Friday, September 30, 2005


Leo Sternbach got a dollar for the patent, and $100,000 more -- 10 grand a year for a decade. In 1978, Valium accounted for $600 million in sales.

Sternbach was 97. He died Wednesday at home in Chapel Hill, N.C. From The Washington Post:
Mr. Sternbach became a celebrated figure in research science for his creation of a group of chemicals that soothed anxious, irritated and agitated executives and housewives. Valium topped the list of most-common pharmaceuticals from 1969 to 1982, with nearly 2.3 billion pills passing into consumers' hands during its peak sales year of 1978 ... His other major breakthroughs include the sleeping pills Dalmane and Mogadon, Klonopin for epileptic seizures and Arfonad for limiting bleeding during brain surgery. He held more than 240 patents.
Sternbach said he never took Valium. It bummed him out.


CHATTER's local congressman, the newly minted House majority leader, held a conference call with Missouri reports on Friday, and during that session Blunt feigned confusion about the maze of rules and laws governing the financing of campaigns. We've got lawyers to handle that complicated stuff, Blunt said (it's a rough but accurate paraphrase). Especially tricky, he added, were the rules about federal campaign funds going to state candidates.

And then Blunt used a personal example.

Just the other day, he said he donated money from "both" of his funds to Asa Hutchinson, the former Clinton prosecutor turned Homeland Security second banana. Hutchinson is now running for governor of Arkansas, and Blunt wants to support his Ozarks brother the best way he can -- with money.

"Both" of his funds ... but then Blunt quickly corrected himself. He had contributed to Hutchinson's campaign from his campaign warchest. But he could only recommend that his PAC -- Rely On Your Beliefs (ROYB) -- also contribute to Hutchinson. 'Cause of course Roy Dean Blunt doesn't have any control over his political action committee, especially one that's supposed to support federal candidates, not people running for state office in Arkansas. That would be against the rules. This explains his confusion.

Because Blunt is confused, we're here to help. Here's some Roy by the numbers:

•Roy Blunt -- the man, the congressman, the Leader, the perennial candidate -- has taken $764,693 in contributions for the 2005-06 cycle. So far. The season is young, and we know he's good for more, because he spent more than $3.5 million in the last cycle.

•But that's the man, not the PAC. ROYB has taken in $685,743 in the 2005-06 season. Sure, the PAC has already spent more than a half-mil, but it had a pad of $327k in the pre-season. It's still all good: $461,540 in the bank. Ka-CHING!

•A lot of corporations love ROYB. Some may also love RoyB, the man, but we're only certain that this is the case when it comes to Abby Perlman Blunt, the lobbyist/lover (much like a model/actress, but with much more juice).

•Roy Blunt is a dancing machine.


It happened in Rome, where the campaign for Sony's PlayStation included a dude with a crown of thorns -- and the slogan "Ten years of passion."

Reuters says:
Some Catholics were outraged by the adverts, which ran in newspapers and magazines to celebrate the product's tenth anniversary.

"This time they've gone too far," said Antonio Sciortino, editor of Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family), a mass-circulation Catholic weekly.

"If this had concerned Islam there would have been a really strong reaction," Sciortino was quoted as saying in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Speaking of Islam and ads, Boeing Co. and Bell Helicopter have apologized for greenlighting a print piece with a drawing that showed the V-22 Osprey aircraft deploying special forces onto a mosque.

Sony apologized for its Jesus ad, too. In a statement the company's Entertainment Italia division said the "spirit of the message was misunderstood." The company then hired Mel Gibson to lens a commercial with Jesus being beaten to a bloody pulp for playing too much PlayStation.


This, according to the New York Daily News. The paper says the ABC anchor's will left:
... the bulk of his estate in trust for his two children, Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23, from his marriage to writer Kati Marton, according to the will, filed Wednesday in Manhattan Surrogate's Court.

He left his Central Park West apartment to his widow, Kayce Freed, whom he wed in 1997, as well as a portion of his estate, as laid out in a prenuptial agreement the couple signed before their wedding.

Jennings, who died last month after battling lung cancer, reportedly earned as much as $10 million a year during part of his tenure at ABC. His will lists $50 million in personal property and $3.5 million in real property in New York.

In addition to his upper West Side apartment, Jennings owned a house in Bridgehampton, L.I., and property in his native Canada. Most of the rest of the estate is in stock, cash and retirement funds - though Jennings also owned two horses, Cabin Fever and Channel's Gate.

The urbane journalist, a high school dropout, also left instructions that his personal charity, the Peter Jennings Foundation, be funded so that its assets equal $1 million. The foundation was founded in 1998 by Jennings to donate money to organizations fighting homelessness, drug addiction, illiteracy and hunger.
Evidence that reading is fundamental, and potentially lucrative.


There's an anti-government crowd in every city. Down here the anti bunch calls it "gub'mint," but the sentiment's still the same: damn that damned City Hall.

So there are those in Springfield who don't like Tom Finnie, the city manager who on Friday announced his retirement. Some liberals thought he cozied too close to Kingfish John Q. Hammons and other developers. Some conservatives thought he spent too much time and money on pretty things, like Jordan Valley Park. Some cops thought he screwed them on accumulated overtime. Some kooks thought he was trying to control their thoughts via remote control (OK, only one kook we recall, but she shielded the walls of her home with aluminum foil and everything turned out peachy).

We remember when Finnie got here in 1990, replacing Don Busch. Back then, Busch was viewed by many as damaged goods, and definitely not the guy to lead Springfield into the future. Today Busch is a respected figure in Springfield's private sector.

Finnie blew into town with a wind of refreshment. No desk to sit behind. Lots of action and plans. A Vision 20/20 long-range plan that sketched out Civic Park, now known as Jordan Valley Park. A big focus on downtown revitalization.

Now some say it's good that he's going because he's been there too long.

Over the years we've interviewed Finnie several times and always had the same take-away sense of innovation. As a come-here from Charlotte, he viewed Springfield as something bigger than most locals thought it could be. He was willing to reach. We didn't always agree with the way he would reach, but we always appreciated his willingness to do so.

Mayor Tom Carlson plans to recommend that Deputy City Manager Bob Cumley, 62, become the next city manager. All good and well, but we wonder if Cumley has the same sense of innovation. He served under Busch and Finnie; now he'll likely become the top dog next April.

Smart city leaders will praise Cumley -- and then look past him to the next hire. Springfield will need another visionary, preferably someone in their 40s or early 50s. And remember, the city manager doesn't have to be a man.


Tom DeLay might have been the Hammer, but Roy Blunt is definitely the Knife. Slides in, does the dirty work, slides out. Silently.

It was true in November 2002, when Blunt tried to sneak a provision helping Philip Morris USA into a bill creating the Department of Homeland Security.

It was true this week in Washington, when Blunt defied early reports and took over as House majority leader when Tom DeLay was indicted. The Associated Press reported that House Speaker Dennis Hastert wanted Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) to step in for DeLay. Republicans gathered, closed the doors, and emerged with Blunt as Fearless Leader.

In a conference call with Missouri reporters on Friday, Blunt dismissed the Dreier news as wrong. Never happened. Misinformation. And then Blunt carefully noted that no one outside the speaker's office had even discussed the issue with Hastert, so of course it couldn't be true.

The AP report quoted "GOP congressional officials." In other words, people on Hastert's staff, who clearly wanted Dreier. Maybe they're still mad over Blunt's sneaky end-run around Hastert and DeLay. According to the Washington Post, this is what Blunt tried to do in 2002 with the Homeland Security Bill:
The provision would have made it harder to sell tobacco products over the Internet and would have cracked down on the sale of contraband cigarettes, two practices that cut into Philip Morris's profits. Blunt has received large campaign donations from Philip Morris, his son works for the company in Missouri and the House member has a close personal relationship with a Washington lobbyist for the firm.
The lobbyist, then his girlfriend, is now his wife.

Blunt isn't loyal to his bosses, or to the concept of, you know, open debate about issues like profiteering by a huge tobacco company. Blunt claimed the provision would have fought terrorism, because profits from contraband cigarette sales are used to fund terrorists. To that we say "bull," and even if it would fight terrorism, why not have an open debate about the issue, instead of slipping it into a bill in the middle of the night?

'Cause the Knife likes to sneak around.

We wonder what's going to happen if Tom DeLay is cleared of the conspiracy charge now lodged in his political throat. Will Roy Blunt step aside from his "temporary" duties? Given his track record on loyalty, we think the odds are slim.

By the way, Democrats on Friday called Blunt part of the "culture of corruption" in GOP leadership circles. The Dems raised the fact that Jim Ellis -- indicted with DeLay -- has been paid $88,000 by Blunt to be a consultant.

In his conference call with reporters, Blunt called Ellis a "capable analyst ... a person I like." But he denied knowing him very well, or seeing him very often.


This just in from the City of Springfield, shortly after 9 a.m. Friday:
Springfield Mayor Tom Carlson announced today that he has accepted a letter from City Manager Tom Finnie indicating his intent to retire on April 24, 2006.

Finnie, 64, was named Springfield City Manager in 1990 after serving high-level city administration posts in Charlotte, N.C., and Nashville, Tenn. In his letter to Mayor Carlson, he stated that he has been honored to serve the citizens of Springfield and he has appreciated the extraordinary support he has received from City Council.

Mayor Carlson said he will recommend to City Council that Deputy City Manager Bob Cumley be named City Manager. He said he will ask for a closed session after the regular City Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 3, to discuss his recommendation.

Cumley, 62, was promoted to Deputy City Manager earlier this year after serving as Assistant City Manager since 1983. He has worked for the City of Springfield for 32 years, starting as Director of Personnel in 1973. He works closely with Tom Finnie to develop and implement policy and long-range planning for the City.
Man. Way to spice up the Friday news budget.


The Bush Administration's secretary of housing and urban development says New Orleans will probably never become a majority-black city again.

Alphonso Jackson's skin is black, but his core seems mighty white. He told hurricane evacuees in Houston that New Orleans is "not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."

According to the Washington Times, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) took exception to Jackson's remarks: "Anybody who can make that kind of projection with some degree of certainty or accuracy must have a crystal ball that I can't see or maybe they are more prophetic than any of us can imagine," he said.

Prophetic, or they've got a goal in mind.


The Manchester Union Leader has never been confused for a liberal newspaper. But conservatives are freaking out over the paper's Friday editorial. Headlined "Boot DeLay," it's harsher than the criminal indictment handed up against DeLay. An excerpt:
For DeLay to be guilty of criminal conspiracy, a jury would have to convict him of intentionally violating the law on corporate campaign contributions, and little, if any, evidence of that has come to light.

If DeLay is right that the indictment was politically motivated, then he has finally received a taste of his own medicine. DeLay has used his position to crush Democrats at every conceivable opportunity, and he has overstepped ethical bounds to do so. DeLay wields power for one purpose: to enrich and empower himself and his allies.

Even if the indictment is entirely meritless, DeLay is an embarrassment as a majority leader. His mania for power and disregard for good government reflect poorly on all Republicans. Because House rules forced DeLay to step down as majority leader, House Republicans have a rare opportunity to replace a leader who has shamed the party with one who is more concerned with passing good laws than humiliating his political opponents. They should take it.
Damned mainstream media. Especially the conservative kind.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Having seen the commercials about Burger King's new breakfast sandwich, featuring "meat on top of meat on top of meat" (translation: sausage topped with bacon, crowned with ham), we are certain of two things:

•No offense to His Majesty, but the King is really rather creepy. His unblinking stare makes him seem like Wesley Clark without a sense of humor. The King concept may get praise from critics, but it's the stuff of which nightmares are made.

•If you can choke down a sandwich with three kinds of pig, you should bring along your own portable defibrillator. It's the least you can do.


The editor of the Nixa News-Enterprise takes home first place for general excellence among weekly newspapers in its class, an award bestowed by the Missouri Press Association during its 139th convention, held at the Lodge of the Four Seasons.

Hadsall, a former reporter and assistant editor for 417 Magazine, also grabbed a first-place award for best news story in Class 1 of the weeklies.

Other local and regional newspapers did quite well -- among them, the Lawrence County Record, the Christian County Headliner News, the Cedar County Republican and the Webster County Citizen. We're gigging Hadsall because he happens to especially deserve it, and the awards.

Over on the daily side, the Springfield News-Leader got one first-place award -- for "best family living coverage." In the general excellence category, the News-Leader got an honorable mention, behind St. Louis, Kansas City -- and St. Joseph.

Read all the results here.


Tommy Hanover and his son, Trey, killed a rattlesnake in Texas. Used a shotgun to blow its damned head clean off. Then they showed off the carcass to some hunters and hung it up on a fence before they finally "threw it out in the pasture for the buzzards to eat," Tommy told the Houston Chronicle.

The next morning, Trey Hanover woke up and couldn't see. His eyes were swollen shut. His doctor heard the story and came up with a diagnosis, according to the Chronicle:
[T]he shotgun load that vaporized the rattlesnake's head splattered the snake's venom over its body.

When Hanover handled the snake, he got the venom on his hands and later rubbed it in his eyes, made itchy by dust and ragweed. Sixteen days later, the vision in his right eye was back to normal. His left eye was still a little cloudy, but the doctor thought it would return to normal as well.
Always wash your hands after handling your snake.


Mark the calendar, call the babysitter, lay in a supply of vittles for the big doin' on Friday, Oct. 21. That's the day Tom DeLay (R-TX) will appear in court to answer a conspiracy charge stemming from some good old-fashioned (yet still alleged) money laundering.

The order summons DeLay to Austin, according to The Associated Press.

We don't know where hometowner Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) will be on Oct. 21. One place you know he won't be: Austin.


The publicly owned utility company in Springfield announced Thursday that the cost to heat your home will be "significantly higher this winter," even if we're spared a harsh, cold season.

During Thursday's CU board meeting, General Manager John Twitty said:
“We do not know from one hour to the next what natural gas prices will be. Yesterday we saw the market go up twenty cents a therm on past and future hurricane news. Where the market goes today is anyone’s guess."
The Financial Times reports that heating oil prices jumped after the Energy Information Administration said a drop in inventories trumped an increase in diesel-fuel stocks. That, in turn, pressured natural-gas markets and sparked a jump in British thermal units -- those therms Twitty mentioned.

CU has long prided itself on providing low utility rates. That selling point won't carry nearly as much weight this winter, especially if the Ozarks slips into a deep freeze.


By the way, we've noticed a lot of people spelling Roy Dean Blunt's surname with an "O." Maybe it's a deep-down desire to make the congressman more like the writer.

Remember it this way: Roy's last name is the DEA's leading street name for marijuana.


Roy Dean Blunt is majority leader of the House of Representatives -- for now. But now that Tom DeLay is ready for his mugshot and fingerprinting, Blunt may want to think about cutting his ties to his former boss. The malignancy that took down DeLay also threatens Blunt, and in a big way.

As The Associated Press notes:
The political committee of Rep. Roy Blunt who is temporarily replacing Rep. Tom DeLay as House majority leader, has paid roughly $88,000 in fees since 2003 to a consultant under indictment in Texas with DeLay, according to federal records.

Keri Ann Hayes, executive director of the Rely on Your Beliefs Fund, said the organization has been has been satisfied with the work done by Jim Ellis, but has not discussed whether he will be retained.

"We haven't had that conversation," she said. So far, she added, Ellis' indictment had no impact on his work.

Records on file with the Federal Election Commission show the fund linked to Blunt retains Ellis' firm, J.W. Ellis Co., and has made periodic payments for services. Political Money Line, a nonpartisan Internet tracking service, places the total at about $88,000
Blunt's supporters may try to claim this is no big deal, innocent until proven guilty, blah blah blah, all that noise. They did not waste time on any such legal niceties when Jim Wright and Tom Foley were Democratic speakers under attack. They didn't try to mitigate when Bill Clinton was accused of getting a blowjob in the White House. All they cared about was "the rule of law." Now, when that rule bites them in the ass, they don't want to discuss it.

Tom DeLay was, and is, crooked. His chief worker bee, Roy Blunt, ain't Snow White, either.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


This century's Scopes trial is in its third day in Pennsylvania, where a federal judge is hearing evidence in a case against the Dover School District.

The school board voted 6-3 last year to include so-called "intelligent design" in biology class. Teachers were required to read a statement before studies of evolution; the statement insists Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and lets students know that there's a book on ID waiting for them in the school library.

Several people in the district filed suit, alleging that ID is nothing more than creationism smeared in BS and passed off as science.

If ID is warmed-over creationism, it can't be taught in a public school. The Supreme Court outlawed that pesky practice in 1987, ruling it a violation of church-state separation.

Intelligent-design proponents say ID isn't about God. But that claim sustained a serious blow on Wednesday, according to the York Daily Record:
[A]n expert for the plaintiffs pointed to examples where its supporters have identified the designer, and the designer is God.

Robert Pennock, a Michigan State University professor of the philosophy of science, pointed to a reproduction shown in court of writing by Phillip Johnson, a law professor at the University of California-Berkeley and author of books including “Darwin on Trial” and “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds.”

Johnson, known as the father of the intelligent design movement, wrote of “theistic realism.”

“This means that we affirm that God is objectively real as Creator, and that this reality of God is tangibly recorded in evidence accessible to science, particularly in biology,” the writing stated.
People who want to teach intelligent design in science class try to reassure the uninformed that all they want to do is "teach the controversy." If they're serious, we can't wait for the class on alien beings seeding the Earth to relieve overpopulation in their galaxy. Hey, it's another theory. Just like intelligent design.


Among them: drug dealers, a counterfeiter and a liquor bootlegger. Here's the list. See anyone you know?
-- Gene Armand Bridger, Elkhart, Ind.
Offense: Conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and mail fraud; 18 U.S.C. 2, 371, and 1341.

Sentence: May 29, 1963; Western District of Michigan; five years probation

-- Cathryn Iline Clasen-Gage, Rockwall, Texas
Offense: Misprision of a felony; 18 U.S.C. 4.

Sentence: Aug. 21, 1992; Northern District of Texas; 18 months imprisonment and one year of supervised release.

-- Thomas Kimble Collinsworth, Buckner, Ark.
Offense: Receipt of a stolen motor vehicle that had been transported in interstate commerce; 18 U.S.C. 2313.

Sentence: Aug. 22, 1989; Western District of Arkansas; three years probation and a $5,000 fine.

-- Morris F. Cranmer, Jr., Little Rock, Ark.
Offense: Making materially false statements to a federally-insured institution; 18 U.S.C. 1014.

Sentence: March 30, 1988; Eastern District of Arkansas; Nine months incarceration in a community correctional facility, with the condition that he work for the Arkansas Department of Health.

-- Rusty Lawrence Elliott, Mount Pleasant, Tenn.
Offense: Making counterfeit Federal Reserve notes; 18 U.S.C. 471.

Sentence: April 26, 1991; Western District of Missouri; 12 months and one day imprisonment; two years supervised release, and a $500 fine.

-- Adam Wade Graham, Salt Lake City, Utah
Offense: Conspiracy to deliver 10 or more grams of LSD; 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(v), and 846.

Sentence: Nov. 23, 1992; District of Wyoming; 30 months imprisonment, later reduced to 11 months and 21 days of imprisonment, and five years supervised release conditioned upon performance of 250 hours community service.

-- Rufus Edward Harris, Canon, Ga.
Offenses: 1.) Possession of tax-unpaid whiskey; 26 U.S.C. 5205 and 2604. 2.) Possession and selling tax-unpaid whiskey; 26 U.S.C. 5601, 5604, and 5205.

Sentence: 1.) June 17, 1963; Middle District of Georgia; two years imprisonment. 2.) May 28, 1970, amended July 24, 1973; Northern District of Georgia; five years incarceration subsequently reduced to two years probation.

-- Jesse Ray Harvey, Scarbro, W.Va.
Offense: Property damage by use of explosives and destruction of an energy facility; 18 U.S.C. 844(i) and 1366(a).

Sentence: April 17, 1990; Southern District of West Virginia; 25 months imprisonment and three years supervised release.

-- Larry Paul Lenius, Moorhead, Minn.
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine; 21 U.S.C. 846.

Sentence: Sept. 29, 1989, District of North Dakota; 36 months probation conditioned upon three months service in community confinement and payment of $2,500 in restitution.

-- Larry Lee Lopez, Bokeelia, Fla.
Offense: Conspiracy to import marijuana; 21 U.S.C. 952 and 953.

Sentence: July 19, 1985; Middle District of Florida; three years probation.

-- Bobbie Archie Maxwell, Lansing, Mich.
Offense: Mailing a threatening letter; 18 U.S.C. 876.

Sentence: Sept. 6, 1962; Middle District of Georgia; 12 months probation.

-- Denise Bitters Mendelkow, Salt Lake City, Utah
Offense: Embezzlement by a bank employee; 18 U.S.C. 656.

Sentence: May 21, 1981; District of Utah; two years probation conditioned upon payment of restitution.

-- Michael John Pozorski, Schofield, Wis.
Offense: Unlawful possession of an unregistered firearm; 26 U.S.C. 5861(d) and 5871.

Sentence: Sept. 14, 1988; Western District of Wisconsin; four years probation conditioned upon 90 days residence in a community treatment center and payment of a $750 fine.

-- Mark Lewis Weber, Sherwood, Ark.
Offense: Selling Quaalude tablets (one specification), selling, using, and possessing marijuana (three specifications), U.C.M.J., Articles 92 and 134.

Sentence: Aug. 20, 1981; United States Air Force general court-martial convened at Little Rock Air Force Base, Little Rock, Arkansas; 30 months confinement at hard labor, forfeiture of $334 pay per month for 30 months, reduction to the rank of airman basic, and a dishonorable discharge.
Boy, Jesse Ray Harvey sounds like a winner. Property damage by use of explosives and destruction of an energy facility. Don't they call that "terrorism"?


The elevation of Roy Blunt (R-MO) to "temporary" majority leader seems to be going over well with the posters at Free Republic. The conservative site is the best place to find out what Republicans are really thinking.

Freepers didn't want Rep. David Dreier to get Tom DeLay's position. But Blunt is going down easy with posters on this thread. Writes one:
Roy is relatively clean as a whistle. There are a couple of stunts the local (and state) dems try to pull - so watch for 'em. Those of us in SW Missouri know what they are. If its any indication, he has won the district in like upper sixties, lower seventies for the past few years. We are very common sense, family values oriented folk (well, except for the university profs - but even the staff at msu are common sense people).
What -- a Freeper praising the staff at Missouri State University? Does that warm-and-fuzzy extend to the staff at public radio station KSMU?


A couple hours ago it seemed unlikely that Blunt, a native of Greene County, Mo., would grab the power reins formerly held by Tom DeLay. The speaker, Dennis Hastert, had already recommended California's David Dreier to fill DeLay's shoes.

But the GOP leadership just finished meeting, and Roy D. Blunt is the "temporary" majority leader.

Blunt said he had "great regret that Tom DeLay has had to go through what he's going through right now." But he took the job anyway -- on a "temporary" basis, of course -- and scattered some of DeLay's duties among other congressmen, who will now owe him.

"First among equals" is the phrase used to describe Blunt's new position. But it's just a phrase. Blunt gets the title and the power.

This is not what Hastert intended to happen. It's probably also not what DeLay wants, if he ever hopes to come back to power -- so maybe it's clear that DeLay won't be coming back as leader. Perhaps a plea bargain isn't such an insane theory.


There's something quite curious in the four-page indictment handed up by a Texas grand jury against Rep. Tom DeLay. For some reason, DeLay's lawyers waived the statute of limitations on the conspiracy charge.

The charge alleges that DeLay and co-conspirators did their misdeeds on or about Sept. 13, 2002. The statute of limitations on the charge is three years, which meant the grand jury had to indict by Sept. 13, 2005.

The Smoking Gun has posted the indictment. Here's the pertinent graf:
The Grand Jury further presents that, with the advice and consent of counsel, the defendant, Thomas Dale DeLay, did heretofore knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive the application of Articles 12.01 and 12.03 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to the indictment presented herein. In particular, the Grand Jury present that with the advice and consent of counsel, the defendant, Thomas Dale DeLay, did knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive the requirement that an indictment for the felony offense of criminal conspiracy, the object of which is a felony other than those listed in Subdivisions (1) through (5) of Article 12.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, may be presented within three years from the date of the commission of the offense, and not afterward, insofar as such requirement pertains to the indictment presented herein.
One possibility is that DeLay's counsel struck a deal with the DA, Ronnie Earle -- we'll waive the deadline on one charge and you won't seek indictment on other, more serious charges. DeLay sounded defiant while blasting Earle. But how much was just show?


Hank Erwin, a Republican state senator from Montevallo, Ala., says God sent Hurricane Katrina to punish the United States for its sins. No, really. Just read what the senator wrote in his weekly column to the media:
"New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness. It is the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God."
Apparently too busy to destroy Las Vegas or the porn shop in your city, God (as envisioned by Erwin) decided to use the old hurricane-into-the-Gulf-Coast trick. So uninspired, especially coming from a deity.

The Birmingham News reported a negative reaction to Erwin's column from Christian leaders:
William Willimon, bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, suggested another response from Christians to the disaster.

"I have no idea what sort of senator or politician Mr. Erwin is, but he's sure no theologian," Willimon said. "I'm certainly against gambling and its hold on state government in Mississippi, but I expect there is as much sin, of possibly a different order, in Montevallo as on the Gulf Coast. If God punished all of us for our sin, who could stand?

"Next week, 300 United Methodist clergy from north Alabama are spending a week working together to help folks in trouble on the Gulf Coast," he added. "That seems to me a much more appropriate Christian response than that of the senator."
Erwin now joins such luminaries as Louis Farrakhan and al-Qaida in Iraq in giving props to God for whipping up Katrina. Just wait until the big quake hits San Francisco. Erwin might die from the excitement of blaming sodomites for plate tectonics.


"Just another day at the office," Tom DeLay cracked before making his statement, saying the charge was "one of the weakest" indictments ever returned in criminal history. "This act is the product of a coordinated, premeditated campaign of political retribution." And then he called Ronnie Earle, the Travis County, Tex., district attorney, a "fanatic." Nice guy.

Basically, DeLay is accused of conspiring to funnel about $190,000 in campaign money into the campaigns of more than a half-dozen statehouse candidates. Texas state law prohibits corporations from contributing to state candidates.

The indictment against the majority leader of the House of Representatives may not result in prison time for DeLay (even though he does face up to two years in state prison if convicted of conspiracy). But it has already created the impression among many conservatives that politically, DeLay is toast.

DeLay's ideological allies are fleeing his ship. "Ethical overload," decreed Pat Buchanan, a guy who worked for Nixon and who thus knows a little something about ethics or the lack thereof.

DeLay's statement, issued just before 2 p.m. Central time, attacked Earle by name several times and then went on to accuse Earle of conspiring with Democratic leaders in the house. Like the cockroaches he used to kill for a living, the pest exterminator from Texas scrabbled and made himself look as ugly as possible. But we think we heard his exoskeleton crack.


The indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (one count of criminal conspiracy from a Texas grand jury) seemed to open the door for Rep. Roy Blunt to move up one position in the House pecking order. Blunt is already majority whip, the No. 3 position in the House leadership.

But as DeLay steps down to fight the criminal charge, House Speaker Dennis Hastert announced that he would recommend Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) as temporary majority leader. What gives?

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has an intriguing (and well-informed) opinion:
Why Dreier? Because DeLay plans on coming back. If DeLay lets someone into the job who actually has the juice to hold it, he might never get it back. That's why the logical person on the totem pole, Majority Whip Roy Blunt, is staying right where he is.
Roy Blunt may be loyal to DeLay and Hastert, but the feeling doesn't seem very mutual.


The former head of FEMA claimed that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco failed to include New Orleans in her request for a federal emergency declaration.

Brown's rewriting of history, during a Tuesday congressional hearing, was a stunner to anyone who keeps up with the news. Three weeks ago, CHATTER brought up the confusion over the disaster declaration; Brown's testimony only further clouds the controversy.

What's clear:

•Blanco asked President Bush on Aug. 27 to declare a federal disaster, in advance of Hurricane Katrina. She included New Orleans in the request.

•Bush declared a federal disaster -- but did not include New Orleans in the list of affected counties.

Why not? No one seems to have a clear clue.


Now here's an idea: instead of planting your pickled posterior in the ground, or burning your bod and sending ash into the air, why not go the shake-and-shatter route?

Jonkoping, Sweden, plans to dispose of corpses by freeze-drying -- "promation" is the made-up word being used to describe the practice.

According to the Telegraph:
[T]he pioneering method involves freezing the body, dipping it in liquid nitrogen and gently vibrating it to shatter it into powder. This is put into a small box made of potato or corn starch and placed in a shallow grave, where it will disintegrate within six to 12 months. People are to be encouraged to plant a tree on the grave. It would feed off the compost formed from the body, to emphasise the organic cycle of life.
Vibrated until you shatter. We can think of worse ways to fall apart.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Three briefs:

•Hurricane Rita was no Katrina, but the storm "caused more damage to oil rigs than any other storm in history and will force companies to delay drilling for oil in the US and as far away as the Middle East, initial damage assessments show." That's according to the Financial Times.

•The Justice Department has won the war on terror and is now deploying agents against the war on porn. Ars Technica reports:
According to FBI headquarters, the war against smut is "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Gonazalez and FBI Director Robert Meuller. Although law enforcement agencies have always been aggressive when it comes to prosecuting exploitative child pornographers, this new initiative is unique in that it targets Internet pornography featuring consenting adults.
Your tax dollars, hard at work.

•Speaking of hard work, English teacher Amber Jennings had sex with a 16-year-old student in Dudley, Mass. She got two years probation and surrendered her teaching license -- but not for having sex with the lad. Her crimes? Letting him take pictures during the sex, and swapping risque snaps with him on the Internet. The Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports that the boy's mother was especially bent outta shape:
“No mother should have to see pictures of her son’s high school English teacher naked,” the mother noted during a brief conversation. “She seized his manhood ... I know where her tattoos are. I know a lot about her body I shouldn’t know.”
We know that no thread about teachers having sex with students is complete without a mug of the offender, so here you go, Mr. Curbstone Critic.


The disgraced and disgraceful soldier also received a dishonorable discharge on Tuesday, a day after being convicted of several charges stemming from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

England apologized, according to Reuters, and said she was a patriot: "After the photos were released, I've heard that attacks were made on U.S. armed forces because of them. I apologize to coalition forces and all the families."

England also said so-sorry to "detainees, the families, America and all the soldiers."

Her lawyers tried the pity route, asking a jury to "let her go home, send her home" for the sake of her 11-month-old baby, the bastard offspring of England and Charles Graner, a fellow Guardsman who also abused detainees. One of England's lawyers pointed out a photo of the baby, posed with an American flag.

England is 22. She will still be very young when she's released from prison. Too bad.


After Mike Brown's "blame-everyone-but-myself" testimony before a congressional committee on Tuesday, many conservatives are mimicking the former FEMA director and scapegoating the media -- damned media! -- for Hurricane Katrina.

Their argument, lame as it is, goes this way:

The media reported false information from New Orleans, especially in the first few days after the storm. The country saw these reports and turned against President Bush, who did nothing wrong. So any lingering belief that Bush didn't respond well after Katrina is the fault of reporters who lied to make Bush look bad.

(One more thought about those early reports. Anyone who's been a reporter, or been involved in spot news, understands that the first flashes from breaking news are notoriously unreliable. By nightfall on Sept. 11, 2001, some 20,000 people had died in the World Trade Centers. No one suggests that this early, false toll was created to make the Bush Administration look bad. How is this any different than the early reports from New Orleans?)

On Free Republic -- haven for the most radical right-wingers -- posters are taking delight in sliming reporters. Said one Freeper:
[I]n the interest of furthering anything that might make Bush look bad, liberal reporters were quick to accuse Black refugees at the Thunderdome of all manner of violent and sick behavior. So, who's a racist again?
How quickly memories fade when they don't fit someone's political agenda. We found, on Free Republic, this thread from early September. It detailed horror stories from the Superdome and the convention center -- and Freepers were outraged that the Democratic governor of Louisiana and the Democratic mayor of New Orleans allowed such horrors to happen. Wrote one:
I wonder how many children and women were raped and killed because (Gov. Kathleen) Blanco needed more time to make a decision about getting the feds involved?
Now that the stories turn out largely to be untrue, are the Freepers apologizing to Blanco for calling her an accomplice to rape and murder?

Of course not. That would be logical behavior by rational humans who understand when they're being hypocrites.


Gordon Senecal was taking care of his friend's old pit bull when things went bad.

Cops in Green Bay, Wis., say Senecal got into an argument with the dog's owner, Todd Charles. Sitting in Charles' home, the men fought, Cops say Charles grabbed a serving fork and stabbed Senecal. The headlines called it just a fork. Damned liberal media.


The former head of FEMA goes before a House select committee and is grilled, toasted, fried, chopped and smothered. Rep. Gene Taylor, a Democrat from Mississippi, told Brown his response to Hurricane Katrina was an "F minus." Rep. Chris Shays said Brown's excuses were "feeble" -- and Shays is a Republican (attention GOP types: spare us the "Shays is a RINO" crap. He still belongs to you, same as Zell Miller belongs to Democrats).

Brown is getting agitated. At one point Tuesday morning he was fairly shouting at Shays. Then again, he deserves the ass-whipping he's getting on C-SPAN. Brown said his two big mistakes were not making sure the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana got along; and not holding regular FEMA briefings. He also kept insisting that his job was to coordinate the response to the storm. Spoken like a true tool.


Remember Ashley Smith? She was held hostage by Brian Nichols, the Georgia courthouse shooter, after he forced his way into her apartment. She talked her way out, called police and was praised as a hero for her calm demeanor.

(She also got backpats for reading Nichols parts of "The Purpose Driven Life.")

Smith releases a book on Tuesday, the start of a media campaign you can't miss, including a Wednesday "Oprah" appearance. "Unlikely Angel" is the name of Smith's book, with an initial printing of 400,000.

In the book, Smith admits that she gave Nichols some meth. He asked for pot; she didn't have any, so she turned him on to her meth stash.

Smith says she refused to do the drug with Nichols, and claims she hasn't touched drugs since, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "I was not going to die tonight and stand before God, having done a bunch of ice up my nose."

Hey, we don't care. Whatever it took to keep her alive.


Justice announced Tuesday that they will consider an appeal from the former Playboy nudie Anna Nicole Smith. She claimed her now-dead husband, J. Howard Marshall II, wanted to give her most of his fortune. But his son made sure it didn't happen when Marshall died in 1995, at age 89 (Smith was 26).

She sued. A bankruptcy judge said she was entitled to $474 million. The son appealed and won. Now the Supremes will decide if federal courts can hear claims involving a state probate case.

Can't wait to see the briefs. Heh.


Born in the Mariana Islands, Longwang is one of three active typhoons in the western north Pacific. Just keeping you updated on the storm.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Now we know why people use the expression "Christ on a crutch."

This is ridiculous. Mike Brown was forced out of FEMA because of his piss-poor performance (and lack of prior planning). And now he's a FEMA contractor?

From CBS, this tidbit:
CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger spoke with a spokesman for FEMA, Russ Knocke, who confirmed that Brown remains on the FEMA payroll. He also said that technically Brown remains at FEMA as a "contractor" and he is "transitioning out of his job." The reason he will remain at FEMA about a month after his resignation, said the spokesman, is that the agency wants to get the "proper download of his experience."
They get a download. We get an upshove.


The 22-year-old from West Virginia was convicted Monday of conspiracy, maltreating detainees and committing an indecent act (and no, we're not talking about the way she treated Iraqi detainees; that was beyond indecent).

England was acquitted of a second conspiracy charge.

From The Associated Press:
The jury of five male Army officers took about two hours to reach its verdict. Her case now moves to the sentencing phase, which will heard by the same jury beginning Tuesday ... England, wearing her dark green dress uniform, stood at attention as the verdict was read by the jury foreman. She showed no obvious emotion afterward. Asked for comment after the verdict, defense lawyer Capt. Jonathan Crisp said, "The only reaction I can say is, 'I understand.'"
England claimed she abused the detainees to please her boyfriend, co-abuser Charles Graner. Oh, yeah, she also suffered from depression and had an "overly compliant personality."

A generation from now, when many of us are dead, Lynndie England's actions will be used in Iraq and other countries as "proof" of America's debauched heart. Time to do the Lynndie.


King Mswati of Swaziland has picked a new, young bride. The BBC reports:
Phindile Nkambule, 17, was revealed to the public when she took part in a traditional Reed Dance ceremony, in which girls perform before the king.

The announcement comes just weeks after Mswati III ended an official ban on sex for women under 18. The ban was aimed at curbing the spread of HIV/Aids.

According to custom, King Mswati, 37, will marry Phindile Nkambule once she becomes pregnant.

She is reported to have caught the king's eye during the main annual Reed Dance in late August, when tens of thousands of bare-breasted girls took part in a traditional rite of Spring.
Yes, it is good to be king, even when you already have 12 other wives, one spare fiancee and 27 children.


The actor who played Maxwell Smart is dead. Don Adams was 82. He'd been sick for a couple years -- bone lymphoma was the diagnosis -- but Adams died of a lung infection that had hospitalized him on Saturday.

Real name: Donald James Yarmy. He wanted to be an engineer; joined the Marines in World War II and became a drill instructor; and was the sole survivor of his platoon at Guadalcanal.

From that rough hell, he became a comedian. He took his wife's last name as his stage surname and became Maxwell Smart for five television seasons in the 1960s.

His pals were Hugh Hefner, Don Rickles, Jimmy Caan. He hung out at the Playboy mansion. He liked to bet on the ponies. What a bad ass.

We're in constant competition with our pal Smitty over news bulletins. We've been on a roll with scoops, and thought we'd get him with Adams' death, but Smitty called first. Missed it by that much.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Dateline: South Salt Lake City, where one might not expect gunplay on I-15. But add flying birds to the equation and trouble quickly brews.

Early Friday -- about 40 minutes after midnight -- a 25-year-old dude was waiting for a light to change when a woman in a car pulled up alongside.

Eye contact was made. He says she tried to speed past his car, hit some traffic cones and yelled something at the man.

He flipped her the bird.

The Deseret Sun picks up the story:
That's when she apparently fired four shots at the driver's side of the man's car. One of the bullets hit the tip of the man's middle finger on his right hand, severing it. His index finger also was injured, but not as seriously.
Wowza. The injured bird-flipper tried to follow the woman (why, we're not sure, given that she'd just shot off his middle finger) but soon decided he needed to go to the hospital, and did.

Turns out the woman was driving a stolen car. She's described as being in her early 20s, with long, dark, curly hair, a white tank top and boxer shorts. Don't piss her off.


Hey, anything's possible. Not probable, not even likely. Just possible.

The Observer reports:
Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.

Dolphins have been trained in attack-and-kill missions since the Cold War. The US Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have apparently been taught to shoot terrorists attacking military vessels. Their coastal compound was breached during the storm, sweeping them out to sea. But those who have studied the controversial use of dolphins in the US defence programme claim it is vital they are caught quickly.

Leo Sheridan, 72, a respected accident investigator who has worked for government and industry, said he had received intelligence from sources close to the US government's marine fisheries service confirming dolphins had escaped.

'My concern is that they have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for a spy or suicide bomber and if equipped with special harnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire,' he said. 'The darts are designed to put the target to sleep so they can be interrogated later, but what happens if the victim is not found for hours?'
Great. They don't even need thumbs to fire their guns. Prepare to communicate in future via clicks and whistles.


When Hurricane Rita came ashore early Saturday, its eyewall passed just west of Cameron, La., a town of about 2,000. Hurricane Audrey nearly wiped out the place in 1957, destroying 90 percent of the buildings in Cameron and Lower Vermilion parishes.

Rita's damage seems equally extensive, perhaps a fatal blow to Cameron. Photos from above show universal flooding. The storm surge from Rita in Cameron Parish was 15 feet, two feet higher than Audrey.

Melody Brumble from the Shreveport Times described it this way:
The hurricane swept Holly Beach, a community of crabbing and vacation camps, off the map. Rows of concrete slabs show where houses once stood ... Cameron Parish and the city of Cameron are underwater, with most of the buildings smashed. The courthouse withstood Rita’s worst, but two schools succumbed to the winds.
Almost everyone -- about 90 percent, according to local officials -- evacuated before Rita rumbled ashore. Those who come back will do what their parents and grandparents did after Audrey; what other ancestors did after a 1918 hurricane killed 34; and what others more distant did in Cameron after terrible storms in 1886, 1879 and 1865. They will build again.


Someone told us the other day that CHATTER has been blocked by their employer's Internet filters. Seems the content of this blog may be offensive to some sensitive souls. Bastards.

Reading through Gentle Whisper, we learned that Amy has the same problem (the blocking, not the offensive content). Why someone would be so evil as to block Gentle Whisper is beyond us. But her solution has become our solution.

Look to the upper right of this page. There's a FeedBlitz form. Enter your e-mail and -- blammo! -- you'll get CHATTER e-mailed to you.

No more blocked web site. The Man's best efforts are once again foiled. All is right with the world.


Mr. Brian Lewis, assistant editorial page editor for the Springfield News-Leader!

Sunday's newspaper includes Lewis' winning column, "What is the mission of the News-Leader?" With such a headline, you might think the column would be about the newspaper's mission. But that's far too obvious for Lewis.

Instead, Lewis explores a request from the National Conference of Editorial Writers to find "philosophies, missions, statements of principle, lofty language of any kind that you communicate to readers on what you aim for in your opinion pages."

(To his credit, Lewis admits this peg is just an excuse for a column.)

He then lists mission statements and/or wise words from more than a half-dozen other newspapers, before finally typing:
All of this got me to thinking. If you were to create a mission statement to put on the News-Leader's masthead, what would it be? Send me something short and I'll include it in a future column.

I'd also be interested to know what the phrase "'Tis a Privilege to live in the Ozarks" means to you. I suppose it's something different for everybody.
Can't get anything past this guy, can you?

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Fat Tuesday is Feb. 28, 2006, but the Mardi Gras hubbub starts in early January. Have a little faith, a little power, a little justice, and it can happen.

Sounds like a lifetime away, but it's only five months and a few days. You know New Orleans plans to be alive and kicking it by then, barring any more natural (or unnatural) disasters.

But at what cost? Our smarter and younger brother recently wrote about the rush to repopulate New Orleans -- a hurry-hurry approach that backfired when Rita neared.

Rushing the job isn't smart. But neither is delaying and denying the inevitable, a stance we're starting to see is some conservative circles. The federal government may wind up spending $300 billion in Louisiana alone, to repair damage caused by Katrina and Rita. A lot of people -- liberals and conservatives -- understandably don't want to pay the bill, and question whether we should sink more money into a city below sea level.

But no one asked whether Homestead, Fla., should have been rebuilt after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. A quarter-million people were left homeless, and no one suggested that the government not rebuild what those people had lost.

We happen to believe that living along hurricane-prone coastlines is not a good idea, and if you choose to build or buy there, you should have to pay through the nose for insurance -- if you can get insurance at all. You're at high risk, just like a 17-year-old driver with a cell phone.

But New Orleans is a special case, with history that predates our nation. It has one of the world's busiest ports. It has Tulane and Loyola. It provides a lagniappe to the national culture, and we're not talking debauchery, though you may if you wish; a mere mention of the city's name evokes music and food and dialect, all delicious.

The resurrection of New Orleans cannot wait until every neighborhood is dry. Block by block, economic engines must be restarted as soon as possible, even while there's debate about whether other parts of New Orleans should be reconstructed.

It's the only way to make sure there's a Mardi Gras worth enjoying next year.


Good God. We've just seen our first full-body shot of MSNBC's Rita Cosby, sans bulky coat, and we may never be the same. We already thought she was annoying, but now we're certain. This woman is unattractive on all levels; her voice grates, her guffaws annoy and her ass is enormous.

Not that huge rear ends are necessarily bad. We are not big-ass bigots; we do not practice booty discrimination. All of God's children have butts, and even big ones are beautiful because they were made in God's image, right?

But Rita's ass, when coupled with her absurd voice and look-at-me attitude, cannot be loved. It may have its positives -- it could be a first-class ass -- but we will never be able to get past it to find any goodness.

On Friday night, Cosby was on "Hardball" and made nattering noises about the weather service loving her coverage of a previous storm and pledging to name a hurricane after her. She's to blame for Rita.


1:57 p.m.
George W. Bush has just arrived in Austin. Dick Cheney has just survived surgery to both knees. Thank God for the latter, because who would run the country if Cheney dies?

1:38 p.m.
New vid from a helicopter going over Galveston and Houston. Homes south of Galveston, around Surfside, look fine. Even the roofs look untouched. Those who were forced to flee are not going to be so eager to take to the road when the next storm comes.

But what we're seeing is west and south of the main punch. While Galveston city officials expect to announce a tentative all-clear by this evening, and trumpet a "no looting" line, the damage in southwest Louisiana is much more serious. News from those places is much shower in coming.

1:25 p.m.
From CNN: Houston's mayor warns that water is still rising in nearby bayous. In Lake Charles, La., the airport has sustained "severe damage." Live vid from Lake Charles doesn't show real perspective, but it looks scary as hell -- waves and trees, both in motion.

1:15 p.m.
The cable news networks are acting especially schizophrenic this afternoon. Initial reports have Rita being more of a soaker than a screamer, and because most people got the hell out of Houston and surrounding areas, there doesn't appear to be a large loss of life.

So instead of ominous theme music and long faces of despair, we see Miles O'Brien on CNN, helping rescue a dog in Lumberton, Tex. Wolf Blitzer and Fred Whitfield are all yucks and "awws" and then, there's a live shot of white caps surrounding treetops in Lake Charles, La.

MSNBC has two babes on the anchor desk and David Shuster in Beaumont, Tex. Significant roof damage, trees down, but underwhelming when compared to Katrina footage.

Over on Fox, it's all about New Orleans and the "topped" levees. Bill Hemmer is there, discussing devastation (from Katrina) and speculating that New Orleans might start its new era as a city of 200,000 -- less than half of what it was until the beginning of this month.

Also on Fox is famous whore Geraldo Rivera, doing his usual mugging and gesticulating. He's in Port Arthur, Tex., spreading the "good news" that the city's seawall is intact. Twit. A hurricane roared through less than 12 hours ago. He's standing in front of a flooded, impassable street. Quit being a rah-rah boy. Report what you see, not what you want.

Rita is now a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 65 mph. The storm's center is 65 miles SSW of Shreveport. It is expected to move north, then east over the next few days, into northern Mississippi.


He'd beat a man to death with his hands.

The line isn't ours, but it made us snicker when we read it. Pitch-black humor and all.

Leavander Johnson, 35, died Thursday of a brain injury. He'd been beaten last Saturday while defending his lightweight championship.

He collapsed in his dressing room after an 11th-round TKO. Within an hour he was in a medically induced coma, following surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain, according to ESPN.

Johnson's opponent was Jesus Chavez.


Rita jogs north just before landfall, hits Louisiana, spares the "important" facilities in Texas. So goes the first morning headlines. Places like Johnson Bayou, La., took a bad smack.

Wonder if residents of Houston will ever again heed an evacuation order?


1:06 a.m.
CNN has Randi Kaye in Baytown, TX. She's getting buffeted but good. This storm seems like a soaker. Not good.

Will media attention now focus almost exclusively in Port Arthur? Beaumont? Lake Charles? Will reporters lose sight of Katrina's still unfinished accounting? Depends on the visuals from Rita, which should come by morning. See you then.

1:01 a.m.
Watching MSNBC, we realize that Tucker Carlson should stick to politics. Give us Collette Cassidy.

Fox's Shep Smith appears to be out for the count, having lost too many hats (we counted five) to Rita. Damn her uncanny ability to snatch away the things concealing Smith's increasingly white hair.

AP: The hurricane's strongest winds are now ashore at the Texas-Louisiana coast.

12:50 a.m.
Flash flood warnings up around New Orleans. Great,

The collapse in Galveston is of a restaurant, CNN reports. The fire is "under control but still burning."

Peak winds at 81 mph in Beaumont.

12:39 a.m.
Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center keeps earning his keep. Live on Fox with Sean Hannity, a wind storm without rain.

Rita Cosby, the storm's husky voiced namesake, is in Galveston, in orange cap and coat, looking like Kenny from "South Park." The mist on the lens creates an orange halo around Cosby, highlighting her hirsute power.

Winds are 120, gusts to 144. Pressure is 934 millibars. Storm surge up to 20 feet at Port Arthur.

12:30 a.m.
When John Zarrella moves, you know the storm's a big'un. CNN's big guy has sustained some blows but remains standing. Anderson Cooper looks like he wants to go home, just go home, click those heels three times to make it so.

We're worried about Zarrella, in Lumberton, TX. The trees behind him don't look like they're staying. We're also a little concerned by the small smile on Aaron Brown's face when he's talking to Cooper. You don't think he's enjoying Cooper's self-induced misery, do you?

MSNBC's man in Beaumont -- Phil Archer -- has a live shot of a light pole down but still working. So is his moustache.

The eyewall is 16 miles from land. Luck to you.

12:23 a.m.
Problems with the seawall at Galveston, says CNN. Rita's eye is 40 miles southeast of Sabine Pass, on the Texas-Louisiana line.

12:20 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24
Fox says it's blowing in Lake Charles, La. Relative to that, Houston is calm.

MSNBC also shows sheets of rain. Oscar Ortiz, soon to join Ray Nagin in the Mayor-Without-A-City Club, bemoans Port Arthur, TX.

CNN reports a building collapse in Galveston. Probably remains of the fire at an art gallery. In the camera's lights the rain swirls like fat snowflakes.

10:45 p.m.
CNN reports no casualties in fires at Galveston.

Aaron Brown riffs about this being the "rawest, livest form" of television, Betcha. It's the best way for civilians to understand what reporters experience when news breaks. Big facts usually hold true, but a thousand other truths die as truer information comes forward. We recall covering several tornadoes where death tolls dropped as hours elapsed. Humans almost always fear the worst. It's the pessimist in us.

That same pessimist notes that we're in the midst of an incredible news cycle, and expects a California quake is bound to happen before the season closes.

10:41 p.m.
Hurricane coverage is our anti-drug, though it's best experienced while on drugs.

Bill Hemmer is on Fox. We keep looking for Soledad, but alas, she must be getting beauty sleep in another universe, on another network.

Hemmer is in New Orleans, reporting on when the levees break, which makes us think about being in New Madrid in the late 1980s for the earthquake that wasn't, eating gumbo and drinking Bud at 6:30 a.m. in a bar while KSHE blared the Zep classic, a tart audio raspberry to the idea that an earthquake in southeast Missouri would bust levees along the Mississippi and flood the town. Nice, tight memory.

Shep Smith is hugging a fence pole. He's pulling a Dan Rather. He's grimacing, crouching, wiping his wet face. And that insufferable Greta mocks him, rolling out the fact that while she got the lucky draw for Houston. Destroy her with the remote.

As long as MSNBC is occupied by Scarborough, we will look the other way. Joe interviewing Asa Hutchison, a former Homeland Security honcho, is not our idea of breaking news.

We give The Weather Channel another chance. From Sulphur, La., Janine Albert notes the noise of Hurricane Rita. Others have talked about the lack of respites between feeder bands. This storm just comes and comes. Insert your own breathing-hard joke here.

10:22 p.m.
Back to Rob Marciano in Beaumont. Lights are still on there. Showing off CNN's rented U-Haul, filled with supplies and equipment. It's also a good windbreak. Aaron Brown asks him about being a "meteorologist-reporter." You know, smarter than your average reporter, because he knows science.

Interesting point he's making: Reporters usually overestimate the wind they're experiencing. Thirty miles an hour feels like 60.

10:15 p.m.
Sean Callebs reports for CNN from Galveston. Big-ass fire on 19th Street; a "very significant fire," Callebs reports -- just before being thwacked with a piece of styrofoam.

The Anderson Cooper lens remains covered with a gauzy film. Guess he likes it that way. But why in God's name is he interviewing Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who is live in a Baton Rouge studio? Cooper's getting blown around, trying to cup his IFB. What, is Aaron Brown taking a smoke break?

10:10 p.m.
Fox has Adam Housley in Winnie, TX. Crappy vidphone; tinny audio, pixelated video. Is this the best they can do?

CNN's John Zarrella in Lumberton, TX. An apt assignment for the big guy. He's reporting that a lot of rain -- 15 to 20 inches -- could fall. People reportedly trapped on highways as the storm attacks. Someone "breaked a lock" to help people, Zarrella notes. God bless him.

Rita is a drencher.

Hey, CNN, wipe off Anderson Cooper's lens. Or is that some sort of gauzy effect for the rising star, who likes to begin questions this way: "And and and ... "

Early impression: CNN's still the cable network with the best depth. Even with Cooper in the line-up. In a perfect Medialand, CNN would hire Shep Smith and add some color and punch to the roster.

10 p.m.
The Weather Channel may know its weather, but it doesn't know squat about pacing. Sluggish coverage.

Fox: Greta chats with Shep. She's in Houston. We're seeing a lot of the top of Shep's head in Beaumont. He's being attacked. Put wings on the boy and he's going to take flight. You know, he's quite adept at riffing in the middle of the hurricane.

Greta is holding onto her ball cap. She is holding onto her ball cap. What an absolute priss.

CNN: Raining in Galveston. Fires on the east end of the island.

You know, this Aaron Brown/Anderson Cooper hybrid is a bastard child, a miscarriage that lived. It's like Ted Koppel and Jon Stewart co-hosting a show. We wonder if Brown digs Cooper being plopped into his 'hood.

Rob Marciano, the meteorologist, is worried about being in the center of the eye, if the storm crosses the Sabine River. When a meteorologist frets about his safety in a storm, you know something wicked is near.

MSNBC remains occupied by Scarborough Country. This cannot stand.

9:45 p.m.
Greta, on Fox, has actually been forced to pay attention to reality. No more Natalee nabobs. Time to understand that the real stories are in the Gulfs, the ones named for Mexico and Persia.

Suggestion to all the cables: Put a map in the lower right showing the location of your reporter. All this gee-whiz of bouncing live from city to city lacks coherence when you can't follow it with any sort of sense.

Aaron Brown, the CNN anchor, is his usual thoughtful self. Chad Myers, the meteorologist, reports the center is moving NW at 11 mph. In a little less than five hours, the eye will be to the east of Beaumont, TX. The bad side of the eye will go through the Sabine River. Bad because of the rains being generated by Rita.

Back to MSNBC: The Texas lieutenant governor is being calm, explaining how well his state evacuated his people. Guess that's what the lieutenant governor does during a storm. Or is it because he's in Scarborough Country, where people can smoke because hey, it's a bad choice, but it's made by free people.

The death toll from Katrina, by the way, now stands at 1,078. Just FYI. Any body found in the floodwaters of Rita will be a victim from Katrina.

Over to Fox: Shep Smith is interviewing a forecaster for a local station. Shep's a little guy, like Anderson Cooper. Oops. The Shep vid connection is black, now back. Windy as hell in Beaumont, TX.

Hey, The Weather Channel: A taped piece from New Orleans, done before Rita. The love shot is from Stephanie Sy with ABC. She's in New Orleans, where tornadoes are a'feared. Meanwhile, Mike Seidel in Galveston gives us this important tidbit -- the wind is from the north, blowing water away from the seawall, about 50 yards away. So far, so good in Galveston.

9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, 2005
As we did during the wretched Katrina, we'll try to post, from time to time, some impressions during Rita's siege. This seems especially important, given the alternate reality being spun by the Bush Administration about how the last storm played out.

(For the record, New Orleans wasn't just fine until the levees were breached on Tuesday, the morning after Katrina hit. Live coverage showed a Monday morning levee break that happened as Katrina came ashore, leaving much of the city under water by 10 a.m.)

Anyway, it's about 9:25 p.m. Central on Friday, Sept. 23, 2005. For all intents -- or in cars, hotels and other shelters -- Hurricane Rita is attacking the United States.

CNN's Rob Marciano is in Beaumont, TX. He's not very happy, and said so just now. Points for brutal honesty. By contrast, Anderson Cooper chirps about feeling pretty safe, some 30 feet above a potential flood point. Points for good hair, but not much else.

John Zarrella, a man built to withstand a hurricane, is in Lumberton, TX. Lots of strong, gusty winds there. Trees are moving, but he does not. The wispy Cooper suffers by comparison.

Jason Carroll is in Lake Charles, LA, just on the east side of where Rita should come ashore. Bad draw, man.

Over at MSNBC, it's a damned Ditech commercial.

Shep Smith is on Fox, in Beaumont, TX. Squinting. Just knocked to the ground! 9:28 p.m. He calls it "slipping and falling." Excuse us, but MY ASS. That was wind that just knocked a man to the ground, with vigor.

Friday, September 23, 2005


No, we're not hyping the chief typist of this joint -- or most any other Ronald, for that matter. The words "Ronald" and "sexy" should never be lashed together in any sentence.

But we break the rules on this Friday, mainly because it's Friday and it's going to be almost 90 degrees here before it rains around noon and continues through the weekend. We're also breaking the rules because the power of McDonald's compels us.

Dude: Ronald McDonald is a chick. At least in Japan. Ad wizards there decided that Ron ought to get some sexiness in his pants.

The Guardian has the story, but the whole registration thing might turn you away. CHATTER went through your pain to grab the info -- and the photos. You won't believe the photos.

But first, from the Guardian story, these grafs:
Hidekazu Sato, known by his nickname Kazoo, the associate creative director at Beacon Communications - a joint venture of Leo Burnett and Dentsu - said the costume was so recognisable it was a mnemonic - a design that people would instantly associate with McDonald's.

"We devised the costume and took the red and white stripes and the yellow, which were recognised and converted them into a stylish dress,"
Kazoo said via a translator.

"We were assuming that even if we didn't include the McDonald's logo and even if the model was a beautiful caucasian just those colours of the mnemonic design would wake up people's association with McDonald's."
Yeah, yeah, mnemonic. Whatever you want to call it, Ronald is smoking and here's the proof. Click over to the CHATTER Public File. See the folder named "Ronnie"? Inside are four photos of the new Ronald McDonald. Scope 'em out and tell us what you think.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


South of Bakersfield, near Mettler. A swarm of temblors, including six on Thursday afternoon over Magnitude 3 (the biggest one so far has been a 4.7).

Here's the list; here's a map. Just what we need now.


Harold and Cherie Jones are still married, according to the license. But the Fort Smith, Ark., couple haven't been getting along. She says he has a girlfriend. She also says Harold showed up over the weekend, drank all the beer she had in the house, pestered her for sex and by Sunday suppertime was passed out, drunk and naked, on her bed.

What's a girl to do? Unknown. What Cherie Jones did was pick up some pruning shears and aim them at Harold's genitals.

So say the cops, who point to a confession Cherie allegedly made. "He was lying on the bed and I cut him," she told patrolman Vincent Clamser.

To her credit, Cherie asked Harold if he wanted her to summon an ambulance. He got the hell out the door and drove to his own apartment, where his girlfriend called for help.

If only Cherie had better pruning abilities.


In anticipation of Rita, a few photos of what Katrina did to Plaquemines Parish, La.


The source is The National Enquirer. Now that the salt shaker is before you, consider this: The Enquirer aggressively courts sources and often confirms facts months before traditional media outlets (think O.J., William Kennedy Smith, Robert Blake).

And for the conservatives out there who dismiss the tabloids as trash, remember: You believed them when they wrote about Clinton and Gennifer Flowers. We did, too.

The Enquirer's report, posted Wednesday, said Bush was caught downing a shot of alcohol at the ranch in Crawford.

Leaving aside the president's alleged boozing, can someone explain why he grinds his jaw when he speaks in public?


David Parker, of Lexington, Mass., is itching for a fight. Last April Parker was arrested and charged with criminal trespass after he refused to leave a meeting at Estabrook Elementary School, where his son went to kindergarten.

Parker was there to complain about "the teaching of homosexuality" to the class, according to a report in World Net Daily. Parker's son brought home a book, "Who's in a Family?" and Parker hit the roof when he read two examples featuring gay parents. He wouldn't leave the meeting.

The school board believes Parker set out to get arrested and make a national wave.

Parker's trial was supposed to begin this week, but it's been postponed. A no-trespassing order forbids him from setting foot on school property.

Hey, if Parker wants to yank his kid from kindergarten, let him. But his attorney, Jeffrey Denner, says it's a bigger issue. Parker wants to "establish a dialogue to protect his own children and other children as well."

Sounds like Parker wants to be the village chief. Thanks, but we can take care of our own kids just fine.


Looks like the hurricane is tracking a little further north than expected. The storm should make landfill just west of the Texas-Louisiana border, in the early morning hours of Saturday.

The Ozarks should get a drenching by Sunday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


The woman soldier at the heart of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq says she posed for photos because she loved and trusted her soldier boyfriend.

England, 22, faces up to 11 years in military prison if convicted of two counts of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one indecent-act charge.

The Associated Press reports that England's lawyer -- Capt. Jonathan Crisp -- says his client has "learning disabilities and is prone to clinical depression."

England didn't think what she was doing was wrong, her lawyer argues. England felt "safe" with her boyfriend, Charles Graner, and "she was happiest with him ... She was able to block out the surrealness of the environment she was in."

Thank God England was in love when she posed for pictures and abused Iraqi prisoners. Imagine what she would have done without all that good loving.


The former KYTV meteorologist left the top-rated NBC affiliate earlier this year. The local word had Freedman returning to her native New Hampshire. But she's apparently now in Salt Lake City; we ran across this story from KSL about Utahns suffering seasonal allergies. Our loss is Salt Lake City's gain.


Dammit that almost all the Ramones are dead and unable to enjoy RRMS, better known as Wedgewood.

Loy Koeller, the principal, was fired on Tuesday. Allegations against her included drinking on the job and topless frolicking in the office with a teacher.

WBNS-TV says "there are reports of [teacher Abbi] Terry taking off her top in Koeller's office along with allegations of the pair engaging in sex acts in other parts of the building."

Koeller and Terri now live together, WBNS reports.

Also busted: Thomas Mannerino, a teacher and union rep, who allegedly drank on the job. He quit on Tuesday.

Damned teachers and administrators, acting like high-school kids.


On Tuesday morning it was barely a hurricane. On Wednesday morning it was already a Cat 4. By Wednesday evening it was a Cat 5 and flying through the Gulf of Mexico. Halfway to its target of Texas, Rita is already huge, a Katrina rival. That's the good news; it may have peaked early.

Maximum sustained winds now around 176 mph, according to AccuWeather.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Last month, as Hurricane Katrina made its way through the Gulf of Mexico en route to a disastrous rendezvous with New Orleans, we made a crack about Katrina & The Waves, the one-hit band from the 1980s ("Walking On Sunshine").

Now, imagine you're Katrina Leskanich, the lead singer from that long-ago band.

The timing stars aren't with Leskanich; the singer is scheduled to release a solo album in October, and as she notes on her site:
The hits on this website went crazy recently, owing to the unfortunate coincidence of Hurricane Katrina. I cannot begin to tell you how much I wish the person who named that hurricane had chosen another name - as I have friends and family close to the affected areas, and have no desire to hear my name linked with such devastation and human misery.
Leskanich thought about delaying her album but realized the name Katrina will be, for our lifetimes, associated with a terrible storm. So the CD comes out Oct. 17, with a single ("They Don't Know") dropping Oct. 3. Even if it's good, will anyone play it?


Religious conservatives -- the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells of the allegedly civilized world -- have said that natural disasters are often proof of God's wrath on the godless.

Katrina hit New Orleans because Ellen Degeneres is from there and she's a lesbian. Makes perfect sense, yes?

(Robertson, in fact, was very explicit about Degeneres being to blame for Katrina, telling his 700 Club audience: "This is the second time in a row that God has invoked a disaster shortly before lesbian Ellen Degeneres hosted the Emmy Awards. America is waiting for her to apologize for the death and destruction that her sexual deviance has brought onto this great nation.")

Using Robertson's "logic," Hurricane Rita proves that God loves Key West and Cuba. The growing storm threaded the needle between those two godforsaken lands, sparing the lives of wretched communists and debauched homosexuals.

Going one step further: Rita is forecast to slam into Texas and pass almost directly over Crawford, home to President Bush's beloved ranch. What say you, Pat Robertson?


The best story no one's talking about is the arrest of David H. Safavian, 38, top administrator at the federal procurement office in the White House Office of Management and Budget. Safavian was busted on Monday; he resigned his WH job the previous Friday.

From The Washington Post:
The complaint, filed by the FBI, alleges that Safavian made repeated false statements to government officials and investigators about a golf trip with Abramoff to Scotland in 2002 ...

Accompanying Safavian and Abramoff on the 2002 trip to Scotland, for example, were Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Administration Committee, lobbyist and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed and Neil Volz, a lobbyist with Abramoff at the Washington office of Greenburg Traurig.

Like Abramoff, Safavian is a veteran Washington player. He is a former lobbying partner of anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and previously worked with Abramoff at another firm. Both he and Abramoff have represented gambling clients and Indian tribes with gambling interests.

At the time of the golf trip, Safavian was chief of staff at the General Services Administration, where ethics rules flatly prohibited the receipt of a gift from any person seeking an official action by the agency. When Safavian asked GSA ethics officers for permission to go on the trip, he assured them in writing that Abramoff "has no business before GSA," according to the affidavit signed by FBI special agent Jeffrey A. Reising.

Reising alleged, however, that Abramoff had by then already secretly enlisted Safavian in an effort to buy 40 acres of land that GSA managed in Silver Spring for use as the campus of a Hebrew school Abramoff founded. Safavian also allegedly tried to help Abramoff lease space for Abramoff's clients in an old post office building downtown.

On July 22, 2002, Abramoff sent Safavian an e-mail with a proposed draft letter that "at least two members of Congress" could send to GSA supporting the lease, according to the affidavit. "Does this work, or do you want it to be longer?" Abramoff asked.

Three days later, Safavian forwarded Abramoff an e-mail describing how an employee at OMB was resisting Abramoff's plan to lease space at the post office. "I suspect we'll end up having to bring some Hill pressure to bear on OMB," Safavian messaged Abramoff.
What once was a whiff of corruption within top GOP circles now starts to reek like a rotting corpse.


How to know this? Just tune in to Israel. From Reuters:
Iran may be as little as six months away from completing the know-how to build a nuclear bomb, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on Monday.

"The question is not if they are going to hold that bomb in 2009 or 2010 or 2011, the question is when they will have the full knowledge," Shalom told a meeting of U.S. Jewish community leaders in New York.

"According to our people, security and intelligence, they are very, very close. It may be only six months before they will have that full knowledge."

The authoritative, independent International Institute for Strategic Studies said this month Tehran is at least five years away from producing enough fissile material for a single bomb, and that 15 years was a more likely time frame.

Shalom did not say when he expected Iran to have the material to make a bomb.
Shalom. We appreciate the irony.


The death toll in Iraq has busted a new barrier. The U.S. military said Tuesday that four soldiers were killed in a pair of roadside bombings near Ramadi. The number of American soldiers killed in Iraq is now 1,903.

We know some right-wingers will claim that keeping watch on the toll is morbid and shows how much anti-war forces hate America. We ask those right-wingers: So, would you rather ignore the number and pretend there aren't dead soldiers?

The answer is probably yes -- or a soft-headed, mush-mouthed reply along the lines of, "Why doesn't the mainstream media report on the good news from Iraq?"

Want some "good" news? So far this year, "only" 2.12 American soldiers, on average, are dying every day in Iraq. Hey, it could be three or four.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Sometimes it's good to wander over to the public files of the spooks and see what they know about Those Other Countries, the ones that keep people awake and wary.

The CIA World Factbook is chockablock with facts. Did you know, for example, that North Korea has 4,810,831 men between the ages of 18-49 who are considered "fit for military service"? The country also has 1.1 million phones for its 22,912,177 residents. Interesting.

China. How many men are "fit for military service" in that huge country? Roughly 281,240,272 -- give or take a few hundred thousand. Again, this figure only represents men between the ages of 18-49 who are fit for military service. As in right now. According to the CIA, China has 342,956,265 men in that age group who are "available" to open canisters of whip-ass, should the need arise.

God bless the USA, then. It's our CIA, with its immense knowledge, that is able to provide such precise numbers. God bless the United States and its 67,742,879 men available to fight.

How many American men are "fit for military service," according to the Central Intelligence Agency? NA. Information not available. The spooks shrug their shoulders. We think about 281 million men in China, fit to fight.


Our friend Amy at the Snarling Marmot calls 'em Asshats of the Week, and we think this guy qualifies for such an award -- that, and a good ass-kicking.

An 18-year-old at Fleming Island High School in Florida decided to wear an especially nasty T-shirt to school. The Times-Union describes it this way:
The undershirt the white student wore had a confederate flag on the front with the words "Keep it flying." On the back, a cartoon depicted a group of hooded Klansmen standing outside a church, waving to two others who had just pulled away in a car reading "Just married." Two black men in nooses were being dragged behind.
A 17-year-old black student smacks Mr. Cracker upside the head, but no sense is imparted; for some there is no hope.

The white student was suspended for three days, but once his punishment was over he refused to return to school. "I'm not going to deal with it over some stupid shirt," he told the Times-Union.

Interesting factoids from the case:

•The white student doesn't want to press charges against the kid who kicked his ass.

•He said he was wearing the shirt because he planned to have it on at a party that same night -- a party to celebrate his enlistment in the Marines.

•Mr. Cracker claims he's not a racist:
"It's just, some people I hate, some people I don't get along with. And black people just happen to be the ones because they think they're better than everyone else."
Pity the boy isn't named in this story. Sounds like he needs more ass kicking.


A New Jersey gym teacher is busted for allegedly having sex with students.

Traci J. Tapp is 28. She was arrested last week and is free on bond after being charged with sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact and official misconduct.

Cops say Tapp fondled one student in 2001; had sex with another student "at her direction" in June 2001; and then "invited another 16-year-old male student to her home in 2003 and they engaged in multiple acts of sexual intercourse during one night."

The Hammonton News reports that this case has been simmering for months; the school board suspended Tapp in March, when allegations first surfaced.

No, we don't have any pictures. Yes, we do practice a double standard when the teacher is a woman and the students are teenage boys.


Holy pulled taffy. Batman is 77. Just think, instead of Adam West, we could be recalling Lyle Waggoner as the Caped Crusader. Holy Carol Burnett!


In Missouri it's been called Operation Bad Weed, and it happens every late-summer season. City, county and state police officers locate and destroy marijuana plants -- some growing wild, others carefully cultivated. We recall covering one operation in northern Arkansas that yielded hundreds of plants, some as tall as 15 feet, sporting enormous fan leaves.

But that's nothing compared to a bust made in Wallace, N.C. Cops there say they found a marijuana farm -- maybe 15 acres in size, with more than two tons of marijuana seized.

Get this: Cops say they responded to a phone tip and found the field, complete with huts, sleeping bags, camp stoves. But police on Monday said they had no idea who owned the land, and no arrests have been made. The biggest pot field in southeastern North Carolina, and no one claims to know the owner. Nice.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Not Limbaugh -- the real Rush, our friends from Canada, the band least loved by the women we know. Why this is we do not understand, but the bigger tragedy is Rush not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The nominees for the Class of 2006 include J. Geils Band, John Mellencamp, the Patti Smith Group, Chic, Joe Tex, Miles Davis, Cat Stevens, Blondie, the Paul Butterfield Band, the Dave Clark Five and the Sir Douglas Quintet.

Holdovers from previous years include Black Sabbath, Lynyd Skynyrd, the Sex Pistols and the Stooges.

Missing entirely: Pat Benatar, Alice Cooper, Van Halen, Yes, Genesis, Cheap Trick, Ozzy Osbourne, Ted Nugent, Joan Jett, ELO, Heart -- and Rush.

No offense, but J. Geils? The Dave Clark Five? Cat Stevens? They get nods and Rush gets snubbed? Is this what rock and roll has been reduced to -- pussy pop grabs history while guitars and the best drums in the world are ignored?

Don't even get us started on Chicago, The Carpenters, Blondie and Dire Straits being invisible to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. No wonder Cleveland has such a loser rep.