Folkbum has returned from his hiatus.
Go pay him a visit and welcome him back.
Folkbum has returned from his hiatus.
Meet the real Rain Man: He inspired a movie and now he is reaching for the sky with NASA
"Kim has read more than 9,000 books and memorised them with his photographic mind.
Unlike any other savant known to the world scientific community, Kim can read a page with each eye simultaneously, even if the book is upside down or sideways."
I read an article about Kim Peek in an issue of The Week, and found it fascinating. At age 3, Kim asked his father Fran what the word "confidential" meant. When his father jokingly told him to look it up in a dictionary, Kim crawled to the desk and found the word within 30 seconds. By age 4 1/2, he had memorized the first eight volumes of a set of encyclopedias.
"Kim was born with an unusually large head and a water blister inside his skull that damaged the left hemisphere, which controls language and motor skills. And in 1988, when he was given his first scan, his neuroscientist was shocked to discover that Kim has no corpus callosum, the membrane that separates the two hemispheres of the brain. Scientists want to find out whether Kim’s brain is fused into one huge databank or whether he has the equivalent of two brains separately processing phenomenal quantities of information — but with little reasoning."
Wisconsin Republicans Reveal Plans to Eliminate Same Day Registration
The state GOP has come clean and formally admitted its plans to do away with same-day registration in Wisconsin. Their motivation is obvious. Since Wisconsin has voted Democratic in presidential races for five straight elections, their only hope to turn the state "red" appears to be to decrease voter turnout on Election Day.
Salon reporter Eric Boehlert has an article in Salon about the lack of coverage the mainstream media has given to the Jeff Gannon/James Guckert story:
"Ordinarily, revelations that a former male prostitute, using an alias (Jeff Gannon) and working for a phony news organization, was ushered into the White House -- without undergoing a full-blown security background check -- in order to pose softball questions to administration officials would qualify as news by any recent Beltway standard. Yet as of Thursday, ABC News, which produces "Good Morning America," "World News Tonight With Peter Jennings," "Nightline," "This Week," "20/20" and "Primetime Live," has not reported one word about the three-week-running scandal. Neither has CBS News ("The Early Show," "The CBS Evening News," "60 Minutes," "60 Minutes Wednesday" and "Face the Nation"). NBC and its entire family of morning, evening and weekend news programs have addressed the story only three times. Asked about the lack of coverage, a spokesperson for ABC did not return calls seeking comment, while a CBS spokeswoman said executives were unavailable to discuss the network's coverage."
AmericaBlog reports that Jeff Gannon/James Guckert has launched a new blog.
Maybe these rants on his new site will convince the mainstream media other than Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, and Jon Stewart to do more investigation into why this non-journalist was able to clear a background check, obtain access to the press room for over two years, use a fake name, and be able to regularly get called on by press secretary Scott McClellan and President Bush in press conferences.
Canada Opts Out of U.S. Defense Shield
After much speculation that our neighbors to the north wouldn't participate in the program, Prime Minister Paul Martin formally announced Canada's decision today.
The president's proposed budget calls for a $1 billion cut in the program reducing it to $7.8 billion for FY 2006. Considering the administration is still planning on expanding the program into Alaska, I wouldn't count on that cut being an indication that they're admitting what a failure the program has been.
Joel McNally has a good column in this week's Shepherd laying out the differences between Gov. Doyle's and the Republican legislature's "tax freeze" plans.
"The so-called Republican tax freeze allows legislators to play the heroes by proclaiming local property taxes frozen. But it avoids accepting any responsibility for doing the necessary dirty work—closing schools, laying off police officers, shutting down fire stations.
That’s for local officials to figure out. Republican legislators are going to be too busy posing for holy pictures as the taxpayers’ friend.
So what makes Doyle’s proposed local property tax freeze more responsible? The primary reason is that Doyle accepts responsibility to put state money behind the tax freeze rhetoric."
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been having a tough time convincing his constituents that the president's plan for Social Security is the way to go.
The WaPo reports that Ryan is one of the main Congressmen in the House to be given the responsibility to see how the plan plays with the public. So far, it's not looking good although Ryan would like to see a plan in front of Congress yet this year.
As Ryan made his case to four people in the nearby village of Sharon, population 1,591, Berthal Holmes Long, 90, blurted, "So what?" Long said she worries about promises of substantial returns, when Social Security now seems sure. "Words are rosy, but really what will it turn into?" she asked. "Times change. Everything changes. You don't know what might happen in five years or 10 years."
Only four people turned out? That can't be a good sign for proponents of this thing.
The local daily now has a blog listing as conservative blogger Owen discovered today.
Interestingly, they already have mine listed. Don't think that means any favors you JSOnline editors. Although, if you want to hook me up with a complimentary subscription, I could consider... ah I can't do it. Stupid principles.
Jeff Gannon retrospective in Video
A collection of the coverage the Gannon story has gotten in the televised media thus far courtesy of Crooks and Liars.
The AP reports that the late Hunter S. Thompson probably planned his suicide.
In the past, Thompson had expressed his wish that his remains be shot out of a cannon, something the family is looking into.
Bill Maher on the Gannon story.
In the above video (Quicktime required), Maher gets into the Jeff Gannon/James Guckert story with Lesley Stahl and a panel of guests consisting of Robin Williams, former HHS head Tommy Thompson, and Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE).
The Anti-Conservatives by Pat Buchanan for the American Conservative magazine.
"Who and what converted a president who came to office with no knowledge of the world to the idea that only a global crusade for democracy could keep us secure? Answer: 9/11—and the neoconservatives.
In his inaugural address, Mr. Bush calls 9/11 the day “when freedom came under attack.” This is sophomoric. Osama did not send fanatics to ram planes into the World Trade Center because he hates the Bill of Rights. He sent the terrorists here because he hates our presence and policies in the Middle East. He did it for the same reason FLN rebels blew up cafes in Paris and Hamas suicide bombers blow up pizza parlors in Jerusalem.
From the Battle of Algiers to the bombing of the Beirut Marine barracks, from the expulsion of the Red Army by the mujahideen of Afghanistan to the expulsion of Israel from Lebanon by Hezbollah, guerrilla war and terror tactics have been the means Muslims have used to expel armies they could not defeat in conventional war.
The 9/11 killers were over here because we are over there. We were not attacked because of who we are but because of what we do. It is not our principles they hate. It is our policies. U.S. intervention in the Middle East was the cause of the 9/11 terror. Bush believes it is the cure. Has he learned nothing from Iraq?"
Via Blah3. It's odd to be pointing to a right-winger like Buchanan for an example of wisdom, but he's right on when it comes to pointing out how foolish this administration's foreign policy has been.
President Bush has banned Camilla Parker Bowles from visiting the White House.
"The trip would have been the pair's first official tour as a married couple.
But the US President - a notoriously right-wing Christian and reformed alcoholic - told aides it was "inappropriate" for him to be playing host to the newly-weds, who are both divorcees.
The decision was made even though the late President Ronald Reagan was divorced."
Leaders in the Republican controlled Wisconsin legislature have announced they will miss today's deadline to place a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot for the April elections. The speculation is that the GOP may be delaying the matter until the November 2006 midterm elections, when both Gov. Jim Doyle and Sen. Herb Kohl will be up for re-election.
Earth to social conservatives. You're being used, and the Wisconsin GOP leadership believes you're stupid enough to fall for it.
Or maybe they want all the gays to move to Springfield.
JD Guckert and Powerline
This Minnesota blogger contacts Powerline (Time's blog of the year) about the James Guckert/Jeff Gannon story. Here's an excerpt from the above link:
"...just once, it would be nice to see a conservative with the ability to find fault with other conservatives. I won't hold my breath, though."
Not too harsh, and fairly civil IMHO. No profanity, no name calling, just my opinion from one person to another.
The reply? Well, for good or ill:
"You dumb shit, he didn't get access using a fake name, he used his real name. You lefties' concern for White House security is really touching, but you know what, you stupid asshole, I think the Secret Service has it covered. Go crawl back into your hole, you stupid left-wing shithead. And don't bother us anymore. You have to have an IQ over 50 to correspond with us. You don't qualify, you stupid shit."
Ever get the feeling that sometimes talking to a conservative is like talking to a spoiled teenager?
Writer Hunter S. Thompson Kills Himself
Thompson is credited alongside Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese with helping pioneer New Journalism — or, as he dubbed his version, "gonzo journalism" — in which the writer made himself an essential component of the story.
Thompson, whose early writings mostly appeared in Rolling Stone magazine, often portrayed himself as wildly intoxicated as he reported on such figures as Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
"Fiction is based on reality unless you're a fairy-tale artist," Thompson told The Associated Press in 2003. "You have to get your knowledge of life from somewhere. You have to know the material you're writing about before you alter it."
Sen. Russ Feingold will travel to Iraq this weekend where he will meet with military leaders, top Iraqi officials and local women leaders.
He will accompany Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as part of a bipartisan group going to Iraq to oversee rebuilding efforts in the country.
Sen. Clinton pushes voting holiday, allowing ex-cons to vote
The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. John Kerry, would designate Election Day as a federal holiday. According to the USA Today article, it would also:
- Require paper receipts for votes.
- Authorize $500 million to help states make the changes in voting systems and equipment.
- Allow ex-felons to vote. Currently an estimated 4.7 million Americans are barred from voting because of their criminal records.
- Require adoption of the changes in time for the 2006 election.
A couple years back, I went on record endorsing making Election Day a federal holiday, and I still think it would be a good idea. A better idea would be to move federal elections to the weekend, but that's a much tougher sell since Article I of the Constitution designates that elections be held on "the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November."
As for allowing ex-felons to vote, I don't see any reason why someone shouldn't be allowed to vote again if they've completed their sentence.
Requiring paper receipts is obviously a provision included, because of these new electronic voting machines in use around the country that have no paper trail, and therefore no sound method of verifying the machine's accuracy in tabulating the votes cast.
Calling all "fiscal conservatives" still supporting the president and a Congress which doesn't utilize its oversight function.
Where's your outrage over the fact that $9 billion in Iraq funds are still unaccounted for?
‘Liberal’ Media Silent About Guckert Saga by Joe Conason
"Imagine the media explosion if a male escort had been discovered operating as a correspondent in the Clinton White House. Imagine that he was paid by an outfit owned by Arkansas Democrats and had been trained in journalism by James Carville. Imagine that this gentleman had been cultivated and called upon by Mike McCurry or Joe Lockhart—or by President Clinton himself. Imagine that this "journalist" had smeared a Republican Presidential candidate and had previously claimed access to classified documents in a national-security scandal."
Well said, Joe.
The Democratic leadership in the Senate has unveiled the Social (In)Security Calculator.
The calculations used are based on the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's economic assumptions, and have been adjusted for inflation.
James Roosevelt Jr: Hume's 'outrageous distortion' of FDR 'calls for a retraction, an apology, maybe even a resignation
Fox News anchor Brit Hume intentionally mislead viewers into believing that FDR endorsed an eventual phaseout of Social Security in favor of private accounts. In actuality, FDR was speaking to phasing out the old-age pension plans that were necessary when Social Security was introduced since many elderly citizens had not contributed to the system at that point.
Our Godless Constitution
Brooke Allen, for the Nation, explains how the United States was founded not on Christianity, but on principles developed during the Enlightenment.
Those who would have us believe that we are a "Christian nation" are the true revisionists in contemporary politics. An often cited historical document making this point is the Treaty of Tripoli:
Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
The treaty was unanimously passed by the US Senate and signed into law by President John Adams in 1797.
Iraq Winners Allied With Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision
"This is a government that will have very good relations with Iran. The Kurdish victory reinforces this conclusion. Talabani is very close to Tehran," said Juan Cole, a University of Michigan expert on Iraq. "In terms of regional geopolitics, this is not the outcome that the United States was hoping for."
Many saw this coming with the elections in Iraq since Shiites make up the majority of the population. One of the, if not the most, influential religious figures in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is from Iran. The possible long term implications of this power shift for both Iraq and Iran provide reason for concern.
Lawmakers outraged at rising cost estimates for drug benefit
"Some House and Senate Democrats called for an investigation into the hard-fought battle to pass the legislation in November 2003, when the White House projected the cost at $400 billion over 10 years. An administration official later said he was pressured to keep higher long-term cost estimates hidden from lawmakers."
The cost of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit is now estimated to cost $724 billion in the first 10 years. The bill promoted by the Bush Administration and passed by Congress forbids Medicare from negotiating lower prices with pharmaceutical companies, something other government agencies like the VA are allowed to do.
The president responded by threatening to veto any changes Congress makes to the new Medicare law. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical companies are set to rake in the dollars while the taxpayers get stuck with the bill.
Poll Shows Drop in Bush's Job Approval
"WASHINGTON - The public's confidence in President Bush's job performance and the nation's direction has slipped in the opening weeks of his second term, particularly among people 50 and older, according to an Associated Press poll.It's interesting to note that while public optimism on the situation in Iraq has increased as a result of the recent elections, that hasn't translated to increased support for the president or his handling of Iraq.
Adults were evenly divided on Bush's job performance in January, but now 54 percent disapprove and 45 percent approve. The number who think the country is headed down the wrong track increased from 51 percent to 58 percent in the past month."
With Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN) announcing he won't run for re-election, the focus shifted to comedian and talk show host Al Franken who had expressed interest in running for the Senate. Franken announced on his show today that he won't be seeking Dayton's seat. Audio of the segment is at his site.
Franken stated he would honor his two year contract with Air America radio. He left open the possibility of moving back to Minnesota to run against Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) in 2008, the seat previously held by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has requested all documents relating to the White House press credentials of right-wing "reporter" Jeff Gannon. Yesterday, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) sent a letter to the president asking he explain why Gannon was granted credentials to the White House briefing room.
Gannon worked for an outfit called Talon News, which supplied news to such balanced news organizations as GOPUSA.com.
Meanwhile, Gannon has shut down his website citing the ever popular need to spend more time with the fam.
North Korea Acknowledges Having Nukes
"SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea publicly acknowledged Thursday for the first time that it has nuclear weapons and said it won't return to six-nation talks aimed at getting it to abandon its nuclear ambitions."
Dayton Will Not Run For Re-Election
Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN) was elected in 2000 and served two years alongside the late Sen. Paul Wellstone. This is a surprising move, but the announcement now does give potential candidates a little time to form their campaigns leading up to the November 2006 election.
White House Balks at Submitting Social Security Plan
"A senior Bush administration official said no final decision had been made. "If there comes a point when the president needs to spell out specific legislation, he won't hesitate," the official said."With that, the White House promptly hesitated to provide a more specific plan.
Doyle Tries to Co-opt GOP Freeze Message
State Republicans look around frantically for the rug swept out from under them.
GOP Fraud Dreams Will Go Unfulfilled, but Dems Still Need to Aggressively Fix Problems
Jim Rowen, for WisPolitics, sums up the agenda of the Wisconsin GOP and its toadies in the media with regards to Election Day 2004.
Proof That Social Security Privatization Won't Work by Michael Kinsley
If you're still clinging to the notion that the Bush "plan" for Social Security sounds good, check out this page. Kinsley dissects the components being touted and shows you why they don't work in real world economics.
USNews.com: The Southern states are looking for a different sort of Democrat
DURHAM, N.C.--The hundred or so Democratic activists gathered in an auditorium at North Carolina Central University on a January weeknight to meet with state party bigwigs have each been given two paper flags--one green, one red. When someone says something they agree with, attendees are supposed to wave green flags; if they disagree, they wave the red. Plenty of the proposals elicit green flags, like withdrawing from Iraq. Then a member of the state party's executive committee suggests reaching out to NASCAR dads. "We have churches and values," she says, "and we have to make that clear." A wave of red flags ripples across the room. Grumbles activist Don Esterling, 62: "We don't need to be Republican light."
Thanks to Skipper for sending me this one.
"Hobbs said talk stations typically take 18 months to two years to become established, but progressive talk is connecting considerably faster for Clear Channel.
'Our stations are getting there in 30 to 90 days,' he said. 'That's remarkable considering most of the talent, no one knows who they are.'"
An ongoing theme of George W. Bush's that he repeated in his State of the Union address:
"Our men and women in uniform are fighting terrorists in Iraq so we do not have to face them here at home."
What world is the president living in where terrorists march in lockstep and are unable to multitask? What's amazing is that so many Bush supporters accept this at face value without realizing how stupid a concept it is.
The Hill has an interesting article about the impact that electing Howard Dean to be DNC chairman and Harry Reid to Senate Minority Leader will have on the gun control movement. Both Dean and Reid are strong supporters of gun rights.
The Democrats needn't be completely in lockstep with the NRA nor should they embrace some utopian vision of a gun-free world. Gun control legislation should be evaluated on its merits. For instance, I think the Brady Bill was a good piece of legislation. Having a short waiting period to own a handgun while a background check is performed seems to me to be appropriate. Other proposals like the assault weapons ban appear to be more symbolic which is why some Democrats like Sen. Russ Feingold voted not to renew it.
GOP Express Doubt on Bush Soc. Sec. Plan
"'Politically speaking, right now it's probably not doable,' Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said Thursday, citing lack of Democratic support.
'We should take this year to study the issue and come up with solutions,' said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. She said there was no consensus for action now and that she had not made up her own mind."
Feingold sizes up presidential race
"'I'm not interested in getting out there just for the sake of saying, 'This would be a fun thing to try.' It's a far too serious thing for that,' said Feingold, best known nationally for the 2002 campaign law that he authored with Arizona Republican John McCain. 'And who knows? If get out there and I'm not the right guy, I might just cause problems. So maybe I'll end up being just somebody helping somebody else. But I want to help.'"
Sen. Russ Feingold was overwhelmingly re-elected by Wisconsin voters 55%-44% in November.
A key portion of Sen. Harry Reid's response to the State of the Union address last night:
"Too many of the President's economic policies have left Americans and American companies struggling. And after we worked so hard to eliminate the deficit, his policies have added trillions to the debt — in effect, a “birth tax” of $36,000 on every child that is born.
We Democrats have a different vision: Spurring research and development in new technologies to help create the jobs of the future. Rolling up our sleeves and fighting for today's jobs by ending the special tax breaks that encourage big corporations to ship jobs overseas. A trade policy that enforces the rules of the road so that we play to win in the global marketplace instead of sitting by and getting played for fools."
These responses always come off as too phony and rehearsed, but it was refreshing to hear Reid go after the president's failure to manage the federal budget and trade.
Elections Are Not Democracy: "The United States has essentially stopped trying to build a democratic order in Iraq, and is simply trying to gain stability and legitimacy"
Although I disagreed with his support of the war, this column by Fareed Zakaria accurately sums up the situation in Iraq as it stands today. The goal for the United States now is to stabilize the area as much as possible so we can have a symbolic pullout of a few thousand troops.
For those Americans who continue to believe we're making plans to pull out of Iraq now that there have been elections, keep in mind we are still constructing 14 permanent American military bases in Iraq. It's not a coincidence that at the same time, the US is scaling back its military presence in Saudi Arabia setting the stage for Iraq to become the new home for military operations in the Middle East.
Texas Teens Increased Sex After Abstinence Program
"HOUSTON (Reuters) - Abstinence-only sex education programs, a major plank in President Bush's education plan, have had no impact on teenagers' behavior in his home state of Texas, according to a new study.
Despite taking courses emphasizing abstinence-only themes, teenagers in 29 high schools became increasingly sexually active, mirroring the overall state trends, according to the study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University."
While having a typical argument about the Iraq war with someone the other day, he brought up his anger with France not supporting the United States and the war on terrorism. When I brought up that France sent troops to Afghanistan, he was quite surprised and vowed to double check it.
In fact, France is the United States' second largest partner in the coalition in Afghanistan. They're second to Germany, another vocal critic on the Iraq war, in troops deployed there.