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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Geek Test

Alright. . .this thing seems to be making the local rounds. Here's my sorry-ass score. How will YOU do??

My computer geek score is greater than 45% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

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Latest Polls

Profound pessimism about the Iraq war has pushed George Bush's popularity to an all-time low of 34%, as new polls yesterday showed both American civilians and soldiers at odds with the White House over US objectives and strategy.

While some of the drop in support is attributable to discontent with domestic policies, it is clear the sectarian bloodletting in Iraq over the past week has extinguished hopes that December's elections could help stabilise the country and pave the way for US troop withdrawal.

Against that backdrop, a poll published by CBS News yesterday found that only 36% of Americans said the war was going well, and 30% thought President Bush was doing a good job of handling the conflict. Even fewer believed the results of the war were worth the cost. Those concerns have dragged Mr Bush's overall approval ratings down to levels not seen since the depths of Richard Nixon's presidency. Now, only 34% of the country approves of the way Mr Bush is handling his job and only 29% has a favorable view of him as a person.

One of the few public figures more unpopular at the moment is vice-president Dick Cheney, still under a cloud for having shot a friend in a hunting accident last month. Only 18% of Americans surveyed had a favorable view of Mr Cheney.

Read the rest here

Interactive AOL Polls HERE (including low points for former prez's)

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New Stephen King

I am about fifty pages from finishing the latest addition to the King Stable of Horror. . . Very good so far; it'll make you pause before reaching for your cell phone. . .


On October 1, God is in His heaven , the stock market stands at 10,140, most of the planes are on time, and Clayton Riddell, an artist from Maine, is almost bouncing up Boylston Street in Boston. He’s just landed a comic book deal that might finally enable him to support his family by making art instead of teaching it. He’s already picked up a small (but inexpensive!) gift for his long-suffering wife, and he knows just what he’ll get for his boy Johnny. Why not a little treat for himself? Clay’s feeling good about the future.

That changes in a hurry. The cause of the devastation is a phenomenon that will come to be known as The Pulse, and the delivery method is a cell phone. Everyone’s cell phone. Clay and the few desperate survivors who join him suddenly find themselves in the pitch-black night of civilization’s darkest age, surrounded by chaos, carnage, and a human horde that has been reduced to its basest nature…and then begins to evolve.

There’s really no escaping this nightmare. But for Clay, an arrow points home to Maine, and as he and his fellow refugees make their harrowing journey north they begin to see crude signs confirming their direction: KASHWAK=NO-FO. A promise, perhaps. Or a threat…

There are one hundred and ninety-three million cell phones in the United States alone. Who doesn’t have one? Stephen King’s utterly gripp, and fascinating novel doesn’t just ask the question “Can you hear me now?” It answers it with a vengeance.

Find out more at StephenKing.com.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

A dysfunctional district

This was a primary factor in our family's decision to leave East Allen last year, and move into the Southwest Allen district.Our oldest daughter was ready to start school, with her younger sister not far behind. I could not, in good conscience, place them into that school system as it exists today.
Ironically, my parents moved from SWACS to the EACS district 35 years ago, as it was well-rated and growing at the time. What a difference a generation can make. . .

Excellent read from this Sunday's FW Journal Gazette: Click the link on the bottom to read the full story (while it's still available).

(as reported in the Ft.Wayne Journal Gazette- Sunday 02/26-06)

They were five diverse communities driven into one another’s arms in 1964, fearful of being swallowed up by the big city.
Forty-two years later, the East Allen County Schools district is still shaped by the provincialism out of which it was born.
“These are five separate communities, and the schools are the source of so many community activities,” said one former school board member, Mary Barksdale. “You go to football games, go to basketball games, band concerts. The gyms are packed with people. Those schools are an integral part of their lives.”
East Allen’s diverse school communities have kept their identities, but the economic and social cost has become unsustainable. Through much of its history, the district has been threatened by the realities of public school financing. It’s frighteningly expensive to maintain five tiny high schools in a district of just more than 10,000 students, and school officials have grown used to pinching pennies and slashing budgets.
Mindful of their constituents’ wishes, East Allen school boards in the past 16 years have dispatched two superintendents who dared to suggest closing a high school. But many people wonder how long East Allen can survive without real change.

Read the rest of this Journal Gazette story here (for a limited time).

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Goodbye to the Night Stalker

Darren McGavin was painting a movie set in 1945 when he learned of an opening for a small role in the show, climbed off his ladder, and returned through Columbia’s front gates to land the part.
The husky, tough-talking performer went on to become one of the busiest actors in television and film, starring in five TV series, including “Mike Hammer,” and endearing holiday audiences with his role as the grouchy dad in the 1983 comedy classic “A Christmas Story.”
McGavin, 83, died Saturday of natural causes at a Los Angeles-area hospital with his family at his side, said his son Bogart McGavin.

McGavin also had leading roles in TV’s “Riverboat” and cult favorite “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” Among his memorable portrayals was Gen. George Patton in the 1979 TV biography “Ike.”
Despite his busy career in television, McGavin was awarded only one Emmy: in 1990 for an appearance as Candice Bergen’s opinionated father in an episode of “Murphy Brown.”He lacked the prominence in films he enjoyed in television, but he registered strongly in featured roles such as the young artist in Venice in “Summertime,” David Lean’s 1955 film with Katharine Hepburn and Rosanno Brazzi; Frank Sinatra’s crafty drug supplier in “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955); Jerry Lewis’s parole officer in “The Delicate Delinquent” (1957); and the gambler in 1984’s “The Natural.” He also starred alongside Don Knotts, who died Friday night, in the 1976 family comedy “No Deposit, No Return.”

Throughout his television career, McGavin gained a reputation as a curmudgeon willing to bad-mouth his series and combat studio bosses.
McGavin starred in the private eye series “Mike Hammer” in the 1950s. In 1968 he told a reporter: “Hammer was a dummy. I made 72 of those shows, and I thought it was a comedy. In fact, I played it camp. He was the kind of guy who would’ve waved the flag for George Wallace.”

Born in Spokane, Wash., McGavin was sketchy in interviews about his childhood. He told TV Guide in 1973 that he was a constant runaway at 10 and 11, and as a teen lived in warehouses in Tacoma, Wash., and dodged the police and welfare workers. His parents disappeared, he said.
He spent a year at College of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., taking part in dramatics, then landed in Los Angeles. He washed dishes and was hired to paint sets at Columbia studio. He was working on “A Song to Remember” when an agent told him of an opening for a small role.
“I climbed off a painter’s ladder and washed up at a nearby gas station,” McGavin said. “I returned through Columbia’s front gate with the agent.” The director, Charles Vidor, hired him. No one recognized him but the paint foreman, who said, “You’re fired.”
McGavin studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Actors Studio and began working in live TV drama and on Broadway. He appeared with Charlton Heston in “Macbeth” on TV and played Happy in “Death of a Salesman” in New York and on the road.
He is survived by his four children - York, Megan, Bridget and Bogart - from a previous marriage to Melanie York McGavin, Bogart McGavin said. McGavin was separated from his second wife, Kathy Brown, he said. Services were set for March 5 at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

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Happy Birthday!

My daughter Samantha checks out her new Barbie Jeep at her 6th birthday party yesterday. (left)

She was joined by 16 of her five and six year-old friends, 5 of whom also stayed over for a slumber party here last night. This all sounded good in the planning stages. . .

Anyways. . .my hearing has returned to near-normal, the popcorn has been carefully retreived from every crevice of the house, and all misplaced bears have been returned to their grateful owners. All of our televisions have been changed back from the cartoon channel, and the cat has actually considered venturing out from underneath the entertainment center. Everything I look at still seems to have a pink haze around it, but this too, I am sure, shall soon pass.


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Friday, February 24, 2006

Follow Me

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Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat

A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife", after he was caught having sex with the animal.The goat's owner, Mr Alifi, said he surprised the man with his goat and took him to a council of elders.They ordered the man, Mr Tombe, to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) to Mr Alifi. We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together," Mr Alifi said.
Mr Alifi, Hai Malakal in Upper Nile State, told the Juba Post newspaper that he heard a loud noise around midnight on 13 February and immediately rushed outside to find Mr Tombe with his goat."When I asked him: 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up".Mr Alifi then called elders to decide how to deal with the case."They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife," Mr Alifi told the newspaper.

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Another Good Old Boy

The lobbying of former Senate majority leader Robert J. Dole on behalf of the Dubai-owned company set to take over management of terminals at six major U.S. seaports is creating a political problem for his wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.). As well it should.
The chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Jerry Meek, yesterday called on Sen. Dole to remove herself from "any congressional oversight" of the Dubai port deal. "The fact that Dubai is paying her husband to help pass the deal presents both a financial and ethical conflict of interest for Senator Dole," Meek said. Every day this list seems to grow. . .how many more friends of BushCo are in on this Dubai thing??

The rest of the story here.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Republicans speak out on Bush

-Sen. Lindsay Graham
''It's unbelievably tone deaf politically at this point in our history."
-- On the administration's pending sale of shipping operations at six U.S.

-Sen. Chuck Hagel
"I don't see... how things are getting better. I think things are getting worse. I think they're getting worse in Iraq. I think they're getting worse in Iran."

Arlen Specter
"You cannot have domestic search-and-seizure without a warrant." -- On the legality of the president's domestic spying program

Rep. Dennis Hastert
"We must not allow the possibility of compromising our national security due to lack of review or oversight by the federal government." -- On the port sale

Sen. Bill Frist
"[The deal raises] serious questions regarding the safety and security of our homeland."
-- On the port sale

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A prior UAE purchase

This is a photo of The Helmsley Building, at 230 Park Avenue, New York, NY. What is so special about this building? It's a fine example of early art-deco styling, and, as it's current name implies, was once owned by Leona Helmsley. It was most recently acquired by the United Arab Emirates 3 years ago. Nothing too exciting there, eh? It's just a 30 story building in Manhattan.
One slight problem, however. As any New Yorker would be able to point out to you, the most important part of this building is it's "basement". Said basement usually referred to by a name that you might be more familiar with than this particular building itself. . .
GRAND CENTRAL STATION. Yes, the very heart and nerve center of the entire New York City public subway system sits under UAE owned real estate. Something else to wonder about. . .

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

You really CAN find anything on Ebay

Nods to All Hat No Cattle for this little item.

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Folk Songs of the Far Right

Click on FOLK SONGS OF THE FAR RIGHT to hear this exciting new collection from Far-Rite Records! The perfect gift for your favorite neo-con.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Our National Security for sale

UPDATE: 6:45PM: It now appears that this is yet another "good ol' boys" deal for BushCo. Read the rest of the story here.

In a recent post I referred to "the fox now guarding the henhouse". Apparently the situation is far more bleaker than I had imagined, and the fox has been invited inside to live with the hens! The Bush administration, in yet another secretive deal is pushing to
give a United Arab Emirates-based company management control of six major U.S. seaports.
The deal -- which will affect the ports of New York and New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Miami, Florida; and New Orleans, Louisiana -- has rightly triggered security concerns among some members of Congress and the public. Some? The entire country should be shaking in it's collective shoes at the thought of turning over control of soft targets, like our ports, to nationals from a country that has long sponsored terrorism. Two of the September 11, 2001, hijackers were from the UAE. And most of the hijackers received money channeled through various sources based in the UAE, according to the Justice Department and the 9/11 Commission. Yet, this administration has said that "The UAE is a key ally in the war on terror". An ally to whom I ask you?

On Sunday, Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, held a news conference with relatives of some of those killed in the terrorist attacks, and denounced the takeover."Outsourcing the operation of our largest ports to a country with long involvement in terrorism is a homeland security accident waiting to happen," he said.

Other members of Congress have also been critical of the deal. On Friday, Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Hillary Clinton of New York announced they were working on legislation that would ban companies owned by foreign governments from controlling operations at U.S. ports.

Some Republican lawmakers have also expressed concern over the deal, including New York Rep. Peter King and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
"We certainly should investigate it," Graham said Sunday on Fox News.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cheney shoots three presidents in oval office mishap

As reported by Steve Martin:

Vice President Dick Cheney, while hunting wild geese in the Rose Garden, accidentally shot President Bush twice, once in the heart and once in the head. "I didn't really shoot the President twice," said Cheney. "The second time I shot him, I was president. It wasn't until my third shot, where I accidentally shot my own foot, that I had shot the president twice. I was officially injured and unable to govern, when Dennis Hastert came in, and stepped on the butt handle of the rifle causing it to swing up like a rake and shoot his hair off. I guess I'm officially responsible for that too, meaning I shot the acting president for a total of three occupants of the oval office. I'm not proud
, but it is a record."

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Jim Steinman - The VH1 Interview

Songwriter Jim Steinman has always thought big. His high school band was called The Clitoris That Thought It Was a Puppy. He wrote a musical about the Vietnam War. And after meeting Meat Loaf, he turned his obsessions with Phil Spector, Peter Pan and Harley-Davidson into the songs that will live forever on Bat Out of Hell. He told VH1 about the ultimate album’s epic gestation, and how he put Phil Rizzuto in every single household in Iceland.
VH1: How much of Bat Out Of Hell is a rock opera? Jim Steinman: It is more my psyche than one concept. I was always so fascinated with the idea of gangs. Peter Pan is nothing but a battle of gangs: Indians, mermaids, pirates, Lost Boys … they're all fighting over turf, which is Neverland. And these boys don't grow up, which is the ultimate rock 'n' roll mythology. Bat Out Of Hell is a mosaic, but if you put it all together it's part of the world of Lost Boys and Peter Pan and Neverland and a place where kids don't grow up. If you interviewed the Lost Boys, they'd each have a song on Bat Out Of Hell.

VH1: Were you trying to make an ultimate album when you made Bat Out Of Hell? Steinman: I didn't have a goddamn clue what the hell I was doing. I never intended to make records at all. I intended to do film or theater. Looking back at it, Bat Out Of Hell was completely insane. It's seven songs and almost all of them are eight or nine minutes. Most of them were edited down anyway. They were 20 minutes when I wrote them. I was trying to tell great stories and be very theatrical. I've always said, "If you don't go over the top you're not gonna see what's on the other side, so what's the point?"
VH1: Where did the phrase "Bat Out Of Hell" come from? Steinman: I always start with a title and then work from the title. I listen for everyday phrases because language is so rich. The phrase "Bat Out Of Hell" was either just in my brain or I might have been watching a football game and heard someone say, "Boy, that guy threw that thing like a Bat Out Of Hell." I constructed a story with a world where the night offered pleasures and forbidden secrets, but when the day came he had to leave like a Bat Out Of Hell. Then I thought, "I gotta write the most extreme crash song of all time." One of my favorite records was "Leader Of The Pack" by the Shangri-La's. You heard the motorcycle and it was like a movie. I wanted records to be like movies. I never wanted Bat Out Of Hell to sound like a real thing. What was so great about Phil Spector is he made records where you couldn't imagine the musicians playing. It was like when they enabled the camera to move in movies. It was no longer just a play. It was a movie. It had its own imagination. I thought Bat Out Of Hell should be in that tradition. You shouldn't just think of a band. It should be much more like entering a film.
VH1: Why did it take so many years to make this record? Steinman: Meat Loaf and I worked almost a year alone in a little rehearsal room with a piano. That was my favorite time. We worked bar by bar on these songs. We treated them like a film or theater rehearsal. Meat Loaf's manager David Sonenberg had the job of trying to get a record deal. That was just horrible. Everyone hated it. We were rejected by about 30 record companies and by about 17 to 20 producers. I love Clive Davis, but his rejection was brutal. He told Meat Loaf, "You have to adapt your singing so you're not belting in this legit Broadway style, because no one likes that anymore. The two of you should go back to the drawing board. There's some talent here, but it's misdirected. If you just listen to pop radio and a few pop singers, I think you'll see what they're going for." I really thought Meat was gonna kill Clive Davis!
VH1: How important is producer Todd Rundgren's part in Bat Out Of Hell? Steinman: Todd Rundgren is a genius and I don't use that word a lot. He was so instrumental in this being done. He's the only producer who would do it. "Paradise By the Dashboard Light," was 20 minutes when we did it in auditions, with Meatloaf making out with the singer Ellen Foley and Phil Rizzuto's speech - which at the time I would do live, going around the bases like in baseball. Every other producer would see something like that and think, "This is crazy!" Todd saw us audition and he said, "I don't see the problem. Let's go." His attitude was, "It's a load of inflated junk but at least it's funny." He brought all the pieces together and did all the background vocals. Watching Todd Rundgren create background vocals has got to be one of the most thrilling experiences you can ever have in music. It's as exciting as if you got to watch Mozart compose. He did complex melodies that intertwined with counterpoints. Everyone was terrified to admit they couldn't, they didn't have a clue what to sing. I think he made it that complicated for perverse fun.

VH1: What was the atmosphere at the recording sessions like? Steinman: The sessions were in Woodstock, N.Y., in Bearsville Studios, which was Todd's studio. They were really hard for Meat Loaf. I spent a lot of time with Todd and Roy Bittan, the pianist, working on the arrangements and the music, which Meat Loaf really wasn't involved in. Meat Loaf would be in the corner while we were recording. He didn't know what to say. I remember he finally got up the nerve to leave the corner and come up to Todd. Todd went, "Yes, what do you want?" Meat Loaf said, "Well, I was just thinking this part here, you could do it like Motown R&B." Todd said, "Yes, we could. But that would be wrong if we did, so why don't you go back to the corner and let us make your record." He didn't take it well. That was one of the nights he tried to kill himself. Todd was brutally efficient. He mixed the whole record in one day, from 4:00 PM to 4:00 AM, and it was one of the wildest things I've ever seen. But we ended up remixing it and it took about two months. It was like that when he took the record to be mastered. It was a drive-thru mastering place, like Burger King, called Stone. He handed it through the window to the receptionist and she said, "What do I do with this?" He said, "Make it sound good." And he walked away.
VH1: Did he think your idea for the motorcycle sound on "Bat Out Of Hell" was a bad idea? Steinman: We had that whole song down and it was brilliant. I think Todd felt it was all over. But I was like, "Where's the motorcycle?" He says, "Oh, you want a motorcycle. A thousand background vocals, a million guitar solos, a ten-minute song … and you want a motorcycle." "Yeah, I want a motorcycle. Do you have motorcycle sound effects?" He says, "No. I'll do it with my guitar." He went over to his guitar rack and said, "Let's see, motorcycle … here we go." He goes, "I forgot to ask you. Is it a Yamaha, a Kawasaki, or a Harley Davidson?" I said, "Harley-Davidson." "I thought so. Why did I even ask?" He goes and adjusts three buttons on his guitar rack and did the motorcycle with his guitar. You hear it rev up, you hear the motor, you hear the fire coming out of it, and you hear it do a wheelie. I thought he was going to stop for gas.

VH1: Didn't Todd help fund the Bat Out Of Hell project? Steinman: Todd started doing the record without a record company, basically for his Bearsville label. So he funded the record. Certainly Todd covered the first $75,000, and probably more after that. That's why it was so catastrophic when the record was finished that Warner Bros. turned it down. All of a sudden Meat Loaf's manager David Sonenberg calls me and says, "There's a guy named Steve Popovich." He used to run A&R at Epic, and he had this little company they gave him when he left A & R called Cleveland International. Popovich said, "All I had to hear was the introduction to 'You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth.' It's the best introduction I've ever heard." It was assumed that we would sell 10 copies in Cleveland. Bat Out Of Hell became huge overseas before America. It's the first American record, I think, that sold something like five million copies overseas before it even sold 400,000 or so here. We played Toledo and I had water from the plumbing dripping on my head. The next day we flew to Australia and were met in Melbourne by about 10,000 fans. We had a convoy of Hell's Angels that took us to the hotel from the airport. A week later we're back in Dayton, Ohio with urine coming down on my head. It's gone 50 times platinum in Reykjavik. Every home in Iceland has 10 copies of Bat Out Of Hell!

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Saturday, February 18, 2006


Way back in the 1990's, before the advent of the internet, we computer geeks ( and many novices) used to run BBS's (Bulletin Board Systems). Click here for a local listing, by area code, of all of the local systems that once ran here.

BBS's were sort of like a local mini-internet dial-up local system. Sysops (System Operators) would program and run their own local boards on their own personal computers. Features included interactive message boards, file sharing, and gaming. Many BBS's zero'd in on a particular niche, such as messaging, doors (online games), or file sharing.

I ran City Limits BBS, one of the top-rated local boards here in Fort Wayne, per the News Sentinel. Our local focus was messaging first, and online doors ( games). We ran from 1994 til 2000. CL is still saved on it's original pute, and I would love to put it back up at some point in time.

I hope you enjoy these screen captures from
some of the old local boards.

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Scholars Rate Worst Presidential Blunders

From Monica-gate to the Vietnam War escalation, U.S. presidents have have made some huge errors in judgement. According to a survey of presidential historians organized by the University of Louisville's McConnell Center,President James Buchanan gets the top "honors" for failing to avert the Civil War. Scholars who participated said Buchanan didn't do enough to oppose efforts by Southern states to secede from the Union before the Civil War.
The second worst mistake, the survey found, was Andrew Johnson's decision just after the Civil War to side with Southern whites during reconstruction by doing nothing for Southern blacks beyond abolishing slavery. We continue to pay for Johnson's errors.
The other Johnson,Lyndon, a third cousin of this writer, took the No. 3 spot for allowing the Vietnam War to intensify and escalate into a quagmire, much like today's Iraq scenario.
Where does Bill Clinton's Monica Lewinsky scandal rank? Most scholars said it belonged at No. 10, saying that it affected Clinton's presidency (and sleeping quarters) more than it did American history and the public.

The rest of the top 10 blunders:

4: Woodrow Wilson's refusal to compromise on the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, leading to a "do-over".

5: Richard Nixon's involvement in the Watergate cover-up. I think we have a new contender for this one. . .

6: James Madison's failure to keep the United States out of the War of 1812 with Britain. And for failing to stay current on his White House insurance premiums.

7: Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807, a self-imposed prohibition on trade with Europe during the Napoleonic Wars.

8: John F. Kennedy allowing the Bay of Pigs Invasion that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

9: Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra Affair, the effort to sell arms to Iran and use the money to finance an armed anti-communist group in Nicaragua. Arms that are now pointed our way. Reagan was elected primarily over the Iran hostage crisis, and THEN wanted to sell them ARMS? And they called Clinton and Kerry "flip-floppers".

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

You don't want to make him mad. . .

Would-be criminals beware: you don't want to run afoul of Deputy Lou "The Incredible Hulk" Ferrigno. The former bodybuilder and star of the 1970s TV show no longer turns into a raging green monster when he sees people breaking the law. But since being sworn in Monday night as a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reserve deputy, he has the power to arrest them.
"I'm having a blast," said Ferrigno after his swearing-in ceremony. "My father was a police officer with the New York Police Department, I've always had a high respect for officers," he added. "I want to give back to the community, and I want to work with young kids, help them get off drugs."
Ferrigno, 54, began training to become a reserve deputy last September after passing a background check. He completed training in firearms, first aid, and high speed driving techniques and was recognized as "an outstanding trainee" by Sheriff Lee Baca.
"Mr. Ferrigno will certainly help inspire those currently serving as reserves, and he'll be an encouragement to those who may wish to become" reserve deputies, Baca said in a statement.
Ferrigno, who will serve at least 20 hours a month, suffered a partial hearing loss in childhood that will result in his being assigned to duties that likely won't result in his having to make arrests. Instead, he'll focus on helping recruit new deputies and work with the sheriff's Youth Activities League and the Special Victims Bureau, which assists abused children.
Ferrigno was a renowned bodybuilder before he starred in the CBS television series "The Incredible Hulk" from 1977 to 1982. The late actor Bill Bixby played mild-mannered scientist David Bruce Banner who, as Ferrigno, turned into a Herculean, green-skinned monster whenever he lost his temper. He switched back to Bixby's character as soon as he calmed down.

Click here for
The Official Ferrigno Site

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Cheney Plays for Folsom (EXPLICIT)

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Buy Your Gas at Citgo: Join the BUY-cott!

Looking for an easy way to protest Bush foreign policy week after week? And an easy way to help alleviate global poverty? Buy your gasoline at Citgo stations. And tell your friends.
Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor. The country is Venezuela. The President is Hugo Chavez. Call him "the Anti-Bush."
Citgo is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela -- not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. There are 14,000 Citgo gas stations in the US. (Click here
http://www.citgo.com/CITGOLocator/StoreLocator.jsp to find one near you.) By buying your gasoline at Citgo, you are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela's democratic government is using to provide health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for the majority of Venezuelans.
Instead of using government to help the rich and the corporate, as Bush does, Chavez is using the resources and oil revenue of his government to help the poor in Venezuela. A country with so much oil wealth shouldn't have 60 percent of its people living in poverty, earning less than $2 per day. With a mass movement behind him, Chavez is confronting poverty in Venezuela. That's why large majorities have consistently backed him in democratic elections. And why the Bush administration supported an attempted military coup in 2002 that sought to overthrow Chavez.
So this is the opposite of a boycott. Call it a BUYcott. Spread the word.
Of course, if you can take mass transit or bike or walk to your job, you should do so. And we should all work for political changes that move our country toward a cleaner environment based on renewable energy. The BUYcott is for those of us who don't have a practical alternative to filling up our cars.
So get your gas at Citgo. And help fuel a democratic revolution in Venezuela.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney's Shooting Spree

As reported by Bill Maher. . .

"Keep going, we'll come back for him later, he's fine."
"Um. Sir. Mr. Vice President, he's kinda just laying there."
"Shhhhhh!!!! He's a lawyer. You want him to sue?...Harry? You OK? Harry? See? He's fine. This is just part of the administration's new tort reform package."
"Sir, he's not moving."
"He's just sleeping it off.
Hand me another round. I'm going to get me some quail."
"I think he's hurt sir. He's bleeding."
"You think he's hurt. Are you a doctor?"
"Yes. I'm your doctor. I travel with you all the time."
"Ah yes. The Jew. I didn't recognize you without the rib spreader."
"I think we need to call one of your ambulances."
"Aw, now why do you want to go and do something like that? If Antonin hears about this he won't come duck hunting next time there's an important case before the Supreme Court that I need him to rule on."
"Sir. I'm doing the best to stop the bleeding, but we're out in the middle of nowhere. No equipment. No sanitation. This is a far cry from George Washington University Hospital."
"Yeah, it's more like the County Hospital right next door to it. Well, do your best."
"I'm stanching the blood flow."
"No you idiot. I meant do your best to make it look self-inflicted."

"There you go, a Purple Heart."
"Thanks, Dick. Now we both have one."
"Yeah, but yours is on the outside."
The new season of
Real Time with Bill Maher premieres this Friday, February 17, at 11 pm on HBO.

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Honey, I love. . .ME!

Want to really surprise your significant other on Valentine's Day? Forget the candy, forget the roses, to be real dandy get matching noses! What? ?

The latest craze in China is for couples to undergo plastic surgery to make their noses, and sometimes even their eyes, match.

"I suggested it as a way of celebrating our relationship and bringing us closer together with a special kind of bond," Liu Yan, 24, was quoted as saying of the matching nose jobs for her and her 28-year-old boyfriend. "We're very happy with the results," Liu added. One of these two REALLY loves themself. Maybe next they can both have clones made so that they can experience true "eternal Love". . .

Shanghai's plastic surgery business has risen by up to 30 this month, fueled by Valentine's Day and the lunar New Year, when young people typically receive job bonuses and cash gifts from older relatives.Some clinics advertise special Valentine's Day packages. ConBio Plastic and Laser Surgery Hospital, a China-U.S. joint venture, is offering a 20 percent discount from Feb. 14-17, said the clinic's manager, who identified himself only as Mr. Chin (err, Chen. Sorry)."You can also get some free roses," he said.

Unknown in China just a few years ago, plastic surgery is now a $2 billion business as newly prosperous Chinese seek shapelier noses, fuller breasts and other features. Shanghai is a center for the business which is celebrated in plastic surgery inspired beauty contests and television shows. First they start hogging all of the oil, and now their trying to out plasticize us. Where WILL it end??

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Another Cave-In on the Patriot Act

The Patriot Act has been one of the few issues on which Congress has shown backbone lately. Last year, it refused to renew expiring parts of the act until greater civil liberties protections were added. But key members of the Senate have now caved, agreeing to renew these provisions in exchange for only minimal improvements. At a time when the public is growing increasingly concerned about the lawlessness of the Bush administration's domestic spying, the Senate should insist that any reauthorization agreement do more to protect Americans against improper secret searches.
When the Patriot Act was passed after Sept. 11, 2001, Congress made some of its most far-reaching provisions temporary so it would be able to reconsider them later on. Those provisions were set to expire last December, but Congress agreed to a very short extension so greater civil liberties protections could be added. This week, four key Republican senators - later backed by two Democrats - said that they had agreed to a deal with the White House. It is one that does little to protect Americans from government invasions of their privacy.
One of the most troubling aspects of the Patriot Act is the "gag order" imposed by Section 215, which prohibits anyone holding financial, medical and other private records of ordinary Americans from saying anything when the government issues a subpoena for those records. That means that a person whose records are being taken, and whose privacy is being invaded, has no way to know about the subpoena and no way to challenge it.
Rather than removing this gag order, the deal keeps it in place for a full year - too long for Americans to wait to learn that the government is spying on them. Even after a year, someone holding such records would have to meet an exceedingly high standard to get the gag order lifted. It is not clear that this change has much value at all.
The compromise also fails to address another problem with Section 215: it lets the government go on fishing expeditions, spying on Americans with no connection to terrorism or foreign powers. The act should require the government, in order to get a subpoena, to show that there is a connection between the information it is seeking and a terrorist or a spy.
But the deal would allow subpoenas in instances when there are reasonable grounds for simply believing that information is relevant to a terrorism investigation. That is an extremely low bar.
One of the most well-publicized objections to the Patriot Act is the fact that it allows the government to issue national security letters, an extremely broad investigative tool, to libraries, forcing them to turn over their patrons' Internet records. The wording of the compromise is unclear. If it actually says that national security letters cannot be used to get Internet records from libraries, that would be an improvement, but it is not clear that it does.
In late December, it looked as if there was bipartisan interest in the Senate for changing the worst Patriot Act p rovisions and standing up for Americans' privacy rights. Now the hope of making the needed improvements has faded considerably.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

RIP Peter Benchley

Peter Benchley, author of "Jaws," died yesterday of pulmonary fibrosis, age 65. Thirty years ago, he terrified audiences with his story of death from the deep. I'm still a bit afraid to venture far from the beach when at the ocean, but that may have much to do with the fact that I never learned to swim. I hope you enjoy this interview with Mr.Benchley from April 5, 2000. . .

Benchley Wouldn’t Write
Same ‘Jaws’ Today

NEW YORK - As he's being lowered into the water off southern Australia in a shark cage, author Peter Benchley has a sudden morbid thought.

"One of these days one of these fellows is going to take revenge for 'Jaws,"' said the Princeton novelist whose shark tale cleared beaches 25 years ago, "and I don't want to he around.

He's safe. Great White Sharks don't appear to hold grudges. And if the sharks of the world could somehow understand what Benchley is doing now to protect them and educate the world about their behavior, they'd probably watch his back, not bite it.

A quarter century after "Jaws" chilled all who read it, Benchley caught up with sharks for a "National Geographic" special that airs Sunday on CNBC at 8 p.m. His impressions and David Doubilet's photos are also in April's issue of the magazine.

If there's one thing that his research in Australia and off the coast of South Africa taught him, it's that he could not write "Jaws" today.

"I could not posit the situation now that I posited then - sort of a rogue shark that came around and wouldn't go away because it had found a steady diet of human beings," Benchley said in an inter-view over a seafood lunch (crab, not shark).

Scientists have learned that much of the shark behavior they used to ascribe to aggression is simply curiosity.

"I attributed to them a kind of marauding monsterism that became what 'Jaws' was," he said. "Now we know that sharks do not attack boats. The way they decide what to eat is by biting it."

During the split second after a shark sinks its teeth into human flesh, it makes a complex calculation to determine whether the prey is worth the caloric energy needed to kill and eat it, Benchley said.

Sharks consider humans, for the most part, too bony and lean to make a good meal. Fatty seals are much better. That's why 75 percent of humans attacked by Great Whites are spit out.

One bite is often enough, as Rodney Fox learned. He was attacked in 1963 while spearfishing off the coast of Australia, and needed 462 stitches. Rather than begrudge the species, he's spent much of his time working to protect sharks, and accompanied Benchley on his research mission. Growing up, Benchley had always been fascinated by sharks during summers in Nantucket, and wanted to write a book about them. Clearly, others shared his interest.

He doesn't regret "Jaws," or the more than 20 million copies of the book that were sold. It gave a struggling free-lance writer a successful and comfortable career.

"Completely inadvertently, it lapped into a very, very deep fear," he said. "If I had done it on purpose, it would be one thing. But I didn't know for years what was

responsible for the enormous phenomenon of Jaws. He didn't like the "momentary spasm of macho nonsense" that made people go out and kill sharks in the wake of his book. He's comforted by the letters he gets to this day from people who say his book triggered an interest in sharks and a desire to preserve them. The development of modern fishing technology, like long lines that stretch as far as 80 miles, has done more harm to sharks than

any response to "Jaws," Benchley believes. He smiles when reminded of the nightmares "Jaws" caused, and how John Williams' ominous score for the movie became a symbol of impending doom.

"I felt that way about 'Psycho.' When I went to see 'Psycho' in 1961, my date wet her pants," he said. "I cannot be responsible for how people react. I can only be responsible for what I do."

Benchley is amazed by what he sees in a Great White Shark feeding ground off the coast of South Africa. The sharks leap out of the water while attacking seals, their balletic movements fearsome yet beautiful.

And he watches, in horror at first, as the co-owner of a shark-diving operation reaches down toward a shark that had surfaced near his boat's motor. The man wraps his hand around the shark's nose. The animal pauses, seemingly transfixed for a few seconds, then disappears back into the water.

"If you've ever seen a Great White Shark," Benchley said, "it's something you never forget."

He’ll never forget the details of one inadvertent encounter off the coast of the Bahamas in the early 1980s. He was in scuba gear, diving down to see a huge pile of cannons that had been buried at sea. Slowly, he swam along one side of the cannons while, unseen by him, a shark was swimming along the other side. A companion watching from the surface could see both of them, and slapped the water to get Benchley's attention. Not understanding, he ignored the warning.

He continued to swim until he reached the front of the pile, arriving at the exact same time the shark did. They stopped; nose to snout, each shocked at the sight of the other. The shark's fins dropped like brakes, he voided his bowels, then fled.

"I took off needless to say, in the other direction," Benchley said.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Confessions of an Economic Hitman

In this shocking memoir, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins tells of his own inner journey from willing servant of empire to impassioned advocate for the rights of oppressed people. Covertly recruited by the United States National Security Agency and on the payroll of an international consulting firm, he traveled the world—to Indonesia, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other strategically important countries. His job was to implement policies that promoted the interests of the U.S. corporatocracy (a coalition of government, banks, and corporations) while professing to alleviate poverty—policies that alienated many nations and ultimately led to September 11 and growing anti-Americanism. Within a few weeks of its release , Confessions of an Economic Hit Man landed onThe New York Times Bestseller List, then 19 other bestseller lists including the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. The author has been interviewed repeatedly on national radio and television shows, including Amy Goodman's Democracy Now, CSPAN's Book TV, and PBS' Now with David Brancaccio. And now the book is being published in 9 languages around the world. According to John Perkins, "It is accomplishing an important objective in inspiring people to think and talk and to know that we can change the world."

Read more about this fascinating book here.

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Abramoff counters Bush's stance

The disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff told a magazine editor in recent days that he had met with President Bush many times and was invited to the president's Texas ranch for a gathering of campaign contributors in 2003, the editor said Thursday.
The journalist, Kim Eisler, national editor of Washingtonian magazine, said in an interview that he had received the information in e-mail messages from Mr. Abramoff, a major Republican fund-raiser who pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to bribe public officials. The messages suggest an effort by Mr. Abramoff to cast doubt on Mr. Bush's insistence that he does not recall the two of them meeting and that whatever contact they might have had was fleeting and for the purposes of a handshake and a picture.
In one message, Mr. Abramoff is reported as saying that Mr. Bush had "one of the best memories of any politician I have ever met" and that he "saw me in almost a dozen settings and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids." It added: "Perhaps he has forgotten everything. Who knows."

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Libby implicates Cheney

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.
According to sources with firsthand knowledge, Cheney authorized Libby to release additional classified information, including details of the NIE, to defend the administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case for war.
Libby specifically claimed that in one instance he had been authorized to divulge portions of a then-still highly classified National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein's purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to correspondence recently filed in federal court by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald.
Beyond what was stated in the court paper, say people with firsthand knowledge of the matter, Libby also indicated what he will offer as a broad defense during his upcoming criminal trial: that Vice President Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials had earlier encouraged and authorized him to share classified information with journalists to build public support for going to war. Later, after the war began in 2003, Cheney authorized Libby to release additional classified information, including details of the NIE, to defend the administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case for war.
Libby testified to the grand jury that he had been authorized to share parts of the NIE with journalists in the summer of 2003 as part of an effort to rebut charges then being made by former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson that the Bush administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make a public case for war.

Read the rest of the story at The National Journal.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006


Today marks the first anniversary of our move to our beautiful new home in Aboite. It's hard to beleive that an entire year has passed since our dreams came true, and our family began a new life here. It's amazing what one can accomplish, despite all odds, when you place your children first in your life's goals.
We had a nice home, by most standards. . .MY boyhood home actually. I purchased it from my parents fifteen years ago. Not the largest, not the fanciest, but full of love, memories, and lots of sweat equity by moi. I committed several years and several thousand dollars upgrading my home. I hoped to stay there forever, worked hard at taking care of and improving my property, even serving as president of my neighborhood association. We set records for voluntary association dues collection, and worked hard to improve our appearance. But there was just no overcoming the decline in the area; not enough residents seemed to care about what was happening around them, other than to place blame and deride the "bad press" regarding the south side of town. To the four to five people who always volunteered, always showed up for association meetings, and really cared. . I am sorry. I tried, I tried my best. As did JoAnn, Mike, and others before us. God bless you, and continue to be involved. It is appreciated even by those who are not involved and do not stop to say "thank you". They are the people who need you most, although they may not know it. They will miss you if you are not out there looking out for them.
I had my blinders on for YEARS, but having children is a HUGE wake-up call. Schools with the worst ratings in the state, total loss of grocery stores and other retail, and rising crime rates, forced me to leave my home of thirty years. Aboite is very much like my old neighborhood when we moved there in 1970. Ironically, my parents moved there from Lafayette Township, just south of here, to access better schools and a growing area of Allen County. Hindsight is 20/20. . .You never know what the future will bring. You roll the dice and cross your fingers. It's all basically a crapshoot. Here's hoping that my bet turns out better than my Mom and Dad's, God rest their souls.

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Fox now guarding henhouse

Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay', forced to step down as the No. 2 Republican in the House, scored a soft landing Wednesday as GOP leaders rewarded him with a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee.
DeLay, R-Texas, also claimed a seat on the subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department, which is currently investigating an influence-peddling scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his dealings with lawmakers. The subcommittee also has responsibility over
NASA, a top priority for DeLay, since the Johnson Space Center is located in his Houston-area district.
"Allowing Tom DeLay to sit on a committee in charge of giving out money is like putting Michael Brown back in charge of FEMA — Republicans in Congress just can't seem to resist standing by their man," said Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
GOP leaders also named California Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon as chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee. Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, vacated that post after winning a campaign to replace DeLay.
McKeon is a seven-term conservative who has a generally good relationship with educators. He authored a 2001 law to remove disincentives for workers who would have lost part of their
Social Security benefits when switching jobs to become public school teachers.
DeLay was able to rejoin the powerful Appropriations panel — he was a member until becoming majority leader in 2003 — because of a vacancy created after the resignation of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif. Cunningham pleaded guilty in November to charges relating to accepting $2.4 million in bribes for government business and other favors.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bush blasted at King funeral

Speakers took a rare opportunity to criticise US President George W. Bush's policies to his face at the funeral of Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Civil-rights leader the Rev. Joseph Lowery and former President Jimmy Carter cited King's legacy as a leader in her own right and advocate of nonviolence as they launched barbs over the Iraq war, government social policies and Bush's domestic eavesdropping program.

Bush sat watching the long service before an audience of 10,000, including politicians, civil rights leaders and entertainers at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, and a national cable television audience.

Lowery, former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which King helped found in 1957, gave a playful reading of a poem in eulogy of King.

"She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war / She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar," he said.

"We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there / But Coretta knew and we knew that there are weapons of misdirection right down here / Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."

The mourners gave a standing ovation. Bush's reaction could not be seen on the television coverage, but after Lowery finished speaking, the president shook his hand and laughed.

King, seen by many as the "first lady" of the American civil rights movement, died last week in a Mexican alternative health clinic at the age of 78, after complications from ovarian cancer and a recent stroke and heart attack.

Bush, speaking before his critics, said, "By going forward with a strong and forgiving heart, Coretta Scott King not only secured her husband's legacy, she built her own."

With Washington debating the legality of Bush's domestic eavesdropping on Americans suspected of al Qaeda ties, Carter also drew applause with pointed comments on federal efforts to spy on the Kings.

"It was difficult for them personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated, and they became the targets of secret government wiretapping and other surveillance," he said.

Speaking later, Bush's father, former President George Bush, broke any tension by recalling his own meetings as president with Lowery and gave a score: "Lowery 21, Bush 3, it wasn't a fair fight."

Check out this follow up from William Pitt. (02/12/06)

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Bayh urges stance on national security

In a speech last week in Washington and in an interview, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, who is considering a run for president in 2008, sharply criticized fellow Democrats who were arguing that the party should focus only on domestic issues and turn away from national security, since that has been the strong suit for this White House since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
"I think the Republicans are ripe for the taking on this issue," Mr. Bayh said in the interview, "but not until we rehabilitate our own image. I think there's a certain element of denial about how we are viewed, perhaps incorrectly but viewed nonetheless, by many Americans as being deficient on national security."
In his speech, to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mr. Bayh said: "As Democrats, we have a patriotic duty and political imperative to lay out our ideas for protecting America. Frankly, our fellow citizens have doubts about us. We have work to do."

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rove counting heads on the Senate Judiciary Committee

UPDATE 02-09-06: One hopeful sign of nonpartisan sanity came from the House yesterday. Representative Heather Wilson, the New Mexico Republican who heads the subcommittee that supervises the National Security Agency, told The Times that she had "serious concerns" about the spying and wanted a full investigation. With Karl Rove reported to be threatening Election Day revenge against anyone who breaks ranks on this issue, Ms. Wilson deserves support for a principled stand.

The White House has been twisting arms to ensure that no Republican member votes against President Bush in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the administration's unauthorized wiretapping.

Congressional sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who votes against the president. The sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November.

"It's hardball all the way," a senior GOP congressional aide said.

The sources said the administration has been alarmed over the damage that could result from the Senate hearings, which began on Monday, Feb. 6. They said the defection of even a handful of Republican committee members could result in a determination that the president violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Such a determination could lead to impeachment proceedings.

Over the last few weeks, Mr. Rove has been calling in virtually every Republican on the Senate committee as well as the leadership in Congress. The sources said Mr. Rove's message has been that a vote against Mr. Bush would destroy GOP prospects in congressional elections.

"He's [Rove] lining them up one by one," another congressional source said.

Mr. Rove is leading the White House campaign to help the GOP in November’s congressional elections. The sources said the White House has offered to help loyalists with money and free publicity, such as appearances and photo-ops with the president.

Those deemed disloyal to Mr. Rove would appear on his blacklist. The sources said dozens of GOP members in the House and Senate are on that list.

So far, only a handful of GOP senators have questioned Mr. Rove's tactics.

Some have raised doubts about Mr. Rove's strategy of painting the Democrats, who have opposed unwarranted surveillance, as being dismissive of the threat posed by al Qaeda terrorists.

"Well, I didn't like what Mr. Rove said, because it frames terrorism and the issue of terrorism and everything that goes with it, whether it's the renewal of the Patriot Act or the NSA wiretapping, in a political context," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican.

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It's Ken who has anger management problems

GOP Chairman, Ken Mehlman, made the talk show rounds on Sunday in order to dismiss Hillary Clinton as a woman who “seems to have a lot of anger.” And what was Mehlman’s evidence of Clinton’s deep-seated anger? Her assertion that the Bush administration is one of the worst in history and clearly out of step with mainstream America.Hmmm…. Do Clinton’s conclusions reflect anger, or an accurate assessment of an administration which has gutted the treasury, eroded the environment, added millions to the rolls of those without health insurance, botched this medicare prescription drug plan, increased those living in poverty, divided our society, rolled back our hard-earned civil rights and liberties, ruined our reputation, frayed our military, undermined our security, and overall weakened America? Perhaps, Mr. Mehlman, the Senator's onto something. I think there are a lot of citizens who are mad as hell about what's happening to a nation they love. Have you checked out the polls on how many folks believe this country is heading in the wrong direction?

Mehlman's crude remarks are ridiculous in another way. He claims that the senator has "a very leftwing record" and that it does not reflect the values of most Americans. Hillary Clinton is against setting a timetable for withdrawal from the disastrous occupation of Iraq, and she hasn't fought for universal health care. These two issues, as Paul Krugman points out in his strong column in yesterday's New York Times, are majority positions. It is this extremist Administration which is out of step with the values of most Americans. But, instead of tending to the nation's needs, this White House sends out lockstep attack dogs like Mehlman.

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