Quotes of the Day:

"Ain't gonna be so beautiful when the bitch got a bald head and one titty." -- Imus sidekick Sid Rosenberg on breast cancer survivor Sheryl Crow.

"Over the years, Imus made fun of blacks, Jews, gays, politicians. He called them lying weasels. This was part of his charm." -- CNN and The Washington Post's Howie Kurtz on Imus.

"When you deal with stupidity, you begin to understand the concept of infinity." -- Gustave Flaubert on, well, I report, you decide ...

"We are entitled to ask - we are required to ask - how many more men, how many more lives,
how much more destruction will be asked, to provide the military victory that is always just
around the corner, to pour into this bottomless pit of our dreams?"
-- Bobby Kennedy, March 18, 1968, Link

Alterman on Tommy: The thing I find interesting about Tommy Thompson's professed admiration for the moneymaking abilities of my people, here and here, is the fact that it's possible to be a Republican governor of Wisconsin and secretary of HHS in a Republican administration and still have no idea whatever how to talk to The Tribe. This is why, no matter how much those right-wing Christians say they love Israel (in preparation for us to be wiped out, of course), there will never be any significant participation of Jews in the Republican Party. Thompson is not an anti-Semite. Just a clueless goy. This would be unimaginable on the part of so successful a Democrat.

Tommy Thompson gets testy. “Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said today that fatigue and a persistent cold were to blame for his comment yesterday to a group of Reform Jews that earning money is ‘part of the Jewish tradition.’ ‘I was tired, I made a mistake and I apologized,’ Thompson told a group of Politico reporters and editors in an interview. ‘Have you ever made a mistake?,’ a testy Thompson demanded of this reporter.”

Today's Must Read: the Justice Department's 90 second review process for U.S. attorneys. Now that's efficiency!

Bad reporting matters Via Ross Douthat, James Fallows tells the story of what happened when one reporter made one mistake and identified the Virginia Tech shooter as a Chinese national: Fox and Drudge picked it up and the Chinese media subsequently went into full lockdown. Wow. Moral of the story: get your facts right, kids. Second moral: freedom of the press sucks in China.

When we learned yesterday that Cho Seung Hui, the Virginia Tech shooter, had been an "eccentric loner" who had written "disturbing" essays and plays, my heart sank. Here we go again, I thought. It's going to be just like the aftermath of Columbine, when high schools around the country went crazy and started expelling kids who wore too much black, or who wrote compositions too full of teenage angst, or who affected a pose of rebellion that was just a bit too unnerving. It was an insane overreaction to a tragic event, and one that's gone a long way toward virtually outlawing a lot of fairly normal teenage behavior.

But then the stories about Cho started dribbling out, and it turned out he was more than just an eccentric loner. He wrote poetry so disturbing that classmates refused to come to class and he ended up getting one-on-one tutoring. The tutor, Lucinda Roy, says she tried repeatedly to warn campus officials about Cho but was told there was nothing they could do. There were complaints two years ago from female students about harrassment. After the second one Cho was checked into a psychiatric hospital.

In other words, Cho's behavior wasn't merely eccentric. There really are good reasons to think that it might have been possible to do something prophylactic before Cho finally snapped and killed 32 students and professors two days ago. And it's going to be perfectly reasonable to start thinking about ways this tragedy might have been stopped before it ever occurred.

All I can say is: I still hope everyone takes this very, very slowly. There might be lessons we can learn from Monday's tragedy, but our first reactions are almost certain to be wrong. Probably our second reactions too. Whatever we do, let's not make the cure worse than the disease.

The Presidential candidates are all starting to weigh in on today's Supreme Court decision on late-term abortion. We've got statements from Edwards, Obama, McCain, and (best of all) Rudy right here at Election Central. And more coming.

"Duncan Hunter has filed papers to run for president, but in his official filing,
he misspelled the word 'president.' Political experts say it's all part of Hunter's
plan to attract Bush supporters."
-- Conan O'Brien

What liberal media? My Senator, Russ Feingold, writes to John Roberts (the CNN one, not the SCOTUS one):

I write to express my concern about your comments during CNN's Late Edition on April 15th. During the broadcast, you falsely implied that the Feingold-Reid Iraq redeployment bill would "cut off the funds in the middle of a war" for "troops in the field." While I certainly respect differences of opinion in the debate about the war, I strongly object to this mischaracterization of our effort. Our legislation forces the safe redeployment of troops by March 31, 2008, by prohibiting funds for continued military operations after that date, with a few narrow exceptions. Troops in the field would continue to get their salaries, food, ammunition, weapons, and other supplies as they currently do. You went on to suggest that such an approach has "never happened before." In fact, this is precisely the step Congress took in 1993 to end military operations in Somalia.

Here's a pdf of the entire letter.

9-11: The French knew and told the CIA ? Link Excerpt: These secret services chronicles about al-Qaeda raise many questions. And at first, a surprise:
The high number of notes devoted exclusively to al-Qaeda's threats against the United States, months before the suicide attacks in New York and Washington. Nine whole reports on that subject between September 2000 and August 2001, including a five-page summary entitled, "Airplane Hijacking Plans by Radical Islamists," and dated ... January 5, 2001! Eight months 9-11, the DGSE reports therein tactical discussions conducted between Osama and the Taliban from the beginning of 2000 on the subject of hijacking American commercial airliners.

"We’re going to do something the Republicans hate, and that is
allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower price prescription drugs.
They hate it because they are owned by the Pharmaceutical industry."
--Harry Reid, talking tough Link Sorry Harry, but the Repugs blocked you today

As a counter to despair over the VA Tech shootings ...

DENVER — It has been six months since Brad and Libby Birky opened a small cafe on a grungy strip of Colfax Avenue. They have no idea how much money they've made. Or how much any of their customers has paid for a bowl of the chicken chili or a slice of the organic pesto pizza.

Prices, profits — those don't mean much in the SAME Cafe. The acronym stands for So All May Eat, and that philosophy is all that matters.

After years of volunteering in soup kitchens, Libby and Brad wanted to create a place that would nourish the hungry without setting them apart. No assembly-line service, no meals mass-produced from whatever happened to be donated that week. Just fresh, sophisticated food, made from scratch, served up in a real restaurant — but a restaurant without a cash register.

Pay what you think is fair, the Birkys tell their customers. Pay what you can afford. Those who have a bit more are encouraged to drop a little extra in the donations box upfront. Those who can't pay at all are asked to work in the kitchen, dicing onions, scrubbing pots, giving back any way they can.

I've heard about other such cafes before. One of the homeless shelters in Atlanta ran one, staffing it with a mix of volunteers and clients acquiring job skills. A colleague in Pennsylvania talked his congregation into transforming a stuffy, poorly-attended lunch (classical music and hot dogs for the downtown office workers) into a vibrant feeding opportunity (classical music and free hot dogs for anyone who came through the doors). But this is the first one I've heard of run by individuals looking to do a bit of ministry.

And this just makes sense on so many different levels:

Both Birkys grew up religious. Libby was raised Catholic; Brad, Mennonite. These days, they don't belong to any organized religion — except, maybe, the cafe. "If we didn't have faith in the goodness of humankind, we wouldn't be doing this," Brad says. "This is our church." He pulls out a rolling pin and gets to work on another pizza crust.

The Catholic Worker ethos meets down-to-earth Mennonite practicality, and a community forms to become its own means of grace. That's what I call living the Kingdom.

Refugees returning... or not.... One piece of evidence that the surge is working you may have heard is that Iraq's internally displaced persons are returning to their homes. Shockingly, like most "good news" from Iraq, this turns out not to withstand much scrutiny. "The American people are where we are;
President Bush is where no one is."
-- Harry Reid, on why Dems will stick to
their guns in demanding troop pullout, Link Gates: Hooray for Dems? Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today that Moqtada al-Sadr's withdrawal of six cabinet ministers from the Iraqi government might, in the end, turn out to be a good thing depending on who replaces them. Then he added this:

Gates, on a Middle East tour, called for a range of efforts from inside and outside Iraq to speed up the formation of a broad-based government of Iraq's majority Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions.

...."The debate in Congress ... has been helpful in demonstrating to the Iraqis that American patience is limited," Gates told Pentagon reporters traveling with him in Jordan. "The strong feelings expressed in the Congress about the timetable probably has had a positive impact ... in terms of communicating to the Iraqis that this is not an open-ended commitment."

Somebody jog my memory here. I know that other people have made this point about congressional pressure before, but never a high-ranking Bush cabinet officer, right? Is Gates off the reservation, or is this is the new party line from the White House?

Bush's legacy has begun The Supreme Court has upheld a nationwide ban on the procedure that dare not speak its name. At least not in the Washington Post unless it's in quotes. It's "partial birth abortion" to its foes and "intact dilation and extraction" to its supporters, but whatever you call it, it's now illegal. Anthony Kennedy, who strongly knocked down a state ban on the procedure a few years ago, not only changed his mind this time around but even wrote the majority opinion. The usual conservatives went along, and the final decision was 5-4 in favor of upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 despite the fact that it contains no health exception provision whatsoever. Ruth Bader Ginsburge wrote the dissent:

"Today's decision is alarming," Ginsburg wrote for the minority. "It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists....And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health."

She added: "Retreating from prior rulings that abortion restrictions cannot be imposed absent an exception safeguarding a woman's health, the Court upholds an Act that surely would not survive under the close scrutiny that previously attended state-decreed limitations on a woman's reproductive choices."

There's a sense in which this is more symbolic than anything else, since IDX is infequently used and there are almost always alternate procedures available. But it's not entirely symbolic, and in any case, symbols matter. What's more, as Ginsburg points out, the different standard of scrutiny the court applied in this case will affect future abortion cases as well. It's sad news.

Good News for People Who Like Bad Health Care Policy The AARP makes a definitive move to becoming a major private insurance provider. But, yes, it intends to also be a major Beltway lobbying force. In essence, from here going forward it will be harder than ever to reform health care policy in a sensible direction. Corruption watch Domenici ethics inquiry opens in the senate. What do they have to hide? White House to RNC: Don't give those emails to the Dem Congress! What liberal media? Associated Press channels Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, writes a story about the price of John Edwards' haircut and labels him "pretty." A desperately stupid Democrat Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) on Virginia Tech. Desperately stupid Repugs Apparently the new normal is that victims and near-victims of horrendous crimes can have their perceived bravery level rated by every chickenhawk on the internets. What Atrios said: Even More Stupids If people want to kill people and don't care if they get killed or caught they're going to kill people. The existence of guns facilitate certain kinds of crimes, but there are many other options. Large motor vehicles could be quite effective, too, and don't require much creativity or skill. More creative options also exist.

Obviously security measures can protect specific locations and minimize the likelihood of certain kinds of violence at those locations - hard to bring a gun past security at an airport, easy to shoot up the check-in desk area or drive your SUV into the crowd standing outside - but I assume we don't want all of our spaces to have that kind of security. There's a catchy phrase for that kind of state, which usually has bad connotations.

College campuses are not daycare centers, they are places where large numbers of adults live and study and work. While some, especially those in dense urban areas, are more closed to the outside world, many are quite open. You know, like shopping malls are, another set of places where large numbers of people congregate with minimal security present and where someone who didn't care if he got killed or caught could successfully kill a lot of people.

None of this is an argument in defense of whatever specific measures the campus took yesterday, it's just about the notion that there are any general security measures any of us would want applied which could prevent this kind of thing. You can't. At most you can divert it.

Oregon House approves two gay rights bills. The Oregon House voted today to approve a domestic partnership bill which offers same-sex couples a broad range of new rights, as well as legislation that bans discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people in employment, housing and access to public accommodations. Towleroad notes one ironic moment: “House pages tried to block Aimee Wilson, the partner of Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland), from being on the floor during the debate because she wasn’t a family member. Wilson eventually made it on the floor.” We need more failed abstinence programs. The latest federal report on abstinence-only programs shows that they have had “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence.” Nevertheless, the conservative Family Reseach Council responds that “one logical conclusion is that to achieve the greatest effectiveness, programs must be intensive and long-term, so that the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to reject sex before marriage are constantly reinforced–particularly in the pivotal high school years.” Meanwhile: “The Baptist Press is reporting that True Love Waits — a Christian group promoting abstinence-only education — is planning to expand its operations in six African countries, thanks to a recent surge in donations. Evidently, they’re unfazed by that recent U.S. report showing that these programs are basically useless. A trifling concern, really.” It takes a hypocrite. Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) said last week that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is wrong when she says “it takes a village” to raise a child. “I think it’s time for us to recognize every child deserves a mother and a father,” Romney said. “The statement, however, runs counter to what The Boston Globe quoted him as saying in 1998: ‘Hillary Clinton is very much right, it does take a village, and we are a village and we need to work together in a non-skeptical, no-finger-pointing way.’” The tragedy From MSNBC, pictures of the VT dead, and notes from their lives. Helps put the whole thing in perspective.
Submitted by RKing on