Saturday, March 25, 2006

I Weep for USA

The president admits to violating federal law to conduct unconstitutional surveillance on Americans, and the opposition party is worried that calling for his impeachment is a "distraction" from "more important" issues.

A Zogby International poll showed that 51 percent of respondents agreed that Bush should be impeached if he lied about Iraq, a far greater percentage than believed President Bill Clinton should be impeached during the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal.


Democrats remain far from unified. Prominent party leaders -- and a large majority of those in Congress -- distance themselves from the effort. They say the very word is a distraction, that talk of impeachment and censure reflect the polarization of politics. Activists spend too many hours dialing Democratic politicians and angrily demanding impeachment votes, they say.


"Impeachment is an outlet for anger and frustration, which I share, but politics ain't therapy," said Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts liberal who declined to sign the Conyers resolution. "Bush would much rather debate impeachment than the disastrous war in Iraq."

Frank ignores the fact that arguing impeachment would be arguing Iraq. Part of the charge against Mr. Bush is that he lied the US into the war in Iraq, which war has proven a disaster. It's all connected, baby. You can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Shortchanging New York City's Children

If New York's Governor Pataki tries to run for president on some sort of successful-republican-in-a-democrat-state positioning, I'll be sure to remind everyone about how he sat around and did nothing after a court told him to increase funding for New York City's schools.

An appeals court ruled yesterday that New York City schools were being shortchanged by at least $4.7 billion annually in state aid, adding more firepower to the city's plea for more education money as lawmakers try to wrap up work on a state budget.

But in its ruling, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court said that only the governor and the Legislature, not the courts, could determine the exact amount of education aid.

The ruling is the latest twist in a more-than-decade-long court battle over state aid for New York City schools. More than two years ago, the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, ruled that students in New York City were being denied a sound basic education and ordered the Legislature and the governor to address the problem. They did not.

In its 3 to 2 decision, the Appellate Division ordered the Legislature to consider a plan to direct between $4.7 billion and $5.63 billion to New York City schools — more than either the governor, the Senate or the Assembly have put forward in their plans.

"This directive does not merely urge the governor and the Legislature to consider taking action," Justice John T. Buckley wrote in the majority decision. "They are directed to take action.

The matter for them to consider is whether $4.7 billion, or $5.63 billion, or some amount in between, is the minimum additional annual funding to be appropriated for the city schools."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Negro Talking to Himself

For nothing more than shock value, CNBC recently interviewed lunatic Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, during which he indicated that the ideal punishment for sexual predators is throwing them in a prison and making them "listen to a Negro talking to himself."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fun Is Against the Law!!

I wish I lived in a state where there's no real crime to prosecute...

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday.

The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication, said the commission's Carolyn Beck.

Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkenness, Beck said.

The goal, she said, was to detain drunks before they leave a bar and go do something dangerous like drive a car.

People leave private homes drunk, too. Will the TABC start knocking on doors and forcing drunk people to stay in their friends' homes under threat of arrest? If they are really worried about drunk drivers, they should wait by cars parked near the bars and advise people who are intoxicated not to get behind the wheel.

Mississippi Outlaws Sex Toys -- There is a landmark legal battle of constitutional proportions being fought down in Mississippi. It involves fundamental rights protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, not to mention the rights of certain small business owners to satisfy their customers. This week, another court refused to recognize Mississippians’ right to find companionship for 29.99 and so a law outlawing the sale of sex toys will stand.

“A person commits the offense of distributing unlawful sexual devices when he knowingly sells, advertises, publishes or exhibits to any person any three-dimensional device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs or offers to do so or possesses such devices with the intent to do so.”

I can't even begin to understand what this law is all about. Other than that there are a disproportionate number of people in Mississippi with sticks up their rectums who think pleasure is a sin.

Three More Years of This

Mr. Bush's press conference yesterday was an utter mess. One can't summarize it. One can't excerpt the highlights (or lowlights). You have to read about it here. Then remember that this guy is president until January of 2009.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

In for the long haul, baby!


President Bush said Tuesday the decision about when to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq will fall to future presidents and Iraqi leaders, suggesting that U.S. involvement will continue at least through 2008.

Making Progress

George W. Bush tells us that progress is being made in Iraq. How much more progress can the country stand?

BAGDHAD, Iraq, March 21 -- In a bold raid at daybreak, a band of at least 100 insurgents stormed a police station in the town of Muqdadiya northeast of Baghdad today, killing at least 18 police officers, wounding four others and freeing all of the 33 prisoners being held in the station, officials in the Interior Ministry said.

The insurgents shelled the police station with mortar fire before attacking with rifle-propelled grenades, hand grenades and machine guns, the officials said. Reports of the number of insurgents killed or captured varied widely, with the Interior Ministry saying only one was killed and the American military putting the number at five.

The attackers destroyed about 20 police vehicles and set fire to the police station and a nearby courthouse before escaping, the Iraqi officials said. An Iraqi army unit that tried to reach the scene to support the police during the attack was disabled by a roadside bomb as the convoy passed through a city gate.

American ground forces and two American OH-58A Kiowa helicopters rushed to the scene in support of Iraqi troops, said Sgt. Doug Anderson, a military spokesman. The helicopters came under small-arms fire and one soldier was wounded, he said. The helicopters both landed safely.


The Iraqi police found nine bodies in Baghdad on Monday, each handcuffed and blindfolded with gunshots to the head, in the latest indication of a wave of sectarian vengeance sweeping the capital.


Police investigators in Salahaddin Province have accused American troops of executing 11 civilians, including several children, during a raid last Wednesday on a house in Ishaqi, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said Monday. According to the investigators, the Americans had lined up the civilians and shot them, then killed livestock and destroyed the house, the official said.


In Baghdad, an improvised bomb exploded Monday under a vehicle carrying commandos from the Interior Ministry and several detainees, killing three of the commandos and three detainees in the Karrada neighborhood, and wounding two commandos and a detainee, a ministry official reported.


Also on Monday, a bomb exploded inside a coffee shop in a Sunni district of Baghdad, killing 3 people and wounding 22, the police said. A bomb also exploded under a bus parked outside a restaurant in eastern Baghdad, killing 4 people and wounding 10.

The police in Kirkuk found the bodies of two Iraqi soldiers who had been kidnapped two days before. The victims had been stabbed to death, the police said.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cheney Moves the Goalposts

In his mind, it's not even about Iraq, and it's not about whether the troops can leave this year. No, son -- it's much bigger than that:

On CBS News' "Face the Nation," Mr. Cheney sought to place the war in a broader context. "It's not just about Iraq, it's not about just today's situation in Iraq," he said. "It's about where we're going to be 10 years from now in the Middle East and whether or not there's going to be hope and the development of the governments that are responsive to the will of the people, that are not a threat to anyone, that are not safe havens for terror or manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction."
Everyone who thought on March 19, 2003 that the US was embarking on a 10-year plan to democratize the Middle East raise your hands.


New York Times tells of a raft of new studies showing that things are even worse for inner-city black men than has been widely portrayed.

Many of the new studies go beyond the traditional approaches to looking at the plight of black men, especially when it comes to determining the scope of joblessness. For example, official unemployment rates can be misleading because they do not include those not seeking work or incarcerated.

"If you look at the numbers, the 1990's was a bad decade for young black men, even though it had the best labor market in 30 years," said Harry J. Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University and co-author, with Peter Edelman and Paul Offner, of "Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men" (Urban Institute Press, 2006).

In response to the worsening situation for young black men, a growing number of programs are placing as much importance on teaching life skills — like parenting, conflict resolution and character building — as they are on teaching job skills.


Terrible schools, absent parents, racism, the decline in blue collar jobs and a subculture that glorifies swagger over work have all been cited as causes of the deepening ruin of black youths. Scholars — and the young men themselves — agree that all of these issues must be addressed.

Joseph T. Jones, director of the fatherhood and work skills center here, puts the breakdown of families at the core.

"Many of these men grew up fatherless, and they never had good role models," said Mr. Jones, who overcame addiction and prison time. "No one around them knows how to navigate the mainstream society."

I'm with Jones. When whole neighborhoods of black men essentially abondon their children, those kids -- especially the males -- grow up with no sense of personally or communal responsibility. Key to solving this will be getting into the collective psyche of the subculture, understanding the benefits and gratifications that motivate this kind of behavior, and understanding why those benefits either don't exist or are not motivational for whites and Hispanics of similar economic stations.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Iraq Civil War: It's Official

Former prime minister says so:

LONDON -- Iraq is in the middle of a civil war, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said in a TV interview aired Sunday. His comments were immediately rejected by Britain's defense secretary.

Allawi told the British Broadcasting Corp. there was no other way to describe the increasing violence across the country.

As does Republican Senator Chuck Hagel:

"I think the former Prime Minister is correct. I think we've had a low grade civil war going on in Iraq for the last six months maybe the last year-our own generals have told me that privately George, so that's a fact."

Happy Operation Iraqi Freedom Day!

A look at three years in Iraq: