Get Your Blog Up

“This administration is populated by people who’ve spent their careers bashing government. They’re not just small-government conservatives—they’re Grover Norquist, strangle-it-in-the-bathtub conservatives. It’s a cognitive disconnect for them to be able to do something well in an arena that they have so derided and reviled all these years.”

Senator Hillary Clinton

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Moving Daze

Is there anyone in the world that still likes popcorn ceilings? Seriously?

And is it a bad omen when you meet your new neighbor and one of the first things he says is, "You've got a lot of work ahead of you."

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Buckeye State

Just checking in on my old home state:
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting Monday that statewide Republican candidates and the state GOP received at least $200,000 in contributions from about 50 brokers.

The brokers invest money for the state Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

That figure does not include contributions totaling more than $121,000 from Tom Noe. His investment of $55 million in rare coins for the bureau created a scandal with $10 million of the coins now missing.

Light posting this week

First off, Happy Memorial Day for another hour and a half or so. Sorry I didn't get to it sooner.

Secondly, I've got a busy week ahead of me, with a move and all scheduled, so I may not have as much time to visit with you, my online friends. Don't worry, though, you're all invited over as soon as I'm moved in.

Peace out,

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Beatty for Governor

The idea picks up steam.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Rewarding failure

Nice work, fellas. Nice work:
Two Army analysts whose work has been cited as part of a key intelligence failure on Iraq -- the claim that aluminum tubes sought by the Baghdad government were most likely meant for a nuclear weapons program rather than for rockets -- have received job performance awards in each of the past three years, officials said.

The civilian analysts, former military men considered experts on foreign and U.S. weaponry, work at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), one of three U.S. agencies singled out for particular criticism by President Bush's commission that investigated U.S. intelligence.

The Army analysts concluded that it was highly unlikely that the tubes were for use in Iraq's rocket arsenal, a finding that bolstered a CIA contention that they were destined for nuclear centrifuges, which was in turn cited by the Bush administration as proof that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

The problem, according to the commission, which cited the two analysts' work, is that they did not seek or obtain information available from the Energy Department and elsewhere showing that the tubes were indeed the type used for years as rocket-motor cases by Iraq's military. The panel said the finding represented a "serious lapse in analytic tradecraft" because the center's personnel "could and should have conducted a more exhaustive examination of the question."

Your slip is showing

This is tucked in an AP story about the President's clout with world leaders:
That helps explains why Bush, despite a slip in his approval rating among Americans...

Apparently the AP feels that almost a solid year of sub 50 approval ratings is a "slip" in approval.

When will the media realize this President simply isn't popular with a majority of Americans?

Here comes the weekend

Sorry about the unannounced day off yesterday, but things just seem to be going that way. Of course, every time I think I'm going to take more time off, I end up blogging up a storm. But I won't blame you if you don't check here for the day, especially in light of the holiday weekend.

In fact, the best way to check for new posts outside an RSS reader may be this: BlogPac has set up it's own online reader of sorts on a state by state basis, allowing members of each state and region to pool their voices and speak out in an organized manner. So check it out if you have some free time, and sign up if you blog on your own.

If not, have a great holiday weekend. Things should be back full swing Tuesday, if not sooner.

By the way, am I the only Blogger use who finds it funny that Bloggers spell checker doesn't recognize the word "blog," seeing as it's their livelihood and all.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Friday Random Ten

Idea here. It's the Songs that Make Me Think of Washington D.C. edition.

1) Swamp - The Talking Heads
2) Street Crime, Street Crime - The Building Press
3) Ask Me a Question About the Atom - Ancient Greeks
4) Teenage Caveman - Beat Happening
5) Worms vs. Birds - Modest Mouse
6) The Money You Have Is Maybe Too Little - Oxford Collapse
7) Une Amee Sans Lumiere - The Arcade Fire
8) Struggle - Radio 4
9) Equator to the Bipolar - June of 44
10) The MP - The Album Leaf

Digging his own hole

Don't believe that Arnold is out there working for you, California? Then you obviously haven't heard yet that he was out filling potholes in San Jose yesterday. Of course, they had to make the pothole only a few hours before Arnold arrived, but that hole may still be there if it weren't for our action star Governor.

And while we're on the subject of Schwarzenegger, these two paragraphs from a different article speak volumes about the current state of Arnold:
"We in our state have 36 million people, so when you see a few protesters around, it just shows you what the percentage of people are, really, who are out there protesting. We don't pay very much attention to them at all," Schwarzenegger said.


Schwarzenegger also addressed a poll released Thursday by the Public Policy Institute for California that found that 62 percent of voters are opposed to a special election.

If I've done my math right, using Arnold's population figure, 62 percent is 22.3 million people. And he doesn't pay much attention to us at all.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The state of California

Unless things change quickly, Arnold is pretty much done in the state of California. While he seems to have bottomed out his approval rating (at 40%), that bottom seems fairly week as his big agenda item, the special election, is supported by a whopping 33% of the people. Californians may want what Arnold has to offer, but they all seem to agree that wasting $80 million dollars on something that even his hand picked Secretary of State admits is a bad idea is, well, a bad idea.

And what has the Governor done to try and combat these numbers? He's gone out of state to raise money to support his initiatives. Not to raise money to fund the election, mind you, but pimped himself out to GOP faces in Florida, Illinois, and Texas to support his own goals. And who, in the publics eyes, has the best of California at heart than the people of Chicago, Dallas, and a few cities in Florida.

I still remember when Arnold came to power and said he wouldn't be beholden to special interest groups. Now he's raised more money than Gray Davis could've ever hoped to without Gray appearing in a Hollywood blockbuster of his own. And that's all Arnold seems to know how to do anymore.

Meanwhile the masses are gathering in protest with clever signs, and newspaper editorials point out the inaneness of what he proposes:
The third measure is designed to prohibit granting public school teachers tenure until they serve a district for five years, up from two.

Like so many of Schwarzenegger's "reforms," this is a slogan masquerading as policy - and bad policy, at that.


California school districts, which already face huge problems in recruiting and keeping faculty, plainly haven't been clamoring for a tool to help them dump young teachers even faster.


Why, though, is this such a big deal? Both the public and the papers initially saw Arnold as the action hero that would come in and save California from the End of Days. Now, it seems both groups are content to count down as Arnold instead hastens the state toward them.

I feel I should point out that Ezra Klein has decided Warren Beatty is the answer to our problems. While Warren would seem to have a better shot at it than Phil Angelides because of name recognition and built in popularity, I'm not sure another actor turned politician is the answer (although the speech Ezra links to is pretty good) That said, I wish Ezra all the best in his efforts to draft Warren and look forward to hearing more from both of them as 2006 approaches.

Who said it?

In regards to Bush's pledge to veto the stem-cell bill recently passed by the House, who said this:
"I think history will be extraordinarily unkind to a veto that will be based on ideology and not on sound ethics or sound science," x said. "This shows that their ideology has gotten them out of the mainstream of the American people."

Democrat nothing. It's Republican Chistopher Shays. When your own side realizes your out of touch with the mainstream, you're definitely in trouble.

It begins

Houston Chronicle:
A state district judge ruled today that a political committee founded by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was legally required to report more than $500,000 in corporate cash to state authorities because the money was raised to influence Texas elections.

"I find that the contributions were used in connection with a campaign for elective office. Therefore, they were political contributions or campaign contributions within the meaning of ... the Election Code," visiting District Judge Joe Hart said in his ruling.

While Hart did not rule specifically on whether Texans for a Republican Majority raised and spent the money legally, he said TRMPAC violated state law by not reporting the money to the Texas Ethics Commission.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What a difference a year makes

In 2005, last year's anti war message is this year's reason for applause. Go figure:
The Sinclair Broadcast Group, which last year refused to air on its ABC affiliates a "Nightline" program listing Americans killed in Iraq, is applauding ABC's decision to show a similar program this Memorial Day.

Ted Koppel on Monday will pay tribute to the more than 900 U.S. servicemembers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past year in a special 11:35 p.m. broadcast. Photographs will accompany each of the dead as their names are read.

Last year, Koppel read the names of 721 Iraq war dead April 30. Since 2004 was an election year, Sinclair, a Republican supporter, accused "Nightline" of sending an anti-war message -- an assertion ABC denied.

In a statement released today, the Hunt Valley-based company, whose holdings include 62 TV stations, said it "applauds" the decision to read the names on "a day set aside to honor our fallen heroes."

Paying dues

What? Collect taxes from business that evade current law and use that money to shore up Social Security?

Silly Democrats, don't you know your supposed to smirk about the rich not paying their share and use it to justify cutting their taxes further?

Let the fundraising begin!

The best way to stop the Republican power grab in the Senate is to return Democrats to the majority. And slipping a little bit Jon Tester's way is the first step.

Go here to find out more.


Congratulations to the record number of millionaires in America!

I wonder where they got all that money from.

"We Will Win Tonight"

It has nothing to do with politics, but with those words Mark Messier put a buzz in New York as they prepared to square off against their hated rivals the New Jersey Devils on this day in 1994.

Messier delivered a hat trick and the Rangers won game six of the Conference Finals 4-2. Eight games later, the Rangers would win their Stanley Cup in 54 years.

Game six is on ESPN Classic right now. Messier just scored his first goal, and Stephan Matteau just got stopped on the goal line to keep the game tied. I often joke that when you know the outcome of games, there is little reason to watch them again. But I still get chills and excitement watching this one.

This is no doubt one of the most exciting playoff games in history. Game 7 is up there as well. And if you wonder how anyone can be a hockey fan, or you waiver in the face of the lockout this year, or are just jonesing for good hockey, switch from CSPAN to ESPN Classic and enjoy the game.

Of course, it probably helps if you're a Ranger fan like me.

Filibuster compromise: Blame Reid

Don't like the compromise that prevented the nuclear option? Think it was a great deal for the Democrats? Either way, it seems, you can give some thanks to Harry Reid:
Although he repeatedly downplayed chances for a deal, saying as late as Monday afternoon that prospects were "very, very remote," Reid said Tuesday he received hourly updates on negotiations.

"In fact, some of (the 14 senators) dropped out of the negotiations, and I put them back in," Reid said.

So even though the media has portrayed them as "rouge moderates," it seems they worked with the blessing of Reid in order to get what the Minority Leader wanted. Which seems pretty savvy to me.

Also savvy? Reminding the world who pulls the strings on the right:
Reid said he is convinced Frist wanted to work something out with him but "the James Dobsons of the world prevented him from doing so."

The man behind the curtain

The Star Gazette:
As he has in similar events across the nation, Bush sat with five local residents and discussed with them his Social Security plan. The group was hand-picked and prepped in advance by the White House and, like most people in the room, they support Bush.

The event came off like a well-scripted, publicity campaign. "Strengthening Social Security for the 21st Century" signs hung from the ceiling.

The event ended promptly after 60 minutes, right according to the official plan. And not a dissenting voice was heard.

I think the average blogger already knows that the Bush Social Security events are heavily scripted to make it appear he has massive support. But I'm not so sure the average reader of the Star Gazette does. Well, until now. And while watching a puppet show can be entertaining, watching the guys work the puppets is not.

And even after 60+ days, the tour still isn't working:
Yet local Republican congressmen said afterward that they have yet to see an official proposal, so they will continue to take a wait-and-see approach.

"I'm still sorting it all out. From my perspective, it was good to hear from more of my constituents," said Rep. John R. Kuhl Jr., R-Hammondsport.

True Lies

Call me crazy, but I doubt the best way to fix your falling poll is to accuse teachers of lying, even after you've admitted for months that you are the one who lied to them. But that's exactly what Action Hero Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided would be a smart political move:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration has acknowledged for months that it broke its promise to restore more than $2 billion in base education funding this year, but Schwarzenegger insisted Tuesday he never made the pledge and said education leaders are perpetuating a "right-out lie" by criticizing him over it.


The Republican governor, education leaders and the California Teachers Association announced with fanfare an agreement to suspend the automatic funding formula for education for a year. But the deal called for education base funding under Proposition 98 to be restored once state revenues increased. Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill now says that figure approaches $3 billion.

But when Schwarzenegger unveiled his budget plan in January the base funding was not restored despite the prospect of rising revenues.


"His story keeps changing," [CTA President Barbara Kerr] said. "That happens a lot when you're not telling the truth or you forget. I don't know which it is. All I know is we were promised the money would be put back when revenues went up. Revenues are up and that hasn't happened."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Howard Dean on black outreach

This sounds about right:
"African-Americans are annoyed with the Democratic Party because we ask them for their votes four weeks before the election instead of being in the community now and that's a mistake I'm trying to fix," [Howard Dean] said. "There's a new generation of African-American leaders and a new generation of African-Americans. We can't go out and say could you vote for us because we were so helpful during the civil rights era."

Five years

The Guardian:
It could take at least five years before Iraqi forces are strong enough to impose law and order on the country, the International Institute of Strategic Studies warned yesterday.

The thinktank's report said that Iraq had become a valuable recruiting ground for al-Qaida, and Iraqi forces were nowhere near close to matching the insurgency.

John Chipman, IISS director, said the Iraqi security forces faced a "huge task" and the continuing ability of the insurgents to inflict mass casualties "must cast doubt on US plans to redeploy American troops and eventually reduce their numbers".

Insurgents have killed 600 Iraqis since the new government was formed. The IISS report said: "Best estimates suggest that it will take up to five years to create anything close to an effective indigenous force able to impose and guarantee order across the country."

The report also states that Bush's Iraq invasion has been a success if his intention was to bog us down in a foreign country, stir Islamic hatred toward America and cause our allies to treat us more warily.

Jesus loves Mickey

All Christians go to Disney World:
A conservative Christian group has ended its boycott of the Walt Disney Co., launched nine years ago in response to what leaders perceived as the erosion of the company's squeaky-clean image.

"There are so many other issues we need to move on to and deal with that are taking our time and energy," American Family Association president Tim Wildmon wrote in a letter published Monday on the group's Web site.

In other words, the boycott had no real impact on the Disney company, and the Christian group realized that, so they gave up. In the meantime, parents no longer have to make up stories about Mickey's torrid affair with Spongebob Squarepants while Pluto watched, or about Donald Duck's multiple indecent exposure arrests for wearing no pants.

In which I disagree with Matt Yglesias somewhat...

Matt Yglesias at TAPPED:
As of yesterday morning all the Democrats, joined by a handful of Republicans, held the view that the nuclear option was wrong and that all of the remaining judges would be blocked. That was, as of yesterday, the moderate position in that it had some bipartisan support, while the nuclear option was a partisan, extremist move. Even if the Democrats lost the nuclear vote, that framing element would still be in place. Now that old, moderate, bipartisan stance has been redefined as an extremist liberal position, just as partisan and nutty as the Bill Frist Calvinball option.

Well, all Democrats still hold the view that the nuclear option is wrong, and seven Republican Senators have joined them, willing to sell four of the seven nominees down the river to keep it from happening.

Look, if this is all about spin at this point, then by all means spin away. But find the positive, not the backhanded style. Democrats held their position. They got Republican Senators to cross the aisle and agree with them in principle. If rumors are true that one of the three judges that makes it to the floor will be voted down, then the Dems gave up two judges for the right to filibuster in the future. While left extremes wanted all seven blocked, five is a pretty strong number, especially when the alternative was none.

And now Frist has come out complaining about the deal. Good for him. Shove it down his throat. Without research, I imagine the public would rather see Congress do some work rather than no work at all. And if Democrats continue to praise the pact because it allows them to do the work of the people once again while Frist stammers and whines in the corner, who comes out on the good side?

The filibuster won. Which means the Democrats won. Which means that seven GOP moderate Senators came to the Democrats side to maintain what Democrats fought for. That's the spinning that should be done. Democrats defeated four, possible five extremist judges. For 44 votes, that's a damn good average.

Scottie McClellan flip flops

He was sure Newsweek caused the loss of life before it didn't.

Wah, wah, wah

Frist, left out of the party, throws a little tantrum:
Monday night’s bipartisan deal prevented a vote on Frist’s proposal, as seven GOP senators promised to vote against it.

“The [nuclear] option will be used if… mindless, irresponsible filibusters become the tool of choice for the Democrats,” Frist told reporters.

Frist, of course, can call the vote, but, according to the memo the band of sixteen signed, it would be a futile exercise. From the agreement:
In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.

So it'd be a nonstarter for Frist.

Monday, May 23, 2005

White Stripes fans

Since the all night Senate has taken on less importance, why not spend the evening listening to the new White Stripes CD? Here's the stream. Let me know what you think.

More filibuster impact

Anything that elicits these promises from the right has to be good:
And we can thank Bill Frist for his lack of leadership and resolve for taking a majority and turning it into a minority. Not One Dime for the NRSC as long as Frist remains majority leader, or for the Seven Dwarves ever. Patterico is on board with that pledge as well.

If part of the compromise is faltering Republican support for GOP Senators or the NRSC, I'll take it as a big win.

Filibuster deal impact

So my real question is about the impact of the compromise on those who took the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll:
The poll also indicated Americans might want a change in Congress, with 47 percent of all respondents saying the country would be better off if Democrats were in control, compared with 36 percent who favored Republicans. Nine percent picked "neither."

Even though seven Senators from both sides brokered the deal, it still comes out of a "Republican led Congress." It would seem, in light of other poll data, that this deal satisfies a majority of Americans. All that has me worried that, while the GOP has stepped in a lot in the last few months, people may see this as a "not so bad after all" kinda moment.

Bill Frist is mad. So is James Dobson. And I think Democrats need to be sure and point these things out over the next few days as fallout is discussed. Things like "We are pleased, much to the chagrin of Bill Frist that is, that the nuclear meltdown that threatened the Senate has been avoided," or "Thankfully a deal was reached that saves the Senate. Guys like Dobson, Frist and others out of touch on the hard right can be upset about that salvation..."

Maybe I'm overly concerned about this one. Maybe I have no reason to be. But there is no reason to let them up, especially when they perceive they've taken such a big fall.

And on a completely unrelated sidenote, can I say how pleased I am everytime Bill Frist comes up in my spellchecker and I get to click "ignore?"

Let's make a deal

Apparently there's a deal on the filibuster. More as it comes.

*UPDATE* Five of the seven judges will be approved it seems. Owen is one to get through. Henry Saad and William Meyers won't get through, everyone else does. A blow to Frist and the hard right.

Is it just me, or am I hearing "some will make it on an up or down vote" quite a bit? As if part of the agreement means some of the judges who get votes will be voted down? Is that too much to hope for?

*UPDATE* Heh. On CNN (paraphrased)... "We're going to break Joe Lieberman is ready to speak - or maybe Warner - which ever Republican steps up next..."

Harry Reid about to speak...

*UPDATE* It seems that both sides are pretty upset with this, meaning it's prolly a good deal. My opinion? While I'm for the filibuster, I've thought that judges were an individual issue. So I'm glad the filibuster survives. As far as the judges go, well...

*UPDATE* Lindsey Graham on CNN "There are going to be Republicans that vote against Bush's nominees"

That's the only way I think Democrats get anything out of this. We'll see if it's true.

Here's a text of the agreement.

*UPDATE* Alright, Republicans seem more upset at the deal than the liberal side.

Oh, please

Meanwhile, an array of conservative leaders in Iowa, which holds its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses in 2008, warned Republican presidential contenders that they must support Frist’s move to end filibusters of nominees.

Frist is a potential contender for the 2008 presidential nomination.

“We are concerned about the two potential (presidential) candidates, Sen. McCain, and from our neighboring state of Nebraska, Sen. Hagel, who have so far refused to support an up or down vote," the group said.

Are any conservatives really going to look to party moderates like McCain or Hagel as their candidate? I think not. McCain has seen through the crap and is on the record voting no. Hagel is still up in the air, but he has to see through this at some point. Or so one would hope.

Either way, it's still close.

More on gay marriage

What's that you say? Treating gay people as equals aids their mental health? Get out.

But that's exactly what the American Psychiatric Association says:
The psychiatric association's statement was approved by voice vote on the first day of its weeklong annual meeting in Atlanta. It cites the "positive influence of a stable, adult partnership on the health of all family members."

The resolution recognizes "that gay men and lesbians are full human beings who should be afforded the same human and civil rights," said Margery Sved, a Raleigh, N.C., psychiatrist and member of the assembly's committee on gay and lesbian issues.

The idea of a healthy, stable family is good for everyone. Including homosexuals. Go figure.

Oh, speaking of homosexuality, here's a quote from a pastor hosting an event where they try and "cure" homosexuality (presented by James Dobson, of course). After reading the quote, guess the name of the event:
Reph said that letting children "choose" homosexuality "would be like letting them choose murder or adultery" because it is "not God's way of life."

Yep, if your child is gay, you've just committed murder and cheated on your spouse. Smooth move, buddy.

The name of the event? "Love Won Out," of course.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Your space ad here

While I'm surprised the U.S. government has a policy on billboards in space, it doesn't surprise me that they are against them.

After all, they'd get in the way of all our space weapons.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Why is Rick Santorum's marriage so weak?

Rick Santorum gets the feature in this weekend's New York Times magazine:
The article does not dwell at length on Santorim's controversial views of gay marriage, but when the writer asks him if he feels gay marriage threatens his own marriage, he answers quickly: "Yes, absolutely. It threatens my marriage. It threatens all marriages. It threatens the traditional values of this country."

Is Rick Santorum's marriage really that fragile? Is his wife going to leave him for another woman if it suddenly becomes legal for two people of the same sex to marry? Is his belief in the power or marriage so weak that it will fall apart if even more people can celebrate the bonds of their love? Someone help me understand.
All I know is that my marriage isn't going to change because of what other people do. It makes me wonder if anything is wrong with his.

Friday Random Ten

Wake Up, It's Afternoon edition (idea here):

1) My Horoscope Said It Would Be A Bad Year - Beulah
2) We've Been Had - The Walkmen
3) Something to Talk About - Badly Drawn Boy
4) Gigantic - The Pixies
5) Edgar St. - Verbal
6) I Put A Spell On You - Screamin' Jay Hawkins
7) Sixteen Blue - The Replacements
8) Just Like Movie Stars - Matt Sharp
9) Leopard and the Lamb - Cat Power
10) Hey Lock Haven - The Braille Drivers
And I'm still on the night shift, so look for posts later on.

The cynic in me

Here's yet another article on the difficulty low income families face, this time involving the challenges of college admissions:
Selective private colleges acknowledge that they sometimes take affluent teens over those from poor or middle-class families needing financial aid when deciding which students to admit from their waiting lists.

The reason, college administrators say, is that financial aid budgets often have been tapped out by the time those admissions are decided in May and June. The money has been allocated to students admitted earlier whom the schools most wanted to attract, rather than the backup choices typically relegated to the waiting list.

"It's the financial reality of things," said Paul Marthers, dean of admission at Reed College in Portland, Ore.

At Reed, where officials take pride in providing full aid packages to needy students, "Every year we have to decide, 'Can we give financial aid to students on the waiting list?' " Marthers said. Often by that point, "The financial aid is just used up."

Shortly after reading that, I came upon this post on class and marriage over at Pandagon, which reminded me of a post by Ezra on the difficulties of living on minimum wage and this post at TAPPED on the difficulty of upward class mobility derived from this New York Times article.

This all seems fairly intuitive to me. And I have a feeling if you lean liberal, it seems pretty intuitive to you as well. The more challenges that people face, the harder it is for them to succeed. Financial difficulties make it even harder. If you don't believe me, thumb through a copy of The Working Poor the next time you visit your local bookstore.

Now keep all that in mind as you read what this letter writer to the Corner has to say:
Jonah, I'm an undergrad at Miami University (in OH) and I'm spending my summer studying the election and the "emerging Republican majority" and how it will affect the country over the next few years. As soon as I started delving into the studies and analyses done on the subject, I started to realize what you just wrote your column about - the defining characteristics of Republicans seem to be optimism and patriotism, not wealth or class, and the reverse (pessimism and cynicism)best characterize Democrats.

Of course, according to those studies and articles above, that "optimism" that Republicans have is extremely unfounded (and on a side note, I think patriotism is in the eye of the beholder). And without class mobility, one of the "defining characteristics" of Republicans is little more than false hope and faith in non-reality. But most of us already knew that one.

That said, Democrats are not the party of "pessimism," but rather the party of realistic optimism. Democrats would like to see all Americans succeed, but Democrats also see the difficulties poor families face under current circumstances. It's why Democrats are busy proposing higher minimum wages and health coverage for children while their opponents fight to cut taxes for the wealthy, dismantle Social Security, inject themselves into private family disputes and the battle for judicial supremacy.

The Bagram Report

Hey, it's not like we flushed a Koran or anything, right?
The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.


The findings of Mr. Dilawar's autopsy were succinct. He had had some coronary artery disease, the medical examiner reported, but what caused his heart to fail was "blunt force injuries to the lower extremities." Similar injuries contributed to Mr. Habibullah's death.

One of the coroners later translated the assessment at a pre-trial hearing for Specialist Brand, saying the tissue in the young man's legs "had basically been pulpified."

Read the whole thing, if you can.

I am the luckiest man alive

According to this Army recruiter anyway:
Dayton area alone, which is about four or five counties, Dayton area alone, 1,500 people died in two weeks. You know what that was from? Car wrecks. Those numbers that we get, we get from the actual highway patrol. So, I mean, all that stuff's factual. So, you look at that way. We've lost 1,500 soldiers so far over in Iraq. We've been over there for three years. If you add it together, 1,500 people died in five counties alone within two weeks, just from car wrecks.

At that pace, in the two years I drove in Dayton, Ohio, 36,000 people died on the streets around me. In three years, the entire population of the city will be wiped out from car accidents.

I think that's the real story here - the dizzying pace of auto fatalities and it's impact on the city of Dayton in three years. Instead, the media chooses to focus on the fact that army recruiters are lying to kids so they'll enlist and fight in Iraq. How predictable.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Why spend all this money on Iraq,then?

Violent animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists now pose one of the most serious terrorism threats to the nation, top federal law enforcement officials say.

Senior officials from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) and Explosives told a Senate panel Wednesday of their growing concern over these groups.

Halfway around the world, over 1600 troops dead, and the most serious terrorism threats to the nation are animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists. Sounds like a serious intelligence lapse to me.

Why Arnold won't run in 2006


51 50

Before I went to sleep last night I had counted 51 Senators against the nuclear option:
So I get there with McCain, Chafee, Snowe, Warner (so says Hugh, anyway), and Hagel and Specter, provided they actually believe in upholding minority rights like they say they do and don't crave to Republican pressure.

Today, Hagel proves to be a non believer:
"I believe that all of the president's nominees deserve an up or down vote," Hagel said, quoted by spokesman Mike Buttry. "The agreement that has been proposed calls for three of the president's nominees not to get a vote. I could not agree to that. That is unfair and it's not right."

Which contrasts with what he said eleven days ago:
"But you can't give up a minority rights tool in the interest of the country, like the filibuster," he said.

So we are back to fifty, unless someone else caves to the pressure of the right.

Stay tuned.

*UPDATE* All is not lost. The Carpetbagger skeptically points to a New York Post article in which a GOP aide says Frist doesn't have the votes to detonate and points out that Frist may be in over his head on this one:
If Frist brings the nuclear option to the floor and fails, his ability to lead is effectively over. He’ll have taken on the biggest risk for a Senate Majority Leader in recent history and, despite 55 Republican lawmakers in his caucus and the enthusiastic rabid support of the party base, Frist will have failed spectacularly. He’s already a lame-duck leader, but if the nuclear-option strategy falls apart, Frist may have to give up his leadership post.

I would go further and state that is Frist does succeed, his ability to lead will be limited as well. While it would show he can control the motley crowd that is the GOP, the Democrats have stated publicly they have no problems tying up the Senate with their own agenda. The Senate would produce little or no new legislation, and Frist is at the head of a rudderless ship. Is that what he wants to sell to the public as he runs for head of the land?


So I've begun working nights, and it should last two weeks, maybe a month if all goes my way. If not, then who knows - one of the benefits of at will employment, no doubt.

Anyway, while I was sleeping, I missed out on all the fun - Robert Pozen, author of the plan Bush supports doesn't really support Bush's plan, The Red Cross seems to flush the idea that we've treated the Koran with total respect, and Rick Santorum goes for record in the "hypocrite of the week" category. Jesse Lee sums up succinctly here.

When I sleep, I dream of not Rick Santorum, and all is well.


This sounds like a guy who votes no:
Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said several moderate Republicans and Democrats were trying to hammer out a compromise that might see some of Bush's disputed nominees confirmed.

"What this is really all about is saving face," the Pennsylvania Republican told CNN. "The institution of the Senate and the protection of minority rights is more important than the entire group [of nominees]."

So I get there with McCain, Chafee, Snowe, Warner (so says Hugh, anyway), and Hagel and Specter, provided they actually believe in upholding minority rights like they say they do and don't crave to Republican pressure.

Democrats should have the votes to stop the filibuster, then. We'll see if I got 'em right if it actually comes to a vote.


I've been awake for 19 hours now, and I hope that after some sleep this will somehow sound better:
In interviews and briefings this week, some of the generals pulled back from recent suggestions, some by the same officers, that positive trends in Iraq could allow a major drawdown in the 138,000 American troops late this year or early in 2006. One officer suggested Wednesday that American military involvement could last "many years."

Somehow I doubt it, though. And here's another government official who must hate America:
In Baghdad, a senior officer said Wednesday in a background briefing that the 21 car bombings in Baghdad so far this month almost matched the total of 25 in all of last year.

Against this, he said, there has been a lull in insurgents' activity in Baghdad in recent days after months of some of the bloodiest attacks, a trend that suggested that American pressure, including the capture of important bomb makers, had left the insurgents incapable of mounting protracted offensives. But the officer said that despite Americans' recent successes in disrupting insurgent cells, which have resulted in the arrest of 1,100 suspects in Baghdad alone in the past 80 days, the success of American goals in Iraq was not assured.

"I think that this could still fail," the officer said at the briefing, referring to the American enterprise in Iraq. "It's much more likely to succeed, but it could still fail."

This doesn't inspire confidence, either:
The officer said much depended on the new government's success in bolstering public confidence among Iraqis. He said recent polls conducted by Baghdad University had shown confidence flagging sharply, to 45 percent, down from an 85 percent rating immediately after the election.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mis-leader to the UN

Ladies and gentlemen, John Bolton:
Bolton pushed for months to have the analyst removed from his job or otherwise disciplined, according to details revealed for the first time in the report, but he testified under oath at his confirmation hearing to be
United Nations ambassador that he "made no effort to have discipline imposed" on the man.

"Bolton's effort to minimize the significance of his efforts is disingenuous," said the report from Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sound like a Bush nominee to me.

Cincinnati Reds blogging

Anytime Eric Milton goes five and gives up 3 earned, the Reds have to win, simply because it won't happen that often. Instead...

I've heard the Reds get a lead off triple and strand the runner.

I've heard the Reds load the bases twice in one inning, once on a hit from the pitcher, and score only one run. (I think in the last ten times I've heard the Reds load the bases, they've scored two runs total.)

I just heard Eric Milton get his second hit, a two out single with runners on first and second, and D'Angelo Jimenez gets throw out at the plate, no slide.

Wonder no more why the Reds are only 14-25. I heard they are hitting around .200 with runners in scoring position, and that the last seven quality starts (6 innings, 3 runs or less) they gotten have all been losses.

I can't explain how bad they are so far this year. And as far as I can tell, there's little hope for improvement.

*UPDATE* And as I post, the Reds give up two more runs on another error by Jimenez. Perfect.

*UPDATE* The Reds should release Danny Graves. That's all there is too it. He certainly isn't helping the club anymore.

*UPDATE* Even the NY Times gets a dig in:
Wearing red increases the chance of victory in sports, say British researchers who clearly do not follow the Cincinnati Reds.

"Across a range of sports, we find that wearing red is consistently associated with a higher probability of winning," wrote Dr. Russell Hill and Dr. Robert Barton, researchers in evolutionary anthropology at the University of Durham, in a paper that will appear on Thursday in the journal Nature.

And of course, the Reds have scored three in the ninth to start their comback.

Officer Derbyshire

He'll take your kids to school:
I'm going to continue voting down any and all local spending proposals every chance I get. You'll cut school buses? I have a car. You'll cut police? I have guns.

Of course, school buses are to help people who don't have cars or who have to work 50 hours a week and don't have the time to drive their kids to school.

And I bet John has a hose. So who needs firefighters? And with a first aid kit, John can heal himself after his gunfight with a masked intruder. No more hospital aid! Maybe John could get a road paver as well. And we all waste tame at those unnecessary street lights...

There's more from John:
Good point from a reader: "A quick way to debunk the 'we need more money' claims from public schools: calculate how much they are spending per class.

"Lets suppose the district is spending $8,000 per student, which I believe is below the national average and well below what they spend in your region. If each class has 20 students, which again would be quite low, they are spending $160,000 per class. If there are 25 students then its $200,000. On what? Pay the teacher $80,000 and you still have $80,000 left for the building, administrators, buses, books, etc, $120,000 if you use the bigger class.

When I went to school, we also had more than one class. We had eight of them, if I remember right. Which works out to $1,000 per student per class. Which would be great if school only went for one day a year.

Of course, the real problem is illegal immigrants.

Vast, uh, conspiracy II

Sad that the biggest story about the memo that tells the world that, to sell the war in Iraq to the public, "intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy," is not that it exists, but rather that it is being underreported.

Maybe, if the media reported it, they wouldn't have to write stories about how they aren't reporting it. It's as if they want to write stories about how they fail to cover news.

Vast, uh, conspiracy

After I read Frist get called out by Senator Schumer, I read all the major news sites to see if the exchange would make their filibuster fight stories.

So far no luck.

Darn liberal media.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Death from above

This is a bad idea. My research includes countless games of Fortress America when I was young and repeated viewings of Real Genius.

I have no doubt that Bush will love it.
Air Force officials said yesterday that the directive, which is still in draft form, did not call for militarizing space. "The focus of the process is not putting weapons in space," said Maj. Karen Finn, an Air Force spokeswoman, who said that the White House, not the Air Force, makes national policy. "The focus is having free access in space."

In other words, it's not about putting weapons in space, it's about getting permission to put weapons in space- weapons we have apparently developed and discovered don't work as well on the ground.
The mission will require new weapons, new space satellites, new ways of doing battle and, by some estimates, hundreds of billions of dollars. It faces enormous technological obstacles. And many of the nation's allies object to the idea that space is an American frontier.

If you're not with us, you're against us, I say. And this give Bush a perfect out for his failing privatization of Social Security plan. All that front loaded debt needs to be spent on space weapons. Perhaps a discovery on Mars could be pushed to an imminent threat..?
Captain Hardesty, in the new issue of the Naval War College Review, calls for "a thorough military analysis" of these plans, followed by "a larger public debate."

"To proceed with space-based weapons on any other foundation would be the height of folly," he concludes, warning that other nations not necessarily allies would follow America's lead into space.

Space is the place for the new arms race! Just like that board game I mentioned earlier...

And why is it always these people in charge:
General Lord said such problems should not stand in the way of the Air Force's plans to move into space.

"Space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny," he told an Air Force conference in September. "Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future."

If there is ever a time for intelligent life from space to pay us a visit, they should do it now before we destroy them all.

Defying the rules

One of the reasons the nuclear option is so deplorable is that it forces the Senate to defy the rules:
Also, some Democrats have advanced evidence that the GOP gambit lacks support from the Senate parliamentarian, the official who typically rules on what is allowable under the chamber's rules and precedents.

Reid told reporters last month that the parliamentarian, Alan S. Frumin, had told him that he opposed the Republicans' plan and that "if they do this, they will have to overrule him."

Frumin, who was appointed by Republican leaders in 2001, has not been granting interviews. But a senior Republican Senate aide confirmed that Frist does not plan to consult Frumin at the time the nuclear option is deployed. "He has nothing to do with this," the aide said. "He's a staffer, and we don't have to ask his opinion."

The Senate parliamentarian has little power, if any. But that seems like a pretty cold and callous attitude to take towards a guy who's life is basically devoted to knowing these sorts of things, isn't it?

Frumin's job is to know, and even he says the Republican power grab goes against the Senate rules. Only time will tell the outcome.

*UPDATE* Here's more on why they called it the nuclear option.

Free housing for everyone!

So I'm reading The Working Poor, and all the while I can't help but think that I'm the wrong guy to be reading books like this. For the most part, I already get the idea that the mor you have to struggle to earn money, the harder life will be and the harder life will be for your kids as well.

But while I was reading the chapter featuring Ann, didn't work in order to give her kids a better future (intriguing, no? get the book), I thought, 'Why not just give everyone a home.' That, clearly, was Ann's biggest struggle. And as a soon-to-be homeowner, I can tell the payments will take up at least half, if not more of our monthly income. But if we had a house, we could use that excess money to help any future kids that we had. Not only could we afford more for them, but we also wouldn't have to work as hard which would give us more free time to spend with them, also important to child development. And money for health care, for doctors- you could hire young tutors and nutrionists, if you wanted. It would seemingly make the country a whole lot better off.

At the very least, we'd have more money to spend on the new economy, which could help create jobs. And there would be more money to save for the future, which would end the need for Social Security.

I guess it's the same idea as giving people free health care or free educations. One big handout would no doubt end the need for countless others, ending some aspects of "big government" while creating one big one.

So, who wants to start the campaign?

Kansas returns

Science loses 6-4.


Have I reccomended Eric Alterman lately? Read his take on the Newsweek stuff if you haven't already.

What's in a name?

The bucolic views of Mount Diablo have created a living hell for Art Mijares.

The Oakley man, who can see Contra Costa's highest peak from his living room, is on a campaign to rid the mountain of the name it has held for 164 years, because diablo means devil in Spanish.

"This is not a hoax, it's a God thing," Mijares said. "Our main icon is named after the devil."

Initally, Mijares wanted to name the peak Mount Reagan, but was denied because Reagan has not been dead for five years.

No one in the area seems to agree with Mijares. But perhaps he's on to something. Perhaps we should remove all references to the devil or "diablo" from our language. Then the whole evil word will be forgotten forever, and we will never have to worry about him again. It's so foolproof, I wonder why no one has thought of it before.

Scare the vote

What can you say about something like this?:
On the eve of a crucial vote to reinstate a law allowing more people to carry guns in public, House members received e-mails threatening harassment and blackmail if they voted against the bill Wednesday.

"We will send people to your homes to harass you, and look in your windows,'' said the message sent Tuesday. "If that does not work, we have information on you, and your family, and we will use it in any way shape or form to get our bill passed.''

Although the e-mail was sent to all 134 House members, the message seemed aimed at the 55 DFLers who have either voted against the bill in the past or are new to the House and don't have a record on the issue.

Authorities said the message appeared to be a hoax, and leaders in the Republic-controlled House said they planned to bring the bill up for a vote despite the objections of some Democrats mentioned by name in the e-mail.

Some Democrats that are the target of said e-mail want to delay the vote until the investigation is completed.

Busy busy busy

Sorry, but there's quite a bit going on this morning. I'll try and make it back sometime later this afternoon.

In the meantime, John Conyers has been busy writing a letter to Scotty McLellan about the Newsweek story:
First, this attempt to tie riots to the Newsweek article stands in stark contrast to the assessment of your own senior military officials. On May 12th, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff had reported on his consultations with the Senior Commander in Afghanistan about whether there was a causal relationship between the Newsweek story and the riots thusly: "[h]e thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine." The only conclusion that can be reasonably drawn is that, in contrast to career military officers, political operatives sought to score cheap political points by spreading falsehoods about Newsweek. The appropriate course of action is clear: you and Mr. DiRita should immediately retract your exploitative comments.

Second, there is - of course - a sad irony in this White House claiming that someone else's errors or misjudgments led to the loss of innocent lives. Over 1,600 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives in the Iraq war, a war which your Administration justified by falsely claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. To date, your Administration has consistently blocked Congressional inquiries into whether such claims were the result of intentional manipulation of intelligence or, as you assert, a mere "failure."

Read it all.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Crow for food

Oh yeah, we knew:
The United States administration turned a blind eye to extensive sanctions-busting in the prewar sale of Iraqi oil, according to a new Senate investigation.

A report released last night by Democratic staff on a Senate investigations committee presents documentary evidence that the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but did nothing to stop them.

The scale of the shipments involved dwarfs those previously alleged by the Senate committee against UN staff and European politicians like the British MP, George Galloway, and the former French minister, Charles Pasqua.

In fact, the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together.

"The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions," the report said. "On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales.

So that we mean that we paid for the insurgency that is killing our troops, right? Shouldn't there be some sort of investigation on that?

Massachusetts still around

It's a year ago today that Massachusetts became the only state in the union to allow gay marriages, and it still has yet to succumb to a rain of fireballs, famine, or cicadas.

Traditional marriage still exists, and "the family" has not been destroyed.

And apparently, no politicians have "paid a price" for supporting it, either:
But according to GLAD, all the Massachusetts legislators who supported gay and lesbian marriage were returned to office last November. Two same-sex marriage opponents lost their legislative seats in 2004 primaries, and three supporters won special elections last month.

Antidote, huh?

I pointed out to the audience that the Newsweek meltdown again underscores the value of the medium in that the blogs are relentlessly pushing the story of Newsweek’s screw-up which is the only antidote to the damage done. It isn’t a perfect antidote by any means --not even close. But at least new media is putting the truth out there so that any fair-minded observer will know that Newsweek had no basis for reporting the story that has caused so much havoc.

Wait, what? Blogs are the "only antidote" to what Newsweek did? What the hell does that mean, and how in the world does it work? They are an antidote to a sourced story which was looked over by a government official and not denied? An antidote, perhaps, to the same official then changing his story to announce the whole Koran flushing incident may simply appear in another document? An antidote to Newsweek willing to print their own correction, something I would have thought would be loved by Hugh's so called "self correcting blogosphere."

And who's pushing the story? Who's responsible for the Newsweek "retraction"? Oh yeah, Newsweek. They decided to come out on their own and issue a statement, didn't they, which was then picked up by the media while the right blogs jumped on board. It seems this story would've carried on just fine without Hugh's "new media." The only thing it's managed to do is take credit for something it does not deserve

Media retracts, all hell breaks lose

My take on the Newsweek story? A lot like this guy's here (without the "bias" idea):
Three factors interacted here: media error/bias, Islamist paranoia, and a past and possibly current policy of religiously-intolerant torture. No one comes out looking good. But it seems to me unquestionable that the documented abuse of religion in interrogation practices is by far the biggest scandal. Too bad the blogosphere is too media-obsessed and self-congratulatory to notice.

From the right, there is a constant stream of "It's Newsweek's fault." Even when reports of these happenings with the Koran have been out there for months. I'm not sure why this particular report would be so suspect in light of other, similar stories. And it's not exactly Newsweek's fault that one of their sources has backed down without denying the initial story altogether, is it?

It's pathetic, but these are the kind of stories that make the right wing blogs feel so proud. They jump on and distort stories to make themselves feel big and important, when they, in this instance, had nothing to do with any of it. Now they all feel the need to pile only after Newsweek apologizes for what has occurred. It's not like the President has given us the same respect.

It's a bad deal all around for everyone involved, but I didn't see anyone on the right ashamed or outraged that anything had occurred to the Koran in the first place. Maybe I just missed all those posts about respect for religion and tolerance for believers. Maybe I was too busy reading about American churches casting out Democrats. But I missed that outcry of religious persecution, too.

Oh, and it's not like the boys at Powerline (blog of the year!) have never gotten anything wrong, either. I don't think your high horse has the legs you think it does, fellas.

Here's the Newsweek "retraction." Here's the key part:
Last Friday, a top Pentagon spokesman told us that a review of the probe cited in our story showed that it was never meant to look into charges of Qur'an desecration. The spokesman also said the Pentagon had investigated other desecration charges by detainees and found them "not credible." Our original source later said he couldn't be certain about reading of the alleged Qur'an incident in the report we cited, and said it might have been in other investigative documents or drafts. Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we.

Get that? The Pentagon spokesman said the review Newsweek cited wasn't supposed to look into the Koran desecration, not that it hadn't occurred. The source that Newsweek used doesn't deny reading the report of Koran desecration, but now says he must have read it in a different report. And at the end, they state clearly that these charges are still under investigation, so there's no end as of now.

*UPDATE* Newsweek caused the riots?
General Myers said it was General Eikenberry's view that "the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran." He said General Eikenberry believed the violence stemmed from the country's reconciliation process.

"He thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine," General Myers added.

It does seem a little far fetched to think that a small article in Newsweek would stir up that much violence, where again many other reports of the same action caused nothing.

*UPDATE* Never happened before:
One such incident—during which the Koran allegedly was thrown in a pile and stepped on—prompted a hunger strike among Guantanamo detainees in Mar. 2002, which led to an apology. The New York Times interviewed former detainee Nasser Nijer Naser al-Mutairi May 1, who said the protest ended with a senior officer delivering an apology to the entire camp.

"A former interrogator at Guantanamo, in an interview with the Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans," Times reporters Neil A. Lewis and Eric Schmitt wrote in "Inquiry Finds Abuses at Guantanamo Bay."

There's more...

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Intelligent design

From the ongoing debate about Intelligence Design and evolution:
Last year, the [Kansas state] board asked a committee of educators to draft recommendations for updating the standards, then accepted two rival proposals.

One, backed by a majority of those educators, continues an evolution-friendly tone from the current standards. Those standards would define science as "a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us." That's close to the current definition.

The other proposal is backed by intelligent design advocates and is similar to language in Ohio's standards. It defines science as "a systematic method of continuing investigation" using observation, experiment, measurement, theory building, testing of ideas and logical argument to lead to better explanations of natural phenomena.

So how do you make "intelligent design" fit into that context? How do you continually investigate intelligent design? Do you look at random objects in nature and go, "Yep, had to be made by someone, no way this evolved." What about experiments? Do you put a glass box off to the side and wait for life to form in it? If it doesn't, does that disprove your theory? And is any of that really science?

I'm not saying intelligent design isn't a theory of how the world began, I'm just saying it is not a scientific one. I'm listening for you to convince me otherwise.

*UPDATE* Let me put it this way. You don't teach intelligent design in school for the same reason you don't teach evolution in church. One is science, and belongs in a science class, the other religion. Hopefully you can figure it out on your own.

Welcome to Iraq

Thanks for the visit, Condoleezza:
The bodies of 34 men shot execution-style were found in three locations in less than 24 hours, police said Sunday, a day when drive-by shootings and suicide bombings killed at least eight Iraqis, including a senior Industry Ministry official and a top Shiite cleric.


Insurgents launched more brazen attacks Sunday in a seemingly endless campaign apparently aimed at enflaming sectarian tensions, destabilizing Iraq’s new government and forcing U.S.-led troops out of the country.

Gunmen in two cars shot to death Industry Ministry official Col. Jassam Mohammed al-Lahibi and his driver in western Baghdad’s Ghazaliyah neighborhood, police and Interior Ministry officials said.

A leading Shiite cleric, Sheik Qassim al-Gharawi, and his nephew were killed in another drive-by shooting in the capital’s New Baghdad neighborhood, according to police Lt. Col. Ahmed Aboud.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

James Dobson and kitten sweaters

From a New York Times article about the upcoming filibuster battle, from the mouth of Rick Santorum:
"Now we are forced to do something that societies often do when people can't control their desires. We have to pass laws to stop their desires."

Is that right? Do we as a society pass laws to stop people's desires? And if so, who decides which desires are acceptable? Clearly to Ricky, going nuclear in the Senate is a desire, and there are clearly rules in place that are supposed to prevent that from happening. He had a desire to illegally enroll his kids in a cyberschool when he lived outside the district costing taxpayers close to $100,000, too. Clearly the law has little effect on Ricky's desires.

Of course, the answer is, Rick Santorum thinks he should decide which desires are acceptable and which aren't. Which is a shocking admission on his part. Rule of law is not in place to curb desires, but rather to ensure that society functions properly. It punishes those who act out on the wrong desires, to be sure, but the function of passing laws is not to "stop desires," but rather to make sure there is recourse for those who are effected by others negative desires.

Now, shortly after I read Ricky's quote, I came across this quote from James Dobson:
"The federal judiciary more and more is making the great moral decisions of our time," Dobson said during a 75-minute interview with The Associated Press. He ticked off rulings involving abortion, the Pledge of Allegiance and the definition of marriage.

"This Supreme Court has co-opted for itself many of the issues that the American people ought to be making through their elected representatives," he said. "The decisions that are coming down from the Supreme Court have profound implications for the family and for conservative concepts of morality."

But of course, courts aren't in place to rule on the morality of our actions, but the legality of them. If it is against the law to deny a woman an abortion, then laws that prevent women from having abortions are illegal, regardless of what you think morally about that. Further, the court is there not to impose it's will on the people, but to make sure the people don't impose their will on each other illegally.

Maybe this is the problem with Republicans as a whole. They want to pass laws to curb desires and impose morality on the public, and that simply isn't going to work.

Look, if I have a desire to view pornography, I'll probably find a way to do it. Some goes for crocheting sweaters for kittens or crocheting a sweater made from them. Making those things illegal won't curb that desire. If you make kitten sweaters criminal, than only criminals will own kitten sweaters.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Bad investment advice

Someone should tell President Bush that he has millions of dollars invested in "just IOUs" and "empty promises."

Equal protection

Sarah Posner at the Gadflyer explains the equal protection clause in light of Republican talking points on the recent overturning of Nebraska's gay hatred law.

The real question in my mind is this: How to convince a majority of Americans that equal protection is indeed important to them, seeing as they are in the majority?


He writes:
Democrats have won the semantic war by getting this branded "the nuclear option," a colorful and deliberately inflammatory term (although Republican Trent Lott, ever helpful, appears to have originated the term).

Wait, what? Trent Lott originates and uses a term (along with other Republicans until recently) and suddenly it is Democrats who got this action branded as the nuclear option? I was wondering why this paragraph reeked more than the others. You can figure out yourself what its full of...

More from Chuck:
One of the great traditions, customs and unwritten rules of the Senate is that you do not filibuster judicial nominees. You certainly do not filibuster judicial nominees who would otherwise win an up-or-down vote. And you surely do not filibuster judicial nominees in a systematic campaign to deny a president and a majority of the Senate their choice of judges. That is historically unprecedented.

While technically true, I would suggest Krauthammer find a TiVo'ed copy of Chuck Hagel's appearance on ABC's "This Week?":
"The Republicans' hands aren't clean on this either. What we did with Bill Clinton's nominees _ about 62 of them _ we just didn't give them votes in committee or we didn't bring them up," Hagel said.

Which would also belie Krauthammer's conclusion that the Democrat's actions are "radical." Democrats are actually less radical that the GOP during Clinton, by a score of 62-10.

I guess the only thing "radical" is the Democrat's use of Republican tactics.

*UPDATE* Looks like Krauthammer knows where the blame really lies after all (my emphasis): conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote then, "Republicans have established a terrible precedent. Requiring nominees for high office to get not 50 but 60 votes is a bad way to run the country. Sixty votes should be required for something large."

While I give him credit for maintaining his stance on the filibuster, Charles knows better then to claim this is all the work of Democrats. And some would even argue that life time federal appeals courts appointments fit that "something large" qualification as well. You can argue that amongst yourselves.

"We have to move forward"

With those words, Senate Minority leader Harry Reid offered the biggest compromise to date - the approval of four previously filibustered judges in exchange for absolutely nothing. No strings attached. Not even a free iPod for Democratic Senators.

And GOP leader Bill Frist rejected it outright.

In the great battle over the filibuster, both sides claim victory at every step. But how, after this, can Bill Frist and the GOP not be seen as power hungry and unwilling to compromise? Hell, he could even have accepted on those judges and maintained his stance on the others.

It just goes to show that Frist and the GOP radicals don't care who actually gets through the filibuster process. They just want the power in their hands.

Freshman Blues

Argus Leader, May 10, 2005:
Sen. Tom Daschle often played his hand with voters, saying he had been effective before as Senate minority leader and would be good again in saving the giant, a $200 million-plus engine in the Rapid City area economy.

Challenger John Thune countered that he could match Daschle's power because he would have the ear of President Bush when it came to big decisions affecting the state.

Voters dismissed Daschle's clout and chose Thune, leaving him to reap the glory or the criticism, depending on the decision.

Earlier this month, Thune amplified his influence with Bush on the issue when he said he was in a position to "weigh in in a significant way for the state."

WaPo, May 13, 2005:
The Pentagon's recommendation to close Ellsworth Air Force Base dealt a political setback to South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the Republican whose close ties to the White House helped him defeat Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.

Will voters remember this in six years? Probably. It's a shame to the people of South Dakota, though, that Thune's promise so far has come in unfulfilled.

Friday Random Ten

Stolen from here, it's pure computer randomness at it's finest!

1) Memory Machine - The Dismemberment Plan
2) I Will Never See the Sun - Great Lake Swimmers
3) Intesify - !!!
4) Peephole (live) - Guided By Voices
5) Meantime - Futureheads
6) Handwriting - Lois Maffeo & Brendan Canty
7) The Music Box - Thebrotherkite
8) Only Superstition - Coldplay
9) Train From Kansas City - Neko Case
10) Wake Up - The Walkmen

Sorry I missed last week, but I've had a lot going on recently, so there you go.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pat's World

Fill in host of Scarborough Country, Pat Buchanan:
When one considers the losses suffered by Britain and France – hundreds of thousands dead, destitution, bankruptcy, the end of the empires – was World War II worth it, considering that Poland and all the other nations east of the Elbe were lost anyway?

What, indeed:
"That is more or less saying they fought for the wrong reasons and the sacrifice was futile," said Veterans of Foreign Wars spokesman Jerry Newberry. "Buchanan apparently hasn't given much thought to what the world would have looked like if Hitler and his henchmen would have succeeded."

I somehow doubt that's the reason.

Voinovich's lack

I haven't blogged much on John Bolton. I'm not a big fan from what I've heard, but I haven't had the time to follow the debate all that closely.

But for some reason, this bothers me:
Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, who had earlier stunned Republican peers by saying he wanted to review allegations against Bolton, portrayed Bolton as "arrogant" and "bullying." The senator said that while he would vote against the nomination in committee, he supported sending it to the full Senate for a vote.

"John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be," Voinovich said, adding that Bolton would be fired if he was in private business.

"That being said, Mr. Chairman, I am not so arrogant to think that I should impose my judgment and perspective of the U.S. position in the world community on the rest of my colleagues," he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "We owe it to the president to give Mr. Bolton an up or down vote on the floor."

Mr. Voinovich, you owe the President nothing on this one. You don't represent him. You represent the people of Ohio. And if you think that John Bolton would be a bad choice for the country and the people you are actually paid to stand up for, then you should vote him down. Don't extract your own political spine trying to have it both ways.

If John Bolton would be a poor diplomatic representative as you suggest, you should stand against him. It's part of your role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to judge nominations and decide if they will be good for America, not just the lame duck President who is afraid to lose what he sees as a political battle. If your afraid to make those decisions, then perhaps you should step down from your current role.

So Bolton will now move onto the floor of the Senate, where he should meet with fairly easy approval. And Voinovich deserves all the blame if something goes wrong.

At least the hallways of the U.N. should become more lively, eh?

*UPDATE* Steve Clemons, on the other hand, declares the vote without recommendation a great victory for Democrats, leading to more debate and possibly more damaging revelations. Forcing Bush and the White House to continue to play defense should be a good time for all involved (well, except Republicans) and should serve as an annoying distraction to those that want to push the GOP agenda forward.

Maybe things won't be so easy after all.

Walmart profit misses target

I guess that's what happens when you have to actually pay your cleaning crews.

*UPDATE* Imagine if they had to pay women who worked there an equal share.

A brief discussion

Stephen Moore and I(in italics):
...[C]onservatives should not despair. This fight has only further reinforced the notion that Republicans are the reform party in America and that today's Washington Democrats are reactionary obstructionists who are completely devoid of any ideas of their own. (When asked whom they trust more to handle Social Security, 48 percent of respondents said Democrats and 36 percent said Republicans. The president still faces strong opposition to his approach to Social Security, with 60 percent of those surveyed saying they disapprove. Even some who back his approach express doubts.)The only "solution" that Democrats have offered to deal with the multi-trillion-dollar Social Security crisis is to raise tax rates on the rich. Raise payroll taxes, income taxes, estate taxes and dividend taxes. And by the way, if you earn more than $90,000 a year, congratulations, the Democrats think you're rich. (And if you earn more than $20,000, Republicans seem to think you are one of the "better off.")

Bush deserves praise for being the first president in modern history to have the political courage to try to avert a tsunami of red ink in Social Security over the next 50 years.(Reagan and Clinton must be part of ancient history, then.) That is what the voters will ultimately remember about this political tug of war. The president and reform-minded Republicans may not win this first battle, but they are winning the war.(In early January, Americans divided evenly when asked whether Social Security needs major changes in the next year or two. Now 59% say it doesn't need to be changed right away. (snip)The poll showed higher public approval for AARP, the 35-million-member retiree organization that is leading the opposition to Bush's plan, than for the president. Bush's favorable rating was 56%, compared with 75% for AARP. And 47% of Americans said they trust the Democrats more to deal with the issue of Social Security, a 10-point advantage over Republicans.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Updating this count, Hugh Hewitt puts John Warner in the good column (well, good for Democrats):
McCain, Chafee and Warner appear to have defected, and Snowe of Maine is thought to be a lost cause as well, though the threat to her re-election that defection in this crucial issue would bring might yet garner her vote.

Judging from Hagel's speech this Sunday, I've got him voting against it as well.

That leaves Collins (ME), Sununu (NH), Gregg (NH), and Lugar (IN) as the main targets for 51.

If for some reason you haven't contacted your Senator already, give them a call now and express your outrage at the idea of overturning the filibuster, or thank them for being on your side.

It's a fight that comes closer to victory everyday.

The Ghraib effect

Hearts and minds:
Shouting "Death to America!" more than 1,000 demonstrators rioted and threw stones at a U.S. military convoy Wednesday, as protests spread to four Afghan provinces over a report that interrogators desecrated Islam's holy book at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Police fired on the protesters, many of them students, trying to stifle the biggest display of anti-American anger since the ouster of the ruling Taliban militia 3 years ago. There were no reports of American casualties, but the violence left four dead and 71 injured in Jalalabad, a city 80 miles east of the capital, Kabul.


The source of anger was a brief report in the May 9 edition of Newsweek that interrogators at Guantanamo placed Qurans on toilets to rattle suspects, and in at least one case "flushed a holy book down the toilet."

CA ballot initiatives

Here's what's been submitted so far:
Teacher tenure: Would extend from two to five years the time before teachers in public schools could qualify for tenure.

One of Arnold's babies. This one was actually an idea from my own Representative. I actually sent her an e-mail asking her to discuss the merits of this idea, and she never replied. I assume, then, that there aren't any.
Spending curbs: Would cap the amount of money that could be spent on government programs and could force automatic cuts if the state budget was not approved on time or fell out of balance during the year.

Another one of Arnold's, this one could have a potential negative impact on school funding, police funding, et al.
Lawmakers' districts: Would give a panel of retired judges responsibility for determining the boundaries of legislative and congressional districts — a task now performed by the Legislature. Would order districts redrawn next year.

Arnold's third baby. State Democrats have already agreed to the redrawing of congressional districts by judges. However there are severe time constraints that inhibit this being done by 2006, and it's wasteful spending to do it in 2008. If Arnold weren't so headstrong, this one probably wouldn't need to be here.
Public union dues: Would prohibit public labor unions from using a member's dues for political contributions unless the member agreed in writing.

I'm not sure who put this one on the ballot, but it should bring in a lot of union money from all over the country. Since union stance generally oppose the Schwarzenegger proposals, this could spell big trouble for Arnold come election night.

If this one does pass, however, it could be a major blow to Democratic fundraising.
Abortion notification: Would block minors from obtaining abortions until 48 hours after their parents were notified.

Quite honestly I see nothing wrong with this, as long as there is an exemption in cases of incest and familial rape.
Required prescription drug discounts. Would require drug companies to lower the prices of medicine for Californians earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level, or $38,280 for individuals. Companies that refused would face new barriers to having their drugs prescribed in the state's Medi-Cal program.

Voluntary prescription drug discounts: Companies would lower prices for Californians earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level, or $28,710 for individuals. There would be no penalty for companies that didn't reduce prices. The pharmaceutical industry agreed to this plan in negotiations with Schwarzenegger last year.

I could totally see both of these passing, unless one's passage negates the other. In this instance, I go for number one, although I could get behind a hybrid bill with the requirement provision and the 300% figure.
Electricity: Would reverse the last vestiges of California's failed 1996 electricity deregulation law, putting all power producers under the jurisdiction of the California Public Utilities Commission and making it illegal for large users to sign new contracts to buy electricity outside the state's power grid. Schwarzenegger vetoed similar legislation last year.

Quite honestly, I don't know how I feel about this one without more research.

Sugar, sugar

Support CAFTA because it will cause no impact on the price of sugar to go down.:
Speaking at an agribusiness rally for CAFTA on Capitol Hill, [Pennsylvania Senator Rick] Santorum said he hopes increased sugar imports allowed under CAFTA will cause sugar prices to go down.


But Johanns told the same audience he doesn't expect CAFTA to have any affect on sugar prices.

"CAFTA doesn't involve enough sugar to have an impact on that program," he said. "It isn't going to impact price."

I don't know enough about CAFTA at this point to know who's right, but I do know if I had two guys out there shilling my policy, I'd get them on the same page.


Houston Chronicle:
We asked him a lot of questions. He repeatedly told us they were good questions. Then he avoided answering them.

For example, [chair of the White House National Economics Council Al] Hubbard says the administration would use surpluses in the Social Security trust funds to finance the transition to private accounts, which by some estimates would cost as much as $2 trillion.


Hubbard proposes having the funds lend money for the switch to private accounts.

The move, he said, will help shore up government finances because Congress won't be able to spend the trust fund money.

Wouldn't Congress still be obligated to repay the trust fund for the cost of establishing the private accounts system?

After all, somebody has to pay for it.

That's a good question, Hubbard said when I asked him. His answer: Our president is committed to fiscal discipline.

You see, by taking the trust fund surplus — almost $151 billion in the last fiscal year — away from those wanton spendthrifts in Congress, the administration will enforce that discipline.

That's a great idea. When, I asked, will we see an administration budget that reflects a $151 billion spending cut? Wouldn't that be the first step to funding private accounts?

That's a good question, he said. Congress, you see, loves to spend money, and getting it to stop isn't easy.

And so it went.

So the Bush administration wants to take the money from the trust fund that they claim doesn't exist to pay future benefits and spend it on changing the system over to a private account system that, according to some studies, will only accelerate the loss of revenue in said trust fund, meaning the amount they want to "borrow" against a trust fund they claim doesn't actually exist won't actually exist.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Putting families first

Apparently the Bush EPA is delaying required rules to protect children and construction workers from lead contaminates because of the potential cost to business:
EPA officials emphasize that they are concerned about lead exposure and its effect on children. They also point to an internal study showing that the cost of the regulations — $1.7 billion to $3.1 billion annually — could be an overwhelming burden for the mostly small businesses that renovate buildings.

I've never understood the idea of putting the costs of small business ahead of the potential health and financial burdens small families would have to deal with if nothing is done.

Lead poisoning can lead to birth defects, educational disorders, and lowered IQ in small children. I guess when it comes to protecting the unborn, you can only do so much.