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

Sunday, July 31, 2005


New York Times:
As the Pentagon was making its final preparations to begin war crimes trials against four detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, two senior prosecutors complained in confidential messages last year that the trial system had been secretly arranged to improve the chance of conviction and to deprive defendants of material that could prove their innocence.


Among the striking statements in the prosecutors' messages was an assertion by one that the chief prosecutor had told his subordinates that the members of the military commission that would try the first four defendants would be "handpicked" to ensure that all would be convicted.

The same officer, Capt. John Carr of the Air Force, also said in his message that he had been told that any exculpatory evidence - information that could help the detainees mount a defense in their cases - would probably exist only in the 10 percent of documents being withheld by the Central Intelligence Agency for security reasons.

Captain Carr's e-mail message also said that some evidence that at least one of the four defendants had been brutalized had been lost and that other evidence on the same issue had been withheld. The March 15, 2004, message was addressed to Col. Frederick L. Borch, the chief prosecutor who was the object of much of Captain Carr's criticism.

The second officer, Maj. Robert Preston, also of the Air Force, said in a March 11, 2004, message to another senior officer in the prosecutor's office that he could not in good conscience write a legal motion saying the proceedings would be "full and fair" when he knew they would not.

When news is not news *Updated*

Eleanor Clift, Republican shill and talk show guest, thinks that Shelly Moore Capito could defeat incumbent Senator Robert Byrd in 2006. Why is this newsworthy? It's not really, no more so than me stating that I think Byrd will defeat Capito.

Then there's this winner:
Byrd alienated many West Virginians with his outspoken opposition to the Iraq war, Clift said.

Uh, someone should tell Clift that a majority of Americans don't think the Iraq war was worth it anymore. So I'm not sure why she thinks his opposition will hurt him.

Oh yeah. Because she's a Republican shill.

*UPDATE* Okay, she's not really a shill. But I'm still confused as to why this whole article was newsworthy.

Here's what I probably would have written, had I not been tired from work.

Eleanor Clift weighs in on the 2006 West Virginia Senate seat and the possibility of Shelly Moore Capito defeating incumbent Senator Robert Byrd. Obviously this will be one to watch should Capito enter the race, as evidenced by the money already being spent there.

Clift, does, however, ring false with one of her critiques:
Byrd alienated many West Virginians with his outspoken opposition to the Iraq war, Clift said.

Except, of course, a majority of Americans now agree with Byrd's stance on the Iraq war, and that majority continues to grow. So while in its heyday the Iraq war may have been an issue for Byrd to defend against, now it may turn out to be a political windfall. And from my brief time in West Virginia, most seemed to like Byrd because he did not waver, and he brought a huge amount of federal fnding to the state.

While his age will probably be the bigest factor in this race, Democrats can feel slightly safe if Byrd runs, and even safer is Capito doesn't.

My apologies to Clift for calling her a shill.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


On the way home I heard a news story filled with the same old Republican rhetoric, this time stating that CAFTA would help boost national security by limiting immigration.

So here are your options:
A) Stay and work in your home country, no doubt for pennies an hour with no benefits at all and no workplace protection.

B) Leave your home country for America, where the jobs pay better and you aren't worried about unpaid overtime (unless you work at Wal-Mart)

Of course, if the American companies all relocate to Central America for the cheap labor, it's a moot point. The job losses here in America would then become the issue. But hey, cheap labor and business profits are job one, right Republicans?

Oh, and you have to love Democracy in action:
The House Rules Committee on Tuesday night approved a rule that would allow the legislation to come up for a floor vote as early as Wednesday. The rule would allow two hours of debate. The legislation can't be amended.

Republicans have also decided to block Democrats from proposing any alternative, either.

This should bring in a new era of politics, where if the Republican party that wins the most seats, they go to work and Democrats may as well stay home since they are effectively barred from doing anything. It's a good example for all this Democracy exporting we've planned on doing, no?

*UPDATE* Well, after an hour of arm twisting, Republicans have overcome the inital defeat of the bill:
When time for the vote on the Central American Free Trade Agreement expired at 11:15, the nays outnumbered the yeas by 191 to 182. But a few minutes past midnight the GOP leadership, ignoring Democratic protests that the rules were being violated, had rounded up enough votes to win by 217-215.

Find who voted how here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Republican Congress and their priorities:

Give aways to the energy industry

Shielding gun makers from lawsuits

Stopping drug compaines from being sued

To the future

If subsidies and incentives are good enough for the energy industry (more offshore drilling? sure!), they should be good enough for the average working man. And that seems to be the gist of the AmeriSave plan that House Democrats will soon offer as an alternative to privatizing Social Security:
The Democratic plan, called AmeriSave, would increase incentives for middle-class workers to participate in 401(k) retirement accounts and individual retirement accounts. It would also create tax credits for small businesses that set up retirement accounts for their employees.

In theory these are good ideas. They encourage retirement investment for the working class while keeping Social Security untouched. But I'm still not sure how you sell the public on the idea of money later for retirement over groceries and clothing for their family now. People's fear of the future is no doubt tempered by their fear of the present - who cares if I can eat tomorrow when I can barely afford to do it right now.

Want people to retire with more money? Give them better paying jobs with better benefits. Stop subsidising companies to do things they would be forced to do anyways.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Want to cut 4 billion from public schools in California?

Vote Yes on the California "Live Within Our Means Act" in this fall's special election.

Anyone who wonders why government spending seems to outpace tax revenue should read "The Great American Jobs Scam," by Greg LeRoy. It's a fairly short read and full of information that will make you more than a little upset at all the local Wal-Marts you have popping up in your neighborhood.

What's the difference?

The Mercury News wonders, aside from the cutting of the car tax, what's the difference between Former California governor Gray Davis and current governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I think the answer is Arnold will be a one term governor who actually loses an election, not a politically spearheaded recall.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Warner leads in Virginia

Who says Democrats can't take back the Senate in 2006?
Current Virginia governor Mark Warner holds the upper hand in a prospective election to the United States Senate, according to a poll by Rasmussen Reports. 48 per cent of respondents in the Old Dominion State would vote for the Democrat in a head-to-head contest against incumbent Republican senator George Allen.

It's an eight point swing from a similar poll in April.

Cheney: Stop defending human rights

OC Register:
Vice President Dick Cheney is leading a high-level White House lobbying effort to block legislation offered by Republican senators that would regulate the detention, treatment and trials of detainees held by the American military.

In an unusual, 30-minute private meeting Thursday night on Capitol Hill, Cheney warned three senior Republican members of the Armed Services Committee that their proposed legislation would interfere with the president's authority and his ability to protect Americans against terrorist attacks.

The legislation, which is still being drafted, includes provisions to bar the military from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross; prohibit cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees; and use only interrogation techniques authorized in a new Army field manual.

The three Republicans are Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John W. Warner of Virginia, the committee chairman. They have complained that the Pentagon has failed to hold senior defense officials and military officers responsible for the abuses that took place at the Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, Iraq, and at other detention centers in Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan.

There's only one reason you would not want to pass those protections into law, and that is because you are currently doing them or want to do them in the future.

Blowing up Roberts

Earlier this week I suggested there would be little to stand in the way of John Roberts being approved to the Supreme Court. I figured unless he gave some horribly insensitive speech somewhere, he was going to be pretty close to a lock. And while I still think he will be confirmed, Democrats now have a good reason to block the process however they can:
Citing privacy and precedent, the Bush administration indicated Sunday it does not intend to release all memos and other documents written by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts when he worked for two Republican presidents.

The leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will conduct hearings on Roberts' nomination, disputed the assertion that privacy was at stake and called such a position a "red herring."


Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said other nominees, including Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, have provided material they wrote in confidence while working in the Justice Department.

"It's a total red herring to say, 'Oh, we can't show this,'" Leahy told ABC's "This Week." "

"And of course there is no lawyer-client privilege," he said. "Those working in the solicitor general's office are not working for the president. They're working for you and me and all the American people."

Leahy and the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said Roberts' elevation to the Supreme Court called for a high standard of evaluation — higher than that when the Senate agreed to out Roberts on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in May 2003.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Imagine if we charged $2.75...

I'm happy to let you know that all the suffering you've done at the pump lately paying $2.50/gallon for gas has kept the oil industry in record profits.

I'm sure this is part of the Republican plan to keep the economy humming, but I'm just not sure how it works yet.

Arnold's blues

Where to begin? First, there's the magazine deal, which is generating quite the storm and drawn two ethics complaints. Quite honestly, I did not think this one would have legs, but it has become quite the talking point on the left coast so far.

I would have bet that this deal, in which Arnold actually makes a profit from his PAC fundraising by charging them rent in an office building Arnold owns would be the bigger deal. So far, I'm wrong. But it's possible this one is simply lying dormant for now. Only time will tell.

Either way, none of these issues is going to help out Arnold's poll numbers, which show he can go even lower than anyone thought possible, now at only 34% approval.

And late this evening comes the news that Arnold's redistricting ballot, one of the gems of ballot initiative drive has been thrown off the ballot. Can't say I'm disappointed by that one, either.

Cleaning house

Sorry for the long lapse, but the last few days have been consumed with household chores and a return to the 6 am to 6 pm work shift. On the plus side, I've learned the term "water hammer" and the do's of installing a dishwasher. The negatives? I've learned the term "water hammer" and the don'ts of installing a dishwasher.

But I figured I'd do a little house cleaning on some links I missed, and that you may have, too.

First off, Hillary is pretty safe, and Spitzer still looks good in New York, although his once huge gap has started to slip. As far as Hillary goes, I hope the Republicans waste as much money as possible trying to unseat her. I think the Spitzer gap narrowing was pretty predictable, but much more narrowing beyond this give me pause for worry. Either way, it's still early.

More than half the country wants to know John Roberts stance on abortion while Democrats may take a different line of questioning with Roberts altogether. Republicans are apparently coaching Roberts to be mum on everything, knowing that he can say and do all the stupid things he wants after he is confirmed and not a moment sooner. My take? He'll be confirmed relatively bloodlessly, and the real battle comes later on.

Barbara Hafer, once a candidate to unseat Rick Santorum, may decide instead to face off against Rep Tim Murphy for his seat. I'm one of those people who felt she got a raw deal in her dealings with Pennsylvanian Democrats as they decided Bob Casey was the man for them, so consider this an early endorsement for Hafer. I wish her all the best.

I'll save the Arnold stuff for another post.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What are they thinking?

Look, it's no secret here that I oppose privatizing Social Security. Because of that, I'm a little leery of giving out this piece of advice to Republicans, but I'm going to do it anyway.

The best way to generate more support for your privatization scheme is not to make it more risky for retirees. And the only ones who would readily agree to give up guaranteed benefit levels in exchange for inheritability are the people who can afford to do so. In other words, there is no benefit for the average working man in your latest proposal.

And how do private accounts that invest in government securities change anything, really? Isn't the government still on the hook for the bill? Isn't this just more smoke and mirrors?

It's almost as if the GOP wants to fail at privatizing Social Security.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Parsing words

What does Bush say now?
President Bush said Monday that if anyone in his administration committed a crime in connection with the public leak of the identity of a CIA operative, that person will "no longer work in my administration."

If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.

Since it seems it may prove difficult to convict Karl Rove of outing Valerie Plame, Bush is no hedging his bets.

Of course if anyone was convicted of a crime in his administration they'd be gone. The public would most certainly demand it.

But outing someone for partisan gain? Well, that's okay with Bush.

I guess "taken care of" meant promote to a senior official.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Remember folks - even if Karl Rove is not found guilty of leaking a CIA agents name, it's important to remember that the Bush White House is still full of liars:
White House political aide Karl Rove was the first person to tell a Time magazine reporter that the wife of a prominent critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy was a CIA officer, the reporter said in an article Sunday.

A top Cheney aide was also among the sources, Cooper said Sunday.

Earlier denials
Until last week, the White House had insisted for nearly two years that vice presidential chief of staff Lewis Libby and Rove were not involved in the leaks.

Cooper said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he spoke to Libby after first learning about Wilson's wife from Rove.

Good times
Democrats have pointed to ethics claims against Tom DeLay, the majority leader, to make the case Republicans have abused their power. The public seems to be noticing. By 45 per cent to 38 per cent, people say they would prefer the 2006 elections to yield a Congress with a Democratic majority, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Democratic fundraising is keeping pace with that sentiment.

The Senate Democrats' campaign effort has out-raised Senate Republicans in the past three months. Democrats took in $13m (€10.8m, €7.4m) compared with $11m by Republicans. Republicans are feeling the effects of internal jockeying for advantage in the 2008 presidential contest, as potential candidates such as senators Bill Frist, Chuck Hagel, George Allen and John McCain stake out their turf. While potential Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and John Edwards, are engaged in jockeying of their own, there are fewer signs it has disrupted the party.

It certainly is looking good for Democrats in the midterm elections, though I personally would like to see those numbers a bit higher. This was conducted before the Rove affair started as well, so the effect of that remains to be seen.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Reiterating a point: job market

There are less people looking for jobs, and that is the biggest contribution to the low unemployment rate. Ask the fed (via DeLong):
All of the improvement in participation rates during this recovery has come from people over 55, as more relatively healthy Baby Boomers enter this cohort. At the same time, participation rates for teenagers have fallen to 44% after averaging more than 50% during the 1990s boom. If labor force participation rates had improved as much during this recovery as typical, between 1.6 million and 5.1 million more people would be in the labor force, Bradbury concluded. If those people were counted in the labor force but not working, the jobless rate would have been somewhere between 6.5% and 8.7%, rather than the 5.4% reported by the Labor Department in the three months from November 2004 to February 2005. "An 8.7% unemployment rate would represent considerable slack in the labor market," Bradbury said.

Friday, July 15, 2005

30 minutes online

That's all it took for one columnist to track down Valerie Plame's name based on the information Karl Rove gave to reporters.

But at least he didn't give out her name.

Surf Falluja

NY Times:
Thousands of American and Iraqi troops live in crumbling buildings here and patrol streets laced with concertina wire. Any Iraqi entering the city must show a badge and undergo a search at one of six checkpoints. There is a 10 p.m. curfew.

But the insurgency is rising from the rubble nevertheless, eight months after the American military killed as many as 1,500 Iraqis in a costly invasion that fanned anti-American passions across Iraq and the Arab world.

Somewhere in the bowels of Falluja, the former guerrilla stronghold 35 miles west of Baghdad, where four American contractors were killed in an ambush, and the bodies of two were hanged from a bridge, in March 2004, insurgents are building suicide car bombs again.

At least four have exploded in recent weeks, one of them killing six American troops, including four women. Two of five police forts being erected have been firebombed. Three members of the nascent, 21-seat city council have suddenly quit and another member has stopped attending meetings, presumably because they have been threatened.

And what's worse for public opinion than a military occupation by foriegn forces? How about one producing more fleeting results?

Friday Random Ten

(Idea here) Calvin's Trying To Tell Me Something Edition:
1) Angel Gone - Beat Happening
2) Satisfied Mind - The City on Film
3) Census - Your Enemies Friends
4) Cherry Chapstick - Yo La Tengo
5) Shake a Puddin' - Dub Narcotic Sound System
6) Ass Ravaged Beats - Run Chico Run
7) Axons and Dendrites - Shipping News
8) Dreamy You - All Girl Summer Fun Band
9) Cast a Shadow - Beat Happening
10) The Employment Pages - Death Cab For Cutie

Rovian lifting

So let's see if I have this right. Bob Novak knew Plame was an agent, and Karl Rove confirmed it for him. And therefore, we absolve the high level government official who has the power to actual confirm the rumor because Novak already knew?

He didn't tell Novak, "Plame works for the CIA." Instead he told him "Yes, Plame does work for the CIA," when he should have said, "Bob, I don't want to get involved in this outing business purely for political gain. It's fruitless, and is bad for America."

That's what he should have said.

But his lawyer is trying to wiggle Rove out of this mess, using all the lube he can find. But I thought we weren't supposed to discuss this information until the investigation was final.

But it's alright. Clinton hater Dick Morris (identified only as a "former Clinton political advisor") says Rove is okay.

I don't know what we were worried about.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Oh yeah, the economy's humming

US jobless claims rose by 16,000 to a six-week high of 336,000 in the week ended July 9, the Labor Department said.


Meanwhile, the number of former workers collecting unemployment checks rose by 45,000 in the week ended July 2 to 2.62 million, a four-week high.

Once again, the recent drops in the unemployment rate is not because more folks are finding work, but because fewer people are still looking.

Sound the death knell

Social Security reform is pretty much dead:
House leaders said yesterday that they can't take up a Social Security bill before this fall, dealing a serious blow to any hope that Congress might enact an overhaul of the nation's retirement system this year.

The Senate is no closer to action than the House of Representatives.

That means the legislation, if it's ever taken up, is likely to be pushed into 2006, where election-year politics could make it virtually impossible to tackle the type of controversial changes that President Bush envisions.

All this should be seen as a big victory for Democrats, of course, who stood strong and united to protect the Republican raiders. And if they can't parlay this battle into wins in 2006, then this will prove to be a won battle in a lost war rather than actual victory.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Last Throes

Yeah, right:
Iraqi civilians and police officers died at a rate of more than 800 a month between August and May, according to figures released in June by the Interior Ministry.

Among civilian casualties is Qusay Bahnam Shamoun, 28, who was seriously burned in a suicide-bombing in June in which his brother was killed. With him was his wife, Noha Rafail; they had been married a month.

In response to questions from The New York Times, the ministry said that 8,175 Iraqis were killed by insurgents in the 10 months that ended May 31. The ministry did not give detailed figures for the months before August 2004, nor did it provide a breakdown of the figures, which do not include either Iraqi soldiers or civilians killed during American military operations.

While the figures were not broken down month by month, it has been clear since the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari took over after the Jan. 30 election that the insurgency is taking an increasing toll, killing Iraqi civilians and security workers at a faster rate.

In June the interior minister, Bayan Jabr, told reporters that insurgents had killed about 12,000 Iraqis since the start of the American occupation - a figure officials have emphasized is approximate - an average monthly toll of about 500.

Blow that out of tune horn

I've read a few posts elsewhere about the great Bush tax cuts fueling more tax revenue and causing the current shrink in the federal deficit. Which would be fine if it were actually true:
Independent budget experts cautioned that a number of debatable assumptions underpin the White House's deficit projections. The improved budget picture for 2005 is almost all the result of $87 billion in unanticipated tax receipts, much of which may have resulted from one-time events, such as a one-year corporate tax holiday enacted last year.

So the real test will be to see if these reductions continue over a sustained period of time, all the while dealing with Social Security surplus shrinking and almost certain underbudgeting for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now that we've exploited it, we're sorry

That will be Ken Mehlman's message to the NAACP tomorrow morning in regards to the "Southern Strategy," the using of race baiting to appeal to white southern voters.

If you doubt it, think about all the messages of equality that Bush spoke on during the campaign. Can't think of any? Me either.

Game On!

Well, almost:
After an all-night session capped nine straight days of talks, a new collective bargaining agreement was reached Wednesday morning between the NHL and the Players Association, Newsday has learned.

The NHLPA's executive committee approved the deal, which is expected to be made official in a news release later today by the NHL. The union will advise its members of the deal at noon through a conference call with player representatives from each of the 30 teams.

Both sides need to agree and ratify the deal before it takes effect.

Casey still up on Santorum in PA

Sixteen months before they potentially could square off in Pennsylvania's next U.S. Senate election, Republican incumbent Rick Santorum still trails Democratic hopeful Robert P. Casey Jr., according to a new poll.

The Quinnipiac University poll of 1,639 Pennsylvania voters showed Casey, the state treasurer, leading the second-term senator 50 percent to 39 percent - reflecting a tightening from Casey's 49-35 percent lead in an April survey by the same pollster.

Santorum's job-approval rating rebounded during that period from 48 percent to 51 percent. Forty-five percent of the respondents said he deserves another term and 38 percent said he does not.

Even with his approval rating peaking over 50 as the Terri Schaivo storm dies down, less than half of the state believes he deserves another term. And this poll was commissioned before Santorum's book appeared to disparage blacks and women.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Apparently the President doesn't care

No one's asked Rove what he did or did not do:
Rove has not been asked by senior White House officials whether he did anything illegal or potentially embarrassing to the president and he spent most of the day strategizing on Bush's Supreme Court nomination, aides said.

"No one has asked him what he told the grand jury. No one has deemed it appropriate," said a senior White House official, who would discuss the Rove case only on the condition of anonymity. "What you all need to figure out is, does this amount to a crime? That is a legitimate debate."

And the Republican strategy is to huff and bluster until the Supreme Court nominee battle can get underway and hopefully obscure the Rove kerfuffle.

I can hear Democrats (hopefully) now:
"The President has chosen for his trusted friend and adviser a man who blew the cover of a CIA agent, and we should trust him with his pick for the Supreme Court?"

Or words to that effect.

Of course the Republican strategy on Rove hints that Bush is going hard conservative with his Supreme Court pick, as a moderate would draw little attention away from precious Karl and his potential law violation.

A question

If I link approvingly to two studies, onw which demostrates that most terrorist attacks occur not because of Islamic fundamentalism but rather our occupational forces and the other suggesting that you are more likely to die from falling off a ladder than a terrorist strike, does that mean I don't fully understand the importance of "The War on Terror?"

Here's more from the American Conservative article:
TAC: That would seem to run contrary to a view that one heard during the American election campaign, put forth by people who favor Bush’s policy. That is, we need to fight the terrorists over there, so we don’t have to fight them here.

[Associate Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago]: Since suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism, the use of heavy military force to transform Muslim societies over there, if you would, is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists coming at us.

Since 1990, the United States has stationed tens of thousands of ground troops on the Arabian Peninsula, and that is the main mobilization appeal of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. People who make the argument that it is a good thing to have them attacking us over there are missing that suicide terrorism is not a supply-limited phenomenon where there are just a few hundred around the world willing to do it because they are religious fanatics. It is a demand-driven phenomenon. That is, it is driven by the presence of foreign forces on the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. The operation in Iraq has stimulated suicide terrorism and has given suicide terrorism a new lease on life.


The evidence shows that the presence of American troops is clearly the pivotal factor driving suicide terrorism.

If Islamic fundamentalism were the pivotal factor, then we should see some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world, like Iran, which has 70 million people—three times the population of Iraq and three times the population of Saudi Arabia—with some of the most active groups in suicide terrorism against the United States. However, there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Iran, and we have no evidence that there are any suicide terrorists in Iraq from Iran.

Sudan is a country of 21 million people. Its government is extremely Islamic fundamentalist. The ideology of Sudan was so congenial to Osama bin Laden that he spent three years in Sudan in the 1990s. Yet there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Sudan.

I have the first complete set of data on every al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from 1995 to early 2004, and they are not from some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world. Two thirds are from the countries where the United States has stationed heavy combat troops since 1990.

Another point in this regard is Iraq itself. Before our invasion, Iraq never had a suicide-terrorist attack in its history. Never. Since our invasion, suicide terrorism has been escalating rapidly with 20 attacks in 2003, 48 in 2004, and over 50 in just the first five months of 2005. Every year that the United States has stationed 150,000 combat troops in Iraq, suicide terrorism has doubled.

What you'd expect

If you were to wonder what kind of response Bush would have to the outing of a CIA agent by one of his own.
After two days of questions, the White House said today that President Bush continues to have confidence in Karl Rove, the presidential adviser at the center of the investigation into the leak identifying a female CIA officer.

The death of privatization

Radio Iowa:
Republicans on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee can't agree on how to reform Social Security, and the panel's chairman, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, says they may be close to failure, though he says he's not giving up yet.

One good scandal

Developments with Tom DeLay's TRMPAC scandal:
State District Judge Bob Perkins today said he believes two officials with Texans for a Republican Majority should stand trial on felony charges of money laundering.

The judge ruled that the state election code is constitutional and said he disagreed with arguments that the money-laundering charges had to refer to "cash" instead of a $190,000 check that the pair is accused laundering during the 2002 legislative elections.

That's the defense, that a check can't be laundered because it only represents funds, but is not actual cash. It's no wonder that was quickly shot down.

It will be interesting to see as these trials go forward how often Tom DeLay's name comes up and how much these two will be able or willing to sing.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Back from vacation

And should be around tomorrow.

But it probably speaks volumes that the whole time I watched CNN in out hotel room I heard not a word about Karl Rove leaking a CIA agents name to the media for partisanship, learning instead that a hurricane hit Florida and had (get this) strong winds and rain.

Maybe if it had been hurricane Karl, they could've mentioned it in one of those asides (while hurricane Karl breaks tree limbs and powerlines, Karl Rove breaks the law...)


Friday, July 08, 2005

Bribes, bribes, bribes, yeah`

Guess who:
A company indicted in a Texas campaign fundraising case says it was told that by giving a Tom DeLay political committee $25,000, company officials would get access to the U.S. House majority leader to influence legislation.

In court documents, Westar Energy of Kansas says that to meet with Mr. DeLay in 2002, company officials "were told they needed to write a check for $25,000" to Texans for a Republican Majority, known as TRMPAC.

It's the first time a company has said it donated to the Texas committee created by Mr. DeLay in exchange for a meeting and legislative help.

An aide to Mr. DeLay denied that he was swayed by the donation.

So not only does Tom DeLay take bribes, but he also doesn't honor them.

At least that's how I understand what the aide is saying.

Friday Random Ten

Vacation Weekend edition:
1) Your Dirty Answer - Kristen Hersh
2) Something To Look Forward To - Spoon
3) Don't Know Why - The Spectacular Fantastic
4) There's More to Life Than This - Bjork
5) Ever Changing Mood - Summer at Shatter Creek
6) Paul Simon - The Russian Futurists
7) This Modern Love - Bloc Party
8) Shot Out - The Twin Atlas
9) Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts - Arctic Monkeys
10) Damn If Feels Good to Be a Gangsta - Ghetto Boys

And no, despite the Ghetto Boys convincing arguments, I've never wanted to be a gangsta.

Dropping out

I've said it before, but here it is again.

The drop in the unemployment rate isn't cause by the weaker than expected job growth each month, but rather by the number of people who are dropping out of the work force.

But now you don't have to take just my word for it.

And once again, the manufacturing sector lost jobs, now the forth month in a row.

So things aren't as rosy as that 5.0% number may have you believe.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Thoughts and prayers:
At least 33 people were killed when three explosions ripped through London subway trains Thursday and an undetermined number were killed in a fourth explosion on a bus, officials said in what Prime Minister Tony Blair described as a "barbaric" terrorist attack.

U.S. law enforcement officials earlier said the death toll from the four blasts was at least 40.

Some 45 people were in serious or critical condition, London officials told reporters Thursday afternoon in describing the worst attack on London since World War II.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


David Broder writes:
Bennett attacks the problem in two ways: First, by adopting the proposal already embraced by Bush and by many Democrats to calculate future Social Security benefits on a sliding scale, depending on the income level of recipients.

I challenge Broder, or anyone else for that matter, to find me many Democrats in favor of that idea. I've seen nothing, absolutely nothing that suggests strong Democratic support for Bennett's proposal.

In fact, this CBS/NY Times poll (pdf) shows that more people in this country think the Bennett plan is a bad idea as opposed to a good one. And I doubt it's Democrats giving a big boost to those good idea numbers.

Nice of Broder to paint the wrong picture to try and boost the Bennett plan.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Training grounds

Knight Ridder:
Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the prime training ground for foreign terrorists who could travel elsewhere across the globe and wreak havoc, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials and classified studies by the CIA and the State Department.

Of particular concern, the officials and studies say, are the urban combat techniques being learned and used by foreign fighters assaulting U.S. and Iraqi troops. There's already evidence that those tactics are being replicated elsewhere.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James T. Conway told a Pentagon briefing last week that remotely detonated bombs known as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs - the insurgents' weapon of choice in Iraq - are an increasing threat to U.S. forces trying to stabilize Afghanistan.

The trend is "a little bit troubling," Conway said.

Iraq's emergence as a terrorist training ground appears to challenge President Bush's rationale for invading and overthrowing leader Saddam Hussein in March 2003.

"To complete the mission, we will prevent al-Qaida and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban, a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends," the president said in a nationally televised address last Tuesday.

But Iraq wasn't a source of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism under Saddam and played no role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Self fulfillment

CNN has a story up with the headline "O'Connor departure stirs Bork memories."

Maybe it's because every single cable news channel (including CNN, mind you) gave ample airtime to the Bork in interviews?

Then there's this:
"Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, yet she was overwhelmingly confirmed" during the Clinton administration, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on ABC's "This Week."

And how did Ginsburg get suggested for the Supreme Court? Republican Arlen Specter suggested to Clinton that she'd be a good candidate.

Think Bush will take a Democrats advice?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Happy Independence Day

It's a little early, but I haven't had much time this weekend, and I may not have time tomorrow. So I wanted to say it now.


Friday, July 01, 2005

What should Bush do?

I've thought about this today and had a few brief interactions, but I say Bush should go moderate. A long fight on this one will be beneficial to no one, and I would put to the current California situation where both Arnie and the State Congress have low approval ratings up as a perfect example of two sides disagreeing to the point of inaction and public dissatisfaction.

Will he do it? That I'm not so sure about. And while I think a hard conservative nomination and battle would be politically bad for Bushie in the mainstream, I'm not sure how much he cares anymore. His agenda is going nowhere, and his approval ratings have hung under 50% for most of his second term. A couple of extremist appointments to the court would make his a GOP legend, and his partisan nature makes me think that may be enough for him. Nothing has changed the fact that he's perfectly happy representing his part of America and ignoring the rest of us.

A quick victory for Bush on this one would help put some steam in his ship, if you will, and offer him some momentum on policy and reinforcement of the long missing "uniter" tag that he bandied around for a while. And that could only be good for his image and American's views of him, which lately have been not-so-good.

Quite honestly, I'm not sure which to wish for, and as everyone else has said, it will be a fun summer to watch. I only hope that this battle does not distract Democrats from fund raising for the men and women who are running in 2006. While a conservative Supreme Court would definitely be bad, a three branch stronghold by the GOP would be even worse.

*UPDATE* IF anyone cares, I'm on the side of The Talent Show Online Magazine on this one.

In fact, one of the things I noticed today watching the news channels (aside from their love of Robert Bork, for some reason) was that Democrats had their message ready to go and it was framed pretty well. A moderate for a moderate. It just sounds fair.

Meanwhile, Republicans asked for a fair and even process. And Democrats agree, saying the fair process involves a tit for tat exchange. Our "frame" actually incorporates theirs and takes it further. And I think that will help, in the long run.

Roe v. Wade v. Newt

Newt, out ouf touch as usual:
"Given the disastrous decisions of the last few days on private property rights, the Ten Commandments and violent criminals, I think the majority that elected Bush and the House and Senate clearly expects a very conservative nomination," said former House speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia.

CNN (via Atrios):
CNN just flashed up poll results regarding Roe. 65% want a justice who would uphold Roe. 47% of Republicans want a justice who would uphold Roe (verus 46% who want one who would overturn it).


I don't think Bush wants this battle going on at the same time he nominates a Supreme Court Justice, but Lawrence O'Donnell's naming names:
"What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's e-mails, within Time Magazine, are handed over to the grand jury, the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is.

"And I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."

Other panelists then joined in discussing whether, if true, this would suggest a perjury rap for Rove, if he told the grand jury he did not leak to Cooper.

All this would serve to reinforce how petty and political the Bush White House really is, not an image you want portrayed as you fight for a partisan judge.

Friday random ten, now with 50% more randomness!

So, the Friday random ten, with five more songs at no extra cost (idea here):
1) Cross Bones Style - Cat Power
2) Back of Your Head - Cat Power
3) Everything I Try To Do, Nothing Seems To Turn Out Right - The Decemberists
4) Stop - Dirty Things
5) The Egg - Windsor For the Derby
6) Old Fashioned Way of Speaking - TW Walsh
7) Interstate 5 - Wedding Present
8) Some - Built to Spill
9) With Arms Outstretched - Rilo Kiley
10) The Best Days - The Softies
11) Hey - The Pixies
12) Eyes Wide Open - Radio 4
13) Harness Your Hopes - Pavement
14) Soul and Fire - Sebadoh
15) Stray - Calexico

Resignation Day

O'Connor retires. I've already heard one news broadcast on MSNBC bring up how conservatives feel it was unfair that Bork got voted down without referring to his strong right wing views and his seeming opposition to equal rights. That's not going to do a Democrat any good.

I think Pollak sums up my initial reaction perfectly.

*UPDATE* Willis catches the well oiled propaganda machine that is FOX spinning it's gears as well.