Saturday, April 16, 2005

Late Night

have fun

More Wingnuttia

It's really cute that the citizens of Wingnuttia, who truly should be given their own homeland somewhere (they can call it the Christian States of America, or whatever, I don't care), would prefer women to die of cancer if the alternative is maybe, just maybe, increasing the likelihood of them engaging in any sexual activity.


The Wingnuttia disdain for the "right to privacy" is generally understood to derive from a contempt for the legal reasoning behind the Roe v. Wade decision. However, that concept and phrase come from the earlier case, Griswold v. Connecticut, which declared unconstitutional any laws preventing the sale use of contraception to by married couples.

Those who would undo the "right to privacy" would undo Griswold. If/when the Court is tipped, we will truly get a "red state/blue state" divide as the sex-obsessed rush to ban contraception. Of course, the party of federalism's disdain for federalism won't prevent the feds from getting involved, although I'm assuming that would be politically unpopular enough nationally so that it wouldn't happen.

...and, in a related note, abortion law in Iran is now less strict than Radical Mullahs FristChrist and Santorum would give us...

Ha Ha

I think this comment left by "chuckling" over at Roy's place deserves a bigger audience:

Personally, I'm getting a little tired of all this making fun of conservatives. When you think about it, they deserve a lot of respect.

First, they have to believe whatever the Bush administration or lesser congressional-type republicans tells them to believe. Yea sure, I know, that sounds like something any idiot could do, but those beliefs often change from day to day and often end up diametrically opposed to what they were the day before. It takes an incredibly agile mind to constantly change core values and beliefs without ever acknowledging the contradictions.

Next, they have to disbelieve absolutely whatever a certain other class of people believe. This includes democrats, independents, moderates, the educated, the scientists, the French, and just about everyone else in the world.

Then to top it all off, every piece of art or entertainment must conform to the daily beliefs, whatever they are, or it must be boycotted, burned, or banished (not stashed under the mattress, no, no, no).

And finally, they have to disbelieve, and disbelieve passionately, easily observable reality. Those people being tortured, they're not feeling any pain. South Park? Karl Rove couldn't have written it any better.

It's not easy being that fucking stupid. It really takes a lot of work. Show some respect, people.



The issue is: Are we going to live in a theocracy where the highest powers tell us what to do? Or are we going to be allowed to consult our own high powers when we make very difficult decisions?

Embracing theocracy isn't just about enshrining into law a particular sect's moral codes, it's also about restoring the notion of the divine right of political leaders. They claim that God's law trumps man's law, that they know what God's law is, and that therefore they are the instruments of God.


On the Estate Tax

From Comrade Max.




Deep thoughts from Joe Scarborough:

What do these terrorists take Bush for? An Italian PM?

He will not be blackmailed. He will not give in. In fact, he will only be helped by further terror attacks and civilian murders.

With every new terror strike, George W. Bush only grows stronger.


And, no, the emails haven't stopped. Revenge recommendations welcome.

Internet Help

spamming problem solved, but man what a wanker...

Friday, April 15, 2005

Rabbi David Saperstein


The news that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist plans to join a telecast whose organizing theme is that those who oppose some of President Bush’s judicial nominees are engaged in an assault on “people of faith” is more than troubling; it is disingenuous, dangerous, and demagogic. We call on him to reconsider his decision to appear on the telecast and to forcefully disassociate himself from this outrageous claim.

Senator Frist must not give legitimacy to those who claim they hold a monopoly on faith. They do not. They assert, in the words of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of the telecast, that there is a vast conspiracy by the courts “to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms.” There is no such conspiracy. They have been unable to ram through the most extreme of the President’s nominees, and now they are spinning new claims out of thin air.

Alas, this is not an isolated incident. This past week, the Christian Coalition convened a conference in Washington entitled, "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith." Their special guest speaker was the House Majority Leader, Rep. Tom Delay. When leaders of the Republican Party lend their imprimatur to such outrageous claims, including, at the conference, calls for mass impeachment of Federal Judges, it should be of deep concern to all who care about religion. It should also be of concern to President Bush whose silence, in the wake of the claims made both at the conference in Washington and in the upcoming telecast, is alarming.

The telecast is scheduled to take place on the second night of the Passover holiday, when Jews around the world gather together to celebrate our religious freedom. It was in part for exactly such freedom that we fled Egypt. It was in part for exactly such freedom that so many of us came to this great land. And it is in very large part because of exactly such freedom that we and our neighbors here have built a nation uniquely welcoming to people of faith – of all faiths. We believe Senator Frist knows these things as well. His association with the scheduled telecast is, in a word, shameful. We call upon to him to disassociate himself from the claim that the Senate is participating in a filibuster against faith, and to withdraw his participation from the April 24th event.

Caption Contest

My entry: When I grow up, my name will be Bob Novak!

(thanks to AttaEFFINGturk)

New Thread


Friday Cat Blogging

ADL Message


Deeply troubled by reports that Senator Bill Frist will appear in a telecast organized by conservative Christian groups that portrays the filibustering of judicial nominees as "against people of faith," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged Dr. Frist to reconsider his participation in the telecast, stating that: "Whatever one's views may be on this or any other issue, playing the 'religious' card is as unacceptable as playing the race card."

In a strongly worded letter to the Senate majority leader, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National director, said he was "deeply troubled" by Dr. Frist's decision to appear in the "Justice Sunday" telecast on April 24. The program's message, " deeply flawed and a dangerous affront to fundamental principles of American democracy," Foxman said.

"The heated debate regarding the status of the filibuster in the United States Senate is a quintessentially political contest, not a religious struggle," Foxman said. "Nor should it be portrayed as such. Whatever one's views may be on this or any other issue, playing the 'religious' card is as unacceptable as playing the race card."

Organized by the Family Research Council, the "Justice Sunday" telecast will be aired on Christian television and radio networks and stations and will be broadcast over the Internet.

Reid Statement

I am disappointed that in an attempt to hide what the debate is really about, Senator Frist would exploit religion like this. Religion to me is a very personal thing. I have been a religious man all my adult life. My wife and I have lived our lives and raised our children according to the morals and values taught by the faith to which we prescribe. No one has the right to judge mine or anyone else’s personal commitment to faith and religion.

God isn’t partisan.

As His children, he does ask us to do our very best and treat each other with kindness. Republicans have crossed a line today. America is better than this and Republicans need to remember that. This is a democracy, not a theocracy. We are people of faith, and in many ways are doing God’s work. But we represent all Americans, regardless of religion. Our founding fathers had the superior vision to separate Church and State in our democracy. It is a fundamental principle that has allowed our great, diverse nation to grow and flourish peacefully. Blurring the line between Church and State erodes our Constitution, and our democracy. It is a blatant abuse of power. Participating in something designed to incite divisiveness and encourage contention is unacceptable. I would hope that Sen. Frist will rise above something so beyond the pale.



Afternoon Thread


Something Which Probably Isn't True


April 15, 2005 -- The head of The Wall Street Journal's empire, Peter Kann, could be sweating over his job, again.
Earnings plunged by 54 percent at the newspaper's parent Dow Jones & Co., with its fledgling online operations earning more money for the first time than the flagship Journal and the weekly Barron's.

Kann blamed the slump on weak advertising at the Journal, which lost 8 percent of its ads in the first quarter and expects the slump to continue.


"They're simply losing market share to other media. Print publishing is not a profitable business for Dow Jones anymore," said Feinseth.

Kann is hoping that the company's long-range growth also comes in online publishing, which has profit margins at least 20-fold higher than print.

I'm sure that online publishing only has proft margins 20-fold higher if the WSJ is simply handing over its content for free.

According to Michael Wolff, while the WSJ Online is generally point to as a great success in that people are actually paying for online subscriptions, it's really hurt the revenue that it receives for the print edition. It isn't because they're losing print subscriptions, it's because by putting themselves behind a wall they've marginalized themselves. It's lost relative influence in the media world, and so advertisers aren't so interested in it anymore.

Radical Mullah Frist

These people hate our country. It's really that simple. They hate the constitution. They hate everything that we were taught (back in the day at least) is supposed to be great about the country.

Blogger Ethics

Time to convene another panel and get the FEC on our asses:

Here's another example. A spokesperson for CNN recently adopted a technique more fitting for some of the dodgy companies it covers -- dissembling in the hope that unwelcome questions would melt away.

This winter, there was a flood of stories about the widespread use of "video news releases" -- sent out by government agencies -- that were designed to mimic actual news stories. They were broadcast on many local TV news programs.

When asked about the practice, the nation's media critic in chief – that would be one George W. Bush – defended it, saying that the stations ran the pieces voluntarily. But local news directors said they thought they were real. Why? Because they came from a division of CNN.

More than 800 American stations pay that division -- which is called CNN Newsource -- to send them stories from CNN and its affiliates. But that's not all CNN Newsource does. Many public relations firms also pay it to distribute "video news releases" from their clients -- including the U.S. government. (Several competitors have similar deals.)

So CNN Newsource had more than one kind of client here. When preparing a story on the subject last month for NPR, I asked CNN, How big a side business is this? A CNN spokesman said there was no way to know how many video news releases were distributed by CNN in the typical week or month or year. It was impossible to tell, he said.

The "video news releases" weren't a major source of revenue for CNN, he explained, in genial tones meant to inspire confidence. They only generated modest fees. Naturally, the size of those fees couldn't be divulged. He also said CNN put tough safeguards in place when the issue first surfaced last year. Each public relations firm now had to sign a contract for every "video news release" saying each spot would make clear who paid for it.

Here's a pretty precise paraphrase of the conversation that ensued:

NPR: So, these guys at the PR firms actually have to sign a contract for every video news release you distribute through CNN Newsource?

CNN Guy: Yes.

NPR: And they pay you some nominal fee for each. It's not done through petty cash -- you guys send them bills, right?

CNN Guy: Sure.

NPR: So why can't you march down to accounting or your legal department and have someone pull those bills and contracts? Just count how many invoices and contracts there are. Wouldn't that instantly tell you precisely how many video news releases CNN Newsource had distributed?

CNN Guy:

NPR: Hello? Hello? You there?

There was a looooooong pause. I invited him – then and several times subsequently – to reconcile his responses. No further explanation followed.

Another Jumper


Washington - Rep. Tom Tancredo says it is "probably not the worst idea" for embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to step down while he deals with ethics allegations.

Stepping into a swirling Washington controversy, the Littleton Republican said he doesn't think the current accusations of impropriety against DeLay amount to much. But Tancredo said that from a political perspective, DeLay has handled the ethics issue "stupidly."

"I don't think we should try to oust him," he said in an interview Thursday at the Capitol. "Right now, I would not encourage him to leave. If he chose to resign as majority leader until these matters are resolved, that's probably not the worst idea."

Wimpy, but point is clear.

Punching Bag

The real question is why Colmes puts up with this stuff (and, yes, I know the answer. He's replaceable):

Fox News host: Repeat after me

If the conservative guests on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes" sound especially on-message, that's because they're being coached by the best:

Sean Hannity himself.

On the March 31 installment of the shouting-head show, the guests included two of the late Terri Schiavo's former nurses, Trudy Capone and Carla Sauer Iyer, arguing that their patient wasn't brain-dead.

Between commercials, according to an off-air audiotape obtained by investigative comedian Harry Shearer for last Sunday's episode of his weekly radio program, "Le Show," Hannity coached the women on exactly how to respond when liberal co-host Alan Colmes cross-examined them.

"Just say, 'I'm here to tell what I saw,'" Hannity can be heard instructing his guests. "No matter what the question, 'I'm here to tell you what I saw. I'm here to tell you what I saw.'"

Hannity adds helpfully: "Say, 'I'm not going to be distracted by silliness.' How's that? Does that help you? Look into that camera. Look at me when I'm talking."

On the air, Iyer performs beautifully. "I don't have any opinions or judgments. I was there," she declares

After the segment ends, Hannity gushes off the air to the nurses: "We got the points out. It's hard, this isn't easy. But you did great, both of you. Thank you, guys. Those nurses are powerful, aren't they?"

Tax Day

have fun.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Snotglass has been rather quiet for awhile. But, he was the "General" before we had the General.

Snotglass used to regularly report on the words of wisdom from experts at Hillsdale College.

And, now, we have the giant penis giving a speech there.

What should one know about Hillsdale?

Shortly after noon on October 17, Lissa Roche unlocked her husband's gun cabinet and removed a .38 special. She stepped out of their kitchen door into the backyard, crossed the grass, and went through a wooden gate leading to the Hillsdale College arboretum. She proceeded down a narrow trail to an open hollow with a stone gazebo. She sat down, placed the barrel of the gun behind her ear, and pulled the trigger. When her husband, George Roche IV, arrived just minutes later, her flesh was still warm to the touch. But she was dead.

The suicide of Lissa Roche has reverberated throughout the entire conservative movement.

Tucked away in rural Michigan, Hillsdale College may seem no different from any other small liberal-arts school in the Midwest — yet it is one of the most important institutions in American conservatism. It is a college that teaches a traditional curriculum, promotes intellectual diversity, and refuses to accept a penny of federal aid. For conservatives, Hillsdale is meant to be a model for how higher education should work.

But Lissa Roche's suicide has ruptured the college, guaranteeing that Hillsdale will long be known as the school whose prominent president, George Roche III, allegedly conducted a 19-year affair with his daughter-in-law, who was the mother of his grandson and an employee of the college. "Hillsdale College has been overwhelmed by this crisis," says Gleaves Whitney, an aide to Michigan governor John Engler. Whitney has been in daily contact with the school's administration. "It may take a long time for the college to recover."

Abstinence Only

New NIH website.


Because the deep thoughts of Pat Sajak deserve a wider audience.

...haha, oh Lordy, how stupid is Pat. Bear points us to his latest:

Then along came Tom DeLay, the Senate Majority Whip.

[obligatory joke]Someone tell Pat to buy a fucking brain.[/obligatory joke]

Open Thread

On Air America at 9:20 or so.

Heritage Tricksyness

Took me a little while to discover the tricksyness in their new Social Security calculator, but it was in there...

A Cunning Plan

Well, the Baldrick Republicans are back, as Max and Matt inform us. As I wrote before about these geniuses the plan is to:

1) divert substantial social security tax revenues into private accounts
2) guarantee that private account + guaranteed benefits = currently promised benefits (if your account tanks, they still pay you)
3) maintain solvency of trust fund until infinity and beyond!

These magicians plan to accomplish this amazing feat by simply mandating general fund transfers as necessary. In other words, simply assume away any problem.

Joking aside, this is rather worrisome. So far this administration has been quite successful at promising free pie and ponies to all. This would be the ultimate incarnation of that. And, Yglesisas asks:

The interesting question, at this point, is when the center-right "pain caucus" that dominates conventional wisdom inside the Beltway will wake up to what's going on here. This crowd has long supported privatization on ill-defined fiscal probity grounds. The drive is now being led by people who care nothing for such probity and will, in fact, make the budgetary situation far, far, far worse. Where's The Washington Post on this? Tim Russert?

Seriously. If a Democrat proposed making the program solvent until infinity simply by mandating general fund transfers as necessary Tim Russert would be very displeased indeed. I bet he'd even bring Big Russ out to express his disapproval. These guys are proposing to take a bunch of money out of the trust fund to fund private accounts requiring even greater general fund transfers. Something tells me Tim might just like this cunning plan.


Brent Bozell is such a wanker.

Bobo's World


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A state senator sponsoring a constitutional amendment aimed at "solemnizing the relationship of one man and one woman" is accused in a divorce case of cheating on his wife.

State Sen. Jeff Miller, a Republican from Cleveland, is accused of "inappropriate marital conduct" in a divorce complaint filed Feb. 25 in Bradley County.

The senator's March 2 answer to the complaint "vehemently denies" any inappropriate marital conduct.

"He is very hypocritical, fighting for the sanctity of marriage and not keeping his own," the senator's wife of 15 years, Bridgitte Suzanne Miller, said in a report in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.


Miller stopped an attempt to include a constitutional ban on adultery in the amendment.

Wingnuttia never ceases to fascinate.

New Thread


Cover Up


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration is impeding an investigation into the Education Department's hiring of commentator Armstrong Williams by refusing to allow key White House officials to be interviewed, a Democratic lawmaker briefed on the review said Thursday.

In addition, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is considering invoking a privilege that he said would require information to be deleted when the final version is publicly released, which is expected within days.

Miller called for Jack Higgins, the inspector general at the Education Department, to delay the report until Spellings agrees not to invoke ''deliberative process privilege'' and the White House grants interviews with current or former officials familiar with the deal.


She gets worse and worse...

Senator Walmart

As if we needed more reasons to hate Santorum.

Tom DeLay's America

Theocracy and chastity tests.

Mr. DeLay: Not zealous. I blame Congress over the last 50 to 100 years for not standing up and taking its responsibility given to it by the Constitution. The reason the judiciary has been able to impose a separation of church and state that's nowhere in the Constitution is that Congress didn't stop them. The reason we had judicial review is because Congress didn't stop them. The reason we had a right to privacy is because Congress didn't stop them.

Jack in the House

The House that Jack bought.


This is unbelievable.

It is up to soldiers in the field to protect themselves. If they want more sandbags, they should get more sandbags...


Religion Without Theology

I guess this is where we are, now. Christian religions of all types are implicitly good, but we can't actually have any theological discussion because that's the same as religious bigotry.

PITTSBURGH -- An evangelical Christian talk show host who questioned the beliefs of the Catholic church and entertained a caller's question about whether the late Pope John Paul II would go to heaven has been fired.

Last week, Minto questioned some of the Catholic church's beliefs, such as purgatory, and fielded a question from a caller who asked whether the pope would go to heaven. Many evangelical Christians believe that someone must be a "born-again" believer to enter heaven.


"WORD-FM needs to function in this city in support of the entire church -- that means everybody -- and not focus on denominational issues," Gratner said.

There is no "entire church." There are a bunch of different denominations with entirely different basic belief systems, once you get past the Jesus thing. It's time to grow up and recognize this instead of painting Christianity as some ill-defined congregation of social conservatives.

It's Morning in DC!

Make sure to call Ellen Tauscher's office to thank her for helping make sure that people who are financially devasted by a major illness will never, ever be able to get out of debt.

Washington D.C.
1034 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-1880

context here.

More JimmyJeff

No evidence can be found that he ever served in the military.

Great CNBC Moments

For some reason I find watching CNBC to be somewhat therapeutic. Where else can you find such nuggets of wisdom as this one, just stated:

We were once an agricultural economy, then we were a manufacturing economy, now we're a services economy. We'll morph into something else and not disappear.

Old Sod

Politicians and judges who want to tell us what sexual positions are and are not legal should certainly be asked about their own behavior. Asking the question about such behavior is not an invasion of privacy, locking someone up for that behavior is.

April 14, 2005 -- WHEN U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (above) spoke Tuesday night at NYU's Vanderbilt Hall, "The room was packed with some 300 students and there were many protesters outside because of Scalia's vitriolic dissent last year in the case that overturned the Texas law against gay sex," our source reports. "One gay student asked whether government had any business enacting and enforcing laws against consensual sodomy. Following Scalia's answer, the student asked a follow-up: 'Do you sodomize your wife?' The audience was shocked, especially since Mrs. Scalia [Maureen] was in attendance. The justice replied that the question was unworthy of an answer."

If Scalia had any genuine convictions his answer would have been "of course not."



Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Late Night

beep beep

Slime Mold

Haha. Scientists funny.

Make sure to click through to Dnext and watch President Born Again take the Lord's name in vain.

Hot Tub Tom


Times have been good at the National Center for Public Policy Research since Republicans captured the House in 1994: Annual contributions have quadrupled to more than $6 million, and the wife-husband team that runs the conservative nonprofit foundation is paid combined salaries of $275,000, according to recent tax filings. After investing millions of dollars in direct mail, the Center boasts a donor base of near 75,000.

"The National Center is THE CENTER for conservative communications," says an endorsement from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on the organization's Web site.

Yet for all this success, the Center and Mr. DeLay are on the defensive these days, accused of sacrificing their conservative message for the fast money and favors of Washington. Each came of age in the Ronald Reagan-dominated years of the early 1980s. Both are haunted by a very different Republican from California: lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a former director and fund-raiser for the Center and political ally of Mr. DeLay.

Mr. Abramoff was Mr. DeLay's travel companion on trips in 1997 and 2000 to Russia and London, both paid for by the Center. The Center, the congressman and lobbyist had a shared interest in the trips. The Center, which sponsored the travel, got to promote its agenda with a powerful Republican lawmaker. Mr. Abramoff got to travel with the congressman in a manner that wouldn't be permitted if his lobbying clients -- rather than the Center -- were paying directly. And Mr. DeLay and his wife traveled in luxury not possible on traditional taxpayer-financed congressional delegations.

For example, House records show that for the London trip, Mr. DeLay's office filed reports listing $70,259 in transportation, hotel and meal bills paid by the Center -- $28,100 for Mr. DeLay and his wife and $42,159 for his chief of staff and her husband, as well as a second aide who was on at least part of the trip.

The Center says it paid the bills for the London trip from general donations, while the Russia trip was covered from an estimated $165,000 payment from an international law firm seeking to promote exchanges with Russian businessmen. Lobbying records filed with Congress and the timing of donations to the Center indicate Mr. Abramoff may have used the nonprofit group to cloak payments from his clients to pay for Mr. DeLay's trips, thus circumventing the House ban on lobbyist-financed travel.


Ellen Tauscher had a wee interview with the Terry Neal of the Post. Tauscher is the chair of the New Democrat Coalition. You can watch it here or read my quick transcript:

Rep. Tauscher, responding to a question by Terry Neal about where the NDC stands on the bankruptcy bill:

Let me just make very clear. First of all, we're not passing legislation here. Republicans have a majority and a majority of their folks vote for this legislation so we're not votes that are passing Republican legislation. Let me also make very clear that most of the legislation passed by this majority Republican House really needs our help. It is not the best legislation nor is it I think legislation that will serve the test of time. But, having said that we would like a bill that did more to protect people by the way who have medical liabilities - people that have divorces that are looking for either alimony or child custody money are protected in this bill. There is a lot of work that has been done to increase the legislation so that credit companies do have affirmative responsibilities in being clear about exactly what people are gonna be charged and what the fees are and what minimum payment opportunities they have. But, in the end this is about personal responsibility and as much as it's difficult for us to get this administration, this Republican led congress, to understand fiscal responsibility here in Washington we need to reinforce it back at home. People have got to pay their bills.

Responding to Neal asking why they didn't address things like predatory lending:

We would absolutely do that if we were writing legislation. If we were in the majority we would have a much better bill. Suffice it to say I would prefer that and I am for us being the majority so we are in the legislative writing business. But, I am also very much opposed to us being just the party of 'no.'

Responding to Neal's suggestion that perhaps the Democrats could benefit by sticking together and blocking this kind of thing:

My constituents did not send me to Washington to vote no all the time. I could do that from my kitchen in Alamo, California. They sent me back here to be ready to work in a bipartisan way. Because the Republican majority does not take the effort or the opportunity to work with us to cure the bill does not mean I cannot say that if you pass it and I believe there are good things about this bill or important things about this bill I will support it.

An email sent out to NDC members:


To: NDC Members

From: Reps. Ellen Tauscher, Ron Kind, Artur Davis and Adam Smith

Re: NDC Key Vote Alert!

Date: April 13, 2005

Tomorrow, the House will consider S. 256, The Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act. We write to let you know that final passage of the Bill will be a key vote for the NDC and to encourage you to support this common-sense, bipartisan legislation.

Encourages Personal Responsibility

This bill reflects the New Democrat principle of greater personal responsibility by ensuring that those who have the ability to pay off some of their debt do so, and reaffirming that bankruptcy should be a last resort instead of a first option. Requiring people to file under Chapter 7, rather than Chapter 13, and set up a payment plan to repay some or all of their debt is reasonable and fair.

Protects People Living Below Median Income

Only those living above the median income and who have ability to pay debt will be required to do so. Conversely, millionaires who use bankruptcy as a method of financial planning will no longer be allowed to buy extravagantly and subsequently have all debt written off.

Helps Consumers and Small Businesses

Bankruptcy costs are passed on to other consumers, and the average family pays hundreds of dollars a year in higher prices. Small businesses that might otherwise not be paid for their goods or services will have a better chance of gaining compensation as a result of this bill.

Ensures Help for Most Needy

S. 256 includes protections ensuring alimony and child support payments are made. We believe single parents and dependent children need our help far more than millionaires who benefit from current bankruptcy laws. All consideration will be given to factors including job security, medical bills, and other circumstances.


New Democrats have long fought for common sense changes to our bankruptcy laws. Bankruptcy reform legislation has passed the House of Representatives numerous times. In the 108th Congress, it passed 315 to 113 with 90 Democrats voting for it and 70 percent of NDC members supporting it. Earlier this year, S. 256 passed the Senate with a vote of 74 to 25. It is past time that Congress pass sensible bankruptcy reform.

S. 256, The Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act

YES on Final Passage


These people are fucking crazy.

...hey! I just remembered it's still early on the West Coast:

2121 North California Blvd., Suite 555 (Tower B)

2000 Cadennasso Blvd., Suite A
(707) 428-7792

420 W. 3rd Street
(925) 757-7187

Wanker of the Day

Tim Redmond.


Turn to the right. Beep beep.



The Republican majority promised after the 1994 elections to manage the House in a way that fostered "deliberative democracy," which they defined as the "full and free airing of conflicting opinions through hearings, debates, and amendments." They also pledged in their Contract with America to "restore accountability to Congress" and to "end its cycle of scandal and disgrace." Instead of sticking to their word, they have broken their promises, betrayed the public trust, and abused their power. Specifically, they have undermined the ethics of the House, abandoned any principle of procedural fairness or democratic accountability, and overreached into private family matters and the federal judiciary.

Republicans have created a democracy-free zone. In March, Rep. Louise Slaughter, ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee, released an in-depth report on rules abuses by Republicans during the 108th Congress. Under the current House leadership, floor debate is muzzled, votes are cast with fear of retribution and legitimate amendments never see the light of day. They ram thousands of pages of major legislation through with only a few hours for review, permit few if any floor amendments (4 percent in the Democratic amendments submitted in the 108th), and hold open floor votes until enough arms have been twisted to ensure passage. As a result, many Members do not have an opportunity to express the views and values of their constituents -- effectively disenfranchising half the country. Democrats are demanding that Congress return to a deliberative process worthy of the "People's House," where allegiance to the American people outweighs partisan ideology and the influence of special interests.

Republicans effectively shut down the ethics process. Republicans made their first order of business for the 109th Congress to attack the Ethics Committee, rewriting many of its bipartisan rules in favor of rules that will make ethics investigations more difficult to pursue. The new rules seriously weaken enforcement by automatically dismissing any ethics complaint after 45 days unless a majority of the bipartisan committee votes to begin an investigation. The GOP rules change allows one party to block the Ethics Committee from investigating the facts of the complaint. The former Republican chairman of the Ethics Committee said: "The rules package adopted by the House in January stands to undermine the committee's mission, not to mention the integrity of the House." (Congress Daily AM, 3/16/05) That the GOP's first priority for the 109th Congress has been to lower the bar of integrity should be a warning to the American people.

Not only did Republicans undermine the ethics process, but they stacked the Ethics Committee. At the beginning of the year, the Republican Leadership dismissed Republican Members of the Ethics Committee, even the Chairman, who had refused to compromise the ethics rules for the party leadership. And then, the newly appointed Chairman unilaterally fired non-partisan Committee staff who assisted in the ethics work in the last session. In a statement to the press, the departing Chairman of the Committee stated "(t)here is a bad perception out there that there was a purge in the Committee and that people were put in that would protect our side of the aisle better than I did," and a replaced Republican Member noted his belief that "the decision (regarding his dismissal) was a direct result of our work in the last session."

Republicans are protecting Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who has been admonished three times by the Ethics Committee. Last fall, the House Majority Leader was admonished three times by the Ethics Committee for: offering political support in return for a vote on the prescription drug bill; misusing federal resources for partisan political purposes; and offering special access for campaign contributor, Westar Energy. These admonishments were unanimous and bipartisan. The Ethics Committee also warned DeLay that it had identified a clear pattern of misbehavior by him and would be on the lookout for additional instances when he pushed the bounds of acceptable conduct in pursuing his legislative and political goals.

Media stories are raising new questions about the conduct of Majority Leader Tom DeLay. In recent weeks, newspaper articles have detailed trips DeLay took to Russia and Scotland that he had reported were funded by nonprofit organizations, but which were directly or indirectly paid for by lobbyists or foreign agents. House rules prohibit members from taking trips funded by such entities. In both cases, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, was involved in these trips. Tom DeLay's extensive ties with special interest lobbyists are raising serious questions about his conduct.

Even the Wall Street Journal has raised questions. In fact, even conservatives have begun to raise questions about the Majority Leader. As the Wall Street Journal editorial page commented, "The that Mr. DeLay, who rode to power in 1994 on a wave of revulsion at the everyday ways of big government, has become the living exemplar of some of its worst habits. Mr. DeLay's ties to Mr. Abramoff might be innocent, in a strictly legal sense, but it strains credulity to believe that Mr. DeLay found nothing strange with being included in Mr. Abramoff's lavish junkets." They went on to say, "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." (Wall Street Journal, 3/28/05)

Congressional Republicans raise questions about DeLay. Republican leader, Sen. Rick Santorum stated that Majority Leader DeLay needed to "lay out what he did and why he did it" (Los Angeles Times, 4/11/05) House member Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) said, "Tom (DeLay)'s conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election," in an interview with the AP calling for DeLay to step down as majority leader. (USA Today, 4/11/05)

Republicans threaten an independent judiciary and assert themselves in private family matters. Republicans have said they believe in limited government, but then the majority brought the entire federal government to intervene in the personal tragedy of just one family. Likewise, their thinly-veiled threats toward federal judges are just an irresponsible attempt to undermine the independence of the federal judiciary. Speaking about the federal judges that allowed the feeding tube to be removed from Terry Schiavo, DeLay said, "The time will come for the men to answer for their behavior."

House Democrats have a better way. House Democrats urge the majority to restore accountability and democratic deliberation to the people's House. Democrats would open up the process by allowing debate and votes on more serious amendments; allow more bills to be considered under open rules; spend more time on major, substantive legislation; bring back regular order; and give Members three days to read conference reports. Further, Democrats would establish a bipartisan committee to make recommendations to restore a bipartisan and effective ethics process. Democrats introduced a resolution to put together a bipartisan task force that would make recommendations that would restore public confidence in the ethics process, but Republicans killed the resolution, without debate. Members of the House should be held to the highest ethical standard, not the lowest.

Be Vewwy Quiet

Sam Rosenfeld wonders why some of us are pointing out which Republicans think DeLay is naughty and which think he's nice. I understand his point - that it isn't DeLay that's the problem it's the entire Republican House. He's right to some extent, but there are other things going on here. First, one has to keep the scandal going over multiple news cycles. For that, you need "new news" - and, Republicans criticizing their own one by one provides a drip drip drip. The media are in minor feeding frenzy mode, but they still need something to feed on. Second, we need the media to accept that this is a bipartisan issue, otherwise it's just a usual "d vs. r spat." Once Republicans start coming out against him, CNN feels free to describe him with words like "embattled" as they did today. Third, whether or not DeLay goes down, it's great to get enough of them on record saying what a great guy he is.

The most important thing is keeping DeLay's name in the news as long as possible, letting him get tarred in the public's mind as a "bad unethical guy."


Somerby takes on Kristof.

Blow Jobs

Limbaugh, yesterday:

LIMBAUGH: When does he start up this stupid little network? August? Yip yip yip yahoo. You know what Gore said about this? It's going to be liberal. It's going to reflect the point of view of young people.

What the hell is that, Al? What the hell is the point of view of young people? Blow jobs, that's what they're doing out there. They're out there getting oral sex all day long, that's what they're talking about. That's the point of view they can't wait that your boss,

Al made sure that's become the number one sport in high school today. So, I guess you're going to have a BJ network out there, Al, is that what you're going to do? You're going to call your network the oral sex channel out there, start competing with MTV?

No, it's not going to have any of this stuff out there, folks, it's going to be talking about liberalism, no, no, no, that's not what we're about. Classic cannot even admit who he is.

Contact the FCC. Demand they apply their standards of decency. Make sure to include your local station call sign and the time of the broadcast.


CNN just reported that 12 Iraqi troops were killed while trying to defuse a roadside bomb. That's a pretty big bomb.

Et Tu, Newt?

Gingrich on DeLay, last night on CBS:

Former Representative NEWT GINGRICH (Republican, Georgia; Former House Speaker): I don't want to prejudge him, and I--my hope is that Tom will be able to prove his case. But I think the burden is on him to prove it at this stage.

GLORIA BORGER reporting:

And do you think he's doing that?

Mr. GINGRICH: I don't know yet. I think that the jury's out, and I think that he is going to have--you know, my only advice through friends has been that they have got to get everything out in the open, and they've got to understand that this is not something where fighting a delaying tactic does anything except to hurt his case.

BORGER: He's said that this is the liberal media going after him.


BORGER: You agree with that?

Mr. GINGRICH: Well, that's the famous Hillary Clinton defense, This is the vast left-wing cor--you know, conspiracy as opposed to her description of a vast right-wing conspiracy.

BORGER: So he's using...

Mr. GINGRICH: I'm saying when you're being attacked, the first thing you naturally do is you describe your attackers. In this case, that won't work. DeLay's problem isn't with the Democrats. DeLay's problem is with the country. And so DeLay has a challenge, I think, to lay out a case that the country comes to believe, that the country decides is legitimate. If he does that, he's fine.

SCHIEFFER: Gingrich's comments came during an interview about his new book, "Winning the Future."


Popone gives us a Fox News flashback.

Too Much Damn Sex

Yglesias follows up, providing us with some policy proposals from Ed Kilgore.

But Kilgore switches the discussion almost entirely from smut to advertising. And, while I agree that advertising practices are a place where there's potentially a greater role for public involvement (possibly, but not necessarily, involving legislation). But, this isn't the kind of thing Sullivan was talking about in her original post, where she specifically was responding to concerns about the content of programming, and not the advertising.



Morning Thread


Tuesday, April 12, 2005



In 1992, when heirs to the Mars Inc. fortune joined a few other wealthy families to hire the law firm Patton Boggs LLP to lobby for estate tax repeal, the joke on K Street was that few Washington sightseers had paid so much for a fruitless tour of the Capitol.

Today, the House is expected to vote to permanently repeal the estate tax, moving the Mars candy, Gallo wine and Campbell soup fortunes one step closer to a goal that once seemed quixotic at best: ending all taxation on inheritances.

The Big Money

Rox tries to remind us that Big Smut is all about the Benjamins. Certainly there's a lot of truth to this, but it's also the case that this is something that conservatives have been arguing against for years. The Michael Medved school of entertainment economics tells us that those Hollywood moguls make way more R-rated movies than they should because more family-friendly fare is more profitable. Without getting into the details, I do wonder why the free market always seems to fail for conservatives when it produces something they don't like, but nonetheless that is the argument they're making - Hollywood makes R movies even though they should make more cartoons!

...let me just add that while I think that of course it's mostly about making money, I actually do think it's wrong to chalk it all up to making money. A lot of people involved in the biz fancy themselves to be artists. Plenty of others don't. But there is certainly some mix of art/money which goes into every greenlight decision. I'm certain that for the big studios the overriding emphasis is on the money, but there are certainly movies which get made and TV shows which get sustained based on the idiosyncratic views of those involved rather than on any rational business decisions.

Something Awful

The Ultimate Wanker.

Fresh Thread

Nice and clean.

More Hot Sex

Yglesias makes an important point that hasn't yet been made -- a very big reason we don't get into soft or hard censorship is because we as a country don't actually all agree on what is good or bad culture. Concern about gyrating semi-naked teenagers or chatter about sex on Friends is motivated by the same thing as concerns about Spongebob's sexual orientation. There's no way to differentiate the two, because there is no standard - "I know it's bad when I see it" is what's in operation.

Most Americans are vaguely troubled by the imagery and so forth surrounding Britney Spears and that's a disquiet that most liberal intellectual types sympathize with. It's also the case, however, that most Americans are disquieted by the message of pop cultural products which indicate that gay people are okay.

As one of his commenters reminds us, the Simpsons took care of this:

Convinced that the images on "The Itchy & Scratchy Show" are a bad influence on kids, Marge wages a one-woman campaign against the show that eventually forces the creator, Roger Meyers, Jr., to curb the violence in favor of bland, lovey-dovey plots. The new format bombs and the show's ratings plunge. Meanwhile, Marge is asked to comment on The Springfield Art Museum's exhibition of Michelangelo's "David." Not finding it at all objectionable, Marge loses her standing with the anti-free speech brigade that once supported her.



There's an honest-to-Gosh coastal conceit at work here -- one cooked up in rightwing Washington think tanks and eagerly promulgated by the precious, snarky, self-involved and hopelessly bourgie boarding-schools-then-Harvard-or-Yale-then-Columbia-J-School D.C. and New York media class. It says that all those Midwestern and Southern lumpens in their gauche sweatpants, flannels and crucifixes are slow-witted, pious, fragile and afraid. They of the patriarchal sky gods and the cult of the football just want to be assured that somebody's running things and will discipline anyone that gets out of line. The Dems just have to show that they can be stern in order to get right with rightwing voters.

This is just bullshit, as anyone who's ever been to a Harley rally in Milwaukee or a hunting lodge in the U.P. will surely know. Blue-collar Midwestern and Southern culture is as sacrilegious as it is sanctimonious and as libertine, if not much more so, as it is buttoned-down. Those suburban and exurban true believers in the Bush cause? We don't know them. They're friggin' pod people, those God people. But the Washington and New York cognoscenti look out on the hinterlands and see an undifferentiated mass of Passion-viewing, Terry-and-The-Babies-saving Rapture Christians.


Here's a video which can serve as an antidote to the ones I previously inflicted on you. And, the song was good enough that I ordered the CD.

I Blame the Shirt


But in private, some senior leaders are saying it's only a matter of time before the most powerful Republican in Congress is forced from office. "Democrats should save their money. Why murder someone who is committing suicide?" said a senior GOP lawmaker, on condition of anonymity.

(via commonblog)

Even More Sexier

From Digby:

In order to gain a political majority in this country we need 51%. We have 49%. This question of where we are going to get that majority could be answered in any number of ways or any combination of ways. But, you have to settle on some sort of strategy and mine comes down on the second option. It reflects my personal values and I think it presents a stark, clear choice between the two parties now that the Republicans are being shackled by their image as the party of the religious right extremists. I think it's good policy and good politics both to embrace a "mind your own business" message in light of how far out the Republicans have become. Now is not the time, in my opinion, to blur the lines. It's time to draw them clearly. All those people who watched FOXnews in disgust during the Schiavo matter are open to the argument that the Republicans are trying to impose radical religious values on the country.

But, others disagree and think that social conservatism is where the votes are and that's where we should concentrate our efforts. I have serious doubts that attacking popular culture will be seen as anything more than pandering but there are ways to test this issue.

And more Big Media Matt:

That's great. I think better child care is desperately needed. I think the Democratic Party's neglect of work/family issues is insane and unconscionable and that if liberalism has any future it's in tackling these issues. But -- and this is crucially important -- going all Joe Lieberman and ranting and raving about how video game companies are destroying the soul of America's youth does not constitute addressing the problem. If you need to pretend you think Grand Theft Auto is a major social problem in order to get people to support actual solutions to actual major social problems arising from the intersection of feminism and capitalism, so much the better. But I worry that obsessing about Friends does the reverse: It's a convenient ploy to distract attention from the actual structural economic forces at work. So if our disagreement is really just about political tactics, let's have the disagreement on those terms without castigating the less-cynical side as composed of insidious "cultural elites." If Amy really thinks there is something government ought to do on the merits to curb popular culture, then I'd like to hear what, exactly, it is.

Run Newt Run!


Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) will spend two days in New Hampshire next week to meet editorial boards and conservative activists, convincing several of his former House colleagues that he will run for the presidency in 2008.

Gingrich will spend Monday and part of Tuesday in the Granite State and has packed his schedule with events calculated to boost his profile and woo influential Republicans whose support would be critical in a presidential primary. New Hampshire is the site of the first primary.

Gingrich will attend a $50-per-person fundraiser for the New Hampshire Republican State Committee and meet a coalition of conservative activists. He has also scheduled meetings with the Concord Monitor, Union Leader and Valley News and an appearance on New England Cable News, said Rick Tyler, his spokesman.

I for one look forward to an all-star matchup between Phil Gramm, Liddy Dole, Steve Forbes, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich, and Pat Buchanan.

(..and, on the other side we can expect the all-star matchup of Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Al Sharpton, Bob Kerrey, Bill Bradley, and perennial Fox News Democrat "Some asshole with a mean sign".)


O'Reilly is lying. Water is wet.


A twin issue is how people react to different portrayals of violence in movies. Much as people seem to not to mind hypersexual imagery as long as it contains no actual nudity, people seem much more comfortable with comic book violence on the screen than they do with more realistic portrayals of violence. By comfortable I don't mean their own personal reaction -- it's understandable and good that people are disturbed be realistic violence -- I mean that such portrayals tend to provoke outrage about the fact that they exist.

This is precisely backwards. If we care we should cheer when movies show realistic portrayals of violence and their consequences, and condemn Gropenfuhrer-style comic book violence (what was the body count in Commando?) which make violence acceptable and consequence-free.


Sullivan responds to Big Media Matt. It seems it's all about members of Congress giving "I feel your pain" speeches about the difficulties of child-raising. That's fine, especially when they're practicing small-scale retail politics with their constituents. But, the job of members isn't to emote, it's to actually legislate. So, when Congressman X starts speaking about an issue, the obvious follow-up is oh, yeah, what are you going to do about it?. Sullivan writes:

I believe there are actually policies Democrats can pursue that don't involve censoring free speech or impacting how adults consume popular culture. But sometimes it's not about policies.

Which policies? I'd like to hear about them. Because, otherwise what we're going to get is some grandstanding and nothing. Again, I'm all for some "feel your pain" speeches, but I'd prefer they're followed up with constructive policies which might actually make raising families a wee bit easier - such as, you know, providing them with health care. In terms of what causes parental pain, Janet's booby and its relatives are small fish...

Over Bettors

As I've written before, the currency markets tend to react quickly in a predictable fashion to any new financial news, so their movement generaly provides a pretty quick proxy for how new data deviated from expectations.

Today we hit a record trade deficit which was higher than the supposed "consensus" result. But, the dollar instantly rose on the news, when it instead should have moved in the opposite direction if the published consensus view accurately reflected the market view. Clearly the market was betting on an even higher number...

Byron York - Big Liar?

I'm shocked to discover this possibility. My faith in the conservative movement is forever shattered.


What Big Media Matt says. I just do not ever know what the cultural prudes on the left actually want the Democrats to do other than give smarmy Joe Lieberman speeches on the evils of the video game industry. I don't ever even know exactly what it is in the entertainment industry that they're so offended about.

Maybe I'm slightly unsympathetic in part because I don't quite get the obsession with shielding children from anything that hints at sex. "Family television" products in the UK certainly don't show a lot of sex, but they don't pretend it doesn't exist either. To me it isn't the acknowledgment of sex, it's the schizophrenic hypersexualization (young Britney Spears videos) combined with the "pretend it doesn't exist" attitude towards sex itself which is a problem. It seems to me that growing up understanding that sex is a perfectly normal and healthy activity that grownups engage in, rather than some alien thing done by bizarre people at 2 in the morning on Cinemax, isn't such a bad thing. And, yes, I have no kids so feel free to bash me.

But, even leaving that aside - right now parents have the ability to both prevent their kids from watching things on TV by blocking channels AND to provide them with a full library of parent-approved programming with cheap DVDs, etc... And, yes I know that as kids get older it gets harder and harder to maintain, but as the kids get older it also presumably gets less important to shield them from things.

Wanker of the Day


Jesse writes:

The major problem with the media is not one of partisanship. They are self-styled ministers of information, who choose themselves not to be informed. It's why they've been getting pushed around like chumps by the conservative anti-media brigade - they won't bother to inform themselves about it, and step in with all the naivete of a 12-year-old told that if their hand is bigger than their face, it means they'll get cancer.

Chafee Turns on DeLay

If I were Chafee, I'd use the whole DeLay situation to do a dramatic party switching. Given the numbers in the Senate, there's little reason for him to just switch parties, he has to use some dramatic event to make a point.

And, the Republican party becoming Tom DeLay's bitch is probably about as good an opportunity as he'll get.

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Galactica Blogging

As an on-again off-again sci-fi geek who thinks the new Galactica is really fantastic, I thought this blog entry by Ron Moore was worth highlighting:

I firmly believe that what Kara Thrace did to Leoben in "Flesh and Bone" was wrong. I believe that a society which employs torture on the defenseless captives in its custody has crossed a bright shining line that civilized people should not cross. Likewise, I think that Laura Roslin promising a man freedom only to kill him in the end is abhorrent to the ways in which I want my president to behave. However, I also understand why each of them did what they did. I understand the emotional, psychological and moral quandries which can lead two moral, good people to take such ghastly actions. And, in the end, I also believe that it was true to who characters really are, and that trumps everything else.

There's much to like about the show. The unwillingness of its creators to pass clear judgment on the actions of its characters is part of what's makes it great. While "bad guys who are really good" (think NYPD Blue's Sipowicz) are a staple of episodic TV, the new Galactica benefits from not having clear heroes and anti-heroes. Not a perfect show, but nonetheless fairly unique in its willingness to embrace moral ambiguity to allow us to contemplate moral complexity.

Spawn of Sid Vicious

Max Blumenthal goes deep undercover:

Michael Schwartz must have thought I was just another attendee of the "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" conference. I approached the chief of staff of Oklahoma's GOP Senator Tom Coburn outside the conference in downtown Washington last Thursday afternoon after he spoke there. Before I could introduce myself, he turned to me and another observer with a crooked smile and exclaimed, "I'm a radical! I'm a real extremist. I don't want to impeach judges. I want to impale them!"

As the kids say, read the rest...

America: We Stand as One

Fuck Yeah! remix.

(via Beato-at-Wonkette)

Joe & Zell, Pees in a Pod

Babs "I Am Hillary!" Comstock:

BARBARA COMSTOCK, FMR. JUSTICE DEPT. SPOKESWOMAN: Paul, as Bob pointed out, Tom DeLay is one of the most effective leaders, which is why the Democrats have tried to make this a campaign issue. Now as you know from your friend Senator Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman, oftentimes people break in the party.

More Health Care

Kash adds some sexy sexy numbers.

The creepy thing isn't that we spend more per capita than everyone in the world, the creepy thing is that our government health expenditures alone are, per capita, greater than just about everyone else in the world. About half of our health dollars are spent by governments, but they're spending it in this horrendous uncompetitive for profit system.

Health Care

The ideological inability of some people to see just how fucked up our health care system astounds me.

European health care is great. You need a doctor, you go see one. It varies from place to place, but the more electivish a surgery is the longer you'll have to wait (as if people don't wait for such surgeries here, even if they have good insurance), but if you're wealthy enough you can just pay someone there or abroad to do it.

I've probably written this story before, but last time we were abroad for a significant period of time (Spain) Mrs. Atrios needed to see a doctor. It wasn't an emergency situation, but something which definitely required some attention. So, we go to the neighborhood clinic. They take her passport #. She gets to see a doctor within 45 minutes or an hour. The doctor is very concerned about the insurance issue - not because the visit was going to cost anything but because of the prescription we were going to have to get. We did have insurance, of the "submit it when you get home and if you're lucky you'll get reimbursed" variety but the doctor was still quite worried about the cost of a prescription which ended up costing us about $2.75.

Take the Poll

Tell Bill O'Reilly what you think.

For the record, from what has been reported it seems like DeLay's daughter actually worked for her money (and not just in hot tubs), while his wife really didn't. But, vote yes anyway!


So, I guess the post-deathwatch plan is for CNN to be like local TV news in Los Angeles.

"Sorry Old Fraud"

Crazy Davy and pals.


We can now look forward to every end of life dispute becoming fodder for local politicians. First Ohio, then the nation...

Holy Joe in Great Company

This is hilarious.


Isn't the mustache reason enough to vote against him?


Sam Rosenfeld takes issue with my statement that "The Theocrats are coming for their payment."

He is right that for the most part they won't be getting it, at least at the Federal level. But, that's largely due to the fact that absolutely nothing would satisfy these people. As Echidne writes, they consider themselves to be at war and they love fighting that war. Sure, they need to win a battle here and there to make them satifised, but they'd never stop. We'd achieve some version of Gilead, and they'd still imagine they were oppressed and struggling. Once they got more of what they wanted they various factions would just turn on each other.

Bug Man

Thoughts on how long he lasts?

When Wingnuts Attack

Here's what happens when a bunch of white supremacists come across your website... (Read the comments)

Sunday, April 10, 2005


While I'm sure that when the Republican party is humiliated and goes into hiding for a few years, Jim Henley and I will agree on little. But, right now I agree with him and more importantly agree with the arguments which gets him to the decision, something we probably won't do very frequently on economic issues.

The political reality is that any effort that tries to replace the corporate or personal income taxes with a VAT will leave us with a corporate income tax, a personal income tax and a VAT. The other reason to be against a VAT is the reason Yglesias is for it: it’s a relatively stealthy way to raise taxes a lot. If you don’t work in corporate tax accounting, you’re unlikely to recognize the increases for what they are. You’ll just notice that you’re either paying a lot more for every good and service you consume or (to the extent that the market forces companies to hold the line on prices and reduce profits) fewer people have jobs and your 401K is in the toilet.

No, if “we” “need” new revenue, let “us” be open about taking it. No need to add an entire parallel enforcement and calculation structure into the bargain, not to mention the fiscal and administrative fuss and bother for the proposed “advanced rebate” to the poor who would be hit hardest by any sales-based tax. In the meantime, paging Mr. Gramm and Mr. Rudman. Messrs Gramm and Rudman to the white courtesy phone, please.

Basically, any discussion of changes to the tax code have to begin with "revenue neutral" changes. That is, how do we play around with the tax burden keeping the amount of revenue we expect to raise as the same as current law. Debates about structural changes to the tax code need to be kept separate from debates about "tax increases" or "tax cuts."

As for the VAT itself, it's a very stupid tax unless we want to pump it up to Europeanish levels - lower than that, and a national sales tax would do the job. I'm not advocating a national sales tax, but it's a superior-yet-similar tax unless the tax rate is set at a high rate - a couple percent doesn't make the cut. And, Jim's comments on the added administrative burden of a new tax are correct.

Look, if we want/need to raise revenue we can do that easily. A loophole/deduction closing here and there, a point or two on various tax rates here and there can very simply raise quite large amounts of money. And, I'm all for "broadening the base, lowering the rates," something which in theory liberal economists like me and the Republicans in power should agree on, but don't because the Republicans in power are completely full of shit. There's no need to add on an entirely new and costly to administer tax.

Do These People Exist?

Last Wednesday, there was an NPR story on Bush's file cabinet stunt, where he was *shocked* to discover that the social security trust fund was not the equivalent of stuffing money into a mattress. NPR's David Greene reported:

GREENE: This filing cabinet houses about $1.7 trillion in government bonds and officially represents the money that has come in to the Social Security system from workers and will one day be going to retirees. As the cameras kept clicking, Mr. Bush pulled out a copy of a bond. He wanted to make the point that Americans who think there's some colossal pile of cash stored away for people when they retire are wrong. Actually, they're just IOUs here in a building along the Ohio River. The president's visit here lasted less than 10 minutes...

I could never quite tell if this was a sarcastic statement or a straight one. Are there many Americans, aside from those in the punditocracy, who imagined that the trust fund consisted of a "colossal pile of cash stored away?" This is just absurd. If ever the government wants to create a "colossal pile of cash" they can just order the Treasury to print up a few shiny new trillion dollar bills. That wouldn't be especially smart economic policy, but nor would storing a few trillion in cash in a giant mattress.

Shays' Rebellion

(yeah, inappropriate but inevitable headline)

WASHINGTON Apr 10, 2005 — Private GOP tensions over Tom DeLay's ethics controversy spilled into public Sunday, as a Senate leader called on DeLay to explain his actions and one House Republican demanded the majority leader's resignation.

"Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election," Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., told The Associated Press in an interview, calling for DeLay to step down as majority leader.

I've Arrived

From the Sacramento Bee:

A news junkie, Cho said her reading is "all over the place. I travel so much, it's whatever paper is outside my door in the morning. Plus whatever's on TV ... CNN. (Web sites) Atrios and DailyKos and those places are good sources. It's kind of like anywhere you can pick up information. This show is dependent on that.

"I also have a Paparazzi watch," she said. Made by Swatch, the watch delivers news and other information via MSN Direct. "It's very 'Inspector Gadget.' It has a button with a news feature for news from all over the world. It's right there on my wrist."

Cho said the content of the "Assassin" show "changes quite a bit over the run of it." It's probably more political than sexual in content, she said, because "politics is more exciting and immediate." She said the act has "grown out."

And, make sure to check out her show. It's great.

All Yours

Be excellent to each other.

Wingnuts vs. Wingnuts

Santorum turns on DeLay. Who will get the title of King of the Wingnuts?

Kill Me Now

Warning, if you watch this music video you will be begging people to put a bullet in your head.

Gas Prices

This question basically applies to people with nontrivial daily auto commutes. At what sustained level of gas prices would you seriously consider major lifestyle changes? That is, at what gas price would you seriously consider moving closer to your place of employment, or shifting to public transportation if it's available, or to a location where you would generally be less auto dependent (such as, for example, moving to a place where public transit is more convenient)?


Spikey Mikey gets Abramoff going nuclear on DeLay:

April 18 issue - Jack Abramoff was somber, bitter and feeling betrayed. Once a Washington superlobbyist, Abramoff is now the target of a Justice Department criminal probe of allegations that he defrauded American Indian tribes of tens of millions of dollars in fees. As stories of his alleged excess dribble out—including the emergence of e-mails showing he derisively referred to his Native American clients as "monkeys" and "idiots"—some of Abramoff's old friends have abandoned him and treated him like a pariah. They claim they knew nothing of his questionable lobbying tactics. So last week, glumly sitting at his corner table at Signatures, the tony downtown restaurant he owns that remains his last redoubt, Abramoff lashed out in frustration.

"Everybody is lying," Abramoff told a former colleague. There are e-mails and records that will implicate others, he said. He was noticeably caustic about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. For years, nobody on Washington's K Street corridor was closer to DeLay than Abramoff. They were an unlikely duo. DeLay, a conservative Christian, and Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew, traveled the world together and golfed the finest courses. Abramoff raised hundreds of thousands for DeLay's political causes and hired DeLay's aides, or kicked them business, when they left his employ. But now DeLay, too, has problems—in part because of overseas trips allegedly paid for by Abramoff's clients. In response, DeLay and his aides have said repeatedly they were unaware of Abramoff's behind-the-scenes financing role. "Those S.O.B.s," Abramoff said last week about DeLay and his staffers, according to his luncheon companion. "DeLay knew everything. He knew all the details."

It is a Washington melodrama that has played out many times before. When political figures get into trouble and their worlds collapse, they look to save themselves by fingering others higher in the food chain. Will Abramoff attempt to bargain with federal prosecutors by offering up DeLay—and does he really have the goods to do so? Abramoff has at times hinted he wanted to bargain—possibly by naming members who sought campaign cash for legislative favors, says a source familiar with the probe. But Abramoff's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, says, "There have been no negotiations with the Justice Department." Lowell cryptically acknowledges that Abramoff has been "disappointed" and "hurt" by the public statements of some former friends, but insists his client is currently "not upset or angry with Tom DeLay." Still, if Abramoff's lunch-table claims are true, he could hand DeLay his worst troubles yet.


Wow. Chris Shays is the first one to jump ship. I'm sure the hammer is readying a horse head for his bed as we speak.

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