Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Habeus? We Don't Need No Stinking Habeus!



Nice Prosecutorial Abuse story.

Chilling, actually, considering that trial was held under the protection of the American legal tradition, which can now be ignored:


"[the Military Commission Act of 2006] breaks with American legal tradition in some ominous ways. Most disturbing from the perspective of the legal profession are its termination of the writ of habeas corpus with respect to the claims of detainees and its sweeping grant to the Executive of rights to label persons enemy combatants and thereby leave them without legal rights which can be vindicated in courts."

I guess we should just concentrate on being the best little productive economic units we can and leave all that civil rights mumbo-jumbo up to the President. Oh, and thank our lucky stars that the freedom-hating Democrats aren't in control and enacting all manner of soul-crushing environmental laws. Sure, terminating habeas corpus is kinda bad, but raising CAFE standards and new restrictions on carbon emissions for power companies, well those things are just too awful to even contemplate.

Sen. Rick Santorum: Guest Blogger



Senator Rick Santorum takes the opportunity to be a guest blogger at Captain's Quarters.

Leaders with confused thinking such as his is what led to the disaster in Iraq. For instance, in an August speech to the Pennsylvania Press Club, he flagrantly and erroneously conflated the motives of modern Islamic radicals with the actions of the Ottoman empire back in 1683.

In September, when asked if we should have had more troops in Iraq, he made the astounding claim that many commanders wanted less troops! But he refused to offer any evidence.

Further, I distinctly remember my first exposure to his buffoonary, back in the 2000 election year, when he dragged General Shenseki before congressional hearings because one of his state's tracked military vehicle manufacturers wanted to reverse the Army's decision to use wheeled vehicles only.

From the National Defense Magazine website:

The Army complained that the tests were unnecessary and would delay development of its new, lighter brigades.

"In my judgment," Shinseki wrote to the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, "such a comparison will provide marginal insights, while placing a significant drain on very limited resources, including money, time, readiness and soldiers."

The requirements were placed in the legislation largely at the insistence of Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate AirLand Forces Subcommittee. Santorum was up for reelection this year, and his state includes two factories of United Defense L.P. (UDLP), which makes the ArmyÂ’s 40-year-old line of medium-weight combat vehicles, the M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier.


We won't defeat Islamic extremists by countering them with Christian extremists like Rick Santorum, who lie and are willing to undermine the military solely for the purpose of pandering to special interests from the state of Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Live Nude Journalists!

David, I'm blown away! Is there gonna be a book? You really opened my eyes with that piece on McCain.

Here's a blurb for the back jacket:

Muddy Mo: "The significance of Ignatius' courage is irrefutable. His political insights have no parallel in modern journalism. ...feel the rumbling diesel of the "Straight Talk Express" as you turn each page!"

Dave, here's a book tour tip: Make Russert think you're gonna do Stephanopoulos first. Ole Russ'll personally shine your shoes befoe your segment. I'm not kidding!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Double or Nothing is Not a Foreign Policy

TPM has a primer on what he expects to see from the White House this fall.

Would they really try to go to the well one more time with a pre-emptive war? This time they would have the advantage that the target has admitted they have enriched uranium. With no need to gin up a disinfo campaign around aluminum tubes and documents from Niger, they would be free to stretch their legs with some really imaginative propoganda.

Still, I don't think it is likely. Sure, they will try to wimpify the Dems everytime one of them suggests we negotiate with Iran. But, the GWOT pre-emptive war bandwagon won't be road worthy in time for the November elections.

(Proviso: No new terrorist attack on US soil. Sad to think that a nation who has spent over a trillion dollars on defense in the last decade, could have the outcome of it's national elections turned upside down by a few strategically placed jihadists.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Free-Markets and Health: Efficient. Deadly Efficient

In today's Kansas City Star, Robert Schwab, chairman of emergency medicine at Truman Medical Center Hospital Hill, relates the story of a recently uninsured Missourian:

...he treated a man whose diabetes had become uncontrolled. The man had been seeing the same doctor regularly for years, but after he was laid off and lost his insurance, the doctor dropped him. The man was unable to get a new insulin prescription.
After Truman stabilized the man’s blood-sugar level, he was discharged with a new prescription.

“The question is, what doctor will write his next prescription?” Schwab said. “If he doesn’t get it, he’ll be back here in the same dilemma.”


One might surmise that free-market economics could not possibly help resolve this problem. Au contraire, GW and the free-market loving Republicans have the answer: If this citizen were to Google "Health Savings Account" plus the term "quote" HSA Finders would be listed first and he would be just a few clicks away from a rate quote similar to this for a 50 year old male with zero co-pay:




Fantastic! This high deductible plan should get our citizen premiums he can meet for 6 months, so his diabetes can be under control while he looks for a job.

All that remains is to click on the "apply" button and answer a few questions (including whether he had received treatment for diabetes) then he would see the magic of the markets at work:




Oops.

Well, this is a small sample. Surely the policies of the free-market Republicans means that soon there will be scores of other health insurance companies chomping at the bit to get this man's business! Or, it could mean that the market is telling this citizen to die or get the hell out of the way so that nice diabetes-free family pictured above can sign up for one of these plans.

Free-market evangelists might say markets work in mysterious ways. Or was that television evangelists? Sometimes I get them confused.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Half of all economists think werewolves negatively impact interest rates

Being an idealist at heart while at the same time a hopeless political junkie, I rely on rationalism as a compass for steering the middle road between these yin and yang aspects of my personality. I believe there are many people with a similar dilemma out there. Why? Look at the way most people view economics and economists. They steer clear, because for an IPJ, economist's claims are hazardous to our health. Trying to use reason to evaluate competing economist's claims is about as effective as Peter Boyle's Wizard trying to counsel Travis Bickle by telling him he should not "worry so much." So, when John Edwards called in The Ethical Werewolf to make the case for an increase in the minimum wage, I approached it with some trepidation.

You can't swing an indicted Republican without smacking a conservative who will tell you increasing the minimum wage costs jobs, replete with reams of Cato studies. But,
TEW cites no less than five economists with three different studies ( 1: "Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage" David Card and Alan B. Krueger, 2:"The Effect of the Minimum Wage on the Fast Food Industry" Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Kruegar, 3: "The Effects of New Jersey's Minimum Wage Increase on Fast
Food Employment: A Re-Evaluation Using Payroll Records."
David Neumark, William Wascher) showing that increasing the minimum wage does not significantly affect unemployment. Neumark and Wascher's results are notable as they are opponents of increased minimum wage and initiated their study with the intention of refuting Card and Krueger.

Granted, the above studies were done in the 90's. But as TEW notes, Florida raised the MW in 2005 with no negligible effect on jobs. When Michael Sasso asked David Denslow, research economist at the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research (an opponent of MW increases) Sasso quoted him saying, "I think it's really quite clear that the effect of the minimum wage is quite small"

Now, Maryland serves up another test case and short of an economist cage match (sponsored by Cato?), no satisfying conclusion is anywhere in sight for long suffering IPJ's.

Let anecdotes be in reason's good stead. From the Sasso piece:

One independent retailer, Ronald "Mac" Walter, who owns two discount furniture stores in Tampa, doubts that the amendment will seriously hurt the job market.

"I don't think it's going to kill jobs because you need the people to do the work no matter what," said Walter, owner of Highland Park Furniture, which has a license to use the trade name Macy's Furniture & Mattress Clearance Center. "But it might hurt profits, and it sounds better to say it's going to hurt jobs than hurt profits."

Monday, March 06, 2006

Muddy Mo Quiz #1: KMOV Brain Trust?



St. Louis' CBS affiliate KMOV posted a web story last Saturday with the headline, "State bill proposes Christianity be Missouri's official religion" By comparing this story with the facts, see if you can determine which brain in this picture is most like the KMOV brain trust.






The story begins, "Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state's official 'majority' religion."

The first clue comes from... The Church Lady!:
When is a state bill NOT a state bill? Now, when could that be? Could it be ....when it is a Resolution? David Sater, Missouri's State Representative from the 68th District in Cassville Missouri, introduced House Concurrent Resolution No. 13 ( HRC 13) to the 93rd General Assembly. Note to the KMOV brain trust: Politician's resolutions are theatrical, no one takes them seriously. Sort of like your attempt to be journalists.

The second clue: The story breathlessly announces, "Karen Aroesty of the Anti-defamation league, along with other watch-groups, began a letter writing campaign..." A visit to the regional ADL website . has not one word about this resolution or any campaign. Of course there is always the, "other watch-groups" Wow. Really?

Did you guess the KMOV brain trust most closely resembles a Gorilla's brain? YW say, "Damn, dog, you where I am"

Some have questioned this answer and said, "Mud Man, the KMOV brain trust could not possibly be like a Gorilla's brain, which is so large. The Mouse brain is much more likely. " So, I asked them, "Which of these brains belong to the animal which most frequenlty consumes its own feces?"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Gender Gap: Bush's Free Fall in the Polls

Digby looks deeper in the poll numbers and wonders, "Wither the Gender Gap?" How soon we forget.

I think I can pinpoint when things started going sour for the President with female voters: When Cindy Sheehan showed up in Crawford.

Every day for nearly four weeks, there was Cindy in her lawn chair, sweltering in the Texas sun, watching while Bush's motorcade came roaring down that narrow country road, kicking the dust in Cindy's eyes!

We heard about Bush's loutish behavior at the White House, "Who're we all honorin' here today?" when he met with the Sheehan family for condolences on the death of her son Casey. Candlelight vigils held every evening, all around the country.

Brutal.

Then, just as the right-wing echo chamber's "Swift Boating" of Sheehan really began to take: Hurricane Katrina.

Update: Removed superfluous closing comment about God working in mysterious ways. It seemed clever, but it really wasn't.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Symphony for the Devil: Lyrics Update?

I helped set the charge 'neath the Golden Dome,
'cause the neo plan just wasn't keeping
pace.
Still waiting for my hat tip from
Roger though.
Guess I'll remind him when he's done with the
race.

Now everyone seems to know their role,
as they jockey for a toe hold on the brink.
But, who could forget all those purple doves,
They lent such a nice touch, don't you think?


Drum has a somewhat heartening Report from Baghdad . However, I was struck by an exchange Fareed Zakaria had Sunday with the roundtable on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" He pointed out that India, Nigeria, Malaysia and other nations with multi-ethnic populations have sectarian riots from time to time and they do not fall into civil war. When asked what a civil war would look like he said, "a concerted effort by the communities to continue." He did not think this applied to Iraq, because there seemed to be a "pull back."

However, when reminded that the activities of the Iraqi Interior Ministry hit squads and the retaliatory executions had been going on for months, Zakaria admitted that when the US allowed militias to be an intergral part of the Iraqi defense forces, for the sake of political expediency, it was a grave error and endemic to the continued sectarian conflict.

Translation: For the sake of G.W.'s election campaign, we colluded with militia groups so they could keep a lid on things long enough for the US elections to take place and for all the "democracy" events to proceed long enough for us to get the hell out of there before the 2006 mid-terms.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Rising Housing Bubble Floats Many Middle Class Losers

In Business Week, Michael Mandel makes a nice correlation between rising home values and the Democrats inability to get any traction criticizing the borrow and spend Republican economic policies.

Middle class workers aren't feeling the decline in real earnings--about $1,100 per year, between 2000 and 2004--because more of them own homes and have offset those losses through the wonder of home mortgage refinancing.

A downturn in the housing market bodes ill for Republicans, so Bush probably thinks he did his party good when he recently turned a question about making housing more affordable into an opportunity to state reassuringly,
"I don't think you have to worry about the mortgage deduction not being a part of the income-tax law."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kinda Chickensh*t?

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan: "protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington when it came to notifying others that he was there. And so, you know, unfortunately, these types of hunting accidents happen from time to time." Several hunting experts were skeptical of McClellan's explanation.

Skeptical is a nice euphimism. It is always the shooter's responsibilty to make certain the line of fire is clear.

I will go out on a limb here and presume Whittington has done quite a bit of hunting. I mean, only the upper crust ever make it out on Katie Armstrong's patch of heaven, dontcha think? All these boys have probably been shooting their great grandad's Franchi since before they were old enough to bully the hired help. To think Whittington was doing something so completely and totally asinine or unexpected that it relieves Cheney of responsiblity seems far fetched.

Sure, accidents happen. But Dick's --cough, cough--"straight shooter" image is going to suffer unless he stands up and takes responsibility.

Update: Better late than never, Cheney takes responsibility during interview with Fox News' Britt Hume on 2/15/06 . I'm curious to hear from the many condescending Bush/Cheney Monarchists who knew it was Whittington's fault.