2008 - %3, April

Freedom's Watch Broke Law, Dems Tell FEC

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 9:15 AM PDT

Conservative advocacy group Freedom's Watch illegally ran advertising in coordination with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Democratic officials charge in a lawsuit they plan to file today with the Federal Election Commission, the Washington Post reports:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the fundraising and campaign arm for House Democrats, alleges that the script for a television ad purchased by Freedom's Watch, an independent conservative political committee, can be traced to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Federal election laws prohibit the independent group from coordinating its efforts with the NRCC, the campaign arm of House Republicans, or any political candidate.
The Democratic officials said the advertising script carried an electronic identifier that shows it originated in the Republican committee.
"Freedom's Watch is coming to the NRCC's rescue. The problem is that they're doing it illegally," said DCCC Executive Director Brian Wolff, adding that the group's "own document clearly shows that the script of their ad came from the NRCC." ...

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Tehran "Anti-Vice" Chief Caught With Six Naked Prostitutes

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 8:36 AM PDT

Move over Eliot Spitzer... and let us now puzzle over yet another humiliation of a public figure: General Reza Zarei, chief of police in Tehran and (until now) the figurehead for the Iranian regime's crackdown on feminine "immodesty." Zarei was reportedly arrested in an underground brothel in the company of six naked prostitutes. For now, the fallen police chief sits in an Iranian jail, pending further investigation. It's unclear how his arrest might impact Tehran's enforcement of its anti-vice laws, which forbid women from showing their hair or wearing make-up in public and have subjected young people to floggings for the crime of dancing together at house parties. One can only wonder at how the clerics might punish General Zarei.

Obama Wins the Springsteen Primary

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 8:18 AM PDT

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Just as Senator Barack Obama's connection to working-class voters is being questioned (unfairly) by Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain (two true populists, right?), the Bard of the Blue-collar America, Bruce Springsteen, has endorsed Barack Obama, declaring that Obama "speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music." Prior to the start of the Democratic primaries, Springsteen was not jazzed by anyone in the Democratic race, according to a source quite close to him. But the Jersey boy has now jumped in with a full power chord, at an important moment in the race. It's doubtful his endorsement--or that of any singer, celebrity, artist, writer or intellectual--can shift large number of voters. But it's sure better to have the Boss on your side that against you.

From Bruce Springsteen's website:

Dear Friends and Fans:

Like most of you, I've been following the campaign and I have now seen and heard enough to know where I stand. Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest.

So Why Are Pennsylvanians Bitter?

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 8:05 AM PDT

The good folks at 23/6 ("Some of the news, most of the time") have a couple ideas.

bitter-pennsylvanians.jpg

More of 23/6's stuff can be found here.

McCain's Frightening Foreign Policy Vision From 2000

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 7:00 AM PDT

At least Bush claimed that he wanted a "humble" foreign policy back in 2000. Apparently John McCain was gung-ho about adventures like the Iraq War and willing to say so publicly. Here's McCain in a February 2000 Republican debate:

"I'd institute a policy that I call 'rogue state rollback,'" said McCain. "I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically- elected governments."
"As long as Saddam Hussein is in power," he added, "I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security."

He would "arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow" governments that we don't like? That's a recipe for chaos, and you shouldn't need the Iraq War to tell you so. In my view, the fact that McCain was ever this much of an out-and-out hawk is more scandalous than the fact that he slept with a lobbyist or that he was involved in the Keating Five. Holding positions this extreme and this dangerous ought to be considered worse than ethical or moral transgressions. After all, sleeping with a lobbyist doesn't get people killed.

McCain is now denying that this was his position. Specifically, his recent statement on "rogue state rollback" was: "I wasn't saying that we should go around and declare war." If you look at his quote, though, it sounds pretty much like he was suggesting we go around and declare war. Or at least we train and equip people who declare war for us.

Lindsey Graham Goes a Different Kind of Tax Cut Crazy

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 6:35 AM PDT

mccain-graham250x200.jpg Even though Lindsey Graham has been replaced by Joe Lieberman as John McCain's number one sidekick, he's still spinning away for the Arizona Senator.

John McCain commemorated tax day by delivering a speech that boosted his promises of tax cuts to absurd levels. Lindsey Graham commemorated it by writing an op-ed in the Greenville News that claimed Americans' uneasiness with the economy stems from their worry that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy might not be made permanent by Congress. Seriously.

Here's Graham:

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Music: Bill Cosby, Hip-Hop Producer?

| Tue Apr. 15, 2008 9:43 PM PDT

mojo-photo-puddingcosby.jpgOkay, I hope this isn't a hoax too: Legendary comedian/actor and outspoken curmudgeon Bill Cosby is listed as co-writer and executive producer on a new hip-hop album project called Cosby Narratives Vol. 1: State of Emergency. The album was described in a statement as "an unflinching look at life in the 21st century, but without the profanity, misogyny, violence and braggadocio." Hmm, maybe he means, "life in a utopian space colony in the year 2525?"

The album actually has a somewhat intriguing pedigree, since Cosby will be collaborating with Bill "Spaceman" Patterson, who worked on "The Cosby Show," and Patterson's musical partner Ced-Gee, co-founder of The Ultramagnetic MCs. Hey, isn't that the group that the Prodigy sampled for their infamous 1997 hit, "Smack My Bitch Up"? (Link to video not safe for work). Why yes it is.

Contrary to some reports, Cosby will not rap on the album.

Cosby's been infamous for years, more so after his 2004 "Pound Cake Speech" which was, as Wikipedia puts it, "highly critical of some members and subsets of the black community in the United States." Sorry, Bill; I probably won't be buying Cosby Narratives (expected to be released soon), but considering Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow… Right! basically shaped my entire sense of humor and was probably my #1 most listened-to album between the ages of 5 and 10, I'm letting this all slide.

Cosby pudding portrait used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user Rakka.

Some Corals Survived A-Bombs, Others Didn't

| Tue Apr. 15, 2008 5:17 PM PDT

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Fifty years ago the last atomic bomb test shook the Pacific's Bikini Atoll. Now corals are flourishing here again—though with 42 fewer species than prior to the bomb blasts. At least 28 of the missing corals appear to be genuine local extinctions, victims of the 23 bombs exploded at Bikini between 1946 and 1958. An international team has been surveying biodiversity at the atoll, including diving into the 1954 Bravo Crater, site of the most powerful American atomic bomb ever exploded (15 megatons, 1,000 times bigger than Hiroshima). The Bravo bomb vaporized three islands, raised water temperatures to 100,00 degrees F, shook islands 125 miles away and left a crater 1.25 miles wide and 240 feet deep.

The 1946 point of view.

Easy Desserts From the Pentagon?

| Tue Apr. 15, 2008 1:28 PM PDT

Tucked among the many U.S. Department of Defense emails in my inbox this week, nestled, in fact, between "Border Concerns" and "Coalition Forces Detain 12 Suspects in Iraq Operations," was the rather more provocative subject line: "Easy Desserts."

Yes, the Pentagon Channel has a cooking show. It's called "The Grill Sergeants."

Personally I was unable to get beyond "Turkey Time," but perhaps you'll have more luck than I did with "Flourless Chocolate Cake, Pumpkin Pie Cake, and Caramelized Apples."

Anyway, check it out. It's wistful and telling and weird in all the ways you don't typically hear when you hear about the war.

Plus, where else can you learn how to cook the world's largest turkey from a chef who says, "Can I get a military cadence?" to a uniformed band self-styled "The Tastebuds?"

John McCain Has Gone Tax Cut Crazy

| Tue Apr. 15, 2008 12:44 PM PDT

TNR examines John McCain's speech on the economy today and finds that with his new proposals (a massive corporate tax cut and a doubling of the dependent exemption), he is hitting new heights in tax cut fetishizing.

McCain is now up to about $280 billion per year in tax cuts, far more than the Bush tax cuts in their first 10 years. (His campaign gets a lower number only by claiming that his corporate expensing proposal costs nothing over the long term. This is not a serious argument. A CBO report signed by McCain advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin shows otherwise.) Against these $280 billion in costs, McCain has still proposed to cut not a single specific discretionary program and not a single specific tax expenditure. His ballyhooed plan to hike prescription drug premiums will save $1 billion per year, again according to CBO. Just $279 billion to go.

Remember, John McCain is pushing all these tax cuts while also proposing an open-ended commitment to the Iraq War. How he plans on doing that without exploding the deficit is anybody's guess.