Tuesday, March 08, 2005

While we wait...

..for Judge Joe Hart to issue his ruling in the TRMPAC case, let's catch up with what people are saying about "The D.A. and Tom DeLay".

The first block quote below is from the CBS transcript of last Sunday's 6o Minutes piece:

DeLay’s fellow Texan, Republican Rep. John Carter, says whether the law was broken depends on what your definition of “administrative” is. "No court has actually defined clearly what administrative purposes is," says Carter. 60 Minutes showed him TRMPAC's brochure with the statement of how the corporate funds would be spent. "Active candidate evaluation and recruitment. Message development. Market research and issue development," says Stahl. "I mean, how is that administrative?"

"Active candidate evaluation and recruitment, that’s a party of administrative procedure," says Carter. "That’s a party function."

"I thought administration was the running of the office. The Xerox machine. Paying bills," says Stahl.

"This is what the court has to rule on," says Carter. "If they find all these things are administrative, there’ll be no convictions in this case."
And here's Charlie Kuffner's take:

I'd like to propose an alternate explanation to the question of why no court has ever ruled on what constitutes an "administrative purpose". There's no case law because no one has ever come anywhere close to violating this century-old law before, and the reason for that is because anyone with two brain cells to rub together can plainly see that "administrative" means "non-political". When you have a law that is crystal clear, and that draws a very bright line, as this one does, it seems to me that you should expect there to be very little case law because there should be no confusion about what the law says. Nobody's been brazen enough before to claim that confusion was even a plausible explanation. If they get away with it now, then this law never actually meant anything.

Norm Ornstein's clever quip about Mother Teresa getting caught turning right on red in a state that doesn't allow it is spot on. This isn't an honest mistake, it isn't a testing of boundaries, and it isn't a case of the law not keeping up with new technologies. It's shameless pettifoggery, and it deserves to be slapped down.

It's this kind of duplicitous bullshit and slavish toadying performed by footlickers like Carter that makes me despise the Republican party. DeLay ought to be tarred and feathered, and all of his minions in the House know it, and they just don't have the stones to do so, much less speak up about it. They continue to vouch for him, cover for him, run interference, and punish those who dare stand up and speak out.

Tom DeLay is precisely the reason why the GOP invites comparisons to the Nazis.

If they know what's good for them, they'll get rid of him. I ain't counting on the Repubs to take out their own trash, though. And if Joe Hart doesn't oblige, and Ronnie Earl gets derailed, well, there's another opportunity for Richard Morrison in a bit less than two years.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Deal with it, you whiny xenophobes

I'm always bemused by xenophobic conservatives who, when confronted with negative opinions of the United States voiced by those living in other countries, sniff indignantly that they don't care what foreigners think.

Usually they resort to the childish name-calling ("Old Europe", "freedom fries") but mostly it's the hypocrisy exhibited that smells so ripe. These whiners are taking advantage of a technology -- the Web -- that makes the world smaller, yet they complain when they hear a differing viewpoint that might have originated in another language.

We should care what everyone thinks of each other when the world is this small -- and shrinking. And that's why sites like Watching America are so cool.

Watching America translates news stories about the United States from foreign newspaper Web sites into English, and also provides links to the native-language version. For example, a March 2 story that ran in Spain's El Mundo tells of that country's help in alerting the U.S. to al-Qaida plans to attack Grand Central Station in New York. You can read the English translation, the original Spanish version and a machine-translated rendition of El Mundo's home page.

I found WA at Bob Harris' blog, and his comments are worth repeating also:

To those of you not yet in the habit of reading the news as it's written overseas, the selections might seem biased, or even bluntly anti-American. Which, um, is the thing. After reading local papers during my own recent bounces around the planet, I can't say this is particularly unrepresentative. In any case, if you're interested, the bottom of the front page also provides a ton of links to the home pages of media from across the planet, so you can easily do your own digging and think for yourself. Bush really has alienated vast swaths of humanity, and the only place that isn't screamingly obvious is within these very borders.

It's a bit like having to live in an alcoholic household, really. Inside the house, Dad's really a good guy who just needs us to love him a little more and work a little harder and meanwhile the "good" kids are the ones enabling him and the ones who actually see that he's just a selfish f***ing drunk are very, very bad.

I suppose this puts people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh in the enabling-mother role, unable to see the faults in the man they love, no matter how obvious, and willing to lash out at anyone who asks why he's picking fights, not taking care of the house, and running up enormous debts.

Seems about right.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Not a tasseled Gucci loafer in the whole bunch

This is what lobbyists really look like.

That's nearly eight hundred volunteers, posing on the Capitol's south steps, after a hard day of advocating our government on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

People who took a day off to travel, people who took the time to visit their representatives to say, "Please don't abandon poor women."

See, it's not about 'killing babies'. It's not about abortion. It's not about ending pregnancy.

It's about preventing unwanted pregnancy, so that abortions become rarer.

Who's against that?

You see, Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured women in the United States, acoording to the August, 2004 US Census Bureau. Over 1.5 million Texas women have no health insurance. For them, the subsidized family planning visit is the only medical care they receive. These aren't abortion services, either: the program includes breast and cervical cancer screenings, diabetes, hypertension, anemia and sexually transmitted infections in addition to contraceptive methods and counseling.

And guess what? Family planning is extraordinarily cost-effective. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DHS) estimates that it costs less than $150 per client per year for preventive family planning, whereas it costs $8265 for the first year of a Medicaid pregnancy.

Every public dollar spent on preventive family planning saves $3 in Medicaid costs for prenatal and newborn care. And all of the women served by Texas' family planning program would have been eligible for Medicaid-paid prenatal care, delivery, and newborn care if they were to become pregnant.

And finally, the lobbyists pictured above represent a vast majority of Texans and their viewpoint. An August 2004 Scripps Howard Texas poll found that:

-- 80% of Texans favor increased funding for family planning, and

-- 79% of Texans agreed that Planned Parenthood should continue to provide family-planning services to low-income women.

So the next time you see someone screaming (or writing) "it's all about killing babies", remember these statistics.

And ask yourself: "Who's being extreme in their opinion, again?"

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Even Republicans agree: TRMPAC broke the law

A lot has been written about Tom DeLay and TRMPAC, so if you need backstory go Google around. There's a trial underway, and yesterday a well-connected GOP hack disclosed what most of us already knew:

A former chairman of the Federal Election Commission with deep Republican roots testified Tuesday that Texans for a Republican Majority violated state election laws by failing to report the corporate money it spent during the 2002 elections.

Five Democratic candidates who lost that year are suing Bill Ceverha, the political action committee's treasurer, accusing him of illegally using corporate money for political activity and then failing to report it.

Trevor Potter, a Washington lawyer with ties to former President Bush and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., appeared on behalf of the Democratic candidates.

Potter testified that Ceverha should have reported the corporate money spent on the 2002 elections and disputed the contention that state election laws are unconstitutional because they are vague.

He also said the political action committee's $190,000 contribution to the Republican National Committee raised questions about whether the corporate money was laundered into noncorporate donations for Texas candidates.

Go read the whole thing.

Here's your pop quiz. Which of the following statements is the most plausible?

(Merriam Webster defines 'plausible' as 1 : superficially fair, reasonable, or valuable but often specious; a plausible pretext 2 : superficially pleasing or persuasive; a swindler..., then a quack, then a smooth, plausible gentleman -- R. W. Emerson 3 : appearing worthy of belief; the argument was both powerful and plausible)

a) -- Tom DeLay and his cronies didn't know they were violating campaign finance law when they solicited contributions from corporations;

b) : Karl Rove was completely unaware of the gay hooker who for two years masqueraded as a journalist in the White House press room;

c) : Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; it was necessary and proper for the US to invade and disarm them (too easy; pick another. Really. This is the answer for those of my readers who get all of their news from FOX. You're smarter than this.) ; or

d) : the Attorney General of the United States is a firm, forceful advocate against the torture of 'enemy combatants' at Gauntanamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere.

Acknowledging that "all of the above" is the most correct answer, that's not one of your choices. Pick one and post it in Comments. If I get a statistically valid sample -- oh hell, even if I don't -- I'll post the results.