Monday, October 31, 2005

Well, this sounds encouraging:

Research Finds Gel May Help Prevent AIDS

...A paper due for publication this week in the journal Nature found that a combination of three drugs applied topically in monkeys prevented infection with a virus similar to the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS. The results are among the most promising to date in tests of this approach and point toward a prevention strategy that could save many lives.

The International Partnership for Microbicides, a Silver Spring group working to bring a preventive gel to women at risk of AIDS in poor countries, said Monday it had struck deals with Merck & Co. and with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

...Scientists at the partnership hope to create a safe but powerful combination product that a woman could apply as long as several hours before sex, with or without the knowledge of her partner....

I hope this works out. I hope it's safe and effective. (In monkey tests, a three-drug gel seems to be highly effective in blocking the simian equivalent of HIV.)

And then I hope distribution of the gel isn't limited because certain God-botherers in America think it will encourage promiscuity. Recently, U.S.-funded programs in Uganda, for instance, have been removing information about condoms from AIDS-prevention curricula, while access to condoms has been reduced. If a gel is developed, it won't be available for a while -- it will be after Bush leaves office -- but there's no guarantee that his successor will be less in the pocket of the religious right. So could access to an anti-AIDS gel be similarly curtailed?

Remember, a former Focus on the Family medical analyst has been put on the government panel that will decide how widespread the distribution of an upcoming cervical cancer vaccine will be in this country. That's modern America.

On the right side of the Internet, there's a strikingly broad range of opinions on the Alito nomination:

I think that at this moment, many, many conservatives, confident that the American people want judges to be judges, and not legislators, are stretching, flexing their muscles, and pounding the chest, whispering menacingly, "Bring. It. On."

--Jim Geraghty at National Review Online

If, as expected, the Kennedy-led, mindless-Reid cabal is intent on all out war pitting the Left against the Right, then bring it on.

--BAH at A Certain Slant of Light

If there is going to be a battle between liberals and conservatives, it'll happen now. Bring it on.

--Bob Mendenall at Bob Blog!

But if it’s a fight for what’s right, I say, bring it on.


The Demos are making noises about a filibuster. Bring it on.

--Daisy Cutter

Bring it on Schummer, Kennedy and Biden.

--Dick McDonald at The Right Scale

Bring it on.

--Bill Nienhuis at PunditGuy


Mike B. at useless! worthless! insipid!


--marc at Hubs and Spokes

It's War

Bring it on, libs.

--thoughtomator at thoughtomation

Bring it on liberals!!!

--Jim Wickre

It's Time For The Left To Bring It On

--Richard at Hyscience

And to the Left -- Bring it on!

--Mark Jakubik at Legal Right

And Democrats ... Bring.  It.  On. 

--Mike's Noise

In John Kerry's own words, "Bring It On!"

--Blanton at

In the words of President Bush….Bring It On!

--Don from Lake Ronkonkoma at Mark Levin Fan

To quote our Commander-in-Chief: "Bring it on."

--Alex, commenting at Political Aurora

Now I'm pumped up. Bring. It. On!

--jkelly at Irish Pennants

Time To Begin Taking It Back, So Bring It On...

--Fits at Shooting the Messenger

I say, "Bring it on, lefties!"

--Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia * Pro Familia * Pro Civitate

Bring it on! I'm making popcorn.

--Dan Burrell at Whirled Views

I say bring it on, this fights overdo.....long overdo

-- Traderrob at OpiniPundit

I mean, ever since the wussy Miers nomination we've all been itching for a fight with those baby-killin', sodomizin' lefties.

Bring it on.

--usmcgunny68 at The List of Sicilian Messinger

El nuevo lema de la derecha es:


--Issidro Beccar at Argepundit ("Este es un blog de dos argentinos expatriados ... desde una perspectiva conservadora y católica")
Oh, meanwhile, six American troops were killed in Iraq today.

October is the 4th-worst month for U.S. casualties since the start of the war.
I know you hate the gloom and doom, but here's something else that disturbs me -- the Rasmussen poll:

Monday October 31, 2005--Forty-five percent (45%) of American adults now approve of the way George W. Bush is performing his role as President. That's up five points since Harriet Miers withdrew from consideration as a Supreme Court nominee. It's also the President's highest level of Approval in two weeks.

Overall, 54% of Americans Disapprove of the President's performance including 39% strongly disapprove.

The President's Approval rating is at 78% among Republicans, 18% among Democrats, and 35% among those not affiliated with either major party....

Let's look at that another way: it's up five since Fitzmas. (Bush was at 40% on Friday.)

And if Bush is only at 78% among Republicans in this morning's results, before the Alito announcement, I think he's going to be around 90% with members of his party in post-announcement polling. (Right-wingers are just beside themselves right now, are they're slavering in anticipation of a huge fight.) And if I'm right about that and other polls show similar results, that becomes the story: Bush polling at about 50% again -- Bush, in other words, bouncing back.

The problem is, nothing from the Democratic Party, or from outside the party among liberals, seized the public's imagination in the weeks of Katrina/the 2000th fatality/Miers. If I seem gloomy, it's because I'm frustrated: It's not enough to wait for Patrick Fitzgerald to save us, or for Bush and the GOP far right to destroy themselves -- someone on our side actually has to do something. In this bad period for Bush, what did we get besides Democrats furrowing their brows over a new slogan: Should it be "Together, We Can Do Better" or "Together, America Can Do Better"? If there was any substance, any new agenda, I missed it.

American politics is not going to change until there's something for it to change to. If we think it's going to just happen, if we think the American public will just spontaneously discover its inner leftist out of sheer disgust, then we're living in a dream world, rather than the real world, in which liberal ideas and the word "liberal" have been demonized for decades. Nothing's going to change until that demonization gets some pushback.
Do you think America will rise up in outrage to oppose a Supreme Court nominee who said it was constitutionally OK to strip-search a ten-year-old who wasn't the subject of the search warrant in question?

Oh, I don't know -- the last guy who got confirmed said it was legally OK to arrest and handcuff a 12-year-old who was eating french fries on the subway, and nobody gave a crap.
You know what this tells me? That Karl Rove isn't going to be indicted. He's back in charge. Miers was swiftly withdrawn and this nomination was put forward with Prussian efficiency. The troubles of last week are now encased in amber as Bush's "bad week." The GOP base is reunited and reenergized. I don't think a Roveless Bush could have pulled this off. So put down the Fitzmas champagne and gird your loins. These guys are back.
Forget it -- the Democrats won't mount a successful fight over Samuel Alito. Three reasons:

(1) He's regarded as highly qualified.

(2) He was confirmed unanimously in 1990 when Bush the Elder appointed him to the federal appeals court.

(3) He's being touted as a "nice guy" (or so a liberal attorney on NPR just said a few minutes ago).

That's all it going to take -- this guy is going to make it.

If Bush had picked, say, Edith Jones, who denounced Roe from the bench in no uncertain terms, there might be a fight. But the gist of Alito's dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey was about spousal notification. It would be silly to think that he's any less anti-abortion than Jones -- but what will be said about Alito and abortion is that he has supported one particular restriction on abortion. This isn't enough to rally big numbers of ordinary voters. Liberals aren't like the NRA -- we don't all immediately conclude that all abortion rights are in jeopardy whenever one aspect of abortion rights is threatened; we can't successfully rally the faithful under those circumstances. So forget it -- it's over.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

It's interesting that David Brooks's diatribe on alleged Democratic paranoia with regard to Plamegate appears in the same edition of The New York Times as a review of The Assassins' Gate, George Packer's book about the Iraq disaster. A bit of the review:

...Part of the problem was the brutal and debilitating struggle between the State Department and the Defense Department, producing an utterly dysfunctional policy process. The secretary of the Army, Thomas White, who was fired after the invasion, explained to Packer that with the Defense Department "the first issue was, we've got to control this thing - so everyone else was suspect." The State Department was regarded as the enemy....

... State Department officials were barred from high posts in Baghdad, even when they were uniquely qualified....

Packer describes in microcosm something that has infected conservatism in recent years. Conservatives live in fear of being betrayed ideologically. They particularly distrust nonpartisan technocrats - experts - who they suspect will be seduced by the "liberal establishment." The result, in government, journalism and think tanks alike, is a profusion of second-raters whose chief virtue is that they are undeniably "sound." ...

You want to talk about "the paranoid style in American politics," David? Start there.
Matt Drudge quotes David Brooks's latest New York Times column, which concerns the alleged paranoia of Bush's opponents:

..."Leading Democratic politicians filled the air with grand conspiracy theories that would be at home in the John Birch Society."

"Why are these people so compulsively overheated?.. Why do they have to slather on wild, unsupported charges that do little more than make them look unhinged?

Brooks quotes from an essay written 40 years ago by Richard Hofstadter called "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." ...

"The paranoid spokesman," Hofstadter wrote, "sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms -- he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization." Because his opponents are so evil, the conspiracy monger is never content with anything but their total destruction."

Maybe I'm stating the obvious, but wasn't this precisely the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Chalabi/Mylroie/Niller/PNAC/Bush administration stance toward Saddam's Iraq? That he wasn't merely a brutal megalomaniac who wanted to be the big gun in the region (never mind the fact that, in the wake of Iraq War I and the sanctions, inspections, and no-fly zones, he found even that goal impossible) -- that, in fact, he was so evil that failure to destroy him would mean destruction of the world as we know it?

In the column itself, Brooks quotes Hofstadter at greater length:

Thus, "even partial success leaves him [the paranoid] with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes."

Isn't this exactly how the people who got us into this war felt after the first Gulf war?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Wow -- I guess even the troops are now sandal-wearing peacenik America-haters....

More than half the North Carolina military members surveyed in the latest Elon University poll don't like the way President Bush is handling his job and the war in Iraq....

Of the 539 adults surveyed, nearly 53 percent of military members said they strongly disapproved or disapproved of Bush's handling of his job. And 56 percent of that same group said they strongly disapproved or disapproved of his handling of the Iraq war....

--WCNC (Charlotte, N.C.)/AP

The pollsters also point this out:

Among citizens who are the parent, sibling or relative of a current member of the military, 53 percent said the U.S. should not be in Iraq, compared with 50 percent among those without a military relative.

Yup -- their opposition to the war is greater than the general public's.

Bush's overall approval in North Carolina is down to 41% -- and 11-point drop since March. In 2004, Bush beat Kerry 56%-44%.

(First link via DU.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Weird story:

Strong, Sweet Smell Reported in Manhattan

New York City has many odors, but when the city began to smell a little too good, New Yorkers became alarmed.

Residents from the southern tip of Manhattan to the Upper West Side nearly 10 miles north called a city hot line to report a strong odor Thursday night that most compared to maple syrup, The New York Times reported Friday....

Air tests haven't turned up anything harmful, but the source was still a mystery....

"It's like maple syrup. With Eggos (waffles). Or pancakes," Arturo Padilla told The Times as he walked in Lower Manhattan. "It's pleasant."


This is true. I smelled it last night (as did this guy). I didn't even think it was an odor -- I thought it some weird sinus thing.

Before Michelle Malkin picks up the story and concocts some bizarre theory about border-jumping Islamofascist terrorist waffle-makers, let me assure you that I feel fine.

(Link via Memeorandum.)
I know only Plamegate stories are allowed in the blogosphere right now, but this caught my eye:

Births to Unmarried U.S. Women Set Record

Nearly 1.5 million babies, a record, were born to unmarried women in the United States last year, the government reported Friday....

There were 1,470,152 babies born to single women in 2004, 35.7 percent of all births in the country, NCHS said. That was up from 1,415,995 a year earlier....

The oral-sex-free aura of moral goodness emanating from God's Own President in the White House doesn't seem to be reaching the populace. Baffling.

(The study is from the National Center for Health Statistics. You might want to take a look at this chart from NCHS. Notice that the percentage of U.S. births that were out of wedlock stayed pretty close to a plateau during the Clinton years, rising only slightly. The rate of increase has picked up since Bush took office. But a real increase seemed to take place from 1980 through the early '90s -- the Ronald Reagan/Poppy Bush years.)
Favorite reaction so far, from National Review's Tim Graham:

The idea that a Libby indictment would require all three networks to go live in the middle of soaps is bizarre.

Yeah, it's just a five-count indictment of a top aide to the vice president of the United States in what will probably be an ongoing investigation of other White House aides and officeholders that directly concerns a broadly unpopular war based on lies. What's the big deal?
I don't buy the argument that right-wing attacks on Harriet Miers were sexist, or lookist. Would the organized guardians of the right-wing faith have given a pass to a less-than-conservatively-correct man (think Alberto Gonzales), or a babe lacking conservative bona fides? I don't think so. Consider the chilling key passage of the Wall Street Journal op-ed that appeared under Rush Limbaugh's byline on Monday:

This is no "crackup." It's a crackdown. We conservatives are unified in our objectives. And we are organized to advance them. The purpose of the Miers debate is to ensure that we are doing the very best we can to move the nation in the right direction.

"Crackdown"? This is "political correctness" way beyond what's ascribed to liberals. The attack on Miers wasn't sexism or lookism, it was right-wing Maoism. It was a reminder to the president that, as far as the Supreme Court is concerned, even the possibility of Incorrect Thinking will not be tolerated.
Man, overt right-wing racism is all the rage all of a sudden. reports:

Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry apologized Wednesday for racial remarks he made a day earlier.

DeBerry, 67, who has been the coach of Air Force for 22 years, was reprimanded but not fired by the service academy....

During his weekly media briefing Tuesday, which followed Air Force's 48-10 Mountain West Conference loss to TCU over the weekend, DeBerry mentioned that the Horned Frogs "had a lot more Afro-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did."

"It just seems to me to be that way," he continued. "Afro-American kids can run very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me that they run extremely well." ...

As USA Today notes:

DeBerry was forced last November to remove a banner in the team's locker room that read in part, "I am a member of Team Jesus Christ."

Meanwhile, as I mentioned briefly last night, Chris Craddock, a GOP candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, made a few rather startling comments to a high school government class, according to students in the class:

... Craddock told the class he had a friend who'd studied in Africa and told him the reason there's an AIDS epidemic there is because "Africans will have sex with anything that has a pulse."

Craddock went on to assert that he was misquoted:

Regarding his comments about African sex, Craddock said, "Sex runs wild in Africa. One of my best friends went to Africa and got her doctorate from Johns Hopkins [University] studying the AIDS culture in Zimbabwe. And she said one of the main reasons [there's so much AIDS there] is that sex is just rampant in Zimbabwe."

"Read any study that deals with the problems of AIDS in Africa and you'll see that," he said.

In teacher Cynthia Szwajkowski['s] class, said Craddock, "I said sex runs rampant over there and that insane amounts of unprotected sex produces HIV." Furthermore, he stressed, "I was not talking about anybody here or black people [in general]. I was talking about a specific circumstance. If you have sex with anything with a pulse, AIDS is going to spread."

Oh -- that clears that up.

And from beyond the grave:

Former president Richard Nixon considered Ugandan dictator Idi Amin an "ape" and mistrusted his own State Department as "always on the side of the blacks," according to documents made public this week....

The pair [Nixon and Henry Kissinger] were also left fulminating and frustrated by the 1972 slaughter of an estimated 150,000-200,000 Hutus in an outbreak of tribal violence in Burundi.

"I'm getting tired of this business of letting these Africans eat a hundred thousand people and do nothing about it," Nixon fumed in the September 24 phone call....

(Links via Democratic Underground and AMERICAblog.)


UPDATE: I should also have noted another element of Chris Craddock's worldview:

"When we asked him about gay marriage, he said he believes nobody's born gay — they turn gay," said senior Natalie McLarty, 17. "He said, in his experience, from the gay males he's known, there are three ways to become gay: You don't have a father figure in your life, you have an abusive father figure or you have no loving support in your family."

"I was extremely offended because one of my relatives is gay, so that's an assumption he's making about my family," she said. "I don't know where he's getting his statistics, but I know a ton of people who are gay, and they have father figures and love and support in their family. He's young, and I don't know where he's getting these old-fashioned concepts."

SoCalPundit highlights this quote in a post headlined "The New Thought Police Get Younger All The Time" SoCalPundit adds this brilliant gloss:

I fail to see how having a gay relative is something to get offended over. Everyone is allowed to have their opinion and the students did ask for his.

We need to undo the speech codes that have been woven into the scene lest it one day become illegal to have an opinion that varies from that of the liberal line.

You may not agree with Craddock and you may even hate what he said, but in a free country you do not have the right to stop him from saying it. The students that brought this matter to the media clearly want Craddock punished for his opinion. It is a horrible civics lesson to teach these young minds to lash out at people who do not share their opinion on a given matter.

Problem is, there's no evidence whatsoever in the linked article or the follow-up that the students "want Craddock punished for his opinion." (The follow-up does note, however, that Craddock supporters "called and tried to prevent" the first article "from being published.")

Craddock is running for office; if people choose not to vote for him after reading these comments, is that SoCalPundit's idea of "thought police"-style "punishment"? SoCalPundit, you're the thought police wannabe -- you don't think those kids have a right to disagree openly with Craddock.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

News from upstate New York:

KINGSTON - Police are investigating the distribution of laminated cards bearing swastikas that were left on cars and driveways at several Kingston school district building in an apparent effort to promote a white supremacist and anti-Semitic Web site.

Superintendent of Schools Gerard Gretzinger said the cards - measuring a little over 3 by 4 inches - have been left in front of both Kingston High School and district elementary schools....

The cards include a Web site address for Vanguard News Network....

I bring this up only because I couldn't resist wandering over to the site, and, bizarrely, there are movie reviews -- dozens of them. Want to read a racialist take on Death to Smoochy? Here you go:

"Death to Smoochy" gives us a "what if" scenario, based loosely on the scandal that caused Jew pervert Paul Reubenfeld [aka Pee-Wee Herman] to fall from grace.... The film is full of brain-spinning visuals, punchy one-liners and the kind of morbid humor we've come to expect from DeVito, who, although married to Jewess Rhea Perlman, is not a Jew.


(David Duke used to post movie reviews just like this at -- they're gone now, alas. Years ago you might have seen excerpts of his McHale's Navy review in the Readings section of Harper's.)


I was going to say that as much as I complain about modern Republicans, the true racists are in a different league altogether -- but then I read this:

"Africans will have sex with anything that has a pulse," says GOP candidate for Virginia House of Delegates

Charming. What is wrong with these people? (And it says here that this candidate is also a youth pastor.)
Here's a key part of the Bush plan to deflect attention from any indictments, according to the L.A. Times (story also available via Yahoo News):

Whenever possible, Bush and other administration officials would try to change the subject. Among the issues the president plans to put atop his new agenda are spending restraint, tax changes and immigration.

Do the Bushies really think this would work?

"Spending restraint": This means budget cuts, inevitably to popular programs, since it's clear that Congress doesn't want to cut pork and it's unthinkable that Bush will rescind the tax cuts. Now, it's one thing for Congress and the president to agree on painful cuts when the public's attention is elsewhere; it's another thing for a president to campaign openly for such cuts. How does that help reverse Bush's slide in the polls?

"Tax changes": In other words, eliminating or curtailing deductions, such as the home mortgage deduction. Same potential to alienate ordinary voters.

"Immigration": The problem here is that Bush wants a guest-worker program and lots of Americans -- in particular, voters in the GOP base -- really just want him to seal the borders. Unless he reverses course and starts talking like a Minuteman, a Bush push for immigration reform might alienate his loyalists in much the way the Miers nomination did.

I think it's quite possible that Bush could get back into the game -- but if he does so, he'll do it by getting his base angry at his opponents. This isn't going to get the job done.
John at AMERICAblog says:

The GOP just lost all of their Supreme Court talking points. Who in the GOP is going to be able to stand up with a straight face and say "every nominee deserves an up or down vote"?

Who? Everybody, John. They're all going to say that Miers wasn't blocked at all, because there was never a vote or a hearing in the Senate. They're going to say that a Democratic filibuster is very, very different, and utterly beyond the pale.

Now, they may not get away with it. The Democrats should still plan to filibuster the upcoming Federalist Society extremist, and argue that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. It might work. But, John, don't count on it. Centrist opinion-mongers (Nicholas Kristof? David Broder? Richard Cohen?) will quite possibly join right-wingers in arguing, essentially, that the borking of Miers wasn't obstructionism but a filibuster of a wingnut is.

John goes on to say:

Yes, Bush will pick a wack-job for the next nominee, even though he knows the wack-job won't be confirmed. Bush will fight for his nominee, blah blah blah, and the nomination will fail. Then Bush will say, see, I tried - then he'll nominate Alberto Gonzales, who the religious right hates, and get him confirmed. Bush will be able to argue that he gave the religious right want they wanted and it just didn't work. Oh well, time for Alberto.

...all of this makes me very very very happy...

Alberto "I Heart Torture" Gonzales on the Supreme Court? That makes you happy? Say it ain't so, John. Fortunately, if Bush ignores his masters a second time and nominates Gonzales, there is a 0% chance of his confirmation -- it will be a shot-for-shot remake of the Miers fiasco, because the religious right will not accept him.
Two comments from National Review's Corner:

It's time for our liberals friends to worry. If the president picks a solid nominee, the base -- meaning Republican Party loyalists and conservative activists -- will be united, reinvigorated, and ready for battle. At least that's the indication from my radio audience. And frankly, as an aside, there's another event that is uniting them, and that's their growing resentment toward Patrick Fitzgerald. Positive press profiles aside, they increasingly view him as a threat to the presidency, and are not much impressed with all the talk in the media about possible indictments for perjury or false statements over emails or memory lapses....

Democrats may crow today about whatever they think they've gained from the Miers pullout--maybe a very short-term sense of triumph, but I'm not sure what else. Do they really hope they're going to see another nominee from this president who is more amenable to their views? Or less able to participate in conservative jurisprudence at the very highest level? Granted, it would have been difficult for them to
embrace Miers. But it's conservatives who belong in the winners circle here, not Democrats.

Obviously, that second one is off base -- the Democrats didn't make the Miers withdrawal happen.

But ignore that. Miers was splitting the Republicans just when they needed to pull it together to react to whatever Fitzgerald's about to do. I really thought Bush might dig in his heels and let the hearings take place; it would have been a rough November for Republicans if they were still fighting over Miers just after a Fitzgerald indictment or two. Now I'm afraid they'll rally around whatever Federal Society member Bush nominates, and they might be able to stir up anger in the general public (or at least among the base) in response to Fitzgerald -- whom they'll describe the way we described Ken Starr.

Don't count these SOBs out.

At the very least, though, I hope the Democrats dig in their heels and resist the new nominee, and respond to any criticism of their resistance by saying, "What -- it's OK for Republicans to bork Harriet Miers but it's not OK for us to bork Edith Jones/Priscilla Owen/Michael Luttig/whoever?"

Right-wing pressure groups tell Bush what to do. He does it.

As LBJ might have said, right-wing pressure groups have Bush's pecker in their pocket.

Bush isn't the president. Bush is a clerk who thought he was the president. Bush is allowed to act like the president only so long as he does what he's expected to do by the real presidents -- pressure groups. plutocrats, Cheney and his ideological soul mates.

Usually Bush is eager to play along. This time he got out of line. He failed the pressure groups' litmus test. People like Phyllis Schlafly and David Frum didn't have to take that, so they gave him a good spanking.

He'll know better next time.


So is there any significance in the timing of this? Is he planning to announce a replacemenmt tomorrow, to blunt the impact of whatever Patrick Fitzgerald might do?


UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg reminds Bush that he could be spanked again:

That is my only advice to Bush right now. No Gonzales, a thousand times no Gonzales.

From Goldberg, maybe, this is advice. The rest of the pressure-group community has already made it clear that it's a direct order, and Bush up to now has dutifully obeyed it.

NPR just did a story about what ordinary Iraqis do during Ramadan. In the evening, the family profiled in the story watches a TV show in which popular Iraqi entertainers go to people's homes and ask them quiz questions.

A top prize for answering correctly?

A generator.

People seem to enjoy this show. At least they do if the power doesn't go out.

(Audio here.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tell me again how the era of GOP dominance is almost over:

House Republicans voted to cut student loan subsidies, child support enforcement and aid to firms hurt by unfair trade practices as various committees scrambled to piece together $50 billion in budget cuts....

President Bush met with House and Senate GOP leaders and said he was pleased with the progress....

"I encourage Congress to push the envelope when it comes to cutting spending," Bush said....

The House Education and the Workforce panel, for example, ... impose[d] new fees on students who default on loans or consolidate them and higher fees on parents who borrow on behalf of their college-age children....

The Ways and Means Committee approved on a party-line vote a plan [that] ... includes $3.8 billion in cuts to child support enforcement....

The bill also would tighten eligibility standards for foster care assistance in nine states and delay some lump-sum payments to very poor and elderly beneficiaries of Social Security's Supplemental Security Income program.

Minority Democrats opposed virtually everything that was done, saying Wednesday's actions are part of a broader GOP budget blueprint that also calls for $106 billion in new tax cuts over the next five years....


This is how brazen they are when they're getting slammed in the polls and are facing multiple investigations and indictments. They have no fear of the Democrats, they have no fear of the dewy-eyed idealists in their own party who thought they might cut some actual pork if asked nicely, and they certainly have no fear of the wrath of ordinary citizens. Why worry? Nothing's ever hurt them yet. The Democrats, by contrast, are timid when they're actually in charge. (Or so I seem to recall -- it's a fading memory.)

"Only 2,000."

"A bogus number."

How right-wingers honor our war dead.
Some dogs just can't resist rotting animal carcasses or vomit; the human equivalent is apparently Pat Robertson's CBN News, which joins a quest by other right-wing rabble-rousers to persuade a conservative public that an Oklahoma University student who committed suicide was actually an Islamist terrorist:

Has terrorism returned to the Oklahoma City area? That is what folks in Norman have been asking, ever since a 21-year-old student at the University of Oklahoma killed himself in what some are calling an attempted homicide bombing.

On Saturday, October 1, engineering major Joel Hinrichs detonated a homemade bomb near Memorial Stadium, where 84,000 fans were watching the hometown Sooners take on Kansas State....

Mark Tapscott of the Heritage Foundation ... and other online bloggers have questioned Hinrichs' true intentions. They point to his Pakistani Muslim roommate and the location of his apartment--just one block from the Norman Mosque.

It is the same mosque that convicted 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui attended when he lived in Norman. As for Hinrichs, a spokesman for the mosque told us he had never seen him there....

But in a CBN exclusive, a former neighbor of the mosque, who wishes to remain anonymous, told us she did see Hinrichs there--not once, but several times.

“I did see Joel on several occasions outside of the mosque, actually, in the parking lot of the mosque,” the neighbor said. “It wasn't in the yard, it wasn't behind the fence, it was always in the parking lot when I would see him. And there was one time when I passed him, actually, on the sidewalk. As soon as I saw the picture of Joel Hinrichs on TV, not the clean-shaven one, but the one with the beard, I knew immediately that that was the gentleman I had seen on several occasions.” ...

Wow! Yeah, that's the smoking gun -- someone who claims he or she used to live near the mosque who won't give a name and tells the story to a "reporter" whose paychecks are signed by Pat Robertson. Color me persuaded!

The Wall Street Journal largely demolished this story a couple of weeks ago; the Journal isn't making its report available free anymore, but a Google cache is here.

...blogs and local Oklahoma TV stations added several apparent inaccuracies, including: that Mr. Hinrichs was a Muslim and visited the mosque frequently; that he tried to enter the stadium twice but was rebuffed; that he had a one-way airplane ticket to Algeria; that there were nails in the bomb and that Islamic extremist literature was found in his apartment.

None of these claims are true: Mr. Hinrichs's family, university officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation say Mr. Hinrichs suffered from depression, and the explosion was an isolated event.

The FBI's investigation is nearly complete. On Oct. 4, the FBI issued a statement saying, "At this time, there is no known link between Hinrichs and any terrorist or extremist organization(s) or activities." ...

...David L. Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma and the former senator who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that while most news reports have been responsible, there has been a "feeding frenzy of false rumors" on blogs and in some local TV stations. On Friday, he said in a letter to students and staff that investigators had found "no evidence of a conspiracy involving others which creates an ongoing threat to our OU community."...

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, KWTV correspondent Tamara Pratt reported that Mr. Hinrichs had spent "much of his time at the Norman mosque," and that investigators had seized an airline ticket to Algeria in Hinrichs's apartment.

Mr. Boren said that Mr. Hinrichs isn't known ever to have visited the Norman mosque. And while investigators did find an airplane ticket to Algeria, it wasn't in Mr. Hinrichs's apartment, but rather in one belonging to an international student, Mr. Boren said....

Of course, Boren's a Democrat, which, for the wingnuts, presumably means he's a traitor to the United States as well.

Tapscott apparently finds it incomprehensible that someone would use explosive material to commit suicide without having the intent to do so for Allah. I guess I would agree -- if I lived in a cave and didn't know, for instance, that apolitical American teenagers occasionally try to burn themselves to death, or if I'd never heard of suicide by cop. Does Tapscott serious believe that suicide by explosive is in another dimension altogether?

And I have absolutely no idea whether there was ever any thought in Hinrichs's mind of harming others -- but it won't surprise me at all if someday a kid kills himself in America and takes part of a football stadium out with him. When and if that happens, though, it's almost certainly going to be a depressed, bullied kid's attempt to lash out at a culture he sees as dominated by jocks and assholes, Columbine kicked up a notch -- either that or, like so many workplace shootings, an attempt to get back at a beloved who spurns him.

Bush now:

Facing the darkest days of his presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter, his associates say....

Bush usually reserves his celebrated temper for senior aides because he knows they can take it. Lately, however, some junior staffers have also faced the boss' wrath.

"This is not some manager at McDonald's chewing out the help," said a source with close ties to the White House when told about these outbursts. "This is the President of the United States, and it's not a pleasant sight."

... these sources say Bush, who has a long history of keeping staffers in their place, has lashed out at aides as his political woes have mounted.

"The President is just unhappy in general and casting blame all about," said one Bush insider. "Andy [Card, the chief of staff] gets his share. Karl gets his share. Even Cheney gets his share. And the press gets a big share."...

--New York Daily News, October 24, 2005

Bush then:

As war with Iraq draws inexorably closer, President Bush is described by friends as not just determined, but surprisingly serene about the most profound decision he will likely ever make....

"He's totally at peace with it," one close adviser told the Daily News....

--New York Daily News, March 9, 2003

...historians say that almost all [presidents] display certitude in public and more uncertainty in private. Friends and advisers of Mr. Bush insist that this president, in contrast, is much the same in private as he is in public....

..."He's very determined, I would say," said Cardinal Pio Laghi, a Vatican peace emissary and longtime Bush family friend who last week hand-delivered a letter to Mr. Bush from Pope John Paul II asking the president to avoid an invasion of Iraq. "He was very friendly, he was very nice, he was very appreciative, but he didn't give me the idea that he was shaky." ...

People who have met with Mr. Bush have been struck by his tranquillity. "You would never have known that he was sitting on a powder keg," said Don Hewitt, the executive producer of "60 Minutes," who recently spent 15 minutes with Mr. Bush in the Oval Office. "He was amazingly calm and wanted to talk about Harry Truman and not Saddam Hussein."

--New York Times, March 9, 2003

Dropping a few points in the polls and possibly facing the need to let some of his political hand-holders go? He freaks. About to send thousands of people to face death in a war based on specious evidence? Sleeping like a baby.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jesus, the GOP spinners love this analogy -- first Kay Bailey Hutchison uses it, and now this, from NewsMax:

Before he was appointed special counsel in the Leakgate case, Patrick Fitzgerald defended the prosecution of Martha Stewart against criticism that the Justice Department indicted her only after it couldn't prove the underlying crime she was accused of - insider trading....

A June 2003 "Today Show" transcript unearthed on Monday by ABC Radio host Sean Hannity shows Fitzgerald defending [prosecutor James] Comey for throwing the book at the domestic diva....

Fitzgerald's defense of Comey's prosecution could turn out to be significant, since it's widely expected that any indictments he brings in the Leakgate case will mirror tactics used against Stewart - where the prosecution pursues "process" crimes after determining that the original allegations were unprovable.

Uh, folks? Some people do think Martha got a raw deal, but she's not exactly Nelson Mandela. If you want to arouse sympathy for Bushies who might be indicted soon, you're going to have to do a hell of a lot better than that.


(By the way, Hannity, surprisingly, isn't being a hypocrite -- he defended Stewart last March. Scroll down here.)
Susan at Local Tint had a post yesterday about Condi Rice and Jack Straw's recent photo ops, including the most appalling:

...yesterday's Birmingham News ran a photo of Rice, Straw and four school-aged black girls, holding hands crossing the street. The girls wore dresses, coats, and white socks with mary janes--their idyllic and anachronistic dress clearly meant to evoke the 1963 bombing victims. Even considering she's a Bush Administration member, I was disappointed: a manipulative, tasteless photo op (that the community was apparently game for).

That really is ghoulish.
A new George Washington University Battleground poll has news that's good, but not good enough:

...On the overall political environment, the generic Congressional ballot stands at 46% for the Democratic Party and 41% for the Republican Party....

On a series of name identification questions, the President (46%-53%), Republicans in Congress (44%-47%), the Republican Party (45%-49%), and Tom Delay (21%-46%) all have favorable/unfavorable scores that are net negative. In addition, the job approval score for the President stands at 44% approve and 54% disapprove. However, the personal approval score for the President stands at 61% approve and 31% disapprove, indicating that President Bush does have some goodwill remaining with voters to rebuild his image and performance ratings. In contrast, the Democrats in Congress (47%-42%) and the Democratic Party (48%-45%) both enjoy favorable/unfavorable scores that are net positive....

(Emphasis mine.)

People still like this guy -- this testy, spiteful, narrow-minded, ill-informed narcissist with a history of making colossally poor judgments. The numbers suggest that even people who voted against him twice like him.

We've all heard what the Democrats need to do to get back on top: Have a positive agenda. Do better framing. Move to the left. Move to the center. Well, let me add a recommendation: The Democrats need to tarnish this guy's image as a person. You'd think that would be ridiculously easy, but even now it hasn't happened.
Please, people: keep your pants on.

Far too many bloggers and blog readers seem almost certain that Patrick Fitzgerald is going to bring deliverance soon with one swoop of his mighty indictment sword.

Yeah, yeah, I know -- it looks as if Cheney lied about what he knew of Valerie Wilson and when he knew it. But, folks, at least consider the possibility that Cheney might not be brought down by all this, and that Rove might not. Please consider the possibility that this might not make the Bush administration come crashing down. Please stop talking about "Fitzmas," or the chances of 22 indictments.

However tenacious Fitzgerald is, I have to believe he'd think long and hard before indicting a sitting vice president. I think he'll let Cheney walk. And if he doesn't indict Rove either, I think this administration has its starting lineup back.

And remember that the Democrats still aren't impressing the American people. (Greens and others who are now muttering, "Screw the Democrats -- what's going to save this country is a progressive third party": Yeah, and so? What have you been doing to fill the huge void in our politics? Feel free to step up anytime and show us why the American public will soon turn to you to get us out of this mess.)

Even if Fitzmas does come, I recall that we went from Watergate to Reagan in an eyeblink. The march of Republicanism was halted only temporarily. I'm still looking for a sign that the Americans who have warmed to Reagan-Limbaugh-Gingrich-Bushism are ready to flee in droves. I still think the typical heterosexual white male megachurch attendee in the South would as soon have gay sex in the town square as register with the Democratic Party. I still think most blue-collar workers think Democrats are snooty Chablis-drinkers who don't care how a working person gets by. When does that change?

Not on Fitzmas, assuming Fitzmas ever comes.
The people whose life's work is to make us go broke apparently didn't have the foggiest notion how successful they've been:

...Bankruptcy filings were supposed to snowball in the months before the tough new law went into effect on Oct. 17. But the avalanche of petitions, and the lines of debtors streaming out the courthouse doors caught even the credit card issuers who supported the new law by surprise.

In recent days, the five biggest bank issuers of credit cards have said that the unexpectedly large flood of filings shaved hundreds of million of dollars off their earnings in the third quarter.

But with tens of thousands of petitions still being processed and Hurricane Katrina's impact on cardholders still being sorted out, the bankruptcy rush is likely to result in well over a billion dollars worth of losses by the end of the year.

"We thought it would cause a bubble," James Dimon, the president of J. P. Morgan Chase, said last week. "The bubble is just bigger than we thought."...

More than 500,000 Americans filed for bankruptcy protection in the 10 days before the law took effect on Oct. 17 ... some bankruptcy courts were so inundated with filers that thousands more could be counted this week....

Far too many Americans are financially overstretched. Every so often there's a news story about this problem, but then the overstretched people disappear from public perception again. But you'd think the credit-card issuers would know the truth behind the happy talk about our economic robustness. Apparently not.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Did everyone in the Bush administration sign some sort of bad-government pledge?

The Pentagon paid $20 apiece for plastic ice cube trays that once cost it 85 cents. It paid a supplier more than $81 apiece for coffeemakers that it bought for years for just $29 from the manufacturer.

That's because instead of getting competitive bids or buying directly from manufacturers like it used to, the Pentagon is using middlemen who set their own prices....

And it's costing taxpayers 20 percent more than the old system, a Knight Ridder investigation found.

The higher prices are the result of a Defense Department purchasing program called prime vendor, which favors a handful of firms....

Knight Ridder Newspapers conducted a computer database analysis of prices charged by a small segment of prime vendors and how much the DLA paid for the same items from companies outside the prime vendor program....

The average prime vendor price - when adjusted for inflation - was higher for 102 of the 122 items....

In the 1980s, the high cost of Pentagon supplies was a scandal, and the butt of a lot of jokes (e.g., this 1986 humor book) -- though as I did some searches I learned that there were defenders of that era's Pentagon procurement who weren't necessarily Reagan apologists (see the Washington Monthly article here, and this National Journal article). So maybe there's a good explanation for this. Somehow, though, I doubt it.

(Link via DU.)
Freedom on the march in Afghanistan:

For the first time since the fall of the Taliban's Islamic government four years ago, a journalist has been convicted by a Kabul court under the country's blasphemy laws.

Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, the editor of a monthly magazine for women called Women's Rights, was sentenced Saturday to two years in prison by the primary court in Kabul.

...the court had bypassed a commission that was supposed to make recommendations in cases involving the news media and that the commission had found no blasphemy after examining the articles....

Could have been worse, I guess -- the prosecutor asked for the death penalty.

Perhaps the courts are following the election returns:

More than a month after the elections, nearly all provisional results have finally been released for Afghanistan's Parliament and provincial assemblies, cementing a victory for Islamic conservatives and the jihad fighters involved in the wars of the past two decades.

At least half of the 249-seat Wolesi Jirga, or lower house of Parliament, will be made up of religious figures or former fighters, including four former Taliban commanders....

And you may also have seen this last week:

A former regional governor who oversaw the destruction of two giant 1,500-year-old Buddha statues during the Taliban's reign has been elected to parliament, election organisers said yesterday as results from two provinces were finalised.

Mawlawi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi was the Taliban's governor of Bamiyan province where the Taliban destroyed the statues in 2001...

On September 18, he stood as an election candidate in Samangan province and won.

(Last link via Sisyphus Shrugged.)
We're Americans -- we don't need to know anything about anything:

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw joined Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for a weekend tour of her home state to promote understanding of the Anglo-American alliance, but Alabamans struggled to name him....

At a ceremony to unveil statues in Birmingham, speakers variously called the visitor Mr Shaw and Mr Snow. They also mangled his title, appointing him secretary of state to the commonwealth of the United Kingdom....

Incidentally, while I think Condi's clumsily constructed back-to-my-roots tour/photo op with a global mover and shaker was an attempt to test the waters for an '08 presidential bid, I also think it was part of an administration effort to try to improve its image with dames, who are, y'know, real bleeding hearts, so it's easy to play on their sympathies and get them to tell pollsters they don't want to see any Bushies frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs (see my previous post).

And although it wasn't the source for the Rice-Straw story, this seems like as good a time as any to add Americans Are Dumb to the blogroll.
So I missed Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison defending the administration on Meet the Press by suggesting that perjury isn't really a crime and that Martha Stewart was also unfairly accused and convicted.

A female senator talking about Martha Stewart? It's interesting that the opening salvo of the GOP's media strategy is aimed at women. (I don't have to tell you that Martha polls a hell of a lot better among women than among men.) If there are big indictments, are we going to get not a White House of cornered feral animals lashing out at Fitzgerald and the Democrats, but feel-your-painers struggling to do Clinton imitations? Are there going to be endless TV appearances by Laura and Condi? Do they think that's going to be their secret weapon -- estrogen?

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Cover story of today's Newsday:

The government's roll-out of its $40-billion-a-year Medicare prescription drug plan has hit another snag.

People trained to help seniors figure out which plan to choose under the new program said they don't have the pricing information they need and seniors are scratching their heads in confusion.

Earlier this week, Dr. Mark McClellan, head of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, launched a prescription drug plan finder designed to help those on Medicare plug in specific financial information and prescription needs so they can determine which plans are best for them. The tool is available on and is also used by those trained to counsel seniors.

But a crucial piece of data -- pricing information on the drugs -- is still not available...

"People are asking questions and we don't know the answers," said Jim, who is one of 9,000 customer service representatives hired to answer questions at 1-800-Medicare. Jim, who asked that his last name not be used, said he and his colleagues joke that "it's kind of the same way FEMA is run; I guess we're using the same playbook."...

Seniors have also received a booklet in the mail, but it's making them crazy:

"You have to sit down and have a whole day to read it," Susan Tasker, of Greenport, said of the booklet. At this point, the 78-year-old who is on four medications said she plans to stay with her current drug plan. "That's just too much book," she said.

Betty Jean Thomas of Freeport, who is trying to parse the plans for her mother, who is on both Medicaid and Medicare, agreed. "It's really bad. You have to think on it. You have to go through it and spend a whole day on it," she said....

Murray Chernow, who lives in Rego Park and Deerfield Beach, Fla., who called the booklet "a tome," said he is meeting with a private health insurance representative to discuss his options....

And the booklet misleads recipients about the prices of some plans, as I told you a couple of weeks ago.

Can these people do anything right?

Joe Klein writes in Time about the unkillable career of Ahmed Chalabi:

... He currently serves as Deputy Prime Minister in Ibrahim al-Jaafari's government. And now -- trumpet clarion here -- he is coming back to Washington in November at the invitation of Treasury Secretary John Snow. But Chalabi will have potentially more significant meetings with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and perhaps Condoleezza Rice, both of whom -- according to high-ranking Administration officials -- believe that he is a plausible and acceptable candidate to be the next Prime Minister of Iraq when that nation votes, yet again, for a new government on Dec. 15.

... the Bush Administration harbors a gossamer strand of hope that the Dec. 15 election will finally produce a strong Iraqi government, a real coalition of Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds. The Administration also realizes it may take a supremely oleaginous political thug, perhaps someone as rare and fetid as Ahmad Chalabi, to bring it off....

Good grief.

I know this is pure fantasy, but if we can seize Manuel Noriega and put him in a U.S. jail, why can't we do the same to this son of a bitch for disseminating the lies that led to this godforsaken war?

(But hey, maybe Chalabi will take Judy Miller off Bill Keller's hands. I bet she'd make a swell information minister....)
Pat Robertson's greatest hits.

There are a couple I'd never run across before, including this one:

"[Homosexuality] is a pathology. It is a sickness, and it needs to be treated.... Many of those people involved with Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together."

–"700 Club," March 7, 1990

Whatever you say, Pat.
If we really had a liberal media that functioned like the conservative media , this would be a huge story:

Bush motorcade leaves other folks fuming

One hundred Brentwood kindergartners, many dressed in costumes, were all set to go see "The Wizard of Oz" on Friday when their first-ever field trip was blocked by the nation's 43rd president.

They never got to see the wizard.

President George W. Bush, his Marine One helicopter grounded by fog, brought morning rush hour to a standstill while his motorcade proceeded from West Los Angeles through the San Fernando Valley to Simi Valley for the dedication of the Air Force One Pavilion.

"We had buses all loaded up - but by the time they got to school it was too late," said Julie Fahn, a volunteer mom at Kenter Canyon Elementary in Brentwood, where girls had dressed as Dorothy to see the play performed in Malibu....

Hmm, let's see: Google hits for "clinton haircut," more than twelve years after the fact? 266,000. That story will never die. Never mind the fact that no flights were actually delayed by the runway haircut, according to a Newsday report at the time.

(Story via Democratic Underground.)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Interesting stuff about Her Nibs from Maureen Dowd in today's New York Times (read the complete column free here):

I've always liked Judy Miller. I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp.

The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy - her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of hard work and hauteur - have never bothered me. I enjoy operatic types.

Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times's seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official's background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.

At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, "I think I should be sitting in the Times seat."

It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch....


A "tropism toward powerful men"? Acting like a Mean Girl toward a female colleague? Yeah, I find that believable.

I regret to say I've known a few women like that -- women who were successful professionals, and who thus seemed to embody what feminism is all about, who nevertheless seemed resentful of feminism, and catty toward other women, and who wanted to be cosseted in a pre-feminist way. Feminism seemed never to have posed a serious challenge to the fairy-princess images in the books they'd read as kids. So it strikes me as believable that Miller, a woman who fought her way to the top in a "man's job," might not really like or respect most women and might really, really admire puffed-up, manly, dominance-challenge-issuing men. If she held a different job, this would be a problem only for her and her shrink. In Miller's case, it means that she embraced would-be dragon slayers who were full of shit.

And I suppose that's what she put in the paper -- her wish fulfillment instead of the news.

Yes, it's rather disturbing that there's a new musical act made up of pubescent blond neo-Nazi twins who vaguely resemble the Olsen Twins, as ABC reported a couple of nights ago, but trust me: they suck. Their songs are staggeringly boring and they can't sing on key (or even in harmony, which is what sibling acts are usually best at). The one who plays guitar can't play, and the other one doesn't play an instrument at all. Imagine the Shaggs without the rhythmic intricacy. Singing about Rudolph Hess. In matching Hitler smiley-face tees. Trust me, your kids will not glom onto this. Ever. Except maybe as a sick joke. If you saw the ABC report, you already know this (alas, the link above doesn't provide a video stream). If you need proof, go here and give a listen (the girls come in just before 9:00). Agonizing.

Yes, their parents and their parents' friends are the scum of the earth. But this stuff is way out on the margins, and it's going to stay there.

(I actually think the militancy of the anti-liberal, anti-abortion, anti-gay "mainstream" right -- i.e., the modern GOP and its allies -- has sucked the life out of the white pride movement, which has never seemed more toothless. Hating "Hitlery" is just as satisfying as hating the people Hitler hated, but it's respectable.)

Friday, October 21, 2005


From AP:

Catholic diocese pulls support from Race for the Cure

CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston and Bishop England High School have broken ties to Saturday's Race for the Cure because the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Foundation gives money to Planned Parenthood in other cities....

Race organizers said some Bishop England students will participate but will not receive community service credit from the school. According to diocese spokesman Steve Gajdosik, Bishop England students previously had earned approximately 15 percent of their required 30 community service hours from participating in the race....

This is just an extension of what Pope Ratzo wants:

Roman Catholic bishops in several dioceses have been taking steps to reinforce church teaching by restricting who can participate in public events on diocesan property and refusing to attend graduation ceremonies at Catholic universities if a commencement speaker supports abortion rights....

Now, just a reminder of where the ill-gotten gains from the race actually go:

Proceeds from the race are required to go toward breast cancer screenings for low-income women.

"We only fund those things that will help us find a cure for breast cancer," said Colleen Adams, chairwoman of this year's local race....

According to Emily Callahan, spokeswoman for the national Komen foundation, affiliate offices around the country have their own boards that review grant applications and award funds. Allocations are "restricted to breast health services," Callahan said, and are "done on merit alone, and do they meet a need in the community that is not otherwise being met."

Callahan said that, in 2004, affiliates allocated just over $40 million in community grants, 1.2 percent of which went to Planned Parenthood offices throughout the country....

The Race for the Cure is the biggest fundraiser for the Komen foundation's local affiliate, said Taffy Tamblyn, the local group's executive director.

...Any group requesting money would have to show the money is only used for breast cancer programs.

"It's not just thrown out there at their discretion," Tamblyn said. "It's highly restrictive."...



Another story from the anti-abortion front:

A national organization of pregnancy centers that helps women will team up with Interstate Batteries and NASCAR driver Bobby LaBonte to raise money to help women with pregnancy needs and to find abortion alternatives. Care Net and the battery maker have partnered in a "Charged for Life" fundraising campaign that will begin on Sunday at the race in Martinsville.

"Thousands of women will be helped as a result of the 'Charged for Life' campaign" says Care Net president Kurt Entsminger. "At Care Net pregnancy centers, we believe that people make positive life decisions when they are empowered with information and know that they are not alone."

The #18 car of LaBonte, will sport both the lime green Interstate Batteries logo and pint job as well as a logo for CareNet.

During the fall campaign, more than fifty percent of the proceeds raise from the sale of various kinds of batteries will help Care Net and more than 900 pregnancy centers across the United States and Canada....

If you don't support this kind of thing, you might want to think twice about shopping at Interstate Batteries.


(And, as many other bloggers have pointed out, you might also want to ask Target whether its policy is to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill contraception prescriptions. Target's response so far appears to be denial that any such incident ever took place.)
The cover story of a recent New Republic was a scathing review by David Rieff of Robert Kaplan's jingoistic new book, Imperial Grunts. (You can read the review here, via Ocnus.Net.) Rieff begins by saying this about another jingoistic writer of the past:

The French writer Jean Larteguy is largely forgotten now, but in the late 1950s and early 1960s his novels chronicling and celebrating the French paratroopers' fight against Vietnamese and Algerian revolutionaries, first for empire and then for a metropole stretching from Normandy to the Sahara, were immensely popular. These books, which were very skillfully written, had titles such as The Mercenaries, The Centurions, and The Praetorians, all evocative of the comparison that was central to Larteguy's vision: the French troops as latter-day Roman centurions holding the line against the barbarians...
It was hardly surprising that rootless Paris cosmopolitans, homosexuals, self-serving politicians, and traitorous leftists tended to be the villains in Larteguy's books, and far more so than the revolutionaries whom his commandos were fighting.

(Emphasis mine.)

That doesn't surprise me at all. As I've said in the past, the #1 enemy of modern American right-wingers is American liberalism, not any foreign foe. The American right rails against the Clintons and Ted Kennedy and leftist college professors and supporters of gay marriage far more than it does toward the perpetrators of the 9/11 atrocities. It's interesting to note that there's a precedent for this.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The FCC smites a Massachusetts high school radio station, in the name of Jesus:

Today's lesson: Don't cross Christian broadcasting.
Maynard High School's radio frequency, 91.7 FM, is being seized by a network of Christian broadcasting stations that the Federal Communications Commission has ruled is a better use of the public airwaves.

"People are furious,'' said faculty adviser Joe Magno.

Maynard High's WAVM, which has been broadcasting from the school for 35 years, found itself in this David vs. Goliath battle when it applied to increase its transmitter signal from 10 to 250 watts.

According to Magno, that "opens the floodgates for any other station to challenge the station's license and take its frequency.'' ...

--Boston Herald

Is it common for the FCC to just yank a license from a 35-year-old station that's done nothing wrong? And Maynard, I would imagine, would already be able to pick up WEZE ("New England's Christian Radio") from Boston and/or one or more of these Christian stations. Why the need for a switch? This strikes me as obnoxious.

(Via Fiat Lux.)
The wheels come off, and National Review's Byron York is forced to watch:

Strategists working with the White House in support of the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers are becoming increasingly demoralized and pessimistic about the nomination's prospects on Capitol Hill in the wake of Miers's meetings with several Republican and Democratic senators....

"It's been a gradual descent into almost silence," says a ... source.... "The meetings with the senators are going terribly. On a scale of one to 100, they are in negative territory. The thought now is that they have to end....Obviously the smart thing to do would be to withdraw the nomination and have a do-over as soon as possible. But the White House is so irrational that who knows? As of this morning, there is a sort of pig-headed resolve to press forward, cancel the meetings with senators if necessary, and bone up for the hearings."...

I keep thinking that this is like the moment in Spinal Tap when, after a succession of screw-ups, Ian Faith is replaced as manager by David St. Hubbins's girlfriend, Jeanine Pettitbone, and things go from bad to worse. In this case, the Jeanine -- the person who takes on big responsibilities despite having no idea how to go about the job -- is Bush himself. I think he's now running the show, either because Rove and Cheney are preoccupied or because his head has swollen to the size of a house. "The White House is so irrational"? "Pig-headed resolve"? Sure sounds like Bush to me.
Peggy Noonan today:

Once again there's a family in crisis, and it's conservatism. He can let it break up, or let it wither under his watch. Or he can change. Just as he learned at 40 that to keep his family he had to become part of something larger than himself, he should realize as he approaches 60 that he has to become part of something larger if he is to save his administration. And that "something larger" is a movement that has been building for half a century, since before Barry Goldwater. The president would be well advised to look at the stakes, see what's in the balance, judge the strengths and weaknesses of his own leadership, and get back to the basics of conservatism.

Oh, so that's it. The trouble isn't a dysfunctional FEMA, or the deficit, or tens of millions without health insurance, or the endless disaster in Iraq. The trouble is Bush is making conservatives bicker.

Hey, Peggy, you're right for once -- Bush should try to become part of something larger than himself.

How about something bigger than the brotherhood of right-wing dogmatists? Or even than Bush's native tribe, the plutocrats?

How about America?

A press release:

New risk analysis study shows school soft drink consumption has no impact on adolescent obesity

WASHINGTON, D.C.--A first-of-its-kind peer-reviewed study applying risk analysis methodology to nutrition policy shows that consumption of carbonated soft drinks from school vending machines has virtually no impact on adolescent obesity.

The study appears in the October issue of the journal Risk Analysis. It was authored by Dr. Richard Forshee and Dr. Maureen Storey of the Center for Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture Policy at The University of Maryland--College Park, and Dr. Michael Ginevan of Exponent in Washington, DC. ...

Hmmm ... maybe this will be a story on your local news soon.

But please note some of the fine print in the press release:

The research paper was supported by an unrestricted gift from the American Beverage Association.

More of the fine print:

In accordance with the policy of the Center for Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture Policy, the sponsor had no control or input into the design, methodologies, data, analysis, results, conclusions, or the decision to publish.

Oh, yeah, I'm sure.
It's the NRA's country -- we just live in it:

President Bush will likely get a chance to sign into law a bill to shield the gun industry from lawsuits brought by victims of gun crimes, a controversial measure that has survived the Senate for the first time and is headed for passage in the House....

Opponents say the strength of the bill's support is testament to the influence of the gun lobby. They say that if the bill had been law when six victims of convicted Washington-area snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo sued the gun dealer from which they obtained their rifle, the dealer would not have agreed to pay the families and victims $2.5 million....

Supporters, of course, see it differently:

..."Lawsuits seeking to hold the firearms industry responsible for the criminal and unlawful use of its products are brazen attempts to accomplish through litigation what has not been achieved by legislation and the democratic process," House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said in remarks prepared for Thursday's floor debate....

The House will pass the bill today.

The gun lobby's fondness for achieving things through legislation and the democratic process does not, I should point out, extend to legislation it doesn't like:

Starting Wednesday, handgun owners won't need permits to carry concealed weapons in the seven Alaska cities where they're still required. There also will be no more restrictions on keeping a firearm in a vehicle.

A new state anti-gun control law that goes into effect will essentially bar municipalities from passing gun laws that are more restrictive than state law.

... the NRA ... calls it state pre-emption, and Alaska will be the 44th state to have such a law on its books.

"We are looking to make it uniform to all 50 states," said NRA spokeswoman Kelly Hobbs....

The opponents of this, are, of course, a bunch of granola-eating liberals ... in cop shoes:

... Alaska police chiefs worry about no longer being able to enforce laws banning guns from public buildings, such as city halls.

The new law would allow cities to keep guns out of places beyond a restricted access point, such as a metal detector, but the chiefs say their cities can't afford the staff or equipment.

"There are lots of people, myself included, we really value our constitutional rights," said Anchorage Police Chief Walter Monegan. "But if we had the same enthusiasm to also support our constitutional responsibilities, then I would be less concerned over this issue."...

I'm not a "gun-grabber." I think there should be background checks at gun shows, and I think it's unconscionable that Congress has made the ATF toothless, unable to rein in really bad gun dealers like Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, the source of the D.C. snipers' rifle. (The pressure on the ATF not to charge bad dealers with crimes dovetails neatly with the anti-lawsuit bill, which permits suits when a crime has been committed. If the ATF doesn't charge even the worst dealers with crimes, what good is that?)

People who actually believe that a limited tightening of the gun laws would put us a short step from house-to-house confiscation of law-abiding owners' guns are exactly as ignorant as people who think Jews put Christian babies' blood in Passover matzohs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Well, I don't buy this, from Newsweek's Christopher Dickey:

...Given the way Judy [Miller] takes notes, I'm not surprised that she can't remember who first gave her the name of [Valerie] "Flame." I've even seen speculation that it came from one of her other not-so-reliable sources, Iraqi exile leader (and now vice president) Ahmad Chalabi, who peddled so many of the WMD rumors that wound up as facts in the Times. Ahmad keeps close tabs on his enemies, and I know first-hand that he counted many people at the CIA on that list....

I don't buy it because the information about Plame was more or less accurate. When has that been true about any of Chalabi's other leaks?

(Link via the Mahablog.)

Someone who actually thinks this is funny.
I suppose this shouldn't be much of a surprise:

Oil companies awash in profits after storms

...Although hurricanes Katrina and Rita created compounding headaches for energy companies since late August, the storms ultimately benefited them because as supplies tightened, prices for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel soared. Exactly how much money was made will become clearer next week when the industry begins to detail its third-quarter performance. Analysts are expecting huge profits.

"They are just printing money right now," said oil analyst Fadel Gheit at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York. "They are making so many trips to the bank because they can't take all the money there at one time."

Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., BP PLC, ConocoPhillips Co., and Royal Dutch Shell PLC are expected to report a $9 billion, or 46 percent, increase in their combined third-quarter profits, according to analysts' estimates compiled by Thomson Financial....

...And ... the fourth quarter is already shaping up to be another good one for the industry -- in part because production of oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico remains hindered.

... Gheit said that because most energy producers "are covered by insurance for physical damage as well as business interruption, the negative impact on earnings is expected to be minimal."...

Pro-gouging bootlickers like John Stossel never want to talk about the big increases in gougers' profits in times of shortage. If price increases were just a way for honorable tradesmen to tough out unexpected setbacks, as Stossel would have you believe, the firms' profits would stay roughly the same in bad times. But as everyone with a lick of sense knows, that's not how it works in the real world, which is not to be confused with Stossel's dreamland.

US soldiers in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of dead Taliban and taunted their opponents about the corpses, in an act deeply offensive to Muslims and in breach of the Geneva conventions.

An investigation by SBS's
Dateline program, to be aired tonight, filmed the burning of the bodies.

It also filmed a US Army psychological operations unit broadcasting a message boasting of the burnt corpses into a village believed to be harbouring Taliban.

According to an SBS translation of the message, delivered in the local language, the soldiers accused Taliban fighters near Kandahar of being "cowardly dogs". "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be," the message reportedly said....

The burning of a body is a deep insult to Muslims. Islam requires burial within 24 hours....

--Sydney Morning Herald

Oh, that's brilliant. Yeah, in order to show a few enemy fighters that we're bad-ass, let's offend all Muslims worldwide, including the ones who haven't yet concluded that they hate the United States. And let's do it while TV cameras are rolling, so the whole world can eventually see the footage.

You know, if our goal were to rule the region by brute force -- and we were actually capable of doing so -- this might make sense. But our selling point is that we're the good guys. And then we do this.
It's not clear whether President Bush will actually fight to implement the recommendations of his tax advisory commission, but if he does, there goes the housing boom that's been propping up the economy. As if high energy prices aren't already going to rein in the sale of expensive-to-heat McMansions in long-commute exurbs, now Bush's advisors are recommending this:

At present, all interest payments on mortgage loans smaller than $1 million are deductible. For the new mortgage interest credit, however, both plans would lower the mortgage limit to the maximum that the Federal Housing Administration will insure. That level changes each year and varies depending on housing costs in each county, with a current maximum loan limit of $312,895, in communities where housing is most expensive, and a national average of about $244,000.

I'm sure that will be a comfort, say, in California, where the median home price in August was $568,890.

Yes, the commission also wants to repeal the alternate minimum tax, which will surely help many owners of high-priced homes (and also many owners of second homes -- the commission wants to eliminate the deductibility of second-home mortgage interest). But then there's this:

Deductions of the interest payments on home-equity loans ... would be disallowed.

As of mid-2003, "homeowners had $315 billion in outstanding debt from home equity lines of credit...The average line of credit available as of June 2003 was about $69,500." I can't believe that all those debtors are AMT payers.

This is supposed to soften the shock:

These provisions would be phased in over five years to allow taxpayers to adjust to the changes.

Yes, that might ease the pain somewhat until Bush is safely out of office, but it would also make a lot of people think twice about home-buying decisions right away -- if you're buying a home, you have to think about tax consequences a few years into the future.

Unless, of course, you're buying the home to flip it rather than to, you know, live in it for a while. And that gives away the bias of this commission: It rewards wheeling and dealing; it punishes working for a steady paycheck and saving up your pay to buy a house to come home to at the end of the workday. Consider this:

The commission would also raise to $600,000 from $500,000 the amount of profits from home sales that could be excluded from capital gains.

And consider other, non-housing-related proposals:

One would eliminate taxes on dividends paid by American companies and lower the top capital gains rate to 8.25 percent on the sale of stock in such companies, while continuing to tax interest income at the same rate as wages.

... the maximum corporate tax rate [would be lowered] to 32 percent from 35 percent.

That's a central tenet of Bushism: Everyone should be an entrepreneur, a capitalist, a buyer and seller. No one should be a worker -- certainly no one should want to be one. Workers are chumps.

The Bushists are half-right about that -- workers who voted for Bush are chumps.