Nick Baumann

Nick Baumann

Senior Editor

Nick is based in our DC bureau, where he covers national politics and civil liberties issues. Nick has also written for The Economist, The Atlantic, the Washington Monthly, and Commonweal. Email tips and insights to nbaumann [at] motherjones [dot] com. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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House Dems Propose New Ethics Office, But Reform Groups Say "Not Good Enough"

| Wed Dec. 19, 2007 4:00 PM EST

A task force appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved a step closer today to creating an Office of Congressional Ethics by approving a report calling for such an office. (Only the four Democrats on the bipartisan panel voted for the proposal.) And a resolution creating this sort of office was scheduled to be filed today, CQ Politics reports. But the proposal, which would establish an investigative office without the power to issue subpoenas, is being attacked as toothless. In a quickly issued press release, four good-government groups--Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters, and Public Citizen--declared, "Without subpoena power or access to subpoena power, the Office can be ignored in its efforts to interview individuals and obtain documents that may be central to the ethics matter at hand."

Public Citizen et. al. are pulling for an amendment that would grant the new office subpoena power. And that's going to be tough fight. After all, the GOP members of the task force refused to endorse even a weak version of the office. And the Democrats have not been wildly enthusiastic about this endeavor. The task force's report was originally due May 1. The task force was only eight months late. The Democrats, now in power, do not seem eager to push reform with bite.

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The Music We Play for Terrorists (and Dictators)

| Wed Dec. 19, 2007 1:34 PM EST

From Newsweek, via Matthew Yglesias:

In addition to waterboarding, Zubaydah was subjected to sleep deprivation and bombarded with blaring rock music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One agent was so offended he threatened to arrest the CIA interrogators, according to two former government officials directly familiar with the dispute.

This is unfortunate news for the Chili Peppers. But it does bring to mind another musical attack: the U.S. "Rock 'n' Roll assault" on Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega in 1990. When Noriega was holed up in the papal embassy in Panama City, the U.S. blasted music on enormous speakers as part of an attempt to flush him out. Because of the Freedom of Information Act, the most important details of this operation are now declassified: We know what was played during those fateful days. Some highlights after the jump.

Sexual Hypocrisy Complaint: "Fox News Porn"

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 10:33 AM EST

Robert Greenwald, the man behind the film "Outfoxed," has produced a montage of some of the sexually explicit footage that Fox News has shown while promoting a "family values" agenda:

If you didn't know that Fox News uses sex to get you to keep watching, you haven't been paying attention. I'm reminded of a great Slate slide show by Jack Shafer about "TV's Aryan Sisterhood." The last slide is a discussion of "what people inside the industry call 'Fox lips.'":

They are worn by Fox's Laurie Dhue, Fox's Gretchen Carlson, and MSNBC's Rita Cosby, three top blondes. Achieved in the makeup room in a procedure that sounds one step this side of cosmetic surgery, I'm told that powder, pencil, and paint can turn even the weakest mouth into a juicy vagina dentata.

Now that's family values.

Via Larry Lessig.

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