The Hamster: May

Saturday, May 31, 11:10pm

permanent link | -Eric.

Reminder, on CSPAN2 at 12am EST Al will be debating O'Reilly on BookTV. Al's new book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, is currently ranked 146 on, and it's only June, 4 months away from its release date. Bodes pretty well for Al. Buy Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them .

There's a discussion going on at my sister site,, about the debate. Here's an interesting post from the message board.

Re: Al Franken exposes the spin in the "no spin zo « Reply #2 on: Today at 00:59:26 »

Now, back to the topic this post started with...the CSPAN-2 - Book TV discussion.

Let me just say;

1.) I have never read a book by Bill O'Reilly or Al Franken...yet.

2.) I have never had any interest in actually watching a full episode of O'Reilly's newscast. This is actually due to the fact that what I have seen of him reminds me of Maury Povich when he was hosting 'A Current Affair'...only with less hair. No insult, just personal opinion. I have only seen Mr. Franken on Saturday Night Live...which I only moderately liked.

3.) For most of my adult life, I have walked the line between Conservative and Liberal. My wife is a liberal, my parents staunch Conservatives. I usually voted for whichever candidate seemed to be the most intelligent. This, of course, was ineffectual during the last it was for most Americans who voted.

(Sorry, this deserves a 'smilie'. Sorry you had to see that. Harsh, I know, but bear with me.)

I just wanted to say, as someone who was not a fan of Mr. Franken's, and is still not a fan of Mr. O'Reilly's, Mr. Franken was definitely the better speaker.

Certainly O'Reilly was placed in an awkward position, there's no denying that. However, the sign of a true intellectual (and a true professional) is the ability to adhere to the basic rules of public speaking, no matter how upsetting the statements given. It's what keeps debates from degrading into fist fights.

O'Reilly interrupted, insulted, and ridiculed Mr. Franken at multiple times during the discussion. He then had the thuggish arrogance to actually interrupt Mr. Franken's closing statements to do nothing but insult him further. That spoke volumes to me.

From what I saw, O'Reilly was nothing more than a hurt thug, trying to save face by childishly insulting the one who hurt him.

I don't mind someone defending themselves. However, when they interrupt a discussion with nothing more than insults that add NOTHING to the conversation, then they've stopped being a participant and have become a TROLL. Just like any of the other numerous trolls lurking around the internet at any given time.

Good job, Mr. Franken. Shame on you, Mr. O'Reilly.
Bill O'Reilly in an environment where he can't cut off the mic of an opposing voice, and instead resorts to childish insults? I have to see this ...

Saturday, May 31, 5:55pm

permanent link | -Eric.

Apparently Al Franken was on CSPAN2's BookTV. Check out this Democratic Underground Forum thread on it. I'm not sure when it'll be repeated, or if it'll be archived, but it appears that Franken stuck it to Bill O'Reilly.

Update: That was quick. This is the time, tentative I'm guessing, that this should be replayed ... check it out.

12:00 am et
Saturday Book and Author Luncheon: Media Talks
BookExpo America
Bill O'Reilly , Fox News Network
Al Franken


Saturday, May 31, 9:09am

permanent link | -Eric.

Powell, like All Reasonable Americans, Had Doubts. Powell had serious doubts over US's Iraqi weapons claims. Guardian exclusive:

Jack Straw and his US counterpart, Colin Powell, privately expressed serious doubts about the quality of intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons programme at the very time they were publicly trumpeting it to get UN support for a war on Iraq, the Guardian has learned.

Their deep concerns about the intelligence - and about claims being made by their political bosses, Tony Blair and George Bush - emerged at a private meeting between the two men shortly before a crucial UN security council session on February 5.

The meeting took place at the Waldorf hotel in New York, where they discussed the growing diplomatic crisis. The exchange about the validity of their respective governments' intelligence reports on Iraq lasted less than 10 minutes, according to a diplomatic source who has read a transcript of the conversation. [SNIP]

But he told Mr Straw he had come away from the meetings "apprehensive" about what he called, at best, circumstantial evidence highly tilted in favour of assessments drawn from them, rather than any actual raw intelligence. Mr Powell told the foreign secretary he hoped the facts, when they came out, would not "explode in their faces".
Powell, like many Americans, trusted the Bush administration when it said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. With nothing found, it appears the Bush administration has betrayed the public's trust. When will the public react as they should, with outrage, to the Bush administration's misdeeds? And when will Powell stand up to the Bush administration for deceiving him?

Saturday, May 31, 6:45am

permanent link | -Eric.

GOP Race Hypocrites. As I mentioned before, GOP are hypocrites when it comes to affirmative action ...

Now let's look at the 2000 convention in Philadelphia. There was a running joke that the GOP was so desperate to show their 'diversity' that they shot pictures of convention workers. The GOP uses affirmative action in their delegate selection process. Though they won't admit it, numbers don't lie.

According to "Politics, Parties and Elections," by John Bibby, 2003, Blacks compose 2 percent of the GOP voting base, yet they represented 4 percent of the GOP delegates in the 2000 convention. 100% more. If you're a Black Republican, are you more likely to be selected as a delegate? Yes. Could this be called affirmative action? Yes.
And now Prof. Jack Bass writes in the NY Times, "How the G.O.P. Created Affirmative Action."

Saturday, May 31, 6:25am

permanent link | -Eric.

Group-think at CNN. Who cares about media conglomeration leading to one view on television? It seems like it's already happening at CNN:


DOBBS: This is quite a week. Did the market rally because of the tax cut -- I'll start with you, Steve.

STEPHEN SHEPARD, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "BUSINESSWEEK": Sure. The answer is, I think yes. I think it's sinking in that this is a very good tax bill for investors. Whatever you think of the long term, the short term is very positive for investors. The capital gains tax cut to 15 percent is a real sleeper here. Everybody focused on the cut in the dividends tax rate, but the capital gains, I think people are realizing is important.

RIK KIRKLAND, MANAGING EDITOR, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Big vote for the tax cut, but also, just continuing decent economic news. I mean, the bad news is mostly lagging stuff like consumer spending down a little bit. The confidence is up. Business spending seems to be coming back. So there are more signs that this recovery is real [SNIP]

FORBES: Well, they overdid it; so now they're under doing it. But I think when they realize that this market rally is real, and investors realize what a boon they got in this tax cut, that will start to restore the animal spirits, and I think later this year, early next year, you'll start to see employment numbers look a little better ... This is one of those situations where confidence is going to follow the economy, follow the market rather than lead it. When people figured, my goodness, there's something positive happening, then I think we're going to see good reactions.

DOBBS: We have seen two strong months of rising consumer confidence ... We're seeing some strong indications that advertising is picking up.
Gee, by watching Lou Dobbs - who donated $1,000 to President Bush in 2000 - you'd think the economy was doing grand and this tax cut benefited all Americans.

Saturday, May 31, 6:12am

permanent link | -Eric.

In journalism circles there are debates about standards and ethics in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal. The real scandal, and the one the media should be asking questions about, is the trend of diluting journalism with smashmouth, loud, Limbaughesque ethics. The lesson incidents like this, and others are conveying (e.g. Fox News) is that truth, ethics, and objectivity doesn't pay; if you want to read or write the news, you should make news yourself. If you want to make a name for yourself, you should try to generate controversy and push the line. It worked for Bill O'Reilly, Mike Savage, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Up and coming journalists will eventually think it'll work for them. Where will that leave journalism in the future? Fox News-style news on every single channel? As has consistently noted, it's slowly getting there.

Friday, May 30, 7:20pm

permanent link | -Eric.

The Left Coaster offers an update on the 9/11 declassification fight ...

As you may know, both the 9/11 Commission chaired by former New Jersey GOP Governor Tom Kean and the 9/11 victims families have been seeking the release of the final report of the joint 9/11 congressional committee from last year. Bob Graham was a major member of that committee. The White House has blocked the release of that report on grounds of national security concerns, the same line they have been using in refusing to release the contacts between Texas DPS and Tom Ridge's DHS on tracking down the Texas Democrats.

Although the White House claims to be concerned about national security in releasing the report, some of the material in the report has already been in the public domain, even on the CIA website. Those watching the case suspect that the White House is most skittish on two points. The first is the information Congress compiled on the Saudis' role in supporting the 9/11 terrorists and the US ties to Saudi Arabia on this point. The second point deals with the details on what exactly was in the now famous August 6, 2001 President's Daily Brief that Bush received from George Tenet and the acting FBI Director at the ranch in Crawford. It was in this briefing where the intelligence agencies gave Bush a specific warning about Al Qaeda using commercial aircraft as weapons against US targets. As a point of information on this second point, it was the Bush White House in the summer of 2001 that changed past practice of having the intel experts from various agencies brief the President on what they had. As a result of the change, Bush only wanted to hear from the FBI and CIA directors, and to keep the circle as small as possible, unlike Clinton who wanted to hear as much as possible from as many as possible.
... more

Friday, May 30, 7:18pm

permanent link | -Eric.

We love our soldiers, but only if they conform to a certain ideology ... NOW notes this about the government's restriction on women soldiers:

At a time when accolades are being extended to U.S. military men and women serving in Iraq and other countries, Congress has chosen to continue the unfair and dangerous ban on abortions at overseas military bases. Both houses rejected amendments last week to the $400 billion defense spending bill that would have repealed that ban—an action that has been repeated virtually every year since 1996 when anti-abortion extremists took majority control of Congress ...

Not content to stop most abortions performed at military hospitals overseas, anti-abortion activists like Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) are reported ready to offer a bill (S. 1104) soon that would require parental consent for any woman under the age of 18 seeking an abortion on a military base in the U.S. Current military policy requires a minor to secure the consent of a parent or guardian before obtaining an abortion—but a minor can only receive an abortion if she is the victim of rape or incest or faces a threat to her life if the pregnancy is continued.

The legislation provides an extremely narrow judicial bypass that does not safeguard confidentiality; therefore, a young woman may be reluctant to seek a judge's approval in lieu of parental consent. Including a parental consent requirement in the statutes will make it less likely that military dependents will seek abortions at military hospitals and instead turn to unsafe local medical facilities.

Finally, the Brownback bill would state that a fetus is an "individual human organism from fertilization until birth." Not only would this redefinition take us one step closer to overturning Roe v. Wade, but calling a fertilized egg a fetus also has onerous legal implications for stem-cell research, in-vitro fertilization and the most common forms of contraception.

Friday, May 30, 7:18pm

permanent link | -Eric.

NOW's Erin Bradrick notes this in her, "What Happened to "No Child Left Behind?" 12 Million Have Been Left Behind!"...

Not only does the new tax cut law deny child tax credit refunds to those low-income families and children most in need of them, but it is also likely to be highly inefficient in boosting the economy in the near future. A vast majority of the approved tax cuts will go to higher-income households, which are much more likely than middle or low-income households to save the money rather than spend it. In addition, the new tax law irresponsibly masks the total cost of the tax cut. Its overall cost could far exceed the Administration's proposed plan, reaching between $800 billion and $1 trillion by 2013. The bill signed into law provides $350 billion in tax cuts over the next two years, but contains many extendable provisions that could increase its overall cost.

Even though the $350 billion is far lower than the more than $700 billion originally pushed by the administration, it still poses serious questions about the government's ability to fund necessary programs in the near future and whether the cuts will stimulate economic growth. This is not the last of the tax cut proposals to be expected from the right wing, anti-government political leadership—their goal is to bleed the government dry, pare back all government spending to support mainly defense and corporate welfare programs and let the market hold sway.

Friday, May 30, 6:46pm

permanent link | -Eric.

That liberal CNN, with that liberal Lou Dobbs, is talking about the Bush tax cuts and its effect on the economy. All four people on the show are saying how the tax cut is great, how it will boast the economy and consumer confidence, and how investors and jobs will pick up because it's a "great plan." Fox News = for conservatives. CNN = for liberals. Is there something wrong with this common perception? And who speaks for the people who don't receive the benefit of the tax cuts? Lou Dobbs, Steve Forbes and the two other suits on the panel have an inherent bias for the Bush tax cuts because they make millions a year. Does anyone honestly expect someone making $20,000-40,000 a year to have his say on television?

Friday, May 30, 6:46am

permanent link | -Eric.

From Scott Davis.

Friday, May 30, 6:41am

permanent link | -Eric.

Alan Bisbort's latest in the Hartford Advocate

It's clear, from perusing this playbook, that Republicans are pretty cocksure they'll be able to fool American voters into thinking they stand for something besides shoveling cash at the obscenely rich, collectively shafting the rest of us, and consolidating more raw unchecked state/corporate power. There's only one problem. Well, several problems. After the recent revelation that George W. Bush is trying to kill the probe into the causes of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, that he lied about the reasons for his war in Iraq, that Saddam, Osama and Mullah are all alive and al Qaeda and the Taliban are stronger than ever, that the American people are less safe and secure now than before 9-11, that the Texas Republican Party (prodded by House Speaker-wannabe Tom Delay) illegally and maliciously used Homeland Security Department staff to track down Democratic state officials and then destroyed the evidence, that the stench from Bush's tax giveback to the rich and his decision to devalue the dollar while in the middle of the biggest deficit in American history is already wafting into voters' nostrils, that EPA Director Christie Whitman's resignation following the departure of Propaganda Minister Ari Fleischer have sent a signal that the Bush steamroller is losing steam, that Bush's aircraft carrier Halloween stunt has only drawn attention to his going AWOL from his own military commitment and, with each viewing of that footage, more are noticing the cartoonish similarity to Michael Dukakis' similar stunt in 1988 (which effectively lost him the election to Poppy Bush), that the idea of a military deserter using the deaths of 3,000 Americans as a backdrop for his party's nominating convention in New York City next September will likely spark the biggest protests of his reign, not to mention reanimate the discussions about his being fit to hold office ... uh, there's a slim chance it could backfire.

Friday, May 30, 6:37am

permanent link | -Eric.

WNYC has a chat with Russell Mokhiber, who - I'll go out on a limb here - wasn't shedding any tears about Ari departing.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Now, I understand that one thing that you particularly object to is how closely Fleischer enforces the policy regarding the conduct of the media at the daily press briefings. Do you try and just sort of disrupt this protocol because you find it too constraining?

RUSSELL MOKHIBER: No, actually he does. There are 8 rows in the press briefing room. And he says that he doesn't want to go out of order. But often when he doesn't like a question that was asked by a reporter from a previous day or previous week, he'll violate his own rule and just skip over the reporter even though the reporter has his or her hand up and wants to ask a question. So there's a number of ways that he can get around a reporter asking a question. One is just to skip over them. Another is to leave the reporter waiting at the gate outside, which has happened to me on many occasions. You know, something's wrong with the computer - you're not being cleared in. And the third way is just to prohibit reporters' access.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: This hasn't happened just to you though, has it, this sort of selective exclusion?

RUSSELL MOKHIBER: Ari knows when the press briefing is being broadcast on CNN and on the major cable networks, so I think often that's when it happens. When the cable networks are on and carrying the event live, he will skip over reporters that he knows will give him a hard time.

Thurs, May 29, 7:02pm

permanent link | -Eric.

Ramey over at The Jawbone, reminds us that time is running out to register your comments about the possible FCC deregs ...

Less than a week remains before the FCC votes on sweeping changes to media ownership regulations on Monday, June 2. There's still time to lodge your protest in a public comment with the FCC, contact your elected representatives, and speak out on this highly important, yet under-covered issue. is taking out several full-page ads in major newspapers, as well as airing a few national TV ads. Go to to file a comment or donate money to the advertising effort.

This is an issue that has touched on concerns across the political landscape. Everybody from the NRA and the Family Research Council to Code Pink and True Majority has filed official objections. No matter what your political persuasion, you can probably find a reason to oppose this change.

Thurs, May 29, 6:56pm

permanent link | -Eric.

Ms. Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, notes this in her semi-blog on the right's love of Bill Clinton

A few weeks ago I argued that rightwing talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Joe Scarborough could go out of business if they didn't have Bill and Hillary to kick around. As if to confirm my point, within thirty minutes of posting that item, a producer from the O'Reilly Factor called to book me on the show. (Topic: O'Reilly's bashing of Hillary!)

So this morning, when I noticed a tiny squib in The New York Times reporting on Bill Clinton's remark last night at Harvard's Kennedy School that Congress should modify the ammendment that barred him from seeking a third term, I wondered how long it would take for Hannity, O'Reilly and Scarborough to jump all over the story. Answer: by10:30 am, a producer from Hannity & Colmes was on the phone. "We're doing a segment about Clinton's speech last night," he said. "Hannity wants to get all over it."

I'm not a gambling woman, but I'd bet an awful lot that this troika of Clinton bashers will devote a large chunk of their programs tonight to this burning issue.
Yeah, conservatives love Bill Clinton like a fat kid loves cake. Oh, and conservatives can't wait until 2008 or 2012 when Hillary runs for president. Can't you imagine the fundraising pitches GOP writers will churn out? Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster, after all. A murderer being president! Good golly, miss molly! Hasn't been this much excitement since Air Supply said they were going to release another album.

Thurs, May 29, 6:56pm

permanent link | -Eric.

As if you needed another summary of the tax cut Bush and the Republican Congress passed, here's another one from the American Prospect (still hamster-linkless)!

In fact, despite a $20 billion increase in federal aid to the states -- the only element of the program genuinely expected to expire after two years -- the package has three negatives for state and local finance. First, borrowing costs may edge higher as the marginal investor shifts from municipal bonds to tax-advantaged dividends. Second, many states have income-tax systems that piggyback off federal income taxes and capital gains; lower federal tax rates automatically reduce state revenues in those jurisdictions. Finally, the big kicker in the federal bill -- lower rates on dividends and capital gains -- obviously provides no direct benefit to state and local pension funds, which are already tax-exempt. If the legislation had been drafted to permit corporations to deduct dividend expenses, a sensible idea that would actually reduce the cost of corporate capital, pension funds and other tax-exempt investors would have benefited.

Thurs, May 29, 6:53pm

permanent link | -Eric.

Thurs, May 29, 6:49pm

permanent link | -Eric.

The Case for War is Blown Apart. Ben Russell and Andy McSmith

Mr Blair insisted yesterday he had "absolutely no doubt at all about the existence of weapons of mass destruction".

Mr Cook said the Prime Minister's claims that Saddam could deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes were patently false. He added that Mr Rumsfeld's statement "blows an enormous gaping hole in the case for war made on both sides of the Atlantic" and called for MPs to hold an investigation.

Meanwhile, Labour rebels threatened to report Mr Blair to the Speaker of the Commons for the cardinal sin of misleading Parliament - and force him to answer emergency questions in the House.

Mr Rumsfeld ignited the row in a speech in New York, declaring: "It is ... possible that they [Iraq] decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict and I don't know the answer." Speaking in the Commons before the crucial vote on war, Mr Blair told MPs that it was "palpably absurd" to claim that Saddam had destroyed weapons including 10,000 liters of anthrax, up to 6,500 chemical munitions; at least 80 tons of mustard gas, sarin, botulinum toxin and "a host of other biological poisons".

But Mr Cook said yesterday: "We were told Saddam had weapons ready for use within 45 minutes. It's now 45 days since the war has finished and we have still not found anything. "It is plain he did not have that capacity to threaten us, possibly did not have the capacity to threaten even his neighbors, and that is profoundly important. We were, after all, told that those who opposed the resolution that would provide the basis for military action were in the wrong.

Thurs, May 29, 8:55am

permanent link | -Eric.

For a 'system' error, go here

Thurs, May 29, 3:19am

permanent link | -Eric.

The always brief Andy Borowitz has the scoops on the newest Bush initiative:

One week after Christine Todd Whitman departed her post at the Environmental Protection Agency, President George W. Bush announced ambitious new plans to phase out the environment altogether by 2004. "In addition to cutting taxes, it is the goal of this administration to cut our wasteful, bloated environment," Bush said in a speech before the Association of Indiscriminate Applauders in Washington.

WHILE PLANS TO eliminate the environment entirely are still being formulated, the general strategy of the White House is to phase out the environment gradually "so that hardly anyone will notice it's gone," an aide said today.

Apparently, the plan to eliminate the environment may have prompted Ms. Whitman's decision to leave the EPA, since the agency's mission seemed increasingly nebulous in the absence of an environment to protect. "Christie decided to move from the EPA to New Jersey because a year from now New Jersey will still be around," one source said.

The President's plan calls for a comprehensive review of all species currently living in the United States and the accelerated extinction of all superfluous organisms by the end of fiscal 2004. The plan also calls for a gradual reduction of air and water, with water most likely to get the axe. "If it comes down to choosing between air and water, the President will probably scrap water," one aide said. "After all, the Iraqis haven't had water in weeks and look how well they're doing."

Thurs, May 29, 12:49am

permanent link | -Eric.

These vacuous people-senators and congressmen, CEO's and generals, preachers and rockers, white collar and blue collar alike - when confronted with the factual record of George Bush II's record of being AWOL from the Texas National Guard and his many business failings, or informed that every political rally held by this president is a lesson in Hollywood production 101, simply deny that reality and opt for the fantasy. But Bush is not the problem. It is what he has come to represent. And that is the antithesis of what US citizens are taught to believe it means to be American. It takes years of labor to purchase and maintain a home, to stay on the payroll, to get an education, to believe there is more than crass profit and loss, to tolerate tax cuts for the rich, to raise a family, to worship ones god's, to be honest and trusting.

That quaint American philosophy of life has been beheaded. Now the "leaders" aren't even coy about parsing the truth with the country. It's in-your-face lying on a global scale. Full spectrum perception management via the US government, incorporated, ensures that what was false remains false, but you'll believe it to be true, just like you still believe the New York Times. Where else are you to turn? You are too busy being productive to believe otherwise and, besides, you don't have the time to fight the system.

The modern day Murti-Bing pills - Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax and prime time media - let you tolerate the madness that is fed to you on a daily basis: Trillions in tax cuts for the rich are good. $700 billion for defense and intelligence is good. Outsourcing 850,000 government jobs is good. Cutting highway funding to the states is good. Cutting social programs is good. Eliminating pension plans and social security is good. Don't criticize, we are at war. America: love it or leave it. "Mission Accomplished". Ditching the United Nations and international treaties is good. It's not about oil. We don't need a commission on 911 - trust us. Hussein was a threat to the United States. Your safer now with Tom Ridge in charge. There is an opposition party. The president's speeches and rallies are spontaneous. Without the US military there would be no freedom. Freedom means the ability to buy and sell. Media deregulation is good. Guantanamo Bay is not a death camp. The War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism are successful. The US Department of Homeland Security does not have former KGB officers as consultants. Missile defense works.

In this national psycho ward, you want to do "something" to contribute because there's an emptiness you just can't seem to shake. You want to be a refuseniks. One day, you say to yourself, I'll do "something" about it.

Thurs, May 29, 12:44am

permanent link | -Eric.

From the alive and still kicking hard Salon, "Just say no to supersized media":

Dozens of people lined up to testify after the main speakers had finished, voicing their concerns with passion and urgency.

"My name is Doris Bennett and I'm 77 years old. I can't sleep at night because I'm so worried about this country," said one. "If this happens, we will never be able to elect who we want to elect in this country, because the media will elect them. I would like to say to Mr. Powell that if you do this, I will turn off my television and my family will turn off their televisions."

A 50ish Iranian-born man who is now a U.S. citizen fervently expressed his opposition to having giant media corporations control the U.S. news. "I worked 23 years in a big corporation. There is no democracy in a corporation," he said, his voice shaking with emotion.

Rose Sanders, a civil rights lawyer, made the 220-mile drive from Selma, Ala., through a driving rainstorm to share her experience as the owner of a small local radio station. She and her husband had bought the station, she explained, to provide a progressive black voice on the dial. However, the station's signal went out after they broadcast their endorsement of whom Sanders termed the "less conservative" of two candidates, both black, in a hotly contested mayoral election. Subsequently, the station's tower was firebombed, she said.

Thurs, May 29, 12:39am

permanent link | -Eric.

Uh-oh. Protection for endangered species may be endangered (oh, that funny hamster). AP:

The Interior Department is seeking delays of months, and possibly years in some cases, in court orders directing officials to designate areas critical to the recovery of 32 species threatened with extinction.

Craig Manson, assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, said Wednesday the department will seek approval from federal judges and plaintiffs in 12 cases for delays in complying with court-ordered deadlines to propose or designate critical habitat.

The orders stem from lawsuits by environmental groups, and department officials plan to ask for the extensions according to which deadlines come first.

But environmental groups said they saw the latest development as part of a broader attack by the Bush administration on the premier law for keeping species from going extinct. They pointed to the Defense Department's recent attempts to gain more flexibility in the law to make it easier to conduct training exercises.

"The Bush administration claims they don't have money to protect these species and their homes, but the fact is they've engineered this budget crisis themselves," said Susan Holmes, a senior policy analyst for Earthjustice, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit law firm that represents environmental groups.

"Stay out of the Bushes. Hoot hoot."

Thurs, May 29, 12:13am

permanent link | -Eric.

Kevin over at The Gunther Concept writes a letter to Linton Weeks (what kind of name is that, anyway? Can I be Minted Months?) of the Washington Post who wrote a slanderous article on Sid Blumenthal yesterday. Part of the letter:

A quick search on the internet revealed that it was you who (perhaps inadvertently) was responsible for creating a stir a while back concerning a then new biography of Ronald Reagan by Edmund Morris. Specifically, Morris was taken to task by many conservative pundits and figures for calling Reagan an airhead. The biography was unfairly maligned as a result. The root cause of this series of attacks on Morris, who's book you reviewed, was a misquote of him which you included in your review. Specifically, you wrote the following:

After following him around for seven months, making friends with Reagan insiders such as Michael Deaver, Donald Regan, George Shultz and Caspar Weinberger, Morris writes that he was stumped. 'Dutch remained a mystery to me, and worse still - dare I entertain such a heresy, in the hushed and reverent precincts of his office? - an airhead.'

The section in quotation marks was the passage that you cited from Morris's book. His actual words in the book were 'an apparent airhead'. One can quibble over whether excluding the qualifying term 'apparent' changes the meaning of what Morris was telling us. But to include a quote from a book you are reviewing, it would be nice if you used the actual words that the author wrote, especially on an issue you certainly should have known would be controversial.

I mention this episode because while one could pardon the exclusion of a single word from a quote lifted directly from a book, your latest offering makes me believe that this earlier incident is part of a pattern. It is a biased, smarmy, dishonest piece of character assassination [SNIP]

One of the central themes in Blumenthal's book is that there was (and indeed still is) an unholy alliance between political figures out to get Clinton, and various media pundits and journalists. If the gist of his argument is that certain figures (Hitchens and Isikoff, to take two examples) acted maliciously and with absolutely no sense of objectivity at all, why on earth would you care about their opinion of Blumenthal's book? What did you expect them to do, throw up their hands and say 'He's right! I don't know what we were thinking!'? If they're sleazy and untrustworthy, you shouldn't be surprised that they have nothing good to say about him.
Read the rest:

Thurs, May 29, 12:10am

permanent link | -Eric.

Democracy Now and Greg Palast report in, "Corporate Profiteering: From Congo to Iraq."

Today on Democracy Now!, he talks about internal USAID documents that outline a master plan for reorganizing the entire economy of Iraq. The plans include the elimination of trade protections and the mass privatization of every industry in Iraq, including selling-off the oilfields.

Palast's book also explores the relationship between the Bush family and a Canadian mining company, the Barrick Corporation.

Palast explains how as president, George Bush Senior changed a century old mining law that allowed Barrick to "swiftly lay claim to the largest gold find in America". In return, the company named Bush to a senior advisory position after he lost the White House. The company also poured money into the Republican party coffers during the 1997-2000 election cycle, an exceedingly generous gesture for a company based in Canada.

So, what is Barrick? According to Palast- the initial stake came from none other than Adnan Khashoggi- the Saudi arms dealer who arranged the Iran-Contra arms for hostage deal.

One of the companies Barrick owns is Vancouver-based Sutton Resources Ltd. In 1996- Sutton drove out anywhere between 30,000 and 400,000 local miners from the Bulyanhulu mining field in Tanzania. During the process- Sutton's bulldozers allegedly buried 52 people alive.

Wed, May 28, 7:37am

permanent link | -Eric.

Amazing. The 'liberal' Washington Post attacks Sidney Blumenthal with a ferocity reserved only for internet message boards. This is what passes for mainstream journalism these days?

Speaking of books, order Blumenthal's book from here. And still speaking of books, I'm at University of Hawaii summer school, and my books cost 200 shells, so chip in if you have the dough!

Wed, May 28, 1:41am

permanent link | -Eric.

Did Ben Shapiro Actually See These Movies? Boy wonder Ben Shapiro writes in his column:

It must be depressing to go to a movie in Europe. To judge from last week's Cannes Film Festival, movies made for the European crowd are mind-numbingly nihilistic. This is the kind of material that would make Barney want to fling himself from a 12-story building onto a bed of nails ... The contrast between Cannes and Carrey is telling. While American films are popular in Europe, Europe also loves amoral and anti-American movies. America, on the other hand, likes movies with morals and scorns movies touting the meaninglessness of life. All this makes me think that the divide between American and European views of the world will not be bridged any time soon.
In Shapiro's column, he describes a series of movies, and calls them anti-American and against American values. My question to Shaprio is has he actually seen any of these movies? In other words, was little Ben at the Cannes Film Festival (somehow, I think the answer is no)? And if not, how can he criticize films that he's never seen? Dare I say that making accusations about works of art one has never seen is unAmerican? I'm emailing Ben, let's see what he says ...

Tuesday, May 27, 10:49pm

permanent link | -Eric.

I get a pretty good deal of feedback about the site, but I'd like a lot more to do future 'letters' sections. I haven't been able to figure out how to make 'comments' available on this site - I'm not sure my server allows a system - so if you have thoughts or comments, please email them to me and, more than likely, I'll post your comments and a link to your respective page / blog, if you have one.

Tuesday, May 27, 10:39pm

permanent link | Soundoff / Feedback.

Kevin Matttson in Dissent Magazine makes the case why Michael Moore is effective in the age of entertainment: He reaches people "via satellite dishes and mega-mall bookstores rather than through cafés or union halls or small magazines."

What's odd about this sort of engagement, though, is that it avoids the hard work of forming movements that could press for change. No need for that when Michael Moore, with just his camera, microphone, and baseball cap, can come to the rescue. Acting as the lone fighter for social justice, Moore reminds us that there are few movements at work on the array of issues he grapples with. When, in one episode of The Awful Truth, he helps someone challenge an inhumane Health Maintenance Organization decision, we can't help remember that though there is plenty of anger at HMOs today, there's no organized movement for health care reform. When Moore documents increased use of prison labor, we confront the fact that, except for a weak labor movement, no one is out there fighting prison labor. If we add to this Moore's own self-expressed cynicism about the state of American politics, we are faced with our central predicament: the left today is armed with anger but no political solutions or realistic tactics for long-term change.

Think back to Edward R. Murrow's famous television broadcast "Harvest of Shame" (1960). The show documented the plight of migrant farm workers through interviews with poor families explaining their toil and an American Farm Bureau Federation representative making sloppy excuses for their poverty. It's not hard to watch the show and imagine how it must have worked in tandem with Michael Harrington's The Other America and the initiatives of labor unions and community organizers to help energize LBJ's "Great Society." Murrow insisted that CBS allow him to include a final plea for political change, where he argues that only an "enlightened" and "aroused public opinion" can solve the documented injustices.

Comparing "Harvest of Shame" to Moore's efforts illustrates a sea change in the mass media and the state of American politics. "Harvest of Shame" doesn't have a drop of irony. Murrow was a moralist, in the best sense of that term. He knew that for things to change, people had to care enough to defend the interests of those too poor and weak to speak for themselves. That's what makes "Harvest of Shame" seem so entirely dated today. Its moral symbolism is overwrought. There are constant comparisons between the way Americans treat animals-including waterfowl or horses-and the way they treat the poor. At one moment, a narrator calls the show "a 1960s Grapes of Wrath." For Murrow, injustice did not lend itself to humor or irony; the viewer is not to laugh but get indignant and ready for battle. The postmodern media sap Murrow's politically charged and moralistic approach. There's nothing funny or entertaining about his outdated puritanism. Moore fills that void.
That's about correct. To extend his argument further, some things in our culture which aren't necessarily political have a significant affect on political opinion: Saturday Night Live, the Tonight and Late Show, and The Simpsons. Characterizations of public figures are largely formed through late night television, and I'd say popular culture has been shifted to the left in the past decade, ironically, by Rupert Murdoch's "The Simpsons," which characterizes conservatives (Homer and Mr. Burns) as ignorant, selfish and bafoonish, and liberals (Lisa) as admirable and positive. However, I only say shifted 'popular culture.' Economics has shifted more to the right because, in part, popular culture shows like "The Simpsons" can't and don't try to challenge people's thinking on stuff like economic disparity or the progressive tax system. Though if "Will and Grace" wants to start doing something on Reaganomics, by all means, go ahead.

Tuesday, May 27, 10:32pm

permanent link | -Eric.

A good article in the Sac Bee by one of dem crazy Berkeley profs:

Two peace activists didn't get off so easily. Rebecca Gordon and Janet Adams, who publish War Times, were detained in San Francisco by airline officials who informed them their names appeared on the FBI's secret "no-fly" list. An administration spokesperson insists that "no one gets on the list by being a peace activist" -- but try explaining this to Peace Action of Wisconsin. Last year a delegation from that group, including a nun, a priest and several students, was stopped from boarding a flight out of Milwaukee. Their political activism put them on the government's blacklist. [SNIP]

Not long after Fleischer's post-9/11 rant, Attorney General John Ashcroft lambasted critics of the administration's response to terrorism. "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil."

The danger is indeed silence -- Ashcroft has that part of it right -- but it's the silencing of dissent, the demand for loyalty, the "ratcheting down" of the Constitution that ought to be cause for alarm.

Tuesday, May 27, 7:12pm

permanent link | -Eric.

Two noteworthy items in regards to the Democratic field from Taegan Goddard's Political Wire. First, Kos asks whether or not General Wesley Clark will run ...

The Democratic field seeking the presidential nomination is almost set. There is one wildcard left in this game -- will Gen. Wesley Clark join the race? The short answer -- no one knows, probably not even Clark himself.

People I talk to "in the know" continue to maintain the party line -- that Clark is 50/50 on a race. Those percentages seemed to wane after the Iraqi war. For one, word was that Clark would wait until after the war to announce his intentions. The war passed and no announcement was made.

Strike one.

Then Clark was named Chairman of the Board of WaveCrest -- a company building a clean hydrogen powered engine. While being a COB is not necessarily a full-time job, it definitely suggested Clark would try and cash in his military career and CNN fame to make serious money in the private sector.

Strike two.

But the third pitch never came. Clark called a metaphorical time out, and has been in a holding pattern since.
And the GOP operatives are planting the seeds of 2000, by linking Al Gore characteristics with John Kerry :
GOP operatives have already launched a shadow campaign branding Sen. John F. Kerry as a carbon copy of another Democrat maligned as aloof and phony: Al Gore.

``Wherever he goes, Kerry walks in thinking he's the smartest guy in the room - and he just has to show it,'' said one Massachusetts Republican, echoing party insiders. ``Gore was the same way. They're really birds of a feather.''

Kerry aides, however, consider such comments from Republicans a back-handed compliment, saying it shows that the Bush team views Kerry as his strongest potential challenger.

``If you go behind the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, into that dark, seceret room where George Bush and Karl Rove are plotting the race, I guarantee you the candidate who strikes the most fear in their hearts is John Kerry,'' said Kerry spokesman Chris Lehane, who also served as Gore's campaign spokesman.
And finally, the Washingtonian whispers that Bill Clinton may make a run for mayor of New York City ...
The Harlem denizen has near-rock-star status in New York, and he chafes every day that he’s not in the spotlight. With his wife plotting a run for president in 2008, friends of Bill say the prospect of his wife’s upstaging him is almost too much to bear.

Bill Clinton, they say, has decided to run against Bloomberg. Being mayor of New York is considered by some easterners the second-best job after being president.

Running in 2005 (New York elects its mayor in an off year) will allow the former president to be in the position to deliver his state to Hillary in the 2008 election and claim, if the race is close, that he put her in the White House. His election would also solve a problem for Hillary. She doesn’t want him back in the White House, so Bill’s having his own residence at New York’s Gracie Mansion will suit the two just fine.

Tuesday, May 27, 6:59pm

permanent link | -Eric.

Talk Left notes that Canada proposed a law that decriminalizes up to 15 grams of marijuana, which would not only be a positive step towards decreasing unneaded arrests, but also make a whole lot of Michigan State students happy.

Tuesday, May 27, 6:53pm

permanent link | -Eric.

Sidney Blumenthal - I mean - Atrios, notes that the artsy-fartsy Bravo is doing a 'gay' take on 'The Bachelor.' Unfortunately, writes Sid, "the network had no comment on their rumored followup "boy meets dog" starring a certain senator from Pennsylvania." Darn. And I had an obligatory 'who let the dogs out' joke prepped.

Tuesday, May 27, 6:32pm

permanent link | -Eric.

Drudge blasts Hillary for new book; screams, "IT TAKES A VILLAGE: HILLARY HAD THREE WRITERS FOR AUTOBIOGRAPHY." Hamster quick points:

1) Every politician has people help them out in writing books. George W. Bush did not write his book by himself.
2) If this is true, which is not guaranteed, it does not take away from the fact that the book contains Hillary's ideas and opinions. Also, just because 'writers' helped someone with a book, it doesn't mean they did a majority, significant, or any amont of writing.
3) Drudge himself had people help him 'write' his book. "Julia Phillips" is a 'contributor' to his book, even though she is not listed on the cover. And further, note this from Greg Beato:

Indeed, while Drudge Manifesto runs 247 pages, it takes a lot of filler to reach that length: 40 blank pages; 31 pages of fan mail; 24 pages of Drudge Report reruns; 13 pages of a Q & A that Drudge did at the National Press Club three years ago; 10 pages of titles and other book boilerplate; six pages of quotes from Drudge's favorite philosophers (Monica, Madonna, etc.); four pages of a chat transcript; three pages that include nothing but a large zero; two pages that include nothing but a large numeral 1; one page that includes nothing but a tiny zero; and one page that includes Drudge's favorite Web sites. Which leaves, in the end, 112 pages of new material, including nine pages of poetry.
So, Drudge had a lot of help from 1) Casper the Friendly Ghost, who helped with those blank pages. 2) People who wrote fan mail. 3) The person who helps write the crap on his site. 4) The National Press Club and 5) Famous people and their quotes. It does indeed take a village ... to write Drudge's Manifesto.

Tuesday, May 27, 6:28pm

permanent link | -Eric.

This site was nominated by the New York New Media Association in its "The 'Movers & Shakers' Series: News & Politics" category over here. Learn more about the event in New York City here.

Tuesday, May 27, 6:24pm

permanent link | -Eric.

LIBERAL HOLLYWOOD BOYCOTT FAILS AGAIN. Blasphamous 'Bruce Almighty' and 'Matrix Reloaded' Top Box Office; Liberals Freeman and Fishburne prevail at box office. Further, the other movies in the top 5 had liberal connections! 'Daddy Day Care,' whose screenwriter is former Al Franken assistant Geoff Rodkey; 'X2,' by a gay director; and 'The In-Laws,' featuring Democrat Michael Douglas. Another sad weekend for conservatives.

Tuesday, May 27, 11:49am

permanent link | -Eric.

Starr Would Love to Get Together with Clinton, Share Old Times ... Sherwood Voice

Currently working on a case involving Microsoft, Starr represented the mother in a recent nationally reported case involving an objection to the phrase "under God" in the pledge of allegiance. "I would love to get together with him at Doe's Eat Place or an appropriate venue," Starr said when asked how he would react if he ran into Clinton again personally. He would expect Clinton to be friendly, and come over to shake his hand, Starr said as he noted Clinton's recognized graciousness

Monday, May 26, 8:05pm

permanent link | -Eric.

Honolulu Star Bulletin on the tax cuts:

AMERICANS are not clamoring for tax cuts but will be given a generous package of reductions over the next decade. President Bush says the cuts will put more money in people's pockets, revive the economy and create more jobs, but most economists are dubious at best. The greater likelihood is that it will increase the national debt, forcing Congress to increase the red-ink limit by nearly a trillion dollars to $6.4 trillion.

The president asked Congress to lower capital gains tax rates and eliminate income taxes on corporate dividends, which would have reduced federal revenues by $400 billion over the next 11 years. The theory is that those actions would encourage investment, resulting in more productivity, economic growth and jobs.

That seems logical. However, two years ago, Congress approved a 10-year tax cut of $1.3 trillion, one of the largest in history, with the explanation that the economic stimulus would create more jobs. Since then the country has lost nearly 2 million jobs.

Bush asked for a tax bill this year that would have lowered revenues by $726 billion over the next decade. He embraced the $350 billion measure approved by Congress, undoubtedly realizing that it could end up exceeding his proposal.

The most popular parts of the bill are temporary -- one-year tax breaks for married couples, an increased tax credit for children and reductions in taxes for capital gains and dividends through 2007. If those reductions are made permanent, which is likely, the tax reductions will exceed $800 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priority, a liberal research institute.

In the short term, the bill approved by Congress provides larger tax cuts than those proposed by the White House. Bush's plan would have lowered taxes by $35 billion in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, and $117 billion in fiscal year 2004, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The bill approved by Congress is expected to result in reduced revenue of $61 billion in FY 2003 and $149 billion the following year.

As the government allots huge amounts to rebuild Iraq and prepares for the retirement of baby boomers, America is being directed to fall further in debt. As Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned Congress last week, "Deficits do matter."

Monday, May 26, 7:27pm

permanent link | -Eric.

TBogg posts this letter from the SD Tribune about Mr. Miguel Estrada:

The second issue had to do with his own native Honduras. I recall challenging the legitimacy of the Honduran government, which was and still is known for its corruption, its exclusion and repression of the lower classes, and at the time had been implicated in numerous human rights abuses (including assassinations), some tied to the U.S.-supported Contra war against Nicaragua. His counterfactual answer stuck with me: "Honduras is a pure democracy, just like the United States."

The court to which Estrada has been nominated is considered widely to be a steppingstone to the U.S. Supreme Court, so the fact that he could be "possibly the first Hispanic American to sit on the highest bench in the land" actually increases concern. There are many top-flight Latino lawyers in the United States, even from our class of '86. If a seat should be set up for an American of Latin American descent, Hispanics and moderate Republicans would do well to support someone more likely to bring a broader, and more inclusive, definition of society and politics to important decisions.
This letter goes to the heart of the problem with Estrada's ideology, but again, as I wrote before, the idea that the Democrats' filibuster of Estrada somehow hurts them is a laughable notion propagated by the political elites in this country, who think people actually care about their elite processes. The average citizen doesn't know who Miguel Estrada is, can't name a single Supreme Court Justice, certainly can't name a circuit court or appeals court judge, and definitely doesn't care about whether or not some guy in a suit and tie gets a 6-figure job. The average American, and Hispanic-American, cares more that Bush is pushing anti-middle and lower class tax cuts, hurting the environment and crippling privacy laws.

Monday, May 26, 1:26am

permanent link | -Eric.

Guardian, "Warning to Bush from contrite cold war veteran "

Robert McNamara, the US defence secretary during the Cuban missile crisis and the first phases of the Vietnam war, has warned of the folly of American involvement in Iraq.

Mr McNamara, a hate figure to the anti-war movement in the 1960s who rarely airs his views in public, delivered the shot across the bows of the Bush administration in the documentary The Fog of War, which has been premiered at the Cannes film festival.

"If we can't persuade our allies and other comparable nations, we had better examine our reasoning," he said in the documentary. "What makes us omniscient?" [SNIP]

The biggest lesson of Vietnam, he argued, was that the US had to learn to empathise with its enemies. "We didn't know the Vietnamese enough to empathise with them. We didn't see that they saw us as just replacing the French as the colonial power. We were fighting the cold war, but to them it was a civil war. That was our mistake."

Monday, May 26, 1:24am

permanent link | -Eric.

The Bush Recession. Julian Borger writes in the Guardian, "Bush makes poor pay for military might and tax cuts: Schools and health lose out as US public services endure worst crisis since 1930s"

Oklahoma's job cuts are part of a deep nationwide retrenchment eating away at the public sphere. According to some analysts, the states, which control most public services, are going through their worst crisis since the Depression. While the US is at the zenith of its global power, its health and education systems would be grounds for a scandal in poorer countries.

The Oklahoma Education Association reports that secondary-school class sizes are in the 40s and heading for the 50s. Oregon is closing its schools several weeks before the end of term and laying off public prosecutors to balance its budget. Missouri has ordered every third light bulb to be removed from official buildings to save money.

As a result of the cuts, 275,000 fewer Texan children will receive health care, and in Nebraska almost 25,000 low-income mothers have lost medical cover for their families because eligibility thresholds have been raised. Over this year and next, 1.7m Americans risk losing their health insurance.

The Bush administration argues that this is a crisis of the states' making. It says that during the Wall Street boom of the 1990s state governments expanded their budgets with the proceeds of capital gains and other property taxes. Now the boom is over, they will have to scale back. President Bush initially refused to bail out the states, but the Senate forced him to set aside $20bn (£12.5bn) in rescue money as a condition for agreeing last week to a $350bn tax cut. The money would have been almost enough to close the shortfall in this financial year but it will come too late to help sacked teachers such as Ms Kelly. And the package falls well short of the states' needs next year. Meanwhile, the federal government has piled spending obligations on the states without commensurate funding.

Sunday, May 25, 7:41am

permanent link | -Eric.

Alternative Grist Magazine talks with Howard Dean about the environment:

Grist: Yes, but what policies would you put in place to so aggressively develop the wind and solar capacity?
Dean: First, improved tax credits, buy-down programs, net-metering laws, interconnection standards, and all that. But also, direct federal aid to construction of transmission lines. One of the problems is that we have this huge wind resource in the middle of the country that can't be used because there's not adequate transmission to places like Minneapolis, Denver, and Chicago.

Grist: Laying those lines and building that kind of capacity would be a tremendously expensive proposition. How would you expand the funding for that?
Dean: The president has enormous tax cuts, most of which are not necessary and don't help the economy, so that's where it would come from. I think people would rather have a program to put people back to work building things like transmission lines than they would have the tax cut.

Grist: Is there a dollar amount you'd be willing to spend on your energy plan?
Dean: No, I don't have a dollar amount. We'll have that in some number of weeks -- an official environmental policy that's all budgeted out.

Grist: What about biofuels?
Dean: We need to use ethanol. That's controversial in environmental circles because they don't like subsidies to Archer Daniels Midland, but the Brazilians have used 90 percent ethanol distilled from sugarcane and that does not have the high British-thermal-unit process that's required to make ethanol and it doesn't involve any subsidies. Ten percent of ethanol in everybody's gas tank does not require any mechanical change in building cars but it would save 2 percent of the entire world output of oil. Biodiesel is another alternative fuel I would support.

Grist: How about mileage standards? Would you tighten CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards?
Dean: That's the last piece. We need to create stricter standards and better incentives for fuel-efficient vehicles. My proposal is to make CAFE standards the same for SUVs as they are for the regular fleet. The technology to do that exists today. Ford will be coming out with a 35-mile-per-gallon, hybrid-engine SUV model this year. Lexus has one. People want SUVs and now they can get SUVs and trucks with good mileage standards. The CAFE standard would force a significant portion of the fleet to be hybrids in order to meet the average. I was one of four governors that had a standard requiring a certain percentage of cars sold in our state to be electric vehicles.

Sunday, May 25, 7:11am

permanent link | -Eric.

Gotta love them legal business loopholes. NRDC:

You might think that public lands, which belong, by definition, to all Americans, are carefully protected against the damage caused by mining. You'd be wrong. Those lands are governed by the Mining Law of 1872 -- that's right, 1872 -- an act passed in an era when individual prospectors used picks, pans and shovels to extract small amounts of hard-rock minerals like gold and silver. The law, part of a government effort to encourage westward expansion, didn't address environmental protection.

But mining technology has changed dramatically in the last 130 years, and the damage mining has caused is huge. Today, the most common mining practice is cyanide heap-leaching, which first involves digging pits so deep they could hold multiple Statues of Liberty stacked one on top of the other. Large piles of ore-bearing rocks are then sprayed with huge amounts of highly toxic cyanide, which bonds to the desired minerals and leaches them out of the pile so they can be claimed. According to the EPA, hard-rock mining releases more toxics than any other U.S. industry. It also produces twice as much solid waste as all other U.S. industries and cities combined. These wastes poison our rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater -- an estimated 12,000 miles of rivers alone. And it's not only active mines that cause these problems. Today, more than 550,000 abandoned hard-rock mines litter our public lands. Sixty-six of them are so dangerous they are listed on the Superfund National Priorities List.

Think the government receives fair payment for the minerals extracted from its lands, or compensation for the damage mining causes? Wrong again. Each year, the mining industry extracts $2 to $4 billion worth of minerals from public lands, without paying a penny in rent or royalties. (In contrast, companies that develop energy minerals -- oil, gas, and coal -- pay a 12.5 percent royalty on revenue they make off of public lands.) And, if they want to, companies can "patent" public land for a mere $5 an acre -- a figure based on 1872 prices -- which moves it from the public to the private domain. More than 3.5 million acres of public land (an area the size of Connecticut) has been transferred to mining companies for this trivial fee.

In effect, the American public is subsidizing the mining industry's destruction of public lands. On top of this, taxpayers are stuck with the enormous cost of undoing the environmental damage mining operations leave behind -- the tab has been estimated to be between $32 and $72 billion.

Sunday, May 25, 7:07am

permanent link | -Eric.

What's happened under Christie Todd Whitman and the Bush administration. From the DNC:

  • Bush weakened the Clean Air Act, allowing power plants to increase the amount of pollution they put into the air. What's more, the White House has scheduled a meeting for later this month to decide how much further they will go to weaken clean air laws.

  • Bush endangered our water by allowing mining companies to pollute streams with impunity.

  • Bush cut the EPA budget for 2004 by $500 million, gutting the agency's ability to enforce environmental laws effectively.

  • Bush made significant cuts to the Superfund program, reducing the burden on polluters to pay for their own messes at the taxpayers' expense. (New Jersey, the state to which Whitman is returning, has the highest number of Superfund sites. Welcome home.)

  • Bush declared open season on the nation's parks, monuments, and forests, opening them to drilling, road building, and other potentially damaging activities.

  • Bush weakened protections for endangered species and made it more difficult to put new species on the endangered list.

  • Saturday, May 24, 8:29pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Chinese actor B.D. Wong, now of "Law and Order: SVU," has a new book out, "Following Foo," which describes as:

    High tech meets high touch in actor B.D. Wong's remarkable electronic parenting memoir, Following Foo The story begins when the surrogate mother, carrying twins for Wong and longtime partner Richie, gives birth 11 weeks early. The loss of the first twin and the anguished nurturing of the tiny Foo are described in a series of e-mails for friends, family and theatrical colleagues, whose responses are also reprinted. Readers ride the roller coaster of Foo's surgeries, eye exams, pneumonia scares, dropping heart rate, and brochospasms. Although Wong is writing about a unique situation, he manages to capture the fear and awe that every parent will recognize.

    Wong's wiry alertness, sly show-business humor, and aching vulnerability are a potent mix. In one e-mail, he captures the terror and tenderness of the intensive-care nursery. In another, he celebrates Foo's first, long- awaited "poop." He overeats, describes his parents in loving detail, and leaves the door of a hospital refrigerator (packed with frozen breast milk) wide open. The author's voice crackles with love, energy and astute observation. Occasionally his essays--for example, one written from baby Foo's perspective--seem forced. Also, the decision to include the name-dropping "credits" of the friends who responded to his e-mails mar this otherwise exceptional tale. Still, these don't obscure the book's charms. Early in the book, Wong compares his newborn son to "a little chestnut man—a wise old man selling chestnuts on a snowy night." By the book's end, it is Wong's hard-won wisdom that will warm readers. --Barbara Mackoff
    I had no idea B.D. Wong was gay. I've been a fan of his for a while, and it's unfortunate that he doesn't get a lot of heavy roles. Anyway, check out this book if the subject matter sounds interesting to you. Also, the Advocate's June 10th edition will have a cover story on Wong.

    Saturday, May 24, 8:25pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    How the X-Men Changed My Life: The release of X2: X-Men United reminds a lesbian mom of her own childhood fascination with the comic books—an enthusiasm she now shares with her 14-year-old son. Dale Rosenberg:

    When the first X-Men movie came out in 2000, I told Doran I'd take him and his friends to it on the opening weekend. I went happily, doing a favor for my firstborn, thinking of it as a Good Mama thing to do but not something I would personally enjoy. I was surprised to find myself enchanted by the film. I got back the feeling I'd had as a kid, of being totally transported into a world where mutants were real and dealing with a world hostile to those a little different from them. I found the characters believable, complex—people I could truly care about. Hugh Jackman's portrayal of Wolverine was mysterious and multilayered and totally captivated me.

    And I loved the queer subtext in the film. When a thug twice his size tries to shake Wolverine down, saying "I know what you are," I thought of all the gay men and lesbians who've had that happen to them. And wished they'd all had the superpowers needed to overpower their attackers, just like the Wolverine did ...

    Almost three years later I've written 100 X-Men stories. I use movie characters, comic book characters, and those of my own invention. My central character is a deeply closeted gay man who is also a mutant, so I get to write about homophobia more directly than is addressed by the queer subtext of the comics or the movies. I have readers all over the world who write to me, and I've met some interesting people and learned a lot about gay life in various parts of the world. Readers have drawn illustrations for me, translated my work into Chinese to expand my readership, and created a Web site with my stories.
    This is from the, which I'm told by a friend, is where Howard Dean is now running ads.

    Saturday, May 24, 6:25pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Good news for Republicans, bad news for Democrats and lefties; Large speculation that after 2004, will be a realignment for the Righties in this country ... NY Times

    With the Congress thinly divided along partisan lines, another presidential election taking shape and the rules of campaign finance in legal limbo, the two national political parties are at crucial turning points.

    Republicans are the most encouraged. Party officials around the country, convinced that this may be their moment, are raising the prospect of an era of Republican dominance.

    Republicans already hold the White House, expect to continue to control the House of Representatives and have a majority in the Senate. For the first time in 50 years, a majority of state legislators are Republicans. Almost as many Americans (30 percent) call themselves Republicans as call themselves Democrats (32 percent), the narrowest gap since pollsters began measuring party identification in the 1940's.

    But Republicans are not stopping there. In Michigan, as well as in other large industrial states that Mr. Bush lost, the Republican Party, nationally and at the state level, is making big investments in building new grass roots operations that its leaders contend will pay huge dividends in the next election — and put the party in an even more commanding position.
    Obviously a lot will depend on the 2004 elections. The Democrats have already conceded control of the House and Senate, so the Congress goes red. And the courts will be largely decided upon who wins the 2004 elections. So if the Democrats lose the 2004 presidential election, I think we'll see a Republican realignment in 2004 for maybe a decade or so. Even if a Democrat gets in in 2008, it'll be hard to reverse the damage done in the courts and Congress, with its incumbency advantage. That's the unfortunate truth.

    Saturday, May 24, 7:59am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    United States one step closer to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah ... Marilyn Manson tops with number one album in country.

    Oh, but if Manson does bring the downfall of humanity (as the ambiguously gay duo Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell claim), it'll be ironic since Manson is ... a Republican?

    A much more shocking bit of political information can be found in Talk at the end of "Marilyn Manson Has a Secret," Tucker Carlson's profile about the ghoul-rocker. Though Manson has spent his entire career thinking up successful ways to repulse and enrage adult America, it turns out that he is really a conservative, bourgeois guy with strong Republican leanings.

    His complaints about America's vulgar, mindless entertainment and people who don't use good grammar make him sound like Bill Bennett. And, most shocking of all, Manson -- who says he loathes Gore and Sen. Joseph Lieberman -- tells Tucker that "If I had to pick, I'd pick Bush, and not necessarily by default."

    The new rocking face of the Republican Party? I guess it beats Pat Boone.

    Saturday, May 24, 7:59am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    College Republicans at Uhklah threw a bake sale parodying affirmative action

    Several Bruin Republicans parodied affirmative action by selling Oreos, Twinkies and crackers for race-based prices on Bruin Walk on Wednesday, but they never meant it to end in chaos.

    The "Affirmative Action Bake Sale, Reloaded," was a follow-up to a February sale put on by the same students, this time with emphasis on offensive stereotypes applied to minorities who oppose affirmative action.

    Although the sale was obscured by a cement mixer for much of the morning, by early afternoon the table was surrounded by students – some of them approving, many of them angry.

    The debate grew heated as Bruin Walk filled at lunchtime, and ended abruptly as an angry student grabbed boxes of Oreos and crackers, spilled them on the ground, and tore down the banner cursing what he called "white privilege." [SNIP]

    Nashaua Neao, a third-year political science and African American studies student, found the affirmative action bake sale "blatantly offensive and ignorant" and said the comparison of people to Oreos and Twinkies perpetuates racism.

    "I just think it's sad to know that they think of us as people who got in here just for our race," said Ana Fernandez, a third-year political science student.

    "We got the same grades and the same SAT scores, and they think that because I'm Latina I got an easier break," Fernandez said.

    The College Republicans of UCLA doing minority outreach.

    Other Cali colleges have done this before, including the UC-Berkeley campus and the UCLA College Republicans before in February.

    Saturday, May 24, 7:44am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Around the Blogs.

  • Alas a Blog has an interesting post on Buffy the Vampire Slayer criticisms and its similarities to criticisms of women and empowerment (which I would know about, since I'm a 19-year old boy) ...
    I see a lot of criticism over Buffy's neglect of Dawn last year. This extrapolates to criticism of women we hear about who have children and who work full time. They are seen as bad mothers, even if the work is necessary to put food on the table. God help them if they just WANT to work. They're obviously evil. If something happens to the children, even if it's something done to them by someone else -- babysitter, day care worker, etc. -- the mother is blamed for not being there.

    I didn't see the same criticism of Angel for working and Connor was an infant as opposed to Dawn's teenager. Connor is left with Lorne and sent off with Wesley as Dawn was left under Willow's supervision. Everyone was horrified when Buffy wanted Giles to talk to Dawn, but nobody worried about it when Cordelia was able to semi-calm Connor. Of course, by doing that, Cordelia stepped into her proper role of mother and nurturer instead of stepping out as Buffy did.

    Faith and Lilah also don't fill their proper roles, but they get around that because they fill the stereotype of the 'bad' girl. She's the sexy one who breaks the taboos, the one you don't take home to mother. No one EXPECTS her to look after the children.

  • Uggabugga has a couple items on the media, including some double stepping by Lynn Scarlett in the Interior and John Stossel's junk journalism.

  • Good friend Dave Johnson over at Seeing the Forest has a post on what he calls "Agents of 'The Party' ," right-wing students shouting down a left- wing speaker. I wonder if the same right-wing critics that bash lefty college students for yelling down speakers will condemn these kids' actions.

  • The good laywer over at Talk Left has a sad item on police corruption in the troubled city of Detroit.

    Saturday, May 24, 7:35am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Senator Byrd, in a speech reprinted in a bunch of lefty publications, including The Nation ...

    One has to stop and ponder. How could we have been so impossibly naïve? How could we expect to easily plant a clone of US culture, values and government in a country so riven with religious, territorial and tribal rivalries, so suspicious of US motives and so at odds with the galloping materialism that drives the Western-style economies? As so many warned this Administration before it launched its misguided war on Iraq, there is evidence that our crackdown thereis likely to convince 1,000 new bin Ladens to plan other horrors of the type we have seen in the past several days. Instead of damaging the terrorists, we have given them new fuel for their fury. We did not complete our mission in Afghanistan because we were so eager to attack Iraq. Now it appears that Al Qaeda is back with a vengeance. We have returned to orange alert in the United States, and we may well have destabilized the Mideast region, a region we have never fully understood.

    We have alienated friends around the globe with our dissembling and our haughty insistence on punishing former friends who may not see things quite our way. The path of diplomacy and reason have gone out the window, to be replaced by force, unilateralism and punishment for transgressions. I read most recently with amazement our harsh castigation of Turkey, our longtime friend and strategic ally. It is astonishing that our government is berating the new Turkish government for conducting its affairs in accordance with its own Constitution and its democratic institutions. Indeed, we may have sparked a new international arms race as countries move ahead to develop WMDs as a last-ditch attempt to ward off a possible pre-emptive strike from a newly belligerent United States, which claims the right to hit where it wants.

    In fact, there is little to constrain this President. Congress, in what will go down in history as its most unfortunate act, handed away its power to declare war for the foreseeable future and empowered this President to wage war at will. As if that were not bad enough, members of Congress are reluctant to ask questions that are begging to be asked. How long will we occupy Iraq? We have already heard disputes on the number of troops that will be needed to retain order. What is the truth? How costly will the occupation and rebuilding be? No one has given a straight answer. How will we afford this long-term, massive commitment, fight terrorism at home, address a serious crisis in domestic healthcare, afford behemoth military spending and give away billions in tax cuts amid a deficit that has climbed to more than $340 billion for this year alone? If the President's tax cut passes it will be $400 billion. We cower in the shadows while false statements proliferate. We accept soft answers and shaky explanations because to demand the truth is hard, or unpopular, or may be politically costly.

    But I contend that through it all, the people know. The American people unfortunately are used to political shading, spin and the usual chicanery they hear from public officials. They patiently tolerate it up to a point. But there is a line. It may seem to be drawn in invisible ink for a time, but eventually it will appear in dark colors, tinged with anger. When it comes to shedding American blood--when it comes to wreaking havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women and children, callous dissembling is not acceptable. Nothing is worth that kind of lie--not oil, not revenge, not re-election, not somebody's grand pipe dream of a democratic domino theory. And mark my words, the calculated intimidation that we see so often of late by the "powers that be" will only keep the loyal opposition quiet for just so long. Because eventually, like it always does, the truth will emerge. And when it does, this house of cards, built of deceit, will fall.

    Friday, May 23, 9:16pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The world we live in ... Gay student beaten by teacher's aide.

    Houston police are investigating the beating of a high school student by a teacher's aide. The student says was harassed because he is gay by the man throughout the school year, but could not believe it when the man physically assaulted him.

    "He would say negative gay things about me," the student told Houston television station KPRC Thursday night. The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the man, who is also an assistant coach, assaulted him in a classroom at Westbury High School.

    "He proceeded to wrap some plastic around his hand and wrapped it around my neck and pulled me up out of my desk and slammed me to the floor," said the student. "I'm terrified of that man."

    The student is recovering at home. X-rays showed that his arm has two hairline fractures.

    Friday, May 23, 9:12pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The States Fight Back. Even Alaska is passing anti-patriot act resolutions ...

    The state Legislature used some of the strongest language yet in passing a resolution condemning USA Patriot, following the lead of Hawaii and 112 cities, towns and counties around the country that have passed similar resolutions against the law.

    But Alaska's measure goes further than most, advising police and other state agencies not to "initiate, participate in, or assist or cooperate with an inquiry, investigation, surveillance or detention" if there is not "reasonable suspicion of criminal activity under Alaska State law."

    "We have a concern that [the Patriot Act] could be abused. The potential for abuse is too great," said Rep. David Guttenberg, a Democrat who co-sponsored the resolution. "America is an open state. There's a cost to that. Where are we willing to sacrifice for that? Guys are dying on the battlefield to protect our freedoms. It's up to us to protect those freedoms here at home."

    "We hope that a resolution like this, with the bipartisan support that it has, will urge Congress to re-examine the provisions of the USA Patriot Act that challenge the individual freedoms that make this country great," said Rep. John Coghill, a Republican from North Pole who co-sponsored the resolution. "If we sacrifice our freedom, we let terrorism win."

    Friday, May 23, 7:36am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    If you love secrecy in government, you'll love the new OMB Director, says ProTalion ...

    He's genetically predisposed to silence. Bolten, 48, is the son of a Seymour Bolton, a CIA agent who worked in covert espionage. Both Josh and his father were cozy with George H.W. Bush. Though Bolten is one of the most powerful policymakers in the world, he has said he likes his own life undercover and prefers not to do interviews.

    He is one of the closed-lips defendants named in the Dick Cheney secret energy task force lawsuit, filed by Judicial Watch ( The Bush administration refused to hand over documents that relate specifically to Cheney and Bolten, among others.

    Bolten already has experience doling out money, at least to corporate interests. He chaired the "Domestic Consequence Group," a blandly worded euphemism for the quiet economic crisis group in the White House which helped co-ordinate the $15 billion airline bailout in 2001.

    Not everyone is comfortable with him. An aide to Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA), who, under tremendous pressure from Bush, sold out the patients' bill of rights, claims that Bolten "screwed us over." According to the New Republic, the man who muscled Norwood into bashing patient's rights was none other than the hush-hush Joshua Bolten.

    According to the New Republic article (August 2001), Bolten is involved in almost every aspect of policy in the White House, and to some extent has superseded Mr. Bush's longtime adviser from Texas, Karl Rove. "The anonymous fourth man in the inner circle of Bush's staff, Bolten is far less well-known than [Chief of Staff] Andy Card, Karl Rove…but inside the White House, few doubt his importance," the magazine's Ryan Lizza writes. "The three spheres of White House policy-making - Margaret La Montagne's Domestic Policy Council, Larry Lindsey's National Economic Council, and Condoleezza Rice's National Security Council -- all report to him. Technically, Bolten is even Karl Rove's immediate superior. Since Bolten is the traffic cop for Bush's briefings, no policy matter comes before the president without his blessing.
    more ...

    Friday, May 23, 7:31am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Attack of the Drones!

    Ridges wants drones to patrol borders. AP:

    Unmanned aerial drones similar to ones used in the war on Iraq could be patrolling the U.S. border by the end of the year to help stem illegal immigration and increase security, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Thursday.

    "We are very serious in looking at UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) for both border applications, land and sea," Ridge told the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.

    Predators and other remote-controlled aircraft can watch over a potential target and fly for hundreds of miles with cameras, sensors, communications equipment or missiles.

    Support has grown for the unmanned aircraft since their success during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Friday, May 23, 7:27am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Texans are a silly people. Time Magazine:

    Back in Austin, bored Republicans spread out in the chamber with their feet on the antique furniture. Two of them brought their mitts and played a pretty impressive game of catch. There was also a Texas-size paper-wad fight. They designed milk-carton boxes with the faces of missing Democrats, created a WANTED poster with shots of the rebels, established a toll-free number for information on their whereabouts and made a deck of Iraq-inspired playing cards with pictures of the Democrats on them. They even used the state's public-safety website to run an all-points bulletin, a move the Democrats found offensive. Democrats got much more upset — Joe Lieberman asked for an investigation — by reports that Texas officials had asked the feds to help track lawmaker Pete Laney's plane. Outside the statehouse, Republican supporters dressed in chicken outfits accused the Dems of cowardice. On Wednesday, Republicans, unable to think of any new jokes, went home.

    Poolside at the Holiday Inn, things weren't much more exciting until a package arrived from Willie Nelson. Along with a note saying "Stand your ground," he sent red bandannas, T shirts and — sources tell TIME — Willie Nelson whiskey. The Dems then broke into a campfire-style sing-along of Merle Haggard's Okie from Muskogee from a second-floor balcony. A good time was had by all. At a press briefing that evening, legislator Jim McReynolds said, "We have not heard from Governor [Rick] Perry or Speaker [Tom] Craddick, but we have heard from the most powerful Texan of all, Willie Nelson."

    Friday, May 23, 2:39am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    OooooOOhh, that Jayson Blair ... The Onion notes:

    Friday, May 23, 2:29am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    But seriously, Steven Waldman of the Slate online thing asks if issue-deprived Democrats can take up spam?

    Given all this, you'd think Congress would have done something by now. While either political party can use spam to crusade for good values, Democrats have the added advantage of being able to attack the administration for failing to protect the little guy. There may even be a battling-the-special-interests angle. So, why haven't they pursued it? A recent article by Associated Press reporter David Ho explained the legislative inaction so far: "Congress has in the past been reluctant to crack down on spam, in part because of lobbying from retailers, marketing firms and others who use such e-mail for their businesses."

    Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation will be flummoxed by this one because the normal checks and balances of the marketplace are not working. Regular snail-mail junk mailers have to be somewhat discerning in targeting their material because they do have to pay for printing and mailing. E-mail, though, is virtually free to whip out; spammers have an economic incentive to send to every e-mail address they can get. If even a miniscule percentage respond, it's cost-effective.

    I admit the spam issue may seem a bit pedestrian compared to terrorism or unemployment. There probably won't be many single issue anti-spam voters. And candidates would certainly need to be careful not to overstate its importance. (Example: "Dick Gephardt will destroy al-Qaida—and spam. You can count on it.")

    But this is one of those ideas, akin to Clinton's use of improved child-support collection, that send a signal that the candidate is attentive to the concerns of ordinary Americans. One of the differences between Al Gore's approach and Clinton's was that Gore didn't have a stable of issues that enabled him to wax red-state about cultural values.
    Fine by me if the Dems take it up, though I fear the Al Gore - Internet jokes I'll have to sit through.

    Friday, May 23, 2:28am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Bush team to seek reversal of American Idol vote at Supreme Court

    President Bush: "While it warms the hell out of my cockles to think that a fat black man would be the nation's choice, we all know that this result was possible only after some election hanky-panky by his supporters."

    WASHINGTON -- As the nation reacts to Wednesday's outcome of the annual American Idol election, which named Ruben Studdard as the unofficial winner, Bush administration officials are planning to contest the results with a combination of swift legal work alongside a massive public relations blitz.

    According to officials, a FOX affiliate in Palm Beach, FL had called the American Idol election for Mr. Aiken before a different result was broadcast nationally. Republicans are citing this as a main reason for their concerns, and discount today's reports that a cousin of Clay Aiken forced the FOX channel to announce the unverified result in their favor.

    Friday, May 23, 2:25am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Department of Homeland Security Gets Tough; Deputizes Real Mean Dog

    WASHINGTON, DC—Unveiling its newest weapon in the fight against terrorism Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced the deputization of Rufus, a big ol' mongrel ornery enough to make Al Qaeda think twice about carrying out an attack against the U.S.

    "Rufus here has one wild hair up his ass 'bout most everything," said Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, as he introduced the dog, a Rottweiler-pitbull-Doberman mix, to the White House press corps. "But I got a feelin' Rufus has a 'specially wild hair to fetch him up some of them Ay-rab terrorist types."

    "Don't you, boy?" added Ridge, yanking hard on Rufus' choke chain as the dog barked and jumped to nip at his face. "Huh? I said don't you, boy? Hell, yeah!"

    Attorney General John Ashcroft applauded the announcement, praising Rufus for his commitment to fighting terror, as well as for his unswerving loyalty to Ridge.

    "No one can touch Rufus 'ceptin' Tom," Ashcroft said. "He plumb loves Tom. And he don't always growl at me no more since I done okayed his appointment and give him scraps of my beef jerky. But I sure as hell ain't goin' to try and pet him, on account of I need that hand to wipe my ass."
    Oh, it's from The Onion.

    Friday, May 23, 2:21am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Hamster Entertainment: Spears Gear on Block for Charity Auction; Hananoki Bemoans Lack of Bank Account Funds, Poor Performance of Lucent Technology Stock.

    Friday, May 23, 2:01am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Spongenapped! Honolulu Star Bulletin!

    In the dark early morning hours Tuesday, an unknown person or persons stole a 6-foot sculpture of SpongeBob SquarePants, the jellybean-yellow cartoon character with the toothy grin, from the front yard of a home in Lanikai.

    Posters have gone up throughout the Aalapapa Drive community offering a reward for information leading to the return "in one piece" of the neighborhood icon who wore a jaunty Santa hat at Christmas, a yarmulke at Hanukkah and giant bunny ears at Easter.

    Neighbors are saddened and incredulous at the theft of the huge likeness of the popular Nickelodeon TV show character.

    "It's all very sad," said Helen Bains-Jordan. "No one complained about him. He always had that happy toothy grin. People and even buses of tourists would stop to have their picture taken with him."
    I'm looking at YOU, Kyle Williams ...

    Thursday, May 22, 10:59pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Caveat Emptor! Altercation warns about those cheapos at the National Review Online ...

    Jonah Goldberg, (who had to forfeit his security deposit when he was the tenant in the Dupont Circle apartment I used to own), terms me "hard left" in NRO. Well, that's a funny comment about someone who spends so much time — and gets so much crap — for ceaselessly attacking Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Alexander Cockburn, to say nothing of my most recent blasphemy in re: John Fund. (For more, see Pierce below.)

    I am not going to call Jonah any names, but I would like to point out that NRO has promised now four times to pay me the lousy $100 (plus the fleece sweatshirt) they owe me for participating in a silly online debate with Brent Bozell that Jack Shafer read and attacked instead of bothering to look at my book. [Hey Slate, you know Sid Blumenthal has a new book out?] Anyway, I'm still waiting for the check. Is this how Buckley got so rich?

    And while I'm on the topic, I once paid for an NR subscription and the pen it came with never worked. I still have it. I want a new one. And when I went on the NR cruise with Milton Friedman and Bill Buckley and Bob Novak, etc., which you can read about in here, the watch I bought onboard broke about a month later and proved unfixable.

    What's the moral? Conservatives are untrustworthy when it comes to money. Just look at the Bush budget. (Jonah's article is full of it in lots of other ways too, but I imagine that goes without saying.)

    And speaking of cruises, what's this with TNR's first ever cruise? All you get is a few of their editors. Jeez, people are going to pay for that? On The Nation cruise, which is fast selling out, they tell me, you not only get the editors and columnists — no Stalinists this time — you also get Frank McCourt, Bud Trillin, Molly Ivins and Amos Elon, and probably someone I'm forgetting. And don't get nasty, TNRers, or I'll publish the circulation figures again.
    As the North Korean despot Kim Jong Il would say, "ROR. raff out round!"

    Thursday, May 22, 10:31pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    I guess I can't get too sad about the state of Florida itself since Floridians elected Jeb Bush over a reasonable and competent Janet Reno, but I feel sorry for the 40ish% that realized Jebby is an awful person and awful governor, and had no power to kick him out.

    Cleanup delayed: Gov. Bush's signature impair Everglades' recovery chances
    The Stuart News
    HamsterChatter: "Would you buy a new car knowing it had problems, then tell your mechanic to fix it? Apparently, Gov. Jeb Bush would. The governor has signed a law he says is flawed — a law dealing with the cleanup of the Florida Everglades. But he said he'll ask the state Legislature to fix the flaws "

    Everglades action leaves all red-eyed
    HamsterChatter: "Through it all, an army of lobbyists for the sugar industry - more than one per senator - has prowled the halls. They say the law needs to be changed so they will have more certainty about what's expected of them during the cleanup. Originally, they wanted to delay a key cleanup deadline by 20 years, but the Legislature wouldn't go along. Wednesday night, after the new Everglades bill came up for debate in the Senate, only two environmental lobbyists were left at the Capitol, red-eyed and exhausted after another day of defeat. Lawmakers and sugar industry lobbyists have disparaged the environmentalists for being impossible to satisfy. The environmentalists say, over and over, that they don't like the bill. Looming over it all is Washington "

    Jeb Bush's Everglades law dismays activists
    HamsterChatter: "In its 2002 post-election wrap-up, the Florida Audubon Society wrote that the re-election of Jeb Bush as Florida's governor was "good news for the Everglades", the world-famous, environmentally unique, 4,500-square-mile river marsh in southern Florida. Mr Bush said "all the right things about protecting the Everglades", an Audubon spokesman says. But, he adds, "that was then". On Tuesday, Mr Bush signed a controversial state law that critics have charged could destroy a federal-state plan to restore the marshlands "

    Jeb Bush uses disabled woman as agenda's pawn
    Susan Estrich
    HamsterChatter: "Under Roe vs. Wade, a woman has a right to privacy. It belongs to her — not her husband or her fetus. She should not lose that right because she is disabled. That is why we have guardians. Instead of appointing one to protect her last Wednesday, as he should have done, the judge left JDS as a pawn of the state, which has failed to protect her. It is as if her disability has rendered her less than human. "Given the facts of this case, it is entirely appropriate that an advocate be appointed to represent the unborn child's best interests in all decisions," Bush said last Tuesday in a statement. The facts of this case are that the state has failed once in its duty to this woman. Now it is failing her again. Shame on Jeb Bush for using a woman who cannot protect herself to send a message to his anti-abortion supporters "

    Thursday, May 22, 10:31pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Navy admits burning 600,000 gallons of radioactive fuel at S.F. shipyard. SF Weekly:

    With little fanfare, U.S. Navy officials in charge of cleaning up the Hunters Point Shipyard acknowledged last week that Navy personnel had burned large amounts of fuel contaminated with radioactive material in the shipyard's boilers 56 years ago.

    In its announcement, the Navy contended that the burning of more than 600,000 gallons of fuel oil containing traces of plutonium and other radioactive materials caused no harm to the environment or to people. But the Navy did not make clear how it determined there had been no harm.

    Navy officials declined comment on the announcement, which was included in a fact sheet given to members of the Hunters Point community.

    But representatives of federal environmental and health agencies said the revelation should prompt new radiation surveys in and around the shipyard. And residents of the Hunters Point and Bayview neighborhoods near the former shipyard -- an area long plagued with health problems -- expressed concern about the Navy's disclosure, which comes after years of environmental cleanup at the shipyard and more than 50 years after the burning in question.

    Thursday, May 22, 10:29pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Boeing continues to push the envelope of taxpayer largesse. . Seattle Weekly:

    ETHICS HAVE BEEN KNOWN to go into a stall at the Boeing Co. Last week it was a nosedive. Pentagon officials said the company has agreed to knock another $900 million off the deal for 100 new military refueling tankers, caving to the pressure of critics who think Boeing's price was a taxpayer rip-off. At the same time, the National Legal and Policy Center, a D.C. group promoting honesty in government, called for the rescinding of an award just given to Boeing Chairman Phil Condit in the wake of a criminal investigation into Boeing's alleged theft of documents from a defense competitor. And then there was that Forbes magazine list of best and worst bosses ranking Condit among the worst, giving him an F for making a $1.5 million annual salary plus gobs more in compensation while his stockholders get annual negative returns.

    Thursday, May 22, 10:25pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Time Magazine says the upcoming fight over the Supreme Court may come from the President and his base, not Democrats vs. Republicans (as has been happening now) ...

    Among the many names floated for the post, no candidate has the President's trust like Gonzales. But the irony is that Bush may have a harder time selling his first choice to his allies than to his antagonists. Democrats, who are locked in a pitched battle with the White House over lower-court nominations, would find it tough to block the first Hispanic nominee to the high court, who has a short and unrevealing record on the bench. They might give him a hard time as payback for his treatment of them while he was White House counsel, but a rejection would play badly with Hispanic voters, whom the Democrats are eager to court.

    For conservative Republicans, however, Gonzales is not even on the top10 list. They crave a Justice who is strict and outspoken on core conservative issues, namely abortion and affirmative action, and for them Gonzales is too much of a cipher, perhaps too moderate. "To Bush's core constituency," says Phyllis Schlafly, president of the conservative action group the Eagle Forum, "the appointment to the Supreme Court ranks as the No. 1 issue that they care about. Bush went through the campaign saying his favorite Justices were [Antonin] Scalia and [Clarence] Thomas. We are not going to put up with another [David] Souter." Bush the elder's first Supreme Court pick was Souter, and the fact that he has turned out to be a more liberal Justice than anyone expected deeply upsets conservatives.

    Thursday, May 22, 4:51pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    I'm not surprised that Christie Todd Whitman resigned yesterday as EPA head. From the start, Bush proclaimed his connection to big-business, and any president who professes a love for free-market capitalism and a disdain for global warming science is going to have a rough time with the EPA. I actually feel sorry for Whitman, because I believe that she sincerely cares about the environment. And there are some things that she's done correctly with regards to it: diesel exhaust rules … actually, that's about all that I can think of.

    The problem with the EPA now, and the problem that will continue to exist for another 5 years if Bush is not kicked out, is the people who are writing environmental legislation and enforcing current and existing regulations are not from an environmental background and thus, their priority isn't the environment. It's business.

    Take for example the Bush administration's recent Clear Skies pollution proposal, which claims to reduce pollution over the next decade (it does not). In order to calculate the costs of regulations, the Clear Skies proposal uses a cost-benefit analysis that values the life of a senior citizen (someone over the age of 70) at 37% less than that of a younger person. In other words, if you're older, you're considered more expendable under the Clear Skies proposal. This cost-benefit analysis is used to determine whether or not a regulation should be put into place, given the costs of the regulation against the benefits (value of the lives saved). You see, pollution prematurely kills thousands of people every year due to asthma, clogged lungs, etc. However, the kicker was Whitman said that her EPA didn't come up with the proposal; it was actually OMB and the White House that came up with this reprehensible cost-benefit analysis, aptly named the "senior death discount." In other words, the people writing an important plank of Clear Skies were people who cared more about bottom line economics than the environment and health.

    Telling of the subversion of the EPA is Whitman herself. As many inside the environmental community have noted, Whitman less and less frequently appeared at press conferences announcing certain regulatory changes and decisions, deciding instead to let departmental spokesmen do the talking. Whitman had an increased frustration – she knew what was right, and that helping the environment should be the priority of an agency that's called the ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Agency, but continually felt like a second tiered administrator to other department heads, such as OMB, Defense, Treasury or Transportation.

    All of this points to a basic fact: the Bush administration is more concerned about the lives of a select, elite few in this country. It does not believe in directly helping the majority of this country, it does not believe in the public good or interest, and it does not believe in the environment. The Bush administration is an administration that believes in voodoo science; that by directly helping the most powerful and wealthy, this patronage will somehow trickle down to the rest of us, the people who are being shafted by the federal government and Republican Party. The Bush administration believes that when we help corporations and big business, this patronage will trickle down to the environment through fair and eco-sensitive business practices.

    For those in the real world, though, it's not so simple. American corporations are businesses, and their number one priority is to their stockholders and paychecks. No reasonable person should get mad at businesses for doing what they're supposed to do: make money. To get mad at business for exploiting the environment and putting money over the public interest is like getting mad at a fish for swimming; corporations are what they are, and that's why we need government regulations, to control the natural tendency of business to pursue their own self-interest.

    Hence, I offer these suggestions to the Bush administration if they want to improve their environmental image:

    1) Hire people from an environmental background. The next EPA chief will come under a great deal of scrutiny, and rightfully so. The next person to head the Environmental PROTECTION Agency should be someone who has actually helped protect the environment, not someone who has tried to subvert it for his or her own lobbying paycheck. The Clinton administration appointed Carol Browner, a champion of the environment. When considering the next administrator, the Bush administration should look to someone who understands the concerns of the people, not business lobbying interests.

    2) Cut one-sided consulting from the regulation process. It's natural for government agencies and the bureaucracy to look to lobbying interests for help in writing rules and regulations. All presidential administrations have done this. The problem is when government relies only on one side of the equation; such a process subverts the democratic system and pluralism in government, favoring instead one-sided moneyed interests. This is exactly what happened with Dick Cheney and his energy writing panel. Instead of consulting with environmental groups like The Sierra Club, PIRG, NRDC or League of Conservation Voters, Cheney consulted only with his energy friends. Environmental interest groups are a representation of voters. From the middle of the road (Sierra Club) to the far left (Greenpeace), these groups need to be taken seriously, and even more seriously than business interests, because they have an understanding and stake in the environment's future. The Bush administration needs to start listening to both sides of the debate, not just its energy friends.

    3) Push proposals that will cut pollution now. The Clear Skies proposal is a sham, and anyone with half a brain knows it. For more information, see this report from NRDC. While it is laudable that the Bush administration is putting money into hybrid cars, it distracts from the fact that right now cars are polluting at unacceptable amounts, and this in turn is leading to more smog days and unhealthy levels of pollution. It has been said that even if we were to institute clean and non-polluting cars now, it would still take ten years to reach healthy air standards, since cars have an average life span of ten years. Thus, simply researching hybrid cars does nothing for this country in the near future. The Bush administration needs to push higher CAFÉ standards for cars and light trucks now, especially SUVS and get tough on Detroit.

    4) Don't treat regulations and global warming as a dirty word. While such rhetoric may play to the conservative wing of the party, history has shown government environmental regulation has worked, and will continue to work if instituted correctly. The Republican Party has traditionally been a proponent of the environment, from Teddy Roosevelt to Bush the Elder's signing of the Clean Air Act. The Bush administration needs to remember its roots and help the environment, not its pocketbooks. Further, Bush needs to come to the same conclusion of hundreds of Nobel-winning scientists that global warming is real and dangerous.

    Thursday, May 22, 4:31pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The thing that I thought was going to take up most of the day only ended up taking an hour, so I'm back at the computer ... I might go out later in the day, so I'm not sure if many updates will be forthcoming. I wonder, though, how long will it be before conservatives start saying that Ruben from American Idol is a product of racial preferences?

    Wed, May 21, 11:01pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Check out my new webpage ... ... a revamp of a fan page I've had since 7th grade. Okey dokey, I'm out for the night. ----- Eric.

    Wed, May 21, 7:27pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Reebok offers High Schooler LeBron James more than $75 million ...

    Whew, and I thought getting that $10 / hour job out of the first year of college was a big thing. I am, though, still waiting on my modeling contract from ShopNetDaily ...

    Wed, May 21, 6:57pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Greg Beato over at has this update on the Danny Glover situation ...

    On Thursday, May 15th, Joe Scarborough told his viewers that they'd successfully coerced MCI into dropping Danny Glover as a commercial spokesperson. Here's the complete transcript of the show. It includes the following passages:

    You reached out and touched MCI, and other corporate heads listened. After two weeks of claiming that [Danny] Glover's ads were some of the most popular ever aired by MCI, we received an e-mail today announcing that MCI would no longer be using Danny Glover as its spokesman. Because of your calls, Danny Glover is being held accountable for his comments.


    But today, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY received this e-mail from MCI. "The previous advertising campaign ended two weeks ago. It's time for MSNBC to update its files and to stop encouraging viewers to harass and disparage MCI employees. As I mentioned to you on the phone, enough is enough."
    More ...

    Wed, May 21, 6:52pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Matthew Rothschild on the "The New McCarthyism"

    Donna Huanca works as a docent at the Art Car Museum, an avant-garde gallery in Houston. Around 10:30 on the morning of November 7, before she opened the museum, two men wearing suits and carrying leather portfolios came to her door.

    "I told them to wait until we opened at 11:00," she recalls. "Then they pulled their badges out."

    The two men were Terrence Donahue of the FBI and Steven Smith of the Secret Service.

    "They said they had several reports of anti-American activity going on here and wanted to see the exhibit," she says. The museum was running a show called "Secret Wars," which contains many anti-war statements that were commissioned before September 11.

    "They just walked in, so I went through with them and gave them a very detailed tour. I asked them if they were familiar with the artists and what the role of art was at a critical time like this," she says. "They were more interested in where the artists were from. They were taking some notes. They were pointing out things that they thought were negative, like a recent painting by Lynn Randolph of the Houston skyline burning, and a devil dancing around, and with George Bush Sr. in the belly of the devil."

    There was a surreal moment when they inspected another element of the exhibit. "We had a piece in the middle of the room, a mock surveillance camera pointed to the door of the museum, and they wondered whether they were being recorded," she says.

    Wed, May 21, 6:48pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Emily Figdor and Navin Nayak of USPirg on another White House abuse, this time in a House transportation bill.

    Americans will face more air pollution, more traffic, and fewer public transportation options under the six-year transportation plan unveiled today by the Bush administration. Rather than investing in a cleaner, more efficient transportation system, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 (dubbed "SAFETEA") would weaken clean air and natural resource protections, smother public transit growth, and erode public participation in transportation planning.

    Nearly half of all Americans already live in areas where the air is unsafe to breathe. Yet, the Bush administration's proposal would undermine existing clean air protections, which would mean more asthma attacks, more heart disease, and more premature deaths.

    Cars and trucks remain a leading source of air pollution, contributing to health problems ranging from childhood asthma attacks to premature deaths from heart and lung disease. The Bush administration's proposal would weaken Clean Air Act protections that prevent transportation activities from worsening air quality in areas already plagued by air pollution. The proposal would also cut crucial funding for transportation projects that improve air quality by 20 percent in fiscal year 2004, increasing funding for the program by only nine percent over the bill's six years.

    America is at a transportation policy crossroads. Unfortunately, by weakening clean air and natural resource protections and ignoring public transit, the Bush administration has taken a turn for the worse.

    Wed, May 21, 6:47pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    People for the American Way, one of the Hamster's favorites, urges Congress to protect privacy :

    Much concern on the right has also focused on TIA's high risk of misuse. Even if the system is not deliberately abused, simple arithmetic suggests that the number of Americans falsely implicated as potential terrorists could be staggering. Some calculations show that an error rate as negligible as a tenth of a percent could result in upwards of 30,000 innocent Americans being investigated as terrorists.

    "The privacy of thousands of Americans is too high a price to pay for TIA's unproven value," said Elliot Mincberg, vice president and legal director of People For the American Way. "Congressional oversight, from requiring this report to conducting ongoing hearings, is absolutely necessary. We should not be sacrificing our freedom under the guise of protecting it."

    If TIA's power, however, is used to deliberately grind political axes, the implications could be catastrophic for civil liberties, say many on the right and the left.

    "TIA is a blueprint for unlimited government. Regardless of who proposes this or any other comparable expansion of government power, our deep suspicions will remain. The proponents of TIA shouldn't expect to satisfy us once and for all by issuing this report. We're going to watch them as closely as they intend to watch us," said Grover Norquist, President of Americans For Tax Reform. "Expansive government power doesn't go by ideological litmus tests in its suppression of our rights."

    Notably, the Pentagon's report also does not go far enough in answering the question laid out in a separate document put together by the ACLU earlier this week detailing information that must be disclosed before the Pentagon can be seen to be in compliance with the demands of the Wyden amendment.

    "Still no one has addressed the issue of data quality," said Lisa Dean, Vice President of Technology Policy at Free Congress Foundation. "If TIA is relying on personal information contained in databases to determine whether someone is a suspect, what recourse does the person have whose information has been entered incorrectly? They would be labeled a suspect by an all-knowing system that made a mistake in what it knows."

    Questions not answered in the Pentagon report include: how can TIA be effective with such a high false positive rate deflecting scrutiny away from real terrorists? Whether current technology is up to the task demanded of TIA? Will TIA mirror the evolution of other bureaucracies and drastically outpace its initial mandate -- eating up more and more resources and furthering the systematic surveillance of everyday Americans?

    Wed, May 21, 6:45pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Matt Bivens writes in The Nation online ...

    As Florida's 2003 legislative session ended last week, The St. Petersburg Times reported, "lobbyists for business and agriculture left the Capitol smiling: Some of their key bills passed quickly with almost no debate on the session's final day." Suddenly local governments were on verge of losing the power to regulate agriculture; boaters were being favored over manatees; citizens were to be prevented from suing when dry cleaning chemicals were dumped in their backyards; and plans to clean up the famed Everglades were in peril. All in a day's work.

    The Florida chapter of the Sierra Club and other enviros were left to place their hopes on the wisdom of our president's brother. Governor Jeb Bush promptly let them down, signing into law a sugar-industry-backed bill to undercut the 1994 Everglades Forever Act, a Clinton-era deal to unite state and federal resources to save Florida's famed "river of grass". (For an excellent Washington Post series about the clean-up project, click here.) Now even Florida Republicans are irked, because the federal funding to save the 'glades may be imperiled by Jeb Bush's new law. Governor Bush has moved the 2006 deadline for the cleanup back by seven years –- provoking hoots of derision that it's the "Everglades Whenever Act". It also sternly orders Florida's sugar daddies to restore the Everglades at the "earliest practicable date" (i.e., "whenever") by reducing pollutants to the "maximum extent practicable" (as in "whatever").

    Wed, May 21, 10:35am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Happy birthday to my bud, Al Franken! Send Al a happy birthday email here. Al is a young 52 years old. And, of course, here's a dose of Franken ...

    White House Correspondants Dinner, 1994

    OK, that's the last time I trust Tipper's judgment. But I admire the Vice President tremendously. I mean his advocacy of the Information Superhighway. Which again means different things to different people. To Al Gore it means unemployed aerospace workers accessing a video classroom to retrain themselves for the conversion from a cold war economy to an information economy. To Clarence Thomas it means twenty-four hour a day pornography.

    Actually, that's why instead of the Information Superhighway, I call it the Infotainment Superhighway. Because let's face it, we live in an era where the wall between news and entertainment has been eaten away like the cartilage in David Crosby's septum. OK, that's not really fair. Because mainly he free-based. But the point is still the same.

    Is Strom Thurmond here? Because I was kinda hoping the C-SPAN cameras could get a shot of Howell Heflin explaining that joke to Strom. But I like Strom. Mainly because he's the only Senator who still refers to a microphone as "the machine."

    But it is truly the Infotainment Superhighway, and most of here in the media are what I call "infotainers." Connie Chung is an info- tainer. Maybe more info than tainer, Her husband is more tainer than info. Rush Limbaugh is a dis-infotainer. He's very entertaining while he spreads disinformation.

    And the Infotainment Superhighway needs constant feeding. Especially with things like scandal. And that's what all this Whitewater stuff is about. Sex is always good. Remember a couple years ago when Wilt Chamberlain revealed that he had had over 20,000 sexual encounters. Remember how much play that piece of information got? Actually, I've kept track of my sexual encounters. (proudly) 217. (beat) All with my wife. Not bad. Considering we've been married eighteen years. Are you with me fellas?

    And, of course, now we have the Chuck Robb thing. Where he admitted having sex with women other than his wife. I guess what bugged me is that he says he never lied in the past. That he always said, "I never slept with another woman." I mean I slept with a woman this morning on the Metroliner.

    Of course, Robb may well be running against Ollie North. Reagan, of course, sent that letter saying that North was a liar. North's response to that was..."yeh?" And North has given a pretty compelling reason why he'd make a good senator. He says that if he was serving on a committee and a witness was lying during a hearing, that he could tell.

    Tuesday, May 20, 6:35pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Ian Williams on "Operation Desert Mirage: Americans may have already forgotten about weapons of mass destruction, but the United Nations hasn't—and it's demanding answers

    Faith moves mountains, hides weapons, and makes oil flow. At the beginning of May, the new viceroy of Iraq, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who seems to have recently resumed his military title, announced that the shortage of gasoline in Iraq was the United Nations' fault. He said that continuing U.N. sanctions stopped supplies to the pumps in Baghdad.

    Of course, until then, most of us not schooled in the new Republican reality had assumed that the purpose of U.N. sanctions was to stop Iraq exporting oil except under strictly regulated circumstances. So if the U.N. Oil for Food program was struggling to get moving again, this meant that there was less oil being exported, which should mean that there was more oil left behind in Iraq. But reality shimmers like a mirage in the growing desert heat. It is always the United Nations' fault.

    Anyone else but this administration would blush when faced with the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But it was fairly obvious that the White House was only kidding when it used that as the excuse to the United Nations for the invasion. Now, they genuinely seem unembarrassed when they ask the Security Council to give validation to their conquest, which was allegedly carried out in support of the United Nations, in search of weapons that they alleged were definitely there, and which the allegedly conniving and inefficient U.N. weapons inspectors willfully would not find.

    Or maybe the invasion was to force the Iraqis to cooperate properly with the weapons inspectors. Certainly Washington is now refusing to let the weapons inspectors return to Iraq—possibly because they had proved their inefficiency by not finding the weapons that a quarter of a million heavily armed allies have also failed to find. Even the British at the United Nations agree that no one will believe an allied "discovery" of weapons in Iraq unless it is koshered by U.N. inspectors. When Bush says the weapons "will be found," it does sound almost as much like an order as a prophecy.

    But then, no one has found Osama bin Laden in Baghdad; indeed, they cannot find Saddam Hussein in Baghdad either. If ordinary Fox News viewers scratched their medium-term memory, this could worry them, since this was part of the war against terrorism and payback time for 9/11.

    Tuesday, May 20, 6:25pm

    permanent link | -Eric. has an update on the upcoming Michael Moore story ...

    Its about the Bush family, their extensive connection with the Bin Laden family and the environment within the USA post Sept 11. He has footage of the Bush family dining with the Bin Laden family. It elaborates on the business relationship between the families that has existed for many years. It explores how a Saudi charter plane travelled the US immediately after Sept 11 and how the FBI were pissed that they couldn't interrogate its Bin Laden passengers as they were ferried to Paris. It looks at the way in which the government used the events of Sept 11 to push their own agendas.

    Moore expalined that since COLUMBINE and its appearance at the Oscars he receives 6,000 pieces of fan mail a day and gets given pieces of footage that he can't talk about now but will make this perhaps the most incendiary documentary of all time. In his words 'If I don't make this, I may as well stick my head in the sand like everybody else."

    During question time one audience member questioned his ability to finish the film, to which his answer was "Any attempt to stop it will just create more interest." He also said he would explore the reasons as to why Blair put his arse on the line to support Bush and make a film that is funnier and more shocking than COLUMBINE.

    Thus began the distributor buying frenzy. FARENHEIT 9-11: THE TEMPERATURE AT WHICH TRUTH BURNS will be ready for Cannes next year and release Sept in North America (prior to the elections I'm told). Prior to the briefing all were screened and told not to release to media. As I consider you a geek and not media I feel at ease.

    Tuesday, May 20, 6:25pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Vermont's Bernie Sanders to debut radio show ...

    Vermont's lone congressman, Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., has never been shy about offering an opinion on any subject, whether it's corporate control of the media or the influence of campaign contributions on politics.

    Now he'll find out if there's a market for those opinions.

    On Monday, Sanders went on the air for the first time as the host of a weekly talk radio program on WDEV radio, AM 550 and FM 96.1, a central Vermont fixture in the news-talk-sports radio world.

    "What I am trying to do here, in a sense, is to plant a seed that says that talk radio does not just belong to the extreme right wing," Sanders said in an interview moments before the debut of "The Bernie Sanders Show."

    Sanders said the format of the hour-long show, scheduled for 1 p.m. on Mondays, is a "work in progress," but his first guest set the tone: author Eric Alterman, a critic of the corporate control of media and consolidation in the industry.

    Tuesday, May 20, 6:23pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Phillip Carter in the Washington Monthly on the so-called peace...

    Things have not gotten much better over the following weeks. Lawlessness and chaos continue to reign. Women are raped, law-abiding citizens have their property stolen, those who have anything left don't go to work so they can guard what they still have. The prize the United States sacrificed so much to gain--freeing Iraq from Saddam and clearing the way for its democratic rebirth--is being squandered on the ground as ordinary Iraqis come to equate the American presence with violent lawlessness and immorality, and grasping mullahs rush into the vacuum created by our lack of troops. Mass grave sites, with no troops to secure them, have been unearthed by Iraqis desperate to find remnants of relatives killed by Saddam Hussein's regime, but those same Iraqis, digging quickly and roughly, may have inadvertently destroyed valuable evidence of human rights violations and crippled the ability of prosecutors to bring war criminals to justice. Perhaps worst of all, the prime objective of the entire invasion--to secure and eliminate Saddam's weapons of mass destruction capacity--has been dealt a serious blow. Even Iraq's publicly known nuclear sites had been thoroughly looted before American inspectors arrived, because, once more, not enough troops had been available to secure them. Radioactive material, perhaps enough to make several "dirty bombs," has now disappeared into anonymous Iraqi homes, perhaps awaiting purchase by terrorists. Critical records detailing the history and scope of the WMD program have themselves been looted from suspected weapons sites because too few soldiers were available to guard those places. "There aren't enough troops in the whole Army," said Col. Tim Madere, the officer overseeing the WMD effort in Iraq, in a recent interview with Newsweek. Farce vied with disaster when the inspectors' own headquarters were looted for lack of adequate security. Triumph on the battlefield has yielded to tragedy in the streets.

    "What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee: Have at thee, coward!"

    Tuesday, May 20, 4:46pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Jimmy Breslin says Florida's Bob Graham will win it all:

    And so last January he called and said that Graham was going to win. Not just the Democratic nomination. But win everything.

    "He's straight-forward. A good administrator. He voted against Ashcroft so we all won't be put in jail. He voted against the phony war. It's falling apart. The terrorism, Bush hasn't done a thing. Whatever happened to bin Laden? Bush was posing like a sheriff. 'I'm going to get him dead or alive. Smoke him out.' Where is bin Laden?"

    I listened and read and put a line in this column on Jan. 21 that Graham was going to be the next president. That was before anybody even knew his name.

    At the Harvard Club yesterday, Graham spoke to a full room. A lot of the questions were about health issues. We must write about this later, and in careful detail. The first thing I noticed is that he happened to be sane. If you see this Bush in a crazed pose on an aircraft carrier, or Rumsfeld imitating a savage, Graham gets a vote by standing there as a reasonable, rational politician.

    He said one of his issues is electability. "To win, a candidate has to be a centrist and have executive experience. Four of the last five presidents were governors. I was governor of Florida for eight years."

    I despise centrists. I don't trust anybody south of Newark, N.J. And I know that another four years of these Bush people will put you in more oppression than ever seen and catastrophic violence abroad. Graham is my choice.

    Graham was the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and they put out a large report on the World Trade Center bombing. The administration hasn't declassified it for the public. They read 150 pages a month. "They don't want to release it," Graham said. "I use the word coverup."
    My biggest fear if Bob Graham makes traction in the Dem primaries is this may be the next Florida senator ...

    And hey, what's up with this picture?

    Window dressing, indeed.

    Tuesday, May 20, 4:40pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Dean the Moderate? Many say, waaaah? AP / Union Leader has this story:

    Howard Dean may be many things, say those who worked with him over nearly a dozen years as Vermont governor, but an elitist liberal is hardly one of them.

    He's actually a lot more moderate - many would say conservative - than the reputation he's built during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    Many of the people who were his allies and adversaries in Montpelier over his 20-year political career have been quietly bemused by the liberal persona he's built as he campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire, especially through his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq.

    But when the leaders of the Democratic Leadership Council dismissed him last week as an elitist liberal in the mold of unsuccessful Democratic presidential nominees Sen. George McGovern in 1972 and Sen. Walter Mondale in 1984, some of Dean's Vermont colleagues decided they'd had enough.

    "I don't think Howard Dean is the right target for that attack if you look at his record here in Vermont," said Eric Davis, Middlebury College political scientist. Dean kept his distance from his party's liberals during his governorship.
    Dean all along has been saying he's not 'liberal.' If anything, the reason why Dean has had a hard time shedding his 'liberal' tag is not only because of his anti-war views but because he hasn't been whoring himself to the Republicans like some Democrats, e.g. Joe Lieberman. Solidarity with the party can often equate a politician with being ideologically extreme, which isn't always the case.

    Tuesday, May 20, 4:34pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The NY Post has stolen a story from, of all places, The National Enquirer. Will the Fox News all-stars criticize their sister publication?

    After writing gleefully about The New York Times' Jayson Blair scandal, the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid admitted yesterday that it published a plagiarized piece last week.

    The Post identified its bad boy as Robin Gregg, a freelancer who the paper's brass said 'fessed up to stealing a story from that paragon of journalism the National Enquirer. Some would call that a perfect fit for the fact-challenged Post.

    The purloined piece dealt with the relationship between Kathie Lee Gifford and Wal-Mart, which sells her sportswear, and appeared in the daily's May 15 edition.

    Gregg admitted he stole the story - almost word for word - and never told his editor where it came from, the Post said in a statement that it issued in response to questions.
    Beware of future stories in the NY Post abot the 3 headed baby born in West Virginia and the 900 pound man marrying the Hooters waitress.

    Tuesday, May 20, 4:30pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    From Talk Left, and Eric Muller, we find that the California Assembly unanimously (70-0) called for Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) to resign his position as chair of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. Coble isn't from Cali, so I'm not sure how much weight this will pull. However, it is worth noting that REPUBLICANS voted against Coble.

    Tuesday, May 20, 8:22am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Tuesday, May 20, 5:42am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    I mentioned this a while ago, but it's a little ironic that next summer the people who will be scaring America about global warming won't be NRDC or The Sierra Club but Fox. Yes, Fox. I was scanning Greg Dean Schmitz's and came upon the preview site for "The Day After Tomorrow," a obviously anti-global warming movie with this plot:

    This movie takes a big-budget, special-effects-filled look at what the world would look like if the greenhouse effect and global warming continued at such levels that they resulted in worldwide catastrophe and disaster, including multiple hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes (I don't quite get the science of that one), tidal waves, floods and the beginning of the next Ice Age. At the center of the story is a paleoclimatologist (a scientist who studies the ways weather patterns changed in the past), Professor Adrian Hall (Quaid), who tries to save the world from the effects of global warming while also trying to get to his son, Sam (Gyllenhaal), who was in New York City as part of a scholastic competition, when the city was overwhelmed by the chilling beginnings of the new Ice Age. In addition to all of the other challenges Dr. Hall faces, he's also going against the flow as humanity races south to warmer climes, and he's nearly the only one going north... (Rossum plays another student, and Gyllenhaal's romantic interest; Ward plays Quaid's wife and Gyllenhaal's mother; Serrano plays Quaid's boss)
    So three cheers for Fox and Rupert Murdoch.

    Tuesday, May 20, 12:22am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The Bush administration is rolling back decades of forest protections. Writes Martha Ezzard:

    "The whack 'em and hack 'em crowd is back in control," says Southeast Wilderness Society senior consultant Butch Clay, bemoaning the U.S. Forest Service's about-face on conservation in the Southern Appalachians' fragile national forests. Clay rafts mountain rivers as if he were born on the water.

    When the Bush administration installed former timber lobbyist Mark Rey to oversee the Forest Service, logging and mining took precedence again over conservation values. It's as if the science confirming the relationship of old-growth trees and mountain springs to preservation of rare species and drinking water resources were out the window.

    The story of forest planning in Georgia is the story of every state in the Southeast. For the past seven years, 70 community organizations have worked with Chattahoochee National Forest officials on a new forest plan, mandated by federal law every eight to 10 years. Passed during the Carter administration, the National Forest Management Planning Act was designed to give Americans a voice in how their lands should be used. The idea was to accommodate interests as diverse as off-road vehicle users, hunters, fishing enthusiasts and backpackers.

    Until recently, there was agreement on protecting roadless acres, preserving two additional wilderness areas and protecting two fragile river corridors. But late last year, Forest Service officials went behind closed doors and eliminated proposed wilderness and river protections that were the result of years of collaboration.

    Monday, May 19, 10:05pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The NY Times reports this, which is bound to give conservatives a hard ... time.

    About 20 percent of adolescents have had sexual intercourse before their 15th birthday — and one in seven of the sexually experienced 14-year-old girls has been pregnant, according to a report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

    The analysis of seven studies conducted in the late 1990s offers a comprehensive look at the sexual activities of 12- to 14-year-olds, a group often overlooked in discussions of adolescent sexuality.

    "These are not new data sets, but I think this is the first time we've put together all these numbers in a way that tells the story about young people this age," said Sarah Brown, the director of the campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group based in Washington. "Remember, a lot of researchers, as well as a lot of people who fund research, are reluctant to ask questions about sexual behavior to very young people, so there's not an enormous amount of information about this age group."
    I always doubt the accuracy of these surveys. I remember when I was a kid back in the day, we used to fill out these health surveys all the time and we didn't care if our answers were accurate or not. Heck, I may have said I was an alcoholic when I was 13, which isn't true because I don't have a twin named Barbara.

    Even if there was (or is it were? i was always confused about that) a national problem about teenage sex - some say there is, some say there isn't - I don't know how anyone can "solve" it. Finding a way to stop teenage sex has been the holy grail for moms and dads for ages and the solutions that have seemed to "work," (shame, stonings, physical restraints) are cures worse than the disease.

    Monday, May 19, 10:00pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    For the science dorks in the audience, I offer you these two pieces from the former Mr. Tapped (which is still Hamster-linkless!) Chris Mooney ...

    On X2: Evolutionary Leaps of Logic
    HamsterChatter: "Sophisticated viewers probably don't take very seriously the depiction of evolutionary theories in films such as "X2." Still, scientific illiteracy is rampant in the United States today, and perhaps no tenet of science is less accepted than Darwin's theory. Surveys suggest that as many as half of Americans reject evolution entirely, preferring to believe that the earth was created by God less than 10,000 years ago. In fact, on some Christian Web sites there has been groaning about the prominence of evolution in the film "X2." But perhaps they shouldn't be so fussy: Such a radically incorrect depiction of evolutionary theory may end up benefiting anti-evolutionists in the long run "

    What's Next for Longevity Research?
    HamsterChatter: "The question is a timely one. Although recent health trends among the elderly have been heartening, some say that the improvement will eventually reach a natural limit. Even assuming that medical scientists manage to conquer leading causes of death such as cancer and heart disease, demographers calculate that people would gain only a few more years of average life expectancy as a result. For this reason, Miller has called for a "substantial public commitment to working out the mechanism" behind life span extension in laboratory animals. If we want to live longer, he argues, we have to attack the problem at its source: the fundamental mechanism or mechanisms that drive the process of aging. Miller argues that research into the biology of aging could have a bigger bang for the buck than research on individual illnesses. If scientists can figure out how to slow aging, they will simultaneously attack all of the diseases associated with growing old "

    Monday, May 19, 7:30pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    A Scoobie Davis called in to the Matt Drudge Happy Hour.

    DRUDGE: Line two, Joseph in Los Angeles, you're on the air with Drudge.
    SCOOBIE: Yo, Matt. I gotta tell you, I'm really amused by your talk regarding the journalistic misconduct at the New York Times. It seems like there are some stones being thrown from some glass houses there.
    DRUDGE: You know, why not? Why not? I can throw just as many stones as they can. I mean, they're sitting there mocking me. Why can't I mock them?
    SCOOBIE: Because you deserve to be mocked, considering--
    DRUDGE: Okay, they're the holy ones, I mean, I'm not sitting here [unintelligible] Have you found my fabricated stories yet, sir?
    SCOOBIE: How about the fact that you didn't divulge who gave you the misinformation regarding Sidney Blumenthal's nonexistent domestic abuse? How about your not retracting the false report you put out that Enron's Ken Lay slept over at the Clinton White House. That's the nature of journalism and you didn't abide by journalistic—
    DRUDGE: The nature of journalism is to reveal your sources on stories, sir?
    SCOOBIE: If they gave you--
    DRUDGE: Joseph, that's a direct question--
    SCOOBIE: --misinformation it is your obligation to divulge who that is and to report people who give misinformation.

    Monday, May 19, 7:25pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Richard Blow, in, makes an interesting point on the 'privacy of Bill Bennett' debate:

    Does anyone think that it's a crime when the press reports that Michael Jordan loses hundreds of thousands of dollars at a Connecticut casino in a single night?

    Or when Tara Reid gets drunk at a trendy New York bar, or Britney Spears smokes a cigarette in public? When PeeWee Herman goes to a porn movie, or when Patrick Ewing goes to strip clubs? Not that I know of. Athletes, singers and actors are celebrities, and their doings, legal or illegal, are covered in the press -- even when their activities are legal.

    Why is it, then, that so many seem to think that reporting on Bill Bennet's gambling is an illegitimate, uncalled-for, unforgivable invasion of privacy?

    ... Inside-the-Beltway folks are constantly putting out the message that political figures shouldn't be covered the way other public figures are. I think the implicit argument has something to do with the fact that they're more serious than celebrities in the entertainment business. They're dealing with weighty stuff like policy, not entertainment. That strikes me as a difference not of principle, but of preference.

    Most irritating, at the same time Washingtonians decry the invasive media, they want to enjoy the fruits of celebrity -- playing themselves in movies, hobnobbing with Hollywood starlets, giving lectures at exorbitant rates. Bill Bennett charges $50,000 for a speech that you can probably hear for free at any church that's open Sunday mornings.

    Monday, May 19, 6:49pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    RIP Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the target of scorn by the conservative media ... Jessica Lyons has this on the feminist TV heroine.

    The TV show was scary, sexy and smart. Its butt-kicking, sex-kitten heroine slayed the old horror-movie cliché of the cute girl as helpless victim. Buffy was one tough-as-nails chick. On the small screen, Whedon's creation was pure genius.

    Unlike many teen-genre shows, Buffy acutely depicted the drama and heartbreak of the high-school-into-twenty-something years. The vampires Buffy fought were often dramatizations of the real monsters we all face: death, separation, alienation, and the horror that is high school. Sometimes they were more vaguely horrific, like the Gentlemen – tall, thin, toothy undertaker-looking floating demons who steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale in an attempt to harvest their hearts.

    During its seven-season run, Buffy's clever pop culture references and raw emotion resonated with teen audiences and adults alike. At the height of its popularity, 5.3 million viewers tuned in every week to watch Buffy destroy all sorts of evil with her tae kwon do moves and deadly wit – not to mention her keen fashion sense.

    Not only did Buffy destroy the vamps, she did it in style. Anyone with a wooden stake and a decent arm could stick it to the undead most of the time, but fighting in tight designer jeans and stilettos revealed real skill.

    Sure, it's a cliché, but at critical junctures in my life I often find myself thinking, what would Buffy do? And what would Buffy wear? At its core, Buffy told a coming-of-age story. The heroine fell in love with Angel, a centuries-old vampire. Unlike most blood-sucking demons, however, Angel was a good vamp. He had a soul. When Buffy had sex with him for the first time, he lost his soul, became a monster, tried to kill Buffy's mom, and opened a vortex that would suck Earth into a hell dimension. It's every girl's worst nightmare. Eventually he got his soul back, but by then it was too late. Buffy had to drive a stake through Angel's heart to close the vortex. Bummer.

    Ultimately, Buffy's a good-versus-evil myth. Its heroine is an unlikely savior who's as morally conflicted as the rest of the show's characters – the witches, vampires-with-souls and murderous-demons-turned-humans.
    Without Buffy, conservatives still have a lot of targets to attack. For example:

  • Lisa Simpson, from The Simpsons. The creation of Democrat and notorious liberal Matt Groening, Lisa has been known to believe in global warming, helping people in poverty, recycling, anti-hunting, anti-snake whacking day in Springfield and is often a foil to the corporate Mr. Burns.
  • Jack from Will and Grace. He's gay!
  • Clark Kent from Smallville. The Bible specifically prohibits the use of pagan magic. This character from Smallville, USA uses magic all the time in numerous allusions to Jesus. My goodness, call your local representative.

    Lisa: There's no way I'll get into an Ivy-League school now. At this rate I probably won't even get into Vassar.
    Homer: I've had just about enough of your Vassar-bashing, young lady!

    I think we know why Lisa Simpson wants to go to some Ivy-League school. Oh, yes, David Horowitz has been warning us all along about those pointy-headed liberal profs. Beware, Lisa Simpson. Your unchecked liberal days are over.

    Monday, May 19, 6:44pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Fox and the conservative Media Research Center: Not so strange bedfellows. MRC proudly trumpets:

    FNC's Newswatch Discusses Two Topics in CyberAlert Last Week You read it here first. FNC's Fox Newswatch did segments on Saturday about two topics first raised in CyberAlerts last week: Diane Sawyer claiming the Jayson Blair scandal could not occur in television news and Michael Moore contending to Bob Costas that the Bush administration knows to whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.
    But does FNC Newswatch cover items from FAIR or stories against Fox? Of course not. After all, last year one of the panel members, Jane Hall of American University off-handedly remarked she wouldn't criticize Fox because she has children going to college.

    Monday, May 19, 2:44pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    I smell a prankster. In re: to the Kyle Williams book, "Seen And Heard." someone over at recommended The Kindness Curriculum: Introducing Young Children to Loving Values instead of Seen And Heard : America's Youngest Political Pundit Tackles the Lies and Truths of Politics and Culture. Haha.

    Monday, May 19, 2:35pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Life Won't Be the Same. Without Ari ...

    Ari Fleischer, the public and generally good-natured face of the Bush administration, will resign in July to enter private business.

    "I've decided my time has come to leave the White House," Mr. Fleischer said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

    Mr. Fleischer, who is 42 and was married six months ago, said he had decided that this was the time to step down as the chief White House spokesman, unless he were willing to commit himself for another four years.

    "I've just been thinking about what I want to do, when I want to do it," he told The A.P. "I believe deeply in this president, his policies and the man. But there comes a time in public service when you have to decide when it's time to go."
    Ari was an interesting man, but he can be easily replaced. May I suggest the following distinguished Republicans for the newly open position, and some of the explanations they would probably offer to the media?

    Kyle Williams. "Mommy, why do I have to be White House press secretary when all the other kids are out playing?"

    Rush Limbaugh. "Our armed forces shouldn't be over there - they're good at killing people and blowing things up, not peace-keeping."

    Dan Quayle. "What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is."

    Jerry Falwell. "If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being."

    Tom Delay. "It has never been proven that air toxics are hazardous to people."

    Gary Bauer. "I don't see why Christians should censor themselves out of any forum in which our perspectives can be heard. I disagree with the theology of many groups that I address; Jews, for example, who do not accept Jesus."

    Pat Buchanan. "With 80,000 dead of AIDS, our promiscuous homosexuals appear literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide."

    Newt Gingrich. "She isn't young enough or pretty enough to be the President's wife." (on his wife).

    Rev. Moon. "When you were young, did you ever taste the dried mucus from your nose? Does it taste sweet or salty? It's salty, right?"

    Monday, May 19, 2:05pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Steve Gilliard over at Daily Kos has 8 suggestions on how to win the war on terrorism, including ...

    1) Stop tying drugs to terrorism. True or not, it muddles the message. Osama Bin Laden doesn't deal pot and to most Americans, drugs are pot. It makes the serious message of terrorism and turns it into a punch line by an utterly clueless government. A bad campaign made worse by undermining the need to inform people of what a real terrorist threat is.

    2) Inform people of what terrorism really is, what it really looks like and how people can protect themselves. We know what car bombs can do. Why keep that information hidden. We know what kinds of situations are dangerous and which ones aren't. And give people the information needed to weigh risks intelligently.

    3) The color code alerts, like much done in the name of Homeland Security, is abysmally simple minded and is used in a way which creates more fear than relieves it. End the program and come back with a better plan which actually is based on more than tips. Place lights to let people know when they enter a secured area. Make the population aware of what kind of risks they're taking without scaring them.

    Monday, May 19, 9:36am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    DNC Chairman McAuliffe blasts Bush; says prez is exploiting patriotism for political gains:

    Karl Rove may have so little faith in Americans that he actually thinks this stuff will work. The American people are tougher and smarter than that, and the Republican Party hasn't sewn a flag big enough for George Bush to wrap him and his policies in, that we can't have a real discussion, a real debate in this country.

    This administration has shamelessly exploited the heart felt patriotism, the sense of banding together of the American people against a horrible vicious foe. It has taken that sentiment and used it as a cloak to push through an agenda no majority of American's ever voted for, or ever wanted.

    As 9-11 and then War in Iraq pushed all domestic news to the back pages and off the television broadcasts, the administration presided over a devastating economic policy. A policy of massive tax cuts for the rich that reversed the most successful economic policy our country has had in fifty years.

    The fiscal stability we achieved in the Nineties turned deficits into surpluses, the economy boomed, factories hummed, and Americans went to work. [SNIP]

    My friends, deflation is when the economy is so weak that prices fall through the floor setting off a chain of economic events that lead to further layoffs, plant closings, and more price collapse. The last time America saw this, we called it the Great Depression. The Japanese have been stuck in this spiral for the last decade, and now President Bush has led us to the cliff and wants us to join him in the leap.

    Mr. President, we are not lemmings. We refuse, to go quietly into that good night with you.

    George Bush cannot escape responsibility for what he has is his Washington... his government. There is no one else to blame, or to accuse. He and the Republican's control the whole show back there... they got the White House by legal slight of hand -- something Bill Bennett knows something about I bet -- they control the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    The whole show is theirs, and theirs alone. And what are they doing, what have they done?

    An economic policy whose guiding principal during a tremendously expensive global conflict against terrorism, is that the wealthy must be relieved of their burdens and obligations. That the rich must not be asked to carry part of the load, that their burden is too heavy in this time of crisis.

    The story goes that as the lifeboats were being loaded, the wealthy of the passengers of the Titanic pushed aside the women and children. The values of this administration would be quite at home aboard that ill-fated ship. They have created an economic policy that gives the millionaires almost ninety thousand dollars in tax cuts, but gives almost half of taxpayers $100 or less. Meanwhile, states are drowning in red ink, cutting day care, health care, education, and letting criminals out of jails because it's too expensive to keep them locked up.

    As if a failed economy wasn't enough for us to worry about, there are other storm clouds on the horizon.

    Monday, May 19, 12:06am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    There's an environmental problem, writes NRDC ...

    It's one of the nation's most widely used weed-killers, applied liberally to corn and other crops throughout the Midwest. But according to several recent studies, it's not safe.

    The product is atrazine, and the research examined its effect on humans and animals. Several studies show that it causes sexual abnormalities in frogs, and another revealed elevated levels of prostate cancer in workers at an atrazine manufacturing plant. Some of the findings resulted from research funded by the manufacturer itself, apparently expecting different results. In at least one case, when the data's damning implications became clear, the company repeatedly insisted on new tests. Indeed, the frog data only became public after the scientist conducting the research ended his contract with the manufacturer -- a company formed by the merger of Novartis and Zeneca and now called Syngenta -- and re-ran his experiment independently.
    But who you gonna call? Not the EPA. =(
    Now that the data and its analysis are public, the Environmental Protection Agency has met repeatedly with Syngenta behind closed doors, apparently to hammer out a deal to keep the herbicide in use. So as an EPA scientific advisory panel prepares to meet in mid-June to make a recommendation about atrazine's future, it may be that the agency has already decided to permit this dangerous pollutant to stay on the market ... The EPA's backroom dealings were in direct violation of its own regulations, which require public records of meetings with industry representatives, and prohibit relying solely on these meetings to formulate agency policies.

    Monday, May 19, 12:03am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Senate Breaks Promise To Itself and American People. People for the American Way and others note this:

    Leaders of the Fair Taxes for All Coalition said the reconciliation tax bill passed by the Senate today relies on gimmicks and accounting tricks to hide its true costs, pushing the real price tag for its tax cuts well over the $350 billion limit the Senate promised itself and the American people. FTFA leaders said the Senate's tax bill will not promote economic growth or create new jobs, will do serious harm to the long-term economy, continues to favor the wealthy few over ordinary American families, and fails to provide the necessary resources to prevent steep cutbacks in education, health care and other vital services due to the worst state fiscal crises since World War II.

    "This bill is a disgrace," said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. "It is based on bogus job claims and phony cost numbers. Millionaires get a huge break, but working Americans and their children will pick up the tab for years to come."

    "The unfairness of this bill is outrageous, but its broken promises add insult to injury. In 2001, Congress used phase-ins and sunsets to keep the apparent costs of those tax cuts down, and it is now going back on those decisions. Worse yet, it is trying the same accounting tricks again with this new round of cuts," said Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President of the National Women's Law Center.

    The gimmicks include the passage of an amendment sponsored by Senator Don Nickles to exempt 50% of dividend income from taxation in 2003, rising to 100% of dividend income in 2004, with the exclusion set to expire at the end of 2006. Because Congress is unlikely to allow this tax break to disappear, the provision is much more costly than it appears on paper. Once this gimmick and others in the bill are stripped away, the cost of the Senate's plan will be more than $660 billion through 2013 – far higher than the $350 billion tax cut Senators agreed to last month.

    Monday, May 19, 12:01am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Damned if you do, Damned if you dont. The Media Research Center takes exception to ABC's Diane Sawyer for giving Howard Dean a tough time:

    Sawyer, setting up video of a scowling Dean: "I want to turn again to the debates -- George Stephanopoulos hosted them. We saw you during those debates -- multiple expressions of, what were they here?"
    Dean: "Actually, I haven't this yet, so-"
    Sawyer: "You haven't seen these?"
    Dean: "No."
    Sawyer: "If we run your expressions by here, we just run clips of you, you were not a happy man. Much of the debate was spent looking at Senator John Kerry and the two of you having at it. Now, a spokesman for John Kerry says he was surprised how dirty this has gotten so fast."
    My conspiratorial take: Sawyer is trying to help knock out Dean so a more electable Democrat gets the nomination.
    Conspiratorial indeed.

    Sun, May 18, 11:11pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Students walk out on Santorum. AP:

    About one in every eight graduates walked out of Sunday's commencement at Saint Joseph's University before the keynote address by Sen. Rick Santorum, who recently infuriated gay groups and others with derogatory remarks about homosexual behavior. [SNIP]

    Students were offered an opportunity to leave before Santorum was introduced to receive an honorary degree and make his speech, and about 100 graduates walked out amid competing boos and applause.

    Some students had urged the Jesuit university to rescind Santorum's invitation after he likened gay behavior to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery in an April 7 interview with The Associated Press. He later said he intended the remarks as a legal analysis and didn't intend to comment on individual lifestyles.

    "Senator Santorum and I are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum," said graduate Sara Foglesong, among those who walked out. "I am not incestuous. I am not a bigamist. I just happen to be bisexual. It offended me."

    Sun, May 18, 5:01pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The Clinton era lifted people out of poverty, says a new study published by the Brookings Institute:

    The number of people living in high poverty neighborhoods declined during the 1990s as the economic boom lifted incomes, studies by two liberal-leaning think tanks found.

    At decade's end, about 8 million people were in neighborhoods in which at least 40 percent of the residents lived in poverty, according to the Brookings Institution. That was 24 percent less than in 1990.

    People found better-paying jobs or those with higher incomes moved into the neighborhoods and reduced the poverty level, rolling back increases from the previous two decades.

    "This is a stunning reversal," Bruce Katz, head of the Center for Urban and Metropolitan Policy at Brookings, said of the studies being released Sunday.

    "It really shows that with a good economy and the right set of policies, we can get at some of these problems." [SNIP]

    The second study, by the Urban Institute, offered conclusions similar to Brookings'.

    The institute determined that 12 percent of the poor in metropolitan areas lived in a neighborhood with at least 40 percent poverty, down from 17 percent in 1990.
    However ....
    But researchers warned the economy has worsened in recent years so the gains may have been largely erased in many neighborhoods. "My real concern is where we are now," said Robert Lang, a demographer with the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech University in Alexandria, Va. "My guess is the last three years, we've turned more in the direction of the bad old 1980s."

    Sun, May 18, 8:21am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    New book says Earth only has 50-50 chance of surviving 21st century:

    The choices we make in the next few decades, Rees contends, could decide the fate of life not only on Earth but beyond, either ensuring its survival -- if we can diversify into space -- or dooming it forever. ''It may not be absurd hyperbole -- indeed, it may not even be an overstatement -- to assert that the most crucial location in space and time (apart from the Big Bang itself) could be here and now,'' he writes.

    Humanity has progressed to the point where we are now our own worst enemies: adding to the backdrop of natural calamities that have always threatened us, technology, Rees argues, has now so highly leveraged the power of the individual or the small group that a biological ''unabomber'' or a mistake in a laboratory could wreak havoc only dreamed of by the Strangeloves of the last century, who held the forces of nuclear apocalypse at bay by war-gaming scenarios of mutual assured destruction. He says, in fact, that he has bet $1,000 that an instance of bioterror or bioerror will take a million lives before the year 2020.

    But there are many things to worry about, some of which will be familiar to all: global warming, asteroid impacts and that old bugaboo nuclear war, which has been transmogrified by the end of the cold war; the collapse of the Soviet Union, Rees points out, has left the world awash in the raw materials, enriched uranium and plutonium, for some 70,000 bombs. [SNIP]

    DOING nothing, Rees points out, is not an option. In two billion years or so, the warming Sun and the greenhouse effect will make Earth too hot for anything but microbes; in a few billion years more, the planet will be toasted to a cinder in the Sun's death throes. The answer lies in space. Once humans have established homes or colonies on separate planets, there will be less chance that a single catastrophe -- be it a plague or an asteroid -- can get us all (although there is a greater chance that the species will diversify genetically).

    Sat, May 17, 11:35pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Liberal Hollywood strikes again. Byron Beck argues that X2 is one of the gayest movies of all time. Fabulous.

    _____ An ex of mine once told me that gay people were just like straight people--only more highly evolved.

    I was reminded of that after watching one of this summer's biggest blockbusters, X2: X-Men United. Or as I now call it, the gayest action film of all time.

    The underlying theme, Marvel comic creator/magician Stan Lee told Abercrombie & Fitch magazine/catalog, "is how terrible it is to hate people because they're different in any way," and that was expertly pounded out in its own homo way in the first X-Men flick. But for the sequel, openly queer director Bryan Singer dives headfirst into dangerous queer territory. This time around his message is that mutants--his cinematic stand-ins for homosexuals--are better, smarter and a lot hotter looking than the rest of you. And because of that fact, the so-called straight-thinking world would have no problem getting rid of the mutant/fag "problem," if given the power.

    Whew! This is supposed to be a summery escape? Well, it's not. And here's why. Subversive in its mission to entertain, this movie is actually a cautionary tale of what happens to a group of outsiders who are endowed with something they never asked for--in this case, superhuman powers. They can't help it if they're just that "way." The people around them (specifically their parents) aren't much help, either. They don't know what to do with their odd offspring and eventually ship them away to a special place where they can be with their "own kind." It's all very gay, circa 1978.

    This becomes blatantly queer-clear when Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) must return to his family home with a group of other mutants. It's here he finally confesses to his family that he is "different." And it's here his mother asks quite innocently, "Have you ever considered not being a mutant?" I actually started to sob in my seat during this scene. And that's not the only spot in this movie that sawed at my heartstrings. When teleporting Nightcrawler (performed by the incredible Alan Cumming) asks the shape-shifting Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) why she chooses to stay the blue-scaled, golden-eyed way she is, even though she has the power to transform herself into a million other incarnations, she replies with something like, "Why would I want to?" You got to give Romijn-Stamos (perhaps the worst actress of her generation) props for pulling off that line. [SNIP]

    As this movie tagline proclaims, "The time has come for those who are different to stand united," a sentiment near and dear to all persecuted people--not just queers. But the film's real message comes when Patrick Stewart, in his fey turn as Prof. Charles Xavier, tells the President of the United States, "We are here to stay."
    Of course, there is nothing 'gay' about Kelly Hu. As a distinguished man once said, 'shwing.' ...

    Poor culture conservatives. Culture conservatives just can't see any good movies these days. Of course they COULD go see the family-wholesome movie, "Daddy Day Care" with Eddie Murphy. Of course, that movie was written by former Al Franken research assistant Geoff Rodkey ... Ohh, is nothing safe for the poor, oppressed conservatives?!
    Sat, May 17, 10:19pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Don't Mess with Texas ... Or Hitler. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports:

    The local CBS affiliate has opted not to air a two-part miniseries dramatizing the young life of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

    Dale Remy, general manager of KZTV Channel 10, said he was concerned that the film could give harmful ideas to white supremacists and disturbed young people.

    "The Nazi concept, if you will, is still very real, and I think anything we do to give that particular thinking a venue, a format, is a mistake," Remy said. "More people that are already on the fence on this and have issues might find something in this character to identify with, and that bothers me tremendously."

    The company that owns KZTV has a second CBS affiliate in Laredo that has also chosen not to air "Hitler: the Rise of Evil." CBS spokesman Chris Ender said that of the more than 200 CBS affiliates in the country, he knew of no others that have declined to show the film.
    The Nazi concept is still very real? I guess I need to get out more.

    Sat, May 17, 9:29pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The Hollywood boycott has failed. My good friend James L. Hirsen asked you guys to boycott the Matrix because it infringes on good, old fashioned American values by propogating liberal beliefs by the Wachowski Brothers and features liberals like Laurence Fishburne, Rage Against the Machine, Marilyn Manson and Cornel West. Yet the Matrix made 42.5 million on its first day, setting a record. Have you people no sense of patriotism?!

    Sat, May 17, 9:27pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Atrios notes that Bill O'Reilly may have some apologizing to do. Then again, O'Reilly often says he'll do something in the distant future yet conveniently forgets about it.
    Sat, May 17, 1:33 am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Tom Delay's Judge Dredd Complex. I had to laugh when I read this Lloyd Grove article on Tom Delay:

    But after the main course, DeLay went into "hammer" mode, trying to compel manager Tom Khandker to flout federal regulations and lift the ban. We hear the conversation went something like this:

    Khandker: "I'm sorry, sir, but this is a federal building, and it's against the law of the federal government."

    DeLay: "I am the federal government."

    "Da law? I am da law!"

    Sat, May 17, 12:41 am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    "Mommy, why do I have to write these columns when everyone else is out playing?"

    Conversations with 14-year old home schooled WorldNetDaily columnist Kyle Williams:

    Kyle: "I've had the best of educations-in fact, I went to a school every day-"
    Hamster: "I've been to a day-school too. You needn't be so proud as all that."
    Kyle: "With extras?"
    Hamster: "Yes. We learned French and music."
    Kyle: "And washing?"
    Hamster: "Certainly not!"
    Kyle: "Ah! Then yours wasn't a really good school. Now at ours, they had, at the end of the bill, 'French, music, and washing - extra. "
    Hamster: "Hmph."

    Friday, May 16, 10:41 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Couple of interesting articles in The Nation. First, "Pre-empting Protest" from Sasha Polakow-Suransky, which asks where the line between freedom of speech and the duties of the Peace Corps is drawn ... and editor Katha Pollitt's piece on poor Bill Bennett, "Bah, Humbug."

    Bennett's defenders make much of the fact that he never condemned gambling and so was not actually a hypocrite. Leaving your own pet vice off a long, long list of sins, and then, when you are found out, exempting that vice as practiced by you but not as practiced by others--that's not exculpation from charges of hypocrisy, that's what hypocrisy is.

    If Bennett were a jolly, modest fellow, full of love for fallen humanity and the first to admit he was just another sinner like the rest of us--if he were less quick to impute the worst motives to perfectly ordinary behavior, like having two kids; if he spent less time promoting rigid, puritanical morals and more time promoting, oh, kindness and tolerance and looking into your own heart and cutting other people some slack because you never really know what demons they're contending with--no one would be piling on now.

    But then, with a message like that, no one would have heard of him in the first place. You don't get to play Christian on TV, or amass real political power along with your millions, by urging people not to throw the first stone, especially if they live in a glass house. Jesus tried that, and look what happened to him.

    Friday, May 16, 10:11 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Kevin Drum asks whether or not gay rights is a good topic for Democrats ...

    This is a great wedge issue, folks, and it doesn't have to be about gay marriage. How about federal protection for being fired due to sexual orientation? That has overwhelming support among the electorate but would be almost impossible for Bush to support. How about Social Security survivor benefits for gay partners? That's supported by two-thirds of the electorate, which means virtually all independents and moderates. How about loudly defending Thomas McLaughlin and daring President Bush to do the same? (Oh, and here's the lastest on that.)

    Karl Rove wants anything but this to become an issue, and that by itself should be reason enough for Democrats to press it hard. So far, Bush has been able to avoid saying anything about gays that makes him look like a bigot, so our goal should be to make him do just that by forcing him to take a direct stand on a simple, substantive issue. If we can, he either loses about 5-10% of the moderate electorate who are appalled by his opposition, or he loses 5-10% of the far right who are appalled by his support.

    What more can you ask for?

    Friday, May 16, 10:01 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    I guess Soviet-hating hasn't gone out of fashion. First, conservatives started attacking Russia for its supposed 'helping' of Iraq during the war, now this from Newsmax:

    "Russia Preparing for Nuclear Attacks on U.S, Britain" Russia will soon launch a mock nuclear attack against the U.S. and Britain during military exercises over the next week.

    Moscow's Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports that Russia's strategic bombers and nuclear submarines "will deliver hypothetical nuclear strikes on the U.S. and Britain, while locating and destroying aircraft-carrier groups of the U.S. Navy."

    The massive air, sea and land maneuvers are being conducted in the wake of America's stunning victory over Iraq, a long time client state of Russia.

    The paper said the exercises are taking place because, "Russian military leaders have learned a lesson from the Iraq war, and intend to show the U.S. and its allies their determination to repel any potential threat coming from the West."

    The Russian military, in plans drawn up at the request of President Vladmir Putin, argues that the only way Russia can deal with an escalating regional conflict with the U.S., would be to employ nuclear weapons.

    Though Russia's military has been considerably downzied since the end of the Cold War, and its conventional forces hold little weight against a modern, equipped army, Russia has continued to invest heavily in strategic and tactical nuclear weapons.

    Sometime during the 90s, Russia attained nuclear superiority over the U.S. While Russia's large, strategic nuclear weapons have remained in parity with the U.S., Russia's tactical nuclear arsenal has been estimated to include between 20,000 to 40,000 weapons.

    At the same time Russia has continued its nuclear buildup, the U.S. has virtually destroyed its arsenal of tactical nuclear warheads. Under orders from the Bush administration, the U.S. has also been moving to further reduce the U.S. strategic arsenal. Currently, the nation's most modern fleet of ICBM, the MX missiles, are being destroyed.

    The Russian military exercises show a desire by the Russian military to deal with the huge technological lead U.S. conventional forces have, demonstrated by Operation Iraqi Freedom.
    Increase defense spending by scaring Americans into believing we're inferior militarily. Bush did this in the 2000 elections, Reagan did this by invoking Cold War rhetoric, and now conservatives are trying to scare us into thinking Russia has some deep seeded desire to rebuild its military which is utterly ridiculous. Increase defense spending by scaring Americans into believing we're inferior militarily. Bush did this in the 2000 elections, Reagan did this by invoking Cold War rhetoric, and now conservatives are trying to scare us into thinking Russia has some deep seeded desire to rebuild its military which is utterly ridiculous.

    Friday, May 16, 7:09 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The Human Rights Watch is filing an amicus curiae brief against John Ashcroft:

    A new legal brief filed by the U.S. Justice Department would roll back twenty years of judicial rulings for victims of human rights abuse, Human Rights Watch warned today.

    On May 8, Attorney General John Ashcroft filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief for the defense in a civil case alleging that the oil company Unocal was complicit in forced labor and other abuses committed by the Burmese military during the construction of the Yadana gas pipeline. The case, John Doe I, et al. v. Unocal Corporation, et al., was originally filed in 1996 and is currently being reheard by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

    The Justice Department brief went well beyond the scope of the Unocal case, however, and argued for a radical re-interpretation of the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA). For over 20 years, courts have held that the ATCA permits victims of serious violations of international law abroad to seek civil damages in U.S. courts against their alleged abusers who are found in the United States. The Justice Department would deny victims the right to sue under the ATCA for abuses committed abroad.

    "This is a craven attempt to protect human rights abusers at the expense of victims," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "The Bush administration is trying to overturn a longstanding judicial precedent that has been very important in the protection of human rights."

    Courts have upheld human rights suits under the ATCA since 1980, in a case brought by the father and sister of Joel Filartiga, a seventeen-year-old Paraguayan. Filartiga was kidnapped and tortured to death by a Paraguayan police official who subsequently emigrated to the United States. In that case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the ATCA permitted victims to pursue claims based on serious violations of international human rights law. Victims have also been awarded damages against other perpetrators, including Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadic and former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. However, because the defendants have traditionally been non-residents without assets in the U.S., it has been difficult to collect the awards.

    The Justice Department argued that the ATCA could not be used as a basis to file civil cases and that victims should sue under other laws; that the "law of nations" covered by the ATCA did not include international human rights treaties; and that abuses committed outside of the United States would not be covered under the law. No previous administration has challenged the legitimacy of ATCA cases against gross human rights abusers.

    Friday, May 16, 7:05 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Human Rights Campaign notes that local and state laws prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is expanding, which is good news considering the Republicans' refusal to enact the national Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

    County and city governments played a leading role in 2002 in extending equal protection in the workplace to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans, according to an annual study released today by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's WorkNet project.

    More cities and counties enacted laws in 2002 prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity than in any previous year, with 15 local jurisdictions outlawing job discrimination based on sexual orientation and 16 passing measures covering gender identity and/or expression. This compares to eight and five, respectively, in 2001, according to the report, entitled "The State of the Workplace for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans." [PDF 747KB]

    At the same time, the number of all types of employers offering domestic partner health insurance benefits grew by 16 percent in 2002, while the number of employers instituting sexual orientation non-discrimination policies rose 7 percent, the report found.

    "Employers of all types — public and private — are coming to the realization that their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees deserve to be treated equally, and that to do so is good business," said HRC Education Director Kim I. Mills, who oversees WorkNet. "We applaud these forward-thinking local lawmakers and corporate leaders for these important steps."

    Friday, May 16, 6:59 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Apparently Christians are being persecuted these days. It's a really scary time, according to David Limbaugh's new book, "Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging Political War Against Christianity."

    * A Georgia school board, after being threatened with a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), deleted the word "Christmas" from the school calendar.
    * A Frederick County (Maryland) school employee was prohibited from passing out Christmas cards at school because it "may not be a legally protected right on a public school campus."
    * The ACLU went on the offensive when county road crews helped erect a religious sign along the highway even though no state funds were used for the sign and such crews regularly assist private groups when requested.
    * The liberal double standard allows intolerance of Christianity, yet promotes non-traditional, non-Western celebrations, such as Kwanza.
    * The liberal war against Christianity is a threat to the freedom of all Americans regardless of their religious persuasion.
    Persecution is a wake-up call to lovers of liberty everywhere and a call to action to conservatives and Christians to defend the religious freedom envisioned and practiced by the founders.
    So no Christmas, one religious sign on the highway, and promotion of Kwanza. Gee, Dave, my high school church school knowledge is a little rusty, but things haven't really gotten that bad since say, the days of Emperor Diocletian? How bout instead of writing a ridiculous thesis about a problem that doesn't exist in order to score political points for your Republican friends, you write a book about the Christian values that we're supposed to exhibit: love, honesty, community, that sort of thing. When Christian demagogues like David Limbaugh wonder why people are losing faith in them, maybe they should be looking at themselves and their rhetoric.

    Friday, May 16, 6:49 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Why conservatives hate Buffy the Vampire slayer, besides its anti-Christian themes. It empowers women. Hollywood Reporter:

    Virtually no one thought that the show with the funny name on the then-fledgling WB Network would ultimately become a critical darling and cult favorite. Yet somehow, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" did exactly that during its seven-season run. With the series signing off next week, creator Joss Whedon spoke with Steve Hockensmith for The Hollywood Reporter about the show's legacy and what his future might hold.

    The Hollywood Reporter: With "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" about to end its run, what kind of legacy do you hope the show will leave behind?

    Joss Whedon: Honestly, I hope the legacy of the show would be that there's a generation of girls who have the kind of hero a lot of them didn't get to have in their mythos and a lot of guys who are a lot more comfortable with the idea of a girl who has that much power.
    With girl power comes sexual revolution, then babies, then working out of the home, then poverty, then another generation of poorly raised kids ...

    Friday, May 16, 6:43 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The Matrix Reloaded ... hm.

    my face after the movie.

    There was no reason to make any sequels. The whole series would have been fine without the next two movies. But noooo ...

    Friday, May 16, 6:41 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Liberal Media at it Again. As counterspin notes, Ted Nugent is being persecuted by the liberal media for innocent comments:

    Nugent is known as the "Motor City Madman," and is known for controversial, profanity-laced political statements on and off stage. Last week, an interview with Nugent on Denver radio station "Lewis & Floorwax" morning show was cut short because the show's hosts, Rick Lewis and Michael Floorwax, said Nugent went too far when he used several racial slurs.

    The interview focused on guitars until Nugent used the word "Jap," to which Lewis and Floorwax immediately protested, the Associated Press reported. Nugent then used another Asian slur and the DJs called him on that.

    Nugent next used the "n word" when talking about comedian Richard Pryor's humor and said that, years ago, one of the Funk Brothers used the term to compliment Nugent's guitar playing.

    In a written statement, Nugent blamed much of the controversy surrounding the radio station interview on reports by "liberal hippies in the media."
    Those liberal hippies in the media. Silly billies. Why can't we just tell the fucking Japs to go home? Or do they have a hard time seeing the exit. Har har har har.

    The boys over at Hannity and Colmes love Ted. I'm waiting for his next appearance on the show so he can tell us how it's a tough life ranting against minorities.

    Friday, May 16, 6:31 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Looking at the national debt, you really have to sit down and say, "Damn, Ronald Regan really left us a legacy, didn't he?" And the interest we pay on it every year, well ... that $175 billion could have been put to better use somewhere, huh?

    Interest Expense FISCAL Year 2003

    April $ 14,060,171,915.01
    March 13,418,109,210.36
    February 15,835,291,826.89
    January 13,163,133,814.72
    December 84,988,921,666.59
    November 19,552,154,628.66
    October 13,677,410,886.48


    FISCAL Year Total $ 174,695,193,948.71

    Friday, May 16, 6:11 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Another reason why Bill Bennett should cut down on the Vegas gambling. From the Smoking Gun:

    When Allen Casey and Caroline Scruggs checked into Las Vegas's Rio Hotel in early-March, they were probably expecting a little R&R in the adjoining suites they shared with their six-year-old daughter and infant son. What they got, according to this lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court, was a terrible scare when their baby began choking on an object apparently left by the room's prior inhabitant. You'll also gag when you hear what lil' Nicholas allegedly put in his mouth (used condom).

    Thursday, May 15, 11:27 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Well, I've done 15 updates on my first day back, so this will be the last one. I'm going out now to have 'fun,' take care and enjoy the weather! I know I am ...


    Join us in honoring Helen Thomas, the legendary White House correspondent, Margaret Cho, the hilarious and daring comedian, and Rebecca Walker, the activist and author, with Intrepid Awards. Other invited award recipients include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and activist/author Alice Walker.

    Thursday, May 15, 11:25 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Hey, congrats to friend Gary Beato for his review in the Washington Post on Marilyn Manson. Gary makes a couple points about Manson:

    By all accounts, at the not-so-young-anymore age of 34, he continues to live a life of sexual intemperance, avid drug consumption and general excess. Condemn him on those grounds if you want, but clearly the man's after something more than just money. And in a culture notably short on provocateurs who operate in the mainstream rather than in insular tributaries, Manson may in fact be the closest thing we have to a Timothy Leary or an Allen Ginsberg -- a prominent public figure who's committed to freakiness as an ongoing mode of existence, not just a marketing gambit. [CUT] All these parts are worth recycling, at least until Manson figures out how to get the most out of them. Indeed, for all its solid craftsmanship, "The Golden Age of Grotesque" is a little short on the things that anyone ambitious and audacious enough to call himself Marilyn Manson ought to be delivering: chaos, temptation, seduction, trangression. Instead, every composition here is an ode to the kind of lockstep precision that only boy bands should practice so faithfully, most lyrics are an exercise in spite and grievance -- and pleasure, rock's missing ingredient throughout the nu-metal/rap-rock era, is hard to find.

    For nearly a decade now, Manson has consistently produced good albums. If he ever figures out how to make sex and sin and decadence sound as alluring as a first-rate Baptist preacher can, he might finally produce a great one.
    It's a nicely written review, though I wish the Post had given Gary more words. I haven't listened to / bought the latest Manson CD. The first single, "mobscene," is a little disappointing, so I'm not sure if I will (probably not) but I did buy the Antichrist Superstar and I think that was close to a masterpiece. I also have Manson's very good book with Rolling Stone's Neil Strauss, "The Long Hard Road Out of Hell." In promoting his NY Times best-selling book (it sold more copies than Katherine Harris's book, maybe because Manson's more aesthetically pleasing) Manson made a bunch of media appearances, including one where he manhandled Bill O'Reilly.

    Yes, it's true. I am a Marilyn Manson fan. Does that make me "messed up," or "screwed up" or part of the sick and twisted youth culture that Joe Lieberman and Tipper Gore like to decry? They may think so. But I think I turned out OK, even though I listened to Manson when I was in 8th grade. That's not to say that some teenagers, ones who have emotional problems, won't listen to Manson and use his music for bad purposes. Some do. But when people like Joe Lieberman look at music consumers who buy certain types of music in black and white negative terms, it's not only naive, it's undemocratic. Joe could learn a lot by expanding his mind beyond his narrow-minded beliefs.

    Thursday, May 15, 11:08 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    RonK over at Daily Kos has this on the DLC's smearing of Howard Dean:

    DLC has thrown a stink bomb into the virtual coliseum where Democrats of all stripes are milling around, working through the process of picking their standard-bearer for a critical election.

    DLC launched an unwarranted, unfounded, overwrought, sorry-assed attack on a contending candidate ... a candidate whose record and platform are not inconsistent with DLC principles ... a candidate who clearly appeals to many grassroots DLC supporters and DLC-affiliated elected officials ... a candidate who has a lot of regular people excited about the next election.

    Why take this shot, thinly disguised as an exploration of ideas? Maybe for the perceived advantage of a perceived DLC favorite. Maybe as a bid for the spotlight. Maybe Howard Dean scored too uncomfortably well in DLC focus groups. Maybe it was "just one of those things" that happens on "just one of those days".

    No matter what possessed it, DLC leadership has gone over the hill and fragged its own camp on the way out. There's plenty of room for New Democrats. Is there still room for the DLC, and DLC candidates? That's not so clear. The DLC has soiled itself badly, and it's up to their leaders to clean up the mess and convince us they won't do it again.

    New Dem's and everybody else left of Chuck Hagel can work together for positive change. We know it's time for a change. We're unsure who we are and what we want as a coalition. There is a way to resolve this ... a tried and true formulation. Democrats need to re-adopt an identity they first established over two hundred years ago: The Party of the Common Man.

    Not "regular people" ... not "working families" ... not "the little guy". The Common Man.
    Atrios pretty much puts my own sentiments into words:
    You know, I've always been somewhat of defender of the DLC against those who think it's Satan incarnate. I'm all for a bit of money-raising pragmatism. But, their attempt to frag the Dean campaign was both poor in form and poor in substance. They've pulled a full rectal-cranial inversion and tried to tar Dean's grass roots support as support by "activist elites" as opposed to "normal people." And, most of all, they've tried to paint Dean is a some crazed lefty. The fact is, there's only one candidate that's clearly to the right of Dean on the issues and that's Lieberman, though a case could be made for Graham I suppose.

    Clinton was an economic centrist but social liberal who know how to reach out to most of fractured coalition that is the Democratic party. The biggest problem we face in the '04 election isn't Great Leader's mighty air craft carrier codpiece, or whatever that year's "soccer moms" will be called - it's voter apathy. When the chips are down - and they're increasingly down - people want to be inspired.

    I'm an anyone but Bush guy at this point. I don't know if Dean is either my favorite candidate or the one I think has the best chance of winning the general election. It's too early to make such a determination. Al From is right that Clinton didn't win by running to the Left, but he didn't win by running meekly either. The people I've met at the Dean Meetup and Fundraiser that I went to weren't "activist elites." The most commonly used expression at those events was something along the lines of "I've never really done something like this before..."

    The key is to make politics interesting and inspirational - to draw people into it and to make it a participatory. I'm not sure if Dean can do that - but it seems to be what he's trying to do.

    Thursday, May 15, 7:09 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Fox Family Values. Will the Fox all-stars go after Rupert?

    Fox television, living up to its freewheeling reputation, unveiled a new slate of shows on Thursday featuring a modern-day "Romeo and Juliet" tale set in the adult film industry, a return of "Joe Millionaire" and more "American Idol." ... But the show bound to draw the most immediate attention is "Skin," a new Monday night drama from super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer about the forbidden romance between the daughter of an adult entertainment kingpin and the son of a Los Angeles district attorney who is prosecuting him.

    Thursday, May 15, 6:59 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Salon has a fascinating piece on Teresa Heinz, the wife of John Kerry who many are saying is a liability to the campaign (Drudge and the nutcase Right are already taking swipes at her):

    Indeed. If Teresa Heinz has a handicap in this race, it is the growing reluctance of Americans to believe that such a woman, at least in the realm of politics, might truly exist. The fact that some in the Kerry camp worry that such a political wife should exist is another problem. Could they be frightened by barbs like the one from Republican political consultant Nelson Warfield in the Times, who said of Heinz, "She's likely to be the Sharon Osbourne of first ladies"? Well, first, it should be noted that for some people, this would be a selling point. More important, though, the comment came in the same breath as a snotty reference to Heinz's wealth and the claim -- which she denies -- that she will fund Kerry's campaign. By Heinz's own measure, that would be frankness tainted by offensiveness and indiscretion, a transgression that warrants scorn, not defensive posturing.

    Rather than worry about Heinz's tendency to be exuberant and wear the same Chanel jacket all the time (as was reported in Elle), Kerry staffers should be concerned about comments like the one Heinz handler Chris Black made in front of an Elle reporter during a meandering Heinz speech where she talked about green tea and prostate cancer, among other things. According to the story, Black -- hired in a panic last year after Heinz displayed a bit too much spontaneity in a Washington Post profile -- mused about the difficulty of keeping Teresa on message, calling the effort "an ongoing project."

    So far, the project appears to have had only limited success. One apparent victory -- convincing Heinz to use the name Heinz Kerry during the campaign -- was more or less nullified by Heinz's comment about the change in Elle. "Now, politically, it's going to be Teresa Heinz Kerry, but I don't give a shit, you know? There are other things to worry about."

    With any luck, Black et al. will throw in the towel before Heinz is whipped into Stepford submission, capable of little more than the vacant stare of wifely adoration. Remember: Hillary Clinton was what Costello would call "a strong, independent woman," who, until she was saddled with reinventing healthcare, was more of an asset than a curse to her (twice-elected) husband's cause, in spite of the squealing that accompanied her every move.

    Honestly, at a time when political paragons of rectitude crumble like Baghdad statues, the unabashed candor of Teresa Heinz isn't just refreshing, it is a rare virtue -- and potential political gold. Stodgy purveyors of Beltway mythology are welcome to fret and fume about what sort of political wife can win, but they are wasting their time. We have discovered one that we deserve.
    As much as liberals may want to believe America will accept a woman like Teresa Heinz, I'm not as optimistic. Here's what she is:

    1) Didn't take her husband's name
    2) Has been married to two high profiled politicians.
    3) Swears.
    4) Is strong willed
    5) Is rich
    6) Isn't willing to take crap.

    Now, Heinz will go up against the same people who smeared Hillary because she was a laywer, wife and mother. In Republican circles, where Phyllis Schlafly posters cover the walls of pubescent teenage boys' room walls, this is a huge sin. Imagine what they'll say about a woman who, gasp, didn't take her husband's name (Dean's wife didn't either)! And swears? Think about the children! If Kerry does win, Heinz will be a big story come 2004. I. Can't. Wait.

    Thursday, May 15, 5:39 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Bush wants ordinary Americans. Take off your tie.

    President Bush came to Indianapolis to send the message that his tax cut plan will help everyone and not just the wealthy. That's why all those people sitting behind him were instructed on what to wear.

    When it comes to Bush's public appearances, it seems very little is left to chance. The president has been criticized for the effort and expense that it took to create photo opportunities when he flew onto the USS Abraham Lincoln earlier this month. The same sort of image-making was a part of his Indianapolis speech.

    George W. Bush came to Indianapolis for the picture. And in that picture, the White House wanted ordinary people.

    "These are V.I.P.'s right, ordinary people aren't up on stage behind the president of the United States when he's speaking but the trick is to make V.I.P.'s look like they're ordinary people," said Bill Bloomquist, political scientist.

    That's why everyone sitting behind the president wearing a necktie was instructed to take it off.

    Exhibit A is Brian Bosma. He appeared onstage in a necktie, prior to the president's arrival. When the president got there the Indiana House minority leader had an open collar. In a News 8 interview immediately following the speech, the tie was back on.

    Former state Republican chairman Mike McDaniel helped organize the event. "They wanted them to be themselves and that's what we were trying to get out of those shots and it worked for the most part," he said.

    "They" are the White House staff, and they had other instructions, too. Bush fan Ann McDaniel was told not to flash her camera. Her companion, Wilma Hart, had this to say to the White House staffer: "I said, 'Do we look like we just crawled out from under a rock someplace?'"

    "When you see somebody who is in coat an tie, then not in coat and tie, then in coat and tie, it sort of reveals that this is about stagecraft rather than statecraft," said Bloomquist.

    Peyton Manning was apparently allowed to keep his tie on. But then, everybody knows he's not ordinary.
    Petyon was apparently also allowed to keep his subpar throwing arm. Har har har har har (Broncos, 2004). But I digress.

    Thursday, May 15, 5:39 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    "Mommy, why do I have to write these columns when everyone else is out playing?"

    14-year old WorldNetDaily columnist Kyle Williams makes a good point:

    Celebrities are not responsible for actions of those who see them as role models, but if I were a mainstream celebrity with a conscience, I would definitely have a hard time sleeping at night.

    The question is this: If these teens are inspired by a movie to light themselves on fire, jump off five-story buildings and commit other insane stunts, then how many teens out there are imitating the immoral virtues that other parts of the entertainment industry espouse?
    Yes, role models ... teens ... imitating the immoral virtues ... hmm ...

    Flashback: Bush arrested for DUI.
    Now: Bush twins accused of breaking drinking law..

    So does George W. Bush have trouble sleeping at night? What about Republican leader Newt Gingrich?
    For one thing, Gingrich pioneered a denial of adultery that some observers would later christen "the Newt Defense": Oral sex doesn't count. In a revealing psychological portrait of the "inner" Gingrich that appeared in Vanity Fair (September 1995), Gail Sheehy uncovered a woman, Anne Manning, who had an affair in Washington in 1977 with a married Gingrich.

    "We had oral sex," Manning revealed. "He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, 'I never slept with her.'" She added that Gingrich threatened her: "If you ever tell anybody about this, I'll say you're lying."

    Manning was then married to a professor at West Georgia, the backwater college where Gingrich taught. "I don't claim to be an angel," she told Sheehy, but "he's morally dishonest." ...

    The most notorious incident in Gingrich's marriage -- first reported by David Osborne in Mother Jones magazine in 1984 -- was when he cornered Jackie in her hospital room where she was recovering from uterine cancer surgery and insisted on discussing the terms of the divorce he was seeking.

    Shortly after that infamous encounter, Gingrich refused to pay his alimony and child-support payments. The First Baptist Church in his hometown had to take up a collection to support the family Gingrich had deserted.
    Or how about Phil Gramm?
    Gramm bragged about that episode in gutter-politics, and it was representative. During his 1995-96 presidential campaign, Gramm enthusiastically joined a frenzy of gay bashing promoted by the so-called Christian Coalition. As Frank Rich reported in The New York Times, "Gramm joined a successful effort ... to oust a longtime Des Moines school board member because he was gay. (The campaign's target had to wear a bulletproof vest before the school board election was over.)" Gramm would later be embarrassed by the revelation that he had invested money in the production of a failed soft-porn film, Beauty Queens -- presumably intended for "the dusky places where you and I don't go."
    Gee, maybe Gary Bauer?
    Nine members of Bauer's staff have quit in the last month, including Charles Jarvis, Bauer's campaign manager, and Tim McDonald, former chief of advance operations. Jarvis and McDonald have said publicly that they resigned in protest of Gary Bauer's "inappropriate" behavior in travelling alone and spending time behind closed doors with a 26-year-old deputy campaign manager.

    Jarvis says that he and others in the campaign warned Bauer several times "in the clearest possible terms" that he was creating "the appearance of impropriety" by spending "hours and hours and hours behind closed doors with a young single woman." Neither Jarvis nor McDonald has directly claimed that sex occurred, though.

    An unnamed source in the Bauer campaign said that Bauer has been traveling alone with this hot 26-year old blond (deputy campaign manager Melissa McClard) on a daily basis and the two have been so inseparable that it was like a "husband-wife relationship." This source said that rumors of an affair have circulated inside the campaign for months, and that several people told the candidate of their concern. "Bauer told them basically to buzz off -- that it was his personal business," the source said. Other staff members who quit include media consultant Tom Edwards and Betty Barrett, who was Bauer's secretary for 15 years. They declined comment.
    Or what about Bill Bennett and the millions of dollars he lost gambling? I wonder what kind of great new Bibles or VeggieTales videos Bennett's kids could have bought with that money.

    Gee, forget about Hollywood celebrities! I'm more concerned about the impact these Republican leaders have on our children! And what about DUI? I'm no genius, but drinking and driving is a no-no. And unlike the Bush twins, the teens in this country don't have secret service agents escorting them from drinking and smoking parties. Forget about the influence Clinton and the BJ has on this country, I'm more concerned about drunk driving.

    But he's only 14, so I'll give him a pass for having a warped view of Hollywood. After all, I imagine he hasn't seen a single R movie his entire life. Poor thing. When I was his age I was watching, "Terminator 2," "Predator" and "Commando" and had no idea that some liberal Hollywood guy was making these violent and deplorable movies! I hope the same people who make these violent movies don't become, say, Republican governor with the support of the same people who condemn violence in Hollywood and immorality.

    Thursday, May 15, 4:59 pm

    permanent link | -Eric.

    EPI does another great job with illustrating the Bush recession. Now, those who are unemployed are spending more time looking work. But we shouldn't have federal funding go to help those people find jobs because, you know, they're just lazy and we love social darwinism so we can't fund that sort of behavior.

    In 2002, 18.3% of the unemployed spent more than six months looking for work; this number had increased to 21.8% by April 2003. In particular, long-term unemployment became more concentrated among three groups:

    • mid-career workers (those over 45 years old)—34.8% of long-term unemployed workers were over 45 years old;

    • college graduates—18.1% of the long-term unemployed had college degrees; and

    • executive, professional, and managerial workers—20.1% of the long-term unemployed came from these occupations.

    In April 2003, unemployment increased to 6.0%. Throughout this recession, analysts have anticipated higher unemployment rates resulting from job losses and weak economic growth in the United States. Despite the weak economic performance, the unemployment rate has remained low, largely because many people have given up looking for a job. Some people have returned to school to receive training, while others look for work only occasionally because they are discouraged by the lack of job prospects.

    The weak demand for workers coupled with ongoing economic weakness means that losing a job may be relatively rare, but once lost, finding a new job is increasingly difficult. A good indicator of the difficulty many of the unemployed have finding a job is the average number of weeks spent looking for work. As of April 2003, the average spell of unemployment increased to 19.6 weeks. The average unemployment duration has not been that high since January 1984; at that time, the national unemployment rate stood at 8%. Although some analysts claim that the relatively low unemployment rate reflects an "adequate" labor market, in truth, the labor market is considerably worse than adequate for the unemployed.

    Thursday, May 15, 9:12 am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    The latest report from Green Scissors has come out. Here's the basic description of the report:

    The Green Scissors 2003 report highlights programs and projects that taxpayer, environmental and consumer organizations agree should be cut to stop wasteful spending that harms the environment. Over the last eight years, $26 billion in environmentally harmful spending programs targeted by the Green Scissors Campaign have been cut or eliminated from the federal budget.

    The Green Scissors Campaign calls on Congress to protect the environment and taxpayers as it begins debating the federal budget in the coming weeks. "With the country facing the worst deficits in history, politicians need to dam the river of red ink," said Aileen Roder, program director at Taxpayers for Common Sense. "By blocking the tracks of the special interest gravy train, we can get our fiscal ship in shape and preserve the environment at the same time." ...

    Recommendations offered in Green Scissors 2003 outline a clear path toward fiscal and environmental responsibility. It is time for the 108th Congress and the administration to implement the important spending cuts proposed in this report. Green Scissors 2003 outlines 68 recommendations that would do much to protect our natural resources, reduce unnecessary government spending by more than $58 billion, and help guide our nation towards a more sustainable economic and ecological future.
    You can read the entire report here.

    Thursday, May 15, 8:52 am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    "It's been reported that just before the war in Iraq began, Saddam Hussein withdrew $1 billion from Iraq's Central Bank. After hearing about the billion dollars, President Bush vowed to hunt Saddam down and give him a huge tax cut." Conan O'Brien

    "Earlier today, the Chinese government launched China's first 24-hour news channel. Since the channel will only report stories that are favorably to the ruling party they've decided to call it Fox News." Conan O'Brien
    Thursday, May 15, 8:44 am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Apparently, polls at are great indicators of how the country stands on issues ...

    OREILLY: Also, we asked you the question on Should the taxes paid by higher-income Americans be used to help lower-income Americans, income redistribution? In other words, do you approve of that? More than 20,000 of you logged on to Eighty-four percent say no, no income redistribution. Just 16 percent say yes. One of the most lopsided polls we've ever had.

    It's not ridiculous. Americans do not want a Robin Hood-style tax-and-spend system by the federal government.
    This, despite the fact that a majority of the country, and now more than ever, believe tax rates are fine.

    Thursday, May 15, 7:54 am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    Check out NRDC's new campaign, Break the Chain ...

    Auto companies have developed a host of new fuel-saving technologies and innovations, but for the most part they haven't put them into widespread production. Congress, the White House and state governments have the power to make them do it. As consumers and voters, so do we.

    On these pages is a look at technologies that will cut oil use and pollution a lot, but only if they're widely used. By expanding production of gasoline-electric hybrids and making improvements in conventional vehicles, automakers could raise the fuel efficiency of new vehicles to 40 miles per gallon by 2012 and 55 mpg by 2020. Doing this would cut our projected oil demand in half by 2020, and save consumers almost $30 billion per year. And here's how much oil these fuel efficiency improvements would save Americans (while also cutting billions of tons of global warming pollution):

    Nearly 4 billion barrels of oil over the next dozen years

    Nearly 2 million barrels every day by 2012 -- that's slightly more than we imported from Saudi Arabia in 2001, and three times our imports from Iraq

    Nearly 5 million barrels per day by 2020, which is almost twice our total current imports from the Persian Gulf

    America can break the chain of oil dependence. The big automakers have heavy-duty boltcutters in their toolchest. So does our government. Our job is to get these tools off the shelf.

    Thursday, May 15, 7:51 am

    permanent link | -Eric.

    We can all sleep a little better. Tommy Chong will be put away ...

    Tommy Chong, the actor who toked his way to fame as one half of Cheech & Chong, has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge of peddling drug paraphernalia online.

    The actor cum businessman was picked up by the feds at his Gardena, California, home in February for selling marijuana pipes on the Web via his Nice Dreams Enterprises. Authorities confiscated about $120,000 in proceeds from the sales of pipes and glass bongs featuring Chong's spaced-out-looking mug shot endorsement.

    The crackdown was part of a national government drug sweep by the government called "Operation Pipe Dreams." Nice Dreams is one of several companies facing the nightmare of illegal drug charges--17 other similar cases are also pending.

    Chong could face five years of prison time and a $250,000 fine for his antics, but prosecutors say his punishment will probably be less. A sentencing hearing is set for September 11, and the actor has been released on $20,000 bond.

    The feds are calling the ruling a victory in the fight against drugs and hope it serves as a warning to other online dealers who sell drug-promoting items like bongs, crack pipes and roach clips online under the guise of "tobacco-smoking" aids
    Thank you to Mr. Ashcroft's Operation Pipe Dreams, which diverted hundreds of agents from unimportant things like the war on terrorism and homeland security. We now have Tommy Chong. As the saying goes, with Tommy Chong goes Osama and Saddam.

    Thursday, May 15, 2:34 am

    permanent link | -Eric. Hollywood Watch, by James L. Hirsen

    Greetings Hamster readers! My name is James L. Hirsen, conservative columnist for, where I write the Left-Coast column. This is a new segment on website, and thanks to Eric for having me. I'm excited to bring you the latest news from the entertainment industry, especially on how you can be a great American and by boycotting liberal Hollywood. Let's get started, like Alec Baldwin on a BAD MOVIE.

    Alright, grab your copy of The Bell Curve, and snuggle next to your wife (but don't touch her), this weekend is another boring one for America-loving Americans. First off is The Matrix: Reloaded. Unfortunately, the movie stars notorious liberal Laurence Fishburne as the all-knowing Morpheus. Not only did he sign the anti-war petition with 'Artists United to Win Without War,' he's also Black! Chances are 95% that he doesn't support the country or our president. With a man like that, it's highly likely this action movie will have action: support for the FRENCH. In the future, how about a little less unpatriotic casting? For the next Matrix movie, may Hollywood Watch suggest for the role of Morpheus CBS football analyst and Republican donor Jim Nantz?

    "You take the red pill, Neo, because red is the color of the blood that American soldiers spilt to protect your liberal ass's right to speak. Deon?"

    But don't think that liberal Hollywood's movie propaganda stops there. Great jeepers peepers, no. The people who directed the movie, The Wachowski brothers, are Hollywood BIGWIG INTELLECTUALS. That's right, according to Jada Pinkett Smith, the Wachowski brothers are into ivy-league liberal prof CORNEL WEST and based some of the movie's philosophy on him. One wonders who's next on their influence list? Alan Dershowitz?! Hollywood Watch is not surprised. After all, this movie set in modern times is about a bunch of revolutionaries overthrowing the fascist government and system. Sounds familiar? Does liberal icon and Ed Harris supported Joseph Stalin sound familiar?? Talk about a movie soft on communism. These 'brothers' are more un-American than the Brothers Karamazov.

    Also disturbing is the soundtrack for The Matrix Reloaded, which features liberal fiends Rage Against the Machine, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson. No wonder in the first Matrix the main 'heroes' were seen killing POLICE OFFICERS. Rage Against the Machine openly advocates such killings with its association with that Mumia Abu character! And what about Mr. Zombie and Manson? Typical liberal values, all satan-lovers? And no, I don't mean BARBARA STREISAND. Instead of supporting hate against Christians and police officers, why not promote values and morality? Hollywood Watch asks, Was Tobby Keith not available?

    The Matrix Reloaded? Try The Matrix, UNLOADED.

    The second and only other wide released movie opening this weekend is "Down with Love," which is described as "Aaaah... it's New York City in 1963, and love is blooming between a journalist (Ewan McGregor) and a feminist advice columnist (Rene Zellweger), who's falling head over heels despite her beau's playboy lifestyle.." Liberal propaganda never stops! Another movie starring a feminist advice columnist set in 1960s New York City? Why can't Hollywood show more movies with women staying in the home, playing second banana to their hard-working, leading and masculine husbands? "Down with Love"? May Hollywood Watch suggest, "Down with Traditional Families."

    So, folks, this weekend looks like another dud for patriotic Americans who love their country. Maybe next week will be better … and Alec Baldwin will move TO FRANCE. And that's "a wrap," I'm James L. Hirsen for Hollywood Watch.