The House voted 253-168 to approve legislation on military commissions that authorizes torture and strips detainees of the right to challenge their detention. Also voted down was a measure by Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) which called for an expedited judicial review of the constitutionality of the commissions, and required the bill to be reauthorized in three years to ensure congressional oversight in evaluating the effectiveness of the commissions. The Senate is expected to approve nearly identical legislation tomorrow.
were at their highest level in any given week, with half of them targeting security forces” reports the Pentagon. CNN notes that “it’s now believed that insurgents alter their tactics about every three weeks, changing how they place the bombs, and how they detonate them.”
The Dow Jones is currently at 11,689 points. Today on Fox News, Neil Cavuto featured a segment on whether the Dow’s strength is the result of President Bush’s tax cuts.
Bush’s tax cuts don’t have anything to do with the strength of the Dow. Here are the facts:
– A 2005 study by four Federal Reserve Board economists “fail[ed] to find much, if any, imprint of the dividend tax cut news on the value of the aggregate stock market.” According to a Wall Street Journal article, the study concluded that Bush’s tax cuts were “a dud when it came to boosting the stock market.”
– Analysts at the Tax Policy Center found that the link between capital gains tax rates and stock market growth is “weak” and capital gains have historically risen with “little apparent effect on the stock market.”
If you haven’t read Michael Lewis’ “Ballad of Big Mike” in The New York Times Magazine you really ought to stop reading this blog and go read the article. It’s a longie but a goodie that, like the best feature writing out there, leaves one pregnant with somewhat inchoat thoughts on the matter. I will say that I think concerns voiced by Ezra Klein and Jason Kottke about how the various adults depicted treat Mike are kind of off-base. In essence, they’re concerned that Mike’s autonomy isn’t being respected. And, it’s true, it isn’t. And I also think the anti-paternalist biases of contemporary liberals exist for some pretty good reasons.
Then again, it’s called “paternalism” for a reason — this is how you’re supposed to treat children. Mike’s a kid — 16 years old — at the start of the saga, and with a level of mental development more like you would expect from someone quite a bit younger. There’s a lot more to be said about this article, and I’ll have to say it later if ever, but this particular thing isn’t really what should trouble us.
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), the lead sponsor of the constitutional ban on gay marriage in the House, spoke this weekend at the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Summit.” (Other virulently anti-gay speakers were featured at the event.)
Musgrave declared that gay marriage “is the most important issue that we face today.” She told the audience that “when you’re in a cultural war like this, you have to respond with equal and hopefully greater force if you want to win,” and warned that the “future is grim” if gay marriage is not banned. Watch it:
Nine of the 11 annual laws that fund government agencies have not yet been passed by the current Congress. A long list of critical national security legislation remains unresolved. And yet, thanks to hard-right members of Congress like Musgrave, Congress wasted time this session debating fringe issues like gay marriage, flag burning, and repealing the estate tax.
Full transcript: Read more
McClatchy news service reports today that the Pentagon has drafted a report “charging that U.S. international broadcasts into Iran aren’t tough enough on the Islamic regime,” an indication that elements within the administration continue to push for a more confrontational policy toward Iran:
The report appears to be a gambit by some officials in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s office and elsewhere to gain sway over television and radio broadcasts into Iran, one of the few direct tools the United States has to reach the Iranian people.
These efforts are being coordinated out of a new “Iran Directorate,” which has been compared to the Office of Special Plans, the controversial intelligence analysis unit established before the war in Iraq that provided cherry-picked intelligence to Rumsfeld and the White House.
U.S. broadcasting officials who have read the Iran Directorate’s report say it is “riddled with errors” and a “thinly veiled” attack on Voice of America and its charter, which states that “VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive.”
McClatchy notes that veterans of government broadcasting “say that not even during the Cold War – with the exception of the 1956 uprising in Hungary – did such news organizations as the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty call for the overthrow of adversary governments. Rather, they said, they serve as sources of objective news and models of how democracies operate.”
Kevin Drum has more.
– Kindra Wilson
the “most media-hyped environmental issue of all time” in a speech yesterday on the Senate floor. Gristmill writes that Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) “comes off like nothing so much as an assiduous right-wing blogger who’s spent hours in his Cheeto-scattered basement combing the net for every rumor, half-truth, and slander he can find.” Read more about the speech’s inaccuracies here.
“Why,” asks Jeffrey Herf “would Roger Cohen, or the leaders of the Council on Foreign Relations think Ahmadinejad has not meant what he has said in public?”
Of all the alleged lessons of Munich, surely this is the dumbest one. What Herf has in mind here are Ahmadinejad’s statements about Israel being wiped off the map. But Herf certainly isn’t proposing to extend this “assume foreign leaders are always telling the truth” principle to Ahmadinejad’s claims that Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful. And Herf is right not to extend it, but simply because it’s a dumb principle. Nothing in the actions — present or historical — suggests a desire to wipe Israel off the map that extends to a willingness to commit national suicide while trying. Similarly, Iran’s actions suggest a desire to either build a nuclear bomb or to create the capacity to build one very rapidly, primarily in order to deter the more powerful militaries (Israel, US, Pakistan) in Iran’s neighborhood.
Monday on Fox News’s Your World With Neil Cavuto, Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) said that Sunday’s New York Times story on the new National Intelligence Estimate and the ensuing public discussion are “putting lives in danger” because terrorists are monitoring “these satellite broadcasts.” Additionally, terrorists are monitoring and utilizing “political posturing” and “cheap shots” in the blogosphere “to their own advantage.” Watch it:
Hayworth’s comments reflect similar statements that the right-wing has repeatedly used to discourage media criticism. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently stated that the terrorists are “manipulating the media” to turn Americans against the war in Iraq.
Full transcript below: Read more
Mike Tomasky to step down as Executive Editor of The American Prospect. Will swop titles with current Editor-at-Large Harold Meyerson.