Friday, March 29

The Smoke Machine The Smoke Machine
In a way, it's a shame that so much of David Brock's "Blinded by the Right: The conscience of an ex-conservative" is about the private lives of our self-appointed moral guardians. Those tales will sell books, but they may obscure the important message: that the "vast right-wing conspiracy" is not an overheated metaphor but a straightforward reality, and that it works a lot like a special-interest lobby.

Monday, March 25

Cold Fusion Rides Again / Science magazine publishes more evidence of tabletop nuclear reactions Cold Fusion Rides Again
Science magazine publishes more evidence of tabletop nuclear reactions

Hal Plotkin, Special to SF Gate Monday, March 25, 2002

Science magazine dropped a bombshell earlier this month: The prestigious journal published a paper by a team of researchers at Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Laboratory who say they have discovered evidence of what looks like nuclear fusion taking place in a relatively inexpensive tabletop device.

Friday, March 22

Plan would ease patient privacy rules / Bush wants to allow records to be shared without permission Washington -- The Bush administration has proposed changing some of the federal rules designed to protect the confidentiality of Americans' medical records, including the ability of patients to decide in advance who should be able to use their personal health information.

Wednesday, March 20

'Officer of year' faces firing for lying / Internal affairs probed Oakland narcotics cop A veteran Oakland police narcotics investigator named "officer of the year" has been told that the city intends to fire him on the grounds that he lied and falsified reports, sources said today.
John L. Gutierrez, 44, who has earned a reputation for seizing record amounts of cocaine and making high-profile drug arrests, faces termination as a result of an internal affairs investigation, officials with knowledge of the case said.
The continuing saga of Prohibition in Amerika. This is what happens to the 'best'. You don't even have to imagine the 'worst'.

Tuesday, March 19

BBC News | ARCHIVE | Anthrax attacks A Newsnight investigation raised the possibility that there was a secret CIA project to investigate methods of sending anthrax through the mail which went madly out of control.
The shocking assertion is that a key member of the covert operation may have removed, refined and eventually posted weapons-grade anthrax which killed five people.
Kids Get Left in the Lurch When the 'Values' Cops Arrive Thanks to the courage of talk show host and gay adoptive parent Rosie O'Donnell--and a Web site she publicized, www.lethim Americans now know that a boy named Bert may be ripped out of the only home he has ever known. The administration of Gov. Jeb Bush insists on putting Bert up for adoption knowing that his foster parents would not be eligible under Florida law. How perverse of the so-called family values movement of the Christian right that continues to push for anti-gay adoption bans throughout the nation to mock the love that Christ bestowed on all, and to deny children in cases like this one the only good, loving family available to them.

Monday, March 18

Sen. Pat Roberts is a Marine veteran, a knowledgeable member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a loyal conservative Republican. Accordingly, it is hard for him to take issue with what Bush said last week. But as a blunt-spoken Kansan and a patriotic American, Roberts feels constrained to express concern.
''Why are we rattling the cage so much?'' asked Roberts, posing a question that might be asked at the Dodge City ''coffee klatch'' in his hometown. He was stunned by President Bush's remarkable Wednesday news conference, which included threats of imminent attack against Iraq and did not rule out using tactical nuclear weapons. As a senior GOP member of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee, Roberts knows of no change in Saddam Hussein's military posture to warrant the president's stance. ''I have a lot of questions,'' he told me.
Andrea Yates and a world of craziness? All over the country -- most notably in Boston -- priests are facing a variety of sexual-misconduct allegations. My question is, what else is new?
Is it just me, or does anyone else see anything weird about a job in which healthy young men are required to take a lifelong vow of chastity? What kind of man would be attracted to such a job?
A man with weird sexual problems, that's what kind of man.

Friday, March 15

Nuts About Nukes ( Most military men agree that battlefield nukes are not an option. Among them has been Colin Powell, who, in his autobiography, "My American Journey," wrote disparagingly of their utility. In 1958 he was assigned to guard a nuclear cannon. "We are not talking about dropping a few artillery shells at a crossing. No matter how small they were . . . we would be crossing a threshold. . . . Using nukes at this point would mean one of the most significant policy and military decisions since Hiroshima."
Spinsanity - Countering rhetoric with reason Paul Harvey repeats McCaslin misinformation (3/14)
By Brendan Nyhan
Radio host Paul Harvey read Tuesday's Washington Times story by John McCaslin on the air today, repeating McCaslin's false implication that Ken Lay stayed in the Clinton White House eleven times (Real Player audio). After reading the story, Harvey said, "This is the Clinton White House they're talking about." Though McCaslin retracted the claim yesterday, the myth has gained new strength as the result of his irresponsible error. In this case, it has now been widely disseminated (yet again) through Harvey's extensive syndication network.
Nukes and Consequences Nukes and Consequences
by Molly Ivins

Thinking about nuclear weapons is sort of like looking directly at the sun: If you do it for more than a split second, you go blind. Or insane.
Our government is now contemplating such a ne plus ultra of idiocy that it's enough to make one yearn for the dear, departed days of MAD (mutual assured destruction). MAD was such a sane policy.
"I have to be direct, I am dissatisfied with both the quantity and quality of information coming out of the administration as it relates to homeland security," said Oklahoma Republican Rep. Ernest Istook, who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on Treasury and General Government, which controls the White House's budget.
"I hope that the lack of necessary information does not compel us to withhold funds for the priorities established by the president," he said.
Obey added, "No information, no money."

Thursday, March 14

March 14, 2002 - National Missile Defense: Blowing The Whistle On Bad Science So the question becomes: Why is the national missile shield as seemingly unstoppable as the missiles it purports to destroy? And what will it take for this story to penetrate Washington's defenses against critical information affecting national policy?
"The government's system of checks and balances has badly failed at every level throughout this process," missile defense expert and MIT professor Ted Postol told me. "What it's going to take now is stirring the public imagination and outrage." Perhaps it will take dramatizing Nira Schwartz's story and turning her into the Erin Brockovich of the nuclear arms debate.
‘Blinded by the Right’ I fell easily under the spell of my surrogate father figures, as though anyone who gave me attention could dictate my beliefs. From them I found the moral and ideological clarity, the critical affirmation and acceptance, and the firm sense of who I was that my fragile psyche yearned for. I slapped the label of the entire conservative movement on my lapel, gave it authority over my being, without even understanding what it meant. Stumbling into a fight over Grenada at the age of twenty, I came out of it playing the role of right-wing ideologue — right-wing robot, really — to the hilt. I jumped on a conservative trajectory that would cause me to live my life along a certain but wrong course for the next fifteen years.
Mocking Due Process When I asked why he had lied to the police, he said, "For money." He said Thomas Edwards had told him he would be paid if he told cops he saw Lorenzo Branch going into Mr. Josephs' apartment. He said he spoke to detectives on a number of occasions and each time he was given $20, which he spent on crack.
Neither addict could keep the story straight. In an extraordinary courtroom development, prosecutors pulled Mr. Edwards from the witness stand in the middle of his testimony when he offered information that hurt the prosecution's case. Mr. Edwards testified that he had seen Lamont Branch and two other men go into Mr. Josephs' apartment, and that one of the other men — not Mr. Branch — had a gun.

Wednesday, March 13

Congressional report says Clinton abused power by giving pardons Former President Clinton abused his power by giving pardons to controversial figures like Marc Rich based on the recommendations of relatives and confidants, a congressional report says.
Star Telegram | 03/10/2002 | How long for the same old stories? As a rare case of principled resignation reminded us two weeks ago, people's lives are in fact at stake. Eric Schaeffer, head of the EPA's Regulatory Enforcement, quit in protest over the Bush administration's efforts to undermine tough legal action against dozens of aging, coal-fired power plants that are in violation of federal law.
The EPA believes that 10,000 deaths a year are caused by the millions of tons of pollution by these plants. When 3,000 Americans were killed by terrorists, we promptly went to war - one that is now spreading around the globe - in order to get the killers. When American industry kills Americans, this administration accommodates them endlessly.
INS chagrined after visas are sent to dead hijackers Washington -- Six months after Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center, an embarrassed Immigration and Naturalization Service acknowledged that it had notified a flight school this week that the two had been approved for student visas to study there.

Thursday, March 7

Bending For Steel ( Proving himself less principled than Bill Clinton regarding the free-trade principles that are indispensable to world prosperity and comity, President Bush has done what Clinton refused to do. In the name of providing "breathing space" for the U.S. steel industry, which has been on the respirator of protection for decades, Bush has cooked up an unpalatable confection of tariffs and import quotas that mock his free-trade rhetoric.
Fox raises bar for inanity In a brilliant send-up of how guests and experts are chosen for news shows, Richmond said yes, and his interview was taped three days later. The story aired March 1, with Richmond playing straight guy. Apparently nobody at Fox News bothered to look at, or the Poundstone story (did they just Google her name or something?) because the satire was pretty damn clear. The Web site's headline: "Poundstone granted 'supervised' child abuse."
As Richmond wrote in a follow-up on the site, Fox News was "completely unaware of the fact" that he "represented an entertainment Web zine comprised entirely of satire and spoof. . . . All anyone at the network would have had to do is actually have read the first paragraph of the (Web site piece about Poundstone) to discover it was 100 percent crap."

Wednesday, March 6

One Toke Over the Harvard Line? ( • Here's a vignette we're dying to see on the ABC broadcast of Sunday's Ford's Theatre Presidential Gala: When Stevie Wonder sat down at the keyboard center stage, President Bush in the front row got very excited. He smiled and started waving at Wonder, who understandably did not respond. After a moment Bush realized his mistake and slowly dropped the errant hand back to his lap. "I know I shouldn't have," a witness told us yesterday, "but I started laughing."

Tuesday, March 5

The Angola Mirror It's a useful caution these days, as foreign leaders jostle to whisper sweet nothings about terrorism in our ear. The Philippines has cleverly wangled $100 million from us by exaggerating the links between a gang of kidnappers and Al Qaeda. In the Horn of Africa, every faction insists that its enemies are tied to Al Qaeda and must be destroyed.
Likewise, every commander in Afghanistan these days seems to regard himself as a secular humanist. Then there are the Iraqi opposition leaders, who spend much more time pushing our buttons than bothering with Saddam Hussein.

Friday, March 1

An update on the Ken Lay/Lincoln Bedroom myth (2/28)
By Brendan Nyhan
The myth that Ken Lay stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom of the Clinton White House may be on its way to extinction. The Washington Times' correction last Friday has been followed by a number of others.
Here's a full chronology of the progression of the myth - note that the Los Angeles Daily News and Denver Post have published letters to the editor promoting this falsehood since my piece was published:
-Matt Drudge, Drudge Report (1/11)
-Stephen J. Hedges, Jeff Zeleny and Frank James, Chicago Tribune (1/13)
-Judy Keen, USA Today (1/14)
-Fred Barnes, Fox News's "Special Report with Brit Hume" (1/14)
-James Lileks, Newhouse News Service (1/15)
-Bill Sammon, White House Weekly (1/15)
-Daily Oklahoman letter to the editor (1/22)
-Modesto Bee letter to the editor (1/25)
-Fresno Bee letter to the editor (1/26)
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch letter to the editor (1/26)
-Houston Chronicle letter to the editor (2/2)
-Arkansas Democrat-Gazette letter to the editor (2/8)
-Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) letter to the editor (2/9)
-Los Angeles Daily News letter to the editor (2/13)
-Alex Castellanos, CNN's "Crossfire" (2/14)
-Fred Barnes, Fox News's "Special Report with Brit Hume" (2/14)
-The Oregonian (Portland) letter to the editor (2/15)
-Castellanos, ABC's "This Week" (2/17)
-Patrice Hill, Washington Times (2/
EPA official who quit gets Senate’s attention March 1 — The resignation of the top rules enforcer at the Environmental Protection Agency has caught the attention of Senate Democrats, who plan to use his criticism of the White House at a hearing next Thursday. In his resignation letter, Eric Schaeffer said the EPA is “fighting a White House that seems determined to weaken the rules we are trying to enforce.” The EPA denied the allegations, saying the Bush administration was committed to enforcing environmental laws
OPEN SEASON / Tabloid queens will put up their dukes Here are the credentials for the featured combatants: In 1994 Harding was involved in a bungled plot hatched by her ex-husband to disable her Olympics rival Nancy Kerrigan with a club. Banished from amateur skating, Harding pleaded guilty to conspiracy. As a teenager, Fisher had an affair with auto mechanic Joey Buttafuoco, then shot and wounded his wife in 1992. Fisher served almost seven years in prison.
"This is legitimate," Mike Darnell, Fox's alternative-programming chief, told USA Today. "We'll have a real referee, a real doctor, real announcers. To all the world, this will be a real boxing match."
First the Olympics, and now this. What a winter.
State's untapped pot of gold Sumner speculated that as much as a 1,000 percent tax on marijuana might be levied to keep retail costs sufficiently high and thus deter use by minors.
"It makes more sense to tax things than to ban them," he said. "You generate revenue and you give people an incentive to behave the way we want."
Sheri Larsen, a spokeswoman for the California Board of Equalization, said that if an 8 percent sales tax were levied on a $4 billion marijuana crop, the state would take in an extra $317 million a year.
But that number is only a fraction of the revenue that would be expected if Sumner is correct about a whopping dope tax. The 87-cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes, for example, produced $1.1 billion in revenue for California last year.
Democrats Starting to Fault President on the War's Future WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 — In the first strong Democratic criticism of the Bush administration's war on terrorism, the Senate majority leader and two powerful committee chairman are questioning whether the White House is expanding its military efforts without a clear explanation of its aims.
"I don't think it would do anybody any good to second-guess what has been done to date," Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader, told reporters today. "I think it has been successful. I've said that on many, many occasions. But I think the jury's still out about future success."
Two Thousand Acres Last week Interior Secretary Gale Norton repeated the standard response to concerns about extensive oil development in one of America's last wild places: "The impact will be limited to just 2,000 out of 1.9 million acres of the refuge." That number comes from the House version of the Bush-Cheney energy plan, which promises that "surface acreage covered by production and support facilities" will not exceed 2,000 acres. It's a reassuring picture: a tiny enclave of development, practically lost in the Arctic vastness.
But that picture is a fraud. Development won't be limited to a small enclave: according to the U.S. Geological Survey, oil in ANWR is scattered in many separate pools, so drilling rigs would be spread all across the coastal plain. The roads linking those rigs aren't part of the 2,000 acres: they're not "production and support facilities." And "surface acreage covered" is very narrowly defined: if a pipeline snakes across the terrain on a series of posts, only the ground on which those posts rest counts; bare ground under the pipeline isn't considered "covered."