January 7th, 2009

MISC - moustache

Wrongful death claim names BART police officer

The BART police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man early New Year's Day could have done it intentionally or by dire mistake, and a key factor is whether the officer was armed with a Taser that day, an attorney representing the dead man's family said Tuesday.

The officer, identified as Johannes Mehserle in a wrongful death claim, is seen on several recently released cell phone videos of the Fruitvale station incident standing over Oscar Grant III, at which point
the officer appears to draw his gun from its holster on his right hip and point it at Grant, who is facedown on the station floor
. Within moments a gunshot is heard and, in a video released Monday night, the officer looks up and down twice, then briefly touches his face with his hand.

Many online viewers of the video have posted comments speculating the officer may have thought he was reaching for a Taser when he grabbed his gun, suggesting he meant only to stun Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man.

"In the case I'm involved in, it doesn't matter if he was reaching for a Taser or not," said civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing Grant's family in a $25 million wrongful death claim filed Tuesday against BART and Mehserle. "At the end of the day, it's what he did that counts."

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The Man in the Middle

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Buzzzzzz. The cell phone rings again and Chuck Schumer flips it open. “I figured it out,” he says without preamble. “George Washington. If George Washington got indicted, you wouldn’t pounce on the guy—you’d say he served honorably and now it’s time for Alaskans to move on.” Snap. The phone shuts. It’s 10 days before the election. Schumer, New York’s senior senator and the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is overseeing 35 Senate races. He is explaining—trying to explain—his strategy in a handful of the closest ones. But the phone keeps interrupting. He particularly worries about Alaska, where at this very moment a jury is deciding the fate of the Republican incumbent, Ted Stevens, who was indicted for taking bribes. Buzz. “They’re still deliberating? Keep me posted.” Snap. In most places, a bribery indictment would spell doom. But Alaskans, like Louisianans, seem to regard corruption in their politicians as an endearing rather than a disqualifying trait: the race is tight. Schumer must figure out how to persuade them to retire Stevens, but without being seen as doing so. Should Alaskans decide that meddlesome outsiders are scheming to do in their beloved “Uncle Ted,” spite alone will carry him to victory. That’s where George Washington comes in. An ad treating Stevens with similar reverence—a call for change made more in sorrow than in anger—could do the trick, giving Alaskans “permission,” in the political argot, to vote Democratic. Such an ad would require just the right touch. In fact—Flip. “I want sign-off on the Stevens ad.” Snap—it could decide the race, if the jury doesn’t first.

More than any other Democrat in Congress, Schumer is responsible for his party’s gains over the past four years. From his perch atop the DSCC, he has focused his frenetic energy on rebuilding the caucus, and has tossed aside the committee chairman’s customary deference to the state parties in order to pick the candidates he sizes up as winners—an unpleasant business that has entailed relentlessly pursuing his sometimes-reluctant targets and bullying everyone else to the sidelines. Then he drills his charges on every facet of the campaign, from raising money to capturing media attention, a formula so scrupulously replicated that he has dubbed it the Schumer Method. Finally, he infuses them with a set of policy proposals, ranging from middle-class tax cuts to college-tuition tax deductions, that reflect his staunchly held political philosophy, best summed up as a rigorous fealty to the interests of the middle class. “When Chuck gets up in the morning, he’s thinking about the middle class,” Jon Tester, the Montana Democrat elected to the Senate in 2006, told me. “When he goes to bed, he’s thinking about it. When he writes books, he writes books about it. Maybe coincidentally, maybe not, his issues are issues that people in Montana find important. He focuses on values that everyone in the caucus can support.” During his first two-year cycle as DSCC chairman, in 2004–2006, by what looked like sheer dint of effort, Schumer took the caucus from a perilously small 44 seats to a narrow majority, and then reenlisted for another cycle. By last fall, it was clear he would deliver again. It was also clear, as Democrats gained momentum and the economic crisis cast his ideas about the middle class into sudden stark relief, that his influence was growing.

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'Paying no heed to what's right or wrong'

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Roland Burris should walk away from Barack Obama's Senate seat, according to an attorney who resigned from handling criminal appeals when Roland Burris was state attorney general after he ignored her plea that he was prosecuting an innocent man.

In 1992, Mary Brigid Kenney resigned because Burris refused to listen to her concerns that the office should back off from prosecuting the appeal of Rolando Cruz for the 1983 abduction, rape and murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico in DuPage County.

Kenney, an attorney for the Cook County Public Guardian, said Tuesday that Burris' acceptance of Gov. Blagojevich's appointment "brings to mind how, in the Cruz case, Mr. Burris failed to realize the ethical obligations of a criminal prosecutor and how, now he again fails to recognize the difference between right and wrong. . . . There is a cloud over his appointment. He should have declined it."

Ultimately, Cruz was acquitted. By then, DNA evidence linked Brian Dugan to the murder. Dugan, who is serving a life sentence for two other similar murders, is now awaiting trial in that case.
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White House Asked Howard To Stay In Blair House To Give ‘Some Plausible Reason’ For Refusing Obama»

In December, President-elect Obama asked the White House if he and his family could move into Blair House — the White House’s guest house — a week early, so that his daughters Malia and Sasha could start school. The White House rebuffed them, saying the house was already booked for another guest. A White House source added that “Blair House was appalled” by the request.
After weeks of speculation, the mystery guest that trumps the President-elect and his family has finally been revealed. The White House offered the house to John Howard, the former Prime Minister of Australia who is set to receive a Medal of Freedom. Instead of arranging other accommodations for Howard’s one-night stay, the Bush administration told the Obama family to stay in a hotel for two weeks. (Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, who are also receiving the Medal of Freedom, opted to find other accommodations.)
Last night on MSNBC’s “Countdown,” Bloomberg journalist Margaret Carlson revealed that when the White House turned down Obama’s request in early December, it had not yet even invited Howard to stay at the Blair House:
I reported…on December 11 and 12 that there were no foreign dignitaries booked into Blair House during that period of time. … I have the feeling they asked him [Howard] to come and stay so that there might be some plausible reason for not letting the Obamas stay there.
She also pointed out that Blair House has “119 rooms with 35 bathrooms. Howard wouldn’t even have to share a sink with the Obamas.” Watch it:
That the White House choose to prioritize the former prime minister of Australia over the incoming President of the United States emphasizes Bush’s sense of loyalty. Howard, a darling of the right wing, was one of Bush’s biggest cheerleaders whom Bush has called his “mate of steel” for standing with him on Iraq and being the only leader of an industrialized nation — besides Bush, of course — to refuse to sign the Kyoto Protocol.
Still, supplanting the incoming President with Howard seems like a final, petty kick in the teeth from Bush.
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at least i'm different
  • heather

*snort*

Reid: "I don’t work for Obama"



Democrats must be “very, very careful” to avoid overreaching and will not rubber-stamp President-elect Obama’s policies, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday.

In an interview with The Hill, Reid said it is essential for Obama and congressional Democrats to work closely with Republicans in the new Congress. He added that 2009 is very different from 1993, the last time Democrats controlled both Congress and the White House.

Back then, Reid said, Democrats had controlled the House for decades and behaved as though the opposition did not exist. This time around, their recent stint in the minority would give them a commitment to bipartisanship.

“Even though we’re one short of 60 [senators in the Democratic Conference], I don’t want to ever have to depend on cloture,” Reid said. “We may have to do that, but it will be with the support of a few Republicans.”

Reid, who lambasted the GOP-led Congress for being a rubber stamp for President Bush, indicated that he will not bow to the Obama administration.

Reid stated, “I don't believe in the executive power trumping everything... I believe in our Constitution, three separate but equal branches of government.”

“If Obama steps over the bounds, I will tell him. … I do not work for Barack Obama. I work with him,” he said.

In December, Vice President Dick Cheney said President-elect Obama will “appreciate” the expansion of the executive branch's power over the last eight years. During an interview on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, Cheney predicted that Obama will not cede that authority back to Congress.

While Cheney has been a regular at the Senate GOP policy lunches over the past eight years, Reid recently said Vice President-elect Biden will not be allowed to sit in while Democrats discuss legislative strategies over lunch. The move is part of Reid’s attempt to separate the executive and legislative branches, which moved in unison between 2001 and 2006.

The Democratic leader also defended Leon Panetta, Obama’s reported selection to head the CIA.

Reid said the Obama administration should have told lawmakers about the pick, saying incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel “would be the first to admit that he didn’t tell enough people on this. I talked to him [on Tuesday].”

Vice President-elect Joe Biden admitted Tuesday that the incoming administration made an error.

“I'm still a Senate man, I always think this way, and it’s always a good idea to talk to the requisite members of Congress,” Biden said. “It was just a mistake.”

Still, Reid believes Panetta, with whom he served in the House, should be embraced by senators: “There is nothing wrong with Leon Panetta.”

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) have voiced concern that Panetta lacks sufficient experience to head the agency. Feinstein is the Intelligence Committee chairwoman; Rockefeller led the panel during the last Congress.

Reid noted that Panetta has extensive experience in government, pointing out that he served as head of the Office of Management and Budget and as President Clinton’s chief of staff.

“Has he been a CIA agent? The answer is no,” Reid said. “Has he been in [CIA] briefings at the White House? The answer is yes. He is a very smart, very honest intellectual person.”

The 69-year-old Democrat has made phone calls to his colleagues to rally support for Panetta’s nomination.


more in the sauce.

Well, that's some tough talk. Good to know that Reid would never roll over for a president.



Heh.
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Photo: Presidents Past, President and Future

obamapresidents-mills
President Bush met in the Oval Office Wednesday with Former President George H.W. Bush, President-elect Sen. Barack Obama, Former President William J. Clinton and Former President Jimmy Carter. (Photo: Doug Mills/ The New York Times)

President-elect Barack Obama met in the Oval Office today with President Bush and three former occupants of the White House: former Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Obama called the meeting an “extraordinary gathering” and thanked President Bush for hosting the group.

“All the gentlemen here understand both the pressures and possibilities of this office, and for me to have the opportunity to get advice, good counsel and fellowship with these individuals is extraordinary and I’m very grateful to all of them. But again thank you, Mr. President, for hosting.”
07pres-480

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p.s sends shiiiiivers down my spine

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Debbie Did Dallas and Joe Does Tel Aviv

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From the AP:

The Ohio man, who became famous during the U.S. presidential campaign after asking Barack Obama about his tax plan, is heading to Israel as a war correspondent for a conservative Web site called pjtv.com.

Dubbed Joe the Plumber by McCain's campaign, Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher was held up as an example of an American worker who would be hurt economically by Obama's election.

Wurzelbacher says he'll spend 10 days covering the fighting and explaining why Israeli forces are mounting attacks against Hamas.

He tells WNWO-TV in Toledo that he wants go over there and let their 'Average Joes' share their story.

Zen Tree

Even the National Gallery Has One Now

National Portrait Gallery Gets Obama Poster

By Dave Itzkoff
Obama poster

Shepard Fairey’s ubiquitous illustration of President-elect Barack Obama, seen in rallies, parties, shop windows and construction sites throughout the 2008 election season, has found a permanent home. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., announced that it had acquired Mr. Fairey’s work for its collection. The portrait, a mixed-media stenciled collage that depicts Mr. Obama above the word “hope,” was created by Mr. Fairey, a Los Angeles-based artist known for rock-music album covers and a sticker campaign featuring the wrestler Andre the Giant. In a release, Martin E. Sullivan, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, said that the Obama poster was “an emblem of a significant election, as well as a new presidency.” The portrait is expected to be on display by Inauguration Day.

BONUS:
A slide show of works by Shepard Fairey can be found here.



Sauce
Reese Witherspoon
  • shibato

Ferrell taking Bush spoofs to Broadway, HBO



Will Ferrell, the man who invented "strategery" and other Bushisms, is taking his spoofs of the 43rd president to Broadway and HBO.

The "Saturday Night Live" veteran will star in "You're Welcome America: A Final Night With George W. Bush" at New York's Cort Theater, with previews in line for Inauguration Day.

The show will take a chronological look at Bush's life -- from his college days and time as the governor of Texas to the 2000 race for president and his two terms in office.

Ferrell, who poked fun at the president with his successful impersonations on "SNL," told CNN he likes that Bush "never thinks he's wrong."

"He's arrogant with a school-boy attitude, and combine that with the fact that he is commander in chief -- and, unfortunately, it's very funny."

He says viewers should "expect the unexpected" from the show -- and some goofy nicknames, something Bush is known to dole out to members of his administration.

The show will premiere on February 5 and run through March 15. HBO has also picked up the show, to air live on an undetermined date.

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Porn industry seeks federal bailout

Larry Flynt is asking for a bailout.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Another major American industry is asking for assistance as the global financial crisis continues: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis said Wednesday they will request that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry.

“The take here is that everyone and their mother want to be bailed out from the banks to the big three,” said Owen Moogan, spokesman for Larry Flynt. “The porn industry has been hurt by the downturn like everyone else and they are going to ask for the $5 billion. Is it the most serious thing in the world? Is it going to make the lives of Americans better if it happens? It is not for them to determine.”

Francis said in a statement that “the US government should actively support the adult industry's survival and growth, just as it feels the need to support any other industry cherished by the American people."

Flynt and Francis concede the industry itself is in no financial danger — DVD sales have slipped over the past year, but Web traffic has continued to grow.

But the industry leaders said the issue is a nation in need. "People are too depressed to be sexually active," Flynt said in the statement. "This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."

"With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind. It's time for congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America. The only way they can do this is by supporting the adult industry and doing it quickly."

So far, there has been no congressional reaction to the request.

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The R.N.C. Debate That Wasn’t

gop.elephant.dead
Can the Republican Party catch a break these days?

Six of the candidates running to be the party’s next leader were supposed to sit down this morning for a debate — the second this week. The forum had been pressed by some state Republican leaders who, given the tough straits the party is in these days, wanted to hear the six candidates talk about their prescriptions for the party in a public debate.

One small problem, which became clear as the secretary called the roll:

No quorum. Not enough Republicans had turned out to allow for the official convening of a meeting.

The party chairman, Mike Duncan, who is running for reelection, asked all outsiders – people who were not members of the Republican National Committee, which included everyone from party aides, committee staff and the reporters and camera crews set up in the back – to depart momentarily so the committee members on hand could discuss privately what to do.

Ten minutes later the doors opened again with the announcement that the outsiders would have to leave permanently; the event would take place as a closed-door session before the small number of committee members who turned out.

One bit of news for those who are following the intrigue: Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland and one of the candidates for party leader, won the endorsement of Jim Greer, the Florida Republican chairman who had been contemplating his own entry into the race.

The election of the next R.N.C. chairman will take place at the party’s winter meeting in late January.
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hard as rocks

It's all Jamie Lynn's fault..

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Mississippi has highest teen birth rate, CDC says

ATLANTA – Mississippi now has the nation's highest teen birth rate, displacing Texas and New Mexico for that lamentable title, a new federal report says. Mississippi's rate was more than 60 percent higher than the national average in 2006, according to new state statistics released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The teen birth rate for that year in Texas and New Mexico was more than 50 percent higher. The three states have large proportions of black and Hispanic teenagers — groups that traditionally have higher birth rates, experts noted. The lowest teen birth rates continue to be in New England, where three states have rates at roughly half the national average, which is 42 births per 1,000 teen women.

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SICK BURNS HERE

The Good, the Bad, and Joe Lieberman



The Obama tide lifted some clear winners, including polling savant Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, gun-shop owners, Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am, MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, and, of course, Oprah. As for the losers, Joe Lieberman tops the list.

Here on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the liberal capital of frizzy hair and encyclopedic grudges trailing back to the Spanish Civil War, many of my fellow comrades are still walking around with Obama buttons stuck to their fulsome bosoms. The election is over, victory was achieved, and yet they can’t bring themselves to take off their buttons. They may never take them off. Obama buttons and yes we can actionwear may become classic staples of Manhattan street fashion, like Ramones and CBGB T-shirts. That so many steel-wool cynics have developed a sentimental attachment to Obama buttons is testimony that everybody loves to identify with a winner, especially when they’ve been stigmatized as losers for so long, pelted with peanuts by Rush Limbaugh and every other caroler on the right. Noble failure is fine, until you make a habit of it, then you become a pathetic figure of fun. George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore’s loss in 2000, John Kerry’s loss in 2004, the eviction of Dan Rather from CBS, the financial hemorrhaging at The New York Times—each has been draped like an albatross around liberalism’s neck, the musty aroma becoming the signature scent of Nation subscribers, PBS viewers, and Wally Shawn fans. But then Obama won—won big and wide—and the cling of failure dissolved like the vines in The Sleeping Beauty, liberating the sun. Even the Clinton victories didn’t carry such exultation. It was almost scary, seeing so many New Yorkers smiling in the post-election afterglow, using facial muscles long buried under habitual scowling. That’s what winning does—it promotes cellular rejuvenation. Losing, however, results in a leakage of life force, shrinkage under the spotlight. That’s why the Republicans keep trying to tap into the legend of Ronald Reagan, hoping to extract one last vital drop of sap.

It doesn’t take a quantum mechanic to figure out who the conspicuous winners were in the election. Where the Hillary Clinton brain trust tried to roll each other down the bowling alley (with Clinton’s hapless chief strategist, Mark Penn, serving as the designated patsy), Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, and chief strategist, David Axelrod, conceived and executed the Obama electoral strategy with a supersonic hum and a minimum of bared ego. The first to grasp the portent of what was taking shape was the prophet of the Obama paradigm shift, the journalist/activist/online editor/blogger Al Giordano, who, as a student of the teachings and tactics of community organizer Saul Alinsky (whose Rules for Radicals is the guerrilla guide for domestic insurgents), divined the advantage that Obama’s small-donor base gave him against old-school juggernauts. In a prescient article for The Boston Phoenix in September 2007, a full year before the Democratic convention, Giordano saw a distant dot heading down the railroad tracks and perceived that the Hillary Is Inevitable story line was Old Hollywood, about to be overthrown by an emerging social grid. He foresaw “a different narrative than has ever occurred before—especially because most of Obama’s record-breaking campaign war chest comes from small donors.… Obama is raising campaign money faster than even the Clinton machine is. So the real surprise of the 2008 Democratic nomination contest is that, for the first time since Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 campaign, the upstart rival will be able to outspend the anointed Democratic front-runner.” Outspend and outmaneuver. “It is Obama’s history as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago—and the application of that experience to organizing his campaign—that is making the 2008 cycle distinct from previous ones. Where [Howard] Dean failed to convert his donor-activist base into effective organization, Obama is apparently writing the book on how to do it.” And although Dean’s 2004 campaign may have prematurely ruptured, Dean’s tenure as chairman of the Democratic National Committee was a triumph, the party’s nationwide victories a vindication of his 50-state strategy. He was able to bury “the Dean Scream,” for which he is hoarsely remembered, under a high note.

No shiny arrow shot swifter and loftier from obscurity to quotable authority than Nate Silver, whose FiveThirtyEight.com site became the expert sensation of the election season. (Five hundred thirty-eight is the sum of electoral-college votes up for contention.) Crunching poll numbers until they sang with clarity, Silver, a managing partner and sabermetrician at Baseball Prospectus and a former Daily Kos diarist, made many of the old pros look as if they were stuck in the previous century, milking cows. Not only did his disciplined models and microfine data mining command respect, his prognostications hit the Zen mark on Election Day. “This uncanny accuracy is the equivalent of dropping a penny from the top of a 50 story building and landing it in a shot glass,” John Cole wrote at Balloon Juice. “This is sick accurate.” Silver also became an instant cable-news savant, his geek-genius glasses and owlish mien worthy of a Starfleet sub-adjutant whose quadratic equations coolly foil an attack from a Romulan vessel while the senior officers are frantically poking at their touch screens. Combine blog cred and TV-niche stardom, and a fat book contract is the next-best thing to inevitable, and, sure enough, Silver scored a two-book contract said to be “in the neighborhood of $700,000,” which is a pretty nice neighborhood, especially these days when people are stockpiling spam. Able to move into an even nicer neighborhood is comedian Sarah Silverman, whose “Great Schlep” viral video campaign to noodge Jews to migrate to Florida to persuade their cranky grandparents to vote for Obama helped catapult her into a multi-million-dollar book deal. Some of Obama’s victory dust rubbed off on her, too. Contrast this with the sorry plight of Shelby Steele’s A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win, a book destined for the remainder bin of infamy as a case study in authorial hubris (Steele still won’t acknowledge he blew it) and the cost of becoming Super Glued to a losing argument.

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How Howard dislodged Obama

Umm, seeing as Howard is no longer Prime-Minister, would it have killed him to stay at the hotel?

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The secret is out. The man who kept US president-elect Barack Obama out of Blair House - the security home near the White House - was none other than former Australian prime minister John Howard.

Last month the Obamas asked the Bush administration if they could move into Blair House a fortnight early to get their daughters settled at their new schools.

But the word came back that it was not possible because foreign dignitaries had been booked in.

Now the Washington Post has revealed that the only dignitary staying overnight on January 12 is Mr Howard.

The following day Mr Howard - Bush's ally and "man of steel" - will, with former British PM Tony Blair and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the outgoing US President.

Meanwhile, the Obamas are staying at the Hay-Adams Hotel at Lafayette Park while they wait to move to Blair House.

Mr Blair and Mr Uribe were invited to stay at Blair House, but declined the invitation, a second White House official told the Post today.

Blair traditionally stays at the British Embassy and Uribe apparently found other accommodations, the official told the Post.

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Just when you think it can't get better...

Blagojevich May Show Up At Obama Inauguration



Embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich may end up attending the inauguration ceremonies for Barack Obama. Or he may not.

As Governor, Blagojevich was given two tickets to the historic affair by the inauguration committee. But at this juncture, his office says, he's not sure whether or not he will make an appearance.

"I don't know if he is planning on going at this time," said the governor's spokesman, Lucio Guerrero. "I don't think that decision has been made."

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Rofl I can't believe they're even considering it. The man's got cojones, I'll give him that. I hate him for being such a crook and running afoul of my beloved Obama & PFitz but I don't want him to be impeached because it would mean an end to The Rod Blagojevich Show.
peggy

Sold-out movie thwarts Bidens



He's a heartbeat away from the presidency, but that apparently didn't help Joe Biden get a movie ticket Saturday night.

Employees at the Regal Brandywine Cinemas say the vice president-elect and his wife, Jill, tried to attend the 7:45 showing of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" at the theater on Concord Pike but left after they were told the movie was sold out.

There's been no confirmation from the Biden camp, but the theater employees say they are sure it was him.

Inshirah Muhamut, an associate manager, said she closed her box-office line when she saw what appeared to be a Secret Service agent coming her way.

The man asked her about tickets for the movie, which stars Brad Pitt, then left.

A few minutes later, she said, the Bidens came into the lobby.

Jill Biden walked up to speak with Muhamut while Joe stood nearby.

"She was asking me about other shows, but they really wanted to see 'Benjamin Button,' " Muhamut said. "He was maybe five feet away, looking at her. He was standing with his other Secret Service men."

Remarkably, none of the other moviegoers appeared to notice. Employees said nobody mobbed Biden or called his name or asked for an autograph.

"It didn't seem many people recognized him," said employee Becky Gingrich, 21. "Honestly, I think people were just too wrapped up in themselves to notice."

The brush with Biden did give the employees a thrill, though.

"I was a little excited -- I'm not gonna lie," said Muhamut, a 21-year-old senior at West Chester University. "The Secret Service guy told me to calm down."

Muhamut plans to go to the Jan. 20 inauguration, so seeing the Bidens up close was a kick.

"I recognized him as soon as he came up," she said. "He had a black jacket and jeans on. He looked real casual. His wife had on a very stylish jacket."

Gingrich and Muhamut said the Bidens didn't ask for special treatment. They simply mulled over their movie options and left.

"We're just so crazy in here tonight [with patrons] that we would have had to go into the theater and move people around," Gingrich said.

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Cheney: It’s Just An ‘Urban Legend’ That I ‘Exceeded My Authority’ As Vice President»

 

cheney234.jpg

In an interview with CBS Radio today, Vice President Cheney claimed that he never “exceeded” his role as Vice President over the past eight years. It’s an “urban legend,” he insisted:

Nearing the end of eight years as Vice President, Dick Cheney bluntly dismissed the frequent suggestion that he was the one calling the shots in the White House. “It’s an urban legend,” he said. “It never happened.” […]

“This whole notion that somehow I exceeded my authority here, was usurping his authority, was simply not true.” Cheney said “there was never any question about who was in charge: it was George Bush and that’s how we operated.”

Cheney is, simply put, the most powerful vice president in history. Early in the Bush presidency, Cheney worked out a deal with Bush so he could be active in “whatever area the vice president feels he wants to be active in,” according to Chief of Staff Josh Bolten. “He has been pretty damn good at accumulating power,” remarked former secretary of state James Baker.

Here are just some examples of Cheney abusing his vice presidential powers:

– Argued he was not part of the executive branch but instead a “barnacle” hanging between the legislative and executive branch.

– Cheney’s office failed to provide data on its classification and declassification activities as required by Executive Order 12958. “Cheney’s office provided the information in 2001 and 2002, then stopped.”

– Top Cheney aide David Addington “typed a substitute signature line” for Alberto Gonzales on a memo re-authorizing Bush’s illegal wiretapping program.

– “The Cheney team had…technological supremacy over the National Security Council staff. That is to say, they could read their e-mails,” said former Colin Powell aide Lawrence Wilkerson.

– Documents prepared for the then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice were “routed outside the formal process” to Cheney.

– A Cheney lawyer told the Secret Service in September 2006 “to eliminate data on who visited Cheney at his official residence.”

In addition to his well-documented disregard for the rule of law, Cheney admitted last year that he doesn’t care what the public thinks. It is no wonder he leaves office with 23 percent of Americans saying he is the worst VP ever.
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' jules
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(no subject)

Sweet on Caroline
By MAUREEN DOWD



Ask not, you know, what your country can, like, do for you. Ask what you, um, can, you know, do for your country.

After a lifetime of shying away from the public spotlight, Caroline Kennedy asked herself what she could do for her country.

Her soft-spoken answer — to follow her father and two uncles and serve in the Senate — got her ripped to shreds in the, you know, press.

I know about “you knows.” I use that verbal crutch myself, a bad habit that develops from shyness and reticence about public speaking.

I always thought that Caroline and her brother, John, had special magic capital in America because of their heartbreaking roles in the Kennedy House of Atreus.

Joe Kennedy, the wily patriarch of the clan, had pioneered the use of Hollywood glamour in pursuit of Washington power. With his glossy pop-culture political magazine, George, John reversed that equation, using his stature as an American political prince to persuade Salma Hayek to pose on the cover of his magazine.

I wrote a column once saying that it seemed like a frivolous use of his time. I thought he should run for office and employ his special clout to make life better for Americans. He died before he had the chance.

So I found it bizarre that when Caroline offered to use her magic capital — and friendship with Barack Obama — to help take care of New York in this time of economic distress, she was blasted by a howl of “How dare she?”

People are suddenly awfully choosy about who gets to go to the former home of Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond and Robert Torricelli.

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The stuff at the beginning of the article about the Kennedys is weak but everything under the cut, I think, actually makes sense.
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AP Gaza reporter finds hometown in rubble

AP Gaza reporter finds hometown in rubble

I live alone in my office. My wife and two young children moved in with her father after our apartment was shattered. The neighborhood mosque, where I have prayed since I was a child, had its roof blown off. All the government buildings on my beat have been obliterated.


After days of Israeli shelling, the city and life I have known no longer exist.

Gaza City, with some 400,000 people, stopped supplying water when the fuel ran out for the power station driving the pumps. We listen to battery-run radios for news, even though the outside world watches what's happening to us on television. The Hadi grocery where we once shopped is closed. Food is scarce all over town.

Three days after Israel began its airstrikes against Hamas militants on Dec. 27, my apartment building was shaken by bombs aimed at a nearby Hamas-run government compound.
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Army apologizes for hurtful message to survivors

Army apologizes for hurtful message to survivors

The Army said Wednesday that 7,000 family members of soldiers killed in the Iraq or Afghan wars mistakenly were sent letters addressing them as "John Doe." Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., was sending a personal letter to all the families who received the improperly addressed letters as the result of a printing error, the Army said.
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Is there anything that the military wont outsource to mediocre contractors?...
wooosh faraday

Advice to Obama on battling presidential aging


Story Highlights

  • Presidents age twice as fast, says a theory by expert on aging at Cleveland Clinic
  • Analysis determined by looking at medical records of previous presidents
  • Tolls of stress can be reversed with healthy habits, says Dr. Michael Roizen
  • Roizen: Obama has good fitness habits of exercising, but smoking doesn't help

     

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Using public information, Roizen looked through medical records of previous presidents back to Theodore Roosevelt. Assessing factors such as diet, blood pressure, physical activity and lifestyle habits, he calculated that the leader of the free world ages more quickly. 
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link
[Sunset]
  • blergg

The Poetry of Sarah Palin

The poems collected here were compiled verbatim from only three brief interviews. So just imagine the work Sarah Palin could produce over the next four (or eight) years.

"On Good and Evil"

It is obvious to me
Who the good guys are in this one
And who the bad guys are.
The bad guys are the ones
Who say Israel is a stinking corpse,
And should be wiped off
The face of the earth.

That's not a good guy.

(To K. Couric, CBS News, Sept. 25, 2008)

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Some yummy, yummy sauce.

LOL, I can't believe nobody posted this before. I was looking for Emily Dickinson stuff and I found it on google. Such lulz, man. Easy, nice lulz.
peggy

Obama to ride in style in GM limo


Armored '09 Cadillac to carry new president in inaugural parade.

General Motors Corp. recently delivered to the U.S. Secret Service a brand new presidential limousine, replacing the 2006 model Cadillac DTS presidential limousine that President George W. Bush has used.

The new limousine, dubbed the 2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine, makes its debut on Inauguration Day. It's the first presidential limousine not to carry a specific model name, said GM spokesman David Caldwell.

GM declined to say how many it was building for the U.S. government, but it's believed to be fewer than 25.

Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, confirmed that the new Cadillac limousine would make its debut on Jan. 20 during the inauguration, but declined to elaborate on the new vehicle's improvements or specifications.


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Source

Oprah Grapples With The Gift of Gay



EDIT: Apparently Oprah's Christian viewers are not happy.

Edbacon

The Reverend Ed Bacon's response to a question from a gay man on Oprah yesterday that "being gay is a gift from God" (it's not mentioned in the show summary) has set the Oprah forum boards on fire, with so-called Christians angry at the statement.

The show, on spirituality, was broadcast as part of Oprah's "Best Life Week".

A sermon from Rev. Bacon entitled "Spiritual Practices for the Weary" which addresses marriage equality and was delivered last year at All Saints Church in Pasadena

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(no subject)

Lawmakers and Financial Experts Question Obama's Tax Cuts

By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 8, 2009; A02

At least two tax cuts that are part of Barack Obama's stimulus package have been criticized by lawmakers, tax experts and economists for being potentially too expensive and ineffective, signaling that they are likely to face resistance on Capitol Hill as congressional leaders begin direct negotiations with the president-elect's team.

Both Democrats and Republicans have questioned a provision that would provide a $3,000 tax credit to companies for every new job created and, possibly, for every job spared. They contend that the idea would be ripe for abuse and difficult to administer.

 

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Source
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BART police shooter quits job, skips interview

BART police shooter quits job, skips interview

The BART police officer under investigation for the fatal New Year's Day shooting of an unarmed man quit his job Wednesday rather than speak with investigators, an official said.

Former officer Johannes Mehserle, 27, has given no comment to BART investigators since the incident in which cell phone videos appeared to capture Mehserle shooting Oscar Grant III as Grant lay facedown on the ground at the Fruitvale station, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said Wednesday.

"We had a meeting scheduled for him to talk, and his attorney and a union rep came in his place and dropped off a letter of resignation instead," Johnson said. "It's interesting, because he was supposed to be talking for the administrative part of our investigation, which is privileged information and couldn't have been used in any criminal investigation anyway."

While BART officials said they've been trying to get Mehserle to talk ever since the shooting, Mehserle's attorney said he hadn't received any requests for an interview from Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff's office as of Wednesday night.
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you know i wouldn't be surprise if the guy disappears the next morning and authorities cant find him because he fled to mexico... (or some other place).
Eli

Meanwhile in Europe...

Exports of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine appear to have completely stopped amid a dispute over gas supplies between the two countries.

Heating systems shut down in some parts of central Europe, as outdoor temperatures plunged to -10C or lower.

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other, and the EU says it wants its own monitors to check the flow of gas.
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Sorry for the depressing news, but it has been on the BBC world service for the past few nights.