Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why Alito must not be confirmed

Well hell, here I was about to write a thoughtful, reasoned, information-rich, and witty essay telling people that Alito is wrong for the Supreme Court and will gut our civil liberties, when lo and behold, ReddHedd from Firedoglake (a very insightful website, by the way-- her and Jane Hamsher are pretty good at this bloggy stuff) already has. Unfortunately, her writing is so thoroughly studded with important hyperlinks that copying a quote really doesn't do it any justice. Just go read it yourself.

On a side note, even though I'm not in total agreement with her, she provides possibly the most cogent argument for abortion rights I've ever heard:
I don't want people to have more abortions. If I could, I'd wave a wand and make all babies be born under ideal circumstances to parents who would love and care for them.

But I happen to live in the all-too-real world, where sexual abuse and violent rape and all those other nasty things happen, where children wake up and wonder if there will be any food for them to eat -- right here in the US of A -- and where other things that most people can never even imagine happen within families and neighborhoods and all over the place.

And I know enough to know this: I don't speak for God, and neither should anyone else. That's why it is an individual choice -- you make peace with your own soul, your own faith and your own family and friends based on your own, individual and hideous circumstances in each case -- and beyond that, it's no one's business. And I say this as someone who struggled with fertility issues for close to seven years and fully understands how very precious that life is. But I've seen enough horrible things in my life in the law to know that there are just some circumstances where you cannot know unless you happen to be walking in those particular shoes...those very dismal, very difficult shoes.

Gambling with this right is not something anyone sensible should do, given the long-term implications and the horrible circumstances we saw in this country when illegal abortions were being performed. A vote for Alito is a vote for the back alley, plain and simple.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Canadian Elections

I know Canada isn't exactly the favorite country for many on this blog, but Americans (yes, even Texans) have to face the fact that Canadian politics mean more than any other country for the US. We are socially and economically (as well as geographically, of course) bound to Canada like no other country, so what happens there affects us in palpable ways.

It looks, at this point, barring extraordinary circumstances, that the Liberal party's 13 year reign in the parliament is coming to an end tonight. The Conservatives (aka. "Tories") nailed them on corruption allegations and came out on top (well, sort of-- the Tories actually will have a plurality, not a majority, but it's enough in Canada).

I know many will disagree with me, but I say good for the Tories. I don't like the Conservative platform, and I don't think they're the party to move Canada forward. I think they're militaristic, selfish, and overly nationalist. But, the ends don't justify the means. No matter how good your ideas are, if you can't keep your nose clean then you don't deserve to rule.

Furthermore, corruption and lawbreaking erode the rule of law and wipe away accountability. The natural result, therefore, is a party that is a) more authoritarian, and b) more incompetent. The natural link between authoritarianism and incompetence is something Josh Marshall pointed to a week or os ago; I'm not gonna go find the link, but I'd suggest taking a look at TPM. I don't know if those traits have already begun to appear in the Liberal party, but if haven't yet, then they would have if the Liberals weren't held accountable for their transgresses.

As we know with the American Democratic party, nothing cleans up a party like getting burned in an election because of internal scandals. The Liberals will be back, cleaner and better than before, and Canada will be the better for it, even if it means dealing with the Tories for a while.

Chris Matthews: Brown-nose Commando of the "Liberal Media"

Here's the host of Hardball on the day W "landed a plane" on the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq (the link has so much more):
"We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple."

Of course, this is coming from the same guy who said a month ago that if W's gamble to create a democracy in Iraq works, then "he belongs on Mt. Rushmore." I guess Truman and Marshall get a fruit basket for creating two.

Mr. Matthews, the President's proctologist just called. He says he's found your glasses.

Reporters are not stenographers

Atrios nails the problem with the Media's practice of reporting without verifying the facts (aka. stenography):
"Despite how some like to think of themselves, reporters are not passive conduits of information. They choose their sources. They choose the quotes. They decide when a source has been full of shit so many times that, if they care, they stop going to them for information.

More than that, from the perspective of the reader when the journalist passes on the quote without question or any rebuttal or refutation, the journalist is implicitly putting his/her stamp of authentication on it."

Sounded pretty obvious after you read it, eh? That right there, folks, is why Atrios is one of the most highly trafficked sites on the internets.

State of the Union predictability

Since someone let the cat out of the bag, and the media has already found out what W will be touting in his State of the Onion address (yes, that was intentional misspelling), I'll go ahead and offer you a great analysis of W's craptacular Health Savings Accounts by Ezra Klein (c/o TPM).

Great for big business, sounds "responsible" yet screws the average joe: talk about "second verse, same as the first"!

Ford's "Way Forward": Another Great Leap?

It was announced today that Ford Motor Company will be canning as many as thirty thousand people over the next 6 years. NPR said this morning that such a number represents about 20% of their workforce. The stated objective of the cuts is to offset a $1.6 billion loss in domestic sales.

I hate to poop on Ford, as I understand they typically treat their employees a little better than many other companies, but this is a raw deal for the workers. For one, Ford is actually still profitable; the losses they sustained domestically are more than offset by good profits abroad. Second, if the losses are anyone's fault, it's the fault of people at the top of the company, not the bottom, but it's the plant workers lining up at the unemployment office. Not to mention the fact that Ford is one of many companies facing massive pension debts, meaning Ford workers may not get their retirement money.

Thus it's worth asking: what's happening to, say, Ford's CEO, the person who actually is ultimately responsible for the company's failures? Well, he has decided to forego his salary every year since he's been there, so he must be taking a hit for the team, too, right? Not so much. It appears that CEO William Clay Ford Jr. has raked in $53 MILLION over the last three years in stock options, including $18 million last year alone.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Abramoff spin in the news

Unreal. From Ed Rogers, a Republican lobbyist, on Hardball:
Look, this is going to come out. Nobody is going to keep it a secret. Jack Abramoff is so radioactive—I've got Jack Abramoff fatigue already. I mean, good grief, he didn't kill anybody. Maybe that one guy in Florida.


[by the way, here's the background on that last comment]

And for an example of how actual reporters are skewing the story, here's an AP story, discussed and disected by Josh Marshall. It's pretty sick how misleading the story is.

Abramoff and the Zombie Lie

By now most of you probably know about the lobbying and corruption scandal going on surrounding super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Predictions are that between half a dozen and several dozen Republicans in Washington could get burned by Abramoff's decision to flip and testify to the grand jury about his relationships on Capitol Hill and, to a lesser degree, in the White House. There is one undebatable fact that is both the most significant aspect of the story, and the one the media is for some reason hellbent on hiding:

The Abramoff affair is an exclusively Republican scandal.

Abramoff lavished figures like Tom Delay, Dennis Haster (the Speaker of the House, arguably the second most powerful man in Washington after the President), and Bob Ney, yet he never gave a dime to Democrats. Not one penny.

Yet there remains the great lie being told not only by politicians with a vested interest in misinformation, but by media figures too biased or lazy or credulous to see the truth, namely the lie that Abramoff or "Abramoff-related Indian tribes" gave money to members of both parties. This is what people like Atrios are calling "the Zombie Lie"-- no matter how many times you refute it and kill it, it keeps coming back.

Bloomberg News does a pretty good job of cutting through the crap and showing what is really going on here. From their article:
Of the top 10 political donors among Indian tribes in that period, three are former clients of Abramoff and Scanlon... All three gave most of their donations to Republicans -- by margins of 30 percentage points or more -- while the rest favored Democrats.

Abramoff faces allegations that he bilked the casino-owning tribes out of millions of dollars and attempted to corrupt public officials. E-mails released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee during a year of hearings offer evidence that he directed the tribes to donate funds to specific lawmakers.

Abramoff's tribal clients continued to give money to Democrats even after he began representing them, although in smaller percentages than in the past.

This portion outlines the issues at stake rather well. First, remember what the scandal is about, and what it's not about. It's not about Indian tribes or anyone else (including Abramoff) giving money to politicians. That's perfectly legal, and has been a central aspect of the political workings in Washington for a long time (the term lobbying, in fact, dates from the Grant Administration, when people waited in the lobby of a famous hotel to catch the president on his way out).

Rather, this scandal is about lobbyists and operatives buying favors, i.e. bribery, and politicians receiving illegal contributions by laundering money through a lobbying machine run by Abramoff. Now, it's no secret that in 1994, when the Republicans seized control of Congress, they designed "the K Street Project" as their long-term strategy for holding onto power. The K Street Project is a coordinated attempt by Republicans to infiltrate and coerce "K Street", or the lobbying sector in Washington, into giving as much of their money as possible to Republicans. Part of that tactic involves bullying the lobbyists into not supporting Democrats, part of it involves installing Republican operatives (like Jack Abramoff) in high-powered lobbying positions, and part of it, inevitably, involves granting favors to the more obedient lobbyists in return for their support (in whatever form that might take).

It doesn't exactly take a genius to understand that such a tactic lends itself to corruption and bribery. And that's exactly what happened in the Abramoff matter.

Now, looking at the above quote, notice that the tribes Abramoff consulted had always given to Democrats, but gave substantially less to them once he attached himself to said tribes. What that clearly means is that Abramoff was not directing them to give money to Democrats; in fact, he was doing exactly the opposite i.e. directing them NOT to give to Dems, which was all part of the K Street Strategy.

This scandal is a Republican scandal. Republicans devised it 12 years ago. Republicans executed it. Republicans have reaped its benefits.

Metonymy Gone Bad

metonymy: n. Rhet. the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part, as "scepter" for "sovereignty." [The Random House College Dictionary]

[from the movie "Canadian Bacon" (1995)]
Boomer: The capital Toronto.
RCMP Officer at Headquarters: No, the capital of Canada is Ottawa.
Boomer: Yeah, right. Do we look that stupid? Ottawa!
Roy Boy: Nice try, Dudley.

This is a gaff that, were any layman to make it, would be perhaps funny, but it's not exactly super-common knowledge. Robert Kagan, however, is a world affairs columnist for the Washington Post. He really should know better. Kagan writes:
In East Asia, meanwhile, U.S. relations with Japan grow ever closer as the Japanese become increasingly concerned about China and a nuclear-armed North Korea. China's (and Malaysia's) attempt to exclude Australia from a prominent regional role at the recent East Asian summit has reinforced Sydney's desire for closer ties.

As Matt Yglesias snarkily comments, "But what do they think in Canberra?"

Canberra, not Sydney, is the capital of Australia.

my bad Joe

Sorry I haven't been keeping up with the site lately, things have been hectic with me trying to get on my feet at work. There's a lot to talk about, though, and I wanna get onto that ASAP. If I'm thinking right, then the first matters on deck are Alito and whether judges' views in important in confirmation hearings, Abramoff and the "Zombie Lie," and the Washington Post's recent woes, including what I call "Metonymy Gone Bad."

In the meantime, a question: have any of you seen Brokeback Mountain? How was it? I'm hoping to see it in the next week or so, and I hear it's great, but ya never know.

Also, who are your picks for the Oscars?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

cah tahk

So I don't usually talk about cars very much. To be honest, I'd love to live somewhere where I didn't need one; I hate the damn things. At the same time, I have to appreciate the auto industry's ability to recycle ideas and sell them and new and cool... even badass, with umlauts and everything.

Take, for instance, the new Dodge "Magnum." The title just screams macho, badass, "watch out, sucka."

But ya know, I can't help but keep thinking that this hot new machismo-mobile reminds me of something. I just can't quite put my finger on it...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dean lays the smackdown

Here's a hilarious clip of Howard Dean clowning Wolf Blitzer on national television. Blitzer tries spouting off that ridiculous Republican talking point that Democrats are involved in the Abramoff scandal, and was visibly surprised to find out that he "doesn't know Jack" about the Abramoff affair. Watch Blitzer's face as Dean shoots him down.

At least we can still rely on Dr. Dean to set the record straight.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I dedicate this post to all the sports commentator douchebags who said this one was in the bag, and had their nose so far up Matt Leinart's ass that they could watch the game through his navel.

All hail the 2005 NCAA champions...

The Texas Longhorns, biatch!!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Casting the ol' snapoon!


This is a letter to the editor in the Dallas Morning News about Governor Perry's record. If this is all true, then I'd say the facts speak for themselves.


Heh, indeedy.

(my impression of Atrios).

Strayhorn opens up Texas gubernatorial race

News out yesterday says that State Comptroller Carol Keeton Foghorn-Leghorn has decided to run for the governorship... as an independent. It must be noted that, as of yet, she is not on the ballot, as independents in Texas cannot begin collecting the requisite 46,000 signatures to get on until after both party primaries. The chances of her getting on, however, is pretty good.

This is potentially huge news for the election. Perry is suddenly stuck with a serious problem: he can no longer count on disillusioned Republicans to vote for him in the election if he wins the primary, as they now have a solidly conservative alternative. This is also huge news, I think, for Kinky Friedman. The man who would've been merely a Democratic spoiler in a 3-person race has a much bigger shot at taking it all in a 4-person one.

I still have yet to be convinced that the Kinkster is worth considering as a serious candidate (he doesn't seem to have a plan for anything other than appointing Willie Nelson as head of the Texas Rangers, and his decision to take on Tom Delay's attorney as his campaign advisor gives me further pause), and Governor Goodhair is, of course, as useless as a 1-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. Strayhorn, meanwhile, fully embodies the bigotry and intolerance we've all come to expect from the Texas Republican party by revoking the Unitarian-Universalist Church's tax-exempt status, claiming that it's not really a religious institution because it "does not have one system of belief."

What's your take on this whole poopstorm?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

more New Year's

I can see you!
Happy New Year, everyone! Here's to NCAA championship trophies in Austin, a Texas Tech and Notre Dame bowl win, and the onset of authoritarianism! Bottoms up and asses in the White House!