Incarceration Nation

Carl over at Simply Left Behind, has some interesting observations about our nation's incarceration rate and the fact that Bu$sCo's new guest worker scheme will probably catapult the US prison system into third place (past the City of the Big Shoulders) population wise.

It's also interesting to note that the US has the highest incarceration rate at 680+ per 100,000 of population and the highest total incarceration at 1.96M individuals. Maybe we should call our (currently) 4th largest population group the City of Hard Time?

Incarceration Nation  >> Part 2

With A Government Like This, Who Needs An Enemy?

In an interview Tuesday, Sec. of State Condeleezza Rice defended unlimited detention of terrorist suspects, saying:
You can't allow somebody to commit the crime before you detain them, because if they commit the crime, thousands of innocent people die...
Can you believe this? She's advocating doing away with habeas corpus and changing our legal precedent to "guilty until proven innocent" all in one throw! Then, in a blinding bit idiocy, she goes on to observe that:
This is a struggle that all free countries, including the countries of Europe, share with us: how to deal with groups of people, individuals, that respect no law, that wear no uniform, that follow no regulations.
...but ignores that what makes free countries free is exactly how we treat our prisoners.

Astounding, but not in a good way.

Thanks to King of Zembla for the head's up.


That Puke O'Reilly Owes Me My 15 Minutes!

We did our part. We sent in our site. We practically begged to be placed on the list of smear merchants, and after all of that, this is all the schmuck could come up with?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again (with acknowledgements to Kevin Smith). O'Reilly is f*cking clown shoes!

Maximum Value For Your Prosecution Dollar

Previously we introduced Terminal Investigative Totals (TITs) and then demonstrated how they improve campaigns through TIT reduction. Now we tackle the issue of maximum value for your prosecution dollar with a new measure, the Prosecutorial Efficiency Quotient or PEQ. You might say that were going to take a PEQ at TITs. (Oh that's baaaadddd!)

Simply put, the PEQ is the amount of money spent on investigations to date divided by a politician's TIT. The ideal PEQ is one, of course, and when reached you can be assured that the prosecutor has worked the politician's TITs as much as possible. However, if the PEQ is over one, then the TIT is exhausted and investigations must stop.

So how do some recent prosecutions stack up? Well Bu$hCo's TIT from the 2000 election is $18.5M and the Plame-gate investigation has only spent $800K so far, yielding a PEQ of .043. This is frankly lousy, but when you consider that we already have one indictment with more to come it could be considered a measure of Patrick Fitzgerald's efficiency. At this rate the investigation could easily continue for the remaining 3 years of the current administration.

Ken Starr, on the other hand, spent $40M plus on his investigation, but Clinton's TIT (derived from the 1996 campaign) was only $3.8M. This yields a whopping PEQ value of 10.2. In other words, Ken Starr exceeded the Clinton TIT by $36M, and wasn't even able to secure an impeachment. For that much money, Starr should have been able to secure impeachments of every official in the Clinton White House!

Iraq - The Most Foolish War Since Rome Invaded Germany in 9 B.C.

This quote from the Forward Forum will be published endlessly in the Blogsphere, but I still can't resist:
For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men.
I love it! Bwahahahahaha!

Unprecedented EU Action on Secret CIA Prisons?

Now here's an interesting development. The A.P. reports that Franco Frattini, EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner, has warned that any EU nation found to have operated secret CIA prisons could have their voting rights suspended.

The issues here are that overflying the EU to transport prisoners and the presence of covert prisons violate the European Convention on Human Rights and UN Convention against Torture. But until recently most observers of the EU's investigation asserted that the EU couldn't take any definitive action against the members states.

Guess they can after all. Probably because this would be a punishment levied against an offending nation's delegation rather than against the nation itself.

I expect Bu$hCo will try to have Condi try and diffuse the situation on her European trip next week. That should be good for a few laughs.


Randy "Duke" Cunningham - A Scumbag Bites the Dust

I blogged on this scumbag last July, and now he's going down, pleading guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges:
Cunningham entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004...

...Cunningham answered "“yes, Your Honor"” when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.
Wonder if his website will show photos of "Duke in Jail"?

Thanks to The Democratic Daily for the head's up.

Heathen Money - A Totally New Kind of Sin Tax

So there's this bill before the Alabama legislature to put "God Bless America" on the license plates. No big deal, right? Red staters try to pass "God affirming" legislation all the time. But if you look closely you'll notice that you can get around publicly affirming your faith if you simply decide to get one of their custom license places, as they've been exempted from the change. Interesting...

Don't know about your state, but where I live custom license plates carry a pretty hefty price tag. Sounds to me like a whole new kind of sin tax and a really creative one at that. Maybe we could take "In God We Trust" off of half of our money. The new heathen bills would be worth only 80% of the face value of the godly bills. The possibilities are endless.

Motorcyclists apparently are exempt from having "God Bless America" printed on their license plates. Not enough space, and of course everyone knows that they're a bunch of godless rabble anyway.


Are you ready for your TSA moment?

So I'm flying back to San Francisco after the holiday, and I'm in Chicago waiting for my connection. When the plane pulls up, I notice that it's nose is corroded. Not a little but severely. Like there's a ring of corrosion a foot in diameter right in front where everyone in the gate area can see it, and this isn't some 20 year old 737. This is one of Boeing's newest, a 777 that has replaced the original plane my wife and I are supposed to be on.

Now at this point I should explain that I've become quite a nervous flyer in my old age, and this is starting to make me sweat. I'm actually thinking of not getting on the plane--abandoning our seats. I even go up to the gate agent on the pretense of ensuring that our seats are still together.

When I get up to the agent, I'm thinking furiously, Can I ask to be switched to another flight? What excuse can I use? What will they think? They'll probably call TSA, who'll spend the next 6 hours making my life miserable. What will my wife think? Finally, I chicken out and ask about the seats, but it doesn't stop there. Waiting in the boarding line, my wife can tell that I'm nervous and asks what's the matter. I tell her to walk over to the window and look at the plane. She does, sees what I'm talking about, and asks me what I'm thinking. I tell her that I don't want to fly that plane, and she (she's really decisive) drags me over to the desk to get us on the next flight while I'm busy protesting that we'll get hauled in by TSA. I mean, two people getting off a plane for "no" reason looks mighty suspicious, right?

In the end the agent feeds us some bullshit about the next two flights being totally full (they weren't), takes our boarding passes anyway, shreds them, and we end up getting to San Francisco 2 hours later than we'd planned.

Thinking about this today, I find I'm really angry about the whole thing. Why the hell would an airline put a plane into service that had obvious, physical damage? Was the plane airworthy? Probably, but does the airline simply not give a damn about their passengers? After all, 20 people were all staring and pointing at this plane's nose. And what about TSA? My first thought there was, I freakin' hate the fact that my fear of TSA almost made me get on that flight. My second thought, just as irrational, was, Hey?! What are they getting paid for if not to catch sweaty passengers who try to get off planes at the last minute.

Is this all just overblown bullshit? I don't think so. Something subtle has happened in this country. Can any of us remember a time when the fear of some kind of "blot" on your public record makes you almost ignore your own best judgment about what is a dangerous situation and what is not?

Tired Republican Revolution = Financial Disaster

George Bush talks like Newt Gingrich but spends like LBJ. The hard fiscal talk of the Republican Revolution, major initiative number 1 of the Contract with America, is lost on a Republican Party that wants to play at nation building while much of their own base labors close to the poverty line. (Not that Gingrich Republicans ever had to deal with the harsh realities of budget balancing. What with all of those Clinton-era surpluses.)

The national debt passed 8 trillion dollars last month, due mostly to Republicans raising the debt ceiling and continuing to spend money like they can print it. (In fact, rather than printing money, they simply borrow it from foreign financiers. Bu$hCo has borrowed more money from foreign interests than all presidents in history...combined!) But a time of very hard decisions is coming. A restless Republican right is starting to see how foolish they look passing budgets containing the largest deficits in US history. The problem is Republican centrists that are breaking the party's discipline. And why? Because the Republican right is maneuvering to pass budgetary cuts that will hit working-class families in Red States hard. Bush, for his part, blames congress, effectively saying, "...it's my own party's fault, but I don't control them."

The situation is untenable. Republican financial mismanagement is risking a disaster which may be unavoidable. Brian Riedl, the top Heritage Foundation economist, has projected US yearly US deficits that themselves reach almost $1 trillion by 2015. And let's be clear...the Heritage Foundation is not known for their hostility to Bu$hCo!

In the presence of a split Republican party, a president who wouldn't know fiscal responsibility if it bit him on the ass, and a budget situation that will cripple the US at a time of greatest strain (i.e., the retirement of the Baby Boomers), there is only one solution: Return Democrats to power in congress. Is this a perfect solution? Not by a long shot, but Democrats, with different budgetary priorities, will pursue homeland security...at home, avoiding the ruinous spending of overseas misadventures. They may reign in domestic spending by thinking outside of the box, and they sure-as-shit won't balk at rolling back tax cuts that provide virtually no stimulus to the economy.


Too much democracy? (the sequel)

Here's a holiday retread inspired by musings on the initiative process at Alliance for a Better CA. Everyone have a great Thanksgiving.

Our last election had 8 California ballot initiatives (4 of which nobody cared about); 9 San Francisco initiatives; Two voter guides that together measured an inch in thickness (The text of the initiatives is only about a 10th of the total print, the rest is, get this, paid positions for and against!); Hundreds of pieces of paper being dumped in my flat's entryway telling me how I should vote (but not one telling me anything I don't already know); And a non-stop onslaught of talking heads lying about the other sides real motives.

When I first moved to California, I spent hours reading through the initiatives with my wife, diligently trying make sense out of this huge morass of opinion. Now, I've begun to think that laws should be left to the legislators. That's what we elect them for, right? They get paid for this, right? I sure as hell don't.

Ballot initiative process? Sure. But it should be hard, Damn Hard, Unbelievably-FRIGGIN-HARD to get on the ballot. Direct democracy is for Greeks.


TITs Make Political Campaigns Better

Yesterday I blogged on the Terminal Investigative Total (TIT), a method for determining when any criminal investigation of a politician should be halted. Today I'll demonstrate how TITs improve political campaigns.

Since value of a politician's TIT is directly proportional to amount of money they spent in their last campaign ($1 of investigation for every $10 of campaign spending), I anticipate that many prominent politicians will engage in TIT reduction. I mean, why give your enemies prosecutorial ammunition by spending that extra 10 million on attack ads? In fact, why employ attach ads at all? It will just embolden the opposition to pursue you up to the limit of your TIT.

Now... obviously we already have campaign spending limits, though many politicians ignore them. But I claim that TITs are a much better foundation because most politicians will be reluctant to increase the size of their TIT.

Such a system would be wonderfully self-regulating. Simplicity itself.

Next, we'll take a PEQ at TITs and examine value in prosecutions.

4 Out Of 5 Lemmings Prefer SUVs

Looks like sales of large vehicles--trucks, SUVs, luxury sedans--are starting to rebound after the disastrous drops of the last two months. Guess a mere $.18 drop in the price per gallon is all it takes to drive the lemmings back to the dealerships. Even the MSM is picking up on numbers originally reported in places like AutoChannel and PIN, a JD Powers mouthpiece.

And why not? With that extra $.18 cents per gallon, thrifty lemmings will save a whole $120.00 a year--Take a couple of extra trips to the Home Depot. And what lemming wouldn't look great in the latest Hummer--safe, solid, tall enough to keep those annoying little Mini Cooper's out of your field of vision. Finally, if there is anything that a lemming likes it's warmth, and on that score you're covered. A new SUV puts 12 tons of CO2 into the air, 4 times more than some wuss-ass hybrid. Probably raise the Earth's temperature a degree all by itself.

In related news, rumors are circulating that GM may need to declare bankruptcy. So come on all you lemmings get to your dealerships. Save GM. I think that I just saw gas go down another cent.

Today Al-Jazeera, Tomorrow the N.Y. Times

I'm having a hard time believing this, but a new memo has surfaced claiming that Tony Blair had to talk Bush Co. out of bombing Al Jazeera's Qatar headquarters. Not much to say other than to observe that there seem to be no depths to which the Bush administration won't sink.

Kudos to The Corpus Callosum for picking this up late last night.


TIT - The 1 For 10 Prosecution Solution

Many pundits on the right are calling for a halt to Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation. Tucker Carlson for example, is leading a crusade to tag the investigation as a waste of time. Without examining Carlson's twisted logic or defending Fitzgerald, let me say that it's high time we had a dispassionate method for evaluating investigations, and I'd like to propose just such a method--a 1 for 10 Prosecution Solution that I refer to as the Terminal Investigative Total or TIT for short.

So Kvatch... "How does the TIT work?" you might ask. Well my friends nothing could be simpler. The TIT is designed to take the guesswork out of investigations while at the same time giving us a sense of value for our prosecution dollar. You see, the TIT is based on the target's campaign expenditures in their last election cycle. Spend $1,000,000 getting elected? Then your TIT is $100,000--$1 of TIT for each $10 spent.

Let's have an example, shall we? George Bush spent approximately $185M on the 2000 election, making his TIT worth $18.5 million. By this measure Fitzgerald's investigation ($800,000 spent so far) is a bargain that could go on for the remaining 3 years of the current administration.

So there you have it, an easily calculated, predetermined stopping point for all governmental investigations. The possibilities are breathtaking!

Next, we'll investigate how TITs can improve political campaigns.

Thanks to BHFRK at Club Lefty for the inspiration.


Do national ID cards have any value?

As always, Bruce Schneier is there with the timely post. Here he looks at the value (lack of value?) of the national ID. His blog has covered this topic pretty extensively, but the money quote this time is from Stella Rimington, Dame Commander of the Bath, the first female Director General of MI5, who calls such cards, in a word, "useless".

Impressive! Wonder if we get this woman to replace Michael Chertoff as Secretary of Homeland Security?


The Impending Iraqi Breakup (2)

I've blogged on this before, but now the N.Y. Times is reporting that sectarian hatred is causing Shiite and Sunni Muslims to abandon their formerly mixed towns for safer enclaves. In scenes reminiscent of India after self-rule, Iraq is self-segregating.

So let's recap:
  1. A population that is self-segregating to avoid violence
  2. A Iraqi military that is itself segregated (and which can't police the country anyway)
  3. A weak constitution that is a blueprint for breakup
  4. A homogeneous, well-armed Kurdish population that would like nothing more than to be on their own
Yup, all the ingredients for a full-scale shooting war, with our troops in the middle. So Rumy, where did you put that secret plan for getting the U.S. out?

For Diebold California Is The New Ohio

The Raw Story is covering the Diebold re-certification mess. Seems the Voting System Panel (CA's voting system certification authority) has been disbanded on the eve of a public commentary.

Anybody else think this smells fishier than a sushi joint in a heat wave?

Other juicy tidbits include the fact that the Secretary of State's office is providing a tape recorder and stenographer in case the public wants to comment anyway... with nobody freakin' listening! Also, is seems that only re-certification test done so far was conducted in secret, in violation of state law, by a consultant who may not be impartial.

Looks like Diebold really, Really, REALLY wants to be our voting system. And I so love those little arrow sheets we use in SF.


Scanlon's Been Charged - Delicious Political Poetry

With "representative 1" and "lobbyist A",
Scanlon's as tasty as Delay

[smack] [smack] Hat tip to Can of Worms for the head's up.

[11/20/2005 9:10p PST]

After reading the N.Y. Times article on who many get entangled in this affair, I just had to add:

Pombo, Feeney, Burns, and Ney,
Took the dough and slunk away.

But Scanlon's going to cop a plea
And reps aren't likely to get free.

Arrrgggghhh, that's bad! Stop me before I again put fingers to keys.

Nation Building (2) - A Cork in a Terrorist Bottle

Salon has a great piece by Sidney Blumenthal (sorry...ad or subscription required), discussing how Bush is ignoring the realities of his political position w.r.t. Iraq. Read it for sure, but pay close attention to the last two paragraphs where Blumenthal reveals that European leaders are quietly hoping that the U.S. does not pull out of Iraq too soon, even when their public position is the opposite.

Now why would that be? Because the U.S. military is currently serving as a cork in a terrorist bottle. We're keeping new, invigorated terrorist networks occupied so that they don't flood into Europe and other Middle East countries.


"Daddy, what was the Bill of Rights?" - Patriot Act Filibuster (Updated)

The N.Y. Times is reporting that Senate Democrats are preparing to filibuster renewal of the Patriot Act's expiring provisions. Russ Feingold (D. WI) said: This is worth the fight.

Damn f*cking right it is! And four years too late I might add. But in this case late is much better than never because if the compromise bill gets through, we'll all be trying to explain to our kids what the Bill of Rights was supposed to be about.

[11/18/2005 9:00a PDT]

Now it looks like, with some additional Republicans in opposition, the Senate leadership may have an extremely hard time breaking a filibuster. Yippee!

Big Oil Execs: "I believe refining petroleum does not lead to profits."

I don't often disagree with my senators, but this time I can't keep my mouth shut. Yeah it's high time congress explored allegations of undue influence in Veep Cheney's energy task force, but where oil prices and consumer impact are concerned there is nothing to consider. So let's stop wasting time on this.

Come on people. We're talking about a finite resource here. Oil--fossil fuels in general--are a scarce commodity, and unless somebody figures out a way to dig up more dinosaur bones and crush them with millions of pounds of pressure, there will never be any more. Hurricane Katrina wipes out a bunch of oil platforms in the gulf, shuts down a bunch of refineries, and what happens? Prices go up! That's what. Supply is tightened, and demand creates a price increase. Duh!

So my liberal brethren, let's do something more than constructive than encouraging our representatives to haul Big Oil execs in to lie about their profit margins. Live in a city? Have access to mass transit? Sell your goddamned car! Take a couple fewer plane trips per year. Switch to halogen bulbs. Shut off that damn computer you're blogging on and go play with your kids.

Thanks to The Democratic Daily for the complete coverage.

Unpacking the 9th Circuit - Bush Now Channels FDR

FDR tried to pack the Supreme Court - Bush and the Justice Dept. will try to unpack the 9th Circuit.
The department believes that dividing the 9th Circuit would improve the administration of justice...
Translation: The 9th Circuit makes a lot of rulings we don't like. So we're going to put California in its own little ghetto circuit with Hawaii and Guam.

That'll teach those lefty kooks.


Liberal Bloggers For Bill O'Reilly

In the continuing sorry saga of the Bill O'Reilly affair, a resolution has been put before the San Francisco Sups that calls for Bill O'Reilly's termination from Fox News. But I want to go on record here: All of us liberal bloggers should want Bill O'Reilly to stay right where he is.

As Blogenfreude put it :
...they [O'Reilly and Novak] could provide viewers and bloggers alike with joy for years to come.
I mean O'Reilly is a gift that just keeps on giving. Who else could have ignited such a firestorm?

So... I'm volunteering to gather signatures for "Liberal Bloggers Who Support Bill O'Reilly" poll. Respond affirmatively to this post, and I'll gather the signatures and send the list to FOX News (along with a little note saying that we'd still all like to be included in the his 'smear-merchants' list.)

Let The Iraqi Breakup Begin...

Sunni Arab leaders are calling for an international investigation of torture allegations at a previously unknown Interior Ministry prison. Can the fracturing of Iraq be far behind?

Note that they don't want an Iraqi investigation, nor even one by the US military. It has to be international. Sunni leaders aren't even paying lip service to the legitimacy of the Shiite dominated government any longer, and the Sunni "man-on-the-street," probably never did.

Why a breakup? Well, Iraq's got no cohesive military. All units are regionally trained, serve in their own enclaves, and our military seems to have no stomach for unit integration, anyway. The Iraqi constitution is practically a blueprint for a breakup, having no well-defined federal component and numerous veto traps. And finally, you've got the Kurds--Cohesive, ethnically homogeneous, and armed...very, very, very well-armed.

Bush Co., better be looking about 6 months down the road when our soldiers could be in the crossfire of full-scale civil war.

The Upside of Alito

The left is all bent out of shape about horrible things that will happen if Alito is confirmed. But I think that we libs should take a step back and examine the upside of Alito: State's rights.

The Rehnquist Court made numerous rulings over the last decade, 30 in all, that limited the power of the federal government, and Alito's appointment would likely accelerate that trend. So blue staters, I say warm up those test cases!

California, Michigan time to go back at the Feds over medical marijuana. And California, time to counter sue on the off-shore drilling issue. Get the Robert's Court to retire those federal leases permanently.

Oregon, don't let the feds hammer you on assisted suicide. Get that test case in there now!

Air quality standards? Time for a SCOTUS ruling that permanently unchains California and the northeast corridor from burdensome federal meddling. Let CA, NY, MA, NH, NJ, and VT do what they do best, lead the way on air quality.

Federal gay marriage ban? Not for Massachusetts and Hawaii and not without repealing the 9th and 10th Amendments.

Family and Medical Leave Act? Alito would act to overturn it, but I say: "Pass it in your own state and then give the feds the finger!"

Time to see if conservatives (and especially Alito) can live up to their so-called principles.


Liberia's Iron Lady

This may seem like a small thing, but in African politics the election of the continent's first female head of state is a watershed, and what a person they've elected. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is a Harvard trained banker that managed a margin of victory of over 20 points. She's braved the byzantine Liberian election system once before in 1997 when she challenged strongman Charles Taylor and was jailed for her troubles.

Here's wishing Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf much success with the monumental task of healing a country that has suffered under 14 years of bloody civil war. Now if they could just get her opponent to concede gracefully.

O'Reilly: I Have A List! (Updated)

As usual on the right, what's sauce for the goose is never sauce for the gander. This would be funny if it weren't so frickin' sad.

After calling down al Qaeda's wrath on San Francisco (for an anti-military ballot initiative with no teeth), O'Reilly has now decided to take the offensive (emphasis on offensive):
I'm glad the smear sites made a big deal out of it. Now we can all know who was with the anti-military internet crowd. We'll post the names of all who support the smear merchants on billoreilly.com. So check with us.
Oh Bill, a good old fashion enemies list?! How Nixon-like of you. Could you please publish an email address where we can rat out those smear merchants. I'd like to send in Blognonymous. We could use the publicity.

[10/15/2005 8:45a PDT]

Mr. O'Reilly,

I can think of no higher honor than to have Blognonymous (http://blognonymo.us) added to your anti-military 'enemies' list.



And here's a few others that have requested to be inlcuded in O'Reilly's smear-merchants list:

The Defeatists
Can of Worms
Making Conservatives Cringe Since 1977


Kerry Tells It Like It Is

John Kerry, this morning from the Senate floor:
The President does not have a monopoly on patriotism, and this is not a country where only those who agree with him support the troops and care about defending our country. No matter what the President says, asking tough questions isn’t pessimism, it’s patriotism.
Well said, senator.

Thanks to The Democratic Daily for the transcript.

The de Young-i-fication of San Francisco

Copper is the new steel. Insta-slums sheathed in the stuff. Yuch!

This is a shameless plug, but my wife (aka Fashiongirl) has a great piece on how the new de Young is influencing architecture in our fair city...and not in a good way. Check it out.

The Louisville Slugger - An Essential Tool in the War on Terror

While Bush Co. mouths worthless tautologies on how don't need to exclude torture from our methods because we (the US) don't use torture, the evidence mounts that abuse of prisoners ("detainees" in Bush speak) was systematic and brutal in Iraq.

An article in the New York Review of Books (online excerpt here) details some pretty ghastly instances of abuse at the hands of the 82nd Airborne Division in 2003 - 2004. Most of the information is excerpted from eyewitness accounts and testimony gathered by Human Rights Watch and detailed in their September 25th report.

The accounts are disturbing, but these articles are essential reading for anyone who wants to get a handle on how Iraq and the so-called "War on Terror," are twisting our moral compass. Though I somehow doubt the reactionary right will have any stomach for having their fragile world-view upset.

The title of this post refers to one of the more disturbing accounts. (You can't miss it. It's right up front.)


O'Reilly: "What I Said Isn't Controversial."

What I Said Needed to Be Said.
Just read the article. Think Progress has the transcript, and it pretty much demonstrates what an imbecile Bill O'Reilly really is. But the best (read stupidest) quote, is the following:
...there are a lot of good people in the city of San Francisco, but you've been hijacked by the radical left.
San Francisco? hijacked by the radical left? They are the radical left, you bozo! SF routinely returns its senators, congresswoman, and state representatives to Washington/Sacramento with vote margins that surpass 70%.

O'Reilly.. (to lift a line from Dogma) you're fu*king clown shoes!


6 in 10 news outlets can't deal with fractions.

According to this ABC poll 6 in 10 Americans, "...had doubts about Bush's honesty".

Anybody see anything wrong with this? How about saying "3 of 5"? Fractions-learned that back in grade school. I suppose most editors have been to grade school. Though, maybe they think that "6 of 10" sounds more serious. "600 of 1000 Americans think that ABC poll takers don't know basic math." Now that sounds serious.

Reading down, you find that the poll actually surveyed only 1202 people. So maybe they should have said, "721 Americans and .2 of one cracker from Yonkers have doubts about Bush's honesty."

GOP Looks At California and Blames Everyone But Themselves

The right-wing blogsphere is abuzz with analysis of the California debacle, and the predominant opinion is: Unions are too powerful. No wait...Californians are insane. No wait...Democrats are fickle. And on, and on, and on, but the one thing you don't read is the GOP blaming itself.

Here's the thing, my conservative friends: Schwarzenegger was elected to replace Gray Davis not the California State Assembly. That means that there was an expectation that he'd bring a fresh perspective and work with the assembly to break the logjam on critical issues. It does not mean that he should give up like a petulant child and head straight for the ballot initiative process. Californians friggin' hate the initiative process, and demonstrated that on Tuesday.

Here's another thing GOP dimwits: You bemoan the fact that California is not in play, never in play in national elections and that the CA GOP is a shadow of the national party. Well...perhaps Bush Co. could stop making war on CA as if off-shore drilling and clean air standards were weapons of mass destruction. When the GOP has something to offer, it might be able to build a base here. Until then...

Arnie get's it better than his party.


More Patriot Act Nonsense From the GOP

Senator Pat Roberts (R. KS), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has decided to becom--whoops sorry--take the offensive on the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. He claims to be moving discussions toward strengthening the Act by adding administrative subpoena power. This would give the executive the power to obtain records without any, let me repeat that...ANY...judicial oversight. Roberts observed:
Why is it that on our number one security threat, we balk?
Translation: Once an investigation has been deemed a terrorist investigation, all bets are off at least as far as due process is concerned.

So, one has ask: With the tide of public opinion turning against the due process abuses fostered by the Act, is Roberts insane? Setting aside that what he's proposing is blatantly unconstitutional, I'm beginning to wonder if Roberts is really a Democrat in conservative drag, bent on bringing about another embarrassing defeat for the GOP.

Adventures in Nation Building: The Jordanian Border

So everybody and his brother has blogged on the recent attack in Jordan by Al Qaeda in Iraq. Half of the blogsphere is engaging in an exercise in schadenfreude, "The poor Jordanians. They didn't deserve this. Yeah, like the French didn't deserve it. " The other half is crowing about how this proves that the Islamic terrorists are reprehensible scum. "Look, they prey on their own people, even peaceful Jordanians." Though, it's not like the Iraqi insurgency hasn't been proving that on an almost daily basis for over three years.

But maybe, just maybe, there is a different lesson that we should take away from this deplorable incident. Perhaps this is another demonstration of the folly of nation building. Sure, Saddam was murderous dictator, and sure, democracy is wonderful, assuming the Iraqi government doesn't split the country in three. But with no cohesive Iraqi military to secure a porous border; an american military presence stretched to thin to do the same; terrorist cells that probably wouldn't have existed without the US invasion...US policy-makers might regret not having taken the long view. Of course I keep forgetting that we're talking about neo-cons here, for whom any reasonable outcome justifies the means, as long as it makes for good sound bites on Hannity & Colmes.

I'm sure the Jordanians wish we'd taken the long view.

Arhnult the pragmatist.

You don't win elections on the Left Coast without courting Democrats, and our Governator didn't do that. He went straight to the ballot box and got slammed by the fickle California voters. Even Prop. 79, the less controversial seniors prescription drug proposal went down to defeat.

But yesterday, he took responsibility for the debacle and said he'd work with Assembly Democrats. Looks like he's trying to prove that he can rise above this, or that he doesn't want to go back to making movies, whichever. Regardless, he may have learned the lesson that he taught to Grey Davis: Smugness, in this state, pisses people off.

Basically, Arhnult wants to get reelected, and isn't going to let this incident stand in the way.


O'Reilly Advocates Discrimination in Federal Funds Allocation

Hat tips to AGITPROP and Media Matters for this one...
O'REILLY: Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds.
In addition to the issue of indirectly threatening SF and perhaps incitement to violence (elsewhere in the broadcast--read AGITPROP), O'Reilly is advocating blatent discrimination in Federal funds allocation. Oh wait, that's nothing new.

Defeat Is Victory In California

From the S.F. Chronicle:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's aides argued Wednesday that the crushing defeat of the governor's measures at the polls meant California voters had rejected the need for the special election -- not his calls for reform.
Apparently, for Republicans at least, whole sale repudiation of an agenda is not really a defeat. And for reference here some other favorite quotes that spin sunshine from gloom:
The [Iraqi] insurgency is losing steam.

US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, Nov. 6th, 2005 (and VP Dick Cheney, in June 2005, etc., etc., etc...)
Sec. of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld has contradicted this notion on many occasions. Here's just one.
"President Bush ran forthrightly on a clear agenda for this nation's future and the nation responded by giving him a mandate."

Vice President Cheney after the 2004 election
This one is always the best because then you get to point out that Bush's popular vote margin was the smallest in almost 3 decades. Some mandate!

The value of a Bush bender.

Check out this post by Vic at Report Suspicious Activity.



Science Is Dogma in Kansas

OK, so we all now know that the "what-me-worry," pinheads on the Kansas Board of Education voted to rewrite the science teaching standards to include Intelligent Design as a alternative to Darwinian evolution. We all know that the conservatives are hailing the decision, and the liberals are decrying it.

But the most pernicious thing the BofE did was not in lending support to a hypothesis that, at best, is simply a cop-out on explaining life's origins. What they did was to redefine the nature of science. Now, at least in Kansas, the supernatural (I.D., for example) can be considered the "hypothesis of last resort".

Imagine, if you can, the uproar that would ensue if the National Academy of Sciences, as an example, were to redefine faith:

faith n. - "A malady arising from the inability to test the validity of a belief."

In other news (N)ational (S)cience (T)eacher's (A)ssociation basically told the Kansas BofE where they could stick their new standards.

Californians say no, No, NO!

It's just after midnight, and it looks like the whole slate is going down to defeat. Yup, 73 through 80, right into the toilet along with many millions of dollars. Looks like the honeymoon is over for the Gov. The moderates are jumping ship.

Is it time for the recall yet?


Oh! The Conservative's Wet Dream

From the A.P.:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert are circulating a draft letter calling for a congressional leak investigation into the disclosure of secret U.S. interrogation centers abroad.
Translation: Let's find the treasonous son-of-a-bitch, and hope...hope...hope that he's (she's) a Democrat.

The article went on to say:
The letter says the leaking of classified information by employees of the U.S. government appears to have increased in recent years, "establishing a dangerous trend that, if not addressed swiftly and firmly, likely will worsen."
Now why would leaking have increased? Example set by the guys at the top? Could it be? Duh!

Too much democracy?

Here on the Left Coast we've got an election today with no state-wide races, not even major local races. But what we do have is 8 California ballot initiatives (4 of which nobody cares about); 9 San Francisco initiatives; Two voter guides that together measure an inch in thickness (The text of the initiatives is only about a 10th of the total print, the rest is, get this, paid positions for and against!); Hundreds of pieces of paper being dumped in my flat's entryway telling me how I should vote (but not one telling me anything I don't already know); And a non-stop onslaught of talking heads lying about the other sides real motives.

When I first moved to California, I spent hours reading through the initiatives with my wife, diligently trying make sense out of this huge morass of opinion. Now, I've begun to think that laws should be left to the legislators. That's what we elect them for, right? They get paid for this, right? I sure as hell don't.

Ballot initiative process? Sure. But it should be hard, Damn Hard, Unbelievably-FRIGGIN-HARD to get on the ballot. Direct democracy is for Greeks.


Schwarzenegger Threatens and Re-threatens

After threatening California voters with tax increases if Prop. 76 fails in tomorrow's special election, our beloved Governator now accuses his opponents of using the same kind of tactics.

Damn this is getting comical. I can almost hear Kyle Reese:

It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until it gets it's way.

(Thanks to IMDB).

Grokster shuts down.

And the entertainment industry's full court press to control the delivery mechanisms, the technology, legitimate or otherwise, continues...


Insurance Companies That Don't Insure...

...health care providers that don't keep you healthy.

This particular post is about HealthNet, a California HMO that is refusing to cover treatment for a small boy with a rare bone disorder. But, as we all know, this could be any HMO anywhere in America. In this case, the only specialist with the experience to handle the disorder works at a children's hospital in Deleware, and obviously it's outside of HealthNet's network. The family knows there son will die without treatment. HealthNet knows it because their own specialist at the University of California of San Francisco concurs and has told the HMO as much. So what happens? Many months, 4 appeals of HealthNet's decision, threats of a lawsuit, and an expose in the San Francisco Chronicle finally get HealthNet to change their position.

OK...so here's the thing. There's an argument to be made that HealthNet can limit the type of care that they provide and where they provide it. There's an argument to be made that when the standard of care isn't adequate and the situation grave, the health care provider should come through. But I'm interested in something else.

Consider how much time was money was wasted by HealthNet in trying to get the family to give up. "Oh sure," you say, "...treatments like this are expensive and that's what's driving up health care costs." But maybe, just maybe, what's driving health care costs is the horrendous waste: Time and effort wasted by HMO administrators in denying the family's request; Time wasted by the UCSF specialist who saw the boy more than once and reached the same conclusion each time; Time wasted by the family and stopgap treatments that were wasted when HealthNet eventually relented.

When an insurer (or an health care provider) spends more time figuring out how to not care for you than they do actually caring for you, should we as a society draw the line and say, "Enough! Provide the care, or find another business to be in"?

Want to know why the health care system in this country doesn't work? Look no further than the waste.

What Passes for Reasoned Debate (3)

This gem was the first comment in response to Atlas' irrational remarks on the Democrat's invoking Senate Rule 21:
The attempted coup has begun. I don't know if fear is the right word, but I do believe Democrats are traitors.
The f*ckstick who left this probably didn't think about his words for any longer than it took him to type the comment, and all over an obscure Senate rule that Harry Reid had every right to invoke. (By way of comparison that rule was invoked by Republicans 6 times during the Clinton administration.)

Unfortunately for the left, this is what we're up against: An unhinged, radical right that won't hesitate for a moment to label 48.5% of the electorate as traitors. Think it doesn't happen? Read the linked article above. Then take a look at some other choice threads, like the comments to a similar article on The Washington Note.

Here's the deal. Disagree with Bush Co., you're part of the 5th column and a traitor. Take part in a protest, you're a socialist dupe and a traitor. Employ the same tactics that Republicans have used for years to force debates in congress, your inciting a coup and everyone in your party are traitors.

Wake up liberals, progressives, Democrats! The right doesn't want you silenced. They want you criminalized.


Kenneth Tomlinson Out at CPB (Updated)

I blogged on this back in June when Tomlinson was in the thick of his battle to politicize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Well now, in the face of a report by the CPB inspector general that condemns Tomlinson's actions, he's resigned, and in my opinion not a moment too soon.

But, that said, let me reiterate that I agree with conservatives that are calling for removing federal support for public broadcasting. Of course, this means that "rich" PBS and NPR markets--KQED (Bay Area), WGBH (Boston), (M)innesota (P)ublic (R)adio, etc...--will continue to thrive while the smaller markets, the one's that get a majority of their operating budget through CPB, will starve. That will put the balance back into the system. People willing to support public broadcasting will have it. People not willing to support it, won't.

[2005/11/05 7:44a PDT]

Saw this (from Reuters) on the NYT this morning. Apparently Tomlinson, who still heads the Broadcasting Board of Governors (oversees Voice of America, etc...) is the subject of an inquiry into the alleged misuse of federal money. They're saying that he hired phantom (?) employees and used federal money for personal purposes.

Skimming money? Federal money? Doesn't seem like his style, but as usual more slime on the right.


And in other news: Coffee-beer.

...a "fermented coffee beverage" that pours and foams like beer, but smells of strong coffee and packs a concentrated caffeine kick.

Caffeinated beer, sure. Who wouldn't like a nice porter with the kick of an espresso. But fermented coffee? Eeewwwww!

Your Senator / Your Investment Advisor (Updated)

A first-of-its-kind study covering politicians as investors, conducted by professor Alan Ziobrowski of Georgia State, took a systematic look at the stock transactions of U.S. senators between 1993 and 1998. Know what they found? Senators beat the market by 12% annually. That's huge! the New Yorker article where this was reported noted that mutual-fund managers are considered geniuses is they beat the market by 2 to 3 percent annually.

Time to enlist a senator to give you stock tips. I want Bill Frist... if he doesn't end up in jail, that is.

AGITPROP's Blogenfreude and I apparently read the same magazines. Here's his excellent post on the topic.


Our Own Gulag Archipelago

Just read the article.

A covert prison system, of course. What else would we expect Bush Co. these days? Looks like what Senator Durbin said back in June was more than just prophetic. It was prescient. I expect the Republican wastes in congress will start with the "mainstream media is damaging this country," drone any minute now.


Hollywood wants to control the sense of sight.

OK, not really, but on Halloween the MPAA did get a new legislative draft into the House Judiciary Committee that would make it illegal to produce digital video from an analog source. In other words, they're trying to force content creation, any kind of content, through devices that they control. Basically gives 'em a veto on the creative process. Read the EFF report (linked above), and then check out this analysis on Boing Boing.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Media giants have no real interest in pirates or file-swappers. That's just a smoke-screen. The real goal is to lock content creators into industry controlled distribution systems, giving them a perpetual revenue stream from both creation and consumption.

Tax Deductions - Another Vehicle for F**king the Blue States

Well, now Bush Co.'s advisory commission on taxes has made their recommendations official, and the result is even worse than we were led to believe. Not only have they proposed the incredibly regressive removal of the mortgage interest deduction but they also want to remove the deductions for state and local income taxes as well as for property taxes.
The commission also said that as a whole, taxpayers at different income levels would bear roughly the same tax burden as they do now. But depending on their circumstances, some people would owe much more in taxes than they do now, and some would pay much less.
Dear readers, focus on that last sentence. Stated differently: If you've bought into the American dream of home ownership, and especially if you did it in a high-opportunity, high-cost blue state, be prepared to be screwed in ways you could not have imagined. This supposedly non-partisan panel is suggesting that, in the interest of simplification, we shift an enormous swath of the federal tax burden from the low-cost, low opportunity red states, straight onto the backs of blue staters (with only a few notable exceptions, such as North Carolina).

Better hope that this upsets the status quo too much to get by congress.

Child labor agreement sans teeth.

And Wal-Mart gets a 15 day notice before Labor Department inspections for violations of child-labor laws. (They already got tagged for 85 of 'em.)

The sleaze never ends.