Monday, July 31, 2006

what do Republicans have against workers?

I mean, other than that workers actually earn their keep?

Yesterday the House passed a minimum wage hike. Sounds great, right? Though it is awfully weird that the Republicans would actually be willing to help out workers, since they fight minimum wage hikes every chance they get. And they use the same arguments and dire predictions every time. You know the ones, like "A minimum wage will hurt send prices through the roof" and "minimum wage hikes will cause unemployment to rise b/c business can't afford to hire as many people," that always turn out to be wrong.

Come to find out, the GOP, err, flavored the legislation to make it tastier for their fat cat contributors. Things like another cut in the estate tax. Partisan priorities are exposed pretty cleanly right there, I think: in order for Democrats to be able to protect workers, they have to let the Republicans pass some more cash back to the rich.

That's not all, though: Nathan Newman found another tasty morsel in the bill that lets people like the restaurant industry actually pay their workers less. Newman explains:
The federal minimum wage is explicit that states and local governments are free to create higher minimum wage rates than the federal level for any and all groups of workers. While the federal minimum wage allows employers to pay a lower wage to tipped workers, a number of states have eliminated this so-called tip credit on the assumption that consumers pay tips not to subsidize low-wage employers but to actually reward service.

But the new House bill would preempt those state laws and actually cut wages for tipped workers in states like California, Oregon and Washington where tipped workers would see a lower minimum wage rate imposed compared to what they were guaranteed under state law.

That's right, folks: the Republicans want to cut the wages of California waitstaff making $5.15/hour slinging blooming onions and getting treated like dirt. And Newman is being too kind, here: in fact, the GOP wants to cut workers' wages in Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

I'll say it again: why does the GOP hate workers so much? Why can't they improve workers' pay without figuring out some way to screw them or line their bosses' pockets in the process?

Update: And while we're on the topic, aren't the Republicans supposed to be for states' rights?

NYT backs Lamont

Trip out on that. The New York Times turns on Lieberman, endorsing Ned Lamont for the senate election in Connecticut:
“What kind of Democratic Party are we going to have?” he asked in an interview with New York magazine. “You’ve got to agree 100 percent, or you’re not a good Democrat?”

That’s far from the issue. Mr. Lieberman is not just a senator who works well with members of the other party. And there is a reason that while other Democrats supported the war, he has become the only target. In his effort to appear above the partisan fray, he has become one of the Bush administration’s most useful allies as the president tries to turn the war on terror into an excuse for radical changes in how this country operates.

Citing national security, Mr. Bush continually tries to undermine restraints on the executive branch: the system of checks and balances, international accords on the treatment of prisoners, the nation’s longtime principles of justice. His administration has depicted any questions or criticism of his policies as giving aid and comfort to the terrorists. And Mr. Lieberman has helped that effort. He once denounced Democrats who were “more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq” than on supporting the war’s progress.

At this moment, with a Republican president intent on drastically expanding his powers with the support of the Republican House and Senate, it is critical that the minority party serve as a responsible, but vigorous, watchdog. That does not require shrillness or absolutism. But this is no time for a man with Mr. Lieberman’s ability to command Republicans’ attention to become their enabler, and embrace a role as the president’s defender.

On the Armed Services Committee, Mr. Lieberman has left it to Republicans like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to investigate the administration’s actions. In 2004, Mr. Lieberman praised Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for expressing regret about Abu Ghraib, then added: “I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized.” To suggest even rhetorically that the American military could be held to the same standard of behavior as terrorists is outrageous, and a good example of how avidly the senator has adopted the Bush spin and helped the administration avoid accounting for Abu Ghraib.

Mr. Lieberman prides himself on being a legal thinker and a champion of civil liberties. But he appointed himself defender of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the administration’s policy of holding hundreds of foreign citizens in prison without any due process. He seconded Mr. Gonzales’s sneering reference to the “quaint” provisions of the Geneva Conventions. He has shown no interest in prodding his Republican friends into investigating how the administration misled the nation about Iraq’s weapons. There is no use having a senator famous for getting along with Republicans if he never challenges them on issues of profound importance.

If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today. But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support.

Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, seems smart and moderate, and he showed spine in challenging the senator while other Democrats groused privately. He does not have his opponent’s grasp of policy yet. But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut.

Of course, the editors are right, at the end of the day this isn't about the "anti-war" canard, although I think that would be a perfectly sufficient reason to boot him anyway (as an aside, there's some weird Vietnam rhetoric being thrown around Connecticut over Lieberman-- the liberal, former hippie insurgency, Holy Joe who supports the war because he doesn't want it to become Vietnam (because the problem with that war was, what, liberal opposition?), Joe the dove and RFK supporter during Vietnam-- it's all very confusing).

Rather, it's about Joe being an enabler for the Republican party. Despite what he'd have us believe, he's not the only war supporter in the party (there's also a little known senator named Clinton, not to mention nearly every senator eyeing the White House in '08 has given La Guerre Iraq at least 6 more months, essentially taking it off the table for this election... because they're spineless), but he is the only one who implies that it's unpatriotic or seditious to criticize the president's Iraq policy. In this modern world, where as Digby notes, conservatives consider bipartisaniship "date rape" a la Norquist, guys like Lieberman are only exacerbating the problem. Atrios mentions a perfect example:
Not enough has been said recently about Lieberman's membership in the "gang of 14," a bipartisan group of Republcian bullies and Democratic losers. Basically the Democrats in this group endorsed the very important principle put forth by the Republicans that the Republicans had the right to cheat. The principled Democrats in the gang managed to get the very important compromise which basically got the Republicans to promise to not cheat as long as the Democrats didn't give them a reason to ever want to.

Some principles.

Back to the NYT. Electorally speaking, this is huge, not because it will flip a lot of support to Lamont (though it probably will edge a handful a people in that direction), but because the NYT is broadly considered a "center-left" bunch, and the editorial board is even center-right. It represents exactly the type of people that Joe Lieberman considers his "base," and that he's relying on to pull him through both the primary and the general.

It must be noted, however, that the Hartford Courant endorsed Lieberman over the weekend. One can infer, then, the moderates-- at least the principled and informed ones, though probably the "squishy center" as well-- are split on Lieberman. And in the primary at least, a split center = victory for Ned Lamont.

Though I'm still not sure I'd put my money on Lamont in November, this race is definitely not a longshot anymore. And in fact, Lieberman is now the underdog in the primary.

Trip out on that.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I say Hezbollah, you say Hizbullah; I say Al Qaeda, you say...Hamas?

Josh Marshall points to this article by Michael Hirsh on why the President's policies in the War on Terrorism have proven so disastrous, i.e., that he often conflates the various terrorist organizations in the Middle East (who tend to have widely varying goals and abilities), as if they're all just newer sproutings from the same old Soviet monolith.

Remember that presidential candidate back in 2000 who was so ignorant of world affairs and so pitifully unqualified to head America's foreign policy that, when asked about various world leaders in an interview, he couldn't produce the names of even some of our staunchest allies?

Yeah, this is why we shouldn't have elected him.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

who does the president most remind you of?

Take the poll.

squawking chickenhawks

What did we ever do without Glenn Greenwald? Here is a great post of his today discussing the nuances of the term "chickenhawk," in response to the current clucking and flailing of, you guessed it, chickenhawks (in this case the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby).

The gist of Greenwald's argument: simply supporting military action despite having never served is not necessarily being a chickenhawk. Doing so and then condescendingly puffing your chest as if you're the one out there risking your tail, is.

As an aside, get this quote from Jacoby's article:
Kerry himself often played that card. ``I'd like to know what it is Republicans who didn't serve in Vietnam have against those of us who did," he would sniff, casting himself as the victim of unmanly hypocrites who never wore the uniform, yet had the gall to criticize him, a decorated veteran, for his stance on the war.

``Chicken hawk" isn't an argument. It is a slur -- a dishonest and incoherent slur.

So Kerry was the one "slurring" political opponents who, we assume, were offering perfectly valid and honest criticisms of his war stance (we can assume so since the Republicans are here an analog of Jacoby, and Kerry an analog of Jacoby's critics). That's rich.

I swear, what is it with these people? Up is down, good is evil, and bravery is cowardice in the twisted mind of the neoconservative. Must be from the same gene where they get their deafening screech and their rubbery spine.

Update: fixed the Kerry analogy to Jacoby's critics, so that it makes sense.

Red Raider offense spreads

Looks like Baylor's gonna adopt the spread offense of Texas Tech. Meanwhile, Kansas State is switching to an anti-passing D.

Behold, the legacy of the Leach.

And check out this article on Coach Leach and the Tech spread offense. An oldy but a goody.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jon Stewart on the veto

Via Crooks and Liars, freakin' hysterical. Stewart's usually good, but this is primo Daily Show.

minimum wage issues

Just a quick thought. This post on dKos got me thinking. When I started working in the restaurant industry 10 years ago, servers in Texas were earning $2.13 an hour. In Ohio, and I'll wager Texas as well, they're still making $2.13 an hour.

How many middle and upper class jobs do you think go a decade without any pay raise whatsoever?

Peggy Noonan: mistress of projection

because this op-ed is frickin' delusional. Either Peggy thinks all the hipsters are anti-science conservatives or she hasn't spent enough time contemplating the term "scientific consensus." Gag me with a spoon:
During the past week's heat wave--it hit 100 degrees in New York City Monday--I got thinking, again, of how sad and frustrating it is that the world's greatest scientists cannot gather, discuss the question of global warming, pore over all the data from every angle, study meteorological patterns and temperature histories, and come to a believable conclusion on these questions: Is global warming real or not? If it is real, is it necessarily dangerous? What exactly are the dangers? Is global warming as dangerous as, say, global cooling would be? Are we better off with an Earth that is getting hotter or, what with the modern realities of heating homes and offices, and the world energy crisis, and the need to conserve, does global heating have, in fact, some potential side benefits, and can those benefits be broadened and deepened? Also, if global warning is real, what must--must--the inhabitants of the Earth do to meet its challenges? And then what should they do to meet them?

Hey Peggy, ya know what the earth's inhabitants must--must-- do to meet the challenges of global warming? Listen to the f&%king scientists, that's what!
You would think the world's greatest scientists could do this, in good faith and with complete honesty and a rigorous desire to discover the truth. And yet they can't. Because science too, like other great institutions, is poisoned by politics. Scientists have ideologies. They are politicized.

Editorialists like P. Noon, however, have no ideologies and, thus, are not politicized. That's why they can take the complete and utter consensus of the scientific community and sweep it aside, having pierced through its facade and perceived it for what it is: a communist plot to undermine the automotive industry.
All too many of them could be expected to enter this work not as seekers for truth but agents for a point of view who are eager to use whatever data can be agreed upon to buttress their point of view.

Ah, yes, the great scientific liberal conspiracy, whereby the dastardly Ph.D's all get together and plan how best to insinuate liberal ideology into their findings, so that they might... uhh... err... *crickets chirping*... SCIENCE IS TAINTED!!!
And so, in the end, every report from every group of scientists is treated as a political document. And no one knows what to believe. So no consensus on what to do can emerge.

"Is treated." The passive voice is a great way to deflect blame by robbing verbs of their proper agents, in case "Peggy Noonan and other superbiased shills."

If global warming is real, and if it is new, and if it is caused not by nature and her cycles but man and his rapacity, and if it in fact endangers mankind, scientists will probably one day blame The People for doing nothing.

But I think The People will have a greater claim to blame the scientists, for refusing to be honest, for operating in cliques and holding to ideologies. For failing to be trustworthy. [emphasis added, to show the real choice picks of dumbassitude]

No Peggy, they're all going to have greater claim to blame you, for refusing to be honest and for holding to ideologies and failing to be trustworthy. You and hacks like you turn journalism on its head, spreading confusion instead of insight, lies instead of truth. You question the motives of disinterested experts and take the monied interests on their word. You shove the discourse as far to the right as you can, and then you call it "balance." Someday we may all pay dearly for your bias and incompetence, if you foil the best intentions of the scientific community by confusing the people into doing nothing.

the creation of a rightwing gasbag

This explains a lot. From Jerry Falwell's autobiography, c/o Power of Narrative:
There were times that Dad's pranks bordered on cruelty. One of his oil-company workers, a one-legged man he nicknamed "Crip" Smith, complained about everything. Dad and Crip's co-workers got tired of the old man's bellyaching and decided to take revenge. One morning Crip called in sick and Dad volunteered to send by lunch to his grateful but suspicious employee. Dad and his chums caught Crip's old black tomcat, killed it, skinned it, and cooked it in the kitchen of one of Dad's little restaurants. They called it squirrel meat and delivered it to Crip on a linen-covered tray. When Crip returned to work the next morning, Dad and his co-conspirators asked him how he liked his meal. They knew he would complain even about a free home-cooked lunch, and when Crip called it "the toughest squirrel meat" he had ever eaten, they were glad to tell him why.

What's most creepy about this excerpt, I think, is that Brother Jerry doesn't even seem to realize that this is wayyyy beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior. Did anybody read this and think, "whoa ho ho, that's a good one, Jer!" instead of, "Wow, what a f&%king psycho!"?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

CREW forces ARMPAC out of business

Wow, it's like Christmas around here this week! From CREW's website:
Washington, DC – Last night, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) released a conciliation agreement reached with Americans for a Republican Majority political action committee (ARMPAC) stemming from a complaint Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed against the PAC last August. As a result of CREW's FEC complaint, ARMPAC has agreed to pay a $115,000 civil penalty and go out of business. ARMPAC was created and led by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).

This is one of the 50 largest fines ever obtained by the FEC in its 30-year history.

The FEC found that:

--ARMPAC failed to report accurately nearly a quarter million dollars in contributions and expenditures during the 2001-2002 election cycle.

--ARMPAC failed to report nearly $325,000 in debts owed to 25 campaign vendors.

--ARMPAC improperly used over $200,000 in soft money to pay for federal election activity. In particular, ARMPAC improperly used over $120,000 in soft money to pay for GOTV activities in Texas immediately before the 2002 general election.

Just so we're all on the same page here, CREW stands for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a group that focuses on corruption, electoral fraud, campaign finance fraud, that sort of thing. They have their hands full.

ARMPAC, or Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, is the national version of TRMPAC, Tom Delay's PAC. You know, the one whose heads were indicted for laundering corporate soft-money contributions to Republican candidates (in contravention of what is pretty much Texas' only campaign finance law). The one started by the guy now facing criminal charges in Austin, who masterminded the mid-census gerrymandering in Texas.

Sometimes the good guys do win.

Lieberman sent packing?

Maude Lebowski: "You can imagine where it goes from here..."
The Dude: "He fixes the cable?"
Maude Lebowski: "Don't be fatuous, Jeffrey." --The Big Lebowski

Any of you interested in a great horse race should read up on the primary battle for CN-Senate between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont. It's a great story: an old, crotchety fogey whose political vision dimmed long ago, challenged by a fresh, baby-faced starry-eyed idealist. Or David and Goliath. Or something like that.

But it also has the gambling addict Republican with no chance of winning, whose own supporters are routing for Lieberman while he just slackjawedly watches the race.

And it has crazy big news to report today: Lamont has taken the lead. Lieberman still wins in a 3-way with the Republican and Lamont (from now on, we will refer to Lieberman as "Lucky Pierre"), but unless Lamont's surge (11 points in a month, and constantly rising since he entered) suddenly comes to a grinding halt right now, Lamont is now slated to win the Democratic primary.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chocola votes against stem cell bill

In case anyone heard about Yosemite Sam finally popping his veto cherry, now 6 years into his presidency, and started wondering about how our homefront reps voted, Count Chocola (R-Halliburton) voted a big fat no. This was on a bill to permit the allocation of federal monies to be used for expanding the number of embryonic stem cell "lines." As in, to improve the quality of the specimens and thus the research into a potentially life-changing and life-saving form of medicine.

And for all you naysayers out there, this bill specifies that only embryos already slated for destruction can be used, so your right-to-life issue with stem cells does not apply here. Chalk one more up to Chocola's near-perfect Bush shill voting record!

And speaking of Bush shill voting records, Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock) voted against it, too.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

oh it is on like donkey kong!!!

There's a lot of navel-gazing around here about how Chocola sooo unstoppable, and has soooo much money, and our district is soooo gerrymandered, and Donnelly will never pull off an upset. It appears, however, the the polls disagree (Cooper and Seacrest, MoE ~4.4%:
Chocola (R) 38
Donnelly (D) 48

Chocola's job performance:
Approve 34
Disapprove 60

I think I hear something, it's off in the distance. Do you hear that? ... ... ... SNAPPPPPP!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

credit where credit is due

The Washington Post editors get one right that other journalists earlier in the week botched:
SENATE JUDICIARY Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has cast his agreement with the White House on legislation concerning the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance as a compromise -- one in which President Bush accepts judicial review of the program. It isn't a compromise, except quite dramatically on the senator's part. Mr. Specter's bill began as a flawed but well-intentioned effort to get the program in front of the courts, but it has been turned into a green light for domestic spying. It must not pass.

the omnivore's dilemma

Yesterday we received our first shipment of fresh produce from a local farm. I was a little skeptical when we signed up, but I have to say I'm impressed with the variety and quality of what we got: broccoli, baby cucumbers, black raspberries, blueberries, sweet cherries, green beans, yellow squash, and 2 ears of corn, still in the husk. The berries are wonderful. Not bad for $15 a week!

So today, I decided to drive to the local farmer's market to see what kinds of meat I could get to supplement my omnivorous diet (Amber is vegetarian). I was a little disappointed at the selection (no fish, bummer), but they may have had more earlier in the day. Some of the meat, also, was quite expensive, especially the more "prepared" meats: the brats and sausages and hot dogs and whatnot. I did, however, score a dozen free-range eggs for $1.50, and a pork chop an inch thick and as big as my outstretched hand for a little over $2.

Why am I bothering with this whole process, when I could just go to the grocery store and get all this more quickly and cheaply? Well, I just finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, a book about the food industry in America. I would highly recommend it, as Pollan is not only an engaging writer, but an impressive investigator as well.

The book forces the reader (and interestingly, the writer as well) to confront head-on the ways in which we create and consume food, and presents a damning indictment of industrial agribusiness. Many of the foods we buy in supermarkets and restaurants are increasingly supplemented with unhealthy products. Produce, now grown on farms without livestock, and thus, without natural fertilizer, are increasingly enriched with synthetic fertilizers composed of... get this... fossil fuels, aside from all the pesticides and herbicides that are increasingly appearing in our water sources and even in our bodies.

Animals, however, are the worst abused, raised in truly tortuous conditions in feedlots that must resemble what Hell would be like if animals had such a thing. Even the most strident dominionist would have trouble justifying the kind of cruelty that industrial livestock face every day: Cattle spend their lives unable to move more than 5' in any direction, and fed things they aren't biologically designed to eat, like corn and beef fat, and frequently get sick (those, they need a constant dose of antibiotics and growth hormones). Chickens are cramped so close together that they go mad; feedlot workers have to cut off their beaks to prevent them from pecking to death and cannibalizing the chicken in front of them.

That being said, this isn't just an animal treatment issue. It's an economic issue, in that industrial feedlots and farms drive out of business the family farms that use healthier practices, while the farmers on industrial farms are increasingly unable to make ends meet. It's a public health issue, as the products of industrial farming are tainted with all sorts of unhealthy chemicals, the animals themselves have higher levels of e. coli and fattier meat, and the feeding of antibiotics to livestock leads to more resistance "super" germs. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow disease") is mainly caused by the industrial practice of feeding beef to cattle. And it's an environmental issue, as the pesticides and hormones eventually get into the water supply, ruining entire ecosystems, while the mind-boggling amounts of cow/pig/chicken shit produced on industrial feelots cannot be used to fertilize fields; there's just too much of it, so it actually ruins the soil. Instead, they have to pour it into massive shit "lagoons," which are highly toxic, breed diseases, and can rupture, allowing to shit to, again, drain into the water supply.

Tasty thought, eh?

Friday, July 14, 2006

with friends like Specter and the Washington Post...

This is big, people. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the guy who for years had made a big show of holding all sorts of hearings on this or that lawbreaking of the president, from L'Affair Plame to wiretapping, only to completely cave in the end and give the Bush administration everything it wants.

Well, it happened again, this time on domestic wiretapping. After the Supreme Court implicitly rejected W's warrantless wiretapping as illegal and overreaching his authority, Specter, after grandstanding about how he's "going to get to the bottom of this," introduced what the media, including reporters in some of the nation's biggest newspapers, has characterized as a "compromise" between himself and the Bush Administration.

Only it's nothing of the sort. Cue Glenn Greenwald, who's a constitutional law attorney and author of the NYT bestselling How Would a Patriot Act?:
In essence, Specter's bill repeals each and every restriction on the President's ability to eavesdrop, all but forecloses judicial challenges, and endorses the very theory of unlimited executive power which Hamdan just days ago rejected (and in the process, rendered the administration's FISA-prohibited eavesdropping on Americans a clear violation of the criminal law). With this bill, Specter -- the self-proclaimed defender of Congressional power -- did more to bolster the administration's radical executive power theories than anything the administration could have dreamed of doing on their own...

This is truly huge. Remember, abuse of domestic wiretapping is what Nixon was going to be impeached for 30 years ago. It was Watergate that led, ultimately, to Congress' decision to create a FISA court to oversee domestic wiretapping in the first place. It ain't like presidents have been good about keeping their wiretapping clean. And already, rumors abound of the nation's intelligence services being turned on peace activists, environmental groups, and even the Watergate offense, Republicans' political opponents:
However, such details could include politically explosive disclosures that the government has kept tabs on people it shouldn't have been monitoring.

In response, Josh Marshall muses:
It sounds like Landay's pointing to the possibility that the White House has been using the program to monitor political opponents. (I'm not sure how else to interpret that line.) And you get the sense he's doing more than speculating.

What's up with the media's spinning this as some sort of compromise, then? Greenwald has some ideas:
The media's reports on this travesty illustrate, yet again, that the single greatest problem our country faces -- the principal reason the Bush administration has been able to get away with the abuses it has perpetrated -- is because our national media is indescribably lazy, inept, dysfunctional and just plain stupid...

The reporters who write on these matters literally don't understand the issues they are reporting, even though the issues are not all that complicated. Notwithstanding the fact that this bill expressly removes all limits on the President's eavesdropping powers -- and returns the state of the law regarding presidential eavesdropping to the pre-FISA era, when there were no limits on presidential eavesdropping of any kind -- Charles Babington and Peter Baker told their readers in The Washington Post -- in an article hilariously entitled: "Bush Compromises On Spying Program" -- that "the deal represented a clear retreat by Bush" and that "the accord is a reversal of Bush's position that he would not submit his program to court review."

Anyone with a basic understanding of what FISA was and of the conflicts in play could read the Specter bill and see that the last thing it does is entail "compromises" on the part of the White House. Nobody who knows how to read could read that bill and think that. At this point, I believe they don't even read the bill. It's hard to see how they could read the bill and then write that article. Instead, it seems that they just call their standard sources on each side, go with the White House-Specter assessment that this is some grand "compromise" on the ground that it is a joint view of both warring sides, and then throw in a cursory ACLU quote somewhere at the end just to be able to say that they included some opposing views. But the reporters who are writing about this - and I mean the ones writing in the pages of our country's most important newspapers - don't actually have any idea what they're talking about.

Babington is the same reporter who falsely told his readers on the front page of the Post in March that the Republican "compromise" bill from the Senate Intelligence Committee (offered in lieu of an actual investigation into the NSA program) entailed substantial Congressional oversight of the program, even though a quick reading of the actual bill would have revealed that it entailed no such oversight. Representatives from Sen. DeWine and Snowe's office apparently told him what great oversight their bill provided and so he printed as fact what he was told.

After bloggers pointed out this error, the Post, several days later, was forced to issue a correction (appended to the top of the original article). But the same thing that happened there is happening here - Republican Senators and White House representatives with a vested interest in how the story gets reported characterize the bill in a certain way, and then lazy, uninformed reporters like Babington uncritically regurgitate that version as fact in the newspaper.

You gotta wonder what's wrong with these political journalists sometimes. I mean, if you're cutting corners on your job so badly that a segment of your customership decides that they could do your job better than you can (i.e., bloggers, talk radio, etc.), wouldn't you think that you'd, ya know, stop cutting corners? Maybe sit up in your chair, roll up your sleeves, and actually put some real effort in?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Bush and Cheney are right about almost everything!"

Ok, normally I don't link to blogs for the comments, but Bob Johnson at DailyKos posted what is on track to become the largest ever thread at dKos-- over 1300 comments!

The best part: it's a fake diary about how much he loves the Bush administration!

Bob got a couple of the bigger dogs on kos in on the act, and before they knew it, they had gotten hundreds of people posting on it. And I gotta tell ya, the comments are hysterical!

If you have time, I would strongly suggest wading in to check it out. It's a piece of blogging history.

anti-Christian conservatism

Shorter Mark Tooley: "why are these damn Evangelicals paying so much attention to their own eyes when they oughta be squinting at the splinters in their brothers' eyes?"

Hey Marky, I think brother Matthew has something to say to you, maybe somewhere around 7:3-5...

a note about the Times article

I wonder if the rightwingers are gonna get all up-in-arms over the Times "disclosing terror targets" and "hurting us in the War on Terra'". I can see it now, Michelle Malkin screaming,
"How dare you NYT?! You would let Al Qaeda know we're onto their nefarious schemes? Now, because of you, "Bean Festival" and "Tackle Shop" are doomed! [nose starts bleeding] TREASON! TREASON! AYAYAYALIOXENFREEEEEEE [ears bleeding] OYOYOYOYWHAAAAAHAHAHA!!!!"

the sheer breadth of the incompetence, part 56,098

You have got to be kidding me. From NYT:
It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified “Beach at End of a Street.”

But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child’s play: all these “unusual or out-of-place” sites “whose criticality is not readily apparent” are inexplicably included in the federal antiterrorism database.

The National Asset Database, as it is known, is so flawed, the inspector general found, that as of January, Indiana, with 8,591 potential terrorist targets, had 50 percent more listed sites than New York (5,687) and more than twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich place in the nation.

The database is used by the Homeland Security Department to help divvy up the hundreds of millions of dollars in antiterrorism grants each year, including the program announced in May that cut money to New York City and Washington by 40 percent, while significantly increasing spending for cities including Louisville, Ky., and Omaha.

Don't get me wrong, I like Indiana just as much as the next guy (not sure if that says much), but 8,591 terror targets? On the other hand, we do have a lot of Amish people and flea markets...

Here's a great paragraph later in the piece:
In addition to the petting zoo, in Woodville, Ala., and the Mule Day Parade in Columbia, Tenn., the auditors questioned many entries, including “Nix’s Check Cashing,” “Mall at Sears,” “Ice Cream Parlor,” “Tackle Shop,” “Donut Shop,” “Anti-Cruelty Society” and “Bean Fest.”

Am I missing something here? 'Cuz right now, I'm pretty sure this is a big fat smackdown to the "I know he's not great, but I still like the job he's doin' in the War on Terra'" crowd. Unless, of course, you work at Nix's Check Cashing.

And as an aside, what's up with the "Anti-Cruelty" Society? Is there a pro-cruelty lobby they're fighting against? Oh, wait...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

huge, sudden deficit reduction? hmm...

Amazing how the Administration can generate good news just in time for elections. Still, we went from the biggest deficit ever to a deficit "improvement" without any noticeable change in spending or any tax hikes?

Why is all this not computing?

Josh Marshall says:
The budget deficit last year was $318 billion.

In February, the White House 'estimated' (I use quotation marks because this is a standard trick for the Bush White House) the budget for 2006 would be $423 billion.

Today they released a new estimate that it would be $296 billion.

In other words, between February and July tax cuts reduced the deficit by a whopping $127 billion.

Would you fall for this?

Meanwhile, Think Progress notes that this will still be the 4th largest deficit of all time. The other three?:
1. 2004 (George W. Bush) $413 billion
2. 2003 (George W. Bush) $378 billion
3. 2005 (George W. Bush) $318 billion

Does W really think this is a winning issue, or that we're gonna buy the idea that we should be celebrating and congratulating him for merely turning a $284 billion surplus into a $296 billion deficit, instead of a $423 billion one?

NARAL endorses... Joe Lieberman?

Wow. I personally am not big on the whole abortion debate, being one of those people who doesn't really feel that my position on the subject really jives with either side, but if I were a pro-choice voter I'd be pissed about their official endorsement of Joe Lieberman (D-CT).

Planned Parenthood recently did the same thing.

Joementum (or as some bloggers snarkily put it, Joenertia) has, at best, a "spotty" record when it comes to abortion, being one of the crucial votes for cloture on the Senate filibuster against Justice Alito's confirmation. When it comes to striking down Roe v. Wade, Alito's about as much of a sure thing as you could possibly have.

Later, when asked whether hospitals should be compelled to provide Plan B (a contraceptive, not an abortifacient) to women admitted for rape, Joe famously said, "In Connecticut, it shouldn’t take more than a short ride to get to another hospital."

To put this in perspective, Lieberman is not, at the moment, running against a Republican; he's locked in a bitter primary against Ned Lamont, a dyed-in-the-wool progressive whose pro-choice cred is not in doubt. And it's not like Lamont is that much of a longshot:
Due to the anger many Democrats have about Lieberman’s continuing support for the war in Iraq, it is not clear whether Lieberman the three-term Senator will win re-nomination from his own party. The latest Rasmussen Reports poll on the Primary Race shows Lieberman nursing a six-point lead over Lamont. Lieberman had a 20-point lead over the challenger in our previous survey. [emphasis mine]

That's one hell of a surge, and this poll is from June 19th. The primary isn't until August 8th.

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake is on a tear over this.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sens. Kyl (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC) file bogus briefing to Supreme court

More shenanigans and chicanery from congressional Republicans. From John Dean (c/o FDL):
Last week, the Supreme Court issued its historic decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. There, it dealt a substantial blow to the Bush/Cheney Administration's plans for the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and, potentially, elsewhere as well - ruling out, for instance, the option of using military commissions without due process to try detainees.

The decision itself has been widely discussed. Less widely discussed, however, has been its backstory.

The Bush/Cheney Administration has been doing everything possible to keep its treatment of purported terrorist detainees out of the federal courts, particularly the Supreme Court. To assist the Administration, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jon Kyl of Arizona engaged in a blatant scam that was revealed during the briefing of Hamdan.

Senators Graham and Kyl not only misled their Senate colleagues, but also shamed their high offices by trying to deliberately mislead the U.S. Supreme Court. Their effort failed. I have not seen so blatant a ploy, or abuse of power, since Nixon's reign.

My apologies for the vagueness of the quote (Dean, apparently, is not big on thesis statements). So what did they do, you ask?

Essentially, they concocted a fake debate on the Detainee Treatment Act and slipped it into the record so that it appeared to have taken place "live." When the Supreme Court was handling the Hamdan case, Senators Graham and Kyl submitted an amicus brief (that is, a deposition from someone with expertise or special knowledge of the issue at hand) cited a debate the two had held on the Senate floor discussing the legislators' intent when passing the relevant bills (judges regularly consider the intent of the lawmakers when interpreting a law, as one would expect).

The problem? The debate was bogus. And it wasn't just bogus, it was concocted by the 2 Republican senators specifically in order to mislead the Supreme Court as to the true intent of the lawmakers. They made up the debate after the bill was signed, had it slipped into the congressional record in such a way that it appeared to have actually occurred at the time, and then cited it to the Court as evidence that the lawmakers meant for the law to say exactly the opposite of what it actually says.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Brian Williams on Lay

NBC Nightly News did their little eulogy to Ken Lay yesterday, and they talked about his death while making a brief mention of his recent conviction and his history at Enron.

One thing they forgot to mention? Lay's ties to the president. It's sorta relevant to Lay's history and to our current political situation, dontcha think?

After Lay was convicted, I brought up a Digby quote about the press' desire not to talk about W's ties in all this even back then, and it's only more relevant now:
The fact that the biggest campaign contributor to the occupant of the white house was in charge of the biggest corporate ponzi scheme in history should have been news. It wasn't.

Youtube rocks

I found Dwight's "The More You Know" public service message from NBC.

the evolution of dance


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Delay loses fight to get off the ballot

Oh damn, this is sweet:
Federal District Court Judge Sam Sparks just ruled in favor of Texas Democrats who sought an injunction to prevent Republicans in Texas Congressional District 22 from replacing Tom DeLay on the congressional ballot.
Texas Democrats argued that the U.S. Constitution, not State law, defines eligibility to serve in the U.S. Congress. Judge Sparks agreed.

This is really, really bad news for Delay. TX-22 is pretty damn Republican, but they hate Tommy boy now that he's covered in filth. If he can't get off the ballot before November, he will probably lose his own seat. To a Democrat.

Justice: Tom Delay rigs the Ethics Committee to escape punishment, only to face political execution at the polls.

selling the Seas of David

From Paul Kiel at TPMmuckraker:
Yesterday was the bond hearing for the Seas of David cult, the seven "homegrown terrorists" whose arrest two weeks ago was a shining example of anti-terrorism efforts, according to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
But more details about the case came out during the hearing. And the more we learn, the less this crew looks like they could have toppled a tree house, let alone the Sears Tower.

That's not to say that they didn't talk up their destructive ambitions. One of them even "made reference to taking over the world," according to the FBI agent on the case.

That said, the group never got their hands on any real weapons. In fact, they apparently trained by shooting paintball guns in the woods. During their raid of the group's Temple, a windowless warehouse, FBI agents found only one knife and a blackjack.

How did the group show up on the FBI's radar? It's unclear, but from the Miami Herald's reporting of the hearing, it sounds like the group's leader, Narseal Batiste, went down to his local 7-11 to "obtain financial and military support." I'm not kidding.

I'd be very interested to hear how they planned to take down the Sears Tower with paintballs and a blackjack, much less their nefarious schemes TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!

It looks like the Bush Administration is tired of the "blame game," so they've latched onto a new game. Charades, anyone?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"Kenny Boy" Lay dead

Looks like W's biggest campaign contributor just bought the farm:
Former Enron Corp. chairman and founder Ken Lay died of a massive heart attack early Wednesday, KPRC Local 2 reported.

Lay, 64, was admitted to the Aspen Valley Hospital with a massive coronary, sources told KPRC.

Doctors said his heart simply "gave out" and the death was unexpected.

Forgive me for not showing more respect, but death does not absolve him of what he did at Enron. What it did, rather, was deny him the Justice of serving his jail term.

Just like Kenny Boy's been doing for years: robbing people of what they fairly deserve.

I hope it hurt.

Monday, July 03, 2006

the internet: "a series of tubes"

Heading the Senate Commerce Committee these days is arch-dumbass Ted Stevens (R-Ass End of Nowhere). He's in charge of drafting the legislation that will decide if the internet remains a level playing field (i.e. "Net Neutrality"), or if it will become an information super-toll road (with most of us chugging slowly down the frontage roads). Stevens, as you might have guessed, is all for the latter. Remember, "arch"-dumbass.

And speaking of, one of his speeches on said issue has surfaced on "the internets," as fellow archie George W. used to say, and with audio to boot! So without further ado, I hereby present to you an explanation of how the internet works from Senator Ted Stevens, one of the greatest minds of the Middle Stone Age(emphasis added b/c they're my favorite parts). You're gonna get a kick out of this:
There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.

But this service isn't going to go through the interent and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

So you want to talk about the consumer? Let's talk about you and me. We use this internet to communicate and we aren't using it for commercial purposes.

We aren't earning anything by going on that internet. Now I'm not saying you have to or you want to discrimnate against those people [...]

The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says "No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the internet". No, I'm not finished. I want people to understand my position, I'm not going to take a lot of time. [?]

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Now we have a separate Department of Defense internet now, did you know that?

Do you know why?

Because they have to have theirs delivered immediately. They can't afford getting delayed by other people.


Now I think these people are arguing whether they should be able to dump all that stuff on the internet ought to consider if they should develop a system themselves.

Maybe there is a place for a commercial net but it's not using what consumers use every day.

It's not using the messaging service that is essential to small businesses, to our operation of families.

The whole concept is that we should not go into this until someone shows that there is something that has been done that really is a violation of net neutraility that hits you and me.

Again, this guy is in charge of drafting the legislation that will determine the future of the internet.