Molly Ivins, on congressional reform:
Tom DeLay gets indicted, and all the Republicans can think of is a $20 gift ban. Forget the people talking about "lobby reform." The lobby does not need to be reformed, the Congress needs to be reformed. This is about congressional corruption, and it is not limited to the surface stuff like taking free meals, hotels and trips. This is about corruption that bites deep into the process of making laws in the public interest. The root of the rot is money (surprise!), and the only way to get control of the money is through public campaign financing.
You don't ask the local wolf pack to reform sheep-herding.
Josh Marshall poses this astute question:
Isn't offshoring port management and security sort of like offshoring the shore?
In its efforts to starve the Federal government out of existence, Bush cut $28 million—and 32 jobs—from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Then he mentioned, in his state of the union speech, that we need renewable energy. Forgetting for a moment that the pusher-in-chief suddenly got religion on our addiction to (foreign) oil, it's still kind of embarrassing that he cut our renewable energy budget at the same time. Or, more to the point for these clowns, embarrassing that they got caught doing it.
So the 32 got their jobs back today:
Two weeks ago, the lab workers, including eight researchers, were laid off at the lab because of a $28 million budget shortfall. Then, over the weekend, at the direction of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, $5 million was transferred back to the lab to get the workers back on the job.
Lab officials are ecstatic about getting the positions back, although they say the remaining $23 million shortfall has forced delays in research subcontracted to universities and companies. Still, it was an untimely issue for the president, who flew to Colorado to push the energy initiatives he announced in his State of the Union address.
Quel faux pas!
Some items in the news today that probably should go without comment:
...even if she doesn't need men. In her column today (sub.req.) she pulls no punches with two men no one needs:
As the story of the weekend's bizarre hunting accident is wrenched out of the White House, the picture isn't pretty: With American soldiers dying in Iraq, Five-Deferment Dick "I Had Other Priorities in the 60's Than Military Service" Cheney gets his macho kicks gunning down little birds and the occasional old man while W. rides his bike, blissfully oblivious to any collateral damage. Shouldn't these guys work on weekends until we figure out how to fix Iraq, New Orleans, Medicare and gas prices?
The Ohio Democratic Party has honked off Paul Hackett, because they believe another Ohio representative has a better chance of getting elected to the Senate this fall:
"It boils down to who we think can pull the most votes in November against [incumbent GOP Senator Mike] DeWine," said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. "And in Ohio, Brown's name is golden. It's just that simple."
They're nuts. And now we've lost exactly the kind of person we need in the party. And we look like idiots.
Actually, the ODP look like idiots, but Harry Ried and the rest of our party didn't come out too well in this one, either. Unless there's something I'm missing about Hackett, he's exactly the kind of person we want running for Senate in Ohio.
Here's Hackett's side of it.
Vice President Cheney has been cited for not having a hunting stamp required for non-residents to shoot birds in Texas.
One assumes he didn't have the proper license to shoot people, either, but that bit is still under investigation.
Also of interest: The Cheney supporter and fund-raiser who owned the property he was hunting on, Karen Armstrong, got a call from Karl Rove less than two hours after the accident:
"Chief of Staff Andy Card called the president around 7:30 p.m. to inform him that there was a hunting accident," a statement released today by the White House said. "He did not know the vice president was involved at that time. Subsequent to the call, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove spoke with Mrs. Armstrong. He then called the president shortly before 8 p.m. to update him and let him know the vice president had accidentally shot Mr. Whittington."
If Card didn't know the Vice President was involved, why bother to inform the President? Who else was there? Or is Armstrong that big a contributor?
The day after that conversation, she spoke to the press. Josh Marshall found an older news item showing her father got Rove his first job, as well.
So I guess it's just a family affair.
Let's review what's going on here. Cheney shot another hunter, which is on its face his fault. The other guy was behind him—behind him—meaning Cheney spun almost all the way around before firing. Now the guy is just leaving intensive care with doctors saying they'll just leave some of the bird shot in his body because it's in too deep. And Cheney and Armstrong are blaming the victim.
It's never their fault, is it?
Maybe we should stop thinking of these people as adults. They're really 10 years old.
Josh Marshall wonders about Dick Cheney's hunting accident Saturday:
At a minimum it seems a tad ungentlemanly to put out word through your media operation that the guy you just shot was at fault for getting shot.
But I don't know. Tom Lehrer wrote a song about it many years ago:
I always will remember,
'Twas a year ago November,
I went out to hunt some deer
On a mornin' bright and clear.
I went and shot the maximum the game laws would allow,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.
Anyway, this flap about whether the guy Cheney shot was to blame or not obscures discussion of the truly culpable party. I mean, who gave that man a gun in the first place?
The Washington Post has more.
Washington today is getting its biggest snowstorm in three years:
A major snow storm pounded the Washington region overnight and this morning, dumping 20 inches of heavy wet snow in some locations and 8 or 9 inches elsewhere, causing power outages for nearly 200,000 consumers and disrupting travel by road, air and Metrorail.
And in a later story:
The snow swept in lazily yesterday afternoon and was expected to depart by midday today, giving residents ample time to dig out before the start of the workweek. Airlines canceled scores of flights. But schools and most workplaces were already closed, and it was too soon for most to make decisions for tomorrow.
As of 10 p.m. yesterday, reports to the National Weather Service ranged from four inches in Fairfax City to two inches at Camp Springs and less than an inch at Reagan National Airport. Most main roads glistened with moisture, but some were slush-streaked; medians were white.
I was actually in Washington for the 2003 storm. Not intentionally; I was on my way back to a client in Richmond, Va., from a party in New York and got stranded in DC for two days. This is partially because, at the time, the Commonwealth of Virginia (area: 110,771 km², 42,769 mi²) had almost exactly the same number of snowplows as the city of Chicago (area: 1,214 km², 469 mi²). And in 2003, Virginia got hit with 13 snowstorms to Chicago's two. This may prompt a longer entry on tax policy and the division of private and public responsibilities for snow removal, but not right now.
Anyway, here's what the city looked like on 17 February 2003, and what it will probably look like tomorrow:
Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn makes some good points about the Jyllands-Posten cartoons in his blog today:
[S]ome of the drawings make a point in exactly the same way that any good editorial cartoon makes a point, and they have a grown-up, even sophisticated purpose: To challenge those who use intimidation to block free expression and those who find in their religious texts justification for mass murder. Specifically, Jyllands-Posten commissioned the cartoons to make a defiant statement after learning that several Danish artists had refused to illustrate a children's book about Muhammad because they feared reprisals from Muslims who consider images of their prophet blasphemous.
I think all civilized people agree that cartoons are not justification for murder. The reverse of that statement is also true: all people who agree that cartoons are justification for murder are not civilized.