Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fundraising Numbers

Paul Hackett posted better than expected 4th quarter fund raising numbers yesterday in the Ohio Senate race. Hackett raised $465,779 last quarter and is reporting that he has $229,783 on hand. Hackett has also rolled out a new blog. You can check it out here.

Alito's In

Well, we lost the battle over Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. He'll be the 110th Supreme Court Justice. It should be noted that he is not the swing vote on Roe v Wade. That distinction still belongs to Justice Anthony Kennedy, and I would expect that most challenges to aspects of Roe will settled 5-4 on the side of Roe.

While Alito's confirmation leaves us with no future wiggle room, and is a blow to women's rights, we still haven't lost the war.

Health Savings Accounts

George Bush is expected to promote Health Savings Accounts (HSA) in tonight's State of the Union address. An HSA is an account in which you pay your money, or have your employer pay a portion of your money into a tax deductible account that you use to pay for medical expenses. I thought I would take a little time here to discuss the major flaw in HSAs.

In March of 2004, the Treasury Department issued four rulings regarding HSAs. The most important of these rulings has to do with prescription drug coverage. From IRS.gov:

Under section 223, an eligible individual cannot be covered by a health plan that is not an HDHP [High Deductible Health Plan] unless that health plan provides coverage for permitted insurance or permitted coverage. A plan that provides benefits for prescription drugs is a health plan. Prescription drug benefits are not in the list of permitted insurance or permitted coverage. Consequently, an individual who is covered by both an HDHP and by a prescription drug plan is not an eligible individual for the purpose of contributing to an HSA unless the prescription drug coverage is also an HDHP (i.e., the prescription drug plan does not provide benefits unless the required minimum annual deductible under section 223(c)(2)(A) for an HDHP has been satisfied).

In layman's terms, what this means is to be eligible for tax exempt status under an HSA, you have to give up any prescription drug coverage in which you are now enrolled unless that coverage is also an HDHP, which would not make financial sense unless you have really, really expensive drug costs. In other words you will now be paying the first $1,000 of your drug costs out of pocket, or $2,000 for a family.

Typically, if you now have prescription drug coverage today, you get your prescription, go to the pharmacy and pay a co-pay, or perhaps a small deductible. Under HSAs, this all goes away. You pay full price for your medication. The question is, who sets the price of this medication? I don't know yet. If it is like Medicare Part D, the private insurer sets the price and from the prices I've seen while reviewing Medicare Part D, they set them higher than you can buy prescriptions on the open market.

To make a long story short, if Medicare Part D is the Springtime prescription drug plan, HSAs are the Autumn prescription drug plan.


The following Democratic Senators have received the George Costanza Medal Of Valor for stampeding women while running from a room in which smoke was smelled.

Daniel Akaka, HI; Max Baucus, MT; Jeff Bingaman, NM; Robert Byrd, WV; Maria Cantwell, WA; Thomas Carper, DE; Kend Conrad, ND; Byron Dorgan, ND; Daniel Inouye, HI; Tim Johnson, SD; Herb Kohl, WI; Mary Landrieu, LA; Joe Lieberman, CT; Blanche Lincoln, AR; Bill Nelson, FL; Ben Nelson, NE; Mark Pryor, AR; John Rockefeller, WV; Ken Salazar, CO.

A sad group, indeed.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Cloture Okayed

In the end, it wasn't even close with 72 senators voting for cloture, and only 25 voting to extend debate. Pretty weak effort all around by the Senate Dems.

Record Profits

As you have probably heard by now, Exxon Mobile posted the largest profit ever for an American company in 2005, raking in a massive $36.13 billion. They weren't alone the whole oil sector made a mint last year. From The New York Times:

The fourth-quarter performance capped a record year for oil companies driven by a surge in crude oil and gas prices. Crude oil prices rose 40 percent last year, driven by rapidly rising demand from economically rising countries like China and India and production problems in oil-producing countries like Nigeria and Iraq.

Total revenues for the quarter reached $99.66 billion from $83.37 in the year-ago period.

Now, one of the reasons for this increase is that oil is sold on the commodities market, and if you are selling the most precious commodity in the world, people will pay a premium for that, and oil is the most precious commodity right now. Think about it, you can live without gold, but try living without oil. It's a tad bit tougher.

That being said, it's time we installed a windfall profits tax on the oil companies. One with some teeth, no hiding profits in overseas shell companies. And the republicans in Congress should probably stop giving these guys massive subsidies as they did in last year's Energy Bill. From the Washington Post:

It also includes an estimated $85 billion worth of subsidies and tax breaks for most forms of energy -- including oil and gas, "clean coal," ethanol, electricity, and solar and wind power. The nuclear industry got subsidies for research, waste reprocessing, construction, operation and even decommission. The petroleum industry got new incentives to drill in the Gulf of Mexico -- as if $60-a-barrel oil wasn't enough of an incentive. The already-subsidized ethanol industry got a federal mandate that will nearly double its output by 2012 -- as well as new subsidies to develop ethanol from other sources.

While subsidies are necessary to promote alternative sources of energy, in fact they are a must for the continuation of the human race, it's tough too keep giving them to oil and gas companies who simply throw them on their current pile of profits.

Lincoln Chafee

If the Democrats have done one thing right during the Alito fight, we have finally managed to paint Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) into the corner we want him in going into an election year. Chafee will probably vote for cloture, but has announced that he will vote no on the nomination.

It's tough to play it both ways. For his no vote on Alito, he will take a beating from primary opponent Steve Laffey, who is one of those Club For Growth nut jobs. Chaffee should be able to defeat Laffey, but not without any bloodletting by him.

After the primary, the Democratic candidate, either current Secretary of State Matt Brown or Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse, can then attack Chaffee for trying to have it both ways on Alito, and allowing a decidedly anti-choice justice on the Supreme Court.

Petro Choses LT Governor Candidate

As expected after Bob Bennett was unable to force Bob Ney out of his re-election bid, Jim Petro will announce today that he has chosen Joy Padgett, who would not run against Ney, as his running mate in the Governor's race.

According to internal GOP polling, Petro is currently down by 10 points to Ken Blackwell in the primary race, and although I think most of the late undecided voter will break for Petro, I don't know if enough of them will actually show up at the polls to get Petro over the top. Blackwell's voters seem more motivated to vote at this point.

The bottom line is that if it is a large turnout by primary standards, Petro wins. A smaller than average turnout would give the election to Blackwell.


Some people don't seem to know when they are overreaching, but the religious right's new avenue of attack in the culture wars really goes very far over the line, and I can't imagine that mainstream America can buy into these wacky ideas. The religious right is pushing for state legislation to allow health care workers to refuse treatment based on their religious beliefs.

We've all heard about pharmacists denying women morning after pills or contraception, but this goes far, far beyond that. From the Washington Post:

At least nine states are considering "right of refusal" bills that are far broader. Some would protect virtually any worker involved in health care; others would extend protection to hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities. Some would protect only workers who refuse to provide certain health services, but many would be far more expansive.

At least five of the broad bills would allow insurance companies to opt out of covering services they find objectionable for religious reasons. A sixth state, Pennsylvania, is considering a bill designed for insurers.

"These represent a major expansion of this notion of right of refusal," said Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization that studies reproductive health issues and is tracking the legislation. "You're seeing it broadening to many types of workers -- even into the world of social workers -- and for any service for which you have a moral or religious belief."

Basically, most of these laws simply give health care workers free reign to discriminate against whoever they want with no recourse for those who are refused treatment. This is decidedly un-American and a sad day for civil rights, and shame on the Washington Post for the title of this article "Health Workers' Choice Debated." I'm sorry, but patients rights trump health care workers rights everyday in my book.

I think every Democrat who is not considering filibustering Alito should read this article and ask themselves if they are comfortable with Samuel Alito sitting on the Supreme Court when some of these laws inevitably come before the court. It's a tough thought to stomach.

Just in case you don't think these people are nuts, check out this quote from the same article from David Stevens, executive director of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations. From WAPO:

"We are moving into a brave new world of cloning, cyborgs, sex selection, genetic testing of embryos," Stevens said. "The list of difficult ethical issues involving nurses, physicians, research scientists, pharmacists and other health care workers is just continuing to increase."

Cyborgs? Who said anything about cyborgs? But, if this is true, where can I get my Salma Hayek sex-bot?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Connecting The Dots

The one thing about Bill Frist's stock sale that never added up to me was the fact that he didn't dump his stock until June when the rest of the insiders dumped theirs in April. On Meet The Press today Frist connected the dots for me when he said that he initiated sale "weeks and weeks and weeks" before the sale. Well, weeks and weeks and weeks before June is what we call April when the others dumped. They simply didn't have to jump through the hoops Frist did.

After seeing Frist in what can't be called artfully dodge the question, I'm more convinced then ever that Frist broke the law on this stock sale.

Bob Woodruff

ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and camera man Doug Vogt were seriously injured by an IED while traveling with an Iraqi unit accompanied by the US 4th ID.

If Woodruff survives, and at this point it's unclear if he will, support for the war will take a serious beating. Disfigured familiar faces tend to turn off a great deal fence sitters from supporting what has turned out to be a fiasco.

Best wishes to both Bob and Doug.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cracking the Top Ten

Bob Ney's re-election announcement shot Ohio's 18th Congressional district into the Fix's top ten seats most likely to change hands at number six. Chris Cillizza, who writes The Fix for the Washington Post, also sheds some light as to why Ney is seeking re-election. From The Fix:

Another motivating factor for Ney may be financial. Ney has little personal wealth and has accrued considerable legal costs in the past year or so, making a retirement from Congress untenable from a dollars and cents point of view at the moment, according to several GOP strategists. Ney has, however, set up a legal defense fund to defray the legal costs of the federal investigation.

Keep in mind that Ney's campaign money can legally be used to directly pay his legal fees. Ney has already used $135,881 in campaign dollars to pay Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins.

The legal defense fund was set up because it is not covered by campaign contribution limits by donors, although current House rules limit campaign committees to a contribution of $5,000 per year.

It's January And We're Already Out Of The Pennant Race

It looks like the Senate Dems lack the courage to filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito. Even worse, it doesn't even look like they are going to be able to manipulate the cloture vote to put Lincoln Chafee on the hot seat.

One thing Senate Dems should take note of, we're not all Cubs fans. We don't come to the ballpark just because it's a cool thing to do. We want wins, and although we do realize that we can't always win, it doesn't mean you won't catch hell from us when you don't run out a ground ball, especially in the World Series of judicial appointments.

If you don't stop Alito, you're 0-2, and with Justice John Paul Stevens turning eighty six in April it's definitely the bottom of the ninth. Three strikes and we're all out.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Frist just filed a motion for cloture with the vote to take place on Monday at 4:30 PM. If there is no filibuster, the confirmation vote will take place on Tuesday at 11:00AM.

The Alito Hearings

This is your chance Senate Democrats. It's now your time to stand up and be counted. The Alito hearings start tomorrow, and you had better be prepared to filibuster the nomination.
You already know about his radical views on Roe, executive power, and civil rights. In an editorial today, the New York Times sums it up pretty clearly. From the NYT:

A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.

They're right, and yes, a filibuster will require courage, but courage is exactly what this country needs right now. There's no point in "keeping your powder dry" until the day that the radical right is using laser guns. We are already on a slippery slope to tyranny in this country with the recent revelations that President Bush has repeatedly broken the law and has stated that he will continue to do so.

It is your duty, indeed, your mandate given to you by the voters to perform your Constitutional function of providing checks and balance to the executive office, and in this situation the proper check is to filibuster. A vote for cloture, yet against the nomination should be considered a dereliction of this duty.

Strickland Picks Running Mate

In what I would consider a rather quixotic move, Ted Strickland has chosen Lee Fisher as his running mate in his bid for the Ohio governor's office. Fisher is a former Attorney General for Ohio who was defeated by Betty Montgomery.

I have to admit, this really came out of left field for me, and to be honest, I couldn't understand why Fisher would want the job, but then again, I had forgotten how young Fisher was when he was AG. He may see this as a potential stepping stone to the governor's office himself.

Ney Announces Re-election Bid

Bob Ney has announced that he will run for re-election in his Ohio 18 congressional district. This is great news for Democrats, especially if he can manage to put off indictments until after the primary where no credible opponent to Ney has stepped up.

Ney may be reading too much into the numerous recent press reports of his support within the district, because once the indictments drop, that support will fade fast. Most quotes I've seen from supporters indicate that if they find out that Ney broke the law, they think he should go to jail.

Bush Disses American Automakers

In a rather myopic view of the problems facing American automakers, President Bush said yesterday that Ford and GM should focus on building more appealing cars and signaled that he is against helping them through a buyout.

I'm not a fan of government buy outs either, but this is a situation really caused by a lack of universal health care in this country. GM, for example has a built in adder of $1,525 in each automobile that roll down its assembly line for health care. Pension adds another $675, and although GM didn't have the foresight to see that defined pension benefits might hurt them down the road, not many other American manufacturers did either.

These costs are covered by the governments of most of their foreign competitors.

Maybe Bush is hoping Wal-Mart will start selling those new Chinese autos that are going to hit the market soon.

The Suicide Belt Revolution?

In what are yet unofficial election results, Hamas has claimed to have won 76 seats in the 132 seat Palestinian parliament. This is much better than anyone had anticipated and better than exit polling had shown, although exit polling in past Palestinian elections has consistently shown lower results for Hamas than the results. The results could complicate the peace process. From the Washington Post:

If confirmed by election officials in a Thursday evening news conference, the Hamas victory would end the governing Fatah party's decade-long control of the Palestinian Authority. It would also severely complicate Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' policy of pursuing negotiations with Israel under a U.S.-backed peace plan known as the roadmap, which conflicts with Hamas' platform in several key respects.

Hamas officials in Gaza City, where their victory was greatest, said the group has no plans to negotiate with Israel or recognize Israel's right to exist. Europe, Israel and the United States classify Hamas, formally known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, as a terrorist organization.

I personally think that having Hamas inside the Palestinian government is a positive for the peace process, although with them having a ruling majority, the immediate future of the roadmap for peace is probably stalled. After some time, we can probably use their role inside the government to squeeze them into enforcing more discipline among their more radical elements to move the peace process forward.

The fact is, there are billions of dollars of investment in a Palestinian state waiting out there to be had if the peace process moves forward. Hamas now, as the ruling government, has both the inside track to gain access to these funds and the ability to enforce law and order, something Fatah never could do.

It should be interesting.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ethics Panel

The mush anticipated ethics panel at the Washington Post has turned out to be a real snoozer, but if you need a nap, you can read it here. One thing that did come up is that blogs should have defined rules for posting comments, and I've never really laid out the rules for posting at this site.

It's pretty simple really, I only have two. Don't use the proper names of people who are not public figures and no spam. Outside that, do whatever you want, even if it is off topic.

Update: Why was Glenn Reynolds asked in four separate questions why he doesn't allow comments in a moderated chat? Surely there were other questions sent to moderator Liz Kelly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It's All About Ricky

Last week Rick Santorum spoke to the Centre County republican party. He had the following to say. From Santorum Exposed:

A question to all of us is how much are we willing to fight to maintain this great country, I always find it remarkable that the men and women who are serving in the armed services, who are out there sacrificing tonight, and God bless them.

They volunteer, they step forward in a time of war. They step forward. We have a culture right now that doesn't say serve, it doesn't say don't think about yourself. It says me, me, me. It's a very self absorbed, me centered excessive popular culture. And yet we have brave men and women who are willing to step forward because they know what's at stake. They're willing to sacrifice their lives, for this great country.

What I'm asking all of you tonight is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker. Is it that much to ask? Is it that much to ask to step up and serve your country?" To fight for what we believe in. To fight for the values that made this country the greatest country.

So, while Santorum is disturbed by the modern popular culture that doesn't promote service, he certainly doesn't want republicans to have to perform any of that service.

Even worse, the bumper sticker Santorum was referring to was a Rick Santorum for Senate bumper sticker, not a support the troops bumper sticker. So while he was bemoaning the "me centered excessive popular culture," the sacrifice Santorum was looking for was for the benefit of him.

Typical. I can't wait for this dick to get his ass handed to him in November.


Remember the photographs of Bush and Abramoff that both the Washingtonian and Time magazine have now reported seeing. Newsweek correspondent Michael Isikoff is reporting that none other than the leader of the pack, Jack Abramoff is the one shopping the pictures around.

Somebody is going to pay up, whatever Jack wants. It's only a matter of time before Scotty is going to have some explaining to do.

Cue evil laughter.

Thin Green Line

In a 136 page report commissioned by the Pentagon, Andrew Krepinevich, the executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, comes to the conclusion that the US Army is racing to the breaking point through the rapid deployments and re-deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. From MSNBC.com:

Illustrating his level of concern about strain on the Army, Krepinevich titled one of his report’s chapters, “The Thin Green Line.”

He wrote that the Army is “in a race against time” to adjust to the demands of war “or risk ‘breaking’ the force in the form of a catastrophic decline” in recruitment and re-enlistment.

The US Army currently has close to a quarter of its fighting force in Iraq at any given time, not to mention billions of dollars in equipment which obviously wears out more rapidly given usage and environment.

Something has got to change. Staying the course is rapidly not becoming an option.

Reasonable Suspicion

The Bush administration has stated that the new reason they had illegally spy on Americans is that they were unable to meet the necessary standard of probable cause, but they had reasonable suspicions about the targets.

The only problem is that as Glenn Greenwald points out today, the administration was against reasonable suspicion as the standard before they were for it.

In 2002, Mike DeWine offered to introduce legislation to lower the standard from probable cause to reasonable suspicion. The Bush administration did not support it, and instead praised the Patriot Act which added the 72 hour retro warrant and the flexibility it gave the administration in obtaining the warrants.

Wow, I guess if going to break the law, the standard is irrelevant. Now the question is how many of the targets didn't even meet the lower standard?

Students Turn Back On Gonzales

Alberto Gonzales spoke today at Georgetown Law School about Bush's domestic spying program. As you can see, they weren't impressed.

Medicare Part D: Real People's Drug Costs

I've decided to take a look at real people's drug costs under Medicare Part D, and in particular how long they will spend in the coverage gap, or the donut hole, if you will. The first up is Marsha. (All names will be changed to protect their privacy) Marsha takes 8mg of Avandia once a day, 500mg of Glucophage twice a day, 10mg of Lipitor once a day, and 20mg of Monopril once a day.

Marsha's prescription drug coverage through Medicare will run out at the end of August using AArp's MedicareRx plan. (They have the best formulary site) She will never reach the catastrophic drug coverage, thus her coverage will, as I wrote earlier, fall off the cliff, not into the donut hole. Marsha's total out of pocket cost under Medicare D will be $2023.18 per year. ($1688.02 in drug costs plus $335.16 in premiums)

Now, if Marsha simply dropped out of the program after August, she could order her drugs through I Save Rx or another similar web site that imports drugs from other countries and her total cost would still be $1533.13 (I Save Rx quote), although I don't think that seniors should have to reach out to other countries that actually care about their elderly.

I used Medicare.gov, AARP MedicareRx, and I Save Rx to research these figures.

If you would like to participate in this study, either leave your prescription with dosage and number of times a day you take your meds in the comments or drop me an E-mail.

I should note that this is in no way an endorsement of either AARP MedicareRx or I Save Rx.

Drug Page Not Found

The above screenshot is what you get when you click on the presciption drug plan on Medicare's site. Probably not the best way to roll out a complicated plan.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Republican Dish

Tomorrow, Betty Montgomery will drop out of the republican gubernatorial race at a speech at Bowling Green, and Joy Padgett will not challenge Bob Ney in the primary for his seat, thus making her the front runner for Jim Petro's Lt. Gov.

Bob Bennett's glass house is currently safe from republican sleet.

Medicare Part D: The Springtime Prescription Drug Plan

Michael Hiltzik today gives and example of the donut hole today on his LA Times blog. From Goldenstateblog:

A patient covered by the plan that assigns a $470 price to Actonel would transition into the doughnut hole after about 41/2 months, or in mid-May. (This is assuming he or she had no other prescriptions.) The plan charging $602, however, would land the patient in the hole a full month sooner, thus imposing higher out-of-pocket costs for the year.

It's worth noting that those prices don't necessarily correspond to what each plan actually pays for the drug; they're merely contrived from a formula. Indeed, any patient can purchase a month's supply of Actonel from drugstore.com, an online pharmacy, for $67.99, cash - spending slightly more for a year's supply than some plans charge for a month.

Here's the problem. Once the 3 - 1/2 to 4 - 1/2 months of coverage expire, the user has a choice, buy the Actonel with the prescription drug card and pay a total of $2,850 over five months to get to catastrophic coverage, or pay $815.88 at drugstore.com for enough medication to get you through the rest of the year. It's not a difficult choice.

The coverage is not a donut hole you fall into as initially thought, it's a cliff you fall off.

Molly Rips Hillary

Molly Ivins gets very shrill with the DLC types in Washington in her latest column for Creators Syndicate. I agree 100% with her. From CNN.com:

I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.

The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It's about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief.

Absolutely, but you know, the right wing noise machine is going to attack us. Oh Molly, whatever will we do? From CNN.com:

Bush, Cheney and Co. will continue to play the patriotic bully card just as long as you let them. I've said it before: War brings out the patriotic bullies. In World War I, they went around kicking dachshunds on the grounds that dachshunds were "German dogs." They did not, however, go around kicking German shepherds. The MINUTE someone impugns your patriotism for opposing this war, turn on them like a snarling dog and explain what loving your country really means. That, or you could just piss on them elegantly, as Rep. John Murtha did. Or eviscerate them with wit (look up Mark Twain on the war in the Philippines). Or point out the latest in the endless "string of bad news."

Do not sit there cowering and pretending the only way to win is as Republican-lite. If the Washington-based party can't get up and fight, we'll find someone who can.

Damn right! I want a candidate who will not give up a single inch to these assholes. Oh, and don't let Bob Shrum anywhere near the campaign.

Molly's article is required reading so stop reading this shit and go read it here.

How Clean Is Your Grocery Store

Dateline has released the rankings of the ten largest grocery chain in terms of cleanliness. The rankings were based on the number of critical violations per inspection. Her are the rankings from cleanest to dirtiest:

1. Food Lion - .80 violations per inspection (VPI)
2. Save-A-Lot - .90 VPI
2. Wal-Mart - .90 VPI
4. Costco - 1.2 VPI
4. Sam's Club - 1.2 VPI
6. Winn-Dixie - 1.4 VPI
7. Kroger - 1.7 VPI
8. Publix - 2.2 VPI
9. Albertsons - 2.4 VPI
10. Safeway - 2.5 VPI

So now you know where your grocery ranks, maybe. I've only ever shopped at two of these, Kroger and Publix. For the record, this won't change my shopping behavior, but then again, I've bought cheese out of a five gallon bucket on the street in a third world country, so I might be the wrong person to ask about the cleanliness of a store.


The Supreme Court has refused to hear Black Berry manufacturer Reasearch In Motion's case today. RIM, a Canadian firm, was seeking to have a lawsuit for patent infringment filed by a US company, NTP Inc. The results could be devastating for Blackberry users. From MSNBC.com:

The high court’s refusal to hear Canada-based Research In Motion Ltd.’s appeal means that a trial judge in Richmond, Va., could impose an injunction against the company and block BlackBerry use among many of its owners in the United States.

What will people do with their thumbs now?


Harrold Ford Jr, who is running for Bill Frist's seat in the Senate, wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post in which made the following statement. From the Post:

We cannot leave Iraq and Afghanistan until they have adequate systems in place to govern and defend themselves. There is conflicting rhetoric coming out of the administration on this front. One day we hear that a pullout or drawdown of U.S. troops is imminent. The next we hear the opposite. I want the troops home as much as anyone, but having to send another generation to that region to fight 10 or more years from now because we left too early would be a worse outcome than the situation we now face. We need to do this right the first time.

He's right about Afghanistan, but in Iraq I'm afraid we're already through the looking glass. Our lack of security in the post war occupation has led to lawlessness and the verge of a civil war. It will take ten years to bring peace to the country, and I'm not sure our presence helps at all, at least with our current force levels. Also Bush has proved very reluctant to raise the necessary force level to one that can pacify the country.

Today's post highlights one of the main problems caused by our inability to make the population restive. The best and brightest Iraqis are simply leaving the country, and who could blame them. From the Post:

Iraq's top professionals -- doctors, lawyers, professors -- and businessmen have been targeted by shadowy political groups for kidnapping and ransom, as well as murder, some of them say. So many have fled the country that Iraq is in danger of losing the core of skilled people it needs most just as it is trying to build a newly independent society.

"It's creating a brain drain," said Amer Hassan Fayed, assistant dean of political science at Baghdad University. "We could end up with a society without knowledge. How can such a society make progress?"

The short answer to Fayed's question is that it can't. I've said many times that the occupation is a one shot deal. You have to get it right in the beginning or it is nearly impossible to recover. We didn't, and we haven't been able to recover. At this point I'm thinking we've done about all we can do and strategically the best thing to do would be to abandon the project.

Don't You Believe It

Nedra Pickler writes for ABC News that President Bush is making a change in his speeches, now he'll be taking unscripted questions from the audience. From ABCNews.com:

Move over, Oprah. President Bush is making himself into television's newest talk show host by making audience participation a feature of his appearances.

Bush has been taking questions from audience members in recent speeches, and the White House says none has been prescreened. It's a throwback to the folksy style on the campaign trail that helped him win re-election and a departure from the heavily scripted speeches that were the norm last year.

Umm, Nedra and I certainly have different memories of the 2004 campaign. The Super Bowl half time show isn't as choreographed as that campaign was, where things like this happened in Colorado:

The Secret Service revealed that we were "ID'ed" when local Republican staffers saw a bumper sticker on the car we drove which said "No More Blood For Oil." Evidently, the free speech expressed on one bumper sticker is cause enough to eject three citizens from a presidential event. (Similarly, someone was ejected from Bush's Social Security privatization event in Arizona the same day simply for wearing a Democratic t-shirt.)

You don't have to script the questions when you only admit lap dogs.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pork Barrel Spending

The University of Illinois was won a $10 million dollar federal grant. What for? From CNN.com:

A team of researchers won a $10 million federal grant to provide the first complete sequence of the swine genome -- a genetic map they say could help farmers produce better hogs, give consumers tastier pork and ultimately benefit human health.

What, even tastier pork? Now that's government spending I'm down with. Hell, you can even raise my taxes for that.

Bush And The Jack Pack

Scott McCellan has told the press that while the White House has been looking for pictures showing both Bush and Jack Abramoff, they had yet to find any. They must not be looking very hard. From the Washingtonian:

If the White House can’t find the photos, prosecutors already know where to look. The Washingtonian has seen five photos of the President with Abramoff or his family. One photo shows the President and Abramoff shaking hands at a meeting in the Old Executive Office Building, where a bearded-Abramoff introduced Bush to several of the lobbyist’s native-American clients.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but Abramoff's testimony may may be worth tens of thousands of words. Also from the Washingtonian:

Abramoff would tell prosecutors, if asked, that not only did he know the President, but the President knew the names of Abramoff’s children and asked about them during their meetings. At one such photo session, Bush discussed the fact that both he and Abramoff were fathers of twins.

Sorry Karl, scandal is going to be a major part of the mid-term elections.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Cat Fight

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that GOP State Party Chair Bob Bennett said Thursday that he would ask for Bob Ney's resignation if Ney was indicted on bribery charges. How did Ney take this? From The Enquirer:

Asked if Ney planned to step down if Bennett urged him to do so, Ney said: "I would say if he asked me to step down that he'd better look in the mirror because glass houses break easily."

Meow. I guess there really isn't any honor among thieves. The question is, which Bob is wearing a freakin wire, man!

For the record, I think Bennett is trying to clear the field for Joy Padgett.

Cuba's In The World Baseball Classic

The Bush administration has issued a licence to allow Cuba to play in the World Baseball Classic. The catch is that Cuba will donate all of the proceeds it receives to Katrina relief. You have to wonder if Fidel Castro's school yard taunts of chicken prompted the Bush administration's turn around on this issue.

It probably doesn't matter, the only team that would have a chance of beating the US is the Dominican Republic, and that's only if all of the players originally from there played for them. Alex Rodriguez, for example, is playing for the US.

As I wrote before though, without Cuba in the mix, this would have been the World Baseball Crappic.

Kooks Tire Of Truth

The kooks on Ohio's State Board of Education tired of hearing from members of the reality based society last week at hearings over intelligent design. They decided to berate the members of the public who came to testify over intelligent design. The Dispatch lays out some of the charges levied against the kooks:

• Elected board member Michael Cochran of Blacklick "cross-examined" a string of witnesses, including a graduate student, who criticized the 10th grade biology plan.
• Elected board member Deborah Owens Fink of Richfield questioned the character of a witness by producing an e-mail he wrote to a colleague that ridicules a supporter of intelligent design.

• One person declined to testify, citing attacks on previous witnesses.

• Cochran and appointed board member Richard E. Baker of Hollansburg showed their apparent lack of interest by reading a newspaper during the testimony.

Cochran, Baker, and Fink are morons, to be polite. The Dispatch goes on to describe some of the exchanges with my favorite being this one:

At one point, Cochran opened a newspaper, joining Baker who had been reading since the board first began debating the issue hours earlier.

The display prompted Brian McEnnis, an Ohio State math professor, to ask, "I would appreciate, sirs, Mr. Cochran and Mr. Baker, if you would refrain from public displays of rude behavior by reading the newspaper when I’m . . ."

Cochran interrupted: "I’m going to do what I want to do when I’m sitting at this table without any type of . . . "

"Mr. Cochran," interrupted board President Sue Westendorf , an appointed member from Bowling Green, banging her gavel. " . . . interruption by you," Cochran continued. "If you say something appropriate, I’ll listen to it."

So, Cochran and Baker, unable to comprehend the complexities of science, simply read the paper. Great Board we have there.

And even more troubling, Flying Spaghetti Monsterism failed to come up at all during the meeting. What the hell are we teaching our kids?

Iraqi Elections Now Official

It only took thirty six days to certify the results of the Iraqi election but now it's official, Ahmed Chalabi will not receive a seat in the new parliament. I really thought the delay was due to the fact that they were trying to find additional Chalabi votes that were previously "uncounted."

The neocons must be thinking, "Damn paper trail, if only it was as easy to steal an election in Iraq as it is here."

Anyway, congrats to the winners, and oh, good luck trying to pry the Oil Ministry out of Chalabi's hands.

War By The Numbers

Number of days it took Roosevelt and Truman took to defeat what were at that time two of the greatest war powers on the planet: 1378

Number of days it has taken on this administration's Iraq adventure to topple a tin-pot dictator with virtually no army: 1037 and still counting.

Number of days this administration has spent looking for one asshole in a cave: 1592 and counting.

Republican presidents sure seem to like fighting wars more than winning them.

Republican Leadership Battle

Something interesting has come up in the battle for the republican leadership. Virtually none of the rank and file party members seem to care. From the Washington Post:

The lack of grass-roots enthusiasm for broad changes on Capitol Hill may work to the advantage of Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), several legislators said. By most estimates, he is leading the race to become the next House majority leader -- despite his extensive connections to lobbyists, including some involved in the Abramoff scandal.

Blunt's right-hand man, Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.), another member of Rep. Tom DeLay's leadership team, is similarly favored to replace Blunt as majority whip, the third-ranking party leadership post.

The absence of a grass-roots rebellion has hindered the insurgent leadership campaigns of Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and others who are calling for fundamental changes in the way House Republicans govern in Washington, lawmakers said. Shadegg is running a distant third behind Blunt and Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), a longtime GOP insider with close ties to lobbyists.

Even some political junkies are yawning at the race. "Ethanol subsidies are more interesting," a reader of the Web log of the conservative National Review, which has endorsed Shadegg, wrote yesterday.

This could mean a lot of different things. These are tough tea leaves to read. It could mean that republican activists are content with the status quo, it could mean that rank and file party members are simply turned off by politics right now, or it could mean that average republicans simply have more important things to worry about.

I'm betting that they are content with the status quo, which could very well be a death knell for some swing district republicans.

One thing is for sure, republicans just don't seem to be as energized as they have been in recent cycles.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Mixed Results

The January edition of the Zogby Battleground States Poll shows mixed results in Ohio. In the gubernatorial race, Ken Blackwell leads Ted Strickland 45.9% to 41.4%. In the Senate Race, probable primary winner Sherrod Brown leads incumbent Mike DeWine 41.3% to 37%.

All in all, even Strickland's numbers aren't that bad, though I'd like to see some name ID results.

Hitler, Who Said Anything About Hitler?

Hitler, Who Said Anything About Hitler? Certainly not The Columbus Dispatch in their article about the luncheon that Ken Blackwell and AG candidate Ron O'Brien attended on Tuesday with the Ohio Restoration Project. But somebody there did invoke the image of Hitler and the Nazis. From the Akron Beacon Journal:

Against a large U.S.-flag backdrop and flanked by large projection screens, Ohio Restoration Project founder Russell Johnson brought his 10-city Patriot Pastors tour to the Akron-Canton area Tuesday.

A choir and a gospel quartet brought the audience to its feet with praise songs as images of American landmarks, heroes and troops moved across the screens.

Johnson warned that Christians have allowed a ``secular jihad'' to remove prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Bible from public places.

He likened it to Nazi Germany, where church congregations would sing so that they could not hear the passing of trainloads of crying Jews headed for a nearby concentration camp.

Too many Christians lead ``Neville Chamberlain lives,'' Johnson said, referring to the British prime minister who signed a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler.

A picture of Hitler and Chamberlain flashed on the screens. [emphasis mine]

Wow, that brings us to two questions. First, what the hell are all the other gubernatorial candidate's campaign managers doing? I'd have my candidate all over the media calling for Blackwell to denounce Johnson's statements and imagery. Ditto for O'Brien. Anytime you can get free publicity while dragging your opponent's name though the mud is about as good as it gets.

Secondly, how can the Dispatch not mention this in its article? Could there be a bigger story to come out of this luncheon than the Nazis? That's piss poor journalism at best, or at the worst, editorial misconduct if they quashed the story.

Found via The Street Prophets

Donut Holes

I actually hadn't heard about the "donut hole" in Medicare Part D until today. The way the "donut hole" works is that after your total prescription drug costs reach $2250 per year Medicare Part D simply stops paying any part of any prescription. You have to pay the next $2850 per year of your drug costs out of pocket. Then, after your total prescription costs total $5100 per year, Medicare kicks back in, thus creating a "donut hole" in your coverage.

Any sane person would ask why in the world would you write a policy this absurd. The reason is to hide the true cost of the program. In September of 2004, the White House was low balling the true cost saying this program would cost $534 billion dollars. In February of 2005, they fessed up to the fact that it might cost as much as $1.2 trillion dollars, but that figure also includes the donut hole. (All of the numbers I'm citing are over ten years unless otherwise noted.)

Now, some time around the late summer or early fall a number of seniors are going to fall in the hole, and they are going to be pissed. I can't imagine that the republicans are dumb enough not to plug the hole, which could cost as much as another $400 billion dollars. The elderly turn out to vote in droves and if this hole isn't plugged, the GOP will hemorrhage elderly voters. This plug could push the total cost to $1.6 trillion.

Medicare Part D is rapidly becoming an even more of a perfect storm than Katrina to beat over the heads of republicans. Should be some fun midterm elections.

Illegal Wiretap Hearings Get Some Mo From D Bro

David Broder of the Washington Post picks up where Al gore left off on Monday pushing for Congressional hears on Illegal wire taps. From WAPO:

But the other cases Gore cited are more troubling. The Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, for which only low-level military personnel have been punished, traces back through higher and untouched levels of command to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the White House, all of which failed in their duties to ensure that the occupation forces were adhering to recognized international standards for the treatment of prisoners.

Similarly, the administration's resistance to setting and enforcing clear prohibitions on torture and inhumane treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism raises legitimate questions about its willingness to adhere to the rule of law. From the first days after Sept. 11, Bush has appeared to believe that he is essentially unconstrained. His oddly equivocal recent signing statement on John McCain's legislation banning such tactics seemed to say he could ignore the plain terms of the law.

If Judge Samuel Alito is right that no one is above the law, then Bush's supposition deserves to be challenged.

Gore's final example -- on which he has lots of company among legal scholars -- is the contention that Bush broke the law in ordering the National Security Agency to monitor domestic phone calls without a warrant from the court Congress had created to supervise all such wiretapping. If -- as the Justice Department and the White House insist -- the president can flout that law, then it is hard to imagine what power he cannot assert.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter has summoned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to a hearing on the warrantless wiretap issue, and that hearing should be the occasion for a broad exploration of the willingness of this administration to be constrained by the Constitution and the laws.

Broder's column carries a lot of weight inside the beltway for reasons that escape me, so now all the kool kidz in the DC press corp should be piling on soon.

Impeachment anyone?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lunch Date With God

What do you do when a complaint has been filed against you with the IRS? Well, if you're the Rev Robin Parsley, you flaunt the fact that you are violating the law by holding a luncheon to promote the exact thing for which the complaint was filed. From the Columbus Dispatch:

Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell told conservative religious leaders yesterday not to be deterred from political participation by a federal complaint filed by 31 Columbus-area pastors.

"You tell those 31 bullies that you aren’t about to be whupped," said Blackwell, the secretary of state, who said that "political and social and cultural forces are trying to run God out of the public square."

Blackwell was the only candidate for governor invited to address 450 pastors and Christian conservatives at a luncheon north of Canton sponsored by the Ohio Restoration Project two days after it and several allied religious entities were accused of illegally engaging in partisan politics.

You can count me in as one of those trying to run God out of not so much the public square, but our government. I really don't care if somebody sets up a nativity scene, or menorah, or whatever on public grounds as long as all religions are granted equal access and it stays outside the building. I object when these guys think that their God should be installed in our schools, courts, and other government entities. You know, that whole separation of church and state, etc.

It's also important to remember that all these churches have to do to have full participation in the political process is to give up their tax exempt status. But that would knock a little bit of the sparkle off the opulence that is the House of Big Box Jesus, wouldn't it Robin?

Medicare Part D

It probably was a mistake for republicans to roll out this clusterfuck in an election year. Twenty states have had to pass emergency legislation to cover the elderly who are being denied prescription drug coverage. From the Chicago Sun Times:

The Medicare drug program that was supposed to win political points for Republicans has exploded in their faces as this election year has begun. It's a particularly vexing problem for the GOP, since older Americans are such active voters and no one seeking office wants to see them angry.

Since the Bush administration's prescription medicine program began on Jan. 1, tens of thousands of elderly people have been unable to get medicines promised by the government. Some 20 states have had to jump in to help them.

What's the Bush administration's response? They are going to return to the only thing they know about governance, which is campaigning. From the Washington Post:

President Bush's top health advisers will fan out across the country this week to quell rising discontent with a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that has tens of thousands of elderly and disabled Americans, their pharmacists, and governors struggling to resolve myriad start-up problems.

Unless they're planning a barnstorming tour in the new medmobile, they're probably not going to find many sympathetic ears. Hard to believe a prescription drug plan written by republicans and the pharmaceutical industry doesn't favor people over corporate interests, isn't it.


In what will surely be the last case regarding abortion to come before the current make up of the Supreme Court, the Supremes chose to punt the case back to a lower appeals court. From the New York Times:

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that a lower court was wrong to strike down New Hampshire abortion restrictions, steering clear of a major ruling on they placed an undue burden on women.

The opinion was written by retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a key swing voter at the court on abortion rights.

Justices said a lower court went too far by permanently blocking the law that requires a parent to be told before a daughter ends her pregnancy.

An appeals court must now reconsider the law, which requires that a parent be informed 48 hours before a minor child has an abortion but makes no exception for a medical emergency that threatens the youth's health.

The question is whether or not this will push any wavering Dems toward a filibuster of Alito. I hope so.

Reform, Republican Style

Dennis Hastert outlined the republican reform plan yesterday. Typically, this legislation isn't about reform at all. From the Washington Post:

According to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if Hastert's proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world on an interest group's expense and eat steak on a lobbyist's account at the priciest restaurants in Washington.

The only requirement would be that whenever a lobbyist pays the bill, he or she must also hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly okay.

That isn't reform, that's a shakedown. Are they serious? For lobbyists to buy a meal or fly someone for free, they now also have to get extorted for some campaign cash as well? That's ridiculous. This only will stand to make the problem worse, it's laughable.

So, if I want to buy a dirty politician, I also have to help him get re-elected. Makes sense I guess, saves time on trying to find other dirty politicians to buy.

This goes back to what I said earlier. Lobbyists aren't the problem, unethical politicians are, and they all seem to be republicans these days.

Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances

Sounds like some right wing group put together to smear a prominent Democratic politician, right? Well, it is a right wing group, but this one has been put together to call attention to Bush's illegal NSA domestic spying program. They are calling for Congressional hearing on the program. From their press release:

"Public hearings on this issue are essential to addressing the serious concerns raised by alarming revelations of NSA electronic eavesdropping." -- Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform

Wow, Bush has even lost Grover freaking Norquist on illegal domestic spying.

Can it be long before we see television ads portraying Sally, a soccer mom from Iowa whose e-mail with an electronic pen pal in Saudi Arabia whom she met playing internet backgammon was tapped, being visited by jack booted thugs from the NSA. They'll detain Sally without the benefit of council, Jose Padilla style, for three months before they determine she isn't a threat.

I'll kick in a few dollars to get those ads run.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Choke Point

Since the discovery of warrantless NSA domestic spying, I had been wondering how in the world they could possibly begin to follow up on all the leads this program would generate.

The New York Times answers that question today. They overloaded the FBI with tips, and according to the FBI, forced the FBI to chase down thousands of useless leads that wasted countless valued FBI counter terrorism man-hours. From The New York Times:

"We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed," said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration."

That sounds pretty close to assumptions I had made about the program when I first heard about it. I knew there had to be a choke point in the process of investigating the leads and I figured it would be when the leads were turned over to field agents and this seems to be the case.

How exactly is this making us safer?

Nagin Loses His Noggin

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin took a page out of looney Pat Robertson's playbook yesterday in a speech he gave for a Martin Luther King celebration. From CNN.com:

In his speech, Nagin also said "God is mad at America," in part because he does not approve "of us being in Iraq under false pretenses."

"He is sending hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it is destroying and putting stress on this country," Nagin said.

He said God is "upset at black America also."

"We are not taking care of ourselves. We are not taking care of our women, and we are not taking care of our children when you have a community where 70 percent of its children are being born to one parent."

This is every bit as batshit crazy as the things Pat Robertson says. God is not angry with the US, black America, Ariel Sharon, the residents of Dover, Pennsylvania, or any other person or place that these kooks mention. Nagin needs to shut up.

Place Your Bets

Anyone want to guess which radical right wing Christian blow hard will be the first to invoke the Golden Globes as proof that Hollywood and the "gay agenda" are destroying the moral fiber of America?

Lets see, gay cowboy pic wins four awards, gay writer pic wins one award, and trans-gender pic also wins one. Also, just for an extra kick in the dick, right wing bogeyman George Clooney took home some hardware as well.

For the record, I'm betting on James Dobson of Focus On The Family. Place your picks in the comments.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Jesus, how good has 24 been so far this season. I don't think I've ever had two hours of my life pass that quickly.


I haven't really said anything about Iran yet, but their quest for nuclear power is rapidly becoming a problem. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin put forth a compromise that the Russians have been pushing on Iran. From MSNBC.com:

Putin, speaking after a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, said "one of the main problems is the enrichment of uranium.

"We proposed to our Iranian partners to set up a joint enrichment venture on Russian territory. We have heard various opinions from our Iranian partners on that issue. One of them has come from the Foreign Ministry -- our partners told us they did not exclude the implementation of our proposal."

"In any case, it's necessary to work carefully and avoid any erroneous moves," Putin said.

The way this would work is that the Iranians would enrich nuclear fuel under Russian supervision, use it in their own nuclear facilities, and then the Iranians would return the spent fuel rods to Russia for proper disposal.

I don't think this is a road we want to travel down. It makes my stomach a bit queasy to think that enriched uranium would be traveling the roads or rails of an unstable part of the world. It's much too easy to hi-jack, even though the convoys would certainly enjoy military support. Even if the fuel was taken by plane, I'm just not at ease with this plan.

I think that a much better compromise would be the "Korean Solution" where South Korea has offered to build a power plant near the border with North Korea in order to supply them with their electric needs, although Iran is much larger than North Korea. Offering this solution also gives the Iranians a chance to blink. If they are truly only interested in the generation of electricity, this solves their problem and they can discontinue their program.

If they still persist given this option, I would say the missiles are on the way, which can't be good for our troops on the ground next door in Iraq.

Following In The Duke's Footsteps

Looks like Jack Pack member Bob Ney is following the Duke Cunningham playbook to a tee. First he denied any wrongdoing. Now it seems like he's ready to take the next step. From the Washington Post:

Ney left open the possibility yesterday that he could leave Congress rather than face reelection in November under an ethical cloud. Ney said he intends "to continue working as hard as possible on behalf of my district and my constituents," but he did not say he will ask them for their vote this fall.

I'm sure after the indictment drops Ney will say that he is not running for re-election to Congress to fight these baseless charges. Then of course, he will continue to serve in Congress until his lawyers obtain a plea deal.

It's like deja vu all over again.

The Jack Pack

Another member of the Jack Pack has landed himself on page 1 of the Washington Post. Ralph Reed is featured in a not so rosy profile. Reed, who you may remember as the head of the Christian Coalition in the 90s, was recently confronted about his dealings with Jack Abramoff. From the Washington Post:

Ralph Reed, candidate for lieutenant governor, had just finished his opening statement to the Dawson County Republican Party when retired pulp paper executive Gary Pichon sprang from his seat with a question that cut to the chase:

"Did you accept any gifts, commissions or other payments of any kind from Mr. Abramoff, and are you likely to be a party in the unfolding investigation?"
Silence enveloped the 60 or so Republicans in the auditorium, and Reed's cheerful manner turned tense. "No," he replied. "No to all these."

Really? A lot of e-mails that Abramoff has turned over to federal prosecutors seem to tell another story. Also from the Post:

Among those e-mails was one from Reed to Abramoff in late 1998: "I need to start humping in corporate accounts! . . . I'm counting on you to help me with some contacts." Within months, Abramoff hired him to lobby on behalf of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, who were seeking to prevent competitors from setting up facilities in nearby Alabama.

In 1999, Reed e-mailed Abramoff after submitting a bill for $120,000 and warning that he would need as much as $300,000 more: "We are opening the bomb bays and holding nothing back."


One of the most damaging e-mails was sent by Abramoff to partner Michael Scanlon, complaining about Reed's billing practices and expenditure claims: "He is a bad version of us! No more money for him." Scanlon and Abramoff have pleaded guilty to defrauding clients.

A bad version of them, wow that’s bad. You have to wonder what kind of fraudulent expenses Reed was trying to pass along to get a reaction like that. Probably similar to the reaction Reed is getting from a lot of former supporters. Post:

"After reading the e-mail, it became pretty obvious he was putting money before God," said Phil Dacosta, a Georgia Christian Coalition member who had initially backed Reed. "We are righteously casting him out."

Ouch. When you get tossed from the local chapter of an organization you used to head nationally, it’s probably the end of the line for you.

Side Note: Using the phrase "The Jack Pack" is probably a good way to frame the republican players in this scandal. It's simple. "Oh, he's a member of the Jack Pack" Could be a tough label to shake.

The Tax Man Cometh

I didn't have to look far this morning to find some good news. It was right there on the front page of the Columbus Dispatch. Over thirty local religious figures have filed a complaint to have the tax exempt status of World Harvest Church and Fairfield Christian Church revoked for violating the 52 year old IRS ban of churches participating in politics.

These guys apparently did a lot of research before filing, including hiring DC tax attorney Marcus Owens to help with drafting the complaint. From the Dispatch:

John Green, a University of Akron authority on religion and politics, said the complaint is extraordinary because it was filed by pastors rather than watchdog groups that routinely monitor church and state issues.

"This complaint is detailed and complex enough that I think the IRS is going to say, ‘We better look into this,’ " said Green, author of Religion and the Culture Wars.

Whether or not anything comes of this, it had to be done. These guys have been stepping way over the line for a long time, and now hopefully, Big Box Jesus is either going to have to shut up or put up, taxes that is.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Ney Taking Sabbatical

Bob Ney has now officially temporarily stepped down from his position as the chairman of the House Administration Committee. Ney should ask Tom Delay just how well those temporary step downs work. Seldom is the seat warmer not willing to smile at your cold ass.

Pay Me Two Times, Baby

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been paying some of his top aides campaign salaries on top of their states salaries, The LA Times reported today. From the Times:

The combination boosted their overall annual compensation rates from the $120,000-to-$130,000 range to $180,000 to $190,000. That's more than the governor's job pays, although Schwarzenegger waives his $175,000 state salary.

The payments went to three of Schwarzenegger's most influential advisors: Patricia Clarey, who left her job as chief of staff in December; Rob Stutzman, who stepped down as communications director Friday; and Richard Costigan, who continues to serve as the governor's chief liaison to the Legislature.

Last week, Schwarzenegger's office confirmed that his new chief of staff, Susan P. Kennedy, would double as a campaign aide and be paid campaign funds in addition to her $131,000 government salary.

All the aides appear to be getting paid around five thousand a month for campaign activities. This is either dirty or dumb. California law prohibits doing campaign work on state time, so these guys are either breaking the law or they are working after work on Schwarzenegger's various campaigns.

Now, let's suppose they aren't breaking the law. If they were working an additional forty hours a week on the campaign that would break down to about $30 an hour, and I doubt these guys are putting in eighty hours a week. So, Schwarzenegger is probably paying closer to $100 dollars an hour for campaign work. That's pretty expensive, even for California.


Strange things appear to be afoot in Texas. Moderate republicans seem to be lining up to make independent bids for several offices thereby cutting their own party's throat. I guess they figure to save their party, they must first destroy it.

According to a Houston Chronicle poll, even Tom Delay would lose today with Steve Stockman pulling in enough votes to allow Democrat Nick Lampson to beat Delay. From the Houston Chronicle:

"Any vote Stockman gets is going to come out of Tom DeLay's hide," [University of Houston pollster Richard] Murray said. "DeLay's November fate depends on what happens in the real world. He has to be acquitted."

Stockman has stated that he will run, but is not yet on the ballot.

Also, in the upcoming Governor's race, Scott McClellan's mother is going to make an independent bid which will only draw votes away from current Governor Rick Perry, Although he may face a primary challenge from Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

All in all, a trend that makes me smile.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bob Ney About To Quit Committee Chairmanship

Looks like the mayor of Capital Hill is about to abdicate.


Isn't kind of eerie how much German Chancellor Angela Merkel resembles Harriet Miers.

AP Photo

Rant Time

Tom Collier of Worthington writes an letter to the editor in today's Dispatch where he proclaims that President Bush needs to conduct unlawful surveillance to protect us from terrorists. From the Dispatch:

Many say Bush should not be allowed to do this, and to them I say: What do you need to change your minds? Another terrorist attack? Another couple thousand Americans dead?

Sometimes you have to give up freedom to obtain it. No, wait, you always have to give up freedom to obtain it. [emphasis his]

By the way, in this poorly written op-ed Collier doesn't say what "it" is, but I'll assume he's talking about national security. Digby and Kos and others have danced around the labeling of these guys, using more politically correct language than I am prone to use. That being said, if you are a feminist or sensitive to harsh language you might want to skip the next paragraph.

Tom Collier is a pussy, in fact, he might be the biggest pussy ever to grace the editorial page of the Columbus Dispatch. Tom, if you are so afraid of the big bad terrorists I have some advise for you. Go to the store and buy a ten year supply of canned beans, then take your bitch cunt ass to your bomb shelter, bunker, safe room, or wherever you sniveling little cunts go to cry for your mommies. If, during the duration of your stay, something even slightly resembling a penis happens to grow between your legs, feel free to rejoin our free society. Otherwise, just go away.

Look, I live at or near what would almost certainly be ground zero for a major terrorist attack in Columbus, Ohio. If one happens I will almost certainly die. But, for the freedoms this country affords me I am quite prepared to die, so I accept that. Even your beloved president stupidly says that "they hate out freedoms." It appears you do too, so I guess that makes you one of them.

If the rest of the United States were to adopt your views, then I would feel quite safe saying that the terrorist have won.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Know Your Hacks

One of President Bush's recent recess appointments was Ellen Sauerbrey who was tapped as the new Director of the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. This is the agency that helps out with refugees world wide. I wonder what she brings to the table? According to the New York Times, "Ms. Sauerbrey has zero experience in emergency management and refugee resettlement." Hmm, who is this hack and why was she picked? From the Eugene Register-Guard:

There's actually something even worse about Sauerbrey's back-door recess appoint to this post than her zero experience. She is revered by the religious right for her strident opposition to sex education, safe sex initiatives, emergency contraception, abortion and the entire range of women's reproductive health services that are absolutely vital to refugee populations.

Fully 80 percent of refugees are women and children. Because of the extremely high rates of sexual violence, coercion and disease risk in refugee camps, women must have access to effective reproductive health, contraception and sexually transmitted disease prevention programs.

It might not matter if the president of the United States wanted this television show host and two-time loser as the Republican candidate for Maryland governor to be the Minister of Silly Walks. But Bush has tapped Sauerbrey to head an agency with 100 employees and a $700 million annual budget that regularly confronts more complex and difficult global crises than FEMA typically faces in the United States.

One thing you have to admit about republicans, they throw their losers bones, even if it means putting thousands of lives at risk. Of course, if this kind of incompetence is good enough for republicans here at home, why would they export anything better abroad?

Found via John at Americablog

Republican Governors Association

The republican Governors Association has announced that it will give $500,000 that it received from Michael Scanlon to charity, eventually. They plan to donate the money over a two years period. Now, there are several gubernatorial elections this year which will be held this year, including here in Ohio.

I guess I only have one question. Which republican gubernatorial candidates are going to pledge not to dip into the RGA's dirty slush bucket until these funds are cleared from the books?

Voyeur Law

The Ohio House unanimously passed a bill that will close a loophole in Ohio law concerning the use of video or film in peeping tom cases. It's probably good legislation, although I haven't read it.

I heard the sponsor of the bill, State Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, on NPR this morning and found a follow up article from the Dayton Daily News. Something didn't quite click. From the Dayton Daily News:

State Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, said the loophole came to his attention when he and his wife watched a documentary film about a couple videotaped by a voyeur.

The film noted that few states had laws explicitly banning videotaping and filming, he said.

"I did the research and realized there was a loophole in Ohio law," Oelslager said.

A republican watching something as high minded as a documentary? So, I did a little research also and seems pretty clear that the "documentary" Oelslager was referring to is the based on a true story, Lifetime Original Movie entitled Video Voyeur - The Susan Wilson Story starring Angie Harmon.

So, Rep. Oelslager spends his spare time watching Lifetime, Television For Women. What a bitch!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mike Pirik

Another day, another republican indicted. This time it's a local. Former Muni Clerk of Courts Mike Pirik was charged today with a felony count of tampering with records. He has no plans to fight the charges and will enter a guilty plea on Tuesday.

Pirik was beaten last November as the cloud of this investigation left the county republicans with only three elected officials in Franklin County. I don't count judges because the elections are non-partisan and they're really just name id contests.

Franklin County has been trending more and more Democratic in recent years due in part to white flight to Delaware County and also due to the fact that the county's East African population has steadily been gaining citizenship.

I have a feeling that Franklin Country republican chairman Doug Preisse secretly hopes that Ron O'Brien fails in his bid for State AG, because if he wins the Franklin prosecutor's job will come to this side of the aisle as well.

Back In The Drug Addle Again

Former DC mayor and current city councilman Marion Barry was back on the pipe, baby. The Washington Post reports that Barry failed a mandatory drug test after pleading guilty to misdemeanor tax charges last fall for failing to file taxes in the last six years. Barry reportedly had cocaine in his system.

Really, if you still haven't figured it out by age 69, going back to rehab seems kind of pointless.

Roe Vs Wade

Samuel Alito said today under questioning from Dick Durbin that Roe Vs Wade is not settled law as John Roberts said. From The New York Times:

Giving careful, limited answers to probing and sometimes aggressive questions about his views on abortion, Judge Alito said he would give considerable weight to decades of rulings built on the concept that a decision to terminate a pregnancy falls under a constitutional right to privacy.

"Today, if the issue were to come before me, if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed and the issue were to come before me, the first question would be the question that we've been discussing, and that's the issue of stare decisis," the legal term for precedent, he said.

"And if the analysis were to get beyond that point, then I would approach the question with an open mind and I would listen to the arguments that were made."

Reversing Roe is what Alito is referring to when he says he'll "keep an open mind on abortion." This is one of those innocuous sounding code phrases the republicans have grown fond of in the past few years which sounds good to centrists, but means something entirely different in practice. Alito is keeping an open mind about changing settled law.

After Alito's statement Tom Colburn's hands rapidly descended below the table only to come up seconds later covered in an unidentified sticky white substance.

Intelligent Design: A New Angle

Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec, California is trying a new angle to get intelligent design into the class room. They are proposing, actually they have already starting teaching the class as a philosophy course, although I've never taken a philosophy course in which physical and chemical evidence were presented to "prove" any certain philosophical viewpoint. From the LA Times:

An initial course description, which was distributed to students and their families last month, said "the class will take a close look at evolution as a theory and will discuss the scientific, biological and biblical aspects that suggest why Darwin's philosophy is not rock solid. The class will discuss intelligent design as an alternative response to evolution. Physical and chemical evidence will be presented suggesting the earth is thousands of years old, not billions."

The course, which began Jan. 3 and is scheduled to run for one month, is being taught by Sharon Lemburg, a special education teacher with a bachelor of arts in physical education and social science, according to the lawsuit.

The suit adds that Lemburg "has no training or certification in the teaching of science, religion or philosophy," and is "the wife of the minister for the local Assembly of God Church, a Christian fundamentalist church, and a proponent of a creationist world view."

So, they got the special ed teacher to head up the ID department. I'd say that's apropos, wouldn't you? A fair amount of the proponents of ID belong her regular class anyway, so she'll be used to them.

The article doesn't mention whether or not this class is mandatory or an elective, or if it is an elective how many students signed up for it. I myself would have probably avoided this snoozer like the plague in my formative years. Then again, I might have taken the class to repeated proclaim the whole premise is bullshit and that Flying Spaghetti Monsterism is the only true path, which it is.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


President Bush today gave a speech to the VFW in Washington. Here's MSNBC's description:

President Bush urged Iraqis on Tuesday to put aside political, religious and sectarian differences to form a government of national unity, warning that the country "risks sliding back into tyranny" if it dwells on old grievances.

"Compromise and consensus and power sharing are the only path to national unity and lasting democracy," Bush said in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

That certainly has a hollow ring to it coming from a man who has done everything in his power to divide his own country and cater to extremists, doesn't it? Do as I say, not as I do.

Sam Alito

From the bits and pieces I've seen from the Alito hearings, I've sort of formed a personal opinion of the guy. He seems to be to have been a sheltered bookworm who was so traumatized by the hippies he encountered at Princeton he has spent the last thirty some years running away from any sort of freedom. He definitely appears to hold a grudge. What an odd man.

Tom Colburn

Another Supreme Court nominee hearing, another hysterical rant from Tom Colburn, this time bemoaning sodomy and abortion. At least he was a little more testicular than the Robert's hearings where his hissy fit left him in tears. Oh well, others will get to speak and Colburn can go back to his cross word puzzles, probably from Redbook.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Framing The Abramoff Scandal

Mark Schmitt is absolutely correct in his analysis on what the Democrats reform position should be. From TPMCafe:

Democrats and Republicans are falling over each other to introduce "lobbying reform" bills -- requiring lobbyists to disclose contacts with legislators, banning trips, etc. By the end of next week, we will have between two and four lobbying reform packages, and will enter a ridiculous debate about which bill would leave fewer loopholes.

Can I take this Sunday evening calm to plead with Democrats not to go down this road. Where's George Lakoff when we need him??? Please don't reinforce the frame that this is a "lobbying scandal" and the villain a "lobbyist" named Jack Abramoff.

That's the other side's frame. This is not a lobbying scandal. It's a betrayal-of-public-trust scandal. Lobbyists have no power, no influence, until a public servant gives them power. That's what DeLay and the K Street Project was all about. What they did was to set up a system by which lobbyists who proved their loyalty in various ways, such as taking DeLay and Ney on golf trips to Scotland, could be transformed from supplicants to full partners in government.

Exactly, it's impossible to stop every person who wants to bribe a congressperson. There are too many. But in a country with roughly 300 million people we ought to be able to find 538 of them who wouldn't take bribes.

The modern republican party built this machine fully knowing the personal rewards they would reap from it. Now that they've hung themselves with it, we sure as hell shouldn't be there to cut the rope. The republicans blaming the lobbyists is sort of like building your own sports car and then blaming the car when you get caught driving 150 mph on the highway.

The really sad thing is that this is unlike a poor college athlete that takes money to play for a certain university, these guys are all millionaires.

John Cornyn

Yesterday, Tim Russert asked John Cornyn about the $1,000 that an associate of Jack Abramoff gave him. I have to admit, my first reaction was to think was that with all the money that these assholes threw around, this schmuck only got a grand.

It reminded me of one of my favorite all time quotes by a politician. In 2002, during hearings into Enron's collapse, Fritz Hollings was asked if he had received any contributions from Enron. His response. "I sure did, but I got $3500 over 10 years, but our friend Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), she got $99,000. Heck, I'm the chairman of the committee. That wasn't a contribution. That was an insult."

Do you think Cornyn feels insulted? He said he wasn't going to return the money, which is dumb because it's only a thousand dollars. That's piss money.

Double Trouble

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today shot down Tom Delay's request to have money laundering charges against him dismissed. The court also refused to honor his request for a speedy trial.

Couldn't happen to a bigger asshole.


I just completed my first Zogby International online poll. I had signed up for the polling four or five months ago and this was only the second time I have been queried. The first time was on a Friday and I missed the window. So, the next time you're looking at a Zogby poll and wondering what kind of assholes fill these things out, now you know. It's assholes like me.

Marcy Opts To Stay In DC

Marcy Kaptur will not enter Ohio's Gubernatorial race and will run for a 13th term in the US House. I agree with her rationale. From the Toledo Blade:

"I just think it's too great a risk for too little a reward," she said

Hard to argue with that. The republicans have run Ohio so far into the ground that sometimes I wonder why anyone would want the job.

The DomiNoe Effect

The first bunch of names have came out for investigation in the Tom Noe campaign contribution laundering case. Current Lucas County Commissioner Maggie Thurber and Toledo City Councilwoman Betty Schultz will join former Toledo Mayor Donna Owens and state Representative Sally Perz on the hot seat.

Cheney In Hospital

Dick Cheney had to go to the hospital around 3:00AM. Must be getting to old to chase down those babies he likes to feast on.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Outside Abramoff: Who Else Was Buying Congressmen

The LA Times reports today that Charles Hurwitz gave Richard Pombo and John Doolittle some major contributions in exchange for shutting down a FDIC investigation about his role in a failed savings & loan. Doolittle will probably get implicated in the Abramoff scandal as well. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure he was tight the the Duke too, so his ass might be on tape. Jesus, it's one thing to go around with your hand out, but I think this guy took a butterfly net with him as well.

Doolittle and Pombo sabotaged the investigation by putting sensitive documents into the congressional record thereby making them public record. They inserted so many documents into the record that they had to pay $20,000 out of their congressional accounts to cover the additional printing fees. Sorry kids, no bonuses this year, we gotta bail out a billionaire.

The FDIC's take from the Times:

The FDIC was outraged over the documents' release.

Its chief spokesman, Phil Battey, said in a statement to the Sacramento Bee at the time that the publication of the materials was a "subordination … and a seamy abuse of the legislative process."

The FDIC, which was originally seeking to recover $300 million from Hurwitz had to end up settling for $200,000.

West Virginia

Over the past couple days, one of the things I've repeatedly heard in the media is that the families of the deceased miners from the SAGO mine are preparing to bury their dead "in their own way."

These people aren't some sub species of hominid, they're human beings just like you and me. Just because they work underground doesn't make them CHUDs. If they were anything but poor white people there would be a national outrage over this use of language. And this is coming from someone who makes fun of hillbillies all the time.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Mouse In The House

A recently convicted House republican played the bitch and went snitch before pleading out. Duke Cunningham wore a wire for the FBI. It's yet unclear who Duke was trying to get on tape and some republican House members are scared shitless about it. I wonder how many meetings noted prison food critic Duncan Hunter had with the Duke in his final days.

I also have to wonder how hard it is going to be for Bob Ney to get a meeting with anyone these days.

Found via Atrios

Ohio Gubernatorial Poll

Rasmussen has its first poll out for the new year in the Ohio Governor's race. Ted Strickland leads all three GOP candidates. TS / Blackwell 44-40, TS / Petro 43-38, TS / Montgomery 49-33.

Both Democratic Senate candidates trail Mike Dewhine by a similar margins.

I don't have access to Rasmussen's premium services so I don't know any internals. If someone does have them, please e-mail me them.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Abramoff Fallout: Best Line

Surprisingly, the best line so far in the Abramoff fallout comes from GOP apologist David Brooks in today's New York Times. While referring to the republicans screaming that a few Democrats took money also, (though zero Dems took money directly from Abramoff) Brooks penned this:

That's a great G.O.P. talking point: some Democrats are so sleazy, they get involved with the likes of us.

Saving Souls

Lonnie Latham loves him some cock. Who's Lonnie Latham? He's a senior pastor at the South Tulsa Baptist Church and anti-gay activist who was arrested Tuesday night for soliciting oral sex from a plain clothes policeman.

Latham claims he was set up, and I believe him due to this paragraph from KOCO television 5 in Oklahoma City:

He has also spoken out against same-sex marriage and in support of a Southern Baptist Convention directive urging its 42,000 churches to befriend gays and lesbians and try to convince them that they can become heterosexual "if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and reject their 'sinful, destructive lifestyle."

You see, he was just befriending. Apparently, the police haven't read Latham's ten point plan to personally suck the gayness out of every cock in the greater Tulsa area. That's community out reach! Or, at least community out reach around.

Beyond Ariel Sharon

It's pretty clear now that even if Ariel Sharon doesn't die, he's through with politics. So, what's next? I'm not sure I have any idea, and I have yet to read anyone who seems to have any idea. My best guess is that the Netanhayu led Likud bloc would absorb most of the Kadima party because Sharon was Kadima and I can't see that party being anything but dead without him.

Just guessing though.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Weird Or Wired?

As has been mentioned around the blogosphere, Andrea Mitchell asked author James Risen if he had found any evidence that the NSA had wire tapped CNN corespondent Christiane Amanpour. An odd question, indeed. But even odder was when MSNBC.com pulled that portion of the transcript. I don't know if you have tried to obtain transcripts online before, but they change a lot, and sometimes you never get a final so I shrugged it off at first.

Today, however, NBC released this quixotic statement to TVNEWSER:

"Unfortunately this transcript was released prematurely. It was a topic on which we had not completed our reporting, and it was not broadcast on 'NBC Nightly News' nor on any other NBC News program. We removed that section of the transcript so that we may further continue our inquiry."

Interesting, is NBC actually investigating whether or not the NSA bugged Amanpour? This statement makes me think they have some sort of lead they're working.

Know Your Hacks

Remember Julie Myers, Bush's nominee to head Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. When she came up for confirmation George Voinovich had this to say while holding up her confirmation:

"I’m really concerned about your management experience,” Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, told her, pointing out that ICE, with 20,000 employees, was the second-largest investigative agency in the federal government.

“I think that we ought to have a meeting with (Homeland Security Secretary) Mike Chertoff … to ask him… why he thinks you’re qualified for the job.

“Because based on your resume, I don’t think you are,” Voinovich concluded.

She just got a recess appointment along with sixteen other hacks, thereby avoiding Senatorial advise and consent.

A word for republicans in Congress. You've went far beyond being Bush's bitches, you're now his cunts, for use only when he wants some tension relief.

Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon has suffered a stroke and according to the BBC has sustained "massive internal bleeding." Sharon was taken by ambulance from his ranch in Negev to a hospital in Jerusalem, which is about an hour long journey. The failure to use an evacuation helicopter has probably killed him.

Should Have Read The Post First

Ney isn't going to get to the primary before being indicted. WAPO reports today that the Justice Department is currently deciding which Abramoff investigation will prosecute Ney. I suppose it doesn't matter, prosecutors will have access to related materials from both investigations.