Blogs

Miers Had Hand in U.S. Attorney Firings

| Fri Feb. 16, 2007 8:08 PM EST

You might suspect that your firing was politically motivated when (1) it happens 2 days after you indict a high-ranking CIA official in a corruption scandal, or (2) your replacement is a buddy of Karl Rove's. Such are the stories of Carol Lam of San Diego and H.E. Cummings III of Arkansas. Turns out old Harry, as in Harriet "Good Enough for the Supreme Court but Not Good Enough to Insulate Bush, Inc. from the Dems" Miers, who was then counsel for the president, had a hand in replacing Cummings with Rove buddy J. Timothy Griffin. So, uh, which party is it again that opposes judicial activism?

Advertise on MotherJones.com

A Science PhD Who's Also a Creationist?

| Fri Feb. 16, 2007 5:51 PM EST

Science blogs have been buzzing about Marcus Ross, a geosciences PhD who's also a creationist. The controversy: Should the University of Rhode Island have granted Ross a PhD for his scientific work, even though he also believes the Bible's account of the earth's origin is literally true?

I say: sure.

The PhD process is not a referendum on your political, moral, religious beliefs -- it's a measure of your scientific work. And according to Ross' dissertation advisor, his scientific work on marine mammals (which didn't challenge the theory of evolution) was "impeccable." Assuming that's really the case, there's no reason to deny him a degree. Science isn't about individual researchers' personalities or their personal beliefs -- it's about the continual advancement of a body of knowledge through testing hypotheses and peer review. Like Scott Aaronson says, the great thing about science is that unlike religious fundamentalism, it doesn't "need loyalty oaths in order to function. We don't need to peer into people's souls to see if they truly believe."

Some are worried that he'll just take his PhD and use it as a credential to push intelligent design. (Actually, he's already doing that. Check out his DVD, put out by a Colorado Springs-based intelligent design organization.) But what one plans to do with a degree isn't the concern of a PhD committee. Plus, on a practical front, it looks like he's already limiting his message to fundamentalists -- his first gig as professor is at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, where job biology job announcements say: "compatibility with a young-earth creationist philosophy required."

RSC Backs Off On Attack Against Pelosi's Blog, Because, Well, They Were Wrong

| Fri Feb. 16, 2007 3:52 PM EST

Judging by the onslaught of comments on my previous post about Pelosi's blog and by this Fox News story, it looks like the RSC is backpedaling on their accusations that "The Gavel" infringes upon C-SPAN copyright laws. (YouTube videos of the network's chamber coverage were posted on the site.)

"Bruce Collins, the Corporate Vice President and General Counsel of C-SPAN, called post release and said that the information provided by the C-SPAN employee to the RSC was incorrect."

Indeed, like many had noted, the C-SPAN video posted on Pelosi's blog is public domain.

Migration Group Says 1 Million Iraqi Refugees Will Flee This Year

| Fri Feb. 16, 2007 3:30 PM EST

The International Organization for Migration, an inter-governmental group, reports today that they estimate 1 million Iraqis will flee the country in 2007. The situation in Iraq and for its citizens, a spokesperson for the group said, is not improving. This would be a drastic increase over the 2 million refugees who have fled over a four year period since the beginning of the war in 2003. 1.8 million more have fled their homes to safer areas within the country.

The concern is that four years after the U.S. invasion in March, this number should be getter smaller, not bigger. The Iraqi refugee situation, which some fear could be worse than Darfur, is grave, as I have written about before, because relocation options for refugees are limited. Jordan has closed its doors and increasingly, the country has become more and more unfriendly to Iraqis, especially Shiites. There is talk that Syria will close its borders soon as well.

The announcement, by IOM, comes in the wake of a decision by the Bush administration to allow 7,000 Iraqi refugees to seek asylum in the U.S. Under pressure from Syria, who blames "Washington for the 'humanitarian catastrophe' involving Iraqi refugees," the administration made this small concession. (The U.S. has only allowed 500 refugees into the country in the past four years.)

The Jordanian government is not impressed. A spokesperson for the government noted that 7,000 is just one percent of the number of refugees Jordan has accommodated. Syria has taken in 1 million. The United Nations excuses the U.S.'s "miserly" asylum quota by claiming that most refugees would like to return to Iraq and aren't interested in a home in the U.S. This is bunk on so many levels. Yes, of course, Iraqis would ultimately like to go home, but their native country is unsafe for them and so most of them are willing, I'm sure, to consider a second choice. And more importantly, many Iraqis do want asylum in the U.S. In fact, 100,000 Iraqi Christians are reported to have expressed interest in resettling in the U.S.

Southern Lawmakers Accuse Jews of Inventing Evolution, Big Bang, Heliocentrism

| Fri Feb. 16, 2007 3:00 PM EST

In the mid-1500's Copernicus developed the modern version of heliocentrism, the idea that the sun (and not the earth) is the center of the solar system. Well, these folks believe that Copernicus (or should I say, Coperniberg) and the continued insistence to this very day that the Earth is not a fixed object are part of a "centuries-old conspiracy" composed of Jewish physicists set on destroying Christianity.

Ancient India, Greece, and Persia all suspected that the Earth revolved around the sun, and not vice versa. Clearly, those places were overrun by Jews. Oy vey.

PS - I suppose there are worse things to be accused of than inventing some of science's most fundamental concepts. Like being insane, or worse yet, being dim enough to willingly select insane, bigoted people to govern you.

More on McCain and Romney, the Amazing Pandering Duo

| Fri Feb. 16, 2007 2:22 PM EST

Yesterday when I blogged about Mitt Romney following John McCain's lead on the speak-at-universities-run-by-right-wing-zealots front, I couldn't have known that Howard Fineman of Newsweek would be thinking along the same lines.

 fineman_serious.jpg Well, he is. In a "WEB-EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY" on Newsweek.com (for the record, everything I write in this space is a WEB-EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY) Fineman says that the three "kingmakers" of the right are Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson. Writes the very serious gentleman at right, "There are two main fault lines among them: the one in Virginia, which separates Falwell and Robertson; and the one that separates Dobson, in his mountain fastness of Colorado Springs, from those he genially regards as amateurs (everybody else)."

That means that after Papa McCain cozied up to Falwell and the good reverend made McCain his choice for the Repbulican nomination, Robertson had to go looking for another candidate to endorse (and influence, obviously). And that's why we have news that Romney will be delivering the next commencement address at Robertson's Regent University; the man who once said that George Bush would win in 2004 because the Lord had told him so has selected the First Mormon as his cause.

That leaves Dobson. He's already said "I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances" and, according to Fineman, has said the same about Giuliani. Fineman says that leaves Mike Huckabee, "the personable former Arkansas governor who also spent a good bit of his career as a Southern Baptist preacher."

I can just see the campaign slogans now. "Huckabee '08: Jesus Was a Dark Horse, Too!"

Wait, isn't that a country song?

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Al Gore Teams With Snoop Dogg to Fight Global Warming

| Fri Feb. 16, 2007 2:12 PM EST
goreguitar.gif

Al Gore's anti-global warming/entertainment juggernaut continues. Gore, in conjunction with the Microsoft Network, just announced Live Earth, a series of Live 8-style worldwide concerts on July 7. Proceeds will go to found "a new, multi-year global effort to combat the climate crisis." (Yeah, but only after Ticket Master gets its cut.) The lineup includes Pharrell, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Snoop Dogg, Lenny Kravitz, and Bon Jovi, to name a few. (No word on enviropunks Green Day yet, but Snow Patrol will also be rockin' to protect the glaciers.) And before you shell out for tix, get up to speed with our recent coverage of climate change.

Al Gore Teams With Snoop Dogg to Fight Global Warming

| Fri Feb. 16, 2007 2:09 PM EST
goreguitar.gif

Al Gore's anti-global warming/entertainment juggernaut continues. Gore, in conjunction with the Microsoft Network, just announced Live Earth, a series of Live 8-style worldwide concerts on July 7. Proceeds will go to found "a new, multi-year global effort to combat the climate crisis." (Yeah, but only after Ticket Master gets its cut.) The lineup includes Pharrell, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Snoop Dogg, Lenny Kravitz, and Bon Jovi, to name a few. (No word on enviropunks Green Day yet, but Snow Patrol will also be rockin' to protect the glaciers.) And before you shell out for tix, get up to speed with our recent coverage of climate change.

Philip Perry--Making Sure Our Chemical Faciliities Have No Security

| Fri Feb. 16, 2007 12:01 PM EST

Philip Perry, a former member of the powerful Latham and Watkins law firm in Washington, DC, left the law firm in 2000 to become part of the transition team of his father-in-law, Dick Cheney. He then became the third-highest ranking official in John Ashcroft's Justice Department before serving as General Counsel to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

When the post-September 11 Environmental Protection Agency made an attempt to regulate the security at chemical industry facilities, Perry used his position at the OMB to block the attempt. According to Art Levine, writing for Washington Monthly, Perry told executive branch officials, "If you send up this legislation, it will be dead on arrival on the Hill."

That same year, 2003, Perry returned to his practice at Latham and Watkins, which represented a major chemical industry trade group. After two years, however, Perry went to the Department of Homeland Security, where he became General Counsel. Once Perry joined DHS, the department granted itself the power to set aside state laws, which decreased the level of security required for chemical facilities. There is nothing in the Homeland Security law which grants the DHS such power.

One Congressional staff describes Perry as "an éminence grise. He's been pretty good at getting his fingerprints off of anything, but everyone in this field knows he's the one directing it." Levine calls Perry "a key player in the struggle to prevent the federal government from assuming any serious regulatory role in business, no matter what the cost."

In January, Perry announced his intention to leave DHS. During his tenure in the federal government, both at OMB and DHS, he has successfully blocked every attempt made by a federal agency and Congress to provide reasonable security to chemical plants, storage tanks and rail cars.

John Murtha's "Slow Bleed" Plan to End the Iraq War Explained

| Fri Feb. 16, 2007 10:54 AM EST

Details are creeping out about Congressman John Murtha's plan to put the clamps on the Iraq War (featured today on the Mother Jones News and Politics page), but I think many people lack a clear understanding of how the plan works.

The idea is to pass a series of small measures that curtail the president's ability to make war, while at the same time showing support the troops. This is seen as more likely to get through the House and Senate than a proposal to cut off funding for the war and is more politically advantageous for the Democrats.

Here's specifically what Murtha's plan would do:

(1) It would not allow American troops to deploy to Iraq unless they meet certain (very high) standards of manpower, equipment, and training. Murtha believes few of the units Bush intends to use for the surge would be able to meet his requirements.

(2) It will limit the length and number of deployments by soldiers in the American armed forces, thereby making it more difficult for the Pentagon to replace troops it rotates out of war zones.

(3) It will mandate that troops get a year off in between stints at the front lines.

(4) It would end the construction of enduring bases in Iraq.

(5) It would raze Abu Ghraib.

When taken together, the plan would limit the number of troops Bush has to work with, while blunting conservative criticism that the Democrats are anti-military or anti-troops.

The plan will be attached to an upcoming $93 billion supplemental spending bill that is needed to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan. Murtha controls the progress of that bill as chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee. In effect, if you aren't willing to support Murtha's plan, you are forced to vote against funding the troops. Not a good position for a Republican lawmaker to be in.

This should all come to a head in late February or early April March when the spending bill needs to be voted on, after which point it would head to the Senate. Anti-war groups with deep pockets are preparing to roll out ad campaigns in favor of the plan, and will specifically target Republican Senators vulnerable in the 2008 elections.