Thu
Mar 22 2007
11:35 am

CNN is running an article this morning about a new freedom for Iraqis, tattoos. Under Saddam, having a tattoo was a crime punishable by death. It seems they were associated with The Great Satan.

A young Iraqi was interviewed as he was being tagged with the initial of his fiancé. The artist bragged that his work would last forever.

Uh, yeah, forever. Maybe just semi-forever.

The correspondent mentioned one popular reason for getting a tattoo in post-Saddam Iraq, it makes it easier for families to identify the victims of the car bombings.

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Thu
Mar 22 2007
11:23 am

Fire! Polite Applause
My Final Column for Knoxviews.com

By Don Williams

Barring a change of heart* on someone else's part, this is my last column for Knoxviews. Here's all I know about the reasons why. On Monday, Randy Neal left half-a-message on my answering machine telling me he was cutting me back...

Click here to continue reading...

Continued...

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70
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Wed
Mar 21 2007
10:24 pm
By: Les Jones  shortURL

This is one of my new favorite bourbons. It's right in the narrow price range between Wild Turkey 101 and Maker's Mark and I like it better than both.

Based on the Wikipedia entry, it doesn't look like Elijah Craig bourbon is really related to the Baptist preacher who invented bourbon, but it's nice of them to honor the good Reverend with such a fine whiskey.

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Wed
Mar 21 2007
09:21 pm

Sorry to keep hyping this show, but I hope everyone who likes Good TV caught Friday Night Lights tonight. As far as I'm concerned, this is the Best TV on TV this season. It probably won't survive past this season, though, because it's Good TV. Enjoy it while you can. (P.S. It's not about football, really.)

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Wed
Mar 21 2007
05:50 pm

Just heard a U.S. commander being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer about a disturbing report from Iraq that suicide car bombers are using children as cover to get through checkpoints and then blowing up the cars with the children inside.

Apparently this is good news. Rear Adm. Mark Fox says this is proof that the surge is working, because the stepped up security at checkpoints in Baghdad is causing the insurgents to change their tactics.

Dear God, please help us all.

UPDATE: From the transcript:

BLITZER: What we've heard is that a couple of kids are in the back seat, the suicide bombers, they pull up. They then escape themselves, pull some trigger, some remote device, blow up the car, killing the kids. And from their perspective, killing other people nearby.

Is that what they are trying to do?

FOX: Well, it seems to me that what happened was, it was at a checkpoint -- you know, the effectiveness of the new checkpoints that the Iraqi security forces are using, I think this is evidence of that kind of working. They are changing the profile.

Typically you would expect a single person, a single male to be in a car that's going to -- you know, a car bomb. And so to put children in there is going to change their kind of profile.

But -- so it's a change in tactics.

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It's sad that President Bush is attempting to roadblock a congressional investigation by trying to prevent open testimony. If he has nothing to hide, why not let his staff testify under oath? Seems like he's afraid of the truth. I think Bush is realizing that with two years to go, his "popular and effective" presidency, according to CBT, may be over. It's starting to sound more and more Nixonian in its desperation.

How sad.

via Salon

Tony Snow - Op-Ed - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1998 :

(HEADLINE: "Executive Privilege is a Dodge")

Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time.

One gets the impression that Team Clinton values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public's faith in Mr. Clinton will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold -- the rule of law.

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Wed
Mar 21 2007
11:45 am

This is a Lockheed C-130E Hercules intratheater airlifter. It's 97' 9" from nose to tail. Just so ya know.

(Here's how this lovely bit of legislation came about.)

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Wed
Mar 21 2007
09:31 am

Apropos of the latest scandal, here's an interesting report from the Congressional Research Service on Congressional Investigations: Subpoenas and Contempt Power. It has analysis of the law and lots of historical case studies.

Here's their conclusion:

Committee subpoenas and contempt citations have been effective instruments for gaining access to executive branch documents that are initially withheld. The pressure that builds from these two techniques generally results in the Administration offering new accommodations to satisfy legislative needs. Although both branches at times seek assistance from the courts, the general message from federal judges is that an agreement hammered out between the two branches is better than a directive handed down by a court.

The executive-legislative conflicts described in this report offer several lessons about access to information. Congress has as much right to agency documents for oversight purposes as it does for legislation. Executive claims of “deliberative process,” “enforcement sensitive,” “ongoing investigation,” or “foreign policy considerations” have not been, in themselves, adequate grounds for keeping documents from Congress. On the issue of withholding information from Congress, there are often sharp differences within an Administration, especially between the Justice Department and the agencies.

Further, these case studies show that statutory language that authorizes withholding information from the public is not a legitimate reason for withholding information from Congress. Sharing sensitive information with congressional committees is not the same as sharing information with the public. Courts assume that congressional committees will exercise their powers responsibly. Legislative committees have demonstrated that they have reliable procedures for protecting confidentiality. Finally, congressional capacity to subpoena agency documents from private organizations is not an adequate substitute for receiving them directly from the agency.

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Gore's numbers continue to rise, while many other candidates are sliding off the map. Meanwhile the "Draft Gore in 2008" campaign is turning red hot.

Gore does seem like a proven winner, a man with ethics, and a politician who is not afraid to expose corruption and ignorance in Washington. Hillary and Obama would be political firsts, and that has excited many voters, but both have obstacles to overcome. Hillary is an insider with plenty of past history. Obama has too little history.

Gore's proven abilities and his newly found comfortability with himself might be the spoiler here.

What do you think? Should he run?

Polling Data

Support for potential 2008 Democratic presidential nominees, among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote. From a Gallup poll conducted from Mar. 2 to Mar. 4, 2007.

Mar. 2007 Feb. 2007 Jan. 2007
Hillary Rodham Clinton 36% 40% 29%
Barack Obama 22% 21% 18%
Al Gore 18% 14% 11%
John Edwards 9% 13% 13%
Joe Biden 3% 1% 5%
Wesley Clark 2% 1% 2%
Bill Richardson 1% 4% 3%
Mike Gravel 1% -- --
Chris Dodd -- 1% 1%
Al Sharpton -- -- 1%
John Kerry n.a. n.a. 8%
Other 1% -- 2%
None 3% 1% 2%
No opinion 4% 3% 4%


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Tue
Mar 20 2007
06:07 pm

He isn't firing Gonzales. Says neither he nor AG Gonzales are happy with they way it was handled or the confusion it has created. (Pushing blame down the chain of command, of course. Paging Lynndie England!)

He says Gonzales and key staff will be "allowed" to testify before Congress, and that he is giving "unprecedented" access to White House staff to explain how this US Attorney situation was handled. (Access that will not involve testifying under oath so they can continue lying as usual.)

Actually, I was surprised to not see Gonzales walk out with Bush to announce his resignation. I suppose they just don't care any more. They already got reelected, but they've since lost the House, Karl Rove has lost his radical Christian-right base, and now they're just running out the clock in hopes that someone will come along to clean up their messes and create some sort of Bush "legacy" out of thin air that is somehow less embarrassing than world-wide disaster on a Biblical scale.

Gonzales should never have been confirmed in the first place by either side in the Somnambulate Senate because of a) the so-called "torture memo", and b) his apparent lack of familiarity with the Constitution, enhanced Patriot Act notwithstanding (or maybe that's Exhibit A, take your pick).

On the other hand, this latest scandal is among the least of the Bush administration's transgressions.

Hopefully Congress will soon grow a spine and call them to account for all of it. Or at least try. But filibuster and veto are tough rows to hoe. At this point, Democrats may have to settle for "we tried."

But maybe it's time for them to step up the "trying" part, and issues boxes and boxes full of subpoenas. The upside might be that the White House and their key staff and lawyers will get so tied up they'll be prevented from doing any more damage. Hmm, why does that sound familiar?

OK, then.

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Tue
Mar 20 2007
11:28 am
By: rocketsquirrel  shortURL

Commenter CBT claims that with Dems in Congress comes "investigations and politically motivated attacks like the AG firings."

Unfortunately, it's about the documents, not the Democrats.

These were politically motivated firings.

On Nov. 5, a month before she was formally notified along with others that she was being fired, Chiara e-mailed McNulty about her fears of being out of work with no job prospects.

"While I live in hope that this dire prediction is untrue, I am contacting you because I need assistance to remain in federal service with a comparable compensation or, quite frankly, I will lose everything I have been working toward for the past five years," she told McNulty. "I trust that I can count on you to intervene or provide an alternative."

Two days letter, on the morning of the midterm election, she again turned to McNulty.

"Paul," she said in an e-mail. "As soon as the 'election dust settles' I ask that you tell me why my resignation may be requested. Since you have not taken exception to the [eventuality], I now assume that it is likely. I need to know the truth to live in peace with the aftermath."

BONUS COVERAGE: La Times hears that Fred Thompson, Fred Thompson, Fred Thompson is being considered for AG, along with John Danforth. Won't ace business reporter and political blogger Michael Silence be thrilled?

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Tue
Mar 20 2007
10:54 am

If last Sunday's opinion column by News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy, on the need for a County government Ombudsman, was not enough hypocrisy, then how about today's unsigned Editorial in the Knoxville News Sentinel advocating the loss of Constitution Rights for Knox County employees?

The all knowing oracle of what is right and just, the News Sentinel, has now decided what rights Knox County employees should be allowed to have. In a stunning act of again carrying the County Mayor's water the daily paper has endorsed the breathtakingly unconstitutional Maury County bill in the General Assembly that forbids Knox County employees from being allowed to hold elected office.

What are the implications? Adios to Knox County schoolteacher and County Commissioner Tony Norman. Likewise Commissioners Craig Leuthold, Sharon Cawood, Chuck Bolus, and of course Lee Tramel. If they could only hire Lumpy Lambert for a part time County job they could get rid of him too. In the U.S.S.R. purges were a common occurrence. They are rare in America.

In a demeaning unsigned Editorial, the Sentinel’s Editorial staff writes, “Commissioners have family members who work for county government, calling into question their objectivity on various measures, including finances.

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale said the topic should be taken up by the nine-member Ethics Committee just appointed by the Knox County Commission. We agree.

We all deserve representatives who have the best interests of their constituents foremost in their minds, rather than thinking first about how they can help a family member or themselves. It should be about service, not one's own interest.”

One must wonder at this time what the keen interest the News Sentinel has in redoing the Knox County Commission. Curious how the News Sentinel calls into question the objectivity of County Commissioners, isn’t it? One might question the objectivity of the daily Knoxville paper. Today’s Editorial wins this weeks Pot and Kettle Award.

49
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Tue
Mar 20 2007
09:01 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

Having hundreds of donuts left over from the anti-war protest on Saturday (which 200+ people attended, contrary to what was reported in the KNS), I decided to drive them down on Sunday morning to the SmartFix site to distribute among the homeless, if I could find any outdoors at 8 am in 20 degree weather.

No problem, there were dozens already on the street, including women and children. Now that's Moving Knoxville Forward.

They appreciated the donuts ..

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Tue
Mar 20 2007
08:30 am

I grew during the Anti-War 60's and 70's. I never understood why people who advocated peace got beat up and people who advocated war, didn't. Doesn't that contradict the christian nation thing? Isn't that backwards?

Did we learn anything in the meantime?

So what happens nowadays in, say, a Saint Patrick's day parade when a group of law abiding people pay their fees, obtain their permits, and march peacefully in the parade, just like the political candidates and the Knights of Columbus?

They get beat up, tasered, dragged across the pavement, arrested, and sent to the hospital.

Peace

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Tue
Mar 20 2007
07:34 am

According to a Daily Times story today, the Blount County Budget Committee is considering dropping or lowering its charitable contributions. Here is an exerpt:

Faced with nearly $247,000 in requests for giving in the 2007-2008 fiscal year, the Blount County Budget Committee on Monday discussed the possibility of reducing contributions to charitable organizations.

County Mayor Jerry Cunningham told commissioners he has reservations about taxpayer money being given to charitable organizations.

"It troubles me," he said. "I do care. (My wife) Janice and I do give, we always have, but it forces some people to double-give. You give at home and then the government says you have to give through your tax dollars, too."

I know most of the thoughts on this site about Mayor Cunningham, but with that put aside, what do you think about this?

I think I tend to agree with him and the other members in this article, especially when there seems to be a "budget crunch." I think this is just one of a number of things that will hopefully be discovered as the budget is reviewed. At least they will be brought to light. Thoughts?

46
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Mon
Mar 19 2007
10:30 pm

So I'm bored this evening. The spouse is out of town and sparring with #9 is beginning to pall. So just for fun I hopped over to Brian's Blog.

My that's quite an ego the ex-chair has there. I particularly liked his option C: "They recognize the name Brian Hornback and know that by using the name over and over it will generate more traffic to their website."

Let's generate more traffic for R. Neal. Brian Hornback, Brian Hornback, Brian Hornback,....

And speaking of local celebs, this is just too damn funny.

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Mon
Mar 19 2007
02:03 pm

We're seeing hundreds of Google hits from people looking for info on the recent pet food recall brought to our attention by CL in an earlier post.

Here are links to the manufacturer's website and lists of the brands involved:

Cat food

Dog food

An overview of the manufacturer's links to more info can be found here.

For the Iams/Eukanuba brands affected, the manufacturer refers you to their respective websites.

The Iams website appears to be down at the moment, but here's the Eukanuba notice. The recall affects only canned and foil pouch "wet" pet foods. Dry foods are not affected, according to Eukanuba.

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Mon
Mar 19 2007
01:11 pm

Iraq's oil was supposed to pay for the war, remember? And help reconstruct the country after the war? I remember Cheney being so smug about this. He kept dismissing any concern that our tax money would be used for these two purposes. Well, the new Iraq Oil Law is making it clear the slogan "No Blood for Oil" wasn't just a hound dog baying at the moon.

Today Andy Rowell wrote on the OilChange International site.

"Four years ago this week, American tanks headed into Baghdad. At the time critics of the war said it was about oil. But those voices were dismissed. Then came Iraq’s Oil Law which essentially hands control of much of its oil wealth to foreign multinationals.

Opposition to the controversial law continues to grow. Former Iraqi oil industry officials, experts and lawmakers have just gathered in Jordan to debate the bill, expressing grave concerns over the Law.

“There are many question marks hanging over this draft law,” said Dhia al-Bakaa, former president of the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO). Why the timing? Why the hurry when we still lack political, economic and security stability.”

Read more...
(link...)

Then be sure & check out this very funny Bush & Condi music video about oil addiction.

(link...)

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47
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Mon
Mar 19 2007
12:38 pm

Apparently there's a growing llama liability situation in Tennessee, and State Sen. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) aims to fix it.

SB2097 (PDF format) would absolve "llama professionals" and "llama activity sponsors" from any liability arising from the "inherent risks of llama activities" to llama activity participants, including "riding, driving, inspecting, or evaluating a llama belonging to another" or "trimming the nails of a llama."

No, seriously. I'm not making this up.

Speaking of llamas, here's a cool story about the annual Mt. LeConte supplies airlift, which is supplemented throughout the season with perishables delivered by... llama!

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