Friday, April 21, 2006

Secretary of Leak

The Leaker-in-Chief's Secretary of State is a Secretary of Leak. Is anyone remotely surprised by this?

AP (via WaPo) Lawyer: Rice Allegedly Leaked Defense Info

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaked national defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in the same manner that landed a lower-level Pentagon official a 12-year prison sentence, the lobbyist's lawyer said Friday.

The Former Archbishop of Milan, Going Straight to...?

I say heaven. The Catholic Church will probably tell him he's going straight to hell.

BBC: Cardinal backs limited condom use
One of the Roman Catholic Church's most distinguished cardinals has publicly backed the use of condoms among married couples to prevent AIDS transmission.

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said that in couples where one had HIV/AIDS, which could pass to the partner, the use of condoms was "a lesser evil".

The Vatican says condoms should never be used, even to stop AIDS spreading from one married partner to another.

The Church teaches that abstinence is the best way to tackle disease.

Fantastic Rainbow Pictures

Look at all of them:

February 2, 2006 Rainbow at Elam Bend (McFall, Missouri)

More on Bush's War on Science

An good article from my former Congressman, Ed Markey, in today's Baltimore Sun (via the Smirking Chimp):

Edward J. Markey: 'Bush's pollution of science threatens our future'

[] President Bush seems to oppose any measure that will meaningfully reduce the pollution that contributes to global warming, as do most of his supporters from the fossil fuel industry. They don't want scientific truth because it may inspire policies to transition us to cleaner energy technologies and upset what is for them a very profitable status quo. Politics is driving science.

To understand why it matters, we can look to some unpolluted science to see how it can help us. Take the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, initiated by the United Nations and published this year. It's an unprecedented international environmental study that runs to more than 2,500 pages and took five years to complete. It draws on the work of thousands of scientists and has been thoroughly peer-reviewed.

The assessment offers a stark warning about the state of the environment and asks us to do a far better job understanding, measuring and protecting nature's gifts, not for nature's sake but for our own. Scientists call nature's gifts "ecosystem services." We call them clean air, clean water, food and shelter - and we depend on them for the quality of our lives and our very survival.

According to the assessment, nearly two-thirds of nature's gifts, such as fresh water, a stable climate and fisheries, and the ecosystems that support them are being degraded beyond what they can possibly bear. When those gifts become scarce or disappear, we may well find them very costly or even impossible to replace, and that would land many people around the world, rich and poor, in crisis.

Based on the assessment's unvarnished information, we could make decisions today that will help us tomorrow. We could cut our global warming pollution through technological innovation to avert dangerous climatic swings. We could do more to preserve the forests and wetlands that give us clean water for agriculture and our everyday use. We could end the overfishing that is depleting a critical source of food for millions around the world. Preserving these essential natural services would improve our quality of life, reduce conflict and help safeguard our well-being.

What we shouldn't do is ignore the assessment or try to change scientific findings if they threaten the status quo. We sell nature and ourselves short when we distort science because we've asked a question but don't like the answer. We need unpolluted science to inform and shape the best policies for the environment.

We Love Lists

American Rhetoric: Top 100 Speeches of the 20th century (many with audio) Funny thing, the only Bush speech listed is Bar's 1990 Wellesley College commencement speech. Two speeches on the list by Carrie Chapman Catt, suffragist and foremother. The top ten:

1. Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have A Dream"
2. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Inaugural Address
3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address
4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation
5. Barbara Charline Jordan, 1976 DNC Keynote Address
6. Richard Milhous Nixon, "Checkers"
7. Malcolm X, "The Ballot or the Bullet"
8. Ronald Wilson Reagan, Shuttle ''Challenger'' Disaster Address
9. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Houston Ministerial Association Speech
10. Lyndon Baines Johnson, "We Shall Overcome"

Harper's Index, February 2006

BTW, Harper's now has a blog.

Guardian (uk) Film of the book: top 50 adaptations revealed

Technorati's Top 100 Blogs
(no, we're not on the list -- yet)

Falun Gong Protestor: A Federal Offense?

Fuck the feds. This is not a federal offense. Speaking truth to power is protected by the United States Constitution, no matter how inconvenient the Bush Administration finds free speech. Speaking of offenses, I'm offended that we would be repressing speech. I'm offended by free speech zones surrounded by barbed wire and armed police officers; by not being allowed in to Presidential speeches unless I'm a Republican; and by stupid things like this potential prosecution. I can just hear the Bushco minions -- next they'll be arguing that the First Amendment was implicitly repealed by President's inherent war powers. Impeach now.

Attytood: Free-speech outrage: Wenyi Wang may be charged with federal crime for daring to criticize the president...of China

Earlier today, we made the point that if you consider 1989's so-called "Tank Man" of Tiananmen Square to be a hero for standing up to China's totalitarian regime -- and most Americans, regardless of political persuasion, do -- then surely you would think the same thing about 47-year-old Wenyi Wang.

Wang is the courageous woman who rose up on the South Lawn of the White House this morning to confront the leader of that brutally repressive regime, President Hu Jintao, as well as America's President George W, Bush, who was busy playing footsie with Hu. "Stop the killing and the torture!," shouted Wang, a Manhattan physician who writes for a newspaper supporting the spiritual group Falun Gong, banned in China.


Last night, officials with the Secret Service, which eventually dragged Wang away and arrested her -- literally seconds after Bush called on China to permit more free speech -- said they are seriously considering charging Wang with an obscure federal offense, intimidating a foreign official.


But do you honestly think Wenyi Wang violated the law -- "intimidating" the leaders of the world's two yelling really, really loud?

The irony here makes us sick. Hu, after all, is the leader of a regime which, according to Human Rights Watch, carries out:

restrictions on free expression; a deficient justice system that encourages the use of torture; restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and the right to act on those beliefs; harassment and arrest of HIV/AIDS activists; abuse of petitioners seeking remedies for official misconduct; and absence of progress in holding national elections.

What's more, it is Chinese oil money that supports Sudan's murderous militias committing genocide in Darfur. Those who protested in Tiananmin Square or who practice Falun Gong have been imprisioned, tortured, and killed.

So what kind of treatment does China's leader get? A 21-gun salute, music from a bluegrass band, and a fancy lunch in the White House.

And Wenyi Wang, who is not afraid to speak out against such a man, is dragged away by officers of our own government, one of whom put his hand over her mouth in a futile attempt to silence her. The picture of Wang being gagged by U.S. agents, shown at the top of this post, is something that America should be deeply ashamed of.

If the Secret Service ever takes the time to read all of Title 18, Section 112(b), they might notice this passage, too:

(d) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed or applied so as to abridge the exercise of rights guaranteed under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Yeah, right.

What a freaking joke.

Krugman: We Never Really Liked Him

Krugman's column in today's Times, 'The Great Revulsion' (behind the damnable TimesSelect wall) argues that Americans never really liked Bush's policies, and that given his incompetence, corruption and cronyism, the conservative revolution is ebbing. Sooner rather than later, we hope.

Here's a link to the full article:

Middle Earth Journal: The high-water mark?

While Cheney Slept and Bush Yanked

Karma's a bitch. Our visit from serial human rights violator China yesterday didn't go so well. The protestor was hustled off, but it was all downhill from there.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Dreaming of Frogmarching

Billmon: Hip Hop

Oh when the frogs
Go marching out
Oh when the frogs go marching out
How I hope he'll be in that number
When the frogs go marching out.

Quick Hits

I filled up my tank on Monday afternoon for $2.69 a gallon. Yesterday (Wednesday) gas was $2.83 at the same station. $3.00 by the weekend at this rate. I've ordered my Prius, should have it in a few weeks. 60 MPG, here I come! Boy, that war in Iraq is paying for itself, and lowering gas prices to boot. Thanks, Decider-in-Chimp.

Yesterday morning I turned on the TV to hear Diane Sawyer say to another talking head, "Did she have an epidural?" I finally figured out they were talking about poor Katie Holmes of TomKat, and turned off the TV. Diane Sawyer once wrote speeches for President Richard Nixon, and now she is talking about epidurals on TV. Like Pink says, where did all the smart girls go?

This morning I had CNN on in the background. They were covering the visit of the Chinese leader Hu to the White House. A lone voice began shouting. I immediately thought of that guy who halted the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989. But CNN showed the cops hustling this woman away, and all the anchors and talking heads were unanimous that this small problem had been dealt with, it was unusual, but now the event would proceed as planned. The protestor was saying something about the suppression of the Falun Gong movement. The talking heads weren't very interested in that. They were interested in the disruption of the state event. I thought of Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936. How would German CNN have covered that? As dissent to be quickly squelched.

Attytood noticed, too.

World Cup Update, April 20, 2006

Czech Republic's Pavel Nedved does the hustle

Group of Death News:

US: We're No. 4, a ridiculous ranking:

U.S. Moves Up to Fourth in FIFA Rankings

US midfielder Damarcus Beasley arrested for DUI in Holland (hat tip Du Nord). ESPN story. Is it the chicken or the egg? Beasley hasn't been playing well for PSV this year, presumably because of injuries. He also hasn't been starting regularly. Is he drinking because he's not playing, or not playing well, or is he not playing well, or not playing, because of drinking? His older brother Jamar has already washed out of MLS because of his addictions. Let's hope it was just one bad decision. Trouble is, surrounded by alcoholics as I am, I know there's a slim chance that it was a one-time or a first-time thing.

Jonathan Spector of Charlton has a shoulder separation, which will hurt his chances of being Man #23 on our squad.

The John O'Brien Health Watch continues.

Speaking of bubble players, I wish defender Jimmy Conrad would make the US squad, because his posts on ESPN are great.

SportsFan Magazine's USA World Cup preview.


Totti is training again. Drat.

No word on Christian Vieri's recovery from the injury he suffered at the end of last month, other than that he will be out at least a month.

Italy has scheduled a tune-up game v. Switzerland next month.

Italy has already determined who is to blame if they fail to emerge from the Group of Death: Italian team all set for war with the press

SportsFan Magazine's Italy World Cup preview.

Czech Republic

Injured Czech Republic striker Jan Koller is back in training.

SportsFan Magazine's Czech Republic World Cup preview.


Lots of scheduling news, little player news. Are the Black Stars Flying under the radar?

Ghana striker Ibrahim Salou has broken his jaw playing for his club team, KSV Waregem, but hopes to return for the Belgian Cup final on May 13th.

Ghana has scheduled a friendly match with Bundesliga club VFB Stuttgart in Wurzburg on April 26th.

Friendlies against Russian teams
in Russia on May 8th and May 11th.

Has scheduled a friendly v. Jamaica in England for May 29th, although the site is not yet set.

A letter writer laments, what could have been? All these players were eligible to play for Ghana, but play for other countries: Gerald Asamoah, Germany; George Boateng, Holland; Marcel Desailly, France; and Freddy Adu, USA.

How To Be Sleazy While Donating to Charity: Dick Cheney Edition

Cheney's giant charitable deduction was taken because of special laws passed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to help out the residents of the stricken Gulf. Cheney took full advantage, but didn't donate one red cent to Katrina relief. Bastard.

dailykos: Cheney's shady charitable contributions net $2 million refund

While this is not illegal, by exploiting a loophole in the Katrina tax relief laws passed regarding charitable donations, Dead Eye Dick was able to obtain a refund of at least $1,000,000 MORE than he would be able to get in any other year.

The best part? None of the charities were Katrina related at all.

Cheney's largest charitable contribution is to a non-profit with a bunch of Iraq War pimp board members. A buy-in to the big game, which has nothing to do with the non-profit?

The charitable Dick Cheney - what does his dollar buy?

Spurred on by clammyc's diary about Cheney's charitable contributions. I started wondering why Cheney would give so much money ($1.3 million) to Capital Partners for Education, a Georgetown-based scholarship fund that helps finance education at private and parochial schools for area teenagers. ( It was not only the largest single contribution in the charity's history, but also represents twice their annual budget revenue for this fiscal year.


So, I poke my nose around a little further and the mystery gets even deeper. A solid majority of these companies represented by the Board of Directors have connections to Iraqi and/or rebuilding and reconstruction. It spreads out like a web and touches everything from Halliburton to President Hamid Karzai's security. And why? This is a group that seems to be benevolent in its support of inner city youth.


{Why does Capital Partners for Education have on its board two members of The Carlyle Group, one each from the Hudson Institute, Computer Sciences Corporation, Hogan and Hartson, LLP, Arlington Capital Partners (1/3 owned by The Carlyle Group), Technoserve, SAFRAN USA, INC., Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, and Venable LLP, all tied in with the Iraq War?]


Again, Capital Partners for Education seems like a worthwhile cause to help inner city youth in DC.

But, the troubling question remains.

Why do the majority of companies represented by its Board have some stake in the future of the Middle East.

And why did Dick Cheney just donate a windfall to them?

And what exactly is his dollar buying?

Previous post: War Pimp Cheney Earned $8,819,006 Last Year (April 15, 2006)

Why Rearrange the Deck Chairs? Is It Frogmarching Time?

Speculation is rampant. Obviously McLellan leaving and Rove switching jobs doesn't really change anything. So why the moves?

Bob Fertik summarizes the theories:

Rove Indictment is Imminent

Karl Rove gave up the policy part of his job for a simple reason: he's about to be indicted and frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs, thus making Joe Wilson's dream come true. Sidney Blumenthal is right:

For months, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has assured the press that his client, who was believed to be vulnerable to indictment for perjury, is in the clear. But Libby insisted that he was entitled to "disclosure of such documents" in Rove's files "even if Mr. Rove remains a subject of a continuing grand jury investigation".

Karl Rove is a subject of Fitzgerald's investigation - this is the headline buried in Libby's filing.


Update 1: Taylor Marsh thinks Rove is taking over the K Street Project since DeLay is history. I don't think so - being a bagman is a job anyone can do. But only Rove can steal the Senate and House at a time when Bush's polls are in the mid-30's - and falling.

Update 2: emptywheel thinks Rove is effectively taking over the Republican National Committee because Ken Mehlman is going to be indicted in the New Hampshire phone jamming scandal (a.k.a. Watergate 2), and is likely to bring the whole Republican Party down with him. I think that theory has a lot going for it.

Update 3: ThinkProgress says Rove will keep his security clearance, despite his role in the outing of Valerie Plame. Will Joe Lieberman and Henry Waxman demand its revocation?

Worst. President. Ever

So sayeth Princeton historian Sean Wilentz in this week's Rolling Stone magazine:

The Worst President in History?
One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush

George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.

Multimillionaire Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Denounces 3% Pay Raises for Judges

Nice threads

Boston Globe, April 19, 2006: Healey raps pay raises for judges

House and Senate leaders reached a tentative agreement last fall to raise trial judges' salaries to about $130,000 a year, up from the current $112,777, but the two chambers have yet to reach a final agreement on the spending bill that includes the money. Together with an already negotiated salary boost for other court employees, the raises for judges and clerks would cost $42 million a year.

Healey said the spending bill represented ''the kind of reckless behavior with the taxpayers' money that we cannot afford."

The judges lobbied legislators successfully last year for the pay raise, arguing that they haven't received one since 2000 and that Massachusetts lags behind almost every other state in judicial salaries.

Let's see, first pay raise in six years, total $17,233, comes out to less than $3,000 per year, or about 3% per year.

And our lieutenant governor, who's running to replace the Mittwit? Here's her pitiful financial situation:

Boston Globe, April 13, 2006: Millionaire gubernatorial candidates withhold tax returns

This year, [Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry] Healey is again refusing to release her returns, as she did in 2002. She is a multimillionaire who spent nearly $2 million on her own campaign four years ago. Her husband, Sean Healey, president of Affiliated Managers Group, an asset management company, recently sold $13 million in corporate stock, giving the couple ready access to more than twice what Romney spent in 2002.

Most candidates for governor live in the lap of luxury

Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, her husband and two children live in a waterfront mansion in Beverly assessed by the city at $2.5 million. The Healeys also own a house next door, as well as a vacation condo in Florida and land in Vermont on which they plan to build a $2 million vacation home.

Please god, will a competent Democrat beat this empty designer dress?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Apologies to the Beatles

Huffington Post:

I'm the Decider
(audio) - to the tune of I Am The Walrus

I am the Egghead
I am the Commander
I am the Decider
Koo Koo Katchoo

This Won't Be On Your Front Page Tomorrow, But It Should Be

The US is planning to test a bomb 50 times larger than our largest conventional weapon in the Nevada desert on June 2, 2006.

1.4 million pounds of explosives will be detonated in the United States on June 2, 2006.

A nuclear rehearsal.

Did you know that? Don't you think that is news the ordinary American should be aware of?

I learned it here: dailykos: Randi Rhodes Begs For Attention To Planned Weapons Test (Update2 - Video)

Salt Lake Tribune: Test blast in Nevada: A nuclear rehearsal
Pentagon apparently looks for an optimal size of a 'bunker buster'

WASHINGTON - A powerful blast scheduled at the Nevada Test Site in June is designed to help war planners figure out the smallest nuclear weapon able to destroy underground targets. And it has caused a concern that it signals a renewed push toward tactical nuclear weapons.

The detonation, called Divine Strake, is intended to "develop a planning tool to improve the warfighter's confidence in selecting the smallest proper nuclear yield necessary to destroy underground facilities while minimizing collateral damage," according to Defense Department budget documents.

Irene Smith, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, said the document doesn't imply that Divine Strake "is a nuclear simulation." She said it will be used to assess computer programs that predict ground shaking in a major blast.

While it will not be a nuclear explosion - no nuclear or radioactive material will be used - the Divine Strake blast will be fifty times larger than the military's largest conventional weapon, the Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb, or MOAB, nicknamed the Mother of All Bombs. It will still be many times less powerful than the smallest weapon in the U.S. nuclear stockpile.

George W. Bush is insane. This option is on the table. He should be impeached for the good of the world. Who will stand up to lead us?

Just Keep Sending Her to Diversity Training; It Worked So Well Before

Penn State finds Rene Portland ('Rene the Weenie') discriminated against Jen Harris on perceived sexual oriention grounds, but lets her off, again:

Women's Hoops Blog (1)

[H]ere is the University press release. It is, as rumored, a slap on the wrist.

PSU's internal investigation found that Coach Portland did indeed violate the school's antidiscrimination policy.

The report ... conclude[d] that enough evidence existed to substantiate a claim that Portland discriminated against Harris by creating a “hostile, intimidating, and offensive environment” because of Harris' sexual orientation. This is in violation of Penn State Policy AD-42, which prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics.

But the sanctions ordered are mild. Very mild. They include:

(1) A letter of reprimand (strongly worded, I'm sure).
(2) A warning that future violations will not be tolerated (and this time we really, really mean it).
(3) Diversity training (insert rolling-eyes emoticon here).
(4) A $10,000 fine.

Women's Hoops Blog (2)

But are these sanctions meaningful? NCLR's Karen Doering scoffs at the notion of putting Rene Portland through more diversity training.

"She underwent diversity training in 1991 with no effect," Doering said. "Her very statement of denials today clearly shows she does not get it. If she doesn't think she has done anything wrong, she's not going to change her behavior."

Walt Moody, Knight Ridder (San Jose Mercury-News): Sanctions against Penn State's Portland have no real bite

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The line has been drawn in the sand by Penn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland and university president Graham Spanier is standing on the other side.

"I will return as head coach of the Lady Lions next year," she said Tuesday during a hastily called news conference to dispute university findings that she violated the school's anti-discrimination policy in dealings with former player Jennifer Harris, who has filed a federal lawsuit against Portland and the school.

The university report, which spawned from Harris' charges that she was discriminated against because of perceived sexual orientation and race, concluded that created a "hostile, intimidating and offensive environment" based on Harris' perceived sexual orientation. The report said there was no basis for the race claims of Harris, who is black.

By accepting the findings of the report, Spanier agreed that "the preponderance of evidence supported a conclusion that discrimination had taken place" against Harris, who claims she is not gay, but was perceived to be so by Portland.

Spanier ordered four actions to be taken against Portland among other recommendations for the school's athletic department.

Portland could have accepted to what amounts to a colossal slap on the wrist and gone on with her coaching career. The sanctions have no real bite.

A written letter in a personnel file for a coach who isn't going anywhere else is no big deal. Neither is attending a "professional development experience devoted to diversity and inclusiveness," where the only penalty is time spent.

The hard-hitters are supposed to be a $10,000 fine (for a coach who last year signed a four-year deal that pays six figures) and the promise she will be dismissed if she violates the anti-discrimination policy again.

They're hardly hard-hitting.

Given Portland's history - published comments in the early 1990s about not wanting lesbians in her program - the punishment had the potential to be harsher.

Mechelle Voepel, ESPN: Step in right direction, but so much further to go

Previous post: Rene is a Weenie (March 26, 2006)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

'I'm the Decider'

via Dependable Renegade

Thus spake President Dumbass today, telling us he's sticking with Rummy, who's doin' a heckuva job.

From Roddy McCorley at dailykos, I'm the Decider as written by Dr. Seuss. (Click on the link, there's much more)

I'm the decider.
I pick and I choose.
I pick among whats.
And choose among whos.

And as I decide
Each particular day
The things I decide on
All turn out that way.

Shakespeare's Sister heard The Wanderer: "The Decider"

Well, I’m the type of guy who will always let you down
Where Rummy critics are, well, you know my disdain will abound
I hate ‘em and ignore ‘em, ‘cause to me they’re all the same
I hate ‘em and ignore ‘em; I don’t even know their names
They call me The Decider, yeah, The Decider
I spin around around around around around…

Bush Pioneer Hijacking My Comments Section

My little blog is being bombed with pro-billionaire comments! It's the attack of the Bush Pioneers.

Look at my earlier post, Billionaires for Bush. Seven comments! I almost never get comments; most of the time you will find one or two comments on a post. Seven is a personal record.

And more surprisingly, for a small blog like mine that is read by family and friends and visitors from Newsfare and from the Washington Post when I link to their articles, all the comments from that very liberal base are against taxing excess profits, and hugely in favor of Mr. Exxon-Mobil's half billion dollar golden handshake. Curious, no?

Piqued my curiousity. So I went to my sitemeter. Some of the commenters had hidden IP or search information. But five of them posted after receiving an email from someone else with a yahoo account. And one of those five commenters posted from IP Address 68.73.130.# (STRATEGIC PUBLIC PRTNRS).

Strategic Public Partners Home Page

Profile of Tom Whatman, President

Tom Whatman founded Strategic Public Partners (SP2) in February 2001 drawing on his unique experience to create a public affairs firm specializing in helping business clients navigate political waters. In just a short time SP2 has developed a broad clientele based upon its strategic insights and ability to get things done in Ohio and Washington, DC.

Mr. Whatman served as Executive Director of the Ohio Republican Party from 1994 through the 2000 presidential elections. He was responsible for the day-to-day management of the Party including the development and implementation of an unprecedented $20 million voter contact and candidate program in Ohio during the 2000 elections.

Whatman was a Bush Pioneer. Part of the Tom Noe, Ken Blackwell, evil Ohio Republican cabal.

Mr. Whatman's last political contribution, according to, was $1,250 to Tom Delay on February 15, 2006. I read that as zealot, and idiot. Who didn't know Tom Delay was on his way out?

So, anyway, this is my response to all those 'independent' commenters who responded to Billionaires for Bush (one even signed himself 'Average Joe'!)

You're wrong, wrong, wrong, and you're going down in November. (Yes! I'm a proud member of blogtopia's Angry Left!)

Speaking of going down, SPP has been down this attack road before:

E Pluribus Media: Cronyism: Bush Pioneer Behind Attacks on Reform Ohio Now (Nov. 4, 2006)

Break on Through: Ohio First: a story of Croney Kickbacks and Bush Pioneers (November 6, 2005)

dailykos: Ohio GOP chair now embroiled in Federal bank favoritism charges (July 20, 2005)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Trashing Good Science

Krugman has a must read in the Times today. Here's a link to the whole piece, via Economist's View:

Paul Krugman: Enemy of the Planet

Lee Raymond, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, was paid $686 million over 13 years. But that's not a reason to single him out for special excoriation. Executive compensation is out of control in corporate America as a whole, and unlike other grossly overpaid business leaders, Mr. Raymond can at least claim to have made money for his stockholders.

There's a better reason to excoriate Mr. Raymond: for the sake of his company's bottom line, and perhaps his own personal enrichment, he turned Exxon Mobil into an enemy of the planet.


So how have corporate interests responded? In the early years, when the science was still somewhat in doubt, many companies from the oil industry, the auto industry and other sectors were members of a group called the Global Climate Coalition, whose de facto purpose was to oppose curbs on greenhouse gases. But as the scientific evidence became clearer, many members — including oil companies like BP and Shell — left the organization and conceded the need to do something about global warming.

Exxon, headed by Mr. Raymond, chose a different course of action: it decided to fight the science.

A leaked memo from a 1998 meeting at the American Petroleum Institute, in which Exxon (which hadn't yet merged with Mobil) was a participant, describes a strategy of providing "logistical and moral support" to climate change dissenters, "thereby raising questions about and undercutting the 'prevailing scientific wisdom.' " And that's just what Exxon Mobil has done: lavish grants have supported a sort of alternative intellectual universe of global warming skeptics.


Has Exxon Mobil's war on climate science actually changed policy for the worse? Maybe not. Although most governments have done little to curb greenhouse gases, and the Bush administration has done nothing, it's not clear that policies would have been any better even if Exxon Mobil had acted more responsibly.

But the fact is that whatever small chance there was of action to limit global warming became even smaller because Exxon Mobil chose to protect its profits by trashing good science. And that, not the paycheck, is the real scandal of Mr. Raymond's reign as Exxon Mobil's chief executive.

Previous post: Another Billionaire for Bush (April 14, 2006)

My Political Dollars at Work

As a resident of the People's Republic of, I mean the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, sometimes it seems like a waste of money to give to my preferred political candidates. Teddy Kennedy is going to get reelected. The Rethugs could run the Pope here and Teddy would kick Joey Ratz's ass.

So I want to use my political donations to gain a Democratic majority in Congress this year. I'm going to be giving to Senator Holey Joe Loserman's opponent in Connecticut, a real Democrat, Ned Lamont. Holey Joe can go on to an undistinguished career lobbying for insurance companies and addressing right wing rubber chicken banquets.

Even closer to home, I'm going to give money to whichever Democrat (former state attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse or Secretary of State Matt Brown) wins the right to oppose Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island. Chafee voted for cloture (which would have been defeated with 41 votes), which put Alito on the Supreme Court. The fact that he cast a meaningless vote against him when the anti-Alito forces needed 60 votes to win just pisses me off. (I must be part of the Angry Left. Cue Howard Beal from Network! I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!)

Yesterday I found this site, Paint New York Blue, on Bob Fertik's blog at (I bookmarked Bob's blog during the Alito fight, when he ran myriad lists of telephone and fax numbers for contacting Senators.) Paint New York Blue's aim is to help re-take the House by focusing on the State of New York, where Democrats have a good chance of taking back some of the 15 seats we need.

Currently Paint New York Blue is targeting three races: (1) District 19, where the current Republican Congresswoman Sue Kelly voted with Tom Delay over 90% of the time; (2) District 20, where former Republican state party chairman John Sweeney is getting a serious challenge from Attorney Kristen Gillibrand, a partner of Gore election attorney David Boies; and (3) District 29, where Fighting Dem Eric Massa, a retired Navy commander, is challenging one of the true scumbags of the House, Republican Randy Kuhl, whose divorce papers reveal him to be an abusive drunk. Oh, and then there was that little incident where he threatened his wife with a shotgun. Nice.

I'm going to give my money to Gillibrand, who is running to represent my old district. Actually, I don't think my hometown is in her district anymore, because the Republican redistricters chopped up my rural county, but it's close enough. Go look at the map of Distict 20; it's crazy, running from Essex County north of Albany on the Vermont border, to Dutchess County on the Connecticut border; to rural Delaware County, almost at the Pennsylvania border.

Here's what Paint My Blue has to say about her race:

Running along the Eastern edge of New York State, District 20 has been represented since 1998 by John Sweeney, the former executive director of the New York State Republican Party who has a consistent anti-abortion record and an ‘A’ rating from the NRA. Anyone looking for a sighting of that rare bird, the moderate New York Republican, will have to look elsewhere: Sweeney has the markings of a traditional Bush-era conservative, voting with disgraced former House Leader Tom DeLay over 90% of the time in his latest term in office. Sweeney’s defining moment may have been in the aftermath of the 2000 Bush-Gore election, where he spearheaded the shutdown ofthe recount in Florida – a move that earned him the nickname “Congressman Kickass” from beneficiary George W. Bush.

Challenger Kirsten Gillibrand is a partner at the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner (yes, that would be Boies as in David Boies, who represented Al Gore in Florida). At 39, Gillibrand is well established as a lawyer and as a civic activist. Called “a rising star” by NY State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, Gillibrand has exceeded expectations in establishing herself as a viable candidate. Despite her blue chip resume and political credibility (including ties to the Clinton administration, where she served as legal counsel to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development), skeptics initially described Gillibrand as a great candidate in a long shot race. However, she has won them over with a combination of personal charisma, hard work and organizational success. As of the first of January 2006, Gillibrand had raised over $370,000, drawing the attention of national groups like Emily’s List and the DCCC. Now, Roll Call political writer Stuart Rothenberg calls Gillibrand “the best Democratic opportunity” in New York to unseat a Republican Congressional incumbent in 2006.

Perhaps no one has helped Gillibrand more than Congressman Sweeney himself, who appears to be unsettled by his first real electoral challenge. Republicans arranged for a small group to protest Gillibrand’s campaign kick-off in Saratoga, but apparently forgot to tell them what it was they were protesting – a bungling performance that merely served to increase media coverage of the event. Sweeney’s attempt to distance himself from Jack Abramoff (and the $7,000 in campaign cash from Abramoff that had been directed his way) also backfired when a reporter realized that Sweeney had actually delivered his call for reform from the Park City, Utah vacation home of pharmaceutical lobbyist Jeff Kimble. But the Congressman wasn’t playing favorites – any lobbyist willing to pony up $2,000 had been invited to spend the weekend skiing with “House Appropriations Committee Member” John Sweeney.

It remains to be seen how the local electorate will react to Sweeney’s escapade in Utah, which drew the attention of the national press. Sweeney has other baggage to deal with as well; in November 2005 his teenage son was sentenced to 45 days in jail after pleading guilty to assault, the charges stemming from an incident that sent another boy to the hospital with a broken eye socket. Luckily for John Sweeney junior, a second judge reviewed the guilty plea and eliminated the jail time – an unusual step that has been loudly protested by the victim of the attack.

Despite Sweeney’s personal problems, there is no question that Gillibrand has a fight on her hands in a district where 53% voted for George Bush in 2004. Still, her team is encouraged by signs of change – increased numbers of registered Democrats, defeat of Republican mayors and other local incumbents in the 2005 elections, and a new energy animating the Democratic and independent opposition. The Gillibrand campaign has momentum, and the tangible evidence of that momentum is money: with a banner last quarter of 2005, Gillibrand has surpassed in dollars raised all of Sweeney’s four previous challengers combined.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

We're Tanned, Rested and Ready

2010, too?

Could the men's World Cup be in the USA in 2010? There's precedent -- FIFA hastily rescheduled the 2003 Women's World Cup from China to the US when the SARS epidemic threatened.

Sunday Times (uk): Struggling South Africa raises fears over hosting of World Cup

WHEN South Africa won the right to stage the 2010 football World Cup — the first country in Africa to do so — there was national rejoicing. The country had placed such importance on winning that Nelson Mandela and a raft of ministers were sent to Geneva to lobby Fifa, the game’s world governing body.

Now, however, serious doubts are emerging about the country’s readiness and ability to stage the event.


Fifa demands that all host cities sign contracts guaranteeing dedicated traffic lanes for its officials and players, the cessation of all building work throughout the tournament, free office space, telephone, internet and communications equipment and large-scale infrastructure works including back-up power grids — not just to keep the lights on in stadiums but to ensure that street lights, traffic lights and hotel lifts are fully functioning. Currently no South African city can promise this.

South Africa’s infrastructure is decaying. In Johannesburg street and traffic lights do not work in large areas of the city, weeds grow in the road and routine maintenance has all but ceased. Public transport is virtually nonexistent and the roads are quite unable to cope with traffic volumes.

Recent blackouts in the Cape resulted in huge jams as traffic lights failed and saw hundreds trapped in office lifts, billions lost in agriculture and industry and horrific sewage spills that have made the water dangerous to drink.

Despite steeply rising demand, not a single power station has been built since the ANC came to power in 1994.

Give That Man a Contract

Robbie Fowler scores again for Liverpool, helping them to a 1-0 victory over Brad Friedel and Blackburn.

Rafa, wake up, sign the man! Dump Cisse!

The Daily Mail agrees:

Fowler boosts his contract hope

Anatomy of Journamalism

One of these things is not like the other

Last Sunday, the WaPo said Bush can leak and leak and leak and it's all right with them. He's the President so he can do what he wants. So there.

A Good Leak

PRESIDENT BUSH was right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons. Presidents are authorized to declassify sensitive material, and the public benefits when they do. But the administration handled the release clumsily, exposing Mr. Bush to the hyperbolic charges of misconduct and hypocrisy that Democrats are leveling.

Editor and Publisher said, Not so fast:

'The Washington Post': At War With Itself
The newspaper's editorial page on Sunday declared Scooter Libby's notorious 2003 gift to reporters "The Good Leak." On the same paper's front page two reporters thoroughly debunked the notion.

No wonder the Post, in today’s editorial, calls Wilson’s trip to Niger “absurdly over-examined.” This is what people say when they want to change the subject instead of having to renew an indefensible position. The Post's editorial page has been wrong from the start on Iraq so we must at least applaud its consistency.

Little Debbie (Deborah Howell, laughably bad ombudsperson) defends WaPo today by saying, on the one hand, on the other hand, who needs facts when you own the paper?

Two Views of the Libby Leak Case

Editorials and news stories have different purposes. News stories are to inform; editorials are to influence.

And, finally, the Grey Lady gets it right, for once:

A Bad Leak

Mr. Bush did not declassify the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq — in any accepted sense of that word — when he authorized I. Lewis Libby Jr., through Vice President Dick Cheney, to talk about it with reporters. He permitted a leak of cherry-picked portions of the report. The declassification came later.

And this president has never shown the slightest interest in disclosure, except when it suits his political purposes. He has run one of the most secretive administrations in American history, consistently withholding information and vital documents not just from the public, but also from Congress. Just the other day, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the House Judiciary Committee that the names of the lawyers who reviewed Mr. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program were a state secret.


Since Mr. Bush regularly denounces leakers, the White House has made much of the notion that he did not leak classified information, he declassified it. This explanation strains credulity. Even a president cannot wave a wand and announce that an intelligence report is declassified.

To declassify an intelligence document, officials have to decide whether disclosing the information would jeopardize the sources that provided it or the methods used to gather it. To answer that question, they closely study the origins of the intelligence to be disclosed. Had Mr. Bush done that, he should have seen that the most credible information made it clear that the Niger story was wrong. (In any case, Iraq's supposed attempt to buy uranium from Niger happened four years before the invasion, and failed. The idea that this amounted to a current, aggressive and continuing campaign to build nuclear weapons in 2002 — as Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney called it — is laughable.)

Easter Sunday Blogtopia Round-Up

Prof. Juan Cole

Farah Stockman reports in the Boston Globe that US companies swindled the Iraqi government out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Then Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority blithely granted them amnesty just before it was dissolved. ' ''In effect, it makes Iraq into a 'free-fraud zone,' " said Alan Grayson, a Virginia attorney who is suing . . . ' Well, I'm just glad that the Bush administration was able to teach those hopelessly corrupt Middle Easterners the high standards of the American way of doing business. CPA apparently stood for "The Crooks are the Police Around here."

Billmon is back. Apocalyptic times demand Billmon:

This is Not a Drill

The problem [] is that there isn't going to be a congressional resolution this time – in fact I'd be very surprised if the administration gives the leadership of either party more than 24 hours notice before the bombing begins. No marketing campaigns, no debates, no arms twisted in the Oval Office. Just a fait accompli. (That's French for: "Choke on it, suckers."

It's already obvious: This one's going to be a unitary executive special – right down the line. The administration's vanished political capital leaves it no other way. When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose.

So what, exactly, is there for Congress to ask the "hard questions" about? And what answers would it get, other than: "That's classified," or "That's a privileged executive branch communication"? And how is a rubber stamp Congress supposed to stop a war that officially isn't on the drawing boards? Particularly when the Republican majority hopes – or at least understands – it could be the magic bullet, so to speak, that saves their sorry asses this November?

Brilliant at Breakfast thinks dropping nuclear bombs on Iran "is a foregone conclusion."

At this rate, by Sunday they'll be telling us that Iranian nukes are on their way here

Iran may not be a serious threat this minute, but the country presents a problem that requires a U.S. response built by competent, thoughtful people -- not a bunch of arrogant cowboys with sexual issues who think the entire world is their own private little video game arcade and who have played on American fears for five years in their efforts to turn this country into Stalinist Russia.

TalkLeft looks at the insane federal policy that denies student loans to anyone convicted of a drug offense.

Drug War Harms More Than 100,000 Students

What a waste.

More than 31,000 California college students forfeited their shot at federal financial aid because of past drug convictions, newly released records show.

Why should a drug conviction prevent students from obtaining the financial assistance they need to improve their educations? Shouldn't society try to help them gain the tools they need to live productive lives?

While Congress recently "softened" the law, it should be jettisoned altogether.

Buyer's Remorse