"Duct Tape Bandit" pleads guilty

Just In Time For Annual Hudson School District Meeting

Kentucky's infamous "Duct Tape Bandit" is heading to prison.

Last August Kasey Kazee gained international notoriety after robbing a liquor store with his face wrapped in duct tape.

Tuesday was the final chapter in the story. With a clear face, Kazee pleaded guilty to second degree robbery. Gone are the scars that once existed from duct tape that wrapped his face.

Kazee walked into Shamrock Liquors in Catlettsburg with his face wrapped in duct tape and his shirt pulled over his head. He then threatened to kill the clerk, telling her he had a gun.

Kazee was the one who ended up on the short end of the stick when store manager Bill Steele chased him out the door with a club. Even after getting caught tape-faced, Kazee denied the act in his now world famous tirade.

"Look at me. Do I look like a duct tape bandit? I'm not no duct tape bandit," Kazee said in a jailhouse interview.

"Even though it's kind of comical, Mr. Kazee is a very dangerous man. He had a previous robbery charge from 2001 and was out on parole on that when he committed this crime," said David Justice, Commonwealth Attorney.

Has The GOP Boogieman Gone Flaccid?

"Today's GOP spends so much time fretting about how to relive the Reagan heyday, it has failed to do him credit by laying out its own plans for today's unique challenges. It remains in hock to interest groups, running ads about sanctuary cities as Americans curse over gas prices. In a repeat of 2006, it spends more time trying to scare voters about Democrats than defining itself. It refuses to give up the earmarks that are a symbol of its worn-out reign."

Kimberley Strassel

A White House Of Cards

Another Fine RNC Whine - Not Enough Tax Dollars for Their Convention

RNC Hosts Disappointed With Lack Of State Help

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) ― The local committee hosting the Republican National Convention says it's disappointed the state didn't follow through on a promised financial guarantee.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Jeff Larson, chief executive of the Minneapolis Saint Paul 2008 Host Committee, told Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders the state's failure to offer financial backing in the event of a cash flow shortage "creates a serious risk of breach of our agreement with the RNC."

Larson asked state and local leaders to find an alternative way to fulfill the state's commitment. In a phone interview on Friday, he didn't offer suggestions but said he hoped "creative minds can come together."

As the host committee was trying to lure either the Democratic and Republican National Conventions to St. Paul, it negotiated a package that included a state commitment to back the committee's fundraising with a letter of credit that would be executed if there's a cash flow shortage.

"The commitment of this guarantee by the State was a critical element in the Republican National Committee's decision to award the 2008 Convention to Minneapolis and Saint Paul," Larson wrote in the letter, dated May 21. The convention will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul from Sept. 1-4.

The Legislature didn't pass a bill seeking a $39 million letter of credit in 2007. And in the 2008 session that ended Sunday, a smaller amount of $14 million wasn't approved, either.

Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said in an e-mail Friday that the governor had "repeatedly and directly" asked the Legislature to secure financial backing for the committee.

"Those requests were rejected by DFL legislative leaders, including when the request was made during the final negotiations to close up the budget," McClung wrote. "This was particularly frustrating because the Department of Finance said that the transaction would be revenue neutral and would not impact the state budget."

Through a spokesman, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, a Minneapolis Democrat, said: "The line of credit for the Republican National Convention was included in the House tax bill. In the end, the House, Senate and Governor's office could not reach an agreement on this issue."

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said the line of credit was included in a tax bill that Pawlenty vetoed during the 2007 legislative session. "We didn't see any reason to do it again," Pogemiller said.

The host committee is obligated to raise $39 million for the convention; but the committee has an end goal of $58 million to cover operational costs. Larson said fundraising is on track, and the committee anticipates it will raise 80 percent of its $39 million contractual commitment by June 15.

Larson said the state's inaction isn't likely to have financial consequences for the convention; the last two Republican National Conventions have had letters of credit that weren't drawn upon.

But Larson takes issue with the principle behind the commitment. In his letter, he wrote: "Minnesotans are well known for honoring their commitments. It gives us grave cause for concern when the five highest ranking public officials in our State are unable to make good on a commitment of this importance and significance."

The convention is expected to bring $150 million to $160 million in economic activity to the area and create 2,800 jobs, generating over $100 million in wages, Larson said.

Matt Burns, convention spokesman, said in an e-mail that the convention will be successful in September, but it's unfortunate that the state didn't meet its obligation.


There's No "US" in "Utopia"

"Real hourly wages for most workers, on the other hand, have risen only 1% since 1979, even as those workers' productivity has increased by 60%. What's more, American workers now clock more hours per year than their counterparts in virtually every other advanced economy, even Japan. And unless you haven't read a newspaper for 15 years, you already know what's happened to workers' health insurance and pension plans..."

"...What has overtaken America's working people is not a natural disaster like "globalization," and not even some kind of societal atavism in which countries regress mysteriously to their 19th-century selves. This is a man-made catastrophe, a result that proceeded directly from the deliberate beatdown of organized labor and the wrecking of the liberal state."

"...It is, in other words, a political disaster, with tax cuts, trade agreements, deregulatory measures, and enforcement decisions all finely crafted to benefit one part of society and leave the rest behind. Few of the voters who gave Ronald Reagan his landslide victories, it is fair to say, intended for this to be the outcome. They wanted their country to stand tall again, certainly; they wanted the scary regulators off their backs, maybe; but I can recall no conservative who trumpeted those long-ago elections – or any of the succeeding contests, for that matter – as a referendum on plutocracy."

"...So let us have one now. Instead of pleasant talk about "change" and feats of beer drinking at the corner tavern, let us hear our candidates address this greatest issue of them all: What kind of country are we to be? A land of equality? Or a bankers' utopia – where the law of the land has achieved mystical oneness with the higher law of classical economics, and devil take the bottom 80%."

Thomas Frank
Fighting Words
Read more @Wall Street Journal.

Counter point to Frank's column by James Pethokoukis @ US News & World Report.


Chris Matthews Tears Up Kevin James on Hardball

"...(Kevin) James goes off like fireworks, blasting Obama's willingness to talk to the nation's enemies and accusing him of policies detrimental to Israel. And Matthews asks him a simple question: What did Chamberlain do? You're defending a speech that equates Obama with him, so what was his sin?

James couldn't answer. He could bluster, sputter and spread fertilizer like a gardener, but he couldn't answer. This became painfully obvious each time Matthews doggedly repeated the question.

What Chamberlain did — he gave Hitler a chunk of Czechoslovakia in exchange for what he thought was "peace in our time" — is not some "Jeopardy!" obscurity. It is, rather, a pivot on which turned perhaps the bloodiest tragedy in human history. Yet Kevin James knows nothing about it.
If anything more aptly symbolizes the regression of conservatism since the age of Reagan, I am not aware of it.

Some will say it's unfair to paint thoughtful conservatives with the same brush one uses to tar this blowhard. I would suggest the very need to use that modifier speaks volumes..."

Leonard J. Pitts, Jr.
Read more.

There's No "Pragmatist" in "GOP"

"Consider independents, that key voting group and bellwether of the national mood. Analysts have pointed to the growing number of registered independents as proof the country is moving toward the "middle." But as pollster Whit Ayres notes, what primarily defines independents is that they are all "cynical about politics and politicians." They aren't ideological in any particular way – left, right or center. They are "pragmatists," says Mr. Ayres. "They want solutions to problems."

This is what Republicans haven't yet understood. Their failures in office kicked off this anger, and they remain its target. Yet they've been doing a remarkable impression of 1980s Democrats, who engaged in trivial warfare even as Ronald Reagan laid out his vision for the future.

Today's GOP spends so much time fretting about how to relive the Reagan heyday, it has failed to do him credit by laying out its own plans for today's unique challenges. It remains in hock to interest groups, running ads about sanctuary cities as Americans curse over gas prices. In a repeat of 2006, it spends more time trying to scare voters about Democrats than defining itself. It refuses to give up the earmarks that are a symbol of its worn-out reign."

Kim Strassel
Potomac Watch
Read more @ Wall Street Journal.


McCain's Spiritual Guides

The principle of the crusades was a savage fanaticism; and the most important effects were analogous to the cause. Each pilgrim was ambitious to return with his sacred spoils, the relics of Greece and Palestine; and each relic was preceded and followed by a train of miracles and visions. The belief of the Catholics was corrupted by new legends, their practice by new superstitions; and the establishment of the inquisition, the mendicant orders of monks and friars, the last abuse of indulgences, and the final progress of idolatry, flowed from the baleful fountain of the holy war. The active spirit of the Latins preyed on the vitals of their reason and religion; and, if the ninth and tenth centuries were the times of darkness, the thirteenth and fourteenth were the age of absurdity and fable.

Edward Gibbon
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire




"Some Christian ideals change with time and culture. Today, we do not share many of the assumptions of medieval Christians. The modern world exalts democratic individualism, religious liberty, and the separation of church and state. Urban II and the crusaders lived in a world with different ideals. Still, we consider it unfortunate that the crusaders never understood two basic truths: Christianity’s highest satisfactions are not guaranteed by possession of special places, and the sword is never God’s way to extend Christ’s kingdom."

Dr. Bruce Shelley
Christianity Today

Prosperity! What Is It Good For?

"We are a crazy country. The scariest idea we have is of success, prosperity and victory. Nobody wins wars. We have to finally get over that idea. Who gives a s— who wins a high school football game? I am not a competitive person, maybe because I was an only child, so I never had to fight for the second pork chop. I think it's bad manners to compete. Hillary Clinton's greatest vulgarity is her competitive spirit."

Bill Holm
Minnesota writer


Getting Hosed By Idealism

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. ... Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.' But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Like other American heroes -- Thomas Jefferson, for example, combined a disturbing tolerance for the violence of the French Revolution with the lifelong ownership of slaves -- King was not a simple figure. He inclined toward democratic socialism as the answer to poverty. In his opposition to the Vietnam War, he called America "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" and thundered that God might "break the backbone" of American power. Toward the end of his short life -- after years of water hoses and attack dogs, wiretaps and bomb threats -- King became increasingly isolated and depressed.

...Under King's leadership, the civil rights movement affirmed several principles: a belief that Providence favors justice and forbids despair; a belief that even the most bigoted white people have a core of humanity that might be touched and redeemed; a belief that American ideals were the ultimate answer to America's sins."

Michael Gerson
Read more @ Washington Post.

GOP Stands For Family Values

Fossella Is Said to Be Ending Re-election Bid

After more than two weeks of damaging and scandal-filled headlines, Representative Vito J. Fossella of Staten Island has decided not to seek another term in Congress, according to several people close to him.

Mr. Fossella, 43, has been the object of intense scrutiny since he was arrested in a Washington suburb on May 1 and charged with drunken driving. At the time of his arrest, his blood alcohol level was reportedly 0.17 percent, twice the legal limit in Virginia. Under that state’s law, he faces a mandatory five days in jail if convicted.

A week after his arrest, Mr. Fossella, the only Republican representing New York City in Congress, disclosed that he had been on the way to visit Laura Fay, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. He acknowledged that he and Ms. Fay had had an affair and that they were the parents of a 3-year-old daughter.

Read more @New York Times.


Bush Makes Ultimate Sacrifice for Our Troops

From Washinton Post:

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 14, 2008; Page A02

President Bush said yesterday that he gave up golfing in 2003 "in solidarity" with the families of soldiers who were dying in Iraq, concluding that it was "just not worth it anymore" to play the sport in a time of war.

"I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf," Bush said in a White House interview with the Politico. "I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

Bush said he decided to stop playing golf on Aug. 19, 2003, when a truck bomb in Baghdad killed U.N. special representative Sergio Vieira de Mello and more than a dozen others.

He said he received word of the attack while playing golf during a stay at the family ranch near Crawford, Tex. Press reports at the time indicate he took the call from Condoleezza Rice, then his national security adviser.

"They pulled me off the golf course, and I said it's just not worth it anymore to do," Bush said in yesterday's interview.

President Bush made further sacrifices for our troops by taking up drumming and dancing.

"I've always thought anyone can make money. Making a life worth living, that's the real test."

Robert Fulghum

Populist Pitchforks Of America Arise!

"The state of the union is angry. Citizens are furious about gas prices and health-care costs, broken schools and property taxes. These are the leaky hydrants, the constant reminders that government hasn't done much for them lately. Their fury has bubbled as they've watched Washington obsess over itself – dealing out earmarks, paying off constituencies, launching probes into political enemies. Accomplishing zip.

This anger is the best way to describe today's political landscape. Ever since Republicans were routed in 2006, and more recently with their loss of three special elections, the party has been in a debate about what changed in the country and what to do in response. In the primaries, as Mike Huckabee pitched to evangelicals, Rudy Giuliani pitched to fiscal conservatives, and Mitt Romney pitched to anything that moved, some went so far as to declare the "death" of the Reagan coalition."

Kimberley Strassel
Potomac Watch

Read more @Wall Street Journal.


A Mellon For You Thoughts...

"(Andrew) Mellon's exceptionally long tenure as treasury secretary, from 1921 until 1932, serving three of America's most pro-business presidents, showed him adept at using public office for private gain. Like Dick Cheney, a continuing beneficiary of Halliburton largesse, he saw no contradiction between the two. An early proponent of the theory of supply-side economics, that cutting taxes on the rich would spur economic growth, Mellon anticipated by 60 years the pro-plutocrat policies of Reagan and Bush. As secretary, Mellon continued illegally to remain actively engaged in his business affairs, lobbying for tariffs to protect his firms and contracts to help expand them, while repeatedly lying to Congress and the press about his involvement.

In keeping with his distrust of government intervention (except in his favour) and fervent belief in inequality and social Darwinism (strains of thought used today to justify America's porcine corporate salaries and feeble social insurance system), Mellon chillingly rejected any notion that the government should intervene to help those ruined by the Crash of 1929, or those whose jobs and businesses were annihilated in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Speculators "deserved it"; while the unemployed "will work harder, lead a more moral life". Around this time, as criticism of Mellon grew, his son Paul saw this ditty written in a urinal: "Mellon pulled the whistle/Hoover rang the bell/Wall Street gave the signal/And the country went to hell." Cannadine perhaps fails to draw out how much Mellon's (lack of) policies towards the Depression discredited Republican laissez-faire economics for two generations, until their current vogue."

Mark Bearn
Book review of Mellon: An American Life by David Cannadine
Read view @ News Statesman