April 24, 2005

Estate Tax to Hurt Charity Giving

Charities stand to lose roughly $10 billion a year if the federal estate tax is repealed permanently; still, charities are afraid of estate backlash if they lobby against the estate tax. NYTimes:

But while nonprofit groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last year lobbying Congress against imposing tougher regulations on them, on this issue they have been silent.

"I'm thinking to myself, here I am running around wrangling over boards and travel policies and whether organizations should be required to do audits and the sector is on the verge of losing something like $10 billion or $15 billion," said Diana Aviv, president of the Independent Sector, a large trade association representing charities and foundations. "Talk about misplaced priorities."

But every time Ms. Aviv opens her mouth about the matter, many of the charities she represents tell her to shut it ... The reason? No one wants to alienate the wealthy donors and board members who would benefit from a repeal.

There was a Brookings Institute event on the subject a month back, found here. One of the stories at the event: "what happened the last several years and how we went from a situation where the estate tax was little known to a situation where the estate tax was not only a red-hot issue, but repeal of the estate tax became a dominant political view."

Posted by Eric at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2005

Schiavo Memo: Real

Imagine that:

The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night.

Brian H. Darling, 39, a former lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group on gun rights and other issues, offered his resignation and it was immediately accepted, Martinez said ... Conservative Web logs have challenged the authenticity of the memo, in some cases likening it to the discredited documents about Bush's National Guard service that CBS News reported last fall.

Posted by Eric at 05:03 AM | Comments (2)

March 29, 2005

Oh, Jesse ...

LA Times: The Rev. Jesse Jackson prayed today with the parents of Terri Schiavo, and he called the struggle over her feeding tube "a moral issue that transcends politics."

Posted by Eric at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2005

Nader: Save Terri

I thought this was a freaking joke - how anyone can have respect for Ralph anymore is beyond me (and I used to intern for one of his organizations):

Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith, author of the award winning book "Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America" call upon the Florida Courts, Governor Jeb Bush and concerned citizens to take any legal action available to let Terri Schiavo live.

"A profound injustice is being inflicted on Terri Schiavo," Nader and Smith asserted today. "Worse, this slow death by dehydration is being imposed upon her under the color of law, in proceedings in which every benefit of the doubt-and there are many doubts in this case-has been given to her death, rather than her continued life."

Among the many injustices in this case, Nader and Smith point to the following:

The courts not only are refusing her tube feeding, but have ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. Terri swallows her own saliva. Spoon feeding is not medical treatment. "This outrageous order proves that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, it has ordered her to be made dead," Nader and Smith assert.

Steve with the outrage:
Defend this. I want someone to defend Nader's stand in this. For two years, we told you about his alliances, and you kept talking about working with him, how right he was. Now this is staring you right in the fucking face. Nader is aligned with the most extreme ultras of the radical right, people who would endorse kidnapping. Now, explain this away, explain why he would do this? The cheating of workers, taking help from the GOP, it wasn't enough.

But please explain this stand away. Please explain why he has rejected the rule of law. What excuse will you use now?

You are staring unvarnished evil in the face. Let's see you justify this.

Any progressive who defends him now is merely an idol-worshiping fool.

Posted by Eric at 08:23 PM | Comments (1)

Hypocrisy

From the Columbia Democrats: "A Modest List of Most Major Examples of GOP Hypocrisy Highlighted by the Schiavo Case"

Posted by Eric at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

Frist, Delay and Schiavo

From Hardblogger's David Schuster:

As part of our coverage in the Terri Schiavo case, I've been consulting and talking with several doctors. And while they disagree on who should decide Schiavo's fate, what tests should have been done, and the different steps the Florida courts might have taken, these physicians are united in their disgust over one key player in the Schiavo case— Senate majority leader Bill Frist. As one doctor said, "Frist has embarrassed and brought shame upon the medical profession." ... Ironically, the politicization of Terri Schiavo and the play for evangelical voters looks like it may now cause Bill Frist more harm than good. The latest polls show Americans overwhelming against Congress getting involved in the case. And these were polls conducted BEFORE most Americans saw the fine print of the Congressional Schiavo bill. Despite the sweeping floor statements about "protecting life," the legislation itself did not require the federal courts to start by reinserting Schiavo's feeding tube. And while the bill does give the Schiavo family "jurisdiction and standing" to make an argument in federal court, take a look at Section 3 called "relief." Section 3 states, "After a determination of the merits of a suit brought under this Act, the District Court shall issue such declaratory and injunctive relief as may be necessary..." The key words are "after a determination..." Congress did not say the federal court must accept the merits of the lawsuit.

Based on what Schiavo's parents have been saying this week, it appears the legislation's fine print was never shared with them by Bill Frist or anybody else for that matter. Early Monday morning, after President Bush signed the Schiavo bill, Bob Schindler was positively beaming in front of the television cameras. He said he walked into his daughter's hospice room and told her, "We had to wake the President up to save your life."

Did Bill Frist and Tom Delay ever call the Schindler family and say, "not so fast?" Apparently not. In their latest court filing, the Schinder family still clings to the misleading notion offered by lawmakers last weekend that their bill required Schiavo's feeding tube to be immediately reinserted. Quote, "If Congress meant to give the federal courts the power to let her die..." says the Schindler's filing, then passing the law "would be little more than a cruel hoax." Read it again... The Schindlers argue: "If Congress meant to give the federal courts the power..." The fact is, that's exactly what Congress did. And a "cruel hoax" on Terry Schiavo's family is exactly the right description. As one of my doctor contacts observed, "This has always been about politics, not about helping Terri Schiavo or her parents."

Posted by Eric at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2005

Why is Terri Schiavo Important to Bush?

Garance Franke-Ruta, blogger for TAPPED, thinks it's because Bush wants more public support for his judicial picks (since those rotten ones now won't 'help' Schiavo):

Suddenly it occurs to me that the Republican fight against the courts on Terri Schiavo has been, among many other things, a perfect set-up for the Republicans' next major congressional initiative: packing the courts with President Bush's conservative judicial nominees. Just take a look at how George Bush reacted this afternoon, after a federal appeals court refused to re-insert Schiavo's feeding tube:

"I believe that in a case such as this, the legislative branch, the executive branch, ought to err on the side of life, which we have," the president said. "Now we'll watch the courts make their decisions."

Combine that with the fact that Mark Levin's Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destorying America is right now on the best-seller lists, and you have a recipe for a mobilizing a hurt and highly motivated constituency in defense of the president's coming effort to transform the courts so that they more closely hew to the perspective in the White House and Congress.

Kevin Drum has more.

Posted by Eric at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)

March 24, 2005

Let's Use Scary Criminals!

You have to love the overheated rhetoric from the Family Research Council email newsletters:

Steven Kenneth Staley, 42, won reprieve just hours before his scheduled execution in Texas yesterday. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Mr. Staley to allow his lawyers to develop further appeals. In 1989, Mr. Staley, while robbing a restaurant, shot and killed a man. There is no doubt that Mr. Staley committed the crime, but he won his appeal on a technicality during the trial process. Theresa (Terri) Marie Schiavo, 42, today had an appeal denied by the United States Supreme Court. Mrs. Schiavo has been convicted of no crime, yet was sentenced to painfully starve to death by Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer. Yesterday Judge Greer barred state officials from rescuing Terri and anyone else from feeding the starving woman.

Mrs. Schiavo's only crime is to have suffered brain damage under questionable circumstances over fifteen years ago. Dr. William Cheshire, a neurologist who was assigned to examine Terri's case by Governor Jeb Bush, firmly believes Terri "demonstrates a number of behaviors that I believe cast a reasonable doubt on the prior diagnosis of PVS." Dr. Cheshire recounts numerous examples when Terri has smiled, laughed, felt pain and showed other signs of being aware. All of Terri's reactions were at appropriate times and in no way were simply involuntary reactions. Any society that allows the weakest among them to suffer pain and death, merely because they are a burden, is a society that is in deep trouble. A convicted murderer, Steven Staley, has won a reprieve. Who will grant the innocent Terri Schiavo the same consideration?

Posted by Eric at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

More on the Schiavo video

Since the Schiavo video is on the news every second of the day, it's worth noting what's actually on the full video; NY Daily News:

But it's carefully edited and cruelly misleading, according to doctors who say people lost in a permanent vegetative state sometimes falsely appear perfectly conscious.

"Pictures do lie," said Dr. Lawrence Schneiderman, a University of California bioethicist.

To loving families and nonexperts, such patients "often look fairly normal," said Dr. Ronald Cranford, a University of Minnesota neurologist. Even with little brain tissue left, they smile, grimace, groan and glance around.

The now-famous tape was edited by Schiavo's desperate parents to show the fleeting moments during a four-hour, court-ordered evaluation in 2002 when their daughter looks most responsive.

On the unedited tape, Mary Schindler tries repeatedly to get her daughter to obey a request and prove to the court she mustn't die.

"Ter, Ter. Can you look over here, sweetheart?" she says. "Can you look at Mommy? Over here. Ter."

But in the extended versions of the tape, Schiavo looks at her mother only when her gaze is attracted by a sudden movement or when Schindler leans into her face.

Mostly, Schiavo lies blinking up into space, her jaw slack, her arms curled up to her chest.

Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who watched all four hours and heard testimony from numerous experts, ruled in 2002 that Schiavo is not conscious.

"At first blush, the video of Terri Schiavo appearing to smile and look lovingly at her mother seemed to represent cognition," he wrote. But "these actions were neither consistent nor reproducible."

And how about that "sanctity of marriage" with the GOP?
Of all the ironies at the heart of the Terri Schiavo case—alleged federalists who scoff at federalism; the fact that Schiavo, who's in a persistent vegetative state, has lived off the winnings in the same kind of medical malpractice suit that Republicans in Congress seek to limit—the most astonishing is this: Congressional Republicans who have staked their careers and the last election on the "sanctity of marriage" have turned this case into a mockery of that very institution.

With respect to my critics in the Fray and my colleague Mickey Kaus, this just isn't a case about federal civil rights. This isn't about the federal Voting Rights Act or about Brown v. Board. At least it wasn't until Congress attempted, at the 11th hour, to turn it into one. There was and is one principal issue to be decided in this case and that is, what would Terri Schiavo have wanted for herself had she foreseen an irreversible 15-year vegetative condition in her future? Courts have been deciding these issues for decades now, and they have done so by triangulating back not from the federal Constitution but from the implicit respect we have always had for the compact between people who marry.

The reasons given by the Rick Santorums of the world for limiting marriage to men and women always stress that marriage is different, sacred, special. And that's true; it's unlike any other bond under the law. Most states agree, which is why in these invariably awful substituted-judgment cases, courts generally defer to the spouse—who is presumed to best know what the incapacitated patient would have wanted ...

Posted by Eric at 10:33 AM | Comments (1)

Political Motivation and Terri Schiavo

From a CBS News poll:

Congressional leaders have insisted their only motivation in getting involved in the Terri Schiavo case was saving a life. But Americans aren’t buying that argument, a CBS News poll finds.

An overwhelming 82 percent of the public believes the Congress and President should stay out of the matter.

Just 13 percent of those polled think Congress intervened in the case out of concern for Schiavo, while 74 percent think it was all about politics. Of those polled, 66 percent said the tube should not be inserted compared to 27 percent who want it restored. The issue has generated strong feelings, with 78 percent of those polled -- wheter for either side of the issue -- saying they have strong feelings.

Public approval of Congress has suffered as a result; at 34 percent, it is the lowest it has been since 1997, dropping from 41 percent last month. Now at 43 percent, President Bush’s approval rating is also lower than it was a month ago.

Over the weekend, Republicans in Congress pushed through unprecedented emergency legislation aimed at prolonging the brain-damaged woman's life by allowing the case to be reviewed by federal courts.

82!

Sidney Blumenthal in the Guardian notes that "Republicans have cynical motives for trying to stop Terri Schiavo being taken off life support."

Posted by Eric at 06:16 AM | Comments (0)

Nobel Prize nominee?

Just like Bill O'Reilly won a Peabody ... Media Matters:

Fox News host Sean Hannity and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough both promoted Dr. William Hammesfahr's false claim that he is a Nobel Prize nominee.

Hammesfahr, a Florida neurologist disciplined in 2003 by the Florida Board of Medicine who claims he can help Terri Schiavo, testified during an October 2002 court hearing on the Schiavo case that his claim to be a Nobel nominee is based on a letter written by Rep. Mike Bilirakis (R-FL) recommending him for the prize. But Bilirakis is not qualified to make a valid nomination under the Nobel rules ... But the fact that Bilirakis is not qualified to nominate Nobel Prize winners did not stop Scarborough or Hannity from referring to Hammesfahr as a Nobel Prize nominee. Hannity did so a total of eight times during a single hour-long program; Scarborough made the reference four times. Additionally, Scarborough erroneously claimed that Hammesfahr has "treated" Schiavo; in fact, Hammesfahr has merely examined her as one of five doctors approved by a Florida court in 2001 to do so. He was one of two doctors selected by Schiavo's parents; two others were selected by Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, and the fifth was chosen by the court.

Posted by Eric at 03:42 AM | Comments (3)

March 22, 2005

Talking Points on Shiavo

See RawStory, uh, story.

Posted by Eric at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2005

More on Terri Schiavo

Progress Report:

Just like countless other families, the family of Terri Schiavo has struggled for years with the intensely difficult decision of how to match her course of treatment to her wishes.  Now President George W. Bush, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) are using the tragic case of Schiavo – a severely brain-damaged woman who has been incapacitated for the past 15 years – as an opportunity for political grandstanding. A memo, which the AP reports was distributed by Senate leadership to right-wing members, called Schiavo "a great political issue" and urged senators to talk about her because "the pro-life base will be excited." Over the weekend, DeLay and Frist held special sessions of Congress to facilitate passage of a bill that would allow a federal court to overturn years of Florida jurisprudence – encompassing seven courts and 19 judges – and intervene in the Schiavo case. (Underscoring that this was about the politics of the Schiavo case and not policy, the bill was written explicitly to apply only to Terri Schiavo.) President Bush played his part in the spectacle, flying to Washington from his ranch in Crawford to sign the bill, even though waiting a few hours for the bill to be flown to him would likely "have made no difference in whether Ms. Schiavo lives."


A large majority of Americans find the meddling here wrong.

Posted by Eric at 11:54 AM | Comments (6)

March 19, 2005

Politics of Terry Schiavo

See this.

Posted by Eric at 12:57 PM | Comments (4)

March 15, 2005

Bush's SS Plan Fails In Another Poll

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, "only 35 percent of Americans now saying they approve of his handling of the issue" and furthermore "A majority of elderly voters have turned against the plan for private accounts." Article:

While the White House has helped convince more than two-thirds of those polled that Social Security is heading for a crisis or possible bankruptcy without change, 56 percent disapprove of his approach, a survey of 1,001 adults conducted March 10-13 shows. By comparison, 38 percent approved of his handling of the issue and 52 percent disapproved of it in mid-December.

Moreover, 58 percent of those polled this time said the more they hear about Bush's plan, the less they like it. The latest polling, combined with detailed interviews last week, shows that Bush's drive to significantly alter the 70-year-old national insurance program has run into significant hurdles with every age cohort.

A majority of elderly voters have turned against the plan for private accounts, even though the White House has assured them it would have no impact on their Social Security benefits. Younger workers, who have the most to gain, also tend to be the most difficult to mobilize, according to interviews. And many middle-aged workers are faced with the reality that there would not be enough time before their retirement to gain much financial benefit from the new approach.

The poll data.

Previously: USAT Poll: Social Security plan support drops

AP: Poll Bad News for Bush on Social Security

Posted by Eric at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2005

Marijuana Arrests in the United States

Via Talk Left, a "comprehensive study reporting and analyzing national arrest data between 1995 and 2002." See NORML.

Posted by Eric at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2005

Bush Budget Doesn't Represent American Opinion

Finds PIPA study: "American public would significantly alter the Bush administration’s recently proposed federal budget"

The most dramatic changes were deep cuts in defense spending, a significant reallocation toward deficit reduction, and increases in spending on education, job training, reducing reliance on oil, and veterans. These changes were favored by both Republicans and Democrats, though the changes were generally greater for Democrats.

Sixty-one percent of respondents redirected some funds to reducing the budget deficit, with the mean respondent reallocating $36 billion (Democrats $39.4 billion, Republicans $29.6 billion), though they were not told anything about the size of the deficit.

Defense spending received the deepest cut, being cut on average 31%—equivalent to $133.8 billion—with 65% of respondents cutting. The second largest area to be cut was the supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, which suffered an average cut of $29.6 billion or 35%, with two out of three respondents cutting. Also cut were transportation (cut $12.6 billion or 18%), federal administration of justice ($8.7 billion or 21%), and space research and science ($1.2 billion or 5%). Majorities of 53-58% of respondents favored cuts in each of these cases.

The largest increases were for social spending. Spending on human capital was especially popular including education which was increased $26.8 billion (39%) and job training and employment which was up $19 billion or a remarkable 263%. Medical research was upped on average $15.5 billion (53%). Veterans benefits were raised 40% or $12.5 billion and housing went up 31% or $9.3 billion. In most cases clear majorities favored increases (education 57%, job training 67%, medical research 57%, veteran’s benefits 63%), though only 43% of respondents favored increases for housing.

And this on the UN:
In contrast to the large cuts to defense spending in the budget exercise, respondents made substantial increases to forms of soft power. The UN and UN peacekeeping received one of the largest percentage increases—going up an average of 207% or $4.8 billion. Spending on economic and humanitarian aid went up an average of $3.2 billion or 23%, military aid went up $4.7 billion or 53% and the State Department went up an average of $3.2 billion, also 53%. However, in all these cases it was an enthusiastic minority (25-39%) that was driving these increases.

Posted by Eric at 05:39 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2005

Immigrants to Wear Electronic Anklets

See Morning Edition:

The Department of Homeland Security is experimenting with a controversial new method to keep better track of immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States. It is requiring aliens in eight cities to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day.

The ankle bracelets are the same monitors that some rapists and other convicted criminals have to wear on parole. But the government's pilot project is putting monitors on aliens who have never been accused of a crime.

So far, the Department of Homeland Security has put electronic monitors on more than 1,700 immigrants. Victor Cerda, director of Detention and Removal Operations at Homeland Security, says the anklets will help prevent tens of thousands of immigrants who are ordered to leave the country each year from "absconding" -- going into hiding to avoid deportation.

But critics say Cerda and other Homeland Security officials have exaggerated the extent of the problem. They point to a Justice Department study that put part of the blame on immigration officials, saying they'd failed to keep adequate records to track aliens.

Talk Left has more.

Posted by Eric at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2005

1/3 Approve of Bush SS

USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll:

A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll conducted Friday-Sunday found that 35% approved of Bush's Social Security record, 56% disapproved and 9% had no opinion. That was down from three weeks ago, when 43% approved. In March 2001, just after he took office, 49% approved. (Related: Poll results)

The poll included several pieces of bad news for Bush on the issue, which he has made his top priority this year. The president traveled to eight states in February to make the case for an overhaul .... Americans are more evenly split over which is riskier: relying on Social Security to keep current benefits flowing or investing some payroll taxes in the market. Half said relying on the system's promises is less risky, while 46% said investing is preferable.

The poll showed higher public approval for AARP, the 35-million-member retiree organization that is leading the opposition to Bush's plan, than for the president. Bush's favorable rating was 56%, compared with 75% for AARP. And 47% of Americans said they trust the Democrats more to deal with the issue of Social Security, a 10-point advantage over Republicans.

Posted by Eric at 05:58 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2005

Will AARP Respond?

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest writes:

By not responding with a fight the management of AARP is allowing their organization to be dragged through the mud by fascist thugs. But it's more than that. Managing an organization as large and important and public as AARP puts them in a position with a certain amount of responsibility for the national discourse. By not responding they are allowing this kind of thug tactic to continue and grow in effect and harm all of us. The Kerry campaign did not respond to the Swift Boat smear, and look where that got them. This is another chance to fight back, and maybe put a dent in the Republican smear machine. AARP has a responsibility to all of us to try to shut this stuff down!
Steve Soto with more.

Posted by Eric at 04:31 PM | Comments (4)

December 16, 2004

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)

November 11, 2004

Serious Problems Remain With Voting System

From American Progress Talking Points:

  • Electronic voting machines recorded "extra" votes.  A voting machine in a suburban Columbus, OH precinct recorded an additional 3,893 votes for President Bush even though there were just 800 voters registered in the precinct. Similar glitches were discovered in e-voting machines across the country. There were as many as 10,000 extra e-votes cast in Nebraska and 19,000 mysterious "extra ballots" were added on electronic machines in Florida

  • No paper trail for electronic machines meant some votes "disappeared."  More than 4,000 early votes were lost in North Carolina's Carteret County because an electronic voting system could not store the volume of votes it received. This could have been avoided with a verifiable paper trail. 

  • Long lines made voting difficult for millions of Americans. The most common problem of all in this year's election was long lines which caused hours-long waits in many precincts in the country.  The problems appeared to be particularly acute in some low-income areas due to the lack of adequate numbers of voting machines. 

  • Posted by Eric at 05:45 AM | Comments (4)

    November 08, 2004

    [Guardian] Bush and co. head

    [Guardian] Bush and co. head to next target: space. "US ready to put weapons in space."

    Internal USAF documents reveal that seizing control of the 'final frontier' is deemed essential for modern warfare. Counterspace Operations reveals that destroying enemy satellites would improve the chance of victory. It states: 'Space superiority provides freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack. Space and air superiority are crucial first steps in any military operation.' Theresa Hitchens, vice-president of a Washington-based independent think-tank, the Centre for Defence Information, said: 'These documents show that they are taking space control seriously.'

    Posted by Eric at 06:01 AM | Comments (1)

    November 01, 2004

    "Halliburton critic endured racism, sexism"

    From the AP:

    A senior Army contracting officer who had criticized a contract given to Halliburton had been subjected to a racist and sexist work environment, her former supervisor, a retired general, said in an affidavit.

    The affidavit by retired Lt. Gen. Joe N. Ballard demonstrated the integrity of Bunnatine Greenhouse, said her attorney, Michael Kohn. Greenhouse, chief contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers, has charged that the Army showed favoritism to Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's former company.

    That work environment ''just made it that much more difficult for Ms. Greenhouse to take the action she took,'' Kohn said Sunday.

    In the affidavit, Ballard said, ''Ms. Greenhouse's race and gender ruffled a lot of feathers in the Corps command.''

    Posted by Eric at 04:40 PM | Comments (27)

    October 29, 2004

    Administration Continues Attacks on Non-Profits

    According to OMB Watch, "the election-eve IRS investigation regarding the nonprofit status of NAACP, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization, is part of a growing pattern of intimidation and suppression of free-speech and advocacy rights of charities and other nonprofits." An executive summary notes:

    In our newest publication, Continuing Attacks on Nonprofit Speech: Death By a Thousand Cuts II, we found:

  • Retaliatory action against government grantees that engage in controversial policy discussions or active advocacy that includes points of view different from the administration's
  • Aggressive application of the global gag rule, and signs of a back door “domestic gag rule” that illegally imposes government rules on private funds of grantees;
  • Selective enforcement of laws against nonprofits engaged in direct action; and
  • Overbroad implementation of homeland security policy that chills nonprofit action.
  • Posted by Eric at 09:11 PM | Comments (20)

    October 28, 2004

    Large Shifts in Military About Gays

    Finds a University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey:

    Fifty percent of junior enlisted service members say that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey. The number is a significant increase since 1992, when two similar surveys found 16 percent of male service members held the same view.


    The Annenberg poll follows a report last week from the Urban Institute which estimates 65,000 lesbian and gay Americans serve in the armed forces. “Despite the military’s gay ban, service members have seen first hand the contributions of lesbian and gay Americans,” said Sharra E. Greer, Director of Law and Policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “Heterosexual service members serve alongside lesbian and gay colleagues every day and they are increasingly comfortable doing so.”

    Posted by Eric at 11:33 AM | Comments (14)

    October 25, 2004

    Rehnquist Has Cancer

    From the AP:

    Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the leading conservative figure on the Supreme Court for a generation, has thyroid cancer but will continue working while receiving treatment.

    Rehnquist, 80, underwent a tracheotomy at Bethesda Naval Hospital in suburban Maryland on Saturday. While no details about his condition were released, a statement issued by the court said he is expected to be back at work next week when justices resume hearing cases.

    Even so, Rehnquist's hospitalization little more than a week before the election gave new prominence to a campaign issue that has been overshadowed by the war on terrorism. The next president is likely to at least one — and likely more — to a court that has been deeply divided in recent years on issues as varied as abortion and the 2000 election itself.

    A reminder from People for the American Way:
    At a closed-door luncheon in September with high-dollar Republican donors, President Bush bragged that an election victory would give him an opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice shortly after his inauguration, and perhaps three more high-court vacancies during his second term, according to a report in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Gushed one enthusiastic attendee, “Won’t that be amazing? Can you imagine? Four appointments!”

    This time, President Bush has his facts straight. It is almost certain that the president elected this fall will have an opportunity to nominate two, three, or four justices. It has been more than ten years since the last vacancy, the longest interval between openings on the Court in 181 years, since the administration of James Monroe in 1823. Over the past 50 years, there has been a vacancy on the average of about once every two years. We are long overdue. In fact, we could be entering an era comparable to the four vacancies between 1969 and 1972 and the five between 1986 and 1991.

    Posted by Eric at 03:00 PM | Comments (15)

    Report: "Nearly Half of Americans in Medicare at Risk of Losing Coverage"

    According to Families USA, "A careful analysis of the new Medicare law and the Administration's proposed regulations shows that approximately half of the program's beneficiaries are at risk of being worse off than they are today ... Those at risk of being worse off include":

    * The 6.4 million so-called "dual eligibles," those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. America's poorest seniors and people with disabilities will lose their current drug coverage provided by Medicaid on December 31, 2005.

    * The 13 million retirees with drug coverage from their previous employers, who are at risk of losing at least portions of that coverage.

    * The 4.7 million seniors currently enrolled in Medicare Managed Care Plans, who will receive fewer protections than they have today.

    Posted by Eric at 05:45 AM | Comments (26)

    October 22, 2004

    Study: "most middle-income families lost ground between 2000 and 2003"

    How are those Bush policies helping the middle class? According to a study from the Ecnoomic Policy Institute:

  • "Pre-tax incomes fell for middle-income families of every type between 2000 and 2003. Driven by a recession-induced fall-off in wage income, pre-tax incomes fell by $2,119, or 3.1%, for married-couple families with children; single mothers lost $686 in pre-tax income, or 3.0%; elderly couples lost $353, or 1.0%; and young singles lost $818, or 3.4%."
  • "After taking into account changes in both pre-tax income and taxes, the finding remains that most middle-income families lost ground between 2000 and 2003. Incomes declined slightly over this period (by 0.2%) for married couples with children and by 1.4% for elderly couples and young singles. Single-mother families saw after-tax income gains of 1.9% because of the greater refundability of child tax credits."
  • "Family spending on higher insurance co-pays, deductibles, and premiums has escalated in recent years. Middle-income families saw their incomes erode between 2000 and 2003, after changes in both taxes and health spending are taken into account. For married-couple families with children, health spending rose three times faster than income (not inflation-adjusted) between 2000 and 2003, absorbing half the growth of their income. The post-tax, post-health-spending income of married-couple families with children, for instance, fell $699, or 1.3%, between 2000 and 2003, while that of single-mother families fell $433, or 2.0%."

    Posted by Eric at 02:18 AM | Comments (57)

    October 18, 2004

    More of the Same on Deficit

    "This is the first time since before the Depression of the 1930s that the deficit has continued to increase this far into a recovery," notes the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

    Fiscal Year 2004 ended on September 30, and today the Treasury Department reported that the deficit for 2004 was $413 billion, or 3.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product.[1]

  • At 3.6 percent of GDP, the 2004 deficit marks the fourth consecutive year of fiscal deterioration, the first time this has happened since the U.S. entered World War II.
  • At 3.6 percent of GDP, the 2004 deficit is up from the 2003 level of 3.5 percent of GDP and is the highest level since 1993.
  • The deficit increased in 2004 even though the recession officially ended in November 2001. This is the first time since before the Depression of the 1930s that the deficit has continued to increase this far into a recovery.
  • At $413 billion, the 2004 deficit was $36 billion higher than the 2003 deficit, which stood at $377 billion.

    The growth of deficits has largely reflected stunning revenue declines. Federal tax revenues this year are at their lowest level, measured as a share of the Gross Domestic Product, since 1959. In contrast, federal spending in 2004, measured as a share of GDP, is slightly below its average level of the last four decades.

  • Posted by Eric at 05:11 AM | Comments (52)

    October 15, 2004

    Cornell Study: "Government terrorist warnings boost President Bush's approval ratings"

    Link via BoldPrint, a Cornell University sociologist finds:

    When Willer linked the warnings to presidential ratings from 2001 to 2004, he found that each terror warning prompted, on average, a 2.75 point increase in the president's approval rating the following week.

    Willer points to the aftermath of the Sep. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States as an example of the tendency. After Sept. 11, 2001, approval of Bush's job performance jumped from 51 percent on Sept. 10, 2001, to 86 percent on Sept. 15, 2001, in a Gallup Poll. Similarly, approval for Bush's handling of the economy jumped from 54 percent on July 11, 2001, to 72 percent on Oct. 5, 2001, says Willer.The findings are consistent with social identity theory, says Willer. The theory postulates that individuals tend to identify with a specific group to the extent that they see themselves as more similar to the members of the group than to its most significant out-group.

    "Once individuals identify with a group, they develop significant biases toward their group, which help them maintain high self-esteem as members of their group. From the perspective of social identity theory, threats of attacks from foreigners increase solidarity and in-group identification among Americans, including feelings of stronger solidarity with their leadership," explains Willer.

    When the out-group threat includes terror, Willer says that the social-identity effects are further heightened. He notes that his findings also are consistent with terror management theory, which indicates that threats involving mortality not only increase in-group biases but also nationalism. "This research suggests that individuals may respond to reminders of their mortality, like terror warnings, by supporting their current leaders," Willer says.

    Posted by Eric at 07:55 AM | Comments (197)

    October 14, 2004

    CBPP: "Number of Unemployed Who Have Gone Without Federal Benefits Hits Record 3 Million"

    ... Whoooho! From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

    Since late December, when the federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation program stopped providing additional aid to individuals exhausting their regular unemployment benefits, a record number of jobless workers have exhausted their regular benefits, gone without federal aid, and received neither a paycheck nor an unemployment check. Based on actual figures through August and the author’s estimates through mid-October:

  • The three-million figure. From late December through the middle of October, an estimated 3,053,000 unemployed individuals will have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits. About 34,000 of them will have qualified for additional unemployment aid through the federal/state extended benefits program. The remaining three million individuals will not have qualified for any federal unemployment benefits.
  • The record that has been set. The three million jobless workers exhausting their regular benefits and going without federal aid from late December through mid-October is higher than the number of such exhaustees in any other period of comparable length on record.[1]
  • Posted by Eric at 12:37 PM | Comments (77)

    October 13, 2004

    Bush Admin Now Says No Jobs Lost!

    Magic!

    Commerce Secretary Donald Evans disputed the notion Friday that there are fewer jobs in the economy today than when President Bush took office nearly four years ago.

    "That's false. That's just not factual," Evans said in an interview with CBS MarketWatch. "I just don't accept that conclusion that we've lost jobs during this administration."

    Posted by Eric at 06:49 PM | Comments (90)

    October 07, 2004

    Hamster Numbers: Deficit Growth

    From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

    Fiscal Year 2004 ended on September 30, and today the Congressional Budget Office reported that the deficit for 2004 was $415 billion.[1] At $415 billion:

  • The 2004 deficit marks the fourth consecutive year of fiscal deterioration, the first time this has happened since the U.S. entered World War II.
  • The deficit increased in 2004 even though the recession officially ended in November 2001. This is the first time since before the Depression of the 1930s that the deficit has continued to increase this far into a recovery.
  • The 2004 deficit was $41 billion higher than the 2003 deficit, which stood at $375 billion.
  • The 2004 deficit equaled 3.6 percent of GDP, up from the 2003 level of 3.5 percent of GDP and the highest level since 1993.
  • The growth of deficits has largely reflected stunning revenue declines. Federal tax revenues this year are at their lowest level, measured as a share of the Gross Domestic Product, since 1959. In contrast, federal spending in 2004, measured as a share of GDP, is slightly below its average level of the last four decades.
  • Posted by Eric at 04:44 AM | Comments (31)

    October 05, 2004

    Poll: 1 in 4 Hold Anti-Muslim Views

    Some of the findings from a Council on American-Islamic Relations poll (WPost writeup):

  • More than one-fourth of survey respondents agreed with stereotypes such as "Muslims teach their children to hate" and "Muslims value life less than other people."
  • When asked what comes to mind when they hear "Muslim," 32 percent of respondents made negative comments. Only two percent had a positive response.
  • Those with the most negative attitudes toward Islam and Muslims tend to be less-educated white males who are politically conservative.
    General knowledge of Islam is low but the presence of Muslim friends and colleagues drives more enlightened attitudes.
  • And if it even needs repeating, one of the leading conservative pundits in the country is anti-Muslim and proud of it. Politically, from Zogby, Muslims "overwhelmingly supporting Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry over Republican George W. Bush."

    Posted by Eric at 09:02 AM | Comments (225)

    October 03, 2004

    Moonies Get Bush Funding

    From the SF Chron:

    President Bush has some new troops in his crusade to promote "healthy marriage" and teen celibacy with federal funds -- followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial Korean evangelist and self-proclaimed new world messiah.

    At least four longtime operatives of Moon's Unification Church are on the federal payroll or getting government grants in the administration's Healthy Marriage Initiative and other "faith-based" programs. ... Through such publications as the Washington Times, a church-financed, conservative daily newspaper in the nation's capital, and through alliances with priests and pastors across the theological spectrum, Moon and company have spent a fortune courting the opinion-makers of church and state.

    Moon showed an early interest in the Bush administration's faith-based initiative. In the spring of 2001, the American Leadership Conference, a project of the Caprara's American Family Coalition and Washington Times Foundation, sponsored a "Faith-Based Initiative Summit," a conference that was transmitted via satellite to 40 gatherings in churches and hotel meeting rooms across the country.

    Posted by Eric at 09:52 PM | Comments (241)

    September 28, 2004

    Military Suffering Under Bush

    More evidence, this time with troop reporting; USA Today:

    Fewer than two-thirds of the former soldiers being reactivated for duty in Iraq and elsewhere have reported on time, prompting the Army to threaten some with punishment for desertion.
    The former soldiers, part of what is known as the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), are being recalled to fill shortages in skills needed for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Of the 1,662 ready reservists ordered to report to Fort Jackson, S.C., by Sept. 22, only 1,038 had done so, the Army said Monday. About 500 of those who failed to report have requested exemptions on health or personal grounds.

    "The numbers did not look good," said Lt. Col. Burton Masters, a spokesman for the Army's Human Resources Command. "We are tightening the system, reaching the people and bringing them in."

    Posted by Eric at 11:02 AM | Comments (17)

    September 24, 2004

    Army Guard Facing Drop in Recruitment

    Gee, wonder why:

    The Army National Guard will fall short of its recruiting goal this year, in part because fewer active-duty soldiers are opting to switch to part-time service, the Guard's top general said Thursday.
    It will be the first time since 1994 that the Guard has missed its sign-up goal.

    Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in an interview at his Pentagon office that the shortfall for the budget year ending Sept. 30 is likely to be about 5,000 soldiers. That is a little more than 1% of the total Army Guard force of 350,000.

    Posted by Eric at 04:20 PM | Comments (27)

    September 20, 2004

    Fear Politics Continued

    From the Chicago Tribune:

    Remarks by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, indicating a belief that Al Qaeda operatives would prefer John Kerry in the White House, sparked a firestorm of protest Sunday from Democrats who labeled the Illinois Republican's comments as "fear mongering" and "un-American."

    But a Hastert spokesman said Democrats should first work with Kerry to try to reconcile what he called "inconsistent" positions on Iraq and homeland security. And Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, contended that a Kerry strategy on Iraq amounted to little more than "retreat and defeat."

    The heightened rhetoric on terrorism and Iraq underscored the importance of those issues, as well as a concerted effort by Kerry to weaken Bush's leadership standing as indicated in public opinion polls.

    Kerry aides have indicated that the Democratic campaign will ratchet up its attacks on Bush next week, contending the Republican incumbent is painting a too-positive picture of Iraq to cover faulty intelligence used to justify the invasion and an inadequate plan to deal with Iraqi insurgents.

    Posted by Eric at 07:34 PM | Comments (53)

    September 17, 2004

    Study: Tax Cheating $149B

    From the NY Times op-ed page:

    A new study showing that American multinational companies booked a record $149 billion of profits in tax-haven countries in 2002 is further evidence, if any were needed, that the corporate tax structure is much in need of repair.

    The research, done by a former Treasury Department economist and published in a journal that is the tax industry's bible, Tax Notes, looks at American subsidiaries that are located in countries with low or no corporate taxes, like Ireland, Bermuda, Luxembourg and Singapore. Some offshore entities are merely tax-reducing way stations. In other places, American companies have legitimate business operations, which are often coupled with aggressive tax-avoidance strategies.

    Posted by Eric at 01:53 PM | Comments (40)

    September 15, 2004

    College Less Affordable

    Finds a new study:

    The nation's colleges and universities are losing ground on affordability and access, according to a national report released yesterday by an independent nonprofit organization.

    The biennial report card by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education graded states in five areas, including college completion and affordability ... Most states flunked in affordability, with only California, Utah and Minnesota receiving grades higher than a D. California's grade slipped from an A to a B, which was the highest in the nation.
    So it's a good thing Bush is addressing this ... right?

    Posted by Eric at 09:02 AM | Comments (73)

    September 13, 2004

    Gun Buyers Excited About End of Law

    From the Miami Herald:

    "People are excited. They've been waiting for this for a long time, and we've been preparing," said Jodi DePorter, a spokeswoman for the Geneseo, Ill.-based gun maker.

    Unless Republican congressional leaders have a sudden change of heart, the assault weapons ban -- a centerpiece of the 1994 Crime Bill -- will expire tonight at midnight.

    The federal law applied to 19 semiautomatic weapons, which fire one round and automatically load each time the trigger is pulled. Automatic weapons, which remain illegal, are designed for military use and shoot without stopping.

    ArmaLite plans to ship newly outfitted assault rifles just hours later to customers who were so eager to get the .308 and .223 caliber semiautomatic rifles that they've pre-ordered them.

    Gun manufacturers are gearing up for a wave of business once the ban ends. They're offering promotional coupons online for extras such as free flash suppressors and boxes of high-capacity 15-round magazines.

    Joseph Vince, the former chief of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Crime Gun Analysis Branch, predicted that the end of the ban "will cause a frenzied buying spurt."

    Hence, why police officers don't like the end of the ban:
    Law enforcement -- which credits the ban with helping drive down the crime rate to record-low levels in the last decade -- says they will once again be outgunned by criminals.

    Several dozen police chiefs from around the country converged on Washington recently to lobby members of Congress to reauthorize the ban. They also sought a meeting with President Bush, who has said he would sign a bill if it landed on his desk, but were rebuffed, said Joe Polisar, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

    Police and other supporters of the ban accused Bush of not doing anything to temper Republican opposition in the House of Representatives.

    Posted by Eric at 04:49 PM | Comments (24)

    Americans Want Assault Weapons Ban

    From the Brady Campaign:

  • The New York Times/Wall Street Journal (November 2003): 78% support continuing ban on assault weapons
  • Americans for Gun Safety/Penn, Schoen, and Berland Associates (October 2003): 77% support renewing Assault Weapons Ban
  • Consumer Federation of America/Opinion Research Corporation
  • International (October 2003): 76% support renewing Assault Weapons Ban
  • Marttila Communications Group/Brady Campaign Survey (July 2003): 69% believe Assault Weapons Ban should be renewed or strengthened
  • CBS News/New York Times (May 2000): 67% favor ban on assault weapons
  • ABC News/Washington Post (May 200): 71% favor ban on assault weapons
  • ABC News/Washington Post (August-September 1999): 77% support ban on assault weapons
  • Newsweek Princeton Survey Research Associates (August 1999): 68% support ban on semi-automatic assault weapons
  • According to a battleground poll, the issue could be of use to Kerry:
    New polling in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania shows that voters oppose President Bush's failure to renew the federal assault weapon ban on AK47 type weapons and see this as an important test of leadership on homeland security. The assault weapon issue significantly alters the presidential race. When informed of President Bush's failure to renew the assault weapon's ban, a majority of voters move away from Bush in all three states. The assault weapon issue can be a strong campaign issue, to the benefit of Senator John Kerry who has strongly supported renewing the ban on assault weapons. The poll was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates.

    Posted by Eric at 04:38 PM | Comments (41)

    September 10, 2004

    The Faces of 1,000 Soldiers

    The Faces of 1,000 Soldiers.

    Posted by Eric at 02:48 AM | Comments (29)

    September 08, 2004

    Jimmy Carter's Letter to Zell Miller

    In the Atlanta J-C:

    Perhaps more troublesome of all is seeing you adopt an established and very effective Republican campaign technique of destroying the character of opponents by wild and false allegations. The Bush campaign's personal attacks on the character of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 was a vivid example. The claim that war hero Max Cleland was a disloyal American and an ally of Osama bin Laden should have given you pause, but you have joined in this ploy by your bizarre claims that another war hero, John Kerry, would not defend the security of our nation except with spitballs. (This is the same man whom you described previously as "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders --- and a good friend.")

    I, myself, served in the Navy from 1942 to 1953, and, as president, greatly strengthened our military forces and protected our nation and its interests in every way. I don't believe this warrants your referring to me as a pacifist.

    Zell, I have known you for 42 years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral pre-emptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.

    Posted by Eric at 10:51 AM | Comments (60)

    September 07, 2004

    "Corporate Profits Enjoying Unusually Large Gains, While Workers' Incomes Lag Behind"

    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    Posted by Eric at 02:11 AM | Comments (30)

    September 02, 2004

    More Halliburton Follies

    From the LA Times, a "Nigerian report on allegations of bribery by consortium accuses the firm of playing games with parliamentary investigators":

    A Nigerian parliamentary report on allegations that a consortium that includes Halliburton Co. made vast illegal payments to win multibillion-dollar deals accuses the company of playing "hide-and-seek games" with local investigators.

    The payments were reportedly made between 1995 and 2002, as the consortium, known as TSKJ, won three contracts worth a combined $7 billion to build a natural gas plant and related facilities.

    The report, which was released Wednesday, sharply criticizes Halliburton, the energy services firm, calling on Chief Executive Dave Lesar to come to Nigeria to "make necessary clarifications" before parliamentary investigators.

    It also recommends that Halliburton receive no further contracts in Nigeria until all international inquiries have been concluded. French authorities, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also have ongoing investigations.

    Posted by Eric at 12:12 PM | Comments (231)

    August 25, 2004

    Food Stamps on the Rise

    A new study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that "following years of decline, food stamp participation has been on the rise for nearly four years." The CBPP notes:

    Many states have had large increases in participation. Seasonal patterns can mask trends in food stamp participation since caseloads tend to rise in the winter months and fall in the summer. Participation has increased in 11 of the last 12 months, instead of declining during the summer months as would have been consistent with historical trends. The rise in food stamp caseloads in recent months may indicate a long-term upward trend in food stamp participation. Participation in May 2004 was at its highest level since November 1996. Between May 2003 and May 2004, food stamp participation increased in 48 states and the District of Columbia. In two states, food stamp participation increased by more than 20 percent. In 19 additional states, participation increased by more than 10 percent.

    This upward trend follows a long period of caseload decline. Between the peak in March 1994 and the low point in July 2000, food stamp participation fell by 11 million people, a 40 percent decline. In 62 of the 76 months between March 1994 and July 2000, participation declined. In contrast, participation has increased in 38 of the 46 months since July 2000.

    Posted by Eric at 06:34 AM | Comments (79)

    August 13, 2004

    More Taxes for Middle

    Thanks Buddy! WPost on a CBO study:

    Since 2001, President Bush's tax cuts have shifted federal tax payments from the richest Americans to a wide swath of middle-class families, the Congressional Budget Office has found, a conclusion likely to roil the presidential election campaign.

    The CBO study, due to be released today, found that the wealthiest 20 percent, whose incomes averaged $182,700 in 2001, saw their share of federal taxes drop from 64.4 percent of total tax payments in 2001 to 63.5 percent this year. The top 1 percent, earning $1.1 million, saw their share fall to 20.1 percent of the total, from 22.2 percent.

    Over that same period, taxpayers with incomes from around $51,500 to around $75,600 saw their share of federal tax payments increase. Households earning around $75,600 saw their tax burden jump the most, from 18.7 percent of all taxes to 19.5 percent.

    Oh, but is the CBO just some partisan hack group funded by Soros?
    The analysis, requested in May by congressional Democrats, echoes similar studies by think tanks and Democratic activist groups. But the conclusions have heightened significance because of their source, a nonpartisan government agency headed by a former senior economist from the Bush White House, Douglas Holtz-Eakin. The study will likely stoke an already burning debate about the fairness and efficacy of $1.7 trillion in tax cuts that the president pushed through Congress.

    Posted by Eric at 02:26 PM | Comments (18)

    More Taxes for Middle

    Thanks Buddy! WPost on a CBO study:

    Since 2001, President Bush's tax cuts have shifted federal tax payments from the richest Americans to a wide swath of middle-class families, the Congressional Budget Office has found, a conclusion likely to roil the presidential election campaign.

    The CBO study, due to be released today, found that the wealthiest 20 percent, whose incomes averaged $182,700 in 2001, saw their share of federal taxes drop from 64.4 percent of total tax payments in 2001 to 63.5 percent this year. The top 1 percent, earning $1.1 million, saw their share fall to 20.1 percent of the total, from 22.2 percent.

    Over that same period, taxpayers with incomes from around $51,500 to around $75,600 saw their share of federal tax payments increase. Households earning around $75,600 saw their tax burden jump the most, from 18.7 percent of all taxes to 19.5 percent.

    Oh, but is the CBO just some partisan hack group funded by Soros?
    The analysis, requested in May by congressional Democrats, echoes similar studies by think tanks and Democratic activist groups. But the conclusions have heightened significance because of their source, a nonpartisan government agency headed by a former senior economist from the Bush White House, Douglas Holtz-Eakin. The study will likely stoke an already burning debate about the fairness and efficacy of $1.7 trillion in tax cuts that the president pushed through Congress.

    Posted by Eric at 02:26 PM | Comments (1)

    August 11, 2004

    Biz As Usual

    On the new CIA head, from Altercation:

    As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Goss led a party-line vote to reject an amendment that would have authorized an investigation into "U.S. dealings with Iraqi exile leader Ahmed Chalabi." Even after allegations that Chalabi has leaked U.S. military secrets to Iran, Goss said, "I would say that the oversight has worked well in matters relating to Mr. Chalabi." (Congressional Quarterly, 6/17/04)

    Posted by Eric at 04:13 PM | Comments (24)

    Biz As Usual

    On the new CIA head, from Altercation:

    As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Goss led a party-line vote to reject an amendment that would have authorized an investigation into "U.S. dealings with Iraqi exile leader Ahmed Chalabi." Even after allegations that Chalabi has leaked U.S. military secrets to Iran, Goss said, "I would say that the oversight has worked well in matters relating to Mr. Chalabi." (Congressional Quarterly, 6/17/04)

    Posted by Eric at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

    Blacks More Likely to Receive Poor Health Care

    Finds a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine:

    Predominately black neighborhoods suffer from a shortage of qualified doctors, according to a new study by researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Center for Studying Health System Change, an organization seeking to improve healthcare by informing decision makers about changes in the health care system at both the local and national levels and the effects of such changes on people.

    The study found that doctors in predominately black neighborhoods were less likely to be board certified in a specialized area of medicine. These doctors are less likely to conduct regular disease screenings, researchers said. Doctors treating mostly black patients also reported problems referring patients to specialists or to hospitals for nonemergency care.

    The study, based on an analysis of more than 150,000 doctor visits by Medicare patients, also found that 28 percent of visits by black patients were to doctors who admitted they could not provide high-quality care, compared to 19 percent of visits by white patients.

    Researchers said discrimination, not by individual doctors but because poverty forces blacks to live in poor neighborhoods with fewer resources, could be causing the problem. In an editorial published with the report in the New England Journal of Medicine, Arnold Epstein of the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote, "In health care, integration is not complete, and separate is not equal."

    Posted by Eric at 04:02 PM | Comments (33)

    Blacks More Likely to Receive Poor Health Care

    Finds a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine:

    Predominately black neighborhoods suffer from a shortage of qualified doctors, according to a new study by researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Center for Studying Health System Change, an organization seeking to improve healthcare by informing decision makers about changes in the health care system at both the local and national levels and the effects of such changes on people.

    The study found that doctors in predominately black neighborhoods were less likely to be board certified in a specialized area of medicine. These doctors are less likely to conduct regular disease screenings, researchers said. Doctors treating mostly black patients also reported problems referring patients to specialists or to hospitals for nonemergency care.

    The study, based on an analysis of more than 150,000 doctor visits by Medicare patients, also found that 28 percent of visits by black patients were to doctors who admitted they could not provide high-quality care, compared to 19 percent of visits by white patients.

    Researchers said discrimination, not by individual doctors but because poverty forces blacks to live in poor neighborhoods with fewer resources, could be causing the problem. In an editorial published with the report in the New England Journal of Medicine, Arnold Epstein of the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote, "In health care, integration is not complete, and separate is not equal."

    Posted by Eric at 04:02 PM | Comments (8)

    Who are the Min Wage Earners?

    The Economic Policy Institute with some useful numbers in a new policy paper:

  • "A substantial portion (38%) of low-wage workers in March 2003 lived in families with incomes below 200% of the poverty line in 2002an income range (less than $29,000 for a family of three in 2002) in which people are often unable to afford basic necessities."

  • "For those above 200% of the poverty line, the earnings of low-wage workers are essential to their families' incomes and therefore their standard of living. In fact, 1.4 million families with incomes hovering above 200% of poverty would drop below that line if it weren't for the earnings of those families' low-wage workers. For such families, though not impoverished now, the minimum wage is important for keeping them in the middle class."

  • "In March 2003, about 13% of the workforce were low-wage workers (defined here as those earning between $5.15 and $7.99 an hour). Raising the minimum wage would likely have a direct or indirect effect on the earnings of many of these millions of workers."

  • "Not surprisingly, a significant share of low-wage workers had low family incomes in 2002.2 Nationally, 38% of workers who earned between $5.15 and $7.99 in March 2003 had low incomes in the previous calendar year (Figure 2A). (Low income is defined here as income below twice the poverty line, a commonly used measure for the level at which the costs of basic needs start to be provided for. As noted above, for a family of three this is less than $29,000 per year.) For these low-wage, low-income, workers:

    On average, their earnings contributed 68% of their total family income in 2002.

    Almost half (47%) were married or had children.

    Eighty-seven percent were 20 years of age or older."

    Posted by Eric at 07:36 AM | Comments (26)

    Who are the Min Wage Earners?

    The Economic Policy Institute with some useful numbers in a new policy paper:

  • "A substantial portion (38%) of low-wage workers in March 2003 lived in families with incomes below 200% of the poverty line in 2002an income range (less than $29,000 for a family of three in 2002) in which people are often unable to afford basic necessities."

  • "For those above 200% of the poverty line, the earnings of low-wage workers are essential to their families' incomes and therefore their standard of living. In fact, 1.4 million families with incomes hovering above 200% of poverty would drop below that line if it weren't for the earnings of those families' low-wage workers. For such families, though not impoverished now, the minimum wage is important for keeping them in the middle class."

  • "In March 2003, about 13% of the workforce were low-wage workers (defined here as those earning between $5.15 and $7.99 an hour). Raising the minimum wage would likely have a direct or indirect effect on the earnings of many of these millions of workers."

  • "Not surprisingly, a significant share of low-wage workers had low family incomes in 2002.2 Nationally, 38% of workers who earned between $5.15 and $7.99 in March 2003 had low incomes in the previous calendar year (Figure 2A). (Low income is defined here as income below twice the poverty line, a commonly used measure for the level at which the costs of basic needs start to be provided for. As noted above, for a family of three this is less than $29,000 per year.) For these low-wage, low-income, workers:

    On average, their earnings contributed 68% of their total family income in 2002.

    Almost half (47%) were married or had children.

    Eighty-seven percent were 20 years of age or older."

    Posted by Eric at 07:36 AM | Comments (2)

    August 10, 2004

    Whipper Snappers Think Draft Will Return

    According to a "telephone poll of 1,007 students in grades nine to 12" from the Horatio Alger Association:

    Among teenagers polled, 55 percent say young Americans will be required to serve in the military, up from 45 percent last year, according to ''The State of Our Nation's Youth," an annual survey by the Horatio Alger Association ... In the poll, respondents were asked their views of a mandatory military service requirement of two years, and 70 percent of students were opposed.
    Other findings of note:
    Still, more young people than not said the United States was right to go to war in Iraq. The poll found 44 percent said the decision was correct, 33 percent said it was wrong, and the rest had no opinion or were unsure.

    The students' outlook for the country was dimmer this year, but it remained relatively high, as 68 percent said they were hopeful. That was down from 75 percent last year.

    More than two-thirds of students said they care who wins the presidential race, but two-thirds also said they have not closely followed news reporting about the race.

    Posted by Eric at 12:01 PM | Comments (5)

    Whipper Snappers Think Draft Will Return

    According to a "telephone poll of 1,007 students in grades nine to 12" from the Horatio Alger Association:

    Among teenagers polled, 55 percent say young Americans will be required to serve in the military, up from 45 percent last year, according to ''The State of Our Nation's Youth," an annual survey by the Horatio Alger Association ... In the poll, respondents were asked their views of a mandatory military service requirement of two years, and 70 percent of students were opposed.
    Other findings of note:
    Still, more young people than not said the United States was right to go to war in Iraq. The poll found 44 percent said the decision was correct, 33 percent said it was wrong, and the rest had no opinion or were unsure.

    The students' outlook for the country was dimmer this year, but it remained relatively high, as 68 percent said they were hopeful. That was down from 75 percent last year.

    More than two-thirds of students said they care who wins the presidential race, but two-thirds also said they have not closely followed news reporting about the race.

    Posted by Eric at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

    August 02, 2004

    Budget Woes Take Toll on Kids

    From the CSMonitor:

    After years of little impact, budget woes are now taking a toll on kids' healthcare.

    The State Children's Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP, which provides coverage for children of working parents with lower incomes, has seen the first decrease in enrollment since it was enacted in 1997.

    Popular with both parties, SCHIP was one of the few state priorities to emerge unscathed in the face of multimillion-dollar, in some cases billion-dollar, deficits in state budgets, at least until now.

    A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the number of children enrolled in SCHIP dropped for the first time during the second half of 2003. Texas, New York, and Maryland were responsible for 99 percent of the decrease.

    Some of the children were moved to Medicaid, the health program for the poor. But others, like Kathy Smith's 3- and 11-year-old, were simply dropped off the rolls. Under a new eligibility formula that was designed to save Texas money, Ms. Smith's income as a third-grade teacher in a small town put her just a fraction over 200 percent of the poverty level.

    ... The current decline in the number of kids with coverage - although small compared with the millions of adults estimated to have lost health insurance in the past few years - indicates to people on both sides of the political divide that some kind of comprehensive healthcare reform is needed urgently.

    Posted by Eric at 09:35 PM | Comments (8)

    Budget Woes Take Toll on Kids

    From the CSMonitor:

    After years of little impact, budget woes are now taking a toll on kids' healthcare.

    The State Children's Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP, which provides coverage for children of working parents with lower incomes, has seen the first decrease in enrollment since it was enacted in 1997.

    Popular with both parties, SCHIP was one of the few state priorities to emerge unscathed in the face of multimillion-dollar, in some cases billion-dollar, deficits in state budgets, at least until now.

    A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the number of children enrolled in SCHIP dropped for the first time during the second half of 2003. Texas, New York, and Maryland were responsible for 99 percent of the decrease.

    Some of the children were moved to Medicaid, the health program for the poor. But others, like Kathy Smith's 3- and 11-year-old, were simply dropped off the rolls. Under a new eligibility formula that was designed to save Texas money, Ms. Smith's income as a third-grade teacher in a small town put her just a fraction over 200 percent of the poverty level.

    ... The current decline in the number of kids with coverage - although small compared with the millions of adults estimated to have lost health insurance in the past few years - indicates to people on both sides of the political divide that some kind of comprehensive healthcare reform is needed urgently.

    Posted by Eric at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

    Japanese-Americans Search for Cultural Identity

    From the NY Times:

    The number of Americans who identify themselves as Japanese declined to 796,700 in the 2000 census, from 847,562 in 1990, partly because of low immigration and birth rates. The wave of new immigrants from other parts of Asia, including China, South Korea and the Philippines, now dwarfs Japanese-Americans, who once made up the largest Asian group in the United States.

    The trends have left some Japanese-Americans feeling as if they are disappearing.

    Although Buddhist temples, sports leagues and families sustain the ethnicity, many longtime Japanese-American organizations and institutions are losing members or eroding. Only three Japantowns are left in California, where there had once been dozens.

    And "outmarriage,'' mostly to whites and other Asians, is diluting the ethnicity to the point that Larry Hajime Shinagawa, director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity at Ithaca College in New York, said most Japanese-Americans face only two directions - assimilating into "whiteness'' or adopting a "pan-Asian'' identity.

    Posted by Eric at 03:26 AM | Comments (23)

    Japanese-Americans Search for Cultural Identity

    From the NY Times:

    The number of Americans who identify themselves as Japanese declined to 796,700 in the 2000 census, from 847,562 in 1990, partly because of low immigration and birth rates. The wave of new immigrants from other parts of Asia, including China, South Korea and the Philippines, now dwarfs Japanese-Americans, who once made up the largest Asian group in the United States.

    The trends have left some Japanese-Americans feeling as if they are disappearing.

    Although Buddhist temples, sports leagues and families sustain the ethnicity, many longtime Japanese-American organizations and institutions are losing members or eroding. Only three Japantowns are left in California, where there had once been dozens.

    And "outmarriage,'' mostly to whites and other Asians, is diluting the ethnicity to the point that Larry Hajime Shinagawa, director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity at Ithaca College in New York, said most Japanese-Americans face only two directions - assimilating into "whiteness'' or adopting a "pan-Asian'' identity.

    Posted by Eric at 03:26 AM | Comments (2)

    July 19, 2004

    Bush Overtime Rules Would Hurt Workers

    According to a recently released report from EPI, the revised Bush overtime rules, published on April 23, 2004, has the potential to hurt workers. Background:

    On April 23, 2004 the Department of Labor (DOL) published regulatory changes that, if they are allowed to take effect, could strip away the right to overtime pay for over six million workers. The original version of these rules, proposed by the Bush Administration in March 2003, would have stripped overtime protection from eight million workers. In the face of widespread public opposition, the administration promised that its final version of the rules would correct this problem, a promise it has failed to keep.

    Under the current Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations, most workers are guaranteed the right to overtime pay, commonly known as time-and-a-half, for every hour worked beyond the normal 40-hour workweek. Three basic tests determine whether workers are exempt (i.e., ineligible for overtime pay) or non-exempt (i.e., eligible for overtime pay). The regulatory changes issued by the Bush Administration in April 2004 would make drastic changes to these tests, vastly increasing the number of exempt employees and making it likely that millions of them will work longer hours at reduced pay.

    Under current law, each of the following three tests must be met to classify an employee as exempt and therefore ineligible for overtime. First, the salary-level test stipulates that employees earning less than a certain level each week cannot be exempt. Second, the salary-basis test states that employees must be paid a set salarynot an hourly wagein order to be exempt. Finally, the third screening test is the duties test, which states that a worker cannot be denied overtime pay unless his or her duties are primarily administrative, professional, or executive in nature.

    On to the new rules:
    The new regulations would raise the salary level under which all employees are protected to $455 per week (i.e., any employee making under $455 would be eligible for overtime benefits). Under current law that level is set at $155 ($170 for professionals), a pay rate that has remained unchanged since 1975. A salary of $455 per week equals an annual salary of just $23,660, about $5,000 a year above the poverty level for a family of four. And because the exemption level is not indexed for inflation, it will protect fewer and fewer workers over time. Initially, about 400,000 employees who work overtime will now be paid for it.

    The many other rules changesprincipally those amending the three key duties testswould dramatically increase the number of workers who would be classified as professional, administrative, or executive and thus remove millions of additional workers from overtime coverage.

    Changes in the primary duty test and the redefinition of executive will allow employers to deny overtime pay to workers who do very little supervision and a great deal of manual or routine work, including employees in factories and industrial plants. Employees who can only recommendbut not carry outthe change of status of the two employees that they supervise will be exempted as executives even if they manage nothing more substantial than a team or grouping of employees. In all, 1.4 million low-level, salaried supervisors will lose their overtime rights, along with 548,000 hourly supervisors, who could be switched to being paid on a salary basis and thus denied overtime protection.

    Posted by Eric at 06:34 AM | Comments (33)

    Bush Overtime Rules Would Hurt Workers

    According to a recently released report from EPI, the revised Bush overtime rules, published on April 23, 2004, has the potential to hurt workers. Background:

    On April 23, 2004 the Department of Labor (DOL) published regulatory changes that, if they are allowed to take effect, could strip away the right to overtime pay for over six million workers. The original version of these rules, proposed by the Bush Administration in March 2003, would have stripped overtime protection from eight million workers. In the face of widespread public opposition, the administration promised that its final version of the rules would correct this problem, a promise it has failed to keep.

    Under the current Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations, most workers are guaranteed the right to overtime pay, commonly known as time-and-a-half, for every hour worked beyond the normal 40-hour workweek. Three basic tests determine whether workers are exempt (i.e., ineligible for overtime pay) or non-exempt (i.e., eligible for overtime pay). The regulatory changes issued by the Bush Administration in April 2004 would make drastic changes to these tests, vastly increasing the number of exempt employees and making it likely that millions of them will work longer hours at reduced pay.

    Under current law, each of the following three tests must be met to classify an employee as exempt and therefore ineligible for overtime. First, the salary-level test stipulates that employees earning less than a certain level each week cannot be exempt. Second, the salary-basis test states that employees must be paid a set salarynot an hourly wagein order to be exempt. Finally, the third screening test is the duties test, which states that a worker cannot be denied overtime pay unless his or her duties are primarily administrative, professional, or executive in nature.

    On to the new rules:
    The new regulations would raise the salary level under which all employees are protected to $455 per week (i.e., any employee making under $455 would be eligible for overtime benefits). Under current law that level is set at $155 ($170 for professionals), a pay rate that has remained unchanged since 1975. A salary of $455 per week equals an annual salary of just $23,660, about $5,000 a year above the poverty level for a family of four. And because the exemption level is not indexed for inflation, it will protect fewer and fewer workers over time. Initially, about 400,000 employees who work overtime will now be paid for it.

    The many other rules changesprincipally those amending the three key duties testswould dramatically increase the number of workers who would be classified as professional, administrative, or executive and thus remove millions of additional workers from overtime coverage.

    Changes in the primary duty test and the redefinition of executive will allow employers to deny overtime pay to workers who do very little supervision and a great deal of manual or routine work, including employees in factories and industrial plants. Employees who can only recommendbut not carry outthe change of status of the two employees that they supervise will be exempted as executives even if they manage nothing more substantial than a team or grouping of employees. In all, 1.4 million low-level, salaried supervisors will lose their overtime rights, along with 548,000 hourly supervisors, who could be switched to being paid on a salary basis and thus denied overtime protection.

    Posted by Eric at 06:34 AM | Comments (1)

    July 18, 2004

    Why Fight and Lose FEMA?

    Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America," with his take on why conservatives would fight a battle they knew they would lose:

    Failure on the cultural front serves to magnify the outrage felt by conservative true believers; it mobilizes the base. Failure sharpens the distinctions between conservatives and liberals. Failure allows for endless grandstanding without any real-world consequences that might upset more moderate Republicans or the party's all-important corporate wing. You might even say that grand and garish defeat especially if accompanied by the ridicule of the sophisticated is the culture warrior's very object.

    The issue is all-important; the issue is incapable of being won. Only when the battle is defined this way can it achieve the desired results, have its magical polarizing effect. Only with a proposed constitutional amendment could the legalistic, cavilling Democrats be counted on to vote "no," and only with an offensive so blunt and so sweeping could the universal hostility of the press be secured.

    Losing is prima facie evidence that the basic conservative claim is true: that the country is run by liberals; that the world is unfair; that the majority is persecuted by a sinister elite. And that therefore you, my red-state friend, had better get out there and vote as if your civilization depended on it.

    Posted by Eric at 06:25 PM | Comments (18)

    Why Fight and Lose FEMA?

    Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America," with his take on why conservatives would fight a battle they knew they would lose:

    Failure on the cultural front serves to magnify the outrage felt by conservative true believers; it mobilizes the base. Failure sharpens the distinctions between conservatives and liberals. Failure allows for endless grandstanding without any real-world consequences that might upset more moderate Republicans or the party's all-important corporate wing. You might even say that grand and garish defeat especially if accompanied by the ridicule of the sophisticated is the culture warrior's very object.

    The issue is all-important; the issue is incapable of being won. Only when the battle is defined this way can it achieve the desired results, have its magical polarizing effect. Only with a proposed constitutional amendment could the legalistic, cavilling Democrats be counted on to vote "no," and only with an offensive so blunt and so sweeping could the universal hostility of the press be secured.

    Losing is prima facie evidence that the basic conservative claim is true: that the country is run by liberals; that the world is unfair; that the majority is persecuted by a sinister elite. And that therefore you, my red-state friend, had better get out there and vote as if your civilization depended on it.

    Posted by Eric at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

    July 14, 2004

    Bush Broken Promise on Assault Weapons?

    From the Children's Defense Fund:

    With only two months left, the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) today urged the Bush Administration and Congress not to let the 10-year-old federal Assault Weapons Ban expire on September 13, 2004. In spite of broad and bipartisan support for its extension, a leadership vacuum has brought our country to the brink of allowing assault weapons again to be sold and used throughout America.

    President Bush claims to support the ban and has said, "It makes no sense for assault weapons to be around our society."

    However:
    But according to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), the President still has not even asked the House to take up the ban. With the leadership of Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and John Warner (R-VA), the U.S. Senate approved a renewal of the ban in March of this year as an amendment to a bill that was later killed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). With thirteen legislative days left before it dies, the Assault Weapons Ban is politically stalled in the White House and on Capitol Hill.

    Posted by Eric at 06:46 PM | Comments (19)

    Bush Broken Promise on Assault Weapons?

    From the Children's Defense Fund:

    With only two months left, the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) today urged the Bush Administration and Congress not to let the 10-year-old federal Assault Weapons Ban expire on September 13, 2004. In spite of broad and bipartisan support for its extension, a leadership vacuum has brought our country to the brink of allowing assault weapons again to be sold and used throughout America.

    President Bush claims to support the ban and has said, "It makes no sense for assault weapons to be around our society."

    However:
    But according to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), the President still has not even asked the House to take up the ban. With the leadership of Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and John Warner (R-VA), the U.S. Senate approved a renewal of the ban in March of this year as an amendment to a bill that was later killed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). With thirteen legislative days left before it dies, the Assault Weapons Ban is politically stalled in the White House and on Capitol Hill.

    Posted by Eric at 06:46 PM | Comments (1)

    June 29, 2004

    Jobs Up, Real Wages Down

    According to the Economic Policy Institute, while jobs are going up, the real wage pay of those jobs are going down.

    Wage trends turn slowly, and the figure shows that throughout the recession and jobless recovery, real wages grew fairly steadily, peaking in July of last year. Yet, since last November, real wages have fallen in all but one month and are down 1% in real terms for the period between November 2003 and May 2004 (the most recent data point). In fact, the May 2004 wage level of $15.64 was the lowest since May 2002.

    Why have wages fallen behind inflation over the past six months? This question is particularly germane since employment growth has been far better over this period than at any time since the recession began in March 2001, up 1.2 million jobs since last November.

    The main reason for poor wage growth is the lingering effect of the longest jobless recovery on record, which has left considerable slack in the labor market. Even though nominal wage growth has sped up a bit over the past two monthsgrowing at an annual rate of 2.2% in April and May compared to an average of 1.7% over the prior two monthswage growth has clearly been reduced to a low rate because of years of job losses and high unemployment. In 2001, the average annual rate of nominal hourly wage growth was 3.8%; over the past 12 months, growth slowed to 2.2%. Thus, while the recent rise in inflation is partly to blame for the downward trend shown toward the end of the figure, the major culprit is slow nominal wage growth caused by persistent labor slack.

    Posted by Eric at 01:04 AM | Comments (25)

    Jobs Up, Real Wages Down

    According to the Economic Policy Institute, while jobs are going up, the real wage pay of those jobs are going down.

    Wage trends turn slowly, and the figure shows that throughout the recession and jobless recovery, real wages grew fairly steadily, peaking in July of last year. Yet, since last November, real wages have fallen in all but one month and are down 1% in real terms for the period between November 2003 and May 2004 (the most recent data point). In fact, the May 2004 wage level of $15.64 was the lowest since May 2002.

    Why have wages fallen behind inflation over the past six months? This question is particularly germane since employment growth has been far better over this period than at any time since the recession began in March 2001, up 1.2 million jobs since last November.

    The main reason for poor wage growth is the lingering effect of the longest jobless recovery on record, which has left considerable slack in the labor market. Even though nominal wage growth has sped up a bit over the past two monthsgrowing at an annual rate of 2.2% in April and May compared to an average of 1.7% over the prior two monthswage growth has clearly been reduced to a low rate because of years of job losses and high unemployment. In 2001, the average annual rate of nominal hourly wage growth was 3.8%; over the past 12 months, growth slowed to 2.2%. Thus, while the recent rise in inflation is partly to blame for the downward trend shown toward the end of the figure, the major culprit is slow nominal wage growth caused by persistent labor slack.

    Posted by Eric at 01:04 AM | Comments (0)

    June 25, 2004

    Poll: Iraq War a Mistake

    "Most Americans now say that sending U.S. troops to Iraq was a mistake." Those bastards. USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll finds:

    It is the first time since Vietnam that a majority of Americans has called a major deployment of U.S. forces a mistake. When the war in Iraq began last year, the public by three-to-one said sending troops wasn't a mistake. Just three weeks ago, 58% still held that view.

    Now, 54% say it was a mistake.

    Souring attitudes toward the war could present challenges to President Bush, who plans to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq even after the hand-over of power. While he has linked the war to the fight against terror, 55% of those polled now say that the war has increased U.S. vulnerability to terrorism.

    The however: "Among likely voters nationwide, Bush leads Kerry 48% to 47%, with independent candidate Ralph Nader at 3%. Three weeks ago, Kerry led 49% to 43%."

    Posted by Eric at 03:54 AM | Comments (40)

    Poll: Iraq War a Mistake

    "Most Americans now say that sending U.S. troops to Iraq was a mistake." Those bastards. USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll finds:

    It is the first time since Vietnam that a majority of Americans has called a major deployment of U.S. forces a mistake. When the war in Iraq began last year, the public by three-to-one said sending troops wasn't a mistake. Just three weeks ago, 58% still held that view.

    Now, 54% say it was a mistake.

    Souring attitudes toward the war could present challenges to President Bush, who plans to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq even after the hand-over of power. While he has linked the war to the fight against terror, 55% of those polled now say that the war has increased U.S. vulnerability to terrorism.

    The however: "Among likely voters nationwide, Bush leads Kerry 48% to 47%, with independent candidate Ralph Nader at 3%. Three weeks ago, Kerry led 49% to 43%."

    Posted by Eric at 03:54 AM | Comments (4)

    June 24, 2004

    Halliburton Copes with Fallout

    From the Financial Times:

    Halliburton is facing half a dozen official investigations into its conduct around the world, including allegations that it routinely overcharged the US government for services in Iraq. However, the Nigerian bribery case is the only one that includes a period when Mr Cheney was at the helm of the company.

    US regulators and law enforcement officials are acutely aware of the political sensitivity of this case and have held several high-level meetings to determine how to proceed, people close to the investigation say.

    The case seems doubly sensitive as it has been unearthed by a French investigating magistrate, Judge Renaud van Ruymbeke. He has been examining whether $180m (?149m, 99m) in commissions paid by the TSKJ consortium to its agent, Tri-Star, was used as bribes to win contracts worth billions of dollars to build a liquefied natural gas complex off the coast of Nigeria.

    Meanwhile, Halliburton is shafting a former employee for funeral costs:
    "We have no information. All we know is he's dead," Richard Zbryski said. "We have no information where or when or how or why he was killed, just that we have to bury him. The body was autopsied and was six days in a coffin but not embalmed. We don't know what condition the body is in."

    "They sent us grief counselors, but nobody has any information of his final payment," Richard Zbryski said, referring to the $100,000 in life insurance benefits the family is owed. "According to the benefits, he was supposed to get $50,000. ... We were told Halliburton would cover the burial expenses, then we're told it has to come out of the $50,000. This is how Halliburton is treating their people they send over there to die."

    He said he was told that the family would get an additional $50,000 in benefits, but not a penny has come in.

    Posted by Eric at 12:57 AM | Comments (32)

    Halliburton Copes with Fallout

    From the Financial Times:

    Halliburton is facing half a dozen official investigations into its conduct around the world, including allegations that it routinely overcharged the US government for services in Iraq. However, the Nigerian bribery case is the only one that includes a period when Mr Cheney was at the helm of the company.

    US regulators and law enforcement officials are acutely aware of the political sensitivity of this case and have held several high-level meetings to determine how to proceed, people close to the investigation say.

    The case seems doubly sensitive as it has been unearthed by a French investigating magistrate, Judge Renaud van Ruymbeke. He has been examining whether $180m (?149m, 99m) in commissions paid by the TSKJ consortium to its agent, Tri-Star, was used as bribes to win contracts worth billions of dollars to build a liquefied natural gas complex off the coast of Nigeria.

    Meanwhile, Halliburton is shafting a former employee for funeral costs:
    "We have no information. All we know is he's dead," Richard Zbryski said. "We have no information where or when or how or why he was killed, just that we have to bury him. The body was autopsied and was six days in a coffin but not embalmed. We don't know what condition the body is in."

    "They sent us grief counselors, but nobody has any information of his final payment," Richard Zbryski said, referring to the $100,000 in life insurance benefits the family is owed. "According to the benefits, he was supposed to get $50,000. ... We were told Halliburton would cover the burial expenses, then we're told it has to come out of the $50,000. This is how Halliburton is treating their people they send over there to die."

    He said he was told that the family would get an additional $50,000 in benefits, but not a penny has come in.

    Posted by Eric at 12:57 AM | Comments (3)

    June 22, 2004

    Single Mothers Suffer Under Bush

    A new report from EPI finds "that during the last few years of labor market weakness, the proportion of single mothers who are employed has fallen."

    The employment rate among single mothers fell from 73.0 percent in 2000 to 69.8 percent in 2003 a larger decline than among other parents or the population overall.

    Despite this recent decline, the employment rate among single mothers remains considerably higher than it was in the mid-1990s. Between 1995 and 2000, single mothers employment rates increased for several reasons, including a booming economy, expanded assistance for working families, and a variety of welfare-to-work policies. About one-fourth of these employment gains were lost between 2000 and 2003.

    The employment losses have not triggered a nationwide increase in the number of families receiving TANF cash assistance, raising questions about whether the safety net has become less responsive to the needs of parents who lose their jobs. In fact, recent data show that among families poor enough to qualify for TANF cash assistance families typically well below the poverty line the proportion who actually receives TANF has fallen dramatically since the mid-1990s and continued to fall in the recession year of 2001.

    Posted by Eric at 06:02 PM | Comments (2)

    Single Mothers Suffer Under Bush

    A new report from EPI finds "that during the last few years of labor market weakness, the proportion of single mothers who are employed has fallen."

    The employment rate among single mothers fell from 73.0 percent in 2000 to 69.8 percent in 2003 a larger decline than among other parents or the population overall.

    Despite this recent decline, the employment rate among single mothers remains considerably higher than it was in the mid-1990s. Between 1995 and 2000, single mothers employment rates increased for several reasons, including a booming economy, expanded assistance for working families, and a variety of welfare-to-work policies. About one-fourth of these employment gains were lost between 2000 and 2003.

    The employment losses have not triggered a nationwide increase in the number of families receiving TANF cash assistance, raising questions about whether the safety net has become less responsive to the needs of parents who lose their jobs. In fact, recent data show that among families poor enough to qualify for TANF cash assistance families typically well below the poverty line the proportion who actually receives TANF has fallen dramatically since the mid-1990s and continued to fall in the recession year of 2001.

    Posted by Eric at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

    June 21, 2004

    Getting War Priorities Straight

    Getting out those not straight:

    Even with concerns growing about waning numbers of military troops, 770 people were discharged for homosexuality last year under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a study to be released today shows.

    The figure, however, is significantly lower than the record 1,227 discharges in 2001 just before the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Since "don't ask, don't tell" was adopted in 1994, nearly 10,000 military personnel have been discharged including linguists, nuclear warfare experts and other key specialists ... The study, which analyzed military discharges between 1998 and 2003, found that the majority of those let go under "don't ask, don't tell" were active-duty enlisted personnel in the early stages of their careers.

    Of the nearly 6,300 people discharged during that period, 75 were officers. Seventy-one percent were men.

    Such as this guy:
    Brian Muller, an Army bomb squad team leader who served on a security detail for President Bush, said he was dismissed from duty after deciding to tell his commander he's gay.
    "I didn't do it to get out of a war I already served in a war," Muller, 25, said in an interview. "After putting my life on the line in the war, the idea that I was fighting for the freedoms of so many other people that I couldn't myself enjoy was almost unbearable."

    Posted by Eric at 05:54 AM | Comments (14)

    Getting War Priorities Straight

    Getting out those not straight:

    Even with concerns growing about waning numbers of military troops, 770 people were discharged for homosexuality last year under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a study to be released today shows.

    The figure, however, is significantly lower than the record 1,227 discharges in 2001 just before the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Since "don't ask, don't tell" was adopted in 1994, nearly 10,000 military personnel have been discharged including linguists, nuclear warfare experts and other key specialists ... The study, which analyzed military discharges between 1998 and 2003, found that the majority of those let go under "don't ask, don't tell" were active-duty enlisted personnel in the early stages of their careers.

    Of the nearly 6,300 people discharged during that period, 75 were officers. Seventy-one percent were men.

    Such as this guy:
    Brian Muller, an Army bomb squad team leader who served on a security detail for President Bush, said he was dismissed from duty after deciding to tell his commander he's gay.
    "I didn't do it to get out of a war I already served in a war," Muller, 25, said in an interview. "After putting my life on the line in the war, the idea that I was fighting for the freedoms of so many other people that I couldn't myself enjoy was almost unbearable."

    Posted by Eric at 05:54 AM | Comments (1)

    June 18, 2004

    Report: 1 in 3 Non-Elderly Uninsured During 2002-2003

    According to a new report from Families USA, a nonprofit and nonpartisan healthcare advocacy group. The main findings:

    Approximately 81.8 million Americans -- one out of three people under 65 years of age -- were uninsured at some point of time during 2002-2003, according to a report released today by the health consumer organization Families USA.

    The report, based mainly on Census Bureau data, showed that most of these uninsured individuals lacked coverage for lengthy periods of time: Almost two-thirds (65.3 percent) were uninsured for six months or more; and over half (50.6 percent) were uninsured for at least nine months.

    In 14 states, more than one out of three non-elderly people went without health insurance for all or part of 2002-2003. Texas had the highest rate with 43.4 percent of the non-elderly population uninsured. The other 13 states are: New Mexico (42.4%); California (37.1%); Nevada (36.8%); Louisiana (36.2%); Arizona (35.7%); Mississippi (35.1%); Oklahoma (35.0%); Alaska (35.0%); Florida (34.6%); Arkansas (34.4%); Idaho (33.8%); North Carolina (33.7%); and New York (33.4%) ...

    Four out of five of the uninsured were in working families, according to the report. Of those working families, the report found that significant portions of the middle class were uninsured. For example, among people with incomes between 300 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (between $55,980 and $74,640 in annual income for a family of four in 2003), more than one out of four were uninsured over the past two years.

    Posted by Eric at 03:26 AM | Comments (45)

    Report: 1 in 3 Non-Elderly Uninsured During 2002-2003

    According to a new report from Families USA, a nonprofit and nonpartisan healthcare advocacy group. The main findings:

    Approximately 81.8 million Americans -- one out of three people under 65 years of age -- were uninsured at some point of time during 2002-2003, according to a report released today by the health consumer organization Families USA.

    The report, based mainly on Census Bureau data, showed that most of these uninsured individuals lacked coverage for lengthy periods of time: Almost two-thirds (65.3 percent) were uninsured for six months or more; and over half (50.6 percent) were uninsured for at least nine months.

    In 14 states, more than one out of three non-elderly people went without health insurance for all or part of 2002-2003. Texas had the highest rate with 43.4 percent of the non-elderly population uninsured. The other 13 states are: New Mexico (42.4%); California (37.1%); Nevada (36.8%); Louisiana (36.2%); Arizona (35.7%); Mississippi (35.1%); Oklahoma (35.0%); Alaska (35.0%); Florida (34.6%); Arkansas (34.4%); Idaho (33.8%); North Carolina (33.7%); and New York (33.4%) ...

    Four out of five of the uninsured were in working families, according to the report. Of those working families, the report found that significant portions of the middle class were uninsured. For example, among people with incomes between 300 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (between $55,980 and $74,640 in annual income for a family of four in 2003), more than one out of four were uninsured over the past two years.

    Posted by Eric at 03:26 AM | Comments (0)

    Report: U.S. Has 'Secret' Detention Centers

    More chances to win the hearts and minds of the international community? Reuters:

    Human Rights First, formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, said in a report that secrecy surrounding these facilities made "inappropriate detention and abuse not only likely but inevitable."

    "The abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib cannot be addressed in isolation," said Deborah Pearlstein, director of the group's U.S. Law and Security program, referring to the U.S. Naval base prison in Cuba and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where abuses are being investigated.

    "This is all about secrecy, accountability and the law," Pearlstein told a news conference.

    The report coincided with news that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered military officials to hold a suspect in a prison near Baghdad without telling the Red Cross. Pearlstein said this would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions and Defense Department directives.

    She said thousands of security detainees were being held by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as locations elsewhere which the military refused to disclose.

    Posted by Eric at 01:04 AM | Comments (9)

    Report: U.S. Has 'Secret' Detention Centers

    More chances to win the hearts and minds of the international community? Reuters:

    Human Rights First, formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, said in a report that secrecy surrounding these facilities made "inappropriate detention and abuse not only likely but inevitable."

    "The abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib cannot be addressed in isolation," said Deborah Pearlstein, director of the group's U.S. Law and Security program, referring to the U.S. Naval base prison in Cuba and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where abuses are being investigated.

    "This is all about secrecy, accountability and the law," Pearlstein told a news conference.

    The report coincided with news that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered military officials to hold a suspect in a prison near Baghdad without telling the Red Cross. Pearlstein said this would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions and Defense Department directives.

    She said thousands of security detainees were being held by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as locations elsewhere which the military refused to disclose.

    Posted by Eric at 01:04 AM | Comments (2)

    June 17, 2004

    Poll: 95 percent of African Americans Feel Country Headed in Wrong Direction

    According to poll commissioned by Mother Jones.

    Ordinarily, as a challenger, your first job would be to get the voters inflamed about the way they've fared under the incumbent. According to the Mother Jones poll, you can dispense with this step. The voters are plenty angry. Sixty-two percent of Americans feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Among single Americans, that number is 73 percent. And among African-Americans, it's an astonishing 95 percent.

    Indeed, the poll shows the country edging past anger into rage, or benumbed hopelessness. Sixty-four percent of Americans see the country as more divided than ever before, and only 18 percent expect that divide to lessen in the years ahead. Among those few optimists, the largest bloc think things have got to get better because there's no way they could get any worse!

    Posted by Eric at 04:40 AM | Comments (3)

    Poll: 95 percent of African Americans Feel Country Headed in Wrong Direction

    According to poll commissioned by Mother Jones.

    Ordinarily, as a challenger, your first job would be to get the voters inflamed about the way they've fared under the incumbent. According to the Mother Jones poll, you can dispense with this step. The voters are plenty angry. Sixty-two percent of Americans feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Among single Americans, that number is 73 percent. And among African-Americans, it's an astonishing 95 percent.

    Indeed, the poll shows the country edging past anger into rage, or benumbed hopelessness. Sixty-four percent of Americans see the country as more divided than ever before, and only 18 percent expect that divide to lessen in the years ahead. Among those few optimists, the largest bloc think things have got to get better because there's no way they could get any worse!

    Posted by Eric at 04:40 AM | Comments (1)

    Poll: Majority Want Stricter Gun Control

    However, gun control "is not likely to be much of an issue" in the 2004 elections. From a Harris poll:

    * A modest 52% majority favors stricter gun control, with 22% wanting
    less strict control and 20% wanting no change.

    * A slightly larger 57% majority favors stricter laws relating to the
    control of handguns, with 18% favoring less strict laws and 19% wanting
    no change.

    * By 29% to 25% a modest plurality thinks President George Bush would be
    better on the gun control issue than Senator John Kerry, but 22% see no
    difference, and 24% are not sure.

    * Small and equal proportions (23%) prefer a Republican-controlled and a
    Democratically-controlled Congress on the gun control issue. Most
    people see no difference (31%) or are not sure (24%).

    Posted by Eric at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

    Poll: Majority Want Stricter Gun Control

    However, gun control "is not likely to be much of an issue" in the 2004 elections. From a Harris poll:

    * A modest 52% majority favors stricter gun control, with 22% wanting
    less strict control and 20% wanting no change.

    * A slightly larger 57% majority favors stricter laws relating to the
    control of handguns, with 18% favoring less strict laws and 19% wanting
    no change.

    * By 29% to 25% a modest plurality thinks President George Bush would be
    better on the gun control issue than Senator John Kerry, but 22% see no
    difference, and 24% are not sure.

    * Small and equal proportions (23%) prefer a Republican-controlled and a
    Democratically-controlled Congress on the gun control issue. Most
    people see no difference (31%) or are not sure (24%).

    Posted by Eric at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

    June 10, 2004

    Graduates Greeted with Poor Jobs

    From EPI:

    As high school graduations take place around the country, it is timely to examine how young high school graduates are faring in the job market. From 1979 to 2003, the inflation-adjusted hourly wages earned by recent high school graduates (one to five years past graduation) have fallen by 17.4% among men and by 4.9% among women. Thus, the quality of jobs available to recent high school graduates has deteriorated remarkably over the last few decades.

    A further indication of the erosion of quality work opportunities for new high school graduates is the dramatic decline in the share of jobs for which employers provide health insurance or pensions (see figure). Employer-provided health insurance among recent high school graduates in their "entry-level jobs" fell from 63.3% in 1979 to roughly half that many, 34.7%, in 2002 (the latest data). Pension coverage fell over this period as well, from the low level of 36.0% in 1979 to an even lower 20.1% in 2002.

    Posted by Eric at 05:05 PM | Comments (16)

    Graduates Greeted with Poor Jobs

    From EPI:

    As high school graduations take place around the country, it is timely to examine how young high school graduates are faring in the job market. From 1979 to 2003, the inflation-adjusted hourly wages earned by recent high school graduates (one to five years past graduation) have fallen by 17.4% among men and by 4.9% among women. Thus, the quality of jobs available to recent high school graduates has deteriorated remarkably over the last few decades.

    A further indication of the erosion of quality work opportunities for new high school graduates is the dramatic decline in the share of jobs for which employers provide health insurance or pensions (see figure). Employer-provided health insurance among recent high school graduates in their "entry-level jobs" fell from 63.3% in 1979 to roughly half that many, 34.7%, in 2002 (the latest data). Pension coverage fell over this period as well, from the low level of 36.0% in 1979 to an even lower 20.1% in 2002.

    Posted by Eric at 05:05 PM | Comments (1)

    Pentagon Wastes $100m on Unused Plane Tickets

    Not like anyone flies on airplanes anymore, anyway:

    Defense Department spent an estimated $100 million for airline tickets that were not used over a six-year period and failed to seek refunds even though the tickets were reimbursable, congressional investigators say.

    The department compounded the problem by reimbursing employee claims for tickets bought by the Pentagon, the investigators said.

    To demonstrate how easy it was to have the Pentagon pay for airline travel, the investigators posed as Defense employees, had the department generate a ticket and showed up at the ticket counter to pick up a boarding pass.

    Congress' General Accounting Office issued the findings in two reports on the Pentagon's lack of control over airline travel, copies of which The Associated Press obtained Tuesday. A prior report, issued last November, found that the Pentagon bought 68,000 first-class or business-class airline seats for employees who should have flown coach.

    Posted by Eric at 01:52 PM | Comments (21)

    Pentagon Wastes $100m on Unused Plane Tickets

    Not like anyone flies on airplanes anymore, anyway:

    Defense Department spent an estimated $100 million for airline tickets that were not used over a six-year period and failed to seek refunds even though the tickets were reimbursable, congressional investigators say.

    The department compounded the problem by reimbursing employee claims for tickets bought by the Pentagon, the investigators said.

    To demonstrate how easy it was to have the Pentagon pay for airline travel, the investigators posed as Defense employees, had the department generate a ticket and showed up at the ticket counter to pick up a boarding pass.

    Congress' General Accounting Office issued the findings in two reports on the Pentagon's lack of control over airline travel, copies of which The Associated Press obtained Tuesday. A prior report, issued last November, found that the Pentagon bought 68,000 first-class or business-class airline seats for employees who should have flown coach.

    Posted by Eric at 01:52 PM | Comments (2)

    June 04, 2004

    Majority Oppose Church in Politics

    E.g. denying communion for political reasons, finds WP/ABC poll:

    Most Americans say religious leaders should not try to influence politicians' positions on the issues, and abortion is no exception: Nearly seven in 10 including most Catholics oppose denying Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion.

    Sixty-eight percent of Americans oppose denying communion to such politicians; that includes 72 percent of all Catholics and a similar number of churchgoing Catholics. Even among Americans who oppose legal abortion, 57 percent reject the idea of denying communion to Catholic politicians who hold the opposite view.

    These sentiments fit with broader public views: Nearly-two thirds of Americans say religious leaders in general should not attempt to influence politicians' positions on the issues. Again Catholics mirror the overall population 65 percent share this view although there are broad differences among other population groups.

    Posted by Eric at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

    Majority Oppose Church in Politics

    E.g. denying communion for political reasons, finds WP/ABC poll:

    Most Americans say religious leaders should not try to influence politicians' positions on the issues, and abortion is no exception: Nearly seven in 10 including most Catholics oppose denying Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion.

    Sixty-eight percent of Americans oppose denying communion to such politicians; that includes 72 percent of all Catholics and a similar number of churchgoing Catholics. Even among Americans who oppose legal abortion, 57 percent reject the idea of denying communion to Catholic politicians who hold the opposite view.

    These sentiments fit with broader public views: Nearly-two thirds of Americans say religious leaders in general should not attempt to influence politicians' positions on the issues. Again Catholics mirror the overall population 65 percent share this view although there are broad differences among other population groups.

    Posted by Eric at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

    June 02, 2004

    Bush Seeking Outside Counsel

    re: The Wilson - Plame CIA leak. CBS News with the story:

    So far, no one is suggesting that President Bush had anything to do with the leak or even knew about it until it became public. But the fact that he has retained outside counsel in the event the grand jury comes calling has elevated this investigation to the highest levels.

    It makes sense, says CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen, especially if the President has reason to believe that he'll be interviewed as part of the investigation, whether that interview is under oath or not. It doesn't mean he is the target or the focus of the investigation.

    The question now, says Cohen, is whether there was some event or development in the investigation that prompted the President, now, to put out feelers like this to the legal community. This investigation, remember, has been going on for months.

    Talking Points Memo asks the next logical question: "From everything we know about this case, the probable connections would far more likely be to the vice-president rather than the president. So someone should ask whether Vice President Cheney has lawyered up too."

    Posted by Eric at 10:18 PM | Comments (38)

    Bush Seeking Outside Counsel

    re: The Wilson - Plame CIA leak. CBS News with the story:

    So far, no one is suggesting that President Bush had anything to do with the leak or even knew about it until it became public. But the fact that he has retained outside counsel in the event the grand jury comes calling has elevated this investigation to the highest levels.

    It makes sense, says CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen, especially if the President has reason to believe that he'll be interviewed as part of the investigation, whether that interview is under oath or not. It doesn't mean he is the target or the focus of the investigation.

    The question now, says Cohen, is whether there was some event or development in the investigation that prompted the President, now, to put out feelers like this to the legal community. This investigation, remember, has been going on for months.

    Talking Points Memo asks the next logical question: "From everything we know about this case, the probable connections would far more likely be to the vice-president rather than the president. So someone should ask whether Vice President Cheney has lawyered up too."

    Posted by Eric at 10:18 PM | Comments (7)

    Study: Wal-Mart Has Received Over $1Billion in Gov Subsidies

    According to a new study from Good Jobs First, the giant retailer is receiving giant government support. From the Kansas City Biz Journal:

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has received more than $1 billion in economic development subsidies from state and local governments, including Kansas City, in the past 20 years, an official with Good Jobs First said Wednesday.

    The Washington-based nonprofit group conducted a five-month study of projects for which the Bentonville, Ark., company (NYSE: WMT) has received public subsidies since the early 1980s, said Philip Mattera, research director for Good Jobs First. The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union financed half the cost of the $50,000 study but had no role in the research or analysis, Mattera said.

    Among the incentives listed in the study is $9.1 million provided by Kansas City in 2001 through a tax-increment financing district to improve roads for a development anchored by Wal-Mart and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse at Missouri Highway 152 and Interstate 29, Mattera said.

    According to the Good Jobs First study, the largest numbers of deals were in Missouri, Illinois, Texas, California and Mississippi. Six St. Louis-area deals totaled $38.1 million of public subsidies.

    Posted by Eric at 09:50 PM | Comments (105)

    Study: Wal-Mart Has Received Over $1Billion in Gov Subsidies

    According to a new study from Good Jobs First, the giant retailer is receiving giant government support. From the Kansas City Biz Journal:

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has received more than $1 billion in economic development subsidies from state and local governments, including Kansas City, in the past 20 years, an official with Good Jobs First said Wednesday.

    The Washington-based nonprofit group conducted a five-month study of projects for which the Bentonville, Ark., company (NYSE: WMT) has received public subsidies since the early 1980s, said Philip Mattera, research director for Good Jobs First. The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union financed half the cost of the $50,000 study but had no role in the research or analysis, Mattera said.

    Among the incentives listed in the study is $9.1 million provided by Kansas City in 2001 through a tax-increment financing district to improve roads for a development anchored by Wal-Mart and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse at Missouri Highway 152 and Interstate 29, Mattera said.

    According to the Good Jobs First study, the largest numbers of deals were in Missouri, Illinois, Texas, California and Mississippi. Six St. Louis-area deals totaled $38.1 million of public subsidies.

    Posted by Eric at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

    May 28, 2004

    Study: Prices of Popular Prescription Drugs for Seniors Rose 4.3x Inflation Last Year

    Seniors will pay much more for the top 30 brand-name drugs, according to a new study by Families USA. In the wake of the new Bush medicare law ...

    Based on the Bush Administration's estimates, approximately 7.4 million seniors - only 1 out of every 6 people enrolled in Medicare - will participate in the new drug discount card program. As a result, 5 out of 6 seniors will bear the full brunt of the fast-rising drug inflation documented in the report.

    "The overwhelming majority of seniors will receive no help this or next year from skyrocketing drug prices, and their medicines will be much more unaffordable," said Ron Pollack, Families USA's Executive Director. "For those who get discounts, potential savings will be negated by large increases in base prices."

    According to the report, the average wholesale price of 28 of the top 30 brand-name drugs rose by 2 or more times the rate of inflation from January 2003 to January 2004. Twenty-one of those drugs rose in price by 3 or more times the rate of inflation, and almost half (14) rose by more than 5 times inflation.

    The full report, in .pdf form, can be found here.

    Posted by Eric at 07:28 AM | Comments (28)

    Study: Prices of Popular Prescription Drugs for Seniors Rose 4.3x Inflation Last Year

    Seniors will pay much more for the top 30 brand-name drugs, according to a new study by Families USA. In the wake of the new Bush medicare law ...

    Based on the Bush Administration's estimates, approximately 7.4 million seniors - only 1 out of every 6 people enrolled in Medicare - will participate in the new drug discount card program. As a result, 5 out of 6 seniors will bear the full brunt of the fast-rising drug inflation documented in the report.

    "The overwhelming majority of seniors will receive no help this or next year from skyrocketing drug prices, and their medicines will be much more unaffordable," said Ron Pollack, Families USA's Executive Director. "For those who get discounts, potential savings will be negated by large increases in base prices."

    According to the report, the average wholesale price of 28 of the top 30 brand-name drugs rose by 2 or more times the rate of inflation from January 2003 to January 2004. Twenty-one of those drugs rose in price by 3 or more times the rate of inflation, and almost half (14) rose by more than 5 times inflation.

    The full report, in .pdf form, can be found here.

    Posted by Eric at 07:28 AM | Comments (1)

    May 19, 2004

    Some Call It Irony

    I call it being a douchebag. From the NY Times: "White House Is Trumpeting Programs It Tried to Cut."

    For example, Justice Department officials recently announced that they were awarding $47 million to scores of local law enforcement agencies for the hiring of police officers
    That's nice. A Clinton-era program which has hired thousands of cops.
    Mr. Bush had just proposed cutting the budget for the program, known as Community Oriented Policing Services, by 87 percent, to $97 million next year, from $756 million.
    OHT! Alright, well ...
    Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, announced recently that the administration was awarding $11.7 million in grants to help 30 states plan and provide coverage for people without health insurance.
    I guess that's a good thing, getting health insurance in case you, uh, get sick or something.
    Mr. Bush had proposed ending the program in each of the last three years.
    Oh. Well. Some could also say ...

    Posted by Eric at 07:33 PM | Comments (2)

    Some Call It Irony

    I call it being a douchebag. From the NY Times: "White House Is Trumpeting Programs It Tried to Cut."

    For example, Justice Department officials recently announced that they were awarding $47 million to scores of local law enforcement agencies for the hiring of police officers
    That's nice. A Clinton-era program which has hired thousands of cops.
    Mr. Bush had just proposed cutting the budget for the program, known as Community Oriented Policing Services, by 87 percent, to $97 million next year, from $756 million.
    OHT! Alright, well ...
    Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, announced recently that the administration was awarding $11.7 million in grants to help 30 states plan and provide coverage for people without health insurance.
    I guess that's a good thing, getting health insurance in case you, uh, get sick or something.
    Mr. Bush had proposed ending the program in each of the last three years.
    Oh. Well. Some could also say ...

    Posted by Eric at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

    Bush Policies Costing Consumers $528 More for Energy than Clinton

    Finds a Center for American Progress study:


    In 2000, George W. Bush promised the American people that, if elected president he would "deal with the energy problem." But, as the average cost of gasoline tops $2 a gallon for the first time ever, the Bush administration still lacks a viable energy strategy. Instead of pursuing a bi-partisan strategy to lower oil prices, the administration reflexively pushes its failed energy legislation written by Vice President Cheney's secret energy task force with the help of former Enron CEO Ken Lay and other oil executives. That bill, which repeatedly has been rejected by Congress, provides billions in subsidies to energy companies and undermines essential environmental regulations but does little to promote conservation or alternative fuels – efforts that would insulate consumers from fossil fuel price spikes. The persistent high prices have padded the profits of oil and gas companies – who have contributed more than $3.5 million to Bush's presidential campaigns. Meanwhile, according to Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) "the 42-cent rise in average gas prices since Mr. Bush took office had cost consumers $42 billion year." Because the Bush administration has failed to control costs, the average American is paying is $528 more for energy than they did during the previous administration – more than most received in income tax cuts.

    Posted by Eric at 04:21 PM | Comments (2)

    Bush Policies Costing Consumers $528 More for Energy than Clinton

    Finds a Center for American Progress study:


    In 2000, George W. Bush promised the American people that, if elected president he would "deal with the energy problem." But, as the average cost of gasoline tops $2 a gallon for the first time ever, the Bush administration still lacks a viable energy strategy. Instead of pursuing a bi-partisan strategy to lower oil prices, the administration reflexively pushes its failed energy legislation written by Vice President Cheney's secret energy task force with the help of former Enron CEO Ken Lay and other oil executives. That bill, which repeatedly has been rejected by Congress, provides billions in subsidies to energy companies and undermines essential environmental regulations but does little to promote conservation or alternative fuels – efforts that would insulate consumers from fossil fuel price spikes. The persistent high prices have padded the profits of oil and gas companies – who have contributed more than $3.5 million to Bush's presidential campaigns. Meanwhile, according to Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) "the 42-cent rise in average gas prices since Mr. Bush took office had cost consumers $42 billion year." Because the Bush administration has failed to control costs, the average American is paying is $528 more for energy than they did during the previous administration – more than most received in income tax cuts.

    Posted by Eric at 04:21 PM | Comments (9)

    EPI: "Jobs shift away from industries that provide health insurance"

    Employers are less likely to provide health coverage to workers, finds the Economic Policy Institute:

    Nationwide, industries in which the share of total jobs has declined insure 68% of their workers, while 55% of workers are insured in industries in which the share of jobs has increased. ... This shift also suggests that recent disturbing trends in health insurance coverage may continue. In 2002 (the most recent year for which data are available), 3.7 million more Americans had no health insurance than two years earlier, bringing the total uninsured to 43.3 million. Of these uninsured, 26 million were workers, over half of whom were working full time for the entire year.

    Despite the increase of individuals insured through Medicaid and the State Childrens Health Insurance Program, the U.S. health care system still relies heavily on employer-provided health insurance. Making affordable health insurance less available at the workplace will have a significant impact on the living standards of working families.

    Posted by Eric at 09:00 AM | Comments (15)

    EPI: "Jobs shift away from industries that provide health insurance"

    Employers are less likely to provide health coverage to workers, finds the Economic Policy Institute:

    Nationwide, industries in which the share of total jobs has declined insure 68% of their workers, while 55% of workers are insured in industries in which the share of jobs has increased. ... This shift also suggests that recent disturbing trends in health insurance coverage may continue. In 2002 (the most recent year for which data are available), 3.7 million more Americans had no health insurance than two years earlier, bringing the total uninsured to 43.3 million. Of these uninsured, 26 million were workers, over half of whom were working full time for the entire year.

    Despite the increase of individuals insured through Medicaid and the State Childrens Health Insurance Program, the U.S. health care system still relies heavily on employer-provided health insurance. Making affordable health insurance less available at the workplace will have a significant impact on the living standards of working families.

    Posted by Eric at 09:00 AM | Comments (5)

    May 18, 2004

    Administration Lying about Condoms

    Reckless and dangerous, as the NY Times reports, the Bush administration is hating on condom use:

    The administration is using pseudoscience to justify its decisions. Randall Tobias, its AIDS coordinator, has said numerous times that condoms are not effective at preventing the spread of AIDS in the general population. He repeated this assertion while testifying in the House of Representatives in March, citing the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Mr. Tobias is wrong. The dean of the London School wrote to him to say that the school had never produced any such report, and that its research shows that condoms do work.

    Mr. Tobias and others in the administration often cite Uganda as a place where AIDS transmission was reduced by teaching youth to be abstinent. But Ugandans and more neutral researchers say that condom use plays a big role. In Zambia and Brazil, condom use has also reduced AIDS transmission, but administration officials do not talk about these countries. They have removed information about condom use and references to the value of sex education and condom promotion from the Web sites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for International Development. Their benighted policies put millions at risk.

    In 1993, the CDC wrote: "The proper and consistent use of latex condoms when engaging in sexual intercourse--vaginal, anal, or oral--can greatly reduce a person's risk of acquiring or transmitting STDs, including HIV infection. In fact, recent studies provide compelling evidence that latex condoms are highly effective in protecting against HIV infection when used properly for every act of intercourse."

    Posted by Eric at 01:35 PM | Comments (14)

    Administration Lying about Condoms

    Reckless and dangerous, as the NY Times reports, the Bush administration is hating on condom use:

    The administration is using pseudoscience to justify its decisions. Randall Tobias, its AIDS coordinator, has said numerous times that condoms are not effective at preventing the spread of AIDS in the general population. He repeated this assertion while testifying in the House of Representatives in March, citing the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Mr. Tobias is wrong. The dean of the London School wrote to him to say that the school had never produced any such report, and that its research shows that condoms do work.

    Mr. Tobias and others in the administration often cite Uganda as a place where AIDS transmission was reduced by teaching youth to be abstinent. But Ugandans and more neutral researchers say that condom use plays a big role. In Zambia and Brazil, condom use has also reduced AIDS transmission, but administration officials do not talk about these countries. They have removed information about condom use and references to the value of sex education and condom promotion from the Web sites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for International Development. Their benighted policies put millions at risk.

    In 1993, the CDC wrote: "The proper and consistent use of latex condoms when engaging in sexual intercourse--vaginal, anal, or oral--can greatly reduce a person's risk of acquiring or transmitting STDs, including HIV infection. In fact, recent studies provide compelling evidence that latex condoms are highly effective in protecting against HIV infection when used properly for every act of intercourse."

    Posted by Eric at 01:35 PM | Comments (4)

    Someone Look-Up Irony

    Courtesy of Counterspin Central, an Ohio manufacturing plant that President Bush pointed to as an example of his successful economic policies has shut down.

    A reporter asked this question:

    Q: About a year ago, April 24th, last year, the President went to Canton, Ohio. He went to the Timken Company. I don't know if you remember the trip, I wasn't on it. He went to a bearings factory, part of the Timken Company, touted his economic plans and talked about jobs and growth. Timken announced today that they're shutting down that plant that the President visited a year ago. I just wonder if that's ironic, that the President touted his economic strategy, doesn't appear to be working?

    MR. McCLELLAN: One, I don't know about the report or the circumstances related to the company. But I think it is important to point out that our economy is showing great strength, and continuing to grow stronger. We've had more than 1.1 million jobs -- new jobs created since last August. The unemployment rate is well below the averages of the '70s, '80s and '90s. So the economy is moving in the right direction. Obviously we are also in a changing economy.

    And the President believes it's important to push forward on the initiatives he's outlined to make sure workers have the skills they need to fill the jobs of the 21st century. And we must continue to work to move forward on the President's six-point plan to create an even more robust environment for job creation. And we also need to work to make sure that we have an educated workforce, to fill the high-growth jobs of the 21st century.

    But the economy is moving in the right direction, and we need to -- because of the actions that the President took. And we will continue to work to create an even more robust environment for job creation.

    Posted by Eric at 07:52 AM | Comments (3)

    Someone Look-Up Irony

    Courtesy of Counterspin Central, an Ohio manufacturing plant that President Bush pointed to as an example of his successful economic policies has shut down.

    A reporter asked this question:

    Q: About a year ago, April 24th, last year, the President went to Canton, Ohio. He went to the Timken Company. I don't know if you remember the trip, I wasn't on it. He went to a bearings factory, part of the Timken Company, touted his economic plans and talked about jobs and growth. Timken announced today that they're shutting down that plant that the President visited a year ago. I just wonder if that's ironic, that the President touted his economic strategy, doesn't appear to be working?

    MR. McCLELLAN: One, I don't know about the report or the circumstances related to the company. But I think it is important to point out that our economy is showing great strength, and continuing to grow stronger. We've had more than 1.1 million jobs -- new jobs created since last August. The unemployment rate is well below the averages of the '70s, '80s and '90s. So the economy is moving in the right direction. Obviously we are also in a changing economy.

    And the President believes it's important to push forward on the initiatives he's outlined to make sure workers have the skills they need to fill the jobs of the 21st century. And we must continue to work to move forward on the President's six-point plan to create an even more robust environment for job creation. And we also need to work to make sure that we have an educated workforce, to fill the high-growth jobs of the 21st century.

    But the economy is moving in the right direction, and we need to -- because of the actions that the President took. And we will continue to work to create an even more robust environment for job creation.

    Posted by Eric at 07:52 AM | Comments (5)

    May 17, 2004

    Bush to Asian Pacific Islanders: Forget About the Other Stuff

    Rather than having the Asian Pacific Islander American Advisory Commission focus on ways to improve quality of life issues, Bush has ordered the commission to focus only on business issues. From the DNC:

    Late last night, the Bush Administration quietly revised an Executive Order passed under the Clinton Administration that created an Advisory Commission charged with improving the overall quality of life for the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Community. The revisions barred the Commission from focusing on areas such as health care, education and housing and instead limited its focus to solely "business expansion."

    Under the original order, the Advisory Commission was made up of 15 members, in turn representing various communities, such as "health, human services, education, housing, labor, transportation, economic and community development, civil rights and business." Under the new Bush rules only the "business enterprise community" will be represented, undermining the diversity of issues important to the APIA community.

    "The Bush Administration's proposal fails to meet the needs of the APIA community," said DNC Deputy-Chair Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA). "For President Bush to think that business priorities outweigh the broader needs of APIA groups particularly issues such as access to health care and overcoming language barriers demonstrates a striking unfamiliarity with APIA concerns. This Commission has done great work for millions of Americans, and by limiting its scope and impact President Bush has undermined those efforts."

    Posted by Eric at 06:59 PM | Comments (7)

    Bush to Asian Pacific Islanders: Forget About the Other Stuff

    Rather than having the Asian Pacific Islander American Advisory Commission focus on ways to improve quality of life issues, Bush has ordered the commission to focus only on business issues. From the DNC:

    Late last night, the Bush Administration quietly revised an Executive Order passed under the Clinton Administration that created an Advisory Commission charged with improving the overall quality of life for the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Community. The revisions barred the Commission from focusing on areas such as health care, education and housing and instead limited its focus to solely "business expansion."

    Under the original order, the Advisory Commission was made up of 15 members, in turn representing various communities, such as "health, human services, education, housing, labor, transportation, economic and community development, civil rights and business." Under the new Bush rules only the "business enterprise community" will be represented, undermining the diversity of issues important to the APIA community.

    "The Bush Administration's proposal fails to meet the needs of the APIA community," said DNC Deputy-Chair Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA). "For President Bush to think that business priorities outweigh the broader needs of APIA groups particularly issues such as access to health care and overcoming language barriers demonstrates a striking unfamiliarity with APIA concerns. This Commission has done great work for millions of Americans, and by limiting its scope and impact President Bush has undermined those efforts."

    Posted by Eric at 06:59 PM | Comments (7)

    May 16, 2004

    Military Times: "failure of leadership at the highest levels"

    From the Military Times editorial board:

    But the folks in the Pentagon are talking about the wrong morons.

    There is no excuse for the behavior displayed by soldiers in the now-infamous pictures and an even more damning report by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba. Every soldier involved should be ashamed.

    But while responsibility begins with the six soldiers facing criminal charges, it extends all the way up the chain of command to the highest reaches of the military hierarchy and its civilian leadership.

    The entire affair is a failure of leadership from start to finish. From the moment they are captured, prisoners are hooded, shackled and isolated. The message to the troops: Anything goes.

    In addition to the scores of prisoners who were humiliated and demeaned, at least 14 have died in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army has ruled at least two of those homicides. This is not the way a free people keeps its captives or wins the hearts and minds of a suspicious world ...

    This was not just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure that ran straight to the top. Accountability here is essential even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war.

    Posted by Eric at 02:59 PM | Comments (3)

    Military Times: "failure of leadership at the highest levels"

    From the Military Times editorial board:

    But the folks in the Pentagon are talking about the wrong morons.

    There is no excuse for the behavior displayed by soldiers in the now-infamous pictures and an even more damning report by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba. Every soldier involved should be ashamed.

    But while responsibility begins with the six soldiers facing criminal charges, it extends all the way up the chain of command to the highest reaches of the military hierarchy and its civilian leadership.

    The entire affair is a failure of leadership from start to finish. From the moment they are captured, prisoners are hooded, shackled and isolated. The message to the troops: Anything goes.

    In addition to the scores of prisoners who were humiliated and demeaned, at least 14 have died in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army has ruled at least two of those homicides. This is not the way a free people keeps its captives or wins the hearts and minds of a suspicious world ...

    This was not just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure that ran straight to the top. Accountability here is essential even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war.

    Posted by Eric at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

    May 14, 2004

    Oil Prices to New High

    AP.

    Posted by Eric at 05:54 PM | Comments (5)

    Oil Prices to New High

    AP.

    Posted by Eric at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

    Rumfeld the Survivor

    At first Rumsfeld was afraid, he was petrified. But he's apparently a survivor. (link via Counterspin):

    THE CRASSEST THING EVER SAID BY A MEMBER OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION: Today, speaking before hundreds of beleaguered American soldiers at a town hall meeting at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Donald Rumsfeld actually had the nerve to refer to his bureaucratic problems in Washington (you know, that torture thing) and say--again, in front of brave U.S. troops who put their lives and health on the line every day in Iraq--"I'm a survivor."

    I wonder if it occurred to Rumsfeld how appalling his statement was when he heard questions like these from our troops:

    Q: Sir, my unit, the 2nd Brigade -- (inaudible) -- Cav, we have five out of the six red zones in this country. And with the up- armored humvees, the new -- (off mike) -- humvees they're bringing over with the -- (inaudible) -- those doors are not as good as the ones on the up-armored humvees -- (inaudible). We even lost quite -- we lost some soldiers due to them, and we're trying to make a change -- (inaudible). The question is, are we going to get more up-armored humvees?

    And the second question I wanted to ask is, they have the new -- (inaudible) -- vests out that covers your -- (inaudible). We need those because we have taken some casualties due to the shrapnel from IEDs going through the side. The front parts are good, but the sides are not. Thank you.

    Posted by Eric at 02:30 AM | Comments (35)

    Rumfeld the Survivor

    At first Rumsfeld was afraid, he was petrified. But he's apparently a survivor. (link via Counterspin):

    THE CRASSEST THING EVER SAID BY A MEMBER OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION: Today, speaking before hundreds of beleaguered American soldiers at a town hall meeting at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Donald Rumsfeld actually had the nerve to refer to his bureaucratic problems in Washington (you know, that torture thing) and say--again, in front of brave U.S. troops who put their lives and health on the line every day in Iraq--"I'm a survivor."

    I wonder if it occurred to Rumsfeld how appalling his statement was when he heard questions like these from our troops:

    Q: Sir, my unit, the 2nd Brigade -- (inaudible) -- Cav, we have five out of the six red zones in this country. And with the up- armored humvees, the new -- (off mike) -- humvees they're bringing over with the -- (inaudible) -- those doors are not as good as the ones on the up-armored humvees -- (inaudible). We even lost quite -- we lost some soldiers due to them, and we're trying to make a change -- (inaudible). The question is, are we going to get more up-armored humvees?

    And the second question I wanted to ask is, they have the new -- (inaudible) -- vests out that covers your -- (inaudible). We need those because we have taken some casualties due to the shrapnel from IEDs going through the side. The front parts are good, but the sides are not. Thank you.

    Posted by Eric at 02:30 AM | Comments (7)

    May 13, 2004

    Another Science Group: Missile Shield Won't Work

    But let's not let science get in the way of the Star Wars fantasy (and not Natalie Portman). From Reuters:

    The multibillion-dollar U.S. ballistic missile shield due to start operating by Sept. 30 appears incapable of shooting down any incoming warheads, an independent scientists' group said on Thursday.

    A technical analysis found "no basis for believing the system will have any capability to defend against a real attack," the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a 76-page report titled "Technical Realities."

    The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency rejected the report, whose authors included Philip Coyle, the Defense Department's top weapons tester under former President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2001.

    "Even the limited defense we are mounting provides a level of protection against an accidental or unauthorized (intercontinental ballistic missile) launch or a limited attack where we currently have no protection," said Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman. "It would be irresponsible to not make it available for the defense of our nation and our people."

    Also see David Wright and Theodore Postol, and Jack Mendelsohn

    Posted by Eric at 03:35 PM | Comments (10)

    Another Science Group: Missile Shield Won't Work

    But let's not let science get in the way of the Star Wars fantasy (and not Natalie Portman). From Reuters:

    The multibillion-dollar U.S. ballistic missile shield due to start operating by Sept. 30 appears incapable of shooting down any incoming warheads, an independent scientists' group said on Thursday.

    A technical analysis found "no basis for believing the system will have any capability to defend against a real attack," the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a 76-page report titled "Technical Realities."

    The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency rejected the report, whose authors included Philip Coyle, the Defense Department's top weapons tester under former President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2001.

    "Even the limited defense we are mounting provides a level of protection against an accidental or unauthorized (intercontinental ballistic missile) launch or a limited attack where we currently have no protection," said Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman. "It would be irresponsible to not make it available for the defense of our nation and our people."

    Also see David Wright and Theodore Postol, and Jack Mendelsohn

    Posted by Eric at 03:35 PM | Comments (5)

    Public Satisfaction with Country: 33%

    Finds the Pew Research Center:

    Public satisfaction with national conditions has fallen to 33%, its lowest level in eight years, in the wake of revelations of prisoner abuse committed by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. President Bush's overall job approval rating also has dropped into negative territory: 44% approve of his job performance, while 48% disapprove ... For all that, however, public sentiment continues to run against an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. By 53%-42%, Americans favor keeping the troops there until a stable government is established. That number has changed little since early April, after four U.S. contractors were murdered and their bodies desecrated.

    President Bush has lost some ground in the presidential race, though voter opinion remains closely divided. Sen. John Kerry holds a 50%-45% lead over Bush in a two-way race, and his lead narrows to 46%-43% when Ralph Nader is included. Most of the president's supporters say they consider their vote as a choice for the president. By contrast, Kerry's supporters by roughly two-to-one (32%-15%) view their vote as one against Bush.

    But confidence in Bush relative to Kerry has eroded on major issues like Iraq and the economy. Bush holds a slight 44%-41% edge as the candidate better able to make wise decisions in Iraq policy; in late March, he held a 12-point advantage (49%-37%). At the same time, Kerry has opened up double-digit leads on both the economy and jobs. Kerry's advantage on the key domestic issue of health care is even larger. Currently, 51% say Kerry would be better able to improve the health care system, while just 29% say that about Bush.

    Posted by Eric at 09:27 AM | Comments (21)

    Public Satisfaction with Country: 33%

    Finds the Pew Research Center:

    Public satisfaction with national conditions has fallen to 33%, its lowest level in eight years, in the wake of revelations of prisoner abuse committed by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. President Bush's overall job approval rating also has dropped into negative territory: 44% approve of his job performance, while 48% disapprove ... For all that, however, public sentiment continues to run against an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. By 53%-42%, Americans favor keeping the troops there until a stable government is established. That number has changed little since early April, after four U.S. contractors were murdered and their bodies desecrated.

    President Bush has lost some ground in the presidential race, though voter opinion remains closely divided. Sen. John Kerry holds a 50%-45% lead over Bush in a two-way race, and his lead narrows to 46%-43% when Ralph Nader is included. Most of the president's supporters say they consider their vote as a choice for the president. By contrast, Kerry's supporters by roughly two-to-one (32%-15%) view their vote as one against Bush.

    But confidence in Bush relative to Kerry has eroded on major issues like Iraq and the economy. Bush holds a slight 44%-41% edge as the candidate better able to make wise decisions in Iraq policy; in late March, he held a 12-point advantage (49%-37%). At the same time, Kerry has opened up double-digit leads on both the economy and jobs. Kerry's advantage on the key domestic issue of health care is even larger. Currently, 51% say Kerry would be better able to improve the health care system, while just 29% say that about Bush.

    Posted by Eric at 09:27 AM | Comments (3)

    May 04, 2004

    $2 Gas Price Likely

    Jimmine Crickets! USA Today:

    Motorists organization AAA, using a different method, reported a record nationwide average of $1.821. It means a $2 nationwide average is likely, soon.

    "There are a lot of places in the country where they've never had to put a '2' on those (gas station) signs, but we'll see $2 a lot," says Tom Kloza, senior oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. "You'll find '2' in every state, but not '3.' "

    At the same time, wholesale prices for gas and the crude oil from which it's made continue to rise, presaging higher pump prices.

    Posted by Eric at 05:14 PM | Comments (18)

    $2 Gas Price Likely

    Jimmine Crickets! USA Today:

    Motorists organization AAA, using a different method, reported a record nationwide average of $1.821. It means a $2 nationwide average is likely, soon.

    "There are a lot of places in the country where they've never had to put a '2' on those (gas station) signs, but we'll see $2 a lot," says Tom Kloza, senior oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. "You'll find '2' in every state, but not '3.' "

    At the same time, wholesale prices for gas and the crude oil from which it's made continue to rise, presaging higher pump prices.

    Posted by Eric at 05:14 PM | Comments (10)

    May 01, 2004

    Asians Invading America

    Ooh, scary stuff, seducing us with their foreign ways and poor Cal-Berkeley singing. AP:

    Asians are projected to be the fastest-growing major population category over the next half-century, outpacing blacks, whites and Hispanics. Recent Census Bureau projections show the Asian population could grow by a third, to 14 million, by 2010 and more than triple to 33 million in 2050 ...

    Asians with a Chinese background are the largest single group, with 2.4 million. But the population of Indian-Americans grew the most during the 1990s - 106 percent to 1.7 million. Vietnamese were next at 83 percent and grew to 1.1 million in 2000.

    The technology boom of the 1990s lured many immigrants from India. Large numbers settled in California's Silicon Valley and other high-tech hotbeds like the Dulles Corridor outside Washington.

    A catch-all category of "other Asians" had 1.3 million people in 2000. This included groups like the Hmong, whose population nearly doubled to 169,000. The Hmong are an ethnic group from the highlands of Laos who fought the communists alongside the CIA during the Vietnam War.

    Pat Buchanan is spinning in his MSNBC chair.

    Posted by Eric at 02:14 AM | Comments (13)

    Asians Invading America

    Ooh, scary stuff, seducing us with their foreign ways and poor Cal-Berkeley singing. AP:

    Asians are projected to be the fastest-growing major population category over the next half-century, outpacing blacks, whites and Hispanics. Recent Census Bureau projections show the Asian population could grow by a third, to 14 million, by 2010 and more than triple to 33 million in 2050 ...

    Asians with a Chinese background are the largest single group, with 2.4 million. But the population of Indian-Americans grew the most during the 1990s - 106 percent to 1.7 million. Vietnamese were next at 83 percent and grew to 1.1 million in 2000.

    The technology boom of the 1990s lured many immigrants from India. Large numbers settled in California's Silicon Valley and other high-tech hotbeds like the Dulles Corridor outside Washington.

    A catch-all category of "other Asians" had 1.3 million people in 2000. This included groups like the Hmong, whose population nearly doubled to 169,000. The Hmong are an ethnic group from the highlands of Laos who fought the communists alongside the CIA during the Vietnam War.

    Pat Buchanan is spinning in his MSNBC chair.

    Posted by Eric at 02:14 AM | Comments (1)

    April 29, 2004

    Britney Spears Has Competition

    From good ol' Georgie, AP:

    "There was some laughter from time to time: the president is a bit of a tease," Thompson said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

    "There were no tense moments. I thought the president gave a five-star performance," he said. "I wish the American people could have seen it."

    Ok.

    Posted by Eric at 02:41 PM | Comments (11)

    Britney Spears Has Competition

    From good ol' Georgie, AP:

    "There was some laughter from time to time: the president is a bit of a tease," Thompson said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

    "There were no tense moments. I thought the president gave a five-star performance," he said. "I wish the American people could have seen it."

    Ok.

    Posted by Eric at 02:41 PM | Comments (3)

    April 27, 2004

    Intelligence Officials to Track Blogs?

    Makes sense. From the conservative Investor's Business Daily:

    Still, a panel of folks who work in the U.S. intelligence field - some of them spies or former spies - discussed this month at a conference in Washington the idea of tracking blogs.

    "News and intelligence is about listening with a critical ear, and blogs are just another conversation to listen to and evaluate. They also are closer to (some situations) and may serve as early alerts," said Jock Gill, a former adviser on Internet media to President Clinton (news - web sites), in a later phone interview, after he spoke on the panel.

    Some panel and conference participants, because of their profession, could not be identified. But another who could is Robert Steele, another blog booster. The former U.S. intelligence officer said "absolutely" that blogs are valid sources of intelligence and news, though he said authenticating the information in blogs "leaves a lot to be desired."

    Posted by Eric at 08:47 PM | Comments (64)

    Intelligence Officials to Track Blogs?

    Makes sense. From the conservative Investor's Business Daily:

    Still, a panel of folks who work in the U.S. intelligence field - some of them spies or former spies - discussed this month at a conference in Washington the idea of tracking blogs.

    "News and intelligence is about listening with a critical ear, and blogs are just another conversation to listen to and evaluate. They also are closer to (some situations) and may serve as early alerts," said Jock Gill, a former adviser on Internet media to President Clinton (news - web sites), in a later phone interview, after he spoke on the panel.

    Some panel and conference participants, because of their profession, could not be identified. But another who could is Robert Steele, another blog booster. The former U.S. intelligence officer said "absolutely" that blogs are valid sources of intelligence and news, though he said authenticating the information in blogs "leaves a lot to be desired."

    Posted by Eric at 08:47 PM | Comments (1)

    April 24, 2004

    We Need More Nukes: Nuclear Spending "exceeds by over 50 percent the average annual sum" throughout Cold War

    Defense spending up. From Kaplan at Slate:

    The budget is busted; American soldiers need more armor; they're running out of supplies. Yet the Department of Energy is spending an astonishing $6.5 billion on nuclear weapons this year, and President Bush is requesting $6.8 billion more for next year and a total of $30 billion over the following four years. This does not include his much-cherished missile-defense program, by the way. This is simply for the maintenance, modernization, development, and production of nuclear bombs and warheads.

    Measured in "real dollars" (that is, adjusting for inflation), this year's spending on nuclear activities is equal to what Ronald Reagan spent at the height of the U.S.-Soviet standoff. It exceeds by over 50 percent the average annual sum ($4.2 billion) that the United States spentagain, in real dollarsthroughout the four and a half decades of the Cold War.

    There is no nuclear arms race going on now. The world no longer offers many suitable nuclear targets. President Bush is trying to persuade other nationsespecially "rogue regimes"to forgo their nuclear ambitions. Yet he is shoveling money to U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories as if the Soviet Union still existed and the Cold War still raged.

    Posted by Eric at 01:56 PM | Comments (33)

    We Need More Nukes: Nuclear Spending "exceeds by over 50 percent the average annual sum" throughout Cold War

    Defense spending up. From Kaplan at Slate:

    The budget is busted; American soldiers need more armor; they're running out of supplies. Yet the Department of Energy is spending an astonishing $6.5 billion on nuclear weapons this year, and President Bush is requesting $6.8 billion more for next year and a total of $30 billion over the following four years. This does not include his much-cherished missile-defense program, by the way. This is simply for the maintenance, modernization, development, and production of nuclear bombs and warheads.

    Measured in "real dollars" (that is, adjusting for inflation), this year's spending on nuclear activities is equal to what Ronald Reagan spent at the height of the U.S.-Soviet standoff. It exceeds by over 50 percent the average annual sum ($4.2 billion) that the United States spentagain, in real dollarsthroughout the four and a half decades of the Cold War.

    There is no nuclear arms race going on now. The world no longer offers many suitable nuclear targets. President Bush is trying to persuade other nationsespecially "rogue regimes"to forgo their nuclear ambitions. Yet he is shoveling money to U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories as if the Soviet Union still existed and the Cold War still raged.

    Posted by Eric at 01:56 PM | Comments (9)

    April 20, 2004

    IRS Campaigning for Bush

    Which one is from the IRS and which one is from the RNC?

    1) "America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the president's policies are doing, or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."

    2) "America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's polices are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."

    Can you tell? "doing," vs. "doing;"

    Can you? Which one is from a government agency funded by taxpayers, and which is from a campaign to elect Republicans?

    Hmm ...

    No, really! But that's OK, because the IRS is a 527 organization. From the infamously named Jennifer 8 Lee:

    As the deadline for filing tax returns approached, news releases from the Internal Revenue Service included a little something extra, a sentence promoting the administration's tax policies that said, "America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the president's policies are doing, or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."

    "Stating our position is appropriate," said Rob Nichols, a spokesman for the Treasury Department, which oversees the I.R.S. "The administration's views on fiscal policy are that lower taxes have helped strengthen the economy and led to an environment of increased job creation."

    Earlier this year, the Treasury Department was criticized after its analysis of a tax plan similar to one proposed by Senator John Kerry was used to attack Mr. Kerry as he sought the Democratic nomination for president.

    As Al Franken mentioned on his radio show and the O'Franken Factor blog , the wording from the IRS is very similar to this from the RNC website. Hmmm ...

    Posted by Eric at 12:22 PM | Comments (54)

    IRS Campaigning for Bush

    Which one is from the IRS and which one is from the RNC?

    1) "America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the president's policies are doing, or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."

    2) "America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's polices are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."

    Can you tell? "doing," vs. "doing;"

    Can you? Which one is from a government agency funded by taxpayers, and which is from a campaign to elect Republicans?

    Hmm ...

    No, really! But that's OK, because the IRS is a 527 organization. From the infamously named Jennifer 8 Lee:

    As the deadline for filing tax returns approached, news releases from the Internal Revenue Service included a little something extra, a sentence promoting the administration's tax policies that said, "America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the president's policies are doing, or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."

    "Stating our position is appropriate," said Rob Nichols, a spokesman for the Treasury Department, which oversees the I.R.S. "The administration's views on fiscal policy are that lower taxes have helped strengthen the economy and led to an environment of increased job creation."

    Earlier this year, the Treasury Department was criticized after its analysis of a tax plan similar to one proposed by Senator John Kerry was used to attack Mr. Kerry as he sought the Democratic nomination for president.

    As Al Franken mentioned on his radio show and the O'Franken Factor blog , the wording from the IRS is very similar to this from the RNC website. Hmmm ...

    Posted by Eric at 12:22 PM | Comments (14)

    April 19, 2004

    Columbine Dad Turned Away from NRA Convention

    From the AP:

    Mauser challenged Cheney to speak about extending the ban when the vice president delivered the convention's keynote address Saturday night ... Mauser entered the convention hall where the NRA was meeting, but was turned away by a security guard as several conventioneers applauded. A couple of conventioneers yelled "Get a life" and "Vote for Bush."

    Posted by Eric at 12:18 PM | Comments (53)

    Columbine Dad Turned Away from NRA Convention

    From the AP:

    Mauser challenged Cheney to speak about extending the ban when the vice president delivered the convention's keynote address Saturday night ... Mauser entered the convention hall where the NRA was meeting, but was turned away by a security guard as several conventioneers applauded. A couple of conventioneers yelled "Get a life" and "Vote for Bush."

    Posted by Eric at 12:18 PM | Comments (9)

    NRA Backs Bush, But ...

    According to the Chicago Tribune, some gun owners are lukewarm about Bush, though the NRA is backing him over John Kerry. Why the eeehh?

    The ban outlaws the sale of some assault-style semiautomatic weapons and limits ammunition magazines to 10 cartridges--restrictions that NRA supporters call "cosmetic" moves that have had no measurable impact on crime.

    Bush has said he would allow the ban to be extended, a disappointment to many NRA members. But with a Republican-controlled Congress, it is questionable whether the bill even will get to his desk ... Some gun owners also are disillusioned with aspects of the Bush administration's Patriot Act, claiming it is an infringement of their personal privacy.

    "I disconnected my computer line because of the Patriot Act," said Raymond Cromley, 54, of Farmingdale, Ohio, who said he has not decided whether he'll vote for Bush.

    At the NRA conference in Penn, Cheney said of Bush: he "has shown you respect, earned your vote and appreciates your support,"

    Posted by Eric at 11:20 AM | Comments (27)

    NRA Backs Bush, But ...

    According to the Chicago Tribune, some gun owners are lukewarm about Bush, though the NRA is backing him over John Kerry. Why the eeehh?

    The ban outlaws the sale of some assault-style semiautomatic weapons and limits ammunition magazines to 10 cartridges--restrictions that NRA supporters call "cosmetic" moves that have had no measurable impact on crime.

    Bush has said he would allow the ban to be extended, a disappointment to many NRA members. But with a Republican-controlled Congress, it is questionable whether the bill even will get to his desk ... Some gun owners also are disillusioned with aspects of the Bush administration's Patriot Act, claiming it is an infringement of their personal privacy.

    "I disconnected my computer line because of the Patriot Act," said Raymond Cromley, 54, of Farmingdale, Ohio, who said he has not decided whether he'll vote for Bush.

    At the NRA conference in Penn, Cheney said of Bush: he "has shown you respect, earned your vote and appreciates your support,"

    Posted by Eric at 11:20 AM | Comments (2)

    Rice: Prepare for Terrorist Attack Before Elections

    Says the NSA to Fox News on Sunday, AP:

    The opportunity for terrorists to try to influence the election, as was the case last month in Spain, appears to be an opportunity that would "be too good to pass up for them," Rice said.

    "I think that we do have to take very seriously the thought that the terrorists might have learned, we hope, the wrong lesson from Spain," Rice told Fox News Sunday.

    "I think we also have to take seriously that they might try during the cycle leading up to the election to do something," she said.

    On a related note, according to CNN, Tom Ridge "is expected to call Monday for an acceleration of plans to prepare for a terrorist attack because of several forthcoming high-profile events that could give terrorists a chance to strike."

    Posted by Eric at 09:09 AM | Comments (34)

    Rice: Prepare for Terrorist Attack Before Elections

    Says the NSA to Fox News on Sunday, AP:

    The opportunity for terrorists to try to influence the election, as was the case last month in Spain, appears to be an opportunity that would "be too good to pass up for them," Rice said.

    "I think that we do have to take very seriously the thought that the terrorists might have learned, we hope, the wrong lesson from Spain," Rice told Fox News Sunday.

    "I think we also have to take seriously that they might try during the cycle leading up to the election to do something," she said.

    On a related note, according to CNN, Tom Ridge "is expected to call Monday for an acceleration of plans to prepare for a terrorist attack because of several forthcoming high-profile events that could give terrorists a chance to strike."

    Posted by Eric at 09:09 AM | Comments (11)

    April 16, 2004

    Zinni: "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?"

    Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni has some thoughts about Rummy and the situation in Iraq. Where are the flowers and roses? SD Union-Trib

    Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni wondered aloud yesterday how Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could be caught off guard by the chaos in Iraq that has killed nearly 100 Americans in recent weeks and led to his announcement that 20,000 U.S. troops would be staying there instead of returning home as planned.

    "I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus," said Zinni, a Marine for 39 years and the former commander of the U.S. Central Command. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?" ... For years Zinni said he cautioned U.S. officials that an Iraq without Saddam Hussein would likely be more dangerous to U.S. interests than one with him because of the ethnic and religious clashes that would be unleashed.

    "I think that some heads should roll over Iraq," Zinni said. "I think the president got some bad advice."

    Any fallout regarding your criticisms?
    "I've been called a traitor and a turncoat for mentioning these things," said Zinni, 60.
    Zinni says the US must go to the UN for help.

    Posted by Eric at 07:52 AM | Comments (25)

    Zinni: "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?"

    Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni has some thoughts about Rummy and the situation in Iraq. Where are the flowers and roses? SD Union-Trib

    Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni wondered aloud yesterday how Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could be caught off guard by the chaos in Iraq that has killed nearly 100 Americans in recent weeks and led to his announcement that 20,000 U.S. troops would be staying there instead of returning home as planned.

    "I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus," said Zinni, a Marine for 39 years and the former commander of the U.S. Central Command. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?" ... For years Zinni said he cautioned U.S. officials that an Iraq without Saddam Hussein would likely be more dangerous to U.S. interests than one with him because of the ethnic and religious clashes that would be unleashed.

    "I think that some heads should roll over Iraq," Zinni said. "I think the president got some bad advice."

    Any fallout regarding your criticisms?
    "I've been called a traitor and a turncoat for mentioning these things," said Zinni, 60.
    Zinni says the US must go to the UN for help.

    Posted by Eric at 07:52 AM | Comments (6)

    April 15, 2004

    UAW Membership Lowest Since 1942

    The UAW lost about 14,000 members in 2003, Detroit Free Press:

    The United Auto Workers union continued its long, slow decline in membership in 2003, losing 14,000 more members and falling to its lowest level since 1942, according to UAW documents filed with the Department of Labor.

    UAW membership fell to 624,585 in 2003, down from 638,722 at the end of 2002. The drop came despite UAW successes in organizing thousands of workers at billion-dollar parts suppliers like Toledo-based Dana Corp. and Johnson Controls Inc. in Plymouth, not to mention some success in organizing graduate assistants on college campuses.

    Despite the drop in membership, the UAW increased the amount of union dues it collected in 2003 to $214.3 million, up from $209 million in 2002.

    The UAW peaked at 1.53 million members in 1969 and still had 1.5 million as of 1979 -- but as Detroit's automakers lose business, the union loses members.

    Posted by Eric at 12:38 PM | Comments (25)

    UAW Membership Lowest Since 1942

    The UAW lost about 14,000 members in 2003, Detroit Free Press:

    The United Auto Workers union continued its long, slow decline in membership in 2003, losing 14,000 more members and falling to its lowest level since 1942, according to UAW documents filed with the Department of Labor.

    UAW membership fell to 624,585 in 2003, down from 638,722 at the end of 2002. The drop came despite UAW successes in organizing thousands of workers at billion-dollar parts suppliers like Toledo-based Dana Corp. and Johnson Controls Inc. in Plymouth, not to mention some success in organizing graduate assistants on college campuses.

    Despite the drop in membership, the UAW increased the amount of union dues it collected in 2003 to $214.3 million, up from $209 million in 2002.

    The UAW peaked at 1.53 million members in 1969 and still had 1.5 million as of 1979 -- but as Detroit's automakers lose business, the union loses members.

    Posted by Eric at 12:38 PM | Comments (5)

    April 13, 2004

    How Bush Slights Military Families

    Barbara Ehrenreich's article is a must read

    Military families on food stamps? It's not an urban myth. About 25,000 families of servicemen and women are eligible, and this may be an underestimate, since the most recent Defense Department report on the financial condition of the armed forces--from 1999--found that 40 percent of lower-ranking soldiers face "substantial financial difficulties." Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, reports hearing from constituents that the Army now includes applications for food stamps in its orientation packet for new recruits.

    The poverty of the mightiest military machine on Earth is no secret to the many charities that have sprung up to help families on U.S. military bases, like the church-based Feed the Children, which delivers free food and personal items to families at twelve bases. Before 9/11, trucks bearing free food from a variety of food pantries used to be able to drive right on to the bases. Now they have to stop outside the gates, making the spectacle of military poverty visible to any passerby.

    Market forces ensure that a volunteer army will necessarily be an army of the poor. The trouble is, enlistment does not do a whole lot to brighten one's economic outlook. Frontline battle troops, most of whom have been in the military for about a year, earn less than $16,000 a year--which puts them at about the level of theater ushers and Wal-Mart clerks. Even second lieutenants, at a starting salary of $26,000 a year, earn less than pest control workers and shoe repairers. So when the Bush Administration, in its frenzied rush to transfer more wealth to the already wealthy, hurts the working poor, you can count the troops among them. The 2003 Bush tax cut for the rich, for example, failed to extend a child tax credit to nearly 200,000 military personnel.

    Posted by Eric at 11:39 AM | Comments (66)

    How Bush Slights Military Families

    Barbara Ehrenreich's article is a must read

    Military families on food stamps? It's not an urban myth. About 25,000 families of servicemen and women are eligible, and this may be an underestimate, since the most recent Defense Department report on the financial condition of the armed forces--from 1999--found that 40 percent of lower-ranking soldiers face "substantial financial difficulties." Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, reports hearing from constituents that the Army now includes applications for food stamps in its orientation packet for new recruits.

    The poverty of the mightiest military machine on Earth is no secret to the many charities that have sprung up to help families on U.S. military bases, like the church-based Feed the Children, which delivers free food and personal items to families at twelve bases. Before 9/11, trucks bearing free food from a variety of food pantries used to be able to drive right on to the bases. Now they have to stop outside the gates, making the spectacle of military poverty visible to any passerby.

    Market forces ensure that a volunteer army will necessarily be an army of the poor. The trouble is, enlistment does not do a whole lot to brighten one's economic outlook. Frontline battle troops, most of whom have been in the military for about a year, earn less than $16,000 a year--which puts them at about the level of theater ushers and Wal-Mart clerks. Even second lieutenants, at a starting salary of $26,000 a year, earn less than pest control workers and shoe repairers. So when the Bush Administration, in its frenzied rush to transfer more wealth to the already wealthy, hurts the working poor, you can count the troops among them. The 2003 Bush tax cut for the rich, for example, failed to extend a child tax credit to nearly 200,000 military personnel.

    Posted by Eric at 11:39 AM | Comments (11)

    More Unpatriotic Americans

    From the conservative Union Leader of NH:

    Military families threatened to wage a war of their own last night, as sadness turned to sharp anger at the Bush administration for keeping their loved ones in Iraq ... Two days after learning their loved ones would not be leaving the Middle East as expected Sunday, the families said theyre ready to launch a political fight.

    God forbid, if one soldier dies, there will be no end to anything any one of our members can do, said Gerri Whittredge, who lent the group her Hollis home for the meeting. I will be in Washington, D.C., at Mr. Bushs door, shoving his words down his throat.

    Others said she would not be alone.

    We want the whole country to hear our story, said Franklin resident Richard MacDonald, whose son, Adam MacDonald, 23, is a specialist in the company.

    Family members said their frustration soared to new heights this weekend, when many received phone calls or e-mails from the soldiers, who have spent 17 months on active duty.

    Posted by Eric at 11:11 AM | Comments (20)

    More Unpatriotic Americans

    From the conservative Union Leader of NH:

    Military families threatened to wage a war of their own last night, as sadness turned to sharp anger at the Bush administration for keeping their loved ones in Iraq ... Two days after learning their loved ones would not be leaving the Middle East as expected Sunday, the families said theyre ready to launch a political fight.

    God forbid, if one soldier dies, there will be no end to anything any one of our members can do, said Gerri Whittredge, who lent the group her Hollis home for the meeting. I will be in Washington, D.C., at Mr. Bushs door, shoving his words down his throat.

    Others said she would not be alone.

    We want the whole country to hear our story, said Franklin resident Richard MacDonald, whose son, Adam MacDonald, 23, is a specialist in the company.

    Family members said their frustration soared to new heights this weekend, when many received phone calls or e-mails from the soldiers, who have spent 17 months on active duty.

    Posted by Eric at 11:11 AM | Comments (4)

    April 12, 2004

    Shinseki Was Right

    From the AP:

    But more important, many critics believe, Bush should have listened to former Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who said a postwar occupying force in Iraq would have to number in the hundreds of thousands.

    Such a force, Shinseki said, is needed to maintain security and calm ethnic tensions in the immediate aftermath of the fall of a government.

    The Bush administration settled on a force of about 150,000, expecting it would be augmented by eventual support from other countries.

    Reinforcements did not arrive right away or in massive numbers. So when looting broke out, there were not enough soldiers on hand to bring the situation under control.

    At the time, Shinseki's troop estimate was called "wildly off the mark" by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

    "It turns out Wolfowitz was wildly wrong," said Joseph Nye, a former assistant defense secretary who is dean of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

    "If they had put in more troops, they would have prevented the looting and the situation from deteriorating," Nye said.

    So what did they do to the former war hero, who received "two Purple Hearts and four Bronze Star Medals for his service in Vietnam"? Smear him:
    Hardly any of this the reached public domain until last month when Gen Shinseki told a congressional committee that he thought an occupying force in the hundreds of thousands would be required to police postwar Iraq. Mr Rumsfeld publicly repudiated him, saying he was "far off the mark".

    In semi-private, the Pentagon's civilian leadership was far more scathing. A "senior administration official" told the Village Voice newspaper that Gen Shinseki's remark was "bullshit from a Clintonite enamoured of using the army for peacekeeping and not winning wars."

    As Bob Herbert summed it up:
    When the Army chief of staff, General Eric Shinseki, dared to say publicly that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to occupy Iraq, he was ridiculed by the administration and his career was brought to a close.
    Shinseki and his family have long been targets of those who would question their loyalty.
    The origins of the Shinseki-Rumsfeld war long predate any mention of Iraq. There are many ironies to it, but the most bitter seems to be that the general has found himself characterised as an obstacle to progress. This is improbable on the most personal level. He is a Japanese-American (as is his wife), born in Hawaii in 1942 when his parents were officially enemy aliens.

    He was inspired to join the army by the example of uncles who fought for the US then and eradicated the perception that they might be traitors. In Vietnam, "Ric" Shinseki was terribly injured twice - losing a foot the second time - yet he persisted in the army.

    Posted by Eric at 12:11 PM | Comments (48)

    Shinseki Was Right

    From the AP:

    But more important, many critics believe, Bush should have listened to former Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who said a postwar occupying force in Iraq would have to number in the hundreds of thousands.

    Such a force, Shinseki said, is needed to maintain security and calm ethnic tensions in the immediate aftermath of the fall of a government.

    The Bush administration settled on a force of about 150,000, expecting it would be augmented by eventual support from other countries.

    Reinforcements did not arrive right away or in massive numbers. So when looting broke out, there were not enough soldiers on hand to bring the situation under control.

    At the time, Shinseki's troop estimate was called "wildly off the mark" by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

    "It turns out Wolfowitz was wildly wrong," said Joseph Nye, a former assistant defense secretary who is dean of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

    "If they had put in more troops, they would have prevented the looting and the situation from deteriorating," Nye said.

    So what did they do to the former war hero, who received "two Purple Hearts and four Bronze Star Medals for his service in Vietnam"? Smear him:
    Hardly any of this the reached public domain until last month when Gen Shinseki told a congressional committee that he thought an occupying force in the hundreds of thousands would be required to police postwar Iraq. Mr Rumsfeld publicly repudiated him, saying he was "far off the mark".

    In semi-private, the Pentagon's civilian leadership was far more scathing. A "senior administration official" told the Village Voice newspaper that Gen Shinseki's remark was "bullshit from a Clintonite enamoured of using the army for peacekeeping and not winning wars."

    As Bob Herbert summed it up:
    When the Army chief of staff, General Eric Shinseki, dared to say publicly that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to occupy Iraq, he was ridiculed by the administration and his career was brought to a close.
    Shinseki and his family have long been targets of those who would question their loyalty.
    The origins of the Shinseki-Rumsfeld war long predate any mention of Iraq. There are many ironies to it, but the most bitter seems to be that the general has found himself characterised as an obstacle to progress. This is improbable on the most personal level. He is a Japanese-American (as is his wife), born in Hawaii in 1942 when his parents were officially enemy aliens.

    He was inspired to join the army by the example of uncles who fought for the US then and eradicated the perception that they might be traitors. In Vietnam, "Ric" Shinseki was terribly injured twice - losing a foot the second time - yet he persisted in the army.

    Posted by Eric at 12:11 PM | Comments (9)

    Scalia the Hypocrite

    From the Jackson Sun in Tenn:

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a hypocrite. There's no nice way to say it. For a man who, just last March received the Citadel of Free Speech Award, he has shown himself to be afraid, even contemptuous, of the same Constitution he claims to revere.

    Scalia's contempt was on full display last week at a pair of speeches he gave in Hattiesburg, Miss. While speaking at Presbyterian Christian High School on - ironically - the importance of protecting constitutional rights, a federal marshal confiscated a digital recording from an Associated Press reporter and erased it. The marshal did the same with a cassette from a local Hattiesburg reporter.

    This is outrageous. Claims by the federal marshal service that this was a routine matter of providing security for Scalia don't hold water. It wasn't as if the justice were speaking on a matter of great sensitivity, say a matter of national security. Nor was he speaking on a specific subject, something that might come before the Court later.

    Scalia was speaking on a very generalized topic - protecting constitutional rights. That's the same Constitution that includes the right to free speech, and the right to a free press.

    Meanwhile, as Bob Herbert reports:
    I called Jane Kirtley, a professor of media, ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, and asked her what was wrong with what the marshal did. She replied, "Everything."

    Not only was it an affront to the Constitution to seize and erase the recordings, Ms. Kirtley believes it was also a violation of the Privacy Protection Act, a law passed by Congress in 1980.

    Posted by Eric at 10:43 AM | Comments (26)

    Scalia the Hypocrite

    From the Jackson Sun in Tenn:

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a hypocrite. There's no nice way to say it. For a man who, just last March received the Citadel of Free Speech Award, he has shown himself to be afraid, even contemptuous, of the same Constitution he claims to revere.

    Scalia's contempt was on full display last week at a pair of speeches he gave in Hattiesburg, Miss. While speaking at Presbyterian Christian High School on - ironically - the importance of protecting constitutional rights, a federal marshal confiscated a digital recording from an Associated Press reporter and erased it. The marshal did the same with a cassette from a local Hattiesburg reporter.

    This is outrageous. Claims by the federal marshal service that this was a routine matter of providing security for Scalia don't hold water. It wasn't as if the justice were speaking on a matter of great sensitivity, say a matter of national security. Nor was he speaking on a specific subject, something that might come before the Court later.

    Scalia was speaking on a very generalized topic - protecting constitutional rights. That's the same Constitution that includes the right to free speech, and the right to a free press.

    Meanwhile, as Bob Herbert reports:
    I called Jane Kirtley, a professor of media, ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, and asked her what was wrong with what the marshal did. She replied, "Everything."

    Not only was it an affront to the Constitution to seize and erase the recordings, Ms. Kirtley believes it was also a violation of the Privacy Protection Act, a law passed by Congress in 1980.

    Posted by Eric at 10:43 AM | Comments (5)

    April 09, 2004

    The Justice of Shame

    The Hartford Courant on Supreme Court Justice Scalia:

    Recently, he accompanied Vice President Richard Cheney on Air Force Two on a duck-hunting trip to Louisiana - after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a major case involving the vice president. Mr. Scalia didn't see a conflict and rejected requests that he recuse himself.

    This week, Justice Scalia addressed high school students in Hattiesburg, Miss., on the importance of protecting constitutional rights. During the event, a federal marshal told two news reporters that they could not record the justice's remarks.

    There was no announcement on barring electronic recordings, but the justice simply did not want such coverage. The marshal erased the tape of an Associated Press reporter and directed a local newspaper reporter to delete her tape.

    It is appalling that a jurist on the highest court in the land would try to dictate the terms of coverage of any public speech, let alone one in which he extolled the U.S. Constitution as "something extraordinary, something to revere."

    Was he suggesting that a free press is fine, just as long as it does not apply to him and his speeches?

    He sent a similarly hypocritical message last year when he barred TV and radio coverage of an event at which he was honored for supporting free speech. Justice Scalia's ham-handedness should embarrass his colleagues.

    Indeed. And the seizure was legally questionable:
    "The seizure and destruction of a reporter's tape recordings is remarkable, and I think it would be difficult to find any law that would justify it," said Luther T. Munford, a First Amendment expert at Phelps Dunbar, a law firm in Jackson.
    So, one wonders, how can we respect the Constitution and basic rights when one of our own head judges doesn't?

    Posted by Eric at 10:30 AM | Comments (37)

    The Justice of Shame

    The Hartford Courant on Supreme Court Justice Scalia:

    Recently, he accompanied Vice President Richard Cheney on Air Force Two on a duck-hunting trip to Louisiana - after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a major case involving the vice president. Mr. Scalia didn't see a conflict and rejected requests that he recuse himself.

    This week, Justice Scalia addressed high school students in Hattiesburg, Miss., on the importance of protecting constitutional rights. During the event, a federal marshal told two news reporters that they could not record the justice's remarks.

    There was no announcement on barring electronic recordings, but the justice simply did not want such coverage. The marshal erased the tape of an Associated Press reporter and directed a local newspaper reporter to delete her tape.

    It is appalling that a jurist on the highest court in the land would try to dictate the terms of coverage of any public speech, let alone one in which he extolled the U.S. Constitution as "something extraordinary, something to revere."

    Was he suggesting that a free press is fine, just as long as it does not apply to him and his speeches?

    He sent a similarly hypocritical message last year when he barred TV and radio coverage of an event at which he was honored for supporting free speech. Justice Scalia's ham-handedness should embarrass his colleagues.

    Indeed. And the seizure was legally questionable:
    "The seizure and destruction of a reporter's tape recordings is remarkable, and I think it would be difficult to find any law that would justify it," said Luther T. Munford, a First Amendment expert at Phelps Dunbar, a law firm in Jackson.
    So, one wonders, how can we respect the Constitution and basic rights when one of our own head judges doesn't?

    Posted by Eric at 10:30 AM | Comments (6)

    April 08, 2004

    Clarke Says Rices Testimony Bolstered His Claims

    The ABC transcript.

    Posted by Eric at 03:41 PM | Comments (36)

    Clarke Says Rices Testimony Bolstered His Claims

    The ABC transcript.

    Posted by Eric at 03:41 PM | Comments (2)

    April 07, 2004

    Job Confidence Continues to Slide

    From the conservative Investors Business Daily, link from Political Wire:

    Americans' faith in the economy slipped again in April, just as nonfarm payrolls posted their best monthly growth in four years.

    The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index fell 1.7 points to 52.8 in April, a third straight month of decline. The index has lost 7.8 points since hitting January's 22-month high of 60.6.

    Its lowest point under President Bush was 48.8 in March 2003, the only month it was under 50. Under 50 means pessimism; over 50 means optimism.

    Posted by Eric at 03:33 AM | Comments (11)

    Job Confidence Continues to Slide

    From the conservative Investors Business Daily, link from Political Wire:

    Americans' faith in the economy slipped again in April, just as nonfarm payrolls posted their best monthly growth in four years.

    The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index fell 1.7 points to 52.8 in April, a third straight month of decline. The index has lost 7.8 points since hitting January's 22-month high of 60.6.

    Its lowest point under President Bush was 48.8 in March 2003, the only month it was under 50. Under 50 means pessimism; over 50 means optimism.

    Posted by Eric at 03:33 AM | Comments (3)

    2/3s of Metros Lost Jobs

    Indeed, two-thirds of the nation's 100 largest labor markets -- 63 of 100 -- had less jobs in 2003 than in 2000.From the American City Business Journals:

    Nearly two-thirds of those areas -- 63 of 100 -- had fewer jobs in 2003 than in 2000, the final year of Bill Clinton's administration. The collective loss in those 63 markets was roughly 2.1 million jobs, which was larger than the total national decline.

    Seventy-nine of the top 100 metros posted slower job-growth rates during Bush's first three years than under any of his three predecessors: Clinton, George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan.

    Ninety-nine of the 100 largest markets had worse employment records under George W. Bush than Clinton. The sole exception was Honolulu.

    ACBJ analyzed employment data for the four presidents who served since 1981. Each president's record was based on a comparison of average annual employment in his final year and his predecessor's final year. (Clinton's record, for example, spanned from 1992, the last year served by George H.W. Bush, to 2000.)

    Posted by Eric at 01:22 AM | Comments (8)

    2/3s of Metros Lost Jobs

    Indeed, two-thirds of the nation's 100 largest labor markets -- 63 of 100 -- had less jobs in 2003 than in 2000.From the American City Business Journals:

    Nearly two-thirds of those areas -- 63 of 100 -- had fewer jobs in 2003 than in 2000, the final year of Bill Clinton's administration. The collective loss in those 63 markets was roughly 2.1 million jobs, which was larger than the total national decline.

    Seventy-nine of the top 100 metros posted slower job-growth rates during Bush's first three years than under any of his three predecessors: Clinton, George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan.

    Ninety-nine of the 100 largest markets had worse employment records under George W. Bush than Clinton. The sole exception was Honolulu.

    ACBJ analyzed employment data for the four presidents who served since 1981. Each president's record was based on a comparison of average annual employment in his final year and his predecessor's final year. (Clinton's record, for example, spanned from 1992, the last year served by George H.W. Bush, to 2000.)

    Posted by Eric at 01:22 AM | Comments (2)

    April 06, 2004

    Radical US Muslims?

    A study appears to contradict common perceptions about US Muslims; Reuters:

    American Muslims are becoming more involved with their communities and U.S. politics while drifting away from the stricter interpretations of their faith, according to a study released Tuesday.

    About 38 percent of those surveyed said they adapted their faith to the demands of modern life, while only 8 percent said they abided by strict, traditionalist interpretations of Islam. In general, the study found, as Muslims made more money, they followed a more flexible interpretation of their faith.

    "As the community is becoming more and more prosperous, you will see that it's becoming more and more liberal," said Muqtedar Khan, an associate professor at Adrian College, who is familiar with the study.

    Another 28 percent of respondents relied on classical schools to understand their faith and 25 percent said they followed the interpretations of classical scholars.

    The study was based on a survey of about 1,300 Muslims in 12 of the 33 mosques in Detroit and the surrounding metropolitan area. The study helps refute accusations that the Muslim American community is radical, said its lead researcher, Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky.

    "It tells the American public that mosque communities in America are not radicals. ... They are not a breeding ground for terrorists and extremists, that they are Americans that want to be involved in this country and are taking steps toward that," he said.

    Posted by Eric at 06:16 PM | Comments (14)

    Radical US Muslims?

    A study appears to contradict common perceptions about US Muslims; Reuters:

    American Muslims are becoming more involved with their communities and U.S. politics while drifting away from the stricter interpretations of their faith, according to a study released Tuesday.

    About 38 percent of those surveyed said they adapted their faith to the demands of modern life, while only 8 percent said they abided by strict, traditionalist interpretations of Islam. In general, the study found, as Muslims made more money, they followed a more flexible interpretation of their faith.

    "As the community is becoming more and more prosperous, you will see that it's becoming more and more liberal," said Muqtedar Khan, an associate professor at Adrian College, who is familiar with the study.

    Another 28 percent of respondents relied on classical schools to understand their faith and 25 percent said they followed the interpretations of classical scholars.

    The study was based on a survey of about 1,300 Muslims in 12 of the 33 mosques in Detroit and the surrounding metropolitan area. The study helps refute accusations that the Muslim American community is radical, said its lead researcher, Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky.

    "It tells the American public that mosque communities in America are not radicals. ... They are not a breeding ground for terrorists and extremists, that they are Americans that want to be involved in this country and are taking steps toward that," he said.

    Posted by Eric at 06:16 PM | Comments (4)

    April 05, 2004

    9/11 Probably Preventable

    Sigh. Says the leaders of the independent commission. NY Times:

    In a joint television interview, the commission's chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, and its vice chairman, Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic House member from Indiana, indicated that their final report this summer would find that the Sept. 11 attacks were preventable.

    They also suggested that Ms. Rice, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, would be questioned aggressively on Thursday about why the administration had not taken more action against Al Qaeda before Sept. 11, and about discrepancies between her public statements and those of Richard A. Clarke, the president's former counterterrorism chief, who has accused the administration of largely ignoring terrorist threats in 2001.

    "The whole story might have been different," Mr. Kean said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press," outlining a series of intelligence and law enforcement blunders in the months and years before the attacks.

    Posted by Eric at 06:23 AM | Comments (13)

    9/11 Probably Preventable

    Sigh. Says the leaders of the independent commission. NY Times:

    In a joint television interview, the commission's chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, and its vice chairman, Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic House member from Indiana, indicated that their final report this summer would find that the Sept. 11 attacks were preventable.

    They also suggested that Ms. Rice, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, would be questioned aggressively on Thursday about why the administration had not taken more action against Al Qaeda before Sept. 11, and about discrepancies between her public statements and those of Richard A. Clarke, the president's former counterterrorism chief, who has accused the administration of largely ignoring terrorist threats in 2001.

    "The whole story might have been different," Mr. Kean said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press," outlining a series of intelligence and law enforcement blunders in the months and years before the attacks.

    Posted by Eric at 06:23 AM | Comments (6)

    April 04, 2004

    Washington Post: "no evidence of contradiction" re: Clarke Testimony / Book

    Oh snap, biatch:

    But the broad outline of Clarke's criticism has been corroborated by a number of other former officials, congressional and commission investigators, and by Bush's admission in the 2003 Bob Woodward book "Bush at War" that he "didn't feel that sense of urgency" about Osama bin Laden before the attacks occurred.

    In addition, a review of dozens of declassified citations from Clarke's 2002 testimony provides no evidence of contradiction, and White House officials familiar with the testimony agree that any differences are matters of emphasis, not fact. Indeed, the declassified 838-page report of the 2002 congressional inquiry includes many passages that appear to bolster the arguments Clarke has made.

    For example, Rice and others in the administration have said that they implemented much more aggressive policies than those of Clarke and President Bill Clinton. Rice said the Bush team developed "a comprehensive strategy that would not just roll back al Qaeda -- which had been the policy of the Clinton administration -- but we needed a strategy to eliminate al Qaeda."

    But in 2002, Rice's deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, wrote to the joint committee that the new policy was exactly what Rice described as the old one. "The goal was to move beyond the policy of containment, criminal prosecution, and limited retaliation for specific attacks, toward attempting to 'roll back' al Qaeda."

    The joint committee's declassified report, released last July, contains dozens of quotations and references to Clarke's testimony, and none appears to contradict the former White House counterterrorism chief's testimony last month. In its July 2003 report, the congressional panel cited Clark's "uncertain mandate to coordinate Bush administration policy on terrorism and specifically on bin Laden." It also said that because Bush officials did not begin their major counterterrorism policy review until April 2001, "significant slippage in counterterrorism policy may have taken place in late 2000 and early 2001."

    Bu bu but why would the White House lie?

    Posted by Eric at 08:21 AM | Comments (16)

    Washington Post: "no evidence of contradiction" re: Clarke Testimony / Book

    Oh snap, biatch:

    But the broad outline of Clarke's criticism has been corroborated by a number of other former officials, congressional and commission investigators, and by Bush's admission in the 2003 Bob Woodward book "Bush at War" that he "didn't feel that sense of urgency" about Osama bin Laden before the attacks occurred.

    In addition, a review of dozens of declassified citations from Clarke's 2002 testimony provides no evidence of contradiction, and White House officials familiar with the testimony agree that any differences are matters of emphasis, not fact. Indeed, the declassified 838-page report of the 2002 congressional inquiry includes many passages that appear to bolster the arguments Clarke has made.

    For example, Rice and others in the administration have said that they implemented much more aggressive policies than those of Clarke and President Bill Clinton. Rice said the Bush team developed "a comprehensive strategy that would not just roll back al Qaeda -- which had been the policy of the Clinton administration -- but we needed a strategy to eliminate al Qaeda."

    But in 2002, Rice's deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, wrote to the joint committee that the new policy was exactly what Rice described as the old one. "The goal was to move beyond the policy of containment, criminal prosecution, and limited retaliation for specific attacks, toward attempting to 'roll back' al Qaeda."

    The joint committee's declassified report, released last July, contains dozens of quotations and references to Clarke's testimony, and none appears to contradict the former White House counterterrorism chief's testimony last month. In its July 2003 report, the congressional panel cited Clark's "uncertain mandate to coordinate Bush administration policy on terrorism and specifically on bin Laden." It also said that because Bush officials did not begin their major counterterrorism policy review until April 2001, "significant slippage in counterterrorism policy may have taken place in late 2000 and early 2001."

    Bu bu but why would the White House lie?

    Posted by Eric at 08:21 AM | Comments (13)

    April 02, 2004

    308,000; Unemployment rate from 5.6 to 5.7

    In latest BLS report for March.

    from CNN a note about the figure:

    Payrolls outside the farm sector grew by 308,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department reported, compared with a revised gain of 46,000 in February. The unemployment rate, which is generated by a separate survey, rose to 5.7 from 5.6 percent ... In the first quarter, payrolls grew by an average of 171,000 jobs a month, compared with average monthly gains of 60,000 in the last year's fourth quarter.

    While it would seem odd that the unemployment rate rose despite a jump in payrolls, the two numbers are generated by separate surveys. The unemployment rate comes from a survey of households, which found that 179,000 people entered the labor force in March, resulting in a higher unemployment rate.

    Economist Max Sawicky on the numbers.
    The magic number for March is a gain of 308,000, in and of itself very good news. That's how many jobs were gained according to the "Establishment Survey." By contrast, the counterpart for the less-accurate Household Survey is a loss of 3,000.

    Let's remember the big picture here. Last January, George Bush sold his tax cuts on the promise they would create an additional 1.4 million jobs by the end of this year. This job growth was on top of prior projections, linked to prior tax cuts. We got the tax cuts, but not the jobs. This recession has been a record-breaker in lackluster job growth.

    Nate Newman writes that the job stats show "that there is just a hell of a lot less work out there than before" Bush became President.

    Posted by Eric at 09:20 AM | Comments (19)

    308,000; Unemployment rate from 5.6 to 5.7

    In latest BLS report for March.

    from CNN a note about the figure:

    Payrolls outside the farm sector grew by 308,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department reported, compared with a revised gain of 46,000 in February. The unemployment rate, which is generated by a separate survey, rose to 5.7 from 5.6 percent ... In the first quarter, payrolls grew by an average of 171,000 jobs a month, compared with average monthly gains of 60,000 in the last year's fourth quarter.

    While it would seem odd that the unemployment rate rose despite a jump in payrolls, the two numbers are generated by separate surveys. The unemployment rate comes from a survey of households, which found that 179,000 people entered the labor force in March, resulting in a higher unemployment rate.

    Economist Max Sawicky on the numbers.
    The magic number for March is a gain of 308,000, in and of itself very good news. That's how many jobs were gained according to the "Establishment Survey." By contrast, the counterpart for the less-accurate Household Survey is a loss of 3,000.

    Let's remember the big picture here. Last January, George Bush sold his tax cuts on the promise they would create an additional 1.4 million jobs by the end of this year. This job growth was on top of prior projections, linked to prior tax cuts. We got the tax cuts, but not the jobs. This recession has been a record-breaker in lackluster job growth.

    Nate Newman writes that the job stats show "that there is just a hell of a lot less work out there than before" Bush became President.

    Posted by Eric at 09:20 AM | Comments (4)

    April 01, 2004

    Whistleblower: 'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes'

    From the UK Independent:

    A former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened.

    She said the claim by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that there was no such information was "an outrageous lie".

    Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a closed session with the commission's investigators providing information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".

    She told The Independent yesterday: "I gave [the commission] details of specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target information, specific managers in charge of the investigation. I gave them everything so that they could go back and follow up. This is not hearsay. These are things that are documented. These things can be established very easily."

    She added: "There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used but not specifically about how they would be used and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities with skyscrapers."

    Posted by Eric at 10:09 PM | Comments (68)

    Whistleblower: 'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes'

    From the UK Independent:

    A former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened.

    She said the claim by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that there was no such information was "an outrageous lie".

    Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a closed session with the commission's investigators providing information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".

    She told The Independent yesterday: "I gave [the commission] details of specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target information, specific managers in charge of the investigation. I gave them everything so that they could go back and follow up. This is not hearsay. These are things that are documented. These things can be established very easily."

    She added: "There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used but not specifically about how they would be used and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities with skyscrapers."

    Posted by Eric at 10:09 PM | Comments (6)

    March 28, 2004

    Military Families Say Army Headed For Retention Problem

    Caused, of course, by the Iraqi war, reports WP.

    Posted by Eric at 07:03 AM | Comments (4)

    Military Families Say Army Headed For Retention Problem

    Caused, of course, by the Iraqi war, reports WP.

    Posted by Eric at 07:03 AM | Comments (1)

    March 25, 2004

    Republicans Love the Troops

    I guess, in their own special, lack-of-funding way. From the CAP's Progress Report:

    The Army Times reports the conservative-dominated House Budget Committee "was determined March 17 to just say no when Democrats offered a slew of ways to improve military pay and benefits by cutting tax breaks for the wealthy." Conservatives on the committee rejected a proposal that would have provided "$1 billion for expanding health-care benefits for reservists and their families; $1 billion to improve military housing; $350 million for targeted pay raises for enlisted members; $141 million in danger pay and family separation allowance increases; $50 million to improve family support programs for reservists; $14 million for public schools near military bases that teach many military dependents."

    Posted by Eric at 04:59 PM | Comments (48)

    Republicans Love the Troops

    I guess, in their own special, lack-of-funding way. From the CAP's Progress Report:

    The Army Times reports the conservative-dominated House Budget Committee "was determined March 17 to just say no when Democrats offered a slew of ways to improve military pay and benefits by cutting tax breaks for the wealthy." Conservatives on the committee rejected a proposal that would have provided "$1 billion for expanding health-care benefits for reservists and their families; $1 billion to improve military housing; $350 million for targeted pay raises for enlisted members; $141 million in danger pay and family separation allowance increases; $50 million to improve family support programs for reservists; $14 million for public schools near military bases that teach many military dependents."

    Posted by Eric at 04:59 PM | Comments (37)

    March 24, 2004

    Clarke: We failed you'

    Statement to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, from NBC:

    In his opening statement before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Clarke told relatives of victims in the audience: Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you.

    Although I continued to say it [terrorism] was an urgent problem, I dont think it was ever treated that way by the Bush administration before Sept. 11, he said.

    Posted by Eric at 03:22 PM | Comments (21)

    Clarke: We failed you'

    Statement to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, from NBC:

    In his opening statement before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Clarke told relatives of victims in the audience: Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you.

    Although I continued to say it [terrorism] was an urgent problem, I dont think it was ever treated that way by the Bush administration before Sept. 11, he said.

    Posted by Eric at 03:22 PM | Comments (2)

    March 23, 2004

    Outsourcing

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a series on outsourcing, which looks at both the American and overseas aspect (India) of the practice. Also, it includes this which gets to the obvious heart of why companies are outsourcing:

    At 24/7, the workers are predominantly college graduates, yet earn a starting wage of just 10,000 rupees, or less than $60 a week.

    In the U.S., where call centers are regarded as jobs for college students, single mothers and downsized workers, the medium salary and bonus last year was $13.05 an hour, according to Mercer Human Resources Consulting. That's $520 for a 40-hour week -- nine times the Indian pay.

    The tremors from this wage difference are being felt 8,300 miles away in southwestern Pennsylvania, where development officials once chased call centers as a growth industry because of the region's relatively neutral accents and available labor pool.

    Posted by Eric at 02:16 PM | Comments (20)

    Outsourcing

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a series on outsourcing, which looks at both the American and overseas aspect (India) of the practice. Also, it includes this which gets to the obvious heart of why companies are outsourcing:

    At 24/7, the workers are predominantly college graduates, yet earn a starting wage of just 10,000 rupees, or less than $60 a week.

    In the U.S., where call centers are regarded as jobs for college students, single mothers and downsized workers, the medium salary and bonus last year was $13.05 an hour, according to Mercer Human Resources Consulting. That's $520 for a 40-hour week -- nine times the Indian pay.

    The tremors from this wage difference are being felt 8,300 miles away in southwestern Pennsylvania, where development officials once chased call centers as a growth industry because of the region's relatively neutral accents and available labor pool.

    Posted by Eric at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

    March 22, 2004

    Internal Docs Show Bush Didn't Make Anti-Terrorism Top Priority

    The Center for American Progress, doing a great job in its first year, has documents illustrating, "actually reversed the Clinton Administration's strong emphasis on counterterrorism and counterintelligence. Attorney General John Ashcroft not only moved aggressively to reduce DoJ's anti-terrorist budget but also shift DoJ's mission in spirit to emphasize its role as a domestic police force and anti-drug force." Check them out for yourself.

    Posted by Eric at 03:49 PM | Comments (6)

    Internal Docs Show Bush Didn't Make Anti-Terrorism Top Priority

    The Center for American Progress, doing a great job in its first year, has documents illustrating, "actually reversed the Clinton Administration's strong emphasis on counterterrorism and counterintelligence. Attorney General John Ashcroft not only moved aggressively to reduce DoJ's anti-terrorist budget but also shift DoJ's mission in spirit to emphasize its role as a domestic police force and anti-drug force." Check them out for yourself.

    Posted by Eric at 03:49 PM | Comments (1)

    March 04, 2004

    44 Million Uninsured Americans?

    Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson defended the Bush administration, and talked about the 44 million uninsured Americans:

    Fresh from a two-day weekend visit to Iraq, the Bush administration's top health-care official defended the $950 million that will be spent to help Iraq establish universal health care.

    Congressional Democrats have criticized the administration for helping Iraq to establish universal health care without doing the same for U.S. citizens.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said yesterday there are major differences between the two countries that defy simple comparisons.

    "Even if you don't have health insurance," said Thompson, who toured medical facilities in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Tikrit on Saturday and Sunday, "you are still taken care of in America. That certainly could be defined as universal coverage. Every American's health care is far superior to what the health care is in Iraq."

    Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, responded yesterday, saying the U.S. system doesn't sufficiently meet the needs of 44 million uninsured Americans.

    Posted by Eric at 02:33 PM | Comments (31)

    44 Million Uninsured Americans?

    Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson defended the Bush administration, and talked about the 44 million uninsured Americans:

    Fresh from a two-day weekend visit to Iraq, the Bush administration's top health-care official defended the $950 million that will be spent to help Iraq establish universal health care.

    Congressional Democrats have criticized the administration for helping Iraq to establish universal health care without doing the same for U.S. citizens.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said yesterday there are major differences between the two countries that defy simple comparisons.

    "Even if you don't have health insurance," said Thompson, who toured medical facilities in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Tikrit on Saturday and Sunday, "you are still taken care of in America. That certainly could be defined as universal coverage. Every American's health care is far superior to what the health care is in Iraq."

    Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, responded yesterday, saying the U.S. system doesn't sufficiently meet the needs of 44 million uninsured Americans.

    Posted by Eric at 02:33 PM | Comments (26)

    March 03, 2004

    Wilson Naming Names

    And releasing new book about the whole 'Plamegate' scandal with Novak and the White House.

    From AP:

    - Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson will reveal the name of the person he thinks leaked his wife's identity as an undercover CIA (news - web sites) officer in a book due out in May, his publisher said Tuesday.

    Publication of the book and Wilson's accompanying promotional tour could have political overtones because he is now a foreign policy adviser to Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry (news - web sites). Democrats are seeking to raise questions of credibility in the minds of voters about the reasons President Bush (news - web sites) went to war.

    Wilson did not return telephone calls seeking comment for this story. He has previously contended that White House political adviser Karl Rove condoned the leak but was not the actual leaker.

    Posted by Eric at 10:42 AM | Comments (25)

    Wilson Naming Names

    And releasing new book about the whole 'Plamegate' scandal with Novak and the White House.

    From AP:

    - Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson will reveal the name of the person he thinks leaked his wife's identity as an undercover CIA (news - web sites) officer in a book due out in May, his publisher said Tuesday.

    Publication of the book and Wilson's accompanying promotional tour could have political overtones because he is now a foreign policy adviser to Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry (news - web sites). Democrats are seeking to raise questions of credibility in the minds of voters about the reasons President Bush (news - web sites) went to war.

    Wilson did not return telephone calls seeking comment for this story. He has previously contended that White House political adviser Karl Rove condoned the leak but was not the actual leaker.

    Posted by Eric at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

    March 02, 2004

    Troop Returns Bring Psychological Scars

    From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, not all victims of war have physical scars:

    Now, as the one-year anniversary of the war in Iraq approaches, troops are trickling home. And like all soldiers who've seen combat, they're coming home changed.

    Some return with obvious wounds of war: a wheelchair, prosthetic foot, maybe half an arm. But for others, the injuries remain invisible, tucked in a corner of the brain where images of violence and panic are imprinted on their memories.

    Like those whose wounds are exposed, they, too, may suffer flashbacks, disturbing dreams, depression and anxiety. They may use alcohol or drugs to help forget.

    Exposure to violence in Iraq exceeds that of any of the nation's conflicts since Vietnam. As this generation of soldiers leaves the battlefield for better days, they too will be left to cope with hidden scars from serving their country.

    Just how severe and widespread the emotional wounds will be is difficult to predict, experts say. After all, it's early.

    As of now, according to the Pentagon, 10% "of troops evacuated from Iraq war zone to a hospital in Germany who were being treated for psychological reasons."

    Posted by Eric at 09:24 AM | Comments (13)

    Troop Returns Bring Psychological Scars

    From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, not all victims of war have physical scars:

    Now, as the one-year anniversary of the war in Iraq approaches, troops are trickling home. And like all soldiers who've seen combat, they're coming home changed.

    Some return with obvious wounds of war: a wheelchair, prosthetic foot, maybe half an arm. But for others, the injuries remain invisible, tucked in a corner of the brain where images of violence and panic are imprinted on their memories.

    Like those whose wounds are exposed, they, too, may suffer flashbacks, disturbing dreams, depression and anxiety. They may use alcohol or drugs to help forget.

    Exposure to violence in Iraq exceeds that of any of the nation's conflicts since Vietnam. As this generation of soldiers leaves the battlefield for better days, they too will be left to cope with hidden scars from serving their country.

    Just how severe and widespread the emotional wounds will be is difficult to predict, experts say. After all, it's early.

    As of now, according to the Pentagon, 10% "of troops evacuated from Iraq war zone to a hospital in Germany who were being treated for psychological reasons."

    Posted by Eric at 09:24 AM | Comments (3)

    February 24, 2004

    Bush Backs Gay Marriage Ban

    Says he's "troubled by what I've seen" in SF and wants to preserve "most basic social institutions." From CNN:

    "Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass and to send to the states for ratification an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as the union of a man and woman as husband and wife," Bush said.

    "The amendment should fully protect marriage while leaving state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage," Bush said.

    "America is a free society, which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens," he said. "This commitment of freedom, however, does not require the redefining of one of our most basic social institutions."

    "Our government should respect every person and respect the institution of marriage," he said. "There is no contradiction between these responsibilities."

    Posted by Eric at 11:18 AM | Comments (28)

    Bush Backs Gay Marriage Ban

    Says he's "troubled by what I've seen" in SF and wants to preserve "most basic social institutions." From CNN:

    "Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass and to send to the states for ratification an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as the union of a man and woman as husband and wife," Bush said.

    "The amendment should fully protect marriage while leaving state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage," Bush said.

    "America is a free society, which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens," he said. "This commitment of freedom, however, does not require the redefining of one of our most basic social institutions."

    "Our government should respect every person and respect the institution of marriage," he said. "There is no contradiction between these responsibilities."

    Posted by Eric at 11:18 AM | Comments (28)

    February 21, 2004

    Bush Picks Pryor

    Attorney General William Pryor of Alabama has been appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Bush "used a weeklong Congressional recess to install William H. Pryor Jr., the Alabama attorney general, in a federal appeals court seat to get around a Democratic filibuster that had blocked the nomination." From PFAW:

    President Bush keeps finding new ways to demonstrate his contempt for our system of checks and balances and his disrespect for the Senates constitutional role of advise and consent on nominations to the federal courts, not to mention Americans fundamental rights and liberties. It is hard to recall another president who has been so willing to treat the federal judiciary as a partisan political weapon.

    The questionable recess appointment of William Pryor is unfortunately only the latest in a series of moves by the Bush White House calculated to create political confrontation over judges rather than genuine bipartisan dialogue and cooperation. Apparently White House political strategists have decided that the president needs to shore up his disgruntled political base, and that an in-your-face appointment of a right-wing ideologue to the federal bench will help rally the troops.

    So what about Pryor does PFAW, a liberal advocacy group, find reprehensible? Among some of the things in their report on Pryor:
    Pryor has offered steadfast support inside the court and out for a state judge who has officially sponsored sectarian prayers in the courtroom before juries and who has installed religious displays of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and in the state judicial building. Pryor has outspokenly deplored rulings by the courts to uphold the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

    Pryor has called Roe v. Wade the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history and has supported efforts to erect unconstitutional barriers to the exercise of reproductive freedom. He defended a partial-birth abortion ban in Alabama, although it lacked the constitutionally required exception to protect the health of the pregnant woman.

    Pryor believes that it is constitutional to imprison gay men and lesbians for having sex in the privacy of their own homes, and has filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold Texas Homosexual Conduct law, which criminalizes such conduct. Pryor believes that singling out gay men and lesbians in this manner does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the same brief, Pryor equated for purposes of legal analysis sex between two adults of the same gender with activities like prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia

    Pryor has criticized as political correctness the Supreme Courts ruling that the denial of admission to women by the Virginia Military Institute, a public, taxpayer-supported institution, violated womens rights to equal protection.

    Posted by Eric at 03:41 AM | Comments (150)

    Bush Picks Pryor

    Attorney General William Pryor of Alabama has been appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Bush "used a weeklong Congressional recess to install William H. Pryor Jr., the Alabama attorney general, in a federal appeals court seat to get around a Democratic filibuster that had blocked the nomination." From PFAW:

    President Bush keeps finding new ways to demonstrate his contempt for our system of checks and balances and his disrespect for the Senates constitutional role of advise and consent on nominations to the federal courts, not to mention Americans fundamental rights and liberties. It is hard to recall another president who has been so willing to treat the federal judiciary as a partisan political weapon.

    The questionable recess appointment of William Pryor is unfortunately only the latest in a series of moves by the Bush White House calculated to create political confrontation over judges rather than genuine bipartisan dialogue and cooperation. Apparently White House political strategists have decided that the president needs to shore up his disgruntled political base, and that an in-your-face appointment of a right-wing ideologue to the federal bench will help rally the troops.

    So what about Pryor does PFAW, a liberal advocacy group, find reprehensible? Among some of the things in their report on Pryor:
    Pryor has offered steadfast support inside the court and out for a state judge who has officially sponsored sectarian prayers in the courtroom before juries and who has installed religious displays of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and in the state judicial building. Pryor has outspokenly deplored rulings by the courts to uphold the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

    Pryor has called Roe v. Wade the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history and has supported efforts to erect unconstitutional barriers to the exercise of reproductive freedom. He defended a partial-birth abortion ban in Alabama, although it lacked the constitutionally required exception to protect the health of the pregnant woman.

    Pryor believes that it is constitutional to imprison gay men and lesbians for having sex in the privacy of their own homes, and has filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold Texas Homosexual Conduct law, which criminalizes such conduct. Pryor believes that singling out gay men and lesbians in this manner does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the same brief, Pryor equated for purposes of legal analysis sex between two adults of the same gender with activities like prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia

    Pryor has criticized as political correctness the Supreme Courts ruling that the denial of admission to women by the Virginia Military Institute, a public, taxpayer-supported institution, violated womens rights to equal protection.

    Posted by Eric at 03:41 AM | Comments (5)

    February 19, 2004

    $7 trillion!

    That's alright, I'll take care of it ... but JUST THIS TIME.

    The U.S. governments national debt the accumulation of past budget shortfalls totaled more than $7 trillion for the first time as of Tuesday, according to a Treasury Department report.

    In its daily financial statement released Wednesday, the Treasury said the U.S. debt subject to a congressionally set limit totaled $7.015 trillion, up from $6.983 trillion Friday. The government was closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

    While passing the $7 trillion mark itself has little practical significance, not unlike a cars odometer rolling over, it may signal some tough political times for President Bushs administration on fiscal policy.

    The government debt ceiling stands only a few hundred billion dollars ahead at $7.384 trillion, and the Treasury would need Congresss blessing to borrow beyond that. Treasury officials say they expect the limit to be hit sometime between June and October.

    And in this election year, Democrats may also use the $7 trillion figure to assail Bushs tax policy and the federal deficits on his watch. Budget shortfalls are met by borrowing. In 2003, the federal budget gap was a record $374.25 billion and a larger one is expected this fiscal year. Bush blames the deficits on a sluggish economy and needed spending on security and defense.

    7 trillion!

    Posted by Eric at 04:52 AM | Comments (14)

    $7 trillion!

    That's alright, I'll take care of it ... but JUST THIS TIME.

    The U.S. governments national debt the accumulation of past budget shortfalls totaled more than $7 trillion for the first time as of Tuesday, according to a Treasury Department report.

    In its daily financial statement released Wednesday, the Treasury said the U.S. debt subject to a congressionally set limit totaled $7.015 trillion, up from $6.983 trillion Friday. The government was closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

    While passing the $7 trillion mark itself has little practical significance, not unlike a cars odometer rolling over, it may signal some tough political times for President Bushs administration on fiscal policy.

    The government debt ceiling stands only a few hundred billion dollars ahead at $7.384 trillion, and the Treasury would need Congresss blessing to borrow beyond that. Treasury officials say they expect the limit to be hit sometime between June and October.

    And in this election year, Democrats may also use the $7 trillion figure to assail Bushs tax policy and the federal deficits on his watch. Budget shortfalls are met by borrowing. In 2003, the federal budget gap was a record $374.25 billion and a larger one is expected this fiscal year. Bush blames the deficits on a sluggish economy and needed spending on security and defense.

    7 trillion!

    Posted by Eric at 04:52 AM | Comments (3)

    Nobel Laureates, National Medal of Science Recipients, and Other Leading Researchers Call for End to Scientific Abuses by Bush

    "Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, former federal agency directors and university chairs and presidents" accused the Bush administration of having "suppressed and distorted scientific analysis from federal agencies, and taken actions that have undermined the quality of scientific advisory panels." In their press release:

    One example cited in the statement and report involves the suppression of an EPA study that found the bipartisan Senate Clear Air bill would do more to reduce mercury contamination in fish and prevent more deaths than the administration's proposed Clear Skies Act. This is akin to the White House directing the National Weather Service to alter a hurricane forecast because they want everyone to think we have clear skies ahead, said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists The hurricane is still coming, but without factual information no one will be ready for it.

    Comparing President Bush with his father, George H.W. Bush and former president Richard M. Nixon, the statement warned that had these former presidents similarly dismissed science in favor of political ends, over 200,000 deaths and millions of respiratory and cardiovascular disease cases would not have been prevented with the signing of the original Clean Air Act and the 1990 amendments to that Act.

    The statement demands that the Bush administrations distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease and calls for Congressional oversight hearings, guaranteed public access to government scientific studies and other measures to prevent such abuses in the future. The statement further calls on the scientific, engineering and medical communities to work together to reestablish scientific integrity in the policymaking process.

    A PDF of their report can be found here.

    Posted by Eric at 04:37 AM | Comments (47)

    Nobel Laureates, National Medal of Science Recipients, and Other Leading Researchers Call for End to Scientific Abuses by Bush

    "Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, former federal agency directors and university chairs and presidents" accused the Bush administration of having "suppressed and distorted scientific analysis from federal agencies, and taken actions that have undermined the quality of scientific advisory panels." In their press release:

    One example cited in the statement and report involves the suppression of an EPA study that found the bipartisan Senate Clear Air bill would do more to reduce mercury contamination in fish and prevent more deaths than the administration's proposed Clear Skies Act. This is akin to the White House directing the National Weather Service to alter a hurricane forecast because they want everyone to think we have clear skies ahead, said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists The hurricane is still coming, but without factual information no one will be ready for it.

    Comparing President Bush with his father, George H.W. Bush and former president Richard M. Nixon, the statement warned that had these former presidents similarly dismissed science in favor of political ends, over 200,000 deaths and millions of respiratory and cardiovascular disease cases would not have been prevented with the signing of the original Clean Air Act and the 1990 amendments to that Act.

    The statement demands that the Bush administrations distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease and calls for Congressional oversight hearings, guaranteed public access to government scientific studies and other measures to prevent such abuses in the future. The statement further calls on the scientific, engineering and medical communities to work together to reestablish scientific integrity in the policymaking process.

    A PDF of their report can be found here.

    Posted by Eric at 04:37 AM | Comments (17)

    February 18, 2004

    Bush Deeply Troubled by Marrying Gays

    According to recent statement from the White House. AP:

    The White House says today's Massachusetts court ruling on gay marriage is "deeply troubling."

    And it's again raising the possibility of a constituional amendment barring same-sex marriages.

    The state's highest court has found that civil unions aren't good enough -- equal marriage rights for gay couples are what's called for under the Massachusetts constitution.

    Press Secretary Scott McClellan says the White House is reviewing the decision.

    But he says it's just the kind of meddling by "activist" judges President Bush warned about in his State of the Union speech. Bush said if such rulings continue, a constitutional amendment may be needed.

    Posted by Eric at 12:34 PM | Comments (74)

    Bush Deeply Troubled by Marrying Gays

    According to recent statement from the White House. AP:

    The White House says today's Massachusetts court ruling on gay marriage is "deeply troubling."

    And it's again raising the possibility of a constituional amendment barring same-sex marriages.

    The state's highest court has found that civil unions aren't good enough -- equal marriage rights for gay couples are what's called for under the Massachusetts constitution.

    Press Secretary Scott McClellan says the White House is reviewing the decision.

    But he says it's just the kind of meddling by "activist" judges President Bush warned about in his State of the Union speech. Bush said if such rulings continue, a constitutional amendment may be needed.

    Posted by Eric at 12:34 PM | Comments (25)

    February 11, 2004

    EPA Refuses to Update Illegal Pollution Penalties

    And it costs taxpayers money. From USPIRG:

    "By failing to adequately enforce environmental laws and stalling mandatory increases in fines for violators, the Bush administration is shortchanging the environment twice," said U.S. PIRG Environmental Advocate Richard Caplan. "The administration not only requires fewer polluters to pay fines for illegal pollution, but it allows polluters who are fined to pay less."

    Congress requires EPA to adjust the maximum civil penalty amounts for inflation every four years. EPA failed to meet its last deadline, October 2000, and has yet to implement an adjusted penalty. U.S. PIRG estimates that this delay amounts to a $39 million windfall for polluters.

    U.S. PIRG brought this issue to the attention of the agency in January 2003, when EPA told the press that they were "looking to get this in place" and would "propose a new inflation factor next week." Environmentalists point to this failure to update penalties and collect fines that are owed as another example of the administration's failure to protect the environment. The budget released this week by the White House contains sharp cuts for enforcement at EPA for the fourth straight year.

    "EPA should put its money where its mouth is," said Caplan. "The Bush administration should do its job and enforce the law."

    Posted by Eric at 10:21 PM | Comments (105)

    EPA Refuses to Update Illegal Pollution Penalties

    And it costs taxpayers money. From USPIRG:

    "By failing to adequately enforce environmental laws and stalling mandatory increases in fines for violators, the Bush administration is shortchanging the environment twice," said U.S. PIRG Environmental Advocate Richard Caplan. "The administration not only requires fewer polluters to pay fines for illegal pollution, but it allows polluters who are fined to pay less."

    Congress requires EPA to adjust the maximum civil penalty amounts for inflation every four years. EPA failed to meet its last deadline, October 2000, and has yet to implement an adjusted penalty. U.S. PIRG estimates that this delay amounts to a $39 million windfall for polluters.

    U.S. PIRG brought this issue to the attention of the agency in January 2003, when EPA told the press that they were "looking to get this in place" and would "propose a new inflation factor next week." Environmentalists point to this failure to update penalties and collect fines that are owed as another example of the administration's failure to protect the environment. The budget released this week by the White House contains sharp cuts for enforcement at EPA for the fourth straight year.

    "EPA should put its money where its mouth is," said Caplan. "The Bush administration should do its job and enforce the law."

    Posted by Eric at 10:21 PM | Comments (8)

    February 06, 2004

    DontAmend.com

    DontAmend.com

    Posted by Eric at 02:10 PM | Comments (4)

    DontAmend.com

    DontAmend.com

    Posted by Eric at 02:10 PM | Comments (2)

    February 03, 2004

    How Textbook Makers Ripoff College Kids

    From USPIRG, we find what college kids already know: textbook makers rip off college kids. How? Start quotes from the report ...

    Textbook Publishers Add Bells and Whistles that Inflate the Price of Textbooks; Most Faculty Do Not Use These Materials
    Half of all textbooks now come "bundled"or shrink-wrapped with additional instructional materials, such as CD-ROMs and workbooks.
    More than 65 percent of the faculty surveyed for the report say they "rarely" or "never" use the bundled materials in their courses.

    Textbook Publishers Put New Editions on the Market Frequently, Often With Very Few Content Changes, Making Less Expensive Used Textbooks Obsolete and Unavailable
    Publishers keep textbook editions on the shelf for an average of only 3.5 years before updating them.
    Seventy-six percent of faculty surveyed said that the new editions they use are justified only half the time or less.
    More than 59 percent of students who searched for a used book for the fall 2003 quarter/semester were unable to find even one used book for their classes, and were forced to pay an average of $102.44 for a new book, versus an average of $64.80 for a used book.

    among other things.

    Posted by Eric at 01:29 AM | Comments (33)

    How Textbook Makers Ripoff College Kids

    From USPIRG, we find what college kids already know: textbook makers rip off college kids. How? Start quotes from the report ...

    Textbook Publishers Add Bells and Whistles that Inflate the Price of Textbooks; Most Faculty Do Not Use These Materials
    Half of all textbooks now come "bundled"or shrink-wrapped with additional instructional materials, such as CD-ROMs and workbooks.
    More than 65 percent of the faculty surveyed for the report say they "rarely" or "never" use the bundled materials in their courses.

    Textbook Publishers Put New Editions on the Market Frequently, Often With Very Few Content Changes, Making Less Expensive Used Textbooks Obsolete and Unavailable
    Publishers keep textbook editions on the shelf for an average of only 3.5 years before updating them.
    Seventy-six percent of faculty surveyed said that the new editions they use are justified only half the time or less.
    More than 59 percent of students who searched for a used book for the fall 2003 quarter/semester were unable to find even one used book for their classes, and were forced to pay an average of $102.44 for a new book, versus an average of $64.80 for a used book.

    among other things.

    Posted by Eric at 01:29 AM | Comments (8)

    January 30, 2004

    500 Billion!

    500 Billion!!

    President Bush's new budget projects the Medicare overhaul he just signed will be one-third more costly than estimated and this year's federal deficit will surge past a half trillion dollars (aka 500 billion!! --hamster) for the first time, administration and congressional officials said Thursday.

    The White House will estimate the cost of creating prescription drug benefits and revamping the mammoth health-care program for the elderly and disabled at $534 billion (over 500 billion!! ---hamster) for the decade that ends in 2013, the officials said. The number will be in the 2005 budget Bush proposes Monday.

    500 billion!

    Posted by Eric at 01:40 AM | Comments (43)

    500 Billion!

    500 Billion!!

    President Bush's new budget projects the Medicare overhaul he just signed will be one-third more costly than estimated and this year's federal deficit will surge past a half trillion dollars (aka 500 billion!! --hamster) for the first time, administration and congressional officials said Thursday.

    The White House will estimate the cost of creating prescription drug benefits and revamping the mammoth health-care program for the elderly and disabled at $534 billion (over 500 billion!! ---hamster) for the decade that ends in 2013, the officials said. The number will be in the 2005 budget Bush proposes Monday.

    500 billion!

    Posted by Eric at 01:40 AM | Comments (17)

    January 23, 2004

    National Guard Exodus

    Turnover rate increasing, in USA Today:

    A recent survey of 5,000 soldiers from 15 states showed that the rate at which Army Guard members choose to leave the military could jump to 20-22% a year among those who have served long overseas tours, typically 12 months ... Norbert Ryan, president of the Military Officers Association of America, an advocacy group in Alexandria, Va., says the National Guard and the Army Reserve are both trying to "get out ahead of this issue" to prevent a troop drain.

    Ryan says part-time and full-time soldiers are being deployed so often because the active-duty military is too small. Ryan points to a recent survey in the Navy Times newspaper that showed 8 out of 10 U.S. troops say the force is "stretched too thin."

    "Unless things get rosy in the next six months, people are going to leave," Ryan says. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld opposes increasing the size of the active-duty military, insisting it is unnecessary.

    Posted by Eric at 07:08 AM | Comments (2)

    National Guard Exodus

    Turnover rate increasing, in USA Today:

    A recent survey of 5,000 soldiers from 15 states showed that the rate at which Army Guard members choose to leave the military could jump to 20-22% a year among those who have served long overseas tours, typically 12 months ... Norbert Ryan, president of the Military Officers Association of America, an advocacy group in Alexandria, Va., says the National Guard and the Army Reserve are both trying to "get out ahead of this issue" to prevent a troop drain.

    Ryan says part-time and full-time soldiers are being deployed so often because the active-duty military is too small. Ryan points to a recent survey in the Navy Times newspaper that showed 8 out of 10 U.S. troops say the force is "stretched too thin."

    "Unless things get rosy in the next six months, people are going to leave," Ryan says. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld opposes increasing the size of the active-duty military, insisting it is unnecessary.

    Posted by Eric at 07:08 AM | Comments (0)

    January 22, 2004

    Medicare and Minorities

    If you ever wanted a report detailing the impact of Medicare cuts by the Bush administration on minorities, especially African-Americans, look no further than here. Report prepared by the Democratic Whip's office and Congressional Black Caucus.

    58% of African American Medicare recipients do not have coverage beyond Medicare, as compared to only 21% of white beneficiaries. As a result, when medicare beneficiaries are used up (more likely with AA), AA are left without insurance.

    Posted by Eric at 02:45 PM | Comments (10)

    Medicare and Minorities

    If you ever wanted a report detailing the impact of Medicare cuts by the Bush administration on minorities, especially African-Americans, look no further than here. Report prepared by the Democratic Whip's office and Congressional Black Caucus.

    58% of African American Medicare recipients do not have coverage beyond Medicare, as compared to only 21% of white beneficiaries. As a result, when medicare beneficiaries are used up (more likely with AA), AA are left without insurance.

    Posted by Eric at 02:45 PM | Comments (2)

    January 19, 2004

    40 Hour Work Week?

    Uh, hey, wha' happened?

    For many if not most professionals today, Balak said, working in excess of 40 hours a week "is expected. You don't have an option."

    Recent government surveys appear to contradict Balak. They show the amount of weekly hours put in by full-time workers has remained virtually unchanged since the mid-1970s 43 hours then, 42.9 hours now.

    But there is more to it than meets the eye because the surveys include both salaried and hourly workers. An unpublished U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study, for example, finds that those in administrative, managerial and executive occupations spent an average of 45 hours at work each week in 2002.

    Hourly workers, who must by law be paid time-and-a-half for overtime, tend to work about 40 hours a week, just as they did in the '70s. It's among the growing number of salaried workers who aren't eligible for overtime where the extra hours largely are being worked.

    Currently, about 50 million U.S. employees are not eligible for overtime; about 71 million are eligible.

    Posted by Eric at 04:26 AM | Comments (4)

    40 Hour Work Week?

    Uh, hey, wha' happened?

    For many if not most professionals today, Balak said, working in excess of 40 hours a week "is expected. You don't have an option."

    Recent government surveys appear to contradict Balak. They show the amount of weekly hours put in by full-time workers has remained virtually unchanged since the mid-1970s 43 hours then, 42.9 hours now.

    But there is more to it than meets the eye because the surveys include both salaried and hourly workers. An unpublished U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study, for example, finds that those in administrative, managerial and executive occupations spent an average of 45 hours at work each week in 2002.

    Hourly workers, who must by law be paid time-and-a-half for overtime, tend to work about 40 hours a week, just as they did in the '70s. It's among the growing number of salaried workers who aren't eligible for overtime where the extra hours largely are being worked.

    Currently, about 50 million U.S. employees are not eligible for overtime; about 71 million are eligible.

    Posted by Eric at 04:26 AM | Comments (3)

    January 17, 2004

    Halliburton Gets More Iraq Work

    In other news, the sun rose in the east. WP:

    Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee and a leading critic of the KBR fuel contract, called the new award yesterday "mind-boggling."

    "It's special treatment to reward the company with yet another contract in the face of all these unresolved questions," he said in a prepared statement.

    David J. Lesar, chief executive of Halliburton, a position that Dick Cheney held from 1995 to 2000, said the new contract "validated" the work KBR has already done. KBR was awarded more than $2.2 billion under the no-bid contract.

    "We were chosen because we were the best qualified with a proven track record of the ability to perform," Lesar said in a prepared statement.

    Hahahaha ... that joke never gets old.

    Posted by Eric at 07:52 AM | Comments (12)

    Halliburton Gets More Iraq Work

    In other news, the sun rose in the east. WP:

    Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee and a leading critic of the KBR fuel contract, called the new award yesterday "mind-boggling."

    "It's special treatment to reward the company with yet another contract in the face of all these unresolved questions," he said in a prepared statement.

    David J. Lesar, chief executive of Halliburton, a position that Dick Cheney held from 1995 to 2000, said the new contract "validated" the work KBR has already done. KBR was awarded more than $2.2 billion under the no-bid contract.

    "We were chosen because we were the best qualified with a proven track record of the ability to perform," Lesar said in a prepared statement.

    Hahahaha ... that joke never gets old.

    Posted by Eric at 07:52 AM | Comments (8)

    Bush and MLK Jr.

    Calpundit on how Bush is celebrating this MLK Jr. weekend ...

    BUSH AND MLK....So I see that President Bush has installed Charles Pickering on the 5th Circuit Court via a recess appointment. Pickering, of course, has been filibustered by Democrats largely because of his lamentable record on civil rights.

    But why do it today? After all, Congress has been in recess for over a month.

    Let's see: last year Bush decided to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday by announcing his opposition to affirmative action at the University of Michigan. This year he decided to appoint a judge universally reviled by civil rights groups.

    Quite a coincidence, isn't it?

    Read the PFAW fact sheet on the dude.

    Posted by Eric at 03:14 AM | Comments (29)

    Bush and MLK Jr.

    Calpundit on how Bush is celebrating this MLK Jr. weekend ...

    BUSH AND MLK....So I see that President Bush has installed Charles Pickering on the 5th Circuit Court via a recess appointment. Pickering, of course, has been filibustered by Democrats largely because of his lamentable record on civil rights.

    But why do it today? After all, Congress has been in recess for over a month.

    Let's see: last year Bush decided to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday by announcing his opposition to affirmative action at the University of Michigan. This year he decided to appoint a judge universally reviled by civil rights groups.

    Quite a coincidence, isn't it?

    Read the PFAW fact sheet on the dude.

    Posted by Eric at 03:14 AM | Comments (13)

    January 13, 2004

    Cheney Reverses Gay Marriage Stance

    Cheney's daughter, by the way, is gay. But I've always been told that political party comes first, so it's understandable. I mean, you always hear about departing CEOs or baseball players leaving to spend more time with their political party.

    Vice President Dick Cheney, who asserted during the 2000 presidential debates that the issue of gay marriage was one best left to the states, said he would support any attempt by President Bush to ban the practice .... "What an incredibly hurtful thing to do to his daughter," said Phil Wade, as he left the an MCC church in Denver. "I'm disappointed, but not surprised. It is very fitting that he follows the line of the party of exclusion."

    Posted by Eric at 06:28 PM | Comments (47)

    Cheney Reverses Gay Marriage Stance

    Cheney's daughter, by the way, is gay. But I've always been told that political party comes first, so it's understandable. I mean, you always hear about departing CEOs or baseball players leaving to spend more time with their political party.

    Vice President Dick Cheney, who asserted during the 2000 presidential debates that the issue of gay marriage was one best left to the states, said he would support any attempt by President Bush to ban the practice .... "What an incredibly hurtful thing to do to his daughter," said Phil Wade, as he left the an MCC church in Denver. "I'm disappointed, but not surprised. It is very fitting that he follows the line of the party of exclusion."

    Posted by Eric at 06:28 PM | Comments (1)

    January 12, 2004

    Those ACLU Fascists

    As Bill O'Reilly calls them ...

    "The ACLU is the most fascist organization I have seen in decades. They want to tell you how to live. They don't want to abide by the Constitution. They want to go AROUND the Constitution. They're intellectual fascists. And they use the courts as their Panzer divisions."
    Panzer, of course, is ... "German Panzer tank, armor, coat of mail, from Middle High German panzier, from Old French pancire, from pance, panche belly -- more at PAUNCH
    Date: circa 1939
    : TANK 3; specifically : a German tank of World War II - M.Websters." So yes, Bill just called them Nazis basically.

    Anyway, the ACLU is so left-wing that they're defending Rush Limbaugh.

    In a motion filed today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said state law enforcement officers violated Rush Limbaughs privacy rights by seizing the conservative radio talk show host's medical records as part of a criminal investigation involving alleged doctor-shopping.

    While this case involves the right of Rush Limbaugh to maintain the privacy of his medical records, the precedent set in this case will impact the security of medical records and the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship of every person in Florida, said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida.

    The ACLUs request to submit a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Limbaugh was filed today with the Fourth District Court of Appeal. The ACLU said in its motion that the state infringed on Floridas constitutional right to privacy when it failed to follow well-established protocol, mandated by law, when confiscating Limbaughs medical files. The organization stated that its interest in the case was to vindicate every Floridians fundamental right to privacy by ensuring that the state be required to comply with the law.

    The funny thing is if O'Reilly were in some situation where his rights were somehow compromised, the ACLU would probably defend him too (Limbaugh hates the ACLU more than anyone). That's the ACLU for you ...

    Posted by Eric at 10:06 PM | Comments (58)

    Those ACLU Fascists

    As Bill O'Reilly calls them ...

    "The ACLU is the most fascist organization I have seen in decades. They want to tell you how to live. They don't want to abide by the Constitution. They want to go AROUND the Constitution. They're intellectual fascists. And they use the courts as their Panzer divisions."
    Panzer, of course, is ... "German Panzer tank, armor, coat of mail, from Middle High German panzier, from Old French pancire, from pance, panche belly -- more at PAUNCH
    Date: circa 1939
    : TANK 3; specifically : a German tank of World War II - M.Websters." So yes, Bill just called them Nazis basically.

    Anyway, the ACLU is so left-wing that they're defending Rush Limbaugh.

    In a motion filed today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said state law enforcement officers violated Rush Limbaughs privacy rights by seizing the conservative radio talk show host's medical records as part of a criminal investigation involving alleged doctor-shopping.

    While this case involves the right of Rush Limbaugh to maintain the privacy of his medical records, the precedent set in this case will impact the security of medical records and the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship of every person in Florida, said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida.

    The ACLUs request to submit a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Limbaugh was filed today with the Fourth District Court of Appeal. The ACLU said in its motion that the state infringed on Floridas constitutional right to privacy when it failed to follow well-established protocol, mandated by law, when confiscating Limbaughs medical files. The organization stated that its interest in the case was to vindicate every Floridians fundamental right to privacy by ensuring that the state be required to comply with the law.

    The funny thing is if O'Reilly were in some situation where his rights were somehow compromised, the ACLU would probably defend him too (Limbaugh hates the ACLU more than anyone). That's the ACLU for you ...

    Posted by Eric at 10:06 PM | Comments (5)