By Eric Hananoki. Senior @ the George Washington University. Residence: Honolulu, Hawaii. Occasional poster at
Note that Eric has now stopped updating the site: see 'The Hamster Goodbye' at the foot of this page.

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NEW: Schapelle Corby Still Imprisoned

In 2005, when a young Australian girl landed in Bali for a holiday with her sister, she entered a nightmare from which she may never emerge.

When she collected her board bag, marijuana had appeared in it (the wrapping conveniently pre-slashed to release the smell). Hence began one of the most harrowing show trials of modern times, with the court refusing to test the drugs for country of origin, rejecting her pleas for more investigation, and even ordering destruction of the important evidence.

Schapelle was sentenced to a shocking 20 YEARS in an Indonesian prison cell. The uproar in Australia eventually died down, partly thanks to a less than helpful media and the strategic importance of the governments relationship with Indonesia. She is still there: she will never have kids, and assuming she actually survives, will lose the best years of her life.

Video Overview:


Can you just walk by? We couldn't.

Yet Another Study: Global Warming Real

Scientists say they've found the "smoking gun" on global warming; AP:

Climate scientists, with the aid of diving robots probing the world's warming seas, have found the heat exchange between Earth and space is seriously out of balance -- what the researchers called a "smoking gun" discovery that validates forecasts of global warming.

They said the findings confirm that computer models of climate change are on target and that global temperatures will rise 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.56 degree Celsius) this century, even if greenhouse gases are capped tomorrow.

If carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions instead continue to grow, as expected, things could spin "out of our control," especially as ocean levels rise from melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the NASA-led scientists said.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, is the latest to report growing certainty about global-warming projections.

But please, why listen to scientists when you have the guy who wrote Jurassic Park? Unfortunately, if history is any indication, science will make little difference to free market conservatives who'll insist that "more research is needed" on global warming.

Posted by Eric at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

The Onion: Report: U.S. Foreign Policy Hurting American Students' Chances Of Getting Laid Abroad

As Atrios would say, "Heh-Indeedy."

Posted by Eric at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

Worst Episode of The O.C. Ever

Watching the Bush press conference now ...

... Think Progress doing live debunking.

"Legislating from the Bench" -- Matthew Yglesias.

Posted by Eric at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

Wall Street Journal Oped Page: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

The WSJ op-ed page lies about Abu Ghraib to cover the Bush administration's ass? Shocking! J.R. Norton, outgoing research director for the Al Franken Show, with the details.

Posted by Eric at 07:58 PM | Comments (0)

Online Comm, Thursday

Terence Samuel. Turn of Events: John Bolton wasn't supposed to run into any trouble -- and Democrats weren't supposed to get their act together
Ruy Teixeira. Revolt of the Middle?
thinkprogress. Press Conference: The Elephant in the Room
Suzanne Nossel. Not Anti-Bulldog, Just Anti-Bolton
Kos. The Whining Moderates
Mark Z. Barabak. Is Arnold Losing It? Gov. Schwarzenegger is looking less like Reagan and more like Ventura
David Corn. Jokes for Bush....And Phony Partisan Finger-pointing
Perry Jefferies. Broken Chain Of Command: An Iraq veteran explains how Abu Ghraib was symptomatic of the wide-ranging problems in the invasion and occupation of Iraq
Reed Brody. The Stain of Abu Ghraib
Village Voice. Halliburton's Military Meals 'Pretty Unbelievable'
Ari Berman. Al Gore Gets Down
Sarah Posner. Will a "real woman" stand by her man?
United for a Fair Economy. Key Wall Street CEOs Pay Social Security Taxes One Day a Year but Push for Risky Change
mediamatters. Falwell, Gordon Robertson repeat false information on judicial nominations
TalkLeft. Abu Ghraib: One Year Later
Norman Solomon. Iraq: War, Aid and Public Relations
Stephanie Poggi. Abortion Funding for Poor Women
Reed Brody. Watch America: A year ago, Colin Powell said that the United States would hold Abu Ghraib up to the light. That hasn't come true

Posted by Eric at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

Quotable Limbaugh

No comment needed:

LIMBAUGH: I would submit to you that people on the left are religious, too. Their God is just different. The left has a different God. There's a religious left in this country.

And, the religious left in this country hates and despises the God of Christianity and Catholicism and whatever else. They despise it because they fear it, because it's a threat, because that God has moral absolutes. That God has right and wrong, that God doesn't deal in nuance, that God doesn't deal in gray area, that God says, "This is right and that is wrong."

Posted by Eric at 01:42 PM

Hammer the Hammer

For work distraction.

DeLay bit:

DeLay, R-Texas, was admonished by the committee on three matters last year.

Early in the day, he was clearly annoyed as he emerged from a closed Republican meeting and found himself in a mob of reporters.

"You guys better get out of my way," he said. "Where's our security?"


Posted by Eric at 10:20 AM | Comments (1)

Gore Speech: "Breaking the Rules to Destroy Our Courts"

Get out your constitutional theory textbook and check out Al Gore's recent speech on the GOP's potential nuclear option :

This fight is not about responding to a crisis. It is about the desire of the administration and the Senate leadership to stifle debate in order to get what they want when they want it. What is involved here is a power grab -- pure and simple.

And what makes it so dangerous for our country is their willingness to do serious damage to our American democracy in order to satisfy their lust for total one-party domination of all three branches of government. They seek nothing less than absolute power. Their grand design is an all-powerful executive using a weakened legislature to fashion a compliant judiciary in its own image. They envision a total breakdown of the separation of powers. And in its place they want to establish a system in which power is unified in the service of a narrow ideology serving a narrow set of interests.

Their coalition of supporters includes both right-wing religious extremists and exceptionally greedy economic special interests. Both groups are seeking more and more power for their own separate purposes. If they were to achieve their ambition -- and exercise the power they seek -- America would face the twin dangers of an economic blueprint that eliminated most all of the safeguards and protections established for middle class families throughout the 20th century and a complete revision of the historic insulation of the rule of law from sectarian dogma. One of the first casualties would be the civil liberties that Americans have come to take for granted.

Indeed, the first nominee they've sent to the on-deck circle has argued throughout her legal career that America's self-government is the root of all social evil. Her radical view of the Social Security system, which she believes to be unconstitutional, is that it has created a situation where, in her words: "Today's senior citizens blithely cannibalize their grandchildren."

Posted by Eric at 09:39 AM | Comments (1)

The Hamster Note

I'll have a site and personal announcement tomorrow.

Posted by Eric at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)

The Coming Ethics War

Though Republicans are reversing changes the House ethics rules, don't expect them to play dead - far from it. The Hill:

Some GOP legislators are upset that they were forced to back down on the ethics rules, handing House Democrats a huge political victory. Others, including Hastert, believed that keeping the rules in place would have inflicted significant, long-term damage on House Republicans.

“They’re angry about it,” Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) said as he walked out of the meeting.

One lawmaker, citing reports of alleged ethical transgressions filed by several Democratic lawmakers and aides, predicted that the ethics panel would begin probes of them once it was allowed to organize.

Expectations that Republicans will use the ethics committee, officially called the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, to retaliate against Democrats for — as Republicans see it — politicizing the House ethics rules raises the specter that an ethics committee will result in a partisan ethics war ... Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said of the prospect of an ethics war between Republicans and Democrats: “It’s inevitable. Don’t think its not going to happen.”
A third Republican lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, agreed.

Liberal Oasis sums it up nicely:
As you can see, scrapping the new ethics rules intended to block an investigation into Tom DeLay is not a retreat.

Just a change in strategy. They’re tired of playing defense for DeLay. So now they’re gearing up to play some offense ... Now, this is very much a high-risk strategy for the GOP.

A steady stream of “everybody does it” stories can create an anti-incumbent “Throw The Bums Out” dynamic, as the House Bank scandal did in 1992 (43 congresspeople were defeated, another 52 retired.)

While the GOP margin in the House has been fairly slim for several years, Dems have never been given much change to regain control, because incumbency re-elections rates have been so high. A Throw The Bums Out dynamic, while possibly stinging some Dems, may well be the party’s best chance in 2006.

Posted by Eric at 09:03 AM | Comments (1)

Bernie Sanders for Senate

As this Vermont columnist notes (link via Sirota), Rep. Bernie Sanders should be the odds-on favorite to win the Vermont Senate seat being vacated by Jim Jeffords; remember, Vermont only has one House district, so Sanders represents the entire state.

The Democratic Party is solidly behind the iconoclastic Vermont Independent with the Brooklyn accent. Both Howard Dean and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called him to express their support. The skids are greased.

The only one who could possibly derail the Senator Sanders train is Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.

The only question is, does he have the guts to go head-to-head with Bernie?

In the 2002 election, both won handily. But Sanders polled 25,000 more votes statewide in his Congressional race than Douglas got for governor.

Certainly the Bush White House and the Republican Party will promise him the sun, moon and stars to run, but Gov. Scissorhands gets flustered when challenged, and Bernie will be challenging him -- loud and clear -- on a daily basis.

Besides, every time we try to raise the issue with Jim Barnett, Douglas' number one hit-man, he changes the subject.

Posted by Eric at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Thursday

Barbara Ehrenreich. A Society That Throws the Sick Away
Michelle Ackermann and Sara Patton. Pro-drilling politicians are living in the past
Bob Herbert. On Abu Ghraib, the Big Shots Walk
StarTrib. D.C. deceit/Budget blueprint is awful
Dean M. Nielsen. Two Washingtons, two agendas
Martin Ventura. Bush team no follower of Earth Day's principles
LAT. The Bolton Logic
Sidney Blumenthal. The good soldier's revenge
USAT. House takes step back from ethics precipice
USAT. Let gay soldiers serve openly
BGlobe. Frist principles: SENATOR BILL Frist, the majority leader, should follow the example set yesterday by House Republicans and back off before he leads his party over the brink
Richard Cohen. Cut From Cheney's Cloth

Posted by Eric at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2005

Online Comm, Wednesday

Steve Clemons. Lugar and Biden Unite on NSA Transcripts Request
thinkprogress. Tom DeLay’s Cigar Problem
Geov Parrish. Without DeLay
Joe Conason. Bush Hides the Truth About Terror, Torture
Camille T. Taiara. The rainforest Chernobyl: Amazonians threatened with extinction address ChevronTexaco shareholders in San Ramon – and illustrate how the quest for dwindling oil reserves poses a global threat.
Jared Bernstein & Mark Greenberg. Lessons From the Social Security Debate
Katrina vanden Heuvel. Be Careful What You Pray For
Howard Zinn. "To Be Neutral, To Be Passive In A Situation Is To Collaborate With Whatever Is Going On"
Radha Chaurushiya and Christian Weller. Social Security, Family Values
David Paul Kuhn. Senator Franken? He's good enough, he's smart enough, but doggone it, will people vote for him? To find out, Al Franken is moving his radio show back home to Minnesota to get ready to run against Sen. Norm Coleman
Media Matters. Religious conservatives' selective memory on their own "anti-Christian" comments
Media Matters. Hume launches personal attacks against Bolton critics without addressing their claims
Ari Berman. PBS: Republican Broadcasting Corporation
Amitabh Pal. Bush's handholding with the Saudis
Amanda Griscom Little. Higher Ed: An interview with actor and solar advocate Edward Norton
Steve Clemons. The Utility Of Battling Bolton
Sam Rosenfeld. Majority Bleeder: The inept Dr. Frist has incited a nuclear exchange his caucus can't win
Mark Schmitt. The Legend of the Powell Memo: The idea that one man mapped out the entire right-wing infrastructure is appealing. Too bad it’s not true
Tracy Van Slyke, Jessica Clark. Making Connections: Why is the news so bad? What can progressives do to fix it?

Posted by Eric at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

Walmart Tries to Shut Down Parody Site

Call Floyd Abrams and file under stupid corporations:

A junior at Carnegie Mellon University had his Web site satire of Wal-Mart shut down after the $285 billion retailing behemoth sent a letter to his Internet service provider to close access to the site.
"We have to protect our company name, and that's what those copyrights hold for us," Kevin Thornton, a spokesman for the company in Bentonville, Ark., said Tuesday. "When you pretend to be someone that you're not, that could lead to a problem."

Daniel Papasian, 20, of West Hartford, Conn., launched the Web site on April 16 for an arts class he is taking on using the media for social and political commentary.

"I chose Wal-Mart because, as the world's largest retailer, there are countless labor, environmental and discrimination issues throughout Wal-Mart," the political science major said.

The parody site is

Happy ending? The irony that follows when corporations try to squash free speech protected comedy (e.g. Franken v. Fox):

Papasian said he received only 300 to 400 hits on his site in the first three or four days before it was shut down. In the two days since he relaunched it, the site has gotten 700 or 800 visitors.
Thousands now.

Posted by Eric at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

From the Department of Obvious

GAO: Government's climate data inadequate.

Previously: Bush administration accused of suppressing, distorting science.

Posted by Eric at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)

Jon Stewart's Gaywatch


Posted by Eric at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Wedn

Nick Jans. Why are we talking about just ANWR?
DaytonaNJ. Filibuster Frist
USAT. Founders' intentions may be casualty in fight over judges
StarTrib. Beyond brusque/Style is least of Bolton problems
SeattlePI. United Nations: Bolton's the wrong pick
Dan Simpson. Rattled by its missteps, the Bush choir is no longer singing in tune
John Nichols. Patriot Act vote key to Feingold's future
Jack Miles. The Unholy Alliance Against the Filibuster
LATimes. President Bush's Social Security privatization idea is a mistake
Robert Kuttner. Whose nation under God?
Maureen Dowd. U.N.leash Woolly Bully Bolton
NYT. In Search of Budget Moderates: Moderate Republicans should inject some common sense and human kindness into the budget blueprint in Congress

Posted by Eric at 06:23 AM | Comments (0)

Why Bush Tried to Hide Terrorism Data

Previously: "The State Department announced last week that it was breaking with tradition in withholding the statistics on terrorist attacks from its congressionally mandated annual report." As the Washington Post reports on its front page, this is why:

The number of serious international terrorist incidents more than tripled last year, according to U.S. government figures, a sharp upswing in deadly attacks that the State Department has decided not to make public in its annual report on terrorism due to Congress this week.

Overall, the number of what the U.S. government considers "significant" attacks grew to about 655 last year, up from the record of around 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides who were briefed on statistics covering incidents including the bloody school seizure in Russia and violence related to the disputed Indian territory of Kashmir.

Terrorist incidents in Iraq also dramatically increased, from 22 attacks to 198, or nine times the previous year's total -- a sensitive subset of the tally, given the Bush administration's assertion that the situation there had stabilized significantly after the U.S. handover of political authority to an interim Iraqi government last summer.

Posted by Eric at 05:38 AM | Comments (0)

GOP to Reverse Ethics Rule Blocking New DeLay Probe


Posted by Eric at 05:35 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2005

Abstinence Education Numbers

One of the social conservatives' biggest victories has been the "abstinence-only until marriage" sex education programs in the public schools, according to Boonstra, of the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Those federally funded programs prohibit any discussion of contraception except in the context of failure rates -- which Boonstra says are inaccurate. An AGI survey of teachers found one in 50 schools taught abstinence-only in 1988; the number increased to one in four in 1999. That is the most recent accounting period, but the movement has clearly snowballed. The federal government has spent more than $1 billion since 1982 on those programs -- of that, $620 million has been spent in the past seven years, and President Bush is seeking an all-time high of $206 million for the 2006 budget. Some states are also moving the programs into elementary schools.
Why does it matter?
The abstinence-only programs -- which have largely replaced safe-sex education -- have not only curbed the distribution of condoms and birth control pills in school health clinics, but have entirely banned information about contraceptives and sexual health. The nonprofit Abstinence Clearinghouse, which promotes such programs, says few could argue that refraining from sex is the only sure-fire way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. And it dismisses repeated studies finding that abstinence-only programs are ineffective in either delaying sexual experience among teens or protecting them from disease. So does Alma Golden, Bush's pick to head the Population Affairs department, which runs the programs. "One thing is very clear for our children, abstaining from sex is the most effective means of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, STDs and preventing pregnancy and the emotional, social and educational consequences of teen sexual activity," she says on the Clearinghouse's Web site.

Posted by Eric at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

Another DeLay Story

It pays to be a staffer in Tom DeLay's office - leave and go to K-Street, or stay and be regaled with gifts.

Posted by Eric at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

Silly Billy

Bill Kristol can only defend John Bolton by mischaracterizing his opposition.

Posted by Eric at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

Online Comm, Tuesday

Jeffrey D. Sachs. Bush's Gambling Debts
Bill Berkowitz. Crusader for a Christian nation: Dr. D. James Kennedy may not be as well-known as Falwell, Robertson, or Dobson, but he packs a powerful political punch in
John Nichols. Fight for the Filibuster: Democrats don't need to compromise with Frist and the right. This battle can (and must) be won
Molly Ivins. Christian right goes nuclear: Republicans attack media outlets in battle over Rule 22
Hans Dunshee and Erik Poulsen. It's So Easy Building Green: Washington state just passed legislation that is pro-jobs, pro-environment and saves taxpayer dollars. The future is here
thinkprogress. Abdullah at the Ranch: A Handy Checklist
Steve Clemons. Bolton Inflated Syria Threat: Why Such Misassessments Endanger National Security
Max Blumenthal. Justice Sunday Preachers: If their struggle is like the civil rights movement, why do Christian-rightists like Tony Perkins have so many white supremacist friends?
Peter Davis. Vietnam: Thirty Years On
Kevin Drum. Wall Street and the vast tax burden of the upper classes
SirotaBlog. Bush Backlash Helping Democrats in the West
Paul T. von Hippel. More on "Limousine Liberals"
Peter Dizikes. John Edwards 2.0 He's honing his stump speech and exhorting Democrats to stay the course. But can the twice-rejected pol hold the limelight until 2008?
democracynow. God's Politics: Frist Fights Filibuster on Judicial Nominees in "Justice Sunday"
Bradford Plumer. We'll Always Have Paris: Defenders of the estate tax need to wise up: good yarns and specious moralizing will always trump the facts.
mediamatters. Media adopts false claim that "nuclear option" is a Democratic term
Gerald Rellick. The Next Nuclear Power: Russia
Matthew Yglesias. False Gospel: Faith can't disqualify judicial nominees. The way they use faith can
Sam Rosenfeld. Majority Bleeder: The inept Dr. Frist has incited a nuclear exchange his caucus can't win
Sean Gonsalves. Failing to Curb Global Poverty
Don Hazen. MoveOn Muscles Up

Posted by Eric at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Tuesday

Jack Hitt. Jesus Was No GOP Lobbyist: A tortured version of his message is being marketed for political gain
NYT. The Disappearing Wall: The Republican campaign to breach the wall between church and state is having a corrosive effect on policymaking and the lives of Americans
Nicholas Kristof. N. Korea, 6, and Bush, 0
SFC. No accountability for Abu Ghraib
Margi Fox. Our efforts can save the Arctic refuge
Helen Thomas. Bolton wrong man for U.N. job
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. American justice / Bush needs to address prisoner abuse concerns
Marie Cocco. U.S. shouldn't make Moussaoui a martyr
Robert Scheer. Fiddling While Crucial Programs Starve
LAT. Letting the Dogs Out; The U.S. drug industry spent $4.1 billion hawking pharmaceuticals to consumers last year, a 28% jump from 2003
Jesse Jackson. Right-wing assault threatens independence of judiciary
Des Moines Register. Iowa Poll on Social Security shows Iowans get it

Posted by Eric at 08:31 AM | Comments (1)

Wolfowitz Flashback

This skillful and astute guy is heading to the World Bank:

Until now, Wolfowitz has expressed great faith in the capacity of oil to bail out developing nations. In fact, he said it would be the key to postwar development in Iraq. Iraq's oil revenues "could bring between $50 [billion] and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years," Wolfowitz told the House Budget Committee in February 2003. "We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon."

But experts were already warning that the Pentagon's faith in oil was folly. "His miscalculation on Iraq was appalling," says Youssef Ibrahim, managing director of the Dubai-based Strategic Energy Investment Group and former energy editor for the Wall Street Journal. "Before the invasion, Iraq exported to the outside world 3.5 million barrels of oil a day. Today, on a lucky day, Iraq exports maybe 1.4 million barrels. Not only did he completely miscalculate what Iraqi production would be after the war, but in fact the world has lost nearly 2 million barrels a day of Iraqi oil."

The linked article tells of the Wolfowitz vision for the World Bank which - surprise! - invovles oil companies. Woe is the anti-poverty mission of the World Bank.

Posted by Eric at 05:38 AM | Comments (0)

Focus on the Family Targets Business of Senator's Wife

The Colorado conservative group, headed by James Dobson, has taken to attacking the business of Sen. Ken Salazar's (D-Co) wife. Sen. Salazar, viaProgress Now:

"Today, supporters of Focus on the Family attempted to disrupt business at the Dairy Queen owned by my wife Hope."

"It is one thing to disagree with me on controversial issues of the day, and I accept and welcome differing views."

"But it is something else to target my wife's business, in an attempt to intimidate me. These tactics are outrageous and un-American, and simply won't work."

"We make progress in America when cooler heads work to find solutions to common problems. That is how I approach my job in the US Senate, as an independent voice tackling the issues that matter to Coloradans every day."

Why? Salazar has attacked Focus on the Family for their overheated rhetoric.

Posted by Eric at 04:20 AM | Comments (1)

Bush's War on the Press


Posted by Eric at 04:09 AM | Comments (0)

No Syrian Help on WMD; No to Nuclear Option

Two quick news notes from the Washington Post. First, the Iraq Survey Group "found no senior policy, program, or intelligence officials who admitted any direct knowledge of such movement of WMD.":

U.S. investigators hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq have found no evidence that such material was moved to Syria for safekeeping before the war, according to a final report of the investigation released yesterday ... The report, which refuted many of the administration's principal arguments for going to war in Iraq, marked the official end of a two-year weapons hunt led most recently by former U.N. weapons inspector Charles A. Duelfer. The team found that the 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent U.N. sanctions had destroyed Iraq's illicit weapons capabilities and that, for the most part, Hussein had not tried to rebuild them. Iraq's ability to produce nuclear arms, which the administration asserted was a grave and gathering threat that required an immediate military response, had "progressively decayed" since 1991. Investigators found no evidence of "concerted efforts to restart the program."
Still, the administration puts a positive spin on the report:
Administration officials have emphasized that, while the survey group uncovered no banned arms, it concluded that Hussein had not given up the goal of someday acquiring them.

Hussein "retained the intent and capability and he intended to resume full-scale WMD efforts once the U.N. sanctions were lifted," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said yesterday. "Duelfer provides plenty of rationale for why this country went to war in Iraq."

And a WPost/ABC poll on the nuclear option:
But by a 2 to 1 ratio, the public rejected easing Senate rules in a way that would make it harder for Democratic senators to prevent final action on Bush's nominees. Even many Republicans were reluctant to abandon current Senate confirmation procedures: Nearly half opposed any rule changes, joining eight in 10 Democrats and seven in 10 political independents, the poll found.
Also in the poll: declining numbers for Bush's Social Security privatization.

Posted by Eric at 03:31 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2005

Comedy Monday

"You're happy beause its Earth Day, or as President Bush calls it, Friday" Bill Maher

"In honor of Earth Day, Congress passed the Bush energy bill, which gives billions of dollars in tax breaks to the coal and oil companies and opens up Alaska for drilling. It's hard to hide the glee in the White House. Today President Bush appeared in front of one of those back drops that just said 'F--- You.'" Bill Maher

"Fox News broke the story with the stunning words 'We have a pope!' Exclamation point. ... Apparently Fox News is now officially a diocese." Jon Stewart

"The cardinals said they have to be very careful in the process of electing a new pope because the pope will be interpreting God's law for them. You know, kind of the way Republican leaders do for us in this country." Jay Leno

"Vice President Dick Cheney's reported income of $1.3 million in 2004 is nearly double that of President Bush - which is only fair, since the boss usually makes more than the employee." Jim Barach

Click down comics

Posted by Eric at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

Democrats an Opposition Party?

Sirota on the Washington Post's Unexpectedly, Capitol Hill Democrats Stand Firm and this Roll Call article on a rift between moderates and liberals (e.g. bankruptcy):

Both of these stories are positive. The first story shows that on some key issues, Democrats have been very effective. The second story shows that on other key issues where the party has fractured - bankruptcy, class-action reform, the estate tax and energy policy - progressives are finding their voice, and are increasingly willing to tell it like it is to their colleagues (big kudos to Pelosi). That's a major step forward in building the kind of durable, sturdy opposition party that will be necessary to defeat the GOP. Far from "hurting the party," these progressives are emboldening it for the long run, as they are moving Democrats back to their traditional position as defenders of middle and working class America.
Sam Rosenfeld on the Roll Call article:
It’s hard to say how pervasive or growing this rift is, since a large majority of the article concerns disagreement over the bankruptcy bill alone. On that particular score, however, it’s very hard to countenance the moderates’ argument. Can anybody make a convincing case that getting behind this bill was a requirement for red-district Democrats? That when Democrats are hobbled by a public perception of being too left-wing and out of the mainstream, the party’s opposition to legislation like this is what people are thinking about? The “personal responsibility” line the bill’s supporters tossed around worked on welfare reform because Americans hated free-loading welfare queens, and had for decades. Was there any indication that such an argument resonated on this issue?

It’s just silly to justify supporting the bankruptcy bill on public opinion or party image grounds. One can either defend it on the merits -- a tough challenge in itself -- or make a brass tacks argument that the Democrats can’t alienate the credit and banking industries completely if they want their campaigns funded. But judging from the quotes in this piece, that’s not what moderates are arguing.

It’s dispiriting to see internal party debates carried out in this way, since there are issues where moderates’ arguments for adhering to a degree of political realism are valuable. But the kind of corporate whore legislation that Republicans don’t even make a big public spectacle out of supporting surely does not fall under that category.

Posted by Eric at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

Dean vs Terry McAuliffe

Writes US News of the current and former DNC head:

Let's just state the obvious: New Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is no Terry McAuliffe . Where the flashy former Clinton fundraiser was a gregarious ringmaster accustomed to the bling-bling of the highest non-publicly elected Democratic job around, Dean is almost a seminarian in his approach to the post. And, oddly, his style seems to fit with the party's bid to build its blue-collar base--just as McAuliffe's meshed with the DNC's need to raise gobs of money and go high tech.

What's so different? McAuliffe would limo around town, dropping in at the Palm to huddle with Washington big shots. The 2004 presidential hopeful, by contrast, takes the bus or subway, buying his own $1.35 ticket. Sometimes he bums rides from staffers or walks the four blocks to the Capitol for meetings. "Please Call Me Howard" never flies first class and always carries his own bags.

Other signs of the ex-guv's modest style: He eats at his desk, stays in a cheap D.C. hotel, and likes oxford shirts and penny loafers. Affectionately dubbed a "geek" by pals, he's often glued to his cellphone and loves E-mail. "His expertise is grass roots and his lifestyle is no different," says an associate. So far, Washington likes what it sees, surprised he's not the oddball that newsies pegged him as last year. Says an aide, smiling: "They're giving him a shot."

Posted by Eric at 10:42 PM | Comments (1)

Bubble Bush?

Garance Franke-Ruta of TAPPED asks if Bush has pulled a Jake Gyllenhaal (insolated in a bubble):

The idea that Charlie Rangel -- Rangel! -- might be punished by voters in '06 for opposing Bush on Social Security is, of course, beyond ludicrous. More importantly, if Bush really thinks his "60 stops in 60 days" tour is going well, it is a worrying sign of a president so isolated by his zealous advance staffers and hyper-partisan aides from the country he's governing that he is actually being led astray. Of course, it's always possible Bush could have had some politically strategic reason for feeding Rangel this particular positive line, as opposed to making some other boosterish remark. But I'm hard pressed to think of one.

Indeed, Bush's actions on Social Security recently -- including his lack of an "exit strategy" -- have seemed increasingly inexplicable to those accustomed to viewing the White House as a ruthless and uncannily successful political machine. But once you hypothesize that he's a leader isolated from reality inside a wholly positive and supportive bubble -- a situation all politicians must guard against, but presidents more than others -- and that, in this case, it's a bubble that also distrusts and discounts objective press reports, his actions begin to make a lot more sense.

Posted by Eric at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

Katherine Harris Won't Explicitly Support Bush's SS Plan


Karl Rove stopped by Rep. Katherine Harris' office last week to talk about Social Security reform and her political future.

The Sarasota Republican has been slippery about both.

Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and senior adviser, apparently didn't convince Harris to back President Bush on private accounts. He also didn't prompt a decision on her potential Senate bid next year.

But Rove's influence on whether Harris takes on Sen. Bill Nelson in 2006 is clear.

"I'll only do this if he can help make certain I'm victorious at the end," she said, declining to discuss details of their meeting Thursday. "His input is very important to me."

Posted by Eric at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

Online Comm, Monday

LiberalOasis. The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
Rob Garver. Frist Plays It Cool: The Family Research Council kept things polite at Justice Sunday, but they still didn't make sense
movingideas. Teen Endangerment Act: Facing Abortion Alone
Cynthia Tucker. Right-wing jihad: Self-righteous minority chips away at Americans' liberty
Geov Parrish. Right result, wrong reasons: Bolton nomination is in trouble, but not for the reasons it should be
Kit Kincade. Constitution, Not Religion, Under Attack
Tristan Taormino. Fuck Abstinence: How Bush's faith-based say-no-to-sex sex education is failing our kids
PFAW. Truth Sacrificed by ‘Justice Sunday’ Speakers
DailyKos. 24 GOP Filibusters of Judical Nominees
talkleft. Frist and the Republican Myth of a Senate Standstill
Laura Rozen. White House Worried on Bolton
Center for American Progress. Ideology Matters: A Progressive View of the Judicial Confirmation Process
Tom Engelhardt. Iraq "Uptick," Superpower Downtick?
mediamatters. Limbaugh falsely suggested federal spending on environment equal to spending on defense, homeland security
Ian McEwan. Let's Talk About Climate Change: To address global warming, we must harness rationality, good science, and enlightened globalization
Michelle Goldberg. The right to impose Christianity
Bob Burnett. That Other America: Once, Republicans were the party of the upper class; Democrats represented the middle and lower class. Now, many poor voters are faith voters and the issue of moral values trumps economic concerns
Joshua Holland. In Praise of Prosperity
Ray McGovern. The War For Independence
Paul Waldman. The Right's Siege Mentality

Posted by Eric at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Monday

Paul Krugman. The Oblivious Right: President Bush and other Republican leaders honestly think that we're living in the best of times. That's because everyone they talk to says so
Star Tribune. Nuking the Filibuster
Mark Morford. Bush Lies, America Cries
SeattlePI. Energy Sources: Fueling a superior policy
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Share the wealth / The U.S. ranks low on aid to poor countries
Dave Zweifel. U.S. takes brakes off nuke arms race
LAT. DeLay's Banana Republic
Frank Rich. A High-Tech Lynching in Prime Time
Bob Herbert. The Agony of War: As a nation we can wage war, but we don't want the public to be too upset by it. Marla Ruzicka tried to change that in her quest to document the suffering of Iraqi civilians
Michael Kinsley. Influence, and Irony, for Sale

Posted by Eric at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

Marines From Iraq Sound Off About Want of Armor and Men


Posted by Eric at 02:00 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005

900,000-year-old ice!

But would science make a difference (has it ever)? Guardian:

An Italian expedition to the Antarctic has taken a sample of ice which is more than 900,000 years old and could give scientists evidence of past climate changes which would discredit global warming doubters.

The ice core, which is double the age of previous samples, will show how much carbon dioxide there was in the atmosphere during previous warm and cold phases in the climate and whether the current concentrations caused by burning fossil fuels are likely the lead to catastrophic global warming later this century.

The new core could be enough to discredit the fast diminishing band of climate sceptics, who have the ear of the Bush administration and who say that the climate has always fluctuated and man's destruction of forests and use of oil has nothing to do with the current rising temperatures and increased storminess across the world.

Posted by Eric at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

Should DeLay Actually Stay?

Here's the argument from Jonathan Alter of Newsweek:

Some Democrats aren't buying. Sure, it would be nice to have "the Hammer" around as a bogeyman for direct-mail solicitations, they say, but he should step down. They claim that his death by a thousand cuts is, as Democratic Rep. Harold Ford puts it, "a big distraction from all that we are trying to do."

Actually, that's an argument for keeping DeLay around. We should want the 109th Congress "distracted" and kept from returning to normal business for as long as possible. Anything the Democrats are "trying to do" won't get done anyway. And what the Radical Republicans are trying to do is usually bad—from cutting taxes further amid monster deficits to immunizing polluters in the energy bill (which won't do a thing, as even proponents admit, to cut gas prices), to subjecting Social Security to the whims of the stock market. It was once conservatives who thought Congress should legislate less. Now this should be the Democratic mantra: Don't do anything. Just stand there!

This will be depicted as obstructionist by the same people who once preached against activist government, but it's the only effective response to the dictatorial way that DeLay's House does business. (Yes, I know the House Democrats could be high-handed during their long years of power, too, but that doesn't excuse the current behavior.) Democrats like Ford don't care to admit that they're utterly powerless; it makes it harder to get up every day and go to work. But their amendments are almost always rejected, and they are excluded from the conference committees that resolve House-Senate differences. So for House Democrats to be "constructive" by engaging in bipartisanship is, with a few exceptions, a sucker's game.

The case for DeLay to go.

Posted by Eric at 06:25 PM | Comments (1)

Estate Tax to Hurt Charity Giving

Charities stand to lose roughly $10 billion a year if the federal estate tax is repealed permanently; still, charities are afraid of estate backlash if they lobby against the estate tax. NYTimes:

But while nonprofit groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last year lobbying Congress against imposing tougher regulations on them, on this issue they have been silent.

"I'm thinking to myself, here I am running around wrangling over boards and travel policies and whether organizations should be required to do audits and the sector is on the verge of losing something like $10 billion or $15 billion," said Diana Aviv, president of the Independent Sector, a large trade association representing charities and foundations. "Talk about misplaced priorities."

But every time Ms. Aviv opens her mouth about the matter, many of the charities she represents tell her to shut it ... The reason? No one wants to alienate the wealthy donors and board members who would benefit from a repeal.

There was a Brookings Institute event on the subject a month back, found here. One of the stories at the event: "what happened the last several years and how we went from a situation where the estate tax was little known to a situation where the estate tax was not only a red-hot issue, but repeal of the estate tax became a dominant political view."

Posted by Eric at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2005

Earth Day

Two funny items from Think Progress:



“It’s great to be back in the state of Tennessee. I’m proud to be traveling with…Lamar Alexander.” - President Bush on Earth Day, Promoting his “Clear Skies” Initiative


Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, told Senate colleagues Monday that he will not support the Bush administration’s air pollution plan - known as “Clear Skies” - because it does not “go far enough, fast enough” to solve his state’s air pollution problems. - ENS, 7/15/03

Bush’s Sustainable Energy Plan is “Bulls–t”

Hey, we didn’t say it. House Resources chair Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) did.

Yesterday, while Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) was talking up the new energy bill’s hydrogen fuel subsidies at a crowded Capitol Hill news conference, Rep. Pombo turned to House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and whispered, “This is bulls–t.” (A CNN journalist happened to be within earshot.)

Posted by Eric at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

Bush Cancels Earth Day Photo-Op

Via Cursor, we find Bush cancels a Earth Day photo-op at Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Heavy storms and high winds blocked President Bush's Earth Day plan to get his hands dirty fixing trails. He missed Great Smoky Mountains National Park but still delivered his plea for better stewardship of the environment.

Bush plugged his "Clear Skies" air pollution plan, bogged down in Congress because of Democrats' insistence that it must address global warming. He also praised the popular but polluted national park's thriving program of more than 2,000 volunteers.

"Had I been there, I would have reminded people today is ... a day in which we recommit ourselves to being good stewards of our land," he said, flanked by members of Congress and his Cabinet. "We didn't create this Earth, but we have an obligation to protect it."

Great Smoky, an appropriate choice for Bush since "Great Smoky has the worst air pollution of any national park in America":
The president's "Clear Skies" initiative means more hazy parks. The administration's Clear Skies Act eliminates a key provision of the Clean Air Act program that requires old, polluting power plants to install modern emissions controls. "Clear Skies" offers no specific alternative to clean up these older, highly polluting plants. It delays other sources of park pollution, such as older refineries, incinerators, steel mills, and pulp and paper plants, from cleaning up for 20 more years in exchange for comparatively minor air pollution reductions. It also prohibits park superintendents from commenting on permits for major new sources of air pollution that are located more than 31 miles from large parks. Virtually all of the power plant pollution that harms the Great Smoky Mountains comes from plants outside the proposed 31-mile review perimeter.

Rather than eliminating air pollution, the White House wants to shift it around from state to state. The Clear Skies Act effectively eliminates the possibility of states situated downwind of pollution sources from implementing any remedy until 2015. Additionally, the administration's recently completed Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) establishes a "cap and trade" system for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution from power plants in 28 eastern states. While CAIR would reduce some of the sulfur and nitrogen emissions that harm the Great Smoky Mountains, it will not restore park air quality to natural conditions as required by the Clean Air Act. CAIR will not protect the parks to the same degree as would requiring all major park-polluting facilities to install the "best available retrofit technologies" to reduce their emissions.

Expect the nation's parks to get more polluted in the upcoming years. According to EPA's own estimates, even after full implementation of CAIR's sulfur dioxide reductions, only one of Tennessee's six counties that now fail to meet clean air standards for sulfur-dioxide related "fine particle pollution" will be brought into compliance. Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Roane counties-all in or near Great Smoky Mountains National Park-will continue to have fine particle pollution beyond mandated levels in the Clean Air Act. Americans can expect more hazy air and obscured vistas in the Smokies and other parks for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Eric at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2005

Online Comm, Friday

Amanda Griscom Little. Dearth Day: Earth Day goings-on don't measure up to dark drama on Capitol Hill
The Nation. DeLay Must Go: The House majority leader should resign
Juan Cole. The New McCarthyism
Joel Makower. Let The Sunshine In: Think Earth Day is fast becoming a corporate marketing tool? It's a sideshow to more sophisticated shareholder activism
Steve Clemons. Bolton Deja Vu: Blackwill-Rice-Cheney Story the Same as the Bolton-Rice-Cheney Fiasco
Jeff Rickert. Green States v. White House
VillageVoice. The Wages of Sin Is Debt
Robert B. Reich. The Two Faces of Bankruptcy: Who's losing out to make it easier for corporations to escape into bankruptcy? Their employees, of course
Terence Samuel. Nothing's Doing: "Just say no" is supposed to be a losing political strategy, but Democrats might be making it work
Sierra Club. Bush Administration Publicizes Wetlands Gain while Millions of Acres Continue to Lose Protections
democracynow. Report: ExxonMobil Spends Millions Funding Global Warming Skeptics
Katrina vanden Heuvel. Sweet Environmental Victories
Test. Test
Bill Berkowitz. Paying to Play: As corporations and privateers gear up for Earth Day, environmental activist Scott Silver aims his gaze at one of the most overlooked developments in the anti-environmental arsenal -- the growing trend of privatization on America's public lands
Christian Weller. Scaremongering in Social Security
Eric Alterman. Failing Upward at CPB
Center for American Progress. Religious Groups Respond to 'Justice Sunday'

Posted by Eric at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Friday

Pete McCloskey. Earth Day, 35 Years Later: Our legacy from John Muir
Paul Krugman. Passing the Buck: Much of the health care spending of the United States is devoted to trying to get someone else to pay the bills
Julianne Malveaux. Poorer students find aid tougher to get
SFC. Green Day in the city
Patty Murray. Checks and balances worth protecting
Helen Thomas. Newt Gingrich hopes we remember only the good times
Newsday. No school left behindNo school left behind
Jonathan Chait. Mouthing the GOP's Words
Haifa Zangana. Blair made a pledge to the Iraqis once
BGlobe. Unhappy Earth Day
BGlobe. Bolton's baggage
David Barnhill. It's up to people to care for planet

Posted by Eric at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2005

Frank Luntz Explains Bush Town Hall

Crooks and Liars with the Daily Show clip featuring the GOP's top words man.

Posted by Eric at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

Republicans: We're Losing on Filibuster

That according to info obtained by the DC-based The Hill:

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a leading advocate of the “nuclear option” to end the Democrats’ filibuster of judicial nominees, is privately arguing for a delay in the face of adverse internal party polls.
Details of the polling numbers remain under wraps, but Santorum and other Senate sources concede that, while a majority of Americans oppose the filibuster, the figures show that most also accept the Democratic message that Republicans are trying to destroy the tradition of debate in the Senate.

The Republicans are keeping the “nuclear” poll numbers secret, whereas they have often in the past been keen to release internal survey results that favor the party ... But GOP aides said Santorum has made known to the leadership reasons for why Republicans should not move forward on the nuclear or constitutional option.

“He was concerned that too many things are competing in the same area and you couldn’t get a clean shot at it,” a GOP aide said. The aide cited the “fallout” from congressional Republicans’ intervening in a Florida court’s decision to remove Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube and the subsequent controversy caused by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R-Texas) statement that “the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.”

Posted by Eric at 03:22 PM | Comments (1)

Online Comm, Thursday

CBPP. Corporate Profits Continue To Receive Record Share Of Gains From Recovery, While Workers' Share Lags Far Behind
thinkprogress. An Education In Common Sense
xoverboard. Open letter; Re: John Cloud's response to my statement on Coulter Piece
Eric Alterman. John Cloud doesn’t like me
TalkLeft. New Pope Ordered Kerry Be Denied Communion
James Ridgeway. The Silencing of Sibel Edmonds: Court won't let public hear what FBI whistleblower has to say
mediamatters. Coulter claimed "elongated funhouse photo" of her on cover of Time proves media's liberal bias
democracynow. Should U.S. Troops Withdraw Now From Iraq? A Debate Between Naomi Klein & Erik Gustafson
EDM. Cookie-Jar Republicans Give Dems Edge
Campaign for America’s Future. Massive Political Contributions Corrupt Energy Policy
Sidney Blumenthal. Holy warriors: Cardinal Ratzinger handed Bush the presidency by tipping the Catholic vote. Can American democracy survive their shared medieval vision?
John Prados. Boltonized Intelligence
Jonathan Tasini. Wal-Mart's Free Market Fallacy
Arianna Huffington. Nailing the Hammer?
David Corn. A Democratic Dishonor Roll
Michael Shellenberger. Marla's Law: Now is the time to realize Marla Ruzicka's goals of tracking and understanding civilian casualties
Jamison Foser. Swiftboating Hillary
Kelly Hearn. The New Schism
Test. Test
Elizabeth Kolbert. A Planetary Problem
Helen Epstein. God and the Fight Against AIDS
Geov Parrish. Tom DeLay and one-party rule
Molly Ivins. The abysmal ambassador: Bolton's temper would threaten U.S. reputation around the world

Posted by Eric at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

The Counter-Enviro Power List

Who's leading the fight against the environment, and why?

Outside magazine with the 'power' list.

Posted by Eric at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Thursd

Richard Cohen. A Pope for Better or Perhaps Worse
Bob Herbert. For Marla, No Sacrifice Too Great
StarTrib. Bolton's bullying/He needs to go away
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Schiavo file / Those wild tales of abuse were only that
Seattle PI. Environment: Celebrate, and protest
Newsday. DeLay: It's his own fault
Judy Ettenhofer. Conserving natural species is paramount task
LAT. Eroding the Death Penalty
Charles E. Curran. A Catholic Call for Dissent
LAT. As a Protest, What a Bust
Guardian. US economy - From bad to worse
Ellen Goodman. The trashing of Hillary

Posted by Eric at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Kerry

More Americans see the economy as getting worse, and Washington with little ideas or plans to do anything about it; from the Washington Post front page:

"Pretty much all round, March now looks like a lousy month for the U.S. economy," J.P. Morgan Chase economists warned clients this week.

The Washington Post/ABC News Consumer Comfort Index, released Tuesday, climbed two points from last week's 2005 low, but it is still down seven points over the past month. Nearly half of those polled this month say the economy is getting worse, the most negative rating in two years of monthly polls.

"People feel vulnerable and besieged," said Lawrence Mishel, president of the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute, "and they don't hear anybody talking about it."

Yet the only economic bills signed into law this year have tilted against the little guy: Legislation that restricts class-action lawsuits, and a major rewrite of the nation's bankruptcy laws, signed yesterday, that will make it harder for debt-ridden Americans to wipe out their obligations.

One Republican warns his party may feel an effect from this in 2006:
"There is a lot of frustration," said Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R) on Tuesday, as he was returning from his district in western Michigan. Republican leaders "need some seats from the Midwest and Northeast to maintain a majority, and if we continue at the rate we're going, we may well lose a few seats."

Posted by Eric at 02:45 AM | Comments (1)

Brian C. Anderson: Lying Liar

Incredible amount of lies, and distortions in this op-ed piece by Brian C. Anderson on Air America Radio which is being passed around a lot by people who don't know what they're talking about. Here's the rebuttal from John Quinlan, a station manager for an AAR station:

Re: "Why The Liberals Can't Keep Air America From Spiraling In" by Brian C. Anderson April 18: Mr. Anderson's negative rant sounded like every other conservative commentator or radio talk show host. That is, reckless manipulation of facts and a large dose of truth stretching.

First, it is not fair to compare conservative pundit Bill Bennett's talk show's success with that of Air America. There are several hundred conservative talk stations across the United States and for Bennett, an established name in conservative circles, to land on 124 of them, is not that big a deal. In order for Air America programming to be heard on any radio station, that station must first take the significant step of changing its format. Stations have switched from all-Caribbean formats (WLIB in NY) or all-sports (KTLK in LA) or nostalgia (KQKE in SF) in order to carry the Air America programming.

Getting more than 50 radio stations to change everything they broadcast, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the opportunity to carry Air America's programming is far more substantial an accomplishment than getting 124 right-wing radio stations to switch out one three-hour conservative talk show for another.

Anderson goes on to write, "In the liberal meccas of San Francisco and Los Angeles, Air America is doing lousier still." This statement is false. The truth is, in San Francisco KQKE AM has only been on the air six months and has shown steady increases in a market with the some of the strongest talk radio competition. In Los Angeles KTLK AM has not even been on the air for a full ratings period, thus making the "lousy" claim just a bit premature.

While Mr. Anderson used certain markets selectively in an attempt to support his point, he neglected to mention several cities where the format has shown great success: Portland's KPOJ AM had growth of 1000% in audience share, in conservative San Diego KLSD AM went up 73% and Denver's KKZN AM was up 300% all in the first full ratings periods. Other markets with similar success include: Boston, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Sacramento and Columbus.

For more than a year Air America has endured right-wingers predicting that the format will fail. The truth is, like it or not, Air America and Progressive Talk radio are here, they are flourishing and this is only the beginning.

Posted by Eric at 12:28 AM | Comments (2)

It's Not All for Show?

About the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's turn of events, where Voinovich helped postpone the vote:

"I don't know if I've ever seen, in a setting like this, a senator changing his mind as a result of what other senators said," Mr. Chafee said. "The process worked. It's kind of refreshing."
Chafee update:
Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R-R.I.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee that is weighing the nomination, "is less likely right now" to vote to confirm Bolton, his spokesman Stephen Hourahan said in an interview. The senator, he said, "wants to get to the bottom" of new allegations about Bolton's dealings with subordinates and classified information. Until Tuesday, when committee Democrats attacked Bolton's record and won a three-week extension to investigate it, Chafee repeatedly had said he was reluctantly inclined to vote for Bolton.

Posted by Eric at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2005

Poll: Santorum in Trouble

Now 14-point lead!

Democrat Robert P. Casey Jr. holds a 14-percentage-point lead over Republican Sen. Rick Santorum in the 2006 campaign for Santorum's seat, according to an independent poll released today.

Casey, Pennsylvania's state treasurer, was favored by 49 percent of the respondents in the Quinnipiac University poll, compared to 35 percent for Santorum. Thirteen percent were undecided.

The widening of Casey's lead, from 46-41 percent in a Quinnipiac survey in February, comes on the heels of Santorum's high-profile advocacy of President Bush's Social Security overhaul plan.

Posted by Eric at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

Online Comm

David Brock. Media Matters answers Murdoch challenge to show Fox bias
Suzanne Nossel. Bolting from Bolton?
James Ridgeway. The GOP's Fright Wing: DeLay and Frist light the torches for a crusade against 'activist' judges
Geoff Earle. Swing Conservative: The perilous bipartisanship of Lindsey Graham
Mark Schmitt. Is There A "Constitution in Exile" Movement?
Matthew Yglesias. The Bugman's Swarm
Adele M. Stan. Benedict's Edicts - If you think the Catholic Church is socially dictatorial now, wait until Cardinal Ratzinger is in charge
thinkprogress. President Harry Potter
CatholicsAgainstCapPunishment. New Pope Benedict XVI was instrumental in revising Catholic Church teachings on death penalty
MyDD. Are electoral blowouts still possible?
Navin Nayak. The Do-Nothing Energy Bill
Frank O'Donnell. Polluter-Friendly Energy
Steve Clemons. White House Wants to Battle On Advocating Bolton
Joe Conason. 'Frist and his allies use piety for profit'
Brian Dolber. Media Fair and Balanced!(?)
Joshua Holland. Habemus Papum, eh?
Salon. "The church will continue to suffer"
Brooke Lierman. Benedict XVI's Challenge
Lakshmi Chaudhry. The Girl Blogger from Iraq
movingideas. The Energy Bill: Pro-Industry, Anti-Environment

Posted by Eric at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

Hybrids to Pay More Gas Tax?

Ugh, long live the SUV: U.S. to study tariffs on miles driven, not gallons purchased.

Posted by Eric at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

Obstructionist Rice?


Posted by Eric at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

Happy 420

Anything working? Allen St. Pierre:

* The enforcement of state and local marijuana laws annually costs US taxpayers an estimated $7.6 billion, approximately $10,400 per arrest. Of this total, annual police costs are $3.7 billion, judicial/legal costs are $853 million, and correctional costs are $3.1 billion. In both California and New York, state fiscal costs dedicated to marijuana law enforcement annually total over $1 billion.

* Marijuana possession and sales arrests disproportionately impact black adults. African Americans are among the demographic groups most adversely impacted by marijuana law enforcement. While adult African Americans account for only 8.8% of the US population and 11.9% of annual marijuana users, they comprise 23% of all marijuana possession arrests in the United States.

* Marijuana possession and sales arrests disproportionately impact younger Americans. One out of every four marijuana possession arrests in the United States involves a person age 18 or younger. Seventy-four percent of all US marijuana possession arrests are for people under the age of 30. Marijuana users who are white, over 30 years old, and/or female are disproportionately unaffected by marijuana possession arrests ... Marijuana prohibition fails to produce intended results. Total US marijuana arrests increased 165% during the 1990s, from 287,850 in 1991 to 755,000 in 2003. However, these increased arrest rates have not been associated with a reduction in marijuana use, reduced marijuana availability, a reduction in the number of new marijuana users, reduced treatment admissions, reduced emergency room mentions of marijuana, any reduction in marijuana potency, or any increases in the price of marijuana.

Here's Radley Balko of CATO:
Today, federal and state governments spend between $40 and $60 billion per year to fight the war on drugs, about ten times the amount spent in 1980 -- and billions more to keep drug felons in jail. The U.S. now has more than 318,000 people behind bars for drug-related offenses, more than the total prison populations of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain combined.

Our prison population has increased by 400 percent since 1980, while the general population has increased just 20 percent. America also now has the highest incarceration rate in the world -- 732 of every 100,000 citizens are behind bars.

So are we winning (and would anyone say we're winning with a straight face?)
Even by the government's own standards for success, the answer is unquestionably "no." The illicit drug trade is estimated to be worth $50 billion today ($400 billion worldwide), up from $1 billion 25 years ago. Annual surveys of high school seniors show heroin and marijuana are as available today as they were in 1975. Deaths from drug overdoses have doubled in the last 20 years.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the price of of a gram of heroin has dropped by about 38 percent since 1981, while the purity of that gram has increased six-fold. The price of cocaine has dropped by 50 percent, while its purity has increased by 70 percent. Just recently, the ONDCP waged a public relations campaign against increasingly pure forms of marijuana coming in from Canada.

So despite all of the money we've spent and people we've imprisoned, despite the damage done to our cities and the integrity of our criminal justice system, despite the restrictions we've allowed on our civil liberties, despite the innocent lives lost and the needless suffering we've imposed on sick people and their doctors -- despite all of this -- the drug trade isn't just thriving, it's growing. Illicit drugs are cheaper, more abundant, and of purer concentration than ever before.

FYI, the background of 420.

Posted by Eric at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Wed

James Carville and Paul Begala. Democrats must change everything
SFC. Playing the religion card
SFC. A new pope's old message
CapTimes. Vatican's enforcer
LAT. Bolton Should Step Aside
E. J. Dionne Jr. Tests for an Unbending Pope . . .
Harold Meyerson. Remember the Raise?
Andrew Brown. The last pope from Europe: The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI looks very much like the continuation of John Paul II's papacy by other means
Robert Kuttner. An economy going nowhere
Derrick Z. Jackson. The Catholic Church steps backwards

Posted by Eric at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

The Unregulated Offense

A worthwhile read by Jeff Rosen, a George Washington University professor, on the Constitution in Exile movement, which wants to push back the federal government to 1937, when "Social Security, job-safety laws and environmental protections were unconstitutional." Some adherent may soon be heading to a court near you. Flipping to the end:

Advocates of the movement are entirely sincere in their belief that the regulatory state is unconstitutional as well as immoral and that a principled reading of the Constitution requires vigorous enforcement of fundamental limits on state power. Nevertheless, it is a troubling paradox that conservatives, who continue to denounce liberals for using courts to thwart the will of the people in cases involving abortion and gay marriage, now appear to be succumbing to precisely the same temptation. If the lessons of the past 60 years teach us anything, when judges try to short-circuit intensely contested democratic debates, from the New Deal cases to Roe v. Wade, they may provoke a fierce political backlash that sets back the movement they are trying to advance. In this sense, even if the Constitution in Exile movement manages to transform the courts before it has transformed the country, it may find that it has won less than it hoped.

Posted by Eric at 01:31 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

ANWR Overseas?

ANWR oil, supposed to 'help' only the US supplies, might go somewhere else; Seattle Times:

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens stood on the floor of the Senate a month ago and urged his colleagues to support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Do it to boost our domestic oil supplies, he said. Do it to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

What Stevens did not mention was this: Alaskan oil could wind up being sold overseas.

The Senate vote, which gave Stevens a 51-49 victory, makes no promise the oil pumped from the wildlife refuge (ANWR) has to be sold to domestic refineries.

Some pro-drilling forces say a final bill could ban refuge oil from going overseas, a restriction contained in an energy bill now before the House that would open ANWR to oil exploration. Such a ban, however, wouldn't apply to other Alaskan oil. And a similar pledge was reversed in the past.

Posted by Eric at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

Online Comm, Tuesd

Chris Mooney. Some Like It Hot: Forty public policy groups have this in common: They seek to undermine the scientific consensus that humans are causing the earth to overheat. And they all get money from ExxonMobil
Judith Lewis. Citizen Forester: Andy Lipkis speaks for the trees. Now he wants to solve our water problems too
Tom Cosgrove. The Party of New Ideas
Michael Tomasky. No Laughing Matter DeLay and Co. are doing their best to undermine the principles of democracy. No joke
Paul Starr. The Price of a Free Society
Chris Mooney. A Cherry-Picking Accident: Senator Inhofe should be more careful in deciding which scientific reports to misrepresent
Robert Parry. John Bolton & the Battle for Reality
ProgressReport. Bolton: The Wrong Choice
Katrina vanden Heuvel. Bush's iPod: Take Two
Stewart Nusbaumer. Is the House of Bush Collapsing?
mediamatters. Waging war on Equal Pay Day: Limbaugh distorted wage gap between men and women
William J. Kole. Cardinal Ratzinger named new pope
Tim Grieve. Life of the Party: Brian Schweitzer, the blue governor of the red state of Montana, may just have the answer to the Democrats' woes
Robert Dreyfuss. Iraq's Catch-22
Timothy Karr. Is Low-Cost Wi-Fi Un-American?
Molly Ivins. Manners, by Tom DeLay
Sydney H. Schanberg. A Time for Disobedience: Faced with Bush's lockdown on information, reporters have to stand up
thinkprogress. DeLay Memo: Abramoff Conspicuously Absent

Posted by Eric at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

Alterman on Coulter

From Altercation:

This is a profoundly depressing realization as its managing editor Jim Kelly is a friend of mine and I respect both his intelligence and integrity and to be perfectly honest, I cannot find a way to reconcile my high opinion of Jim and the journalism he has produced, together with my respect for many of the professional reporters and editors at Time, with this moral, professional, and intellectual abomination. The fact that the system could produce a story like this one—one that was in the pipeline for months and had plenty of opportunities to be both fact-checked and reconsidered--is a moral and intellectual scandal and a permanent stain on the reputations of everyone associated with it, most particularly its author, John Cloud. Like New York Observer’s George Gurley, Cloud has accepted the role of an unpaid PR flack for a woman who frequently jokes about the mass-murder of journalists—including presumably, himself--and he professes to find this charming. And let us pause for a moment to note that today is the anniversary of the day that Timothy McVeigh did his horrid deed—the mass murder of men, women and children. Ms. Coulter and the moron, Gurley, thought it was so cute to joke about wishing he had accomplished at The New York Times. (I suppose it’s too much to worry about her calling for the mass murder of Arabs.) With the resources of Time’s legions of researchers and fact-checkers, he relies on a casual Google search to determine that she can be “occasionally coarse” and that her work is “mostly accurate.” I spoke to one of those researchers and I’m quoted in the article. But more to the point, I pointed the researcher in the direction of many easily available sources that easily undermine Cloud’s lazy and credulous reporting. The entire package is a statement of contempt for the values for which Time professes to stand; another notch in the belt for the far-right’s forty-year campaign to destroy journalists’ role in assuring democratic accountability in our society.
Also this noted from Alterman: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

--Ann Coulter as quoted in the New York Observer, Aug. 20, 2002

"RE: McVeigh quote. Of course I regret it. I should have added, 'after everyone had left the building except the editors and reporters.'"

--Ann Coulter, from an interview with Right Wing News

Posted by Eric at 12:55 PM | Comments (1)

Paper Comm, Tuesday

Marla Ruzicka. Aid worker's words — just a week before she was killed
USAT. An advocate for Iraqis falls. Will U.S. take up her cause?
Adam Cohen. Psst ... Justice Scalia ... You Know, You're an Activist Judge, Too
NYT. The Missing Energy Strategy
SFC. One planet, many heroes
SFC. Iraq's civilian tragedies
Michael Hennessey. Health-positive bill for prisoners (and those who love them)
Robert Fisk. Wanted: Great world leaders
Newsday. GOPers already pervade courts
CapTimes. GOP must drop DeLay
Roberto Rodriguez & Patrisia Gonzales. Remember lessons that Chavez taught about humanity, workers
Richard Cohen. Faith-Based Pandering
E. J. Dionne Jr. Cardinal Ratzinger's Challenge
Robert Scheer. GOP Gays and the 'Finkelstein Phenomenon'
Simon Tisdall. Japan emerges as America's deputy: Escalating tension with China is increasing pressure on Tokyo to expand its military capabilities and back a deepening strategic alliance with the US
Joseph Stiglitz. No free lunches for pensioners: Bush's deceptive plans for the US social security system show why privatisation is not the answer to the global pensions crisis.
Michael Sookochoff. Extreme world poverty can be halved in this generation
Jesse Jackson. GOP grandstanding on judges

Posted by Eric at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

Ted Nugent: Chicken Hawk

Via MaxSpeak, this flashback from tough-guy, carry-a-big-gun, Ted Nugent:

"He claims that 30 days before his draft board physical, he stopped all forms of personal hygiene. The last 10 days, he ingested nothing but Vienna sausages and Pepsi; and a week before his physical, he stopped using bathrooms altogether, virtually living inside pants caked with his own excrement, stained by his urine. That spectacle won Nugent a deferment, he says. ‘... but if I would have gone over there, I'd have been killed, or I'd have killed, or I'd killed all the hippies in the foxholes...I would have killed everybody.’"

Posted by Eric at 02:32 AM | Comments (4)

April 18, 2005

Online Comm, Monday

Bill McKibben. Climate of Denial
democracyarsenal. Weekly Top 10 List: Top 10 Topics That Belong on Progressives' Homework Assignment
David Sirota. Bush: Bad Data Means Stop Publishing
Kara Platoni. American Nightmare: They fear their husbands, but fear deportation more, leaving abused immigrant women with little hope
Eric Berndt. Debriefing Scalia
Jon Alter. A Bankrupt Way To Do Business
Katharine Mieszkowski. Mercury rising: Millions of fetuses whose mothers eat fish are being exposed to brain-damaging mercury. But critics charge the Bush administration's regulations are like bailing the ocean with a thimble
Phillip Robertson. Marla Ruzicka, RIP - While others argued, Marla acted. She gave her young life to help the innocent victims of the Iraq war. At 28, she represented the best of America
Steve Clemons. Reading Between the Lines in John Bolton's War with INR: Dangerous Obsession with Developing Stand Alone Intelligence Capacity
Thom Hartmann. How Rich is Too Rich For Democracy?
Brian McKenna. Dow Chemical Buys Silence in Michigan
Matthew Rothschild. Rice Erases Terror Scoreboard
mediamatters. Kristol falsely claimed Democrats oppose all of Bush's conservative judicial nominees
mediamatters. Even after Time's cover story, you still don't know "the real Ann Coulter"

Posted by Eric at 06:51 PM | Comments (1)

TIME Magazine' Coulter

When I read this paragraph in the TIME magazine profile of Ann Coulter, I could barely believe what I was reading - this isn't The Weekly Standard, some free weekly or even Entertainment Weekly. This is supposed to be TIME magazine:

Coulter has a reputation for carelessness with facts, and if you Google the words “Ann Coulter lies,” you will drown in results. But I didn’t find many outright Coulter errors.
Can I get a WTF.

This is a good site on Coulter's Slander. Just on Slander, a wealth of mistakes, errors, and lies.

Media Matters with more.

Posted by Eric at 06:13 PM | Comments (0)

He Knows What's Important

From the Progress Report:

"I blanked on who catches for the Phillies. I asked [Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig]. He didn't know. The president said, '[Mike] Lieberthal.' ... [President Bush is] so up on the game that it's astounding."
-- Washington Nationals President Tony Tavares on President Bush's knowledge of baseball, 4/18/05


"When I first read that in the newspaper about the need to have passports, I said, 'What's going on here?'"
-- President Bush on his knowledge of White House-approved immigration policies, 4/18/05

Posted by Eric at 12:58 PM | Comments (1)

What Liberal Media?

Look at this from conservative World Net Daily:

Coulter told Matt Drudge last night Time used a more flattering photo of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il.

While the story itself, written by Time's John Cloud, is generally quite favorable, Coulter and her fans are focused on the strange cover photo that seems to distort the image of the tall, thin, blond pundit.

It appears the liberal media wrote such a positive story about Ann, the only thing she could complain about this time was the photograph. Poor her.

Posted by Eric at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Monday

Frank Rich. Get Tom DeLay to the Church on Time
Michael McGough. Royals, Gays and the Double Standard
VMStar. Allow Patriot Act sections to expire
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Energy jolt / Develop, don't conserve, is the Bush mantra
Joe Hansen. Walmart: More villain than victim
USAT. DeLay dust-up draws venom, but where's scrutiny?
Naomi Klein. Allure of the blank slate
SeattlePI. USA Patriot Act: Restoring liberty
Paul Krugman. A Whiff of Stagflation
Bob Herbert. A Radical in the White House
Joshua M. Greene. U.S. ignores laws at its moral peril
Test. Test
Joel McNally. Taser use no alternative to intelligent police work

Posted by Eric at 04:56 AM | Comments (1)

Comedy Monday

"It was reported that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay took several ethically questionable golf trips paid for by foreign lobbyists, and that his wife and daughter were paid $500,000 from his own political action committee. DeLay referred to the allegations as 'just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me with my own actions, words and illegal doings.'" Tina Fey

"Friends say that each day President Bush spends two hours playing video games. Now let's think about this -- there's a war in Iraq, gas prices have never been higher and what is he working on? Getting Spiderman to the third level. ...Yeah George loves video games. His favorite? Grand Theft Election." David Letterman

"They claim now that President Bush spends two hours a day playing video games. Here's the good news -- that's two hours less than he spends being president." David Letterman

"Down in Washington D.C. the feds jumped a guy who was behaving suspiciously and carrying two large suitcases. Turns out it kind of had a funny ending: he's not a terrorist and the suitcases were full of cash for Tom Delay." David Letterman

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned Iraq's new leaders against hiring their friends and family members for government jobs, and then Majority Leader Tom Delay gave the rebuttal." Jay Leno

"Forty members of Congress also went to the funeral. They said it was great to be out of Washington and to get a break from all that prayer and Bible quoting." Bill Maher

"The folks in Washington are very excited to have a baseball team. Even ex-junky mayor Marion Barry said 'buy me some peanuts and crack.'" Craig Ferguson

Click down comics

Posted by Eric at 02:57 AM | Comments (0)

Clark in '08?

Whether or not he runs for something in 2006 (e.g. an Arkansas seat) may indicate his intentions in 2008, but if this is any indication, he's going to run. The Clark campaign was the first major campaign I worked on, so I'd likely support him. Here's video.

Here's what I said when Clark dropped out. As Jeralyn mentioned on Talk Left, he has favorable positions on domestic issues that matter to the grassroots. Further, he appeals to those beyond the Democratic base. I don't feel like talking up a candidate too much since 2008 is far away, but the response I got when pushing Clark to moderates and conservatives in New Hampshire, and other places, was very strong. Because of his non-partisan background, and media skills (CNN commentator days), Clark can pull voters from across the aisle, and bolster Democrats on national security.

Posted by Eric at 02:34 AM | Comments (0)

What Liberal Judiciary?

From the LATimes, "Judges Battle Transcends Numbers: Republicans already rule most federal courts. The issue is how far right the GOP can take them." Quote:

Ninety-four of the 162 active judges now on the U.S. Court of Appeals were chosen by Republican presidents. On 10 of the 13 circuit courts, Republican appointees have a clear majority. And, since 1976, at least seven of the nine seats on the U.S. Supreme Court have been filled by Republican appointees.

Even if Bush wins approval for the dozen disputed nominees who have been blocked by Senate Democrats, only one circuit would change its ideological balance — hardly a seismic shift. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, now evenly divided, would become 10-6 Republican ... The fight may have more to do with the kind of Republican who joins the courts, in particular the Supreme Court. While Democrats are determined to block judicial nominees they see as conservative ideologues, the Republican leadership pushes for right-leaning judges.

Posted by Eric at 02:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2005

TIME: Communists for Kerry Protests Coulter!

Uhh ... isn't a real liberal protest group, TIME Magazine. See Skippy for details.

Posted by Eric at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

Happy Anniversary to Atrios

Who is 3 today. And yes, I take some pride in knowing that I was one of the first to link to him. At the time, I accidentally put his full name as the blog name instead of 'Eschaton.' He emailed me back saying he'd prefer to be anonymous and I eventually forgot his real name. Imagine - if I had remembered the name years later, it woulda been worth millions. Millions!

Posted by Eric at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2005

Buy Me This

Image hosted by

I need a new Pac Man hat.

So does this guy;

Image hosted by

Posted by Eric at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)

Change to Clean Air Act in Works

Another day, another industry-written provision in a House bill that blatantly favors polluters at the expense of taxpayers.

Under the new provision, the "downwind" states would not be required to meet clean air standards until the "upwind" states that were contributing to the problem had done so. Currently, states can get more time but only if they agree to added cleanup measures.

Proponents of the measure in Congress, as well as a spectrum of industry groups, say that the change would give state and local governments the flexibility and discretion they urgently need to deal with air pollution from distant sources. Otherwise, they would have to impose much stricter limits on pollution from local sources, including power plants, factories and automobiles.

But House members who fought against the measure, and other opponents, say flexibility and discretion are just other words for delay, saving money for industry and posing risks for millions of people living where the air does not meet health-based standards.

Opponents also say that the new provision would undermine a muscular rule announced last month by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Interstate Rule, which sets new power-plant emissions for three major pollutants for the eastern half of the United States. One of those pollutants, nitrogen oxide, is cooked by sunlight into ozone, or smog.

Posted by Eric at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2005

Online Comm, Friday

Bill Berkowitz. Tapping Karen Hughes
Fletcher Farrar. Nuclear Power: Time to speak out against Clinton II
Andisheh Nouraee. Why is the U.S. selling F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan?
Matt Smiwth. The 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Public Relations
Luke O'Brien. Asymmetric Warfare: The Game
EPI. Government loses when taxes go unpaid
democracynow. Debt Slavery? Congress Approves Bush's Bankruptcy Bill
Reggie Rivers. Sharing the Tax Burden
mediamatters. Hume vs. Gibson on the "exposing" of CIA officer
mediamatters. It's not just the "liberal media": Papers that endorsed Bush weigh in on DeLay
Chuck Collins. The Coming Senate Showdown over Estate Tax Reform
Byron Williams. The true meaning of a fundamentalist Christian
Scott Klinger. Your Risk, Their Gain
Rep. John Conyers. Scapegoating Immigrants
Max B. Sawicky. The Late, Great Income Tax
Jason Vest. Wanted: Complete Asshole for U.N. Ambassador
Katrina vanden Heuvel. Sweet Victory: Maryland Stands Up To Wal-Mart
Laura Hershey. Killed by Prejudice: Terri Schiavo's life and death raise issues of acceptance, equity and rights
Lisa Lambert. GodAssault: Morality as the Ultimate Game
Jared Bernstein. Tax and Interdepend: We all hate paying taxes, but it doesn't have to be this way
James Wolcott. On Some Sad Laps, No Heads Bob

Posted by Eric at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

Poor Families and State Income Taxes

A report released earlier this week from the CBPP documents the problems poor families - many near or below the federal poverty line - face with state income taxes:

16 states, poor single-parent families of three pay income taxes. In addition, 31 of the 42 states with an income tax still tax families with incomes just above the poverty line, even though such families typically have difficulty making ends meet.

In some states, families with poverty-level incomes face income tax bills of several hundred dollars. For example, a two-parent family of four in Alabama with income of $19,311 — the 2004 poverty line for a family that size — owes $513 in income tax, while such a family in Hawaii owes $434 and in Arkansas $403. Such amounts can make a big difference to a struggling family. Other states levying tax of $200 or more on families with poverty-level incomes include Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, Virginia, and West Virginia.

There was no improvement in the taxation of poor families in 2004. Yet some states have enacted changes that will lessen the taxation of the poor in future years. Kentucky, which for 2004 levied the highest tax on a family of four at the poverty level ($652), enacted a low-income credit that, beginning in 2005, will shield poor families from paying income tax.[2] Virginia — with the fourth highest 2004 tax on poverty-level families — enacted a 20 percent non-refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit that will take effect in 2006. In a few states, the income taxes on poor families have increased over the last decade.

What's the problem with these taxes?
Taxing the incomes of working-poor families runs counter to the efforts by policymakers across the political spectrum to provide more assistance to families seeking to work their way out of poverty. Many states reduced income taxes on the poor in the 1990s, and a majority of states now exempt poor families from the income tax. The federal government has exempted such families since the mid-1980s.

Eliminating all or most state income taxes on working families with poverty-level incomes gives a boost in take-home pay that helps offset higher child care and transportation costs that families incur as they strive to become economically self-sufficient. In other words, relieving state income taxes on poor families is making a meaningful contribution toward "making work pay." A dozen states go even further; they not only exempt poor families from income taxation, but also provide a tax rebate that can help such families meet their expenses.

Posted by Eric at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

Bush's Science and Technology Failure

The United States is falling behind in broadband Internet usage, and the Bush administration has done a terrible job pushing initiatives to develop science and technology. Two of note: Thomas Friedman in a NY Times oped today, "tax cuts can't solve every problem. This administration - which often seems more interested in indulging creationism than spurring creativity - is doing a very poor job of preparing the country for that next level." One example of Bush's failure is "broadband and the latest mobile-phone technology." And this from Thomas Bleha in Foreign Affairs:

In the first three years of the Bush administration, the United States dropped from 4th to 13th place in global rankings of broadband Internet usage. Today, most U.S. homes can access only "basic" broadband, among the slowest, most expensive, and least reliable in the developed world, and the United States has fallen even further behind in mobile-phone-based Internet access. The lag is arguably the result of the Bush administration's failure to make a priority of developing these networks. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized state without an explicit national policy for promoting broadband.

It did not have to be this way. Until recently, the United States led the world in Internet development. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency conceived of and then funded the Internet. In the 1980s, the National Science Foundation partially underwrote the university and college networks -- and the high-speed lines supporting them -- that extended the Internet across the nation. After the World Wide Web and mouse-driven browsers were developed in the early 1990s, the Internet was ready to take off. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore showed the way by promoting the Internet's commercialization, the National Infrastructure Initiative, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and remarkable e-commerce, e-government, and e-education programs. The private sector did the work, but the government offered a clear vision and strong leadership that created a competitive playing field for early broadband providers. Even though these policies had their share of detractors -- who claimed that excessive hype was used to sell wasteful projects and even blamed the Clinton administration for the dot-com bust -- they kept the United States in the forefront of Internet innovation and deployment through the 1990s.

Things changed when the Bush administration took over in 2001 and set new priorities for the country: tax cuts, missile defense, and, months later, the war on terrorism. In the administration's first three years, President George W. Bush mentioned broadband just twice and only in passing. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) showed little interest in opening home telephone lines to outside competitors to drive down broadband prices and increase demand.

Oh, what could have been with Al Gore, a man who understands technology.

Posted by Eric at 11:59 AM | Comments (2)

Guess the Speaker

Who could this speaker be?

Now, the House needs new management, and that is [my edit] management. In my opinion, it will not do any good to get rid of the present Speaker or the present leadership, because what will happen is more will come in and it is the arrogance of power that we are talking about here. What is going on here is arrogance of power. We need a change in management...

The [ ] could offer us another candidate, but it just will not change the system. Only when the public and [ ] pressure becomes so great does the [ ] leadership act. We need new leadership which will act because it is right, not because they have been caught in coverups and scandals ... Mr. Speaker, I just am saddened by these kinds of issues. I believe very deeply in this institution, and I would hope that others do, too, and understand that, No. 1, the Justice Department is another branch of our Government, that we are empowered and mandated to clean our own house. Yet some in this body do not seem to understand that and would rather see mud thrown at this institution than to get to the bottom of problems in this institution.

For the answer, go here.

And for something completely unrelated, NYT: 10 Ex-G.O.P. Lawmakers Attack Changes in Ethics Rules

Posted by Eric at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

Hannity Preps Guests Against Colmes

How should guests respond to Alan Colmes? Take advice from Coach Sean Hannity, according to this item from Lloyd Grove in the NYDN:

Between commercials, according to an off-air audiotape obtained by investigative comedian Harry Shearer for last Sunday's episode of his weekly radio program, "Le Show," Hannity coached the women on exactly how to respond when liberal co-host Alan Colmes cross-examined them.

"Just say, 'I'm here to tell what I saw,'" Hannity can be heard instructing his guests. "No matter what the question, 'I'm here to tell you what I saw. I'm here to tell you what I saw.'"

Hannity adds helpfully: "Say, 'I'm not going to be distracted by silliness.' How's that? Does that help you? Look into that camera. Look at me when I'm talking."

On the air, Iyer performs beautifully. "I don't have any opinions or judgments. I was there," she declares

After the segment ends, Hannity gushes off the air to the nurses: "We got the points out. It's hard, this isn't easy. But you did great, both of you. Thank you, guys. Those nurses are powerful, aren't they?"

On his radio show, Shearer injected: "Yeah, especially when they do what you tell 'em to do. Very powerful when they follow instructions from the host!"

A Fox News flack didn't respond to Lowdown's detailed message yesterday.

Posted by Eric at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

Frist Ad: Democrats Anti Religion

Family Research Council ads are in response to judicial nominations; NYT:

As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees.

Fliers for the telecast, organized by the Family Research Council and scheduled to originate at a Kentucky megachurch the evening of April 24, call the day "Justice Sunday" and depict a young man holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other. The flier does not name participants, but under the heading "the filibuster against people of faith," it reads: "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."

Organizers say they hope to reach more than a million people by distributing the telecast to churches around the country, over the Internet and over Christian television and radio networks and stations.

JMM with more:
I don't know which is more amusing -- the wingnut jihad against a federal judiciary that is already predominantly Republican or the fact that the intellectual and often literal descendents of the upholders of Jim Crow now seek to enlist the dark legacy of segregation as some sort of arrow in their rhetorical quiver.

Actually, perhaps it's even more amusing that the same folks spent the 1990s using the same methods to thwart numerous Clinton judicial appointments.

Posted by Eric at 09:08 AM | Comments (1)

Paper Comm, Friday

Paul Krugman. The Medical Money Pit
SeattlePI. Teach For America: Top grads give back
NYT. Long Live the Estate Tax
E. J. Dionne Jr. Tom DeLay And the Wright Stuff
WisconSJ. DeLay should face investigation
John Nichols. Bolton worked to stop Florida recount
Derrick Z. Jackson. Eric Rudolph's legacy
Jonathan Chait. On Filibuster, Hypocrisy Rules
Cass R. Sunstein. Latest Assault on Judges Threatens Rule of Law
Marie Cocco. Worst instincts of the enforcers

Posted by Eric at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

New DeLay Links

And no, not to corporate slush funds - but websites! Oh joy:

House of Scandal.

Jack in the House.

Posted by Eric at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

David Brooks: Wrong Again

Almost cliche.

Posted by Eric at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)

Corporate Tax Cheats

The top 275 corporations in America pay an average of 17.3 percent on taxes; more from Robert Kuttner:

The statutory corporate rate is 35 percent. The fact that the taxes actually paid were less than half that amount reflects a blend of special-interest laws, shelters, and outright tax-cheating. As McIntyre observes, in the 1950s, U.S. corporations paid 4.8 percent of the gross domestic product in taxes. By 2004 that had fallen to 1.6 percent.

In recent years, the likelihood of a high-income individual, corporation, or partnership being audited has drastically declined. The IRS enforcement budget is down almost one-third since the mid-1990s. Even as Congress has larded up the tax code with new, complex shelters and special-interest provisions that invite abuse, it has limited the IRS budget to the point where taxpayer assistance offices are closing and the hands of the IRS are tied when it comes to in policing tax cheats.

For more on corporate tax cheats, and how they pull it off, check out this .pdf from Citizens for Tax Justice.

Posted by Eric at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

AP: White House Said to Impede Education Probe

Here we go again, via Eschaton:

The Bush administration is impeding an investigation into the Education Department's hiring of commentator Armstrong Williams by refusing to allow key White House officials to be interviewed, a Democratic lawmaker briefed on the review said Thursday.

In addition, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is considering invoking a privilege that he said would require information to be deleted when the final version is publicly released, which is expected within days.

Miller called for Jack Higgins, the inspector general at the Education Department, to delay the report until Spellings agrees not to invoke ''deliberative process privilege'' and the White House grants interviews with current or former officials familiar with the deal.

''The public's right to know is absolutely more important than any claim of privilege that the White House or the Department of Education might make,'' Miller said. ''The public has a right to all the facts about possible misconduct.''

Posted by Eric at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

Online Comm, Thursday

Tom Engelhardt. George's Amazing Alphabet Book
Eric Boehlert. Indecency wars Activists who beat back the FCC on media consolidation are dismayed to find former allies leading an unprecedented effort to restrict radio and TV content
Matthew Rothschild. The Scandal of John Negroponte
Christian E. Weller and John Alexander Burton. CEOs Soar, Middle Class Struggles
Eric Alterman. Bolton vs. Moynihan
Earl Hadley. Questioning Bush's Motives: Are the changes to the federal education law meant to help all children succeed —or just a public relations stunt?
Ray McGovern. Exposing Incompetent Incumbents
Molly Ivins. April 15th: You're getting screwed
Ari Berman. Hammering Away
Max Blumenthal. In Contempt of Courts: Conservative activists want to eliminate unsympathetic judges--by any means necessary.
The Nation. A War on Democracy: The fight is on to maintain this country's system of checks and balances
nathannewman. A Union in Every Workplace
talkleft. DeLay Praises Newt's Contract on America
John Feffer. Making Connections: Why is the news so bad? What can progressives do to fix it?
John Feffer. Goodbye Uncle Sam, Hello Team Europe
David Corn. Bringing Down the House: With prominent Republicans publicly denouncing him, how much longer will Tom DeLay survive as majority leader?
Terence Samuel. Pen and Paddling: Tom DeLay has lost control of the story, but he hasn't lost control of his caucus yet
Rob Garver. Justice Sunday: The Family Research Council says anticlerical judges pose a greater danger than al-Qaeda. [
mediamatters. Not funny: James Taranto twice wrongly claimed John Kerry based electoral fraud comments on jokes
mediamatters. ABC's Stossel falsely accused Media Matters of "smearing" him, continued to misrepresent facts on global warming
ThinkProgress. The Rich Shouldn’t Be Different From You And Me
ThinkProgress. Hindrocket’s Hackery

Posted by Eric at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

New Blog Link: NRDC

NRDC Action Fund's Blog.

Posted by Eric at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Thursd

DaytonaNJ. Rx for change: Drug price increases hurt health care
Josh Marshall. It's true: Targeting DeLay is just the start
Jane Walsh. A 'viciously uncivilized' budget
The Independent. Time is running out for rain forests
SeattlePI. Challenging extremists: With surprising speed, the reactionary Republican right has launched an ugly, intemperate and dangerous attack on judicial independence
BGlobe. Renewing voters' rights
Joyce Mullins. Six sensible Sens. needed to save democracy
Richard Cohen. Disaster, Not Diplomacy
Bob Herbert. The Haunting of Emile Griffith

Posted by Eric at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2005

Why the Bolton Vote Delay?

AP: Senate Committee Delays Vote on Bolton. Steve Clemons of The Washington Note writes the delay is good for Senate Democrats, who are trying to unearth more of Bolton's misdeeds:

However, yesterday's hearings and Carl Ford's testimony have wounded Bolton's cause -- and now there is a search for more damage done by Bolton in his last position. There are interviews planned with the many people Bolton intimidated, as well as a roster of people whom Bolton had fired -- or pushed out.

There is also a roster of substantive policy questions that Senators want to pose to Bolton in written form that deal with the question of whether Bolton was consistent with Bush administration policy in many of his public statements, or working against it. Some senators want these questions answered by Bolton before voting on his nomination.

So, at the moment, a vote looks like it might occur next Tuesday -- but it could be drawn out further. Time is actually on the side of those doing the investigating -- not those trying to cover up Bolton's record.

Posted by Eric at 04:20 PM | Comments (3)

Support the New GI Bill

From Wesley Clark, in a WesPAC email:

We all may not agree with the causes of this current war in Iraq, but we all agree that the brave men and women fighting it, and their families, deserve more than we can ever give them.

Now we must focus attention on our veterans and military retirees who have seen the government cut medical benefits, close VA hospitals, double tax disability payments, and more than double prescription drug co-payments, while requiring veterans to pay an annual enrollment fee of $250 to use government health services in the 2006 budget.

All of these costs add up to a "GI Tax" on our soldiers and veterans. And it's time to end that "GI Tax" -- once and for all. I need your help!

I was proud to join House Leaders Nancy Pelosi, Ike Skelton, Lane Evans, and Jon Salazar on Capitol Hill yesterday to unveil the new GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century. From the original GI Bill, signed by Franklin Roosevelt, it's always been up to a grateful nation to stand up for veterans and their families. Now it's our turn -- so please help.

Tell your Members of Congress to end the "GI Tax" and support the new GI Bill!

Among some of the bill's provisions: "Assist homeless veterans with employment, and protect bonuses and special pay for those who are permanently and severely injured or wounded or killed in service"; "Expand military health care to provide full access to TRICARE -- the military health program -- to all members of the Guard and Reserve and their families"

Posted by Eric at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)

Paper Comm, Wed

Susan Lenfestey. Pushing Commandments at expense of Amendments
StarTrib. Reject Bolton/He's the wrong guy for U.N.
Mark Morford. Earth To Humankind: Back Off Say good-bye to your car, computer, everything. We are burning up the planet too fast to hang on
Floyd J. McKay. Stench of DeLay clings to two Washington congressmen
SeattlePI. The reactionary right's crusade against judges suggests a lack of Civics 101
Harold Meyerson. Greetings From Mexistan
Kofi Annan. Billions of Promises to Keep
NYT. Questioning Mr. Bolton: The longer John Bolton's Senate confirmation hearing went on, the more outrageous it seemed that the president had nominated him to represent us in the United Nations
Derrick Z. Jackson. US takes the lead in trashing planet
Robert Kuttner. The biggest tax cheats
BGlobe. Bolton's blunders
SeattlePI. Filipino vets deserve benefits they were promised

Posted by Eric at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

Senate Rejects Vet Health Provision

The bill would have "provided $1.975 billion to the VA, with $525 million earmarked for mental health programs, $610 million provided specifically for the treatment of veterans wounded in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and $840 million evenly divided between VA regions." From the Army Times:

By two 54-46 votes, the Senate blocked efforts Tuesday to add money for veterans’ health care to the 2005 supplemental appropriations bill.
Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, both members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, sought to add $1.9 billion to the $80.6 billion wartime emergency supplemental appropriations bill to cover costs of treating returning combat veterans for war-related injuries and to cover shortfalls in funding for VA programs.

The Bush administration sought no VA money as part of its supplemental funding request, and none was included in the version of the bill passed by the House in March.

Murray, however, said funding for veterans is critical because wounded service members will be seeking treatment from already underfunded facilities.

“The VA is not prepared to deal with soldiers coming home,” she said. “It is an emergency today. If we don’t deal with it, it will be a crisis tomorrow.”

Posted by Eric at 10:42 AM | Comments (1)

Hillary Reelection Numbers

A new Marist College Institute for Public Opinion poll puts Senator Clinton's reelect rating at 51%, with Rudy Giuliani as the strongest challenger.

51% of New York State’s registered voters say they would definitely vote to re-elect Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Senate in 2006. 31% would definitely vote against her, and 12% want to wait and see who runs against her. 6% are unsure ... hypothetical pairings between Senator Clinton and a number of possible Republican candidates, only former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani makes her 2006 re-election bid to the U.S. Senate a competitive contest. Giuliani, with the support of 49% of New York’s voters, is closely matched with Clinton who receives 47%. 4% are undecided. Senator Clinton bests her other potential challengers by wide margins including Governor George Pataki, former U.S. Senate candidate Rick Lazio, public relations executive Adam Brecht, Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, and the son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon, attorney Edward Cox.

Posted by Eric at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005

AP: Senators May Have Named CIA Operative

Writes the AP: "Senators may have blown the cover of a covert CIA officer yesterday. During a hearing on John R. Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations, Bolton and members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee referred to the analyst as "Mr. Smith." They were discussing one of the officials involved in a dispute over what Democrats said was Bolton's inappropriate treatment of an intelligence analyst who disagreed with him."

However, as Ben Wikler notes, the name and position of 'Mr Smith' or Fulton Armstrong have long been known as a matter of public record.

Posted by Eric at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

Poor Ari Fleisher

No one wants to buy his book. T_T.

Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer received a reported $500,000 advance for his memoir, "Taking Heat," which was launched last month by William Morrow with an eye-popping press run of 200,000. That's a lot of dead trees to spin a happy (and, by most accounts, news-free) yarn about the all-around fabulosity of President Bush. Alas, Fleischer's publisher has just placed a tiny little ad in Publishers Weekly Online announcing "a special price promotion for retailers and wholesalers" - often a buzz phrase in the publishing biz for throwing in the towel, admitting a big overestimation of demand and trying desperately to avoid an avalanche of returns by slashing the price. A William Morrow spokeswoman insisted: "It's a Mother's Day and Father's Day promotion." But according to Nielsen Bookscan, Fleischer's volume had sold less than a tenth of the copies in print as of March 3.
For a completely fair and balanced book club review of Ari's snoozerfest, why not turn to Al Franken, Wonkette and John Dickerson (.wma).

Posted by Eric at 07:34 AM | Comments (2)

More DeLay Trouble?

This time courtesy of *gasp* none other than Jack Abramoff? Oh, tell me more, Newsweek:

April 18 issue - Jack Abramoff was somber, bitter and feeling betrayed. Once a Washington superlobbyist, Abramoff is now the target of a Justice Department criminal probe of allegations that he defrauded American Indian tribes of tens of millions of dollars in fees. As stories of his alleged excess dribble out—including the emergence of e-mails showing he derisively referred to his Native American clients as "monkeys" and "idiots"—some of Abramoff's old friends have abandoned him and treated him like a pariah. They claim they knew nothing of his questionable lobbying tactics. So last week, glumly sitting at his corner table at Signatures, the tony downtown restaurant he owns that remains his last redoubt, Abramoff lashed out in frustration ... It is a Washington melodrama that has played out many times before. When political figures get into trouble and their worlds collapse, they look to save themselves by fingering others higher in the food chain. Will Abramoff attempt to bargain with federal prosecutors by offering up DeLay—and does he really have the goods to do so? Abramoff has at times hinted he wanted to bargain—possibly by naming members who sought campaign cash for legislative favors, says a source familiar with the probe. But Abramoff's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, says, "There have been no negotiations with the Justice Department." Lowell cryptically acknowledges that Abramoff has been "disappointed" and "hurt" by the public statements of some former friends, but insists his client is currently "not upset or angry with Tom DeLay." Still, if Abramoff's lunch-table claims are true, he could hand DeLay his worst troubles yet.
Because the oolee computer is dead, I'm reading this now and you should too.

Here's a quote: "Democrats should save their money. Why murder someone who is committing suicide?" said a senior GOP lawmaker, on condition of anonymity.

Posted by Eric at 07:22 AM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Tuesday

SeattlePI. Standing For Justice: Political out of bounds
David Cay Johnston. How rich get richer: all the rest pay more - IRS scrutinizes wage earners but takes investors at their word under separate, unequal system
SFC. Become an organ donor
E. J. Dionne Jr. The Paris Hilton Tax Cut
Richard Cohen. Backward Evolution
NYT. A New Attack on Women's Sports
NYT. Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Two New York City immigrant girls, both 16, are caught at the intersection of two competing nightmares of the post-9/11 world.
Marice Cocco. Loyalty to Bush, but not to the nation
Sol Wachtler. Let Ten Commandments debate begin
David Kaczynski. Death Penalty Turnaround
Robert Scheer. The Pope Pleaded. We Didn't Listen
Dave Zweifel. GOP governors feel TABOR's pinch
CapTimes. Reckless snowmobilers deserve stiffer penalties

Posted by Eric at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

Those Obstructionist Dems

Contrary to GOP rhetoric, the Democrats have confirmed a huge majority of Bush's judicial nominations. Numbers from the WPost:

Crotty's nomination has been pending awhile. Democrats complain that Republicans are purposely not sending consensus judges to the Senate floor so that the confirmation rate doesn't increase. After Crotty's presumed approval today, the tally will be 205 judges confirmed since Bush was elected in 2000, with 10 not confirmed.

"They wanted to have just the bad judges on the floor to make us look obstructionist and let pressure mount toward a nuclear showdown," one senior Democratic Senate aide said.

So how about those Republicans when Clinton was president? See this Prospect article.

Posted by Eric at 06:43 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2005

Laptop Problem

The screen on my Dell laptop is broken. I think it's a bulb or light problem, as the screen only shows a faint picture. As a result, for the upcoming week, I'll likely only do a couple updates a day at a computer lab - I'll try to at least do a daily story update. Hopefully, I should get my computer back within 5 or so days.

Posted by Eric at 06:06 AM | Comments (4)

April 09, 2005

Activism: Save the Filibuster

Via, help protect the filibuster.


Posted by Eric at 12:09 AM | Comments (1)

Activism: Patriot Act

From the MovingIdeas Policy Blog:

As part of the National Week of Student Action, Amnesty International USA is coordinating a virtual sit-in today, April 8. Some provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are set to "sunset," or expire by the end of 2005, while other provisions will remain in place if not removed or amended by Congress. Here's your chance to tell Congress and the White House to change the PATRIOT Act. Ask your representative to:
Enforce the sunsets currently in the USA PATRIOT Act - when Congress voted for the Act they also voted for the sunsets;
Co-Sponsor and pass the SAFE Act increasing judicial scrutiny over government surveillance activity;
Amend the over broad definition of "domestic terrorism" so it does not infringe on the right of free speech and freedom of assembly.
Call Congress at 202-224-3121, and the White House at 202-456-1111.
More information on the SAFE act via Amnesty International USA

Also, check out Jeralyn's oped links at Talk Left.

Posted by Eric at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2005

Paper Comm, Friday

Orlando Sentinel. Martinez's failure
DaytonaNJ. Social Security's IOU
Marcela Sanchez. Catholic Church needs liberalized dogma
Helen Thomas. Buck doesn't stop at this president's desk
StarTrib. Invasive species/Time for EPA to do its job
NYT. The Worst of the Bad Nominees
Bob Herbert. Black, Dead and Invisible
Mark Morford. Where Are The Good Christians? The fanatics and nutjobs now running the show sure give honest believers a bad name
CapTimes. Recall pope's anti-war role
Derrick Z. Jackson. Sowing hope against racism
Jonathan Chait. It Was Only a Matter of Time for DeLay
LAT. The Last-Ditch Excuse: Allies of Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas have finally gotten around to the "everybody does it" justification of the ethical lapses of their guy

Posted by Eric at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2005

Daily Show Wins Another Peabody

For its election coverage. 60 Minutes II also won for its Abu Ghraib coverage:

The Peabody given to the Wednesday edition of "60 Minutes" honored an exclusive story, produced by Mary Mapes and reported by Dan Rather, about the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Several months after that journalistic coup, Ms. Mapes was fired and Mr. Rather retired as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" earlier than planned in the wake of another broadcast, on President George W. Bush's National Guard service. After initially backing its reporters and their report, CBS said they may have based it on falsified documents.

"The Daily Show," which combines elements of entertainment and news, was honored for its presidential election coverage, as it had been four years earlier.

But it was the award to "60 Minutes II" that set tongues wagging because of the recent controversy that led to Ms. Mapes's firing and Mr. Rather's early departure. (He continues to work for CBS as a reporter.)

Posted by Eric at 11:04 PM | Comments (1)

Tom DeLay Legal Donations Slow

Via DCCC, this from The Dallas Morning News:

Donations to Majority Leader Tom DeLay's defense fund have slowed considerably in the last few months. Some of his critics hope to cut the money flow even more with a new line of attack launched Wednesday demanding that corporate donors stop covering his legal bills.

The Tom DeLay Legal Expense Trust took in about $50,000 during the first quarter of 2005 – far below the pace that pumped in $430,000 during the second half of last year ... Aides and allies dismissed the idea that the slowdown in fund-raising for legal bills reflects slipping popularity. Rather, they said, his legal fees have simply subsided.

Posted by Eric at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

Online Comm, Thursday

thinkprogress. Schiavo Memo Hysteria: A Retrospective
talkleft. Valerie Plame Investigation May Be Over
Jerome Armstrong. Brian Darling, Republican Senator Martinez, and the Schiavo memo
liberaloasis. DeLay = Conservative
Ruy Teixeira. Can You Say "Dead"? I Think You Can!
dailykos. Waiting on mea culpas
Sarah Posner. GOP Talking Points and The Fog of Blogging
Tom Engelhardt. Creating an Uncivil Society
Arianna Huffington. Bushes in the hood: W fights gangs with budget cuts and photo ops
Eric Alterman. Missing in Action
Gary Gardner. A Man for This Season: the greatest challenges facing the next pope will come from the environment—and our gluttony
Ward Harkavy. Arms for the Poor: Bush regime sells Lockheed-style democracy to Pakistan and India
The Nation. Progressives and Labor
democracynow. DeLay Under Scrutiny Again for Ethics Violations
G. Pascal Zachary. Alternative Pulitzer
Amy DePaul. Hello, Minimum Wage
Robert B. Reich. The Fed's Preemptive War: We're fighting an inflation that's not imminent, and low-income workers are taking the heaviest casualties
Harold Meyerson. Future of the Past: Jews, Muslims, and Christians have banded together -- but it's not the uplifting moment you might expect
mediamatters. Minuteman organizer James Gilchrist defends white supremacists from Alan Colmes: "Why are you picking on them?"
mediamatters. Bozell, Hannity peddled unsubstantiated attacks on AP photojournalist
Amanda Griscom Little. Turning neocons green: New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says that Bush's plan to remake the Middle East will fail unless the U.S. starts guzzling less gas -- and that if asked, Americans will pay $4 a gallon
Bill Berkowitz. Viguerie's army attacks Social Security

Posted by Eric at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)

Al Gore and the Internet

People still perpetuate the urban legend (granted, it's Lowell Ponte in FrontPage, but still):

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE ONCE CLAIMED, absurdly, that he invented the Internet.

On April 4 the defeated 2000 Democratic presidential candidate announced that he is re-inventing television with “Current TV,” a new youth-oriented satellite channel scheduled to commence full operation on August 1st.


Posted by Eric at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

Daily Show's 2004 Coverage to DVD

On June 28:

Bush vs. Kerry. It was a political year to remember as reported by the best fake journalists in the business. For the first time in "The Daily Show's" nine-year history, a DVD will be made available to the American people. Released via COMEDY CENTRAL Home Entertainment and distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2004" DVD hits stores on Tuesday, June 28 and will be available in retail stores nation-wide and at

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2004" DVD is an uncensored three-disc boxed set featuring original content produced exclusively for the DVD by Jon Stewart and correspondents Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry and Ed Helms.

In addition, the DVD will include the following: all four shows from the Democratic National Convention taped at Boston University; all four shows from the Republican National Convention taped at COMEDY CENTRAL's World News Headquarters in New York City; "The Bush-Kerry Debate: The Squabble in Coral Gables," a special live presentation of the first presidential debate held on September 30, 2004; "Election Night 2004: Prelude to a Recount," the culmination of the show's "Indecision 2004" coverage that originally aired as a special one-hour primetime presentation; and highlights from the 2004 campaign.

Posted by Eric at 09:20 AM | Comments (0)

Paper Comm, Thursday

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. No nukes / To end the filibuster would be a huge mistake
John J. Sweeney. Pickpockets on Wall Street
Sidney Blumenthal. Politics in red robes: Bush's attendance at the Pope's funeral merely masks White House exploitation of Catholic division
Guardian. Stumbling forward - Iraq
SeattlePI. Reproductive Health: A win for freedom
Richard Cohen. A Failure of More Than Intelligence
DaytonaNJ. Paper trail ensures accurate records
Maureen Dowd. The Passion of the Tom: Before, Republicans just scared other people. Now, they're starting to scare themselves
NYT. Shameless Photo-Op: President Bush wants Americans to believe that the Social Security trust fund is a joke. But if the trust fund is a joke, so is the full faith and credit of the United States
SFC. Time to fix the Patriot Act
SFC. Keeping borders open
James P. Pinkerton. Talking up a GOP 'hottie' for '08 race
Dave Zweifel. Arizona shows way on finance reform
Ellen Goodman. Egg donation and morality
Myriam Márquez. Snub of Carter is Bush league

Posted by Eric at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

Schiavo Memo: Real

Imagine that:

The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night.

Brian H. Darling, 39, a former lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group on gun rights and other issues, offered his resignation and it was immediately accepted, Martinez said ... Conservative Web logs have challenged the authenticity of the memo, in some cases likening it to the discredited documents about Bush's National Guard service that CBS News reported last fall.

Posted by Eric at 05:03 AM | Comments (2)

Rep Tom Coles (R-OK) on Social Security Priv

Via TPM, an AP story quote:

"This is like being for the Civil Rights Bill in 1960," said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., emerging from a meeting of the rank and file. "You may not win but it makes you feel good and you're on the right side."

Posted by Eric at 03:59 AM | Comments (1)

WSJ/NBC Poll: Divisions in GOP

April 6 poll. Within the GOP: "After winning re-election on the strength of support from nine in 10 Republican voters, the president is seeing significant chunks of that base balk at major initiatives, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows. One-third of Republicans say Democrats in Congress should prevent Mr. Bush and party leaders from "going too far in pushing their agenda," and 41% oppose eliminating filibusters against Mr. Bush's judicial nominees -- the "nuclear option" that Senate Republican leaders are considering. The Schiavo case has opened another rift. Though Mr. Bush and Republican congressional leaders acted to maximize the opportunity for reinserting Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube, 39% of Republicans said removing the tube was "the right thing to do," while 48% said it was wrong. About 18% of Republicans say they lost respect for Mr. Bush on the issue and 41% lost respect for Congress."

Overall approval: "The latest poll shows that Mr. Bush retains huge Republican support in general. His overall approval rating remains at the middling levels he has registered for more than a year, slipping slightly to 48% from 50% in February. But fully 87% of Republicans approve of his job performance, and 88% express positive views about him personally."

Social Security: "Different elements of the party, however, are balking at specific items on the president's agenda. On his centerpiece initiative of Social Security, for instance, 32% of Republicans call it "a bad idea" to let workers invest payroll taxes in the stock markets ... resistance among Democrats and senior citizens has driven overall opposition to 55% from the 50% recorded on the eve of his second inauguration."

Filibuster: "resistance among rank-and-file Republicans is even higher. Four in 10 say the option of filibusters should be preserved."

Posted by Eric at 03:48 AM | Comments (0)

Here We Go Again

Mr. Delay goes to Saipan, ABC News:

A Washington lobbyist under federal investigation for his lobbying activities arranged a lavish overseas trip to the island of Saipan for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, over the New Year's holiday in 1997.

DeLay, his wife and daughter, and several aides, stayed for free at a beachfront resort. The DeLay trip to the South Pacific island, originally reported by a "20/20" investigation, was part of an effort by former aide Jack Abramoff to stop legislation aimed at cracking down on sweatshops and sex shops in the American territory, which is known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

Abramoff, who was working for the law firm Preston Gates Ellis and Rouvelas Meeds LLP at the time, was paid $l.36 million by Saipan officials and wrote in a memo obtained by ABC News that such congressional trips were "one of the most effective ways to build permanent friends on the Hill."

Abramhoff is now under federal investigation for his lobbying activities, including Saipan, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Posted by Eric at 03:35 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

Quote: "House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is widely regarded as the most powerful member of Congress. DeLay's abuse of this power has encircled him in a web of scandal. He has already been admonished three times by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee and a political action committee he set up in Texas is currently the subject of a grand jury investigation. A network of large corporate backers have come, cash-in-hand, to DeLay's defense. American Airlines, Bacardi USA, Nissan USA, RJ Reynolds, and Verizon have all contributed thousands to Tom DeLay's Legal Defense Fund."


Posted by Eric at 09:48 PM | Comments (1)

Gen Wesley Clark Before House Armed Services Committee

From part of his openning statement:

On the first track, the U.S. military must shift away from the battlefields and move into more of a reserve role, relying on a cadre of U.S. advisors to strengthen the newly-minted Iraqi forces. This will entail risks, as U.S. forces turn over combat responsibilities, so it must be paced to improved Iraqi capabilities and the development of an advisory structure ... The U.S. armed forces are caught up in an over-extended ground campaign that is rapidly using up our ground combat strength. In equipment terms, each year in Iraq puts about five years of normal wear-and-tear on the equipment. The wheeled and tracked fleets from the first combat rotation into Iraq have not yet been fully repaired and restored. Reserve component units are leaving much of their equipment behind in Iraq for follow-on units, thereby crippling their recovery and retraining at home

Even more importantly, the human costs to the all-volunteer Army, especially, have been staggering. The Army currently has 17 brigades deployed in Iraq, from an active force of 33 brigades, which should grow to 44 brigades as the result of internal Army restructuring. Most reserve component brigades have already been called up and deployed. The result is that active duty soldiers can expect to be deployed every other year to Iraq for a year long combat tour, unless either the size of the American commitment to Iraq is reduced or the size of the active force is significantly increased.

And even maintaining the force at its current size is likely to be challenging. While the active force is meeting its retention objectives, recruiting for the Army and Marine Corps is lagging behind both for the active and the reserve component. Ultimately, if the current combat levels in Iraq continue, this recruiting gap is unlikely to be closed by more financial incentives. Most married soldiers just can’t contemplate indefinitely deploying for a year, every other year, away from their families.

Even worse is the treatment that the United States is meting out to its returning reservists, Guardsmen, and other veterans. Over the past three years there has been a substantial erosion of veterans benefits -- hospitals have closed or reduced treatments, usage fees have risen, returning reservists and Guardsmen have lost jobs, had their homes foreclosed on, credit scores ruined, suffered family tragedies, and significant stresses. The adjustment mechanisms to receive home our soldiers and then to sustain them and care for them as a grateful nation should are simply inadequately developed and funded. We owe our veterans -- and we owe their families as a pragmatic matter, if we don’t do more, we’ll never be able to raise the forces we need to sustain our commitments.

Posted by Eric at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)

Online Comm, Wedn

mediamatters. Limbaugh shortchanged international relief and aid to Third World countries
Alan Bisbort. The Culture of Death
thinkprogress. Wal-Mart Getting (Even More) Offensive
Clean Air Now. Loophole in 'Clear Skies' Bill Lets Nearly 40 Percent of Nation's Power Plant Units Escape Mercury Reductions
David Barsamian. Seymour Hersh Interview
democracynow. Gonzales Defends Patriot Act at Judiciary Hearing as Congress Mulls Renewal
John R. MacArthur. Iraq War Coverage Reminds Me of Vietnam
Helen Thomas. Fleischer Forgets He Gave Spin, Not Facts
dailykos. MT-Sen: DSCC poll, possible candidates
Frank O'Donnell. What's Good For GM?
Joseph E. Stiglitz. Democracy Starts At Home
George McGovern. Patriotism Is Nonpartisan
David Corn. Banned in Arkansas: I get the Ward Churchill treatment from Arkansas State University
Murray Waas. Exclusive: Plame Game Over?
Levit Stuart and Jeff Milchen. Exposed: Most asbestos defendants should be let off the hook. But the big fish are getting away with millions
Sarah Posner. Blurring The Lines Between News And Political Activism: goes "independent"
Robert Parry. CIA 'Reform' Rings Hollow
Rahul Mahajan. We Told You So: The latest WMD report merely confirms what anti-war activists were claiming all along -- way before the invasion of Iraq

Posted by Eric at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

No Colin Powell on Recent Bolton Letter

Will Colin come to the defense of UN-nominee John Bolton? Or will his silence speak for itself? From Steve Clemons at The Washington Note:

But five former Secretaries of State -- James A. Baker III, Lawrence Eagleburger, Alexander Haig, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz -- have co-signed a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar endorsing John Bolton's nomination to the U.N.

There is much to critique among these five -- but the FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION to ask today is WHY WASN'T THE LETTER 6??

Colin Powell probably scoffed when he got the letter request. He was Bolton's most recent boss, and he has failed to give Bolton an endorsement.

That says as much as the letter. Now, remember to call Lincoln Chafee -- and if you are up for it -- a call to Senator Hagel is now a good investment.


Senator Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island (202) 224-2921

Senator Chuck Hagel, Nebraska, (202) 224-4224

Posted by Eric at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2005

The Hamster Goodbye

August 2001. That’s when I started this website. Back then I was a high school senior, all of 17 years old. I was the president of my high school speech and debate team, and competing in an event called ‘US Extemporaneous Speaking.’ I’d always been interested in US politics, and wanted a way to actively follow and engage in discussions about politics. So I started a website.

I’ve kept this blog through all my young adult life: graduating high school, working and schooling in Washington, and finally - final exams willing - graduating from college this May. Sometimes I’ve had trouble balancing time and updating this blog, but throughout the past 3.5 years, I’ve always had great fun doing this. However, the time has come to move on to new (and paid) things.

As I graduate this May, I’ve decided to stop this blog – but I won’t stop blogging. As some of you may know, I’ve been involved with “The Al Franken Show” and its website,, since Air America Radio started a little over a year ago. Recently, I was offered a full-time job as a show researcher and blogger. I’ve accepted, and will start on May 31.

To all those who helped me along the way - generous fellow bloggers, you the reader, and my parents - thanks. Hope to see you here.


PS – If you have comments, suggestions, etc about the Franken blog, please let me know.

Posted by Eric at 06:17 AM | Comments (53) | Blog Related

NOTE: Re-hosted 2017.



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