Saturday, April 02, 2005

Spring Forward

Happy Daylight Savings.

What's the Matter with Montana?

Something strange is afoot at the Helena Circle K....

HELENA - Montana lawmakers overwhelmingly passed what its sponsor called the nation's most strongly worded criticism of the federal Patriot Act on Friday, uniting politicians of all stripes.

The resolution, which already galloped through the Senate and passed the House 88-12 Friday, must survive a final vote before it officially passes.


Pointing out the absurdity of wall-to-wall coverage of a dead pope is in no way meant to diminish the fact that yes, indeed, a dead pope is a big deal. And, there are in fact plenty of legitimate stories and lots of interesting discussion that could take place - such as the politics of the selection of the new pope. But, as Blitzer daintily tried to broach that subject yesterday he was informed by a guest that (paraphrasing) "Catholics believe that the pope is chosen by God, so there's no need to discuss any of that."

That may in fact be true for all I know, but nonetheless God's decision-making process will play out here on Earth as as a political smackdown, and the result of that process will have fairly big international repercussions. So, for us mortals, some discussion of these issues might be useful. At least as useful as the Vatican-cam.

...and, oy, I know that when a man dies it's not the time to piss all over him and his supporters unless his last name is Wellstone, but that's no reason to lie about the views of an almost entirely unrelated group of people.

Give it Back, Rudy


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A South Carolina lawmaker has asked Rudy Giuliani to pay back all of a $100,000 fee he was given by a hospital group for a speech at a tsunami relief fund-raiser two months ago.

Giuliani donated $20,000 of the fee and kept the rest after the Feb. 9 event in Columbia.

The sponsor of the event, the South Carolina Hospital Association, said Giuliani gave back twice what they asked for and the group has no problem with him keeping the other $80,000.

But Rep. Tracy Edge, R-North Myrtle Beach, said he is upset because the speech was widely publicized as a charity event.

"Nowhere was it disclosed that Mayor Giuliani was being paid for his appearance," said Edge, who wants the former New York mayor to repay the entire amount

Saturday Evening Thread



WASHINGTON - A group of 40 to 60 insurgents attacked the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq late Saturday in a well-coordinated assault that inflicted 18 American casualties, U.S. military officials told NBC News.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, could not immediately provide a breakdown on the number of dead or wounded.

Fortunately, it appears they're using the actual definition of "casualty" rather than the one they've been using for the past couple of years, so 18 casualties are hopefully not 18 dead. I do wish the media would be consistent on this.

Bobo's World


JEFFERSON COUNTY - Dakota Ridge High School is a typical suburban school, one boasting a record of achievement in academics, music, drama and sports.

More than 92 percent of its 1,600 students graduate, and 85 percent of those pursue higher education - this compared to a district-wide average of 72 percent.

The school, tucked into a scenic setting between a large open space park and the foothills, serves an affluent population and posts high marks on most measures of academic performance.

Against this glossy facade, however, a dark subculture of sexual seduction developed after the school opened in 1996.

A handful of teachers used their positions to "groom" young female students for eventual sexual relationships, according to a 300-page report of witness statements compiled by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office into accusations against a single teacher.

The investigative report, obtained this week by the Rocky Mountain News, contains reports of teachers drinking at parties with students, of girls visiting the rooms of coaches during out-of-town trips and of teachers developing platonic friendships with students that became sexual relationships shortly after graduation.

The investigation resulted in the conviction of former Dakota Ridge teacher and tennis coach Kevin Ponis, who is serving a prison sentence of 11-years to life for having had an ongoing sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.

Shorter Panel

Was on a panel today:

Shorter Michael Wolff: The news industry is doooooomed.
Shorter Atrios: print journalists no longer control what stories are deemed important
Shorter Steve Goldsten: It's not as bad as you two are saying

Something like that, anyway.

More Thread

Have fun.

Morning Thread

Go. Out for awhile.


Bibamaus has a bit of fun with a fast declining reputation.

I once attended a public "for the masses" talk by Mankiw. During the talk he argued that our public policy debates would be much more informed if more people had a bit of econ under their belt (a reasonable position, especially if you're hawking your latest intro econ book). As an illustration, he argued that if people understand the economic argument against rent control, that they would vote to end rent control laws, even if those laws benefitted them personally.

An economist arguing that people would vote for policies which go against their own self-interest is truly a bizarre economist.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Nobel Prize Nominee Sean Hannity

Strange, but true.

Late Night


Friday Cat Blogging



April 1, 2005 (CHICAGO) — Governor Rod Blagojevich today filed an emergency rule with the Illinois Secretary of State's office requiring birth control prescriptions be filled without delay at pharmacies selling contraceptives.

Under the rule, if the contraceptive is not in stock, the pharmacy must order it or, if the patient prefers, transfer the prescription to a nearby pharmacy.

If the pharmacist does not fill the prescription because of a moral objection, another pharmacist must be available to fill it. The emergency rule takes effect immediately and stays in effect for 150 days.

Blagojevich is a result of a Chicago pharmacist recently refusing to fill orders for contraceptives because of moral opposition.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has cited the Osco pharmacy where the incident occurred for "failing to provide appropriate pharmaceutical care to a patient."


Santorum's an even bigger wanker than I thought.

Stealing Your Retirement

One of the unanswered questions about Bush's non-plan for Social Security is whether or not creditors could take your private account. Russ raises another question -- would your private account count towards your asset test for Medicaid eligibility.

Lies and the Lying Liars

How does Brit Hume keep his job? I mean, seriously. We know that infinite allowances for deviating from the truth are granted O'Reilly and little O'Reilly and the rest of the gang, but Hume is supposed to be the respectable serious journalist at Fox.

The Cult of the Deathwatch

This really is getting out of hand. living will now includes the request that, when I'm on my deathbed, Sanjay Gupta will not be informing the American public exactly which of my bodily fluids are flowing where...

...Pope dead...or maybe not.

They Write Letters

Senator Lautenberg writes a letter:

April 1, 2005

Tom DeLay
Majority Leader
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Majority Leader DeLay,

I was stunned to read the threatening comments you made yesterday against Federal judges and our nation’s courts of law in general. In reference to certain Federal judges, you stated: “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.”

As you are surely aware, the family of Federal Judge Joan H. Lefkow of Illinois was recently murdered in their home. And at the state level, Judge Rowland W. Barnes and others in his courtroom were gunned down in Georgia.

Our nation’s judges must be concerned for their safety and security when they are asked to make difficult decisions every day. That’s why comments like those you made are not only irresponsible, but downright dangerous. To make matters worse, is it appropriate to make threats directed at specific Federal and state judges?

You should be aware that your comments yesterday may violate a Federal criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. §115 (a)(1)(B). That law states:

“Whoever threatens to assault…. or murder, a United States judge… with intent to retaliate against such… judge…. on account of the performance of official duties, shall be punished [by up to six years in prison]”

Threats against specific Federal judges are not only a serious crime, but also beneath a Member of Congress. In my view, the true measure of democracy is how it dispenses justice. Your attempt to intimidate judges in America not only threatens our courts, but our fundamental democracy as well.

Federal judges, as well as state and local judges in our nation, are honorable public servants who make difficult decisions every day. You owe them – and all Americans – an apology for your reckless statements.


Frank R. Lautenberg

Run by the Crazies

Fox News was uniformly on the side of the Schindlers, despite the fact that their own polls are against them. It's really rather weird - of course, Fox wasn't all that much worse than the other networks on this issue.

I wonder of our ethical media will learn any lessons from this? And, yes, that last line was my April Fool's joke of the day.

The Unders Win

I'd forgotten it was jobs day, so I didn't put my over/under bet in, but the unders have won again. Consensus: 225K new jobs. Actual: +110K, which as we know isn't enough to keep up with the increase in working age population...

Fact Chuck

You've got to be fucking kidding me.
(via pandagon)


She's just effing crazy.

...and, jeebus, someone dropped acid in jonah goldberg's cornflakes this morning.

Defending Academic Freedom

Colleges should hire more right wingers:

Students expressed shock last week when a popular history professor suddenly was dismissed. Then many expressed disbelief after they discovered an audio-enhanced website where he spoke out against Jews and blacks, including FDU basketball players.

"He was my favorite professor," said one student. "I can't believe it is the same man."

In fact, Jacques Pluss, an adjunct professor at the Metropolitan Campus, openly discussed his March 21 dismissal from Fairleigh Dickinson in a 44-minute interview on a website of the National Socialist Movement designed with swastikas and a picture of Adolf Hitler.

Pluss said he was "removed" from his classroom duties when he received a brief phone call at 5:30 p.m. from the department chairman who, he said, told him he was being released "for the convenience of the university" the following day. "I was stolen away in the night," he said. Pluss reported that he will be paid his salary through the end of this semester. He also said he will retire from "the academic world" and devote himself to the cause of the White Aryan Race Nation.

The professor speculated that he was dismissed because of his work with the National Socialist Movement on the internet, adding that the university "followed the typical Jewish, lawyerly, Hebrew line." He suggested that a "watchdog group" may have alerted FDU about his activities beyond the classroom.

During one segment of the conversation, Pluss said the university did not want adverse publicity while its Division 1 basketball team was in the NCAA playoffs. He said the players are "n--- to the core" and "sit in the back of my class with CDs and earphones" listening to "ghastly rap music."

Earlier in the same broadcast, Pluss referred to the "browning of America" and called FDU a "heavily Judaized institution" with a large minority student population. He said those students are "floating their way through school on taxpayer dollars," adding that it (FDU) is "not just browned, but singed." He also discussed attending a recent "gathering" of the White Aryan Race Nation in South Carolina, commenting that he had been gratified by the turnout.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Late Night

Present your nomination for best ensemble song from a musical in the last 10 years.

My nomination: La Resistance, from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.

or, just have another open thread.



It was fitting that reporters were in danger of outnumbering pro-life supporters outside Terri Schiavo's hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., on Thursday morning. When one man began to play the trumpet moments after Schiavo's death was announced at 9:50 a.m., a gaggle of cameramen quickly surrounded him, two or three deep.

Has there ever been a set of protesters so small, so out of proportion, so outnumbered by the press, for a story that had supposedly set off a "furious debate" nationwide? That's how described the Schiavo story this week. Although it's not clear how a country can have a "furious debate" when two-thirds of its citizens agree on the issue or, in the case of some Schiavo poll questions (i.e., Were Congress and President Bush wrong to intervene?), four out of five Americans agree.

But the "furious debate" angle has been a crucial selling point in the Schiavo story in part because editors and producers could never justify the extraordinary amount of time and resources they set aside for the story if reporters made plain in covering it every day that the issue was being driven by a very small minority who were out of step with the mainstream.


It's always nice to collect a scalp, but it's probably better to have an increasingly damaged DeLay in power than out. I think DeLay's pretty much carving his own epitaph here.

Open Thread

Play nice.


Back when Ellen Degeneres's character on her sitcom came out, the character was regularly referred to as prime time's "first openly gay character." I thought I was the only one who remembered Jodie Dallas, Billy Crystal's character on Soap.

When fans greet Billy Crystal at the Broadhurst's stage door, they're as likely to dish about his old sitcom as they are "700 Sundays."

"I get a lot of men who are now 40, but were 12 or 13 at the time and who found a positive role model in Jodie on 'Soap,'" Crystal said at the GLAAD Media Awards in the Marriott Marquis, where he was a top honoree.

Crystal rose to fame in the 1977-81 comedy playing Jodie Dallas, TV's first openly gay character.

At the time, gay groups accused him of promoting stereotypes, while religious zealots slammed ABC for airing the show at all. The hullabaloo died down after Crystal's character won the audience over.
When fans greet Billy Crystal at the Broadhurst's stage door, they're as likely to dish about his old sitcom as they are "700 Sundays."

It's stunning how stagnant/backwards the Reagan years were, and how we were once again "shocked," years later, by a gay character on the tube.

Don't Do it, Jon

The inevitable rumors (though, not necessarily true ones) swirl that ABC will try to steal the Daily Show from Comedy Central. While I'm sure that offer would come with significantly more moola than CC pays, it's impossible to believe that the Disney Network would give them the kind of freedom they currently enjoy...


Whenever one of these little sideshows happen, the players are desperate to stir up another one. Something to look forward to...

They Get Letters


From BRIAN MORTON, Baltimore City Paper: I find it quite amusing that the National Press Club has now closed off its panel on "Who Is A Journalist" to "NPC members and credentialed media only" after originally opening it to the public. You see, when I wrote my political column at the Baltimore City Paper from 1994-96, I was credentialed to the House Periodical Press gallery. Since I resumed writing in in 2002, I haven't bothered to re-apply for those credentials, so I am now "uncredentialed" press. But to me, the real irony is, I'd wager that no fewer than three members of the panel -- Garrett Graff, Ana Marie Cox and of course, James Guckert, wouldn't be allowed to come in and see themselves pontificate from the dais, as they wouldn't otherwise meet the Press Club's own requirements.

And in response to Glenn Kenny's argument that "it's just one stupid
panel," Mr. Kenny, Matt Drudge addressed the NPC before, and has used
it as a resume item ever since -- I believe he still keeps a link to the text of his address on his website. So, unless you want to hear about "Jim Gannon, the courageous journalist who spoke before the prestigious National Press Club" every time he's paid to trot out before some conservative organization and blast the "mainstream media," you might want to invest in it a little more concern. Me, I'm waiting to see the NPC panel: "Plagiarism: Does It Hurt Your Career?" Aside from Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair, perhaps, since the NPC's Jonathan Salant doesn't consider Guckert a journalist, recent revelelations might suggest he would be a more appropriate person to join them.


I think we've now gained pretty key insight into the psychosis that has gripped the Washington Post editorial board. Apparently it is their belief that one should not criticize leaders for doing so could undermine them.


SpongeDob Stickypants

Today on CNN:

But the aspect of it that concerns us the most is that all the great moral decisions in this country, whether it's the sanctity of life or the definition of marriage, or what we can do with the Ten Commandments, all of them are made by the courts. Our founding fathers intended that this would be a government of the people, by the people, for the people. But now the final arbiter of every significant moral issue comes down to unelected, unaccountable judges to the judiciary.


But neither of them check the courts. They're totally out of control. And there is, you know, almost a feeling of futility when it comes to the courts handing down decisions that contradict the will of the people.

You know, we saw it two weeks ago with regard to executing minors. Seventy percent of the people disagree with that. It doesn't matter what the people think and the -- neither the executive nor the legislature will step in.

DeLay Makes Threats


Funnier Every Day

Why do these panel thingies always just get sillier and siller...

...and JimmyJeff GannonGuckert gets busted for more plagiarism...

Saint Rudy

Holy crap. Can we please have Rudy just go away now:

The most vivid recent example occurred on Feb. 9 in Columbia, S.C. Mr. Giuliani had initially been booked by the South Carolina Hospital Association through the Washington Speakers Bureau to speak for his usual $100,000 fee. But then a massive tsunami devastated South Asia and “we just didn’t feel that a big old party was the right thing,” said Patti Smoake, the hospital association’s spokeswoman. Instead, the South Carolinians held a fund-raiser called “From South Carolina to South Asia.”

Mr. Giuliani agreed to speak at the new event. He even wrote a $20,000 check to the Red Cross, the event’s beneficiary, according to figures cited by a South Carolina hospital official and obtained by The Observer. He batted away the inevitable political speculation that accompanied his visit to the crucial Republican primary state, telling a local reporter he was visiting “because I enjoy coming to South Carolina and because this is a worthy cause.”

Mr. Giuliani didn’t mention it at the time, but he also walked away from the tsunami benefit with $80,000 at a time when celebrities from Bill Clinton and the first President Bush to George Clooney were donating time to the relief effort. There was nothing illegal, or even particularly unusual, about his taking a fee from a charity event. But taking the money was not the move of a man whose political future depends on the good will of the voters of South Carolina, the decisive state in the 2000 Republican primary widely viewed as the immovable object between a socially liberal Republican like Mr. Giuliani and the nomination.

Geeking Out on Econ

This exchange between Roubini and Altig is a good read for the econgeeks of the world. The basic debate is hard landing vs. soft landing given our wee twin deficit problem. I was struck by one of Altig's concluding comments near the end:

-- How much "the US needs to finance itself" is not some fixed number. Markets reconcile the demand and supply for dollar-denominated assets. Thus far, Asian central banks, for example, have demanded, and we have supplied. We have, admittedly, supplied in abundance, but that is in part because the price has been low. As the price rises, we will do less.

I actually highly doubt that this is true at all. Over the short and medium term at least, I doubt the borrowing desires of the federal government are affected at all by the price of borrowing. And, over the longer term, more such borrowing increases the need to borrow even further to cover debt servicing obligations. Plenty of countries have piled on ever increasing amounts of debt at very high interest rates.
The government is not a rational actor in any sense. And, as long as we have people in power who see no conflict between huge spending increases and massive tax cuts - and, in fact, advocate piling on trillions in new debt - there's no reason at all to think that an uptick in the cost of borrowing would even register.

Wingnuttia Overload

James Dobson is on CNN bitching about the courts going against "the will of the people" (ignoring the fact that, in this situation, the courts are clearly with the people). And, after his basic culture of life whine, he brought up the example of how people are overwhelmingly in support of "executing minors" and those dastardly courts won't let it happen.

The Big Money

The ability of MoveonPAC to raise money through their email list is astounding:

Early Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., sent an appeal over the Internet urging people to contribute to the re-election campaign of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.

In less than 24 hours, more than 15,000 contributors gave $634,000 to Byrd’s campaign, according to the National Journal’s daily Internet publication “Hotline.” The average donation was about $42.25.

In Obama’s appeal, sent out by the MoveOn Political Action Committee, he wrote, “In 2006, Senator Byrd will be the target of Republicans because he stands up for what he believes. Will you join me in supporting Senator Byrd’s campaign for re-election, before a critical deadline this Thursday?”

I wonder how frequently they can pull that off. It's a bit too early for me to be thinking about any fundraising activities, but I think people should seriously consider the fact that if even a modest portion of the money which went into the Dean/Kerry campaigns last year is diverted to congressional campaigns...

On Rhetoric

LG&M writes:

I think this is something that progressives need to pay more attention to. Mark Smith, a UW political scientist, has spent a lot of time looking at back copies of the National Review to study conservative rhetoric on tax policy. In the wake of Goldwater, conservative arguments in favor of tax cuts tended to be libertarian ones, linking tax cuts with increased freedom. Particularly starting with Reagan, the libertarian arguments became much less prevalent, and were largely replaced by arguments linking tax cuts to economic growth. The latter strategy had significantly more public appeal. It's important, therefore, for progressives not to concede the premise that tax cuts produce economic growth; the evidence for this is, to put it mildly, weak.

The empirical case against the link between economic growth and tax cuts does not, of course, end the policy debate. The fact that the American economy prospered when the top marginal rates were essentially confiscatory does not, in itself, justify confiscatory tax rates (which I generally oppose as well.) But if conservatives are forced to defend tax cuts in libertarian terms, they will lose most of the time. The fact that the Bush tax cuts didn't come anywhere close to producing the job growth their advocates claim, for example, is something that progressives can't emphasize enough.

The shift in rhetoric had a lot to do with the stagnation, decline, and eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. Back in the day, conservative rhetoric about the Soviet Union was focused primarily on its lack of individual freedom, and not on the inferiority of Soviety-style communism as an economic system. Enemy #1 can't be much of a problem if it's an economic basketcase. And, remember, in the 70s there were pretty big concerns about the state of American capitalism.

The success in selling the idea that the level of the top marginal tax rate, which impacts a small percentage of the population, has some giant impact on the aggregate economy is stunning.


I think the SSA's chief actuary is pulling a fast one on the reporter here, claiming to be a good soldier when in fact he put the knife in:

Stephen Goss, chief actuary for the Social Security program, defended the administration's assumptions.

"Keep in mind that we are trying to make projections over a very long time, 75 years," Mr. Goss said. "I would suggest that 5 percent [average annual rate of return in the market] at the moment makes perfect sense. But if you buy at another time, when the price-earnings ratio is 10, you would expect a higher return over time."

Consider what he's saying here. Currently the price/earnings ratio in the S&P is about 20. So, in another words, if we're fortunate enough to experience a massive stock market crash sometime soon, then average annual rates of return after that might be as high as George Bush says they will be!

Morning Thread


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

On Fame

For some reason I like this little tale from Tom Tomorrow:

Last summer at the Democratic convention I shared a cab with Jason Bateman on the way to some party after we'd both done Air America bits. Neither of us had any idea who the other was, which led him to riff on the moment of recognition we would each eventually have when we realized, oh, it's that guy. Somehow group hugs were invoked, if I'm remembering correctly. I guess you had to be there.

Well, I have no idea if Jason Bateman has to this day ever seen a Tom Tomorrow cartoon, but Jason, if you're out there, I've had my moment of realization.

I'm always incredibly reluctant to add anything new to the short list of tv shows I watch on a regular basis, but at the suggestion of my very smart wife, I finally gave Arrested Development a try, and it really is one of the most brilliant shows on the air right now. If you're not watching it, you're missing a show of sublime absurdity.

Evening Thread

Have fun.

Fork Him

When Howard "The Weathervane" Fineman says DeLay's in trouble...

Bobby's Law

This is good.


One of the Gannon issues which sort of got lost in the shuffle when all the hotmilitaryescortm4m stuff came out was the fact that, among his other issues, he was a serial plagiarizer. Media Matters caught him lifting from GOP docs verbatim, and my good friend Ron has him stealing stuff from the Associated Press.

Meanwhile this letter to Medianews is good:

From WELDON BERGER: Subject -- Kristinn Taylor [letter below]. Neither Jeff Gannon nor James Guckert have a First Amendment right to appear at the National Press Club. He does have a First Amendment right to refer to himself as a blogger and journalist, but the press club's Jonathon Salant said in an e-mail to me this morning that the press club does not consider him to be either, and that his participation in the panel arises from his having been cleared into the briefings almost daily over a period of two years despite White House guidelines mandating a hard pass, with the attendant FBI background check, for anyone who plans to attend regularly (something that was made quite clear to me with respect to Eric Brewer, the contributor to my blog who has been cleared to attend the briefings on an occasional basis).

In addition to any other questions regarding Gannon/Guckert's role as a
journalist, blogger Ron Brynaert has unearthed a few examples of Gannon/Guckert having apparently plagiarized from at least one AP story. So long as he's on the panel, someone probably ought to pursue that issue as well.

Why the press club expects to learn anything Gannon/Guckert hasn't already said is something of a mystery. He says he doesn't know why he was accorded special treatment, and he says he is a journalist; there's no reason to think he'll elaborate on either issue or that he'll come up with anything that will clarify the "who is a journalist" question.

I put the part in bold for all the people in the media who, for reasons which I still have not been able to fathom, seem to get really really confused about why this was ever an issue to begin with.

Open Thread

damn blogger

"Harry and Louise" Meet Social Security

You can listen here. Not sure, but that sounds like Bebe...

What he Said

Yglesias spares me from having to address the Post's deeply misguided editorial on the Grokster case. It really is necessary to point out that a technology now taken for granted - the MP3 player - was fought by the industry. The RIAA sued Diamond Multimedia over their Rio player.

And, when Apple was running it's "Rip, Mix, Burn" campaign, Michael Eisner testified to the Senate that the ad campaign was encouraging illegal piracy.

Legalese Perjurer

Apparently it's one of those days for me. It is indeed the year 2005, and not 2004, no matter what some of my misfiring neurons are telling me.

Insomnia is not quite correct in asserting that Sanchez committed perjury, but he did cleverly tell the technical truth while misleading the senior senator from Vo Dilun, Jack Reed.

Insomnia points out that Sanchez is guilty of a wee bit of perjury, lying to the senior Senator from Vo Dilun, Jack Reed:

At a recent May, 2004 Senate hearing, this exchange took place:

U.S. SENATOR JACK REED (D-RI): General Sanchez, today's USA Today, sir, reported that you ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison. Is that correct?

SANCHEZ: Sir, that may be correct that it's in a news article, but I never approved any of those measures to be used within CJTF-7 at any time in the last year.

This may be true, but the key phrase is "at any time in the last year." In other words, what Sanchez really said was "I approved those measures, but, hey it was a long time ago man!"

And, in fact, he did approve those measures in a September 2003 memo , more than a year before his Senate testimony.

As the ACLU writes:

NEW YORK -- A memo signed by Lieutenant General Ricardo A. Sanchez authorizing 29 interrogation techniques, including 12 which far exceeded limits established by the Army’s own Field Manual, was made public for the first time by the American Civil Liberties Union today.

"General Sanchez authorized interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Army’s own standards," said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh. "He and other high-ranking officials who bear responsibility for the widespread abuse of detainees must be held accountable."


The Sanchez memo dated September 14, 2003, specifically allows for interrogation techniques involving the use of military dogs specifically to "Exploit(s) Arab fear of dogs…," isolation, and stress positions.

Morning Thread

Keep it real.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005



Now that I, too, am a professional whore, I can see that the sharp distinction I used to draw between the working press and the shoe scrapings of the PR industry was simply a vanity of vanities -- a product of my youthful arrogance and the gnawing fear that I, too, might someday end up like the withered fossils I used to see lining the press club bar rail every Friday night. (That much, at least, I got right.) And whatever real distinction there may have once been between journalism and flackery has long since been swept away by the howling, gibbering tsunami of the cable news channels, leaving only a few dazed refugees clinging to the treetops in the print press. And pretty soon they'll be gone, too.

My point, to the extent I have one, is that Gannon/Guckert is going to fit in very well on that NPC panel -- as long, that is, as he's there to represent the professional journalists, not the bloggers. When it comes to blogging, Jim/Jeff doesn't have much to offer other than his cloddish prose and half-congealed "thoughts," which consist almost entirely of recycled Fox News talking points -- recycled in the same sense that cow shit is recycled grass. To be sure, this does put Bulldog squarely in the top IQ quintile among conservative bloggers. But if the press club wanted an authentic representative of the rant and rave right, it should have invited Powerline or Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler or even the gang at Little Green Footballs, who I'm sure would have been happy to attend if they could have brought their flaming crosses along.

No, Guckert is on the panel for the same reason Wonkette is: anal sex. Jeff gets paid to give it and Anna Marie gets paid to talk about it, and the "bottoms" at the National Press Club get paid to . . . well, you know. How anal sex got to be THE ticket to blogging fame and fortune (instead of a giant bottle of Astroglide) I don't fully understand, but I wish somebody had told me when I started out, because I would have bought a copy of this book instead of wasting all my time on those dull reads about Iraq, terrorism, the global economy and so on. Or, more likely still, I would never have taken up blogging in the first place, since when it comes to anal sex, there's no way a rank amateur like myself can compete with the pros.

But Anna Marie, at least, can write -- a good three or four paragraphs worth when she really gets going. Guckert, on the other hand, needs to get it through his head that his most valuable job skills are on the other end of his torso. And if he's counting on getting by on his notoriety as the world's only conservative gay prostitute journalist with a blog, he'd better watch out -- that's a niche market that could easily be overrun by competitors. For all Jeff knows, Wonkette's owner may already be trolling the second and third-tier talk show hosts, looking for prospects. Some of the guys in the RNC press office might decide to get in on the action, too. After all, when it comes to blogging -- not to mention anal sex -- the barriers to entry are relatively low. There's always a prettier face . . . or whatever . . . willing to take on the established brand names.

Seriously, though, the fact that we're all talking about this ridiculous panel session only shows that Bill Bennett didn't know the half of it when he wrote The Death of Outrage. The idea that a guy who posted naked pictures of himself pissing on the Internet -- and became famous for it -- would be invited to get up in front of an audience at the National Press Club to discuss journalism and blogging with a woman who has made anal sex her signature riff . . . well, The Death of Shame, Intelligence, Good Taste and Sanity makes a better title.

The O.C.

I was struck by this sentence at Calculated Risk which I haven't verified but don't doubt:

The median home price in OC is $555,000.

The O.C. - home to B1 Bob Dornan, the Nixon Library, John Wayne Airport, Kevin Drum, and Fox Teen Dramas - isn't quite what people think it is. I began my blogging career during my mercifully brief tenure there. I lived in Laguna Beach for most of that time, an odd oasis in an odd place. But, despite its history and reputation, the O.C. is not the uniformly rich white county one might think. Large chunks of it are home to immigrant and minority communities (primarily Vietnamese and Hispanic). Quite clearly large chunks of the population are not in the "$550,000 house-buying crowd."

One reason for the high prices in California generally is the stickyness of the housing market. While the anti-tax measure Prop. 13 is widely talked about as a tax rebellion, its provisions put a serious damper on mobility, and seriously reduce the availability of older (in California, older=coastal, mostly) properties. Prop. 13 restricted the growth in property tax levies on existing homeowners, meaning that if you sell and move within California your property taxes are going to increase drastically.

Laguna Beach, aside from being somewhat out of step culturally and politically with the rest of Orange County, was representative of the consequences of Prop. 13. There were numerous families who were "income poor/property rich." That is, they were rich only in terms of assets, but their only asset was their home. It wasn't cheap to rent there, but relative to current buying prices (median single family home $1.7 million, median condo/townhome $788K) it was incredibly cheap . And, it's important to note, while there are some pretty elaborate homes, most of the housing stock is 50s era-ish and fairly modest.

Anyway, I'm meandering here and perhaps I don't actually have a point. To sum up:

O.C. - Not what you think!
Laguna Beach - property rich/income poor!
Housing bubble? shhhh!!
Prop. 13 - wack!

Social Security and Divorce

big error, I blame the SSA - repeated language on their site about "benefits based on" without pointing out the "one half" part See in bold:

I'm not sure there's anything precisely wrong with Professor B's post here, but whether she meant to or not I think it implies some things about our wonderful Social Security program which aren't quite true.

Now, I've looked at the little forms the government sends out telling us what our social security expectations are. And mine are, basically, jack shit--because I spent most of my adulthood to date in school, earning at most about $10K/year. Mr. B., who supported me through all that education? He's gonna get plenty of money from social security (assuming it's still around, of course). This is one of the reasons why, when we started IRAs, we started mine first, and contributed more money to it. Then, of course, we cashed them in to buy the house, so I'm back with jack shit for retirement money. One of the reasons I'm working now, and he's not, is because I'm well aware of what that means.

And what about divorce? No one gets married wanting to divorce, and very few of us have kids thinking that we won't be together forever, so saying "we're never going to divorce" doesn't count. The fact is, about half of marriages split up. And if you are so unlucky that some unforseen circumstance down the road means that that's you, and you've been staying at home raising kids, the court is *not* going to consider that "his" income was half yours. The paychecks have his name on them, they're "his" money, and if you're lucky you'll get some kind of "child support," and that is it. And you and the kids will be fucked.

If you were married for ten years or more, and you get a divorce, upon reaching retirement age you are entitled to the one half the level of retirement benefits that your former spouse is entitled to if your former spouse is alive and full benefits if he/she is dead as long as you didn't remarry before age 60. If you were married for ten years or more, and you get a divorce, and your former spouse subsequently dies, your dependent-aged children are entitled to significant benefits, as are you pre-retirement as long as you have dependent-aged children and haven't remarried.

Not disagreeing with the general thrust of the post -- that women who abandon careers to stay home with children do, for a variety of reasons, put themselves at serious financial risk. But, Social Security is fairly generous to spouses, though not as generous as I thought, even if they're divorced.

Best Television Ever

Read this transcript of the Mayor of Loonyville getting reamed a few new ones.


Quite the cat fight between the media peeps today. And, it appears that Big Media Matt will now join the show, and share the stage with our favorite cock-headed man whore.

More fun at Romenesko's place...

Bobo's World



I've removed the google ads and replaced them with Blogads' new "classified ads." They're image free and cheaper. Rates will vary to keep the number of ads at a minimum.

Click if you're interested in advertising...

Moonie Tuesday

The owner of the flagship conservative daily newspaper says it's time to end American democracy.

Some day I'll understand how some idiot on the left that no one's ever heard of can be turned into a national symbol when he says something stupid, and the billionaire owner of the premier propaganda outlet of the right is completely ignored.

World O'Crap


IMHO, it's insights like that which prove that JimJeff is indeed a legitimate journalist. See, while most people think that the First Amendment merely forbids the government from abridging protected free speech, Jeff knows that it actually forbids anybody from saying mean things about him in their blogs -- a thought worthy of the great newswoman Ann Coulter!

Max Speak

I really can't bring myself to get too upset about this stuff, but nonetheless the dynamics at play in the choice of public figure bloggers are all too obvious. As Max writes:

There aren't any, so you're not going to see any, not that anybody in his or her right mind would want to. If there were, perhaps I would be invited to yet another panel on blogging that does not include any political bloggers, but that does include faux journalist and even faux-er blogger Jeff Gannon/Guckert.

I do not believe this is an oversight or dumb-assed misassessment of who is writing blogs. More likely, it is journalists who organize these things preferring to protect their shrinking franchise on acceptable opinion-mongering. They do this by organizing a geek show and calling it a panel on blogging. Serious bloggers need not apply.

One doesn't have to dislike Wonkette and her site to recognize that she isn't really an appropriate representative of political bloggers or lefty political bloggers. Full disclosure -- I've been on a panel with Wonkette. I'll also be on one this weekend with Michael Wolff. Most importantly, I actually don't really like doing these things so this post should not be put in the green-eyed monster category.


I swear blogger ate about 15 posts today, each more exciting than the last. And, most importantly, my magnum opus on biofuels has been lost for all eternity.

damn you blogger!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Sybil the Soothsayer

I really picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

In comments, Harold came upon some more Bill Tierney information.

Here's what he told Sean Hannity on 3/24/03, according to the Freepi:

Former weapons inspector Bill Tierney... said on the Sean Hannity radio show that we will be shocked with what we are going to find in Iraq. He has no doubt we will find huge amounts of what Iraq swears it does not have.

In addition, Tierney said that he has told our government where Hussein has hidden an underground uranium plant. Tierney said "I can drive there with my eyes shut."

Here's what he told Art Bell's replacement on Coast to Coast on 2/14/03:

Tierney's methods of ascertaining this location were rather unconventional. "I would ask God and just get a sense if something was valid or not, and then know if I needed to pursue it," he said. His assessments through prayer were then confirmed to him by a friend's clairvoyant dream, where he was able to find the location on a map. "Everything she said lined up. This place meets the criteria," Tierney said of a power generator plant near the Tigris River that he believes is actually a cover for a secret uranium facility.

And, just click this link to a google search which provides more than enough to drive you insane. Will add fun things as I find them.

Here he is talking to Pat Robertson... he is talking about his experiences at Gitmo... he is writing for the Weekly Standard... he is on why he got discharged...

...he's a favorite of the lizardoids. in the Moonie Times he's referred to as a "Muslim interpreter" (whatever the fuck that is) in a column about "Radical Islam in the military."

Culture of Life


Open Thread

Blogger is totally bloggered, so don't expect much...



So how about it? Is there something “exceptional about the blogs” when it comes to slander, misstatement and error? Is it true that newspapers “have done the same thing?” As the discussion progressed, Andrew Sullivan seemed to say that blogs do have a special problem in this area; Shafer kept insisting that they didn’t. But at no point in the eleven-minute discussion did any panelist state the obvious—that we have seen, in our recent history, exceptional waves of group misstatement driven by the mainstream media! In particular, as everyone knows (and knows not to say), Campaign 2000 was a two-year orgy of spin and misstatement about Candidate Gore—a slander campaign that was endlessly driven by the Washington Post and the New York Times. Nothing even remotely like it has ever arisen from the web (Matt Drudge excluded). But in an eleven-minute attempt to decide if the web has a special problem with slander, none of the panelists—nobody; no one—bothered to state this obvious fact about the coverage of Election 2000, an election which changed our political history. Go ahead—watch or read this part of the discussion, and marvel at the way our recent history has been disappeared by mainstream and “liberal” pundits. Indeed, how thoroughly have our mainstream pundits managed to bury this part of our past?


just go read...

(thanks to filkertom)

Quote of the Day

"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture." -- Pastor Ray Mummert, on his desires to muck up teaching evolution

Press Club Wankers

I was rather annoyed this weekend when Even the New Republican's Michelle Cottle let Howie Kurtz goad her into saying that the media was biased against Christian Conservatives because it was... get this... actually showing lots of images of the Schiavo protesters on TV. The exchange:

KURTZ: Well, some of them are now being resurrected by newspapers to show that this has happened before.

Michelle Cottle, has the press ridiculed, or maybe I should say marginalized, religious people who believed the Terri Schiavo must be kept alive as a matter of Christian morality?

MICHELLE COTTLE, THE NEW REPUBLIC EDITOR: Well, it's not that they get out there and make fun of them. It's just you come with a ready-made kind of visual here. You have people on the streets praying. They're (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you have very dramatic and even melodramatic protests and things like this.

These people are very easy to kind of just poke fun at without even saying anything. You just kind of show these people. And the majority of Americans who don't get out there and do this kind of, you know, really dramatic displays feel a little bit uncomfortable on that level.

So, here we have "the liberal" mocking these people while simultaneously saying the media was mocking them simply by putting them on TV. Lord knows how biased the media would have been had they not put them on TV. Heads I win tails you lose.

But, the general issue of how groups are represented by the media is important, particularly the all-important (joke) issue of how bloggers are represented. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry, but congratulations right wing bloggers - your representative to a an event at the National Press Club is JimmyJeff "Deuce Bigalow" GannonGuckert.

WSJ Gives DeLay the Boot

I was shocked as I groggily read this morning's WSJ editorial page, part of my daily burden. It started off as a standard defense of Tom DeLay, blasting the prosecutor as a partisan Democrat, and generally criticizing anyone who thinks there's something to it. But, then, suddenly it veered away from Wingnuttia and into the reality-based community and concluded with this paragraph:

Whether Mr. DeLay violated the small print of House Ethics or campaign-finance rules is thus largely beside the point. His real fault lies in betraying the broader set of principles that brought him into office, and which, if he continues as before, sooner or later will sweep him out.

Lies and the Lying Liars

The GOP are so shameless - misrepresenting the views of ordinary constituents.

Bring On the Patent Wars

You can get much better IP law discussion elsewhere, which is why I mostly stay away from it. However, this ruling against Sony Corp. ordering them to stop selling Playstations (stayed pending appeal) brings up one of my pet hopes/beliefs - that a proliferation of intellectual property lawsuits between the Big Bizness entities will eventually cause more of them to start lobbying for sensible modifications to IP laws.

Once upon a time it seems we had a better understanding of what the purpose of IP laws were. Their primary purpose is to encourage innovation and creativity, and not to create and preserve asset titles for corporations and individuals. Now, I'm all for innovators and artists being able to profit from their works, but the ability to do so is a means to an end, not the end itself. The end itself is supposed to be a benefit to consumers in the form of more new gadgets and more and better chick lit. If the IP system stifles innovation and creativity, rather than fostering it, then it's time for a change.

Along these lines, it's nice to see Mark Cuban joining in the battle. I'd prefer this all to be a consumer-led rather than business-led battle, but my guess is sensible progress is unlikely to be made until it's more the latter.

Me or Them

Watching CNN I'm suddenly struck by this feeling that I'm watching a newscast from another time, or another country. The stories they're doing, the basic narrativesthey're pushing, seem to be totally divorced from the reality I inhabit...

maybe it's me.


What's with this NYT article being so forgiving to judges and creditors who don't understand a plainly simple law:

A longstanding federal law strictly limits the ability of his mortgage company and other lenders to foreclose against active-duty service members... The problem, most military law specialists say, is that too many lenders, debt collectors, landlords, lawyers and judges are unaware of the federal statute or do not fully understand it... Little-Known Legislation... But the news was apparently slow in reaching those who would have to interpret and enforce the law... "There are 50,000 judges in this country and God knows how many lawyers," said Alexander P. White, a county court judge in Chicago and the chairman of one of the American Bar Association's military law committees. "Are people falling down on the job - the judges, the bar, the military? Probably." And broad understanding of the law "is not going to happen overnight."

Reading through the rest of the article, most of the examples are of people just getting shafted. What's with the "oh, no one knows about this little law" crap.

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Wall of Wankers

In response to this:

Some pharmacists across the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs.

The trend has opened a new front in the nation's battle over reproductive rights, sparking an intense debate over the competing rights of pharmacists to refuse to participate in something they consider repugnant and a woman's right to get medications her doctor has prescribed. It has also triggered pitched political battles in statehouses across the nation as politicians seek to pass laws either to protect pharmacists from being penalized -- or force them to carry out their duties.

Please send me the names and place of business and business numbers of pharmacists who refuse to prescribe such things as birth control.

They have rights, and so do we.

...just to add -- not all of the country is like where I live. I think there are 15 pharmacies and who knows how many pharmacists within a 10 block radius of where I live. Genuine competition exists in my area, but not for everyone.

Blow Some Shit Up

Taibbi's NY Press article on "National Security Democrats" is worth reading.

And, look, I agree with those who say that Democrats have an image problem on foreign policy. And, I agree with those who think that this image problem is to some degree based on an actual lack of foreign policy substance.

But, on foreign policy as with everything else, the "me too!" position gets you nowhere.

The Democrats who made it impossible for Democrats to have an articulate distinct position on foreign policy are the ones who pushed the party into supporting the Iraq war.

I don't actually disagree with the general proposition that the Democrats need a bit of piss and vinegar in their foreign policy, but they have to figure out where to aim that piss. Peter Beinart and Joe Biden and the rest of the gang didn't aim their piss, they let George Bush grab their dicks and point them towards Baghdad. And, now, two years later, they want to lecture the rest of us on how to be perceived as "strong."

The way to be perceived as strong isn't to let George W. Bush tell you where to point your dick.

Remember When

David Neiwert has a (as usual) good post. But, I want to highlight this part:

Yes, that is precisely the problem with this model of "balance." But what seems to have eluded everyone on the right is that this is not an isolated problem with C-SPAN. It is, in fact, pervasive throughout the media -- and particularly from self-identified "conservative" media like the "fair and balanced" Fox. And it has been going on for a long time now.

It was not uncommon, in the 1990s, to see clearly outrageous liars like Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and L. Jean Lewis treated not only with kid gloves, but as the chief source of supposedly credible "investigations" into Bill Clinton's private life.

As impeachment fever reached its crescendo in 1999, this willingness to treat blatant falsehoods as "the other side of the story" became pervasive. It was not uncommon to see Barbara or Ted Olson, or Mark Levine, or Ann Coulter, or some other congenital frothing-at-the-mouth Clinton-hater fulminate all over the tube daily with some bizarre speculation or other based in nothing but groundless conspiracy theories and a heavy dose of bile. It continued through the 2000 election, when we were told constantly that "Al Gore says he invented the Internet" and, later, that machine recounts were more accurate than hand recounts.

I lived through it, but even now the journalistic "excesses" of the Clinton years shock me when I'm reminded of them. I was hunting for something unrelated today, and I came across a full segment on Fat Tim's Meet the Press where he interviewed Gary Aldrich. Aldrich, you may remember, claimed in his book that the Clintons hung crack pipes from the White House Christmas Tree.

Heard Just Now On Local Fox Affiliate

Wonderful contextless news. At the Schiavo protests, "a scuffle broke out between rival protesters."

rival protesters?

If I Were a Doctor...

I'd refuse to treat Republicans. On moral grounds.

Tom and Jesus


Open Thread

Have fun my creatures.

Bluggers Suck

Digby gives us the latest version of "bluggers suck" and "journalists r000l" from the LA Times's David Shaw, who writes a column about why bluggers aren't high-minded journalists like him so they therefore don't deserve reporters' privilege.

One of my biggest pet peeves is how journalists, when talking about bluggers and blugging, construct these definitions of "journalist" and "news media" which exclude 90% of what their profession has become. "Journalists" are not some small subspecies of gumshoe reporters writing impeccably sourced and edited copy for respectable dailies. "Journalism" clearly includes "respectable" print dailies, tabloids, columnists, TV news reporters and anchors, Bill O'Reilly, talk radio hosts, gossip columnists, and partisan liars and propagandists of all kinds who are regularly given a platform. All of these people frequently mess up, as this lovely website documents regularly.

I'm happy for people to make serious criticisms of the blugosphere, though when they do they should stop comparing bluggers to something which is only a very tiny part of what modern day "journalism" is. And, while they're at it, they could focus some more attention on something they've been ignoring for years -- talk radio.

Shaw also includes the inevitable paragraph about bluggers and libel which they always like to screech about:

If I'm careless --- if I am guilty of what the courts call a "reckless disregard for the truth" --- The Times could be sued for libel ... and could lose a lot of money. With that thought --- as well as out own personal and progessional copmmittments to accuracy and fairness --- very much much in mind, I and my editors all try hard to be sure that what appears in ther paper is just that, accurate and fair.

ummm... David, "if I am guilty of what the courts call a "reckless disregard for the truth" *I* could be sued and lose a lot of money, or at least the little I have.

If you don't want to get sued for libel, uh, don't libel anyone. I'm not sure why journalists are obsessed with the concept of libel in relation to blugs. Libel isn't that difficult a concept to understand, and it isn't that hard to avoid doing it. Simple rule of thumb: be careful what you say about people who aren't clearly public figures. More generally, don't make shit up, don't make claims you know to be false, and make sure opinions are expressed as opinions rather than as statements of fact.

Chicks With Opinions

Just a bit more comment on Russert's morning sausage-fest. It is of course true that on many issues women are frequently excluded from such discussions. It's also true that had the topic been "economic policy" or "foreign policy" or something I probably wouldn't have even noticed (to my discredit). The lack of female participation in the public discourse on those issues is mostly just part of a larger pattern of female exclusion from the public discourse (not a good thing, of course, but standard operating procedure). But it's even more horrendous to me that on an issue which is regularly discussed as being important to women -- if not precisely portrayed as a women's issue, it's frequently lumped in with "family" issues which is just code for "stuff adult chicks care about" -- that neither Russert nor his booker noticed that there was something amiss in their choices of guests.

Ho Ho Ho

Time for another conference on blogger ethics:

At the same time one of Florida's most visible television reporters brought the news to viewers around the state, he earned hundreds of thousands of dollars on the side from the government agencies he covered.

Mike Vasilinda, a 30-year veteran of the Tallahassee press corps, does public relations work and provides film editing services to more than a dozen state agencies.

His Tallahassee company, Mike Vasilinda Productions Inc., has earned more than $100,000 over the past four years through contracts with Gov. Jeb Bush's office, the Secretary of State, the Department of Education and other government entities that are routinely part of Vasilinda's stories.

Vasilinda also was paid to work on campaign ads for at least one politician and to create a promotional movie for Leon County. One of his biggest state contracts was a 1996 deal that paid nearly $900,000 to air the weekly drawing for the Florida Lottery.

Meanwhile, the freelance reporter's stories continued to air on CNN and most Florida NBC stations, including WFLA-Channel 8 in Tampa.



DENVER -- Gov. Bill Owens (R) has been crisscrossing the country for years promoting the virtues of this state's strict constitutional limits on government spending. He has repeatedly urged other states to adopt restrictions of their own, based on Colorado's "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" amendment, known here as TABOR.

But this summer, Owens says, he'll be traversing his own mountainous state pushing the opposite message. Midway through his second term, Owens is working to persuade Coloradans to suspend the limits he championed and let the state government spend $3 billion more in tax money than TABOR would allow.

Owens thus becomes another low-tax, limited-government advocate who has found those principles hard to hold onto amid a sluggish economy and a sharply diminished flow of federal money to the states.

In the past two years, Republican governors including Nevada's Kenny Guinn, Idaho's Dirk Kempthorne, Georgia's Sonny Perdue and Ohio's Bob Taft have dumped no-new-taxes pledges to push for major new revenue and increased state spending.

Men's Faith in America

Today's Meet the press roundtable on faith in America:

Why are there no women qualified to talk about this subject? Must be genetic.

Caption contest? I suggest: "All your uterus are belong to us."

Maybe next week Russert will convene an all female roundtable to talk about why there aren't any women on Meet the Press roundtables...

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

Morning Thread

Have fun.