New findings from the Urban Institute show that private sector health insurance coverage for children decreased between 1999 and 2002. Fortunately, expansion of Medicaid eligibility and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has more than offset the shrinkage. However, the Bush Administration's budget reorganization for 2004 threatens to reduce funding to these organizations in the long term.
The pie charts below show how health insurance coverage was distributed among children in low-income families. In 2002, these 29 million children in families with incomes of less than double the poverty level represented 37% of all children in the United States.
In 1999, employers covered 39% of such children, Medicaid and SCHIP covered 35%, and 23% (about seven million children) had no health insurance coverage. By 2002, employer coverage and the number of uninsured had both decreased, while Medicaid and SCHIP coverage increased to 48% (about 14 million children in low-income families).
I'm glad Attorney General John Ashcroft has left behind his cozy confines in Washington and is traveling the country to meet with regular folks for once. Hopefully, it will do the Attorney General some good to hear from the American people on how his extreme policies have hurt this nation. I only wish that he would actually listen to the people of America as he tours the country and upon returning to Washington straighten up his far-right Justice Department. I feared John Ashcroft would become just this kind of Attorney General when I voted against his confirmation in 2001. His Justice Department has demonstrated a willful lack of commitment to the basic fairness and equality of opportunity that has made this country all that it is today. I, along with 98 other United States Senators, supported the passage of the Patriot Act. Never did I expect it to be implemented the way it has. Mr. Ashcroft has chosen to destroy our civil liberties under the premise of personal security and safety; the true spirit in which the law was written.
Is Bush a radical? TAPPED, which has been sadly hamster-linkless since the arrival of Wilkes and Williams in Fiji,
Gen. From's Last Stand
From the American Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta. Al From is going craaazy ...
Al From is quivering with rage. It's the end of a long day in late July at the Wyndham Philadelphia, and with a sheen of sweat coating his face, he gleams with emotion as he launches into the closing speech of the day at the DLC's annual conference. It's a grim speech, delivered in rousing, impassioned tones more vehement than any other speech that day. "We cannot allow our party to be hijacked!" thunders From, railing against the leftists who have been his bête noire since he founded the DLC in 1985. "The future of our party and more importantly the future of our country is at stake." ...
The battle for the soul of the Democratic Party is not confined to the DLC versus Dean contest. An apparent schism between different generations of New Democrats -- between those whose defining political experiences occurred in the 1970s and those shaped by the battles of the '90s -- has been developing for some time. And that leaves some strategists coming to some very non-DLCish conclusions about the current political environment.
The Bush administration, to combat this very real problem, wants to force foreign countries and American ports to fumigate nearly every last board-foot with methyl bromide, a deadly pesticide. There's just one catch: methyl bromide is a direct, dangerous threat to the ozone layer, and because it's mandated for a total phaseout under both the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol ozone-protection treaty, a massive production increase would violate both U.S. and international law. Bush's plan, which purports to benefit the environment, instead appears calculated to undermine the Montreal Protocol while wildly profiting some of the GOP's staunchest financial backers -- a handful of methyl bromide manufacturers and the agribusiness interests that are the biggest users of the chemical.
If we take everything in the article to be true, the only thing to draw from this article is Franken "misleading" Ashcroft in a satirical and obviously over-the-top letter. The Harvard stationary is a matter between Harvard and Franken and, given the work Franken does for them (he was their commencement speaker), I hardly think there's love lost. Read the letter, and if you honestly believe Franken was writing the letter as a serious, accuracy-based document (as humorless conservatives do), then that's unfortunate. Holding that same standard - that satirical work should be 100% true - Franken and indeed many satirists and comedians are reprehensible liars. We should take shows like "Punk'd" and"Candid Camera" off the air. Conservatives should challenge Franken on facts, not his setup of works of humor like SNL skits or this letter. And, given that conservatives have not and instead have resorted to attacking Franken's clearly satirical and over-the-top work, that doesn't speak much for them.
Edit: The Smoking Gun has the letter. In it, Franken admits that it was an "imprudent attempt at satire." That, again, is my point. Franken was being satirical and over-the-top in a satirical and over-the-top letter that Harvard and Ashcroft's people didn't find funny. Hence, to read more into it then that (malicious lying, hypocrisy, etc) is overkill and unfair since it forgets the context.
Also, "fair and balanced" Fox, in the last paragraph of the story, only presents the Fox argument regarding the lawsuit. It doesn't mention Franken's case:
Last week, News Corp., the parent company of Fox News Channel and Foxnews.com, filed a lawsuit against Franken for using its trademark "fair and balanced" slogan in his book title and mimicking the look and style of two books published by Bill O'Reilly, a Fox News personality.
Exclusive! Another Al Franken LIE! Franken was NEVER ACTUALLY PRESIDENT. Yet, this book claims he was.
O'Reilly Column: "Calling Al Franken a satirist is a farce ... It is simply a sorry joke to see a political activist like Al Franken labeled a satirist by The New York Times."
Eric Burns, Fox News Watch, August 16, 2003: "Should satirist Al Franken be allowed to use "fair and balanced" in the title of his new book?"
Fox News, August 19, 2003: "Franken, a satirist and former writer for "Saturday Night Live," admitted in a letter last month that he deliberately tried to mislead Ashcroft when he sought personal information from him.
Two years later, legislators have begun to understand that our fears were not based in phantoms at all. With each month that passes, the harmful effects of the Bush administration's power plays and the USA PATRIOT Act become increasingly evident. Judicial review and oversight has been limited. The Fourth Amendment's right for people to be secure in their persons, homes and effects has been endangered. The Fifth Amendment's right to due process of law has been threatened. The Sixth Amendment's guarantee of a speedy trial and a citizen's right to confront witnesses against him or her has been ignored in several cases. And the First Amendment's promise of free speech has been chilled by jarring comparisons of dissenting opinions to the high crime of treason.
The administration's actions have generated increasing activism by Americans concerned about the loss of constitutional liberties. That concern is making itself felt in Congress, where several measures under consideration aim to curtail the Bush administration's assertions of unchecked intrusive power. They include bills to protect personal information and enhance judicial review of proposed searches by federal agents. This new legislation follows several victories for proponents of civil liberties, including a House of Representatives vote to deny funding for 'sneak and peek' searches and the temporary ban on John Poindexter's Terrorism Information Awareness program. Progress was also made on the controversial airline passenger credit card and bank record checks in the CAPPS II program.
The Conn. Senator continues to attack Howard Dean, the left-of-center former Governor, according to the CSMonitor.
Lieberman might as well attack Dean. He's losing badly in New Hampshire. With Lieberman's name recognition, 4% is awful.
Howard Dean 28
John Kerry 21
Dick Gephardt 10
Joe Lieberman 4
John Edwards 2
Bob Graham 2
Wesley Clark 1
Braun, Kucinich, Sharpton 0
Kerry Screwing Up
Second link to Seeing the Forest this week. Dave has a post about his experiences with the Kerry camp. Can someone say out of touch? With Kerry the frontrunner, and perhaps the eventual nominee, he needs to be sensitive to his base of support. And dissing the Internet? I can't explain that one ...
Clark Enters Small Country
Gen. Wesley Clark, subject of this week's the-hamster.com unscientific weekly poll, entered Scarborough Country. Granted, Scarborough Country has the population of Maldives every night ... here's the transcript. *FIXED LINK*
CLARK: Here's the case you have to make. To have a preemptive war, you have to have had a significant threat. It has to have been so imminent that you couldn't wait. And second-thirdly, there has to have been no alternative but to have used force. In those three cases, the administration failed to make its case before going in and it has failed since the war to have established that case.
SCARBOROUGH: But, General, under that test, we would have never gone into Kosovo, would we?
CLARK: We would have. In fact, we did everything we could to avoid having to use force in Kosovo.
SCARBOROUGH: But there was an imminent - was there.
CLARK: We had to only, under the imminent threat. (CROSSTALK)
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on, General. Was.
CLARK: No, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: . there an imminent threat in Kosovo?
CLARK: There was an imminent threat of regional destabilization caused by a fourth round of ethnic cleansing. And the Clinton administration chose not to go to war. It chose to solve a problem using diplomacy. It was only when the diplomacy utterly failed that it went to force, and then it used the minimum degree of force. So I think Kosovo is an excellent example of what can be done. Today, Slobodan Milosevic is in The Hague. There are no American troops on the ground in Serbia. As far as I know, only one American soldier has died, a soldier who ran over a mine in Kosovo from that occupation. And it hasn't cost tens of billions of dollars. Instead, it's helped the Yugoslavs themselves develop democracy at home.
I actually haven't heard Clark explain the difference between the threats in Kosovo and Iraq. So there it is. I report, you decide (uh-oh, call the lawyer).
Earlier this year, Wiley learned that Meristem Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in France, wants to test a new sort of genetically modified corn in Colorado soil. The company's crop produces proteins that can be used to manufacture lipase, an enzyme used in the treatment of digestive disorders. Optimistic backers say this corn and other "pharmaceutical" crops could one day provide cheaper, more accessible treatments for maladies ranging from the life threatening to the merely annoying. They say pharmaceutical crops might also open lucrative markets to the nation's struggling small farmers.
But to Wiley and many other Colorado farmers, Meristem represents not an opportunity but a mortal threat. Their anxieties about pharmaceutical plants might sound, at first, like an echo of the familiar debate around genetically modified foods: Wandering pollen could introduce genes into food crops or wild plants, which might then produce novel proteins; pharmaceutical plants could be accidentally mixed with food shipments; and climate changes or other environmental factors might cause inserted genes to express themselves in unexpected and unwelcome ways.
Penguin, in court papers filed Monday, said the suit is "lacking in merit" and "antithetical to free expression concerns protected by the First Amendment."
So far, the legal action has only helped sell the book, which for the past week has been in the top 10 on Amazon.com. Penguin originally planned a print run of 250,000, but announced Monday that it had ordered an additional 40,000 copies ...
Penguin also moved up the publication date from Sept. 22 to the end of this week, meaning books will likely be on sale by the time of Friday's hearing.
I'm getting emails with attachments about every 5 or so minutes with "your details" or something similar as the title. Anyone having similar spam / bugs being sent to them? Know what it is?
When Fox sued Al Franken last week Monday, it seemed like someone could make a case that the lawsuit would be problematic for Franken. However, with even The Wall Street Journal writing that the lawsuit is ridiculous, that doesn't seem to be the case. Hence, last week's poll results.
Question: The Fox News lawsuit against Al Franken is one of the best things that could happen to Franken and his book.
Agree: 728, 97%.
Disagree: 26, 3%.
This week's poll is self-explanatory. With Wesley Clark expected soon to announce his candidacy, this question may be appropriate.
He also discussed a move that nearly cost him his political year. As mayor of Cleveland, Kucinich refused to sell the city's electric utility to a private group. The banks then defaulted the city's loans and Kucinich did not win re-election. It took 15 years, Kucinich said, for the city to recognize the money that his perseverance saved the citizens. He won a seat in the state Senate in 1994 and was elected to his first term in the U.S. House in 1996.
The bulk of his campaign message was the future of health care in America, stating funding is already in place to supply Medicare to all American citizens - a universal health care with a single player plan. He said reduction in administrative costs alone would shoulder his plan.
As Kucinich does not believe in privatized health care, he also believes Social Security should not be privatized. He vowed to cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement and withdraw from the World Trade Organization as well as repeal the Patriot Act. He said he would put $48 billion into higher education through community colleges and state universities and revisit the policies in Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal such as the Works Progress Administration.
I bet Tom wishes he had advisors before he did this:
He and Quayle, DeLay explained to the assembled media in New Orleans, were victims of an unusual phenomenon back in the days of the undeclared Southeast Asian war. So many minority youths had volunteered for the well-paying military positions to escape poverty and the ghetto that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself. Satisfied with the pronouncement, which dumbfounded more than a few of his listeners who had lived the sixties, DeLay marched off to the convention.
Maybe so. But I've talked to quite a few Dean supporters, including mainstream Democrats, lapsed voters, flaming leftists, Naderites, gay activists, civil libertarians, anti-death penalty lawyers, pro-single payer health professionals and even a surprising number of Nation staffers. I have yet to find one who mistakes Dean for Eugene Debs, or even for Paul Wellstone, whose line about belonging to the "democratic wing of the Democratic Party" Dean likes to borrow. They've gone for Dean because, alone among the major Democratic contenders, he has taken Bush on in an aggressive and forthright way, because he's calling the craven Democratic Party to account and because they think he can win. "I have no illusions that Dean is a true progressive," said one young graduate student who describes himself as a leftist, "but I don't care. I just want to beat Bush. If Dean has the momentum, I say, go for it." That word "momentum" comes up a lot.
The Other 9-11 Effect
A little-known after-effect of the 9-11 attacks is environmental. Salon.com has a strong report on the toxic fallout of 9-11
More than 2,000 buildings in lower Manhattan were exposed to the same wave of debris and dust, and many were filled with residents and office workers within days after the attacks. Today, the Deutsche Bank findings and an emerging body of studies by private agencies and the EPA itself sharply contradict the initial EPA assessment and suggest that the federal government overlooked a substantial threat that could ultimately harm more people than the terrorist attacks.
Juan Gonzalez of In These Times has an older article about the subject.
Monday, August 18, 2003
Fascinating O'Reilly Rhetoric
O'Reilly's new column is a joy to read. He writes of Franken: "attempting to smear and destroy the reputations of those with whom you politically disagree is not satire." Of course, O'Reilly doesn't cite an example of Franken doing something dishonest. Franken cited an example of O'Reilly lying (O'Reilly's lack of a Peabody), but O'Reilly hasn't cited a case with Franken. We're still waiting ...
Still, the main argument of the O'Reilly rant is that Franken isn't a satirist. The definition of a satirist (from Websters) is "one that satirizes; especially : a writer of satire." It's hard to believe that Franken, a founding member of Saturday Night Live and winner of 5 comedy Emmys and a comedy Grammy, isn't a satirist.
Sierra Club: Leavitt Record Suggests "Little Improvement"
Sierra Club, considered by many as the moderate among the liberal environmental groups, says the Utah Governor has done a "terrible job protecting our air, water and lands." The Sierra Club's survey of Leavitt's environmental record.
Clean water enforcement is among the worst in the nation under Governor Leavitt. Utah recently tied for last in enforcing the Clean Water Act, according to an EPA report dated February 2003. (Washington Post, June 6, 2003) According to the EPA report, Utah's clean water enforcement program was so bad that it tied for dead last, with Ohio and Tennessee, in six key measures of effectiveness. Also of note, one of Leavitt's first acts as governor was to fire the Division of Wildlife Resources enforcement official who had fined the Leavitt family's fish farm for violations that brought the devastating whirling disease to Utah ...
The U.S. Energy Information Agency, which recently predicted that 92% of new utility generating capacity will come from non-coal sources, may have to change their tune after the nomination of Governor Mike Leavitt for EPA Administrator. Taking Utah down the wrong path with 19th century technology, Governor Leavitt's energy policy advocated building new coal-fired power plants and taking "advantage of the abundant coal reserves within the state." The Deseret News even reported that during a meeting between Leavitt and President Bush, Bush recommended that federal lands be opened up to produce more gas and coal, "a note Leavitt recently sounded." (Deseret News, January 7, 2001) Air pollution from coal-burning power plants is a dominant cause of smog, deadly soot, global warming, pollution in our National Parks, and toxic mercury contamination in our fish.
Since the massive blackout, Democrats have accused Bush of blocking legislation that would have allowed for upgrading the transmission system. Democrats say if the president would drop his initiative to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the national energy legislation before Congress would stand a better chance of passing.
"This issue has been held hostage to the Republican agenda of trying to drill in the most pristine wilderness, environmentally sensitive areas of the country," Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts said Sunday on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.
The American Prospect reviews former CIA officer Robert Baer's new book. According to Amazon.com: "Sleeping With the Devil details the hypocritical and corrupt relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and the potentially calamitous economic consequences of maintaining this Faustian bargain." Further, as the review from TAP states:
According to Baer, the Saudi royal family is a deeply corrupt and degenerate bunch. Sleeping with the Devil offers a litany of anecdotes that convey the almost fin de siècle depravity of the extended Saudi royal family -- not just high-stakes gambling and whoring in Monte Carlo, France's Côte d'Azur and Morocco but "illegal ventures" that make the princes widely resented at home. Family members are not above, for example, supplementing their royal allowances with bribes on construction contracts and arms deals, selling visas and bootlegged alcohol, or even "seizing commoners' property and selling it." Widespread Saudi resentment at such behavior has, Baer leaves no doubt, helped give rise to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, whose members include the 15 Saudi hijackers who took part in the September 11 attacks.
But Baer's tale is not only an indictment of the Saudi royal family and its excesses. The real target of Baer's criticism is the U.S. government itself. According to Baer, successive presidential administrations have stubbornly ignored the facts about Riyadh and other oil-rich Persian Gulf allies. In the wake of 9-11, of course, the evidence that the Saudis played a significant if not dominant role in those attacks, and in the ranks and leadership of al-Qaeda, was overwhelming. But Baer writes that the U.S. government had for years had plenty of information about the Saudi role in earlier terrorist attacks against Americans, including the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, the 1995 attack on a Saudi National Guard facility, and the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Bad news as NYC, already in the Bush recession, lost about $1.05b during the blackout. The good news? I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico.
"One of the candidates running for governor is a 100-year-old woman. Yeah, the 100-year-old says she'd like to recall Governor Gray Davis, but more importantly, she'd like to recall where she left her teeth." —Conan O'Brien
"Tonight is the Miss Teen USA Pageant. President Bush is angry at the winner. Apparently she wants world peace." —Craig Kilborn
"President Bush has chosen Utah Governor Mike Leavitt as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Leavitt's toughest job — protecting the environment from President Bush." —Jay Leno
"After months of pressure, Liberian dictator Charles Taylor stepped down as president today. Where the power-hungry Taylor goes now is a mystery, although he was seen leaving the country with $3500 and the names of 65 friends in California." —Jon Stewart
"Earlier today, Arnold Schwarzenegger criticized the California school system, calling it disastrous. Arnold says California's schools are so bad that its graduates are willing to vote for me." —Conan O'Brien
"Fear is the dark room where the devil develops his negatives."
Also, this from TheOnion.com:
Republicans Introduce Economic Equality Bill For Fun Of Shooting It Down
WASHINGTON, DC—Republicans in the House of Representatives proposed H.R. 2093: the Economic Equality Initiative, with the express purpose of shooting it down "just for kicks" Tuesday. "H.R. 2093 will level the economic playing field, spreading the wealth among the rich and poor," said Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX), visibly fighting back snickers. "We must pass this bill to stop the fat cats from getting fatter while the average Joe struggles to make ends meet. Also, I'm the Queen of Bavaria." Following 10 minutes of uproarious laughter, the congressmen stepped out of the chamber to smoke cigars lit with a bill that would allocate $115 million to clean up hazardous waste sites.
Watch video the Daily Show
You EPA-nerds will enjoy this news about Gov. Mike Leavitt . Leavitt wanted to spend $235m on a new highway. Buuuut ...
The project, stopped for now by a federal appeals court, would pave over 114 acres of Great Salt Lake wetlands that is protected for migratory waterfowl. Still, Leavitt's highway effort offers a glimpse into how he might run the Environmental Protection Agency.
When Leavitt announced the project in July 1996, he said citizens' quality of life depended on the four-lane corridor, reflecting a Mormon pride in turning an inhospitable desert environment into an economic oasis. Lawsuits, federal regulators, protests, opposition from some local officials, and an unfavorable court ruling have not altered that vision ...
"He doesn't have a high regard for federal wetlands regulations," said Lawson LeGate, the Sierra Club's senior Southwest regional representative. "There was no collaboration, no attempt to include various interests who might have come up with reasonable alternatives to traffic congestion on Interstate 15. But that's the way the governor really does business."
Again, though, I repeat my previous points about this which is that Leavitt doesn't really matter. The EPA answers to the White House and its major policies will be done as the White House wants it. Whitman was a moderate, and look what happened.
Forty-two percent of Southerners now question the administration's decision to commit troops, according to a poll by the Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University. The poll found a broad drop in Southerners' commitment to U.S. involvement in Iraq since early May, when President Bush declared an end to major military operations there.
At the time, less than one-third of Southerners were uncertain about the war. But as the postwar occupation drags on and the promised weapons of mass destruction fail to appear, doubts are increasing.
"Back when it's an easy fight with little or no resistance, people get kind of wound up in the cheering and flag-waving," said David Gespass, a lawyer and anti-war advocate with the Birmingham Peace Project. "Now that troops have been there for a year, we're worrying about when they'll get home." ...
Bush's approval rating in the South, 69 percent in May, has fallen to 57 percent in the new poll.
The poll also found that women and all racial and ethnic minorities generally express the greatest reservations about the war and the military occupation that followed. Seventy-two percent of black Southerners are now uncertain about the war, up from 54 percent in May.
Alterman: British Papers Need to Give American Papers "Kick in the Arse"
New column from Alterman in The Nation. Chickiti-check it.
Still, the First Amendment does not distinguish between the boorish and the brilliant, and even if Mr. Franken is all the things that the Fox suit accuses him of being, he remains as entitled as any other American to its protections. Fox may well insist on its day in court. But in so doing it risks leaving the public with a caricature of itself far more ridiculous than anything Mr. Franken ever could have come up with on his own.
Sunday, August 17, 2003
Tom Delay and Military Service
Below I posted Clark's response to Tom Delay. I forgot to include this article - one that I post here often - about Tom Delay's military service record. Running to Canada is one thing, but blaming your lack of military service on minorities?
He and Quayle, DeLay explained to the assembled media in New Orleans, were victims of an unusual phenomenon back in the days of the undeclared Southeast Asian war. So many minority youths had volunteered for the well-paying military positions to escape poverty and the ghetto that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself. Satisfied with the pronouncement, which dumbfounded more than a few of his listeners who had lived the sixties, DeLay marched off to the convention.
BLITZER: But during the war, early in April, Tom DeLay, the majority leader in the House, really hammered you directly. I want you to listen to what he told our Judy Woodruff then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Frankly, what irritates me the most are these blow-dried Napoleons that come on television and, in some cases, have their own agendas.
General Clark is one of them that is running for president, yet he's paid to be an expert on your network. And he's questioning the plan and raising doubts as he becomes this expert.
I think they would serve the nation better if they would just comment on what they see and what they know, rather than putting their own agenda forward as an expert.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Well, pretty strong words from Tom DeLay going after you. What do you say to that criticism?
CLARK: Well, first of all, I'd be happy to compare my hair with Tom DeLay's. We'll see who's got the blow-dried hair.
But beyond that, Wolf, he's got it exactly backward. It's upside down. I am saying what I believe. And I'm being drawn into the political process because of what I believe and what I've said about it.
So it's precisely the opposite of a man like Tom DeLay, who is only motivated by politics and says whatever he needs to say to get the political purpose. And so, you know, it couldn't be more diametrically opposed, and I couldn't be more opposed than I am to Tom DeLay.
You know, Wolf, when our airmen were flying over Kosovo, Tom DeLay led the House Republicans to vote not to support their activities, when American troops were in combat. To me, that's a real indicator of a man who is motivated not by patriotism or support for the troops, but for partisan political purposes.
States Concerned After John Hopkins Voting Machines Study
Many states are concerned that their machines could suffer serious voting fraud under the watch of Diebold. The Akron Beacon Journal reports that states are concerned about Diebold's "manipulation by both outsiders (hackers or malevolent voters) and insiders (company programmers or election staff)."
The Commission has agreed that whaling should not be allowed until stocks reach at least 54 per cent of historic levels. Under this stipulation, the current North Atlantic humpback population is about 50 per cent of historical-statistical estimates, while fins, at 56,000 and minkes at 149,000 have already exceeded the threshold.
But under the new genetics-based estimates, only the minkes are close to 54 per cent. "One of the things that the data tell us is that we have a long way to go for recovery," Roman said in a telephone interview. "Things were vastly different in the relatively recent past. How we get to that restoration? I don't know."
Republican Alabama Gov Wants to Raise Taxes
Stealing a page from the playbook of George H. Bush, Republican Alabama Gov. Bob Riley is proposing a $1.2b tax increase to close a $675 million budget deficit. Washington Post.
In most states, governors and legislatures decide whether to raise or cut taxes, but Alabama's tax code is written into its constitution -- a 1901 document whose wealthy, landed framers set out to concentrate power in their own hands -- and cannot be amended without a statewide referendum. Thus, Riley's proposal, which passed the legislature in June, will go before the voters Sept. 9. The resulting campaign -- complete with tracking polls, negative ads, political action committees, buttons, yard signs, media advisers and boiling-point rage on conservative talk shows -- has become a battle literally for Alabama's soul.
The born-again Baptist governor is telling voters in this Bible Belt state that their tax system, which imposes an effective rate of 3 percent on the wealthiest Alabamians and 12 percent on the poorest, is "immoral" and needs repair. "When I read the New Testament, there are three things we're asked to do: That's love God, love each other and take care of the least among us," Riley said in his office in the antebellum state Capitol.
Conservative interest groups are - shock - not happy.
Now, the battle is taking on national dimensions, with conservative Republican groups in Washington mobilizing to defeat Riley's plan. "If this can pass in Alabama, it could be a precedent to attempt it elsewhere, and muddy the anti-tax message," Connors said. Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, who gave Riley as congressman his group's Friend of the Taxpayer Award every year from 1997 through 2002, vowed to make Riley "the poster child for Republicans who go bad. I want every conservative Republican elected official in the United States to watch Bob Riley lose and learn from it."
The American Conservative Union, Citizens for a Sound Economy, National Taxpayers Union, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council and other grass-roots conservative groups signed a letter with Norquist denouncing Riley for a "grab for the special interests and unions" that "will burden every segment of society."
"One hundred days of ineptitude"
From columnist Bill Berkowitz. Berkowitz presents the news you won't hear from the White House spin doctors
Many Coral Reefs to be Extinct
The SF Chronicle reports on the sad news about the world's coral reefs:
Pummeled by overfishing, the world's coral reef ecosystems "will not survive for more than a few decades" unless drastic action is taken to protect them, experts warn.
To forestall a disaster that could devastate marine life, expose populous coastlines to stormier waves and economically devastate a tourism-dependent nation like Australia, the United States and other nations should vastly expand the designated "no take" zones -- where fishing and other exploitation is banned -- in coral ecosystems, said one author of an article for Friday's issue of Science.
Historical evidence dating back thousands of years proves that overfishing, not recent coral diseases or other causes, is the main cause of the slow death of the world's coral ecosystems, marine paleontologist John Pandolfi of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and 11 other researchers say in the article.
It remains to be seen whether or not the federal government or other governments of the world will respond to this.
When Conservatives Make Stupid Attacks
I was interested in a recent comment by someone named Rich to this site. Take a look:
So funny how no one cares that Franken did this exact same stunt when the book 'Al Franken is a buck toothed moron' was being published. The double standard is delightful really. -Even more so than Franken admitting to lying to interview-ee's to trick them into being in 'RLIABFI' right in the book and then calling himself a 'truth teller' on promotion. read em and weep suckers...
Franken's hypocrisy on the issue is nauseating. When a response to 'Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot' called 'Al Franken is a buck toothed moron' was published, Franken sent his lawyers straight after the author demanding (by their own words) that he "not use any image of Franken whatever." The cover was a parody of Franken's original book and Franken wrote the author saying "he in no way grants you the right to use his intellectual property' and the lawyer continued to say that "if you choose to violate my client's rights, we will immediately seek a preliminary injunction against publication of your book."
Is this guy serious? Is he actually serious? And the better question is did he actually research or read the book in question? Apparently not. I'll let the LA Times do the talking:
Franken may indeed know something about satire; in 1996, his book "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot" was itself parodied by J.P. Mauro (actually two Mauro brothers) in the book "Al Franken Is a Buck-Toothed Moron," which features a doctored Franken photo on the cover. The introduction to the book consists of letters purporting to be from Franken's lawyers, attempting to deny the authors the use of Franken's picture. Later in the book, the letters are described as fictitious.
What a shame conservatives have to resort to lies to get their point across. Then again, if this is the best conservatives can come up with ...
Bustamante is in the lead among likely voters with 25 percent to Republican Schwarzenegger's 22 percent. Trailing the leaders are state Sen. Tom McClintock, a Simi Valley Republican, at 9 percent; Republican businessman Bill Simon, who narrowly lost to Davis last November, 8 percent; former baseball commissioner and Republican Peter Ueberroth, 5 percent; independent political commentator Arianna Huffington, 4 percent; and Peter Camejo, the Green Party candidate, 2 percent.
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, the NATO boss who is toying with a bid for the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries, is starting to gain the interest of key Democrats and the curiosity of the White House. Whispers learns that White House officials have in recent days clicked through the Draft Clark Web site, www.draftclark2004.com, in an apparent effort to keep an eye on the possible presidential or vice presidential candidate. And insiders tell our Suzi Parker that Democrats are becoming interested in the Arkansan, the one possible Democratic candidate whose military and national security credentials can't be questioned. We learn, for example, that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi recently reached out to Clark in a phone call and that Arkansas Democratic officials are trying to move up the state's presidential primary to give the native an early victory next year.
Clark's allies, who are pressuring him to get in, say he might wait until October to declare or bow out of the race, and they also believe that a fall entry won't be too late. They point out that fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton entered the 1992 race late. Further, they say that money won't be an issue because defense contractors will line up to back his bid. And speaking of Clinton, Clark's friends hope that a candidate Clark would revive the former president's Arkansas Traveler gimmick of sending supporters to key primary and caucus states to talk up the Army vet, laying the groundwork for an eventual Clark visit.
From a traditional, political consulting standpoint, Wesley Clark would be tough on the GOP. Several articles, including this one, have made that point.
Liberals will obviously frown upon the "defense contractors will line up to back his bid," but I'd wait to see exactly what that means, since Clark didn't make the statement and we don't know everything about Clark and military issues. Further, I don't know if that's necessarily true. Right now, Clark's pretty progressive: 1) Didn't support Iraq, 2) Internationalist view, i.e. UN and NATO, 3) Dismissal of unilateral warfare. Still, budget discretionary spending isn't much of an issue for the White House since the courts struck down the line item veto in Clinton, et al. v. New York City, et al. Congress is responsible for spending, so it's a bigger issue for individual congressmen, not the president.
You may like your Uncle Robert – he might be nice, funny and a great Xmas gift-giver – but that doesn't mean you want him to run the family business. This past week a clear line of attack has emerged for Democrats in the recall election: Arnold doesn't know enough to govern. Dems need to stress that Arnold, while a likable guy, just doesn't know enough to run a state with tens of millions of people.
I haven't seen any personal-attacks against Arnold in mainstream political circles. That's good. Watching Fox News and reading the Drudge Report, it appears that conservatives want Democrats to smear Arnold so they can exploit the vitriol to their advantage. Again, Democrats can't make this race personal. It needs to be about Arnold's lack of experience and depth on the issues. If voters want experience and depth, they'll have to look elsewhere.
Friday, August 15, 2003
Friends of the Earth: New EPA Head Leavitt "moderate sounding wolf in sheep's clothing"
From wilderness to wetlands, Leavitt has routinely fought for corporate interests at the expense of our environment. He recently cut a backroom deal with the Interior Department that will open millions of acres of Utah wilderness to drilling, mining and off-road vehicle use. He entered another secret settlement that will open wilderness areas, national parks and other public lands to roadbuilding. And he supports the notorious Legacy Highway, which will devastate wetlands near Utah's great Salt Lake.
Governor Leavitt is a moderate sounding wolf in sheep's clothing. He's mastered the rhetoric of "balance" and "cooperation," but in the Bush administration those are code words for more mining, drilling and pollution. Judging by his record, Leavitt should fit right in with this approach.
The thing to remember is it doesn't matter if Leavitt is moderate or right-of-center, which is what the fair and balanced RNC spin-doctors will say. It doesn't matter because the EPA doesn't control the EPA. The White House controls the EPA. A regular reader of this site – and indeed, any news source – will note that the White House has constantlysubverted the ideas and policy proposals of the moderate and lefty-bureaucrats (if there are any left) in the EPA in favor of oil and energy advocates. So it doesn't matter what Leavitt did in the past, if he can't do anything in the future. Remember that Whitman was quite moderate on environment issues as well, and look how far that got her.
Michael Moore: Clark "Quite Good on All the Issues"
The reforming Green Party supporter says former NATO General Wesley Clark is a-OK
I would love to see this. There's a four-star general . . . he used to be the commander of NATO. His name is Wesley Clark. He was a Rhodes
scholar. He's a Democrat. He would repeal the Bush tax cut for the
rich. He submitted a brief in support of affirmative action to the
Supreme Court. He's pro-choice. I could go down the list, and he's
actually quite good on all the issues -- and he's a general. I would
just love to see the debate between the general and the deserter.
(Applause.) So if the Democrats really wanted to win, they should
run somebody who could win -- and that would be an interesting race."
I wouldn't be promoting Clark on this blog if I felt he wasn't progressive on most of the issues. I haven't seen anything to indicate that he's not progressive. Gays in the military OK? Most politicians won't touch that issue. The only thing that scares some people is Clark doesn't belong to the Democratic Party. But should that really matter? Most of the political science studies I've seen show voters are increasingly apolitical, so Clark's lack of political identification isn't that unusual.
You can make a case that if you're running for the nomination of a party then you should actually belong to that party. Still, the Democratic Party has always prided itself on being an open-tent party, so it should welcome Clark if he wants to run.
Oh yeah, Fair and Balanced.
Update: More idle Clark speculation, this time from Newsweek.
Fair and Balanced Recall Costs
Few million here, another million there, the recall costará mucho dinero. Hey, it's not like California's in budget trouble or something. Hyuk hyuk hyuk.
Appearing before a small corral of park workers and volunteers, Bush reported advances on his 2000 campaign promise to spend nearly $5 billion over five years on sprucing up national parks - what he called ``the crown jewel of America's recreation system.''
Non-partisan conservation groups were not impressed.
On Friday, Thomas C. Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association, said Bush's stop was ``little more than a photo opportunity, offering spin over substance.'' Even though some projects have been completed, he said, the overall backlog is largely unchanged.
``The administration has supplied little new funding, mostly shuffling existing park dollars already stretched too thin,'' Kiernan said.
Maybe next they'll take away fair and balanced coffee break privileges. The Statesman.
Al Franken Isn't a Fair and Balanced Ass
He didn't do anything about this book:
In fact, Al welcomed the publication.
MSNBC Bumps Ventura
The other fair and balanced network will give Jon Abrams, not Jesse Ventura, the MSNBC primetime slot. The Jesse Ventura Show will instead air on Saturday where, if it draws more than ten viewers, will have a bigger audience than Scarborough Country.
Miller Can Dish It But Can He Take It?
If Greg Beato's source over at the fair and balanced Lafftracker is correct then the answer is no.
A staffer at the L.A. Times tells me that when he requested an interview with Dennis Miller regarding his recent emergence as the It Boy of conservative comedy, Miller's people declined. The reason given: Miller had read some of the staffer's past work, and deemed him "mean."
I guess that's why Miller runs to the safety of Alan Colmes.
We have 148,00 troops in Iraq in 127 degree heat who are in danger of losing their lives everyday and the Pentagon is talking about cutting their pay. The Bush Administration says they just can't afford it. Well if they can't afford to pay our soldiers in harm's way and support the families they left behind, then they better get their priorities straight. If they can't afford to keep faith with our soldiers then their priorities are wrong for America. The Bush Administration questions the patriotism of those who ask questions about how you win a war, but I know no deeper violation of patriotism than dishonoring those who wear the uniform of our nation and breaking our promises to our soldiers.
Update: Some fair and balanced commentor noted I forgot to add fair and balanced.
Lowe Joins Arnold
Actor Rob Lowe will join Democrats Warren Buffet and Bonnie Reiss in assisting the Terminator's run for gov, the LA Times reports in a fair and balanced manner.
Happy Fair and Balanced Day!
Fair and balanced. Fair and balanced? Fair and balanced and fair and balanced. Fair balanced:
Fox News Channel does not hold a monopoly on reaching conservative viewers, according to a report from ad agency Carat USA based on Mediamark Research's MRI reports. According to Carat, while Fox indexes at 122 -- against a par of 100 -- for viewers who term themselves "very conservative," CNN is also above average at 105. Moreover, CNN actually reaches more "very conservative" people in a week than Fox, with 37% of those respondents reporting they watch CNN compared to 32% for Fox. While Fox's average viewership is substantially higher than CNN's, the latter actually attracts more viewers, but for a much shorter tune-in time. The study suggests that these conservative viewers are still tuning to CNN to get the latest news, but not remaining for prolonged periods.
Dean Leads in National Poll
For the first time, Howard Dean leads the field in a national poll. The Time, Newsweek and USNews covers didn't hurt.
"Al Franken has become a crank, a ranting aging demagogue who wound up on the losing side of history and now verbally flails moronically as, with each passing day, his political and intellectual impotence become more obvious ... you are a parasite, Al Franken. All socialists are, for they depend on theft to provide the wealth they then redistribute – with much of it going into their own pockets ... you ultimately are empty and worthless, like the whirlwind."
You may be asking yourself, "Well, what's Ponte's evidence?" It's this: Franken played a communist in a SNL sketch and made a joke about the communist party in another. "Transcripts of those skits, which reveal Franken's deepest core values, can be hard to find. A synopsis of one that aired October 21, 1978, during the show's fourth season, reads: "Franken and Davis are International Communist revolutionaries, calling for the overthrow of the U.S. gov't – they act out the campaign of two corrupt nominees for congress." ... In another, the transcript of a 1978-aired "Saturday Night Live" skit co-authored and approved by Franken includes this inserted message by an announcer: "'The Franken & Davis Show' is brought to you by the International Communist Party: Sooner or later, you'll be a Communist. And now…here's Al & Tom"."
That's right. No mention of Franken's issue positions or political statements. Instead, Ponte points to the fact that Al Franken, as an actor on SNL, played a communist. After all, in the late 1970s, making references to communism was just unheard of. Gee. I fear for what Lowell Ponte thinks about Ralph Fiennes. And if we go by Ponte's rationale, here are some really bad people from SNL:
Chris Kattan – Played gay Hitler in several sketches
Gary Kroeger – Played a nazi in sketch
Colin Quinn – Played a Nazi in sketch
Really, is Ponte serious? Is he absolutely serious? I honestly don't know.
The most telling statement about Franken from the article is this: "The book that may reveal the most about Franken's psyche is Why Not Me? The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency. Like many who live by making jokes, Franken thinks he is smarter than those elected to govern the United States." Uhhhh ... no. If Ponte had actually read the book, he would have noted that the Franken Presidency was a complete disaster. Franken does not think "he is smarter than those elected to govern the United States." It's quite the opposite: Franken, through parody and satire, shows how being an elected official is actually a tough and admirable job (if done correctly, like Clinton did). The more transparent moral of the story is that Franken should never be elected president. Franken made fun of himself. But then, if you only read the book's publisher description (like Ponte) you wouldn't know that. Is this what modern conservative thought has come to? Ad-hominem attacks and reviews of never-read books?
Law Enforcement Officials: Bush Administration Misleading Public re: Missile Plot
How significant is the recent arrest of accused arms dealer Hemant Lakhani? According to law enforcement officials - not exactly partisan sources - not very significant at all.
Economist: Worst Economic Policy in 200 Years
Hey, what does he know? He's just a Nobel laureate, whatever that is.
"There may be some improvement in short-term economic growth next year - but that misses the main argument that we have had a lot of sustained job loss that we could have avoided if we had much better targeted stimulus ... the policy that was implemented has put us in an absolutely dreadful fix for the longer term," said Laura Tyson, former chairman of the Clinton Council of Economic Advisors.
Professor George Akerlof, the 2001 Nobel Prize winner and professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, said that the debate over the Bush economic policy "has so far been much too polite."
"The proper reference point is that the Bush fiscal policy is the worst policy in 200 years," Akerlof said.
I always love a good cat-fight. This Franken-Fox fight, though, isn't a good catfight. A good catfight doesn't have one side (Franken) winning no matter what the outcome. TV critic Brian Lambert laughs at Fox calling Franken "shrill" and lacking in "serious depth." Have the Fox News lawyers ever watched the Fox News Channel? Joe Conason wonders why Fox is giving out free PR. And Franken's agent called the network "stupid as bedposts."
When Freepers Attack
The patriotic Right is damn patriotic. That is, only when you conform to their narrow views of the world. Note the following FreeRepublic.com criticisms / jabs at General Wesley Clark:
zing! "General Wesley Clark is a COMMUNIST ... Some advice, General Clark: If you intend to pursue your run for the Vice Presidential nomination it might be advisable to refrain from citing portions of The Communist Manifesto as part of the founding principles of our country." zing! "Clark is the shovel man in the weazel parade." zing! "The fact that he was a Nato commander during the clintoon years sends the alerts up. He is a cold calculating b*st*rd. He likes that title.
His supposed troops used to get sidetracked easily by sign switching
." zing! "I'm sure you know that Clark is the typical, ticket-punching type, Pentagon kiss-ass that cost us a war 25 years ago."
Yeep, Clark cost us a war. Clark was, after all, wounded four times fighting the Viet Cong. And we all know winners don't get wounded.
Campaign Wants U.S. Troops Home From Iraq
Damn liberals. Oh wait, they're military families. Uh ... did they not get the "Patriot = GWBush Supporter" memo? Because I can send it to them. It has color pictures and everything ...
Does Davis Know He's Doomed?
Before elected officials leave office, they often undertake a flurry of activities, e.g. Clinton's last minute executive orders. The AP notes that Gray Davis is acting like a pol who has seen his last days. Davis is cranking up judicial nominations:
After not filling a judicial vacancy in months, Gov. Gray Davis began churning them out the day the election to recall him was certified, records show.
Davis has appointed 15 judges since July 23, the day the secretary of state announced the recall question would go to voters. The appointments, along with one other made two days before the special election became official, were the governor's first since April 3.
Davis, a Democrat, named another three judges Tuesday, a prelude to what legal experts speculate is the governor's drive to fill all remaining judicial vacancies before the Oct. 7 recall vote.
The rumor is Davis will resign. For now, such talk is only speculation.
55% of Americans think the economy has deteriorated in just the past two years, and there is particular alarm over the job market. Two thirds think the job market has gotten worse since then.
In addition, 44% are concerned that they or someone in their household will lose their job in the next year.
At the same time, most Americans seem personally to be treading water financially; 65% say their finances are about the same or better than they were two years ago. But a third are worse off now.
Most Americans blame Bush for the economy.
Bush receives more blame than credit for the current economy when the questions are asked separately to people who hold different views about the direction of the economy. Among those who think the economy is on the upswing, 37% give him lot of credit for its recovery. But among those who think the economy is getting worse, 56% place a lot of blame on Bush and his policies.
Part of the problem may be that most of the public thinks Bush's attention is not focused enough on the problem. 25% think the president is paying enough attention to the economy, while nearly three times as many -- 70% -- think he is not.
I'm so out of touch with America that today I ate a Cheeseburger with NO CHEESE. Top that, John Kerry.
DraftWesleyClark.com to Run TV Ad
In anticipation of Clark's rumored Labor Day presidential announcement, the draft site has unveiled a new television ad. If you're a voter turned-on by national security issues, and military service (in other words, a significant majority of the country), you'll love this ad. Impressive. Now if we could only do a side-by-side comparison with AWOLBush's record.
David Beckman, director of the council's coastal water quality project, said better monitoring may be responsible in part for the overall rise in closures over the last decade, but he said more needs to be done.
"Californians are still swimming in dirty water," he said. "Most local authorities are not doing enough to identify and control the pollution contaminating our beach water."
Most of the water samples tested for bacteria, which generally comes from fecal matter, but the report said the specific sources of the bacteria were unknown in more than 75 percent of the closings.
California has taken steps to reduce ocean health risks, including a 2001 initiative providing $20m to improve storm drains and increase public awareness. However, in a state as big as California, guess how far $20m goes.
Headline about Charles Taylor leaving his Liberia post: "Charles Not in Charge." Haha ... Ohhhh, Charles Taylor, not in charge of our days and our nights. Not in charge of our wrongs and our rights. Sigh.
Military Families to Speak Out Re: Iraq Deployment
Military Deployments in Iraq
Military Families Speak Out
Nancy Lessin , Military Families Speak Out
Charley Richardson , Military Families Speak Out
Crap, John Kerry can't be president now. I mean, eating cheesesteak with Swiss cheese? We're talking about a serious issue with voters here.
"It will doom his candidacy in Philadelphia," predicted Craig LaBan, food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which broke the Sandwich Scandal. After all, Philly cheesesteaks come with Cheez Whiz, or occasionally American or provolone. But Swiss cheese? "In Philadelphia, that's an alternative lifestyle," LaBan explained.
And don't even mention Kerry's dainty bites. "Obviously, Kerry's a high-class candidate, and he misread the etiquette," LaBan said. "Throwing fistfuls of steak into the gaping maw, fingers dripping -- that's the proper way."
A03 of the Washington Post? What liberal media indeed.
O'Reilly Lobbied for Lawsuit
According to DRUDGE, O'Reilly Lobbied for Lawsuit. Previously, O'Reilly said he wanted to shoot Franken ("Now he's a much smaller target than I am, about 4'11, but he's wider and it would have been, you know, Clint Eastwood time, you know, I would have the cheroot, the serape, woulda given my squint, and I woulda put a bullet right between his head." O'Reilly Radio Show, June 1, 2003). Gee, the two times Franken sparred with O'Reilly, it's led to HUGE book sales. Maybe Franken and Bill are pulling an Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler. Wouldn't that be clever.
cable rates have skyrocketed; service levels have declined; industry consolidation has increased enormously; cable continues to deny competitors access to critical programming; wireline competition is virtually non-existent; and the industry now dominates the broadband Internet market, giving it enormous and unregulated influence over America's digital future.
"Since deregulation seven years ago, the cable industry has price-gouged consumers by raising its prices more than 50 percent," said Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG consumer program director, "Congress promised that deregulation would bring competition and lower prices. Instead, the industry has raised prices and used anti-competitive practices to prevent consumers in nearly every market from having a choice of cable providers, a choice that would lower their rates and improve their terrible service."
The solution, according to Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America, is "for Congress to move decision making out of Washington, return authority to local communities, and give consumers real choices. In Washington, the FCC has simply lost touch with reality." The report also offers the following recommendations:
"Congress must empower state public utility commissions (PUC) to regulate all cable rates and charges for video services until meaningful competition emerges and also return largely-diminished authority to local communities and their franchising authorities to protect consumers from the industry's worst abuses."
"Introduce an à la carte programming requirement to expand consumer choices."
"Ensure access to vital programming by preventing the cable companies from their anti-competitive practices of locking up must-have programming, such as sports and other regional channels."
"Empower viewers by putting a citizen board member on every large (greater than four percent of cable households) cable company's board and by requiring as a condition of franchise renewal that cable operators include billing inserts that invite consumers to join a local Cable Action Group that would operate a local Audience Channel, well-funded and equipped by the cable company."
Arnold Met with Prominent Republicans, Including Ken Lay
What California voters may no longer remember, however, is that after the third wave of rolling blackouts hit their state, Kenny Boy quietly summoned a select group to the Beverly Hills Hotel on May 11, 2001. And they may also have forgotten that one of the prominent Republicans who showed up at Lay's request was Arnold Schwarzenegger.
On June 21, 2001, the Associated Press reported that "Lay met secretly with California Republicans at the Beverly Hills Hotel and pushed a plan that called for ratepayers to pay the billions in debt racked up by the state's public utilities. The plan contended that federal investigations of price gouging are hindering the situation." According to William Bradley, the L.A. Weekly's sharp political columnist who wrote about Enron for the American Prospect, the meeting revolved around Lay's plans to "preserve deregulation" in California. The L.A. Times noted that Lay was seeking the support of Schwarzenegger and the other GOP luminaries for even greater deregulation. Apparently Lay wanted help in saving a lousy system, squeezing the unfortunate Californians even more, and avoiding accountability for their plight.
Is the Franken Lawsuit Legitimate?
All this giggling over the sales of Al's book may have distracted from the real issue of whether or not the lawsuit is valid. From CNN's Live from the Headlines:
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. You can trademark a phrase. "The New York Times" all the news that's fit to print, Coke, it's the real thing, I mean there are lots of phrases that are trademarked but you don't get sole and exclusive use of a trademark when you trademark something. A trademark is a limited right and other people can use the words under a lot of circumstances.
BLITZER: But in this kind of a case, the FOX lawyers looked at the cover. They see Bill O'Reilly's picture. They see the words "fair and balanced." Could that confuse the public out there into thinking this is a book that has the sanction, the authority of the FOX News Channel?
TOOBIN: You know I don't think the public is quite that stupid. I mean here you have a book that is obviously an attack on FOX News. There is no conceivable way that I think anyone could be confused into thinking this is an authorized FOX News product and that is the whole reason for trademarks to have a -- so that people aren't confused. No one could be confused by this.
Price of Oil: More Soldiers Fall Victim to Mysterious Illness
Two more soldiers overseas have come down with serious pneumonia, bringing the unexplained cases to 17, the U.S. Army said Monday.
Officials are investigating the cause of some 100 cases counted since March, focusing on a number of them so serious the patients had to be put on ventilators and flown to Europe.
The number of serious cases was 15 last week and now has risen to 17, said a statement Monday from the Army surgeon-general's office.
The statement said officials have found "no infectious agent common to all of the cases," and no evidence the patients were exposed to biological or chemical weapons, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), or environmental toxins.
Officials said last week that cases were among troops serving in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, with 10 of the then-15 cases from Iraq and the others from Uzbekistan, Qatar and elsewhere. Monday's statement didn't say where the new cases happened, and no one was available to comment.
You'll remember that there were similar cases (thousands) from the first Gulf War and those are still unsolved.
8,000 Doctors: We Need National Health Insurance Now!
Following the 9 Democratic candidates, nearly 8,000 U.S. physicians are calling for government-financed national health insurance. Such a plan, according to the doctors, would save Americans billions.
They contend that work in Congress to enact a prescription drug benefit for the elderly and disabled would shift more government money to private companies while offering little value to consumers.
The doctors would put in place a single-payer system -- essentially an upgraded and expanded version of Medicare, the government health care program for the elderly and disabled.
"HMOs, launched as health care's bright hope, have raised Medicare costs by billions and fallen to the basement of public esteem. Investor-owned hospital chains, born of the promise of efficiency, have been wracked by scandal," the doctors write. "And drug firms, which have secured the highest profits and lowest taxes of any industry, price drugs out of reach of those who need them most."
In the strongest signal yet that retired US Army General Wesley K. Clark, the former NATO commander, is planning to join the Democratic presidential race, Clark told volunteers last week to step up their efforts and prepare for an announcement on Labor Day ...
Clark has begun to showcase his political instincts. Last week, in an interview with National Public Radio, he called Bush's decision to invade Iraq without international support "one of the greatest strategic blunders the American government has made since the end of the Cold War."
He has also moved beyond the realm of national security. Speaking on CNN, he recently blasted the Bush tax cuts, saying the growing deficit means "that the federal government can't do the kinds of things for America that Americans expect it to do. . . . That's things like taking care of our retirement security and Social Security."
The Progressive Case For and Against Dean
Howard Dean is not a liberal, per se. He's a left-of-center Democrat from Vermont. Still, should that matter? Isn't Howard Dean what Democrats, of all ideologies, need to be? Tough, smart, and concise? Two opinions, pro and con, about whether or not progressives should support Dean. I use one issue, the environment, as a starting point:
Dean's Vermont "has one of the most progressive environmental programmes in America" according to the London Times. As former Vermont radio and television talk show host Jeff Kaufman points out, "During his decade in office, Governor Dean helped protect more land from development than all previous governors combined; ... he administered a 'best practices' agriculture plan that preserves land and water quality; he helped form the nation's first statewide energy efficiency utility (preventing more than one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions since 2000); and he championed a commuter rail system to lower traffic congestion and pollution while diminishing urban sprawl (in its last report on sprawl, the Sierra Club ranked Vermont as the second best state in America for land use planning)." Vermont also followed California's lead in establishing regulations on greenhouse gas emissions that go beyond standards set in the Kyoto Protocol. According to the New York Times, Dean "is calling for the auto industry to build cars that get 40 miles per gallon by 2015 and for 20 percent of the nation's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. ...
Dean's record, however, shows just the opposite. Remember, when Dean took office there were no Wal-Marts in Vermont; there was no Home Depots; Burlington's downtown was dominated by local stores not the national chains that now rule the roost; there were 36% more small farmers in existence; there were no 100,000-hen mega-farms; and sprawl wasn't a word on the tip of everyone's tongue.
Interestingly, Dean told the Free Press last week that he wished the rest of "the country were more like Vermont." But it certainly seems Dean has been doing his best to make Vermont more like the rest of the country.
Stephanie Kaplan, a leading environmental lawyer and the former executive officer of Vermont's Environmental Board, has seen the regulatory process under Dean become so slanted against environmentalists and concerned citizens that she hardly thinks its worth putting up a fight anymore.
Bush's Pawns: SGT Major Writes That Quality of Life Suffering and Infrastructure in "Bad Shape with Limited Funds"
It's not where it should be. Too many deployments coupled with a shortage of personnel makes everyone work harder. The
infrastructure at most Army installations is in bad shape with limited funds to fix problems, no money to make improvements and sometimes needed services are delayed or cancelled. My Commander reminds all of us leaders that we enlist soldiers, but we almost always reenlist families. If we don't provide what the families need or mom and dad are never there they look for a different lifestyle.
What a farce this turned out to be. Tri-Care and Delta Dental don't meet the needs and don't even come close to what was promised to most soldiers and families. Once again, an implied promise that has been broken. Young soldiers at FT Campbell come in
contact with retirees every day and the retirees let them know if you stay to retirement you will be treated like a 3d class citizen, you can't count on any commitments or promises made and the truth will always change to meet current popular politics. I don't think the retirees mean any harm but they are frustrated and disillusioned. After attending my retirement brief I can honestly say I
don't blame them. I just choose to say nothing to my soldiers.
I'm sure these guys sleep well at night while US soldiers die for their interests.
Progressive Ideas Everywhere?
When politicians run for elected office, it's common to take positions that are in-sync with the public. As Jim Hightower notes in TomPaine.com and his upcoming book, politicians may want to consider progressive ideas. After all, the general public is actually quite progressive on many issues.
67 percent would prefer to have more spending on such needs as education and health care than to have Bush's latest tax cut. (ABC/Washington Post). By a two to one margin, the public thinks that Bush's tax plan will benefit the wealthy, not all Americans (NBC/Wall Street Journal). If there's to be a tax cut, 58 percent think it should be targeted to middle-income and low-income folks, while 40 percent think taxes should be cut equally for all income brackets -- I'm not great at math, but I think that leaves only 2 percent thinking it's a good idea to target tax cuts for the rich, as Bush is doing (Pew Research Center).
Speaking of Social Security, should this trust fund's surplus be spent for domestic programs, including tax cuts, as George is doing? Good God Almighty, NO! shout 79 percent of the people -- and 78 percent of Republicans say the same thing (CBS News). What about using the surplus for "national defense and homeland security," asks a wrapped-in-the-flag poll: Nyet, uh-uh, no, go away, say 77 percent of the public (CNN/USA Today) ...
64 percent say it's the federal government's responsibility to make sure all Americans are covered (Gallup).
More than half say government should create a plan to cover everyone even if it requires a tax increase (Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation).
The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board has traditionally opposed government meddling in private lives; obstacles to strong families; and unequal protection under the law. State and national "marriage defense" measures deserve defeat on all those counts.
But it's important to do more than simply oppose legislation that would inflict these wrongs on a minority. Denying gay couples the right to marry condemns them to second-class citizenship and discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. This is plainly wrong.
If gay couples want to try marriage, bring 'em on. Maybe by applying a queer eye to the straight marriage, we can still save this essential but fading rite from history's dustbin. Given the zeal with which some gay couples are pursuing the right to marry, they may set a new standard for commitment.
The Hamster: Fair and Balanced
I'm taking Eschaton's example and changing the slogan of The Hamster to "fair and balanced." Hope Atrios doesn't sue me.
Monday, August 11, 2003
Fox Hired Guns Attack Franken: "Not a well-respected voice," "shrill and unstable," "parasite," "either intoxicated or deranged"
Fox News is helping sell Al's new book. From the NY Times Fox is suing Al Franken for parodying its precious "fair and balanced" slogan in his book:
Fox News Channel has sued liberal humorist Al Franken and the Penguin Group to stop them from using the phrase ''fair and balanced'' in the title of his upcoming book.
Filed Monday in Manhattan, the trademark infringement lawsuit seeks a court order forcing a Penguin publisher, Dutton books, to rename the book, ''Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.'' It also asks for unspecified damages.
Fox News registered ''Fair & Balanced'' as a trademark in 1995, the suit says.
Franken's ''intent is clear to exploit Fox News' trademark, confuse the public as to the origins of the book and, accordingly, boost sales of the book,'' the suit said.
Dutton spokeswoman Lisa Johnson accused Fox News' parent company, News Corp., of trying to suppress the book.
''The attempt to keep the public from reading Franken's message is un-American,'' she said.
I'm not sure why Fox is doing this. 1) Franken's book is political satire / commentary. A significant portion of the book is aimed at - and makes fun of - Fox and its use of the "fair and balanced" slogan. I asked Al if he was going to parody Fox and he said, "Well, I'm using 'A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right' in my book title." It's obviously a parody. 2) This is free publicity. How will PR people use this to sell Al's book? Here's an example:
You can piss off Fox News by pre-ordering Al's book today.
Leavitt said he would seek consensus when tackling environmental issues that often ignite passions and strong disagreement in Washington.
"There is no progress polarizing at the extremes but great progress when we collaborate in the middle," he said, promising to improve the nation's air quality. "I'll leave it a better place than I found it. ... I'll give it my all."
Leavitt said he shares Bush's enthusiasm for technological approaches for improving the environment but also recognizes that with environmental matters there is often "an economic imperative that we're dealing with in the global economy and that's to do it less expensively."
Lawson LeGate, Southwest senior representative for the Sierra Club, called it the ''no more wilderness deal'' and said he thinks more of the same is in store if federal lawmakers confirm Leavitt as EPA administrator.
LeGate says Leavitt is a perfect fit for the important post in the Bush administration - and he doesn't consider that to be a compliment. The EPA administrator ought to be a staunch advocate for wilderness protection, LeGate says, but he sees in Leavitt someone who's too willing to cut deals on issues like road building and oil and gas drilling on federal lands.
''He patterns himself as a guy in the middle, when in fact he has an agenda that is all too often against protecting the environment,'' he said.
Larry Young of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance echoed that thought.
''It raises real red flags,'' he said of the appointment. ''I'd admonish the public to look at his record. Pay a lot more attention to his actions than the words.''
Perhaps realizing there was no support for a potential presidential bid, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware has decided not to run for president.
The Davis Defense; Bustamante Strong
This appears to be the strategy Davis is going to use against the recall effort. From the AP:
Davis said in an interview broadcast Monday that the effort to recall him was an insult to those who voted last year.
"I don't like this but I am trying to suppress those negative feelings and channel my energies into doing something positive for the people I work for, the people of this great state," Davis said on NBC's "Today" show.
In other words, the subversion of Democracy argument.
Bustamante is surprisingly close to Schwarzenegger given the Terminator's near-100% name recognition. 23% said they had not heard of Bustamante.
The fact that Arnold chose Jay Leno to announce the start of his campaign shows how little Arnold knows about the issues - or at least wants to be questioned on the issues. If I were Arnold, I'd avoid as many debates as possible.
No, I don't think it transcends that. The media are going to pile on him. I think the media have a sheep-like mentality. The political press in California have been very, very lazy in recent years. They did not cover the budget disaster last year. If you look at the coverage, you cannot find any real in-depth coverage. They have a guilt complex about what's going on, and they are going to do a big pile-on on Schwarzenegger, because he is the front-runner. That's how they handle front runners, and they have their guilt to bring into it, so they're going to be -- I predict a lot of bias and a serious attack on everything -- every little bobble that he does they are going to go after it big time. It's going to be a media pile-on.
Will the media rough-up Arnold? If you've ever watched a California local news broadcast, you know the answer ... It's like the farm leagues for E!
Now This is Ludacris
Ludacris will seek revenge in his own way after Bill O'Reilly forced Pepsi to drop its ad campaign with the rapper.
Chicken and Beer, the title of his fourth upcoming album will be angled more so as a party album featuring production by various unknown producers but will also feature lyrics that will retaliate against O'Reilly and his past position that cost Ludacris his Pepsi deal.
"You're gonna have to wait and see," Ludacris teases about the lyrical barbs directed towards O'Reilly. "[But] the dude is a complete asshole."
As you may have remembered last year, news commentator Bill O'Reilly viewed Ludacris as being contradictory to the image that Pepsi was trying to make by allowing an artist who uses profanity and explicit lyrics to do a pepsi commercial. Upon the harsh criticism, Russell Simmons enacted a boycott against the Pepsi company which encouraged the hip-hop community to protest the Pepsi for having double standards by not allowing Ludacris to do a commercial, but allowing one of the Osbournes to do a Pepsi commercial although the Osbournes have also been known to use explicit language.
One thing I don't worry about is that his lefty base doesn't know what he stands for, and will bolt when they realize he's a moderate. His base knows exactly how moderate he is. I interviewed dozens of his liberal devotees, and they all know the not-so-liberal aspects of his record. Someone at the Meetup lamented his staunch pro-Israel stance; several people I met said they differed with him on the death penalty. Brilliant says he has issues with Dean on all of his more conservative stands. "But he's not afraid to say what he thinks. Dean asks the fundamentally sound questions and does not have an ideological answer that trumps reason, as Bush does."
Still, Dean's summer surge could mean nothing come January. The biggest question about him is whether the darling of San Francisco and the frontrunner in Iowa and New Hampshire will have any appeal in the South. It's hard to imagine that a Northeastern antiwar candidate who's best known for signing a gay civil unions bill will play well in that crucial region. But two months ago, it was hard to imagine Dean moving into the lead in the early primary states or taking the Time and Newsweek covers by storm. We still don't know if he's George McGovern or Jimmy Carter, but he's earned serious political attention and respect. Finally, he's got mine.
"Yesterday, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he would run for governor of California. The announcement was good news for Florida residents who now live in the second flakiest state in the country. Apparently Arnold was inspired by President Bush, who proved you can be a successful politician in this country even if English is your second language." —Conan O'Brien
"They're saying Arnold will get 95% of the vote. At least according to his brother, Jeb Schwarzenegger." —Craig Kilborn
"Arnold Schwarzenegger running for governor of California, pretty exciting. I missed the whole thing. The one night I forget to watch Leno and this happens." —David Letterman
"Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman took a shot at frontrunner Howard Dean. He said Howard Dean is a ticket to nowhere. So at least Lieberman will have someone to ride with now." —Jay Leno
"Disgraced Ohio congressman James Trafficant is forming a committee to explore the possibility of running for president from prison. His number one priority — outlawing sodomy again." —Jay Leno
Visit Ann Coulter's "Movie Nook"
Jerome Armstrong at MyDD won't be blogging until the 2004 general elections. Bummer.
Wilson: "Laws were broken" in Outting Wife
Ambassador Joseph Wilson was a critic of the Bush administration's unilateral war with Iraq. After he spoke out, his wife - a CIA undercover operative - was "outed" by unnamed senior officials in the White House. Even the mafia knows you don't go after someone's family.
Wilson says it's because he spoke openly and honestly about the rationale for the war in Iraq, and in doing so made trouble for the president. He thinks he was slapped, hard, as a warning to others in government who might contemplate doing the same.
"It wasn't done to intimidate me; I had already told my story," he said. "But it's pretty clear it is intended to intimidate others who might come forward." ...
"But," Wilson said, "hypothetically, I will say that if what Novak asserts is true, then laws were broken. And if it's true, they (the administration) took off the board an important national security asset (Plame) in order to protect some yo-yo's political concerns."
He said he believes that political operatives in the White House gave his wife's name to Novak, and he thinks he knows who they are. But he's "not ready, yet" to name them. He hopes an investigation - by the FBI, Congress or both - will take care of that.
Bob Novak putting political points ahead of national security? This is the same guy who said on Crossfire (July 25, 2003) that hosting a TV talk show is worse than selling oil equipment to Saddam:
BEGALA: But is it -- is it -- which is a bigger disgrace? Bob Novak, which is a bigger disgrace, hosting a sleazy TV show or selling oil equipment to Saddam Hussein to enrich him?
Only lawyers and law firms have given more to President Bush than the securities and investment industry – which already has donated nearly $2 million in "hard money" contributions. Twelve of the top 20 companies contributing to the campaign are from the finance sector, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Leading the way is Merrill Lynch, whose employees and their immediate families donated $240,675 as of June 30 – a figure that exceeds the amount given by any single company to Bush during the entire 2000 campaign.
Despite public anger over Wall Street scandals, Bush has been eager to give wayward firms a slap on the wrist, declare the reform effort complete, and get back to business as usual. While pledging to crack down on corporate corruption, Bush relentlessly has pursued policies that promise to line Wall Street's pockets. And the biggest beneficiaries of the tax cuts will include Wall Street CEOs themselves.
Will California Dems Commit Suicide?
It'll happen if Dems and the Left launch a dirty campaign against Arnold. Josh Benson in The New Republic correctly notes:
If nothing else, Schwarzenegger's candidacy is dangerous for the simple reason that, for the first time in a while, a GOP candidate has found advisers who know what they're doing. Schwarzenegger has inherited the team of former Governor Pete Wilson, the only Republican to win a top-of-the-ticket race in California in the 1990s. The team is full of smart veterans who hate the drift of the California GOP toward suicidal social conservatism.
Yet amid all this--and barely a day into the Schwarzenegger candidacy--the Davis camp seems to be preparing to remind voters ... why they hate Davis so much. CNBC reported last night that Democratic operatives are "privately gleeful" about the chance to unleash nuclear war on the Terminator who, as a newly minted political figure, can be "libeled" much more easily.
Like most celebrities, Schwarzenegger surely has a past; plenty of tabloid reports about his womanizing, harassment, and lawsuits already abound. But the California electorate is sick of slanderous personal politics--sick of Davis politics. In March, an LA Times poll found that over 60 percent of Californians held an unfavorable view of Davis, and 40 percent "dislike Davis as a person." Even top Democrats are tired of him. Attorney General Bill Lockyer recently vowed to "help pull the plug" on Davis if he runs yet another "trashy campaign." And even if the negative strategy doesn't backfire on Davis, it might not have any effect on Schwarzenegger. Star power, charm, and a 60-day election cycle will all help to keep the mud from sticking.
Through emails and chatrooms a picture is emerging of day-to-day gripes, coupled with ferocious criticism of the way the war has been handled. They paint a vivid picture of US army life that is a world away from the sanitised official version.
In a message posted on a website last week, one soldier was brutally frank. 'Somewhere down the line, we became an occupation force in [Iraqi] eyes. We don't feel like heroes any more,' said Private Isaac Kindblade of the 671st Engineer Company.
Kindblade said morale was poor, and he attacked the leadership back home. 'The rules of engagement are crippling. We are outnumbered. We are exhausted. We are in over our heads. The President says, "Bring 'em on." The generals say we don't need more troops. Well, they're not over here,' he wrote.
One of the main outlets for the soldiers' complaints has been a website run by outspoken former soldier David Hackworth, who was the army's youngest colonel in the Vietnam war and one of its most decorated warriors. He receives almost 500 emails a day, many of them from soldiers serving in Iraq. They have sounded off about everything from bad treatment at the hands of their officers to fears that their equipment is faulty.
But when hundreds of people showed up with detailed questions, her tight schedule didn't allow detailed answers, and a frustrated crowd turned angry, booing the congresswoman several times ... The crowd's mood already was testy before the meeting began. Security guards and Harris' staff confiscated literature handed out by opponents that included the drug plan's details and a chart of Harris' voting record since she began her term in January.
The fliers were distributed during an earlier news conference staged in the parking lot by senior citizens to protest the Medicare bills.
"This is wrong," said Tony Fransetta, president of the Florida chapter of AARP, as he was asked to hand over fliers.
"We have never been restricted in what we could hand out at other town meetings," Fransetta said. "We have talking points that simply list questions that would help people better understand and articulate their concerns. They have been denied that right."
With action on the living wage stalled in Sacramento, a recently released Field Poll showed that Californians strongly back the idea of boosting the earnings of lower-paid workers on government-financed projects.
The survey found that 70 percent of the respondents in cities or counties that don't have living wage laws are in favor of enacting such measures in their communities ...
"It shows strong support for living wage laws and that people are willing to pay in taxes to support them," O'Keefe said.
Along with the economic impact that living wage measures bring, O'Keefe said, policy-makers must weigh the boost that such laws provide "for real families" against the "fairness in terms of what businesses pay their workers."