Yesterday, author Mark R. Probst noticed that Amazon has been pulling the sales rank numbers from many LGBT books. When Probst wrote to Amazon about the issue, he received this response:
In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.
Hundreds of Nebraskans chanted no taxation without representation in protest of increased government spending spawned by the stimulus bill at the state capitol Saturday
The tea party style protest is intended to mimic Revolutionary War era protests where citizens believed they were being unfairly taxed.
Here in Washington DC, your humble blogger and about 600,000 other people are living and paying taxes to a United States government that does not allow us to elect representatives to congress. Whether you think that’s fair or not, what we’re doing is paying taxes without representation. The 1.8 million Nebraskans are very much represented in congress. There’s Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, Rep. Lee Terry, and Rep. Adrian M. Smith in the House of Represenatives along with Senators Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns. Indeed, with a mere 0.6 percent of the nation’s population, Nebraska gets to elect fully 2 percent of the Senators. If anything, Nebraskans have taxation with overrepresentation.
You’ve probably read this already elsewhere, but the captive captain of the Maersk Alabama has been rescued and three pirates killed. Good news and good work.
Hopefully this will help tamp down some of the pirate-related hysteria of last week. With Somalia in chaos, it’s very hard to really eliminate piracy. And it’s hard to know how Somalia can be made unchaotic. But that situation presumably won’t last forever, and the international community is doing a decent job of bringing force to bear on the problem at sea.
I’m on the train right now and so it occurs to me to point out that even though we normally think of rail corridors in terms of their major anchor points in some ways it’s the intermediary ones that are most valuable. You can always fly from DC to NYC if you need to, but absent the steady service on the Northeast corridor there would really be no reasonable way to get from, say, Hartford to Wilmington. The availability of good rail connections amount to help keep those smaller cities viable as centers of business.
In February, only three Republican senators broke party ranks to vote for the economic recovery package. Zero House Republicans voted for passage. Part of their opposition centered around the belief that an increase in government spending would do nothing to create jobs:
– “And first off the government doesn’t create jobs. Let’s get this notion out of our heads that the government creates jobs. Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job. Small business owners do, small enterprises do. Not the government.” [RNC Chairman Michael Steele, 2/2/09]
– “Instead of focusing on three major issues — job creation, housing and compassion for Americans who have lost jobs through no fault of their own — to boost the economy, this bill has morphed into a bloated government giveaway.” [Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), 2/10/09]
– “When it comes to slow-moving government spending programs, it’s clear that it doesn’t create the jobs or preserve the jobs that need to happen.” [House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), 1/21/09]
However, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced plans to end production of the F-22 at the current 187 planes — down from the 381 planes the government was expected to order — many of these same conservatives were up in arms over the jobs that would be lost.
Chambliss, in particular, said that he was concerned people in his state would lose jobs if F-22 production was cut, because “when it comes to stimulating the economy, there’s no better way to do it than to spend it in the defense community.” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who also voted against the economic recovery package, similarly said, “I also believe that it is unacceptable that this administration wants to eliminate 2,000 jobs in Marietta and potentially 95,000 jobs nationwide at a time when unemployment rates are rising across the country.”
Today on ABC’s This week, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called out this hypocrisy:
KRUGMAN: What’s so wonderful is watching Republican congressmen saying, “But this will cost jobs!” The very same Republican congressmen who were denouncing the stimulus, saying government spending never creates jobs, but cutting defense spending costs jobs. It’s wonderful.
Military correspondent David Axe has pointed out that it’s possible very few workers will lose their jobs because of Gates’s announcement. In fact, thousands of workers will likely be “snapped up for active production lines churning out F-16s, F-35s, C-130s and modernized C-5s for Lockheed, not to mention the prospect that industry rivals Boeing and Northrop might lure Lockheed workers for their own active production lines for the F-15, F/A-18 and others.”
CNN reports that Capt. Richard Phillips, the head of the Maersk Alabama who has been held captive by pirates off the Somali coast since Wednesday, was freed today. Phillips is “uninjured and in good condition, and that three of the four pirates were killed. The fourth pirate is in custody. Phillips was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, a nearby naval warship.”
Reporting from The Murray-Darling Basin, Australia — Frank Eddy pulled off his dusty boots and slid into a chair, taking his place at the dining room table where most of the critical family issues are hashed out. Spreading hands as dry and cracked as the orchards he tends, the stout man his mates call Tank explained what damage a decade of drought has done .
“Suicide is high. Depression is huge. Families are breaking up. It’s devastation,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ve got a neighbor in terrible trouble. Found him in the paddock, sitting in his [truck], crying his eyes out. Grown men — big, strong grown men. We’re holding on by the skin of our teeth. It’s desperate times.”
A result of climate change?
“You’d have to have your head in the bloody sand to think otherwise,” Eddy said.
This LAT story is one of the most powerful pieces of climate change journalism to appear in a major U.S. newspaper. It is the climate story of the decade, literally — and if we don’t reverse course soon, it will be the story of the century, if not the millenium — for America and the world.
I have a little sympathy for the view that it’s a little bit unseemly when you see members of the Obama administration badmiuthing their predecessors. The fact that the Bushies an Fox News types doing the criticism are hypocrites is noteworthy but doesn’t totally answer the objection. The larger issue is that this sort of context-setting wouldn’t be nearly as necessary if the press would do the appropriate context work themselves.
It should be obvious that problems like the collapse of the global financial system, years of systematic neglect of Afghanistan, and a new global skepticism about the merits of American leadership are going to have a lot of momentum behind them and it’s not worth criticizing a new administration for failing to turn the whole thing around in three months. But since that courtesy and basic good sense largely hasn’t been extended, I don’t see what alternative the new team has but to be a bit rude and push back aggressively. This is especially true when one considers that Karl Rove and Dick Cheney have decided to serve as high-profile anti-Obama surrogates rather than doing the normal thing and laying low.
Last week on Hannity, former Florida governor Jeb Bush implored Obama to stop criticizing his brother’s legacy. “If I had one humble criticism of President Obama, it would be to stop this notion of somehow framing everything in the context of, ‘Everything was bad before I got here,’” said Bush.
Today the panelists on Fox News Sunday discussed these comments, and whether Obama is out of bounds by invoking his predecessor’s failed policies. Even Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said that it’s normal for presidents to blame current problems on their predecessors. “The Democrats blamed Herbert Hoover for everything for about 20 years, and the Republicans blamed Jimmy Carter for everything for quite awhile,” said Kristol.
When NPR news analyst Juan Williams then pointed out that President Bush and his administration officials also often blamed the Clinton administration for their problems, Fox News’s Brit Hume jumped in and said, “There was very little of that”:
WILLIAMS: This is just politics. That’s what you do. You blame your predecessor and you do it for as long as possible because it buys you time. And even after 9/11, all the Bush administration officials were pointing out, “Hey, what about that Bill Clinton? Why didn’t he do a better job with getting the terrorists when he had the opportunity?”
Nobody organized this country or the international community to fight the terrorist threat that was upon us until 9/11. … We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida. For instance, big pieces were missing, like an approach to Pakistan that might work, because without Pakistan you weren’t going to get Afghanistan.
In a speech on Aug. 30, 2005, Bush said that three out of his four predecessors — excluding his father — didn’t respond sufficiently to crises, which emboldened terrorists and led to 9/11:
They looked at our response after the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa, and the attack on the USS Cole. They concluded that free societies lacked the courage and character to defend themselves against a determined enemy. … After September the 11th, 2001, we’ve taught the terrorists a very different lesson: America will not run in defeat and we will not forget our responsibilities.
On the domestic front, Bush and his advisers also repeatedly said that they “inherited a recession” from Clinton.