal standard.

Wednesday's ruling means that companies and employers can be held liable for age discrimination even if their policies were not meant to be discriminatory.

The ruling made clear it might still be difficult to win cases of age discrimination, even under the relaxed standard that will apply to bringing such a suit.

The court agreed that 30 police and public safety officers in Jackson, Mississippi, had the right to bring a case alleging disproportionate harm because younger officers were given proportionately higher wages.

Yet the justices dismissed the lawsuit, saying the older workers failed to prove "harmful" discrimination.

"It is clear from the record that the city's plan was based on reasonable factors other than age," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the majority opinion. "We hold that the city's decision to grant a larger raise to lower echelon employees for the purpose of bringing salaries in line with that of surrounding police forces was a decision based on a 'reasonable factor other than age,' that responded to the city's legitimate goal of retaining police officers."

Stevens turns 85 next month and is the court's oldest member.

Briefs filed with the court show that about 75 million people -- almost half of the U.S. work force --

Gilly--WOW, looks like Bush's plan to pimp out the ENTIRE judicial branch just ain't working.

This is a MAJOR legal victory--I still bitterly remember the dotcom days, and how so many older working moms got turned away by buttheads who rode scooters to work....

God, I hate those people. Not hated, hate. Still.

posted by Steve @ 6:38:00 PM

6:38:00 PM

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Get the chickens

You gotta be fucking kidding me

Anger at Bushes as time grows short for Schiavo
By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — A week ago, the demonstrators outside Terri Schiavo's hospice were mostly calm. They prayed, sang hymns and awaited word from protest organizers about legal developments in the case, hoping their presence might help save the brain-damaged woman.

By Sunday, after nine days of legal defeats for Schiavo's parents in their effort to have her feeding tube reattached, much of the optimism was gone. Last week's unity among the demonstrators had splintered, and an undercurrent of anger ran through them.

Their ire was directed at Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, who successfully petitioned the courts to have her feeding tube removed; at state judge George Greer, who has ruled consistently in his favor; and increasingly, at President Bush and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

"If Gov. Bush wants to be the man that his brother is, he needs to step up to the plate like President Bush did when the United Nations told him not to go into Iraq," Randall Terry, a protest organizer, said of the governor. "Be a man. Put politics aside."

Sharon Mull, who drove here from St. Augustine, said she had written three letters to the governor in the past few days. "It seems like he could have intervened more," she said. "At this point, it's getting too late to help this woman. She's being tortured. She's being murdered."

Last Monday, President Bush signed an emergency bill from Congress enabling Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, to have federal courts hear their appeal to restore her feeding tube. Gov. Bush asked state courts for permission to take custody of Schiavo. But the Schindlers have been turned down by every court, and the president and the governor have said they can do no more.

Among the messages on protest signs Sunday: "Barbara Bush: Are you proud of your sons now?" "Stop the American Holocaust!" "Send in the National Guard!"

And that's gone so well, Randall.

This is an American freakshow gone haywire. When Jesse Jackson called the black members of the Florida Legislature to take the Schindler's side, they politely hung up on his ass. Is he that desperate for the spotlight? I guess the answer is yes. Sun Hudson died without a word from Jackson.

They had to stungun a guy who rushed the hospice today.

This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we will be lucky to live through it.

Be a man. What the fuck is he talking about, be a man. This piece of shit who torments pregnant teenagers. Who abandoned his own family. Be a man is advice that he never fucking followed.

You know, freaks usually keep out of sunlight. They work best in the dark, slinking along. But this Schiavo case just blew up into this freakshow, some mad contest to the bottom of the rule of law, with no one able or willing to put the brakes on. Jeb cowering, George prentending he didn't unleash the loonies, Randall Terry acting like a Serbian paramilitary, but with only one rapist by his side. When the fuck did medical decisions become tests of machismo?

And what fanatsy world do these people live in? Jesus isn't going to lead the PSTD ridden Florida National Guard in some kind of kidnappimg. What the fuck do they think this is, Die Hard 5, the fundies strike back? What do they think is going to happen? Sam Jackson and Bruce Willis are going to save the day with a helo and some smoke bombs?

And none of these fuckers seem to consider what would happen if they actually got poor sainted Terri? Well, the odds are they would kill her. Yeah. Kill her dead.

Reality left the room long, long ago. The idea that Terri Schiavo can speak is so bizarre as to be funny, if there weren't people charging the doors of the hospice. When does the gun nut who won't stick up a gun store, just walk in and buy weapons instead show up. I'm surprised that someone hasn't said Jesus told them to shoot the cops and rescue Terri, because things are just that crazy. You can't keep screaming murder and then expect everyone to go "oh well, she's gonna be murdered", like she was a nigger on death row. Someone is going to act. These sick fuckers are even calling in bomb threats.

And when they do, I hope someone tries to sue the Schindler's back in time. They did this, they created this circus, robbed their daughter of dignity, robbed the other dying of dignity, tortured the innocent, placed Michael Schiavo kids in mortal danger, and didn't thank anyone for anything. Hell, they sold the begging list to all comers. They allied with people who consort with terrorists. Remember Paul Hill? Walked right up to a doctor and shotgunned him to death. Guess who he ran with? Terry and Mahoney. In just a little digging, we found out one protestor was a convicted rapist and another was an admitted torturer and anti-muslim bigot. If you did a background check, you'd have more people who had been in the system than a Liberty City street corner.

The thing about a mob is that it is not controllable. Once you unleash them, they can do anything they choose, like riot.

It is amazing what people will do to get what they want. The fact that their daughter was so bulemic that she had a heart attack and died is so obvious and so directly attributable to her control freak mother that they call out the circus to hide this. But while it will diminish, the freak show is far from over. There are the dueling books, the tours on Christian radio and TV, the lawsuits, in short, this mess will linger on, our only hope is that it stays around long enough to bite their sponsors right in the ass.

posted by Steve @ 5:18:00 PM

5:18:00 PM

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Charter schools: no better than public schools

break em up

Charter schools' troubled waters

By Derrick Z. Jackson, Globe Columnist | March 30, 2005

DESPITE promising us a compass, charter schools have hit another shoal. More evidence says they are no better than public schools.

''Proponents of charter schools have a deregulationist view of education that says the marketplace leads to better schools," Lawrence Mishel, president of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, said over the telephone. ''The facts of the matter suggest that this view is without merit."

Mishel and three other university researchers from Columbia and Stanford universities are authors of the forthcoming book ''The Charter School Dust-Up." The researchers reviewed federal data and the results from 19 studies in 11 states and the District of Columbia. They found that charter school students, on the whole, ''have the same or lower scores than other public school students in nearly every demographic category."

In a politically charged environment where the White House and many governors, including Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, are pushing charter schools, the authors found that federal data ''fail to confirm claims that the performance of charter schools improves as these schools accumulate experience." Charter schools four years or older ''report lower scores than new charter schools."

Coauthor Martin Carnoy, an economics and education professor at Stanford, said one of the most telling findings was that low-income African-American students, the group many charter advocates claim to want most to help, showed no improvement. The study found that the test scores of low-income black students in charter schools are lower than in the public schools in both math and reading. That is despite the fact that a lower percentage of black students are low-income in charter schools (68 percent) than in public schools (76 percent).

Also, many charter schools rely on less-experienced, uncertified, and often less-well-paid teachers. In a regular central city school, 75 percent of the teachers have more than five years' experience. In a charter school the percentage is only 34 percent. In public high schools, 70 percent of the math teachers either majored or minored in math in college. In a charter high school, the percentage is 56 percent. ''While freedom from certification rules undoubtedly permit charter schools to hire teachers who are more qualified than typical teachers in regular public schools, the data do not reveal evidence that charter schools, on average, are actually using their freedom to do so," the authors wrote.


.''If you want to talk about real improvements in education, you are probably going to have to talk about vastly expanding early-childhood education and targeted in-school and after-school programs for kids," Mishel said. ''We are probably talking about substantial after-care and a community schools approach that incorporates health, social services, and housing. It's going to take a full-court press . . . to attract quality teachers to stay in schools. It's not going to be one single thing."

It is certainly not going to be -- by themselves -- charter schools.

Public schools which are funded and supported by the community can work.

Only in the US do we so little value our public edcuation system that we want to fragment it and slowly grind it up in the name of saving it.

posted by Steve @ 1:41:00 PM

1:41:00 PM

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Dear Justin

rip his throat out, then get the tourists

Hands Off Jeff Gannon (and don't take that the wrong way)

A group of liberal bloggers has issued an "Open Letter" protesting the inclusion of the infamous Jeff Gannon on a panel at the National Press Club. Now, don't take it on my word that this crowd is a bunch of clueless whiners. Let them demonstrate it to you in their own inimitably whiny words:

"We, the undersigned bloggers, are very concerned about how liberal political bloggers are being systematically under-represented and belittled in the mainstream media, academic settings and media forums. By being intentionally excluded away from these venues, we are effectively pushed out of the discourse of opinion-leaders. The result is that the conventional wisdom about blogging, politics and journalism, as it concerns liberal blogs, becomes a feedback loop framed by the Conservatives and their media allies."

"... we are faced with an entirely new situation that is more insult than misrepresentation. The discredited conservative media operative Jeff Gannon, neé Guckert, has been invited to sit on a panel at the prestigious National Press Club to talk about the scandal surrounding his access to the White House and more generally, the similarities and differences between bloggers and journalists. Guckert's token liberal counterpart will be a gossip blogger and sex comedy blogger. While we have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Graff and Ms. Cox we believe that neither represents bloggers who write about hard-nosed politics. And as for Mr. Guckert, he isn't a blogger, he's barely a journalist, and not a single political blogger involved with the Gannon/Guckert scandal, or otherwise, has been invited to sit on the panel to counter Mr. Guckert's arguments.

"Therefore, we the undersigned bloggers, respectfully but firmly insist that a serious political blogger such as John Aravosis, of be included on the panel to fairly and accurately represent our industry and us. Mr. Aravosis has agreed to our request that he serve on the panel as our representative and is available should such an invite be forthcoming.

"This situation is simply unacceptable. We will push back against the growing bias and sloppiness we see in the mainstream media as it concerns serious political blogging. If we do not we will never achieve any semblance of balance in the media. If we do not, we abdicate our ability to tell our own side of the story. If we do not we leave it to others to define us and defame us. "

A more insufferable prissiness would be hard to imagine. These people really take themselves far too seriously -- and their only problem is that nobody else does.

And why, pray tell, should Gannon have to sit on the same panel with John Aravosis -- because Aravosis is gay? Is that it? Sheesh, talk about oppressive -- do we really have to "balance" out a gay conservative with a gay liberal? Does this mean Ann Coulter has to be "balanced" out by the liberal blonde of their choice? What a sad commentary on the "enlightened" liberals of our era, who think in such petty narrow-minded terms.

Speaking of petty and narrow-minded, the blogger known as "Billmon" posts an outburst of sex-phobic babbling that sounds like Jerry Falwell on hallucinogens:

"What's next? An interactive NPC panel session on masturbation? A guest lecture on bestiality and blogging? A press conference by the North American Man Boy Love Association? No, wait, the House isn't in session this week.

"I hate to sound like a prude here, but this is one of those moments when I start to think the fundamentalist gizmos might just be right."

Look, I'm no Jeff Gannon fan, but Billmon is right: he does sound like a prude. And a hateful one at that. The problem with Gannon isn't that he's "the world's only conservative gay prostitute journalist with a blog" -- and I can guarantee you that isn't true -- it's that Gannon was an administration plant, a shill who reported for a partisan front organization disguised (but not very well) as a "news agency." So Jeff Gannon is a gay conservative -- so what? So is Andrew Sullivan. So am I. So are any number of gay people -- who, I hate to break it to Billmon, are not uniformly Barney Frank liberals. We are everywhere, bud.

As for the prostitute part -- again, so what? At the age of 43, he's charging a thousand bucks a session -- and getting it. The problem with most people, however, is that they can't even give it away. And that, I'll bet, is the case with liberal geeks and policy wonks who signed that

I e-mailed him the letter below, you're free to join in


You know, we have e-mail addresses and you might have used one before embarassing yourself in print. And since research is obviously beyond your capacities, you know like hitting a link, or asking someone what was going on before making yourself look like an asshole in print, let me help you out.

No one cares who Gannon sleeps with. Certainly not John, but I guess you'll get your own e-mail from him.

The first question you should ask, and the journalists at Romanesko asked is this: why is a man who had zero journalism credentials and a blog, which at best, was reprinted White House Press releases, being placed on a panel at the National Press Club? You know, a place for journalists? But we're all prudes, right? Not that five minutes looking at John's archives might have provided a clue as to why we wanted him on the panel.

Maybe to ask him how he made a living beyond his work for Talon News. How he got that job. How he renewed his press pass for two years after a new security regime was in place at the White House. How much did Talon News pay? In fact, how was he hired by Talon News in the first place after working in an auto body shop up until 2002. About his mysterious service record, which can't be found in either DOD or Marine Corps files. There are a lot of questions to ask Mr. Guckert, very few of which have to do with his sex life. And oddly enough, John had done most of that reporting and lives in DC. He's not the only one, but he did a lot of work on the story and has questions.

See, Justin, you jump to a halfassed conclusion because you read something and didn't even extend the courtesy of asking any one of us what was going on. I don't agree with you on many issues, but I would at the minimum ask you via e-mail what was going on if I disagreed with a stand you took.

So what about the prostitution? Ask yourself this simple question: how did he pass the security check? Because in the states he lived in Delaware and the District, prostitution is a crime. And he was not exactly subtle about it. I mean his face was on the ads. I would bet that a woman prostitute advertsing on the internet wouldn't be admitted to the White House, pass a security check, much less ask the President a question in the White House Press Room.

The sex jokes come from the inclusion of Wonkette and a sex blogger, more than Guckert's prostitute ads online. But again, this would have been explained through even a simple e-mail to anyone who signed the letter.

One other point, which has been raised by MSM reporters: why has no one who is actually familiar with the details of Guckert's history being asked to appear to him. For a radical, you seem to have fallen for corporate spin without pause. You think we cared about his tricks? How silly are you? We want to know where he came from and who paid him, and how a male prostitute can get into the white house. Like we would with a female prostitute.

But instead of asking, you resort to invective which makes you look stupid. Why? Because you decided to sneer instead of ask. And that's a nice bit of invective you tossed on in the end, making you seem confident and funny. Why I pissed my pants.

And Justin, here's a bit of information you might want to consider before you toss insults around. The reason we wanted to be included in these panels is simple: they never bother to ask. They include Instapundit and Powerline, while Kos and Atrios have not only more readers than they do, but as much as a major daily newspaper. Surely someone toiling at can understand that issue about not being heard. After all, they keep talking about politics and blogging and forget to invite the liberals. To answer your question: why does there have to be balance? Because when the right goes on alone, they have a history of oh, lying. We'd like to challenge those lies. But of course, if you had e-mailed any of the 70 bloggers on the list, they might have explained this in detail, being liberal geeks and policy wonks and all. But I guess you were too busy running tired leftists and preaching to the choir to even bother with the simple courtesy of asking someone what was going on.

Why bother? We're all prudes and can't get laid.

Do you seriously think John or anyone else would take time from their day to ask Guckert about his well advertised 8 inch cock? I thought you didn't trust the media and there you go, parroting it like Daryn Kagan.

Meanwhile I'll be reading Foriegn Policy and beating off to Cinemax.


posted by Steve @ 1:47:00 AM

1:47:00 AM

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Me, the miniseries

look at me

Remember self-indulgent novelist Ayelet Waldman? Well someone read her Salon piece and decided to write the following:


[NOTE: We were actually just going to take this and replace every instance of the word "husband" with the word "penis," but it seemed a little juvenile. We went this way instead.]

5:30 A.M. Last night I set the alarm clock half an hour early so I could wake up before my husband does and stare at him while he sleeps. One of the kids was crying, but I shut the door. My husand looked so peaceful. Vital and peaceful. I love him.

6:15 A.M. After whipping up an omlette aux fines herbes and squeezing the oranges for his juice, I wake up my husband with the customary morning blowjob. Torrid. From what I can make out through the door, the kids have realized that they're going to have to cook their own breakfast again. I hope they also realize that if they make a mess, they're going to have to clean it up. This mommy business is rough, demanding stuff. The husband finishes his breakfast and takes me from behind.

7:00 A.M. While bathing the husband I notice a small mole on his back. Worry for a second that it might be cancerous. Weep. Wonder how I'll go on without him. Huge crash of dishes from the kitchen snaps me out of it. Continue scrubbing husband; those little brats better have that floor spotless by the time I get out there.

8:00 A.M. The hardest part of the day; I send the husband to his office. As soon as the door shuts, four faces look up at me, expecting - what, comfort? Caring? I flip on the TV and doodle variations of my first name and my husband's last name on a notepad.

8:30 A.M. Am worn out with all this child-rearing and sick with longing for my husband. I suggest that the children take a nap.

9:30 A.M. Daily crying jag.

10:30 A.M. Complete my blog post on suicide. If it weren't for my husband, I would have killed myself a long time ago.

11:30 A.M. Have finished dusting all the husband's pictures and knitting him a scarf. Need fresh air. Suggest that the children go play in the park for a little while. They want me to push them on the swings, but I tell them that Mommy's got things to do in the sandbox; if they want to join me, they may, but maybe it's time they learn a little self-reliance.

12:30 P.M. Complete construction of life-size sand-statue of my husband. I can tell that all the other moms in the park are jealous. Well, suck it, bitches.

1:00 P.M. Drag the kids along to Toys in Babeland. The owners called last night to let me know that there's a whole new section of stuff my husband can stick into me. I'm so excited. Eldest daughter somewhat disturbed when I explain the purpose of the double-headed dildo to her.

1:30 P.M. Compare prices on three-pronged rubber truncheon at Good Vibrations. It's slightly more expensive than at Babeland, but they split the difference since I'm in so often. Youngest boy goes crazy with spray-on lube while I'm at the counter. So embarrassing… I never thought I'd be one of those moms who has “difficult” children. Depression returns.

1:45 P.M. Husband calls on the phone to remind me to pick up dry cleaning. Light has returned to my life.

2:30 P.M. Put kids down for nap number two. Say my daily prayer, thanking Lord for my husband's brain, body, balls. Beg Him to keep my husband safe.

2:45 P.M. Begin writing column for Salon.

2:46 P.M. File column with Salon. Wonder if exploiting my children for an online magazine is a mortal sin or only a venial one.

3:30 P.M. Surprise treat! Husband home early! He fucks me against the sink AND does the dishes. Sometimes I think I'm the luckiest woman in the world.

4:30 P.M. Husband takes the kids to the park to give me a break. Being bookish, I use this time to catch up on my reading. Reread Wonder Boys. What a great book.

5:30 P.M. Everyone comes back. I make the usual fuss about the husband, and eldest daughter asks if I love the husband more than I love them. She's intuitive, this girl. I almost feel a slight twinge of affection toward her. Quickly suppress the feeling; I wouldn't want to take anything away from my husband.

6:00 P.M. Kids to bed. Showtime.

7:00 P.M. Sore and satisfied. Tell husband how much I love him.

8:00 P.M. Reading on the couch. Catch glimpse of husband, fold page of novel over. Husband folds me over.

9:00 P.M. Need large quantity of Vicodin for the physical pain. Take some Welbutrin for the mental pain.

10:00 P.M. Drift off to sleep in the arms of the greatest man in the world. What will tomorrow bring? I don't know, but as long as I have my husband, I can face any challenge. Even motherhood. My kids don't know how lucky they are. But I do. I love my husband. Husband husband husband. I have a husband! We still do it! Life is good. Good night!

posted by Steve @ 12:53:00 AM

12:53:00 AM

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Leavin on a jet plane

Maher Arar, of Canada, says American agents kidnapped him

Suit by Detainee on Transfer to Syria Finds Support in Jet's Log

Published: March 30, 2005

This article was reported by Scott Shane, Stephen Grey and Ford Fessenden and written by Mr. Shane.

WASHINGTON, March 29 - Maher Arar, a 35-year-old Canadian engineer, is suing the United States, saying American officials grabbed him in 2002 as he changed planes in New York and transported him to Syria where, he says, he was held for 10 months in a dank, tiny cell and brutally beaten with a metal cable.

Now federal aviation records examined by The New York Times appear to corroborate Mr. Arar's account of his flight, during which, he says, he sat chained on the leather seats of a luxury executive jet as his American guards watched movies and ignored his protests.

The tale of Mr. Arar, the subject of a yearlong inquiry by the Canadian government, is perhaps the best documented of a number of cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which suspects have accused the United States of secretly delivering them to other countries for interrogation under torture. Deportation for interrogation abroad is known as rendition.

In papers filed in a New York court replying to Mr. Arar's lawsuit, Justice Department lawyers say the case was not one of rendition but of deportation. They say Mr. Arar was deported to Syria based on secret information that he was a member of Al Qaeda, an accusation he denies.

The discovery of the aircraft, in a database compiled from Federal Aviation Agency records, appears to corroborate part of the story Mr. Arar has told many times since his release in 2003. The records show that a Gulfstream III jet, tail number N829MG, followed a flight path matching the route he described. The flight, hopscotching from New Jersey to an airport near Washington to Maine to Rome and beyond, took place on Oct. 8, 2002, the day after Mr. Arar's deportation order was signed.

After seeing a photograph of the plane and hearing its path, Mr. Arar, 35, of Ottawa, said in a telephone interview: "I think that's it. I think you've found the plane that took me."

He added: "Finding this plane is going really to help me. It does remind me of this trip, which is painful, but it should make people understand that this is for real and everything happened the way I said. I hope people will now stop for a moment and think about the morality of this."

Records of the jet's travels also show a trip in December 2003 to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States holds hundreds of detainees, suggesting that it was used by the government on at least one other occasion.

If the plane was used to move Mr. Arar, it is the fourth known to have been used to transport suspected terrorists secretly from one country to detention in another.


posted by Steve @ 12:51:00 AM

12:51:00 AM

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The wingnut flood of cash

Getting wingnut`cred

So where did the Schindler's get the money to fight their son-in-law?

Schiavo: case closed (Keith Olbermann)

Besides Mr. Wolfson, I was joined by an individual who gave us a glimmer into how Terry Schiavo’s parents have been able to survive literally millions of dollars’ worth of legal bills over the years they have fought their son-in-law.

Glenn McGee is the director of the New York Institute For Bioethics, and editor-in-chief of The American Journal Of Bioethics.

OLBERMANN: Do you know where this money is coming from? The Schindlers can't possibly have afforded this on their own, can they?

MCGEE: Well, Keith, my research group at Albany Medical College has been looking for the past couple of days into the question you just raised. Namely, if there were 30,000 persistent vegetative state patients around the country, how is it that this one case attracted so much attention and so much litigation?

And what we found is that on both sides of the aisle on this set of legal actions, there's been an enormous amount of money. Some of it's actually been money to support lawyers but most of it has been gifts from large law firms and lobbyists to enable multitasking firms, the kind of
thing we saw in the O.J. trial, on behalf, mostly, of the Schindlers.

OLBERMANN: Do you know where that money came from? Do you know how much it amounted to?

MCGEE: Well, we don't know exactly how much it amounted to. Because as I said most of is it what you would call in kind contribution by lawyers who, in essence, agree with the cause.

So for example, among the representatives of Michael Schiavo's side, the American Civil Liberties Union most recently, and a number of different lawyers who work for firms that specialize in this sort of thing.

But more interesting, the Schindlers have enlisted legal assistance that's amounted to millions of dollars at this point, mostly from national right to life associated groups.

OLBERMANN: Millions of dollars.

MCGEE: At least $20,000 for each filing. And on top of that, there's procedural funding and funding for each and every action that moves up through the system.

You have to remember, Keith, when a case gets to the 11th District Court, it's moved through at least 25 different judges. And appellate lawyers have examined constitutionality questions in teams of 20 and 30. Many of these lawyers billing as much as $500 or $600 an hour.

So how have the Schindler's repaid their supporters?

WASHINGTON The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

"These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri," says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Schiavo's father. "These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia, and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"

Experts on privacy and law said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable. "I think it's amusing," said Robert Gellman, a privacy and information policy consultant. "I think it's absolutely classic America. Everything is for sale in America, every type of personal information about everybody."

Executives of Response Unlimited declined to comment. Gary McCullough, director of the Christian Communication Network and a spokesman for Schiavo's parents, confirmed that Schindler had agreed to let Response Unlimited rent out the list as part of a deal for the firm to send out an e-mail solicitation raising money on the family's behalf. The Schindlers have waged a lengthy legal battle against their son-in-law, Michael Schiavo, to prevent the removal of the feeding tube from their daughter, who doctors say is in a persistent vegetative state.

These are sleazy, controlling people who will stop at nothing to get their way.

They have benefitted from unprecedented contributions and have not uttered one word of thanks and only belatedly tried to control the freak show outside their daughter's hospice. I would be amazingly unsurprised if the Schindlers were sued by the families of other patients for that circus outside. I'm surprised no one got a TRO.

You know I want to sympathize with them, but at every turn, they do something even sleazier and more revolting. They should have stopped the children from being arrested. That hurt them. Badly. Then Mary Schindler's creepy appeal tonight to "have her daughter". She was a married woman. Not her property. Now, the sale of the list and the allegations of abuse. I think this will end up with someone suing someone. They just won't quit.

How sleazy are these people, why have they lost my sympathy in this horrible situation? Because they said nothing when people picketed Michael Schiavo's house when his kids and girlfriend are there. They have never once discouraged violence. And they have not even thanked the politioians for their support.

There is no restraint. Jeb Bush was about an hour from going to jail for them. He risked a shootout between the FDLE and the Pinellas County cops. Yet, no thanks for that intense effort on his part, as insane as it was. Just a demand he sign some paper.

Character in crisis always shines through. Michael Schiavo has not raised money, not appealed to anyone's emotions and has been through eight years of torture from his inlaws, who have done everything possible to malign him and his motives on the scantest evidence.

The sad part is that by throwing in with extremists they have no one to pull them from the brink, no one to make them see reality. At every turn, they have ramped up the tension and the acrimony. It's a sad situation, but they are making things as bad as they can be. It will be a stroke of luck if no one is killed in this mess.

posted by Steve @ 12:17:00 AM

12:17:00 AM

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Run Sambo run

The Ohio secretary of state, J. Rastus Sambo, has the support of the state's conservative church leaders

Movement in the Pews Tries to Jolt Ohio
By James Dao
The New York Times

Sunday 27 March 2005

Columbus, Ohio - Christian conservative leaders from scores of Ohio's fastest growing churches are mounting a campaign to win control of local government posts and Republican organizations, starting with the 2006 governor's race.

In a manifesto that is being circulated among church leaders and on the Internet, the group, which is called the Ohio Restoration Project, is planning to mobilize 2,000 evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic leaders in a network of so-called Patriot Pastors to register half a million new voters, enlist activists, train candidates and endorse conservative causes in the next year.

The initial goal is to elect Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, a conservative Republican, governor in 2006. The group hopes to build grass-roots organizations in Ohio's 88 counties and take control of local Republican organizations.

"The establishment of the Ohio Republican Party is out of touch with its base," said Russell Johnson, the pastor of the Fairfield Christian Church and the principal organizer of the project. "It acts as if it lives in Boston, Mass."

Pastor Johnson's challenge to the party establishment could have far-reaching consequences in a state dominated by Republican elected officials but still considered a bellwether in presidential politics. Conservatives in other swing states are watching closely.

"In Ohio, the church is awakening to its historic role as the moral voice in the community," said Colin A. Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, a conservative group based in Pennsylvania that trains ministers in political activism. "Ohio is in the vanguard of that nationally. I very much want Pennsylvania to be with them."

The church leaders say they will try to harness the energy of religious conservatives who were vital not only to Mr. Bush's narrow victory in Ohio but also to passage of an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. The amendment, known as Issue 1, was credited with drawing large numbers of rural and suburban conservatives to the polls and increasing Mr. Bush's support among urban blacks.

"We're calling people to act, not just wring their hands in the pews," said Rod Parsley, senior pastor of the World Harvest Church outside Columbus, who is considered a rising star in the religious broadcasting world and will be an inspirational speaker for the project. "We got people motivated last year, and then the election was over. We don't want folks to think our work is over."

Republican officials are watching warily. The chairman of the state party, Robert T. Bennett, warned that the decade-long dominance of his party could be jeopardized if it was pushed too far to the right. "This is a party of a big tent," Mr. Bennett said. "The far right cannot elect somebody by itself, any more than somebody from the far left can."

The conservatives point to the governor's race as an example of what they consider wrong with the state Republican Party. Of the three Republican candidates, only Mr. Blackwell has the solid support of religious conservatives. Jim Petro, the attorney general, opposed the same-sex marriage amendment on the grounds that it would invite litigation against companies that provided domestic partner benefits. Betty D. Montgomery, the state auditor, has supported some abortion rights.

Democrats say they are buoyed by the insurgency of Mr. Blackwell. "He's formidable in many ways, but he's the candidate we'd most like to run against," said Greg Haas, a strategist for Michael Coleman, the mayor of Columbus, who is seen as a favorite for the Democratic nomination.

In an interview, Mr. Blackwell, who is black, said that Ohio had shifted to the right and that he now represented mainstream voters. He also predicted that he would draw black religious conservatives into the Republican Party, breaking the Democrats' hold on urban precincts.

"I think what's happening is we're seeing a struggle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party," he said. "And that's healthy."

Experts said that religious conservatives could bring energy to campaigns, but that they had mixed results trying to win control of local political organizations.

"For short periods of time, they often had successes," said John C. Green, a professor of political science at the University of Akron. "But it was very difficult to sustain."

Ah, them anvils is flying out of the workshop.

This is the start of the GOP civil war. You can smell it coming. Norquist and the money people are scared. They actually got close to messing up social security, a decades long goal. And in the middle of their long awaited campaign, a dead woman threatens to ruin it all. And this is the gift which keeps on giving, to the point where the Schiavos and Schindlers may wind up suing each other, extending this ugliness for another few years.

Sambo is dreaming. You would have to ignorant to be black and vote for him. I would bet $100 that he is specifically targeted by the NAACP next year. He messed with voting rights and black folk will look at him like they did Alan Keyes, like vermin.

What I think happens is this: people just forget to vote for him. They will talk him up in redneckland, and when election day comes just forget to vote for him. It happened to Vernon Robinson and Herman Cain. They got real close to the fundies, said they would get black votes and they just didn't get the votes needed. We're talking what? About 120K votes? That's a thin margin in a statewide race. In a primary, I doubt an alliance with the fundies is a smart move for a black candidate. And after 2004, Blackwell has a LOT of enemies ready to kick in money to defeat him. And they may not wait for the general election.

But the real problem is the that, as Green said, the fundies alienate people. And they scare the GOP mainstream. Blackwell is an especially stupid man in many ways. And one way is he thinks he's going to be the first black president and that ain't happening. He's gonna lose to a white candidate after being vilified by black radio, and draw nationwide emnity. Think Alan Keyes with vigor. Because Blackwell did something besides run his mouth.

The upside is that the fundies are feeling their oats and seek to wage war in the GOP to get their way. Let them slag each other andhelp stir the pot. Republicans against religous tyranny would make a great website.

posted by Steve @ 12:13:00 AM

12:13:00 AM

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Smackdown of the week

Joe, you ignorant slut

Neurologist Cranford confronted Scarborough, MSNBC daytime anchor: "[Y]ou're asking me if a CAT scan was done? How could you possibly be so stupid?"

On the March 28 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host Joe Scarborough interviewed Dr. Ronald Cranford, one of the two neurologists selected by Michael Schiavo to examine Terri Schiavo pursuant to an October 2001 appellate court mandate. As part of that duty, Cranford "reviewed her medical records and personally conducted a neurological examination of Mrs. Schiavo," according to the June 2003 Florida appeals court review of that hearing.

Following is the transcript of the interview:

SCARBOROUGH: Now, the question on everybody's mind tonight is this: How is Terri Schiavo doing? You know, it's been 10 days. She is starting her 11th day now without food and water. Let's go back to Pinellas Park [Florida], where Lisa Daniels [MSNBC daytime anchor] is standing by -- Lisa.

DANIELS: Well, Joe, at this point, we are going to delve into the medical aspect of the story. I want to bring in Dr. Ronald Cranford. He's a neurologist at Hennepin Medical Center in Minneapolis. And, Doctor, before we continue, I want our viewers to understand what your role was in the legal case. I understand that Michael Schiavo and his team asked you to examine his wife. Is that correct?

CRANFORD: Yes. Yes, they did.

DANIELS: And from my understanding, I just want to be accurate, you examined Terri Schiavo for about 45 minutes. Is that right?

CRANFORD: I think 42 minutes, but 45 is fine, sure.

DANIELS: All right. Well, we want to be accurate here. What was your conclusion at the end of --


CRANFORD: Wait a minute. You are not accurate on a lot of things here. You're saying a lot of -- she's not starving to death. Do you understand that? She is dehydrating to death.

DANIELS: Well, why do you say that? Tell us how you came to that conclusion?


CRANFORD: Can I tell you why? Because I have done this 25 to 50 times. I don't know how many times Joe has done it, but I've done it 25 to 50 times in similar situations. And they die within 10 to 14 days.

Nancy Cruzan did not die in six days [as guest Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition suggested earlier in the program]. She died in 11 days, 11.5 hours. And Terri Schiavo will die within 10 to 14 days. And they are dying of dehydration, not starvation. And that's just a lie. And Joe doesn't have any idea what he is talking about. And you don't have any idea what you're talking about.

DANIELS: Well --

CRANFORD: I have been at the bedside of these patients. I know what they die from. I've seen them die. And this is all bogus. It's all just a bunch of crap that you are saying. It's totally wrong.

DANIELS: Well, with all due respect, Doctor, it sounds like you think that you know what you are talking about, so let's ask you about that.


DANIELS: Are you 100 percent correct in your opinion that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state? Do you agree with that?

CRANFORD: I am 105 percent sure she is in a vegetative state. And the autopsy will show severe irreversible brain damage to the higher centers, yes.

DANIELS: Why are you so sure, Doctor?

CRANFORD: Because I examined her. The court-appointed guardian examined her. Four neurologists at the hospital where she was has said she's carried a diagnosis of vegetative state for 12 years. Every neurologist that examined her, except for Dr. [William] Hammesfahr [a neurologist selected by Terri Schiavo's parents], who is a charlatan, has said she is in vegetative state. That's what the court found. Just because you don't like --


DANIELS: Doctor, was a CAT scan -- Doctor, your critics would ask you, was a CAT scan used? Was an MRI taken? Were any of these tests taken?

CRANFORD: You don't know the answer to that? The CAT scan was done in 1996, 2002. We spent a lot of time in court showing the irreversible -- you don't have copies of those CAT scans? How can you say that?

The CAT scans are out there, distributed to other people. You have got to look at the facts. The CAT scan is out there. It shows severe atrophy of the brain. The autopsy is going to show severe atrophy of the brain. And you're asking me if a CAT scan was done? How could you possibly be so stupid?

SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait a second.


SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second, if I can interrupt here.

CRANFORD: Go ahead. Joe, interrupt me.

SCARBOROUGH: Why don't you go ahead and tell the rest of the story there? Why don't you tell us that the radiologist that looked at the two CAT scans said she showed improvement in 2002 over 1996? You know, you seem so sure of yourself. The Associated Press reported yesterday --

CRANFORD: Joe, the judge didn't believe him.

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Hold on a second. You're so sure of yourself -- respond to this. AP had a report yesterday. They said seven doctors have looked at her. Four said she was in persistent vegetative state. You were one of them, hired by Michael Schiavo to do that. There were three others that looked at her that disagreed. How can you be so absolutely sure that everybody that agrees with you is 100 percent accurate and everybody on the other side is a charlatan?

CRANFORD: Joe, Judge -- Judge [George W.] Greer disallowed, didn't believe what [Dr. William] Maxfield [a doctor selected by Terri Schiavo's parents] said. You got your numbers wrong. There were eight neurologists saw her. Seven of the eight said she was in a vegetative state. Only one said she wasn't.

SCARBOROUGH: I am quoting an Associated Press report from yesterday.

CRANFORD: Joe, you've got to get your facts straight.

SCARBOROUGH: I have got my facts straight.

CRANFORD: Get your facts straight. You've got your facts way off.

SCARBOROUGH: Why don't we talk about -- hold on a second.

CRANFORD: Go ahead.

SCARBOROUGH: You talked about a 1996 scan.

CRANFORD: No, 2002, 2002.

SCARBOROUGH: Let's talk about it. A radiologist told the court that the 2002 scan actually showed improvement over the 1996 scan. Is that inaccurate? Did the AP report that wrong?

CRANFORD: Absolutely. Maxfield said it was improved. And Judge Greer didn't buy it because the others said it wasn't improved. It was probably worse than it was before.

SCARBOROUGH: Is he a charlatan also?

CRANFORD: Yes. Maxfield is an HBO [hyperbaric oxygen], vasodilator -- look it up, Joe. See what vasodilator does. See what hyperbaric oxygen, see in these cases, and you tell me they are not charlatans. Just because you don't agree with me -- I don't call everybody a charlatan. I'm not calling [Dr. Richard] Cheshire [who has argued that Terri Schiavo is not in a persistent vegetative state] a charlatan. I think he's a reputable neurologist. I think he examined her, he interviewed her. So, just because I disagree, I don't call them charlatans. But you have got your facts so far off that it's unbelievable, Joe. You don't have any idea what you are talking about. You've never been at the bedside of these patients. And this will come out in the next three to five years about this condition and starvation.

SCARBOROUGH: You were there 42 minutes, Doctor.

CRANFORD: Yes, I was.

SCARBOROUGH: You are only one doctor that's been there. And somehow, in your 42 minutes of observing her, you have all the answers and everybody that disagrees is dead wrong, I guess.

CRANFORD: No, that's just a -- you know what? You've gotta see what Judge Greer said. You've gotta see what the appeals court said. If you read that, Joe, you will understand why the judge decided the way he did.


CRANFORD: He didn't believe Hammesfahr. He didn't believe Maxfield. And it's not starvation. And Nancy Cruzan did not die in six days. She died in 11 days and 11.5 hours, 11 days and 11.5 hours.



SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Doctor.

CRANFORD: My pleasure.

SCARBOROUGH: You know what? This is the disappointing thing. You try to have a conversation. You try to talk about what is going on. And I found this as an attorney, too. I have been attorneys for plaintiffs. I have been attorneys for defendants. And what I always find out is, there are certain doctors -- I am not claiming that this doctor is a charlatan. I don't know his body of work. I am not claiming that he is a hired gun.

But too many doctors out there can be bought off by attorneys on either side. And then they come out, instead of telling you the facts, you get into debate like you are talking to an attorney. It is very, very disappointing.

I want to apologize to Lisa for interrupting her, but the thing is, Lisa was getting attacked because of what I said. I think that is unfair.

Joe, if I were you, I'd be looking for a demand letter to retract the implication of that statement. You impune his integrity and if you don't want to add to your lawsuits from Michael Schiavo, you might want to apologize. Soon.

posted by Steve @ 8:20:00 PM

8:20:00 PM

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Open letter

Look at the pretty burning Kirghiz car

An Open Letter To The National Press Club
Sean-Paul Kelley | San Antonio | March 28

Members of The National Press Club,

We, the undersigned bloggers, are very concerned about how liberal political bloggers are being systematically under-represented and belittled in the mainstream media, academic settings and media forums. By being intentionally excluded away from these venues, we are effectively pushed out of the discourse of opinion-leaders. The result is that the conventional wisdom about blogging, politics and journalism, as it concerns liberal blogs, becomes a feedback loop framed by the Conservatives and their media allies.

Indeed, just a few weeks ago, The Brookings Institution hosted a panel that originally included no liberal political bloggers and yet while including numerous conservative political operatives in the event. We registered our protest and the Brookings Institution's response was simply to invite a few liberal political bloggers to attend, yet not sit on the panel, as we had originally insisted upon.

Today, however, we are faced with an entirely new situation that is more insult than misrepresentation. The discredited conservative media operative Jeff Gannon, nee Guckert has been invited to sit on a panel at the prestigious National Press Club to talk about the scandal surrounding his access to the White House and more generally, the similarities and differences between bloggers and journalists. Guckert's token liberal counterpart will be a gossip blogger and sex comedy blogger. While we have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Graff and Ms. Cox we believe that neither represents bloggers who write about hard-nosed politics. And as for Mr. Guckert, he isn't a blogger, he's barely a journalist, and not a single political blogger involved with the Gannon/Guckert scandal, or otherwise, has been invited to sit on the panel to counter Mr. Guckert's arguments.

Therefore, we the undersigned bloggers, respectfully but firmly insist that a serious political blogger such as John Aravosis, of be included on the panel to fairly and accurately represent our industry and us. Mr. Aravosis has agreed to our request that he serve on the panel as our representative and is available should such an invite be forthcoming.

This situation is simply unacceptable. We will push back against the growing bias and sloppiness we see in the mainstream media as it concerns serious political blogging. If we do not we will never achieve any semblance of balance in the media. If we do not, we abdicate our ability to tell our own side of the story. If we do not we leave it to others to define us and defame us.

Please call Julie Shue at the The National Press Club and politely insist that they include John Aravosis of at their event. Here are there numbers: 202-662-7500 or 202-662-7501 or email at and


Sean-Paul Kelley,
Ezra Klein,
Echidne of the snakes,
Amanda Marcotte,
Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher,
Matt Stoller,
Democratic Underground
Lindsay Beyerstein
Shakespeare's Sister, and
Bob Brigham,
Dave Johnson,
Matt Singer,
Kari Chisholm,
Steve Gilliard,
Crooks and Liars,
Brian Balta
That Colored Fella
Anna Brosovic
skippy the bush kangaroo
David Neiwert Orcinus
Julien 's List

posted by Steve @ 12:21:00 PM

12:21:00 PM

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What do you mean we can't publish lies?

Ooops, now about that defamation suit Mr.Schiavo

Justices Refuse to Shield Reports of False Charges
The Supreme Court lets stand a ruling that a newspaper's truthful coverage isn't protected.
By David G. Savage
Times Staff Writer

March 29, 2005

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused Monday to shield the news media from being sued for accurately reporting a politician's false charges against a rival.

Instead, the justices let stand a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that a newspaper can be forced to pay damages for having reported that a city councilman called the mayor and the council president "liars," "queers" and "child molesters."

The case turned on whether the 1st Amendment's protection of the freedom of the press includes a "neutral reporting privilege." Most judges around the nation have said the press does not enjoy this privilege.

Lawyers for more than two dozen of the nation's largest press organizations, including Tribune Co., which publishes the Los Angeles Times, had urged the court to take up the Pennsylvania case and to rule that truthful news reports on public figures deserved to be shielded.

They said politicians have been hurling false and damaging charges at their rivals throughout American history. The press cannot do its duty to inform the public if it is not free to report what public figures say, they argued.

But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said the press has never "enjoyed a blanket immunity" from being sued over stories that print falsehoods that damage a person's reputation. The law "has placed a burden (albeit a minimal one) on the media to refrain from publishing reports that they know to be false," the Pennsylvania court said.

The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to take up the case sets no legal precedent. However, one lawyer involved in the dispute said the court's action "signals the demise of the neutral reporting privilege."

The case that reached the high court began 10 years ago when the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., printed a story titled "Slurs, Insults Drag Town Into Controversy." It reported that the city council in nearby Parkesburg had been torn apart by shouting matches and fistfights. The most outspoken councilman was William T. Glenn Sr.

In comments during a meeting and in an interview with a news reporter, Glenn referred to Mayor Alan Wolfe and Councilman James Norton as "liars" and a "bunch of draft dodgers." He also strongly suggested that they were homosexuals who had put themselves "in a position that gave them an opportunity to have access to children."

When asked to respond, Norton was quoted as saying: "If Mr. Glenn has made comments as bizarre as that, then I feel very sad for him, and I hope he can get the help he needs."

Later, the mayor and the councilman who were the targets of the charges sued both Glenn and the Daily Local News.

All that had to do was say none of these charges have any basis in fact or get a quote refuting them. Real simple.

So how much is Fox going to give Michael Schiavo?

And Nancy Grace better hope Michael Jackson is convicted.

posted by Steve @ 11:24:00 AM

11:24:00 AM

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Who needs a car?

Matt Clausen and Margarita Diaz use a Zipcar for errands. Owning a car "was more of a hassle than anything," he said

More Area Car Owners Shift to Hourly Rentals

By Steven Ginsberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 29, 2005; Page A01

Matt Clausen's friends told him he was crazy. Absolutely nuts. How in the world did he and his wife expect to take care of a new baby if they got rid of their only car? How would they get to the doctor's office? See their friends?

Clausen harbored his own doubts, but he had also done some math. He was paying $450 a year in insurance and $800 in repairs, plus gas and other nagging costs. The hassle equation didn't add up, either: His station wagon broke down a lot, and he was sick of hunting for parking.

So he ditched the clunker and put his trust in Zipcar, one of two car-sharing companies in the Washington region that offer a range of vehicles for rent in increments as short as a half-hour.

Unlike traditional car rental outfits, car-sharing companies station small numbers of vehicles in neighborhoods across the region that users reserve online or by phone. They use electronic cards to get into cars and must return them to the reserved spots where they picked them up. Both companies in the Washington area, Zipcar and Flexcar, include gas, insurance and maintenance in their rates.

"It seemed like a car was more of a hassle than anything else," said Clausen, of Capitol Hill, who, with his wife, Margarita Diaz, spent about $1,000 on Zipcar the first year they tried it. "I wanted to have the freedom of having a car around in case I needed it, but it ended up sitting out on the street all the time. Zipcar . . . tipped the scales for me."

Many people in the Washington region -- with its crowded neighborhoods, limited parking and nightmarish traffic -- have come to the same conclusion, turning it into a proving ground of whether Americans are amenable to the culture of car sharing.

The companies got their starts in Seattle and Boston, but the Washington region is the only place in the country where two car-sharing companies compete, and company officials confirm that it has quickly become one of their hottest markets. After three-plus years, the companies have stationed a combined 226 cars in the area and have signed up more than 14,000 members, nearly half of them in the past year.

Company executives and some local politicians and transportation officials say car sharing represents the future of how people will get around in congested cities.

Users say the services are handy for running to suburban stores, loading up on home improvement supplies, picking up a piece of furniture or visiting family and friends. Some businesses sign up to give employees a way to hustle between offices or pick up materials. Another perk, users add, is that they get to drive all kinds of cool cars.

"I drove a BMW for the first time in my life," Clausen said. "I've tried VW Bugs. I tried a convertible once."


posted by Steve @ 9:20:00 AM

9:20:00 AM

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