Jun. 14th, 2003

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You folks remember bombthrower Bob Ehrlich, the former Gingrich flunky who was inexplicably elected Governor in Maryland as a "moderate" after a wildly successful Republican keep-in-the-vote drive in african-american neighborhoods of Baltimore? Before that, he was mostly famous for circulating a letter for signatures in the dawning days of the Contract on America which would have taken away committee assignments from any Republican who voted against Newt.

This turned out not to be a major focus of his gubernatorial campaign.


Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced yesterday that the state would abandon rules that hold such poultry giants as Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms Inc. accountable for pollution caused by chicken waste flushing into the Chesapeake Bay.

Reversing an effort by the previous administration to force the companies to deal with the ecological damage that comes from their industry, Ehrlich said he would look for voluntary measures or economic incentives to stanch the flow of millions of pounds of nitrogen and phosphorous into the bay and the rivers and streams that feed it.

"I plan to develop innovative solutions that clean up the Chesapeake Bay while allowing chicken processors and farmers to earn a living without excessive government intrusion," Ehrlich (R) said in a statement.


And one of the things that Clinton asked Yeltsin to do was import more chicken from Arkansas, which, you know, the Tyson chicken company is ty--is--is one of Clinton's big backers. And this--this leaked out and the administration was embarrassed because this was a summit in terrorism, this was a--a summit with issues of great concern to the people of the world. We find out two leaders are getting together, plotting the strategies for their own re-election.

So it turns out the Russians have decided to ignore Clinton's request. This story is incredible because they say that they're going to increase tariffs. Now the--the Russian Federation ambassador, Yuli Vorontsov, said this. He said, The increase on tariffs is not really significant. Besides, the cost is on the shoulders of the Russian consumer, as usual. American poultry will still be competitive.' And then he went on to say that the reason they've got a problem with American chicken is because the processing methods are unsanitary.

Now, folks, do you understand this? We've got thi--i--if it weren't for their nuclear arsenal, Russia is a Third World nation. And their ambassador is telling our president that our chicken is unsanitary. They've got it wrong. The state of Arkansas is unsanitary because--because--we've all heard these stories. Well, it's true. You know. We heard the stories that the chicken processing plants down in Arkansas put chicken feces an--and waste and so forth in the rivers down there. But for--as far as we know, the chicken is perfectly OK. It's just the people in Arkansas who don't eat it, who have to live in those--near those rivers and so forth. But--so the Russians have sort of sandbagged President Clinton, and he can't do anything about it because that would then be to validate this whole meeting that they're trying to downplay and say it didn't happen...

Copyright 1996 Multimedia Entertainment, Inc.
April 4, 1996, Thursday 11:15 AM

As the good folks at Table Talk say, It's OK if you're a Republican.

Of course, I'll have to apologize abjectly when Rush excoriates Ehrlich.

Doesn't seem all that likely, though...
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In the "physician, heal thyself" department, please note the response of White House spokesman Ari Fleischer to a bulletin from North Korea that said: "The intention to build up a nuclear deterrent is not aimed to threaten and blackmail others, but to reduce conventional weapons. North Korea hopes to channel manpower resources and funds into economic construction and the betterment of people's living."

Fleischer piously replied: "Perhaps from this glimpse of North Korea acknowledging that its own people suffer as a result of North Korea's policies, it will help North Korea to now make the right decisions. And the right decisions are to put their people first, to feed their people, to get health care to their people."

Not only should feeding the people and getting health care to the people be more important than a nuclear program, it should even be more important than tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy. The United States spends $400 billion a year on the military -- that's 50.1 percent of all discretionary spending (non-discretionary includes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid). These priorities are not exactly setting a great example for North Korea.


Not to drop a name, but last week I was on a panel with Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, and I quoted the wonderful B. Rapoport of Waco, Tex., a great and very rich American. B. says: "Look, you make $50,000 a year and pay $8,000 in income taxes. That won't send you to the poorhouse, but it will sure as hell put a crimp in your budget. I make a million dollars a year. I pay $400,000 in income taxes. That leaves me $600,000 a year to live on. You gonna feel sorry for me? I'm still rich."

O'Reilly, perhaps not realizing I was quoting someone else, jumped in and said: "Yeah, but I don't want to take your money and give it to someone else. You should keep your money."

My tax money and Rapoport's tax money are not given to someone else. It goes back into this country, the one that allowed Rapoport to become rich in the first place. B. Rapoport knows perfectly well why he's successful. His dad was an immigrant peddler who never made more than $4,000 a year. B. went to the public schools of San Antonio back in the '20s and to the University of Texas in the '30s, where he attended graduate school in economics.

He believes in public education the way some people believe in religion. He supports a charter school and gives generously to the University of Texas. He's happy his taxes are used for social improvement -- he cannot stand rich people who dodge their taxes. How can you not be willing to create opportunities for young people in the country that gave you so many opportunities, he asks.

The preamble to the Constitution says this country was established "In order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity." Roads, schools, prisons, courthouses, bridges, dams and sewage systems are all necessary, as are health and education. That's why we pay taxes. We pay for after-school programs and sports leagues because kids need them and get into trouble without them.

The reason people hate paying taxes is because they know the system isn't fair. We don't have a progressive tax system in this country anymore, and we certainly don't have one in Texas. It is mind-boggling that the Republicans took away child tax credits for low-income working people. It was such a gross distortion in favor of the rich and against working people that it created an immediate backlash and forced the White House to ask Congress to reverse itself.

"Ain't going to happen," said Majority Leader Tom DeLay. He says the working poor will get their tax cut only if the rich get another round, as well. That's sick.

any questions?
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Several Democratic members of Congress yesterday called for the suspension of a bureaucratic adjustment that will likely increase college costs for millions of families.

Senator Jon Corzine, Democrat of New Jersey, introduced legislation to stop the new rules, while Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, promised to put forward a bill of his own. Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, said he would do the same if President Bush did not "stop this change dead in its tracks."

Late last month, the Education Department altered the formula used to determine how the vast majority of the nation's $90 billion in financial aid is distributed.

The changes, made within the department's statutory authority but without public input, are expected to reduce the government's contribution to higher education by hundreds of millions of dollars, tighten access to billions more in state and institutional grants and shrink the pool of students who qualify for federal awards.

what do we hear from Rep. Pelosi, the fire-breathing liberal who Rep. Harold Ford (D-Rep) warned us about during the process of choosing a minority leader?

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, said the department should explain "what these bureaucratic changes will mean to families trying to send their children to college," and that any flaws in the logic governing them must be "corrected."

Go ice down your fingers. I'll wait.

At the heart of the changes, which take effect in the fall of 2004, is a modification to the amount of state and local taxes that families can deduct when calculating how much discretionary income they have left over for college.

Even though state and local taxes have risen over the last year, the department cut the deduction this year, by more than half in some cases. On paper, at least, that leaves families with more money for tuition and other education expenses...

The best quote about this story wasn't actually in this article.

Apparently the Education Department made this administrative change because they wanted to adhere more closely to the Spirit of the law, that apparently _not_ being "wouldn't it be nice if we educated people who weren't rich?"


Members of Congress said today that a bill to add prescription drug benefits to Medicare would give employers a powerful incentive to curtail the drug coverage that they now provide to retired workers.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 37 percent of retired employees with employer-sponsored coverage would lose it under the bill, which the Senate Finance Committee approved on Thursday.

The bill is scheduled to reach the Senate floor next week, after winning the endorsement of the committee, 16 to 5.

"The legislation has tremendous momentum," Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the senior Democrat on the panel, said. "It's going to pass. It's going to be enacted. The president is going to sign it."

Mr. Baucus said that the 37 percent figure was shocking and that he and his colleagues would try to reduce it.

"Some senators," he said, "were a little surprised at the percentage of retirees that would be dropped from employer-sponsored coverage in the event this bill were to pass as written."

The director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, said the retirees who would lose coverage accounted for 11 percent of the 40 million Medicare beneficiaries.

Employers have been cutting retirees' health benefits, including medicines, because of soaring costs. Budget experts and members of Congress said employers would be tempted to drop drug coverage for two reasons. Under the Senate bill, they said, Medicare would offer outpatient drug benefits, so some employers might see less reason to do so. More significant, the critics said, is a provision that appears to penalize retirees who receive drug coverage from former employers.

Under the bill, Medicare would cover 90 percent of drug costs after a beneficiary had spent $3,700 "out of pocket," the amount needed, with the new Medicare coverage, to obtain $5,800 worth of medicine. But payments by an insurance plan or a former employer would not be included in that computation.

So a person with drug benefits under an employer's group health plan would find it difficult to qualify for the catastrophic coverage offered under the Senate bill.

Unions oppose that provision. Alan V. Reuther, legislative director of the United Automobile Workers, said that the bill "would make millions of retirees worse off by encouraging companies to drop their prescription drug coverage for senior citizens."

Drug benefits under the bill would be much less comprehensive than those provided by many private employers, Mr. Reuther said.


Like many school districts, Mamaroneck already is attacking drinking and drug use among younger students in several ways. The substance abuse prevention program DARE starts in elementary school. The issue is also covered in health education classes in middle school. And there are discussion groups for eighth graders.

An anonymous survey conducted last year at Hommocks Middle School showed that alcohol and marijuana use roughly doubles in seventh grade and doubles again in eighth grade.

Some context (last item).
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ed. note: Other than appalling taste in poetry, you mean? Full disclosure - Mr. Ginsburg said something rude about my grandfather's restaurant in the otherwise tastefully measured Howl, but I wasn't a big fan before I knew (or after I met him).

Since recapping his racist and homophobic rants in our premiere issue, we've learned that the ex-liberal (aka Michael Weiner) whose syndicated radio program The Savage Nation (aka Sieg Heil on the Dial) was scooped up by a desperate MSNBC was once a close friend and pen-pal of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. It took a search of the Howl author's collected letters at Stanford University to discover just how close:

March 8, 1970
Dear Allen:
After speaking to you on the phone about how nice the black-white thing is in mountain villages in Fiji, I walked downstairs to the school courtyard, where a little—known black brother looks at me, takes my hand gently, we do some old—world Lower East Side finger tricks, and he peacefully kisses the back of my hand — I do the same for his hand. I told him about our brief talk, and he says, "I must have felt the vibes."
Michael Weiner
Botany Dept.
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, HI

Now, the dope-smoking, boy-loving grand dame of '60s degeneracy didn't seem like the kind of riffraff a nationally renowned homophobic zealot would have on his buddy list. But we shouldn't have been so surprised. In Savage's thinly veiled confessional novel Vital Signs, the protagonist admits he is allured by "masculine beauty", saying, "I choose to override my desires for men when they swell in me, waiting out the passions like a storm, below decks. More intriguing is the reported existence of a picture of Savage and Ginsberg swimming naked together in Fiji." These days, of course, Savage is more prone to saying, "The gay and lesbian mafia wants our children!" Ah, the innocence of youth.

edit: from the always pertinent, except when he's im-, which is good too, supergee, in comments:

"At the risk of being accused of fruity tendencies, I have to say that the masculine body is much more attractive than the soft female body"--George Lincoln Rockwell

so maybe it's just a little orange-segment shaped wedge on Mr. Weiner's personal fascism venn diagram.

The question is, who other than the current incarnation of Mr. Weiner-Savage cares?

edit: I really should give some background on this too.

Here's why Mr. Savage is such a favorite of mine these days.

Neal Pollack, who I should have linked to in the earlier post and would have except that he's blocked for (you're going to love this, although possibly you can't appreciate it properly without having spent some time in my industry) "Tastelessness" on our network at work, is spearheading a day to to beat Mr. Savage up on our blogs.

Those of you who remember how much fun Mock the Cheneys day was (after they went after whitehouse.org) will, I'm sure, be lining up again. We need new people too.

A souvenir of Mock the Cheneys day

I hate to admit it, but she does have a certain bowery bar gamine charm this way.

I'm afraid I've been saving this stuff up all week to handle this weekend. I guess I'm leaving some stuff out.

Good catch...
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The nomination of William Pryor to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit should teach liberals once and for all never to underestimate George W. Bush's chutzpah. Just when it seemed the president couldn't possibly find any potential judges more right-wing than those he's already appointed, he outdid himself. "It's an extraordinary public record," Ralph Neas, president of the civil liberties watchdog group People for the American Way, says of Pryor. "Rarely do you see someone so bad on so many issues at a relatively young age."

Pryor, the 40-year-old attorney general of Alabama, holds far-right positions on women's rights, abortion, gay rights, the environment, criminal justice and the separation of church and state. Speaking at Pryor's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, "In a way, his views are an unfortunate stitching together of the worst parts of the most troubling judges we've seen thus far."

Because Bush nominated him on April 9, two and a half weeks into the war with Iraq, Pryor initially didn't receive as much scrutiny as judges like Priscilla Owen and Charles Pickering, both of whom the president renominated after a Democratic Senate rejected them. (Pickering is still awaiting a second hearing, while Owen is being filibustered by Senate Democrats).

Yet Pryor's rhetoric over the years is at least as extreme as that of former Senate Majority leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., who stepped down in December after he was criticized for comments widely deemed racist, and Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., whose anti-gay remarks in April created an uproar. And if his nomination succeeds, he'll have a lifetime spot on one of the 12 courts that make up the second-highest judicial authority in America.

Pryor calls Roe vs. Wade "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history" -- meaning, Schumer noted, that he considers it worse than such dark moments in U.S. judicial history as Plessy vs. Ferguson, the 1896 decision legitimizing segregation, or Dred Scott, the 1857 decision affirming that slaves were property...

Lisa has information on what you can do to try and stop this little oleaginous turd from deciding - well - anything.

Please go look, and then do something. (Read the whole thing - she's been talking about this for days).
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bad mommy, last night: We have lots of stuff to do around the house and the yard as soon as we get up.


bad mommy: I'll make you a deal, though - you pretend you're still asleep and I'll pretend to believe you.


She's (ahem) still asleep.

I, on the other hand, have had four hours of blissful waking peace.

This here is that dangerous combination of Clearly Not Right and Damn, it works!

As conflicted as I can bring myself to be. (She did need the sleep...)
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Making Light has a perfectly wonderful post about the Iraqi antiquities, which you must go read.

I have to quote this, though, because it's so damn felicitous:

Andrew Sullivan, a man who’s spending this decade pursuing the loss of the good of the intellect like a Boy Scout going after a merit badge.

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from the Salt Lake Tribune:

An independent group of scholars who warned that an upcoming Mel Gibson film contains anti-Semitic overtones has withdrawn its criticisms and agreed not to judge the film until its release next year.

Gibson, whose controversial film on the death of Jesus is in the editing stage, threatened to sue after a draft script for "The Passion" was leaked to the group of five Catholic and four Jewish scholars.

Gibson's $25 million film has already raised eyebrows for its violent depiction of the Crucifixion and because most of the dialogue is in Aramaic, without subtitles. The film is based on the New Testament Gospels and the writings of two mystic nuns.

The scholars warned that parts of the film would leave the "impression that the bloodthirsty, vengeful and money-hungry Jews simply had an implacable hatred of Jesus," according to a copy of the group's report that was obtained by The Jewish Week newspaper.

Jewish and Catholic leaders were concerned the film would revive old theologies that blamed Jews for the death of Jesus. The Catholic Church has spent the past 35 years trying to distance itself from teachings that fueled centuries of anti-Semitism.

Gibson, a devout Catholic, denounced the group's report. "To be certain, neither I nor my film are anti-Semitic," he said in a statement Friday. "Nor do I hate anybody -- certainly not the Jews."

As part of the settlement, the nine scholars agreed to return their copies of the script. Gibson's Icon production company also received an apology from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which distanced itself from the scholars.

um. OK. but what about this, from the undoubtedly conflicted NYPost?

Gibson, who does not act in the film, responded to the criticism with the threat of a lawsuit.

Gibson claimed in a letter last month to the Conference of Bishops - the Vatican's arm in this country - that the script was stolen.

Yesterday, after weeks of negotiation, a conference spokesman told me, his group had settled with Gibson.

Monsignor Francis Maniscalco released a statement in which the Catholic body distanced itself from its scholars - saying they had acted without the authorization of the Catholic Conference.

Gibson's spokesman, Alan Nierob, told me only, "There is no lawsuit," and did not comment further.

Well, gosh.

And while we're on the subject of non-denial denials (no, jackass, we know there's no lawsuit, they settled it. That was by way of being the subject of the question), there's this from the Hindustan Times:

"If the intense scrutiny during my 25 years in public life revealed I had ever persecuted or discriminated against anyone based on race or creed, I would be all too willing to make amends. But there is no such record," the actor's statement read. "Nor do I hate anybody - certainly not the Jews.

"They are my friends and associates, both in my work and social life," Gibson continued.

q. Are you a racist?

a. If you can't get anyone to go on the record, I must not be, keeping in mind that I have a ton of money and I like to sue people for saying true things that make me look bad.

also from the Hindustan Times piece:

Although Gibson and his production company hope to release the film next spring it has not yet found a distributor. Controversy over "The Passion" erupted in March after a profile of Gibson's father, Hutton Gibson, appeared in The New York Times Magazine. The profile said the actor's father had controversial traditionalist beliefs not condoned by the Roman Catholic Church and quoted the elder Gibson as denying the Holocaust took place. Some feared Gibson's film would reflect such beliefs.

Of his father:

Gibson's passionate defence of his film comes in the wake of a firestorm caused by his father, Hutton Gibson. In an interview with The New York Times, the 84-year-old said he did not believe the Holocaust ever took place.

Gibson senior - a former quiz show winner, Sydney radio broadcaster and resident of a small Victorian dairy town who now lives in Texas - believes the Holocaust was a fabrication because there were more Jews in Germany "after the war than before".

"Go ask an undertaker or the guy who operates the crematorium what it takes to get rid of a dead body," he said. "It takes one litre of petrol and 20 minutes. Now, six million?"

Joye Gibson, an American whom Hutton recently married, said: "There weren't even that many Jews in all of Europe."

In the interview, which was published in March, Hutton Gibson also rejected the notion that Osama bin Laden's terrorists perpetrated the September 11 attacks.

And he contended that Jews had conspired with Masons to reform the Catholic Church in the famous Vatican II of the 1960s, which ended Latin Masses and the notion of Jewish guilt in the crucifixion.

It is possible that they were caused to believe that Gibson's beliefs were similar to his father's since he's paid tens of millions of dollars to build a private church for the same deranged sect of pre-vatican two lunatics he and his father belong to in Malibu.

Membership is by invitation only.

At the Holy Family Church on a property north-west of Los Angeles, Gibson, his wife of 23 years, Robyn, and their children lead the congregation in a Latin Mass, which includes a sermon preaching the "evil" of "the modern church".

Gibson, who practises the traditional Catholic mores of no artificial contraception and no meat on Fridays, has described Pope John Paul II as "a wolf in sheep's clothing".

Fortunately, Gibson has the nuclear weapon of rhetorical denial on hand (no, not an expensive lawyer, sillyface) again from the Hindustan Times:

"[Jews] are my friends and associates, both in my work and social life," Gibson continued.

"Thankfully, treasured friendships forged over decades are not easily shaken by nasty innuendo.

Hey, give him credit for continence. He didn't say they were some of his best friends.
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