Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nothing new to see here. I'm probably reading one of the fine blogs from the list over to the right, or possibly wasting space in their comments threads. Current faves are Democracy in Albany for local stuff, and Sadly, No! for mockery of obscure right-wing writers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Warrantless Wiretaps Not Used, Official Says
[Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence] also pushed for a provision that would grant legal immunity to the telecommunications companies that secretly cooperated with the N.S.A. on the warrantless program. Those companies, now facing lawsuits, have never been officially identified.

Democratic Congressional aides say they believe that a deal is likely to provide protection for the companies.

One question: Why?

The administration broke the law, and the telco's were accessories. Why the *&^% should they get immunity?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Veto Risk Seen in Compromise on Child Health
Senate and House negotiators said Sunday that they had agreed on a framework for a compromise bill that would provide health insurance to four million uninsured children while relaxing some of the limits on eligibility imposed by the Bush administration.

The compromise, which resembles a bill passed by the Senate with bipartisan support, sets the stage for a battle with President Bush, who has denounced similar legislation as a step “down the path to government-run health care for every American.”

I highly encourage the administration to keep using this kind of language. Back when they had some mojo, they would have amped it up to something like, "those commies want to force you to see the collective doctors at the methadone clinic downtown!" But the mojo is gone, and they are practically using the Dems rhetoric. "Health care for every American."

Say. Not a bad idea! What's that - you're going to veto that? Hmm, maybe someone somewhere will vote Republican again. In 20 years or so.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Americans Feel Military Is Best at Ending the War
Americans trust military commanders far more than the Bush administration or Congress to bring the war in Iraq to a successful end [...]

Asked to choose among the administration, Congress and military commanders, 21 percent said they would most trust Congress and 68 percent expressed most trust in military commanders.

Dear American people. Please understand that the military takes orders from the civilian government. They do not make decisions, although they clearly make recommendations. Now, it just so happens that our civilian government at this time consists of moronic nutjobs in the Executive branch and a clusterfuck of inaction in the Legislative branch. But having the military make their own decisions? No thanks.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Judge Voids F.B.I. Tool Granted by Patriot Act
A federal judge yesterday struck down the parts of the recently revised USA Patriot Act that authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use informal secret demands called national security letters to compel companies to provide customer records.


According to a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general in March, the F.B.I. issued about 143,000 requests through national security letters from 2003 to 2005. The report found that the bureau had often used the letters improperly and sometimes illegally.


The judge said the F.B.I. might be entitled to prohibit disclosures for a limited time but afterward “must bear the burden of going to court to suppress the speech.” Putting that burden on recipients of the letters, he said, violates the First Amendment.

I wish I knew why this took so long. There were reports in 2005 about a library in Connecticut that fought one of these letters.

But don't let it worry you - if you're not doing anything wrong, etc. As long as it happens to someone else, we're all good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Botox Appointments Faster Than for Moles, Study Finds
Patients seeking an appointment with a dermatologist to ask about a potentially cancerous mole have to wait substantially longer than those seeking Botox for wrinkles, a study published online yesterday by The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology said.

Researchers reported that dermatologists in 12 cities offered a typical wait of eight days for a cosmetic patient wanting Botox to smooth wrinkles, compared with a typical wait of 26 days for a patient requesting evaluation of a changing mole, a possible indicator of skin cancer.

I don't understand. It's only other countries that have to wait for medical care. There must be some kind of mistake here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rules May Limit Health Program Aiding Children
The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for New York, California and others to extend coverage to children in middle-income families.

There is something seriously wrong with these people. Problem: lots of people don't have health insurance. Response: Put roadblocks up to the federal program that provides coverage.

How many days until the next administration?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

U.S. Defends Surveillance to 3 Skeptical Judges
Lawyers in the two cases that were argued Wednesday say they have such proof. In the AT&T case, the plaintiffs submitted a sworn statement from a former technician for the company who disclosed technical documents about the installation of monitoring equipment at an AT&T Internet switching center in San Francisco.

Mr. Garre, representing the administration, and Michael K. Kellogg, a lawyer for AT&T, said the sworn statement was built on speculation and inferences. Robert D. Fram, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the statement provided more than enough direct evidence to allow the case to go forward.

Similarly, in the case brought by the charity, al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, the plaintiffs say the government mistakenly provided them a document, since reclaimed, that proves they were subject to surveillance without court approval.

On Wednesday, Thomas M. Bondy, a Justice Department lawyer, told the court that the document “to this day remains totally classified.”

In both cases, the government said the plaintiffs’ evidence was insufficient to establish standing to sue, adding that even litigating the matter would endanger national security. “Whether plaintiffs were subjected to surveillance is a state secret,” the Justice Department said in a recent brief in the Haramain case, “and information tending to confirm or deny that fact is privileged.”

Reading is fundamental, I guess. If you've read Orwell, you have a better understanding of the audacious propaganda that the Bubble Boy administration uses on a regular basis. (See Iraq, Iran, nearly all of its domestic initiatives.) And if you're read this one, you clearly understand the government's position in these warantless wiretapping cases. It's a state secret that you are, or are not, the target of a surveillance program, and even that the surveillance program exists. Even if you have knowledge of being a target or that the program exists, those are still secrets, and you cannot sue. It's a nice tight little circle, which comes down to the government saying, "no, because we said so."

You OK with that?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bush Still Wields the Threat of Terrorism

Like many people, I have been trying to figure out why the Democrats did not tell the loser President to take his security state and shove it where the Constitution don't shine. Perhaps this explains it:
In any case, Democrats said they had been left in an untenable position. They could either allow for a vote on the broader Republican proposals that were certain to pass, the Democrats said, or they could leave for the summer recess having passed no new security measure at a time when administration officials were pointing to potential threats from Al Qaeda, including a report in The Roll Call last week that terrorists were possibly focusing on Congress itself.

Hit 'em where they live, I guess. "You, specifically you Mr. or Mrs. Congresscritter, are a target. Boo!"

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fluffer to the Bush Administration, David B. Rifkin: "U.S. attorneys are emanations of a president's will."


"The oath of office is taken by the by all executive and judicial officers, as well as all Federal government employees. It reads as follows:

I (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

Find me the word "president" in that oath. Go ahead. I'll wait.

(Via TPM.)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I'm no economist, so I probably don't have any business commenting on this. Of course, I'm going to anyway. The NYT has an article on the "new tycoons of a new Gilded age." As you might expect, there are some wealthy types who believe that incomes should be made more equitable through higher taxes. And then of course there are others who say "uh, not so fast, comrade."

But I enjoyed the quotes from this one guy. I don't think he realizes he is contradicting himself in the "paper of record":
[...] Kenneth C. Griffin, who received more than $1 billion last year as chairman of a hedge fund, the Citadel Investment Group, declared: “The money is a byproduct of a passionate endeavor.”

[...] His own team at Citadel, he said, “loves the problems they work on and the challenges inherent to their business.”


“The income distribution has to stand,” Mr. Griffin said, adding that by trying to alter it with a more progressive income tax, “you end up in problematic circumstances. In the current world, there will be people who will move from one tax area to another. I am proud to be an American. But if the tax became too high, as a matter of principle I would not be working this hard.”

Eh, Kenneth? Thought you said it wasn't about the money, big guy. What, those challenging problems, that passionate endeavor, those are lessened by that looming knowledge that Uncle Sam is going to get another 4% or 5% come tax time?

Gotta work on that rhetoric, sir.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Greenwald writes:
As frustrating as it can be, this sort of day-to-day pressure on individual journalists and political figures is the most effective weapon possessed by blogs, websites and other organizations devoted to forcing into our public discourse various perspectives and narratives which are otherwise excluded. [...]

The point here is that changing our public discourse is a slow, grinding, difficult process. Any changes that occur, any progress that is made, will be made only incrementally, one day after the next. Each individual change is usually so slight as to be imperceptible, but aggregated, those changes can be substantial. [...]

Defeatism can lead one to believe that there is no progress at all and that progress is impossible. Impatience can lead one to conclude that the progress is too slow and incremental to matter. But slow and incremental progress of this sort is the only kind that is viable, and ultimately, the only kind that really matters.

Good words, and a good reminder.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I have plenty of half-baked thoughts about health insurance. This post, however, is about the politics of health insurance.

A Battle Over Expansion of Children’s Insurance
The fight over a popular health insurance program for children is intensifying, with President Bush now leading efforts to block a major expansion of the program, which is a top priority for Congressional Democrats.

The seemingly uncontroversial goal of insuring more children has become the focus of an ideological battle between the White House and Congress. The fight epitomizes fundamental disagreements over the future of the nation’s health care system and the role of government.

Democrats have proposed a major expansion of the program, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, to cover more youngsters with a substantial increase in federal spending.


White House objections to the Democratic plan are “philosophical and ideological,” said Allan B. Hubbard, assistant to the president for economic policy. In an interview, he said the Democrats’ proposal would move the nation toward “a single-payer health care system with rationing and price controls.”

This is what it comes down to. We can yap about the philosophy of government all we want. In the meantime, there are children who have no coverage. That is a problem that needs to be addressed, no delays, no bullshit.

The Dems need to take a hard line on this, and they need to tar and paper the Repubs who are opposed. Make damn sure that people know what's at stake, and make damn sure that people know what the Repubs are doing.

For the Dems, this is an issue where the pragmatic and the philosophical line up. Children need coverage, here is a way of getting them coverage. Do it because it's the right thing to do.

Show people that the anti-government rhetoric is just that - rhetoric. Empty, meaningless. "All that talk about small government isn't going to cover one additional child."

No compromises. No engagement. "Here is our plan. Let the other side try to explain their opposition." I don't think there will be too much sympathy out there for not covering children who need it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bush Spares Libby 30-Month Jail Term
President Bush spared I. Lewis Libby Jr. from prison Monday, commuting his two-and-a-half-year sentence while leaving intact his conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice in the C.I.A. leak case.

There is not much to say about this. This is just one more example of this administration having no respect for anything other than its own power. They have no principles, and they have failed again and again and again to run a responsible government. I don't feel any real need to provide examples. If you need examples, you haven't been paying attention.

So, I will go from there to point out something curious about this news article.
The president’s decision means that Mr. Libby, 56, no longer faces the prospect of leaving his wife and two children, in what probably would have been a matter of weeks, to report to prison.


But [Bush] said: “My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely.”

Two references to this criminal's family, one by the reporters, and one quote from the president. Raises the obvious question: How many other news articles make a point of mentioning a criminal's family? If I read an article about the latest bank robbery, will there be a mention of the robber's family? And if not, why does the criminal Libby deserve such attention in the eyes of these reporters? Seems to me that the reporters have been sipping at the right wing Kool Aid a bit.

Well, it is summer after all, and Kool Aid can be so refereshing!