Posted by Brad @ 12:48 pm on February 19th 2010

A footnote passed on without comment

Crystal Mangum, the girl who accused the Duke Lacrosse team of raping her, was just arrested and charged with domestic assault, identity theft, communicating threats, damage to property, resisting an officer, and misdemeanor child abuse.

Posted by Brad @ 12:30 pm on February 19th 2010

Inappropriate Metaphors of the CPAC Conference Awards

Runner Up:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R., Minn.) says the GOP’s model for 2010 is . . . Elin Nordegren, Tiger Woods’s wife. Republicans can “learn a lot” from her, he said. “Let’s take a page out of her playbook and take a 9-iron” to “smash” the Obama agenda.

Bonus points for then launching into a harangue about the brie-eating liberals vs. honest good Americans who shop at Wal Mart.

Winner: Scott Brown describing the rage of the guy who flew a plane into the IRS building in Texas yesterday with “the kind of frustration that sent me to Washington”.

I don’t think that was quite the parallel he would have wanted to draw if he had thought it through a little. Trying to be a little too clever with his segues, methinks.

Posted by Brad @ 12:22 pm on February 19th 2010

Scooby Doo and the Case of the Mysterious New York Times Op-Ed Writer

Today the New York Times featured prominently an extensive op-ed by Lara M. Dadkhah arguing that we ought to not be overly bothered by civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan. Essentially, that if we could get 5 terrorists by killing 100 people, or 1 by killing 1, we ought to go for the 5 and not worry our pretty little heads over it. A “do whatever it takes, including killing however many civilians we need to” argument.

That’s sort of…ghastly, but not the point of Glenn Greenwald’s main question. His question is: who the f*$k is Lara M. Dadkhah?

The New York Times simply mentions her as an “intelligence analyst”, and in her op-ed she makes repeated references to secret data that she has analyzed in the course of her work as a defense contractor. What’s more, apart from this op-ed, she’s a ghost—she can’t be found on Google or Lexis-Nexis. Nobody knows her backgrounds, qualifications, data set, who she works for, or even if she exists.

She’s identified only by this conspicuously vague and uninformative line at the end of the Op-Ed: “Lara M. Dadkhah is an intelligence analyst.” In the Op-Ed itself, she writes: “While I am employed by a defense consulting company, my research and opinions on air support are my own.” What defense consulting company employs her? Do they have any ties to the war effort? Do they benefit from the grotesque policies she’s advocating? What type of “analyst” is she? Who knows? In the Op-Ed, she cites her so-called “analysis of data compiled by the United States military.” Where is the data behind that analysis, and for whom was the analysis done? The NYT doesn’t bother to tell us any of this, and doesn’t require her even to specify her “defense consultant” employer.

The only other reference Greenwald can find is to an almost identical op-ed published in a small print journal and attributed to Ms. Dadkhah. It was published in December 2008, and identified her as a grad student at Georgetown who has worked “as an open source analyst”, whatever that means. Pretty sweet deal to go from a grad student to New York Times editorial writer in two years, and to be able to claim “expertise” no less.

What bizarre behavior from the NYT: it publishes an extremist, repellent Op-Ed calling, in essence, for the deaths of more innocent Afghans and accusing the Obama administration of sacrificing the lives of American troops due to excessive concern about civilians, all while providing basically no information about the author and allowing her vaguely to refer to a “defense consulting company” for whom she works while concealing its identity. There’s no way to assess her credentials, her expertise, her employment, her motives, her possible conflicts — nothing. In short, the NYT allows her to spout extremely ugly and inflammatory claims on its Op-Ed page under the cover of alleged expertise, while concealing even the most basic information about her credentials, employment and professional background. What kind of journalistic standards are those?

Posted by Brad @ 12:10 pm on February 19th 2010

Sestak Playing Hardball

Man, I think I like this guy.

In an interview, Joe Sestak made the admission that very shortly after announcing his primary campaign against Senator Arlen Specter, the White House offered him a plumb federal job if he would agree to drop his challenge.

Did the White House offer Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) a top administration job in a bid to get him out of the U.S. Senate race? That’s what Sestak claimed in a TV interview yesterday — but the White House denies it.

Yesterday, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sestak conducted a taping of Larry Kane: Voice of Reason, a cable news show. When Kane put the question to him directly, Sestak answered “yes,” but declined to elaborate.

Kane asked whether the job was Secretary of the Navy, to which Sestak, a retired Navy Admiral, replied: “No comment.”

The White House denies it, and seems to be pretty pissed off about this. Sestak stands by it. I side with Joe on this one, as remember it was Biden that orchestrated Specter’s switch and you better believe a promise to clear the field for him was bandied around when the White House, Reid, and PA Democrats were all making assurances.

Posted by Brad @ 10:52 am on February 19th 2010

Bernard Kerik Sentenced to Four Years in Federal Prison

Which is fairly harsh, even though it did look like he was going to have to do jail time.

Kerik pleaded guilty to a number of things, from lying on his DHS application, lying to Feds in other contexts, tax fraud, and accepting a quarter million dollars of renovations to his apartment as an “in kind” gift from the mob. Prosecutors accepted his plea bargain recommended he serve 27 to 33 months in prison, or about two and a half years. The judge wasn’t buying it although, in his defense, the maximum penalty for the things Kerik pleaded to was 61 years, so Kerik might count himself lucky.

Posted by Brad @ 3:30 pm on February 18th 2010

Music Video of the Week

Although I will second Cameron’s from yesterday I’ve been getting into Man Man again lately. There’s something about the vocals that get me.

Man Man – Engwish Bwudd

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 2:42 pm on February 18th 2010

Ellsworth In

Good news for Dems in Indiana. This should give them a better-than-average shot of retaining.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:03 am on February 18th 2010

Do My Job For Me: Jury Nullification

I promised myself I wouldn’t turn the blog into this. But I also promised myself I’d carefully consider my opinions before posting them, and that I’d lose weight, and other things, so the hell with it.

Lincoln-Douglas debate is a high school activity in which students debate over propositions of value rather than propositions of policy–which is to say, the arguments are supposed to concern how various ethical propositions ought to be evaluated, rather than what policies should be implemented. The March-April topic created by the National Forensic League is thus:

Resolved: In the United States, the principle of jury nullification is a just check on government.

Some background: jury nullification is loosely defined as the practice, by juries, of acquitting defendants, regardless of the facts of the case, as a means of protesting the law in question.

Note that the resolution asks for a discussion of the principle of jury nullification rather than an evaluation of how it is currently applied. There will always be some applications (the Fugitive Slave Act) that are more appealing than others (Emmett Till).

Whaddya think? Use the comment section.

I don’t personally come down strongly on either side, so I suspect I’ll just hop in on the side opposite Brad at some point.

Posted by Rojas @ 5:55 pm on February 17th 2010

Go Die In A Fire

Asked what her advice would be to conservatives as the November elections approach, Palin first lavished praise on the Tea Party movement, calling it “a grand movement” and adding, “I love it because it’s all about the people.”

But she quickly pivoted to the broader question of whether the Tea Party movement might successfully field its own candidates in national elections, and on that point she sounded far from convinced.

“Now the smart thing will be for independents who are such a part of this Tea Party movement to, I guess, kind of start picking a party,” Palin said. “Which party reflects how that smaller, smarter government steps to be taken? Which party will best fit you? And then because the Tea Party movement is not a party, and we have a two-party system, they’re going to have to pick a party and run one or the other: ‘R’ or ‘D’.”

How about it, Tea Partiers? Did you do all that work so that you could be a co-opted entirely by the party structure, and be considered a wholly-owned constituency by the likes of this particular dingbat?

Or are you here because of the issues, and in order to hold politicians of both parties accountable?

I think the former governor is in for a massive disappointment. There are, no doubt, people who consider themselves Tea Partiers who also support Palin. But the wholesale conflation of the two groups by the media is a function of simple ignorance. And if Palin keeps making statements like the above, she’s going to drive away the Gadsden Flag crowd in a hurry.

Posted by Brad @ 5:11 pm on February 17th 2010

The 10 Best Rock or Pop Albums Ever, According to God

No, seriously. Now the Vatican is even getting into the act.

Their Top Ten:

The Beatles’ “Revolver”
Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of The Moon”
Oasis’ “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?”
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”
U2’s “Achtung Baby”
Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”
Donald Fagen’s “The Nightfly”
Carlos Santana’s “Supernatural”
Paul Simon’s “Graceland”
David Crosby’s “If I Could Only Remember My Name.”

Specifically excluded: Bob Dylan, who they like, but can’t get over all the crappy pagans he’s inspired. Which strikes me as fair.

The AV Club is surprised it doesn’t suck. InsideCatholic comments, mostly bitching that there’s no Zep in there. The Telegraph notes there are no Italians on the list, although I’m really struggling to come up with the name of a single Italian rock star, as is, apparently, Rolling Stone Italy.

Posted by Rojas @ 4:37 pm on February 17th 2010

Just Following Orders

Now here’s a conundrum for you, liberty-oriented readers. What price would you be willing to pay for civil liberties? We’ll all blog for them, but that isn’t much of a cost. Would you go to jail for them? Would you risk your livelihood? And were you charged with the use of military or law enforcement force, would you accept a dishonorable discharge or incarceration rather than obey what you saw as an unlawful order?

Oath Keepers is a new-ish organization comprised of active duty personnel, veterans, and law enforcement officers. The concept of the organization is based, as best I can judge, on two principles. The first of these is more or less undeniable: that the servicepersons in question take an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States, and that they are obliged to uphold that oath, even to the point of disobeying orders inconsistent with it. The second, more controversial, and unstated apparent principle is: the conscience and judgment of the individual serviceperson is the standard by which the lawfulness of an order is to be evaluated.

And as you might guess, where the rubber meets the road, that creates some veeeeery interesting implications. Here is a list of ten orders which the members of OK have pledged they will NOT obey:

1. We will NOT obey any order to disarm the American people.

2. We will NOT obey any order to conduct warrantless searches of the American people, their homes, vehicles, papers, or effects — such as warrantless house-to house searches for weapons or persons.

3. We will NOT obey any order to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to trial by military tribunal.

4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state, or to enter with force into a state, without the express consent and invitation of that state’s legislature and governor.

5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union.

6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.

7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.

8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control” during any emergency, or under any other pretext. We will consider such use of foreign troops against our people to be an invasion and an act of war.

9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies, under any emergency pretext whatsoever.

10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

At minimum we must recognize the cast-iron balls it would take for any career military or law enforcement officer to publicly put their name on a declaration of that sort–the Mount Vernon Declaration this decidedly ain’t. But the difficulties this presents in terms of the actual operation of a military or law enforcement operation are fairly evident. The Southern Poverty Law Center raises other concerns as well.

Is the US well-served to have active duty military operating not merely under their oath of service, but to this tangential list of principles? And if not, what is to be done? Is this grounds for conscientious objector status? Dishonorable discharge? What, exactly?

Posted by Rojas @ 3:54 pm on February 17th 2010

Principles of the New Conservative, Part Q: The Mount Vernon Statement

A collection of influential conservatives have been trying, in recent weeks, to put forward a manifesto for the movement along the lines of the 1994 Contract With America. What they’re signing today is the Mount Vernon Statement.

A few initial observations on the statement now that the text thereof has been released.

1. There are a number of very apparent efforts in the text of this document to reach out specifically to libertarian conservatives–specific references to individual liberties and the rule of law. That’s a good thing.

2. It is readily apparent, based on the list of signees, that the devil is going to be in the details. I don’t know what “rule of law” means if it includes immunization of federal officials from war crimes prosecutions for advocating torture, or of corporations for violating explicit privacy law. I don’t know what “individual liberty” means if it excludes the sorts of consensual activity that the Meese Commission mobilized against. And I don’t know what “Constitutional” means if it includes non-enumerated federal powers and outright dismissal of explicit guarantees of civil liberties.

There’s nothing much to object to in the Mount Vernon Statement, but that’s primarily a function of how broadly phrased and ambiguous the thing is. That may be a sign of a genuine commitment to a big tent philosophy, or it might be a sign that nobody takes the thing very seriously. What will happen when Republican candidates start trying to assert that other Republicans–say, Ron Paul or Gary Johnson–aren’t real conservatives, despite the clear fact that their ideologies fall squarely within the MVS framework?

All of which leads to:

3. Some form of concrete policy agenda along the lines of the Contract With America is going to be necessary as a follow-up to this statement. We need to know what conservatism is where the rubber meets the road, and we need to know who’s signed on for THAT aspect of it.

Posted by Brad @ 2:39 pm on February 17th 2010

Fark Headline of the Day

Obama up for Kids’ Choice Award. Republicans say it’s too early for such an award

Posted by Brad @ 2:15 pm on February 17th 2010

How the Beatles Caused the Health Care Crisis

A straight line from the Fab 4 to CT scans to spiking health care costs.

Posted by Brad @ 2:00 pm on February 17th 2010

…And There Goes Pay-Go

In last week’s news, the Democrats reinstated Pay-As-You-Go legislation requiring that any new spending be offset by tax increases or spending decreases.

In this week’s news, Democrats in Congress have decided to weasel around the rule with the very first piece of major legislation to follow it. The jobs bill, you see, is “emergency” spending.

In news week’s news, Congress finally passes earmark reform.

In the week after’s news, Congress ceases to add earmarks to bills, and instead add critical monetary reallocation riders for services and projects vital to the nation’s infrastructure security.

Sigh.

Posted by Brad @ 1:48 pm on February 17th 2010

The Well’s Gone Dry

Dear readers,

If any of you have access to some weird soda, please pass them to this guy. He will drink anything that is ostensibly a soda-like beverage, and hilarity often ensues, but it looks like he’s a little short of inspiration these last weeks.

Nothing that a refreshing can of Bacon-Flavored Diet Coke wouldn’t solve though.

Posted by Brad @ 1:40 pm on February 17th 2010

The Case Against Moderation

While I’m in the passing-things-on mode, Tom Schaller has a nice post at 538, ostensibly about Bayh’s rational of retiring (“it’s too partisan and not moderate enough”), and instead drilling the idea that, in fact, the Senate is about the only real moderate body in American legislature, 2/3s of the time there is a divided government, and yet, from the perspective of accountability and progress (however that is defined, either if you are on the right or the left), partisanship has a lot to recommend it. Not sure I buy that, but it’s worth passing on the money quote and link.

From a representation and government accountability standpoint, party government—and yes, even very ideological party government—has its value. Whether you think rule under George W. Bush and the Republican Congress last decade was the best or worst thing to happen to America, at least you know who was responsible for it. And whether you like the direction Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress are taking the country now, again, you know who is in charge. Elections, as the sagacious Dick Cheney reminded us, have consequences.

Or they should have. But Bayh and people like him think elections don’t have consequences because, well, he’s in Washington. And Sen. Bayh’s sensibilities trump policy progress. Not to dismiss entirely the Scott Brown victory, but the Democrats in the 2006 and 2008 cycles combined flipped the White House by about 10 popular-vote percentage points, picked up 16 net Senate seats (16 percent of that chamber), and 61 House seats (14 percent). Yet policy is not supposed to respond at all to these shifts, but instead hew closely to whatever happens to catch the fancy of senators like Bayh, Lieberman, McCain or Specter as they ride in the town car to the Meet The Press studios any given Sunday morning? This makes no sense.

And then he devolves into Bayh-bashing, which is also fun.

Posted by Brad @ 1:34 pm on February 17th 2010

Judging the Stimulus

Sadly, we will never be able to tell if the stimulus worked, simply because to prove it did require we have something to compare it to—namely, the scenario in which we had not passed the stimulus. It isn’t enough to say that it’s hard to prove the positive effects of the stimulus, because it is even harder to prove the avoidance of the negative effects of not having passed it, and it just becomes a counter-factual game more mired in ideology than any attempts at empiricism. Still, the New York Times column by David Leonhardt that’s going around jibes with my own hunch.

Imagine if, one year ago, Congress had passed a stimulus bill that really worked.

Let’s say this bill had started spending money within a matter of weeks and had rapidly helped the economy. Let’s also imagine it was large enough to have had a huge impact on jobs — employing something like two million people who would otherwise be unemployed right now.

If that had happened, what would the economy look like today?

Well, it would look almost exactly as it does now.

Leonhardt’s basic point is the obvious parts of the stimulus bill were not immediate or huge successes, while the immediate and huge successes of the stimulus bill are not obvious. But in fact the true narrative of the stimulus’ judgment is almost the opposite of what its critics maintain—namely, that the hardcore actual economists and economic indicators all back the stimulus effects and the narrative that without it, the recession would have been much, much worse, while it’s the skeptics that are playing a game of opaque non-falsifiable fantasy, essentially standing in the economy of 2010 and saying “See? We’re not bad off / we’re still bad off, which proves the stimulus was a waste!”.

Anyway, the article is one that you really ought to read in its entirety, whether you’re agreeable to its conclusion or not.

Posted by Brad @ 1:25 pm on February 17th 2010

“A Monumental Indictment of Most Everything”

Glenn Greenwald’s poignant two-paragraph post about Cheney’s going on national television to openly brag about what is inarguably a felony and a war crime under American and international law respectively, solely because he knows nobody is going to do a damn thing about it, is all I have to say on the subject.

Posted by Brad @ 11:32 am on February 17th 2010

The Nonissue of Gays in the Military

The right-wing meme on DADT, championed by John McCain, is that it would just be too disruptive to change the policy now. Get a little fringier, and you have claims that a quarter of the military would resign en masse immediately if gays were allowed to serve openly. Testifying before Congress, Secretary of Defense Gates was stepping very lightly, acknowledged seemingly once a minute how “controversial” and “charged” the issue was. While most Americans support repealing the law, the opinion of military families is about evenly split.

And yet, McClatchy has an interesting story about Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who testified passionately last week that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell damages the integrity of the United States military and that ending it was the right thing to do. Following his testimony, Mullen has been on a town hall style tour visiting active duty troops. And what he’s discovered about repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and how active duty soldiers are taking the prospect? Nobody cares.

Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was nearing the end of a 25-minute question and answer session with troops serving here when he raised a topic of his own: “No one’s asked me about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” he said.

As it turned out, none of the two dozen or so men or women who met with Mullen at Marine House in the Jordanian capital Tuesday had any questions on the 17-year-old policy that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military — or Mullen’s public advocacy of its repeal.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Darryl E. Robinson, who’s the operations coordinator for defense attache’s office at the U.S. Embassy here, explained why after the session. “The U.S. military was always at the forefront of social change,” he said. “We didn’t wait for laws to change.” […]

Indeed, since Mullen appeared on Capitol Hill earlier this month and told a stunned Congress that in his personal view, gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve, the response among members of the military has been little more than a shrug.

After Tuesday’s question-and-answer session, Mullen told McClatchy that although he’s held three town hall sessions with troops since his testimony, not a single service member has asked him about the issue.

At Tuesday’s session, which included not only Marines, but members of the Army and the Air Force, both male and female service members explained why they were nonplussed by the issue: They’d already served with gays and lesbians, they accepted that some kind of change was imminent, and, they said, the nation was too engulfed in two wars for a prolonged debate about it.

Thumbs up to the professionals in the United States military. And again, while backwards congressmen wring themselves into fits, most of American really don’t give much a damn, and only understand in an abstract way what all the fuss is about.

Posted by Brad @ 10:57 am on February 17th 2010

The Tea Party Movement for Health Care Reform

I know I’ve been blasting on about how the Tea Party movement, and hell at this point the Republican party writ large, isn’t ideological per se, it’s just straight-up oppositional, based on almost any rubric any Tea Partier chooses to bring to the table, and for Republicans, at this point a partisanship that has become almost tribal.

Well, I believe that, roundabout, but even I was taken aback by a poll result highlighted by Sully, wherein Max Blumenthal at pollster.com makes a game attempt at dissecting the movement based on poll and survey results. Much of what he finds isn’t surprising—they tend to be anti-incumbent, Republican, and believe government is wasteful. But this result raises an eyebrow:

While the Tea Party promotes limited government, some of its supporters have different views on government health care mandates. For example, 62 percent of those who say they agree at least somewhat with Tea Party positions also say the government should require businesses to provide health insurance for employees.

Even more, 71 percent, say government should require insurance companies to sell coverage to people regardless of pre-existing conditions. And while shy of a majority, a substantial share of Tea Party supporters, 43 percent, say government should require all Americans to have health insurance, from their employer or another source, with financial assistance for those who need it.

This is a poll of the 45% of Americans who self-identify as agreeing or “somewhat agreeing” with the Tea Party movement (and that’s as specific as the identifying measure gets, which strikes me as appropriate in this case). And of course, very broadly, there are three main planks to Obamacare:

  • Government requiring insurance companies to sell coverage to people regardless of pre-existing conditions
  • Some form of the government requiring Americans to have health insurance with financial assistance (or the alternative, a government-subsidized competitor) for those who need it.
  • Medicare cuts and deficit reduction

The first is supported by 71% of Tea Partiers. The second is supported by 43% of Tea Partiers. And the latter wasn’t even polled, but I’m sure would be in the 90th percentile of Tea Partiers.

The difference, in other words, between that and a solid majority of Tea Parties who support the idea of Obamacare is the opinion of 7% about one of three planks. That’s pretty amazing, the more you think about it.

I wasn’t thrilled with Obamacare, but wound up lukewarmly supporting it. Still, I’ve never been able to quite figure out where all the sheer angst about it came from, particularly that, again broadly speaking, most Americans are pretty significantly in favor of everything in it and it struck me as far more to a moderate compromise (even wishy washy) plan than to a socialist takeover or whatever. It got positively surreal once the GOP was toeing the “keep the government out of Medicare!” line. Now I’m pretty certain that, in not being able to figure out the vitriol behind the opposition and the loss of the center on this issue, it’s not been me that’s confused. It’s been them. And that’s not the sort of thing I’d say lightly (I don’t normally take the position that most people who disagree with me are obviously just stupid or not seeing clearly—I hate that POV—but in this case, clearly there’s something else going on besides vehement opposition to the specifics of Obamacare).

Andrew’s take-away:

The Democrats, by and large, are the most pathetic bunch of panty-waists I have ever come across. They couldn’t sell a Jager shot to an alcoholic. That they could not persuade a majority that ending the cruelties of the pre-existing conditions exclusions, and bringing some small measure of health security to 40 million struggling Americans and cutting the deficit at the same time wasn’t centrist … well, there’s a reason many of us find the whole lot of them a sad sack of shifting saps.

Posted by Cameron @ 2:34 am on February 17th 2010

Tonight’s Awesome Music Video

Jonathan Coulton’s Code Monkey:

Posted by Brad @ 3:20 pm on February 16th 2010

Retirements Beget Retirements

Paging Ruth Bader Ginsberg and John Paul Stevens: if you want out, better start lacing up those shoes. June might be a heckuva lot better than November.

Posted by Brad @ 3:14 pm on February 16th 2010

No Dem Candidate in Indiana – Party Will Select One

There has been some confusion this afternoon as to whether or not Tamyra d’Ippolito had in fact collected enough signatures to make the ballot, but it appears that she did not in fact get enough (and I suspect had she, the state party would have set up shop challenging each one until she was off, but thankfully for them it didn’t come to that and all they have to endure is a minor headache/scare/situation).

For the Dems, this is great news—the GOP primary is locked with Coats, who is a fairly weak candidate, and that’s even before the possibility of Tea Partiers merrily mucking things up for the GOP comes into play. And for Dems, they can literally just choose anybody they want to.

Rep. Brad Ellsworth told reporters that he is considering running, which is mostly good news as he’s probably their best candidate, but it would put his (conservative) district in play. Also in the running is Rep. Baron Hill. Good analysis on where things stand here.

Hard to say how competitive this race is. With Bayh, it looked pretty good that he would get a decent challenge scare but the race was solidly Lean Democratic. Expect a bevy of polling here in short order as everybody and their mother try to figure out where things stand now.

Interesting sideshow to bust out the popcorn for: What happens to Bayh’s $13 million in campaign cash.

Posted by Brad @ 3:08 pm on February 15th 2010

Obama on Warrantless Wiretapping: “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further…”

Despite campaigning against warrantless wiretapping, the Obama DOJ today began oral arguments in a case about cell phone tapping. Specifically:

Even though police are tapping into the locations of mobile phones thousands of times a year, the legal ground rules remain unclear, and federal privacy laws written a generation ago are ambiguous at best. On Friday, the first federal appeals court to consider the topic will hear oral arguments (PDF) in a case that could establish new standards for locating wireless devices.

In that case, the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in their–or at least their cell phones’–whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that “a customer’s Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records” that show where a mobile device placed and received calls.

Now, Obama did vote for warrantless wiretaps and immunity for telecom companies in 2008 last time the decision came before him. It’s pretty clear at this point that that, not his campaign rhetoric, is the guiding precedent. Or maybe he just meant landlines when he was talking on the stump, and just assumed everybody understood that.

In any case, the President and the Department of Justice is now seeking to enshrine the legal principle that citizens on cell phones have no reasonable expectation of privacy. And the quick regression into total Police State continues apace…

Posted by Adam @ 2:22 pm on February 15th 2010

Bayh out

Holy crap. Says that being in the deadlocked Senate is no fun.

I believe that time is now short for Democrats to find a candidate.

This is weird. Fear of something coming out soon, or really just fed up? He was probably going to win, after all.

Indiana’s not a great state for Democrats; this isn’t news Harry Reid wanted to hear, or Obama, for that matter.

Second biggest political surprise of 2010, Scott Brown’s strength and eventual win in the MA Special election being first; both of them could be in the top 5 political surprises of 2010 by the year’s end, I reckon.

EDIT: Deadline for primary entries is Friday and they need 500 signatures. Take that, Democrats.

Re-EDIT: As Brad points out in the comments, it’s 500 signatures per Congressional district, 4500 total, collected by tomorrow then submitted by Friday. Big ask.

Posted by Rojas @ 1:33 pm on February 14th 2010

But none in Vancouver, apparently

An Oklahoma meteorology student collects photographic proof that, as of Saturday the 13th, there was snow on the ground in all fifty states.

Posted by Rojas @ 3:57 pm on February 12th 2010

Boycott the Olympics!

Not for political reasons, but because they suck. Slate’s classic anti-Winter Olympics rant from 2001.

Posted by Adam @ 4:54 pm on February 11th 2010

Statistic of the Day Part 2

There are more tigers in captivity in the US than there are worldwide in the wild. Only 2300 wild tigers, compared to 100 000 at the beginning of the 20th century.

It’s partly their fault for being stripy like humanity’s implacable enemy but even so, they don’t look that much like bees. There has to be another explanation!

Posted by Adam @ 4:51 pm on February 11th 2010

Statistic of the Day part 1

Of 509 spam emails in the spam folder of my gmail account, 309 mention the word ‘viagra’. That’s about 61%.

Damn you, Pfizer, damn you to Hell.

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