"Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Candidates - Give 'Em $25

Regular Reads
Daily Kos
The Liquid List
Matthew Yglesias
Talking Points Memo
Michael Berube
Political Animal
How Appealing
MaxSpeak, You Listen!
Rittenhouse Review
Neal Pollack
John Moltz
Southern Appeal
Nathan Newman
The Poor Man
NRO's "The Corner"
Whiskey Bar
Sugar, Mr. Poon?
Carpetbagger Report
Happy Furry Puppy Story Time w/ Norbizness

Contact Us
Eugene Oregon
Noam Alaska
Helena Montana
Frederick Maryland
Zoe Kentucky
Arnold P. California

Mutual Admiration Society
DCCC's The Stakeholder
Abolish the Death Penalty
Busy Busy Busy
New American Empire
Staunch Moderate
The Moderate Voice
The Sneaky Rabbit
The Blue Bus
American Monkey
Restless Mania
Your Right Hand Thief
Naked Furniture
Dimmy Karras
The Department of Louise
Torvus Futurus
Live From the Nuke Free Zone
Proof Through the Night
No More Apples
Irrational Bush Hatred
The Slugging Southpaw
I Voted for George
Nosey Online
Donna's Place
The Bully Pulpit
Lying Socialist Weasels
TJ Griffin
To The Barricades
Eat Your Vegetables
Suddenly Routine
The Story So Far
The Lefty Directory
ReachM High Cowboy Network
John Hoke's Personal Asylum
Riba Rambles
The Bone
Fables of the Reconstruction
The Modulator
Planet Swank
Scoobie Davis Online
World Phamous
The Good Life
Something's Got To Break
Upside-down Hippopotamus
Damfacrats 2004
The Fulcrum
Yankee From Mississippi
It's A Crock!
Red Wheelbarrow
Apropos of Nothing
Political Parrhesia
The Mahablog
Muise in Gradland
American Leftist
Political Blog Directory
Boiled Meat
John Costello
Skydiver Salad
The Game & How We Played It
Soupie's BBQ and Daycare
Odd Hours
Nebraska Liberal
The American Street
Approximately Perfect

If you have linked to us and don't see your name, please send us an e-mail and we'll add you.



-- HOME --

This page is powered by Blogger. Why isn't yours?
Friday, September 26, 2003

Dean Leads in NH poll, Clark Gets Double-Digits

Howard Dean remains the top preference of New Hampshire Democrats, according to a Zogby poll reported today by the Boston Globe.

Dean tallied 30%, followed by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's 20%. Retired General Wesley Clark received the support of 10% of the NH voters surveyed. More details in the Globe article.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 4:42 PM

We'll Listen. But Only If They Tell Us What We Want To Hear

It seems as if a lot of the Bush administration's intelligence regarding Hussein's weapons programs was coming from Iraqi exiles -- and turned out to be inaccurate.

Like this

At the same time, CIA and DIA analysts were citing other reports from Iraqi expatriates and defectors claiming the UAVs were designed as delivery systems. But Air Force analysts dismissed these accounts as either outdated or not credible, Boyd said.
But that is not stopping the White House from predicting the WMDs will still be found

Spokesman Scott McClellan says President Bush still believes actual chemical and/or biological weapons will be discovered in Iraq. He says Mr. Bush wants weapons investigator David Kay to "pull together" the facts on Iraq's WMD, CBS News White House Correspondent Peter Maer reports.
Even though

U.S. officials suspect that some of the intelligence used to justify the war against Iraq came from defectors who were lying or reporting false information planted by Saddam 's regime, The Los Angeles Times reports. Some former weapons inspectors believe many of the suspicions about Iraq's alleged stockpiles may be because of bad bookkeeping in Baghdad.
In desperation, the Washington Times is putting forth an interesting new theory

A retired U.S. military intelligence officer says Iraqi defectors have made independent allegations that weapons are being stored in Iraq's mosques.
Thus it appears as if certain Iraqi exiles were welcomed by the administration, while others weren't - such as Imad Khadduri who

[H]as a MSc in Physics from the University of Michigan (United States) and a PhD in Nuclear Reactor Technology from the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). Khadduri worked with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 until 1998. He was able to leave Iraq in late 1998 with his family.
He's dedicated lots of energy to debunking "Saddam's Bombmaker" Khidhir Hamza, but with no apparent result.

Maybe this adminstration shouldn't have been so picky about which Iraqi exiles they were willing to listen to.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 4:05 PM

I am Woman, Watch Me Iron

I offer up this Dallas Morning News piece on Dr. Dorothy Patterson, wife of big-time Southern Baptist Paige Patterson, mostly as curiosity. As I read it, I half expected to see some sort of "power behind the throne" thread emerge. That would make a good story at least. It would go something like this: Here's woman who lives with the man who rode the wave of "wifely submission" into the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention, let's see how she exerts significant power even within her prescribed "female" sphere.

But it never materialized. Instead, this is the best the reporter could manage as an excercise of personal power by Dr. Patterson:

Still, that doesn't mean he gets to make all the decisions. He wanted to name their new home "Hacienda del Pastor." She convinced him that the house, a red-brick, two-story home with white columns, doesn't look like a hacienda.

So "Hacienda del Pastor" has become "Pecan Manor," named after the trees that dot the front lawn.
You tell him! Sheesh. She's no Phyllis Schlafly. Or even a Beverly LaHaye.

Bonus link: A handy chronology of the fundamentalist's takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. It's a great conversation piece and will make you popular at parties!

posted by Helena Montana at 1:23 PM

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

Karl Rove is going to Arizona to raise campaign contributions for a congressmen who still seems unable to account for past campaign contributions.

From the Arizona Republic

President Bush's top political adviser is on his way to Phoenix to raise funds for an Arizona congressman who hasn't yet accounted for finances in his first campaign.


[Rick] Renzi, a Flagstaff and Virginia insurance executive, spent about $1.2 million in his 2002 race for the rural District 1 seat, about half of it personal loans to his campaign.

Despite repeated inquiries from the Federal Election Commission, his campaign committee has not rectified numerous errors in accounting for donations and expenditures.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 12:30 PM

WSJ: Shooting Blanks

The editors of the Wall Street Journal are, by and large, quite pleased with themselves for pointing out what they perceive to be hypocrisy among liberals (although, frankly, Gigot and associates are pretty pleased with themselves about almost everything). The target of today's rhetorical volley was Gen. Wesley Clark. The editors were barely able to contain themselves as they recounted the General's words at a GOP dinner back in May, 2001:

In Mr. Clark's words, Ronald Reagan was "truly a great American leader," who "helped our country win the Cold War." His successor, George Bush, demonstrated "courage" and "vision" in postwar Europe, exercising "tremendous leadership and statesmanship."

The general also sang the praises of the current GOP leadership in Washington: "I'm very glad we've got the great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Paul O'Neill--people I know very well--our president, George W. Bush. We need them there, because we've got some tough challenges ahead in Europe."


Mr. Clark was asked about those remarks at yesterday's Democratic debate, and he replied that the country had made "an incredible journey" since September 2001 and that Mr. Bush had "recklessly cut taxes" and "recklessly took us into Iraq." We'd say the retired general has made a rather astonishing journey himself, and the public will have to judge the sincerity of his conversion.

At first, this might seem pretty damning to Clark's nascent campaign; that is, unless you actually read the full text of Clark's remarks. Conveniently, WSJ provides a full transcript.

When you read the whole thing, you see that Clark does in fact praise Reagan. Given that right-wing columnists have been beside themselves chastizing Democrats for their "unprecedented" animus towards George W. Bush, you'd think that they'd welcome non-partisan praise for the Gipper.

Clark also praises the elder George Bush for his internationalist tendencies, specifically his efforts to strengthen NATO. I can't see how this hurts Clark, considering that there's a strong case to be made that George W. Bush is dismantling the alliance that his father worked so hard to bolster.

When Clark praised W's foreign policy team, it was only five months into the term, months before 9/11 and the Iraq debacle.

What struck me most of all was the non-partisan nature of this speech, in spite of the partisan makeup of the audience. At one point Clark says:

Look, in politics they told me--I don't know anything about politics now, I want to make that clear. But they told me--I read, do my reading in Time magazine and so forth. And they said in politics you've always got to protect your base. Well, for the United States, our base is Europe. We've got to be there, and we've got to be engaged in Europe. And that means we've got to take care of NATO, we've got to make sure the Europeans stay in it, and we've got to stay with the problem in the Balkans, even though we don't like it. We will get it resolved, and we'll help bring democracy and Westernization to those countries there.

Clark won't take a hit from the voters for professing to be non-political. Besides, I think that by playing to America's "base", i.e. a strong relationship with Europe, he points out one of the greatest foreign policy weaknesses of the current Republican president.

posted by Noam Alaska at 10:58 AM

War Profiteers

Via Atrios, we learn of this Josh Marshall post that introduces us to a company called New Bridge Strategies.

New Bridge was formed in May 20003 and is headed by Joe Allbaugh, a key Bush advisor and his FEMA director until March (hey, wasn't that right around the time the war started?) Along with Allbaugh, most of the other principle figures in the company also have close ties to Bush and the GOP.

And guess what New Bridges does? We'll let them tell it

New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Its activities will seek to expedite the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush Administration. The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C. and on the ground in Iraq.

They openly boast of their ties to Bush and the rest of the government

New Bridge Strategies principals have years of public policy experience, have held positions in the Reagan Administration and both Bush Administrations and are particularly well suited to working with international agencies in the Executive Branch, Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the American rebuilding apparatus and establishing early links to Congress.

Launching a war to destroy a country while your buddies create companies so that they can rake in billions rebuilding it seems like a bit of a conflict of interest.

But what do I know?

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:13 AM

Another Limbaugh Lie

Since yesterday's post on the Coulter via Limbaugh lie seemed so popular, I thought I'd do some more quick research on Limbaugh's book.

He is selling it here and promotes it by offering up a quick list of supposedly outrageous incidents. Not surprisingly, the very first one is inaccurate.

Limbaugh reports its thusly

A Georgia school board, after being threatened with a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), deleted the word "Christmas" from the school calendar.

Which is accurate, I guess, if you ignore these basic details from the AP

Against its lawyer's advice, the Newton County school board is changing the designation of the two-week break at the end of the year from "winter holidays" to "Christmas holidays."

"This is a Christian country, and it is founded on Christian values with God in mind," said board member Richard Tiede. " `Winter holidays' came as a result of political correctness."

So after ignoring its own lawyer's advice and almost provoking a lawsuit, the school board apparently reconsidered its position and decided to revert to its original designation of "winter holidays."

Limbaugh's book is over 250 pages. I could spend the rest of the year debunking his lies.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:32 AM

Now Starring: John Ashcroft As Homer Simpson

There is a Simpson's episode from a few years back in which Homer gains 61 pounds so that he can be declared disabled and work from home. When Lisa learns of the plan, she insist that he first consult a doctor. So Homer goes to see Dr. Hibbert

Dr. Hibbert: [gasps] My God, that's monstrous. I've never heard of anything so negligent -- I'll have no part of it! [Turns his back on Homer.]

Homer: Can you recommend a doctor who will?

Hibbert: [turns around again] Yes.

And he sends Homer to Dr. Nick Riviera.

In some ways, that reminds me of this, from the New York Times

The Justice Department announced today that it was willing to allow a federal trial judge to dismiss the indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in an American court with conspiring in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, in order to move the case into an appeals court where the charges could be quickly reinstated.

The department's announcement that it would not oppose a defense request for dismissal cleared the way for the judge, Leonie M. Brinkema, to throw out the case against Mr. Moussaoui as early as Friday.

The judge, in district court in Alexandria, Va., had already signaled that she might have no other option because of the government's refusal to allow Mr. Moussaoui and his court-appointed lawyers to interview captured terrorists from Al Qaeda who might provide valuable defense testimony.


Officials of the Bush administration have also made clear that if Mr. Moussaoui cannot be prosecuted in a civilian court because of the question of defense witnesses, he will be moved to a military tribunal, where he may have fewer rights to seek testimony from the captured terrorists.


The Justice Department, acting at the instruction of the White House and under pressure from the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency, had said the government could not make the captured Qaeda leaders available for defense questioning.


But defense lawyers have argued, and Judge Brinkema and many outside prominent criminal law specialists have agreed, that Mr. Moussaoui cannot receive a fair trial without access to witnesses who clearly know whether he was involved in the Sept. 11 conspiracy and other Qaeda plots.

To summarize - in Simpson's dialogue

Judge Brinkema : [gasps] My God, that's monstrous. This court cannot allow this trial to move forward so long as you continue to violate Mr. Moussaoui's 6th Amendment rights and refuse to allow him to question individuals who might provide valuable defense testimony. I've never heard of anything so illeg -- I'll have no part of it! [Turns his back on Ashcroft.]

Ashcroft: Can you recommend a court that will?

Brinkema: [turns around again] Yes.

And off to the 4th Circuit they go.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 8:59 AM

Thursday, September 25, 2003

A Temporary Cease Fire

Normally, we here at Demagogue try to dedicate most of our energy to mocking National Review's "The Corner" but this is a good idea, so we are seconding it


There were eight House members who voted against the bill to save the "Do Not Call" list at the FTC.

Bishop (UT) 202-225-0453

Meek (FL) 202-225-4506

Strickland 202-225-5705

Cannon 202-225-7751

Paul 202-225-2831

Terry 202-225-4155

Flake 202-225-2635

Ryan (OH) 202-225-5261

It would really be tooooooo bad if Corner readers called them at the same time, say, noon Monday?

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:58 PM

They Found It!

From Reuters

The U.N. nuclear watchdog has found traces of arms-grade enriched uranium at a second site in Iran, a month before a U.N. deadline for Tehran to prove it has no secret atomic weapons program, diplomats said on Thursday.

Oh wait ... did that say Iran? I thought it said Iraq.

My mistake.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 4:54 PM

Bulletin: Marriage Destroyed in Netherlands

In a rare moment of clarity and freedom from the bonds of demagoguery, the Family Research Council explains exactly how gay marriage destroys straight marriages.
Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that after two years of legalized homosexual "marriage" in the Netherlands, public perceptions of a difference between heterosexual and homosexual couples have almost vanished. Activists in Amsterdam claim that homosexual couples are "just like any other married couple" and that "the only thing that makes their marriage unusual" is that they are both the same sex. They point to acceptance by relatives, neighbors and even "conservative" politicians as evidence of the similarities between heterosexual and same-sex "marriage."

Oh no! The horror!

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 4:06 PM


What Would Jesus Eat?

Why, Bible Bars of course! Do you suppose they ate Sacred Nectar or Bible Granola at the Last Supper?

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 3:02 PM

Best Headline of the Day

From Nature: Stock market traders show signs of zero intelligence.

posted by Helena Montana at 2:28 PM

This Oughtta Be Good

Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum is speaking at the Heritage Foundation tomorrow. The topic? What else? The "Necessity of Marriage."

Actually, I'll be suprised (and yes, I admit it, rather pleased) if he can't keep the anti-gay idiocy from flowing. But more than likely, he'll stick to the script at hand.

posted by Helena Montana at 12:04 PM

Fact-Checking David Limbaugh Via Ann Coulter

This week, Ann is even lazier than normal. Her entire column is dedicated to praising, and, I assume, liberally stealing from, David Limbaugh's new book Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity.

Coulter calls it a "copiously researched book " and offers up this anecdote right off the bat

In a public school in St. Louis, a teacher spotted the suspect, fourth-grader Raymond Raines, bowing his head in prayer before lunch. The teacher stormed to Raymond's table, ordered him to stop immediately and sent him to the principal's office. The principal informed the young malefactor that praying was not allowed in school. When Raymond was again caught praying before meals on three separate occasions, he was segregated from other students, ridiculed in front of his classmates, and finally sentenced to a week's detention.

That is outrageous. But since Limbaugh and Coulter and Newt Gingrich couldn't be bothered to do the little research necessary to determine if it was actually true, I did it for them.

From the Washington Post on December 6, 1994

The 10-year-old boy in St. Louis whom House Speaker-to-be Newt Gingrich said was put in detention for saying grace in a public school cafeteria was in fact disciplined for matters entirely unrelated to praying in school, according to the superintendent of St. Louis schools.

Gingrich highlighted the case on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday as evidence that public schools are repressing the rights of students who wish to pray. But the case of Raymond Raines is being contested in federal court in St. Louis, and the facts are far from clear.

"He was disciplined for some matters that were totally independent of silent praying,'' Superintendent David Mahan said. "We did a very thorough investigation. We talked to teachers, administrators and also to some students, and we could not find any evidence of the allegations that the parent and the student made.''

From the Los Angeles Times on December 25, 1994

But school officials said the incident never happened. Rather, they said, Raymond was disciplined for fighting in the cafeteria.

"I can tell you he was not reprimanded for praying," said Kenneth Brostron, the school's lawyer. "Do you think it makes sense that the teachers would look around the cafeteria and target the one student who was praying quietly at his seat?"

Calling the report that Raymond was caught praying "absolutely not true," school Principal Cleveland Young said: "How would I even know about something like that?"

When can I expect a correction or retraction?

posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:05 AM


Want to read one of the most incoherent and uninformative interviews of all time?

Well, here is Bill O'Reilly trying to interview Condoleezza Rice.

Either O'Reilly needs to get the marbles out of his mouth or his transcriber needs a better hearing aid, because I was having a bit of difficulty understanding just what sort of answer to expect from a question like this

O'REILLY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the USA (UNINTELLIGIBLE) send a couple of divisions up there, in conjunction with American Special Forces, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

Maybe the White House saw fit to black out this information on National Security grounds.

Whatever the reason, good luck trying to follow the conversation.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:27 AM

Death Knell for the Federal Marriage Amendment?

A new poll shows that a mere 20% think it's worth the effort of amending the constitutional to ban gay marriage. But it gets even better. Among older folks where anti-gay marriage bias runs higher than any other group, only 23% of people over 65 think there should be a constitutional ban.

These are very bad numbers for the Federal Marriage Amendment folks. Chances are, the politicians who think they could parlay their support of a constitutional ban into a ratings boost will be unpleasantly surprised that most Americans will think they're wasting their time on such an issue. Apparently most people still regard the U.S. Constitution with enough reverence and respect that they don't want to see it used as a tool for petty discrimination.

Want to let the House co-sponsors of the Federal Marriage Amendment know that they should just forget about it? Collin Peterson (D-MN), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Ralph Hall (D-TX), Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), David Vitter (R-LA).

Let these congressmembers know that this poll is a more accurate reflection of how far people are, or aren't, willing to go with this issue. People were asked specifically if they support changing the constitution. Previous polls presumed that people who oppose gay marriage would automatically support changing the constitution. It's sloppy polling to conflate opposing gay marriage with supporting the FMA. Disliking or not approving something is different than wanting to codify your opposition in the constitution.

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 10:23 AM

Agreeing with Tom DeLay

I'm not sure that I've ever said this before, but I agree with Tom DeLay. From today's issue of Roll Call [subscription required]:

On Tuesday, during a closed-door session of the House GOP leadership, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said that the battle in Congress to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration is a fight over whether energy exploration will be allowed in similarly sensitive areas in the future, a statement that surprised even Republicans in the room.

According to several GOP sources, DeLay insisted that backing down on ANWR would be a mistake for those who support the measure, popular with the oil industry, although DeLay also acknowledged that the provision was likely to fare poorly in the Senate because of opposition from Democrats and GOP moderates.

“It’s about the precedent,” DeLay told the assembled Republican leaders while making several references to the “symbolism of ANWR,” according to GOP sources.

DeLay even joked that a victory on ANWR would allow the oil industry to push into other pristine areas, “except for the coast of California.”
Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), the GOP Conference secretary and one the most hard-line Republicans in the House, then responded that drilling off California was “OK with him.”

Several GOP insiders were startled that DeLay contradicted the Bush administration line on the issue. Officials have stressed repeatedly that the battle over ANWR was not symbolic, but rather about the resources that could be tapped there.

“I was surprised to hear that position stated so openly,” said a Republican source who attended the meeting. “He came right out and said it. There wasn’t any beating around the bush.” [Emphasis mine.]

However, unlike the Majority Leader, I don't see the prospect of drilling in other pristine wilderness areas as a cause for mirth.

posted by Noam Alaska at 9:59 AM


Call Ann Coulter! Page Bernie Goldberg! The headlines from last night's California recall debate point to obvious favoritism of one candidate over the others--at least on the part of one newspaper. Let's see if you can guess which one:

The Chicago Tribune: Punch lines, no knockout in recall debate

The Los Angeles Times: Recall Rivals Use Debate to Go on Attack

The New York Times: California Recall Debate Quickly Goes Free-for-All.

USA Today: Candidates slug it out in California debate

The Washington Post: Calif. Candidates Trade Barbs:
Sharp Exchanges Erupt Among 5 Vying to Replace Davis

The Washington Times: Arnold steals show in California debate

posted by Noam Alaska at 9:34 AM

Catch-22 by Robert Mugabe

Last year, Robert Mugabe's government passed a law requiring all media outlets and journalists to be licensed. As part of the licensing process, all papers were required to disclose their finances and the political affiliation of their employees.

The Daily News, a paper often critical of Mugabe and his authoritarian regime, refused to register, protesting that the law was unconstitutional.

Now, approximately 60 reporters, photographers and editors from the paper are facing criminal charges for failing to be properly accredited, despite the fact that they submitted their applications for accreditation last December. At the time, these applications were rejected because the company they were working for - the Daily News - was not registered with the government.

Two weeks ago, Zimbabwean police shut down paper and the publisher finally applied for registration - which was rejected, in part, on the grounds that the paper had employed unaccredited journalists.

Listen to the NPR story here ("Zimbabwe Paper's Staff Faces Criminal Charges ")

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:11 AM

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Yes and No

Here's a post from Tapped:

WRONG AGAIN. Michael Tomasky argues today at TAP Online that the right's entire strategy of tainting Clark by association with Clinton is based on a faulty premise: the assumption that people will automatically hate someone who's associated with Clinton. The problem: Americans don't hate Clinton. A vocal minority does. But those people are very much a minority. Didn't Republicans learn this lesson in 1998? Most Americans simply don't share the right's frothing hatred of all things Clinton.

I agree that most Americans don't hate Clinton. However, I think Tomasky himself works with a faulty premise. The Right doesn't need to (of course, they want to) get a majority of people to hate Clinton, and by extension, hate Clark. They just need to rile up that vocal minority (which Tomasky puts at 27-30 percent of the country) with another Clinton conspiracy. They've gone to this well so many times before and it always results in a fired up base, lots of fundraising, and book sales for Coulter, Hannity, et al.

Once again, the media has been buying into this by printing the garbage. And I don't just mean columns by conservatives like William Safire, but also news stories by mainstream outlets like USA Today.

So, the Right's bogeyman strategy is obnoxious but also effective.

posted by Noam Alaska at 5:53 PM

Love Is in the Air

Via Slacktivist, we learn of Washington's most recent whirlwind romance
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the House majority whip, is getting married next month.

The wedding is planned for mid-October, Taylor said. This will be the second marriage for Blunt, 53, who got divorced last year, and the first for [Abigail] Perlman, 41.

Perlman is a lobbyist -- the head of government affairs for Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris:

Their relationship became controversial in June, after The Washington Post reported that Blunt tried to slip language aiding Philip Morris into a homeland security bill last year.

Isn't that romantic? I mean, anybody can send flowers, but nothing says "I love you" like diverting homeland security funding to Big Tobacco.

Theirs has been a classic, whirlwind Beltway love story. Rep. Blunt finished up the paperwork on his divorce. Altria finished up the paperwork on a new policy recusing Perlman from lobbying House leadership.

The soon-to-be Mrs. Majority Whip will still be allowed to lobby rank and file members of the House. Those representatives will, of course, feel no pressure to grant her undue access or influence just because she's married to the No. 3 man in the House leadership.

Rumor has it the couple is registered with Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel and several appropriations committees.
Touching, no? While you're at it, go visit the spiffy new Slacktivist.

posted by Helena Montana at 3:45 PM

What Changed?

Via Tapped we get Colin Powell's remarks from February 24, 2001

[T]he sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place, but we are always willing to review them to make sure that they are being carried out in a way that does not affect the Iraqi people but does affect the Iraqi regime's ambitions and the ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and we had a good conversation on this issue.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 2:11 PM

Your Daily Dose of Corner Bashing

Perhaps the only thing more inane than John Derbyshire's pompous self-congratulatory witticisms are the comments of would-be Derbyshires. From today's The Corner:

PRESIDENT WHO? [John Derbyshire]
An excellent point from a reader: "All of the Dems' words about Vietnam, Kissinger, Nixon etc. have one purpose: to Republicanize the war. Keep howling about Nixon and Kissinger and there is no space to write the word: Johnson. Most young people never hear the name Johnson in connection with that war, yet he signed my draft notice. In fact I call Johnson the invisible president. Every hear his name mentioned? Ever? The Dems' record on Vietnam is not in the consciousness of today's young people. The war as taught in schools today is strictly a Nixon/Republican war."

Well, let's see. Max Cleland is a Democrat and he likened Vietnam to Iraq last week:

The president of the United States decides to go to war against a nation led by a brutal dictator supported by one-party rule. That dictator has made war on his neighbors. The president decides this is a threat to the United States.

In his campaign for president he gives no indication of wanting to go to war. In fact, he decries the overextension of American military might and says other nations must do more. However, unbeknownst to the American public, the president's own Pentagon advisers have already cooked up a plan to go to war. All they are looking for is an excuse....

The president was Lyndon Johnson [Emphasis mine].

How many times does Cleland mention Nixon? Zero times. How many Kissinger mentions? That's right. Zero, zilch, zip.

But, surely, the media, which everyone knows is chock full of liberals, would be more likely to link Nixon to Vietnam than they would to make the Johnson connection, right? Well, no. In the last couple of years (according to the Factiva news database), the terms Nixon and Vietnam showed up in 4981 times; Kissinger and Vietnam, 2461 times; and Johnson (and, yes, Johnson is a popular name, so I limited it to Lyndon Johnson, President Johnson or LBJ) 6230 times.

Democrats who mention Vietnam these days do so not to "Republicanize" that conflict. Rather, they offer it as a cautionary tale as we sink deeper into the Iraq conflict.
Comparing Iraq or any other war to the quagmire in Vietnam may be a dicey proposition (although I think that a Vietnam vet like Max Cleland has more right to make such connections than a blogger like me, or Derbyshire for that matter). If conservatives don't feel the comparison is valid, they should say so, rather than accuse liberals, without any supporting evidence, of revising history.

posted by Noam Alaska at 2:10 PM

Another Good Bush Nominee

In February 2003, a jury sided with two narcotics agents who claimed that they were punished by their boss, Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher, for filing a lawsuit after they uncovered a drug-trafficking ring that diverted profits to a CIA-backed Dominican presidential candidate.

As this report describes it

In the fall of 1995, McLaughlin and Micewski, who were working for the OAG's Bureau of Narcotics Investigations (BNI), discovered that a State Department-backed Dominican Republic political party was raising campaign funds for its presidential candidate by selling heroin and cocaine in Philadelphia, New York and Massachusetts.

In late March 1996, they, along with DEA agents in New York, tried to seize a half-million dollars in campaign funds from the visiting presidential candidate Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, claiming the money came from drug deals. The attempted seizure was called off by the State Department. Two weeks later, in April 1996, then-U.S. Attorney Mike Stiles and District Attorney Lynne Abraham told the OAG that they would no longer prosecute cases brought to them by McLaughlin and Micewski or use their testimony, essentially ending their careers as narcotics investigators. Eventually, the prosecutors refused to bring to trial more than 80 accused drug offenders investigated by McLaughlin and Micewski -- even though two separate investigations, one by Deputy Attorney General Eric Noonan and one by the FBI -- found that the officers had done nothing wrong and even though Abraham's chief assistant, Arnold Gordon, admitted in court that he might have unfairly stigmatized the agents.

McLaughlin and Micewski -- later dubbed the "Bastard Squad" by an OAG supervisor -- fought to clear their names.

They made their case in memos and in grievances and, eventually, in a lawsuit, filed Oct. 14, 1997, alleging that "a Dominican drug organization, through the protection of certain persons in the State Department and the CIA, was effective in having plaintiff's law enforcement efforts stopped and their careers destroyed."

Less than a month later, McLaughlin and Micewski were transferred to busy-work jobs in the hinterlands: McLaughlin to Greensberg; Micewski to Wilkes-Barre.

On Oct. 2, 1998, they filed a retaliation suit, claiming that Attorney General Mike Fisher and his command -- who inherited the Bastard Squad problem when Fisher took office in January 1997 -- used those transfers, and other forms of mistreatment, as punishment for filing the first suit.


[A]n eight-member federal jury in Wilkes-Barre decided that Attorney General Mike Fisher and members of his senior staff must pay the two former investigators a total of $1.5 million as punishment for retaliating against them. The verdict is a huge victory, wiping away the stain of seven years of rumor and innuendo.

So what did Bush do? Less then three months laters, he nominated Fisher to serve on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

You'd think this might be a problem, since, as NOW says

Fisher holds the remarkable distinction among President Bush's nominees of having been found by a jury to have violated the federal civil rights of state employees, while his nomination was being vetted by the White House.


A Fisher spokesman said he would appeal—an appeal that of course would be heard by the Third Circuit, the very court to which Fisher has been nominated.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 12:08 PM

Bush's Empty Words to the UN

The French proposal to turn control over to a Iraqi council within 90 days may be unrealistic given the confusion that still reigns in many areas of the country. The French proposal also doesn't seem to stipulate whether the Iraqi people would play any electoral role in choosing part or all of this governing council. Having said all of that, at least the French have put something on the table. In his speech to the UN on Tuesday, President Bush had a chance to offer a competing plan with a clear timeline. He failed to do so.

After reading excerpts of President Bush's remarks, I'm left with the sense that this administration is not only filled with people (Wolfowitz et al) who have some dangerous goals, but it also operates from a make-it-up-as-you-go foreign policy. Consider the emptiness of Bush's UN speech:
The primary goal of our coalition in Iraq is self-government for the people of Iraq, reached by orderly and democratic process.
But exactly what kind of process does he propose? Your guess is as good as mine. Bush continued with more empty words:
This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis, neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties.
The process to establish peace and stability in Iraq should simply "unfold?" Plans don't just unfold -- they include specific tasks and timelines. How can anyone hurry or delay a process that lacks a timeline? Bush babbled on, adding:
And the United Nations can contribute greatly to the cause of Iraq self-government.
But how? Simply by pressuring its member nations to send money and troops? Once again, Bush offered no substance.

The Washington Post seems to agree. The Post, which has treated Bush with kid gloves throughout much of his presidency, published an editorial today entitled, "A Failed Address." In it, the Post writes:
Most remarkable, Mr. Bush had nothing new to say about the struggle to stabilize Iraq and establish a new government .... If the president's intention was to rally international support for a vital cause, the burden of which cannot and should not be borne so disproportionately by the United States, he missed an important opportunity.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 9:54 AM

Cars Need To Be Taken Off The Market

The New York Times reports that right-wing groups are using a recent RU-486-related death to support their anti-abortion agenda

Last Wednesday, a California teenager died at a hospital in Pleasanton, just days after taking prescription pills to abort her early pregnancy. The circumstances surrounding her death are unclear, and an autopsy is under way.

But battle lines are already being drawn, with opponents of abortion saying the death of the woman, Holly Patterson, 18, shows why the abortion pills are too dangerous to remain on the market, while abortion providers say it shows no such thing.

"We're sorry to say that this is what we warned would happen," said Wendy Wright, senior policy director at Concerned Women of America, which opposes abortions. "This drug needs to be taken off the market."

Undoubtedly Patterson's death is tragic, but doing a search for the phrase "teen dies" on Google News brings up dozens of stories about teens killed in car accidents - like this, and this, and this, and this, and this.

The way I see it, cars have killed at least 5 times as many teens in recent days as RU-486. They ought to be taken off the market.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:53 AM

This Should Have 434 Co-Sponsors

From the Washington Post

Congress looks to be moving this week to change a practice that has annoyed and angered folks in the military for more than 20 years. Seems that most military personnel receive $8.10 a day as a food allowance -- not exactly an extravagance.

But under current rules, injured troops who are hospitalized -- and able to receive free gourmet hospital food -- must reimburse the government for that $8.10 allowance. This didn't seem right to Staff Sgt. William L. Murwin, who was injured in Iraq after an Iraqi kid dropped a grenade into his Humvee.

The explosion sent Murwin to the hospital for 26 days and left him a partial amputee. After the Marine reservist got back home to Nevada in July and to his job as a sheriff's deputy, he was hit with a bill for $210.60 for his hospital food.

This didn't seem right to Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) either. Many service members "will be handicapped for the rest of their lives," he told the St. Petersburg Times, "and we're asking them to pay $8.10 for their food!"

So Young and his wife, Beverly, who has been active in helping injured military personnel, paid Murwin's bill, and Young introduced a measure a few weeks ago to change the law so service members injured in combat or training won't be charged for food.

He has inserted language in the fiscal 2004 defense appropriations measure, expected to be approved today by the House, which would soon stop the bills from going out for one year. Young has 193 co-sponsors on legislation to change the law.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:28 AM

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

What $87 Billion Could Buy

I've seen several lists like this and this that detail what we could get for the $87 billion Bush proposes to spend in Iraq. Things like hiring more than 2 million new teachers or spending an additional $1,824 on each child in American public schools.

I find this sort of pointless, because what exactly is the alternative? I realize that the point is to contrast this outlay to Bush's reluctance to pony up dough for important programs here in America, but what do these critics propose that we do about Iraq in lieu of spending some $80 billion to stabilize and rebuild it? Not spend the money on Iraq and hire new teachers instead?

And for the record, some $20 billion of it is designated for things like hiring, training and equipping 20,000 guards to protect Iraqi government facilities, constructing 10 major irrigation and drainage projects, and building a new children’s hospital in Basra.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 4:42 PM

Where To Draw The Line?

In response to this comment by a reader

If you [Democrats, the DLC, etc...] succeed in using dirty tricks to topple Dean, I will not be voting in 04, and I know a lot of other Democrats who will join me in sitting it out.

Josh Marshall makes the following statement

My own feeling is that the only real Democrats are those who will support the party's eventual nominee, end of story.

This is something of a tautology, but it raises an interesting question. Namely, should voters be supporting a nominee or a party?

I haven't made up my mind about which candidate I will support, but I do know that I am inclined to vote for pretty much anyone but Bush in November 2004. But that does not necessarily mean that I will vote for the Democratic nominee.

If the Democrats manage to nominate Edwards or Lieberman, I fear that I will have to find some third party to vote for because, as I see it, I can support the Democratic Party only so long as it reflects my views - not the other way around. My political views are not dictated by the Democratic Party and I am not so wedded to the idea of identifying myself as a Democrat that I will vote for any nominee they put forward. If they nominate a Lieberman or Edwards, then it is clear that my views do not coincide with the views of the Party and therefore, I am not a Democrat, despite the fact that I have long identified myself as one.

I supported Bill Bradley, and ended up voting for Gore. I don't know that any of the current candidates are any worse than Gore, but upon reflection, I have decided that, at some point, one has to draw a line regarding how far one is willing to go in order to accomplish little more than defeating a hated enemy.

I would like nothing more than to see Bush defeated, but I have a hard time justifying voting for a candidate I merely dislike less in order to accomplish it. I likewise find it hard to accept the idea that, because I consider myself a Democrat, I am obligated to vote for whomever they nominate.

There must be some criteria beyond self-identification that determine whether or not a political party represents your views. There must be some limit to an individual's support. There must be some line we are not willing to cross ... it's just that I'm not exactly sure where it is.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 4:11 PM


Via Billmon we learn of this

Bush said he insulates himself from the "opinions" that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories.

"I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news," the president said. "And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

This is so frightening/stupid/dangerous that I am going to force myself to pretend that I never read it, less I suffer from a complete nervous breakdown.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 2:57 PM

Today's Lesson: How to Wreck America's Schools

The deepening quagmire in Iraq and the deteriorating economy under President Bush are the two issues that currently stand at center stage. Although a new school year is underway, parents and the public have yet to fully comprehend the ticking timebomb that is Bush's education policy: his so-called "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) Act.

Under NCLB, here's what happens. In 11 years, the federal government will impose sanctions against a public school unless every one of its students (special education students, developmentally disabled kids, etc.) are tested and found to be "proficient" in reading, math and science. Not 93.6% .... not 96.7% ... not even 99.8% -- every single public school student in every state must meet this proficiency standard in ALL three subjects.

Surely, there are at least one or two exceptions, right? Wrong. Imagine a student who: a) arrived with her parents from a famine- or war-ridden country in another hemisphere only a few months before; and b) begins her first day of school speaking virtually no English. Thanks to those compassionate conservatives in the White House, this child must meet all three standards of proficiency for her grade level or else her public school is sanctioned.

After NASA's repeated bungling, has anyone seriously proposed imposing sanctions against it unless every one of its rockets or shuttles are launched on time and safely return to earth? Oh, wait, I forgot ..... that's different.

Do schools with these kinds of at-risk students receive special funding under NCLB? That was the original intent, but the Bush administration and Congress have failed to fully fund NCLB. There's an $8 billion gap, according to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). But wait, it gets even worse.

Just as the federal government is raising the bar for students' knowledge of math and science, it is simultaneously sabotaging the ability of schools to meet these new standards. Last year, the American Institute for Physics noted that federal funding to train teachers in new approaches to math and science instruction "has significantly decreased from FY 2001 levels."

In today's Washington Post, a former school teacher and administrator in Iowa explained in very plain terms what most syndicated columnists have danced around: NCLB is something that only delusional bureaucrats could embrace. The former educator, Jerry Parks, writes:
It's hard to tell whether this law is more a product of arrogance or ignorance, but either way it's shaping up to be a spectacular train wreck of a collision between bureaucracy and reality.
It doesn't take a genius to see the long-term danger posed by NCLB. It's a ticking timebomb that by 2014 will allow ultra-conservative groups to use this proficiency "evidence" as an excuse to push for an expansion of private-school vouchers.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 11:13 AM

Bad Example

From Dana Milbank

When Bush was stumping for his "jobs and growth" tax cut proposal in April, he went to Timken Co., a maker of steel bearings in Canton, Ohio. "The greatest strength of the American economy is found right here," Bush said then, predicting the tax cut would bring "more money for investment, more money for growth, and more money for jobs."

A month later, Bush signed a $350 billion tax cut, less than he wanted but still what he called "a bold package."

And Timken? The company announced last week that it is cutting 900 jobs and lowering its earnings forecasts.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:03 AM

An Ashcroft Twofer

The Attorney General manages to come off looking like an ass in two separate Washington Post articles.

The first

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft yesterday issued new guidelines to the nation's U.S. attorneys, requiring that they pursue the toughest charges they can reasonably hope to prove in criminal cases and limit their use of plea bargains.

The changes, combined with the attorney general's efforts earlier this year to seek the stiffest sentences possible, are intended to make the enforcement of criminal laws more uniform across the country. But they are seen by some prosecutors and judges as a serious erosion of their discretion in criminal cases.

The second

The Bush administration has decided to pursue a 16-year-old effort to deport two Palestinian activists who as students distributed magazines and raised funds for a group the government now considers a terrorist organization, despite several court rulings that the deportations are unconstitutional because the men were not involved in terrorist activity.

The case, which has long had a high profile among Palestinian Americans, could pose a new judicial test of a controversial provision in the Patriot Act, passed in 2001. The provision prohibits supplying material support for organizations the government deems "terrorist," even without evidence of a link to specific terrorist acts.


In seeking the deportation in 1987 of Hamide, Shehadeh and six other Palestinian immigrants allegedly associated with the PFLP, the Reagan administration's Justice Department invoked a provision of the Cold War-era McCarran-Walter Act, which barred membership in communist groups. But a lawsuit filed by the so-called L.A. 8 led a federal appeals court to declare the law an unconstitutional infringement of free speech, and Congress repealed it in 1990.

The deportation cases nonetheless continued to churn through the courts because Congress's action did not affect pending disputes. Then-FBI Director William Webster conceded in 1987 that none of the eight had engaged in terrorist activity and that they would not have been arrested if they were U.S. citizens. Civil liberties groups charged that the government was wrongly excluding the immigrants from traditional protections of free speech and association.

Six of the cases were ultimately deemed minor technical violations. In January, the Bush administration was given a summer deadline for declaring whether it would still seek to invoke the McCarran Act. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that it would pursue the deportations but drew on the language of the Patriot Act.

Congrats Johnny!

posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:02 AM

Ain't PR Grand?

Today the NYT reports that
Airline executives, industry analysts and privacy groups said yesterday that JetBlue might have to do more to appease fliers than issue an apology to those who complained about its decision to share information on 1.1 million customers with a Pentagon contractor investigating security issues.

While analysts said they doubted the disclosure would do more than scuff the airline's reputation, the industry was still shaking its head over an unexpected black eye to the airline, an aviation darling since it began flights in 2000.

In reaction to the uproar over its action, JetBlue said late yesterday that it had retained the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche for help in the "continued development" of its privacy policy. It said the firm would help the airline refine its standards regarding customer data.
Just 3 days earlier the very same NYT business pages reported that the airline gave the information to the Pentagon in violation of their existing security policy.
Gareth Edmondson-Jones, a spokesman for JetBlue, said in a telephone interview that the decision to provide the passenger information to Torch Concepts was a clear violation of the company's own policy. "We have the strongest privacy policy in the industry, which clearly says that we don't supply customer data to third parties," he said.
How much do you think they'll pay this major accounting firm going to tell them to follow their own privacy policy?

Oh yes, did I mention that passengers are already suing and the government is opening its own investigations? And that the Army has already used the JetBlue data to test out a new data-mining program that sounds quite similar to the recently defunded TIA? Look for a whole lotta ass-covering in the next few days.

posted by Helena Montana at 9:51 AM

If You Are An Idiot Looking For Something To Read

Then you can't go wrong with Bill O'Reilly's new book.

Who's looking out for you? Funny you should ask. Apparently it's a vapid, pompous Fox News hack.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:24 AM

Knock Yourself Out

Via Southern Appeal we learn of this Hill article about GOP plans "to make the president’s judicial nominees and what they view as Democrats' obstructionism a campaign cornerstone in the South."

This is not particularly surprising, but I don't think Democrats need to worry if this is the best they can come up with

Groups such as Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, an umbrella organization for 75 other center-to-right-leaning groups, plan to implement an electoral pledge in the next few weeks, similar to the “no new taxes” pledge first signed by President Reagan in the 1980s.

The organization’s president, Kay Daly, said the oath will ask each Democratic Senate candidate next year whether he will support an up or down vote on each of the president’s nominees. Refusal to make the pledge will be publicized by the group.

“They’ll be labeled enemies of the Constitution,” she said.

She really knows how to strike fear into our hearts.

But I wonder where Daly will ever find them time for this? She just might have to cut back on leading small protests outside the offices of People For the American Way.

Here is a first-hand Free Republic account of the protest. It all sounds very exciting.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:08 AM

Monday, September 22, 2003

Media Machiavellis

I guess it should surprise no one when NewsMax comes out with a cover story describing "Hillary's Bold Plan" to run for president in 2004. NewsMax has a special section on its web site with literally hundreds of hit pieces on Hillary.

The same goes for conspiracy-minded pieces by Washington Times editor Wesley Pruden or plot-driven books from Random House's right-wing imprint, Crown Forum. These folks are blinded by a pathological hatred of everything Clinton paired with a desire to make a quick buck with hysterical headlines.

Recently, however, writers from more respectable news outlets have taken it upon themselves to spin Hillary conspiracy stories. They really should know better.

New York Times columnist, and resident conservative, William Safire spun an incredible (and I mean that quite literally) story on yesterday's edition of Meet the Press. Safire asked:

Now, why is Bill Clinton pushing Wes Clark? The Clinton people are climbing on the Clark bandwagon. This is the way to stop Howard Dean. Now, why does Clinton want to stop Howard Dean? Could it be that he wants to wait and see and perhaps Hillary will get into this with General Clark as her vice president? Will he prefer to let someone else run and lose and, thereby, have a clear field for Hillary Clinton to run in 2008? What’s going on underneath the coverage? It’s just terrific.

Thankfully, the LA Times' Ron Brownstein was on hand to take some of the wind out of Safire's sails:

Bill, you realize your two arguments are in a head-on collision with each other. Either they want Wesley Clark in the race to stop Howard Dean so that the field can be cleared for Hillary or they want Howard Dean to win so that they can lose in ’04 and the field can be cleared for Hillary in 2008. The fact is it’s almost too complicated for them.

In today's issue of Roll Call [subscription required], Mort Kondrake, Fox News' idea of a lefty, pushes a similarly twisted plot. He ends by asking, "How do the Clintons campaign for the 2004 nominee and still make certain he loses to Bush? That one, I can’t figure out."

Now, I realize that the Clintons are extremely ambitous folks and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Hillary makes a run for the White House at some point in the future. Still, the fact is that Hillary has said--repeatedly--that she will serve out her entire Senate term, which means that she can't run for president until 2008 at the earliest. And, as much as I'm sure that Bill Clinton would take great satisfaction in another Clinton driving another Bush out of office, I really can't believe that he would sabotage his party's chances to give Hillary her shot. He knows better than anyone what 4 more years of GWB would do to the Clinton legacy of balanced budgets, internationalist foreign policy, and responsible environmental stewardship.

There are now 10 Democrats who are really and truly running for president. There should be enough colorful characters, horse race missteps, flip-flops, scandals, and perhaps even policy positions among the current crop of candidates to keep the punditocracy's conspiracy theorists busy without wasting precious ink on non-candidates and unsubstantiated rumors.

posted by Noam Alaska at 1:43 PM

Predicting Bush's Next Move

So, at a time when the Bush's popularity bubble seems to be bursting and things are looking down for his administration in general, what is next on their agenda to help them get back on track, regain America's confidence and win in 2004?

There's a strong possibility that they'll take their cue from the folks who helped write their tax policy, direct their foreign policy, orchestrate a lot of their social policy-- the Heritage Foundation.

So, what is Heritage saying now? What's next? Change the tune, it sounds like S-Y-R-I-A.

How do we deal with Syria? With a little dramatic irony, apparently, because Heritage is pushing for international cooperation and organized economic pressure. (At least they didn't suggest Syria needs weapons inspectors...)

But can it work? Perhaps the emperor's feeling a bit of a draft these days...

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 1:23 PM

Texas Board Fails to Evolve

In Texas (as in so many other states) a budget shortfall has forced serious cuts in education funding. The Texas Legislature apparently viewed school textbooks as a luxury as it voted to ax funding for textbooks by $226 million. And Texas must determine how it will define the term "highly qualified" teacher since the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" Act essentially punted this issue to the states.

With these major challenges facing the Lone Star State, it would seem that the members of Texas' state Board of Education would have little time for revisiting one of the Religious Right's favorite issues: creationism. But, apparently, the Board has plenty of time.

In fact, a recent e-mail listserv from the Public Education Network reports that the Texas Board devoted an amazing 12 hours at its Sept. 10 hearing to babble on about what textbooks say about evolution. From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. on that day, this was the topic that absorbed the undivided attention of the Board, which will make a final decision on the textbook issue in November.

It was only a decade ago that George W. Bush's home state permitted its biology teachers to acknowledge the theory of evolution, a theory that reflected the consensus of the biological and geological sciences.

About 40 anti-evolution activists presented the Board Sept. 10 with a letter urging them to add criticisms of evolution to state textbooks. While critics of Darwinist theory tried to frame the letter as coming from "scientists," it's worth noting that one of the letter's signers is David Shormann.

Shormann holds a Texas A&M Ph.D. in limnology -- the study of freshwater ecosystems. Not exactly the ideal field for this area of inquiry, but whatever. Shormann also happens to teach creationism at Tomball Bible Church. According to an article in the Austin Chronicle, Shormann's Web site declares, "Dr. Shormann believes that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days, because the Bible tells him so!" Heck, you've got to believe a man who owns a talking Bible.

The Chronicle's headline said it best: "Search for Intelligent Life at Texas State Board of Education."

posted by Frederick Maryland at 12:25 PM

Our Continuing War Against the ICC

From the NYT

Under strong pressure from the Bush administration, Colombia's government has signed an agreement that exempts Americans arrested in this war-battered country for human rights violations from prosecution before the new International Criminal Court.

The agreement, signed late Wednesday, means that $130 million in American aid to Colombia — assistance Washington had threatened to withhold — will proceed as planned. Sixty-one poor nations heavily dependent on American aid have signed similar agreements.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:38 AM

Fox's Brit Hume: Man of Style

Tonight, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time), Fox News will air a one-hour interview of President Bush by Fox News anchor Brit Hume. It's the first lengthy, network TV interview that the president has granted in six months, and the White House's choice of venues is hardly surprising. But when the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz asked administration officials about the granting of this interview to Fox, he came away with a bizarre (and ridiculous) explanation.

In the second item from his column in today's Post, Kurtz writes:
[Administration officials] say Fox was selected not to "pander" to a conservative audience, as one put it, but because the network had not previously been granted an interview during the Bush presidency. Hume, Fox's Washington managing editor, got the nod because administration insiders like his style.
Yes, it was the dashing, edgy and stylish Hume that won the White House over. Never mind that Media Life Magazine reported earlier this year that a conservative media group grading coverage of the Iraq war gave an A to only one network news anchor: Hume. Nah, that had nothing to do with it.

All of you fashion glitterati out there, keep your eyes peeled. The cover of GQ or Vanity Fair could soon be emblazoned with the new man of style: Brit Hume.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 10:59 AM

Of Two Minds About the UN

Bush seems to think that Hussein's supposed refusal to abide by Security Council Resolution 1441 was so egregious that it demanded "serious consequences." In fact, he is planning on making just that argument when he goes to the UN tomorrow to try and convince it to play a bigger role in stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq

Bush's address is to strike a defiant note about his decision to attack Iraq even though the Security Council refused to back the war.

"I will make it clear that I made the right decision and the others that joined us made the right decision," he said. "The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein." Bush said he would remind member nations of the "serious consequences" promised in Resolution 1441, passed by the Security Council in November, if Iraq did not disarm. "At least somebody stood up and said this is a definition of serious consequences," he said.

It appears almost as if Bush thinks that violating UN resolutions is unjustifiable and that any such violation demands swift action. As such, if would not be illogical to assume that the UN must be some sort of relevant, important body in the realm of international law.

Why then this?

France and Germany insisted anew over the weekend that the United Nations should replace the United States as manager of Iraq's political transition until Iraqis take over. In negotiations over the resolution, administration officials have been looking for a way to give the United Nations more say in Iraq's political process while retaining U.S. control of the occupation.

Iraq's violation of UN resolutions ostensibly lead to the war, but when it comes to the rebuilding and transfer of power, Bush seems to view the UN somewhat irrelevant

"I do think it would be helpful to get the United Nations in to help write a constitution. I mean, they're good at that," Bush told Fox News in an Oval Office interview to be aired tonight. "Or, perhaps when an election starts, they'll oversee the election. That would be deemed a larger role."

Obviously, these are not unimportant tasks, but if violating UN resolutions is sufficient grounds for war, one would assume that it was an important international organization - one that would not simply be relegated to drafting constitutions or overseeing elections in the wake of war waged supposedly in its name.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:55 AM

Outranked and Outnumbered

It's about time-- the "unknown Democrat" who keeps defeating Bush in the polls has a name, and it's General Wesley Clark.

As of a very recent poll, Bush and Clark are already playing in the margin of error-- 47% v. 43%.

Barely out of the gate and General Wesley Clark outranks all the other democratic candidates and has Bush shaking in his boots.

(Does anyone else find these new polling numbers especially astounding considering that Clark's announcement last week was overshadowed by Hurricane Isabel?)

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 10:15 AM

Will This Help That?

While reading this Washington Post article yesterday

Congressional negotiators are weighing House and Senate proposals to include dozens of tax breaks for industries in pending energy legislation, even though they could add as much as $19 billion to the federal budget deficit in the next decade.


Under a Senate-supported proposal to require gasoline refiners to increase their use of corn-based ethanol fuel in their blends, the government stands to lose as much as $2.5 billion a year in gasoline excise taxes. Because gasoline made with ethanol gets a 5.3 cents-a-gallon tax subsidy, increasing ethanol's share of the gasoline market would reduce receipts from the federal tax.

I was reminded of this other Washington Post article from a little over a month ago

This year, manufacturers are to produce more than 1 million "flexible-fuel" cars and trucks that can run on either gasoline or E85, a mixture of 15 percent gas and 85 percent ethanol, which is derived from grain and releases fewer greenhouse gases than petroleum when it burns.

There were no such vehicles in 1988 and about 800,000 last year. In 2004 automakers plan to build nearly 1.8 million flexible-fuel vehicles -- in one stroke nearly doubling the number of such cars on the road, which now stands at 2 million, according to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.

The trouble is, there is almost no place for them to fill up with E85, so virtually all just run on gasoline. Fewer than 150 of the roughly 176,000 gas stations nationwide offer the ethanol-based fuel, the coalition and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

But auto manufacturers get credits toward meeting federal fuel-efficiency standards for every ethanol-friendly car or truck they build, regardless of whether the vehicle's owner actually uses the alternative fuel. The government requires automakers to sell cars that get an average of 27.5 miles per gallon and light trucks that average 20.7 mpg, and the flexible-fuel credit allows manufacturers to fall short of those numbers by as much as 1.2 mpg.

That means motorists could wind up using 20 million to 56 million more barrels of oil each year because of the credits for the unused ethanol, according to figures from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

So gasoline manufacturers get subsidized for producing ethanol? And auto manufacturers get fuel efficiency credits for building cars that run on ethanol? But less than 150 stations across the country actually sell ethanol-based fuel?

Sounds like someone else is waiting for their government-funded incentive to get on board.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 8:54 AM

Weblog Commenting by