Archive for April, 2007

They’re Baaaaaack….

Posted: April 30, 2007 in Music

Photo courtesy The Desert Sun

Rage Against the Machine’s first show in seven years, and by all accounts they did not disappoint the hordes at Coachella. They have a few more shows scheduled right now throughout the summer, but nothing yet indicating a full-fledged reunion with an album and/or tour to follow. Who knows, maybe they all still hate each other? I wouldn’t get my hopes up for anything from these guys until some official announcement is made. As long as they don’t become the rap metal version of The Who, reuniting every few years for another nostalgia or farewell tour, I have no problem with it.


Sad Kermit

Posted: April 30, 2007 in Humor, Music

This is funny for all the wrong reasons – Kermit the Frog covering Nine Inch Nails.

More covers (audio only) including Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, and Nine Inch Nails available here.

About 18 minutes into tonight’s debate of the Democratic presidential candidates on MSNBC, Barack Obama said “In terms of how we’ve been running this campaign, I think what we’ve seen is I haven’t taken money from federal registered lobbyists. We’re not taking money from PACs.”

A review of his campaign finance numbers for the first quarter of 2007 compiled by the Washington Post shows that he has received $3,050 in PAC money.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: The FEC lists the same set of contributions as “Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees”

A review of this section shows 5 separate contributions. Four of them are from congressional campaigns. The other is from Locke Liddell and Sapp LLP PAC, dated Feb. 21, 2007 and worth $1000.00. An image of the form for this contribution can be viewed here.

Look who’s about to go on book tour

(CBS) Ex-CIA Director George Tenet says the way the Bush administration has used his now famous “slam dunk” comment — which he admits saying in reference to making the public case for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — is both disingenuous and dishonorable.

It also ruined his reputation and his career, he tells 60 Minutes Scott Pelley in his first network television interview. Pelley’s report will be broadcast Sunday, April 29, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

The phrase “slam dunk” didn’t refer to whether Saddam Hussein actually had WMDs, says Tenet; the CIA thought he did. He says he was talking about what information could be used to make that case when he uttered those words. “We can put a better case together for a public case. That’s what I meant,” explains Tenet.

It will be interesting to watch the verbal hand grenades being tossed back and forth between Tenet, the White House and the GOP.

Father of the Year

Posted: April 21, 2007 in Pop Culture

Alec Baldwin.

From today’s Washington Post:

White House Looked Past Alarms on Kerik
Giuliani, Gonzales Pushed DHS Bid Forward

By John Solomon and Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, April 8, 2007; A01

When former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani urged President Bush to make Bernard B. Kerik the next secretary of homeland security, White House aides knew Kerik as the take-charge top cop from Sept. 11, 2001. But it did not take them long to compile an extensive dossier of damaging information about the would-be Cabinet officer.

They learned about questionable financial deals, an ethics violation, allegations of mismanagement and a top deputy prosecuted for corruption. Most disturbing, according to people close to the process, was Kerik’s friendship with a businessman who was linked to organized crime. The businessman had told federal authorities that Kerik received gifts, including $165,000 in apartment renovations, from a New Jersey family with alleged Mafia ties.

Alarmed about the raft of allegations, several White House aides tried to raise red flags. But the normal investigation process was short-circuited, the sources said. Bush’s top lawyer, Alberto R. Gonzales, took charge of the vetting, repeatedly grilling Kerik about the issues that had been raised. In the end, despite the concerns, the White House moved forward with his nomination — only to have it collapse a week later.

The selection of Kerik in December 2004 for one of the most sensitive posts in government became an acute but brief embarrassment for Bush at the start of his second term. More than two years later, it has reemerged as part of a federal criminal investigation of Kerik that raises questions about the decisions made by the president, the Republican front-runner to replace him and the embattled attorney general.

The Washington Post just handed the Republican presidential candidates and the Senate Judiciary Committee a whole new case of ammunition to start firing away at Giuliani on the campaign trail and at Attorney General Alberto Gonzales when he testifies on April 17.

Pandering 101

Posted: April 6, 2007 in 2008 Elections, GOP Primaries

What is it about presidential candidates from Massachusetts trying to woo the hunting vote?

Is Romney a Hunter? Depends on What Hunt Is
Published: April 6, 2007

WASHINGTON, April 5 — In seeking their support for his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney has struggled over the last few months to reassure Republican conservatives that he is one of them.

When asked on Tuesday about his stance on guns, Mr. Romney, as he has more than once, portrayed himself as a sportsman, a “hunter pretty much all my life,” who strongly supported a right to bear arms.

He even trotted out some remembrances, recalling that in hunting with his cousins as a teenager, he struggled to kill rabbits with a single-shot .22-caliber rifle. When they lent him a semiautomatic, it got a lot easier, he said, drawing laughs from an appreciative crowd in Keene, N.H. The last time he went hunting, he said, was last year, when he shot quail in Georgia and “knocked down quite a few birds.”

“So I’ve been pretty much hunting all my life,” he said again.

But on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that Mr. Romney had in fact been hunting only twice: once during that summer when he was 15 and spending time at a relative’s ranch in Idaho, and again on the occasion last year, a quail shoot at a fenced-in game preserve in Georgia with major donors to the Republican Governors Association.

On Thursday, with Mr. Romney facing reporters’ repeated questions about the A.P. account, his campaign was forced to address his hunting résumé. A campaign spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, said Mr. Romney had gone hunting repeatedly during his teenage summer at the ranch. Mr. Romney has also shot small game on his Utah property, said Mr. Fehrnstrom, who added that he did not know how often.

“Mitt Romney is not a big-game hunter,” he said, “but he knows how to handle a firearm.”

Remember these John Kerry photo-ops from the 2004 campaign?

Kerry’s Hunting Trip Targets Conservatives

Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
Updated: 4:00 p.m. PT Oct 21, 2004

BOARDMAN, Ohio – Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said he bagged a goose on his swing-state hunting trip Thursday, but his real target was the voters who may harbor doubts about him.

Kerry returned after a two-hour hunting trip wearing a camouflage jacket and carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, but someone else carried his bird.

“I’m too lazy,” Kerry joked. “I’m still giddy over the Red Sox. It was hard to focus.”

The Massachusetts senator was referring to Boston’s American League championship Wednesday night. He stayed up late cheering his hometown team onto victory, then got up for a 7 a.m. hunting trip at a supporter’s produce farm.

Kerry adviser Mike McCurry said it’s important in the final days of the campaign that voters “get a better sense of John Kerry, the guy.”

That means the Democratic senator is spending some of the dwindling time before Election Day hunting, talking about his faith and watching his beloved Red Sox.

It’s all part of an effort to win over swing voters who may be open to voting against President Bush but aren’t sure they feel any connection with Kerry.

Campaigning in Ohio, Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday criticized Kerry’s hunting excursion, saying, “The second amendment is more than just a photo opportunity.”

The National Rifle Association said it bought a full-page ad in Thursday’s Youngstown newspaper that says Kerry is posing as a sportsman while opposing gun-owners’ rights. Kerry has denied NRA claims that he wants to “take away” guns, but he supported the ban on assault-type weapons and requiring background checks at gun shows

“If John Kerry thinks the Second Amendment is about photo ops, he’s Daffy,” says the ad the NRA said would run in The Vindicator. It features a large photo of Kerry with his finger on a shotgun trigger but looking in another direction.

Meanwhile, labor unions have been circulating fliers among workers that say Kerry won’t take away guns. “He likes his own gun too much,” says one of the fliers from the Building Trades Department of the AFL-CIO that features a picture of Kerry aiming a shotgun.

Kerry’s aides said he spent about two hours hunting at a blind set up in a cornfield. More than two dozen journalists were invited to the farm outside of Youngstown to see Kerry emerge from the field, but none witnessed Kerry taking any shots.

Kerry was accompanied by Ohio Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland; Bob Bellino, a member of Ducks Unlimited; and Neal Brady, assistant park manager of Indian Lake State Park in western Ohio. Each of his companions carried a dead goose on the way back, while Kerry walked beside them with his 12-gauge in one hand and the other free to pet a yellow Labrador named Woody.

Kerry said each of the four men shot a goose.

The last time Kerry went hunting was October 2003 in Iowa, a state where he was trailing in the Democratic primary but came from behind to win.

Hunting is of particular interest in several of the states that are still up for grabs in the presidential race. Kerry bought his hunting license last Saturday in one of the most critical _ Ohio, which has 20 electoral votes.

Kerry bought the nonresident license and a special wetlands habitat stamp, which lets him hunt waterfowl.

Memo to any would-be candidate: don’t pretend to be something you’re not to try to appeal to a voter bloc if you can’t back it up. Both of these attempts to connect with hunters reek of insincerity and they can probably smell it coming from a mile away.

Believe in Nothing

Posted: April 5, 2007 in Media, Music, Pop Culture

“If you wanna hang out you’ve got to take her out…”

Some stories are just too good to be true.

Richards Denies Snorting His Dad’s Ashes
Keith Richards Denies Snorting His Father’s Ashes; Magazine Says It Wasn’t a Joke

LONDON Apr 4, 2007 (AP)— Off the cuff or up the nose? That was the question Wednesday as Keith Richards said he was joking when he described snorting his father’s ashes along with a hit of cocaine.

“It was an off-the-cuff remark, a joke, and it is not true. File under April Fool’s joke,” said Bernard Doherty, a Rolling Stones spokesman, about Richards’ quote in NME magazine.

But the magazine said on its Web site that the remark was “no quip, but came about after much thinking” by the 63-year-old guitarist.

In a statement posted on the Rolling Stones Web site, Richards said:

“The complete story is lost in the usual slanting! The truth of the matter is that I planted a sturdy English Oak. I took the lid off the box of ashes and he is now growing oak trees and would love me for it!!! I was trying to say how tight Bert and I were. That tight!!! I wouldn’t take cocaine at this point in my life unless I wished to commit suicide.”

The result? Keith Richards is now the subject of two of the greatest urban myths in the history of rock n roll. I think the other myth was a little more believable: that he checked into a clinic in Switzerland and had a complete blood transfusion to try to kick his heroin habit. Kudos to the New York Post as well for the best headline ever written.

You know those polls showing Rudy Giuliani as the current frontrunner in the GOP presidential field? His stock is about to take a dive.

See this teaser for an interview he did with CNN’s Dana Bash:

Giuliani stands by support of publicly-funded abortions

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told CNN Wednesday he supports public funding for some abortions, a position he advocated as mayor and one that will likely put the GOP presidential candidate at odds with social conservatives in his party.

“Ultimately, it’s a constitutional right, and therefore if it’s a constitutional right, ultimately, even if you do it on a state by state basis, you have to make sure people are protected,” Giuliani said in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash in Florida’s capital city.

When asked directly Wednesday if he still supported the use of public funding for abortions, Giuliani said “Yes.”

“If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right,” he explained, “If that’s the status of the law, yes.”

But the presidential candidate reiterated his personal opposition to the practice.

“I’m in the same position now that I was 12 years ago when I ran for mayor — which is, personally opposed to abortion, don’t like it, hate it, would advise that woman to have an adoption rather than abortion, hope to find the money for it,” he said. “But it is your choice, an individual right. You get to make that choice, and I don’t think society should be putting you in jail.”

Giuliani also vowed to appoint conservative judges to the bench, though denied such a promise was a “wink and a nod” to conservatives in support of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion.

“A strict constructionist judge can come to either conclusion about Roe against Wade,” he said. “They can look at it and say, ‘Wrongly decided thirty years ago, whatever it is, we’ll over turn it.’ [Or] they can look at it and say, ‘It has been the law for this period of time, therefore we are going to respect the precedent.’ Conservatives can come to that conclusion as well. I would leave it up to them. I would not have a litmus test on that.”

This interview, along with the YouTube clip of him as mayoral candidate from 1989 announcing his support of public funding for abortions for poor women, should provide all the ammunition in the world for a candidate like Sam Brownback. Every GOP ad maker and opposition researcher not involved with Giuliani’s campaign is going to go through the transcript with a fine tooth comb and use it for talking points, fundraising appeals, or negative ads.

I have no doubt he would make a formidable candidate in a general election, regardless of whoever the Democratic nominee is. But his problem is that his position on abortion rights and other social issues is often a polar opposite of social conservatives, the people in the Republican base who go out and volunteer or vote during primaries. There will always be arguments of ideology vs. pragmatism, but given the GOP’s rigid insistence on ideological purity regardless of potential electoral consequences [i.e. Club for Growth-funded challenges to Republican senators in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island in 2004 and 2006] Giuliani might be shot down by the Republican base even though he might be one of their best candidates for a national race.

Photo from Reuters.

In what was probably the worst-kept secret in Washington, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was semi-quietly setting up a campaign operation to run for president again in 2008.

The problem with McCain is that he has tried to be all things to all people for so long, and under a glaring national spotlight in an energized electorate, it’s all coming out into the open.

While in 2000, he ran on an image of being a maverick willing to buck his own party. Eight years later, he’s running as the establishment candidate, trying to create a sense of inevitability with a political machine featuring some of the biggest GOP operatives and elected officials signing on to support him.

About a week ago, The Hill came out with a front page bombshell that McCain had been thinking about switching over to the Democrats in spring of 2001, and had made overtures to then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and ex-Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.). After Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) defected and gave Democrats control of the Senate, discussions about possible defections with McCain and Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) ended.

Following on the Hill’s lead, MyDD posted its bombshell from an interview with Sen. John Kerry: that McCain’s people approached him about getting on the 2004 ticket as his running mate.

The McCain campaign has denied both stories, but the fact that they’re coming on the record from three Washington insiders in Democratic circles is not good for McCain. If it had been anonymous sources, McCain could be more dismissive, but given that two of his fellow senators are making the claims gives them a certain amount of gravitas, regardless of how accurate they may be or not.

While McCain may not be trusted by some elements of the Republican base, both of these stories could torpedo any hope he had of winning the nomination. Only in a hyper-accelerated campaign season on steroids such as this year is raising $12.5 million in the first quarter considered NOT good enough.

The news cycle has not been kind to Senator McCain. Between his back-and-forth with the media at large and CNN’s Michael Ware over the coverage of the war in Iraq, followed by his visit/photo-op at a Baghdad market, the last thing he needed were two articles that raised questions about his commitment to his party. If the allegations are accurate, the implications – that he was a crass, calculating politician willing to say or do anything for his own benefit – would be devastating to his presidential ambitions.

It’s still early – things could change and I could be proven wrong – but I have a feeling that McCain is not going to be as competitive or significant a force in the campaign this year as he was in 2000. His time has come and gone, and he will not be the next president.