Saturday, April 09, 2005


Asthma Boy's been missing out. Gogol Bordello does indeed put on the coolest unique live show you'll ever see.

So, go see them when they hit your town.

I think the best description of their music I heard was something along the lines of "if the Stooges had been a klezmer band..."

Culture of Death

Oh, it's Frank Rich. Just go read the whole thing.

Key Line

As many of noted, the key line in Dana Milbank's article is this one:

This was no collection of fringe characters.

For too long the mainstream media has either ignored these people, marginalized them as kooks, or mainstreamed them by having them on while ignoring their creepier beliefs/statements/pasts.

I think one reason (and there others) for this is that by cloaking their wingnuttery in religion they shield themselves from criticism. They've fought long and hard to make sure we know that in this overwhelmingly Christian country, anti-Christian bigotry is the number one problem. The media just will not go there.

Open Thread

Have fun.

Adovcating Murder

Yes, there really is no doubt that invoking Stalin's "no man, no problem" phrase is an explicit advocacy of the murder of judges who, shall we say, misbehave. I doubt any of the people doing the advocating actually plan on following through themselves, but they're probably hoping they'll inspire others.

Smartest Guys in the Room

I just watched a screener of "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room." I think it's a pretty good documentary of its rise and fall. I would've preferred a few more details about some of the financial shenanigans they were up to -- it could've gone a bit deeper.

The rise and fall of Enron represents another shameful moment in our press history - first the business press and then the general press. When Enron was fucking over California, the press was extraordinarily dismissive of any suggestions that the companies were gaming the system. It was quite obvious to anyone with about half a semester's worth of economics (and, when I taught, I would teach the economics of the energy crisis about half way through a semester) what was going on in general terms, if not the precise details which came out later. Most importantly, the obvious course of action was to impose hard price caps on the system, something not understood by the drooling idiots whose entire knowledge of economics is a basic supply/demand diagram.

God I hate these people.

...thought, I admit, reading the Yahoo stock boards as the stock plunged provided me with endless hours of entertainment. Good times.

Rare Coins

You've got to be fucking kidding me.


Joe Klein is the worst pundit in Washington. And, of course, he's on "our side."


...aside from everything else, I just cannot fathom that anyone believes that there is this vast movement of people who want to give their in-laws the legal right to interfere with their decisions.


Begala gives Blitzer a well-deserved spanking over his joking that the liberal Begala wasn't a "good Catholic."

I hate these people.

No More Assrocket

As if we'll stop calling him that.

Nitpicker, who's serving in Afghanistan, finds some more assrocketry.

Philly Blogging - What Happened to the Sheraton?

The Sheraton Rittenhouse Square Hotel appears to be closed and destined to be converted into condos. I can't find news coverage of this anywhere. Odd.

Culture of Life

Phyllis Schlafly on April 4:

In California, the Democratic Attorney General personally intervened in the Laci Peterson case to ensure that her killer was brought to justice. But even Scott Peterson benefited from a full jury trial before being sentenced to death, and he will still enjoy numerous appeals and years of delay. Terri Schiavo was ordered to die by one man who served as judge, jury and executioner.

This is judicial arrogance at its ugliest. The public should reject the myth that supremacist judges can override the governor, the legislature, Congress, the president, common sense, and even the right to life, and use armed police to protect judicial supremacy.

Phyllis Schlafly on April 8:

Phyllis Schlafly, doyenne of American conservatism, said Kennedy's opinion forbidding capital punishment for juveniles "is a good ground of impeachment." To cheers and applause from those gathered at a downtown Marriott for a conference on "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," Schlafly said that Kennedy had not met the "good behavior" requirement for office and that "Congress ought to talk about impeachment."

I will never understand these people - even if you think the case was in fact decided incorrectly, even if you think it did represent a form of judicial overreach, to turn the execution of juveniles into a rallying cry is just bizarre...

Morning Thread

have fun.

Friday, April 08, 2005


From Drudge:

Arthur Finkelstein, prominent Republican consultant who has directed a series of hard-edged political campaigns to elect conservatives in the U.S. and Israel over the past 30 years, said Friday that he had married his male partner in civil ceremony at home in Mass... MORE... Finkelstein said in a brief interview that he had married his partner of 40 years to ensure couple had same benefits available to married heterosexual couples... Developing, NYT, say newsroom sources,,,

Clean Sheets


Ho Ho Ho

There are a lot of reasons, but a prominent reason journalists run from serious treatment of the Gannon story is that they're absolutely petrified that the light they regularly shine on the personal lives of the rest of us will ever be directed at anyone masquerading as a journalist. Of course Gannon's sex life was only relevant because it raised interesting additional questions about just how he had such access to the White House.

Some fun at the Times:

NEW YORK Fired New York Times foreign correspondent Susan Sachs, who lost her job for allegedly sending anonymous e-mails to the wives of Times reporters in Baghdad commenting on the reporters' sexual behavior, contends she is innocent and will fight the charges against her.

“I am completely absolutely innocent of the accusations made by The Times,” Sachs said in an e-mail to E&P late Friday. “To underline that fact, I have taken a polygraph test administered by a competent and independent expert, during which I repeated that I am innocent of these accusations, and I passed the polygraph test with flying colors.”

Sachs told E&P in the email that "this nightmare" began last month. "I leave it to The Times to provide you the details of the false accusations that have been made," she wrote.

Friday Cat Blogging

Nice Friends

Tom DeLay's good buddy Abramoff used to help run a pro-Apartheid front group.

Watch JimmyJeff - The Highlights

Crooks and Liars put together a highlight reel from this morning's fun.

Gannon is truly a stupid stupid man.

Drop the Hammer

Drop the Hammer wants you to contact the companies that are helping Tom DeLay and tell them just what you think about that.

Everyone's favorite, RJR, has started blocking emails from the server. But, you can write to them yourself!

Pharmacists for Life

Riffle has a fascinating post about Karen Brauer.


From Congress Daily:

Christian conservatives and a core group of congressional supporters are launching a significant new push to restructure the federal judicial system to reflect a more explicitly biblical world view, in the hopes that these changes will pave the way for broader social and political changes, leaders of the movement said.
Some of the most prominent conservative leaders in the country -- including Vision America's Rick Scarborough, Coral Ridge Ministry's James Kennedy and the Free Congress Foundation's Paul Weyrich -- launched the effort Thursday in Washington.
Members of the new coalition said they would immediately focus on bringing an end to Democratic filibusters of President Bush's judicial nominees before pushing Senate Majority Leader Frist to enact sweeping changes in the judiciary.
They also warned that Frist and other politicians who have thus far been reluctant to force a confrontation with Senate Minority Leader Reid over the nominations would be held accountable if Democrats continue to block conservative judges.
Participants at this week's Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration meeting said the group also will focus on forcing Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against any judge who does not conform with their biblically based interpretation of the Constitution, as well as permanently curb judicial authority over matters of church and state, marriage and governmental acknowledgement of a Christian deity.
"What it is time to do is impeach justices," Texas Justice Foundation President Allan Parker extolled a crowd of a hundred or so conservative lobbyists, attorneys and activists. "The standard should be any judge who believes in the 'living constitution' should be impeached."

The Theocrats are coming for their payment.

LA Radio

Johnny Wendell, who I've sort of known "online" on and off for awhile is getting his own show in LA. He's great tough take no bullshit kind of liberal, and should be good fun. From the press release:

(April 8, 2005) KTLK, the Progressive Talker that launched at 1150 AM on February 3, is taking its first step to make the station live and local. Tomorrow, the “lefties,” as weekday middayer Ed Shultz likes to describe his show, kicks off with a familiar name from KFI, Johnny Wendell (photo). He’ll work from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Johnny has written for the LA Weekly for years under the name, Johnny Angel. Liberal Web site described him: “Johnny knows how to work a crowd. His voice is the perfect timbre for radio, and he's sharp and coherent, even when - or especially when - giving the heave-ho to annoying callers. He keeps the show light and snappy, even as he deals with the most serious of topics, yet he never fumbles or fudges facts. His standards are higher than most mainstream reporters, yet he slides the medicine down with a smile.”

Bias Against the Bears

Barry notes that economists who just recently said that $50 oil would trigger a recession are now saying that current oil prices won't do so, and it would take significantly higher prices to actually cause one.

If you predict doom and gloom, and you're wrong, you get blamed both for being wrong and for being a spoilsport. If you predict wonderful things, and you're wrong, you're given credit for being an optimist. No one wants to be on record predicting a recession or circumstances which would cause one.

Strange, really.

Poor Jonah

This has to hurt.

Meanwhile, in the Ethical Media

Boston Herald columnist on the take, which I'm sure won't be disclosed at the end of every column despite demands for the FEC to require it of bloggers (technically, it wouldn't apply here because the FEC doesn't really deal with state elections, but you get the point).

And, Mitch Albom makes stuff up for a column (scroll through Romenesko letters for details.)

Sounds like it's time to convene another panel on "who is a journalist" or "blogger ethics," preferably one featuring a cock-headed man whore, and lobby the FEC to have increased oversight.

Red Alert


WASHINGTON Apr 8, 2005 — President Bush's standing with the public is slumping just three months into his final term, but Americans have an even lower regard for the job being done by Congress. Bush's job approval is at 44 percent, with 54 percent disapproving. Only 37 percent have a favorable opinion of the work being done by the Republican-controlled Congress, according to an AP-Ipsos poll.

Bush's job approval was at 49 percent in January, while Congress was at 41 percent.

Now, if the Democrats could start to internalize the idea that the Republican Congress is not popular and the Republican president is not popular we could make some progress...

Tea and No Tea

I'm starting to really get annoyed at the media's inability to address the inconsistency in the GOP's general position about Social Security.

The basic question involves whether or not the trust fund is a "myth" or not. But the very people who are claiming that it's a myth are also the same people who are screeching about problems with its insolvency. The latest:

In response, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Bush ``welcomes any activity that moves us'' in the direction of solvency for Social Security as well as personal accounts.

Any discussion of solvency is premised upon the notion that the trust fund is "real." Any politician or journalist who moans about solvency while bemoaning the lack of trust fund is a liar, an idiot, or a hack.

"Rearrange Your Liver to the Solid Mental Grace"

5 points for placing the quote.

5 trillion points for explaining it.


The Gropenfuhrer is even less popular than Dubya:

Swept into office in an unprecedented recall election in 2003, the Republican's approval rating fell to 43 percent from 59 percent in January, according to a Survey and Policy Research Institute poll released on Thursday.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sign Up For 8, In for 35

Talk Left points us to this AP story how the 9th Circuit has, as Jeralyn wrote, "refused to invalidate the military's 'stop loss' policy." I have no sense of what the law really is here, so I won't comment on the decision itself (though, obviously, the policy is troubling).

But, the AP story leaves out some rather important details. The man filing the appeal, Emiliano Santiago, was two weeks away from finishing his 8 year commitment when the stop loss kicked in. He was then given a new service contract when the stop loss order was invoked.

Making it all the stranger is that the Army presented him with a new contract that extended his service until 2031. Army spokesperson Hart says the date was arbitrary, meant to allow for "wiggle room." Says Santiago, looking at another 27 years in the Army over and above the eight he signed up for: "It's crazy."

More Thread

Rock on.

Dissecting a Smear

Media Matters goes through the entire fake memo nonsense.

Open Thread

Have fun.



Kevin recalls correctly that DeLay was on Milosevich's side against Bill Clinton. He doesn't mention the extraordinary maneuver by which DeLay managed to send an encouraging message to the enemy while our men and women in uniform were in harm's way, by promising Clinton a resolution of support for the air war and then arranging for it to come to the floor and fail. (Of course, DeLay wasn't alone among Republicans, back then, in hating the President more than he hated the mass murderer the President was trying to rein in.)
And now we know, as Kevin points out, that DeLay was doing all of this as the beneficiary of largesse from the Russian security services. Taking an expensive vacation at the expense of the military of a foreign power to support America's enemies probably doesn't amount to treason under the Constitutional definition, but it comes close.


I don't ask for donations anymore (though they're always welcome!) because my ad rates/sales are high enough that I don't need to. I also tend to not send people over to other blogs to donate when others are having fundraising drives because I started to feel like if I do it for some people I have to do it for everybody. But, it's important to highlight something John wrote in a request for donations (thus, violating the just mentioned rule)

On fast-breaking news days, like the past several, this is all I do for a living, so your donations are my income (and honestly, the more donations the more I can afford to make this like a real job, i.e., non-stop activism and reporting).

Look, blogging takes time. And, doing the kind of blog which tries to stay 5 seconds ahead of the news cycle on a consistent basis takes a lot of time. For someone like John especially (given what his "day job" is - consulting/activism) every moment spent blogging is a moment not spent trying to get work/earn money. Over the long run there may be some self-promotion benefit to blogging, but a very small one.

People forget that time spent blogging isn't just time spent avoiding other fun activities, it's also time spent not doing things which further your career, etc.

Anyway, I guess the point is that you shold make sure to hit the tip jars of your favorite bloggers no matter who they are. And, if you're wealthy blog reader you should consider whether it's better to give a grand or two to [your favorite liberal organizations] or a grand or two to [your favorite bloggers]. Not that it's necessarily a choice, but for good or for ill unaffiliated bloggers are an increasingly important part of the trench warfare of the news cycle, and despite the presence of a lot of free ice cream out there on the internets, your favorite blogger would probably able to give more and better blog and feel good about it if a few more bucks were coming in.

And, finally, this is not a plea for me - go give to other people.

Reverse Robin Hood

I do think it's time our press corps internalized the notion that Bush's trust fund swindle amounts to stealing trillions of dollars from poor and middle class people and giving it to rich people. That's the plan, anyway...


This whole C-Span thing just gets weirder and weirder. From Orcinus:

Why, one must ask, did a program about books ask Reid to come talk about a trial?


In every previous broadcast of both shows, it has simply let the author come on and talk about his or her book. Why not Lipstadt?

DeLay Everywhere

Jerome and Roger tell us about Brian Darling and his Tom DeLay connection.

Bobo's World

Patriotism, Bobo style.

(just to add, I don't think Mickel himself can be slotted into any neat political classification. He's more unabomberish.)


Oh well, the Blog of the Year and their allies at Reverend Moon's Washington Times will just move on to making up some other story...
The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night.

Brian H. Darling, 39, a former lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group on gun rights and other issues, offered his resignation and it was immediately accepted, Martinez said.

Martinez, the GOP's Senate point man on the issue, said he earlier had been assured by aides that his office had nothing to do with producing the memo. "I never did an investigation, as such," he said. "I just took it for granted that we wouldn't be that stupid. It was never my intention to in any way politicize this issue."

Martinez, a freshman who was secretary of housing and urban development for most of President Bush's first term, said he had not read the one-page memo. He said he inadvertently passed it to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who had worked with him on the issue. After that, officials gave the memo to reporters for ABC News and The Washington Post.

Harkin said in an interview that Martinez handed him the memo on the Senate floor, in hopes of gaining his support for the bill giving federal courts jurisdiction in the Florida case in an effort to restore the brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube. "He said these were talking points -- something that we're working on here," Harkin said.

Oh, never mind... assrocket is still beating the drum nonetheless.

...and, John provides the full wank of wankers.

...Oh Lordy, Ho Howie was going to have assrocket on his show. From Armando:

So Kurtz was going further to spread this bullshit, and basically call his fellow Post reporter Allen a liar, on the basis of Hindrocket's "sterling" analysis and speculation? Give me a fucking break.

He deserved to be burned. Hindrocket is Kurtz's own personal Curveball.

I'm laughing my ass off. And I betcha Mike Allen is too.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Late Night


For Fucks Sake

Could there be any bigger morons than the phallus-obsessed bunch at the powerline ("blog of the year!")?

(via Digby)

Oh Wow, Even More DeLay

Maybe the liberal media IS out to get him:

April 5, 2005 — The good news reached the Jamestown, N.Y., office of Dr. Rudolph Mueller in a fax from a congressman in Washington. Mueller had been named 2004 Physician of the Year.

"My secretary came running in and said, 'Dr. Rudy, look at what you've won, you're Physician of the Year,' " said Mueller, an internist.

But to receive the award in person at a special two-day workshop in Washington last month, Mueller found out that he would have to make a $1,250 contribution to the National Republican Congressional Committee. It was a disturbing discovery, he said.


To see what the award process was all about, Mueller sent in his $1,250 contribution and ABC News paid for his travel to Washington for the scheduled events March 14-15, which included a tax-reform workshop as well as appearances by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and President Bush.

Mueller soon found he was not the only winner. There were hundreds of Physicians of the Year present, many of whom found the criteria for being selected equally as opaque.

You Know What I Miss?

Back when my identity was a state secret almost every time I would write something about economics, someone would write in and tell me not to quit my day job to become an economist.

Joke's on them! I thought. My day job IS being an economist.

Okay, it's not that funny...

Tangled Web

Garance uncovers a whole mess of DeLay related corruption program activities.

Torture Lou

It's been awhile, but he really deserves it...


16 dead in Afghanistan helicopter crash.

Bush Panics Nation

Washington (EFX) -- Yesterday President Bush caused massive financial panic which led to bank defaults around the nation when he informed the American public of a previously unknown feature of the American banking system:

"A lot of people in America think there is a vault -- and banks take the money you deposit then hold it for you until you want it back and then they give it back to you," Bush said later in a speech at the University of West Virginia at Parkersburg. "But that's not the way it works. There is no money in the vault, just IOUs that I saw firsthand."

While President Bush's remarks were not entirely correct -- there is in fact some money in the vaults of banks -- it is true that most of the deposits have in fact been spent or loaned to other people. While most people imagine that their savings account contains real money, it is in fact just an IOU.

DeFazio on the Latest Bush Atrocity

On the House floor:

Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, well, the President was on the road again today with yet another tightly controlled scripted, so-called town hall, before a carefully screened, invitation audience to tout to his plan to privatize Social Security.

Now, that is not unusual; in fact, the scripted town halls are all so similar that they can save the taxpayers a lot of money if he just stayed at Camp David or Crawford, Texas, and they just replayed the recordings of his earlier scripted, rehearsed town halls.

But the President did say today something extraordinary, in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and suggested something unconscionable. The President said, ``There is no trust fund.'' And then he went on to suggest that our Nation might not honor its debt to Social Security. This is what the President said does not exist.

Let me read from this. This is a Social Security Trust Fund bond, considered the best investments in the world, U.S. Treasury Bond. This is the most privileged of Treasury bonds issued to Social Security, redeemable at any time at full face value, unlike any other bond that they issue. These are the most privileged of their bonds. The President says it is nothing but an IOU. Well, here is what it says: This bond is incontestable in the hands of the Federal Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund. The bond is supported by the full faith and credit of the United States. And the United States is pledged to the payment of the bond with respect to both principal and interest.

The President questions that? He is questioning whether we are going to repay our most privileged debt to Social Security. We have $7.9 trillion of debt. He is adding to it at a record rate, borrowing $1.3 million a minute. Who is he saying we are going to repay and not repay?

Are we going to repay the Chinese but not the Social Security Trust Fund? Are we going to repay President Bush, he happens to have some U.S. Treasury Bonds in his personal portfolio, but not the Social Security Trust Fund? Are we going to repay other wealthy investors around the world and in the U.S., but not the Social Security Trust Fund? We are going to selectively default on our debt.

Suggesting something like that, if the bond markets believed the President, the dollar would drop to near zero tomorrow, and there would be an economic catastrophe, but they do not believe him. They know this is just politics and rhetoric on his part. There is no intention of the Government of the United States defaulting on its debt.

This year Social Security will collect $170 billion more than it needs to pay Social Security benefits, and they are invested in the trust fund. If what the President said is true, there is no trust fund, and we are not going to honor it, then Congress and the President are perpetrating a fraud of extraordinary magnitude on the working people of America, extorting through taxes $170 billion more than they need to pay current benefits that this President has no intention of repaying. That is unbelievable.

Every minute, every minute, this President and this Congress are borrowing $320,000 of Social Security taxes and spending it on something else. And the President says he is replacing it with worthless IOUs; they are not bonds, they are not investments. He questions whether they will be repaid. He questions the full faith and credit of the Government of the United States of America and its willingness, our willingness, to meet our obligations and our debt.

If what the President says is true, then we ought to give the working people of America, instead of the rich people of America, the biggest tax cut in history. Reduce the Social Security tax, which falls more heavily on working people. More working Americans pay more in Social Security taxes than they do income taxes to the Federal Government.

If he has no intention of repaying that $170 billion that he is borrowing this year of excess Social Security taxes, then we should not collect it under false pretenses. We should give people a big tax break. That would stimulate small business, employment, and put a lot of money in the pockets of working people. I am not advocating that.

But if he does not repay it, he should be advocating it, and instead of trying to switch the game and having an irrelevant debate over a so-called privatization plan which actually makes the funding problems of Social Security worse and would require another few trillion dollars of borrowing, in which I guess people would get these worthless bonds that the President questions.

Now, who is going to buy those worthless bonds? How is he going to continue to run the Government of the United States borrowing $1.3 million a minute if the bonds of this country are worthless?

This is an extraordinary and reckless statement for the elected President of the United States to make.

101st Whining Losers

Greg Mitchell chimes in on the latest shameful behavior by the Wingnutosphere.


From Boxer's office:



Washington, D.C.– During a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was shocked and disappointed by EPA Administrator Nominee Stephen Johnson’s failure to condemn a pending EPA program to test pesticides on children.

The program, the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study, or CHEERS, would pay the parent of a baby up to $970 if they expose their child to household pesticides and other toxins over a two-year period. The parents are also given a camcorder, which they can keep, to tape the child’s activities and reactions.

Boxer said, “The idea that the Administration would pay parents to expose their children to toxins is absolutely reprehensible. Further the fact that EPA told parents there was no risk to participating in the study is unconscionable.”

The EPA, National Academy of Sciences, and American Public Health Association have all stated that children are especially vulnerable to pesticides. Pesticides can cause cancer and adversely affect a child’s neurological, reproductive, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems, even at low levels.

The program, which is sponsored primarily by the EPA, is also sponsored by the American Chemistry Council, which reportedly agreed to give the EPA $2 million to conduct the study.

Johnson said that the program had not been cancelled, and he made no commitment to do so.

Boxer said, “The moral and ethical issues surrounding this program are overwhelming, and Mr. Johnson’s failure to outright condemn the CHEERS program and cancel it is unacceptable.”


It appears the program has been temporarily suspended, but hopefully you'll be able to sign your kids up soon! But, let me warn you, this is what happens when you're exposed to pesticides:

Rugrats in the Academy

Professor B has a post about parental issues in academia, which I'll just use as a springboard for this observation: I've always been struck by the fact that "liberal" academia is frequently extraordinarily parent-unfriendly. Teaching college is exactly the kind of job which, with very minor accomodations by the employer, should be compatible with raising young kids. But, they lack facilities, child care support, and meaningful maternity leave. Institutions tend to be overly hostile for no good reason to parents who occasionally bring their kids to campus. And, the treatment of untenured female faculty members who have babies is unbelievable, even as they encourage you to put down local roots so you're less likely to scamper off somewhere else.


Waas's Plame story for the Prospect wasn't that exciting, but he promises more juicyness on his blog shortly....

Just When You Think...

...the Right can't get any more disgusting, they manage to.

Why Bloggers?

What amazes me about all of this talk about the FEC and bloggers is that seemingly sensible people think it's important to place disclosure requirements on bloggers which apply to no one else in the universe. That is, they want to make legal disclosure requirements for some idiot with a web page, which wouldn't apply when that idiot appears on television or writes an op-ed or hosts a radio program or anything else. Rick Hasen of Loyola writes:

I'd like to see disclosure by paid bloggers along the lines of 11 C.F.R. 110.11, which, if applied to paid bloggers, would require something like a statement on each page view that says something to the effect of "Paid for by Smith for Congress, an authorized campaign committee." I don't think a single disclosure or disclosure on the home page is enough because those who follow a link to a particular page on the site won't see the disclosure.

The disclosure is important because readers can more easily judge the credibility of a blogger and blog post knowing the person is getting paid to write on the topic

But, campaign finance and election laws don't exist to satisfy Rick Hasen's desire for people to be able to "more easily judge the credibility of a blogger and blog post knowing the person is getting paid to write on the topic." That isn't their purpose. And, existing laws, including the one referenced, don't require this kind of disclosure for people appearing in or writing for any other medium.

If I'm getting paid to stuff envelopes for a Congressional race, and I call a radio show and plug my candidate, I'm not legally required to disclose. If I'm getting paid to provide consulting on internet outreach to a candidate and I go on MSNBC to talk politics, I'm not required to disclose. The radio show may expect that I'll disclose. MSNBC may expect that I'll disclose. However, I'm not legally required to do so. The entire pundit/consultant class would be shut down if every time they opened their mouths they had to disclose all of their financial ties to candidates.

There's a distinction between "paid advertising" and "some guy who gets paid and also talks about politics in various media outlets, including blogs."

Blogs have a miniscule reach compared to TV, radio, newspapers, etc... and no one working in those outlets has a legal requirement to disclose their connections to candidates. There maybe ethical guidelines, there may be company policies, but there are no legal requirements. Why is blogging so goddamn special that it needs to be singled out in this way?

...and, to add, I do think that it would be possible for a blog run by someone working for a candidate to qualify as a "paid advertisement" - if the person running the blog was being paid *to run the blog.* Then, it would be as much a campaign website as the actual campaign website. If last year the Kerry campaign called and offered me $5000 to write nice things about Big John, and I did so, arguably that would qualify as a paid advertisement. But, that's a pretty high bar and in no way should apply across the board to anyone who gets money from a candidate for any reason and happens to babble away on the internets.


Byron York's new book cover is truly hilarious, as it mostly serves to highlight just how pathetic "the vast left-wing conspiracy" is.

But, the book's extended title is even more ridiculous:"How [assorted evil liberals] Tried to Bring Down a President and Why They'll Try Even Harder Next time."

Well, "next time" presumably is 2008, at which point unless there are some constitutional amendments pending that I'm not aware of, we won't be trying to "bring down a president" through that subversive communist activity known as an "election" because he'll be term-limited out.


VAT taxes are superior to sales taxes if you want to set the rate at a high level, but otherwise they're an especially burdensome tax on small businesses and the like. The accounting and compliance costs are fairly high, and I see no reason to add an entirely new tax on top of our already overly complicated tax system. We can raise huge amounts of additional revenue if we need it by doing fairly minor tweaks to our existing tax code, and adding an additional amount of regressivity is just a bad idea.

quibble with Ezra's post: sales taxes are only paid on retail goods, not wholesale ones - that's why the VAT tax only taxes the "value added" - to allow it to enact the tax at every stage of the production process without being overly distortionary on the production process itself. If sales taxes were applied to every wholesale transaction, then companies would simply vertically integrate to minimize the number of those transactions.

Morning Thread

play nice.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

And on and on...


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

Most of the payments to his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and his only child, Dani DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" or "payroll," with no additional details about how they earned the money. The payments appear to reflect what Mr. DeLay's aides say is the central role played by the majority leader's wife and daughter in his political career.

Mr. DeLay's national political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, said in a statement on Tuesday that the two women had provided valuable services to the committee in exchange for the payments: "Mrs. DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance and helps with personnel decisions. Ms. Ferro is a skilled and experienced professional event planner who assists Armpac in arranging and organizing individual events."

"Valuable Services?" true enough:

United Parcel Service provided a chartered flight between Washington and Las Vegas for between 50 and 60 people--including lobbyists, top aides and political supporters--at DeLay's request, according to a company spokesman. DeLay flew separately on a Federal Express corporate jet. Lobbyists with the National Association of Manufacturers, the D.C. law firm Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand, and the National Association of Convenience Stores were among those present for the weekend.

The weekend included a late-night party Saturday in DeLay's suite at the Rio Hotel and Casino, which featured a living room, bar and hot tub on the balcony. DeLay was not present, aides said; the event was hosted by his daughter, Dani Ferro, the campaign manager for DeLay's reelection campaign. After the party, Ferro told associates that a lobbyist poured champagne on her while she was in the hot tub.

...WaPo article's up too, which was shockingly written by "Steno" Sue Schmidt...


The story here isn't so much that DeLay's about to go down, it's that obviously he's being knifed by people on his own side:

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

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

open microwave, insert popcorn

Anyway, should've been obvious something like this was coming. Even the WSJ editorial board sent out a telegraph about a week ago.

We Hardly Knew Ye

Lobbyists funding DeLay trip to Russia during which he met with PM? Oh, say it isn't so Tom...

Where'd he Go?

Speaking of DeLay, he seems to have gone AWOL from the kill-the-judiciary conference. Fascinating.

...ah, apparently his presence was required at the Vatican. haha.

Poll vs. Poll

Some media shenanigans with DeLay poll numbers.

Social Security Road Show

35 days of bad news, 25 to go... (pdf)


Murray Waas promises big Plame news soon...

Hannity Sez Pope "Loony Liberal"


Lowest Approval Ever

According to Gallup, Bush's approval rating is the lowest of any president in March of their 2nd term - 45%.

A big part of the general deference the press gives this administration is based on this false notion that he's a popular president.

Sayeth the Fineman last week:

There’s a certain logic to the enterprise: don’t take on the Texas president, who remains popular, especially as commander-in-chief.

How low does Bush's approval have to go before WE STOP SAYING THAT.

Good Policy AND Good Politics

We can quibble about the details, but good for Bernie Sanders introducing legislation aimed at corrupt usury practices. If the Democrats could get behind stuff like this, then even if it doesn't pass they'd at least have taken a stand.

The constituency of people who are sick of getting screwed over by their credit card companies and nickle and dimed by their banks is vast. It's exactly these sorts of economic issues which once upon a time the Dems were clearly on the side of angels, and now they're just an incoherent muddle.

Whining Your Way to Irrelevancy

I notice some of you are bitching about the DLC latest "democrats and the people who vote for them are losers" whine. But, I think you're missing the point - no one cares anymore. The most prominent coverage of them is coming from the Washington Times. Who cares.

Senator Box Turtle

Think Progress has the Cornyn video.

Brit Politics

I stopped following it some time ago, though I used to be a pretty consistent observer. But, for those in the know, if by some chance the Tories beat Labour, is a Labour-LibDem coalition a possibility?

What is this Crap?


Lies and the Lying Liars

Cornyn's also a big fat liar, as is C. Boyden Gray.


Yglesias gets it right:

Does Senator Cornyn want more people to go about murdering judges? One doubts it. But it seems that he's happy to try and use such incidents to advance his own agenda. Happy to use them, one notes, even though the recent high-profile cases don't seem to actually have a political agenda. His hope -- along, it seems, though less clearly -- with Tom DeLay's is that judges will begin to operate under a cloud of intimidation. They may not like the idea of buckling under to whatever it is Cornyn wants them to do, but Cornyn is making it clear that he's the judges' friends. He doesn't want to see them killed, or maimed, or assaulted. He's trying to save them. Trying to warn them. Warning them that unless they change their ways someone -- someone who has nothing to do with John Cornyn or the Texas cabal running the country, mind you -- just might decide to do something crazy. But here's Cornyn offering a safe harbor. Confirm all of Bush's nominees, no matter how incompetent, corrupt, or inept they are, no matter how unsound their view of the constitution. And for the others, try to conform your views to those of Bush's new appointees. Do it and you'll be safe. If you don't do it, well, then, certainly John Cornyn wouldn't advocate killing you, he's just pointing out that it will happen.


What it reminds me most of in recent times in Samuel Huntington's "warning" in Who We Are which "warns" that unless we curb immigration (or the immigration of Latin Americans, or the immigration of Mexicans, Huntington never quite seems sure which he means) we risk a white nativist backlash. Not from Huntington, of course. He's no racist. But others are. And they might lash back if we don't close the borders. He's just offering a warning. Just pointing out an empirical relationship. Not threatening anybody. Of course not, that would be wrong.

Back to Cornyn -- who's kidding whom here? I've already seen some folks on the right try to explain this away. He was just offering an analytic point, noting the existence of anger about some judicial decisions, some anti-judge violence, and offering some speculations. Sure he was. Nevermind that he and his ilk are the ones whipping up the anger. It wouldn't cross his mind to tone down and suggest that his colleagues do likewise. Suggest that in the wake of some murders and some controversial court cases that we all agree that we are a country under law and that despite disagreements we should respect judicial offices and their holders. No. Far better to note that there may be a connection between non-Cornyn-approved court rulings and the murder of judges. He's just trying to be helpful.

Morning Thread

Have fun.

boo UNC.

Monday, April 04, 2005


I had a shitty day today. I have a wee problem - I tend to almost faint when blood is taken from me. Combine that with the fact that my veins apparently took off for Aruba, and it took 20-30 mins. to get a few drops out of me today, I really wasn't enjoying myself.

I have no idea why blood extraction makes me faint. I don't have a problem with gore of all kinds, but for some reason any semi-realisitic medical stuff tends to make me go woozy. Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction make me giggle, the organ transplant show on PBS freaks me out. The apex of this was when I actually fainted while watching movie - not a big deal, except for the fact that one of the stars of this movie was a cousin of Mrs. Atrios.

"Senator Links Violence to 'Political' Decisions"


Sen. John Cornyn said yesterday that recent examples of courthouse violence may be linked to public anger over judges who make politically charged decisions without being held accountable.

In a Senate floor speech in which he sharply criticized a recent Supreme Court ruling on the death penalty, Cornyn (R-Tex.) -- a former Texas Supreme Court justice and member of the Judiciary Committee -- said Americans are growing increasingly frustrated by what he describes as activist jurists


Cornyn, who spoke in a nearly empty chamber, did not specify cases of violence against judges. Two fatal episodes made headlines this year, although authorities said the motives appeared to be personal, not political. In Chicago, a man fatally shot the husband and mother of a federal judge who had ruled against him in a medical malpractice suit. And in Atlanta last month, a man broke away from a deputy and fatally shot four people, including the judge presiding over his rape trial.



National Press Club Officials Dumber Than "Hat the Troll"

I was about to say it's hard to believe, but then I remembered who I was talking about.

Conyers Statement

Conyers on Cornyn's "apparent effort to rationalize violence against judges."


Senator Cornyn on the Senate floor today (no link):

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

...John's right, this really is a resignation causing statement. We get so used to hearing this kind of wingnuttery, and while it's wrong when Michael Savage says something like this, it's certainly way beyond any standard of decency for a United States Senator. And, as Josh points out, it's certainly fascinating for Senator Cornyn to find common cause with murderer and accused rapist Brian Nichols:

So the recent murders of judges and then families are blow-back from widespread judicial activism?

Suddenly the folks in robes are like the girl who dresses too provocatively to the fraternity dance.

And who knew Cornyn and crew wanted to embrace Brian Nichols, the accused rapist who murdered Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes and three others last month, as one of their own?

Nuke 'Em

Frankly, I'm basically hoping that the Republicans go ahead with their "nuclear option" threat and that the Democrats follow up by making good on their signalled intent to make it a nightmare to actually get anything done. I'd be more than happy for the Republicans to stop actually passing new legislation and, oddly, this kind of showdown might actually force Republicans to engage in the lost art of compromise.

Open Thread


Unmarketable Securities

One of the reasons given for why the Social Security trust fund is a myth (even as they say we need to make that mythical trust fund solvent until infinity and beyond) is that the Treasury Bonds in the trust fund are somehow different than normal T-Bills because, by law, they can't be traded.

Well, boys and girls, can we think of another well-known financial asset marketed by the U.S. Government which can't be traded?

Personal Savings Bonds. I guess they're just "bits of paper" or "meaningless IOUs" or whatever.


Call the office of Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and demand that he do his job and unite the Democrats in the House against this atrocity of a bankruptcy bill. Point out that this is an important issue for working Americans, and one the Democrats should have a clear position on.

Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, U.S. House of Representatives
1705 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone - (202) 225-4131 Fax - (202) 225-4300

Serving Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties:

Northern District Office
Congressman Steny H. Hoyer
U.S. District Courthouse
6500 Cherrywood Lane Suite 310
Greenbelt, MD 20770
Phone - (301) 474-0119 Fax - (301) 474-4697

Serving Charles and St. Mary's Counties:

Southern District Office
Congressman Steny H. Hoyer
401 Post Office Road, Ste. 202
Waldorf, MD 20602
Phone - (301) 843-1577 Fax - (301) 843-1331


I for one was looking forward to the split screen coverage of the royal wedding and the papal funeral.

[note to trolls: mocking the media coverage of an event is not the same as mocking an event.]

Paging Randall Terry


He spent his final hours in his Vatican apartment, surrounded by nine members of his mainly Polish inner circle. Three doctors were present, but no elaborate hospital technology to help prolong his life.

Just before the end, the pope's longtime secretary celebrated Mass and began to anoint the pope's hands with oil, according to one account. John Paul gripped his secretary's hand, an apparent farewell gesture to a faithful aide who helped the pontiff fulfill his wish to die unencumbered by tubes and machines. It was 9:37 p.m. Saturday.

The cause of death was septic shock and irreversible heart failure, according to the death certificate made public Sunday by the Vatican. John Paul's decision last week not to return to the Gemelli Polyclinic hospital where he had spent so much time in recent years mirrored decisions made every day by severely ill patients and their families.

"Ordinary Poles"

This is just stunning.

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being on TV

Terry Neal dares to address the obvious:
If you had tuned into NBC's "Meet the Press" last week, you would have seen six men sitting around a table talking about religion for a special show about faith in America.

Of those six men, five were white. The other was an Iranian American. In a vacuum, this would mean little. Few people are looking for a racial or gender quota system, and the men knew their subject. But it underscores a larger point that women and minorities are still too often unrepresented in the punditry class.


On the other hand, every one of the 49 women he featured on his show was white. In fact, only two African American women -- PBS's Gwen Ifill (who appeared on "Meet the Press") and Donna Brazile (who appeared on "This Week") -- appeared on any of the shows during the FAIR study.

There's some good stuff about what wankers Chris Matthews and Brian Williams are, too.

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


I'm not a Catholic, and to a great degree it's none of my business what the Catholic Church does. However, as with any large religion its leaders have a political impact which I do care about, and obviously the Pope in particular has a degree of power which no other religious leader has, at least in the Western world.

Along these lines, I think it would be quite a good thing if our media, particularly the Russert-Matthews-Noonan axis-of-Catholictory which is quite prominent, took note of these poll numbers on American Catholic opinion (Josh doesn't provide a link to this, so I'll just link him):

A majority of U.S. Catholics surveyed want the next pope to have a theological outlook similar to that of Pope John Paul II, but they would also like to see changes on issues such as birth control, stem cell research and allowing priests to marry, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Sunday.
As the article notes further down into the piece ...

Seventy-eight percent said the next pope should allow Catholics to use birth control, 63 percent said he should let priests marry and 59 percent said the next pope should have a less-strict policy on stem cell research.

These numbers are quite stunning. I would've expected a majority on the birth control numbers, slightly less than 50% on the stem cell question, and maybe 40% max on the female priest question. While I have no deep understanding of the Catholic church or its members, I would assert that the public media face of Catholicism would've led me to expect much lower percentages on these questions than I thought, and thereforely obviously much lower answers than the polls provide.

We'll get a new Pope soon, and who knows what his views will be. But, it's clear to me that the public face of Catholicism is way way way out of step with the views of American catholics.


Not being very familiar with her other stuff, I'll add to the chorus saying the "lost" (not released and then leaked) Fiona Apple album is quite good. I was inspired to hunt it down by this description in the NYT:

n 2002 and 2003, Fiona Apple recorded what would have been her third album, "Extraordinary Machine." Its producer, Jon Brion, has said that Ms. Apple's label, Sony Music's Epic Records, shelved the album because it didn't hear potential hit singles. An Epic spokeswoman said, "Fiona has not yet delivered her next album." Lately, what purports to be the full album, 11 songs, has been leaked onto the Internet, where - despite the efforts of Sony's legal department - a simple search will find multiple sources of downloads. The album is an oddball gem.

Its producer, Mr. Brion, is fond of instruments that huff and plink and wheeze, as he showed in his soundtrack for "I (heart) Huckabees." Epic may have been discomfited that Ms. Apple's collaboration with him doesn't sound anything like what's on the radio now. As a songwriter, she's the same Fiona Apple who sold millions of copies of her first two albums; she's still sultry and sullen, obsessing in detail over why her romances went wrong and teetering between regret and revenge. Her vocals smolder like torch songs, then boil over with rage and accusations. But this time, the music doesn't always mope with her.

While the "huff and plink and wheeze" which was present in the Huckabees soundtrack isn't as in the forefront in the Apple album as the reviewer suggests, it is present and something that I quite liked about the movie soundtrack.

Google it, you'll find it...

Evening Thread

Have fun.


Piggybacking on top of this Digby post, I think the dynamic that's at play now is interesting. I guess I always sort of believed that the attacks on the judiciary by wingnuttia was simply a ploy to intimidate liberal judges until they could finish stacking the courts with their own. But, lately it seems that either this isn't true or that many of them have forgotten that this was the plan. It seems that they actually want to undermine the judicial branch completely, which I find rather weird.


There's always been a kind of can't quite put your finger on it creepyness about C-Span. But, their behavior surrounding the Lipstadt/Irving issue points to the possibility that there's something seriously creepy about the people who run the place.


Gil Smart has a good column about the waning of the conservative movement. I think he's about right - it is probably at its apex, especially if they (and, please please do) keep clinging to Tom DeLay instead of throwing him overboard before he brings them all down.

The only we we'll get a massive conservative crackup is if they spend the next 18 months pushing Schiavo-esque issues onto the media and the rest of us. But, I think their recent behavior in the Schiavo case, and the probability that DeLay will cling to power for at least a few more months will lead enough people to decide enough is enough. They could still recover entirely from this if they do a 180 and send Randall Terry packing for awhile, but I don't think he's going anywhere. This is actually one place where CNN's (and others) complete deference to these wingnuts might actually be advantageous. Maybe we should write and suggest Mr. Terry gets his own show.

Wingnuttery Everywhere

Whenever I do any sort of public presentation on blogging, one point I try to get across is that I appreciate all the attention being paid to bloggers and their ethics and their accuracy and their influence on journalism, but where have you been? Why has there been so little attention paid to talk radio, Regnery books, Fox News, etc...? All of these things, and other media outlets, have serious problems with accuracy and have certainly had a giant impact on the practice of journalism. Rampant wingnuttery filled with falsehoods surrounds us everywhere, but few dare mention it.

If I were running CNN, once I fired most of the people that worked there and replaced them with decent TV journalists, I'd get rid of their little daily blog show and replace it with the "Fox News Fuckup of the day." They could just steal it from Media Matters. Then I'd add a "crazy shit people are hearing on talk radio which aren't true" segment.

"Fully Variable"

I regularly bash adjustable rate mortgages (and by extension the people who get them) on this site. Usually a few people jump in and say that they have an ARM, but it isn't an issue because they locked in rates for X years so it's not a big deal. And, fair enough -- just because the ARM trend, blessed by Uncle Alan Greenspan, is scary overall does not mean that every person who gets one is an idiot. But, then reading this rather creepy LA Times article on the housing market I came across this paragraph which scared the shit out of me (along with lots of other paragraphs):

The number of buyers falling into this category in any given month is unclear. But a California home builder recently got a sense when he sought to answer this question: How many of the potential buyers of his houses could still afford them if interest rates went up even a little?

To find out, the builder conducted a little experiment.

His firm's preferred lender had pre-qualified 90 potential buyers for a group of new houses. Since the houses wouldn't be ready for another six months, the builder tightened the loan criteria. He didn't want buyers to sign up for a house and then get frightened into canceling by rising rates.

He raised the threshold from a fully variable loan, the easiest to get since it immediately moves upward when rates increase, to a mortgage that was fixed for the first three years. That would shield buyers from rate jumps for at least a little while, but it's also more expensive.

Under the higher threshold, only about 15 of the buyers still qualified.

Are substantial numbers of people really getting ARMs with no rate lock-in at all? At a time when rates are virtually guaranteed to go up? scary.

Morning Thread