Good thing we're building a fence in Arizona.

NEWARK, N.J. — Screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the starting points for the Sept. 11 hijackers, failed 20 of 22 security tests conducted by undercover U.S. agents last week, missing concealed bombs and guns at checkpoints throughout the major air hub's three terminals, according to federal security officials....

"We just totally missed everything," [an airport] official said.

Wait. N.J. That's New Jersey, I think. Oh well. Pretty close.

Has six years of Republican rule brought us to this?

Somewhere in the last couple of years, Halloween went from pumpkin to cheesecake.

Nawww. It must be Bill Clinton's fault, right?

Wrigley Field men's bathroom nominated one of Chicago's scariest places.

Happy Halloween.

The best place to be in Chicago on Halloween is at Union Station around 5:00 PM. That's when all - every single one - of the city's transvestites and drag queens congregate there to frighten the suburbanites commuting home. Or at least it was, in my Chicago days. I hope it hasn't changed.

NYTimes covers for NBC...

...suggests NBC's refusal to carry Dixie Chicks' movie commercial is a publicity stunt.
Hollywood appears to have hit upon a fail-safe strategy for getting attention for just about any kind of film: get someone, anyone, to try to suppress it, and then rush to the news media with breathless warnings about the First Amendment coming under attack.

Well I say, not to put too fine a point on it, bullshit. And even they have a hard time making it stick. By they time they get to graph 5 they're admitting...
NBC acknowledged that it had rejected the ads for fairness reasons, since Mr. Bush couldn’t be expected to buy response ads, as he would in a political campaign.

Fairness? So this is what we've come to then? A commercial that takes issue with a politician must be treated as a campaign commercial even if the politician isn't running for something (Bush isn't running in this election and can't run in the next one either, unless of course he fixes that too)? A commercial taking issue with a politician can't be run unless said politician can be "expected to buy response ads"?

Did I say bullshit?

(And BTW the Chicks' new album, "Not Ready to Make Nice," is a good one. Go buy it. It's on iTunes.)

(Correction: "Taking the Long Way" is the album. "Not Ready to Make Nice" is the video. Buy them both.)

Over the side they go.

See them splash.
(NYTimes) - WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 — Corporate America is already thinking beyond Election Day, increasing its share of last-minute donations to Democratic candidates and quietly devising strategies for how to work with Democrats if they win control of Congress.

The Dems might not (and they'll probably get all huffy in the bargain)...

...but I sure do.
(RAW STORY) - Hastert continues, "While Republicans believe the biggest threat to American freedom and security is the evil ideology that planned and executed the murder of 3,000 of our countrymen five years ago, and continues planning today, Democrats think the biggest threat to America is... Republicans."


Here's the trailer for the Dixie Chicks documentary.

More at Crooks and Liars.

Yeah, I've been on that corner.

Irresistable Force Versus Immovable Object, Manhattan Style

Guy: Excuse me, miss. Excuse me. Excuse me! Woman, move!
Girl: Dude, I'm not a tourist.
Guy: Oh. Sorry.

--59th St & Lex

(Quoted in toto from Overheard in New York.)


SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A former teacher's aide who prosecutors said stripped naked before students in a classroom and touched herself in a seductive manner has been sentenced to more than nine years in prison....

White, 28, was convicted last month on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor, vicarious sexual gratification and battery. She was acquitted on five other charges.

Whoa. This is a pretty weird story to begin with but...vicarious sexual gratification? That's kind of over the top, isn't it? Even for Indiana, I mean. And what could the other five charges have been? I'd like to know.

Or, wait. Would that be vicarious?

A dunk!

(RAW STORY) - During a conservative radio interview earlier this week, Cheney was asked whether he agreed "that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves American lives."

"It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney responded. "But for a while there I was being criticized as the vice president for torture."

No, no, a dunk is what you do to donuts. What were you thinking?

Tony Snowjob explains:
"You know as a matter of common sense that the vice president of the United States is not going to be talking about water boarding. Never would, never does, never will," Snow said. "You think Dick Cheney's going to slip up on something like this? No, come on."

But I'm asking here, is it common sense to dunk in water? Really, I mean. You'd think coffee, wouldn't you? Or milk at least. Come on.

They need a little work on their technique. A few dunking lessons. That would be fun.

Big bad R scared by a guy named Barney?

(BOSTON GLOBE) - House majority whip Roy Blunt even issued a press release that attacks Frank for supporting "scary" legislation such as "Medicare coverage of adult diapers."


Wait a minute - cheesed off?

(NYTimes) - The government does not keep figures on camera vandalism, so it is impossible to confirm Captain Gatso’s claim that the group, known as M.A.D., has attacked more than 1,000 cameras, or that its members are “grown-up people, with normal jobs, who are cheesed off,” rather than hooligans engaging in “willy-nilly childish vandalism.”

OK, maybe it's some kind of Brit thing. But it still sounds, well, cheesy. Doesn't it?

Too beautiful for words.

(DRUDGE) - In an Ironic Twist of Events, NBC and The CW Television Network Refuse to Air Ads for Documentary Focusing on Freedom of Speech.

What is that, a double irony? Triple? Awesome!

These costumes are getting a little bit too realistic, aren't they?

TORRINGTON -- Charles Gardner was on the front steps of his home Wednesday when he handed over his entire Social Security check to George W. Bush, or at least someone who looked and sounded a little like the president.

But police here say Gardner's election season contribution didn't go to a politician trying to stuff his party's coffers, but to a gun-wielding man wearing a rubber Halloween mask resembling the two-term Republican from Texas.

I just don't want to see any kids dressed up as Trickshot Dick.

The stealth Republicans.

They may not have timetables in Iraq (no! they're benchmarks!) but they sure do have them for November. While bitching that the evil terrorist Department of Justice keeps leaking about corruption cases they've managed to bury the so-called Baker report on Iraq pretty well and now it appears the ever-sensitive IRS, "sensitive to political perceptions," has put off collecting past due bills from Katrina victims until November 7 is safely past.

No word yet on whether they will attempt to suppress the Saddam verdict (but if you want to bet I'm giving odds) or postpone invading Iran.

I don't know what makes them fall.

Some people say it's temperature, some say it has more to do with shorter days. But whatever. We had a hard frost last night (at least I guess it was a hard frost - it was certainly well below freezing) and today the leaves are falling like rain.


My widget must be broken. It can't be 24º out there, can it? No. Say no. Not really.

My electrons would freeze.

All those extra hours pay off in record surplus.

WASHINGTON, DC—Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced Monday that the country's seven-month-long effort to conserve sunshine has resulted in the largest national daylight surplus since October 2005....

Bodman said the surplus will be stored in the Strategic Daylight Reserve—a system of opaque, sealed-off underground tanks located in Arizona—and only tapped in the case of the sun burning out or a particularly rainy afternoon.


Yes! We should re-elect them first and then find out they're crooks!

As if we didn't already know.
(RAW STORY) - "For House Republicans, it seems that every week brings a new report about a GOP lawmaker under investigation by the Justice Department for alleged corruption," John Bresnahan writes. "And with the elections just 12 days away, Republicans are crying foul, complaining bitterly that the negative press spurred by the public disclosure of those criminal probes could help cost them their House majority."

Seems only fair.

Right. It's more like a leap.

"They are assuming that if we have a file, there must be an investigation," she said. "That jump can't be made."

"She," reports the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, is Nenette [sic] Day of the FBI, and the files in question are documents related to Maine peace groups, including one who had the temerity to correspond with Canadian "anarchists." Speaking of which, I've never been entirely clear on why Libertarians aren't anarchists, although I expect it has mostly with how they spell their names.

Nevertheless, the aforementioned Nenette [sic] continues: "Do not believe that you can tell how much time was spent on these documents just by looking at them." The FBI, it seems can generate long documents just as fast as they can generate short ones and, says Nenette [sic], these freakin peaceniks "don't understand our process." And anyway, Nenette [sic] claims, the pinko commie peaceniks' emails might, just might have wound up in a secret FBI file because they might, just might, have been found in a public forum.

Which makes perfect sense [sic] as far as the FBI is concerned. And if you don't believe that, maybe you are a pinko commie libsymp terrorist Democrat peacenik too.

Backpeddling: a sheik in Australia and a houseplant in New York.

Australia's senior Muslim cleric Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali has apologised for any offence caused by his comments that immodestly dressed women provoke sexual attacks....

...says the Sidney Morning Herald. The sheik was bailing from a sermon delivered last month in which he "compared women who wore make-up and dressed immodestly to meat that attracted cats."

Meanwhile in Long Beach, NY...
... A high school principal has decreed that Captain Underpants has no place in an institution of learning. Three 17-year-old girls were told to leave Long Beach High School on Wednesday after they showed up on Superhero Day costumed as the subject of the best-selling children's books.

The girls wore white briefs and red capes over beige leotards and nude stockings. "Yes, I know they weren't naked," Principal Nicholas Restivo said. "But the appearance was that they were naked." At least to him.

Captain Underpants, for the hopelessly unhip, appears on his website - which bears the following advisory:
WARNING: This website contains scenes and material which may be considered too silly for grown-ups, small animals, and many varieties of houseplants. If you are a grown-up, a small animal, or a houseplant, we strongly urge you to seek the permission of a kid before browsing this site!

How many? And why?

I’m at the Center for American Progress, listening to Sid Blumenthal and Glenn Greenwald talk about the Imperial Presidency, and one thing is important enough for me to want to live blog. Sid says that Wilkerson, Powell’s old chief of staff, believes that the correct number of victims in secret Bush prisons is 35,000, only %5 of which “may” have to do with terrorism. More than twice what I thought, and hardly any to do with the “war on terror.”

Wake up America, it’s getting closer.

(Post is copied in its entirety from Corrente.)

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

Quote attributed to Mae West by Yale librarian Fred R. Shapiro in a book debunking popularly repeated quotations. West never used the line, "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me," in a movie, Shapiro says, but did pose the famous question to a policeman assigned to escort her.

There'll always be an England.

(REUTERS) - "These are actually quite comforting figures. We are not a nation that sleeps around or takes risks."

Imagine my relief. "Britons are not having as much sex as popular perception might suggest," Reuters assures us, failing to mention where, exactly, such a perception might be perceived.

Saving Florida from drug-crazed grandmas.

(BILL MAHER - HUFFPO) - Last year, Florida's Levy County introduced drug testing for library volunteers. Whose average age is between 60 and 85. The volunteers were required to drive to another city - Gainesville - and urinate in a cup "within hearing distance" of a laboratory monitor. That'll teach 'em for offering to work for free. "Okay, grandma, now get pissing. And I'd better hear a nice even unbroken stream."

"The last time," Maher says, "a librarian did something really stupid and reckless on drugs was when Laura married George."

And a whole lot more.

(BUZZFLASH) - Every American, every Democrat, every friend of democracy should spend every one of these last few days asking how six years after 2000, our election system is more dangerously flawed than ever before, with machines that even the election officials do not always understand, with technology that remains secret from our nation, with standards that do not exist, election workers who are too often untrained, and a media that is obsessed with spin doctors, dirt mongers and dance contests more than the sanctity of democracy.

Throw the rascals out.


The Iraq FAQ.

Q. Do we have a timeline for Iraq?
A. No, we have benchmarks.

Q. What kind of benchmarks?
A. The kind that describe “what we intend to do and...when we intend to do it.”

Q. So...
A. Don't make me repeat myself.

Q. Will we stay the course in Iraq?
A. Yes. No. Yes.

Q. Do we have patience?
A. Yes, but not immediate patience.

Q. Do you know what that means?
A. No.

Q. Do Democrats understand how dangerous the world is?
A. I question.

Q. Do Republicans?
A. They're scared shitless.

Q. If Democrats win control of Congress will that be a victory for the insurgents?
A. Yes.

Q. So then, Faux News is scared shitless too?
A. Do bears shit in the woods?

Q. That's a question. And a tasteless one, at that.
A. Oh.

Q. Where are people in Washington, DC, dancing these days?
A. In the end zone.

Q. Will we need to send more troops to Iraq?
A.There is no intent to bring more U.S. troops into Iraq at this time. The general was merely saying, as he has said consistently since taking command of the Multi-National Force Iraq that all options are on the table. He will ask for what is needed. He has made no such request to date."

Meanwhile here...

Lucky we saved them from...oh, wait.

(NYTimes) - The latest Asian economic tiger, Vietnam now produces and uses more cement than France, its former colonial ruler. The main index for the Ho Chi Minh City stock market and a smaller exchange in Hanoi have nearly doubled in value this year. Vietnam has become the talk of investment bankers and investors across Asia.

OK, we just meant for the weekend. Got a problem with that?

Left I points out on Friday US "diplomacy" babe Condoleezza Rice was in China touting a "nuclear-free Korean peninsula" and on Monday chosun.com reported an agreement to return US nukes to South Korea.

And I'll straighten his dumb butt out first chance I get.

HANNITY: A lot of debate has no emerged over the phrase “stay the course,” and what that actually means. “Well, the President is backing away from staying the course.”

RUMSFELD: Aww, that’s nonsense.

HANNITY: He’s not backing away from staying the course?

RUMSFELD: Of course not....

(Think Progress)

And whoever started that yellow ribbon thing, anyway?*

(BobGeiger.com) - The nonprofit, nonpartisan Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's Action Fund has tallied up every Congressional vote cast on troops' and veterans' issues for the last five years. We've crunched the numbers, and given every legislator a letter grade - the IAVA Congressional Rating."

No Senators receive an A from the IAVA. Thirteen - all Democrats - score A-. Twenty-three get a B and all but one are Ds (the 23rd is Independent James Jeffords of Vermont). The lowest grade assigned any Democrat - B- - is higher than the highest awarded any R - C.

The full list is here.

* A musical group called "Tony Orlando and Dawn," whose recording "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" was the number one hit single of 1973.
The song was based on an actual incident that occurred aboard a southern bus bound for Miami. One of the passengers explained to the driver that he was just out of prison, having served three years for passing bad checks. In a letter to his wife, he had written that she didn't have to wait for him; but, if she was still interested, she could let him know by tying a yellow ribbon around the only oak tree in the city square.


Reporters Without Borders pegs US at 53.

Tied with Botswana, Croatia, and Tonga on Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006.

You were expecting perfect maybe?

(MYWAY) - BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. officials said Tuesday Iraqi leaders have agreed to develop a timeline by the end of the year for progress in stabilizing Iraq, and Iraqi forces should be able to take full control of security in the country in the next 12 to 18 months with "some level" of American support....

A power failure in the Green Zone briefly cut off the broadcast of the remarks.

About that course.

A YouTuber called "thesilentpatriot" does the homework:

But Tony Snowjob reminds us: "I don't think he's used that term in a while."

This just gets more freaking discouraging by the day.

BAGHDAD (AFP) - American forces are often accused of using excessive and indiscriminate force in Iraq, although commanders say the problem is now taken more seriously and the number of wrongful killings has diminished.

Now taken more seriously?

Number of wrongful killings has diminished?

The AFP story (above) describes how four undiminished Iraqi firefighters wind up being shot and killed by US troops, who mistake them for terrorists. Meanwhile the morons in Washington and their media stenographers complain Iraqis aren't pulling their fair share of the load.

DOOFUS goes all hip and cool.

(THINK PROGRESS) - One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps. It’s very interesting to see — I’ve forgot the name of the program — but you get the satellite, and you can — like, I kinda like to look at the ranch.

The election is screwed...

...and it's all the fault of the evil Internet. A twofer!
(ABC NEWS) - Oct. 23, 2006 — As if there weren't enough concerns about the integrity of the vote, a non-partisan civic organization today claimed it had hacked into the voter database for the 1.35 million voters in the city of Chicago.

Not that electoral chicanery is anything new in Chicago, you understand. And not that the election isn't screwed. Or that the Internet isn't evil - hey, we all know that by now. But there's something about this last-minute spike in election-hack news that's got me feeling wary here. Maybe it's just kicked my paranoia up a notch. Or maybe it's nothing more than good old-fashioned American lastminuteism. Or...maybe...well, we'll just have to wait and see, I guess.



I don't really understand the whole sentence but dynamism - dynamism! - is such a cool word, isn't it?
(EDITOR & PUBLISHER) - The President is determined not to leave Iraq short of victory, but he also understands that it's important to capture the dynamism of the efforts that have been ongoing to try to make Iraq more secure, and therefore, enhance the clarification -- or the greater precision.

Come to think of it I'm not sure Tony Snowjob understands the whole sentence either but at least he gets paid for it.

Well let's not get carried away here, Loretta.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Loretta Nall, the Libertarian Party's write-in candidate for governor of Alabama, is campaigning on her cleavage and hoping that voters will eventually focus on her platform.

"It started out as a joke, but it blew up into something huge," said Nall, a 32-year-old with dyed blond hair.

Pardon me but I have to say it, I really do, I can't help myself: LOL!

(TIMES ONLINE) -- AMERICAN forces are negotiating an amnesty with Sunni insurgents in Iraq to try to defuse the nascent civil war and pave the way for disarmament of Shia militias, The Times has learnt.

All that's missing now is some blathermonger announcing it's Bill Clinton's fault.

And then...?

"The Department of Homeland Security would like to remind
passengers that you may not take any liquids onto the plane.
This includes ice cream, as the ice cream will melt and turn into a liquid."

--Announcement at the Atlanta airport, this blogger reports.

Consolation prize.

So the big one didn't make it but the little tree on the other side of the house did. It's a whole different kind of tree, a little runty one, and it doesn't turn all the light in my apartment red like the big one does, but you have to take your red trees where you find them these days and this is it.

So now they're spinning the NK nuke test as a good thing?

(WASHINGTON POST) -- Before North Korea announced it had detonated a nuclear device, some senior officials even said they were quietly rooting for a test, believing that would finally clarify the debate within the administration.

On her trip to Asia this week, Rice has come close to saying the test was a net plus for the United States. She has tried to deflect criticism by saying the test was an affirmation, rather than a failure, of the Bush administration's policy of trying to draw China deeper into negotiations on North Korea.

Noting that North Korea has spent three decades developing a nuclear weapon, Rice said it was "very unusual and quite significant" that China, which has traditionally considered sanctions to be a violation of national sovereignty, supported a tough U.N. Security Council resolution punishing North Korea. The resolution is under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which calls for mandatory sanctions for issues affecting international security.

It's sort of like watching a tennis match, isn't it? Only not as fun. Well, maybe as fun. Although, I don't know about you but I'm feeling more and more like the ball.

Here's your chance, collectors...

...to buy an original, one-of-a-kind Mark Foley figurine.

New "no-swipe" credit cards leak.

NYTIMES -- The card companies have implied through their marketing that the data is encrypted to make sure that a digital eavesdropper cannot get any intelligible information. American Express has said its cards incorporate “128-bit encryption,” and J. P. Morgan Chase has said that its cards, which it calls Blink, use “the highest level of encryption allowed by the U.S. government.”

But in tests on 20 cards from Visa, MasterCard and American Express, the researchers here found that the cardholder’s name and other data was being transmitted without encryption and in plain text. They could skim and store the information from a card with a device the size of a couple of paperback books, which they cobbled together from readily available computer and radio components for $150.

Credit card exec says not to worry (surprised?), yada yada, hrrumph; geeks say get a tinfoil wallet, and pay cash.

Waiting for Spring.

The power game.

(TomPaine.com) -- What we’re seeing in the oil markets right now is a chilling demonstration of the mutual and constantly converging interests of oil and state in the U.S. In other words, it's not a conspiracy—it’s the gasoline market, which is an oligopoly, recognizing that its collective self-interest lies in more Republican rule. In the current election cycle, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that donations from the oil industry and its employees are running 83 percent in favor of Republicans, which is the most pronounced slant by the oil industry—and possibly the most pronounced in any industry—ever. Clearly, they know which side their bread is buttered on, and can take actions to protect those interests.

Boston: 30,128

BOSTON - The old record of 28,952 lit pumpkins had been held since 2003 by Keene, N.H. That city tried to keep up with their own attempt Saturday, but lit only 24,682 pumpkins.

In Boston, an estimated 100,000 people crowded onto the Common to slice, scoop, and sculpt pumpkins and to savor pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup. Mayor Thomas M. Menino greeted children, who were dressed as ghosts and angels.

(AP Photo/Lisa Poole)

A plan! A plan!

(NYTIMES) -- BAGHDAD, Oct. 22 — After three years of trying to thwart a potent insurgency and tamp down the deadly violence in Iraq, the American military is playing its last hand: the Baghdad security plan.

OK, they're still working on it. "Tweaking," in fact. And, OK, they already have a plan, called Together Forward II, which hasn't produced a while lot of together forwarding (it's the "together" part, apparently, that's the hangup). And I suppose, well, if you want to get picky about it, the II in there might mean there was a Together Forward I. Once. But so what? That's not the point. The point is, they're working on a plan. Which they will "play." As soon as they get it "tweaked." And, presumably, give it a name. Which - right, this is just a guess here - I'm thinking probably won't involve a III. So there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh wait. That was another war. I get confused.

Politicians would do something like this?

(THE INDEPENDENT) -- In part, the politicians are pandering to the vote from the millions of poor who still cannot lead the more sexually freewheeling lifestyle of the middle classes, and look on it with resentment.

Oh. In India. Well then.


Sure, it's not a sex scandal but it does seem worth at least a mention.

(CBS) More than half a billion dollars earmarked to fight the insurgency in Iraq was stolen by people the U.S. had entrusted to run the country's Ministry of Defense before the 2005 elections, according to Iraqi investigators.

Iraq's former minister of finance says coalition members like the U.S. and Britain are doing little to help recover the money or catch suspects, most of whom fled the country. The 60 Minutes investigation also turned up audio recordings of a suspect who seems to be discussing the transfer of $45 million to the account of a top political adviser to the interim defense minister.

Had enough yet?

Autumn along the river.

It's the Connecticut River near Northfield, MA.

Woohoo! DOOFUS disappears in a cloud of spin.

During an interview today on ABC’s This Week, President Bush tried to distance himself from what has been his core strategy in Iraq for the last three years. George Stephanopoulos asked about James Baker’s plan to develop a strategy for Iraq that is “between ’stay the course’ and ‘cut and run.’”

Bush responded, "We’ve never been stay the course, George!"

Watch the video at Think Progress.

Sam's take on the Senate races.

AS NOTED HERE BEFORE, the key unknowns are whether discouraged conservatives stay home, whether some usual non-participants get excited enough to vote, and how many votes the Republicans steal.

Sam Smith is a long-time observer of politics and Washington and his election predictions (and I'm now sure he'd appreciate me using that word) have been pretty close to the mark.

If you've been watching the election track feature in the sidebar you've probably noticed it stands 50-50 right now. That reflects combined data from a variety of polls as interpreted by a computer algorithm (click on the graphic for more info). It's been running just a wee bit optimistically for the Ds all along, IMO.

How do I know bridled isn't better?

Look, it's just a question, OK? I'm just asking here, is all.

The mind boggles.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 — The Bush administration is drafting a timetable for the Iraqi government to address sectarian divisions and assume a larger role in securing the country, senior American officials said.

So let me get this straight. We're talking about a timetable here? As in time table?
And it's a timetable for the Iraqi government? You mean that, you know, independent one?
In a statement issued Saturday night, a White House spokeswoman, Nicole Guillemard, said the Times’s account was “not accurate,” but did not specify what officials found to be inaccurate.