« March 2005 | Home | May 2005 »

April 29, 2005
Redefining Wealth

Anyone catch Bush's press conference last night? I didn't, because, you know, I can't bear to look at the man, but I caught some updates on the late news, Nightline, and all over the Internets today.

The big (non-) news was about his Social Security gutting plan, as Bush gave some brand new deceptions a whirl.

Some highlights:

Bush's first new spin was a plan "where benefits for low-income workers will grow faster than benefits for people who are better off," which many news outlets have reported today as his offering to "only cut benefits for the wealthy." The problem is that his definition of wealthy may be a bit different than yours. Do you make more than $20,000 a year? You're stinkin' rich! Your benefits will be cut - oh boy will they be cut - because clearly your pimpin' ass can easily afford it.

The cleverness here is making it sound like low-income workers benefits will grow under his plan. In fact, people who make under $20,000 will simply be the only people not to have their benefits cut. See how that works? Well crafted.

As Think Progress points out, when Bush was selling us his tax cut program, he defined low income as anything below $100,000 a year.

Why, I just don't know how to feel now? Am I rich or poor? I guess I'm poor enough to get screwed by the tax cuts, but rich enough to get screwed by the Social Security cuts. I imagine most of you are right there with me.


Responding to the widespread antipathy to his private/personal investment accounts (for some reason, people don't trust the stock market), Bush offered to give people the option to invest their money in Treasury bonds, which, he said, "are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government."

Gee, seems like only a couple of weeks ago that Bush was trotting out a filing cabinet as a prop and declaring, "There is no trust fund, just IOUs that I saw firsthand, that future generations will pay."

And what are the IOUs he's talking about? Why, they're U.S. Treasury bonds, of course!

I'm confused again! Are Treasury bonds crap or what? Oh, Mr. President, you've got me so befuddled...

UPDATE :: For those of you with glaze-over-proof eyes and a taste for numbers and graphs, here's a detailed analysis of "Progressive Price Indexing", as Bush's new plan is called, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The NBA's Blogger

Paul Shirley of the Phoenix Suns has his very own blog, called "Road Ramblings." Very interesting insight into what it's like to be a professional athlete. Particularly an intelligent, funny professional athlete.

paul shirley

He seems to see most of the crap surrounding the sport for what it is: crap. If he wrote 'crap' though, it would probably be replaced by [something], as his blog is censored by the league with the use of brackets. It adds to the humor as he tried to describe things without G-rated language.

From his March 23 entry..

I had several [Are you kidding me?] Moments tonight — most of them caused by some bad nicknames. [Are you kidding me moments] are defined as points in my life when, [censors on the case] I would have to consider [censors on the case again] ending it all so as to avoid dealing with the further downward spiral of our culture. The first arrived with the announcement of the starting line-ups. Here's the deal: When, after 60 games, the team being announced has a winning percentage hovering around the same area as most pitchers' batting averages, it loses the right to a grand entrance. No more dance team, no more theme song, no more dimming the lights. The players just walk onto the court and play the game. That's it. The Hawks did not agree to my deal. They had an over-produced introduction on the big screen, an actual hawk that flew down from the rafters, and even a catch-phrase—something like, "The Spirit Lies Within." Make it stop.

My other [Are you kidding me? Moments] occurred each time either of the Hawks' rookie Josh's was announced for scoring a basket. Apparently, someone decided that saying Josh Smith or Josh Childress was just not going to be sufficient. So instead, each time Josh Smith scores, the crowd is treated to, "J-Smooth for two." When it is Childress, out comes, "J-Chill with the assist." An analysis of this situation that does not include profanity escapes me, so I will not even try. Good night.


Good stuff.

April 28, 2005
GOP Rewriting Dems Amendments

Holy crap.

Democrats in the House are furious over what they see as a deliberate attempt by Republicans to rewrite Democratic amendments to make the Democrats amendments look preposterous, RAW STORY has learned.

The Republican-written rewrites, along with the Democratic description of the amendments, follows.

The following amendments were offered and voted down by recorded votes in the Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 748-The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA):


DEMS: a Nadler amendment allows an adult who could be prosecuted under the bill to go to a Federal district court and seek a waiver to the state’s parental notice laws if this remedy is not available in the state court. (no 11-16)
GOP REWRITE:. Mr. Nadler offered an amendment that would have created an additional layer of Federal court review that could be used by sexual predators to escape conviction under the bill. By a roll call vote of 11 yeas to 16 nays, the amendment was defeated.

DEMS: a Nadler amendment to exempt a grandparent or adult sibling from the criminal and civil provisions in the bill (no 12-19)
GOP REWRITE: . Mr. Nadler offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution under the bill if they were grandparents or adult siblings of a minor. By a roll call vote of 12 yeas to 19 nays, the amendment was defeated.

DEMS: a Scott amendment to exempt cab drivers, bus drivers and others in the business transportation profession from the criminal provisions in the bill (no 13-17):
GOP REWRITE. Mr. Scott offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution if they are taxicab drivers, bus drivers, or others in the business of professional transport. By a roll call vote of 13 yeas to 17 nays, the amendment was defeated.

DEMS: a Scott amendment that would have limited criminal liability to the person committing the offense in the first degree (no 12-18)
GOP REWRITE:. Mr. Scott offered an amendment that would have exempted from prosecution under the bill those who aid and abet criminals who could be prosecuted under the bill. By a roll call vote of 12 yeas to 18 nays, the amendment was defeated

DEMS: a Jackson-Lee amendment to exempt clergy, godparents, aunts, uncles or first cousins from the penalties in the bill (no 13-20)
GOP REWRITE. Ms. Jackson-Lee offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution under the bill if they were clergy, godparents, aunts, uncles, or first cousins of a minor, and would require a study by the Government Accounting Office. By a roll call vote of 13 yeas to 20 nays, the amendment was defeated.


The ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D - NY), released a statement describing her confrontation with the Committee Chair.

I asked the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee about this deception yesterday afternoon at the Rules Committee hearing.

"And instead of decrying what I certainly expected would be revealed as a mistake by an overzealous staffer...The Chairman stood by those altered
amendment descriptions.

"He made very clear to the Rules Committee that the alterations to these members' amendments were deliberate.When pressed as to why his committee staff took such an unprecedented action, the Chairman immediately offered up his own anger over the manner in which Democrats had chosen to debate and oppose this unfortunate piece of legislation we have before us today.

"In fact...He said, and I quote..."You don't like what we wrote about your amendments, and we don't like what you said about our bill."


Seriously, does it not disturb anyone that the most powerful nation on earth is run by 4th-graders? What in THE HELL is the matter with these people?

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the original writer of the doctored amendments, is not happy...

"This is truly outrageous, and a gross abuse of power. The authors of this report suggest that they described my amendment in accordance with its possible effect, but if that's true, consider this:

"Under CIANA, a father who rapes and impregnates his own daughter can go and sue the doctor or the grandparent or the clergyman who transported his child across state lines for the purpose of getting an abortion. Maybe that wasn't exactly the intent of this legislation. But according to the descriptive guidelines now laid out by the majority, it would therefore be fair to call this entire bill the Rapists and Sexual Predators Right to Sue Act.

"The Republicans are trying to determine which words the Democrats get to use to describe their own amendments. What next - they get to write our speeches?"


Sure, what the hell, let them write the speeches. At this point, maybe we should just give 'em the keys. They'll run the whole thing off a cliff in like 8 months.

CNN = Suck

Oh, media, how do you suck? Here's one way...

From the Daily Show the other night. Watch for the second part of this "Gay Watch" segment, about the Texas law prohibiting homosexuals from raising foster children.

Watch Clip.

This is where we live now. CNN, the "most trusted name in news," doesn't think it's appropriate to point out blatant lies on the air. Instead, the anchors will chitty-chat about it during the break. I feel so, what is it, informed? No... Nauseated! That's it.

The War on the Press

Eric Alterman has a truly alarming rundown of the Bush Administration's war against the truth in this week's Nation, or maybe it's last week's. I subscribe to it, so I get it a week late. Makes sense.

In any case, if you're like me and sufficiently paranoid, there's nothing here you don't already know. But if you're not like me and you think the First Amendment gives us a free press, you could use some paranoia, so read this.

Really, it's not funny. It's scary. A little funny maybe.

Microsoft Rethinks Rethinking Discrimination Bill

Just in time! A week after the legislation was defeated.

Microsoft may re-evaluate whether to support state legislation that would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians, Chairman Bill Gates said yesterday.

Gates said Microsoft was surprised by the sharp reaction after it became known that the company took a neutral position on the perennial measure this year, after actively supporting it in previous years.

"Next time this one comes around, we'll see," he said. "We certainly have a lot of employees who sent us mail. Next time it comes around that'll be a major factor for us to take into consideration."

The Seattle Times

Audio of this morning's NPR interview with Gates here

April 27, 2005

Via Defective Yeti...

These are my URL ABCs:

April 26, 2005
Book Report: Assassination Vacation

Bias warning: I totally have a little crush on Sarah Vowell. I once saw her read at the New York Public Library, and after I asked her if she knew that Gansevoort Street (she had mentioned walking there in her talk) in Chelsea was named after Herman Melville's grandfather. She did. Cool, huh?


Assassination Vacation is great! Really, really great.

You want more?


Assassination Vacation follows Vowell's journey across the country -- from a speck of an island in the Gulf of Mexico to a Klingitt village in Alaska -- tracing the stories of the assassinations of three presidents: Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. In telling these big (Lincoln) and small (Garfield) stories, Vowell manages to take in quite a swath of American History, all told with a distinctive humor and style. This is the way history should be taught. It's about the stories, people. Enough already with the dates and mind-numbing chronologies. Vowell tells these histories as if she knows the people involved, which gives the reader the distinct impression that it's possible to know them.

A great thing about reading books written by people you hear on the radio is that you can hear their voices in your head. Their particular rhythm and tone -- in Vowell's case a kind of nasal auditory sneer, but in a good way -- adds a nice familiarity and warmth to the text. Of course, this is reinforced by the fact that this book is as much about Vowell as it is about Lincoln. It's memoir mixed with history mixed with satire, and I like it.

Did I mention that I liked it?

Here's what I didn't like: I didn't like feeling like I wish I had written it. I didn't like noting that Liz and I had been to many of the same places on our Travelin' Van trip (even the Dry Tortugas, and nobody's been there), but we didn't write a book, though we meant to. I didn't like my job while I was reading this book.

See, this review is as much about me as it is about the book. See the parallels? Eerie.

While Assassination Vacation is about the past, Vowell's storytelling is rooted firmly in the present. She constantly throws in little jabs at the current administration, noting that she has to avert her eyes from the White House while touring Washington and pointing out the scary similarities between the imperialist fervor of the McKinley administration with our current world-domination agenda. What's not to love?

The best thing about Vowell, though, is that at bottom, she genuinely loves this country. That couldn't sound cheesier, but it's true. She is an honest patriot, not a jingoistic flag-waving nutball, but someone who can see all the cracks and flaws in our facade, but whose passion for the great experiment in democracy is not diminished. She knows this country was built, and continues to be built, on a giant pile of dead bodies, but that's history for you. It is, as she says, "one war after another with a bunch of murders and natural disasters in between." But that's no reason not to be optimistic. Or at least fondly reminiscent.

I did find one typo, so it's not all raves.

World Terror Attacks Tripled in 2004
The U.S. count of major world terrorist attacks more than tripled in 2004, a rise that may revive debate on whether the Bush administration is winning the war on terrorism, congressional aides said on Tuesday.

The number of "significant" international terrorist attacks rose to about 650 last year from about 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides briefed on the numbers by State Department and intelligence officials on Monday.


So what's the spin going to be on this.. It's the last gasp of the fleeing, desparate, terrorists? Better there than here? All the liberals' fault? Judges? Jane Fonda?

Stay tuned..

Hero of the Year

This is Good -> Matthew Baldwin is Hero of the Year.

April 25, 2005
Bush Pretends to Pressure Saudis

President Bush pretended to pressure Crown Prince Abdullah in Crawford today, the two acting like they're not practically in the same family.

Bush sought to allay Americans fears that he wasn't doing anything about soaring gas prices by meeting with a close family associate in the oil business and pretending to disagree with him.

"We'll talk about his country's capacity. It's an important subject," Bush said. Saudi Arabia is the biggest producer within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"This is an important relationship," Bush said. He greeted the prince, who is in his early eighties, with a kiss on both cheeks and then firmly held his hand to guide him up the stone steps leading to the office on the president's ranch.


The President added, "Heh."


Josh Marshall is keeping good tabs on all the media outlets that have picked up this "the Democrats call it the 'nuclear option'" bullshit. This morning on NPR they said it. It's everywhere. It's really pissing me off.

These media companies know damn well that the term "nuclear option" is not an invention of the Democrats, nor was it, until recently, used only by Democrats. In fact, the term was coined by former majority leader Trent Lott.

The Republican noise machine has so successfully muddied the waters on this that now some people are referring to what the Democrats would do in response to the nuclear option as "the nuclear option."

It's really sad when every media outlet from coast to coast just picks up this garbage without question. The Republicans invented the term, they're the ones threatening to "go nuclear," but now this violent, destructive imagery has been successfully pinned entirely on the opposition. It's a magnificent lie. Conservatives did some polls, discovered that the term elicited a negative response, so they switched to "the constitutional option." In a world that made any sense, a move so pathetically transparent would be highlighted by the media. But this is not that world.

Keep watching Talking Points Memo to see how amazingly fast this lie is spreading.


April 24, 2005
Bush's Enemies List

Oh, to hell with it. Who wants to move to New Zealand?

The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission meets three times a year in various cities across the Americas to discuss such dry-but-important issues as telecommunications standards and spectrum regulations. But for this week's meeting in Guatemala City, politics has barged onto the agenda, TIME's Viveca Novak and John Dickerson report.

At least four of the two dozen or so U.S. delegates selected for the meeting, sources tell TIME, have been bumped by the White House because they supported John Kerry's 2004 campaign. The State Department has traditionally put together a list of industry representatives for these meetings, and anyone in the U.S. telecom industry who had the requisite expertise and wanted to go was generally given a slot, say past participants, TIME reports.

Only since the start of Bush's second term did a political litmus test emerge, industry sources say. The White House admits as much: "We wanted people who would represent the Administration positively, and—call us nutty—it seemed like those who wanted to kick this Administration out of town last November would have some difficulty doing that," says White House spokesman Trent Duffy. Those barred from the trip include employees of Qualcomm and Nokia, two of the largest telecom firms operating in the U.S., as well as Ibiquity, a digital-radio-technology company in Columbia, MD, TIME reports.

(emphasis mine)

TIME Magazine

It's great when Republicans accuse Democrats of being partisan, and when George W. Bush demands that his political appointments, the "people's business," not be held up by "politics." Then they turn around and restrict attendance at a telecom conference based on political contributions.

The quote from Trent Duffy is unbelievable. There will be a policy discussion, and "call them nutty," they think it's totally reasonable to exclude anyone who didn't support the president's reelection. Because, really, the 49% of the population that those people represent have no place in the discussion over the regulation of bandwidth.

This amounts to an Enemies List. This is really fucked up.

As Atrios notes, can you imagine what the response would have been if Clinton had done something like this? Sure, it's a tired comparison, but that's only because it keeps happening.

Via Kevin Drum and Atrios.

DeLay Receipts

Is there really anyone in the country who still thinks Tom DeLay isn't dirty?

The airfare to London and Scotland in 2000 for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number.

DeLay's expenses during the same trip for food, phone calls and other items at a golf course hotel in Scotland were billed to a different credit card also used on the trip by a second registered Washington lobbyist, Edwin A. Buckham, according to receipts documenting that portion of the trip.

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay, who is now House majority leader, has said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization and that the financial arrangements for it were proper. He has also said he had no way of knowing that any lobbyist might have financially supported the trip, either directly or through reimbursements to the nonprofit organization.

The documents obtained by The Washington Post, including receipts for his hotel stays in Scotland and London and billings for his golfing during the trip at the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland, substantiate for the first time that some of DeLay's expenses on the trip were billed to charge cards used by the two lobbyists. The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis.

DeLay Airfare Was Charged To Lobbyist's Credit Card (washingtonpost.com)

What DeLay and his handlers are trying to do with this is not to deny that the expenses were paid by lobbyists, but just play dumb. Tom DeLay himself, they say, "has always believed and continues to believe" that the expenses were paid by a non-profit group.

The evidence continues to mount that DeLay did in fact personally know who was paying his expenses, but the best part is that he "continues to believe" it. Even though there are credit card receipts showing that expenses were paid by Abramoff and his associates, DeLay still is under the impression that the National Center for Public Policy Research paid for the trip.

So I guess the question now is whether DeLay is just lying, or completely delusional.

The War on Justice

Today is "Justice Sunday," when a group of religious fanatics will stage what Frank Rich rightly calls a "high-tech lynching in prime time."

The Senate Majority leader, Dr. Bill Frist, will be addressing the gathering by videotape, apparently thinking that not actually showing up will protect him from association with a group that literally seeks to take over the court system by any means necessary.

Think I'm exagerrating? Think again.

Evangelical Christian leaders, who have been working closely with senior Republican lawmakers to place conservative judges in the federal courts, have also been exploring ways to punish sitting jurists and even entire courts viewed as hostile to their cause.

An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times features two of the nation's most influential evangelical leaders, at a private conference with supporters, laying out strategies to rein in judges, such as stripping funding from their courts in an effort to hinder their work.

The discussion took place during a Washington conference last month that included addresses by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who discussed efforts to bring a more conservative cast to the courts.

Frist and DeLay have not publicly endorsed the evangelical groups' proposed actions. But the taped discussion among evangelical leaders provides a glimpse of the road map they are drafting as they work with congressional Republicans to achieve a judiciary that sides with them on abortion, same-sex marriage and other elements of their agenda.

"There's more than one way to skin a cat, and there's more than one way to take a black robe off the bench," said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, according to an audiotape of a March 17 session. The tape was provided to The Times by the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

DeLay has spoken generally about one of the ideas the leaders discussed in greater detail: using legislative tactics to withhold money from courts.

"We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse," DeLay said at an April 13 question-and-answer session with reporters.

The leaders present at the March conference, including Perkins and James C. Dobson, founder of the influential group Focus on the Family, have been working with Frist to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations, a legislative tool that has allowed Senate Democrats to stall 10 of President Bush's nominations. Frist is scheduled to appear, via a taped statement, during a satellite broadcast to churches nationwide Sunday that the Family Research Council has organized to build support for the Bush nominees.

The March conference featuring Dobson and Perkins showed that the evangelical leaders, in addition to working to place conservative nominees on the bench, have been trying to find ways to remove certain judges.

Perkins said that he had attended a meeting with congressional leaders a week earlier where the strategy of stripping funding from certain courts was "prominently" discussed. "What they're thinking of is not only the fact of just making these courts go away and re-creating them the next day but also defunding them," Perkins said.

He said that instead of undertaking the long process of trying to impeach judges, Congress could use its appropriations authority to "just take away the bench, all of his staff, and he's just sitting out there with nothing to do."

These curbs on courts are "on the radar screen, especially of conservatives here in Congress," he said.

Dobson, who emerged last year as one of the evangelical movement's most important political leaders, named one potential target: the California-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court," Dobson said. "They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."

Robert Stevenson, a spokesman for Frist, said Thursday that the Senate leader does not agree with the idea of defunding courts or shutting them down, pointing to Frist's comments earlier this month embracing a "fair and independent judiciary." A spokesman for DeLay declined to comment.

The remarks by Perkins and Dobson drew fire from Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who charged that the two leaders were more brazen in such private encounters with supporters than their more genteel public images portray.

"To talk about defunding judges is just about the most bizarre, radical approach to controlling the outcome of court decisions that you can imagine," Lynn said.

Frist is expected to try as early as next week to push the Senate to ban filibusters on judicial nominations -- a move so explosive that Democrats are calling it the "nuclear option."

Democrats have been using the filibuster to block 10 of Bush's appeals court nominees who they believe are too extreme in their views, but the skirmishes are considered a preview of a highly anticipated fight over replacing the ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, whose retirement is considered imminent.

"Folks, I am telling you all that it is going to be the mother of all battles," Dobson predicted at the March 17 meeting. "And it's right around the corner. I mean, Justice Rehnquist could resign at any time, and the other side is mobilized to the teeth."

The remarks by Perkins and Dobson reflect the passion felt by Christians who helped fuel Bush's reelection last year with massive turnout in battleground states, and who also spurred Republican gains in the Senate and House.

Claiming a role by the movement in the GOP gains, Dobson concluded: "We've got a right to hold them accountable for what happens here."

Both leaders chastised what Perkins termed "squishy" and "weak" Republican senators who have not wholeheartedly endorsed ending Democrats' power to filibuster judicial nominees. They said these included moderates such as Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. They also grumbled that Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and George Allen of Virginia needed prodding.

"We need to shake these guys up," Perkins said.

Said Dobson: "Sometimes it's just amazing to me that they seem to forget how they got here."

LA Times

So many things going on here. Primarily, people like Dobson and Perkins and those they claim to represent are explicitly saying that they basically own conservative lawmakers. This is not the way our democracy works. While politicians should most certainly keep in mind the will of their constituents, they do not owe them fealty. What Perkins and Dobson have in mind is more along the lines of Tammany Hall and other blatantly corrupt political systems. Once elected, legislators do not owe allegiance to those groups who "got them there."

Something else in the above text, something that pisses me off but good. The LA Times attributes the term "nuclear option" to the Democrats. This is bullshit. That term has been used by both parties for years, and it is only in the past few weeks that the Republican NewSpeak machine has determined that it doesn't poll well and has switched that party to the more legal sounding "constitutional option." The Times shamefully just picked up this canard and went with it.

And then Frist's spokesperson says that he doesn't support these ideas, yet he is appearing at their rally tonight, which expressly promotes the same ideas.

Be afraid.

Via Digby.

UPDATE :: Talk Left points out that the Family Research Council wasn't always so steadfastly anti-filibuster. In fact, when it suited their agenda, they were downright supportive, as was the case when they defended the filibuster against gay ambassadorial nominee James Hormel a few years ago. In 1998, a FRC official had this to say about that:

...the Senate is a -- is not a majoritarian institution like the House of Representatives is. It is a deliberative body and it's got a number of checks and balances built into our government. This is one of those checks, in which a majority cannot just sheerly force its will, even if they have a majority of votes in some cases, that's why there are things like filibusters and other things that give minorities in the Senate some power to slow things up, to hold things up, and let things be aired properly.

Talk Left

April 22, 2005
Who Owns the Weather?


Josh Marshall notes
that Senator Rick "Maddog" Santorum has introduced a bill that would prevent the government from making meteorological data available to the public for free (as it has been here).

The justification? Having this information available free and without ads cuts into the profits of the Weather Channel and AccuWeather.

As Josh points out, the data distributed by NOAA and other government agencies is ours; we paid for it. Our tax dollars paid for every one of the satellites and other gizmos that enable us to have such an amazing handle on our weather. The data that the Weather Channel and AccuWeather sell mostly comes from the government. But they want to sell it back to us.


... apparently they [the companies] add so little added value that they can't handle the competition when the National Weather Service just gives it away. Santorum wants to make these guys into some sort of information age tax farmers.

This article in the Palm Beach Post goes into greater detail on the bill. And you can see from its proponents feeble justifications just what a con this is. They note, for instance, that the bill would not prevent the National Weather Service from alerting the public to imminent disasters, which is awfully generous of them.

Indeed, the executive vice president of AccuWeather, Barry Myers, probably had to have his face specially treated with some sort of fixing agent to prevent him from laughing out loud when he told the Post that the "bill would improve public safety by making the weather service devote its efforts to hurricanes, tsunamis and other dangers, rather than duplicating products already available from the private sector."

Talking Points Memo

More from the Palm Beach Post.

But Barry Myers, AccuWeather's executive vice president, said the bill would improve public safety by making the weather service devote its efforts to hurricanes, tsunamis and other dangers, rather than duplicating products already available from the private sector.

"The National Weather Service has not focused on what its core mission should be, which is protecting other people's lives and property," said Myers, whose company is based in State College, Pa. Instead, he said, "It spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year, every day, producing forecasts of 'warm and sunny.'"

">Palm Beach Post

Listen, dickhead, simply making it illegal for the National Weather Service to share the information it collects with the public does not mean they will stop "producing forecasts of 'warm and sunny'". Forecasting nice weather is sort of part of the science of predicting bad weather. He seems to be implying that the Weather Service, once freed from the drudgery of forecasting the weather can focus their energy only on those situations when dangerous weather activity is happening. Presumably they'll find out that a hurricane is coming by paying a subscription fee to The Weather Channel. They'll be alerted when something is brewing and they can fire up all the expensive machines then.

It's clearly not necessary to say this, because Barry Myers is obviously just a liar, but exposing the data on the web is not a major expense once the data has been collected. No money will be saved by this bill, it's only purpose is to generate profits for these companies.

The Bad Doctor

Bill Frist is getting criticism from the very people he means to stir into a frothy religious bloodlust.

As the Senate battle over judicial confirmations became increasingly entwined with religious themes, officials of several major Protestant denominations on Thursday accused the Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, of violating the principles of his own Presbyterian church and urged him to drop out of a Sunday telecast that depicts Democrats as "against people of faith."


Religious groups, including the National Council of Churches and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, plan to conduct a conference call with journalists on Friday to criticize Senator Frist's participation in the telecast. The program is sponsored by Christian conservative organizations that want to build support for Dr. Frist's filibuster proposal.

Among those scheduled to speak in the conference call is the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, a top official of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., in which Dr. Frist is an active member.

New York Times

Good good. See, not all religious people are certifiably insane, just the ones running the country. It's really way past time for the multitude of "real" religious folks in this country to stand up to these crazies.

Microsoft Shunned Gay Rights Bill Defeated

The story The Stranger reported yesterday about Microsoft caving to gay-haters (post) has been picked up far and wide (The New York Times), but it's too late.

The bill was defeated today in the Washington Senate, again.

Hey Microsoft! Fuck you!

April 21, 2005
Tomasky on DeLay


On successive days in mid-November 2002, Tom DeLay was elected House majority leader, replacing the retired Dick Armey, and Nancy Pelosi was chosen as the House Democrats' leader, succeeding Dick Gephardt. One of those had amassed a capable but relatively quiet record of service in the House of Representatives, stirring controversy only once (by supporting the primary opponent of a longtime congressional incumbent from Michigan). The other had called the Environmental Protection Agency "the Gestapo of government"; had denounced the Nobel Chemistry Prize, after it was given to the discoverers of the link between chlorofluorocarbons and ozone depletion, as the "Nobel Appeasement Prize"; had called CNN the "Communist News Network"; had linked the Columbine High School shootings to birth control and day care; had avoided military service during the height of the Vietnam War in 1969 (reportedly explaining, in 1988, that so many minority youths were going after those well-paying military gigs that there was no room for good folk like himself); had led a fanatical crusade to force votes on articles of impeachment against a president with an approval rating above 70 percent; and had been rebuked (privately) by the House Ethics Committee for attacking a business trade group for daring to hire a former Democratic congressman as its president.

And guess which choice the media said was a calamity?


Tom DeLay, at the time [1974], was a young man with an exterminating business who had indeed won a student deferment (even after a Baylor University dean asked him to sit out one semester, according to Slate) and who was developing a hatred of government so concentrated that it could only be salved by joining it. He was elected to the statehouse in 1978, the first Republican to represent Fort Bend County in the 20th century. Six years later, when the 22nd Congressional District seat opened up, he took it easily. DeLay was badly outnumbered in 1984, when 21 of Texas' 27 members of Congress were Democrats. But he found comrades in Washington -- railing against tyrannical government, the liberal media, the activist judges; the railers were thought to be crazy then.

Well, they're the gummint now, and they have to be taken seriously. And in the obvious ways, of course, they are. But there's one important way in which, oddly, they're still not taken seriously enough: There remains an unwillingness to recognize just how reactionary their agenda is, and to call it what it is. It's a strange thing, because it's hardly as if those on the right have kept their agenda a secret. They've demonstrated many times that they have no patience for civic debate, and seek only to smash the opposition. They want virtually no government protection or regulation for regular people; they've passed virtually no major legislation that serves the public interest, and only legislation that serves corporate and far-right religious interests. In their desire to reintroduce the teaching of creationism in the schools, they want to go back to the 1920s; in their desire to merge state and church, their ideal America looks more like the 1720s.

American Prospect

DeLay Then, DeLay Now
"The time has come that the American people know exactly what their Representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people, the American people, have a right to know...I say the best disinfectant is full disclosure, not isolation."

Tom DeLay - 11/16/95

David Sirota

A Fit Parent


Microsoft Caves to Psychos

The Stranger (full disclosure - I totally run the place) exposes the latest reason to hate Microsoft.

Out here in Washington (somewhere between California and Canada), some form of legislation proposing to add gays to the list of groups protected from discrimination has been proposed, and defeated, for 29 years in a row. For several years, Microsoft has publicly supported the legislation, in keeping with their very progressive corporate policies on homosexuality.

Not this year.

It seems that a "mega-church" preacher by the name of Ken Hutcherson managed to get a meeting with Microsoft top brass, during which he threatened a national bigot boycott of the company if they supported the bill again this year. Shockingly, Microsoft agreed and changed their position on the bill to "neutral," a move that some say could kill the bill's chances of passage.

Naturally, the company's official line is that they are merely reevaluating how and when they will take a position on social issues, and the meeting with Huthcherson was just some kind of crazy coincidence.

From an email sent to The Stranger by a Microsoft spokesperson: "This year we made the decision to focus our resources and efforts on a limited number of issues that most closely align with our business objectives and directly affect our industry."


The weird thing about this story is the boycott threat itself. Is Microsoft really worried that Evangelical Christians across the country are going to suddenly switch to Linux? As a near global monopoly, I don't see what they're scared of, short of bad publicity. And that's probably all it is. And that's scary.

Far-right whackos like Hutcherson think that the re-installation of George Bush in November gives them the power to run around threatening to unleash the religious block on anyone who would dare oppose their plan to drag us all back to the 18th century.

John at Americablog is sufficiently pissed about this, and offers many links and email addresses to folks at Microsoft (scroll to the bottom). Sent them a note, tell them they vastly misplayed this one.

Then go buy a Mac.


UPDATE :: It's worth noting that Ken Hutcherson is a black man, yet he steadfastly refuses to acknowledge any parallels between gay rights and the civil rights movement. It just makes the whole thing worse. Someone whose people have been, and continue to be, terribly discriminated against advocating discrimination against others. Truly sad.

A reader who knows members of Hutcherson's church (Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, WA) writes in with this observation: "I have never met such ridiculous and homophobic people in my life."

Sounds about right.

White House: No More Politics

Bush took time out from the Social Security Road Show to urge Congress to "put aside politics" and just rubber-stamp his nominations already.

"I welcome you to the nation's capital, where sometimes politics gets in the way of doing the people's business," Mr. Bush said early on. "Take John Bolton, the good man I nominated to represent our country at the United Nations.

"John's distinguished career in service to our nation demonstrates that he is the right man at the right time for this important assignment. I urge the Senate to put aside politics and confirm John Bolton to the United Nations."

The New York Times

This silly talking point about "politics" is just dumb. Asking politicians to stop their politickin' is like asking a dog to stop licking his ass. He can't help it, it's part of being a dog.

Nah, that's no good. Colorful, but not so accurate. It's like asking a police officer if he could please just get the job done without wasting time with all that police work.

The Senate's refusal to rush Bolton's nomination through is perfectly legitimate. It's their job. The reason the vote has been delayed is that several Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee have expressed serious reservations about his being the right man for the job. The President, of course, has never done anything that wasn't the exact right decision at the exact right time, so these Senators are obviously working with Osama.

For more on Bolton and the history of long debates over the appointment of previous U.N. ambassadors, see American Progress' rundown.

And then there's this:

The Bush administration's nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations once threw a file folder and a tape dispenser at an American businesswoman in Moscow, disparaged her weight and alleged she was gay in an attempt to get her to withdraw criticism of a foreign-aid project, the woman said Wednesday.

USA Today

Kerry Message, plus Curse Words!

John Kerry has issued a video message today, apparently broadcasting from deep within the Death Star, concerning the recent behavior of Tom DeLay and Bill Frist.


DeLay, of course, is just a scumbag. Frist is going around accusing Democrats of fighting a war on people of faith.

Kerry is pretty stiff and pretty boring, but he's right. These are important times. Pay attention.

Speaking of the rapid erosion of our democracy... Liz and I went to see Ira Glass give a talk last night. He spoke about the recent changes in FCC decency rules. Since the recent "Bono decision," broadcasters can be fined up to half a million dollars for uttering the word "fuck" on the airwaves in any context. The fine can be levied against every station that airs the material, not only the broadcaster. Glass played a portion of a David Sedaris piece about a giant turd, aired about 5 years ago. He noted that if they were to air that piece now on the 500 stations that carry This American Life, the fines could reach a quarter of a billion dollars, far more than the fines levied against all the multinational banks involved in the Enron scandal combined.

For talking about a shit. Not even using the word shit, just talking about poop.

The whole thing is based on the ludicrous notion that hearing these words, or even being exposed to these ideas, "damages children" though sociological studies have found this to be completely ridiculous (see this book), while no one, anywhere, ever, has ever shown that it does actually damage anyone.

The same studies have found that nearly all children already know these words, and they learn them from their parents. Further, they use them in exactly the same ways that adults use them -- for emphasis, when angry, and in other emotional ways.

Think about it.. The FCC's stance on this is actually saying that when you hear the phrase "Fucking Awesome!" you will invariably think of crass, loveless sexual intercourse.

It's patently absurd to anyone with a shred of sense, and yet these are the rules that now govern the public airwaves. Glass pointed out that NPR shows such as his and Fresh Air have recently had to cut words like "pissed" (as in, "he was pissed") and "suck" (as in "that sucks") just to be safe.

It may seem like a trivial issue, but it isn't. Death by a thousand tiny cuts.

April 20, 2005
Bearing the Burden

President Bush signed the new bankruptcy law today, making it much harder for people crippled by medical costs to get a fresh start.

He made some hilarious statements during the signing ceremony. I mean, the guy was on fire.

If someone does not pay his or her debts, the rest of society ends up paying them.

White House

Ha ha ha! Man! That's priceless!

For the record, not that it's relevant or anything, but the national debt has risen by $2.2 trillion since Bush took office. And he's cutting taxes.

Bush wasn't done, though. The laughs kept coming...

The act of Congress I sign today will protect those who legitimately need help, stop those who try to commit fraud, and bring greater stability and fairness to our financial system.


Oh, mercy... Stop it, Mr. President! You're killing me!

Strangely, the President failed to take advantage of the sure-fire laugh lines about how the credit card companies had been campaigning for this bill for years and how the Republicans in Congress (and many Democrats) steadfastly refused to close the massive loopholes in bankruptcy laws used by the rich.

That would have had them rolling in the aisles.

New Rules
For those who did not receive a memo last fall from Army Col. Edward W. Snead, secretary of the Joint Staff, here's a capital idea from the Joint Chiefs:

Subject: Capitalization

1. Effective immediately, the terms Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine will be capitalized in all correspondence. This change is in keeping with the Services' recently announced decisions to capitalize the terms denoting their importance and emphasis on the person, especially in light of the War on Terrorism. This change will create consistent use of these terms especially for correspondence going outside the department.

Washington Post

Ratzinger Intervened in US Election

Hopefully this will be the last thing I have to say about the damn pope for a while. Stupid pope.

Turns out ole' Ratty was part of the group who ordered U.S. bishops to deny communion to abortion rights supporters, including then-candidate John Kerry, calling such support a "grave sin."

He specifically mentioned "the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws," a reference widely understood to mean Democratic candidate Kerry, a Catholic who has defended abortion rights.

The letter said a priest confronted with such a person seeking communion "must refuse to distribute it."

A footnote to the letter also condemned any Catholic who votes specifically for a candidate because the candidate holds a pro-abortion position. Such a voter "would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy communion," the letter read.

Yahoo! News

Strangely, the letter didn't mention the death penalty, which one of the other candidates in the 2004 race is really quite fond of.

April 19, 2005
Habemus Papam

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany has benighted himself Pope Benedict the sixteenth (that's the XVIth for you Romans). I was hoping for a freaky new pope name - Bobby I or Sanchez or Dweezil X or something - but what can you do.. Traditions die hard for these yahoos, as evidenced by the chimney smoke communication system (but not by the cell phone jammers installed in the Sistine Chapel, that's new).

The headline should really be whatever the Latin for "You have a pope" is, instead of "We have a pope," since I don't have no pope, never did - but it's hard to find good Latin dictionaries on the internets.

"Oo-yay ave-hay a-way ope-pay."

That's as close as I can get without trying.

Anyway, new pope. Now can we stop talking about popes for another 25 years or so?

UPDATE :: Habetis Papam - Thanks to John for the Latin primer.

April 18, 2005
Cover Psycho


It's really great to see that TIME magazine has decided to put the person who said this on their cover:

My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.


I hate to give the piece of shit any space on this site - posting that picture made me throw up in my mouth a little - but one more thing must be pointed out.

From the ass-kissing story in TIME:

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.

TIME Magazine

That would be, of course, because the "reporter" didn't actually do any reporting. Googling her name isn't reporting, you dimwit.

Think Progress offers the reporter a leg-up with a quick list of about a dozen outright errors, among thousands.

April 17, 2005
Support the Troops

Why do Republicans hate our veterans?

WASHINGTON — Republicans on Tuesday defeated a Democratic effort to provide almost $2 billion in additional healthcare funding for veterans, rejecting claims that Veterans Affairs hospitals were in crisis.

The proposal was part of an $80.6-billion emergency spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other military costs. The bill is slightly less than the $82 billion President Bush sought and the $81.4 billion approved by the House.

LA TImes

Remember this the next time you see one of those yellow "Support Our Troops" ribbons next to a Bush/Cheney 04 sticker.

American Jihad 2

This time, they're determined to oppose a vaccine that could prevent the majority of deaths from cervical cancer.

DEATHS from cervical cancer could jump fourfold to a million a year by 2050, mainly in developing countries. This could be prevented by soon-to-be-approved vaccines against the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer - but there are signs that opposition to the vaccines might lead to many preventable deaths. The trouble is that the human papilloma virus (HPV) is sexually transmitted. So to prevent infection, girls will have to be vaccinated before they become sexually active, which could be a problem in many countries. In the US, for instance, religious groups are gearing up to oppose vaccination, despite a survey showing 80 per cent of parents favour vaccinating their daughters. "Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV," says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, a leading Christian lobby group that has made much of the fact that, because it can spread by skin contact, condoms are not as effective against HPV as they are against other viruses such as HIV.

"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex," Maher claims, though it is arguable how many young women have even heard of the virus.

New Scientist

So there you go. Preventing thousands of women from dying of cervical cancer is to be opposed because it involves a virus that is spread by sexual contact.

In light of this, there is no reason to expect a different reaction should someone develop an AIDS vaccine. Giving the vaccine might just make people think they can have sex withouth risk of death, so it must be opposed by these lunatics.

In other words, potential deadly consequences to sexual activity are just fine with them. Desirable, even.

Via The Light of Reason.

American Jihad

An ad for the event in which the Senate majority leader will particpating next weekend.

frc ad

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't we ask all witnesses in trials to swear to tell the truth with their hand on the BIBLE and "so help them god"?

Make no mistake, these people fully intent to remake this country as a Christian - a fundamentalist Christian - state.

They must be stopped.

Via Daily Kos.

April 15, 2005
Frist to Join Slanderous Broadcast
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."

The New York Times

This is the worst kind of bullshit. Senator Frist is going to join a group that's specific aim is to perpetuate the myth that conservatives have some kind of a monopoly on faith. Democrats, as everyone knows, are all godless hedonists. He knows very well, as does everyone else involved in this, that this is ridiculous.

The irony, of course, is that if their faith is in fact true, they're all going to hell. I love that part.

"As the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the left has been repudiated in almost every recent election, the courts have become the last great bastion for liberalism," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of the telecast, wrote in a message on the group's Web site. "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the A.C.L.U., have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms."


This is the kind of insane paranoia with which the Senate majority leader is associating himself.

Look, this shows a complete lack of understanding of what "religious freedom" means. I've never heard of a liberal judge, or anyone, trying to restrict Christians' right to practice their religion. What is consistently opposed by judges and courts on both sides of the political spectrum is the imposition of one particular religion on the population.

Erecting a monument to the ten commandments on public property is not an expression of religious freedom, it is a form of religious oppression. Is it so hard for these people to imagine being in the minority? If a religion other than their own was dominant, would they argue for the right for the majority to place monuments to their religion all over the public square? Of course not.

This kind of thing depresses me more than just about anything else these days. The political winds change, and will change again, but the country's freewheeling descent into a theocracy is frankly terrifying.

This is not because I hate religion or I have any problem with Christians being Christians. The problem is that these people are NOT Christians. If Jesus were to come back right now and see what's being done in his name, he would never stop throwing up.

April 14, 2005
Banks and Credit Card Companies Get Their Law
Bankruptcy legislation making it tougher for heavily indebted Americans to wipe out their obligations won final congressional approval on Thursday and is expected to be signed into law soon.

Sought for years by banks and credit card companies that say people are abusing bankruptcy to escape repayment, the measure cleared the House of Representatives on a 302-126 vote. It passed the Senate last month by 74-25.

The bill now goes to President Bush, who wants to sign it into law as part of his legal reform agenda.

Opponents say the bill is too harsh on ordinary Americans, arguing many of those filing for bankruptcy were driven into debt by unemployment, a medical crisis or divorce.

The measure contains an income test to determine if people should enter compulsory repayment plans, rather than have their assets liquidated to repay creditors.

"This bill will help stop fraudulent, abusive, and opportunistic bankruptcy claims by closing various loopholes and incentives that have produced steadily cascading bankruptcy claims," said Wisconsin Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner.


What Rep. Sensenbrenner fails to mention, of course, is that there are very few "fraudulent, abusive or opportunistic" bankruptcy claims. Or that this "cascade" of claims hasn't cost the banking industry a dime, they're making record profits. Nor does he mention that there is no consideration of legislation to curb the predatory and usurious practices of that industry to get people into debt in the first place. Nor the lack of health care that pushes so many working families into bankruptcy as soon as someone gets sick.

No, the real crime to Rep. Sensenbrenner and too many of his colleagues is that magnificently wealthy multinational banks occasionally don't get paid back.


FCC Gets One Right
Television broadcasters must disclose to viewers the origin of video news releases produced by the government or corporations when the material runs on the public airwaves, the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday.

The FCC's ruling comes as video news releases produced by the Bush administration and aired as part of local television news reports have come under attack from critics who call them unlabeled Republican propaganda.

Washington Post

This is good news, but it's not enough. The FCC didn't say what form the disclosures must take, leaving the door open to non-disclosure disclosures. Senators Frank Lautenberg (D - NJ) and John Kerry (D - Loserville) have introduced an amendment to some completely unrelated bill making the requirements more stringent.

The independent Government Accounting Office had previously said that the administration had broken the law by using federal money to fund propaganda.

Shockingly, the Bush administration's Office of Management and Budget disagreed with that finding.

DeLay Tactic

Via The Nation's Daily Outrage, a rundown of criticisms leveled at Tom DeLay and his responses. See if you notice a pattern.

- April 13, 2005, after Republicans Chris Shays, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich questioned DeLay's conduct:

"I'm not here to discuss the Democrats' agenda."

- April 13, 2005, in an interview with the Washington Times:

"Somebody ought to look at the organizations and ask the New York Times, The Washington Post, the LA Times, Time, Newsweek, AP, why they're spending all these resources they are...Are they collaborating with all these organizations that are funded by George Soros and his heavy hitters?"

- April 6, 2005, after the New York Times revealed that DeLay's wife and daughter were on his political payroll:

"It's just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me."

- March 31, 2005, after conservative groups promised to defend DeLay from advertisements run by liberal groups:

"Bring it on. It's nothing but a bunch of leftist organizations that have a public strategy to demonize me, and usually they overreach."

- March 16, 2005, after the Washington Post reported that lobbyists paid for two of DeLay's lavish trips overseas:

"In recent years, there has been a growing frenzy surrounding the ethics committee, with Democrats and their allies attempting to use it as a partisan tool for partisan ends."

- January 6, 2005, after Republicans rescinded their own rule shielding DeLay from a possible criminal indictment by a Texas grand jury:

"There was very little fallout. Most members went home and didn't hear a word, except those with constituents with New York Times subscriptions."

- November 19, 2004, after Republicans passed a rule shielding DeLay from a possible criminal indictment by a Texas grand jury:

"I have never participated in this politics of personal destruction. I think it's detrimental to the institution and to both Democrats and Republicans in the institution. It looks bad for all of us. And so I've never done it."

- October 7, 2004, after DeLay drew his third rebuke from the House Ethics Committee:

"For years, Democrats have hurled relentless personal attacks at me, hoping to tie my hands and smear my name. All have fallen short, not because of insufficient venom but because of insufficient merit."

- September 22, 2004, after three of DeLay's top aides were indicted in Texas:

"This has been a dragged out 500-day investigation, and you do the political math. This is no different than other kinds of partisan attacks that have been leveled against me that are dropped after elections."

- June 29, 2003, after DeLay pushed the Texas legislature to redistrict the state's Congressional seats:

"We know that the Left's malevolent campaign to undermine the notion of truth itself comes at a frightful price. Their malignant hold over the intellectual life of this country must be exorcised, and men and women who are willing to speak the truth offer our only hope of reclaiming our culture from the grip of a hedonistic, reckless and destructive descent into nihilism."

The Nation

1. A psychotic disorder characterized by systematized delusions, especially of persecution or grandeur, in the absence of other personality disorders.

Too Little, Too Late, Bitch

But mostly just too little. How this qualifies as an apology is beyond me.

WASHINGTON -- House majority leader Tom DeLay apologized yesterday for saying federal judges are ''responsible" for the death of Terri Schiavo. But he added that he has asked the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the judges who declined to order that a life-sustaining feeding tube be reinserted for the brain-damaged Florida woman, as part of a broader review of ''judicial activism" that he suggested should extend to the Supreme Court.

At a news conference yesterday, DeLay said Congress retains oversight of the federal courts and should use it to hold judges accountable. He said the Schiavo case, in which federal courts refused to intervene despite extraordinary efforts by Congress and President Bush, warrants particular scrutiny.

''I have asked the Judiciary Committee to look at the Schiavo case and the actions of the judiciary," said DeLay, a Texas Republican. ''The legislative branch has certain responsibilities and obligations given to us by the Constitution. We set the jurisdiction of the courts. We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse. We have oversight of how we spend their money. All of these are oversight tools."

Boston Globe

Nice. So, he's sorry, but he still will use the federal budget to manipulate the court system. Take a civics class, asshole.

DeLay evaded numerous questions, referring reporters instead to the scholarly tome, "Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America."

Lovely. Sounds like a very even-handed critique.

Once again, I'm speechless. Give it up, douche-bag, you're done. Piss right the fuck off.

April 13, 2005
North Dakota Sets Precedent

Hey, some actual good news about legislation regarding your personal information.

Some car manufacturers have begun to install "black boxes" in vehicles without telling you. The boxes record all kinds of stuff - whether you're wearing a seat belt, how fast you're going, etc. North Dakota, in a sadly rare example of protecting citizens from corporations, has ruled that the data in that black box belongs to the car owner.

The legislation essentially gives ownership of the data recorded by the black box to the vehicle owner. Black boxes can disclose whether the owner was wearing a seat belt, vehicle speed and other data. The measure requires a court order before any of that information can be used in court and prohibits insurance companies from requiring access to the black box as a condition for obtaining insurance coverage. North Dakota Republican State Senator Ray Holmberg introduced the measure after learning that the devices were being placed in vehicles without notice.



Don't Think of an Elephant


Explanation for the throngs of people (okay two) who wrote in confused: It doesn't mean anything, I just liked the picture. I didn't hurt my nose, I just had some kind of weird face cleaning tape on it (it's like a porcupine!), and the book Don't Think of an Elephant (recommended) was sitting on my desk.

See how much less fun it is with an explanation?

April 12, 2005

Watch this video clip of William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, on MSNBC's Scarborough Country demanding that gay people apologize to the everyone else for unleashing AIDS.

william donohue

Wow. This guy is totally gay.

We can assume that the "civil rights" in the name of his group refers only to Catholics' civil rights. Straight Catholics, that is.

Wasn't there some big gay child-raping thing with the Catholic church a while back? I seem to remember something...

You'd think something so factually absurd would at least warrant a cursory challenge. Here's what Joe Scarborough had to say:

SCARBOROUGH: All right. Bill Donahue, we'll have to leave it there.

And the debate rages on...

Via Media Matters for America.


Seem like every time you turn around these days, George Bush is saying something about how the economy is growing. He loves to say that. You'll ask him about massive intelligence failures in the buildup to the Iraq War and he'll start prattling on about how the economy is getting better.

I try to avoid hearing him speak myself, but I've still heard him say this kind of thing over and over again.

What he fails to mention, however, is exactly who the economy is growing for. Here's a hint: It's not you.

For the first time in 14 years, the American workforce has in effect gotten an across-the-board pay cut.

The growth in wages in 2004 and the first two months of this year trailed inflation, compounding the squeeze from higher housing, energy and other costs.


Meanwhile, corporate profits hit record highs as companies got more productivity out of workers while keeping pay increases down.

LA Times

Not only are corporate profits up, but CEO compensation is, like, crazy.

... the median salary and bonus for chief executives in office at least two years soared 14.5% last year to $2,470,600.

Wall Street Journal

More DeLay Fun
WASHINGTON -- Fundraisers for a political committee founded by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay routinely solicited donations by identifying legislative actions that prospective givers wanted, from video gambling to lawsuit limits, memos show.

"What companies that you know of would be interested in tort reform in Texas with asbestos problems that might support TRMPAC?" one DeLay fundraiser wrote in a memo prospecting for donors to the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC).


Other TRMPAC fundraising memos mention that Texas racetrack owners needed state permission for video gambling, that banks wanted new Texas home-lending rules and that energy firms wanted less regulation.

Federal law and congressional ethics rules prohibit government officials from connecting political donations to their official actions. DeLay was admonished last year by the House's ethics committee for creating the appearance of connecting energy industry donations with federal legislation.

DeLay spokesman Dan Allen said Monday, "These memos already have been covered in the press and the conclusions being reached are speculative and unsubstantiated. The contention being pushed is unfairly vague."


Ah, so his spokesman is saying 1) This isn't new lawbreaking, this stuff has already been covered, so it should presumably be ignored, and 2) the contentions are "unfairly vague."

Here's the more specific version: HE BROKE THE LAW. LOTS OF TIMES.

April 11, 2005
Tom DeLay's New World Order

Oh my god.

Seriously, what is the matter with this guy? He should be locked up for everyone's protection.

"Judicial independence does not equal judicial supremacy," Mr. DeLay said in a videotaped speech delivered to a conservative conference in Washington entitled "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith."

Now what he really means here is that judicial independence does not equal judicial independence. Judicial independence, in DeLay's view, equals judicial subservience.

Mr. DeLay faulted courts for what he said was their invention of rights to abortion and prohibitions on school prayer, saying courts had ignored the intent of Congress and improperly cited international standards and precedents. "These are not examples of a mature society," he said, "but of a judiciary run amok."

Right. It's not the mark of a mature society to take stock of what the great bulk of civilized humanity is up to. We should by all means completely ignore those terrorist-loving cheese-eaters and rule by the word of GOD, by god. You know, like Iran.

"The response of the legislative branch has mostly been to complain. There is another way, ladies and gentlemen, and that is to reassert our constitutional authority over the courts."

This goes along with that whole "judicial independence" thing. Separation of powers, meaning whichever branches are controlled by Republicans get all the power.

"I believe the judiciary branch of our government has overstepped its authority on countless occasions, overturning and in some cases just ignoring the legitimate will of the people,"

Ha ha ha ha. Damn! Ignoring the will of the people? The balls on this guy are simply tremendous. Why don't we tell the "people" what most of the Republican backed legislation is really about, Tom? See what their will is then. Or if you weren't allowed to call it the Healthy Forest Initiative, if you had to call it what it is, the Cut Down the Forests and Give All the Money to Your Friends Initiative, what then? How about that change in bankruptcy law you guys rammed through last month? Was that the will of the people?

Oh, and by the way, in the Schiavo case, the people were on the courts' side.

And now it gets really scary.

The organizers of the conference and Congressional staff members who spoke there called for several specific steps: impeaching judges deemed to have ignored the will of Congress or to have followed foreign laws; passing bills to remove court jurisdiction from certain social issues or the place of God in public life; changing Senate rules that allow the Democratic minority to filibuster Mr. Bush's appeals court nominees; and using Congress's authority over court budgets to punish judges whom it considers to have overstepped their authority.

"I am in favor of impeachment," Michael Schwartz, chief of staff to Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, said in a panel discussion on abortion, suggesting "mass impeachment" might be needed.

I don't even know what to say in response to that. Help? If you haven't called your representatives about this, Do it now. Call them twice.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the following head-exploding words came out to Tom DeLay's mouth.

"As passionately as we all feel, especially about issues of life and death, the fact is that constitutional rule of law is a matter for serious and rational discussion," he said. "People on all sides of this debate need to approach the issue for what it is: a legitimate debate by people of good will trying to clarify the proper constitutional role of courts."

Serious and rational discussion. Tom DeLay said that. People of good will. DeLay again. He's pure evil.

As for the matter of clarifying the proper role of the courts, that liberal hippie Chief Justice Rehnquist had this to say..

In a recent report, Chief Justice Rehnquist called one such measure [to interfere with the courts' authority] "unwarranted and ill-considered" and said "a judge's judicial acts may not serve as a basis for impeachment."

(All quotes from this article)

Really, call and complain. Enough is enough.

The Culture of Death

Frank Rich, brilliant as always.

What's disturbing about this spectacle is not so much its tastelessness; America will always have a fatal attraction to sideshows. What's unsettling is the nastier agenda that lies far less than six feet under the surface. Once the culture of death at its most virulent intersects with politicians in power, it starts to inflict damage on the living.

When those leaders, led by the Bush brothers, wallow in this culture, they do a bait-and-switch and claim to be upholding John Paul's vision of a "culture of life." This has to be one of the biggest shams of all time. Yes, these politicians oppose abortion, but the number of abortions has in fact been going down steadily in America under both Republican and Democratic presidents since 1990 - some 40 percent in all. The same cannot be said of American infant fatalities, AIDS cases and war casualties - all up in the George W. Bush years. Meanwhile, potentially lifesaving phenomena like condom-conscious sex education and federally run stem-cell research are in shackles.

This agenda is synergistic with the entertainment culture of Mr. Bush's base: No one does the culture of death with more of a vengeance - literally so - than the doomsday right. The "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins all but pant for the bloody demise of nonbelievers at Armageddon. And now, as Eric J. Greenberg has reported in The Forward, there's even a children's auxiliary: a 40-title series, "Left Behind: The Kids," that warns Jewish children of the hell that awaits them if they don't convert before it's too late. Eleven million copies have been sold on top of the original series' 60 million.


We don't know the identity of the corpse that will follow the pope in riveting the nation's attention. What we do know is that the reality show we've made of death has jumped the shark, turning from a soporific television diversion into the cultural embodiment of the apocalyptic right's growing theocratic crusade.

New York Times

The whole thing.

April 9, 2005
Google Maps Fun

Google Maps new satellite image view is sure fun. Everybody's been posting neat pictures, and since I'm drunk and bored, I'm no exception.

Some favorites I've come across...

St. Louis Arch

My High School


Mt. St. Helens

Where I Am Now

Niagara Falls

Some Airplanes in the Desert

Salt Evaporation Pools

April 8, 2005
The Nuclear Option Explained

You may have heard that Senate Republicans are threatening to invoke "the nuclear option" to prevent Democrats from opposing President Bush's judicial nominees. You've probably heard that this is not something we want to happen, or could deduce that from its name.

Here's a nice and simple explanation of how this procedural trickery works and what it would accomplish, from the Progress Report, with help from the People for the American Way.

If at least 41 senators strongly oppose a bill or nominee, they can decide to indefinitely extend debate, blocking a final vote on the issue. That's a filibuster. All it takes is 60 senators to vote the debate is over, and the bill/nominee is sent to the floor. What's the "nuclear option"? Right-wing senators want to change the long-standing rule so a simple majority can end the debate (meaning they could easily stop all filibusters). To change Senate rules, however, you have to have two-thirds of your colleagues behind you. (This ensures one party can't politicize Senate procedure.) In this case, the right wing doesn't have the required 67 senators on its side. Thus, it's time for procedural trickery known as the "nuclear option." Once the next filibuster is set in motion, probably over one of the more extremist judicial nominees, a right-wing senator wanting to activate the "nuclear option" would object, "claiming that the filibuster cannot be used on a judicial nomination." The Senate leader would rule in his favor. That ruling would be appealed, and only a simple majority would be needed to uphold that ruling which, in effect, would change the rule itself. Procedure averted, rule changed, and it all happens without needing two-thirds on your side.

Progress Report

So, basically, Republicans are trying to change a 200 year old rule in the Senate by exploiting a technicality in the rules. Does that seem right to you?

They justify this insanity by claiming that Democrats are unfairly blocking President Bush's nominations, thus making it hard to fill the federal courts with right-wing nutjobs. This is, of course, a load of crap. In fact, during his first term President Bush sent 214 nominees to the Senate, Democrats filibustered only 10. From 1995-2000, Senate Republicans blocked 35% of Clinton's nominees. (Source 1, Source 2)

The role of Congress in the judicial nomination process is to advise and consent. Republicans would like to ignore the "consent" part and just have Congress rubber-stamp every nomination. As usual, their shortsightedness and arrogance is extraordinary. They truly believe that they will forever be the majority, and if they get away with this kind of thing, they may just be.

April 7, 2005
DeLay Roundup

First, here's a nice little summary of the trouble DeLay is in, from the LA Times.

DeLay's troubles began last year, when the ethics committee — the only House panel divided equally between Republicans and Democrats — admonished him three times for using strong-arm political tactics.

The rebukes were unanimous, but DeLay said they were politically motivated.

The House leadership subsequently removed Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.) as the committee's chairman, installed three new Republican members — including two who have donated to DeLay's legal defense fund — and rewrote the committee's rules.

In Texas, three DeLay aides are on trial on charges of campaign-finance violations related to corporate donations to a DeLay political action committee that funneled money to Republican candidates for the state Legislature.

DeLay also has been on the defensive about his relationship with Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist who was close to DeLay and is under investigation by a federal grand jury on suspicion of fraud and public corruption related to his representation of Indian gaming interests.

Investigations are pending before the ethics committee about trips DeLay took to South Korea and Britain that may have been improperly paid for, in one instance by Abramoff and in another by an entity registered as a foreign agent. DeLay has denied that he did anything wrong.

Los Angeles Times

My favorite line: "The rebukes were unanimous, but DeLay said they were politically motivated."

Republicans, naturally, insist that all this is just a political trick of some kind, Democrats have somehow caused all of this to happen.

DeLay, for his part, is just running around accusing everyone he sees as being part of some vast conspiracy to make him appear to be an unethical scumbag.

On CNN yesterday he called it "just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me."

Many Republican lawmakers are standing up to defend DeLay. Roy Blunt of Missouri had this to say: "The things that Tom has been criticized about in one way or another every member of Congress could be criticized about."

Hey! That's awesome! You know what? Maybe all of you lying ass sons of bitches should be indicted then! What the hell is the matter with you?

It's no wonder Republican members are rallying to DeLay's side, as they've been publicly threatened with loss of major support if they don't...

"You and I must do all we can to make sure any politician who hopes to have conservative support … had better be in the forefront as we attack those who attack Tom DeLay."

Morton C. Blackwell

LA Times

As for the grand conspiracy against DeLay, Nancy Pelosi, that paragon of liberal attack dog politics herself, weighed in...

"I can't comment on this. A, I didn't read about them and, B, the specifics of any ethical behavior I think are the proper responsibility of the House Ethics Committee."

New York Times

Whoa there! Take it easy, you wild-eyed, angry liberal!

UPDATE :: Here's a nice roundup of editorials from around the country on DeLay. Summary: He's not so popular.

April 6, 2005
Cornyn Jumps the Shark

Senator John Conyn (R - TX) on the floor of the Senate today..

I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence.

Think Progress

Video clip of his statement.

Wow. In light of the reaction Tom DeLay's recent threats have received, this guy either has some serious balls, or is just a monumental idiot.

I'm sure he'd like us to think it's the former, but it's not.

What, exactly, is he hoping to accomplish by "wondering" in the Senate whether there is some relationship between judicial opinions he disagrees with and judges and their families being threatened with violence and/or actually killed?

It's all carefully phrased as an analysis and not a direct provocation to violence, but it still amounts to a tacit justification and a thinly veiled threat.

One would expect that our leaders, mere weeks after a judge's husband and mother were murdered, would stake out firm ground on the side of the judges over the murderers, but not Senator Cornyn. He can sort of see where they're coming from. He could have made perfectly clear that, while we may disagree with some decisions made by the courts, there is absolutely no excuse for threats or violence against judges. We are a nation of laws. But he didn't say that, did he?

It reminds me of nothing more than the mob offering protection to the neighborhood businesses.

"We're not saying you gotta pay us the money, see, but let's just say that this other guy -- you remember Angelo? -- he didn't pay, and one day he turns up a little bit dead. That's all I'm gonna say. Capisce?"


He doesn't want to see them killed, or maimed, or assaulted. He's trying to save them. Trying to warn them. Warning them that unless they change their ways someone -- someone who has nothing to do with John Cornyn or the Texas cabal running the country, mind you -- just might decide to do something crazy. But here's Cornyn offering a safe harbor. Confirm all of Bush's nominees, no matter how incompetent, corrupt, or inept they are, no matter how unsound their view of the constitution. And for the others, try to conform your views to those of Bush's new appointees. Do it and you'll be safe. If you don't do it, well, then, certainly John Cornyn wouldn't advocate killing you, he's just pointing out that it will happen.

Matthew Yglesias

April 5, 2005
Frist Distances Hisself
Frist, R-Tenn., declined to join with conservatives who have complained about the federal court system in relation to the Schiavo case. 'I believe we have a fair and independent judiciary today,' he said.

AP, via Think Progress

Naturally, this is new territory for the good doctor. That is to say, he's full of shit.

Less than a month ago...

One of the first tasks we will have is this whole confirmation of judges. This is at the top of the challenges that we must overcome in this Congress. We all know that activist judges in the past have recently cited international law written by U.N. bureaucrats. They directly undermine marriage being between a man and a woman. They struck down our partial-birth abortion bans. And these activist judges are not interpreting the Constitution. They're rewriting it, and that's wrong. And it's something that I know you're committed to, and I'm committed to… We know we're right and we want to win. We want to protect marriage from activist judges once and for all and we will do it.

Think Progress


NASA has succeeded in creating a robotic James Spader head.

james spader robot head

Video Clip.

Here's another, longer and very strange clip of a female robot head named "Eva" talking to some people.

Freakin' me out.

Via Cool Gov

DeLay v. Judges, Round 2
"We have unaccountable, out of control judiciary. We are after them," DeLay said. "The Constitution gives us (Congress) the responsibility to create courts. If we can create them, we can uncreate them," he said.

Fort Bend/ Southwest Sun

DeLay's Going Down

From the horse's ass.. err, mouth.

DeLay gave an elaborate response to a question on "how can he help fight the liberal media.." "There is a concerted, publicly announced strategy. It is not about me, but what I stand for and I have accomplished. I just happen to be the focus. It is a huge fight. George Soros is behind this and millions of dollars have been raised. But, they have a problem. They can't find anything that I have done wrong," De Lay said.




WASHINGTON, April 5 - The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state of Texas.

New York Times

And here...

WASHINGTON - A six-day trip to Moscow in 1997 by then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was underwritten by business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the trip arrangements.

DeLay reported that the trip was sponsored by a Washington-based nonprofit organization. But interviews with those involved in planning DeLay's trip say the expenses were covered by a mysterious company registered in the Bahamas that also paid for an intensive $440,000 lobbying campaign...

Raw Story

It also seems that someone is fudging his poll numbers for him..

More to come! This is going to be fun.

April 4, 2005
Cheney on DeLay

You know if Dick "Go Fuck Yourself" Cheney thinks your statements are out of line, you've really gone too far.

Cheney said he backed efforts to help save Terri Schiavo's life, but strongly disagreed with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who wants retribution against judges who blocked restoration of her feeding tube.

"I don't think that's appropriate . . . There's a reason why judges get lifetime appointments."

New York Post

Via Think Progress.

April 2, 2005
Catholics Shepherd-less

The pope is dead.

So is chicken magnate Frank Purdue.

I'm not much for popes, but as far as popes go, this guy was sort of alright. At least he stood up to George Bush over Iraq and apologized for the crusades and the holocaust. It is interesting to watch all the coverage on the TV and consider how anti-Catholic this country was only 40 years ago or so. Seems all about the Catholic now.

It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.

DeLay's Threat

You may have read how Tom DeLay said on Thursday that "the time will come for the men responsible" for the death of Terri Schiavo "to answer for their behavior," a remark that has been widely interpreted as a thinly veiled threat against federal judges.

So far, DeLay has refused to apologize or clarify exactly what he meant.

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg thinks DeLay's statement may amount to a felony, violating a law which states: "'Whoever threatens to assault.... or murder, a United States judge... with intent to retaliate against such… judge.... on account of the performance of official duties, shall be punished [by up to six years in prison]."

I'm not sure if his statement was specific enough as to violate that law, but maybe we should let a judge or a jury decide. There is no doubt, though, that what he said was irresponsible and displayed a truly alarming lack of respect for the judiciary branch from a member of Congress.

Again, I can't wait to see this guy go to jail. It really seems like it's only a matter of time.


I love this headline..

Global Flock Prepares for the Loss of Its Shepherd

The pope will be dead any minute now, and Catholics worldwide won't have anyone to tell them what to think or do, at least until the next guy is installed in some kind of secret process.

The Times has an interesting graphic showing what happens in the nine days, called the Novendiales, following a pope's death.

My favorite part is on day 1, when the Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, or camerlengo, "may or may not follow the traditional practice of tapping the pope's forehead with a silver mallet." What's up with that?

Anyway, as it was with Terri Schiavo, I don't quite understand all the grief from the devoutly religious, primarily because according to their beliefs, death for the super godly isn't a bad thing. The pope is going to be with Jesus now, right? Isn't it "god's will"? Why pray for his earthly suffering to continue as long as possible? Let him go.

Bye bye, pope. I hardly knew ye. Scratch that, I didn't know ye at all.

UPDATE : As pointed out by Laurel and seconded via email by Frank of Luxembourg, the whole silver hammer thing must be the same thing referenced in the Beatles' song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer."

Bang bang Maxwell's silver hammer came down upon his head.
Bang bang Maxwell's silver hammer made sure he was dead.
April 1, 2005
April Fool's Day Geeky Joke Roundup


Google Gulp!

podShave and podShve Lady

That's it, I'm done. As you were.