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December 31, 2004

Online Comm Roundup

Dennis Kucinich. "Whatever Happened To Peace On Earth?"
Lara Riscol. 2004: Year Of Perversion; It was a year when conservatives made sexual perversion an art form.
Matthias Gebauer. Temple of death; The temple of Lom Kaen in the devastated tourist hub of Phuket, Thailand, is for many the last stop in the search for missing loved ones
Judy Jackson and Debbie Nathan. The Hunting of Dr. Craft: Judy Jackson and Debbie Nathan report on a child therapist wrongly jailed
Jeff Epton. Antiwar Action: Back to the ‘60s?
Joan Conrow. Earth Workers
Tim McGivern . Just Healthcare; An Albuquerque doctor and community activists, fed up with what they call "our corrupt and irrational health care system," open their own clinic for uninsured patients.
Laura Miller. The 2004 Falsies Awards: Remembering the people and players responsible for polluting our information environment
Walter Brasch. President Bush's 'Appropriate' Response

Posted by Eric at 07:03 PM | Comments (2)

Paper Oped Roundup

Bob Herbert. Our Planet, and Our Duty
John Nichols. A real road map for Middle East peace
Jonathan Chait. Billions for Pork as Science Is Slashed
Capital Times. Barack Obama, our person of the year
E. J. Dionne Jr. Lessons for Democrats
Bill McClellan. When it comes to defining liberals, count me as one
Seattle PI. One word: Preposterous: Absolutely preposterous. Dino Rossi's call for a rerun of the governor's election has no basis, at least so far
StarTrib. Mercury pollution/Time for tougher limits

Posted by Eric at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

Blog Roundup

BoldPrint. The Callous States of America
Jerome Armstrong. Ford on SS & theTennessee Senate
Ezra Klein. The Worst Of The Worst
wonkette. Spare the Jingoism, Spoil the Child
TalkLeft. Justice Dept. Issues New Torture Memo
AmericanStreet. Tsunami Blogs you can rely on
DCCC. Anarchist Republicans?
politicalwire. GOP Got More Bang for Buck
Matthew Yglesias. WHAT IRAQIS WANT
dailykos. Advice for Republicans
nathannewman.org. World's Poor Lowest Priority

Posted by Eric at 03:05 AM | Comments (5)

Blog Roundup

New year, new type of roundup. As you know - unless you're searching for 'hamster food' on google (I believe this is 92% of my audience) - I do roundups from papers (mostly opeds, sometimes news), and internet commentary sites. Now, I'm going to start blog roundups, hopefully on a daily basis. Long overdue, considering this is a blog, and I read a lot of blogs.

Anyway, a lot of people send me stories, so if you have blog entries too, send it along, and it might get linked! Whooho! Here's another exclamation point !

Posted by Eric at 03:00 AM | Comments (5)

Self-Inflicted Tsunami Damage

From Josh Micah Marshall in TPM:

Ayn Rand institute says US aid to disaster victims is wrong, though private charity "may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own." (emphasis added)

I'm waiting to hear about the minority of victims suffering because of self-inflicted tsunami damage.

Posted by Eric at 02:10 AM | Comments (13)

December 30, 2004

"We Need a New Election"

No, not the Democrats, but the Republicans ... in Washington ... state:

Republican Dino Rossi on Wednesday urged his Democratic rival in the closest governor's race in state history to join him in calling for another vote.

"The uncertainty surrounding this election process isn't just bad for you and me — it is bad for the entire state," Rossi said, reading from a letter he said he sent to Democrat Christine Gregoire. "People need to know for sure that the next governor actually won the election."

Gregoire spokesman Morton Brilliant said she would not be joining Rossi's call. "It's irresponsible to spend $4 million in taxpayer money on a new election just because you don't like losing this one," Brilliant said.

Gregoire is scheduled to be certified as governor-elect today, by 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast.

Rossi made his plea for a revote, which would have to be approved by the state Legislature, during a news conference. "A revote would be the best solution for the people of our state, and would give us a legitimate governorship," his letter said.

Posted by Eric at 11:47 PM | Comments (9)

Moveon.org Email

Dear MoveOn member,

The tsunami in southern Asia and Africa may be the worst natural disaster of our time. More than 116,000 lives were wiped out within hours. The toll in death and suffering from smashed cities, broken families, rampant disease, and crippled economies cannot even be calculated. In the face of this horror, MoveOn members have poured in requests to help, asking how we can push through our sadness and lend a hand.

Rising to this challenge is at the heart of global leadership, and the world is depending on us. The U.S. government can lead billions of dollars of aid into this relief effort, if it chooses. Americans are generous and ready to step forward, but the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration have made a weak initial contribution to the effort -- first offering $15 million and then $35 million when they came under pressure. Clearly, we can do more.

Let Congress and the President know that Americans are supporting strong leadership in this relief effort -- that millions of lives are at stake and we have to help. In this hour of need, if America chooses to embrace our role as a world leader, we can have an unparalleled impact. Send a message to our leaders at:


But we can't just wait for this Congress to move. We can help directly, as individuals, and save lives today. Our friends at Oxfam are already scrambling on the front lines to fight off starvation and disease -- and beginning to rebuild. Because Oxfam has worked for years with grassroots groups in the hardest hit areas, they were able to mobilize local leadership to help survivors immediately after the tsunami hit. And Oxfam will be there for the long-term, helping communities recover and regain their ability to meet basic needs. Oxfam needs to raise $5 million immediately to provide safe water, sanitation, food, shelter, and clothing to 36,000 families in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. Your contribution can make this possible.

Please give what you can, at:


Posted by Eric at 10:20 PM | Comments (20)

Online Commentary

Molly Ivins. How 'bout a do-over? 2004 had its highlights, but on the whole we got it wrong
William Pfaff. An Army's Morale on the Downswing
VillageVoice. Bush Misoverestimates It - But at least the tsunami halted the murder, rape, and torture in resource-rich Aceh
John Nichols. Bush Fails a Global Test; Initial commitment to aid tsunami victims less than budget for inaugural parties
Katrina vanden Heuvel. The Republican Dictionary: Part 3; Nation readers decode the right's linguistic trickery.
Andisheh Nouraee. Don't Panic! Why Do Terrorists Hate Us? Contrary to what we've heard, a Defense Department report says that Muslims hate the United States not for our freedoms but for our policies.
Greg Mitchell. 'Some readers want to lock up Al Neuharth'
Juan Cole. Tsunami toll nearly 70,000 and rising — where's Bush?'
Bill Berkowitz. Christian right's compassion deficit; More than 100,000 dead in south Asia, but it's business as usual at the web sites of America's Christian right organizations
BuzzFlash. Nat Hentoff Journalist has his eye on our eroding freedoms... but do the rest of us?
Mark Follman. The year of the sucker punch; Bush's reelection was a body blow to liberals, but right-wingers hit below the belt from the start. From O'Reilly to Limbaugh to Lott, a look at 2004's lowlights from the right
Amy Sullivan. WHY W. DOESN'T GO TO CHURCH. Empty Pew

Posted by Eric at 05:02 PM | Comments (7)

Thursday Paper Roundup

Sidney Blumenthal. A state of chaos: George Bush has purged the last of his father's senior advisers, handing over control to his neocon allies.
Seattle PI. Ready, aim, slaughter: Without public hearings, Congress and President Bush have undone key parts of more than 30 years of federal law protecting wild horses and burros. The slaughter is about to resume, quite literally
Frank Rich. Washington's New Year War Cry: Party On!
StarTrib. The stingy U.S./An appalling performance
Warren Christopher. Diplomacy That Can't Be Delegated
NYT. Are We Stingy? Yes
Capital Times. Aid victims of tsunamis
BGlobe. Fuzzy Pell Grant math: KEEP AN EYE on the money: Federal officials are expected to change the formula for giving out college financial aid. If they do, some students and their families will be left with less help
LAT. A Thirsty World: The new threat, like the old one, derives from water. The tsunami that killed at least 77,000 people in the Indian Ocean basin on Sunday has now put millions of others at grave risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera, hepatitis, dysentery and typhoid fever, according to the United Nations Children's Fund
Bruce Babbitt. Shred the Roadmap to Salmon Extinction

Posted by Eric at 07:01 AM | Comments (7)

December 29, 2004

Online Commentary Roundup

Andrew Ackerman. Tim Spicer's World; Why was a notorious mercenary awarded a $293 million Pentagon contract?
Arianna Huffington. 2004: Things To Forget; It was a year full of memorable events, but here are some worth forgetting.
Andrew O'Hehir. The worst of Times; Two new books on the New York Times relive its recent crises. But while the Jayson Blair scandal made for splashy headlines, the real question is how the country's leading newspaper will recover from spreading lies about Iraq's WMD
David Talbot. The fearless Susan Sontag; In a 2001 Salon interview, the brilliant author and activist, who died Tuesday, strikes back at America's cowlike media
Howard Zinn. Harness That Anger
Stephen King. Sadly, This Disaster Makes Little Difference to the Markets; Some Countries Have Benefited Hugely from Globalization, While Others Have Been Left Far Behind
Jim Lobe. US Businesses Overseas Threatened by Rising Anti-Americanism
Randolph T. Holhut. 'Bush's disinfo campaign to create Social Security 'crisis''
Amy Sullivan. Bob in Paradise; How Novak created his own ethics-free zone.
Byron Williams. Rotten apples don't fall far from the tree; ACLU reveals documents suggesting torture orders came from the top
Jesse L. Jackson Jr. and James D. Henderson. Making Elections Better, and Stopping Divisiveness, Too
James Ridgeway, with Nicole Duarte. A Tsunami of Greed; As the poor of Asia count their dead, Wall Street basks in riches
Laura Rozen. The Committee on the Present Danger's Iran Paper Makes Sense
Rebecca Solnit. Hope in the Dark: There are other possible futures than the grim ones offered us by the Bush administration
David Moberg. Maytag Moves to Mexico; The closing of the Galesburg Maytag plant has left more manufacturing workers pondering an uncertain future
David Greenberg. Action Liberalism: On the trail from the New Deal to Kingman Brewster to Gene McCarthy
Dan Frosch. Soldier´s Heart
Geri L. Dreiling. The Women of Wal-Mart
John Tarleton. Invisible Soldier; War on Iraq: A perilous journey from New York to Falluja and back leaves one soldier out in the cold.

Posted by Eric at 05:07 PM | Comments (11)

Paper Opinion Roundup

Jonathan Freedland. Why this year has taught me to be more of a cynic - I didn't predict it, but the theme of 2004 was unaccountability
Barry Raff. Abstinence only’ puts young people at risk
Harold Meyerson. Energetic New Faces . . .
Adam Werbach. A Challenged Environment- How environmentalists can matter again
SFC. Bush's activist bench
Robert Kuttner. You can't blame 'Uncle Sam' for what Bush does
Derrick Z. Jackson. Pace setters for graduating college athletes
Kevin Drum. Stop Sweating Social Security -- the End Is Not Near
LAT. Outrageous Fortunes

Posted by Eric at 08:34 AM | Comments (9)

Donate to the Red Cross

In their relief efforts. Amazon.com one click link here or directly on the Red Cross page.

Edit: Other possible group/ngos here.

Posted by Eric at 06:47 AM | Comments (21)

Clinton on the Aid Effort

From the AP:

"It is really important that somebody take the lead in this," he told BBC Radio 4's Today program.

"I think one of the problems is when everybody takes responsibility it's almost like no one's responsibility."

Clinton said individual countries should target aid at specific areas.

"Maybe what we should do is get countries or groups of countries to take responsibility for specific countries that were hurt," he said.

"I think if you did that you would have a better chance of seeing responsibilities fulfilled even when the emotional tug wanes."

Meanwhile, here's the current president:
Although U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland yesterday withdrew his earlier comment, domestic criticism of Bush continued to rise. Skeptics said the initial aid sums -- as well as Bush's decision at first to remain cloistered on his Texas ranch for the Christmas holiday rather than speak in person about the tragedy -- showed scant appreciation for the magnitude of suffering and for the rescue and rebuilding work facing such nations as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Indonesia.

After a day of repeated inquiries from reporters about his public absence, Bush late yesterday afternoon announced plans to hold a National Security Council meeting by teleconference to discuss several issues, including the tsunami, followed by a short public statement ... Some foreign policy specialists said Bush's actions and words both communicated a lack of urgency about an event that will loom as large in the collective memories of several countries as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks do in the United States. "When that many human beings die -- at the hands of terrorists or nature -- you've got to show that this matters to you, that you care," said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The world will love us more.

Posted by Eric at 06:17 AM | Comments (10)

December 28, 2004

Priorities ...

A terrible disaster, no doubt ... however, this from TVNewser:

FNC's Jennifer Griffin deserves kudos for her reporting along the shore in Thailand. Viewers felt like they were there -- especially when she started coughing from the smell of the decaying bodies. But some viewers are criticizing FNC's editorial decisions.

Around 10am, during a live report from Jennifer Griffin, FNC interrupted "to take a live shot of the end of a car chase in Charlotte N.C.," a TVSpyer says. Apparently they returned to Griffin's live report afterwards. An hour later, when Fox lost Griffin's satellite feed from Thailand, the network transitioned to a "Fox News Alert" about flooding in Los Angeles, with a live shot from the local affiliate.

> A couple of e-mailers are offended that FNC spent time talking about a supermodel whose hip was hurt in the cataclysm, "giving them a chance to run...bathing suit tape, instead of that annoying video that shows the heart-wrenching reality." MSNBC reported "A Supermodel's Story" during the 11am hour, and showed similar video...

Posted by Eric at 07:33 PM | Comments (5)

Online Commentary Roundup

Bill Moyers. Journalism Under Fire
James Ridgeway. Homeland Insecurity - The American empire goes for broke—and it could be heading that way
DailyKos. Conservative versus Wingnuts
Wayne Smith. To Tailor the Truth
Norman Solomon. Tailgated by Media Technology
Lou Dubose. Washington Lobbyists Shake Down Indian Casinos - When Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition, led a Christian anti-gambling crusade in Texas, he was secretly being paid $4.2 million by lobbyist Jack Abramoff for his work. Abramoff, who represents a tribe running a casino in Louisiana, didn't want the Tiguas to have a competing casino in Texas
David Lee Simmons. Fresh Breath - "Fresh Air" host Terry Gross talks about the art of the interview, her new book, and wrestling with Bill O'Reilly
Robert Nelson. Do or Die - For most Mexicans who're flooding our borders, it's a life-or-death choice
Artvoice. Vets Bring Home More Than Medals
Katrina vanden Heuvel. Martha Stewart's Christmas Message
Dahlia Lithwick. All the President's Lawyers - Should the attorney general be the president's yes man?
Fred Kaplan. China Expands. Europe Rises. And the United States . . .
Jehangir Pocha. Ethnic Tensions Smolder in China - Government blocks foreign journalists from reporting on Han-Hui riot

Posted by Eric at 06:20 PM | Comments (2)

Tuesday Paper Comm Roundup

John Nichols. Memo to Dems: First, count the votes
Ron Suskind. The Cabinet of Incuriosities
Jesse Jackson. Resolved: Start off 2005 better
Robert Scheer. A Devil's Island for Our Times
Neal Peirce. Drug Law Reforms: Marginal or Real?
Linda McQuaig. History Will Show U.S. Lusted after Oil
NYT. Sounding the Alarm
seattlepi. Fair warning is possible
Helen Thomas. The buck never stops at the top

Posted by Eric at 08:53 AM | Comments (7)

December 27, 2004

Warnings about Warming

From Jan TenBruggencate in the Honolulu Advertiser:

Some folks argue that the warming isn't that big a deal — that it might improve living conditions in colder areas and expand growing seasons in temperate regions. Residents of low-lying coastal and island environments challenge those assumptions, and argue that the results of rising seas are catastrophic to them.

The U.N. weather agency reported that 2004 has been the fourth-warmest year in recorded history. The 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1990, according to the agency's World Meteorological Organization.

Increasingly, nature seems to be backing up the temperature statistics.

The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network reported this month that vast coral reef areas around the globe are threatened by warming seas.

In the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, researchers in 2002 reported significant cases of coral weakness and death from bleaching associated with warm ocean conditions. Bleaching is a sign of severe stress for corals. During the mid-1990s, there were cases of bleaching on reefs in the main Hawaiian Islands.

This month, scientists at Cornell and the University of Wisconsin reported that lilacs planted four decades ago in various locations across the Northeast are now blooming nearly four days earlier in the year than they used to. The genetically identical lilacs had been planted in the 1960s and '70s to see if they could be used as a natural starting gun for spring, a bellwether to tell farmers when it was safe to plant crops.

Smithsonian Institution researchers reported that the cherry blossom trees in Washington, D.C., are blooming a week earlier than they once did.

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment suggests that continued warming will deny polar bears the ice they need to get to feeding grounds. In Antarctica, the British Antarctic Survey is blaming warming for reduced populations of krill, crustaceans that are food for whales and fishes.

The Bush record.

Posted by Eric at 04:33 PM | Comments (14)

Online and Paper Commentary Roundup

Kurt Vonnegut. American Christmas Card 2004
Daniel Altman. Neoconomy: The Bush economic policy amounts to a huge gamble based on a few radical economic assumptions. If these assumptions aren't vindicated, we're in big trouble
Marjorie Cohn. The Emperor-in-Chief
John Nichols. Rule One: Count Every Vote - Christine Gregoire won by refusing to back off demands for a full count
David Morris. Enough Is Enough: The Bush Administration's outrageous behavior at the Buenos Aires climate talks makes it official: the U.S. has become the world's latest rogue nation
Sandra Steingraber. How Mercury-Tainted Tuna Damages Fetal Brains
Naomi Klein. Yes, you must pull out - but also pay for the damage
StarTrib. National forests/Another gift to timber interests
Bob Herbert. Shopping for War
Newsday. What was Kerik thinking?
Joe Wineke. Talk of Democrats' demise is premature
John D. Podesta. Sovereignty for a New Century
LAT. Forest Non-Planning
LAT. A Hero Opens Our Eyes: It may generate more buzz than box office receipts, but the holiday release of the film "Hotel Rwanda" — a heartbreaking look at the African nation's 1994 genocide — should be cheered for going against the grain of Christmas feel-good fare
Honolulu Advertiser. U.N. enemies distort oil-for-food scandal
HonoluluStarBulletin. Bush invites gridlock with judicial nominees
Womens eNews. Cheers & Jeers: 12.27.04
Bill Berkowitz. The chopping Bloch
Ellen Goodman. Media culpa, 2004

Posted by Eric at 02:45 PM | Comments (21)

December 26, 2004

What Will Bush's New Forest Regulations Do?

From the Sierra Club:

The new forest planning rules are likely to:

  • eliminate analysis of forest plans under the National Environment
    Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal government agencies to assess potential environmental impacts of their actions, and examine alternatives;

  • scrap wildlife protections established under President Ronald Reagan;

  • severely limit opportunities for public input into forest management decisions; and;

  • scale back the role of independent scientists in forest management, in favor of administration scientists.

    "Today's new rules could roll back 20 years of forest protections -- even many put in place by Ronald Reagan," said Mike Anderson of The Wilderness Society. "Taken together with the Administration's plan to curtail roadless protection for national forests, these changes will threaten many of our last-remaining roadless areas and old-growth forests."

  • An editorial in today's WPost also condemned the Bush administration for the rule change.

    Posted by Eric at 06:06 PM | Comments (14)

    December 24, 2004

    Happy Holidays

    Happy Holidays! Have a safe and merry one.

    I'll return on the 26.

    Posted by Eric at 01:59 PM | Comments (9)

    December 23, 2004

    It's Gregoire

    The Democrat wins the Washington state gov race:

    Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire won the state's governor's race by 130 votes, according to a hand recount that overturned a 42-vote victory initially awarded to Republican Dino Rossi.

    Gregoire's lead widened from unofficial results released yesterday after King County, which includes Seattle, added 566 votes that were mistakenly left out of earlier tallies. During a third count completed today, Gregoire gained 920 votes, while Rossi picked up 748, according to election officials.

    ``As far as we're concerned, Christine Gregoire is the governor-elect,'' Kirsten Brost, a spokeswoman for the Democrats, said in an interview. ``We've had three counts and we're done.''

    Posted by Eric at 09:20 PM | Comments (12)

    Congratulations, Bill O'Reilly

    The Media Matters 2004 Misinformer of the Year. Why? Take a loookey, seee:

    O'Reilly falsely claimed Bush didn't oppose 9-11 Commission. O'Reilly defended President George W. Bush from a Kerry-Edwards '04 TV ad highlighting Bush's opposition to creation of the 9-11 Commission by denying that Bush had ever opposed the commission. In fact, Bush did oppose the creation of the 9-11 Commission. (10/21/04)
    O'Reilly falsely claimed Iraq had ricin. O'Reilly responded to a caller to his radio show by defending the Iraq war: "They did have ricin up there in the north -- so why are you discounting that so much?" In fact, the Duelfer report (the final report of the Iraqi Survey Group, led by Charles A. Duelfer, which conducted the search for weapons in Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion) indicates that Iraq did not have ricin. (10/19/04)
    O'Reilly repeated discredited claims on Iraq-Al Qaeda link. O'Reilly interrupted a former Clinton administration official who tried to correct the record on O'Reilly's claim that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi constitutes a direct link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He also allowed a conservative guest to repeat without challenge other discredited claims about Iraq's supposed involvement in terrorism -- claims O'Reilly has himself cited in the past. (9/27/04)
    And my favorite:
    O'Reilly fabricated "Paris Business Review" as source for success of French boycott. O'Reilly falsely claimed "they've lost billions of dollars in France according to 'The Paris Business Review'" due to an American boycott he advocated of French imports. Media Matters for America found no evidence of a publication named "The Paris Business Review." (4/27/04)

    Posted by Eric at 04:35 PM | Comments (7)

    Online Stories

    mediamatters. MISINFORMER OF THE YEAR: Bill O'Reilly
    Sam Graham-Felsen. Are Students Red or Blue? The war rages on to win hearts and minds on colleges campuses
    Matthew Rothschild. The Palace Mentality
    mediamatters. FOX's Gallagher: giving blankets to illegal immigrants is "kind of like offering a burglar" tools for a break-in
    Jeff Milchen. Beyond Buying Blue
    Michael Tomasky. Jack the Giant - Remembering New York journalist Jack Newfield, who died Monday night
    Jeannette Batz Cooperman. The Compassion of the Christ
    David Corn. Back to Bush's Regularly Scheduled Problems
    Bill Berkowitz. Bill Donohue's Jewish problem
    Rick Perlstein. The Case of the Ohio Recount
    Jon Elliston. Radio revolution? "Progressive talk" joins the battle for Asheville's airwaves
    Joshua Greene. HOMELESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS - It's the most wonderful time of the year — except for Cleveland's growing number of hungry, cold and desperate homeless
    Harry Kelber. Did AFL-CIO's Total Silence on War in Iraq Hurt Kerry's Chances to Win Presidency?
    Bart Acocella. The Education President - Pell Grants then and now
    Katrina vanden Heuvel. What do the CIA, the Pentagon and the UN Have in Common? Rare agreement
    The Nation. Seeds of Hope - 2004 produced enough progress to inspire hope for better days.

    Posted by Eric at 02:40 PM | Comments (4)

    Thursday Stories

    CNN. Department of Education to tighten Pell Grant eligibility
    South Bend Tribune. Roemer may make bid to lead DNC; Says Democrats need 'clear national security policy' that includes diplomacy, military power.
    SunSentinel. Graham puts in his final `workday'
    HoustonChron. Questions remain after man's release Inmate finally freed; prosecutor wonders how the case went wrong
    WPost. Bush Appealed on Medicaid
    WPost. Intelligence Procedures Realigned
    WPost. Arlington Firm Quits Work in Iraq
    ESPN. Can John McCain save sports?
    USAT. Intelligence agency trapped in Cold War mode In her book, ex-spy says espionage tactics haven't been adapted to new threats
    USAT. Employers play Grinch Workers get less paid time off this year
    USAT. Mosul attack evidence insurgents' intel better
    Reuters. Palestinians Vote in Litmus Test Local Poll
    Reuters. Abortive Bush Cabinet Nominee Quits Giuliani Firm
    AP. Michigan Congressman Seeks Exit Poll Data
    AP. Rumsfeld Passionately Defends Himself
    AP. Many in GOP Wary of Social Security Plan
    AP. U.S. Re-Examines Security at Iraq Bases
    NYT. U.S. Agrees to Pay for Diverting Water to Aid Two Rare Fish
    NYT. Students to Bear More of the Cost of College
    NYT. China in Line as U.S. Rival for Canada Oil
    SeattlePI. Third time may be a charm for Gregoire
    SFC. Tradition vs. equality argued in S.F. court - Advocates, foes lay out their cases before judge
    LAT. Democrats Rethinking Abortion
    LAT. U.S. Rewrites Forestry Rules
    LAT. Tightest Security At Bases Has Holes

    Jeff Wells. Birds are losing ground
    SeattlePI. New cause for concern
    StarTrib. Renewable Bill/Clinton's new politics of energy
    NYT. America, the Indifferent
    Maureen Dowd. Christmas Eve of Destruction
    SFC. 4 million dead in Congo
    Ellen Goodman. The soul of a machine
    LAT. Not Home for the Holidays

    Posted by Eric at 06:13 AM | Comments (9)

    On Protecting Rights for All

    From David Shapiro in the Honolulu Advertiser:

    We must stand up for our fellow citizens of the Muslim faith not only because it is the moral and American thing to do, but also because a threat to their rights is a threat to all of us.

    Anybody who doubts this should remember the poem by the Rev. Martin Niemoller, a German dissident interned in Nazi concentration camps during World War II:

    They came first for the Com- munists

    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

    Then they came for the Jews

    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for the trade unionists

    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade union- ist.

    Then they came for the Catholics

    and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

    Then they came for me

    and by that time no one was left to speak up.

    Posted by Eric at 06:05 AM | Comments (6)

    Gregoire leads by 10

    Seattle Times: "After winning the first two counts in the state's closest race ever, Rossi fell behind Democrat Christine Gregoire by 10 votes in what was supposed to be the final day of an unprecedented statewide manual recount. And he could drop even more after the state Supreme Court yesterday rejected a Republican attempt to block King County from reconsidering more than 700 ballots that the county said had been mistakenly disqualified."

    Posted by Eric at 05:03 AM | Comments (4)

    December 22, 2004

    Jesus Weeping Over O'Reilly Criticisms


    FOX News host Bill O'Reilly declared that "[s]omewhere Jesus is weeping" over criticism of O'Reilly in the print media. O'Reilly issued this lament at the end of his December 20 "Talking Points Memo" segment -- a monologue he devoted entirely to responding to criticisms of him by various op-ed columnists -- on The O'Reilly Factor.

    Posted by Eric at 05:04 PM | Comments (8)


    "And so during these holiday seasons, we thank our blessings." —George W. Bush, Fort Belvoir, Va., Dec. 10, 2004

    Posted by Eric at 04:36 PM | Comments (5)

    Online Comm Stories

    Charles Taylor. Eyes wide shut: The world looked away when evil swept through Rwanda. Ten years later, a movie demands that we finally open our eyes
    CAP. Securing Our Energy Future
    Carmel Martin. Leave No Teacher Behind
    mediamatters. What is happening at MSNBC?
    Jared Bernstein. States of Flux - Progressives can win at the state level. Here, a look at three battles
    David Swanson. Media Blacks Out Bush Attack on Labor
    Rebecca Clarren. Selling the forest for the trees - In a gift to timber industry patrons, the Bush administration is thinning national forests and cutting down government scientists who stand in the way
    Salon. If you like Iraq, you'll love Iran - Kenneth Pollack says the Bush administration doesn't have a clue about what to do in Iran, and doesn't have much time to get it right
    Gene Lyons. Bush backers made a sucker’s bet
    Jonathan Tasini. Of Trade, Quotas And Fairness
    Robert B. Reich. Toothless Tigers and "Tort Reform" - If you're worried about Celebrex and Vioxx, you ain't seen nothin' yet
    Tom Engelhardt. War on the Floor: In the Zone with G.I. Joe
    William Pfaff. Torture: Shock, Awe and the Human Body
    Ellen Goodman. The man, the myth -- the machine? Rumsfeld's machismo gleam fades as war wears on
    Joe Conason. Bush's spending cuts won't include Star Wars
    Lucy Komisar. Take The Money And Run Offshore
    Arianna Huffington. Will the GOP Nuke the Constitution?
    Danielle Allen. Turning Strangers into Political Friends

    Posted by Eric at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Losing Under the Bush Plan

    How would private accounts benefit those on Social Security? From the Economic Policy Institute:

    Indeed, in its primary plan, President Bush's commission on Social Security proposed to slash the guaranteed portion of Social Security by 16% for people who retire in 2022 and who had previously opted for private accounts; the cuts would increase to 40% for those who retired in 2042 and by 62% for those in 2075. To sell those deep cuts, the commission touted the benefits of private accounts, which would require the federal government to borrow several trillion dollars over the next three or four decades. (The additional borrowing would stop once benefit reductions exceeded the new funds going into private accounts.)

    Even with the commission's overly optimistic projections of returns on private accounts, future retirees would lose big under the commission's plan. The combined income from guaranteed benefits and these new private accounts would fall 7%, 12%, and 23% short of the benefits scheduled under current law for 2022, 2042, and 2075, respectively. By their own admission, the commission's privatization proposal would cut benefits significantly ... Economists at Goldman Sachs (GS) have found that the commission used excessively high returns in their projections for both stocks and bonds.1 Using more plausible assumptions about returns and the fact that people are willing to pay to reduce risk, the GS economists have estimated a more realistic risk-adjusted return of 2.7% on personal accounts, far less than the 4.6% used by the commission. They find that a medium income, one-earner couple in 2075 would receive $600 a month in annuity income from a personal saving account-barely half as much as the $1,167 projected by the commission. When added to the $1,156 guaranteed benefit proposed by the President's commission, that generates a monthly total of $1,755—42% less than the $3,009 anticipated under Social Security current law. That's a much larger reduction than the 23% cut under the commission's overly optimistic assumptions.

    Posted by Eric at 11:32 AM | Comments (7)

    8 Votes

    This is quite amazing: "Democrats have claimed victory in the race for Washington governor by a razor-thin margin of eight votes, citing preliminary results of a hand recount they say puts Christine Gregoire in front for the first time. Republicans maintained the race was still too close to call."

    Posted by Eric at 11:24 AM | Comments (2)

    Paper Roundup

    WP. New Papers Suggest Detainee Abuse Was Widespread
    Reuters. W. House Expects Probe of Iraq, Guantanamo Abuses
    ChicST. GOP committeeman charged in $2 million fraud
    ChicST. Washington Democrats say gov race theirs by 8 votes
    CSM. Giving new meaning to 'every vote counts' The seemingly interminable race for Washington governor may hinge on whether 723 originally untallied votes count.
    USAT. Fastest growth in 'red' states Sun Belt gains more residents.
    USAT. Don't count on buying cheaper Canada drugs - Bush task force opposes allowing Americans to import lower-priced medicine
    Reuters. Bush Social Security Plan May Face Hard Sell
    Reuters. Protests Planned for 2nd Bush Inauguration
    Reuters. U.S. Marines Suffer Most Suicides in Five Years
    Newsday. Inside the Mosul mess tent; Settling down for their lunch, soldiers instead must scramble to care for wounded comrades
    NYT. Bush Administration Gives Mixed View on Drug Imports
    NYT. Fighting On Is the Only Option, Americans Say
    NYT. European Court Rules Against Microsoft on Windows
    AP. Blair Pushes for New Mideast Peace Moves
    LAT. Contractor Pulls Out of Reconstruction Effort
    LAT. Giving Them a Sick Feeling; Drug firms are on the defense as filmmaker Michael Moore plans to dissect their industry
    WP. Bush, Mfume Meet at White House
    WP. Two Reports Fault Drug Importation
    AP. Probe launched into mess tent blast

    SFC. Deadly day in Iraq
    NYT. Grim Realities in Iraq; This week's mayhem in Iraq is stark evidence that the effort to create a new Iraqi government that represents all population groups and can defend itself still has a long way to go
    Helen Thomas. Iraqis hate U.S. policies, not freedom
    Joseph S. Nye Jr. Bush can reverse America's declining popularity
    Dave Zweifel. Social Security - a fight we must not lose
    Capital Times. Regarding Rumsfeld
    Derrick Z. Jackson. Deja vu for the delusion of medals
    Robert Kuttner. What Social Security 'crisis'?
    Harold Meyerson. Bullish, Bearish Bush
    StarTrib. Merry Holiday/Culture wars at Christmas

    Posted by Eric at 10:06 AM | Comments (7)

    December 21, 2004

    Media Awards

    From FAIR. One enjoyable award to good ol' cranky, 'get off the yard' newsman Jack Cafferty:

    OUTFOXING FOX PRIZE -- Jack Cafferty, CNN

    As co-anchor of CNN's morning program, Cafferty had something to report on March 31: "It's a red-letter day here in America," he said. "Air America, that communist radio network, starts broadcasting in a little while." Cafferty was unyielding when CNN colleague Soledad O'Brien responded by saying that the new talk-radio network was not communist but liberal. He replied: "Well. Aren't they synonymous?"

    He he hee.

    Posted by Eric at 11:49 PM | Comments (4)

    Poll: Majority Oppose Arctic Refuge Drilling

    From Sierra Club:

    A new national poll released today finds that a solid majority of Americans from all walks of life oppose allowing oil companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The poll, conducted by Zogby International, found that 55 percent of Americans oppose drilling, while only 38 percent want to allow drilling in the Refuge, a natural treasure which has been off limits to drilling and other industrial development since it was set aside by President Eisenhower in 1960.

    Q: Do you think oil companies should be allowed to drill for oil in America’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

    Allow drilling 38%
    Do not allow drilling 55%
    Not sure 7%

    Drilling boosters in Congress have indicated that they may try again to overturn the Refuge’s legal protection early in the new year, attempting to circumvent the normal Senate process by attaching Arctic drilling to the federal budget resolution. Today’s poll found a strong majority of Americans (59 percent v. 25 percent) believe such plans are a "backdoor maneuver that has nothing to do with the budget."

    Posted by Eric at 06:01 PM | Comments (12)

    Online Comm

    John Gorenfeld. Tear Down the Cross; Why is President Bush supporting a group trying to convince African-American churches to literally throw their crosses in the trash?
    Sean Gonsalves. Don't Lose Sight of the Real Scandal
    Cindy Sheehan. Rewarding Incompetence
    Michael Tomasky. Harry and Louise Redux; Social Security can be saved in one way only: on television
    Geri L. Dreiling. Deconstructing Alberto
    James Ridgeway. 'War Crimes' Murmurs; At home, Bush, Warner, Lugar join the department of Rumsfeld defense
    Molly Ivins. Iraq reality check; U.S. government continues to insist 'insurgency' is on brink of collapse
    Joshua Kurlantzick. The Rat Pack; When rat poison manufacturers complained about regulations, the EPA rolled over
    Frida Berrigan. The Real Scandal; The Oil-for-Food program may have been corrupt, but more dangerous dealings have been ignored
    Katrina vanden Heuvel. All Hat, No Cattle; Time's choice of Bush as "Person of the Year" is both unsurprising and shallow
    Katha Pollitt. Stuff These Stockings (Please)
    Liza Featherstone. Down and Out in Discount America; It's the poor who make Wal-Mart tick, explains Liza Featherstone.

    Posted by Eric at 05:43 PM | Comments (2)

    The Unpopular President


    Posted by Eric at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

    Setting Up Rudy?

    From the NYDN gossip page:

    Conservatives continue to feast on Rudy Giuliani's misery.

    As Rudy begins to distance himself from the ethically challenged, briefly nominated Homeland Security chief wanna-be Bernard Kerik, some right-wing hardliners claim White House strategist Karl Rove devised the Kerik debacle to hurt Giuliani's presidential chances in '08.

    "Rove used Rudy and Kerik to tout Bush as the anti-terrorism candidate," says one Republican party player. "But Rudy is too socially liberal for the true-believers. So they let him shoot himself in the foot. Rove knew about Kerik's baggage - and that he could never be confirmed. But he went along with the nomination, betting that the heat would come down on Rudy, which it has." ...

    While some think Giuliani could still be a contender in four years, others believe Rove and Bush have one man in mind for the Oval Office: brother Jeb Bush.

    "They're saying, 'We own the party now,'" says one source, "and we're not going to give it away."

    Posted by Eric at 10:15 AM | Comments (7)

    Paper Roundup

    WP. Poll: Most Say Iraq War Was Mistake
    AP. Nearly Half in U.S. Say Restrict Muslims
    Reuters. Bush Says U.S. Immigration System Not Working
    AP. Environmentalists sue over planned US1 expansion in Everglades
    AP. Fallen Marine's e-mails held up
    WP. GAO Again Faults Federal Books
    WP. Abortion Foes Named to Senate Panel
    LAT. Report: U.S. Will Post Military Officer in Taipei
    AP. Tight inauguration security planned
    NYT. As Criticism Grows, Bush Offers Support of Rumsfeld
    NYT. U.S. Slips in Attracting the World's Best Students
    NYT. New F.B.I. Files Describe Abuse of Iraq Inmates
    NYT. Bush Says Iraqis Aren't Able to Quell Rebels
    USAT. Poll: 52% want Rumsfeld to quit; Only 41% say he's doing a good job; Bush sticks up for Defense secretary at news conference
    USAT. Abuse of detainees alleged Documents: Problems at Gitmo
    AP. Attack on U.S.-Iraqi base leaves 22 dead
    Guardian. Blair in flying visit to Iraq PM visits Baghdad and praises Iraqi election workers

    Jesse Jackson. U.S. policies defy spirit of season
    Tom Arnold. Dare to dream: Africa's crisis must move to the top of the global agenda
    George Monbiot. America's war on itself: Bush's wrecking tactics over climate change follow an established pattern of self-destruction
    Newsday. His usefulness to the Bush administration is coming to an end
    Brett Hulsey. Bush and his cohorts would be wise to implement Jesus agenda
    E. J. Dionne Jr. Peace on Earth? Not with this season's Christmas wars
    StarTrib. Chilly forecast/Not what Bush promised
    Dave Zweifel. Payday loan stores prey on our troops
    Thomas Oliphant. Putin's corruption
    LAT. Merry C-Word

    Posted by Eric at 09:53 AM | Comments (9)

    Brit Hume Defends Rummy

    Though some Republican Senators are calling for Rummy's head, Brit Hume defended Rumsfeld's comments as "quite thoughtful," "pretty reasonable." Media Matters:

    FOX News managing editor and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume praised Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's false claim that the lack of armored vehicles in Iraq is "a matter of production." Hume called Rumsfeld's response to a question about the lack of armor at a December 8 "town hall" meeting with U.S. soldiers "a pretty reasonable answer" and chastised the media for focusing only on Rumsfeld's initial remark that "you go to war with the Army you have ... not the Army you might want." In fact, Rumsfeld's "reasonable" claim -- that the shortage is a result of production capacity -- was false, as numerous follow-up reports by the news media pointed out. Armor Holdings, the Army's main supplier of armored vehicles, told the media it was capable of producing more such vehicles if the Pentagon requested them, which the Pentagon in fact did two days later.
    Brit Hume has a history of defending the administration at the expense of the troops.

    Posted by Eric at 04:45 AM | Comments (5)

    December 20, 2004

    Online Commentary Roundup

    Gerald Rellick. The Right Stuff: Why care about the planet when the “end of days” is near and God will provide in the meantime?
    Geov Parrish. 2004 media follies! The most overhyped and underreported media stories of the year
    Jim Lobe. Neocon Christmas List
    John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira. Movement Interruptus; September 11 slowed the Democratic trend that we predicted, but the coalition we foresaw is still taking shape
    Robert Kuttner. Will's Cheap Shot: Noting prejudice is not a form of condescension
    John de Graaf. Time for Bread and Roses
    David Morris. Fighting Dirty
    Tom Robbins. Another Giuliani aide went to bat for troubled construction firm; Bernie Kerik's Bad Company
    Bill Berkowitz. Topsy Turvy world gone mad; War crimes, war criminals, dead US soldiers, slaughtered Iraqi civilians, and Presidential Medals of Freedom
    Stephan Said. Iraq: A Silenced Majority
    Charles Lambroschini. Match in Space
    Gary Greenberg. The Condemned: In Ohio, and across the country, homeowners are battling cities and developers conspiring to seize their property
    Michael Kazin. Life of the Party; Democrats need to start acting more like the people’s party they once were -- and less like a traveling road show that packs up after each election.
    Todd Gitlin. A Gathering Swarm; The mobilization to defeat George W. Bush was innovative, passionate ... and ultimately insufficient. But its fusion of movement and machine could yet transform the political landscape
    Joel Bleifuss. Time for a Purge?
    American Progress. Ten Things President Bush Doesn't Want You To Know About Scalia and Thomas

    Posted by Eric at 05:36 PM | Comments (8)

    Should Rummy Stay?

    Looking at the other side of the argument, Ehsan Ahrari in the Asia Times:

    Rumsfeld was one of the foremost US officials who should be blamed for the entire Iraqi quagmire, but not any more than George Bush. But the American people last month re-elected Bush for four more years. Why go after Rumsfeld, especially when the chief architect of that policy will not only remain in the White House for four more years, but will unabashedly pursue that failed policy, without any regard to its cost to the global prestige of the United States and to its most precious asset, its youth?

    Iraq is a failure in the making. The upcoming elections there are not likely to make that much of a difference, especially if the Sunnis don't participate, either on their own or as a result of insurgents' attempts to create conditions aimed at bringing about their exclusion.

    The Republican senators who are criticizing Rumsfeld, or wanting his resignation are right about criticizing him, but are wrong in putting the entire blame on him. He, in the final analysis, is only an implementer of a policy made in the White House. The neo-cons want him to resign because they currently envisage their contentious notion of Pax Americana as a doomed proposition.

    Rumsfeld should stay put, and play a major role in paving conditions for America's eventual withdrawal from Iraq. Hounding him out of office is likely to create a bitter debate - if Iraq indeed ends up as a failure of America's foreign policy - that such a reality emerged largely because Rummy was not allowed to remain in office and finish his job.

    Posted by Eric at 05:33 PM | Comments (3)

    Best Equipped Army?

    From Mark Shields in the Washington Post:

    Only 5,910 of the 19,584 Humvees that U.S. troops in Iraq depend on are protected with factory-installed armor.

    • More than 8,000 of the 9,128 medium and heavyweight trucks transporting soldiers and supplies in that war zone are without armor.

    Because of the incompetence or indifference of this nation's civilian leadership of the war, Americans in Iraq are living with an increased risk of death.

    All the official transcripts of White House signing ceremonies for every defense spending bill, all the presidential proclamations for Veterans Day and every prepared statement by the secretary of defense before a congressional committee include the same stock phrase. U.S. troops are invariably referred to as "the best trained, best equipped" ever. Best equipped? To call today's American troops in Iraq the "best equipped" is more than an exaggeration; it is bilge, baloney and cruel.

    An America coming out of the Great Depression somehow found the leadership and the will to build and deploy around the globe 2.5 million trucks in the same period of time that the incumbent U.S. government has failed to get 30,000 fully armored vehicles to Iraq.

    The Bush administration has appropriated $34.3 billion on a theoretical missile defense system -- which proved again this week to be an expensive dud in its first test in two years, when the "kill vehicle" never got off the ground to intercept the target missile carrying a mock warhead -- but has been able up to now, according to congressional budget authorities, to spend just $2 billion to armor the vehicles of Americans under fire.

    Posted by Eric at 02:52 PM | Comments (9)

    Comedy Monday

    “President Bush's daughter, Jenna, announced plans to teach at a public school in Washington, DC. As a result, the teacher's lounge is adding a happy hour.” Conan O'Brien

    "The stores are crowded this year. Retail experts say that if you go shopping expect to wait 30 minutes in lines; or to avoid crowds go see [the movie] "Alexander." Conan O'Brien

    In the same speech President Bush said, "This nation must never settle for mediocrity." Then he said, "...so Dick Cheney will now be giving the rest of the speech." Jay Leno

    "Bad news: America’s trade deficit swelled to an all-time high of $55.5 billion in October. You know what our biggest export is now? National Guard troops." Jay Leno

    "President Bush has his annual physical. He's in great physical shape ... no word on the mental part." David Letterman

    "Even though Kerik has some troubles, he’s still in the holiday spirit. Today he went Caroling ... then Michelling and later he’s going Racheling." David Letterman

    "Lots of changes in baseball are being made right now in the off-season. The latest news is that Pedro Martinez will leave the Red Sox for the Mets. When asked why Pedro was going to the Mets, he said, "I’d like to get out of professional baseball." Conan O'Brien

    Click down for toons.

    Posted by Eric at 02:20 PM | Comments (4)

    News Stories Roundup

    NYDN. Opening Kerik's E-mail; Then-jails boss kept pal abreast of probe
    LAT. Bush Dismayed by Failures of Iraqi Troops and Police
    LAT. White House Stands By Beleaguered Rumsfeld
    LAT. Tom and Jerry at Heart of China's Linguistic Storm
    AP. Time again rates Bush as 'Person of the Year'
    IHT. Anti-gay rule catches others in its net
    Reuters. US Settles Nazi 'Gold Train' Lawsuit
    CNN. Tough question starts Washington firestorm
    WPost. White House Defends FDA
    WPost. Maverick McCain Is at It Again
    Reuters. Iraq's Crucial Election Ballot Down to Lottery
    USAT. Conservatives welcome 'new day'
    AP. Dems Demand Answers on Lack of Iraq Armor
    AP. 50 Suspects Detained in Najaf Bombing
    AP. Bush Comes to Rumsfeld's Defense
    AP. Stocks Mixed on Oil Price Uncertainty
    ChicST. Political parties in a pinch as state voting patterns change
    ChicST. Obama on cover of Newsweek
    BGlobe. Retiree accounts gaining adherents
    NYT. On a Deadly Day in Iraq, Republicans Step Up Debate Over Whether Rumsfeld Should Stay
    NYT. Administration Looks to Curb Growth of Medicaid Spending
    NYT. How About Not 'Curing' Us, Some Autistics Are Pleading
    NYT. Bush Says Some Iraqi Troops Not Ready to Take Over Security

    Posted by Eric at 01:25 PM | Comments (5)

    Family Values Hypocrisy

    Stuff like this always gets me. From the Texarkana Gazette (whatta name!)

    We have had a fax machine here for years. Usually we consider it more curse than blessing because of the abundance of junk faxes.

    Among the regular-one might say repetitive-purveyors of faxes, as the organization sends numerous copies,is Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson's group of spirited moralists.

    Back in the Clinton days, the group was more than happy to offer the fax on its opinions of the various scandals ilvolving the President and First Lady, sexual, financial, familial or otherwise. The group focused on the moral decline of the nation evidenced by the immoral behavior of our civic leader and his various compadres.

    Of course, other individuals and groups were critical as well, as they have a right to be. The moral values crowd used to be chatty.

    Where are they now?

    I ask this because sin does not seem to rise to the same level of offense for their own as it does for those whose political persuasion they don't share. Latest case in point: Bernard Kerik, the erstwhile nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security.

    "I haven't seen the Dobsons, Falwells or Robertsons on television clucking their tongues over Kerik's behavior."

    Posted by Eric at 07:48 AM | Comments (8)

    Paper Commentary Roundup

    Ed Blume. Here are 10 ways you can get involved in renewable energy
    Wisconsin State Journal. Pulling the plug on conservatives
    Ethel Channon. Does no one care about Kerik?
    NYT. Count Every Vote; Clearly the American election system needs improvement, starting with voter-verified paper trails for every vote cast electronically
    HonoluluAdv. Schools don't belong in recruiting business
    Bob Herbert. War on the Cheap
    LAT. Ill-Starred 'Star Wars' Tests
    LAT. Unconnected Dots; President Bush is setting out to convince the nation that the danger is imminent and can be addressed only with bold action. Sound familiar?

    Posted by Eric at 07:35 AM | Comments (6)

    Robo Rummy

    In the New York Daily News, "The grieving families of New York soldiers killed in Iraq blasted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday for letting a machine sign his name to condolence letters they got in the mail."

    The least he could have done was pick up a pen and sign the six-sentence letters himself, Brooklyn widow Miriam Behnke told the Daily News.

    "The soldiers out there aren't machines, they're human beings," said Behnke, whose husband, Joseph Behnke, died Dec.4 when he was thrown from a Humvee south of Baghdad.

    "My husband believed in doing what he had to do for his country, and [Rumsfeld] should do the same and sign the letters himself," she said.

    "It makes me feel awful and sad," said Brooklyn mom Fizoon Ashraf, whose Army specialist son, Rasheed Sahib, was killed in May 2003. "So many families out there have lost their kids, and he couldn't sign to show how much he cares?"

    Posted by Eric at 06:08 AM | Comments (6)

    December 19, 2004

    Another Rummy Folly

    From the AP, "Rumsfeld criticized for having machine sign condolence letters to troops killed in action." Ya think?

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has decided to personally sign condolence letters to the family members of U.S. troops killed in action rather than letting a machine affix his signature.

    Republican and Democratic members of Congress criticized the embattled Pentagon chief on Sunday for not signing the letters himself all along.

    "My goodness, that's the least that we could expect of the secretary of defense, is having some personal attention paid by him," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., noting that President Bush signs such letters himself.

    "If the president of the United States can find time to do that, why can't the Secretary of Defense?" Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, asked on CBS' "Face the Nation."

    In a statement Friday, Rumsfeld announced the change in policy and said more than 1,000 condolence letters had gone out to relatives of Americans killed in military action during the global fight against terrorism.

    Posted by Eric at 05:25 PM | Comments (5)

    "Aloha, Po'ouli: Farewell to a Hawaii Native We Will Never Meet Again"

    In Sunday's NY Times:

    The people who try to save endangered species in Hawaii are immune to despair. They have to be, to keep doing what they do. They dangle on ropes from 3,000-foot sea cliffs on Molokai to brush pollen on a flower whose only natural pollinator - some unknown bird or insect - has died out. They trudge into remote forests to play taped bird calls, hoping that a survivor of a vanished species will reply. Or they capture and tend one small bird, old for its kind and missing an eye, then spend fruitless months searching for another to be its mate.

    That bird, a po'ouli, the last known member of its genus and species, died in its cage on Maui on Nov. 26. The news, briefly noted in the papers, was another milestone in a long-running environmental catastrophe that is engulfing the islands.

    Hawaii does not look like an ecological disaster area. It's too lush and sunny, too green and blue. But the state's natural splendor masks a brutal, often desperate battle against extinction. The islands' native animals and plants, many found nowhere else in the world, evolved in splendid isolation for millenniums. But in the two centuries since Captain Cook, their numbers have plunged. Of the more than 1,200 animals and plants on the federal list of threatened and endangered species, one-fourth - 317 - are Hawaiian.

    Development, disease and predation have taken a ruinous toll. Aggressive invaders like rats, mongooses, pigs, mosquitoes and habitat-choking exotic plants now dominate the lowlands. Many endemic species have retreated up the mountains, clinging to patches of protected land - islands within islands ... The po'ouli's demise is a signal that Hawaii's imperiled species have received nowhere near the attention and money needed to match the immensity of the problem. Teams of biologists from federal and state agencies and private organizations manage species-protection programs with budgets totaling in the mere hundreds of thousands of dollars, cobbling together grants and annual allocations that are continually subject to being cut off, and begging for private donations of money and time.

    But does the government care?
    Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii proudly points to her budget request for $4 million to fight invasive species, noting that this unimpressive sum is larger than any the state has spent before. The state, in fact, has starved its Department of Land and Natural Resources, which operates on less than 1 percent of the state's $7.9 billion operating budget and, according to an analysis by Environment Hawaii, an advocacy group, recently had a grossly disproportionate share of staff positions eliminated in a cost-cutting drive ... The captive-breeding program that tried desperately to save the po'ouli, run by the San Diego Zoo, has had several other successes, hatching and rearing the 'alala, or Hawaiian crow, which is extinct in the wild, and the state bird, the nene goose. Dozens of puaiohi, small thrushes, have been returned to the Alakai swamp on Kauai.

    But the federal portion of the program's $920,000 budget has been cut for the 2006 fiscal year, from $550,000 to zero. Where the money might come from to keep the program going is anybody's guess.

    Posted by Eric at 03:40 PM | Comments (3)

    Crowley, Reagan to Host Daytime MSNBC Show

    Apparently a conservative / liberal talk show; from TVNewser:

    Monica Crowley and Ron Reagan are preparing for the debut of their new daytime program on MSNBC.

    The show, which will air live at 12 and 5pm, is expected to start airing in late January.

    "Many people think it's tough to get traction during the day with hour after hour of straight news," an insider pointed out. MSNBC hopes the two programs will help boost Newsforce.

    Crowley and Reagan were in Secaucus a couple of weeks ago to rehearse for the new program. (It was around the same time Crowley substituted on Scarborough Country for a week.)

    Management still needs to assign staff to the program, decide on a title for it, and tweak the show open. (They may be re-tooling the "look" of the show over the holidays.) Crowley and Reagan may anchor from two different locations.

    And Tucker Carlson may also get a MSNBC show, this one in primetime slot.

    Posted by Eric at 05:45 AM | Comments (7)

    Sunday Talk Lineup

    For Sunday, December 19, via WP:

    FOX NEWS SUNDAY (WTTG), 9 a.m.: Treasury Secretary John W. Snow and Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

    THIS WEEK (ABC, WJLA), 9 a.m.: White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.; David J. Graham, associate director of the FDA's Office of Drug Safety; Hank McKinnell, chairman and chief executive of Pfizer Inc.; and Time Managing Editor Jim Kelly.

    FACE THE NATION (CBS, WUSA), 10:30 a.m.: Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

    MEET THE PRESS (NBC, WRC), 10:30 a.m.: Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), John W. Warner (R-Va.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.).

    LATE EDITION (CNN), noon: Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.); Reps. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.); Sept. 11 commission members Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton; Javad Zarif, Iran's permanent representative to the United Nations; and Snow.

    Posted by Eric at 05:36 AM | Comments (59)

    December 17, 2004

    Online Commentary Roundup

    Jeffrey Dubner. Hyper Activists; Judicial activism is alive and well -- on the Supreme Court. An interview with author Thomas Keck
    Alexander Zaitchik . JESUS WORE BIRKS; Pro-life, pro-Federal Marriage Amendment—and pro-Kyoto
    Geov Parrish. Pandora's prisoner; Year since Saddam Hussein's capture rife with American missteps
    Robert Kuttner. The Battle Begins: Social Security privatization sounds like a done deal. Not so fast
    John Feffer. Super-Size Me, Tokyo Style
    Joe Conason. Torture Begins at the Top
    Mark Danner. Torture and Truth; Tracing the origins -- and the aftermath -- of what happened at Abu Ghraib.
    Gerald Rellick. Time to Fire Rumsfeld
    Lawrence J. McNamee. After the Storm: Time to Work

    Posted by Eric at 02:55 PM | Comments (3)

    Obama Returns to Hawaii

    The new Senator from Illinnois says he wants to "take the messages of diversity and togetherness that he learned while growing up in the islands to Washington, D.C." StarBulletin:

    "No place else, perhaps, than the state of Hawaii could have provided me with the environment, the climate, in which I could not only grow, but also get a sense of being loved," Obama said at a fund-raiser held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

    "There is no doubt that that residue of Hawaii will always stay with me, that it is part of my core and that what's best in me and what's best in my message is one that is consistent with the tradition of Hawaii," Obama said ... Many residents said they came to hear Obama after his inspirational address at the convention. "He made you feel really proud to be an American," said Gary Galiher, of Nuuanu ... "We cannot, will not and should not compromise those core values that make us Democrats," he added. "We continue to have to stand for those people who don't have a voice. ... There is a better day out there."

    Posted by Eric at 10:03 AM | Comments (18)

    Donate Your Lunch Money, Bush

    From Ken Bode in the Indy Star:

    President Bush said, "As I have told many families I met with, we're doing everything we possibly can to protect your loved ones in a mission that is vital and important." In fact, until Wilson's question, we obviously were not.

    That brings us to the final headline: "At Bush Inauguration, Lunch Will Set You Back $250,000."

    This is a lunch with Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, obviously exclusive to the high tax brackets. There will also be a "Salute To Those Who Serve," with free tickets for the military.

    The arithmetic is too tempting. It costs $25,000 to fully armor a Humvee. Each $250,000 lunch ticket could go straight to equipping 10 vehicles, so our reservists and Guards in Iraq won't have to ride around with homemade sandbags on the floor.

    Posted by Eric at 08:20 AM | Comments (7)

    Morning Papers Roundup

    Krugman. Buying Into Failure
    Ken Bode. U.S. obviously didn't do all it could to protect troops
    StarTrib. Social Security/Bush's radical, wrong path
    John J. Sweeney. Privatizing Social Security won't fix the problems
    NYT. The Drug Lobby Scores Again; As ever, postelection herds of politicians are migrating from the public sector to the promised land of Washington lobbying
    Bob Herbert. Fiddling as Iraq Burns
    Derrick Z. Jackson. Flagging the bowl games
    BGlobe. Fog at Bush's summit
    Jonathan Chait. Still Crazy After All These Years
    Simon Tisdall. Tactical Bush puts his war with Annan on hold ... for now

    Posted by Eric at 08:09 AM | Comments (1)

    Unscientific Online Poll Results

    From ArmyTimes.com. Again, online polls are not scientific, but given that most users of the website are likely military-based, it might indicate something about the concerns; link via Al Franken Blog:

    If the Defense Department uparmored vehicles in Iraq more quickly, how much do you think that would help reduce U.S. casualties?

    A lot. 40.02 % (672)
    Somewhat. 40.86 % (686)
    Not much. 17.93 % (301)
    Don't know/No opinion. 1.19 % (20)
    Total votes: 1679

    The Defense Department recently announced that troop strength in Iraq would increase to 150,000, up from about 138,000. Is this sufficient?

    Yes. 22.34 % (668)
    No. 62.58 % (1,871)
    I don't know. 15.08 % (451)
    Total votes: 2990

    Do you think the Department of Veterans Affairs is ready to handle the expected sharp increase in requests for medical care from veterans of the war on terrorism?

    Yes. 7.24 % (250)
    No. 85.64 % (2,957)
    I don't know.

    What effect will President Bush’s re-election have on the war in Iraq?

    It will last longer. 54.03 % (5,835)
    It will end sooner. 29.38 % (3,173)
    I don't know. 16.59 % (1,792)
    Total votes: 10800

    Posted by Eric at 02:35 AM | Comments (3)

    Public Servants Cash-In with Drug Industry

    The American Progress Action Fund writes that "Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), one of the chief authors of the new Medicare prescription drug law, is set to become the new president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the chief lobbying organization for brand-name drug companies." What does he get in return, and what has he done for the lobby?

    Tauzin could reap more than $2 million per year for selling out elderly Americans to drug interests. Tauzin raised huge sums from the drug companies while in Congress, taking in more than a quarter million dollars from the drug industry since 2000. All in all, he accepted more than $218,000 from drug makers over the past 15 years he's been in office. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) summed it up, saying, "As a member of Congress, Billy negotiated a large payout to the pharmaceutical industry by the federal government. He's now about to receive one of the largest salaries ever paid to any advocate by an industry." Those in the business say they believe Tauzin will make at least $2 million a year, if not more, according to the New York Times.

    Tauzin is not the first conservative leader to cash in on drug connections. Last year, the Bush administration's chief of Medicare, Tom Scully, obtained a waiver on a federal ethics rule in order to negotiate a job with the drug industry at the same time he was running the Medicare program. Scully, who threatened to fire the Medicare actuary if he revealed the much higher cost of the legislation to Congress, resigned to become a lobbyist for health care companies. And two top U.S. trade officials, Ralph Ives and Claude Burcky, both left their government jobs this past August to work for the same health care and drug industries they went to bat for in White House trade negotiations with Australia.

    Conservative leaders should defend the interests of the American public rather than the bottom line of pharmaceutical giants. The Bush administration and its conservative allies have shown their priorities. Rather than making real reforms to reduce drug costs for seniors, they spend their time in office bilking Americans as they plan their exit strategy into the arms of grateful drug companies.

    Posted by Eric at 02:21 AM | Comments (13)

    Republican on Republican Action re: Lott

    From CNN, many Republicans are asking critical questions of Rummy; Sen. Collins, for example:

    U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has joined other Republicans in criticizing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

    Collins, R-Maine, fired off a tough letter Wednesday to Rumsfeld, describing his remarks about the lack of "up-armored" Humvees in war zones as "troubling."

    "I am very concerned that it appears the Pentagon failed to do everything in its power to increase production" of the vehicles, Collins wrote.

    "The Department of Defense still has been unable to ensure that our troops have the equipment they need to perform their mission as safely as possible."

    And it doesn't stop at her:
    McCain said he has "no confidence" in the defense secretary and told The Associated Press, "There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld" on the issue of troop strength in Iraq. (Full story)

    The Pentagon said this month that it was dispatching an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq and extending the stays of more than 10,000 others to bolster security ahead of the January elections. The moves will bring the number of American forces in Iraq from nearly 140,000 to an all-time high of about 150,000, the Pentagon said.

    Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, joined the Republicans who -- while not asking for Rumsfeld's resignation -- want a change.

    "I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld," Lott told the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, according to the AP. "I don't think he listens enough to his uniformed officers."

    And here's Gen. Schwarzkopf:
    Schwarzkopf, interviewed on MSNBC-TV’s “Hardball,” chided Rumsfeld for his reply to a soldier in Kuwait over the lack of armor on many military vehicles used in Iraq.

    “I was very, very disappointed — no, let me put it stronger — I was angry by the words of the secretary of defense when he laid it all on the Army, as if he, as the secretary of defense, didn’t have anything to do with the Army and the Army was over there doing it themselves, screwing up,” Schwarzkopf said.

    Schwarzkopf, a registered independent who campaigned for Bush in the last two presidential elections, has previously criticized Rumsfeld on several occasions as arrogant and out of touch with troops on the ground.

    But GOP spinmeister Sean Hannity says he's A-OK - and defends him with distortions!

    Posted by Eric at 02:12 AM | Comments (1)

    Swift Boat Vets' Group to Get 'Courage' Award from Zell Miller

    From the "American Conservative Union," which will present the awards at "the Conservative Political Action Conference's Feb. 18 banquet." Gee, some organizations award medals for fighting AIDs in Africa, standing up for Democracy in East Asia, but this organization awards smear tactics; AP:

    The American Conservative Union on Thursday announced it has tapped Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., to present the "Courage Under Fire" award to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth at the Conservative Political Action Conference's Feb. 18 banquet.

    Miller and the group of Vietnam veterans were behind perhaps the campaign's two fiercest and most memorable attacks on Kerry's unsuccessful presidential bid ... The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ran ads after the Democratic convention questioning whether Kerry was in fact the decorated Vietnam War veteran that he claimed to be.

    "The swift boat veterans performed an invaluable service to America," Miller said in a statement. "These veterans took a lot of undeserved criticism for daring to speak the truth."

    Posted by Eric at 02:06 AM | Comments (29)

    December 16, 2004

    Lincoln Gay?

    Log-cabin Republican indeed; NYT:

    Was Abraham Lincoln a gay American?
    The subject of the 16th president's sexuality has been debated among scholars for years. They cite his troubled marriage to Mary Todd and his youthful friendship with Joshua Speed, who shared his bed for four years. Now, in a new book, C.A. Tripp says that Lincoln had a homosexual relationship with the captain of his bodyguards, David Derickson, who shared his bed whenever Mary Todd was away.
    The book, "The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln," is to be published next month by Free Press. Tripp is a psychologist, influential gay writer and former sex researcher for Alfred Kinsey, the pioneering U.S. sex researcher. In the book, Tripp tries to resolve the issue of Lincoln's sexuality once and for all.

    Posted by Eric at 10:02 PM | Comments (11)


    Another good one from David Sirota:

    On healthcare, we are led to believe that it is a “liberal,” “left” or “socialist” position to support a single-payer system that would provide universal coverage to all Americans. But if you believe the Washington Post, that would mean America was some sort of hippie commune. The newspaper’s 2003 national poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans say they prefer a universal healthcare system “that’s run by the government and financed by taxpayers” as opposed to the current private, for-profit system.

    Same thing with prescription drugs. DLCers like Senators John Breaux and Evan Bayh, who both pocket thousands from the pharmaceutical industry, have vehemently opposed bipartisan legislation allowing Americans to import lower-priced, FDA-approved medicines from Canada. But polls consistently show overwhelming support for the proposal. A March 2004 AP poll, for instance, showed that two-thirds of Americans favor making it “easier for people to buy prescription drugs from Canada or other countries at lower cost.” The measure is so popular among average Americans that even some ardent Republicans like Senator Trent Lott have been embarrassed into supporting it. But apparently the same can’t be said for some corporate factions of the Democratic Party.

    On energy policy, those who want government to mandate higher fuel efficiency in cars are labeled “lefties,” even though a 2004 Consumers Union poll found that 81 percent of Americans support the policy. Corporate apologists claim this “extremist” policy would hurt Democrats in places like Michigan, where the automobile manufacturers employ thousands. But the Sierra Club’s 2004 polling finds more than three-quarters of Michigan voters support it—including 84 percent of the state’s autoworkers.

    Posted by Eric at 08:50 PM | Comments (1)

    Opening Up Drilling

    From Wilderness Society:

    Although the oil and gas industry continues to plead for the Bureau of Land Management to speed up the processing and issuance of drilling permits, new information from the BLM shows a growing surplus of approved drilling permits. While drilling permit approvals on Western public lands increased by 62 percent in 2004, the number of new wells that were drilled declined by nearly 10 percent – despite high natural gas prices. In five Rocky Mountain state, 5,824 permits were approved by BLM in 2004 (compared to 3,580 in 2003) but only 2,489 were drilled by permittees (compared to 2,723 in 2003).

    “This information confirms that the oil and gas industry has plenty of access to our public lands, despite their complaints to the contrary,” said The Wilderness Society’s Dave Alberswerth, who obtained the not-yet-released information from the BLM. “It also raises the question of why BLM continues to issue leases in sensitive areas like Utah and Colorado’s wild canyon country.”

    BLM data also indicates that while more than 42,000,000 acres of public lands managed by the agency are currently under lease, less than 12,000,000 acres are actually in production. “With 30 million acres of leased land in the Rocky Mountain West not in production and the increasing surplus of drilling permits, there is no reason why the BLM must continue to include environmentally sensitive public lands in their regular oil and gas lease sales in Colorado Utah, and Wyoming,” said The Wilderness Society’s Pete Morton.

    In 2004, for example, the BLM has auctioned for oil and gas development more than 39,000 acres in Colorado and more than 109,000 acres in Utah that were Congressionally sponsored for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

    Posted by Eric at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)

    Paper Commentary Roundup

    Sidney Blumenthal. Different targets, same tactics; Bush's slash and smear campaign is trying to bring all disparate elements under US control.
    Ellen Goodman. Must gay rights wait for our `comfort'?
    Francisco Ivarra. FCC chairman plays Grinch for U.S. troops
    Seattle PI. Good ol' boy security? Somebody at the White House had better turn the color-coded security alert system some other color than green when it comes to vetting Cabinet members, at least for the post of secretary of homeland security
    StarTrib. NASA and EPA/Chances for Bush to do better
    Richard Cohen. Presidential Medals of Failure
    NYT. The Naked Shield: The recent failure of an interceptor rocket is the latest evidence that a missile shield remains firmly in the dream stage
    MoDowd. Why Not the Coalition of the Shilling?
    Marie Cocco. Moral values apply to torture, too; This is the year we condoned torture
    John Nichols. Feingold-for-president buzz growing

    Posted by Eric at 09:21 AM | Comments (5)

    Fox's "Who's Your Daddy"

    Now this one is just really sad:

    The Fox network will air a special next month, "Who's Your Daddy?," where a daughter given up for adoption as an infant attempts to guess the identity of her birth father for a $100,000 prize.

    Activists in the adoption community immediately attacked the special, which will air for 90 minutes Jan. 3.

    "This is really perverse," said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan P. Donaldson Adoption Institute. "It takes a deeply personal and important experience and turns it into a money-grubbing game show. I think it is despicable."

    The woman and her birth father were involved in simultaneous searches for each other. Her natural dad will be one of eight men, all claiming to be her father. She will be given opportunities to observe and interview the men to narrow the field, the network announced.

    If she correctly guesses her father, the woman can win as much as $100,000. If she is incorrect, the impostor will win the money, Fox said.

    Posted by Eric at 07:03 AM | Comments (14)

    Rep. John Conyers on Ohio Vote Inquiry

    Democracy Now interview with background information on what's going on there, and what Conyers wants in the future:

    AMY GOODMAN: Good to have you. Can you explain what is happening now in Ohio, and what you are calling for?

    JOHN CONYERS: Well, we have received, of course, thousands of complaints of irregularities, failure of process, suppression of voting rights, and so we have come now -- have came up in the hearings we went to Columbus on Monday, and to really be there and to attempt to have the electoral disposition of the presidential vote in Ohio delayed until we have investigated some of these complaints. Sure enough, we had staff interview a person who was supposed to have had direct evidence about misconduct, and we have a sworn affidavit, a courageous person. We're hoping that others will come forward, and we are asking that the Ohio F.B.I. and the county prosecutor all get into this case, and if necessary, we may be required to go back in ourselves.

    AMY GOODMAN: Realistically, what do you think will happen now?

    JOHN CONYERS: Well, realistically, we'd like the right thing to happen. Namely, that we get enough support in and out of the state to persuade those running the electoral college to realize that holding this up until we get some of these questions resolved would strengthen the confidence in the electoral process in Ohio where there have been more complaints than from anywhere else, even including Florida, which had the second highest number of complaints. So this is not an anti-Bush operation or sour grapes. All we want to do is to have this kick in and the Secretary of State there has been amazing in holding back cooperation of being political at the same time that he conducts the presidential -- supervises the presidential election in Ohio. So, realistically, we want people to realize that there are some serious problems, and --

    AMY GOODMAN: Now, that's legal, right? That's legal, Ken Blackwell, the Ohio --

    JOHN CONYERS: The deputy director was pretty stunning.

    Audio avail.

    Posted by Eric at 05:46 AM | Comments (10)

    Shift in Death Penalty Views?

    Yeah, Scott Peterson may be an ass, but let's go to the larger picture: how do Americans feel about the concept of the death penalty? Reuters reports:

    This December is the first month in over a decade that no U.S. prisoner will be executed, reflecting what experts say is a gradual shift in America's views toward punishing its most violent criminals.

    Broader concern about national security, court rulings questioning who should be executed and cases of convicts later found innocent have combined to slow the number of executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

    This year's total of 59 is down 40 percent from five years ago. The all-time high since the reinstatement of the U.S. death penalty in 1976 was 98 executions in 1999. Last year there were 65 executions in the United States.

    The last execution in America was on Nov. 17, DPIC statistics show, and none is set for any time this month. The last such execution-free month was July 1994.

    One possible reason for this shift is cases of innocent death row prisoners:
    "Those cases keep reminding people that the system is fallible," said Richard Dieter, head of the Death Penalty Information Center. "We're shifting to a different approach to punishment. It still involves harsh sentences, but the death penalty may be too extreme."

    The question of innocence was boosted in 2003 when former Illinois Gov. George Ryan cleared out the state's Death Row over concerns about wrongful convictions.

    Now the war on terrorism, on top of dropping crime rates nationwide, has changed Americans' fears, some suggest.

    Posted by Eric at 05:25 AM | Comments (5)

    Abortions Under Bush Have Risen

    An FYI, from Dr. Glen Harold Stassen, who says he is "consistently pro-life":

    I look at the fruits of political policies more than words. I analyzed the data on abortion during the George W. Bush presidency. There is no single source for this information - federal reports go only to 2000, and many states do not report - but I found enough data to identify trends. My findings are counterintuitive and disturbing.

    Abortion was decreasing. When President Bush took office, the nation's abortion rates were at a 24-year low, after a 17.4% decline during the 1990s. This was an average decrease of 1.7% per year, mostly during the latter part of the decade. (This data comes from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life using the Guttmacher Institute's studies).

    Enter George W. Bush in 2001. One would expect the abortion rate to continue its consistent course downward, if not plunge. Instead, the opposite happened.

    I found three states that have posted multi-year statistics through 2003, and abortion rates have risen in all three: Kentucky's increased by 3.2% from 2000 to 2003. Michigan's increased by 11.3% from 2000 to 2003. Pennsylvania's increased by 1.9% from 1999 to 2002. I found 13 additional states that reported statistics for 2001 and 2002. Eight states saw an increase in abortion rates (14.6% average increase), and five saw a decrease (4.3% average decrease).

    Under President Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates appears to have reversed. Given the trends of the 1990s, 52,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been expected before this change of direction.

    It's an interesting read, as Stassen writes that "Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues" and "Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need policies that provide jobs and health insurance and support for prospective mothers." Indeed.

    Posted by Eric at 05:07 AM | Comments (3)

    New Batman Begins Trailer

    New trailer looks promising. The movie's from the same guy who did Memento (Chris Nolan), and it looks like the franchise is finally returning to the dark roots of Batman, ala Frank Miller, versus the cartoonish silliness of the last few movies.

    Take a look at the teaser poster.

    Posted by Eric at 05:01 AM | Comments (14)

    December 15, 2004

    Democrats Made Some Gains

    Yes, the pessimist in all of us wants to kick the donkey when it's down, but as USA Today notes, there were some gains for Democrats in "hidden elections":

    Democrats had great success in state legislative races this year, even as they performed poorly in the presidential race and campaigns for Congress. Many Democratic gains came in the heart of Republican territory.

    Colorado Democrats took control of both the House and Senate for the first time since 1974. Montana Democrats won the state Senate and could control the state House, depending on the outcome of a legislative race that finished in a tie and is the subject of a court battle.

    Overall, Democrats took power in seven legislatures and earned a tie in the Iowa Senate. Republicans won control in four chambers and added legislators in southern states that have been shifting to the party for 20 years.

    Nationwide, Democrats added more than 60 legislative seats, reversing the 2002 results that gave Republicans more state legislators than Democrats for the first time in a half century.

    Democratic state legislators now outnumber Republicans by two: 3,658 to 3,656. A pair of undecided races could leave it tied.

    Posted by Eric at 03:56 PM | Comments (2)

    Oped / Online Commentary Roundup

    LAT. Slow Ride to the Death Chamber
    Dave Zweifel. Griping GOP staffers need a union
    Bonnie Erbe. Environmentalism as peaceful endeavor
    Harold Meyerson. For Labor, Tough Choices
    NYT. No Bang for Our Cheap Buck; The Bush administration's weak-dollar policy has failed to close the trade gap, and has only plunged us deeper into debt.
    BG. Bush will overreach at his peril
    Joseph R. Biden Jr. The Mideast's Second Chance
    Ari Berman. Failing to Aid: The US is shirking its global development responsibility.
    David Moberg. What Labor Learned on Nov. 2
    The Nation. Bush's New Team: The President's attempt to build a no-questions-asked Cabinet makes America even more vulnerable to policy misdeeds.
    Joe Conason. Where was Rudy in the Kerik mess?
    Tom Engelhardt. Icarus (Armed with Vipers) Over Iraq
    Rob Waters. Prosecuting for Pharma; Antidepressant manufacturers team up with district attorneys to make sure the Zoloft defense doesn’t fly.
    James North. A Long Climb An energized Argentine democracy is holding its own against the IMF, but for how long?

    Posted by Eric at 03:27 PM | Comments (9)

    Zell Miller to Fox

    I wonder if he'll be introduced as the 'Democratic' viewpoint. AP:

    Retiring U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, the conservative Georgia Democrat who backed President Bush's re-election, is joining Fox News Channel as a contributor.

    Miller, who made a memorable TV appearance when he challenged MSNBC host Chris Matthews to a duel, will be seen on a variety of Fox News programs starting Jan. 6, a Fox spokesman said Tuesday.

    "I am excited to be joining Fox News Channel and am eager to contribute to the continuing success of the network," Miller said in a network release.

    You can find the video of Miller on Hardball, by the way, here.

    Posted by Eric at 03:23 PM | Comments (13)

    DCCC on Social Security and Bush

    See the video online here, from the Democratic Congressional Committee.

    Posted by Eric at 03:20 PM | Comments (20)

    Say What?

    Courtesy of The Center for American Progress:

    "You'll have people that share [the President's] philosophy "

    - White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan on the who will attend the White House Economic Conference, 12/13/04


    "There will be a wide range of people...participating in this."

    - White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan on the who will attend the White House Economic Conference, 12/10/04

    Posted by Eric at 11:06 AM | Comments (5)

    Sources: Lieberman rejects White House overtures

    According to CNN, "Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman has twice in recent days said "no" when approached about the possibility of a major job in the second Bush administration Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman has twice in recent days said "no" when approached about the possibility of a major job in the second Bush administration, CNN has learned. The Cabinet vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security was the subject of the latest overture, according to congressional and other government sources. Those sources said the earlier overture was to see whether Lieberman might be interested in becoming the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations."

    Posted by Eric at 10:13 AM | Comments (4)

    Walmart vs. Costco

    Since I linked to BuyBlue yesterday, someone sent me this related article from a little while back: "Wal-Mart = Bush. Costco = Kerry. Costco's Winning."

    On the left: Costco Wholesale Corp. Last week, Jeffrey Brotman and James Sinegal, chairman and chief executive office of Costco, respectively, joined the list of executives who endorsed John Kerry for president. The company is based in Washington (a blue state in the past four elections, and one that Kerry leads, by a 53-45 margin according to the Aug. 2 Zogby poll), and a list of its locations bears some resemblance to the Kerry-Edwards campaign: strong on the affluent coasts and virtually nonexistent in the comparatively poor Great Plains and in the Old Confederacy ... Costco also has the sort of labor policy that would bring a smile to Barbara Ehrenreich's face. Pay starts at $10 an hour. About one in six employees is represented by a union, and workers receive nice health benefits. Sinegal has a non-zero-sum view of employee relations. Give people good jobs at good wages, and they'll be more likely to work harder, less likely to leave, and less likely to steal. As Helyar reported, Costco's turnover "is a third of the retail industry average of 64%," and "shrinkage"—the amount of inventory lost to theft—"is about 13% of the industry norm."

    On the right: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Founded in Arkansas (a blue-turned-red state), it grew by spreading into the adjacent South and Great Plains. Like today's Republican Party, it focuses intensely on rural areas and generally avoids cities. (Republican conventioneers won't be able to shop at a Wal-Mart when they visit New York City.) As this Bloomberg story notes, "Sixty-seven percent of Wal-Mart's stores are in the 30 states that voted for Bush and Cheney in 2000."

    The company's labor policies are state-of-the-art, for the 1890s. It has been investigated for hiring contractors who allegedly hired illegal aliens to clean Wal-Mart stores and for locking them inside overnight. (One wonders if the Wal-Mart employees who in April were bused in to hear Vice President Dick Cheney sing the company's praises at Wal-Mart's headquarters were similarly confined.) In June, a federal judge certified a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of female Wal-Mart employees who claimed discrimination. The average wage at Wal-Mart, which has no unions and bitterly opposes raising the minimum wage, is lower than Costco's lowest wage. Turnover at Wal-Mart, according to the Economist, is 44 percent, meaning it "has to hire an astonishing 600,000 people every year simply to stay at its current size."

    So yes, now you can feel a little better about buying a 300 pound jar of mayonnaise.

    Posted by Eric at 12:47 AM | Comments (16)

    December 14, 2004

    Online Roundup

    Ian Frazier. Legacy of a Lonesome Death; Had Bob Dylan not written a song about it, the 1963 killing of a black servant by a society man's cane would have been long forgotten
    MotherJones. Holding Power Accountable; The president of Common Cause talks about election-day voting problems, the need for electoral reform, and the importance of staying engaged.
    Jennifer Gonnerman. The Next Step in Fighting Rockefeller Drug Laws
    Mark Weisbrot. What's In A Coup?
    David J. Sirota. The Democrats' Da Vinci Code
    Howard Dean. Democratic Moral Values
    Jeffrey Chester. PBS' Future Post-Moyers
    Evan Derkacz. The Sinclair Propaganda Machine
    Bill Berkowitz. Alas poor Kerik, we knew him too well
    Molly Ivins. Social Security suicide; Bush looks to cripple nation's safety net
    Amanda Griscom Little. License to Bill; Clinton, late convert to climate-change cause, now preaching up a storm
    Jared Bernstein. States of Flux; Progressives can win at the state level. Here, a look at three battles
    Matthew Yglesias. Wait and See; Want Bush's privatization plan to work? Pretend there's no Social Security crisis
    Erik Leaver. A New Course in Iraq

    Posted by Eric at 07:11 PM | Comments (4)

    Buy Blue

    Interesting website here.

    Posted by Eric at 01:45 PM | Comments (11)

    Media Matters Launches Campaign Against Sinclair

    Called 'Sinclair Action' with a website at sinclairaction.com. Why do so? Media Matters explains:

    Led by Media Matters for America and supported by MoveOn, MediaChannel.org, Free Press, Working Assets, Robert Greenwald (Director, Outfoxed), AlterNet, and The Institute for America's Future, we have launched a campaign to protest Sinclair Broadcast Group's continued misuse of public airwaves.

    The campaign aims to spur action against Sinclair Broadcast Group's use of the 62 television stations it owns or operates to systematically promote partisan political interests. Of particular concern is a nightly "news and commentary" segment titled "The Point," in which Sinclair vice president Mark Hyman consistently espouses one-sided, conservative rhetoric without any counterpoint.

    We believe the fairest way to remedy this situation is for Sinclair to provide a meaningful opportunity for those with an opposing point of view to respond to editions of "The Point." With your help, we can hold Sinclair accountable for its slanted news programming and demand that it become a responsible steward of the airwaves to which it has been granted access on behalf of the American people.

    We are hopeful advertisers will join our effort to encourage Sinclair to balance the content of their news programming by offering equal air time for a counterpoint.

    Posted by Eric at 01:29 PM | Comments (5)

    Fox's Ailes Rips Competition

    The kid has moxy; in an interview to air Sunday on C-SPAN, he says about:

    CBS? "We're not retracting stories. We don't have a former attorney general looking into us to try to determine how we screwed it up," Ailes says, referring to the investigation into CBS's use of apparently bogus National Guard documents.

    CNN? Ailes rips the overseas network CNN International, "or, as we call it, the anti-American channel." He likens it to the BBC and al-Jazeera in that "you can't find a whole lot good about America." CNN spokesman Matthew Furman says the international network "works hard to provide its global audience with a range of news without any political or national perspective."

    ABC? Ailes apparently took offense at a recent Harvard speech in which ABC News President David Westin said Fox News had been "effective" in bringing talk radio and opinion to TV news. "David is in the process of trying to turn himself into Fred Friendly," the late media executive and ethicist, Ailes says. "He's a corporate lawyer who's trying to be a great journalist. But he has got some problems. He's the guy who wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to be a journalist for him." ABC sent the actor to interview President Clinton four years ago for a special on the environment.

    Posted by Eric at 01:27 PM | Comments (12)

    Where Do FCC Complaints Originate?

    Mostly from one, conservative 'pro-family' organization; Tim Goodman in the San Fran Chron:

    My vote for best media/television story of the year goes to one you may have missed. Mediaweek reported on Dec. 6 that of all the "indecency complaints" to the Federal Communications Commission in 2003, a startling 99.8 percent of them came from one conservative group, the Parents Television Council.

    And through October of this year, apart from complaints over Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction," a full 99.9 percent of the complaints about indecency have again come from the Parents Television Council. That means a small group of highly mobilized conservative watchdogs has essentially driven the "moral values" campaign directed at the FCC.

    Hey, blue staters, this is a much smaller picture than you ever imagined. Forget about looking at that depressing election map and feeling overwhelmed, like you're on a cultural island apart from the rest of the country. The sad fact is, while you've been pouting -- and prior to that, when you were watching Jon Stewart and gloating -- you let a small group of reactionary conservatives set the agenda.

    Posted by Eric at 10:48 AM | Comments (7)

    Oped Roundup

    John Nichols. Voting amendment would be good start
    WPost. 1-800-Oops
    Joel Agee. The Price of Fear Is Paid in Lost Freedom
    StarTrib. Kerik's exit/Why did he gain an entrance?
    EJ Dionne. The Democrats' Rove Envy
    NYT. A Watchdog Muted; The new head of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Gerald Reynolds, is unlikely to give the watchdog panel any bite
    Tim Goodman. Couch potatoes, it's time to drop the remote. E-mail the FCC. Stop the Parents Television Council before it gets beyond the TV
    Thomas Oliphant. What they don't tell you on Social Security reform
    Robert Scheer. Kerik's 'Nannygate' Was the Least of It
    LAT. Terrorism's Trojan Horse
    Jesse Jackson. House GOP throws weight around

    Posted by Eric at 10:19 AM | Comments (3)

    December 13, 2004

    Black Coaches and NCAA Football

    It's really quite incredible that these numbers exist in college football:

    In 1997, there were eight black head football coaches in Division I-A. At the start of the 2004 season, there were five.

    Now, after Fitz Hill resigned at San Jose State and New Mexico State fired Tony Samuel and Willingham changed address, there are three.

    And UCLA, which has watched USC win one national title and earn a shot at a repeat, isn't exactly thrilled with Karl Dorrell after two years.

    Those numbers aren't an embarrassment. Five undefeated teams, three of them from major conferences, and one BCS title game is an embarrassment.

    Three black head football coaches out of 117 Division I-A institutions of higher learning in 2004 - 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education - is a sin.

    A lot of head coaches, black and white, need a second chance to prove themselves. Trouble is, if they're black, they almost never get a first chance.

    I won't get into Norm Chow.

    Posted by Eric at 11:20 PM | Comments (12)

    Liberal Media At Work Again

    Oh, when will they stop? FAIR:

    The debate over Social Security privatization could very well be the most important domestic story of the coming year. Unfortunately, recent media discussions of the topic are built on flawed assumptions and inaccurate information.

    "Social Security is in trouble," announced CNN reporter Bruce Morton on the December 9 broadcast of NewsNight with Aaron Brown, adding: "Politicians like South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham know it." Though that's the starting point for the segment, the "trouble" that Social Security faces might not be nearly as bad as the "solution" offered by politicians like Graham.

    According to its own trustees reports, Social Security will be able to operate just as it does now until 2042; another projection from the Congressional Budget Office forecasts 10 additional years of solvency. Not bad for a program in "crisis."

    What's more, the "bankruptcy" of Social Security has been moving steadily into the future; in 1997, the program was expected to run short of funds in 2029, or 32 years; now, in 2004, the trustees say they won't need more cash until 2042-- gaining 13 years of projected black ink in just seven years (Political Animal, 12/13/04).

    But CNN offered none of these caveats; the only sources in the report were Michael Tanner of the libertarian Cato Institute and Robert Bixby of the Concord Coalition-- both of whom support some form of Social Security privatization. Another guest was a 27-year old who suggested that Social Security would not be around for her when she needed it.

    ... For starters, that is not when Social Security "goes broke." According to the conservative estimates of its trustees report, Social Security would still be able to pay about 73 percent of its obligations after 2042. And as economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic & Policy Research frequently points out, "the projections show that the program will always be able to pay a higher real benefit than that received by current retirees" (Economic Reporting Review, 12/6/04), since future benefits are projected to be more generous than those given to today's seniors.

    Washington Monthly with more.

    Posted by Eric at 09:53 PM | Comments (11)


    Via Political Wire:

    "Pay no attention to those voices. They are special interests. Special interests don't like me in Sacramento because I'm always kicking their butt."

    -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), quoted by the San Jose Mercury News.

    Posted by Eric at 03:59 PM | Comments (8)

    US vs. World on Climate Change

    From the LA Times:

    The United States is the big odd man out as diplomats, scientists and environmentalists from more than 190 countries gather here at the 10th meeting of the United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change ... Among major industrial countries, only the U.S. and Australia have failed to ratify the accord, which commits signatory nations to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases to 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012.

    Observers here say the U.S. is increasingly being shut out as the rest of the world adopts global mechanisms by which each country will meet its targeted reductions, including one that allows companies to trade reductions in carbon emissions in a kind of global pollution market.

    Posted by Eric at 10:46 AM | Comments (7)

    Flood Wipes Out 95% of University of Hawaii Library Items

    On its first floor, where there are 2.8 million items. The already budget-constrained university faces a daunting cleanup; Honolulu Advertiser:

    Librarians hope they can save about 20 percent of the library's 166,000 maps, including historic maps going back to the 1600s, and almost all of its 91,000 aerial photos.

    Government documents on the devastated first floor total about 20 percent of the library's overall collection.

    Of the approximately 33,000 maps saved, about 17,000 are going to a firm in Texas for recovery and another 16,000 will stay in Hawai'i to undergo years of work to remove debris and dry them out. Restoration work could take up to seven years, say librarians.

    "In talking to professionals around the world, there hasn't been another disaster in a library involving mud that anyone can think of," said Lynn Davis, head of preservation for Manoa campus libraries.

    Posted by Eric at 10:41 AM | Comments (22)

    AP: 8 Marines Killed in Iraq's Anbar Province

    AP: "Eight U.S. Marines were killed in two separate incidents in Iraq's restive Anbar province, the military said Monday, a day after American warplanes pounded Fallujah with missiles as insurgents battled coalition forces in the city."

    Posted by Eric at 09:13 AM | Comments (5)

    December 10, 2004

    Who Is Bernard Kerik?

    The Center for American Progress has the goods on the new Secretary of Homeland Security.

    Update: Kerik, as you likely heard, has resigned.

    Posted by Eric at 01:39 PM | Comments (14)

    Ann Coulter Wants Her Money Back

    The poor girl doesn't like Jon Stewart's book:

    In "America (The Book)," by Jon Stewart and the writers of Comedy Central's "Daily Show," the section on the judiciary describes how to make a sock puppet of Clarence Thomas and then says, "Ta-da! You're Antonin Scalia!" On grounds of originality alone, Mr. Stewart, I want my money back.
    I'm sure Stewart's book whopping Coulter's on the best-seller list has nothing to do with the dislike.

    Media Matters has more on Coulter.

    Posted by Eric at 11:43 AM | Comments (45)

    Jerry Springer to Launch Liberal Radio

    Hm. Ok:

    TV talk-show host Jerry Springer will debut a three-hour weekday radio talk show here in January.

    The former Cincinnati mayor and TV anchor will launch a 9 a.m.-noon call-in show on WSAI-AM (1530) when the Clear Channel station switches from oldies music to liberal talk. He wants to syndicate the show nationally from Cincinnati, he said.

    "There is clearly an opportunity for new voices to be heard today around the country," Springer, 60, said Thursday. "There is so much going on in the world today, and to be part of that dialogue will be fun."

    Posted by Eric at 10:22 AM | Comments (28)

    Biden to Run in 2008

    From the hotel-friendly USA Today (link via political wire):

    Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., on Wednesday became the first to declare his 2008 intentions, if not his candidacy, in what may well turn into a stampede of hopefuls in both parties.

    "Are you going to run this time?" Don Imus asked him on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning.

    "Well, I'm going to proceed as if I'm going to run," Biden said. He said he would make a "hard" decision in two years, based on whether he thinks the country is ready for him and his ideas. "I don't want to do this for the exercise," he said.

    At least three other senators are proceeding as if they're going to run: this year's Democratic ticket, John Kerry and John Edwards, and Republican John McCain of Arizona. All are making or planning trips to Iowa or New Hampshire, states with early contests.

    Posted by Eric at 10:15 AM | Comments (39)

    Americans Anti-American

    Aren't optimistic about Iraq democracy; give more comfort to the terrorist, whyyyyy dont ya bastards:

    -- Americans' confidence that a stable, democratic government can be established in Iraq has eroded since last spring, according to an Associated Press poll taken amid continuing violence ahead of next month's election.

    Public support for Bush's handling of the Iraq war has edged up over the past six months, however.

    Fewer than half, 47 percent, think it's likely Iraq will be able to establish a stable government, according to the poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs. A little more than half, 51 percent, said they think it's not likely.

    In April, 55 percent said they believed a stable, Democratic government probably would be established in Iraq, and 44 percent thought it was not likely.

    But at least Americans can take comfort in knowing that the supply lines are A-OK.

    Posted by Eric at 10:13 AM | Comments (36)

    December 09, 2004

    Ludacris Raps Bill O'Reilly

    Being the ever distinguished gentleman, I was listening to rapper Ludacris's new album on Napster, and came across these amusing lyrics on track, Number One Spot:

    I'm never goin nowhere so don't try me
    My music sticks in fans veins like an IV
    Flows poison like Ivy, oh they grimy
    Already offers on my 6th album from labels tryin to sign me
    Respected highly, HIIII MR. O'REILLY
    Hope all is well, kiss the plantiff and the wifey
    The WPost's Reliable Source column also has this bit on Luda and O'Reilly:
    Rap artist Ludacris has added Fox News talk show host Bill O'Reilly to his Christmas list. "I'd get him a knuckle sandwich," the rapper writes in the January issue of FHM magazine. Their beef dates back to 2002 when O'Reilly trashed Ludacris as "a man who degrades women, who encourages substance abuse, and does all the things that hurt particularly the poor in our society." Pepsi summarily dropped him from a forthcoming ad campaign. (And Ludacris subsequently gloated when the Fox personality faced allegations of sexual harassment from a colleague.)
    OK, so the rap thing might not be interesting (though I do think Luda lives the life O'Reilly can only dream of). But dredging up O'Reilly hypocrisy is!

    Posted by Eric at 11:35 PM | Comments (40)

    Good Ol' Newsmax

    Never thought I'd read this in the same sentence; from Newsmax's stellar reporting:

    The leftist media have mounted an unprecedented, full-scale attack on Bernard Kerik, with four journalistic hatchet jobs on President Bush's nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security appearing on the same day ... The New York Post's ultra-liberal Richard Cohen led off with a rumor-mongering column, "Kerik's Bully History," which is littered with what Cohen himself admits are unverified incidents portraying Kerik as a bully who misused his authority in a matter involving the reported theft of a cell phone belonging to a friend.

    Posted by Eric at 10:45 PM | Comments (21)

    Google Referrals

    Every now and then, you look at your web counter, and see some of the search terms that people use to get to your site. This recent one caught my attention:

    09 Dec, Thu, 18:17:09 http://www.google.com/search?q=free+full+length+porn+movies+free+with+no+registration&hl=en&lr=&start=70&sa=N
    In which case, hi Bill. Remember to enter your contest.

    Posted by Eric at 05:55 PM | Comments (26)

    PFAW Post-Election Voting Review

    People for the American Way, a liberal legal-type interest group, recently released a report on voting problems in the 2004 election. More specifically,

    The myth that the 2004 elections ran smoothly has become conventional wisdom for pundits and politicians, but nothing could be further from the truth. A preliminary review released today by members of the nonpartisan Election Protection coalition demonstrates that persistent problems continue to deny millions of Americans their fundamental voting rights, and makes the case for election reform at the local, state and national level ... The preliminary review, “Shattering the Myth: An Initial Snapshot of Voter Disenfranchisement in the 2004 Elections” surfaces a myriad of systemic problems. In addition to the long lines and unreasonable waiting times that kept many people - disproportionately urban minority voters - from being able to vote, the top five problems overall were registration processing, absentee ballots, machine errors, voter intimidation and suppression, and problems with the use and counting of the new provisional ballots mandated under new federal law.

    Election Protection also fought pre-election decisions by local election officials that tended to disenfranchise voters, including Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s ludicrous demand that voter registration forms be printed on 80-pound card stock instead of common printer paper, or Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood’s attempts to implement a “felon purge” list that state officials knew was flawed. Those decisions were both eventually abandoned.

    “The bright light of public scrutiny, intense pressure from the media and action in the courts helped us stop some of the most egregious actions, but nevertheless, too many voters were either disenfranchised or discouraged by the decisions of public officials,” said Neas. “It’s the job of government officials to advocate for voters and to clear the path to the ballot box, not erect barriers.”

    The report (pdf) can be viewed here.

    Posted by Eric at 05:49 PM | Comments (71)

    Impress Friends with Your Bill O'Reilly Impression at Georgetown Dinner Parties?

    Yeah, I know you do. If so, enter in "The Bill O'Reilly Alleged Phone Sex Scandal Impersonation Contest." Why? "because of the multimillion dollar settlement between O'Reilly and his former producer, America will never get to hear the actual tapes of Mr. O'Reilly's indiscretions--if such tapes do, in fact, exist."

    And hey, shut up.

    Posted by Eric at 05:19 PM | Comments (39)

    Paper Commentary Roundup

    NYT. Please, Sir, May I Have Some Armor?
    Marie Cocco. Voting system still needs to be fixed
    Antonia Zerbisias. U.S. media still hiding bad news from Americans
    Stewart L. Udall. If Bush Really Wants a Legacy
    Douglas J. Hattaway. Where to, Democrats?
    John Nichols. Dems need to speak up for U.S. rural interests
    Margaret Krome. AIDS epidemic getting worse without education, treatment
    Theodore D. Graves. Election fraud or just suspicions?
    Robert Gangi. Drug laws are still too harsh; Real reform remains elusive as prosecutors still have the power to stack the decks against the small fry
    Robert Scheer. Ignoring a threat to keep an 'ally'
    NYT. Questions for Mr. Kerik
    Maureen Dowd. Lost in a Masquerade
    Seattle PI. Scrapping for armor
    Seattle PI. Beyond Kyoto
    The Guardian. Too much hot air
    The Guardian. Dead reckoning

    Posted by Eric at 09:43 AM | Comments (36)

    Media Matters: FOX peddles false report that California school "banned Declaration of Independence because it mentions God"

    Good oooooll Fox.

    Posted by Eric at 07:55 AM | Comments (25)

    Church leaders decry celebrity worship

    Note to self: remove yard nativity scene featuring cast of The OC; Reuters:

    Church leaders have united to condemn a Christmas nativity tableau depicting soccer star David Beckham as Joseph and his pop singer wife Victoria as the Virgin Mary ... The Vatican is not amused.

    "This is worse than bad taste. It is cheap," an official Vatican source said.

    "You cannot use contemporary personalities as the central figures of the nativity... And it becomes worse, if that were possible, if the people may be of questionable moral standing."

    He says it is sometimes acceptable to use modern figures in the supporting roles because it can help make Christmas contemporary, but not the central characters.

    Posted by Eric at 06:15 AM | Comments (38)

    Tony Blair up to Good for a Change?

    From the UK Times:

    TONY BLAIR is seeking to secure George Bush’s backing for a new international treaty that would end America’s isolation on global warming, The Times has learnt.

    Downing Street last night confirmed that the Prime Minister had held “lengthy discussions” with Mr Bush about a fresh initiative that would bypass Washington’s steadfast opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.

    The deal, described by one source as “Kyoto-lite”, would involve scientific agreement on the scale and nature of the threat, as well as an international programme to develop the technology needed for renewable energy and the reduction of carbon emissions ... He believes that the refusal by the US Administration to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to come into force in February, has undermined the pledges of 39 other countries to reduce their output of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming.

    Posted by Eric at 05:56 AM | Comments (20)

    Liberal CBS

    I'd imagine if CBS did this sort of piece on a major conservative blog, crazy would go the world. Regardless, this piece from CBS has this take on Atrios:

    While many are must-reads for political junkies, are some Internet blogs also being used as proxies for campaigns? ... In the case of Duncan Black, this is what happened. The author of the popular liberal blog Atrios, Black wrote under a pseudonym. All the while, he was a senior fellow at a liberal media watchdog group, Media Matters for America.

    “People are pretty smart in assuming that if a blog is making a case on one side that it’s partisan,” Jamieson said. “The problem is when a blog pretends to hold neutrality but is actually partisan.”

    That is not a legal problem, however, but an ethical one. Black eventually claimed credit for his blog and fellow bloggers heavily publicized his political connections. But he is still blogging.

    Of course, those in the blog community who have read Atrios/Duncan for a while (I'm cool cuz Atrios asked for a link when he first started) know that's not exactly accurate. From Atrios:
    Second, you state that I had been working with Media Matters for America "all along" while I was doing this weblog. I began writing this weblog in April, 2002. MMFA only came into existence in May, 2004. I began working with them in June, 2004.

    Third, you suggest I had an "ethical" problem. Could you be more specific about what that was? Having one's character impugned by a major media outlet is a serious matter.

    Finally, a quote is positioned in your article such that it suggests my assocation with Media Matters for America makes me somehow "partisan" and that beforehand I therefore was perceived as non-partisan. I have never worked for a candidate or campaign, though I have never made my political views secret, any more than has the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. This blog is produced entirely using my own time and resources, and Media Matters for America is a non-partisan "501(c)(3) not-for-profit progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."

    Posted by Eric at 05:32 AM | Comments (29)

    Honoring a Guardsman's request

    From columnist Lloyd Omdahl in the Grand Folks Herald:

    In February, I wrote a column upbraiding the national planners for exploiting the National Guard in conducting the war in Iraq. I argued that continuous life-threatening duty was not in the deal made by all of the Guard men and women but that many of them joined up as a means of financing their higher education. They had bargained for weekend training and emergency duty, such as fighting floods, policing events, and serving as a community resource, but not extended months of combat. For choosing Guard service as the price for their higher education, I noted, young people were being exposed daily to roadside bombs, rocket attacks and sniper fire. And even though they were being exploited, they heroically answered the call in the face of an unjust assignment.

    This February column found its way to Iraq and several months later I received a lengthy letter from one of the Guardsmen confirming the comments I had made.

    "I hope you don't forget about us because your writing can help people realize the reality of the situation," he wrote in his first paragraph. Then he went on to explain that he had a dream of going to college and was enticed to join the Guard because of its promise to help finance his education.

    When he enlisted, he explained, the major emphasis of the recruiter was on the college education. Nothing was said about the possibility of war, let alone deployment in an optional pre-emptive action halfway around the world ... As for my July correspondent, he will not be taking advantage of that college education he was promised. Spc. Cody Wentz of Williston, N.D., was killed in Iraq a few weeks ago. This column is being written to honor his request that we not forget the Guard and to help people understand the reality of the situation.

    Posted by Eric at 04:09 AM | Comments (27)

    Hackworth: Military Recruiting in Trouble

    The "soldier-author-columnist" says the military isn't living up to its recruiting goals; gee, wonder why? (linnk via Kos)

    Regular Army Volume (all RA contracts):
    Mission: 25,322
    Achieved: 12,703 (50.17 percent)

    Army Reserve Volume:
    Mission: 7,373
    Achieved: 3,206 (43.48 percent)."

    The Army National Guard is faring no better. A Guard retention NCO says: "The word is out on the streets of Washington, D.C. `Do not join the Guard.' I see these words echoing right across the U.S.A."

    By the end of this recruiting year, the Regular Army, Reserves and Guard could fall short more than 50 percent of its projected requirement, or about 60,000 new soldiers. And according to many recruiters, quality recruits are giving way to mental midgets who have a hard time telling their left foot from their right.

    Shades of our last years in Vietnam.

    Posted by Eric at 03:09 AM | Comments (58)

    John Conyers Holds Ohio Vote Fraud Hearing

    If you're interested in coverage of it, William Rivers Pitt of Truthout.org has a blog on it over here.

    Posted by Eric at 02:26 AM | Comments (32)

    December 08, 2004

    Conservative World Net Daily Books: Lotta Lies, Made-up Stuff

    From ConWebWatch, what kind of authors write for WorldNetDaily.com books? Here's a sample of the recent authors they've published:

    Bob Kohn, author of the WND-published New York Times-bashing title "Journalistic Fraud," did just that in a May WND column when he asserted that "Evidence suggests that a New York Times reporter covering the Kerry campaign may be sleeping with the presumptive nominee of the Democrat Party." That would be John Kerry, already the victim of a previous WND affair smear. After Media Matters wrote about it, Kohn's column disappeared from the WND site. (It used to be here but is now in the same neverland as Anthony LoBaido's whacked-out post-9/11 column.)

    And, as ConWebWatch has previously noted, Kohn copied from the Media Research Center a bogus quote attributed to former Times editor Howell Raines into his book. As far as we know, Kohn has never apologized for that.

    John McCaslin, the Washington Times columnist who wrote "Inside the Beltway" for WND Books, had a similar problem. In a September Washington Times column, McCaslin claimed that John Kerry made a case for unilateral action in Iraq in a 1997 appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," adding that "no 'Crossfire' transcripts from 1997 are available." As Media Matters pointed out, not only is the transcript of that episode of "Crossfire" available (Nexis has "Crossfire" transcripts dating back to 1990), Kerry didn't say that at all. McCaslin was forced to print a retraction, though that didn't stop other conservatives from spreading the Kerry misquote.

    Even the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson -- author of "Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America" and beneficiary of much uncritical, disclosure-free WND press -- is not immune to spreading falsehoods. Media Matters recently caught Peterson falsely claiming on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" (Sean Hannity is on the advisory board of the organization that Peterson operates) that no blacks were disenfranchised in the 2000 presidential election (there's an entire report about it) and erroneously suggesting that Senator John Kerry supported reparations for slavery during his 2004 presidential campaign (he didn't).

    The html links for the cut and paste from ConWeb didn't go through, for some reason, so for more linkage fun, see the complete article.

    Posted by Eric at 07:07 PM | Comments (47)

    Seattle Weekly: Is Bush the Antichrist?

    Quite the provocative title, huh? Some stuff from the Tim Appelo piece in the Seattle Weekly:

    "Bush is one of the key figures leading the church away from Jesus," says Christian author Bob Miller, who wrote the nonbluenose Christian best seller Blue Like Jazz. Miller is no pantywaist—he had the balls to run a ministry at Reed College in Portland, Ore., which is so godless that its soccer team is said in campus legend to have once staged a halftime crucifixion in a game against a Christian school. But he couldn't stomach it when, for instance, Texas Gov. Bush not only allowed the execution of his fellow born-again Christian, the penitent ax murderer Karla Faye Tucker, but made vicious fun of her on TV ("Please don't kill me!" Bush said, mocking her prayerful plea for God's mercy). Miller classifies Bush Christians as modern Pharisees—the allegedly proud, rigid, legalistic hypocrites John the Baptist called "a generation of vipers." "The worst condemnation that Jesus has for anybody, I mean the worst, is for Pharisees," says Miller. "If you asked Jerry Falwell who the Pharisees are in our society, they can't point anybody out." There are no mirrors in Bush's church.

    "People of faith—especially those whose moral values differ from the values exploited this time around—need to figure out a way to be figured into the political landscape," Philadelphia Presbyterian minister Cynthia Jarvis editorialized in The New York Times. "Maybe four years from now, when the number one issue cited by voters in exit polls is again 'moral values,' those values will have something to do with economic justice, racial equality and the peaceable kingdom for which we all were made."

    But few have preached harder against the Christian right's wrongs than the Rev. Rich Lang of Seattle's Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard. "This administration is a culture of death, and so is the religious right," says Lang. In his Open Letter to George Bush, published in Real Change, Lang thunders, "You claim Christ but act like Caesar. There is blood all over your hands with the promise of even more blood to come. You sit atop the nations like the Biblical Whore of Babylon openly fornicating with the military men of might." His sermon "George Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism" (posted like Luther's theses on the church Web site, www.tumseattle.org) rails that "the power and seduction of this administration emerges from its diabolical manipulation of Christian rhetoric . . . the mirror opposite of what Jesus embodied. It is, indeed, the materialization of the spirit of Antichrist: a perversion of Christian faith and practice."

    Posted by Eric at 06:58 PM | Comments (32)

    Hamster Numbers: Cold Winter

    From the Progress Report:

    For millions of low-income Americans, it's going to be a long, very cold winter. Fuel prices have skyrocketed – according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the average cost of home heating this winter will be a whopping 24 percent higher than last year. To make matters worse, the number of people living in poverty, who are especially likely to need help paying their energy bills, rose last year by 1.3 million to 36 million people, or 12.5 percent of the population. Yet Congress is underfunding the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP helps poor households – many of which include people who are elderly or disabled – pay their heating bills during the coldest months of winter). About 30 million households qualify for help, but a lack of funding means only about one out of every seven families receives assistance. And initial sampling shows that this year, with temperatures dropping, fuel prices soaring and more Americans living in poverty, requests for assistance could reach an all-time high.

    Posted by Eric at 06:49 PM | Comments (47)

    Pataki Unpopular vs. Popular Spitzer

    In a hypothetical match-up for the NY governor's seat:

    Quinnipiac Univ. 12/3-6. MoE 2.9% (No trend lines)

    Spitzer (D) 50
    Pataki (R) 38

    Posted by Eric at 06:44 PM | Comments (114)

    Warms Your Heart

    Sam Francis, on interracial courting:

    If the destruction can't happen at the polls or through the courts, they can always use the long march through the culture that control of the mass media allows.

    Breaking down the sexual barriers between the races is a major weapon of cultural destruction because it means the dissolution of the cultural boundaries that define breeding and the family and, ultimately, the transmission and survival of the culture itself.

    How can you argue with that logic? ... the efforts of Media Matters to take the column's publishing to task.

    Posted by Eric at 06:20 PM | Comments (45)

    Howard Dean Remarks @ GWU

    Talking about the Democratic Party and its future. Dean, as you may know, is "emerging as the early front-runner" for DNC head. Partial transcript:

    We need to embrace real political reform -- because only real reform will pry government from the grasp of the special interests who have made a mockery of reform and progress for far too long.

    The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our Democracy is a moral value. Honesty is a moral value.

    If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won.

    It is time for the Democratic Party to start framing the debate.

    We have to learn to punch our way off the ropes.

    We have to set the agenda.

    Full trans below.

    Remarks made by Governor Howard Dean on the Future of the Democratic Party. Given at The George Washington University on December 8, 2004.

    Thank you for that introduction. It's a pleasure to be here.

    Let me tell you what my plan for this Party is:

    We're going to win in Mississippi
    ...and Alabama
    ...and Idaho
    ...and South Carolina.

    Four years ago, the President won 49 percent of the vote. The Republican Party treated it like it was a mandate, and we let them get away with it.

    Fifty one percent is not a mandate either. And this time we're not going to let them get away with it.

    Our challenge today is not to re-hash what has happened, but to look forward, to make the Democratic Party a 50-state party again, and, most importantly, to win.

    To win the White House and a majority in Congress, yes. But also to do the real work that will make these victories possible -- to put Democratic ideas and Democratic candidates in every office -- whether it be Secretary of State, supervisor of elections, county commissioner or school board member.

    Here in Washington, it seems that after every losing election, there's a consensus reached among decision-makers in the Democratic Party is that the way to win is to be more like Republicans.

    I suppose you could call that philosophy: if you didn't beat 'em, join them.

    I'm not one for making predictions -- but if we accept that philosophy this time around, another Democrat will be standing here in four years giving this same speech. we cannot win by being "Republican-lite." We've tried it; it doesn't work.
    The question is not whether we move left or right. It's not about our direction. What we need to start focusing on... is the destination.

    There are some practical elements to the destination.

    The destination of the Democratic Party requires that it be financially viable, able to raise money not only from big donors but small contributors, not only through dinners and telephone solicitations and direct mail, but also through the Internet and person-to-person outreach.

    The destination of the Democratic Party means making it a party that can communicate with its supporters and with all Americans. Politics is at its best when we create and inspire a sense of community. The tools that were pioneered in my campaign -- like blogs, and meetups, and streaming video -- are just a start. We must use all of the power and potential of technology as part of an aggressive outreach to meet and include voters, to work with the state parties, and to influence media coverage.

    The most practical destination is winning elective office. And we must do that at every level of government. The way we will rebuild the Democratic Party is not from consultants down, but from the ground up.

    We have some successes to build on. We raised more money than the RNC, and we did so by attracting thousands of new small donors. This is the first time in my memory that the DNC is not coming out of a national campaign in debt. We trained tens of thousands of new activists. We put together the most sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation our Party has ever had. We registered millions of new voters, including a record number of minority and young voters. And we saw those new voters overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

    Now we need to build on our successes while transforming the Democratic Party into a grassroots organization that can win in 50 states.

    I have seen all the doomsday predictions that the Democratic Party could shrink to become a regional Party. A Party of the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest.

    We cannot be a Party that seeks the presidency by running an 18-state campaign. We cannot be a party that cedes a single state, a single District, a single precinct, nor should we cede a single voter.

    As many of the candidates supported by my organization Democracy for America showed -- people in places that we've too long ignored are hungry for an alternative; they're hungry for new ideas and new candidates, and they're willing to elect Democrats.

    Since we started Dean for America last March, we raised over $5 million, mostly from small donors. That money was given to 748 candidates in 46 states and at every level of government.

    We helped a Democratic governor get elected in Montana and a Democratic mayor get elected in Salt Lake County, Utah.

    We helped Lori Saldana in San Diego. Lori, a Latina grassroots environmental organizer was outspent in both the primary and the general, won a seat on the state assembly.
    We also helped Anita Kelly become the first African-American woman elected to her circuit court in Montgomery Alabama.

    Fifteen of the candidates who we helped win last month never ran for elective office before.

    And in Texas, a little known candidate who had been written off completely ran the first competitive race against Tom Delay in over a decade.

    There are no red states or blue states, just American states. And if we can compete at all levels and in the most conservative parts of the country, we can win ... at any level and anywhere.

    People will vote for Democratic candidates in Texas, and Alabama, and Utah if we knock on their door, introduce ourselves, and tell them what we believe.

    There is another destination beyond strong finances, outreach, and campaigns.

    That destination is a better, stronger, smarter, safer, healthier America.

    An America where we don't turn our back on our own people.

    That's the America we can only build with conviction.

    When some people say we should change direction, in essence they are arguing that our basic or guiding principles can be altered or modified.

    They can't.

    On issue after issue, we are where the majority of the American people are.

    What I want to know is at what point did it become a radical notion to stand up for what we believe?

    Over fifty years ago, Harry Truman said, "We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don't need to try it."

    Yet here we are still making the same mistakes.

    Let me tell you something: there's only one thing Republican power brokers want more than for us to lurch to the left -- and that's for us to lurch to the right.

    What they fear most is that we may really begin fighting for what we believe -- the fiscally responsible, socially progressive values for which Democrats have always stood and fought.

    I'll give this to Republicans. They know the America they want. They want a government so small that, in the words of one prominent Republican, it can be drowned in a bathtub.

    They want a government that runs big deficits, but is small enough to fit into your bedroom.
    They want a government that is of, by, and for their special interest friends.

    They want a government that preaches compassion but practices division.

    They want wealth rewarded over work.

    And they are willing to use any means to get there.

    In going from record surpluses to record deficits, the Republican Party has relinquished the mantle of fiscal responsibility.

    And now they're talking about borrowing another $2 trillion to take benefits away from our Senior Citizens.

    In going from record job creation to record job loss, they have abandoned the mantle of economic responsibility.

    In cutting health care, education, and community policing programs... and in failing to invest in America's inner cities, or distressed rural communities... they certainly have no desire to even claim the mantle of social responsibility.

    In their refusal to embrace real electoral reform or conduct the business in government in the light of day, they are hardly the model of civic responsibility.

    In their willingness to change the rules so that their indicted leaders can stay in power, they have even given up any claim on personal responsibility.

    And in starting an international conflict based on misleading information, I believe they have abdicated America's moral responsibility, as well.

    There is a Party of fiscal responsibility... economic responsibility.... social responsibility... civic responsibility... personal responsibility... and moral responsibility.

    It's the Democratic Party.

    We need to be able to say strongly, firmly, and proudly what we believe.

    Because we are what we believe.

    And we believe every person in America should have access to affordable health care. It is wrong that we remain the only industrialized nation in the world that does not assure health care for all of its citizens.

    We believe the path to a better future goes directly through our public schools. I have nothing against private schools, parochial schools and home schooling. Parents with the means and inclination should choose whatever they believe is best for their children. But those choices must never come at the expense of what has been -- and must always be -- the great equalizer in our society -- public education.

    We believe that if you put in a lifetime of work, you have earned a retirement of dignity -- not one that is put at risk by your government or unethical business practices.

    The first time our nation balanced its budget, it was Andrew Jackson, father of the Democratic Party, who did it. The last time our nation balanced its budget, it was Bill Clinton who did it. I did it every year as Governor. Democrats believe in fiscal responsibility and we're the only ones who have delivered it.

    We believe that every single American has a voice and that it should be heard in the halls of power everyday. And it most certainly must be heard on Election Day. Democracies around the world look to us as a model. How can we be worthy of their aspirations when we have done enough to guarantee accurate elections for our own citizens.

    We believe in a strong and secure America... And we believe we will be stronger by having a moral foreign policy.

    We need to embrace real political reform -- because only real reform will pry government from the grasp of the special interests who have made a mockery of reform and progress for far too long.

    The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our Democracy is a moral value. Honesty is a moral value.

    If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won.

    It is time for the Democratic Party to start framing the debate.

    We have to learn to punch our way off the ropes.

    We have to set the agenda.

    We should not hesitate to call for reform -- reform in elections, reform in health care and education, reforms that promote ethical business practices. And, yes, we need to talk about some internal reform in the Democratic Party as well, and I'll be discussing that more specifically in the days ahead.

    Reform is the hallmark of a strong Democratic Party.

    Those who stand in the way of reform cannot be the focus of our attention for only four months out of every four years.

    Reform is a daily battle.

    And we must pursue those reforms with conviction -- every day, at all levels, in 50 states.

    A little while back, at a fundraiser, a woman came up to me. She identified herself as an evangelical Christian from Texas. I asked her what you are all wondering -- why was she supporting me. She said there were two reasons. The first was that she had a child who had poly-cystic kidney disease, and what that illness made it impossible for their family to get health care.

    The second thing she said was, "The other reason we're with you is because evangelical Christians are people of deep conviction, and you're a person of deep conviction. I may not agree with you on everything, but what we want more than anything else from our government is that when something happens to our family or something happens to our country -- it's that the people in office have deep conviction."

    We are what we believe. And the American people know it.

    And I believe that over the next two... four... ten years...

    Election by election...

    State by state...

    Precinct by precinct...

    Door by door...

    Vote by vote...

    We're going to lift our Party up...

    And we're going to take this country back for the people who built it.

    Posted by Eric at 02:34 PM | Comments (31)

    Simpsons Hits Fox News

    Tehe. From Lloyd Grove:

    If you want to make Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes go ballistic - and I wouldn't advise it - just suggest that his broadcast journalists are shills for President Bush and the Republicans ...

    So he couldn't have been happy Sunday night when another member of the Fox television family - "The Simpsons" - featured a Fox News satellite truck sporting a huge Bush-Cheney bumper sticker while the rock group Queen's classic "We Are the Champions" blared over the soundtrack.

    Ailes didn't return my phone call yesterday.

    But my pal Tom Shales, the esteemed television critic of The Washington Post, E-mailed that the wicked sendup was "pretty ballsy since 'The Simpsons' plays on the Fox network, but it also shows how firm is the image of Fox News as Bush whores."

    "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean responded: "Shales said that, not me."

    Jean noted that Fox News has been an occasional "Simpsons" target, "but the only trouble we got into this time was with the broadcast standards and practices department, which told us we couldn't air it prior to the election because then it would present an 'equal time' problem."

    The network's ethics cops simmered down when Jean assured them that the Bush-Cheney joke was for after the election.

    Meanwhile, a Fox News spokeswoman insisted: "We're flattered by the attention."

    Anyone who watches the show knows the cartoon often makes fun of Fox and Fox News. Fooooooor example:
    King: The League of Uninformed Voters presents the Springfield Mayoral
    Debates. I'm your moderator, Larry King. Now, a word to our
    audience: even though we're being broadcast on...Fox, there's no
    need for obnoxious hooting and hollering.
    [audience hoots and hollers]
    King: Oh...
    Marge: You know, Fox turned into a hardcore sex channel so gradually, I
    didn't even notice. Yeesh! [turns TV off]
    Fox: Welcome to Fox News. Your Voice for Evil. Tonight we'll be interviewing the top two candidates for Springfield's 24th congressional district. For the Republicans? Beloved children's entertainer, Krusty the Clown. ..and for the Democrats, this guy. (Candidate appears with on-screen devil's horns, communist flag in background)
    Candidate: I have a name!
    Fox: Yes, I'm sure you do, comrade. I appreciate your being here, you're (switches to split shot of both candidates, and Krusty has an on-screen halo) usually so mired in sleaze (they both react) it must be an effort to come down to the studio.
    Krusty: May I say something?
    Fox: Certainly congressman. (switches to split shot of both candidates, and other guy is now upside down)
    Candidate: He hasn't won yet!!
    Fox: You make a very adulterous point! We will now conclude this debate with a Krusty campaign commercial..

    During the above dialogue, a Fox type news crawl appears across the bottom of the screen;
    Pointless News Crawls Up 37 Percent...
    Do Democrats Cause Cancer? Find Out at foxnews.com...
    Rupert Murdoch: Terrific Dancer...
    Dow Down 5000 Points...
    Study: 92 Percent of Democrats Are Gay...
    JFK Posthumously joins Republican Party...
    Oil Slicks Found to Keep Seals Young, Supple...
    Dan Quayle: Awesome...

    Among others, courtesy of the great The Simpsons Archive.

    Posted by Eric at 05:30 AM | Comments (31)

    Which Automakers Enviro-Friendly?

    Car companies can make a difference in helping the environment, and those who do deserve recognition; Union of Concerned Scientists on with their "greenest automaker" list.

    Honda increased its lead over its competitors in the biennial race for the title of greenest automaker, the Union of Concerned Scientists announced today at a Washington press conference as it presented leaders of Honda with the "2004 Greenest Automaker" award. In stark contrast, UCS dubbed General Motors "Public Polluter #1" when it comes to emissions generated by automakers. GM, which had the least polluting vehicles of the Big Three automakers just six model years ago, fell behind industry laggard DaimlerChrysler into last place in UCS's latest environmental ranking of car companies.

    "Honda is in a class of its own when it comes to producing clean cars and trucks," said David Friedman, Research Director of UCS's Clean Vehicles Program and lead author of the report. "General Motors, on the other hand, is stuck in reverse. GM has spent countless dollars in advertising trying to create a green image, but as the only automaker to move backwards on both smog and carbon dioxide, its rhetoric doesn't match reality." ... Honda increased its overall lead by building vehicles that produce less than half the smog-forming pollutants of the industry average and 18 percent less heat-trapping emissions. Nissan took over second place by reducing global warming emissions per vehicle more than any other automaker - by about six percent since model year 2001. Toyota's slip into third place is a reflection of Nissan's pollution progress as well a lackadaisical effort from Toyota on smog. Ford maintained a fourth place standing with a Jekyll and Hyde approach to the environment that led to cars that matched Toyota's smog-forming pollution performance for the first time in UCS's analysis and the worst heat-trapping gas performance of all the automakers.

    Ranking from the full report:
    Rank Model Year 1998 Model Year 20001 Model Year 2003
    1 Honda Honda Honda
    2 Toyota Toyota Nissan
    3 Nissan Nissan Toyota
    4 GM Ford Ford
    5 Ford GM DaimlerChrysler
    6 DaimlerChrysler DaimlerChrysler GM

    Posted by Eric at 05:22 AM | Comments (21)

    Some States Taking Up Minimum Wage Slack

    No surprise, this administration and Congress won't do much on the minimum wage. Still, some states are taking up the slack, reports the Economic Policy Institute:

    The president and Congress are poised to beat a disgraceful record currently held by their predecessors of the 1980s—eight years without raising the minimum wage. Each year the federal government fails to act, workers pay the price, as the rising cost of living erodes the value of their paycheck.

    In response, states are stepping in to make sure that workers in their states don't suffer from federal neglect. Since 1997, when the federal minimum was raised to $5.15, the number of states with higher rates than the federal has gone from five to 13.1 On November 2nd, voters in Florida and Nevada overwhelmingly (71% in Florida and 68% in Nevada) approved ballot measures to join these states in setting minimum wages above the federal level. They also joined two states—Washington and Oregon—in requiring moderate annual adjustments to the state minimum wage to account for changes in the cost of living.

    The last time the federal government failed so badly to meet its responsibility to low-wage workers was in the 1980s, and states stepped in then as well. Between 1979 and 1989, the value of the federal minimum wage fell 29.5% (in inflation-adjusted dollars). In 1979 only Alaska had a higher minimum wage than the federal level. However, by 1989, 15 states had responded to this federal inaction by raising their minimum wages.

    Posted by Eric at 05:19 AM | Comments (26)

    Support Media Matters

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    Posted by Eric at 05:15 AM | Comments (49)

    December 06, 2004

    Comedy Monday

    The special 'Eric doesn't want to study for finals and is procrastinating by reading jokes' edition.

    "Earlier tonight they had the national lighting of the Christmas tree. They threw the switch and the tree came to life. And apparently it worked so well they are going to try the same thing with Dick Cheney." David Letterman

    "Last night over at NBC our good friend Tom Brokaw stepped down. Out of habit President Bush accepted his resignation." David Letterman

    "Earlier today the president has called on all Americans to do volunteer work. For example: National Guard service" David Letterman

    "Tom Ridge told friends he wants to go to the private sector, where he can make some more money. Finally — a Republican acting like a Republican. Never mind that crap about spending more time with his family. He’s sick of the colors red and blue, he wants to see some green." Jay Leno

    "NAACP President Kweisi Mfume announced that he is stepping down as the head of the NAACP. President Bush issued a statement. He said, "That just shows how great our country is, when a black man can become head of the NAACP." And you can tell the Republicans have taken over — his replacement is Trent Lott." Jay Leno

    "Elsewhere overseas, the invasion of and continued presence in Iraq still evokes passionate response. Witness this demonstration Tuesday, an angry mob shouting anti-U.S. slogans and toppling a statue of President Bush in a public square in the rouge nation of -- Canada. ... The angriest thing to come out of Canada in the last 20 years was Bare Naked Ladies." Jon Stewart

    In the Year 2000 ... Al Franken Edition, from Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

    "After being convicted, Michael Jackson escapes from prison disguised as a black man who likes grownups."

    "Parents will no longer let their kids watch SpongeBob SquarePants, when it's revealed that SpongeBob once worked as a female contraceptive."

    "Major-league baseball will finally crack down on steroids, Barry Bonds will again lead the Majors in homeruns with 3."

    "After being criticized for killing hundreds of semi-domesticated pheasants on their last hunting trip, Dick Chaney and Antonin Scalia will take up fishing. Their first grenade kills 300 fish. æ"

    Clay Aiken will clear up all the uncertainty about his sexual preference when he releases his next album, 'I'm Aiken for Men.'"

    In an effort to appear more youthful and smooth faced, John Kerry will announce his running mate - Clint Eastwood.

    "President Bush will throw out the first pitch at the St. Louis Cardinals opening game. Bush will then pitch the rest of the game, when he insists that replacing him now would send the wrong message to our enemies."

    "Police will accuse Woody Allen of being a mass murderer, and adding insult to injury, they will tell him they prefer his earlier, funnier, murderers. "

    "A law will be passed allowing women to kill one ex-boyfriend with no consequences. Longhaired base-players named Steve will be wiped off the face of the earth."

    "A mad scientist will switch the brains of Bill O'Reilly and Al Franken. As a result, Bill O'Reilly will support liberal causes and Al Franken will masturbate to old John Wayne movies."

    Mr. T edition.

    "Yassar Arafat is forced back into his compound. This time because he won't stop singing Pink's Get This Party Started."

    "In an effort to be more appealing the flu will change it's name to 'THe Flumeister'."

    "Tired of the rumors that he's gay, Liza Minnelli's husband publicly has sex with one hundred women. One hundred large bald women with handlebar mustaches."

    " Huey Lewis and the News will form a Huey Lewis and the News tribute band, just to prove that someone might actually do that."

    "Tony Danza will refuse to play any more characters named 'Tony.' The first role he gets after making this announcement: a bartender named 'Doug Danza.'"

    "I, Mr. T, will reveal that I do not have a mohawk haircut, I just went bald on both sides of my head."

    "Oral sex will be available in pill form. Unfortunately, it will be a suppository."

    "Animal experts will discover that the reason mountain goats live in the mountains is that they can get drunk faster."

    "Already reeling from the ongoing sex scandal, the Catholic Church will lose millions more followers, when Pope John Paul II appears on his balcony wearing acid-washed jeans."

    "The expression 'time will tell' will be proven invalid, when time refuses to tell what happened after it walked Debbie home from that party."

    "Mr. T has a son that he names after himself. To avoid confusion the boy is known as Mr. Lowercase T."

    "Conan O' Brien will be pitied not be me as a fool, but by fools as a superfool."

    Chris Berman nicknames.

    The Onion: Iraq Adopts Terror Alert System.

    The Onion: In Search Of A Better Life, Teen Moves Downstairs.

    whitehouse.org: 2004 FENCE-MENDING TOUR: President's Statement Advising People of Canadia to Lose the Attitude And Make Like a Nice Little 51st State.

    click down comics

    Posted by Eric at 04:57 AM | Comments (91)

    December 02, 2004

    Restart of Site: December 10

    My computer came in, and looking at my schedule, I think December 10th is a realistic time for me to restart blogging. I intend to keep up the blog until I graduate (Spring, 2005), then we'll see what happens then. Obviously, sorry for the back and forth on this, but I feel the Nov - Dec time is a good period to sort things out.

    On a separate note, some faka hacked into and destroyed my other site, AlFrankenWeb.com. Well, that's life for you. Obviously, not happy about that, but thankfully some great guy who helps me out with that site helped backup the site, so I didn't lose much.

    Posted by Eric at 01:46 PM | Comments (86)