Bush DOJ Has Orders to Sic Dems

| Wed Feb. 7, 2007 2:50 PM PST

Not only has the Bush administration been purging out-of-favor U.S. attorneys across the nation, it has also been using its DOJ to investigate Democrats far more frequently than Republicans, according to TPMmuckraker. From 2001 to 2006, when Democrats made up just half of all elected officials (local and national) in the country, 79 percent of the DOJ's investigations targeted Dems. The data comes from a study by two retired professors, Dr. Donald C. Shields of University of Missouri-St. Louis and Dr. John F. Cragan of Illinois State University. "The chance of such a heavy Democratic-Republican imbalance occurring at random is 1 in 10,000," reported the study's authors.

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Speaking of Jews in China

| Wed Feb. 7, 2007 2:26 PM PST

China has a hot new class of business self-improvement books. One promises "The Eight Most Valuable Business Secrets of the Jewish" according to the Washington Post. Another tempts buyers with "The Legend of Jewish Wealth."

You'd think that the books would go on to offer Borat-style stereotypes of Jews. But they don't seem to. Yes, the wealthy Jew is itself a destructive stereotype, and the Chinese interest in Jews is a little creepy, to be sure. China, a country of 1.3 billion people, is home to just 10,000 Jews. A recent reality-style show filmed a Jewish couple in their home, interviewing them about what they ate and other fascinating topics.

But the Chinese seem to identify with Jews, or at least Jews as they imagine them, believing that both people share an entrepreneurial sprit, according to Zhou Guojian, deputy dean of the Center for Jewish Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

The books' authors, however, aren't Jewish, nor are they especially knowledgeable about Jews. In fact, when the Post reporters tried to track one down, they hit a wall. If this blogger's second-job as a writer of ESL materials to be sold in Korea is any guide, some poor blogger probably wrote the books only to have someone else's name slapped on them.

Biden Should Seek Treatment for His (Obvious!) Alcoholism

| Wed Feb. 7, 2007 1:24 PM PST

Mark Foley had e-sex with underage pages for years. Blame alcohol!

Mel Gibson went on a crazy misogynistic and anti-Semitic tirade when pulled over for drunk driving. Seek alcohol treatment, and some counseling from Jews!

Isaiah Washington of "Grey's Anatomy" called his co-star T.R. Knight a "faggot." Seek therapy!

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom banged his campaign manager's wife. Blame alcohol!

It's obvious, Joe. You have an alcohol problem. Seek therapy!

Hello Petroleum, Goodbye Forests, Species, Amtrak...

| Wed Feb. 7, 2007 1:13 PM PST

The President's $2.9 trillion budget includes nearly $500 million to fund a nuclear waste dump and $400 million fewer dollars for our poor (literally) national rail service, Amtrak. Oh, and he plans to sell off $800 million worth of National Forest land. More gory details here.

—Jen Phillips

Keeping the Candles Lit in Cuba

| Wed Feb. 7, 2007 12:57 PM PST

There's a really nice profile of the tiny Jewish community in Cuba—yes, Cuba—in the New York Times travel section. And, no, it's not tiny because Castro stifles the religion, it's tiny because most of the Jews left with their property at the outset of his regime.

The Times also ran a piece on the closing of the last temple in Tajikistan—and, among the many well-done TimesSelect-restricted articles on historic Jewish communities, a review of a museum exhibit of all that's left of China's Jewish community and a look at a Long Island community's attempt to preserve Yiddish.

Bush's Budget: Hello Petroleum, Goodbye Endangered Species, Clean Water, Amtrak...

| Wed Feb. 7, 2007 12:25 PM PST

Despite a seemingly robust support for alternative, environmentally-friendly fuels in his State of the Union address, President Bush is anything but green. The President's $2.9 trillion budget, submitted to Congress Monday, included the one-two punch of cutting conservation while increasing gas and coal-powered industries.

Here are just a few ways the President is trying "to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment."

Clean power:

  • $385 million for "clean" power derived from coal
  • Nearly $500 million for a nuclear waste dump
  • $114 million to expand the U.S.'s nuclear power facilities
  • $405 million for the U.S. to reprocess nuclear reactor fuel for sale to foreign nations
  • $5.8 million increase for the Bureau of Land Management's oil and gas operations
  • Doubles the capacity of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve over 20 years.
  • $400 million cut from Amtrak's passenger services
  • Conservation:

  • $44 million cut from clean water initiatives
  • $9 million decrease for the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences
  • $85 million cut from the Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • Proposes selling $800 million of National Forests
  • 950 million acres of public lands to be sold over 10 years
  • Wildlife:

  • $5.5 million cut from the endangered species recovery program
  • funding for private landowners to help conserve at-risk wildlife, cut entirely
  • Budget assumes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will be used for oil and gas drilling
  • National Wildlife Refuge System receives a small increase in funding, but still less than FY 2004 level
  • Bureau of Land Management's wildlife program, cut entirely
  • All this may sound dire, but not to worry. The President's budget also calls for a 10-year plan to get the National Parks rehabilitated in time for their 2016 centennial--by selling private companies the rights to name trails and facilities. An idea he cribbed from his buddy, Richard Pombo, who, after his November whuppin' is nonetheless probably quite pleased with this budget scenario.

    —Jen Phillips

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    Baghdad's Missing Billions Rediscovered

    | Wed Feb. 7, 2007 10:59 AM PST

    After former CPA head Paul Bremer got grilled by Henry Waxman yesterday, the press has rediscovered the story of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money that went missing during the heady days after the fall of Baghdad. In particular, it's glommed onto the nifty fact that the U.S. government shipped 363 tons of Benjamins (and maybe some Ulysseses, too) to Iraq—much of which was spread around like play money. In his defense, Bremer explained, "We were in the middle of a war, working in very difficult conditions, and we had to move quickly to get this Iraqi money working for the Iraqi people." Apparently democracy is a lot easier to export than standard accounting practices.

    The revealing tale of the cash airlift isn't new, however—we wrote about it in September 2005. It's good to see it being picked up again, though. And it gives me an excuse to post this great photo of CPA officials giddily posing with $2 million in cash, which was given to the security contractor Custer Battles, which was accused ofdefrauding the government.

    Update: Post amended in light of Custer Battles' fraud conviction being overturned later today.

    Vote: Best/Worst Senators

    | Wed Feb. 7, 2007 7:51 AM PST

    There are several reasons to take a look at (and maybe even vote in) this "Best Senator" poll.

    First, you can see where your senators rank.

    Second, you can actually see what these people look like. (The answer, of course: white, male.)

    Third, there's the fact that of the first 49 senators ranked by "integrity, honor, dignity and character" only one is a Republican: Chuck Hagel.

    Fourth, there's the fact that of all the Democrats, the only two to not crack the top 50 are Hillary Clinton and Mary Landrieu, of Katrina fame.

    Fifth, there's the parade of crooks and crazy men who do better than Joe Lieberman and John McCain, Nos. 98 and 99 respectively.

    Spotted on a now outdated Wonkette post.

    Oh No! Obama Quitting Smoking!

    | Wed Feb. 7, 2007 7:41 AM PST

    Word comes from the Chicago Tribune that Barack Obama is… quitting smoking! (Can't resist: "Up Next! Hillary Cuts Her Toenails!")

    The real issue is, what happens to Obama's smoking advantage?!? You know, the one that was ridiculously overblown, never actually existed, and was just a product of over-caffeinated political junkies looking for any angle at all to write a counter-intuitive story.

    DHS, Dysfunctional as Usual

    | Wed Feb. 7, 2007 7:30 AM PST

    With news that Dick Cheney's son-in-law is the primary culprit in a Department of Homeland Security effort to block any oversight, I thought I'd point you all to this chart we drew up last year. Follow the link and you'll find that many DHS workers are so unhappy with their jobs, they'd probably rather be working fast-food.