Archive

  • Wacky Republicans

    Sometimes my initial reaction to condemn conservative idiocy as pernicious and malevolent and dangerous is just overcome by awe at the weird hypocrisy of it all. This is one of those times: The government has told a federal appeals court that a suit by an F.B.I. translator who was fired after accusing the bureau of ineptitude should not be allowed to proceed because it would cause "significant damage to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." Lawyers for the government said in a brief filed with the court on Thursday that the suit could not continue without disclosing privileged and classified information. The translator, Sibel Edmonds, was a contract linguist for the bureau for about six months, translating material in Azerbaijani, Farsi and Turkish. Ms. Edmonds was dismissed in 2002 after complaining repeatedly that bureau linguists had produced slipshod and incomplete translations of important terrorism intelligence before and after the Sept. 11, 2001,...
  • Misplaced Priorities

    Via Julie Saltman and Seeing the Forest comes this gem : A review of fines levied by other federal agencies suggests that the government may be taking swear words a bit too seriously. If the bill passes the Senate, Bono saying "fucking brilliant" on the air would carry the exact same penalty as illegally testing pesticides on human subjects. And for the price of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl, you could cause the wrongful death of an elderly patient in a nursing home and still have enough money left to create dangerous mishaps at two nuclear reactors. (Actually, you might be able to afford four "nuke malfunctions": The biggest fine levied by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year was only $60,000.)
  • And It Was Good

    The other day, I asked Matt Singer to comment on a Montana state senator's bill to tax "big-box retailers" that refuse to pay a living wage. And so he did .
  • Much Obliged

    That’s all for me, folks. I’m buttoning my collar back up and heading back to the comments threads (and my own place). I’m off to Chicago for a day of Oscar-related shenanigans. I’m on a 10-year winning spree with my Oscar picks, and I need to defend my title. Thanks for letting me invade your space for a couple of days, Ezra. It was good fun. On a final note, lately there’s been a lot of grumbling about sexism in the blogosphere and about some of the bigger dogs not giving the smaller pooches their due, some of it fair and some of it not. At the risk of embarrassing my generous host, I want to acknowledge that he has been supremely supportive of me, long before either issue became hot topics again, and despite the fact that we don’t always agree. Thanks, EK. -- Shakespeare’s Sister
  • Weird Science

    I like science. I always liked studying science, for which I had a natural aptitude, and I like reading about it still. Any kind of science captures my interest—the natural sciences, the social sciences—in no small part because I feel it is an important endeavor to helping us make sense of the world around us, and the things and people in it. A certain respect for science seems not only admirable, but wise, which is part of the reason the Bush administration’s continuous displays of their contempt for science to further their agenda makes me want to pull my hair out and hit something with a bat. An editorial in today’s Washington Post reveals another example of their aforementioned disdain for scientific evidence, once again with potentially deadly consequences: A large body of scientific evidence suggests that the free provision of clean needles curbs the spread of AIDS among drug users without increasing rates of addiction. … The administration claims that the evidence for the...
  • The End of the World as We Know It

    The only thing dumber than the name “Mitt Romney” is the most recent idea being espoused by the asshole who goes by it. Pam’s House Blend links to an article in the Boston Globe, titled “ Romney links gay marriage, US prestige,” which excerpts the Massachusetts governor’s address to Utah Republicans Friday night: “America cannot continue to lead the family of nations around the world if we suffer the collapse of the family here at home,” Romney said, calling the Supreme Judicial Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts “a blow to the family.” Considering that the legalization of gay marriage has absolutely no effect whatsoever on straight marriages and the families that result from them, extending the right to marry and start families to lesbians and gays can in no way be described as “collapsing the family.” Instead, it broadens the definition of what a family is, which would more accurately be described as “extending the family.”...
  • They're Gazing at Our Navels

    One of the more interesting effects of Gannongate has been reading the various critiques on blogging from the mainstream media. The first round of commentary was predominantly vitriol designed to undermine the credibility of bloggers as a whole; had it been effective, had the attackers succeeded in their goal of debunking the story not by disproving the facts but by delegitimizing the source of its origins, the entire Gannon story might well have faded away. Instead, it seems their blanket dismissal of blogging and bloggers may have had the opposite effect, as some new editorials seek to defend the role of the blogoshere, and in doing so, breathe life into the notion that there is a distinct role to be played by bloggers and extend the life of Gannongate. The St. Petersberg Times opines : The proliferation of Internet Web logs - so-called "blogs" - has unsettled mainstream news organizations that have become a prime target for bloggers. On the whole, it's probably a healthy...
  • She's a Deaniac

    During a recent meeting with a group of activists in San Francisco, new DNC Chair Howard Dean proved once again he is the right man for the job: Two months earlier, many of the same Democratic stalwarts had dinner with the outgoing DNC chair, Terry McAuliffe. Despite John Kerry’s loss in the presidential race, McAuliffe’s message was remarkably upbeat: For the first time in 30 years, the DNC had raised more money than did the RNC. They had built an impressive Washington headquarters, housing shiny new technology. McAuliffe’s ebullient demeanor soured during the question and answer session. Many of the activists had worked outside California getting out the vote. They were distressed by what they had encountered: Republican dirty tricks; voting irregularities; dysfunctional systems; antagonism between DNC staff and local Democrats. As one difficult question followed another, McAuliffe seemed to bristle. Finally, he exclaimed, “I didn’t come here to listen to whining!” There were...
  • What's the Matter with Kansas Now?

    Apropos of my earlier post regarding the necessity of being vigilant about encroachments on women’s rights, we get this story out of Kansas, where the Attorney General, Phill Kline, who happens to be head of the national Republican attorneys general association, is trying to obtain the medical records of women and girls who had late-term abortions. His rationale is that he needs information in the files to prosecute criminal cases. Eh? Kline asserts that the medical records will help him prosecute statutory rape cases and pursue health professionals who have failed to report cases of suspected child sexual abuse, which they are compelled to do by state law. "There are two things that child predators want,” he said, “access to children and secrecy. As attorney general, I'm bound and determined not to give them either." How laudable. The first problem (and there’s always a problem with the intentions of these folks, isn’t there?) is that invading the privacy of rape victims, statutory...
  • This Noah’s on a Sinking Ship

    Namely, the Social Security reform proposed by President Bush, who seems to be taking No Child Left Behind literally . The battle over Social Security has been joined by an unusual lobbyist, a 9-year-old from Texas who has agreed to travel supporting President Bush's proposal. The boy, Noah McCullough, made a splash with his encyclopedic command of presidential history, earning five appearances on the "Tonight" show and some unusual experiences in the presidential campaign last year. He beat Howard Dean in a trivia contest at the Democratic National Convention and wrote for his local newspaper about his trip to see the inauguration. "He's very patriotic and very Republican," said Noah's mother, Donna McCullough, a former teacher and self-described Democrat. "It's the way he was born." In a sign of how far groups go to carry their message on Social Security, Progress for America has signed up Noah, a fourth grader, as a volunteer spokesman. He starts on spring break from James Williams...

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