Saturday, April 23, 2005


I've been struck lately by the number of young adults who smoke. I'm not especially anti-smoking or anti-smoker, but given how much things have changed I'm surprised by the number of people who pick it up. It seems we transitioned from a time when smokers didn't think there was anything wrong with smoking, and therefore the decision to become a smoker was a trouble-free decision to become a lifelong smoker. Then we all learned smoking was bad. Quite bad, in fact. Over a period of decades we transitioned to a reality in which I doubt a non-trivial number of people who start smoking expect to be lifelong smokers. I imagine most 21 year olds who smoke actually believe they'll quit by age 30 or so. That is, most people who start smoking do so fully believing that they'll go through the horrible process of quitting in the not very distant future. That's why I find it weird that so many young people smoke.



The airfare to London and Scotland in 2000 for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number.

DeLay's expenses during the same trip for food, phone calls and other items at a golf course hotel in Scotland were billed to a different credit card also used on the trip by a second registered Washington lobbyist, Edwin A. Buckham, according to receipts documenting that portion of the trip.

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay, who is now House majority leader, has said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization and that the financial arrangements for it were proper. He has also said he had no way of knowing that any lobbyist might have financially supported the trip, either directly or through reimbursements to the nonprofit organization.

The documents obtained by The Washington Post, including receipts for his hotel stays in Scotland and London and billings for his golfing during the trip at the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland, substantiate for the first time that some of DeLay's expenses on the trip were billed to charge cards used by the two lobbyists. The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis.

Late Night

Have fun.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

For our Republican-led press.

SF Chron, 5/19/2004:

Bush's disavowal of further recess appointments this year virtually dooms those nominations. Republicans could try to change Senate rules and prohibit filibusters on judicial nominations -- a tactic known as the "nuclear option," which Republican leaders have refrained from attempting -- or could revive the nominations next year if Bush is re-elected.

WaPo, 10/26/2004:

His nuclear rhetoric has seeped into domestic matters. In a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, riff on the administration's troubles getting judges confirmed through Senate Democrats, Cheney said Republicans have considered procedural challenges designed to prevent nominations from being filibustered. "Some people call that . . . sort of the nuclear option," Cheney said, adding that such a move "would start an amazing battle on the floor of the Senate. Some of us think there's a certain appeal to that kind of an approach."

San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/12/2004:

Democrats and Republicans alike refer to such a move as the "nuclear option," wary that it will trigger a long and uncivil war in the upper chamber.

Post-Gazette, 11/15/2004:

Specter also said controversial proposal floated by Frist to eliminate filibusters for judicial nominees should be "on the table" when senators return to work tomorrow. Under the Frist proposal, known in Senate circles as the "nuclear option," Vice President Dick Cheney, as presiding officer of the Senate, would rule that filibusters on judicial nominations violate the Constitution's directive that judges be appointed with the "advice and consent" of that body.

Post-Gazette, 11/16/2004:

With conservative Republicans, even the idea of the Democrats being in a position to block nominees with filibusters has come into question. Sen. Frist has suggested the highly controversial idea of ending this tradition. Sen. Specter, now bending over backward to be the party man, said on another TV show that the so-called "nuclear option" should be on the table.

Not for nothing is the filibuster-killing amendment dubbed "nuclear." It would blow collegiality away and with it any sense that the parties could retreat from fiercely partisan positions. Capitol Hill would be scorched with ill will.

Financial Times, 11/18/2004:

In the Senate, Republicans yesterday discussed whether to use the so-called "nuclear option" - changing the body's rules on the use of the filibuster against the president's judicial nominees. Under the long-standing Senate procedure, just 40 votes of the 100-member body are required to block action.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Q&A with Dick Durbin, 11/28/2004:

Q Is it likely the Republicans will use the nuclear option (barring the use of filibusters on judicial nominations?)

A The Republican leadership indicated to us they would not. They did not say they would never do it, but I hope they don't. It would be a terrible way to start a session.

WaPo, 12/13/2004:

Republicans say that Democrats have abused the filibuster by blocking 10 of the president's 229 judicial nominees in his first term -- although confirmation of Bush nominees exceeds in most cases the first-term experience of presidents dating to Ronald Reagan. Describing the filibusters as intolerable, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has hinted he may resort to an unusual parliamentary maneuver, dubbed the "nuclear option," to thwart such filibusters.

WaPo, 12/20/2004:

During Bush's first term, Democrats would did not allow a vote on 10 of the 52 appointments he made to fill vacancies on federal appeals courts. The overwhelming majority of Bush's 229 judicial nominees, however, were confirmed by the Senate. After the Republicans' Election Day gains, conservative groups have been increasing pressure on Senate Republicans to force votes on Bush judicial nominees. Senate Republicans are considering whether to employ a rare and highly controversial parliamentary maneuver -- dubbed the "nuclear option" -- to declare filibusters against judicial nominations unconstitutional.

Bob Novak, 12/20/2004:

This is the "nuclear option" that creates fear and loathing among Democrats and weak knees for some Republicans, including conservative opinion leaders. Ever since Frist publicly embraced the nuclear option, he has been accused of abusing the Senate's cherished tradition of extended debate.


Frist drew a line in the sand Nov. 11 in addressing the conservative Federalist Society: "One way or another, the filibuster of judicial nominees must end." The way he indicated was a rules change -- the nuclear option.

NYT, 12/24/2004:

Nan Aron, the president of the Alliance for Justice, a liberal group that monitors judicial nominations, said that Mr. McClellan's statement appeared to be an effort to ease the way for Republicans to undertake what is sometimes called ''the nuclear option'' -- having the presiding officer of the Senate declare filibusters out of order. Democrats say they would have no choice but to challenge that and bring business to a halt.

Houston Chronicle, 12/24/2004:

If Democrats attempt a stalemate, Republicans have threatened to use what is called the "Nuclear Option" - a parliamentary tactic to force a vote on forbidding filibuster on judicial nominees. That would require a two-thirds vote, far from a certainty in the Senate.

CSM, 12/27/2004

In the looming battle over President Bush's judicial nominations, much has been said about using the so-called nuclear option to by-pass Democratic filibusters.

First appearance in major papers of phrase "constitutional option" appers to be in the WaPo, 12/13/2004, and is the only time that phrase appeared in 2004 in reference to this issue.

I Did Not Know That


The most significant impact of the 2002 law, Grimes said, was a record-keeping change. Previously, a miscarriage before viability was classified as a spontaneous abortion. Under the new provision, it is recorded as a live birth followed by a neonatal death, and parents can claim the child as a tax deduction for that year, he said.

The whole thing is creepy of course, apparently in theory requiring doctors to provide treatment to unviable fetuses, though they haven't managed to provide any actual specifics. Not sure if this does or does not override Texas law allowing hospitals to pull the plug over the objections of parents. Sure is a topsy-turvy world.

Proud to be an American

A charming tale:

ASHINGTON, April 22 - A German citizen detained for five months in an Afghan prison was released in May 2004 on direct orders from Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, after she learned the man had been mistakenly identified as a terror suspect, government officials said Friday.

The officials, who confirmed an account of Ms. Rice's decision that was first reported by NBC News, said that when Khaled el-Masri was taken from a bus on the Serbian-Macedonian border on Dec. 31, 2003, the Macedonian and the American authorities believed he was a member of Al Qaeda who had trained at one of Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan.

But within several months they concluded he was the victim of mistaken identity, the officials said. His name was similar to a Qaeda suspect on an international watch list of possible terrorist operatives, they said.

By then, Mr. Masri, 41, a car salesman who lives in Ulm, Germany, had been flown on a C.I.A.-chartered plane to the prison under a secret American program of transferring terror suspects from country to country for interrogation, officials said. At the prison in Kabul, Mr. Masri said, he was shackled, beaten, photographed nude and injected with drugs by interrogators who pressed him to reveal ties to Al Qaeda.

For reasons that are unclear, he remained for months at a prison known locally as the "Salt Pit." The case reached Ms. Rice in May 2004, officials said, and twice, over several weeks, she ordered him immediately freed. He was released in Albania on May 29, 2004.

The American officials acknowledged Friday that the detention had been a serious mistake and that he had been held too long after American officials realized their error.

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Masri said that he was gratified that "the truth has finally come out" and that he expected an apology. "I hope that America will in the future respect the rights of people," he said.


Do you think if we append "water" to the end of Halliburton the press might get excited?

NEW YORK - The Halliburton corporation, already the Iraq war's poster child for "waste, fraud and abuse", has been hit with a new double whammy. A report from the US State Department accuses the company of "poor performance" in its US$1.2 billion contract to repair Iraq's vital southern oilfields.

And a powerful California congressman is charging that Defense Department audits showing additional overcharges totaling $212 million were concealed from United Nations monitors by the administration of President George W Bush.
According to Representative Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives sub-committee on government reform, "both the amount of Halliburton's overcharges and the extent of the information withheld from the auditors at the UN's International Advisory and Monitoring Board [IAMB] were much greater than previously known".

Waxman said the Defense Contract Audit Agency, which monitors all Pentagon contracts, had identified Halliburton overcharges and questionable costs totaling $212.3 million - double the total amount of known overcharges under Halliburton's Iraq oil contract.

In one case, Waxman said, the overcharges exceeded 47% of the total value of the task order.

But the Defense Department - at Halliburton's request - withheld the new amount from IAMB, the UN audit oversight body for the Development Fund for Iraq, Waxman charged.

In letters to government auditors, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) explained that it redacted statements it considered proprietary or "factually inaccurate or misleading" and gave consent for the release of the audits to international auditors "in redacted form". The administration then sent the heavily edited report to the IAMB.

"The withholding of this information is highly unusual and raises serious issues," Waxman complained in a letter to sub-committee chairman Christopher Shays. "The evidence suggests that the US used Iraqi oil proceeds to overpay Halliburton and then sought to hide the evidence of these overcharges from the international auditors."

Halliburton rips us off, and the Bush administration pays them using Iraqi oil money.

Albom "Disciplinary Action"

What, did he have to write "I will not be hack" 100 times on the blackboard? In the grand scheme of things Albom's screwup was minor, but I think people wrong to dismiss it. It's one thing to be a young ambitious reporter and, being on deadline, pull this kind of bullshit. It's wrong, but you do it because you feel you have to.

Of course, Albom is a superstar. He doesn't have to do anything. He did what he did simply beacuse he believed he was entitled to.

While Albom certainly isn't central to my news world, he is in the ranks of the untouchables - people who, once having achieved a certain level of stardom, are no longer bound by the rules that mere mortals are. And, when they do get caught out, they're still not really punished.


Nice to see him turning from Super God to joke.


Have fun.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Time Covers of the 20th century.

More Thread


Friday Cat Blogging

Message From Pelosi

In a recent column, Robert Novak claimed that "went blank after Republicans complained that its language was over-the-top for an official site that bar partisan rhetoric." Apparently, Mr. Novak's reporting is only accurate when he is blowing the cover of CIA operatives. was indeed down - for technical maintenance. It is now back up and running, with several new features including Dear Mr. President, Abuse of Power, Ethics, and the GI Bill.

If expressing the views and values of the House Democrats can be labeled as "partisan rhetoric," what does Mr. Novak call the taxpayer-funded work of Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Mike McManus?

Pundits of the Caribbean

It's too horrible to even contemplate. (warning, probably only 65% work safe)

JimmyJeff Live and Unleashed

From his blog:


I will be appearing on MSNBC's "Dietl & Daniels" at 4:30PM EST to discuss some of the libel, slander and defamation that I have been subjected to for the past three months.

Afternoon Thread


No Free Weather for You

Santorum wants you to pay for stuff that you already pay for as taxpayers so his friends can get richer.

The Plan

Josh tells us that we may actually get a real live plan for Social Security soon.

Church on Top

Looks like Pope Ratzi thinks he's in charge of the world now.

Pope Benedict XVI has responded firmly to the first challenge of his papacy by condemning a Spanish government bill allowing marriage between homosexuals.
The bill, passed by parliament's Socialist-dominated lower house, also allows gay couples to adopt.

A senior Vatican official described the bill - which is likely to become law within a few months - as iniquitous.

He said Roman Catholic officials should be prepared to lose their jobs rather than co-operate with the law.

Morning Thread


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Richard Morrison

My tendency is to stay out of primaries, and even now I don't want to make an endorsement. But, my take absent any information I'm not aware of is that the DCCC would be making a big mistake not backing Morrison v. DeLay in '06.

I lack perfect information on these things, but my perception is that Morrison would be opposed not because of his lack of skills as a candidate, but because of his lack of deference to the DCCC.


As was obvious to anyone who watched the press conference during which she didn't (couldn't) mention the size of her settlement but could nonetheless give the world the Biggest Grin Ever, it appears that Andrea Mackris is doing quite well...

Bébé's World


This Will Be Ignored


In an exclusive interview, Hyde delivered a big dose of candor and some reflective second guessing. He said, among other things, he might not try to impeach President Clinton if he had it to do all over again.


When asked if he would go through with the Clinton impeachment process again, Hyde said he wasn't sure. It turned into a personal and political embarrassment for Hyde when an extra-marital affair he had in the 1960's became public amid accusations of hypocrisy. He called the affair a youthful indiscretion.


The veteran DuPage County congressman acknowledged that Republicans went after Clinton in part to enact revenge against the Democrats for impeaching President Richard Nixon 25 years earlier.

Andy Shaw asked Hyde if the Clinton proceedings were payback for Nixon's impeachment.

"I can't say it wasn't, but I also thought that the Republican party should stand for something, and if we walked away from this, no matter how difficult, we could be accused of shirking our duty, our responsibility," said Hyde.

Though, of course, Nixon was never actually impeached - the Judiciary Committee passed the articles but they never went to the House. Still, good enough for journalism.
(thanks to reader l)

More Fun With Bolton

Apparently he's a big liar. Isn't lying to Congress a no-no? Isn't Cokie Roberts going to start screeching "rule of law! rule law!"

President Bush personally came to the defense of his embattled nominee for United Nations ambassador on Thursday, telling reporters that despite mounting criticism, John R. Bolton deserved to be confirmed by the Senate.

"He is the right man at the right time for this important assignment. I urge the Senate to put aside politics and confirm John Bolton to the United Nations," Mr. Bush said.

But Bolton's fate grew even murkier, as one of the president's own former ambassadors, told CBS News Correspondent Gloria Borger that Bolton had been less than truthful in his recent confirmation hearings.

The episode revolves around a speech Bolton gave in South Korea in the summer of 2003, in which he said, "For many in North Korea, life is a hellish nightmare."

When asked about the hard-line speech, Bolton said Ambassador Thomas Hubbard had approved it.

"I can tell you what our ambassador to South Korea, Tom Hubbard, said after the speech. He said, "Thanks a lot for that speech, John. It'll help us a lot out here.'"

Well, that's not what Hubbard says. In fact, the ambassador told CBS News that he specifically objected to the tone of the speech and actually found it unhelpful in dealing with North Korea.

J. Edgar Bolton

Laura Rozen has a source who claims "Bolton was running his own counterintelligence operation, was using the intelligence to figure out how he can get back at people."

Will anything wake our press up?

Is There No God?

Taibbi reviews Friedman.

Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.

On an ideological level, Friedman's new book is the worst, most boring kind of middlebrow horseshit. If its literary peculiarities could somehow be removed from the equation, The World Is Flat would appear as no more than an unusually long pamphlet replete with the kind of plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping that passes for thought in this country. It is a tale of a man who walks 10 feet in front of his house armed with a late-model Blackberry and comes back home five minutes later to gush to his wife that hospitals now use the internet to outsource the reading of CAT scans. Man flies on planes, observes the wonders of capitalism, says we're not in Kansas anymore. (He actually says we're not in Kansas anymore.) That's the whole plot right there. If the underlying message is all that interests you, read no further, because that's all there is.


Tomasky is very very good today.

On successive days in mid-November 2002, Tom DeLay was elected House majority leader, replacing the retired Dick Armey, and Nancy Pelosi was chosen as the House Democrats’ leader, succeeding Dick Gephardt. One of those had amassed a capable but relatively quiet record of service in the House of Representatives, stirring controversy only once (by supporting the primary opponent of a longtime congressional incumbent from Michigan). The other had called the Environmental Protection Agency “the Gestapo of government”; had denounced the Nobel Chemistry Prize, after it was given to the discoverers of the link between chloro?uorocarbons and ozone depletion, as the “Nobel Appeasement Prize”; had called CNN the “Communist News Network”; had linked the Columbine High School shootings to birth control and day care; had avoided military service during the height of the Vietnam War in 1969 (reportedly explaining, in 1988, that so many minority youths were going after those well-paying military gigs that there was no room for good folk like himself); had led a fanatical crusade to force votes on articles of impeachment against a president with an approval rating above 70 percent; and had been rebuked (privately) by the House Ethics Committee for attacking a business trade group for daring to hire a former Democratic congressman as its president.

And guess which choice the media said was a calamity?

Enron Stock

Ted reviews the latest Enron movie which I also recommend, though I do want to quibble with one thing he writes:

For example, some people had most or all of their retirement accounts invested in Enron stock. That’s an important part of the story. It would also have been appropriate to show someone, anyone, pointing out that these people had made a horrible, foolish decision on their own.

There certainly were people who behaved very foolishly, but this state of affairs was in part due to the fact that Enron's matching contributions were in Enron stock, and such contributions couldn't be moved into other funds until the employees reached the age of 50.


Just read.

"A Fit Parent"

Oh lordy.

Afternoon Thread

Have fun.

Golden Throats

Young Matt has his first exposure to William Shatner's pipes. Saw a fascinating exhibition a couple of years ago in Barcelona on trash culture - basically, stuff that's so horrible it comes around the other side and becomes good again. You know, things like Ed Wood movies.

Also recommended in this line are The Shaggs and Florence Foster Jenkins. The latter is an almost tragic tale, but fascinating.

More Cloudy John

Alterman responds.

This isn't the most interesting part, but as an aside I thought this was actually a fascinating possibility:

Finally, Cloud throws in a great many personal insults toward me and toward David Brock in the hopes of deflecting the criticism he has received of his work. My guess is that this is his first experience in receiving public criticism and he will grow to regret the intemperance of his remarks. In the meantime, even if his wild charges were accurate, they would do nothing to exonerate his article.

Given that I doubt any of us knew who the hell John Cloud was until a few days ago, this is probably true. It's quite interesting. Even when I was getting a couple hundred of hits per day I suffered a barrage of constant public criticism. I'm not complaining or whining, it's just part of blogging. You get used to it very quickly. It's interesting to me that someone working for a major news magazine could possibly have largely avoided it. Maybe it isn't the case, but...


Reed, Norquist get subpoenas....


I'm shocked to find out that our majority leader is a big hypocrite. Just shocked. DeLay in 1995:

"The time has come that the American people know exactly what their Representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people, the American people, have a right to know...I say the best disinfectant is full disclosure, not isolation." - U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, 11/16/95

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Late Night


Action Alert

John Speak, You Listen.

Har Dee Har Har

August responds to Cloudy John.

As does Media Matters.

They Write Letters

David Brock writes to Rupert Murdoch.


Oh My God. Read Brian Montopoli's interview with John Cloud. It's worse than I thought. We're all fucking doomed.

Saddam Stole My Car Keys

The right goes further into loony tunes land...

...and, consider how offensive this is:

If McVeigh were just the grunt — mixing the chemicals, driving the truck, setting the timer, and running off — guilty though he might be, if the bombing was a plot by a foreign government, his lawyer would have had a chance at the sentencing hearing to argue that others were more responsible and McVeigh should not be executed.

Yes, the guy who mixed the chemicals, drove the truck, set the timer, and killed 168 people was "just the grunt." Thanks Fox News.

Senator Sanders

My idea of a decent successor to the retiring Jeffords. He's won a statewide election 8 times.

...Sirota has more. Let's hope the Dems are sensible enough to not run a candidate. If Sanders goes on the D ticket and there's a primary challenge I'm fine with that, but if the idiots set up a 3 way split in the general...

53% of Americans Would Be Happier With Saddam Still in Power

Yes, that's a stupid way to phrase it but that's way our liberal media generally frames the issue. That's the high level of discourse we get in a world in which Tim Russert is the top intellectual. The question has never been about whether Sadddam's a bad guy, it's about whether it's worth spending $X and sacrificing Y lives and Z assorted limbs, eyes, brain regions, etc to do what we did.


From a political interest group perspective, the inreasing closeness between once mortal enemies - papists and conservative Protestants - has been a troubling development. It's nice that we can all get along now, but that schism has been a major contributor to the understanding of the necessity to maintain the separation of church and state, keep religion out of public schools, etc...

So, now that we have a new pope who isn't into the making nice with other religions thing, will this continue? From what I can survey of the conservative-religious wingnutosphere, they seem to be thrilled that he's a "conservative" and not too concerned about his discussion of "lesser faiths" and "not churches in the proper sense."

We're getting reports now that one of his primary goals is to reach out to other religions. But, it's quite clear that what he means is reach out to other religions in an attempt to unite them under his leadership.

Always About the Sex

This closing line to this post is pretty damn offensive. Max takes care of it pretty well here, but I just want to chime in a bit too. The issue that puzzles people like me and understandably troubles Crazy Andy is not simply that the Church has a position on sex and sexuality or even a position on sex and sexuality that we might disagree with. I disagree with the Church on just about everything! I'm not Catholic!

The question isn't why for Sullivan or me or anybody else it's "always about the sex." The question is why in contemporary society much of religion is all about the sex, and especially gay sex. Last I checked there were all kinds of sins and all kinds of sinning going on. The Church may never stop considering homosexuality to be a "moral evil." But, they consider lots of things to be "moral evils." Why the obsession with hot gay sex?

I realize this doesn't apply across the board to all religions. But, it certainly applies to the public discussion of religion and morality, especially where it intersects with politics.

Morning Thread


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Fuck the Jews


First We Kill All the Internets

Delay on Justice Kennedy:

"Absolutely. We've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States? That's just outrageous," DeLay told Fox News Radio. "And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous."

Heh. Indeed.

Remember When

One protest that was announced was an upcoming zap of Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, the German prelate who was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. He had written a paper for the Vatican in which he said that homosexuality was "intrinsically disordered" and a "moral evil." Cardinal Ratzinger had said the church had to fight the homosexual and fight against legislation that "condoned" homosexuality.


Ratzinger sat at the altar, along with Cardinal O'Connor and several other prelates. Judge Robert Bork, the conservative Supreme Court nominee who'd just been rejected by the Senate, sat in the front row. Mrs. William F. Buckley, Jr., was there too, as was an incredible array of Upper East Side women, the upper crust of New York's Catholic Society. There were prominent Wall Street businessmen and local government officials. And rows and rows of nuns, brothers, and priests, perhaps the heads of orders and parishes...

I looked for protesters, but I couldn't see anyone with a sign or a T-shirt. I wondered for a few moments if anything was really going to happen. I had decided to go there strictly to watch, to check out how these people operated when they conducted these demonstrations. As for myself, I didn't know the first thing about protesting and I still wasn't sure about it...

...Ratzinger took the podium and began to speak. As soon as he finished his first sentence, a group of about eight people to the left of the crowd leaped to their feet and began chanting "Stop the Inquisition!" They chanted feverishly and loudly, their voices echoing throughout the building. The entire room was fixated on them. Activists suddenly appeared in the back of the church and began giving out fliers explaining the action. Two men on the other side of the room jumped up and, pointing at Ratzinger, began to scream, "Antichrist!" another man jumped up, in one of the first few rows near the prelate, and yelled, "Nazi!" All over the church, angry people began to shout down the protestors who were near them; chaotic yelling matches broke out.

It was electrifying. Chills ran up and down my spine as I watched the protestors and then looked back at Ratzinger. Soon, anger swelled up inside me: This man was the embodiment of all that had oppressed me, all the horrors I had suffered as a child. It was because of his bigotry that my family, my church -- everyone around me -- had alienated me, and it was because of his bigotry that I was called "faggot" in school. Because of his bigotry I was treated like garbage. He was responsible for the hell I'd endured. He and his kind were the people who forced me to live in shame, in the closet. I became livid...

Suddenly, I jumped up on one of the marble platforms and, looking down, I addressed the entire congregation in the loudest voice I could. My voice rang out as if it were amplified. I pointed at Ratzinger and shouted: "He is no man of God!" The shocked faces of the assembled Catholics turned to the back of the room to look at me as I continued: "He is no man of God -- he is the Devil!"

From Michelangelo Signorile's Queer in America
(thanks to reader H for the reminder)

Fresh Thread



Watching Kerry call out Bolton on his lies to the committee I'm struck yet again about how much our media culture has changed since the 90s. Despite the media's obsession with "Clintonian parsing" it was they themselves who parsed every phrased uttered by anyone in the Clinton administration, desperately ferreting out any possible untruth or new angle to launch another 3 weeks of rabid attacks from the likes of constitutional scholar Ann Coulter.

Doesn't this stuff matter anymore?

...woah, Voinovich throws in a wrench.

...hey, we won a round. I wonder what was in Voinovich's wheaties this morning.


Well, they presumably just cleared the way for the Bolton vote to take place in a bit. Get all your Bolton blogging related program activities at the Washington Note.

Fresh Thread

Chat away.


CNBC says new pope elected. Well, the good news is that must be a consensus candidate instead of a slim majority candidate.

From a certain perspective, it shouldn't much matter to me who the pope is. But, the church wields great political power in the world and he has influence over things that do impact me and things I care about.




And before I get the standard fake-outrage from the Right about the mean nasty things I'm saying about poor defenseless little Ann, the standard reminder: I reserve the right to be slightly upset about Time glorifying a woman who once expressed dismay that one of my parents wasn't murdered in a terrorist bombing. So please, with no due respect, fuck the fuck off.


Like New York Observer’s George Gurley, Cloud has accepted the role of an unpaid PR flack for a woman who frequently jokes about the mass-murder of journalists—including presumably, himself--and he professes to find this charming. And let us pause for a moment to note that today is the anniversary of the day that Timothy McVeigh did his horrid deed—the mass murder of men, women and children. Ms. Coulter and the moron, Gurley, thought it was so cute to joke about wishing he had accomplished at The New York Times. (I suppose it’s too much to worry about her calling for the mass murder of Arabs.) With the resources of Time’s legions of researchers and fact-checkers, he relies on a casual Google search to determine that she can be “occasionally coarse” and that her work is “mostly accurate.” I spoke to one of those researchers and I’m quoted in the article. But more to the point, I pointed the researcher in the direction of many easily available sources that easily undermine Cloud’s lazy and credulous reporting. The entire package is a statement of contempt for the values for which Time professes to stand; another notch in the belt for the far-right’s forty-year campaign to destroy journalists’ role in assuring democratic accountability in our society.

Really at a Loss for Words

Cold black hearts.

Read this for something more inspiring.

Ho Howie

Howie sez:

As evidence of the media's "hard right bias," former Democratic operative David Sirota objects to the cover on "right wing crazy person Ann Coulter" and asks: "When was the last time you saw someone of equal (if not more) importance on the left promoted on the cover of America's mainstream magazines?"

Um---Time's cover on Michael Moore?

Howie, the key word is "promoted." For Ann Coulter, the caption was "Is she serious or just having fun?"

For Michael Moore, it was "Is this good for America?" Some promotion.

...and, as people point out, Moore was actually news at the time, while Coulter is not. So, a cover story is "promotion" and not "news."

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Ho Ho Greenfield

Ho Jeff to Howie:

Some journalists are unperturbed. CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield likes many blogs and doesn't much worry about "the baked-potato brains who say you're a media whore. . . . On the whole, I'm real happy to know there are a lot of people watching with the capacity to check me. I don't think that's chilling. It's just another incentive to get your facts right."

As for "smear artists" on the Internet, Greenfield says, "the freedom that it gives anonymous twerps to spew out invective -- that they don't like the way you look or think you're an idiot or a child abuser -- that's just part of the process."

Big Fucking Ho Greenfield to America:

Even more damning was a "Nightline" report broadcast that same evening. The segment came very close to branding Hillary Clinton a perjurer. In his introduction, host Ted Koppel spoke pointedly about "the reluctance of the Clinton White House to be as forthcoming with documents as it promised to be." He then turned to correspondent Jeff Greenfield, who posed a rhetorical question: "Hillary Clinton did some legal work for Madison Guaranty at the Rose Law Firm, at a time when her husband was governor of Arkansas. How much work? Not much at all, she has said."

Up came a video clip from Hillary's April 22, 1994, Whitewater press conference. "The young attorney, the young bank officer, did all the work," she said. "It was not an area that I practiced in. It was not an area that I know anything, to speak of, about." Next the screen filled with handwritten notes taken by White House aide Susan Thomases during the 1992 campaign. "She [Hillary] did all the billing," the notes said. Greenfield quipped that it was no wonder "the White House was so worried about what was in Vince Foster's office when he killed himself."

What the audience didn't know was that the ABC videotape had been edited so as to create an inaccurate impression. At that press conference, Mrs. Clinton had been asked not how much work she had done for Madison Guaranty, but how her signature came to be on a letter dealing with Madison Guaranty's 1985 proposal to issue preferred stock. ABC News had seamlessly omitted thirty-nine words from her actual answer, as well as the cut, by interposing a cutaway shot of reporters taking notes. The press conference transcript shows that she actually answered as follows: "The young attorney [and] the young bank officer did all the work and the letter was sent. But because I was what we called the billing attorney -- in other words, I had to send the bill to get the payment sent -- my name was put on the bottom of the letter. It was not an area that I practiced in. It was not an area that I know anything, to speak of, about."

Late Night

Have fun.


I have no opinion on whether it's in our interests for the Chinese to revalue their currency. But, as Yglesias rightly points out - if this is indeed what we what we want them to do then putting a tariff on goods equal to the percent amount we'd like to them to revalue is roughly equivalent. Actually, it seems to me that such a tariff would be far superior than a simple revaluation. The tariff would increase the effective price on Chinese imports for consumers, which is of course the point, and reduce our trade deficit. It would raise lots of revenue for the government, paid for by Chinese exporters (and indirectly American consumers), reducing our fiscal deficit. In addition it wouldn't spike interest rates because being a tariff only on goods it wouldn't sharply increase the cost of American bonds to the Chinese, which would spike rates and raising our borrowing costs.

Again, I have no opinion whether revaluation is a desired outcome, but if it is I can't see how the tariff isn't actually a vastly superior option from our perspective.


1) raises costs of imports (bad)
2) improves trade balance (good)
3) spikes interest rates (potentially very bad)


1) raises costs of imports (bad)
2) improves trade balance (good)
3) does not spike interest rates (good)
4) raises revenue and reduces fiscal deficit (Good)

We have a winner!

Cloudy John

Media Matters provides a bit of light for John Cloud.

Journalisming is Hard Work

One of the most egregious passages in Time's Ann story, because it demonstrated just how either lazy or dishonest* the reporter is was this one:

Coulter has a reputation for carelessness with facts, and if you Google the words ‘Ann Coulter lies,’ you will drown in results. But I didn’t find many outright Coulter errors.

Think Progress helps the reporter out.

*I'm going with dishonest, for the record. Either he or his editors wanted a love letter to Ann, and that's what he produced.

Afternoon Thread

Let the caustic online discourse continue!

Time Magazine Morons

I guess I shouldn't expect anything from journalists who think it's cute to put an advocate of murdering other journalists on their cover, but in addition to that rather shocking lack of judgment they're really really stupid.

Time to convene a panel on blogger ethics and the caustic nature of online criticism!

...and, predictably, even though Time magazine wrote her a love letter she's still going to complain about how they were unfair to her (Warning, drudge). When will the liberal media learn...

...skippy writes a letter.


One could waste an entire lifetime talking about what's wrong with Ho Howie's latest. I'll just start and end by pointing out that a column decrying the caustic nature of "online criticism" is a little silly given that it's coming from the man who was going to have Assrocket, who led a rather caustic and bullshit campaign against one of Kurtz's own reporters, on his CNN show had the pope not died...


From Tom Tomorrow.


You know, I find this to be creepy. Really really creepy. Do most people? I don't know.

In his Senate office, on a shelf next to an autographed baseball, Sen. Rick Santorum keeps a framed photo of his son Gabriel Michael, the fourth of his seven children. Named for two archangels, Gabriel Michael was born prematurely, at 20 weeks, on Oct. 11, 1996, and lived two hours outside the womb.

Upon their son's death, Rick and Karen Santorum opted not to bring his body to a funeral home. Instead, they bundled him in a blanket and drove him to Karen's parents' home in Pittsburgh. There, they spent several hours kissing and cuddling Gabriel with his three siblings, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2. They took photos, sang lullabies in his ear and held a private Mass.

...just to add, the story contradicts contemporaneous accounts. I hate to "go there" because I, unlike Rick and Karen Santorum, think these decisions should be between a woman and her doctor, but here's what the Post says:

At one point, her doctor raised the prospect of an abortion, an "option" Karen ridicules.

Steve Goldstein of the Inky reported for Knight Ridder in 1996:

Last fall, Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican who is the leading proponent of barring the procedure - termed ''partial-birth abortion'' by its foes - was within hours of having to decide whether to use an abortion to save the life of his wife, Karen Garver Santorum, who was in her fifth month of pregnancy.

Ultimately, they did not have to make a decision; nature made it for them. Karen went into premature labor brought on by infection, delivering a boy who had a fatal abnormality. The child died two hours later.

In an interview, the Santorums said they would have authorized an abortion had there been no other choice.

Facts, schmacts.

No Surprise

Do not trust Donald Luskin with your money.

(thanks to reader k)

Not Popular

Will the Beltway Cocktail Party Crowd, so perfectly represented by the nauseating Note, ever internalize the fact that Bush and his people are not popular. More generally, I'm horrified by a press that would even consider that presidential popularity should have an influence on the tone of their general coverage of the administration. I'm doubly horrified by a press that pretends that's the reason, even though popularity clearly had no impact on the way Clinton was treated as his approval ratings remained in the 60s.

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Happy Belated Birthday

To Joel Grey. Just popped in Cabaret and then realized he's now 73 years old, as of April 11.

Perhaps the greatest film musical performance ever.

Happy Anniversary To Me

3 years. Crazy.

Family entertainment

So, through the miracle of the internets I've been watching the new Doctor Who. I was a geeky Who fan back in my teen years. I find the old series to be quite slow now, though maybe I just had all the episodes seared into my brain during my formative years.

But, the show is billed as "family entertainment," as was the old show. Family entertainment in the UK isn't a euphemism for "something the kids will like and adults will tolerate." It generally refers to a show that the whole family can sit around the telly and watch and that has some appeal for everyone, aside from the fact that it keeps the kids quiet for a bit.

Not being a parent I'm obviously not an expert on these things (meaning I could be wrong), but it strikes me that we have no actual "family entertainment." There are things which are more or less family friendly - that is, things parents can watch without worrying about the content if the kids are in the room, and obviously there are Disney-type fare which adults like - but almost nothing really made to appeal to entire families.

But, the UK version of "family friendly" is certainly at odds with what would be acceptable for us. Take the new Who, for instance. The 20ish companion lives with her mother in council flats (public housing), and there's no father to be found. Her mother is a somewhat buffoonish horny middle-aged woman. When an alien ship crash lands in the Thames, the thing to do is to gather the neighbors around the telly and drink a bunch of beer. In other words, parental authority is not exactly what we'd consider to be role model worthy (even though family itself is portrayed in a good light).

Similarly, British "panto," a theatrical Christmas tradition, combines humorous slapstick retelling of fairy tales with raunchy jokes and double-entendres which are supposed to go over the heads of the wee ones, but probably don't. In other words, something no good American parent would dare bring their child too for fear of having child protection services after them.

Anyway, just an observation... add, we do have more movies which fit the bill, though even there not so many.

...flipping on the TV just now I'm struck by the fact that "Malcolm in the Middle" might fit the bill. Is this something your 8 year old watches?

Evening Thread


Evening Thread


Those Damn Internets

Consider this paragraph from the Post on the exoneration of Michael Schiavo regarding abuse allegations:

The records show that DCF took seriously its duty to investigate abuse allegations, which became familiar fodder on the Internet: Terri Schiavo was dirty and unkempt. She did not receive proper dental care or rehabilitative therapy. She was kept in isolation. Her husband beat her and broke her bones. He wanted her dead for her money or to remarry. He pumped her full of insulin, hoping to kill her. He often asked, "When will (she) die?" Her lips were cracked and dry.

They weren't just "familiar fodder on the Internet." I seem to remember hearing about those allegations in multiple media outlets.

LA Rails

This column gets it about right. Expanding an urban mass transit system really only is a worthwhile endeavor if it's accompanied by changes in development patterns. We're not talking about turning a suburb into Manhattan, we're talking about taking a place which is very-dense-but-not-dense-enough and encouraging higher density development around stations and transportation corridors.

The myth of LA is that it was the first major city to grow up around the automobile. The truth is, it's the first major city to grow up around the streetcar (1910 map). That's why even decades later it lacks the density that older cities, which grew up around walking and horse-n-buggies, have but is still quite densely developed throughout relative to newer sunbelt cities. The urban highways which were added later as the streetcars were disappearing aren't sufficient to handle the cars, but mass transit options won't really help much unless density is increased in enough places to make it pedestrian friendly. Rail will get you from A to B, but if you've got another mile or so to walk in area which isn't pedestrian friendly it isn't much of a help.

The thing is, to restate, a lot of LA is almost dense enough to be pedestrian friendly, but it's often undermined by car-centric development and policies.

...for a taste of LA density, play around with google's satellite imagery.

Afternoon Thread

Have fun.


More fun from Time:

New York ­ “It was congress’s 2000 Memorial Day holiday, and [House Majority Whip Tom] DeLay’s staff thought the boss and two top aides deserved a respite from the arduous hours they had been putting in doing the people’s business,” TIME’s Karen Tumulty reports. They wanted to make sure DeLay’s little delegation had the finest of everything on its weeklong trip to Britain: from lodging at the Four Seasons Hotel in London, to dinners at the poshest restaurants with the most interesting people, right down to the best tickets for The Lion King—at the time one of the hottest shows playing on the West End, and one for which good seats usually meant a six-month wait. So DeLay’s congressional office turned to someone they trusted far more than any travel agent or concierge: lobbyist Jack Abramoff. “He ran all the trips,” recalls one former top DeLay aide. “You ask where the itineraries came from, who made all the travel arrangements—it all came out of Jack’s shop,” TIME reports.

Previous trips had taken DeLay and members of his staff all over the world, but none had been quite as meticulously planned as this one. Three sources who worked with Abramoff at the time say the majority whip’s office ran one of Abramoff’s assistants ragged with its constantly changing requests. Indeed, say two of those sources, the whole idea for the expensive London jaunt had originated with DeLay aides as an additional stop to a golf outing that Abramoff had proposed at Scotland’s famous St. Andrew’s course, TIME reports.

DeLay’s travel arrangements may be drawing the interest of the Justice Department. Sources tell TIME that at least one former assistant to Abramoff who was involved in setting up the 2000 trip to England and Scotland is scheduled to be deposed this week by the FBI, whose Washington field office has assigned half a dozen agents to an investigation into the dealings of Abramoff and his business associate, former DeLay spokesman Michael Scanlon...

The President’s team is increasingly frustrated by the majority leader’s inability to mount a defense more persuasive than blaming his problems on a liberal conspiracy. DeLay, says one senior Administration official, “is handling this like an idiot,” TIME reports.

As an aside, let me chastize Time for having stupid fucking headline writers. The headline is:

Abramoff: Orthodox Jew Refuses to Drive or Use Electricity on Sabbath; Yet Indulges Love of Gadgets, Buying $30,000 Golf Simulator and Insisting His BMW Come Equipped with Flat Screen TV

The headline is based on a much more reasonable profile paragraph which just shows different sides of the man. But, the headline implies these things are in contradiction - No electricity on Sabbath, but lots of electricity every other day!!!


Meanwhile in Iraq

What we've got here is a failure to communicate...

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraqi security forces raided a town in central Iraq on Sunday where Sunni militants were holding dozens of Shiite Muslims hostage and threatening to kill them unless all Shiites left the area, an Iraqi official said.

Elsewhere, three American soldiers were killed and seven service members wounded overnight when insurgents fired mortar rounds at a U.S. Marine base near Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Sunday.

Residents said dozens of armed militants had tried to force their way into Camp Blue Diamond and that some suffered casualties. The attackers fled into a nearby mosque and were pursued by Iraqi security forces, but no insurgents were found there, the U.S. military said.

The assault raised to 24 the number of people who died in Iraq on Saturday.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.