Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Summerfest thread

Milwaukee's annual 11-day Summerfest opens today. Looking at the daily lineup, I think it's improved somewhat over the previous few years. There still isn't enough local talent being featured though.

I plan on attending tonight to see Elvis Costello, and Keane. Monday July 3rd, comedian Lewis Black will be doing two sets in the evening.

Feel free to add your recommendations in the comments.

Bender vs. Gore

Here's a funny new promo for An Inconvenient Truth featuring Futurama's Bender and Al Gore. The former veep's daughter Kristin Gore has worked as a writer and editor for Futurama.


Drinking Liberally tonight

Tonight, it's Drinking Liberally at Club Garibaldi in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood.

The word on the street is the fine folks at Club G. are offering attendees $2 off pitchers of Spotted Cow. Sounds like a deal to me, and a good way to kick off the summer.

Hope to see you there. Go here for a map.


Dems push for minimum wage increase

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced today that the Democratic caucus will seek to block a Congressional pay raise until the minimum wage is raised.

"They can play all the games the want," Reid said derisively of the Republicans who control the chamber. "They can deal with gay marriage, estate tax, flag burning, all these issues and avoid issues like the prices of gasoline, sending your kid to college. But we're going to do everything to stop the congressional pay raise."

The minimum wage has been $5.15 since 1998.

Quote of the Day: Lakoff edition

George Lakoff and others at the Rockridge Institute say the problem isn't that Bush is incompetent, it's his ideas that have failed the country since he took office:

"Progressives have fallen into a trap. Emboldened by President Bush’s plummeting approval ratings, progressives increasingly point to Bush’s “failures” and label him and his administration as incompetent. Self-satisfying as this criticism may be, it misses the bigger point. Bush’s disasters — Katrina, the Iraq War, the budget deficit — are not so much a testament to his incompetence or a failure of execution. Rather, they are the natural, even inevitable result of his conservative governing philosophy. It is conservatism itself, carried out according to plan, that is at fault."


Buffett on the estate tax

Since billionaire Warren Buffett is in the news for his decision to give the bulk of his wealth to charity, let's revisit his opposition to the repeal of the estate tax. Congress debated it shortly after George W. Bush took office, and Buffett along with Bill Gates Sr., David Rockefeller Sr., and others voiced their opposition to the repeal.

Estate tax repeal, Buffett says, "would be a terrible mistake," comparable to "choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics. We would consider that as absolute folly in terms of athletic competition.

"We have come closer to a true meritocracy than anywhere else around the world," Buffett continued. "You have mobility, so people with talents can be put to the best use. Without the estate tax, you in effect will have an aristocracy of wealth, which means you pass down the ability to command the resources of the nation based on heredity rather than merit."

If only the Democrats could be as eloquent on the issue.


Backlash growing against the "traditional values" crowd

Andrew Sullivan posts the results of a Gallup poll that indicates support is dropping for having the government promote moral values. Issues like gay marriage have become a low priority for Americans.

"The public is divided ... on whether the federal government should be involved in promoting moral values, with 48% saying it should and 48% saying it should not. In 1996, Americans took a very different view on this matter, with 60% saying the government should be involved and 38% saying it should not... That change appears to be a fairly recent phenomenon." From 1993 until recently, majorities of at least 10 percentage points chose "Government should promote traditional values" over "should not favor any values."


National Academy of Sciences reports on global warming

At the request of Congress, the National Academy of Sciences has issued a report on the earth's warming trend over the past 2000 years. Their conclusions are cause for concern.

The academy had been asked to report to Congress on how researchers drew conclusions about the Earth's climate going back thousands of years, before data was available from modern scientific instruments. The academy convened a panel of 12 climate experts, chaired by Gerald North, a geosciences professor at Texas A&M University, to look at the "proxy" evidence before then, such as tree rings, corals, marine and lake sediments, ice cores, boreholes and glaciers.

Combining that information gave the panel "a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years," the panel wrote. It said the "recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia," though it was relatively warm around the year 1000 followed by a "Little Ice Age" from about 1500 to 1850.

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), chairman of the House Science Committee, requested the report last year and expressed confidence in the findings.
"This report shows the value of Congress handling scientific disputes by asking scientists to give us guidance," Boehlert said Thursday. "There is nothing in this report that should raise any doubts about the broad scientific consensus on global climate change."


The Hitler or Coulter quiz

Normally I wouldn't give Ann Coulter much attention since she has lost so much credibility, even in conservative circles. This quiz was too amusing (or sad) to pass up on posting.

Give Up Blog presents: The Hitler vs. Coulter quiz.

Thanks to Skatz for the link. I managed to get 9 out of 14 correct.


Santorum in the land of make believe

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) with the help of Fox News is now saying that in fact hundreds of weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. The report is being pushed on the cable network, and their webpage's headline reads "Hundreds of WMDs found in Iraq".

Tucked in the heart of the article is this quote from a Defense Department official who debunks the whole damn story:

Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.

"This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991," the official said, adding the munitions "are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war."

Santorum's desperate attempt to save face also contradicts the Administration and the Iraq Survey Group which issued the Duelfer Report on the weapons inspections in 2004:
While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible Indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad’s desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered.

This just indicates one more reason why Santorum deserves to be tossed out of the Senate by Pennsylvania voters in fall. It's laughable, in a tragic sense, that he believes the discovery of pre-Gulf War shells qualifies as some major discovery of WMD, and a justification for the war.

Think Progress has more.


Gore on Charlie Rose

Former veep Al Gore was on Charlie Rose's show Monday night for the hour. It's available for viewing on Google Video.

Rose just returned to the show after undergoing surgery to repair a heart valve. He remains one of the best interviewers in broadcast journalism.

Bush's wishful thinking for the 110th Congress?


"If you want your taxes low, keep Denny Hastert and Bill Frist as leaders of the House and the Senate."
-President Bush Monday night at a fundraiser in DC.

He may want to remind himself that Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) is retiring from the Senate at the end of the year.


Unsettling US Embassy memo from Iraq

The Washington Post has obtained a memo sent from the US Embassy in Baghdad to the Secretary of State that paints a grim picture of the conditions there. Here are some of the bullet points:

  • Two of our three female employees report stepped up harassment beginning in mid-May. One, a Shiite who favours western clothing, was advised by an unknown woman in her upscale Shiite/Christian Baghdad neighbourhood to wear a veil and not to drive her own car. Indeed, she said, some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran even at its most conservative.

  • Embassy employees are held in such low esteem their work must remain a secret and they live with constant fear that their cover will be blown. Of nine staffers, only four have told their families where they work. They all plan for their possible abductions. No one takes home their cell phones as this gives them away. One employee said criticism of the U.S. had grown so severe that most of her family believes the U.S. "is punishing populations as Saddam did."

  • Since April, the "demeanor" of guards in the Green Zone has changed, becoming more "militia-like," and some are now "taunting" embassy personnel or holding up their credentials and saying loudly that they work in the embassy: "Such information is a death sentence if overheard by the wrong people." For this reason, some have asked for press instead of embassy credentials.
The full memo is available in PDF format here.


Climate scientists back up Gore

I got a chance to see An Inconvenient Truth on Friday, and found it was very well done. There were probably only a few moments when I thought the eyes in the audience would start to glaze over from all the data. It's edited well though so as not to seem too much like a 2 hour college lecture. Topics Gore discusses are intercut with footage of him on the road, and him talking about life experiences like growing up on the family farm.

Salon published a good article about the accuracy of the science in the movie that is worth a read. View the ad to get a Salon Day Pass if you're not a member. Here's an excerpt:

Scientists express surprise that Gore could present the science in an accurate way without putting everyone in the audience to sleep. "Such an amount of relatively hard science could have been extremely dull, and I've been to a lot of presentations on similar stuff that were very dull," says Schmidt. "Where there was solid science, he presented it solidly without going into nuts and bolts, and where there were issues that are still a matter of some debate, he was careful not to go down definitively on one side or the other."

Lonnie Thompson, a professor at Ohio University, whose work on retreating glaciers from the Andes to Kilimanjaro and Tibet is featured in the film, was happy with the result. "It's so hard given the breadth of this topic to be factually correct, and make sure you don’t lose your audience," he says. "As scientists, we publish our papers in Science and Nature, but very few people read those. Here's another way to get this message out. To me, it's an excellent overview for an introductory class at a university. What are the issues and what are the possible consequences of not doing anything about those changes? To me, it has tremendous value. It will reach people that scientists will never reach." John Wallace, a climate scientist at the University of Washington, agreed. "I think that he's gone to great lengths to make the science comprehensible to the layman," he says. "Given the fact that this was a film intended to bring the message to the lay public, I think it was excellent."

In the film, Gore also points out a study done by Science Magazine of the peer-reviewed scientific studies about climate change. The study reviewed a sample containing 928 papers between 1993 and 2003, and none disputed that a significant percentage of global warming is caused by human activity. By comparison, articles in the media were more split with 53% of them claiming that global warming isn't proven. No wonder people are confused about the issue.


Aquifer could help solve Waukesha's water woes

The city of Waukesha is still dealing with a water shortage. Their drinking water is in violation of clean water standards since their water table has dropped nearly 500 feet in recent decades. This has resulted in high levels of radium in the drinking water leading planners to search for new sources of drinking water.

Planners in the county seem intent on self destruction based on news that a brand new shopping mall is being planned at Pabst Farms in western Waukesha County. The property contains an aquifer that nearly reaches surface level and is a ready source of radium-free water.

It's time for folks in Waukesha County to get their heads out of the sand and start thinking about the long term implications of this development, especially when a potential solution to a contaminated water problem is staring them in the face.

McKenzie nostalgia

If you were a fan of Bob and Doug McKenzie from SCTV and Strange Brew, is full of material. Use the menu on the left side to navigate to sounds, albums, and video.

The McKenzie brothers were played by Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis. When SCTV moved to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the show was two minutes longer than the syndicated version in the United States. CBC mandated that those two extra minutes had to contain exclusively Canadian content.

Moranis and Thomas thought the idea was stupid since the show was put together by an almost exclusively Canadian cast and crew, but had an idea to satisfy the request. Thus the Great White North was born which played on any number of Canadian stereotypes. The sketches turned out to be some of the most successful parts of the show ever to appear on SCTV.

Bush goes green, if only for a day

The president on Thursday invoked the National Antiquities Act to set aside 140,000 square miles of islands, atolls, coral reef colonies, and seamounts and gave them National Monument status.

Conrad C. Lautenbacher, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will manage nearly all of it, said the new protected area would dwarf all others.

"It's the single-largest act of ocean conservation in history. It's a large milestone," Lautenbacher said. "It is a place to maintain biodiversity and to maintain basically the nurseries of the Pacific. It spawns a lot of the life that permeates the middle of the Pacific Ocean."

It is only the second time that Bush has invoked the 1906 National Antiquities Act, which gives the president authority to create national monuments to preserve the nation's ancient cultural sites and unusual geological features. The law itself turned 100 this month.


Quote of the Day

From Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) via the WaPo:

"I can't help but feel through eyes of a combat-wounded Marine in Vietnam, if someone was shot, you tried to save his life. . . . While you were in combat, you had a sense of urgency to end the slaughter, and around here we don't have that sense of urgency," said Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (Md.), a usually soft-spoken Republican who has urged his leaders to challenge the White House on Iraq. "To me, the administration does not act like there's a war going on. The Congress certainly doesn't act like there's a war going on. If you're raising money to keep the majority, if you're thinking about gay marriage, if you're doing all this other peripheral stuff, what does that say to the guy who's about ready to drive over a land mine?"

It's okay, the Senate will come through and do the hard work. They've dusted off the flag burning amendment again, the issue only an election year can love.


North Korea photos

Russian photographer Artemii Lebedev has assembled some fascinating photographs he took during a trip to North Korea.

Give them a look at this link.

Pay attention to the first photo, and you'll see that North Korea is at the center of the painting on the wall. The third photo down features the infamous Ryugyong Hotel, which was never completed, presumably due to its high cost.

North Korea is essentially a cult in the form of a country. Kim Jong-il, the country's leader, is constantly praised while people starve and others are tortured and killed. It's estimated that between 600,000 and 3.5 million people died during the famine of the 1990s, and Amnesty International rates the country as one of the worst violators of human rights on the planet.


Iraq safer than DC?

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) seems to think so. What's funny though is that with all the time I've spent in the nation's capital, I don't recall people having to be dressed like this when traveling through the city on the Metro.

Seriously though, how stupid is King to throw out such phony statistics on the House floor? Obviously, education in this country is a very serious problem.

Conservative pundit puts down the kool-aid

In National Review, columnist John Derbyshire issues a mea culpa on the Iraq war. It's a good read, and hopefully it will lead other conservatives to be more publicly honest about this debacle.

Since the Iraq war was obviously a gross blunder, is it time for those of us who cheered on the war to offer some kind of apology? Here we are—we, the United States—in our fourth year of occupying that sinkhole, and it looks pretty much like the third year, or the second. Will the eighth year of our occupation, or our twelfth, look any better? I know people who will say yes, but I no longer know any who will say it with real conviction. It’s a tough thing, to admit you were wrong. It’s way tough if you’re a big-name pundit with a reputation to preserve. For those of us down at the bottom of the pundit pecking order, the stakes aren’t so high. I, at any rate, am willing to eat some crow and say: I wish I had never given any support to this fool war.


Craigslist founder on "Net Neutrality"

Craig Newmark, founder of, has a good commentary on CNN's site about the net neutrality legislation in Congress:

William L. Smith, the chief technology officer for Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp., recently told the Washington Post that BellSouth should, for example, be able to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc. or vice versa. "If I go to the airport, I can buy a coach standby ticket or a first-class ticket," Smith said. "In the shipping business, I can get two-day air or six-day ground."

In my view, executives like Smith forget that they get the use of public resources, like the airwaves and public rights of way, on which they have built their businesses and made a lot of money. As such, they shouldn't be able to squeeze out some Web sites in favor of others. This would be a betrayal of the public trust.

The House rejected an amendment proposed by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) last week by a vote of 152-269. The amendment was supported by companies like eBay, Amazon, and Google. It would've prohibited telecom companies from prioritizing sites over one another. Wisconsin Democrats Ron Kind, Gwen Moore, Tammy Baldwin, and Dave Obey were joined by Republican Jim Sensenbrenner in supporting the bill. Republicans Tom Petri, Paul Ryan and candidate for governor Mark Green all voted against it.

Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) have introduced S.2917, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. It's currently under consideration in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Josh Marshall is tracking the positions of individual Senators.


Black Holocaust Museum founder Cameron dies

James Cameron, who founded America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, died today at the age of 92. He had been suffering from lymphoma over the past five years.

Cameron is the only known survivor of a lynching. He was 16 at the time, and was dragged along with his two friends to be hanged for the murder of a white man. After Cameron's two friends were killed, Cameron was spared at the last minute when someone in the crowd proclaimed that he was innocent.

In addition to his duties at the museum, Cameron spent time lecturing, and teaching Aat grade schools, high schools, and prisons. At my commencement from UWM in 1999, Cameron was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree by the university:

"When I heard that, it was like an electric shock passed through me," he explains. "I couldn't hold back my tears, and I didn't even want to try."


Ralph Lauren dumps fur

Polo Ralph Lauren announced this week it will eliminate fur from its clothing and household products starting this holiday season.

Even before being aprised of the torture towards animals that takes place in the fur industry in countries like China, I never understood how someone could have such horrible fashion sense as to want to wear such a thing.

Lauren is the latest major clothing designer to eliminate fur from its product line. Calvin Klein did so in early 1994.

GOP Senate candidate bolts to Libertarians

Dave Redick, former Republican candidate for US Senate, has announced he will run as a Libertarian this fall. In his statement, he cited how far removed the Republican party has become from its principles.

"The Republican Party nationwide is ‘off course’ compared to it’s traditional values, and Republican leaders at the State, and County level seem to like it that way (or at least will settle to be submissive and abused ‘loyalists’ to DC). The far-right religious groups, corrupt Congressmen, and warmonger ‘neocons’ have taken over in DC, and it seems no one is willing or able to push them back. It is now the war, big-spending, and homeland spy party."

Redick isn't going to win in fall, but I'm sure there will be more than a few disgruntled Republicans who will express their protest against the GOP by voting for him and other Libertarians in the election.


Peg claims Dem superiority over Falk

The Democratic primary race for state Attorney General is heating up now that the party's convention kicks off tonight in La Crosse.

Mark Pocan points us to this swipe that incumbent AG Peg Lautenschlager took at her challenger Kathleen Falk. In her statement, Peg mentions that she's been a dues paying member of the Democratic Party far longer than Falk. Kathleen Falk has only become a paying member of the party in the last decade apparently.

Also according to Peg, in the past Falk named former EPA Director and Republican Governor of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman as one of her two favorite politicians. Wow, I'm shocked. How dare she have respect for colleagues across the aisle?

Obviously Peg is hoping such a thing mobilizes the rank and file behind her during the convention. Wisconsin has an open primary though, and Peg is going to need a little more than that in her arsenal to get re-elected. It's childish press releases like this one that reaffirm my support for Falk in the primary.


Zarqawi post-mortem

At this point in the day, there's not much to add about the death of Jordanian terroist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man responsible for a lot of attacks and killings in Iraq following the invasion. Understandably, there is a lot of celebrating today and a lot of pondering about the impact this will have on the war in Iraq.

Andrew Sullivan has a good post on the role Zarqawi played in terms of his role in Iraq and in the minds of people around the world. He quotes an interesting piece from the Atlantic which profiles Zarqawi including the first meeting between Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden (it seems they didn't much care for one another).

Back to the subject of where this takes us. The reason why terrorists like Zarqawi have come into Iraq is because of the post-war instability there. In May, insurgent attacks in Iraq were the highest they've been in the past two years. The country is unstable, because there exists an increasingly violent sectarian schism between the Shiite controlled government, and the Sunni minority which used to hold power under Saddam Hussein.

The Sunnis in Iraq have long aligned themselves with Arab nationalism, and they tend to view the new government as being subservient to American interests. That is at the root of the problem in Iraq, and the death of a foreign thug like Zarqawi is unlikely to have much of an effect on resolving it.


Marriage amendment roll call

The Senate rejected the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage today when a cloture vote failed. Only two Democrats voted for cloture: Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) who supports the amendment, and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) who is against it but wanted to see a vote on the amendment itself. Seven Republicans joined the Dems in voting against cloture.

Here's the vote as it came down today in the Senate. Under Senate rules, 60 votes are required to invoke cloture which cuts off debate.

YEAs ---49
Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Burr (R-NC)
Byrd (D-WV)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Frist (R-TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D-NE)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Stevens (R-AK)
Talent (R-MO)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)
NAYs ---48
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Chafee (R-RI)
Clinton (D-NY)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dayton (D-MN)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCain (R-AZ)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Sununu (R-NH)
Wyden (D-OR)
Not Voting - 3
Dodd (D-CT)
Hagel (R-NE)
Rockefeller (D-WV)

While I'm on the subject, be sure to check out Jon Stewart's interview with Bill Bennett from the Daily Show last night about the amendment. Priceless.


Olbermann owns O'Reilly (again)

Keith Olbermann is not letting up on Bill O'Reilly for his "mistake" in saying it was US soldiers who shot surrendering German soldiers at Malmedy during World War II (it was the other way around).

Fox News originally modified the transcript to say Normandy until Olbermann pointed it out. O'Reilly has refused to issue a correction or an apology so far.

Watch the segment here.

More AAR-MKE press

Tim Cuprisin published a column about the recent movement to land an Air America station in Milwaukee. In it, he quotes founder Shel Drobny and describes the community investor model they're pursuing here.

A primary reason they're taking this approach of getting local investors involved is to avoid what happened down in Phoenix, Arizona only a few months ago. After 1010-AM KXXT switched to Air America, their ratings soared to 3rd place among the market's 25 AM stations in just nine months on the air. That was until Communicom Broadcasting purchased the station and yanked the format, only to give Phoenix its ninth religious broadcast station.

The people of Phoenix rallied though, and in less than a month, they managed to find their new home at 1480-AM KPHX. Using the community investor model in Milwaukee, the Drobnys are seeking to avoid another hostile takeover of an otherwise successful station.

You can visit Air America Milwaukee to learn more about the goings on here in town.


Who's the more foolish?

Newsweek quotes an old friend of our fearless leader in an article about the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It gives us a little insight into just how little respect the president has for social conservatives, and how politics drives the White House agenda.

Though Bush himself has publicly embraced the amendment, he never seemed to care enough to press the matter. One of his old friends told NEWSWEEK that same-sex marriage barely registers on the president's moral radar. "I think it was purely political. I don't think he gives a s--t about it. He never talks about this stuff," said the friend, who requested anonymity to discuss his private conversations with Bush. White House aides, who also declined to be identified, insist that the president does care about banning gay marriage. They say Monday's events with amendment supporters—Bush will also meet privately with a small group—have been in the works "for weeks" and aren't just a sop to conservatives.

Whatever Bush's motivation, his actions aren't likely to quiet his critics. Land says he's happy Bush is speaking out, but he'd like to see signs of real commitment to the issue. "We know what a full-court press looks like when we see one," Land says. A White House official, who declined to be identified discussing strategy, says Bush has not made calls on the amendment because "nobody has asked us."


Journalist who wrote fake Iran story invited to White House

If you're a journalist looking to gain the respect of the administration, the lesson here is to make up stories that support their agenda.

From Molly Ivins:

Two weeks ago, Amir Taheri had an op-ed article in the Canadian National Post claiming the Iranians have a law requiring Jews to wear yellow badges. It turned out to be a complete fabrication and has been the subject of much contempt among bloggers. So Tuesday, Taheri was invited to the White House along with other "experts" to give the president their "honest opinions." With advice like that, our war in Iran will be a slam dunk.


First, your phone. Next, your web browser

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is proposing that all Internet service providers (ISPs) be required to save records of their customers' online habits for two years. He met with the heads of several ISPs last week to discuss the idea.

"We want this for terrorism," Gonzales said, according to one person familiar with the discussion.

Gonzales' earlier position had only emphasized how mandatory data retention would help thwart child exploitation.

The notion of privacy is fast becoming an endangered concept. I'm sure that if former AG Janet Reno were proposing these ideas, there would be nothing but support from conservative Republicans who are expressing little to no opposition.

Hat tip to the Nate Report.

Sensenbrenner on oversight

Political cartoonist David Horsey sums up the Wisconsin Congressman's attitude on the Executive Branch's activities of late.