Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I was collecting river rock after the recent floods for a backyard landscaping project today and I made a startling discovery. While moving some of the larger stones, I came across one that I was able to lift quite easily despite it's appearance. It felt like it was hollow, so I shook it. Just as I could sense something was shifting around inside, it slipped free of my grasp and the top of the stone hinged open and spilled its contents on the ground.

A spy rock! Awesome!

Inside were two of the elusive and much sought after Bush and Abramoff photos and a hand written note that says "Time Warner - you'll get the other photos after you grant me free lifetime cable television. - KR"

My lawyer is clearing the other photo right now, but here is the first one:

I should have the other photo up shortly...

Update: Second photo cleared. Incredible disregard for the law and all things holy:

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Oh... The Extreme Irony

I've been admiring the good work done by the citizens of the blogosphere, as well as those who are just simply concerned by the propogation of the misinformation by Deborah Howell, The Washington Post's Ombudsman. I just can't wipe the smirk off my face that the very person who is supposed to facilitate and mediate complaints leveled against the WaPo has been the cause of such a tidal wave of complaints.

Then, to compound the issue by censoring and shutting down the commenting feature on your blog rather than issuing a simple correction and apology.

That course of logic baffles me. It's tantamount to inviting the running of the bulls to be held in your china shop.

Furthermore... I have yet to see anyone point out the WaPo's "Post Principles" laid out by their founder Eugene Meyer in 1935:

Eugene Meyer's Principles for The Washington Post

Eugene Meyer had a vision of what makes a newspaper truly great, and that vision included serving the public according to seven principles. He offered them in a speech on March 5, 1935 and published them on his newspaper's front page.

Bullet Point The first mission of a newspaper is to tell the truth as nearly as the truth can be ascertained.
Eugene Meyer
Eugene Meyer
Bullet Point The newspaper shall tell ALL the truth so far as it can learn it, concerning the important affairs of America and the world.
Bullet Point As a disseminator of news, the paper shall observe the decencies that are obligatory upon a private gentleman.
Bullet Point What it prints shall be fit reading for the young as well as the old.
Bullet Point The newspaper's duty is to its readers and to the public at large, and not to the private interests of its owners.
Bullet Point In the pursuit of truth, the newspaper shall be prepared to make sacrifices of its material fortunes, if such a course be necessary for the public good.
Bullet Point The newspaper shall not be the ally of any special interest, but shall be fair and free and wholesome in its outlook on public affairs and public men.

Monk vs Alito: Adventures In Getting A New Job

The main reason for my absence over the past month or so has been a search for employment. I'd been enjoying some time off, blogging, taking little consulting jobs here and there, day trading and traveling around to see live music. But mostly, as evidenced here, blogging. I really enjoyed it, but the tax man cameth and showed me that I couldn't really absorb such a blow and that I better wade back into the comfort pool.

So, I sharpened up my resume and ran it up the pole. I have an extensive background in trading technology (stocks, options, etc;). I received several good offers from large firms and interviewed accordingly. Then came interest from an international firm that I'd always had a professional crush on. So I interviewed, phone interviewed, waited, made the final three and interviewed again and then finally I had a panel interview. I was then told that I was their top choice and I started the background check process. This is not out of the ordinary, NASD and the SEC requires such actions, not to mention that any firm worth working for will have this policy as well. I wasn't worried. I've been through no less than 5 background checks in the past.

This one was different. A lot of the paper exchanges took place during the holidays and I wasn't always at home so I was working off of memory to a degree. Not a problem, I thought, because I posess a photographic memory.

Well, the check came back with several discrepancies. The background check company claimed that I was off by 2 months on one of my previous stints at a derivatives trading firm. Took a bit to straighten that out, but we cleaned up the misunderstanding. It also came back that I was off by 6 months on my term of employment at another firm. This one was my mistake because I had contracted for them for 6 months before they bought out my contract and converted me to in house. So where I had put down that I had worked for them for 2 years, technically, I had only worked for them for 1 1/2 years. Even though I had been essentially working for the same firm, in the same capacity, the entire time. I didn't even switch desks when I was brought in house.

Here's my point: Those 2 discrepancies almost cost me this position.

Here's my question: With the above in mind, how is it that Alito is going to skate by with such glaring problems with his professional career?

What issues?
  1. 1985 job application: Alito was 35 when he applied for an important political position with Attorney General Ed Meese during the Reagan administration. Alito sought to demonstrate his "philosophical commitment" to Meese's legal outlook. He wrote that the 1964 Goldwater presidential campaign had been his original political inspiration, even though he was only 14 at the time. His views on the law, he said, were inspired by his "deep disagreement with Warren Court decisions." He strongly objected to "usurpation by the judiciary" of the powers of the president, and supported the "supremacy" of the elected branches over the judiciary. Not surprisingly, Alito got the job.

    The views expressed there raise serious concerns about his ability to interpret the Constitution with a fair and open mind. When this embarrassing document came to light, he faced a difficult decision on whether to defend his 1985 views or walk away from them. When I and others met him a short time later, he appeared to be renouncing them - "I was just a 35-year-old seeking a job," he told me. But now he's seeking another, far more important job. Is he saying that he did not really mean what he said then?

  2. Membership in "Concerned Alumni of Princeton." In 1972, the year Alito graduated from Princeton University, a group of wealthy alumni formed Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP) to resist the growing influx of female, African American, Hispanic and even disabled students who were changing the face of Princeton "as you knew it." The university's most famous alumnus of the day, basketball star and later U.S. senator Bill Bradley, was invited into CAP initially but quickly found it "impossible to remain a member" because of CAP's "right-wing" views. A special committee of alumni, which included future Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, accused CAP of presenting a "distorted and hostile" view of the university. Alito joined CAP about that time, despite its purposes and reputation, and remained a member through 1985, when he cited his CAP membership as another qualification to join the Meese inner circle.

    In 1987, when he was nominated to be U.S. attorney for New Jersey, and in 1990, when he was nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, he did not mention his CAP membership to the Senate Judiciary Committee or to then-Sen. Bradley, who introduced him to the committee at the nomination hearing and endorsed him "100 percent." Bradley says today that had he known about Alito's long membership in CAP he would have had serious questions about it. Alito now says he can't remember anything at all about CAP.

  3. Failure to recuse himself in the Vanguard case: In 1990, during the confirmation process on his nomination to the 3rd Circuit, Alito disclosed that his largest investment was in Vanguard mutual funds. To avoid possible conflicts of interest, he promised us that he would recuse himself from any case involving "the Vanguard companies." Vanguard continues to be on his recusal list, and his investments in Vanguard funds have risen from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands. Nevertheless, in 2002 he failed to recuse himself when assigned to sit on a case in which three Vanguard companies were named parties and listed prominently on every brief and on his own pro-Vanguard opinion in the case. In this case, he and the White House have floated many excuses, but none provided any sensible explanation for his failure to keep his promise or follow his "personal practice" of recusing himself whenever there was any possible ethical question about his participation in a case.

  4. His pledge to be absolutely impartial where the government is concerned: While chairing his confirmation hearings in 1990, I asked Alito how he could remain neutral in the cases that would come before him as a 3rd Circuit judge after his more than a dozen years of service representing the U.S. government. He stated that he would be "absolutely impartial" in all his cases. But in case after case involving the actions of U.S. marshals, IRS agents and other government officials, he has sided with the government and against the citizens, even when his fellow judges have told him he was off-base.

  5. His promise to leave his personal beliefs behind when he became a judge: That's what he told me in 1990 he would do. But has he? In November 2000, at one of many Federalist Society meetings he spoke at, he indicated that he was a true believer when it came to the society's longstanding theory of an all-powerful executive. His endorsement of presidential power and his criticism of the Supreme Court for undermining it made clear that his philosophical commitment in 1985 still drives him. (Courtesy:
Now, let's be clear... I'm not equating my position with that of a Supreme Court Justice candidate. But... I am more than concerned that, pound for pound, I had to jump through considerable hoops over seemingly small issues in my qualifications in order to get this job. I faced them straight on, concisely and with clarity. I was required to back them up with documentation.

Watching Alito's confirmation hearings, I got the impression that he was getting the velvet rope lifted for him. This position is way too important.

He should not get through. Not because of the fact that he is the Democratic Party's worst nightmare, but because he has shown too much wavering and anti-constitutional rhetoric to be given this esteemed position.

This is not a game.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Constitution Deserves Better Than George

And by Constitution, I mean us... The citizens of the United States. We deserve better than a empirical doufous who views the Constitution as an obstacle rather than a legal document by which this country is governed and rights are guaranteed.

To tear down this document that is at the epicenter of what makes our democracy special amongst world governments. With one stroke Bush has undermined one of the most important components of the constitution, a right to privacy.

Too many people have tossed in the towel on Bush's abuse of power on this issue. They line up behind him and his asinine excuse that it is necessary in this time of war. Bush has said that this war will continue as long as Al Qaeda exists anywhere in the world. By all accounts and by the very nature of Al Qaeda's structure, that will be a very long time. So, what's next? Which of the amendments to the constitution will be next to fall?

Because when another attack comes, their excuse will be that they need even more war powers.

It is true that the 9/11 terrorists took advantages of our freedoms to attack us. The solution so far has been to throw technology at the problem. Our enemies know they can't fight on that level so they are employing non-technical, guerilla tactics to attack us. I feel our current approach will not only swell the ranks of Al Qaeda and other splinter groups, but it will not stop another attack.

Cheney says that it is not luck that we have not been attacked in the last 4 years. He implies that it is because of their actions. This ignores the findings and failing grades that the 9/11 commission recently gave the Bush Administration and their belief that we are still vulnerable to attack.

They have often mocked Clinton for not being more proactive on combating domestic terrorism while he was in office. Yet they ignore the fact that there was an 8 year gap between the first WTC bombing and 9/11 despite his 'ineffectiveness' on combating terrorism.

Instead of teeing off on the constitution, George should look within it for inspiration to lead and protect this nation.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

WalMart: Planet Of The Apes = MLK? and firedoglake both have interesting takes on the appalling discovery that offers up some disturbing 'Similar Items' for potential buyers of a Planet Of The Apes DVD.

Like John Amato, I can't see how any database automation would attach a similarity between the Planet Of The Apes DVD and DVD's on Dorothy Dandridge, Martin Luther King and a movie about Ike and Tina Tuner. This has to be an intentional association. Especially when you look at the other Planet Of The Apes DVD's that fail to associate the 'Similar Items' mentioned above.

It will be interesting to see how the company addresses and explains this issue.

It's About The Checks And Balances, Stupid

I can't say anything new here that hasn't already been said about how wrong Bush is on this warantless wiretapping issue, so I won't.

I will, however, comment on what should be done about it.

First, all warantless wiretaps need to stop immediately. The excuse that they need to do this to be able to 'act quickly' is moot given the 72 hour 'warantless' window that FISA allows. Bush should be able to operate within that parameter or propose a change in law. However, any proposed law needs to include a provision that allows oversight. Period. This is not a dictatorship.

Second, in an effort to mop up the previous lack of oversight, I propose a bipartisan panel of congress members with clearance (oh.. let's say... the members who were previously 'briefed' on the existence of this nefarious program?) who can review each and every one of the warantless wiretaps that Bush has signed off on. Upon review, if they are all deemed to be wiretaps on bonified terrorist suspects, then nothing is disclosed. If, upon review, any of the wiretaps are shown to involve detractors, political opponents or peaceful activists then that information will be revealed to the public in full.

Checks and Balances. Oversight. Without that, the terrorists have won.

New Invention Aims To Eliminate War On Christmas

The Inflatable Dartboard Research and Design division has been working overtime to avert the disaster that looms on the Christmas 2006 horizon.

This past shopping season, much of the Christian fundamentalist angst seemed to stem from insensitive retail clerks failing to greet customers, regardless of their faith, with an enthusiastic "Merry Christmas".

With this incredibly important problem in mind, we are proud to introduce the "Faith Scan". This ingenious device, once installed at the counters of every store in every red state, scans various patrons and identifies their faiths. When the clerk sees the shopper's chosen religion on the Faith IndicatorTM, they can respond to the shopper with the appropriate holiday greeting (if any).

A happy shopper = happy retailer profits. And happy retailer profits make baby Jesus happy.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Post Mortem: War On Christmas

It's kind of tough to do a post mortem on the War On Christmas considering that it was dead on arrival. But, what the hell, John Gibson,, Bill O'Reilly and a legion of insecure Christians seem to enjoy it. And since they seem to revel in conjuring up wedge issues and using them as diversionary tactics... let's join in the fun!

Amongst all this talk of war and Christmas, no one has mentioned the casualties:
  • 172 Elves (68 from the woodworking division alone)
  • 112 Reindeer (Prancer, Vixen both KIA in operational reindeer war games)
  • 4 Snowmen divisions wiped out when they were accidentally airdropped into Texas on a search and destroy mission
  • The last %2 of John Gibson and Bill O'Reilly's dignity
  • 28 Christians offended at various retailers
But perhaps the biggest casualty was me, when I passed out and hit the floor upon hearing the White House's response to the White House "Holiday Card" scandal:
"Their cards in recent years have included best wishes for a holiday season, rather than Christmas wishes, because they are sent to people of all faiths"
You know, it really is that simple.

Microphone Check

Check... Check... Is this thing on?

Trying to get things back online here.