and I don’t believe it corrupted him.” — North Carolina State Rep. Drew Saunders (D), arguing that a $200 gift-reporting requirement for legislators from non-family members was too low.
CNN just reported that President Bush’s new job approval rating is at 36 percent, suggesting it was “a bounce for President Bush.”
But this isn’t a bounce. Bush’s early May approval rating was 34 percent. Each poll has an error of +/-3 points, meaning Bush’s numbers haven’t changed at all.
Is the media really this desperate for Bush’s approval rating to rebound?
Last night on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow defended his use of the phrase ‘tar baby’ during his press conference on Tuesday. The expression is “used occasionally as a derogatory term for black people,” according to Random House, and “some people suggest avoiding the use of the term in any context.”
Snow told Hewitt his use of the phrase was completely innocent, but that it would no longer be part of his “toolchest of rhetorical devices”:
Well, apparently, what’s happened is, apparently some people are unfamiliar with the pathways of American culture, and don’t realize the old Uncle Remus story where somebody hugs a tar baby. …
I’ve decided, though, because it’s a classic case of, I think, somebody trying to sort of pick a fight. I’ll probably take that out of my toolchest of rhetorical devices, rather than having to explain a hundred and fifty years of American culture.
Some high-profile conservative bloggers have helped defend Snow over the term. Kevin Aylward of Wizbang, for example, claimed that Toni Morrison’s use of the phrase for one of her novels was evidence that ‘tar baby’ isn’t commonly used as a racial epithet:
Is the term used as a derogatory term for black people? Occasionally, yes. Is more commonly used otherwise? Absolutely, as Kim Pearson’s examination details. In fact Toni Morrison has a Nobel prize winning novel tittled Tar Baby, which was a modern take on the fable.
Actually, Toni Morrison has explained her thoughts on the term:
Tar Baby is also a name, like “nigger,” that white people call black children, black girls, as I recall”¦. At one time, a tar pit was a holy place, at least an important place, because tar was used to build hings”¦. It held together things like Moses’ little boat and the pyramids. For me, the tar baby came to mean the black woman who can hold things together.
Apparently Toni Morrison is ignorant of how the term has actually been used in American culture.
on anti-gay constitutional ban. During a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) “declared his opposition to the amendment” and walked out. “If you want to leave,” committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said, “good riddance.” “See ya,” Feingold replied.
UPDATE: Feingold statement: “Today’s markup of the constitutional amendment concerning marriage, in a small room off the Senate floor with only a handful of people other than Senators and their staffs present, was an affront to the Constitution. I objected to its consideration in such an inappropriate setting and refused to help make a quorum.”
This morning, Gen. Michael Hayden was asked at his nomination hearing about whether he was comfortable with the Bush administration’s pre-war attempts to link Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Watch his answer to Sen. Carl Levin’s question:
LEVIN: Secretary of Defense for Policy, Mr. Feith, established an intelligence analysis, so within his policy office at the Defense Department. While the intelligence community was consistently dubious about links between Iraq and al Qaeda, Mr. Feith produced an alternative analysis asserting that there was a strong connection. Were you comfortable with Mr. Feith’s office approach to intelligence analysis?
HAYDEN: No, sir, I wasn’t. I wasn’t aware of a lot of the activity going on, you know, when it was contemporaneous with running up to the war. No, sir, I wasn’t comfortable.
What Hayden makes clear is that, despite Bush’s assertion that the pre-war intelligence process “broke down,” the false intelligence about Iraq’s connection to al Qaeda was intentionally fabricated by political leaders, not intelligence analysts. Feith, Wolfowitz, and others in the Pentagon set up a stovepipe “to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership” to make the case for war. Hayden and other intelligence experts got steamrolled when it mattered most.
During a late session last night, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) made a stunning claim on the House floor:
Well, folks, if you earn $40,000 a year and have a family of two children, you don’t pay any taxes. So you probably, if you don’t pay any taxes, you are not going to get a very big tax cut.
While someone with a $40,000 salary and a family of four paid little or no federal income taxes last year, Hastert ignores various other taxes paid by all Americans — payroll taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, etc.
Consider payroll taxes, which go to paying for Social Security and Medicare. Assuming their entire $40,000 in salary came from wages, this family paid $3,060 (7.65 percent of $40,000) in federal payroll taxes last year. (Note: The employer also contributes this amount, but most economists “believe that the portion of the payroll tax paid by the employer is borne by the worker.”)
Hastert, who earns a hefty $212,010 a year salary, doesn’t seem to understand that families across America are facing higher health care costs, mortgage payments, and gas prices. And yes, they also have to pay their taxes.
Yesterday, the Competitive Enterprise Institute – a front group funded by ExxonMobil and other big oil companies – launched two advertisements in response to Al Gore’s new movie, An Inconvenient Truth.
The first ad portrays global warming science as a vicious smear campaign against carbon dioxide. The ad, which despite appearances is not an SNL parody, helpfully reminds us that carbon dioxide is “essential to life” because “we breath it out.”
It’s comforting to know that this is the best global warming rejectionists can come up with. There are plenty of things that are healthy and essential in reasonable quantities but harmful in extremely large quantities. (For example, drinking a few glasses of water is beneficial. Drinking 10 gallons of water can kill you.) We need some carbon dioxide, but too much causes global warming.
The second ad repeats the “carbon dixoide is our friend” theme but adds a new wrinkle. It attempts to show that the scientific evidence for global warming is in dispute, claiming a study found “Greenland’s glaciers are growing.” (Watch the second ad HERE)
Actually, the study (by Johanessen et al.) found that there was an increase in snow accumulation on Greenland’s interior. Meanwhile, other studies show that glaciers are thinning on Greenland’s coastal regions. This is exactly what you’d expect as the earth gets warmer. The climate scientists at realclimate.org explain:
However, Johanessen et al. were not able to measure all of the coastal ranges. Indeed, the thinning of the margins and growth in the interior Greenland is an expected response to increased temperatures and more precipitation in a warmer climate. These results present no contradiction to the accelerated sliding near the coasts
Expect more of this kind of deception from the right as An Inconvient Truth hits theaters on May 24.
New Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi acknowledged the true impact of the Iraq war: “We consider the war and occupation in Iraq a grave error that hasn’t solved – but has complicated – the problem of security. “¦ Terrorism has found a new base and new excuses for internal and external terrorist action.”
James Tobin, a senior official in President Bush’s re-election campaign, was sentenced to 10 months in prison yesterday for his role in suppressing votes in a key U.S. Senate race. The scandal may involve the White House. U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe said, “It was a direct assault on a free and fair electoral system. We’ll never know if the wrong people are sitting in government because of this effort.”
Fighting intensifies in Afghanistan: “Heavy fighting involving several hundred Taliban fighters and Afghan and coalition forces in southern Afghanistan killed about a dozen police, a Canadian soldier and more than 30 militants.”
After 16 months of inaction, the House ethics committee will begin bribery investigations into Reps. Bob Ney (R-OH) and William Jefferson (D-LA). Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) will escape scrutiny from the committee because he will be leaving Congress next month, breaking Chairman Doc Hasting’s (R-WA) Apr. 2005 pledge to investigate the former House Majority Leader.
The Senate yesterday passed immigration amendments that would “build 370 miles of triple-layered fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border” and would require all native-born and immigrants workers to “submit their names to two huge federal databases to verify their legal status before taking any new job.” Read more