Monday, October 31, 2005

Scalito's Way

It's okay to strip search 10 year olds who aren't even accused of a crime.

The quantum of evidence to find didscrimination in the workplace is higher than that necessary to impose the death penalty.

The federal government has greater power to interfere with individual's reproductive decisions than it does to interfere with corporations' need to make money.

Prognostication of the day: Scalito is going to go down the only question is how: (1) will Specter join the Dems and block him from getting out of committe; (2) will he fail for inability to get the support of 51 Senators; or (3) will he make it to the point where the Democrats filibuster him. The third pick ... Albero Gonzalez.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Weekly Picks

Not a lot of good games this week, but here we go:

It breaks my heart when great teams lose their key player as happened to Georgia and Oregon last week. Betting on sports, however, is not for the sentimental. I'm taking Florida at home to beat Georgia by more than 4.

UCLA has ben enigmatic for me all year. They easily could've lost three of their games but then looked incredible last week against Oregon State. I think they figured out their identity last week and I'll give up the 7 points and take the Bruins on the road at Stanford.

Michigan against Northwestern is probably the toughest, competitive game to call this week. That's why I must call it. Northwestern has shown that they can put up points against anyone, including 29 against one of the best defenses in the nation against Penn State. I just don't think Michigan will be able to keep up with them, especially with the game being at Evanston. I'm taking Northwestern and the 3 points you get with them.

The Big 10 is the parity league this year. Staying there, I'll give up the 3.5 points to take Ohio State on the road at Minnesota.

While the Big 12 sucks this year (except for Texas), Colorado is quietly rebuilding its program. I'll take the Buffs on the road and give up the 7.5 points to Kansas State.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Is Fitzy Hesitating on Rove Because Rove Hired Fitzy's Buddy?

All week we've been hearing rumors and leaks about charges against Libbey & Rove.

This week Rove apparently hired on to his defense team one of Fitzy's buddies Mark Corallo who posted this piece of Fitzy ass kissing at the American Spectator (certainly part of the buddy strategy).

Now we learn in the NYT tonight that the speculation is that Rove will not be indicted but simply remain under investigation. What gives?

Maybe Libbey ought to see if Fitzy has some family members or other pals he can get on his payroll.

Bush Withdraws Miers: The Extreme Right Gets Its Scalp

Don't believe the bullshit that Miers withdrew herself or that she was withdrawn because of a fight over documents. Harry Reid preapproved Miers thereby giving up any basis on which to lead a filibuster. Miers only needed Republican votes to get through and she just couldn't get them.

The charge against her was lead by a joint effort of the religious right that has a litmus test which requires constitutional interpretation begin with the Bible and those who believe in some phony original intent doctrine that perversely misreads the Constitution narrowly in its protections of individual freedom but broadly in favor of corporate freedom.

BTW - I heard Sen. Brownback state that one person on his list of proposed nominees is "Priscilla Owens." I don't know who that is, but whoever she is, I'm sure she can't be worse than Priscilla Owen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Start the Screwin': Bush & The Repugs Support De-education, Dead Beat Dads and Unfair Trade

CNN reports:

House Republicans voted to cut student loan subsidies, child support enforcement and aid to firms hurt by unfair trade practices as various committees scrambled to piece together $50 billion in budget cuts.

Iranian President Gives Hate Speech: "Israel must be wiped off the map"

In the aftermath of the Iraq war, neighboring Iran made a troubling and disappointing move back to extremism by replacing Mohammad Khatami as president with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (pictured).

The New York Times reports Ahmadinejad stated: "Israel must be wiped off the map." This is despicable and hateful.

We obviously need to come up with a more constructive approach to assist the moderates and liberals in Iran who do not want a closed society but would rather be part of the larger world community. I'm afraid that the U.S. invaision of Iraq undercut them and it will be a while until they can start to turn Iran away from extremism and back to some of the forward making steps of a decade ago.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

2,000 Is Not Just A Number

CNN gives us these heartbreaking stories about Sgt. James Kinlow, Sgt. David Jones and Specialist Matthew Gibbs, three Georgians who died in separate instances over a 10 day span this summer.

As to Kinlow, CNN rreports:

"[B]etween Christmas and New Year's, he tore off two sheets of notebook paper and wrote out his life in summary, with a blank for the newspapers to fill in later, beginning with the end.

"Mr. James O. Kinlow, 35, of Holt St. died -------- in Iraq."

Nearly seven months later, the sentence was completed.

He died on July 24. He did not die alone; three of his comrades died as well. All together, 18 soldiers in the Georgia-based 48th Infantry Brigade have fallen since their arrival in Iraq in June, sad examples of the bloody price paid by U.S. citizen-soldiers in this war."

Election Commission Claims Only a 55% "No" Vote in Ninevah

As expected, the Iraqi Election Commission settled in on a final tally for Ninevah at 55% "no."

Given all the fluctutations and delays, prominent Sunnis, even moderate ones who participated in drafting the Constitution and who called on Sunnis to participate in the vote, are calling the vote a "farce" and voicing suspicions of fraud.

All this has simply served to strenthen the insurgency and especially the credibility of the extermists who warned against a fair vote.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Coleman Hides Behind Congressional Immunity to Level Attack on Galloway

Norm Coleman's Senate Subcommittee issued a report today accusing George Galloway of receiving illegal oil funds from Sadam Hussein's Iraq and of committing perjury in his testimony before Congress.

As the media plays dumb in favor of Coleman, I'll have tro make a point they should be making. Why is Coleman such a chickenshit that he only levels his attacks against Galloway in manners protected by congressional immunity? Certainly if he has such a strong case he would no doubt issue his charges from a public forum to which the immunity does not attach.

How 'bout going on British soil and making your charges, Mr. Coleman. If your afraid of British laws regarding defamation, how about go on Fox and issuing your charge, Mr. Coleman.

Coleman knows Galloway has already won one defamation case regarding the exact same charge. He also knows here in America he can hide behind Congressional Immunity and issue his smear and the compliant American media will not call his sorry ass out on his pathetic, chicken-shit tactic.

Much Respect Due

Rosa Parks has passed.

To Spin the Vote in Ninevah, You Must Start With Diyala

With partial vote counts trickling out of Iraq, the issue of Ninevah has risen to the forefront. Today we get a 97% "no" vote from Anbar and an 82% "no" vote from Salahuddin; numbers that remain consistent with all earlier reports from these provinces. But in the same report we also get word that Diyala, by the narrowest of margins, provided a 50% "yes" vote with the result from Ninevah once again being delayed.

One thing that seems to be generally agreed upon is that there are more Sunnis in Ninevah than Diyala but not as many in Ninevah as in Salahuddin. Thus, given how the vote is almost completely breaking on ethnic and religious identity, one would expect the result in Ninevah to be somewhere in between that in Salhuddin and Diyala. Those two provinces are being viewed as the goalposts for the result in Ninevah.

We know the initial results given for Ninevah (78% "yes) and Diyala (70% "yes") were fraudulent. In the middle of last week, a new effort to provide a more sophisticated spin appeared with reports that Ninevah had a 54.6% "no" vote and Diyala also had a 54% "no" vote.

These nearly identical results make no sense given the general view that Ninevah has many more Sunnis than Diyala. Not surprisingly then, we get the third goal post shift with a report now that Diyala had a 50% "no" vote. No doubt the Ninevah number is being delayed to allow this number to set in so as to ultimately justify a "no" vote in Ninevah that is more than the Diyala number but less than that needed for the veto.

The so-called "Independent Election Commission of Iraq" has proudly declared that there was no evidence of fraud with regard to vote. Yet, this is a laughable assertion which certainly proves the Commission's complete lack of independence. Certainly the initial vote results given for Ninevah and Diyala were fraudulent. The delays and fluctuating numbers from the two battleground provinces of Ninevah and Diyala also would given any reasonable person pause as to a belief in the legitimacy of this process. Ignoring these fact taints the legitimacy of the election, and worse, serves to bolster the arguments of the few extremists, including the terrorist Zarqawi, who unsuccessfully argued for a boycot of the election.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Weekly College Fotball Picks (or Makin' Money with Macswain)

Take your choice --- Bush or Macswain.

If you invested in a stock package that closely folows the Dow during the Bush years, you'd have negative growth over nearly five years.

I say give me 5 weeks instead.

After going 5-0 last week, I've upped the season record to an astounding 15-7 against the spread. I'm waiting for Vegas to call with my seven-figure contract. If you had bet $1,100 per game (I'm no pussy so I calculate for the "juice") on my picks, you would've needed a $6,600 investment to make all the bets I've recommended and you currently would be up $7,300. That's a 110% return on your investment over the course of 5 weeks of betting.

Let's keep it going.

Take Michigan and the 2.5 points at Iowa.

Give the 4 and take 'Bama at home against the Volunteers.

The Oregon State Beavers keep rolling by covering the 9.5 points they get at UCLA.

Take Virginia and the 1 point they're getting at North Carolina.

Take the 6 points Auburn is getting at LSU.

Faces of Racism

Bubblegum Pop for White Nationalists.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bug Man!

Nineveh: The More Sophisticated Vote Count Still Doesn't Add Up

Paging the New York Times: Just because Condi wants you to simply presume the Iraqi Constitutional Referendum passed does not mean you should. Here's what real journalism looks like.

Gareth Porter at IPS provides an excellent breakdown of the vote count in Ninevah. First, he breaks down the obvious duplicity of the Election Commission's first reported count of a 78% "yes" vote.

Porter then gets the latest numbers from an identified U.S. Official (its always good to know our guys are ankle deep in this shit). Maj. Jeffrey Houston claims the final totals for the province were 424,491 "no" votes and 353,348 "yes" votes, or a 55% "no" vote.

Now, if they chose to cover this story, this would be the end point for the likes of a Dexter Filkins or Edward Wong. After all an American - and more, an American from yhthe military said it, so it must be so.

However, this is just the beginnng for our man-with-a-brain Gareth Porter. He actually does some investigative journalism regarding this claim and goes behind the numbers.

Here's his report on the latest numbers:

They knew that all eyes would be on Nineveh as the province where the referendum would be decided. By issuing figures that appeared to show that the vote in Nineveh was a runaway victory for the constitution, they not only shaped the main story line in the media that the constitution had already passed, but effectively discouraged any further media curiosity about the vote in that province.

The final figures revealed by the U.S. military liaison with the IECI suggest a voter turnout in Nineveh that strains credibility. On a day when Sunni turnout reached 88 percent in Salahuddin province and 90 percent in Fallujah, a total of only 778,000 votes -- about 60 percent of the eligible voters -- in Nineveh appears anomalous. Even if the turnout in the province had only been 70 percent, the total would have been 930,000.

The final vote totals suggest that the Sunnis, who clearly voted with near unanimity against the constitution, are a minority in the province. It is generally acknowledged that Sunnis constitute a hefty majority of the population of Nineveh, although Kurdish leaders have never conceded that fact.

A total of 350,000 votes for the constitution in the province is questionable based on the area's ethnic-religious composition. The final vote breakdown for the January election reveals that the Kurds and Shiites in Nineveh had mustered a combined total of only 130,000 votes for Kurdish and Shiite candidates, despite high rates of turnout for both groups.

To have amassed 350,000 votes for the constitution, they would have had to obtain overwhelming support from the non-Kurdish, non-Arab minorities in the province.

According to official census data, before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Assyrian Christians and Sunni Arabs accounted 46 percent of the more than 350,000 people on the Nineveh plain. Most of the others are Shabaks and Yezidis. Kurds represented just 6 percent of the population.

But the Kurds have asserted political control over the towns and villages of the plains, with a heavy Kurdish paramilitary and Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) presence. That Kurdish presence provoked widespread opposition and some public protests among non-Kurdish communities on the plains, especially Christians and Shabaks.

Assyrian Christians are particularly afraid the constitution's article 135, which divides the Christian community into Chaldeans and Assyrians, will be used by Kurds to expropriate their lands and villages in North Iraq.

Michael Youash, director of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project in Washington, has spoken with Assyrian Christian leaders in two district towns, Bakhdeda and BarTilla, on the Nineveh plain where Christians represent roughly half the combined total population of more than 100,000 people.

He says Assyrian Christian political organisations mounted big demonstrations against the constitution in both towns, and that their local leaders are sure that very high percentages in both towns voted against the constitution.

In response to an e-mail query, Maj. Houston, the U.S. military liaison with the IECI, said, "It was my understanding that the Christian communities would be opposed to the constitution," but he dismissed the suspicions of vote fraud in the province.

Saleh al-Mutlek, one of the Sunni negotiators on the constitution last summer and now a leading opponent of the constitution, told reporters, "There is a scheme to alter the results" of the vote. He alleged that members of the Iraqi National Guard had seized ballot boxes from a polling station in Mosul and transferred them to a governorate office controlled by Kurds.

A former U.S. military liaison with the Nineveh province IECI has confirmed a similar incident of seizure of ballot boxes from a polling station during the January elections.

According to Maj. Anthony Cruz, Kurdish militiamen tried to bribe local electoral commission staff to accept ballots that had obviously been tampered with. Cruz also confirmed a much larger ballot-stuffing scheme by Kurdish officials in the province, as reported by IPS in September.

On Monday, the Electoral Commission announced that it would conduct an audit to examine the high "yes" vote, but it is not clear that it will include the results in Nineveh.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Say It Ain't So

There's a report out tonight that American soldiers were filmed burning two dead Taliban fighters and using the charred corpses as part of a propaganda campaign.

Unfortunately, this will remind people of the desecration of the American contractors in Fallujah which so justifiably outraged many people around the world.

That American soldiers would act this way magnifies the under-reported story of the increasing death toll of American soldiers in Afghanistan. The number will almost certainly exceed 100 this for the first time during that war. Given we have approximately 10,000 troops in Afghanistan and approximately 135,000 in Iraq, an American soldier, one might be surprised to learn, is actually at a greater risk of death in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

So much for Condi's suggestion today that we ought to make Iraq more like Afghanistan.

Why The Delay on the Iraqi Vote Count?

While much of the media has gone mum on the vote count regarding the referendum on the Iraqi Constitution, there is this one report from Thomas Wagner of the Associated Press which has begun to turn the focus on the votes in Ninevah and Diyala; where the initial voting reports were certainly fraudulent.

But why the slower than expected vote count? Officials now say results won't be announced until "Friday at the earliest." Certainly even counting by hand, the vote totals in Ninevah and Diyala could be completed in a number of hours. I suspect the proponents of the Constitution who certainly are running the elections commission already know the results and are looking for the most sophisticated way to package those results.

What is the most despicable and most overlooked part of this story is Condi Rice's quick pushing of the notion that the Constitution had passed so that the American media and public would come to accept that as fact even before the "actual" vote could truly be determined.

Perception trumps legitimacy and truth in America. However, such misdirection is certainly being noted by the Sunnis and only serves to exaccerbate the insurgency.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Indictments Are Coming on Plame Affair

The New York Times has a piece up tonight that Fitzgerald has told associates he will not issue a report on the Plame affair.

There is only one reasonable conclusion ... indictments are going to be issued. It's no longer if, but who.

The possibility that Fitzgerald would not issue indictments and also not issue a report is simply incomprehensible after all the time, effort and public expense of the investigation and especially given the fact that he chased Congress off its own open investigation of the affair.

Election Officials Move Attention to Anbar to Shift Spin

CNN has posted the latest on the investigations into "voting irregularities" during the Constitutional referendum in Iraq. Notably, the mainly Sunni province of Anbar is for the first time being specifically mentioned due to its high percentage of "no" votes. Ninevah and Diyala still remain unmentioned. It appears that the latest strategy (strategy #3) appears to be to admit to ballot box stuffing by all ethnicities but claim it was all inconsequential or a wash.

All these shifting PR strategies just further detract from the legitimacy of this vote. But who though the group runningt this vote had much credibility to begin with given that just a week before the election the "government" wanted the term "voters" to mean two different things in the same provision.

Where are the international monitors? Where are U.S. leaders who now claim our soldiers are dying at a rate of more than 2 a day to bring democracy to Iraq?

Condi Rice oddly and prematurely claimed victory for the Constitution on Sunday (though, in doing so, she played the Bushie gamme of using words meant to create an impression but which later could be retreated from). What the U.S. and our media are really doing is saying: "SSSHHHH ... don't tell anyone that we are paying for and our soldiers are dying for faked votes and new thugs."

How Best to Damage Your Chances for Confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, Part 1

Call the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee a liar.

Hee hee hee

More On Ninevah

The initial report out of Ninevah was:


• Yes: 326,774, (78 percent)

• No: 90,065, (21 percent)

• Disqualified votes: 2,965 (less than 1 percent)

• Votes counted: 419,804 votes, from 475 of the 500 polling stations counted so far. (Turnout percentage unknown.)

These numbers were laughable given the demographics of this province.

The numbers have now dramatically changed in this latest report from Juan Cole in which an election official has given the count as a total of 778,000 votes cast with 442,000 for "no" and 353,000 for "yes." This leaves a 57% no vote which still achieves the goal of the electoral officials of saving the Constitution from veto.

However, given the now obviously fraudulent initial numbers, who is going to believe the election officials? Who is not going to believe that they are simply looking for a more sophisticated lie?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Nineveh Is Arabic for Florida

With two Sunni dominated provinces - Anbar and Salaheddin - having seemingly rejected the Iraqi Constitution by more than the requisite 2/3 "no" vote, much attention is now being focused on the other two Sunni dominated provinces - Nineveh and Diyala - from which the preliminary numbers were bizarrely in favor of the Constitution by a landslide.

Concerns of fraud are rising steadily regarding the vote in Nineveh.

UPDATE: Chris Bowers at My DD has more on Iraq's little problem with the vote in Nineveh.

Judith "Scarface" Miller: "I Always Tell the Truth, Even When I Lie"

Other than things that could be or might be independently verifiable, Judith Miller just does not seem to be able to recall the critical facts regarding her nefarious involvement in the outing of Valerie Wilson as an undercover CIA operative. Obviously, claims of "I can't recall" are extremely difficult to prove as untrue. Yet, we can - as we did during Watergate and other past scandals - examine the nature of the claim and, in fact, reach the conclusion that the person using the Sgt. Schultz defense is really being disingenuous. Such is the case with Pulitizer Prize winning reporter Judith Miller.

One example of her duplicity is particularly is telling. In her notes for June --- the same notes that apparently contain her "forgotten" conversation with Scooter Libbey --- she writes the notation "Valerie Flame" in her notebook. She claims she doesn't think Scooter gave her this name and claims she can no longer recall - given the passing of two years - who even might have given her the name. However, as Kevin Drum points out, the two year claim is complete bullshit, and she really only had to remember this source for, at most, one week.

I would also add that any reasonable person, and especially a journalist, would include the name of the source with the note of the info if, in fact, the source was someone you might easily forget. Especially since Miller's claim of a privilege is based on her assertion that she was actually writing a story on these matters.

We also see just how far Miller is willing to go into the tank for her neocon benefactors when she agrees to refer to Libbey as a "Former Hill Staffer." Its a characterization that is not demonstrably untrue but is obviously misleading. Yet, this piece of evidence may be their undoing. Why the unusual ID (Libbey typically was IDed as a Senior Administration Official) unless you knew what you were divulging was especially sensitive.

The whole thing reminds me of how the Bush Administration spun imminent threat and the other WMD follies using the Tony Montana playbook - "I always tell the truth, even when I lie."

Hardly coincidental that the Bushies and Miller share the same playbook.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Macswain's Weekly College FB Picks

I'm 10-7 on the season against the spread, but this week is filled with tough picks that tamps down my usual cockiness.

USC vs. Notre Dame is, of course, the Big Game this week. USC will win on the road but not by more than the 12 point spread. Put your $$$ on the Irish.

After that, the selection of great games is pretty slim. Penn State goes to Ann Arbor where they are 3.5 point underdogs to an inconsistent Michigan. After last week's upset win over Ohio State, I'm a now believer that Penn State has one of the top 5 defenses in the country. Take Penn State and the points.

LSU is a 6 point favorite at home against Florida. Florida let me down against Bama, but look for the Gators to step it up and make this one a close game that's decided by 3. Take the points.

For the odd pick of the week, I'm going to go with Oregon State to not lose by the 16 point spread at Cal. OSU seems to have a good enough offense to keep from getting blown out, if not to actual make it a close game.

On the other side of a 16 point spread, look for Georgia to give Vanderbilt a thorough drubbing.

Here are the spreads.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Read the speeches Howard Dean gave before the Iraq war, and compare them with Colin Powell's pro-war presentation to the U.N. Knowing what we know now, it's clear that one man was judicious and realistic, while the other was spinning crazy conspiracy theories. But somehow their labels got switched in the way they were presented to the public by the news media.


Josh has the latest on Bush's gamed phone conference with the troops this morning.

Silliness & The Iraqi Constitution

We are less than 48 hours away from the voting on the Iraqi Constitution and the whole spectacle has just become silly. Distribution of the draft Constitution only started a week ago. One wonders whether everyone entitled to vote has even seen the draft much less had an opportunity to analyze it and debate it.

Now we learn that the Constitution has been changed in four respects, one being that it will be open to revision. WTF? How can a vote on a document changed within days of that vote be considered legitimate?

Certainly this is the result of widespread worries that the Sunnis would vote this down; an event that certainly would be a PR blow to President Bush.

To avoid this, an agreement was reached that Bush could trumpet to the media as including the Sunnis. In fact, the deal only included the Iraqi Islamic Party, which, while Sunni, is not the most influential such group and is indeed a group that seeks its power as being the middle man between the Shiites/Kurds that control the government and the Sunnis leading the insurgency. Most notably, the deal they struck only has teeth for the IIP if the insurgency continues so as to create pressure for the real revisions the Sunnis desire (most notably, a change in the provision governing oil distribution).

The determination that has been made is that a gamed Constitution is better than none. Yet, in fact, it will not make any difference. This is just more grasping at straws. The Sunni insurgency will undoubtedly continue and the consolidation of power by Shiite fundamentalists in the South and Kurds in the North will strengthening with each of those two continuing to engage in human rights abuses against those who stand in their way.

What's most depressing is that the Bush administration continues its policy of gaming short-term solutions rather than facing up to the long-term problems. This tells the Iraqi such games are legitimate and there's no doubt that - just as we saw with the attempt to redefine the term "voters" two weeks ago - the Iraqis in power will continue to view democracy as a mere slogan as opposed to a legitimate form of government.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Downward Creep: Bush Tax Panel Brings Out Old Friend For Halloween

Through his tax reform panel, Bush is floating tax hikes in the form of reductions to the home mortgage interest deduction and a cap on the deduction an employer receives for providing employee health care benefits. The Daily Kos has an excellent breakdown of these nnspecific tax reform items.

The initial marketing campaign for these proposals is to suggest that they will only affect the rich and not the middle class. Not true for the health insurance cap which is close to what employers now pay on many employees comprehensive health care packages. Once the cap is exceeded, the cost of the coverage increases to the employer thereby decreasing the incentive to provide comprehensive coverage and making it more problematic to provide coverage at all.

More importantly, these proposals are based on numbers that unless annually adjusted will result in a downward creep that will ultimately engulf the middle class. As an example, one only need look at how the alternative minimum tax is casting a greater net year by year.

If the media were to use the standard they applied to John Kerry, it would be screaming --- TAX HIKES. But even without that explosive rhetoric, I find it extremely unlikely that Republicans in our Republican-led Congress are going top be signing up for this program, especially just before an election year.

One thing this issue does expose is the fallacy that Bush is a leader. He has obviously formed this panel to float ideas for popularity before signing on to them. The only issues in which he even attempts to show leadership on are those with huge payouts for his political benefactors but not for the American people, e.g. Social Security reform.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Rites of Fall

Ahh ... Fall. My favorite season. The colors are changing, the air is crisp and, yesterday, I took the family to the pumpkin patch.

Ahh .. yes, and two other great rites of Fall have just occurred. Once again, we all celebrated the annual elimination of the Atlanta Braves and New York Skankees from the baseball playoffs.


Pro Bono Bullshit


Those watching the Roberts confirmation hearings will recall witnesses extolling the nominee's "pro bono" work while at the silk stocking firm Hogan & Hartson. "Pro bono" of course is free legal work for the poor.

Many lawyers who represent people rather than corporations devote much of their professional lives to "pro bono." They make their livelihoods taking the case of the little guy who got screwed, but can't afford to pay the lawyer. Such lawyers often don't get paid what they should, either because the client could only afford a fraction of what the lawyer's nominal hourly rate might be, or else the entire case was undertaken on the contingency that there would be some sort of recovery. Such lawyers often have modest incomes and lifestyles.

On the other hand, there are mega-firms like Hogan & Hartson (Roberts' firm) and Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely (Harriet Miers' mega-firm in Dallas). These firms represent corporations--really big ones. At Locke Purnell, Miers' leading clients were Microsoft Corp., Walt Disney Co., and Republic National Bank. Such firms love to tout their "pro bono" programs.

I doubt you'll hear the names Republic National Bank or Microsoft at Miers' upcoming confirmation hearing. I'll guarantee, however, that you'll hear much about the "pro bono" work Miers did at Locke Purnell.

During Roberts' recent confirmation hearing, while wintesses were extolling the nominee's "pro bono" work at Hogan & Hartson, I couldn't get my mind off of his financial statement. Soon after the nomination was made public, the NYT had linked to Roberts' official financial disclosure form showing a net worth of about $5 million (he's heavy into mutual funds). Not bad for a guy who spent a good chunk of his career as a government lawyer, and a testament to just how lucrative it is being a partner in a prestigious mega-firm.

With far more years as mega-firm partner, Miers' soon-to-be-released financial statement undoubtedly will put Roberts' numbers to shame. Remember that statement when the witnesses and senators start extolling Ms. Miers' "pro bono" work at Locke Purnell.

And ask yourself why lawyers who represent human beings--and who make up the bulk of real "pro bono"--seldom get nominated to the Supreme Court.

If Only the New York Times Applied the Same Standard to Republicans

The NYT does a hit piece on James Lee Witt today.

There is no doubt the high ranking administration officials in both parties bounce back and forth between public service and high paying private work. The most important inquiry is whether the private largesse is being received as some past reward or future payment for the provision of beneficial governmental action. There is no suggestion that this is the case for Witt and, indeed, despite the implication contained in the headline and lede paragraph of the article, Witt is actually doing more than one would normally expect in avoiding excessive profiteering from his work (Is the NYT suggesting he pought to be working for free?). He has cut his fee almost 50% for his Hurricane Katrina work with the State of Louisiana and he has also severed ties with a lucrative client in Allstate.

The NYT could write this same piece with worse facts 50 times a day regarding Republicans, and would actually do us all a greater service if it looked at the conflicts issue throughout those circumstances.

Instead, it seems Arthur Sulzberger is content on turning the NYT into more of a piece of shit everyday given its continuing Judith Miller garbage and the Jodi Wilgoren (aka "Spongebrain NoFacts") creationism story.

UPDATE: Armando at the DailyKos also has an excellent piece up about the NYT's chicanery regarding Judith Miller's "newly discovered" notes.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Back to Basra

The New York Times returns to Basra despite the murders of its contributer Stephen Vincent and its journalist Fakher Haider in a piece meant to show that the NYT will not be intimidated (well, at least not by thugish Iraqis).

The police forces in Basra have been massively infiltrated by the various Shiite militias intent on strict enforcement of Islamic mores. The worst of the lot is the Jameat who are purported to be using torture and murder as political tools.

The piece once again exposes the myth that Iraq is being turned into some western-styled, democracy-loving country. What we're really achieving is a changing of the thugs. Not something I'm willing to give my life or money to, much less the lives of others.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Macswain's College FB Pix

Penn State steps up to play a tier 1 team this week. Not only will the Nittany Lions lose, Ohio State will beat the 3.5 point spread.

I can't remember a Texas/OU game with a 14 point spread. Nonetheless, I'm picking another favorite. Texas will win by 17.

The two most even match-ups this week are Tennessee/Georgia and Cal/UCLA. Since Georgia is a 3 point underdog, I'll take them & the points. On the other coast, UCLA needed some late magic to beat Washington last week. Cal is better than Washington and won't allow for any late heroics from UCLA. Take Cal and the 1.5 points.

Another great Pac 10 match-up features Oregon at Arizona State. The Ducks will give the Sun Devils a better game than most expect. ASU will win late but won't cover the 10 point spread; bet Oregon.

It's a wekend filled with huge-spread games. USC, Miami and Virginia Tech are favored to win by 38, 35 and 34.5, respectively. My normal view is to stay away from the big spreads. However, I just can't see Marshall losing to anybody by more than 34. Va Tech will beat Marshall big, but not by more than the spread.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Just When You Thought It Couldn't Go Lower

Bush's approval rating drops to 37%.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

You Can't Say They Didn't Warn Us About This If We Allowed Gay Marriage

Rumors Are A Swirlin'


The greatest photoshop ever.

It is inconceivable to me that, at least, Scooter won't be indicted. Fitzgerald got what he wanted out of Judith Miller and I can't believe he would have gone to that length unless it led to an indictment.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Retaking What We Were Never Told Was Taken

ABC posts this story about how we are about to launch a military strike in Iraq to "retake" three towns from the insurgents.

Yet, the big story here is that the fucking towns were ever taken in the first place. I guess the media missed that due to their need to cover the reopening of a vending machine in the Green Zone.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Gaming The Iraqi Constitution

Yesterday, I learned that copies of the draft Iraqi Constitution have yet to be printed and distributed to the people, though it is scheduled to be voted on in 12 days.

After gamed elections in January (in which the people weren't even told the identities of the candidates for whom they were voting and which involved a lot of overlooked evidence of fraud), the Shiites and Kurds have aligned again to rig the vote on the Constitution. They have quietly changed the rules under voters could veto the Constitution if in at least 3 provinces 2/3 of the people who turned out voted against it. The rule now requires 2/3 of all eligible to vote in a particular province to vote against it. These champions of a Constitutuional democracy know 2/3 of the eligible voters won't even turn out for this vote.

Thus a procedure that was meant to protect minority rights and ensure a Constitution that protected all the various peoples of Iraq has been stripped of its legitimacy. The Iraqi Constitution is nothing more than a power play by the Shiite and Kurdish factions and its implementation will further exacerbate the Civil War.

Good job, George. Those you've helped to power care about as much about a real Constitutional Democracy as Saddam did.

No, Tino & Clarence, I Said 24-Hour Fitness, Not the 24-Hour Drive-Thru

Halloween Comes Early At The White House

I Didn't Know There Still Were People Named Harriet

President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the US Supreme Court calling her a pit bull in size 6 shoes. And I know as much about her as I do about your average pit bull.

So Bush helped us out. She believes in "the rule of law" and the "cause of Justice," he said. She will not legislate from the bench, he assured. Yada yada yada. It's the kind of introduction you could make for any breathing person using catch phrases that have become canned and altogether meaningless.

So I looked to the media on my quick ride to work and found NPR doing yeoman's work for Bush by starting off its coverage of Miers with the fact that she gave $1,000 to Al Gore in 1988. Awful cheap price to appear even-handed especially given that the powers that be in Texas at the time were Democrats. Absent was any analysis of how Miers views the great issues of the day that would come before her as a Supreme Court Justice.

So is Miers qualified? No. I believe the Senate's power to consent to this appointment is the people's check on the President's power to make a decision that will affect us for decades. I believe candidates should have records from which they can be judged and should be fully forthcoming as to their views regarding past Supreme Court decisions. She fails horribly on the first count.

The tougher question is, from a political standpoint, do liberals take an unknown over knowns like Michael Luttig, Priscilla Owen or Janice Rodgers Brown. Do we breathe a sigh of relief and hope she is a pragmatist as opposed to an idealogue?