Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Best and Worst of 2006

Crooks and Liars found all this...

Best / Worst Books of 2006

Salon: Editor's Picks for 2006 (watch a short ad for a site pass) Editors' Top 50; Customers' Top 50

Publisher's Weekly: Best Books of the Year

Washington Post: Book World Holiday–Editor's Top Ten

Time Magazine: 10 Best Books

NY Sun: The Year's Best Books

Times UK: The 10 best books of 2006

LINK: The Best Books of 2006

Best / Worst Movies 0f 2006

Salon: Cinema to Savor (watch a short ad for site pass)

Rolling Stone: Best and Worst of 2006 Movies

via American Film Institute (AFI)'s Best Films of 2006

Time Magazine: 10 Best Movies of 2006

LA Times: Best of 2006 by Kenneth Turan

MSNBC: Best of 2006; Worst of 2006

LINK: The Best Movies of 2006

And finally...

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for President Bush, AP comes out with a new poll.

SCARBOROUGH: Now you don't have to have a political doctorate in Political Science to realize it's never a good sign when you're outpolled by Lucifer

Good thing he doesn't follow those pesky polls…

Colbert: But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.

LINK: AP Poll: Bush #1 Villain of 2006

-Mr. Joseph

Former President Gerald Ford, R.I.P.

Crooks and Liars found two bits that make me remember Gerald Ford.

LINK: Fmr. President Ford Disagreed w/ Iraq War

LINK: SNL Flashback: Tom Brokaw Announces Ford’s Death

Here's the story...
LINK: Former President Gerald Ford Dead at 93

-Mr. Joseph

The Execution of Saddam Hussein

Warning: Explicit...

The Drudge Report was all over this...


LINK: Dictator Who Ruled Iraq With Violence Is Hanged for Crimes Against Humanity

Wow, after a lengthy trial, it is good to see this nonsense come to an end.
-Mr. Joseph

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Global Warming Denier Michael Crichton Fictionalizes Critic as Child Rapist

TPMmuckraker, Think Progress, Keith Olberman, and the Democratic Underground documented this...


The battle between anti-global warming activists and their critics is frequently uncivil. Name calling, put downs, you name it, they fling them.

But this marks a new threshold, I think.

This March, Michael Crowley wrote a cover story (sub. req.) in The New Republic hitting blockbuster novelist Michael Crichton's very public denials that global warming was a proved phenomenon.

That was the last he'd heard from Crichton until he picked his latest novel, Next. Here's what he found:

Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers. Crowley was a wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. ...

It turned out Crowley's taste in love objects was well known in Washington, but [his lawyer]--as was his custom--tried the case vigorously in the press months before the trial, repeatedly characterizing Alex and the child's mother as "fantasizing feminist fundamentalists" who had made up the whole thing from "their sick, twisted imaginations." This, despite a well-documented hospital examination of the child. (Crowley's penis was small, but he had still caused significant tears to the toddler's rectum.)

Think Progress:

The real-life Michael Crowley is also a Washington journalist and also graduated from Yale.

The New York Times reports, “Mr. Crichton could not be reached yesterday for comment, and a publicist at his publisher, HarperCollins, did not return calls.” In an article posted today, Crowley says he is “strangely flattered” by the reference: “If someone offers substantive criticism of an author, and the author responds by hitting below the belt, as it were, then he’s conceding that the critic has won.”


In an article posted to the New Republic's Web site today, Crowley responded:

The next page contains fleeting references to Crowley as a "weasel" and a "dickhead," and, later, "that political reporter who likes little boys." But that's it--Crowley comes and goes without affecting the plot. He is not a character so much as a voodoo doll. Knowing that Crichton had used prior books to attack very real-seeming people, I was suspicious. Who was this Mick Crowley? A Google search turned up an Irish Workers Party politician in Knocknaheeny, Ireland. But Crowley's tireless advocacy for County Cork's disabled seemed to make him an unlikely target of Crichton's ire. And that's when it dawned on me: I happen to be a Washington political journalist. And, yes, I did attend Yale University. And, come to think of it, I had recently written a critical 3,700-word cover story about Crichton. In lieu of a letter to the editor, Crichton had fictionalized me as a child rapist. And, perhaps worse, falsely branded me a pharmaceutical-industry profiteer.

Democratic Underground:
Classy stuff!
Keith Olberman:

But our winner, author Michael Crichton. In his last novel, he dismissed global warming. So a political columnist for the “New Republic,” who went to Yale, named Michael Crowley, and ripped him for it. Now Crichton has a new book, in which he’s created a minor character who is a child rapist, and described as a political columnist who went to Yale, and who’s name Mick Crowley. Crichton’s publisher, Harper Collins, is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

The real Michael Crowley is understandably upset that Crichton gave his name to a child rapist, but look, Mr. Crowley, it could have been worst, Crichton could have used your name for a character based on himself. Author Michael “Vengeance is Mine” Crichton, Thursday’s Worst Person in the World.

LINK: Keith: 'Worst Person in the World’: Michael Crichton

LINK: TPM: Global Warming Denier Michael Crichton Fictionalizes Critic as Child Rapist

LINK: TP: Journalist Critical Of Climate Skeptic Michael Crichton Written Into Crichton Novel As Child Rapist

LINK: DU: The Top Ten Conservative Idiots, No. 272, (#7)

Good grief...
-Mr. Joseph

Limbaugh and Stallone discuss Rocky VI

Rush Limbaugh interviews Sylvester Stallone on, what looks to be, my favorite film of the year.

Personally, a large group of friends of mine and me are going to see it on the 23rd. I will post a review on my other blog...


RUSH: Welcome to the program, Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa. The movie comes out on the 20th, correct?

STALLONE: Right, the 20th, Rush.

RUSH: Thanks for joining us today. They sent me a copy of it, Sly, and I want to be honest with you, I didn't know what was left to tell in the story. I've loved all these other Rocky movies but there's been a long hiatus now, and I put it in, and I was stunned.

STALLONE: Thank you.

RUSH: You cover every demographic in this, I mean, looking at it from a production and marketing point. It looks like the first Rocky movie cinematographically, you haven't gussied it up with a bunch of computer generated fireworks.

STALLONE: Right. Technology, no.

RUSH: You've got life messages in this, there's no profanity that I was able to hear.


RUSH: It's a movie for everybody.

STALLONE: Right, it's PG. Well, you know, what had happened, a good friend of mine is Susan Faludi who wrote the book Stiffed, which is a couple years ago, it's about the diminishing and kind of like diluting of the American male in the workforce, and after, you know, almost World War II, and every generation it seems to get harder and harder for a man to express himself and we seem to be slowly being moved on this conveyor belt out before we're ready to be moved out. And it was kind of -- I wanted Rocky to show that he still, as he says, has some stuff in the basement, he has a flame in his heart, and I think a lot of the American male feels that way, but society goes, "Nah, sorry, you've had your up at bat and it's time to move on." And I go, "Well, maybe you should move on when you're ready to move on." If you're willing to take the humiliation of sticking your head above the crowd, maybe it's, you know, the pleasure will be worth the pain.

RUSH: Well, it's an interesting thing you brought up here, basically the feminization of the American culture.


RUSH: Not just for men, you know, in their late years toward retirement or middle-age or what have you, but throughout. But, look, I think you highlighted this. One of my favorite scenes, because it's so poignant with the way the culture is today, your son -- I don't want to give too much of this away, but the conversation you have with your son when he begs you not to take this last fight.


RUSH: Because he needs to get out of your shadow. And for him to do that, you need to go away, and what you say to him -- and it's not a long scene -- just had me cheering. I have to be honest, I don't cheer much at movies, but it had me standing up.

STALLONE: Thank you, Rush. Well, you know, I guess a lot of fathers and sons have sort of had this conversation in some incarnation, and I certainly have, and I think it's an ongoing battle. It's almost from biblical times, you know, sharper than a serpent's tooth, and finally the father has to say, "Stop, stop, you have to be accountable, son."

RUSH: Is this the last Rocky movie?

STALLONE: Oh yeah, that's why I used the name Balboa, Rush, I didn't want a number attached because that would imply there was another one. But I felt so bad the way the fifth one turned out. I don't know what happened. I was just off my game, off the mark, maybe it was my lifestyle, but I was not thinking for the audience. I was thinking maybe for myself. And, you know, you have some downturns, careers have peaks and valleys and I had a lot of time to think over the last ten, 12 years, and I thought, "You know, if there's one thing I'd like to remedy was the way that character went out." All the other characters I could deal with, but that one really bothered me. But the opportunity at that time, I was 53, and they said, "It's over, you know, the last one didn't work. Plus you're too old." But this is a movie about being too old but willing to take the humiliation to try to remedy or, you know, right a wrong. They said, "No, you're just talking about yourself."

I said, "No, I think there's a lot of people out there that wish they could go back to that crossroad in their life and change something, and if not that, maybe they just wanted to do something to purge grief or rid themselves of some feelings and you need an outlet," and they said no deal. Luckily after six years, MGM was sold, and Harry Sloan, who came in as the new CEO, said, "You know what, I'll take a gamble with you," and I'm really indebted to him and Joe Roth of Revolution.

RUSH: Now, you wrote and directed this. Is that part and parsel of the problem you had in getting it done?

STALLONE: Yes, that, but more than anything else, it was age. You know, society, especially Hollywood, I think it's about 50% ahead of society in getting rid of its workers, you know what I mean? Because we're so in the limelight, you know, women, men, it just chews you up and spits you out, and now we have so many market outlets, you're really on a fast lane. Before, you know, you had a star like Tyrone Power or, you know, Kirk Douglas, they would have a 50-year career. Now if you have 15, consider yourself lucky.

RUSH: Yeah, everybody's looking for the 18 to 24 demographic or even younger. But, you know, this movie is going to hit that demo. Again, I'm tempted, I'm not a movie critic so I don't want to give too much away here, but it's a love story that women are going to absolutely adore.

STALLONE: Thank you.

RUSH: Fathers and sons are going to learn a lot from watching this. It's a movie about staying true to your desires and going for it when everybody tells you that you can't do it and shouldn't do it. I mean, there's a lot here. I think you're probably going to cover the demographic that they look for that they think you can't get anymore.

STALLONE: Well, actually no, believe it or not, we're testing higher in the younger demographic, and, you know, I'm hoping that the baby boomers, my generation, come out and support the film because, if they do, and the film performs, that will be a message to Hollywood that, you know, there are 70 million of us out there. Let's start making stories about us that are age appropriate and more profound than just us being relegated to, you know, the angry father or the angry mother in movies, and bring our stories up to the forefront.

RUSH: We'll it'll get the baby boomers out because the baby boomers think only about themselves and you've made a movie about them.


RUSH: In a way.

STALLONE: (Laughing.)

RUSH: (Laughing.) We're talking with Sylvester Stallone. Rocky Balboa is out on December 20th, and I was fortunate enough to see a screening of it on Wednesday night. You shot two endings for this.


RUSH: I know how it ended. I know what I saw. What made you decide on this ending?

STALLONE: Because of the budget, we had really one shot at this, and, I didn't want to second-guess myself, but just in case, I shot just the opposite ending to think, "Well, it could possibly be that we should have this ending," which, you know, I'm kind of like not at liberty to say, but that will be in the DVD, the opposite one. But life, kind of like you never know, you never know. And I've done this so many times in films, you think you have it; you think you've nailed it; then you're in the editing room and you go, "Oh, my God." Rush, that's why so many films go over budget, 90% of the time you know what they're re-shooting? The ending.

CALLER: Well, let me ask you something. In my business, I don't listen to consultants because I don't have to. In fact, when I got rid of consultants and bosses is when I began to prosper, just following my instincts and my gut.


RUSH: And you mentioned having to test this movie. How much of your work in your career did you have to be a slave to what consultants and testing and focus groups are saying rather than just following your gut on it?

STALLONE: Well, it's funny, up until like 1980, '82, '83, you had this kind of like pioneer spirit or cowboy mentality or you flew by the seat of your pants and you say, "Ah, you know what, wisdom says I shouldn't do this but I have a gut feeling." That's gone now. Now it really is, believe it or not, 90% of the films are green lit, not by the studio heads, but by the marketing department. You're a slave to them. If they don't think they can sell it or if they don't have a hook then the movie doesn't get green lit no matter how much they say, "I kind of like this film." What's the angle? We're not sure what the angle is. So that thing is thrown to the wolves. So this is the first film I've done just using instinct since, you know, 1990.

RUSH: Wow. Time's dwindling here. Let me ask you a couple more things. You use as your opponent here Antonio Tarver.


RUSH: He plays Mason "The Line" Dixon, right? Love the name. But did you ask Roy Jones, Jr., first?

STALLONE: Uh-oh, you heard that. Believe it or not, I called Roy Jones, Jr. I wasn't sure. I always loved Tarver because he was verbal and he had a certain kind of charisma, there's something about his face I like. Roy Jones is a little more sinister looking, but I said I have to approach both of them in case one of them falls out; one breaks a hand, who knows. I called Roy Jones 31 times. Not one phone call was returned. On the 32nd time I said, "I gotta move on, thanks anyway." I called HBO, who Roy Jones worked for at that time, they said, "Sly, don't feel so bad, we pay him; he still doesn't pick up our phone calls."

RUSH: Do you have issues with this guy? Do you know him?

STALLONE: Roy Jones? Yeah, I do. It's so odd. He's just one of those kinds of guys. I guess he has a phone phobia.

RUSH: Well, maybe.

STALLONE: But it turned it out great. I'm so glad. I think Tarver, because of his fighting ability and his superior height gives a better visual than Roy would.

RUSH: He looks plenty sinister, too.

STALLONE: He does, he does, but he's not so monstrous like some of the guys today, Rush, are literally behemoth. He's more like old school fighters, and he's not playing a villain. This is about the battle that people have within themselves.

RUSH: That's an excellent point. That's true. This is about you. I should point out, for of those curious, the boxing, and I checked the run time on my player, and the boxing seems make up the last 20 minutes of the movie, 20, 25, the rest of the movie is all about the things we've been discussing. Sly, it really is good, and I didn't know what to expect and I thought maybe it was going to be difficult to -- to --

STALLONE: You can say it. It's okay.

RUSH: But I really did enjoy it. I enjoyed it as much as any of these movies.

STALLONE: Thank you.

RUSH: I wish you the best with it.

STALLONE: You know what, you're very kind. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

RUSH: All the best. That's Sylvester Stallone. I don't normally review movies. Passion of the Christ -- what else did I see this week that I talked about? Oh, yeah, I saw Apocalypto. I don't do many of these screenings, but the ones I have seen and watched I liked, and this one was right at the top. The life lessons in this are well worth seeing.

LINK: Rush Interviews Sylvester Stallone

Go see Rocky Balboa!
-Mr. Joseph

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Imus referred to "Jewish management" of CBS Radio as "money-grubbing bastards"

From Media Matters...


From the November 30 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning:

IMUS: A great hour coming up. The Blind Boys of Alabama are gonna sing a bunch of tunes for us. I mean, they, you know, are just an American treasure.

CHARLES McCORD (co-host): That is not an overstatement.

IMUS: I remember when I first had 'em on a few years ago how the Jewish management at --

McCORD: Mmm-hmm.

IMUS: -- at whatever, whoever we work for, CBS, or whatever it is, were bitching at me about it. You know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Careful there, Mel.

IMUS: And, uh -- well, not Mel. Mel's always [unintelligible]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I meant Mel Gibson.

IMUS: Oh. Well, no, no, that's not from where I'm coming, obviously.

McCORD: You meant Mel Allen, then.

IMUS: But, uh, you know.

McGUIRK: They were dissing the handicapped African-Americans --

IMUS: Remember that?

McGUIRK: -- who love the baby Jesus.

McCORD: Yes.

IMUS: Remember that?

McGUIRK: Absolutely.

IMUS: We had a meeting in my office.

McCORD: I recall.

McGUIRK: The Blind Boys? No, no!

IMUS: They were furious. But, of course, I don't care what they say and never have.

McCORD: Yeah.

IMUS: And thank God. What, Bernie?

McGUIRK: Even if you wear a beanie, how can you not love the Blind Boys?

McCORD: These guys.

IMUS: Well, as I -- I tried to put it in terms that these money-grubbing bastards could understand.

IMUS: I said -- and they're always worried about my image and all that sort of thing, you know. And I said, "They're handicapped, they're black, and they're blind. How do we lose here?" And then a light bulb just went off over their scummy little heads. And, plus, they're great!

McCORD: And they are great. Where is the downside? Explain that to me.

LINK: MSNBC's Imus referred to "Jewish management" of CBS Radio as "money-grubbing bastards"

-Mr. Joseph

Link of the Day: SkepticReport

SkepticReport really handed it to the creationists...

Read these...

LINK: Things Creationists Hate

LINK: The Whole Silly Flood Story

The Website is The SkepticReport

-Mr. Joseph

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Feingold Cuts Through The ISG Hype on Countdown

From Crooks and Liars...
Keith Olbermann had Russ Feingold on to give his assessment of the now very famous Iraq Study Group report.

Feingold said what I have felt all day. This report does not give us a clear path in Iraq and leaves the future of the war up in the air. Even worse is the fact that we have lost 10 more soldiers today and the administration needs more time to figure out what to do. Iraq sure doesn't need more time to slip into anarchy - it gets worse by the day.

Silent Patriot: "The Senator drills home the point that the panel was composed primarily of politicians — not Mideast experts — and doesn't fully address the most important aspects of the overall War on Terror but instead views it through the "prism of Iraq" and "misses the point."

LINK: Feingold Cuts Through The ISG Hype on Countdown

-Mr. Joseph

On Iraq, Gore: "worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States"; Bush: "It's bad..."

Think Progress caught Bush's comments, while Crooks and Liars documented Gore's...

At a press conference this morning with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a reporter asked President Bush whether his use of the word “unsettling” to describe the violence in Iraq would “convince many people that you’re still in denial about how bad things are in Iraq.”

Bush responded curtly, “It’s bad in Iraq. That help?” and then chuckled.

Bush later said, “You know, in all due respect, I’ve been saying it a lot. I understand how tough it is, and I’ve been telling the American people how tough it is.”

On 10/25, Bush said the U.S. was “absolutely” winning the Iraq war. On 10/17, Vice President Cheney claimed the “general overall situation” in Iraq was going “remarkably well.”

Full transcript:

QUESTION: Mr. President, the Iraq Study Group described the situation in Iraq as “grave and deteriorating.” You said that the increase in attacks is “unsettling.” That will convince many people that you’re still in denial about how bad things are in Iraq and question your sincerity about changing course.

BUSH: It’s bad in Iraq. That help? (Laughter)

QUESTION: Why did it take others to say it before you’ve been willing to acknowledge it to the world?

BUSH: You know, in all due respect, I’ve been saying it a lot. I understand how tough it is, and I’ve been telling the American people how tough it is. And they know how tough it is.

And the fundamental question is: Do we have a plan to achieve our objective? Are we willing to change as the enemy has changed?

LINK: Bush Asked Whether He’s ‘Still In Denial,’ Responds ‘It’s Bad In Iraq. That Help?’

Al Gore was on The TODAY SHOW and brought some sober thoughts to the discussion of the Iraq Study Group and the war.

Gore: Well, the report this morning is actually one of several studies. There's one in the Pentagon. There has reportedly been one in the White House itself is (garbled) up. They're all basically saying the same thing, Matt–this is an utter disaster. This was the worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States and now we as a nation have to find a way, in George Mitchell’s words—"to manage a disaster." but—I would urge the president not to try to separate out the personal issues of being blamed in history for this mistake and instead recognize it’s not about him. It’s about our country and we all have to find a way to get our troops home and to prevent a regional conflagration there.

LINK: Al Gore on Iraq: “This was the worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States.”

Bush vs Gore v2.0

-Mr. Joseph

VP Cheney's Lesbian Daughter is Pregnant

Crooks and Liars and Think Progress documented the worst parts of this controvesy...

The Washington Post reported that Mary Cheney and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, are expecting a baby. The right wing is already on the attack:

Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America described the pregnancy as “unconscionable.”

“It’s very disappointing that a celebrity couple like this would deliberately bring into the world a child that will never have a father,” said Crouse, a senior fellow at the group’s think tank. “They are encouraging people who don’t have the advantages they have.” …

Carrie Gordon Earll, a policy analyst for the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family: “Just because you can conceive a child outside a one-woman, one-man marriage doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.”

Cheney and Poe will also face discrimination from Virginia state law. According to Equality Virginia:

While there are no specific Virginia laws addressing the custody and adoption rights of gays and lesbians, Virginia courts have routinely discriminated against gays and lesbians by finding that the parent’s status as gay or lesbian is not in the “best interests” of the child.

The result, according to Jennifer Chrisler of Family Pride, is that Poe will “have no legal relationship with her child.”

“In the state of Virginia, it’s very difficult for lesbian couples to have children together,” says Chrisler. “Heather Poe will have no legal relationship with her child. She can’t adopt as a second parent. She won’t have her name on the birth certificate.

Asked what the couple could do to give Poe some legal rights as a parent, Chrisler advised: “Move to Maryland.”

LINK: TP: Mary Cheney’s Partner ‘Will Have No Legal Relationship With Her Child’ Under Virginia Law


On the Situation Room, after a brief statement from Focus on the Family, Paul Begala and Terry Jeffrey talked about the impact Mary Cheney's pregnancy may have on the homosexuality debate in this country. Jeffrey's response was both predictable and ridiculous. These people just love imposing their hypocritical views of morality on others, don't they?

Jeffrey: When you take two people of the same sex and artificially insert into that relationship a child, you are depriving that child of a fundamental god given right that every person born in this world has.

John Amato: Why do the Christian Conservatives hate their main man Dick Cheney so? via email:

Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America described the pregnancy as "unconscionable." "It's very disappointing that a celebrity couple like this would deliberately bring into the world a child that will never have a father,"said Crouse, a senior fellow at the group's think tank. "They are encouraging people who don't have the advantages they have."

LINK: C&L: Right-Wingers Weigh in on Mary Cheney’s Pregnancy

-Mr. Joseph

Falk Corp. Building Explodes; Shakes City

I felt this while taking a test...

A hint of trouble, then tragedy

3 dead, 46 hurt as explosion rips buildings to pieces at Falk Corp.

As the first shift at Falk Corp. cranked along Wednesday morning, the troubling smell of gas drifted through an annex just off the main production building.

Workers called supervisors and began heading for the doors.

Moments later, at 8:07 a.m., a massive and deadly explosion ripped through the Menomonee Valley factory. It killed three, injured 46 and left a swath of one of the city's oldest companies a charred, smoking skeleton.

The three killed were identified as Curtis J. Lane, 38, Oconomowoc; Thomas M. Letendre, 49, Milwaukee; and Daniel T. Kuster, 35, Mayville.

Police Chief Nannette Hegerty said that had employees not discovered the propane leak and begun evacuating, "the death toll would have been much higher."

The death of Kuster, said his uncle, Tim Izydor, "kills my heart."

David Mays, a journeyman machinist, was working inside the annex when the gas smell first became apparent.

"I left," said Mays, 61, who has worked for Falk for 39 years. "But some of them stayed."

The explosion hurled Mays to the ground, reminding him of incoming mortar rounds from his service in Vietnam. It rattled windows and shook houses as far away as Franklin and New Berlin, and filled the gray morning sky near downtown with a chilling spiral of smoke.

The blast shattered the Falk family of workers, and ultimately tested a legion of police, firefighters, emergency personnel and hospital workers.

"We've all been there for over 20 years," said Mays, who later went to the hospital on his own. "We are all like a family."

Journeyman machinist David Sternig, 59, who has worked at Falk for 42 years, was in the southwestern part of the plant when the blast hit. Two of his brothers also work at Falk.

"It was like a bomb went off or a plane crashed," he said.

The light bulbs popped. The room went dark. The whir of machines came to a dead stop.

The room was eerily silent, and the air was filled with gray soot, Sternig said. Huge sections of concrete block were blown out. The annex was leveled.

Dean Sternig, 44, was on his way to see his brother when the blast knocked him from his feet like a bowling pin. Looking up from the shaking ground, he saw huge flames fill the sky.

"I didn't know if it was going to start to rain down on me or not, but I wasn't about to lie there and find out," he said.

He scrambled to his feet and ran into a nearby garage, diving on the ground into a pile of glass shards, cutting his arm in three places.

He got up again and worked his way back to his work station. The mood there was calm. No screaming or yelling.

Injured workers were transported in pairs. He was treated at a hospital and released. Neither of his two brothers was seriously injured.

"I feel real lucky," he said.

'There were people in there'

Falk is classic blue-collar Milwaukee. It is a place where life still runs on eight-hour shifts, where co-workers become friends who bowl together, play on the company softball team, trade deer hunting tales over a post-work beer.

To many people, though, the company passes without notice. Few likely could name its product: giant gears.

From the nearby highway and the viaducts that criss-cross the Menomonee Valley, the complex can fade into the mix of brick and smokestacks in the valley.

On Wednesday, Katie Porter was one of those passers-by, following her normal route from Wauwatosa down Canal St. to her job in the Historic Third Ward. Suddenly, her Saturn Ion was shoved off the side of the road.

"There was a truck or a van next to me, and I thought it had slammed into me," Porter said.

But the truck had come to a stop behind her.

"I saw the building explode outward and then just fall in," she said. "The walls were pushed outward, and the whole thing collapsed."

On S. 27th St., car alarms went off. In the nearby Merrill Park neighborhood, windows were broken and garage door bolts were shaken loose. Some thought it was an earthquake - others a sonic boom or an airplane crashing.

Jill Huffer was driving north across the 27th Street Viaduct, taking her two kids - Calvin, 9, and Casey, 5 - to Hawley Environmental School. It was not their normal route, but Calvin had an early morning appointment at the orthodontist.

"I saw debris flying way into the sky, and then I saw a flash and then a fire blast down on the ground," she said.

She kept driving, and found herself crying as she drove. Calvin asked what was wrong.

"I just kept thinking," Huffer said, "there were people in there."

In the valley below, forklift driver Otha Beamon, 56, was driving a Jeep about 20 feet outside the building.

"All of a sudden, 'Boom!' That was it," Beamon said.

He got out of the Jeep and was knocked down by falling debris. He got up, was knocked down again. Then, he said, "some guy came out of nowhere" and helped him get to safety.

In a nearby building, 35-year Falk employee Bill Gebhard was working when the blast tossed him into the air.

"Glass was shattering everywhere," he said.

Once he got his bearings, he realized he was looking outside; the building's walls had disappeared.

Sooty faces, shock

At the Engine 28 fire station about six blocks north of Falk, the entire building shook and the garage door sucked in, then blew outward - so much that the firefighters could see daylight. Some thought a car struck the station.

It had happened before.

They ran outside. No car. But James Youngblood, a driver for the department, saw smoke rising to the south. An engine and a paramedic unit were sent toward the smoke. South of the freeway they could tell the smoke was coming from a large building in the Falk complex.

They arrived about three minutes, 40 seconds after the blast to a scene of devastation about the size of two football fields. Lt. Frank Alioto, a firefighter for 23 years, called in a second alarm and requested extra paramedics and the department's heavy urban rescue team. Ultimately, it was a five-alarm emergency.

"There were people with blackened, sooty faces. Some bloody. They looked in shock. They were kind of wandering aimlessly," Alioto said.

Some workers were carrying out their Falk co-workers.

A triage site was set up to sort through the severity of injuries. Then the effort turned to fighting the fire.

Nearby businesses were pressed into service.

The Palermo's Pizza plant became a gathering place, with Falk workers signing in when they arrived so they could be accounted for.

While they waited for more direction, Palermo's workers served them pizza and coffee.

"It was pretty quiet," said Liz Bentzler, a quality auditor at the Palermo's plant. "Very surreal."

Falk workers were eventually loaded onto a dozen Milwaukee County Transit System buses and taken to nearby Miller Park. As they arrived at the stadium, some still looked shaken, and they walked in with the assistance of co-workers.

Later, worried families streamed into the stadium looking for loved ones, their faces stricken.

Dena Cahala beamed when she saw her husband, Glen, safe and talking on a cell phone. But her elation was tempered by her husband's fears for co-workers.

"I can't tell you how sad this is," said Glen Cahala, who was in the administrative building. "I just hope everyone is OK. I can't think about what this means for some families."

No foul play suspected

The building is part of a complex that covers 61 acres, with 1.5 million square feet of buildings. In all, there were about 600 people working at the complex at the time of the explosion. The building that exploded is actually two structures that are connected, said Evan Zeppos, who was handling public relations for Falk late Wednesday. One, called the Annex, was used for storage of component parts used in the manufacturing process. The other, known as the 2-2 building, was used largely as a maintenance facility.

For hours, it was unclear how many people had been in the building when the explosion occurred.

And whether everyone had gotten out.

Law enforcement officials ultimately interviewed some 500 workers and witnesses, trying to sort out the details of what had happened. Hegerty would later say the investigation would take at least a week, but that it "appeared to be a tragic, accidental situation."

No foul play. No crime.

Just tragedy.

Mayor Tom Barrett, who coincidentally had toured the plant the day before, called the blast a "serious tragedy for Falk, for (parent company) Rexnord, for the city of Milwaukee. And I would ask the citizens of Milwaukee to remember the families in their prayers."

Speaking at a news conference at Miller Park, he said investigators did not know how much time had elapsed between the time the propane leak was discovered and the blast.

Barrett said that the city conducted an inspection of the plant on Sept. 14 and found some safety violations.

"They were few and minor, and they were corrected," the mayor said.

Several employees said the plant was very safety conscious. There always seemed to be safety training and drills, they said.

Machinist Robert Long, 46, predicted a quick recovery for Falk, where he has worked for 15 years.

"It will be up and running before you think," Long said.

In briefings through the day, officials laid out what it took to manage the scene. About 125 Milwaukee firefighters were sent to the scene in 34 different vehicles. In addition, 52 Milwaukee police officers arrived, plus 25 detectives. The response also included a host of private ambulances, state and federal officials, and the American Red Cross.

City crews checked nearby bridges for structural damage but did not find any problems. Building inspectors also began visiting homes in nearby neighborhoods, where some windows had been shattered.

By 5 p.m., the search was complete. No one else was missing, although Falk set up a hotline, at (414) 643-2420, for its workers to call to get more information.

Two hours later, Falk employees gathered at Wisconsin State Fair Park. In a brief, emotional meeting, David Doerr, Falk Corp.'s president, assured workers they would be paid while the company regroups.

"They just told us to hang in there," said Michael Kleczka, a third-shift worker.

A day earlier, the meeting would have been a family reunion.

Wednesday night, it was a family in mourning.

LINK: A hint of trouble, then tragedy

It was strange that I felt something that killed people.

-Mr. Joseph

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cavuto smears Krugman: ‘You Are Lying To People’

Neil Cavuto is a piece of garbage... Thanks to Think Progress...

Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman went on Fox News this afternoon to talk about his new article in Rolling Stone Magazine, “How the Super-Rich Are Screwing America.”

Krugman’s article is about how income inequality is getting worse and, as a result, even though some aggregate economic indicators are positive, most people aren’t benefiting. Cavuto told Krugman, “Here’s what I’m saying that you’re doing: You are lying to people.” Cavuto claims that income inequality isn’t “dramatically worse now than 10 years ago, 20 years ago.”

Actually, Krugman is completely right: things are dramatically worse now than 10 or 20 years ago. Here’s a chart from the Economic Policy Institute that tracks the ratio of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans to median income in the United States, a standard measure of income inequality

Full transcript:

CAVUTO: Here’s what I’m saying that you’re doing: You are lying to people. That’s what I think that you’re doing.

KRUGMAN: I haven’t heard a lie yet. But, look, if that’s the way you want to do it, I mean, fair and balanced, go all the way. Look, c’mon, the fact of the matter is–

CAVUTO: No, no, you don’t have to be snide. You have to be factual.

KRUGMAN: You’re being snide.

CAVUTO: No, no, you’re mentioning good data. You’re saying there’s a growing divide between the haves and have nots. Others have argued that very effectively and very eloquently, just like you. All I’m saying is that the math that applied now, can’t you apply it in other periods, when there have been Democratic presidents who’ve had the same dislocations? You’re saying that it’s somehow dramatically worse now than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago?

KRUGMAN: Yeah, actually, it is dramatically worse now than it was 10 years, 20 years ago. All of the measures of inequalities have just gone off the charts. It didn’t start with Bush — and I actually say that if anybody, you know, buy Rolling Stone, read the article — it actually starts even before Reagan, so this is not just Bush. The point of the matter is that, when, in these last five years, as it’s becomes clear that this is a really growing problem, that most people are not sharing in the economy’s growth, the policies of Bush have been at every point to push that inequality further.

LINK: Cavuto to Krugman: ‘You Are Lying To People’

-Mr. Joseph

Bush Sr. sheds some tears

I figured this was news... Crooks and Liars found it...

Former President George H.W. Bush broke down in tears as he cited his son, Gov. Jeb Bush, as an example of leadership.Bush was addressing lawmakers, his son's top administrators, and state workers gathered in the House chamber Monday for the last of the governor's leadership forums.

He said he was proud of how his son handled losing the 1994 governor's race to popular incumbent Democrat Lawton Chiles and vaguely referred to dirty tricks in the campaign….read on

VIDEO / LINK: Bush Sr. sheds some tears

Olberman did a long segment on this last night. Apparently Jeb was the intellect of the family and he was supposed be the Presidential Candidate...

-Mr. Joseph

Link of the Day: World-O-Crap

World-O-Crap Blog

This site has got some great crap on it...

-Mr. Joseph

The “Democrat Plan To Diminish FOX News?”

I just thought Crooks and Liars did a great job putting this together.

This should be rich. After Barney Franks smack-down of Chris Wallace the other day, Ailes just can't resist the temptation to swing back. Maybe they'll address the increasing use (#10) of the term "Democrat Party" as tool to diminish the Democratic Party, too? Or the obvious FOX News practice of asking partisan & sandbagging questions of Democrats and sycophantic & ass-kissing questions of Republicans? Or the unprofessional attacks and smearing of Nancy Pelosi? Nah…they'll probably ignore those.

LINK: The “Democrat Plan To Diminish FOX News?”

UPDATE (2/6/07):
Another FNC Promo: The Only Cable News Net Without "The Usual Left-Wing Bias"

"Fair and Balanced"?
-Mr. Joseph

The Apocalypse (Now?)

Crooks and Liars recorded this clip...

On Scarborough Country, the panel of pundits talked about the possible Armageddon in Iraq with al-Sadr in the middle of everything.

I wonder if the right wing punditry class will look to lock up the NY Times because they leaked info that could cause a regional war in the Middle East? Oh wait, I forgot. The Bush administration were the leakers that made al-Maliki look weak to the Times—which caused him to diss Bush–so that's not really a problem. But they did agree not to divide Iraq into three parts

-Mr. Joseph

O’Reilly Momentarily Joins ‘War on Christmas,’ Says His Show Is Gearing Up ‘For The Holidays’

In additon to the screencapture above, more evidence has been captured by Think Progress. Thanks to them for this priceless clip...

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly — who has said the phrase “Happy Holidays” is “insulting to Christian America” — announced that his show is gearing up “for the holidays.” After an awkward pause, O’Reilly apparently remembered that we are in the middle of a “War on Christmas” and tried to fix his mistake. He added, “…and Christmas and Chanukah.”

O’Reilly didn’t fully recover from his gaffe, stumbling over his own e-mail address and reassuring viewers, “I know my own [web] address.”


How about the website where there is no jabberwocky? Mr. Transition strikes again. Mr. Segue, here I am. - Gear up for the holidays…and Christmas and Chanukah. And uh, Talking Points Memo. Please e-mail us with pithy comments: OReilly@foxnews co — I know my own address.

LINK: O’Reilly Momentarily Joins ‘War on Christmas,’ Says His Show Is Gearing Up ‘For The Holidays’

Ridiculous... A Freudian Slip?
-Mr. Joseph

Right-Wing Attack On Pelosi Over ‘Union Hypocrisy’ Systematically Debunked

Thankfully, Think Progress put this smear campaign to rest...

House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made passing critical labor reforms, like raising the minimum wage and enacting the Employee Free Choice Act, a priority for the 110th Congress. To distract from that effort, right-wing media outlets are now engaged in an effort to tar Pelosi as anti-worker.

The conservative claim, initiated by Hoover Institution fellow Peter Schweizer, is that Pelosi and her husband are guilty of hypocrisy over workers’ rights because they own a vineyard in Napa Valley that is non-union. The claim has filtered up through the blogs to Fox News and conservative print outlets like Investor’s Business Daily.

Last night, the ABC News affiliate in San Francisco filed an investigative report that systematically debunks the charge.

Here are the key facts:

1) Pelosi treats her workers better than unionized vineyard workers. “The Pelosis pay more than union workers are paid in the same valley — that from the pastor at St. Helena’s Catholic Church, a well known advocate for farm workers who’s involved in labor negotiations with the same labor manager the Pelosis use. … Monsignor Brenkle says the Pelosis pay a $1.25 an hour more than workers at Napa’s biggest union winery. … Of the more than 300 vineyards, fewer than four are union, and most of the farm workers in the Napa Valley get paid better.”

2) Pelosi is prohibited by law from helping her workers unionize. If Pelosi wanted to have union workers, “she could not ask the union for a contract. It’s illegal and has been since 1975.” Marc Grossman of the United Farm Workers Union explains: “It is patently illegal for any grower to even discuss a union contract, which is the only way you can supply union workers, without the workers first having voted in a state conducted secret ballot election.”

An ABC News reporter asked Peter Schweizer “if he had researched those facts before he called Pelosi a hypocrite.” Schweitzer responded, “It’s not my responsibility to go and find out how every single particular circumstance is handled on the Pelosi vineyard.” Why burden yourself with the facts?

VIDEO / LINK: Right-Wing Attack On Pelosi Over ‘Union Hypocrisy’ Systematically Debunked

Take that, Peter Schweizer!

-Mr. Joseph

MSNBC, Malkin, Drudge, and C-SPAN caller smear Pres. Carter

From Think Progress...

During an interview, an anonymous C-SPAN viewer called former President Jimmy Carter “a bigot and a racist and an anti-Semite,” and accused him of “cozying up with every dictator, thug, Islamic terrorist there is.”

Video of the exchange is being promoted by several popular right-wing websites, including the Drudge Report and Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air.

Apparently, the rantings of this random C-SPAN viewer are considered “news.” MSNBC has already run two segments today on this irrelevant non-story, one titled “Carter Controversy” and another called, “Pres. Carter: Anti-Semetic?”

LINK: MSNBC Airs Multiple Segments On C-SPAN Caller Smearing President Carter

From Hot Air...
Carter went on to reject the charge “with enthusiasm” and a cheesy grin on his face.
Michelle Malkin is a bitch. Drudge had the decency not to make a comment.

The whole thing is disgusting. Jimmy Carter should be remembered as the most dignified U.S. President of recent times.

-Mr. Joseph

Gore Rips into Bush; Answers Tough Questions

From Think Progress...

On NBC, former Vice President Al Gore called Iraq the “worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States.” He urged President Bush “to try to separate out the personal issues of being blamed in history for this mistake and instead recognize it’s not about him. It’s about our country and we all have to find a way to get our troops home and to prevent a regional conflagration there.”


GORE: The fact is, this is a very bad situation. Our country has to find a way to get our troops out as quickly as possible without making the situation even worse in the manner of our leaving.

LAUER: It’s described by some as cut and stay as opposed to cut and run. Does it [the Baker-Hamilton report] do enough to acknowledge the results of the mid-term elections and the message voters sending this administration — if these are listened to, these recommendations?

GORE: Well, the report this morning is actually one of several studies. There is one in the Pentagon. There has been reportedly been one in the White House itself. They are all basically saying the same thing, Matt. This is an utter disaster. This worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States. We as a nation have to find a way, in George Mitchell’s words, to manage a disaster. But I would urge the president not to — to try to separate out the personal issues of being blamed in history for this mistake and instead recognize it’s not about him. It’s about our country and we all have to find a way to get our troops home and to prevent a regional conflagration there.

VIDEO / LINK: Gore To Bush On Iraq: It’s Not About You


Also, from


A former vice president tells the Truth, ignites a global debate, and suddenly looks like a dark-horse candidate. presents the complete Al Gore Q&A, including what he really thinks about George W. Bush.

So if you decide to run, do you think we would see the Al Gore from the movie? Or the Al Gore from 2000?
Well, I don’t plan to run. I don’t plan to run. And I don’t expect to run.

How many times a day does somebody ask you this?
Well, I’m doing a lot of interviews and it’s on the list of questions. For every one of them. And I appreciate that. I appreciate that people think enough of me still in that world to ask that question. It’s true that I haven’t, uh, gotten to the point where I am willing to completely rule it out for all time. But, that is really more a matter of the internal shifting of gears. I’m not making plans to run again.

But you’re not ruling it out?
Uh… no. [smiles]

Do you know if President Bush has seen the movie yet?
Well, he claimed that would not see it. That’s why I wrote the book. He’s a reader.

What page do you think he’s on?
I would encourage him to see the movie and read the book. I wish that he would.

Don’t you find it appalling that he won’t?
Well, you know, he’s probably no more objective about me than I am about him.

So have you been offered any other movie parts?
Yes! I actually just performed a voice-over role in a movie last week. I am reprising my role as a disembodied head in Futurama, which is being made into a movie. There are a significant number of people who appear not to know or care that I was Vice President of the United States, but who are very tuned into the fact that I uttered the immortal line, “I have ridden the mighty moonworm.”

And that’s so much more important. So do you think you’ll get an Oscar nomination?
For the disembodied head?

For An Inconvenient Truth.
Well, I think the movie deserves one. I’m not eligible; the movie is. But I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it.

Do you think you have ever been more popular?
Ahhhh. I think non-candidates are inherently more popular than candidates.

What is your relationship with the Clintons like now?
Good. Fine. Uh, I saw him today. We see them every once in a while.

Do you like her?
Sure. We worked together for 8 years, and uh, I think she’s, uh… very capable.

Could she win?
I’m not gonna get drawn into speculation about the potential candidates in 2008.

Okay, then let me ask you this. If you had to have a drink with someone tonight, and it was Bill or Hillary, you couldn’t pick both but you had to pick one, whom would you pick?
Well, Bill doesn’t drink.

Are you sure?
I’m pretty sure, yeah. So, if that were the criterion, to have a drink with them and she’s the only one that does, then it would be her. You know, it’s not the same now as it was, of course. A lot of water under the bridge. But we have been through a lot together and I wish them both well.

Do you want your daughter Karenna to go into politics?
I want her to do what she wants to do. I think her judgment is so good, and if she were to decide to go into politics, she would be soooo good. If I had half of the skills that she has, I would definitely be in my second term as president right now.

What does she have that you don’t have?
Perfect pitch.

Okay, on to 9-11. What were you really feeling? Was there a part of you that felt a sense of relief that you weren’t in charge that day?
You mean a sense of relief that I didn’t have to deal with it? Oh no. Not at all. Not for one second. Not for one second. Why would I? I mean, well first of all, it just didn’t occur to me to feel anything like that. What did occur to me was to feel what every American felt, the outrage and anger and righteous anger, and support for the President at a time of danger… And, honestly, I was focused on the reality of the situation. And I wasn’t president, so, you know, it wasn’t about me. Now, I do wish, now that we have some distance from the events, and we have all this knowledge about what this administration did do, I certainly feel that I wish that it had been handled differently, and I do wish that I had somehow been able to prevent some of the catastrophic mistakes that were made.

Do you feel that we would be safer today if you had been president on that day?
Well, no one can say that the 9-11 attack wouldn’t have occurred whoever was president.

Really? How about all the warnings?
That’s a separate question. And it’s almost too easy to say, “I would
have heeded the warnings.” In fact, I think I would have, I know I would have. We had several instances when the CIA’s alarm bells went off, and what we did when that happened was, we had emergency meetings and called everybody together and made sure that all systems were go and every agency was hitting on all cylinders, and we made them bring more information, and go into the second and third and fourth level of detail. And made suggestions on how we could respond in a more coordinated, more effective way. It is inconceivable to me that Bush would read a warning as stark and as clear [voice angry now] as the one he received on August 6th of 2001, and, according to some of the new histories, he turned to the briefer and said, “Well, you’ve covered your ass.” And never called a follow up meeting. Never made an inquiry. Never asked a single question. To this day, I don’t understand it. And, I think it’s fair to say that he personally does in fact bear a measure of blame for not doing his job at a time when we really needed him to do his job. And now the Woodward book has this episode that has been confirmed by the record that George Tenet, who was much abused by this administration, went over to the White House for the purpose of calling an emergency meeting and warning as clearly as possible about the extremely dangerous situation with Osama bin Laden, and was brushed off! And I don’t know why—honestly—I mean, I understand how horrible this Congressman Foley situation with the instant messaging is, okay? I understand that. But, why didn’t these kinds of things produce a similar outrage? And you know, I’m even reluctant to talk about it in these terms because it’s so easy for people to hear this or read this as sort of cheap political game-playing. I understand how it could sound that way. [Practically screaming now] But dammit, whatever happened to the concept of accountability for catastrophic failure? This administration has been by far the most incompetent, inept, and with more moral cowardice, and obsequiousness to their wealthy contributors, and obliviousness to the public interest of any administration in modern history, and probably in the entire history of the country!

But how do you really feel?
(cracks up)

What’s the nicest thing you can say about George Bush?
He made a terrific appointment of Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Ok, Is there a second best thing?
I can’t think of another one, actually.

When you see the state things are in now, don’t you feel an obligation to run?
Well, I don’t think I have to apologize for devoting my life to trying to solve the most serious challenge our civilization’s ever faced. But I do understand the nature of the question, and as I said, I haven’t completely ruled it out. It’s just that I don’t expect to—and I don’t really believe that that is necessarily the best use of my skills and experience. [sticks his tongue out and crosses his eyes]

Do you like yourself more now? Do you have more fun now?
Well, you know the old Kris Kristofferson song that Janis Joplin made famous, “Me and Bobby McGee”? It has a great line: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. There’s some aspects of that involved here.

What kind of freedom do you feel now that you didn’t feel when you were running?
You know my all time favorite Onion headline—you read The Onion?—sometime in the summer of 2001, the lead story on the front page had a picture of Tipper and me, and the headline was, “Gores Enjoying Best Sex of Their Lives.” And she said, “How did they know?”

Do you have any advice on keeping a marriage together?
I think basically Tipper is the key to it.

Yeah. Love is such a complicated force, I don’t have the words to speak intelligently about it. I don’t even want to try to universalize what feels true to me, because everybody’s different and—

Yeah, but you know what? A lot of people are real different. You’re devoted. People look at you two and you never wonder if there’s anything stupid going on. What is it about you two?
Well, I think that communicating clearly, and making intelligent decisions about the time that you set aside for one another, not time with you and your spouse and the entire family. That’s also very important, but it doesn’t count in that category of time you need for the relationship itself. Communicating clearly, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. That’s just really important. And if you need help, get help.

Have you been to therapy?
We went in the aftermath of our son’s accident. We had family therapy. And you know, Tipper has a graduate degree in psychology, and she has had a fairly intensive psychiatric practice for 40 years—with one patient. I’m seriously not joking when I say the secret is mostly her. She’s just an amazing partner in life.

What’s the last really romantic thing you did for her?
I made her an iTunes list that communicated things that are important.

What was on it?
That’s too personal.

How often do you think about 2000?
Uhhhh… (feigned shock) The 2000 election?

Yes, that little tiny thing that happened in American history.
I’d almost forgotten! Oh, gosh.

You are so much more relaxed now. I think you’re having more fun this way.
Um, compared to what?

To being a candidate.
Gee, how could anything be more fun than that?


Mr. Gore, the Sierra Club, and are all making pleas for people to host screenings of An Inconvenient Truth at their homes...

This man should be our President right now...

-Mr. Joseph

Feingold Argues Emergence of Al Qaeda Leader Shows ‘Insanity’ Of Misplaced Priorities

From Think Progress...

On NBC’s Meet the Press, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) argued that the broader al Qaeda network is gaining strength as a result of the Iraq war. Feingold cited Somalia, where an individual listed by the U.S. State Department as a suspected al Qaeda collaborator was yesterday named as the new leader of a militia that has seized control of Somalia’s capital...

Full transcript:

FEINGOLD: Our number one moral responsibility is to protect the American people — to focus on those who attacked us on 9/11, to not be distracted into a situation where even the administration did not have Iraq as one of the 45 countries that was connected with al Qaeda.

Our number one responsibility is to protect the American people from being killed by terrorists. Iraq has very little to do with that at this point. Iraq is obviously a place where they’re training people, but the idea of standing up and keeping a military involvement forever in Iraq will actually weaken the American people’s ability to go after terrorists who, frankly, look like they’re taking over Somalia right now.

You know, Tim, today it was announced that a guy named Hassan Dahir Aweys is now the head of the government that has taken over in Mogadishu in Somalia. He is on the State Department’s terrorist list. He is known as an al Qaeda operative, or somebody that is connected with al Qaeda. While we were asleep at the switch, while we were bogged down in Iraq, while we were all focused on Iraq as the be all and end all of our American foreign policy, we are losing the battle to al Qaeda because we’re not paying attention.

I asked [Coordinator for Counter Terrorism in the State Department] Ambassador Crumpton at a hearing the other day, how many people in our federal government are working full time on the problem in Somalia? He said one full time person. We’ve spent $2 million in Somalia in the last year while we’re spending $2 billion a week in Iraq. This is insanity if you think about what the priorities are of those who have attacked us and those who are likely to attack us in the future.

VIDEO / LINK: VIDEO: Feingold Argues Emergence of Al Qaeda Leader Shows ‘Insanity’ Of Misplaced Priorities

St. Paul Pioneer Press has more...
Feingold faults Bush on Somalia policy

Returning from a recent trip to Africa, Sen. Russ Feingold faulted the Bush administration for what he called a failure to develop a policy on Somalia, even as he praised U.S. efforts to combat AIDS on the continent.

Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who will lead the Senate Foreign Relations African Affairs subcommittee next year, visited Ethiopia and Kenya, two countries that neighbor Somalia, during a weeklong trip. An Islamic militia has taken over much of Somalia, including the capital, and the country's prime minister said this week his troops were bracing for war.

"The stakes are very high for us," Feingold said in a telephone interview.

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., agreed the African nation needs more attention from the U.S.

Coleman said "that a major problem with U.S. policy on Somalia in recent history has been its absence."

"A failed state in this part of the world would be a security threat to our nation, and we need a robust strategy to ensure that this does not happen," Coleman said.

Feingold warned that the militants could have an impact not just in Somalia but in the entire region. The U.S. has said the Islamic movement has links to al-Qaida, which Islamic leaders deny.

"So this is just the kind of situation that we should be paying real attention to, instead of only obsessing about Iraq," Feingold said. "Our failure to have a policy in this area is a threat to the American people, and our government has a very serious responsibility to turn this around."

The State Department responded by referring to remarks made last week by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, who said the U.S. is working with all sides to prevent Somalia from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

Feingold won passage in October of a defense bill amendment, co-sponsored by Coleman, requiring the U.S. government to coordinate a comprehensive strategy for Somalia and the region.

Feingold said Tuesday that U.S. policy should be to try to get negotiations going between the current secular government, known as the transitional federal government, and the Union of Islamic Courts, the umbrella group behind the militia, to create a coalition government in Somalia. The U.S. has supported such a dialogue, but Feingold argued it hasn't done enough to start one.

In Minnesota's Somali community, the largest in the United States, American policy is a huge concern, said Omar Jamal, executive director of the St. Paul-based Somali Justice Advocacy Center.

"Somalis feel that the administration hasn't done anything on the Somali issue," Jamal said. "The administration's main focus was the war on terror, and right in front of our eyes, Somalia is run over by Taliban-style extremists. The administration hasn't done squat."

Meanwhile, Feingold praised the impact that President Bush's AIDS initiative has had on the countries he visited. The initiative, announced in 2003, targets 15 countries that have about half of the world's 39 million people who are HIV-positive.

"It's hard to ever describe this issue as good news, but I am proud of the effect that the president's program is having," Feingold said. "We received profuse thanks for the very significant funding increases that are going into it.

"It appears that in both Ethiopia and Kenya, the government is fully behind the efforts and sees the American bilateral aid as being one of the most important things."

Feingold said that while more must be done, the progress has been striking. He said he visited a slum in Kenya in 2002, where he witnessed a "pitiful" program to help people with AIDS.

"There was absolutely no money whatsoever for treatment," he said. "Now there is significant funding — not enough — but at least significant funding to treat people who already have AIDS."

LINK: Feingold faults Bush on Somalia policy

Make a note, Russ will be on Countdown tonight with Keith Olberman to discuss what the Iraq Study Group had to say...

-Mr. Joseph

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gov. Doyle not celebrating Festivus this year

The holiday season will be different for Gov. Jim Doyle this year, because he won't be celebrating Festivus any more.

Festivus is an "airing of grievances" holiday created by character Frank Constanza on the long-running sitcom Seinfeld - a show that Doyle used to avidly watch.

Not any more, Doyle said. Recently, Seinfeld star Michael Richards, who played "Kramer," landed in hot water when he launched racial epithets at audience members during a stand-up show. Since then, Doyle said he hasn't watched an episode, and he doesn't plan to any time soon. And he won't be celebrating Festivus this year because of Richards.

"It will be a long time before I watch one again," Doyle said. "It was totally outrageous and for a total Seinfeld fan, I'm deflated by it. I'm not going to watch a show with a guy who's so openly racist. I'm not celebrating Festivus this year, I'm afraid, because of Michael Richards."

LINK: Gov. Doyle not celebrating Festivus this year

-Mr. Joseph

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Feingold Contemplates VP Run in '08

From Crooks and Liars...
U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold admitted Monday he'd have to seriously think about it if asked to be a presidential running mate.

But Feingold's flirtation with the White House has given way to renewed enthusiasm for life in the Senate, now that there's a Democratic majority.

At a listening session in Onalaska City Hall, Feingold talked enthusiastically about chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee's Constitution Subcommittee - and getting to hold hearings about the loss of habeas corpus. Read on…

LINK: Feingold Wants to Focus on Habeas Corpus, Contemplates VP in ‘08

Well, this is definitely some good news!

-Mr. Joseph

Kramer's "Rage" broke this story...
Michael Richards exploded in anger as he performed at a famous L.A. comedy club last Friday, hurling racial epithets that left the crowd gasping, and TMZ has obtained exclusive video of the ugly incident.

Richards, who played the wacky Cosmo Kramer on the hit TV show "Seinfeld," appeared onstage at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood. Kyle Doss, an African-American, told TMZ he and some friends were in the cheap seats and he was playfully heckling Richards when suddenly, the comedian lost it.

The camera started rolling just as Richards began his attack, screaming at one of the men, "Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f***ing fork up your ass."

Richards continued, "You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now motherf**ker. Throw his ass out. He's a nigger! He's a nigger! He's a nigger! A nigger, look, there's a nigger!"

The crowd is visibly and audibly confused and upset. Richards responds by saying, "They're going to arrest me for calling a black man a nigger."

One of the men who was the object of Richard's tirade was outraged, shouting back "That's un-f***ing called for, ain't necessary."

After the three-minute tirade, it appears the majority of the audience members got up and left in disgust.

Attempts to reach Richards' reps were unsuccessful.
LINK: "Kramer's" Racist Tirade -- Caught on Tape

YouTube Video:

LINK: Kramer's Racist Tirade -- Caught on Tape!!!

He then appeared on the Late Show with Dave Letterman. Jerry Seinfeld asked him to come on and explain...


LINK: Michael Richards (Kramer) apologizes on Letterman

VIDEO / LINK: Crooks and Liars: Say It Ain’t So, “Kramer”

I watched his apology and he was visibly sick about what he had done. I saw remorse and I believe he was being genuine. And I can't stand that Al Sharpton "rejected" his apology.

-Mr. Joseph

Ex-Gov. of WI to Run in '08?

From Yahoo! News...
He's far less known than some of his potential rivals, but former Cabinet secretary and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson says he'll form a committee allowing him to test the waters for seeking the Republican nomination for president.

Thompson says health care will be one of the top three issues in the next presidential election and that his background heading the Health and Human Services Department makes him a natural fit. The other issues, he says, will be energy independence and the war in Iraq.


He resigned as HHS secretary in December 2004 shortly after Bush won a second term.

Born in Elroy, Wis., Thompson prided himself on his small-town roots — his father was a grocer. Thompson introduced himself to voters during his first gubernatorial campaign in 1986 as a proud son of Elroy, "located between Kendall and Union Center, north of Wonewoc and south of Hustler."

LINK: Ex-Bush aide to explore presidential run

LINK: Another GOP hat tossed in the ring

-Mr. Joseph

CNN's Beck to first-ever Muslim congressman: "[W]hat I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies' "

This one is all over the blogosphere... Media Matters picked it up first...


From the November 14 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: History was made last Tuesday when Democrat Keith Ellison got elected to Congress, representing the great state of Minnesota. Well, not really unusual that Minnesota would elect a Democrat. What is noteworthy is that Keith is the first Muslim in history to be elected to the House of Representatives. He joins us now.

Congratulations, sir.

ELLISON: How you doing, Glenn? Glad to be here.

BECK: Thank you. I will tell you, may I -- may we have five minutes here where we're just politically incorrect and I play the cards face up on the table?

ELLISON: Go there.

BECK: OK. No offense, and I know Muslims. I like Muslims. I've been to mosques. I really don't believe that Islam is a religion of evil. I -- you know, I think it's being hijacked, quite frankly.

With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, "Let's cut and run." And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."

And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.

ELLISON: Well, let me tell you, the people of the Fifth Congressional District know that I have a deep love and affection for my country. There's no one who is more patriotic than I am. And so, you know, I don't need to -- need to prove my patriotic stripes.

BECK: I understand that. And I'm not asking you to. I'm wondering if you see that. You come from a district that is heavily immigrant with Somalians. And I think it's wonderful, honestly, I think it is really a good sign that you are a -- you could be an icon to show Europe, this is the way you integrate into a country. I think the Somalians coming out and voting is a very good thing. With that --

ELLISON: I'd agree with you.

VIDEO / LINK: CNN's Beck to first-ever Muslim congressman: "[W]hat I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies' "

LINK: Crooks and Liars: When is CNN gonna dump this guy?

-Mr. Joseph