Blogs

Zogby Poll Shows Americans Totally Fed Up With Congress

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 2:43 PM EDT

The United States Congress has again received a whopping 11% approval rating from participants in the most recent Zogby poll--the same score as last month. At the same time, George W. Bush received a 24% approval rating. Zogby participants expressed concern about American economic and foreign policy, and only 26% said that the country is headed in the right direction. At the same time, 45% described their personal financial situations as good.

Among Democratic candidates for president, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's Zogby approval rating jumped 11 points, from 35% to 46%, while Sen. Barack Obama's numbers moved from 21% to 25%. Among Republicans, Rudy Giulliani took a 28% lead, while Sen. John McCain's numbers fell from 13% to 8%. 51% of participants said that former vice president Al Gore should not enter the presidential race.

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The New Face of Christian Legal Education

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 2:10 PM EDT

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Regent Law, the Christian law school founded by Pat Robertson, is moving forward with disciplinary action against student Adam Key (left, showing off his "Due Process" tattoo). Key ran afoul of school authorities after posting on his Facebook page a video of Robertson scratching his forehead with his middle finger. Regent has banned Key from campus and is forcing him to undergo a psychiatric exam by a doctor of the school's choosing.

The whole episode reflects the Religious Right's utter lack of a sense of humor. Key talked to Above the Law blogger David Lat yesterday about his recent suspension and his background (which includes a stint as a pro wrestler). Here's what Key had to say about Robertson and his pending psych exam:

"I will undergo this psychiatric exam after Regent forces Pat Robertson to undergo one. Truly, what's crazier... disagreeing with the administration, or hearing voices that tell you about hurricanes that don't happen, and the impending apocalypse?"

Clearly they're never going to let this kid loose on campus again...

Dick Cheney and Barack Obama Are Related

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 1:37 PM EDT

It's true. I didn't even need a joke in the headline, it sounds so absurd. But according to genealogical research Lynne Cheney did while writing her book, Barack Obama is the descendant of someone named Mareen Duvall, a French Huguenot. Duvall's son married the granddaughter of a Richard Cheney, a man who, seven to nine generations later, would see his family line produce the worst vice president in the history of the United States. Obama and Cheney are eighth cousins.

Say the cliche with me. Only in America.

CNN Idiocy Watch, Day 1757: Rubber Duckies of DEATH

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 1:01 PM EDT

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And I quote: "Still ahead here in the Situation Room: a chemical in lots of household products that could harm all of us. It could harm your reproductive system as well. One state is so worried it's issuing a sweeping new ban... Stay with us, you're in the Situation Room."

They played the story a full 28 minutes later.

A little more info from CNN's correspondent on the "deadly chemical":

"THE AGENTS ARE CALLED 'PHTHALATES,' WOLF... SOUNDS OBSCURE... BUT IT'S VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO HAVE COME IN CONTACT WITH THEM SOMETIME IN YOUR LIFE."

"THE QUESTION IS: ARE THEY AS DANGEROUS AS SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE?"

Apparently it's in rubber duckies. Unfortunately, by the time they played this Very Important Story (28 minutes after the teaser), thousands of Americans had died from a chemical in nail polish and rubber duckies. Tragic. Damn You, Wolf Blitzer! BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS.

Breaking News: Next on CNN—Could a major cable news company be responsible for the deaths of thousands of rubber-ducky-loving-toddlers? Find out right after these messages from our pharmaceutical-company sponsors! But don't go away—You could die!

This issue's "Practical Values" column has more on Phthalates.

There's also this:


Mukasey Is a Bore

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 12:47 PM EDT

Two hours in to the confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have pestered the former judge about everything from his view of the COPS program (Feinstein) to his stance on obscenity prosecutions (Orrin Hatch, of course). So far, Mukasey hasn't shown many signs of life. He looked as though he was barely tolerating Iowa senator Charles Grassley, who has shown a remarkable amount of concern about the False Claims Act.

It's hard to see how the committee will take a chunk out of this guy. The president couldn't have found a blander (and more humorless) nominee. If boring=competence, Mukasey shouldn't have any trouble getting confirmed.

TSA Falls Short, Foreign Repair Shops Ripe for Terrorist Sabotage

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 12:45 PM EDT

USA Today reports that neglect on behalf of the Transportation Security Administration has left airplanes that are serviced in foreign repair shops vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Almost four years ago, the TSA was mandated by Congress to write security regulations for these repair stations, but failed to do so. There is concern that, because many of these overseas hubs are not within the boundaries of secure airports, there is lack of oversight.

This is not the first controversy surrounding these stations. Mother Jones reported in our July/August 2006 issue, that, in 2005, due to a cash-strapped airline industry, airline maintenance was outsourced overseas and because simultaneously, the FAA faced a massive budget cut and began outsourcing its inspection—shaving its oversight crew by more than 250—airline travel took a safety hit. It was an accident (or quite a few) waiting to happen. Read the full article here.

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Larry Craig is a Friend of the Series of Tubes, Though He Says Otherwise

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 12:36 PM EDT

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Last night, Larry Craig and his wife sat down with Matt Lauer to discuss the senator's sex scandal. At one point, Lauer asked Craig if he knew the Minneapolis airport bathroom he was caught in is a hot spot for gay sex, a fact Craig would presumably find on the internet.

Craig responded, "Matt, you won't believe this. But I don't use the Internet. I don't have a computer at my desk. I've never used the Internet. It's just not what I do."

Huh. Is Craig really at Ted Stevens' level of online illiteracy? Thanks to the folks at the Washington Examiner, we know he's not.

According to them:

Craig is a member of the Congressional Internet Caucus.
  • He co-sponsored a bill designating June 2007 as National Internet Safety Month.
  • He was presented with the 2007 Internet Keep Safe Coalition Award.
  • On his Web site, he lists as a top accomplishment a Silver Mouse Award given to his site in 2003 and 2006 by the Congressional Management Foundation in 2003 and 2006.
  • When he endorsed Mitt Romney for president, he did so on YouTube.
  • Bush's Appointee for Head of Family Planning Hates Family Planning

    | Wed Oct. 17, 2007 12:11 PM EDT

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    The deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services has an important job. He or she oversees "HHS's $283 million reproductive-health program, a $30 million program that encourages abstinence among teenagers, and HHS's Office of Population Affairs, which funds birth control, pregnancy tests, counseling, and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV." So who better to run it than someone who once called contraceptives part of the "culture of death"?

    That delicious little nugget belongs to Susan Orr, former "senior director for marriage and family care" at the Family Research Council (full bio here) and Bush appointee for the deputy assistant secretary spot (on an acting basis of course, which is a sham).

    In another instance, Orr supported a Bush Administration proposal to stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees to cover a broad range of birth control. "We're quite pleased," said Orr, who would be perfect for this job in a bizarro universe, "because fertility is not a disease."

    And soon, having a kid will not be a choice. You'll have one, dammit! One sexual act equals one kid. That's the moral math in George W. Bush's America.

    Why Obama Struggles: Right Message, Wrong Time

    | Wed Oct. 17, 2007 11:56 AM EDT

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    The Washington Post runs a story this morning that echoes my thoughts on why Barack Obama has been unable to gain ground on Hillary Clinton.

    My thinking is this: Obama is preaching a truly admirable message of bipartisanship and a new politics, but he's preaching it when the Democrats neither want it nor need it.

    They don't want Obama's message because they've been bullied by the Bush Administration and the Republicans in Congress for almost seven years and want payback. They don't need Obama's message because the GOP has screwed everything up so badly the Democrats can win with a purely partisan approach. When fewer and fewer people identify with the Republican Party and more and more claim they trust the Democratic Party on important issues like the economy, the war, and health care, why reach across the aisle?

    There is a perception, borne out of Hillary Clinton's years of fighting tooth and nail with the GOP, that Clinton will kick ass when she's in office. And there's a perception, fostered by the Obama campaign, that Obama will eschew kicking ass in favor of bringing people together to renew America's politics.

    Every poll indicates Democrats, for the time being, prefer ass-kicking to bringing-together.

    Has Rock Lost Its Soul?

    | Tue Oct. 16, 2007 8:30 PM EDT

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    Photo collage by Adrian Roberts

    Sasha Frere-Jones opens up the, erm, "race box" in this week's New Yorker with an extended piece lamenting the racial "re-sorting" of popular music. It's a dangerous topic, and he's to be commended for bringing it up, but I'm not sure where it's all going. Frere-Jones wrote an eye-opening (if slightly more specific) essay on the same theme a few years back; called "When Blackface Has No Face," it seemed to lament the lack of, well, current white "minstrels" (his word), or white artists playing music from traditionally black sources. He gives the examples of DJ Shadow and Diplo, both of whom were known for DJ sets celebrating black (and brown) music but solo albums full of "white signifiers" like electric guitars, sluggish tempos and dramatic strings. The current NYer article brings up Arcade Fire and Wilco, but the message is the same: white people are making really, really white music these days. It's an interesting question: why aren't there more white people making hip-hop?