Wednesday, March 31, 2010

If you lose your son in Iraq

UPDATE: Bill-O says he will pay the full amount for Al Snyder. It would be a good thing if he does so. The father still needs funds to appeal the overturn of the initial verdict.

And the pain of your grief is doubled and redoubled by vicious abuse from the hate filled followers of a self loathing closeted homosexual, you have no recourse in a court of law. In fact, the court says you have to pay the legal expenses of the hatemongers, $$16,510.

If you want to help Albert Snyder and his family, you can DONATE HERE.

Please do what you can to fight this.

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It is a difficult question so please give it some thought.

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight Ed discusses Batshit Bachman and Her Oratory of Hate.

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They call this good investing

And it was if you work for Goldmine Sachs. For the rest of the investors, not so much.

Never trust a Republican

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, will announce Wednesday that she will not retire and will stay in the Senate until her term ends in 2012, a Republican familiar with the announcement tells CNN.

"She is going to say she is staying through her term," said the GOP source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, because the source was not authorized to speak on behalf of the senator.

Hutchison unsuccessfully sought the Republican Texas gubernatorial nomination, losing to Gov. Rick Perry earlier this month. National and Texas Republicans have urged Hutchison to stay in office, even though she pledged during the gubernatorial primary that she would leave the Senate.
Queens X.

MoDo looks at the spin

And sees the Catholic Church making every mis-step on the road to perdition as it tries to cover up the priestly scandals and their connection to Der Popenfuhrer.
It doesn’t seem right that the Catholic Church is spending Holy Week practicing the unholy art of spin.

Complete with crown-of-thorns imagery, the church has started an Easter public relations blitz defending a pope who went along with the perverse culture of protecting molesters and the church’s reputation rather than abused — and sometimes disabled and disadvantaged — children.

The church gave up its credibility for Lent.
2000 years of existence has given the Church great inertia but not necessarily any permanence.

The Afghanistan economy is improving

Thanks in no small part to the astonishing productivity of the farming sector.
Afghanistan is not only the world's largest supplier of opium, it also is the global leader in hashish production, the United Nations said Wednesday.

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said it estimates that 10,000 to 24,000 hectares (24,700 to 59,300 acres) of cannabis are grown in Afghanistan every year and that this is used to make an estimated 1,500 to 3,500 tons of hashish annually.

"While other countries have even larger cannabis cultivation, the astonishing yield of the Afghan cannabis crop ... makes Afghanistan the world's biggest producer of hashish," UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costa said in a statement.

Afghanistan produces 145 kilograms (319 pounds) of hashish per hectare of cannabis, compared to about 40 kilograms (88 pounds) per hectare in Morocco, Costa said.

Hashish is the resin produced from cannabis, also known as marijuana.
Afghan hashish has long been known as the "Beluga caviar" of the drug world. Good to see the war hasn't interfered with production.

A moment of casual profanity

Joy Behar on Glen Beck. O what a Joy!

Vatican not liable for kiddie diddler priests

Because the priests were not employees of the Vatican but independent contractors signed on as needed to fulfill church service needs. Not really, but the Vatican does have a trio of other reasons why they have no liability.
Dragged deeper than ever into the clerical sex abuse scandal, the Vatican is launching a legal defense that it hopes will shield the pope from a lawsuit in Kentucky seeking to have him answer attorneys' questions under oath.

Court documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press show that Vatican lawyers plan to argue that the pope has immunity as head of state, that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren't employees of the Vatican, and that a 1962 document is not the "smoking gun" that provides proof of a cover-up.

The Holy See is trying to fend off the first U.S. case to reach the stage of determining whether victims actually have a claim against the Vatican itself for negligence for allegedly failing to alert police or the public about Roman Catholic priests who molested children.
Regardless of the degree of liability, this continuing scandal does show the hazard of letting Conservatives run the business.

Quote of the Day

A lie itself isn't necessarily bad. We lie in order to criticize people who are abusing their power. They lie in order to humiliate and take out people who are at the receiving end of power.
Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men, explaining the difference between his efforts and those of rightwing punks like O'Keefe and Breitbart.

All your genes belong to you, again

Thanks to a federal judge who has handed down a decision that calls Bullshit on those who say they can put a patent on part of someone else's body.
United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet issued the 152-page decision, which invalidated seven patents related to the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, whose mutations have been associated with cancer.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York joined with individual patients and medical organizations to challenge the patents last May: they argued that genes, products of nature, fall outside of the realm of things that can be patented. The patents, they argued, stifle research and innovation and limit testing options.

Judge Sweet, however, ruled that the patents were “improperly granted” because they involved a “law of nature.” He said that many critics of gene patents considered the idea that isolating a gene made it patentable “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result.”
So, pending further appeal, the idea that you can claim ownership of even a small part of someone else is patently false.

Sen. Scott Brown of MA is a Liar

It may not be a surprise or even news the Scott Brown has totally embraced the current GOP core values, but Rachel Maddow is tired of being the vehicle for his most obvious and provable lie. So she does the only thing she can do. She calls him a liar and hope he will stop lying because Massachusetts deserves more from its Senator.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Border Music Blogging

Living up on the Northern Marches of the Empire, I am constantly aware of the influences of our looming neighbor to the north. Here is one enjoyable Canuckian crew.

From the pen pf Pat Oliphant

"Dog eating grin", yeah that's what its called.

click pic to big

Two days after the arrests

And nobody is yet calling the Christian Jihadi Militia, Hutaree what they really are, terrorists. Won't find it in the NY Times. Not in the WaPo. Not in the LA Times. On the HuffPo, oh no. That liberal bastion MSNBC, no way. Surprisingly CNN comes close with the following.
"They're more of a private army or a terrorist organization or really just a criminal organization."
. Sadly, you can't even find the story on McClatchy. And so we continue to hide our national head in the sand about our own terrorists.

EXTRA: Eugene Robinson is the closest so far, but he still does not come right out and call them terrorists as they deserve.

It is a good thing that Banks have no principles

They might then be in some trouble if they had to explain their awesome flip flops on positions within peoples memories. When one of those people is Elizabeth Warren, you know they have some explaining to do.
"ABA lobbyists now aggressively insist that separating consumer protection and safety and soundness functions would unravel bank stability," Warren writes. "Yet just a few years ago, they heatedly argued the opposite--that the functions should be distinct.

"In 2006, the ABA claimed to act on principle as it railed against...[a]proposal for 'combin[ing] safety and soundness guidance with consumer protection guidance, creating confusion that is best addressed by separating them...[The] ABA recommends that the safety and soundness provisions relating to underwriting and portfolio management be separated from the consumer protection provisions.'

"Read that again: the ABA in 2006 said that policymakers should separate safety-and-soundness and consumer protection--exactly the opposite of its position today," Warren notes.
As Ms. Warren goes on to say, the only constant principle the ABA adheres to is opposition to any meaningful reform that would cut into their masters profits.

The Daily Show looks at GOP violence

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The eye of the storm

The recession is over, the economy is getting better, well maybe not. According to Elizabeth Warren, a woman who knows what she is talking about combined with a willingness to speak the trust, the next shoe is about to drop and it could be a big one, commercial real estate.
By the end of 2010, half of all commercial real estate mortgages in the United States could be "underwater," according to the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program watchdog.

Translation: Americans' financial woes are far from over.

The commercial real estate bubble will grow so large that it will become a "serious problem" that will take at least three years to address, Elizabeth Warren, who chairs the congressional oversight pannel on TARP, told CNBC on Monday.

Nearly 3,000 "mid-sized" banks have what she called "dangerous concentrations" of sinking commercial mortgages: a situation that could result in roughly half the commercial property in the U.S. becoming worth more as debt than as real estate.
Most banks write commercial RE loans in 5 year segments, even if they go 30 years or more. Banks aren't going to "renew" a CRE mortgage if the cash flow won't support it and after the rough patch business has been through, how many owners can show the necessary cash flow? Tick, tock, tick, tock.


CREW files a complaint with the IRS

From Raw Story:
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and have filed a complaint charging Sean Hannity's Freedom Concerts with deceptive and illegal marketing practices.

The concerts, hosted by Freedom Alliance, raise funds to provide scholarships and services to disabled veterans and their families. According to an email distributed by CREW, the complaints "allege Lt. Col. North's Freedom Alliance has violated its charitable tax status by engaging in prohibited political activities. In addition, CREW's complaints charge Mr. Hannity's Freedom Concerts has engaged in deceptive and illegal marketing practices by suggesting that all concert ticket sale revenue goes directly to scholarships for children of killed and wounded service members."
Hannity is the front man but the heart of the scam is Ollie North. With luck that lying fuck will do the time in prison he deserves.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bluesday Music Blogging

So many good people on this cut that Chuck Berry just sits and watches.

Duke beats Baylor to make Final Four

And watching their men get beat must have pissed off the women because tonight Baylor beat Duke to make the Final Four. Just like your mother, the women had to show the men how it should be done.

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight Ed looks at the Kabul Qaugmire

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From the pen of Kevin Siers

Quote of the Day

The extreme right record of utter and total failure to stop the march to progress is the reason we should not have to bear their craziness anymore. The record is numbingly clear: They were wrong about Social Security. They were wrong on integrating the military forces under President Truman. They were wrong about McCarthyism in the early 1950's. They were wrong about passing civil rights legislation in the 1960's. They were wrong on Medicare. They were wrong about women rights. They were wrong about 'trickle down economics.' They were wrong about tax breaks for the rich. They were wrong about the war in Iraq. They were wrong about climate change. They were wrong about LGBT rights and they are wrong about healthcare reform.
David Mixner, detailing how the Right has constantly tried to wrong America and, thankfully, has failed constantly.

Warren, You are sorely missed, Music Blogging

10 more years and everybody in Afghanistan will be rich

Thanks to the largess of Uncle Sam. We have spread $ Billions on contracts with locals and no idea where the money goes.
Hamed Wardak, the soft-spoken Georgetown University-educated son of an Afghan cabinet minister, has a Defense Department contract worth up to $360 million to transport U.S. military goods through some of the most insecure territory in Afghanistan. But his company has no trucks.

Instead, Wardak sits atop a murky pyramid of Afghan subcontractors who provide the vehicles and safeguard their passage. U.S. military officials say they are satisfied with the results, but they concede that they have little knowledge or control over where the money ends up.
But that is OK with some, for obvious reasons.
Although security for trucks carrying U.S. military supplies around Afghanistan is considered a particularly lucrative source of extortion, the administration has not investigated it or even estimated its scope, according to several officials involved in Afghanistan policy, none of whom was authorized to discuss the issue on the record.

Congressional investigators who have opened a probe into the Defense Department's $2.16 billion Host Nation Trucking (HNT) contract described what one called "willful blindness" on the part of a U.S. military that "likes having its trucks showing up and doesn't want to get into the details of how they got there."
Understandable but what is the real price. How much of the corruption comes back at US troops from the Taliban? Is any of it worth it? We would be a lot better off pulling out of Afghanistan and just paying off whoever is in power. Save lives and money.

R.I.P. Donald N. Frey

That was a pretty good idea you had.

Krugman defines the fight over financial reform

And even though he comes down on the side of those labeled "Punks", he is really for the good guys like you and me.
The only question is whether we’re going to regulate bankers so that they don’t abuse the privilege of government backing. And it’s that regulation — not future bailouts — that reform opponents are trying to block.

So it’s the punks versus the plutocrats — those who want to rein in runaway banks, and bankers who want the freedom to put the economy at risk, freedom enhanced by the knowledge that taxpayers will bail them out in a crisis. Whatever they say, the fact is that people like Mr. Shelby are on the side of the plutocrats; the American people should be on the side of the punks, who are trying to protect their interests.
Were it not for Fux and the radio hustlers, no one in their right mind would support the Banksters who trashed the economy and have worked so hard to steal Americans life savings.

FBI raids halt plans of radical killer group

And despite calling themselves Christian, their plans and reason for being were simply to kill.
Nine suspects tied to a Christian militia in the Midwest are charged with conspiring to kill police officers, then attack a funeral in the hopes of killing more law enforcement personnel, federal prosecutors said Monday.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said agents moved on the group because the Hutaree members were planning a violent reconaissance mission sometime in April – just a few days away.

Members of the group called Hutaree are charged in the case, including their leader, David Brian Stone, also known as "Captain Hutaree."

Once other officers gathered for a slain officer's funeral, the group planned to detonate homemade bombs at the funeral, killing more, according to newly unsealed court papers.
Because everybody know that Jesus said to his followers, "Kill them all, me and God will sort them out". And what is with this John Brown complex they all have? Their delusion that they will fire the first shots of a great uprising.

It looks like they are gunning for Michael Steele

The embattled and often bamboozled chairman of the Republican National Committee received the first salvo in the latest attempt to restore purity and whiteness to the party.
Adding fuel to the fire already raging around Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, a little-noticed expense in the Republican Party's 2010 budget includes a nearly two thousand dollar tab for a bondage-themed bar in West Hollywood, according to a report on Tucker Carlson's new politics website.

The report cites figures from a new Federal Election Commission filing. According to the records, Steele dropped $1,946.25 at topless bar Voyeur West Hollywood, which the article notes is a "bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex."

On the same California trip, the records say, Steele spent $9,099 at the Beverly Hills hotel and $6,596 at the Four Seasons.

A review of the Voyeur club sums up the experience thus: "In Los Angeles, it takes a lot to shock and awe. When you walk into Voyeur on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, you might not be completely shocked at the almost naked women writhing on each other but you will undoubtedly be in awe."
Poor kinky Mike, if he had used his personal card, his wife would be filing for divorce so he uses the company card and the company will soon be filing for divorce. What's a kinky playa to do?

Insurance companies find loophole to let kids die

Why would any self respecting insurance company want to cover sick kids? They are just a drain on the bottom line and interfere with keeping Wall St. happy. To this end, before the ink is even dry the health insurance companies have found that the new law as written does not require them to write policies for kids currently sick.
According to the New York Times, "Insurers agree that if they provide insurance for a child, they must cover pre-existing conditions. But, they say, the law does not require them to write insurance for the child and it does not guarantee the 'availability of coverage' for all until 2014."

"The fine print differs from the larger political message," William G. Schiffbauer, an attorney who represents insurance companies, told the Times. "If a company sells insurance, it will have to cover pre-existing conditions for children covered by the policy. But it does not have to sell to somebody with a pre-existing condition. And the insurer could increase premiums to cover the additional cost."

While the bill precludes insurers from denying care to children who are already accepted for coverage, it allows them to refuse a policy to children under 19 from the outset, until 2014 when additional regulations kick in.
Those health insurance company death panels sure do work fast. One more really good reason to destroy for-profit health insurance companies before they destroy us.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

S & G Music Blogging

A toon for Sunday

From the pen of Tom Toles

click pic to big

Ford sells Volvo to the Chinese

And so we wait to see if the new owners will maintain the quality the brand is famous for or will they cut corners and make Volvos as deadly as Chinese milk.? Time will tell.

A law the Banksters did not fight to stop

Not the US Banksters. The foreign banks would just as soon not have to comply with the new law that was passed as part of the recent job creation bill.
Foreign tax havens like Switzerland, Liechtenstein and some Caribbean countries thrive by keeping their clients’ money under wraps and safe from tax authorities’ reach.

Now, Congress is attacking some of these schemes, courtesy of interesting provisions aimed at curbing tax avoidance that legislators wrote into the new jobs bill, known as the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act.

The most substantive section of the bill states that foreign financial institutions will face a 30 percent tax on their United States investments if they refuse to disclose information about accounts they have opened for American citizens in offshore jurisdictions. Another aspect of the bill eliminates a clever derivatives strategy used by investors to make their tax bills on dividends disappear.
Estimates of up to $100 Billion in recovered taxes from people and corporations who can afford them will be a welcome addition to the Treasury. Now if we can only get a transaction tax on Wall St. trading...

Everyone needs a good laugh

And the original script writer of the Razzie's Worst Movie of the Decade, "Battlefield Earth", has written an apology for his effort.
No one sets out to make a train wreck. Actually, comparing it to a train wreck isn't really fair to train wrecks, because people actually want to watch those.
If you need to crack a smile give it a read.

Obama visits Karzai of the Afghans

And in that time honored display of dominance that Presidents love, gives Karzai one hours notice of a visit in his own country. That, however, was only a mild bitch-slap that did not extend to the purpose of his visit.
The Afghanistan trip was intended to let Obama tell Karzai that he must crack down on corruption and cut the flow of money from poppy production and drug trafficking that is sustaining the insurgency. The U.S. also wants Karzai to halt cronyism and rewards for warlords in government hiring and to create an effective, credible judicial system.

"This is something that simply has to be done," said Obama's national security adviser, Jim Jones. "Both presidents have to be on the same wavelength."

The White House insisted that Karzai's Cabinet participate in most of the meetings with Obama, making the point that Karzai must work with his ministers.
For some strange reason Presidents, past and present, always feel that they can ask a leopard to change his spots. How well has that worked before?

Another criminal enterprise?

Matt Taibbi lets his views on the Catholic Church be known and he doesn't have a good word to say about the Most Holy Roman Kiddie Diddlers and their organization.
They’re a giant for-profit company using predatory salesmanship to sell what they themselves know is a defective, outmoded, basically unnecessary product. They’ll use any means necessary to keep their market share and if they have to lie and cheat and deflect and point fingers to keep the racket going, they’ll do it, just like any other sleazeball company.

But I think it’s time we started considering that what the church is is even worse than that. It’s possible we should start wondering if the church is also a criminal organization that in this country, anyway, should be broken up using RICO statutes.

One of the few areas where I agreed with George Bush was in the notion that a country providing safe haven to terrorists should itself be treated as a terrorist organization. Morally this isn’t a difficult one to figure out; a country that keeps house for a bin Laden and doesn’t assist other countries in trying to catch him is a rogue state, one that should be booted out of the community of nations.

We don’t permit countries that harbor terrorists to participate in international society, but the Catholic Church — an organization that has been proven over and over again to systematically enable child molesters, right up now to the level of the Pope — is given a free pass. In fact the Church is not only not sanctioned in any serious way, it gets to retain its outrageous tax-exempt status, which makes its systematic child abuse, in this country at least, a government-subsidized activity.
Should the Catholic Church retain its tax exemption for the cimes they have covered up? Or should we get all Henry the VIII on them and any large religious organization that does not return everything above basic living and maintenance expenses to the community? It is a dialogue that is long overdue in this country.

Empty Advice Music Blogging

The GOP warned Obama about HCR and they warned him about recess appointments and now he has done both. This is for you, Grand Old Party!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Your concern is justified

And Frank Rich explains why the Republican dabbling with the elements of anarchy in their ranks is not just stirring up the base.
If Congressional Republicans want to maintain a politburo-like homogeneity in opposition to the Democrats, that’s their right. If they want to replay the petulant Gingrich government shutdown of 1995 by boycotting hearings and, as John McCain has vowed, refusing to cooperate on any legislation, that’s their right too (and a political gift to the Democrats). But they can’t emulate the 1995 G.O.P. by remaining silent as mass hysteria, some of it encompassing armed militias, runs amok in their own precincts. We know the end of that story. And they can’t pretend that we’re talking about “isolated incidents” or a “fringe” utterly divorced from the G.O.P. A Quinnipiac poll last week found that 74 percent of Tea Party members identify themselves as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents, while only 16 percent are aligned with Democrats.

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, some responsible leaders in both parties spoke out to try to put a lid on the resistance and violence. The arch-segregationist Russell of Georgia, concerned about what might happen in his own backyard, declared flatly that the law is “now on the books.” Yet no Republican or conservative leader of stature has taken on Palin, Perry, Boehner or any of the others who have been stoking these fires for a good 17 months now. Last week McCain even endorsed Palin’s “reload” rhetoric.

Are these politicians so frightened of offending anyone in the Tea Party-Glenn Beck base that they would rather fall silent than call out its extremist elements and their enablers? Seemingly so, and if G.O.P. leaders of all stripes, from Romney to Mitch McConnell to Olympia Snowe to Lindsey Graham, are afraid of these forces, that’s the strongest possible indicator that the rest of us have reason to fear them too.
They are sowing the wind and they believe they can control the whirlwind. A look at history makes clear that better men than Boehner, Armey, Steele, Ailes, Rove, McCain and McConnell have tried and failed.

Habemus Mama.

MoDo looks at the Catholic Church and thinks that the liberation of women from the dominion of the kiddie rapers would save the church.
American bishops have gotten politically militant in recent years, opposing the health care bill because its language on abortion wasn’t vehement enough, and punishing Catholic politicians who favor abortion rights and stem cell research. They should spend as much time guarding the kids already under their care as they do championing the rights of those who aren’t yet born.

Decade after decade, the church hid its sordid crimes, enabling the collared perpetrators instead of letting the police collar them. In the case of the infamous German priest, one diocese official hinted that his problem could be fixed by transferring him to teach at a girls’ school. Either they figured that he would not be tempted by the female sex, or worse, the church was even less concerned about putting little girls at risk.

The nuns have historically cleaned up the messes of priests. And this is a historic mess. Benedict should go home to Bavaria. And the cardinals should send the white smoke up the chimney, proclaiming “Habemus Mama.”
She might be right about this one.

Bill was on fire and on target last night

Here is New Rules. It builds up nicely to a dynamite finish. Send a copy to your Democratic Congressman.

He finally did it

President Obama has announced 15 recess appointments in an attempt to get a fully functioning government in the face of unrelenting Republican obstructionism. This is 15 out of 74 that have been blocked. TPM has the details.

Obama to appoint new Director for Medicare and Medicaid

His choice looks well qualified and has been prominent in the efforts to reduce medical costs. He has also been a part of government under the Big Dog. Dr. Donald M. Berwick has to be approved by the Senate. Obama should just appoint him during this recess and save everybody a lot of trouble.

Remember when English was easy to understand

Bob Herbert looks at the plight of the CFPA in the Senate financial reform bill and finds an interesting change in the accepted definition of several words.
An interesting concept at work here is the notion that consumer protections that work too well would end up hurting the “safety and soundness” of the nation’s financial sector. (That’s the reason the Senate bill provides for bank regulators to have a veto over the proposed agency’s rules under some limited circumstances.)

“Safety and soundness” is a euphemism for profitability. What’s really being said is that when the profitability of the big banks and other financial agencies and institutions are in conflict with the fair treatment of consumers, it’s the fair treatment of consumers that has to give way.

Now would be a good time to start putting that notion to rest.
“Safety and soundness” once upon a time meant that the bank would be there when you needed your money. Now the meaning is that you will be there when the bank needs to make more money.

The kids were deaf and the Church just would not listen

And the result was Father Murphy was able to molest the deaf kids with impunity and when his transgressions were finally made known he was allowed to continue working in with children for another 24 years. It is a horrid story of institutional self-preservation.

Oh No! Not another supplemental for the Kabul Quagmire.

Despite the promise to avoid doing so, the Obama administration is also paying for the KQ with supplemental budget appropriations. Included in the supplemental are funds for making a silk purse out of a sows ear, also known as training Afghan security forces.
The Pentagon wants $33 billion in additional funding to pay for the war in Afghanistan this year and train the Afghan military, but members of Congress want to make sure they’re not writing a blank check.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared before Senate appropriators to defend the war supplemental, which is on top of the $708 billion baseline budget submitted to Congress in February.

Most of the war supplemental – a separate account used to pay for war costs – will pay for Afghanistan operations. Of that, $2.6 billion is to train the Afghan national security force, seen as a long-term endeavor that Congress worries could become a burden over time.
So far most of the money used to train Afghan security has been poured down a rat hole. Better to spend our money pulling out of the country and let the chips fall where they may.

Quote of the Day

Fifty-three years into commercial nuclear power ... the US still has no safe, sound, permanent storage plan for high-level radioactive waste,
Kevin Kamps, a spokesman for Beyond Nuclear.

The Justice Dept is taking a long, hard look at Sen. Ensign;s criminal behavior

And they are going straight to the center of Nevada political power to do so.
R&R Partners is famous for creating the Las Vegas slogan “What happens here stays here.”

But it’s the firm’s Washington connections — and its deep ties to scandal-plagued Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) — that have drawn it into a Senate Ethics Committee investigation and, potentially, a Department of Justice inquiry.

A top R&R executive, Pete Ernaut, has been subpoenaed by the Ethics Committee as part of its investigation into Ensign’s extramarital affair with Cindy Hampton, his former campaign treasurer. John Lopez, Ensign’s former chief of staff, who now lobbies for R&R, has been subpoenaed by the Ethics Committee as well.

The $40 million-per-year company is a power player on the political scene, with connections to virtually every major politician in Nevada. CEO Billy Vassiliadis — or Billy V., as he’s known in Nevada — has close relationships with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his son, gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid, and was a senior adviser to Barack Obama’s Nevada campaign in 2008.

But it’s the Ensign connections that are bringing unwelcome scrutiny.
You have to talk to the players to know the game.

Friday, March 26, 2010

They are COPS, they can do whatever they want

And a 3 judge panel has affirmed their right, as policemen, to Taze a 7 month pregnant woman because she didn't sign a traffic citation.
Malaika Brooks was driving her son to Seattle's African American Academy in 2004 when she was stopped for doing 32 mph in a school zone. She insisted it was the car in front of her that was speeding, and refused to sign the ticket because she thought she'd be admitting guilt.

Rather than give her the ticket and let her go on her way, the officers decided to arrest her. One reached in, turned off her car and dropped the keys on the floor. Brooks stiffened her arms against the steering wheel and told the officers she was pregnant, but refused to get out, even after they threatened to stun her.

The officers - Sgt. Steven Daman, Officer Juan Ornelas and Officer Donald Jones - then stunned her three times, in the thigh, shoulder and neck, and hauled her out of the car, laying her face-down in the street.
She was under no obligation to sign the ticket, but the court panel has chosen to uphold the God given right of cops to act like a bunch of high school assholes whenever they choose to do so. Whenever you see that flashing skibar, be very afraid because you are only a citizen and you don't count for shit.

Your Dylan Dally Moment

And tonight our hero goes for come cheeb thrills.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Your Two Minute Ed

Going into the weekend with two chapters, the first with Alan Grayson and the second with Victoria Jackson showing a flash of comedy chops.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rep. Grayson calls for Cantors resignation

Sign up for his MoneyBomb tomorrow

This time Dr. No does a Bunning

And unlike that senile old fart from Kentucky, Tom Coburn will make sure that all those lazy folks without jobs won't get any money to keep the wolf from the door. That immoral old sad sack from Oklahoma says no so often that by now he has probably forgotten how to say yes. He would not even be able to reaffirm his marriage vows.

Skeevy little fuck pleads out

The latest report from the AP indicates that the notorious and cowardly scumbag James O'Keefe and his minions have reached a plea deal.
Federal prosecutors filed reduced charges Friday against conservative activist James O'Keefe and three others who were accused of trying to tamper with the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office.

The new charges are contained in a bill of information, which can only be filed with a defendant's consent and typically signals a plea deal. The new filing charges the four with entering a federal building under false pretenses, a misdemeanor. They had been arrested Jan. 25 on felony charges.
Sadly misdemeanors charges do not qualify for residence in a PMITA prison.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, mean as a stepped on rattlesnake

And proof positive that the for profit health insurance companies consider birth a pre-existing condition.
At birth, Houston Tracy let out a single loud cry before his father cut the cord and handed him to a nurse.

Instantly, Doug Tracy knew something was wrong with his son.

"He wasn't turning pink fast enough," Tracy said. "When they listened to his chest, they realized he had an issue."

That turned out to be d-transposition of the great arteries, a defect in which the two major vessels that carry blood away from the heart are reversed. The condition causes babies to turn blue.

Surgery would correct it, but within days of Houston's birth March 15, Tracy learned that his application for health insurance to cover his son had been denied. The reason: a pre-existing condition.

"How can he have a pre-existing condition if the baby didn't exist until now?" Tracy asked.
And the baby was born too soon to be covered by the new law. He has had the necessary surgery but who will pay?

He needs to take lessons from Rep Boner

Because Eric Cantor is a very bad liar, in the sense that his timing and presentation suck so bad that even a teabagger will admit its a lie. Witness his performance yesterday when he accused the Democrats of politicizing GOP brown shirt threats and attacks on Democrats offices and families at the same time that police revealed that the bullet he claimed was an attack on him was a random shot with no known connection to the whiny little snot.
The second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives accused Democratic Party leaders Thursday of "fanning the flames" about threats of violence to House Democrats and exploiting the reported incidents for political purposes.

Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, said that he, too, had been a victim of violence. He said that his office in Richmond was shot at early Tuesday morning and that he'd received threats throughout his political career for being Jewish.

However, Richmond police said late Thursday that it appears the bullet had been randomly fired into the air around 1 a.m. Tuesday and hit the window of the first-floor office when it was headed back down.
And he sounds like such a horrid little creep that no one wants to listen to him.

The Chairman is accepting resignations

From the AP:
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, who heads Army forces for U.S. Pacific Command, was wrong to call on troops and their families to fight a repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Mullen said if uniformed officers disagree with President Barack Obama’s call for a repeal, the answer for them is “to vote with your feet.”
The proper action when you disagree with the CIC.

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

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It should be an easy choice

According to the latest memos coming out regarding the German pedophile priests, Catholics should have no problem making a decision about Popenfuhrer Ratzi. If one looks at the memos and the people involved in covering up the pedophilia, the Popenfuhrer is morally unfit to guide the Roman Catholic Church. If you believe that as the Popenfuhrer states, despite his immersion in the process of dealing with the pedophile priest, he knew nothing about what was happening then he is incompetent and probably too stupid to be in charge of the Catholic Church.

Either way the Church would be best served if he stepped down and retired to a monestery.

We enjoyed the GOP squirming

As the HCR reached its final conclusion, but that was only the true Republican spirit breaking out of its cocoon. As Paul Krugman points out:
For today’s G.O.P. is, fully and finally, the party of Ronald Reagan — not Reagan the pragmatic politician, who could and did strike deals with Democrats, but Reagan the antigovernment fanatic, who warned that Medicare would destroy American freedom. It’s a party that sees modest efforts to improve Americans’ economic and health security not merely as unwise, but as monstrous. It’s a party in which paranoid fantasies about the other side — Obama is a socialist, Democrats have totalitarian ambitions — are mainstream. And, as a result, it’s a party that fundamentally doesn’t accept anyone else’s right to govern.
And for that last reason, the Republican Party and all its unregenerate supporters need to be put to sleep.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Suck on it Chicago

What do you get when Michelle Obama, her mother, the kids and some friends have pizza for lunch on a trip to NYC? Simply the answer to a question that has baffled Chicago pizza eaters for years.
Michelle Obama took her mother, daughters, and three of their friends to acclaimed Brooklyn pizzeria Grimaldi's yesterday, and what started out as a casual lunch is now reigniting longstanding tensions between two bitterly warring factions: the Chicago-style pizza crowd vs. NYC.

The Grimaldi's waiter who served the family, Rafal Harajda, told City Room that after they finished their meal of four pies—a plain, a pepperoni, a sausage and one with mushrooms, peppers and onions—the First Lady of the United States of America declared, "It was better than Chicago pizza." Which must cut like a pizza slicer for Chicago, seeing as Obama is from their hometown. Harajda later clarified the First Lady's statement, but did not contradict it.

When asked by the Chicago Tribune about his quote to City Room, Harajda clarified: "No, what she said was, 'It's the best pizza, and I'm from Chicago.'"
New Yorkers always knew they had the best pie, that stuff in Chi-Town is a cake.

h/t to Fark

Your Dylan Dally Moment

And tonight Dylan looks at what we might expect from financial reform.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

From Anthony Weiners lips to Gods ear

But since it bypasses Roger "The Hutt" Ailes and Rupe The Poop Murdoch it won't happen. Just enjoy listening to what Rep Weiner has to say.

World Music Blogging

Because its good for you to get out and see what other people are like.

Der Popenfuhrer gets his own direct link

To a Wisconsin priestly kiddie diddle. This one is probably a near record as well. While Ratzi was not one of the molesters he certainly did not give any indication that he disapproved.
Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.
The report by the NY Times does a good job of showing all that is wrong with with the Catholic Church's handling of pedophile priests, from the complicity of the hierarchy to the transfer of pedophile priests to new pastures of innocents.

The envy of highway workers everywhere.

The next time you are driving down the road and you see four or five guys standing in front of three pieces of heavy equipment, drinking coffee and watching one guy in a hole with a shovel remember this. They are working harder than than your average KBR employee contracted for Iraq.
Need a lesson on how to make money in a war zone?

Try studying defense contractor KBR, a former unit of Dick Cheney's Halliburton. The engineering logistics company -- whose conflict zone days date to the Vietnam War -- won a contract worth $4.6 million to repair military vehicles at a base outside Baghdad. For the job, they employed 144 mechanics.

How many hours do you think they worked?

According to an analysis by Mother Jones, based on a report by a Pentagon Inspector General, the 144 KBR mechanics worked as little as 43 minutes per month, on average.

Even KBR's internal figures tell a shocking story of military contract waste. The company says that of the workers they had, just 6.6 percent were being used at any given time, on average. KBR said that "worker utilization" rates ranged from a meager 3.97 percent in April 2009 to 9.65 percent in September 2008.
So the next time you see road workers of any kind standing around, give them a salute. In comparison to the taxpayer hired hands at KBR, they are busting their asses.

Are you a part of Grayson's Money Bomb?

It is set for Saturday March 27. If you have not pledged yet, you can do so here.

And if you want to show your support for his Medicare You Can Buy Into Act H.R. 4789, you can go here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A holster is cheap

Compared to the red ass you are going to get after the red ass you got when you popped a cap in your own ass.
A police officer for the University of Illinois at Chicago is under investigation after his gun accidentally discharged, wounding him in the buttocks while he shopped at a Vernon Hills shopping center, officials said Tuesday.

Mallin, 39, was shopping at a Best Buy store in Rivertree Court Shopping Center around 5:30 p.m. Monday when the .40-caliber gun tucked in his waistband went off, said Sgt. Kevin Grampo of the Vernon Hills Police Department.

The weapon discharged when either his finger or clothing got "hooked" in the trigger, Grampo said.
Normally, procedure would require you to go shopping without a round in the chamber.

Your Two Minute Ed

And tonight Ed takes on the Republican Two Minute Hate.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Nothing like a lawsuit to clear the managerial mind

After several years of digging in their heels about principal reduction for underwater mortgagee, Bank of America has followed the announcement of a $3 Billion settlement of a Massachusetts lawsuit over Countrywide Mortgage fraud by announcing a program to forgive or defer the underwater portion of Countrywide mortgages.
Most of the borrowers have pay-option, adjustable-rate mortgages, or option ARMs, a type of loan that allowed them to pay so little that their mortgage balances went up instead of down. To help reduce their first-mortgage payments, the bank is offering to stop charging interest on part of the principal the borrowers owe, a practice known as forbearance.

The other features of the government plan -- reducing the interest rate to as low as 2% and extending the time for payback to as much as 40 years -- would then be applied to try to get the payment down to 31% of household income, the target of the Obama administration's anti-foreclosure plan.

Borrowers who agreed to the restructured terms and who made the lower payments as scheduled would be able to gradually convert the principal placed into forbearance into forgiven principal over a five-year period.
The Bank will now have to take write downs for the losses but will maintain some control over when it does so.

In other news, the public still awaits ex Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozillo's perp walk.

R.I.P. Robert Culp

You were the first TV star to partner with a black man as an equal. Was that why all your shows were filmed overseas?

Teabagger madness

From the AP:
Authorities are investigating a severed propane line at the home of a Virginia congressman's brother after tea party activists posted the man's address online.

Activists are upset about U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello's vote in favor of the health care reform.

Perriello's office said that a line to a propane tank on a gas grill was cut at Bo Periello's Charlottesville home on Tuesday. Tea party activists had posted the address online thinking it was the congressman's home, telling opponents to drop by and "express their thanks" for his vote.
This was at the home of the Congressman's brother since the teabaggers could not even look up an address correctly. When informed of their error, the teabaggers refused to correct it and this was one of the first results. No doubt, somebodys idea of a cute joke or a dire threat.

EXTRA: Steny Hoyer reveals at least 10 Democratic legislators have received threats within the last 48 hours. Thank you Glen, Rush, Sarah and all your cowardly minions.

Folk It Hump Day Music Blogging

Health Care Toons Today

Tom Toles

Pat Oliphant

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One Irish Bishop resigns

There are still four more bishops implicated in the Irish Kiddie Diddle scandal. They will probably drop slowly one by one and Popenfurher Ratzi hopes the public will tire of this before his favorite has to go.

A natural result

For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: the island's gone.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said.

"What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming," said Hazra.
Now they can argue over who should maintain the navigation markers.

Kentucky is home to Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning

Despite this remarkable record of bad judgement, all is not hopeless.
KY AG Jack Conway (D) is wading into the health care debate, announcing Tuesday he will not file a lawsuit against the federal government in trying to refuse the legislation.

"I do not intend to use my authority as Kentucky Attorney General to sign our Commonwealth onto a health care lawsuit against the federal government, because I will not waste taxpayer dollars on a political stunt," Conway said in a statement provided to Hotline OnCall.
I don't doubt that the Kentucky AG may have other flaws but at least he is not a complete fool.

There is not much you can say about Ottawa

But to their credit they have the decency to tell Ann The Man Coulter to "go piss off". In fairness to Ann, she deserved every bit of it. You don't talk smack about a country and then expect them to be good hosts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

If your handgun looks like this...

You are NOT playing Russian Roulette, you are setting up the next dude for a suicide, if you don't win first.

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight Ed calls for all Americans to stand up to subversion from Radical Right.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

They write letters

And this one from Russell King to the Conservatives is what America needs.
Dear Conservative Americans,

The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You've lost me and you've lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I'd like to give you some advice and an invitation.

First, the invitation: Come back to us.

Now the advice. You're going to have to come up with a platform that isn't built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more. But you have work to do even before you take on that task.
There is much more. Be sure to share it with your Conservative family and friends.

h/t Suburban Guerilla

Texas has some wicked strange Gomers

And one of the strangest is Louie Gohmert R-Bagofhammers. His latest hairball hacked up for the body politic is a blatant effort to save his corporate masters money when they buy the election of Senators.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is calling for a strong re-assertion of states rights against Congress -- in the form of a Constitutional amendment to eliminate the direct popular election of Senators, and go back to the pre-17th Amendment setup of state legislatures appointing them.

"Ever since the safeguard of State legislatures electing U.S. Senators was removed by the 17th Amendment in 1913, there has been no check or balance on the Federal power grab for the last 97 years," Gohmert said in a press release, calling for a constitutional convention of the states. "Article V requires a minimum of 34 states to request a Convention which in this case, would be an Amendment Convention for only ONE amendment."
You see it is a lot cheaper to buy a small number of state senators than it is to bankroll a statewide election campaign. And in most states, the local yokels are harder to displace than a reef full of limpets so the initial investment works longer. Got to admire those Republicans, they are like cockroaches the way they squeeze past any law or regulation that interferes with their agenda.

A guest post from Barbara O'Brien

On Sunday I linked to a Juan Cole post regarding the differences between the US and Iran regarding health care for the least of our citizens. Barbara O'Brien of MahaBlog has been gracious enough to allow me to post something she has written about health care in Iran and Mississippi, the least of our citizens.

Mississippians Turn to Iran for Health Care Help

Recently I wrote here that Mississippi has the worst health care in the nation. Now I want to tell the story about how desperate Mississippians, abandoned by their government, turned to Iran for help.

Bt first, I want to tell you about Mississippi’s infant mortality rate. The rate of infant mortality is the number of infants who are born alive but die before their first birthday, per 1,000 live births. In other words, if infant mortality is 5, that means that 5 of every 1,000 babies in that population will not survive the first year of life.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the estimated infant mortality rate in the United States for 2009 is 6.22, which is high for an industrialized democracy. But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the infant mortality rate in Mississippi is 11.4. Only Florida is worse, at 14.1. By contrast, the infant mortality rate for Washington and Minnesota is 5.1.

Now, here’s where Iran comes in — according to the Times of London, last October “five top Iranian doctors, including a senior official at the health ministry in Tehran, were quietly brought to Mississippi” to advise Mississippians how to lower their infant mortality rate.

This exchange came about when James Miller, managing director of Oxford International Development Group, was consulting in a rural Mississippi hospital. “He was shocked to find that the state had the third highest medical expenditure per capita, but came last in terms of outcome,” the Times article said.

Miller remembered a conference presentation on how Iran radically lowered its infant mortality rates. Facing a shortage of doctors and hospitals, the government launched a program of “health houses” staffed by local people trained to be health workers. The health workers are authorized to provide basic medical services such as diabetes monitoring as well as prenatal and obstetric care. Infant and maternal mortality rates both fell dramatically as a result.

James Miller contacted Iranian doctors to find out if their program might be applied to Mississippi. So the Iranian doctors came to Mississippi to give advice. Although the idea of following an Iranian model was a hard sell in Mississippi, at least one community has begun work on an Iranian style “health house” to provide better care for pregnant women abandoned by Mississippi’s health care system.

Dr Aaron Shirley, who worked with James Miller on the Iranian project, admitted they were staying under the radar. Mississippi government officials, including Governor Haley Barbour, were not involved or informed.

This takes us back to the issue identified in the earlier post — Mississippi has the worst health care in the nation, but as far as Gov. Barbour is concerned, this is not a problem. The governor is perfectly clear, on his website and in public pronouncements, that Mississippi fixed its health care problems by passing a comprehensive tort reform bill in 2004. The 2004 law affected all kinds of personal injury lawsuits in Mississippi.

In the U.S., state after state has passed “tort reform” laws that make it harder for citizens to file personal injury suits and also limit the amount of damages they can receive. This is a critical issue for people with asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma cancer, who so often need damage awards to care for themselves and their families. “Tort reform” also is being pushed by conservatives nationwide as the way to fix the nation’s health care crisis.

But Mississippi reformed tort in 2004, and it still has the worst health care in the nation. What did Governor Barbour “fix,” exactly?

-Barbara O’Brien

Bluesday Music Blogging

One of my favorite Canadian imports, along with hockey, beer and donuts.

Two Toons for Tuesday

Kevin Siers

Lee Judge

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She can still pick a loser out of the pack.

Condi Rice shows that she hasn't lost her touch when it comes to making the wrong choice. She has come out for Carly Fiorina. Really, no one could have predicted this.

Not your fathers Republican Party

Or as Bob Herbert explains,
For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness. All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country. The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy. As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich.

This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.
The Republican Party is riding on its reputation from the past and its big lies in the present to destroy your future for their benefit.

For use in a hot war

The Indian military has a new weapon against terrorism: the world's hottest chili.

After conducting tests, the military has decided to use the thumb-sized "bhut jolokia," or "ghost chili," to make tear gas-like hand grenades to immobilize suspects, defense officials said Tuesday.

The bhut jolokia was accepted by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world's spiciest chili. It is grown and eaten in India's northeast for its taste, as a cure for stomach troubles and a way to fight the crippling summer heat.

It has more than 1,000,000 Scoville units, the scientific measurement of a chili's spiciness. Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units, while jalapeno peppers measure anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000.

"The chili grenade has been found fit for use after trials in Indian defense laboratories, a fact confirmed by scientists at the Defense Research and Development Organization," Col. R. Kalia, a defense spokesman in the northeastern state of Assam, told The Associated Press.

"This is definitely going to be an effective nontoxic weapon because its pungent smell can choke terrorists and force them out of their hide-outs,
Bring your own chicken wings.

Indictments for Blackwater soon?

That certainly would be an encouraging development. It seems that the poor dears down at corporate central couldn't stay within the law, after all they were important during the Bushovik/Cheney reign.
Federal prosecutors are considering filing weapons charges against former top officials of the Blackwater Worldwide private security company over allegations they illegally stockpiled automatic rifles at the company's North Carolina headquarters, The Associated Press has learned.

Senior Justice Department officials are reviewing a draft indictment against former president Gary Jackson, former Blackwater lawyer Andrew Howell, and a third man who used to work at the firm's armory, people close to the case told the AP. A decision is not expected until at least next month.

Any indictment, even of former executives, would be unwelcome news at a company beleaguered since a 2007 shooting involving Blackwater guards in Baghdad left 17 people dead. Under a new name, Xe, the firm is trying to win Defense Department approval to train police in Afghanistan. The contract could be worth up to $1 billion but has drawn the ire of some in Congress.
Time to remove the mercenaries from all government contracting until this matter is cleared up.

An inspiration to quitters everywhere

Rep. Alan Grayson D-Stones, speaking seriously on HR 4789 and dismissing Caribou Barbie.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The humble Onion is important in a healthy diet

Stouffers To Include Suicide Prevention Tips On Single Serve Microwavable Meals

Your Two Minute Ed

Tonight Ed does a victory lap around the Waterloo battleground with David Frum.

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