Thursday, March 31, 2005

R.I.P. Mitch Hedberg 

Great comedian. Died of a "heart attack"(probably overdosed) yesterday.
Some of his greatest hits:
I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.

An escalator can never break. It can only become stairs. You would never see an "Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order" sign, just "Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience."

I think foosball is a combination of soccer and shishkabobs

My sister wanted to be an actress, but she never made it. She does live in a trailer. She got half way. She's an actress, she just never gets called to the set.

I never joined the army because at ease was never that easy to me. Seemed rather uptight still. I don't relax by parting my legs slightly and putting my hands behind my back. That does not equal ease. At ease was not being in the military. I am at ease, bro, because I am not in the military.

I don't have a girlfriend. But I do know a woman who'd be mad at me for saying that.

You know that Pepperidge Farm bread, that stuff is fancy. That stuff is wrapped twice. You open it, and then still ain't open. That's why I don't buy it, I don't need another step between me and toast.

I would imagine if you could understand Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.

I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it.

Someone handed me a picture and said, "This is a picture of me when I was younger." Every picture of you is when you were younger. "...Here's a picture of me when I'm older." Where'd you get that camera man?

More here.


Pope puts off Heaven 

Catholic teachings tell us that Heaven is supposed to be a wonderful place, and the "afterlife" is even better than life itself. Why then, does the Pope choose to be on a feeding tube instead of meeting God?
The ailing Pontiff sharply narrowed Catholic guidelines for treating patients nearing death in March 2004 when he described tube-feeding as a normal treatment rather than an extraordinary measure that can be stopped if all hope of recovery fades.

This indicates he would want to be kept alive by artificial means even if he fell into a coma or a persistent vegetative state, such as the brain-damaged Terri Schiavo in the United States whose feeding tubes have been removed after 15 years.

It makes me re-think what I was taught about heaven in school.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Santorum on Amtrak 

Rick Santorum on February 27th:
Also on “Meet the Press,” Santorum criticized President Bush’s budget for proposed cuts in Amtrak, a favorite target of many conservatives that nevertheless is important to Pennsylvania’s economy.

“It’s not acceptable to me,” Santorum said of the cuts. “I think what the president has suggested is not going to pass, number one. Number two, I think what he has been putting forward is that Amtrak has to be more efficient.

Rick Santorum on March 16th:
Three weeks ago, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., vowed to fight President Bush’s “unacceptable” plan to eliminate funding for Amtrak.

He changed tracks yesterday, voting with the president and against an amendment to add $1.04 billion in government assistance for the system. Bush’s budget proposes eliminating support for Amtrak, a long-time target of fiscal conservatives, and putting the rail system in bankruptcy.

Rick Santorum in an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 25th:
In mid-2003, Amtrak began the process of rebuilding its aged infrastructure and equipment, allowing its trains to run faster and more reliably. Not only will operational costs be lowered, but also riders will get better service. To stop Amtrak in its tracks now - in the process of revitalization - would be costly and counterproductive.

I hope that a combination of federal assistance for rebuilding efforts in the near-term and the continuation of Amtrak's capital improvements will result in business growth and independence. We must continue to provide federal assistance to Amtrak as it strives for self-sufficiency, while holding Amtrak accountable for its reform efforts.

It seems that Santorum is assuming that Pennsylvania voters are too stupid to realize that he voted AGAINST funding Amtrak, depsite insisting that he supports it, and then has the audacity to write an editorial pretending that he SUPPORTS Amtrak after all. Paging Bob Casey Jr., paging Bob Casey Jr., here's a campaign gift for you.



More on Tom DeLay and his own Michael Schiavo-esque decision, from Slate:
Why the difference between then and now? Maybe because DeLay saw his father as a human being. He speaks of Schiavo as something more—and less. "It's more than just Terri Schiavo," DeLay told the Family Research Council on March 18. "It is a critical issue for people in this position, and it is also a critical issue to fight the fight for life, whether it be euthanasia or abortion. And I tell you, ladies and gentlemen, one thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to elevate the visibility of what's going on in America."

This is what happens when you approach a tragedy as a politician rather than as a family member. You see quality of life as a slippery-slope abstraction, not as a reality affecting someone you love. You find it easy to impose a standard of documentation that would have forced your family to break the law. You second-guess a spouse in a way you would never second-guess your mother. You challenge people's competence and impugn their character. You perceive the afflicted person more as God's tool than as God's child.

I don't have a lot of respect for a man who treats a woman this way. But to dismiss him as a hypocrite would further politicize a case he has already politicized too much. My question is: What kind of man is he? My answer is: He's a better child than politician. So are we all. That's why families should make these decisions, and Congress should stay out.


Saturday, March 26, 2005

FBI Aid for Saudis after 9/11 

Perhaps Michael Moore was right.
In several other cases, Saudi travelers were not interviewed before departing the country, and F.B.I. officials sought to determine how what seemed to be lapses had occurred, the documents show.

The F.B.I. documents left open the possibility that some departing Saudis had information relevant to the Sept. 11 investigation.

"Although the F.B.I. took all possible steps to prevent any individuals who were involved in or had knowledge of the 9/11/2001 attacks from leaving the U.S. before they could be interviewed," a 2003 memo said, "it is not possible to state conclusively that no such individuals left the U.S. without F.B.I. knowledge."

And there's a difference between the FBI helping a battered wife, who's being threatened, and helping people who may have INFORMATION ABOUT MASS MURDER THAT JUST HAPPENED ON U.S. SOIL!!
"I say baloney to any inference we red-carpeted any of this entourage," an F.B.I. official said in a 2003 internal note. Another F.B.I. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said this week regarding the airport escorts that "we'd do that for anybody if they felt they were threatened - we wouldn't characterize that as special treatment."


Friday, March 25, 2005

Happy Birthday 

I almost didn't even notice, but FPN turned 1 year old this month! What was started as a grand idea, has morphed into...well, it's stayed the same. I just want to thank FPN's many readers (both of you), who for the last year have motivated me to keep posting, and I promise to do so, as long as you promise to keep reading. Thanks again for stopping by, and tell a friend!


Thursday, March 24, 2005


Yeah, what she said.
The scene on Capitol Hill this past week has been almost as absurdly macabre as the movie "Weekend at Bernie's," with Tom DeLay and Bill Frist propping up between them this poor woman in a vegetative state to indulge their own political agendas. Mr. DeLay, the poster child for ethical abuse, wanted to show that he is still a favorite of conservatives. Dr. Frist thinks he can ace out Jeb Bush to be 44, even though he has become a laughingstock by trying to rediagnose Ms. Schiavo's condition by video.

As one disgusted Times reader suggested in an e-mail: "Americans ought to send Bill Frist their requests: 'Dear Dr. Frist: Please watch the enclosed video and tell us if that mole on my mother's cheek is cancer. Does she need surgery?'"



This doesn't sounds like cooperation between 2 allies:
ROME — The U.S. military command in Iraq has blocked two Italian policemen from examining the car in which an Italian intelligence agent was shot to death in Baghdad, a newspaper said Wednesday.

Corriere della Sera said that the policemen were about to leave when the Italian Embassy in Baghdad received an order from the U.S. command on Monday to abort the mission for security concerns.

The embassy in Baghdad reportedly alerted Rome authorities, who called off the trip.

The car, a Toyota Corolla, is reportedly still in American hands, at Baghdad airport where it was originally rented.

The Foreign Ministry in Rome declined comment on the report, while officials at the Italian Embassy in Baghdad could not immediately be reached. The U.S. military in Baghdad had no immediate comment

I bet there truly are major security concerns for anyone in Iraq, but will that be the excuse they stick with to never let the Italians see the car? Couldn't the U.S. military or the Italian Government fly the car out of Iraq?


Sunday, March 20, 2005

An Obervation 

Why is it that some of the people who are so passionate about keeping Terry Schaivo alive, are also against stem cell research, which COULD help her?


Friday, March 18, 2005

Social Security Battle 

Another battle won in the war over Social Security: I've heard that Republican leadership has called on its members in Congress to scale back the "town hall" meetings they were hosting on Social Security. It was giving them too much bad press, becuase the amount of protests at the meetings.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

St. Patrick's Day 

On this great day I was going to write something soley about Ireland, but then I found this piece in the Belfast Telegraph, which pans Flightsuit Boy as a hypocrite for calling for the IRA to disband, while at the same time, killing civilians in Fallujah. Appropriate enough.

On a side note, my brother, who goes to Seton Hall, recently met Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adamsin a pub in North Jersey. Adams, who's doing a mini U.S. tour, was traveling alone (i imagine he had some bodyguards in the crowd), and telling how Sinn Fein's recent troubles will be overcome. It's been a lot of bad press (for some good reasons), but I don't seem them losing too much support, when it comes down to it. And by the looks of it, they're not.

And don't bother saying it, Adams is no Arafat:
Over the course of 15 years, Adams has convinced the IRA to call a ceasefire, led Sinn Fein into Stormont -- the hated seat of unionist misrule for 70 years -- signed up to a historic accord that recognized the consent principle and scrapped Articles 2 and 3 in the Irish Constitution and ushered in the circumstances whereby the IRA would happily turn itself into an "old boys association." All this was achieved without a major split in the organization.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

We Made the Big Time 

My High School made the Drudge Report, because of a speech made by the New Jersey Secretary of State.

From what I hear though, it may be much ado about nothing, as far as racial tensions go. The Secretary of State should apologize, and I expect, she'll be admonished by the Governor.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Washington Times 

We all know that the Washington Times is a conservative rag, but in the Times's recent love fest interview with Condoleeza Rice, they tell us how they really feel:
Some political operatives relish the idea of Rice taking on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in 2008. One of the Times questioners said, "You could save us from Hillary."

"Oh, jeez," Rice said when the question was raised. "I'm going to try to be a really good secretary of state. I'm going to work really hard at it. I have enormous respect for people who do run for office. It's really hard for me to imagine myself in that role."

Perahps that quote isn't too surprising, but I assume we'll be seeing nothing but anti-Hillary stories/editorials until after the 2008 election.


Friday, March 11, 2005

American Taliban 

Kos says it best here:
Once upon a time, it was easy for the American Right to smear its opponents on the left -- they could simply equate them with the nation's communist enemies. It didn't matter that the American "left" (Democrats) had more in common with the Right than international communism, the smear was useful.
Now, however, our international enemy -- Islamic radicalism -- is actually the polar opposite of what liberals stand for -- their actions on women rights are deplorable, they insist on theocracy, they loooveee torture and the death penalty, they demand to control the culture (TV, movies, music), they rail against rampant sexuality, they seek to spread their ideology via force, and they have a well-defined black-and-white sense of truth.

Remind you of a certain American party?

That's why hysterical assertions by the wingers that liberals hate America and want the terrorists to win are so absurd. As absurd as it would've been to claim that Reagan wanted the Communists to win the Cold War. The Taliban/Al Qaida/Hezbollah/Jihadists of the world are the exact embodiment of evil in the liberal mind. They are everything we are against, and against everything we are for.

In fact, they are exactly what we see in the Republican Party as the GOP continues to consolidate power -- creeping theocracy, moralizing, us versus them, embrace of torture, the need to constantly declare jihad on someone, hysterics over football-game nipples, control over "decency" on the airwaves, lyrics censorship, hostility to women freedoms, curtaling of civil liberties, and so on.

So it's pretty obvious -- we don't love terrorists. We don't want them to win. For them to win would be to realize our greatest fears. The muslim terrorist is truly the anti-liberal. Like matter and anti-matter.

Republicans, on the other hand, hate the terrorists because they're Muslim. But aside from that, they've got far more in common than they'll ever admit to themselves.

And it's high time we started to make that connection more forcefully.

As Kos mentions, we should use the term "Taliban" ANY and EVERY chance we get, when using it as a label for the GOP. Make it synomymous. Go start now.


The Beirut Wall 

Isn't coming down as easily as some may think, says Slate's Fred Kaplan.
The tumbling of the Berlin Wall was the product of a peculiar convergence of events. The Soviet empire was collapsing. The Soviet president was a singular man, Mikhail Gorbachev, who actively pushed for reform and Westernization (which he hoped would avert collapse but in fact accelerated it). Meanwhile, indigenous democratic movements were fomenting within the empire (Lech Walesa's Solidarity in Poland, Václav Havel's Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, the perpetual secessionists in the Baltics). Detente, black markets, and jam-free broadcasts had whetted an appetite for Western ways. The nations suffering a generation of Soviet rule—especially the Baltics, East Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia—had longer traditions of democracy, capitalism, and European cosmopolitanism. Finally, their anti-Soviet sentiments were blooming in a bipolar world; repulsion toward Moscow translated very easily into attraction toward America. When the wall came down in '89 and the Soviet Union itself imploded two years later, the adoption (or resumption) of Western-style democracy was natural; emissaries from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the CIA, McDonald's, and all the rest were, at least initially, most welcome.

Now let's look at the aspiring democracies of the Middle East. The nations in question—mainly Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt (with noises rustling in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia)—are not joined by a common empire or target of revolt. There is no Gorbachev among them, in any case. Nor are there signs of Walesas or Havels. These countries never experienced a Reformation and thus have no Western traditions. And their rebellions are festering in a world that offers many models beyond communism or capitalism, some of them notably hostile to both.

It's a good start so far, but let's hold off on the "Mission Accomplished" banners just yet.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Saddam's Capture 

Are any stories coming out of Iraq not exaggerated? We know the Jessica Lynch story was bogus, now we a different version of Saddam's capture. Obviously our military is made up of people from various backgrounds/races, but after reading this, it sounds more like we have a "Foreign Legion" fighting over there.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, March 9 (UPI) -- A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

"I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.

"We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.

He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: "You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting."

"Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.


Monday, March 07, 2005

Spy vs Spy 

There was an interesting piece in the Washington *cough* *cough* Times yesterday regarding Washington's new plans to target foreign spy services before they attack us. It cited a few examples of what we are up against, most notably this one:
Barry Royden, a veteran CIA official, said Russian intelligence services are targeting U.S. troops in the Middle East for recruitment as agents, as well as seeking recruits among Americans in Russia.
Russian intelligence officers are using "very aggressive actions and operations," including blackmail, extortion and entrapment "to try to get people to commit espionage," Mr. Royden said.

He also said the Russians are conducting "very aggressive operations against our troops in the Middle East." He did not elaborate.
"We get continued reporting about very aggressive actions and operations against Americans of all types and stripes" in Russia and other parts of the world, Mr. Royden said

I wish Mr. Royden elaborated a little more on the details how the Russians are recruiting our soliders, and if any have turned on us.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Israeli Jewish Prisoners 

Buried in a NY Daily News piece on Torture in U.S. prisons is a reference to 5 Israeli Jewish terror suspects:
Oded Ellner - one of five Israeli Jewish terrorist suspects - said he sought medical help after MDC's allegedly meager, often spoiled meals left him with severe dysentery symptoms. The doctor came with five guards and a camera, he said. She then ordered him to strip and shift his backside into a small space in the cell door so she could conduct a rectal exam from outside the cell.

"I'm a human being, not an animal!" Ellner said he shouted. "I have a right to an exam." The guards, he said, "just laughed," and all walked away.

The prisoners interviewed by The News were part of a group of 84 detainees jailed at MDC between Sept. 11, 2001, and September 2002. Some 1,200 such immigrants were jailed nationwide, including 400 in nearby Passaic County, N.J., where abuses were also reported.

Who are these guys, and why haven't we heard anything about them? Are the five prisoners the same five that were seen dancing as the towers came down? Since the initial report of those 5 came out around 9/11, I wasn't sure if it was real, or an anti-Israel conspiracy, but, I'd say this may confirm it to be real. Smells like Mossad to me, but would Israel's (and ours) allow this torture to happen to them?


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Headline you wished was from the Onion 

"CIA Director Goss Amazed at His Workload"

This is reassuring:

In a rare public appearance Wednesday, CIA Director Porter Goss said he is overwhelmed by the many duties of his job, including devoting five hours out of every day to prepare for and deliver intelligence briefings to President Bush.
"The jobs I'm being asked to do, the five hats that I wear, are too much for this mortal," Goss said. "I'm a little amazed at the workload."...

Goss, who has made few public comments beyond congressional testimony, also said the legislation creating the position of director of national intelligence left him unclear on his future role.

"It's got a huge amount of ambiguity in it," he said. "I don't know by law what my direct relationship is with John Negroponte," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or other top officials involved with intelligence.

I thought I was slow by not understanding what Negroponte's new job really does, but am I supposed to feel any better knowing that the CIA Director isn't even sure? 5 Hours out of every day to prepare the Presidential intellilgence briefings? Isn't there someone else at the CIA who can take some of the workload off Goss's shoulders? Somewhere in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Hell/Kashmir/Chechnya Bin Laden may sleep a bit easier.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005


RollingStone did an interesting piece on MoveOn's stregnths and weaknesses. A couple of graf's stood out to me:
They signed up 500,000 supporters with an Internet petition -- but Bill Clinton still got impeached. They organized 6,000 candlelight vigils worldwide -- but the U.S. still invaded Iraq. They raised $60 million from 500,000 donors to air countless ads and get out the vote in the battle-ground states -- but George Bush still whupped John Kerry. A gambler with a string of bets this bad might call it a night. But MoveOn.org just keeps doubling down.

Now that Howard Dean has been named chair of the Democratic National Committee -- an ascension that MoveOn helped to engineer -- the Internet activist group is placing another high-stakes wager. It's betting that its 3 million grass-roots revolutionaries can seize the reins of the party and establish the group as a lasting political force. "It's our Party," MoveOn's twenty-four-year-old executive director, Eli Pariser, declared in an e-mail. "We bought it, we own it and we're going to take it back." The group's new goal is sweeping in its ambition: To make 2006 a watershed year for liberal Democrats in Congress, in the same way that Newt Gingrich led a Republican revolution in 1994.

For one thing, Bush didn't "whoop" Kerry, but we'll let that go. But, at this point, despite the sheer power MoveOn has, its failed to make a huge difference, in what it's sought to do. The true test will be the Dean as DNC head. I support him, and think the Dems need a change in ideas and direction, but I'm not 100% comfortable with MoveOn running the party. The change in direction/ideas is going to take some time, and since the 2004 Presidential election, I think that Senator Reid and Minority Leader Pelosi get that changes need to be made. MoveOn's voice needs to be heard, but what if the voice isn't the right one? For example:
So who is MoveOn? Consider this: Howard Dean finished first in the MoveOn primary. Number Two wasn't John Kerry or John Edwards -- it was Dennis Kucinich. Listing the issues that resonate most with their membership, Boyd and Blades cite the environment, the Iraq War, campaign-finance reform, media reform, voting reform and corporate reform. Somewhere after freedom, opportunity and responsibility comes "the overlay of security concerns that everybody shares." Terrorism as a specific concern is notably absent. As are jobs. As is health care. As is education.

That isn't going to win elections. All of MoveOn's issues need to be addressed (voting/media/campaign/reform etc.), but are they going to sway the voters the Dems need to win? No way. If Jobs and Health care are absent, so are many moderate voters. Kerry lost Ohio/Iowa/NM because of moderate Catholic voters who are swayed by morality issues. Those are the people to appeal to. MoveOn should play a major part as organizer of events and getting the anti-GOP message out, but handing over the reins to them may be a disaster. Let them keep working at their message/direction, but don't blindly support.


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