High gas prices? My congressman has a plan — blame Democrats

My representative in Congress, the Hon. John R. “Randy” Kuhl, R-N.Y., has sent me a four-color brochure labeled “Energy Report.” It is by far the most misleading document I’ve ever received from a member of Congress.

It deceives his constituents by offering only illusions of and false hopes for much-cheaper gasoline. But he’s not alone. He promotes a Republican-pushed bill that falsely promises salvation — and soon — from $4 a gallon gasoline.
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Confronting our inner vigilante

Is taking justice into your own hands ever justified? (Part 1)

If you’re not from New York, the name Bernard Goetz may not ring a bell. The expression “subway vigilante” might though.

In 1984, four young men surrounded Goetz, a geekish electronics repairman, in a New York subway car. They wielded no weapons, but one of them demanded $5.

Goetz, who had been mugged once before, interpreted the exorbitance of the figure, as well as their threatening posture, as the prelude to another mugging. Continue reading

Nota Bene #29 Part 1 of 2

Got hot links if you want ‘em!

In a post titled “Why Johnny Can’t Google,” Rafe Colbun blogs about John McCain’s indifference to computers: “It’s tempting to. . . assume that. . . old guys just aren’t computer users. [But] in 1997 I worked for an IT consulting firm [among whose] clients was the George [H.W.] Bush Presidential library. [Part of our job was] setting up email accounts for President Bush and his friends (folks like Brent Scowcroft), generating PGP keys, and teaching them how to use them. President Bush has a good 12 years on John McCain, and he had his own laptop, email account, and PGP key ten years ago.” Continue reading

Creationism to be allowed in Louisiana schools

When it comes to religion and faith, everything is inherently subjective, not objective. Simply put, there is no way for the adherents of one faith to know objectively that they’re faith is right and that another faith is wrong. Additionally, there’s no method of determining an objective truth, and because most religions lack any ability to reconcile with the incompatible beliefs of other faiths, conflict becomes inevitable. Religion tells its adherents what the supposed truth about reality is, but can offer no objective proof thereof.

There exists a process that can determine, objectively and without the need for blind faith and revealed “truth”, how reality really works. The name of that process is “science.” It’s because science claims to be able to discover how reality really functions, without the need for – and yet without demanding the lack of – religious dogma, that many believers have felt so threatened by science that they have sought to inject their creation stories into scientific classrooms. Unfortunately, the state of Louisiana has now become the next battlefield in the ongoing science vs. dogma and evolution vs. creationism conflict. Continue reading

Saturday Video Roundup: Fußballmusik

Wow – imagine my surprise at discovering that the German language has a word for music!

Ahem. As you no doubt are aware, Euro2008 crescendos tomorrow afternoon as Spain and Germany meet in the final. In honor of the summer’s premier athletic competition (well, until the Olympics start, anyway), SVR today presents the music of the four semi-final nations, along with some brief explanation as to why a nation’s music tells us a lot about their soccer teams. Continue reading

All is fair in Leningrad and war—Review: City of Thieves by David Benioff

In an attempt to capture his grandfather’s memories from the besieged Russian city of Leningrad during World War Two, David Benioff stumbled upon something especially liberating: creative license.

“I questioned [my grandfather] about various details—names, locations, weather conditions on certain days,” Benioff recalls, explaining his quest for accuracy.

But his grandfather told him to stop. “It was a long time ago,” he admitted. “I don’t remember what I was wearing. I don’t remember if the sun came out.”

Benioff stammered that he wanted to get it right.

“You’re a writer,” his grandfather said to him. “Make it up.”

And so he did. Continue reading

Charlie Black plans terror attacks in key swing states

After critics questioned the appropriateness of John McCain’s chief strategist, Charlie Black, saying a terrorist attack on American soil would benefit his candidate, yesterday Black took that notion one step farther.

Appearing on Today, Black told co-host Matt Lauer, “With Wednesday’s Quinnipiac University poll showing Senator Obama leading in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, we’ve redoubled our efforts regarding terror attacks here at home, from mere wishful thinking to targeted planning.”

Lauer asked, “Just to be clear, you’re not suggesting you’re involved in orchestrating attacks on these states?”

“No, I’m not suggesting that, Matt. I’m telling you flat-out, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida can expect to be hit by the McCain campaign sometime between now and Election Day. Continue reading

Paint it tan

by Djerrid

Democrats have had some success painting McCain as an older, grumpier version of W. But Republicans have had a harder time trying to stick a label on the unique phenomenon known as Obama. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying.

As part of S&R’s spotlight on racism, we bring you the über anti-tax Grover Norquist, who calls Obama “John Kerry with a tan.”

Obama with a farmer's tan

Quotabull

I don’t have pet peeves. I have major, psychotic hatreds.

— George Carlin, who died early this week at age 71; June 23
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Let's kill a child … for Jesus!

In our most recent S&R poll, readers were asked the following: Two children of a family belonging to the Followers of Christ Church have now died after “faith-healing” was chosen over medical treatment. What do you believe authorities should do?

The results looked like this:

  • Pursue appropriate criminal sanctions. Religion is no defense for child endangerment. (75%, 101 Votes)
  • Nothing. These kinds of cases fall under the absolute right to freedom of religion. (25%, 33 Votes) Continue reading

Texas to Supreme Court on historic gun ruling: bless your little hearts

By Ann Ivins

Generally, a combination of ladylike reticence and consideration for the insecurities of my fellow bloggers prevents me from mentioning the great state which I call home. Extraordinary circumstances, however, have at last overcome my scruples. In the light of today’s Supreme Court ruling forbidding states, cities and municipalities from forbidding handgun ownership, and before Scalia and company begin ostentatiously flinging sidearms to a cheering populace, I feel it is my duty to point out the leadership role of the land of my birth. In the fight to uphold the blessed Second Amendment of the Constitution of these here United States, Texas has always been a shining beacon of hope to the teeming masses who struggle for their God-given right to own unlicensed semi-automatics and carry a Colt .45 in any diaper bag.

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The Weekly Carboholic: Dr. Hansen twenty years later

carboholic

Twenty years ago, on June 23, a scientist relatively unknown outside his field went before the Senate to give testimony about the greenhouse effect. Dr. James Hansen, of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Sciences (GISS) and Columbia University, went before Congress this week to tell the government and the country again what they didn’t want to hear – that human civilization was responsible for heating up the Earth’s climate and that we had only so much time before our activities shoved the climate, and possibly our own civilization, irreversibly over a metaphorical cliff. Continue reading

Roberts court continues to dismantle campaign finance reform

Expect the average net worth of a member of Congress — now about $1.5 million — to take another leap upward. That’s because five members of the Supreme Court decided that wealth, as speech, cannot be regulated. In doing so, the Roberts court continued to dismantle the “fairness” logic of past congressional attempts at campaign finance reform by labeling such reforms as censorship.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to allow candidates facing self-financing, wealthy opponents to accept larger-than-normal contributions. This decision will decrease the number of financially viable congressional candidates.
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The sainted "people"

Most Democrats in the two houses of Congress balk at initiating impeachment proceedings against President Bush. We assume it’s because, like a woman living with a rageaholic husband, they prefer to let their Republican colleagues lie as if they were sleeping dogs.

Is there something else that Democratic senators and members of the House of Representatives are afraid of? Perhaps they fear that impeaching the president might stir up buried shame on the part of many who voted for Bush. Americans already brought down their wrath on the administration in the 2006 election, as well as in polls. Rub any shame on their part about being “low-information voters” in their face and they just might kill the messengers. Continue reading

For Exxon, delay saves big bucks in Valdez spill

Nearly two decades after the Exxon Valdez ran around on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, the U.S. Supreme Court has taught Exxon (now ExxonMobil) and corporations everywhere a lesson:

Don’t pay off legal judgments. Stall, stall, stall for 19 years.

Courts have held that Exxon must pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages for spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil that soiled 1,200 miles of Alaskan coastline. In 1994 a jury found Exxon Valdez captain Joseph Hazelwood and Exxon to be reckless. Hazelwood, who had been drinking before the single-hulled tanker hit the reef, had left the bridge as the vessel faced a difficult turn. The jury awarded $287 million in compensatory damages and originally $5 billion in punitive damages (later halved by another court).

But Exxon shouldn’t have worried. The business-tilted Court whacked the already-reduced $2.5 billion by four-fifths.
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S&R goes mobile

Mobility is a big deal, with more people getting their news and entertainment via mobile devices like PDA and web-enabled phones. We here at S&R get that, and tonight we’re happy to announce that the site has been upgraded so we’re easy to read on your mobile device.

Next time you’re away from your desk but you’re jonesing for your S&R fix, point your mobile browser our way and check us out.

A progressive for our times

Let’s say this guy was running for president on a third-party ticket:

  • proven track record for getting country out of wars
  • strong foreign policy diplomat who forged stronger relationships with powerful developing (and enemy) nations
  • implemented the first significant federal affirmative action program
  • dramatically increased spending on federal employee salaries
  • organized a daily press event and daily message for the media
  • oversaw first large-scale integration of public schools in the South
  • advocated comprehensive national health insurance for all Americans Continue reading