Blogs

Missing Link Never Lost

| Fri Feb. 29, 2008 2:11 AM EST

493px-Horseevolution.png At least not since 1861, when the first Archaeopteryx fossil bridging birds and dinosaurs was discovered. Creationists have got it wrong (again), according to a new piece in New Scientist. Archaeopteryx rose from German limestones only 2 years after Darwin published The Origin of Species, wherein he predicted that so-called missing-links would be found. And they were. And they are, writes Donald Prothero:

In the 1870s the iconic sequence of fossil horses was documented. By the time of Darwin's death in 1882 there were numerous fossils and fossil sequences showing evolutionary change, especially among invertebrates. Evidence of evolution in the fossil record has vastly increased since then. Yet the idea still persists that the fossil record is too patchy to provide good evidence of evolution. One reason for this is the influence of creationism. Foremost among their tactics is to distort or ignore the evidence for evolution; a favourite lie is "there are no transitional fossils".

In fact transitions are everywhere: the emergence of vertebrates from echinoderms (sea urchins, starfish & kin); the "fishibian" sequence (pdf) whereby fish crawled ashore; the transition from synapsids to mammals; plus sequences showing how giraffes got their long necks, seals returned to the sea; and the hippolike transition that returned manatees and their kin back to the ocean… The list is growing, deepening, and, well, evolving.

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If Obama Is a Woman, and I Vote For Clinton, Am I a Man?

| Thu Feb. 28, 2008 7:41 PM EST

One would think Maureen Dowd had cornered the market on silly-beyond-belief gendered nonsense about Sens. Clinton and Obama. One would be wrong; Newsweek wants to vie for that crown:

Comment Trolls Hit the Ahmadineblog

| Thu Feb. 28, 2008 6:27 PM EST

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Like many a personal blog, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "Personal memos" page has gradually lost steam since its debut in 2006. In 2007 the Iranian president posted just three times, down from 10 posts the previous year, and he has repeatedly apologized for his tardiness in responding to readers' letters (he says he has just 15 minutes per week of blogging time).

But at this point, besides a neat feature that allows readers to choose from five background colors, the most interesting thing about the Ahmadineblog is the comments section. Comments are apparently not screened, and, somewhat surprisingly given the president's infamous unfriendliness to dissenters, a few caustic attacks have been allowed to stand.

After the jump, a sample of comments (preceded by country of origin):

Is Collecting Records Stupid?

| Thu Feb. 28, 2008 6:19 PM EST

mojo-photo-beatles.jpgVia Uncut comes news that an exceedingly rare copy of the Beatles' 1968 "White Album" is set for auction this week, and is likely to bring bids of up to £5000 ($10,000). The record has a serial number of 00000007 (kind of like Mr. Burns' Social Security number) and since it's rumored that the first ten copies of the album were all given to band members, that would make this "the lowest numbered original mono copy" that has ever been up for auction. Is this silly, or a justifiable appreciation of a landmark work of art?

Pelosi Throws Down Gauntlet on Contempt

| Thu Feb. 28, 2008 5:24 PM EST

Today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a major step forward on contempt. In a letter to Jeffrey Taylor, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Pelosi certified the subpoena breeches by Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten:

The undersigned, The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, pursuant to the attached House Resolution 979, One Hundred Tenth Congress, hereby certifies to you the failure and refusal of Harriet Miers, former White House Counsel, to appear, testify, and furnish certain documents in compliance with a subpoena before a duly constituted subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. The undersigned further certifies to you the failure and refusal of Joshua Bolten, White House Chief of Staff, to furnish certain documents in the custody of the White House in compliance with a subpoena before said committee. These failures and refusals are fully shown by the certified copy of the House Report 110-423 of said committee which is also hereto attached.

Clinton Campaign Hits Fundraising Peak

| Thu Feb. 28, 2008 4:31 PM EST

According to a conference call held this afternoon, the Clinton campaign has bested its January fundraising haul of $14 million (a record for the campaign up to that point) with a stunning February fundraising haul of $35 million.

The pace of $1 million a day is roughly matches Obama's pace from January. We have yet to see Obama's February numbers.

The Clinton campaign is really hitting its stride in the money department. Campaign Chairman Terry Mcauliffe said on the call that their internet fundraising exploded when the campaign announced that Clinton was loaning herself $5 million, and that the excitement online has continued since.

This continues a pattern we've seen emerge this primary season: every time a candidate loses an important primary, their low-value online fundraising shoots up the next day. I guess it's time for a new maxim. When it comes to presidential fundraising, nothing succeeds like failure.

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John McCain: Bad for Children?

| Thu Feb. 28, 2008 2:17 PM EST

The Children's Defense Fund recently rated the members of the Senate by their performance on ten votes that are relevant to the nation's children. The votes were:

1. Increase minimum wage (H.R. 2)
2. Increase funding for children with disabilities (S. Con. Res. 21)
3. Protect children from unsafe medications (S. 1082)
4. 2008 Budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 21)
5. SCHIP Reauthorization (H.R. 976)
6. College Cost Reduction and Access Act (H.R. 2669)
7. SCHIP (H.R. 976 - motion to concur)
8. DREAM Act (S. 2205)
9. Funding child health and education (H.R. 3043)
10. Improving Head Start programs (H.R. 1429)

The lowest-scoring Senator, and the only Senator under 20 percent, was John McCain. (Sorry, I mean John Sidney McCain.) He scored so low because he constantly misses important votes. In fact, he's missed more votes in the Senate than anyone else, save the man who suffered a brain hemorrhage.

Look, all of the presidential candidates have missed something like 30-40 percent of their recent Senate votes (Hillary Clinton deserves credit for having missed only 28 percent). But McCain is in a category by himself: he's missed 57 percent. You can argue that he has neglected the nation's children, but it is more accurate to say he has neglected the nation's business altogether.

PS — This isn't a new problem for McCain. In spring 2007, he went five straight weeks without voting.

(H/T Think Progress)

Knives Come Out on the Clinton Campaign

| Thu Feb. 28, 2008 2:04 PM EST

Yikes. Judging from the New York Observer the last few days, it's safe to say that things are going to get ugly if the Clinton campaign goes into a death spiral in the next few weeks. For a preview of the anonymous jabs that Clinton insiders will likely take at their leadership, see this article on Mark Penn. The more courageous critics, who are willing to go on the record, will likely be like Leon Panetta — one step removed from the campaign and secure in their careers. Here are Leon's thoughts.

And while we're on the topic of news articles that are rough on the candidates, take a look at George Will's devastating take on John McCain from today's WaPo. No liberal could say it better.

Bush's Newest Secret: Who's Funding His Library?

| Thu Feb. 28, 2008 12:38 PM EST

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At a White House press conference on Thursday morning, George W. Bush was a bit too cute when it came to an important matter: the funding of his presidential library.

News reports have noted that the library, to be set up at Southern Methodist University, will cost more than $200 million. The question is, who will pay for it? The tabs for presidential libraries are not covered by the taxpayers. They are picked up by nonprofit foundations, and these foundations have no obligation to disclose their sources of money. Bill Clinton has refused to say who is funding his library through the William J. Clinton Foundation, though the Washington Post reported that the royal family of Saudi Arabia contributed $10 million to the Little Rock facility.

It is troubling when the spouse of a presidential candidate receives millions of dollars secretly from one or more overseas sources. But what's more problematic is the prospect of a sitting president obtaining foreign cash for a pet project and not disclosing it. (The Saudis reportedly also gave the presidential library of the first President Bush millions of dollars. After being generous to George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, it's unlikely they will stiff the younger Bush)

GOP: "We're Subverting the Constitution, Can't We At Least Get Paid?"

| Thu Feb. 28, 2008 11:47 AM EST

capitol_hill_phone.gif Love this story from Roll Call (sub. required). Apparently, members of the GOP are angry because the telecom companies they are trying to protect with immunity in the FISA fight aren't rewarding them for their efforts with increased donations.

"It's quite discouraging," said one GOP leadership aide, referring to the disparity in giving from the telecommunications industry in light of the FISA debate, but also the broader lack of support for Republicans from the business community in general.
"These companies just won't do anything," the aide said. "Even when you have the Democrats working against their bottom line."
...Another leadership aide concurred, arguing that business groups vowed to hold Republicans' feet to the fire when they were in the majority while the Democratic leadership seems to be getting a free ride.
"They're funding the campaigns of people who want to put them out of business," the aide said, adding that business groups often rationalize their giving because they think Democrats will be willing to work with them.

Quit yer bellyaching. If you actually believe the telecom companies should not be held culpable for enabling the federal government's warrantless wiretapping program, then you shouldn't expect cash payments in return. Or was this whole thing about money all along?