In a federal indictment, just handed down, Barry Bonds has been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for denying that he knowingly took illegal steroids. Surprising? Not really. Revelatory? Perhaps not, but for the media mayhem that will inevitably unfold in the latest act of this beleaguered play.

You won't hear much new, or different. Bonds will be torn apart, his records questioned, his career asterixed. He faces up to 30 years if convicted. But lest you miss this on the ESPN or CNN crawl: in all of Barry's years in Major League Baseball, he's never tested positive for steroids. And even this indictment fails to directly charge him with taking the drugs; the evidence that links Bonds to illegal drugs is a doping calendar seized from the home of his former trainer (who was just released from prison today).

Plenty of ballplayers have tested positive recently, some of them playing the very same season. San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman was suspended at the beginning of last season, and he made the Pro Bowl. And as the testing system has ramped up, dozens of minor and major league players have tested positive, and though they've all been fined and suspended, none have lost more than Bonds has.

It's easy to see why he's so vilified:

When I read this very well-documented story in the Lone Star Times about the $500 donation to Ron Paul from well-known white supremacist Don Black, I didn't really blame Paul for taking the money. After all, it's hard to screen out every kook in advance. I assumed Paul would immediately return the money (or donate it to a group like the Holocaust Museum), prevent a link on Black's Neo-Nazi website, Stormfront, from connecting to the campaign's donation page, and announce these moves on the official Ron Paul website. I assumed wrong.

Five days after the Lone Star Times story appeared, Paul spokesman Jesse Benton told the paper he was still unsure whether the campaign would return Black's money. "At this time, I cannot say that we will be rejecting Mr. Black's contribution," he said, "but I will bring the matter to the attention of our campaign director again, and expect some sort of decision to be made in coming days." Would the campaign at least block fundraising links from Stormfront's IP address? Again, Benton said, he'd have to bring up the idea with the campaign director.

Since then, more than two weeks have passed without an update from the Paul campaign, so I sent Benton and email today asking what the campaign manager had decided. Would Paul be returning Black's money and blocking further donations from Stormfront? A few minutes later he wrote back, and this is what he said:

(Continue reading after the jump)

bag-xray.jpgA GAO report released today shows that current TSA restrictions on liquids and gels are just shy of completely ineffective in preventing a terrorist attack.

Really? You don't say.

Earlier this year undercover GAO agents (as opposed to those who run around wearing uniforms and nametags) tested 21 airports nationwide, and managed to get liquids and detonators that can be combined to create IEDs and (another acronym we don't all want to come to know), Improvised Incendiary Devices (IIDs), past airport screeners.

They were universally successful (and this frightening finding comes just before the busiest travel week of the year). In one case, a TSA agent didn't allow the GAO a "small, unlabeled bottle of medicated shampoo" because he said the bottle "could contain acid." The same TSAer permitted a prohibited, liquid IID component to sail through untouched.

cnncoal.jpgThink Progress points to the full-page ad in today's New York Times stating that tonight's Democratic presidential debate on CNN is sponsored by the "clean coal" industry. Wow. Aren't euphemisms fun? Sort of the magical realism of the political world. According to Think Progress, the coal industry's "clean" agenda would have us:

• Expand coal production by using government-funded technology to convert coal to vehicle fuels, thereby producing twice as much global warming pollution as gas production, and consuming huge amounts of water to boot. • Crank out as many new power plants as possible before limits on greenhouse gas pollution take effect. Nearly 150 coal-fired power plants are already on the drawing board. • Delay and weaken any limits on CO2 pollution, even though scientists tell us we need a 20% reduction by 2020, and an 80% reduction in 2050 [actually, we need more than that and faster too]. • Convince Congress to give coalies free "allowances" to emit greenhouse gases rather than force coal-fired plants to buy them in cap-and-trade auctions.

The coal industry's sponsorship of tonight's CNN debate in Las Vegas appears to be an attempt to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who has stood firmly against the construction of three proposed major coal-fired power plants in his home state: REID: "I want to help Nevada become the national leader in renewable energy and energy independence. We have vast wind, solar and geothermal resources and we're wasting energy every day we're not tapping into those free, clean, and reliable power sources… As proposed, these coal plants are old news, the way of the increasingly distant past."

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

The nation's bishops held a press conference yesterday to warn that the choices Roman Catholic voters make at the ballot box may put their eternal salvation at risk. In large part, they appeared to be talking about the candidates' stances on abortion. The take-home message: Vote for a Democrat, go to Hell. (more after the jump)

plants_for_hillary.jpg Earlier, David asked how nasty tonight's Democratic debate is going to get. Judging from the Edwards campaign's actions this afternoon, reeeeeally nasty.

Via an email to reporters, Edwards just announced the group "Plants for Hillary," parodying groups like Veterans for Hillary and African-American Women for Hillary and taking the frontrunner to task for the planted question scandal that isn't really a scandal.

There's even a website,, which the campaign calls the "one-stop shop for all Americans interested in growing the Hillary plant movement." It's pretty crude, kind of mean, and a just a little bit funny.

The campaign calls it a "grassroots" website. I think it puts a new spin on slinging mud.

blogsforbush.jpg Once upon a time, writing a right-wing website called Blogs for Bush must have been easy. But now, when the president has lost the confidence of the American people, alienated even his far-right base over the issue of immigration, shepherded a war in disastrous fashion, and failed to achieve a single significant and lasting domestic policy victory... what to do?

Bail on Bush, of course. Blogs for Bush is changing their name to Blogs for Victory. They're saying that it is in anticipation of Bush's departure from the White House, but let's not miss the PR aspect. Check out this very suspicious correlation:


How nasty will it get in Vegas?

Tonight, the Democrats will gather in family-friendly Sin City for yet another debate, and as they prep for this face-off, John Edwards and Barack Obama must be calculating how far to go in assailing front-runner Hillary Clinton. And she must be wondering how sharp to be in return.

The latest Iowa poll from The New York Times and CBS News depicts the race in the Hawkeye State as virtually a three-way tie (Clinton, 25 percent; Edwards, 23 percent, and Obama, 22 percent). Such results presumably scare the Clinton machine. If she falls in Iowa, so too does her campaign's double-sided argument of inevitability and electability. These poll numbers are obvious encouragement for the two men with the best shot of toppling her--and a sign that their recent moves might be working.

In the past week, both Obama and Edwards have intensified their attacks on Clinton. At the Jefferson Jackson Day dinner in Iowa on Saturday night, Obama, in a fiery speech, declared:

The same old Washington textbook campaigns just won't do in this election. That's why not answering questions 'cause we are afraid our answers won't be popular just won't do. That's why telling the American people what we think they want to hear instead of telling the American people what they need to hear just won't do. Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we're worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won't do. If we are really serious about winning this election Democrats, we can't live in fear of losing it....

I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over....They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House....

I am sick and tired of Democrats thinking that the only way to look tough on national security is by talking, and acting, and voting like George Bush Republicans. When I am this party's nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran....I don't want to spend the next year or the next four years re-fighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s.

Whether or not the tired Iowan Democrats realized it, this was all an attack on HRC the hawkish, triangulating, hyperpartisan kingpin of conventional, lobbyist-fueled Washington politics--though Obama never mentioned her by name. He was offering a contrast deeply unkind to Clinton without coming across as a slasher.

The decoding of the human genome continues apace and those of us who have latched on to the '99% meme' (e.g. "99% of our DNA is the same so we all live in a yellow submarine of bio-racial sameness la la la," etc.) have to batten down the hatches for the continuing unprocessed info-glut from the science types even as the political types sharpen their anti-intellectual cultural swords.

Here's the good news: "When scientists first decoded the human genome in 2000, they were quick to portray it as proof of humankind's remarkable similarity. The DNA of any two people, they emphasized, is at least 99 percent identical."

Here's the bad: "But new research is exploring the remaining fraction to explain differences between people of different continental origins."

The hawks in charge of health care reform? Say it ain't so. Okay, it ain't so ... yet. But in this month's Health Affairs, Leonard Schaeffer warns that if we don't act soon--the "we" in this case being the U.S. medical-industrial complex--the national security guys and budget minders will be the ones rakishly calling the shots on our healthcare future. Why, they wouldn't dare! Well, actually they would, because in case you haven't noticed, healthcare spending is turning into the new global warming. (more after the jump)