Saturday, May 6


By the time we get rid of these blustering Bushie bullies, it just might be.

Instead of hunting down and rooting out the stateless terrorists, we've attacked a sovereign nation that posed no threat to us, we're now cage-rattling about attacking a second (Iran), and the chickenhawks are threatening Russia and China as well.

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This could be captioned, "One of America's most attractive couples enjoy life after surviving Bushleague attacks."

$2.5 million for a memoir about "her actual role in the American intelligence community, as well as the prominence of her role in the lead-up to the war."

Should be fascinating reading.

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It's not much cause for rejoicing that Porter Goss has resigned if he's just going to be replaced by former NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden, Negroponte's go-to guy.

The man doesn't know the Constitution and defends the illegal NSA spy program by saying that it doesn't violate the "unreasonable search and seizure" clause of the Fourth Amendment because in his view the program is "reasonable" -- he's reportedly ignorant of the fact that the measure of "reasonableness" is PROBABLE CAUSE.

Putting this guy in charge of human intel (which is still largely the province of the CIA) makes me distinctly uncomfortable. Remember when it was illegal for the CIA to spy on Americans within our borders?

In 1947, when Congress voted to create the CIA as part of the National Security Act, there was great concern about whether the CIA could operate in the United States and against Americans.

Congress wanted to assure the public that this agency would not lead to the growth of a secret police. Responding to these suspicions, Dr. Vannevar Bush, an administration witness, explained that the agency was concerned only with intelligence "outside this country," and not with "internal affairs. To make sure, Congress wrote into the ClA's charter that the agency was prohibited from exercising "police, subpoena, or law-enforcement powers or internal security functions." Congressional debate made it clear that Congress anticipated that the CIA would simply not operate at home.

Two years later, with the passage of the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, congressional apprehensions were again calmed by the assertion that the CIA had no jurisdiction within the United States, that it "has no connection with the FBI; it is not under the FBI, it does not do the same kind of work as the FBI. These public assertions, however, did not coincide with the ClA's secret growth of operations within the United States and the surveillance of Americans abroad.

Because of the public uproar that would have ensued if the agency had openly expanded its domestic operations, the CIA wrote its own secret charter. Through internal directives, executive orders, and pacts with other government agencies, the CIA expanded its authority to operate at home so that it eventually encompassed activities that unquestionably violated the law, as well as its congressional charter.

From the beginning, CIA justified its involvement in domestic activities in terms of supplementing its covert operations and intelligence gathering abroad. As was discussed in Chapter Two in detail, the CIA created an intricate system of front organizations and companies to provide cover for its clandestine work. It set up its own airlines and business firms, and formed dummy foundations to funnel secret money into domestic student groups, educational publications, and labor unions. Recruiting its agents from almost every sector of the private domain, the CIA turned students, missionaries, and journalists into spies abroad. The agency also used its authority to protect its "sources and methods" to justify spying on Americans in the United States.

Expect more of the same with Hayden as DCI.

Marc D. Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, said the nomination would be strongly opposed by civil libertarians.

"We have to confront the chilling prospect that the incoming head of the C.I.A. believes it's permissible to conduct warrantless surveillance on the American public," Mr. Rotenberg said Friday night.

The upside, of course, is the opportunity that Congressional confirmation hearings on his nomination would bring to delve into the illegal NSA domestic spy program.

UPDATE: Time has more. "His nomination is sure to reignite the battle over the program on Capitol Hill, where one House Democrat promises 'a partisan food fight' during the confirmation process."

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Friday, May 5


Correspondent Elaine Quijano is reporting on Wolf Blitzer that the reason for Porter Goss' departure from the CNN stems from a difference of views over policy between him and super-chief of intelligence John Negroponte. "Goss’s departure was anything but a surprise – there were sharp differences between Goss and Negroponte," she said. Negroponte wanted changes including moving functions from the CIA to Neg’s group, Goss pushed back, and Bush sided with Negroponte.

Former acting director and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency John McLaughlin said, "The danger is we could have revolving door directors, which is seldom a good thing."

On Hardball, Norah O'Donnell said she was puzzled that the word is that Goss "wasn't a team player," when he was the hand-picked choice of Bush. Michael Isikoff said that there has been friction and turmoil ever since Goss went to the CIA, but the freaky thing is the suddenness of his resignation. He says that suggests that something "came to their [Bush administration] attention in the last few days" that pushed it over the edge. He said the Dusty Foggo-Duke Cunningham connection may have nothing to Goss's tenure at the CIA, but Goss was Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee for most of that time, and the contractors who were at the center of the investigation were seeking contracts with the CIA, so there may be something in that.

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As encouraging as the latest polls are, I fear that we could face another 2000 or 2004 -- in other words, a stolen election. Bill Schneider is saying now on CNN that voters may take their anger out on Republicans during the mid-term elections, but that will not matter if the Rethug conspiracy to control voting is allowed to continue. This may be the most important issue confronting us, for if "one man, one vote" no longer holds, democracy is circumvented.

Despite the pollster's claims that the Republicans are in deep trouble in the coming elections, they will win again if attention is not paid to the way they conduct their election business. It is business to them -- power means profits -- and profits buy more power. It will take an aroused and enlightened electorate to make certain that the past is not prelude to the future. As a recent convert to the notion of a conspiracy, I pass on this warning in my best conspiratorial manner. Watch out! And look under every rock. The bad guys are determined to win again, and they will if the people do not understand the danger our democracy faces from them. Psst! Trust me on this.

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Why we blog: Outrage fatigue.

I just love PSoTD:

Imelda Marcos' Closet
Porter Goss resigns. How many shoes are about to drop?

Emphasis mine. Brilliance, his.


Well, if Congress won't investigate aggressively the Bush administration's approval, and use, of torture, then the United Nations will.

U.S. State Department lawyer John B. Bellinger III, who led the U.S. delegation at Friday's hearing, defended Washington's commitment to its international obligations and read prepared answers to written questions submitted in advance from the committee in writing.

He said the delegation was unable to answer all questions because much of the information relates to intelligence activities.

But Andreas Mavrommatis, chairman of the committee, said he could understand that intelligence matters needed careful treatment, "but they are not excluded" from scrutiny.

"If during intelligence activities there is a violation of the convention, it's our duty to investigate them and your duty to answer," Mavrommatis said.
The committee is demanding the U.S. explain why it established secret prisons, what rules and methods of interrogation it employs, and whether U.S. President George W. Bush's administration assumes responsibility for alleged acts of torture committed by American agents outside U.S. territory.

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It was pretty funny listening to the disappointing jobs report on the radio this morning just minutes after I'd watched CNN gushing about the 210,000-230,000 expected and how Dubya would surely be wanting to trumpet the great news about the economy and take credit for it.


I expect it's because embarrassing details about Goss's involvement with the Watergate scandal are about to emerge.

Former Rep. Bob Barr agreed with Turner's speculation and added, "I think there's going to be more coming out, we don't know the whole story."

"This is a devastating blow, the importance of which really cannot be overestimated," Barr told CNN. "It indicates again a continuing downward slide in the intelligence capabilities of our government, it indicates again the disorganization on the part of our intellingence agencies at a time when we can ill afford to see that happen."

It doesn't strike me as devastating. Perhaps with Goss gone, the drain on experienced CIA leaders might cease, and reporters can sleep nights again.

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Thursday, May 4


The wingnuts are screaming about Rep. Patrick Kennedy (RI) not being given a sobriety test after he crashed into a barrier in his Mustang early this morning. They're crying, "Special treatment!"

Now I'm not one who favors any kind of special treatment because of the prestige of a man's name or position, but it's funny they didn't have the same attitude about Dick Cheney not being given a sobriety test after SHOOTING A MAN IN THE FACE and his being allowed to delay questioning about the incident until the next DAY. Cheney admitted drinking; Kennedy denies it.

For the record, Kennedy didn't hurt ANYONE.

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It was priceless listening to 27-year CIA veteran intelligence analyst Ray McGovern putting it to Don Rumsfeld at a speech in Atlanta today. Rumsfeld flatly lied by saying he never said we knew where the WMD were -- Ed Schultz played the clips of Rummy saying just that.

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The wingnuts are screaming: Fry him! It's another case, like Iraq, of wanting someone to pay for 9/11, even if it's the wrong someone.

Siva Vaidhyanathan and I have been asking the same question. Why is Zacarias Moussaoui the only one who's been tried for the 9/11 attacks?

Somewhere in a secret prison sits Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the mastermind of the attacks. Our government could bring him to trial either here in the United States or in the Hague. It could use the trial to demonstrate not only the terrible hatred that drives Al Qaeda to murder so many innocents around the world. It could use a trial to reveal the depth and breadth of the ideological threat that we face in coming years. It could show how we can avoid such vulnerability in the future. A Khalid Sheik Mohammad conviction would be deeply meaningful and satisfying.

Best of all, it could demonstrate to the world that despite so much recent evidence to the contrary, the United States is a nation of laws and its governmental agents are not above either our laws or international laws. They whole world thinks we have given up on the concept of justice. We could use a decent trial to show otherwise.

The reason we have not done this may be very disturbing: in our haste to be brutal and stupid, we almost certainly tortured Mohammad, rendering him unconvictable in any decent court in any decent country. We have also held him and hundreds more for more than three years without counsel, without facing charges, without a chance to respond to accusations, and without even allowing their families to know that they are in custody.

So basically, we are unable to try the real killer, even though we know who he is and we have him in custody.

UPDATE: Mark Kleiman has more:

1. When Moussaoui was captured, there was some thought that he was centrally involved in the 9-11 plot.

2. Later it was discovered that he wasn't.

3. It was decided to put him on trial anyway, because we needed someone to try.

4. The central plotters (other than bin Laden) are all in U.S. custody, but they haven't been tried and won't be tried.

5. Top people on the President's staff (Gonzales) and the Vice President's staff (Addington) decided to authorize waterboarding and related methods of "aggressive interrogation" as applied to the top plotters.

6. Having tortured them, the Administration can't now put them on trial without having their defense lawyers put the facts about their maltreatment on the official record.

(Isikoff didn't add that, if the plotters were tried in civilian courts rather than by military tribunals, it would be almost impossible to convict them, since not only would evidence obtained under duress be excluded, but so would anything learned as a result. So the government would have to prove, with respect to each piece of evidence, that it hadn't been obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of torture.)

So, in effect, the major plotters aren't being tried in order to cover up decisions made at the very top of the Bush Administration. Instead, the government tried to send a bit player to the death chamber, and the jury refused to go along.

Read to the bottom to get to Mark's idea for what we should do.

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Wednesday, May 3


Are they nuts?

Last night on Hardball Howard Fineman and Chris Todd told Chris Matthews that the current administration was all "war on terrorism" and tax cuts, "and that's it." They should have added to the latter "for the rich" and qualified the former as "Iraq."

Tuesday, May 2


Re the ridiculous flak over the recording of the National Anthem in Spanish, Xpatriated Texan points out an interesting factoid: seems a Spanish language version of “The Star Spangled Banner” was commissioned by the US Bureau of Education in 1919. It's archived in the Library of Congress.

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C&L: Homeland Inspector General says he was pressured to "tone down" criticism of Bush before election

A half million dollar party for airport screeners?

Last week I was stopped at the Kansas City airport on my return flight to Dallas/Fort Worth because it was discovered I had a miniature (approximately 1") Swiss Army knife in my oversized purse. I haven't used it in so long (usually for the tiny scissors or the fingernail file), I had completely forgotten it; it was buried at the bottom of my always-overstuffed bag, but the KC screener caught it.

The thing is, I've probably passed through airport security upwards of two dozen times with the knife in my bag -- I certainly passed easily through both D/FW and KC airport security on my outward bound flights. I had no objection whatsoever to the screener taking it away from me -- that's his job, and I was only embarrassed that I could be so careless.

But what are we spending $500,000 celebrating?

UPDATE: Saw this guy Clark Kent Ervin on CNN this morning being interviewed by Soledad O'Brien. He made it clear in no uncertain terms that although Tom Ridge never explicitly asked him not to forward his adverse reports to Congress, it was plain from his words that he was trying to intimidate the man into doing just that. Ervin said several times Ridge asked him, "Are you my Inspector General or not?" to which Ervin replied, "I'm the public's Inspector General."

Ervin is a conservative Republican and says he ordinarily doesn't advocate spending more of the government's money, but that if Hong Kong can inspect 100% of the containers coming through its ports, so can the U.S. He said the U.S. is vulnerable to terrorists at virtually every point. "The terrorists know everything that is in my book -- it's the American people who don't." Scary stuff, responded Soledad. There's more here.

Ridge "was trying to get me not to give things to Congress and also to try to spin reports in a way most favorable to the department, and I resisted both of those," former Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin said in an interview.
Ervin said that when he told Ridge that the inspector general served the public, the former Pennsylvania governor replied, "I had an IG in Pennsylvania and he didn't release things to the Legislature or to the press."

Ervin said he answered: "But I do here. I have a reporting obligation" to Congress.

Ervin said the meeting "was two hours of 'Why are you doing this? Why are you being negative to the department? Why are you releasing reports?' It was a long come-to-Jesus meeting, angry and confrontational. I just spent the whole time trying to educate him about the role of the inspector general."



What else can we do to make the situation worse? We're spending American tax dollars in Iraq to train recruits for the militias.

As Mikevotes says, "Our Iraqi Army is Sadr's Iraqi Army."

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Buck Batard at Bad Attitudes points out how the Rethugs have financially handicapped American youth:

“We’ve never done this to a generation of young people before,” said Dr. Heather Boushey, Senior Economist at the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research. “We’ve never put a generation in their 20s in debt they can’t get out of before they started their work life.”

“The normal approach in any healthy society is to help young married couples get started in life through marital gifts, dowries, and the like,” Allan Carlson of the socially-conservative Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society said.

“We now burden many young adults with student debt, sometimes massive in nature; the price being paid includes marriages delayed or foregone and fewer children. This is foolish public policy.”

What are these folks from the left and right side of the political spectrum talking about? The cost of college and the resultant student loans are making college unaffordable for a whole generation of young people. Democrats have tried to take some of the sting out of the cost of college, but once again, George Bush and his band of merry Republican thieves feel no shame in making you, or your children, pay more and more. The alternative? Just don’t get an education, thus adding more slave labor to the cheap labor pool for big business. As Harry Truman once said: “most Democrats vote for the people, and most Republicans vote for special interests”. Not much has changed since then, except for the fact that the Republicans are helping the company store make a comeback.

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Monday, May 1


How LOW can he GO? Friends of mine are planning a happy hour when he sinks below 30%, and I believe it's entirely possible.

The latest USA TODAY/Gallup poll has Bush approvals at 34%, a 2% drop from his previous low.

Since 1950, there have been six times when presidents had Gallup approval ratings below 50% in the spring as their party sought to keep control of Congress. The president's party lost House seats in all six years, ranging from five in 1968 to 54 in 1994.

Some specific poll results:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president? Answer: 34% approve, 60% disapprove.

If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party's candidate would you vote for in your Congressional district? As of today, do you lean more toward the Democratic Party's candidate or the Republican Party's candidate? Answer: 54% to 39% in favor of Democrats.

Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of them. (a) George W. Bush Answer: 39% favorable, 60% unfavorable. (b) Dick Cheney Answer: 34% favorable, 62% unfavorable. (c) Donald Rumsfeld Answer: 37% favorable, 57% unfavorable. (e) The Republican Party Answer: 36% favorable, 58% unfavorable. (f) The Democratic Party Answer: 48% favorable, 45% unfavorable.

On the issues, do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling --

Terrorism: 48% approve, 50% disapprove; The Economy: 34% approve, 64% disapprove; Iraq: 32% approve, 66% disapprove; Immigration: 26% approve, 64% disapprove; Energy: 22% approve, 71% disapprove.

We may finally be greeting a Great Awakening on the part of the American public. I wonder how long it will take the press to catch up.

UPDATE: CBS has him at 33%. (Via Atrios.)

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I typed down as much as I could, as quickly, of David Schuster's blockbuster report tonight on the Plame-Wilson-Rove story on Chris Matthews' Hardball, but I was interrupted several times, so it's just excerpts:

Schuster: White House supporters are stepping up their argument that unveiling Wilson’s identity was not a crime. Joe Wilson’s response?

Joe Wilson: “Well, the CIA I think has responded first by asking the Justice Department to open an investigation, and in my judgment the leak of national security information is a betrayal at a minimum of … national security clearance and certainly of the public trust, and I for one cannot understand why Mr. Rove remains on the payroll of the U.S. government.”

Schuster: … “It seems that Rove’s memory perks up with every indication that someone will expose him…MSNBC has learned new information about the damage caused by White House leaks. Intelligence sources say that Valerie Wilson was part of an operation three years ago tracking the proliferation of nuclear weapons material into Iran. The sources allege that when Mrs. Wilson’s cover was blown, the administration’s ability to track Iran’s nuclear ambitions was damaged as well. The White House considers Iran to be one of America’s biggest threats.

Madeleine Albright: The world is in total turmoil right now… the worst I’ve ever seen it.

Schuster: How do we get out of it? What’s the number one issue related to that turmoil?

Albright: Iraq.

Schuster: The Iraq war is the backdrop for the CIA leak case.

We already knew much of this, but this is the first time I'm aware that it's been stated outright on mainstream media. Up till now the traditional media has made more of a story about the legal ramifications for Libby and Rove ... perhaps now they will focus on the damage to national security resulting from the malicious, politically inspired destruction of an essential intelligence resource. Maybe NOW this outrage will get the attention it deserves from the general voting public.

UPDATE: The video is here. Incidentally, aren't Mr. and Mrs. Wilson a fantasic-looking couple?

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Putting lipstick on a pig.

It's time for the White House to go on offense and "get our mojo back." Josh Bolten said Sunday in his first interview since taking over as the president's chief of staff.

Bolten made no promises of pulling up President Bush's all-time low approval ratings, but he said he and Bush have decided they want to be more open with the media and the public.

Nonsense. This administration is notoriously the most secretive in history. When Bush decides he wants more open government, he can start by telling the truth to the American people instead of threatening to jail journalists for doing so. He could also hold a few open town hall meetings where he confronts those who disagree with him instead of staging photo op gatherings where only members of his loyal base are permitted to attend.

"We've taken advice from a lot of folks that we ought to put the president out more in ways that the American people can see what he's really like," Bolten said on "Fox News Sunday."

Uh, Josh, you might want to rethink that one. When the American people get to see what Dubya's really like, they find they don't like him at all.

Bolten added that it is vital that the White House communicate effectively about the importance of the fight against terrorism so Americans will support the mission.

Americans support the fight against terrorists. What Americans DON'T support any longer is the big diversion called the invasion of Iraq.

"He doesn't necessarily change his mind, but there's no penalty internally for disagreeing with the group or with the president," Bolten said. "But I say internally, because he's very much a CEO, and when he makes a decision, then everybody within the White House should salute and get in line, at least publicly, with that decision."

At least until they retire, eh?

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Sunday, April 30


Watching United 93 was a unique experience. The half-empty theater was completely silent -- not a sneeze, not a squeak of a chair throughout, and the audience filed out at the end in total quiet. Real-time action circled among the plane to air traffic controllers to the FAA to military. The intensity of the anxiety being displayed on the screen saturated every moment. I was often aware of tears rolling down my cheeks but I didn't know how tense I was until I got up to leave and found my legs were like rubber, I was slightly dizzy and very nauseous.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I've yet to hear anyone else describe their reactions to the film as being other than renewed hatred for the terrorists. As for me, I was angry and fiercely depressed. Why oh why did it take so long to scramble a military response that day; where were all the fighters? As one desperate major cried out, how could there only be four planes available on the entire eastern seaboard? Why did it take so long to contact the president or vice president to get permission for a shootdown? But most of all, why did our leaders divert attention from the task of rooting out the planners of these heinous acts? What the hell were they thinking, invading Iraq instead of pursuing Al Qaeda to the ends of the earth? Four and a half years later not a single person responsible for 9/11 has faced an American court.

What does it take to rouse Americans' sense of outrage? This administration has corrupted our deepest values and pandered to and encouraged our ugliest instincts. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have declared themselves above the law, have violated the Constitution and Bill of Rights, have flouted international conventions that define just war and humane treatment of prisoners, have scrapped decades of progress in civil liberties at home, have sculpted policies that have increased the ranks of the poor and uninsured and mortgaged our children's and grandchildren's futures... and our biggest worry is higher gas prices.

Conventional wisdom has said for years now that the acts of the passengers on United 93 have left a legacy in that no Americans will ever again surrender to a hijacking, they will fight the terrorists next time. I believe that may be true, and I laud their courage as I weep for their innocent lost lives. But where's that fighting spirit when it comes to the destructive path that Bush and Cheney have taken us down for the past six years? The terrorists hate us, granted, but they're our enemies. Have we no outrage to share when our very own leaders seek to destroy our most enduring institutions, our national unity, our respect among the world's nations?

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Stephen Colbert was brilliant last night at the White House Corrrespondents Association dinner, and I couldn't be more pleased that Dubya was finally exposed to some pointed reminders of just what he's brought upon this country and the world. It was also gratifying to see the sick expressions on some of the correspondents' faces as Colbert told them just what so many of us think of their craven performance of their duties during this administration.

But unlike others, I didn't think it was particularly funny. When you tick off one by one the grievances we have against this president (and time constraints didn't permit Colbert to list them all, only a select few) and his administration, the effect is so depressing it holds little opportunity for humor.

It's easier for me to laugh, as I did just a few minutes ago, at Bush's malpropisms and mangling of the English language -- my little grandson was playing with my Bush doll, which speaks some of Dubya's more ridiculous remarks. I'm reminded of what Robert Heinlein wrote in Stranger in a Strange Land: "Man is the animal that laughs." And why does he laugh? "Because it hurts so much." That doesn't go far enough, I think. Sometimes it hurts so much you just CAN'T laugh.

Maybe that's what some of the correspondents were feeling.

FURTHER THOUGHTS: I had to roast a colleague of mine a couple of months ago who was being forcibly retired at a very young age, and I got a lot of laughs. The subject of the roast laughed as loudly and heartily as anyone there. But then, I was joking about his personal idiosyncrasies, his love of fast cars and boats, his hair stylings, his speech patterns (he was always saying every five minutes, "Are you following me?" etc.). If I'd tried to poke fun at the times he made disastrous business decisions it wouldn't have struck anyone as so very humorous, since the company and thus all of us in attendance suffered because of them. It would have been TRUE but not funny. That's what I felt watching Colbert skewering Bush and the press corps.

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Remember the "bridges to nowhere" earmarked for Alaska? I bet you thought they were defeated. I know I did. Well, they're still going to be built.

This is really a terribly interesting and informative article. Read the whole thing.

News accounts focused almost exclusively on the highway bill's earmarks, as if the rest of the bill was non-pork. But those earmarks, while unprecedented, cost less than 10 percent of the overall bill. Most of the money went directly to the states, and as the story of the bridges to nowhere shows, sending money to states is no guarantee it will be spent wisely. Earmarks were just part of the bill's larger public policy problem: Instead of addressing the problems of the cities and suburbs where most Americans live, such as traffic, smog, lousy mass transit and dilapidated roads and bridges, it will subsidize sprawl by promoting new highways in sparsely developed areas -- roads to nowhere, so to speak.

That's what most states do with their federal funding, as the Brookings Institution has documented in recent studies. Thirty states have laws prohibiting the use of gas-tax revenue for anything but highways, and federal rules make it much easier for states to finance highways than transit; it's no coincidence that on Capitol Hill the transportation bill is known as the "highway bill." Members of Congress who want to promote light rail, buses or any other transportation options often have no choice but to turn to earmarks.

Most states also have strong biases toward building new roads instead of repairing old ones -- all politicians love to cut ribbons -- and spending in rural as opposed to metropolitan areas. Ohio, for example, distributes gas-tax revenue to all its counties equally, so rural Harrison County (population 15,000) receives as much as urban Cuyahoga County (population 1.4 million). The result is billions of dollars for speculative sprawl roads -- like the bridges to nowhere, whose stated purpose was to expand development into relatively pristine areas of Alaska.

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John Kenneth Galbraith dead at 97. He was a man I greatly admire, as you can see from the quote at the top of this blog.

Mr. Galbraith was one of the most widely read authors in the history of economics; among his 33 books was "The Affluent Society" (1958), one of those rare works that forces a nation to re-examine its values. He wrote fluidly, even on complex topics, and many of his compelling phrases — among them "the affluent society," "conventional wisdom" and "countervailing power" — became part of the language.

An imposing presence, lanky and angular at 6 feet 8 inches tall, Mr. Galbraith was consulted frequently by national leaders, and he gave advice freely, though it may have been ignored as often as it was taken. Mr. Galbraith clearly preferred taking issue with the conventional wisdom he distrusted.

He strived to change the very texture of the national conversation about power and its nature in the modern world by explaining how the planning of giant corporations superseded market mechanisms.