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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


FDL's Pachacutec: "For Want of a Dentist"

This story is just plain wrong

Thank you to Firedoglake's Pachacutec for this insightful piece - THANKS PACH!

Pr. George's Boy Dies After Bacteria From Tooth Spread to Brain
By Mary Otto
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.

A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

If his mother had been insured.

If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find.

If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

By the time Deamonte's own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George's County boy died.

Deamonte's death and the ultimate cost of his care, which could total more than $250,000, underscore an often-overlooked concern in the debate over universal health coverage: dental care.

Some poor children have no dental coverage at all. Others travel three hours to find a dentist willing to take Medicaid patients and accept the incumbent paperwork. And some, including Deamonte's brother, get in for a tooth cleaning but have trouble securing an oral surgeon to fix deeper problems.

In spite of efforts to change the system, fewer than one in three children in Maryland's Medicaid program received any dental service at all in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The figures were worse elsewhere in the region. In the District, 29.3 percent got treatment, and in Virginia, 24.3 percent were treated, although all three jurisdictions say they have done a better job reaching children in recent years.
"I certainly hope the state agencies responsible for making sure these children have dental care take note so that Deamonte didn't die in vain," said Laurie Norris, a lawyer for the Baltimore-based Public Justice Center who tried to help the Driver family. "They know there is a problem, and they have not devoted adequate resources to solving it."

Maryland officials emphasize that the delivery of basic care has improved greatly since 1997, when the state instituted a managed care program, and in 1998, when legislation that provided more money and set standards for access to dental care for poor children was enacted.

I’d quote the whole article, but that would run afoul of fair use stuff. Go read the whole thing.

This is an economic justice story with elements of race. As ever, race and class are all tied up together in America. Can you imagine this story written about some white kid in Bethesda, instead of Prince George’s County? No? Neither could I.

There are new things happening in African American culture and politics mistrustful of old line, established political groups, insiders, but it’s not happening online to the same degree the progressive netroots is organizing online.

These groups could become very powerful allies, but offline bridge building has to take place. Netroots progressives need to be able to tie matters of economic equality not just to concepts like the middle class squeeze and income disparity, but right back to color.

With the right wing’s racism so nakedly on display more and more, that shouldn’t be hard, but it would make a lot of heads in DC explode. I like Jim Webb. He speaks compellingly about working people, but he doesn’t speak that way about race or the racism of the right wing. That would make Mudcat Saunders’ head explode, not to mention James Carville and the Clinton gang that punked Ned Lamont after seeing him onstage with Sharpton the night he won the Connecticut primary.

It’s the same thing with immigration, the war on brown people in America, and for my writing on the subject at FDL, I always tie the right wing’s immigrant bashing back to its racism. I hope more writers online will start watching what Tavis Smiley and others are doing offline. If we can build trust and work together, we can accomplish a helluva lot.

- posted by Pachacutec

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Uncommon Sense: "The Rudy You Know"

There's something about a man in fur, isn't there?

Thanks to Uncommon Sense for this great piece on St. Rudy - THANKS 'SENSE!

Democrats have been spending a good bit of time and energy contemplating their own navels the last few weeks, so I think there has been an insufficient appreciation for just how good our prospects are in the 2008 presidential contest.

Yes, Barack and Hillary appear to be at each others' throats, although there is a measure of ginned-up hysteria with regard to the David Geffen flap, and the degree to which it is accurate is, frankly, to be expected. These are two charismatic, alpha personalities, each of whom aspires to the most important and prestigious job on earth. If you think it looks like a blood sport now, just wait until the primaries start.

The bottom line, though, is that there is nothing - nothing - alarming or unhealthy taking place right now in Democratic Party politics. All that is taking place is politics.

On the other side of the aisle, however, 2008 is shaping up to be the most disastrous year since, well, 2006.

Absent a man-boy-sex or murder-for-hire scandal, the Democrats will pick up more congressional seats in '08. The only one I'm worried about holding on to is Mary Landrieu's senate seat in Louisiana. A well-organized Republican could take it away from her, although this is by no means certain; her most threatening challenger is, in my opinion, Rep. Bobby Jindal, who is likely to run for governor against embattled Democrat Kathleen Blanco. But even if we lose Landrieu's seat, Norm Coleman is toast in Minnesota. We will expand our congressional majority in '08.

In the presidential race, the Republican Party's prospects are just dismal. The New York Times on Sunday illustrated what is shaping up to be a cataclysmic confrontation between the pragmatic and ideological wings of the GOP. Social conservatives don't see anything to like about the three highest-profile Republican contenders for the nomination.

Many conservatives have already declared their hostility to Senator John McCain of Arizona, despite his efforts to make amends for having once denounced Christian conservative leaders as ?agents of intolerance,? and to former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, because of his liberal views on abortion and gay rights and his three marriages.

Many were also suspicious of former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; members have used the council as a conduit to distribute a dossier prepared by a Massachusetts conservative group about liberal elements of his record on abortion, stem cell research and gay rights. (Mr. Romney has worked to convince conservatives that his views have changed.)

It cannot be encouraging to the party's power brokers that the thrice-married, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, authoritarian narcissist, absolutely nuts Giuliani has surged in the polls past McCain, his only real competition for the nomination. With the election almost two years away, such results reflect name recognition more than anything else, of course. The reason most Americans outside of NYC know Giuliani's name is because of 9/11. Because he responded to the World Trade Center attack with composure, the media dubbed him "America's Mayor." Remember that the vast majority of Americans do not follow politics as obsessively as political bloggers do. Most people spend their days focused almost exclusively on the details of their own lives, and only pay attention to political news that rises above the din. What rises above the din in early 2007 is "America's Mayor, the man who held it together on 9/11." As the party's primaries approach, expect Giuliani's Republican opponents to take the gloves off.

Of course, it is entirely possible that Giuliani will get the nomination. McCain is tanking in no small measure due to his having made his name synonymous with the escalation of the Iraq war, which is about as popular as foot fungus. It is hard to see him shedding that baggage to regain front-runner status. Mitt Romney's Jekyll-and-Hide positions on, literally, every public policy issue known to man makes him more of a punchline than a presidential contender. Besides, religious conservatives simply won't support a Mormon.

So, let's say it's Giuliani. Right now, he's America's Mayor to those who don't know him well. What about those who do know him well?

Over and over again, wherever he goes, America?s Mayor evokes 9/11. And over and over again, wherever he goes, people cheer. Whenever Rudy talks about anything other than the September 11 terror attacks, he?s just another Republican presidential hopeful with his particular set of strengths and weaknesses. When he talks about 9/11, he becomes something else: a national hero.

New Yorkers may find that hard to believe. Anyone who lived here at the time remembers the 9/10 Rudy: strong on crime and the economy, yes, but arrogant, bullying, and terrible on race and civil rights. And while it?s impossible not to respect what Giuliani did for the city on 9/11 and in the days afterward, New Yorkers have experienced an inevitable September 11 fatigue. The 9/11 story has been told so many times that the Rudy-as-hero narrative, however moving, has lost much of its power. Except for those who have a personal connection to the tragedy, people have generally moved on. Besides, it?s common knowledge that a pro-choice, pro-gun-control, pro-gay-rights, thrice-married Catholic northeastern Republican is unelectable, right?

The rest of America sees a far different Rudy. West of the Hudson, the 9/10 Rudy doesn?t exist and never did. For them, September 11 was never so much a real day as a distant televised drama. It has more symbolic meaning than actual meaning: It?s equal parts Pearl Harbor and resurrection. And guess who plays the role of national savior? Not George Bush. Not John McCain. Not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

In a profile of Giuliani slugged, Him?, Rodrick acknowledges the very real advantage that 9/11 gives the former mayor of NYC. He documents the worshipful awe that Giuliani inspires on the speaking circuit to people who only know him in that context. But...

... even 9/11 has its limits. Later, I do a little push-polling of my own. I ask Max Kaster, a local pastor and party chair for Calhoun County, a half-hour south of Columbia, what people down here would think of America?s Mayor if they knew he had moved in with a gay couple after separating from his second wife. ?Really?? Kaster says. He fiddles with a lapel pin that combines an American flag and a cross. ?I think that would roll a lot of people?s socks down.?

September 11 or no September 11, Rudy?s still vulnerable on social issues. No matter how skillful his pandering, there are those on the right who simply won?t vote for a pro-choice, pro-gun-control, pro-gay-rights candidate. Giuliani?s supporters like to point out that the South is trending more moderate. Still, Rudy is seeking an office that has been held by a centrist southern Democrat or right-leaning Republican southerner or westerner for four decades. The last president from the northeast was JFK.

It?s true that 9/11 gives Rudy credibility on Iraq, but not much. If the war continues to go badly?as just about everyone believes it will?Rudy?s pro-Bush, pro-surge stance, like McCain?s or anyone else?s, for that matter, could still derail him.

Rudy?s lack of experience is a weakness as well. The highest elected office Giuliani has ever held is mayor, and no one has ever made the leap straight from City Hall to the White House. The chatter among political insiders is that even 9/11 can?t cover that up. ?There?s a reason Giuliani?s using 9/11 as an asset,? says Bob Shrum, political consultant to a half-dozen Democratic presidential candidates (not to mention David Dinkins). ?It?s his only asset. He?s not even running on his mayoral record. He?s running on a few weeks. September 11 doesn?t change the fact that Rudy has no foreign-policy experience, and his foreign-policy record is limited to having the same position on Iraq as George Bush.?
Admittedly, I have to wonder about any reporter who considersBob Shrum an expert on anything, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and Shrum is right about this. Rudy Giuliani might look good compared to such hopeless cases as Mitt Romney and Sam Brownback, but he looks good only in comparison to them. If he survives the primaries, then he will be at the mercy of Democratic opposition researchers who, let us hope, have learned something since 2004. They will have a lot to work with. The American people will come to know the real Rudy, one way or another.

As the Democratic Party approaches its own primary season, we need to keep in mind that we are working to pick a nominee from a field of extremely strong presidential hopefuls. You might not have any personal affection for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or John Edwards, but their genuine substance and star power cannot be denied by any rational observer. We have an embarrassment of riches with our roster of contenders. The Republicans are simply sifting through the chaff to find a piece that is least likely to cause a catastrophic ruputure in its electoral coalition. McCain is tainted by his shameless pandering to the religious right and is identification with Bush's war strategy. Romney is a joke. Giuliani has a target painted on his back, and no matter what his spinmeisters say, is just standing there until somebody decides to shoot at it.

If the Republicans choose McCain, Romney or Giuliani, religious conservative voters will stay home in large enough numbers to throw the election to the Democrats, and that's the best-case scenario. It is just as likely that they will throw their support to a Sam Brownback or Mike Huckabee, who will run as a social conservative third-party candidate. Either way, it doesn't look good. He might have said all the right things on 9/11, but there is nothing that America's Mayor or any other Republican can say to put a pretty face on the GOP's ugly presidential prospects.

- posted by Uncommon Sense

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Bob Geiger: " Major Swift Boat Donor To Kerry: 'You're A Hero' "

(photo credit: Motor Boating Magazine)

Memories of 2004

THANKS to Bob for this great cross-post on Kerry's confrontation with the Swift Boat funder - THANKS BOB!

There are some things that you just don’t want to read about or watch on a full stomach -- this is one of those.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Tuesday to consider the nomination of Sam Fox, a wealthy St. Louis businessman, to be the new U.S. Ambassador to Belgium. While it is not unusual for big political donors to be rewarded with ambassadorships -- and Fox is a huge donor to all things Republican -- what made everyone take note of this guy is that Fox gave a whopping $50,000 to help fund the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smear campaign against John Kerry in 2004.

And in being questioned by the Senate panel yesterday, Fox had to face one of the senior members of that committee in… Senator John Kerry.

What followed was riveting theater, with Kerry coldly staring down a clearly-nervous Fox and Bush's nominee withstanding a barrage of questions from Kerry that the Massachusetts Senator nicely referred to as questions of Fox's "judgment" while many of us would have just flat-out called him a scumbag.

It all started out nicely, with glowing introductions, including one nauseating passage from Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) who said that "professionally and morally, Sam is eminently qualified to hold the post for which he's been nominated."

But it gets far worse than just hearing someone rave about the high morals of a guy who gave 50 grand to the Swift Boat Liars.

Kerry got his turn to question Fox and started out politely enough, praising Fox's up-by-the-bootstraps life story and his generosity with non-political charities, while also asking him about American foreign policy vis-à-vis the European community.

The tone then changed sharply when Kerry switched gears and, indicating he had concerns about Fox's judgment, said "I assume that you believe the truth in public life is important."

"Yes, sir," answered Fox.

"And might I ask you what your opinion is with respect to the state of American politics, as regards the politics of personal destruction?" said Kerry.

This started a lengthy monologue from Fox in which Bush's nominee railed against how campaigns are funded in the United States, saving most of his bile for 527 groups, saying " I'm against 527s, I've always been against 527s. I think, again, they're mean and destructive, I think they've hurt a lot of good, decent people."

I'm sure some people in the hearing room must have been stifling laughs hearing something like that coming from a man who was a major contributor to the scummiest 527 group ever, but the worst was to come in the next few sentences.

"Senator Kerry, I very much respect your dedicated service to this country," said Fox. "I know that you were not drafted -- you volunteered. You went to Vietnam. You were wounded. Highly decorated. Senator, you're a hero. And there isn’t anybody or anything that's going to take that away from you. But yet 527s tried to."

Here's the exchange that followed:

Kerry: I certainly appreciate the comments you just made, Mr. Fox, and I'm not looking for anyone to call me a hero. I think that most heroes died, and do die, and those of us who are lucky enough to get out of there are lucky.

But notwithstanding the comments you made, you did see fit to contribute a very significant amount of money in October to a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, correct?

Fox: Correct.

Kerry: Why would you do that given what you just said about how bad they are?

Fox: Well, Senator, I have to put it in the proper context and bear with me. Marilyn and I have lived the American dream -- there's no question about it. My father came here with the clothes on his back and the Fox family and the Woodman family have truly lived the American dream that's been very, very good to us.

I heard someone mention here that we gave to 250 charities. I also went back and had my staff count in '05 and '06, we've made more than 1,000 contributions. More than 100 of those were political, 900 and some odd were charitable and to institutions of learning and so forth. A great deal of those had to do with basic human needs. I think it was Senator Danforth who mentioned every time he got a letter that had Harbour Group on it, he shuddered because it was going to cost him money. Marilyn and I both raise a lot of money from a lot of people.

The point I'm making is this: We ask a lot of people for money and people ask us for money. And very fortunately, we've been blessed with being successful financially and when we're asked, we generally give -- particularly if we know who gave it.

Kerry: So, well, who asked you to give to the SBVT?

Fox: I can't tell you specifically who did because, you know, I don’t remember. As a matter of fact, if I…

Kerry: You have no recollection of why you gave away $50,000?

Fox: I gave away $50,000 because I was asked to.

Kerry: But you have no recollection of who asked you to give away $50,000?

Fox: No, sir. I've given away sums much larger than that to a lot of other places and I can't tell you specifically who asked me, no.

Kerry: Well, you don’t think that's it's important as a citizen, who doesn’t like 527s to know where your money is going and how it’s going to be spent?

Fox: Well, I think with most contributors and if you go to the other side of the political campaigns and we give to individual candidates, we don’t know how they’re going to use that money and what…

Kerry: Well at least it's accountable to an individual candidate for whom people have to vote or not vote. 527s as you said are mean, ugly and not accountable.

Fox: I agree with that. I absolutely agree with that.

As Kerry pressed Fox to explain why he would give $50,000 to a 527 group when he claims to despise them so much -- and that he now knows spewed lies at Kerry that were quickly discredited -- the Swift Boat Sugar Daddy repeated a theme he used several times in his testimony, which is essentially that he did it to level the playing field with the attacks coming from liberal 527 groups.

In other words, he all but said Kerry was simply collateral damage in a political fight.

Kerry: Why would you give $50,000 to a group you have no sense of accountability for?

Fox: Well, because if 527s were banned, then it's banned for both parties. And so long as they’re not banned…

Kerry: So two wrongs make a right?

Fox: Well, I don’t know, but if one side is contributing then the other side…

Kerry: But is that your judgment? Is that your judgment that you would bring to the ambassadorship? That two wrongs make a right?

Fox: No, I didn’t say that two wrongs make a right, sir.

Kerry: Why would you do it then?

Fox: Well, I did it because politically, it's necessary if the other side is doing it.

And no matter what Kerry asked, Fox played dumb, saying he forgot who asked him for the $50,000 and that he had no clue that the Swift Boat Liars were doing such dirty deeds with his money.

Kerry: My question to you is why? When you say you couldn’t have known -- these were people very publicly condemning it. How could you not have known?

Fox: I guess, Mr. Senator, when I'm asked I just generally give.

Kerry: So, again, I ask you the question, do you think now that you and others bear responsibility for thinking about where we put money in American politics? What we're saying, what we present to the American people -- is truth important or isn’t it?

Fox: Senator, if I had reason to believe and if I were convinced that the money was going to be used to, in any untruthful or false way, knowingly, I would not give.

Kerry: Well, sir, let me ask you this question: Did you or did you not in any of the public comments being made at the time, which I assume you were following, hear or read of any of the public statements at that point in time, with respect to the legitimacy of these charges and these smears?

Fox: Mr. Senator, I can say this…

Kerry: Did you miss this: In September of 2004, Vice Admiral Ruth, with the Navy Inspector General, wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy that was made public -- the New York Times, the Washington Post, every major newspaper in the country carried, saying their examination found that the existing documentation regarding my medals was legitimate.

Did you miss that too?

Fox: I don’t remember those, but I'm certain at the time I must have read them.

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), who was chairing the meeting, told Fox that he found his answers to Kerry "somewhat unsatisfying" and said that "The swift boat ads were of a different degree, even in the ugly arena of politics. They were extraordinarily well publicized, that there was essentially a fraud being perpetrated on the American people. It had a profound impact on the election."

And Obama tied a nice bow around the whole afternoon by basically calling Fox, who spent the entire time disavowing any knowledge of the Swift Boaters' mission or methods, a liar.

"To say that you gave because it's ugly out there and somebody asked you to give. I mean, it sounds to me like you were aware of it -- that this was not the best of political practices -- and you thought it was OK to go ahead and contribute to that," said Obama. "By the time you contributed, it was pretty widely noted -- it would have been hard for you to miss the fact that there was something particularly nasty and insidious about these ads. It had been well publicized at this point."

"I don’t think you necessarily crafted the message but you certainly knew at that point what the message was."

I have a lengthy, partial transcript here of Kerry questioning Fox about his involvement with the Swift Boat Liars and how that lack of ethics and judgment should disqualify Fox from representing our country at a cocktail mixer, much less with an important ally abroad.

- posted by Bob Geiger

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Sara Robinson: "Hot Stuff - Salsa Verde Recipe"


Thanks to Sara Robinson of Orcinus who didn't forget we love FOOD here at The News Blog - THANKS SARA!

Dave Neiwert, my only blogfather, is a truly wonderful human being with only one real shortcoming: in four years to date, he has never allowed food blogging at Orcinus. It is, apparently, Not Something We Do There. ("Orcinus: Home of the Orca Burger!" Uh, no. How about: "Covering KKK barbecues since 2003!" Big no.)

But Gilley and Jen do it here, and I'm hoping they'll let me fulfill my lifelong food-blogging dreams, just this once, while Steve's off getting better.

On a personal level, the hardest thing about moving from California, where Mexican food is still our native cuisine, to Canada, where Mexican food isn't even Taco Bell, is that I've had to get serious about learning to cook my own. Once I realized I'd been exiled to a place where the local Mexican restaurants were run by Iranians (dill in taco meat? Yes. And never again); the tortilla company was run by the Olafson family; and the cheese shops featured 200 offerings, none of which were Oaxaca, casera, or Jack, I knew desperate measures were called for. So, two summers ago, I flew down to central Mexico for three weeks where I brushed up on both my Spanish and my cooking skills, so I could amaze my new neighbors -- most of whom think Mexican food is anything wrapped in an El Paso taco shell, and can't cook beans without sweetening them -- and satisfy my own cravings.

The biggest treasure I came back with was this two-way recipe for green and red salsa. These two salsas are the basic component of most Mexican dishes. Mexican family cooks typically make up a big batch of both the red and green varieties once a week or so, and keep it in a big pitcher in the refrigerator. If you've got this, cheese, a chicken, a pot of beans, and a stack of tortillas, you've got everything needed to keep toda la familia fed for days.

Makes about 4-5 cups
Green tomatillos (10-12 large or 15-18 small)
Medium-sized white onion, cut into large chunks
1/2 cup minced cilantro
Juice of 3 limes
1-2 serrano chiles
3/4 cup cooking oil (corn or other light oil; NOT olive oil!)

1. Peel husks off tomatillos, and wash under cool water. Place clean tomatillos in a large, shallow skillet, and add water to cover. Add a little salt. Put over high heat, and simmer until the tomatillos turn from their bright green color to a darker brown/yellow. When the skins begin to crack, they're about done.

2. While tomatillos are cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Cut onion into chunks, mince cilantro, juice limes.

3. Cut the serranos in half lengthwise, and scrape out all the seeds. For a milder salsa, use only one or two halves. For the real hot stuff, toss in all four. (Fun fact: You can reduce the heat in any chile by cutting it into narrow lengthwise strips, then soaking the strips in a small dish of 1T salt in 1/4 C water for 10-30 minutes. The longer you soak it, the more capsacin is removed, thus cooling the chile while still retaining its unique flavor.) Be careful not to touch your eyes for several hours after handling the chiles.

4. When the tomatillos are cooked, use a slotted spoon to move half of them from the pan into a blender. Add half the onion, half the serranos, half the cilantro, and half the lime juice, plus 1/2 t salt. (Don't worry if you don't get the proportions just right -- it's all ending up in the same place in the end.) Pulse-blend 15-20 times, until all the ingredients are well-mixed. Be careful not to overdo: it should be a bit chunkier than a puree, finely-mixed but still retaining a nice thick texture.

5. Pour blended mixture into a large bowl. Repeat the process with the other half of the ingredients, and add them to the same bowl. Stir both batches together for a consistent mix.

6. Pour the cooking water out of your skillet. Add the cooking oil, and heat over high flame until oil is spattering. Pour the salsa mixture into the hot oil. (It should sizzle.) Simmer and stir for 5-10 minutes until the entire mixture is cooked through. You'll know it's about done when it starts taking on a yellowish, almost avocado-green color.

6. Remove from heat, cool, and use. The salsa will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Once you've got your salsa verde, you can go in dozens of directions. Some suggestions:

-- Use as a baking, simmering, or finishing sauce for chicken, beef, or pork dishes
-- Use as a marinade or dipping sauce for fish (cod is particularly good), or as a sauce in fish tacos
-- Make chicken, crab, or cheese enchiladas, and top with green salsa and a white cheese (jack if you have it; Havarti if you live in the outback, like me) before baking. Top with a dollop of sour cream for traditional enchiladas suizas.
-- Use as a topping for scrambled eggs or cheese and avocado omelettes, with a dollop of sour cream
-- Add to quesadillas and breakfast burritos
-- Eat it straight as a dip with tortilla chips

And, for your second act:

Repeat the above recipe, substituting red Roma tomatoes for the green tomatillos, and cutting back on the cilantro by about half. (For New Mexican-style cooking, add a tablespoon -- or more, if you dare -- of a classic NM chile powder. Nambe is my first choice.) Salsa rojo can be used in most of the above ways (though it's less good with fish, and better with red meat), but it's also essential for:

-- Soup: Add about 1/4 cup of salsa rojo per 2 cups of chicken broth to make the basic Mexican-style soup base. Add grated white cheese, avocados, and tortilla chips for tortilla soup; or meatballs for albondigas soup; or just make a rockin' regular chicken veggie soup with an extra-fresh edge. Don't forget that dollop of sour cream. Most Mexicans don't.
-- Rice: Salsa rojo is also what puts the Spanish in Spanish rice. Just replace 1/3 of the water in the rice pot with salsa.

Buon probecho!

- posted by Sara Robinson

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Driftglass: "The Phuquetard Buddha"

Thank you to Driftglass for this fantastic piece - THANKS DRIFTY!

"Peace comes from within. Which is why we need bunker busting nukes to get at it." -- sayings of the Phuquetard Buddha (Also known as the Guantanamo Buddha.)

If you ever wake up and find yourself in the middle of a holy war -- involuntarily or otherwise -- it is advisable strategery to get ahold of the local maps and read 'em hurryupquick.

To get the lay of the land, and understand the dogmatic shape and size of the orbits your enemies.

And in the theopolitical headspace of the followers of Phuquetard Buddhism -- those lunatics and mouthbreathers who wage a fulminating 24/7 culture war on everyone one inch Left of Sean Hannity and one head smarter that Doug Feith
"Whatever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings…kill it immediately and sell its children for beer money." -- sayings of the Phuquetard Buddha
-- there is only the Perfect, Eternal, Conservative Now.

There is no "future".

No tomorrow.

There is no imaginary place down the timestream where the consequences of doing immensely reckless, stupid things might catch up with us.

And because there is no such place, people who persist in trying to apply "logic" or "common sense" or "causality" or "reason" or any variety of thinking that would generally not be associated with "massive head trauma, multigenerational inbreeding or gas sipping" in some linear, temporal way to show that decisions made in the perfect, eternal, Conservative Now might come with a terrible price down the road…

…are obviously traitors and terrorist lovers.

Their agenda is obviously Al Qaeda's agenda.
"A generous heart is…available on the Thai black market for the right price. I've got seven on dry ice in the White House mess just in case, plus the CardioBot 5000 that my pals at Halliburton knocked together for me." -- sayings of the Phuquetard Buddha

For the Phuquetard Buddhist there is also no "past". What happened five years ago, five weeks ago, five days ago or five minutes ago isn't simply irrelevant; except in cases of Democratic blowjobs and bad land deals, the "past" does not exist at all.

Because if it did, it would be bursting at the seams with all kinds of scary stuff. Like Dirty Hippies talking about the "future" and being shouted down as traitors and terrorist lovers.

Like the leaders of the GOP lying over and over and over again.

Confident/shrill pronouncements about the turning of corners and even louder and shriller pronouncement about the disloyalty those who point out that the makers of those shrill pronouncements have been wrong about ever single fucking thing.

So when the only product you have to sell is toxic, and the only leverage you have on Monday to move product is people's fear and gullibility…

…by Wednesday you will come to require their willful ignorance...

…and by Friday you will begin to demand it.

And this is the terrible dynamic the GOP have roped themselves into.

That to survive they have become The People of the Lie.

A band of the corrupt and insane who cannot -- dare not -- tell the truth about…anything anymore. Anything. And for whom the past six years have truly been a sifting process.

"All suffering comes from indictment" -- sayings of the Phuquetard Buddha

In six short years, the Right has compounded their own lies so many times with so much vigorish in human lives and suffering. They have held the military hostage for so long now – alternately treating them like slaves and ass paper, while cowering behind them shrieking that any who speak ill of the Dear Leader are terrorsymps who hate the men and women in uniform, whenever they need to shut down honest debate. They have spent us so broke in treasure and reputation, that I do not exaggerate when I say that you can no longer be a Good American and a Good Republican.

Because while it is one thing to make poor decisions because you are not in possession of all the facts, it is entirely another thing to run screaming from the facts.

To hide from the facts in your Mommy's basement like a Yellow Elephant dodging an Army recruiter, and then to slime the hell out of anyone who tries to sneak a few facts into you Cheetohs.
"Avoid aiming at anything less than the ruin of others." -- sayings of the Phuquetard Buddha.

The Party of Lincoln has been abandoned to the cowards, the looters, the monsters and the insane. There is nothing left at its hollow heart. No place left for it to go but deeper into the abyss of doctrinally willful ignorance and the aggressively unexamined life.

No one left steering the ship but the acolytes of the Guantanamo Buddha who look neither forward nor back, but train their tiny, beautiful minds to live only in the perfect, eternal Conservative Now, which is why they cannot allow this "past" thingie to exist.

Because if it did, it might track its muddy, bloody, impeachable footprints right back into the Present and all over their nice, Lysol-fresh, perfect, eternal, Conservative Now.
"Right conduct is to form a proper livelihood to prosper by. Preferably something indoors, in the petroleum industry, with obscenely high margins, where your lies can topple governments and send a lot of people off to die, and yet you never go to jail." -- sayings of the Phuquetard Buddha.

Just like those Dirty Hippies who, years ago, kept referencing some imaginary "future" and talking about "consequences" of invading Iraq, these Dirty Hippies who keep harping on the "past" and talking about "evidence" are obviously equally traitorous, and equally bent on helping terrorists destroy America.

What the Dirty Hippies traitors refuse to comprehend is that Time and Truth are Liberal Illusions.

There is no "future" full of pain and failure. There is no "past" full of lies and hypocrisy.

There is only the Phuquetard Buddhist Present within which all words of the Dear Leader glow with a special light of truthiness, and all decisions are glorious and sinless and perfect and pure, and will be so forever and ever.

Because nothing exists outside of the Conservative Now.

Which is will always be -- Perfectly and Eternally – exactly one friedman long.
"To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others. But conquering others is a fuck of a lot more profitable." -- sayings of the Phuquetard Buddha.

- posted by Driftglass

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Gen. JC Christian, Patriot Writes Sen. Raymond Finney (TN Senate)

Nice beard

Contributed by Patriotboy - thanks, 'Boy!

Sen. Raymond Finney
Tennessee State Senate

Dear Sen. Finney,

Although I'm a huge fan of what you do in the Senate, I'm a little disappointed that you chose to announce your creationism resolution via a press release rather than on your blog. That's a shame, because I think it's one of the finest legislator blogs on all the internet tubes.

That said, I'm thrilled by your resolution. It's about time someone forced the Tennessee Department of Education to tell us whether they officially believe in God or not. Now the Department has to take a stand. The series of questions you ask in the resolution leaves them no other choice. The questions are absolutely inspired:

• Is the universe and all that is within it, including human beings, created through purposeful, intelligent design by a Supreme Being, that is a Creator?
• Since the universe, including human beings, is created by a supreme being (a creator), why is creationism not taught in Tennessee public schools?
• Since it cannot be determined whether the universe, including human beings, is created by a supreme being (a creator), why is creationism not taught as an alternative concept, explanation, or theory, along with the theory of evolution in Tennessee public schools?

I'm wondering if the same strategy could be employed to force the Department to take a stand on other faith-based theories. I'm particularly interested in miraculous visitation (Jesus on a knish or the Virgin Mary on a bicycle seat--that kind of thing).

You see, I have a bunion that looks exactly like Saint Christina the Astonishing. People laugh at me and call me crazy when I tell them about it, and they get angry and disgusted when I try to show it to them. I'm tired of the abuse, but I know it stems from ignorance. That's why I'm hoping you can help me out by filing a resolution. Hopefully, it'll convince the Department of Education to put both miraculous visitation and creationism into their science curriculum.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

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LowerManhattanite: "Political Masturbation Theatre Presents: William Shakespeare's 'Obamo'"

Quite the couple

THANKS to LowerManhattanite for this great piece - THANKS LM!

(Curtain rises on a smoke-filled, oak-lined study. In it stands OBAMO, a noble Moorish/Amfrerican, newly chosen to the Senate and HILLAMONA, a proud, steely blonde of noble lineage, also to the Senate selected. They are at opposite ends of the room—brooding in smoldering silence. The tension between them could be cut with a plastic spoon/fork hybrid {“spork”}. Hillamona wheels on Obamo suddenly with fire dancing in her eyes)

HILLAMONA: (Flushed and holding her throat as if just choked) Varlet! You sought to steal the air from my lungs—my campaign’s very lungs!

OBAMO; You drape your anger ‘pon a hook in the wrong man’s castle. T’was not I, Hillamona—your quarrel lay with King David of the Western Hills. Yet you assail me.

HILLAMONA: He mouths words as thy proxy, Obamo—deny it not, for you know it to be true.

OBAMO: He is his own man. I do not control him.

HLLAMONA: Thy denial fairly rings with implausibility, Moor.

OBAMO: (with venom) Hah! Irony abounds woman. You who would cast doubt ‘pon my words! Look thee to the linens—and find there a bib to sop the mendacity that drips from thy mouth. I pray one will do.

HILLAMONA: (enraged) Stripling!

OBAMO: Virago!

HILLAMONA: (hissed) A Virago favored by your own Moors!

OBAMO: (stepping back for a moment) Your words…ring of an anger contrived. Thou art are a snake, snapping fangs at the air madly, as blood leaks from thy own body.

HILLAMONA: I do not hear thee!

OBAMO: The wolves smell your blood. (He sniffs)’Tis sweet in the air. Your war vote wound betrays you.

HILLAMONA: I do not regret it, Moor. You say it wounds me, but is it not a graver wound to retreat? To renege? Yea, bleed I do, but die I will not. While you…

HILLAMONA: Risk not, lose not, hatch-ling. When the vote was cast, thy were but an egg. Barely a’ borning.

OBAMO: And from the moment beak sundered shell, this bird’s song was ‘nay’ to the war you championed. Thou…and the traitorous Joseph of Nutmeg, and other craven practicalists.

HILLAMONA: Misled were we!

OBAMO: Nay, Lead you did not. And now you stand o’er the ashes of defeat and claim to have lit no flame.

(Hillamona brandishes a dagger and points it at Obamo)

HILLAMONA: Thou shalt not quicken the vessel (*1). with me! The first strike shall be mine—

OBAMO: (Standing his ground and deepening his voice) You would raise a hand to me? Thy comrade? We stand on the same side, you and I. Your fight be not with me. ‘Tis with our enemy. Giuliano. MacCain and the Mormom Mitt.

(Hillamona hesitates, blinking, unsure)

OBAMO: (Moving to her) They on whom the nut hath sprouted wings that fly. (grasping her now) Let you,,,and I…and Edwardio—

HILLAMONA: The maned?

OBAMO: And feckless. Let us loose the arrows in our quivers at the real enemy…not each other. Leave us forget the mundaneness of despair…

HILLAMONA: (Grasping him back) And embrace…?

OBAMO: The audacity…of hope.

(He holds her tightly cradling her head back—until, she gasps and gurgles from choking on her own saliva. She wrenches herself away, eyes again ablaze with mistrust and anger.)

HILLAMONA: (Gasping) Again you seek to take the breath from me!

OBAMO: Twas you! Thy choked thyself Hillamona!

HILLAMONA: The injury is from without, cur—as always! And I shall smite he who hath swung at me. I shall smite all!

(She swings wildly with the dagger, missing Obamo who dodges. Hillamona chases him about, catching air instead of flesh, running him off the stage and following close behind. Enter MEDIAGO from the wing, rubbing his hand together gleefully.)

MEDIAGO: (laughing conspiratorially) Yes…yes! Let slip the dogs of war! Mistrust, my mistress! Deceit, my liege! Confusion and rancor ! (Sniffs hard at the air) Like the spoor of fresh roses in the air, that smell so sweet, Obamo thinks me his friend, and Hillamona sees me her coronator, yet neither the two knows me for what I am truly—that which serves neither their interests, but craves only nearness to power. It, the flame…to my nature-drawn moth. Power! Quo of status! I crave theeeeeeeeeeeeee!

(Mediago runs madly from the stage, exiting—pursued by an elephant)

(*1.) quicken the vessel = to swift boat

- posted by LowerManhattanite

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AppleInsider: "Video Unearths Hidden iPhone Features"

Jesse Wendel suggested this piece on the iPhone - THANKS JESSE!

By Aidan Malley
Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2007 08:00 PM EST

While Apple chief executive Steve Jobs flew through the iPhone's core software during his Macworld keynote address, a video team has gone back and discovered several software touches that may have some people reconsidering the distinctive phone.

An especially thorough group at Actioncorp re-examined Jobs' presentation frame-by-frame, pointing out a number of hidden features revealed in passing -- even those which surfaced for only a split-second via the live stream or in a journalist's snapshot.

Perhaps the most relevant finding is the inclusion of a "Ringtones" tab in the phone's iTunes preferences. Although Jobs had drawn attention only to the handset's default calypso ringtone during the two-hour event, the sighting validated hopes that customizing the sound would be at least as flexible as with its rivals today.

Actioncorp was particularly intrigued by the addition, noting that a dedicated tab and the plural phrasing meant that Apple expected owners to have more than a small collection of tones separate from their music. The extra space could well be part of a larger strategy to sell ringtones through the iTunes Store, the footage noted.

A second new tab, Personal, was likely to contain options for synchronizing contacts, e-mail accounts, and other info.

In the clip, the group also reminded its audience of the much larger scope of the iPhone's trumpeted Google Maps feature. David Pogue of the New York Times was previously quick to silence expectations of live GPS in the Apple communicator through hands-on experience, but the video emphasized Steve Jobs' seemingly casual references to direction-finding and traffic alerts for the Google utility. Corner buttons in the map tool for either function were already in place.

Eventual users of the iPhone could also count on saving time by means of a few important control tricks, the footage reveals. An alphabetic side strip immediately jumps to tracks filed under a particular letter just by tapping the screen, breaking the tedium of scrolling through a large collection.

The briefly mentioned iPhone calendar application also has a plus-sign button for adding new events directly from the iPhone, heralding the first time an Apple device has permitted two-way updating for anything other than play counts or track ratings.

- posted by Jesse Wendel

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Watch FRONTLINE: "What's Happening to the News"

Sad, prophetic, enervating and illuminating

I have lived in Los Angeles my entire life, with the exception of some periods where i lived in nocal (truly another state - just keep that water flowing!) and out of state.

I grew up with the LA Times; we always got that paper when our neighbors received local dogshit papers that focused on "local" coverage of murders, wife beatings, and high school football games.

It's not like my parents were particularly erudite or interested in providing their children with a more worldly view; it's just that they knew a good product when they saw it.

While I've made a living in publishing, I am not a journalist. A journalist is someone who, first and foremost, has a journalism degree; has received training in journalistic technique; and practices the art of journalism as a profession. I respect journalism greatly; so much so, that many of my friends in adulthood are LAT employees - now, sadly, most are ex-LAT employees, since the Tribune Company debacle.

I've watched the Times shrink, attempt redesigns, take investment banker-delivered editorial "medicine" and try to focus on "local" coverage versus national; and quite frankly, it's been awful. The LAT is rapidly approaching Mattel status here - where you end up knowing FAR more "ex" employees than current ones - and none of them have anything nice to say about their former employer.

So it comes as no surprise to see Lowell Bergman's piece on the LAT on tonite's Frontline ("What's Happening to the News") as every bit the sad, pathos-ridden death spiral that we have all suspected. Even with friends from the LAT, they never really say how bad it is; they just mutter or say things like "it's a shame" if you try to bring it up. Between being financially disemboweled by and henpecked to death by know-it-all investment bankers who, quite likely, have never done anything in their lives except investment banking, it's little wonder entities like the Los Angeles Times are suffering in the media delivery space.

The program is worth watching; PBS will push the content to this page in a day or so, so make sure you watch it if you can't catch it on television.

As Jon Carroll, former Baltimore Sun and LAT editor put it, if newspapers don't do the reporting, and if we decide as a culture that news isn't worth paying for - or from an i-banker's perspective, it's "too expensive" (as one Merrill Lynch exec put it - apparently she's confident Bloomberg is all we need as a nation and culture), then we lose one of the tenets of a representative democracy.

Citizen journalism and commentary have their place, but so does traditional journalism in a structured delivery environment. Without it, we are lost.

Great work by Lowell Bergman and his PBS team at Frontline.

- posted by Jim in LA

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FDL's Christy Hardin Smith: "Damage"

Just "the guy on the silver dollar" to the Fraud

Thank you to Christy Hardin Smith of Firedoglake for this great cross-post - THANKS ReddHedd!

History has a funny way of looking backward at Presidents and assessing all of those tiny little decisions -- made day in and day out -- from a much wider lens.  From the perspective of not just the short-term ramifications of policy decisions, but what their real world, long-term impact has been.  It is not often that we get to see both the short-term and the long-term questions intersect in a measureable way.  But that is exactly what seems to be shaping up in a number of recent reports regarding US troops, our strategic capability for the short and long term, and the impact that all of this is having -- right now -- on our folks in uniform.

The fact that some of this is coming out of the mouth of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace?   That's sure to make a few heads explode inside the Beltway, it?

Strained by the demands of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a significant risk that the U.S. military won't be able to quickly and fully respond to yet another crisis, according to a new report to Congress.

The assessment, done by the nation's top military officer, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represents a worsening from a year ago, when that risk was rated as moderate.

The report is classified, but on Monday senior defense officials, speaking on condition on anonymity, confirmed the decline in overall military readiness. And a report that accompanied Pace's review concluded that while the Pentagon is working to improve its warfighting abilities, it "may take several years to reduce risk to acceptable levels."...

The review grades the military's ability to meet the demands of the nation's military strategy — which would include fighting the wars as well as being able to respond to any potential outbreaks in places such as North Korea, Iran, Lebanon, Cuba or China....

So, can we officially say now that the Bush Administration has made us less safe in terms of our strategic readiness capabilities and the eroded level of response capability that we now have under George Bush's watch? The GAO thinks so (H/T Raw Story):

Congress's investigative arm has warned that sustained operations in Iraq are taking a toll on the military's ability to respond to conflict elsewhere in the world, RAW STORY has learned....

"The Army, the Marine Corps, and the Air Force have drawn heavily from their prepositioned stocks to support Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom," they write. "These sustained military operations are taking a toll on the condition and readiness of military equipment."

What does this mean for our men and women in uniform? Or for the rest of the nation not currently serving? It means if there is a big emergency, we are in a world of hurt, that's what it means. We have neither the equipment nor the force elasticity to adequately respond to much more around the world -- and our amazing forces who are working on a shoestring now, stretched so thin in parts of the line it astonishes me daily that they are able to hold things together as well as they do? Well, they are going to be forced to keep on stretching. 

A lot of active duty folks are not happy about that -- and have started speaking up about it -- something that rarely happens, for good reason, considering the need to maintain a strong chain of command structure.  If you haven't seen the report that 60 Minutes did on this, you can watch clips here.  As for specifics on how they are stretching, just take a peek at this report that two Army units will be forgoing desert training that is specifically designed to ensure readiness for the conditions they will face in Iraq.  Instead, because of the Bush escalation plan, they will be immediately sent to Iraq without this readiness training.  And that is just one example of many.

All of the interviews and discussions with ABC's Bob Woodruff over the next few days will focus some serious public scrutiny on far too neglected issue:  head trauma injuries.  Woodruff has a special this evening about his road to recovery from the injuries that he sustained reporting in Iraq -- and, if you take a peek at this from The Nitpicker, you'll see why this has the potential to open a whole lot of eyes for people who are not used to real news being put in front of them.  This is both newsworthy and infotainment, and that has to have a whole lot of wingnut armchair warriors frothing at the mouth...because the truth of the matter is, our nation's soldiers are not getting the best care possible, and a whole lot of them are dealing with substantial head trauma from IEDs and other attacks -- and the Pentagon's PR department has been sweeping this under the media rug without any pushback for accountability from the public.

He was, like any journalist, determined to tell his story. But in an hour-long special that airs Tuesday night at 10, Woodruff does more than that. He visits with Iraq veterans who also suffered traumatic brain injuries, documents their painfully slow progress and accuses the Pentagon of withholding information about how widespread these debilitating wounds have become.

Woodruff's reporting packs an emotional punch because he is, quite simply, a man who cheated death. Never before had an anchor for an American broadcast network been injured in war. Woodruff instantly became a symbol of the dangers that journalists face in Iraq, and is trying to use his higher profile to illuminate the plight of soldiers who struggle with these injuries far from the spotlight.

It is high time that the moratorium on hard questions came to an end, don't you think? 

Looking back through the lens of history, if JFK were alive today, don't you think he would be not only wise but justified in saying "Hey, maybe we should have spent a little more time reviewing all the data on Vietnam before we rushed more and more troops there for years and year without really having any workable strategy or honest hope of achieving our publicly stated political goals?"  Isn't it about time we started asking the Bush Administration to take a long, hard look at reality -- instead of constantly allowing them to tap dance around it?

I don't know about you all, but terrorists aren't exactly sitting around and saying, "Hey, American troops are stretched thin.  Let's not open another front in the so-called war on terror because that wouldn't be sporting.", now are they?  As commander-in-chief, shouldn't Bush's first priority be to make decisions that make us more safe, and not less so -- not just for the short term, but also for the long haul?  And isn't it well past time for all of us to stand up and demand that he do just that?

- posted by Christy Hardin Smith

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Sorority Kicks out Girls for Not Fitting a Mold; Nobody Surprised

Kicked out for being Asian and not anorexic

Jen here--loaded this as a draft; when you see this, Jim will have posted for me.

Looks like a sorority kicked out a bunch of house members in the middle of the academic year after the national branch decided to "audit" the house--and kicked out every single heavy or minority member.

Gilly saw this and we talked about the article when I saw him on Sunday. I must say I was very highly amused by his almost--dare I say it--pearl-clutching shock and horror at the naked racism at play here.

The Greek system, as it's known on American college campuses, IMHO does only two things: Help campuses allieve housing shortages (which is widely acknowledged) and let people too closed-minded to deal with the big, bad, diverse world outside live in a special little bubble just a little longer (which is not).

Now, I know that lots of folks claim all kinds of great expericnes in the sorority or fraternity house, but incidents like this are just a giant, Ghostbusters-sized-Mr. Staypuft-Marshmellow-Man looming example of the dark underbelly to the "great experiences" of the Annointed.

And of course, the soritiy in question here is in denial:

The president of Delta Zeta, which has its headquarters in Oxford, Ohio, and its other national officers declined to be interviewed. Responding by e-mail to questions, Cynthia Winslow Menges, the executive director, said the sorority had not evicted the 23 women, even though the national officers sent those women form letters that said: “The membership review team has recommended you for alumna status. Chapter members receiving alumnae status should plan to relocate from the chapter house no later than Jan. 29, 2007.”

Ms. Menges asserted that the women themselves had, in effect, made their own decisions to leave by demonstrating a lack of commitment to meet recruitment goals. The sorority paid each woman who left $300 to cover the difference between sorority and campus housing.

The sorority “is saddened that the isolated incident at DePauw has been mischaracterized,” Ms. Menges wrote. Asked for clarification, the sorority’s public relations representative e-mailed a statement saying its actions were aimed at the “enrichment of student life at DePauw.”

This is not the first time that the DePauw chapter of Delta Zeta has stirred controversy. In 1982, it attracted national attention when a black student was not allowed to join, provoking accusations of racial discrimination.

Earlier this month, an Alabama lawyer and several other DePauw alumni who graduated in 1970 described in a letter to The DePauw, the student newspaper, how Delta Zeta’s national leadership had tried unsuccessfully to block a young woman with a black father and a white mother from joining its DePauw chapter in 1967.

Of course, then there's the whole hazing process and the annual deaths and injuries that occur from that, which is a whole nuther article.

Comment away...

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Bob Geiger: " Rail Security Act Comes To Senate Floor"

Rail security - don't leave home without it

Thanks to Bob Geiger, who has contributed this timely cross-post on Senate hearings being held today regarding rail security - THANKS BOB!

Legislation to enhance the security of America's rail system will come to the Senate floor today in the form of the Surface Transportation and Rail Security Act of 2007. Proposed by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and cosponsored by Ted Stevens (R-AK) -- Inouye is the chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Stevens is the ranking member -- the bill has bipartisan support and an excellent chance of passing.

(Showing yet more legacy of the Republican, do-nothing Congress, the legislation, which is cosponsored by 22 Senators, was never championed by Stevens when the Alaska Republican ran the Commerce Committee over the last two years.)

Inouye's legislation (S. 184) will provide more than $1 billion for nationwide rail security improvements, including security upgrades for Amtrak, new freight and passenger rail security grants and specific stipulations for a program to re-route dangerous toxic inhalation or poisonous cargo around areas with large populations. The bill also includes $84 million for security enhancements to other surface transportation systems including truck, intercity bus and hazardous materials carriers.

"We have all seen the possible consequences of an attack on critical surface transportation systems in Madrid and London. We have all heard about possible threats and foiled plots aimed at our rail tunnels and stations here at home," said Inouye in introducing his legislation last month. "The time has come for us to address these vulnerabilities and risks in a comprehensive and coordinated way that ensures that in the rush to protect one mode of transportation we don't shift vulnerability towards other, less secure, transportation modes."

The Surface Transportation and Rail Security Act specifically provides $400 million for security improvements at rail tunnels in the New York City metropolitan area, a subject of huge concern to New York residents since the 9/11 attacks. The money provided by the bill will be used in part to provide for greater passenger egress and smoke ventilation in the event of an emergency.

"This is a major step forward for our region and for the millions of commuters who rely on commuter rail everyday," said Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), one of the bill's cosponsors.

"I am very pleased that this critical bill has been approved by the Commerce Committee," said Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), also a cosponsor of the measure. "This is a very positive forward step in our long campaign to increase security for New York and the nation's transportation systems. Our transportation systems remain vulnerable to attack. It is past time that we address this major infrastructure and economic risk."

Debate on the full set of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, which passed the House of Representatives last month, is expected to come next on the Senate floor.

- posted by Bob Geiger

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DMIBlog's Amy Traub: "David Brooks Doesn't Like Your Kid's Clothes"


Thank you to Elana and Amy at DMIBlog for allow us to cross-post this great piece - THANKS!!!

This is more than just a ploy to post the latest photos of my adorable son online. The point here is what he's wearing. What's so special about it? Well, it was made in the USA and purchased here in New York with no regressive sales tax. And it's got the hip slogan.

Which one of those facts is more important? If you're David Brooks, it's definitely the latter. He devoted his Sunday column this week to railing against hipster parents who clothe their offspring in outfits with trendy catchphrases, frequent websites like, and make the kids listen to Brian Eno. These parents, he gripes, are making their children ludicrous. The trend has got to stop.

We parents can even get in trouble with Brooks for what we name our kids. Religious families watch out: apparently it's "abusively pretentious" to name your kid after a Biblical figure like the Prophet Elijah. If only my husband and I had known before we named our baby Samuel. If only my great-grandparents had known before they named my grandfather Samuel.

Clearly the one who's being ludicrous here is Brooks. So why is a policy blog preoccupied with a rant that's substantially tongue-in-cheek anyway? Brooks' diatribe matters because it's part of his larger message that lifestyle -- issues like how you dress your child and what music you listen to -- trumps such old-fashioned concerns as economics, race, and gender.

Brooks wants us to laugh at (and despise) the hipster parents and see them as out-of-touch and elitist. Their goofy, urban, alternative lifestyle separates them from down-to-earth suburban parents who let their kids listen to Disney tunes and wear pastels. Highlighting this kind of lifestyle difference obscures what most parents -- and the vast majority of Americans working to hold onto or attain a middle-class standard of living -- share, things like trying to make enough money to make ends meet without going into debt, finding decent schools for the kids and figuring out a way to save for college, the risk of losing pay (or even your job) when a kid gets sick, and just trying to afford health care at all.

Back to my son's outfit. It matters less whether he's wearing a clever slogan or a picture of Bambi than whether the tax policies of the city support working families, for example by raising more revenue through a progressive income tax and less through regressive sales taxes on things like clothing. From now on, Mr. Brooks, let's focus on the challenges all parents face, not whether you like my kid's clothes.

- posted by Amy Traub of DMIBlog


Taylor Marsh: "Hillary Hit Piece"

That's right, wingnuts, I'm talkin' to YOU

Thank you to Taylor Marsh who came in out of the blue with this great post - THANKS TAYLOR!

So, after the Carson City forum, I went out to my car and what did I behold? A flyer adorning my windshield ushering in the swiftboating season, targeting none other than Hillary Clinton. Of course, as goes with all hit pieces there is no one responsible, no organization's name attached. This blue sheet of paper with a very dour Hillary Clinton all along the left hand side just appeared out of thin air. Oh, and if you think this picture is bad you ought to see the one on the flyer. It didn't print out well, so I couldn't offer a glimpse, but trust me, it's bad. The flyer is printed on both sides, with the following on the front. The larger bold below is about half the size as it is on the flyer, with everything else exactly as it appears.

Why Can't She Win?

If John Kerry had won Ohio in 2004 he would have won the presidential election. Unfortunately, he lost. Why? Many pundits blamed the gay ballot initiative, a statewide measure than mobilized conservative voters to turn out in larger numbers than their liberal counterparts. This should give pause to anyone considering voting for Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for the presidency. Consider:

Conservative vs. Liberal Attitudes: Some say that the passion Hillary generates on the left is equal to or greater than the passion she generates on the right. However, after her support of the war (and failure to apologize for supporting it) along with other movements to the right (for instance, introducing legislation in 2005 to make flag burning a crime), her support among the liberal base is waning.

Still not convinced? The why: on are there many more negative books about Hillary than positive ones? are there are (sic) a far greater number of websites devoted to bashing Hillary than supporting her? does right wing talk radio continually bash Hillary, while left wing talk radio has a more mixed response?

Strong Support from Women?: In 2000 when Hillary Clinton ran for senator, Al Gore captured 17% more of the women's vote than Hillary. If her support among women is as soft on the national scene in 2008, the narrow Democratic margins of victory in states like Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin (in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections) will disappear.

Survey Says: One of the lessons of 2004 was that once voters develop a perception about a candidate, it's as immovable as super glue. Once John Kerry became identified in voters' minds as a "flip-flopper," no amount of arguing could change that image, despite the fact that people agreed with Kerry on the issues. For Hillary this could be fatal. Recent survey's show that 42-47% of the country says that under no circumstances would they vote for her (and this is before the right wing smear machine kicks into gear).

The Nadar Factor: Ralph Nadar has indicated that if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, he will probably mount another presidential campaign. This could siphon off 3-4% of the vote that otherwise would have gone to Hillary, thus costing her the election.

In short, if conservatives are motivated to turnout across the country like they did in Ohio in 2004, we risk losing more than the presidency. We also risk losing the Senate, House, and other statewide offices. Let Sen. Clinton stay in New York and use her intellect and skills to help further the Democratic agenda. We can't afford her at the top of the ticket.

Comparing Hillary to John Kerry? Is the Ohio gay initiative dig supposed to mean something special? Also, you can bet Hillary Clinton would have taken Kenneth Blackwell's smug Ohio butt to court for what Republicans pulled in '04. That's one thing you can take to the bank, baby.

And Ralph Nadar? Who wrote this thing, Dick Morris? After voters "develop a perception about a candidate, it's as immovable as super glue?" Super glue? No kidding. I feel so enlightened. The talk is that local Republicans picketed the event. The writing is about their speed.

And it's not too far a stretch to think that all of those Amazon books are out there bashing Hillary because the right is scared crapless of her candidacy. In the last two weeks I've met more Republicans who think she's inevitable than Democrats! Most are just fine with envisioning President Hillary Clinton.

Clinton's biggest problem with the Democratic faithful is her Iraq war stance. But that's not exactly news to anyone. But as far as her support in the liberal base "waning," there's a case to be made, that her biggest support is among conservative Democrats. You know, like Harry Reid.

On the flip side of the flyer you get Richard Cohen's February 13th column, The Explanation Hillary Clinton Owes, printed in full, just in case the political armageddon of losing every office in the country, if Hillary is the Democratic nominee, didn't make the point.

But let's get something straight. The Republicans don't have any candidate that compares with the top five of the Democratic field. John McCain? Rudy? Brownback? Malleable Mitt Romney? Give me a break. McCain is in so much trouble right now because of Iraq that he's flipped yet again and is now attacking his Iraq war alter ego, Mr. Bush! Rudy will wither under scrutiny, especially when the base discovers he supports abortion rights, gay unions and is on his third marriage, not to mention that he was at the microphone on 9/11, but everything else about his leadership is pure myth. Brownback is just too Kansas. Mitt is worrisome, I believe, until you envision the oppo commercials. There is Governor Huckabee, but I just don't see it myself. Still, no one comes close to Edwards, Obama, Richardson, Biden and yes, Hillary Clinton.

But considering it's only February 2007 and this flyer was dropped on every car in the parking lot at the Carson City community center after a forum, one thing is sure. It's official. The swiftboating season has already begun.

- posted by Taylor Marsh

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Ice Weasel: "Outsourcing"

Decisions, decisions

On Wednesday Google released Google Apps Premiere Edition, marking what might be the
first big splash into the developing SaaS (Software as a Service)ecosystem.

Coming on the heels of Microsoft's almost lackluster opening for Vista one need not wonder very long if Google's timing with a (sortof) alternative is coincidence or not.

On an almost irrelevant note, Friday Google stock closed at $470.62 and Microsoft at $28.90. Take a look at the last few years of both stocks' performance and you'll note a similar performance disparity.

One might opine that Microsoft has long been cruising on an established but slowly deteriorating position while Google has been building an ever-stronger one.

As usual, I have more questions than answers. Here are just a few:

-Will people gravitate towards software models they do not own, but basically rent, and all that it implies?

-How will Google counter the argument that software which is only available while you are online isn't nearly as useful as something that works anytime you boot up?

-What about security? When so much of what you do is only available through an online interface, how will this impact the security of documents for personal use and business?

- posted by Ice Weasel

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Book Excerpt: Rick Perlstein's "Nixonland"

All Hail Perlstein

As a get-well gift to Steve Gilliard, whom I admire profoundly and who has taught me much about military affairs, I offer the following excerpt from my forthcoming book Nixonland on one of his favorite subjects: the collapse of the American military in the field in Vietnam.
With best wishes for a speedy recovery.

- Rick Perlstein

On February 8, 1971-...20,000 ARVN troops poured over Laos's border. The B-52s, F-110s, and F-4 had made their way smooth, and for a good ten days they marched without real Communist resistance, a splendid romp: confirmation of the wisdom of Vietnamization, Time reported noting the prowess of the ARVN's "crack" First Division.

Then the tide turned.

Forty thousand Communist troops counterattacked in waves. The counterattack was made easier by the the fact that South Vietnam's President Thieu, the keeper of the tiger cages at Con Son, hoped to have as few ARVN casualties as possible so the army could protect him against any potential coup, so he ordered his general to let them rest for five days--in a military operation that depended on speed. Two determined Communist divisions hammered them mercilessly. Nixon, panicking, demanded, "We must claim victory regardless of the outcome." The military objective was to be the Laotian town of Tchepone, a stronghold for Ho Chi Minh since the French fought in Vietnam in the 1950s, the "hub of the Ho Chi Minh Trail."

Nixon came up with a plan: "It would be a great public relations coup if the ARVN actually reached Tchepone."

So they scripted a military dumbshow: two thousand bedraggled South Vietnamese soldiers were airlifted to the town, whose once fearsome anti-aircraft batteries--and every building besides--had already been pounded into rubble by U.S. ordnance. William Rogers and President Thieu both announced a famous victory. Dutifully, the press reported one: "Major Victory by South Viets," rhapsodized the always gung-ho Chicago Tribune; "Viets Overrun Key Laos Base," reported the usually skeptical Chicago Daily News.

In fact ARVN radio frequencies were commandeered by the North Vietnamese, who used them to call in American salvos against ARVN positions, and the "crack" ARVN units hugged the skids of the helicopters that had inserted them into battle rather than fight....

Among radicals the Laos offensive did not result in widespread protest: just the bombing of the Capitol privy, an occupation of the Stanford computer building led by the Maoist Melville scholar H. Bruce Franklin, some fires at the new University of California campus at Santa Cruz, little else. The really dangerous protests were all in Southeast Asia. On March 20, along Route 9 by the Laos border, a captain ordered two platoons to wade into heavy enemy fire and retrieve one of the downed helicopters and armored vehicles providing rear support the ARVN "advance." The platoons refused to budge: why fight for these cowards who clasped onto the skids of retreating helicopters instead of fighting themselves? A lieutenant colonel arrived pleaded with them, then ordered them: Fifty-three still refused, and also refused his order to provide their names. No disciplinary action was taken. The brass's fear now was that the mutiny would spread company-, battalion-, or brigade-wide. The American Army was collapsing in the field. "I just work hard at surviving so I can go home and protest the killing," explained one G.I.

Soldiers wrote semi-seditious slogans on their flak jackets and helmet headliners ("The unwilling, led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary, for the ungrateful"; "Eat the apple, fuck the Corps"). In basic training, at Fort Bliss, where soldiers were calling commanding officers by their first name, they passed practically through anyone who promised that wouldn't go absent without leave (AWOLs went up fivefold between 1966 and 1971). In country, soldiers caught in infractions responded: "What are they going to do about it, send me to 'Nam?" They used to arrest soldiers who attended off-base protest rallies. But if they did that now military police would do little else.

Life had first reported on the new G.I. protest movement in May of 1969: the off-base anti-war coffeehouses; the underground newspapers; the terror all of it struck in the hearts of the military establishment. The Student Mobilization Committee opened a G.I. Press Service, mailing bundles of anti-war newsletters--including legal options for soldiers who'd like to resist--to a list of 300 active-duty G.I.s. The first combat refusals began. Scotty Reston wrote on August 27, 1969: Nixon "has been worried about the revolt of the voters over Vietnam against the war...but now he also has to consider the possibility of a revolt of the men if he risks their lives in a war he has decided to bring to a close." He was paraphrasing a common soldiers' lament, especially among draftees: now that Washington was talking about getting rid of the draft, which of them would be the last to die for a war even the President seemed to admit was a mistake?

After the October Moratorium, a sergeant wrote on behalf of his infantry company: "the Moratorium had wide support. It was, in fact, very much a morale builder. The men are intelligent enough to realize that the peace demonstrations are on their behalf.... While many wore black arm bands for the October 15 Moratorium, they are for the large part prevented from demonstrating their feelings on the war." Life then interviewed one hundred soldiers throughout South Vietnam. That revealed that "many soldiers regard the organized antiwar campaign in the U.S. with open and outspoken sympathy," and "are not demoralizing troops in the field." One private said, "I think the protesters may be the only ones who really give a damn about what's happening."

Monkey-wrenching was epidemic. Psy-ops officers who knew Vietnamese rewrote propaganda leaflets to condemn the Saigon government. Aircraft carrier crews grounded planes. Government-issued amphetamines--"speed," an epidemic of which was destroying the counterculture in Height-Asbhury--meant to keep soldiers alert on patrols, were gobbled recreationally. So many were smoking put (it traded for tobacco cigarettes at an exact one-to-one exchange rate) that the Army started cracking down. So, just like in the Haight, most moved on to heroin, smoked in cigarettes. It was odorless, one soldier noted, so "I can salute an officer with one hand and take a drag of heroin with the other."

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(image credit:

Why is this little man smiling?

It's about time - Marty Scorcese gets his Academy Award - not for Goodfellas but amazingly enough for The Departed, which also wins the Oscar for Best Picture 2006.

As a big Scorcese fan, all i can say is: it's about fuckin' TIME!


- posted by Jim in LA

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Lower Mahnattanite Lays the Smackdown on the Oscars

Best Oscar for Inventing the Internet


Praise Lower Manhattanite for blessing us with this timely guest post. Also let me add PLEASE KEEP THEM COMING. Gilly may be in until Friday at this rate. Thusfar, I have two on deck for tomorrow; I would like to do at least 2 per day with the help of Jim our Webguy (who will tag shit up in my absence as I cannot post from work). Having said that...without further ado...the shazbit on the Oscars Nite from Lower Manhattanite, who gets the Oscar for Get your Own Damn Blog Already We Love Your Writing:

Oscar, Bitches!

It’s been a sh*tty weekend. I’ve been worried about Mr. Gilliard since Friday night when I checked in here for the first time in a couple of days and saw that big red cross Jen tagged up. Yikes!

I then had an unexpected financial expenditure yesterday that I was ill-prepared to handle. Cha-ching—and Goddamn.

And lastly, the weekend with the kids was truncated as my son’s asthma, normally in check, went on a berserker rage yesterday. As a typically irresponsible-at-times teen, he left his asthma pump at home and things deteriorated to where the ex had to come and get him home to his nebulizer so things wouldn’t snowball to the point of the all-too-familiar to readers here, hospitalization. So the kids left with their mom, and I found myself deeper in the dumps than that I figured I’d be before waking yesterday morning.

So, as the “Go-Go Gophers” theme used to go—“What can um’ do for fun?”

Lose myself in movies of course. Oscar weekend and all.

I waded into TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and saw a trilogy that stoked the cinephile in me something fierce: From Here To Eternity, Bridge On The River Kwai, and then Lawrence of Arabia.

Oh, they were killin’ it, kiddies. Made daddy wanna clean the gat and hop the next chrome bird to The Valley, looking for stupid, young, Varvatos-ed film execs to snuff. Willy-nilly. And stack ‘em like cordwood behind Rsocoe’s on Gower for the rats to nibble on during the night. See, I love good film. Love it like hell. But on this Oscar weekend, well…it’s the Goddamned Oscars themselves I hate.

When, pray tell did the Academy Awards go from a duke-it-out between the best, to a snipe-y, petty bitchfest? My friend ________, who’s working the Awards this weekend as a pre-show, rehearsal stand-in. called me last night from the Kodak on Hollywood Blvd, during a lull and joked about how people he knows were reacting to his working the show. “Verrrrrrrry bitchy”, he noted. “Catty sh*t. It used to be a horse race, and now it’s all Naomi-tossin-sidekicks-at-people. But you know what? I saw it coming the last couple of years at the Dot Chandler Pavillion. F*cking Joan Rivers—‘Who are you wearing?’ Bitch, what fetus’ placenta did you wear on your face for two hours before they wheeled you outta the house?”

He went on like that for awhile until they called him back to work, but his words stayed with me. I don’t remember the Oscars being so mean and bitchy in my youth, and I can go back as far as stuff like Cactus Flower and Midnight Cowboy being up for awards. So what happened? When did the hubbub around the awards get so f*cking petty for the viewers and reporters? I mean, I know it was a screeching, alley-cat donnybrook within the industry, but it seems to have bled out into the viewership and punditocracy. I place a lot of the blame on gits like Mr. Blackwell and Ms. Rivers and their ilk. Now granted, it wasn’t all sober-*ssed, Nobel presentation before, but this silly pre-and-post show analysis (actually with a telestrator a couple of years ago digramming hemlines!) on what the attendees look like, helps like buying a nodding, word-slurring Tom Sizemore another f*cking round. And that superficial pettiness has spread to commentators with as much knowledge of film as a f*cking bedbug. This focus on the superficial aspects swirling around the Oscars has seemingly validated the 28-cent, Pauline Kael-with-a-hatchet-in-her-cerebrum-natterings of almost anyone with an axe to grind these days.

Which brings us to the issue of one Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. If you dare venture into the fetid stink of Wingnutville, (bring a Costco-sized bottle o’ Febreze—your clothes’ll thank you for it), you won’t be able to miss a bitchy tone on Gore’s even being considered for an award, so intense that that if you placed the individual components of a martini on the graves of Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, walked away for 40 seconds and then returned, you’d find fully prepared drinks that James Bond ‘d happily quaff.

This is different from their “nyah-nyah, fatty-fatty” bench-jockeying of Michael Moore, (although much sport has been made of Gore’s recent ‘beefiness’ by the likes of Tucker ‘Nuryev’ Carlson, and Sean ‘The Diploma’ Hannity) because Moore in their eyes represents just another dirty, f*cking hippie Hollywooder. Gore-however, is a D.C. insider—a dude they saw every day galumphing about the halls of power ‘round the ‘ol Beltway. The guy who would’ve become President if only Clinton hadn’t felllated the entire population into swoony-eyed love the same way he did Monica---damn it to hell! And the idea that this so-called “stiff” will nab an Oscar—the ultimate validation the “arts” community can bestow--has pissed them off to Robin Harris levels of “pisstivity”. Final cut for the cheerleading squad and the plain, popular chick who knows the routine has beaten out the double-jointed, backseat-hopping bimbo who can cheer the loudest, but whose moves suck *ss. Let the “Mean Girls” bitchfest begin. It’s been funny, watching the likes of “Over Easy” Drudge go way above the bitchy call in his slams at ol’ Al. And the carping from the nutttiest wings of the right, like the aforementioned crump-dancer extraordinaire, Carlson, bring into stark relief a fact that recent weeks have brutally borne out—namely, the simple fact that the right has ghettoized itself in an ugly slum of artistic mediocrity. Thus truth—a truly inconvenient one indeed, has sent these poor wretches around the bend, and moved them to embarrassing stunts like the Gomez Addams-esque, head-on train wrecks of Fox’s “Red Eye” and “The ½ Hour News Hour”. And the bile-in-the-mouth public reaction to these twin bedpan misses on their part has really bruised our dear Nellie Olesens on the right. Thus, the catty Gore-slamming, and attempts to discredit the film, much the way they hissed about other films that displeased their kneejerk (emphasis on jerk) sensibilities—like 1999’s Hurricane, and The Cider House Rules, and ‘04’s Million Dollar Baby. But as much as those flicks bugged ‘em, along with the foot-stamping over Fahrenheit 911, Gore’s “Rock Star” ascension thanks to his film, has inspired a special venom and bitterness. It’s not even concealed. And it’s actually pretty damned funny. Especially as their shining knight Mel Gibson’s post-“Passion” yellow-star puking has removed him from serious consideration as a cinematic paragon. There’s no one for ‘em to hang their star on. And when you’ve got no one to love, you search for people vent “hateration and holleration” on—always an easier proposition in, as Mary J. Blige sang off-key—“this dance-e-ree”.

I’m reminded of Paul Simon’s famous post-win quote from the ’75 Grammys, I’d like to thank Stevie Wonder for not releasing an album this year , referring to Stevie’s having über-dominated the Awards the previous three years. Can you imagine the level of bitchiness we’d be contending with if the right’s regular Oscar whipping-boy, Spike Lee’s When The Levees Broke--the ultimate slam at all they hold dear—namely Bush and his tender nads in their mouths--had been eligible for consideration?

“Meeeeee-owwwwr! Saucer of milk at table three!” ☺