Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

West African tea

If you still harbor any illusions that the oil business and the investment world have even the slightest scrap of moral sensibility, read this post and disabuse yourself.

Harper's Washington Babylon blog is a great resource, by the way.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Aw, no Saturday night massacre?

This is fascinating:
A Defiant Stance In Jefferson Probe
Justice Dept. Talked of Big Resignations If White House Agreed to Return Papers

By Dan Eggen and Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Justice Department signaled to the White House this week that the nation's top three law enforcement officials would resign or face firing rather than return documents seized from a Democratic congressman's office in a bribery investigation, according to administration sources familiar with the discussions.

The possibility of resignations by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales; his deputy, Paul J. McNulty; and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III was communicated to the White House by several Justice officials in tense negotiations over the fate of the materials taken from Rep. William J. Jefferson's office, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
No way will I be able to sort through this, but here are a couple of observations:
  • Unlike Nixon, Bush is caving in.
  • The small amount I've read by Fourth Amendment experts indicates there isn't a Constitutional issue here; it should be legalto raid a Congressional office if there is evidence that a crime was committed there.
  • Thus, it seems likely that the hysteria on the part of Hastert and the other Republicans (Cheney's office is apparently a major player in trying to get the documents returned) has more to do with skeletons in their own closets than with love of the Constitution.
  • I would believe Hastert's charge that someone leaked rumors about his involvement with the Abramoff scandal in an effort to intimdate him on this issue. The question is, who? The DOJ has already publicly declared the rumor false, and Cheney appears to be on his side. Perhaps there are now multiple, competing smear machines operating within the White House?
  • Alberto Gonzalez standing up to Bush? WTF?
Also, I read an opinion piece a couple of weeks ago (I apologize for losing the link trail) that noted Nixon's biggest mistake was trying to use the CIA to shut down the FBI's Watergate investigation. It's clear something similar is going on now, though the Bush White House appears to have far less control over things than Nixon did.

It's a good thing they don't have anything more important to do right now.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

No comment

Just a juxtaposition:

Editor at Conservative Magazine To Be Top Policy Adviser to Bush
By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 25, 2006

President Bush appointed a longtime scholar at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday to be his top domestic policy adviser, a post that has been vacant since February, when Claude A. Allen stepped down after being charged with stealing more than $5,000 in a phony refund scheme.

Libby Told Grand Jury Cheney Spoke of Plame
Vice President May Be Called as Witness
By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 25, 2006

Vice President Cheney was personally angered by a former U.S. ambassador's newspaper column attacking a key rationale for the war in Iraq and repeatedly directed I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then his chief of staff, to "get all the facts out" related to the critique, according to excerpts from Libby's 2004 grand jury testimony released late yesterday by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

U.S. Voices Regret for Deaths of 16 Afghans
Taliban Is Blamed By Officials, Elders
By Pamela Constable
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, May 25, 2006

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, May 24 -- The U.S. military expressed regret Wednesday for the deaths of a reported 16 civilian villagers Monday in U.S. airstrikes near here, but officials and elders said Taliban insurgents were responsible for the incident.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New project

Because I do not have enough going on in my life, plus I just got a scanner, I give you

Party Meatloaf

Now the monstrosities that lurk on my bookshelf can haunt your dreams too.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I would say that too

Now this is sad for a number of reasons, but you have to love the "I'm quoting an expert!" tone of the last line:

BELTON — University of Texas running back Ramonce Taylor was arrested early Sunday after Bell County sheriff's deputies found marijuana in a backpack in the rear of his vehicle, authorities said.

The Bell County sheriff's office said in a news release that a live .40-caliber round of ammunition also was found in the center console of the vehicle.

The sheriff first reported that deputies found more than 5 pounds of marijuana in Taylor's backpack, which would constitute a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in jail and $10,000 in fines.

If the marijuana is found to weigh more than 5 pounds, the charge will be upgraded. Law enforcement officials say 5 pounds of marijuana is much more than is commonly held for personal use.

Thank you, law enforcement officials!


A double positive from one poll number: most Americans are decent human beings, and Republicans admit that's not their base.

A New York Times/CBS poll last week found that 66 percent oppose the House's measure to build hundreds of miles of fences along the southern border. Sixty-one percent said illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status. Just 35 percent agreed with the House's position that they should be deported.

But House members say they are convinced that their voters came to a very different conclusion from the marches -- the problem of illegal immigration is even more troubling than they thought, and House Republicans must stand by their position.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The plot thickens

I've been waiting for something like this ever since reading Larry Johnson's reaction to Mary McCarthy's firing.

By the way, I know we've been distracted lately, what with Cheney's being linked directly to the smearing of Joe Wilson (handwritten notes on a copy of Wilson's NYT editorial, no less!), and the promise of "shocking" new accusations from an NSA whistleblower at this week's senate hearings . . . but has anyone noticed what's going on with the stock market lately?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

August 16th this year

One element of our new wacky education finance system I can get behind: mandating the fourth Monday of August as the earliest school start date. Every official explanation for early starts I've ever heard has been utterly specious. The number of instructional days doesn't change.

Early start dates are just a symptom of the standardized testing disease, and as long as they are ruled out across the state, the effect will be the same for all districts.

Now if they can just keep Rick Perry from drooling on the bill while he's signing it . . .

Friday, May 12, 2006

Don't point that thing at me

I guess we should have seen this coming, given that China and Russia shut down our march toward Iran:

Bush May Send Guard to Border
President Set to Speak on Immigration
By Jonathan Weisman and Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writers

Fun Friday Web site

Gmaps pedometer.

Zoom in on your favorite walking, jogging, or biking route, double-click to start, and then click from point to point along your route. Tallies the exact mileage for you--and you can even count the calories you'd burn walking if you like.

Try the satellite or hybrid maps if you cut across lots of parking lots, or take trails.

The Republican Curse of Pork

I keep seeing references in the ongoing CIA/Goss/Cunningham/Shirlington scandal about how Dusty Foggo (now resigned and under investigation) was brought in as a replacement nominee when Goss's first choice got shot down. Today's NYT reminds us how that happened:

The man Mr. Goss first selected to become the C.I.A.'s executive director, Michael V. Kostiw, had to turn down the job when it surfaced in the news media that he had resigned from the agency in the 1980's after being caught shoplifting bacon.

How could I have forgotten that?

Down, boy

I knew he'd break 30:

May 11, 2006, 9:12 pm
Bush Dips Into the 20s
President Bush’s job-approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January. Approval ratings for Congress overall also sank, and now stand at 18%.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

No one told me you could make a living that way

I highly recommend Heidi Kenney's Website, My Paper Crane. Among many other things, Heidi makes and sells plush donuts. I salute both her artistic genius and her remarkable ability to market plush donuts. I can see myself making plush donuts, but I would never figure out how to sell them. How different my life might otherwise have been.

Drip, drip. drip

Is it my imagination, or is the pace picking up?
Federal prosecutors have begun an investigation into Rep. Jerry Lewis, the Californian who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, government officials and others said, signaling the spread of a San Diego corruption probe.
The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles has issued subpoenas in an investigation into the relationship between Lewis (R-Redlands) and a Washington lobbyist linked to disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe), three people familiar with the investigation said.

Lewis is the guy who continues to refuse to open an investigation into Duke Cunningham's activities on the Appropriations Committee. Nothing to see here folks! Move along.