Saturday, December 31, 2005

Here's wishing a new year filled with everything they deserve to all DWT readers—not to mention DWT "regulars" Jack A. and Tommy D.


Creeping into the new year, we're in one of the slowest news cycles of the calendar, and knowing friends have cursed and nodded knowingly when the Washington Post chose to dump its peekaboo-ing, first, into "The Fast Rise and Steep Fall of Jack Abramoff" and, now, into "The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail" into this news black hole.

If there's any compensation, it's that certain people—Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, to mention two (without even counting their growing legal teams)—are undoubtedly reading these reports with the utmost concentration.

With the new year looming, here's wishing a happy and healthy one to all DWT readers from the whole gang. (DWT himself when last heard from was in Marrakesh, preparing to decamp for someplace called Essaouira—I'll have to crack out the atlas for that one—while the art department was in Atlanta preparing, I suspect, for some serious ringing-in-the-new-year carousing. Isaac has weighed in with his holiday thoughts, and we're all still hoping that Helen will soon have some reflections to share . . . guilt, guilt, guilt.)

For anyone in need of some holiday cheer, I can't do better than to recommend Paul Krugman's "Heck of a Job, Bushie" column from yesterday. (Once again, for the benefit of readers who haven't met the NYT's ransom demand for access to its columnists, I'll try to include the full text in a "comment," below.) If you haven't seen it, the column consisted of a series of ways in which the world today looks mightily different from the way it looked a year ago, as for example: "A year ago, hardly anyone outside Washington had heard of Jack Abramoff, and Tom DeLay's position as House majority leader seemed unassailable."

You can be sure that in 2006 DWT will continue to try to stay on top of the stories that demand attention. Like we've really got to watch for any developments in the case of the purloined Mother Teresa cinnamon bun.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Aha, so someone has tried to puzzle out the eternal question: What makes Fox Newsnut John Gibson such a dick?


Thanks to my friend Eugene, who passed along a lovely link for some cheerfully vituperative deconstruction of a passel of right-wing loons, starting with that singularly strange specimen, Fox News's John Gibson. Just recently I was wondering whether anyone else found him so creepy-weird. Now I see that our friendly scribe at has tackled head-on the timeless question: "What makes him such a dick?"

It turns out to be maybe not so mysterious once you track some of the astonishing goofiness that comes out of his mouth. Oh sure, it's always political, always far-right-wing, and always delivered with utter absoluteness and viciousness. But also to an astonishing degree just plain nuts—and I do mean loony-tunes-style nuts. It's the psychotic blithering of a mind in such total disarray as to make its closest antecedent, the nutso noggin of Cheers's Cliff Klaven, seem like a model of order.

And of course we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Cliff was a fictional character, whereas our John G is apparently for real, or at any rate what passes for real in the far-from-parallel universe of Fox News. Also, Cliff, along with other vaguely human traits that made him not only bearable but treasurable (again, partly because he was fictional), had at least a tiny shred of perspective on himself—enough so that on at least one occasion, after letting rip with one of his loopier riffs, he wondered out loud, "Was that out loud?"

With our John, the electrons just keep misfiring throughout his brain, and he lets it all hang out, spilling out on the convoluted and polluted cablewaves of Fox News.

I guess there's the additional fascination that in our John's previous incarnation on MS-NBC, he looked like a reasonable enough TV news anchor, especially of the more craven cable species. And on MS-NBC, he never seemed to say much of anything. He was just a predictable stooge of rightish-wing orthodoxy. Now that he's found his métier, as they say, when that big mouth opens, stand back—you never know what might come pouring out!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

None dare call this leadership: Remember New Orleans? (When GWB announces a bold initiative, you can count the hours till it's forgotten)


In this final week of the year I've been scrambling to use up every last scrap of PTO time detailed in our employee manual. So on the "day off" I took today, I didn't get into the office until about 11:30 (and then didn't work for much more than three hours), meaning I had a chance to look at some of the Ellen rerun. You could tell it was a rerun, because the Donald Trump was on flogging the season premiere of The Apprentice.

So I assume the show was originally run in September, which may explain why Ellen was devoting so much time and energy to raising money for hurricane disaster relief. I don't get to see the show much, so I don't know whether the money-raising has continued. But I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Ellen continues to put more time and energy into disaster relief than—to pick a random example—the president of the U.S. and his "team."

My goodness, these people are something. I mean, anyone who's made it past, say, puberty is thoroughly inured to the concept of pols making cynically empty promises. But Land o' Goshen, these people have raised it to an art form. When Master Rove puts one of those phony promises into his puppet's mouth, these bozos no longer maintain the pretense that the words will even be remembered by the time the lying doodyhead closes his mouth.

Like, remember when Chimpy was going to be the scourge of AIDS in Africa? Or when he was going to send men to Mars or Neptune or Alpha Centauri or somewhere? Some of these "initiatives" (for want of a better word) have come from so far out in left field that the unwary are tempted to figure, Why would they bother bringing it up if they didn't have something in mind?

Eventually, though, they built up a track record to serve as a guideline. And the record indicates that whatever it was they had in mind had nothing to do with the issue at hand. If there was no obvious political advantage to be glommed via the empty sound-off, then the idea may have been just to change the subject. Changing the subject, after all, is one of the few things this administration has done with consistent success.

So when our Chimpy got up, even made that cemeterylike appearance in abandoned Jackson Square in destroyed New Orleans, to announce the planned rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, there was no reason to expect that anything remotely resembling that was in the cards, any more than conquering AIDS on Mars was. It was just a puff of lukewarm air, except for the part where the Bush cronies and all those other leeches were granted open access to all the "reconstruction" boodle they could get their clutches on.

Eventually, as we all know, the reconstruction of New Orleans somehow morphed into an all-out congressional war on the poor. When it comes to leadership, I take Ellen a lot more seriously.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005



[As you may recall, the proprietor of this space traditionally celebrates Christmas by fleeing the country, and is currently riding out the storm in Morocco. However, if you're looking for a heaping helping of, er, post-Christmas spirit, you've come to the right place! Our friend Isaac has some thoughts on the threat that almost made this year's Christmas not happen. Take it away, Isaac.--Ken]

Well, Christmas has passed, so that must mean the librul War On Christmas (tm) is over now too. For now anyway.

See, those godless libruls just can't pass up any chance to persecute the helpless people in this country that call themselves Christians.

Polls show that upwards of 80% or so of people in the US profess to be Christians. Do you see what that means?

It means that 20%--probably less--of this country's population has cleverly orchestrated a massive conspiracy to hold the vast majority of this country hostage. Christians just can't get a break in this country any more, and are at the mercy of the liberals, who run everything now.

Librul atheists just aren't happy unless they're trying to keep people from worshiping God in the schools, force everyone to have abortions, marry a homosexual, view pornography, and (horrors!) treat women and black people like they really were people.

It doesn't stop there.

With atheist's threats of boycotts and intolerance, it's a wonder that shows like Touched By An Angel, Highway to Heaven, Joan of Arcadia, Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, Providence, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, The Brady Bunch, Shining Time Station, Davey and Goliath, Adventures From the Book of Virtues, and ABC After School Specials manage to even get on the air to go up against The Simpsons and balance out the blatant homosexuality of the TeleTubbies and SpongeBob Squarepants and all those other atheist programs.

Sunday morning television and atheist cable networks have got so sinful, there's only Pat Robertson and the 700 Club, D James Kennedy, Robert Schuller, Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, Robert Tilton, Jimmy Swaggart, Creflo A. Dollar, Benny Hinn, Marilyn Hickey, Peter Popoff, William Branham, Carl Baugh, John Ankerberg, Garner Ted Armstrong, Kenneth Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch, James Robison, Trinity Broadcasting, CBN, Jack Van Impe, Frederick Price, Ron Phillips, Rod Parsley, Joyce Meyer, Hal Lindsey, Zola Levitt, Bob Larson, T.J. Jakes, Jack Hayford, John Hagee, and Mother Angelica and a few hundred others on the tube these days, since the atheists ran them off.

AM radio has got so godless, you can only find Beverly LaHaye on about 600 stations around the country. Her husband Tim, author of the Left Behind series of books and merchandise dealing with the Rapture, have only managed to eke out an anemic estimated $1 billion in sales.

And don't even get me started about all those liberals and atheists in the US government and the ACLU.

So what's left for the heathen hordes to ruin for everybody?

Christmas. The most important holiday of the year to real Christians.

Just forget for the moment that there is little to no actual direct evidence that there really was a Jesus. Forget that, even if there was a Jesus, he was probably born early in the fall rather than on December 25. Forget that there is literally no archeological or contemporary historical evidence that there was a Jesus. Forget that much or most of the Bible appears to have been lifted from earlier religions and Christians rituals and observances were copied straight from the Pagans.

Just forget about all that: Christmas is a holy day, and being religion, that's all the proof it needs. If enough people believe a thing, that means it's true.

Retailers were so scared of the atheists, they had to stop telling shoppers "Merry Christmas." The holiness of Christ's birth was defiled because retailers had to say "Happy Holidays" when they were selling X-Boxes to soccer moms. And when salespeople had to say "Season's Greetings," the significance of the Holiest of Holy Days was completely ruined for people shopping for IPods.

But Christians did manage a few defenders of both the faith and the holiday.

Bill O'Reilly selflessly offered himself up as a sacrifice to the hazards of the ungodly liberal hordes, and used his (sadly overlooked) little cable TV program to alert us all to the danger. When O'Reilly loudly protested the liberal conspiracy to force people to stop saying "Merry Christmas," the forces of darkness tried to change the subject and direct people to O'Reilly's website, which offered "holiday gifts," which they claimed showed him to be a hypocrite who made up the whole issue for ratings and money and to stir up tension.

To prove he wasn't a hypocrite, O'Reilly quickly eliminated that objection by changing his website.

But the damage had already been done. Liberals had somehow infiltrated the White House and managed to hijack George and Laura Bush's Christmas card list. The Bushes found themselves in the embarrassing position of having sent out thousands of Christmas cards with the dreaded, atheist, politically correct "Happy Holidays."

The liberal plot against Christmas was exposed in detail with Fox News "personality" John Gibson's book The War on Christmas. When the liberal Rob Boston of the anti-American group Americans United for Separation of Church and State claimed on Gibson's program that Gibson had made it all up, Gibson cleverly and effectively exposed the weakness of Boston's criticisms by yelling loudly and talking over him so no one could hear what Boston was saying.

But the defenders of all that is good and right are a lonely bunch in the media.

Michael Moore and Molly Ivins have such a stranglehold on the media that, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Brit Hume, John Gibson, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Thomas Sowell, Michelle Malkin, Cal Thomas, Pat Buchanan, John Stossel, John Mclaughlin, George Will, Lucianne Goldberg, Bob Grant, Oliver North, Gordon Liddy, Ken Hamblin, Armstrong Williams, Michael Reagan, Laura Schlessinger, Joe Scarborough, Tony Snow, Mara Liasson, Chris Matthews, Dennis Miller, Michael Medved, Cokie Roberts, John Hockenberry, Robert Novak, Tucker Carlson, Paul Weyrich, Andrea Mitchell, Brian Williams, Wolf Blitzer, Bill Schneider, Candy Crowley, Peggy Noonan, Bernard Goldberg, Matt Drudge, and Howard Kurtz just can't get a word in edgewise to speak for the other side.

If it were up to the librul media, you wouldn't even know there was another side. We all know the librul media did everything in iys power to cover up how evil Bill Clinton was. Remember how hard it was to find anybody willing to talk about how he and Hillary murdered Vince Foster just to laugh at him while he died and how Bill was raping interns? And remember, you heard it here first: Patriots in the legislature stood up to the liberals and barely managed to call an impeachment inquiry. But it failed because the librul media did everything in its power to cover it up.

And now the beleaguered Christians have once again used their meager resources and stood up, against all odds, David vs. Goliath, to the heathens that want to take out the "Christ" from Christmas and just leave it with the rancid commercialization that otherwise defines the season.

Thank goodness we all still have Santa, the reindeer, and all the elves at the North Pole, and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas to remind us how dearly we hold the birth of the baby Jesus at Christmastime.

So another Christmas came and went with no problem, no thanks to the godless atheist liberals. Until next year, that is.

Or Easter.

[I know there's a boatload of way creepy folks mentioned above, and maybe it's just a personal thing, but I got caught up at Isaac's mention of "Fox News 'personality' John Gibson." I can't tell you what it is, but there's something about that guy, isn't there?

[Is it just me? I mean, okay, he's bellicose, devoid of the slightest human graces, and of course dumber than a dried fig—and I mean a really dumb dried fig. And of course he has no clue how screechingly and universally clueless he is. But isn't that true of true of lots of these people?

[Or maybe that's it. Maybe he's not a person! A robot? An android? A mass hallucination? Does anyone have any theories?—K]

More on the Medicare prescription-drug "benefit," with some notes on what your friendly pharmacist can and will (or maybe won't) do for you

) do for you'>) do for you'>) do for you'>) do for you'>>) do for you'>

My recent note on the dubious Medicare prescription-drug "benefit," inspired by a NYT letter to the editor responding to a news report that 1 million people have signed up, drew this interesting comment from enigma4ever:
only ONE million have signed up, and that means over 40 million are dazed and confused—great post by the way...I was at CVS the other day and I heard the pharmacist tell this woman that he COULD NOT help her, that it was against the law....WHAT?
I for one am prepared to believe that the law either says, or can be interpreted as saying, that pharmacists can't advise customers about plan benefits. After all, whoever devised this plan from hell took the precaution of legally barring any effort to negotiate lower drug prices, which would have been an obvious feature of any plan that was concerned with the well-being of senior citizens.

In reality, though, if any of the nominal "beneficiaries" of this plan happen to benefit from it, that's likely to be mostly a matter of luck, and certainly not a result intended by the planners, whose sights were set of a payday for the drug and insurance companies—or rather a year-round payday. Talk about "the gift that keeps on giving"!

It's a curious coincidence that enigma4ever's intelligence-gathering mission took place in a CVS store with a CVS pharmacists. As it happens, I've had CVS pharmacists on my mind.

As anyone who lives within CVS's service area is aware, I'm sure, the company has been running a TV promotional campaign built around the saintly service provided by its pharmacists. I've seen two TV spots, and every time I see one, I'm almost moved to tears by the lengths to which these people will go for their customers. I forget the particulars, but I like to think that if you were in danger of fainting from hunger, they would take you home and cook you dinner.

Now I don't meant to sneer at the pharmacist-customer relationship. I have friends who depend on prescribed drugs for their continued well-being and have been lucky enough to find pharamacists who provide amazing professional service. Since I tend to think of this as an "old-fashioned corner drugstore" kind of service, I am happy to think that perhaps it is provided by CVS's people.

Still, I've had a different response to the TV spots, heartwarming as they are. I guess I would have preferred spots with the message: "We fill your prescriptions, whatever they are."

When I wrote this post originally, at this point it continued: "Now let me make clear that this is not directed at CVS. I don't have any reason to think that CVS pharmacists have been failing to fill people's prescriptions—although if anyone has any such knowledge, I'd be interested in hearing it." Later, however, I decided to attempt a quick search, and discovered that there is in fact some history of at least one CVS pharmacist refusing to fill a birth-control prescription. (I also found a fairly recent account of a Target pharmacist refusing to fill an emergency contraception prescription.)

What I'm thinking about, of course, is the brouhaha sometime back when it became public that certain pharmacists were refusing to fill prescriptions for the "morning-after pill." What stunned me, and I hope I wasn't the only one, was the discovery that apparently this is perfectly legal, that pharmacists can legally refuse to fill a prescription if they feel like it.


I mean, isn't the "control" in "controlled substances" a governmental function? Isn't the licensing of pharmacies and pharmacists to dispense such substances the government's way of exercising that control? Has any pharmacist ever been known to have been forced at gunpoint to enter the profession? If filling people's prescriptions poses intolerable ethical problems, aren't there other ways to make a living?

I hope that by now CVS has worked out its problems on this count. I'd still feel better, though, if the pharmacists in their TV spots made clear that they fill all prescriptions, without regard to any personal feelings they may have.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005



[People sometimes wonder why I keep up my AOL membership. Where else do you get news like this (courtesy of the AP, though the photo comes from The Tennessean)? Personally, I'm shocked. Is there no end to the litany of earthly wickedness?--Ken]

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Dec. 26) - A cinnamon bun that bears a striking likeness to Mother Teresa has gone missing from the coffeehouse where it was displayed.

The owner, Bob Bernstein, arrived to find an early Christmas morning break-in and the world-famous pastry gone.

Bernstein said he believes that the culprit is someone angry over the shop displaying the Nun Bun, which has been preserved with shellac. A jar of money next to it was not stolen.

"They went right for the bun," he said. "Unfortunately I think it's somebody who wanted to take it to destroy it."

The Nun Bun gained worldwide attention in 1996 when a Bongo Java customer nearly took a bite of it before recognizing the revered nun in the folds of flaky pastry.

The bun was featured on world news programs, The Late Show with David Letterman and was even mentioned on episodes of "The Nanny" and "Mad About You."

Bongo Java sold T-shirts, prayer cards and mugs with the bun's image before Mother Teresa wrote a personal letter to the coffeehouse asking the sales be stopped.

12-26-05 10:31 EST

Has anybody out there figured out what to do about the new Medicare prescription-drug "benefit"?


As with so many other vicissitudes in the Age of Bush, the New York Times's Paul Krugman has put it best: In matters from disaster preparedness and relief to a prescription-drug benefit, it's hard to expect much of a job from a government that doesn't believe in the role of government.

Of course the ignorance, ideological savagery, criminality and general incompetence of this admistration extend way beyond this simple rule of thumb. For example, it's clear that all the power players in this administration, notably the vice president and the secretary of defense, believe fervently in whatever governmental function they fantasize they have been fulfilling in Iraq, and yet it's hard to see how the affair could have been managed worse, except from the standpoint of the cronies like Halliburton that have been cleaning up on the debacle.

(I notice that I seem to use the word debacle a lot in writing about the Bush cabal. This gives me pause, but I really don't think it has been excessive. How else would you describe a track record like this?)

However, this doesn't diminish the importance of what Krugman's rule of thumb is telling us. While these people are clearly capable of screwing up in many other ways, what chance is there of their ever getting anything right which doesn't fall within their excruciatingly narrow view of the role of government?

Americans seem finally to have gotten the idea with regard to the administration's Social Security "reforms." At least for the time being, that package has rung up a resounding "no sale."

However, thanks to the Rove gang's full-court press on Congress at a time when Americans were still paying hardly any attention, we're stuck for the foreseeable future with the administration's truly atrocious Medicare prescription-drug benefit. You didn't have to probe very deep into the thing to appreciate that the only intended beneficiaries are the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

I've been tracking this with the inevitable mix of confusion and dread, since I have to figure out how to advise my 86-year-old mother to proceed. Every month or so I stumble across another newspaper or magazine article that only confirms my confusion and enhances my dread. I don't know what to do, and at this point, as long as I can be assured that her expectably large number of prescriptions won't cost us more if we do nothing, then nothing is what we may do.

Of course, even I in my economic semiliteracy understand enough about how actual insurance works--i.e., by spreading the risk, so that people who don't collect are covering the costs of people who do--to know that if it were truly possible for every consumer of this "benefit" to find a plan that benefits him/her financially, then the plan would be a fiscal catastrophe.

And it may yet be, especially when you reckon in all the money intended to pour into the coffers of the insurance companies (somebody, after all, has to pay for all that advertising to lure us into . . . uh . . . into whatever the heck it is they're selling), not to mention keeping Big Pharma's cash registers ringing merrily. In that case what we would have in effect is a direct prescription-drug subsidy to senior citizens, which might in fact have been an excellent idea.

I don't think that's what the Bush cabal had in mind, though, or what's going to happen--though I also don't doubt that the program will be very expensive. After all, from the cabal's standpoint out-of-control costs in this program have the additional benefit of making it easier to take aim at and ultimately destroy Medicare proper and Social Security itself.

I must have missed the most recent New York Times article on the prescription-drug benefit, on Friday (maybe because I was attempting to deal long-distance with a more immediate health crisis), but it drew this interesting letter printed in today's paper:

To the Editor:

Re. "Over a Million on Medicare Sign Up for New Drug Plan" (news article, Dec. 23):

The swell of people signing up for the new Medicare drug plans should not be taken as a sign that all is well. While the program may save people some money, the detailed rules may ultimately prove unworkable. For instance, the plan a person chooses can change the drugs it covers on 60 days' notice, but the person is locked into the plan for a year.

Unanswered questions loom, such as what will be the impact of enrollment on continued employer health coverage; who has authority to enroll a person with diminished capacity; and how plan exceptions will be processed.

Taxpayers are paying for a powerful marketing campaign of television, print and bus ads to encourage people to sign up, with little money allocated to helping people, one on one, understand the complicated terms of the plans. We are left wondering why this "benefit" is so hard on its beneficiaries.

--Amy T. Paul, Executive Director, Friends and Relatives of Institutionalized Aged

Monday, December 26, 2005

Catching up with . . . Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)


I promised we would try to get caught up on some of the DWT fave Republicrooks, and why not start with the pride of San Diego, Duncan Hunter, powerful (and still-unindicted) chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, known in certain circles—okay, in this circle—as "dirtier than Duke . . . just smarter"?

Well, it appears that our Duncan, in between stumping for torture and a fence between the U.S. and Mexico, has been a busy beaver. One current project is using every trick in the congressional book to snatch Santa Rosa Island, off the California coast, away from Channel Island National Park, to give it to the Defense Dept., which has expressed no interest in it, originally as a resort for DoD fatcats.

his account comes courtesy of Daily Kos. I've included the whole thing for the sake of the comments, which are amusing as well as informative.

Why Does Duncan Hunter Want to Steal A National Park

Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 12:04:55 PM PDT

Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-52) has had a pretty high media profile lately. In just the last few weeks, Hunter, who is Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, opposed the McCain anti-torture amendment; proposed building a fence along the entire US-Mexico border and the study of a similar barrier for the Canadian border; AND attempted to steal 53,000 acres of the Channel Island National Park.

Duncan has been a busy, busy boy, lately. Of course being a close associate of Cunningham pay-for-play Co-conspirator #1, Brent Wilkes, may be part of Hunter's inspiration to change the subject in public.

Hunter's opposition to McCain's anti-torture legislation was motivated by his desire to serve his masters in the Bush Administration and possibly to provide cover for one of his major corporate contributors and torture investigation subject, the Titan Corporation.

Hunter has long been a proponent of sealing the Mexican border. His efforts lead to miles of fence in the San Diego area. This, of course, just pushed illegal border crossing out into the less inhabited areas of San Diego and Imperial counties. Since the fences were built illegal immigration has increased, but facts don't get in the way of a Republican when he has a wedge issue to exploit.

Yet, Hunter's proposal to turn Santa Rosa Island over to the Department of Defense seems bizarre, even by the very low standards of San Diego county Republicans. The island makes up over 40% of a national park that serves about half a million visitors a year, but Hunter is proposing that it be converted into a hunting and recreation preserve for the military and their guests. When pressed on the issue he even went so far as to propose the island be established as a hunting preserve for disabled veterans.

Santa Rosa Island was privately owned until 1986 when the Federal government bought the island from the Vail and Vickers Company for $30 million. Vail and Vickers is a family business that has run cattle ranching and, more recently trophy deer and elk hunting, operations on the island since 1902. Part of the government purchase agreement allowed Vail and Vickers to continue their hunting operation on the island until 2011.

The hunting operation provides well heeled hunters the opportunity to bag trophy Roosevelt elk and Kaibab mule deer from herds managed to provide the maximum number of such animals. Neither the elk nor the deer are native to the island. They were transported the 40 miles from the mainland for the specific purpose of establishing a hunting preserve. The going rate for hunting on the island ranges from $5,000 to as much as $20,000 for a four day visit.

It is interesting that Hunter's proposal would turn the island over to the Department of Defense in 2009. As the purpose of the land grab is to provide recreation and hunting to the military and any fat cat congressional guests they might invite along, it looks like Hunter's motivation might be to maintain the island hunting concession, while freezing out the general public.

Hunter might even be able to argue that the island hunting concession could pay for much of the military's recreational use, if it were allowed to continue its commercial business. So, in essence, Hunter's proposal would transfer the island from public use to private use while maintaining the hunting concession. Ron Sundergill, Pacific Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association, suggested as much in an article he wrote about Hunter's proposal.

"We can only guess that the reason this is being proposed is to protect the commercial interest that operates the elk and deer hunting venture on the island. The owners of the venture, whose family sold the island to the federal government in 1986 for nearly $30 million, will be required to end their commercial activities in 2011. The timeline for ending the elk and deer hunting results from a legally binding agreement between the National Park Service and the National Parks Conservation Association, but the owners of the hunting venture strongly objected to the agreement."

Could it be that this whole deal is as transparent as that? Is Hunter really proposing that a national park serving hundreds of thousand visitors a year be taken out of the public realm and locked up by the Department of Defense just to serve the narrow self-interests of small commercial venture?

Hunter attached his island take-over amendment to the defense appropriation bill. Just a few words in a multi-billion dollar spending package. This is the second time Hunter has tried to slip this proposal through Congress. In May, Democrats and environmental groups thwarted his first attempt. This time, Republican Senator John Warner, told Hunter that pushing forward with this proposal would jeopardize the passage of the entire appropriations bill. Hunter withdrew the amendment, but vowed to present the proposal again when Congress reconvenes next year.

The Sacramento Bee editorialized about Hunter's persistent efforts to take Santa Rosa Island back from the public.

"This is an insult to the national park system and for the efforts put into properly managing these islands. Last-minute amendments are no way to enact proposals like this. California's two senators say the military never asked for Santa Rosa Island as an exclusive retreat; regardless, they say they would never support such a fate for the island. It is not Duncan Hunter's to give away."

Why does Duncan Hunter want Santa Rosa Island? The Department of Defense has never asked for the island. In fact, the Department of Defense is closing military facilities all over the country. Many of these military bases, which the DOD still controls could easily be converted to the use Hunter proposes for Santa Rosa Island. These facilities are far more accessible and developed than an island 40 miles off the California coast.

So, why does Duncan Hunter persist in his efforts to take Santa Rosa Island away from the public? Whose interest is he serving?

Tags: Duncan Hunter, National Park, steal, CA-52, congress of corruption (all tags)

Permalink | 9 comments

Why does Duncan Hunter (4.00 / 2)

want to steal anything? Because he can and/or because some paid him to try.

Does the devil wear a suit and tie, Or does he work at the Dairy Queen- Martin Sexton

by strengthof10kmen on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 12:09:42 PM PDT

This is why I never go east of I-15 in San Diego (4.00 / 2)

You might as well be in Idaho or Utah, without the scenery, and with an endless sea of poorly planned shopping malls and housing developments.

by diana04 on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 12:39:34 PM PDT

A hunting preserve for disabled veterans? (4.00 / 2)

Shooting guys in wheel-chairs doesn't seem like very good sport?

"Republicans hate the French Revolution, and everything it stands for; Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, but they love the Guillotine.

by agent double o soul on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 12:54:11 PM PDT

Not sporting? (4.00 / 3)

Actually, I think Hunter propose that the island be used for paralyzed veteran hunting. I guess hunting deer and elk in a confined preserve wasn't enough and vets in wheel chairs were too scary, so Hunter is after vets who can't move at all.

by shadowgov on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 01:02:06 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

An immodest denial (none / 1)

No I didn't mean to suggest that Republican fat cats might want to shoot disabled veterans in wheel chairs just for the sport of it. (It would have to make good economic sense as well). Hunter is completely wacked out and in deep in the Cunningham conspiracy. Hard to tell who is getting their wheels greased on this one.

"Republicans hate the French Revolution, and everything it stands for; Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, but they love the Guillotine.

by agent double o soul on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 01:20:40 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Maybe not a bad idea.. (none / 1)

I would support it being turned into a hunting preserve on the condition that the only game that Republican fat cats and their lackeys could shoot are each other. Or is that a pollution violation?

"Abby Normal". "Are you sure that was the name?" "I'm almost certain."

by vegancannibal on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 01:27:43 PM PDT

If it looks like a Duke and it walks like a Duke (none / 0)

Why does Duncan Hunter want Santa Rosa Island? The Department of Defense has never asked for the island. In fact, the Department of Defense is closing military facilities all over the country. Many of these military bases, which the DOD still controls could easily be converted to the use Hunter proposes for Santa Rosa Island. These facilities are far more accessible and developed than an island 40 miles off the California coast

This is the subtext going through the Cunningham, Wilkes, Mitchell scandal. This ceaseless promotion of projects the Defense Department does not want. They only listen when they hear the handcuffs snap shut.

"Republicans hate the French Revolution, and everything it stands for; Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, but they love the Guillotine.

by agent double o soul on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 01:28:40 PM PDT

If Really Wants to Help Disabled Veterans ... (4.00 / 3)

If Hunter really wants to help disabled veterans, he could get money appropriated for a handicapped boat ramp and for paths for persons with disabilities on the island. He could also get legislation passed giving disabled vets preference for any hunting permits issued in the future.

Or, he could work to reduce the number of newly disabled veterans that the Bush Administration is creating each month.

by JPZenger on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 01:30:29 PM PDT

This is the weirdest scandal story yet! (none / 0)

Transfer Santa Rosa island to the DoD? And the DoD responds with... "Huh?" Too weird. And unbelievably brazen, especially coming at a time with so many other swirling scandals on the table. Unbelievable!

By the way, Santa Rosa island is a beautiful place. I've been there, not to hunt but to camp, hike, and kayak. It has some great scenery and it's populated with free-roaming sheep, wild horses, elk, and those pesky little Island foxes, lol! It also has many sea caves around its perimeter. It's a great place to visit if you're into that sort of thing. And I am shocked and disgusted at this revelation.

by ricorun on Fri Dec 23, 2005 at 11:07:00 AM PDT

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Isn't it time to give Sen. Ted Stevens a choice for living out his gutless, godforsaken life—between the can and the loony bin?


I don't know about you, but one of the things I miss most in DWT's absence is the regular updates on the criminal behavior of his honor roll of Republicrooks. Surely it isn't possible, for example, that his favorite subject, the kingpin of the Ohio GOP Crime Syndicate more popularly known as "the state government, plus its Washington henchpersons," Rep. Bob Ney, is still walking free?

Well, one of these days we'll have to get caught up on "the boys." Meanwhile, it's not the rank criminality of the Republicrooks, however gross, that most offends and alarms me.

I think rather of the stories told about not-quite-former House Majority Leader Tom "The Hammer" DeLay—tales of how, in the course of his shakedowns of lobbyists and other would-be players in his government, "encouraging" them not just to be generous with money and jobs for Republicans but to cut all Democrats off completely, he would make it clear to them that this is "his" government.

Confronted with no-doubt-bluffed threats to report his extortion demands to the government, the Hammer is supposed to have snapped back, "I am the government." And indeed, to an alarming extent, he was.

This, I submit, is so not good for America.

Not that I'm approving of the thieving that seems to have become rampant in Congress, or suggesting that anyone look the other way. On the contrary, the fact that congressional Republicans have turned their terms in office into an orgy of stealing every dollar they can lay their grimy paws on shocks and revolts me. I'd love to see all of those SOBs rot in prison.

Still, it's one thing to have become so arrogant in your greed that you think you can get away with anything, which is surely the attitude that has been demonstrated by the unthinking obviousness of so much of the Republicrookery we've learned about. But the behavior of the Hammer is something else.

Our Tom has raised the stakes. He seems truly to believe that he is beyond the reach of the law, that the rule of law doesn't apply to him.

I look at his protestations of innocence in the matter of his apparently flagrant violation of the Texas laws against corporate fund-raising, and I no longer know what he thinks. It surely isn't possible that he really believes he's innocent, is it? Not with the lengths he went to to paper over the crime. (Some of his thieving House confreres could have taken a lesson from his criminal playbook—that after all you're obliged to apply a little finesse.)

Is it rather that a man who is the government can't be brought down by some pisher of a district attorney? Or is it some sort of incredulousness like what Al Capone must have felt when he first heard that the government planned to indict him for tax evasion? How dare they demean me and everything I've accomplished with such triviality?

Well, Capone learned in time that the tax-evasion charges were quite sufficient to bring him down. However, if the Hammer thinks he deserves more grandiose charges, perhaps his old partner in crime Jack Abramoff will pave the way with the song, or perhaps songbook, he's dickering to sing to the feds.

Now, at least our Tom has the pressing attention of a gaggle of investigators. When is something going to be done about a lawmaker who has equally run amok, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens?

You would have thought that just the stunning spectacle he made of himself, bringing that cartoon gallery of oil-company execs to the Capitol for the express purpose of lying their heads off with his naked protection, would have revolted enough senators to rise as one, or at least in sufficient number, to say, "Get the fuck out of the Senate, you loony old wackjob, before you take us down with you."

The evidence has certainly been mounting that the old coot really has gone completely out of control, what with the whole business of the famous $254 million bridge to nowhere (and recall that, while he finally gave in on the bridge, he didn't give up the appropriation to his state) and now his maneuvering to ram ANWR oil drilling down the Senate's throat while screwing people who can't afford the gouging to be inflicted on them this winter by his oil-company cronies.

When Senator Ted announced at that committee hearing that his oil-company pals weren't going to have to tell their lies under oath for the simple reason that it was his decision as chairman and it didn't matter how many of his Senate colleagues whined about it, he seemed to be saying, Hammer-like, that he is the government. Same deal with his relentless wheeling-and-dealing to drain the treasury for the benefit of his home-state cronies.

Again, this isn't healthy for our increasingly precarious democracy.

At least in Senator Ted's case there is a plausible theory to explain all this otherwise-inexplicable behavior. Perhaps, realizing that he has become so transparent in his wheeling and dealing that it would take a second-year law-school student maybe half an hour to draw up a set of indictments that, upon conviction, would have him dying in prison, he's laying the groundwork for an insanity defense.

If so, frankly I'm inclined to buy it. Actually, I'm beyond caring whether the old gasbag dies in prison or in a mental institution. Either way is good for me. I just think that, one way or the other, it's time get him the hell out of the Senate.

Happy holidays to all, from all of us here (and everywhere) at DWT


Don't you just hate it when you've blown your whole message in the subject line?

Okay, let's go for peace on earth and good will toward men and women all over the globe.


Riled-up DWT readers take aim at the grinch who stole Morning Sedition


Imagine my surprise and delight to find extended, impassioned comments from DWT readers Dan and Timcanhear regarding my note on coping with the loss of Air America Radio's Morning Sedition program.

Since I was attempting to be temperate (yeah, "even the most cretinous brain-dead empty-suit exec would be embarrassed to spout such screeching drivel" is, in its way, my way of being temperate--ya wanna make sumpin' of it?), I encourage everyone to read the comments of these two MS (ex-)listeners who weren't pulling punches.

Dan, for example, suggests: "Kicking [cohost Marc] Maron off the air on the same day as Stern moved to satellite is a blunder of cosmic proportions, for which I can only hope Danny Goldberg will be reincarnated as something chased endlessly by carnivores."

Really, I shouldn't have been surprised to hear from other "rudderless Seditionistas" (as Dan describes our breed), because it was abundantly clear to anyone who was paying attention that the show's listeners were wildly loyal. The problem was the failure to bring the show to the attention of all those people who might have become passionate listeners. Let me say again that I don't recall ever seeing or hearing the show name in any Air America Radio promotions except the occasional on-air mention.

I'm always amused by TV and film marketers who obviously think their job is to trick unsupecting viewers into seeing stuff that nobody in his right mind would want to. Have you noticed how wildly most movie previews misrepresent the actual films? You can't even tell which of those crappy-looking films might actually be worth taking a look at.

As I understand it, this is because the people who make movie trailers—an incredibly specialized, high-stakes business—work according to a set of rules about what they believe audiences want to see. All the promotion is then geared toward tricking those suckers into thinking that this turkey is it.

Doesn't anyone ever worry about what the product's real virtues are? That is, assuming the product has real virtues—though if it doesn't, then why the hell was all that money spent to produce the damned thing in the first place? Wouldn't all that promotional money be better spent trying to communicate those real virtues to people who might appreciate them?

Of course that means someone involved in the promotional effort has to know what those virtues are. Which brings us back to the Air America case.

Blogiologically, I approached the subject with some diffidence, because I hardly ever remember mentioning the show to anyone who'd even heard of it. For one, I never managed to interest DWT in it. (Of course, he's on the West Coast, and Air America never figured out what to do about the time difference. The most frequent solution, when West Coast affiliates even carried the show, was to broadcast it in real time—i.e., 3am-6am PT.)

Tim makes the useful observation that it took him awhile to get what the show was up to. To which I would add: Isn't this usually true of any form or format that's genuinely original?

After all, the MS team was actively engaged in inventing whatever the heck the show was—throughout its all-too-brief run. For example, one of my great regrets was that one of the three original cohosts, the deliciously lively and articulate and cheerily blunt Sue Ellicott, seems to have decided early on that there wasn't enough room in the broadcast booth for her and went back to England (where her kids also were). Sue was a great loss to Air America, but she was probably right about her role on MS. I notice, though, that none of the supposed future plans for her with Air America came to fruition either.

MS wound up with a great team in place, with cohosts Maron and Mark Riley and all the writers and performers, not to mention the behind-the-scenes people, including the bright, energetic and passionate young producing and engineering crew. I don't want to mindlessly bad-mouth Air America. Lots of good things happen on it, and it has already made an incalculable contribution to the political landscape. But dumb is dumb, and it was Air America management's job to understand what it had created and nurture it.

Tim offers an apt counter-example: "I was reminded of a morning dj in Chicago, Jonathan Brandmier, who was on WLUP and the station was about to pull the plug after nearly two years on the air. But they knew they had something and opted to keep it on and the rest is history. Brandmier's ratings began to climb and he became a radio star in Chicago and LA."

So how's this for a scenario, in the holiday spirit of It's a Wonderful Life: Air America management extracts its head from its butt and announces that it was all a mistake, the cancellation of Morning Sedition, that that was just a scenario that could have happened and the show will be back on the air as soon as the MS team can be reassembled.

Right now for a lot of us it's kind of a sucky life in the morning. And as far as I can see, there's just no good reason.

John Seigenthaler tells his own story of discovering that his Wikipedia bio contined lies--and his frustration trying to get to the root of it


Probably you've also heard about the case of journalist John Seigenthaler's phony bio on Wikipedia. I hadn't seen his own account until a friend passed it on, and thought you might like to see it too.--Ken

A false Wikipedia 'biography'
By John Seigenthaler

"John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960's. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven."

This is a highly personal story about Internet character assassination. It could be your story.

I have no idea whose sick mind conceived the false, malicious "biography" that appeared under my name for 132 days on Wikipedia, the popular, online, free encyclopedia whose authors are unknown and virtually untraceable. There was more:

"John Seigenthaler moved to the Soviet Union in 1971, and returned to the United States in 1984," Wikipedia said. "He started one of the country's largest public relations firms shortly thereafter."

At age 78, I thought I was beyond surprise or hurt at anything negative said about me. I was wrong. One sentence in the biography was true. I was Robert Kennedy's administrative assistant in the early 1960s. I also was his pallbearer. It was mind-boggling when my son, John Seigenthaler, journalist with NBC News, phoned later to say he found the same scurrilous text on and

I had heard for weeks from teachers, journalists and historians about "the wonderful world of Wikipedia," where millions of people worldwide visit daily for quick reference "facts," composed and posted by people with no special expertise or knowledge — and sometimes by people with malice.

At my request, executives of the three websites now have removed the false content about me. But they don't know, and can't find out, who wrote the toxic sentences.

Anonymous author

I phoned Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder and asked, "Do you ... have any way to know who wrote that?"

"No, we don't," he said. Representatives of the other two websites said their computers are programmed to copy data verbatim from Wikipedia, never checking whether it is false or factual.

Naturally, I want to unmask my "biographer." And, I am interested in letting many people know that Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool.

But searching cyberspace for the identity of people who post spurious information can be frustrating. I found on Wikipedia the registered IP (Internet Protocol) number of my "biographer"- 65-81-97-208. I traced it to a customer of BellSouth Internet. That company advertises a phone number to report "Abuse Issues." An electronic voice said all complaints must be e-mailed. My two e-mails were answered by identical form letters, advising me that the company would conduct an investigation but might not tell me the results. It was signed "Abuse Team."

Wales, Wikipedia's founder, told me that BellSouth would not be helpful. "We have trouble with people posting abusive things over and over and over," he said. "We block their IP numbers, and they sneak in another way. So we contact the service providers, and they are not very responsive."

After three weeks, hearing nothing further about the Abuse Team investigation, I phoned BellSouth's Atlanta corporate headquarters, which led to conversations between my lawyer and BellSouth's counsel. My only remote chance of getting the name, I learned, was to file a "John or Jane Doe" lawsuit against my "biographer." Major communications Internet companies are bound by federal privacy laws that protect the identity of their customers, even those who defame online. Only if a lawsuit resulted in a court subpoena would BellSouth give up the name.

Little legal recourse

Federal law also protects online corporations — BellSouth, AOL, MCI Wikipedia, etc. — from libel lawsuits. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, specifically states that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker." That legalese means that, unlike print and broadcast companies, online service providers cannot be sued for disseminating defamatory attacks on citizens posted by others.

Recent low-profile court decisions document that Congress effectively has barred defamation in cyberspace. Wikipedia's website acknowledges that it is not responsible for inaccurate information, but Wales, in a recent C-Span interview with Brian Lamb, insisted that his website is accountable and that his community of thousands of volunteer editors (he said he has only one paid employee) corrects mistakes within minutes.

My experience refutes that. My "biography" was posted May 26. On May 29, one of Wales' volunteers "edited" it only by correcting the misspelling of the word "early." For four months, Wikipedia depicted me as a suspected assassin before Wales erased it from his website's history Oct. 5. The falsehoods remained on and for three more weeks.

In the C-Span interview, Wales said Wikipedia has "millions" of daily global visitors and is one of the world's busiest websites. His volunteer community runs the Wikipedia operation, he said. He funds his website through a non-profit foundation and estimated a 2006 budget of "about a million dollars."

And so we live in a universe of new media with phenomenal opportunities for worldwide communications and research — but populated by volunteer vandals with poison-pen intellects. Congress has enabled them and protects them.

When I was a child, my mother lectured me on the evils of "gossip." She held a feather pillow and said, "If I tear this open, the feathers will fly to the four winds, and I could never get them back in the pillow. That's how it is when you spread mean things about people."

For me, that pillow is a metaphor for Wikipedia.

John Seigenthaler, a retired journalist, founded The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. He also is a former editorial page editor at USA TODAY.

The DNC tries to document once and for all: Did George W. Bush break the law?


I guess I'm not very high up on the message-forwarding chain, as I just got this mailing from Tom McMahon, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, which I see was sent out on Thursday. So it's probably too late to join in the Freedom of Information Act request. But the issues raised here are still important ones, and it's still worth checking the website.--Ken in NY

More of the story is emerging about George Bush's use of our foreign intelligence services to spy on Americans without the consent of any court. Yesterday, after Governor Dean wrote to you, it was revealed that Bush was untruthful on the campaign trail in 2004 -- here's what he said then:

"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." -- George Bush, April 20, 2004

That was false, and he knew it at the time. A few days ago Bush personally admitted to overseeing wiretaps without any court orders.

Administration apologists continue to offer vague assertions that Bush's domestic spying program was somehow legal. Americans aren't buying it. In the last 24 hours, over 100,000 Americans have demanded to see the legal memos written by Bush appointees supposedly justifying this unprecedented, dangerous act.

Join our Freedom of Information Act request for these crucial documents -- the people need to know what authority this administration thinks it has:

Bizarre excuses keep emerging from the right-wing spin machine for Bush's failure to use the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain warrants. That court provides speedy, secure judicial review for our intelligence agencies. It has rejected a total of five requests for warrants over the last thirty years -- and granted more than 19,000 requests. Our intelligence agencies can even request warrants retroactively days after they begin surveillance, ensuring maximum flexibility.

It is vitally important that we get to the bottom of this explosive scandal. The same political cronies at the Bush Justice Department who wrote the infamous torture memos also appear to have written the still-secret memos fabricating the supposed legal authority behind this illegal surveillance.

Please add your name to the formal Freedom of Information Act request now. We plan to deliver it tomorrow, and you can make a powerful statement by being a part of it:

If those documents reveal the kind of flimsy justification and manipulation of the law that we saw in the torture memos, and which we are hearing this week from administration officials, we may be on the verge of unraveling a serious abuse of power not seen since the Richard Nixon era.

And we all remember how that ended.


Tom McMahon
Executive Director
Democratic National Committee

"Failure Magazine" pays fitting tribute to the poster boy for failure, George W. Bush


DECEMBER 22, 2005

Critically Acclaimed Web magazine names George W. Bush "Failure of the Year" for 2005

Phoenix, AZ -Failure Web publication covering all things failure, today named President George W. Bush as its sixth annual "Failure of the Year" in a bold commentary by editor, Jason Zasky.

"It was the only reasonable choice," says Zasky. "No one has been responsible for more unredeemed failure than our President. Every week we hear about new mistakes, corruption, and scandals at the highest levels of government. This year we've witnessed the ongoing debacle in Iraq, a pathetic federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the CIA leak probe, Harriet Miers' Supreme Court nomination, a failed Social Security initiative, the Tom DeLay scandal, the rejection of the Patriot Act, not to mention a skyrocketing national debt, an ever-increasing trade deficit, and high gasoline prices-to name just a few. The President has even admitted authorizing an un-American, and likely illegal, program that allows the government to spy on American citizens without a search warrant. There's simply no end in sight to this reign of error."

George W. Bush is no stranger to the pages of Failure. In 2003, the Bush Administration was named the magazine's "Failure of the Year." Last December, in a prescient move, Failure tabbed The American Voter as FOTY 2004-for giving President Bush a second chance.

Failure magazine's annual "Failure of the Year" debuted in December of 2000 with The Breakdown of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process. The next year Failure named Terrorism as "Failure of the Year" 2001, followed by the Augusta National Controversy in 2002. In its July 2000 launch issue Failure named Charles the Hammer and the Battle of Tours as the most monumental failure of the past two thousand years. was launched in the summer of 2000 at the height of dot-com mania. Covering sports, history, science, entertainment and business, Failure and its nationally-recognized writers cover failure-and its close relative, success-from a bold perspective that is insightful, informative and entertaining. Featuring the daily "Failure of the Day" and the "Book Report," Failure presents a unique take on its subject with a wide variety of stories from the past and present.

Failure Magazine LLC is a privately owned and operated media company featuring Failure magazineT and FailureWearT.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Pennsylvania "intelligent design" ruling: Could this be one (small) sign of the "anti-Apocalypse"--i.e., a national return to sanity?


No doubt everyone has heard about the federal district court ruling that threw out the teaching of intelligent design as science in schools under that court's jurisdiction. If you haven't seen the actual text, though, it's worth looking at least at this excerpt printed by The New York Times.

Actually, there's lots of juicy material in the omitted portions of the ruling, including Judge Jones's methodical tracing of the intellectual and literal dishonesty of the Dover school board members who conspired to sneak intelligent design into their schools' science curriculum. But the most important--and heartening--thing to remember is that, as the judge makes clear in this excerpt, he is no fan of "judicial activism." He is, in fact, a Republican and a Bush appointee.

And he apparently had no difficulty sorting out the issues at stake in this case.

While even this struggle is far from over (for example, the main NYT article quotes Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, "an advocacy group in Oakland, Calif., that promotes teaching evolution," saying in an interview: "I predict that another school board down the line will try to bring intelligent design into the curriculum like the Dover group did, and they'll be a lot smarter about concealing their religious intent"), this decision is as clear and decisive a step as we might hope toward a return to national sanity.

I like to think of it as a bracing antidote to the perennial watch being conducted by so many of our fellow citizens for signs of the Apocalypse.

The New York Times, December 21, 2005
Excerpt From the Ruling on Intelligent Design

Following is an excerpt from the ruling by Judge John E. Jones III that the policy of the Dover, Pa., school board to introduce intelligent design as an alternative to evolution violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The full text of the opinion is at

"In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether I.D. is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that I.D. cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

Both defendants and many of the leading proponents of I.D. make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, plaintiffs' scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the board who voted for the I.D. policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the I.D. policy.

With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of I.D. have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that I.D. should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach I.D. as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on I.D., who in combination drove the board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy.

The breathtaking inanity of the board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources."

Here in NYC we have our subways and buses back, and maybe a tiny lesson in interdependence


Three days was quite enough for that "fun." My take is that, at a terrible price, in monetary penalties as well as public sentiment, the Transit Workers' Union fended off the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's attempt to steam-roller it.

What happens now with the contract talks is anyone's guess. (It's important to remember that while the workers agreed to end the strike, the contract impasse remains unsolved.) The media blackout that's been imposed seems like a good idea. Negotiations are likely to be more productive without that kind of microscopic scrutiny--and without either side being able to use the media.

On a shakily positive note, I wonder if there may have been a modest lesson, or at least a reminder: that in any social organization, let alone one as big and complex as NYC, we're all in this together.

It's not that I think NYers have developed a new appreciation for the hardship of the transit workers. In fact, some of the anti-transit-worker rhetoric we heard in all the media coverage was just plain shocking. But in general the hardest time coping was had by persons in the less favored sector of the economic spectrum.

Is it possible that the hardships endured by all those folks, both those who made it to work and those who didn't--people we depend on in our own workplaces, and workers who make it possible for businesses and agencies to provide products and services we depend on, as well as everyone who spends money to keep so many businesses going--may have been noticed? Not to mention the essential role they play in keeping our community functioning.

I find that what non-NYers understand least about the place, perhaps because so much attention naturally flows to the rich and famous among us, is how many of our 8 million are just regular folks eking out a living. Without these folks, however, the whole structure kind of breaks down.

Coping with Week One symptoms of Morning Sedition withdrawal


So how has it been for you, this first week without Morning Sedition?

Oh, you have no idea what Morning Sedition is, or rather was? You and most everyone else I spoke to during the show's run of something under two years as Air America Radio's morning show--the show that the network never, ever promoted or even mentioned publicly as far as I can tell, and yet pronounced a failure, displaying the kind of bullying chutzpah and imbecility we usually expect from the people who brought us President George W. Two Terms Mandate Bush.

Actually, it was Morning Sedition Planet Bush Correspondent Lawton Smalls who brought us President George W. Two Terms Mandate Bush. (The "Mandate" was added after the 2004 election.) Lawton reported from the alternative universe inhabited by our president, and became one of the most beloved of the show's regular characters. You see, in addition to being as hard-hitting political show as I could wish for, Morning Sedition was a comedy show, drawing on the talents of a roster of talented writers and performers including Jim Earl and Kent Jones and cohost Marc Maron.

(Starting January, the other Morning Sedition cohost, Mark Riley, a solid news and radio veteran, will do a 5am-7am show in the revamped Air America morning lineup, with the very solid Rachel Maddow filling the 7am-9am slot. I've become very fond of Riley, and I may listen to him. But I doubt that I'll feel I have to listen to him.)

It was great stuff, a brilliant and complex, splendidly entertaining and informative show that had an amazingly loyal following. I hear complaints that the ratings were bad, and the affiliates wouldn't carry the show, but you think even the most cretinous brain-dead empty-suit exec would be embarrassed to spout such screeching drivel. I mean, aren't those the suit's jobs?

Does it make sense to complain about ratings when you haven't brought the show to the attention of the people who might listen? I'm not a marketing guy, but when the world seems to be divided between people who love the show and won't miss it and people who've never heard of it and have no idea what it is, I reckon there's a huge problem that may have nothing to do with the show itself.

As for the affiliates, this is a real consideration. But again, isn't that the network suit's job? Would anyone care to guess how many of the affiliates wouldn't have wanted to carry Al Franken's show if Al Franken weren't Al Franken? Isn't it the suit's job to, you know, sell the damned product? Unless of course he doesn't have a clue himself about the product he's trying to sell.

Meanwhile, I'm left thinking about a lesson that was driven home for me some years ago when New York lost what may have been its most exciting experiment in newspapering, New York Newsday. It was a lively paper with a staggering array of column-writing talent (the likes of Murray Kempton and Jimmy Breslin and Sydney Schanberg and Gail Collins and Pete Hamill, off the top of my head). The paper was on the verge of reaching financial break-even and going into profitability in astonishingly short time for such a venture. But a pooh-bah in Los Angeles decided to pull the plug.

The lesson was this: It takes a remarkable conglomeration of talent to create a living organism like New York Newsday or Morning Sedition, but no more than one smug know-it-all to destroy it.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

In re. U.S.A. v. George W. Bush: Ladies, would you give this guy a handjob? (For that matter, any takers among the guys out there?)


Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has performed something close to a vivisection of the president's "barnburning four-speech 'National Strategy for Victory in Iraq' tour" in his naughty report on Chimpy's "Magical Victory Tour" in the year-end double issue. [Note: DWT has been trying to teach me how to do links, and here is my first effort. By way of backup, I'll also post the article as a comment.]

How can you not love this description:

Bush in person always strikes me as the kind of guy who would ask a woman for a hand job at the end of a first date. He has days where he looks like she said yes, and days where the answer was no.

Today was one of his no days. He frowned, looking wronged, and grabbed the microphone. I pulled out my notebook . . .

A few minutes later, I felt like a hooker who's just blinked under a blanket with a prep-school virgin. Was that it? Is it over? It seemed to be; Bush was off the podium and slipping down the first line of the crowd, pumping hands for a minute and then promptly Snagglepussing toward the left exit. By the time I made it five rows into the crowd, he had vanished into a sea of Secret Servicemen, who whisked him away, presumably to return him posthaste to his formaldehyde tank.

Or this:

God bless George Bush. The Middle East is in flames, and how does he answer the call? He rolls up to the side entrance of a four-star Washington hotel, slips unobserved into a select gathering of the richest fatheads in his dad's Rolodex, spends a few tortured minutes exposing his half-assed policies like a campus flasher and then ducks back into his rabbit hole while he waits for his next speech to be written by paid liars.

If that isn't leadership, what is?

Or this:

All partisan sniping aside, this latest counteroffensive from the White House says just about everything you need to know about George Bush and the men who work for him.

Up until now this president's solution to everything has been to stare into the cameras, lie and keep on lying until such time as the political problem disappears. And now, unable to comprehend that while political crises may wilt in the face of such tactics, real crises do not, he and his team are responding to this first serious feet-to-the-fire Iraq emergency in the same way they always have -- with a fusillade of silly, easily disprovable bullshit. Bush and his mouthpieces continue to try to obfuscate and cloud the issue of why we're in Iraq, and they do so not only selectively but constantly, compulsively, like mental patients who can't stop jacking off in public. They don't know the difference between a real problem and a political problem, because to them, there is no difference. What could possibly be worse than bad poll numbers?

I really can't add anything to the above, but our Matt can. You should really read the whole piece.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Frist: It's hard to take Sen. Dr. Bill seriously when his reputation (and record) precedes him


Somehow Sen. Dr. Bill Frist or his people got the idea that I am in some way, shape or form sympathetic to them. For a while now I have been receiving the senator-doctor's slimy, mendacious PAC e-mails. I'm always tempted to delete them unopened, but then curiosity gets the better of me. I always regret it.

This time out, I'm left wondering--as I often am these days with the wacky pronouncements that come from the Loony Right--how much of this nutso drivel the loon-doctor actually believes himself. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, read for yourself:

From: Bill Frist, M.D. (VOLPAC)
Subject: Frist: Historic Education Legislation Passed
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 21:09:08

Imagine an America in which cost is no longer an obstacle on the path to a college education ... an America in which our children enter the global marketplace fully equipped to compete with their overseas counterparts. In China. In India.

Today, we took a dramatic step toward creating that America.

I’m proud to announce the passage of my SMART Grants legislation. SMART grants are an entirely new aid initiative, aimed at promoting math and science and ensuring that our children are prepared for the global economy of tomorrow.

As it stands, China and India are generating scientists and engineers at an alarming pace, while America falls dangerously behind. Consider:

• U.S. 12th graders recently performed below the international average for 21 countries on a test of general knowledge in math and science.
• In 2004, China graduated about 500,000 engineers, India 200,000 and America just 70,000.
• By 2010, more than 90% of all scientists and engineers in the world will be living in Asia.

If these numbers don’t alarm you, they should.

But today, we begin to reverse that trend. Now more than ever, we MUST secure America’s competitiveness in the global market. My SMART grants will provide Pell Grant eligible students (low-income students who already receive $4,050 per year for college):

• $4,000 grants per year for maintaining a 3.0 GPA and majoring in math, science, engineering, technology or foreign languages critical to national security during their third and fourth years of study at a higher education institution.

That means that a low-income student will obtain up to $4,000 yearly to pay for the costs of college if they choose to major in those fields – in addition to the $4,050 they receive yearly in Pell Grants. The result? An average savings of 52% on the overall cost of college.

Rest assured, this is NOT new spending. It’s paid for … as part of the deficit reduction bill.

The simple fact is, if we don’t start looking to the future, America will be left behind. The goal of this legislation is to encourage more American students to major in these crucial subjects so that we can produce a workforce prepared to compete – and succeed – in the global marketplace.

Leading on principle, this is how we’re going to secure a more COMPETITIVE America.

Education will determine our future. And – despite the Democrats’ best attempts at obstruction – today marks a new day for American education.

More to follow on this legislation in the days ahead. In the meantime, I hope you will visit my blog to voice your opinion on this legislation, to do so please click here.

Bill Frist, M.D.

Well, I mean, really now!

Has any individual done more to stupidify this country than the senator-doctor? At times like this he likes to play the concerned scientist, but this is a man who has put himself at the forefront of the most massive and bloody assault on science and the acquisition of knowledge and understanding in the history of the human race, a man who, since his accession to political power, has sought at every opportunity to command the loyalty of benighted Americans who are crusading to doom their children--and, alas, everyone else's--to a lifetime of ignorance and imbecility.

There is plenty of ground for concern about the country's failure to produce adequate numbers of scientists. I wish there were more public discussion of the issue, but NYT columnist Tom Friedman hasn't had much journalistic company here. Sen. Dr. Bill's enlistment in the cause might be welcome, even with the lies and slash-and-burn partisanship. It's hard to forget who he is, though, and surely one reason for the Science Gap is the sneering, contemptuous, often violently dismissive attitude toward science on the part of the very politico-religious forces the senator-doctor aspires to lead to glory. (Does anyone remember the Terry Schiavo debacle? I imagine the senator-doctor hopes not.)

The notion that it's the Democrats who have presented obstacles to educational opportunity is . . . hmm, how to put his? . . . well, a grotesque lie, a lie of almost psychopathic proportions. Even this unprecedented initiative that the senator-doctor is trumpeting is by his own acknowledgment a glorified form of Pell grant. And shall we look at the record to see who supports the Pell program and who has been systematically gutting it? As I understand it, those Pell grants that the senator-doctor refers so confidently to students receiving are catastrophically underfunded, to the point of being virtually un-funded.

And when he assures his readers, presumably people who can smell a "tax-and-spend liberal" a mile away, "Rest assured, this is NOT new spending. It’s paid for … as part of the deficit reduction bill," well, if he tried to get away with saying this under oath, I'll bet any halfway competent prosecutor could nail his sorry hide for perjury.

I suppose it's possible that this initiative could nevertheless have solid educational merit. It's just so hard to take seriously when it comes from the likes of Sen. Dr. Bill.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Boy, all these rules kinda take the fun out of messengering stuff, don't they? (And aren't transit strikes supposed to be fun?)


Having gotten through my personal e-mail, I ventured into the office system and found this from our office manager:

"Due to the strike, our messenger services are very limited. They are not doing car jobs or walking jobs. They do have bike messengers available but only for packages that are under 3 pounds and envelope or pouch size. BUT, the receiver must guarantee that they will be open late since there is no guaranteed time for delivery. Packages will be delivered the same day but at no scheduled time."


Bulletin: Chimpy's wise counsel to Arik Sharon


Sifting further through the morning e-mail, I found this nugget:

U.S. President George W. Bush told Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to eat less, work less and exercise more in a phone call yesterday following Sharon's release from the hospital after treatment for a mild stroke, a government statement said.

At my desk before 9am, in time to pass on a DNC missive passed on by DWT: Howard Dean socks it to Chimpy the Snoop (or is it Snoopy the Chimp?)


Not that anyone should care, but on Day Two of the NYC transit strike I ventured out into the sub-freezing cold and actually got to work via my "backup plan"! Left home shortly after 7:10am and was at my desk at 8:40, at a cost of only $4, roughly two and a half times my normal commute. (Exercise gained hiking for an hour through frigid morning cold: priceless.) I've bought tickets for three more such trips.

In the morning e-mail I found this post from DWT as he passed through Madrid. I'm sure he would want to share it. (Of course I may find that he already has!)

You know, if Governor Dean keeps this up, in time the mainstream media will have to start acknowledging that he's our only major political figure who always speaks to the point and always make sense.

Won't they?


In a message dated 12/20/05 4:39:23 PM, writes:

Washington, DC - Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today issued a radio actuality on the recently discovered program President Bush authorized to spy on Americans. In the actuality, Dean highlights the fact that "the Bush Administration's secret program to spy on the American people reminds Americans of the abuse of power during the dark days of President Nixon and Vice President Agnew," and calls on President Bush to be "truthful with the American people."

The actuality contrasts the latest revelations of abuse of power coming from the Bush Administration with contradictory statements the President made one year ago when he said that a wiretap "requires a court order" and assured that nothing had changed.

To listen to the audio, click on the link below:

"Democrats are serious about fighting terrorists, and the American people deserve a President and Vice President who understand that we can protect our liberty and our freedom AND keep America safe.

"President Bush's secret program to spy on the American people reminds Americans of the abuse of power during the dark days of President Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew. Why is it that President Bush went in front of the American people and said that a wiretap 'requires a court order,' after having approved a wiretap program without a court order two years earlier.

"From paying journalists to write positive stories, to allowing lobbyists like Jack Abramoff to peddle influence, to leaking the
identity of a covert CIA operative in a time of war, the Republican Party's culture of corruption has to end now.

"The President claims Congress had the same intelligence in the run up to the Iraq War, but that turned out not to be true. The President claims that leaders in Congress were briefed about the program to spy on the American people, but that turned out not to be true either. It's time for the President to be truthful with the American people.

"And while the President yesterday called the leak of his secret program to spy on the American people 'shameful' he hasn't applied the same standards to denounce the leaking of a CIA Agent's identity in a time of war.

"How can President Bush call the spy program leak shameful, while Karl Rove is still on the White House payroll, and still has his top secret security clearance?

"What's really shameful is the double standard. This is an abuse of power. It's un-American, and it's unacceptable.

"Americans need a President who will keep them safe and enforce the law; we don't need a big brother.

"Together, America can do better."



Bush: Wiretaps "Require a Court Order." "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution." [President Bush, 4/20/04, ]

To listen to this audio, click here:


Bush: I Authorized Secret Wiretap Program Without Going Through the Courts. "To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks. So, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, I authorized the interception of international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. ...This program has targeted those with known links to al Qaeda. I've reauthorized this program more than 30
times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for so long as our nation is -- for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens." [President Bush, 12/19/05, ]

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Greetings from transit-free NYC (where not trying to get to work at least made it easier for me to pick up a package at the post office)


As you may have heard, here in the Big Apple just now we're having some no-mass-transit days, the exact number to be determined. Our transit workers have gone on strike for the first time in 25 years, and only the third time ever.

We New Yorkers depend on our subways and buses to a degree that folks elsewhere may not appreciate. Personally, I opted out of Day One of the jamboree, except for such of the wall-to-wall TV coverage as I watched. I was already planning to use my next-to-last available sick day today. In my office, as in many others across this great land, December is "use it or lose it" season when it comes to "paid time off" days. And I don't mean to give up any PTO days if I can help it.

Why, I may even use that last sick day tomorrow. If the strike goes on, however, I will have to resort to my backup plan. This involves walking uptown about a mile, then crossing a bridge into the Bronx, squeezing into a presumably packed Metro-North commuter train, and then walking another 15 or 20 minutes from Grand Central Station to my office. Not to mention doing the whole thing in reverse to get home.

But then, at least I have a backup plan.

(Yes, I'm afraid I'm about to indulge in some shaggy-dog-style rambling. But if it's any consolation, eventually there will be some predictably leftish screeching about politics and those goddamn plutocrats and governmental and quasi-governmental cronies and hacks.)

I know from the experience of 9/11 that walking the distance isn't a realistic option. That day, after leaving my office at 32nd Street, I made it as far up Broadway as 103rd Street--en route to 189th--when I heard announcements emanating from the IRT subway station below which said that subway service, which had been totally shut down in the city, was about to resume on "my" line, the no. 1 Broadway local.

The final leg of the trip turned out to be not nearly as effortless as might have been imagined, but it sure beat more walking. And if you do the math, you'll notice that I hadn't even reached the halfway point!

Of course, if there had been no alternative, I would have had no choice but to trudge onward. At least then I would have been home, though. Doing the complete slog to get to work, and then doing it again to get home, and repeating it every day . . . sorry, but this really doesn't seem in the cards, especially at temperatures that rose today from the high 20s into the low 30s.

The 1980 transit strike, which featured then-Mayor Ed ("The Great Gasbag") Koch walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, was much more conveniently scheduled for April.

I hope it will come as small surprise that the Transit Workers' Union is being simply creamed in the media coverage, while the Metropolitan Transportation Authority gets a free pass.

(The MTA, you need to know, is a quasi-governmental authority that is basically controlled by the governor of New York State, in the present instance "Tall George" Pataki, who has stocked it generously with bottom-feeding political hacks and cronies. Now, I don't mean to be overly hard on "Tall George," but what can you do? I mean, the guy--yet another Yale product, please note--has been governor for what feels like a hundred years, and tallness still seems to be his only distinguishing quality. Unless you count boundless cynical opportunism. I'm inclined to count it, but that could be just me.)

So it doesn't seem to matter that for years now the MTA has screwed its workers at every opportunity, while the governor was willing to give away the store to other unions whose support he craved at reelection time, and even Mayor Michael Bloomberg (you'll never guess which bridge he was photographed walking across this morning), who fancies himself a tough labor negotiator, has never asked for the kinds of concessions that were presented to the TWU as a fait accompli. Some cynical commentators have had the nerve to suggest that the TWU makes an easy target for gutless and self-serving pols because its membership is so overwhelmingly made up of people of color.

Meanwhile, the MTA has managed for the second year in a row to "spend down" a surplus that materialized unexpectedly in the midst of the humongous budget deficits that have given us two recent rounds of giant fare hikes, with another supposedly coming sooner rather than later. (It's hard to keep track of MTA budget numbers, since it appears that the agency keeps a different set of books for every purpose, and it appears further that the numbers made available for public perusal are, you know, sort of made up for this purpose.)

This time the MTA, God love 'em, managed to make a windfall of some $1 billion go bye-bye just in time for the labor negotiations! The coincidences just keep piling up!

Naturally the sore-headed transit workers have suggested that it's not so much of a coincidence. The MTA is never shy about making budgetary disasters an integral part of contract negotiations, expecting the workers to roll with the fiscal punches. Apparently, however, management's official position is that, by contrast, financial news of a positive cast is none of the damn workers' damn business.

Make no mistake, whatever pathetic contract the TWU eventually "squeezes" out, the workers are screwed. In addition to suffering the usual financial hardships of a strike (and there isn't even relief from their union, since the national isn't supporting the strike), the state law that forbids strikes by public workers calls for penalties of two days' pay for every day of work missed--and various other fines can be levied as well.

Even here in the heart of Blue State Country, only glimmerings of the workers' side reach public attention. Nevertheless, in this morning's Times, in a piece that delusionally portrays the transit workers as bullyingly flexing their mighty muscle, the writer does note that

the very conditions of their job also grind them down and generate resentment, said Marian Swerdlow, a sociologist and the author of "Underground Woman," a memoir of her four years as a subway conductor.

"The working conditions are more physically onerous, the treatment by managers more disrespectful, and the abuse from the public more hurtful, than any other group of public workers in the city experiences," Dr. Swerdlow said.

Of course when you dip into the saturation TV quasi-coverage, you see these poor souls demeaned by most everyone from know-little street reporters to know-not-much-more talking heads to the august likes of the aforementioned Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki as vile and greedy Snidely Whiplashes who have willfully and gleefully set out to steal Christmas from us honest, hard-working folk.

Amazingly, for once George W. Bush doesn't seem to come into the picture at all! Unless you count all the energy that he and the people who installed him in the White House have spent all these years demeaning people who work for a living, and you connect this to the climate in which it is so easy to vilify people who aren't asking for much more than to be treated with a modicum of respect.

(Once again, I'm inclined to count it. But once again, that could be just me.)