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

Monday, October 31, 2005

Have sex, earn cancer

Who cares if we can prevent cervical cancer when G-d so clearly intended it to punish girls who don't know it's best to keep their legs closed.
Because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory, citing fears that it could send a subtle message condoning sexual activity before marriage.

Or maybe it would send a not so subtle message that we as society don't condone women needlessly getting cancer. But that's not a message that conservatives mentioned here, including James Dobson's Focus on the Family, seem willing to send.
"Parents should have the choice. There are those who would say, 'We can provide a better, healthier alternative than the vaccine, and that is to teach abstinence,' " [Gene Rudd, associate executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations] said.

Teaching abstinence is not a better, healthier alternative than the vaccine; practicing abstinence is. But conservatives overlook the big difference between the two.

We'd like to think our children do what we teach them. But I can attest from my time as a teenager that isn't a fair assumption. In fact, I think we all can recall certain instances where we choose in a way differently then our parents wanted us to. Conservatives in this case seem to think that cancer is a reasonable punishment for it, as well as the physical suffering, mental anguish, and needless medical bills that go with it.

Welcome to George Bush's America.

Bringing honor and integrity to the White House

What is something President W. has failed to do:
A majority of Americans say the indictment of senior White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby signals broader ethical problems in the Bush administration, and nearly half say the overall level of honesty and ethics in the federal government has fallen since President Bush took office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News survey.

The poll, conducted Friday night and yesterday, found that 55 percent of the public believes the Libby case indicates wider problems "with ethical wrongdoing" in the White House, while 41 percent believes it was an "isolated incident." And by a 3 to 1 ratio, 46 percent to 15 percent, Americans say the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush.

In the aftermath of the latest crisis to confront the White House, Bush's overall job approval rating has fallen to 39 percent, the lowest of his presidency in Post-ABC polls. Barely a third of Americans -- 34 percent -- think Bush is doing a good job ensuring high ethics in government, which is slightly lower than President Bill Clinton's standing on this issue when he left office.

Funny how American's getting screwed daily can make them forget all about a blowjob, isn't it?

Clinton: Stand and fight

Rallying our troops:
[Bill] Clinton attributes the Republican control of Congress to the inability or unwillingness of Democratic candidates to "stand up and be heard" on issues that matter to people.

Clinton specifically cites abortion. He says Democrats too often are unwilling to talk about the issue because they're afraid of hostile reactions from anti-abortion groups.

The former president says Democrats also need to fight back against personal attacks from conservatives if they want to regain power. As he puts it, "If you don't want to fight for the future and you can't figure out how to beat these people then find something else to do."

Judge pander

One of the things about sleeping in on the west coast is that you miss so much.

So it's Judge Alito. Conservatives, thrilled. Liberals, not so much.

And unless there's a pubic hair on a Coke can in his background (and even then, there's no guarantee, right Justice Thomas?), we're going to have to put up with him on the Supreme Court.

Until then, here's some background on the guy's rulings (strip search a 10-year old? Really?), here's more background, and the Carpetbagger reminds that the right's Miers talking points can and should be used against them.

Otherwise, I think Ezra sums up what I feel best here and here. While Democrats may not be able to stop Alito, they can paint him as out of touch with most of America. Republicans who support him should then get a healthy coat or two as well, putting Democrats on a stronger footing to take the country back in 2006 and beyond.

Rather than Bush make the right pay for destroying Harriet Miers (which I had hoped), he has chosen to reward and pander to them with Alito. And he needs there help. But there can be no mistake that Bush wants to unite the country anymore. This was his last chance to pull us altogether for a greater good, and instead we have been rended fully and left to fend for ourselves.

I think that is what saddens me more about Alito than anything else.

Oh, and the right has already started with the idea that criticizing Judge Alito means you are against his background and therefore, racist. Which means to the right, race should not matter when applying for a job unless it helps their side.

Let it be known that before I wrote any of this or felt the initial disgust of his nomination, I had no idea of his background. I'm glad to see the American dream seemed to work out for him. But his dream of America and mine are very different, and that is why I choose to oppose this pick.

*UPDATE* Pelosi:
Instead of seeking to unify the country with a nominee who would command wide consensus, the President again chose to submit to the dictates of the radical right. The President's nomination of Judge Alito reflects weakness - the President is unable or unwilling to withstand pressure by an extreme element in our country, rather than acting as a leader of all the people.

The Supreme Court must not be used as a tool by extremists to fulfill an ideological agenda and to undermine our individual rights. Under our Constitution, the Senate has an independent role in deciding whether to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court. That responsibility is especially compelling with this nominee, whose rulings on the right to privacy, including a woman's right to choose; civil rights; and basic labor protections are troubling and far removed from the mainstream.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Turning Plame into no big deal

NRO's Media Blog:
Apparently leaking Plame's name was not a crime. No one has been charged with any violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act.

Uh, just because no one is charged with a crime does not mean it did not happen. If that were the case, there are countless unsolved murders that aren't really crimes. No one, for example, has been charged in the Jack the Ripper case, but certainly the brutal slaughter of four women on the streets of London still fits the "crime" category, right? Or has NRO suddenly gone soft on the whole idea?

It isn't that the outing of Valerie Plame wasn't a crime, it's just that (to this point) there isn't enough evidence to charge anyone with that crime.
So why would Libby concoct such an easily disprovable story?

My theory? There was a crime committed, and Libby knew it, and may even know who's responsible. Whether he remains silent throughout is another issue altogether.

Here's something else they get wrong at the Media Blog, by the way:
Her relationship with the CIA was well-known around Washington according to numerous accounts...

The indictment:
Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson's affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community.

Maybe it's time the Media Blog did some better fact checking?


Colorado's TABOR law puts limits on the amount that state spending can increase from year to year. This means that, even if there is a record tax windfall to the state coffers, only a small amount can be applied to spending increase while I believe the rest must be returned to the taxpayers.

It's a fine idea, in theory. But theory doesn't help pay for the reduction in immunizations, substandard roads, and insurance for poor children, either. So what's the solution?

This Tuesday, November 1st, Colorado voters will be asked to vote out the "ratchet clause," which is responsible for the steady decline in state services. Opponents solution? Privatiziation, of course!
[John Andrews, a former Republican state senator] argues that universities should be funded privately and that tolls or fees should pay for roads and parks. He says that medical care should be left to "self-reliance" rather than "Big Brother."

So rather than pay your hard earned money to taxes to repair and rebuild roads, you should pay your hard earned money in taxes and fees to a private company who can then make a profit while they fix and replace roads, thereby charging you more than it should. Seems to make no sense to me.

Makes no sense to her, either:
"Do we want people carrying asphalt around to fill the potholes they see on the road?" asks Joan Fitz-Gerald, the Democratic president of the state Senate. "Should we tell them to set aside a spare room for some drug dealer, because we can't afford prisons? Do we want some guy in his basement teaching our medical students?"

Can I get a heh, indeedy?

An idea Democrats should have had

From Judd Gregg, Republican:
A senior Senate Republican said he would consider a windfall profit tax on oil companies to generate funds to help poor Americans pay home heating bills that are expected to be sharply higher this winter.

Judd Gregg, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said he was concerned that U.S. oil companies were reporting record-high profits when some families will be unable to pay their natural gas and home heating oil bills because of high energy prices.

Gregg said he would "pursue options in this area" in coming weeks.

While Democrats have been at the forefront of both these issues, linking them together seems a logical idea. There's no reason to stop with just helping the poor with heating oil this fall, however. But it is a good start.

Getting a cool new nickname

First, "The Architect," now this:
It has been known that columnist Robert Novak spoke to Rove on July 9, 2003, saying he planned to report over the weekend that Valerie Plame, the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, had worked for the CIA. Rove told the columnist he had heard similar information.

Friday's indictment says "Official A" is a "senior official in the White House who advised Libby on July 10 or 11 of 2003" about a chat with Novak about his upcoming column in which Plame would be identified as a CIA employee.

Late Friday, three people close to the investigation, each asking to remain unidentified because of grand jury secrecy, identified Rove as Official A.

Is it a crime, if you know a CIA agent is covert, not to stop someone from publishing her name? If so, it would seem that Rove would be in some hot water for that.

Otherwise, we must continue to wait and see if and how much of this splashes on Rove.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Random Ten

Caught in a Trap and I Can't Get Out edition (What's the big idea?):
1. To the Baby Counter - Brainiac
2. Jump On It - Scissors for Lefty
3. Identify - The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
4. The Cold Part - Modest Mouse
5. Gideon - My Morning Jacket
6. Have a Lucky Day - Morphine
7. I Hate To See You Baby Doin' That Stuff - Lloyd Cole
8. Blackout Curtain - Now It's Overheard
9. Plastic Airplane - The Halo Bit
10. Revenge! - Spoon

Yeah, I stole it from an album title. So what?

The choice of the President

You know, the President's in a pretty tough spot nowadays, and not just for the obvious reasons. He campaigned in 2000 on being a uniter, not a divider, and for the most part ignored that promise for the last five years. But he's now in a spot where he can't go back, either.

The nation is almost certainly more divided than it was when Bush first ran for President. Attacks are more boastful and more vicious on both sides of the aisle, and there seems to be no letting up. But I don't wonder if Bush, in an attempt to be liked by all people, chose Miers to try and unite the country in the middle.

Of course, it failed miserably. Conservatives, the group that Bush should have had in his back pocket as he reached out to the center and left, suddenly abandoned him, throwing him further off balance and causing an even bigger fall than he had already undergone.

And now it's more of the same. Republicans are clamoring for blood in Bush's next Supreme Court pick, looking for the farthest right guy or gal to throw in the face of Democrats. "We're still in power, bitches!" they want the President to say. Certainly not a theme that will bring the country together, is it?

So what's a lame duck, 40% approval rating President to do? Pander to a base that savaged him so gracefully these past few weeks, or look to overcome the partisanship and try and nominate a truly unifying character to be the next justice? I wish I knew the answer to that. But his direction should make itself evident in the next week or so.

The ball is in your court, Mr. President. Unifier? Or divider?


Aside from forever besmirching the name of one of my favorite muppets, Scooter Libby has been indicted on five counts and since resigned from hs post.

I was sleeping off the night shift when it happened, so I'll refer you to the Carpetbagger, who seems to be caught up on the whole thing. And he's willing to ask the question I wanted answered, what does this mean for Rove:
If anything, this is probably the worst possible situation for the Bush White House.

Head over there and read more. You probably should be anyway.

Depressing Republicans

Keep 'em coming:
On a day when DFL gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch locked up his third quick labor endorsement, an uncharacteristically downbeat Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty acknowledged that his party is "on the ropes" nationally and that he would consider himself "lucky to get reelected."

In a frank and wide-ranging interview with Minnesota Public Radio on Thursday morning, Pawlenty denied that he has any national political ambitions and downplayed the notion that Minnesota had trended Republican.

"I'll be lucky to get reelected governor in Minnesota next year," he said on MPR's Midmorning Show.

An interesting re-election strategy, to say the least.

Schwarzenegger pleads, Maria silent

In a change of strategy for Governor Arnold, he has scrapped his tough guy image for a new ad that pleads with residents of California to vote with him rather than against him:
With a new poll showing his ballot agenda in jeopardy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday made a sharp strategic shift just 12 days before the election, releasing a new television ad in which he concedes shortcomings on the job.

"I've had a lot to learn, and sometimes I learned the hard way," he says in the 30-second spot, which features the governor speaking directly to the camera. "But my heart is in this, and I want to do right by you."

Funny a guy who only a year ago was decrying "economic girlie men" and talking about kicking nurses butts has now made it to the bargaining stage of dealing with the grief brought about by his poor political decision to hold a special election.

I look forward to the acceptance stage.

Maria Shriver, his Democrat wife, has chosen to keep silent her feelings about Arnold's work:
She says, "We all know what happens to first ladies who shoot their mouths off."

I actually must be missing something here, because I don't know what she's referring to. But it certainly isn't a ringing endorsement that will help bring in more votes.

Virginia is for Democrats

You always like to be on the positive side of the poll numbers, even if the lead remains in the margin of error. Today's Rasmussen poll shows Democrat Tim Kaine edging in front of Republican Jerry Kilgore in the race for Virginia's Governor by a 46-44 margin. Again, it's well within the margin of error, but it does echo the idea that Kaine has been gaining momentum in the last week or so.

Add to that a new endorsement from the GOP side for Kaine and the fact that Kilgore is forced to duck and run from the President to keep from being dragged down further, and it appears that come election time, Virginia really will be for Democrats.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

It will be interesting to see which polls are right: the Governor's internal polls, which claim to show three of his big four initiatives passing, or the latest numbers from the Public Policy Institute of California, which show most all of them going down in defeat. Here's the numbers:
Prop 73 (parental notification for abortions)
Yes 42
No 48
Undecided 10

Prop 74 (Teacher tenure)
Yes 46
No 48
Undecided 6

Prop 75 (Union dues)
Yes 46
No 46
Undecided 8

Prop 76 (State budget, education funding)
Yes 30
No 62
Undecided 8

Prop 77 (Redistricting)
Yes 36
No 50
Undecided 14

Arnold insiders claim that their numbers show only prop 76 failing. As I've said before, with numbers this close, turnout will be the key. And I still hope that numbers this close will urge those who oppose Arnold's initiatives to get out and do what's right when they vote Nov 8th.

Credit where it isn't due

From the Corner:
RE: BRILLIANTLY ROVIAN! [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Now, here's to hoping that's not his last hurrah.

CNN is asking how embarrassing this is. It takes a big man or White House to realize they made a mistake. He deserves credit and, bottom line: This episode will not be one of the headlines from the Bush presidency.

You know what the relief is this morning? A return to the feeling that this president gets the big things right.

Accepting the story given by the White House that Miers withdrew because of a document kerfuffle, then what is it the President actually did? What is it that he "got right?" He didn't accept responsibility for a bad pick, or realize the so-called damage he had done to the conservative movement. All he did was accept a resignation letter.

I guess that's what passes for great leadership in the new White House.

About that "harboring" claim

Remember that claim that Saddam had given a safe haven to Zarqawi before our invasion, and it was proof that Iraq and Al Qaeda were working together? Yeah, we may have gotten that wrong, too:
But officials tell NEWSWEEK that Zarqawi probably did travel to the Iraqi capital in the spring of 2002 for medical treatment. And, of course, there is no question that he is in Iraq now—orchestrating many of the deadly suicide bombings and attacks on American soldiers.

But before the American-led invasion, Saddam's government may never have known he was there. The reason: he used an alias and was there under what one U.S. intelligence official calls a "false cover." No evidence has been found showing senior Iraqi officials were even aware of his presence, according to two counterterrorism analysts familiar with the classified CIA study who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

An intelligence official told NEWSWEEK that the current draft says that "most evidence suggests Saddam Hussein did not provide Zarqawi safe haven before the war. It also recognizes that there are still unanswered questions and gaps in knowledge about the relationship."

Miers withdraws

So it should be pretty obvious that this "executive privilege" stuff is just a front for Bush to get away from Harriet Miers. Charles Krauthammer even predicted this a few days ago.

And the right is cheering, almost chomping at the bit for the President to appoint a hard-core conservative and begin the buildup to the nuclear option. The left is trembling in fear, they feel, and we should pounce and weaken them while we have the chance.

So they want a guy with an approval rating near forty to got into a heated battle over the next nominee.

If Bush were enjoying success, I could see it. I could see his cavalier attitude picking a Lutting or Brown or whoever the right wants as their appeasement pick. But think about this. Bush put forth the woman he thought was the best choice, and the right wing savaged him. There was no trust, no respect for W. They went after her and pushed for a withdrawal.

So why would Bush give in to them? Why does the President care about what the radical right thinks anymore? He doesn't need them to get re-elected. He doesn't need them to propose drilling in ANWR or destroying Social Security. And quite frankly, he doesn't need them to support his Supreme Court nominee. What will he get if he, as Senator Reid writes, "reward[s] the bad behavior of his right wing base?"

Nothing. It seems that both the radical right and the President may be waking up in the same bed having lost some respect for each other in this battle. And it will be interesting to see if they decide to try and patch things up for the children or part ways and move on.

Corporate welfare

More handouts from the Republican Congress needed:
Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Marathon Oil Corp. posted record net income after energy prices surged to unprecedented highs amid disruptions caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Third-quarter profit at Exxon Mobil, the world's biggest publicly traded oil producer, jumped 75 percent to an industry record of $9.92 billion, the company said today in a statement. The Hague-based Shell set the previous record about six hours earlier, when it said net income rose 68 percent to $9 billion.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Takin' it to The People's Court

Judge Wapner says no on Prop 77.

No word yet on how Judge Judy feels.

Odds and ends

A few more things.

John Kerry gave a speech.

I think the reason that Americans are becoming weary with the war in Iraq is not the high death rates (which are actaully quite low), but rather that nothing we have done has diminished that rate. Our troops are still dying at the same rate they were through raids and elections. People are tired of us not having a solution to ease the death rate more than anything else.

The Davis-Bacon Act has been reinstated. So workers will see good wages rather than companies seeing more profit.

And finally, on an Arnold front, Timm Herdt notices a contradiction in Arnold's campaign:
Argument No. 1 says that leaders of public employee unions have used their political power to obtain extraordinary benefits for their members.

Argument No. 2 says union members aren't getting good value for their political dues.

Which is it?

A good question. The answer, I think, is which ever one passes Prop 75.

Tortured logic

For a White House that doesn't support torture, they sure fight hard to keep it as an option, don't they?

Meanwhile, in California

If Arnold really feels this way, then here's what he should do: Renounce support for Proposition 75, the "Arnold hates Unions" initiative, and couple it with legislation next year that requires investors to approve where corporate money is politically spent. Then one of the major arguing points against Prop 75 is gone, and the playing field becomes a little more level.

Of course, business money would still be more readily available and still wield an influence that workers would be hard pressed to match. But I guess it would be a start.

It doesn't help, however, to read that Arnold's office is already trying to distance himself from the claim. It almost makes one feel that Arnold will do anything to succeed in politics, doesn't it?


I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who feels this way about the whole Fitzgerald indictment talk.

We should be letting the chips fall and pointing out what they mean when it happens, not partying like it's 1999 when we don't know for sure the new year is going to come.
So let's keep our hats on and wait for the balloons to drop. Because if they don't, we'll all look pretty f'in dumb.

NRO favors big government?

I like this:
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers said in a speech more than a decade ago that "self-determination" should guide decisions about abortion and school prayer and that in cases where scientific facts are disputed and religious beliefs vary, "government should not act."

In a 1993 speech to a Dallas women's group, Miers talked about abortion, the separation of church and state, and how the issues play out in the legal system. "The underlying theme in most of these cases is the insistence of more self-determination," she said. "And the more I think about these issues, the more self-determination makes sense."

The guys over at NRO's Bench Memos think Miers should withdraw because this shows her lack of conservative values. While I find it odd that conservatives fail to value "self-determination" and I guess favor bigger government control in your life.

Before everyone on the left gets giddy and the right slash their wrists, remember that this speech is twelve years old. Bush has seen her heart since then. She's become an evangelical. And it's entirely possible those views have changed.

If that's true, however, it will no doubt make her a harder sell. The public, from what I understand, doesn't do well with perceived flip-floppers, whether it's a fair cop or not.

New USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll

I know this has some good news for Democrats overall, but it seems eerily suspicious to most polling we watched before the last election. Republicans still lead Democrats on how to handle terrorism. Democrats still lead most everywhere else. And while a majority would vote for an unnamed Democrat over George Bush right now, well, Bush won't be running again and the Democrats have to name someone, who will no doubt end up swift boated come next election.

The questions about which party best represents values are pretty evenly split. Democrats approval in Congress is only 3% higher than scandal plagued Republicans, and worst of all, only 1/4 of the country considers their representative unworthy of re-election, a number that has been fairly consistent since October of 2003. And we've had elections since then that haven't swung the house to Democrats.

So what now? Well, maybe a new slogan?

She's my rep

Ladies and gentlemen, Mary Bono:
Rep. Mary Bono has contributed $5,000 to former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay's legal defense fund. Her donation has caught the attention of some Democrats who question the merits of such a gift.

"Tom DeLay is counting on Congresswoman Bono to keep him out of jail, but California families can't count Bono among the Republicans who felt it was proper to cut themselves off from their ethically challenged former leader who is currently free on bail," said Bill Burton, communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "California deserves better than such a willing participant in Republican pay-to-play culture of corruption."

Unfortunately, Bono's a fairly popular figure here, winning her last election by a 2-1 margin. And since there isn't much competition, I guess Mary can spend her money on propping up a guy like Tom DeLay, even when folks back in his own district seem to be souring on him.

But Mary thinks the best thing for California is to try and prop up an unpopular guy in Texas. Somehow I doubt that most Californian's would agree.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Time off

Consider this an unannounced vacation. It's a combination of too much to do and not a lot to say at this point.

Be back soon. Be excellent to each other.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Cheese eating surrender monkeys

Not who you think. It's the Bush Administration on Harriet Miers:
The White House has begun making contingency plans for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers as President Bush's choice to fill a seat on the Supreme Court, conservative sources said yesterday.

"White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people, saying, 'We're not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?' " a conservative Republican with ties to the White House told The Washington Times yesterday.

The White House denied making such calls.

How bad has message management gotten in the White House? Did someone forget to oil their noise machine?

So the White House continues its policy of making messes and wondering why other people can't clean it up instead (remember it was John Kerry's fault there's no plan to get us out of Iraq). Normally they turn to Rove with a shovel, and he somehow buries the story, or digs up something else to deflect attention from it. But now that every mention of Rove in the news is followed by the phrase "possible federal agent leaker under investigation," it only reminds people of the problems going on at 1600.

I wouldn't be surprised if Bush and company were looking for an easy way out. And for most of the country, it's not going to happen. If Bush can pull the plug on Harriet and get a pander pick to the hard right, we may actually see his poll numbers rise and he shores up recently wavering right wing support.

With the right spin, Bush is back above 50%, and the rest of us are doomed.

Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Arnold looks to distance initiatives, self

Arnold's campaign has asked TV stations to pull campaign ads that feature him directly appealing to the people of California to vote for his initiatives:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked TV stations Friday to remove ads that feature him making a personal appeal to California voters — an acknowledgment, analysts said, that one of the world's most recognized figures has become a weak salesman for his own agenda.

An avid pitchman his entire adult life — selling everything from gym bags to action movies — Schwarzenegger nevertheless now will rely on "ordinary" supporters to promote his four Nov. 8 ballot initiatives in ads, his campaign said.

The remaining ads do not feature the governor or even mention his name. Instead, they include teachers and others asking people to "change California" and vote for the initiatives he backs.

Some internal polling must tell them they're in trouble, and it must hint that Arnold is to blame.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Rewriting CNN

On Tom Delay's lawyer, laying false accusations against the sitting judge in the case against his client:
In respectful tones, DeGuerin noted that Perkins had donated money to, a liberal organization that he said has been "selling T-shirts with Mr. DeLay's mug shot on it."

How about this:
In respectful tones, DeGuerin noted that Perkins had donated money to, a liberal organization that he falsely claimed has been "selling T-shirts..."

See the difference, CNN? One paragraph gives the lawyer space to make false claims without noting they are false. Instead, you resort to the he said/he said style reporting, noting only that MoveOn denied it was selling shirts. Which they aren't, and a little research on CNN's part (done by Think Progress) will show you that DeGuerin lied in order to smear the judge.

I'm sure that CNN's not the only one to report this way, but they are the one's I really want to help first.

So CNN, if you're hiring, give me a call. We'll do lunch.

Exaggerating excuses for an exaggerating war

The world already thinks that Bush and company mislead the world by exaggerating claims against Saddam Hussein, and what better way to combat that image by exaggerating excuses to go to war with Saddam Hussein?

Ladies and gentlemen, Karen Hughes:
U.S. envoy Karen Hughes on Friday defended Washington's decision to go to war against Iraq in front of a skeptical audience, saying Saddam Hussein had gassed to death "hundreds of thousands" of his own people. A State Department official later said she misspoke about the number.

Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, made the comment before a group of Indonesian students who repeatedly attacked her about Washington's original rationale for the war, Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. No such arms were ever discovered.

"The consensus of the world intelligence community was that Saddam was a very dangerous threat," Hughes said days after the ousted dictator went on trial in Baghdad on charges of murder and torture in a 1982 massacre of 148 Shiites in the town of Dujail.

"After all, he had used weapons of mass destruction against his own people," she told a small auditorium with around 100 students. "He had murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people using poison gas."

Although at least 300,000 Iraqis are said to have been killed during Saddam's decades-long rule - only about 5,000 are believed to have been gassed to death in a 1988 attack in the Kurdish north.

Hughes twice repeated the statement after being challenged by journalists.

Well done, Karen. A medal of freedom is no doubt around the corner for you.

Crapping in a hallway with Mike Brown

The Los Angeles Times reports on the testimony of Marty Bahamonde, a FEMA representative actually inside New Orleans when the storm hit. His testimony seems to directly contradictory the testimony that former FEMA head Mike Brown gave to the house panel, and does not paint a pretty picture:
In an Aug. 31 e-mail that Bahamonde sent a co-worker, his frustration with Brown burst through.

Bahamonde had just learned, as he huddled in New Orleans' Superdome with evacuees, that Brown's press secretary was fretting about blocking out time for the director to eat dinner at one of Baton Rouge's busy restaurants that night.

"OH MY GOD!!!!!!!" Bahamonde messaged the co-worker. "I just ate an MRE" -— military rations -— "and crapped in the hallway of the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern about busy restaurants."


Brown had testified that Bahamonde sent him a "fairly routine kind of e-mail" the day of the hurricane, describing "general conditions" at the Superdome. Bahamonde also communicated later that day, Brown testified, that the shelter "had plenty of food" for its throngs.

If that is a "fairly routine" kind of message for Mike Brown, I'd hate to see the e-mail he gets in an emergency.

Forcing a vote on Davis-Bacon

Three cheers for George Miller:
Rep. George Miller of California filed a measure under a never-before-used parliamentary procedure that would require a House vote on whether to overturn Bush's Sept. 8 order allowing federal contractors to pay workers in hurricane-ravaged states less than local prevailing wages.

Miller's maneuver under the 1976 National Emergencies Act requires a vote by Nov. 4 on an issue that has Democrats united and Republicans divided.

If Republican leaders fail to hold a vote on Miller's joint resolution by Nov. 4, the act allows him to demand that one be held within three days, according Miller spokesman Tom Kiley.

For those who are unfamiliar, Davis-Bacon forces the government to pay a prevailing wage to workers for contracted work. The President issued an order after Hurricane Katrina suspending the rules, citing lower costs to the government for repairing the storm ravaged region.

Here's an idea to cut costs: stop paying Mike Brown, failed FEMA head, his salary.

Tax cheats aren't criminal

So thinks Arnold, as pointed out in this L.A. Times editorial.

Maybe if Arnold had been in a movie where the foe was a band of tax fraudsters...

Friday Random Ten

Superchunk is Doubly Blessed edition (idea here):
1. In Like Flynn - Girls Against Boys
2. No Expectations - Dirtbombs
3. Silverleaf and Snowy Tears - Superchunk
4. Boy - Nations By the River
5. It's Love - The Softies
6. All My Hammocks Are Dying - Chin Up Chin Up
7. Bottle Blonde - The Kiss Offs
8. Karma Police - Radiohead
9. Iron On - Superchunk
10. All Hands Against His Own - The Black Keys
Off to dream of posting more later...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

So much for the "Collectinator"

I always thought it was a pretty stupid nickname, anyway.

Desert Sun: No on 75

Three for three:
Yes, public-employee unions' lobbying and political contributions have helped cause the state's deficit by boosting public spending. They certainly have made governing California difficult and have contributed to the political stalemate that plagues Sacramento. We certainly don't agree with unions all the time.

Nor do we want them to be the scapegoat. They're not the only special interest at work in Sacramento, after all. Indeed, for every $1 unions gave in political contributions during the 2004 election, companies and corporations spent $24, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports. Cutting off the unions' arms simply leaves their special interest opponents the only ones left who are able to wield the hammer.

This is one of the best arguments I've heard for voting No on 75. Taking the union money out of politics will leave the special interest money that Arnold loves to collect unchecked. Already outnumbered by a 24-1 margin in Sacramento dollars, union voices will be silenced further in the face of big business initiatives. And we don't need California to start turning back protections so Arnold's big business friends can make even more money on the back of unprotected workers.

Here, here, Desert Sun. Vote no on 75.

Arnold's team breaks the law

Speaking of the Alliance for Better California, they've caught Arnold's team on the wrong side the law:
The California Recovery Team (CRT) has been violating the law by sending out campaign mail that illegally uses discounted non-profit postage and displays a fraudulent union bug. Both actions are violations of federal law. We have requested an investigation by the USPS and announced possible legal action unless they cease their activities.

More here. A scandal is not what Arnold's side needs right now, so make sure to write the papers and call the newsrooms to spread the word.

New CA poll numbers

We've been waiting for a while, but DaivdNYC at Swing State Project provides a summary of the latest poll numbers for Arnold's initiatives. It doesn't look good, but, he notes, a couple of numbers are trending in our favor, including Prop 75 (Screw the Unions) and Prop 77 (Screw the Democrats w/ Republican Redistricting).

SUSA, who conducted the poll, notes:
1) Support for all 5 measures is strongly tied to approval of Governor Schwarzenegger.

2) Interest in ballot measures intensifies as the election approaches and ad dollars are spent to influence voters. These numbers can and should be expected to fluctuate, perhaps significantly.

3) SUSA asked summary questions; other organizations have read the entire text of the ballot measures. As SUSA says, "On 11/9/05, we will know which question wording produced a more accurate pre-election poll."

Important points, all. But I wonder is point three is a bit misworded, wondering not which poll will be more acurate, but rather if the summary poll questions will actually push voters to support bills they otherwise wouldn't. Unfortunately, there's no real way to know.

Get involved at Alliance for a Better California.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Senators seek more from Miers

They called her answers to the Senate questionnaire "incomplete to insulting."

And I'm glad to see them push her here as well:
Specter and Leahy also want her to explain specifically how she would handle cases dealing with the Bush administration, where she now serves in the important legal post of White House counsel. In her questionnaire response, Miers said she would comply with the "spirit and letter of the law ... the Code of Conduct for United States Judges and other applicable requirements."

Specter and Leahy responded: "We are aware of the statutes and codes that generally govern these matters, but recusal decisions of Supreme Court justices are more complicated because they are not subject to further review. The committee would like you to address the issues specific to your situation."

I'm not sure what kind of answer they are looking for, but this could arise as a serious issue, and is one of the reasons I believe that Bush picked Miers for the opening.

There have been accusations throughout the years that Bush has usurped a ton of laws in the name of the war on terror, and as those cases come before the court, Miers view will already be predetermined. After all, she's probably the one that told the President how to legally argue for whatever it is he wanted to do. And Bush would not only already have a vote on his side, but have someone willing to argue his side seated firmly amongst the eight other justices, which would seem to be unfair to the side opposing Bush.

I'm not saying Bush is guilty of anything, at least in this post. But it would seem unfair to have a jury which was already predisposed against you to be in charge of your hearing, wouldn't it?

Again, I'm not sure what answers Specter and Leahy expect, but I am glad to see them push a little harder on this issue.

Desert Sun: No on 74

Two for two:
Of course, the current tenure system is flawed. Statistically speaking, there are teachers in the system who shouldn't be, but remain just because dismissing them is too difficult. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, only one or two tenured teachers are dismissed annually despite the fact that about 40,000 are employed. Given much higher dismissal rates in the business world, it seems incredulous that public schools' firings would be so low, especially after principals have had only 12-18 months to evaluate a new teacher.

Given this, the Legislature needs to show courage and take up the issue. Increasing tenure to three years, as it was in California until about the mid-1970s, would give administrators more time to evaluate new teachers yet not put the state at a competitive disadvantage for new hiring.

Despite Proposition 74's good intentions, it's not the solution. Voters should send the measure back to its authors with the instructions, "Do over."

You know, I think part of my problem is echoed here. Five years does seem like a long time, especially when compared to other states. A three year tenure term seems like a moderate and reasonable solution.

Let's hope the Desert Sun can keep up the streak.

The cold under my feet: Local paper say No on 73

I've had a number of issues with the Republican bent that the local paper has, so much so that I infrequently read the thing anymore. So imagine my surprise when I saw they had come out in opposition to Proposition 73:
The question we have grappled with is why would some teenagers seek an abortion without notifying their parents? In an ideal world, teenage girls would go to their caring parents and talk about pregnancy and abortion. Unfortunately, there are homes where violence, abuse, drug addiction or alcoholism is the rule of the day. Incidents exist where a teenager has been seriously beaten by a parent, at harm to the fetus, for telling she was pregnant. A doctor's phone call to those parents places that teen in great physical danger.

Many of those teens will delay seeking professional medical care or counseling. This significantly increases the risks to teen's health and to that of the fetus should the pregnancy be carried to term. In the worst cases, teens will attempt back-alley and self-induced abortions.

The so-called "solutions" this bill claims to provide have not materialized in other states with similar legislation. Rates for teen abortion have dropped no quicker in those states that have parental notification laws than in those that don't:
Further, there's little evidence that teenagers will become any closer with parents who a doctor informs of their child's intent to seek an abortion. The poor parental behavior that resulted in a lack of the teenager's trust isn't likely to suddenly change as if in a Lifetime movie. In fact, two medical journal studies comparing a state with parental notification (Minnesota) and one without notification (Wisconsin) found that the mandate didn't increase the number of teens who spoke with parents.

Nice to see the Desert Sun gain some sense. Hopefully this isn't the end of it.

Glenn Reynolds argues for closing the gun show loophole

Although I'm not sure he meant to do it.

By pointing out that criminals can still get guns pretty easily outside gun stores, it would seem to argue that stricter rules are needed outside of them. Because if criminals can't get guns at a gun store, those aspects of gun control are then working. Making those standards uniform everywhere would seem to be a solution to keeping criminals from acquiring weapons in other places, yes?

By the way, wouldn't a criminal's punishment for committing a gun related crime and acquiring an illegal weapon be longer than one for comitting the gun related crime? If anyone knows, I'd love to hear it.

Saying goodbye to the Article National Wildlife Refuge

It was nice while it lasted.

*UPDATE* With all those oil companies up there, nothing like this could happen, could it:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a criminal investigation into allegations that a drilling crew for Pioneer Natural Resources Co. intentionally dumped contaminated mud into the ice of the Beaufort Sea offshore Alaska's North Slope in 2003, the Wall Street Journal reported in its on-line edition on Tuesday.

According to the story, the EPA is investigating allegations that as many as 2,000 gallons of mud from drilling that was contaminated with hazardous materials was dumped by a drilling crew.

Children left behind

Doesn't seem that Bush's education legacy will be all that great, either:
Despite a new federal educational testing law championed by the Bush administration, scores among fourth and eighth graders failed to show any improvements in reading, and showed only slow gains in math nationally during the past two years, according to a study released today.

Most troubling for educators are the sluggish reading skills among middle school students, which have remained flat for 13 years, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which has been testing students for three decades and bills itself as the "nation's report card."

One administrator points out the program has increased costs to schools with little return in the way of test results. Sounds like a good Republican program to me.

Bush knew

According to this account, the President has known for years that Karl Rove spoke to the press about Valerie Plame:
An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to Rove, who friends and even political adversaries acknowledge is the architect of the President's rise from baseball owner to leader of the free world.

As special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald nears a decision, perhaps as early as today, on whether to issue indictments in his two-year probe, Bush has already circled the wagons around Rove, whose departure would be a grievous blow to an already shell-shocked White House staff and a President in deep political trouble.

Asked if he believed indictments were forthcoming, a key Bush official said he did not know, then added: "I'm very concerned it could go very, very badly."

"Karl is fighting for his life," the official added, "but anything he did was done to help George W. Bush. The President knows that and appreciates that."

Maybe it's time to call George back in front of the grand jury and see if he can remember rebuking Karl in private while feigning ignorance in public.

And if this account is true, it proves the stunning about of hubris that President had that he would never get caught. And we all know what pride comes before, don't we?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Arizona Dems outraising their foes

Hopefully this will translate into big wins next year:
Democrats could also be on strong financial footing in next year's election and top party strategists have set ambitious fundraising goals for 2006.

Third quarter fundraising totals filed with the federal government show the Arizona Democratic Party raising just under $1.3 million versus $709,000 for the state Republican Party.

Party filings with the Federal Election Commission show the state Democratic Party with more than $530,000 on hand, compared to only $171,000 for the Arizona GOP.

The two sides will report further fundraising numbers to the Arizona Secretary of State's office later this year.

Remember that Democratic Senate challenger Jim Pederson almost matched Incumbent Republican Jon Kyl's quarterly fundraising in two weeks.

It seems to be a good time to be a Democrat in Arizona.

Seniors and low income workers

Don't worry about the rising cost of health insurance and prescription drugs, or the high cost of heating and gas prices. The Senate has said they aren't going to take a pay raise next year! Doesn't that make you feel better, knowing they'll be stuck at a measly $162k a year while you decide between your medications and heating the house for another month?
[Arizona Senator Jon] Kyl said the vote to kill next year's pay raise for lawmakers will help them "justify reductions in spending in other programs."

Programs mentioned in the article on the blocks? Health care and other programs to help the poor.

Uh, Jon, denying yourself a raise should not make you feel better about cutting health care and other programs to help those that earn minimum wage and still make 1/5 of what you do. No one's going to think that you guys care because you froze your wages for one year while screwing grandma and grandpa out of health benefits or forced people off food stamps because you guys created the largest deficit in history. Get real.

*UPDATE* Looks like that's the end of that.

Moving the White House to Utah

It's the only state left that seems to really support George Bush, according to the new Survey USA 50 state approval rating poll.

Bush gets positive net approval in seven states, a push in two, and negative numbers in forty-one states in the union. Net approval? 38%.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Prop 73

On the "Adding to the Teen Birth Rate Initiative":
In states without parental involvement laws, researchers found 61 percent of girls under 18 discuss their abortion decision with a parent, according to reports compiled by UCSF's Center for Reproductive Health Research and Policy. But a third or more do not, fearing physical harm, other abuse or being tossed out of the house.

Gerald Wheeler, a 17-year-old Santa Rosan, predicts some teens would run away rather than confide in parents.

"Kids would be so afraid, ... it could lead to illegal abortions," he said. "It could harm your body forever."

Set your Tivo

Rep. Tom DeLay will likely be booked in a Texas county jail this week despite attempts by his attorneys to bypass the fingerprinting and mug shot process.

The former House majority leader was forced to step down from the post last month when he was indicted by a Texas grand jury. DeLay initially was charged with conspiracy to violate the election code and days later was indicted on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money in an alleged illegal scheme to funnel corporate money to Republican Texas legislative candidates.

DeLay’s arraignment is set for Friday before state district Judge Bob Perkins in Travis County, Texas.

Bloggers againt Prop 77

For those of you bloggers looking to your peers for guidance, Ezra, Kevin, and Brad Plumer all say no. Oh, and me.

So what else do you need?

Another reason to oppose Prop 77

SF Chronicle:
If California voters pass Proposition 77 next month, the three retired judges who will draw the state's political lines are likely to resemble one another more than they will the rest of the people in this increasingly diverse state.

The state's 1,000 or so retired judges are mostly elderly, relatively wealthy, white men who, opponents of the redistricting initiative argue, cannot fairly make decisions that will affect everyone in California.

"We're not saying retired judges are bad people, but three people can't represent the diversity of California," said John Trasvina, a senior vice president for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. "They have their own partisan baggage."

I call shenanigans!

Word on Arnold's 2006 agenda:
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is crafting a less confrontational agenda for next year, when he will be campaigning for re-election.

The Los Angeles Times said the Republican governor wants to focus on health insurance for children...

Short term memory:
Health care advocates said Saturday that they were left angry and disappointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s veto of two bills designed to provide medical coverage for about 800,000 uninsured California children.

The vetoes were announced Friday night, hours after Schwarzenegger promised at a bill-signing ceremony on other legislation to "continue putting our children first."

Arnold had his chance to do something about health insurance for children and balked, citing cost considerations as he pushed other, more costly ideas instead. It will be interesting to note the differences between his proposals for next year and the bill he vetoed only a few days ago.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Iraq votes

Iraq's latest referendum vote seemed to go off without a hitch, with early speculation at a 61% turnout.

Congrats to everyone who participated and our troops and theirs for keeping it relatively peaceful. Hopefully it will serve to unite the country in democracy and not pull it apart in civil war.

*UPDATE* Wesley Clark: "I wish this were the end of the story in Iraq, but it isn't."

When the race gets tight, go Hitler

I haven't written much if anything about the Virgina Governor's race, mostly because I haven't had much to say. Democrat Tim Kaine has been closing the gap on Republican Jerry Kilgore for the past few weeks, although Kaine remains down a Kerry like 1-2 points in most polls I've seen.

Clearly this has Kilgore worried, because he's invoked Hitler in his defense:
The Republican candidate for Virginia governor is drawing fire for campaign ads that suggest his Democratic opponent is so averse to the death penalty he would have spared Adolph Hitler from execution.

The radio and TV ads feature victims' relatives who tearfully recount the crimes that killed their loved ones and say they don't trust Democrat Tim Kaine to administer the state's death penalty.

Kaine, who says his moral objections to capital punishment are rooted in his Roman Catholic faith, responded with an ad pledging to carry out death sentences "because it's the law."

Seems like a cheap shot by Kilgore to me and a little odd it's the Democrat defending his faith from a attack by a Republican. Should prove to be an interesting election night.

If you want to help Tim Kaine, here's where to do it. And if you live in Virginia, get out the vote Nov 8th.

The President as anchor

President Bush is coming to California and Arnold wants nothing to do with him:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, concerned that the decline in President Bush's popularity will pull down his special election measures, is not expected to appear with the president when he visits California next week.

Bush is scheduled to attend a fundraiser in Los Angeles for the Republican National Committee on Thursday and help cut the ribbon Friday at the opening of the new Air Force One exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

Although the governor's staff will not confirm his schedule this far in advance, sources said Schwarzenegger is not planning to attend either event. He is tentatively scheduled to campaign next week, possibly in the Central Valley, on the days of the visit.

The press will probably ask the President what he thinks of Arnold's initiatives, and hopefully ask him how he feels to be snubbed by Arnold. Neither answer will be what the Governor wants to hear.

Feinstein to oppose Arnold's initiatives

Color me pleasantly surprised:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein will participate in the campaign against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's agenda in the Nov. 8 special election, as well as an initiative seeking to impose restrictions on minors seeking abortions.

"Feinstein believes that the special election is a mistake. It's a costly waste of taxpayer dollars," spokesman Howard Gantman said Friday.

Feinstein, a San Francisco Democrat who also appeals to many independents and Republicans, plans to participate in opponents' efforts to explain why voters should defeat the initiatives, Gantman said. Such efforts could involve a direct mail campaign.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Kill the poor

So says Neal Boortz. Guess he forgot that it's the backs of the poor that have made the rich so rich.

Problems with Prop 73

Lynn Rosen sees them:
On the surface, Prop. 73 might sound reasonable. Everyone, of course, would hope that teens could confide in their parents and get advice in all situations, including that of an unintended pregnancy. Research shows that the majority of teens do, in fact, talk to their parents when faced with this situation. However, it is the teens who are most vulnerable that don’t have this option — those teens who live in abusive situations, are pregnant due to rape or incest or fear that telling their parents about their situation would result in getting beaten or thrown out of their home. For this group of teens, Prop. 73 could result in delayed medical care or could cause teens to turn to the Internet or friends to find unsafe ways to end their pregnancies.

The Wal-Mart Governor

News 10:
Critics of the governor are questioning his veto of a bill opposed by Wal-Mart on the same day his special election campaign accepted a $250,000 contribution from an owner of the huge retailer.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 89, would have required the state to publicly identify employers with 25 or more workers who are receiving benefits from one or more of the state's health care programs for low-income persons. The measure would have also required a computing of the total cost to the state for providing the services.

Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 89. His office said the union-backed bill wasn't useful.

Excuses, excuses

Spot the disconnect.

Thursday, Oct 13, 2005, from the AP:
"This initiative will give our state the strictest laws and the toughest penalties against sexual predators," the Republican governor said during a news conference at a Burbank hotel. "It's a shame our legislators didn't respond."


If enacted, the proposal would add unknown costs to the state budget, which is projected to have a $6 billion deficit next year and already is burdened with record debt obligations. Schwarzenegger acknowledged the potential heavy costs, which could include building more prisons to accommodate an increase in violators.

Monday Oct 10, 2005, from the AP:
Health care advocates said Saturday that they were left angry and disappointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s veto of two bills designed to provide medical coverage for about 800,000 uninsured California children.

The vetoes were announced Friday night, hours after Schwarzenegger promised at a bill-signing ceremony on other legislation to “continue putting our children first.”


In his veto messages, Schwarzenegger said he supported health coverage for all children but questioned how to pay for the legislation.

“This bill would cost the state almost a half billion dollars a year without providing a funding source at a time when California has a $7.5 billion (budget) deficit,” he said in turning down the Chan bill.

You see it? In one instance, a new sexual predator bill, arnold disucsses his shame at the legislature for ignoring his ne pet bill, no matter what the potential cost. Three days ago, Arnold vetoed a bill that would provide health coverage for needy children because it would potentially cost too much. Quite the flip-flop.

I'm not here to argue that Arnold should have done one rather than the other (though I like the idea of health care for children quite a bit, as it lessens health care burdens later in life). It's just pathetic that the guy would chose to use the deficit as an excuse in one instance, and then ignore it the next. There's either a problem with massive uncontrolled spending on Arnold's part, or there's not.

I'm so looking forward to next year.

Friday Random Ten

Good to Be Home, I'm Going To Bed edition (idea here):
1. Pretty (Ugly Before) - Elliott Smith
2. Sooner or Later - Slumber Party
3. Home - Lou Barlow
4. Go Home, Get Down - Death From Above 1979
5. Governor's Daughter - The Rosebuds
6. Certain Stars - Superchunk
7. Fragile Awareness - The Pattern
8. Cowgirls on Parade - Tullycraft
9. Rebellion (Lies) - The Arcade Fire
10. Lucky - Radiohead

Back with more bloggy goodness after I get some sleep.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Cato on Iraq

Not exactly optimistic for a Republican think tank, is it?
"In some ways, the symbolism of this referendum may be more important to this administration than the actual substance because the referendum is not likely to alter the underlying security environment. And, in fact, there is some chance that it may make matters even worse," said Cato Institute defense analyst Ted Carpenter.

I think this is more or less right, however. This will be another symbolic vote which will do little to heighten security. And in the long run I fear that the people of Iraq may see this as a failure of democracy itself.

I can only hope that's not the case.

Tommy boy

Tom DeLay's political group used nearly $100,000 in corporate and unlimited donations to mail last-minute political appeals praising five congressional candidates despite rules meant to keep such money out of federal races, documents released Thursday show.

The records also detail payments DeLay's group made to Jim Ellis and Warren Robold, two longtime fundraisers indicted in Texas in the same state campaign finance case as DeLay. All three men say they are innocent in that case.

The documents from the Federal Election Commission's audit of DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC (ARMPAC) were obtained by Political Money Line, a group that studies campaign fundraising.

Harry stands up

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid takes a stand against the latest oil company giveaway to pass the house:
"It's not going to go anyplace. It's a bad bill."

Democrats eveywhere are no doubt pleased to hear that. And we can only hope you can follow through.

Bankruptcy for everyone!

As expected, a record number of people have filed for bankruptcy ahead of this weeks changes. But here's my favorite tweak to the new law so far:
Chapter 13 debtors face a new provision making it harder to keep their cars, since a provision requires those filers to repay the full balance on auto loans. Under current law, they only must pay the car'’s fair market value.

Anyone see a problem that may arise from that? I'm asking those of you who currently drive a car to get to and home from work in order to pay your bills.

And we are looking at these new rules taking effect at a time when more families are being forced to use credit cards to cover household costs and predictions of natural gas prices increasing by 50% this winter, putting even more pressure on an already stretched family pocketbook.

So what happens this winter? Hopefully an upsurge in wages or a drop in energy prices allowing most of these families to stabilize and begin paying down their debt. If not, it could be a cold, dark holiday season for most of the nation.

Good enough won't do

This isn't the first editorial I've read about one of Arnold's initiatives saying, essentially, "It's not perfect, but it's a start" (scroll to the bottom, after you read the L.A. Times give Arnold a pass on conserving fuel because he's a big man). One of my problems with this argument is that close simply isn't enough with a lot of these issues.

An imperfect reapportionment? We already have that in California. We don't need to slap a few band-aids on it and then have everyone consider it fixed. Because there will still be problems with the new system as well. Politicians are still in charge, essentially picking a middle man to draw districts for them. Going from one broken system to another broken system isn't a great idea at all.

One thing to remember, California, as you gear up to vote, is that all these changes, from Prop 74 to Prop 80 are intended to alter the state constitution. While some of these proposals, with more work and leadership, could be palatable to the public, these are changes that should be made to the law books, and not the guiding document of the state.

Read more on the problems with Prop 77 here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Oh, Billy

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has been subpoenaed to turn over personal records and documents as federal authorities step up a probe of his July sales of HCA Inc. stock, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued the subpoena within the past two weeks, after initial reports that Frist, the Senate's top Republican official, was under scrutiny by the agency and the Justice Department for possible violations of insider trading laws.

Frist aides previously said he had been contacted by regulators but did not mention that the lawmaker had received a formal request for documents. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the investigation, said Frist is expected to testify under oath about what he knew about the company's health in the weeks before he sold stock. Frist has told reporters that he did nothing wrong and that he directed the sale to eliminate potential conflicts as he considered a 2008 presidential bid.

The formal request for documents usually presages an acceleration of a federal probe.

Joe Trippi sighting

I know quite a few people who thought Joe Trippi was one of the big reasons for Howard Dean's rise (and fall) in the Democratic primaries last year. So we'll get to see if he's learned his lesson as he attempts to guide former national NAACP head Kweisi Mfume to the Maryland Senate seat currently held by the retiring Paul Sarbanes.

Maybe this is old news for some, but it's the first mention I've seen of Trippi in quite awhile. And it looks like this campaign may be an uphill battle, financially, at least, as current U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin has announced a $900,000 third quarter to Mfume's $100,000.

But with Trippi involved, it should be an interesting primary to watch.

*UPDATE* It appears, at least according to Trippi's own blog, that he is only volunteering his time. At least for now

The fall of George Bush

I could do this for hours. (via Teagan Goddard)

Kerry gets first big endorsement for 2008

Well, Ted Kennedy says he'll back him.

No real surprise, since Kennedy was in Kerry's corner before his big revival in Iowa.

So maybe I'll be wrong on DeLay

Early I wrote that Tom DeLay's offense would lead to a muddled public view on his guilt. Not so, (or at least not yet) according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll:
The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points and which was conducted from Oct. 8-10 of 807 adults, also finds that strong majorities donÂ’t believe that the recent charges against GOP leaders Tom DeLay of Texas and Bill Frist of Tennessee are politically motivated. Sixty-five percent say that DeLayÂ’s indictment on charges of illegally using corporate contributions for political campaigns suggests potential illegal activity, while 24 percent say the indictment is politics as usual and has little merit. (Since his indictment, DeLay stepped down from his leadership position but still plays a prominent role in the U.S. House of Representatives.)

Tom DeLay's media blitz took place almost immediately and seems to have had little effect. The latest shenanigans, including the subpoena of Ronnie Earle, however, occurred after this poll, so it's too early to say I'm wrong outright.

But I would have thought DeLay's protests to the media would have brought those numbers down more than they did, so I'm fully ready to be wrong. Maybe the public, though, is thinking he protests too much.

Other good news?
In addition, with 13 months until the 2006 congressional elections, 48 percent say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, compared with 39 percent who want the Republicans to control Capitol Hill. In fact, that nine-point difference is the largest margin between the parties in the 11 years the NBC/Journal poll has been tracking this question.

And the President's approval? 39%, another first for the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

So good news all around. Unless your a Republican, that is.

Gore no more

Gore says no to 2008, 2012, 2016...

He does allow us to dream, however:
When asked how the United States would have been different if he had become president, though, he had harsh criticism for Mr. Bush's policies.

"We would not have invaded a country that didn't attack us," he said, referring to Iraq. "We would not have taken money from the working families and given it to the most wealthy families."

"We would not be trying to control and intimidate the news media. We would not be routinely torturing people," Gore said. "We would be a different country."

Republicans look to cede control of government

While I would be disappointed that I could no longer deduct mortgage interest from my income tax, I would be thrilled at the wave of Democratic dominance that would wash over the country if Bush pushes these ideas through.

Clearly the problem with the America's deficit is that the middle class has soaked up every tax cut the President offered them in order to guarantee his re-election. However, no longer weighed down by the need for a majority of Americans to vote for him, it seems that panel he created has decided it may as well screw us all.

Think about the people who can afford a house based solely on the current deduction. Think about all the money that would be taken out of the economy to pay new taxes. Think about the effect on the nation. (*UPDATE* Atrios did.)

And that doesn't even begin to talk about the deduction for employer-provided health insurance.

What wankers.

Big media Ezra

Ladies and gentlemen, Ezra Klein says "No" on Proposition 75.

No on Prop 74

At least the Sacremento Bee gets it:
It wouldn't add a single penny to your child's school or buy a single new textbook. It wouldn't improve education standards or provide health care to ill schoolchildren. It wouldn't enroll one new child into preschool, and it wouldn't provide enrichment programs for young children.

Proposition 74 wouldn't reduce class size or improve the quality of state-funded child care. It wouldn't make it any easier to dismiss low performing classroom teachers. In fact, the California School Boards Association has taken a position against the measure, in part because its members believe the proposition would make it more difficult to dismiss underperforming teachers. Most important, Proposition 74 wouldn't put one more qualified educator into California's schools.

So, what would it do? Proposition 74 would require California principals to perform an additional 30,000 teacher evaluations each year - without the money to pay for those evaluations. The nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst's Office says Proposition 74 would cost "tens of millions of dollars" to implement. That money would come from schools' already overburdened budgets, likely putting important education programs such as class size reduction in jeopardy.

Proposition 74 would force California teachers to undergo the longest probationary period in the country - five years. Most businesses require a 90 day probationary period for employees before they receive some basic rights in the company. Proposition 74 would force teachers to wait five years before they have any "due process" rights if they are fired. This initiative would allow schools to dismiss teachers during their first five years without a reason, or even a single negative evaluation. This disincentive would impact recruiting new and qualified teachers when California needs at least 100,000 teachers in the next 10 years.

Prop 74 and the LA Times

The LA Times comes out and endorses Prop 74, the "Blame Teachers Act."

The main argument for the Times is that tenure needs to be extended to weed out the teachers that don't want to be there or simply don't belong, teachers that become teachers, it seems, simply for the tenure. Which would make sense, if there weren't already protections in place. Teachers who receive unsatisfactory performance marks can already be dismissed under the current system, whether they've taught for three years or thirty. Teachers who engage in unprofessional conduct can be fired at any time no matter how long they've served.

Arnold's proposition does little more than create more paperwork and evaluations for principals without giving them adequate resources to perform them, further depleting schools of money that could be spent on the students, new textbooks, or up-to-date classrooms.

Prop 74 does nothing to help our school system. And now there are reports that Prop 74 could deny tenure already earned by certain teachers.

This is little more than Arnold's attempt to punish the teachers union for pointing out his failings as Governor. He has underfunded schools and reneged on his promise to pay back a $2 billion dollar loan educators made to the state last year. And rather than address these issues, Arnold has decided to punish his critics.

Instead of attacking the messengers, Arnold should spend time finding real solutions for the school systems. New books, up to date classrooms, and an initiative to bring on more teachers - not fewer - would be a good place to start. But rather than show true leadership, this campaign, much like Arnold movies, is about revenge. Except this time, Arnold is the bad guy, and the public must take the role as action hero.

The best defense

Tom DeLay has decided that the best defense to his two indictments is to come out swinging against Ronnie Earle, the Texas prosecutor who has brought the charges against him:
In a motion filed last week, the defense team said that from Sept. 29 through Oct. 3, Earle and his staff "unlawfully participated in grand jury deliberations and attempted to browbeat and coerce" the grand jury that refused to indict DeLay. The motion said Earle then attempted to cover up and delay public disclosure of the refusal, and also "incited" the foreman of the first grand jury to violate grand jury secrecy by talking publicly about the case in an effort to influence grand jurors still sitting.

The foreman, Gibson, gave interviews after the grand jury finished its work but told The Associated Press that Earle did not ask him to discuss the case.

"That's a bunch of [expletive] there," Gibson said. "That man did not talk to me."

Gotta love Texas justice.

The point of this assualt is not to actually bring charges against Earle, but to create the appearance of indiscretion on the prosecutors behalf when none appears to exist. And I seriously doubt that Earle, knowing the whole time he was being video taped for a documentary, would do anything foolish of illegal.

Still the battle rages. And the papers have been sucked in. Rather than continue the story against DeLay, they have begun to report on the so far bogus charges on Earle. The end result? A muddled public view until the Texas trials of Tom are complete.

Job security

Looks like Arnold's banking on this Governor thing not working out much longer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Something about a pot and a kettle

From James Dobson's "Focus on the Family", discussing what he found out in his private conversation with Karl Rove, which he had hinted occurred and would not reveal what was said until now:
And I feel very strongly about that. And frankly, I think it's a mistake and maybe even an ethical problem for people to do that - to go out and brag about being a player on the national scene, maybe to make themselves to look important. You know, I just wish that didn't happen like it does and I certainly didn't want to be part of it.

Dobson goes on to say he knows nothing more than we do now, but he knew it all sooner than we did. If it's true, there's not much to the story. But he does hit one of my pet peeves:
You know, that's one of the most outrageous developments in the history of the Court. American public opinion is ignored...

As well it should. Law is not a popularity contest and judges should not rule by what the public wants but rather by what the law says. Ruling by public opinion rather than rule of law is, in effect, legislating from the bench, something Dobson is supposedly opposed to.

And it should be noted as well that most Americans actually support Roe v. Wade, meaning if Dobson had his way, abortion would still be legal.

Finally, and kos notes this too, the next spin on Miers appears to be, "All the more qualified people turned Bush down." Which shows that Bush is more of a lame duck than we thought initially. And it really is an insult to Harriet Miers as well.

I'm sure we'll see more of this in the days to come.


I don't want to get into a big argument here, but I think something happened in 2003 that might change some of the numbers used here in Bruce Bartlett's column.

I wish I could remember what happened in 2003. Anyone remember?


Outside the blind trusts he created to avoid a conflict of interest, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist earned tens of thousands of dollars from stock in a family-founded hospital chain largely controlled by his brother, documents show.

The Tennessee Republican, whose sale this summer of HCA Inc. stock is under federal investigation, has long maintained he could own HCA shares and still vote on health care legislation without a conflict because he had placed the stock in blind trusts approved by the Senate.

However, ethics experts say a partnership arrangement shown in documents obtained by The Associated Press raises serious doubts about whether the senator truly avoided a conflict.

Iraqi violence continues

Today more than 40 are dead in the latest attacks in Iraq:
Insurgents determined to wreck Iraq’s upcoming constitutional referendum killed more than 40 people and wounded dozens in several attacks Tuesday, including a suicide car bomb that ripped apart a crowded market in a town near the Syrian border.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have repeatedly warned that the insurgents would step up their attacks to undermine Saturday’s vote, a crucial step in Iraq’s democratic transition.

That sounds a bit hollow sounding. It's the umpteenth reason we've seen for the insurgent attacks, and yet they continue after each reason fades into history. The insurgents probably don't care if the election goes off without a hitch at this point. They will remain a force in the country regardless of the outcome. And their continued presence cannot be doing much to convince the people of Iraq that democracy is the answer to country's problems of terror and violence.

OMG I hope we are BFF

I'm sure I won't be the only one to comment on the high school yearbook style of writing that Harriet Miers shared with George Bush from his time in Texas.

It certainly doesn't make one feel better about her being on the court, but it would make for some interesting opinion writing, I'm sure.

Gore/Obama in '08

Scuttlebutt or wishful thinking?

For the record, I'm all for Al Gore in 2008, although I think that Edwards would be a better pick for VP than Obama. Still, it's all rampant speculation and way to early to make any well informed decision on who's in or out.

Monday, October 10, 2005

John McCain shills for Arnold

With his poll numbers worse than those of the President, Arnold Schwarzenegger has called in reinforcements to push his wildly unpopular initiative campaign:
"I have campaigned for reform efforts all over the country," [Arizona Senator John] McCain said. "What happens in California has significant effect in states like mine that are nearby. It's just a reality."

So here's my question for John. What possible effect could issues like California redistricting, the budget bullying initiative, or teacher tenure have on Arizona?

Good for Arlen

NY Times:
Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and several Democrats on the committee said Sunday that they were considering calling the evangelical conservative James C. Dobson to testify on what he has been told about Harriet E. Miers, the president's Supreme Court nominee.

"If Dr. Dobson knows something that he shouldn't know or something that I ought to know, I'm going to find out," Mr. Specter said Sunday in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program "This Week."

In response to a later question, Mr. Specter added, "If there are back-room assurances and if there are back-room deals and if there is something which bears upon a precondition as to how a nominee is going to vote, I think that's a matter that ought to be known by the Judiciary Committee and the American people."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A golden shower of hits

The iPod nano's cool and all, but I'm not sure it's worth this. (via stereogum)

Riley up on Moore in latest poll

Maybe this won't be so exciting after all:
Gov. Bob Riley, who on Saturday announced his bid for a second term, holds a 19-point lead over ousted Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore among likely voters in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary, the results of a new statewide survey suggest.

The Mobile Register-University of South Alabama poll showed Riley with 44 percent and Moore with 25 percent. The remainder were undecided.

The results mark a dramatic turnaround from January, when a similar Register-USA poll found Moore leading the governor 43-35 in a hypothetical GOP contest.

It's still early, and Riley seems to have upset a lot of people in his tenure so far, so this race could still be a good popcorn battle to watch.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Democracy in Iraq

L.A. Times:
Senior U.S. officials have begun to question a key presumption of American strategy in Iraq: that establishing democracy there can erode and ultimately eradicate the insurgency gripping the country.

The expectation that political progress would bring stability has been fundamental to the Bush administration's approach to rebuilding Iraq as well as a central theme of White House rhetoric to convince the American public that its policy in Iraq remains on course.

But within the last two months, U.S. analysts with access to classified intelligence data have started to challenge this precept, noting a "significant and disturbing disconnect" between apparent advances on the political front and any progress in reducing insurgent attacks.

Now, with next Saturday's constitutional referendum appearing more likely to divide than unify the country, some within the Bush administration have concluded that the quest for democracy in Iraq, at least in its current form, could actually strengthen the guerrillas.

It does seem a bit naive now to think that bringing democracy to an entire country would limit the influence of the less desirable elements in it. There's no reason to think that those who would blow themselves and other up for their cause would suddenly unstrap the vest and find comfort in a voting booth.

It's a beautiful idea- that Democray would change them - but one that is proving less and less practical on a larger front. Those disenchanted with the new Iraq are getting shut out. The Sunnis, and especially the violent opposition don't seem willing to turn back just because they lose a vote. They seem to have something else in mind.

The potential outcomes are a scary mess that keeps us in Iraq longer than anyone imagined (well, anyone's been imagining lately). But hopefully this is a worst case scenario, and things on the ground will unfold in a more positive way. It seems the only policy we have left to cling to in Iraq: hope.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday Random Ten

When You Work at Night, the Evening is Morning edition (mad props here):
1. Say - Cat Power
2. The Trouble with Jeanie - Amy Rigby
3. Seven Silver Curses - The Fiery Furnaces
4. Beat My Chest - Superchunk
5. The Mariner's Revenge Song - The Decemberists
6. Panthers - Wilco
7. Writer's Cramp - Husker Du
8. Memory Machine - The Dismemberment Plan
9. Slow Explosion - Normanoak
10. Numb Songs - Brilliant Redlights

Shame! Shame!

It's nice to see the Democratic leadership stand up on this one, even if the end result will be the same. From the AP:
The House voted to encourage U.S. oil companies to build new refineries Friday in a raucous roll call that Republican leaders extended 40 minutes while they buttonholed their own members to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

Democrats crying ''shame, shame'' -- and some GOP moderates -- called the bill a sop to rich oil companies that would do nothing to ease energy costs including expected soaring heating bills this winter.

The bill would streamline government permits for refineries, open federal lands including closed military bases for future refinery construction and limit the number of gasoline blends refiners have to produce, eliminating many blends now designed to reduce air pollution.

I am stunned everyday that the GOP thinks an industry still reporting record profits needs even more money in their pockets. But that's exactly what this bill does - allow the oil companies to make even more money from the average working man.

Think Progress has the video of Democrats speaking out on the floor.

And some of the effects of the bill from the Times article:
...the bill would stifle legitimate lawsuits against refinery projects and in some cases override state or local objections if a refinery were located on federal land. A community or citizens group would have to pay an oil company's legal costs whether they won or lost a lawsuit challenging a refinery under one provision in the bill.

Limiting the number of gasoline blends refiners would have to produce to six could hinder the ability of states and cities to meet federal air quality requirements, according to state and county clean air officials, who lobbied against the legislation.

Wow. Not only do they get more government money, but they get money to fight law battles no matter what the outcome. And I know that the oil companies probably aren't going to spend lightly in the face of a lawsuit. Especially when it's not their money. In fact, who's going to be able to afford such a suit, other than the oil companies themselves? No one.

So much for Democracy.