Filtered news 4/9

Tip: After reading this filtered news, bang yourself on the forehead with a hammer a few times to make the pain go away.

Stupid Democract watch Your Senate majority leader at work, trying to the Highway Beautification Act's billboard regulations--and thwarted by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

The truth about cell phones If the rule against using cell phones on air planes has ever struck you as a bit fishy, well, you're . Safety has nothing to do with it.

Domestic violence against spouses and intimate partners in the U.S. fell by nearly two-thirds in recent years, reaching a 30-year low. Government figures show the marked declines began in 1994. (McClatchy News has the details) But wait a second, what about all those e-mail chain letters about how much better things were in the old days?

Corruption Cheesehead style Daniel Bice, of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is on the Wisconsin connection to the US Attorney Purge.

Two Dems with backbones Obama joins Edwards in .

Barack Obama has chosen not to attend September's Democratic presidential primary debate co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and Fox News, an aide said, effectively dooming the event. Obama is the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus running for President, and his decision allows other candidates to skip the debate without facing criticism that they are turning their backs on a leading black institution.

Good for Obama. He recognized that a leading black institution was turning its back on its constituents by partnering with Fox News.

“The President’s approval ratings
are right there with gonorrhea.”
-- Rep Marty Seifer (R-MN),

Big Brother is watching We're going to try to get more deeply into this, but I at least wanted to touch on the story so word of this shocking incident gets wider attention. Walter F. Murphy is a legendary expert on constitutional theory and the Court. Yesterday at the Balkanization blog, Mark Graber from Murphy in which he explains his experience finding himself on the Terrorist Watch List.

Now, we've all heard stories at this point about all sorts of different people ending up on this list who obviously have no credible connection to any terrorist organization. Often it's a matter of a mispelled name or someone having the same name as someone else. And often the stories are treated as oddities or examples of how randomly names get added, as though the issue is the poor management of the list and disorganization of the process of compiling it. But that doesn't appear to have been the case here.

Let's pick up Murphy's description of what happened ...

"When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years."

"I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said. "

"After carefully examining my credentials, the clerk asked if he could take them to TSA officials. I agreed. He returned about ten minutes later and said I could have a boarding pass, but added: "I must warn you, they're going to ransack your luggage." On my return flight, I had no problem with obtaining a boarding pass, but my luggage was "lost." Airlines do lose a lot of luggage and this "loss" could have been a mere coincidence. In light of previous events, however, I'm a tad skeptical."

Given who Professor Murphy is, I have no doubt this is an accurate account of his particular experience. And it would seem that the people who actually work with the list on a daily basis treat it as a given that the most innocuous and obviously protected forms of criticism of the Bush administration routinely get you on the watch list. That pretty much confirms the truth of what most of us would probably have thought was a harebrained conspiracy theory. Doesn't this deserve more scrutiny? ( This is apparently that may have landed Murphy on the list.)

Finally! A big news org the GOP's bogus attack on Pelosi's trip to Syria.

Meet Blackwater USA Jeremy Scahill's Nation has exposed the role of Blackwater, USA--a powerful private army with its own military base, a fleet of twenty aircraft, and 20,000 soldiers at the ready--as crucial to the Bush Administration's foreign-policy and privatization agendas. Scahill's Blackwater (Nation Books) offers the full story of the world's most powerful mercenary army founded by a multimillionaire Christian conservative backer of President Bush and his allies. It's an invaluable read for anyone concerned with the direction of the American experiment. Click for info and to buy what Naomi Klein calls "the most important and chilling book about the death throes of US democracy you will read in years." (And check out a of Scahill's upcoming book appearances coast to coast.)

Fox Noose Look at Fox being all "fair" and "balanced". I'm not sure why we'd ever think they were anything but a paragon of journalistic integrity...

"As I say, they (Al-Qaeda) were present before we invaded Iraq."
-- Dick Cheney, with the vulgar Pigboy, lying again,

"Cheney is increasingly out of touch with reality. He seems to think that by lying about things,
he can make others believe they are so. In Limbaughland, he's right. In Limbaughland, not only
were Saddam and Al Qaeda linked but -- more significantly -- liberals hate America. In Limbaughland,
Cheney can say a lot simply by failing to disagree with his host's assertions."
--Dan Froomkin,

Corruption watch The Los Angeles Times delves into the White House's parallel email system -- and once again the White House's inability to draw a distinction between politics and policy is .

: two months into the surge, it's time to measure its progress.

Is this who we are now? told a prisoner that his mother would be brought to Gitmo — with her being raped as an obvious threat hanging in the background — if he didn't start talking.

GOP games and the State Department were told about Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria beforehand and neither one raised any objections. See also on the same subject.

College for terrorists I've always heard that one of the big problems with America's skyrocketing prison population is that it simply provides an ever bigger training ground for future crooks and drug lords. Makes sense to me. Now, apparently,

Iraqi officials also struggle with a crowded system where prisoners can languish as long as two years before getting a trial. But they say the Americans have allowed militants to flourish in their facilities.

"It looks like a terrorist academy now," said Saad Sultan, the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry's liaison to U.S. and Iraqi prisons. "There's a huge number of these students. They study how they can kill in their camps. And we protect them, feed them, give them medical care.

"The Americans have no solution to this problem," he said. "This has been going on for a year or two, we have been telling them."

This is a good example of why I don't think a continued American presence can do any further good in Iraq. (The is another.) Sure, it's just one data point, but it's emblematic of the problem we've been fighting the entire time, namely that an American-style military occupation simply can't address the kinds of problems tearing Iraq apart. It can, however, make those problems worse. And the longer we stay, the higher the odds that worse is exactly what they'll get.

Corruption is such hard work Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, :

At a recent "prep" for a prospective Sunday talk-show interview, Gonzales's performance was so poor that top aides scrapped any live appearances. During the March 23 session in the A.G.'s conference room, Gonzales was grilled by a team of top aides and advisers—including former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former White House lawyer Tim Flanigan—about what he knew about the plan to fire seven U.S. attorneys last fall. But Gonzales kept contradicting himself and "getting his timeline confused," said one participant who asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting. His advisers finally got "exasperated" with him, the source added.

Damn Dirty Hippies

Sometimes, I think, liberals have trouble recognizing the possibility that public opinion might be on our side in a controversy. Check out, for example, the results of the poll regarding the use of force against Iran:

In dealing with Iran, 44 percent prefer diplomacy to establish better relations and 28 percent favor economic sanctions. Support for military action is in the single digits and so is even threatening military action. This preference for non-military solutions cuts across party identification. Republicans are more likely to favor sanctions than improved diplomatic relations, but they still prefer non-military options (68 percent of Republicans, compared to 78 percent of Democrats).

Under the circumstances, there's absolutely no reason for Democrats to feel that it's necessary to include gratuitous threats of military action in their public comments on this subject.

What's more, as you'd expect, this isn't some idiosyncratic opinion about Iran that people have developed. Just as 9/11 and what appeared to be a surprisingly easy victory over the Taliban made a lot of people much more willing to believe in the efficacy of military solutions during the 2002-2003 period, the public has become much more generically skeptical that military action is the best way to combat nuclear proliferation:

The skepticism about the use of force applies in general terms as well. A plurality of the public, 43 percent, says attacking countries that develop weapons of mass destruction would enhance national security "not at all"—a 14-point jump in six months. Those who say it would enhance security "a great deal" dropped 19 points, to 17 percent.

All-in-all, it's a good public opinion context for this whole Pelosi-in-Damascus fight to play out in.

Heads I Win, Tales Perpetual War

that in wingnutland if the Mahdi Army lies low in the face of the surge, that proves the surge is working, while if the Mahdi Army decides to fight US forces, that proves the surge is working. Farley feels this is illogical. He's forgetting that the surge is Bush's policy, which means that it's working by definition and, thus, whatever reaction the Mahdi Army has to the surge is evidence of success.

In a memo to staff today, World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz said he tried to find an “agreement that and the rights of the staff member in an exceptional and unprecedented situation.” He failed to explain how giving his romantic interest, Shaha Riza, a $193,590 salary is in the best interests of the institution. Her pay exceeds that of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Wolfowitz also “reportedly so he would be able to continue to work with Riza.”

Who supports the troops? has that the military, in a desperate effort to fill its ranks for President Bush’s escalation, “sent soldiers with acute post-traumatic stress disorder, severe back injuries and other serious war wounds back to Iraq.”


April 9, 2007 - 4:57pm