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Archive for December 18th, 2007

Finally we may found out how Rep Young did it

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That is, how he changed the contents of a bill after the bill was finalized. From TPMmuckaker:

We may finally get some answers about how Rep. Don Young (R-AK) managed to change the text of a bill after it was passed by Congress in order to benefit a major campaign contributor.

In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) called for the creation of a select committee comprised of both representatives and senators to investigate the miraculous change to the 2005 transportation bill.

To review the circumstances of Young’s extra-Constitutional wizardry: Young, then the chairman of the House transportation committee, inserted a $10 million earmark to widen I-75 in Florida’s Collier and Lee Counties in the 2005 bill. The project was supported by local officials. That was the version passed by Congress. But because of Young’s unique position, he was able to make a crucial change: the bill later signed by the President had different language, directing the $10 million to an I-75 interchange at Coconut Road. That project had been opposed by local officials, but aggressively backed by real estate mogul Daniel Aronoff, who’d thrown a $40,000 fundraiser for Young that year.

This August, we plowed into the 800-page 2005 bill to see whether there had been any other substantial changes. We found that out of approximately 6,370 earmarks, Young’s had been the only to undergo such a change. It’s unclear how Young managed that feat, and he’s refused to answer reporter’s questions about it.

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 December 2007 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Congress

Speaking of recent history,…

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 December 2007 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Movies, Video

And, speaking of recent history,…

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Here’s a look back and ahead:

Year end is a good time to look back and reflect on what’s ahead. If past is prologue, however, the outlook isn’t good, and nothing on the horizon suggests otherwise. Voters last November wanted change but got betrayal from the bipartisan criminal class in Washington. Their attitude shows in an October Reuters/Zogby (RZ) opinion poll with George Bush at 24% that tops Richard Nixon’s worst showing of 25% at his lowest 1974 Watergate point. And if that looks bad, consider Congress with “The Hill” reporting from the same RZ Index that our legislators scored a “staggering 11%, the lowest (congressional) rating in history,” but there’s room yet to hit bottom and a year left to do it. Why not with lawmakers’ consistent voter sellout and failure record that keeps getting worse.

It’s been that way ever since 9/11 with both sides of the aisle complicit with the administration. This article looks back at the record, and year end is a good time to review it. It’s hard imagining another as bad with a President defiling the law and once telling Republican colleagues the Constitution is “just a goddamned piece of paper.”

He didn’t just say it. He governs by it, gets away with it, and former Defense Department analyst Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, says “a coup has occurred (with another to come from) the next 9/11….that completes the first (that’s) seen a steady assault on every fundamental (aspect) of our Constitution (to create) an executive government (to) rule by decree” no different from a police state.

Author Naomi Wolf spells it out in her April, 2007 Guardian article – “Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps.” In it, she argues the Bush administration is following the same script any “would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms,” and she lists them. They range from “invoking a terrifying internal and external enemy” to “creat(ing) a gulag” to spying on everyone to harassing opposition to controlling the media to calling dissent treason to “suspend(ing) the rule of law.” She also notes how much “simpler” it is to shut down democracy than “to create and sustain” it, and that’s today’s threat.

It’s not with jackboots in the streets but by a steady “process of erosion” with the public largely unaware and distracted by media mind manipulators. It’s happening today, and Wolf sounds the alarm with the words of James Madison saying “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands….is the definition of tyranny,” and that’s the condition now in America. This article reviews the record for the past seven years. It’s not pretty.

Even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, (unlike every Pope in memory) condemned it in a wide-ranging UK Muslim magazine interview. It was quoted in a November 25 Sunday Times column headlined “US is ‘worst’ imperialist” and wields its power more reprehensibly than Britain ever did in its heyday. He explained that American overseas adventurism led to “the worst of all worlds” and expressed pessimism about the current state of western civilization and Washington’s own misguided sense of mission.

He critiqued the “war on terror” and stated America lost the moral high ground post-9/11 and needs to launch a “generous and intelligent programme of aid to the (nations it) ravaged;….check (its) economic exploitation of defeated territories” and demilitarize them. He called the West fundamentally adrift and our “definition of humanity (isn’t) working.” He denounced America’s violence and belief it can solve problems left for “other people (to clean up and) put….back together – Iraq, for example.” Another is the condition at home.

Since taking office in January, 2001, George Bush signed a blizzard of Executive Orders and attached dozens of “signing statements” to hundreds of law provisions even though nothing in the Constitution allows this practice, and the Supreme Court banned line-item vetos. He continues to do it while Congress and the courts condone his claiming unconstitutional “unitary executive” authority to ignore the law and do as he pleases in the name of “national security” on his say alone.

It began on 9/11 when….

Continue reading. It’s a long and careful article, well worth reading…

Written by LeisureGuy

18 December 2007 at 12:28 pm

Dry-aging beef at home

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I’m looking around at dry aging a roast, and came across this interesting note from Cook’s Illustrated. I’ll have to try this:

Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Steaks

The Problem: Pan-searing a thick-cut steak (a steak almost as thick as it is wide) presents a unique challenge: How to keep the perimeter from overcooking while the very center of the steak reaches the desired temperature.

The Goal: We wanted our steak to have a good crust and medium-rare center, without a wide band of dry, gray meat between the two.

The Solution: We found it was essential to sear the steaks quickly to keep the meat directly under the crust from turning gray. The key was to start with dry meat. We moved the steaks straight from the fridge into a 275-degree oven, which not only warmed them to 95 degrees but also dried the meat thoroughly. At this temperature, when the steak met the hot skillet, it developed a beautiful brown crust in less than four minutes, while the rest of the meat stayed pink, juicy, and tender.

Our steaks spend a long time in a warm oven, yet taste more tender than traditionally prepared steaks, which can be tough and chewy.

The explanation? Meat contains active enzymes called cathepsins, which break down connective tissue over time, increasing tenderness (a fact that is demonstrated to great effect in dry-aging meat). As the temperature of the meat rises, these enzymes work faster and faster until they reach 122 degrees, where all action stops. While our steaks are slowly heating up, the cathepsins are working overtime, in effect “aging” and tenderizing our steaks within half an hour. When our steaks are cooked by conventional methods, thier final temperature is reached much more rapidly, denying the cathepsins the time they need to properly do their jobs

Written by LeisureGuy

18 December 2007 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Beef, Daily life, Food, Recipes

The Fightin’ Twins

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 December 2007 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Wax-cylinder recordings of Christmas music

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You can listen here to a selection of carefully restored wax-cylinder recordings. Via Boing Boing.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 December 2007 at 11:47 am

Posted in Music

A history of the FISA fight

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Glenn Greenwald has an excellent column detailing the recent history that led to Dodd’s stand and Harry Reid’s pulling the current FISA bill. It clearly shows the power of the Internet—the blogs, the ease with which people can communicate among themselves and to their Representatives and Senators—and it provides some hope that the fight, which continues, will be resolved in favor of the US Constitution. Here’s what he writes:

It is absolutely true that yesterday’s victory in forcing Harry Reid to pull the FISA bill from the Senate floor is temporary. Allies of the administration and lawbreaking telecoms will spend the next several weeks plotting to overcome the obstacles thrown in their path yesterday and, like a weed that has been cut but not uprooted, will return in January to try again.

Opponents of telecom amnesty and warrantless surveillance ought to and likely will use that time, too, to strengthen the opposition and improve the strategy. There will be ample time for all of that. But yesterday’s victory, while limited, is still very significant in several key respects, particularly in understanding how and why it happened — i.e. the source of the successful opposition — and it is worth taking a step back to chronicle what took place.

On October 18, it was announced that Dick Cheney and Jay Rockefeller had reached an agreement on a new FISA bill that would dramatically expand the President’s warrantless surveillance powers beyond what the original FISA law provided. It also would provide full-scale retroactive immunity for all telecoms which participated in the President’s illegal spying efforts, a gift that would effectively end all efforts to investigate the administration’s illegal spying programs and hold the lawbreakers accountable.

That day, The Washington Post announced that “Senate Democrats and Republicans reached agreement with the Bush administration” which “would wipe out a series of pending lawsuits alleging violations of privacy rights by telecommunications companies that provided telephone records, summaries of e-mail traffic and other information to the government after Sept. 11, 2001, without receiving court warrants.”

The Rockefeller-led Senate Intelligence Committee, within a matter of a day or so, quickly passed the White House’s desired bill, one which The New York Times, the next day, revealed had been secretly worked on for months by Rockefeller and, through emissaries, Dick Cheney. As Russ Feingold said yesterday, the Rockefeller proposal passed by the Intelligence Committee “simply gives the Administration everything it was demanding, no questions asked.”

By that point, both prongs of the White House’s FISA demands — increased surveillance powers and telecom immunity — seemed to be an absolute fait accompli. It would all follow the same depressing pattern we’ve seen all year long whereby the President easily gets everything he demands from the Congress.

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 December 2007 at 11:17 am

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