Monday, July 31, 2006

Pretext for an even greater mass murder

I give you your King, George W. Bush:

"I -- you know, I -- I believe this; I believe that -- that, as Condi said yesterday, the Middle East is littered with, you know, agreements that just didn't work. And now's the time to address the root cause of the problem, and the root cause of the problem is terrorist groups trying to stop the advance of democracies. Hizbollah attacked Israel. I believe Hizbollah -- I know Hizbollah is connected to Iran. And now's the time for the world to confront this danger.

I wonder what that means...

Also: Here's more audio (Real Player) from USA Today from that same press statement. This piece is so riddled with nonsense that it just boggles the mind. For instance:

"I understand that whatever's done diplomatically must address the root cause and the root cause is terrorist activity."

The root cause is terrorist activity? What causes the terrorist activity, dip!sht? Is it your contention that people blow themselves up on a lark? Out of boredom? You don't suppose they might have a grievance of some sort, do you? "The root cause is terrorist activity." Incredible. As I've said earlier, the first suicide bombing was done in response to exactly the kind of thing that is being done to Lebanon today. Could he possibly be more idiotic than this? As you will soon see, yes.

One of the things I've said from the beginning is that it's important for the Lebanese democracy to survive and to become strong. So what you're watching is American policy...

There you have it. "What you're watching is American policy." He didn't say "Israeli policy" did he? You can't get more difinitive than that, folks.

"...aiming to strengthen Lebanese democracy so that we can have peace."

By bombing it to smithereens. The inferences embedded in such statement can summed up thusly:

  • "Annihilation is strength."
  • "'Around-the-clock bombing is peace."
  • "Ceasefire is to be feared."

We are one "Freedom is slavery" away from a full deck.

"I view this as a clash of forms of government."

Lebanese democracy vs US/Israeli imperialism/zionism. Clash of Civilizations, anyone?

"I see people who can't stand the thought of democracy taking hold... in part of the... in-i'-i'-i'--in the middle east. And as democracy begins to advance they use terrorist tactics to stop it."

These people who supposedly can't stand the thought of democracy taking hold are, it's safe to assume, Hezbollah and Hamas. Hezbollah is a political party in
Lebanon that participates actively and legally in the very same Lebanese democracy that this man was praising just a few months ago. They hold roughly 10% of the parliamentary seats in the democracy that must be saved (through annihilation). Hamas, for their part, participated in the democratic elections that this man called for in the Palestinian Authority. They won the election fair and square. They backed away from their denial of Israel's right to exist and were rewarded with an international sanction and blockade, bomb attacks and their cabinet and legislative officials rounded up, imprisoned and/or threatened with death. So who is it who can't stand democracy exactly?

"...So our objective is to make sure those who use terrorist tactics are not rewarded and at the same time, help those who've suffered."

And he's helping those who've suffered by doing what, exactly? By fighting any imposition of a ceasefire that might, oh I don't know, stop the bombing that's killing them?

I want you all to think about the kind of contempt for the audience that is required to enable someone to spit this kind of nonsense into a microphone. Think about the apocalyptic mindset one would have to have in order to conceive of a total annihilation like the one taking place in
Lebanon as a "birth pang of the new middle-east", as it was recently described by Condoleeza Rice, or as a saving grace of Lebanese democracy as Bush presents it here. If these are the people steering the ship, you best believe they're looking out for icebergs, but not in order to avoid them. Don't believe for one second that this fool is above dropping a nuke on Iran.


Transparent pretext for mass murder will backfire

Consider the Israeli attacks that killed 4 UN observers in Lebanon the other day. The word from Israel and the US on this now is that the attacks were justified because Hezbollah was "operating" nearby. This is and will continue to be a main theme promoted in the news media going forward. I heard this described on the radio today as Hezbollah's "cowardly tactic" of "hiding" in civilian areas. The people who allow them to hide, the reasoning goes, are accomplices and justify Israel killing as many Lebanese civilians as they deem fit. As Israel's Justice Minister has already announced publicly, "All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah." This is nothing more than a self-serving pretext designed to justify a mass-murder that Israel and the US have already decided to undertake.

What is really meant by saying Hezbollah was "operating" in the area? Is Hezbollah only a militia that carries out guerilla attacks? I'll answer that. No. Hezbollah is much more than a just paramilitary or terrorist unit. They are a full-blown social and political movement. Yes, they have the militant wing we hear so much about, true enough. But they have a strong social services wing as well. They run schools. They run shelters. They run food banks. They run hospitals and clinics. On top of all of that, they are also an active, grass-roots political party with strong local support. So what is meant when the Israelis and US claim that Hezbollah was "operating" nearby or that they had a "base of operations" there? I think that's a good question. Someone with a microphone should ask it.

Imagine for a moment these Hezbollah "operations" that are being targeted are not military in nature at all. Suppose instead that, like the victims in the attack on the UN observation post, the people who are being attacked are ordinary folks, citizens seeking social services and the workers there to provide it for them. The survivors, who politically may have been fence-sitters, might experience a change of opinion in favor Hezbollah after seeing their loved ones torn to pieces by
Israel's US-made bombs. It just so happens that these multi-pronged activities Hezbollah provides in that community positions them uniquely to take advantage of any groundswell in anti-Israeli sentiments this bombardment may inspire. It gives them instant access to streams of disaffected, displaced and angry victims to whom they can provide shelter, nourishment, clothing and, most significantly, an immediate outlet for revenge.

Yes. As a result of this Israeli campaign in
Lebanon, Hezbollah will be stronger. Just as one previous occupation created them, the second will strengthen them. There are nearly 4-million people in Lebanon. Should Israel
kill them all?


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Minimum wage sleight-of-hand

I'm about a week or two late in tackling this but late is better than never.

In disputing the need for a minimum wage increase many public figures argue that doing so will have little or no impact on low-wage workers because of that fact that only about 2 or 3-percent of hourly workers earn at or below the minimum wage anyway. A quick Google search will yield a great deal of commentary from around the country peddling some version of this argument. Here are some typical examples of this line of reasoning (all emphases are mine):

Example 1:

"Actually, the minimum wage seems more a symbol of our good intentions than an issue of great economic significance. Relatively few people are paid the minimum wage and fewer families subsist on $5.15 per hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2004 only 520,000 workers out of a total of more than 73.9 million who were paid on an hourly basis earned the minimum wage. In reality, almost three times that number (1.5 million) earned less than the minimum."

The Downside of a Hike in the Minimum Wage
Peter Z. Grossman
Indianapolis Star, July 11, 2006

Example 2:

"So how much of an impact would raising the minimum wage have in New Hampshire, when very few workers, even in traditionally low-paying jobs, are making that rate?"

"According to New Hampshire Employment Security, approximately 16,000 workers out of a statewide labor force of 726,400 — that’s around two percent
— make $5.15 an hour or below. And many of those work in “tipped positions,” such as waiters/waitresses, who by law only have to be paid 45 percent of the minimum hourly rate."

Debate Rages Over Calls to Raise Minimum Wage
Shawne K Wickman
Manchester Union-Leader, July 23, 2006

Example 3:

"According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2004 about half of all hourly paid workers earning at or below the minimum wage in the U.S. were younger than 25; one-fourth fell between the ages of 16 and 19. For hourly paid workers over 25, only 1.7 percent earned a wage at or below the mandated minimum, with many of them retired and working to supplement Social Security or other retirement income. Furthermore, 60 percent of the workers who earn the minimum wage or less were employed in food service jobs such as waiters, waitresses and bartenders, workers whose wages are usually supplemented with tips."

"Conclusion: Very few hourly paid workers in the United States earn a minimum wage or less, and those who do are predominantly younger workers gaining valuable experience, older workers supplementing retirement income or workers whose income is supplemented by tips."

Who Pays the Minimum Wage?
Mark A. Steckbeck
Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Well, that really does make it sound insignificant, doesn't it. But is this really the issue? Will a minimum wage increase really only affect workers who earn exactly $5.15 per hour or less? Lets examine that. The proposed minimum wage increase recently debated in congress would have raised it to $7.25 per hour. Not counted in these seemingly powerful arguments are the workers who earn between the current minimum and the proposed new level. So what about the workers who earn $5.16 per hour, or $5.17 per hour, $5.18, $5.19, %5.20... etc (keep going with that until you reach the new proposed minimum). Wont they be affected by a minimum raise hike to $7.25 as well? Can they get some love?

The only reasonable way to measure the effect of a minimum wage increase is to measure the impact it would have all on the workers who earn less than the new proposed limit, not just the ones who are exactly at the current minimum. Give me those figures and then we can talk. This is something that should be obvious to our learned men of letters and ceritifcates in government and the news media. Why wont any of them bother to notice that?


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

360-Degrees, Redux

Events are moving quickly. Just the other day I wrote a post about the possible reaction we may see from the new US-installed Iraqi government over the goings on in Lebanon. Now it seems that already our supposed pro-western stalwart in the middle-east is starting to go sideways on us over Israel's military campaign there:

BAGHDAD Iraq, July 19 — Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq on Wednesday forcefully denounced the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, marking a sharp break with President Bush’s position and highlighting the growing power of a Shiite Muslim identity across the Middle East.

“The Israeli attacks and airstrikes are completely destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure,” Mr. Maliki said at an afternoon news conference inside the fortified Green Zone, which houses the American Embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government. “I condemn these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo to take quick action to stop these aggressions. We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression.”

The American Embassy did not provide an immediate response.

Can anyone really consider this a surprise? If this is our favorite Iraqi talking, the one we praised so glowingly just a few months ago, I wonder what we can expect from the guys we don't like, like Muqtada al-Sadr? I'm not optimistic.

Talk about a self-defeating foreign policy.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pop Culture Snapshot: Vibe Magazine Cover

I was in line at Blockbuster and saw this headline on the cover of Vibe Magazine:

"Get your wet wipes: It's the sexy issue!"

I'm not making this up...

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Noah 2006

My sister-in-law e-mailed me this little piece of right-wing cyber-babble today (not that she's a right-winger or anything; she thought it was funny and actually thought I'd like it -- we may need to get better aquainted):

Hi... I though you would enjoy this one!

Noah in 2006

In the year 2006, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the United States, and said, "Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me.

Build another Ark and save 2 of every living thing along with a few good humans."

He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, "You have 6 months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights."

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard - but no Ark.

"Noah!" He roared, "I'm about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?"

"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah, "but things have changed. I needed a building permit. I've been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. My neighbors claim that I've violated the neighborhood zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Development Appeal Board for a decision.

Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the Ark's move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.

Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls - but no go!

When I started gathering the animals, an animal rights group sued me. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will They argued the accommodation was too restrictive, and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space.

Then the EPA ruled that I couldn't build the Ark until they'd conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood. I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm supposed to hire for my
building crew.

Immigration and Naturalization are checking the green-card status of most of the people who want to work. The trades unions say I can't use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with Ark-building experience.

To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species.

So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 10 years for me to finish this Ark."

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky. Noah looked up in wonder and asked, "You mean you're not going to destroy the world?"

"No," said the Lord. "The government beat me to it."
I would like to take a moment to apologize to my readers (if any) for subjecting you to that. It's quite the typical right-wing "I hate government" schtick, on par with the "I'm from the government, I'm here to help" jokes, right? Well, that's how I took it. How many liberal/progressive constituencies and issues were attacked here? Lets see:

Environmentalists? Check!
Minorities? Check!
Immigrants? Check!
Trade Unions? Check!
Progressive taxation? Check!
Workplace safety? Check!

Yes, wouldn't the world be so much better without all these meddlesome protections for those folks? (sigh)

Here is my response:

Hey, I've got a better one. God told Noah to build the ark because the world is wicked. So Noah got started on his holy assignment when he was visited by agents from the FBI asking about his suspicious activities. They'd received reports from local police of a man of middle-eastern ancestry, known for his religious zealotry, acting suspiciously and in the process of building some sort of device or structure. When they inquired as to the purpose of his activities he told them earnestly, "The Lord will destroy this land, indeed all lands and everything in it because it is all wicked".

He was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats against the United States and it's allies. Then Attorney General John Ashcroft, held a large press conference hailing the arrest as a victory in the war on terror.

"Today, US law enforcement and intelligence services won a great victory in our war against global terrorism," intoned Ashcroft proudly.

"With the arrest of Noah 'The Jackal', a super-duper big terrorist evil-doer, we have disrupted a lethal international terror ring who could have killed thousands of Americans if not for the hard work of the FBI and the CIA in conjuction with the Pentagon"

A quick background check revealed that Noah was an Iraqi national (the story of Noah took place in modern day Iraq) with a record of previous involvement in end-of-the-world schemes. The White House was debriefed on his case and the decision was made to invoke extraordinary rendition against him in order to secure the homeland and facilitate "expanded interrogation parameters" in hopes of obtaining more intel on his activities, accomplices and plans. So a black bag was placed over his head and he was shipped to Abu Ghraib prison in his home country, Iraq.

As part of the Pentagon's new "the gloves come off" policy, Noah's interrogation began immediately with summary beatings about the head and neck region. He was then straped to a wooden-board and his head was dunked in water repeatedly until he honestly believed he was being drowned, causing discomfort to a level that, while painful and dangerous, did not rise to the equivalent to death or organ failure
and therefore wasn't really torture under the official US government definition.

Amazingly, despite his agony, Noah still refused to attribute his activity to anyone other than the one true God. So it was decided that he should be forced to watch as his children, now over 2,000 years old, are raped with phosphorescent glow sticks.

Still refusing to change his story, he is tranferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where the mistreatment continues. Since that time, Noah has been held there awaiting a military tribunal for roughly three years. Recently the Supreme Court ruled that such a military tribunal was unconstitutional. Still, in Guantanamo Bay he sits, occasionally attempting suicide in what his jailers call a "PR move".

To this day, despite multiple reports indicating the innocence of most of the "Gitmo" detainees, the White House describes him and his fellow inmates as the worst of the worst, a cold-blooded killer and, although his indefinite detention has been ruled illegal, he's still there, because in the end the President, as Commander-in-Chief and head of the Unitary Executive Branch, can do whatever the hell he wants, even if it means destroying the world before God can get to it.
So much for "small government".

UPDATE: Some friends of mine who saw this post expressed the opinion that I may need to get a sense of humor about this. They implied that I may be wearing the tin-foil hat because of my suggestion that the e-mail above was an example of covert right-wing propaganda. Well, guess what? Exactly that kind of thing is going on.

Aug. 4, 2006 A tiny little movie making fun of Al Gore, supposedly made by an amateur filmmaker, recently appeared on the popular Web site

At first blush, the spoof seemed like a scrappy little homemade film

poking fun at Gore and his anti-global warming crusade...

But when the Wall Street Journal tried to find the guy who posted the film "Al Gore's Penguin Army" — listed on YouTube as a 29-year-old — they found the movie didn't come from an amateur working out of his basement.

The film actually came from a slick Republican public relations firm called DCI, which just happens to have oil giant Exxon as a client.

The battle for your mind is fought on all fronts.


Sunday, July 23, 2006


I know, I know. I said I'd be posting less of this of this national/world news stuff. But look, I feel like the world is being set on fire by idiots and I just can't suppress the thoughts I'm having about it. It would be unhealthy. So, I ask you (if "you" even exist, I don't even think I have any readers, but that's cool too), bear with me.

Imagine a scenario where the US invades Iraq and subquently, after a lot of wrangling back and forth, ends up throwing its support behind a Shiite-dominated government there, the largest single block of which turns out to be led by a strongly anti-American Shiite cleric by the name of Muqtada al-Sadr. His militia, the Mehdi Army, is noteworthy for it's fierce clashes with US forces earlier in the war.

As time passes, imagine if the situation in Iraq deteriorates to the point where 100 Iraqis a day are killed by sectarian civil war or US troops directly and, in the process, we find that many of the Iraqis we're training to "stand up" so that we can "stand down" are moonlighting as insurgents.

Against this backdrop, all heck breaks out on the Israeli/Lebanese border leading Israel to invade and occupy the Shiite-dominated southern region of Lebanon, vowing to destroy the Shiite movement of Hezbollah, which enjoys huge support among the Shia in that country.

OK, now imagine the US standing up and, in a single voice, declaring it's undying devotion to the Israeli campaign to destroy the Shiite Hezbollah movement, even going to the extent of publicly hinting via it's proxies in the media that it's itching to join the fight and help out by attacking Hezbollah's primary Shiite backers in other countries (Iran, for instance).

Got it so far? Good, because here's the kicker. Meanwhile, back in Iraq, the shiite-dominated government draws much of it's support from the blessings of the most influential Shia cleric in the country, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who just so happens to hail from one of those very "other" Shiite-dominated nations that support Hezbollah that we're so eager to attack (Iran, for instance). And what of that anti-American militant who heads the largest single faction in the new Iraqi legislature (and whose father was s highly-respected Iranian-born cleric as well)? With whom do you suppose, by their own admission, does he and his movement most identify?... Hezbollah.

360-degrees. Something wrong here?

I'll answer that. Yes. This is what you get when you have a President who, while claiming a messianic vision to do in the middle east what no one has been able to do for generations and centuries, also had no idea that there was a difference between the shia and the sunnis until 2003, after he'd already decided to invade. Yes, he had no idea what it was he was invading and "transforming" until after he'd already set it in motion. Scared now?


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bush & the NAACP

I know I said wasn't doing any more of this general politics stuff but I just gotta deal with this. George the Usurper, after 5 years of refusing to do so, finally decided to speak before the NAACP today (he must really be desperate) and expressed his desire to change the relationship between the Republican Party and black America, citing widespread distrust of the GOP in the black community...

WASHINGTON, July 20 — President Bush sought to strengthen his party’s weak ties to black voters today, telling the NAACP he was saddened that the Republican Party — “the party of Abraham Lincoln” — and many African-Americans had become estranged.

Bush Seeks to Strengthen Ties to Black Voters
NY Times

Well, I have a few suggestions for Mr. Bush and GOPers everywhere who wish to achieve this laudable goal for thier party. I call them:

Things for the GOP to consider when attempting to change the Republican Party's reputation with black people (in no particular order)

1. When black people are dying and being displaced by the thousands in the greatest natural catastrophe in the nation's history, avoid discussions about how they all deserved it
for supposedly being morally bankrupt or saying things like, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." (or whatever city it might be). Also, you may find it helpful to send some sort of rescue effort their way too -- some national guard, choppers, a pontoon boat maybe. Something? Just a suggestion.

2. When the Voting Rights Act comes up for renewal, don't try to kill it.

3. Avoid filing amicus briefs on MLK's birthday arguing for the end of affirmative action.

4. Speaking of MLK
, you may want to consider not calling him a communist or a socialist.

5. Politely decline invitations to speak at racist institutions like Bob Jones University with the same frequency with which you decline those from the NAACP.

6. Speaking of the NAACP, don't trump up politically-motivated and hypocritical challenges to their tax-exempt status in an attempt to intimidate that organization, especially (but not only) after rebuffing their invitations to speak to them.

7. The next time David Duke wants to run for office in your party, don't vote for him.

7a. Ask yourself why David Duke feels at ease in your party.

8. Avoid lunches and fundraisers with (and membership in) known racist groups like the White Citizens Council (now calling themselves the "Conservative" Citizens Council). You know, the folks MLK had to fight so hard against?

9. Avoid writing or endorsing books that trash black people writ large as genetically inferior.

10. Under no circumstance should you use the term "tar baby", no matter how much affection you may have the Brer Rabbit stories (Think Cosell/"Monkey", just say no).


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

An admission

Before I started this blog a few weeks ago I thought it would be nice to have an outlet for a lot of the political thoughts I'd been dumping on my friends via e-mail. "If I can do that much decent writing there, why not here?" I reasoned. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Blogger of the Year Award. Once the blank page was in front of me I faced the problem of what to say. What do I have to say that people aren't already saying? There are literally thousands of other bloggers out there who share a lot my views who seem to have infinite amounts of time to do their blogging, teams of people participating and providing content for their blogs and a network of other prominent bloggers with whom to swap ideas, information, links and support. I've got none of that. All I've got is myself and whatever time I can spare between work, family, home and hobbies.

So, I've decided to leave the big national stories, for the most part, to the big national bloggers. These other excellent bloggers -- of which there are many, some of whom I link to out of sincere appreciation for what they do -- can cover the broad-based, national & world news and opinion more completely, consistently and prolifically than I ever could. In my first few posts here so far I've found myself simply regurgitating ideas and topics covered in other blogs and simply linking to them. I, it's sad to say, have been redundant. Maybe from time to time in the future I'll link to them for a change-of-pace but that will not be the focus here anymore.

I need to find a niche, something I do that adds unique value to the blogosphere. That niche, I think, will be to review and critique the way various individuals and organizations characterize statistical, scientific and polling data, studies and reports. As a commenter on several blogs, message boards and e-mails to friends I've been able to do some pretty bang-up work debunking a lot false spin that has been applied to such material in the past, providing viewpoints that I hardly see presented elsewhere (the exception, of course, would be the issue of global warming, on which there has been volumes written online).

Too many times we see public figures, especially on television, brandishing the latest report from God-knows-who on some issue and brow-beating anyone who challenges them with some alleged finding contained within. Too many times have I personally taken the time to search the web for a copy of the very reports these people cite, read the report for myself only to find that it has been cynically misrepresented or that the study itself is fraudulent. Other bloggers touch upon such incidents from time to time but I don't know if many others (if any) are focused primarily on this kind of research. So it is in this area that I think I can be of some service.

This is partially what I had in mind when I started this page in the first place (ergo the name), having been frustrated in my attempts to discuss a recent item of this sort on another blog. Seems they found me a bit wordy. I can't imagine why.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Report finds little difference between public and private schools

I wonder if this story from the NY Times will receive nearly as much coverage as this bit of fun-with-numbers nonsense (which I will discuss later) from a few weeks ago...

The federal Education Department reported Friday that, in reading and math, children attending public schools generally do as well as or better than comparable children in private schools. The exception was in eighth-grade reading, where the private-school children did better.

The report, which compared fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores from nearly 7,000 public schools and more than 530 private schools in 2003, also found that conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind public schools when it came to eighth-grade math.

The study, carrying the imprimatur of the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Education Department, was contracted to the Educational Testing Service and delivered to the department last year.

It went through a lengthy peer review and includes an extended section of caveats about its limitations, calling such a comparison of public and private schools "of modest utility."

Its release, on a summer Friday, was made without a news conference or comment from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.

Oh, I guess not. They weren't even allowed to hold a press conference on it. Typical.

Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, the union for millions of teachers, said the findings showed that public schools were “doing an outstanding job” and that if the results had been favorable to private schools, “there would have been press conferences and glowing statements about private schools.”

“The administration has been giving public schools a beating since the beginning” to advance its political agenda, Mr. Weaver said, of promoting charter schools and taxpayer-financed vouchers for private schools as alternatives to failing traditional public schools.

A spokesman for the Education Department, Chad Colby, offered no praise for public schools and said he did not expect the findings to influence policy. Mr. Colby emphasized the caveat, “An overall comparison of the two types of schools is of modest utility.”

Oh, so they do read the caveats in these kinds of studies, do they? Interesting. This, I'm certain, will be referenced later.

All emphases, of course, are mine.


Monday, July 10, 2006

The "Fiend of the Court " Brief

Supreme Court Fraud. I think we've just witnessed the creation of a new crime. Two senators, Jon Kyl from Arizona and Lindsay Graham from South Carolina -- both GOPers, of course -- tried to defraud the Supreme Court recently. They filed an amicus brief ("friend of the court") in favor of the Bushiites in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case over the Guantanamo detentions. The funny thing about this brief is that it makes certain claims as to this issue's legislative history based on a particular debate that took place on the senate floor. The funny thing about that debate is that it took place only after congress had already finished with the issue but, conveniently, before this brief was filed. The other funny thing is that the debate took place between just two senators, after hours, with no one else present and the text was inserted into the congressional record. Why it would almost appear as if this debate happened for no other reason than to allow for someone to make the very claims that are being argued in this very brief. Can you guess who those two senators who staged this mock debate were? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?...

Oh, John Dean has his hand up...

The Deceptive Amicus Brief


Monday, July 03, 2006

Travel Journalism = Terrorism

Here's a little tid-bit that encapsulates the whole NY Times travel section "controversy" very neatly for me. As you may know, conservative America is in the throes (the last throes, if you will) of an apoplectic fit of faux-rage over a travel article in the NY Times describing the summer homes of one Donald Rumsfeld (of the Arlington Rumsfelds) and Mr. Richard B. Cheney (Lord of the Siths). Some have even gone so far as to accuse the Times of publishing the article in retaliation for the White House's criticism of its earlier work (reg req'd, alternative link).

The blogger, Zuzu at Feministe, discussing the mock indignation flooding the media over this issue, alluded to the fact that numerous right-wing publications are guilty of the very crime for which they are now condemning the Times. She specifically alluded to the propaganda mill, NewsMax, in her post (h/t John Amato @ Crooks & Liars). Intrigued, I searched and I searched and found the offending NewsMax article and thought it would be fun to put it side-by-side with its previous work on the subject for the sake of comparison (and the concomitant ridicule it should inspire).

The most recent NewsMax article, deploring the NY Times for it's "retaliation" says:

New York Times Retaliates Against Cheney, Rumsfeld
Beware of travel feature stories posing as invitations to terror.

"The New York Times points cranks, radicals, al-Qaida operatives and would-be assassins to the summer homes of [V.P. Dick] Cheney and [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld" writes FrontPage Magazine's David Horowitz, who sees the June 30 Times feature article as an apparent retaliation for administration "criticism of the Times' disclosure of classified intelligence to America's enemies."

In the "Escapes" section of the June 30 edition, the N.Y. Times printed huge color photos of the vacation residences of Cheney and Rumsfeld, "identifying the small Maryland town where they live, showing their front driveways and, in Rumsfeld's case, actually pointing out the hidden security camera in case any hostile intruders should get careless," Horowitz writes.

Times Travel section writer Peter Kilborn even makes sure enemies of the two men will know such details as where Mrs. Rumsfeld shops in the eastern shore town of
St. Michaels, Md. where the two administration officials have weekend retreats...

For comparison (and a chilling stare into the eye of jaw-dropping hypocrisy), here is a snippet from a previous article from the very same NewsMax, posted just this past September (all emphases mine, of course):

Cheneys Head to Maryland Shore

Vice President Cheney is buying a house in posh
St. Michaels, Maryland - he is, that is, if you believe the rumors swirling around this Eastern Shore community on the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay.

Then again he and his wife may not be in the process of buying a luxurious $2.9 million mansion thought to have been built by one of Thomas Edison's daughters back in 1930.

According to the Washington Post, it's set amidst nine lush bayfront acres and includes extensive gardens, ornamental pools and spectacular views of the bay behind it - and it boasts among its neighbors Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld...


...Cheney's potential neighbor, Donald Rumsfeld, bought a weekend house in St. Michaels two years ago for a reported $1.5 million.

The Post writes that his neighbors like his desire to blend in - even if that means taking a walk with his wife, Joyce, down a rural stretch of road tailed by SUVs.

So, there you have it. By their own description, last September NewsMax sent an "invitation to terror" to the enemies of Cheney and Rumsfeld, letting the evil-doers know where they live and how to get to their wives, bloodthirsty traitors that they are. Shame on the NY Times for following their treacherous lead.